We’re All Warriors

During the holiday season, there was a holiday card being sold at Dana-Farber that I helped to create. On the back, they credited me as the “artist” and used my ‘cancer slayer’ term that I often called myself. I had approved it but when I saw it in print, I felt a little weird about it – I had always equated being a cancer slayer to being a warrior, and then the thought popped into my head that I was a warrior but I’m not a warrior anymore. I often look at the two years that I underwent treatment and overcame cancer to be two years of my life that I am proudest of, I feel very confident talking about my experience and am always open and empowered to share it with others. But when it comes to other aspects of my life, particularly my career, I feel very sheepish and unsure of myself- I don’t feel like I have slayed the past two years and I certainly don’t feel like a warrior very often anymore.

I had that thought and then I let it fade. But then it came back to me one afternoon during a meditation sitting during my yoga training and I began contemplating the idea that I don’t have to have cancer to be a warrior. I can be a warrior in my everyday life- with every action I take, every compassionate conversation, every day that I get up and go to work, every night when I try being a chef to make a healthy dinner for our family, every time I go to the gym instead of sitting on the couch, every time I do something to accomplish a dream. In so many aspects of life, big and small, I can be a warrior. What if I’m not a just a cancer slayer or work slayer or yoga slayer or pup mom slayer… what if I’m just a life slayer? What if we’re all life slayers?

One of the greatest learnings that I’ve become more familiar with throughout my yoga readings and trainings is to see each human being as who they are and be okay with it. Essentially, to see the warrior inside of everyone. To remember that you never know what’s going on behind closed doors, or sometimes more powerfully, what’s going on in someone’s mind. To remember that everybody has a family that loves them, everybody has a friend that thinks they’re funny or enjoys their quirkiness. Everybody wants the best for their family and friends, their community. Everybody wants to be healthy and to live a prosperous, happy life. Everybody has the same innate quality to feel connected and be included – to “be a part of.” Everybody looks up and sees the same stars, and the same beautiful sun and moon. We all share the same home – we all have different struggles but it doesn’t matter what the struggle is because to each individual, it’s their struggle, it matters, it’s hard, and it takes work to overcome. Yoga, mindfulness, Buddhism teachings have all taught me to remember those common things about other human beings. When someone is particularly annoying or aggravating me, it’s helpful to take a deep breath and realize that I may not know what’s going on in their life and to remember that they have a mother that thinks they’re wonderful, and they probably love the very attribute that I may find annoying. They’re a human, just like me. They have worries and fears and anxiety, just like me. And in one way or another, they are slaying their life. They are slaying the worries that keep them up at night and are a warrior to the personal demons that plague their body and mind. We all are. We all are trying our best—even if to the outsider it may not look like they’re slaying or doing their best—remember that who they are, in this day, is doing their best – maybe they will do “better” in the future, but at this moment in time, this is their best self. We’re all warriors- slaying whatever life throws our way today.

Being a warrior doesn’t mean doing some remarkable achievement—it certainly can mean completing a marathon, or conquering an illness, or beginning an impactful social movement—but a warrior can also be someone that has so much anxiety that their chest hurts and they go to work anyway, it can be the mother that puts their career on pause because they believe in the importance of being home to raise their children—it can be the son or daughter that sacrifices personal growth and time with their significant other to become a caregiver for their sick parent—it can be a person who sees someone being bullied and says something about it—it can be a person who absolutely loathes their job and simply goes to work with a smile on their face because they know that’s what they have to do to get by – it can be a person who’s overweight and goes to the gym despite feeling uncomfortable. It can be anyone because it is everyone.

Everyone, in some way, is a warrior.

Respect that notion about others but most importantly, respect that about yourself. You are slaying life right this second.

Warrior on. 💪🏼

Love & light,

Jessy

p.s. Speaking of being a warrior….. here’s me slaying the winter walk to work

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Live & Keep Learning

One thing that I feel I’ve become better at in the past year or so is opening my mind to other thoughts, teachings, alternative medicines and over wellness of our lives. I’ve grown up as a Catholic, I believe in God and heaven, I trust in westernized medicine and the power of going for a run and lifting weights as exercise. But I also believe that there are other religions that make sense and have useful teachings, I believe that there are beneficial practices and natural remedies that can compliment and enhance our medical practices, I believe in the power of meditation and yoga, for both physical and mental strength. Because of this, I began reading an introduction to Buddhism book called “Open Heart, Clear Mind.” It’s not that I want to change my religious beliefs, but I do find it extremely interesting and beneficial to really listen and truly appreciate others thoughts and teachings. I’m only about half way done but have already found this book to be extremely enlightening and a good reminder of what’s important in life: like being compassionate to others, taking care of yourself mentally, and having an altruistic mindset.

Today, while sitting outside on this gorgeous May day, I read about karma. There are pieces of it that are a bit “out there” for me, personally, but the overarching idea of it makes a lot of sense and can be something to really take into consideration in our daily lives. That the actions and energy we put out into the world are what we therefore will receive back from the world.

The Buddah said:
“According to the seed that is sown,
So is the fruit that you will reap.
The doer of good will gather good results,
The doer of evil reaps evil results.
If you plant a good seed well,
Then you will enjoy the good fruits.”

I think this is true in so many places in life. I have seen tenfold in the past year that being kind and caring to those around you comes full circle when you’re the one who needs love and support. Being gentle and considerate of others feelings and thoughts, makes them caring and compassionate to you in the future.

It’s Sunday night, another weekend has come to a close and a new week will begin tomorrow morning. I’m only human when I say that I’ve thought negative thoughts about those I work with, I’ve gossiped about people, flipped people off when driving to work, or passed judgment on those I don’t even know just by how they look or what they’re wearing. These actions, although natural to human behavior, are not useful to me nor will they bring myself or anybody I love happiness. So although I know I won’t ever probably be able to get rid of these negative actions in my head completely, I think it’s wise to put a more conscious effort into eradicating these types of attitudes when possible.

Karma: you get what you give. So give wisely.

Lots of love and light,
Jessy

p.s. how cute are these little smiling Buddhas? Especially the one throwing up the deuces. I can’t.

Buddha