Tracking Wonder Quest taught me the importance of “sharing my medicine.” This involves claiming what you uniquely offer, and making it visible so others can find you and benefit from it.
That was a discovery for me, to understand that outreach to the larger world isn’t about self-aggrandizement but about making it possible to serve others.
As I share my medicine with others, I continue to take it as well, recently in larger doses. I’m just beginning treatment for breast cancer, a time of increased demand and stress in my life. Here’s what I’ve prescribed for myself during this time. It’s helping me cope. May this medicine also help you cope in times of increased stress and difficulty.
1. It’s Not Selfish to Save 10% for You.
In presentations and one-on-one sessions, I am apt to comment that “I’ve learned to save 10% for me. Ten percent of my time, energy and money is reserved to replenish myself. And I’ve learned this isn’t selfish. I have to take care of the one involved in all the doing and giving in order to be able to continue.
The phrase “10% for me” shows up often enough on my workshop evaluations and in participants’ verbal feedback to let me know it is one of the most meaningful ideas gained during the session.
“Why only 10%?” a workshop participant recently asked, laughing as she said it. Right! That’s a metaphor, and one that’s do-able to begin with. Take enough medicine to help you cope with your current situation. In times of high stress and increased demand on body and mind, increase the dose as needed.
2. You Don’t Have to Be Happy and Positive All The Time.
Yes, there are bright sides and things to be grateful for when times are tough. Sometimes they’re obvious. Other times you have to go prospecting for them.
But there are dark sides too, and they’re real. So are the uncomfortable and sometimes painful emotional responses that go with them.
It’s a mistake to adopt a relentlessly positive attitude that refuses to admit to this reality. It’s a mistake to allow yourself to get so mired in the negative that you lose sight of gratitude, wonder and hope. Find ways to focus attention on the positive. Find ways to feel and express the negative. Find ways to accept what you can’t change, and mobilize ways to cope with the true difficulties.
Here;s how I’ve been taking my own medicine on this one. Ginger (see below) suggested trying Buddhify, an app that introduces you mindfulness meditation, offering brief, guided sessions focusing on array of interests and circumstances. Many of it’s meditations have been helpful to me when I need to replenish my stores of peace, acceptance and resilience. I have also scheduled an appointment with a social worker available to patients at GBMC. I’ve realized that in addition to writing and to talking with supportive friends and family, I need something else. I believe she’ll be able to provide it.
3. Listen to Your Body.
Your body sends signals of discomfort, pain, fatigue, and of energy, health and well-being. Both kinds of signals need to be interpreted carefully.
Keeping this in mind, when I feel well-rested and energized, I am active and working, but not full-steam-ahead style. I find that responding to these signs of well-being as I did pre-treatment can cause me to cross over from energized to exhausted. The message is, keep doing what you love and what gives life meaning. But take naps and slow it down as needed.
Signals of distress can also be be tricky to interpret. They can indicate a physical issue, an emotional issue , or both. Some recent physical signals have helped me acknowledge that I’m close to the edge of my coping capacity. Their message: It’s time to take additional stress reduction measures. I’m letting this message guide me in learning what more I can do to cope effectively for the short and long haul.
Here’s what I’ve been doing to support well-being and reduce stress. I’ve acknowledged there are limits as to how much of this I can take care of by myself. I exercise moderately and within my changing capacity. I’m also working with personal trainer Ginger Wanko, to help reduce anticipated post-treatment physical challenges. I am working with herbal and nondual Kabbalistic healer Sara Eisenberg, and acupuncturist Kristen LaSor to get support for body and mind. I’ve consulted with a dietitian.These are steps that help me respond to the messages from my body.
4. Let Other Helpers Help You.
I’m comfortable in the role of helper, but not so much in the role of the one who needs help. Comfortable or not, I do need help now, perhaps more so than at any other point in my life. Luckily, that help is available in abundance.
I am grateful for that, saying “yes” to it, prompting myself to ask for it, and practicing being gracious in and okay with my unaccustomed help-receiver role.
Taking this medicine is helping me cope with the challenges I’m facing right now. Perhaps some of this medicine will also be helpful to you when you face the unexpected, or experience heightened stress and demand on your resources. Let me know if it is, or tell me about other ideas that work for you. Feel free to share this post with others who would find it helpful.
Contact me to be added to my Keys to Change Facebook group, where we get prompts to help us discuss self-care, hope, getting unbusy, gratitude, and supporting our well being. This is a free group, and it’s closed, meaning that only members see posts and comments.