This is the story of when I faced death one time too many – and the story of where this blog began.
In early 2011 I thought I had cancer – again. I had received an MRI as routine follow-up for my past kidney cancer…during which they also toss in a free check to see if my past melanoma has spread anywhere as well. I received a call from my doctor on a Friday afternoon saying he’d like to talk to me about the results. But since he was leaving town, we could talk about it Monday.
WTF? Who DOES that?! An oncologist is NOT supposed to do that on a Friday afternoon.
After my inner rant about the fu@#ed-up timing of the call, I then thought, “Oh shit. That’s never good.” At least, it never means it is normal. When you have a normal PAP smear, they leave a message (if given permission) that all was normal. They say, “Hello, Ana! This is Merry Mindy from Dr. Good News’ office and I just wanted to let you know your cervix fucking rocks!”
Well, I gave permission for such a message and that is NOT what I was hearing on the answering machine.
I replayed the message over and over, had my friends and boyfriend at the time listen to it to try to decipher the underlying message and, ultimately, to try and decide before freakin’ MONDAY if I was going to receive the news that one of my two cancers had returned – or worse, that they may have spread. All of this based on our highly-attuned voice-interpretation Jedi skills, of course.
We decided it was fine. He sounded mildly cheery and relaxed.
Whatever. The certainty of that conclusion lasted all but five minutes.
Between that moment and Monday, I was going down to San Francisco for a coaching workshop. On the first day, I was selected to be a model client. Well, I raised my hand like that eager kid in the front row, to be honest. I really really wanted to be picked. I had some shit brewing that I wanted to process. My friend and colleague, Sabina, intuitively called my name.
I walked to the front of the room, sat down with her in a chair, looked into her deep brown eyes, and after recounting the story above, I paused, looked up, and said, “I am not ready. I am not ready to die yet. I am NOT DONE.” I cried. Just a little, though.
She then gave me a powerful challenge. I was to look at the room of 15 or so people and know I was going to die in two minutes. What would I want to say to them? I had seconds to think about it and two minutes to say it.
I didn’t pause. I looked at each one of them directly in the eye (and realized how little I actually did that lately) and I said – no, I shouted – “WAKE THE FUCK UP!” Wake the fuck up and stop wasting this precious life. Is there someone you love but haven’t told them yet? Say it! Is there something you’ve been wanting to do – or BE – your whole life but you keep making excuses? Do it – BE it – now. Is there a way you want to feel? Give yourself fucking permission to be happy, bold, and brave! Refuse to live life with regrets. Say you’re sorry. Get over the stupid grudge. Let go of the bullshit.
Life is shorter than you’ll ever want it to be. YOU WILL DIE – and you don’t know when. So get to the business of living life full-on. NOW.
At this point I was sobbing. And so was half the class. I don’t know if they were sobbing because of me and my predicament, or whether they were sobbing at the realization of all that they weren’t living yet…but I didn’t care. My message was powerful, and I felt it was complete.
Sabina then asked me about how I was living full-out or not (she used the term full-out). I realized that despite what my life looked like on paper – my international travels, my catching babies as a nurse-midwife during that miraculous moment in life that I got to witness on a regular basis, my successful coaching business, my apparent health, my supposedly fun and exciting relationship – despite it all, I wasn’t living what I KNEW was full-out for me.
I committed then and there to live full-out every day for a month. At least I think it was a month. And I decided to say “full-on” instead. It reminded me of the 80’s;)
Within a month I broke up with my boyfriend who, while having good intentions and dashing good looks, fell far short of my version of the man I wanted to spend my life with. I wanted my Noah (yes, that’s a cheesy Hollywood reference from The Notebook). Hollywood fantasy or not, I knew it was possible for me, and I wanted nothing less. I’d rather be alone than living life half-way with someone who couldn’t meet me where I was at.
I wanted my sexy sweet manly man, who was spiritual and had integrity and trust, who was madly in love with me and with whom I knew I would grow old with and have amazing adventures – evolving together and celebrating one another more than hurting one another. I had to admit that if this lil’ lady was going to live full-on, I couldn’t have someone as a partner who didn’t show up the way that I knew would allow me to live to my fullest potential. In my full-on mind, that’s the only kind of relationship to be in. Otherwise, they are way too much work to be worth it!
I knew this man existed out there for me. I had already met him once. I wasn’t going to miss it again.
Leaving a relationship that is a “maybe” can be one of the hardest things to do. It is so much easier to say “Yes” or “No” to the obvious. But when something is a “maybe,” we can waste a lot of freakin’ time. And trust me – if its a maybe, it usually becomes a “Hell No!” at some point. If you’re living full on, you don’t have time to wait. You have to trust your intuition and say “Hell Yes!” to your happiness. I had way too many Maybes that I waited for to become Hell-Nos before I left, and I had finally learned my lesson.
