Tag Archives: faith

Participation

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I can’t keep up with the crap that’s going on in the world.  Not and live a meaningful, focused, purposeful life.   Two minutes into reading the news, or the newest trend that is circling Facebook, I want to run away and hide.

I don’t think as humans, and I am one of them, we are designed to deal with the harshness that fills this world right now.  Yes, there are still beautiful amazing things to focus on, but there is so much ugliness that me, myself and I have to extricate myself from.     Whether you can handle it, that’s not up for me to decide, but for me personally, I can only stand small increments of crap, otherwise I get swallowed up in it.

This is not to say that I do not have an opinion, most of my readers know the world of crap I got myself in for speaking my voice and opinion in the last election.  What an election to open my mouth!   My point?    I now choose my battles, and wisely.

There is so much going on in this world that strips me of peace, of center.    I’m not one to blame “God”, though I have been extremely ticked off at him in past.     I am petrified of human trafficking, drugs, war, just to name three.   Now peruse your favorite news channel and see how many other dreadful, crazy things are going on.

How do we participate, and for each of us, have a voice, and realize we aren’t always going to agree with the opinion of others, and THAT”S OKAY!     Perhaps listening or reading without judgement, we can learn something about another person, or situation that we may have not looked at, or realized.  But that takes an open mind to be willing to look beyond belligerence.  And I’m here to tell you, I too can be belligerent.    I have been.  But it’s not a place I choose to visit daily, or even weekly.    For me it usually shows up when my defenses have failed to acknowledge harm coming from places I didn’t expect.    This means what?   It’s simple.  That I need to take care of myself, my own mental and physical state, financial.    That doesn’t mean I become oblivious to what is going on around me, but it does mean I secure myself, FIRST, it’s called self preservation!  And when that is in place, and I am able to help another, I will.  I will.

So today I’m choosing to stay in my own little world, which is full of color, texture, music, love, and light.   I am choosing not to participate outside of this world today, because I have somethings I need to take care of, and I am.     But I will and have offered a prayer for all my family, friends, and the world in its entirety.   So much going on right now, natural disasters and more.     My prayer will be my participation and help to others for this day.

I don’t believe we are designed to handle the enormous hatred and judgement that has been tossed around MOMENT BY MOMENT, and I’m not talking about just one subject.  I’m talking about ALL.  I’ve had enough to last me a lifetime, and I’m learning to not become ignorant to what is happening, but become purposeful where I can, and right now, there is nothing I can do for all that surrounds us, but pray.

I’m not suggesting you change what you are doing, unless you, too, feel overwhelmed and consumed by the ugliness that situates beside of you.   I don’t know whats best for you, or anyone else, so I just want to nod at you, blow you a kiss, and wish you a good day, filled with whatever you want it to be.  Those who are struggling, and there are many friends right now who are in crises, I wish you the best, and I’m saying a prayer that you will be comforted, that you will be given the strength you need to get through this day.     I offer this blog to give those like minded thoughts a gentle hug and acknowledgement that, yeah, I too am overwhelmed, so today I’m doing what I can for myself, first.    Wishing you a joy filled day with healthy boundaries and decisions made with a healthy, happy heart.    To you!!!

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Experience…

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“I remember standing on the corner at midnight, trying to get my courage up.  There was this long lovely dancer in this club downtown, I loved to watch her do her stuff.  Through the long lonely nights she filled my sleep, her body softly swaying to that smokey beat, down on Main Street…”

In 1980 I was at a Bob Seger concert at Boston Garden.  When it was announced that they were recording this concert for a new LP (yes, I’m that old), I was standing on the chair, screaming, jumping up and down!    It was a great concert.

In 1980 I was almost 20 years old.   At the concert with a guy that died a young death in a snowmobile accident.   He was 27 years old, with a wife and two kids.  We were long gone as a couple, but we both loved music.   We went to many concerts in the short time we were together.   He had big blue eyes, curly blonde hair, and was a big guy, someone who I felt protected with when we went to a “Black Sabbath and Blue Oyster Colt” concert in Boston.      My god, there were more people tripping than straight.  But I digress.

