Monday, April 21, 2014

First Responders

Today is the Boston Marathon. A year ago on April 15, tragedy hit the marathon, and I'm sure most of us know what that tragedy was and what the outcome has been. I don't want to linger on the negatives, but I do want to share this story. There are countless similar stories along with portraits of those survivors.

I want to honor those who survived and those who have made it possible for these folks to be alive and to move on with their lives. These "First Responders" are truly heroes. I see them as folks who are responsible (by choice) for saving lives.

I have had a group of first responders near me most of my life. They may only touch my life long enough to pull me out of crisis, to long-term - keeping me safe and helping me heal.

This group includes the following -

Eve - She taught me how to mother; how to make time to play with my children, how to come to my children's cries with "dry hands." She taught me how to dance in the rain, how to laugh. She taught me the importance of mammograms and self-exams, thus saving my life; neglecting this eventually took her life.

Anne and Renea - When the going gets tough, the tough creates - and these women saved me by nurturing my creativity. 

Karin ae - She gave me language to thoughts that had no words. She taught me how to write, how to validate my voice. She taught me how to live in my authenticity, how to think deep and be comfortable with that. She saved my life and my voice when I thought it was leaving me - by sharing her truth with me. She listened, she listens. She teaches me about moving forward.

Debby - She shared her world with me - teaching me the fine arts of quilting and life in the south, and she saved my life by catching me when I needed to run.

Shirlene - She taught me how to laugh with myself. She saved my life by laughing with me, and crying with me. She taught me how to be true. She gave me laughs in the darkest of times.

Marv - He took a chance with me, and we have been best friends ever since. His favorite word is "competent," and he trusts me, because I am competent. He taught me, "It is what it is." He teaches me that life is about progress - moving forward.

Cody - She pushes me. She saves me daily by teaching me to trust her, and I do. She teaches me, “Never be ashamed of a scar. It only means you are stronger than what tried to hurt you.”

David - He taught me I was "worth more." He taught me by sharing his knowledge of the business world and his male-based creative writing with me. He taught me about being resilient.

Cortney - He taught me about relationships. He keeps me young.

Nick - He taught me how to trust the camera. This lesson has been important as I learn to let go of fear, to not be afraid. 

Scott - He teaches me daily. He adores me. I am the most important thing/person in the world. Through him I am learning I can be loved, I am loveable. He saved me by saving himself; he has taught me about unconditional love. He is my first-responder and stick-with-it-forever responder.  He has taught me to have "more heart" and "Love is stronger than terror." He is a portrait of holding the ones he loves close. He has taught me I don't need to be strong alone, that we can be stronger together.

Jenna - She saved me by allowing me to rear my best friend - she is my gift. She was my first-responder with my cancer announcement. She kept me out of the cancer mode by sharing her daily life with me. When we were together, I was not a breast cancer patient; I was Mom.

John Banse, April 15, 2013, Boston Marathon Survivor said, "My soul is so full of gratitude that there is no room in me for sadness, anger, or fear." Because of the first responders in my life, I can say the same. 

Who are the First Responders in your life? 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

What a difference a year makes -

April 17, 2014, Hogle Zoo with Scott, Daniel and Autumn and family

April 17, 2013, Radiation oncology, last radiation treatment

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Be True -

One of the most profound bits of advice I've ever, ever, ever heard/read, from a website I absolutely adore:

Go. There. Now. 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Nine Months' Post -

During my 4th week of chemo (2nd treatment) I went to dinner with 2 friends. I clearly remember telling them, "I hope I hurry and learn all I need to from this cancer journey, so I don't have to learn it again. I need to be as focused on this process as possible." And both of my friends saying, "I think your cancer and treatment will be something you'll continue to learn from, long after the treatments are finished." A light bulb went on in my head, and I knew they were speaking the truth. While my cancer treatment was the sprint, my cancer healing and learning is the marathon.

After reading Lynn Folkman's blog post this past week ( and her comment about healing being an ongoing process, I realized I am not the only one who feels this way, what a relief! The only difference is that Lynn is 5 years out, and I'm 9 months. However, I certainly am not the same person as before my diagnosis.

Differences? Well, I do get tired more easily. I've learned to honor that feeling and act on it. In the past I pushed and pushed, knowing that I could push past my limits and succeed. Now I know that if I push I will fall, so I try to not run faster than I can walk. I am learning to go to bed early, to relish the times I can sleep in, and to not feel guilty about needing a nap or saying "no." Yesterday afternoon I had lunch on my front porch, leaned back to soak in the sun and fell asleep. Hurray!