In that month, I also committed to leaving my job and moving to a mountain town within the next year. I had a condo in Telluride, Colorado, and it was high-time I return to the mountains, which is where my soul get filled. I wanted more free time, more adventures, more badassness EVERY DAY.
I went skinny dipping after work at sunset, I danced naked in the rain (yes, I find clothes excessive), I got off my ass when I didn’t feel like it and went out to go night skiing under the moonlight, I looked people in the eye, I connected and focused on being present with friends when they needed me. I didn’t multi-task when on the phone with my mom. Full-on living happens at all levels – not just in the outward adventures, but through inner integrity as well.
Months later, I decided that I had wandered a bit from my full-on commitment. I was getting sucked into my business and focusing so much on work, and less on getting outside. While I love my work and am blessed with beautiful careers, I wasn’t very balanced with taking care of my body and my value of adventure. Yes, we had just gone to Africa for a month, but as soon as we returned I was pretty stressed at work again.
I was proud that I had cut back to part-time at work, but alas, I was still there – hanging on with one arm as I swung above the beautiful but terrifying void below. I had 4 days off in a row twice a month, and 8-10 days off once a month…but it wasn’t enough for the type of adventures I wanted. I wanted time to explore, to have the freedom to be spontaneous, freedom to write when I was inspired…FREEDOM! I chose freedom over security. I still make that choice, every day.
It had felt so good to live full-on for 30 days, and so many good things came of it. I was definitely living full-on a lot of the time, but I didn’t want a slap in the face from the Universe to make me realize that I was stilling falling short of MY version of a Full-On life.
I then wondered, “What would happen if I committed to a full year?”
With my soul-mate, Thai, sitting at my side, I showed him the blog I just started, www.FullOn365.com (which later migrated over to www.FreedomJunkie.com so I only had to maintain one blog). I said to him, “I am going to commit to living full-on, every day, for a full year. And I’m going to write about it here. What do you think?
Thai looked at me with a smile and said, “I think it’s a great idea! Your blog looks awesome! I think it’s great that you want to help others live like that too, inspiring them” – and this coming from a guy who practically develops a rash when he has to work on or look at a computer. He was into it, and psyched for me. He was also a part of what manifested when I decided to live full-on, and now I could feel it: we were going to manifest some epic shit together, especially once I committed to this full year.
So it began – and here it is ending. Not my living Full-On – that’s not ending. I have learned that it is indeed possible to live full-on every day. But now that I have made it such a habit, I don’t need a blog to hold me accountable anymore. I also noticed that the more full-on I was living (like traveling in Africa again for three months, or being madly in love), I had less time for blogging;) So rather, it’s the FullOn365 blog itself that is ending.
Here I’ve arrived, and in the last 365 days I’ve manifested:
:: my incredibly amazing fiancee Thai (whom I’ve known for 13 years now…and we finally found our way back to each other after meeting in Kathmandu long ago)
:: I quit my job and have a wonderful entrepreneurial career with life, love, and wellness coaching interspersed with catching babies in beautiful places.
:: I moved to Alaska with my partner and get to see majestic mountains daily and play in them too;) I still have my condo in Telluride, but this mountain town in Alaska suits me quite well
:: I live in an awesome yurt with my partner who built it with his own hands, and who finished it the day I arrived to be with him
:: I am experiencing ever-improving levels of health and well-being
:: markedly less stress
:: traveled to at least 14 countries in the past 18 months, including two trips to Africa
:: launched my long-dreamt about and finally-happening-in-an-epic-way Freedom Sessions Mastermind group
:: 5 months vacation a year (and growing!)
:: preparing to start a family – yup, I’m taking prenatal vitamins for more than awesome hair and nails now, amigos!
:: a closer relationship with my mother
:: a tribe of friends who howl at the moon like I do (in fact, I’m flying to meet them at a beach house in Mexico as I write this)
:: a deepening trust that we are here to be happy. This life is meant to be enjoyed. We enjoy it more when we show up with integrity for others and are a good friend and lover and partner and son or daughter. We are meant to have FUN and live our dreams.
We were put here on this beautiful earth to share our gifts with others. Only then is the Universe complete.
I hope that this blog has served its purpose – not just in holding me accountable to you through my updates for living full-on, but in inspiring you to do the same – EVERY DAY.
Wake the fuck up.
That’s all I have to say. Oh, except to add that what the doctor saw was a small “likely” benign area of higher density on my liver that needed no further follow-up except for a repeat in 6 months – which showed no change (and was therefore deemed to be insignificant). Yay!
PPS: Take a look at this picture. I found it our friend’s remote cabin in Alaska. It’s the manifesto for my life. It’s the manifesto for the way I have been living the past 365 days during my FullOn365 challenge. Let me know what you think about it below – and spread the Freedom!