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Human Connection

There’s a moment that happens in your life when you take stock of your relationships and what they mean to you. Who’s been there? Who really shares your core values? Who can you turn to when you need a connection?

Thinking about what all that means can be overwhelming. Because when you begin to think about those things, you begin to think about the journey of your life and who you really are.

Let’s face it. We’re living life right now so that we get likes on FB and Instagram. We’re putting out a false sense of self to the world that we’re always having a great time. Who’s Insta story is better than mine? It’s vicious FOMO and a hollow existence. It projects to the world that we’re not only ok, but that we’re thriving.

I’m sorry to burst the bubble, but your Instagram life is not who you really are. Your perfect food dish, or a picture of the latest sponsored product isn’t real. We’ve been taken over by fake perfectionism and social media influencers, who get paid sometimes, six to seven figures for one post. Hoping that you’ll go out and buy the product.

What condition does this cause? It’s isolating, and it stifles our own self discovery. Instagram doesn’t have a soul. You’re not having a real conversation with people when someone comments on your post.

I’m guilty of being in the social media world. I post on FB and Instagram. I try to keep it to things that have touched me or subjects that mean something to my soul. But a cat picture slips in every once in a while too.

I’m beginning to discover what I’m feeling as we go through the changes this country has gone through in the past couple of years, that people are trying to find their joy. For many, it the shallow world of social media. For many, like myself, it’s where does my soul fit in?

In these times of disconnection, where I’ve experienced being bullied on social media, where do we go for connection and true deep conversation? I go to my spouse, my family, and a few really close friends.

It’s hard to find deep connection. So many are phone addicted, that they connect through a text or a FB message. That’s a connection with a wall up that keeps the humanity out of the conversation.

For me, picking up the phone and hearing the voice of the person I’m communicating with is paramount. I want us both to be heard. Every nuance in the tone of our voices. Every crackle of emotion and the laughter in real audible tones. Not an LOL.

Sometimes, I’d really prefer our conversations to be in person. There is truly nothing better than a physical element with the people you’re connecting to. The hug hello, the few hours of conversation without the interruption of the phone. You know, how we used to do it.

There no greater joy for me then sitting with my family and holding my Great-Niece in my arms and chatting with the family members in the room about life. At that moment the connection is so real that hearts overflow. You can feel it in the energy in the room.

If we lose these moments, we will lose the true purpose of our lives. The connection between souls.

We’re an angry society right now. For so many reasons. Good reasons. Righteous reasons. And we do have to fight to maintain our very right to be who we are. We can’t turn our backs on that.

Let’s start by not turning our backs on our own selves. Give yourself the honor of knowing you have a soul that needs to be nurtured. And it needs connection. In real, deep ways that help heal that disconnect we’ve come to accept in our society.

Don’t text. Call. Visit in person when you can. Connect to the people you need in your life. The ones who’ll teach you what life and love are about. The more we share those lessons, the more we can silence the anger with action and true personal interaction.

March if you don’t agree with what’s going on. Don’t just send money and move on. March and feel the togetherness of a crowd of people in it together. The energy is palpable. That’s connection in motion. With your core. That’s the real you. Not Instagram you.

That what true connection is. Coming together for a common cause that lifts the community. Not to take it down.

Remember Sunday dinners? They barely exist anywhere anymore. Life before cell phones and social media. We talked. We laughed. There was connection.

Social media isn’t all bad. But you have to find the ways to use it for good. Don’t put a fake you out there. Suicide rates are rising. Why? In many cases it’s because of social media bullying, isolation, and the comparing our lives to the ones on content platforms. Those lives aren’t real. The content is planned and scripted. It’s not spontaneous. It’s no longer a window into a moment in others’ lives. It’s a window into who they want you to think they are.

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Shine Like A Diamond

Here we are on a Saturday night. My Wife is watching Harry Potter, and I’m about to watch something on Netflix.

In my never ending quest to not feel useless in these circumstances I’ve been handed, I ask my Wife, “Are you ever mad I can’t work? Or that I sit and watch Netflix?” She answered quickly, “No. I’ve never felt that way.” Then I replied with, “It’s so hard because sometimes I feel like such a lump of coal.”

