“The more joy you have, the more perfect you are.” ~ Spinoza
Last night I couldn’t sleep. I started to worry about getting cancer again. Why? Probably because everything is going so well. And when things go really well, sometimes I worry about something really bad happening. And for many people, the worse thing they could think of is to get cancer. For me, that’s already happened – twice – so then I worry it will come back. It is very annoying.
In my coaching practice, I often remind clients that our life lessons are revisited over and over again. We look at our challenges like a spiral, where we pass through something again but in a different place, at a slightly – or radically – different vibration or perspective. This is one of mine. And this is where I walk my talk.
But what is this challenge, exactly? I think it is fear that life isn’t as perfect as I know it really is. A doubt that I may not be right. That perfection in all things isn’t possible. That I don’t have the right to be so happy or feel so perfect.
Then I do what I do with my clients in this space, “ So ‘What if,’ Ana? What if you got cancer again and it didn’t get better this time. What would you do differently?”
Know what was cool?
I would do nothing differently. Well, maybe hang out with my mom more, but she’s coming up next month so I feel OK about that.
When I had this same scare a little over a year ago, I completely freaked out because I was not living my life to the fullest. To others it certainly looked like it. But for MY standards, for what I wanted, I knew I was selling myself short.
I changed a lot in my life since then – how much I work, how I spent my time, who I gave my love to. That whole scare is why I started my Full On 365 blog: to commit to living fully every day. No regrets. And it worked.
Now, with this same scare, I at least have a sense of peace that I am living fully, loving fully, feeling fully.
It is priceless.
But it is still scary. The thought of leaving all I love before I feel ready (otherwise known as “dying”) is deeply scary.
I drop into memories of my deepest meditations, when I could feel in my cells that every being is timeless, that this limited “I” in this body, onto which I grasp so firmly, is an illusion, and that I am so much more than I even know; that even if I die, there is a wisdom and peace with it and a realization that there is no end. Like one of my fave teachers said, “Rejoice for those around you who transform into the force.” (Yoda;)
But the thought of not spending time with my partner and actualizing all our dreams, of my mother crying as she never fathomed life without me…these things bring tears to my eyes as I write this. Sometimes I don’t want to think about it. Yet, I know I need to. if anything, because it ensures I don’t waste my precious life. Or that I don’t take this beautiful planet we live on for granted.
Death is to be contemplated. To avoid thinking about it is to avoid looking love in the eyes. I say this because there is a certain realization brought about only by REALLY understanding you are going to die and that you don’t know when – that life and love are precious, and that you dare not waste another minute of your precious life energy on anything but living and loving fully. Until you realize this, sure – you can love, and even feel it is full-on…But there’s another, deeper, more rich level there. Trust me.
Do you have a hard time contemplating death? Do you have a practice of thinking about it regularly? Let me know what you do below – I’d love to hear from you!
Note: Ana Neff is a personal life coach, guide and FreedomJunkie™ She helps passionate people awaken their lives of freedom, adventure and purpose. Her monthly eZine goes out to hundreds of subscribers. Her “Full-On 365” blog posts stem from her commitment to living full-on, every day, for 365 days in a row. If you are ready to take your life and your world to the next level, you can learn more about her coaching programs and download her FREE Getting Clear Guide by visiting FreedomJunkie.com (note: it’s new look will be up to rock your world soon)!
OK Fuck Cancer. I am SO over it. Sometimes I want to yell at it and chew it out and get pissy at it and smack it in the face. And kick it. Then I get scared it will get mad at me and kill me. Then I also see it for what it is. A thing. And I realize maybe I am so pissed at it because I see it as this “thing” that means so many other things, when really it is just being all it is and just doing what it’s DNA is telling it to do.
This all comes from an instance when I was mountain biking this past week. On our drive back to Oregon from Colorado, we decided to hop out of the car and go for a quick ride to get the blood flowing near a pass in Nevada. I was enjoying the beautiful view. And then we came down this steep hill and I could see the steep uphill in front of us. I got ready, and pedaled pedaled and pedaled and then I just couldn’t do it. I was so tired. So I got off to walk the bike. That’s OK. I’ve had to do that. Then I could barely even walk it up.
WTF? I had just rode hours yesterday in Moab up and down all these trails, and I thought I was getting in better shape. I know I am in my own personal worse shape I’ve been in a long time, but I thought it was still better than the average American and certainly better than the beer-bellied dudes who were riding past me earlier in the week. So my only conclusion brought me to tears as I pushed the bike uphill, heavily breathing and not understanding why…
I started sobbing, and my then-boyfriend (now husband) looked back at me, put down his bike, and as he was walking towards me he asked, “What’s wrong?” “I’m sad,” I said through my tears.
“Why? It’s OK. I’m tired too,” he consoles.
And he put his über-fit arms around me. Hummmph. I wish I was that fit.
I’m getting there.
“I’ve never felt like this. It makes me think I have metastases to my lungs…” I say to him with reservation, not sure if he’ll think I’m a freak.
Are you fucking kidding me?!!! (Sorry, I do swear my share, but even moreso when I talk about The Big “C” sometimes) I haven’t had cancer for years now. For those of you new here, I had renal cell carcinoma in 2004 and melanoma in 2009, I think. That’s right. I don’t remember off the top of my head and I refuse to stop and do math for the Big C. After my second cancer I kinda stopped keeping track of exact dates. Like I do with birthdays. Or AP History.
In any event, it is incredibly frustrating that when I breathe hard at altitude with a sport I’ve only done maybe five times in the last 4 years I think I have renal cell carcinoma or melanoma cancer cells that set up shop in my lungs.
Now that is messed up.
So I let it wash over me, and I cried and cried. I told him it was OK, that I just needed to let it out. He told me his lungs were burning too and that he was breathing really hard. And he has been super-cardio-fit forever and even he was feeling it. Whatever. I guess I believe him. At the very least, I love him for even saying that.
I told myself it was the allergies, the tall grasses and wildflowers, my mild reactive airway issues, and my late nights catching babies on call 5 days in a row several times a month all winter – and oh, yes, those Annie’s cheddar bunnies chock-full of gluten goodness that led to this panting fate.
And I tried to enjoy the ride down…and I dare say I actually did enjoy it.
Then last night I have this caffeine headache because I decided to stop caffeine since I am so hyper anyway, and I swear it just crept into my life unbeknownst to me and my coffeemaker. But it started while I was asleep.
And you know what I dream? That it’s a melanoma on my freakin’ head and no one noticed it so I am pissed that no one saw it and told me there was this massive cancerous crap on my head. And I know too much about medicine (thanks, UCSF) so I know it’s likely categorization/staging and I think FUCK. I really messed this one up. This is what I get for rarely combing my hair.
And I then realize I am dreaming. HOLY CRAP I AM DREAMING! YAY!!!!! And I decide to change the course of the dream, and wake the hell up.
I comb my hair.
I order “Crazy Sexy Diet, ” (written by the badass Kris Carr who wrote Crazy Sexy Cancer and lives with a rare “incurable” liver cancer for WAY longer than they thought she would…plus she’s hot) to be shipped via free 2-day UPS, and think, “Dang. I need to eat more greens. And maybe even a little less bacon. Done.”
We all have “cancer” in our lives. Its that thing that scares you, that makes you feel powerless. Something you want to get rid of. What’s yours? Let me know below…I’d love ya for it!
Note: Ana Verzone (Neff) is a personal life coach, guide and FreedomJunkie® She helps individuals awaken their lives of freedom and personal success with confidence, clarity, self-love, and passion. Her monthly Ziji Up!™ eZine goes out to hundreds of subscribers. Her Full-On 365 blog posts stem from her commitment to living full-on, every day, for 365 days in a row. If you are ready to take your life and your world to the next level, you can learn more about her coaching programs and download her FREE Getting Clear Guide by visiting FreedomJunkie.com
Wow…so sometimes when you live full on, the Universe reminds you of exactly how happy this makes her, and how much more beautiful the world is because of it.
