Each month this year in our Monthly Message email, we’re sharing a writing prompt with our readers. This month’s prompt had to do with spring cleaning - not just your house, but maybe your life, too! We sometimes select an entry to appear here on our blog, and each month we will also draw a random entry to win a $20 Amazon gift card! If you don’t receive our Monthly Message program news email and you’d like to sign up for it, visit our website hereforthegirls.org and scroll to the bottom. Below is one entry we selected from this month.
Let me tell you that cleaning isn't just for the spring time. In fact, if you unfortunately succumb to pollen allergies, the addition of settled dust and potentially other smelly/icky/old remnants of seasons' past just kill you off in a snot-nosed, stuffy-headed fashion during the cleaning spell. Not the most sexy of looks for a lady who may gain a feverish itch to rejuvenate and refresh the mind and eyes for the upcoming summer.
My "spring cleaning" of my life actually happened around the start of summer in 2016. I had recently been diagnosed Stage II breast cancer going right into Memorial Day weekend that year. Yay. The stages of grief descended upon me while I first struggled to come to terms with my life direction. What's going to happen to me? Why are people sending me flowers like condolences? I felt like I was dying. The dark of the nights were sometimes the scariest, with my thoughts plunging to very deep and lonely places. I was alone in my head.
Once I eventually had gone through a barrage of tests, exams, and a litany of appointments with my supposed team of doctors, then focused on my decision to handle my cancer via surgery in July of that year, my mind was calm and resolute. I was able to prioritize my life as it were to continue from The Before. Most of what I thought was important really wasn't. I gave myself permission to put myself first again and stop living in so many others' shadows like a butler in the wings. That position was my choice, however, so re-discovering (and discovering for the first time in some ways) myself was eye-opening. I'm freaking awesome...where have I been?!
Returning to work and a regular routine a few weeks after surgery, I continued to make quick evaluations of details and things that I once deemed necessary to complete or fulfill right then. Again, a lot of it wasn't life-altering enough for me to maintain an image or expectation that my life remained in order and pleasant. I just dealt with cancer and, hopefully, won for life. Dishes will always need to be done. Clothes will always need to be laundered. Groceries will always need to be planned, selected, purchased, stowed and rotated. It can wait a day or even two or three. Or, someone else can do it. I made my strength-training sessions a must. I napped like a badass. I stopped apologizing for any and everything.
- Barbara R.