Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Plans - Thank Heavens for the Future

Last year my only plans were to make it through chemo and radiation, surviving one day at a time, in fact, some days it was one hour at a time. There were hours when I really did not want to live, when the pain was too great to make it through another moment. It's not that I wanted to die, but really, chemo sucks (radiation was awful as well, but did not suck the life out of me like chemo did) - and it will never be my friend - more like a necessary evil, and sometimes I wonder how necessary. The bravest souls in the world are those who have reoccurring cancer and choose to go through chemo for a 2nd or 3rd time. I'm not sure that would be my choice.

Back to plans - my plans were to "make it through." Amen, that's it.

Aaah, how nice it is to be on this side of healing. Although I'm still weak, a little unsteady, have minimal feeling in my finger tips, and have no hair on some parts of my body, I'm healing. I'm losing that chemo weight, exercising, sleeping well, and have made it until this week without a cold (which is amazing with teaching school). I am progressing.

So my plans? Simple things really - visit with some friends who are here from afar, make Thanksgiving pies, eat Thanksgiving pies, create with my sisters, grade research papers, send Christmas cards, go to Snow White with Jenna and Tempest, go to Scott's work party with him (Jenna went last year), do a little Christmas shopping, cuddle a new grandbaby (due Christmas day), teach at UVU next semester, get the rest of my weight off, fit into my pants from last year, go on a trip to the south in the spring. So some plans are specific, already on my calendar in pen, and others are vague - still in the planning or delivery stages. I've found that I can't think or plan too far ahead - the anxiety this causes me is puzzling (because I am such a planner), but I'm mostly OK with preparing for the simple, for now.

I am truly grateful for tomorrow - for the next hour. Sometimes I have to pinch myself (OK, not really) because I feel so fortunate to have that next breath, and life is so good, and tomorrow will be as well.

I have a jewelry kiln! My sister, Paige, and I are making silver jewelry this week. Planning for this new adventure has been a blast - strengthening friendships while also pushing my brain forward -

Monday, November 25, 2013

Gratitude -

Last year this week I was so very sick from chemo. My blood counts were down, which meant I was susceptible to any cough, sneeze, touch germs that came my way. My uncle, Pete, and Scott spent this week entertaining me with their shed building antics, in our backyard. On Thanksgiving day Scott and I stayed home - I don't remember much else of that day. The next day Scott went to work, and I went to the hospital for rehydration.

Life does move on - forward for me. And I am grateful for this blessing. I read this thought early this morning, "Grace Always Win; It may look gloomy. you might feel like your world is slowly caving in. life may feel out of control and critics might be predicting your doom...but let's believe that the best is yet to come. it's not a silly cliche but a promise each of us can hold onto. let's go!!" Brought me to tears - truth does that to me.

Thanksgiving week is always emotional for me. As I make a concerted effort to pause and count my blessings I try to stay in the now - being grateful for the present. Yet this week, beginning with the Grace banner has already turned into one of retrospect. My head cold that started on Saturday also figures into this - I'm grateful for a cold! I'm grateful for knowing that all I have is a cold - and I'm grateful for a body that knows how to heal, how to be healthy. I'm grateful for a warm home, for Mentholatum, for cough drops, for clean drinkable water, for a job I can work from home, for warm yoga pants and fuzzy slippers, for plans that can be changed, for hot drinks, soft tissues.

I'm putting my Grace ring back on for the week - a constant reminder that living in Thanksgiving daily really is the winner.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Little Knowns About Me -

OK, I was asked to list 11 little known things about me, on Facebook. I started, then realized I'm better at listing if there's an explanation about those items on the list. So here goes -

1. I have a fear of heights. Mostly it's a really bad fear of falling. This summer Scott and I made a drive through a few of Utah's parks. There were 2 places where I was either in tears or sick to my stomach. My reasoning is this - we are but a twist of the steering wheel, a step back, a slippery spot, and the rest is history. I won't hike Angels Landing in Zion for this reason. It would be so easy to fall . . .

2. I am an introvert. I need quiet time. I can be in a group just fine, but then I need a few hours or a day to detox.

3. I like to push boundaries (calculated risks). Life is about progress - either through experiences or education.

4. I didn't learn to swim until I was 40 - I gave swimming lessons to myself as my birthday present.

5. I like clean. I don't like animal hair, dust balls, finger prints, old mail, clutter, footprints on the floor, hair in the tub.

