“Untamed”

Throughout this whole blogging experience, the majority of my posts have focused on my own personal experiences.

Lately, I kept seeing the book “Untamed” by Glennon Doyle pop up on the Best Seller’s List, and see friends post about it on social media. Now, I’m a sucker for True Crime novels and really didn’t think “Untamed” would be my cup of tea. So, I didn’t look into it until last night.

In the last year or so I’ve been buying audiobooks. Despite my love of holding an actual book in my hand, I cannot focus on those like I can an audiobook. Whatever damage my brain suffered over these last six years, I just cannot read a physical book anymore. It almost pains me, but a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do. So I now have quite the collection of audiobooks. And yes, I have an Audible subscription.

More to the point, I decided to see what all the fuss was about and bought the “Untamed” audiobook. Admittedly, I have not even finished it yet. However, I’m going to buy the physical book because I want to underline, highlight and make SO many notes in the margins!

As I listen to the audiobook, I want to constantly scream out, “Yes!” I purposely began listening to it on my iPad with phone in-hand, so that I could utilize the microphone and repeat quotes into my “Notes” App. Of course, I have to rewind the audiobook multiple times to get the full quote. Hence, it completely disrupts the flow of the book.

Even if I never finish the book, which just simply will not happen, Glennon Doyle has already taught me so much.

I hesitate to use the word “lessons” because I feel it implies that Doyle is preaching to her readers, which I don’t believe she is at all. Blame my catholic school upbringing, I suppose! Nevertheless, the stories and “lessons” about pain have provided me with a whole new outlook.

No spoilers here, I hope.

One thing Doyle emphasizes is to, “Feel it all.” In other words, it’s OK to feel all the “stuff you are feeling”. As she herself comes to realize, “feelings are for feeling-even the hard ones”. As humans, we are supposed to feel everything! Pain is included in that.

Despite the endless pharmaceutical ads that try to convince us otherwise, sometimes we’re meant to feel sad, depressed, overwhelmed, etc. Now, let me be clear-clinical depression and/or a mental health disorder is not what I’m talking about here. With that being said, sometimes we have really sh@tty days or weeks, maybe even months. Although they’re obviously not enjoyable, those days, weeks, and/or months are simply part of the human experience.

Once we realize this, and don’t just turn to a pill or booze (or whatever harmful means people find) to numb the pain, we can fully live. Again, as Doyle states, “Feel it all!” Further, she emphasizes that we need pain “to become”. Now, this may sound totally ambiguous and vague. Maybe even a little hippy-dippy. Yet, she uses two fantastic examples to clarify her point.

One image of the Buddha

Doyle briefly discusses the Buddha. He was actually born a prince. He literally lived like royalty – a very, very comfortable life. However, when he was 29 years old he snuck out of his palace only to find poverty, sickness and death. He had been shielded from this his entire life. So he chose to leave his life of riches to seek enlightenment. After a long search, he went into a deep meditation and found that enlightenment. Thus, he realized that his “conditioned experiences” could not provide lasting happiness or protection from suffering. He had to experience all emotions to find true joy. He even had to experience pain.

Another strong example Doyle points to is Jesus. Regardless of your faith, Jesus is historically believed to have been indeed a real man. Whether your faith teaches you he was our Lord and Savior is 100% yours to feel and believe. I frankly believe that all religions have their validity, unless a religion teaches harm to others. Fundamentalists are present in every religion.

Depictions of Jesus

Back to the point, in discussing pain Doyle states that Jesus walked straight to his crucifixion. He was not afraid of pain, as it is part of our life on Earth.

In utilizing these two examples, her concept that “pain is magic” becomes more clear and understandable.

The concept that truly struck me, given all I’ve been through these last 6 years, is:

“I can feel everything and survive”

She comes to the realization that she can “survive again and again”. After that momentous realization, she naturally became less fearful. Phew! If that’s not an epiphany I don’t know what is!

Now, I’ve read multiple Deepak Chopra, Eckhart Tolle, Gabby Bernstein, Mitch Albom, and other widely respected authors who write about the human condition and our life’s purpose. I listen to guided meditations. I’ve been to wellness events and retreats. Yet, something about how Doyle discusses the purpose of pain (something I’m constantly focused on) just resonated so clearly.

Doyle elaborates on this further, stating that:

“You can survive pain, and feel it all, and still survive…What I thought would kill me didn’t…I was wrong”

In her personal journey, Doyle finds that:

“Pain is the fuel of revolution!”

She further explains that if you know the pain is present, you also know “the rising” will come and welcome you. I understand that to essentially mean:

Always remember the pain will eventually end. You will get through it and in fact, be a stronger, better person for having gone through it.

People constantly ask how I’ve gone through all that I have and continued to remain so positive. I think Glennon Doyle has summed it up pretty darn well in “Untamed”.

Now I’ve got to go and finish the rest of her book.

