Happy New Year! Considering everything that happened in 2019 I can’t believe I’m still happy. I still laugh and smile just about every day. I sit here wondering how I got here yet here I stand. As I begin this new year setting intentions, I can’t help but reflect on 2019. It was a year filled with so many highs, professionally. Yet, personally, at times I felt like my life was falling apart. In fact, it kinda did fall apart and now I’m Humpty Dumpty putting it all back together again. And, yet I still find time to be happy. It’s my only option.
New Year, New Me
This is probably one of the most cliché statements every year after January 1st. I actually don’t feel any different, however, I definitely am. My life as I knew it will never be the same. I am forever a changed woman. Everything is different yet the same.
If you don’t follow me on Instagram, I announced December 4, 2019 that I was diagnosed with stage 3 invasive ductal carcinoma. I have breast cancer. WTF! Right, that’s exactly what I was thinking. At times, I still can’t believe it. In fact, lots of times I try to pretend like it doesn’t exist. I don’t want to give it too much attention. I don’t want it to consume my life. I don’t want to engage in a pity party. I have had several solo parties of sorrow, anger, and sadness but not pity. I finally had my pity party filled with “why me” after a tough morning of trying to get the boys to school on time. I feel like it cleansed me of accepting it’s OK to not be “strong”. While I felt all alone in that moment, I am far from it.
The scariest part of my breast cancer diagnosis was feeling like I would have to go through this all alone. You see, I filed for divorce from my husband that I built a life with for the past 15 years, in April. I thought that would be the hardest thing I’d have to deal with in 2019. I asked for a divorce two weeks after my best friend, Marcus Smith, passed away. I had just reached a point where I felt like life was too short to not be completely happy. Love is so precious and it should fill your heart and soul. I realized I wanted more. I was living out loud and love was on mute. We grew apart. We were not the same people we were 15 years ago. In fact, we were so different to begin with yet we thought we could “out love” our differences. We could not!
I once read a quote that holds so true in my life today:
“A network is there when you need it, you can’t build it when you need it.” – Unknown
Thank God for my network. I would be absolutely miserable and beyond depressed if it wasn’t for my network. No seriously, I can’t begin to thank my support system for everything they have done for me. For the first time in my life, I feel like I am getting back what I have given to people in my life. I’ve had way too many unfortunate life situations that have made it hard for me to have any real expectations for people to show up for me. I’m blown away with gratitude, which brings me to intention number one.
Invest In People That Invest In Me
This seems so easy but it’s really not. After my mother passed away, I cleaned house. I removed all of the seat fillers in my life. I’m so happy I did that. Quality over quantity has been my motto for some time now. Yet, add marriage and children and you can easily get sucked back into maintaining relationships that should be cut off if they don’t add value to your life. Empty gestures and flaky people just don’t have a space in my life anymore.
Don’t get me wrong, the past year I was the “busiest” person on earth that took my friends for granted in terms of finding time to see them. Yet, I think they all stayed around because they knew my heart before I became blind with ambition. My friends have reminded me what’s truly important in life. Relationships – quality and meaningful friendships – feed my soul and I will do a much better job at making time for those that matter. Quality time is my top love language. It’s time I set the intention of spending quality time with the people I love.
Learn To Receive
I have said to myself and close friends learning to receive help feels harder than having breast cancer itself. It’s all my pride and my mindset of thinking I can do it all myself. Unfortunately, I think this is my lesson to learn in this time of being still. I have had to learn to accept help and here’s a bigger one – ask for it.
I am a giver by nature but receiving makes me so uncomfortable. If only I could get through this all by myself life would feel normal right now. However, God blessed me with two beautiful sons that I prayed for and they need to learn to ask for help as well. I can’t tell them to ask for help and not practice what I preach.
I didn’t need help with divorce. Outside of leaning on my girlfriends for support, I was holding my own. But with breast cancer, I can’t be a mom at all times and my boys, thankfully, have friends and family to lean on when I can’t be there. Playdates, which were few and far between, before breast cancer are now a staple. Texting my survivor friend network with my laundry list of questions is commonplace for me. My aunt comes over to stay the night after every chemotherapy session to make sure I’m okay through the night. My friends/family have cooked food for me and the boys or they have food delivered. I am learning to receive help and I’m thankful for the amazing help I have received.
