This is an image of my dear daughters and me, thriving in 2015. We weren’t always this strong and courageous. Working through breast cancer in 2013 was hard, and sometimes scary. But one of the best pieces of advice I have heard through many teachers is that when faced with emotional crises, it’s imperative that we take care of ourselves before we can possibly take care of our loved ones. Just like on an airplane, when we’re reminded to attach our oxygen mask first and then assist our children, so it is when facing a hardship. We have to be strong first, so that we can be strong for them.

I have found this strength through asking others to help, through being sure I don’t become too busy, ensuring I get enough sleep, and making sure that my relationships feed my soul. I’ve also relied heavily on spiritual guides through therapy, at church, and in small group meetings. We never have to travel alone. Sometimes the hardest step is asking for help, in this society where we’re raised from infancy to be strong and do it on our own. But it’s really in seeking the right guides for us and in making space for ourselves, that we become centered and strong–and planted firmly like the trees and boulders in the forest.

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