Hello everyone, and happy autumn!
The new-look blog is still in development (as is the house move) but I wanted to pop in today and tell you about a fantastic new book, Thrive: The Bah! Guide to Wellness After Cancer
This is Stephanie Butland’s second book about her dance with cancer and follows on from the excellent How I said Bah! to Cancer, which was published last year.
Like its predecessor, Thrive is packed full of humour, advice and practical exercises designed to help readers take ownership of their bodies and achieve wellness. As well as providing an invaluable resource for anyone who is dealing with cancer, or helping a loved one to deal with it, Stephanie offers a thoughtful guide to the ways in which anyone can ‘journey well’ through life. I asked her to tell me a little more.
Hi Stephanie! You write about the power of language and its ability to influence mood and outcomes, what do you try to say to yourself each day?
I usually start with the expectation that today will be a good day. Whenever anyone asks me how I am I try not to do ‘finethankyou’. Instead I say, ‘I’m very, very well,’ and as I say it I make the effort to feel the truth of it through my whole body and mind. And whenever I go in to a meeting/event/talk I think of three words that reflect how I want to be, and repeat them to myself, in my head, over and over on the way. So today I’m going to talk to an expert on fertility as part of the research for my first novel, and my words will be ‘Attentive. Curious. Focused.’ Tomorrow I’m giving a talk and I’ll use ‘Engaging. Interesting. Attuned.’
I love the idea that people can be stronger at the points where they have previously been broken. Do you feel that your dance with cancer has revealed your inherent strengths, or has it required you to develop new ones?
Ooh. Great question. By and large, I feel that my dance with cancer has made me ‘more myself’ – the real me got stronger, the stuff I was carrying around with me that I didn’t need has gone. But there are a couple of areas where I have had to learn to do things differently. The first is understanding that some things are out of my control: cancer treatment does what it does and healing takes the time that it takes and so – although of course I got to choose my attitude and look after myself – I just had to take a deep breath and let go of my desire to plan, and impose a timetable, and generally be in charge. And the second, linked to that one, is learning to be patient, something I’ve never been good at. Knitting has taught me a lot about that: little stitch by little stitch by little stitch, you’ll get something worth waiting for.
I really enjoyed the exercise which asks readers to map their journey to wellbeing. What landmarks would you like to add to your own map over the next few years?
I have several big landmarks in place already! Next year, Alan and I will celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary: we are so happy together, and I can’t believe a decade is going by so fast! In November 2013, I will reach remission date – 5 years after the operation to remove the cancer from my breast, I get as near to the all-clear as anyone who has had a cancer ever gets. In 2014, my first novel, ‘Surrounded By Water’, will be published by Transworld, to be followed in 2015 by ‘Breaking Bread’. My son Ned, who is 18, is planning to study in Canada, so Toronto will have a prominent place on my map too!
Thanks to Stephanie for taking the time to talk to me today, and for supplying a wonderful photo of her hand-knitted mittens – both she and they are totally gorgeous.
Thrive is a brilliant read, packed full of questions that will be helpful to anyone who has gone through a major life-change or just wants to reassess the way in which they approach their health. If you would like to set new goals, feel stronger, audit your relationships, find a better way of dealing with anger, say thank you or learn to fill your own well then this is the book that can help you do it.
Autumn is a time for new starts after all!