She quickly replied, “That’s ok, remember, coal turns into diamonds.”

I hope you all have a love like I do.

When Free is Your Goal

We all love a bargain. Don’t we? The thrill of a little something special that didn’t cost a thing. They say in this world that everything has a price. I must admit, I’ve been a believer in that. Too good to be true.

Free. It has so many meanings. Free stuff. I’m free of that relationship. Free speech. I feel free. A prisoner gains their freedom. Today I want to talk about being cancer free.

That is certainly the kind of free that comes with a cost. All the treatments and surgeries. The loss of relationships because some can’t handle illness. The beauty of a friend understanding exactly what you mean when you say you’re cancer free and thriving.

It’s not a conceited Napoleonic stance of hey, I’ve beaten down the army that tried to kill me, so now I’ll sit back in my glorious glow while I sit and absorb the congratulations of my peers and friends.

The truth of the matter is for a few minutes those of us who’ve been so damned lucky to hear the words cancer free live in it for moments at a time. Because when diagnosed time stood still. So much to work out regarding daily living, we didn’t have time to let it all in. It’s kind of the same when cancer free is the new phrase you’re hearing. But dammit, that’s a moment to say yeah, I’ve changed those habits I needed to change to get better. And I’ve made the choice to live.

At lunch today with my gorgeous friend Lia, who’s inside beauty is by far her greatest attribute. And that’s saying something, because she is one beautiful woman on the outside as well. She gets it. She gets me. We get each other. We marveled today at the words cancer free and how positive energy has such a big part in that process. Not fighting the disease, but learning how to treat it as a part of you that needs to be kept calm so that the immunology drugs can do their work and keep the internal anger that causes all kinds of disease under control and therefore the inflammation that triggers cancer at bay.

Immunology is the future of the cure, and the trials are happening. Don’t fool yourself. If you get cancer now, you’ve got a better chance of surviving and thriving than at any other time in history.

Life is worth grabbing a hold of. Because happiness is free if you choose it. But you have to choose it. Because disease in this fast paced world wants to eat you up and spit you out.

There’s an old saying, the best things in life are free. It’s so true. Love, friendship and cancer free. That’s the best thing in life I’ve heard so far.

Without a Choice

Today I was speaking on the phone with my oncology social worker, Katie, when I had an epiphany. I thought I’d share.

Since my diagnosis of cancer last year, and the subsequent months that have been filled with medical calamities and complications, I’ve been trying to find ways to fill my time. Asking myself, “Why am I so bored?” “Why, at times am I depressed?” “Bluer than blue?” Unable to get it together enough to go downstairs to get the mail.

There are days when I feel broken. Not whole. Wondering, will I ever be a contributing member of society again? I’ve applied to school and been rejected. Ok, so it was Harvard. But, why not dream big?

I’m still looking at other schools because I need to keep my brain sharp and learn. Curiosity is the keeper of wonder. It allows the light in.

What came to me today is that my departure from the workforce due to medical reasons wasn’t a planned retirement. I was trying to stay alive. I was hit by a truck, a wall, and a ton of bricks all in one year. Most people plan for their retirement to be later in life. Not in their mid fifties. And not with a broken body.

Forced retirement was never my plan. I wanted to work until I dropped at my desk.

Maybe now I can stop beating myself up for not understanding why I’ve been upset for a long time. Forced to watch life go by in a completely different way than you thought, isn’t easy. I’d throw in John Lennon’s infamous life quote about plans, but I think we’ve all heard it before.

Light bulbs moments are huge leaps of growth. I feel like I just learned an amazing new life lesson.

Not bad for a Summer Friday.

Pleasing Isn’t Always A Pleasure

I’m a people pleaser. There I said it. It’s out there in the universe. I cringe when I think someone doesn’t like me. I always have. Funny thing is, I don’t even know the reason. I could guess at a few. But at my age, does it matter?

It’s a habit I need to let go of. So what if everyone doesn’t like you? Is that the reason I’ll die on the day when death is at my door? I hardly think so. But it may very well bring on the stress that makes situations worse than they are.

