Today marks seven years since I was diagnosed with HER2+ breast cancer, and last night, as I was looking at the full moon, I was feeling very grateful for how far I've come (especially after 2020) and wanted to write this post today about all the things for which I'm grateful, most of which weren't present or hadn't quite manifested themselves completely yet in 2014.
So on this winter solstice, I'm celebrating these seven years and seven things for which I'm grateful by sitting in silence and fasting from technology, negativity, and food as much as I can. Here are 7 things for which I'm grateful:
My cancer: Yes, I'm grateful for getting cancer. My breast cancer woke me up from a life of keeping up appearances and hiding my true self. Thank you, cancer, for showing me a new path and reminding me how powerful my intuition truly is. I will never forget who I am and hopefully will never be afraid to have a voice again or sit in the darkness. (Read my full story, "How I Found My Cancer Through Yoga.")
My home: I moved to the Ojai Valley nine years ago and couldn't wish for a better place to live and heal. I live 18 minutes from the Pacific coast and only minutes from the Topa Topa Mountains, where I hike almost every day. I grew up in the suburbs, disconnected from the land and our food chain, but I can now say that I'm back to what Jungian psychologist Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés calls the "wild woman." I live in congruence with the seasons, follow nature, eat locally, and live sustainably. Thank you, Ojai, for holding this wild space for me and bringing me such a powerful, beautiful feminine community in which to heal.
My parents: I was a rebellious, independent young woman who ran away from my past at an early age and had a lot of negative stories I was telling myself about where I grew up. Over the past year and a half, I've gotten a lot closer to my parents and gone back to Indiana where I grew up. I honor my mom and dad for bringing me into this world and giving me a safe and secure home, and I pray for more healing for our family in the future.
My Ashtanga yoga practice: I started practicing Ashtanga yoga almost a decade ago. It's gotten me through some dark times and also connected me to my body and mind so much that I found my own cancer. It keeps me present. It reminds me when to sing, chant, or speak up and when to go inward—pratyahara—and be silent and observe the chatter. It reminds me to slow down and let go.
My friends, old and new: My friends are my family, and I can't tell you how grateful I am for them, especially this year for inspiring my creativity, getting me to surf or laugh, holding my pain through some difficult litigations, playingTaboo, gardening, going for long walks at the beach or in the mountains, writing funny stories, or letting me love on their dogs. I've also managed to attract a few new friends who remind me how far I've come and how much more my life is in integrity than it was seven years ago. I'm grateful for all of you, old and new.
My cousin: My cousin, Garett, will probably never see this post or know I wrote about him, but I was reunited with him a year ago, when he moved in with me, and though his presence is often subtle (a Zoom phone call from another room or the pounding treadmill in the garage), he's shown me how men can really show up for you and given me a lot of funny stories in the process, not to mention mended a roof, fixed some lights, and learned how to live with my OCD cleaning behaviors. Thank you, Garett, for stepping in and being there for me.
My daughter (and her dad): My daughter is 13 years old this month, and though I haven't seen or heard from her in almost two years, I'm grateful for her health and her journey, grateful for all the lessons she's taught me about loving and letting go, grateful to her dad for bringing her into my life 13 years ago, and hopeful about what the future may bring.
If you feel like practicing pratyahara and going silent with me before the holidays when we overeat, overdrink, and overspend, here's a great article on 12 ways to practice pratyahara. And if you're in the thick of COVID anxiety, improving your lymphatic system is one of the best ways to boost your immune system. I hope you all have a great winter solstice, holiday, and happy new year.