Friday, December 30, 2011

The Good News

Today I had my fist surgical follow up appointment. I went there with high hopes of having some of the extra bits left over from my surgery removed but that didn't happen. I have to keep my 'Christmas ornaments' in until next week and the staples will be with me for a couple more weeks.

I was disappointed and a little annoyed until I got the good news; news that brought hope, peace and joy to my soul. I can return to my Precious next Monday! Since everything is healing so well I can go back on the caffeine a week earlier than expected. Yay!

I am trying to celebrate this because I`ve been a little bit of a miserable patient these last couple of days. I am restless and tired. I hate not being able to move properly and having foreign objects hanging out of me is gross and gives me the heebeegeebees. I am bored of being a patient ... I want desperately to return to my ninja ways.

In the meantime, I am trying to remind myself that its only been two weeks since my surgery and if taking these two weeks to heal gives me the next 50 years to live well its worth it. I am trying to be grateful for how little pain I am in and how well the surgery went. I am reminding myself to celebrate the fact that the tumor has been removed and all the things to come are to ensure my continued good health.

I am trying to live in the Good News and let everything else `come to pass.` I am trying and hoping ... and dreaming of The Precious.

No one can understand the truth until he drinks of coffee's frothy goodness. ~Sheik Abd-al-Kadir

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Life ... It Goes On

Before my surgery I was really worried about what life after the surgery was going to be like. I was concerned that the pain and discomfort would make it difficult for me to be me. I was afraid that everything would become about The Surgery and I would lose the magic of Christmas because of the reality of my life right now.

I am happy to report that life goes on.

Although I have little to no memory of the hours after my surgery Mr. Awesome reports that I was cracking jokes and teasing him as usual. What I do remember is visits with friends and family, sharing laughter, stories and a little good natured teasing. I remember the wonderful staff at the hospital (GH5 staff is stellar!) and the respect and compassion they had while caring for me. I remember the reassuring smiles of my doctors as they checked on my progress several times a day. I remember feeling peace.

Since breaking out of the hospital my days have been filled with everything Christmasy and my nights have been spent curled up my dad's recliner in front of the Christmas Tree, with Mr. Awesome asleep on the couch beside me, feeling thankful for this life, this love and this family.

I have been feeling so good that the day after I was released from the hospital, Christmas Eve, I went to church with my family. It was quite the production getting me ready to go out and loading me in to the van but we did it. On the way to church I started to laugh uncontrollably. I'm sure Mr. Awesome thought I had lost my mind so I explained what was going in my Random mind,

"I have a two foot incision across my stomach that is being held together with 70 plus staples, my lower abdomen is now my right boob, I have four feet of silicon tubes hanging out of my body and my arm feels like there's a dead fish inside of it ... all this is going on and I am worried about the zit on my chin!"

Life ... it does go on ... just as crazy and random as ever!

Life is what we make it, always has been, always will be. ~Grandma Moses

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Living on Gratitude

I have a lot to be thankful for. I am here. Alive. In this moment. I am sitting in a comfortable chair, in my parents house surrounded by my Random family. I no longer have a cancerous tumor growing in my breast. I am very thankful.

I have three strong and healthy kids. I have a handsome, inquisitive, brilliant boy. He has a kind and compassionate heart, a brain hungry for information and a smile that will melt your heart. A have beautiful, witty daughter. She is full of grace, laughter and light and her creativity is endless. A have another amazing, sensitive and brave boy. He is all action and love and humor and his laugh is contagious.

I have a husband who loves me more than I can bear. He is funny, sensitive, compassionate and the definition of a servant-leader. He has gone to the edge of the world and back for me this week and every day of our life together. He is everything that is good and fine and wonderful in my world.

I have a family that is huge and generous and loving. They have stepped up and filled in in ways I never could have imagined. They are meeting needs that have never been spoken and offering help before its asked for. They have covered me in encouragement, love and joy.

I have friends who have redefined the meaning of friendship. They have blessed us in more ways than I can count with their generosity and affection. They have made us laugh til we cry, wiped away our tears and wrapped us in boundless support and hope.

This Christmas, more than eve, I am sustained by friendship and kindness and living on overflowing gratitude for this life I get to lead and for those who are right there with me ... every step of the way!

Wishing you the Merriest of Christmases!

Gratitude is the memory of the heart.  ~Jean Baptiste Massieu

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Best if Intentions ...

That's what I had, the best of intentions.

I had planned on writing blogs and setting them to automatically post during my hospital stay but that's just not going to happen. I wrote notes, jotted down ideas and really intended on leaving you with a few witty, seasonal words while I recovered but today is Sunday and tomorrow is my surgery and here I am up to my eyeballs in laundry, lists and Christmas presents. The kids have their church concert tonight, my cousin is here to help out while I'm in hospital and my head is all over the place; not exactly ideal writing conditions.

So this is all you get folks, a quick note to say thanks for your support and encouragement and have a wonderful Christmas with your friends and family!


Be sure to check back periodically over the holidays ... I hope to be able to post a little something on the 24th, 27 and 30th. I'll be back at the keyboard (fingers crossed) by January 9 ... if not sooner!

Take care!

One of the most glorious messes in the world is the mess created in the living room on Christmas day. Don't clean it up too quickly. ~Andy Rooney

Friday, December 16, 2011

Normal?

The other night, while I was knee deep in Mod Podge, fabric strips and scrapbooking paper Mr. Awesome walked into my craft room (the storage room under our basement stairs) and asked me this,

"Are you worried that this is our last week of normal for a long time?"

I looked up to see if he was joking. Normal?

We have a kid who literally climbs the wall, another one from the Planet Vulcan and living with the third is like riding an emotional roller coaster at break neck speeds, even our dog is slightly mental. I say that I'm a writer but the truth is I am a cook, housekeeper, chauffeur, event planner, errand runner and volunteer who gets to write occasionally. Our house is in a constant state of chaos and I am always on guard for the next emergency because just when I think I have everything under control someone wigs out and we are back, living in Crazyland.

So, normal?

"Yeah, kind of," I reply because I know what he means.

This craziness is our normal. Managing the kids schedules, my aspirations, Asperger's, PDD-NOS, ADHD, a chronic thumb-sucker while juggling family responsibilities and expectations is normal ... for us. We thrive on the busyness that Our Five has created and knowing that in less than a week a lot of that has to change is a little sad.

I've been slowly adjusting to a reduced schedule, less projects and volunteer hours, no school meetings and minimal extracurricular comments, but knowing that it all has to stop, full stop in just a few days is irritating. I love being busy, helping out and being involved; I don't like to be a spectator for anything. I'm a hands-on kind of gal. Not anymore. Not for now.

The surgical nurse called the other day to go over a few pre-op things and to see how I was coping with everything. I told her that the surgery doesn't scare me but I am really annoyed by the limitations of the recovery. She laughed a little and said,

"I knew you were going to be trouble! You need to wrap your head around a New Normal. This, the cancer and the surgery, is tough and no one chooses to go through this, but you have to understand that by being a good patient now you will return to your Regular Normal sooner. This New Normal is only for a short time; you won't be able to do everything and be everywhere for now and that's Normal. Just be patient and you'll get your life back."