I do believe that being a people pleaser brings me to my knees at times. My choices in life should never be based on whether someone likes me or not. But sometimes they are. And on this day, I’m choosing to do something about it.

First thing on the list, is realizing this IS a choice. Most people do care in some way whether they’re liked or not. Otherwise, why would we ask how we look or seek out the answers to the infamous questions? Do I look fat in this? How’s my hair? And so on.

To truly give up what others think of you, means to risk being criticized, talked about and to not give a fuck. Well today is the day of the beginning of my Zero Fuck stage in my life.

If you’re my friend, then you’re my friend. It’s not based on superficial reasons. It’s because we’ve done the work to learn about each other. To care about each other. You’re not going to stop being my friend because I make a choice that doesn’t affect you. If it does, I’ll talk to you about it. I’m talking about things like where do I go on vacation or what charity to support. Not about whether you should have children or not. There’s superficial and then there’s real.

I want to begin to live my life in my lane and my way. Without wondering if there’ll be backlash because I choose to do one thing over another. It’s my life. Why should others have a voice in it? As a cancer patient I have enough people telling me what to do and when to do it. If we’re to truly believe in the right to pursue happiness, why is my happiness always on the back burner?

I’m a damn people pleaser. That’s why.

Life is short. People pleasing is tiring. I may have less friends because of it, but they weren’t really friends in the first place if they want that type of control. Life is even shorter than you think. I’m gonna go do me now.

I’m still going to be of service. That doesn’t change. It’s just where and with whom being of service is. It’s my choice. Time is the only true commodity we as people own that we give to others. I’ve forgotten that in that equation is time for me.

People pleasers don’t usually take time for themselves. My clock has two hands. One for you and one for me. It’s time to start using mine. Before it’s too late.

Finding Purpose

Cancer free! The words you long to hear. What does it really mean? It really means until the next test, you can breathe and allow yourself to live your life to the fullest. To understand the phrase, you first have to understand that once you’ve had cancer, you’re never free again. There will always be tests, monitoring of your blood, PET scans, MRIs, CT scans and all sorts of tests that feel more like biology experiments, than life. The scariest of all tests. The PET scan! The one that looks for spread of the cancer cells.

“Cancer free”. The chains loosen their grip for a time and you can get back to a normal way of life. Depending on how normal your life was before. LOL.

I’ve probably had more needles in me than a junkie on skid row in the 70’s. Mine are clean and disease free, but needles nonetheless.

My core muscles have been cut more the sliced deli turkey. Your core is the centre of your body. Your balance is derived from the core and so, until that heals, if it ever fully does, I’ll have to be careful not to go too fast and fall.

What’s your normal? Mine right now is walking around the house, working a bit at my desk, pretending I can work an office job and rest. My body never seems to have enough rest.

I want so much to find purpose and to share my experience so that others understand what we go through. It’s not a one and done deal. It’s a long process to try and regain who you were physically.

Mentally, you’ll never be the same. I feel more grateful for my time here on Earth. Everyday is a gift and a way to give back. I search for ways to spread information. This blog included. I look for ways to quiet my fear. I’m hoping that the more time passes, the more I can handle the fear. I look for ways to raise funds for cancer research. So many people don’t want to talk about it.

How can you make people believe that cancer doesn’t rub off on other people and you can’t get it from touch. It’s this kind of ignorance I’d like to speak about. I’d love to go around to groups and talk about my experiences with this journey so far. If anyone has any ideas, feel free to chime in and get in touch. I’m really looking to connect with people who are willing to use the experience to empower people in daily life.

It’s time we realized that cancer is an awakening. A chance to grow. Forced or not, it’s a real chance to get your shit straight in a meaningful way. To learn your boundaries. Your needs. Your desires.

Cancer is still just a word that describes a condition. It’s not who you are.

I’m so grateful that mine was caught in time. So I’m “cancer free”. At least until I’m not. I may never get it again. But it helps me keep my focus on each day. We’re all dying. We’re all terminal. By the very fact that we’re alive, we get a clock that starts ticking the day we’re born. How will you use your ticking time bomb?

If you’d like to donate to my journey to wellness and to help others in their journeys, please click here to donate to my walk fund. It’s a road to a purposeful life.