SOMETIMES WE FORGET JUST HOW LUCKY WE ARE

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I spent the first two months of 2014 having every test under the sun, waiting for just one of them to let me know that the two surgeries and radiation I’d had to close out 2013 had actually done the trick and that the cancer was completely gone. Talk about an emotional roller-coaster!!! Hope, fear, frustration, anger, exhaustion and anxiety all formed into a cohesive ball that I carried around in the pit of my stomach. Every call for results was taken with my breath held; my only comfort being that inconclusive results still left room for a happy ending. Finally, on March 6th, I got the happy ending call at long last. I’m not sure I realized how anxious an terrified I had been until the nurse’s all clear sent a tidal wave of joy and elation rushing over me, cleansing my soul and repairing my heart. I wrote in my journal that day, a snapshot of that joy, and I am so glad I did. Reading it reminds me to be thankful on even the bad days and reminds me that I owe it to the universe to live my best life, to be my best me. I am ashamed to admit that there are days forget my own wise advice. I share it with you now, hoping that it might help someone else too.

March 6,2014

Oh that overwhelming feeling as the nurse’s words come through the phone line with a zing, stunning you with their power! Afraid to believe, to move, to breathe, you stand there and question this new reality even as the shackles of fear clatter to the ground, as your mind begins to recognize the truth of the words that your heart and soul immediately heard as freedom and joy sending them soaring to an all-time high. Suddenly your body catches on and, realizing what’s going on, you rocket to your feet, tears streaming down your face and into the phone you utter words of thanks that can’t even come close to your true feelings.

As you repeat the nurse’s words out loud to the faces watching you anxiously with bated breath, they suddenly coalesce into fact. You laugh. You cry. You celebrate. You sob. You hug. Emotion after emotion washes through you, over you, and you know that there will never be just the right combination of words to describe how you feel, not even for the lover of words that you are. You try. You try again. But what you are feeling right now is so visceral that it escapes even the magic of words that has never failed you before. Only your soul will ever truly know the true relief felt as the tower of worry cascades down and dissolves into nothing.

You may have taken a beating, but you’re still standing. You survived, stared down the barrel of the gun, not once, but twice. And you may find that that gun has you in its sights yet again some day. But not today. No, on this day, the world is right. Your children will not be attending your funeral. Your husband will not be left to grow old alone. Your parents can breathe again, their daughter’s life no longer in peril, their hands no longer clutched in prayer as they stand by helpless. Your siblings can come together in celebration with you as four, rather than three together in mourning for you. Your godmother can cease the silent worry that she tried to hide from you even as it was visible in her eyes and in her actions. Your friends and friends of friends who helped you and held you, prayed for you and worried with you,will know it was to heal you, not to ease you on your way to another place.

You can, in this moment, say thank you God for allowing my will to be the same as thy will, for blessing me with another chance to soldier on, fully aware that there may be other battles to come. But here, in this very moment, is only celebration. The ones you love– the amazing family and friends who have walked through this fiery hell with you–will not worry tonight, unsure and helpless to fix this for you. Instead, they can sleep easy, wrapped in a warm blanket of happiness. And you will do the same, knowing that you will wake tomorrow and this will still be real. You will wake in your home with your husband and your children and, although you are not a morning person, you will smile. Because you can. Because here, in this very moment, life is good. You’ve seen the dark side and been allowed to come back into the light.

Maybe the lesson here is that, whatever the good, the bad and the ugly are–I won’t lie–they do exist–But whatever it is that comes our way, we are here. You are going through this moment–good,bad or indifferent–because you can. Because God, fate and the universe decided you had more to give to this world. You may never know why you were graced with this second chance. You may always wonder why you and not someone else. And Lord knows, life isn’t always pretty and sometimes normal is boring and sometimes everyday life is full of drudgery. But on this day–this amazing, wonderful, glorious day–as you celebrate, as the ones who love you celebrate, as it feels like the very earth is celebrating, take a few moments to revel in the love and absolute joy washing over you. Let it soak into every part of you, into the very essence of your soul.

Tuck away pieces of the love, the awe and gratitude into the deepest parts of your heart and soul where, should you need them, they will rise up and heed the call, lighting your way along some unknown future dark path. May you never need their guidance but may their presence alone allow your soul to glow with peace. May the joy you feel this day stay in your heart to lighten your spirit. May the love that surrounds you today stay wrapped around your heart, providing warmth and solace on the dreary days that must go hand-in-hand with the sunny days in any life. May the gratitude you feel today humble you and make you kind to others around you, for you know not what simple words may hurt or heal another’s soul. Hold this moment tight in your hands, close to your heart and allow its memory to shine bright.

You are here. Your heart is singing, your feet are dancing and your soul is flying. And you vow to be, not perfect, but better. To try and remember each day that you are here in this very moment–in every moment–because you can be. Remember how easily you might not have been but for the grace of God. God, fate and the universe smiled down on you today and decreed your life unfinished, no matter how unworthy you might feel. Remember today. Never forget. Then let this second chance empower you to shine your light into the world. Believe you are worthy. Be kind. Be good. Be happy. You are here. And that is worth celebrating. On this day, in this moment, on every day, in every moment.

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RANDOM RAMBLINGS COURTESY OF INSOMNIA

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So I’m sitting here, wide awake on a work night, half listening to Seth Meyers, wondering just how tired I am going to be when my alarm goes off in a few hours, and how much more tired I’m going to feel by tomorrow afternoon when 5:00 feels years away from whatever point of the day I’m at. I hear the clock ticking–although I’m pretty sure the clock in this room is silent and all the others are digital. Imagination is powerful. The responsible voice in my head is telling me to stop with the silly writing and go to bed so I can handle my real job tomorrow. I know the little voice is right but the other side of me wants to know when else I will find time for this side of me. Y’know– in between the soul-sucking job, the running kids to practices and such, feeding the family, laundry(ugh!!), cleaning(double ugh!!) and all those other pervasive, annoying adult responsibilities that must be handled for the world to keep turning smoothly. And so you end up with either no time for the things you really want to do, the things that make your soul happy(writing!! reading!!), or you end up with no sleep. Sigh. It just sems so unfair.

In the meantime, thinking about all this has created a whole slew of questions with no answers—though feel free to fill me in if you have the answers!!!

Why on earth do we spend more time at work than anywhere else?

Who created this ratio of time to life activities? And what the hell were they thinking?!

Why does my lunch hour fly by in the blink of an eye while the rest of the work day drags?

When will our homes be equipped like The Jetsons? Now THAT would save some time–especially if Rosie Robot was dealing with all the laundry!!!

Why, when sleep is so blessedly wonderful, does my brain insist on coming out to play—and coming up with my very best ideas–in the very same hours I should be asleep??

OK. Enough rambling. I’m gonna have to try to sleep for the sake of the afternoon’s sanity. Have a feeling i will just be laying there thinking about more questions for myself. Hope the rest of you are sleeping at least! Till next time!!

The Price

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You take your chances, love on the run

You’re looking for the prize you thought you won

But where you left her-you look, she’s gone

Can’t seem to figure how it came up wrong

She was a sure thing, heart like gold

No way you could lose, always someone to hold

But lonely hearts run wild, two can play this game

Thought you could have it all, feel no pain

Figured you’d make your bets, there’d be no cost

You counted on summer, didn’t plan on frost

Hearts of fire, dreams of ice

You played your game, now pay the price

~K. Michel~

A Dose of Hope and Positivity:Shared from WordPress

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I read the blog post below by Life According to Somebody just a little while ago and I had to share. It gave me a strong dose of hope to close out my weekend! Even with a good weekend, those little voices needed a push back into silence before bed.

I’m sure you know the voices I mean. They are the echoes of the fear and worry you have already felt as you stumbled along cancer’s rocky path. They whisper reminders of all you’ve lost and of the very real possibility of recurrence. They can sometimes feel like evil cheerleaders that just won’t quit, especially at first. You eventually learn to silence them or drown them out or just stop listening, a feat that is always easier on the good days and can feel impossible in the bad. They never completely go away but, time and practice often help us coax them into the furthest recesses of our minds, subconsciously muting their litany of fear and worry.

Hope is a pretty good silencer for those little voices. For that matter, so is positivity. This post eloquently and humbly offers up a good dose of both. I hope it helps you too!!

My Mother Always Said Don’t Judge A Book By It’s Cover. We All Have A Story. – http://wp.me/p5CPHe-cx

After Breast Cancer: Life Is Pretty Good After All

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Nothing like being wide awake on a Sunday night knowing you have to get up in a few hours to inspire the kind of random thoughts that suddenly morph into deep, revealing, epiphany type moments. I had all weekend to do heavy thinking as I cleaned like a fiend. Perhaps it was my mind’s way of shielding me from remembering. It only just struck me that it was exactly four years ago that I met with the breast surgeon for the first time to confirm what the radiologist had seen on my mammogram the week before; to confirm what my gut already knew to be the truth as sure as my heart and mind desperately wanted to be told it was all a mistake. I had just found out I had breast cancer, two tumors in one breast of a particularly aggressive type and a long uphill battle was about to begin.

Four years. Four?!? How has it been that long?! Is that all it has really been? How did time manage to go by lightning quick while also moving as slow as molasses? ! I could swear that happened at least a whole other lifetime ago. Which I guess, in a way, it did because the girl who was at that appointment might as well have been someone else altogether. That girl–the one who was living a pretty good life with a great husband, three kids she adored, a decent(if not very exciting) job, good co-workers, great family and friends and a future that glowed in shades of red and gold as she looked forward to all of the things normal, healthy people subconsciously assume are their God-given rights(raising children, growing old together, retirement, grandchildren…) — might bear a striking resemblance to the one sitting here tonight writing these words but part of her was lost, left floating adrift in the space between then and now. The rosy glow of a future that was assuredly blessed faded into darker shades of midnight on a starless night with no moonlight to show the way through. Hugs and kisses once given and taken as if the supply was endless took on a heartbreaking poignancy as  fear spun shiny webs inside her, fears that questioned whether she would even get to see another Christmas through her children’s eyes and who would hold her husband’s hand if he had to bury his wife and raise their children alone; fears that physically hurt so much just to think that she knew she would never be able to give voice to them lest they become even more powerful. The colors of both life’s most ordinary moments and its most precious somehow became simultaneously so much more vivid and sparkling yet somehow more faded and distant as the mind tried to protect the heart from emotional overload.

