Chill Out!


This post deals with the third factor that we can have control over to improve our odds of not having cancer or having a recurrence.

There are four areas. They are:

  1. Nutrition
  2. Activity
  3. Stress Management
  4. Toxins

Today my focus is on stress management.

I am all ears.  I seriously need to learn how to handle stress. Many of the times I get sick it was stress induced.  I  tend to stuff it down until things are so volatile I explode emotionally.

 

There are numerous things that you can do to relax and unwind. I’m going to share with you the ones suggested to me, and the ones I have found to help reduce stress.

Yoga, meditation, Tai Chi, and  a daily devotional were at the top of lists of suggestions. My attemps at yoga were not stress reducing.  The instructor was good,  the moves weren’t  beyond a normal person’s range,  but with a back injury, any pressure on the lower spine caused pain and all floor moves were a strain. I am interested in trying Tai Chi. I have asked at our local YMCA if they offer it,  if not I may look it up on Youtube.

I have a daily devotional, and I journal in my bullet journal.  I find that by writing down my thoughts in my bujo,  I tend to write it down, and not vent to others.  This seems to be somewhat calming because as I write it out, I can often think of how to resolve or  see that I need to shake it off.

Exercise in various forms can be a huge stress releiver. The swim classes that I have been taking are relaxing to me. Walking on a treadmill is not relaxing,  but  going for a walk at the park is very relaxing. OK, maybe not while I am huffing up that little hill on the backside,  but when I am finished and have walked the distance,  there is a satisfaction of accomplishment and a soothing effect on the entire body.  When I was exercising regularly a few years ago,  I would use the elliptical and I participated in a kickboxing class. I really enjoyed the kickboxing,  but then they dropped it.  I didn’t feel like the elliptical was helping in stress reduction, although it was helping me to achieve better cardiovascular fitness so in effect it really was helping to reduce my stress!

A healthy nutritious diet can also reduce stress whereas a high junkfood diet can contribute to additional stress in your body.

Adult coloring books. There is something very gratifying about coloring in those little spaces! My husband bought me a couple different types of coloring books, and I recently purchased a coloring book planner.  My attention lately has been fully devoted to the planner.  If I’m not jotting my to do list, and scheduling apointments, I’m coloring in the margins. The only time this isn’t relaxing is when my eyes are strained, and it becomes aggravating and can actually lead to a headache.

A glass of wine. Red wine has  many benefits,  one of which is to relax you. My oncologist stated that a glass of red wine, three times a week would be  beneficial for my health and well being. Three glasses, not three bottles.

Some  people find fishing relaxing and a way to cope with stress. Others  will paint furniture or landscapes. I am going to try my hand at the rock painting, and leave them around our area. I’ll take a picture of them once I go find some flat river rocks.

Even with all of these options,   I  have a hard time with stress management. I tend to be one of those people who wears their heart on their sleeve and take things to heart. I get wound up when things don’t go as planned, which is most of the time. I get upset when others don’t do their part. I worry about my kids,  where they are what they are doing, whether they are safe. I worry about the cancer –  what if it comes back, what if it spreads next  time,  what if my girls end up with it, what if . . . and then I am so wound up that even the bottle of wine doesn’t help.

My sister’s solution is Xanax.  I don’t have a prescription to Xanax, but I am wondering  how in the world I am going to manage this emotional rollercoaster that I have been on ever since being diagnosed. The medications only contribute more, causing my emotions to be heightened.

While you are reading this, I will be practicing my favorite form of relaxation: toes in the sand.

What do you do to unwind? How do you manage the daily stress? The emotional stress? What form of stress releif do you practice?

I will do everything within my power to never have to go through this again, including changing my lifestyle completely.

Write on my friends, write on.

 

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You’ve Got to Move It!


There are four things that you can do to improve your odds of not having cancer or having a recurrence of cancer. They are:

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Nutrition
  2. Activity
  3. Stress Management
  4. Toxins

Today my focus is on the second one, activity.

It is recommended that we move 10,000 steps a day and that we are active for at least 30 minutes a day, six days a week. Now, that is the bare minimum.

Coming off the end of radiation treatment,  the fatigue was overwhelming. I had very little energy to do anything more than going to my treatments, walk up and down the hall a few times a day, and slept the bulk of the time.

Now that I am recovering from the fatigue,  it’s still lingering but not nearly as bad.

The first time I went to the park to walk, I had to sit on a park bench after just a few minutes. I ended up doing a half mile but stopping three times because I was so weak. My mind goes instantly to a few years ago when I was diligently doing my cardio, working for an hour at a time on an elliptical, tread mill, or multi-trainer.  But I kept at it.  The next week I was able to do fifteen minutes continuously. The following week I was up to 18 minutes.

