Oh…the Irony…

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Today is world Cancer Day.  I didn’t even know there was such a thing until a couple days ago when I saw a link for Chevy flit across my FB wall to color your profile purple http://www.chevrolet.com/purple-roads-world-cancer-day.html?seo=goo_|_GM+Superbowl_|_1744%7C1751%7CIPUS%7CAU%7CG%7CS%7CB%7CA%7CE%7C+GG-LS-Chevy-SN-B-Exact_|_Superbowl_48-Superbowl-PYP_|_purple%20your%20profile

So, of course I did…

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Then I figured I should acknowledge a few people on FB, Twitter, and most importantly, here. 

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If you can’t read it, it says…How ironic that the day I was given the news 5 yrs. Ago on 2.4.09 was also World Cancer Day.  This is such a huge , milestone year for me and laying in bed tonight, I thought I would revisit the blog post I wrote about that day.  Those of you that have been with me this whole time…thank you for your continued support.  Those that are new friends, thanks for coming into my life.  My life…wow…5 yrs. Ago this time, I honestly didn’t think I would still be here.  I can’t possibly imagine you could possibly imagine what it’s like to get such a wake up call…to your LIFE…unless you have been faced with this insidious disease.  I am not the same girl I was before this news hit me…becuz… ALIVE ÔÖą

And for those of you that held my hand in spirit through my blog…thank you…to all of you…too many to list but you all know who you are.  Your hope and prayers kept me going. 

If you would like to read my post from that day, here it is. 

No News is Good News…Right?
http://wp.me/prf6k-N

So much has happened since then.  Won’t you join me in dusting off this familiar place and breathe some new life into this very special place of mine.  Oh, and comments are always welcome below ­čÖé 

P.S. If you dont want to miss anything…be sure to subscribe!

I’ve missed you all and can’t wait to hear from you soon!

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Full Moon Rising…

Full Moon Rising

I’m in the middle of working on 2008 AND 2009 taxes–ugh. A bazillion receipts that need to be poured over and a mountain of 2009 medical bills is now growing exponentially and is beginning to resemble a full-scale replica of Mt. Kilamanjaro. I hate doing this. I have software programs that should simplify this part of my life and great paper systems that claim to do the same thing, but what I want to do is anything but taxes so, I put it off. I absolutely hate bean counting. It takes me forever to catch up and granted, it’s my fault I’m now in a state of freak out, but I’ll get it done somehow–I’ll just be a lot more worse for wear over the next couple weeks. Hopefully I’ll make some headway soon and this mountain of paper will get under control in time for the holidays or at least by the time Jasmine comes home. Yep, you heard me…she’s coming home…soon.

As thrilled as I am, I am extremely nervous. I don’t want for old habits to rise back up to the surface, but I have to pray that she has learned a great deal of coping skills and she will rise above all the triggers that she will be faced with daily. We had the pleasure of spending our Thanksgiving with her while she earned a 4-day pass. It was filled with love, laughter, good food, and family–just what Thanksgivings are about.

Together for Thanksgiving '09

It was our biggest blessing–to see her alive and doing well and clean and sober and genuinely happy to be with us. That blessing could only compare to our family’s other biggest blessing–me–and the fact that I am still alive 10 months after being diagnosed with breast cancer. We built fires and roasted marshmallows. We stayed up all night long and watched movies. We laughed until we cried, lost our voices, and acted completely crazy as Jasmine joined Jordan and I on our psycho shopping sprees where we waited for hours in the freezing weather just to be pushed and shoved through the stores and become so discombobulated that we were standing in the wrong lines to check out more than once. She had never shared in the Black Friday tradition before and was absolutely shocked to see the chaos.

