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survivor's nest

The Survivor's Nest - 5 Tips for Coping with Cancer Anger at Home

Problems are not the problem; coping is the problem. Virginia Satir
 
(No Internet connection yesterday, so I'm posting yesterday's Survivor's Nest post today.) Tuesday's post on coping with cancer anger opened up a wonderful discussion about constructively expressing our anger. Thank you to the many readers who shared their thoughts, comments and emails. You really made me think and you've inspired me to take the conversation one step further in today's Survivor's Nest post.
 
As much as expressing our cancer anger constructively is important, I don't think it's always the entire answer to making ourselves feel better. I'm sure we've all been in the situation of trying to express our anger, only to get back a blank or completely disinterested look on the other person's face. Or worse, you are subjected to an argument over whether you have a right to your anger in the first place. My point is that we can't expect that expressing our anger is always going to make us feel better. Although we should still say our piece, sometimes, no matter how much we vent, no one is listening.
 
So what else can we do to cope? l always return to my "soft place to land" theory. It's a tough world out there, especially for the cancer survivor. Your home should envelope and calm you after a hard day at the office, be it your own or your oncologist's. Here are five tips to make that a reality in your own home:
 
1. Family and/or really good friends: Nothing beats a shoulder to cry on or a nod that says, "I get it and, yes, that guy is a real jerk." Empathy, sincerely given, is one of the greatest gifts of love. I can't tell you how much I needed it during my worst days and still do. If your home is dysfunctional and not a loving and supportive place, ask yourself what you need to do about it. Peace in your home is pivotal to your good mental and emotional health. 
 
2. Slow down and relax: When I'm angry or upset, I tend to throw myself into work. Because I do most of my work at home, that's not a good thing. Continuing to move fast and furiously only stokes the flames. Instead, take a moment to breathe, do meditation or try guided imagery. Slowing down your cardiovascular system has real benefits, as discussed in Redford William's book, Anger Kills: Seventeen Strategies for Controlling the Hostility That Can Harm Your Health  (Amazon associates link.) I bet that title got your attention.
 
3. Pump up the creature comforts: Soothe yourself with the comforts of home. Having a hot cup of tea warms your insides and reduces tension. Spend some down time in a comfortable bed, curled up with a book or watching a favorite holiday movie. The key is to distract yourself from the irritations of the day by luxuriating in your nest.
 
4. Build in quiet time: I can't tell you how many times I've gotten into arguments that I didn't even know how I got into them. When you (or your loved ones) are irritable, it's not easy to talk calmly about even ordinary things. If you're feeling cancer anger, take a "time out." One of the comments to Tuesday's post was from Erika, who makes "a conscience effort to leave a room to collect myself and come back to talk with a clear head" when she is experiencing cancer anger. Erika is smart to find a quiet spot to take a few minutes to consciously collect herself. 
 
5. Have fun:  The bananas sitting on our kitchen counter for several days were beginning to show their age. My husband mentioned banana bread more than once, and I nodded, but I doubted I had the time. Yesterday, I made myself take a work break and I was so glad I did. In addition to not feeling guilty about throwing away food, I enjoy baking and the smell was incredible. It was a small diversion from my working day, but it made all the difference in my mood. Try a family pajama night or take a yoga break. Just an afternoon or a few minutes of fun can diffuse anger's sharp effects.
 
My biggest challenge at home is finding a balance between down time and work, without which I end up feeling angry and resentful. If you are experiencing cancer anger, I hope your home is a haven of comfort and security and I'd love to hear more about how you make that happen.

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The Survivor's Nest - Family Togetherness

I bet you didn't know that Saturday night is National Family Pajama Night. I didn't know it either until I stumbled upon it on the Internet. Of course, this "holiday" is entirely made up by The Company Store, a company that sells pajamas, but that's not the point. Reading the website brought back lovely memories of family pajama nights we had when our children were much younger. I was grateful to be reminded and to realize that you don't have to be a child or have children to appreciate family togetherness.

When we celebrated our own family pajama nights, we "camped out" in the living room. Our campsite was prepared by moving the coffee table out of the way and setting up bedding and pillows on the area rug next to the sofa. Of course, our focal point was the fireplace, which was ready to go. Once it got dark and everyone was in pajamas, the fire was lit and the lights went out. The four of us basked in the coziness and warmth of its light and the family togetherness of the moment.

