Now there is math…

3 years ago, it was a Tuesday (& not just a random Tuesday)… my life was changing. I was getting ready to have lumpectomy surgery the next day. My thoughts were consumed with cancer treatment and recovery (& bills and how to manage time off from work). I remember thinking that I would always feel the impact of cancer, but also wanting to fight it & get rid of it. I remember certain strange things and not others. Now, I have to do math to remember how long it’s been. Someday, it will be 10 years ago, then 20. The date of the surgery is easy to remember because it’s my sister’s birthday. I’m pretty sure she used her birthday wish on me that year (thanks, Marla!)

I know I have written about it each year, but in case you don’t feel like going back through my blog posts and CaringBridge sites, I’ll give you some highlights. My surgery was early on a Wednesday morning. I wore my pink fuzzy pajama top with buttons & brought my pink boxing gloves and my biggest cheerleader (my husband). He wore his camel T-shirt that said “Hump Day.” It made several people laugh & some people roll their eyes. I remember having to have the wire guided procedure with not enough pain killer. I remember laughing so hard with Cameron in the waiting room that I thought we’d get kicked out. I remember the long ride to the surgery room & how cold it was in there. I remember waking up groggy, bandaged and with a dry mouth. I remember puking in the elevator. I remember seeing Cam and my sister, Marie. (Since she’s a nurse, she gets to come along & interpret medical stuff for most of us. Plus she’s a prayer warrior & generally an awesome person.) I remember telling Cam that I wanted to “bust out of the hospital,” which made him laugh – given the recent surgery. 😉 After keeping some crackers down and proving I could pee on my own, I was released.

No driving for a week, drink lots of water, check the two surgery sites, keep ahead of the pain… I remember those directions. I think I mainly used Advil & Tylenol because I’m not a fan of painkillers. It felt like the world around me was going fast and I was in slow motion. My boys were 12 & 8. Sometimes I forget how hard that must have been on them… how scary to have your mom go through cancer when you’re that young. I tried to be extra tough for them, so they would know that I was going to be OK. Sometimes I forget how hard it was on my husband, my sisters, my parents… there isn’t much they could do to make me better. But they were there for me and supported me.

I met with a breast cancer survivor shortly after I was done with radiation. She told me that eventually, you won’t think about it every day. Eventually normal will return. She was right. Now I have to do math to remember how long it’s been. I’m beyond thankful for all I’ve learned over the last 3 years. I’m thankful for feeling the power of prayer. I’m thankful for my voice – to be my own advocate for my health. I’m thankful for this journey, because through it all, I’m learning that I am enough. Just as I am. Always. You are too!

You never know what will stick…

9 years ago, my nephew (& husband) took my oldest son ice fishing. Cameron was convinced that if Dallas was out in the cold, not catching fish, that the experience would make him not want to ice fish again & he’d be off the hook (so to speak) for future requests. But that’s not what happened. Within minutes of their ice fishing expedition, Dallas caught a Northern almost as big as he was (he was 5yrs old). The smile on his face says it all. He was hooked!! He told me that it must be a world record. To him, it was. He has loved fishing of all kinds and has spent many hours in ice houses over the past year.

You never know what will “stick”… what things your kids will end up loving. They don’t come with a manual or instruction guide. You both learn as you go. Each kid is different. Just because one loves something doesn’t mean the other will. Dallas loves fishing but Myles only likes it if he’s catching. Dallas would sit in a boat or an ice house for hours on end (and has) & Myles would rather play in the snow or sand, play with sticks or hunt for frogs. Myles even made his own “pole” out of a stick, some line and a hook and called it The Fish Stick. He actually caught fish with it more than once.

I’m certainly not an expert in children, but I think it’s important to give them a variety of experiences to see what sticks. They won’t know what they love if they don’t get to try a bunch of things. Myles recently started guitar lessons. He’s not really into sports, partially because he’s just not competitive. He loves guitar. The smile on his face when he learned to play was like Dallas catching his big Northern. He loves to draw and create things. Dallas is into all things outdoors and hunting. If he said he was going to live in a cabin in the woods when he grows up, I wouldn’t be surprised at all.

As adults, we aren’t too old to try something new either. Maybe it’s a painting class or archery or yoga or snowshoeing… you might just find your new favorite thing. It’s easy for us to get stuck in a rut… to repeat our days because it’s comfortable & safe. But, what if you tried something new (food or activity). You might just find something that sticks, or you might open up ideas for someone else. So, I challenge you to try something new or expose your kids to something new. Peace be with you on your journey of enough & I hope you find your new favorite thing!

Do you look for it?

This picture was taken last weekend. My youngest son and I were sitting in a blue pop up ice house on a frozen lake in MN. It had “warmed up” so it was above zero. Our 4 ice holes had only produced one small fish. My husband and oldest son were outside fishing in the fresh air. I looked down and saw this. It’s an ice bubble but looks like a heart to me. Plain as day. A heart. I’ve never seen one like this before. My youngest son asked why I was taking a picture & I showed him. He had one by him also. While the winter wind blew outside, our small heater was keeping the chill off. And we both found hearts.

