The day I got the news

Today marks 9 years since I got the phone call telling me that I had breast cancer. The following post popped up in my Facebook memories today:

Little did I know that a few hours later I would receive the call. I had this whole awesome weekend planned. I was dating this guy from Oahu and he flew in Friday evening to spent a long weekend with me and my boy. Sunday was going to be valentine’s day and Monday was presidents day.

That Saturday we had planned to drive up to the top of haleakala and have a picnic and just enjoy that magical place. So while we were driving up, my pcp called. I answer the phone and she told me that the biopsy results came in already. So I ask her what the results are, and she says that I’ll have to come into the office for that…..

At that moment you know that it’s not nothing, didn’t fully realize yet she was going to tell me that I have breast cancer. So I tell her that we’re half way up the mountain, that I’m not turning around and drive back down, and no matter what she tells me, that I’m going to enjoy the weekend. And boy, was i glad i made that decision….

So she tells me its cancer….. I get quiet, tears streaming down my face, I cant speak, don’t know what to do….. then I ask her what’s next, and she says some things, then we hang up the phone. I’m baffled for a moment. There’s no breast cancer in my family, I was only 35, relatively healthy. It had to sink in for a moment…… At that short moment I allowed myself to process and cry, I turn to nathan and tell him that we were going to kick cancer’s ass. There was no doubt in my mind in that moment.

Then I called my parents, half way across the world. I dont remember what time it was and if they were still up or not. Ofcourse they were shocked. I’m sure they cried…. I called my best friend and my sister as well back home. I also called a local friend…..

Then we got back in the car and continued our trip up the mountain. We shared tears, smiles, laughter, and love.

I dont remember if I had a goodnight sleep, I might have taken something to help me sleep….. on Sunday I had my last poledancing class of this 6 weeks series I did with a friend. After that we went out for lunch. Again it was a day of laughter, tears, joy, and love.

On Monday we went whale watching. We had never been, it was so beautiful and magical. Seeing the whales play in the ocean. They are such magnificent creatures. We had a great time…..

I am so grateful that my doctor didn’t make me come into the office to give me the news. That she told me over the phone. I know that if I had gone into the office, my mindset would have been so different, and most likely I would have gone home after and cry and feel sorry for myself. Now I was able to give it a positive swing, and I just have such beautiful memories about that weekend. My journey wasn’t always easy, but I made the decision to stay positive and not to let it get me down.

Now 9 years since that phone call, my life has changed so much, changed for the better. I have grown in all aspects of my life. I’m very grateful that I had that experience. It might sound strange, and it wasn’t always easy, but the growth it has brought me…… I’m truly blessed.

What is stopping you

This is something I have been thinking about lately. We make so many excuses for not reaching our goal or for not trying to do something etc. I see this in the boys, but also in myself. I had a rotator cuff repair back in June. Before my surgery I wasn’t able to do all the things I like to do, and with my recovering I was limited as well, of course there were a lot of things I still could do, and I still was teaching my Zumba and yoga classes with my arm in a sling, but I didn’t work out for me, I let my recovery come in the way and be an excuse not to be as active as I was before. This of course translated into weight gain. So now I am on a mission to loose that weight again. Guess what, it is so much easier to gain then loose, ok at least for me. Of course I can tell you that I am over 40 and on hormone treatment and use those as excuses as well, yes it might make it harder, but I know from personal experience that it is not impossible.

Why do we make excuses

So why are we so freaking good at making excuses. For me it is not just my weight loss journey, but also my own business. For my youngest it is not wanting to try something new he thinks doesn’t come that easy. He is very smart, and subjects in school come very easy, but other things in life or in sports not as easy, so he makes excuses. Why are we so freaking afraid to try, to just make that jump, to let go and dive right in. What stops us from reaching our goals that we set for ourselves, assuming the goals are realistic.

