It’s now been almost a week since my first chemo treatment. Today is the first day since my treatment that I am beginning to feel like myself again. It’s been hard to not physically feel up to doing the things I love most, like help with the fall roundup and fall cow work. Yet the last week has taught me that often doing nothing is more productive than spending a lot of time, energy and effort doing something that leads you in the wrong direction or is simply a distraction from being present and dealing with the one thing that you try hardest to avoid and dissociate from. Creative indolence often leads to great innovation. Some of our greatest mind have spent time in this very same place. Einstein wrote that some of his greatest ideas came to him so suddenly while he was shaving that he would often cut himself by surprise. He also said, “you can never solve a problem on the level on which it was created;” and, “insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
Isn’t the real reason we want to accomplish more in less time, because we have other things we want to do besides work; you know those other enjoyable activities that we keep putting off? It seems to me that leads to truly an endless pursuit of happiness. Or just happiness postponed rather than realized?
The real problem is that somewhere along the way we managed to confuse accomplishment with happiness. Happiness started as the inspiration for achievement, but somehow things got reversed. Happiness became conditional. When being happy gets anchored in achievement, we can easily fall into the trap of projecting that happiness into the future. We put conditions on when we will allow ourselves to be happy. Being more productive is great. Getting more done in less time really is a good thing. But those are not legitimate reasons for missing out on happiness now.
There is no inherent conflict between being happy and being productive. Actually, the two go together very nicely. The only danger lies in getting out of balance and obsessing over productivity. There is a healthy sense of equilibrium between living in the present and planning for the future. We fall, when we lose our balance and allow the desire to accomplish more to become an obsession; when we allow ourselves to get so caught up in compulsive accomplishment that we forget who and what is really important to us right now. Make sure to take some time to enjoy your life in the present instead of waiting for someday, because all too often, someday never comes.
What is really behind our drive for increased productivity? Are we afraid we have no worth or value or worth if we are not productive?
The truth is our worth has nothing to do with how productive we are or how much money we earn! Believing that it does is a devastating point of view. If I earn $50 per hour and you earn $500, then I must be worth 90% less than you are. If I accept this premise, then I will probably develop some limiting beliefs about my worth as a person. If you agree with this value scale, then you will begin to think of yourself as superior. Both of these points of view are damaging to us as human beings and to our relationships.
Is the highly paid professional who earns a fortune pumping deadly toxins into the environment more valuable than a dedicated teacher who incites his students to reach for their dreams while maintaining personal integrity? Is the loving, nurturing mother who gave up her career to take care of her family and children, on the bottom of the value scale? Will our children understand why we could never be there for them because we think we are increasing our worth as a parent by working such long hours that we never get to see or spend time with them?
The value of money is tiny compared to the value of time. When we spend our valuable time we should view it as something that far exceeds the worth of money. Yes, it takes a certain amount of money to care for our material needs and wants, but that is just one, small aspect of life. Time is truly the currency of life. Our precious time is the real commodity of life. Recognizing its immense value helps us spend it wisely.
It’s not every day that you face your own mortality. One of the questions I’ve had to recently face is what happens to your life when you run out of time? We only have so much of this valuable commodity and when it’s gone all the money in the world can’t buy you more. When something like cancer brings knocks us to our knees, shredding apart our carefully planned lives, God is trying to get your attention to teach you that it’s not about the relentless striving but surrendering to Him, that He’s in control not you and honestly why would you want to be? My way certainly has not worked out so well up to this point. It’s about letting go of the old ways of being and thinking that got you to this point and discovering a new way of being, God’s way.
I am truly in a place in every aspect of my life that is a frustrating and uncomfortable limbo between letting go of the old and giving birth to the new. It’s a process, not something you barrel through in order to not face the uncomfortable emotions of it. It’s been a process of backing off, suspending goals and taking the time to dance with cancer mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually step by step. It’s an uncertain path that you take moment by moment, not knowing where it will lead or where it will end. Just as you can’t will the entire herd of cows to calve just during working hours, you can’t force this process to be over sooner just because it’s uncomfortable and inconvenient. It requires a great amount courage to live in uncomfortable emotions, physical pain and uncertainty day in and day out. It takes a great amount of courage to learn to fully and wholeheartedly surrender and have faith that God is recreating my life into something so much better and more amazing than I can ever imagine and accept and that it will likely require a period of focus and dedication. It takes courage to not falling into resenting God for having the path to this new and incredible life be that of cancer. What I can do is take care of myself, rest when tired because my immune system is weak with, get my priorities straight, enjoy each day with the people who mean the most to me, my family and friends, my horses, my dogs and Sundance kitty, keep my stress level down, continually do what I need to keep a positive frame of mind and my courage because I have no control over this situation and follow where God, my inspirations, love, enthusiasm and creativity may lead; living each day to the fullest in gratitude that I have time, life and that there are so many amazing souls in it and in awe and humility of God’s work in it all. (Written for Montana Ranch Girl)
I recently saw an interview with Pastor Rick Warren, author of the “Purpose Driven Life”. Even though it’s now been a few weeks ago, he said one thing in that interview that has stayed with me –
“God never wastes a hurt.”
If we breathe, if we live, at some point, we are going to hurt. Everyone goes through trials in life. There’s no avoiding it. I don’t believe that anyone is spared of life’s painful events, and while I may not understand it or even like it, I have come to believe through my own trials that nothing in our lives is ever a mistake.