What does she know, she's just a nurse! And then my pastor said the same thing. And so did his wife. And so did my friends. And then my mom chimed in. As did my aunt, my sister and my cousin. Then the principal and Dude's teachers and finally, daily, Mr. Awesome reminds me to take it easy.

So its a New Normal ... still with the same old wall-climbing-alien-emotional children and mental dog ... the new part is going to be, has to be, me; my contentment to live from the sidelines ... just for a little while. I will be a chaise lounge chair quarterback (no recliners here!).

Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional. ~M. Kathleen Casey

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Moments of Clarity from Inside the Doughnut

In preparation for my upcoming surgery I have had a lot of doctor's appointments and tests lately. I have been poked, scanned and measured in more ways than I ever thought possible. All of these scans require me to be still, immobile for long periods of time.

When I went to the first scan the technician asked me if I was claustrophobic and I answered 'no' but I didn't realize until a couple of minutes into the 45 minute scan that I have a different kind of phobia. I am Immobilephobic. Seriously. As soon as she told me not to move, I panicked; not a all out melt down just a slight mental struggle to hold on to my sanity.

Anyway, I survived that scan and later in the week when I had another, similar scan, I was better prepared. As I laid on the bed, injected with two types of radio active dye and with electrodes stuck all over my chest I began to think about life. And there, inside the doughnut, the CT machine whirring and humming, I had a moment of clarity about my life.

I'm not going to get into all the nitty gritty details of the epiphany I had but I will tell you these two things; when you are forced to be still and choose to see yourself you may be surprised by the truth and you don't need to be anything other than who you really, truly are.

This past year, living away from everything and everyone familiar to me, has been an incredible year of personal growth. I am still becoming the person I want to be and I am giving myself permission to keep growing, changing and being that person. For a long time I let other people's opinions, expectations and limitations frame who I was. Not any more. Not for a while now. I am me and there's something kind of fantastic about that.

Here's the deal ... you are spectacular ... just the way you are. Celebrate that. And if you are really brave, find a quite space, be perfectly still and think about you, who you are, the life you are leading. See yourself. Become the person you have always dreamed of being.

People often say that this or that person has not yet found himself.  But the self is not something one finds, it is something one creates.  ~Thomas Szasz

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Be the Bean

My mental powers are diminished. I have weaned myself from the coffeejuice but my brain is suffering for it. Well, I can't blame my Molasses Mind completely on the lack of caffeine. I've also been sitting in a small room with a large jar of Mod Podge for several days. 'Tis the season to kill brain cells with crafting products!

At any rate, I am in no state of mind to write anything deep or meaningful; I am, however, really enjoying the slew of Christmas videos I've been watching while crafting. I have watched Miracle on 34th Street, Home Alone, A Christmas Carol, Charlie Brown's Christmas, Love Actually and late last night I brought out the big guns, my favourite Christmas special of all time ... Merry Christmas Mr. Bean!

There is nothing funnier than watching an awkward, dorky, near mute dude celebrate Christmas!  From his shopping expedition to his encounter with the Christmas band to his attempt at stuffing the turkey; its all hilarious! If you've never seen it go pick it up, snuggle under a cozy blanket with a cup of hot chocolate and give it a whirl. I guarantee you'll love it! See ...



This season, as you are hustling and bustling to get ready for The Big Day, make sure you take a little time to give in to the ridiculous, recapture your childhood and be The Bean. Rearrange a manger scene, sing along with Christmas Carollers or proudly show off your Christmas socks. Spread Good Cheer!

Instead of being a time of unusual behavior, Christmas is perhaps the only time in the year when people can obey their natural impulses and express their true sentiments without feeling self-conscious and, perhaps, foolish. Christmas, in short, is about the only chance a man has to be himself. ~Francis C. Farley

Monday, December 12, 2011

Brotherly Love

My dad and his little brother Len have a really special relationship. Maybe its because they are the youngest boys in a family of 13 or maybe its because they have always lived geographically close to each other or maybe its just because they really like each other.

Dad is a couple of years older than Len but for my whole life it always seemed to me that Uncle Lenny was watching out for Dad. Len was the one Dad always called when there was something wrong with the car, he needed help working on the house or he needed a lift to the hospital (seriously, Dad's really really accident prone!). Len is the go to guy for advice, help or just a laugh. Dad and Uncle Lenny are buddies.

As they have aged and their kids have grown Dad and Uncle Lenny have found a new rhythm to their friendship. They meet less over home projects and emergencies and more to just hang out. They drive to the cabin together to spend the day puttering around, meet for coffee and lately, Uncle Lenny has been hanging out with Dad during his chemo treatments and other Cancer Care appointments. So when Dad's hair started to fall out last week naturally Uncle Lenny was one of the first people to find out.

Dad called to say he was going to shave his head and Uncle Lenny said, "Me too!" So that's what they did. These two guys who have lived their whole lives side by side, doing the same things, helping each other out, met in Uncle Lenny's kitchen on Saturday morning to shave their heads. Both because they had too.

You see, this isn't just Dad's journey through cancer. It's Mom's, my sister's, mine ... it's all of our journey because we love him, so this is Uncle Lenny's journey too. As deeply as he loves and respects Dad is how deeply he has felt a part of Dad's battle. Uncle Lenny has shed many tears, has tried to carry the burden of worry and provide a strong shoulder for my folks to lean on.

Wherever my Dad goes, physically or emotionally, Uncle Lenny wants to go to ... just to be there in case Dad needs anything.So when Dad decided to shave his head rather than watch his hair fall out clump at a time, Uncle Lenny naturally shaved his head too. He went willingly where Dad had to go.

Although the reason for the extreme haircuts was sad, on Saturday Uncle Lenny's kitchen was filled will laughter and teasing. Uncle Lenny took the chair first and after my cousin shaved a couple of strips off the side of his head Dad declared that he had changed his mind, he was just going to let it fall out gradually. You should have seen the look on Uncle Lenny's face!

By the end of the morning both Bilco brothers were bald ... both because they had too.

The soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.
~1 Samuel 18:1

Friday, December 9, 2011

It's Not a Party Until ...

... someone tosses their cookies! If that's true then Mischief's Christmas concert last night was a par-tay!

The choir post incident
Just a couple songs into the Christmas Extravaganza some poor little dude tossed his cookies, on the stage, front and center. As the staff scrambled to clean up the mess and the kids plugged their noses and shuffled away from the scene of the accident the show continued down stage ... and down wind.

I didn't see The Spewer myself but I hope this little guy is not scarred for life over this. Stuff like this happens all the time. Don't believe me? Just search 'Kids Christmas Concert' on Youtube and you will find endless videos of kids peeing, puking, passing out and crying on stage. It happens, what can you do about it?

I remember being a kid, all dressed up and psyched up for the Christmas concert. I was a bundle of nerves and I felt as though everyone was staring at me, waiting for me to make a mistake or miss a cue. I can remember the long walk on to the stage, sweat rolling down the back of my neck as butterflies filled my stomach. I can still hear the shuffle of dozens of tiny feet on the carpeted risers as we nervously schooched along the stage, making room for everyone.

