“Taking one step at a time makes life much easier to navigate rather than always looking at the big picture.”
This is a quote I came across that sounds great, but what if you want to just skip ahead to the future and avoid all the “one step at a time” stuff? What if big picture thinking has always worked for you, it’s your safe place to process life, except now, for the first time, this way of thinking is not feeling right. Taking things one. day. at. a. time. has been the most challenging part of dealing with major change in my life; most recently a cancer diagnosis.
I would have to say that the number one phrase that friends and family have said as I’ve navigated through surgery, recovery, new medications and just trying crawl to a place of some semblance of normalcy again has been, “It will take some time, take it slow, rest.” While I know these words all came from places of care, concern and with the best intentions, and it’s probably exactly what I would also say to someone I cared about who was healing, I’ve had a really hard time with just taking it slow in my quest to get back to ME.
When I was trick-or-treating with my daughter, I realized that although I did not have a costume on, I felt as if I did because I haven’t felt like myself for months. The symptoms of thyroid cancer feels as if I’ve had Halloween costume on that I haven’t been able to take off.
I can’t explain why, perhaps it’s a coping mechanism for a type A, always on-the-go Mom, that likes being in control of everything, but I’ve had this very black and white expectation of how I thought healing from cancer was supposed to be, which for me meant a very linear process of “first a diagnosis, then surgery, next medication, and radiation, and DONE!”
Now I get to be ME again!
But that’s not at all how this has been going for me. The Halloween costume is slowly shedding itself off of me like an animal sheds its winter coat and that’s just not soon enough for me.
As a big picture thinker, I automatically go to the end result; which can be very helpful when it comes to things like goal setting, but when I look at the steps of what lies before me, I feel tension and overwhelmed at the prospect of the journey still to come. Will my body adjust properly to thyroid medication, radiation and its side effects? Will I ever get my energy level back? Will I get back to the fitness level I once was? Part of me feels very selfish for having these thoughts as I know there are people who have much more serious issues to contend with after receiving a cancer diagnosis, but I feel that the process of getting back to one’s true self is the same and it feels the same no matter how serious the prognosis.
“The years of our life do not arrive all at once; they greet us day by day.” A great piece of advice I received which really resonated with me that allowed me to put aside my big picture thinking.
Perhaps you have recently made a lifestyle change, like beginning a new diet or maybe you quit smoking, and the idea of continuing this healthy new behavior for years seems daunting. If you can shift your focus from what may happen years down the line and return it to the day that is before you right now, you may find a measure of calm and renewed confidence in your capabilities. I see this starting to happen for myself as I try to do exactly what I’ve been told to do which is “take it slow, one day at a time.”
It’s the way we show up for our lives today and tomorrow that will have an enormous affect on who we will be and what we will be experiencing months and years down the road. Remaining fully engaged in the day at hand, enjoying all it has to offer and putting energy into making the most of it is what will help me get my groove back.
So I’ve chosen to fight and claw my way back to ME and there is no other way to do accomplish this than simply one. day. at. a. time. The choices I’m making every day; getting up and moving my body especially on the days I just don’t feel like it, my food choices, taking a proactive approach to killing cancer cells, feeling the sun on my face, breathing, exploring, writing and meditating. This IS the journey. It will be my journey. By following it day by day, one day we will find that we are perfectly ready and capable to handle the future when it arrives regardless of what it looks like, which for us big picture thinkers, this is a tough adjustment.
I’ve realized that it’s the little details in the day-to-day that will be my story to share, without it there is no story and no big picture.