We are all born with free will, so we are free to choose whatever it is that we want to eat, drink or think. Make food choices that honor “you.” Healthy foods that feed your mind, body and spirit will always work to promote a healing body.
We are always faced with choices in our lives. Each day is not set in stone. When faced with a crisis that seems insurmountable, look at it as if it were a course correction. When something is repeatedly happening in your life, find the underlying patterns that you may be finding yourself in. Trust your inner instinct…you know what is best for you!
Let’s face it, being a mother is full of ups and downs. We come home from the hospital with these frail human beings, completely dependent on us for everything. Somewhere between sleep deprivation and total understanding that we no longer get to do what we want anymore, we slip into that amazing role of mother. It takes a while, but eventually we find the information we need to change diapers, make them food, take their temperatures, and entertain them through their terrible twos, threes and all the other ages. We also learn what makes them happy, sad, scared, lonely, giggly, and all the other emotions that are part of childhood.
When I learned I had cancer, I went into a dark place and was afraid for my children. I didn’t let my husband in, but I do remember telling close family and friends that I was making an inventory of all the important family keepsakes and heirlooms that I had in my possession. In the dark vastness of my unbridled fear, I thought I would die. I realized that my family history might stop at this generation, and that scared me. I decided to put down on paper all the things I felt people needed to know. I thought I was writing a “Care and Keeping of my Family History” book, so I listed everything I thought was historical and noteworthy, just so they could look back on it some day.
I started with my most prized family heirloom from my dad’s side; a rocking chair that had been passed down the generation’s, with me being the fifth one to receive it. My grandmother gave it to me as a young adult, telling me that her mother used to pull it up to the stove in the wintertime so she could sew and stay warm. That seemed pretty cool to me, but which one of my three girls would be the sixth generation to pass it to? I certainly couldn’t let my husband decide, because he hated it, “It feels like I’m sitting on a stack of sticks!” He would surely burn it! And then there were the fancy green depression glass plates, the weird little spoons that nobody knew what the heck they were for, and a broken spinning wheel from my mother’s side of the family. Who was going to get those? Did any of them know what a spinning wheel was, much less know how to repair a broken one? And what about my engagement and wedding set? Through blubbery tears, I thought it best to give them to my son. I even entertained the idea of writing down the whole “engagement” story for him (it was a cute story!) before they went off and got married…20 years down the road!
And while we are speaking of 20 years down the road, I have been the keeper of our extended family photos that goes back a century! There are a dozen photo albums of people, places and houses I will never know about, but I know they are important. My husband, you may have surmised by now, is not a saver, so he would find that unmarked box tucked under the staircase and throw it out. There are no identifying marks on it, because “I” knew what was in there. All he will find is a box with an ugly plastic tablecloth in it, because I thought it would protect photos in the event that water got in the basement. And who was going to know where I hid my special German candy cane ornaments that were wrapped in Kleenex (because that was all I could find last year)? I stuck them in a shoe box labeled “red candles,” and then stuck it up on the I-beam when I was cleaning the basement. I haven’t gotten around to bringing them down and putting them with the rest of the ornaments yet, because I thought I had forever!. And then there were all the other things: the special lace and button collections; arrowheads; jewelry that my grandmother gave me; the engraved wooden box that my grandma’s boyfriend made her before she met my grandfather; the military-style locket with pictures of people I’ll never know. Yadda, yadda, yadda…the list went on forever!
I locked myself away from my family, busily writing in my 3-ring binder and crying silent tears so they couldn’t hear. Long story, short, I think I did that for three days before I realized, “What the hell are you doing, Carrie?” I suddenly realized that I was pretty much giving into the notion that I was going to die. I all but told the Universe, “Yes, I am leaving…but don’t you worry…I am going to make sure that all these “treasures” that I value more than myself were going to be cared for!” Stupid, stupid, stupid!
Maybe it was day four or five of learning that I had cancer…I don’t remember; all I knew was that I suddenly realized I was doing this all wrong! I let go of the power that these “treasures” had over me and reclaimed the rightful treasure, which is me. “I” am the rich treasure that the family needs! If I am gone, no rocking chair will be comfortable enough, no Christmas ornament will ever shine quite as bright, and no wedding ring will capture the unconditional love that I have had since the second I first saw each of them.
Cancer is scary, but we have to see ourselves on the other side of it. See yourself happy, healthy and whole. See the Christmas memories that you will still make. Get the image in your head about how you will be there to help with your own child’s new baby. Laugh now about the fact that your husband may burn up something that is not very comfortable to his backside, but it doesn’t matter. Sometimes I catch myself wondering if I threw that spiral notebook in the trash. Perhaps I will find it tucked in a file somewhere in my bedroom, or in a box labeled “Easter Eggs!”
A body in harmony does exactly what it is supposed to do. Proper nutrition, adequate rest, exercise, and having a general peace of mind creates the strong outer shell of your body. Your beautiful spirit is safely tucked inside, and you get to create and dream up all the rest!
