How to find an imbalance in the daily grind

29th September 2015: Sydney, Australia

‘About a Boy’ is a British film starring Hugh Grant who plays a single man in his thirties who has enough wealth to sustain his lifestyle without the need for employment. Obviously, the story expands from this very extremely minute description of the film, however, the fact he is unemployed is crucial to the comparison about to be made with my life. Just to note, I am definitely not in the same financial position as the character.

An interesting point taken from the life of the character is the way he dissects his days. Each day consists of separate units forming a total number for the day. Clearly, a major difference to the typical day lived by many whereby the demands of a job/career/study provide the structure. Ok, just to be clear, another major difference is the fact that I wish to be working, however, am yet to be in a position whereby my health warrants a return to the workforce. So, basically, the only comparisons with the film are the fact we are both single men in our thirties, and separate our day into units.

I only started making the reference to units last week when telling a story to some friends, however, I see major benefits in applying the rule into my life. Admittedly, I do not have a rigid approach to each day, and would put an estimate of units in my day as totalling seven. For arguments sake, we can say a unit equals approximately an hour, or less if a task is demanding or stressful. I feel the concept may be more accessible if applied to my life, and will show how difficult or tough weeks can be balanced with positives to avoid becoming overly stressed. For instance, yesterday was very busy for my current life so I ensured a portion of my day in the afternoon was dedicated to simply hanging with a friend in the sun while we were chatting. I acknowledge it all may sound superficial, however, the social aspect of my life was not given sufficient attention after my initial surgery. Instead, all focus was directed internally, and consequently there was an impact on my social life and mental wellbeing. To others, I would recommend you think about the way time is spent throughout the week in an attempt to outline whether an existing imbalance needs to be focused upon 😄

 

Time for a retreat

5th August 2015: Hunter Valley, New South Wales, Australia

I am writing a brief entry from a farm approximately two hours north of Sydney. The 10 acreages is more reflective of a health retreat rather than a basic farm I imagine you first conjured in your mind. The main residence is beautifully designed, with each piece eclectically made by hand over the span of two decades. I feel very fortunate to have a friend who has allowed me and two others into the treasured jewel, the place his family call their home away from home. It seems it has been an ever evolving project whilst maintaining a degree of tranquility seemingly imprinted into the DNA of the structure. At present, there is no other place I would rather be. Constantly, my eyes alternate between discovering a unique design of the house and simply taking in the sprawling views of the property. It is actually unbelievable to be sitting adjacent to a fire, totally immobilised by the pain and restriction of the surgery whilst feelingcompletely disconnected from the stressors associated with life. In all honestly, I must say a hope is felt in the paradox existing between the distance felt with my experiences over the past month and how my circumstnaces will unfold over the coming years.

Recovery time from hospital

19th July 2015: Westmeed Hospital, Sydney, Australia

It seems a lot of the contributing stressors in regards to my admission in hospital have ceased whilst the pain is also lessening by the day. In addition, further positive results were obtained from the latest blood samples. Ultimately, meaning I am ready for the first burning procedure scheduled tomorrow. Personally, the unfolding events reinforce the strong belief I have in terms of my future prospects, and I honestly feel I will simlpy be able to reflect on this stage of my life in years to come. The increase in optimism has shifted my thinking towards the period of discharge, and in the first instance my focus will be to recommence gentle yoga once permitted. A change in location is also being considered, namely, a temporary move to Byron Bay to get a taste of the summer earlier than Sydney while also providing an overall environment conducive to my healing and recovery.

The recent dealings with the Australian Government surrounding my benefits has most definitely influenced the decision to temporary explore alternative domestic warmer locations to reside. I will not go into great depths about my recent dealings due to the refusal of allowing such negative emotions to further impact my wellbeing. A brief overview of events entails significant frustration at the inconsistent information received on numerous occasions, a stop of payments, and finally, notification of having the right to travel overseas removed till September 2016. It should be noted that the decision even excludes me from going overseas to seek health treatments to support my health and wellness. A point I strongly disagree, however, as noted, I will not allow such circumstances to negatively influence my outlook. Therefore, all thoughts about this will cease. Instead, I will begin planning for period after my discharge, including where I will live and what goals will be established to work on surpassing any previous levels of health, wellness and success achieved in my life.

We all want a timeframe, the question is though.. Are they actually harmful?

