A New Year

Chapter 44: A New Year

This blogging experiment began almost 2 years ago when my DH was diagnosed with neuroendocrine cancer. If you are new here, you can check out older posts to learn what the heck that is. An update on that front: Don continues to do well, especially since his surgery in June 2017. He still gets his monthly shot of sandostatin and any symptoms or side effects are minimal. (Or else he just pushes through them and doesn’t tell me.) Just this week he had his first gallium-scan since June 2018 and we were happy to hear that no new NETs were found. The existing spots are still there, but have not grown. In cancerland this is good news! We are not the experts of living in cancerland, but we are residents here, so we are always learning the ropes. A good scan is a good day!

Also this week the boys and I had the chance to see the film Angst about living with anxiety. I made the boys go and while they said “We already knew that stuff” I am sure they learned a little something. I definitely did! The biggest lightbulb moment for me was how being honest about the fact that I deal with it is the first step to figuring out how to manage it. I was thinking about a few friends whose children deal with anxiety on a regular basis and how hard those moments must be. And then I had this moment of clarity — if my kid had cancer, of course I would pay for him to get treatment. There would be no end to the treatment I would seek! But why do we (in our society) pause and not seek treatment when there is illness of the mind/heart/emotions? Why do we resist seeking counseling when it could be the very answer to the issue? And much less costly than treating cancer. I’ve had this perspective for years — since counseling definitely saved my life in the late 1990s when I was depressed — but I’m glad to have it bubble up with clarity again.

A few days ago I stumbled upon a podcast interview with Anne Lamott. Anne is one of my favorite authors and certainly one of the great sages of the 21st century … authentic, awkward, funny, and says the stuff most of us won’t say but want to, with a lot of grace, a few curse words, and a little bit of church and Jesus thrown in. This episode was about creating — being creative¬† — and how one needs to just do it regularly. Start with shitty first drafts, and then let the process unfold with the diligence of doing it. She says that everyone has the voices that tell us we have no talent, or are not enough, and she calls those voices misguided helpers. I can totally relate to this, as I have a few voices pinballing around my head now and then that will toss in a grenade of self-doubt or criticism and sometimes it’s hard to ignore them. But Anne gave this great tip: imagine the voices as little mice running around at your feet. Grab them by the tail, one by one, and drop them into a mason jar. When you have collected them, place the lid on the jar, and set it aside. Then get on with your creating. The voices are silent. You have acknowledged them, you know they are there, but you have set them aside to proceed with your project, your passion, or whatever it is that needs your focus. This is a breakthrough tip for me. The voices are there – they are part of being human – but we don’t have to let them stop us. Acknowledge them, set them aside, and carry on.

Finally, Anne reminds us that we are pre-approved. We are alone on our journey, but there are people all around who will never let us fall and not get up. We know what fills our heart with gladness and that feeling of accomplishment. We just need to do those things and along the way make more messes, have more failures, try & fail, try & fail, and learn to fail better. Messes and failures are gifts along the journey. The more we make them, the better we get at creating, and the better we get at this thing called life. I don’t know about you, but this sounds like a good way to start a new year.