The word perspective has come in to mind a lot lately. It’s an intention I have taught myself to learn over the last 6 years but even more so after the last 2. I truly believe our perspective in any situation, can completely change the way we cope and move forward. How I cope with and perceive my situation is what impacts my level of depression and anxiety. If I can manage to put things in to perspective, it provides a sense of calmness within my mind.
That being said, I want to write about that today. Perspective. For me, when things seem really bad, I’m able to center myself on how I choose to perceive that moment in my life. I want to be clear when I say that I would never wish what I have gone through the last couple of years on anyone! My hope is that I share a new perspective with you, from someone you know, from someone whose story you have possibly read, from a 30 something year-old who was relatively healthy despite having cancer. What might seem like the worst possible thing to happen to any one of us, doesn’t have to be if you have the ability, or take the time to simply change your perspective. I am, by no means, a master and at times I fail royally at doing this, however, when the effort is put forth, I find it incredibly rewarding for my mind, body, and spirit. Asking myself why is this happening FOR me, instead of why is happening TO me, is a daily conversation I have with myself. Why did I get cancer? ME? WHY ME? I can dwell on that or I can answer the question with a perspective that only radiaites positivity. Why did this happen to me? It happened to me because I was meant to experience a life altering illness, to learn who I am, to share that experience with others, and to help others who will walk that same path. It happened so that I could create a platform for so many women to connect, to bring a community together, to empower other women. Thats why it happened. It didn’t happen because God was mad at me or because I did something wrong. I am a firm believer in the saying, “positive perspective, positive outcome”.
I can only imagine we are all processing what is going on in the world much different than the person sitting next to us. While many of us are trying to figure out a new routine, others may be trying to figure out a way to stay busy, and others may be taking this time to slow down. Many of us might be experiencing anxiety which can easily filter over to depression. I have personally had my own moments there. I feel anxiety knowing that there is something out there that could kill me other than cancer. I feel anxiety knowing people are out there spreading a virus and wont listen or acknowledge the orders set forth. I feel anxiety knowing I cant control those people, and those people, who I don’t even know, might be responsible for my own health. I feel anxiety knowing that the things I would normally do to cope with my anxiety aren’t available to me right now. Not being able to cope with my anxiety in the ways that I have taught myself to, is a slippery slope, and one that I am doing my best to avoid. This is where I choose perspective.
There have been several moments in my life that I was sure it couldn’t get any worse than it already was. When I had cancer the first time, I thought I was dying. I specifically remember laying in my bed one night and my heart was racing so fast from all of the meds, and I was sure that was it; I prayed, and simply said I wasn’t ready yet. At 105 pounds, bald, and sick, I thought that was as bad as it could ever get, but just a short of 5 years later, I’d realize it was about to get much worse. In all honesty, I tried really hard to stay positive and tell myself it was a slipped disc from all the working out I had been doing. The pain escalated so quickly and in matter of days, I’d be paralyzed. I can very truthfully tell you, that the pain I was experiencing was so incredibly awful, that I almost didn’t care if it was my time. There truly are no words that could express the level of pain and fear I experienced. Imagine going through all of that, and then being told you have an incurable disease. Looking back, I’m glad it wasn’t the end and I’m obviously very blessed and happy to have recovered. To say that time in my life was life changing, is a complete understatement. It was a moment in time. From start to finish, it was about 8 months of not being able to do much of anything between the pain and chemotherapy. Life: the life that I enjoyed, the life that I knew, the life that I did my best to create, was all taken away from me in a matter of a moment.
In some ways, I very much relate that experience to what we are all experiencing right now. Life, as we knew it about a month ago, has been, for lack of a better term, “taken away from us”. Many of us can’t work. Many of us are being forced to slow down. Many, if not, all of us, are very scared for what the future holds, whether it be the fear of life never returning back to normal or the fear of getting sick. I wake up every single day and I am reminded I have cancer. It’s not just a nightmare, its real, I have an incurable cancer. Imagine that for a moment. Imagine how that might impact the attitude that I go in to every day with. We are all waking up right now with the fear of the unknown, the fear of this virus. We are all making adjustments and the hardest thing for us to accept is the idea that we have no control. While that may be true in some ways, it is not all true. What we DO have control over, is how we choose to perceive what is happening and how we choose to move in to the next moment. By moment, I mean, the very next moment, minute, hour, or day. It’s as simple as saying, “I don’t want to feel this way anymore. What can I do to feel differently?”
If the emotions that consume you are ones of anxiety, depression, confusion, anger, sadness, etc…those are the emotions that are going to determine the day ahead. I’m not saying don’t go there, I’m asking you to not stay there. Feel it, physically let it go, and come to a place of acceptance that this is where we are right now. What can YOU do to change your perspective? What can YOU do to find the positivity, or the silver lining if you will, in this? Personally, I have found SO many. I hate being locked up like this. It sucks! Its not me and I’m even more angry that I can’t just go live my best life, travel, visit my friends and my family, and that I am completely quarantined, while I’m battling cancer. Now I have to sit here and do nothing??? Yes. Will I? No. I choose to change what I am doing. I choose to make the best of these new and current circumstances. But what does that look like? For me, it looks like going on a bike ride outside, learning to play my ukulele thats been sitting in my closet for months, spending good quality time with my husband, and having awesome conversations with so many amazing friends.
Perspective: a particular attitude toward or way of regarding something; a point of view.
We are not suffering, we are growing. We are not being tormented, we are being taught. Are we being taught patience? Are we being taught how simple it might be to feel happiness amidst the chaos of our every day routines? How can we take this time to grow? Is it learning to slow down and spend more time with the ones you love? Is it realizing how important, how special it is, how MEANINGFUL it is to have conversations with our loved ones that we may have been too busy to have otherwise? Is it having the time to take that 5 minutes to feel the wind blowing, or watch the water flowing, or your dog rolling in the grass and the simple happiness that brings him. Why is it so difficult for many of us to find those simply joys? It’s times like these that we are forced to come together to help one another, to love one another, to truly appreciate one another. How incredibly amazing is that???
I’m not preaching. I’m teaching you what perspective means to me. This is what I’ve learned the past couple of years. I do not enjoy what is going on right now, but what I do enjoy is that we have all been given this time to slow down, to look around us, and to acknowledge and feel how simple life can be. Happiness is simple if you allow it to be. It doesn’t have to be complicated. We make it complicated.
My hope is that when this is all over, we are more connected, more patient with ourselves and one another, and that we live a life full of simple gratitude. I hope we can learn to feel the serenity of being present and knowing that most of this life we are blessed with is beyond our control. I hope we have shared stories and so much time with our families that it becomes our new routine. I hope we find comfort and acceptance within ourselves. Most importantly, I hope we can all take this time to give ourselves the privilege of seeing this life we have been given with a new perspective. You owe that to yourself. You owe yourself happiness. You owe yourself peace. You deserve it. We all deserve it and we are all capable of it. Trust me, one day you will look back at all of this, and realize it was just a moment in time, a blip on the map of your life. Perspective: Do you see a weed, or do you see a wish? Perspective: Is this storm here to disrupt your life, or clear your path? Perspective: Is this happening TO us or FOR us?
What I love the most about perspective, is that it’s MY choice. I get to choose and control what that looks like for me. I get to choose how I will move in to the next moment of my life, and I implore you to do the same. I encourage and challenge you to seek and find hope in knowing the sun will always shine again.