Talk about a new me. This has been an intention that I have set for myself year after year. I am a planner at heart, but breast cancer and divorce have forced me to be still. I can’t plan anything. This makes me uncomfortable. It freaks me out. I am being challenged daily to “go with the flow”. The flow and I have never been friends. Lol.
Still, I am learning to be comfortable as I sit alone in my thoughts. I find myself thinking about my plan B. My business, my love life, my physical address, and my sons. Should I sell my house and move, should I continue blogging, what would I do if I stop blogging, when will I fall in love again, should I remarry, am I doing enough for my sons, how can I be present, should I incorporate yoga, when can I work out? I want to plan all of 2020 but my new normal won’t allow me to. I have to just be.
So I am learning to be OK with being still. I can’t move, I can’t travel, I can’t plan the next three months of my life. I have to just be. I have to learn to be content with being still. I have been busy since I was thirteen when I started modeling. I don’t know how to be still and it didn’t really stop until my mother passed away. I was still for three months and I wasn’t in a good place with her passing. My anxiety returned and I started doing yoga to learn how to live in stillness.
I have to be happy every day. Seriously, I am protecting my peace like Mike Tyson in a boxing match. If you disturb my peace, you have to go. Happiness is an inside job. I laugh every day. If I’m not on the phone texting or talking to a friend, I’m watching a comedy, or I’m laughing at Clark and Stone. OK, mostly Stone but you get my drift. Laughter is good for my soul.
How can a single woman with two kids, going through a divorce with breast cancer have something to laugh about? Well, I think it’s simple. How can I not? My life right now is a bit of a joke. Not in a bad way (well kinda) but the alternative to laughter is too time-consuming and I don’t have time for depression because I have two young boys to raise.
I have a life to live. I can’t stop living. I have a never-ending notes page on my iPhone where I write down things that I want to remember that really make a mark on my heart. It says, “If faced with death, would you pray or party?”
Personally, I don’t understand why you can’t do both. Why one or the other? I choose both. I tried “having” breast cancer for one month and it’s just not for me. I can’t sit at home and just think about why now/why me. I can’t be sad and miserable over a horrible disease that decided to disrupt my life. Breast cancer doesn’t “have” me. I happen to have “it”. And, It’s not going to take over my life. This is just a speed bump. Or, as my girlfriend Marie shared, “Could disease be a gentle prod to shift directions?” Was I given this hurdle to jump or to slow down?
To be honest, I became consumed with trying to build a brand to support myself with two young sons after the divorce. I was moving full speed ahead. I was preparing on becoming a financially independent woman. I had done a hell of a job before a husband of taking care of myself and I was excited about doing so after the divorce. Finally, I was living a life where I was happy in spite of divorce and uncertainty. I saw it and my girlfriends saw it – I was living my life out loud. Making amazing memories with loved ones, watching my business grow, and giving back to those in need made me happy.
Being able to provide amazing, one-of-a-kind experiences (all from my blog) for my sons made me so happy. I was happy and I will continue to be happy every day. LIfe is too short to be anything but happy, every single day. I am working on being fulfilled and happy with my life every day. Well, maybe not every day. Getting the boys ready for school is a sweet spot for me. I am not always happy in those “mom-ments”. The tough mornings don’t bring me joy, at all. lol.
My New Year
As I write this, I am preparing for my first chemotherapy treatment of 2020 on January 20th. I have a long road to recovery. Being still takes away the anxiety of getting overwhelmed by the timeline of my treatment plan. I will endure 16 chemotherapy treatments before I have a double mastectomy, then radiation, and then reconstructive surgery. This will be a long year but thanks to my support system it won’t be long at all.
Every day I promise my sons that I will be OK and I also promised them a big trip after I’m done with chemo before I have my surgery. I love them with all my heart and seeing the fear in their eyes hurts more than having chemotherapy. I am in such a conflicted space with them and I am overcompensating every chance I get. I’m working on not being on my phone and on being intentional with my time with them, and Lord knows I’m working on my patience. I mean, trying to get them to school last week was enough to put me in the grave. But, we got through it and they forgave me for the yelling.
I’m saying all this to say, be thankful for a new year and new life experiences. Change how you look at things. I get to do all of these things in spite of going through a divorce and having breast cancer. As Ellen DeGeneres says, “Be kind to one another.” It is because I choose kindness that I have this amazing support system. It is a new year and it’s never too late to make better choices for your life. Choose happiness and everything else will fall in place.
Happy New Year!