I often relate music to times in my life.  More so than not.   The memories can be very vivid, and can raise me up or drop me to my knees.  It wasn’t until later in life that I learned what real hardship and heartache was.  And don’t get me wrong, as a young person, love is a hard thing, especially lost love, but now, I think back and smile, grateful for the memories.    Some things weren’t meant to be.   And as true with most things, as I lived out portions of my life, I would understand why things didn’t work out the way I wanted them to, or had hoped they would.   I see young people and I think “My God, was I really ever that young?  That innocent?”   Hell YES!

It’s been many years since I stood on that chair screaming and singing my lungs out.   And when people say “he or she has changed”, I smile and listen, but my thoughts are “Have they?”  Have I?     Yes, life has a way of smartening you up, experiences have a way of defining moments that change the course of your life.   But are we the same?

Best as my experience tells me, when you knew someone in your youth, if they were good, kind people, then chances are they still are.   And if they were an asshole?  They may still be!      Life dishes out suntans AND wet towels!   Sometimes the wet towels are so heavy it takes everything you’ve got to keep moving.   But experience has taught me it helps to toss the wet towels, grab from it all that you have learned, both good and bad, then drop it in its path, and continue on.

Maturity is a beautiful thing.   In life we learn all kinds of things about people, ourselves.   I learned at the age above in my life this relationship was not meant to be.  While there was pain, it passed.   And I’m very grateful that I wasn’t his widow at 27.

The kind of people that draw my attention are the people who have walked through hell and kept walking.    Because NO ONE’s life is perfect, and some of us have learned the value in being honest about it.   That doesn’t mean you stay sitting in the sand, with the wet towel around your neck.  It means you learn to be kinder to yourself, to accept change, and you learn the type of people who are deserving of your time, your heart.

Real people, with real issues.    I like people who have survived major shit.  Why?  Because they know who they are, they know what they don’t want, and what they do, and they value the smaller things in life, like the values of a person, not their mistakes.  And when we can finally accept that about ourselves, those of us who are blessed to live long enough to figure that out, there is comfort and peace in knowing, everything is as it should be, even if we don’t like it.

Very grateful for my life, and where I am today.  Is it perfect?  Not even close, but it’s mine, and I plan to make the most of it!

Walking through grief

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The past couple days have been rough, with migraines and frustrating bitchiness.   This morning I was allowing myself to get really bent out of shape over nothing, when I sat down and jumped on facebook.      I hope the migraine(s) are behind me, I think it’s related to barometric pressure, my head feels like it isn’t attached to my body.  Strange, and adding to the Bitch of the Year award!

As I surveyed my facebook feed, I read a post from a friend who is really a very lovely woman, a woman of faith, ridiculously talented, and kind to the core.     She posted about two children who touched her deeply today, and made her smile while she was gassing up her car.    It lightened up my mood, until close to the end where she spoke about telling the kids mother how much their kindness and friendliness meant to her, and today or all days, as her sister died early this morning of cancer.   Tears flowed down my face then.

I immediately sent her a message, offering condolences, and thanking her for her share.   My mind swept back to the very days my sisters succumbed to cancer.    I was broken, and I was angry at God for allowing this to happen.  And so began a war between he and me, for months on end.   I defied my morning praises, and no longer prayed at all.   How could he allow this to happen?

In time, I learned and accepted that death is a part of our life, and that fairness doesn’t really play a role here.  But my friend, who had just said goodbye to her sister, was talking about how good God is, and how much this experience helped her, and made her smile.   I cried as I reread her beautiful, lovely, words.    How amazing that she was at peace, or I should say, more peace than I had when my sisters took their last breaths.

I sat in silence, trying to compose myself, get my emotions into check, and while I would like to say the bitchiness melted away, it did not, but I was so moved by her share, and her eloquence, awestruck with her compassion and faith.     When she replied to my message she spoke words I understand too well, about not knowing how she will do this without her sister, her first best friend.    Her words lent clarity to me of how I felt, too.

I remember thinking how cruel it was that the birds still chirped, that life still went on, even though my sisters lives were over.   I remember people telling me “time will heal”.  I also remember being firmly (and probably belligerently) adamant that NO ONE would tell me how to grief, how to walk through this atrocity which had been handed down to my family.   Grief is a journey, a necessary journey that is so individualized.   There is no right or wrong way to grieve, though I hope I handled it with even a small portion of the grace that my friend did this morning.