Do you ever look for signs? I bet if you do, you find them. Do you look for feathers or pennies or eagles? If you do, I bet you see/find a lot of them. We have to be open to it. Open to the magic, the miracles, the unexplainable. Similarly, if you look for good, you will find it. If you look for the bad, you will also find that. If you listen to the news all the time, the world may seem like a bad, scary place. If you spend more time looking outside, enjoying nature or visiting with someone, I bet you will think it’s not all that bad.

I’m not 100% sure what our heart messages were. I think for me it was a reminder to have a softer heart, more patience and forgiveness. To breathe, to slow down, to share the love. Cheesy? Maybe. But I’m going to choose to look for the good. Some days it’s hard to do. The other morning I was walking in to work thinking about how cold it was. I found myself being negative & stopped. I started listing off all of the things I can be grateful for.

  1. It’s way warmer than Saturday was
  2. I’m walking(we take this one for granted a lot)
  3. I got to drive my son to school and visit with him
  4. I like my job
  5. We’ve remained healthy

The list could have gone on but you get the idea. There is a constant dialogue in my head. One of my goals this year is to be more intentional with making sure it’s a positive one. I wish you peace on your journey of enough. I hope you choose to look for the good. I’m betting that you will find it.

I thought of Mr.Rogers …

You might have seen the story online about Mr. Rogers. He said whenever something scary was going on, his mom would tell him to “Always look for the helpers.” It takes the focus off the bad and onto the doctors, nurses, firefighters, police, neighbors, volunteers etc. Focus on the good.

We were in the middle of that on a Tuesday & I thought of Mr. Rogers. We had gone to Dallas’ last Cross Country meet in St.Cloud. It was a beautiful MN fall day… sun shining, pretty trees, slight breeze. He ran his fastest race yet. It was exciting to see. After he ran, we left him with the team to watch the other groups run & ride the bus home. We went on a bit of a road trip to look at a mower. Cam had found it online and it worked out that if we left after the run, we’d make it up to see the mower after the guy was done with work. It was an uneventful road trip. We met him at his place of work and followed him home. Cameron tested the mower and decided it was a good deal. I had just handed the guy the cash, when he tripped. He didn’t get up & looked like he might be having a seizure. A neighbor lady “just happened” to be walking by. She ran up to check on him and identified herself as a first responder. While she called 911, she handed me her keys and told me to get all of the medical stuff out of her black vehicle. Myles and I ran down the street trying to find her vehicle. While we were searching, another neighbor came home from her shift as a nurse. She jumped in to help with CPR. We finally realized that her car was inside the garage (not outside) and found the AED and other supplies. When we raced back to the scene, the guy was blue. The police had arrived and one of the officers was a paramedic. The ambulance came and brought more equipment to get his heart started. It was chaos and organization… all spinning so fast but going in slow motion. I put my arm around the first responder’s granddaughter & made sure she was turned away from the scene. Myles was in our truck. Several times the man’s heart was shocked. Check the pulse, check the pupils etc. They brought him back and got him stable enough to transport.

A man died and was revived right before us. This was pretty shocking for everyone. After we got home, I told Myles that it must not have been the man’s time to go. He had a lot of people working to help him. Look at all of the helpers: The first responder who was in the right place at the right time, the nurse who got home from her shift at the right time, the police, the ambulance crew and us. Although I don’t feel like we did much, we were there. He likely would have had this happen regardless if we were there or not.

A couple of months have passed. Myles was quite shaken for a while after the experience. I think we all were. I thought of that again today when I saw a trailer house fire on the way to work. I looked at all of the vehicles there to help… police, ambulance, fire trucks etc. I looked for the helpers. They help people continue their journey, either in this life or the next. Peace be with you today on your journey of enough.

I’m sorry but we’re breaking up…

It’s New Year’s Eve, but we’re breaking up. Me and Fear. I’ve decided I’m done with Fear. It is no longer needed in my life. Oh sure, I will still be appropriately fearful of dangerous things… but it’s not going to rule my life. No longer will I fear a breast cancer re-occurrence. I’m done with it. Please don’t fear it for me either. It’s not healthy. It does neither of us any good.

I’m debating whether or not I will keep my pink ribbon shoes (pictured above). I don’t necessarily want to forget my previous cancer. Perhaps I will wear them as a reminder of what I’ve overcome instead of a reminder of what might return. That seems more healthy.

It’s the time of year when lots of people come up with resolutions. I admit that I’ve had the whole “weight loss resolution” more than once. This year, I’m resolving to experience life. I going to try to be more present. I’m going to try things I haven’t done before (winter camping is the first thing on the list.) I’m going to set fear aside and live my best life.

I hope you can do the same. Whatever thing your Fear is tied to, let it go. Hand it over to God or the universe or whatever you believe. Make 2018 be your best year in your journey of enough. Peace be with you in the new year. Thanks for being with me on my journey!