I started doing some videos at home with Fitness Marshall. I could barely do one, then rest and do another later. Little by little though I am gaining strength and endurance.

For everyone,  it is recommended that we get 30 minutes of cardio movement daily. For a cancer patient, it is vitally important. Movement increases your blood flow, it strengthens your veins, it strengthens your heart.  You don’t have to run marathons –  thank God or I’d be screwed.

In fact, starting off it is recommended that we engage in a moderate exercise of 30 minutes. Coming off of radiation 30 minutes was overwhelming. Nobody was pressuring me to do more except my own inner drive.  I had to come to terms with the reality of where I was,  what I had been through, and know that if I kept at it,  I would see improvement.

Well, I have. I’m not there yet but I’ve improved.  I can stay on the treadmill for nearly 30 minutes at a time.  I can keep up with the Zumba class for nearly the full 45 minutes. I started an aqua aerobics class today and managed the entire class without having to stop. That may not sound like much to some of you, but considering just a few weeks ago, I had to sit on the park bench after only ten minutes,  it’s progress.

I see many people that set a goal to run a marathon or a 5K. If you like to run go for it. I need to lose a significant amount of weight before I would feel comfortable running.  I think it would be damaging to my knees at my current weight.

I want to be able to walk down the beach to the pier without sucking wind. I want to be able to go  up the stairs without feeling exhausted.  I want to be able to do the things I need to do throughout the day without feeling like I need a nap. Not that there is anything wrong with naps,  but when you feel drained every day after just cleaning the bathroom,  it doesn’t get the house clean.

I know it will be there waiting for me tomorrow,  but when you go in the bathroom and it smells like toilet. . . . .  some things have to be done now.

Speaking of current weight . . . I haven’t been making weekly posts or anything,  but I am down 32 pounds since surgery on May 3rd.

A lot of that was due to not having much appetite with new medications to take, general nausea from chemo medicines, facing side effects of treatments, learning what foods would stay down and be tolerated because I do not like to puke.

The last ten, however, has been hard fought. I have reached a point where nausea has subsided or I’ve just learned which foods to avoid. My appetite on some days makes me feel ravenous. I have to be careful,  a lot of bread type things do not cause nausea and they are easy to grab. Pretzels, toast with peanut butter, crackers,  are all former go to snacks.

I have to limit my carbs. Whether caused by the stress of all of this or just timing with genetics and being overweight,  but I was also diagnosed with diabetes so I have to learn how to eat differently. As I mentioned last week,  the dietician has been one of the best parts of my treatment plan.  When my primary doctor told me to watch my carbs, he said no more than 15 carbs.

I was very careful not to eat more than 15 carbs for the entire day. That isn’t a  lot.  So, I go to the dietician and she says limit each item to 15 grams of carbs,  but I should have 45 grams a day. Well,  That was also why I lost a few of those pounds.

Exercise can help in weight loss. My goal, however, is not to exercise to lose weight. My goal is to exercise, to a minimum of 30 minutes a day in some form or other to improve my quality of life and prevent the recurrence of cancer.

I have been active at least three days a week for the past month. That is a big improvement from the previous three months. This week starts my five days a week plan.  I don’t know how long it will take me to be comfortable at this level, but I’ve always heard that beyond your comfort zone is when you see improvement.

The important thing is to start where you are.  If you walk to the end of your driveway and back and that is all you can do,  then shoot for doing that every day for at least a week before increasing.  Then, do it twice a day for a while until that is comfortable. Then add something else.

You don’t have to join a gym,   you can walk in your neighborhood.  You can exercise with youtube videos.  You can do jumping jacks in your living room – well, maybe you can.  I couldn’t a few weeks ago.  I didn’t have the energy after radiation. Who knows, maybe next week I will.

Most of us need to take better care of ourselves. I certainly do. This is a hard lesson for me,  to make myself a priority and take care of myself.

As I prepare a lesson for tonight and will have to wear one of those paper hospital masks to protect myself from germs because I will be around people,  I am reminded that this is worth it.  I am worth it.

 

I will do everything within my power to never have to go through this again.

Write on my friends, write on.

 

Proper Nutrition for Preventing Cancer Reccurrence


Last week I posted No Cancer formed against me shall prosper,

today I’d like to address the first of four areas that is within our power to control.

Obesity increases your odds for a heart attack and diabetes, the two most medicated conditions in our society.

Obesity increases your odds for cancer. This is something I never heard before the diagnosis of breast cancer. Certain cancers like breast cancer feed off of the hormone estrogen, which is carried in the fat cells, and the more fat cells, the more estrogen, the higher your risk for cancer.

Don’t believe me?  Go here:  American Cancer Society

Sugar feeds cancer as well.

Let me tell you,  there is nothing that will put the fear of dying into you like CANCER.

