I might be a year older, but I'm 100 years wiser!
Yesterday was my 58th birthday (just in case you didn't know). Birthdays are a milestone for sure, but this year it has even more meaning. It's been a pretty interesting ride for me (and us) this year but in a lot of ways I feel like I've been given a gift. To quote a friend, "cancer is like a gift wrapped in barbed wire".
A gift? What are you, nuts? You have cancer!
I would say, "Sure I do", but it's woken me up and stopped the routine treadmill that I've been living on for a while. I actually consider myself a better, more engaged, more aware, more in touch, more mindful, more emotional, and more sensitive person than I was before I was diagnosed, and truly consider that a gift. So, using my trip to New York (3/31-4/11) I wanted to share lessons I've learned (and am continuing to learn) supported by people and activities from my trip. In some ways, this is like one of my earlier Thanksgiving posts, but I am continually changing and evolving and learning new things.
My first priority was re-thinking what is important to me and where I want to spend my time
I want to help people. That's pretty much my focus. Whether it's one on one, working with orgs, pushing hospitals to be better, etc it's a focus of mine.
When I did my "strategic plan" I developed three guiding principles that I am using to focus my life. I think about these daily and use them as filters to help me make decisions. I've left organizations that don't share my focus and have joined others that do:
Heal me (personal)
Help others heal (helping as many people as I can)
Help others that help others heal (helping organizations and companies that help people, patients, and caregivers)
My second focus was on seeing family, connecting, and reconnecting with friends. My core support networks and people that I can support as well. We all go through our own shit and two way relationships are the key to it all.
Family time was awesome! I had tons of time with Mom (and Steve), Lisa and Aaron (sister and Bro-in-law), and Davey (nephew). I also had a great time with my cousins and my aunt Julie who is incredible! That's quality time that is amazing when it happens and was great to have in NYC (photos above)
Also had a great time seeing close friends like Leslie, Howie, and Liz.
In NYC, I met with some leaders of organizations and met a whole bunch of new friends going through what I am going through. It was pretty amazing. The energy I get from sharing and learning is awesome! This is a photo of my friends Stacy (left) and Rebecca (middle) who are both experiencing what I am. We have formed a great bond and often support each other, complain to each other, build each other up, etc. I can't say enough good things about these people!
The next group is a great bunch of support group friends from an organization called LACNETS, an org that offers incredible knowledge and support for people with NETS (the pink socks are another story that I will blog about at some point soon. (If you are curious, check out the PinkSocks website).
My next focus was on reconnecting. We had a great reunion of Starwood Alumni, many of whom I hadn't seen in 15 years or so! Even though we are not always close, seeing the faces of people who have played a positive role in my life was really meaningful.
I also reconnected with some of my oldest and closest friends (Hilfords). People with whom I have tons of history and are like family to me. We lost touch for a while but are back and I am so happy about it!
And last, but definitely not least, I went to a Knicks and a Rangers game, back to back, for the first time in my life. And we caught T-shirts at both games! Enjoying my life is at the top of my list right now. I have a ton of life left to live and want to enjoy every minute of it! And I fucking love sports! There, I said it out loud!
Oh, actually last but not least, I went through a bunch of old photos and found some truly amazing pics! Make fun of me all you want, I deserve it!
Ok, so, just to sum up an extraordinarily long post for me, I had an amazing time in NYC. It really helped me to appreciate the gift I've been given. I am a more sensitive, present, loving, appreciative, thoughtful, purposeful, and happier person than I have been in a long time. And I owe that gift to the hand I've been dealt, but, even more importantly, to the people around me who have loved and supported me throughout. That's where I have decided to dedicate my time.
Time to start thinking about next year's birthday post!