Starting 2014 in the throes of a healthier life change, after already losing a tremendous amount of weight, and ending it in chemotherapy has been both a shock and a blessing. Reflecting back now,  I can see how my every thought was on the future. How many pounds will I lose at the end of the week, the end of the month, the end of the year. How many more classes will I need to take to graduate. Where would I like to teach upon completion. I made meals for the week and froze them. I was rushed, over worked, and down on myself most of the time because I wasn’t performing to the standards and the goals I had set. I instead of slowing down, tried harder. I Told myself I wasn’t pushing enough. I increased my workload, both at school and with my outside physical activity. What did I get for all that effort and hard work?  I got cancer, and it has been a blessing.

live_in_present_dalai_lama

Sunshine: 

My biggest sunshine comes from knowing my cancer came for a reason. I was not living in the present. I was living for the future. While I learned that I have the will to complete goals earlier this year, I forgot to enjoy the progress of them. While I learned to love myself more, I was loving myself for accomplishments, and not just for who I am. I always had a project, a goal, or something to fill my time. I have learned that it’s okay to do absolutely nothing at times. A hospital room can get lonely, but I have learned from that as well. Cancer has taught me a lot. Cancers’ blessings have refocused me, and I am determined to enter this new year with these new mindsets, gifted by my disease.

1.) Live in the now! I will no longer be a slave to my goals. Instead I will enjoy reaching them. I will be okay when it takes longer to reach them. I will focus on then energy I have for the day.

2.) I will enjoy more of the little things! Where I was before in a hurry, almost annoyed at times, to talk on the phone with friends and family because I was just too busy, I will remember just how valuable that time is. When my children want to talk, I will not rush them, so I can finish a paper, or a load of laundry. I will stop, because nothing in this world is worth giving up time with my kids. I will now remember the feel of their hugs, because I memorize how the hugs feel. The way I made myself memorize Hayden’s soft head when he passed. I, as a mom who has lost a child, should have already known to do this, but future thinking got in the way.

3.)I will know I am valuable regardless of what I accomplish. My value is not determined by a person, an accomplishment, a failing, or my cancer. My value has and always will be the same. I am loved by many, and I love many, and in that my life is valuable.

4.) I will give more. I will give more of my time, my love, and my energy whenever possible. I hoarded my energy selfishly on getting fit, making the grade, and running my home. I need to remember that while those things are all important, there is an innate need to do for others. If I ignore that, I am hurting myself. I know that in giving to others, I feel closer to God and humanity, and that is the only way to truly fuel my life.

5.) I will make time for fun! Good thing I can have fun doing almost anything. Cancer has taught me that I can even have fun telling people I have Ebola. Don’t worry, I have only done it once or twice, and then eventually told them it’s cancer. But really it is hard to take me seriously, I walk around the oncology floor with wild hats and PJ’s. I can have fun anywhere!

6.) I will be grateful! I am grateful that I have the energy to write today. I am grateful that you are reading this sentence. I am grateful for so much in my life that the things we call “tough”, “bad”,  “rough”, and “scary”, are code words for “THANK GOD I’M ALIVE”! It’s cliché but the line that says “it could always be worse” is true. It can. At times it will be worse, and those are the pivotal moments in which I will choose to count my blessings!

7.) I will write! It is something that allows me to be me. I do not censor myself. I am fearless. I am free. I allow emotions to spill onto the screen that would otherwise lay dormant, and ignored. I will not perseverate on what I write, instead I will freely give what comes to me. As I am now. I had no idea what I would write about today.

8.) I will be okay with not having control! This is my toughest lesson and one I am still dealing with. I am okay without having control. Please remind me of this if you see the sneaky little bitch trying to take over.

9.) I will be accepting of help and try not to feel guilty from it. Guilt is my constant agonizer. I have long been burdened with feeling guilty anytime I somehow inflict burden on someone else. Cancer is a reminder that I don’t mean to be a burden, therefore, letting go of the guilt is okay. Not just when it comes to cancer, but also with everything else.

10.) I will be positive. I refuse to give into the negativity of others, the negativity of fears, and the negativity of our society. I will cast off my cynicism, and move through my fears. I will use the things I am grateful for, the knowledge of blessings, and the love I am shown to continue to be positive.

My word for 2015 is present. My main goal is to live in the present, and acknowledge it as a gift. Thank you cancer, for reminding me of what I was choosing to miss out on. My hope for all of you is that you can find the joys of living in the present as well.

DalaiLama

Rain:

Christmas Eve came with devastating rain. Our family returned home from our yearly family/friend party. We live on 10 acres, so entering our property is not your typical endeavor. Our dirt road leads to a gate that must be manually pushed. Our dogs always come running to the top of the hill to great us when we arrive. When the boys got back into the suburban, after closing the gate, my husband as usual, started down the small hill to the house. We didn’t get far. A thudding occurred on my side of the vehicle. I knew. I knew in that moment it was one of our dogs. My husband jumped out of the vehicle. It was Onxy. She was instantly dead. My kids were immediately distraught. I was in shock. Onyx was 13. She was a black chow/lab mix and the most loving dog you could ever meet. My heart is still aching from this loss. She was older, her hearing and eyesight were failing, along with her bladder. I can be grateful that she did not suffer, and that her last moments were happy, because her family was home. I can only hope that when we pass that she will be welcoming us to our forever home.

onyx2

Puddles:

I have to share an old Onyx puddle story. Tyger, now 14, was in first grade. It was about an hour past bed time and I heard him call for me. Entering his room, I discovered his little hands doing their best to cover his mouth. He was turning his head back and forth looking for where to puke, and as he did springs of watery red chunks spewed through his fingers. Thinking about this now it really resembled a fast paced sprinkler shooting regurgitated lasagna along the floor, walls and furniture. I quickly rushed him into the bathroom and proceeded to clean him in a warm shower. I grabbed some clothes that I was folding on the couch and helped him dress for bed. I told him he needed to wait on the couch until I was done cleaning his room. When I got to his room, it was like Tyger had never even vomited. Welcoming me to the room, with a delighted wagging tail, was Onyx. She had taken it upon herself to devour every last bit of the lasagna puree that had showered the room. I was both thankful and disgusted.

To Onyx,

   I hope that we brought as much joy to your life as you have brought to ours. You helped so many children by just letting them annoying love on you. You never bit, you never wined, you somehow knew what those children needed. You were my friend, and a love. I will truly miss you. I am so grateful that you were in my life and in the lives of all the children that came through our home. Rest in peace.

onyx