When I was facing a serious cancer and going through my inventory of possible regrets, I had but one major one. I was pretty happy about that. I had learned enough to attempt to appreciate life regularly, and had spent all of my 20s adventuring all over the world. I had begun deep healing in my relationships with my parents. I was a whacky but fiercely loyal friend and partner. And I had learned to be compassionate with myself about using the word “regret.”
I had a general rule that if I learned from the experience and made amends for it, I could call it a mistake or a lesson, rather than a regret. But let me tell you this: when looking at not being able to do anything about a regret cuz you may die, even one regret SUCKS.
So…I am guessing you’re wondering: What was my ONE major regret? It had to do with LOVE, of course! I had one great love that I had not fully appreciated or done everything I could for. We met in Kathmandu in our 20s, and all sorts of social “rights” and “wrongs” (too soon after a breakup so maybe I wasn’t clear…having to do the responsible thing…yada yada) kept me from saying “yes” when he asked, “Will you come ride a motorcycle with me through Cambodia and Laos?” Or months later when he came to visit me en route to Antarctica.
We kept in touch, regularly. We had 2-3 hour phone conversations (even until recently!). We tried to date but were always on different continents. Not different continents like North vs South America. Like Antarctica vs North America. That made it challenging.
Then I pushed him away by doing some hurtful things that I didn’t know were hurtful at the time…probably because my heart was closed off after hearing he was dating a woman in Antarctica, or dating a woman in Alaska. Sheesh. How embarrassing. Apparently those things kind of kept him from opening his heart to me anymore then. Fair enough. You can’t expect someone to open their heart to you if yours is squeezing shut.
We talked about “us” and resigned ourselves to the fact that while we both wanted to be together and give it a go, perhaps it just wasn’t meant to be in this lifetime. It was too difficult to make it happen. So we became “just” friends. REALLY good friends. Like he called me from the South Pole, or sent me little trinkets from Egypt or Bolivia when he would barely email anyone else, and called me when he was having a really hard decision to make. Or like I would call him when something awesome happened in my life…like, oh, say…when I got engaged.
We had promised each other we’d tell the other person – not matter how distanced we may ever become – if either of us got engaged. I can safely say we both assumed this was to give the other person a last chance to go for it.
So I called him. And he sounded surprised, then…he congratulated me.
I hate to admit it now, but I was indeed disappointed. It might have been wise to listen to that. It could have spared me my later divorce (albeit an amicable one, for my ex was indeed a super awesome man). However, I was young on my path to understanding my intuition then. I had chalked it up to “grass is greener” syndrome. Plus, he had a girlfriend he met in Antarctica that swam to islands in Fiji with him with a plastic bag tied around their ankle full of their belongings. WTF. How can you top that when you’re stuck doing 12 hour shifts at a hospital while in graduate school in San Francisco (albeit also squeezing in Yosemite walls and climbing trips to Australia, alone)? You don’t. You just are happy for him, that’s what. Sheesh.
In any event, as I was preparing for my cancer excision and renal auto-transplant in 2004, wondering how sick I was (or how sick I was going to be), I thought of HIM. That relationship was my one “What if.” HE was the one thing I had wished I had gone for fully. Not pushing him away. Not making up stupid excuses. Not waiting until it was convenient or easy. And now I was married, and he was about to be engaged (although I didn’t know that at the time), and both our partners were totally amazing. Fuck.
So I let it go.
I KNOW, right?! But I wanted to do what seemed like the “right thing” then… and a big part of me still feels good about that.
In any event, I tell you all this because the Universe is supposed to have come in and given me props for all my full-on living thus far. And she did.
