For as long as I can remember I have loved October because October means Halloween! You see, I wasn’t one of those people who go all in with costumes and decorations. Nope. For me, Halloween was all about the CANDY! I mean, going from door to door and getting free candy? Nothing was better. My siblings and I would roam the neighborhood for hours until our pillow case bags were full. When we returned home, Mom laid out a big sheet in the middle of the living room floor. Each one of us would take a corner of the sheet (perfect for four kids!), dump out our bags, do a quick inventory and then… the trading began! My brother didn’t like anything with nuts. My older sister loved the Milky Ways. My little sister liked Snickers. And me? Well, I just like the MASS amounts of candy. I’d try it all. Gummy, chocolate, even the funny looking little wrapped things that you can only find during Halloween. It didn’t matter. I just loved having so much candy to choose from!
Years later, becoming a Mom re-awakened my love of Halloween. When my boys were small, I had a great time dressing them in the adorable, overpriced costumes that generally only stayed on them long enough to take a picture. I have vivid memories of my boys dressed as Humpty Dumpty, an adorable bear, a bat, and Shaggy from Scooby-Doo. Once home from trick or treating, I continued the tradition of dumping the candy on a sheet in the middle of the living room floor and delighted as I watched our boys trade. And afterwards, I loved raiding their stashes of candy. Yep- I was a bad mom, stealing from my own kids. Luckily, they didn’t really catch on until they were much older.
Now that the boys are ‘too cool’ for costumes, (well, they’re really too old, but I’d still love to see them dressed up!) I’ve realized I can just go out and buy all the candy that I like. Once home, I hope that we don’t get a lot of trick or treaters at the door so that there’s enough left for me to indulge. OK, I’ll admit to turning off our porch light a little early so that we’d have some left for ourselves. Guilty as charged.
Those are some of my best October memories. But there are some that aren’t so pleasant. Like the time I was pregnant with our first child and subsequently lost her. We were initially told that her loss was the result of a virus I’d contracted, most likely from handing out Halloween candy to children. Yeh, that one took me a while to work through and inevitably, it was false.
And since 2018, this month has become meaningful in a different way because October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. I think back to the blessing of how I discovered my cancer. A miracle, really.
I was lurking on Facebook when I saw a post by someone I’d known in high school. She was sharing about how she’d been cancer free for a couple years. I’d not even been aware of her diagnosis. I found it interesting, but not a huge standout in the many things I was reading that day. Except maybe it was. Because when I went to take my shower a little later that day, something, (this is the miracle part) something amazing happened. I heard a whisper. A very gentle whisper that said, “Sarah, check your breasts.” Hmmmm… OK. Up until then, I’d done regular breast checks, and kept up with my doctor’s appointments and mammograms, so I was a bit surprised by the message of the whisper. But I followed the guidance and did the check. That’s when I felt the lump and my journey with breast cancer began.
I’ve often thought about that whisper. What if I’d not followed through with the wisdom it offered? Better to not go too far down that path. And I think about the many whispers I’ve gotten in my lifetime. Moving to San Diego after living in New York for several years. Auditioning for a musical where I would eventually meet my husband. There was even a whisper a moment before the phone rang with news that my doctor needed to see me after my biopsy. The whisper told me the phone was going to ring. It prepared me. Big events that started with a gentle whisper.
And I think about these whispers in general. Where do they come from? What part of me is able to access them? Are there whispers I choose to ignore?
I know that in order to hear a whisper, we must first be quiet. The world can be loud around us, but if we’re quiet within ourselves, we can still hear them. So staying intentional about finding quiet time is key for me. I also find that acknowledging the whispers out loud is helpful. Most of the time I’ll respond to them with, “Oh, that’s interesting,” or “Thank you very much.”
So this October, as I reflect on the past, I also take stock of the present and look ahead to my future. I have so much to be grateful for: My health. My husband. Our children. Our abundance. Our comfort. Our freedom. And those miraculous whispers.
I encourage you, dear reader, to listen to your gentle whispers as well. They are full of wisdom and guidance.
And after you’ve done your breast check, treat yourself to a bit of candy. Because you know, everything’s better with a little bit of sweetness.
P.S.– I share my experience with breast cancer in my book, My Breast Life, One Woman’s Journey Through Cancer Blog by Blog that was released two years ago. I’ve thought many times about going back in and cleaning up my writing, but there’s something to the rawness of the initial publication that is worth leaving alone. I also feel that revisiting the experience no longer serves me. So enjoy it as it is. Because the book’s flaws serve as a metaphor for my new breasts: dents, dimples and all. Perfect, wonderful flaws.
Sarah Altman worked in the entertainment industry before becoming a career mom. With a curiosity in the human inner experience, Sarah earned a Master’s Degree in Spiritual Psychology and her writing has evolved as a way to share her learnings. When she’s not busy with her mom duties, you can find Sarah nestled up, writing on her computer or indulging in a British period piece on television. Sarah lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two boys, who bring her love, joy and laughter every day. Her book, My Breast Life, One Woman’s Journey Through Cancer Blog by Blog, is available on Amazon.
Image courtesy of Anna Tarazevich.