Thursday, August 25, 2011

Cancer Journey Mixed Tape - Final Song

Getting chemo, listening to tunes...
While the unknown can be scary, it also contains opportunity...

As I neared the completion of my treatment regimen I began to get extremely anxious about life without bi-weekly visits for chemo. Don’t get me wrong, I was happy to not have to deal with the nausea, bone ache, zapped taste buds, etc. that accompanied recovery, but knowing that the chemo ninjas were not in my blood stream seeking out cancer cells was scary.

In addition to closing out the treatment part of my cancer journey, I had to say goodbye to my old self and let go of some of the aspects of my pre-cancer days that were holding me back from maximizing fulfillment in my life.

The final Song on Roger’s Cancer Journey Mixed Tape is a song about letting go of the past and embracing the infinite possibilities of your future.

Artist: Graham Colton (Link)
Song: There Comes a Time
Album: Pacific Coast Eyes

The first time I heard this song live was at a solo acoustic gig at SPACE in Evanston, IL. I was two thirds of the way through chemo treatment and, lucky for me, the concert was on a non-recovery weekend that also happened to be near my birthday. Erica, my hot wife, hooked us up with a private little table and Graham gave us a glimpse of new songs on his upcoming record.

As a guitar player, I envy Graham’s ability to turn simple chords and melodies into incredibly powerful songs. It also doesn’t hurt that his voice is pretty much money and adds a thick layer of greatness into each tune. Alright, enough man crushing...

Towards the end of my 8 month chemo adventure, the reality that I was no longer going to be constrained by a treatment schedule started to set in and I began to test drive the new me. However, I found it hard (and still do at times) to let go of old, comfortable habits I developed through life. I caught myself wanting to hold on to those old familiar feelings even though I knew they were holding me back from being the best I can be:

Do you feel like your own home is a castle made of sand?
Trying to hold on before it slips right through your hands
You breathe in and breathe out, but the air is stretched so thin
You're thinking it outloud, if you could just get back again
But no one's there...

As a part of the work I did with my whole life coach (Jim Warner) I learned to take a hard look at all aspects of my life, understand how each served me, thank them for taking me this far (even if it was a negative aspect!), decide how to move forward, and commit to it. Going through this exercise was extremely empowering and realigned me with my true self.

Graham’s chorus completely nails how it feels on the backend of this full life analysis:

There comes a time when you realize, the past is over
There comes a time when you decide, that your life has just begun
There comes a time when you will say, that it's undiscovered
There comes a time, there comes a time

I can’t express how excited I am for my future and all I know I can accomplish if I stay true to myself. By doing so it won't matter when my days are done because every day I live until that time comes will be lived on my terms and will add to my life's fulfillment.

"There Comes A Time" is closure rock at its finest. Take a listen and let it help you close out something in your life whose time's come.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Cancer Journey Mixed Tape - Song 6

Getting chemo, listening to tunes...
The phrase “You are in remission” is not one you expect at 31 years old, but I’ll take it.

Cue the smiles, the relief, the thankfulness, the hugs, the celebratory meal at the overpriced lunch place next to my oncologist’s office with my hot wife...

If you can cue it, and it is positive, I am sure we did it.

There were previous times in my life where I thought I had it all like when I won a golf tournament in my youth or when I realized I was smart in college (post HERE). There is truly nothing like having a new lease on life. Even if it was temporary remission, I was - and am - going to make the most of it.

Song #6 on Roger’s Cancer Journey Mixed Tape is an anthem to live by no matter what your circumstances.

Artist: One Republic (Link)
Song: Good Life
Album: Waking Up

A good friend of mine (Luke Westra) turned me on to this song the day after my “you-are-in-remission” appointment with my oncologist. Luke and my relationship got off to a stellar start playing Hootie and the Blowfish covers back in our dorm rooms freshman year in college and we have shared similar musical taste ever since. Needless to say, the song struck a chord with me immediately with the chorus:

This has got to be the good life, this has got to be the good life
This could really be good life, good life
Got this feeling that you can’t fight, like this city is on fire tonight
This could really be a good life
A good, good life

Through my cancer experience I became more and more aware of how I interacted with life. Never before had coffee taste so good as it did after my chemo hangover wore off and my taste buds were back to normal. Nor did I notice how wonderful it was to just be a participant in everyday events like getting the paper off my driveway, having food on my plate, or coming home to a loving family. The mundane details I used to gloss over became vibrant with my senses and I absorbed it all:

When your happy like a fool
Let it take you over
When everything is out
You’ve got to take it in

Pre-cancer I was prone to making excuses for my circumstances or bad things that were happening in my life. A “woe is me approach” that left me playing defense on a daily basis. I sense that this attitude is very present in my and younger generations where we all feel entitled to something and our lives could be better “if only” another force would take pity on us:

We are god of stories
But please tell me
What’s there to complain about?

As I worked on myself through cancer I realized that I was wasting a ton of energy making up excuses and shifting blame when I could be out there focusing that same energy on things in line with my values, my passions. I can't express how much this shift of thinking will lift your life.

It's time to stop playing defense in your own life and CHOOSE to make your's a good one.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Cancer Journey Mixed Tape - Song 5

Getting chemo, listening to tunes...
I originally wrote about the next song as it related to the Latitude concept I came to while going through treatment (original post: Here). This song has developed into a more powerful force in my post cancer life in my quest to live my life in line with my True You and inspire others to do the same.

We live the majority of our formative years in life under a bevy of influencers telling us what’s right, what’s wrong, what’s acceptable, what’s been done before, etc. It’s only when we take a step back from our current situation to examine the relationships with our influencers that we can move towards living as our True You.

Song #5 on Roger’s Cancer Journey Mixed Tape is a song that came to me when I took back control of my life and realized what I am truly capable of while on earth and in legacy.

Artist: John Mayer (Link)
Song: Bigger Than My Body
Album: Heavier Things

When this song first came out I was more drawn to the melody than the lyrics. In hindsight, I think there was a larger force at play that was bookmarking this tune for the right moment to inspire me with the words. This time came during my cancer fight when I had to take a step away from my life and take time to heal.

At first I didn’t enjoy the feeling of life being on hold. If this was the Indy 500, I was parked on pit row getting body work done while all the other racers continued around the track setting personal bests, moving up positions, or simply driving in the race. The sound of race cars whipping by – eeeeeeeeeyyoohh! – echoing in my head as I grew more and more anxious to get back in the race.

Yes I'm grounded, got my wings clipped
I'm surrounded by all this pavement
Guess I'll circle, while I'm waiting
For my fuse to dry...

As the months of treatment wore on I realized I was living my days in a job that didn’t line up with my values. It was putting negative pressure on the relationships that were most important to me and, to be honest, was not challenging. At a certain point I came to the conclusion that I was not living the majority of my waking hours for me but for other people and in certain cases their personal interests.

This was a critical realization that made me decide I was going to live life on my terms after cancer. No matter how big or small the decision I was going to do things in a manner consistent with the fabric of my being. It was an extremely liberating, almost scary decision in knowing how underutilized I was pre-cancer under my old way of living, and what I was now capable of taking life into my own hands post-cancer.

Someday I'll fly, someday I'll soar
Someday I'll be so damn much more
Cause I'm bigger than my body gives me credit for

When you turn the corner and start living life in a manner that’s consistent with your values you will realize how underutilized your life has been to that point. It is a scary-exciting-inspiring-powerful feeling that every living person should experience sooner rather than later.

So, what are you waiting for?