Tag Archives: hope

Sadness

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Today was a challenging day for me.   As fate would have it, I learned that someone I care about is ill, very ill.   Further complicated by a parting of ways between us.  I couldn’t even remember the incident, or exactly what happened, I knew I was upset, but the “final” visit, I have no memory of.    When I learned of this, haphazardly, I felt like I was going to toss my cookies.    It doesn’t sound good, not at all.

I had also been inadvertently told that she had just learned of this last night, and was home from hospital today.  All I could think of is being left alone to think about what she was told.  I had a full list of things to do today, rose early to do them.  The list was set aside two hours upon rising after learning this news.

When you learn something like this, it really doesn’t matter what happened.  I think it’s important for each person to acknowledge and say what they couldn’t say prior.  And that was the case when I walked into her home, her bedroom where she was resting.  I didn’t know how or what I’d find, I just said a prayer for strength and courage and went and sat with her on the bed.  It’s a HUGE bed that she hates.   I wasn’t sure if she was happy to see me or not, but I grabbed her very soft hand and said “I’m sorry”.     She looked away.   “I have something to tell you”, I nodded.   What she shared next was one of the “moments” I hadn’t recalled, and a bit of it came back.    She expressed how hurt she was, and how she didn’t even want to address it or try to fix it with me.  “Friends don’t do that to other friends”.   I said “Your right, they shouldn’t”.

It wasn’t easy hearing how I had hurt her.   And sadly I don’t recall the incident she spoke of, I had thought our estrangement was just a mutual thing after a couple bad experiences.  I said the words that I needed to say, “I’m sorry I hurt you”.

I helped adjust her pillows, asked if there was anything I could do for her.  Asked if she wanted me to leave, “no, I don’t want you to leave”.     Then she shared another incident that hurt her and I guess the look on my face said what I didn’t need to verbalize.   It was nothing I had done, nothing I could do.   She said I’m sorry, I thought you had.

My mom showed up a few minutes later, I guess she knew where to find me.  I had dropped her off to get her car that was being serviced, the second $400 we put into it this month, and just drove away.     I didn’t know if I should go see her.  I wanted to.  But I didn’t want to upset her.  I just didn’t want her sitting alone with this news.   What happened between us didn’t matter, was unimportant.

She was very tired, and apologetically needed to give in to sleep.  We said our goodbyes.   I held her hand before I left and told her I would be in touch, and that she could call me if she wanted or needed something.   She thanked us for coming and said “Donna, I’m really glad you came”.    As I walked out, drove home, I felt numb.   But numbness isn’t really the word for it, if it hurts, its not numb, right?

This is a person who I had spent many hours with, driving around back roads, in my home, or hers.  She’s almost 20 years older than me,  I’ve always tended to have older friends.   We have shared with each other things we’ve never shared with another.   We were good, close friends.   I was frustrated with her about a few things that need not be shared.  I was even angry at one point.    It wasn’t until she had brought up what she needed to say that I vaguely remembered it.

I thought about the couple things that I had remembered, that annoyed me.   And I questioned, was she sick then?  Is that why she forgot to do what she promised to do?    And at that very moment I was reminded AGAIN, how important it is that we be kind to others.  We know not what will eventually unveil itself.   It never occurred to me that she was sick when this broken promise happened.   I felt like shit, for a few minutes.  I allowed myself to feel bad about that, but then I had to forgive myself.  I didn’t know.  And it wasn’t that I was unkind to her, although her words said it was a look I gave her.

We think we have all the time in the world to make amends, forgive, or fix things.   We don’t.   This was a blatant reminder for me of the things I take for granted.  And I’m a pretty grateful person.    But I guess I had more to learn.

So, I decided I needed to go to bed, and I opened my bedroom windows.  We are being plummeted with rain.  Rumors are there was a tornado 40 miles from us.   I laid in bed, realizing, I needed to write about this.   It’s all consuming.    And now I’ll go crawl back into bed and listen to the rain fall, and think of what perfect weather it is for this day.   It should be a dismal, damp, wet night both inside and outside of my home.     Because today was a hard day, and I’m very saddened by what I have learned.