She wanted to surprise everyone for Thanksgiving dinner and so we dropped her off a block away from Jeff’s sister’s house and as we all loaded into the house without her, she snuck up several minutes later and burst in on the crowd. Tears flowed, cameras flashed and a young girl was reminded while she was sober how much she was loved. She met up with an on again off again boy who proceeded to stay with us over the course of the next few days. He’s leaving for the navy boot camp in just a few days and I knew they both wanted to see each other. I was reminded watching the two of them that out of all the boyfriends she’s ever had–I liked him the most. I also liked the fact that when he messed up he took my motherly bitching and came back apologetic and sincere. No matter what went down between them or whose fault it was–I couldn’t help but think I’d be pretty lucky to someday have a son-in-law that nice and down to earth. They are both still young and I don’t expect anything, but I can dream and I can always hope that whoever my daughter is lucky enough to find–will treat her with as much loving kindness as Dylan has. He was also instrumental in helping me find her in Ohio after she had been taken. That alone, in my book, earns him oodles of brownie points.

Jasmine & Dylan Thanksgiving Eve '09

Jasmine made it a point to find meetings near here that will help keep her on track and we set up necessary services that will help her deal with her lifelong struggles that she will face. Before we knew it, the 3 full days flew by and it was time for another day long trip in the car to get her back. She’s been doing well and pulling straight A’s once again, but I do worry that when she comes home, it won’t be as easy for her to stay focused. I guess all I can do is pray about it. If all goes well, she’ll finish up one more class–hopefully two–and then be able to come home in time for Christmas.

Jordan, Jasmine, and I loaded up the car last Sunday and we set out (late) across the state. We went out to eat for breakfast with Jeff and Justin beforehand so we wouldn’t have to worry about eating junk food the whole way out. What usually takes us between 5.5 and 6 hrs. took us almost 7.5 just to get across the state. We followed every holiday traveller out of Iowa in bumper to bumper traffic–both lanes–never making it over 60mph. Torturous for speed demons like me. I kept reminding myself that patience is a virtue and I needed to channel all the patience I endure daily with the children I work with every day. Easier said than done when your in that much traffic.

We stopped by a rest stop for a break and Jasmine came out looking for a woman that had left her purse on the back of the toilet. I saw the woman came out and thought, “cute haircut” when I saw her and then she left quickly. We peeked inside the purse and found her phone. Going through her contacts we found a Steve and called him to explain everything to him. He was able to contact her and her sons so they were able to turn around and come back for her purse. It was an expensive Kate Spade purse and it was filled with cash and expensive perfume and credit cards. It would have been so easy for someone to steal it and go shopping. I was so proud of my daughter wanting to do the right thing. We agreed to wait and I told her that this woman was so lucky it was us and not some crook.

When the woman showed up in her fancy Lexus SUV she got out and was totally snobbish. She wasn’t overly appreciative and she didn’t even offer Jasmine $5 for returning it. I know we did the right thing, and yes we did it for that reason and not for any monetary reward–but let’s be honest–some munchie money for the trip would have been nice. We were travelling in comfortable clothes and she sized us up and down and figured we were below her class and couldn’t be bothered with us. I could read it all in her eyes. I just hate snobs. This setback cost us another 45 min. and I just had to tell myself and the girls that it was 45 min. more we had with each other that day and it was a test to see if Jasmine would do the right thing. She passed.

Working our way westward, I knew that I had one more stop in store for us. There is a tower that sits on top of a scenic overlook along I-680W in Iowa close to the I-29N exit. I’ve always wanted to stop each time we have gone to visit, but the first couple times I missed the exit. Each time after that, Jeff was with and driving and couldn’t be bothered with such trivial memory makers. On this day, though, I was in charge. We arrived just as the sun was setting. The air was crisp and cold and even though we weren’t going to stay long, I wanted to take the girls up. I wanted them to look out over a very large area and see where states of Iowa, Nebraska, and South Dakota converge. I secretly hoped that as Jasmine and Jordan looked out across the countryside that they would see that the keys to their success are in her hands. I wanted Jasmine to see that her possibilities were endless and that she was lucky to be alive after what happened to her this summer. I hoped that she would see that her destiny was out there in this world and that with God’s grace she would find her way.

The back of the tower appears dark because of the setting sun.

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The front of the tower was illuminated with deep golds and just beyond the tower, I saw a full moon rising pictured above).

