Create The Future You Want

Create The Future You Want

How to step back from ‘we’ and into ‘ME’!

We’ve had plenty of time to reflect on life before the virus. Some things we have missed from the old life and other aspects you may just be ready to kick to the kerb.

I don’t know about you but I have appreciated dropping the hustle and I won’t be returning to that. I have come to appreciate that I shouldn’t wait to take annual leave to feel relaxed — that’s what the weekend is for! There will be no more working seven days a week.

 

I have officially dropped the hustle!

 

Whilst I see lots of social messaging about being positive, there are few who teach just how an individual can change their neural pattern and old patterns to truly embrace new mindsets.

Here are some tips I regularly share with my coaching clients.

 

To create the future you want, you must choose your words carefully.

 

Our dialogue is mighty powerful. The old saying that your thoughts become your actions is so true and I would add to this that your words become an action driver.

You are therefore what you think about. Hence I strongly recommend you need to be careful of every thought. 

Don’t bully or belittle yourself when you consciously catch the words in the air. Be kind and gentle with yourself as you commence this process.

Cancel Out Negative

Letting go of negativity from your mindset can feel a little intimidating when you first commence becoming consciously aware of wanting to make changes in your life.

Keep it simple and start the process of pulling yourself up on the negativity by stating “cancel that“. Then immediately reframe that negative comment into something positive. Don’t dally, don’t avoid, don’t procrastinate. Simply reframe to the exact opposite of the negative thing thought or spoken.

The more time you allow between the expression (thought or word), the more energy it collects to activate fulfilment. So get cracking!

By changing the word you change the intended action which follows. Do this often enough you change your behavioural pattern over time to a deeply positive connected self.

 

Be cautious about your conscious word within every conversation you have in relation to what is missing in your life. 

 

It’s one thing to have your inner dialogue be positive. But speaking negatively literally lowers your vibrational energy — your vibe goes low. That’s neither attractive to a friend, lover, child or employer. 

No one likes negative nancy.

Additionally what you focus your energy on is like being in a restaurant run by the universe. When you say something negative its like placing an order for a shit sandwich when you really want garlic prawns.

If you want to attract something grand and positive into your life, but you are talking and thinking about what is missing then you will continue to expand what is missing and attract more of it.

The universe I am sure has a wicked sense of humour. Our wishes thought, or spoken, are taken literally. So even stating “oh I hope this doesn’t happen”, is immediately translated into divine order and you add topping to the shit sandwich order!

Never talk about what is missing in your life.

 

Focus On Your Dream Life

 

Only ever focus on your dream life. Live with love as if you are already living the dream. The clearer you are on your dream, with minute details brought into focus, the more you are describing your order to the universe of exactly what you want.

For example, imagine that you enter your favourite restaurant. Your preferred chef is working and you know that each time they stick their head up from the kitchen window, and give a little wave of appreciation and gratitude with your smile. Why do you smile? Because you know, that chef knows, you only come to this restaurant for their prawns. It’s your absolute favourite and you moan like that movie “when Harry met Sally” every time you eat them.

Think now of how happy you are when you eat a gorgeous meal someone has prepared for you. And you have thirds, because seconds was even better than the first!

Do you see where I’m going with this? 

You imagine the colour of the fresh prawns. Imagine the aroma emanating from the steaming dish as it is brought to your table. Imagine the texture as you bite into the first mouthful and you begin to melt. God almighty I am hungry for prawns right now!

This is how you should think about your dream life. 

The miracle of the law of attraction is this — abundance flows when you allow gratitude to expand your heart space.

 

Only put your attention on what you intend and wish to create. 

 

Think again about the prawn dish. Just how different is it to your real life?

Never ask the Universe for money. Full Stop. Period. Nada.

Why? Because they will give you debt and bills first, then the money to pay for it. Your life won’t change in this circumstance or request.

But when you ask for something tangible, like the prawn dish, that’s when the miracles happen.

I find when it comes to attracting abundance into my life, I return to my dream of how and what I want my life to be. I then plan and do one new thing from all of the actions required to be living the dream, until it becomes second nature. Then I repeat that process, and continue repeating until one day I pinch myself because I am living the dream!

Ask and it is given — learn to manifest your desires through the practice of positive thinking. Again don’t ask for a car or your existing car will break down and you’ll be forced to get a new one. The universe can be cheeky bastards like that.

My last vehicle purchase I was very specific with details. I wanted to be able to open the door and slide into the seat, not step down or up into the vehicle. I wanted seat warmers, cup holders, storage, sunroof etc. I had a purpose and reason for every single feature of the vehicle.

Practice the idea of not putting your thoughts onto what is missing but focus on the positive as if it were already on its way.

Needless to say, I found my dream car for sale at the perfect price in less than a week!

 

Reflect on what you have enjoyed during COVID

 

There have been a number of advantages during COVID in terms of lifestyle and slowing down. Some have spring cleaned their homes. For me personally, I’ve spring cleaned my attitude and what I want out of life. 