And then the moment. The moment when the lights go up and the room is filled with a sea of faces, one blurring into the next. I can remember frantically scanning the crowd, looking for that one friendly face in the swarm of strangers, my mom. She was one person I knew who was just as nervous as I was even though she was sitting comfortably in the audience and not suffocating under layers of taffeta and tulle on the stage.

I would search the room, to and fro, looking past the waving hoards of other parents blowing kisses and taking pictures. I would look and look, worry growing each second that passed. why can't I see her? Why isn't she here? Maybe she got lost? Maybe she couldn't find a seat? Until the moment. The sweet, sweet moment of relief when I finally make eye contact with her, my mom. Suddenly everything is right with my world, I know that I can do this, I know that I will rock this concert. I know that because my mom is watching I can do anything. I know that this is finally a party!


Thanks Mom for always watching ... and waving!

You don't really understand human nature unless you know why a child on a merry-go-round will wave at his parents every time around - and why his parents will always wave back. ~William D. Tammeus

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Kindness Matters

This morning was supposed to be my running errands morning. I had a few Christmas gifts to pick up, I needed a few more bits and pieces for the gifts I'm making, Mischief needs a pair of pants for his concert tonight and I ordered a slew of pictures for the 'Surprise' calendar I make for my mom every year. A busy morning but I was looking forward to getting everything done at once. That was the plan until I became the Angel of Darkness.

Everywhere I went this morning the power went out. Seriously. I walked into Superstore and five minutes later the power went out. I went for gas at Canadian Tire and BOOM no power. I run into Walmart to pick up my pictures and SHAZAM darkness.

I manage to make it home (no traffic lights anywhere along the route ... no good) and pull into my driveway. I hit the remote for the garage door to open and POW the door gets halfway up and then stops. I duck under the door and let myself into the house and sure enough, no power here either!

I figure I have either become an energy sapping super hero a la X-men (oh, that's no so bad ... I could handle a little time with Wolverine!) or Mr. Awesome is out somewhere in this freezing wind, chilled to the bone, trying to sort this mess out. Turns out its option B.

They are still trying to sort things out around town but the power's back on at home. My errands are only partly done but at least I am home and warm and cranking out the Christmas tunes. I still have my Good Cheer groove on so its all good but I wish I could say the same for some of the people I encountered today.

Most people took the power outages in stride but there were a few crazies out there, too. And I must confess that I can't confirm or deny that I may or may not have possibly told one of the button heads off at Walmart. After waiting around for 15 minutes to see if the power was going to come back on I decided to just head home. I was on my way out of the store when I passed a man in the foyer of the store complaining loudly about Hydro employees.

"Those lazy SOBs are probably sitting at Tim's enjoying a cup of coffee right now. I only have 15 minutes before I have to get back to work. I wish they'd pull their heads out of their own you-know-whats and get to work. Its my tax dollars their wasting!"

"Yeah, this kind of bites," I say. "I have a huge list of errands I wanted to get done too this morning. DO you work in an office?"

"Yes"

"Heated?"

"Of course"

"Hmmm, that's great. So you are warm and comfortable at work?"

"Yes?"

"Well, my husband doesn't work in an office. He, in fact, works for Hydro. So when you return to your warm and comfortable office to complain about 'those lazy Hydro SOBs' know that he is outside, right now trying to restore power. He is climbing poles in these winds and messing with electricity so that thankful citizens such as yourself can have heat and light and power. Merry Christmas!"

So, children, as you are running too and fro this season you may encounter some inconveniences but please remember the people working the tow trucks, driving the buses, policing our streets, driving the ambulances and restoring your power are just doing their jobs. Jobs they chose. Jobs they love and take pride in. So please be kind and respectful and look at that 'inconvience' as an opportunity to spread a little Good Cheer rather than complaints.

Always be a little kinder than necessary.
~James M. Barrie

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

No More Tears?

I'm not a cryer. I don't like crying. No one looks good crying; your face distorts, your eyes get puffy and your nose runs. Then your face gets red, your mascara beats a trail down your cheeks and there is rarely Kleenex available when you need it. It's messy. It's a great big messy mess mess. Nope, not a fan of crying.

I also don't see much point to crying. Things are still the same after you cry as they were before, just now you're wet. Crying doesn't fix anything, it doesn't solve any problems and it certainly doesn't make things any easier. Definitely not a fan of crying.

I haven't really cried over this whole cancer thing. Yet. I have fought back the lump in my throat and I have conquered the lip quivers thus far. I have teared up in frustration once or twice but I have been able to keep the actual full on crying at bay. So far. Until today.

Over the past few days I could feel my defenses weakening. I am tired and I am tired of being tired. I am sad that my kids are noticing the changes in me, I am sad that Mr. Awesome has to pull double duty just to keep our place functional these days and I am sad that my life is changing and I can't do anything to stop it.  My heart hurts for my dad and the things he's experiencing, I worry for my mom and how she's really doing and I am concerned for my sister and how she's handling everything.

These were the thoughts swirling around in my head as I walked into a meeting to plan the Christmas concert at our church. I sat down with one of the pastors and he asked me how I was doing and all of a sudden I was crying. Seriously tearing-up-Kleenex-needed-face-distorting crying. What the heck?!

I fumbled through an apology and tried to regain my composure but he stopped me. He told me, well, reminded me really, that tears are necessary; they serve a purpose. Tears are a cleansing of our heart, a way to release the worry and tension. Tears give us the chance to bounce back, reset and move forward. Tears are the tangible reminder of our need to let things go, to share our burdens.

So I cried. A little. And then I came home and cried a little more. Then Mr. Awesome came home for lunch and we cried together for a little while.

Through all my crying today I realised that the tears don't cancel out the hope and joy and faith I have. The tears just clear the way so I can get to those good things. The tears don't mean I am falling apart, they are a sign that I am being held together. But mostly, the tears have taught me that I need to be strong enough to be weak sometimes.

Tears are God’s gift to us.  Our holy water.  They heal us as they flow.  ~Rita Schiano

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

You get a car! And you get a car! And you get a car!

Not really but I am being a little Oprah-ish today; I am going to share with you some of my favourite things.

This is the time of the year where people are scrambling to find The Perfect Gift, Something Unique, Something Awesome (sorry gals, The Mister is already taken!). It is also the time, as the gift receiver, we cringe as we struggle to think of a response to the question, "What do you want for Christmas?" There are things that I love, thoughtful, beautiful and inexpensive things I love to receive ... maybe my little list will trigger an idea for a Little Something Special for that Little Someone Special on your gift list this year.

1. Christmas Socks! I love, love, love Christmas socks! Nothing spreads the joy of the holiday season more than festive hosiery. I defy anyone to put on a pair of Santa socks and not feel a little happier. The fact is you can't help but smile when you look at the brightly coloured be-socked ankles poking out from under dress pants.

Give that Special Someone a basket full of Christmas socks and I guarantee that you will be giving the gift of joy!

