Oh BOLO Me-o ♫

I had no idea this event existed.

Thanks to my friend, Laurie, I’ll be there.

I hope you will too.

BLOG OUT LOUD 2011
WHERE: The Prescott, 379 Preston Street, at Preston and Beech
WHEN: Thursday, July 7, 2011 from 7pm to 10pm
WHO: 20+ bloggers reading their favourite post from the past year; plus several photo bloggers displaying their art
WHO’S INVITED: Anyone who likes to hear good writing.

Digesting PAB

For the 53 hours since PAB ended, I’ve been squeezing my brain, hoping to shrink the PAB2011 experience down to a blog-post-sized blurb.

My mind, my chest, my eyes are still swelling with swirling ideas and images. Huge laughs, huge smiles, huge buzzing, tingling emotions. Huge gratitude for the privilege of belonging.

This morning, as we attended Lucy’s grade 6 graduation, I realized that the stilted, tension-filled ickiness of that sweltering gym, thick with twelve years of inter-parental encounters, was the anti-PAB. And that helped boil the weekend down to its core…

PAB gets me. It lets me be me when I’m there. And seems to do the same for us all.
PAB’s about expressing, not impressing.
It’s about connecting and creating and stretching and sharing.

It’s a slingshot into life.

Thanks to everybody for the photos (and for the weekend, of course).

More PAB here.

Forget Regrets. Enjoy the Wondrousness.

The world, indeed the whole universe, is a beautiful, astonishing, wondrous place. There is always more to find out. I don’t look back and regret anything, and I hope my family can find a way to do the same.

Derek K. Miller (June 30, 1969 – May 3, 2011)

Thank you, Derek, for your strength, your humour, your wisdom and your authenticity.

Thinking of you, Airdrie, Lauren and Marina. Wishing you healing and many years of happiness and good health.
Love,
Andrea

I’m Reading at CensorFest

Let’s celebrate the power of creative expression — and the freedom to offend — Wednesday, February 23rd 8pm at the cozy, kitchy Raw Sugar Cafe at Censored Out Loud:

Join a motley crew of writers, actors, musicians (including Lisa Poushinsky, Nichole McGill, Jesse DangerouslyMegan Jerome, Jessica Ruano, Mike Essoudry) and nobodies like me as we celebrate Freedom To Read Week by belting out some scandalous — and not so scandalous — censored or challenged works.

Cover: $10 or pay what you can.
Proceeds to PEN Canada.

Hope to see you there.

Related Posts:

Here Comes the 10:15 Conniption, Right on Time

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.

Coo-coo-ca-cha! Coo-coo-ca-cha!

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!

Thank you, 2010

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.

April 1

Chemo ends!

And life begins afresh.

April 22

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.

June 15

Radiation ends.

We did it.

June 21

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.

August 28

Our long, long, long awaited victory celebration.

Wine, munchies and good, good people.
Pure bliss.

September 14

Back to work.

Two more days a week than I had hoped but simply grand to have an income again.

November 25

Port-a-cath gone.

Scary and thrilling.

December 22

We celebrate fifteen fabulous years of Mark Blevis.

Lucky, lucky me.

Thank you, 2010… Let’s all enjoy a happy, healthy 2011.

Happiness Is…

Good Friends and, as it turns out,
Hooping.

When those lumps came to light on Friday, I spun into a vortex of terror.
I wandered like a distracted zombie for the better part of four days.

Sharing my worries here and in real-life has lightened my load but the real sand-blasting of my buzzing brain was thanks to an introductory hooping class.

My spatial ineptitude and lack of co-ordination meant my entire mind was focused on a festooned hoop.

No stabbing cancer scenarios for one solid hour.

And I’ve felt fairly human since.
A drained, dull and distracted human. But a human.

Thank you to Andree for your friendship and for the class.
And thanks to the many friends whose kind words and deeds are helping us through this scary limbo.

Hoping to be shouting happy, happy news on Tuesday.

Creative Collisions

Tonight was the first ever Creator Camp.

I was thrilled to take a dip in creativity soup with quilters, painters, writers, musicians, speakers, photographers, storytellers, bakers. And more.

