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Reinventing yourself, with Lana Jelenjev
Episode 121st March 2022 • I'm Back! • Serena Savini
00:00:00 00:21:05

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Serena talks with Lana Jelenjev on the importance of community and rituals when returning to work after surviving breast cancer.

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Welcome to I'm back today, I'm going to have a conversation with Lana

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community health chemist, Y spirit, and my personal guardian engine.

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We are going to discuss coming back to work after an injury.

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The importance of communities and rituals.

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And also we are going to explore post-traumatic growth.

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Welcome to Lana.

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So what means I'm back for you?

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First.

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It's a pleasure to support you on this is a very powerful way to tell our

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stories and also to empower others students, to share their stories.

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I'm very fortunate that you've asked and they're much yeah, very

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much into the zone of thinking.

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What is back for me?

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I know and I'll put it in the context of my, part of my story was

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when I was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 37, that it was

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such a pivotal moment in my life.

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My mom passed away from breast cancer at the age of 49, and that

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has really left a big mark in the way then I started viewing life, like,

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okay, how do I really live life?

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And I remember one instance where I was crying and telling my

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husband or I don't want to live without, It's tied to my question.

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Yeah.

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How would it be to live a legacy rather than leaving a legacy behind?

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And one of the very, I would say very precious memory that

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I had a few years after where a friend of mine was at our home.

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And then she started asking my daughter.

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Oh, are you more your mom or you or your dad?

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And then she started saying characteristics that she sees

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in me and that wasn't there.

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And I wasn't, I was just in another room, but I can hear the conversation.

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He started telling me, oh, my mom is without my kids.

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No, we, I don't want to die without my kids knowing who I am.

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And at that time I teach for five and seven and my husband just casually asked.

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So how do you want them to remember you?

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And I was still crying oh no I don't know.

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So, so that was from you is like a very big moment.

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And I, it was a moment of really asking myself, what

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does it really mean to live in?

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What does it really mean to be in full expression of myself?

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So that I'm back really is tied to that.

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this and this and this.

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And that's when I felt, oh, wow.

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She knows me.

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And she sees.

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And that's one of the moments that I know for myself that I said, oh, I'm back.

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And this is where for me, it's like when people see and hear and feel

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my presence and the fullness that I can bring in those spaces, then

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that's when I say, okay, I'm back.

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Uh, So powerful and so beautiful.

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I'm really interested in the legacy aspect because for example, when we

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are coming back to work, it's really easy to forget that we are there.

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We are present we can uh, Certain legacy.

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And I was wondering, I was for you to come back to work and to find a

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new professional identity after that?

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Oh it did take a process and I did take long to get into that.

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One of the biggest parts that, that I had to.

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I would say understand for myself was what is it exactly that I

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need in different situations?

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So at that time while I was moving through therapy, I also took

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non-violent communication trainings.

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That started first with, oh, I want to understand myself.

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And it was so powerful that I I also to trainings to be a trainer

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because I felt that it was so crucial in understanding yeah.

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How they want to show up.

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And I know Carlos Saba from the Happy Startup since then sharing enough,

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that idea of leading with needs.

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And I don't, that's been a pivotal part of my practice of really checking

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in with myself and asking myself, is this, is this how I'm feeling and is

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this what I need at any given moment?

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And to make that as a practice, because I'm like this checking in for

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me, it was like, it's so fundamental.

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And yet, I didn't even know how to do that.

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Not until I was 37 and the boy through chemotherapy.

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And there was a point where my husband was not home because he

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had to go to work and already after chemotherapy, he stays with me.

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So he had to go to work and I was so frustrated.

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It was like, he's not even messaging me.

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He's not even, well, they ask how I'm doing.

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And then it felt like a brick in my head of like, not, I'm like, goodness, you're

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37 years old and you're still waiting for another person to ask you how you are.

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So I did this experiment for a year, were in, I had an alarm set

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on my phone and that said for nine o'clock, 12 o'clock, six o'clock.

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And anytime that alarm comes off, my only question to myself was checking moment.

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How are you doing Lana?

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How are you feeling?

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And that became a practice for me, gave a practice to such a point that

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we, I would say I also put feelings and needs cards in the toilet.

