Becks in the City

Sing with me :"From yu wake up dis marnin, you's a winner!"

Category: Stress Free Lifestyle

Exiting Safe Mode

Exiting Safe Mode

One Year-ish After my Cancer Diagnosis

I have not written a blog in what seems like forever. Life has simply taken over. In all honesty, I have not really had a chance to sit back and reflect on the past year. The truth is, I have not rested and taken stock. Even when I was recovering from my operation this time last year, I was busy thinking about my business and how I would continue to grow it when I was better. What I have been through is ginormous and maybe it will take years to fully take stock and get my head around what happened. But for now, I will attempt to look back in order to grow forward. 

The short version: I’ve lost and gained friends, I’ve fallen out with and made up with close ones, had a bout of depression, felt lost at times, started to dance again and my daughter started school.

The ‘Okay let’s put a little more effort in’ version:

I’ve settled on being a pesca-vegan – a fish eating vegan (no eggs and dairy) and currently that works for me. I had planned to become an all-out vegan but the limited eating out options are more than I can handle. Like really, I went to an event where I was literally given a dry bowl of cucumber and lettuce for lunch!

My daughter and I have a very special relationship, every day we tell one another just how much we love each other. The other day she told me that when she is older and she is married, she will make sure that we (as in me and her) share a room and her husband will have another room. She makes me smile every single day.

 

 

My visits to the hospital are far less frequent, but they still happen. In fact, I am due to have my first mammogram since my diagnosis. I don’t think about it in any detail. I have learned to take these things at a step at a time. I will think about it on the day. I suppose that’s a good thing, as I’ve learned not to worry about the negative possibilities because if or when they come, I will deal with them in that moment.

I suppose the biggest change in my life now is that I have a part-time job. This is huge for me as I have been anti-employment all my life. I have shouted from the rooftops about the joys of being self-employed. Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t given up my businesses, I am still very much in business but I also now have a job working in arts and criminal justice. And do you know what? I love it!  Amongst other wonderful stuff, I enjoy being a part of society, having workmates, being able to go to a Christmas party, having the support of a manager and a whole organisation and having more resources to make a bigger change in the world.

My place of solace has been the gym. I have learned that my body is phenomenal. I now have a new level of super power that I didn’t know existed. I can run faster, pump harder, endure for longer. Even when I think my body is tired, she is set on completing the gruelling workout. I have grown a strange fondness to bootcamp, where tossing tyres, and dragging prison-like weights is actually enjoyable.

My body image. That’s an interesting one. I’m still learning about her but I know I love her. I find myself experimenting with clothes as I learn how to compliment my new shape. I am far from perfect but somehow this hourglass shape has come out of nowhere. I can wear tops that happily circumvent my new curves. I’m allowing myself to be braver with my choices, especially as I realise that I am in the prime of my life.

I guess this post has no flow, other than the order in which this stuff is exiting my brain and entering the screen. I suppose in a way that reflects how my life has been over the last year or so. I have just let it all happen albeit it in safe mode. What I mean by that is that I have just been functioning at a very basic level, enough for me and my daughter to get-by, just like the computer does when it is in safe mode. But I think I’m ready to move on now, I’m ready to be braver, to allow myself to dream, to permit myself to have some real fun and encourage me to celebrate this wonderful life. I’m ready to press ctrl-alt-delete and restart afresh.

Living on Purpose with my Daughter

Unless as a parent, you have faced your own mortality, you will never really know what it feels like to imagine your child outliving you. Whilst in my hospital bed last year June (having just received a mastectomy and DIEP Flap reconstruction), I made a vow to ensure that NO MATTER WHAT, I was going to fill our lives with joy and happiness. I was clear that this would come in the form of visiting new and interesting places, going to live music, dance, theatre and sports events, playing together whether in the home or out and generally just partaking in life.

My sister Tiffany brought my daughter and her cousins to see me run this year’s Race for Life. For those who do not know, the Race for Life is a charitable event where women run to raise funds for Cancer Research UK. It is so important to me that not only do we enjoy the time we have here on this earth but that my daughter also sees me actively participating, contributing, giving back. She is beginning to understand death the impact that cancer can have. She is also starting to understand what it means to give back.

This weekend was full of firsts for my daughter, beginning with the marriage of Prince Harry to Meghan Markle. My daughter was so happy that someone who has a brown mother like her own, could actually become (in her mind) a princess. That’s huge! Then the following day, she witnesses her mum run with 1000s of other women to raise funds to (hopefully) stop people dying from cancer. These are the moments I dreamed of sharing and now they are coming to fruition because I made a conscious effort to make it happen.

The Race for Life ‘One Love’ team led by Tarah (first on the left)

I hope parents reading this, do not wait until they are faced with own mortality to truly live life on purpose with your children and mark the ‘wow’ moments. You do not get yesterday back but tomorrow is yours, plan it wisely.

