Monday, December 31, 2012

2013...Another year of life!!!!!

Well made it through Christmas and I have to admit although I was not looking forward to turned out quite nice.   It was quiet, but joyful and that is what is important.   I was healthy. I had my daughter here, my friends close by and even got some really super gifts.    Have absolutely nothing to complain about but I have to admit....not calling Mom on Christmas Day was different.   I did speak with her (and Dad) but was able to do so without the use of technology......heart to heart!

So, now I sit and await the New Year....only hours away.   Assuming I will make it unless there is some terrible traumatic event before midnight.   2013, a year that I thought in many ways would have come and gone without me.  Just proves that one never knows how much time we have on this earth, so we better not waste it worrying that we might die.   I think a lot of people spend their lives like that, even healthy people.   Afraid to do this or that because something might happen.   I know the feeling, I am human and worry too, but I decided many years ago to turn that thinking around.  Instead of worrying about what might happen, I say what if it doesn't happen. 

I find that we always seem to focus on the actual things that have happened and not so much on the things that could've but didn't.   How many times in the past week or so, did an accident not happened.  Phew, that was close!....   How many times in the recent past did you almost fall but didn't....Phew!
How many times do we know of someone who was really sick and should have died but didn't.....for me I know one especially close individual in my life.....ME.   I think it is time that we make a decision when we find ourselves worrying about all the bad things that might happen if we do something, we instead think of all the good things that might happen when we do it.    Or, what about the whole myriad of things that could happen if we chose NOT to do something.

 Lately I have been reminded of the anxiety that I felt shortly after diagnoses.   I was anxious about everything.    I was scared of everything.   I was so terrified of dying that I just wanted to sit on my couch and watch life go was much too dangerous to actually go out and live it because.....OMG I might die.    I am not laughing when I say this....many people suffered from anxiety and it keeps them from actually living.   It took me a long time to admit that this was happening and to seek help after I had cancer.   When I finally did, I found out that over 40% of cancer patients suffer severe anxiety attacks and panic attacks after diagnoses.   No one told me this before hand.....might have helped but then again denial runs deep  within my veins so it might not have either.

Moral of the story, if you are anxious about life, seek help.    Their are drugs, psychologists, GP's, and even other counsellors that can help you though it.   Recently, I found myself going down that same path but today I know that I don't have to.    I have my own coping mechanisms, and so I put them in place and work at moving out of myself and living life.     Today, I put my hiking boots on and went for a nice long walk....ended up having to buy new boots b/c 10 minutes out I had a blister.   It was a great excuse to turn around and go back inside, but I knew that wasn't the answer.   I went and bought new boots and continued my trek.    Hopefully, I will keep this up and walking will  again be a big part of my life.   I love to walk, but I haven't been doing it........

Life isn't easy, it isn't even simple sometimes but it is important enough to put all our energies into living it for whatever time we this year, 2013, I will continue to live my life even though 11 years ago I thought I didn't have one to live.....who would have guessed???? Glad I didn't sit around doing nothing these past eleven years.....boy that would have made for a very long and boring life.    So here's to 2013, to whatever it brings, as long as I am on this side of the sun, I will live, live, live.....God bless to everyone and may the blessings of the New Year be more than you ever imagined!

Sunday, December 23, 2012


Two sleeps to go and Santa, I mean Jesus, will be here.   Not trying to be irreverent just a little silly.

Haven't felt much like writing this week with all the sadness on the news.   Seems to have found a soft spot in my own soul so have been keeping it low and just knitting gifts for Christmas, and holding my blessings (read daughter) close as there will be many this year who's child will not be with them.

Who would have thought eleven years ago that I would be celebrating Christmas 2012!!!!   I have nothing but thankfulness in my heart that I may still wrap presents, shop for turkey, and even shovel the walk.   I look at my little shitzu, who is also eleven and remember that I got her for my daughter so she wouldn't be too lonely when I was gone.   Now, we both sit in front of the fireplace, trying to keep our old bones warm and just relax.      She having aged in many ways much faster than me of course.

Well, I will wish everyone a very Blessed Christmas with family and/or friends.   For those who are facing a difficult time this year, remember you are not alone.   It is times like these that we are given a chance to reflect on all the other Christmas' and maybe make some slight changes in our lives so that the ones we are able to celebrate might be a bit more memorable.  I remember many of my childhood Christmas' and have to smile at how long ago they were.   In my mind they seem like just yesterday.  

Merry Christmas to all........and to all a good night!!!!!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

What's the Point?.... (Part II)

So to continue the saga of What's the Point .....

