Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Why not be the beginning of it all?

Good Tuesday Morning!  It's an early one at that.  Once again, I awoke around 4 AM, my brain just ready to go.  Of course, once I've gotten this bit of writing out of my system, I'll likely be tired again; craving my bed; praying my son will let me sleep for an hour before I participate in his day.

I awoke because of another dream that had something to do with my long-defunct teaching career.  For the first time in a dream, I said "goodbye" to it.  Or, rather, I finally tried saying "goodbye" to a former colleague; couldn't find her in the (apparently) ginormous high-school-reunion crowd; thought "screw it, I'm gone," and made the most graceful run for the glass doors to head home.

Yeah, I have issues.

I have a lot of issues.  I'm voluminous with them all; and I have no segue into the rest of my rambling.

Awesome, right?

Actually, I might.  There is a bit of awesome in my life right now.  Okay, there are LOTS of awesome bits in my life, but this one is a corner bit.  It took me two weeks to absorb all the information and fully appreciate it.  Vaguely speaking, I'm almost "there."

"There" would refer to the end of this battle with cancer.  So far, it has lasted fifteen months (of treatment, never mind the growing process!). I've had several months of chemotherapy.  In the winter, I underwent surgery to remove the main tumor.  In the Spring, I experienced radiation, to ensure nothing else grew in my lap.  Now, I'm in something I consider to be the final phase.  There's more chemotherapy, with a different cocktail.  It should be finished within the next six months.  This will be followed by a step-down to a lighter chemo cocktail, more scans, more discussion, less nausea.

The time frame is long, but I still consider myself "almost done" with this.  It's small and huge at the same time.

Small:  I'm still doing chemo; and through the remainder of the year at that.  Likely, it will continue into next year. Essentially, nothing new is happening in my life.

HUGE:  I AM getting my life back.  I can start reviewing my resume; evaluating part time jobs; getting back into the kitchen and cooking for my family; establishing an exercise routine; contemplating the long-term loss of four pounds (then the vanity ten), blogging, creating nearly everyday....

I have a feeling it would be most wise to take baby steps all the way around.  This morning, I'll make a hot breakfast for my son; either oatmeal or French toast for myself.  (P.S, he woke up to the sound of all this clacking.  yay.)  I'll gather ingredients for an awesome dinner salad tonight (because I'm truly craving one). I'll refill the humidifier (thank you, Avastin for bloody noses! I didn't actually miss those!) get the frigging laundry in the frigging wash; play with zee boy and settle my brain on Project 365.

A couple-ish weeks ago, I decided that I missed documenting "the everyday," but have no desire to make 24 scrapbook albums about it.  However, I can grab the camera and fill a P365 album with it all. This is part of what kept me awake at 4 AM; having this proof that "my life" was coming back to me; having this proof that I can move on.  With a decided theme of "365 Days NOT Owned by Cancer," I couldn't decide when Day 1 would be.  When do I officially declare my independence?  On what amazing day do I reclaim myself?

And why do I still think I've got a million days promised to me so I can just pick and choose like that?

So, why not start yesterday?  Why not make Monday, (I LOVE Mondays) July 23, 2012 the beginning of "it all?"

Why not start with this face?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

We're going to need a bigger boat!

That's something I find myself thinking often, "We're going to need a bigger boat."  I DID NOT like that movie, but it gave me one of the best lines of my life.  It applies equally to things, cubic space, strength, available time... Pretty much anything you can imagine, I need a larger vessel to contain as much of it as possible... Except potty training.  I could live a content life without another day of potty training.

Proper use of toilet paper aside, I admit freely that I am a consumer.  I love to have things.  I love to surround myself with good, smart, loving people.  I love to make lists of ideas and projects.  I love a fridge full of blueberries and a pantry shelf of Pop Tarts....*sip* Coffee mugs!  I love to have as many appropriate artsy items as my cabinet will hold.  I love creating lists of videos on YouTube.  I love building the Island of Sodor with Zee Boy -- it's never the same island twice.  And yet...

And yet, even with so many blessings -- so much stuff, so much freedom of space and thought -- I always want "just a little bit more."