2. A DIY emergency kit for your purse. A friend shared this idea with me and I thought it was stellar. Most of us have extra make-up bags kicking around the house, those gift with purchase bags that cosmetic companies give out. Take one of those and fill it with all those things you wish you had in your purse but somehow never do; things like Kleenex, safety pins, band aids, chap stick, hand lotion, q-tips and a pen. You can also add in items like a small pocket knife, a wee note pad, an extra pair of earrings, a lipstick or make up business cards with your Someone Special's email address on it.

3. Books! I love books! Old books, new books, note books and journals ... books of all kinds! To me, nothing is as personal as giving a book. I love receiving books that are favourites of The Giver, that bring back childhood memories or that have beautiful covers. Hunt through thrift stores or used book stores and find a stack of beautiful old books or a collection of childhood favourites, tie them up with a bow and give the gift of words!

4. Board games. I know, it seems crazy and a little old school but who doesn't have great memories of sitting around playing board games with friends (besides Mr. Awesome, he hates board games). Give Sorry!, Monopoly or Clue to your Special Someone with a bag of microwave popcorn, a couple packets of hot chocolate and a coupon for an evening of electronics-free fun!

5. Receiving gifts is great but knowing that the gift I am receiving is making someone's life a little easier is even better. I think gifts that give back are an excellent (and fun!) way to spread Good Cheer even farther.

Companies like Jolica and Ten Thousand Villages deal only in fair trade products that support artisans in third world countries. For a bit of whimsy check out Tough Girl Tutus where part of the proceeds go back into The unPrison Project that helps incarcerated women and their children. Another one of my favorites is The Pink Ribbon Store.

Think outside the box this year and give A Little Something that means A Little Something More.

The heart of the giver makes the gift dear and precious.
~Martin Luther King Jr.

Friday, December 2, 2011

The Bad News

For the past couple of weeks I have been running to and from the clinic and the hospital, meeting with doctors and surgeons and nurses, having tests and scans done and there are still more to come. I actually have a theory. All of this blood work and all of these scans have nothing to do with cancer at all, I think they are going to clone me. Either that or they are making a wax figure of me for Madame Tussauds. Seriously.

Anyway, while at one of my pre-op appointments the nurse slipped me a list of things I need to do to get ready for surgery and that's when I got the devastating, life altering news. My life as I know it will be changed forever, well, at least for a month. No coffeejuice allowed.

Someone tried to warn me a month or so ago and I just thought they were being mean. Someone else said I'd have to cut it out around the time of the surgery and I thought, "What do they know, they're just a nurse?" It wasn't until I was sitting there, in the doctor's office, staring at the list of pre-op instructions that I realised the gravity of the situation.

Cancer is going after my precious coffeejuice!


It is already taking my breast, its threatening to take my hair, its sucking up a year of my time and altering the plans I have for holidays, birthdays and celebrations and now it wants my coffeejuice! Its just too much! I don't think I can take it!

Being a good girl, who wants to recover as fast as possible, I am taking the doctor's instructions to heart. I am starting to ween myself off The Precious. I joked with the nurse that I'll just quit when I'm in hospital, I'll have morphine for the first couple of days so that'll take care of the coffee withdrawal headache but she said no dice; even morphine is no match for the head imploding pain of caffeine withdrawal. She recommended that I start weening myself now.

My plan is to be down to two cups a day by early next week and then I'll start switching out those two to decafs and eventually to tea and then by my surgery, on December 19th, I'll be down to just decaf tea. I hope.

My coffeejuice exile isn't permanent though, its just for three weeks. So I am declaring Tuesday, January 10 international Return to The Precious Day. That morning I will have my first coffeejuice of the new year and celebrate reclaiming my life ... one sip at a time.

Wish me luck!

Coffee, the finest organic suspension ever devised. ~Star Trek: Voyager

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Life Through the Magnifying Glass

Dude loves science and during one of our recent clean sweeps of his room he rediscovered one of his favourite scientific tools, the magnifying glass. For the past week he's been examining things everywhere we go. Some of his discoveries have been amazing and beautiful, like a single snow flake, others have been disgusting, like the soap scum in the bathroom (note to self, clean bathrooms today) but in each discovery Dude learned something new.

And so did I.

While Dude was examining the contents of a previously clogged drain (ewww!) he made this discovery, "When you look at all this hair and gunk with your regular eyes its pretty gross but when you look at it up close in the magnifying glass you can see all the detail in every single hair and in each speck of gunk and there's actually something kind of nice about that. The cool thing is that when you flip the magnifying glass around this nasty glob becomes way smaller and way less gross."

Cancer cells undergoing experimental
targeted Chemotherapy
So true. I have found that when I just say, "I have cancer," it sounds scary and overwhelming but when I look closely at the situation its not so bad. Survival rates are increasing every year, surgeries are being perfected and becoming less invasive and doctors know way more about treatment and pathology now than they did even 10 years ago. Up close, things aren't so bad and when I flip the magnifying glass around things look even better.

I know people who have had the same type of cancer that I have. I know people who are 4, 8, 13 and 20 year survivors of the same disease I am fighting now. I know that this is one thing that is happening in my life, one thing I thing I don't want to be dealing with but it is just one more thing I am going to conquer. I know that this next year will have some rough patches but this is just one year in a long lifetime of experiences, love and celebration.

This one thing, this breast cancer, is beautiful in the lessons I am learning, the people I am meeting and the kindness I am experiencing. It is going to be a cause of full out partying when I beat it and a point of encouragement when I get to tell people that I am a 4, 8, 13, 20, 50 year survivor.

Until then, I will be spinning the magnifying glass and living each day in thankfulness and celebration.

I don't think of all the misery but of the beauty that still remains. ~Anne Frank

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Crazy Cat-isms

No, this is not a post about cats ... I haven't completely lost my mind.

Cat with Bono ... seriously!
This is a post about my pal, Cat. Actually, I stole her. She was my sister's pal first but once I met this crazy gal I couldn't get enough! Cat is funny and random and quirky ... all the best things in life, really. She stalks celebrities and makes them fall in love with her, she lives life with over flowing joy and where ever she goes that's where the party is.

Over the past couple of months I have had some tough moments, times where I lost my 'funny' and optimism, times when I have felt completely drained and without fail all I've needed to do is click on to Cat's Facebook page and suddenly I am laughing. My day seems a little bit brighter and the world is, once again, the crazy, silly place I love when seen through Cat's unique perspective.

I have felt a little selfish, keeping Cat to myself (and the 400 other FB friends she has) so here she is, or at least a sampling of some of her wonderful randomness from the past couple of weeks.

*Just found leftover Christmas baking from 2yrs ago in the downstairs freezer. That's gonna save me HEAPS of time in the kitchen this holiday season!


*I have no idea how eBay works, but I have 7 min and 42 seconds to figure it out.....


*Trying to reason with a 3yr old is like trying to blow out a lightbulb.


*Finders keepers, losers wear their pants low and saggy with their Fruit of the Looms showing.


*When it states on the back of a Windex bottle "do not ingest", do you think they mean "a lot"? Or "at all"? (anyone know how to get Windex out of coffee?)


*I wonder how many times that Da Vinci guy had to paint that picture of Mona Lisa to capture one of her where she wasn't blinking.


