To be.

I am an achiever.

Give me a task, a goal, a problem that you want solved and if you engage me, if it feels right, I’ll jump in and drive and work hard to accomplish the desired outcome way past the time others would endure.  I was reminded of this strength earlier this year as I took a strength assessment with my team at work.  It was my top strength at of all my strengths, which mean it holds the most weight in my life and the one trait you can be sure you will get when working with me.

I like to achieve.  It drives me to do great things.  It drives me to finish long races, take on challenging projects and assignments at work and keep going until they are done.   It is also what pushes me to keep movement forward on my journey of healing.

Being an achiever sure does help accomplish and is a great strength, but it also has its dark side.  In some instances, I don’t know when to stop pushing, driving, going.  I push past the point of pain and hurt myself.  A prime example is when I used to wrap my belly in bandages during the worst time of my stomach problems, to keep my stomach tight, so I could go out and run long runs.  I needed those miles, I needed to feel like I was achieving even if I was really hurting my body and complicating an already yucky situation.  It also rears its head in times when I have given my best and learned the lesson(s) set to be learned in a situation, yet keep pushing to achieve the goal I set out on.  Maybe the goal God had in mind wasn’t what I really set up to do in the beginning, but what I learned along the way, and the achievement is in the learning, yet, I keep pushing.

God is working on this trait in me. He’s given me the grace to see the beauty in it and how to be grateful for its positives, while also challenging it’s dark side.  I am at a time of transition in my life where old things are being stripped and room is being made for the new (exciting and scary), so you can imagine when I heard God say to me, “You be. Let me.” as I prayed through what He wanted me to do, it gave me great confusion.  This statement, which I have sat on for several weeks, meditated with, shared, pondered, is really so freeing, so liberating and so empowering, yet requires such a level of faith (especially for this achiever) that it gave me great pause.

You be. Let me.

There is so much trust wound up in this command, this invitation, this promise.  There is so much freedom, so much release, so much faith.

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I have prayed for years that God would increase my faith, guide me, lead me to places I wouldn’t go on my own and give me trust.  I feel like he is inviting me into this in a new way.  I am so grateful and I am so saying yes.  Yes, to stopping the list of things I can do. Yes, to not trying to figure out alternatives to achieve what I want, when things aren’t going my way.  Yes, to trusting that there is a big, beautiful plan that I couldn’t even accomplish it I gave it my best.

For today, no writing lists of next steps, scheming of how things should and will go in this transition or even deep prayers of asking for specifics.

Instead I release, I let go, I be.

How healing.

In health and healing,

SeraFiana

I believe…

What do you believe about each new day?

I have realized that for me, if I don’t chose my thoughts, life choses default thoughts that don’t serve me well.

Due to this, each morning, before my day gets away from me, I write truths to guide me through the day.  These short, yet powerful statements, encourage, inspire and confirm for me grounding beliefs that lead me through the day and my life.

I thought I would share a truth I wrote from this week along with a beautiful picture of fall in Virginia that was captured at dinner this week.  I love watching the trees changing, the seasons moving and remembering that life is all about seasons and change.  I am learning to lean into and accept change, honor it and embrace it in a new way.  Today, I believe that change is good and healing and freeing.

I hope it gives you encouragement, inspiration and grounding too!

In health and healing,

Sera Fiana

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Called me higher 

This song has been leading me through the past few weeks.  

It’s been the anthem that has encouraged me to get up one more time and do that thing that scares me.

It’s reminded me that when things aren’t making sense to me that to Him it’s all part of the plan. I can lean into trust in a new way.

It reminds me when I notice my heart changing and my mind sharpening that He has me by the hand, changing me, leading me, calling me higher.

I want to be changed from the inside. Not safe.

I’m not here to live safely. 

I have been called higher, deeper.

I will go where you lead me, Lord.

Watch here:  Called Me Higher

I hope you can rest and meditate in this song. It’s been over a dozen times for me and I’m still hearing new things each time.

