Because I Can

Last week, I resumed my three times a week jogging routine.  Today, with temps in the 20s, I still got in my 4.5 mile outdoor run this morning.  Prior to resuming last week, I had taken a two-and-a-half-week break; initially because of a cold and then because I was thoroughly enjoying being a holiday couch potato.  I definitely value rest and relaxation (see A Restful Mind and a Recharged Spirit ).  I really enjoyed my holiday break.  So, it took me some time to get motivated and when I started back was running at a slower than normal pace.  But, I got my 3 runs in last week and plan to get them in this week, too. 

Running for me is almost addictive.  There are so many personal benefits.  I get my daily physical activity.  The health benefits of exercise are proven and I’m especially mindful of trying to help reduce my risk of breast cancer recurrence.  For me, I also benefit from the stress relief that I find during and after my run.  I solve all of the world’s problems while I’m jogging.  I’ve found it to be a fairly easy and inexpensive form of exercise since I run outside and don’t require a gym membership or treadmill.  It definitely contributes to my health and wellness.  But most of all, I do it because I can.

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Not so long ago, I wasn’t jogging, but sock collecting.  I have a drawer full of hospital socks, the ones you get when you have a diagnostic test or when you’re in the hospital.  They have the slip resistant material on the bottom to keep you upright when you start walking (post surgery or post medical procedure).  Through my breast cancer survival, I’ve collected a lot of these socks and wear then around my house.  They are comfortable, but they are also a reminder of hospital stays, including my mastectomy (breast removal surgery), my oophorectomy (surgical removal of my ovaries) when sitting up in a hospital bed was a task and walking even short distances seemed almost impossible.

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In addition to my hospital sock collection, I’ve also collected quite a few pair of running shoes.  For the shoes that I’ve worn out, literally to no tread, I keep them as work shoes.  In the last four years, since I’ve taken up distance running, there have only been a few weeks that I’ve taken off, mostly due to a cold or ailment.  For someone who hasn’t been disciplined in every area of my life, this is one area where I’m focused and disciplined.  I’ve completed 5 distance runs (four 10 mile runs and a half marathon of 13.1 miles).  I’ve also completed some distance walks.  I average 1 -2 distance runs annually.  I don’t run for speed.  I run for completion.  When I’m not training for a distance run, I run as part of my routine.  I’m not trying to qualify for one of the storied international marathons.  I might one day, but it’s not my goal.  I run because I can.

When I had my breast cancer surgeries and treatment, putting on a pair of socks and shoes for a walk around the block was as unthinkable as a 10-mile run.  I’ve said it many times before that as I was laying on my back in a hospital bed or sitting exhausted in my chair while I was getting chemo any activity seemed like an impossibility.

But, I kept a vision of “life after”.  I didn’t know what exactly it might look like.  I didn’t envision distance runs, but I envisioned more than laying on my back or sitting exhausted in my chair.  So, 8 years later, I run because I can. 

2017

I’m not really making resolutions this year, but more declarations.  I’m bringing back music to my life (see Bringing Back Music to My Life in the New Year).  As a cultural tourist, I’m keenly aware of the fact that as we age we tend to become confined by cultural norms or expectations.  There are a lot of unwritten rules to follow and abide by as an adult.  We do things, mostly the fun, imaginative, adventurous stuff of our dreams, somewhat apologetically.  We put off our plans because it doesn’t seem to be the right place or time.  We do only what’s necessary and not necessarily what’s fulfilling because it’s what we are supposed to do.  But, I’m going to live the way I want to, with an even bigger vision, because I can. 

Today I will __________ because I can. 

This week I will __________ because I can. 

This month I will __________ because I can. 

This year I will __________ because I can. 

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Fill in the blanks.  This year, I’m making my own rules and I’m going to live my life bigger and better than ever, full of fun and laughter BECAUSE I CAN!

What’s yours?  Please share.  I look forward to hearing from you and making 2017 a Because I Can year!

