I am a recovering overachiever.  Being an overachiever is praised in our society.  I thrived in the praise I received for academic achievements.  I hold myself back from listing them right now.  And in motherhood, well I prided myself in being a capable mother.  I can’t believe myself when I think about the conversations Ryan and I had discussing whether to have a second child.  I was on the “for” side and he was apprehensive.  I told him not to worry about the infancy stage that he finds so challenging, because I could take care of that myself. Over-achiever, self-sufficient, capable.  Do you think God was trying to teach me something when twins came along and I most certainly could not take care of 2 babies on my own?!  (Sorry God for being a slow learner, because oh how I very much tried to still show that I could do it myself.  As I write these words it kinda (okay…completely) sounds like a tantruming toddler).
Unfortunately, it took the one step further, brain cancer diagnosis, for me to stop and re-evaluate.
I am on a path to discovering the sweetness of being present, of living in the moment, of allowing myself to enjoy life even when it doesn’t meet the metrics of evaluation I place on it.
I am learning about my personality through reading The Road Back to You (1) , and discovering through reading Getting Well Again (2) the attributes of my personality can encourage disease progression.
When the personality book told me “don’t wait until you…. are the youngest person in your family to have a heart attack before you ask the question, ‘Who am I if I’m not my persona?’”  I sat up straight and took note.  I haven’t had a heart attack; but I kinda think stage 4 brain cancer may be worse.  I need to stop trying to achieve for achievements sake.  I need to learn how to be healthy.  I need to be in tune with myself: body, soul, and mind.  No more going through the motions. No more living someone else’s idea of greatness.  No more doing something simply because that’s what’s done.
This is a challenging, freeing process. 
Along this road Psalm 118:24 guides me:
“This is the day that the Lord has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.”
Before the twins were born I chose this to be the verse I would look to when days were tough and I couldn’t find joy.  Did the verse help in these moments? No.  Because how could I find joy in the sleeplessness, in the non-stop nursing, pumping milk, bottle-feeding, diaper changing x 2?  How could I find joy when nothing else got done?  How could I find joy when a few months later it became nursing, diapers, feeding solid foods, cleaning high chair trays x 2 just to have enough time to repeat the process again?  How could I possibly find joy when I was doing SO much and felt like I was doing SO little?
I didn’t realize the answer was:  perspective and choice.
These days now, I am equally tired, there are still non-stop mouths to feed.  But I am choosing to be healthy.  I am choosing to say “no” to the over-achiever in me.  I am choosing to ask for the help I need.  I am choosing to accept that I cannot do it all, that it was only ever an illusion when I felt that I could do it all and that the precipitation of serious cancer in my life at age 34 shows this very clearly (3). And what I am finding is the ability to rejoice in each day for what God has given me.
As I sit and write this my computer is sitting on crumbs, the table cluttered with kids’ breakfast dishes, there is so much to be done (always SO much to be done); but the most important task of the day is to choose to find gratitude, to choose to find joy, to choose to be in tune with my soul, and to choose to find praise for God who reveals more truths about me than any personality book ever could.  Some days I feel like making these choices for gratitude, joy, self-awareness, praise for God. Often times I do not feel like making these choices; but, I decide to anyways.  And as I turn my eyes upon Jesus I am able to write words like this:
I pause to find the artist in my soul, 
to find the poetic in my life 
so I can crack open beauty 
in the midst of 
sleepless nights, 
children coughing, 
kids fighting, 
noses dripping, 
groggy dads, 
moms on the verge of going crazy 
and thoughts of terminal cancer pecking in the background.
When I pause to breathe
I can be thankful in it all,
I can see the touch of my Creator surround me and 
I can remember that 
it’s gonna be okay. 
I can choose that 
today is a good day. 
Though everything is calling me 
to be frantic
I can 
and find peace
and joy
and hope
and love
and more life than I could have ever imagined.
I can pause 
I’ve been given.
1)     The Road Back to You: An enneagram journey to self-discovery.  By Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile.
2)     Getting Well Again. By O.Carl Simonton, Stephanie Matthews-Simonton, and James L. Creighton.
3)     I am NOT saying my personality and the stress of having twins caused cancer.  Be sure to see that I am saying I believe it precipitated cancer in my life.  This idea is supported by O.Carl et al. who states that most people who develop cancer have a stressful event 6 – 18 months prior to diagnosis.
      4) The image is of a beautiful bush I pass by everyday walking Rayna to school.  This morning I stopped to enjoy its lovely purple berries (or whatever they are) and this poem came to me.  Isn’t purple just a lovely color?!