Do-overs

When I started this blog I was dying.

Literally dying. In the hospital, tubes coming out of me, nurses swooping in and out, devices beeping endlessly. The smell of bleach and chemo hung in the air. And I was bored out of my mind (turns out there isn't much to do on a deathbed). So I started writing. I wasn’t thinking about domain names or a following or a Twitter feed. I wasn’t thinking of how to parlay my suffering into a book. I was just trying to process what was happening to me, and it seemed like an efficient way to keep up with all the well meaning “how are you” emails.

You know how they say, “If you knew you had one week left to live, what would you do?” Well, chances are, if you really only had one week left, you wouldn’t be in any sort of shape to do anything. That was me. I had very little time left if chemotherapy didn’t work. Blood cancer can be fast and merciless. Everyone knows that when other cancers metastasize through your blood and lymphatic system, it’s bad. Well, with acute leukemia, it’s in the blood—and very, very bad—from day one. I was too sick to even walk down the hallway. The only way to make the most of my time was to write about it, hoping that by putting my story out into the world, other people going through similar life explosions would find solace that they were not alone.

I’m not going to lie: I was filled with regret at everything left unfinished in my life. Had I made the most of my time? Had I really lived? Had I left a mark? A legacy? Done what I really wanted to do? No, of course not. (Have you?)

We all know we have one shot, one chance, one life. (Watch out, I might start singing Eminem to drive it home. In fact maybe I am already.) But we don't really know. Not until death comes calling.

I was going through old notebooks a few weeks ago, in our year-end culling of junk. Even in this computer age, you’d be surprised how many pages of chicken scratch (I have absolutely terrible handwriting) four and a half years of graduate school can produce. As I was flipping through a notebook from one of many economics classes that I suffered through (but hey, I can calculate sunk costs now), I found a page with huge, scrawling, nearly illegible writing that said: “I want a do-over!!!”

Um…Be careful what you wish for?

Well. I certainly got a do-over—in a way I never could have imagined (I tried to tell God, or the universe, or whatever was messing with me, that this wasn’t at all what I meant, but it was too late for take-backs). I even got new DNA. How many people can say that? So with these new cells floating around my body, this new awesome chimerism (I always wanted to be unique), and this urgency to realize my dreams and leave a real mark, I am starting fresh. And everything in my life is starting to align in a way that it never could have if I had never become sick. From human rights to the entertainment industry to yoga and working with Ottawa's finest, I have opportunities now that I never could have imagined before. Coincidence? I think not.

I wish I hadn't waited for my do-over. I wish I hadn't waited for life to blow up before I realized I wasn't happy. But I am just a bit stubborn (as you may have already guessed) and can only learn the hard way. You don't have to. If you're unhappy, stressed, sick, bored, broke, or just not where you want to be, then change. No one else will do it for you. And I'm guessing you already know that.

When I started this blog, I was dying, and all I wanted was to not die. When people told me "this is happening for a reason", I would think in my head, "Yeah, a bad reason." But now I see it. I see the do-over that I wanted. And I'm going to take it. I am going to raise great kids and teach yoga and help people heal and write books and travel the world. After everything that’s happened, why would I settle for anything less?

Why would you?

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