When I saw my daughters up on top of that tower–I couldn’t help but think quickly over the past year about how far each of us had come.

Jasmine looks out

Jordan joins her sister at the top

Holding on for dear life

We had all battled demons and even though we weren’t completely free of their grips, we were still standing. We were still surviving. We were still breathing. I joined my girls at the top of the tower and looked out. I needed to practice what I preached and I needed to grab onto life again–a life I never imagined would turn out the way it had, but never-the-less still grateful to be alive to see my children grow.

The air was biting and the wind caused my stomach to flip flop. I looked out over the meandering interstate that had carried my family members back and forth for months as we visited our very ill daughter over 6 hours away.

I-29N

I-680W

I never knew what the end of this part of the journey would look like, but with a crimson sky I couldn’t help but think it was amazing and better yet, it was almost finished. I looked at my girls and told them I loved them and then we took a picture of all of us.

Freezing our butts off

A gust came whipping through the tower and scared all of us. I began to descend but got really scared and had to sit down and scooch down on my butt while my daughters laughed at their “chicken” mom.

Me--realizing how I hate heights

Stop laughing at me!

With the last burst of sunshine, I took a little video of my girls playing. When I see the opening picture of the video–before I even click play, I am reminded that they are still little girls. In the grand scheme of life and for how fast they are trying to get on with their lives or grow up before they are ready–it just reminds me that right now, this very instant, whether they like it or not–they are still little. It also reminds me of a more peaceful time in our lives. A time without the drama and crisis and heartache and devastating health issues that plagued our family this year. I can see my LITTLE girls in this picture–I can see the glimmer of hope that tomorrow holds limitless possibilities. The video is just pure silliness–and also gave me a shot of my second full moon that day.

This parting shot of Jasmine with me is priceless. I don’t think I’ll ever forget how hard she was pulling me toward her. I won’t forget her telling me sincerely and unsolicited–“I Love You”–over and over–something I hadn’t heard in years. I was glad that Jordan took the picture. I’ll treasure the moment always.

I Love You, Mom!

Jordan slept almost all the way home and the trip back was easy and much quicker–5.10 hrs. to be exact. I had never made the trip that quickly. There was noone on the road for miles and miles as I’m sure everyone was already home and tucked into bed awaiting work the next morning. I drove home listening to Christmas carols and thanking God for letting me live so that I may see to it that Jasmine would get the help she needed. I thanked him for not taking her home before me (at least this past summer this summer). I prayed for no more whammies. I told him that I thought I had managed the year as best I could and that I truly believed that I needed a break. I also wondered what lied in store for me and my family this next year.

Honestly, I need things to look up in 2010. I need time without crisis so that I can try to rebuild my faith, my relationship with my daughter and all of my family for that matter, my finances, my businesses, my educational aspirations, my professional endeavors, etc. As bleak as it looked several times this year I know I’m not ready to throw in the towel yet. I’m just ready to start snapping it again. –Watch out!

Formal shoutout to Dylan here–God bless you and keep you safe. Don’t forget our address and when you get out of boot camp–make sure to call. You are loved and you will be in our prayers.

P.S. I took my own advice and re-registered for the upcoming spring semester. I am going to re-take the two classes I let go. I couldn’t focus last year with the bombarding information coming at me and I also reached a point where I felt I’d rather be spending time with my family instead of having my nose in a book all the time. I was worried I was going to die and I worried about it all the time. I no longer think that way. I believe I’m going to be around here for a while and I may as well get my degree finished. I just won’t try to attain it at warp speed. Third reason–my scholarship people are getting ancy for me to fulfill my contract. I really don’t want to pay back all of the thousands they’ve given me because I’m in breach of my contract with them. I’ve hashed out an extension plan with the TEACH program and I am grateful they are understanding and accommodating to my requests. Now if I could just peel myself away from all the reality TV I’ve become addicted to…:)

Circle of Friendship

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In this past year, I have come to grow a new circle of friends. An international collection of women and some men that have followed my story and been an ever present support to me as I have battled with many demons. When I started this blog it was to mainly keep a few far off relatives in touch with my progress. As the weeks and months have passed, an army has marched into my life. Some of these soldiers that keep me motivated are friends from my childhood that I have reconnected with through Facebook. I’ve even been getting the hand of Twitter-something that has been driving me a little nuts all summer. Many of my new friends now mingle in with my old friends and it doesn’t matter who drops me a line, I am always happy to know that someone is thinking of me. Many of my old friends now read my new friend’s blogs as well. Technology sure has had a way of connecting everyone.

