Letter of Courage with No Response

Well I can write this with some confidence that it will not go through because I do not meet your criteria as I am one year older than the periphery of the mail settings. I like the liberty that this affords me because you are a real person and I am writing a real letter which will stretch me in a way that I have not experienced before. As much as I like to be transparent and real with people I have learned to be cautious and reserved not letting my guard down for even one minute with this online thing – which is a high price to pay in life. Life is too short to live in such a manner.

This letter reminds of when I used to be dean of a college and I would work with students who would write me these supper long letters and I would read and read and think – just get to the point already! Wow, I so loved that job. I loved helping individuals grow and bloom. I loved imparting confidence into ones that just needed to hear that someone believed in them. I loved seeing students succeed and received the award that they worked so hard to earn. I LOVED touching lives and working for the greater good.

I like how you completed your “About Me” section with a sense of order and rhythm. Unlike my “About Me” section – I must have spend forever coming up with the words and I am still not happy with the description because it really does not portray my heart – the very thing that keeps me going and reaching out to others. But then again can an online profile really portray person accurately? I really don’t think so.

So in the safety net of at least believing you will never actually receive this, I give myself an assignment that hopefully will cause me to step outside of my comfort zone – simply because I do not like to become complacent in life. I like to keep stretching and growing – and believe me I have been stretched to the point of snapping these last few years and have more than survived. So here it goes – my life in the form of a letter to a total stranger (who would have thought that I would ever do this!). The real test will be if I actually SEND it!

First: I am widowed – I will just get that out of the way.

Born and raised in Texas. I moved north after graduating high school. I went to college (earned a D.Min), owned my own business, got married, raised 3 wonderful children (now grown), and co-labored beside my late husband for 23 years. Well, it would be much easier to just refer you to my LinkedIn page for my past history.

I just realized something here – I really don’t like talking about myself, my accomplishments, my goals, my dreams, and my aspirations. I have spent years helping others to do this very thing but yet I cannot do myself. I prefer to listen, encourage and prod others on in their walk of life.

Present day: I have relocated to a wonderful little Texas town in hill country and have the privilege of living right on the lake. I love the character of this town so rich in history, so many beautiful old homes and building. There is a coffee shop downtown that is for sale – I have toured several times – if only I had the courage and the know-how – I’d buy it and redo it much like my favorite little shop up north and have a delightful time. But I recognize I lack the knowledge that is required. But I love to dream, I love to plan, I love to create, I love to soar to the highest heights.

I make myself laugh – I really am an eagle, a pioneer, a mover, a shaker, an establisher, a motivator, a mediator and so much more.

True to my nature I have become involved in my community and in helping others. I am very involved with the chamber here and I am working hard to get to know the people in this community. Where ever I live I want to become a part of the core – I have a need to belong and be a part of the people and feel comfortable. I love to go and recognize individuals that are a part of the community, greet them and make them feel loved – I guess in a sense that is what makes me feel loved – that is what makes me feel a part of whatever is going on. I love spreading joy and experiencing laughter and joy also.

There I did it! I shared my heart with a total stranger online, even though this will just bounce back to my inbox (the great comfort I feel in knowin that). It was a great exercise and I think it is ok to talk about myself after all I do have a lot to offer in life. I do believe in myself and I love believing in others.

Well if this does go through – loved your profile. I have never seen the movie Shallow Hal – I will have to look it up online sometime. I never respond to an individual with a letter like this – I trust it does not offend you. I rarely get responses back if I do stick my neck out and say “Hi” perhaps you can give me pointers as to what I am doing wrong on my profile.

Your profile location is so vague I don’t even know if you are located near my location. Maybe I should change my location to something like that – what do you think?

Two years later . . .

So it’s been a couple years since I’ve written here. I’ve gone through a second round of cancer where the doctor said I’d have two years to live, HER2+3 (triple positive +3 to be exact).  The cancer was contained and I responded well to treatment but I’ve been to hell and back… well I’m on my way back. I’ve lost my home, twice. Like Many cancer patients I’ve used up my finances and have gone into deep debt in order to survive illness. Makes me very nervous. Deep sigh…

Life is very different now.  I have a full-time job. I have an apartment of my own. I’m seeing a counselor getting treatment for PTSD and depression. I’m still alone. My daughter comes to visit every so often which is nice. Every so often I get to see friends.  But mostly it’s just me. I’m finally OK with that.

I actually went back and re-read the whole blog backwards. When I was finished I thought maybe I should’ve started at the beginning and gone forward. I think, do I really even recognize the person that wrote this stuff – Was that really me?

I really don’t know what direction to go with this. Do I pick up and carry-on writing as if I’ve never missed a beat? Or do I try to catch you all up with my world? I don’t really know and I don’t really know if it matters. I ponder my reason for even starting this  blog. I think I did because I was so overwhelmed with thought that I couldn’t make sense out of anything. It’s really no different now. Except now I understand some things.

Catch you later

What Spills? #PTSD

  

I read an interesting article today about character. The article said, whatever is in your cup is what is going to spill out when life shakes you up. Although I agree with that statement initially, I believe overtime your cup can be shaken so much that eventually it is emptied. Once your cup is empty, what comes out of it is the despair of hopelessness. 

Just as a battered wife can be beaten down into submission by an abusive husband; so can a person be beaten down by the traumas of life. To say that one can continuously refill their cup and keep up with the abuse and trauma of life is simply not true. I speak from experience. I speak as one who has been abused, who has been traumatized by life multiple times in rapid succession. 

It feels like a you’re drowning victim. You’re in the pool. You’re going under. You know the water surface is right there but you just can’t get to it. You just can’t get up there to grab another breath of air. You just can’t keep yourself afloat. You know you’re going to die. You know this is your last breath, so you let go and you die.

There’s a thing called accumulative PTSD that hits victims who have experienced trauma after trauma. These victims simply cannot just refill their cup so they can easily handle what is going to be dealt to them each day. PTSD victims do good to simply take a breath each day. Trauma causes them to not be able to properly function. The body is now at a heightened alert, waiting for the next thing to hit. It’s waiting, protecting, guarding and doing everything that trauma has trained to it do simply because it knows something else is about hit. ALERT! ALERT! ALERT! DANGER! MUST PROTECT!
I’m just like that drowning victim finally giving up and almost letting myself die. When a hand reaches in and grabs me, pulls me to safety. We (especially PTSD victims) all need a hand to reach in, grab us and a pull us to safety. There are times when we cannot see how to help ourselves. There are times when we can see where we want to go but we just can’t get there. We need someone to come along beside us and pull us to safety, keep us from drowning and to show us how to take that next breath. 

Yes, my cup was once full. It was so full that when I got bumped into whatever was inside of it with spilled out. My cup is full of joy, and I’d get bumped into and joy with spill all over. Kindness, and kindness would spill all over. Compassion, and compassion would spill. Love, and love would spill. And so on it would spill until finally, the last drops spilled out and the cup cracked from so much bumping.

Today . . .

I am like the drowning victim who has been plucked out of the water. I’ve been laid on the shore. The water is being pushed out of my lungs and I’m gasping for air. My body is still on heightened alert. But I’m beginning to see that I’m safe. My eyes are open and I see where I have been. I am beginning to understand what I’ve been through. But I am not breathing on my own yet. I’ll be in ICU for many months as I learn how to live again. That is what PTSD does to its victims. 

My old cup is broken. I’ve been given a sippy cup. One with the long straw. Doesn’t have anything in it yet but soon it will be filled again with love, compassion, kindness, joy and other goodness. And this time the lid will hold the contents safely inside when it gets bumped. Life will go on. I’ll eventually remove the lid and a little will spill out. I can replace the lid if I need to. I may even get a breakable cup again someday. 

Thoughts for consideration: be the hand that reaches out and saves a life. There is help and healing for PTSD.

Depression is NOT a Choice

Depression is not a choice. Do you hear me !!! Depression is not a choice.

You don’t just wake up one morning depressed. Depression creeps up on you slowly, little by little. It is mixed with highs that make you think you are ok. Highs that allow you to make others think you are ok. When reality is you are caught in a tornado that is spiraling out of control to the the point of no return. 

Depression pushes everyone away and isolates. Depression sets everything up for failure while you lie to yourself hoping and believing it will be ok. Depression is a slow killer worse than any cancer. There is no radiation, chemo or magic pill that will cure it. 
Depression is the one disease that is culturally unacceptable. That is why it is so hidden. That is why we are so shocked when friends kill themselves because of it. 
The question is what do we do when we find ourselves sunk into a depression?
I recently told one of my friends I was battling depression and the response I got was, to be exact, “well that’s your choice.” It has has only made me more depressed. Feel more alone. Be more isolated. 
Every moment I have to choose life. Every moment I have to choose to keep living. Every moment I have to choose to wake up. Every moment I have to choose to keep breathing. These are the real choices of of a depression. Depression is not a choice.