There are never enough specialized pieces of track, bridges, high rises, just-one-more-freaking-curve track for the island.

There are never enough teeny tiny friggin Lego pieces to walk on in the middle of the night.

There's always a need for a shade of ink/paint/glitter/mist/marker (Oh, the Tim Holtz markers that make me choke on a price tag!).

There's always a thought that a project needs this fabulous stamped image residing in my mind, or another stencil for the bacground, or another Cricut cartridge (where I again choke on the price tag).

There's always a need for that perfect "boy" paper -- and I'm grateful I use up what I have on hand in the process of pining for more, but....

Cups of coffee end too soon.  I'm thinking of hooking up a restauraunt caraffe in my bedroom -- with a timer to start brewing at 5 AM.

Summer's great for playing outside, but bed time rears up all too fast.

Book shelves are meant to be filled!  Zee Boy has learned (because I've told him) that I will always allow him to pick at least one book if we swing by Barnes & Noble; but I'll hold off on trains and Legos and Power Rangers Samurai Megazords till the cows come home.

You probably got the idea half a mile ago, when I started this post.  There's always room, in my heart and imagination for MORE.  It's a beautiful and frustrating concept to accept.  I think it's on my mind a lot right now simply because I'm actively trying to NOT consume. It's a lot like trying to NOT think of the elephant in the room; but it's there all the same.

The paper is still pretty and sooooooo many different patterns and means to use it.... I have plenty on hand.

The paints and stencils are increasingly on my radar... but not necessary for daily survival.

And stamps!  I don't even stamp, but I "think" I need to amass a baker's dozen right now.

Pop Tarts are carbo goodness, but not actually food.  I don't know what they are, but my body recognizes them less and less as "edible" anyway.

Etsy has some amazing rings and bobbles, but it's a chore to don my wedding ring each day.

There are enough Legos under foot.

There is enough train track.

Zee boy has enough socks.... and underwear... for three weeks at least.

We have our health.... Okay, we all woke up this morning and are able to function as humans were designed.

We have a strong roof over our heads.

Even with the cupboards resembling Old Mother Hubbard's ... we have more than other families.  We are spare.


We are blessed to float in the boat we've been given. 

Perhaps, I should spend a little more time being consumed with gratitude instead.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Ugh! *blink blink*

When you fight cancer long enough, you make some very meaningful friends.  For most of us "Day 1" of each cycle is a long day to be sitting around, doing nothing and feeling sorry for yourself.  I'm actually quite blessed to be surrounded so often by extremely positive people; all fighters as well.  None of us want to endulge in self pity; so we talk instead.  We've gotten to know each other pretty well.  We've even exchanged phone numbers and talked about getting together for coffee.

That was the big plan for one of the women I absolutely adore.  Her name is Carol.  She's a grandmother with spirit and determination to spare.  I admit, I didn't know what to make of her at first.  She had the same cancer as I do; same stage; but was always ready to head out for lunch or shopping once she was done getting chemo that day.  At first, I thought she was just nuts; but I came to admire her and look forward to seeing her every couple of weeks.  When our schedules stopped meshing, I'd ask the nurses and other mutual friends if they had seen her and what she was up to, now.

She and her sister would often make muffins to share with the group.  It took a long time for me to try one -- simple matter of finding the right anti-nausea meds -- but when I did, I could tell you easily how glorious they were.  The last batch I got to try had apples, I remember that.  It will be one of my favorite memories of her.

She hated that she had to stop working -- loved to stay busy and independent!
She must have been crafty because she was always telling her sister they needed to go to JoAnn's later that day.
She loathed her walker and was extra peppy on the days she drove herself anywhere.
LOL!  She hated pants; especially those with elastic waist bands.

I learned yesterday that she passed away a few weeks ago.

I don't know the exact details.  I don't think I need to.  My heart breaks for her family right now.  They, and the world, lost a powerhouse of strength and courage.


Thursday, May 17, 2012

Up and Down the Rabbit Hole

Hello! Hi! Howareya?

Okay, it's been many moons since I've made a post.  Wanna know how I can tell?  Yes, besides checking the date of my last post.... This here new Blogger setup has my eyes wanting to screw up and around.  I can rub my forehead and ask "WHY?!" or I can get over it.