At this time another friend texts me that she knew and was related to the pedestrian who was hit in Brattleboro yesterday and who died later from her injuries.    Many eyewitnesses have shared that she walked right out in front of the car, the driver was not at fault.  But that driver?  Is devastated.    I saw pics of him with his head in his hands, crying.  Of course he was.  What person wouldn’t be?    And then she shared that this person had also just lost two siblings to cancer.    I was relaying all this to my mom, and we shared how grief is an alternate existence, if you will.   You’re not in your right mind, your preoccupied, sad, emotional, and that may be a part of why she aimlessly walked into traffic.  How incredibly sad.

So, tonight, as I write this, I’m thinking about all that transpired this morning and how it changed and altered my piss poor thinking.   I am still working through some crap, but for the most part, I’ll be crawling into bed very grateful that my day may be frustrating, and my head may ache, but I had a fairly uneventful day given two other peoples lives that changed drastically in a moments time.

I wish you a restful nights sleep, and an uneventful (almost boring) day tomorrow.  Life can change on a dime, and it does.  We find ourselves walking through life without those we love most in the world, and I have since learned that the birds still chirping as we walk through grief is really a gift, because life does go on for some.    How easily, how naturally we take things for granted, at least I do.   And I think I’m a pretty grateful person, but obviously imperfect and still learning about life.   Aren’t we all?

 

With every goodbye, we learn

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Saturday night.  I’m painting, with music in the background.  Finally got to town to get a few groceries, as we’re going to get another 12-18″ snow tomorrow.  The scraping of the windshield is old.

Have been reflecting today on many things.  For one, how the gift of age brings you knowledge.  Important knowledge.  Unfortunately our bodies wear out as we become brilliant!  But seriously, I’ve been through enough in my life to know, it may be dark now, but it won’t last forever.  One day I will feel better, and before you know it, that which caused me angst or grief becomes background flack.  Nothing you really miss over time, but you always remember the lessons.   Pain is a great motivator for change.   Pain is much of the reason why people change themselves, their lives.

I’ve also been thinking how grateful I am that I have good, sound, (well, somedays!) intelligent parents.   I’m grateful for the upbringing I had, and while I’ve skated in dangerous territory, I have the strength of my parents morals and standards, to hold strong too, as they are now, mine.

But youth, and I’m talking in your teens or twenty’s, depending on what you’ve been through, you don’t necessarily know at that age that things will fade, things will improve.  That doesn’t mean you stay laying in “wait” of it.  Because I think we were granted “free will”, and that gift can destroy us, if we let it.    But the strength of experience, that can sustain you for much.  It’s so unfortunate that at the toughest parts of your life you learn who is and isn’t your friend, who is loyal, who is worthy of being sent out to sea, but this, too, strengthens us.  We come wise.   The trick is not to become bitter.

I also see how things were prepared for me, to “get strong”.  What I mean by that, a divorce that I didn’t want but that a couple decades later I AM SO GRATEFUL it happened.  My life has been so much better than it was then.  But I was afraid, and I was young.   And while I didn’t know if I would get through it, I did, and I met someone else, and I worked on myself, and worked through the crap of it all.  I became a better person for it.  A person who at that time learned, I CAN accept, I CAN get beyond, I CAN grow, and learn, and start anew.  Then, when cancer starting ravaging my family, and the loss of my kid sister, that was so much larger than any divorce for me.  But I saw how going through the divorce years before had strengthened me.  So when my sister took ill, I could be there for her, and I was.     And then months later, her passing, the strength and wisdom I gained from that helped me, once again, start over, and say goodbye to someone I needed to say goodbye too.  And it took every bit of me to do that.

This is not to downplay loss.  Not at all.   In the end I had to accept the loss of this person, not just to booze but to death.  So, I can look back and see the times that brought the most growth for me.    And I’m a pretty strong chick!  Gotta tell ya!   But even in this, there are days I could easily fold into the arms of a trusted, and surrender myself in tears.

I’m thinking all of this because of a place where someone I care about is.   Man, he’s getting thrown a lot of lessons, and pain.   But I believe he will make it.   Once he starts building HIS life again.  I will be praying for him, and asking my faithful prayer friends to do the same.  He is a survivor of sorts already, freed from people that the average person would not even know exist, and trust me, I hope you never do.   But there are some pretty sick, ignorant people whose very ignorance is a bit scary to someone who follows rules and works for a living, and for everything they have.

