Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 The Year of Change

19 years ago today I walked into a New Year's Eve party in Sterling. I smiled and said "hi" to a guy I went to college with, Andrew. And when I did the guy sitting next to him on the sofa said "you know HER? I would like to know HER". Which made me giggle. I went on to talk to that guy who wanted to know HER, date him, marry him, and spend 15 wonderful years with him. But this year it seems, was the ultimate year of change, since in October the final and only thing in my life that did not change in the past 3 years, moved out. And so it is with a heavy heart that I write this, my last blog.

I started this blog one year ago to help people - people considering doing the neratinib drug trial, people with diabetes, people with cancer, but I have decided that really I have no business telling people how to live there lives, when I can't seem to even make sense of my own. :0)

So, instead, I will end with a summary of the tremendous lessons I have learned this year, 2010, "The Year of Change".

10. Stretch every day. It really does make a difference. I am (knock wood) pain free for the first time in my life, because of this simple life change.

9. It's ok to be sad sometimes - I grew up in a family of positivity. You weren't allowed to be sad, you weren't allowed to feel sorry for yourself. And considering 3 of the 4 of us have had cancer, I can see how this is helpful, but this year I learned what I did not learn when I had cancer - it's ok sometimes to be sad, to sit on the kitchen floor and cry your heart out. It's ok to be sad sometimes.

8. Say no - you don't have to do things just to make people like you. You can say no if you would rather not do something. If they don't still like you, then they were not worth having in your life to begin with.

7. Simplify - your life, physically and mentally. I moved again this year, into my dream house, and it's everything I've always wanted. But it's for sale now, and I need to move again. Third time in 3 years. Less stuff makes this easier. Keep what is important to you, and get rid of the rest.

6. Show up and be present - I did alot with friends and family this year, and I really tried to pay attention to them while I was with them. By only saying yes to the things I wanted to do, and I had time to do, I was able to really be present and listen, share, and be present in my life.

5. Change can be good - when I lost my job this summer I was terrified. But the job I have now is so much better then any job I've had for the past 10 years. It's new and different, it's fun, and I'm learning new things. I never would have changed on my own, but being laid off forced me to change. And it was a great change!

4. Make a difference on a small scale - I cannot change the world. But I can serve chili to homeless people, I can also bake them apple pies, I can volunteer to be in a drug trial to help save lives with cancer in the future, I can ride my bike 100K to raise money for diabetes, I can tutor a high schooler in algebra, I can make a difference, even if it's only to one person.

3. Don't take your days for granted - Jake taught me this one. He has a giant lump the size of a softball on his hip. Yet he still wags his tail more then most dogs. He still loves to go outside for a walk, he still loves to relax in a sunbeam. Maybe nothing major is happening today in your life, but take the time each day to enjoy something, however small it may be.

2. It's ok to fail - I am an expert at failing. I have failed at nearly everything I've tried, now including marriage. Yet I find that if you get back up, brush yourself off, and keep on trying, that life surprises you. I think it would be worse to never try. So I will keep trying, and failing. :0)

1. Be happy on your own - for years my friends have been telling me this one and I never understood what they meant. But this year I finally figured it out, first while married, and then more recently, no longer married. I know, for the first time in my life, how to be happy all by myself. I know what I like to do, and what I enjoy, I know what makes me happy, and I know how to deal with stress, I am not worried about what other people want me to do, or expect me to do, and I know how to be happy on my own. For the first time in my life I feel like a grown up. For the first time in my life, I am strong, all by myself.

So, to the few people who read this blog, thank you. I have had fun sharing my stories with you. The drug trial is over, and I 100% recommend it, as I never had a horrible side effect, yeah to cancer drug science. I have had a horrible and wonderful year of change. And I am hopeful for new and exciting adventures in 2011 - for all of us!

The end.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Holiday Traditions

I think every family has holiday traditions. Things that when you are a kid you think is stupid, but as I grow older they are the exact things I look forward to each year. Some we still do, some are long gone, but here are a few of my favorites.

