Today, I’m excited to kick off a new series which combines two of my passions. Welcome to the “The Survivor’s Nest!”
Fifteen years ago, I had a two-year old daughter, another child on the way and a job as in-house counsel for an insurance company. I’d like to say that I left that job to raise my two children, but the truth is that I didn’t go back after my son was born because I wanted something more from my career – not less. I wanted to find a career that spoke to my creative side, my ability to work well with people and my attention to detail. While I used those skills during my 12-year practice as an attorney, there was one thing missing. I needed passion.
I found that passion in interior decorating. Over the past 14 years, I’ve worked with wonderful clients creating homes that swaddle them in comfort, ease and elegance. Over and over again, I’ve seen how important it is to create a soft place to land at the end of a day. I’ve seen how the right environment helps a mind recharge, reflect and return to its more human self. I’ve heard the exhale and long slow breath that celebrates the nest’s nurturance.
Who deserves to feather their nest more than the cancer survivor? During the diagnostic and treatment phases, there is no time or energy left for anything other than dealing with cancer. But little by little, you get stronger and stronger and yearn to reclaim your most intimate places from the intruder. For me, discovering yoga, meditation and rediscovering writing, helped me regain control over my body and mind. Nesting re-establishes security, scrubs away sickness and reclaims the sanctuary which is your home.
Back in March, I found an article in Country Living magazine about painter Kolene Spicher, who has a husband, three sons, a successful business, and ovarian cancer. I was touched by Kolene’s story as both a decorator and a cancer survivor. Kolene spends most of her time painting in her home studio, which looks out on the Susquehanna River Valley in Pennsylvania. Although her business produces art for catalogs like Pottery Barn and Ballard Designs, she simplifies her days so as not to exhaust herself. She credits her illness, which she’s had for most of her adult life, with amplifying “her desire to surround herself with beauty, in her work and in her home.”
Kolene’s story reminds me of something told to me by my friend, who was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer and underwent chemotherapy, bi-lateral mastectomies with saline implant reconstruction and radiation. She mentioned how important it was to throw away the comforter on her bed after the worst of her treatment was over. To her, that comforter was a symbol of those many horrible weeks of sickness in her bedroom and she couldn’t re-establish a healthier and happier life within its walls until it was gone.
One of the most important gifts of cancer I’ve discovered is the realization of how important it is to nurture myself. That sustenance begins at home. As T.S.Eliot said, “Home is where one starts from.”
In honor of my friend, next week The Survivor’s Nest will focus on making your bed into the haven you deserve. If you have any questions or ideas for other areas to talk about at The Survivor’s Nest, please let me know. It’s your nest, make it a refuge from the rest of the world and a launching pad for your life beyond cancer.
Survival > Existence,
Image courtesy of Louise Leclerc