17th July 2015: Westmeed Hospital, Sydney, Australia

I believe I will now finally adhere to never focusing on timeframes in terms of my recovery. It was a point heard very early in my Cancer experience, and continually I have failed to apply the term within my life. Consequently, low periods surfaced when a timeframe was not met, and as a result it felt like the foundation of my belief system slightly crumbled with each disappointment. Numerous examples in regards to the topic of timeframes can be drawn upon, and recently, my time in hospital has reinforced the need to not think of timeframes.

I was meant to leave hospital on Saturday with all three procedures complete. I was then informed the departure date would be two days ago plus an additional admission was required, and now I won’t be out till Tuesday (at earliest). Although it is a small matter, it is another example of delays and possible disappointment. I was literally five minutes away from having the needed procedure that was the reason for keeping me here till Tuesday, and I was just informed the surgical team did not read the notes provided by the Endocrine team regarding the levels of Cortisol essential for the procedure. So, now it has been delayed till the appropriate levels are administered intravenously. Obviously, major differences exist between a slight delay and other more important areas in my life. Plus, I am possibly overreacting, however, it has again made me consider the very poignant point first exposed to at the beginning of my Cancer experience.

If our watches were truly accurate the only thing they would ever say is now

30th June 2015: Sydney, Australia

I have found the following quote extremely useful in helping find a place for my actions and behaviours over the weekend. I must also add, it makes me also appreciate this exact moment, and not be burdened by perceived past failings or potential future fears.

The quote was made by Damien Echols, a member of infamous ‘The Memphis Three’. Echols stated, “The thing I like most about time is that it’s not real. It’s all in the head. Sure, it’s a useful trick if you wanna meet someone at a specific place in the universe to have tea or coffee. But that’s all it is, a trick. There’s no such thing as the past, it exists only in the memory. There’s no such thing as the future, it exists only in our imagination. If our watches were truly accurate the only thing they would ever say is now”.

Why time makes me want to morph into a bear to hibernate till everything is finished..

12th May 2015: Sydney Australia

My Professor and I discussed several points, including all the details surrounding my upcoming trip. The other matter discussed was the expected period of time on the Chemotherapy, and it seems I have become victim to my own beliefs. I have advocated from the very beginning of all this that no timeframes would be established for when my treatment would stop. Admittedly, since hearing I would be on the medication for a whole another year deflated my mood. Yes, it is only a few months more, and seems essential so will be adhering to the planning. It has just made me down, angry and somewhat frustrated. I recognise this chain of thought is unhealthy and needs to change, especially considering the current fantasies running through my mind. I would never follow through with such actions, however, in being honest, I am inclined to numb myself with prescription drugs to fall into a deep sleep like a bear to hibernate till it is all finished. I can see perspective is required, particularly in how fortunate I am in many ways, it just hard to take that on board at times.

Belief: The essential point to survival

7th May 2015: Sydney, Australia

The approaching time away in Indonesia will see a change of climate, with daily temperatures approximately 30 degrees. A point, definitely eliciting a feeling of happiness when considering I will miss most most of the winter here in Sydney. Interestingly, it seems my infatuation with the need for more sunshine stemmed from the fairly lengthy spell in the UK, and it it possibly intensified by reading about the benefits of receiving a regular dose of natural Vitamin D. In addition, the fact of me currently not working results in having more time to pay attention to the environment around me. Therefore, noticeable difference in aspects of the environment, including the amount of sunshine are observed.

Another factor associated with not currently working relates to the current pace of time, and although I am happy, content and attempting to cherish the present. I would lying if I didn’t feel excitement about the prospect of heading to Indonesia, coming off my medication or commence working again. Always whilst on the topic of timeframes, a specific reference comes to mind. It was made by a holocaust survivor whom stated that his life today resulted from a belief of being ok, however, never allowing hope in regards to certain timeframes of a release to be the focus of his thoughts. The person in discussion saw others firmly focused on being released at certain times, and consequently became further deflated and even lead to death upon discovering their time in Auschwitz would not come to their desired end date. Interestingly, the words will remain with me forever, yet, I am unable to implement the advice into my own life.

How we experience loss, and does a sense of loss dissipate overtime becoming the new normal?

27th December 2014: Sydney

Christmas is behind us till next year. An overview would show a fabulous time was had with lots of laughs by the entire family with a playfulness between my dad and two brothers reminiscing my early adolescence. The two days are clear examples of the obscurity in my thinking, namely, due to emphasis in my thinking about what was missing over the period compared to previous years whilst also being able to state the additions enjoyed. Consequently, the mixture of feelings demonstrate how simultaneously I am placed in a position of joy whilst also feeling a degree of loss or difference.

