Friday, February 14, 2014

Living Your Life from the Place of Beyond

I want to talk with you about life BEYOND.  

What seems like a million years ago, back in October of 2012, I started this blog. I had this idea that openly sharing my own journey might be supportive and healing for other people going through similar journeys, and would probably help me get weave my way through it too.

I called it “Beyond Triple Negative” for some really heartfelt reasons. Chief among them: I believe setting a vision for the future as if it is already happening in present-tense is the surest way to actually reach your goals, and definitely surviving cancer was my #1 goal at the time! Plus, while it called into reality both the verdict I wanted so desperately to hear from my doctors, it also shared the broad-focused mindset I intended to adopt throughout my healing journey. That there was more than just tests and treatments and results. That I was more than that.

I’ve been so amazed by the response to Beyond Triple Negative. It’s reached so many people who I didn’t even realize might benefit from hearing my story, and they in turn have shared their own stories with me. It’s helped me navigate this wacky world of can’t-sir in powerful ways. And, the support and love that’s poured in has only fueled the fire of my commitment to do something to leave this world a little better than I found it.

So, here I sit, post-treatment and well into the next phase of that journey, and it is indeed a place of BEYOND.

Recently, a brilliant friend reminded me that I’d been rather silent on the blog and enquired in her gentle way if I might be about ready to share a little update. My monkey mind rose up and said, “I’m busy doing other stuff right now! I’m BEYOND all that!” When I heard that voice, I knew she was exactly right. 

Because, friends, if you know me at all, you know I’m pretty much always a woman on a mission. A mission to make sure no other person ever goes through can’t-sir feeling like they’re alone. A mission to make sure every person diagnosed with a potentially life-altering or life-ending dis-ease knows that they are still full of possibility and potential. A mission to make sure all of us, diagnoses or no diagnoses, realize that this precious life is our own, with which we have the chance to create, explore and share with others our own wildly unique and extravagant story in full technicolor glory.

To honor that mission, I can’t just leave you all in the dark, standing in the fetid soil of my imagination, wondering what might happen next.

So here goes:

I’ve had so many powerful lessons lately about a story we don’t talk about at all. I noticed it within myself, I see it in others, and whether it is or isn’t present for you, it’s perfectly okay. 

But, here’s the deal: apparently, I’m supposed to be dead.

There. I said it. Phew. It felt awful to be holding that inside. Ugly. Sick. Disgusting. Self-defeating. So, bam! There it is. The burnt crust of my hollowed out heart.

I’m supposed to be dead, and thankfully, miraculously, powerfully, woo-hoo! Guess what!? Yup, I’m ALIVE.

In most of our experiences, and I know this was also true for me once upon a time, people who get cancer just don’t survive it. Even if they do, it’s as if it’s a suddenly temporary thing, as if their expiration date is somehow stamped in big red letters, while everyone else’s is invisible and so somehow less real. So, we spend the entire diagnosis and treatment period and even post-treatment period tiptoeing around and silently saying our goodbyes. In subtle and not-so-subtle ways, whether we are the one diagnosed, or the ones loving and praying for them, we are making our peace with unfathomable loss. 

It’s like we’re all walking around working our way through Death’s twelve-step program, and there isn’t nearly enough coffee to go around.

We try to do a better job talking about our feelings. We pare things down to the essential. We apologize for past wrongs. We pray a lot and make extremely sincere promises. We collect tokens to symbolize our small victories, and somberly wear our ribbons to show our support. We pass a lot of judgments. We work on creating a path in the dark that didn’t exist before. We try to do it all with grace. We definitely do it inside a profound dance of love and fear and hope and doubt and wishing and worrying. We shed a lot of secret tears. We pull ourselves up by our bootstraps. We seek out survivor stories and try to figure out what their secret sauce is, in hopes we can bottle it for mass consumption. Then we stare at living corpses and actual corpses and romanticize dis-ease and dying through Facebook photojournalistic records of other people’s loss and we watch zombie movies and basically wallow around in the muck of being-not-alive until we get so confused about what it is we’re supposed to be doing.

Sometimes, it’s true, people with cancer die. It’s also true that a lot of us live. Both these options are terribly messy affairs. It’s just they come with different soundtracks.

I honor those who’ve gone before me, and I know my own time will come. Thankfully, right now in this moment, I can hold a story of “don’t know when” again, instead of, “probably too soon for my own liking.” But for sure, there’s not a moment in my day I am unconscious of the fact of my own mortality, or insensitive to those for whom the timing of their story is different. But, baby, it BE what it BE.

Death guides my choices today in a way I never truly understood it could. But, it’s not a limiting factor. That’s why I say, I am Beyond. Not through, not over, not after. I am Beyond. Beyond is not a place of weakness. It’s a place of strength.