I cannot multi-task anymore. On our trip to Hawaii in March I was rushing to check voice messages, get into the store, listen to my husband, and think about what I needed to purchase, all at once. We hurried through the store, walked into the parking lot, I looked into my purse for the car keys (to the rental car we had to have back to the airport a half hour later), and I couldn't find them. I immediately knew where they were - on the seat of the car - the locked car. We were able to get help and make it to the airport on time, but I can no longer do more than one thing at a time, particularly if I want to be effective at any of the things I'm attempting to do. This is an extreme example, but I see my lack of multi-tasking skills significantly diminished.

I am prone to anxiety. Too many questions, too much pressure to perform, and too much on my plate set me off. I get a headache, feel as if the walls are closing in on me, I feel confused, and I just want to run away from the stimuli around me. I am learning to stop, take a deep breath, and either focus on one item or walk away for a few moments, while I sort through things. This past year I've taken to keeping the radio off in the car and focusing on my surroundings. This has kept my anxiety at bay as well as allowed me to refocus. Practicing mindfulness and making time to meditate have been good tools to keep that anxiety at bay.

I forget. This is the biggest issue for me these days. Often I cannot remember what I did or said 4 hours or 24 hours ago. If I don't make a concerted effort to remember to remember, then I don't. This is basically my short-term memory. Often I forget what I'm going to say and then remember shortly after forgetting. If I don't quickly say what I was thinking, or do something physical (jot it down, use my fingers are a reminder) I'll forget again. I forget my purse walking from my house to the car, not noticing until I need it. I forget words - and cannot find them - not on the tip of my tongue or in the filing cabinet in my mind. I went to a workshop 2 weeks ago, came home, and 24 hours later could not remember anything about the day! Thank heaven I took notes!

Now these are the "bad" side-effects of cancer treatment. My doctor told me to consider my chemo brain and lack of energy to be similar to someone suffering from a traumatic brain injury and to treat this time and the healing process as such. So I do brain games (think Luminosity), I read a variety of material, I am sewing and crafting, I spend time writing, and most of all, I am learning to spend time "being" - to make time to do absolutely nothing. This tends to be the best time for me to heal.

The good news next post! 

This is my "Trust" and "Titanic" series - ha! 


Friday, April 4, 2014

Friday Luvin'

This tune has me moving this morning. A perfect way to begin the weekend.

I'm not happy with the way it uploads, so watch it here: "A Little Bit Of Love" by Mimi Knowles - 

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Place of Solace

While Scott and I were in Hawaii we talked about the places, hard core dirt on the ground, places where we find solace, solitude, respite. We love to travel; an adventure is always fun, always rewarding, and honestly, usually exhausting. Although Oahu and Kauai were spectacular, we came home tired. There was so much to see, so much to do, and we tried to get as much into our days as possible. Hence the tiredness that comes and then we need a vacation from our vacation. 

I'm a firm believer in traveling to places we enjoy (unlike places we went once and will never go again) at least twice. Once to get our bearings and the second time to relax and enjoy.

But, back to respite. Zion - yep, Zion, Springdale, Utah is that place for us. When we think of getting away from it all, taking a break, we are fortunate to have only 4 hours separating us from our home away from home. We have our our room away from home, we're familiar with the lay of the land, and we love the people; we don't have to be anyone besides Scott and Ronda. No matter how many times we have visited, we hate to leave for home, and we leave with rides to go on, hikes to take, places to explore, and rests to have for the next time. We leave already planning what we'll do upon returning.

Scott and I will most likely never leave Utah County. I'm coming to grips with this sad dose of reality. We will probably never have a second home in Jonesborough, Tennessee, although we'll continue to travel to the East. But we do have a place that is convenient, hospitable, and speaks our language just a few miles down the road.

So when we came home from Hawaii, we looked at each other and said, "Only 6 more weeks until Zion. We can make it until then."

Where do you go for respite, to have your cup filled?

I just finished a lovely book, The Orchardist, that Jenna suggested I read. I recommend it.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Wouldn't It Be Nice -

Scott and I have spent the last 10 days in Hawaii celebrating our 10 year anniversary. We had a wonderful time, and I won't bore ya'll with travel data and pictures, but I will say it was hard to come home to cold, windy, brown Utah.

But one thing I've been thinking about these past few days is this - you know how people say, "Party's over, back to the real world," or, "Time to go back to reality"? Well, what if vacation time is reality? What if that day to day life is only an "image" of the realness of vacation? (Think Plato's Chairness here.) What if daily life is an image of reality, but only an image, and when we're on vacation, that's when reality/truth is apparent?

I mean, think about it - on vacations we get to be our best selves, do what we love, spend time with whom we love, eat, sleep, drink our loves. And we capture the images of this and bring it 'back' as a reminder of the 'real.'

I'm hanging on to that - my daily life is amazing - I do what I love, with those I love, on a daily basis, so coming back/to was not that hard. However - the memories I bring home of that perfection, will linger, and I will continue to search for more opportunities to have that real time, as often as I can.

Dedicated to niece Kelley Marsden, who lives this so very well -