You all know how much I love dates: Birthdays, anniversaries, holidays. “Today’s been exactly 3 years since our first lunch together!” “It was five years ago today that we brought our kitties home!” I know exactly how many mother-daughter trips my Mom and I have taken over the years, the date of my first email exchange with SHL, and how many days it’s been since I’ve had coffee (6, but who’s counting?).
I love celebrations of any kind! Any chance to put on my party hat and have a piece of (vegan, raw, wholesome, sugar-free) cake and I’m there. So it may come as no surprise that today’s post will be a celebration of sorts; a love note to all of you, AS IT IS MY 100TH POST ON THIS BLOG!! My blog may not be in the public eye/spotlight and I may not have a brand new shiny book coming out, but let me tell you: When I write as a therapeutic tool to deal with the ebbs and flows of my life, you are all there right alongside with me. I could never explain my gratitude for the fact that you have chosen to pull up a front row seat in the cheerleading section of Team Lozier.
I love to write. I love to share what I know in the hopes of making a positive impact on somebody else’s life in any little tiny way (that’s the social worker in me and the 7 year-old who told my second grade class that it doesn’t matter if you have a VCR or not, all that matters is that you have people who love you), but I also love to write because it helps me to hash out in my mind exactly how I’m feeling, why, and whether or not it’s something that I want to delve deeper into, or want to just let it be. (From the moment that I was diagnosed I just knew that I never wanted to feel alone, and this blog has provided me an outlet to connect with so many of you that may not live near me or that I may not be able to talk to or see all of the time. I don’t know how anybody can go through life let alone cancer without feeling like you’re a part of something). Although I am a huge proponent of therapy face-to-face, this is also a kind of therapy for me. As a social worker and an “over-sharer” this blog has been a dream come true: A safe platform where I don’t feel judged, where I can share what I know, what I’m learning, and what I just will never understand (that list goes on and on), with a community that is striving for what we are all striving for: A joyful, healthy life. Are we “successful?” Are we “happy?” These words are thrown around so much that when we hear them (just like when we hear the word “stress”) we barely pay attention anymore. The American Dream has changed drastically from generation to generation. Now more than ever, I believe, we are getting to choose our own dreams and not necessarily those that are thrust upon us (marriage, 2.5 kids, the white picket fence).
Forget about the words that will just roll off your shoulders and be forgotten. I want to change that. I want to help each and every one of you live the life you feel you were meant to live, whether you want to call it success or happiness or just living. Because I know what it’s like to be told that you may not have forever to live, and whether or not that is true, when you stare that in the face, you realize that we all only have today. I know what it’s like to have to reorganize your life at the age of 36 into a very different life than you had imagined. Does the world stop because a dream has not come true? Or do you grieve and scream and cry at the how and they why and then imagine other dreams that are beautiful and will come true? By setting (small) intentions, being more mindful, and actually letting ourselves dig into the well to the depths of despair (believe it or not), I believe that we can find more nuggets of passion, soul and love in each and every day. Life is hard. Life sucks sometimes. People are angry, stressed, critical, tired. Does life have to be so hard sometimes, I wonder, or do we cultivate the difficulty by feeding into the negativity? There is just so much that we can’t control. What can we control? If we don’t “foam at the mouth” (advice given to me personally by Kris Carr at the Chopra Center) when we need to, can we heal from the pain that we all feel just from being on this planet? So cry when you need to. Scream into a pillow. Tell that person how you feel when you need to. Other times, let it go. You’ll know when it’s right. Get back in touch with that gut that can help you figure out, when you need to, which path to choose.
I have been working lately on taking my ego out of arguments or disagreements, whether with my spouse or others, and although it is work in the beginning and it feels foreign (you mean I can’t just say “I know I’m right” and leave it at that?), ultimately I usually end up feeling heard more clearly than if I had just stayed in that (yes, comforting and safe) place of “right” and “wrong.” I’ve been trying to let the other person know that my intention is to come to a common ground, not dig my heels in about how they have wronged me. It’s so hard! But I’m hoping that at some point taking my ego out of everything will get easier and will just become like second nature. I’ve found over the past year that some of my daily practices of mindfulness and setting intentions and being in tune with gratitude and even letting myself get to those dark places if I need to, has actually become a bit more second-nature and not as much work anymore.
Interestingly enough, just this past week, two people separate of each other told me that I am not the same person that they met a few years ago (and not the same person from even a year ago). They meant that as a compliment, and that is certainly how I took it. As the person who is looking out into the world with all of my own personal life experiences, it can be difficult to see the changes (for better or worse) in myself, so I found it comforting and helpful to hear from these friends what they see from their point of view.
I have changed, but I still carry with me the same Sam heart that I always have. And in a lot of ways, I’m still the same insecure people-pleaser that I always have been (always worried that I’ll disappoint somebody, especially if I put my needs first). But I am proud of the work that I have done over the past year that maybe at times felt like work, but in the end, was just evolving and being willing to say I’m sorry (to both myself and others) and to accept myself with more love and compassion. It means carrying hope with me, even in the toughest of times. I don’t get it perfectly, you’ve heard me say a million times, but it bears repeating. I.Don’t.Get.It.Perfectly. I still forget to set intentions or can’t find the time to meditate or eat dessert or stink at yoga (ahh, there is that judgmental voice) or snap at SHL for no reason. My spiritual practice doesn’t always involve daily meditation or yoga or being out in nature, as much as I would love it to. I guess I’m here to say that please do not feel like you have to read a million self-help books or be one with nature or even travel out to the Chopra Center to feel like you can have a spiritual path, if you want one. For me, it means being open to miracles—not the parting of the Red Sea or the Chicago Cubs winning the World Series (sorry Cubs fans), but seeing things differently. It means taking my ego out of things as much as possible. Being mindful, even if it is something that I cannot change in that moment (or day, week, month or year). It means setting intentions each morning which is not as cumbersome as it may seem. End your day with gratitude. And maybe the most important? HAVE FUN. There may be some days that are so crappy that you have no intentions or gratitude and you certainly can’t see things differently and hey guess what? THAT’S OK. In fact, that’s part of the journey, I think. Being real. Authentic. Who you are. Try not to let anybody else dictate that, though it can be difficult.
I have begun to think of spirituality a little bit like religion: I may not go to synagogue all of the time or a Passover Seder, but I still firmly identity as and love Judaism. You don’t have to practice meditation every day or go to temple or church every week or feel like you need to practice in a certain setting or in a certain way in order to feel like you’re entrenched in something meaningful and beautiful. Whatever it means to you, whatever feels peaceful, that is what is right.
So my friends, the 100th post on this blog is a big sappy love note to all of you. As I said to Kris Carr back in August at the Chopra Center, “thank you just doesn’t seem like enough.”
With hope, intention, gratitude, and heaps of love,