If you're looking for a more active family pajama night, you can play board games or plan other activities. The Company Store Facebook page has a fun "Memory Maker" section offering an activity "Idea A Day" since October 3rd. The activities are perfect for younger children and are really adorable. In fact, they are so cute, I may try one or two of them with my teenagers, after all.

I guess that's the secret to a fun family togetherness activity. Don't be afraid to shake things up a bit. Turn your living room into a camping site. Don't be afraid to move the furniture around and actually use that fireplace. The more you actively use your house to promote cheer and healing, the more homey and comforting your home becomes. By just walking in the door, you will get that nesting feeling.

You don't have to have young children to enjoy a family pajama night. I'm going to plan one with my teenagers. If it's just you and a partner, enjoy camping out in front of the fireplace or turn off all electronics and enjoy the silence together. It doesn't matter what you do, it only matters that you savor each other's company.

What I remember most about those nights with my husband and children was the peacefulness of the entire house. It nurtured my soul, and was especially appreciated after a long and active kid-filled day. By taking the time to wind down as a family and really focus on togetherness, active mindfulness and beautiful family memories are your rewards.

I hope you and your family enjoy some family togetherness this weekend. If you're still wondering what to do on National Family Pajama Night, I'll leave you with this YouTube video because it's just so darn cute and these kids have some really great ideas:

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The Survivor's Nest - Five Tips for Healing Our Spirits

Every spirit makes its house, and we can give a shrewd guess from the house to the inhabitant. Ralph Waldo Emerson

What does your house say about your spirit? Like it or not, your house is speaking up loud and clear about who you are and what you value. 

I recently met with a young mother and her 15-month old daughter for lunch. She mentioned how she had very little time to keep her house neat, given the time she spends with her two very young children. When she felt frustrated she reminded herself that, "My house isn't supposed to be neat now." At this stage of her life, her spirit is one of an involved, loving mother, who puts time with her children above the tidiness of her house. 

As cancer survivors, our spirits have walked through fire. Now that we are venturing beyond diagnosis and treatment into life beyond cancer, there are things we can do to heal our spirits and express them more eloquently in our homes:

1. Recognize negative energy and get rid of it: As I mentioned in an earlier post, I have a friend who got rid of the comforter from her sick room once she was well. Her spirit needed to move from sick person to well person, and she couldn't do that with that comforter still on the bed. Look around your home and ask yourself, are there things here that wear on my spirit because of bad memories or emotional clutter? If so, get rid of them and watch your spirit soar.

2. Focus on your spirit's calling:  Like my friend with the two little children, everyone's spirit has a calling - a duty of passion. If you don't know what your spirit's calling is, find out. Take a class, go to the library and find books that interest you, or talk to others whose work or hobbies you find interesting. It's important for every spirit to have a way to express itself. Find your way and let your spirit run with it.

3. Put what's important to you front and center: Whatever your spirit's calling, put it front and center in your home. Two of my favorite pieces of original artwork in my home were created by my children while they were in grammar school. Make your artwork personal and meaningful. Frame anything that speaks to you, be it concert tickets to a great show you saw with a friend, or a menu from the restaurant where you and your spouse celebrated a special anniversary. The spirit needs to remember and what better way to do that then to surround yourself with positive mementos from your life.

Photo from PotteryBarn.com, Seagrass Stool

4. Focus on physical and spiritual health: Now that you're beyond treatment, find a way to bring health back into your everyday life. Set up an exercise room or corner. Dedicate a quiet spot to meditation or journaling. Put healthy snacks out in bowls. When I designed my den, I put three seagrass stools from Pottery Barn together as a coffee table. Had I not thought about my desire to start a home yoga practice, I would have put a heavy, unmovable coffee in their place and that would have been the end of my ability to use that room for yoga. 

5. Nurture your spirit:  I'm not adverse to watching television once in a while, but it can't be your only source of  "home entertainment." Collect books you love to read and display them together. I have a collection of gardening books stacked on a table in my living room because I just like seeing them. Find creative outlets and have the supplies you need at the ready. If you knit, put your yarn and needles in a basket by the sofa, right where you need them. Make it easy to grab a few minutes of reading or creativity and your spirit will thank you.

Once you give it some thought, it's not that hard to focus on your spirit and what it needs to make its house. What little changes can you make today to nurture your spirit?

Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos and Pottery Barn

 

The Survivor's Nest - My Number One Tip This Holiday Season

We all know how life goes during the diagnostic and treatment phase of cancer. It's 24/7 cancer and everything else that used to constitute life takes a back seat. For me, once that phase wound down, I returned to my life and new interests, such as creating the WWGN community, writing my blog and speaking to survivor groups. I've kept my head down and forged ahead, but I recently noticed that some of the things I put in the back seat during my early cancer days are still back there. Foremost among them: cleaning my house.

I'm not a Felix Unger fanatic about housekeeping, but do like things clean and organized. Since cancer, however, I spend much less time at it. Surprisingly, I've also developed a higher tolerance level; dust just doesn't bother me as much as it used to before cancer.

If you have been following The Survivor's Nest series you know what I still find important. I am a big proponent of creating a nurturing home - a soft place to land. I've shared tips on seasonalizing for autumn, creating sacred space, making your bedroom your refuge and bringing cheer into your home. I've tried to keep the tips low key, both in time and cost, while encouraging small changes that bring big rewards.

It's a real balancing act, maintaining a home, while at the same time trying to enjoy it. I often call this the "bed and breakfast" dilemma. I'd love to live in a beautifully decorated, immaculate, organized, comfortable house, with a cup of tea and a book always at the ready. I just can't figure out how to create all that prettiness without all the effort. Basically, there's just no way to be a guest at your own bed and breakfast.

 I recently ran across my copy of The Prophet, by Kahlil Gibran, and reread his passage "On Houses:"

And tell me...what have you in these houses? 

...Or have you only comfort, and the lust for comfort, that stealthy thing that enters the house a guest, and then becomes a host, and then a master?

Ay, and it becomes a tamer, and with hook and scrouge makes puppets of your larger desires.

...Verily the lust for comfort murders the passion of the soul, and then walks grinning in the funeral.  

But you, children of space, you restless in rest, you shall not be trapped nor tamed.

Your house shall be not an anchor but a mast.

While keeping a comfortable home is important to me, I can't become a slave to it, as if I was running a bed and breakfast. I have to balance my "lust for comfort," with my "larger desires." To do that, I'll have to keep putting more focus on my restlessness than I do on the dust.    

There was a time when I took a "Martha-Stewart-perfect-level-of-orchestration" approach to the holidays. But, as this very busy season approaches, my only tip this week is to be careful not to overdo it.  Balance maintaining your soft place to land with the "passion of your soul."  In doing so, our homes really do become masts and we can sail forward into our dreams.

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The Survivor's Nest - Five Tips for Creating Sacred Space

Your sacred space is where you can find yourself again and again. Joseph Campbell

Our lives are so busy and noisy, that we often forget about the healing power of silence. When we're out in the world, it's not usually possible to control the noise level. At home, we can usually turn down the noise, but why not take it a step further and create a sacred space of peacefulness and healing?

After my surgery, I had lots of downtime to sit and be and was often drawn to a certain chair in my living room. The chair was comfortable, the room quiet (no television) and the view from my window was lovely during those many spring weeks of disability. I returned to this chair again and again, to meditate, or just to rest.

Gradually, that space became sacred to me. I brought meaningful items into it by creating a makeshift altar. On a tray on the coffee table I gathered votive candles, pictures of my family, and two small Buddhas. A small carved elephant I found in an antique shop became very special to me. I was dealing with a lot during that time and meeting with an oncology therapist for support and guidance. One day she told me I had the emotional memory of an elephant - whatever I remembered, I felt again. That elephant became a symbol to me of my pain and my growing awareness of how I processed it.

You can get started creating a sacred space for yourself by following a few easy steps:

1.  Decide what "sacred" means to you. Do you need a space for yoga, meditation or spiritual connection? To me, sacred means uplifting, peaceful and spiritual. What does it mean to you?

2.  Dedicate a spot in your home that can become sacred. It doesn't have to be a whole room. It can be a corner of a room, the top of a dresser, or any other space you can find. My space is in the middle of my living room. When I am there, alone, it's sacred. When my family is in the space, it's just as sacred, but in a very different way.

3.  Create your own altar.  Find personal items which are meaningful to you. Next to my candles, pictures, Buddhas and elephant, I have a small piece of tile. I found it while taking a walk around my neighborhood and it is really beautiful. To me, it symbolized the importance of getting back out into the world and finding gifts of cancer in places I didn't expect to find them.  

4.  Surround yourself with inspirational icons. Fill your space with meaningful quotes, spiritual symbols, calming music, plants, and any other items that uplift your spirit. Connecting with our spiritual selves opens up an amazing well to drink from when stresses come our way.

