Source: Tradition & perspective
This time of year makes me think of pumpkin pie and Black Friday shopping. For many years, we’ve had a pretty traditional Thanksgiving…traditional in my world. Sometimes we forget that not everyone does things the same way. While big meals with family & some crazy Black Friday shopping is traditional for me, I realize it’s not for everyone. Not everyone can do that or wants to. Not everyone has family to be with or the means to have a big meal. The long holiday break isn’t always a fun time. If you don’t have a loving family to be with or if you have to worry about eating at all, let alone a big meal, then this long weekend might be one of dread. I never realized that until my husband started working at the school. It has given me a whole new perspective & changed my idea of what to be thankful for. Add on a cancer diagnosis, battle and “win” & it certainly changed my ideas of thankfulness.
We become aware of these things to be thankful for when they are challenged or taken away. I guarantee I wasn’t thankful to be able to walk until I broke my foot. I wasn’t thankful to be able to open a door until I was healing from surgery & radiation and such a simple task was painful. I wasn’t thankful enough for my husband until a friend of our lost hers in an accident. Perspectives change as our lives and experiences change.
I’d rather spend time than money. I’d rather avoid negativity than feed on it. I’d rather challenge myself than assume this is “as good as it gets”. So I will embrace new adventures & a break in tradition. I will spend Thanksgiving in an untraditional way for me, but amazing just the same. I’ll be surrounded by family & a few thousand other people. Instead of turkey from the oven, I’ll have turkey legs & pumpkin fudge in a theme park. And I will try to soak up all of the love I can, because there will be a lot. And there will be a lot to be thankful for. I’m beyond blessed with people who love me and people for me to love back. It’s all about perspective & I’ll choose the rose colored glasses version. It’s hard to believe that I want even aware of the cancer inside of me a year ago. So this year I will celebrate “I kicked cancer” in a big way & with lots of love. Cancer sucks is on our tshirts & we are having a blast!!
I’m not talking about my height, although I could be. At 5’2″, I come up with some creative ways of reaching the top shelf in my kitchen. It usually involves a really long BBQ tongs. My blog post though is based on the very common “life is too short” statement. This is usually one of the first things that people say when some tragic life event has happened. It is a trigger to remind us that our time here on Earth is small. “Someday” will never come – there won’t be a better time than now.
“If only I lost 20lbs”… then life would be better. What if your 20lb loss comes as a result of an illness or a stressful situation? – does that still make it great? If you are hoping for a new car, but that comes about as a result of your current car dying and needs to be replaced, then is it as exciting? When we ask repeatedly for something, it may not come in the manner that we had in mind.
Our prayers don’t come with disclaimers. Our youngest son was in the NICU shortly after he was born. It was a rough pregnancy, and he stopped breathing less than 24 hrs after he was born. He was rushed to the NICU, and was blue on more than one occasion. He had a ton of tests done. We prayed a lot. We prayed for strength for him. We prayed for him to fight to live. Luckily, he was able to come home after a couple of weeks. We never knew why he stopped breathing, but it hasn’t happened since. He’s 9 now. He has a strong personality and can be stubborn at times. Many times we’ve said “when we prayed for him to be tough, we didn’t know it would last this long”.
We rarely know our fate or how long we have. I am guilty of trying to plan way ahead. I guess I just assumed I would live to be 95 like my grandma. While I haven’t lived the last year like I was dying, it has certainly made me more aware of my mortality. Life really is too short. Take the trip, live your dreams, hug your family, forgive your neighbor & love more. Peace be with you on your journey of enough.
Source: Friday the 13th
Superstitious or not, it seems there is always something strange happening on Friday the 13th. Kind of like a full moon – people just seem “off” on those days. Today is one of those Friday the 13th’s. So to steer my thinking over to half full instead of half empty, every time I get frustrated, I try to think of something to be thankful for. So far today, I’ve been thankful that I can walk (previous broken foot make this one relevant). I’ve been thankful that I have a job – although it’s a stressful day, I am thankful that I have a job that allows me to support my family. I’ve been thankful for the sunshine at lunch time. It’s amazing to me what a nice sunny day can do to lift your spirits. I’ve been thankful for my muscle aches – it’s a reminder that I went to Livestrong last night and am working to be more fit. The more we shift our thoughts to a positive mindset, the more positive things will seem. I’ve had uplifting music on Pandora today, and I think that background message of hope is a good way to steer me towards the positive.
It’s easy to get caught up in negativity. Just watch CNN for a few hrs – wow. You’d think things are going to end tomorrow. I don’t want to ignore that bad things happen, but I also don’t want to dwell on them. Who wants to be around someone who is always complaining? Don’t get me wrong, I still vent – but I try to be brief (yet sometimes animated). I try not to dwell on the negative and let it ruin my day. Are there days that the concept of that seems very difficult? Yes, of course – it’s not like I have superpowers or something.
In the spirit of Thanksgiving and less in the spirit of Friday the 13th, I challenge you to start a gratitude journal. Try to go for 30 days and write down something new that you are thankful for each day. The first few days may be pretty easy. I recently did this for almost 50 days. It causes you to notice and remember what you are thankful for each day. Perhaps it will seem less like a Friday the 13th and more like a day of Thanksgiving. Peace be with you on your journey of “enough”.