*My daughter's been making up some weird names for her imaginary friends lately (Siffra, Fjaril) - sounds like she's reading an Ikea catalogue
 
*Forever 21 sounds like a store for vampires.


*Nothing scarier than waking up in the middle of the night to pee and forgetting you had beets for supper. Well, maybe except having that thing from the Alien movie break out of your chest cavity. The beet thing would be a close second.
 
Laughter is an instant vacation. ~Milton Berle

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

That's Why You Should Never Hold a Grudge!

About a month ago Dude was having an off day at school and got into a scuffle with a good friend of his. It happened again two weeks later, this time it ended with Dude being punched in the face by his pal. Dude was very mad and we were confused; this is the last thing we expected from these two guys.

It turns out that Dude was being really annoying and didn't stop when he was asked. His pal, having a bad day already, gave him a hard right hook in the jaw. Dude was hurt, embarrassed, confused and offended. He was still very upset when he got home that evening and had refused to reconcile with his friend at school.

Over dinner we tried to talk to him about the importance of forgiveness. We discussed how it wasn't right for his pal to punch him but it also wasn't right for him to ignore the repeated requests for space. We talked about how this kid has been a really good friend, how he has been patient, understanding and always on his side.

After an hour long conversation Dude began to concede. He remembered that friends, good friends, are hard to come by and throwing a friendship away over a bad decision made in a moment, becomes a bad decision that can last for a lifetime.  He was ready to forgive and ask for forgiveness although he did not really see the downside to holding a grudge ... until this past weekend.

This weekend was a big one for Canadian football fans, it was the Grey Cup! Along with all the parties and festivities that happen during the week previous to the game, the CFL holds a brunch to honour past players. This year Angelo Mosca and Joe Kapp, two football greats from the 1960s, were being celebrated.

Someone should have checked ahead of time to make sure they were ready to celebrate ... together.

Just minutes into the brunch, a fight broke out between these two CFL alumni. It was a fist fight (and there was some cane action in there, too) between two men in their seventies. A physical confrontation based on a bad hit that was made during a football game 55 years ago. A fisticuffs, at a charity luncheon, because of a grudge that's been held for more than half a century. Seriously?

"Dude, this is why you should never hold a grudge."

"Because you might beat someone up with your cane when you're old?"

"Yeah, sort of. Instead of these two men being remembered as CFL greats, they will always be known as those two old dudes who beat each other up. That's their legacy now."

"Wow! That's dumb legacy."

Yes it is ...

To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.  ~Lewis B. Smedes

Monday, November 28, 2011

Star of the Week

Last night, just before bed and after a crazy weekend of organising a craft and bake sale at Dude's school, Mischief brings me his school folder and announces that he's star of the week ... TOMORROW! Well, tomorrow is today and with a bunch of scrambling and rummaging we were able to pull everything together to fill his folder for the week. He trotted off to school this morning, happy as can be, ready for the week to be all about him.

As I was filling out the poster with him, listing his favourite books and movies, all the things he's super good at and what makes him the spectacular kid he is, I was thinking how nice it would be if everyone had a Star of the Week poster about themselves. What a fantastic visual reminder that things aren't as bad as they seem and that you are, in fact, kind of fantastic.

I find that even as a grown up fitting in can be kind of tough. There's always the urge to compare yourself, your situation with the next person. Are my clothes as nice? Do we make as much money? Do our kids have the same kind of stuff their kids have?  It all can become overwhelming and a little depressing if we let it go on.

The thing is, we're all different and the only way to be okay with that is to celebrate our own uniqueness, to be the Star of our own week, our own life. I have spent a lot of time in my life comparing myself to others and feeling like I don't measure up. I felt worthless for a long time and then I remembered the truth, I'm not meant to be just like anyone else. I am meant to be different, unique. I am meant to be me and that is all kinds of magnificent.

If you are feeling kind of lousy, a little 'less than' make your own Star of the Week poster. Remind yourself that you are awesome and smart and beautiful and talented and fantastic just as you are. When your poster is done, pour yourself a cup of coffeejuice, sit back, admire your own handiwork and soak in your own awesomeness for a bit. You deserve it!

You know ... you really are fantastic.
~Mrs. Fox, The Fantastic Mr. Fox

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Awesome Family

I get a lot of comments about Mr. Awesome's name. Lots of people think its cute or funny but until the other day I had never met someone who thought we should actually change our last name to Awesome. In fact he's been trying to convince his wife to change their last name for at least 8 years!

At first when he brought it up I thought he was a little crazy but the more he talked about the benefits of having Awesome as a surname the more I could see his point of view. Just think, instant encouragement every time anyone said your name. At a restaurant, "2 for Awesome!" At the doctor's office, "Patient Awesome, right this way!" And your kids ... just think of how great they'd feel at school during attendance, "Awesome, Janey?"

I really think this is a fabulous idea, everyone you encounter confirming your greatness just with a mere mention of your name. Any time you need a confidence boost all you have to do is pull out your license and (ignore your goofy picture) read your own name.  Every time you sign your name, send an email or make a call, you identify yourself as being Awesome. Every time a telemarketer calls they ask for Mrs. Awesome and its you! You are Awesome, for real!

Even if you aren't willing to take the leap and actually change your name to 'Awesome' just remember you are. You are Awesome and Strong and Fantastic. You are Brilliant and Important and Irreplaceable. Every time some one calls your name remind yourself that you are. Whenever you sign a note, know that you are. Every time you see your name in print add 'Awesome' because you are. You are. Awesome!

Thousands of geniuses live and die undiscovered - either by themselves or by others. ~Mark Twain

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

No Strangers Necessary

In Tennessee Williams' play A Streetcar Named Desire Blanche declares that she has always depended on the kindness of strangers. I always that that was a romantic notion, getting by on the goodwill of total strangers but I have come to realise that will a passel of loving and generous friends there's no need to rely on strangers.

This is a crazy week for me. Before all of this cancer stuff I committed to planning a major fundraiser, be the parent volunteer for a noon hour club and help out with another school activity once a week at Dude's school. this is aside from the regular classroom volunteering I like to do at Mischief and Crafty's school. So when all the doctor's appointment started piling up I began to panic. I knew I couldn't be everywhere all the time; I couldn't, realistically, do everything myself.

That's where my remarkable friends and neighbors have come in. Not only have they stepped up to run the fundraiser, keep the noon club going and sub for my other volunteering, they have also offered to help with my regular life. I have friends and neighbors offering to drive the kids to activities, pick them up from school and keep them whenever I need help. Other people have offered to help me clean my house, do laundry and cook meals and still others have offered to take me to appointments and keep me company when I feel gloomy.

New friends, old friends and best friends have come running to help even before I've asked. I am overwhelmed and blessed. I don't know what the future holds, heck, I don't even know what tomorrow holds but I know that I don't have to do this alone.

This may seem sappy and random and over the top but I do want to thank every one who has offered a kind word, a prayer and a warm smile. I want to say thank you to those who have already stepped in and stepped up to give my kids a safe place and some stability. I want to acknowledge those who have done what they are best at, from amazing haircuts to arranging flights for my family to cooking meals. And I want to honour each friend and neighbor who has made generous and kind offers of help and support.

