The Art of Tidying Up and Taking Lessons from Daniel Day-Lewis

It has been a long time since I've written a blog post. Of course, a part of me has been having a conversation with myself about the need to do so ALL this time. Yes, for weeks, no months.  I was working on a post a while ago about the challenges of mood and PTSD symptoms but wanted to wait for a professional colleague who is developing an app and research study for cancer survivors who experience symptoms (coming soon). Then it seems that working and traveling to two countries, three states, enjoying dear friends and family, and a wonderful conference filled my days… and my thoughts and my energy. And I felt there was a shift coming.

A little over a year ago, after having completed some courses in online business practices I started my own business serving folks who have been impacted by cancer. Lots of the training in this new realm and lots of what I heard about was the need to constantly put myself out there, how to sell me and my product quickly and how to be the latest and greatest in my area.  Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, blog post and more. Much of what I read was that expertise was overrated. I found myself at odds with what I know about myself, what is needed to run a business, how to be true to my passions and how to succeed with all that in mind! I must admit, I constantly love learning about how we might approach cancer from a variety of perspectives and therefore struggled with all that I wanted to do. Recently I listened to a wonderful podcast, Courage & Clarity by Steph Crowder, interviewing Rachel East and Kristin Walker of Clarity on Fire and felt great relief and acceptance during their discussion of being true to ones’ values in life.

“Clutter is not just physical stuff.  It’s old ideas, toxic relationships and bad habits. Clutter is anything that does not support your better self.”
- Eleanor Brown

I’ve been thinking a lot about the art of tidying up… which of course also means letting go. A dear friend just completed a stellar job of transforming his living space but mine has been an internal tidying up and seeking clarity. There was no chaos. There were no physical signs that life was overly stressful or not fulfilling, just a sense that something was trying to shift and I needed to give some time and space to the new growth and the aspects of myself that are trying to sprout and grow. Letting go of what doesn’t quite fit anymore can be a loss. There can be grief. There can be fear. There can be uncertainty. It can feel lonely. It can feel like it should be finished already! It is about identifying priorities and trying to practice your values and your priorities in your daily life… and yes, sometimes that means decluttering and discarding. Making room and honoring the new even when you are not sure where it is taking you.

So, where does Daniel Day-Lewis come into this? During my above ‘semi-hibernation phase’, I heard that he was retiring from film. Many would consider him one of the best actors of our day. Yet what I remember too is that he took off five years to apprentice with a shoe cobbler in Italy. He took another five years after filming Lincoln to delve into farming and learning many trades that come with living on the land. I admire his passion for learning new things. I admire his ability to become a novice again and again. I admire his passion for finding teachers in all walks of life.

“I follow my curiosity.”
- Daniel Day-Lewis

I continue to be passionate about caring for people impacted by cancer (thanks Mindy!), and I continue to be passionate about learning new things. I continue to wonder how we could provide care differently, ideally better, and more holistically. Might we be able to provide neuroprotection so people don’t have to deal with so much peripheral neuropathy? Might we do a better job of preparing people for the mental and emotional work that goes into living as fully as possible the first few years after treatment or when living with metastatic disease? Can we research all benefits to treatments and provide even more options to people dealing with cancer?

I was fortunate to attend the Oncology Nursing Society Congress in Denver this May, and was thrilled by many of the presentations and especially with meeting a dedicated and passionate nurse named Kristin Wohlschlagel. Kristin lives in Hawaii and previously worked in hospice. She is a mover and a shaker and making strides in her state and beyond partnering with researchers from around the world. She is a clinician, a budding researcher and a mentor to many. My meeting with her felt as magical as the sphinx moth pollinating the cereus flower! I am so thrilled to be learning from her and the research and literature that is available internationally.  The courses and credentialing I have recently completed through the American Cannabis Nurses Association and TMCI Global provided the fundamentals for understanding the history of cannabis, the endocannabinoid system, the challenges ahead, the research being done and the research that is so desperately needed. Given the recent diagnosis of John McCain this article about glioblastoma might be of interest, "The Next Big Brain Cancer Drug Could Come from Marijuana."

So, I’ve decluttered some of the old that no longer fits so well… and I am curious, passionate, feeling energized and ready to learn and share! I am excited to learn new ways of thinking about how care can be provided and the science that goes along with providing optimum care. Yes, in some ways I am a novice and have so much to learn but there is plenty of space. I guess there is magic in tidying up!

I am thankful there are so many wonderfully supportive resources available on social media that connect us in this world of trying to figure out all the puzzles that cancer presents! Thank you for all that you do with acknowledgement of some of my favorites! @CancerGrad, @Nalieagustin, @nanushcas, @livelifenowproject, @ihadcancer and @sofiaholubwellness

“Surrender for a time, but try to eat well and go for long walks in nature. Don’t push or try to create an artificial life.”
- a Cancer Patient from the LIVE LIFE NOW PROJECT