Dropping the hustle has allowed me to embrace the simple things in life. That means I’m getting good at saying “yes” to me first and “I’ll get back to you” to everyone else. That’s a new habit that is here to stay.

 

Whatever you want to manifest in your life, focus on the positive. 

 

As you learn to harmonise in this way you elevate your thoughts as well as your vibrational energy to attract that which you want.

I live by the mantra that you can choose to change and bloom from within. Every experience in life is always another opportunity to learn and expand yourself.

As we re-enter COVID restrictions, consider the above ways to drop your hustle and get re-acquainted with yourself.

Karen Humphries, Change Chick, Change Facilitator, Kinesiology, Wellness Coach, Australian Bush Flower Essences, LEAP Facilitator, Trauma, Public Speaker, Cancer Ambassador, Blooming From Within, Traralgon, Victoria, Gippsland

About Karen

Change Facilitator

Karen Humphries is a Kinesiology Practitioner, Health & Business Coach, self-confessed laughaholic, and now Breast Cancer Advocate residing in Gippsland Victoria Australia. She loves being of service to the world with her humorous and positive approach to life, encouraging people to ‘choose to change and bloom from within.’ 

Expectations Are the Biggest Form of Self-Sabotage

Expectations Are the Biggest Form of Self-Sabotage

We often invest in daydreaming but aren’t really aware of what we are doing to ourselves when the dreams aren’t fulfilled.

We don’t realise the full impact of having an expectation until it’s not met. We often invest in daydreaming but aren’t really aware of what we are doing to ourselves when the dreams arent fulfilled.

Expectations are a funny thing. Defined as “a belief that something will happen or be the case,” they are often formulated from a mental energy-based ‘misperception.’ They can be linked with our ‘intention setting,’ but they aren’t always positive, and they’re often unrealistic.

When they are unreasonable for us, they can be downright destructive in terms of the thought processes we use to punish ourselves when we perceive we have failed.

This can be demonstrated when a couple learn that they are pregnant. The expectation is that pregnancy will be a magical glowing experience — go to the hospital and come home with a baby. Life will be amazing. And yes, we all want this as the outcome. However, it’s not always the case.

Some pregnancies don’t proceed after 12 weeks, some women feel nauseated the entire pregnancy, or lose their hair, or become incontinent, or get hemorrhoids, have horrific birth experiences. Some women even experience all of this. Some babies are stillborn. Some babies were expected to be boys and yet born girls.

Where the heck is the rosy picture of pregnancy then?

Isn’t it interesting, how quickly your brain went from pregnancy to expectation of seeing the mother hold the newborn? That’s how subtle an expectation can affect us.

The subliminal perceptions that are associated with outcomes are very interesting. While you want to go straight to an easy and nice outcome, there’s often no pausing by the brain to assess anything alternative.

It is this point that we establish an anchor point for negative perceptions and links to future failures.

Travis Bradberry talks about expectations in terms of goal setting and suggests it’s a good thing to have positive expectations when working towards your goals. I happen to disagree on one level in relation to this.

Why?

Because to focus on the expected outcome without making any connection to the emotional juice — your feelings — means that you’ll lose motivation, get mindset wobbles, and ultimately fall off the moving forward wagon.

Bradberry talks about the following unrealistic expectations that bring you undone, and I find myself often supporting clients within my clinical practice in defusing negative emotions associated with these:

  • Life should be fair
  • Opportunities should fall into my lap
  • Everyone should like me
  • People should agree with me
  • People should know what I am saying
  • I’m going to fail
  • Things will make me happy
  • I can change him/her

Christine Hassler has the right idea and looks at flipping expectation on its head so you turn potential negatives into positives with a couple of hot tips. I would add to the goal-setting process, that you take the time to actually understand your emotions which motivate you and drive you to want success.

For it is this understanding which will support you to pick yourself up from any future perception of failure and remind self of the ultimate goal — to feel happiness and joy.

After all, that’s what life is all about, isn’t it?

1. Have A Dream.

 Don’t get me wrong. It’s important to have dreams. We need something to drive our motivation and reason to live.

 Yet having a dream without a clear connection on how you will arrive at the change destination is a recipe for disaster.

For example, it’s great to set a goal to lose weight. But you don’t burn enough calories through worry or stress to drop the desired kilos. It requires actions such as smaller portion sizes, calorie counting perhaps, or even increased movement to achieve the results you want.

Having a dream enables you to manage how your dream life will feel when you are living. The trick is to make the dream fluid and flow, rather than write the script of exactly how things are to unfold.

2. Set Small Implementable Goals & Actions.

To be able to realise your dream to fruition, you need goals. In order to tick the goals off the list, it’s critical to identify small actions which you can easily implement and achieve.

Identifying small actions removes the negativity of expectation because you are forced to ask yourself during planning, whether you consider you can actually achieve what you are wanting to implement.