I really did mean it when I last wrote of how badly I wanted to get back to blogging in general.  I'm just trying to figure out HOW to incorporate it into my everyday life.  It seems I've figured it out a bit today.  We can all thank this site and this site.

Why can we thank Scrapbook.com?  They hosted a kick-keester National Scrapbook Day on May 5th.  I was blessed by a good husband and loving MIL (who nabbed m'boy at the first syllable) so that I could participate in the day's activities.  And, I won a VERY awesome package.  It arrived on my doorstep this past Monday:

If you're a lover of crafty goodness, you probably know exactly how awesome this quick pic is.  In the bottom left is an art journal.  I was geeked because, two night prior to touching all this delight, I went down a rabbit hole of artsy/inky/painty/stencily wonder.  I decided I wanted to try this concept of art journaling.  I'm thinking that book was a sign that surely, I must!

And so I have!

This is one of the blank calendar pages in the album.  Initially, I used it to fill in important doctor's appointments, m'boy's school events, etc.  Then, the month progressed, but my cancer treatments did not.

For anyone who is just joining this blog in progress, here's the breakdown:

April 1, 2011, I learned I had stage four cancer.  Donkey balls, I know.
April 8, 2011, I had a plan of attack -- turned out to be about eight months of wicked chemo.
February 24, 2012, I got a brand new purty scar (named her Irene), as they removed the main tumor.
April 23, 2012, I returned to battle the remaining cancer with recommended radiation and chemo.

See that cute lil playing card with the seven?  That's how many treatments of radiation I've received so far.  I'm supposed to have 28.  Had the door never broken for two days; a flood not have wiped out the roads; and my whites and platelets stayed up, I would have received treatment number...seventeen today. 

*sigh*  I feel frustrated; but my doctor's don't.  That's what this page is mostly about.  With the prompt from A Year in the Life an Art Journal; I am trying to remember to bloom where I am planted.  I may have hit a brick wall in my progress.  I may have been told A LOT lately to Regressa, Ud. Manana (Come Back Tomorrow).  Damnit all if I'm not trying to bloom.  Monday, I helped my mother plant flowers around the house -- though not the ones on the page -- pretty salmon geraniums and impatients that glimmer in the sun.  Since then, I've been trying my hand at art.

And now, it is time to get m'boy from school and see what adventures he'd like to take on today.

As always, if you did, thanks for reading.

How will you bloom today?

Monday, April 2, 2012

For the Long Haul

Good Monday afternoon! How was your weekend? Mine was a little interesting. Sunday, April 1, I "celebrated" my first cancerversary. According to spell check, that's not a word; but it's my special day all the same.


I want to start writing about my journey with cancer. It won't be every post, but on occasion, I want to share what I'm learning -- technicalities and human aspects. Unfortunately, every time I start, I create something that I wouldn't want to read. That's frustrating.

I don't want to make people sad. I want to educate and inspire. Getting the words started, seems to be a tricky thing to do.

Maybe I'm just out of practice with writing overall? Possibly.


No matter, I wanted to write personally today. I wanted to write about being healthy AND fighting cancer at the same time. I'm sure it can be done; but I often have a hard time MAKING myself try. Just because one undergoes chemotherapy does NOT mean they can't make smart food choices and be active. In fact, it's one of the first things that was reinforced during my orientation a year ago.

*The toxins will dehydrate you -- drink LOTS of water.
*Eat a healthy breakfast before you start each cycle of chemo -- it helps keep your strength and (as I learned) it may be the last time you actually feel like eating for a few days.
*Fruits, veggies, lean proteins will be best for you -- they are premium fuel for your body. Think about how you feel, perfectly healthy, when your blood sugar drops, or the caffiene runs out. Also, some cancers and chemotherapies create a diabetic situation for the person.

All of this makes perfect sense; and yet I find myself in moments of eating out of some warped sense of entitlement. "I'm fighting cancer; that sucks. Ergo, I deserve these three cookies and a can of Coke.... Pie is the breakfast of champions.... Taco Bell is good for the soul."

