Category Archives: mother

A challenge to myself!

I’m feeling lately like I have more going on than I do, maybe due to the personal and internal struggle involved in it all. In talking with a friend, I was forced to face once again how little emphasis I put on myself and what I want…how everything I do has a major focus on others in my life…how I don’t deal with my own immediate issues but help others stay on top of their own. In my life, I want certain things and a certain lifestyle. I find myself frustrated and disappointed in who I am, what I should be doing, and why it is I put off the things I love most in life – writing and photography.

I was asked, if knowing this, I had an explanation. The practical side of me says, I don’t NEED the new camera and computer to create more blog posts. I don’t NEED the fancy technology to do what I love. There are more pressing items that need repair or purchase ahead of my camera and computer. BUT – that money is not money going into my own household or life, so what makes it more important? I’ve spent countless hours lamenting the absence of writing and photography in my current life, pondering how my love of these two fields has been so quickly and easily pushed aside to cover the needs of others. Why is the absence of my passion okay?

Today I made the decision that I’m going to begin taking small steps to recover writing and photography in my life. I can use small bursts of time to get out there and take a picture or write a small piece. I can recapture a part of my soul that has been missing. I can rediscover a journey I stopped walking along to suit the needs of others in my life. And I love my family, don’t get me wrong, but right now…I need to get back to me and in doing so, stop focusing so much on everyone else.

That was my plan this summer…to buy the camera and to buy the computer I want. I don’t need to focus on photo editing but rather, getting back to having that camera with me at all times to capture a moment or image. It literally takes a few seconds to pull over on my drive home and capture that image…or, if a thought comes to me, to verbally capture it recorded on my phone so that I can get home and transpose the recording into writing. And in knowing that, it seems a little more realistic already to imagine integrating both writing and photography back into my life.

In accepting the challenge to write and photograph again, I’m going to need to commit time I tend to spend elsewhere, namely in front of my television. Being on the computer all day definitely crushes my will to get back online once I get home. Maybe, however, this will lift my spirit back to where it likes to be, instill the creativity to tear through me like it did a few years ago, give back the voice that I so willingly handed over, and provide an outlet and opportunity to grow my professional writing.

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New beginnings…

I know, I have been out of the loop for a bit, determining my next steps while getting back to work, recovering, moving, and getting back to society’s definition of normal. Normal, yeah we can go with that for now. But for me, normal has a new definition and it is not dictated by anyone but me.

That may sound selfish, and on occasion, I can deal with that definition but before judging, let me explain. I spent my life always doing the right thing, being the right person, burying my needs and desires and dreams to accommodate many around me. My reward was breast cancer…hey thanks! Ironically, it was the best thing that has happened in recent history, truly a blessing in disguise. I was forced to take inventory of my little world, eliminate the clutter, and with my heart on my sleeve fight for my own survival, literally and metaphorically speaking.

What I discovered is that I am much stronger than I give myself credit for, that my world is full of love and kindness and encouragement, that my dreams and passion have as prominent a place as my family. I’ve learned I can have what I want, a balance, and that my life is full of new beginnings.

A year ago I was recovering from a bilateral mastectomy, awaiting chemotherapy and radiation. I was weak on all levels and tired of fighting the day to day battles. I felt discouraged and frustrated with my life…as though my momentum had come to a screeching halt and Stuck was my new address. This year I am cancer free with it all behind me. On Monday Nov. 30th I begin a new career as a college admissions counselor while pursuing my business degree with a focus on small business management. In 90 days my classes will be free as will degrees for my sons and husband should they choose to utilize my benefits. I have connected with women business owners who are also breast cancer survivors. I have spoken at breast cancer fundraisers. My ultimate goal is to utilize my business degree to assist women in starting their own businesses, especially other survivors. How amazing is it that becoming sick would be the most healing experience of my life!!!