Making small easy wins in the first few days is critical for driving your motivation through the slightly harder tasks and maintain your willingness to continue when it gets tough.

3. Openly Communicate With Self & Others.

Open communication is an absolute must whereby you provide or seek clarification of what you are wanting to in your dream life. This means you need to be clear on what you think, say aloud, and not what you infer.

No one is a mind reader.

We don’t understand your individual thought process. I haven’t lived your life with your experiences and inherited patterns, therefore I can’t possibly understand or recognise your stress triggers unless you tell me. Even then, I’m only processing your needs in relation to your stress triggers, with my stuff filter on!

Furthermore, if you’re trying to communicate something specific in relation to what you desire, it often pays to link your emotional juice to validate the reason or purpose.

For example, if asking a colleague for a task to be done without specifying a deadline or reason for task sets everyone up for failure. Openly communicating exactly what the task is, when it’s due to be completed, and why it will support all parties to work collaboratively to achieve the goal.

It’s a bit like making an informal agreement so that everyone involved understands the part they play.

The same reasoning applies when communicating with yourself about living your intended dream life. You have to be honest within your internal dialogue. Check-in with yourself and audit the depth of positivity or negativity. If your internal dialogue is on the negative nancy side, you can attempt to use affirmations and positive intentions and get nowhere fast with a single negative thought.

You’ll quickly frustrate yourself that you’re not achieving and the resultant expectation will leave you feeling like you’re a failure.

4. Connect To Your Emotional Juice.

This concept can be expanded further to our own goal-setting process. As a Wellness Coach, I work with clients to focus on creating goals to work towards living their dream life.

Whilst we set goals, we place our focus on the new habit that needs to be created to embrace the feeling, the emotional juice, of that dream life. Hassel refers to this as ‘secret sauce’ and I believe she’s onto something there!

When we create goals, part of the learning experience is that we experience mindset wobbles. It’s a bit like the universe subliminally asking us “are you sure this is what you want?

When the motivation waivers, I encourage clients to return to my notes on “what do I want to feel,” which associated with their goal.

Asking yourself these simple questions then enables you to dissociate from the negative perception of failure and focus on the positive outcomes. When coaching, I often find identifying weaknesses (or as I like to call them opportunities for growth) the most powerful exercise of goal setting we can undertake.

Asking the following questions prompts our logical thinking to find solutions outside of the box, find evidence of previous success (ie what has worked before), and how we can change in the future.

  • What did I learn?
  • How can I leverage this learning to achieve my next goal?
  • How can I behave differently in the future?
  • And based on what I learned, what agreement can I make to myself or someone else regarding future goals?

Through identifying the challenges (ie weaknesses), you have the conscious opportunity to circumvent the expectation of failure by actively reframing and planning to succeed through connection with all your good juju.

5. Validation

Seeking validation that you have been understood during communication ensures that all parties are on the same page. Sometimes, this communication helps you to remain very clear on what it is exactly that you want.

As we undertake work towards achieving the goal, sometimes it changes and we receive unexpected bonuses. Validating your emotional juice, your feelings in relation to life is a fantastic opportunity to clarify — yes I’m on the right path.

Validating your feelings enables you to maintain connections between your emotional brain and gut reaction — ie open heart space. Validation of our feelings reduces expectations because we remain connected to that inner knowing, and allow ourselves to be guided through the change obstacle course.

It’s when we disconnect from feelings during the reaction that those Negative Nancy monkey chatter patterns kick in and we misperceive what’s going on around us.

6. High involvement in actions, low attachment to the outcome.

Hassel refers to this as an expectation hangover, and I completely agree. As we walk our path, it’s vital to focus on how good we are feeling at moving forward on our journey, the lessons we are learning, and our growth.

If we focus on outcomes like acquiring stuff, more money, etc then there is no internal satisfaction and we crave more external to validate our internal sense of self-worth.

Sometimes just having clarity in the small steps forward that we take can alter our perception of the journey we walk.

So take action — and plenty of it.


Connecting with how the action makes you feel as you migrate towards your ideal life. It’s this continuous investment into your happiness account by acknowledging your feel-good moments that motivates you to do more, rather than focus on the outcome.

Disconnection from how you feel whilst taking action boosts mental energy for you to attach to expectations. It’s here you lose access to being able to go with the flow.

7. Own Your Beliefs and Values.

Understand and recognize that your values and beliefs are yours — they don’t belong to others.

We are all different and unique — thank goodness or the world would be a boring space! With that said, it’s impossible to expect others to share your exact beliefs and values.

Why? Because they don’t wear your underpants. They don’t walk in your shoes. They don’t have your environmental experiences or genetic inheritance patterns. They aren’t you.

So remember this when in a moment of misperception or misunderstanding of a situation (this can cause conflict). Take a breath and if necessary utilise the coaching questions:

  1. Am I in control of the situation?
  2. Can I shelf my feelings until later?
  3. Can I choose to change my perception?