Go ahead. Read that paragraph again. It’s a purrrr-ty good one.

Especially if you are sitting in the chemo chair right now, with the Benedryl flowing, staring at that giant oversized syringe full of Red Devil in its toxic yellow plastic bag hanging on your IV pole waiting to be administered by a woman who can’t legally be pregnant and must wear two sets of rubber gloves to even touch the chemicals she’s about to administer into your body, and you’re thinking, “What the f-bomb did I just sign myself up for?” 

Especially if you are working through your own version of the chemo chair, which might look more like a job that doesn’t light you up anymore, or a super impossible-feeling relationship, or a loss of certainty around what your life’s purpose is, or a business you started that’s just going anywhere fast. 

Whatever pivot point you find yourself in, you’re there... but you’re also Beyond.

Because you hold that place of Beyond inside you. Beyond is not a destination. It’s a mindset. It’s a heartset. It’s yours to sleep in, play in, create in, love in, live in any time you want. Breathe into your heart and call it up. You may not even feel it. But, it’s there.

My experience of life Beyond is that it’s like drinking a magic elixir on which was written, “Grow”. I’m not worried so much about being afraid, because I know that terror just means I care deeply. I’m willing to fail, because it means I get the chance to try all over again. I spend less time worrying what people think and more time doing stuff that actually matters. I know I have strengths under my scars and that even though I may fall down and break something, I am resilient; I can get back up again. I’m more interested in shining the light than grinding the ax. I believe that everything is happening in divine order. I know that the Universe has my back. I have this wonderful new yardstick that reminds me that every day above ground is a great day.

While I have learned to measure the events of my life in these new ways, it is also my experience that there is no roadmap for living Beyond. There’s just a whole lot of wide open space. There’s just your internal compass, and a great big mess of people who still love you and are going about their lives, just as they should do. Beyond is a sacred space that, when you cultivate it, becomes hallowed ground. In that place, you can create anything you want. Anything at all. 

I’m telling you all this in part because I heard recently from a lovely, well-meaning friend that there are some folks who think I “gave up” on some of the stuff I used to spend a good chunk of my time doing because the bar was set too high for post-cancer me. If that were the case, that’d actually be perfectly okay by me. But, it’s not, so let me say, I love the compassion inherent in that question, but cancer or no cancer, I’ve yet to see a bar set that high. 

In fact, my experience of post-cancer bar-setting is exactly the opposite. My experience is that when people expect you to be dead, the bar is pretty damn low for what they figure you can accomplish now that you’re one foot out of the grave. 

Yes, I had an immediate post-chemo, post-radiation healing period where my brain was a little dull and my body a little tired. That’s normal. But, that didn’t make me quit anything. I put a few things on pause. I left some stuff behind that wasn’t the right fit for me anymore. I made some tough decisions, because that’s what the art of living requires. I didn’t ask for permission and I don’t ask for forgiveness now. I don’t have time for that stuff. I do my best to live according to the principle of “do no harm”, but I honor the fact that there is an urgency in me to BE and DO. It’s an urgency I must honor if I’m to live this gift of life to the fullest.

I’ll be sharing more here on the blog, and in social media, soon about some of the “new stuff” that I’m up to in this place of Beyond, so if you’re curious, keep an eye out. It’s all really fun stuff, at least to my mind, about helping world-changers transcend perceived boundaries and do the amazing work they came here to do. 

The point I want to leave you with today is this: there is so much life available to you when you choose to live from the place of Beyond. No matter what people are telling you today about what’s going to rise up to stop you, just say thanks, and send them some love, and realize, they’re talking about themselves, not you. Only you have the power to write the story of your life.

1 comment:

  1. Cured of TNBC!
    I want to take this time out as a cancer survivor to encourage women out there still suffering from this with my story on how i got a cure. The sad news about it is that i was diagnosed on my 36th birthday in 2008 and with stage 3 TNBC which after i made research was a very aggressive form of cancer at that point i decided and told myself i was going to die and that the end has finally come. All my life i never thought of having breast cancer because i was very active and i worked out at the gym several times every week and my diet was okay. In my search for a cure after 6 years of diagnosis and even after chemo which i did twice spending thousands of dollars but to no avail, until a church member told me all about Dr Aleta a herbal doctor that specializes in treating TNBC, who could help me with a permanent cure, i doubted this at first but i later gave it a try following her methods and instructions. It took 3 months and after it all i felt normal but still went for diagnosis and i was clean today i am proud to say i am a cancer survivor no nodes and i am totally free the new diagnosis confirmed it. Do not die in silence or ignorance reach her on don't be shy just speak to her today.