5.  Create a ritual. Once you've created your sacred space, how will you honor it? Will you use it to meditate for a few minutes every morning? Will you just sit, with your eyes closed, enjoying a few minutes of peace and quiet? Your ritual can be simple or complicated but, whatever you elect to do, make it meaningful to you.

Take a few minutes to bring peacefulness and healing into your nest by creating sacred space. It's not hard to do and has immense rewards. If you already have a sacred space, I'd love to hear about it.  If I've inspired you to create one, I'd love to know how you made it meaningful to you. 

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The Survivor's Nest - 5 Decorator Tricks to Bring Cheer and Healing into Your Nest

A house is much more than a mere shelter, it should lift us emotionally and spiritually." John Saladino

As a place to reconnect, re-energize and reflect, our homes support our healing from all of life's stresses and maladies. A house is truly a home when it lifts us up, especially when we are struggling. Here are five simple tricks you can do right now to bring cheer and healing into your home: 

1.  Let in the Light:   Natural light is a stimulant. In fact, the lack of natural light affects some people so much that they suffer from depression during the colder winter months. Look at your windows and ask yourself if they are letting in enough light. Are your drapes heavy and covering the window?  A decorator's trick is to move your curtain rod out beyond the frame of the window so the drape covers mostly wall and just the vertical edges of the window. This trick makes your window appear larger and you'll see a huge difference in the amount of window you've opened up. If you have a view which doesn't make you happy, put up sheers. They will let light in and soften the view.    

2.  Wake up with Color:  Color is directly tied to mood. We all know that there are colors that engender happiness, such as yellow and red. No need, however, to paint the entire room bright yellow!  Use accessories to bring in pops of color. Scatter throw pillows, vases, flowers, throws and the like around the room. This trick brings in just the right amount of color and can be accomplished in an afternoon after a trip to the local home store.  And the best part? When you tire of a color, simply change it out. You can't do that with a paint can! 

3.  Surround Yourself with Things You Love::  A long time ago, I went to a new client's house. Although the house was beautifully decorated, I noticed there wasn't one personal item to be seen except for a few family photos on one wall. It turned out that the house, formerly the neighborhood's show house, had been bought complete with all its furnishings. This created an interesting problem for my client, who was afraid to move a stick of furniture out of place.  

As much as my client loved her new house, it wasn't yet a home because it didn't reflect the family who lived within its walls. Without personal items, such as books, souvenirs, family pictures, children's art - the list is limitless - the house had no soul and was still just a show house. Take the time to identify items you love, which speak to you of experiences, relationships or beauty, and display them proudly. If you love them, you will love seeing them in your home. 

4.  Revel in Personal Collections:  An easy and cost-free decorator trick is to group collections. Often, clients tell me they don't collect anything. At the same time, I see interesting items scattered around the house which, when brought together, become a collection. Look around your house right now for multiples. Decorators say that three or more of anything is a collection. Don't be limited by labels. Items of the same shape or color can also form a collection. I bet you have an interesting collection right now, just waiting to be discovered and celebrated.

5.  Bring in Natural Accents:   There's something about flowers, pinecones, acorns, branches and leaves that bring life to the indoors. Using natural elements in the home creates a connection between the indoors and outdoors, which lifts our spirits.  Keep it simple and stay away from plastic, which is one of my decorating pet peeves. Whatever you can find in fake flowers will never approach the beauty of just a few cut branches from your backyard. A beautiful vase of real flowers is a focal point that helps rest your mind and calm you.

Wherever you are on your cancer journey, you deserve every bit of support you can find. Our home environments are a huge part of that support system. Do what you can, even if it's just something small, to bring cheer to your home and it will reward you. It was an ancient Greek poet, Pindar, who said, "The best of healers is good cheer."  I'd love to know what little thing you did today to bring cheer and healing into your home.

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The Survivor's Nest - It's Autumn & Time to Seasonalize the Nest

The weather is finally turning cooler, and the air is crisp and clear. It's finally autumn! Although the calendar introduced the season two weeks ago, it was in name only. Summer refused to exit on cue and took its time winding down to its inevitable end. Now autumn is finally here and it's time to seasonalize the nest!

Seasonalize is a word you won't find in the dictionary, but decorators use it a lot. It means to bring your indoor environment in synch with the outdoor environment to reflect the season outdoors within your home. Seasonalizing goes to the core of nesting by fostering snuggling in the fall/winter and lightening up in the spring/summer. I love October and celebrate it every year by seasonalizing my home. By doing so I am acting as a creature of nature and am present within it.