Asking these questions enables you to step out of expectation by consciously connecting to your emotional juju and letting go.

8. Gain a Different Perspective.

Journalling or debriefing (or even Kinesiology and Wellness Coaching) with a person of trust can support you to gain a true perception of reality. Talking or writing about scenarios supports you to defuse the negative emotion which has arisen.

As the expression commences, this enables you to step out and perceive different viewpoints of the fishbowl of life.

When we step out of the intensity we can then grant ourselves the opportunity to understand what might be a motivational factor for another party. We may be able to gain some understanding of how they might process or react to a situation.

Stepping out of expectation is a gift because you gain clarity on how you feel. As a bonus, you also can gain insight from how another party may experience a situation.

9. Accept What Is.

I had a client recently who had become so disillusioned with her partner that she declared she would stop talking to them because she felt disrespected. Four months later a conversation had still not eventuated and she was left heartbroken, angry, sad, and confused. I know, four months is an incredibly long time to share space but not words!

Imagine how your body feels when you stuff those unexpressed emotions into it? Pain. Discomfort. Now imagine how much energy you utilise to not express out all the emotional juice! It’s exhausting!

The unwanted negative thoughts of shoulda, woulda, coulda all start to form a merry-go-round inside your head and your ability to perceive reality becomes tainted with reality. Sometimes you need to take a breath, step back one pace and own this place you’re in.

Acceptance of situations is the first step towards climbing out of the hole. When you can acknowledge a situation, thought, or feeling on a conscious level, you can then engage your logic brain to find a better solution and change.

Sometimes acceptance of a situation, no matter how sloppy the sh*t sandwich tennis match has become, is the first step to telling yourself “why am I choosing to maintain this?” Acceptance also creates a positive space for you to entertain gratitude.

As Shakespeare says, “Expectation is the root of all heartache.” It sets us up for disappointment, heartache, and a perception of failure because we don’t achieve our desired outcomes. Is it time to take a breath, step out of a current negative situation, and assess your thoughts, feelings?

Is it time to communicate your needs openly, and include a reference to your feelings?

Is it time to consider how the other party might be feeling so you can understand and adapt your feelings and responses?

Is it time to stop punishing yourself with shoulda, woulda, coulda thought patterns, and adapt I am willing to learn to change?

10. Manage Disappointment.

It’s a rare thing to immediately achieve a goal. And if you did, well done. Perhaps you need to stretch yourself a little further now.

Just like learning to walk as an infant, it’s rare that we stand from lying flat on our backs. We need to develop muscles in order to roll, sit up on our own, then crawl, walk, and eventually run. This is why breaking down the obstacles to achieving the dream are so critical.

Managing your disappointment when you don’t achieve what you really want is also vital. You need to remain open enough that you can reflect on any lessons learned along the way as you perfect the practice. Additionally, congratulate yourself on maintaining effort and continuing at all.

The trick with disappointment, like trying to quit smoking is to celebrate what you did achieve and start again. Implement strategies to avoid the obstacles you observed got in the way. Seek support if you can’t see the strategy and have someone guide you over the hurdle.

References:

Bradberry, Travis. (2016, January) “8 Unrealistic Expectations That Hold You Back”.
Hassler, Christine (2015, February) “Tips To Avoid An Expectation Hangover” Success.

Karen Humphries, Change Chick, Change Facilitator, Kinesiology, Wellness Coach, Australian Bush Flower Essences, LEAP Facilitator, Trauma, Public Speaker, Cancer Ambassador, Blooming From Within, Traralgon, Victoria, Gippsland

About Karen

Change Facilitator

Karen Humphries is a Kinesiology Practitioner, Health & Business Coach, self-confessed laughaholic, and now Breast Cancer Advocate residing in Gippsland Victoria Australia. She loves being of service to the world with her humorous and positive approach to life, encouraging people to ‘choose to change and bloom from within.’ 

A Date With An Oncologist

A Date With An Oncologist

Embracing the dreaded Big C and getting on with life

I recall the first official appointment with my oncologist. That was one of the more significant and stand out days for me in this cancer chapter. That was the day when I really lost my shit and could no longer stuff the overwhelming emotions inside. 

Up until this point, I had been brave, courageous and overwhelmingly positive. I had a kick-arse attitude which prompted me through surgical recovery. But I had a lingering fear of that impending oncology appointment.

If I am, to be honest, I was shit scared. I don’t admit that much, mostly because I’ve got a set of hairy balls and nothing much generally phases me. This appointment certainly did.

The oncology waiting room was filled with beautiful women … who were all bald or had their noggings covered in peach fuzz. I remember as clear as day, bright lipstick, colourful clothes, laughter and bald heads.

Here I sat with a head full of luscious thick hair listening to them banter and laugh amongst each other with sunshine reflecting off their shiny scalps. Feeling totally out of place and terrified of the unknown and unexpected. My need for control lurching full steam ahead.