Everyone reaches a point where dreams and goals and passion take hold to morph into new beginnings. I admire those who find and capture it early on. I respect those who take a circuitous route. I admire those who are baptized by fire and illness and find it, embrace it, and follow it through illness and survival. When it is finally discovered, regardless of the path, I admire the pilgrim and the journey. For me, I have seen my path off in the distance for years, always feeling it to be just out of reach, making excuses and putting others needs and wants and desires and demands ahead of my own. Those paths have all converged…my new motto is get onboard or get out of my way. Again, as someone who for years always made way, it feels selfish but wonderful and liberating. We can all walk our paths together but separately…

So there it is, my new beginning shining before me…new career, new schooling, new opportunities, continued connection with the pink cancer web and my sister survivors and fighters. My future is so bright,  so beautiful. I am moved by the experiences that brought me here, by the love and support and encouragement, by the family and friends that stand resolutely in my corner, by the pink web that embraces and inspires me. My new beginnings bring me such joy, such sunshine, such hope.

Did it bring her peace?

I had to comment today on FB in response to a rude comment…difficult as I don’t really respond to anything negative, EVER. I feel that my positive voice and energy represent who and where I am, how I want to be seen, what I want to be about.

The woman stated that she has to laugh, so much fake shit on FB, but that it’s better she keep her mouth closed. Normally, I would jump over that and keep going. Today however, it almost immediately followed my post about spending time with my family and feeling blessed for so much goodness in my life. She is an EX of my father’s and the comment related specifically to him. Whether the timing was coincidence or not, it hit me wrong and I responded with a post of my own.

“I usually say nothing…but today, if you can’t say something nice on FB leave it unsaid. Our lives are filled with enough challenges without hurtful words or innuendos or indirect insults. Words are forever.At the end of the day, will those words have achieved anything? And does saying those words really make a huge difference? In inflicting or hinting hurtful words, does your world level out and is your soul filled with peace and serenity? Just something to think about… Rant over!”

I worried that this voice would attract a bad response, and almost didn’t post it. My words had just the opposite effect. So in the end, I still wonder if her comment brought her peace and did it achieve its desired goal? Did it make someone feel bad or stupid, or did it just reflect badly on her that she would take the time to post something mean? And why post it at all…what’s the goal? Was her Buddha in the corner with his arm raised in solidarity? Did serenity and peace and calm overtake her spirit?

I’m not sure just why it is that this stupid comment bothered me so much today. It’s been quite a year for me, and I was always able to stay positive and upbeat. I had a couple moments of frustration but never anything of that I would have posted or shared. I feel like social media just isn’t the place for any of that…I caution my own sons about words and their eternal and piercing power once sent out to the universe.  I wonder if maybe it was me overreacting … and then I think no I did not. Did my rant bring me peace? I think it did in so much as my words were approved of by several of my friends, that they were taken as wisdom or strength vs just being mean. And the message here is simple, like our mother’s taught us…if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.

Throw back…

I have to admit, I’ve committed to a throw back. That’s right, actual paper and pen…a new journal for this lady. I find that keeping my laptop with me for all ideas and random thoughts doesn’t really work out, and I’m not dedicated enough most nights to stay up this late writing. On tumultuous weekends, like this one, it’s easier to just pull out my little journal and take a written escape or create a rant or just jot down my thoughts. I’m a lightweight when it comes to this journaling, and certainly don’t want anything negative online…I keep those thoughts completely to myself, in the journal. Not that it’s a negative thing to talk or write honestly but rather that my drama is just that, my own.

I admit that I’m finishing one journal before I begin the new one, at least that is the plan. The new journal is for my Florida trip, my getaway, my sunshine therapy…though I am itching to write in it. I need to get to Staples and get some fun pens, and by fun I mean gel pens. I’m silly like that…always wanting the new paper to have new pens. Or maybe, if I’m lucky, find a really fun color…that would be fantastic. I used to have a quill style pen that wrote in a lovely shade of purpley blue…that sounds so girly but it was the most gentle color, so friendly and soft, comforting like a pale blue sky. I ran out of ink for it years ago and was never able to find a pen to its equal. But I will find something!

