Saturday, January 14, 2017

The Courage To Accept

I was thinking a lot about the word I would like to focus on this year.  I try to pick a word that I shy away from, don't know much about or, in all honesty, don't really want to hang around.  What's the point of finding a word to focus on if you already do everything associated to it's meaning already, right?  Last year I used the word COURAGE.  I latched on to it as a basis to get started.  I didn't feel like I had the courage to even explore what had happened to me since being diagnosed with cancer.  I didn't have the courage to look ahead and hope for a future.  I needed to jump on the courage band wagon simply to just begin again.  So, the courage was my basis.

Now I am on to ACCEPTANCE.  It's a word I am familiar with, yes, but not one I play all that nice with.  I accept what happened to me after cancer, sure.  Of course, I only skim the surface.  I have not officially dug in and said the words.  I can work with acceptance when I need to.  I don't really have a problem accepting when someone wants to help me out.  I am always grateful and will be forever grateful for all those that helped me over the years, especially when I was sick.  Aside from that particular meaning of acceptance, I am not a huge fan of it in any other way.  I know I sound childish when I say I simply don't want to accept a lot of other things that have happened to me.  Especially when it comes to what cancer has done to me.

I've talked about this before, but I have never been a huge fan of the "new normal" terminology that is spoken often in regards to cancer.  Accepting my new norm has never been my speciality.  I liked the way things were.  It was never my choice that things changed.  My body is different, my mind is different, and overall, I am different.  I know that but I really just don't feel like accepting it.  Well, this is where the word focus comes into play.  It's not a huge news flash, but certainly a wake up call: I have to accept everything I stated above.  It is my new normal.  It is the way things are and unfortunately it can't be changed back.  In all honesty, that's really an okay thing.

Things really shouldn't stay the same.  Where would the fun in that be?  Everything would be pretty boring.  Sure, there are things all of us go through at one point or another that we don't to accept and we never wanted to happen in the first place.  Welcome to life, right?  I am looking forward to offering some acceptance into my life.  I am looking forward to learning and understanding what that word is going to mean for me.  I get the year to explore it and learn to work it into my life.  First came the courage.  Now it's time to use that courage to accept what is.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Get Busy Living....I Hope

Pop quiz - do you know what these words have in common?  Let's take it further.  They are actually two movie quotes.  They happen to my favorite quotes from one of my all time favorite movies.  The first quote I think about a lot especially when I am scared, my anxiety is on the rise, and my fears of cancer are swarming madly in my mind.  I'll jump right in and give you the first quote:

"Get busy living or get busy dying.  That's damn right."

Has it triggered a memory yet?  Alright, I'll cave and give the movie.  It's one of the last scenes in The Shawshank Redemption.  It's near the end when the character Red finds the message from his friend Andy, long after Andy escaped the prison.  The bottom line is Red can stay confined to us current life as a parolee or he can use the money Andy gives him to escape town and meet him by the ocean.  He figures he's an old, harmless con that has done his time and says he doubts that "any roadblocks would be put up; not for an old con like me."  And for me, this is the part where I cue the tears.  It gets me every time and even more so in my post cancer world.  I feel like the cancer is the prison in this example and I am the parolee.  I can stay stuck in this cancer prison, checking in with the cancer fears on a regular basis as if it is my parole officer.  Or?  I can "get busy living."

The very last quote of the movie is simply:  "I hope."  The underlying point of the entire movie is hope.  During their many conversations, Andy discusses hope with Red.  Red, feeling defeated for his many parole rejections doesn't believe in hope and feels it is a waste of time.  In the end, however, when he finally gets his parole granted as well as knowing that Andy is living free, he finally sees the hope.  He ends with telling us his hopes as he goes off to find Andy by the sea.

Hope is so much more than a word, an idea, a value.  Hope is us.  It's our meaning.  It's what pushes us forward.  It is not wishful thinking in the text that "gee I hope I win the lottery, or I hope to live to 100."  Hope is a form of gravity that keeps us grounded.  It keeps us moving forward.  It helps shed the light on the tough times.  Without hope, what is the point, really?  What are you moving forward to.  Hope allows us to get busy living instead of getting busy dying.  That is why those two quotes stay with me all the time.  They are my lighthouse in those days where I can't find a way to get grounded.