 

*********

This Saturday sees me leading my first workshop based on the concept of living purposely in Birmingham UK. It’s called ‘How to Fall Fabulously in Love with You.’ If offers a rare opportunity for the you to indulge is self-reflection and discover how to become happier, more confident and more successful through valuing and honouring yourself. It is going to be fun! Book tickets here now.

Train Your Brain to Get What You Want

Master Neuroplasticity

 

 

“Among other things, neuroplasticity means that emotions such as happiness and compassion can be cultivated in much the same way that a person can learn through repetition to play golf and basketball or master a musical instrument, and that such practice changes the activity and physical aspects of specific brain areas.”

Andrew Weil

 

Neuroplasticity in its simplest form is the art of training the brain to rewire itself. You can liken it to scratching a record. If you mildly scratch a record, it will continue to play for the most part as normal. However, if you continue to scratch the record, eventually it won’t ever play the same. This is similar to how the brain works.

 

Why is this relevant to self-love? Because this proves that you can change the way that you think and your brain will help you do it on a cellular level! This is pretty remarkable. Think about it, many people say things such as ‘It’s just the way I am, I can’t change.’ The existence of neuroplasticity, instantly disproves this theory. You can rewire you brain to change right now!

 

Many people who are overweight for example, have a subconscious limiting belief that they can’t lose weight. Even though they might see other people do it or even if they have lost weight in the past, they hold onto the fact that they just simply are not the sort of person to lose weight or if they do, keep it off. However, by altering that limiting belief to ‘I can lose weight, keep it off and feel fabulous’ they start to scratch the record. For this belief to stick, a major level of reinforcement must take place and the necessary action must happen.

 

This process must be repeated and repeated often. You can’t say this new belief once and expect miracles to happen. That’s just not how it works. You must say it daily (your daily affirmation) and take the necessary actions such as research foods that encourage weight loss, buy the right foods, workout, drink lots of water etc…

 

 

Task:

  1. After having completed the previous exercise, write your new belief down and place it where you will see it regularly (a bathroom mirror is a good place).

 

  1. Whenever you see that note, repeat it three times (or once if you are in a rush but at least once a day).

 

  1. Write a list of actions you need to do on a consistent basis that will bring you closer to having what you want. Make sure they are SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timebound).

 

  1. Put these actions in your diary and carry them out!

 

Change only happens if you act on a consistent basis. I am going to keep saying this until it sticks!

 

Do not fall into the trap that you will always be the way you are. This is hugely disempowering. Think about how wonderful you will feel once you have changed a limiting belief that has held you back.

 

You have the power to change it but you must take action. Acknowledge those limiting beliefs and work the power of neuroplasticity. Your biology is already designed for you to be successful but you must take charge and make it happen. This leads me nicely onto the next point. You must take responsibility for you!

*****

This is the kind of stuff we will be covering in my workshop ‘How to Fall Fabulously in Love with YOU’ on Saturday 26th May 2018 in Birmingham UK. Click here for more details. 

NB: This blog has been take from my free E-Book: The Pocket Guide to Self Love which can be obtain here. 

 

She Made Me Do it!

My changing body image, post breast cancer surgery.

I met a stranger last year. She arrived not long after my breast cancer surgery. Though I didn’t know her, I felt comforted by her presence. She knew of my torment, she understood my trauma and vulnerabilities. Being the guardian she is, she immersed her being into mine to shield me, to guide me and to make me invisible when it all got too much.

You see, my body image has been a huge deal post-surgery. I’m even reluctant to type this again but ‘yes’ I am referring to the uniteral mastectomy followed by reconstructive surgery. I actually have an improved body (by many people’s standards) since the operation. Many women pay for similar types of surgery to the one I had to save my life. But getting used to the new version of me has been far from plain sailing.

You would think that I would be flaunting this new edition of Becky at every opportunity. Nope, I have felt extremely uncomfortable with my new body and unwilling to be nothing but modest. Why? Because I didn’t know this body or what to do with her. Also, I have told the world about my cancer and the consequent surgery, eyes are watching, minds are intrigued and tongues have questions. Plus, my size, my shape and the types of clothes that suit me, have all changed. Just a few months ago, I waited in line at House of Fraser for a considerable amount of time with the wrong sized bra until at the till, I remembered that my cup size had changed and consequently left with nothing; bewildered by my mistake.

This has been my new normal. Not knowing what is normal.

My stranger encouraged me to cover myself in black. Black has shrouded my being to become a hidden mass of nothingness. It allowed me to surreptitiously tip-toe through crowded rooms unnoticed and unbothered. It hugged me close when I felt vulnerable and needed an anchor to hold tightly. My stranger had my back at all times. I honestly can’t imagine how I would have got through this without her.

