Put One Foot In Front Of The Other (Again and Again)

Thoughts by the writer in both first and third person, from one of the co-leaders of November Project Brooklyn—Sierra.

“Hello, Blog Post, my old friend…” Sierra here, with a little bit of STORYTIME to get you through your most recently updated, ‘slightly delayed,’ travel commute. This blog brought to you by the month of January and the saying, just show up.

We return to this feeling about the weather every year, after the majority of the late fall / early winter holidays, post new year’s…(fill in the blank), and right around the point where the resolutions start to be a laughingstock of your most inner thoughts. You there yet? It’s more apparent on the east coast, or anywhere the average temperature floats just under 20°F / -12° C plus or minus the wind chill. The main chatter and topic of conversation are the negative experiences around this typical seasonal shift, yet we know it’s going to go there. You’ll hear the full description of the whipping winds that feel like it’s cutting your cheeks, the black ice that now haunts your footsteps and tires around every turn, begging the question for every social or optional extracurricular, “Should I still go?”

To take a break from the Weather Channel, we give you a flash back from 2009-2010 when I was finishing my 4th round of chemotherapy to treat Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Talk about a segue, amiright? (Spoiler alert: I am in remission and will now get back to the story at hand) Every cancer diagnosis and treatment plan is different for each case, which are then adapted throughout it’s course depending on how the patient responds. My rounds of chemotherapy were broken up into two each – and for this story in particular, my 4th round is what I’m referring to which was compiled of session 7 and 8 of my bimonthly drugs.

This picture is actually from April 2010 when my hair loss couldn’t be hidden any longer with new, shorter hair cuts. And also depicts the evidence of Taco Bell.

At this point in my experience, I had been responding well to treatment and had returned close to my average weight prior to my diagnosis (shout out to Taco Bell, and the late night drives with Stocks & Gallo). Yet, at this point, this is where my mind began to seriously play tricks. I felt ‘healthy’ and I looked “healthier” than I had in 6 months, despite that Groundhog Day—new, large clump of hair that I woke up to on my pillow every morning. Yet, scans proved that there was still room to go before remission or proof that the drugs were holding the tumors at bay. So, here’s the tough part – do you stop going or do you keep showing up? Until this point, I stuck with the game plan and knew how I handled the ‘sit down’ aka The Drip aka sitting in a chair for hours putting one hell of a cocktail into my body. There are other factors to why that round of treatment will always stay with me. And, because of getting through those two sessions, I’m here typing a little blog post about showing up.

*Screen fades to black, bells chime three times, and a simulation of eyes blinking open to a cloudy sky (like the wall paper in Andy’s room from Toy Story) come into focus*

Cool, cool, Sierra – get to the point and back to the pleasure read of a whiny reaction to the forecast. My point is that time and pain and discomfort will not last. It will come to an end. Win or lose. Positive or negative. Result A or result B. Whether it’s a fight with a close friend, or training in the cold, or dealing with a physical or mental trial that seems to invade all aspects of your life—it has a countdown. What are you doing to get yourself out of that scary place that looks like you have no choice or support? Are you asking for help or advice? Are you reflecting on your relationship and seeing what you could do better or what you need to do to make it work or maybe facing the reality that you’re drifting apart? Are you somehow logging the miles by any means, letting THAT be the thing that matters? 

We go hard. We spread love. It’s the Brooklyn way.

My takeaway for you is this: getting through life alone is hard. Surrounding yourself with people who will hold you accountable and support you through it all, is a lifesaver. But they can’t drag or pull you with them. There in lies the beauty of November Project. Show up, on time, dressed for whatever the weather, in the freezing cold or ungodly heat, and watch the magic in overcoming the physical tests (sprinkled with some backyard playtime) to see how it could unlock your life to the next level. Facing celebration or defeat look different as outcomes, but that doesn’t mean the build up to that result or the pivot point into the next obstacle or challenge have to take on the emotion from what happened. You learn from these moments and you use them to guide you through the next phase, just make sure you don’t lose sight of that—no one likes to learn the same lesson twice.

As one of my favorite holiday lyrics go…P

Put one foot in front of the other
And soon you’ll be walking ‘cross the floor
Put one foot in front of the other
And soon you’ll be walking out the door

You all are resilient and capable.

Just, show up.



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