I don’t often feel left out but I did that day. This wasn’t a group I wanted to join. I had made a surgical decision to avoid adjunct therapy, and yet pathology results forced the decision and this impending and subsequent appointment. 

What had originally been estimated to be only ductal carcinoma, revealed a high-grade hormone receptive invasive tumour amongst the tissue. Hidden from both mammogram and MRI, I am grateful to have made the surgical decision of mastectomy in hindsight. 

 

Spirit had spoken loudly and guided. I listened intently.

 

My feelings must have been all over my face sitting in that rambunctious waiting room. Several of those gorgeous women gave me winks or a reassuring smile. I just wanted to crawl up my own backside and hide from the reality of being there in the first place.

That was the day my cancer diagnosis had become very real. Even though I’d had significant life saving (and altering) surgery, that was one of the days I reaffirmed what strength really is. It’s so much more than a brave face or being humorous or positive.

That was a day to make a choice to bloom from within or wallow and throw a pity party for one. That was a day to embrace the moment and dig deep into the warrior woman amazon archives.

Cancer forced me to show my belly. I had no choice but to allow myself to be vulnerable. Needless to say, I cried as soon as I entered the oncology liaison nurse’s room, for I could no longer contain the burbling volcanic emotions. Honestly? I completely and utterly lost my shit and sobbed.

That appointment permitted me to allow myself to connect to the cesspool of emotions, and then word vomit out all my feelings when the oncology liaison nurse asked: “so how are you really going?”.

Through the streaming tears, that oncology nurse somehow made sense of my babble. She checked my post-surgical wounds, even though that’s not her job. She quickly ascertained that I’m a bit of a control freak, and required information to improve my failing self-management of the anxiety that afternoon.

What felt like half a tissue box later and a discussion of my allergies (and there’s a list) I met with the oncologist. He listened. He smiled. He reassured. We talked biochemistry of the cancer pathology results. I got the sense that not many patients enter his rooms and can talk shop like a colleague.

We conducted a tour of the oncology ward so I could familiarise myself with staff, the protocols and the process. I had chosen the ‘cap cooling option’ during my chemotherapy treatment. 

Imagine a cap with flowing water, connected to a refrigerant machine and your head freezing. Literally your scalp and wet hair are taken down to minus two degrees. To tolerate this you’re given a couple of pain relievers and a ‘relaxant’ and smothered in pre-warmed blankets. 

Create a picture in your mind of a goofy dog emerging out of anaesthesia, doped to the hilt, snuggled in a blankie, arm cannulated, with drool dripping down my chin. Glamourous, nowhere close. Life-saving, yes. Well that was what I became once treatment started!

You think chemotherapy and your automatic response is bald, vomiting hot mess. Right? I am grateful that my treatment and side effects were different.

Fatigued? Of course but this wasn’t all the time. My treatment hit me three days after administration and I’d be down for two or three days then bounce back.

Neuropathy? (That’s pins and needles, numbness, even burning sensations in the extremities of fingers, hands, toes and feet). Still experiencing those symptoms four months down the track. WHilst I have exceptionally good pain medications, they leave me with a hangover. So I feel very grateful that my naturopath had some goodies in her toolbox to combat this.

Chemo brain? Say what? Of course. Delighted to report the IQ and memory recall are returning. So if you know me and see me down the street, tell me your name cause that filing cabinet is still a little jammed and my recall of face to the name is a bit wonky!

Proprioception? I know I can already hear you squealing “what does that mean?”. It is simply a fancy word which references our perception or awareness of the position and movement of the body. When you receive chemotherapy treatment the neural pathways can be affected. 

You can walk like a drunk, trip over a piece of paper and slur your words a little. You may have trouble with balance or even holding things like a cup or phone.

Digestion? The discussion of monkey bum is always an entertaining one. No one wants to be asked how their bowel movements are! Gosh, I feel for the nurses! Since the adjuvant treatment does affect epithelial cell lining (mucosal membranes so everywhere from mouth to butt hole – charming isn’t it??!!) patients can experience symptoms of constipation and or diarrhoea. Either way, your butt gets red like the baboon at the zoo — hence the reference to monkey bum was born!

The extreme of this is swelling and splitting of other sensitive areas like inside the mouth, nose, vagina or anus. I used powdered glutamine in my daily smoothie to keep my pink bits happy. You can grab it over the counter at any chemist or bodybuilding shop as it’s marketed as a post-exercise supplement. Chemo definitely gives you a workout!

Hair? Society has this misperception that chemotherapy will automatically mean your hair falls out. And it does, in hand fulls. However, with the aid of scalp cooling, I kept a lot of hair on my head. That said, it’s still sparse (for me) and my head is cold so I wear turbans and caps to keep myself warm!

My eyebrows and eyelashes thinned out drastically but I never lost them completely. The peach fuzz hair on my face disappeared, as did the hair on my forearms and patches on my legs. 