Much like diabetes, cancer can be self-inflicted.

There are four areas that we can have control of whether or not we get cancer or get a recurrence of cancer.  Once you have been diagnosed with cancer,  there is always a risk of it returning. You’re always looking over your shoulder.  I want to put as much distance between me and cancer as I can.

IF I CAUSED THIS,  THEN I CAN FIX THIS.

I can at least do everything within my power to improve my odds of survival.  The first major area to help prevent or avoid a recurrence is proper nutrition.

A well-balanced diet, consisting mainly of plant-based nutrients with lean proteins as the best dietary plan that I ‘ve seen prescribed by doctors and the American Cancer Society.  I looked at various diet plans: juicing, (not recommended for diabetic patients) vegetarian, (also not recommended for diabetic patients) Mediterranean, South Beach, and the recommended My Plate diet plan.

The dietary plan that works best for me is a modified MyPlate plan that leans towards Mediterranean. This excludes sugar, soda, processed meats, processed foods, chemical laden anything. Which means  no more: soda, (yes I occasionally would enjoy a Coke, or Mountain Dew) bacon (ouch that really hurts but carcinogenic) hot dogs, bologna, processed meats, smoked sausage, processed cereals,  Kraft mac and cheese in a box (no more powdered cheese sauce mix), alcohol (I’m going to miss my wine),anything soy (soy doesn’t play well with breast cancer), and reduced red meats.  No turkey bacon– have you ever read the list of ingredients to make that? Talk about processed!

Think about the sugar alone –  have you ever checked the labels for ingredients to see if it has sugar? How many sugars? There is sugar in things you would never imagine. Crackers, for instance, some of them contain sugar.

I can have red meats once a week. So if I opt for a burger,  that is my red meat for the week.  If I have a slice of ham for breakfast, that counts for the week.

Just about the entire center section of the grocery store I can bypass. The bulk of my diet – no pun intended – is fresh fruits and vegetables. I am limited on the number of carbs I can have because of the diabetic issues, and I am hoping that over time and by following this plan, as my weight drops that I can lose the diabetic medications as well.

Part of the whole cancer treatment plan is seeing a dietician. Best part of the plan for me! It certainly beats the radiation therapy by a mile!

In all honesty, this has been a difficult change to make. A lifetime of bad eating habits have to be changed. So, I’ve been learning to adapt to a new way of eating because quite frankly,  my old habits were killing me – literally. It’s really easy to say no to the foods I shouldn’t eat,  all I have to do is look at my scars.

In order to give myself the best chance of beating cancer, I employ the top 10 list of nutrient dense foods. These are high in phytochemicals, which contain antioxidants, which help fight cancer. I eat  at least one of these a day.

TOP 10 Nutrient Dense Foods:

1. Salmon

Not all fish is created equal. Salmon, and other fatty types of fish, contain the greatest amount of Omega-3s. Omega-3 fatty acids are extremely important for the optimal function of your body. They’re linked to improved wellbeing and a lower risk of many serious diseases .

Although salmon is mainly prized for its beneficial composition of fatty acids, it also packs a massive amount of other nutrients.

A 3.5 ounce piece of wild salmon contains 2.8 grams of Omega-3s, along with lots of high quality animal protein and a ton of vitamins and minerals… including large amounts of Magnesium, Potassium, Selenium and all the B-vitamins .

It is a good idea to eat fatty fish at least once or twice a week, to get all the Omega-3s that your body (and brain) desperately need. Studies show that the people who eat fatty fish regularly have a lower risk of heart disease, dementia, depression and a plethora of common diseases.

Also,  salmon tastes awesome and is fairly simple to prepare. It also tends to make you feel full with relatively few calories.

2. Kale

Of all the super healthy leafy greens, kale is king. It is loaded with vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants and various bioactive compounds.

A 2/3 cup portion of kale contains:

  • 200% of the RDA for Vitamin C.
  • 300% of the RDA for Vitamin A (from beta-carotene).
  • 1000% of the RDA for Vitamin K1.
  • Large amounts of Vitamin B6, Potassium, Calcium, Magnesium, Copper and Manganese.

This is coming with 2 grams of fiber, 3 grams of protein and only 50 calories.

Kale may be even healthier than spinach. Both are super nutritious, but kale is lower in oxalates, which are substances that can bind minerals like calcium in the intestine, preventing them from being absorbed.

Kale (and other greens) are also loaded with various bioactive compounds, including Isothiocyanates and Indole-3-Carbinol, which have been shown to fight cancer in test tubes and animal studies.

BOTTOM LINE: Kale is one of the most nutrient dense vegetables you can eat, with large amounts of vitamins, minerals and cancer-fighting compounds.

3. Garlic

Garlic really is an amazing ingredient. Not only can it turn all sorts of bland dishes into delicious treats, it is also incredibly nutritious. It is high in vitamins C, B1 and B6, Calcium, Potassium, Copper, Manganese and Selenium.

But garlic is also loaded with another incredibly important nutrient called Allicin, which is the active ingredient in garlic. There are many studies on the health benefits of allicin and garlic. It has been shown to lower blood pressure and total and LDL cholesterol, while raising HDL… which should lead to a reduced risk of heart disease down the line.

It also has various cancer-fighting properties. Studies show that the people who eat a lot of garlic have a much lower risk of several common cancers, especially cancers of the colon and stomach. Garlic is also very potent at killing pathogens like bacteria and fungi.

BOTTOM LINE:Garlic is both tasty and extremely healthy. It is highly nutritious and the bioactive compounds in it have known disease fighting properties.

4. Shellfish

Out of all the wonderfully nutritious organisms found in the sea, shellfish may be the most nutritious of all. This includes clams, oysters, scallops, and various others.

Clams are among the best sources of vitamin B12 in existence, with a 100 grams of clams supplying over 16 times the RDA! It is also loaded with other nutrients, including Vitamin C, B-Vitamins, Potassium, Selenium and Iron.

Really, shellfish are among the most nutritious foods in existence. Unfortunately, people rarely consume them.

BOTTOM LINE:Shellfish are among the most nutritious organisms found in the sea. They are very high in important nutrients like Vitamin B12 and Zinc. Really,  who needs encouragement to eat more shellfish, right?

5. Blueberries

When it comes to the nutritional value of fruits, blueberries are in a league of their own. Although they’re not as high in vitamins and minerals as vegetables (calorie for calorie), the antioxidant content is where they really shine. They are loaded with powerful antioxidant substances, including anthocyanins and various phytochemicals, some of which can cross the blood-brain barrier and exert protective effects on the brain.

Several studies have examined the health effects of blueberries in humans. One study found that blueberries improved memory in older adults. Another study found that obese men and women with metabolic syndrome had a lowered blood pressure and reduced markers of oxidized LDL cholesterol, when they added blueberries to their diet.

This finding makes sense, given that eating blueberries has been shown to increase the antioxidant value of the blood. Then multiple studies in test tubes and experimental animals suggest that blueberries can help fight cancer.

BOTTOM LINE:Blueberries are very nutritious compared to most fruits and are loaded with powerful antioxidants, some of which can increase the antioxidant value of the blood and have protective effects on the brain.

6. Dark Chocolate (Cocoa)

Dark chocolate with a high cocoa content is one of the most nutritious foods you can eat.

It is loaded with fiber, iron, magnesium, copper and manganese. But the biggest factor is its amazing range of antioxidants. In fact, a study showed that cocoa and dark chocolate scored higher than any other food they tested, which included blueberries and acai berries.

There are multiple studies in humans showing that dark chocolate has powerful health benefits… including improved blood flow, a lower blood pressure, reduced oxidized LDL and improved brain function .

 

Make sure to get dark chocolate with a 70% cocoa content, at least. The best ones contain 85% cocoa or higher. Eating a small square of quality dark chocolate every day may be one of the best ways to “supplement” your diet with additional antioxidants. Permission to eat chocolate!

7. Spinach

Popeye knew what was up: Spinach is one of best sources of potassium and is also rich in vitamin K, vitamin A, manganese, folate, and iron. One cup raw provides over half of your daily recommended value (DV) for vitamin A, which is necessary for healthy vision, immune system, and reproduction. Want even more? Cooked leaves provides over 100 percent! Sauté in a little olive oil and garlic to accompany your dinner or add to a salad.

8. Brussel Sprout:

Brussels sprouts get a bad rap, but their nutrient profile will set the record straight: One cup cooked provides 195 percent daily  of vitamin K—crucial in helping your body absorb calcium—and 125 percent of vitamin C, which plays an important role in the formation of collagen, the main support system of skin, which helps to reduce wrinkles. Plus, they offer more than 10 percent of your vitamin A, vitamin B-6, folate, potassium, and manganese needs for the day. Try roasting brussels sprouts with olive oil and then tossing in balsamic vinegar to enhance their flavor.

9. Almonds:

We might not always think of almonds as produce, but remember they do come from a tree. Almonds are a great source of vitamin E, biotin, manganese, copper, magnesium, phosphorous, fiber, and heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. They’re the perfect afternoon snack to rack up nutrients and help hold you over ’til dinner. Just be sure to stick with a one-ounce serving (shot glass size) or you’ll wind up consuming too many calories.

10. Sweet Potatoes:

Sweet potatoes are, of course, best known for being a great source of beta-carotene (hence the deep orange color), which may reduce the risk of developing certain types of cancer, decrease heart disease, protect against asthma, and slow down the aging process. But one medium sweet potato also provides over 100 percent of your daily needs for vitamin A, 37 percent for vitamin C, 16 percent for vitamin B6, 15 percent for potassium, and 28 percent for manganese. You’ll also find small amounts of calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, vitamin E, thiamin, riboflavin, and folate in the bright veggie.

I have had either spinach or kale nearly every day. Brussel sprouts makes a good side with salmon. Half of a sweet potato with a little salt and pepper is very satisfying. Blueberries are one of my favorites.  I like to have blueberries with cottage cheese, with a little lemon zest.

There are more nutrient dense foods, but these are my fast go to foods to ensure that I get the nutrients I need. I hope this helps some of you,  it’s sort of my go to cheat list when I am pressed for time,  haven’t thought out what to cook for dinner or what sides to have. It’s super simple to throw together a salad that includes either kale or spinach.

Any excuse to add shellfish to my diet is a good one.  Since I have to eliminate red meat from my diet most of the time, shellfish and fish have been staples. Plus, a light meal of crab salad replacing that burger is much more satisfying.

If you find this interesting,  then leave  a message.  I’m considering sharing recipes for this new eating plan.  It may not be a big deal for most of you,  but growing up in middle America, in a large family that celebrated with food, it’s certainly a deal for me.

Let me know what you think.  Would you like to see recipes?

Cancer took a big part of my peace of mind and has left me with a compromised immune system.scars, I am determined to do everything within my power to never have to go through this again.

Write on my friends, write on.

 

No Cancer Formed Against Me. . .


My husband recently bought me a tee shirt that states: NO Cancer formed against me shall prosper.  A take on the scripture:

 No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; . . . 

Isa.54:17  – King James Version

The fight against cancer is like no other battle that you will ever face. The doctor can tell you, you’ve got high blood pressure, it could lead to a stroke.  But many people go right on with what they have been doing until the day it happens and then everyone is shocked that  Uncle Joe had a stroke.

You have a family history of diabetes, chances are you will get it too.  I have three generations of diabetes in my family –  maybe more but I don’t think medical practice documented anything prior to that, and they didn’t live long either. OK,  I know I should make some changes.  I don’t want to be taking insulin.  Then I go right back to devouring sugar laden brownies, and a bag of cheetos, and fast food fries, and, and, and.

You will see all over the news,  the tv commercials for hospitals supposedly to help us as a nation improve our health that obesity is linked to heart disease and diabetes. Statistics puts 2 out of 3 adults in America today as overweight or obese.

This is scary: Obesity increases your odds for a heart attack and diabetes, the two most medicated conditions in our society.

I’ll tell you something even scarier: Obesity increases your odds for cancer. This is something I never heard before getting it. Cancer is far scarier than heart disease or diabetes because we know people who live with it.  “Oh yeah, my dad takes heart medications. My sister has diabetes, I don’t know how she administers her shots every day.”

This is something I never heard before getting it. Cancer is far scarier than heart disease or diabetes because we know people who live with it.  “Oh yeah, my dad takes heart medications. My sister has diabetes, I don’t know how she administers her shots every day.”

Certain cancers like breast cancer feed off of the hormone estrogen, which is carried in the fat cells, and the more fat cells, the more estrogen, the higher your risk for cancer.

Don’t believe me?  Go here:  American Cancer Society

I don’t think it’s any secret to anyone here that I am overweight.  I am obese. My whole family is large. I contributed it to my genes, upbringing, yes and learned habits. We all ate wrong foods, too large portions, and lots of sugary desserts. (My mother was an excellent baker!)

Sugar feeds cancer as well.  I have dabbled with going sugar-free for a few years, but then at Easter or Christmas there would be a dessert table laden with scrumptious sweets and I would indulge.  I have been sugar-free since May 3rd, the day of my surgery.

Let me tell you,  there is nothing that will put the fear of dying into you like CANCER.

I’m not ready to go yet. I want to live to be a pain in the butt for my girls and hopefully, some day have grandkids. Therefore, I have been reading everything I can to keep from having a second bout with cancer. I count myself as blessed to have been given a second chance,  I don’t want to waste it.

It is with mixed emotions that I share this next bit – because a part of me wants to claim the victim role.

Breast cancer? Why me?  What did I do? I don’t have any family history. 

Much like diabetes, cancer can be self-inflicted.

But how? 

There are four areas that we can have control of whether or not we get cancer or get a recurrence of cancer.  Once you have been diagnosed with cancer,  there is always a risk of it returning. You’re always looking over your shoulder.  I want to put as much distance between me and cancer as I can.

So, logic would dictate:

IF I CAUSED THIS,  THEN I CAN FIX THIS.

There are four areas that we can take control:

  1. Nutrition
  2. Activity
  3. Stress Management
  4. Toxins

Over the next four weeks on Monday I will be addressing these. I’m not trying to tell anyone what to do, or what to eat. The fact is, these past four months have scared me witless in a way that the doctor telling me I need to lose weight never could.  NOT ONCE did anyone ever say, being fat can cause cancer. I was told, ‘You need to lose weight’ (Tell me something I don’t already know.) ‘You have a family history of diabetes.’ (I know, I really need to watch my carbs and sugar.) ‘Being overweight is hard on your joints.’ (Ya think? You try carrying around this extra weight all the time!) It can lead to heart disease. (I need to get back to the gym.)

But not once did anyone ever tell me, You know, I know you feel like you’re a victim in this but if you continue in this lifestyle, obesity is linked to breast cancer and you could get cancer.

I’m pretty smart about most things but when it came to my own health, I was a moron. I knew I needed to make changes just like everyone knows that pizza isn’t on the biggest loser diet plan. I knew I needed to get back to the gym but . . . . and then the excuses begin. Cancer, however, got my full attention, woke me up out of the stupor I was in. A sugar laden processed food lack of movement Michelin man stupor.

Cancer took part of my breast,  part of my dignity,  a big part of my peace of mind, and has left me with a compromised immune system, scars, and a determination that I will do everything within my power to never have to go through this again.

Now, having said that. . . you can do everything right and cancer isn’t selective. But I want to do everything I can to decrease the chances of it returning.

What about you?  How would you react? Do you think I am overcompensating? Do you think I am irrational?

Write on my friends, write on.

 

The Doors! #MFRW


Happy Friday!

 

Today is the 52-week MFRW blog challenge, Week 34 – Open Doors or Closed Doors? 

I have a small confession to make. I often think in song.  It’s true! Just about any topic, and my mind goes to song lyrics. Maybe it’s all those musicals my Mom used to watch on TV. Maybe it’s the musicals we went to the Muny to see. (ST. Louis Municipal Theater, Forest Park) Maybe it’s the eighteen years of piano lessons, ten years in band counting college, or maybe it’s just an annoying quirk that I have. It drives the  hubs bat sh** crazy.

See what I mean? 

I’m sure you can make the leap of why my mind went automatically to The Doors given the prompt.  I mean come on, that was an open door! *snorts*

But what if that wasn’t what the MFRW challenge

had in mind? Hmmmm.

 

 

It’s a horrible thing, this ADD brain of mine. Look- Squirrel!  Back to the topic – doors. How can any writer worth their salt not think of JRR Tolkien in reference to doors?

I put the  thought on the back burner while I attempted to upload my new  book to Createspace. I say attempted because my laptop is not cooperating with Adobe flash player, and it won’t let me review the insides. It simmered back there for a few hours.

*ding* It’s soup!

What if . . .  yeah, I could go with that.  Since this blog challenge is  related to romance writing,  maybe I should share about doors in that field.

In 2015, I had made myself a resolution that I would submit my manuscripts to publishers through July and if none were accepted,  I would attempt the self-publishing route.

I have regularly submitted articles to magazines and online magazines. It’s similar but different to novels. I sent Kiss of the Dragon off to 3 publishers and got two rejections and one – if you rewrite the entire thing and change the characters then we will review it again. That kind of changes the entire story, don’t you think?  I shelved it.

I sent Faere Warrior: Passion’s Price off to 2 publishers. One rejection, one – if you add the backstory in and set this as maybe the second or third book in a series, and make the overall story the realm war,  then we would be interested in the series. I was on cloud 9!!!

I worked on it diligently, had the foundation story down, made the suggested tweaks to it, then had a falling away with an individual who unbeknownst to me was part owner of this small publishing house. Offer retracted. Sigh. Project shelved.

I sent 3 other stories off to publishers, some were unsolicited to houses that it was a long shot; nothing.  I submitted to a specific call for romance shorts, nothing.  I submitted to a call for a BDSM short, made the first round, then was cut in the second round.

I nearly quit. I thought I’ll just write for myself and file them away and maybe some day when I am dead my kids will find my manuscripts and read them and think they might be worth publishing.

 

 

I was ready to throw in the towel on getting any books published.  I had been successful in article writing for the newspaper, maybe that was all I was cut out for.  My dreams ‘done fell through’.

In my morning sprint group, the wonderful ladies encouraged me to keep writing and suggested that I consider self-publishing. I have to be honest,  I had a tainted view of this.  I thought self-publishing was Vanity Press.  Most of the people I knew that published books were through vanity press and they were a joke. Not to make light of their accomplishments!

Several church friends published their books, most of which was their life story. They sold a few at a table at church when they were first published then ended up with boxes of books in their garage or basement.  I didn’t want to be that person.

Then I started seeing more and more fiction writing in the Indy market. I finally bit on a friend’s novel about zombies and I loved it.  It was hysterical! They convinced me to consider it. So, back to the time line – I told myself if I didn’t get a contract by July, I would pursue the Indy market.

I finished my first book Red Wine & Roses.  OK, it wasn’t the first story I finished, but those were rejected and I was told to revise them, rewrite them or add X amount more to them. I made a post on Facebook that I had finished it! An individual whom I had worked with on the group blog got in touch with me for Eclectic Bard Books.  AN OPEN DOOR!

I jumped through that door so fast it made my head spin. It was a whirlwind of deadlines, demands, and then nothing. We came to a mutual point of not renewing the contract and they were gracious enough to release the rights to my story. I am truly grateful for that and the opportunity.  I learned a lot, but small house publishers . . . CLOSED DOOR! Locked, bolted, NOPE!

I learned a lot through that experience.  Some good, some bad,  all of it memorable.

I have edited some truly crap writing. I have also had the privilege of editing some great writing. In both cases,  the author was confident enough in their work, even if I thought it sucked, (hello –  there, their, they’re; to two too; affect, effect; was/were; numerous cases of  that doesn’t mean what you think it means;  and sex scenes that read like a clinical post rape exam – shudders)

Yet, they were determined to get their baby out there. What was I so afraid of?

Life has a way of impressing upon you what is really important.  I had been making excuses for not finishing my work, and not focusing on one project. I was a story polygamist. Either I wanted to do this or I didn’t, which is it?

My second book, a nonfiction humor collection of posts that started on my blog was my first shot at going Indy. Quotidiandose: 30 Days of Sass: I got the formatting wrong, got the margins wrong, but I learned. Soon I was able to get Red Wine back out there under my name.

I continue to learn. This year,  life smacked me around pretty hard but it drove home the point of either do it or shut up. I am going for it! There is still an open door, I’m going to use it.

There are a few other areas of my life that I have made huge revelations in as far as excuses. Some are harder to change than others but not impossible.

I feel like I am getting a second chance in life, I don’t want to waste it.  I’ve had some real issues with what our church teaches about personal goals and striving for your own desires. It’s sad that it has taken me this long to get it,  but I believe  God gives us the desires of our heart.  I believe that His word is true.  But I also believe that He expects us to work our little or big, fannies off. I don’t think there is anything wrong with personal aspirations –  it is what drives us to become better.

Maybe I’m wrong and y’all should pray for me in this. But tell me this,  Kurt Warner achieved his goal of becoming a professional football player. How is that OK, yet being an author isn’t? This lack of self-esteem that was established in my young years has somehow made me think that my goals aren’t as important as anyone else’s. That is wrong thinking.  I’m shutting that door right now. By doing so,  I am opening multiple doors of opportunity.

We are often our own worst enemy.  I know I am. I’m the one that put everyone else’s needs above my own. I’m the one who sidelined myself in life.  I’m the one who shelved my own dreams. NO MORE!

This isn’t a dress rehearsal,  this is real life. We are responsible for what we do with it.  I’m not happy with what I’ve done with mine up to this point,  so this second chance is a breath of fresh air. It has driven home the point to let things go. Shake it off.

I don’t want my eulogy to be, oh she was nice.  I want it to be bolder.  I want people to know that I gave my all, pursued my dreams,  living life with gusto and no apologies. I’m through apologizing for being me!

This wasn’t the direction that I  intended to go, but this is what came out. Doors are apparently a touchy subject with me.   Maybe I should have stopped with The Doors. NAH!

Let’s be real. Let’s be authentic with each other.

Life sucks at times, it’s up to us to make lemonade with the lemons we are given.

What doors are you keeping shut? Which ones have you opened? What doors are standing open waiting for you to go through?

There are a lot of other author’s in this blog hop that may have a more sound post. You may want to check them out at:

 

 Here are some other posts in this series from yours truly:
  1. Raindrops on Roses
  2. They’ll Survive – I Guess
  3. Binge Watching #MFRWauthor
  4. Thank God for Grace in Editing!
  5. #MFRW Best Friends
  6. Crafty Author #MFRWauthor
  7. Musical Mayhem #MFRWauthor
  8. A Rose by Any Other Name . . . #MFRWauthor
  9. I’ll take What is Purple Prose for 50 Alex #MFRWauthor
  10. Ellie’s Guilty Pleasures #MFRWauthor
  11. How Do You Do That? #MFRW

There are more but I don’t have the links done yet. I will eventually when I get to it. I’ve been working on Roxy and this week, I FINISHED IT! Roxy Sings the BLues in is the hands of the editor!

