Almost a year ago I found out I had cancer. It was quite the way to start the year. It was the impetus to start a blog – the frustration could go nowhere else, so it went into writing. You can read about it here. In the ensuing 11 months since the diagnosis, I went through surgery and recuperation. I was among the fortunate who recuperated from just the surgery and avoided both chemo and radiation. Looking back on this year is taking on a more significant tone.
Gratitude has become one of the mainstays in my life this year. Yea, it was there before, but I’ve never had something this close to a really bad situation in my life. Maybe a close call or two on the bicycle, but it was something that passed quickly. This year I’ve found taking the time to be grateful for a particular experience is an important tool to moving beyond the experience itself to something that then provides value to me as I live my life forward.
After I was able to get back out walking the dog and riding my bicycle, I found myself asking ‘what does this experience mean to me?’ It was in the quiet rides up steep hills and riding by myself along the flat roads where I began to naturally fall into a place of thankfulness. It just happened. No expectations, I simply would find myself there. As I rode or walked along taking the time to feel the gratitude, I began to recognize this feeling isn’t the kind you profess at Thanksgiving dinner, but a much deeper sense of peace and acceptance. It was only from this place that I was able to move forward and recognize the cancer wasn’t going to kill me, but redirect me and my life.
From the new place of peace and acceptance, I could open myself up to questions about ‘what does the experience of cancer mean to me?’ In looking at this question multiple times over this last year I found myself starting to move away from all the beliefs I had about myself and begin rethinking ‘who am I?’ I have so many beliefs about who I am and how I needed to conduct myself that I began to see the many opportunities I missed out on or would miss out on in the future if I didn’t update some of my beliefs. In directing a critical eye toward myself I began to see things about myself I wanted to change, but before now didn’t have the self-awareness to change it.
I’ve always been able to speak frankly and have often not missed an opportunity, but in looking at myself and thinking about how others view me, I had a chance to relook at myself. As you guessed, it wasn’t always pleasant, but by taking a look at myself from another’s perspective, I’ve come to value myself differently. I try not to speak first but let others go first. I’ve begun to notice how I value their perspective more which has enabled me to learn more about views different from my own.
By taking the time to open up to myself, I have set the bar in a different place for 2018.