Meandering moods 

My moods have waxed and waned lately. The other day I was in a terrible mood. It was one of those that was just making me feel ugly and I swear it permeated out of me and I just looked ugly too. Which didn’t help my mood any.

I am tired of dealing with the pain and I’m tired of missing out on doing things. Some days I feel like I’m about to burst with being tired of feeling crummy. Add life’s doling out other stuff like my daughter being in two car accidents in one week you could understand why I might get moody     .

But it’s not who I want to be.  We are all allowed our moments but I don’t like those moments to last. I don’t want to put negative energy out into the world. Don’t  we have enough of that? I feel like we get back what we put out.  I will tell you that it’s not easy to put out good stuff when you feel crappy.

I seem to find a change in my down spirit when I go looking for positive things. I know it’s bad when a baby goat on Facebook  doesn’t make me laugh. When I get like that I know I’m craving nature. The real kind -like me being out in it. And that’s not always easy now BC of the pain. But when I want something I somehow will figure out a way to do it.

Walking has become important to me. I know that if you keep moving you keep moving. So I keep moving. Even if I don’t want to. If I have to I take pain meds and I go. Pulling in the elixir that nature freely gives lifts my mood most of the time.

When my mood is up I am vastly aware of all the good things in my life. I see how one small area of pain can turn gold into ash. It’s all perspective. And some days my perspective will be positive and others not so much. I am only human.

I keep looking ahead to better days. But I don’t want to waste the days in the present. Waiting is fine but we need to live while we wait.  So I do what I can. I live the best I can. I try hard. Sometimes I’m just tired.

I have another surgery April 21. I am optimistic that my surgeon can help much of the pain. I’m grateful to have found a doctor that is so dedicated to helping woman with post breast therapy pain. Multiple surgeries aren’t uncommon in this group. In the waiting room on one visit I met a woman who was going through her 19th surgery. The third with my surgeon. We exchanged contact info and we are in touch and she joined the Facebook group for post breast therapy pain that I am in.

On that same visit I met Mary. We had “met” online on that same Facebook page a while back. It was fate that we had appointments the same day. Mary and I suffer from the same pain areas and we lament to each other. It feels good to connect with people who are living what you are living.  You don’t feel so alone. When I left the surgeons office that day I felt happy.  Even though I felt crappy. I like days when I can feel happy and crappy at the same time.

I think about what I’d like to do when I feel better. How I’d like to help others. I want to share this story with others. If I could save a person one less closed door, one less doctor telling them their pain isn’t real , or that it isn’t from the cancer treatments, – I’d feel so great. This story may always be dynamic but i know I have circumvented the system and I know that can be of great help to others

There are other things I want to do to help others. I might be able to do some. Some I might not. We will see.

I also want to do things for myself that I havent been able to do for some time – ride my horse, paddle a kayak, swim , lift weights, do laundry (ok that’s a stretch) , cook(sometimes), and spend time on the beach just being.

See what I mean about living in the future? I thinks that’s ok but I want to live here and now.  I want to make now the best it can be under the circumstances and sometimes it takes a lot of effort to that. I have learned to be resilient over this last nine months. I have dealt with pain, surgery, loss and grief and more pain. I am strong. Even in my worst moments there is something inside of me that wants to keep going. Thats been a beacon during some of my hardest days. That little niggle of strong.

Today we have been pelted with a snowy rainy mix and I want to take a walk later to see how the sun hits the snow on the trees. Maybe I’ll get some photos.

Right now I’ll share some beauty from my walk the other day. I decided to walk into the cornfield.

I hope I am putting out some good chi. I’d sure like to get some back.

A glimpse of the lane along the cornfield.

Pine trees at the edge of the field

Sunset looking at the back of our little farm.

Winter cornfield.

Another look at the back of my farm. I didn’t get rid of the orb. Kind of liked the vibe.

Cornfield selfie

Thoughts on busy-ness

Whew long time no post. I actually wrote this post a week ago but didn’t have time to edit it- how apropos to the topic of this post! —

Kevin, my husband, and I were chatting recently and he said something that made me think.

“When I talk with people I rarely ever tell them anymore that I’ve been busy because it seems like everyone is busy and my being busy isn’t more important than there busy ”

Well…wow – that’s true I thought to myself. Then I began to do a self check  as I do when someone says something very smart -do I push my business out there in convos I asked myself-and by goodness gosh I do. Because I’m freaking busy. Like so busy that I forget all the stuff I did in a day and sometimes even become paralyzed with all the stuff I need to do. I’m so busy that I’m taking time to write this in the car in a traffic jam inYork PA as we drive back from helping my mom because when I get home I’ll be too busy or tired to write. But Kevin’s is right we are ALL busy and my busy does not trump your busy.

I need to stop putting my busy in other people’s face.  Unless I want to vent a little. Venting feels good.

So now I wonder am I busier or has middle age just made me more aware and less resilient than when I was young?

