With everything that has been happening in my life the last few years, I have been asked, “How do you keep it all together?”
Am I to walk around on a daily basis with my head down, not being able to notice the world moving around me? Am I to crawl in a dark hole and not come out until all this suffering is over? My answer is simple. “No.” Life is too precious to have that outlook.
Many wonderful people are in the same situation I am in. They may find themselves in a slump. Maybe they were just diagnosed with cancer or another disease. Maybe they lost someone they love. Maybe these hardships are just piling up one after another.
I have a few tips to share that I use when I need to climb my way out.
Spend time with the ones you love
My family – I have always been family driven. My family was a top priority to me growing up. Having my own family unit one day, as my dad would tell you, was my goal in life from the first grade. All I ever wanted to be was a mom. Here, I sit with a beautiful nine-year-old daughter. One look at her and I know I’m doing things right. Spending time with my family often brings a smile to my face. They provide me many hours of storytelling and laughter.
My friends – Spending time with my friends is an easy way to cheer me up. These visits, for me, are often far and few in between because of our busy lives. However, finding those people with similar interests, those with similar sarcastic mentalities, and who are just down right fun to be with can change my mood from 0 to 60 in three seconds flat.
Throw yourself into a passion
I have two hobbies I am passionate about. Each of them are different and at opposite ends of the spectrum. I recently ventured back to my creative side. Anytime I can pick up a paintbrush, I know I will be able to lose myself in my creation. My mind clears, my heart slows, and my mood lifts. I have no idea why I didn’t pick this up sooner. Even when I head outside with my daughter to enjoy the sidewalk chalk medium, I find myself being able to breathe easier as the stress of the day lifts.
Can charity work be considered a hobby? I know it does for me. I have been throwing myself into fundraising for cancer well before I, myself, received a cancer diagnosis. When I’m focused on other’s needs, then I know I’m not going to focus on the issues I’ve been having. I also know that making a difference in someone else’s life is by far the most rewarding hobby I can think of.
Escape from reality
We all would like to escape from reality every now and then. I have my daily escapes when I read a book. I can throw myself into the characters role. I can feel their sympathy and pain. I can feel their excitements and triumphs. It takes me out of my own life and implants me right into the book. It’s one of the best daily escapes I can think of.
If there is ever a time I need to really escape from life, I head to the hills. Being one with nature, listening to the birds chirp, taking in the flowers growing in the meadow, or feeling the breeze blow through my hair is one way I know that I can just sit back and relax. I might eventually come to a conclusion if one is needed. But most of the time, I know it is something that is just needed for the soul.
Give it to God
If I could give you one piece of advice during a difficult situation it would be this one. Give it to God. I have had many issues this past year and have found myself fretting over the details. My mind was totally consumed with what was happening. I often wondered if it could be another cancer causing these health issues. What would happen to me if it was? How would my daughter react? I want to be here for the long term, but should I start planning special moments and gifts if I’m not? By the end of the third day I was in tears. I couldn’t live like that anymore. I prayed and gave it to God. I knew he had a plan and I just had to trust in that plan. The next morning, I awoke to a clear mind. I was ready for whatever the day threw my way. All I ever needed was just to trust Him to see me through.
Angela Banker is a mother, a wife, a daughter, and a sister; she is also a young survivor, a caregiver, a supporter, and a fighter. She was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 33, and found herself empowered to share her story to raise awareness about breast cancer. Angela participates in Relay For Life, started the Sisters Beating Breast Cancer page to inspire others, and continues to "fight like a girl" with the hope that her daughter will never have to hear the dreaded words, "You have cancer."