Well, I made the decision that it was appropriate now that the tree was up to decorate it.    It wasn't as easy a task as it normally is.     Having to go through the various decoration, many which had been given to me by my mother over the years was stressful.   I could feel the tension in my shoulders and back as I would reach for different bobbles and place them on the tree.    It was a bit of a struggle  but in the end I was happy with the result......

So this little corner of my house looks very festive.   I did also make a decision that this was all that I would do....based on energy levels I had to realize that accepting my limitations is also a choice!!!!!

Christmas is a time to reflect.   It is not necessarily an easy time because often it brings to mind, people, events, memories that are hard to think about, but ultimately it is a time to look at our lives and count the blessings.    Not something we do very often in our society.   We tend to be looking more at what we don't have, or what we can't have, rather than all the things, people, gifts that we already have.    After this past week, with the tragedy that unfolded in Newtown, CT....I think just thanking God that my daughter is safe, has been able to grown up, is in itself my greatest blessing.

I wasn't going to write about this event but I have to make one comment.   I have cancer, and I have an incredible support system in place both personally and medically in order that I can deal with this disease.   There is no stigma attached to my disease.    I cannot say the same for all those millions of people who suffer from mental illness.    Although there are people, and places that are willing to help people with mental illness, it is such a stigma in our society that many will never get the help they need.   I believe that this young man suffered from mental illness.   It does not dismiss, or trivialize the terrible acts that he did, but we must realize that he is not the Evil people talk about.   The evil  is the disease, just as cancer is evil.   This makes it much harder to just pontificate about forces us to stop, and look, and then commit ourselves to finding an answer......otherwise we just ignore it till it happens,   Again.   So I  pray for this young man's soul, that God will forgive him, I pray for his father who is grieving the loss of both his son and his wife.   I also pray for all in Newtown that they will find the strength to heal, which at this point as a parent I can't even imagine how one does that!!!!!!

So, as we come to the Season of Joy, let us hug our loved ones a little tighter, smile at the stranger on the street, and give thanks for everything we already have.     May this season bless everyone with joy, love, and compassion.

Friday, December 14, 2012

What's the point?

Lately, I have a real theme in my life....choices.   It seems that every time I turn around the last little while I have been talking about choices and how our whole life is essentially made up of them.

Nothing, absolutely nothing, we do is not a choice.    From getting up in the morning, to eating, to loving or liking someone, everything we do is a choice.   It may not necessarily seem that way but we are always choosing between one thing or another.   We choose what we do with what we feel not necessarily the feelings.    But doing something can change the feelings for good or for bad.   If we are nice to people we feel calm, peaceful, if we are nasty we feel unsettled, doing and feeling have a correlation.

That does not mean that these choices are easy.   Some are, like eating.....I never have a problem with choosing to eat...I love to eat and many times I eat things I know I should CHOOSE not to about you?   Yea figured as much!   There are others that aren't as simple though but by making the 'right' choice our life will be much happier, more peaceful, ultimately more joyful.

An example in point is how we look at the Christmas season.   Whatever your particular religion or philosophy, this is a time of year that we can choose to be joyful and least for a few weeks.   I haven't really felt that joyful the past few months and Christmas has been looming ahead of me.    Some of  how I am feeling is physical, which always gets my 'spidey' senses up and I do begin to wonder what is really going on.   Well next week is my doctor's appointment so we will deal with those things then.    The other is a sense of 'what's the point'??????   We all know that feeling.

For instance, do I put up a tree this year?   What's the point, I live on my own so no one is going to see it most of the time?   Well, the point is that without the tree I will be able to avoid recognizing that it is Christmas time.   So, I force myself to put the tree up.    Then the creche comes out and I assemble that.   While doing this I feel myself remembering some nice memories.   So the tree is up, not yet decorated, the manger is under the tree awaiting Jesus' birth for the 2012 time approximately.   The fireplace is on and I sit in front of it and knit.     It was glorious!!!!

Will I choose to do anymore?   Who knows, but I do know that whatever I choose to do will determine how I feel about myself.   So ....What's the point?......the point is how do you WANT to feel not how DO you feel.    If you want to feel differently then you have to do something different.
Sounds easy.....not really it might take a lot of energy and force.....but either way you are going to expend that energy so it may as well be in a positive way......DO IT and see what happens!!!!

Off to my chair, my knitting, my undecorated but lighted Christmas tree, my cats and dog sleeping beside and underneath the tree......who couldn't feel just a little bit of the Joy of the Season!!!!!!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Miracles in the moments of your life......