When I was young I could get up and head to work after being out late the night before – I could work a full day and then go home walk my dog and head to the gym and maybe even go out again to meet some friends.I used to drive back and forth to the beach in a day -I baked in the sun in-between.  I took night classes for my MBA after work. I never got an MBA -I got married and then things got super busy.

Why do I feel so much more busy now? Perhaps it’s because I have others to worry about -kids, husband, aging parents. I manage their schedules, I worry about their health, their grades,college possibilities(I have a whole other post just about that), I drive people around. And I work. It’s insane and maybe my menopausal brain can’t process it all as well as my younger brain could.

I’m in the the middle of life- middle age. Nobody warns you that being in the middle isn’t only the sagging body and wrinkles that seem to come overnight. We are often caring for growing children and caring for aging parents. We often work full time while juggling the other stuff. Nobody warns you how that can keep you up at night and super busy during the day.

But isn’t our world just busier overall? Or is just my view of it that has changed?

Middle age, oldster, youngster.  We are all busy. My own daughter works two afternoons a week and one day on the weekend while going to cosmetology school while she still taking her high school courses.  She is busy. I don’t remember being that busy as a teen.

Sometimes I think the technology that I love so much makes us that much busier BC we have so many things that can be done right at our fingertips. Just take the app Yelp. Awesome app. But if I want to find a restaurant near where I am or going I can just look on the app but lo and behold the app shows me lots of restaurant choices and then I need to read all the reviews. In the olden days I may have asked a friend for a recommendation or I may have just stopped at a place that looked good. Now I get out the app and check how many stars a place has. I leave nothing to chance and I spend lots more time making sure I choose just the right restaurant. I love (many emoji hearts) my smartphone but you get what I am saying -yes?

Let’s face it, we all are on the busy train going somewhere. Until we aren’t.

Sometime in our lives we might actually miss the busy because we can’t physically get on that train anymore. I have been derailed a time or two temporarily. When I had cancer and was getting treatment life as I knew it kind of stopped. I had to limit my focus on my health and my family and my recovery. Other stuff had to take the back seat.  I began to miss the things that I had fretted about before. I saw things in a different way. That being busy may be stressful but being unable to be busy is also stressful.  As I recovered I was so happy that I began to have the endurance to be busy. I thought I would be able to temper my busy with my new look on life that having a serious illness can give a person. But no – I seemed to have jumped back on that busy train – it can suck us in so fast.

There needs to be a balance – I suppose- and I look hard to find it. I do know that when I get overloaded with things my mind sometimes goes inert. I become unable to do anything unless I break each thing down into smaller tasks. Or I delegate something to someone else. Maybe this is a good thing. This inertia. It at least gets me to realize I need a break.

Busy isn’t going to stop I am afraid. So maybe there is a way to enjoy it whilst in the middle of it.

All of us need to take some time to unplug and breathe. Spend time with the family if you aren’t so sick of them BC you’ve been driving them all over or picking up after their messy selves. Read a good book. Or binge watch a show. I know that is not unplugged in its true sense but for me it’s a distraction from my own crowded mind. And there are so many great shows to watch- yes?

I even try to meditate but thats a work in progress for me. I have read how good that is for cancer survivors and I maybe a good way to still my mind. Oddly, for the months that after I completed my cancer treatments I was able to sit still for long periods and just be. Maybe this is as close to good meditation that I will ever get. Time would go by and I would just be sitting…sometimes at the end of the bed and other times at my desk. I would lose track of time and an hour would be gone. It was rather strange. Unfortunately this was during a time that i was frustrated that I could not tolerate busy at all. I was tired out from the treatments and I became depressed as well. Which is not uncommon after cancer treatments I have since found out.  I would become tired and overwhelmed after doing just a few things. So my ability to just drift into some zone wasn’t as much as a blessing to me as a curse back then. Sometimes now if I am tired i can get into that zone- but again I lament about wasting time and not getting things done.

I am sure some of this sounds familiar especially to women.  We want balance and when we go to take a breather – we often feel guilty.  I am trying to learn my limits and allow myself to take some time out of the busy. I actually appreciate the busy more when I give myself that break.  Right now I am finishing this post sitting in my mothers sunroom. Its so quiet. I hear the faint sound of traffic outside and my golden’s soft snores. I came for an overnight with my husband to check on my mom but these visits have also become a welcome break from the home-front for a day. I can get a moment to breathe and then go back recharged to my busy life.

I really want to appreciate my moments even the busy ones because I have the opportunity to be busy.

So I’ll try not to tell you how busy I’ve been unless I need to vent once in a while.

My busy doesn’t trump your busy and really now that I’ve written all this stuff about busy – I realize busy isn’t bad at all. Being busy can be a gift. We just need some balance.

It’s always something….

gildaThe new year really came in like a steam roller for my family. From the loss of my father-in-law in late December to some issues with my teens to my mom’s back surgery which came just before a blizzard which drove me from being able to stay to manage her care post-op to getting home to deal with two and half feet of snow that hit our area and kept my kids out of school for a week – it has been an eventful new year thus far.