Every hurt, every trial happens for a reason. There is always something to be learned and something to be gained, or someone else to inspire from the trials of life. God uses the hurts in our life to help us grow in faith or to help others. Trails are used to educate, strengthen and grow us and/or others around us. Normally it is in these hurts that we learn to trust Him and where we experience the most growth.
While God will never waste a hurt we certainly can and often do. In times of great pain, we often look to God for understanding and answers. We question God’s reasoning while grappling with our own emotions, asking “why me?” Instead of choosing to learn and grow from the experience, we often choose instead to become bitter, allowing a trial of life to overtake us, allowing the negative events to consume us and keep us in the role of a victim instead of asking how might this be used for my good.
I’m not saying that horrific things like the death of a child, cancer or rape is something that can easily be just dealt with. There are many things in my life that have happened to me that I am still learning to forgive and heal. While it’s often hard to not run or escape from the pain we are called to remain in it and heal through it. I am learning that only by surrendering them to God to use as He sees fit, is the only way I can truly heal and move on with my life, and when I’m not honest about the reality of my life, pretending to be alright when I’m really not I waste God’s offer of peace and opportunities to share with others walking a similar path. When I try to heal my wounds of my own strength, I waste God’s offer of power. It’s truly when I let God in that miracles start to happen.
As I look back on my own life I realize all the hurt and pain I have gone through has led me to who I am today. This very moment, if God had taken away even on hurt or pain, then my life would be so different today. For better or worse I simply choose to trust that God has protected me, changed the course of my life as He saw fit. I am thankful for every hurt and every pain simply because they led me to be the person I am today.
We must remember that God is working even in our darkest hours, in our deepest pains, in the struggles we surrender to God; we will grow, we can allow it to become a gift to us, we will be strengthened and your struggle may just help someone else who needs to know that they are not alone in what they are going through. If God never wastes a hurt, why should we?
There is always a blessing waiting once the ache and fear and grief have settled. There is something indestructible at the center of each of us; though the pain of being transformed and rearranged while still alive often feels unbearable.
I’d love to hear your story. How has pain produced positive things in your life or the lives of others? (Written for Montana Ranch Girl)
“No pain that we suffer, no trial that we experience is wasted. It ministers to our education, to the development of such qualities as patience, faith, fortitude and humility. All that we suffer and all that we endure, especially when we endure it patiently, builds up our characters, purifies our hearts, expands our souls, and makes us more tender and charitable, more worthy to be called the children of God . . . and it is through sorrow and suffering, toil and tribulation, that we gain the education that we come here to acquire and which will make us more like our Father and Mother in heaven.” ― Orson F. Whitney
Today as I embark on my first seven hour long chemo treatment I am struck by the basic duality of existence, that which resoundingly connects us to every other living being on this planet. The treatment to me represents the dual meaning of life and death as poisons to kill cancer cells in my body, flow intravenously into my blood stream to heal me of breast cancer.
It’s not every day that you face your own mortality. When something like cancer brings your world to a complete standstill, turning your entire reality inside out, God is definitely trying to get your attention! I realize I have a choice as to how I dance with cancer and approach the next year of treatments. I can either choose to be a victim of breast cancer, resisting and fighting against God’s lessons for me or I can choose to embrace the lessons, facing them head on with dignity, cowgirl grit and grace, and a grateful heart for all that truly is wonderful in my life (and there is so much to be grateful for).
My choice is to strive for a willingness to experience cancer willingly and without resistance, with the understanding that God created all things equal, and that those things which might be experienced as poison can be ingested, integrated and transmuted if one has the proper state of mind. A complete understanding and acceptance of both dualities creates a melding of the two into one.
My body is being asked to transmute the poisons of the chemo drugs in order to heal, activating the energy of kill or cure, ultimately leading to healing. As the chemo drugs go to work I think about what else within me physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually has brought me to this point and what emotional toxicities, worn out habits, old patterns, thoughts and behaviors I need to also kill or let go of in order to heal, transform, resurrect and recreate my life. The next year of my life will most certainly also be about transmuting the toxicities I’ve been carrying around with me for the last 39 years that no doubt also has helped to manifest this cancer, with the goal of healing my life in every area, throwing off the past and continuing to live life to it’s very fullest.
Some of the first emotions to volunteer to be released are feelings of insecurity, shame, guilt, low self-esteem and areas in my life where I have lacked integrity. It will certainly be a process as some of these emotions have severed me well in some ways for a very long time. And while I’m not quite sure where to begin in making these changes I know I will be lead by the grace of God through the process. Change and rebirth are inevitable and strength is required in order to shed everything that has been holding me back. Yet I am excited about the process of dying in order to be reborn, shedding the old and the regeneration to come through the proper direction of my life-force. I have no doubt it will be powerful and dramatic, discovering a new way of being – physically recreating passion, desire and vitality; emotionally finding new ambition, creativity, resolution, and new dreams; mentally claiming power, charisma, and leadership; and spiritually finding a greater understanding of myself and others and a greater connection to God.
The dual nature of life and death which when united produces new life. True healing can only come about through the represented by the union and regeneration of self. Balancing the two polarized halves of energy into one is truly the embodiment of all potentials of a physical, material and spiritual nature, allowing anything to be possible through the transforming and transmutation of the dualities into higher levels of being, facing fears, moving on to higher goals.
I invite all my readers to take this journey with me and would love to hear about your journeys through the process of rebirth. (Written for Montana Ranch Girl)