I’ve noticed a funny pattern. Being on vacation opens me up emotionally. I can sit, doing nothing. And then the tears will come. Deep tears. They aren’t sad though. It’s simply that my body and soul finally have a moment to express themselves.
For a few, fleeting moments, gone is the routine.
Eyes open. Phone on. Teeth brushed. Rush. Rush. Rush. Kids to school. Then to work. Work. Work. Work. Rush home. Kids to bed. Eat dinner. Talk to husband. Watch TV. Sleep. Repeat. No room for feelings, no time.
So I’m on vacation. I’m sitting on a beach. Listening to music and reading a book by a neurosurgeon about his own mortality. And I cry. I cry and it feels good. Because it feels good to feel.
What happens to the feelings I ignore on a daily basis? What impact do they have on me? A year ago I got my answer. In my case they turned into a nodule (lump) on my thyroid. And it isn’t small. And it is still there. A daily reminder that when I forget to feel, there are consequences.
I’m lucky. In my case this three-centimeter companion I have isn’t cancer. But it isn’t going away, and so here I am. Sitting on a beach, writing about my feelings, trying to enjoy my vacation.
Thankfully a lot can change in a year.
I now write about my feelings on a daily basis. I read and share the feelings of my tribe. Together we are feeling our way to a fuller happier more whole existence, through a commitment to practicing self love and self care.
For me, self care is my gateway to self love. How I commit my time and energy is in a direct relationship with how I feel about my life and myself. For example, the vacation I’m on as I write this.
I’m on the beach. I’m watching the shore. I feel words that need to be said and I’m expressing them. In this case, to you. And this is how I heal the literal lump in my throat, the one that turned my world upside down for a few days while we waited for the biopsy results.
A big part of self care is connecting not just with your emotions, but with your body.
Have you moved today? (Have I? I need to.) Have you touched your body? Would you know if something popped up today, that wasn’t there yesterday? We hear a lot about breast cancer—and so doing a breast exam is hopefully on your radar. But what about the other parts of your body? Case in point—your neck. When is the last time you touched yours?
In my case, my annual physical is something I hold sacrosanct. When the doctor found the nodule on my thyroid, it immediately triggered an unrelenting question— “How long has it been there, and why didn’t I notice?” Of course ever since I was diagnosed, I haven’t been able to un-see it. I notice my thyroid in every picture, every glance in the mirror, all the time. And that’s a good thing I suppose. Because now if it grows, I will be the first to know.
Thyroid nodules, which in the worst-case scenario, are indicative of thyroid cancer, strike women to an alarming degree—they are four times more common in women. Three out of four instances of thyroid cancer are in women. I’m convinced this is because as women, we carry so much emotion in our bodies (so much of which doesn’t even belong to us.)
So I take this vacation without guilt.
My work can wait. My kids are in good hands. My routine will be there waiting for me, whether I worry about it or not. The thing that will be different when I go home is me. Because I will have felt the feelings that needed to be felt. I will still have some sand on my skin. I will have the songs in my ears and the wind on my back. I will have enough to remind me of my ME, my unburdened most beautiful and most authentic self.
I spoke to my mom today to ask how my daughters are since she’s taking care of them while I’m away for the weekend. She told me about how they used flowers pots to create a nook in the backyard where they can read books. She said, “It was completely their idea!” and of course it was. Because they are four. And they are still their untarnished, purest versions. They are full of good ideas and confidence and light and feelings they are feeling in real time.
My job is not to crush them. To help them preserve their ME, to nurture their ideas, to witness their feelings and create space for them to feel them. Without shame or guilt. With clarity and love. To remind them that self love is sacred and self care is survival. To teach them to know themselves—body, and mind. To show them they are born whole and all the love they need is within their own hands. To model for them what it means for a woman to choose herself, each and every day.
So this next margarita is a toast to ME, and a toast to you. I hope you take a moment to feel something today.