Early this year I had a surgery to remove three kidney stones that turned my life upside down. Nine months into my healing journey, I feel called to share three of the things I’ve learned so far in the hopes that they might help someone else in some way.
1. Love means showing up.
Years ago my grandma fell and broke her elbow. For a while she couldn’t cook, clean, or even wash her hair. She needed a lot of help. I remember her telling me how surprised she was by who did and didn’t show up. Some of the people who she thought of as her best friends disappeared while others, who she wasn’t as close with, came to help her again and again.
I’ve had a similar experience. In a time when we celebrate people’s birthdays by writing on their Facebook page, I deeply appreciative the people who took time to bring me food, take me for a walk (even though I was slow), called just to chat, organized a prayer circle when I was in the hospital, sent gifts, checked in regularly with long text exchanges full of encouragement, and kept me company on tough days.
I have spent a lot of my professional career focused on social change. This experience has made me realize that as crucial as systemic social change is, truly showing up for one another through life’s challenges may be the most important work we do as human beings.
2. Healing happens through people (and other beings).
Over the last nine months, I’ve had two surgeries, one biopsy, and countless ultrasounds, X-rays, lab work, and appointments with western doctors and alternative healers. I’ve had some very traumatic experiences, and some deeply healing ones. What I experienced was that healing came through people who:
- Respected my humanity, like the nurse’s aide in the hospital who brought a scrunchie in from home to put up my unwashed-for-four-days hair.
- Showed compassion, like the doctor who shared her personal story about dealing with chronic pain.
- Fostered hope, like the physical therapist who told me all of the ways my body was doing great before addressing things that needed care.
- Truly listened, like the body worker who always spent 15 minutes talking with me about how I was doing and about life in general before starting the session.
3. Self-care is important. Like really important. And structure helps.
I’ve always hated the phrase, “self-care.” It sounded privileged and frivolous to me. But as I slowly realized that I was healing not only from the physical effects of the surgery, but also from PTSD from medical trauma, self-care became imperative. One of the things that has helped me to heal is to have a check-list of self-care must-do’s each day like this:
- Practice HeartMath
- Eat a real breakfast
- Eat a real lunch
- Take a walk (goal is 70,000 Fitbit steps/week)
- Eat a real dinner
- Practice HeartMath
- Go to bed as early as possible
I’ve learned that when your health and wellbeing is out of whack, it ripples into other areas of your life. I’m not saying I do this routine perfectly every day, or that it will work for anyone else, just that having a must-do list of wellness activities that I hold as one of my highest priorities has helped me to heal.
As someone who helps people share their messages with the world, I’ve been hesitant to write about this part of my life. It doesn’t have anything to do with books, or blogs, or communications, but it has definitely influenced how I approach my work. It’s why I’ve found myself publishing posts like Connection vs. Clicks, 20 Ways to Be a Generous Blogger, and How to Create a Calm, Truly Connected, Content Calendar.
This experience has made me realize how crucial it is to:
- Take care of ourselves
- Be truly connected with one another
In a world where we spend a lot of time sitting indoors on our computers, connecting through technology, and filtering through a barrage of information, I feel like my new mission is to help people share their message through books and e-books and blogs and other online mediums, while also helping them taking care of themselves and be truly connected to each another.
Photos by me.