Take A Literal Break

For Breast Cancer Patients and Survivors - Take A Literal Break

Dr. Robin Dilley, PhD
Psychologist, Author and Speaker

Reflections of the past few months helped me create this blog. I previously wrote a series about Lesson’s from the Miller’s Daughter for Breast Cancer Patients and Survivors. When I was finished, I found myself fretting about what to write next. I have many series and ideas in my head but this reflective blog is about learning to carve out time to just be. If we were “bad” at “just being” before cancer, we really need to make it a priority post cancer or we will more than likely repeat old non-productive, unhealthy patterns that steal away our life at a cellular level rather than enhance, enrich, and bring a vivaciousness to our spirit. Here is a way to move out of the malaise of the daily to-do.

I found myself sitting here looking at my to- do list and wondering where in the world will I get the time to get all of this done. Then I looked at my list and realized there was not much on the list that I wanted to do and that is why I was just staring at it.

I cajoled myself by reminding myself how much better I would feel if I just knocked out one or two things from the list. I dutifully did that, came back to the list and saw all of the things that I had yet to do. I realized I had spun myself up in a knot by looking at my limitations and not at my accomplishments. Geez my critical voice became even louder, chastising me for being so negative and critical. I allowed that voice to ramble on and on in its self-defeating, provocative discourse of what a negative slug I had become. Finally, as in any abusive situation, I know I had a choice. I could roll over and agree with the voice, I could fight back, or I could get up and leave. I don’t know about you but I have never ever won an argument with a critic whether that be my internal critic or the multiple external critics in my environment. I also knew I did not want to roll over and agree with the critic because after ten minutes of the critic’s diatribe, I did know beyond any doubt that my critic was a liar. Those cursive words of always, never, should, could, failures were clearly lies. However, by that time I was just tired. Therefore, out of the three options that I could identify, I got up and left.

Yep, I left my critic, my to do list, shook my head, shook my body as to shake free of its shackles and got in my car and went to Starbucks. I ordered ice coffee and sat. I had no journal to force myself to be productive. I left my I-Phone at the office. I sat. I sipped. I breathed. I noticed. I practiced smiling. I thought about laughing. I took in the colors, smells, and noise all around me. I continued to breathe. I watched people talk and observed their level of happiness or non-happiness. I looked with envy as the medical students pounded away in their books. I remembered what it was like to be in school, to be free, to be excited about the next topic. I noticed myself relaxing. I felt my chest lighten. I found myself saying inside, “life is good.” A natural smile gently spread across my face. I felt different. I felt like I was doing something meaningful rather than calling the cable person or following up on a lost package. Life is good. I was alive. At that moment of being, I was alive, conscious, and present.

I finished my coffee. I got up and walked around the parking lot a bit, just noticing. I got in my car and drove back to my office. I looked the list and felt good. I can do these things. I can get them done. I just need awhile to be with myself and away from my internal taskmaster. I accomplished so much more than I ever thought possible. Yes, Life is Good.

Take a break from the mundane. Shut down your multi-media, social networking, and go be with yourself doing nothing. You don’t have to meditate, do yoga, exercise, lift weights, or catch up with an old friend. Just be with yourself until you re-enter your body, the present, and realize Life.

Dr. Robin DilleyDr. Robin B. Dilley, author of In A Moment’s Notice: A Psychologist’s Journey with Breast Cancer is a licensed psychologist in the State of Arizona. Her eclectic practice allows her to cross diagnostic barriers and meet clients in their need assisting them to respond to life in healthy and empowering ways rather than react to life’s circumstances.

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  1. Lenora Koo says:

    This is so applicable to my recent vacation. Technology was at a minimum, and we spent at least 1 1/2 to 2 hours on a dock in the evenings. A camera was always with me if I saw something I wanted to take a picture of, but there was no pressure to do anything other than relax and enjoy what was around us.


    • Lenora, I am so glad that “Take a Literal Break” was helpful. Your dock experience makes me want to go there. Have a wonderful day. Robin


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