The Time of My Life

A year ago yesterday, was my first day back to work. But yesterday, wasn't. Lucky, lucky me. Before cancer, I led a charmed life. And I knew it. I was happy. I was healthy. With two delicious daughters. And a vibrant relationship with a hunky, funky, fun-loving man. We had good jobs. A cozy home. Consuming creative, hobbies. Tonnes of passion. And shared our time with interesting, intelligent, authentic, fun-loving friends. I had stress. And I did torture myself. But I really did marvel at my miraculous life. And wondered how I'd stumbled into it. Who'd have guessed it would get even better. I love my life. Thank you, Mark.

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Looking for Me

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?

Bold. By Default.

One million times I backed out of this jolt. But having publicly announced and collected input for a 5 minute spiel about standing up to fear, it seemed the embarrassment of backing out might actually dwarf the embarrassment of flopping. So I did the jolt. And I'm glad I did. Because life is better when we take bold steps. Thanks to Alexa Clark for the jolt photo.

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Taking Bold Steps.

More than once, I walked home crying. But I made it through my first ever dance class. And I'm absolutely thrilled that I did.

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Baby Steps

Yesterday was the end of term dance recital at our local community centre. What a fabulous show. Hundreds of talented young people filled with energy, confidence, excitement and joy. Even my belly dancing class troupe performed. Did I join them? No. Did I drop out of the class? Yes. And yet watching that 90 minutes of dance just thrilled me. My timid tip-toeing into dance has opened life up. My burlesque is bashful. My belly dancing, a flop. But I'm trying. And, although what I hoped would be an introductory class turned out to be a seasoned troupe, I'm undeterred. I've signed up for five new dance classes. I may never make it into a recital. But, you know, I'm really hoping I do. And that's definitely a whole new me.

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I don't dream of flying, fulfillment or fame. Even my life-long boat, plane and elevator disaster dreams are almost always preempted, these last few years, by the horrid-family-problem theme. But last night I had an absolutely, extremely, wonderfully atypical dream. I dreamed the path I was walking was littered with bills. So many bills, here and there, that I began to leave most of them, stooping only to snag the curled and crumpled red fifties. I didn't feel greedy. Or guilty. Or even thrilled. I felt lucky. Tickled. And I awoke feeling good. It was so out of character, I just had to ask google:
A dream of finding money suggests that the dreamer is becoming aware of their intrinsic value to themselves and others, from a spiritual, rather than a material perspective. It can also indicate a recent success or imminent achievement in their waking life in which their self worth is visibly manifested. Often this dream indicates that the dreamer possesses special artistic or creative abilities that they are in the process of becoming aware of... Dream Message You are worth more than you think you are, and should not feel reticent about taking the chance to prove your value to yourself and others. As you become more aware of your own self worth, you will become more confident at exploring opportunities in your waking life that are to your advantage. (Ian Wallace, Finding Money)
I'm glad I checked.
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On April 14, 2011, after 25 years of full-time employment and with no new position in the works, I quit my job. That evening, I tiptoed timidly into the world of dance. Burlesque, unbelievably. Then celebrated with red wine, Mark and our good friend, Laura. In the six weeks since then, I've turned down a full-time systems analyst position, booked our long-dreamed-of cross-Canada train trip, joined the speaker roster for PAB2011, contributed daily to Mark's new company and endured ten grueling hours of choreographed belly dancing. Sure, I've continued to torture myself with self-doubt, -criticism and -loathing. But I'm better, stronger, happier than I was. I'm alive. And I'm evolving.


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