What a difference a week makes. Here we are post blizzard and the roads are cleared, the snow is melting and the kids are back in school (thank God).  My mom has been moved to a rehab hospital in Lancaster, PA where she is making good progress towards regaining strength and mobility. It is a slow process but she is in a very nice facility and seems to be comfortable there. The next road for us is to find a place for her to live in Maryland near us as we would like to have her down here before June. So that means a lot of research and visiting places. Not to mention the packing up and decluttering of her home in PA so we can get that sold as quickly as possible.

I am again reminded by my friend Donna – “It’s always something” – a quote she sent me recently from the beloved Gilda Radner playing Roseanne Rosannadanna.

It is always something.

I remember when I saw the slogan “Shit Happens” years ago on a bumper sticker on some car someplace. I remember thinking how funny that was. But I don’t think I realized how true that was at the time. Shit had happened in my life but up until then the crap hadn’t really hit the fan. As we age shit really does happen and some of us get a lot of shit and some of us are luckier and we get less. But it Happens. What a wise quote – it grows with you – and we aren’t alone because everyone has shit happen! It is comforting in a way – yes?

It really comes down to how we handle it all – right? Some days we want to put our heads under a pillow and not face the day, sometimes we long for a bottle or ten of vodka so we can drink ourselves into oblivion and forget the shit that surrounds us. Other times we stand with mighty fists trying to face down our shit and other times we plod through just trying to get to the other side.

It is always something – it is always going to be something. And that really stinks when you think about it. But it is what makes life life. We are just always trying to deal with – or duck – the shit. Sometimes there are things to be learned from these events and sometimes they are just things to get through- maybe in the end we are wiser,stronger, more grateful, more loving, or we have an epiphany and sometimes maybe we are in shell shock for a while. I was in shell shock after my cancer battle- it took a while to make my way back to feeling like I was living life not just getting through the day. Maybe sometimes we get through but we are left with questions. I know I sometimes just have endless questions and I drive myself crazy with the asking because sometimes there are no explanations.

For me what gets me through the hard times is faith. Orange slushies and wine are a help but my faith in the fact the someone wiser and greater than I has my back is what I cling to when crap hits the fan. (I know some are reading this and wondering how I can write about my faith and crap in the same sentence- well it kind of feels good. And both are part of my life).

Faith may seem cliche’ to many and maybe it isn’t the go to for all of us. Faith is an important tool in my “dealing with life” toolbox. Sometimes when I am drowning in crap I forget to rely on my faith- it is when I am feeling so lost and like nothing will give that some little niggle comes into my head that reminds me that I have a wonderful God watching my back. I may not like the circumstances I am in and I may not get the outcome I pray for but faith is what calms my waters. We all should have some type of go to.

Whats gets us from one end to the other of this life- where it will always be something- takes a good amount of strength and hopefully a sense of humor (and hopefully a go to) because it is so much more fun to laugh than to cry. Have you ever had a good cry and then it pivots into a laugh – maybe bc someone said something silly to try to cheer you up or you are in the midst of a good cry and your dog farts and you have to laugh or urn to another room? It really is so weird – this life. That we can ball our heads off one minute and then snicker like a ten year old in the next.

This life – it can be ugly and depressing and scary and sad and it can be so joyful and gorgeous and silly and light- there is crying and there is laughing – sometimes life is faith and crap in the same sentence. Life is amazing…

and I am grateful for it….well maybe not the crap part…but the rest is pretty cool…

 

 

 

 

 

On loss and friendship

Recently my friend, Debbie, lost her 21-year-old son, Roma, from a fall off a ladder. It was a shocking thing to the many people who knew him and his family. It is one of those things that is hard to wrap your mind around when it happens. A young person who seemed to have a long life ahead of them doesn’t get the chance.

It is more than sad. It is devastating.

My heart broke for Debbie and her family. It is a parent’s worst nightmare to bury a child. I wept for their loss and for a life that won’t get to be lived. I wept when I thought what if that had been me. I wept because imagining the loss of my own child upset me.

How does one survive that? —I am not sure.

I have always been inspired by Debbie’s very loving spirit and strength and her deep faith in God. She has helped me during our friendship more than she may even know. In her time of grief I want to be a comfort to her. I have been thinking about how best I can do that.

Words of sympathy, anecdotes, and many pictures have been pouring onto her Facebook page. She told me they were comforting for her. But I imagine as the days after the funeral creep on and other people get back to their lives these things might quiet down some. This is the time that I hope to be helpful.

Sometimes when a tragedy happens such as this we may find it hard to know what to do. Some people may distance themselves because even talking about the loss of a child is too painful even for the one who might be trying to provide comfort.