So, that’s it for tonight.  I need to get back and finish the fifth rooster I’ve painted this week.   It’s been enjoyable, and I’ve regained some confidence with the brush.  Just have to do it, and say no to the negative.

Happy night!  Hope yours is, too.

Adios 16!

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This has been a good year for me.   I’m hoping 17 will be even better.

Bailey’s on the rocks, feeling the buzz, and feeling very grateful for my life, my family, friends, home, abilities, hope and dreams.

Next year I have new things planned, a new biz for one.   Haven’t yet decided on it, and no doubt will include the last 20 years of decorative painting, but it’s changing, and I’m excited about this.

Wishing you and yours a wonderful, happy, healthy New Year.  Let’s make 2017 a year of smiles, dreams come true, and may all of us achieve peace.  In faith….

 

Love to you!!!!!!!

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Rambling…..

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Another Christmas over, a new year quickly approaching.  Early December I celebrate my birthday, and while most of my life I haven’t liked being “a December baby”, I like that it is just a couple weeks before ringing in a new year, and assists me divinely in reviewing and renewing my year.

This has been a great year for me.   In January I went on an amazing cruise with my best girlfriend.  Spent time in Old San Juan, visited St. Croix, Barbados, and more.   It was great.  I came home to new windows, thus a new home, and new outlook.  This summer I spent time in Maine (Love New England, perhaps that’s why I’ve always lived here?) and got to spend a week with my siblings this summer, and visited my dad.

I travel taught, and in my home studio a few classes, and rang in another year cancer free.  (The Lucky 7!).  My mother and brother survived another cancer (both their third), and all in all, I’m really in touch with what is important to me.  Have been doing some soul searching as to what direction I would like to go in 2017, of course, all dependent on what my maker has planned for me.   But I have some really nice thoughts and plan to focus on the positive, and I have a lot of positive in my life.

I’ve come to realize (finally) that my life, my purpose isn’t any greater than anothers.  Ego baby, ego!  And while I know not if I have purpose now, for the most part, I’m happy with who I am, where I am, and in what direction I want to head.

I appreciate the little things in life, some that unless you’ve struggled financially, or with some things that I’ve gone through, you may not appreciate.   Likewise, in reverse.   I met a financial goal this year that was two years in the making.   It was not easy, but I succeeded, and I’m pretty pleased with myself.  Still, humbled in life, and feeling very grateful for my abilities, for all that I have (and have worked hard for).  I know that I’m blessed with much.  Gratitude.

I redid 75% of the inside of my house, with my moms help.   It’s looking great!

I’ve also been looking at how I am planning for my own future.  I question whether I’ve become complacent in my relationship status of single.   I don’t think anyone sets out to be single for 11-12 years, but during this time I’ve grown so much.  A friend told me how much I’ve matured.  Hey, it’s overrated!   But seriously, I do not look to another, and certainly a partner to make my life better, I look to myself.   It’s like looking to someone else to make me happy, content.   I have made myself happy.  I’ve had pain, but it doesn’t define me.  I have grown to understand its existence, and I live a pretty happy life!

For the most part, I live a pretty peaceful existence.   While many tell me I spend far to much time alone, I shrug my shoulders.  It is within the time that I have spent alone that I have been able to define myself.  When involved I tend to become a caregiver, and lose my identity.  But I’ve also been involved with men who really haven’t been able to provide stability, I’m very aware of that, and these men were men that I chose, and would not again.

Yeah, I’m pretty happy with myself.  I need to lose weight, I need to get working on the book I promised myself I would do before I die, and I chuckle at how I think if I don’t write it, I’ll live longer!  But most of us know it doesn’t work that way!  If I died tomorrow, my six -seven years of blogging will have to account for the book I never finished.

Each time I see my dad, and I see how much he’s aging, and failing, I cry when we part ways because I don’t know if I’ll ever see him again.  While that’s not a great way to think, it’s practical, he’s in his 80s.  He has lived longer than either parent.   I don’t think I will live as long as my parents, my mother who is three years younger than my dad.  I don’t dwell on death, but I also don’t fear it.    Grateful for that.

And I think that 2017 is going to bring another one of my favorite things…. to be knocked out for surgery. I absolutely LOVE this.  I do.  99, 98, 97…

Hope you had a great holiday and wishing you a Happy 2017, if I don’t write before  then!  Shine!  Let yourself shine, even if you’re being dished crap.   Because it’s all over so quickly.

