Category Archives: Learning

Every second, everything changes…

They say cats have nine lives…well, I am beginning to believe so do I. I know I have had many health scares. And it has changed me in a way I am still fully learning to understand and accept. But today, once again, I got some positive news from my doctors. For months, I feel like I have given up. I just don’t have the best support system. Easy to give up – when you feel so alone. Picking out headstones, finalizing my living will, giving away my clothes, furniture. But today, doc told me the cancer stopped spreading. And although I am far from out of the woods, I may, just may, once again outlive my prognosis. I sit here, outside in NYC at Central Park crying as I try to write this. I don’t think many can understand how I feel. I almost completely gave up. I know I did. But I am over the moon happy that this stupid smiling depression of mine didn’t get the best of me. I was born a preemie and I will always be a fighter. I know this deep down inside. I just lost sight of it for awhile. I was barely hanging on. But I am finding the strength somehow to keep moving forward. Living with a death sentence hovering is, was, will be – my own prison. Few things in life, can forever change a person. Getting a diagnosis of cancer just puts things in perspective but then pain can make us lose that just as easily. Focus shifts. Goals change. Desires lost. Seconds turn into years. Cramming a lifetime into days. I have been doing this all my adult life. Pushing people away. Begging them to stay. Cursing. Praying. Hoping. Letting go. Learning. Crying. Screaming. Accepting.

Many don’t understand that tomorrow is not a given. I lost my way for a bit, as I always do. But I remain hopeful that tomorrow will come. …that many tomorrows are still here for me. I feel like I am cheating death. And maybe I am just living life…to the fullest. Not looking backwards. Time. Timing. Timeless. Who knew the aggressive cancer would respond so much better than expected to my last course of treatment? I didn’t. I would have bet all I had – oh wait, I did. I am still in shock I think, as I write. Not sure why, I have been here before. This should be home for me. Being sick has been my stability. Sounds crazy but that has been my label for too many years. Immune system shot. I get sick at the mere mention of a cold. But today’s news, and the way I have been feeling the last couple of weeks, has me happier than I dare to believe. Do I dare hope? One minute I am fighting to literally breathe, the next I just give up, resign myself to dying, and now I can’t stop smiling. Life. This is my life…the pain, loss of strength, nausea, weight fluctuations, exhaustion, and shortness of breath are beginning to gradually fade. I know my body is healing…I can go up and down the stairs without gasping, less pressure from the tumors in my chest, weight stable, can enjoy food again, more positive outlook is evolving. Weeks have turned into months, and I pray against all that my next scan will show that the cancer is in remission. A girl can dream. Yes. Now I just have to figure out my life. For months, my life meant dying. I have been preparing for death. I am ruined financially. I am fragile. I am happy but shocked. I don’t know what to do now. I wasn’t expecting to be brought back from the edge of death. Learning how to live. *sigh* That is always my dilemma. Do I allow myself the luxury?

So I will never stop thinking or asking my doctors, “Am I dying?” I’m just not quite sure where I am and what I should be doing. I understand that the cancer will at some point take my life but not today. Sometimes doctors don’t have all the answers. Only God does. And He spared me once again. I guess my job here on earth is not completed. And for that I am grateful. A huge part of me apprehensive. So I am going to go out there and continue to live my life. Trying. It’s almost like I have been living in reverse somehow.

On a logical level, we all know life is short. We say this all of the time. But few of us actually live accordingly.

“We are all dying, every moment that passes of every day. That is the inescapable truth of this existence. It is a truth that can paralyze us with fear, or one that can energize us with impatience, with the desire to explore and experience, with the hope- nay, the iron-will!- to find a memory in every action. To be alive, under sunshine, or starlight, in weather fair or stormy. To dance with every step, be they through gardens of flowers or through deep snows.” ― R.A. Salvatore

Truer words have not been expressed … LIVE your life TODAY! Don’t ignore death, but don’t be afraid of it either. Be afraid of a life you never lived because you were too afraid to take action. Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside you while you’re still alive. Be bold. Be courageous. Be scared to death, and then take the next step anyway.

I remain forever hopeful, crying through my tears with grace in my step …make that dance steps.

Today…everything changed.