Melanie A. Nix – Triple negative breast cancer survivor.  Resilience Coach, Reconstructionist™ and Health and Wellness Advocate.  Living my manifesto Soul of a Survivor and always striving to color outside of the lines when defining my new normal.

Bringing Music Back to My Life in the New Year

After a subpar childhood piano career, I resumed my piano lessons when I was 35 years old.  I remember how I jumped up and down and celebrated when the used black upright piano that I purchased was delivered to my house.  Even as the mother of a 13-month-old son, I was dedicated and likely the most disciplined I had been.  I was faithful to my lessons, my practice and focused on becoming an accomplished pianist. 

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I love music and wanted to fill my home with countless piano “concerts”.  I envisioned my family sitting around the piano and Christmas tree during the holidays as I performed a list of traditional holiday favorites as well as performing concerts throughout the year where I played a variety of genres. 

As an adult, I remember nervously sitting next to kindergarteners as we prepared for our spring recital in 2008.  After the birth of my second child, this was my first recital in almost 20 years.  My emotions vacillated between excitement and frustration; excitement that I was pursuing my piano dreams and frustration that I hadn’t been a better childhood student and hadn’t mastered the piano at almost 40.  Nevertheless, I was excited to be performing a culmination of a few years of lessons that had me proud of what I had recently accomplished and further lit the fire under me to keep getting better.  Despite a few missed keys, the spring recital was great and I beamed with pride as my family and friends got to see my hard work.  Despite being a working mother of two (I had recently taken a much-needed break from corporate America), I was able to maintain my family focus while making piano lessons a priority and working on my other professional endeavors.

Until that devastating derailment also known as my triple negative breast cancer diagnosis.  In my sudden and immediate change of priorities to better understand my breast cancer subtype, research treatment options, physicians and focus on survival, I withdrew from my upcoming fall recital. 

That was 8 years ago.  Aside from the occasional moment that I plunk at a piece from my childhood or adulthood recitals or some of my half-written songs and a few comical attempts to provide lessons to my family, the piano has sat largely unused.  Sometimes dusty and out of tune, it represents a stark contradiction to the dedicated days of practice, my scheduled piano tunings and appreciation for the instrument and music I was able to produce. 

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The years since my breast cancer diagnosis have been filled with highs and lows, a challenge as I find my way in my new normal.  Dreams I once had have been replaced by new dreams.  U turns have been a large part of navigation in my new normal.  Reconstruction has been an overriding theme.  As 2016 closes with another year of survival, another holiday and my 47th birthday, resolutions I used to make have been replaced by one simple declaration for the year ahead.  I’m bringing back the music to my life! 

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Things that were out of tune and dusty in my life will be dusted off, tuned with a refocus to have beautiful melodies today and the next day and the next day.  This is a work in progress.  I look forward to recommitting myself to some of the things I “lost” and making my new normal more bright and beautiful. 

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I pray that there’s also beautiful music for you in 2017.  I’ll keep you posted and hope to hear about your 2017 adventures. 

Happy New Year!

Melanie A. Nix – Triple negative breast cancer survivor.  Resilience Coach, Reconstructionist™ and Health and Wellness Advocate.  Always striving to color outside of the lines when defining your new normal.

www.breastcancercomfortsite.com/blog

 

5 Important Lessons on Being Grounded

On Monday, I discussed a postponed beach trip, but why I’m keeping my bags packed anyway.  (I’m hopeful that this weekend I’ll get there).  But, it put traveling and road trips on my mind.  I’ve had a few instances where a flight was grounded and a trip turned, unexpectedly, into an extended or overnight trip.  When making alternate arrangements and thinking about the time I was losing, I was irked and irritated by being grounded.

I’ve hated being grounded.  I’m impatient.  As a reconstructionist™, having dealt with the physical, spiritual, emotional and financial devastation that comes with life-threatening illness and life devastating events, I am always eager for an uncomfortable or bad situation to quickly change.  I’m always looking for positive change.