Weekly Gratitude Quotes

Weekly Gratitude Quotes

@habitnest has a fantastic Gratitude Journal, which is a” 66-day, fully guided journal” that helps you build a gratitude practice for life!” (Trust-I am in NO way a paid advertiser for this company; one day I’ll be that influential, but for now, I’m happy just to write about their product). FYI If you click the image below it will take you directly to their site.

One exercise is to write a “weekly “gratitude” quote, and put the quote somewhere you will see it every day.

So, I have decided to add this as a new category to this Blog.

Part of the Habit Nest Journal’s philosophy is that we all mess up, essentially. The important lesson is that you recognize you forgot and/or neglected to follow the consistent daily/weekly readings and exercises. Thus, if I do not provide a quote here every single consistent week, it’s okay. None of us are perfect and we all have to learn to forgive ourselves more. Be gentle to ourselves and not our own worst enemy. So, if I skip a week here and there, I’m not going to beat myself about it.

I’d encourage everyone to do this. Join me. Let’s see how consistent we can be!

Week One

QUOTE “You already have everything you need to be happy” courtesy of the folks at Habit Nest, as shown below.

Week Two

QUOTEMy body is incredible. It works on its own, without my effort. I will pay attention to how much I appreciate this vessel that is bringing me through the world.” again courtesy of the folks at Habit Nest.

This is very appropriate for this week before I go into surgery Number 7 on January 17th. I’m going to need to have a shunt (think a permanent catheter) placed into my my brain that will lead down into my stomach/intestinal area, so all the fluid that’s constantly filling into the cavity present in my brain caused by the tumors, tumor removal, radiation, etc.

Week Three

QUOTE “What if we were willing to acknowledge our own hurt and pain, and in doing so make sure not to diminish the hurt and pain of others? We could change the world.” Brene Brown

I’m writing this a little late in the week. Yay know, brain surgery kinda got in the way… However, this quote is so valuable to remember at this stage of my life.

I’ve been experiencing tremendous physical pain, and quite a lot of mental/emotional pain. I don’t think ANYONE could say it’s easy to go through your 7th brain surgery. I’m depressed sitting in the hospital without being able to just sleep in my own bed, snuggle on the couch with my husband and our dog, and relax in the bathtub. Hell, I’d just like to use the bathroom without someone watching!

I can definitely say, after all I’ve been through, I try my very best to be cognizant of other people’s pains and struggles. I’m not perfect. Sometimes I should be more patient. On the flip side, let’s be honest… some people really are just a-holes.

However, to add to the A-mazing Brene Brown’s quote above, “You never know what someone else is going through.” Maybe the person who cut you off on the highway is racing to get to the bedside of a dying loved one? Perhaps that store clerk was kinda rude because she’s exhausted working 2 jobs just to feed her kids because she had to escape an abusive husband? The list goes on and on.

I can say, I am living proof of this concept. People are literally shocked when they see me and I tell them what I’ve gone through. I could not begin to count the amount of times I’ve heard, “But you look so great” or “You’d never know by just looking at you”

So, let’s change the world! Let’s be just a bit more compassionate. Remember. That stranger next to you on the bus or subway, your server at lunch, or even a close friend could be going through something you have absolutely no idea about.

Week Four

QUOTE:

THE IRISH

Be they kings, or poets, or farmers,

They’re a people of great worth,

They keep company with the angels,

And bring a bit of heaven here to Earth.

I love this quote for so many reasons. Of course, being born in Ireland and a purebred, Irish woman I truly believe we are a special people. Through feast and famine, literally, we survive. Our strength and traditional work ethic helped build cities, like Manhattan. They don’t call us “Fighting Irish” for nothing!

My nickname is actually “Irish”. Funny enough, my father-in-law had the same nickname when he fought in Vietnam, drafted when he wasn’t even a U.S. citizen! Personally, had I received that draft notice I would have hopped the first plane back to Ireland and never looked back. Instead, he believed he needed to do what was asked of him and fought a horrendous, unpopular war winning numerous medals of honor. In fact, as the story goes, one day his platoon was in an area they feared was surrounded by land mines. My FIL was standing in one area for quite a bit and just after stepping away, a land mine exploded. Somehow, someway that land mine never went off in the entire time he stood on it. After that, his platoon told him, “We’re sticking with you, Irish! You’re our lucky charm.”

Just like my FIL, I truly feel I’ve been protected by angels. Despite everything I’ve been through, I’m still here. I’m a fighter and hopefully will never lose that spirit. Further, I hope my angels will continue to protect me and that I personally can bring a little bit of heaven to others here on Earth.

Struggling With Change

Thanks to a very kind soul, who follows my Instagram @braincancer _babe and who inspired me, I thought this was a great topic to start off this new decade. The idea of change has certainly been discussed throughout my prior posts. Yet, now it’s very different.

I struggle with any kind of major change, like seriously struggle!  However, I’m not one to just sit around day-in day-out, and accept redundancy. I get bored very easily doing the same thing all the time. In fact, it makes me utterly miserable. These two concepts may seem to conflict, but they actually don’t.

