The 3 things slowing down after surgery has taught me
... and 5 book reviews (because I had time to read)!
I thought about making the subject of this edition “A funny thing happened on the way to my hysterectomy …”, but nothing funny happened, I was just nervous and on the verge of tears.
On Tuesday, May 17th, I had a hysterectomy that removed my uterus, both fallopian tubes, my cervix, and an 8cm x 6cm fibroid that we didn’t know about + is likely the source of my crippling monthly pain for the last 3 years.
Since then, I’ve been taking various pain medications every 3 hours while awake, napping as often as possible, reading more books than I ever have in one week, and most importantly, slowing the f*ck down.
If you’re anything like me, you’re probably not great at slowing down. It usually takes an illness or, say, a surgery, to force you to shed the countless menial and minor tasks you do throughout the day (in addition to the truly important ones, like working, exercising, eating … etc.)
… and even then, you try to do a little bit here, a little bit there. Like there’s some invisible guardian watching you and if you’re idle for too long, your self-worth decreases a few points.
The Cult of Busy has indoctrinated most of us since childhood. Something about idle hands being the devil’s plaything, or something.
And as we get older, we’re taught that time is money, and you can rest when you’re dead.
Pretty effective brainwashing for a consumer-driven capitalist society, if you ask me!
I say all this because I’ve “drank the Kool-aid” my entire life and, eventually, you get sick of it … and then you have surgery, are forced to slow down, and quickly realize just how indoctrinated you are.
And other than binging books and nap time, I had a few ah-ha moments this past week …
01: I have my entire life ahead of me
That may sound a bit melodramatic, but now that I’ve had a hysterectomy at 37 (nearly 38 - my birthday is June 11th), I know that with absolute certainty I won’t be having kids … and I can never become pregnant accidentally again.
I never need to worry about if I’d keep the child.
I never need to worry about if I’d have access to abortion if I chose that route again.
I never need to worry about suddenly having tens of thousands of dollars in medical expenses to give birth.
It’s trite to say that when one door closes, another one opens, but it is true.
Now that I never need to devote my energy to anything pregnancy or child-rearing related, I have my entire life ahead of me.
Instead of grasping at a route that is no longer accessible to me (and I didn’t want it anyway), I can mentally and physically MOVE ON!
I can’t begin to describe the physical feeling of relief - the biggest delighted sigh I’ve ever taken. I’m still coming to grips with it and I’m sure I’ll have other insights as time passes.
While the physical pain of the surgery is not gone (I won’t be fully healed until 6+ weeks post-surgery), the ease of reality has begun to set in.
02: Consumption and creativity are a constant cycle
I knew I’d spend the majority of my recovery time reading books.
I love books. I always have, and as a writer of books, it’s hard to not constantly compare yourself to others + drown in a sea of never-ending ideas.
But as I’ve focused more on reading this year, in conjunction with moving my memoir project forward, I’ve found that I can consume incredible books without perpetually worrying that my next book won’t measure up.
In the past, I’d read a book and get all kinds of ideas about how to write my new book, what it should be about, how I could tell stories within the narrative … etc.
I’d obsessively highlight, take notes, and try to squeeze every bit of value out of the book I was reading and apply it to my own life - both personally and professionally.
This past week, I read for the sake of reading.
Because I enjoy it.
Because I appreciate the effort the authors put into writing the books.
Because I delight in consuming the creativity of others.
I had no energy, no capacity to work on my own book during this time because I was in a full consumption stage.
Now that I’m further along in my healing, I’m back to work and still reading … not quite ready to begin writing again, but it’s coming soon.
When you slow down (really slow down), you can feel more comfortable in the stage of life’s cycles that you’re in. I was in a healing, consumption stage. I didn’t need to execute, to plan, to be productive in any sense of the word.
And now, I can slowly feel myself progressing into another stage, and in a few weeks, yet another, and on and on.
Because change is constant, no matter the speed. It’s when we try to force that change, to force ourselves to be in a different stage than we’re ready for, that we struggle, and we suffer.
My deep yearning to be creative, to write my memoir, will be back soon. I don’t have to force it and I can enjoy the creativity of others in the meantime. The cycle will continue and anytime I rush my writing, I’m inevitably disappointed in what I capture.
03: You need less than you think
Time will always be the most important asset - for everything else, you need less than you think.
To be healthy and happy, you need less, especially if your calendar is packed to the breaking point.
To move forward, in ANY way, start removing things.
Move towards less to experience more.
📚 Refreshing Books Worth Sipping 📚
Welcome to the new book review section!
Leave a comment + let me know if you’ve read any of these books 🤓
It sometimes feels as if we have temporarily solved the problem of scarcity and replaced it with the problem of excess.
If you’re feeling like there is just TOO MUCH going on - too much news, too much social media, too much drama, too much injustice, too much pain, too many choices … this book will help to bring you back down to Earth (the good parts).
As always, Matt Haig hits right at the nerve center and helps you gain perspective almost instantaneously.
throw away the idea
that healing is forgetting
the real result is no longer
reacting to old triggers
with the same intensity as before
the memories are still there,
but they do not have the
same power over your mind
Much like Matt Haig, Yung Pueblo is an author whose books I will buy immediately - don’t even have to read the premise behind them. Yung’s 3rd book is already on pre-order for me.
Clarity & Connection is his 2nd book and it’s even richer with gems than his first book. Flip to any page and you’ll find an intuitively crafted insight worth pondering.
I think we can all agree that it is healthy to feel “positive” when it comes from a genuine place. But somewhere along the way, we constructed this idea that being a “positive person” means you’re a robot who has to see the good in literally everything.
Sometimes, life sucks. A situation sucks. There is no “bright side.” And that’s OK. We can be with our pain, we can feel it, and we can grow from it … but when toxic positivity comes along and tries to FORCE us to move on before we’re ready or before we’ve truly absorbed the situation … that’s when the suffering stings the most.
While reading through this book, I found some toxic positivity-type phrases and habits that I still have. A refreshing wake-up call that words matter and you don’t have to rush to feel comfortable every second of every day (especially when you’re around others).
There is this idea that you either read to escape or you read to find yourself. I don’t really see the difference. We find ourselves through the process of escaping. It is not where we are, but where we want to go, and all that.
I’ve yet to find another author that writes about depression and anxiety the way Matt Haig does. If you ever wondered if this life was worth sticking around for, Reasons to Stay Alive will give you a clear answer. Yes, yes it is.
Because everyone hates how they look, everyone wants what we don’t have, and everyone is stuck in a cycle of so-called self-improvement that is really self-defeating. Do better, everyone.
Luvvie has one of my all-time favorite Instagram accounts and is truly one of the only reasons I’m still on social media. She is that damn incredible.
Her first of three books absolutely delivers. There is no one quite like Luvvie to give you a come-to-Jesus moment, and nothing is spared from her spectacular honesty: friendships, relationships, family, social media, entrepreneurship, fame … I devoured this book and cackled the whole way through it.