2017: Overcoming Addiction & Being Present

It seems like many people were happy to bid adieu to 2016. As for me, not even the disappointment of a surprise surgery, putting my dog to sleep and the election outcome could trump the train wreck of my 2015, so I’m going to declare the year pretty darn awesome.  I travelled to the Dominican Republic, Mexico, France, Switzerland, Belgium, Holland and Spain where I walked 258 miles to fulfill a dream of completing the Camino de Santiago.  In April, I preformed at the Bluebird Cafe in a production called My 2nd Act: Survivor Stories from the Stage. In July, I spent the month in Michigan completing 200 hours of yoga teacher training.  Then in September, I went to California and learned to surf with fifteen other cancer survivors through an organization called First Descents.  And in between all those adventures, I published several blogs, articles and wrote nearly everyday.  So, yes, I’d say 2016 was not so bad.

 

Of course, I’d like to continue and increase the adventures in 2017, so I spent some time thinking about my goals for this year.  I realized setting and accomplishing SMART* goals has always come easy for me, but what I want more than anything is something not so measurable.

Somewhere around when I got an iPhone, I developed an obsession to anything connected to my device.  The internet, social media, streaming TV, etc.  Then while I was going through treatment my addiction intensified because I would spend my days in bed watching the iPad. Now that I’m well, I can see the addiction has gotten out of control.

What bothers me most about my problem is how it distracts me from the activities and people I truly care about. It eats at precious time I could spend writing, doing yoga, reading, hiking, running, etc. and it steals my attention from my husband, friends and surroundings. Ultimately, I hope addressing this addiction will allow me to be more fully present in my own life, which is what I want more than any check box next to a goal.

One of the many life lessons cancer taught me is the only guarantee we have is the present moment – the one we are in right now.  I’ve realized in addition to my device addiction, I spend a lot of precious time reliving traumas of the past and the “what ifs” of the future.

This morning I came across a perfect passage in the book, The Artist’s Way:

“In times of pain, when the future is too terrifying to contemplate and the past too painful to remember, I have learned to pay attention to right now. The precise moment I was in was always the only safe place for me. Each moment, taken alone was always bearable. In the exact now, we are all, always, all right.”

And there it is again – being present in my life as a method for coping with trauma of the past and uncertainty of the future.

I wish you all health, wealth, strength and whatever else you need to accomplish your measurable and immeasurable goals of 2017.  Also, I’d like to take this time to thank you for reading my blog. If someone you know has been affected by cancer and/or chronic illness, please feel free to share my site with them, or better yet, have them send me a message.  Below you’ll find my most popular blogs from 2016:

Waiting for Hair: The Toll of Chemotherapy – The fact that this was the number one post of the year doesn’t surprise me. When I was going through hair loss, I wasn’t able to find a lot of info on what the growing out process was like. I also did a follow-up to this post, One Year of Hair After Cancer. That has been a few months and I’m happy to report I have a ton of hair. It’s in a bit of an awkward stage right now, but whatevs, I’m happy to have hair.

Living Universal Truths on My Cancerversary – I really love this post and the seven universal truths.

Cancer Camp – Details on my week surfing with First Descents, an organization that takes young, adult cancer survivors on adventure trips.

 

*Specific Measurable Achievable Realistic Time-Based

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The Bluebird Cafe Reading: The Ordinary World

On Sunday, I read at the legendary Bluebird Cafe as part of a show, My 2nd Act: Survivor Stories from the Stage.

I’ve been somewhat speechless over the day which was full of many overwhelming emotions, so rather than try to describe an indescribable experience, I’ll just share the video of my essay, The Ordinary World.

To follow my upcoming journey on the El Camino de Santiago, sign up on the right for email updates or check back here. I leave tomorrow (eek!) and will be making my way to Spain via France and Switzerland for some much needed fun before I begin the Camino in Leon, Spain on May 18th.

To read about my first experience on the El Camino de Santiago, check out my blogs from 2012:
Why I’m Kicking Italy to the Curb
Ready, Set, Vamos
Day 1 on the Camino
4 Days to Pamplona
Getting into the Camino Groove
Camino Highs and Lows
Coming Full Circle in Burgos

To learn more about the El Camino de Santiago, check out American Pilgrims on the Camino website.

For even more inspiration, check out the nine other women who shared their stories: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLQqrfxhhpofj8XKY0TskQ7T0SoclPtrGl

Thank you!

My 2nd Act: Bluebird Cafe Performance

I’m excited to share that I’ll be reading a personal essay on April 24th at the Bluebird Cafe as part of a show called, My 2nd Act: Survivor Stories from the Stage.

My 2nd Act: Survivor Stories from the Stage is a professionally produced stage show hosted at theaters around the country.  It’s a celebratory, inspiring and empowering event full of emotions – both for the survivors and non-survivors in the audience.

This week was our first table read and let me just say – OH! EM! GE! These women are on another level. Their stories include overcoming an unimaginable loss, housing the homeless, surviving a terriorist attack and a teenager, who, mark my words, is the next Oprah Winfrey. Oh, and all these ladies survived cancer too.

If you’d like to see the show live, details are below:
Sunday, April 24th at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m
Tickets are $32.49 can be purchased here. Sales benefit the Women’s Survivor Alliance.
The Bluebird Cafe is very intimate (i.e., small) and only 90 seats per show are available. The event will sell out, so if you’re interested, be sure to buy your tickets ASAP.

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Performing at the Bluebird Cafe is a huge honor. After the Grand Ole Opry and Ryman Auditorium, it is the most famous music venue here in Nashville. It’s where country artists test out songs they’ve written and aspiring musicians hope label reps are in the audience, as they often are. Garth Brooks and Taylor Swift were discovered there and anyone who’s anyone in country music has preformed on the stage at one time or another. So, I’m excited for the opportunity to share the stage not only with some unbelievable women survivors, but also some pretty famous footsteps. A complete history of the Bluebird Cafe can be found here.

If you’re not local or can’t make it, the show will be filmed and I’ll share the video as soon as it’s live.

 

Thanks!