For my business part, for the most past it is fear, what if I don’t succeed, etc, but also how can I charge for things I would do for free, teach people about exercise, spirituality, yoga, meditation, breath work, or for my card readings. On top of that there is self doubt, there are people more fit then me, why would someone come for a workout to me, or there are people way more spiritual then me, what do I have to teach. To much in my head. But then when I look and see what happens in my yoga class, I know I have something to offer. In the end I want to offer so many more services to cancer survivors and be a beacon of hope and guidance.

So the question is still, why all these excuses, how do we stop our self doubt, our self sabotage, our insecurities, and how do we fully embrace our talents, and truly believe that we can achieve what we want to achieve. Why is it so hard to step out of our comfort zone, and we know outside of that bubble is where we grow.

How to stop making excuses

We need to stop comparing ourselves with other people, yes someone may be fitter then me, but that doesn’t mean that person is a better trainer, not saying that person will be worse either, but not everyone will relate or connect well with that person. I may just bring something to the table that person X needs, which person Y doesn’t provide, because that person walked a different path and journey.

We need to stop fearing the unknown. Yes things might go wrong, but it can go right. What if I fall, but honey, what if you fly….. Think back about a time you stepped past your fear, what happened. For me I moved from the Netherlands to Maui and so many wonderful things happened, and yes there were heartaches and headaches as well. Makes you wonder, if I did that, why am I still fearful and holding myself back, good question, I’ll let you know the answer when I figure it out.

We also tend to blame others or our circumstances for why we can’t do something or why something is not working out. I would love to blame my shoulder surgery for my weight gain, but guess what!!, I could have gone walking everyday or gone to the gym and do leg day each and every day, ok maybe not every day, but at least every other day, but no I used my surgery as an excuse.

Set small attainable goals, this is good in a fitness/health journey, but also in starting something new like a business. If you want to loose 30 lbs, it might seem very overwhelming, but when you start by walking more each day, or cut out sugar, or something attainable, it will be less overwhelming.

An other good one is to stop focusing on our weakness. We are so good at pointing out our own shortcomings, and others if I may add. But focus on your strengths. I might not be very good at book keeping, but I am good at guiding my students in my yoga classes. When you start a business and it is too overwhelming because there are tasks involved that you’re not good at, then you can also delegate. Note to self: find someone to do your website.

Visualization is very powerful as well. You can write your goals out in detail into a journal. And then be very specific, how will you feel, what will your success look like. If it is about starting your business, what kind of people will you help, who are your customers. If you’re wanting to get healthier, how will it feel, how will your skin glow, will you have lost some weight and fit in that cute outfit, or is your bloodwork better and you can stop some of your medications. Go in detail, feel it, experience it while you write it down.

And you know what? It is ok to fall down, but you want to get back up, don’t allow negative thoughts to take over. If you don'[t succeed the first time, doesn’t mean you should just throw in the towel and give up. You know that it is perfectly fine that you are not perfect, that you make mistakes, and then you learn from them, so next time you won’t make that same mistake again. You have the power to change, you have the power to succeed, so what is still stopping you?

Self-care quote

Quick quote with some thoughts.

Self-care is such an important concept, it’s so important for body, mind, and soul, but still so many people don’t practice it. How high is self-care on your daily to do list, is it somewhere on the top, or maybe all the way at the bottom.

When I got diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010, I learned the hard way how important self-care is. That you can’t give from an empty cup, and that when you keep on putting everything and everyone else before you, that at one point your body will say enough is enough. It might not be as extreme as cancer, but your body will tell you.

Many woman have been taught to put their husbands and children first, to basically ignore their own needs. I still hear women say that their children come first etc. I understand your children are important, but if you don’t take moments on the day for yourself, to just pause, and be, how are you going to be there for others. It doesnt mean that you spent most of your day just on you, but there is a balance. And honestly a self-care practice doesnt have to take long. You can take a shower in the morning before your kids wake up. And not just a quick mindless shower, but a very mindful one. That you feel your touch on your skin when you wash your body, truly feel the temperature of the water, how and where the water hits your body. You can also why you apply soap on your body, while you wash yourself say affirmations of love to yourself.

Ok I was not going to write s whole long post about this. Maybe some day I’ll come back to this subject and write an actual post with more tips.