Your friendship is the rope that is keeping me tethered to Hope ... thank you!

Who needs the kindness of strangers? People who move away from their awesome friends!
~An old friend who I love and still need :-)

Monday, November 21, 2011

'Tis the Season

It snowed last week so I should have seen it coming. The kids put on a Chanukah Celebration featuring The Pajama Elf & Baby Jesus; I should have taken that as a sign. I decorated for Christmas this weekend; I was inviting trouble. I've been wearing my Magic Christmas Socks for a week, just tempting fate, so when it happened this morning, why was I so surprised?

We have the first sicky of the season ... The Cold & Flu Season.

Dude woke up this morning looking like ten miles of bad road, as my dad would say. He was blurry eyed, sniffley nosed and running for the bathroom. After spending 20 minutes leaning over the toilet, declaring his impending demise, I told him to shuffle back to bed. No school for him.

There are Christmas Carols, Chanukah Songs, music for New Year's, Chinese New Year's, Thanksgiving, Easter, Springtime, Summertime ... anytime. There is a song for almost any occasion but I can't seem to find one for this season, this Cold & Flu Season ... maybe I should write one.

(To the tune of Head & Shoulders, Knees & Toes)
Sniffles and  Coughs and Runny Eyes, Runny Eyes, Runny Eyes
Sniffles and Coughs and Runny Eyes ... Fever, Aches, Sneezes and Phlegm

or

(To the tune of Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star)
Upset stomach, stuffy nose
I hate being sick, man, this blows


Or ... maybe not.

My wish for you this Cold & Flu Season is this ... May your sniffles be short, your Kleenex be plentiful and may all your children have excellent puking aim always! Be Well!!!

A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor's book. ~Irish Proverb

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Pink Scarf

A couple of months ago my friend gave me a pink scarf. She called first to ask if I'd wear it, knowing my dislike for the colour pink. She also knows that I am a sucker for a good cause so once she told me it was purchased in support of Breast Cancer Research I said I'd take it.

That was Before. Before, when my lumpy breast was just a cyst and I was running through my life at warp speed. Before I woke up every morning with my first conscious thought being, "I have cancer." Before I ran out of steam long before I finished my 'To Do' list, Before I needed to nap in the afternoon if I wanted to go out in the evening, Before I worried about whether my exhaustion was caused by stress or cancer. Before I saw the colour pink as an uber-girly hue that I would never voluntarily wear.

That was Before. This is Now.

Now my second thought every morning is, "This has come to pass, to pass, to pass." Now I am setting priorities and spending my time doing what I really want to do. Now I am saying "no" to things that clutter my time and sap my energy. Now I am experiencing Hope, Kindness and Encouragement as real, tangible things. Now I see the colour pink as a banner of all these things, as a mantle in honour of all those who have come before me, as a talisman against negativity and despair. Now I wear my pink scarf like a warm hug and a suit of armour.

I wear my scarf almost every day. It reminds me of the friend who gave it to me, her thoughtfulness, irreverent humour, fierce love and protective strength. It reminds me that she believes in me, loves me and is fighting for me ... and so are many, many others.

 I reminded myself of that last night, when I was tired and sad. I wrapped myself in my pink scarf and thought about all of the people who are cheering me on. All the people who are thoughtful, funny, loving and strong. All the people who believe in me, who are fighting along side me. I wrapped myself in my scarf, in my people, in pink and remembered that Hope is the thing. Hope is the thing that held me Before, is carrying me through Now and will be with me After.

After.

Remember, we all stumble, every one of us. That's why it's a comfort to go hand in hand. ~Emily Kimbrough

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Modern Child

Remember when you were in elementary school and there was that kid who could entertain himself for hours by picking his nose and examining what he found there? Or the kid who cried over everything? Or the one who could burp the alphabet? Or what about the kid who covered her arms and hands in self inflicted doodles? Or how about the kid who prided himself on making people run, screaming from his presence by sheer force of his self made noxious fumes?

Remember those kids? Fun times.

Or maybe you were one of those kids?

You'd think that in this day and age of techno savvy kids bombarded by adult images on every billboard and commercial kids nowadays would be much more mature and  sophisticated. Yeah ... not so much. I spent three hours on a school bus yesterday and I can tell you that there is nothing elegant or composed about the modern nine year old. They are just as goofy, gross and juvenile as kids ever were ... and proud of it!

I was one of several parent volunteers on a field trip with Crafty's school choir. When I signed up I thought I'd be hanging with Crafty and her pals and it was all good. The reality was quite different. I ended up with a couple of boys in my group and that changed everything. They weren't bad or rude boys ... it was worse ... they were typical nine year old boys.

The ride to the event wasn't too bad. I think they were lulling me into a false sense of security. Most of the kids read, drew pictures or chatted quietly among themselves during the hour and a half drive. When we arrived it was all business and the kids did great. After their performance we settled in to have lunch together ... and that's when things started to unravel!

They were subtle at first; a random tossed carrot, a stray fart sound and a few goofy faces, nothing too bad. I just chalked it up to letting off a little steam after being so nervous all morning but when we boarded the bus for the ride home everything escalated!

The same 30 or so kids who were quiet and calm on the ride in to the city erupted into a mad mob of lunatics! Paper was flying, kids were squealing and pencils were rolling down the aisle. The wee monsters were doing blow fish on the windows and flicking condensation from the windows on to their pals. An intergalactic war broke out on the seat next to me and behind me some kind of Booger Battle erupted. Kids were laughing, squealing, singing and chanting. It was chaos!

The straw that broke the camel's back ... or nose was when the space conflict was resolved and a fart contest began. That was it. That was more than I could take. Within seconds our whole section of the bus reeked! I don't know who was feeding what to those kids or what had crawled into them and died but the smell these two, sweet looking boys were able to conjure is the stuff chemicals weapons are made of! I spent the remainder of the drive breathing through a musty mitt I found in my coat pocket and it smelled like Heaven, comparatively.

The next time people complain about kids growing up too fast I am going to challenge them to an hour and a half bus ride with 30+ grade three and four student ... that should set them straight!

Everything is funny as long as it is happening to somebody else. ~Will Rogers

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Hyperplanactivity Psychosis

When Dude was younger we had to have a daily plan. Every night before bed I had to change the 'to do' list on the fridge, flip the calendar over to the next day and outline everything that we had planned to fill the day. He needed to know what to expect, what was expected of him, each day. He had to mentally prepare himself and preplan his moves for the next day. If we genuinely had no plans for a day I had to make something up because Heaven forbid we had a day without a plan!


Back then I was not a 'have a plan' kind of person. I generally let things happen and just sort of made things up as I went along but for the sake of peace and harmony in our house I became good at planning. And now I need a plan. I really, truly need a plan. I need to know what comes next, what are the steps we need to take to achieve a goal, I need to line up the ducks and dot and cross everything. I need to know where I am headed and how I am getting there. Some say this obsessive need makes me intense but I like to think it make me organized.