But guess which hairs returned first? The witchy poo rogue hair on my chinny chin chin was the first to return after the chemo rave party, and brought seventeen mates with him! Bastards! It’s like I’m growing a pubescent boys beard!!

It’s nuts how the body responds to being bombarded with poison!

Due to hair loss, because they are the most fragile and easily replaced cells of the body, you get nose bleeds and sniffly nose. This is the body’s natural response to flushing the exposed cells where hair normally captures foreign bodies.

Nails? Yep if you’re lucky you keep them as they tear easily. Others experience their nails lifting off, an extremely painful experience. Some experience fungal infections as the nail bed becomes exposed and their immune system is working overtime.

Pain? Chemotherapy targets white bone marrow so you can experience deeply seated bone pain. I found topical magnesium massaged into my legs enabled me to continue walking. On the bad days, I would also resort to low dose pain medication to take the edge off. On the really bad days, I befriended the couch and Netflix and tried to sleep it off knowing it would pass.

It’s vital to be able to listen to what your body is saying. Receiving chemo, or magic medicine as I now refer to it, doesn’t discriminate and affects everyone a little differently.

Fingerprints? I know how weird is this, but the fingerprint lines disappear during chemo. I definitely struggled turning pages of books, picking up objects and getting good grip on the steering wheel. 

Sleep? Luckily, chemo pushes the hormonal balance out and you commence menopause symptoms. It’s a barrel of laughs being hot and sweaty one minute, then freezing cold the next. Interference with sleep due to such power surges and or pain is common. Reduction in sleep can lower one’s tolerance for being able to cope and reduce your resilience.

Mindset? When you combine pain, sleep deprivation, and fluctuating hormones, your emotional mindset is significantly challenged. Even the most positive Percy’s can be easily reduced to tears on a bad day. There are moments you can cry rivers, and the next nearly wet your pants laughing.

Sanity? For me, it was healthy to maintain daily walks and meditation. I journaled a lot.

Support? My support network was jam-packed with inspiring positive people who lift me up. They recognised the days when I was low and gave me lots of space to rest. These were the people that didn’t treat me differently. They just hugged and kissed me, sometimes laid on the bed with me. Others walked beside me. Some even helped me shower or brush my hair.

There was a common theme amongst my support posse. I maintained a private messenger group where I could update my gang once. I didn’t have to continue repeating news — good or bad. There was often dialogue. There were celebrations for the small wins, and expletives issued when the news was bad. Links were shared when the technical stuff got too difficult or tiring to explain.

 

In this space, there was only ever love expressed and received, and for that, I will be eternally grateful to this group.

 

This group of wonderful people never asked for the updates, for me that was the worst thing you could do. Why would you want me to relive and re-experience all the crap all over again?

The key thing I have been routinely asked is “how are you?”. There are times this drives me crazy because I am sick to death of repeating the same cancer story. I am sick to death of talking or even thinking about it. Why? Because I’m the one living and growing from this experience.

So next time you see a mate who’s undergoing chemotherapy, simply ask them “is today a good day?” and adjust your conversation and action accordingly. Ask them if it’s ok to hug them. Ask if they’d like a hand or foot massage. Book an exercise date with them. Ask how their skin is holding up and offer them some moo goo cream or liquid silica!

Do some research on their disease and treatment so that when you are talking you will understand and not ask unnecessary questions that force them to repeat difficult to digest news or information.

Ask your mate whether they would like to be accompanied to an appointment. Having a fresh face rather than your partner is a lovely distraction. It gives your family a break and some downtime and it gives the patient a new person to talk to.

Ask what sort of meal they want to be cooked. Don’t simply make the offer of a meal because most people will reject that. When I offer meals, I provide the recipient with a choice of meal A or B, because I know the value of sitting down to a meal without having wasted my precious energy to prepare it. 

I take myself to and from oncology appointments, and the last thing I want to do after travelling a couple of hours each way is to cook a meal when I get home. So when someone offers to cook I thank the angels and say “yes please, that would be fabulous and such a big help”!

 


 

These days, I waltz into the oncology ward. I know everyone by name. The staff are like a second family. Some of the patients have become ‘magic juice’ mates. There is laughter amongst the shiny heads. I’m part of that banter now.

I see beyond the bald scalp. I see the beauty within those undergoing treatment. I see the compassion within the staff. I see life as a gift from my own eyes, and cancer has changed me. It’s changed me into a different person. One who values every second as a gift.

I have come to accept that the adjuvant treatments are life-saving on so many levels, they are my magic juice! The key to shifting my mindset was to confront my fears about the treatment itself and to hug the gift of cancer.

I talk openly about this chapter of my life because there is so much stigma associated with someone doing battle with the drug regime. Acceptance of the actual disease is a whole new story!

