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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Lemons Into Lemonade

Lemons into LemonadeEveryone knows I love me some Bey. I tend to get a little crazy with it and I know this but the reality is, her music got me through some really tough patches and so I feel connected to her, as crazy diva as she may be. 
Her new album Lemonade came about about a month ago and I was lucky enough to hear it all live at her concert in Foxborough last Friday night. 
The more I listen the more I relate. No, I’ve never been in a romantic relationship that someone’s hurt me so badly- I’ve never dealt with infidelity but I know what it feels to be cheated on. 
When I was first diagnosed with leukemia, I felt like my body cheated on me. It let me down, it betrayed me. I had loved it and taken good care of it for 24 years and that’s how it repaid me? Her album talks about all the emotions that she felt during her struggle with her husband- how she felt angry, sad, overwhelmed, then went through grieving and forgiveness and the important process of feeling free again. 

My favorite verse from the album goes like this…

“They say true love’s the greatest weapon

To end the war caused by pain

But every diamond has imperfections 

But my love’s too pure to watch it chip away

Boy nothing real can be threatened

True love breathes salvation back into me

With every tear came redemption

And my torturer became my remedy”

And that couldn’t be more true. To me, it’s saying- SHITTTT that was hard. But you know what? I’m strong and the love that I have for myself (or in her case, him) is much stronger than any pain I could ever feel. It was my body that “tortured” me but it is me treating it with love and respect and understanding that has been my remedy. I honor it. 

I think the story of infidelity and betrayal is one that any human can relate to. We’ve all experienced it on some level or another. Betrayal, whether it be with a lover, family member, friend, workplace, or in my case, my body can be infuriating and beyond upsetting. Betrayed, in any form, hurts the soul. But if you can come to terms with it and choose to move past the negativity, it can make you a stronger person because of it. 

Now this is not my way of getting you to go listen to Lemonade but instead I hope that it’s just a good reminder of an important lesson in life… When you’re served lemons, always always make Lemonade. 🍋🍋🍋

Lots of love, light and SLAY BEY SLAY BEY,

Jessy


p.s. If you are looking for a pump-me-up song, you NEED ‘Freedom’ in your life. I literally March as if I’m in a step crew every time I hear it. 💃🏻💃🏻 sue me. 🙌🏼

P.p.s the video is her ending the show with Halo- the song that I sung to myself over and over and over during hard procedures or times during the past two years. Seeing her sing it live, with fireworks going off in the background was a moment that felt very surreal and one that I’ll never gorget. Very grateful.