Just take a moment to close your eyes and take a few deep breaths, and just be for as moment, sit in love, and be present.

Do we need to be right

Not to long ago I had a conversation with my bonus son about being right. In his 11 year old mind, when 2 people have a difference of opinion, or a different point of view, someone is right and someone is wrong. So then I tried to explain that when two people don’t see eye to eye, that no one has to be right or wrong without making him feel he was wrong, but giving him a different point of view. Of course he said he was wrong, and I tried to explain that his experience in life up to that moment didn’t make him wrong or me right, which is hard without making it sound that I was right. This boy keeps me on my toes. He questions a lot, which is good and what I encourage.

Why do we feel the need to be right?

The way I see it, it is all an ego thing. And yes my ego gets in the way as well and I just want to be right sometimes. Being brutally honest here. And yes with certain things there might be someone right or wrong. But when it comes to our lives experience, believe system, etc, I don’t believe there is a right or wrong.

So my bonus son did want to be right in saying that it is not always a difference of opinion. He, of course, came up with this wonderful example: “Mom, if there is an atomic bomb that drops within 3 feet of these two guys and one believes they are going to die and the other one believes they won’t, one is clearly going to be right.” To witch I responded:”maybe one person doesn’t believe in life after death or reincarnation and thinks that bomb will mean the final end, and the other one believes in after life or reincarnation and knows that his soul will continue to exist after the bomb.” To witch he responded: “mom, they don’t believe in that stuff, one is a scientist and the other an atheist.” I just had to shake my head and tell him in that case both guys would know they’re going to die.

But why do we need to be right? Why does it make us feel so good? Does it really make us better then the other person? Like I said, it has a lot if not all to do with our ego. If we could get our ego’s out of the way, would being right about things be still so important?

Is there a better way?

Back to my family, and me trying to explain to my bonus son (who only lives every other week with us) about not always having to be right. In my household, I am the spiritual person and my other half is the scientific person. So there are many things we don’t see the same way. But we both respect each others opinion. My bonus son thought that people don’t agree that it would turn into an argument, and that’s when I tried to explain that people can have difference of opinions without anyone being right or wrong, but still respecting each others point of view.

I didn’t get to this point over night, in my younger days I loved to be right, I was a know it all. But over time I learned, with lots of practice to let the ego get out of the way, and patience to see other peoples points of view and that I could actually learn from that as well. That by listening to other people and how they see things I got a broader perspective and learned things or saw things in a different light that I had never seen before. Can I say that it made me wiser?

How do we practice this

So how can we practice ” the not wanting to be right thing”. We need to learn to set our ego aside. This is what you can practice with mindfulness and meditation. Is it an over night thing? No, it takes practice to be able to see and listen with more then your ego. An other thing is to listen with an open heart and mind, without feeling the need to respond and/or defend your own point of view. When you feel like you want to defend because you think you are right, try to catch yourself, be mindful, and take a few deep breaths and tell yourself that it is the other persons opinion, and try to think about the fact that you might have never looked at it from that persons perspective.

This of course can be practiced when your in a fight or argument as well, because those can come from misunderstandings or differences of opinions, but when it starts to get heated like that already, it is way harder to take that step back and breath and really truly listen to the other persons opinion.

Life would be so much more beautiful if everybody learns to listen with an open heart and an open mind. That we can value and respect each other opinions. After all we are here to lift each other up as well, not just ourselves.

Being in charge of our emotions.

This is such an important concept. We can not control what other people do or say, but we can control how we respond to these outside stimuli. This is something we try to teach our boys, that they are in charge of their own emotions, and not just that, also in charge of their own happiness. My parents didn’t really teach me that I was in charge of my own emotions, and that brought on a lot of pain, sorrow, and low self esteem.