As for all of us - cancer survivors, cancer supporters, and strangers - try to remember:  Get busy least , that is what I hope.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

A Week of 2016

Is anyone else just a tad bit panicked?  Less than a week of 2016 is left?  Wow!  Yes, I say this every year at this time.  38 last week's of the years I have lived, and I am shocked every time it creeps up.  Okay, so what to do with this week?  I tend to get all excited about how I am going to make the upcoming year the best year ever. Then about a week into that new year, I am back to my usual ways.

I am not going to go with the usual resolutions this year.  I am not going to focus on losing weight, running everyday, saving money, etc.  Those things will always be there whether I make them a resolution or not.  Sometimes I succeed and sometimes I don't.  I am going to continue to try and eat well, exercise, loose a few pounds and be careful with my money.  But what do I really want for 2017? Well, here are some thoughts.

  1. My word of choice for 2017 will be ACCEPTANCE.  This past year was Courage and it did well for me.  I first needed the courage to wake up and see what was happening with me.  What was I hiding from myself?  What emotions did I need to see I was afraid of?  Courage was step one.  Granted, I still run from a lot, I am still afraid and I still have anxiety, but I am a bit more open to it.  Can I say what I think will happen with ACCEPTANCE yet?  Nope, hence why I am willing to explore it for 2017.  
  2. Write, write, write!!  My goal is to get back to really getting my thoughts on paper.  This works!!  I will share what I want and keep private what I don't.  Plain and simple.  The few times here and there I write in my journal clears my mind and seriously makes a difference.  Most of what I write I can't share (sorry all) but it gets it out of my brain, on to paper and allows for the full release.  
  3. Getting me some mindfulness!  I am smack dab in the middle of John Kabat-Zinn's book Full Catastrophe Living and it is beyond eye opening.  It's a huge book so if you pick it up, tell yourself to divide it up over time so you are not overwhelmed but it is a game changing book.  If I can master this idea of mindfulness, I just might be on the road to full ACCEPTANCE of everything about me.
And on that note, my last week of 2016 will be spent enjoying the rest of the holidays, celebrating the year and looking towards 2017.  Happy New Year!1

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Stop The Beat Up - NOW

When you read that title, what came to mind first?  There is no right answer.  Just think about it for a minute.  Then, I'll tell you why I wrote it.....pausing for you to think.....Okay, carry on now with reading my thoughts.  I wrote that title because I was sitting here thinking about how long it has been since I blogged and I was beating myself up for it:
  • What would people think about this blog since it has taken so long between posts?
  • Would they remember the blog existed when I wrote again?
  • Would people still be interested in what I had to say?
  • What would they think about The Dragonfly Angel Society - Cancer Survivorship?
  • I should have had a schedule ahead of time to make sure there was no lag time between blogs; how could I let it slide?
Those were some of the lovely thoughts that rolled through my mind over and over and over again.  It was just one beating after another.  I almost said forget it.  I am not going to write.  I am not going to bother trying to pick up the blog again and see where my words might take me.  Then I stopped just as my fingers were about to close out the computer screen.  

STOP!!  JUST STOP!!!  I pushed those mean thoughts out of my mind and started asking myself non-judging questions - Did you ever think that maybe life just happened?  So, you didn't have a perfect writing and blogging schedule all timed out perfectly to follow.  So what?  At this point, I allowed all the thoughts to swirl and simmer in my mind.  I let them just be and i began to type anyway.

I changed my focus on the negatives and tried to push forward to the positives.  I am writing my thoughts now, right?  I'd like to work on getting my thoughts in order to share in the blog a little more frequently but if I don't?  Then I don't.  End of story.  I will not beat myself up.  I will not allow my thoughts to overcome me.  I will move to the next day and if that includes writing, or blogging or sitting on the couch watching TV, then guess what?  That's what the day includes and I will enjoy.

