About eight weeks ago, I started attending a Cancer Survivor Support Group called "Renewing Life" that was facilitated by the most wonderful Social Worker at my Cancer Center. If I"m being completely honest, I never thought this was something I would do. Not because I didn't think it was necessary or a bad idea, but because when I was originally diagnosed with cancer two years ago, 1) I didn't really want anyone to even know I had cancer, let alone talk about it and 2) Why would I need to talk to other people about something so personal? I'm strong, I'm capable of taking care of myself.....I"m good. I remember when I first met my Social Worker in my oncologist's office, I was very determined that I was fine despite my world shattering into a million pieces. She offered me so much assistance and I didn't reject it, I just didn't accept it. As it turns out, I needed more than the chemo barbie and great resources that I received for my children. At that time, though, that was about all I could handle and I am grateful for it. I did eventually need more. Not because I'm weak. Not because I couldn't handle it anymore, but because I was ready to grow from my experience. I was ready to accept it, to share and to live. For me, that meant understanding what I've been through and how to move forward in the healthiest way possible. I'm here to tell you, the individual therapy that I started about a year ago and now this support group were the best experiences imaginable and both have changed my life for the better. During my survivor group, I met four other women who have each left a lasting imprint on my heart. We all have such different stories and experiences, but we are bonded by one word. Cancer. Conversations with these women have made me stronger and wiser simply by listening, laughing, crying and supporting one another. I never realized how vital it was for my own personal healing to hear the words "I truly understand" and "I felt that, too". The support I felt from them and the support I hope I gave back, just make me feel like everything I have endured to this point has been worth it. That's kind of a bold statement, since I've truly been through the wringer, but my life experiences and how I'm choosing to reframe them are giving me so much more "life" than I could ever have imagined. During our final session tonight, we were told about a story of a woman who was to leave a foreign country that was under attack. She could only take one suitcase with her. She had lived there for so long and had so many things she wanted to take with her, how could she choose? After so much back and forth when it was time to actually go she did not take a suitcase...only herself. She came to the realization that the most important things to take were the person that she had become, the things that she had learned and the treasures that she carried in her heart. I'm so proud of the person that I'm becoming. I have learned so much and I continue to learn from each moment on this journey. My heart is fuller and therefore, my treasures are abundant. I'm grateful for so many moments and for the opportunity for moments yet to come.
Discovering meaning from one's hardships is a process. It takes work, patience and some serious reflection. Within that reflection, however, comes strength, resilience and abundance. An Abundance of love, of opportunity and of beauty. From my group, I've learned that;
-" Abundance is the choice to view and embrace each moment as an opportunity; one for growth and learning; one which can be viewed in a larger context even if in the moment pain, fear, confusion and doubt prevail."
-"Abundance is a choice to love yourself and listen to the voice of your heart. In any moment, in any situation, you can choose to express the voice of your heart."
-"Abundance is a quality of life. One of living each moment from the heart and from vision. Each of us has everything we need inside of us to lead a fulfilled life. We are holders of Universal wisdom.
-"Abundance is living life the way you truly want to-moving beyond the limits of the here and now; aligning your will with your heart; saying this is so important to me that I choose to align my energy, my behavior and my actions around it."
Find meaning, renew your life, fight for you dreams and passions. It's so true that we have such a short time on this earth. Live with abundance. I've said it every single day since I walked out of that ICU room that second chances are sacred. I'm working at living my life in a way that I can say everything was in abundance. Love, laughter, tears, experiences, challenges, triumphs...everything. Thank you to these women and all of you, my friends, my community for living it with me. I'm watching, I'm listening and I'm learning from each and every one of your magical souls. Thank you. -XO -M