How do you start? It's really easy! Here are a few tips to get you on your way:

1.  When:  I seasonalize twice a year, in the fall and the spring. In the fall, I'm happy to begin the process of hunkering down in the warmth of my home during the cold winter months. In the spring, I'm looking to bring nature in and be part of the outdoors. Like other animals, we are impacted upon by the seasons. When we acknowledge our primal need to be one with the seasons, we are much more comfortable in our indoor environment.

2.  Put Summer in Storage:  Clear out anything that reminds you of summer. Put away beach towels, bathing suits, flip flops, shells, summer-themed placemats, lacy pillows or sheer curtains, summer-weight area rugs, cotton and silk sheets and anything else that is too light and summery to warm you up as the weather gets colder.  

3.  Layer on the Warmth:  Get out the flannel sheets, heavier blankets, and a luxurious throw for the bed. In the living room, put throws on the sofa and change up the accent pillows from lighter summer-themed ones, to fall-inspired hues. Go for jewel tones. Anything that mimics the colors of fallen leaves will work beautifully. If possible, put up heavier drapes at the windows to visually and literally keep cold air out. Replace summery area rugs or cover bare floors with heavy, plush wool rugs. Your toes will thank you. 

4.  Make the Fireplace a Focal Point:  If you're lucky enough to have one, a fireplace can be the star of your fall/winter nest. Make it stand out by bringing the fireplace tools out of storage, rearrange the mantel to feature fall/winter themes (candles, gourds, jewel colored vases, etc.), and make sure there's a stack of firewood ready for use.

4.  Create Seasonal Vignettes:  Just because we want to keep the cold weather outside, doesn't mean we want to be cut off from nature. Put apples and pinecones in a bowl. Gather pumpkins, squash and other gourds from the farmers' market and display them like treasures. Take a hike, collecting interesting leaves, acorns, and rocks along the way, and bring them home to display. 

5.  Set a Seasonal Table:  The richness of fall and harvest time comes alive at the family table. Bring out placemats woven of natural fibers, such as rattan or water hyacinth. Rustic dishes, napkins and heavier trays and serving pieces complete the look. Put a bowl of pears, pomegranates and pinecones in the center of the table. Fall/winter decorating is all about warm, nubby and interesting textures. The table is the perfect place to bring those textures alive. 

The seasons of nature create an ebb and a flow that cycles with perfect balance. When we plug back into that flow and honor the seasons, we resonate and reconnect with life itself.  As cancer survivors, we should take every opportunity to nurture ourselves and return our body, soul and mind to balance. There is no better place to do that than in our own homes. Nesting and taking the time to seasonalize your home honors our place in the world. Let me know if you come up with ideas of your own to bring your nest in synch with the colder seasons.

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The Survivor's Nest

Now that we've cleared our bedrooms of emotional and physical clutter, it's time to focus on the bed. Much more than a piece of furniture, your bed is the center of your private universe. It's the place we return to at the end of the day to relax and surrender to sleep. For anyone living a stressed and hectic life, and that's certainly most of us, it's our place of refuge. Our bed should be, first and foremost, our soft place to land at the end of each day.

As cancer survivors, our need for refuge and security is heightened. Not only do we have our share of sleepless nights of anxiety, but we may also have physical issues created by treatment. Our skin may be dry, damaged or overly sensitive due to radiation and chemotherapy treatments. Surgeries may have caused pain or difficulty finding comfortable sleep positions. We owe it to ourselves to do whatever we can to make our bed as comfortable as possible.

Let's take a look at choices we can make to create our perfect sanctuary:

Mattress: If you wake up every morning with an achy back, you probably need a new mattress. The best advice I can give you when deciding which of the many choices is right for you is very simple: make sure to extensively test the mattresses in the store. Lie down on several mattresses, in the position in which you usually sleep, to decide what's comfortable for you. When you find a mattress you think you like, lay on it for at least 10 to 15 minutes. You might feel strange lying there, but it's the best way to make the decision. Most people will find that a medium firm mattress is best for them. Try a pillowtop mattress for extra comfort. The mattress beneath is firm, but the pillowtop makes you feel like you are sleeping on a cloud. Quoting Goldilocks very loosely, "Not too hard and not too soft is usually just right."

