Don’t Wait…Celebrate!

From someone who has had the give up the ordinary experiences that make life beautiful…please, don’t wait!!!

At any moment, your life could change as you know it. Plans canceled, dreams delayed, and hopes deflated. Please, don’t wait for that moment to come to start seeing the beauty in the everyday predictable moments of life.

When you can’t find the strength to get out of bed, or the courage to add one more thing to your “to do” list, it is the consistently simple things that you will miss…much more than the special events that are faint memories.

So, today, appreciate the energy to do laundry. Give thanks for the ability to plan for the week ahead. Soak in the sounds of your loved ones laughing.

Do it today! Just because you CAN!

Instagram: peacefulahead

In the Pursuit of Peace, God’s Plan is Greater

I am a planner. I like to buy planners and pens, and use sticky notes. I have spent many hours of my life writing down my plans in a color-coordinated fashion, and marveling at the beauty of a month’s page filled with all of life’s daily details.

But, a breast cancer diagnosis and the related variety of surgeries and treatments (along with the never-ending list of unpredictable side effects) forced me to let go of my perceived control. Many days, I did not know what the next hour would hold, much less the next day, and certainly not the month ahead.

It has been five years since my world was turned upside down, and I’ve slowly returned to the beauty of planning. There are no words to describe the gratitude I feel for the ability to somewhat predict what lies ahead.

However, my mindset has changed in so many ways. Because I was forced to live with uncertainty, I grew more comfortable with the fact that some things are out of my control. Some days, my only plan involves maintaining my peace, in spite of my surroundings. For this reason, I started crocheting two years ago, following in the footsteps of my Grandmother’s talent.

She was the most peaceful person I’ve ever known, crocheting and praying every single day. She’s been gone for 15 years now. While I never learned to crochet from her, I quickly learned that I had an innate talent for using a hook and thread. I started with the basics, improving with each effort, with the ultimate goal of creating fine doilies like hers. I learned to read patterns, but found myself enjoying the experience more when I would “wing it”, allowing my soul to dictate the next stitch. I started the piece in this image with no pattern, and it became the one of which I’m most proud.

I couldn’t help but relate that to God’s plan for us, which we can not always see until we look back on how beautifully things worked together for our good.

As I embark on the final phase of my breast-cancer treatment (upcoming reconstruction), I am able to find peace, without needing to plan out every step of the journey. I know that whatever lies ahead will build strength, bring clarity, and form peace in my soul more so than any foreseeable circumstance that I could’ve planned…even with the prettiest planner and pen collection.

Here’s to fully trusting Him for a life that’s peaceful ahead.

Instagram: peacefulahead


Patiently Waiting to Turn the Page

Update: Pre-surgery appointment with plastic surgeon this morning. We are a GO for April 9! Now, to get everything prepared to take off work for about 6 weeks. So very thankful…IT’S TIME!!!🙌🏻

Below post from my former blog

Well, it’s been 5 years since I was diagnosed with breast cancer, and 4 years since I completed treatment (including a double mastectomy, chemo, radiation, followed by a hysterectomy 3 years ago to wrap things up). Because I had implants before my diagnosis and my awesome surgeon was able to save them, I’ve been able to delay reconstruction until I felt ready to conquer another challenge. I’ve spent the past few years focusing on healing and accepting my new normal, all with the help of an amazing counselor and precious friends and family who’ve stuck by me throughout the journey. I’ve adapted my wardrobe to disguise my misshapen breasts, one which displays a dimple since there was not much tissue removed on the side that didn’t contain cancer (it’s like it is winking at me in the mirror). The other is stretched thin due to the large amount of tissue removed where the cancer had been and the 35 doses of radiation to reduce the risk of recurrence. I refer to this one as a “microwaved donut” as it feels just like the bicep that rests nearby.

So, I’ve finally decided that it’s time to take on the reconstruction process. Having time to accept that my body is forever changed has been critical to my ability to move on. The surgery is called DIEP Flap reconstruction. Put simply, the surgeon will use my belly fat (thank you, my child, for being transverse breach, necessitating a c-section, which created the “pooch” that will serve me in a way I could’ve never anticipated) and creating breasts that will be constructed from my OWN tissue!

PSA: I’m NOT getting “new boobs”…those are gone, along with the sensations they possessed, and neither of those will never return. I am removing damaged parts of my body. I’ll be getting back the chance to dress in clothing that does not resemble a tent, and the possibility of feeling feminine when I go shopping and get ready to step out into the world every morning, without the constant reminders of the most challenging time of my life.