Every year my Grandma would make all the grandkids a giant gingerbread house. This is before there were kits, LOL, so she would bake it from scratch, assemble it, and then decorate it herself. Each year it was different, and I thought they were magical! The entire family would get together and have a big dinner at her and Grandpop's house. Then after dinner all of the cousins would gather around Grandma's kitchen table and eat the gingerbread house. Well, or so that was the idea. Most years Bart, Ant, and Joey would attack it or crush it, or somehow destroy it within seconds. Then us girls would gather around to pick up the pieces of candy that hadn't fallen on the floor. :0) Grandma died in the 90's but I still think of her and my cousins every year when I see gingerbread houses.

One holiday tradition that was probably my favorite, and still is - is the buckeye. My Dad's family all lives in Ohio, where he was born and raised. And a tradition in that area is the peanut butter and chocolate buckeye. YUM. Two of my most favorite foods. This tradition is now passed all the way down to Jill and Katie, I have been excluded since I eat too much of the dough (and it makes Jill upset! LOL) but it's soooo good. Every year they make thousands of buckeyes and it's a long and hard process - starting with miking everything in giant pots to hand dipping each and every peanut butter ball in chocolate. I always wait until Christmas morning to eat my first one of the season, and to me, that's Christmas. :0)

Whatever your tradition, and wherever you are in your life, I hope you take the time to enjoy this holiday season!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

New Week

About two weeks ago I read a great article in one of my magazines about Condalisa Rice. In it she explained how people constantly ask her what her plans are for the next 5 to 10 years, and how this question upsets her. Things change, she said, so it's her philosophy to make plans only for the next few weeks, and then to see what else comes up and go from there.

I have always been a planner. I come from a family of planners, we plan everything down to the minute, every little detail taken into consideration. For this reason Ms Rice's advise both intrigued me and scared me to death. But, I decided to give it a shot.

Last night was one of my first attempts at my new plan, and I am happy to say it was incredibly successful. I was called late on Sunday night and asked to help serve chili to homeless families at my local soup kitchen. All I knew was what time to show up, and an address. Two days before trying something new, with complete strangers, and I had no plan, I had no details! But at 4:30 on Tuesday I showed up at the address and walked in with the homeless guys who were standing outside. And for the next two hours I did whatever was asked of me, shouted at me, or simply needed to be done. I made a giant bowl of cole slaw, I dished out apple sauce, I poured glasses of tea, I put 2 rolls on 65 plates and added a slice of butter, I cleaned, I delivered plates to tables, and I simply helped. Those 2 hours were some of the most rewarding I've had in several months. I was helping a church group serve, but it was the homeless men, who one by one all came over to the kitchen and yelled out "Thank you! God Bless You!". Several of the men I see all the time in my neighborhood. It was humbling to me to realize that people I assumed lived down the street, actually had no home, and no food to eat.

Near the end of the night the last round of guys were packing up to leave, and the abundance of left overs was shocking to me. These guys were heading out to go sleep outside in the 40 degree rainy night, and we had leftovers! I grabbed an open pack of cookies and went out into the dining room and offered a younger guy in a Redskin sweatshirt more cookies. He looked at me and smiled and said "oh man, thank you! Wish those were the lemon ones, I love those lemon ones" (OK I hate lemon cookies but to each his own) so I went back into the kitchen and grabbed him an entire pack of lemon cookies and took them out to him and the look on his face was something I will never forget. You would have thought I gave him a car. He was so happy to have some lemon cookies it shocked me. Here is a man who has no place to live, who is sleeping on the streets, and has no food to eat. He has more problems then I could ever imagine, and yet he made me realize how the little things in life really can bring you happiness.

So as I continue on my journey of living without a long term plan, and in this holiday season of stress and overdoing, I wish you all some happiness in whatever your version of the lemon cookie is. :0)