From the moment of diagnosis, I had no doubts that I would beat cancer and continue living. More than just go on existing, I would do great things. Even though this logic didn’t seem so convincing to others around me, I was sure of it, on equal measure of conviction that ten fingers finished off my hands. It wasn’t about hoping or dreaming of survival. It was that I felt I deserved to live. That I had, by duty, too much left to get done.
The difference of dreaming for it and deserving it offers the courage to go forward.
When something is defined as a dream – like climbing Kilimanjaro or writing a book, we immediately separate ourselves from it. We separate it from our reality as existing on another plane. It’s not our reality, it’s a dream. They are opposites, are they not? It’s asleep and we are awake. It takes on that ‘othered‘ quality, a beautiful colloquilism that Janet Mock so beautifully uses in this interview.
When what we want has that divided otherness from our reality, it starts to feel unattainable. It’s like saying “I want this, but…” rather than “I’m going to get this”.
The difference between wanting it and getting it lies in the transition from ‘dream of’ to ‘deserve’. With my entire existence, I believe in deserved outcomes. When we put in the work, we change abstract wants into an expected realities. Gym time makes the dream of fitness a deserved reality. Researching and writing makes the dream of publishing a deserved reality. Realizing that you are capable of and have the power to get what you want changes the dreams you have into things you deserve on any front.
Work and belief transform ‘dreams’ into ‘deserves’. When we put in the work for our dreams, we see we are worthy of our dreams. Thus, the universe rewards us with what we deserve. Believe you are worthy of it down to the marrow of your bones, like the same ones that were hiding yet more cancer inside me, and you will start to do what it takes to deserve it.
It doesn’t matter if it’s a negotiation on your salary or deciding who you want to date or that internal argument about going to the gym (we all have it, don’t be embarrased). You must first know what you deserve in order to get it. And because you are solely in charge of your energy, your time, and all that you do in every moment, you alone must put in the work to realize and decide what you deserve. Life does not decide for you.
So when we went to plan the 10 day trip for my 10 year annivesary of beating cancer, I took to Pinterest. I know that Pinterest is usually for ideals that will never come true. Used incorrectly and the whole site starts to become a collage of all the things that are better than your real life. But for this, I knew it wouldn’t be so. Behold, Smuggler’s Cove:
A remarkable hidden cove on the island of Zakynthos, this sunlit beach is accessible only by boat. The ship wrecked into the sands decades ago, and has deteriorated into the white pebbles while turquoise waters continue to beat upon the same shore, reaching for it again. It’s as mysterious and haunting as it is awe-striking. As beautiful as it is enigmatic. Yes, the waters really are that blue.
And we went and saw it.
Ten years ago I knew I deserved to live because I had living left to do. I had a difference to make. Today, I used that life to visit a place I’d dreamed of since first laying eyes on it. I knew I deserved this epic adventure for all the hard work not only surviving took, but then continuing to maneuver the murky waters of life after. And it’s reward was the two tickets to Greece, the 1.5 hour boat ride in, and the baptizing waters I swam in front of it.
Sure, life’s not always a beach, pun intended. Standing in the quiet after a battle won’t always leave you feeling victorious. But you can start simply with the statement that you deserve to make it through. Whisper it enough to yourself and the statement becomes a belief. Believe in it and yourself enough, and the energy will build up first in you, then around you, and the universe will respond in kind to your energies. It will respond with bountiful opportunities, some blatant and some small and subtle.
I should add, as a closing note, that this was all sparked not by the beach or the ship or anything else, but by an email to the beautiful women at Reset Retreat, a retreat designed to help women realign their lives and intentions while they rejuvenate with yoga, group talk, and self assessment. As we were collaborating via email, I sent her the following:
Sometimes I’m still shocked that this kind of work has to be done, that women need to hear how beautiful and wonderful and worthy they are. But I know that the more we do, the closer we get to the day that all women will be empowered enough to live the lives they dream of.
No, I thought. Not dream of. It’s not illusive in the slightest. It’s not a maybe-possibility-someday. It shouldn’t be something other-worldly. It’s already here, waiting for us to tap into it. They shouldn’t be dreaming of it when the deserve it.
…all women will be empowered enough to live the lives they deserve.