Today was dark and gray, like many of Portland’s short winter days. It’s easy for my spirit to fade into the gray, bringing listlessness as the day wears on, even anxiety if I recall that this weather could go on until May or June.
I have two strategies to deal with this. First, I take a “sun break” every March. Even the planning of a week in the sun lifts my spirits, and the dose of sunshine I get warms me until Portland finally rouses itself into spring.
But just as importantly, I’ve learned to conjure the sun in my mind any time I want. I close my eyes and bring to mind a particularly sparkling day I remember: crystalline sky, no clouds, pink blooms on the dogwood, bouncing squirrels happy to be released from winter’s confinement. I picture it, hear the squirrels clacking and birds conversing, and luxuriate in the sun penetrating my skin, softening cold muscles, warming my bones. Heaven!
It’s wonderful to get to the sun when I can. But when I can’t, I’ve learned to create the sun for myself.
Today I spoke to a coaching client who’s on maintenance chemotherapy: every three weeks, ongoing. As expected, she doesn’t feel well for quite a few days following each round of chemo. What’s more, the chemo has left her with tinnitus (ringing in the ears). It’s a complaint I hear a lot.
But she’s not complaining. In fact today, she said something remarkable. “When I hear the ringing, I feel like I’m not alone. It’s like a warm blanket wrapped around me.”
In the presence of a chronic symptom which could be a constant reminder of her cancer, she chooses to find something beautiful. She extracts a blessing from the ash of the chemo fire. On the grayest of days, she’s learned to find the sun.
Ultimately, it’s up to us. Like the old Peanuts cartoons where Charlie Brown walks around under his personal raincloud, it’s all too easy to forget that the sun is ALWAYS behind the clouds. We can choose to enjoy it even when it’s hidden from view.
Your turn (and don’t forget, your comments inspire others!) What have you struggled with that had you wondering when the sun would come out again? What gave you hope? What reminds you of the presence of the sun when everything looks gloomy and dark?
Sending sunshine your way from gloomy Portland!
Keywords: Dr. Shani Fox, hope after cancer, hope during chemotherapy, chemotherapy symptoms, cancer side effects
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