RUSHING AND MORE RUSHING
The first time I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015, I said to myself that it takes a knock out to slow me down. This is usually my approach to sickness; flus, colds, strep throat- for people like me who are super active and generally energized, it usually takes something like this to slow me the fuck down. My body knows when I need this. It usually weakens when it wants me to know it is time to lie around on the couch eating macaroni and cheese and chicken soup watching Julia Roberts and Sandra Bullock movies. I felt like the first round with a “we caught it early” breast cancer diagnosis as frightened as I was gave me that necessary free pass to stop.
I like lessons. I really thought this was going to be one of those experiences that would teach me to stop the rushing so when I found myself this past week flying to the doctor’s office, heart racing because I thought my appointment was at two, but it was at 12:30, I scolded myself. I have been rushing. Flying around to get to a workout class or an appointment or some activity I have put in my calendar. I don’t like that heart racing moving fast feeling like I am late for something, like I have over committed, over scheduled myself for no other reason than an open schedule. Something suffers. I suffer. But in doing in so much, I actually never feel like I am doing much.
I laugh at myself writing this because I do a lot, but the question I pose is am I doing what feeds me when I am doing all of this running around. The irony is that I can just as easily stop without the excuse of an illness, but the breast cancer diagnosis and the discovery of the BRCA 2 gene have propelled me into an unconscious state of flurry. I am sure it is because of the sense of urgency to get shit done with a fury because it feels like a first and second chance to live fully. This means getting rid of the cobwebs, the crap that has accumulated and leave only what I love behind. My friend, Lisa Griffith, rockstar professional organizer, (I suggest her to anyone who needs to declutter- she is a gem) has explained to me that what I see in my house should only be the things that make me happy. This is Feng Shui 101 too. For example, let’s say I have a picture or a piece of art up in my house that each time I see, it gives me a sense of sadness or dread or an other than joyful emotion, it simply shouldn’t be there. Easier said than done. I have paintings and items in my house that are from my great grandparents who made their way from Russia, or Ireland or Scotland to escape the many plights that were part of their times. These immigrants in the early 1900’s didn’t have time to contemplate their busy ness and they surely didn’t have excessive shit in their homes to contemplate whether to hang on to or not. They had to get to work, learn English, assimilate into a brand new culture and figure out how to survive in their new surroundings. I have their things that they bought because of their successful journey to here and I cherish them. But where will they go? I realize that I live in luxury just by the notion that I get to contemplate.
When I finished watching the marathon of news about the hurricanes between Houston and Florida, I thought about this home full of stuff and I knew once again that there was just too much of it. Cancer brings you to your knees, but a hurricane of the magnitude we just witnessed is not even in my radar. Talk about more pressure of the sense of urgency as living in New England we discuss the weather constantly. “We’re due for a big one,” becomes the new mantra as I make my way through my days. Talk about negative affirmation. But New Englanders have an innate pragmatism to their days especially their weather. I love that rawness about being a New Englander, but as I think about my stuff again through the eyes of a hurricane, I am in awe of how much I still have even after a truckload carted away by J’s Junk. One thing I learned from cancer is how sentimental I was I no longer am. My grandfather always comments on my emotional existence collecting every item from my grandparents and great grandparents over the years thinking that I was some keeper for all of my much younger cousins. It turns out that none of them seem to want all of this emotional sentiment and my son surely doesn’t either. It turns out that it seems when you grow up in a relatively stable home by somewhat stable parents, the pull of hanging on to sentiment doesn’t really exist. Now that I have the glorious satisfaction of having that stable home and being a good parent to my son, he has that sturdy foundation, that jumping off point that doesn’t need the stuff to help him feel secure or less abandoned.
I create that rushed feeling and I realize I don’t need to. There is nothing to rush for. I am alive. My son is alive. I have a home, a successful life and the sense of urgency is just one more thing to shed in my incessant need to blast through my day rather than stay in it. The lessons in rushing reflection for me are that I don’t have to. I can redirect my energy to satisfy the internal compass by slowing down by choice rather than trauma. If I can manage to say no and keep my schedule empty even for a few days, I am sure there are sweet nuggets in the depths of the open calendar I have yet to realize. What I do know about the rushing feeling is that it does not nourish my soul or my spirit. I have started taking yoga again because this is one ninety minute chunk of my day I know nourishes. Slowing down and noticing the world, my garden, my life, this nourishes. I need more of this and recognizing the need to slow down is certainly the first step in doing so.