That said, while some innocently confident part of that girl evaporated like mist under a summer morning sun four years ago, the one who took her place isn’t all bad. Sure, she’s far more anxious than before and she carries battle scars on her body, in her heart and on her soul. But she’s also far stronger than she ever knew and, oddly enough, she wields hope and faith with far greater dexterity than before. She’s had to pick up the pieces of her heart, her life and her shattered dreams and find a way to put the most important pieces back together while fiercely protecting her children from being hit by the shrapnel breast cancer had sent hurtling through the lives of everyone she loved. After all, it is one thing to tear the lives of grown adults into so many pieces of shredded scrap, but children deserve better than to be forced to wade through fear and worry about the mortality of the person who has been their world since before they were born.

You will never hear me say I am glad I had cancer. Nothing could be further from the truth. Cancer tried like hell to take me out, not once, but twice. And yet, here I am, still standing, still moving forward, still alive with all that I am. Cancer didn’t beat me down and cancer did not win. I may have been changed on a very deep level from the fight but I survived with the best parts of me still intact and I learned a few important things in the process. For those life lessons, I am grateful, for it has made me into a better, stronger person with more faith in who I am and a better picture of what really matters in my life.

Cancer or no, my life has been so very blessed. I have an amazing husband who loves me more than I will ever understand, who gets me and who grounds me when I am heading of into space somewhere on a vessel of possibilities. (apparently that part of me had no trouble sticking around!) I have three beautiful, healthy, intelligent, incredible children who are every reason not to give up on this life and who I adore completely, even when they make me crazy. I am still blessed with a decent job with benefits that matter more now than ever–one with good health insurance and the ability to let me off to recover each time cancer left me bruised and battered. I have come to know that some of my friendships are the kind where you find that they are right there in the trenches with you even after you told them that you didn’t want, or need, any help. The kind who will then tell you “I told you so” as you realize that you are actually glad that they didn’t listen to you but will never hold it over your head. The kind of friends life was made for. I have stronger relationships with my parents and my siblings. I am finally trying to pursue that writing dream I’ve had since childhood before anything else tries to rob me of the chance.

Here I stand, still surviving, still living, four years after life delivered the sucker punch from hell. I may no longer be the same person and, after four surgeries, chemo and radiation, I may be carrying some wicked scars that will always remind me of the price of victory, but I am still inherently me, a little stronger and slightly more jaded, and I still have the things that mean the most to me. It is quite possible that I will always carry remnants of cancer’s shadow with me, and that I will forever cast surreptitious glances at my rear view mirror to make sure nothing is sneaking up on me. Hopefully cancer will never catch up with me again. I will never know when, or if, the other shoe will drop but you can bet that I will go out swinging, fighting ferociously till the very end. I hope that it is a fight I never have to lose but at least i know that my family will always know that I thought they were worth fighting for. I hope that my life will always be governed by hope, faith, love and compassion.

Here I am. I am totally different and so much the same. I remember reading an article in the surgeon’s lobby that day about a woman who survived stage 4 cancer and was alive and well, raising a family, and I remember thinking that God must have wanted me to read it, that it was a message that it would all be okay. Four years later, I am still surviving, still thriving, still living my life in the best way I know how because I can. Because I am still here. Because cancer didn’t beat me. Cancer didn’t win. I am alive, body, heart, mind and soul. It’s a pretty good life after all.

A Loser’s Game

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She’s sitting at home, waiting for you

But tonight you’re thinking of someone new.

You want to feel that one night passion;

A game of roulette, get your chips, cash in.

So you call and say you can’t make it tonight;

You’ll make it up tomorrow–everything’s alright.

And you go on, you’re winning this game;

You get all the pleasure, there’ll be no pain.

But you didn’t hear her voice when she said goodbye:

Do you think she’ll let another lonely night go by?

You’re focused on scoring, picking and choosing;

You don’t know it but tonight you’re losing.

You think she’s sitting at home dreaming of you.

You swear she could never want someone new.

While you were out playing you never heard her cries;

You feel that in love’s game you’re her prize.

So you go on: there’s a game to be played

And you don’t see your prize is slipping away.

She’s out to forget you, whatever the cost;

You think you’ve won, but tonight–you just lost.

                         ~K. Michel~

IN YOUR ARMS

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In your arms

     A world so new I have discovered

     A me I never knew could be

     A happiness I have never known

     A lesson in trust and honesty

In your arms

     There is passion strong and tender

     Moonlight magic and daytime bliss

     There is closeness without a touch

     The answer to my starlight wish

In your arms

     The magic I’d stopped believing

     The touch that stops my heart from beating

     The dream that I thought had died

     The feeling I’d given up on feeling

In your arms