However, sometime during the last few weeks, I woke up ready as usual to share my sadness with my BFF but she wasn’t there. I searched frantically for my partner in solemn silence but she had disappeared.

Vanished without a ‘See you later!’

But strangely, it felt okay. It was weird, but instinctively I understood that her time with me was complete. I had entered a new phase. Someone or something else had arrived.

Almost a year since my breast cancer diagnosis, my spirit has been usurped by another form of newness. Again, a foreigner has entered my space. She has no name but she is quite different to my first stranger. I am still learning about her but I know I am feeling her vibe. She is playfully provoking and enjoys challenging me. I oblige wilfully to her dares (though curious) as secretly, I like the direction in which she is nudging me. She has only been around for a few weeks but already I see her influence manifest in my intentions and actions.

I wish you could see her or feel her vibe but as I do not even know her name and my naked eye has never witnessed her presence, I cannot show you the evidence. What I can do however, is share with you a few images for which the only fitting caption is: ‘She Made Me Do it!’ These were taken on a recent much needed break to Benidorm on the Costa Blanca, Spain.

My instincts tell me that you might be hearing a lot more about what she has prompted me to do in the near future.  

 

My Version of Beautiful

The Best Birthday Yet!

26th February 2018 was my 41st birthday. I’m not shy in stating my age, in fact I am proud. I would happily shout it from my roof top, if I could access it.

This time last year, even before cancer reared its ugly head, I was not in a great place. Though my business was in great shape and doing the things I had always asked for, I was stressed and overworked. Honestly speaking, I would have preferred to spend my birthday in bed rather than with my friends and family at a restaurant bringing in the big ole’ 4-0. I was just so tired!

Then came the diagnosis in April 17. Two blood spots, alerted me to the fact that something was up. Had I not seen those breast cancer signs, as my doctor at the time said, I might not be here in a year’s time. Did you get that? If I had ignored those tiny droplets of blood on my nightdress, I might be dead today!

Whilst I have shared parts of my journey publicly, I certainly did not share it all. I tried to be as uplifting as possible. Not just for others but for me too. I needed to hang onto hope. I needed to know that I had a future. But there were some seriously dark days (particularly before the results of my operation), when I just didn’t know what the future held. It was awful! I had never been in a position where I wasn’t able to plan for the future. 

As a result, I felt beat-down, unwanted, melancholy, terrified, overwhelmed and defeated by life.  

Cut to a year later, I’M ALIVE!

Life now feels: surreal, beautiful, humbling, happy, expectant, positive, peaceful and gratifying. It can be likened to a scene I saw today from the movie ‘The Shape of Water’, where two lovers (albeit one is a humanoid amphibian) embrace as they gently float underwater. In that moment, nothing exists but the love they share which is all encompassing and enchantingly beautiful.

Today, I feel nothing exists but the new version of my life which houses: my much-matured sense of self-worth and compassion, the people who matter most, the here & now and the exciting vision I have of my future.

The celebration is lasting almost a week. Yes, although the date has passed, it’s still ongoing. Much of it has involved quiet reflection and checking-in on where I am. Sunday 25th February was the highlight as I gracefully enjoyed high tea was with my soul sisters Rachel and Toni at the Café Royal Hotel in London. The photo speaks for itself about the opulence and regal decor. We even left with a gift of a Diptyque candle – oh the fragrance! I had a day I know I truly deserve. One fit for a queen!

This birthday epitomises the outlook I now have on life. No, it won’t be perfect but for every single moment that I am on this earthing taking breath, I am going to do everything in my power to ensure it is my version of beautiful.

Therefore, every day is my birthday in my mind.

 

Did Stress Give Me Cancer?

                           My state of mind prior to my diagnosis

 

I had cancer, right? The question I had to ask myself is: why was I able to get cancer? What was it about the conditions in my body that enabled this disease to take hold of my healthy cells and ultimately lead to me losing a part of my body? So, I embarked on a journey of research. I wanted to know how to prevent recurrences in the future.

Back in prehistoric times, stress was an essential part of human biology. We were vulnerable against the elements, which could cause natural disasters and we were also at risk from being taken down by predators. The body has an inbuilt system that helps us to avoid being eaten, attacked or destroyed. When in danger, the body has physiological responses such as pumping more blood to the heart and/or the muscles. These responses then help us to either run for our lives or stay and fight. The body can even enhance the immune system to help prepare wounds quickly. It’s the well-known fight or flight response. However, our bodies were not designed to endure long periods of stress. Consequently, what happens when the body experiences long-term stress, it takes its toll on our immune system.

This is the scientific bit now. Stay with me as this is important!