OMG.....look at that a middle aged woman using Y generation language to express excitement....but I digress.   The most amazing thing happened today.   It is moments like this that I realize how blessed I am to live in the moment of my life and not get wrapped up in all the busyness of the world.   As I have said many times before, cancer is NOT a blessing, no way no how .....but there are blessings in my life because I have been taken to the abyss and know that I must live every moment that I have in order to make my life worthwhile.   Well today again proved my point.......

Sitting having coffee, quietly watching the world go by I saw the most amazing thing.    All of a sudden right past my kitchen window flies a very large bird.....I know instinctively that it is a baby hawk.    I have a huge walnut tree in my backyard and just know that he/she has landed in it.   I run to the back door, in pajamas and bare feet and look out and up and   There she is!    But she sounds sad.   She is making the most woeful (is that a word) sound.    Maybe she's looking for her mother?
 I go outside and look up and she is just sitting in the tree making this noise.   That is when the most incredible thing happens.....a little black squirrel climbs up the tree toward her.   I am a little concerned because I think that 'oh no, she's going to eat her'....not the squirrel the hawk you know what I mean....but no the squirrel goes right up beside her and just looks at her.   I think she heard that sad sound too and was going to see what was the matter.    They just looked at each other for a minute and then the hawk moved to a higher branch and sat again.   And again the squirrel began to climb....then she flew off.  I just stood there thinking this is beautiful....I have been so blessed to be a part of this moment which on many levels is so simple but so profound.

I didn't get a picture, because I have realized that running into the house to grab my camera is NOT living in the moment.   You not only don't get a picture but you end up missing the whole thing.    So I have the picture in my head, the memory in my heart, to relive anytime I want .

Thank you God for allowing me to recognize that we only see miracles when we live in the moment....each moment has its own story so live there and allow yourself to write your own blessed scriptures of your unique and special life.      Thank you hawk and squirrel I am smiling because of you today......

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Reminders of the chemo days......

Well in many ways I have said there are good days and there are bad days....and that is life.   Cancer patients (I hate the word survivor, it has too many violent connotations) know this fact very well.   That is even so whether you are in the midst of treatments or you are finished and months away from them.   The lingering, often permanent effects of putting toxins/poisons into your system, have a way of rebounding back at random times.  

Well last night was one of those times.   I had the worst sleep, awful pain, and terrible dreams.    The three seem to go together on my bad nights.    I am not sure  whether the pain brings on the dreams or the dreams bring on the pain.    The one thing I know is that the pain enters the dreams which makes it even worse.

So, today will be a rough day.   I am tired, miserable and I have been in a wrestling match all night and didn't win!!!!!!   It becomes obvious on days like this that the forms of drugs etc that we use to treat cancer are hard on the body .    I mean they effect your nervous system, your muscular system and even your skeletal system.    The pain is constant, not throbbing, and it moves throughout the body not just focusing  on one place.   Its like having the flu but 10 times worse.   Even trying to move in the night to reposition yourself can be at times wonder if you really want to do it even though it might make you feel better.   I don't usually complain like this but last night reminded me of the days of chemo.   No one tells you at the time that these effects are not temporary and there will be moments when you will be completely reminded of those times when you lay in bed for days on end.    I will tell you, the second time they wanted to do chemo I had a very hard time agreeing to it...knowing what it would entail was worse than the not knowing.   Initially, I told the doctor that I wasn't going to do any chemo and he just nodded and said 'it's up to you'.   Then he suggested we try one round and see.....which we did.  He knows me well, my good and my bad, and he knows that ultimately I have to believe that whatever I do is my idea (a bit of a control freak) Then he suggested a second which I again protested....but in the end I did all six AGAIN because I decided to!!!!!.....and I am grateful don't get me wrong.   I mean I am still here to complain and bitch about it.     The thing is I remember thinking....Is it really worth it at the time.   It is nights like last night that make me wonder if it really was.

Well, I have complained enough.  That was my little pity party and for a change I invited anyone reading this to join me...not a usual affair so consider yourselves special :)

Another day and more life to live even if I would rather be sleeping today......

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


In earlier posts I mentioned my affinity to mountain climbing.   Now, I must reiterate, I am an armchair mountain climber, preferring to read about it rather than actually attempt to climb any rock and stone mountains.   I believe though that mountain climbing is a great analogy to one's life.
At least to mine.

