What a year 2017 was.
A large part of 2017 was filled with anxiety, apprehension, and worry surrounding a health issue. In turn, this year was also filled with a great deal of personal reflection. In the personal reflection, many questions came up for me. Questions which needed further reflection, thought, and counselling. Also during this time, was a search for ways to lessen stress and bring more calmness into my everyday life.
So, you might be wondering what health concerns I was having throughout 2017. I went for my very first mammogram in March, 2017 (almost 6 years later than you are supposed to go for your first mammogram). This visit led to a long series of concerns which involved multiple mammograms, ultrasounds, numerous biopsies, an MRI and more mammograms, ultrasounds and biopsies. After many months, and multiple growths later, these tests culminated in having a mass removed from my right breast – a mass that the doctor indicated that test results said it was a BiRads 4C and had an 80% of being cancerous. As a result, they wanted the mass removed completely. It was surgically removed at the end of November. I received the pathology results on December 11. Negative. Not cancerous. A fibroadenoma. A couple of them, actually. Thank goodness! What a relief.
This journey has been in addition to a personal journey or re-discovery and healing that has been going on the past 4 years or so, but very strongly and deeply in the past 2 years. During that time, I’ve had many conversations with many people and reflected on their words often. Oftentimes, the words of my supporters are difficult for me to truly and deeply comprehend initially. My friend, and mentor, and someone who has known me for many years, asked me what seemed like a simple question in the midst of this journey. He asked, “What do you want your life to feel like?” In response, I asked, “Do you mean look like?” Firmly, buy in a caring manner, he reiterated, “No, I mean feel like. What do you want your life to feel like?” Hmmmm… I listened. I heard him. I didn’t understand. I reflected and set his words aside. Temporarily.
After much reflection and deep pondering about life, I finally realized what he meant by his question, “What do you want your life to feel like?” It is not important how things look in your life – what others see, what you see. It is all about how your life makes you feel inside.How it makes you feel overall. His thoughtful words made me ponder in the last few months how I really wanted my life to feel and if that feeling was being actualized currently. Some questions came up:
What is important to me?
How do I currently feel daily?
How do I want to feel?
How do I want my family to feel?
What am I willing to sacrifice to try to make this happen?
A few things I came up with around the way I want to feel at this point in my life included:
I want to feel calm.
I want to feel fulfilled.
I want to feel loved.
I want to feel as stress-free as possible.
I want to feel free.
I want to feel joy.
I want to feel open.
I want to feel cared for.
I want to feel strong.
I want to feel healthy.
I want to feel in control of my life – both personally and professionally.
I want to feel satisfied – personally and professionally.
I want to feel like I am making a difference.
I want to feel like I matter and that what I do matters.
I want to feel authentically me.
Hmmmmm…. then I wondered, what “authentically me” actually meant. I have been working hard the past couple of years really trying to understand what that means and I am getting closer and closer every day to understanding and realizing who I am, what I truly care about, what my purpose is and why I am here. Someone else, whose words I value and appreciate, asked, “What is it you would do if there was no monetary payoff? What would you want to accomplish, contribute, or influence in some way?”
I want to be there for my kids and my partner. I want them to know that they are number one, always have been, and always will be. They are my life and I need to be there for each of them. Just when you think, as a parent, that they are growing up and that they don’t “need” you as much, I think they actually need you more. More than they are capable of admitting. I want to feel their love. I want them to feel mine. I want to be present and feel like I am present and not being pulled away constantly. I want them to feel my attention on them. My love. My belief in them. I want them to know that they are more important than the other families and staff for whom I serve daily in my work.
I want to help others. Help others in ways that I was not able to be helped along the way. Be the role model for those young and older. I want to be able to show children who grew up in impoverished backgrounds that anything is truly possible. They can be whatever they set their minds to. They do not need to be defined by their past or their family (as I wrote about in Anything Can Happen). They are in charge of their own reality. I want to be able to help women who have been in abusive relationships. I want them to understand abuse. I want them to understand that it is not their fault. I want to help them find themselves again – to understand where they have come from, why, and how to move forward. I want them to deeply understand that there is always an option and that they should never just settle or give up. They are worth more than that. I want to be people’s cheerleaders (young and older). I want them to know that I believe in them. I want to help them learn to fly again.
With all that I have been through this past year, I have come up with a word that will truly represent my life, and year, going forward.
It’s all about perspective. Sometimes, we need to be faced with the most difficult of circumstances to deeply reflect upon life and what we are doing and our purpose and if what we are doing actually reflects our purpose. Perspective. Looking at things with different eyes. Clearer eyes. More understanding. Priorities. Understanding. Perspective.
What’s your word for 2018?
I wish you all clarity and all the best in 2018!