Friday, June 5, 2015

Confessions of a Recovering Worrier

I’ve got a confession to make: I am a worrier. Actually, I am a recovering worrier who occasionally falls off the wagon.

The funny part is that I know how useless it is to worry. I mean it is a real waste of time! Instead of being an integral part of problem solving, all worry does is distract you from the joys that are around you now. I believe it was Wiz Khalifa who simplified the concept when he said, “Worrying is stupid. It’s like walking around with an umbrella waiting for it to rain.”

The infamous 'lump'
This month’s Tarot card in a Fool's Paradise is the Moon (Major Arcana 18). The Moon teaches us to step back and accurately assess a situation before taking action. It requires a person to see things as they truly are, and accept the truth of the situation. The Moon card reminds us it is the truth which will set you free – regardless of the ultimate outcome.

If you will indulge me, I would like to tell you a little story.

In April of this year I went on a week’s vacation to Florida. I had been excitedly anticipating this trip since I booked it in early January. From the moment I received my flight confirmation, I envisioned myself relaxing by the pool, walking on the beach, reading a book in the sun, and strolling through nature trails in some of Florida’s most beautiful preserves. I was so excited!

Flash forward to Easter Sunday. I was in the airport sitting at the gate waiting to board my plane. I reached down to scratch an itch on my left leg and that is when I found it – a quarter-size hard lump about three inches below my knee and just to the right of my shin bone.

Holy Mother of God!!!! The panic was instantaneous. My mind immediately flew to ‘worst-case-scenario.’ I poked and prodded at the mass for pretty much the entire flight. I weakly told myself it could be anything – and did not necessarily signal the life-threatening condition I was sure, deep down, it was.

I was definitely encountering the dark side of the Moon tarot card. Things were being blown out of proportion and my worst fears were spring to life in the fertile soil of my mind.

When I arrived to my location, the lump had grown to the size of a half-dollar. Now I was really scared.  I immediately signed on to my ipad and investigated all the possible maladies it could be. At the top of the list – you guessed it – cancer. “Holy shit,” I said to myself.

For the next 48-hours, that lump had my undivided attention. Really. Although it didn’t change anymore, and it didn’t hurt, and it didn’t interfere with my ability to walk, I refused to take my focus off of it.

While it is easy to understand why people might obsess like this, looking back on this all I can think of is, “What an ass you were.” Here I was in near-paradise conditions. There was beauty all around me.  I was with people that I loved, and I was feeling fit and healthy! And, all I could see was that lump.

By Tuesday night I realized something had to give. I started to catch on to the fact that all my worry was only depleting me of the present joys. I made a decision then and there to stop worrying – both about that lump and all the other ‘lumps’ that could come into my life. I realized that worry actually weakens the mind, body and spirit. At that point I knew I had to embrace the lighter side of the Moon card. These are the concepts of intellect, intuition and spiritual awareness. I accepted that the only way to power was through an honest assessment of the situation.

So…. first thing Wednesday morning I called and made an appointment with my doctor. They said they wanted to see me right away. (Note – that was a strong test of my budding new no-worry philosophy. J) I explained I was in Florida and would not be able to come in until Monday. They scheduled me for 8 am Monday morning.

The next thing I did was go to the pool, and instead of watching my lump, I watch the children play, and I engaged in interesting conversations with the people around me. Basically, I acknowledged and appreciate all that I had in my life at that time. It was enlightening. I can honestly say I was overcome with gratitude for the simple fact of existing and being able to participate so richly in this thing we call life.

That Moon-card experience taught me a lot about gratitude, awareness and acceptance. As stressful as I had allowed the lump situation to become, I am grateful for the lesson I learned about releasing worry and embracing life.

Oh yeah… and about the lump… it was still there Monday morning when I went to the doctor. He took one look at it, felt around and said, “You can stop worrying. I am sure you are thinking the worst here.” I confirmed I had been. He told me the lump was not cancerous. Rather it was something called DVT – Deep Vein Thrombosis – and would require only a few simple tests to determine the severity of it. Even better, these additional non-invasive testing showed there was no clotting and no reason for additional treatment. He told me in time, my body would heal on its own – without any additional help, or fuss or you guessed it …. Worry.

Huh, go figure. 

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