In health and healing,

Sera Fiana

Staying.

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I like to run.

If you have followed me for a while you know I often train for and run races, but you might not know that I also often run in life from conflict and discomfort.  I’m human and I bet you can relate and do similar things too.   I run or  avoid difficult situations, especially at work and with relationships.  I can get uncomfortable when others have differing of opinions, or when they do not see things my way or, God forbid, offer me helpful, critical feedback that I do not agree with (or do not want to hear).

When I am uncomfortable or in a situation that points out a weakness of mine, like being selfish, self-centered, creating my own stories in my head, my go to is to leave, escape, ignore, exit or blame the other person of who is, clearly at fault.  I know this is not who I want to be.  I want to be someone who can stay and feel and navigate through these situations because I’ve stayed enough times to know that incredible beauty and growth lies on the other side of staying.

Gratefully, I identified this character flaw in myself years ago and I set out to work on getting better at not running.

So, as you can imagine I have been given lots of test of discomfort to see how my “working on it” has been going.

Result: I still run a lot, but I also stay a lot more than I used to.

I got another chance to stay recently.  Here’s how it went.

My beau and I were on the phone talking our love coo’s like we do every night.  But the cooing was not so loving and the energy was zapped from our convo because I decided just before he called to start cleaning out of my closet the clothes that currently are not fitting me and have not for about 1 year (thank you, thyroid).  I feel a bit ashamed about it and embarrassed (which is for another post).  I still want to feel beautiful and wear the clothes I cannot.  In the moment, I did not clearly realize how this was effecting me, but I can now.

Lover asked how my day was.

Poor, Lover.

I was cleaning out a closet of beautiful clothes I wanted to wear but could not because I cannot get the zippers to shut and I’d had a frustrating day of work.

My response was something like, “Terrible, I am a failure, I can’t even lose weight, I eat right, I am exercising, I am paying so much money for so many vitamins, I am meditating, I was home by myself all day (I hate working at home by myself some days). My life is a mess and it is never going to get better.”  And it probably ended with, haven’t I been through enough.  Poor me.

Lover, being the mature man that he is said why don’t we stop this convo and prioritize it for the weekend.  He’s so mature.

We got off.  I cried in my pity pool.

Saturday night at dinner I said, hey, lets talk about our convo this week.  (Side note:  My hope was that he was going to fix my unhappiness and make all the above better – not sure how, but I though he could some how be the hero. Enter setting him up for failure.)

He proceeds to share with me that he is challenged by my negativity, he is fearful of how far down the spiral I can go and fearful of me dragging him with me and sabotaging all the great things we are doing when I am in those moments.  He said he feels like he can’t help me at all when I am there.

Wow.

When he said that I felt like a wind of I gotta get the hell out of here blew in and certainly had to take me out of my seat and anywhere but there.

Hearing the man I love, the steady, supportive, knows me better than anyone man say that made me feel like crap.

So, I didn’t say anything.  I shut up and shut down.

I started to think of any and everything I could to hurt him back.  I wanted to spit mean words back in his face.

I began to conceive ways of how I could join that wind and get the heck out. How could I leave and get somewhere else?

I analyzed what he said in my head and realized what he really said was, I am the most negative person he knows, all my failures in my entire life are because I am negative, I am not able to lose the weight because I am negative, my career is not going where I want because I am negative.  (I was so grateful my mind confirmed all the things he meant to say, but did not say.)

And then I prayed.  I said Jesus, I need you here because I don’t know what to do.  And I said it again. and again.

We went home.  I stayed silent.  I knew the right thing to do, but I just could not do it.   I knew I needed to apologize and share what I was really feeling.

I fantasized about leaving again.

And then, I muttered, “You embarrassed me.  What you said embarrassed me and I am ashamed that I get negative. I know we have things to be grateful for and I don’t know how I forget about it in those moments.  I want to get better.”