I can see that. But I knew her son…not well but I knew him – and I knew him better because of how she shared him with others. Her son was adopted and she wrote a book about her journey to adopt him. She also had a blog where she often wrote about him and then recently she wrote an amazing story of how they found his birth family in Russia.

But the best sharing we did was together in our conversations. I also have a son who is adopted and who was having some problems. She not only helped get support for me and help for my son she listened to me talk (vent!) about my fears and worries for my son.

When she spoke of her son -who had also had some challenges during his teen years and had just seemed to turn a corner before he lost his life- she spoke of him always with love. She never lost hope for him. She had such compassion and care for him despite the frustrations and fear she also had for him. She is an inspiration to me.

So from all of these conversations I had with her, I learned about him and I learned a bit about compassion (and I have tried to emulate that in my relationship with my own son and others).

Things with my son had become difficult. It stressed the entire family. Kevin and I tried to get help for him and tried to let him learn through natural consequences. It was really taking its toll on me. I wanted to make him right. I saw his potential even if he couldn’t see it.

What I learned from Debbie is that we can guide with love and though we hurt terribly to see them falter or have to learn the hard way that we can just love them.

Debbie has written in her own blog that things got better for her when she realized God didn’t intend on her to fix Roma- only to love him. Reading her words was a changing point for me. I still have my moments of anger and sheer frustration but I am better able manage that and I try to see my son through the eyes that Jesus would have seen him through.

If anything comes of Roma’s death for me is that it puts so much of life with my own kids into perspective. I realized after I heard about Roma’s death how so many things I got upset about with my kids really didn’t matter. That what really matters is to love them.

And these are the things I can talk to her about. What she gave me and what her son gave me through her. Perhaps this will be a comfort.

Sometimes words aren’t needed though. When I got cancer I know that some people really didn’t know what to say. And that is ok. Some of the nicest things I got from people were simple cards. I loved the Bible quotes and sometimes little pictures. Sometimes just a few words of encouragement – “good luck today” or “I prayed for you today” were just the thing I needed at that moment. It doesn’t have to be a dialogue.

When my friend died last year of thyroid cancer I had no words except “I am so sorry” and how many times was I going to say this? So I stopped saying it. Instead I posted pictures on her face book page of my photographs. In fact, I did this in her last weeks of life. I had no words then so I would take a photo for her and attach an encouraging quote to it and post it on her page. I wanted her to know I was thinking of her and I hope in some way it was comforting. Posting on her page after her death was perhaps more of a comfort to me but maybe it made someone else feel good that saw it.

With Debbie, I hope to provide some comfort in these ways. The other night my family was out to dinner at a local Italian restaurant and I looked up at the décor on the walls and I noticed a wall clock and under the clock was the word “Roma” – her son’s name. I had my daughter snap a picture and I posted it on her Facebook just to let her know I was thinking of her and of Roma.

I hope to get together with Debbie after the holidays. I told her I wanted to come over and chat about Roma and maybe have a glass of wine. I want her to tell me more about him if she feels like it. I want her to cry if she feels like it. I just want to be there for her. I want to do what I am not always great at- just listen.

I think having had cancer was a huge turning point in my life.  One of the most important things I learned was what a gift it is to just have someone listen to you. My husband who is a great listener became a sounding board for all my fears and angst and anger and depression. He listened with love.

I had a few friends who had been through breast cancer and they were the ones I went to when I had a question or just needed to vent. It was just good know they were there. I didn’t always need words – I just needed ears.

And then there was the touch. During some really bad days hugs really helped. Kevin hugged me fierce. He caught my tears. I have not always been comfortable hugging on people. I didn’t grow up in a huggy family but over the years I have grown to be more of a hugger. So sometimes when I am in doubt of my words I hug. It brings connection and human touch is one of the most comforting things.

When I was in the hospital I was rolled into rooms prior to my surgery for icky procedures – my husband was often banned. He was my resident hand-holder and when he wasn’t there I just grabbed on a nurses hand for comfort and I told them it was a comfort. They were more than happy to lend a hand – pun intended.

So when in doubt of consoling words I hug or I hold a hand. I watched my friend the other day get hundreds of hugs. I bet she was tired but she told me that day that she and her husband really “felt all the love” from everyone…not just the days of the funeral and visitations but the days just following his death.

We all struggle with these things I think sometimes. We are lost for words. But it is ok. Any gesture that is from the heart is ok. It comes out of love. And that is a gift.

The loss of a child has got to bring unimaginable pain and sorrow. I can only imagine and I don’t like to – the imagining hurts. I feel such sadness over the loss of Debbie’s son Roma and such sorrow for her pain. I want to be present in my friend’s life- I don’t want to back away because I just don’t have the words or out of fear that I will make her cry because I do or say the wrong thing. I just want to her to know I care. I know I can’t make her grief go away but I hope to give support during it. It is all I have but I give it with love.

Debbie said it took a village to raise Roma. I know the village will be there for her and her entire family in their grief.

 

Debbie’s Author page here.

