Posted by: julia
on Jan 14, 2017
It’s taken me a couple extra weeks to actually write this down in any coherent way, but I’ve been thinking a lot about my intentions/resolutions for this 2017 year, and I think they are finally coming into focus. I think I am coming to accept that this year is *not* a year for proactively taking on new big challenges and aspiring to grander activities; I still have more recovery and processing to do before I feel like I will be “free” enough to seek out and accomplish big projects or big changes to my intentional life design. I still do feel a pressure to accomplish and help (help people, help our country, help change the world to be a better place) but I also feel a resistance, a need for taking my time and continuing with the self-care (which is mostly not physical anymore, which makes it a little more complicated). I think it is so important to be politically active and make my voice heard and help others make their voices heard too, but I still have to be conservative with my spoons so I don’t burn out or fall into despair and depression. So I want to focus on “small ball”, by which I mean working at a more local, personal level to live my values and operate as the kind of person I want to be in my marriage, my family, and my communities. I want to be a role model and really commit to the idea of “be the change you want to see in the world”.
So what do I believe in? What are my values? What kind of world do I want to live in? Maybe it would be helpful to list some of them for reference.
- I believe that people are more important than things. I prioritize spending time with people and making them happy over most everything else.
- I believe everyone—yes, everyone—has equal value and importance. Like Jewish tradition teaches, saving one person is like saving a whole world (and therefore hurting or destroying one person is like hurting or destroying a whole world.)
- I believe that for the most part, diversity and differences make us stronger and more interesting and should be celebrated and eagerly sought out, not ignored or devalued.
- I believe in community and collaboration, because we are all connected. I think it does indeed take a village to raise our children and make our neighborhoods clean, safe and nurturing.
- I believe that people are intrinsically good at heart and have the same basic needs for respect, safety, love, connection, comfort, creativity, meaning and purpose.
- I believe we humans are the stewards of this one unique planet Earth and it is our individual and collective responsibility to live in a way that supports and protects our global environment for ourselves and for all future generations.
- I believe in tikkun olam, the healing of the world, and in partnering with each other to make the world a better place for all, not just some.
- I believe in justice and the application of appropriate consequences for wrong actions, not as punishment but as encouragement and scaffolding for learning how to do things right in the future.
- I believe in peace.
- I believe in treating others as you would like to be treated.
- I believe that each one of us has amazing gifts and important stories to share, and that we should both share our own gifts and stories and take the time to appreciate each other’s gifts and stories.
- I believe in optimism and hope, even in the face of difficulties.
- I believe in honesty.
- I believe in self-reflection and personal growth, because the more we understand ourselves the stronger and more resilient we get and the more we can empathize with/connect to other people.
- I believe in treating others (and myself) with kindness and respect.
- I believe in play and creativity and trying new things.
- I believe in being of service.
- I believe in the “oxygen mask theory” where you need to take care of yourself first in order to then take care of others.
I’m sure there are more things I believe in, but this is a pretty good list for now. If I can keep reminding myself to live my life according to these beliefs I think I’ll have a successful year.
Posted by: julia
on Jan 01, 2017
Tagged in: writing
, intentional life design
, Burning Man
Once again I am stealing some time away amidst the familiar familial hurly-burly that is our Stinson New Year’s tradition to do some reflection on the past year and record it for posterity. 2016 will definitely be a memorable year in my book, mostly for purely selfish and personal reasons (helloooo cancer! And also, goodbye!) but also because this past year has definitely felt like a turning point in history, especially with the election of Donald Trump and all the accompanying upheaval in American life. We are certainly living in some interesting times and I am doing my best to stay solid in my values and my determination to keep loving and creating and making the world a better place for everyone.
But before I get too far down the rabbit hole of predictions and solutions for what kind of looking glass country we seem to be dealing with, let me go back to the point of this post, which was to record and reflect on what happened to ME in the year just past (because after all this is my solipsistic storytelling space). With the able assistance of my calendar and my photo log, I ought to be able to at least remember the highlights in vaguely chronological order.
January started off quietly, which was definitely welcome after so much upheaval (cancer surgery and treatments, holiday hoo ha) in the previous months. For my birthday weekend Josh and I got all dressed up and went to the Edwardian Ball in SF for two nights with a bunch of friends and had a terrific time. A few days later we also went to see the Wood Brothers in concert but it turned out to be kind of a bummer show since the band was sick. The week after that I had my first chemo treatment, at which I did not have a terrific time but at least it turned out to be less horrible than I had so fearfully anticipated.
Posted by: julia
on Nov 16, 2016
A year ago today I had my first breast surgery (a lumpectomy and reduction). A week ago today I had what I fervently hope is my last breast surgery (tweaks to finish the DIEP flap reconstruction I had back in June). So I have been this new, smaller-breasted person for a whole year now. It still feels strange and unreal, though I’m finally getting more used to it. Being done with the reconstruction also brings with it a mixed set of feelings: on the one hand, “yay, that’s it, I’m done!”, where I’m happy to finally be through all the trials and tribulations and relieved to be relatively pleased with the results; and yet on the other hand, I also am feeling “oh, that’s it, I’m done?”, where I’m realizing that the form I’ve got now is what I’m going to have for—God willing and the creek don’t rise—the rest of my life. And it isn’t perfect, as it never is, but whatever my minor disappointments, now I must begin the journey back to body acceptance and self-appreciation all over again. Having done body acceptance work slowly but surely for decades already, it’s a little disheartening to have to do it again (and so relatively quickly). Do it I shall, with as much focus on the silver linings and bright sides as I can manage, but today is an anniversary where I mourn, just a little, the way things used to be back before I was a “modified” human.
The other thing that I’ve been mulling over the last few weeks (in between all the election hoo ha and the emotional rollercoaster that has created, which will have to be another post), is the “now what” feeling of existential angst that I mentioned in the last post. Other than the next 5-10 years of prophylactic hormone therapy, I am officially done with the active phase of my treatment. I'm excited about that, oh hell yes I am...but I am also feeling a little discombobulated and lost. I feel like a wild animal in a catch and release program—I got caught, I thought I was going to die, but now here I am thrust back out into the place where I started (more or less) and not sure about how safe it really is anymore or whether I truly belong there. Don’t get me wrong, I vastly prefer it out here to back in captivity, but I’m uncertain about what to do and where to go next. I guess I’m just going to have to put my focus on the first half of the “patient patient” moniker while I move away from the second, and see what this crazy, complicated, contradictory, unpredictable, and ever-interesting universe throws my way next.