Stop and Smell the Progress

“Instead of solely focusing on what should be better, consider and praise—like party down, praise—what’s already awesome.” — Kris Carr.

Have I really not written in the last 3 weeks? Forgive me, dear readers. I have been doing my best to juggle a very hectic work schedule with the KACP, travel plans, time with SHL, family and friends, and the blogging has just gotten away from me a little bit. I do find that when I don’t blog, I think about it, and miss connecting with all of you.

As many of you know by now, I had my scans a couple of weeks ago, and that is also part of the reason why I have been MIA. I think that as they approach the anxiety level increases, and I hibernate. It’s just my way of getting through it, I guess. I’ll never really be able to put into words how excruciatingly stressful and scary it is leading up to the scans (dare I say it, but it is traumatic). All I can say is that even though you may not know when they are, I still rely on all of you for strength, love, support, and prayers. Whether you know it or not, I lean on all of you, every day.

I was at Dana-Farber for 2 days of scans, and then the third day went for my follow-up appointment with my oncologist. Thank g-d my scans looked good. As we left there, we all exhaled. It’s hard holding your breath for weeks at a time! The gratitude that I felt at being given this news was just overwhelming, and I thanked g-d and felt so grateful that I can look forward to the holidays and continue to focus on the good stuff. I feel like there’s so much more that I could say about the scans, but it’s hard to talk about, so I’ll just leave it there for now.

Though the scans have been such a huge part of my life, other important things are also taking up space, in a good way. I’m actually enjoying exercising—I don’t know if it’s because it’s a good stress-buster at the end of a long work day (and work has been incredibly stressful lately, with lots of tough calls and people who are in crisis), or because just mentally I know that I’m doing something good for my body. Perhaps it’s both, or… perhaps it’s because I know that I’ll get to watch an episode or two on my iPad of “How I Met Your Mother,” which I just started watching! (I had seen an episode or two over the years, but started from Season 1 now). I used to love listening to music, but now I find that watching a show actually makes the time go by quicker. 45 minutes is up, really? But will Ted find love in this episode? Will Marshall and Lilly be unbearably cute and funny? (Uh, duh!). And why is Barney really such a womanizer? These are all the questions that I look forward to getting answered while I sweat my butt off. And since seeing the exercise physiologist at DF, I’ve also been doing some strength training along with the cardio– but perhaps even more than this, I love my private yoga classes that I’ve been taking. It’s like an hour + where it’s just about gaining flexibility, better balance, using muscles that I don’t usually use, and being able to try and clear some of the cobwebs that sometimes stretch across my brain.

The plant-based diet has it’s natural (I guess) ebbs and flows. Some days it feels really easy to eat a salad or a mix or vegetables with every meal, and other days all I want is just a big o’ sandwich or a bowl of pasta. On these days, I try to at least add veggies to my sandwich or pasta (case in point dinner last week: whole what pasta with homemade pesto made with basil and arugula, with sautéed broccoli and zucchini in a little bit of garlic).

Pasta with broccoli (Look at all of that green goodness in a bowl!).

While we’re on the subject of green things, a great snack idea is some edamame with a little bit of olive oil and salt, and just a sprinkle of parmesan cheese. Yum!

Edamame

I get excited about the green smoothies (if we were watching a Sesame Street episode, today’s color would be green!) when I can blend them well enough not to have them be so thick—and doing it in steps—like putting in the kale and the spinach and then the water and blending, and then putting in carrots, cucumbers and apple, and then blending again, seems to help a lot. However, I’m still in the process of trying to figure out whether or not I’m going to get a juicer! While I’m grateful that I don’t get sugar cravings very often anymore, eating healthy is still something that I need to put a lot of effort into every day. It is the times when I beat myself up for having chicken salad or half of a bagel (gasp!) instead of a vegan or plant-based meal, that I need to remember Kris’s wisdom about acknowledging the good, instead of just solely focusing on what could be better. Being away this past weekend proved a little bit challenging (it’s always harder to figure out healthy choices when you’re away from home, right?), but I was able to have vegetable fajitas, fruit, and a salad with beans. And while I couldn’t work out while away, I did hike up two big hills. Hooray! Self-care sucks, as Kris says, when you don’t acknowledge your progress. And this doesn’t just apply to me or somebody living with cancer, it goes for all of us. How many times do you just gloss over the fact that you are working towards a goal, or have even met a goal? Stay in-the-moment. Instead of moving on the second that you gain momentum or hit a goal and thinking about what’s next, stop and smell the progress. It can be overwhelmingly satisfying to recognize that we are working hard and making steps towards achieving something that we desire.

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