And he said, “I agree. We can work on that together.”

What?!  He’s so mature.

I walked away, read a devotional that shared with me that “gratitude is a practice,” it isn’t something that just happens, it’s a practice that we have to work at.  My light bulb went off.  I needed that right in that moment.

I wasn’t a failure.  I just needed to practice a bit more.  I could practice looking at all I did have – great health, an awesome boyfriend, loving family, a place I love to live – and stop dragging myself into the things I feel aren’t where I want them to be.

Thank you, God.  Thank you for showing up.

After digesting that truth and writing a bit on it.  I walked back to the couch, curled up beside the man I love, with the fireplace burning, and said I love you, I’m sorry.  He thanked me for sharing and held me as we snuggled in and watched tv.

I knew then something shifted for us because he chose to give me honest feedback (which I have been begging for, by the way) and I chose to stay when he offered it (even when it wasn’t wrapped just the way I wanted to receive it).

I was reminded how beautiful and hard it is to stay and how many times I escaped by numbing, eating too much, not eating at all or running too long or creating a big dramatic lie about what was going on and how horrible the other person is.

I’m glad I have the tools now and relationship with God to stay because I grew so much from that.  I learned that I don’t die on the other side of staying, I don’t melt away into a shame-filled ball of nothing, I don’t get smooshed by the other person and become their “less-than.”  I actually become stronger and more able and more filled with love.

And so, I stay.

And I hope I’ll be brave enough to do it again.

Here is the love note I wrote to myself the next day because I need to be reminded of the love.

Dear Sera,

What an awesome experience.   You received feedback on your attitude and you stayed.  He was honest and shared with you.  He opened up with you.  You weren’t awesome with the feedback.  You took it and acted immature for awhile, but then, but then you realized that you were trying to run, you were trying to escape.  You realized that the feeling of rejection and being a bad person was not true.  You realized you were in the game and then you stayed.  You were not perfect in apologizing, but you stayed and your tried.  You thanked for the feedback and suggested ways to try to get better.  You asked God into the situation. You wrote.  AND THEN YOU WENT BACK.  You told ego to hit the road and you went back and let him love you and loved him.  You did not run, you did not eat, you did not lie in your head, you did not hurt him back because he hurt you.  You learned that gratitude is a practice. and accepted that you could practice it a bit more.  You learned that this is what he has been saying about how he wants to communicate and you are now practicing it.  You learned that you do look at life negatively sometimes and it is pretty important to figure out how to be happy.  Being happy whenever things are in your control is not really happiness.  It’s not the game you’re in for.  The game you’re in for the ring you were in yesterday and I am proud of you for staying and listening and learning.
 
Love you,
Me
Here’s to staying.
In health and healing,
Sera Fiana

What I wish I knew when I got a cancer diagnosis.

I never would have been able to write this post 6 years ago when I was first diagnosed with a desmoid tumor because I had no idea what I was getting into.  It has been a journey.  I would not change my experience as it has shaped me into who I am today.  If I can help someone else starting out, here is what I now know about being diagnosed with a chronic disease, whether cancer or thyroid (as I’ve used the same advice with my hypothyroidism) or another chronic illness, I needed the same advice for all the Dx’s I have heard.

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What I wish I knew then, that I know now:

This is going to be a scary journey and there will be many moments that you are going to feel very alone.  It is confusing and you will feel inadequate.  Most likely, you will not know what your diagnosis means (for a while – maybe forever) or what to do.  That’s normal.  You will learn what you need to over time.  You will learn from reading, you will learn from googling, you will learn from friends and family in the medical field, you will learn from survivors and support groups and those that can say “me too” – you’ll mostly learn from them.  You’ll learn from your doctors.

The truth is, you are never alone and you are not inadequate.  You have all you need, always.

It will be a lot of new feelings, new information, new experiences.  Take it one day at a time.  One day will be great and one will be so horrible.  Trust the process, the highs and lows, and accept both days.  Accept that you are right where you’re supposed to be at all times.