Photos courtesy of Debbie Michael

 

Rest In Peace Roma- though your mom says Rest and Roma don’t go together!

 

 

 

Dogs and Me-thoughts on my love (and need) of dogs. 

Last week our PitBull mix Reese got into a fight with my Old English Sheepdog Ridley – our newest edition to our home. The dogs had come in from outside where I had just watched them playing. The dogs seemed pretty rambunctious and I don’t like that in the house so I was going to put them back out but decided to give them some leftover apple first. I stood up with a plate in my hand and the dogs ran over and never quite got settled (they need to sit to get any treat). In a split second 2 year old Reese was going at Ridley who was doing his best to protect himself. Reese who is smaller but much stronger than 11 year old Ridley pushed him to the ground and had a hold of his next above the ear and he wouldn’t let go. Ridley stopped fighting and was whining. It was very scary.

I was able to get Reese to release his hold – my son had the mind to grab the water spray bottle we keep handy – he sprayed and I tugged at Reese. He let go and I threw him outside. I went out and yelled at him and chased him with the spray bottle more bc I was so mad than it being any important correction. But I think I made my point – but it was very upsetting to me. Thankfully Ridley had only a minor cut behind his left ear.

Ever since the altercation over a week ago -things have been quiet between these two. A couple days after that event Rudy took his turn getting after Ridley too. No damage was done to either dog and I did correct Rudy and gave him time in solitary – away from the pack. They all seem to have moved on.

Since the first event, I have been quite off kilter and not as relaxed when my dogs are all hanging together as I usually am. I feel like I am waiting for the other shoe to drop. This is not really like me. These altercations were clearly tiffs and the dogs have seemed to move past them. Why can’t I?

I realize it is my issue not the dogs. I have been doing a lot of thinking about it.

I have mentioned before that some of my reaction is likely comes from some Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD. PTSD from my own life which probably is what drives me to want and need dogs in my life, and then the post traumatic stress that has caused such a strong reaction to the fight which derives from the time last year when my husband, Kevin, was bitten by another sheepdog we had adopted. We had him 4 days and the dog attacked my husband without warning – severely biting him multiple times. This landed my husband at the urgent care (in hindsight we should have gone to the ER) and he became very ill due to the infection he ended up with from the bites.

It was a scary event and one that could have been avoided had I never agreed to take that dog in the first place. I knew he had bitten the foster person. Though it was downplayed I should have had a much bigger red flag on that bit of information. I ignored it bc the desire to get another sheepdog into this house was greater than my red flag meter.

I think I was very affected by the attack on Kevin and I wasn’t sure I would ever adopt a dog again. Though this is what we do so I could only stay away from getting another dog for so long. I have carried a lot of guilt and fear away from that incident, which I am sure, played a part in my reaction to the fights between my current dogs.

Kevin reminded me the other day that when we chose to add another dog to our pack we stir up the dynamic for a time. He is right. I need to remember that dogs have their own hierarchy and though over three weeks had gone by since Ridley joined the family, things are still getting established in their dog world.

We can’t ignore the fact that Pit Bulls have been bred for fighting and their reactivity to challenge is well known. They can be fierce and scary when they decide to fight. Deciding to have a dog with Pit Bull in them is not for everyone. When we decided on getting Reese we felt confident that we could handle anything that came up. Had we met Reese after the dog-biting incident I can’t say for sure if we would have adopted him. I may have been too nervous. But maybe that would be the fear talking and I don’t like to bend to fear.

Dogs have been an integral part of my life for as long as I can remember. But recently, I have been thinking more about this and have realized that in my childhood dogs represented calm for me. Psychiatrists have said that dogs are very important to children who are leading complex and difficult lives. I realize now why I was so drawn to them from such a young age. To this day I have a dog near most of the time. I have a dog curled at my feet as I write this piece.

I grew up in a chaotic household. Not normal chaos – the dysfunctional kind. There was yelling and fighting. Our family dog, a black and white cocker spaniel mix named Inkspot-became my friend and she calmed me. If things got too loud in my home I would hide in the closet and Inky would sit with me until it felt ok to come out.

I am realizing now that so much of my life even in adulthood has been about chaos or post-traumatic stress and dogs were the medicine to comfort me.

My need to have multiple dogs in my life has been to fill something that I didn’t get in my childhood. A sense of stability and of calm and order – a need to give to living things what I did not have. We get dogs for all kinds of reasons but rarely think about them. Thanks to Reese, I am thinking about them.

I have always been drawn to saving things. This primal need must come from my childhood. The trainers know it is rarely about the dogs, it is always about the people. I felt unsafe for much of my life. When you feel you have saved something you feel like are saved as well. It is healing. The more I do it, the more I heal. In a way I know this is selfish, but it is good and feels good to me and good for me. And the dogs benefit too. So it’s a win/win.

I got into rescuing dogs by accident. I hadn’t considered rescue back in 1992 but I just happened to hear about Greyhound rescue. I felt this instant need to help. Probably my first jump into rescuing a dog was not well thought out. I got into it on a whim and thankfully that breed worked out.

