As the first sun rays of spring start inducing feelings of frivolity amongst my peers, it’s a time of extreme caution for me. I am a skin cancer survivor. I had a malignant melanoma and I fought the little bugger. For me, those first bursts of sunlight mean stocking up on sun cream, applying it religiously morning, midday and afternoon to my entire body. I’m blonde and no way am I going to get sun-napped.
I will always remember the day that I found out I had skin cancer. It was a beautiful day in spring and I was spending the week with my now ex-husband and our two littles at the seaside. Everything was going suboptimally perfect (remember, I am divorced for a reason) when my doctor called me on the phone with the bad news. Distraught, I reacted the way you shouldn’t react in these situations : I went and got drunk on mojitos all by myself in some cute little bar down by the beach. Yes I know, not proud.
So sitting there sipping my third mojito and already feeling quite light headed, I decided I needed some compassion.
“Why didn’t you call me?” Dorothy looks at me inquisitively.
“Because, darling…” I trail off. “I was quite distraught that day. Besides, I do believe I sent you a text message. Anyway, I called my mom.”
“You were looking for some compassion from your mom? Did you get it?” Dorothy knows all to well what the answer is to this question.
“No of course not. Are you surprised? She told me to call my Aunty in England.”
“Well as usual, she didn’t have a clue. Not much support to be expected from your mom. Nothing has changed much between then and now, has it?” Dorothy ponders.
“No in fact that’s right. Before I just pretended to be part of a close family and accepted that that meant to just shut up and be left to your own devices. Now I’ve made a stand and said I’m not interested in this deal. It stinks.”
“Yes, your mom burps way too much.” Dorothy adds. I ignore her. Where is that coming from?
“Funny thing was, next time I saw my mom, instead of her being concerned about my health or the possibility of losing her daughter, no… She pulled out my brother Billy-Bob and demanded I tell him to go see the doctor too. Just in case he had skin cancer. He’s blonde too you know.”
“She didn’t!” Dorothy cries incredulously.
“She did. I tells ya.” And I nod to her.
“Good riddance, darling. You don’t need that kind of crap when you’re dealing with life threatening stuff. Or otherwise.” Dorothy puts a comforting hand on my shoulder.
Now you all know me way too well to believe I would ever let any chapter of my life turn into a sob story. It didn’t. I didn’t let it. What I learned from this experience was to be self-reliant. It is great to have a support group around you. We all need to have cheerleaders at some parts along the journey. But at the end of the day, it’s all up to one person : how I manage to take care of me. The rest will follow.
I learned how to heal my body and reclaim my life
This didn’t happen over night. It took me a good five years to get my head around what works and what doesn’t. And the ingredients are really just plain common sense. It all boils down to one essential notion : taking self-care seriously.
- Spirituality : I love to meditate. These moments are sacred in being at peace with myself and taking stock of everything that is happening in the busy chatter of my mind.
- Nature : Going out for walks along the river, in the woods or down by the beach. Preferably with my kids. Inhaling the fresh air and letting go of stress.
- Cooking : Stay away from processed foods. Buy fresh vegetables. Eat at least two pieces of fruit per day.
- Children : Spend time with your children. Play with them.
- Have fun : joy is utterly contagious and having fun must be taken very seriously.
- Sport : I love yoga. Exercise is non-negotiable.
- Sleep : Make sure you get your beauty sleep every night.
In fact, enjoying life to the fullest and taking care of yourself are paramount in a healthy lifestyle. Too often we forget we should be connecting with others, excelling at work and fulfilling your deepest desires. Take time to recharge your batteries. The simple things in life are all that you need.
So all in all, I am very grateful. Grateful that my mother did indeed rebuke me at that crucial moment in time, as it catapulted me into exploring new and creative ways to live my life better. I am so grateful and I love my mother very much, for she is the driving force behind my every action to be a healthy person. Life is wonderful.
What do you think ? What is zapping your energy, and which recipes for a healthy lifestyle work for you ? Let me know in the comments below.