"After the storm. After the fire. After the conflict and after the fight, there is another chance at redemption. There's a new home to create. A fresh day to begin. Another sunrise to anticipate. After struggling to make it work, there is a seed asking to be planted. After giving up and walking away, there's a promise inside the next season. After everything you thought you knew, there's something else waiting to be discovered. After doing all you could do, there's a place to go and renew. And after whatever has hurt you, there is a gift of time to rest and heal and yield to a kinder way of living."-Susan Frybort
Today is the last day of school for my three children. I woke up extra early this morning to grab a coffee from my favorite local barista and put the finishing touches on the end of the year teacher gifts I purchased. The early morning sunlight was like an awakening to all things possible in the months to come. Summer is my time where I'm often found out on the trail as the sun rises to not just get a workout in before the heat, but to find this little magic time where I feel like I'm up before the rest of the world and the gift of those first beams of light ignite my soul like quite honestly nothing else can. This morning felt like an invitation to begin this summer ritual and it was also a subtle reminder that we made it. Last year on the last day of school I was a literal puddle of tears from sun rise to sun set...That Stage 4 diagnosis last year ripped away any promise I thought I had of my tomorrows. But here we are, a whole year later. For whatever reason, I'm still here. Grateful doesn't really do this feeling any justice. As I was taking the traditional pictures of the kids on this last day of school, I was pretty chill! Happy to have the day off and rocking my pink tie dye sweatshirt and denim cut off shorts. My hair pulled up in a messy clip, drinking my almond milk cappuccino with cinnamon sprinkles and looking forward to my last several hours of quiet before the chaos of summer officially begins.I had a moment where I thought, well look at you! Holding it together without even trying!! Progress. I have three kids in three different school buildings, so as I was dropping off my youngest at his elementary building, I was reminding him of who to give his gifts to and I encouraged him to thank his phenomenal teacher for being the absolute best. As these words came out of my mouth I choked up. Like, the whole couldn't speak, tears started streaming kind of thing. What the heck! I was doing so well! I was being, acting, so NORMAL. I guess in that moment I realized I'm not normal. Nothing about my life and these circumstances is or should be considered 'normal'. And with that came the strong, undeniable emotion of...Holy shit...I made it to see them through another year.
Last week I spent a day at my Cancer Center for my monthly oncology appointment. After labs, I sat in the waiting room reading my book, but finding myself constantly distracted by the comings and goings of everyone around me. It was a busy day in the Breast Oncology Suite. Busy isn't something you really want to see because obviously that means even more lives blown up by the damn "C' word. The last five and half years since my initial diagnosis, but especially the last 16 months since my Stage 4 diagnosis have been so freaking hard. It's been constant fight or flight mode, one thing after the next, feeling completely trampled and defeated, but then followed by the rising stronger than ever because that's just what I choose to do. Exhausting to say the least! I'm often asked how I'm doing (thank you for that 💜) or I get proclaimed by others that "You're just doing so great!" 😏...which leaves me always pondering, Am I? I'm in side effect hell, fear is this nasty frenemy who shows up at the most inconvenient times and I'm often really annoyed and tired of this whole cancer narrative. "Chemo Crash" is a thing and boy do I feel defeated when it sets in. It' s like I just want to move on, but I can't. This is my life and this is something that I have to learn to live with and put in it's place on the daily. But something washed over me sitting there in the waiting room on that day last week. I looked around at everyone and I saw so much struggle. I saw fear, I could sense devastation as I overheard one woman scheduling her port placement surgery which could mean she was just hearing her news of her diagnosis and treatment plan for the first time. I saw exhaustion. A lot of it. I also saw many people in much more critical stages than where I find myself. I couldn't help but realize that I'm honestly doing fine. I guess I'm a veteran of sorts. One who has been in the depths of battleground hell and now very capable of navigating choppy waters with some relative ease. It's definitely not smooth sailing, but it could absolutely be worse. Now, if you were to ask me how I'm doing in a room full of my 'normal' peers, I'd say I'm heading right towards the bloody iceberg and this ship is crashing and possibly burning. But my realization is that maybe they are not the best gauge for me to be measuring my life's worth or even as the deciding factor of which path to lust after. Why am I even comparing myself to anyone? Comparison is the thief of joy, they say. If I simply compare myself to where I was last year, well, it speaks volumes. But maybe I don't even need compare myself to myself. I realize that last year, I was doing my best and feeling a whole heck of a lot. This year, I'm still dealing and feeling but also realizing that the blessings I'm feeling are so much deeper and the gift of each day is shining brighter. I'm perfectly imperfect. I'm broken, damaged and perhaps a little messed up! Ha! I'm also soaking in all of my life's experiences in a way that brings great meaning to my existence and this opportunity of another year with my children and everything that sets this soul of mine on fire.
As screwed up as my life can feel, I was recently asked by a friend as I was comparing myself (and being pretty hard on myself ), if I would express these same feelings to the little girl version of myself? Absolutely not. I would bombard her with love and grace and positivity and encouragement! I would tell her how proud I am of her. I've written about little Mia Rose in previous blogs, but this was my reminder that she is still within me. I carry her and all of her hopes and dreams with me each and every day. She is the light within me that will never burn out. Yes, my family, friends and passions also fuel that light that I use to guide me through these dark times, but I am, have always been, and always will be my own guiding light, helping me through every chapter, good or bad. I don't ever need to look to someone or something else to find the ability to handle all of the things thrown at me. She is within me...I will not fail.
"True power is living the realization that you are your own healer, hero and leader. It is when you share your truth with compassion and peace. Your power grows when you make progress in your own freedom and wisdom. Those who are truly powerful do not harm themselves or others; instead, they use their energy to enrich all they know with love." -Yung Pueblo
Your guiding light is within you. Embrace your journey as your own and always believe that you are capable of more than you think you are. Good days, bad days...they are all gifts and opportunities to create the most beautiful story imaginable. Keep On Killing It, my friends. The light in ME, sees and honors the light in YOU.
by Mumford & Sons