New Beginnings

Welcome 2024 – whether we’re ready for you or not, here you are 😀 As the clock struck midnight, I felt a deep sense of gratitude, having spent the night with a good friend. We enjoyed drinks on a rooftop, watched a lightning show in the distance, and danced like no one was watching. I tucked myself into bed at a civilised 1:30am with a smile on my face and optimism in my heart.

I didn’t set any new year’s resolutions. Reflection and growth are instead a daily practice. Why wait for the end of the year to give yourself the chance to reset or branch out?

There seems to be an expectation that if you survive something life altering like cancer, you somehow develop the ability to ‘live life to the fullest’ each and every day. My experience has been the opposite. It’s so very easy to get swept back into the daily grind and lose sight of what matters if you’re not careful. Is it important to make the most of the time we have…absolutely! However, this culture of wellmania (Celeste Barber – spot on as always) feels like a whirlwind that can suck you in and spit you out, more worse for wear than if you had sat still. How do we strike a healthy balance without pulling 16-hour days, just so we can tick off work, friends, family, exercise, but also don’t forget to relax now! Balance, just like reflection and growth, is a muscle that I’ve been training and a fundamental part of my recovery journey.

To heal from the inside out has required investment and practice in a number of areas. At the centre has been the journey to heal myself emotionally as well as understanding what brings me a sense of purpose. All of this takes time and repetition. Don’t get caught up in whether you hit your goals out of the park from one day to the next. Make room for all the parts of you in all your iterations. Give yourself permission to take the time and love yourself as you do a close friend. Switching to this mentality meant that I suddenly found myself succeeding in areas that I had previously struggled for many years.

I felt a lustre within me growing, like a ball of light, bright and radiating from within, so much so that the people in my life noticed the positive shift.

Hand-in-hand with the emotional healing, was the importance of living with intention. Having new experiences and adventures, both big and small, brings me a deep sense of fulfillment. I’ve lost count of the number of new beginnings and experiences that I’ve had since having cancer, which is pretty thrilling in and of itself. In the last couple of years, I’ve been to Japan, a health retreat, tried out martial arts, painting, singing lessons, taken up indoor climbing, swimming and returned to other pleasures I had long forgotten.

The list is still long and I’m finding a great deal of joy steadily working my way through the ever-expanding list.

A recent experience I had in the new year, sums up neatly the healing journey I’ve been on and the peace that I’ve found within myself. Very, very unexpectedly, I found myself getting my first tattoo! Second if you count the radiation tattoos. But at least this one was of my own volition. In a previous blog ‘My First Tattoo – Three Blue Dots & a $20,000 Bill!’, I talk about liking tattoos but not ever thinking I would get one myself. I just couldn’t think of a design that I would want permanently etched on my body. As it turns out, all it took was an Instagram reel of cute sister tattoos, my sibling seizing the opportunity she never thought would come, and my leaning into the discomfort.

I had four weeks from go-to-woah to decide on a design, location and come to terms with it all. I felt resolute that if I intuitively didn’t want a tattoo, then I wouldn’t get one. A question I often ask myself is what my 10- or 80-year-old self would say. Well, my 80-year-old self responded with a resounding ’get the damn tattoo and live’. Accessing the power of Pinterest and unpacking my thoughts and feelings around it all, I decided that one of the most important elements would be to get the tattoo in my pelvic region. I wanted to honour all that part of my body had been through and acknowledge that while physically I may not be complete, energetically I am. On the day, I felt a buzz of excitement and surprisingly very little doubt around my decision. The artist and studio were brilliant. Even the other clients getting their own tattoos were a great group of people. The whole experience has been so positive and something I will always treasure.

Now when I look down at my tattoo, it looks like it just belongs, as if it was always meant to be there. It feels like a visible representation of the lustre and glow that I feel within.

While a new year has started, I urge you to give yourself permission to start over and experience new things whenever you need. There is no timeline or expectation of how you should navigate your recovery from cancer. I’m still surprised at times that I’m 8 years down the track in what feels like something that occurred only 4 years ago. There have been many times I have tried something new or created a new habit that just hasn’t stuck. So what, just try again and treat yourself with the love and kindness you would a good friend. With that, I wish you an exciting year ahead. I’m sure we’ll all have ups and downs, but when we reflect on the year that was, our 80-year-old self will say with a nod of approval ‘now that’s living’.

I’d love to hear about your new beginnings! Get in touch via Instagram or Messenger.  

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