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Just venting…

Life. Life sometimes really sucks. Period.

Being a divorced, single, childless woman in my 40s battling cancer yet again is just a sad state to find myself in…again.

Divorced Female, Going Bald, Undergoing Chemo and Radiation, Going Through Menopause, Weight Fluctuations, Mood swings…

Oh yeah, isn’t that the first profile you would click on if you were searching for the love of your life or even just a new ‘friend’ online? Dating in itself – or, I should say, finding someone to date – is never easy. Finding someone when you happen to be bald, going through chemo and/or making daily trips to the hospital for chemotherapy and radiation makes it a zillion times more complicated. Trust me, I know. I have tried it. I am not sure why I have tried it but I did. Logically, I knew it was not the best idea. But heck, I guess I am bored, optimistic, stupid?!

Going through cancer treatment can be really tough for a single woman. You may not have a friend or family member who can be there for you like a partner. You may also worry about how a current or future partner will react when they find out you’ve had cancer.

Perhaps the most private scar left by cancer is the damage done to your view of yourself. My self-image is completely distorted at times. I constantly find myself worried if I can ever catch up, keep up or even get going on most days. I wonder how active I can be and even how long I will live. If I ever even allow myself to think about remarrying one day, I obsess about if I should ever involve a partner in such an uncertain future.

In the past, concerns about having children also affected my relationships. I became infertile many years ago with my first bout of cancer. So alone I am.

I have been single most of my life. And I live by this quote by prixie: “Single is not a status. It is a word that describes a person who is strong enough to live and enjoy life without depending on others.”

Yes I am scared. Tired of not having someone special around. But the reality is I am my own person, and if I can’t enjoy being single, how can I enjoy being with someone else?

The most difficult thing for me about going through cancer yet again is doing it single, alone. In the past, I had a much larger, strong support network so I was hardly ever alone. But now I find myself more alone. At a time when closeness is so much more important, I feel so utterly singularly alone. During this time, my treatment, I am trying so hard to be brave and not complain too much. But staying quiet and calm, doesn’t prevent me from being lonely sometimes and longing for someone to hold me at night and whisper that everything is going to be alright. Or even just to take me to dinner, make me laugh, smile and forget about cancer for a little while, make me feel desirable. I have friends who take pity on me and take me out for dinner, and make me laugh but its just sadly not quite the same thing. Sometimes I just so desperately want to ignore the cancer.

Nearly everyone I encounter who has or has had cancer – friends, people at the hospital, family, people in books and on TV – were either married or in a serious relationship when they were diagnosed; or children with caring parents. Not me. I am in the very vulnerable single state and not having someone to hold my hand every step of the way, makes me wistful, if not angry sometimes. But instead of just being jealous of others in relationships with supportive loving partners, feeling sorry for myself, I keep trying online dating. It makes me feel somewhat normal.

Within minutes of posting a new photo online, I had e-mails from men ready to shower me with attention. Of course, most weren’t exactly my type, but you need to kiss a lot of frogs to find your prince, right?! lol

I guess I am lucky somewhat … I have had some really interesting email exchanges, but alas have not found the man of my dreams during treatment. Still, dating during treatment restores my self-confidence, reassures me that I am still attractive, and distracts me enough moments at a time. The way I see it, is that everyone is unique and carries baggage of some kind and this is only one part of me, I guess. Just tired today of carrying all this baggage. Tired of my hand dangling alone.

So yes … Life. Life sometimes really sucks. Period.


Reunited…and it feels so good.

Reunited…and it feels so good. Yes! Finally! Yesterday was a great day…a day all about ME. I was funny, charming, silly, impulsive…I felt alive, like I didn’t have a care in the world. And for a few blissful hours, I didn’t. I made my usual Saturday night plans for dinner then movie…and found myself dancing the night away into the wee hours of the morning. I have not felt this free in years. It was fantastic. I was surrounded by good friends – the non-judgmental ones; friends who want nothing tangible from me except friendship. Being the oldest in the night club and not being comfortably dressed, did not deter me from having a great time. I felt at peace, even beautiful. I have realized that it has been way too long since I have completely, and literally, let my hair down.

“To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

The most important decision of your life, the one that will effect every other decision you make, is the commitment to love and accept yourself. It directly affects the quality of your relationships, your work, your free time, your faith, and your future.

