How Will You Play the Hand You’ve Been Dealt?

Lay Your Cards On The Table

Sometimes life deals us a shitty deck of cards. In my case it was a seizure last summer that led to the diagnosis of a Stage III Anaplastic Astrocytoma in my brain, a malignant brain tumor. My lifestyle and approach to life has shifted, in some ways dramatically, thanks to this diagnosis and my treatments.

We all have a life path that shows itself over time, some of the time it’s bumpy and ugly, some of the time it’s smooth and beautiful. In my view it’s not worth consistently focusing on the details of the bumps, obstacles and challenges but rather understanding how to grow through them. How do you play your hand and what do you learn from the bumps and the joy along the way?

The way I play is by following a simple and perhaps equally complex rule. Be honest. Find your truth and share it openly. Regardless of how difficult it may be, speaking your truth and living in it with everything you do will always lead you to freedom and health. That’s because the truth is always love, even if it really hurts.


Standing on a bench in DTLA speaking some truth (Photo:  Summit Series )

Standing on a bench in DTLA speaking some truth (Photo: Summit Series)

What does this actually mean in practice?? It means this…

1) Understand where you’re out of alignment — What are you hiding from yourself and the world around you? What are the secret fears or anxieties you cover up with substances, food, relationships, exercise…?

Do whatever it takes to discover what you’ve been hiding and expose it, release it and shift into deeper alignment with your body, with taking real care of yourself and in turn, those around you.

If you need help, ask your friends and family for honest feedback, they’re often the best at identifying where you may be hiding something that no longer serves you. Healers and therapists are often also great at helping you uncover your blind spots and releasing them.

In healing my body and getting feedback from friends, family and healers, I’ve found I have been out of alignment in many ways (diet, exercise, breathing, holding tension, judgements and how I spend my time). As I’ve opened up and committed to shifting into truth, I am in turn committing to self-love and healing.

2) Surrender to what is and find love there — The truth is what’s happening now, even if you’re out of wack, depressed, in a job that doesn’t fulfill you, it doesn’t really matter. If you can learn to love yourself and where you’re at, while striving to cultivate more alignment and loving that process too, you are being true to yourself. Embrace the reality of now and take action steps to make changes that support your path to fuller alignment.

Throughout my diagnosis and treatment I’ve remained generally in a state of acceptance and overall joy. Yes, there’s been some pain and discomfort going through surgery, being on a restrictive diet, having focal seizures, getting blood taken and regular MRIs, being radiated and chemotherapized… but throughout I’ve kept a generally neutral and often positive attitude as much as I could. Accepting and even loving what is happening in the moment allows me to heal, this is my truth and I honor it as it evolves and shifts.

3) Practice Patience — It’s so important to be patient. I’ve found patience is the ultimate act of self-love. When we are patient, we can surrender to the now, we can accept the process and let the body heal. We’re resilient beings and will heal in time, if we’re impatient and stressed we’re actually just prolonging the path to heal as the body responds to stress with more dis-ease.

I’ve experienced a good deal of weakness in my muscles and leg through recovering from surgery, diet and my treatments. Things come up and sometimes I feel set back and disheartened but I know I need to relax into what’s true and not get anxious or impatient as it will only disrupt the path to healing.

4) Don’t let your stories stick — Let go of the limiting stories and beliefs you tell yourself and subscribe to. Even the things you discover as you begin to heal, let it all go, you are not your illness, you are not your traumas. You are an ever-evolving radiant source of light and power, use it while you got it!

I’ve had to release stories of what got me here, who may be responsible, who needs to be punished or judged and where I’ve completely held myself back in my own path. These stories only bring me and others around me down and keep me from growing and being in better health.

Pro tip — Google ways for identifying limiting beliefs and clearing them, there’s many!

The metaphor of laying your cards on the table in life couldn’t be more resonant with reading the Tarot

The metaphor of laying your cards on the table in life couldn’t be more resonant with reading the Tarot

5) Lay your cards on the table — Never give up your quest for truth and always share yourself with vulnerability and honesty. This practice is constant and never ends. The more you share your honest self, your desires, fears, challenges and loves, the more it will flow through you and you will evolve.

The act of writing about my dis-ease and the diagnosis is something I am challenged by, it’s honest yet being a cancer patient is not something I want to identify with. I do it because I believe it can help others with their own challenges and obstacles. We’re all human and we all have tough stuff come up, my intention is to share the lessons I’m learning as honestly and transparently as I can so they can be helpful to others.

In sharing my truth through writing, art and music I am also practicing healing acts of self-love.

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Ever notice how authentic vulnerability in any situation often leads to some form of love? Truth is love — be your truth openly and relentlessly and you will spread and receive love with just as much vigor.


Follow Ethan on Medium for more musings. This blog originally appeared on Medium on May 14, 2018.