She.Me is about creating connection through stories. For now, it’s about my story of how I hit a brick wall called cancer. It’s a reminder that we all crave the same things – love, acceptance, community, creativity, connection, a sense of place and a sense of peace. It's also a reminder that it doesn’t have to take a cancer diagnosis, or an emotional break down, to stop and ask permission to pause. To take a breath. To ask ourselves if we are truly being our own best friend, our own best sister. To believe that we are capable of transformation at whatever stage of our life, and for whatever reason.
What I’ve discovered is that sometimes it’s through hearing others’ stories that we feel brave enough to share our own, to open up to a new friend, to write a book or a journal or start a website! And that sometimes it’s through hearing others’ stories that we feel brave enough to start our own story again.
There’s nothing special about my story, but at 40, I realise I have half a life-time of reflections and experiences that are helping me to better answer the question, “Who else could I be?”. I think it’s a natural mid-way point where we hope to embrace our choices to date and continue on a path to our 80s with all our buckets (work, family, relationship, health) full. In reality though, I see so many women like me who are about to, or have just recovered from, some significant health/life crisis because, despite being nurturers by nature, we have forgotten to nurture ourselves somewhere along the way.
I started writing my thoughts and feelings in the first week after my cancer diagnosis because I couldn’t find a connection to other resources and information out there to know how to feel what I needed to feel. As a head-person who deals in facts and figures in my working life, I had no shortage of information about what cancer was all about. But what I was looking for was a sense of what might feel ‘normal’ when sitting face to face with my mortality.
These are the chapters to my story so far. I'll add more as I continue to work out whatever 'this' becomes for me.
Most are emotional reflections about how I have felt at different times, so they're a mish-mash of raw but honest thoughts. Ultimately they're about feelings of how I've tried to move myself from fear and grief towards power and gratitude. And while the themes are common (like self-compassion, making choices, and acceptance), they sit within a mixed party bag/extreme hangover of emotions.
I've also included some practical learnings from my experiences such as surgery and chemotherapy (a bit of a tips/tricks list should you ever need it!).
At the simplest level, this site is a mirror image of me. It serves as a reminder throughout my experiences to constantly seek balance between being an emotional creature who craves connection with others and a hard-nosed pragmatist who loves nothing more than creating (and ticking off) to-do lists.
While I have previously considered my own emotions a weakness, I am now discovering that my greatest strength comes from owning them. And the greatest gift I can offer others is to share those emotional reflections in the hope that someone else feels connected instead of alone.