6. I don't like bouncy foods. I don't care for: eggs, jello, gummy treats, string cheese or cheese curds.

7. I use my cancer as my barometer for doing anything or experiencing anything new. Such as - "Ah heck, I've had cancer, this can't be any worse." This makes dealing with difficult situations (such as sitting for 8 hours of chaplain training on Saturday) much easier to handle. 

8. Life is so good right now that some days I wonder "what's next." 

9. People trust me. I have so many folks who confide in me, often. I keep confidences and respect this gift of trust. I think many of my students think of me as their "aunt/mother," and share with me because of that safety.

10.  I am attracted to older men. Always have been.

11. I am a closet dancer. I love movement, motion. In my next life I will be a Riverdance dancer.

12. And one to grow on - I love making friends. I have friends from all walks of life - rich, poor, sassy, calm, religious, atheist, old, young, in, out, intellectual, creative, students, professionals. My friend bucket is always full.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Push On - Retreat

Cowboy actor John Wayne said, "Courage is being scared to death - but saddling up anyway." This past weekend I had the honor of spending time with 25 women who saddled up anyway and courageously made it through their breast cancer journeys.

Lifting Hearts is an amazing breast cancer organization here in Utah. We spent time in a gigantic cabin in the beautiful Heber Valley.  We ate, laughed, cried, shared, walked, talked, modeled (PJ pageant), crafted, and photographed together. Maya Angelou said, "There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside of you." Having the opportunity to share and listen to each others stories, in a language that BC women share, was extraordinary. We didn't have to explain terms such as: port, hormone therapy, Taxol, Tamoxifen, Red Devil, burns, Stage 1/2/3, side-effects, hair loss, reconstruction, self-love, reoccurrence fear, survivor/thriver, pink-sickness, lethargy, 30 lbs, balance, neuropathy, hearing loss, perspective, simplicity, and "Welcome to Holland."

Being able to chat with women of various ages and life stages, about our one common denominator was very helpful. I shared, but mostly I learned from those whose experiences and gained wisdom far exceeded mine.

I now know what tomorrow looks like: hope, gratitude, wisdom, generosity, acceptance, and most importantly - community.

Many many thanks to Kara, Bethanie, Colette, and everyone else for a lovely time.

As Jeffrey Holland said, "Hope on. Journey on."

Monday, November 4, 2013

Transformation Mantra -

Have you ever read something that you know, beyond a doubt, to be true, and to be clearly written for you? This, today, is my truth. 
I am transforming, I am reborn, I am - 

Friday, November 1, 2013

November 1 - TGOO

I am soooooo glad October is over! This month has been much more traumatic than I had ever expected. Grief abounding with anniversaries. However, I am continually learning, and more opportunities for internal growth have come my way because of this month's learning curve.

When Scott and I began dating, on about week #3, I met him for lunch at the Brick Oven restaurant. I had a script assembled, ready to share with him - purposefully to tell him that if he knew what was best for him, he'd stay out of my life. I read something like this, "I live life intensely. Life is not simple for me; I examine and evaluate everything that comes my way. I am complicated, and you do not want to get involved with me."

I am continually evolving. I am a work-in-progress. And I'm becoming comfortable with this, and even a little accepting of this. I'm working on dumping the complexity, stress, and anxiety that, historically, have been associated with this part of my personality. This is even evident in my Halloween get-up for last Saturday's party. I have put on a costume 3 times in my adult life, and this was one of them. And rather than stress, worry, wonder what people would think, I embraced this new adventure. I even had a lady at the Mac makeup counter do my makeup! I had my hair sleeked back by my cousin who is a hairdresser. I wore purple tights, a boa, over-the-top makeup, and gigantic earrings. I even put on my dressy chemo-hat, and only thought once about the fact that I'd never worn a hat other than for chemo, until now. I had fun with dressing up. I had fun laughing at myself, acting my part, and letting go.

I am learning life can be simple. Life doesn't always have to be analyzed and evaluated, just accepted for what it is. And this is just what I want.

On another note - Happy Birthday Tyler - 
you are an amazing man, and I am blessed to call you mine!

Spring 1981
Summer 2003
January 2010