Love to you!

Hell’s Bells

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Tuesday evening I went and visited a close friend who was going in for surgery Thursday, hoping to offer her support, comfort.  Instead she offered it to me, as I dealt with what is probably IBS, or a spastic colon.   Washcloths on my face, laying on her bathroom floor until the pain subsided.   I pulled it enough together to come home and deal with the last two hours of it.  While doing this, I was also calling my mother to find out what time her appointment was Wednesday, she is being treated for advanced kidney cancer (her 3rd cancer).  MGH (Mass General Hospital) in Boston MA basically saved her kidney, thus her life.  She lost her other kidney to cancer a few years ago, and before that, advanced colon rectal cancer.  She was scheduled for surgery in November, but we had to cancel because I wasn’t fit to drive her.  One of my struggles is insomnia.   They go in and check out the ureter, kidney, laser off any tumors, and place stents.  She gets anxious, and misunderstood that she could now accept phone messages, and they had called her back 8 times.  She deleted them.  So after calling oncall service, I learned that we needed to be there at 11:15. Great.  I can hopefully get enough sleep.

Arrive at my brothers in NH to pick her up at 8:00, he tells us to take his car, because mine has no heat.  That was kind of him.  But my brother smokes in his car, and I get very sick when I’m around it.  But you do what you have to.  We arrive early, 10:45, check in.  We aren’t there too long before they call us in.  I look back at the large waiting room full of people, guesstimated, probably 60 between patients and their caregivers.  Everything was going well, until 12:15 came, and my mother who hadn’t eaten since 7pm the night before was getting irritated (who wouldn’t?).  At 4:30 they came and said “We’re going to take you to the o.r. now.   I wished her well, and hiked down towards the cafe.  The hospital is like a maze and fairly confusing, but I’d managed to learn my way around a few years ago upon my own stay there.  Upon reaching the entrance to the cafe the beeper starts beeping.  I need to go back.  Up I go.  They made a mistake.  It was now postponed until 6:30, then 7:00, then 7:30.  Ended up we waited for a total of seven hours before they took her in for surgery.  I’ll skip the whole ordeal because frankly, I don’t want to revisit it.  An hour and a half later I get a call from her doctor, NO CANCER.  Words most people would be delighted, overjoyed, very grateful to hear.   I was.  For a split second, and then I got angry.  Strange reaction, eh?  One I didn’t expect.

I texted my sister.  “Do you remember when they told Dar (kid sister) she was in renal failure and would fall to sleep and pass in her sleep?”  (If only that happened.)  She was afraid to sleep particularly that first night after being told, the next morning she awoke, and was so angry she was slamming cupboards.    “That anger is what I’m feeling right now”.

Every hospital, every surgery, test, procedure, every waiting room brings back very painful memories.  One would think it would get easier.  I had brought plenty things to keep me busy, but my mother nothing appealed to me, and I kept busy by talking to my mother and trying to keep her from walking out. (She has done that before).    Selfishly also because I knew it would be on me again, if this happened.    I was now in that large waiting room by myself.  They were closing the unit.  Someone came with her bag of things and brought me to another building, another waiting room.  One of the “conference rooms” where they pull you in to tell you dreadful news.   But there was no dreadful news.  I had already heard from her doctor.   Why was I feeling so emotional? So angry?   Where was my gratitude?

A few minutes later someone came to get me, to sit with my mom who had gotten VERY sick upon awakening.  The usual naseau meds that we ask for in the o.r. were no longer enough.  So they administered another drug, but only half dose because they wanted her to be able to get in the car so I could drive her home.  And by this time, this unit was shutting down.  Thankfully it worked. and rather quickly she bounced back, she wanted to be out of there as much as they did.  So I went to go find my brothers car (we use valet, it’s cheaper for patients than the garages), they had closed.  So I went to the parking garage that they advised me to, got the car and off to the Main Entrance to pick up my mother who was VERY uncomfortable.  Starting enroute, I was trying to navigate and help make her comfortable, she was all over the seat, wanting to put it back.  It’s not my car, I don’t know how to do it.  I text my brother, and my phone dies.  It dies.   It had been fully charged an hour before.  Where had all the battery life gone?  And the four year old iphone doesn’t always charge when I want it to.  Every attempt takes about 20 different times before it starts to charge.  Now, in Boston, with a patient, I missed a turn, lost my way, and I’m lost, with no gps (phone).     Anxiety is through the roof.  I’m trying to calm down, I pray, I ask my angels to help me, and my mother needs to now lie in the back seat.  So I find what I believe to be a safe place (?) and she maneuvers the doors and crawls into the back, my whole knapsack and pocketbook spill out on the back seat.   Also want to mention that the drivers side headlight is much less bright than the passenger side, I was having a very hard time seeing.  “There is no need in getting angry, it isn’t going to help, Donna”.  I said “I’m not angry, it’s fear.  I’m petrified.  I am lost, in Boston, without a phone, in the middle of the night with a sick mother”.  This lasted about 30-45 minutes until I found 2A.  During this time my mother wants me to stop so I can get her back in the front seat because she determined how to put the seat down.

