Happiness Is…

Hanging. Twisting. Stretching. Trusting.
Letting go…

I just experienced my first ever wall yoga.

Four students. Two instructors.
Loads of gentle adjustments and narrative.

Pure Bliss.

And to think I only joined as a personal dare.

Thank you Basia. Thank you Natalie.

For the heavenly new addiction.

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Practicing Safe Wrecks

Fear of failure and regret have tortured me my whole life.

The first strangulates me, lest I do something stupid.
The second beats me ruthlessly each time I do stupid things.

Lately, I’ve been lowering my standards. Practicing accidental failure.

Turns out sloppily slipping into failure is the easy part.

The real trick is skipping the resulting regret, disappointment, embarrassment and frustration.
The not beating myself up.

Luckily, I’m giving myself loads and loads of opportunities to practice.

Our Big Little Girls

When this journey began, our girls were barely 8 and 10. In the two years since then, they’ve been through a lot.

They’ve endured peaks of fear, responsibility and uncertainty. Their own and ours.
They’ve been misunderstood and alienated by their peers.
They’ve pushed the limits of already maxed-out and readjusting parents. And endured the resulting wrath.
They’ve even hidden big worries and needs.

Last summer they refused to be separated from us. Even day camp was out of the question.

Yesterday, they bolted from the car to 5 days of sleepover camp. Without a hug, goodbye or backward glance.

They are happy and healthy and they’ve become confident that we are too.

We love you and miss you, Lucy and Bayla. Have a safe, healthy, happy, fabulous week at camp!!

Looking forward to reuniting with you on Friday.

Talk for Walking

I’m always pleased to hear that my blog has reached people. Especially those on their own versions of this journey.

Today, I heard from Alex in London, England. She asked if I had any advice for post-treatment life. I thought I’d share my response here…

Hi Alex,

Congratulations on completion of your treatment and thanks for your very kind message.

Hmmm. Advice for life after treatment? I guess my advice would be: lower your standards, enjoy each day, face your fears, exude gratitude and try not to stress about prevention.

It seems easy to find tonnes of advice on how to try to prevent recurrence and I made a tonne of lifestyle, food, habit changes during my treatment. But the best advice I have for myself (or you) is probably to be good to myself: and that can mean to remember to be moderate about the anti-cancer stuff. Not to beat myself up because I go weeks or months without eating brazil nuts or almonds or ginger or green tea or flax meal. To accept that I drink coffee and red wine etc. That I have the occasional run of late nights.

Oh, and unsubscribe from all cancer blogs! (I do check in on my cancer-friends from time to time, and catch up on their stories, but getting a steady stream of daily cancer-news was not having healthy results for the post-treatment me)

And here‘s a great bunch of advice.

Wishing you many years of great health and happiness.
Andrea

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Ease

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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Encore

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
RazorBill, 2008.

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March Forth

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.
I’ve floundered.

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.

March forth.

It’s just something the body does when you shake it.

Hooping, it turns out, is perfect post-breast-cancer-treatment therapy. Almost.

It challenges my co-ordination, balance and spatial awareness.
It entirely occupies my mind.

Its frantic, erratic arm movements sneak my damaged limb into places I thought I’d left behind.

It allows me to flail and fail without drawing the attention of the likewise intensely occupied others.

And gives me ample opportunity to tame my uber frustration reflex.

It’s brand new, so there’s no kicking myself for lost progress.
It’s great exercise.
It’s fun.

And it’s my first class with Lucy in 10 years.

But last night I discovered the Almost.
Chemo’d chicks don’t spin.
Or at least they shouldn’t.
I discovered.

It’s easy to forget how disgusting chemo was.
Last night’s hoop-induced nausea was a vivid reminder.
Of how lucky I am to be healthy.
And happy.
And chemo-free.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

This Blog is My Pensieve*

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.

*fyi

Everyone’s laughing and riding and cornholing except Buster.

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.

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.