Compound that with tastebuds being out of whack for a few days. Your favorite foods might not taste right; but the strong sugary and salty flavors ring true.

Compound THAT with emotional eating; because I'm still a Mom and seeing a play room covered in toys grates a nerve..... That's French for, "I just had a handful of Goldfish crackers, a chocolate chip cookie and a few sips of Coke about ten minutes ago."

Dagnabit, hornswaggle!

I can work on that. It will have to be the first, and most important, issue to tackle. It's a matter of setting an example for my son.


And I see where I've hit a wild tangent. How exactly does my title apply to all this mess?

I'm in the process of accepting that I may very well be working da chemo for the rest of my life. I was "okay" with it once, but then I got hopeful and optimistic. I need to let my feet touch reality again. If I'm going to be Releasing the Craken for the next fifty years, I can't keep eating the way I have (on and off) for the last year. I need to understand that this is a big part of my life now. I need to commit to the healthiest me possible. I need to get my butt back in gear.

It's my life.

How do I really want to live it?

How do I really want to feel?

Friday, March 23, 2012

Hello, Spring!

Good Friday Morning! Happy Spring! Are you having fun, yet? Zee boy and I made the most of the glorious sunshine yesterday. Outdoor play has been long-awaited in our home. Healing from surgery aside, I finally got some workable answers regarding a cough that just won't go away. The current theory is that it's allergies. At first, I was relieved, but not 100% convinced. Then, I waited in a large grassy field to wait for my son to finish his school day. I couldn't stop coughing and my nose turned into freaking Niagara Falls. Okay, I'm convinced! Hand me the Claritin...and my snazzy new (expensive) inhaler.... and the equally expensive nose spray. It's time to play!

Besides, now that the weather is nice, I get bored doing nothing while he's at school. Why not tour the royal gardens with a camera?

Yay! The tulips popped when I wasn't looking! Alas, I needed a rest after that monumental hike (that's really about fifty feet from the house and WHEN will I have my energy back?!).

Later in the day, a little magic happened. My son -- not even five years old -- LOVES to play with the (older) young ladies that live around us. He's been asking for over a week; but their schedules are so crazy that they don't get out until it's time for him to go to bed. Not fair, I know. Magic did happen yesterday. Two of the young ladies came home early and a little bit of play ensued. I can only share the chalk drawings, though, because I certainly haven't asked parental permission to post their faces online and I'm not about to make any parents mad. On purpose, anyhow.

Okay, so I will show my own child. That's Mr. Potato Head. This is actually a HUGE improvement in his drawing skills.

That's some of my handy work.

The neighborhood girls would think something was wrong if I didn't draw a coffee cup -- kind of a tradition now.

Compliments of one of the girls -- a rainbow peace sign that got a little carried away and kinda morphed into a bug.

Happy graffiti.

This was the first time I've seen Zee Boy write out numbers. I was too freaking happy! When he also called it his hop scotch board, I about flew to the moon.

Does it get any better than hopscotch and popsicles?

I think I want to scrap this, but I haven't decided yet. I'm all a flutter, waiting to head out for the bowling field trip.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Inspired by Creative Scrappers


You may recall a recent post that had funny-faced fruit. Recently, my son decided to explore the family tree of Mr. Potato Head. Evidently, the tree had a wild branch. On that branch, there's a third cousin twice-removed. Mr. Chinese Container Head. He's a fun guy!

Family trees aside, I've been wanting to make a page. This seemed the perfect opportunity. I used this sketch from Creative Scrappers:

And came up with this:

All paper and alphas are part of the Echo Park "About A Boy" collection.... Yeah, it still feels weird to list my supplies. I still have to tell myself it's akin to siting my source, if I were writing a paper. Plus, I think the red piece has a lot of potential in a variety of projects; I know others might feel the same. Happy shopping if that's you!

Unrelated to the page above, I'm really hoping I'll be able to share another page or two in the weeks ahead. DS has a field trip to the bowling alley. It may not sound like much, but watching 24 tiny tots push balls slowly down the isles is something I don't want to miss. Luckily, my initial blood work looked really positive, so bring on the petri dish! I'll have my camera ready.