A year ago today, I was cancer free and on my way home from an amazing weekend retreat at Kripalu run by Jennifer Pastiloff. During those three days, I discussed my fear and anger and hopes for my future (even though I was scared to death of what the future might hold). Even with no evidence of disease, cancer still controlled my life.
Four months later I learned the cancer was back. Life, once again, had to be put on hold.
Or did it?
When what you fear the most in life occurs, what else is there to fear? The answer is: nothing.
Seems as if along with some tumors, I grew a pair of balls. I made plans for my future. I traveled. I laughed. I wrote. I loved and I lived. I realized every time I used the phrase, “I’ll be happy when..” I was allowing fear to control my life.
“I’ll be happy when my next scan is clear.”
“I’ll be happy when I’m in remission for over five years”
Life doesn’t work that way. There are no guarantees that anything will happen, except life itself. It will always keep moving, keep changing.
Be happy now.
Don’t wait for someday, some person, some job, some thing. Now. Right now. No matter what you are going through there can be joy found somewhere. Find it.
As Jen says: Be a beauty hunter.
I returned to Kripalu again this weekend for Jen’s workshop; this time a little slower due to the chemotherapy I’m back on. I kept up with the yoga moves as much as I could; sometimes falling into child’s pose when my body began to give out.
Jen never pushes you physically, I love her for that. Emotionally though? She draws it out of you. Her own openness and vulnerability make you want to be your most authentic self. Her writing prompts have you digging deep and cut right through the bullshit. There is no hiding when she comes close and looks into your eyes. When you have given all you can give, she smiles that knowing smile. It is the smile of someone who has been there, who has experienced pain and wants to help you get to the other side of it. I love that smile.
Jen is a firm believer in asking for what you want. She prompted us to write about things we wanted to ask for in life, without fear of the word ‘no’. Here is my list:
1. Hey, God, can you finally rid my body of this cancer once and for all?
2. Dr. Kemeny, can I come off of the chemotherapy yet?
3. Can I be loved in the way I want and need to be loved?
4. Can I continue to have these amazing orgasms…but, with someone else in the room?
5. Can someone help me make my ‘Fuck It List’ a platform I use to help others going through difficulties in life?
I’ll wait and see if the Universe answers these questions for me. What I won’t wait for, however, is my happiness. That will come regardless of the answer.
Thank you, Jennifer Pastiloff, for all that you are and all that you do. I know who is walking beside me; 40 incredible women from this retreat. Much love to you all.
Note from Jen: I am humbled, not only to read this, but to know Kathleen. Please send her love on Wednesday as she has her next scans. Oh, and fuck you, Cancer.
ps, what’s on your Fuck It List? Post below!
Don’t you love the Fuck It List idea? Let’s help her make it viral! Connect with her here. Say I sent you, k?
Love this post. I think it translates well to anyone going through rough times, whether physical, emotional, what ever it may be. “Be a beauty-hunter.” Inspiring!
Thanks so much for sharing this with us Jen, and for being such a good friend and supporter. And please pass my love and prayers along to Kathleen. I love the drawing!
Number 2 on my personal Fuck It List (after writing) is sky-diving. How life-affirming would that be? I’m gonna go see when and where I can get that done… =)
Thank you for admiring my artistic skills! Hahahaha… Skydiving, wow! Go for it! Then please tell us all about it 🙂
I love your bravery Kathleen. Jen told me about meeting you last year and what an impression you made on her life. Your words struck a cord in me “When what you fear the most in life occurs, what else is there to fear? The answer is: nothing”. The biggest fear that we had back in 2009 was the diagnosis of Prader Willi Syndrome of my grandson Blaise (Rachel’s son) and the fear that it would be positive. When it was it brought us to our knees literally. After that those words became imbedded in my daughter Rachel. Bring it on she said. Just bring it on and nothing can knock me down now. I send prayers to you for your scans and love as well. Hope to meet you one of these days. Love Jen & Rachel’s mama.
Thank you, Barbara. You have raised two amazing women; two powerful and beautiful lights in this world. I, too, look forward to meeting you one day. Xo
I so missed being a part of this retreat at Kripalu this year. I thought about it all weekend and what I was missing, the solace, the “out of my comfort zone” writing, the exercise, the awkwardness of sleeping in a room with 7 strangers, yet, by the end of the weekend wishing I didn’t have to leave them. You see, yet again, “life” gets in the way and we had the funeral for my father this weekend……he has been sick….cancer…what else? I enjoy Kathleen’s “fuck it list” since the day she started it, I am jealous and inspired. I keep thinking of “when what you fear in life the most occurs, what else is there to fear? ……nothing”. Except my “what I fear the most” keeps changing, just when I think the worst has happened, there is a new fear that comes true. I have to stop living like this and waiting for some THING to make me happy (i.e. un-doing the visual of watching my brothers last breath, removing the words “your daughter has prader-willi syndrome” from the doctors mouth, going back two years and never finding the lump on my breast, having to play nurse to my step father so he could die at home). Those are some of the things that if I could just “undo” then I would be happy. But I can’t, so Kathleen and Jen, help me move on, motivate me and I live vicariously through their lives sometimes when I can’t escape my own. Thanks guys! Maybe we will meet again, but for now, I will just continue to look forward to your posts. Thanks Kathleen for making me laugh, daily!
Sherie, I am so sorry you have encountered so many of life’s challenges, but I am happy to hear you can find some form of solace in the words I’ve written. Your tribe supports you, we are here for you; to carry you when you cannot find the strength to walk. Continue seeking the beauty in this world. It is all around you. Xo
I so needed to read those words today: “be happy now.” So simple yet so easy to forget, and I REALLY needed the reminder, so a huge, heartfelt *thank you* Kathleen. I am sending love and light your way, lovely – and will on Wednesday especially. Oh, and you are SO a rock star, girl! (and fuck cancer!) – xo
I’m so glad you got what you needed today. May that always be the case. Thank you!
I already knew I was gonna fall head over heels with Kathleen before I had the crazy happiness and good fortune to run into her at Jen’s MSH retreat this weekend— because I’d read a previous version of this post. She had me at F*ck It List. And so naturally I started stalking her fab self on FB. Getting to meet her in person went down just as I thought. She’s amaze balls. Sidenote to this article: I actually got those two photos mixed up, cuz I’ve never seen her sit still the one on the top (even during silent breakfast, lmao) but the one on bottom is pretty much down to the pixel, exactly how I see her. Love you, my rockstar friend! You will be in my thoughts and prayers starting now until we get the good report. And then, I’ll probs keep you there cuz I don’t mind thinking about ya. Anyway, here’s my F*ck It List that I had written for 2014: https://joulesevans.wordpress.com/2014/01/05/12-gifts-of-christmas-unwrap-mix/.
(You’ll note I checked off #12, so instead of just checking it off, I’m thinking of adding Jen’s Tuscany retreat.)
Beautiful! Thank you for sharing this! Love and healing heading your way.
You are amazing. Thank u for sharing your story. I am amazed by your strength and bravery and mostly your will.
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[…] since become a dear friend and a great source of inspiration for me. She is the one who created the Fuck It List, that I so often speak of. She sent me this and I knew I had to get it up on the site. […]