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So for those who come to our house at that point, yes, we did have a

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feelings and needs cards in the toilet.

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And the question of how are you feeling today?

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So for me, that, that became one of the crucial pillars of, you know, there's

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this chunni into myself to really figuring out how I'd wanted to uh, was checking

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in with myself on a regular basis.

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And understanding of, is this the course of action or is this the

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way that I'd want to go about it?

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Or even if it's this a project that I want to say?

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Yeah,

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And it seems like our, it one that you set for yourself.

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And I feel that sometimes we need the rituals and we need community.

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Also from our ancestors, from our history, from our an ancient knowledge to

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being able to cope with life, actually,

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definitely, especially with and a healing is not something that we need,

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that we need to do in isolation, in a needs to accommodate within communities.

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Given that I'm a Filipina, who's not reciting here in the Netherlands.

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At that point I had, yeah, I had friends.

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I had acquaintances.

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I had people that I would say, okay, I know them.

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But they came to a point where are they?

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The type of people that I would easily call at 3:00 AM when I

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needed to be rushed to the hospital and the kids are left at all.

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So there's that, that happened at one point.

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And that made me realize the importance of really deeply connecting with people

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and how to nurture those relationships.

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So community's definitely a big piece of that.

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And then when we, especially when we're looking at, going back to

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work for in the times where we're still in the healing phase or.

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It's important that we have that support available for us.

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And if for me, one of the things is I didn't have that ease in

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Esau they did to make it happen.

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And I decided to figure out, okay, how can I find the support that I

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needed and be able to articulate what type of support is needed?

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It's also crucial.

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So yes, community is important and rituals are important because it helped

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me ground myself to my intentions.

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It helped me to to say, okay, if the, in my full yes is crucial to my

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healing, how can I practice this more?

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In what ways can I yeah.

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In what ways can I find, pockets of practices where this in show up.

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So having certain rituals help me in reminding me to my intestines

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and also really anchoring me to them

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and being in your fullness when you are not, well, it could be really hard.

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And So I'm wondering how can you have the courage to be your fullness

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when you are not well at all?

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Oh, well, that's a, that's an interesting question.

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And that I would say I struggled with at the start.

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I struggled a lot with the idea of.

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I am enough.

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Mainly because again, art, yeah.

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Art culture, part of what they've seen in society, part of what I've

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experienced with my mom, yeah.

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That, that there's a brokenness that we attached to illness.

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And I had to navigate into that finding fullness.

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Like one thing that I remembered was I even wrote a blog post about it at

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that time, like finding success and what's the measurement of success.

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And I realized that success is arbitrary and success at that time when I was going

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through chemotherapy and where I didn't have energy at all, meant that I can

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go downstairs and be with my kids for 30 minutes and make them laugh and, and

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be there for them for that period, for that 30 minutes that I was with them.

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And that was success.

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Uh, So the old me would be judging it as, oh my goodness.

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On that.

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You're not good active.

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, you're not doing these how they're expanded that people are expecting you

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to do so for me, the feel fullness, I had to reframe it for myself.

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So I think to really get in that, oh I am full I am.

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And then the illness is a part of what I'm going through or what

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I went through, but it does not define mindfulness as a person.

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So for me, it was really shifting that narrative for myself, helped

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me to realize that, oh, the things that I was holding on to.

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And the paradigms that I had around illness around productivity around success

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have been predefined for me by others.

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And that I have the agency for define it for myself.

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And the word success is really linked to societies and standards.

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What is needed or seem needed in the work environment.

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And it's true.

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Sometimes coming back to work and be successful on just means to be

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back and to be there and to show up.

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But I think the working environment is not ready yet.

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I think we need to do any healing process so far the working

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environment, but what do you think?

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Yeah, this is for me, this integration back before, it's something that we need

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to build in our systems, whether it is in the working meant, whether it's in the

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school settings, whether it is within the home and Ironman and within ourselves.

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I remember that there was really.

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Desire in me to understand how do I redesign life after breast cancer?

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Because I really had to question a lot of things and that questioning

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comes in many different forums.

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Like.

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That time do not put me in a grocery, mainly because I'll be there more

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than an hour, looking through labels, looking at stuff and judging it, will

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this be good for my body or will this not be good for my body eventually

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going out and not buying anything because I'll just be like, overthinking.

