Finding My Why In My Mess
If there’s one thing I want my readers to know about me, it’s my why.
You may not know what started me on this adventure. What life-altering circumstance forced me to re-evaluate my lifestyle, gain control over my diet, and ultimately, start this blog and coaching business to share my knowledge with others. You know, in hopes that others don’t need a life-threatening slap in the face to find their why and start living the life they want for themselves.
Let’s back up a bit.
Each year around this time, a roller coaster of emotions roll through my body like I’m going through it all over again. It’s insane how vividly I remember it all.
In 2014, I was living a life that is unfortunately all too common for many women. I was continually dragging ass, feeling like I wasn’t good enough at anything, and I was struggling between my full-time job and motherhood. I didn’t recognize it, but I was in full-blown survival mode. With no set “why” to cling to.
But on October 13, 2014, as I was being prepped for a “routine” partial thyroidectomy, reality struck me. Even though cancer hadn’t been confirmed, I was having surgery. And in my gut, I knew it was cancer. I’d felt that way since my initial appointment with my wonderful surgeon the week prior–I’d just been too afraid to share my concern with anyone in hopes I was wrong.
My gut instinct was right
As soon as my eyes opened in the post-op recovery room, it was confirmed. My gut instinct had been right (you should almost always listen to your intuition!) The tears streamed down my face. I needed to see my family.
My entire thyroid had been removed, along with some additional lymph nodes. I was full of fears and now that they were with me, I could hardly speak. They were as scared as I was and had just as many questions.
As the surgeon visited with us on the next steps, I felt numb. Would I have side effects from the suggested treatment? What if the cancer wasn’t really gone? Could it still spread? Would I be able to continue to nurse our youngest? How long would I need to recover? (It was harvest season and a busy time for Ryan.) After treatment, would I be able to ever have more kids? I’d recently come back from maternity leave and was worried about being dependent on my team again. I felt guilty for how much I would need to lean on other people.
In addition to all those feelings, I was scared for me and what life would mean now. I was scared for my husband who bore the news while his wife was in surgery, our toddler who would wonder what was wrong with her mommy, our infant that was still nursing, my mom whose daughter had cancer, my grandmother who had lost her husband and now her only granddaughter had cancer.
The bright side of things…
While I am not necessarily grateful for having cancer, I am grateful for the awakening. It took me several days to open up about it to my friends. After my treatment was done several months later, I was grateful that it had been me. That it wasn’t Ryan, either of my daughters, my mom, grandmother, or any of my friends. I vowed that I would be grateful for the process. Thankful for the vision and appreciation I had for life. At that moment I realized how I had been just going through the motions in my job, my marriage, my relationship with my kids…literally everything.
Because that’s what always being in a mindset of survival gets you. You stop truly seeing the things around you.
So, despite the fact that I had to go through the hardest holiday season of my life (seriously, you don’t KNOW how strong you are until you go through the holidays on a strict diet in order to receive a treatment!), I came out on top. I had been awakened while I still had a whole life ahead of me. Not everyone is so lucky.
Inspiration when you least expect it
Now, I was nowhere near terminally ill. I tell you this story to not gain sympathy, but to explain how I got where I am.
But with that, I want to share a real inspiration. Jessica, my college roommate’s little sister, had started a blog journaling her cancer journey. I started following her posts and was so inspired by Jessica’s strength and her raw honesty about what she was going through with ovarian cancer in her 20s.
Let that sink in for just a minute…being in your 20’s, when you’re supposed to be having the time of your life, but are instead fighting for your life. Cancer doesn’t discriminate. It reaches the young and old, the active and healthy, the rich and the poor.
“Everyone has two lives, the second one begins when you realize you only have one.”
This statement found in Jess’ blog, really resonated with me when I was going through my cancer treatment. I was literally isolated from the world for days on end. My mind was trying to make sense of everything and that simple phrase summarized it exactly. I was reflecting on what I had been doing in my life and where it had led me to this point. What was I going to do differently going forward in the second life I had been given?
At first, I didn’t have the answer. And at the time I couldn’t imagine putting myself out there like Jessica was, formulating thoughts so beautifully. I didn’t have the confidence to even tell my best friends for a few days, I was so stuck in my shell! Would I ever be able to gain the courage to blog about my experience?
Second life moments.
I had no idea what to do next at that point. But what I can tell you is second life moments are the best. I started noticing the smallest blessings – the human touch, the comforting warmth of my home, how lucky I was to live in a safe place, my friends, and family members who reached out to me. Hugs from my girls were longer and sweeter. I realized that I’d been missing out on really being present in those. Even at church, I would pay extra attention to readings and find a deeper meaning within each of them. It felt like God was saying, “Finally, you’re listening.”
It was like wearing glasses for the first time. Life was so much clearer.
Why does it take us something so serious to occur close to home to make us appreciate this one life we get?
I still don’t know the answer to that loaded question. But here’s what I’ve learned from my cancer and from coaching experiences:
I was (and am) never alone.
Sure, there were times that I felt alone before cancer. Especially on the days where I was going to work, coming home to care for two small children, struggling through housework, trying to stay in-tune with changes on the farm, and barely having time to think. But after talking to so many amazing women over the last two years, I realize that there was a whole army of women who felt like I did. And they were there to pull me through – some of which were already in my circle. I’d just been too afraid to ask them for help (and honestly, I’m not sure I recognized that I needed it either).
I’m human, so there are still moments when I feel a sense of loneliness when I’ve had a bad day. After my experience though, I’m able to snap out of it by focusing on the positive. Or going to the Mental Edits VIP Community and seeing how many women are willing to support this message of boosting other women up to be our best selves without apology. support me. There is so much power in finding your people and your support group.
It’s crucial that you are present in your life.
Going through the motions is easy when you’re only trying to get things done. It’s taking the time to actually live that is the challenge. It was hard for me to let the little things go sometimes so I could see through the noise. This kick in the butt to start living a better life certainly made it easier though…
Because I shifted gears at home to declutter our stuff (and my mind), I feel like I have so much more time to focus on time with my family. I’m always learning, of course, but the methods I’ve put into place at home helps me feel calmer. For me, that’s key in enjoying the little things.
I am an advocate for working moms who have dreams.
Being one who used to think about what I wanted to do someday, I can relate to putting my own needs and wants on the backburner. After my wake-up call, I realized that I can take baby steps to achieve my goals that are unrelated to motherhood or farm wife life. As I researched and developed new methods to create more time for myself, I noticed how it built my confidence. That confidence flowed through into my marriage. I have become more involved with the farm just by asking more questions. The time spent with our now 3 girls by doing things that make memories – are valued, not just going through the motions. I decided it was selfish to not put myself out there to help others. My goal is to help as many women as I can put a name to their goals. And beyond that, I want to help them find the time and confidence in their busy lives to work toward those goals, no matter the roadblocks.
The full story
If you’re interested in reading more about my personal experience with cancer, find out more about My Story. My journey has been nothing but a full-on learning experience that I’d love to share with you. If what you see resonates with you and makes you want to do more with your someday goals now, reach out to me! I can help you get past the survival mode you may be stuck in and get you living the life you deserve!
The best way to continue growing is to learn from others’ experiences. As much as I rely on my tribe, I hope all of you know how much you can rely on me, too. If you have your own health-related story, I want to hear those too! Share them below in the comments…