I am having a good day, so I thought I would share about something I started doing proactively before I started chemo to help with the bad days when I want to give up dance (and yes, there have been a few of those over the last 6 months).
It has turned out to be such a good thing I intend to keep up with it even after I finish treatment.
I call it my ‘Book of Positives’. It is a black notebook with a quote from Winston Churchill on the front ‘Never, never, never give up’ (which seemed more than fitting for me).
It has some rules:
1. I can only write positive things about dance. No negatives, even if the day was terrible and everything went wrong.
2. When I can, and as much as possible, I write in it right after practice or a lesson before I go home, so everything is fresh.
3. Every once in a while I give it to Boss to read to validate what is written there.
4. My goals are written on the front inside cover, and the first page is everything I had achieved up until then.
The rules seem simple, but it is interesting how they came about.
The first rule is basically why the book exists. I have always been a positive person, but when I get frustrated sometimes things go downhill fast. I wanted something to remind me of all the good things I have been able to do, and to let myself know that even when it seems like I am not making any progress, I really am. It’s hard some days to write something positive, and a couple days all I have to say is ‘I got through my lesson and practice today without giving up’. But it’s enough. Not writing negatives means I never have negatives to dwell on.
Rule 2 I started implementing in the middle of treatment when I got sick because I realized I had been lax on writing in the book and it therefore wasn’t able to help me. Since then I have written something after almost every day I dance. Looking back it is interesting to see the progress I record and the pattern that emerges for how I work through things. It takes about 1 month for something to start to feel ‘natural’ so I can dig into it deeper. Never knew that before.
Rule 3 I implemented from the beginning. Boss has read it 3 times now. The reason is simple–it’s one thing for me to write a whole bunch of positive things about dance. It’s another to know that Boss has read it and can agree. That gives it validation for me on days when I am sure I must be just kidding myself. His only comment on it has been ‘pretty positive’. I was surprised he took the time to actually read it through–I don’t even need him to, I just need to know he saw it. Like getting teacher to sign your homework 🙂
Rule 4 was Boss’s idea. So in the front are my basic goals–to dance through chemo, to be able to dance all my routines on my own, and what I am focusing on in both latin and standard. At some point I will find a way to mark and re-evaluate. Probably when treatment finishes or I move to gold or both. But it is good to know what I have done, what I hope to do and to have it written so clearly.
Boss was actually the inspiration for the book. He often complained to me that he found I was always focusing on the negative things and never on the positive things I have achieved. After my last competition, I realized where the disconnect was–it wasn’t that I was focusing on the negatives–it was that it was the negatives I felt necessary to discuss with him. I knew what I had done that was positive and was able to congratulate/pat myself on the back for it. When I saw negatives, I wanted to know what the plan was to turn them into positives.
That got me thinking, especially looking ahead to chemo and knowing there were going to be some really really bad days. So I did 2 things–I bought and started my ‘Book of Positives’, and I wrote an email to myself and sent it to Boss and asked him to keep it for me and to send it back if things got really bad. The email was just to remind myself to stay positive and remember that cancer and treatment wasn’t going to last forever and that I will always have danced to inspire me and to remind me to focus on that and trust Boss and accept his support.
Both turned out to be good ideas. The book I still keep and it is starting to fill up. The email, Boss was able to send at a point where the side effects and everything made it seem like I couldn’t do anything any more.
It’s interesting what you discover when you don’t even realize you are looking for it.
2 treatments left, lesson tomorrow in Smooth–first one!!