My Journey These Last Two Deadful Years

 

In 2010 I lost my husband to cancer. A few days before his passing I had a routine mammogram and the spots were discovered. Few days after his funeral I had a follow-up mammogram and ultrasound and it was concluded that the spots would just be observed. Two years later cancer developed. I wanted the bilateral mastectomy at that point but my surgeon at the time advised against it. With hindsight I should not have listen to him. He did not get clean margins the first time had to go back and do it a second time and had to take muscle. It was an extremely difficult recovery. I followed up with the radiologist and did 30 some odd rounds of radiation. The radiologist also had me begin the clinical trial. In the clinical trial they tested me for HER2, found I was positive +3, it was aggressive. Being in the trial made me very fearful so I withdrew with the knowledge my cancer was fed not my estrogen or progesterone at that time but by HER2.
I found my medical oncologist, who was referred by a friend when I requested a second opinion for my treatment plan. I like the medical oncologist and chose to make him my primary cancer doctor. He recommended I take tamoxifen for five years. But I had every reaction to that drug that you can have. He took me off that drug and gave me anastrozole. It’s only side effect was bone loss. I did develop osteopenia. As I do with everything I researched the drug and found it does target HER2. I took it for almost two years confident it was helping me. And I believe it did.
While visiting my daughter in Ohio earlier this year I discovered a suspicious area had developed again in my breast. I visited my oncologist once I return home. He assured me he was 99% sure it was nothing but we would do the diagnostic mammogram ultrasound just so that I would have peace of mind. However, after the mammogram the radiologist came in and told me I needed to have a biopsy. Plus there was suspicious spots identified in the other breast that they would again watch. Biopsy concluded I had cancer again, triple positive +3 this time. Oncologist recommended the mastectomy because the cancer I had would continue occur over and over and eventually develop somewhere else. This was my only option for survival. If it was invasive I would have to have chemotherapy, herceptin and I was dreading it. But would have done it. I want to live!
I found a different surgical team this time around.  After my bilateral surgery, the radiology report revealed the cancer was contained noninvasive and they got it all. As my oncologist said, I am cancer free. There is no where for the cancer to return because the breast were removed. And I don’t have to have any more treatment. I get to live. I call that a miracle!!!
I believe him because he had everything to gain financially by giving me treatment for the next five years. But he is honest and told me I do not need to have it or deal with the side effects. I respect his expertise in treating my cancer. It’s imperative you find a medical team that you trust.
I am now in the reconstructive phase. And looking forward to living a full complete life. Thankful for what I’ve learned. Looking forward to helping as many women as I can who are going through this nightmare.  Rejoicing I get to live!

Reality check!

Feelings 12/24/14

My assignment was to identify my feelings and journal about them.
Soooo
Right now I regret ever moving to Ohio. I regret ever disconnecting with my family in Texas. I regret many of the early choices I made.
Why did I make them? Desperation. Trying to survive instead of live. Maybe I’ve come back here and I’m in that mode of life again.
I just wish I knew where I am suppose to be because I’d be there doing whatever it is that I’m suppose to be doing.
I moved to Ohio running from my step dad. I stayed in Ohio because I got married and had a family. I never belonged there. 
I feel like ministry was a waste. I was doing it out of a call but also to build my future. Everything I did was to build a future. I was looking ahead hoping. I was sowing into what I thought was not only my eternal future but also my earthly future. I was trying to build relationships that would stand the test of time. But I was just the minister. I was just the one they called on in time of need.
I did live a guarded life careful not to get too emotionally attached simply because I had to be strong through crisis. I had to be there for the families that needed emotional support. Didn’t mean I didn’t love. Didn’t mean I didn’t care. Didn’t mean I didn’t hurt. It was just a conditioning we had in order to be present when needed.
And now I find my conditioning doesn’t work on myself! I feel every aspect of the hurt. I feel every aspect of the pain. I feel it all and now I don’t know what to do with it.
I wonder if all the years of being strong for others is crashing in on me? I wonder if that is why I am not able to cope well? 
4-13-2015
Reality check!
Regret?! Really?! No way 
In reality things should have been the same or worst if I’d stayed in Texas instead of moving away and making a life for myself. The only difference . . . Well, I may not have survived back then. I was on a course of destruction, self destruction and I would have succeeded. It is a very good thing I moved away and was able to get the help I needed during that season of life. 
I don’t regret leaving. I don’t regret coming back. It has helped me to understand this is not particularly where I should be. Right now I’m not exactly sure where that is but I do know it is not here. But this has been a divine stop in my journey of life. I needed this stop. I needed these people in my life. I thought I needed my family but but God places the people in our lives that He wants to be our family during the times that they are assigned. 
I see I am beginning to heal, not only physically from the cancer but also emotionally and spiritually. I know I’m not there yet but I will get there. I’m going to be ok. I’m going to be even better than ok. I know I will be.