Corticosteroids are hormones which are made in the adrenal cortex.  What does that mean? 

Essentially, steroids (naturally produced in the body) reduce inflammation and suppress the immune system. You may have heard of synthetic steroids being used for a variety of reasons such as reducing pain for people with arthritis and lupus. They can also help with hay fever and eczema. The fact that they help to reduce inflammation, makes synthetic steroids useful for the body (these steroids are not to be confused with  anabolic steroids which are often used by body builders to gain muscle mass).

However, as I said, corticosteroids also lower the immune system. The immune system, when working correctly, is our friend. No scrap that, it is our life-saver. It fights infections on our body’s behalf by using leukocytes (also known as white blood cells). There are different types of white blood cells such as T Cells, and B Cells. T Cells can also be referred to as killer cells as they destroy antigens (foreign substances that invade our tissues and subsequently lower our immune systems).

When experiencing chronic stress (stress over a long period of time), corticosteroids are released into the blood stream. This in turn, lowers our immune system and we are prone to contracting diseases that our cells struggle to eliminate. With cancer specifically, T cells are usually our soldiers that go out and destroy the rogue cells.

 

T cells have the important role of assessing whether cells are healthy or potentially harmful; if a harmful antigen is detected, T cells spring into action and trigger an immune response, activating other immune cells to immediately target and kill the pathogens. This also leads to the development of antibodies, which recognise pathogens with the same antigens if they are encountered again in the future, meaning they can be rapidly targeted.”

Breastcancernow.org

This begs the question, what the hell happens to T-cells when cancer rears its ugly head? Why do they not kill the cancer cells like they are supposed to? From what I can see, there is a lot of debate around this area but one thing most clinical professionals seem to agree on, is that it is because cancer cells are clever. If the cancer cells sense danger, they can change the way they look or even become invisible to the t-cells so they cannot be spotted and consequently destroyed. If cancer wasn’t such an evil, destructive beast, I might hold it in admiration and marvel at its genius.

In my quest to identify why I got cancer, finding out of these facts concerning the immune system’s response to stress, makes a lot of sense to me. I had let stress become a part of my family. It took up residence in my body, made itself at home and wreaked havoc and I let it. I let it because I didn’t think it was much of an issue. Everyone gets stressed, right? I thrive off tight deadlines and pressured environments, that how I get stuff done. Maybe if these occurrences were occasional, that would have been fine. There’s nothing wrong with having a little stress occasionally to help you get stuff done. But to have it show up daily, from the moment you wake up ‘til when you go to bed, it’s a problem.

It is scientifically proven that it can harm you physically. I’ve only spoken about how stress affects the immune system in detail, but like I say it can detrimental implications to the rest of your body too. Why do many of us not take this seriously enough? 

So, did stress give me cancer? I can’t prove it – no one can but I strongly suspect it had a significant role to play in me contracting the disease. 

 

This blog is an excerpt from my forthcoming book: The Gifts that Cancer Gave Me

Dealing with Toxic People

Dealing with Toxic People

 

Many of you will know that I run a private Facebook Group (open to anyone who shares our vision) called Living on Purpose 2018. In it, we had a discussion on dealing with toxic people, we decided as a group to create a document which would help our younger females (in particular, but not exclusively) to deal with toxic people and relationships.

I feel strongly about this, as I this topic isn’t taught in school. I imagine that most parents do not speak about it with their children, so the way we often learn about these people (who are essentially hurt and consequently hurt others to make themselves feel better), is by developing relationships with them.

It is my aim to make this a conversation that takes place more frequently, not just with young women but with everyone. Perhaps when it is more out in the open these people will become more aware of their actions and change for the better or at the very least more folks know what to do when they meet a toxic being.

Pshychologytoday.com have a great article on how to spot toxic people. For now, I will give you the list we complied on how to deal with them. Feel free to add your own rules in the comments section. Here goes:

 

  1. If at all possible avoid them. Cut them off! They do not deserve your time.

 

  1. Avoid getting bogged down in detail. Often their tactic is to blind you in confusion. Stay focused on the goal.

 

  1. Choose your battles wisely. It’s not always worth getting into an argument. Toxic people tend to thrive on drama.

 

  1. However, don’t let them get away with bad behaviour. They often prey on people they perceive to be weak. Therefore, show them that you will not tolerate their crap.

 

  1. Constantly work on your self-esteem and self-worth. If you are self-assured, you won’t let others undermine you.

 

  1. Ignore attention seeking behaviour. They will often try to draw attention to themselves to lure you into their web of deceit.

 

  1. Don’t be sucked in by a sob story. There’s nothing wrong with feeling sorry for someone but it is not your responsibility to get your hands dirty and help fix them. You can’t anyway, only they can fix themselves.

 

 

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén