I Run for Life…

It’s that time of the year. Race for the Cure. I have been looking forward to it for a year now. When I walked my first race last year, I had just undergone my first chemo treatment and the start of my second; I had suffered respiratory arrest due to the severe allergic reaction I had to the chemo drugs; and I had lost all my hair. Slowly, but surely, though, I walked that route surrounded by a sea of pink. Overwhelmed by the shear magnitude of the event (my first ever), I walked proudly with tears streaming down my cheeks and told myself I would be back again in 2010. When I crossed that finish line, I pulled my signature Superstar move and although I felt like a winner, there was a small seed of doubt. Would I make it?

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Superstar!

It has been a whirlwind year–at times moving at warp speed and at others, creeping along at a snails pace. For months now, I have looked forward to walking this race once more, crossing the finish line, and pulling my Superstar–only this time with the assured confidence that I had/have beaten this disease. Is there any doubt? Yes, a smidgeon. Enough to pull me down every once in a while, especially when I get sick and my mind starts to race through the “what if’s”. I came across a few pics from right after the race last year. Pictures I was too embarrassed by to put into my Flikr photos with the rest. When the pictures were taken, I was sitting on the front porch. Jordan came along and snapped a couple pics of me. It seems like yesterday when I think back. I was caught up in my anger then and it’s written all over my face. My eyes look sooo tired and expressionless. The worry lines had been chiselled deep into my brow by fear. My chest was non-existent and my hair–well, see for yourself.

Lost in Self-Doubt

She told me to smile. “Just Fake It”, I remember her saying. So, I tried. I really did.

“C’mon, Mom…you just Raced for a Cure…you should be happy!” I was. I smiled. I guess it wasn’t convincing enough. So, I tried again…

It was no use. That earlier feeling of euphoria while walking had been replaced with the weight of the world. I attempted one last try at a decent picture–one full of hope and determination–hell my before and during pictures in my Flikr photos are absolutely night and day compare to just a few hours later. (click on “more photos” in the sidebar to view last year’s 2009 Race for the Cure pics), but it just falls short.

I remember thinking how badly I needed a nap. Right after the race last year I worked at the Arsenal for several hours and then went on to piano lessons. When those pics were taken, I was exhausted and you can see it in my eyes. For the most part, these days, my head is in a completely different place than it was a year ago. Thank God.

I really wanted to go this year. I planned on going. I was all set to assemble Team Superstar and proudly walk with my fellow sisters. Then, I got a call, from someone that gave me some news. Nothing bad, in fact, very humbling news. I am being awarded something (I can’t say anything more until afterward). My presence was being requested in Iowa City to accept the award–on the same day. Of course, I felt honored, and after the surprise of the call began to wear off, I realized the event was on this Saturday, June 12, 2010–the same day as our local Race for the Cure. I wondered if I could actually swing both, but it really didn’t take long to make up my mind. I would probably only get this honor once in my life and the race will be here next year. So, I’m going to Iowa City on Saturday. My family will meet me up there to video. I’ll upload over the weekend so you can all share in the news.

For all those planning to walk or run in this year’s Race for the Cure–do me a favor and keep me in mind–even scribble my name into a corner of your memorial badge if you feel inclined to do so. I’ll be there walking in spirit and to show my support–I dyed my hair this past week–platinum with fuschia tips in the back. It has been cut in a way that shows off the tattoo I got last year, and as I promised, I will be going back really soon to have the word “Survivor” added underneath.

Showing My Support

I also found a video this past year that has gives me the chills each time I hear it. I have made the song my ringtone on my cell phone and I thought I’d share it here for all of you to enjoy as well. For all my sisters who are fighting this fight, have won their fight or have lost their fight, I will be running for you…soon.

Swimming in a Sea of Details

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I’m swamped. There are so many details I’m attending to in order to ready myself for my National Accreditation visit which is coming up on October 6. I’m sure things are fine as they are now, but this means so much to me and for a year and a half prior to 2009, I worked steadily toward this observation knocking out one quality benchmark after another in the process. Some details I think are just redundant, for example, I have to have the instructions on how to use a fire extinguisher POSTED by the unit itself. This is sooo dumb, in my opinion, since all my fire extinguishers have the directions and pictures of how to use them right on the extinguisher itself! And I’m sure in the event of fire–I will be too harried to read a wall full of instructions. Thank God, I have attended enough fire safety classes and have enough knowledge of how to operate one–like it’s rocket science, anyway–duh…

I will be working diligently all weekend to finish up all details–I hope. The weather has been cold and raining for two days now and I will be busy shopping for last minute items, steam cleaning carpets, mopping floors, planning out/cooking all my food for the day so I don’t have to worry about prep time, and going back through my manual at least once if not twice more. To me, that is just the tip of the mountain I will need to climb this weekend. Come Monday, I don’t want anything left to worry about. I want to sleep that night, but I’m notorious for staying up all night fretting. I’m sure I’ll do fine, but there’s always the chance that they feel I’m not ready…Lord knows my world has been shaken up this year and it has taken all my energy the past few weeks to get back in the saddle and really hunker down. I need everyone to keep their fingers crossed for me! I really want to knock this out of the ballpark! I want this lady to leave my home with a smile on her face and the assurance that really good stuff is coming out of my unassuming home and contributing to the lives of little ones in positive ways each day.

