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A few years ago I found a lump in my breast. My sister had had very aggressive breast cancer, so when I felt it, an alarm went off in my head. I rushed to the doctor and had tests done immediately.
Afterward I waited in a panic for the results. The doctor came in looking grave—then told me that I didn't have cancer. But that wasn't the end of our talk. He told me, "Every day I have to tell a woman she's got a disease that might kill her. Each one of them says, 'I didn't get a chance to do this,' or 'I should have done that.' I don't want you to be one of those women." He suggested I take one day a week to "connect"—not just with family or friends or God, but with myself. He said I ought to make sure I was setting aside time to do what fulfilled me.
At first I told him, "I'm a mom—I can't spend a whole day on myself!" But deep down I knew he was right. At that point in my life, I constantly felt as if I needed to prove my worth, and I was working way too hard to do it. People close to me called me "Curry in a Hurry." I was moving through life at 100 miles an hour trying to further my career and be a great mom and make everyone happy. But this conversation brought me to a screeching halt. My doctor wasn't just saying that I needed to find a hobby; he was saying I deserved to spend my time doing what I truly wanted to do.
Photography had always been on the top of my "shoulda coulda woulda" list, so once a week, I started telling my family, "I need 30 minutes to go shoot some pictures." I gradually upped the time, walking around my neighborhood snapping photos. My two kids protested my absence at first, but when they saw the pictures, they began to understand. I also started taking better care of myself—working out, eating my greens, and giving myself a breather when I need it. When you treat yourself right, you run better and more efficiently. Which means you don't have to go 100 miles an hour to get everything done.
In the time since I had that chat with my doctor, I've learned to be deliberate about how I spend my time on this Earth. I choose to fill my days with what I'm passionate about, and live with purpose. In the end, I want to be able to say, "My life was what I made it."
More Ways to Slow Down and Savor Life
From the November 2011 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine
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