Various examples could be drawn upon throughout the Christmas period to further explain this thought process, however, attention to the broad term term of lifestyle will provide a platform for discussion. The aspects associated with lifestyle include alcohol consumption, energy levels and participation in family activity. Topics not dissimilar to content covered in previous entries. In some ways, a really pleasant feeling was experienced upon waking up without the effects of alcohol being present. The same could be said of the ease I felt at just enjoying the company of my family whilst not having the need to share a drink with any of my family members. In contrast, a level connection seems to emerge from the social context whereby alcohol is enjoyed with others. Therefore, it was hard not to notice the difference that occurred in my social interactions, eliciting a sense of loss or disengagement from the environment so familiar to me.

The main point from all these thoughts is when, or better yet will I ever again live out my past days, and if the time comes when I am not on chemotherapy nor feeling fatigued, will I return to my past behaviours or will have the shifts become permanent that no longer any loss is experienced?

How a garden can draw similarities to Cancer

21st November 2014: Sydney, Australia

I took a picture of my garden exactly three weeks ago before any plants were grown, and now after three weeks, most if not all vegetables and herbs have rapidly grown. Admittedly, the bean sprouts were the only actual item grown from seeds, with the remaining being tiny seedlings. The point made, is the entirety of the patch currently thriving. It is no surprise. The soil had been proven to a past success, ample exposure from the sun is on offer and the levels of water have been changed according to the heat, i.e. more water on days when temperature reaches thirty degrees. In addition, the chicken wire has so far withheld an anticipated invasion from the many creatures in the area, particularly the possums who are thought to be salivating at the prospect of seeing a new garden patch appear on the street.

I understand the entries may have slightly digressed over the past few days, and from the very onset it was established no set structure would govern the writing, however, just writing about a garden over three weeks seems a tad off topic right? Opinions may differ, some may draw on the supposed therapeutic benefits of having a garden. Benefits including, the accomplishment in seeing the growth of the herbs and vegetables into edible items; the sense of purpose obtained in maintaining the garden; the connection with nature, and the structure provided into your daily routine. I agree with all the above points, and could easily write specifically about the garden, especially the matter of maintenance, a factor seemingly not given sufficient attention in the planning and preparation stage. One point I failed to fully consider was the comparable growth of weeds with the vegetables and herbs.

On a personal level, the process with the garden has brought about similarities to my experience with Cancer, particularly, with attention on the attention placed on planning, however, my narrowed focused resulting in me overlooking an essential and blatant point of the whole process. Maintenance!
One would expect a person with any intention of starting a garden would be considering maintenance, and in some ways this had been a feature of my thinking. Again though, a narrowed vision lead me to solely focus on my priority of making the garden organic by not using pesticides. Ultimately, this limited my thinking about the importance of weeding. Hence, the similarities drawn with my Cancer experience. I definitely had a plan, vision and priorities established from the beginning, yet, the matter of longterm maintenance was not given equal thought. Yes, I had a belief in my approach being sustainable overtime, and a belief is of course a necessity. The question I ask myself though, is how strong will that belief remain overtime and whether if indeed it is sustainable, especially when the needs of focusing on my health slide from the top of my priorities list. I acknowledge the early stages of my Cancer experience are currently being endured, and I could easily be criticised for making such remarks at such a novel stage within my longterm journey. I think the likely unfolding scenario is bound to happen whereby family, work, financial commitments and an array other life stressors will raise in priority as time passes. Undoubtedly, there will always be a place for Cancer in my life, however, I do not foresee it not holding the same significance overtime. In saying that implicitly draws attention back to the matter of maintenance, especially when introducing the topic and relevance of complacency.

I recognise a slight change in approach (i.e. less attention on certain areas) already after 11 months, leading me feel further changes are bound to occur. I would like to think the changes have resulted from deploying the very strategies I propose in my Sunflower Framework, however, there have been times, very recently where I had to think about what is important to be implementing for my wellbeing and what is missing compared to what was featuring in my life during the periods of March or April of this year. Is that not a clear example of complacency creeping into my life? Particularly after 11 months! I am not at all suggesting, a direct focus on Cancer needs to be present for the entirety of your life as this could be counterproductive. I am reinforcing my belief about a place needing to be made for Cancer, inclusive of markings ingrained into your life to ensure you are making health promoting decisions throughout the entirety of your life. To conclude, I do not see this in a negative manner or in some ways a reflection of living a life in fear. In contrast, the promotion of general well-being and healthy living, a point I believe should remain consistent throughout all our lives, regardless of living through Cancer or not.