A good life

November 26, 2009

I’m largely back to my usual self.  This year has been a hard one, the endometrial cancer dominating everything else, but it’s also been a year of learning.  I’m still learning.

When you read about people getting news of a major life change or getting a scary diagnosis you sometimes see reference to it as a ‘life changing event’ in that people will talk about their time before the event, and after.  I’m pretty sure my experiences with endometrial cancer this year will fall into this pattern.

Every day I see that my priorities & attitudes have shifted.  Some of the shifts are slight, some are major.  I am more tolerant, more compassionate, less easily annoyed with human foibles (slow cashiers, unfriendly people, etc).  At the same time, I have more appreciation for everyday life – a nice cup of tea, a walk around town, time spent with a friend.  I also am less willing to spend my time & my energy on things that are draining for me.  I suspect this will have some impact on my professional life when I head back to work next week — I just don’t care very much about corporate politics or corporate goals.  I’m happy to have a job (and one that I like) but I also know that the job is not my life, and I won’t give it that kind of energy.

I had lunch yesterday with a friend of mine from the States who has moved back to Switzerland.  I haven’t seen her for several years, and haven’t been in touch much these past few years either, but for several years before I moved to France I had dinner w her & her husband every few weeks, and I worked closely with her husband for several years.  Seeing her was nice – especially since they’re back in Europe & hopefully we’ll manage to see more of each other.  I was looking forward to talking to her, to see how I could handle talking about what I’ve been though this year without it becoming a pity party but merely part of the ups & downs of life.

When she asked how I was (saying she could tell by our brief phone conversation something was up) she thought it was my marriage that was the problem.  I had my heart beating hard, as I said “no, that’s been the rock for me this year”.  I am so grateful I found this man, pushed myself to open up to him, and that I’ve managed to build such a solid relationship with him.  We’ve had some hard moments this year – but a lot of those hard moments have brought us closer.

This friend married later in life, like I did.  She’s about 10 years older than I am, never had children.  I suspected talking to her would be helpful & I was right.  I told her what had happened, and she was very nice about it but also not dramatizing it (nor was I).  That was nice, and gave me good practice for explaining some of the situation to my work colleagues & direct reports when I head back into professional mode over the next weeks.  We talked about a lot of stuff, but the work conversations which had always been a big part, were gone — both her & her husband are now retired (him 6 years ago, her earlier this year), and the importance of my career in my life has been on a steady downward trend for several years now — and of course right now I have zero interest in it.

After our nice lunch & lingering over tea, we parted, but I was very happy to be able to see that I am living a good life.  I braved the rainy weather & walked home, wandering through neighborhoods I don’t know so well & ducking into shops from time to time.  I spent about 2 hours heading home (normally would have been a 40 minute walk) and found a book I’d been looking for & some ingredients from a specialized grocer.  I listened to a book on tape. I took a few pics of this pretty city.  I appreciated my life.

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