Sometimes I have these really calming experiences when I think that nothing could ever shake my innermost calm. I’m feeling perfectly Zen. Utterly serene. Centered. Relaxed. Happy.
But then something pops up. A call from the school. I accidentally break a piece of antique china from Michael’s grandmother. The pilot light goes out on the brand new fireplace. I stub my third toe. And suddenly, I feel it boiling up inside me and I want to scream “SONOFABITCH!”
Where did all that calmness go? I’ve been trying so hard to be grounded, breathe through the difficult stuff. And with just a few simple life moments, I feel like I’m back to square one. All that spiritual and mental work I’ve been doing is down the drain! Out comes the flurry of expletives. And I’ve completely lost my cool.
But guess what?
No amount of spiritual energy is ever wasted. Ever. It is always a noble, worthy and deserving intention to raise your consciousness and be a person who exudes love, understanding and acceptance.
I’m human. I slip up. The key is that once I do, I forgive myself and remain true to my intentions. I’m not perfect. News flash: no one is. Even those people who seem to float through life on a blessed cloud of bliss.
Last week I was leaving yoga at Oncology Rehab. On my way out, two patients started talking to me about cancer stuff. I go to yoga to let go of cancer stuff. But I got sort of stuck, and I found myself unable to extricate myself. One woman was complaining about the reconstruction process, and she said that we’ve all had our hard times of dealing with it. And then she pointed at me and said, “Except maybe you. You always have that smile plastered on your face.”
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot??
This was one of those times. I was feeling really good about the yoga class we’d just finished — physically, mentally, spiritually. And then this lady comes out of nowhere with an assumption that I never have hard times and that my smile is in some way not genuine. The old me would’ve said something snarky back (and I did kind of have a small passive aggressive moment on the elevator a few minutes later.) I even found myself trying to search for evidence that I’ve had hard times.
But then I realized something.
That comment was all about her. What she said is true: I come to yoga smiling and leave yoga smiling. Why? Because I’m freaking happy! Genuinely happy. I could list “reasons” why. But is that really necessary? It seems weird to have to justify why I’m happy. Because I am, damn it!
So, if this lady is looking for something to judge about me and the worst she can come up with is that I’m always smiling, well, it seems that that is her issue and not mine.
I’m going to continue smiling. I’m grateful for everything I have and am and do, even if I get a little sideways sometimes. Things happen. But as it always has, life goes on.
I found a way to avoid the cancer complaint group after yoga. I simply take off my shoes and socks in a different area from everyone else. That way, at the end of class, I can quietly go to my corner, put them on and walk out. As I pass by the group, I smile, wave and say, “Have a nice night, ladies!”
On Wednesday, I was a patient model at Regis University where my physical therapist teaches students pursuing their doctorate in PT. One part of the three-hour lab was to do a patient history and ask me questions about my experience from diagnosis till now. One student asked me how the process has affected me psychologically.
I told her that when I first discovered the lump, I knew in my gut it wasn’t right. I just wanted an answer — which took nearly 6 weeks! Then I was busy finding my medical team. Once chemo started, I had all the time in the world to ponder all the questions that probably most cancer patients ponder.
I described my overriding attitude to the students like this: If it snows in May, you can sit inside wondering why or complaining about it or even being mad. OR you can lace up your boots and move on with life. I chose the latter.
I explained that my chemo worked amazingly well and I had a complete pathologic response to it. My medical team is amazing. I have wonderful family and friends to support me. So I have a lot to be grateful for.
But I added that there’s a lot that I have done and continue to do for myself: I write a blog, I see a therapist, I see a physical therapist, I get acupuncture, I take Chinese herbs, I practice yoga on and off the mat, I meditate, I read and I practice gratitude.
My wellness is up to ME. I feel that this statement is requisite knowledge for these students to have (but really for everyone to have.) Yes, I need medical care to do the physical part. But my wellness and the active role I play in healing my body, mind and spirit is up to me and no one else.
I could have simply taken chemo, had surgery and completed radiation — and done nothing else. But I don’t half ass things. Really ever. Why start now? I laced up my boots.