This week, I made my first blog post on the topic of

self care during these radical times.

After 9 months of living with my partner’s (& baby daddy’s) suffering through stage 4 nasopharyngeal cancer, I feel I am well equipped to now offer a few of the tips & tools that have been steadfast in keeping my true north pointed towards what is in the highest and best for myself, our 4-year old son and our family.

My partner is definitely superman. Throughout his harrowing journey of 8 chemotherapy and 35 upper neck and head radiation treatments, he has stayed firmly on the path of love and has not allowed fear or pain to diminish his Spirit.

Although he lost upwards of 40 pounds and had his throat burned by the radiation, which led to getting a gastro-feeding tube put into his stomach, he remains a consistent beacon of light and love. In this way, he is the ultimate leader in our family.

As for me, fully surrendering to the muck of life and allowing myself to be in the mud – regardless of what other people think – has been essential for my personal path. However, this doesn’t mean that I project any negativity or ill feelings towards or upon others – especially not my family. (Although, when or if I accidentally do, I don’t judge or berate myself. I just say “I’m sorry.”)

Instead, what it does mean is that I own my feelings by communicating how I am feeling – i.e. “I feel bitchy.”

I don’t have to be happy and smiling and generous and nice and accommodating of anyone else. I can be where I am, as well as be respectful of others & their needs.

Here are some of the other ways that I have led my child and myself so that we, too, remain hopeful, healthy and relatively content during these tumultuous times.

1.) I maintained our son’s regular schedule and that which gives him a sense of daily expectation and, thus, “normal.” E.g. Everyday, there is bedtime and naptime, which allots two times daily – morning and afternoon – when activity happens. The activity can be a playgroup, class/lesson or playing at home, alone, and feeling bored, btw.
(My aim is to maintain siesta culture as a vibrant part of my family’s lifestyle.)

I also continued my work of co-creating a cooperative of mothers and their children to ensure that our son had an 8-hours/per week meet-up with the same group of other children, while under the care of a wise facilitator and other gentle and loving mothers (fathers, and grandparents). Our son thrived because of this.

2.) I swallowed my pride and asked for financial (and other) help from my wider community. A number of times this looked like our friends producing exciting and enjoyable fundraisers for us. Sometimes, it looked like other mamas picking our son up and taking him out on playdates – which is another reason our son thrived during these times. I also kept showing up in places like, my morning workout group, where I could open up and talk with others about how I was really feeling. This was how, last November, I realized I was feeling depressed. Sometimes, just talking about it helps bring it into the light and become integrated.

#3.) Sleep deprivation + daily anxiety & overwhelm = an internal feeling of fingernails being dragged down a chalkboard. In recognition of my shot nervous system,

I utilized my wider support system – as well as awesome trade and barter tools – to provide horse therapy sessions not just for my cancer ridden partner but for myself as well.

My current wish is for all mothers to receive equine therapy for their nervous systems, too. And you can bet your bottom dollar that I will use my precious time and energy for making this a reality for all of us.  😉

And #4.), (which is what I think is the most important thing that I have done):

I stopped doing a lot of things and I honored the invitation that winter presents us with every year.

After blowing my adrenals by working out too hard (I was channeling my frustration and anger into my sessions), I stopped working out altogether. I pulled in, and rested a lot. I have read a lot of books in bed at nap time and before bedtime, and I have been shamelessly consuming all 9 seasons of the HBO series, “Shameless.”

Sitting on my butt, in Burt’s warm office, rubbing his leg while tapping out of the drama that is my life and into another family’s dysfunction and comedic antics has been a goddess send. I have been allowing myself to relax in a way that I haven’t done in years. (And, I have to admit that, as my binge watching approaches the show’s current 9th season, I am already beginning to miss the Gallagher family in my daily life.)

I go to bed early and I have been choosing to sleep in in the morning, versus getting up and going for my pre-dawn walks. I am cleaning and care-taking less too, and am saving certain housecleaning duties for someone else to do. I am honoring that my time and energy is just too precious to continue to spend on specific tasks.

For those of us who struggle with a loss of appetite that can accompany feelings of depression, anxiety and overwhelm, I found myself intuitively eating a higher fat content – such as adding a lot of fresh whipped cream to my morning coffee ritual – during this cold, winter season. Due to all of this, I have gained weight. My curves are back as I have put on a “winter coat.” 😉

In times of stress, gaining weight can be one of the most loving gifts we can give ourselves.

Go ahead, friend.
Take up space.
You are entitled.


(Just like me.)
xoxox
Cara