I was grateful for reminders:

  • to recognize grueling social situations as creative challenges
  • to start small and draw on what we know
  • to notice our creative sweet spots — an empty canvas can be much more inhibiting than a tiny space,  a specific problem or a single missing harmony
  • to appreciate our creativity in its overlooked forms and sizes
  • that creative goals require decision, commitment, scheduling and enjoyment
  • to keep expectations low
  • to recognize creative drought as a valuable time of regeneration and renewal
  • to be present
  • to take ourselves less seriously
  • to create.

And, most of all, I was captivated by the collision of my various lives:

  • Bob, Julien, Bob and Sue, podcasting friends
  • Alexa, who I met in grade 8
  • Louise and Tom, who are currently my coworkers
  • Candice, who I met through a anti-cancer food for web services barter
  • My long lost cousin, Susan.

A truly amusing sliced life stew.

Huge thanks to Louise, Tom, Alison, Sue, Christopher and CC for the thought-provoking presentations and to everyone who made time on a cold midweek evening to share an evening of inspiration.

A Long-Overdue Apology

It hit me during Bif Naked’s un-freakin-believably honest, poignant and entertaining address at the conference last weekend.
And it hit me hard (thanks to you).

With a dramatic roll of her eyes, Bif described how breast cancer had saddled her with the pieces-picking-upping of her inconsolable family and friends. And the survivor crowd gave a massive been-there roar.

With all the whining that I did about inappropriate reactions, complete collapse (well, even the slightest tearing up) was a possible reaction that had never crossed my mind.

I blasted the world with my news as soon as I got it. By email, SMS, twitter, blogs, newsletter, gchat and in person, I shot my message out with faith that the returning vibes would get me through it.

Not a single adult cried. Not even Mark.

And, no matter how scary things got, my close friends and family always shrugged my worries off. And I guess I followed suit.

I realize now, it was not because they didn’t care. It was because they did.

So thank you, my beautiful friends and family, for shielding me from concern.
And please accept my sincere apology for not appreciating it sooner.

Mystery Loves Company

I’m just back from Body, Mind, Spirit: The Canadian Breast Cancer Network’s National Conference for Young Women Living with Breast Canceralmost 48 hours solid of education and encouragement with 340 breast cancer survivors from every province and territory across Canada.

What a gift.

I left the conference with 14 pages of handwritten notes, a stack of books and brochures, and my brain abuzz.

The speakers and workshops were first class, the food was free, the facilities fitting.

And above all of this were the women.

340 women on journeys just like mine.
The lump-finding. The bad news. The pokes, prods and zaps.
The baldness. The isolation. The decisions.
The uncertainty. The losses, the triumphs and lingering impacts.
The crazy mood swings. The shockingly thoughtless comments.

Young families side swiped. With meals to be made and dishes to be done.

I’m back home. But I’m not alone.

Here’s a tiny sampling of my learnings:

  • Newfoundlanders rock. Thanks to Yvonne Jones for reminding me.
  • Cancer cultivates compassion. Thanks to Joy Smith.
  • I need to start each day with lemon water, add ginger to my daily matcha, and remember to eat 2 brazil nuts, 2-4 tablespoons of flax meal, some rosemary and 1 teaspoon of tumeric each day. Thanks to Dr. Natasha Zajmalowski.
  • Love heals. Death and recurrence do not equate to failure. Thanks to Dr. Rob Rutledge.
  • I won’t rule survivor advocacy out of my distant future. Thanks to Ryan Clarke.
  • It’s about time I explored Venus Envy. Thanks to Dr. Sally Kydd.
  • I can do my own lymphatic massage. Thanks to Anna Kennedy and Pamela Hammond.
  • Even a sexy, hilarious, intelligent, compassionate, super down-to-earth rock star feels stupid and isolated when she gets hit by breast cancer. Thanks to Bif Naked.
  • Sleep’s much more important than supplements and therapies. Thanks to Christine Maria Gross.
  • Your honesty reflects your intelligence. Thanks to Carol Anne Cole.

Massive thank yous to 340 strong young women from coast to coast to coast and to the inspiring survivors who put the conference together and shared their wisdom. And thank you to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation for the scholarship that made this enriching experience mine.

I can’t wait for next year!

Don’t take my word for it….Conference talk around the web: