When I was in college cramming for finals, loaded up on caffeine, experiencing major sleep and four-food-group deprivation, (Dorritos count as dairy, right? ‘Cuz they’re Nacho Cheese?) you’d think I’d opt for super comfy, lounge-y attire like leggings and Pategonia fuzzies (this was the 90’s), throw my hair in a scrunchy and head out to take my exams. Survey says: You’d be wrong then.
In what was probably my maiden voyage “Fake it ’til you make it” experiment, I would opt instead for a more formal ensemble. Skirt, sweater, tights, boots and hair freshly washed and styled. My theory was that if I dressed the part, and looked the part, then I’d actually do better on the tests. I still employ this strategy when pressed – I’ve often found that looking good when you’re not feeling “good” can offset a big case of the yuckies.
And today, nearly two decades later, I’m still working it. In the middle of a CJ, one may come to an epiphany: Life is too precious! I have clarity about what’s really important! Being healthy is a priority over such trivial notions as “looking good!” And while the clarity part (otherwise known as “don’t sweat the small stuff”) has a ring of truth to it, I can’t say that I’ve renounced the smaller things that give me joy. Is my diagnosis, treatment and care the number one priority right now? You bet. But I also have other components that fill my life in a rich and meaningful way and what’s important to me is not to become all-consumed by the CJ. I’m also not ashamed to admit I enjoy the more frivolous and fun components of life which provide a welcome distraction from my CJ.
I need to ensure that I have other things in my life besides the cancer.
Most of my waking hours my thoughts are consumed by my CJ. It’s not easy to put those thoughts/fears/worries away. So now, 3 weeks after my bilateral mastectomy and nearly one week after my second repair surgery, I feel ready for re-entry. Baby steps. I’ve been holed up in my chair, catching up on shows, napping, reading, enjoying visitors, and online shopping, but now it’s time that I slowly return to my life. You know the life that was satisfyingly filled with volunteering for my kids’ school foundation, working hot lunch shifts, planning classroom holiday parties, managing my house, helping with homework, going out to movies, and attending social events.
Re-entry won’t be easy. I know that. I’ve been “away” for some time now and I’m not the same person before. I’m forever changed. My sense of humor might be different, my tolerance might be skewed, and my sadness might be more present, but I have to believe that the essence of who I am has remained unaltered. I’m still obsessed with pop culture, addicted to reality shows, a stickler for detail, slightly manic when it comes to keeping my closet organized, a sucker for a good rom-com, generous with my love and friendship, open to new perspectives, eager to learn more and passionate about fashion as a way to express oneself.
And so, I’ll take a page out of my past playbook, and distract myself with things that give me joy and make me feel better. Might this involve a shopping trip to the new makeup store in town? Check out my goody bag here.