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.
And I’m evolving.
A rallying cry from the reluctant hero of Zorgamazoo:
Now, sometimes you lose and sometimes you win,
but my Pop always told me: You never give in!
And if he were here now, I know what he’d say:
Morty, my son, when you’re caught in a fray,
or your travels are tough and the going is rough,
or you’re up to your neck in the slippery stuff,
or say some old robots are on the attack,
then I tell you, my son: You start fighting back!.
Zorgamazoo, by Robert Paul Weston
When Mark lost his job last month, a friend grinned,
“When one door closes, another opens…
Sometimes, 17 others open.”
And it’s been true.
Possibilities have been popping up ever since.
Possible new paths for Mark.
And, surprisingly, hints of possible new paths for me.
Just hints, at this point. Vague invitations that may mean crossroads ahead.
But, several of them.
Open doors (even hints of open doors) are deliciously scary.
I’ve been in a weird place, lately.
Somewhere where I don’t know where I am.
I’ve fallen off my anti-cancer wagons. And then beaten myself up, accordingly.
I’ve slipped into my pre-c self-loathing. And then beaten myself up, accordingly.
I’ve tried and succeeded. I’ve tried and failed.
But we’re alive, healthy and happy. March break is just around the corner. Mark’s employment story looks bright.
And the canal is still open — and perfect. March fourth.
My axillary ultra-sound this morning was perfect.
Huge thanks for the good luck and good vibes that are keeping me healthy.
I was thinking…
Since my ex-cancer took 44 years to appear, I’m not due for more until I’m at least 88.
How about I wait and worry then.
I’m extremely grateful that we’re alive and healthy and happy.
Still, between the upheaval of Mark’s job juggling and health worries for myself and others, I’m feeling pretty run down.
Run down yet sleepless.
It could be worse.
I could actually look like this….
Back in December, I got pretty freaked out about a line of lumps along my right arm.
I fretted. I frenzied.
And celebrated big when I got the good news.
Two weeks ago, I had the long-awaited ultrasound and left to the words “I wouldn’t worry if I were you”.
And I didn’t.
Yesterday my oncologist gave me a cheery call. She’s ordered another look at a reactive lymph node.
Lucky me. More practice at trusting my body. More practice at not worrying.
Pretty soon, I’ll be a pro.
Well, then, Tobias… follow those dreams. Make those dreams happen.
— Tobias Funke, Visiting Ours
Courage is not the absence of fear but rather the judgment that something is more important than fear. The brave may not live forever but the cautious do not live at all.
— The Princess Diaries?
In the first few years after it, Jay and I laughed that our 7650 kilometre coast-to-coast cycling slog had eliminated all chances of future adventure.
Once-thrilling ski and bike tours, tough as they were, left us unfulfilled.
Our bang bar was just too high.
Turns out cancer raised a bang bar of its own.
Mark lost his job Monday.
It blindsided us both.
But we’re all alive and healthy.
We’re concerned, curious and quite run down.
But this challenge, tough as it is, is well below the bar.
I’ve known narrative therapy was a powerful part of my process.
The bliss of boiling ambient annoyances down to their post-sized bones. The giggly thrill of a perfect AD quote. The satisfaction of a finished work.
But, lately, I’ve realized the purging power of pressing Publish. How swirling worries weaken me ’til I release them to the web.
Right now, a post penned Tuesday sits queued for Mark’s approval. Reminding me that pending posts leave issues bigger than life.
A published post provides perspective. It’s one post in 362 (now 363), sitting sandwiched and small. A story. Or, as Sheree says, one stop in the dot-to-dot that is the constellation of my life.
So, thank you, blog, for your healing perspective.
And thank you, friends, for the reason to write.
Well, it’s Groundhog Day… again… and that must mean I’m up here in the frozen north, tip-tapping my keyboard and listening, obliviously, to the intermittent vacation plans and reports of family and friends.
I’m typically teflon to travel tales. But this morning – they’re touching something.
Janice rebuilding in New Orleans. Natalie and Mike asanaing in the Costa Rican jungle. Betti, Kathi and countless co-workers counting down sleeps to the sunny south.
I popped back, this morning, to glimpse my 2010 wood-chuck-chucking self and realized: Hey, I’ve escaped Punxatawney. And I am the woman I wanted.
Now, I’ve got places to go and people to be.
“Every decision you make is one you should be comfortable betting on. If you’re not, you should be making different decisions.”
Julien Smith — How to Waste Your Life (January 2011)
Since the timid travels of my youth, I’ve been happy to leave most geography to pros like Jay, Bill and Janice.
I’ve enjoyed their tales, over tea. Completely glad it wasn’t me. Blithely quenching my “thirst to stay at home”.
Then cancer questioned my stay-put strategy. Thoughts of spots I’d never be — not just because I’m chicken but because I’d missed my chance.
Lately, as I watched one fellow risk-skipper launch into adventure and one adventurous friend prepare to wrap his up, I panicked.
Had I made a huge mistake? Was it too late? Should I max out my visa and see the world?
Then I came across an article I’d written back in 2007. And I remembered who I am.
I’m chicken, yes. But that’s not what’s kept me from exotic adventure.
It’s just not my bag.
I invest in daily, local pleasures. And tame, tasty vacations.
I’m happy where I am.
The joys fear keeps from me are close by. Or internal.
Thanks to this journey, we’re looking forward to a celebratory visit to our Gratitude Statue‘s twin in Apeldoon, Netherlands, in 2014. We’ll enjoy a weekend in Manhattan, this April. And we still hope for whales in the Gaspésie and the Badlands of Drumheller.
In the meantime, we’ll be enjoying our comfortable little radius.
Coka, coka, coka, coh!
I absolutely adored 2010.
We were healthy, happy and together.
We had loads to celebrate. And we celebrated often.
Yet, reflecting on the year, this morning, I was shocked at its rockiness.
Where reactions and reconnections reigned 2009, 2010 was a year of overcoming obstacles. Of attempted relationship resuscitations. Of some painful — yet freeing — realizations. And relief.
It was a year of adjusting to the new me.
And of testing out the me that has been there all along.
As I reflected on 2009 and looked hopefully toward 2010, I never dreamed of the treat I had in store.
And I have high hopes for 2011.
Thank you, 2010. Welcome, 2011.
Some Zigs and Zags of our 2010:
||February 6 (our 11 year wedding anniversary)
Our insurer refuses to honour my critical life and disability insurance claim.
This was a cruel and devastating blow. Not only because they robbed us but after stringing us along for 4 months but because I’d been over-insured for the twenty some years leading up to my leap from Nortel six months before my diagnosis.
And life begins afresh.
We are spared the pain of the long-awaited trial and Keith Ross accepts a Section 810 Peace Bond which prohibits him from having any contact with us for a period of 12 months..
Our world has been peaceful since.
||May 20 (Mark’s 40th birthday)
The perfect storm of physical, financial, parenting and family challenges bring me to my knees.
Yet we survived.
We did it.
I take a first bite at my fear of public speaking.
I’m so glad I did. (Photo thanks to Alexa Clark.)
||June 16-Sept 13
My first summer with my lovelies since Bayla was a newborn.
The most fabulous summer of relaxing, reading, biking and being with my lovelies.
Our long, long, long awaited victory celebration.
Wine, munchies and good, good people.
Back to work.
Two more days a week than I had hoped but simply grand to have an income again.
Scary and thrilling.
We celebrate fifteen fabulous years of Mark Blevis.
Lucky, lucky me.
||Thank you, 2010… Let’s all enjoy a happy, healthy 2011.
All is well.
The doctor assures me that the lumps are absolutely no problem at all. She has a number of theories involving muscle, tendon, scar tissue etc and has ordered an ultrasound, just to be safe.
Yes, I’m a certifiable hypochondriac. And, yes, this very good news is worth the hours of teasing that Mark is currently enjoying.
Thank you for your good, good vibes.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.