I have had dogs in my adult life for 25 years. I have had at least two dogs for much of that time and I have up to six living with me. That’s not for everyone but it is something that I feel is right for me. My husband shares this passion, and that is important. In a marriage, you can’t do this alone. In that time I have learned a lot. One thing I do know for sure is that you cannot ever think you know everything. Dogs are animals after all and they will act that way and sometimes it will take you by surprise.

I remember as a kid when our Lab Sam killed a squirrel in our backyard. My brother thought it was cool – I was sad for the squirrel and my mom was horrified. We don’t want to see the primal side of our animals. We try to teach them to live with us in a civilized manner and for the most part they do this agreeably and I am sure the fact we provide them food and shelter is a good motivation.

The best thing we can do for ourselves is when getting a dog rescue or from a good breeder is to look at the type of dog you are considering and learn about the temperament.

In our case with Reese we really liked him. He was just about 4 months old and pretty darn cute and we had some connection to him. We didn’t really chat about the fact he was part Pit Bull until after we put an application in on him. We knew the good sides and the bad and we knew the risks and we opted to go ahead and adopt him.

When we get a dog we also think about whether the dog will fit in with our other dogs and we have to also consider the kids. If a dog is aggressive to my kids or to us they have to go -as did the dog that attacked my husband. It would have been irresponsible for me to keep a dog that was aggressive.

I also had to re-home a dog once because my other dogs were attacking him. It was heartbreaking but sometimes dogs just cannot get along and to keep the dogs safe sometimes you have to rehome one. The dog that we rehomed ended up in a great home for him and lived out his life in peace and safety. It hurt me to give him up but this wasn’t about me it was about the dog.

When getting a dog we also should consider where they will live

A giant dog that needs room to roam and run should not be kept in apartment. I had a greyhound in an apartment but they are couch potatoes – really they are. But to have our collie mix Pierce in an apartment would drive him mad and a potential owner mad. In our case now we have four acres and a big dog yard where they can run and run.

Reese has been an incredible dog – albeit full of energy- he has been the ambassador of our dogs welcoming guests human and canine alike into our home. Until the issue with Ridley he had never been aggressive at all. In fact, it was he and Rudy who lay with me after my cancer treatments bringing me so much comfort. This fight last week was the first and it shook me. Dogs are the calming forces in my life so when they act aggressively– it stuns me.

After a lot of pondering, I do feel that my reactions to Reese fighting with Ridley were valid – but I also think they shook me more because of the biting incident with Kevin. I lost some of my confidence when that happened. I hadn’t realized it that until I really thought about it. I can get past this though. It is like falling off a horse. It is imperative you get back on and ride through the fear and doubt.

Rescuing dogs is what I do and I have experience at it. I realize that I can’t fix everything and we have our limits but we think Reese is a pretty good dog and we are willing to work with him on his issues if they arise.

I did learn to be more diligent with them when it comes to food. I am not sure the fight occurred because of food alone but something happened when they saw me with a plate. I also will be adamant that they stay calmer in the house. They seem to play well outside. Inside a dog can get bumped when they are jumping about and that can sometimes result in misunderstanding that can lead to a fight.

I have learned that I love the Pit Bulls and the Pit mixes but they come with some risks. The very cute and sweet dog can be a mean creature. But in general he is a very nice dog. I am more aware now of what he is capable of and I won’t take the for granted.

I am dedicated to Reese. I can’t let a dog go easily. I don’t give up on things that quickly. I spent much of my life trying find love and acceptance. I have that now with wonderful people in my life that have lifted me up and have never given up on me. I am not ready to give up on him.

I am lucky; I found the acceptance and love in my life that I had been craving as a child. It took a while to find and it took a while for me to feel worthy of it. My love and need for dogs has never wavered and my dedication to helping them is still as strong as ever. The little girl inside me will never forget the little black and white cocker spaniel mix that sat with her when she scared and sad and licked her tears away.

Thanks for reading…

 

 

Reese -age 2 – the Pit Bull mix that is the inspiration of this post.

My heartdog Rudy -age 3

Newcomer- 11 yr old Ridley

Lemon – age 6

The crew. Lemon in back . L to R – Rudy, Pierce-age 2, Ridley, and Reese

 

On the creative front-Nanas quilt

This was my Nana’s quilt. It has been in our family for over 80 years. I wish I knew more about the history of it. But I do know it was given to her years ago by either her mom or grandmother. My nana gave it to me years ago,  well before I really should have had it but it has survived all these years – I have taken good care of it -as all things Nana mean a lot to me. Anything I have been given over the years that was hers is very sacred to me. Ask my kids. We have Nana’s desk, Nana’s hutch, Nana’s table – etc. My kids never met my Nana she passed away well before they were born but they know how much she meant to me. I had her in my life for 23 1/2 years. She was my Nana and a best friend. When she left this world at the age of 85 – my world shattered. But that is another story for another time.

I’ve decided to try to fix this quilt. My Nana was not a seamstress and neither am I but I think I want to take a shot at it.

There are a number of different fabrics that have been sewn in over the years. Many of the old silk fabrics have frayed.

You can see the patches my Nana sewed on the quilt as many are fabrics from the 70’s and have that 70’s vibe. She also liked velvets. I have some ideas for fabrics I want to use.

I know I could send this quilt off to someone who could fix it. But I guess I want to be part of this quilt like my Nana is part of it and all the rest of the mom’s and Nana’s before her.  So I’m going to figure it out as I go along -it’s a metaphor for my life!
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On the furniture painting front I have a bunch of projects going on. The most recent was another trunk and I painted it to go with the coffee table trunk I refurbished.

This piece began life as an Asian influenced small trunk. As with most of our furniture it had seen better days. Kids and pets and a number of moves took it;s toll on it and I was just kind of sick of the Asian look as well.

I painted it with a satin black paint. I stenciled all the fun words and pics on it and then added a couple coats of Mod Podge on top to seal it.

I like how it turned out and it looks nice in the family room.

Thanks for reading….

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I added some white paint so I could distress the piece and some white and red would show through

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Some dates you don’t forget

As much as I don’t desire to celebrate cancerversaries or many other dates that mark my cancer journey, today is a date I will never forget. It was two years ago on this day that I had my lumpectomy to remove the nasty cancer from my body.

I remember the entire long day as my surgery was scheduled for 2pm. I was nervous because not eating for that many hours was going to be hard for me. There was also the issue with my frequent potty breaks. For some reason I had to go so many times while waiting for the surgery and I trotted across the hall to the restroom dragging iv lines while trying to hold closed my gown. There was also the wire that had to be placed in my breast and then a radioactive substance was injected there as well. The nurse came in carrying the stuff with large gloves. It was out of a sci-fi flick and I kept thinking “they’re going to put that in my body?”  Yes they were. The things we endure to try to become well again.

The last thing I remember before going into surgery was begging for something to take the edge off. The nurses kept putting that off and it wasn’t until the anesthesiologist came in and saw that I was in a state (from nerves and not eating ) that I got a shot of some very nice stuff. I recall happily babbling all the way down the hall into the operating room and saying something to Dr Bahl my rockstar surgeon. She laughed and then I was waking up in recovery. Cancer gone.

Two years later. I’m ever so grateful for this time I’ve had. I’m was so thankful for the clear mammo I had in August. The intense pain of  the 3D mammogram-where smashing the boobs down as far as they can crank the Machine is mandatory- was worth the “normal/benign” finding that came ten minutes later.  Note to anyone facing 3D for the first time:Take Advil or something before and after. It helps some with the discomfort.

So two years later. Life hasn’t been the same. It’s so much better in the most important ways and harder in others. And the funny thing is some of the hard things have actually blossomed into good things.

Case in point. My brain. Somehow my brain was affected by this whole thing. I’m not able to multi-task like before. I get overwhelmed easily and my brain is foggy a lot. There are so many things that play a role in this. The cancer treatments themselves. Radiation and the anti-cancer meds I take now can play a part in the change to my brain. I’ve also been in peri-menopause and now full blown menopause (well I hope but can’t say for sure until May 7,2016). This can wreak havoc on the brain. I take piles of natural things to combat this fog and to keep my body as healthy as possible. But the brain thing is still there. It is frustrating. It makes working at my job hard. I can’t keep focus. But I’ve come to realize that it’s ok. I had to finally admit to myself that I really dislike the job anyway. It’s a business that has been struggling and I’m tired of it and the stress of it. It took a lot to admit this but my new brain made me realize that sometimes you have to let go before you can move on. And I really want to move from that to something else. I’d like to continue to work from home so I suppose I’ll see what happens as I think in those turns. Karma (or God) has a way of bringing things to light. So I imagine one day the next thing for me will become clear.

There have been been frustrations with my new brain but there have been huge blessings too. As I mentioned above I realized I didn’t want to work in my job anymore and that is big but there is more. When I had my old brain I could multi-task and I was always bouncing from one thing to another. I had little down time. Now I find I can stop and chill.  At first I didn’t like it – I could sit and do nothing and 45 minutes would just be gone…so not a thing I would have ever let happen when I had my old brain. But now I see the good things about this change. I hate cleaning the house now and am not bothered like I was before with clutter and mess. Before I couldn’t fathom letting the house get too unkempt- I would vacuum and swiffer daily…now once a week works for me. Its freeing and maybe a bit embarrassing if someone pops over and we have some dust bunnies and crap piled up on tables- but only mildly. And there is more! For years I liked the idea of baseball but I couldn’t settle my mind to watch a the long game. I even went to local games and would drink a beer and eat some food and chat with people never paying much attention to the game. I had a hard time waiting for the pitch -yawn yawn- just throw the ball. Now- I love baseball. It just happened one night while sitting and watching a game with my husband I became all things baseball. I now have the MLB app on my phone and get my team line up sent to me daily. I know all the names of the guys on the team and understand lots of the radio chatter on the sports stations. I love the stats and the all the strategy and nuances that go into the game . I will talk baseball on and on with my husband and I must say he considers this blip in my brain a great coup for him!  And because we have a business partner that works with the my the team I love, we have gotten to go to a game and sit in some awesome seats. I saw one of the best games of the season with Bryce Harper scoring three homers. And we are going to see the Baseball Hall of Fame very soon. I like this part of my new brain. Who would have thought I would love baseball?

