A NEW YEAR POST CANCER: THE ART OF SPOON MANAGEMENT

I went to see my beautician last week, the wonderful Nora who has cut and colored my hair for almost 10 years.  I asked her to do something that absolutely irritated her.  I asked her to cut my hair very, very short.

At first, she didn’t understand why a “bob” cut wasn’t going to be enough. Finally I defaulted to an analogy that a friend of a friend had used before to illustrate how she has to handle her energy management.

“Let’s say I have ten spoons of energy a day,” I told her as she tried to reason with me that short hair was not going to…cut it…so to speak.  “My meds take 3-4 spoons of energy away a day. That leaves me 6-7 spoons of energy to get dressed, work, cook, clean, run errands, and try to get out and do something once in a while.”

I could see she had begun to understand when I said, “I need one of the spoons back from my hair. Don’t make me cut this myself.”

I’d finally convinced her I needed my hair to be wash & go and that short was truly the only way to accomplish this task.  Honestly, I think Nora thought I would be unhappy when she finished and that’s the reason she didn’t want to cut my hair.  I felt desperate for this haircut and was thrilled for the results.  My hair is short, wash and go, and it looks great.  I knew Nora would come through.  She’s too talented to give me a haircut, no matter what length, and have me walk out unhappy. Has never happened. 

I had an overwhelmingly positive response to my hair, which reinforced my drive to get my energy management under control.  I know many people worse off than I am in this department, who charge through what they have to and fall exhausted into bed every night. Anything frivolous and extra just doesn’t happen often, or at all. 

I’ve spent the week thinking about my spoon (energy) management.  I know I can do this.  Prioritizing is essential if I hope to pursue more photography and other creative pursuits.  I want to challenge myself to a photo a week in 2012 to build my portfolio and my skills.  To do this, I have to save some of my spoons and choose not to do other things.  It’s difficult, at times, to make those choices, but choose I must.

Everything boils down to this: I have to accept what is, and make the most of what is. If anything 2011 taught me that if God chooses, he can take me in an instant, and I wouldn’t have to worry about any of this anyway.  God also taught me in 2011 that, though cancer is a complete game changer, it does not mean that the game is over, or that I still can’t accomplish what I dream to accomplish.

All that’s changed is that I have to manage my spoons better to get the results I want.

I don’t make New Year’s resolutions often, simply because I choose goals that are based on feelings or superficial notions.  I have decided to choose to pursue actual obtainable goals in 2012.  I need to be able to check things off the list and make everything I’ve been through this year seem a distant memory.

In 2012 I will:

* keep myself open to new adventures and manage my spoons to maximize the adventure

* learn as much as possible about photography and editing and not buy any new equipment (deals are off if I get to B&H this year)

* read more, for pleasure and business

* do what I need to do so that breast cancer does not return so I don’t have to go through this again (and this includes many things, like make friends with Tamoxifen, which has had another side effect manifest itself this week!)

I think four goals is enough right now (making friends with Tamoxifen may have to be a goal in itself).  I think that may use all the spoons I can find.  What ultimately needs to happen is that just having four goals and utilizing spoon management and accepting my new reality has to be okay.  I think that may be my biggest adversary – my mind.

My mind is still here, still relatively sharp, still active. It’s the body that can’t keep up right now.  In order to move forward I have to work harder to do it, plan better, manage my spoons better.  I will accomplish quite a bit if I can do these things.

Welcome, 2012. I am going to learn to manage my spoons and maybe even learn to play them to make beautiful music while I’m at it.

 

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