Intention

Much of why I started this thing three years (!!!) ago was to react. I was constantly reacting to information, updated news, lab tests, surgeries, hospital stays, and therapies.

You know, basically freaking the fuck out about everything in my life being turned upside down.

I’ve spent most of my life living in a reactive state. I shoot from the gut and ask questions later. In some cases, it’s served me well. In others, quite the opposite.

Over a year into my cancer journey, my oncologist told me I needed to get my stress under control. Reactive had become my default, long before any of this had even happened. (Perhaps contributing? We’ll never know.)

I’ve worked (and continue to work) hard to learn to sit with a thing. To process. To mull over. To realize there aren’t quick answers sometimes. That, more often than not, the *real* answers are never quick. Something I’ve said before: nothing good ever came easy. Turns out, no good answer ever came quickly either.

My Type A behavior will never disappear — that’s just part of who I am — but every day is a new opportunity to learn how to JUST. LET. GO.

It was impossibly frustrating to be delayed, not once, but twice for my 2nd round of chemo. There’s a lot of preparation I do to head into an infusion week, and since learning this new drug kicks my ass, there are certain things that help me stay relaxed that need to get done. A clean house for when my blood cell count hits bottom; meals figured out for when I’m too nauseous and fatigued to cook; and mind preparation for the suck that is about to come. When chemo is delayed, it can be deflating… like all the hard work of getting ready was for nothing.

Which I know it isn’t, but still.

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The 3rd round has been delayed and, like so many other things about this journey, it’s make me realize a few things.

Initially, the possibility of being delayed was an abstract concept. Even though I knew it was a possibility, it never happened in all the times previous, so I never gave it much mental space. I just expected that things would continue the same as they ever had.

Ah expectation, you cruel mistress. This is control’s cousin, and yet another thing of which I’m learning to let go.

But even more than this, was the fact that for this round, I was notified the night before. It’s a lot easier to let a delay go when you’re not sitting at the infusion center for an hour waiting to find out if it’s happening or not (and then it’s not).

Sidebar: I will share that last point with my oncology team. Getting earlier notification helps the stress of this damn thing. DUH.

The part I hate most about being in treatment is a life in limbo. I can make plans, but always with the caveat that I might not actually make it. It makes me feel like a flake (though not a single person has ever made me feel that way — I know this is just a story I’m telling myself). I’ve prided myself on being where I say I’ll be, and always on time. (The “on time” part has been relaxed over the years, thanks husband.)

Being in treatment also bums me out. (Hello, Captain Obvious.) It sucks not being able to do things and see friends or family, which makes me more apt to overload my schedule when I feel good to “make up for lost time.” It’s a vicious cycle.

This is not a pity party. It’s just me taking a step back and acknowledging these things that go on in my head. To sit with those thoughts and inspect them. To ponder and process. To mull over.

* * * * *

There’s a yoga teacher at my studio who brings out the best in my practice. His words as he guides us through the poses and afterwards always feel like they are reaching directly into my heart. As luck would have it, he leads a group meditation twice a week, so I took my solo practice to join him and three others last weekend.

These words continue to come back to me: his request that when/if we needed to move during the practice, we did so with intention. To act as though all of us were floating on an ocean together and that any movement we made would create waves to the other people.

Move with intention. In a world that feeds into our responsive lizard brains, it’s harder to do than you’d think.

Move with intention. As I type this, I think — I feel — how my hands stretch across the keyboard. How I reach to my mouse. How I sit in the chair. How I exit it.

Move with intention. Slow down. Let unconscious behavior become conscious action.

Move with intention. It’s really live with intention, isn’t it? To be intention. To be present. In each and every moment.

So much easier said than done, but then, that’s why it’s called a practice.

16 thoughts on “Intention

  1. I’m type B but i totally get the ‘A.’ Sometimes i feel like i’m behind the ball. Wish i could be more like ‘those’ people sometimes. But your writing and your energy is like fuel. Makes me want to go faster and do better and with intention. I also think i really need to go back to yoga, haha … i digress … Know that you an inspiration regardless, like Matthias said : )

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Don’t wish to be something you are not — embrace who you are. Type Bs can “get shit done” too, but in their own quiet way. 🙂 And hell yes to getting back into yoga! Wish you guys were closer, cuz I’d drag you both along! ❤

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  2. Paul and I tell people that we live like a dog: eat when we’re hungry, sleep when we’re tired, play when we’re able. I suggest that you might benefit from that lesson. You’ve known dogs, you know how utterly present in the moment they are. They are, indeed, some of the best teachers of the Buddhist practice.
    That doesn’t mean to *not* prepare for things that are forthcoming, of course. But you can include that planning into the present moment. Something along the lines of, “I’m preparing these meals ahead of time so that I can eat when I am hungry at some point in the future.” (Because you’ll eat those meals, whether or not chemo actually happens, right?) And if you didn’t get those meals prepared, I’m sure Kenji would still make sure that you had food. So –as we say up here in the north, “no worries”.
    I will even take a step further and make the gentle suggestion that the bustle of housecleaning and food prep is your attempt to control how chemo is going to go. There’s a fine line between having a clean house and food awaiting you when you cannot do those tasks and the feeling that you must do it…or else you’re failing somehow. It seems that maybe you are trying to do all the conditions you can control to feel in control? One of my biggest lessons in becoming disabled is that I must stop trying to do for everyone else and give others the gift of doing FOR ME. Someone gives, someone receives–and until I learned to be a gracious accepter, I was not allowing others to give to me when I had need. It was stressful, because there are simply things that I cannot do. And I accept that better now than I did 5 years ago. (I think; as you say, practice, practice, practice.)
    Have I ever told you about Hugh Prather’s “Little Book of Letting Go”? It’s available on Amazon (download or hard copy) and is a wonderful tool to opening up to the thought of letting go–of whatever it is that stops you from living in the moment, from living the fullest life you can, from getting caught up in the minutiae of life. “Don’t sweat the small stuff. And don’t worry, it’s ALL small stuff.”
    Cancer has been a great gift to you, odd as that seems. It has changed your life, changed your life perspective, given you a chance to see what else there is to experience. There are things you would never know if it weren’t for this disease. My vascular surgeon was given 2 months to live, told to quit his practice and prepare for death in June of 2017. After 2 months of sitting around the house, he returned to work–and is still healing people today, 18 months later. There has been a shift in his personality–he was always warm and attentive, but he has a deeper, dare I say, more spiritual feel about him these days?
    He’ll die eventually, as will we all, but he was lucky–he KNOWS that life has a finite end and he is more alive for that knowledge. There are so many people who live their lives and when they die, realize that they never lived at all. We are not those people, we are the blessed aware.
    Hugs and hugs to you and your man–and to your friends. Hope your holidays are happy and not too tiring–don’t be afraid to say, excuse me, it’s nap time! Love you guys.
    Kate

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