My new brain has also brought out a new creative side. I’m taking more chances and trying new creative things. My most recent endeavor is furniture painting. I am new at it but it is fun and I am learning a lot. And many of our crappy pieces have been reborn. I think my entire family is shocked that I have the patience (I still deal with impatience but in some areas it is better) for this – my old brain would not have been. I would not have taken my time to get it just right- I would have just wanted it finished. Finding this new outlet has been good for me. I can see that even though my new brain had impediments – it had gifts as well.

Physically I still suffer. Before the cancer – physically I was more whole than I am now. Now I am in some ways- broken. I have pain each day and since it is not extreme pain I am able to deal with this pretty well. I have lymphedema which is uncomfortable some days- I have gotten a pump to deal help manage it. It is a condition that will not go away but it can be well managed so it is not a daily bother. I have frozen shoulder and this has been a bigger issue for me. Not know which way to go with treatment has been a challenge. I have some type of nerve damage that has the doctors puzzled and this damage is exacerbated by the shoulder. I am not sure if I have this damage from surgery or lymphedema or what. I do know that from the first day after surgery I had a stiff shoulder and I also know radiation made that worse and I know that I made it worse by shoveling ice and muck during the winter following treatment.

No doctor understands why I feel the way I do and that is frustrating. I have gotten to a point where the symptoms are tolerable and I am not sure having shoulder surgery to release the capsule is a good choice when the doctors who don’t know why you get the painful sensations (that lead to chronic coughing) in your upper body – and who cannot assure you that you would be cured from said discomfort- nor can they guarantee it would not be worse. So here I sit. I have my own stretching regime and I have seen some thawing in the shoulder but I still have the nerve discomfort.  For a long time this really got me down.

I have to admit the after the cancer has been worse for me physically than the during. Before the cancer I had some back issues but physically I was strong.  I worked out daily and I was in good shape and I need these workouts for my sanity. Before the cancer I could get up on my horse and ride without thinking. Now there is more planning involved…but hey I can still do it. I can still work out – again I am limited and there are more things to consider – but I do it. Before the cancer I didn’t feel sick. I didn’t feel sick on the day I was told I had cancer. The after is different. The battle leaves you with scars. For a good while after i suffered with depression and issues with fear. That eventually ebbed. I have had to come to terms with the fact that I may never be without some issues – thats a hard pill to swallow sometimes. But so many people walk around each day and live their lives with issues. Before cancer I dealt with anxiety and issues with an auto-immune disease. We all deal with stuff. I know I am not alone in that and I don’t want to wallow in a pity party for myself. So instead of putting off doing things until I felt a certain way I vowed that I would get busy living my life. You never know, the way I feel today might be what I long to feel at some point in the future -we don’t know what the future holds for us-and we only have today to really live. So living is what I have been doing. When I flip through the pictures on my phone over the last ten months or so I see a life well lived. I have done more than I ever could have imagined. No I haven’t scaled a mountain or been on a safari but I have done things that I may have never done before the cancer because my anxiety would hold me back. I still battle with it but I battled cancer and that was harder so I push anxiety aside and try to live the life I have now the best I possibly can.

Some days are hard…my nerve issues have been bugging me lately and the shoulder is bothersome- but we all have good days and bad days. The old me could not accept this about myself. Even then when I would not do something bc the beast anxiety had a hold over me I would beat myself up for having a bad day. Now I love myself more and though I don’t like having a bad day where I am not feeling up to snuff I try to allow it to just be and accept it.  It is hard bc sometimes I have found that living life after cancer makes you want to speed life up. In that you want to check every item on your bucket list off for fear that you will never get to do it. Two years out from cancer that has subsided some and my new brain in its inability to deal with too much input shuts down – so I have slowed down the manic “I better do this before it is too late” mantra. Because when you are living manic you aren’t really enjoying the moment.

Two years later. I find that my life is sweeter and better than ever before. There are challenges. We all have them. I have found that we will never be without them and it is how we face them and deal with them that makes a difference in our lives, Each day I try to live a good life. I try to find joy. I try to learn something new. I try to laugh. I try to be better to my people. I try to love well. I am not exactly where I would like to be in some aspects of my life but I am happy and blessed to be right where I am.

Thanks for reading…..