Breast Cancer · Health Anxiety

Surviving or Thriving?

Survive or thrive

On the eve of turning 40 I’m feeling in a reflective mood.

Turning another decade older seems to be a good opportunity to take stock of what I’ve done so far and to start planning what I’d like to achieve next.

My 30’s seem to have disappeared into a haze of nappies, parents evenings, bath-times and house moves and I don’t actually feel like I’ve achieved much at all!

I also don’t feel like I’ve been ‘present’ for very much of my 30’s either, which is probably why the years feel like they’ve slipped away faster than sand through a timer.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve not been off my head on crack cocaine or laying comatose after too many bottles of Prosecco (not too often anyway!) but my memories of the last ten years are a bit wobbly and I’m finding it difficult to pin-point specific events. It’s like I’ve been living life with only half of my ‘self’.

If my 30’s was a school report it would say ‘could do better’

I’ve been surviving, not thriving.

Life with kids and teens is HARD. It’s way WAY harder than I ever imagined it would be, and challenging in multitudes of small ways every single day. Couple this with a bit of a shaky financial situation, several house moves (13 to be exact), a penchant for hypochondria and you have a recipe for stress.

And I’ve been stressed A LOT these last few years.

Sometimes just making it through from one day to the next has been an achievement in itself.

Which is pretty sad actually…

Because life is GOOD. In fact, life is pretty bloody amazing.

And it only took a cancer diagnosis to remind me of this!

After losing my mum I told people I would ‘live each day like it was my last’ and that it had ‘put everything into perspective’ but these clichés are difficult to make stand the test of time.

I mean how can you possibly live each and every day like it’s going to be your last one on earth?

Because if it really WAS my last day, I probably wouldn’t bother with putting the bins out or paying the TV Licence. I’d think ‘Sod this’ and go skinny-dipping instead. But at some point real life has to take precedence and nobody likes overflowing bins do they?

The problem is that choosing the dirty bins one day, can easily become two days, and then a week, and then a month and before you know it’s been five years and you haven’t run naked headlong into a pool with all your bits wobbling even once.

So how do you get the balance right? How do you thrive instead of just survive?

I don’t know, but I’m hoping I’ll figure this out pretty bloody quickly.

What I DO know is that it isn’t necessarily about the ‘big’ things.

Waiting to win the lottery is foolhardy. Trying to find a career that pays well and fills you with joy each and every day is ludicrous. Houses are just bricks and mortar.

What matters are the little things in life.

My counsellor has told me that when I’m feeling panicky I have to consciously notice three things – like really notice them. For example, the feeling of your feet in their shoes. The smell of cut grass as you walk out into your garden. The sound of children playing in the street outside.

I’ve taken this one step further. I’m trying to consciously notice LIFE.

When my children talk to me, to put down my phone or laptop and really listen to what they’re saying.  When eating to try to notice each mouthful; the textures, the flavours.  When feeling sad, or happy, or excited, to really live the emotion. To say yes more…

Life is tough and demanding and unfair, but it’s also sweet and funny and magical.

And I can’t wait to thrive in it.

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