Shouldn't this go for all aspects of life?  Well, the short answer is an obvious yes.  Way easier said than done.  I am sure you are thinking "easy for her to say."  There are tasks that every one of us has that we have procrastinated on.  Everyone has tasks and to do lists and ideas galore they want to tackle.  Stop beating yourself up on the ones that you haven't finished in the timing in which you expected to complete them.  Stop listening to the negative thoughts.  You will get those tasks done when the timing is right.  You will get those ideas out and into the world when you are ready.  In the meantime, stop the beating.  Maybe life just got in the way.  Enjoy it.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Getting Our Social Media Feet Wet

Here we go!  We have been Facebooking.  (Not sure that is a real word, but who is counting?).  We just started Tweeting - TODAY!! And finally, we have been Instagramming (again, a word?) for a few weeks now.  We'd love to connect with you and please connect with us.

Facebook - The Dragonfly Angel Society

Instagram - @dragonflyangelsociety

Twitter - @dascancer

We are having so much fun and going a little crazy too, trying to figure out how each of these social media worlds work.  One of our key pushes for the next 100 days is the #100daysfearlessofcancer project.  It's our goal to try to live 100 days fearless of cancer.  Every day we will post a picture of how we are losing the fear and gaining the fearless.  Do you have something of your own you want to do for 100 days?  Join us!  Create your own #100days hashtag and tag us too.  

Our feet are not exactly social media soaked yet, but we are working on it.  See you out there!!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Trust In March

As I have mentioned in previous blog posts, my goal in 2016 is to focus on one word and one book that goes with it for each month.  This month, my focus is Trust.  Personally, when I think of the word trust, I think about how I trust people - friends, family, etc.  Thinking about my focus for March, I need to take the word trust to a different level.  As cancer survivors, I think the word trust can also be related to how we feel about our bodies and our medical teams.  
For me personally, I struggle with literally just trusting my body.  Can I trust it to be healthy?  Can I trust that it will tell me if something is wrong?  I hate to say it, but can I trust it to not get cancer again?  Sound like blame?  Maybe.  However, it is definitely a feeling about trust that I do have rolling around in this crazy brain of mine.  When I got cancer, I was mad at myself physically and mentally.  How could my body let me down like this?  How could it let itself get cancer?  
Only years later am I slowly starting to realize that my body didn't fail me.  It told me when something was wrong.  I need to learn that trust again.  I need to let it do it's thing.  With that being said, the book I tied to my trust focus for March is Rising Strong by Brene Brown.  I love her insights!!  Trust is not something that can be accomplished 100% in one month, however, I think my basic understanding of it can be learned.  I think it is a great basis as cancer survivors to build our future on and help us recover.  I hope you feel the same way too!!

Friday, February 19, 2016

How's Your Life? How's Your Energy?

As I sit here at Midway airport in Chicago getting ready for a little weekend adventure in San Francisco, I keep thinking about one fascinating person I had contact with already today.  It's barely 7am so that is saying a lot.  I had just go through security and was in line at Potbelly for some much needed coffee and a little breakfast to go with it.  The line was full of mundane faces...frowns, sleepy eyes, tired looking parents and crabby airport workers.  It was virtually silent until.....a Potbelly worker walked in and started yelling out:  "Hey everybody, how's your day?  How's your life?  How's your energy?"  I think I just turned and stared.  Then of course my mouth fell open.  The sentence that would have come out is "How are you this happy?"  He still kept going:  "What are you having?  How are you?"  It was pure awesomeness.  He woke me out of my own swirl of worries, negative thoughts, and all the other usual thoughts that roll through the ticker tape in my mind.  I worry to the extreme and it can often put some damage into a fun weekend.  This guy snapped me out of it.  Just watching him do his own personal day-to-day tasks with such a high amount of energy made me realize that all is good.  It just is.  Take this as your own reminder today, no matter what you have going on.  If you are making sandwiches at Potbelly, if you are going to work, if you are going to the doctor or if you are going to San Francisco, just take it all in everyday.  Think of the sandwich maker today and remember to ask yourself:  How's your energy?  How's your life?