Dear Young Girl Who’s Obsessed With Pinning Wedding Ideas

I’ve seen your “Fairytale” board. I know, it’s all there, perfectly arranged…the ring styles, proposal photo suggestions, save the dates, invitations, dress options, bridesmaid proposal ideas, bachelorette party activities, color schemes, seating charts, the reception attire, checklists, meals, memorabilia, and honey moons. Heck, I’m convinced every wedding will soon have its own custom trademark font. (If it already exists, I DON’T want to know). The energy that has been put into your event before it even begins, and sometimes before you’ve met Mr. Right, far exceeds what you exerted for the final research paper of your Senior year.

After living on God’s precious earth for 44 years, I can not with a clear conscience let you continue to “pin” your heart out without sharing what I’ve learned about love. You see, six years ago, I was a single Mom who’d pretty much decided that true love just wasn’t in the cards for me. I’d kissed a few frogs, and they somehow never turned into princes. So, I was happy to accept a life where I took care of myself and my daughter, without the weight of responsibility and work that seemed to be involved with any prospective partners.

Then, along came the nicest guy. He entered my life with such ease, allowing me to develop trust for him like I’d never known before. Always the gentleman, he wouldn’t even sit on the couch with me when he came over to watch a movie. I was dumbfounded. Did he not feel a spark…a connection? So, this continued for several months, and the friendship we developed was based on nothing but honesty, respect, and admiration for each other.

Once it became obvious that we were more than friends, every step of the relationship felt completely natural and as though it were meant to be. The way he loved not just me, but also my daughter, blew me away.

Six months after we started dating, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. He immediately decided to move in and take care of me as I underwent surgery to remove both of my breasts, which proved to be a much more challenging mental battle than physical. Next, he walked through the completely devastating side effects of 8 rounds of chemotherapy with me…the hair loss, the weight gain, the fears, the stomach issues, the aches and pains, the lack of energy and zest for life. Next came 7 weeks of radiation, and even more discomfort and fatigue, coupled with frustration and so many tears.

We were not even married. He could have walked away. But he stayed. A year after my diagnosis, while my hair was growing back in after chemo (not my most favorite look), with several pounds of chemo weight gain still hanging around, and a set of misshapen breasts, we headed to Vegas for a weekend wedding. I put on a fun rockabilly dress, ordered him a bowling-style shirt, and a poodle skirt for my girl, and in a one hour time slot, we became man & wife as Elvis sang us through our wedding dance.

Since that time, I’ve endured two more surgeries, including a hysterectomy and recently, breast reconstruction. During both of these experiences, he has proven to remain by my side through all of the ups and downs. He never left my side at the hospital, spending every night sleeping in my room. He’s been on the other side of the bathroom door while I struggle through the challenges of post-anesthesia “irregularity”. He’s emptied drain tubes, kept up with medicines, fed me, done the laundry, and made sure I have everything I needed to heal properly. I continue to be blown away by the selfless compassion and kindness shown to me by this man who has continued to express his growing love for me with each passing day.

There are no “pins” available for these things, which scares me a little for you young ladies. True love does not have a custom font, color scheme, or checklist. It is, however, there through the challenges and trials that are sure to come in this life. Making it through the “un-Pinterest-worthy” moments will be your proudest accomplishments, the things that cement your bond. So, while I hope that one day, your wedding is a very special and unforgettable celebration, my greatest wish is that you find an “un-pinnable” kind of love.

🌸Doing it Afraid, and Closing a Chapter➡️

If I said I’m not afraid, I’d be lying.

The fears that were quiet are multiplying.

I’ve felt so good lately it’s hard

To consider letting down my guard.

A barrier of protection I’ve formed,

Against outside noises that swarmed.

I can see life ahead filled with peace,

But before then, I must release.

This hold cancer’s had on my life,

All the fears, the struggles & strife.

I release the dark places of then,

Hoping to never go there again.

My body and mind and my soul,

Have finally been made whole.

So for this next round, I’m prepared.

To go through it, although I may be scared.

This step will help me to turn

All of this time into lessons learned.

My hope is to share all that’s true,

With warriors fighting anew.

I’ve shed tears, broken down, and healed.

And through it all, God’s love’s been revealed.

So if I needed to go where I’ve gone

To help you, it was worth it all along.

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.

Peacefulahead.blog

Instagram: peacefulahead

Email: peacefulahead@gmail.com

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.