When you learn to ski at 45 the fear factor is high. I would watch three year old Swiss children barrelling down the mountain while I stood frozen to the spot. My natural reaction when I got scared was to pull back. What happened, as all skiers know, my speed would increase and I would lose control and crash. Learning to lean into the mountain and stay over my boots slowed me down and gave me a modicum of control. And so I learned by falling down and getting up again, and by the end of the season I was even able to make perfect eights with my instructor.
When I received a different kind of “winter shock” at 61, my first reaction was to pull back. The fear factor was high and my entire life was spinning out of control. All of a sudden there was a steep learning curve rather than a steep slope and this time the vocabulary consisted of words and terms like “grade of tumour” not to be confused with “stage,” mastectomy, risk of recurrence, bone scans, MRI, ultra-sounds, Her2, ER and PR and yes, the dreaded chemo. All of a sudden, I went from rarely seeing a Doctor to having several and armed with copies of reports and tons of literature, it occurred to me that since I clearly was setting out on a new, unexpected, and even dangerous journey that my best bet (for me) was to “lean into it.”
And I did.
So rather than “slog” it out I decided to “blog” it out. I created a blog called Joyful Wrecks, where I got to tell tell stories. My intention was to post for 100 days, what I was learning and noticing, with the hope that others living with illness might also find some encouraging words, a little humour, beauty, and quiet space.
I was inspired by Patti Digh at 37 Days and my friend Patricia Ryan Madson at Improv Wisdom to take up blogging. When you get a cancer diagnosis it is not a death sentence but it is a reminder that all of our days are numbered. Patti Digh asks, what would you do if you only had 37 days to live, since one day that will be true for all of us?
With that in mind I began writing a daily blog with the hope that it would remind me to still live fully and not put my life on hold. I wrote primarily for my children and grandchildren but also for the rest of my amazing family, friends and colleagues. It isn’t just me that recommends writing down what matters, whether it is a blog or a private journal. Evidence based research shows the value of writing when faced with illness or other challenging life events. Weaving that golden thread through it all gives us a way forward without losing track of where we have been and reminds us of where we want to go. It was and is helpful for me and my loved ones. Best wishes, Trudy