I am a Type A personality – competitive, an overachiever, ambitious, impatient. Anything that slows me down or keeps me from getting things done irks me. Waiting in long lines, rambling meetings with no purpose, cumbersome processes — these are things that drive me nuts. Over the past few years, as I have grappled with first one, then two and now three cancers, I have noticed a significant shift in my personality. I have been forced by the universe to learn to be more patient, more Zen-like, more relaxed, more accepting.
I notice this particularly in my work-out regimen. Each time I enter Goodlife Fitness, I brace myself, take a breath and park my Type A personality at the door. I am definitely the worst in the workout classes. I don’t follow instructions very well and more times than not, do exactly the opposite of what the instructor wants me to do. If I am supposed to lift my right leg, I will invariably lift my left leg. Thank goodness, I am not an octopus, otherwise God knows what leg I would raise! I have no style when it comes to working out. Nothing comes gracefully. Everything is painfully inelegant. And it doesn’t matter how many times I go to a fitness class, I don’t seem to get any better. I am the one that the teacher will call out most in the class because I am not displaying the right form. I have noticed that strangers in the class will often show me what I am supposed to do because they notice I am not doing it correctly. In one situation, an individual figured I did not speak English so I could not understand the instructor. Each visit to the gym is a humbling experience for me.
In the past, I don’t think I would have handled this embarrassment very well. I would not even try If I could not be the best. Perhaps it was being a perfectionist. Perhaps it was ego. This time, though, its different. I have become somewhat addicted to working out and love how I look and feel after. My Aqua Fitness instructor commented that I have a smile from ear-to-ear from the time I start the workout until the end of it. And she’s right. Somehow, somewhere along the way, I am okay with being the worst in my class, not comparing myself to others and not worrying about how others see me. I now focus on competing with myself and being just a little bit better each day. What is more important to me is that I am in the game, trusting my body and doing what feels right for me. In the process, I have become more accepting and understanding of others.
Cancer is a hard taskmaster. It is a gift that comes wrapped in a barbed wire. When I look back, I regret how many times I hesitated doing something because I knew I would never be the best at it. Today I no longer stay in this safe zone. I throw caution to the wind, let loose and let myself have fun. I dance every morning even though I have no rhythm. I cook for the heck of it. I try new things all the time. When there is no fear of failure, life expands exponentially. I wish this is a lesson I had learned a long time ago – what might have been possible for me? Now I am more than making up for past hesitations. Life is a theatre and I have decided to live in the front row of my life.