So while I have been absent here online for a bit, I’m still writing. It’s the throwback type of writing though, looking inward while letting it all flow onto paper. It reminds me what it is I love about writing…the feel of the paper, the ink, handwriting. It’s what brought me to literature and writing to begin with, taking me back to my roots and a love I found as a child. Old school…maybe. Throw back…for sure. But first love…absolutely!

My silver lining…

So many times, people have said “Every cloud has a silver lining” and yet, being a bit cynical, it was easy for me to shake it off and think, “yes, I have heard that before.” I didn’t always listen, but I always tried to see the other person’s point of view, even just briefly. You know, sometimes you get something in your mind and just can’t get around it, regardless of all the good intentioned advice. Today however, the most amazing silver lining showed itself in glorious color to me, and I am on cloud nine!

During my cancering process, I have continued to believe that with all this drama there is something out there bigger than my illness. I’ve gotten through surgery, I am almost done with chemotherapy, my hair is beginning to grow back however slowly, and after a trip to Florida I still have 36 sessions of radiation. There will still be doctor appointments and blood tests and a PET/CAT scan or two, not to mention regular checkups…and of course, the implants to replace “the girls” who left my body in November. Sigh…that sounds like so much. But still, there has to be something bigger. There has to be something more than just this illness and the affiliated appointments and office visits. More than just surgery and chemo and radiation treatments. Something bigger…

I’ve been a great patient, staying hopeful and positive and full of good energy. I’ve allowed my family to stress while I stayed calm and took care of as much as I could by myself. I’ve kept our lives as close to normal around my recovery and treatments as possible. I don’t press anyone for feelings or questions, and provide as much honest and open communication as I can, to allay any worries. And I still answer, “I’m doing well, feeling good, feeling stronger every day” to the ever present “How are you feeling” questions. I’m just not the down and out kind of girl, and though I have had some discouraging moments, I’ve kept my eye on the prize of something bigger. I know and have stated to many that there has to be something bigger, that something positive has to come out of all this.

I’ve learned that giving back has to be part of my recovery process. As someone who has worked nearly every day of my life since I was 13 (I’m 43 so it’s been quite some time), I was feeling lost at being taken down by related fatigue causing me to give my notice at work. I became panicked and stressed as soon as I made that decision, wondering how our household would continue to run and if I had made a mistake. Was it too late not to get done at work? Should I and could I just bite the bullet and fight through what I was feeling…would I heal correctly if I didn’t respect the messages my body was sending…what had I done by making this decision…

And then my doctor told me about the various foundations specific to breast cancer designed to help families in my situation. Two programs stepped up to provide financial assistance… “rent and power bill covered my dear, no worries.” I have a hard time asking for help, so along with Thank You notes, I let both programs know that I love to write and take pictures, that I’m great at networking, and would be happy to provide assistance with any fundraising projects. I wanted to give back to these programs for the kindness shown to me and my family, and also knew that there were others that my foundation work would provide assistance to. Both programs thanked me for volunteering politely, but I wondered if they took my offer seriously ….

Today was the day. One program, MyBreastCancerSupport, sent me an email and asked me to speak at an event and fundraiser in August, to be an advocate for the program and more importantly, for patients like me. It will be an opportunity to speak to survivors, donors, and patients (or so I hope) … to share an element of my story, to thank the organization for their kindness, and to stress the importance of programs like this one. It sounds like a sales pitch, I get it, but the world needs groups like this; patients need groups like this; and as a recipient, it’s my job to make sure others, and many are worse off than I am, get the same information and connection and charity that I received. I’m so honored to have been invited to speak, so excited, and so looking forward to celebrating my process, my story, and my overcoming. I’m going to celebrate with many others who saw something bigger than this illness. Elated might be a better word…giving back, finally!

In a world where negative news seems to pervade and surround our lives, it’s easy to question humanity. It has been rediscovered and is absolutely beautiful … the kindness, compassion and empathy I have received from friends and family and now a group of total strangers has left me speechless. It is my turn now to remind another spirit, to awaken a light in someone new, and to be a part of a program that is part of that beauty. My silver lining is stunning, shining so brightly that it’s brilliance takes my breath away!!

Polite Brush-off…

In today’s politically correct world, where truth has to be carefully worded and spoken to avoid, I mean let’s admit it, hurting feelings, it’s very difficult to be clear and direct. I make every attempt to provide a clear but polite brush-off, when boundaries are being crossed, especially those of someone I’m very close to, my son.

It seems, the more I come in contact with the younger kids, that the relationships are all so desperate, for lack of a better word. It’s a clingy, constant texting, unlimited access via phone and computer, constant photographing of the young couple, posting of various “I wish our love was like….” and choose appropriate photo or comic. And then, once all those posts and song lyrics for the first hour are used up and awaiting approval, response, likes, comments, and lovey responses, it’s time to find new posts and movies and messages and comics/photos. It has to be exhausting! That’s a lot of work for a first time relationship or high school romance. I believe in happy endings, don’t get me wrong…but those messages just wear me out, just reading them or seeing them. Desperate…clingy…needy…dependent…

But back to the brushoff…my son is in his first real relationship. And it is long distance to boot which makes it even harder. Like all young couples, there are multiple FB posts, song lyrics, etc and all day/all night texting…and she texts my phone as well. Right now, she is feeling ignored and from a female perspective, I know that feeling and can empathize. As Mike’s Mom, I can’t disclose the details she so desperately wants to hear from me…clearly, loyalty is to the boy first. He is currently going through something right now…he looks a mess and seems to have no energy or desire to make the effort to look any better. He is quiet and keeps to himself…we don’t talk as often as we did a while ago…he sleeps for long stretches of times and naps whenever he can catch a free moment. He ignores the intimate details and focuses on xbox where he can disconnect from the thoughts and demands swimming through his head. I can see it…I don’t have to press for those details as they are physically written all over his appearance.  And then her text comes….again.

I politely say he seems to be going through something, but stay positive and talk to him directly. Be open. Ask if you can help. He’s working on his license, fixing up his truck (which has been a huge project), looking for a better and full time job (sort of). He is trying to buy her plane tickets so she can come home to Maine and they can be together. He’s 20…it’s a handful to manage. But she needs to talk to him…be straight with him…call a spade a spade (which I told her) as she is giving up her own home and vehicle, her family, the town and world she has known her entire life.

And still more texts come…again I respond with You really need to speak to him yourself, not to me. I don’t have the answers she is looking for, he hasn’t talked to me but I know him just based on who he is. That’s a very clear message in my mind…talk to him directly…I don’t think there are any mixed signals or miscommunicated ideas. Is there a more polite brush-off to avoid getting myself out of this conversation?

What I have learned…

In the throes of unclouding and uncluttering my brain, I ended up figuring out something. As much as I want to overlook and give little value to my cancering process, it sits before me like an elephant in the room. It has slowed my life down to a fairly uncomfortable pace which is difficult for me to process…the slowing down has made me think a bit less of myself as I am currently not working…and in an effort to keep my spirits vibrant and fresh and strong, I began to examine where I am at.

As my story mentioned, my perspective has become very clear. I know that I am not satisfied with my current position or status in life. For a long time I have settled, played the game and done the right thing. I’ve been a good girl, a good do-bee, a good worker. However, at this point in my life there has to be something more, something bigger … bigger than just getting along, bigger than overcoming the cancer, bigger than my self worth being determined by a ticking clock (I mean working 8 hours a day, not a life clock.)

I return repeatedly to the life coach field, how that might look for me, what steps I can take now while I’m burning time at home. It means reconnecting with society, overcoming my own insecurities to get out and talk with people, finding the right certification programs to validate my services and direction, and being able to effectively navigate questions that I will be asked or situations that could use my skills, background, knowledge, etc.

To me, this is a valid and much needed field. It can provide guidance and direction, set goals and see incremental steps become success, and provide an outside voice/perspective to get someone through.

There has to be more … whether it is working with cancer patients, coaching new patients, providing information, serving as a life coach or a cancering coach, writing about all this or just creating newsletters for local events and charities and facilities, volunteering as a writer and photographer, or my dream job of opening a bookstore there has to be more. I know…perspective and focus are strong but details still need to be ironed out.