As a very simple example, I lived in the same one-bedroom apartment for 17 years. That is pretty much unheard of in the New York City metro area for someone in my age bracket (under 40 years old). Moving and even the thought of moving was horrifyingly stressful. Yet, my resume was full of varying places of work because I found every job, up until my last, so painfully boring. Another example is that I hated being on my couch doing nothing. I always had to keep busy, go out, work out or be active in some way shape or form. Otherwise, I’d be left with my thoughts and I’d drive myself crazy worrying about some meaningless thing. However, I also needed, No demanded, time to just be alone.

My Myers-Briggs personality is something in between an introvert and extrovert. I just don’t remember exactly what it is at the moment.

Anyway, more to my point and what brought me to write this post, is to discuss just how deeply challenging my diagnosis/treatment/side effects of treatment/what-have-you and the changes they’ve caused have been.

In my humble opinion, no one can ever go back 100% to the person they were prior to a cancer diagnosis. You learn to live the “new normal”, as many of us say. I went from being a career-driven litigation attorney in Manhattan, to someone who still cringes when asked, “What do you do for a living?” or when having to check the “disabled” box on any form asking about my employment status. I went from a young woman, who always wore make-up, had her hair & nails done in my 4-inch heels and power suit, to what I’ve donned “homeless chic” (no offense to the homeless). If you’re wondering what that looks like, it’s sweats, sneakers, no make-up, messy hair, my cane, a hat to cover my bald spot, and NOTHING like what I looked like before.

While this all may sound very vain and petty, it’s actually not. As a wonderful nurse in acute rehab told me years ago,”You’re allowed to grieve the former you – no matter what that is.”

Even worse is the total loss of independence. Right now, as I await my 7th brain surgery in less than 6 and a half years, I have no use of my left hand and cannot raise my left arm above my head. My balance and coordination is so off, I cannot be left alone. My husband is with me 100% of the time, minus the occasional trip to the grocery store or to pick-up my meds. Yes, I am extremely fortunate to have him here, but losing every once of independence I once had is mind-numbing. Obviously, I cannot drive. It’s too cold here for me to even go outside because if I do my whole left side tenses-up so much it’s physically painful. I used to constantly work out. Now, I can’t even do physical therapy. Hell, just walking to the bathroom is a feat these days.

Halloween 2019, of all days, I wound up in Urgent Care at my hospital after a bad fall at home. I was admitted, but waited until 4:30 a.m. to get a room. My scan results led to my 6th surgery, to drain the fluid from my brain. Yet, the tumor removals and so much radiation to my brain in 2014 & then 2015 created this cavity in my brain, where fluid will consistently flow into, and cause constant imbalance and pressure inside my head. Thus, there are no other options but this 7th surgery.

I actually fell a few weeks ago. I believe I experienced my 1st concussion. Whoa. That was not fun! Besides being covered in blood by the gash across my eyebrow, I immediately became nauseous and wanted to just go to sleep. I truly saw stars and couldn’t focus my vision. I’ll tell you, I do NOT know how football players do it. (I write this while my husband is literally watching football)

My poor, poor brain!

So, Yes, I hate the negative changes brain cancer has caused. It is an every day struggle to face these challenges! However, as I’ve written throughout this lil ole blog of mine, it has brought positive change as well. I’m not going to rehash them all here, but some very important ones:

  1. I never knew just how strong I was until I had to face this beast and all the havoc it has wreaked upon my life.
  2. I have learned who truly loves and cares for me – and who doesn’t. It’s a painful lesson in many ways, but I found “my tribe” and I’ll never let them go.
  3. I was always an advocate – that’s kinda the whole lawyer side of me; but, I know through my charity work that I’ve inspired people I may never even meet face-to-face. That’s why I tell my story to anyone who will listen. If I help just one person, well then, that’s enough.
  4. I’m not just a survivor. I’m a “thriver”! I took on brain cancer, twice, and said, “Nope! Ya, ain’t gettin’ this stubborn Irish girl” or at least that’s what I like to tell myself… whatever works.
  5. Yes, I’ve had some very dark moments, some even in the last week or so, but I MUST fight on.

“Turn Your Wounds Into Wings” – Daily Prompt “Struggle”

How do you define “struggle”?  It means so much, to so many, in so many different ways.

My struggle is not yours, no matter how similar they may seem.  Yet, we can share in those struggles.  We can empathize in our fear, our hurt, our will to survive.  We can unite in our strength and our perseverance in the face of that fear and hurt.  We can find unbreakable bonds with those struggling along side us.  Most importantly, we can find our own inner power, a power we never thought possible or ever recognized.  We find strength.

So, take that struggle.  Face it.  Whatever that struggle  may be.  Conquer it.  “Turn Your Wounds Into Wings.”  (quote by Emily Joy Rosen)

12809691_10209644249251591_9189393276012146422_n

 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/struggle/