I’ve been grounded a number of times, by flight cancellations, and by my late mother disciplining a young mischievous daughter (me).  I’ve also been grounded by a job layoff, business opportunities that failed and relationships that fell apart.  When I was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer, I was grounded by the physically, spiritually, emotionally and financially debilitating effects of treatment.  Each situation triggered anger, irritation and impatience.  A forced delay in my plans has never been good.  Or has it?

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The irony is that while being grounded seems a waste of time, it can actually be a gift of time.   As I reflect now on life’s delays and plan changes, I realize that being grounded is sometimes the ultimate gift of more time to rest, plan, prepare, and perfect; to be fully ready to take advantage when my best opportunity arises.  It’s my choice how I use my time when I’m grounded.  I’ve started moving from bemoaning the situation to better managing the time to be fully prepared for an opportunity to fly.

A quick Google search provides the definitions of grounded:

  • a parent refusing to allow a child to go out socially as punishment
  • to prohibit or prevent (a pilot or aircraft) from flying
  • a person who understands what’s important in life

When a parent grounds a child it is the parent’s experience and wisdom guiding them to deter the child’s unwanted or bad behavior.  It is a push for more positive behavior and outcomes.  When a plane is grounded, it is the experience and wisdom of the pilots, air traffic controllers, mechanics, and aviation experts who make the decision to delay the flight.  When a person is described as grounded, it is their experience and wisdom that enables them to focus on what’s important in life.  A person who is grounded can prioritize those investments of time, energy and attention that will yield the most rewarding outcomes.

When I think back on the groundings of my youth with clarity and perspective, I realize that these distraction free periods actually enabled me to be a better student.  Without the distractions of the telephone (landline in my day), parties and other outings, my focus was more intense and there was a palpable difference between being a good student and dedicating time to being a great student.  It helped add a measure of discipline to my young life that I was lacking.

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And, as someone who has had my share of hours watching an airport monitor change from a flight delay to a flight cancellation, I’ve got experience being grounded in airports.  Often viewed as a waste of my time, when I again reflect with my hindsight 20/20 vision and a more mature perspective, I realize that my time was better spent focusing on how to be productive and make great use of the time while I was grounded versus focusing on what I was missing.  Just like a mechanic who is called to fix the plane, it can be my opportunity to focus on and make my own repairs and improvements.  The mechanics use this grounded time to put the plane in a better position to have a safe flight at a great altitude.  Maybe being grounded is a sign that I’m not (yet) ready to fly.

For sure, being grounded is a time to think really hard about what’s led me to this place and where I’m trying to go.  At times, it’s definitely meant that I’m burnt out.  Maybe I’ve used too much time, attention and energy on things outside of myself.  Maybe I need some physical or mental rest.  I need to refuel.  Maybe I just need time to stop neglecting my needs and focus on me.  Life’s distractions can find a way of pushing us away from our needs.  We can stop nurturing ourselves in constant haste to get from here to there and back again.

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Finally, by being grounded, I can become more grounded.  Without distractions, with a focus on making better use of my time, with a focus on me, I can prioritize and truly zero in on those things that are important in life, those things that will help me get off the ground when my time is right.

Sometimes, no maturity or perspective can change the fact that being grounded can suck, especially when there seems to be no rhyme or reason why.  We don’t deserve bad things to happen to us.  I’m just learning to change my approach to how I use the time.  When it appears that there are no introspective moments that provide clarity, this may be the clear sign that it is simply just time to rest and recharge.