Some simple thoughts for today:
Never take anything (or anyone) for granted.
Be grateful for all the blessings that come your way.
Thank those around you.
Live out loud…express your emotions, so there is no confusion.
Laugh often…and cry when you must.
See the beauty and creativity that surrounds you.
Leave the world a better place…every single day!
…or maybe it was just my first experience with heat stroke! We had temperatures that hovered in the hundreds for most of the day, but for some reason I can’t explain, I felt it was imperative to start a landscaping project that could have easily waited until September, October, or any other flipping day that the thermometer didn’t read 103 degrees!
I know my flower garden looks overcrowded, and extremely weedy, but my lawn and gardens are not the only ones on this planet that happen to look like crap right now! My grass, like everyone’s around me, is the color of burnt butter, and when I walk barefoot all over it, it feels just like I’m walking on a bed of broken sticks! Nobody in their right mind cares what their lawn and gardens looks like right now, because any normal person would have made a cocktail and stayed indoors to watch a repeat of Dr. Phil, or the Kardashian’s. Instead of staying indoors and doing something similar, or reading a good book about hot vampires, I was furiously digging up overcrowded iris plants, daylillies, pineapple mint that had grown wild, as well as thinning out my beautiful peonies, bleeding hearts, and a few scraggly looking lily of the valley that had been growing in all the wrong locations. Stuck in between all of that was a fair amount of quick-growing weeds, of all sorts, along with miscellaneous plants that I must have stuck in the garden at some point over the past three years, but now I can’t tell if it’s a weed or a real plant. Needless to say, this garden is one sorry looking garden!
A landscaping job like this would have been hard for a 25-year-old healthy male, but for some reason, little old “survivor me” thought she could tackle it with some cheerful looking pink garden gloves and a bottle of water. If my Oncologist would have seen me, he would have written me a prescription for a “mind-numbing” drug, along with a polite referral to see one of his “special friends;” the ones who sit on couches when they talk to you. Thankfully, when my husband verbalized what most people driving down the road were probably wondering, “What the hell are you doing out here…trying to die!” I couldn’t really look him in the eye and come up with an appropriate answer to give him, because it was a totally stupid idea to begin with!
All I can say about my actions, sometimes, is that they are based on a lot of adult guilt that I carry around. Even before cancer came into my life, I always felt this tremendous sense of guilt about things that I didn’t do right all the time. Why didn’t I clean up my bathroom last week when I had the time? Why did I forget to move the laundry from the washer to the dryer and now it smells like it’s “alive?” And why can’t I stop the military procession of little brown ants that are on some kind of “tour of duty” in my living room right now? Why do I always feel like I am constantly being judged all the time, on things that I wouldn’t even judge another soul on? It’s not like I was ever on top of all the disorganization or grime in my house at the peak of my life, but now…well, let’s just put it this way, I feel more “under the peak” than over. So now, I’m a middle-aged woman with far too many things going on in her life, with less energy to deal with everything, but for some reason, the sense of guilt feels even stronger. What’s up with that?
If a friend of mine disclosed half the painful feelings of inadequacy as a wife and mother as I do, I would calmly tell her, “Hey, girlfriend, what the hell are you talking about? You fought your way through cancer! Why would you even care about such a stupid thing as having a ring around your bathtub right now, or worry about the stupid ants in the living room? I don’t care white kind of shortcomings you think you have…I totaly love you for being you!” And then, if she still felt inadequate about stuff, well…then I’d help her out by neatly straightening up things while she was off in the bathroom, cause that’s what friends do. Simple as that! I could care less about what her place looked like, or that one of her daughters constantly cut up cardboard boxes all the time, so that the living room floor always looked like a sandy beach in Barbados. Really..I would know enough about her to know she wasn’t a loser at all, and that she was doing the best she can, with some funky kids that like to dissect boxes for fun. She’s got a husband, cardboard cutting kids, an ant-infestation that really isn’t that big of a deal – I call that wonderful, and lucky! Not everyone gets to be alive at the end of this stupid plague! And her kids are lucky, too! I bet they could care less that the iris plants were overcrowding the daylillies, or that she doesn’t know the difference between a weed and a flower. They’re just happy she’s there with them!
Man, I just gotta learn to lose all the guilt, but it’s so flipping hard! Maybe I should listen to my own advice and loosen the noose that I have so tightly fastened around my neck. Today, instead of finishing up that stupid garden that I half-finished yesterday, maybe I’ll just sit down and drink a glass of cold lemonade with “cardboard kid” instead. And then maybe I can get her to draw me up plans for a new garden design of such immense creativity and beauty, preferably on one of the backs of those boxes she has all over the living room, and we can make plans to bring it to reality sometime when it’s cooler out…or maybe we can just watch “the ants go marching, one by one, hurrah, hurrah…”
Toodles, from one Sassy Survivor to another!