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When I was getting a divorce in my late 20s, there was one friend, Rebecca, who always checked in on me.
I am someone who will almost always answer with “fine” or “good” when you ask me how I am, and she always saw through that and made sure I was actually okay. We later became roommates, and she was a solace to me as I started my life over.
In June of 2018, she passed away tragically from breast cancer. I was heartbroken.
Less than a year before that, in October of 2017, my grandmother, Betsy, also passed away from breast cancer. That same month, one of the women I am closest to me in my life got diagnosed with breast cancer in her early 40s.
Gratefully, she is now healthy.
It suddenly felt like this disease was looming over me.
During the same year, at 39, I had my first mammogram. I was terrified. The doctor’s office called me the next morning and said they wanted me to come back in for another scan. It was scheduled for about a week later. I had just been to a chemo treatment with my friend.
I spent a week feeling terrified and paralyzed.
On the day of the treatment, I took a walk and listened to a podcast. It was Tim Ferris interviewing Esther Perel.
In addition to being a relationship expert, she is also a descendant of Holocaust survivors. In describing survivors after the war ended, she said the phrase: “The erotic is an antidote to death.”
She explained that eroticism is a key ingredient to life. Not just sexuality, but…
“It is about how people connect to this quality of aliveness, of vibrancy, of vitality, of renewal,” she says. “It is actually a spiritual, mystical experience of life.”
As I listened to the podcast, I stopped and took my headphones out. I just stood there and took a breath. I felt the feeling of spring air on my skin and realized everything was going to be okay.
And it was, and it will be.
In that moment, I developed a new practice.
Anytime that things feel particularly horrible, I stop and celebrate the intense and subtle sensations of any moment. Seeing the clouds, feeling touch, listening to music, and realizing that I am alive in the moment, and that alone is beautiful.
And I breathed through the appointment, and I was fine.
I have to go back once a year, and in that time between the appointment and the results, I always intensely celebrate—celebrate life, celebrate moving and every feeling, sensation, and beauty in my life.
Before that year, I used to often choose to suffer. I’d choose to be angry about little things and feel like the victim.
Not after that!
Here’s the thing: life is going to end, there will be doctor’s visits that don’t go well, we will all lose loved ones, and tragedies will continue to happen on a macro and micro scale all the time.
Because of that, I am inspired to live.
It seems trite to say things like “every day is a miracle,” but it sure as heck is.
During COVID-19, I had to go to the emergency room by myself. As I was sitting there, I could hear children playing outside. I found it enormously comforting that in the midst of a hard situation and a hard world, those kids were having fun.
Oftentimes, my clients will ask me what to do when the world is so hard.
Yes, pay attention. Yes, speak up.
And be rebelliously joyful.
Share your gifts with the world.
Indulge. Enjoy. Celebrate.