That’s all I need to say.  The rest I will wrestle with myself.    If there’s someone you care about and are at odds with, rethink it.   Is it really that important?  Do you have both sides?  Is the silence worth the loss of time?    Only you can answer that.

Grateful I went to see her.   If you want to say a prayer for her, I’m sure she would appreciate it.     Goodnight.

 

Artistic growth

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As I continue with the art challenge to post pictures of my artwork for 6 days on my facebook page, I am having an internal conversation with self.

I look at the scenes and see how much I’ve grown as an artist, and always, as a woman.   I have been trying to find my very first painting to post, alongside my last.   I think what I need to do, for my own sake, is to repaint an earlier piece.

I know it’s important that I honor every part of my journey.   I am mostly self taught, with a few classes with awesome teachers.  I’m now looking to take some classes on painting animals, because I’m enjoying it very much.  The roosters I’ve been painting have come easy for me, but when you add the body, the sprawling and presence of many beautiful feathers, I become perplexed and sometimes, overwhelmed.  But I know I can do it, I can learn this.  I know i will.

Most of my earlier Santa’s have taken on a provocative look.   I will share this lightly.   Most of my Santa’s noses ended up looking like male genitalia.   My students and I would laugh over it, and many comical, highly amusing stories have come from my earlier work.   Perhaps now I can paint noses as I’d have to reach deep into my long term memory to paint male genitalia!   I say that laughing, laughing more, and laughing loudly.

Just like our growth as a person, an artist has to start somewhere.    The ideas and things that I have in my head that I’ve yet to put to canvas are so different from my paintings of past.  But that’s because I’ve changed, we all change.   I’m not the same person I was when I designed and painted prior.   I see things differently, and my colors and interests have evolved.   Honor the process, Donna, honor the process.

God speed to you and yours

Reviewing processes

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The past few weeks I’ve been reflecting and dissecting what I would like to do with the rest of my life.  What do I like?  What don’t I like?  What are my dreams?  Are they feasible?  What are my needs?   I’ve also been writing up a business plan for myself, which in itself has been a very interesting journey.  I’ve changed it three times.

I’ve also participated for two days (another four to go) in an art challenge to post pics of my art on my facebook page for six days.  This, too, has been an interesting process.   I’m reviewing photos that I have, which aren’t exactly organized like someone dominantly left brained would do, but I’m only 25% there, so I’m giving myself a break!

4-5 years ago my life came to a crashing halt.  I couldn’t get out of bed, I didn’t want to paint, write, and was incapable of making any decisions for myself.   Fortunately my strong mother jumped in and helped, and after hospitalization for two weeks, I was diagnosed with Major Clinical Depression.  This was not the first time, but the fourth.  I must say to you, it’s been hell trying to come back from it.

Why do I mention such a personal thing?  Because I’m an idiot!   🙂   Most people do not confess such, because of the stigma attached to mental illness.  I want others to know who are suffering with such, it’s okay, you’re not a freak, you aren’t crazy, you are sick, and encourage you to get help.  For me it meant some serious psychological drugs, many therapy sessions, a lot of writing, a lot more of praying.  It is still a monkey on my back, but I am learning, everyday to replace the negative talk in my head.  Some days I’m successful with this, some days not.

Back to the art challenge, as I’m surfing through pages of photos of my artwork, which also have pics of other aspects of my life, love, marriage, breast cancer, family, friends, pets, artwork, gardens, etc… I must say, I feel good about things that I have accomplished in my life.  In spite of the crap that came rolling into it, I’m still standing, and there are days, still, too many, that it’s very hard for me to get out of bed and face the day.   But it was nice to see things I’ve done, the magazines my artwork and needlecraft designs were in, interviews with me as a visual artist, and a fiber artist.  I even had artwork on the cover of magazines I think twice.  How quickly these accomplishments fall by the way side when you’re looking at it through the dark eyes of depression.

