PROJECT JOY continues, despite the disappointing political climate, huge unknowns and transitions, loss of a friend to cancer, and somewhat vague medical status. I can’t really say what shifted in my brain (I think it has a lot to do with hope) but I’m definitely holding on to a different mindset than I was a few weeks ago.
What comes to me most often these days is gratitude. It’s true, I don’t know what tomorrow will bring. It may be an absolute catastrophe. It might be wonderful. Either way, it isn’t here yet. What I have is right now. This moment. As I sit in my office or in my home or out in the yard by the fire all I can really think is, “How amazing is this?” Truly. It’s pretty incredible that in this very moment I am still alive. There are a lot of ways this diagnosis could have been so much worse. There is no promise that someday it won’t be. But still, right now, I’m very much alive.
The gratitude I have around that is completely restorative. It’s such a luxury to be able to wake up, get out of bed, take a shower, exercise, and then work a full day. I am definitely more tired than I was pre-diagnosis but I am miles ahead of where I was this time last year. In fact, I vividly remember July 3, 2016. I will never forget contemplating how I was going to get myself out of the bathtub. I just didn’t have the energy. I lethargically reached for my iPhone and turned on the workout playlist I had curated for my long half ironman training runs. I let the up-tempo beats of the music that used to get me through an energy slump at mile 11 wash over me. I psyched myself up for a few minutes before gathering the strength and courage to hoist myself out of the tub. It was a deeply excruciating and fatiguing effort. I collapsed on my bed in a ball of pain and tears. It would take me a total of three hours to get out of the house that day.
The fact that I can now walk three miles to work is amazing. Being tired feels good. Fatigue is no longer the result of simply trying to survive. These days I am tired because I was able to put some reasonable effort in. I cannot tell you how incredibly satisfying that is.
Of course, the thing I’m really relishing is having a little bit of control over my life. I am no longer completely powerless over my circumstances. There are actual things I can change if I want to. On that note, I actually started to actively course correct my diet and level of fitness. I know. After months of depressed abuse I’m actually gaining a little bit of strength and losing a little bit of weight. If I weren’t so chicken $hit I’d post a meaningful segment on that process. But for now, I’m clucking like a mother hen. Just know that I’m on a personal journey to reclaim a little bit of my old life. I’m making the choice to take care of myself and, yes, it does feel good.
I also decided that I couldn’t really love and heal myself if I was being unkind to myself all the time. I have a way of subtlety punishing myself when I feel I haven’t met the mark. So I did away with that unhelpful monster. I got a sharp new haircut at the barbershop below our office and I’m looking pretty fresh and edgy, even. I only got self-conscious a few times when I realized I was the only girl in the place surrounded by (a lot) of dudes. But who cares when your barber cuts your hair like this?