I’m reconstructing life after breast cancer and these lessons are much clearer to me now.  Each time I’m grounded, I have to be more attune to the chance to make the best use of my time.   The 5 important lessons I’ve learned from being grounded are:

  1. Being grounded provides an opportunity to change a behavior
  2. Being grounded provides an opportunity to focus on making (personal) improvements and working toward excellence
  3. Being grounded provides an opportunity to rest and refuel
  4. Being grounded provides an opportunity to nurture myself
  5. My changes that come from being grounded allow me to live a life that is in step with what’s valuable and important to me

At the very least, I owe it to myself when I’m grounded to be reflective and introspective to determine how to best use and manage my downtime.  During chemo, I couldn’t walk a city block without extreme fatigue.  I needed rest to heal.  Now, post treatment, I’m a distance runner who has completed a half marathon and three 10 mile races.  I hated being laid off, but found it a beautiful time to spend more time at school with my small children.  I was able to attend daytime school events and presentations, sit at school performances without a laptop in tow and a cell phone in my ear, half listening to a work conference call.  And surely one of my prayers when I was diagnosed with breast cancer was having the opportunity to watch my children grow up.  With this gift of time, I was able to do so with far less interruption from the seemingly never ending call of the corporate world.  I was able to move away from the early morning, late afternoon meetings, the stressful deadlines and the unreasonable demands of my corporate grind.  I’ve transitioned to writing, speaking, and coaching; things that I love and that provide such fulfillment and joy that I wouldn’t have been able to do while sitting in my cubicle.

As adults, we are no longer under our parents’ watch and constant care.  But, God and life have a way of redirecting us, grounding us, when we would otherwise be going in the wrong direction.  I didn’t get to the beach last weekend, but got the opportunity to spend some wonderful days with my family and friends that truly fed my soul.  When a business opportunity doesn’t come to fruition (yet), when a financial investment doesn’t show great reward (yet), when a personal opportunity doesn’t yield positive results (yet) and I’m grounded, I have to remember that it may be a sign that I need to rest and then put in more work, more planning, more preparation in order for me to be ready to take flight and soar!

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Melanie A. Nix – Triple negative breast cancer survivor.  Resilience Coach, Reconstructionist™ and Health and Wellness Advocate.  Always striving to color outside of the lines when defining my new normal.

A Change in My Surroundings – Part 4 – Inspirational Books Around Me

A few blogs ago, we discussed how a change in your surroundings can replace negative reminders and provide instant gratification.  One of the items on the list was having a music player or iPod speaker to have uplifting music at your fingertips and we provided a list in A Change in My Surroundings – Part 2.  An item on the list was having Bible verses, poems, calming passages posted or framed in your surroundings and we provided a list in A Change in My Surroundings – Part 3.  Another item on the list was uplifting books of hope, faith, courage and peace.  I said that I would share some in a future blog.  Here are a few:

  1. The Bible
  2. The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
  3. The Prophet by Khalil Gibran
  4. Oh, the Places You’ll Go! by Dr. Seuss
  5. The Prayer of Jabez: Breaking Through to the Blessed Life by Dr. Bruce H. Wilkinson
  6. The Power of Hope The One Essential of Life and Love by Maurice Lamm
  7. Hope Happens! words of encouragement for times of change by Catherine DeVrye
  8. Be Happy 170 ways to transform your day by Patrick Lindsay
  9. Now Is the Time 170 Ways to Seize the Moment by Patrick Lindsay
  10. Inner Simplicity by Elaine St. James

This is not an exhaustive list, but a few to consider.  Please let me know which you like and others that should be added to the list.

Melanie A. Nix – Triple negative breast cancer survivor.  Resilience Coach, Reconstructionist™ and Health and Wellness Advocate.  Always striving to color outside of the lines when defining my new normal.

