“I learned this, at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”
~Henry David Thoreau
For the last week and a half my husband and I have been having an incredible adventure here in New Orleans. When I was not sitting in radiology at Ochsner-Kenner Medical Center, we were hitting the town. We rummaged through kitschy bookshops, perused unique gift shops, and enjoyed two relatively pricy dinners at the local restaurants. It has been so much fun! In addition to the adventures in the “Big Easy,” I have learned something about myself that I never expected…my house is causing my illness to flare.
Up until this point, I really thought I had found the dream house. It has a small, functional kitchen with dark granite countertops and a great
work triangle; first floor master bedroom and bath; first floor laundry; formal dining room; office; and all hardwood floors. This house is everything I thought I wanted in a home; however, the upkeep has been getting rather difficult with my multiple health issues and I find myself under continual stress trying to manage everything. There have been days when I’ve just sat on the couch, wiped out from fighting this stupid cancer, and choking back tears as I look at the tufts of dog hair wafting across the floor like tiny tumbleweeds, the sunlight reflecting a soft layer of white dust on all the dark furniture, and the dirty footprints that seem to suddenly appear on dark hardwood floors as if by magic. To be quite honest, its becoming more than I can bear.
So, now here I am, over a week in our 37′ travel trailer, and I can honestly say that I have not been this relaxed since my diagnosis of neuroendocrine cancer over twenty months ago. At first I really dreaded this trip, anyone who has gone camping
knows how much work it can be and, depending on the trip, one may need a vacation from the vacation. I had just taken for granted that this would be more of the same. I think the realization came to me when I sat, I mean literally sat, down to make a gourmet meal for my husband and me in our tiny kitchen. I just pulled one of the stools into the kitchen, plopped down, and began working on the recipe. I could sit smack in the middle of the kitchen and reach everything I needed without having to move. It was simply glorious! The best thing? I was not drop dead exhausted afterward; I even had the energy to do the dishes!
Based on this experience I am seriously beginning to rethink my idea of the American dream. Is it really a “dream” if it causes pain, anxiety, and depression? Is it worth forcing myself to clean if I know its going to result in spending the next few days with insufferable fatigue? Honestly, I used to think so. One of my passions is cooking and I have amassed quite a collection of cookbooks ranging from vegan to gourmet and, before I got sick, I loved to spend hours in the kitchen experimenting. Now, my “dream” kitchen is preventing me from being able to enjoy this hobby and I’ve walked away almost completely. Here, in this tiny RV, I have the makings of a seriously kicking kitchen that is simple to work in and I have enjoyed cooking for the first time in ages. Here is my space:
I bought into the lie that I needed a big kitchen in order to fulfill my dream, but I am finding that this tiny space works just fine for my needs and Pinterest provides me with more than enough inspiring recipes that I really do not need to keep a massive collection of cookbooks (I cannot believe I am saying this!).
As I sit here and think about my experience over the past few days and how incredibly relaxed I am feeling, it is going to be rather difficult to return to reality when all is said and down here in New Orleans. I am learning so much about myself, what I truly need to be content, and what is truly important in life at this stage in the game. Up until this point, I can say that I have not taken the time to truly live, instead I have been chasing after the dreams society says I should have and attempting to amass the stuff the culture says I need in order to be happy. I can honestly say that life with neuroendocrine cancer is causing me to take a step back, seriously evaluate what is important, and inspiring me to take those first crucial steps to guarantee a stress-free, happy future.