The past few days when I wasn’t writing here, I was fully experiencing love with HIM. I am 38, and I am finally with him. I know now that the decade+ delay was all for good reasons. We appreciate each other even more now, that’s for sure. We learned to love one another as friends. We REALLY know each others’ crap, and knowing that the other person still wants to be with us after all that is rather lovely. And we learned many things in our other relationships that we didn’t have to learn with each other, which surely spared some heartache. And there are many other things to celebrate about having surrendered to the Universe back then. But no matter what, all I know is I am absolutely receiving love from him, fully and completely. And dishing it out.
Yes yes, we are building our lives together, and making all those plans and talking about kids etc. But for me, the point is that I AM FINALLY ABLE TO LOVE HIM FULLY, LIKE I ALWAYS WANTED TO. And I am receiving his love fully, like I never let myself do before. To be honest, even if we don’t stay together “forever,” I can die knowing I experienced my great love. And that is so much better than a “What if.”
Many of you could call my bluff…if you’ve truly been dealing with dying before you were ready before. I have to admit, there’s nothing like that to get you to realize exactly HOW SHITTY it feels to have “What ifs” when you are possibly going to die much sooner than you ever thought possible.
And now I got a second chance. How often does that happen? Probably not often, because actually we also have a huge part in CREATING those second chances ourselves, and we often give up too soon. But having said that, THANK YOU for this second chance (to all involved)!
It wasn’t an easy peasy “I’ll call you and let’s meet up for coffee” kind of thing. We were still almost a continent apart. When we both first opened up to this possibility again, he was heading off to China, and after that trip he returned to his home-base in Alaska (I was currently in Oregon). Getting to be with him took some balls this time around too. I really had to take some risks, and so did he. But it was so worth it. So very, very worth it.
I was talking to a client the other day about wanting to protect our hearts, and I was reminded of my new willingness for it to get hurt again as long as I am honoring my truth all the while. It is NOT worth protecting it at the price of possibly not loving fully again (there are wise ways to do this, but that’s another post;) The risks, while scary, are part of the dealio.
So the past few days have been me receiving fully and loving fully. And I find little notes from him in my stuff, and I watch him sleep and I’m like, “HOLY SHIT! I am with him! Like I always felt I should be! This is SO WEIRD! And so incredibly cool.” Talk about patience and faith and trust. And risk-taking. And … who knows what else.
But what I DO know is that had I not been committed to living Full On, to not making excuses, to not wasting any more of my precious life energy doing anything I do not want to be doing, to being willing to take the risks…I could have missed out on this. All of it.
If you’ve vomited after this, I completely understand. For me, it is The Notebook in real life, after all. Well, The Notebook minus the horse races and white picket fence and white people and one of us being an aristocrat part. Well, minus lots of things from that…but PLUS many more of our own flavahs.
I’ll admit that I own The Notebook, and everyone told me it was Hollywood bullshit, by the way. And yes, I know many of you are devastatingly disappointed by my admitting that, but oh well;) It is the only love story movie I own. The rest are Kung Fu flicks and the Star Wars series. However, I bought it because when I watched it, it reminded me not that my true love was still out there “somewhere,” but that life was too short to make up excuses for not living fully.
I liked being reminded of that, because for me it did so not in a woo woo way, or in a bullshit “Hollywood is trying to make you feel bad about your life” kind of way, but in a “Cut the BS and get off yer ass and go get it, even if you end up disappointing others by staying true to yourself. Life is too short!” type of way. I think it was because I KNEW that was true for me, and I needed to be reminded not to make up excuses anymore. I wasn’t waiting for my prince charming. I just had to have the balls to stop getting in my own way about it.
I still really do believe that it is not about if we stay “together forever” that defines true love, but rather this expansive wholeness that I feel in my heart. To feel this, even only for a brief while, is kissing God. So although I have every reason to believe this is a continuation of another lifetime and will continue to be so, this really, truly, for realz, is enough.
So have you not told someone you care for about your heart? Have you not forgiven someone who desperately wants you to? Have you not apologized for hurting someone, even if you didn’t mean to? Today, PLEASE do something about one thing that you would regret if you put it off. You never know what second chances might open up for you.
