The fact that I have TWO WHOLE MONTHS to mentally prepare for brain surgery might be the biggest challenge I face. Ample time is both a blessing and a curse in stressful situations, knowing that anxiety is going to try to rise exponentially with each
passing day, just to try to offset my good intentions to be at peace with my path ahead. This being the scariest experience I have ever faced, I am not hesitating to get my sh*t together and implement everything that has ever been recommended for self-care and stress-reduction.
Scraping things off my overly full plate: I’m a mother of two kids at two different schools across town from one another. I own and run two businesses and a rustic home on untamed mountain land, and my husband has an overly full plate as well as a school principal. Life has been crazy-full non-stop for years and years for our family, and while I’ve known for some time that it’s too much, I never could figure out how, when and where to make change. Cue brain tumor diagnosis! Suddenly all the decisions I needed to make were clear: Step 1: Back out of all upcoming production plans. Step 2: Back out of having a booth at my favorite upcoming annual art & wine festival .
Step 3: Back out of my role co-owning a store. Step 4: Back out of carpool duties. (I no longer felt responsible driving people’s kids around with my funky vision.) Step 5. Start asking for help getting kids to and fro. (When you tell people you have a brain tumor, people are generally quite understanding and helpful, and it will make your life way easier.) Obviously there will be income and opportunity loss, but I’ll deal with that later. Health and family should always come first, right?
Get outside: I must say that I couldn’t have chosen a better time of year for this diagnosis. I already wrote about the physical benefits of exercising in my post about Prepping My Body, but just being outside is so therapeutic. Living in Santa Cruz, California, we have an intense influx of tourism during the summer months, but in the fall we get to enjoy glorious weather without the crowds. Whether adventuring to the beach solo or to meet
a friend, or to log some miles in the woods with my fellow running ladies, I am not regretting any opportunities to soak up some natural beauty, fresh air and inner peace. I highly recommend that you go adventuring at least a little everyday. There is much-needed magic to be found out there. On any day that you can’t get out for a full adventure, at least just sit outside and breathe fresh air for awhile.
Spend time with the people you love: Be fully present with your family. Cuddle them. Listen to them. Ignore the house-cleaning. Plan to go beautiful places together on the weekends. Meet up with your friends in beautiful places. Connect with strong, positive people who make you laugh. Regularly. You will regret none of this.
Meditation: My mother-in-law recommended this book and meditation CD to me, and I recommend it to you: Prepare for Surgery, Heal Faster by Peggy Huddleston. I felt empowered about surgery and 100 times more calm after just reading the book. I really had not dabbled in mind-body practice before this, but I have been diligent about listening to the CD every morning and evening. I was given a second meditation CD, which I find to be a good complement to start mixing in to my routine, and ultimately I am merging their guiding messages. (Post-op update: I was uneasy at first about the affirmations page in the Huddleston book, as it just didn’t seem like “my thing.” In the end I did use them, and you can read about that in this post.)
All of these practices are playing significant roles in my mental health, and my mental health will play a significant role in my physical health. Had I not promptly implemented all of the above and regularly committed to maintaining a sense of peace, I know that I would likely implode before my surgery date.