The other day, I tried to find an old post of mine on Facebook in which I mentioned MLK. I didn’t find what I was seeking, but I found another instead. Strangely enough, this post does not mention Martin Luther King, Jr., MLK, or any variation of his name, but the powers of Facebook pulled it up for me anyway. This is a post from November 10, 2016.
The post received 24 likes and five loves, 11 comments, and one share.
In one of the comments, my friend wrote, “This is worthy of a Medium post.”
As I get closer to my surgery date, my mind, heart, body, and soul have increased in their capacity to feel a wide range of feelings simultaneously—even when those feelings seem to be conflicting.
I want to live both like I have no tomorrow and like I have a century left.
One minute I’m eating a large breakfast of eggs, tater tots, and corned beef hash for comfort, and the next I’m sipping on a smoothie for its nutritional value.
One day I’m brainstorming all of the jobs, side hustles, and GoFundMe campaigns I will need in order to pay off my medical bills, and the next I’m planning adventures like Luisa in Y Tu Mamá También.
Do I want privacy, community, or intimacy? Do I feel like screaming, crying, or laughing? I don’t know. All of the above?
Photo from Flickr
As many of you know, last fall and winter were hard for me because several important people in my life either passed away or were managing health issues that forced them to confront their own mortality. The following summer, I had to manage my own health scare with a visit to the ER. Thankfully, doctors were able to figure out that I needed an appendectomy. Fast forward to this winter, I felt a lump in my breast and found out I have breast cancer. Since then, I have been pretty real with myself and others about what that shock and mourning process have been like.
As I’ve opened myself up to sharing my experience, I’m learning a lot about myself and the world. I’m navigating medical appointments, healthcare bureaucracy, health insurance, financial implications, work life, home life, spiritual attitudes, body image, and self-worth in ways I haven’t before … That’s surprising to me because I already have had quite a colorful, adventurous, and unpredictable life. Just when I thought I couldn’t be shocked anymore, the Universe decided it was time to let me know that I had cancer growing inside of me.
Photo from Flickr
Since I’ve shared more of my story, people have reached out and asked me about my situation.
That’s where things have gotten interesting.
I’m no stranger to promoting self-care. On this blog, I’ve discussed how to Start Your Day on a Positive Note, Real Self-Care When Your Life Isn’t Paradise, Dealing with Long-Term Stress, and how to Make Over Your Life … Gradually. These posts address how minor and major actions can have a cumulative effect on how you can survive and thrive through hardship.
Self-care is a process, not a product.
When I haven’t discussed self-care, I’ve told you all to Create More Space for Kindness and Don’t Forget About the World Around You. In those posts, it was about creating more space to care for others and cultivate change in the world.
My past posts haven’t talked explicitly about community care—specifically community care for yourself.
In the Mashable article Self-care isn’t enough. We need community care to thrive., Heather Dockray states, “Unlike self-care, community care does not place the onus of compassion on a single individual … Community care involves more than one person. It can include two, three, or possibly hundreds of people. You can practice community care in your personal offline life or even in digital spaces.”
“If you don’t like what is being said, change the conversation,” stated Don Draper in Mad Men.
Is Don Draper a person I would want to be my mentor in real life? No way. Do I agree with his statement? Absolutely.
From December 31, 2019, to January 1, 2020, I saw lots of social media posts from friends, colleagues, and acquaintances celebrating their life’s journey from the past year or the past decade as they were ringing in the new year.
That’s cool, but I know many of you off of social media. I’m aware of how you have to edit to make your life’s journey sound more palatable for us on your online networks. As someone who does career advising for a living, I tell students and alumni to be mindful of how they present themselves on social media and in public in general. If anything, you’re following my general advice.