Sheets: When looking for sheets, focus on comfort and low toxicity. For comfort, consider silk sheets whose "silkiness" is easy on tender skin. You can also choose organic cotton or bamboo sheets, which have less chemicals and wick away moisture to keep you comfortable. Avoid satin and cotton/polyester blends because they trap moisture next to the skin. Flannel can hold moisture too, but I find nothing more enjoyable than sinking into beautifully soft and warm flannel sheets on a cold winter's night.

Pillows: If your pillow is over two years old, throw it out today. Pick a new pillow that suits your sleep style, be it stomach, side or back. Stay away from synthetic fillers, which can cause allergic reactions, coughing, wheezing and headaches. Try natural latex, goose down or organic cotton. 

Comforters, Blankets: Again, look for natural fabrics with minimum processing. Natural, organic cottons will wick moisture away and keep you warm and dry.

Air Quality and Temperature: Open the windows! I find that an open window goes a long way toward a good night's sleep. Keep your room well ventilated, clean of dust and slightly cool. You'll sleep better and wake up refreshed (no more morning headaches.)

Creature Comforts: These are the things you need to make your bed your intimate space. If you like to read in bed, make sure you have adequate lighting. There's nothing more irritating that struggling to read in poor light. I bring a glass of water to my bedside table every night because I like a sip of water if I wake in the middle of the night. Put a soft luxurious throw at the bottom of the bed to pull up over you in the middle of the night if you get cold.

Make your bedtime comfort a priority. It's not selfish, it's self-care. If you take the time to invest in a good night's sleep, you will improve your nights and your days. If you can't make large changes, make small changes. Just remember you deserve it and, by taking care of yourself, you will be more able to take care of everything else. Let me know what changes you made that brought you comfort. Happy nesting!

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The Survivor's Nest

Today, I'm excited to kick off a new series which combines two of my passions. Welcome to the "The Survivor's Nest!"  Fifteen years ago, I had a two-year old daughter, another child on the way and a job as in-house counsel for an insurance company. I'd like to say that I left that job to raise my two children, but the truth is that I didn't go back after my son was born because I wanted something more from my career - not less.  I wanted to find a career that spoke to my creative side, my ability to work well with people and my attention to detail. While I used those skills during my 12-year practice as an attorney, there was one thing missing. I needed passion. 

I found that passion in interior decorating. Over the past 14 years, I've worked with wonderful clients creating homes that swaddle them in comfort, ease and elegance. Over and over again, I've seen how important it is to create a soft place to land at the end of a day. I've seen how the right environment helps a mind recharge, reflect and return to its more human self. I've heard the exhale and long slow breath that celebrates the nest's nurturance.

Who deserves to feather their nest more than the cancer survivor? During the diagnostic and treatment phases, there is no time or energy left for anything other than dealing with cancer. But little by little, you get stronger and stronger and yearn to reclaim your most intimate places from the intruder. For me, discovering yoga, meditation and rediscovering writing, helped me regain control over my body and mind. Nesting re-establishes security, scrubs away sickness and reclaims the sanctuary which is your home.   

Back in March, I found an article in Country Living magazine about painter Kolene Spicher, who has a husband, three sons, a successful business, and ovarian cancer. I was touched by Kolene's story as both a decorator and a cancer survivor. Kolene spends most of her time painting in her home studio, which looks out on the Susquehanna River Valley in Pennsylvania. Although her business produces art for catalogs like Pottery Barn and Ballard Designs, she simplifies her days so as not to exhaust herself. She credits her illness, which she’s had for most of her adult life, with amplifying her desire to surround herself with beauty, in her work and in her home." 

Kolene's story reminds me of something told to me by my friend, who was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer and underwent chemotherapy, bi-lateral mastectomies with saline implant reconstruction and radiation. She mentioned how important it was to throw away the comforter on her bed after the worst of her treatment was over. To her, that comforter was a symbol of those many horrible weeks of sickness in her bedroom and she couldn't re-establish a healthier and happier life within its walls until it was gone.

One of the most important gifts of cancer I've discovered is the realization of how important it is to nurture myself. That sustenance begins at home. As T.S.Eliot said, "Home is where one starts from."  

In honor of my friend, next week The Survivor's Nest will focus on making your bed into the haven you deserve. If you have any questions or ideas for other areas to talk about at The Survivor's Nest, please let me know. It's your nest, make it a refuge from the rest of the world and a launching pad for your life beyond cancer.

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