Karen Humphries, Change Chick, Change Facilitator, Kinesiology, Wellness Coach, Australian Bush Flower Essences, LEAP Facilitator, Trauma, Public Speaker, Cancer Ambassador, Blooming From Within, Traralgon, Victoria, Gippsland

About Karen

Change Facilitator

Karen Humphries is a Kinesiology Practitioner, Health & Business Coach, self-confessed laughaholic, and now Breast Cancer Advocate residing in Gippsland Victoria Australia. She loves being of service to the world with her humorous and positive approach to life, encouraging people to ‘choose to change and bloom from within.’ 

What Does It Mean To Have Strength?

What Does It Mean To Have Strength?

Embracing ‘character traits’ to move you purposely forward in life.

I was told the other day that I was an inspiration to someone and how I shared the steps I was encountering within my current breast cancer chapter. At the time it was quite hard to accept, let alone swallow. I’ve worked through that now. I was somewhat embarrassed and yet at the same time very humbled. Now I realise that I am sharing my strength by showing others how to continue with life, no matter what adversity pops onto my path.

I am after all more than just a cancer experience. I am still the same cheeky gal I was before. I just have an enormous collection of titty jokes now and perky motorboat worthy boobies!

 

I decided early on to share snippets of my story. It’s therapeutic to get stuff off my chest (ahem pun intended). Additionally, it’s educational to share bits and pieces. Because let’s face it, you truly have no idea of how intense and confronting cancer is until you experience it yourself.

This cancer chapter has gifted me the awareness that I continue to live a life whereby I make decisions for me, and not invest in the opinion of others. Someone else’s opinion of me is their business. I just get on with life and what challenges are thrown at me.

Prior to my diagnosis, I was relatively intimate with my social media audience. I shared parts of my life and this made me relatable to my audience. I was goofy, funny, serious, and I rarely showed my belly — the vulnerability that we all experience. We all have stuff.

When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, it felt normal to share various experiences with my existing business audience. After all, I’d been inviting them to be positive and find the way out of their darkness, what better opportunity than having cancer could I be provided to demonstrate how I remained positive throughout this shit festival?

I never realised the depth or importance of sharing a cancer journey. I’m still stunned that in society today, whilst we have clothing which declares loud and proud “I’m a wellness warrior”, people don’t want to see it or talk openly about it. 

I have now witnessed firsthand there an expectation by some that you should leave the nasty cancer conversation in the closet. And worse, there’s a societal expectation that we don’t show anyone your belly, your vulnerability. 

There is an expectation that you be brave, that you fight. I stunned everyone when I said “stop, there will be no fighting”. I have chosen instead to embrace the experience, for it is part of me.

You don’t go out when you feel sick. You don’t show people you feel like crap. You certainly don’t show your bald head out in public because it is the ultimate reflective reminder to those who pay witness to you that they fear being diagnosed themselves. 

What you don’t see is the strength beyond the shining scalp, is the energy it took to put on clothes, the effort to navigate getting in and out of the in the car, because there is still post-surgical pain. And you whiz past the shuffling bald eagle in the aisles supermarket. 

You have no idea how challenging it can be just to do the basic life stuff. And yet the bald eagles continue one step in front of the other. They are living the experience, there is no fight, only a willingness to embrace that moment right then and there. Because everything else can wait.

The future, whilst it matters, isn’t right now. It’s still coming. It’s right now that has to be embraced, not rushed through, or ticked off a list. Stop wasting the opportunities that are being gifted to you.

I want to call bullshit on the whole stigma. Wellness, sick, healthy, unfit. God forbid I dare say this, black or white, we are all still human. Yet, we are scared to observe all aspects of human conditioning. Society dictates a certain depth of fear of being unwell or not perfect, or having the right coloured skin.

Within my cancer chapter, I’ve learnt many things about myself. 

Firstly I have reinforced that we all have stuff. You get to choose to work through it or fester.

It takes character to take a stand and decide you want to live rather than exist. Whilst you can fight, I’ve chosen to actively embrace my chapter and all aspects of life. My journey is so much more than the cancer chapter, and I treat it accordingly. 

 

Cancer is a motivator for sure but it doesn’t define who I am.

 

It takes character to:

  • stand beside your friend as her hair falls out;
  • to cry with your friend as the surgeon draws all over her body in preparation for surgery;
  • to look at your friend’s scars and tell her “I love you anyway” or “nice tits”;
  • to not look at your friend with pity in your eyes, continuing to able to see the same person as before diagnosis; 
  • be the girl experiencing all this and continuing life regardless of the diagnosis.

 

Reference to one’s character refers to our personality, ideals, and associated behaviours. As we explore a person’s traits, we can acknowledge that their “strength of character” can be associated with the confidence to be confronted. I liken this to growing some balls in order to face your stuff!

Strength of character also includes the self-assuredness to know what you need (which makes reference back to what is important to you), and the ability to use or seek tools to identify and implement a resolution.

