Facing My Fear of Joy

Fear is a common challenge many of us face throughout life…fear of pain, fear of heights, fear of loss. However, there’s a fear that I’ve only recently uncovered that seems so, well…taboo.

I’m afraid of experiencing too much joy. There, I said it. Yes, you read that right…I have a fear of feeling JOY, of all things there are to be afraid of in this world.

Six years ago, my world was turning beautifully. I had a precious daughter who was my everything. I was feeling the warmth of a new and very real love like I’d never experience before. My career as a teacher had hit a comfortable phase, and I was finding new ways to challenge myself professionally. I was even quite happy with how I looked, able to see my own true beauty for the first time in many years.

Then, it felt as though the ground I was standing firmly on started to crumble as breast cancer threatened to take away all of the blessings in my life. The many surgeries, chemo, radiation, medications, and hormonal therapies seemed to slowly rip out each page of my life’s plan book and tear them to shreds before my eyes.

I found myself lacking many qualities that I’d once been able to take for granted. My brain didn’t operate the same way it once did. My nerves were so raw that the basic daily routines of life caused me to become overwhelmed, and many times, paralyzed. The exhaustion I felt by just going through the motions of life hindered my ability to keep up relationships that I’d once cherished. Life became a daily dance that started when my eyes opened each morning and discovered which intro music would be playing. Some days, it was the kind you’d hear at the end of a tear-jerking movie; others, I’d wake to hear the soundtrack that accompanies a fantastic fight scene. Never knowing how long the energy for that day would last, I was reluctant to get too comfortable in an energetic place, fearing that I would be too disappointed when it would inevitably pass.

Now, I’m past all of the treatments, surgeries, and physical healing for the most part, and I actually feel good on most days. (Minus the end of the week as a high school teacher kind of tired that my colleagues are quick to remind me is NORMAL). But this year, I found myself feeling anxious as the holidays approached. I was unable to put my finger on exactly why until now.

The anxiety I’ve felt can only be attributed to a fear of truly feeling joy. You know, the kind that can only be felt through loving connections with others…friends, family, loved ones. It seems I’ve been subconsciously avoiding that type of interaction due to the fear of losing it. There is no heart-break like the one experienced when life deals you a hand that takes you out of the game. When life goes on for those all around you, but you lack the strength and energy to be a part of it, a hole is created that can only be filled by clinging to the daily promise of God’s never ending grace.

My instinctive response to this isolation was to separate myself even further, preventing any additional suffering. However, I know now that it is my deepest responsibility to acknowledge this fear, so that it might release some of its impact on my life.

I will begin again, exposing my vulnerabilities, pursuing peace, and allowing myself to feel the joy that I’ve missed for so long. Fear will not win, and whatever the cost or the pain of future loss, the blessings of allowing life’s beauty to unfold will be the greatest gift of all.

A Little Bit of Sunshine Goes a Long Way

We often get so busy with schedules and daily tasks that we forget to pause and take in the beauty of God’s precious creation. The soul nourishment provided by the sunshine, a breeze, or the twinkling stars exceeds any caffeinated beverage or energy drink available. Starting today, I vow to spend a few minutes each morning and every evening taking in the glorious energy available to us every day.

I am certain that it will provide the sense of calm and balance necessary to accomplish the tasks of daily life. Will you join me?

Joy and Gratitude for the Little Things

My husband surprises me with flowers from time to time. I couldn’t help but pause and thank God for putting such a kind-hearted and thoughtful man by my side for this rollercoaster called life.

What are you thankful for today?

#peacefulahead #blessed #justbecauseflowers #partnerforlife #throughthegoodandbad #itsthelittlethings #gratitude #joy

🌸Reclaiming Femininity With Reconstruction; Hope and Healing in Sight🌸

Yesterday was finally the day. I arrived at the hospital for DIEP Flap Breast Reconstruction. For this procedure, fat is taken from the belly and used to make breast mounds. It took about 4 hours, thanks to my awesome doctor who works with a partner. Many of these procedures take 10-12 hours as the doctor chooses to work alone. When I had a mastectomy for breast cancer 5 years ago, my surgeon was able to keep my existing implants, which allowed me to take my time healing after treatment before deciding to have reconstruction. After surgery yesterday, I found out that one of those had bursted, therefore causing a very uneven set of “foobs” (term for fake boobs in the bc community). When I woke up, I could not wait to see the results. The first thing I noticed was that my chemo port was gone. I’d had to leave it in for this long “just in case the aggressive cancer returned”. For the past 4 years, I’ve had to return to the Cancer center once every six weeks to have it flushed. Talk about a constant reminder. I’m so very thankful that thing is gone! While I’ll never forget the experience of having breast cancer, I am now able to appreciate the changes that it has made in me, and move forward, using the strength and faith I’ve gained along this journey.

The next thing I noticed when I looked down was that I have CLEAVAGE! Then, further down, I saw a COMPLETELY FLAT BELLY! Wow!!! I am so very grateful to overcome this final hurdle. I can’t even begin to fathom what it will be like to go shopping for clothes after spending the past 4 years trying to cover up in oversized, flowy tops!

I was required to stay in bed for the remainder of the day & overnight. Today, I’ll be getting up and walking a few times & sitting in a chair. The only pain I feel so far is some pretty intense burning sensations at the hip-to-hip incision site, and a bit more of the same on my upper incision sites. Hoping that today, pain will be kept to a minimum.

One of the first thoughts I had was “why did I put this off so much longer than necessary?” Then, I was immediately able to reflect on the gratitude I feel for every step of the journey. Because I was able to accept my body, although it was quite disfigured for the past few years, I now have a deeper sense of self-love and compassion than I had ever thought possible. I now realize that the delay was necessary for me to learn to love myself, and confirm that although my body is not the same as it was when we began dating, my dear husband truly loves me for me. What better gift could I have received?

Wishing you all a beautiful day that’s filled with gratitude,acceptance, and the hope of a life that’s peaceful ahead.

A Poem of Gratitude

Today, I am grateful…

For a sun that shines,

The peaceful times,

And a heart that knows.

Today, I am thankful…

For a partner in life,

Strength in the strife,

And a soul that grows.

Today, I appreciate…

Friends and family who care,

And that I can be there,

When life deals it’s blows.

Today, I remember…

The challenges faced,

The heart that raced,

And the power that rose.

Today, I look forward…

To chapters anew,

A story that’s true,

With hope that glows.

Today, I am prayerful…

That you find your peace,

With comfort and ease,

Painful chapters to close.

Today, I praise God…

Each day a new day,

Our hurt goes away,

Because His Son arose.