PS: I also skied up Near Point and watched cool sunsets;)
Note: Ana Neff is a personal life coach, guide and FreedomJunkie™ She helps individuals awaken their lives of freedom and personal success with confidence, clarity, self-love, and passion. Her monthly Jedi Juice ™ eZine goes out to hundreds of subscribers. Her Full-On 365 blog posts stem from her commitment to living full-on, every day, for 365 days in a row. If you are ready to take your life and your world to the next level, you can learn more about her coaching programs and download her FREE Getting Clear Guide by signing up at anaverzone.com! Sign up for her next FREE Jedi Juice Training call at anaverzone.com/jedi-juice
As you may or may not know, I have a history of cancer (twice! and all clear for several years now), and I probably think about living fully, death, dying and such more than the average person. I got a pretty clear message the other day, and thought I had to share. I get annual MRIs to make sure all is good, and so far it has always been “All is good! Thank you, and see you next year!” THIS time, however, I got the call at 4:55pm on a Friday and a message was left on my machine: “Hi, Ana! Dr. not-being-aware-of-how-people-can-work-themselves-up-with-anxiety-over-a-few-words here. I am leaving the office now and won’t be back in until Tuesday, so try to call me then and we’ll get you those results.”
Now I have to wait 4 days????? Why didn’t he just say all was good? So, of course I can tell myself it is nothing…if it was urgent I would have gotten a call earlier. I listened to the message multiple times to catch subtleties in his tone. I had my close friends and partner listen to it as well. All said he sounded, in effect, jolly, and how could a doctor possibly sound jolly if something indeed was very, very wrong?
Well, if anyone can make up a story around that, a former cancer patient can! I thought “really? am i really going to have to do this AGAIN?” I blamed myself,
even making up a story like perhaps it was because I wasn’t living fully that I was being punished (being raised Catholic can be SUCH a pain around mindset sometimes!). I pictured all the things I wanted to do that might be put off if I had to deal with this, how sad I would be for a little while, then how warrior-like I’d be taking it all on, wondering which of my friends would show up for me, who would this filter out, would I be able to drop a day of work, what would I have done if I was self-employed and didn’t have health insurance, what might this cost to explore and possibly have to fix. That’s a lot of worry and drama. Such is the case when we aren’t in the present (notice how all that stuff wasn’t actually happening!). Wow, I was really going for it, working myself up like that! Or so I thought.
I then went off to a coaching course in San Francisco, and after the first day I somehow ended up putting myself into the loving hands of one of our powerful instructors that weekend, Sabina. To make a long, dramatic, and powerful story short (I know…those are supposed to be the long ones…) THIS was really going for it. She ended up helping me to allow my full range of feelings to manifest and I admitted I was afraid of dying (DUH! But say it: It is weird to say), that I wasn’t ready, that there were times in my life where I actually felt that it would be OK if I died at that moment and THIS wasn’t one of them. I realized that what I feared was not so much death itself, but the fact that I haven’t been living fully. There were things I was putting off, fears that I
allowed to hold me back…only hold me back 10-15%, but still, holding me back! This call wasn’t me getting punished, this was a WAKE UP call because I had let my lessons from my previous experiences drift away from my focus lately. And I was not going to let that happen anymore. I actually hadn’t realized that I had drifted off from my mission of living full-on because relative to many, it appears I am living full-on and I can convince myself of that too when I compare myself to others. But, only I know when that is true, and it wasn’t really true right now! I made the mindset shift, and my coach held me be accountable to live full-on DAILY for the next 21 days. Here I am doing it, and it feels fantastic. I am myself again!
I am writing this so that you don’t have to get the big slap in the face of the big C before you force yourself to look at your life and who you are being. Allow me to have done that for you, and heed the call. So, what have you been putting off doing, or saying? Do it! What grudge have you been holding? Let it GO! Most importantly, who have you been putting off BEING? Be it now!
Knock knock. Who’s there? I am the tick tock of death’s clock here to tell you to WAKE UP NOW!