What happens when we are not in charge

I can tell you what happened to me. I was definitely not in charge of my emotions when I was younger, sometimes I still allow my emotions to get the better of me, I didn’t even realize until way later in life that I was actually in charge of my emotions. But what did it do to me when I was younger and I had no clue. I got bullied in school, and I allowed the words to get to me, I didn’t know what they said was just their point of view or them portraying their insecurities on me. My parents didn’t tell me that I could control or learn to respond in a way that I would be in control of how those words made me fell, but then again, their parents probably never taught them either. So what did this bullying do to me? I got very insecure, I thought I was fat, and ugly. I thought I needed validation and love from others, I didn’t know it was within me all this time. Don’t get me wrong, getting a compliment feels good and it can be a nice confidence boost, but you should never rely on other peoples opinions about you on how you see yourself.

I will not go in to detail on the things I have done to get validation, to feel loved and appreciated. It’s nothing very major or serious, but I can tell you that it took me many, many years to get out of that bad habit. Yes I call it a bad habit, because what I did, and why I did it was not healthy. I was looking for something from outside, from other people that I should have been able to give myself.

How do we change our response?

So how do we learn to be in charge of our emotions? Self awareness is very important here. Know how you respond to certain situations, know your self worth, and what others think of you is just their opinion or they reflect their own opinion about themselves upon you. I learned at a later age that I got bullied because the girls were jealous. I had no clue that they were just portraying their own insecurities onto me.

So how do we change how we respond to situation or words of other people. First of all we can pause and take a step back and look at the bigger picture. What is going on here….. When someone says something to you that might hurt your feelings, if you allow it, does it say something about you or them. Keep in mind that it has everything to do with them and very little with you. An other thing to work on is to change our thoughts. When someone say something that you don’t like, don’t go in a negative thought spiral, but reflect on it, catch your thoughts and change them. If someone doesn’t like your hair, that is their opinion, doesn’t mean you can’t be happy with the way it looks.

I am keeping it kind of broad here and I am not going to deep into detail, I just want to share my experiences and what I learned and what I try to teach my kids, and right now they mostly deal with opinions of others and maybe some angry words from parents from time to time and they are learning how to deal with those situations, but overall you can apply this to harder situations as well. And all of this doesn’t mean we should always be happy and blissful, no we will experience pain in our lives, and that’s ok, yoiu just don’t want to get stuck there. But don’t feel pain because of someone elses opinion about you. I read so much on Facebook about these things. “you said this or that, or some people are so into themselves, holding grudges for nothing, but I am over it” Apparently you are not quit over it if you need to post something like that on Facebook, and that is ok, maybe it is a way to cope, but also, are you giving the other person more power over you by allowing these things to bother you.

Don’t give your power away

This is one thing I catch myself saying a lot to my youngest. He is upset because someone said or did something or his father is a little angry with him for not listening. I always ask him why he is crying or upset, and when he tells me, I ask him why he allows the other person to have so much power over him. Why he allows the other person to control how he feels. If someone said something mean I ask him if there is any truth in it. If not, then I asks who’s opinion it is and if he sees himself that way. If there is some truth to it, I ask if it is something he can change or is willing to change, in either way, he is in control. I know if I had learned these things at a younger age life would have been different, but we all have our own path. I do think it is important to start teaching our children now. There is so much bullying going on in the schools and so many kids are negatively effected by it, but also most kids don’t know that they are in charge of their own emotions and that it doesn’t have to destroy them. I know it is not easy, and I am not going any further down this rabbit hole.

Some last thoughts

Other things that can help you to learn to have control over your emotions is having an outlet. I used to have some anger issues, or get frustrated, punching on a pillow or even crying into a pillow gave some sweet release. I used to be this roller coaster of emotions, but with my spiritual practice and becoming more aware of what I feel and how I respond, it is not all that extreme anymore, but sometimes you just have to let things out. One other thing that helps me is dancing, just putting on some music and allowing your body to move how ever it wants to move.

Also a spiritual practice can be very helpful. Meditation is a great tool to become more mindful and less responsive. It has helped me so much. Breathing is an other important tool. Before you respond, take a few deep breaths, mindful deep breaths, really breathing into that belly button, and see how you feel, how will you respond then.

I hope this post will give some wisdom in any way. Feel free to comment with things that has helped you become in charge of your emotions. After all we are all here to help, serve, teach, and guide each other.