A Change in My Surroundings – Part 3 – Inspirational Passages Around Me

A few blogs ago, we discussed how a change in your surroundings can replace negative reminders and provide instant gratification.  One of the items on the list was having a music player or iPod speaker to have uplifting music at your fingertips and we provided a list in A Change in My Surroundings – Part 2.  Another item on the list was having Bible verses, poems, calming passages posted or framed in your surroundings.  I said that I would share some in a future blog.  Here are a few:

  1. Psalm 23 in The Bible
  2. The Serenity Prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr
  3. “Desiderata” by Max Ehrmann
  4. “Invictus” by William Ernest Henley
  5. “What It Takes to be Number One” by Vince Lombardi
  6. Prayer of Jabez in 1 Chronicles 4:9-10 in The Bible
  7. “If” by Rudyard Kipling
  8. “A Bag of Tools” by R. Lee Sharpe
  9. “Don’t Quit” sometimes credited as anonymous and other times credited to Edgar A. Guest
  10. Write your own inspirational, motivational and uplifting words to keep close by

This is not an exhaustive list, but a few to consider.  Please let me know which you like and others that should be added to the list.

Melanie A. Nix – Triple negative breast cancer survivor.  Resilience Coach, Reconstructionist™ and Health and Wellness Advocate.  Always striving to color outside of the lines when defining my new normal.

Olympic Lessons for Reconstruction

As the sun sets on the 2016 Olympics in Rio and we turn our sights to Tokyo 2020, I’d like to reflect on the last 2+ weeks of intense competition and sportsmanship.  I strongly believe in the Role Model In the Mirror and also find value of lessons from others who are the best at what they do – winners!  Those who have tried, failed, and tried again.  Their tenacity and unwavering dedication and commitment provide some useful nuggets especially as a breast cancer survivor undergoing life reconstruction, adjusting to the new normal, and seeking the very best today and in the future.

I love the back stories of athletes that document their beginnings, their struggles, and everything in between that leads them to the Olympics.  I’m sure you’ve got your favorites, but here are a few of mine:

  • Simone Biles – this 19 year old won four gold medals and a bronze medal dominating women’s gymnastics in her first Olympics.
  • Katie Ledecky – this 19 year old won four gold medals and a bronze medal in some races that weren’t even close.
  • Simone Manuel – this 20 year old won two gold medals and two bronze medals where, in some races, she didn’t seem favored to even get a medal
  • Helen Maroulis – this 24 year old became the first American woman to win a wrestling gold medal. She beat a seemingly invincible opponent and was guided by her mantra “Christ is in me, I am enough.”
  • Allyson Felix – this 34 year old won two gold medals and a silver medal. After a failed baton pass, a challenge and another qualifying run, she won a relay gold medal.  She is the only female track and field athlete to win six gold medals and is tied as the most decorated female track and field athlete with a total of nine medals.
  • Michael Phelps – this 31 year old won five gold medals and one silver medal. He is now the most decorated Olympian with 28 medals.
  • Usain Bolt – this 30 year old (29 during his Olympic runs) completed a triple triple in Rio by winning three gold medals in three Olympics.
  • Claressa Shields – this 21 year old is the first U.S. boxer to win back to back gold medals.
  • Kristin Armstrong – this 42 year old mother won gold (before her 43rd birthday), managing some difficult weather and a bloody nose, in the Olympic cycling time trial; her third consecutive gold.
  • USA Women’s Water Polo team – the team wins a back to back gold medal with Ashleigh Johnson as the first African American goalie on a U.S. water polo team and a coach who lost a brother just prior to the Olympics.
  • Jillion Potter – This 30 year old battled cancer to become a Rugby sevens Olympian.

There are so many other history making and incredible stories, but these are a few that are top of my mind.  Some of the lessons, some of the thread of these stories, are certainly applicable to reconstruction and adjusting to the new normal:

  • See it, Believe it – The athletes visualized and or wrote down their dreams of being great, winning, becoming an Olympian
  • Never settle – The athletes didn’t settle, even launching challenges when, at first blush, it seemed they had no chance of moving forward or winning.
  • Keep going – Obstacles and setbacks didn’t prevent them from trying again and again.
  • No easy path – There were no quick and easy paths; many had to change course in order to move forward and become better.
  • Discomfort can bring forth growth – Many had to leave comfortable situations and surroundings in order to become the best.
  • No shortcuts – There are no shortcuts to a phenomenal outcome; each put in consistent hard work and prioritized their training, research and preparation
  • No excuses – they didn’t use life circumstances, injuries and setbacks as an excuse for not striving for and being their best.