I’m on Rte 2, I try to calm down, adrenaline rush that has my head throbbing, and feeling like I was going to get sick.  She is now calmer, lying still, hungry.   30 minutes later I arrive at our normal stopping point, and get out of the car to find the money that once was positioned nicely in my purse, in my knapsack.  We order, I just get a drink.  She is eating, and I’m driving looking for a route to NH that I’ve only driven a couple times. She lives in NH, I in VT.  And she wants nothing of coming to my house, nor would I, I would want to be home in my own bed.   We find it, we think, now mind you, it’s pitch black, no street lights, I know I’m not where I’m supposed to be, nothing is familiar. (As familiar as it could be at dark).  I’m praying, looking for civilization.  This lasted for another 20 miles, finally found the route and brought her home.  I arrived home at 1:45am.

I sit on the couch to unwind, each time I close my eyes I see cars coming at me.  So I try to meditate and release the angst.  Decide on a glass of chocolate milk.   I drink the milk, and so begins the cramping and repeat of the night before.  This time, thankfully, I’m home, on my own bathroom floor.  Two hours later it subsides.  I crawl into bed, turn on the tv, and my legs start cramping.  Up I am again.  At 6am I’m finally ready to fall asleep, which I did. Set the alarm, call my mother at 10 “Go back to sleep, I’m okay until afternoon”.  Three hours later  I wake to the alarm at  and look at my phone which had miraculously charged to 60%.  There is a text telling me my girlfriend made it through surgery, it went well.  I smile, I thank, I praise.  I’m up, jump in the car, picking up her meds, some meals for her, and a freshly baked raspberry pie.

She is happy and grateful to see me, and was thrilled about the pie.  We have a piece together.  Calm, peace, gratitude set in.  And something else, familiar, but couldn’t yet define it.   I get into my car to drive home and it hit me… STRENGTH.   My strength returned only 2 times more powerful.   Okay, all is well, now you can rest, now you can wholeheartedly offer praise, and thanks.   All is well.  My family is blessed with a nice holiday season.  Two more cancers survived this year.  We are fortunate.

I arrive home, look at my cell (which charged up to 30% this morning) “Unknown Caller”.   “Hey Donna!  Calling to set an appointment for your mothers next surgery in six months!

I breathe, mumble about pouring salt in a wound, and then laugh.  I can do this.  I’ve got this.   Thank you Lord!

 

“50 things about me!”

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1.)   I get teary eyed and goose bumps when I see a big old Red, White & Blue flag flying

2.)  One of the proudest days of my life was when I bought out my ex-husband, and owned my own home!

3.) I am the middle of five siblings

4.) I have known love

5.) I hope to be half the person my dog thinks I am!

6.) My mentor is an 87 year old retired art teacher who I just adore.

7.) I have been in a room with someone I loved when they were told they had only a short time to live

8.) I have EXCELLENT taste in friends.

9.) I find great joy in making things…. Art for one

10.) I have had more surgeries than I can to share!

11.) My home is like my womb, and I hope it’s comfy and inviting to all my guests

12.) I do not like to cook

13.) I rarely lose anything

14.) I am not a morning person, have never been

15.) I was unable to have children, so I guess I married them

16.) I believe in God, and I’ve been blessed to see his work in my life

17.) I believe if you give to another it comes back to you, tenfold

18.) I do not feel my age mentally, but physically I do

19.) My most creative time has been 10pm – 2am

20.)  I despise phones, but I love what my Iphone offers me

21.) I have smoked one cigarette in my life (at age 15), and I had a headache for 2 days

22.) I love Bailey’s Irish Creme

23.) I believe when a door is closed, a window is opened, or visa versa

24.) Music is vital to my happiness

25.) I have had the following cars:  1976 Subaru (Turquoise), 1980 Subaru Coupe (New), Renault p.o.s., 1988 Honda Prelude (new),  Pontiac Fiero, 2003 Subaru Wagon, 86 Jetta, 91 Jetta, 2003 Honda Odyssey, 2003 Jeep Liberty, and I now drive a 2002 VW Passat with 270K!

26.) I am my own worst critic

27.)  I believe food tastes better, and possessions are more appreciated when earned or grown yourself

28.) Sometimes I think about growing old, and I wonder if I will

29.) I am very grateful for my parents and their love for me

30.) The best advice given to me (or that I heard) was “Step back, look at the situation before responding, hence reacting

31.) I believe that everything happens for a reason, and that life is like a 100 piece puzzle that we will only get 60-70 pieces to connect

32.) I know mental illness intimately

33.) I love being near or close to bodies of water, I find it tranquilizing

34.) I hate snakes

35.) Family comes first, always

36.) I know what lost love feels like

37.) I am a cancer survivor

38.) I have laughed so hard I’ve wet my pants

39.) The older I get, the smarter my parents are!

40.) I believe we are responsible for our own happiness

41.)  I don’t like the state of the World.  It saddens me

42.) I have been physically abused before

43.) If I had to do it over again, I would have become a graphic artist

44.) Nature grounds me

45.) I like who I am, I am honest, kind, caring, and I love to laugh

46.) I have lost two sisters to ovarian cancer

47.) I fear more loss

48.) I love animals

49.) Fall is my favorite time of year

50.) I am an extrovert who heals and recoops like an introvert

Whose next to share their list???????????  I dare you!

Be your own advocate

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Seven years ago today I walked into Massachusetts General Hospital with a friend from NC who flew up to be with me, and I had a double mastectomy.    Another friend picked handled the logistical part of the day and many more to come.

With a diagnosis of two different breast cancers at the age of 47, a lumpectomy in April which unfortunately they did not get clean margins, I went 12 weeks fighting insurance to get my mastectomies.   It was hell.

I carry a gene mutation, BRCA2, which all of my sisters do as well.  Most of you who know me know, my youngest and oldest sisters died of Ovarian Cancer.  My only living sister is, too, a breast cancer survivor.   This mutation put me at a very high risk for both breast and ovarian cancer, and a handful of others.   After my kid sister died at 38, and my sister paid the enormous fee to have the first genetics testing, I thought for sure I had dodged it.  My sisters had had their cancers much younger than I.  Unfortunately, when I tested positive for the mutation I was devastated.  More so then when the actual diagnosis of cancer came in.  That was expected.  Just didn’t think it would be 8 months after testing positive.

However, with that said, after insisting for a second opinion at MGH, it was apparent from my mammograms that the first cancer was missed for a couple of years.   Also I want to note, in March when I went for my routine mammogram and was called back for more images, both my sister and I knew, my fate was laid out.     They called me in, did more images, and showed me the images and were quite hesitant to do a biopsy.  “Let’s just watch it for six months”.   I insisted upon a biopsy.  That was with MUCH PROMPTING from my sister, Karla.    “Okay, we’ll do it, but I bet it will be benign”.

The next Monday morning four women went in for biopsies at the small hospital here, and one malignancy came out of it.  Guess who?

The point of my sharing this is to encourage ALL of you, to be your own, best advocate.  Not just with breast cancer, but with any health problems.  Follow your gut, know your risks, get preventative testing, don’t ignore or put off for ANY reason!   In cancers, we all know by now, early prevention saves lives.

It was on this day that I went through the emotional surgery to have my breasts removed, and reconstruction started with expanders put in under my chest muscles.

I can say I am a 7 year cancer survivor.  But I don’t take that for granted.   My life has changed immensely since that day.  The journey of cancer made me a better person, and gave me new perspective.  I know it’s a cliche “Cancer made me a better person”, but I feel that way, and I am one of the fortunate who BECAUSE I INSISTED ON A BIOPSY and BECAUSE I INSISTED ON A SECOND OPINION at Massachusetts General Hospital, am here today to tell my story.