I have heard that compared to the FDCRS–Family Day Care Rating Scale–the accreditation process is a breeze. I voluntarily went through that process a couple years back and it was grueling to say the least. The criteria that you are rated on is extensive and overwhelming at times, and when I look back from where I started to where I am now, I am glad I went through it, it totally transformed my environment and that has helped out in a bazillion different ways. The national average for a rating is a 3 on a scale from 1-7 with 7 being the highest rating you can achieve. I only know of one other gal that went through it here and she received a 5.something. I remember thinking that she really nailed it and never thought I could top that. Then, I set my eyes on the criteria and systematically and methodically started fixing every flipping thing you could imagine–and trust me-most people don’t have a clue what that entailed. When that observer came, I was ready. I was more than ready and I couldn’t have orchestrated the day any better if I had tried. The kids were angels and boy did I reward them for their good behavior!! Lots of ice cream!! I will never forget the day when I got my rating in the mail. A 6.3!!! It was absolutely one of the best days of my life.

Then I jumped onto the Quality Rating System and decided I wasn’t going to just jump in at a level one star, I was going for the top dog, a five star rating. I could use my FDCRS score, my newly met CDA (child development associate), my ChildNet re-certification, and my partnership with the Department of Health among a host of other things to earn the points needed for that 5 star rating. I swear, that parents don’t really have a clue what some of us providers will undergo to ensure safe and high quality homes and qualifications. An average old “baby-sitter” I am not and yet, when families drop out of care to go to a provider that’s just “good enough” it makes me just shake my head and wonder why I put myself through this. Mainly, because it is my passion and because I am committed to providing quality early learning experiences to kids in the Quad Cities.

Getting ready this time, though, has been different. I am tired earlier in the evenings and can’t stay up all night like I used to working on this or that. I get so tired it feels like I’m drunk and I hate that feeling. So, I will get done what I can in the next two days. I will try not to over-detail myself. That’s sooo hard for me, though–each time, I think–yeah–I think I’m done, I look up and re-analyze how I’ve been doing something and make another list of how I could do it better. I’m going to let it go as of Sunday night. I will. I think. I am going to try really hard to put the manual down and walk away and trust that I know what I’m doing and that it will come across and look effortless. I just hope the observer is in a good mood that day and hasn’t just gotten into a fight with a teenage child or a husband who has just asked for a divorce or gotten or anything else that might put her in a really icky and hyper critical state of mind. I don’t want anyone taking anything out on me that day. I hope I don’t get some man-eating shark that comes swimming into my sea and tears me limb from limb.

It all boils down to that insecurity that someone isn’t going to like me or will pick me apart. It’s that need to feel accepted–a basic human need we all share. There have been great portions of my life where I didn’t care what anyone thought of me, and it’s so weird–I used to feel so uber-confident about everything in my life. This year has really knocked me down a few notches, though. As much as I shouldn’t worry about what others think–I do. I think it’s because I haven’t been able to come to terms with how I feel about myself right now and that really projects outward. Also, I have really had outward signs of people I thought were friends rejecting me this year, my oldest daughter rejecting me, my own body rejecting me, and I’ve even found myself rejecting my own image for the majority of this year. In the grand scheme of things–what’s a year?–a tiny blip on the face of time. But to me, it has been excruciatingly long. At some point, all that rejection over an extended period of time starts to affect your confidence. It starts to waver like a spinning top that becomes wobbly right before it topples to the ground. Rejection is a part of life, I know–I preach it to my kids. It’s how you handle it that is the true test of courage.

I’ve been on the fence with that one. When it came to those so-called friends–I moved on–had to–it broke my heart to much to dwell. When it came to my daughter, I moved on at times–but kept getting sucked back into the vortex. When it came to my body’s rejection and my own self-image issues–I have wobbled uncontrollably–just like that spinning top. When it came to my spiritual well-being, I have found solace in my bible and my new church home-even though I am not good about regular attendance. Have I passed the test? Depends on what areas we’re talking about. I’m sure if I were to see the report card, I wouldn’t be happy with the grades in most areas. As with any struggling student should do–I have assembled a few tutors–a few individuals that are helping me put things into perspective a little better. Up until now, I haven’t really reached out for support–a little here and there, but now I am starting to see that in order to get through this–I just can’t do it on my own. Nor do I want to, but I just hate burdening anyone with my troubles or imposing on them for their time. So, I have retreated into my shell on many occasions this year just as the wise sea turtles do as they make their epic journeys through the oceans of their lives. They retreat for respite, for survival, for a need to become invisible at times so that when they do emerge they are renewed in faith and energy to stay the course.

Maybe I was supposed to lose my confidence to really find the source of my true strength. Maybe I was supposed to be humbled so that I could remember all the reasons why I do what I do and to try and let go of those insecurities and not let them get to me as much. I know all of this. My brain really does. It’s just my heart–its been really shredded up this year and its hard to be that confident right now. I could fake it–like I did back in high school…I could… I’ll really have to pull it out for this one. I’ll really have to squelch those feelings down and let “Tina” shine through. It’s really the only thing I know how to do well at the moment. So, that’s the plan–sort of–along with a lot of prayers.

So, I’m going to be busy for the next few days, but boy do I have news for all of you! What a whirlwind week of doctors and medical tests with more on the way, but out of it all, I made a decision. A big one. And I wish you could have seen the genuine confidence dripping from my grinning lips! I poked my head out of my shell this week and I smiled at the possibilities that are in store…I’ll be back to update as soon as my observation is over because my brain is swimming in a sea of details regarding this decision as well and I will need to purge SOON!!! Until then, check my tweets for quick snippits.

Ciao for now–CJ

Started Tracking on 12-1-09

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