Craft item from our 9 year old. I didn’t suggest this or make him do it. He picked it out, painted it, and wrote out the words (he just asked for help spelling). The term “survivor” is used a lot for people who beat cancer. But imagine that you are 8 or 9, and this is your MOM dealing with cancer. Imagine hearing the word “survivor” & thinking…. the opposite of survive is death. Whoa. I bet not many people think of it that way. It makes the word survivor seem even scarier. I’m not sure I can think of an alternate name though. Cancer beater or cancer kicker doesn’t have the same ring to it. I asked the boys if they could come up with a different name, but they didn’t have one. I think “mom” is my favorite name anyway.
Apparently, my comfort zone is undergoing a rezoning. I’ve been stretched outside of it a lot in the last year – even before my cancer diagnosis. I started to do a few of those “things I’ve never done before” after I turned 40. Not nearly a mid-life crisis – I didn’t do anything super wild. No fancy cars or lavish things. I changed jobs. I went to a painting class by myself. I went skiing (which I had done before but it was many years ago so to me it was new). I wish I had made a list, but you get the idea. The fact that I didn’t make a list will shock some people who know me well. I inherited this from my dad.
Anyway, the breast cancer diagnosis was something that I didn’t think I was prepared for, but many things leading up to it did prepare me. When I look back at it, the fact that I started to do some things I had never done before was preparing me for a whole new level of “things I’ve never done before”. My brother-in-law’s farm accident & miraculous recovery raised my faith in God and the power of prayer. It showed me the importance of family, and of being there for each other. Previous anxiety issues prepared me for dealing with a diagnosis that I had never planned for. That’s the difference – my plans are not always the same as God’s plan. Those things that were frustrating or appeared to be road blocks at times, are his way of preparing us for things to come. I wouldn’t wish some of this stuff on anyone, but I wish everyone could come to these conclusions without something drastic happening.
Asking for help with our medical bills was outside my comfort zone. Being interviewed for a news story was outside of my comfort zone. Feeling like an advocate for breast cancer awareness was outside of my comfort zone. Attending the “Embrace” Cancer Survivor retreat alone was out of my comfort zone. Signing up for the Livestrong program was outside of my comfort zone. So when a friend of ours emailed me and suggested me as a person to interview on Tuesday’s live show for WDAY, I wasn’t really surprised because my comfort zone keeps getting stretched. It’s the anniversary of the Roger Maris Cancer Center and they want to talk to someone who has gone through it. He thought of me. It may not seem like it, but I shy away from being the center of attention. I don’t have an overwhelming sense of self confidence. In fact, writing the blog in general was a huge leap for me. I felt narcissistic – why would people want to read what I’m rambling about? But then I realized I was telling myself things that I would never say to someone else. It’s really hard to be nice to yourself. We are our own worst critics. I’m trying to change that, by baby steps, but still trying. So, tomorrow morning between 6:15 and 7am, you may see me on WDAY’s live show. Whatever comes of it, I hope it’s enough.
Aside from the negative press that Lance Armstrong received when he was found guilty of ‘doping’ in bike racing, he did start a good program – Livestrong. There is a local Livestrong program in Fargo, ND at the YMCA. Another cancer survivor mentioned it to me and said that I really must go. So, I signed up for the 12 week class. It works on strength, endurance and getting back some of what might have gotten lost along the cancer journey. I had my first class on Tuesday. I had no idea what to expect. There were 12 cancer survivors, 12 ‘support people’- loved ones of the survivors and 3 trainers. They did a baseline assessment to see where we are at as far as strength, flexibility, balance and endurance. Then they will group us based on our results.
This was another one of those “out of my comfort zone” moments. It’s a group of people who I hadn’t met before – would I feel like I’m enough? Good enough, nice enough, strong enough, friendly enough etc. You know what? It doesn’t matter. It only matters that I am going. I am trying to be more fit, and that makes me enough. If we don’t stretch ourselves to go outside of our comfort zone, we will miss out on so much in life. Many of those things that end up being amazing come out of those places we didn’t think we’d go. It turns out that one of the ladies who was at my table for the Embrace seminar is also in this class. One of the trainers is running friends with my husband. It really is a small world, you just need to talk to people to learn that. So, for today I will still push myself to be better but I will also try to be enough.
After being diagnosed with breast cancer, having surgery, radiation, breaking my foot and having a hysterectomy, I felt the need to continue writing. The journaling through CaringBridge was very therapeutic to me and helpful to my family. It was a great place to keep people informed of my health status and updates. Now that I am moving beyond the active treatment phase, I am hoping that my continued positive attitude and insights can be helpful in some way. My blog name of “Positively Hopeful” was already taken, so with the help of others, I came up with “Journey of Enough”. While my cancer journey was one part of my life, it’s only one part. We are all on a journey of some kind and I’m guessing we’ve all felt ‘not quite enough’ at times. Not good enough, smart enough, tall enough, thin enough, fit enough, kind enough – you get the idea. We sell ourselves short in a lot of ways (no pun intended – I’m only 5’2″ so I am short). We sell ourselves short in the fact that we don’t give ourselves credit for the good that we do. We don’t allow ourselves to be less than perfect, and in some ways that can be very damaging. Let’s change that. Let’s love where we are and encourage others along the way.
Follow me on my journey of enough.