It is going to take a lot longer than you think.  You will have these crazy ideas that you are going to just solider through and you need things to get back to normal – now.  Not true.  This is going to take a while.  The surgery recovery, the right dose of that medicine, that pain pill, the balance of your body back, the emotional healing.  It is going to take time.  Good news is, you have the rest of your life, sweet child.  The truth is, life is forever changed.  (And that is not always bad.)

The truth is, taking your time actually can make the process shorter.  

Don’t start your treatment until you are ready.  It doesn’t matter if the doctor is the “best rated” most “qualified” or the specialist that your trusted family doctor (that has known you forever) sent you to, if YOU do not feel comfortable, if it does not feel right, wait.  Find another opinion.  Move forward when you know, in your gut, it is right.  Pushing forward too soon just causes a lot of emotional and potentially physical challenges in the future.  Trust that the right doctor will come because they will.

Take the support and love you get from friends, family, co-workers.  It will come gushing at first, when everyone finds out you are experiencing this, and be a bit overwhelming.  Say thanks and take your alone time as you need it, but lean on those people when you start going through treatment and when you get low and when you get scared and when you think you just can’t do it anymore.  Don’t sit alone for one minute and think you are wrong or bad or can’t do this.  Reach out and email, call, text your friends.  Seriously, do it.  They love you and they will make you feel so much better.  Remember, you are not alone.

Create a team.  You need more than your doctor or specialist.  This is a journey.  Mind, body, spirit – all involved.  The sooner you realize how spiritual healing is, the better.  There are so many people who can support your journey.  I wish I knew this from the start (although I may not have engaged the idea at first).  I learned.  Here are some of the players you might want to include.  I did:

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Naturopathic ND’s can make vitamin and supplement recommendations based on deficiencies and symptoms, as well as give diet and lifestyle recommendations.  Different ND’s focus on different things.  I personally go to Dr. Ian Bier in NH  http://www.humannaturenaturalhealth.com/Dr-Bier

Imagery Coach Guided imagery can help prepare you for surgery through visualization and meditation.  It can also help calm nerves, anxiety and help you see the process in a new way.  My life changed with Bob S. at http://www.theinwardeye.com

Nutritionist/Health Coach – If your ND does not help you get your diet right, go to a functional nutritionist.  They will help.  I love Sue R at Roselle Healing in VA:  http://rosellecare.com

Physical Therapist/Personal Trainer – I have used both and they have been invaluable to getting me strong and minimizing/eliminating my pain.  I did not know how to move right in my body post-surgery.  Moving was all new and I over compensated when I ran, sat, walked, drove.  It caused me a lot of pain.  These folks get it right.  It’s hard to find a good one, but make sure you interview and don’t settle.

Life Coach – Sick or well, life coaching has helped my life so much.  My coach has helped me create meaning, drive me towards my dreams and give me focus and guidance instead of living in regret of hang ups or bad habits.  They helped me re-tell my cancer story into a powerful one.  They helped me change jobs when I realized that life was so much more after my diagnosis.  They lead me to heal relationships with friends and family.  They helped me clean up so many bad traits. I highly recommend http://www.handelgroup.com  Life changers.

Acupuncture – If you have pain, acupuncture can work wonders. If you have digestive problems, sleep problems, emotional problems, pretty much any problem, acupuncture works.  My go-to is in Philly and she has been so hard to replace with my move south.   If in Philly, I recommend Kara  at http://www.healingwithease.net

You can find all of the above practitioners close to you.  If you want to know how comment or message me and I’ll share.  I’m a pro at finding doctors.  Seriously, its my job.

Most importantly….

