This past weekend, Larry and I did some spring cleaning, a la Konmari method. I gripped the gold handle of the top drawer of my cabinet and pulled it out. The familiar smell of dried gel wafting through my nose. I turned the drawer upside down, emptying all the contents onto the bed — hair brushes, hair ties, mousse, dry shampoo, curling irons — they all came tumbling out. Seeing the mound of hair products I used pre-cancer diagnosis, pre-chemo, pre-hair loss — it made me feel some type of way. I paused to figure out what it was that I was feeling. There was some sadness, some nostalgia, a little bit of “wow, I can’t believe I haven’t touched this drawer in almost two years”, and somewhere down deep a little bit of relief that my current ‘do doesn’t require even half as much product anymore.
I tossed ninety percent of the mound, keeping a hair brush, a curling iron, and bobby pins. Influenced by a slight sense of regret that maybe one day, I will grow my hair back out long enough to curl and style and put into ponytails, and I would kick myself for throwing those tools out.
The bottom of the drawer was covered in some sort of spilled product that was so sticky that it held on to a few strands of straight, long black hair — remnants of my waist-long hair before I made the decision to cut it so as to make the transition of losing it more bearable. There they were – literal parts of the old me, just sitting at the bottom of a junk-filled drawer. The only remaining parts of me not touched by chemo. There was a little pain that swole inside of me. It was like seeing a glimpse of the past that, for so long, I yearned to return to.
It was then when Larry walked into the room wearing a puffer vest over his tank top. A funny-looking sight that broke the wave of emotion slowly filling up my being.
“What do you think of this? Should I keep this?”
“I don’t know, Babe. Do you like it?”
“I mean, not really. I just hate giving away clothes.”
“Well, if you’re not going to wear it…”
“It’s just so against my nature.”
“Then you gotta evolve. Change is inherent to evolution. And in order to survive, you gotta evolve.”
He huffed in agreement and tossed the vest onto the donation pile.
Evolve. The word lingered long after he left the room. Here I was wiping dried gunk out of a drawer that contained pieces of my past while giving out the advice I, myself, needed.
And now I sit on a bed in an Airbnb in Durham, here for the second part of my Integrative Health Coaching training at Duke. Today we learned all about the science of behavior so as to be better facilitators of change for our future clients. We practiced the health coaching process that sparked so many “aha” moments for myself and classmates. We were reminded that we are riding the tide of change — where health is no longer viewed as passive or equated to medication. We are helping to catalyze change, to help people heal from the inside out, to have us take charge of our own health, to treat the whole person — mind, body, soul.
So as I type this, I smile.
The lesson coming in loud and clear…