I go out, and am usually worried about parents, dog, money, having to get up early to do things for others. I am usually so sleep deprived that I tire way too easy.

Yesterday, my Saturday started like most other Saturdays…buying the paper for my Dad, getting pastries, fresh bread for my parents, walking the dog, going into NYC for some volunteer work. I should have known it would be a great day…one of the young cancer patients I counsel, is actually showing such remarkable progress. Hope, faith…praying.

Trains were on time. I was actually only two minutes late for my much needed hair coloring appointment. Such a relaxing time at the salon. Learned one of the young ladies at the salon got engaged, met her new fiance, and her ring was a beauty. Love, hope…wistful.

Although, I was tired…I was determined to have a few hours of just pure enjoyment. Dinner was stress-free, conversations easy and flowing. Movie was sweet, funny. When we found ourselves not wanting the night to end, we decided to find a dance club. Although, most clubs are packed with the 20 something crowd, we were not deterred. We were on a mission to let the music just carry us away. I felt alive again. It was like stripping off several layers of paint from an antique piece of furniture. I found myself restored to my original beauty of life, full of joy. Not caring if I looked old, silly – allowed me to feel alive and I could abandon all those inhibitions. I just felt like the old me. Living in appreciation.

Most days, I tend to reminiscence, and live in the past. Missing the men in my life, lost to me too early. Suffering comes from living in the pain of the past or the fear of the future. That is not living. My fiance, who passed away, would not want me to be alone, wallowing in what ifs. I am determined to continue placing attention on the present moment and be at peace. Lately, I am trying so hard to live in the present.

Focusing on me…on loving myself more. True self-love requires time to relax, play, and create face-to-face interaction with others. Our fast-paced world creates a goal setting, competitive craziness that doesn’t leave room for play. A doctor once said, “The opposite of play isn’t work, it is depression.” Yes, I feel like I have lost too many years as it is. I refuse to live in shadows anymore. Letting go of negative people, judgmental people, lying people, and dramatic people. Trying to stay true to myself. Love myself. Put myself first. No more self-neglect.

The past few weeks, pre-spring cleaning, has also found me cleaning out my closets. I have gained a lot of weight the past couple of years. And although I have to lose some for health reasons, I am embracing my new curves. I never thought the clothes hanging in my closet were symbolic in any way. But they are. Having clothes that no longer fit me, made me feel bad. Made me feel unworthy and just plain fat. No more.

So, there you have it. My new clothes, less clothes in the closet. A few hours of pure fun. A few hours of pure selfishness. My new return to finding ME. My new determination to not forget myself again.

Yes, reunited…and it feels so good….singing…♥


Welcome 2014…BELIEVE!

With the New Year here, comes the annual New Year’s resolutions….I have never been a big fan of resolutions…more a fan of setting goals. So, some of my goals for 2014 are some of the same I set for 2013 but was sidetracked when I got hit by a car in January…one, is to learn more about wine. Physical health goals include: eat healthier somehow; lose weight to feel better, tone up; dare to wear a bikini this coming summer; start walking more again. Career goals: I want to get my PMP. Look for a better, more challenging job; earn more money.

And for the more emotional goals…I will continue to be more selfish, putting myself first, loving myself. Seek out more like-minded people. Be more confident. I want to get over my anxiety of walking, falling, breaking bones…I want to be able to cross the street where I got hit by a car…and not panic. I want to be more brave.

My love relationship goals seem the most elusive to me, somehow. Last night, as it neared midnight and the ball was about to descend upon Times Square, I looked around and that special someone to kiss was nowhere to be found. *sigh* And my initial thoughts were, “Alone again this year”. Then my little Chili dog, just licked my face and I found myself smiling through my tears. There will always be a smile…

If your life wasn’t what you thought it would be in 2013, don’t despair. Too often, we feel pressured to have our lives in perfect order on New Year’s Eve / Day, complete with a killer sparkly sequined dress at an over-hyped party and someone to kiss at midnight. When the fireworks don’t go off as planned, we’re left feeling unsatisfied and disappointed. But this is not what ringing in a new year is all about. Instead, it’s a time for renewal, rebirth and new beginnings.