It is all spiritual.  I heard this when I first started this journey, but had no idea what that meant and wasn’t ready to engage religion, which is what I thought spirituality meant.  Through my journey I have found a religion that I believe in.  That might not be the answer to you right now, but I highly recommend accepting that this is spiritual.  It’s all spiritual.  This was a journey for me, I had to start just understanding that what was going on was bigger than me, that I could trust in guidance, that I knew there were connections and ah-ha’s that were happening that did not make sense.  I began to engage the unknown and slowly God began to reveal Himself to me, slowly I began to understand this “greater than me,” and, gratefully, I began to build this powerful relationship.  I started by just praying and praying and praying (having no idea what that meant) and then I started getting answers.  My suggestion – just open up, talk to that “greater than you” feeling you might get (that is called praying) and you’ll begin to get response.  Repeat when you don’t think you are hearing whispers or repeat if you never think you hear anything or have no idea what I am talking about.  You will.

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Mom and I in the hospital after my second surgery in 2008.

 

I wish I’d knew how much cancer was going to grow and change me when I started.  It has been the most challenging days of my life and some of the most brilliant.  I have soared and I have crumpled into a crying ball.  I would not change it because I can’t.  I wish I would have known that when I started – that the big beautiful mess of this journey would be my journey and it would help me find myself and heal beyond anything I knew I needed healing of.

In health and healing,

Sera Fiana

To be seen…here and there.

While I was away, I held onto quite a few “drafts” in this blog that haven’t been posted.  See, I never stop writing.  I just stop posting.  I am a writer.  It is what heals me.  It doesn’t really help to hold onto drafts when you’re trying to free your words and your story, so today I release one of those drafts.  I think its important to release before I get “there.”  Call it poetry, call it a brain dump, call it what you will, but it was my truth one day in the last few months and so I wrote – and I just learned so much from reading it again today.  I hope you do too.

In health and healing,

Sera

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To be seen…here and there

I’ve told myself I couldn’t be seen until I looked right, until my idea is right, until I get “there.”

I’ve told myself that the scale has to be a certain number until I am worthy, until I am “healthy,” until I can show up, until I can be seen.

I’ve held onto amazing ideas and projects until their death because they just weren’t “there,” not ready, just yet.

In fact, I have 8 draft posts sitting ready for this blog, just waiting to be “there.”

The challenge is, in 33 years, for many things, I’ve never gotten “there.”  I’ve gotten “closer,” but I’ve never fully gotten “there” to that place I was supposed to be.

Who defined that place?

Who got to decide what it looks like?

How comforting for me that not being perfect or “there” keeps me from trying, flying, soaring, laughing, living, being present, feeling, loving, engaging, trying, exploring, being seen at all.

I don’t have to be vulnerable if I’m not “there” because until  you’re “there,” you can hide here.  I can hide in the background, in the fear, in the pain, in the comforting discomfort.  It’s like a fuzzy blanket that keeps me warm and fools me into believing that by staying wrapped up in it just a little longer I will feel better.  Although I know that what feels really great is throwing off the cover and showing up in life.  It is an intimate, real and loving conversation with a friend, a sweet moment of laugher with the man I love, the sweat on my brow after a long run.  It’s the excitement I feel after a hard job is done and the realization of the lives it impacted.

Somehow, even though I know that, I stay here longer than I want.  Waiting to go there.

Things just aren’t aligned yet. I’m not pretty enough. I’m not smart enough.  I’m not ready enough.  They don’t want to hear about it yet.  But, when I get there.  Oh, when I get there.  When the scale says the number I want.  When the idea is fully formed.  When the words are flowing like a river so easily.  When the people I need in my life are organized just so. Oh, when I get there.

I will be loved.  I will be seen.  People will look at me and see me and appreciate me and say, look, there she is.  I can start my future then.  I will be inspired to write my book then.  Oh, when I get there.

I will have my power then.

And then Truth tells me,

Sweet child,  “there,” that doesn’t exist.

There isn’t real.

Here is.

Be seen here, now.

Because it’s a beautiful, real life here that you might just miss living in the pretend of there.

 

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