I am always inspired by the Role Model In The Mirror.  These stories and lessons provide some additional inspiration.  As we rebuild, as we adjust to the new normal, remember that there can be many gold medal moments.

Melanie A. Nix – Triple negative breast cancer survivor.  Resilience Coach, Reconstructionist™ and Health and Wellness Advocate.  Always striving to color outside of the lines when defining my new normal.

In Sickness and Health – With Gratitude to Caregivers and Co-survivors

My husband, Ray, was very excited for us to exchange traditional vows at our wedding 15 years ago.  Little did we know that seven years into our marriage we would live the vows “in sickness and in health” when I was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer.  On that fall morning in 2008 when I received my diagnosis, he morphed from husband and friend to caregiver and co-survivor.

Caregiver and co-survivor is an often overlooked, but can be a soul saving role.  My husband and I went from celebrating a second honeymoon on a trip to the Caribbean to making life saving and life changing decisions.  Somehow, I thought any serious sickness might come, if at all, when we had great grandkids and were much older.  At 40 and 38, Ray and I, with a 4 year old son and 19 month old daughter, were thrust into new roles.  Ray was the man who provided a shoulder to cry on and prayed for me when my faith was shaken; he was by my side through multiple hospital stays with my bilateral mastectomy, prophylactic oophorectomy and reconstruction and 16 cycles of chemotherapy.  He spent over 12 months as medical researcher, hospital taxi, hospital companion, doctor’s appointment taxi, doctor’s appointment companion, drain tube drainer and bandage changer, and reconstruction cheerleader.  He was the first to compliment me on my chemo bald head and the first to share my excitement when wiry strands of grey hair started to grow back.  He was so attentive at doctor’s appointments; taking notes on how to bandage and care for my bruised body.  And, he seemed to have many elixirs to care for my bruised soul.  He praised me and exalted me.

Through nights of nausea, days of intense pain and exhaustion, sadness, anxiety, hopelessness and despair, I had a steadfast champion and nurturer.  To the man who loved me back to life, to my soulmate who became my soul savior, in sickness and in health.  My gratitude.  My love.

To every caregiver, every co-survivor, every friend who cared and loved through the valleys and walked with you and helped you climb mountains.  May life give back to you all that you have given to those you have believed in and nurtured.

Melanie A. Nix – Triple negative breast cancer survivor.  Resilience Coach, Reconstructionist™ and Health and Wellness Advocate.  Always striving to color outside of the lines when defining my new normal.

A Change in My Surroundings

Who you are surrounded by matters (more discussion on this in a future blog).  What you are surrounded by matters as well.  My house holds great memories, but it is also where I lived when I was diagnosed with and battled triple negative breast cancer.  And, I’d like to rid myself of some of these reminders.

There’s no spigot of money, but there are some relatively low cost things that I can do to surround myself by some beautiful and uplifting things that replace negative reminders and provide instant gratification.  Items of beauty and positivity can be a constant source of encouragement, motivation and inspiration.  Here are a few:

  1. Music player or iPod speaker – uplifting music at your fingertips. (I will share some uplifting tunes on my playlist in a future blog).
  2. Bible verses, poems, calming passages posted or framed (I will share a few that I like and that have been motivational for me in a future blog).
  3. Piece(s) of art – preferably one that you create. Watercolor, drawing, sculpture, framed puzzle can all be therapeutic as well as become pieces of art.
  4. Color throughout. Paint can be a quick, easy and relatively inexpensive project, especially if you tackle an accent wall; an accent wall should be the wall that you look at first thing in the morning and last thing before you go to sleep.  You can also add some colorful curtains, pillows or throws (remnants from most fabric and craft stores are sold at discounts and could be a good source for creating some of these pieces).
  5. Uplifting books of hope, faith, and courage. (I’ll share a few that I like and that have been motivational for me in a future blog).
  6. Flowers – if not allergic, a few fresh flowers from the supermarket are not too expensive. If you have allergies, the synthetic flower market has really evolved and they have some that look like the real deal.
  7. A vase filled with colorful marbles or accents.
  8. A vision board (definitely would love to discuss this in a future blog) or a picture of your serenity place (the beach, the woods, a mountain).
  9. Scented candle if not allergic or some fragrance that is tolerable. Plus, the candle market has evolved and some are also actually like works of art.
  10. Pictures of you and your support team that will reinforce the full force that you’ve got behind you.

This is not an exercise in interior design or a makeover, but more a spruce up to help infuse more positivity and uplifting things in your every day.  If you don’t have the time, energy or finances to begin these changes, they are great suggestions to provide to your support team when they ask “How can I help?” “What can I do?” “What do you want?”  You can provide your list and invite their assistance to help you infuse your surroundings with positive reminders and beauty.

Please send pictures and updates of any ideas that you incorporate in your surroundings and also any additional ideas that you have to add to the list.

Melanie A. Nix – Triple negative breast cancer survivor.  Resilience Coach, Reconstructionist™ and Health and Wellness Advocate.  Always striving to color outside of the lines when defining my new normal.

Putting the Puzzle Together

Stuck in that place where your life is like a 1,000+ piece puzzle and you just don’t know how to solve it?  As a Reconstructionist™, I’m often consumed with how to put things together to solve this puzzle of rebuilding life after a breast cancer diagnosis, a life threatening illness, a life changing or catastrophic event.

My daughter loves puzzles and my late mother loved puzzles.  I’ve seen each spend hours or just a few minutes to quickly solve a puzzle depending on the type, the color variations, and the sizes and shapes of the pieces.  There are so many ways to solve a puzzle.  I remember my mother would start by picking out all of the corner and outer pieces (any with a straight edge).  She would build the entire frame first and then methodically complete the inner pieces.  My daughter will sometimes dump everything out and first work on pieces that have similar colors and graphics.  She will put together groupings of pieces at a time and then put those groups of pieces together to solve the puzzle and see the Big Picture.

Throughout my life, I’ve seen my late mother and, now, my daughter solve many puzzles; each with her own method and timing.  I’ve been guilty of feeling overwhelmed by the puzzle pieces of this “new normal” and being like an ostrich with my head in the sand.  But, I’ve learned that your head doesn’t need to be in the sand. There are multiple ways to solve the puzzle, some fast and easy and some more lengthy and difficult.  But, solving the puzzle starts when you open the box and dump out all of the pieces and begin to see things take shape.

Think about how you will you get started working on your puzzle right now!

Melanie A. Nix – Triple negative breast cancer survivor.  Resilience Coach, Reconstructionist™ and Health and Wellness Advocate.  Always striving to color outside of the lines when defining my new normal.

Reconstruction. Picture This.

My children love building bricks, building blocks and manipulatives.  They will painstakingly work on designing them according to the instructions to insure that they look exactly like the picture on the box.  When they get knocked over and shattered and pieces lost, after their anger and frustration, they go back to work.  With missing pieces, I’ve still seen them make great designs.  It may not look like the picture or the ideal image that they had, but it still looks good.

I have to continually make sure I keep this in mind.  Breast cancer and life reconstruction – physical, spiritual, financial – may not look like the picture I once had in my mind.  As I’m rebuilding, I haven’t always followed the “instructions”.  But, I’m still (re)building something phenomenal!

Melanie A. Nix – Triple negative breast cancer survivor.  Resilience Coach, Reconstructionist™ and Health and Wellness Advocate.  Always striving to color outside of the lines when defining my new normal.