I found myself single on New Year’s Eve, still disillusioned from a broken engagement last year and dating woes…I was drained of all my emotional energy and completely disconnected from myself. I know I need a new beginning and a new relationship – with myself and eventually, a new boyfriend. Obsessing over what went wrong and forever mourning my failed relationships only make me feel depressed, not motivated to move on. So instead, I wrote myself a list of goals based upon the lessons I have learned.

My writing and my lists help me remember where I’ve been, what I continue to learn… I know all too well how resilient I can be and what I want (and don’t want) for my future.

I know in order to move forward in 2014, I must find more ways to empty my heart and soul of all the negative energy from all of my relationships – family, friends and love -passed. I am starting this New Year, trying not to lament over things gone wrong, taking each set back as a lesson learned, opening my eyes with a fresh, positive outlook and an open heart to welcome all that the New Year has to offer.

I still believe in love…The message from the one of the classic children’s books Polar Express was simple: believe. No matter how old you are or how many times you have to start over, we must believe that love is out there and that we are deserving of it. I will stay open to love. We all have a list of qualities we’re looking for in someone, but I am working on not ruling someone out just because they don’t match up to all on my checklist. We may miss out on something better than you could have imagined or asked for on a list. Rip up the checklist, the pros and cons list. Yes, life is short…there’s only so much time we can spend analyzing whether or not that person is the one. Instead, follow your heart but also listen to your instincts.

This year, I vow to guard my heart better. The past few years, I find myself drawn to relationships with men who are unstable or treat me poorly. I am no longer allowing it nor make excuses for them. Now that I am learning how to walk gain, soon I will be able to run the other way and protect my heart from those who will harm me.

I am more than ever really determined to continue to love myself and put myself first. We’ve all heard that you can’t love anyone unless you love yourself. This is true. If you’re not taking care of your own physical, emotional or mental needs, you won’t be able to devote yourself to a healthy, loving relationship. FACT!! It’s kind of like a flight attendant’s emergency instructions. You need to put on an oxygen mask on yourself first before you tend to everyone else.

I have to learn how to nor be so codependent. I am learning that if I want to find a healthy relationship, I have to work on not being their caretaker. Need to stop mothering people who are grown, capable adults, people who are only using me to their advantage at their expense or people who don’t really care about me. Learning to redirect, use my energy to start taking care of myself.

Learning how not to take rejection personally. When people judge or criticize you, don’t take it to heart. Instead, ask yourself, does their opinion really matter to me? And more often than not, the answer will be no! Is there merit to what they’re saying and is there something I need to work on? Life’s too short to care about what other people think about you.

Don’t expect perfection from others — or yourself. I have been working on this for a long time…I understand, there’s no such thing as perfection, so don’t expect or demand it from yourself or anyone else in your life. Even if you know you could do better for yourself, or someone or something disappoints you, remember that no one, not even you, can do everything perfectly. Learn to let it go…somehow.

Determined to set real boundaries. Sometimes, we want to do it all but there are not enough hours in the day. If we try to do too much for the people we love, we could be left feeling drained and overwhelmed. I learned this the hard way last year. I have always been the first one to drop all for someone in need. When I had my accident, I realized how alone I really was. How hurt and frustrating it was when I couldn’t get dressed, walk my dog…but no one stepped up and offered to help me, especially those first few weeks. Setting boundaries in your life and your relationships is not only healthy, but it’s necessary. Learning to say the word ‘no’.

Be patient with yourself. This is hard…since I tend to feel lost, defeated…when I can’t reach my goal. But as they say, “It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey”. Ever just find yourself rushing and then wonder how, why things crash and burn?! Learning to appreciate the path so that I don’t miss what it’s trying to tell me. Ears and eyes wide open.

Determined to accept my own friendship. Let’s all try talking to ourselves as you would a friend. You’d never really tell a friend that they’re not good enough, pretty enough or smart enough to be loved, so why would you talk to yourself that way?! Be kind to yourself. This goes back to putting ourselves first!

I will remain hopeful…I have proven that I can weather whatever storm comes my way because I keep hope in my soul. Grace in my step. Love in my heart.

And will continue to do so….♥

Beleive


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