Fragile Flower

Sean and I had a disagreement earlier this week. L forgot all of his swimwear for our Labor Day weekend trip to Pentwater. It was mostly my fault. I had a list and didn’t double-check it before we left. It was also a little L’s fault, too because he had reassured me that he could pack his own bag. By the time he realized he had forgotten his stuff, it was too late to turn around. We bought an extra swimshirt and L borrowed C’s extra bathing suit. It was a fantastic farewell to summer.

Sean and I disagreed on how each of us responded to L’s (and mine) packing oversight. I think Sean was too harsh. He thinks I was too lenient. While “discussing” this Sean, blurted out, “He is not a fragile flower!”

And inside I raged and shook and screamed, “Yes HE IS! YES he is. Yes. He. Is.”

Sean sees L as he is. TEN. Kind, funny, loyal, and a hard-worker. He cares about Legos, Star Wars, Pokemon, and starting a Minecraft club with newly found friends. L sees himself that way, too.

For me, L is frozen in time. Bald. Silent. Accepting. Three. He was only three.

People tell me that L is a warrior. He fought to survive. He wanted to get better. He did everything that he was taught to do; just like the Jedi he is named for, he trusted his teachers- us- and followed their instruction. All true. However, he was also too young to know better. He didn’t know to be afraid. He did what all three year olds do- anything possible to get back to playing. Sean and I knew better. We carried the weight of “what-if” and “now what?” We carried it. I carried it. We are the warriors. I am a warrior.

I am L’s memory. Do I remind him of everything he went through? Bring it up so he knows he can do hard things. That he has already done the hardest thing? Or let it go? Let him relish the present and make a cancer a thing that happened a long time ago that has no bearing on today. The constant negotiation is exhausting.

He doesn’t remember. He. Doesn’t. Remember. I am desperate to forget. I envy L’s freedom. I want to erase smells, phrases, hospital scenes from my mind. I claw and scratch at them. And yet, in the oddest moments, the most unassuming times- like standing at the kitchen sink fighting about how to discipline him- my grip on those same memories tightens. The remnants of L’s treatment are visceral. I need them like oxygen.

I am afraid that focusing solely on his survival will make me lazy, or comfortable. I missed his cancer once before. It grew and grew for months. Months before I noticed it. What if that happens again? If loosen my grip, everything could slip away. I could slip away.

L’s journey is always with me. It is the current that pushes the river. Sean is right. L is not three. I need to choose to see the pre-teen boy right in front of me. He is not a fragile flower.

I am the fragile flower. I can let the river nurture it so it blooms into something better. Or I can let the river swallow me.

Fighting impostor syndrome with experience

I had an important meeting last week. I think it well. If it did, it could mean new, better, and different things for me professionally. So, of course, I am replaying every minute of it and thinking of all the things I didn’t say. “Oh man! I should have told them about this!” Or, “I forgot to mention that.” I’ve done this dance with impostor syndrome before. Shoulda. Coulda. Woulda.

It was only one week ago and they told me that it would be weeks before I hear anything. But, that’s not stopping me from jumping every time my phone rings or I get an email alert. I have even considered applying for other jobs that I know I don’t want.

I continue to torture myself. I am spending way too much time on social media. Because when I am feeling low about myself, the best place to turn is the internet!

“What’s your brand? I have no idea.

“Want more followers, more money, and more freedom?” Join this webinar, buy my class, and then in 1,000 easy blogging steps and ten years you’ll be an entrepreneur! 

Is your website on-point? Is it SEO? What does that even mean?

If any one of of my clients was talking about- or to- themselves the way I was talking to myself, I would have coached them out of it. And fast. I would never let one of my clients- or a friend- talk to herself that way. So why do I talk to myself that way? When things don’t go according to plan- which is pretty much always- I tend to spiral. It’s one of the many gifts of my east coast, competitive, type A personality.

I am also learning that spiraling is a symptom of lack of self-love.

I love myself. I do. But, I need to stop acting like it is a secret or something to hide. Women tend to be harder on themselves than necessary and downplay their accomplishments. It’s the 1-2 impostor syndrome sucker-punch. I chose “confidence” as my 2016 #oneword for that very reason. I want to get back to feeling grounded, resilient, confident.

I read or heard somewhere that one way to fight impostor syndrome, or any kind of spiral, is to reflect on your accomplishments. To spend time really thinking moments and experiences you are proud of.

I decided to share some of my list here. It was an act of self-love to write these all down. And, I am proud of myself. I am confident.

  • Carried, delivered, and then breastfed two babies
  • Did the above while enrolled as a full-time PhD student
  • Married 13 years to my best friend
  • Earned PhD in 5 years
  • Shepherded 3 yr-old son through cancer, also while a full-time PhD student
  • PhD loan is paid off (there was only one!)
  • Started Sheldrake Consulting so I can help others write their career stories
  • Made money in only 17 months of business
  • All clients have been through referrals; I have not done any serious PR or marketing of my business
  • Successfully negotiated an MBTI workshop rate that was 30% higher than previous year
  • Purchased summer cottage rental property business
  • Have given a FREE week-long vacation to 5 families with childhood cancer survivors
  • Shave head twice with 46 Mommas
  • Served on leadership team of 2 national head-shaving events
  • Raised almost $10,000 in donations for St. Baldrick’s Foundation
  • Got interviewed on live TV (twice)
  • Randomly contacted a stranger on Twitter and then got invited to do a podcast
  • Started writing memoir
  • Go to work. Every day.
  • Continue to raise two kind, honest, loving, affectionate, smart, generous young men who are constantly being complimented on their hearts, behavior, manners and positive attitude

I’m a little high from my list. What’s on your list? Have you taken the time to write it down? Do it. You’ll feel better.

And, if you’re anything like me, your impostor syndrome will go back in its hole where it belongs.

 

 

 

The New Normal: Nothing’s Normal | Children’s Cancer Research Fund

Grateful to Laura Sobiech and Allie Shoemaker for their invitation to share our childhood cancer journey with the Children’s Cancer Research Fund audience. My guest blog post can be found by clicking on the link below.

On December 12, 2008, our then 3-year-old son, Luke, was…

Source: The New Normal: Nothing’s Normal | Children’s Cancer Research Fund