For the past seven days I have halted truly living life. Why, you ask? I discovered a couple of lumps in my breast/armpit area and life stopped. I had them checked out and needed both a mammogram and an ultrasound to determine what these things were. Today I got the free and clear, and I realized something: I have not been living for seven days. In the face of fear, what did I do?

Photo credit: Nebojsa Mladjenovic / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

I tell you one thing, living in fear made me turn inward, and it made me fret. I had a really hard time remembering to check in with myself. I struggled to notice my breath, my hunger, my thirst, my thoughts. It was work to center my mind and my heart, and not to get tugged away into the swirl of fear. I prayed silent, quiet, snippets of brokenness.

I wanted to be better than my fear. I wanted to be a sage, a wise woman, a professional at this life thing where I responded with confidence, peace, and wisdom. Instead, I felt every second of the seven days. Deep down I know that I am a wise woman, but I am also a fearful girl, an angry adolescent, and a troubled twenty-something. All of these versions of me came to and began cycling through fear in a different way–and that is okay.

One thing I have learned through this time is that self-care is so important. What I did do well was to rest, to meditate, to say no, to sit in silence, and to take more baths. These things were self-care in its most basic form. I will take from this experience more knowledge of how I want to be in the face of fear, but I am also appreciating what I did do while looking at fear.

I hold space for any woman in this position, for any woman who has a different outcome–who must navigate a different life. I will also encourage every woman to be consistent with doing a breast exam, having an annual check-up, and being diligent with scheduling mammograms. Our health, inside and out, is one way we can continue to love ourselves–because we are made of flesh, and we need to care for it. Finally, fear only takes the room you give it, so consider using self-care as a way to push back fear. Make yourself stronger, so you can live your one wild and beautiful life.

Photo credit: Nebojsa Mladjenovic / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND