Tag Archives: gratitude

Mental slag

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Today has proven to be a challenging day for me.  The first thing I did besides feed the lippy cat that was ready to eat two hours prior, was go out and shovel out my car.  I must say, someone was looking out for me when it drove right out of it’s spot, unlike the last time where I was stuck.  But stubborn brunettes don’t give up!   We had a shitload of snow fall yesterday.

What was challenging for me today was my head, where it goes.   I once heard from a psychiatrist that the more intelligent you are, the more remote places you can find to hide in.   Not saying I’m the smartest person in the world, not even close, but I have at times thought, if I wasn’t so smart, I would be happier.   Sit on that one for a moment!

I cannot share my thoughts here, I cannot share them with anyone.    I’m doing what I know to do, and that is to get moving, get busy, keep trucking.  It took me hours of stuck to get there.  I guess I should celebrate in getting there.

I’m heading to bed early tonight, taking a friend to a much needed doctor’s appointment up North.  I’m hoping the roads and snow removal are in good shape.  I get to drive the cutest car in the world because mine doesn’t have heat.   (Kia little boxy car, I just love it!) Ya just can’t expect an 81 year old to ride that far without heat!

I walked around my house today foreign to myself.   Not exactly foreign, but certainly not where I wanted to be.   I know depression and anxiety intimately.  But where it takes me, those are places that it’s hard to find comfort in.  I remember hearing at a recovery group a couple decades ago “Find comfort in the uncomfortable”.   One of life’s tricks to success, or certainly to get beyond, or overcome.

I did some sketches today on a piece I want to start soon.   But as I walked into my studio this evening, sat down to work on ears of the pet portrait I’m doing, I see many 85%-90% paintings started, but not completed.  That isn’t a sin, but it’s something I have to be vigilant of.  Signs?  Silliness?

Well, have things I have to do before bed.  I’m hoping I sleep.  Last night I did not.  Not well, anyway.

Hoping your having a great day, full of insight and direction!   It’s what I’m seeking at the moment.

 

 

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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Sometimes

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Sometimes something happens, or you witness something that gets you in touch with how normal, or abnormal your life is.  I think life can be very difficult.  That is not to take away from all the beauty, and triumphs, but there are times when I find it hard to face my days.  I think we all experience this to one extent or another.  I’m not saying that I’m any different than anyone else when it comes to challenges, lessons, and choices.  But I do believe I do not handle it as well as many others when life throws me curve balls.   Or am I being unrealistically hard on myself, yet again?

My sister texted something to me the other day that really made me realize how crazy the life of a family with two gene mutations, and an extinguished list of cancers can experience.   Multiple diagnosis’s, treatment, appointments.   I find it overwhelming, and have now for a few years.

Currently two members of my family are considered in cancer treatment.   What remains (minus two who lost their lives to it), are survivors themselves, trying to make the most of their days cancer free, while supporting those going through yet, another battle.

I was burned out with this four years ago.  I.mean.burned.out.  But still, I forged through, being primary caregiver to my elderly mother with her third diagnosis. I think it has become acceptable and expected that I am the one to do this.  And that angers me.   My health isn’t optimum, nor is the life of a single woman trying to make it in New England easy.  It’s hard for everyone now!    If you know not financial frustrations or inadequacies, then I applaud you, but I also wonder if you can fully understand what it’s like to live through this.

I’ve had contractors in and out of my house since November, the whole process actually starting in September.  It is old.    My house is filled with piles of things that have been misplaced, shifted for work.   I’m actually surprised I haven’t ripped someone’s head off with this stress, alone.  But I choose to focus on the good of it.  The work that has been needing to be done for years is getting done.   So when I start to feel the stress of the situation, I’ll purposely sit and look out one of the new windows, or look at the changes that are happening, and it’s nothing but positive.

I’ve come to learn that it’s the conglomeration of, the accumulation, the consistent and longevity of struggles that takes it toll on me most.    I dive into whatever it is I need to, or I deem necessary, but it’s very hard to maintain it after so many years OF IT.       I’m resentful that once again, my life is twisted and turned upside down, without true acknowledgement from those who offer moderate support.   That is not to say that there are not excuses, or reasons, I’ve also learned with resentments that it really doesn’t matter about that… the bottom line is, here I am, again, responsible for a loved ones care.   But I will always do what I can for my parents.  This is who I am, and I while sometimes I wish I could blow off this responsibility, I know deep down, I could never do that.  This is what life has handed us, this is what we have to get to, and through.  I’m in.

Tomorrow I will leave my house at a time I usually am going to bed, and will drive the long distance to Boston, hitting both rush hour traffic hours.  I will sit alone, and wait to hear how my mother’s surgery went, and the status of her cancer(s) and what care will be required.     I will play, once again, the familiar cat and mouse game with her doctors eyes, her surgeon, trying to determine from the look on her face, before I am approached, the verdict of all.  And the past 14 years of family diagnosis’s and struggles will all come back to me.

Then, late afternoon, thankfully I was able to rearrange my appointments (for the minimum of 8th time), to see MY oncologist, for the first time in almost two years.    There are issues that will be addressed, and I’ve no doubt I myself will be heading back to surgery, but I will make that this summer.  It isn’t anything pressing, hopefully.   I will arrive home probably 13 hours or more from the time I left, and I will not be able to sleep.  My head will be filled with possibilities, both good and bad, and while my body will crave sleep, it just won’t happen.    It will be two days before I am “normal” (if I can ever be called normal) again, just in time for the clock to roll in the 13th anniversary of my kid sisters passing.    Anyone who has loss knows that the body knows long before the head of upcoming anniversaries.  Am I right?

My own diagnosis was 7 years ago on the 1st of April, and it was two long grueling years for me.  Boston no longer scares me, nor does driving in it.   But that doesn’t mean it isn’t exhausting.   And it’s not like these trips can be doubled with museums, or fun things.   There is no time.

As a cancer survivor, I do not dwell on what I have been through.  Like the work that is being done on my house, I try to collectively gather all good, and sit my ass in front of those facts.   I am alive.   It is hard not to “remember” or think about it, each day when I undress or dress, the scars are always there as a reminder.    And while I am now (hopefully) still in remission, there isn’t one appointment of any of my family members (all survivors, too) that we don’t have in the back of our minds…. What is this?   Will this turn out to be another diagnosis?   Another life altering experience?  More fighting?   But I’m here to tell you, every day in life is a fight for me.  A fight to hold onto the good, the positive, and continue with and through that which I need to do.

I will do this, get through this, in spite of my own struggles with major depression (which I’ve learned to not really share on) and fibromyalgia.     I will do this in spite of my own need to work, and to get some composure back into my home.

I don’t know what tomorrow will bring.  None of us do.  I do hope for the best, and after being in a potentially very bad accident yesterday, walking out of it unscathed, I am hopeful that tomorrow may and will offer good things.

“Oh Donna, you’re strong!” I’ve been told on numerous occasions in my life.  Yeah, I am strong.  I have walked through some very difficult terrain and made it out the other side.  I am strong because I have to be.  I have high expectations of myself and others, when it comes to family.  But with every new diagnosis or responsibility I start out on the path strong, and knowing,  I am one step closer to falling.   It’s just the way it is.

I have also learned in my life that acceptance?  Acceptance is key.   In order to be at peace, even among st all the challenges, I need to find acceptance.  And sometimes?  Most times?  That journey begins, first with willingness.    It also comes much easier when I know I have done and am doing my very best.   I can’t nor should I ask anymore of myself.   When I lay my body down at night to rest, knowing many times sleep will not come, I can feel good about myself and my involvement, my commitment to help my parents in the twilight of their years.   For me, it’s not only the right thing, it’s the only thing to do.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gratitude is the Attitude

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With the hustle and bustle of Christmas Open House(s) and customs behind me, I sat quietly on my couch tonight watching Frasier, making myself a pair of mittens.

I am grateful for the success I have had the past month, priority being happy customers.   I delivered my last painting tonight, 2′ x 3′ daisies.  She was overtly blissful with her purchase, and the custom quote she wanted put on it.   I am smiling.   It’s really nice when others truly appreciate my art.

Yesterday my mom and I packed up what was left of mittens, and threw in a few other things, which will be given to underprivileged.    It’s my part of trying to make someone’s Christmas a bit better.

This has been a difficult year for me, but the holiday season has been delightful.   I seem to have risen up and beyond the ugly depression that sticks it’s talons into me, with the weight of the world.   It is nice to feel good.   It is nice to be peaceful, serene.  I am truly grateful.

As Christmas approaches (and my birthday just past), I always start reflecting on the year, and defining what it is I hope to achieve in the upcoming year.   This year has taught me much.   I don’t wish to repeat the difficult times, but what I do want to withhold, to keep, is the peace that I am feeling.

The older I get, the less I care about what someone thinks of me.   I have learned to only put forward what I feel I can, and I am choosing to spend my time wiser.    I haven’t the energy for another’s drama, that is, “luxury” drama.   Life dishes out enough hardship.  I will be there for those I love, and I will continue to pray for those in need.

I am particularly fortunate to have, still with me, both parents, and the two siblings remaining.  I am particularly fortunate to be writing this cancer free.   I know what it is like to make the best of difficult holidays, and I’m largely grateful that this one, for me, is quiet, without hardship.   I know that is not true for everyone.  So grateful to be spared thus far, of heartache.

I was told that Pope Francis declared “This is NOT a Merry Christmas”, speaking of course to the ills and state of the world.  But I’ve learned that in spite of all the deplorable things that are happening, it is up to me to find peace, happiness in my little corner of the world.   And this year, my little corner of the world comes with new sheets and pillows.   Sounds simple?   Indeed, it is.   And as I work to simplify my life, ridding myself of excess “things” I don’t need, letting go of pain of yesterday, I am finding myself in a much happier place.  It really is about the little things.

My life today is filled with little things.   I am grateful.

 

“All my life’s a circle” -Tom Chapin

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I love the ebb and flow of life, friendships.   Tonight I had an absolutely joyful conversation with my best friend from high school.   Filled with laughter, and being the sap I am, a few tears, I feel so good right now.     “Old friends, they mean much more to me than the new friends, because they know where you are, and they know where you’ve been!”.    If you’ve never heard this song I suggest you get your butt to Spotify!   Tom Chapin, the late Harry Chapin’s brother wrote it.   Great song.

There is a major, positive shift happening with me.   It’s exciting.   I’ve had to take double takes and rub my eyes to see if I were dreaming.   I’m very grateful for this new upswing.  Grateful and ready!

It’s been ridiculously humid here in VT.    I remind myself what Winter looks like, what it looked like this past winter, and I stay in the air conditioning and shut my lips!   As I drove to Town today there were neighbors out chopping, splitting wood, getting ready for Old Man Winter. image   I thought to myself, wow, the irony.  The hottest day of the year and they’re preparing for the coldest.  Such is life in New England.  Such is life.

I’m painting and designing well.  Very pleased with that.  Purchased a couple new brushes today (which I just don’t do) but mine were REALLY ratty.   It’s funny how a $25 purchase can make me feel like a queen!   It really is the little things in life.

My house is not dirty but an absolute clutter hole.    I laugh at how organized I feel, and am getting, amidst it all.   To someone coming in?  What the heck happened here?  But to me, I see organization, progress.    More gratitude!

I am very pleased with the direction my life is going.    Thank you, God.

And now I’m off to watch some tv before Lilly and I retire.    I have been up for 30 hrs.   This is not good, but what is good is that I SHOULD sleep really well tonight.

Hope you are having a great day!   🙂

As we celebrate the 4th….

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I painted until 5am this morning.  It felt SO good!   I have several pieces that I flip back and forth to.   I’m working on a patriotic piece that is stirring emotions.   I am pretty much a sap though, when it comes to our flag.   I love driving by those big car dealerships and they have the big old red, white and blue flying.    I have been known to shed a tear or two, thinking about all that goes behind our beautiful flag. I also came up with a sweet ornament you can paint for your favorite veteran. Sign up for my blog and I will email the instructions to you, free, next week.4thofjulyfree

Today is fourth of July.   Many of us will be going to friends or families for picnics, and for many a three day weekend has been awarded.  Enjoy!

But let us not forget those who gave of their time, limbs, life, sanity to fight for the very freedom we are celebrating today.  This holiday will not be a happy holiday for some.   I was surfing the net and saw a picture of a woman with her baby, on a blanket, in front of her husbands gravestone.  My God, my heart hurt.   God bless her and all of you who are out there feeling like you sacrificed all for our country.  The truth is, many did.   I cannot speak for the whole nation, but I would personally like to thank each and every veteran, and family of, for their service.   I know not what it is like to sacrifice so much for others.  You did this, not even knowing us.  You are my true heroes.  I mean this from the bottom of my heart.

In grade school I had a friend who was the youngest child of 11 children.  There was only one boy, and he fought and lost his life in Vietnam.   I remember my parents, the anguish when they heard this.   A poor family, monetary wise, but a very close loving family.   I was thinking about them today.

A couple months ago I started something new.   You know how you’re waiting for the 1 minute timer to be up on your microwave?  Well, instead of sitting there watching the timer I decided to use that minute or two to give thanks for all that I have.  The minute flies by, as I reel off those things that I am grateful for.

I’ve shared this in a blog or two before.   Two of my nephews spent many weekends and school vacations at my house.   I cherish these memories.  Every night at bedtime we did a “gratitude alphabet”.  We started we A and went through the entire alphabet listing something starting with that letter that we were grateful for.     I’m smiling as I think about some of the things they shared, and how one would pick on the other if they got the letter wrong.   It was tradition with us.    I hope they will remember this and smile.

So whatever you are doing tomorrow, this weekend, have a safe, fun weekend.  And offer a short prayer or thought to those who gave us the very freedom we celebrate.

I live in the best Nation in the world.  It certainly isn’t the country I grew up in, but I remind myself that many countries had fences to keep their citizens in, we have fences to keep others out.    I am a proud Americana, and a very big fan of the red, white and blue!

PS   Today’s music reference    –   Tom Petty “American Girl”

My dad

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In a couple of months my father will turn 81.  My father, a Navy vet who served his country, sent home money to his parents to help raise his younger siblings.  He is one of six children, the second oldest.

He and my mother had five children together.  Their oldest, my sister Karen, took ill at the age of six with meningitis. From that diagnosis she spent months in a coma, came out of it with the ability to only move her eyes. Intensive rehab brought her back from that, but she started seizing, (Seizure disorder) having numerous grand mal seizures a day, which reared her paralyzed on her left side, unable to speak, walk. The seizures slowly and continually kept taking from her.

My father became an apprentice, and learned to be an incredible carpenter.  He did this so that he could build a home for us.  He (and my mother) built two beautiful homes. He worked more hours in one week then I’ve probably ever put into a job in a month, and I don’t consider myself lazy.  A very meticulous carpenter, and a house filled with four other children, weekend runs to pick up my sister and bring her home and back, proved difficult for everyone, including Karen.  The more seizures my sister had, the more it took from her.   I cannot imagine having a child and having such an awful thing happen to her.  I cannot imagine what it must have been like having made the decision to turn your very ill and medically needy daughter over to the ward of the state.   I remember judging my parents.  Asking them “If I get sick, will you send me away, too?”   Now I cringe at the very thought of asking that.  I cringe at the slightest thought that they could have chosen better.  Who the hell am I to ask such a question?   How much their hearts must have hurt.  But responsibility of four other children, and having worked night and day to pay off medical bills that today would have been covered by insurance, my parents made a difficult choice.  A choice that I believe was right for Karen.  A choice that I now believe gave me and my siblings, a more “normal” life.  If you can define normal.

My father has a wonderful sense of humor.  My whole family does, really.    And no matter whose company I am in, it is with my family that the laughter is the strongest, loudest.   I learned at a very young age that laughter heals.

My father became a plumbers apprentice and then went on to work for a company who sent him (foreman) and his crew many hours away, which they drove back and forth each day.  My father made a good living.  We always had a balanced nutritious meal on the table, a warm bed to sleep in and even “space” of our own.  We never needed for anything, and were taught that it was because of my fathers hard work, that we had the good life we had.    We also were taught that we lived in the best country in the world, and that our freedom is due to the many men (and now women) who served our country, many whom never made it home.  It’s sort of ironic how the man who gave most of his life to a job for his family, had at one point became invisible, absent.  But working for this company enabled him to give his children a good life, a good start.   His absence was only because he was working to give us this.  The company didn’t appreciate him.  They offered his little for pension.  But he kept going, day after day, for his family.  I know not how to live so selflessly.

He was our loudest fan at softball games, my brothers hockey games.   I always knew I was loved, and while I didn’t agree or like some decisions he made, including ending a 27 year marriage to my mother, I humbly have long since realized, I have no right to judge him or her on that, either.  What do I know about

He and my youngest sister, Darlene, were particularly close.   He admitted to the three of us remaining children last year “Okay, okay, Darlene was my favorite!”   He looked at us like it was an awful thing to say, only to find the three of us bent over laughing.   No shit, Sherlock!   The truth is, they were great buds.  They fished together, they did so much together.  It is nice to look at pictures of the two of them together.   The way Dad looked at her, she was “it”!   And this is not to imply he doesn’t love us, or look at us with swelling pride.   They had something very special.     I remember sitting next to my sister when she made the phone call to dad to tell him that her cancer treatment wasn’t working.  She said “I’m so sorry dad”.    I recall a conversation she and I had, one of our last and she said “You know Donna, he came to every ball game of mine”.  She was talking about after my parents split.  “He would get there late from work, but he always came”.   I am teary eyed thinking about her smile when she said that.  For whatever he didn’t do right (you know what I mean), being her loyal, faithful fan made it ALL right.  My sister was an old soul.  There was and would never be any jealousy there.  She was ALL OF OUR favorite.

I’ve spent a lot of time reminiscing of late.     I do not know what it is like to be my dad.    I know what it is like to watch him age, lose physical and mental strength.  I sometimes have to look away so he doesn’t see my tears.  And yet, I know how very fortunate I am that at the age of 53, I still have both my parents.

I always thought I knew it all.   And for a long time I chased “his approval” foolishly.   That ended about a decade ago when I was unpacking my van, having been travel teaching.  He was helping me.  I pulled out a new painting and he looked at it, didn’t say anything, just looked.    I was tired, disappointed that he didn’t respond the way I wanted him to.  “Am I EVER going to do anything that makes you proud?”  I said with the sharpness of a razor.  I will never forget his expression.   His jaw lay on his chest.  It was that very moment I learned, my dad would probably never shower me with the compliments the way I once wanted him to, but he was proud of me.  And the chip I had on MY shoulder that day, hurt my dad.   “Of course I’m proud of you, Donna.  I love your artwork, I think you are very talented and I’m proud of all of my children.”   I have not, nor will I ever again question his pride for me.     I am SO over judging my parents on anything.  Thank God!   And now, I am working on doing the same for myself.   The crap we get into our heads!  It’s static!    It’s all just frigan static!

It’s funny as I age and realize just what an ass I have been in my life.  I’ve put my parents through some major worry, particularly when it comes to depression and mental illness.  I remember my second hospitalization.  My sister was with me at the phone.  She had brought me a teddy bear, I named him “Arthur”.  I think I was 24.   “Dad, I need to tell you that I’m in the Brattleboro Retreat.   I am getting help for my depression”.   “You have to pull yourself up by your boot straps Donna!”.   Of course I took that wrong, and he, being the age group that he was, wasn’t as educated on mental illness as he is now, 30 years later.     I was so hurt and angry.   Now I know, in HIS head and heart he was fearful.   My father “pulled himself up by his boot straps” over and over and over his entire life, to give to his children.    His heart, his head spoke from his experience in life, to hide the fear he had of what I would or have done to myself.  He wasn’t judging.  He was saying the only thing he knew to do!

I’m not sure why it’s taken me all these years to figure out how intelligent both my parents were and are.  And as I watch them losing ground, I am fearful of losing them.    I’ve been single for over a decade now.   My dad has always been there for me, to help me in any and all ways he can.   “I’m sorry, Donna, that I was focused on your brother’s education, and not yours.   I ignorantly thought that you girls would be taken care of, in marriage”.      There was once a time, and probably too long a period of time, that it angered me that I was raised with this mentality.  That the only way I would have a home is to have a husband.   But that has long since passed.   I am responsible for my choices.  I am responsible for marrying children, two of them!  I am responsible for where I am in my life.   If I had to do it all over again, I would have sought out college.   I know I could have made better choices for myself, could be financially secure, but I’ve also come to realize that even that isn’t as important as being a good person.   Doing my best, day in and day out, and living within the morals that I was raised and were taught.    The day I bought my house out from my ex-husband was one of the proudest days of my life.  I AM responsible.   I AM who I am because of the stable childhood I was blessed with, I learned the importance of family, and while I have no children or even husband of my own, I sometimes think about how difficult it is to keep my head above water.   I take pride in caring for and giving my animals a wonderful home.   And that is NOTHING compared to what my dad gave.    I am the strong woman I am today BECAUSE of my experiences.    I understand, now, why at the age of 30 when my 10 year marriage ended, how come that was so hard for me.  Because I felt like I was nothing without someone.    Oh my god have I grown.  Thank God!    And for all the things I thought my mom or dad did wrong, they did TWENTY TIMES that right!

I’ve watched my parents bury two daughters, their oldest and their youngest.  No parent should have to bury a child, but sadly, well, too many do.  I’ve watched both my parents battle cancer, and seen the anguish and hell it brought them to watch their three remaining children battle it too.     My dad has not had an easy life.  Like all of us if he had it to do over again, I’m sure he would have made some different choices, but my dad?  He’s only human.   My dad has led a good, honest life.  He knows what it is like to work hard for your family, to start over, and he will always remain “our father” in worry for his children.  My dad, what a great human he is!  He is visiting with my sister right now in NC.  I know he chose fathers day visit to mask the fact that I am his new favorite!   🙂

I have been blessed in life with an honorable man as my dad.  He really is my hero.    I am very grateful that I have had 53 years with my dad.   I am the good person I am today largely due to the good person my dad is.  Thank you dad.  I love you and you will always be my hero, and I, your little girl.

“Why’s” are meant for children…..

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For the most part I’ve been doing very well.  Have been under the weather for a couple weeks, and this wreaks havoc for me.  Still, I’ve managed to keep a positive attitude and focus on all the good in my life, and there is much to be grateful for.

Today I’ve been thinking about someone I loved very much.   We were very close to a decade when things progressed with his drinking, I chose to say goodbye and I learned 4 months after he passed that he had passed the day after he turned 46.  To be perfectly honest, I think of him everyday, typically I can smile when I think about something he did, but today?  Today my heart is wrapped around questions that will never be answered.  I know better than to ask the infamous “WHY?”.   It only leads to more pain, endless tears and a heart that hurts so much, callousing seems to be the only relief.   That is no way to live.  At times I think it’s necessary to block off our heart until we heal, but to be longstanding, I don’t think it’s healthy.   In some instances, in most, asking “why” serves to push myself into a pit of pain, to which coming back from is harder each time I go there.   I have done this.  I am not living this way, I do not feel this way everyday, but today?  Today it’s a challenge to not go back to the second to last letter in the alphabet!

Life has a way of throwing us curve balls, doesn’t it?   I remember going through divorce, feeling hopeless, helpless, and comically (now) that my life was over…My feelings and thoughts were FAR from the truth.  My life began again.   My life got better, I got healthier, I was able to expand my horizons and open my heart again.   “We’ll make new memories”, he said to me as I worked through the crap.  And we did.  We made some wonderful memories.  Little did I know that they would have to sustain me the for the rest of my life without him.  Plans, yah, I’m here to tell you that plans have a way of falling down in midflight.  If you believe that everything has a reason, a purpose, then it does make the whole grief process easier, once you can get past the initial suffocation.   “Just don’t think about it”, I’ve been told repeatedly over the years.  I nod, sometimes I silently walk away pissed off, sometimes I turn my head and cry.   Sometimes it’s okay to think about painful parts of our past.  For me, it serves as a progress report of where I came from.   In sharing with a friend today I said “I know my life has gotten progressively better, I know this, I should feel nothing but gratitude”…True, I should.

The thing is, I never thought it would be forever.  I thought our lives together had come to a halt, but would eventually turn the corner and back around again.  Yet this is foolish thinking.  How many psychiatrists tell you “If it doesn’t work the first time it surely won’t the second”.  But what if?  What if?  On and on and on.    My life changed the day we parted ways and it changed further the day I learned of his death, a mere 4 years after we split.   To his parents I guess I was far gone.   For me, I sadly realized I had never left.  Still, life goes on.

Was watching an episode of 24 the other night and Jack (my hero) was asked by a very distraught agent “How do I live with this?” having acquired information that sent her into sadness and guilt.  “You just do” he said.   I nodded.  Yeah “you just do”.

Today my mother was told she was “legally blind”.   She can see things, but not well.  She shouldn’t be driving.  Fortunately they believe it’s all cataract related and she will do fine after surgery(ies).  Her first being next Thursday.   My comment to her “Well no wonder you haven’t been telling me how beautiful I am!”   Where would I be without a sense of humor?

For those who have and think there is nothing to mourn.  An alcoholic, an addict drinks himself to death, what’s to feel sorry for?   Having gotten in touch with the severity of my own addiction, learn more everyday how deeply rooted it is, all I can say is “You’ve apparently never lost someone you love to such an awful disease”.    Yet who am I to say that?  Perhaps they have?  Perhaps that is why they feel this way?  Still, it will always serve as a solid oak tree covering part of my heart.  Protection.   If that’s what you can call it.

Letting go, accepting doesn’t mean you never revisit the past.  A very intelligent man said something to this effect the other day, and it has stayed with me…”Every step you take, your past changes too because you see things differently than you did the day before.   Every step you take your future changes, because again, you see things differently than you did the day before.  Life is about a series of steps, not leaps, bounds, steps…”  I find that profound.  I can look back now without the intensity it once had, seeing things differently, and sadly having more compassion now for what I could not tolerate then.  That doesn’t mean anything would have changed with us, that the chapter of us wouldn’t have closed, but to see things differently means growth, perspective.

I’m off to get ready for a fun day tomorrow in Boston.  Am very excited about this.  Spending time with girlfriends, meeting new friends and getting reenergized to dive into my new business.    Very excited about this.   The decision to do this changed everything for me.  My situation hadn’t changed, but my perspective did and has.  Hope, it’s called hope and it’s a wonderful thing!   Life isn’t always fair, it isn’t always easy.  It is, however, worth living.  It’s about reaching out to others when you need encouragement, help.  It’s about helping others when they need it.   I’m starting a new chapter in my life, a fun one, one that I know is good for me and one that I know I will succeed at.  I need this.  I need this challenge, I need this newness.  I am grateful for this opportunity, and more grateful that I’m open minded and willing to go on this ride! ♥♥♥

Strength in tears

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I am a member of a group on facebook which is for breast cancer survivors.   For a while I didn’t frequent there, I think because I wanted to put the whole difficult journey behind me.   Then things happen, scares, new diagnosis of loved ones, and I fear that my distancing is cockiness.  I know intellectually it isn’t, but I find myself feeling the need to be with and relate to other pink warriors, sisters.  A few days ago I learned that someone I love, someone who is important to me and plays a significant role in my life has metastatic breast cancer.   Humbling.  How was I so fortunate to still be in remission 5 years later?

I went through the breast cancer journey single.  My mother played a huge part in my care.   I had been dating a guy for a few months.   The weekend after my lumpectomy (5 days) he was upset that I wasn’t going to drive 2 hours to be with him.   Um, really?   He did me a huge favor and ended the relationship online.    Hero!     At the time I felt so sad, hopeless, but as I walked through the daily challenges of infections, hematomas, seromas, cellulitis and for me the long 1.5 year of reconstruction, I became aware of how fortunate I was to have him end the relationship that, at that time, I hadn’t the strength to.   I think in many ways it was easier going thru this single.    I sometimes hear the demands and disappointments from others with partners, husbands and I think to myself, My God, I had it easy compared to this!    Ever hopeful it is to hear of the partners who walk with you through the journey from start to finish.   I think we are all deserving of that.

I’m not feeling well, fighting a cold.    Perhaps this has made me extra sappy or emotional, and trust me when I say the last thing I need is to be MORE emotional.  Anyway, like every other morning I logged on to read the posts.  Typically each day I will read one that brings tears to my eyes, smiles to my face, hope to my heart.    Today as I read and heard the courage, the posts, they drew more than teary eyes.   Tears were falling down my cheeks, the salty taste of some fell into my mouth.    I have often said that cancer is a journey I wouldn’t wish on anyone, but I wouldn’t trade my personal growth for the world.   As I read the posts, many, too many, who have just been diagnosed, many who have had the good fortune of remission, I thought how beautiful it is to see such support, such love to one another, having never looked in each others eyes.    I sometimes just read, sometimes “like” the post.  Lately I’ve been responding, replying, sharing my experience.   It is so healing to help another on this difficult trek.   I learn from these women daily, and I learn from myself.   Going through it you just do what you have to, what’s in front of you.   Now, five years out, looking back, I think how the hell did I get through it?  So often I hear “I hope I don’t cry”, as if it were something to be ashamed of.   I think the opposite.  I think tears  are evidence of strength, even if we feel we are at our weakest, cannot move forward.   It is a form of acceptance of our powerlessness, our need to help.  It is release of the pain that consumes us, and proof that we exist.  No matter our circumstances, good or bad, we exist and we exist beyond the pain.  Sometimes it’s just hard to find our way through it.  This is where there is strength in numbers.  If we choose to allow ourselves to be even more vulnerable than that which has us on our knees weeping.  It takes courage to succumb to a painful reality and even more to defy it, fight it, move forward.  At least that is how I feel.   Moving forward has been the hardest for me.   Accepting the loss of young loved ones, the struggles that they and I encounter.  Life isn’t always easy.  But even in the darkest of days, the smallest gesture of kindness can offer hope and strength to face that one day and perhaps?  Perhaps another.

To me the best of humanity is sharing, helping each other.   Waking up to “How can I be of help in the world today” rather than “What is today going to bring ME,,,, please bring me THIS, THAT”.    Sharing, caring, helping, I think many times some of us, myself included, dismiss the power, the impact that kindness can offer another.    We know not what another person is faced with at that moment.   Sometimes just a smile to me was enough to carry me another few hours through the challenging times in my life, still does.

Today I still have challenges to face.  Today I sometimes greet them with weakness, a desire to give up because it is too overwhelming, but then other days I stand strong and know that I can do this.   I just can’t expect myself to do it all alone.  For some of us, reaching out and asking for help from others is very hard.   It humbles us.   I have to remind myself that in doing so, in letting another help me, I am allowing them the opportunity to feel good about themselves with their kindness, help, gifts of giving of themselves.   Even still, not easy for me.

I’ve been told on numerous occasions that my blogs are sad, that the subject matter is sad.   Well…sometimes life is sad.  Sometimes our life circumstances, challenges, sorrows need to be shared.   If we look at only the fun, the good, the happy in life well, I don’t think we are experiencing life at its fullest.  I just don’t.

Today I am grateful for my health, for this day, for the food in my frig, water in my well.   I am grateful that I am here carrying the strength of yesterdays journey, and hope for today, for tomorrow.    If wishes were horses we would all ride… if only everyday could be this way.

 

The artist that WILL, the artist that IS!

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As I sat in the meeting today with a few hundred people listening to speakers who have and are sharing their success with this company, I thought about an interview that Bob Dylan did many moons ago with Morley Safer.     Always interested in his life, his thoughts, I remembered a line out of this interview that I’ve held close in thought.    He speaks of destiny.  Defines it as knowing something about yourself that others do not know.  The power to believe in yourself and the danger in sharing it, allowing others to squelch it.   He “knew” he was going to be a musician, a famous musician.

What do you see for yourself?  What did you dream about as a kid, as a young adult?  Do you still dare to dream?    Years of life kicking the crap out of me I had lost my dreams.   I’m not sure if I actually lost them, but I certainly buried them deep within the confines of my mind, locked, for safety.   It takes courage to dream.  It takes courage to love.  It takes courage to show up every day to life, to not only face the difficulties but also?   Also the good.

In an interview with Oprah Winfrey, Brene Brown author of “The power of Vulnerability” shared her beliefs about using vulnerability to transform our lives!   Vulnerability is at its highest with dreams, the things we love.   The fear of achieving, losing, the fear of allowing ourselves to succeed…  I got it.    I get it.  I agree!  Check her out..she rocks!

Last weekend I was scraping ground, feeling depleted, exhausted to all that I have done and have been through in my life.   With my head in my hands, tears falling onto my lap, I knew it was time for a change.  What’s the definition of insanity?  Doing the same thing over and over hoping for different results!    I am an artist.   I will always be an artist.   I can work in a nursery, or in a restaurant, this doesn’t take away who I am.  If anything, it teaches me, gives me lessons, knowledge to take with me on my journey, life’s journey.

I have worked for many years in a career that I loved.   I used my God given talents and was largely rewarded by teaching others to paint,   By painting a picture that came from my mind, through my heart, out my hand onto canvas.  Wow!   I remember the first time I was introduced to decorative painting I saw what was in front of me, what others were doing and I KNEW, I KNEW I could do this!  Well, I did!   I accomplished what it was I KNEW I could do and wanted to do.   This is about me, my own life, my own visions.   Although I do not measure success in dollars, I know what it’s like to have few, and the pressures and energy it takes to live life jumping from one bill to another.    I don’t want to live the rest of my life this way.  As a cancer survivor I’ve been blessed with another chance at life.   In some ways I think it would be beneficial to all to have a diagnosis of a potentially fatal disease…. why?  Because it gifts you, well I should say, it gifted me with perspective.   No, 20 years from now it’s not going to matter that my electricity was shut off, that my bank account was belly up.    What I truly believe is how we give to and help others.    I learned at a young age that to give without strings is to receive.  The feeling that encompasses your mind, body and soul is of peace, warmth, love.  There is no greater gift we can give another than ourselves, of our time.

I’ve lived a purposeful life teaching others to paint.   To help another person get in touch with their creativity, to see the looks on their face when they finish their painting with pride… well, it’s very powerful, rewarding.   I could be in the worst funk possible, go into a room and start teaching, by the end of the class I was whistling and singing.  Seriously!  Teaching has been an experience that I never want to lose, though the subject matter may change.

I have dusted off the cobwebs and busted out of confinement my dreams of past, and dared to dream for the future.  HOPE.   What more could you possibly give another than HOPE?   What are my dreams?  Well, there are materialistic desires, though I will always be careful to not live a materialistic life.  Hey, it would be great to have a car that runs, I hear they have seat warmers and fans now!  Who knew?   It would be great to have a house that I can open the windows to fresh air.   It would be great to not have the constant worry of how to survive, financially.   This has affected me physically and also spiritually.   I have not been at my best nor can I be at my best when my mind is preoccupied with such troubles.

So last week I did something that I only told one person.   I’m not sure it was a good idea (LOL) but this stood for hope, determination.   I dusted off the cobwebs and busted out of confinement, my dreams.   I care not to share them, for the very reason Bob Dylan shared in this interview, but I will share my favorite and most meaningful dream.  I would like to teach painting to cancer victims, to their families as they sit with their loved ones while going thru the long and scary road of treatment.   I would like to give forward, what was given to me when the disease knocked on my door – an ear, a hand, a hug.  Encouragement when I felt like I could go no further.   A smile, laughter through tears which is absolutely my favorite emotion.    I will one day soon, have the time and means to jump on and ride out this dream.   It’s funny, I was reading a decade old magazine in which I was interviewed.    I knew THEN, prior to my own journey through cancer, that this was what I wanted to do.   My own journey only reinforced this vision.    I CAN do this, and I WILL do this.

I have never seen anyone who only does for themselves truly happy.   How could you be?   Until we can grasp the gift of giving, I don’t think we can achieve longevity in happiness, peacefulness.   Selfish acts will pour out gold perhaps, but will that make us happy?  I believe in karma.  I believe that what we put out comes back ten fold.   I’ve been too bogged down with fear, uncertainty, discouragement to pick myself up and jump to a new track!   Sure, material things are nice.  I’m looking forward to driving my new Lexus, it IS going to happen, I’ve made the decision.   It’s about a decision, failure is not an option.  I will not stop until I accomplish what I want to accomplish, very much like what I did in the decorative painting industry.   I wanted to teach others, I have and do.  I wanted to have my artwork in magazines, I have.  I wanted my artwork on the cover of a magazine, I have.   I wanted a website.  I had one!  Decided it wasn’t worth the work!

So, how do I get there?  Where do I sign up?  How do I start?   It all begins with renewed if not the beginning of hope.  I have grabbed onto an opportunity that I KNOW will not only get me there, but have a LOT of fun doing so!   I’m meeting fun, positive, kind people.  I’m sharing seats with others who are realizing their visions, their dreams.   Next is to believe, to envision, to send it out to the Universe or whom or whatever you believe feeds, channels you.   Before I leave this earth, I will know what it feels like to teach cancer patients to paint, to find their creativity through the tubes, the uncertainties, the difficult and reach for and paint their way through the challenges of cancer.

I know this trek will be full of ups and downs.  So has my life been!  So I might as well go through those ups and downs with others who want me to succeed, who will and are helping me to get beyond the ghosts of yesterday and move onto today.  Powerful.  Powerful.  Powerful.

I am psyched, pumped and ready to roll.   I can do this, and if you so desire?  You CAN, too!    I, we can expose our hidden dreams, and come up with a few new.  It’s time!   What have you got to lose?   For me?  A few pounds, wrinkles, age spots AND the constant worry of survival.    Stay tuned!   ♥♥♥