This surgery will not be easy on me or my family by any means. However, I know that the feeling of truly being able to close the door that breast cancer forced open in my life will be such a blessing. I’ve stopped “waiting for the other shoe to drop” (fearing a recurrence). I also realize that having cancer changed me in ways that I never could have imagine…not just physically, but spiritually. It has given me the beauty of friendships that I may have missed out on, and shown me that some people can not handle me at my worst. This has allowed me to focus my energy on those who love me in the good times, and the bad. I’ve been able to forgive those who weren’t there for me, realizing that we each have unique opportunities for enlightenment in this life, and it is not up to me to create those moments for others, but to value and appreciate my own experiences. I am grateful for the fact that I know now what truly matters in life, and I look forward to using the insight and perspective gained to love and live more fully for years to come.

Also, I get to have my port removed! What a blessing it has been for medical staff to access veins easily. However, it has been a constant reminder of life with cancer as I must visit the Cancer center once every 6-8 weeks to have it flushed. C’est la vie!

As you can see in the photo, I’ve cut my hair super short in preparation for surgery. I’ll also use this time to transition to my natural hair color (mostly gray), because…I really just want to be ME! (So thankful to be able to say that and mean it…freckles, wrinkles, scars, and all). Here’s to being comfortable in my skin at 44!

Saying a prayer for peace today as I wait for the surgery date to be set. I see a new beginning ahead, and I know it’s time to leave behind all of the things that no longer serve me. Thank God for second chances.

Balancing Life with Depression: the Ups and Downs

Well, it’s been a couple of months since my last depressive episode, and I’ve been feeling absolutely amazing!

Last week was Spring Break, and if I were depressed, the week would’ve consisted of days flying by, consumed with napping, eating, sleeping, and repeating.

However, for the first time in many years, I actually had the energy to GO DO SOMETHING EVERY DAY without the need to take a nap! I even visited with two different friends in one day…meeting one for lunch, the other for dinner. WHO is THIS girl???

Fast forward to today, and I’m back in my room with my kids. It was one of those glorious days I remember having with my students BBC (before breast cancer, 5 years ago this month). Today, I was able to hold their attention, get them to share without fear, and interact harmoniously as we navigated the basics of budgeting.

These are the precious moments of teaching that I’ve been missing…that anxiety, depression, chemo brain and PTSD stole from me for the past several years. I’ve been paralyzed, and doing my best to just show up for so long that I’d forgotten the beauty of a classroom that runs like a well-oiled machine, one that I have facilitated into a safe and encouraging environment where learning takes place organically.

Because I’m feeling so well today, and have been for a while, it’s quite difficult to remember the darkness of so many previous days. For so long after going through surgery and treatment, it took every last bit of energy for me to make it to work, much less, make it through the day, without stopping to rest before then make the drive home, only to finally collapse from pure exhaustion.

I feel so optimistic and hopeful right now, that a huge part of me wants to believe that I will never experience those feelings of incompetence, sadness and emptiness again. But, based upon the pattern of the past few years (discovered by a couple of years of counseling), another episode that typically lasts several weeks is looming around the corner, possibly coinciding with my upcoming reconstruction surgery.

So, the eternal optimist in me wants to go with my current state of mind, decide that I’ll soldier through it, and maintain my current state of peace. But, the realist knows that I should soak in the good days just as I am every bit of the returning Spring sunshine, and brace for what’s ahead.

How does one who looks for the the positives in every situation force the mind to expect the worst?

I can only pray for continued clarity, strength, and direction through this mind-boggling maze. Here’s hoping that at the very least, it’s somewhat peaceful ahead.

Just Breathe, and Get Stuff Done

Amazing how a few deep breaths can take us from being completely overwhelmed to a sense of freedom and accomplishment.

Sunday’s are usually hard for me. I typically allow the upcoming events of the week to paralyze me into procrastination and overwhelming anxiety. Today, I was able to breathe, tackle one item at a time, and breathe again. Laundry, lesson plans, scheduling…each part of the day was so much easier to face as I was able to focus on one thing at a time, rather than the big picture. Every time the thought that “it’s just too much” came to mind, I purposely replaced it with “you’ve got this”. I may not always succeed in beating anxiety, but today, I did. What a huge blessing!

Here’s wishing you a week that’s peaceful and calm.

#peacefulahead #clarity #healing #graceofgod #findingpeace #selflove