So, I’m feeling a bit chipper tonight, painted a little bit today.  Plan to spend a few hours tomorrow doing the same.   We are supposedly having an arctic cold blast this weekend.  I’ve stocked up on the necessities, my mom is here visiting for the weekend.  If I don’t kill her, by the time Monday comes around I should be in good shape! 🙂

The message today is… Hang on.   Hang strong.   Celebrate the good days, and do all you can to survive the bad.   It may be worth your while to dive into some pictures yourself.

Sending you peace and love

 

 

 

Alas, direction

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Tonight I am flying high.  No, not on sugar, though I do have it running in my veins, but because what seemed to be a very long, much anticipated and grueling time that I have been “in waiting” for direction has finally arrived.     And comically, or rather ironically, I really don’t know the logistics or to what is going to unveil itself to me, but I can tell you, when the spirit hit, a couple weeks ago, I forced myself to walk in faith.  To just keep doing what I believe I was “supposed” to do.

Like negative space in a drawing, painting, or room, waiting for direction is anything but comfortable (unless you are privy in past to “wait for it”).  But I’ve lived long enough to know in order to have peace we have to find comfort in the uncomfortable, and those things that come after the longest time, and that time feeling like purgatory (No, I’m not catholic, but my mother was raised in this religion, I also pay attention to those people that are the happiest, the most peaceful, serene, and I listen to what is beautiful in their life), so when a break comes, a ray of light, or hope really, it is so incredibly wonderful.

In youth I was quick to jump, to “find” whatever it was I thought I was supposed to experience.  Maturity has taught me, nothing worth having comes easy.  Nothing.  And if it looks too good to be true?  It probably is!

So tonight I have five paintings started.  A still life, floral (2), a rooster, and  for the life of me I can’t remember what the fifth one is.  All started this evening when I got home from a day that felt purposeful, important, helping others, others who weren’t practicing the kind of drama that belongs on a stage (or in a helium balloon that floats fastly and quickly away), but real life, illnesses, frustration, and just needing a fresh advocate come in and help.  It feels so good to me to help others.   My last therapist wrongfully suggested the reason why I help others is because I get “kudos”.  I looked straight at her, without hesitation and said “If you believe this to be true?  You have never given to another from the goodness or your heart, and RECEIVED the loving touch of God blessing you.  I feel it.  I don’t seek for permission, admiration, or for others to pump up a broken soul.  I am not broken, I am not in need of friends, and I am certainly not in need to be validated as worthy.  I learned from the age of 10 or so that to give is to receive.   It’s one of my most cherished gifts in life.  And to fully understand this, give without the other person, or recipients KNOW you are doing it, and tell nobody, not.a.soul!

Of course, as with anything, there are extremes, and there are takers out there that will rob your heart from the generosity that we’re meant to feel, to do, to be.   That’s where lives lessons kind of kick you in the teeth.   Oh how I know this place, and I have no desire to return there, but I will.   That old familiar feeling of caring or giving too much to another will shadow a day, or two, but I’ll jump back in and try it all over again.  Just not necessarily with the same person, but sometimes, YES, the same person.

So, I really need to get to bed, but I don’t want to put the brush down.  It’s flowing, and creativity is at my optimum.  It’s a wonderful, wonderful, place to be.  So grateful I struggled so long in purgatory!   Because even if I wake up tomorrow and the creativity has fizzled, tonight?  What I’m feeling tonight?  Was worth the wait.  Keep in mind, I don’t know what’s ahead of me, I don’t know ANY details, I was just given a direction.   It’s exciting that something I once thought was so insignificant can and does bring me so much joy!

 

May peace be with you, and may you bask in the glory of “knowing” which road or path to take.  Love to you!

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