I have thoroughly enjoyed this network that has spread across the world. My hits have surpassed 10,000 –something I never expected. It’s like opening up a present every morning when I wake up. I check stats to see where hits are coming in from and I quickly check for messages. Love getting them, but don’t get as many as I would love. I check world locator and find that people in Russia, New Zealand, Australia, Hong Kong, Japan, Europe, Finland, Africa and beyond must be subscribers because of the regularity of their visits. I have also been surprised to see that my blog has been rated 4th in the top 100 blogs out there about breast cancer on Networked Blogs. That is fantastic! Now if I could just get all my readers to click follow on that widget in the sidebar–those ratings would shoot up even faster! (That’s a hint! ­čÖé ) It is really the one thing that has helped me process this mind-boggling year. Learning how to build a blog, learning how to set up new accounts that support that blog such as flickr and youtube, learning how to grab code and install widgets, learning how to format posts and hyperlink are all newly learned skills that I now really enjoy playing around with. Through it all, I have maintained a clear vision of what I want to do with the blog and where I ultimately want it to go. “If you build it, they will come”, I keep reminding myself.

The way I look at it is this, I am providing my children with a glimpse into their mother’s life. Years from now, whether I live or not from this, my children will be able to understand what their mom went through. My grandchildren will know something of their grandmother. My friends will remember the fight and have a newfound appreciation. It is always humbling for me to see that as I lurk around in the middle of the night checking out other blogs that I find mine in other’s blogrolls. They may be commentators or just part of that silent army that keeps me in their prayers, but either way–to all of you, I want to thank you for your continued support. Then, there are a few that have really helped my army grow. Friends across the country and the world that have quoted something from my blog and hyperlinked your readers back to me. There are community forums that I am blessed to be a part of and in doing so, I have met even more wonderful individuals.

One such woman came into my life just recently, friended me on FB and also proceeded to quote me in a post she wrote for an online news source blog out of Seattle, WA. Her name is Carolyn Harris and she is a writer with a very interesting background. She pens a blog called Lyn’s Circle: Chronicles of a Married Feminist. I encourage you not just to check out the excerpt she wrote about me, but also to check out her bio. When I read it (and to clear up a misprint–my nickname is cj not cy but no worries here) I couldn’t help but close my eyes and imagine what RVing through New Zealand or Sailing to Cuba must be like. I have had the pleasure of chatting with her and am glad once again that in this giant world, I know that there are others that are equally impassioned about spreading the word.

At the end of her bio she states:

“Lyn invites you to join her circle of friends. She feels sometimes women get stuck in their seats because it’s easier to sit there, do nothing and stay miserable than risk a change. She wants you to reach out. Your problem is not unique. Somewhere in this circle you’ll find another woman who understands your scars. With a little help from our sisters, we can laugh a little, cry a little, and figure out what to do with the rest of our lives”.

When I read this, I thought you were talking directly to me. When you came along, I was beginning to retreat once again into a pit of despair, thanks for pulling me out. It’s a never ending struggle to get my head back in the game, just when I think I’m making progress, I have a major setback. Unless you’ve been confronted with something of such life changing magnitude–whether it’s a health related or not, whether its directly or indirectly, you can only try and imagine what another individual is going through. Reality is quite a different story and since we are all on this Earth together, it’s comforting to know that although someone may not actually KNOW what you think and feel, there are common bonds that tie us all together. The biggest of these are love, compassion, and empathy. Thanks for coming into my life, Carolyn. Your presence is appreciated.

cj

Started Tracking on 12-1-09

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