Every full moon I send out an email newsletter titled Full Cycle. I’ll be posting them on the blog for those who don’t subscribe. If you think you’ll enjoy this type of musing in your email inbox once a month, you can subscribe here.
Today's full moon is the Strawberry Moon that I've been celebrating this last two weeks by eating my weight in fresh local strawberries. Every year, their fleeting season is a reminder that even the fantastic strawberries from the grocery store are at best mediocre. The season is over here in Philadelphia, but I've got some recipes below if they are still available near you.
Embracing New Versions of Yourself
Just like a toddler, I take a nap every day now. I've largely accepted this requirement cancer created and arrange my schedule around it. Though there are days when I resent having to give up one to two hours of productive time that I could be writing or doing any else other than lying in my bed. Productivity is a hard habit to break.
When I was a consultant billing 50-60 hours a week, I was a skilled maximizer of squeezing productivity into every possible moment of the day and night. If I really want to beat myself up for resting some days, I recall one particular day and marvel at this skill I no longer possess.
I woke up at 5 a.m. in Toronto and prepared for a day of client meetings, and then had the full day of meetings. Because I was in the middle of a 30-day Bikram yoga challenge (who does that??), I left the office and went straight to a yoga studio where I did 90 minutes of yoga in a 110-degree room. Then I hustled back to the hotel where the hotel staff (aka my Toronto family because I lived there every other week) had a two water bottles and car waiting for me to take me to the airport. I took a flight back to Philly, got home at 10 p.m. and then made a batch of cookies that were required for one of the boys at school the next day. That was extreme example but not out of the ordinary for my life back then.
When I think of that version of myself besides envying what seemed like an endless supply of energy and firmer skin on my neck, I sometimes wonder what she would think of me now.
If I told her that in five years she'd be producing her own play in the Philadelphia Fringe Festival, she'd be surprised at the speed in which she'd gone from consultant to writer. But it would please her to know that the characters, settings, and situations she'd been collecting for years were finding their home in stories. She had dreamt since childhood of becoming a writer, and now that version of her had come to fruition.
However, if I told her that in five years, she'd be madly in love with her border collie and recently adopted a second puppy. She would say you must be mistaken. Her life did not need another beast (or human for that matter) that required her care. And there is no way that she would drive to the New Jersey suburbs every week for dog agility classes or run an Instagram account dedicated to her dogs. These things would not be within the realm of possibility for her life. She was not one of those crazy dog women.
Of course, I'd have to tell her about the lymphoma and how it was the catalyst for the new version of her — the one who naps each day, but also writes plays and novels, and sleeps with dogs.
She’d learn that I regret it took cancer to embrace new versions of myself. I wish I had been more open and aware of experiences that make my heart flutter and leaned into those even if they didn't conform to what others might think of me and more importantly how I defined myself. The joy and community I found in writing and with my dogs makes me want to continue exploring new possibilities for myself.
And if the past version of me still is not convinced that she's become an unabashed dog-crazy woman, I'd point out that the dogs, unlike her children, will never tell her the stray hairs on her lip need waxing or refuse to acknowledge her existence when around their friends.
Lucinda and Stella light up every time they see me, and the only thing they notice about the skin on my neck is that it's the perfect place to lay a snoot.
Goody bag and open tabs
A fashionista embraces a new version of herself: After I had written a draft of this email, I received Laura Olin's weekly newsletter (Another plug for one of my favorite newsletters) with this link to a Stacy London video on the same topic. I loved this line: "Everybody should be able to accept new versions of themselves, that way, they will be more accepting of others."
Dogs are just so good: The morning we adopted our new puppy Stella, I finished reading The Friend by Sigred Nunez, a beautiful book about a 200 lb Great Dane who arrives unexpectantly in a grieving woman's life. (It's also about so much more!) I recommend this book for anyone who has loved a dog, anyone who is a writer, and if you're a writer and you've loved a dog, you really must read this book!
Who wants to be Miss Dog Mom USA?: A delightful article about the first competition for Miss Dog Mom USA. This is a totally different scene than the agility gym I go to, but similar in that it's a community of women who love their dogs and instead of dancing in high heels we complete choreographed movements on the agility course.
And of course Cake: I continue to bake my way through Cake by Maira Kalman. The law of averages arose this month when I made the strawberry shortcakes, which were a bit of a disappointment. Even less than perfect, they still served as an adequate vehicle for fresh strawberries and whipped cream, and all were eaten. The bounty of fresh fruit, including sour cherries Ezra picked (with permission) from the neighbor's tree, meant more baking. This cherry cobbler, this cherry pie, and this strawberry cake are excellent options if you have more fruit than you know what to do with.
Until next month, hoping you, too, will be embracing new versions of yourself!