Melody of the Windchime

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I woke to the random strikes of my Windchime being tussled around in the cold wind. As the wind picks up the chime strikes louder creating an odd melody that if words were added to it would be quite a dramatic tune.

My late husband and I purchased this chime while visiting Ohio Amish country on our 20th anniversary almost 10 years ago. At the time I thought it had a nice ring to it. It hung on my front porch for many years. But if I recall correctly I looped the wind catcher up on the top piece disabling it from the endless chimes created by the Ohio winters winds.

The family I’m staying with while having cancer treatments have a chime in the backyard with a beautiful pitch that creates a wonderful melody. The tubes are larger in length and diameter; the clapper is positioned correctly within the tubing to create a soothing, meditative tune rather than a noise to scare birds and other animals away.

Wind chimes have always brought soothing tones echoing the music of the breeze and bringing a relaxed, positive, healing, meditative feeling. I remember walking in the evening listening to the various chimes in the distance. They created a place of peace and balance captured in song as I walked along. If I stop and allow sound over take me it can ease stress, improve focus, wash away anger, and soothe the soul … even right now in the middle of this Texas winter storm.

Beauty

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I remember when my babies were in diapers. It seems that they were in diapers for eternity. My late husband used to say he couldn’t wait until he didn’t have to buy diapers anymore.

Then came prostate cancer. It seemed as soon as we stopped buying baby diapers we had to begin buying adult diapers.

This morning I’m reminded of that comment he made. We battled cancer for 17 long horrendous years. I hated that my husband died of cancer. I hate it when he drew his last breath. But I must admit I was so thankful to not be battling cancer anymore. I’ve not yet hit the five-year mark from the day he died that dreadful day. And I sit here battling my own cancer for 3 months now.

My beauty was attacked, my breast. Well I am still beautiful. I am still desirable and someday I will be remarried; have no idea who to. . . AND I will make my future husband the happiest man in the world because THAT is who and what I am. And I get to rebuild my breast even more beautifully prefect than before.

Cancer you suck! But I have a hope and a future! I will LIVE AND NOT DIE!!!

Me and The Ant

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I saw a little ant today crawling around on a rock and my first instant was to squish it. I was reminded of my own life how I am going about my business when suddenly, unexpectedly I feel like I am being squished. Like the ant I didn’t see it coming. I did not see the giant finger that sought to take my life. And like the ant, it took more than one attempt before the life was squished out of me. I try to looking for the ant that I tried so hard to squish and it is not to be found. It must have lived and crawled away. Will it survive? I don’t know. They are resilient creatures, quite amazing in many ways.

Of course you have watched an ant about its business forging for food, protecting its hill! Amazing in many ways. So small but so tuff. They have remarkable strength. I wonder if the ant ever gets overwhelmed. I wonder if the ant ever gets sick except when I spray them with ant killer! I wonder if the ant ever needs another ant to hug, to smile at, to talk to… Amazing!

Death of a Dream of Love

My heart is heavy. I hoped on that which I should not have hoped. I love that which I should not have given my love to. I thought that I could build on something grow and nurture something and in fact I could never have. Not because of any fault on my part. I am a person of integrity. I am a person of high standards. But I was a pawn in somebody else’s hand. I was a play toy. I was something that they were simply using to fill their own pleasure.

My heart is completely broken. I have a sense of hopelessness to me now. I wasted time, precious time. Time is something I don’t have an abundance of anymore. All I wanted was love. All I wanted was happiness. All I wanted was to share my life with somebody who wanted to share their life with me. I didn’t want somebody that was going to play with my heart, that was going to screw around on me, that was going to use me and then toss me aside.

I know now that I need to confront truth. I know now that I need to confront, confront and resolve. Oh the joys of life. To live, to love, to have a broken heart.