When I first read this Friendly Friday challenge from Sandy Chronicles, I first thought of how much London has changed since I first arrived here in 1995. But then I thought of the biggest change in my life in the recent years and it is not external, but internal. Hence a flashback to time before cancer.
Pictures can lie.
They can hide so many truths. I smiled for the camera, but lived on painkillers.
I might look healthy in pictures before the cancer diagnosis, but inside me a tumour grew and had been growing God knows for how long. It is strange to look back now and think that I worked right up to the day before my surgery.
My then head teacher offered me to take the week off leading to the surgery, but I didn’t want to. Why?
I think it was because it was better – for me at least – to keep my mind busy and not dwell on the surgery and what might come after too much. It was also because my class had an Easter production coming up and I wanted to get them as ready for it as possible.
And I felt gutted that I wouldn’t be there for them when they performed it. My teaching assistant sent me recordings of the performance and they did so well.
I still think I made the right choice to work up to the last day before the surgery, but looking back, my work-life balanced was totally skewed.
I was working crazy hours (like most teachers).
I’m definitely not alone in the teaching profession to have worked ridiculously long days, and bringing work home during the weekends, too.
Many of my colleagues are still working 50 or even 60+ hour weeks. It is this workload and the crazy targets we have that make many talented teachers leave the profession.
The teaching unions have long been stressing the importance of work-life balance and asking for changes. So far nothing really has changed and teachers are still working 12+ hour days.
When I finished my treatments and was well enough to return to work, I knew I wasn’t ever going back to that life. There was no way I would give my work life so much of my time again. I needed to look after number one better. And I knew it wouldn’t happen if I were too exhausted to exercise or cook properly after work.
Cancer woke me up to be grateful.
I am grateful that I have had the opportunity to work part-time. I can dedicate time to what I really want to do, which is writing and cycling. Although the cycling is a more recent discovery :).
I am grateful that I know now to look after myself better, both physically and mentally, and to listen to my body and soul. Cancer made me change my lifestyle for the better. My diet is now healthier, I exercise more, sleep longer and stress less.
I am so grateful that I have another chance. I am grateful that cancer opened my eyes and gave me the thrive to do something different with my life.
Without it, I know beyond any doubt I would still work full time and complain about my life every day. I’d complain, yet not take the steps to change anything.
Thanks to cancer scaring the shit out of me, I now focus my energies on what I enjoy doing. I focus on what gives me a great buzz. And it is so true, when you do what you love, it doesn’t feel like work.
I never feel like, “Damn, I’ve got to write a new blog post today.” Or think, “Bollocks, I have to continue editing my book today.” Writing and cycling both give me joy and I am so grateful I can do both.
I would love to hear from you in the comments.
How has your life changed in the recent years? What was the catalyst for the change?
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