A big thank you to all my many friends who helped me through the almost 2 years of treatment.  It was a long, painful journey with many complications.   Today, I have complications with the implants, and I’m going to have to address that soon enough.  At 47 and single, I wanted to have reconstruction.  Now almost 55 I wonder if I will just have them removed.  My choice, time with tell.   I do know that my breasts don’t make me the woman that I am, and I really do like who I am.

Today I celebrate 7 years cancer free.    Please heed my words and be your own advocate, insist on second opinions, change doctors if you have to.  Long gone should be the days when my grandparents were loyal to their doctors.   Insist your doctors be loyal to you!

Love to you all

In my youth

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I’m painting (on canvas) for the first time in months, listening to a playlist on Spotify that depicts my life and times in words, songs.   “Rocky Mountain High” just played, which was, I believe, our 8th grade graduation song.   John Denver got me through MUCH in my youth.   The, what seemed insurmountable problems of youth, which seemed so very difficult, something like a blemish on my face, or my favorite Levi’s not clean for a date, etc.   I think about it sometimes, as I drive by the local high school and see these YOUNG KIDS and I question, “Was I really ever that young?”    And then, putting into proportion the immense deep feelings I had for a kid that I had hoped would last into adulthood.  I’m laughing now.  IF ONLY relationships were that easy!  ha!    But it’s nice to think about being so young, so innocent.  And certainly the woes of that time were real, and feelings are so deep because you’ve yet to experience life, to experience loss, to experience the pain of broken hearts or dreams.    I’m not meaning to sound cynical, not at all.   I guess I’m just saying, the innocence and naivety are covered with blankets of protection of our youth.

I’ve often written about music.  How important it is to my well being, to my mental health.  I simply don’t know how I could ever live without it.    In thinking about life’s necessities, and if I were given only one luxury, would I choose music over art?    I think I probably would!  And yet art is so important to me, ingrained in every aspect of my being.   I’m so fortunate that I have known passion for such.   I’m grateful for that.  I’m grateful for where my paint brush has taken me in life, and all the good it has brought me to.

Now, a song by Toni Child’s “I’ve got to go now”.   A song about a woman in love with an alcoholic, who tosses her and his children aside for the almighty bottle.   This song actually relates to the three major relationships I’ve had in my life.  All alcoholics.  The first, who physically beat me, the second who emotionally did, and the last, the one who gave me so much, and likewise, took so much of me when we parted.     “Must be addicted to all this pain, because I keep coming back for the shame.  Dear God give me the strength to leave, I’ve got to keep going, keep going this time”.   Powerful song, and an epitaph of my past relationships.    Listening to this song does not always make me sad.  Shat it does is get me in touch with the courage I have mustered in my life.  The starting over, the strength and fortitude that comes when you say goodbye to the one you love, because you know, if you stay, you will die before he.

Now, “Landslide” by Stevie Nicks.  I LOVE this song.  It’s been, what I call, my “recovery” song.  Questioning, seeing, surviving.  “Oh, mirror in the sky.  What is love?  Can the child within my heart rise above?  Can I sail through the changing ocean tide?  Can I handle the seasons of my life?”   I go to this song when I am questioning,  seeking strength, seeking guidance.  Doubt becomes certainty, becomes strength, endurance, and then even on top of that becomes the silver lining of it all.  “But time makes you bolder, and children get older, and I’m getting older too…”   Life, learning, lessons.   I’ve become the person I wanted to be, when it comes to morals, standards, strength.  And how did I do that?   Only after the landslide took me down.

Life these days is pretty straight forward.   I am working hard on myself, and my home.  I am focused, aligned, very content with my life.  Change is coming, I’m not afraid of it, nor am I afraid of how it will change me.    I’ve got a track record now.   All the difficulties have thickened my skin, but not my heart.  My heart is strong, my thoughts are clear, and damn, I just had pistachio ice cream!

Music?  A necessity for me.  I have an italian friend who says she couldn’t live without olive oil.  Me?  I couldn’t live without music.   What’s your necessity?

And now I’ll close as “Rhythm of my Heart” Rod Stewart, is playing.”The rhythm of my heart is beating like a drum, , with the words I love you rolling off my tongue, Never will I roam, for I know my place is home, where the ocean meets the sky I’ll be sailing!”  Have a great weekend!  Chase your desires, your dreams, or hell, just get yourself an ice cream, and sit and listen to your favorite tunes.    Love to you…