In January, 2009, I was a busy woman. A stressed-out Nortel software designer. A hard-working mother to 7 and 9 year old girls. A passionate kidlit advocate publishing four podcast episodes a week.
I exercised tonnes. I moved fast. I hardly slept.
In April, 2009, after 26 years of systems analysis, programming and design, I leapt to a short-term technical writing position. I’d never identified with my occupation but without my high-stress, high-tech job, I did kind of wonder who I was.
But I was Andrea Ross of JustOneMoreBook. I was creating stuff. Life was exciting. And the twenty-minute walk to my cushy tech-writing job was lovely.
I was fine.
In September, 2009, in midst of that six-week diagnostic stress, I kicked our beloved podcast to the curb. Before that identity loss had time to hit, I’d been diagnosed with breast cancer.
Thus began another busy year.
In September, 2010, I returned to my short-term technical writing position. But the pointlessness, plodding pace and poisonous co-workers soon put an end to that too. On April 14, 2011, I quit. Ending almost 30 years of constant full-time employment.
And here I am. No podcast. No job. And two tween-age kids who consistently resist me.
I could cook or clean. But I don’t.
I could get out and do stuff. But I can’t think what.
I know I’m lucky.
Now, who am I?
A healthy, happy husband
(and fabulous, free health care)
Huge thanks for your good vibes and for our good fortune.
xo xo xo
Here’s where it all began. Where Mark and I met for our very first date.
That history-making, mega-foamy latté.
I snuck in the back door. De-toqueing and de-snowing myself, unseen.
Mark faced away. Tall, wiry, and newly goateed.
There was a table here, then. Several tables. It was Vittoria Trattoria and I’d been lining up regularly for breakfast, coffee and pesto pasta since long before the tables had arrived.
Collecting memories of the twenty-something me.
In the fifteen and a half years since that first date, we’ve enjoyed breakfasts, desserts, lattés — and then burgers, bruschettas and goblets of wine — here. I’ve tipped baby Bayla upside down to dislodge solids. We’ve celebrated report cards with Luba. We’ve been silly with friends.
It’s where we rang in Mark’s forties.
Today it sits empty. Awaiting rebirth.
And we’re watching. Just like that twenty-something me, peeking past the papered windows, exactly twenty years ago. Hoping its rebuilt self is friendly, affordable and fabulous.
We’ve got lots more great memories to make. We’d love to make some here.
Tomorrow is Mark’s long-awaited surgery.
Beaming happy healing vibes for a caring, capable team, a smooth and successful operation and Mark’s swift, smooth, permanent recovery.
I love you, sweet. Looking forward to the beginning of your new pain-free chapter.
Past, Present and Future Fun.
Landscape photos thanks to ecstaticist, BugMan50 and naserke.
Second, and third, and nth chances.
Yesterday, was frustration. I guess I should say, I let myself be frustrated.
One small effect, and propagating cause, was the absolute blackening of this pot. Followed by my many frantic, frustrated, fruitless attempts to boil and scrape through the thick, stuck, edge-to-edge char.
Turns out time, rest and water did what no amount of swearing and straining could.
And that’s just one of the many nth chances I’ve been treated to today.
I am grateful for each one.
Now to treat myself to some of the same.
The weekend Lucy turned ten, I found that lump. Fully dressed, amidst Lucy’s festivities, some tingling vibration drew my fingers. And there it was.
With a puff of cold steam, a new world was born.
Today, Bayla turned ten. Twenty-two months later.
Today was a good day.
Lucy and Bayla spent most of it on their own together, being tweens: browsing their favourite shops, doing each others’ nails, exploring Bayla’s new DSI, painting pottery, strolling down to DQ to split a Blizzard.
And we ended the day with the end of Harry P. In 3D.
Today I did a lot of thinking back ten years. And back two years. And looking ahead.
Looking forward to many happy years of great memories behind and ahead for us all.
And feeling very, very grateful.
Ten years ago today, our beautiful Bayla was born.
Thank you, Bayla, for sharing your sunny bubbles, your spunk, your music, your cuddles, your wit, your perspective, your art, your ideas, your passion, your love. And thank you for your bullheaded determination.
I love you, my baby sweet.
Wishing you many, many, many more years of happiness and good health.
Last night, online, a friend mourned a friend. And sent ripples across the net.
Today, over wine, a friend mourned a lost pet.
And tonight, a stranger’s hug soothed my own silly tears.
People are good.
I am grateful.
My bad mental habits get loads of space. Here, and in my head.
But I have good habits:
- I’ve all but eliminated sugary treats (19 mos).
- I consume freshly juiced veggies 4-7 days a week (21 mos).
- I get lots of exercise.
And now here’s something we hope you’ll really like:
Me. Resisting the urge to enumerate my bad habits and slip ups.
As our enjoyable BOLO evening ended, last week, my friend Laurie and I sprang to our feet, hoping to dash to the exit before throngs of bloggers clogged our path.
But the packed room was gridlocked.
I shrugged. This would take a while.
But Laurie was dauntless. She raised her eyebrows, smirked and assured me that her “pointy elbows” would whisk us across that floor.
And they did. In a flash we were strolling down Preston — me admiring her finesse. “You’re amazing,” I said, “I stand invisible for ages trying to squeeze through crowds.”
“Oh, me too,” Laurie chirped, “I can only do that for someone else.”
Far. Too. Familiar.
In the wise words of my friend Janice, “Good God woman … Be even kinder to yourself, as you have to live with you.”
Two tier service just disgusts me yet I foist it daily on myself.
So, I’m trying to stop.
Thanks to both women for the reminders.
I must be worth first class self-service — judging by the company I keep.
It is inching towards midnight, one million degrees and humid. We are without air conditioning. Our girls are squirrely and none of us are able to sleep.
So, a cranky post in response to some all-too-frequent insensitive cancer-spam.
I stumbled upon your blog and I was happy to see that you also support breast cancer and I hope you’re doing well. I wanted to share this infographic [linked] with you and your followers, so that we can help to educate and spread the word about the easy preventive steps to combat breast cancer.
Breast Cancer: Get the Facts, ties the importance society has given to how breast look with the lack of importance women have given to their own health. The bra industry itself is a multimillion dollar business and over 400,000 women a year choose to enhance their breasts through cosmetic surgery. And it’s depressing to know that only 65% of women over 40 get a mammogram regularly. We know we all want them to look great, but let’s make sure that they feel that way too.
Will you post this on your blog or Twitter to help women realize how important and easy it really is to prevent breast cancer? Please let me know what you think via, Stephania@flankmarketing.com. I look forward to your response!
- You did not “stumble across” my blog, you went searching for breast cancer blogs
- I do not support breast cancer
- It is not easy to prevent breast cancer
- Isn’t 400,000 women a lot less than 65% of women over 40?
- It isn’t about wanting our breasts to feel great
- I don’t call living 5 years “surviving” [this in response to text on the actual graphic]
- Who is paying you? Mammogram-makers?
P.S. My breasts are tiny yet my mammogram showed no sign of that found-it-myself 2cm tumor.
As if anyone reading this blog isn’t already doing the obvious in terms of breast cancer.
“The first thing to remember is this: as long as you make an identity for yourself out of the pain, you cannot become free of it. As long as part of your sense of self is invested in your emotional pain, you will unconsciously resist or sabotage every attempt that you make to heal that pain. …because you want to keep yourself intact, and the pain has become an essential part of you… [The pain] is the living past in you, and if you identify with it, you identify with the past.
A victim identity is the belief that the past is more powerful than the present, which is the opposite of the of the truth. ..The truth is that the only power there is, is contained within this moment.”
— Eckhart Tolle, “The Power of Now“.
More forgiveness musings here.
Our wedding ring revamp began with a visit to Zeal Metal in May, 2009. We’d chop up and combine our three wedding rings into a fresh, funky set of two.
Disorganization delayed the decision until October 2009.
The weekend before my diagnosis, we decided: If the news was good, we’d go ahead with the revamp. Otherwise, we’d shelve it.
Following my diagnosis, October 2009, we came up with a third option. If treatment went well, we’d revamp our three rings into a set of four. For Lucy, Bayla, Mark and myself. To commemorate. To celebrate.
More than two years later, the project is still in progress. Here are some visuals from along the way…
||June 17, 2009
The diamond is part of the plan.
||March 19, 2011
Ready for remake.
Sans diamond (my teeny diamond disappeared on December 8, 2010).
||March 31, 2011
Spinner ring stamping options.
Lucy chose North-South-East-West. Mark chose tilted. Bayla and I chose spiralling.
||May 16, 2011
||June 10, 2011
All four rings are done!
||July 2, 2011
Back where they belong.
Huge thanks to Nicole Horlor of Zeal Metal.