I’m so pleased to share Dena Taylor’s experience with the I Welcome Change Post-it Note Challenge. Dena inspires not only with her wicked fun wit, but also with the beauty and grace with which she handled her 2006 battle with cancer and is now supporting her mother’s cancer treatment. Watching her navigate the world of cancer with optimism, an iron will and a sense of humor is a reminder to take a moment each day to find the magic behind whatever perceived darkness has presented itself. Dena has worked with her Post-it Note Mantra for over a month now, and made a surprising realization about the importance of choosing the right intention for welcoming change into her life . . .
“I WELCOME ENERGY?” NOT SO FAST.
By Dena Taylor
“We can only choose one?”
We were on our second round of drinks at Austin’s Salty Sow — the round where I, along with a group of intriguing and talented women, were committing our personal “I welcome _________” intentions onto Post-its as part of Kee Kee’s I Welcome Change Post-it Note Challenge.
I thought we could write multiple intentions on multiple Post-its to help influence a positive shift in our lives. I was coming off of a roller-coaster six months and was hoping to cover a lot of ground. Land more work, pay off debt, help Mom through chemo, finish the next manuscript draft, update the website, buy Zumba pants that didn’t cut off my circulation.
A little embarrassed (I seemed to be the only one who misunderstood) and wanting to keep up with the other women, I stayed with my original thought and came up with the one thing that would enable me to do all of the other things on my list: Energy. On six different Post-its, in six different styles, I wrote, “I welcome energy.” I dressed them up with dots and squiggles for added zest. One even got something reminiscent of a lightning strike while another features Energy en Francais.
Back home, I strategized placement of the notes considering the locations where I spend most of my time. Places like my desk where I spend hours working; my couch where I stream unhealthy amounts of the true crime show “Disappeared” while Googling each show’s missing subject(s) to see if they’ve been found since the episode aired, while also searching Zappos.com for a fun new sandal for spring; the kitchen, where without a microwave and general distrust of the dishwasher, I spend hours making dinner and doing dishes; the bedroom, where I read and sleep while the occasional train thunders by; and the bathroom where I practice good hygiene and Skype with Mom. (Mostly kidding there.)
Within minutes I had adorned my desk lamp, end table, stove wall, vase near the kitchen sink, and nightstand with Post-its beckoning Energy, with the pièce de résistance being the floor in front of the toilet — an untapped high-traffic goldmine of vulnerability sure to yield results.
Isn’t that what coffee and smoothies are for? Over the next few weeks, I stared at the Post-its and read them aloud. I envisioned a pulsing red beam of electrons between each one and my brain provoking a more bionic version of myself to come forth. But as the month mark approached, still straining to get out of bed every morning, I had to admit I didn’t feel like anything had changed. I was welcoming Energy but Energy for what?
“To get stuff done!” I told myself. “To catch up, be productive, visit Mom. To coax my inner Lindsay effing Wagner at speeds exceeding 60 miles per hour!”
That’s when I realized that Energy as an intention isn’t an intention at all, not how I was thinking of it anyway, like some magical elixir that would transform me into someone I’m not. It reminded me of a profile I once read on Match.com: “I’ll sleep when I’m dead,” the high-energy bachelor wrote.
“Probably a good sign he’s manic or addicted to an illegal substance,” I thought, skipping to the next profile. “Nothing wrong with a good night’s sleep.”
No, my choice of Energy was a reaction to feeling overwhelmed, which after traveling, Mom’s cancer diagnosis and having to move out of my apartment unexpectedly, was understandable. It was a decision made in haste, which has a tendency to bite you in the ass. If you’ve ever spontaneously imbibed in a shot of tequila after three glasses of wine or moved in with your lover after just three weeks of dating, you’ll know what I mean.
If anything, I needed stillness in which to take a breath and just be. Then to consider the Challenge’s original idea so seamlessly presented on Kee Kee’s site.
“…if we consciously welcome a change…we will start to be more mindful of moving in this direction. We may not see change overnight, but eventually this small change in our mindsets will lead to major revelations in our lives.”
My post-over-it challenge. With stillness came reflection. And with reflection, a simple prevailing desire arose, which surprisingly had nothing to do with spacious Zumba pants. My prevailing desire was and is to complete the next draft of my manuscript. It’s a memoir, the most recent draft of which I’ve been working on for nearly a year — anxious to finish it yet afraid to let it go. So without rushing it or dragging it out, I welcome its thoughtful completion, and trust I’ll know when that time has come.
Paper Cheerleaders. I haven’t written my new intention on Post-its yet nor have I taken down the old, which surprises me. Normally when I’m finished with a To-do list, note-to-self or Chinese delivery menu that was rubber-banded to my front door, I throw it away. But I’m in no hurry to toss the Energy Post-its. Each time I see one, bursting with color and a squiggle, I’m reminded of the night I went to the Salty Sow — the night I got to join a remarkable group of women in daring to welcome positive change, in rejecting complacency for growth. Like little paper cheerleaders, they remind me that whatever my intention, those ladies have my back and I theirs. When I let that sink in a funny thing happens: I feel stronger, inspired, and something starts to shift.
Dena Taylor lives and writes in Austin, TX. In addition to her brilliant wordsmithing on behalf of her clients, she is writing a memoir about her 2006 battle with breast cancer. Visit her website Denataylor.com and on twitter at @DenaTaylorTime.