Day 26: Mindful

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Today, I’m cheating. I’m a cheater-pants blog writer. Do people still say cheater pants? Okay, done chasing that butterfly, back to the topic. I’m cheating because mindful may not be an emotion. It’s more of a state of awareness. If I’m aware of my body, how I’m feeling, where I am in life, I’m being mindful. I’m feeling mindful. So today, I’m calling mindful my Day 26 emotion.  Go ahead, call me cheater-pants if it makes you feel better.

I mentioned in another post that I’d decided that my family should take a short, easy trip before I started radiation therapy. After chemo ended, I was ready for a break. Radiation treatments would be an everyday affair for seven straight weeks. If I missed my chance to do something with the family, I’d have to wait a couple months.

Usually, the oncologists scheduled radiation treatments to begin two or three weeks after chemo was completed. I asked for an extra week so we could go to a pretty state park in Arkansas to hang out. I thought the guys could get out in the water and hike around. I was just happy to be somewhere other than at home or at the treatment center.

While I was getting used to living the chemo-free high-life, I started to feel a bit more like myself. A regular flow of drugs was not messing with my brain and body. I was still weak and couldn’t do much, but I could feel myself slowly picking my way out of my cocoon. I felt lighter, more aware of things going on around me and like I might want to do something. Anything. I started to mentally assess how I was, how I would be, and how long it would take.

Meditation is often associated with mindfulness. I’m not a meditator. I’ve tried now and again, but I can’t seem to do anything but let my mind wander and to wonder how long I should try. For me, I became mindful as I just sat with myself, not particularly thinking or doing anything, just being. There were times before and during the trip when the guys were out, and I’d just sit in the room or find a chair with a view. I’d come away with a sense of where I was, emotionally, physically. Some days, it was good. I felt good about taking the break for my own peace of mind. Some days, I cried because something happened, like when I couldn’t go back in the pool because my swimsuit hadn’t dried in the air-conditioned room and was still wet. My sensitive body couldn’t take it. I cried because that’s where I still was physically, mindful of lingering limitations, then stopping. I realized that my mind and body were the way they and that was okay as I was healing from treatment.

By the way, the trip was enjoyable! Maybe a bit underwhelming for the guys. They’re so thoughtful, and they didn’t want to leave me by myself to do things. I was happy to know that they were out paddle boarding or whatever and having fun while I was relaxing. All these years, they haven’t learned that about me! One of the most fun things we did was driving around to capture Pokémon for the new Pokémon Go! mobile game. We were together and silly, and that’s what mattered.

So, I’m not sure if what I’ve described is what mindful is. Please don’t consult an actual philosopher! I’m saying this is what it was for me, and I’m standing by it.

Sometimes, when you’re facing a health or emotional crisis, you have to step back and leave room for you. You can take 10 quiet minutes away from everyone and just sit with your coffee or tea. You might say, “I’m too busy,” but I know there are 10 minutes in your day available! Don’t worry, don’t wonder, don’t make to-do lists. Just be aware of and accept yourself, whatever state your mindfulness indicates you’re in.

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