What To Do With A Spinning Compass

“The insurance company approved the right breast, but hasn’t approved the left yet,” the surgical planner announced to my husband and me as we sat in the waiting room.

Walking into The Miami Cancer Institute that morning, this was the last thing I had expected. A couple of months of uncertainty had lead me to this point. An excisional biopsy. And an answer.


“I’m so sorry,” she said, her mask muffling the words.

“They know I have two, right?” I asked. The young woman looked stricken. This whole thing had turned seriously unfunny.

She offered another surgery date over a month away. There would be no pathology report for ten days after that. More waiting, more uncertainty.

Something about this continued upheaval rang familiar.

When I was a kid, right after my parents divorced, we became nomads. Mom left and my dad uprooted what was left of our family. We moved from our home in Albuquerque across the country and kept right on moving. No sure footing for years. Over and over, I’d ask if this time we’d be staying, desperate to regain a sense of belonging somewhere—like I had in New Mexico. Actually, I didn’t know I had that until it was gone.

The constant uncertainty left me feeling unmoored, not just from my home, but from everything.

My internal compass had started spinning once again.

As I sat there, listening to Mark curse the no good thieves at our insurance company, it dawned on me. Yes it sucks to wait more, it really does suck. But. This was found time. I had planned for my recuperation. Post surgical orders had me wrapped in tight bandages for ten days, no exercise or even a shower. No swimming in the ocean for thirty days after that. This further delay handed me back all that time.

But what to do? I could hardly feel the vinyl bench beneath me, let alone figure out what I needed.



We drove home. I snipped off my hospital band and went about my work.

It took a couple of days to sink in. Running my favorite route under the trees helped put me back in my body. It became clear that I needed to go off somewhere and take care of myself. I had options but felt overwhelmed with the decision. Coaching is great for this so I reached out to my fellow coaches and swapped sessions.

A compassionate witness asking powerful questions without giving advice brought out the answers that were already inside me. I will share those great questions with you in case you have a big decision to make. At the end of this inquiry, I had a plan:

What do you really need? 

Peace. I had to get away on my own. But deciding where to go was a whole thing. We have a big family trip in two weeks. I have to treat my body with care, especially in the run up to this operation.

What will help you decide? 

Being sure everyone would be okay at home and all would be peaceful in the place I chose to go. I have three teens here on summer break, one of whom I have been stealthily hovering over since the pandemic started. Adult eyes would need to be on him.

What are the options?

A group of friends were headed to a big lake house at the foot of the Alps. On paper, that seemed like the easy answer. Plenty of room, spectacular nature, and I was invited. Travel would be a full day or more. And another option. All these tests had required me to cancelled plans to go to Sedona. A dear family friend had suggested it. She is like a sister but without all the actual family history and lingering complications. On my last trip to New Mexico we decided we would stay in better touch.

What would peace look like for you? 

Mountains, green chile, and my dear friend.

I called her yesterday to float the idea of my coming. In the span of five minutes, she had cancelled her holiday weekend plans to spend it with me. I found an idyllic, seventy-seven acre property in Santa Fe with lovely casitas and hiking trails. One miraculously became available. There would be mountains, green chile and my dear friend. I’d spend the rest of the week down in Albuquerque, popping in on other friends who are like family. One little room at the inn on a lavender field would be mine. At the end of the week, I have no idea what I am doing. It is a welcome uncertainty—one of my own making for a change. With those remaining days, I will do what suits me.

When your compass is spinning, nature, movement and powerful questions will help slow it down. 

“Security lies in adapting to constant change.”*

When you are finally pointed in the direction that is right for you, you get the sense that it’s all going to be okay.



POWERFUL QUESTIONS: What do you need to bring peace? What helps you decide what that looks like?

*Martha Beck said this in Finding Your North Star: Claiming the Life You were Meant to Live. I highly recommend it. She is brilliant.

I’ve started a coaching practice. This work leads to uncovering what is holding you back and how to overcome those obstacles. With the right questions, you will figure out what you might tweak to direct yourself toward what you really want. If you are interested, I invite you to email me to schedule a Discovery Session at This work will change your life.

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