Yes folks, it’s my anniversary. On 17 December three years ago I was diagnosed with breast cancer. At the time I didn’t dare think too much further ahead than the next treatment hurdle, which in my case was a mastectomy two days after diagnosis. Oddly enough, the 17th December in 2016 falls on a Saturday – Law of Dharma or Purpose in Life Day in Deepak Chopra’s The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success. A little spiritual tingle is travelling up my spine right now because it was after I came home from the hospital that I started writing my blogpost on that 7th Law, a post I’d been putting off for over a year as I came to terms with my own mid-life crisis, for want of a better description. That post led to the Big Breast Adventure series and the rest, as they say in the classics, is history. It seems fitting on this day of reflection (for me at least) to reprise my Law 7 – Purpose in Life post as a reminder to myself (more than anyone else) that time does indeed march on and finding one’s purpose continues to be a ‘work in progress’.
Just over a year ago I posted Loving the Hills intending it to be a full stop to the my blog series on breast cancer which is about to be released as a book – My Big Breast Adventure or How I Found the Dalai Lama in My Letterbox. The over-arching message of this last post is acceptance of everything that life throws at us – not just the good stuff, but the stuff that’s not so pleasant or downright awful as well. In the past few weeks, having launched the Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign to fund the production of my book while continuing to face the many obstacles that seem to spring up daily when one is trying to run a start up publishing enterprise, I confess that I’d all but forgotten this message. So I repost this blog now, dear readers, mostly for my own benefit but with the ardent hope that the message of acceptance may be just what you need to hear too right about now. There’s nine days left on my crowdfunding campaign to cover the expenses of producing the book. I’d sure appreciate your comments, shares and likes and any other contribution you feel you’d like to make in order to get My Big Breast Adventure out there! Thank you, thank you for being my dear readers and for all of your support on this adventure to date.
About a week before I was diagnosed in December 2013 I had the privilege of seeing Janine Shepherd speak at a SHE Business event in Sydney. You may recall that Janine was a member of the Australian cross-country ski team, training for the Calgary Winter Olympics in 1986, when she was hit from behind by a speeding utility truck while on a bike ride. Janine sustained multiple life-threatening injuries, including but not exclusive to a broken neck, back and massive internal damage.
Like a good little perfectionist I’ve been holding off on posting about Law 7 – the Law of Dharma or Purpose in Life – in Deekpak Chopra’s Seven Spiritual Laws of Success. Why? Well, I wanted to have it all together in my head, to have figured it all out before I started. Let me state for the record that I’m still a very long way from ‘having it all together’ and understanding the breadth and depth of this most inspiring yet intimidating of spiritual laws. But while I was procrastinating on this post three things happened that moved me closer to getting the dynamics of Dharma and my own purpose in life than any amount of desk research could ever do.
Loving What Is by Byron Katie is compelling for that reason and so is…
The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. So a big high five to Brené Brown for so beautifully taking us through the results of her more than a decades worth of research into shame and vulnerability, including her own personal story in…
The Power of Vulnerability (a 6 CD set). At one point when explaining how she herself needed to seek therapy to come to terms with the result of her extensive quantitative study into shame, Dr Brown says she was ‘hijacked’ by the data. Then she rounds back and says that rather than being hijacked she was actually rescued. I love hearing her laughter, her quips, her personal stories, her knowledge and her empathy for the audience who might be dealing with their own shame / vulnerability issues as they listen. It’s for that very reason it is so difficult to start a public dialogue on shame and vulnerability – talking about shame triggers our own shame, and our personal shame makes us vulnerable. But as Brené Brown makes abundantly clear in her work, without vulnerability there can be no empathy and without empathy we have a very depleted and unhappy human community. Some would argue that’s what we’re experiencing in western societies and probably the whole planet right now.
Check out the two TED talks posted on Brené Brown’s website and you’ll get the gist very quickly about the nature of her work and the, at times, very uncomfortable personal journey she had to undertake in order to make sense of her qualitative research into shame. I had so many epiphanies listening to The Power of Vulnerability I don’t know where to start. My abiding impression, however, is Brené’s own admission that some of the conclusions and inclusions of her research (such as spirituality) are not wholly accepted by the academic fraternity within which she operates. Now that’s courage in my book. To speak the truth, or what you know to be the truth, and to confront things about yourself and how you live in order to truly understand and interpret the results of your work. Watch this space – Brené Brown is in imminent danger of becoming an Epiphany Perennial Favourite!