Priority Me

Almost 8 years ago, I learned the hard way that I needed to make a significant change to my priorities. When I discovered I had thyroid cancer, I was in shock and never thought I would ever have the ‘C’ word.

For years, I didn’t feel well and didn’t know why. Tired, stiff, feeling numbness in joints, fatigue, and overall unwell…waking up every morning made me frustrated and anxious of not knowing what the hell was wrong with me. My Doctor at the time was of no help. She overbooked patients and “scheduled” patients like me would wait 3 hours to be seen. I witnessed the poor receptionist be yelled at every time I had to sit in the waiting room of patients who waited hours for their appointments. I finally had the epiphany to leave that unhealthy place. Priority #1 – Stress less: remove yourself from situations that make you feel worse or find a way to better cope.

It was 3 mos later that my new doctor found my 2cm calcified nodule and multiple nodules in my thyroid that required removal and radiation therapy.  From there I was on a crash course to learning and fighting for my priorities.

During my journey to recovery, I had time and space to reflect on the lifestyle I had been living for many years. I used to entertain with my hubby and socialize weekly, hosting many meals at our home. We would rush to attend 2-3 committed gatherings every Saturday and helped anyone who asked. I remember on occasion back then that my mom and some good friends telling me that I was doing too much and to cut back on certain priorities but did I listen??? Nope.

I didn’t realize that the things that brought me joy eventually silently hurt me mentally, physically and spiritually. Being too involved, helping too much, focusing too much outwardly neglected inwardly.

Sometimes it takes a significant life event that forces you to prioritize things differently. Having had thyroid cancer woke me up.

“I am more aware of knowing what causes me undo stress and choosing what is important each minute of the day.” Learning to turn my focus inwards, listening to my body and then realizing my capacity to be able to share outwards has been a constant.

I have learned that priorities are time based choices that we make in life. Choices that we make affect ourselves and people around us now or in the future. Although it’s difficult to consciously remove all the pressures and stresses in life, I have used the following tips to help me manage so I can make better choices.

To help manage your priorities try these tips:

  • Think about what is urgent and important at the time
  • Ask yourself “can this wait or do I need to address the issue right now?”
  • Set expectations with yourself and others by communicating what can work for you. Most people are understanding and willing to accomodate if you share a reasonable explanation
  • Don’t overwhelm or rush yourself. Work at your pace and put extra time in if necessary
  • Ask for help or delegate wisely to people who can support you
  • Stay on top of your timelines and be realistic about how much time you need to complete the task. This will vary across each individual.
  • Negotiate a new timeline if need be

Tie your shoe

My mom and I had just finished grocery shopping and was taking the escalator down to the underground parking when there seemed to be some commotion at the bottom of the escalator. My shopping cart was full and we were nearing the end of the escalator. I tried slowing the cart down by pulling back but I couldn’t as the cart had magnetic wheels so we could only move forward.

The couple ahead of us was able to move out of the way with the other two people in front of them. The couple turned to us and said “she got her shoe lace stuck in the escalator.” The little girl, who looked no more than 5yrs old had both her shoe laces untied and one of them got caught in the escalator. Fortunately, we were all able to get off the escalator without any harm.

This reminded me of a time in 2014 where a 47 year old women lost her life when her scarf, coat and hair got caught in an escalator at the metro in Montreal which strangled her to death. Her scarf was 157cm, she was 160cm tall according to news reports; unfortunately, there were no eye witnesses at the time to confirm fully what happened.

On the way to my car, I was thinking that this incident could have been worse and could have happened to anyone including myself. It made me think about loose and long pieces of clothing like laces, scarfs, pants, skirts, coat belts etc. that could pose a safety hazard while walking, driving or riding on an escalator. I also thought about my 5 year old boy who hasn’t yet learned to tie his shoelaces yet.

So today I was reminded to be aware of our untied shoe laces & wearable items that could pose a risk to our safety. Tragic accidents can be avoided if we are all just a little more aware.