I had the pleasure recently, of actually meeting someone who has mountain climbed and who besides other mountains has summited Everest.   I was excited to meet them if only to realize that they are flesh and blood like me, not that I imagined them to be anything other, and to talk about the why's behind that kind of sport......extreme sport.    Interestingly, the one comment that resonated with me the most was that "it isn't the summitting that defines who you are as much as the ability to turn away from it when the time comes".....something that I believed all along but found very few actually could do.    The strength of a person is more about knowing ones limitations than pushing them to the point of possible no return.   The reason we do things in our lives, or struggle through, is not so that we can die a hero, but mainly to survive the experience and perhaps know ourselves better.

We all have our own Everests.....some are not of our own making...which I believe are the hardest climbs of all.  When I was il,l I found that I was drawn to this sport almost to an obsessive degree.  I read everything I could get my hands on to learn more about it.   I was interested in the climbing, but I was also fascinated by the people who would choose to do this even though they didn't have to.   I think I  was angry that someone would put themselves in danger, life threatening danger, when there was no need.    Having to fight literally tooth and nail to stay alive, I couldn't understand why someone would push themselves to the edge of a self made abyss.   The more I read the more I realized that it is through these experiences that we grow as human beings, physically, mentally but more importantly spiritually.   We come to realize that there are forces that exist outside of ourselves that we must believe we can master in order to fulfill the potential of our spirit. 

The most important lesson that one must learn when climbing is that if it is only about the final goal there is a very good chance that you will not survive the entire journey.   Either you will push yourself beyond physical/mental limits before you reach it, or you will not have the energy for the descent and die on the way down.   That is the case both in mountain climbing and in life.    The purpose of any experience is to know that the most important part of it is the journey.....potential only exists in a living person....once dead there is no longer any potential so arriving at a goal only to die seems to me to be pointless.   If we focus only on the end, we miss all the points in between that may have just as much importance as the final summit.

I climbed my Everest twice, and both times I summitted and sat there for awhile.   What I have realized over the years though has been that the descent has been really the most difficult of times to adjust to.   Coming down and having to find a new way of being in the world, giving up the old "normal" has often been the hardest part of this journey.   You see people only remember that you achieved your goal, then they move on.   For you it means that you have to figure out how to live now with all these new experiences.  Life is never quiet the same, and yet in many ways those around you haven't changed at all.....only your life has changed....only your way of being is new.

So, I will continue to find mountains to climb, some by choice and some because I have to, but always I will try and focus on the journey, both the ascent and the descent, in order that I will fulfull whatever my potential in this life is possible.........What are your Everests today???

Monday, December 10, 2012

Good coffee.......

I must be moving back into my normal mode of self as I seem to want to write and write and write.

I have had the most amazing few days!....   I have had the wonderful opportunity to go back in time and without the use of drugs, alcohol or technology.   I just spent a couple of days with a very old friend and it was so relaxing.   Old friends are great beause they know who you are at your core, and you don't have to put on any kind of pretense.   Also, there are no guards up....its a 'this is me' attitude and that means tons of laughter and fun.

Not only was I brought back to a time when we were young, but an even more recent time when I had young people all around.  I forgot how much fun a room full of teenagers can well as very exhausting.    Even trying to go to sleep was a new experience as age prevented me from staying up as late, and yet that didn't seem to deter the noise and laughter from the young ones.   Oh to be so oblivious to anything and everyone around be so self absorbed and not have to apologize for it.

The whole weekend was what I desperately needed.   It put me back into the reality that life is a place where things happen, good and bad.   It is not static or boring....if it is it ain't life people!!!!!

So Saturday and Sunday I am in the midst of family life with the crazyness of teenagers.....singing, yelling, knitting, watching t.v., playing instruments....and eating eating goodness they like to eat.  Too bad they don't have the same energy for cleaning up!!!!!   Oh well......and then  on Monday....back to an adult world.   At least I was eased with some new people. 

Nothing excites me more than meeting new people with new stories.    Also, on an aside I actually enjoyed a Starbucks coffee.....don't know if it was the coffee or the company but it was a great way to end the weekend and begin the week.

Life is good right now.........but one never knows what's might be around the I will just enjoy the moment!!!!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012 it a choice????

Have you ever noticed that those who have the most to be grateful for are usually the most unhappy??

This is really a rhetorical question but in many ways it does deserve an answer.   I have been attempting to move into a grateful mode these days because in many ways I truly do have many blessings in my life.    All in all, I don't find it that difficult to find the blessings and to focus on them but it has left me thinking about those who don't.   Many years ago I remember speaking with my father about this and saying "have you ever noticed that those who should be the happiest in life because of all the good things in their life are the most unhappy?"  

Ultimately, happiness is a choice.   It is not something that happens to you just because.   Happiness comes from a place within that springs from a sense of hope and purposefulness.   I am basically a happy person.   That doesn't mean that I don't feel sad, or sometimes have pity parties and say "poor me".   It just means that I allow the bad feelings to come and then let them go.  Actually, when I am feeling like having a pity party I put a time limit on it and I don't invite anyone.  I don't hang onto bad feelings because I find some form of weird comfort from them.   I think that is what separates happy people, grateful people, from unhappy, ungrateful people.

Maybe it's a gift.   I don't try hard to be positive.   It is actually the way I prefer to be.  It comes pretty natural most times but there have been times in my life that I have had to force myself to be positive and happy.   Maybe its a habit.   Like anything the more you do something the easier it is to even fake it.  

Anyways, the reason I started writing this is because there are people in my life who are very unhappy but by all of the worlds standards should be extremely happy.    They have their health, their family, their children, a job, a nice home and vehicle, so many things that the world tells us are absolutely necessary to a happy life.   Yet, when I look at them I know that underneath they are suffering.   They are resentful of others.   They are overburdened by life.   I feel sorry for them because in many ways I think I am more fortunate than them and yet I don't have half of what they have.   It is good for us to recognize that others struggle with life no matter what they have achieved or who they are.   Life is a journey and that means that we must travel through it with the means and ways that we have.    If our life has been too easy perhaps that makes the journey harder.   Perhaps when things don't go well, those of us who have struggled have tools that others don't have.   We have the sense of 'all will be well' no matter what......perhaps we are more hopeful and more joyful because we have been to the edge of the abyss and truly know what lies on the other side.....and no matter what this side is sunnier.

Feeling very philosophical today..........

Monday, December 3, 2012

What day is it????

I realize it has almost been a month since I was last here.   It's not that I don't think of writing, it is just that the energy it takes seems to evade me.   I realize how difficult it must be if this was one's livelihood.....whether or not you feel like it you have to do it.

I seem to be moving out of the fog and my days are returning to some form of normalcy.   I must say, I have had a longer (read harder) recovery from my recent surgery but I am not sure why that is.  It could be age.....I am getting older so therefore my cells are moving a little slower to reproduce and make scar tissue.   It could be psychological because I haven't got the mental or emotional energy to deal with the limitations it has placed on me....or it could be that the cancer is slowing things down a little and making for a longer healing process.   Whatever the reason it doesn't really matter, the outcome is still the same....things are taking longer and my frustration levels are much shorter....proportionally one might say!!!!

I have to admit at this point I am not sure what I have written about and what I haven't.   My mind seems to move between complete inability to process what is presently going on and the place of memories and past experiences.   Every thing, place, event seems to spur a memory of one kind or another and so the present moments pass by unacknowledged.   After my Mother died, I spent a couple of weeks in NS mainly because my flight was two weeks away, and the cost of changing it was exorbitant.   It was basically a good time though because it gave me time  in my mother's home to browse around and grieve.   It also had a less desirable opportunity.   I got sick and ended up in the hospital.   So about ten days after my Mother died I ended up in the same hospital having emergency abdominal surgery.   Nothing cancer related per se, but related to the numerous surgeries in the past.....partial intestinal blockage due to adhesion's and a hernia.   So that set me back by another two weeks.   The surgery took place one day before I was to fly home and then I had to wait two weeks before I could fly again.  

As the story totally unfolds, one is able to realize that when I say I am just recovering physically, emotionally and mentally, I mean that in the literal sense.   It was a hell of a couple of months.   As I mentioned in a previous blog, my mother's funeral was delayed for a number of reasons, my illness NOT being one of them.   This necessitated a return trip to the East Coast about 10 days after my return home.   That part I have no regrets.  It was at this time that I realized that everything happens for a reason.....even if that reason seems strange at the time.

The trip back was made even more wonderful because of what had gone before it.   The death, the illness it all made the moments with my daughter even more poignant....we loved every mile of the drive and made new positive memories at a very difficult time in both our lives.

So, as I come to regain some of my own equilibrium I find the need to write return.   I began this blog because of my third diagnoses of cancer two years ago almost to the day.    It seems that I am still waiting to do something about that diagnosis but in the meantime I am living my life.    I guess in the end I am grateful that I am able to continue to live my life, the bad, the sad, the happy, the glad, even if at these times it seems like it will never really get better.   I am alive to feel the pain of grief and eleven years ago I would not have believed that I would be missing my parents so much.   Life never unfolds the way we expect but it does unfold and we need to grasp hold of it no matter what!!!!!