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And that was really a struggle for me.

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So this reconfiguration back to society due to our work is very crucial

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because for me, what I felt and what I've experienced was there so much

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support for people while you're in the thick of it while you're within the

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medical field, and then after that, you're just left to your own devices.

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Whereas.

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As far as I've read there's actually more pieces of depression after

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treatment because that's when the support is no longer there.

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And people expect that.

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You're out of treatment, so you're okay now.

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You can just go back to whatever it is that you're doing.

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So for me, meet integration needs to be a crucial part of our systems,

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especially the working system.

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The work environment needs to provide that soft landing where people can meet

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themselves depending on how their time, their energy, their focus, uh, Our at

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that given moment, because you cannot just expect someone who has gone through

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a very painful, oftentimes traumatic life event and expect them to say here, here's

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your pilot board, come on, do this now.

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Um, So for me, what makes a human centered work environment is when we can add in the

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soft landing spaces for people, especially for people who have gone through a lot

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and are needing in a needs, needs a work through to also add into their fullness.

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It also needs the support of colleagues for that and how the work

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field, wherever you're, wherever you are and support, that would be

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tremendous in one's healing process.

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And then wondering if this is also connected to the notion of

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post-traumatic growth for you.

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Yeah.

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Oh one of the things that I realized again that this narratives, right.

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And the language was this idea of PVC post-traumatic growth.

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And I only came across that mainly because I was struggling with

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what is gone, what's happened.

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And I was like, what happened in my life?

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Fucking boundaries where, before it was not there.

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Uh, So I started filtering through friendships, losing some and

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gaining a lot in the process.

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I started really considering what spirituality meant for me.

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And at that time, I think I have an idea of what is going on, People

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expected for me to go back to normal.

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And what I was thinking at that time was like, there's no going back

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in RMO for me because that old me had played a role in any of the.

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So, so that cannot be my path.

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So who's the new me.

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And yeah the learner that I was, yeah.

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That I am, I got into reading about post-traumatic growth and.

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Oh, this is me.

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This was a process that I fit through that I needed to set the boundaries.

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I needed to say no to friends before and cultivate other relationships if necessary

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in the understand, the difference between religion and spirituality.

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And so maybe aspects of the things that I started shifting.

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I realize it was because of post-traumatic growth.

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Yeah.

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It has been a traumatic experience for me and for my family, for my

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loved ones and that they were, amidst the pain and needs the struggles.

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There's also growth that is available in the process.

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It does not take the trauma.

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It does not take the pain away.

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It only shows that there is.

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Learnings and strengths that are inherently there and that we can

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take from in this situations.

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It's a beautiful Lana.

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Any, it gives me hopes, not only for myself, but for other people.

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Do you want to give a last message to everyone with listening right now?

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If there's something has helped me a lot in my own healing in my own is to really

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tune in with, and what's alive in me?

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It's so easy to fall into despair.

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It's so easy to fall into.

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Oh, this is not working.

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And the deficit, we see the deficits we see what's not there.

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And I just wanted, invited everyone start also really in our strengths.

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The start also bringing what's already there that we can celebrate.

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So instead of be so immersed in, what's not working, how can we also amplify

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in our language, in our conversations, in in how we interact with each

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other and how interact with it?

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How can we leverage more of surfacing what's already there.

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If we can get into the space of, you know, harvesting our strengths,

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harvesting the potentials that are already there, obviously even just the thought

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that we're breathing and we're here.

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Even if it's just that, that you can find something to celebrate, take

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that in, take those micro moments of celebration and take it in as much

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as you can as many doses as you can.

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To help guide you through your healing for you to be back and a, not with

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what society is telling you to be.

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And this is also why I love the definition of labor Scalia about love.

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Love is the process of me leaving you gently back to yourself.

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So how can we start loving ourselves so that we can lead ourselves

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back to us, to our essence?

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thank you.

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Thank you so much, Nana.

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My pleasure.

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Really was my pleasure.

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thank you for listening.

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If you enjoy this episode.

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Please share it with others, with friends, the needs to hear

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this meaningful conversation.

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For more information, you can visit the website, serenheart.com.

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You have the link in the description

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Thanks again.

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