Dear Ms. Doyle: I'm a cancer survivor, and I'm so glad to be here. Now that I'm better, I'm more conscious than ever of the need to be good to myself; it takes time and effort for me to stay healthy and well. But I worry about spending too much of my free time focused on me. How do you draw that line?
Dear Number One:
I am delighted that you have prevailed over your illness. Your survival is wonderful for you and for those who love you. It also benefits me because you have asked such a good question. Therein lies the heart of my answer: what is good for you is good for the rest of us.
Are you worrying because friends are complaining you’re not available to them? If so, I encourage you to avoid thinking of your free-time choices as between either *me* or *not me*. How exclusive or inclusive do you want to be with your free time at this point in your recovery? (This will probably change over time). What do your efforts to stay healthy include? Menu planning and meal preparation? Exercise? If this is the case, is there a way to share those activities with friends and family members?
Are you missing some of your pre-illness, free-time activities? If so, I encourage you to re-incorporate into your schedule, if at all possible, those activities that give you pleasure. This will bring you health too!
Recently, my favorite two-year-old was served his milk (just for fun) from a silver cup. As he drained his cup, he was surprised to see his reflection in the bottom, and said delightedly, “Alexander is in there!” I tell this story because I want you to be like Alexander: delighted to find yourself wherever you are. No matter how you are spending your free time, if you are enjoying yourself, you will be healthier, and that will make the rest of us happy, too.