This Hyperplanactivity tends to leave me feeling anxious or annoyed when I am working without a plan. I want to Git 'er Done (to quote the great philosopher, Larry the Cable Guy)! I want to know what’s happening next, prepare for it and make sure it all goes the way I see it. Control freak much?

Yuuup!

This past couple of weeks has been an extreme exercise in patience and trust. I have no plan, I know nothing and therefore I can make no plans. I don’t know when my surgery is, what recovery will be like and what, if any, treatment will follow. I have no control and so I have no plans. People ask me to do things, if they can help and what I’m doing next week, next month, next year and I have nothing to say. I shrug and mumble, “I dunno” like some moody teenager.

I’d like to say I’m weathering this new phase of my life like a champ, but I’m not. I’m cranky and irritated that I can’t make a plan and if I do try to make a plan I know that it really means nothing because I know nothing and I’m in charge of nothing!

Arg!

Clearly, I’m losing it.

And maybe that’s part of the journey. Maybe this is one of the lessons I need to learn along the way. Maybe I need to learn how to let go. Maybe I need to find a way of being okay with allowing someone else to make the plans, take charge and take care of things. Maybe I need to learn how to trust in a different way.

Maybe.

The course of life is unpredictable... no one can write his autobiography in advance.
~Abraham Joshua Heschel

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Rude People Suck

Brace yourself ... this may be a little bit of a rant.

Rude people drive me nuts! I can't handle it when people choose to be rude and forceful instead of pausing for a moment to consider that they aren't the only people on the planet and that, perhaps, they should just cool it before spouting off and looking like a jerk. I don't get the self-centeredness that fuels some people and drives them to the point of madness. I mean, seriously, it can't be fun to be that tightly wound all the time, can it?

This rant is coming from a place of pent up irritation covered by a thin veil of politeness. We have encountered some incredibly rude people in the last few days and an email I recieved late last night just pushed me over the edge. Rudeness has always bothered me but lately I find this 'Me First' attitude completely ridiculous and I know that if I don't rant somewhere I will throw a public fit a la Steve Martin in Father of the Bride.


Anyway ...

Here's the thing, you don't need to start a fist fight at a parade because someone asks you not to stand in front of little kids, you don't need to send a nasty email because someone didn't respond to your first nasty email fast enough, you don't need to cut to the front of the line because your time is so much more important than everyone else's time, you don't need to haggle with and belittle someone who has provided a service for you at an already agreed upon price and for crying out loud you don't need to think about yourself all the time.

Look around ... there are other people on the planet!

Being nice matters. Kindness has eternal value. Treat others as you want to be treated. And rude people suck ... so don't be one!

Life is short but there is always time for courtesy. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson, Social Aims

Monday, November 14, 2011

Lending Hope

I was sorting through some of our movies last week and I came across an old favourite, About a Boy. There are so many things to love about this flick but my favourite thing is the general message of togetherness.

I love watching Hugh Grant's character make the transition from feeling okay in his solitary life to embracing the truth that 'no man is an island.' I also agree with the perspective of the boy, "two people isn't enough. You need backup. If you're only two people, and someone drops off the edge, then you're on your own. Two isn't a large enough number."

Its true, two isn't enough, neither is three ... we need more; more than ourselves and our immediate family. More than just a handful, we need a gaggle. We need a gaggle of people on our side, cheering us up, cheering us on, lending their hope and joy and peace. We need to let other people in. Life is filled with weird and quirky characters and you are meant to experience them, let them in and become a friend-family ... or a family of friends.

This weekend I spent some time with friends and family. We made the trip home to my parents place and it was the first time since word got out about my Defective Boob that most of my family and friends had a chance to see me. To tell you the truth I felt a little bit like they were all coming for a viewing (and I'm not dead!) but once I got over myself I realised that they came, they showed up, to see me because I am not alone. I'm not an island.

While mingling with cousins and aunts and exchanging teases with uncles I basked in my not-aloneness. I accepted their words of love and encouragement no matter how eloquant or awkward they were said. I stored each kindness in my memory to save for a rainy day. I did the same through out the weekend as I hung out with friends, lunched with more family and lined the streets of my home town to watch the Santa Parade with my peeps.

Everywhere I went people willingly lent their hope, support and encouragement and I gladly borrowed it! I am doing great right now but I know as the days pass there will be times when running on my own steam will fail me. I know that I will face moments of fear, sadness and uncertainty and I know that if I was truly an island I would be washed away by the grief. But I''m not alone.

And for that I am grateful!

I am also grateful for every word of encouragement, every shared hope, every smile, note and hug that has come my way in the past week. Thank you for lending me your hope ... I promise to cherish it!


Every man is an island. I stand by that. But clearly some men are island CHAINS. Underneath, they are connected...
~Will from About a Boy

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Remembering to Stand

This time of year is always a mixed bag of emotions for me and this year is no different. I feel pride, sadness, patriotism, grief and hope. I am overcome by the depth of sacrifice strangers are willing to make to protect freedom and ensure justice for people they will never know; I am amazed at how they can use words like duty and honour in the face of danger and death and I am humbled that they have given their all for me and my children and my children's children.

We have a strong connection to the military in our family. Mr. Awesome's dad and both grandfathers have served and my grandfather and uncle have also served and I have a cousin who is currently serving. I know the heartache and pride military families experience ... willingly. That's what gets to me. All the sacrifice, danger, injury and death is made willingly. They choose to put the greater good ahead of their own wants and needs. They choose to risk everything in hopes of bringing security and freedom to others. They choose to stand when running would be so much easier.

My grandfather rarely spoke of his time in the army; I only ever had one or two conversations with him about the actual experience of 'storming the beach'. His regiment was at Dieppe, they sailed across the English Channel in the predawn hours toward the unknown. Their hope was to launch a sneak attack, their reality was very different. Bad weather and poor communication had many of the men from my Papa's regiment, The South Saskatchewan Regiment, land on the wrong side of the river, increasing the risk to their safety and success.

His regiment was in France for less than 8 hours on August 19, 1942 but the losses they suffered were astronomical. They retreated in a chaos of bullets, explosions and cries of pain. Many of the wounded never made it off the beach despite the best efforts of the few in tact soldiers who made repeated trips between the beach and the boats, hauling as many wounded men as they could.

I asked my grandfather once how he did it, how he could keep moving, keep soldiering with bullets flying and death everywhere he looked. He didn't say anything for a long while and then he spoke.

"You just don't have a choice. Either you keep standing and moving forward or you die. I didn't want to die so I just kept moving." I find that more true these days then ever before ... either you choose to stand and keep moving forward or you choose to lay down and die. Putting it that way, its a no brainer.

Tomorrow, as our family gathers to remember all those who risked every thing, every time for freedom, justice and hope, I will think of my grandfather, standing on the beach of Dieppe. I will think of the raining artilery, the smell of death in the air and the sounds of war and fear filling his ears, I will think of him standing and moving forward. In the moment of silence tomorrow, I will think of how he made his choice to stand when there was anything but silence surrounding him ... and I will follow his lead. I will choose to stand and keep moving forward.

Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear. ~Ambrose Redmoon


For a full account of what the men of SSR faced that fateful day see An Exercise in Sacrifice

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Pollyanna Sisterhood

I just have to say 'Wow!' and 'Thanks' and 'You are so awesome!' I am humbled, encouraged, strengthed and comforted by all the notes and messages I recieved yesterday. It empowers me to know that I have such a large group of supporters in my corner ... you all rock!

I've been thinking a lot about what has made me who I am, the things I've learned and the people I've known. I grew up in a good family, attending a church and a school that taught me all about God's love, grace and faithfulness. I was fortunate to be raised knowing that even though the circumstances of my birth were unplanned, I ... me, the person God created, was not a mistake. I have always known that God thought of me, planned for me but it wasn't until the summer I was 19 years old that I started to see what that all really meant.

That summer, on a whim, I applied to work at a camp a couple of hours from home. I didn't know anyone who worked there and I had no connection to that place at all. I just saw the ad on the university bulletin board and I applied. Two weeks later I was jammed into a club van with 10 strangers heading to an island in the middle of nowhere.

It was in that place, away from everyone and everything I knew, that I began to know myself. I began to think about life, God and my future and I began to get a sense of the person I want to be. I remember sitting on the dock one crisp May morning and deciding that I want to live a thankful life. In fact I wrote it in my journal, I commit to being a thankful person, to finding one good thing in every situation to be thankful for and if that's the only good thing around, I will hold tight to it and never let it go. I will be thankful.

I'm not sure what prompted me to write those words but now, more than 15 years later, those words are written on my heart and a part of who I am. That naive promise I made when life was an adventure and anything was possible and life only held good things is still serving me now ... when life is an adventure and anything is possible and life only holds good things.

I've been 'accused' of having a Pollyanna view of life. When those words were first hurled at me, I was offended but as I thought about what those words really mean I couldn't disagree. I do have a Pollyanna approach to life. I would rather see the good in people than the bad, I would rather be thankful for the blessings in life than dwell on the disappointments and I would rather live in a place of perpetual Hope than unending despair. Yep ... I can't deny it, that's kind of Pollyanna.

 I am proud to be part of the Pollyanna Sisterhood, it is what I was created for. I know that a huge part of my purpose in life is to encourage, empower and inspire hope in others; not because I have it all figured out but because I am learning as I go. I know life is tough, disappointing and things often go awry but I also know that life is a beautiful adventure and that thankfulness makes all the difference ... thankfulness and encouragement.

All those messages I received yesterday have been saved in a file on my computer and written on the walls of my heart. I am thankful for you, I am thankful that you took the time to encourage me and I am thankful that I get to walk this journey with you on my side. So although I would rather be doing almost anything but fighting cancer, I am thankful ... I am glad for the lessons I will learn and the friends who are on my side.


“Be glad. Be good. Be brave.”



― Eleanor H. Porter (author of Pollyanna) 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

My Defective Boob

... and I'm not talking about Mr. Awesome.

I have never been the picture of health and wellness. I have been overweight my whole adult life and I've never been able to stick to a diet and exercise routine. I am not very proactive when it comes to my  health, neither am I a very good advocate for my own needs but there is something I have always done, one thing that I did religiously for my own health and peace of mind; monthly self breast exams.

Each month, the week before my period I give The Girls a good once over. I figure its the least that I can do for myself. It only takes a couple of minutes and I am laying down in bed anyway so why not. I have been doing this every month for at least ten years and I have never found anything suspicious ... until April.

In April I found a small, marble sized bump in my right breast. From April to June, when I saw my doctor, it had grown to the size of a golf ball. By July, when I had a mammogram, it was changing the shape and size of my Girl. In October when I went for an ultrasound the lump was the size of a lemon and very painful. In fact, it had been painful all along and that coupled with the rate of growth had the doctors convinced that it was a cyst.

The day of my ultrasound, Mr. Awesome dropped me off at the clinic and took the kids to the park. It was just an ultrasound to confirm that my painful lump was, in fact, a cyst. So as I was laying there on the table, defective boob hanging out, being examined by two doctors and a nurse I was shocked when they declared my cyst a non-cyst and I was panicked when they said the word 'biopsy' and jabbed a huge needle into my poor Girl.

A week later I got the call. My non-cyst is breast cancer. I have breast cancer. But I also have Hope and Hope is much bigger, stronger and ferocious than cancer.

I have an appointment with a surgeon and there will be plans made and treatments outlined but nothing is more important than Hope and Confidence. My faith is a part of who I am, it weaves its way through my life, holding things together, holding me together. I know my God. I know He sees me, has an awesome plan for me that I am not even close to completing. He gave me an incredible husband, three magnificent kids and a lifetime of love to give. I am not finished.

We have been through a lot in our 15 years, Mr. Awesome and me, and the one thing we have learned through floods, Autism, miscarriages, accidents and illness is that circumstances don't have to define who you are or how you live. Circumstances are the things that happen to you, not the things that define you. The defining comes in your reactions to the circumstances, your attitude and perspective.

I am not 'That Mom with Breast Cancer.' I am Some Random Mother who has her share of challenges and more than her fair share of blessing, joy, peace ... and hope. So I will accept your prayers, words of encouragement, happy thoughts and good vibes and I'll keep you posted to my progress.

Thanks for being my pals!

Jesus died for my right boob ... so I don't have to!
~Some Random Mother paraphrasing Isaiah 53:5

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Catch-Phrase Kid

I think I have been watching too much TV lately. I have developed a paranoia of drowning in stuff, of becoming a hoarder. For the past couple of weeks I have been Mean Mom. Y'know the one. She's the mom who makes you run and hide when you hear her coming because she always has a list of jobs to do. She's the one you never want to catch you resting, playing or watching TV and you CERTAINLY never whine about being bored to because she'll make you clean under your bed, sort through the dress up clothes or tidy your closet. She's the one you dread and I am Her.

The kids have had several Fridays off in a row and each Friday I have had a new task for them to do above and beyond their regular chores. They have sorted through books, games, toys and clothes. They have tossed broken things and boxed things they've out grown. They have pulled out couches, crawled under beds and even crawled into the dark and creepy corners of the storage bins to discover hidden treasures and even more hidden junk.

Now what? My laundry room is piled high with boxes of things that are good but out grown that I need to sort. Somehow me making them work creates more work for me! Not fair!!!

As I was whining about how unfair it is that I have so much extra work to do now Mischief saunters up the the laundry room door, leans against the door jam and rolls his lollipop around in his mouth for a minute while he watches me move boxes and sort through the mountain of things blocking my office door. After hearing me grumble for a minute or so he pops the sucker out of his mouth and says, "Be careful what you wish for."

"What?"

"Like you say sometimes, you wished for us to clean our rooms and now your laundry room is a mess ... be careful what you wish for."

"Listen Smarty-Pants," I laugh.

"Nope," he interrupts, holding up a pudgy little hand, "You can't always get what you want, life isn't fair and be careful what you wish for. That's it." He slides his lollipop back into his mouth, shrugs, shakes his head and walks away.

... and I cleaned the laundry room. Be careful what you wish for, Mean Mom.

Children are unpredictable. You never know what inconsistency they're going to catch you in next. ~Franklin P. Jones