Social science’s groundbreaking research in the early 2000s, identified a common language of 24 character strengths to create our personality. According to VIACharacter’s article, “everyone possesses all 24 character strengths in different degrees, so each person has a truly unique character strengths profile.”

VIA Character documents these character strengths to include:

1. Appreciation of beauty and excellence — to recognise and appreciate skills and excellence around you.

2. Bravery — act on convictions despite doubts and fears.

3. Creativity — coming up with ideas that result in worthwhile outcomes.

4. Curiosity — seek out situations to gain new experiences without getting in my own, or other’s way.

5. Fairness — treat everyone equally and fairly applying the same rules

6. Forgiveness — forgiving others when they upset me and using that knowledge to respond appropriately in future dealings.

7. Gratitude — I am grateful for many things and express this openly and warmly to others.

8. Honesty — I am honest with self and take responsibility for my actions.

9. Hope — I am realistic and optimistic for the future believing things will turn out well.

10. Humility — I see my strengths and talents but don’t need them externally acknowledged.

11. Humour — I approach life playfully and use humour in difficult or stressful times.

12. Judgement — I weigh all aspects objectively in decision making

13. Kindness — I am helpful and empathic, doing favours for others without expectation of return.

14. Leadership — I take charge and guide groups to meaningful goals and outcomes.

15. Love — I experience and maintain close relationships with giving and receiving with love, warmth and care.

16. Love of learning — motivated to acquire new skills.

17. Perseverance — persist towards goals regardless of challenges.

18. Perspective — use experience and knowledge to clarify the big picture.

19. Prudence — act carefully to avoid risks with the future in mind.

20. Self-regulation — manage feelings and actions.

21. Social intelligence — being aware of thoughts and feelings.

22. Spirituality — connection to purpose or meaning of life.

23. Teamwork — contributing to a team achieving its goals.

24. Zest — feeling vital and full of energy.

 


 

In my experience over the last six months, strength incorporates a lot of choices and nearly all of the characteristics of strength. I could have chosen to wallow and feel sorry for myself with my diagnosis. Absolutely for sure. Instead, I chose to embrace the experience and learn as much as possible about myself and life.

Whilst undergoing testing I had to draw upon my ‘spiritual’ wits to control myself while entrapped within machinery for over an hour. Later I worked through an array of ‘perspective’ layers in order to ‘forgive’ the technicians for the physical and emotional damage. I wrote a lot of letters during this phase.

 


 

Upon diagnosis and identification of treatment options, I chose to activate the ‘love of learning’, and asked a tonne of questions of the entire western medicine team. I compared notes with my alternative and complementary medicine colleagues. I read an extraordinary amount of scientific journals and reactivated my inner bucket chemist.

When it came to the first step, surgery, I needed to ‘self regulate’ in order to make an informed decision which had been also lovingly guided by spirit. I understood what I was committing to, the recovery phase and what that would entail. I journaled an extraordinary amount of stuff.

I took it another step and through my questioning, I understood that I had chosen an amazing team of professionals who were dedicated to their craft just as I was. I incorporated ‘prudence’ when I was diagnosed, silently asking Spirit through meditation, to guide me to the exact people who could not only help me but also be of service.

I still pinch myself that each of my team has exceptional bedside manners, and hold many of the qualities of strength of character. There are never too many questions for a control freak like myself. There is hand holding and life-affirming smiles when I am ‘brave’ enough to seek the reassurance. I am constantly reassured.

I needed to draw upon my strength to be able to trust these strangers and work as a member of the ‘team’ to reinstate my health. I needed strength to believe that Spirit had heard me and delivered what I needed at exactly the right time.

 


 

Bravery and courage can be defined as being able to act on your convictions (ie draw upon your beliefs, and I face threats, challenges, difficulties, and pains, despite my doubts and fears.

 


 

Working with my psychologist has had me fetal on the floor a couple of times and I was given a lot of homework. It takes ‘perseverance’ to continually show up to work on your stuff.

There were days and weeks that were so dark. I wondered what the future would hold in terms of health and employment.

 


 

I’ve extensively used ‘humor’ to get my friends, family and myself through this chapter. We have enough “itty bitty tittie” jokes now that I could do a national tour! What I learnt about this strength that it’s a choice to see and feel the lighter side.

 

I choose to change and bloom from within, cancer or not. Still here. Still laughing and still learning how to shine brightly.

Karen Humphries, Change Chick, Change Facilitator, Kinesiology, Wellness Coach, Australian Bush Flower Essences, LEAP Facilitator, Trauma, Public Speaker, Cancer Ambassador, Blooming From Within, Traralgon, Victoria, Gippsland

About Karen

Change Facilitator

Karen Humphries is a Kinesiology Practitioner, Health & Business Coach, self-confessed laughaholic, and now Breast Cancer Advocate residing in Gippsland Victoria Australia. She loves being of service to the world with her humorous and positive approach to life, encouraging people to ‘choose to change and bloom from within.’