“Survivor Swag Bag”

20160526_132515_HDR_resized (1)Over the past few months, I’ve focused on a myriad of things and oftentimes, find myself being who I once was…stressed and over committed.  It’s so easy to put everything ahead of ourselves, but honestly doing this depletes us and what I’ve found is the best way to take care of my loved ones is to start by taking care of me.  When we are whole, we are able to give so much more to those who need us.

A few months back I posted about what was in my Chemo Swag Bag, so it was only fitting to post about my “Survivor Swag Bag.”  Unlike my Chemo Swag Bag, which was filled with tangible items to endure the long hours at chemo, my Survivor Swag Bag isn’t really something that I can haul around but the “contents” are spilling over with the things to simply “take care of me”.  So without further delay here is my quick and dirty list:

  1. Friendship.  It would have been so easy for me to isolate after battling breast cancer, but my friends embracing this period of rebuilding with great acceptance and without judgment has given me the necessary emotional freedom to simply find my way. My friendships are an extension of my true self, make me better as a person and help draw out my hidden strengths, especially during some of the toughest times of my life.  Whether we are sitting for hours in coffee shops eating croissants and sipping latte’s like world class coffee connoisseurs, having dinner or simply polishing off a bottle of wine on a hot summer day from the porch rocking chairs, when my best friends and I are together, no matter the venue, the laughter is nonstop and the love we share is immeasurable.  They’ve picked me up when I was down, pushed me to excel and loved me even when I probably didn’t deserve it.
  2. Laughter.  It’s good for the heart and helps lower your stress level.  When my 4 year old daughter pronounces the names of the Star Wars characters as “Chili” and “Master Yoga” it never fails to make me erupt into side splitting laughter as she eyes me curiously.  I could spend my days correcting her, but why?  Children are nature’s comedians and there is no greater joy than when they share the world through their viewpoint.  All of my kids are a constant joy and they keep me from being too serious.  Life is too short for 24/7 serious.
  3. Sunshine & fresh air. Sunlight provides natural Vitamin D and can miraculously elevate your mood.  Some studies are researching a possible connection to low Vitamin D levels and a link to breast cancer.  Just remember to wear sunscreen while taking time to stop and smell the flowers.
  4. Red Wine. I was fortunate to meet a woman by the name of “Kelly” (not her real name) who was battling breast cancer for a second time with a terminal diagnosis.  Her effervescent spirit never failed to light up the chemo suite.  “Kelly” imparted her witty humor upon whoever had the fortunate opportunity to sit next to her.  “When you are completely finished with chemo…a glass of sweet red wine is always a good idea,” she said to me with a big grin one day as though she were divulging the closely guarded secret to world peace.
  5. Saks 5th.  They let me touch the ridiculously overpriced display of Manolo’s & Louboutin’s long enough to get a shoe rush before dispatching their “Secret Service” styled security to give me the eye to move along.  Despite the negative financial impact of breast cancer, I still like to dream big!
  6. Water & Exercise. I hate drinking water and the mere thought of cardio makes me want to curl up in a ball and take a nap.  According to the American Cancer Society “About one third of cancer deaths can be attributed to poor diet and physical inactivity.”(http://www.cancer.org/myacs/newengland/lower-your-cancer-risk-by-eating-right).  Before my diagnosis my source of hydration was dark sugary colas and there was no time for exercise.  When I revamped my eating habits, the colas were replaced with plain water which helped me to lose weight.  After chemo was over, I incorporated mile long walking and yoga into my exercise routine.  I’m still working on building up my stamina to incorporate things like jogging and cardio, which is integral to my overall health.
  7. Writing. My greatest freedom is found in expressing myself creatively through this blog and writing novels (especially the ones with steamy love scenes). I can honestly declare without reservation, I have discovered my purpose.
  8. And finally…LOVE…passionate, hearts & flowers, all- consuming, happily ever after L.O.V.E. Hope I don’t make my husband who faithfully reads my blogs blush, but if I did cause such a reaction, he already knows I’m a hopeless romantic and that part of me will never, ever change.

There are so many ways to approach survivorship.  Holistically, spiritually, religiously…I’ve incorporated all of these as well and have discovered endless possibilities.  There is no right or wrong way, and discovering what works for me…works for me just fine.

So tell me…what’s in your Survivor Swag Bag?  Feel free to leave me a comment below.

 

With Love,

 

Tonya

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