Two scars, two defining moments

A few years ago I got a phone call from my dermatologist to let me know that a mole, on the left side of my torso, was found to be melanoma cancer and that an in-situ surgery would be necessary. I was headed to a Prince concert with friends when I received the phone call. I recall this weird feeling, not knowing how to respond to the news, and still be present to the evening. I went to the concert entrapped in fear and also already questioning life – what does this mean, in the big picture of things? What’s the message here? That evening was the beginning of a long journey of self-discovery and complete re-evaluation of my life choices, including career, relationships, and my freedom. Gratefully, the in-situ surgery was enough to take care of the cancer, even though swollen lymph nodes that appeared under my arm pits soon after caused much stress and worry for a few months.  To navigate the fear, and all the questions I began asking, I hired a life coach.

I started this process of self inquiry with her, writing a vision, answering questions about my relationship to my past, and the usual habits that occupied my time. During the coaching I experienced a shift such that, when heading to the dermatologist for follow-ups I was no longer trapped in fear. I started feeling more in control and began, unbeknown to me, to use my imagination to create scenarios of success. So before heading to the appointment I would read a simple essay, in which I describe the visit being extremely mellow, where my doctor and I shared some good laughs, and the outcome was always that everything was OK. I don’t necessarily attribute the healthy diagnosis to my imagination, but I, 100%, attribute the rather positive experience before, during and after the visits, to this simple exercise when I learned to switch my expectations from ‘what if they find something bad?’ to ‘everything is going to be OK, no matter what.’

I have a big scar on my left torso from this surgery. And it is a reminder of all the wonderful things that I learned from this process, and the person I became from it. Not only was I empowered during these office visits, but I eventually, within a few months, left a career that has never fulfilled my creative expression, even though I had been in it for 15 years! I also ended a relationship with someone who never truly loved me for who I was. This man was critical of my way of being, and judgmental in a way that was leaving my soul shattered and my self-esteem crushed. The career change opened wonderful new doors to me, and helped me come in alignment with my deep values of freedom, deep connections, and self-development. It also helped create a powerful and beautiful network of friends.

Fast forward almost a decade, and I acquired yet another big scar in my body. This time the scar was the result of a scheduled c-section. On January 10, 2016, at 10:08 am my daughter Mia Klara was born, 18 inches, 5 lb and 8 oz. Like for most women, becoming a mother was an incredible defining moment. Similar to finding out that I had cancer, becoming a mother opened up a world of questions – ‘what example do I want to set for my daughter?’, ‘how will I navigate life, work, love, and still be the best mother I can be?,’ ‘how to I avoid repeating the mistakes made by my parents, and my parents’ parents that have been passed on to me?,’am I ready for this?’ And like with cancer, I began recognizing that some things in my life were simply not going to help me get to the places I wanted to go. I also noticed how my imagination could work to hold me hostage in places I did not want to be, or empower me to find the strength and courage to go toward my vision.

Defining moments have this powerful effect in our lives. They open up doors and when we choose to walk-in we see that there is a parallel universe that we can enjoy, if we only choose to say YES, to take that scary step we may have never before contemplated taking. When we properly use our imagination during these defining moments we begin to create a new life, and experience this exponential jumps in performance and joy. What I have learned is that I do not ever name a defining moment ‘good or bad’ – cancer was not bad and birth was not good. They were both wonderful opportunities for growth. Can you re-write how you relate to these defining moments in your own life? What are they? What have you learned? Can you exercise your imagination such that a new future opens up ahead of you, aiming your life-boat in the exact direction you want?

PS: My daughter has a white birth mark on her left torso, exactly in the same place where I have my scar. Life is magical. I see her coming into the world as a full circle of life, where the Karen that began dying after the diagnosis (not literally, but the part of me who died because of cancer) is now completely gone, as I gave birth to this magical being that is my daughter.