Here is the preorder link for ebooks:

As soon as my laptop cooperates or I figure out how to bypass flash player, the print copy will be available!

Write on my friends, write on!

 

Hello Beaches!


Happy Friday! I lift my cuppa to you.

You might think that I am trying to be super clever with a play on the word,  for all of my B**** friends. Sorry, no. Although, I lift my cup to you as well.

I recently had a major run in with a mean girl B that was callous, insensitive, and absolutely rude. Not inclined to humor those who think it’s funny to be an absolute B to others and think it’s all good because it isn’t. I think more of someone who takes the time to be kind than blast another person. Alas, it seems kindness is a dying art.

But, since I went there I guess I can tie in my vent with the theme for today. Let me refill my cup, while I think of just how to do that.

Ah! That’s better. Today is the 52-week MFRW blog challenge, Week 33 – What I Do to Recharge. 

Coffee is what I do to charge in the morning,  not necessarily recharge. By late afternoon after you’ve dealt with horrible people and want to strangle someone, I really don’t need more coffee or else I’d be wearing an orange jumpsuit. Not a good look for me and I’m not interested in being Beulah’s latest girlfriend.

Ah, but we’ve hit part of the topic there, for the reason we need to recharge. Honestly, if we just did our work day in and day out, it does tend to be a bit of a grind, but it gives you a feeling of satisfaction to know that you’ve been working.  It’s kind of like going to the gym.

At first, your muscles are sore and protest. ‘We don’t want to exercise. We like being soft. Don’t make me do that.’ It’s your job to be drill seargent and whip those saggy wing flaps into shape, get that bounteous backside in tight formation, and push the thunder thigh twins to peak performance. “Ugh! But it hurts. I don’t wanna”

Shut up and give me ten more.

“Wah!” 

Just for that let’s make it fifteen more. 

By the end of the third week, however,  things are beginning to take shape, and show signs of improvement. Another couple months of this and the troops may just thank you for it. Or not, by nature we are lazy.

The point is though, that if it were just doing the work,  it would be a cake walk. After a few weeks of disciplined work, we’d feel great about ourselves, our abilities, our strengh. . . . but it isn’t just that.  We have to deal with people.  It’s people that create the stress.

No, it isn’t it’s deadlines and demanding schedules. 

Who makes the deadlines? Who gives us the demanding schedules? Who creates the stress in our day? PEOPLE!

The difficult client that refuses to listen to what you are telling them.  The customer that is rude in the checkout line simply because they don’t want to have to wait in line like everyone else. The person who nearly runs you over with their cart in the grocery store because they are in a hurry.

THIS is what causes the stress. OK, let’s be honest, it can be our own dearly beloved family members as well.

Mo -mmmm, where’s the scissors?”

“Why?”
“I need them for a school project.”

ten minutes later. “Since when is cutting your sister’s hair a school project????”

Take me away Calgon. Maybe forget the Calgon and go for Captain Morgan. However, since I can no longer imbibe anything stronger than Welch’s . . . . Oh right, Cancer! Health issues can be another stressor.

So now we have a list:

  • rude and impatient people
  • kids
  • demanding schedules
  • health issues
  • self or other imposed deadlines
  • add your own personal pet peeve here

I may as well as add that last line because we all know we have them. When people violate them, we get all sorts of bent out of shape. Whether it’s dropping the towel on the floor in front of the towel rack, ( “Come on! It’s 3 seconds to hang it up!”) OR the dirty clothes on the floor. . . five inches from the hamper. OR dirty dishes in the sink. (Where did these come from? I JUST washed all of the dishes!) See what I mean?  Most of our stress comes from other people! SIGH

But then again, our lives would be pretty boring if we were in isolation. Isolation is one of the forms of punishment in prisons and concentration camps.  It’s said to be one of the cruelest punishments.  There are days I wonder if it really is punishment, though. How long do you think you would last in true isolation?

So, back to the top.  My little run in with the mean girl who has ruined it for me for those “Friends” who delight in being B****es.  I started taking part in this program offered at the YMCA for Cancer survivors. It’s a free, 12 week program designed to get you back into shape after treatment.

OH man, do I need it!  Radiation treatments themselves don’t hurt,  but the cumulative effect causes fatigue. . . and burns.  We won’t talk about the burns. Shudders – thank GOD they have healed!  I thought I knew what fatigue was before going through this. NOPE. Got a whole new appreciation for it first hand.  My stamina is nonexistent, and my muscles are weak. It’s like learning to walk all over again. OK, so maybe not quite that bad, but having been able to do 45 minutes of cardio a year ago, to struggling to do ten minutes without stopping. . . it’s frustrating and emotionally draining.

I found out last week that part of the reason that my fatigue was so bad, is that during the course of tests and all, they also discovered that I have diabetes. OH JOY! So, I’m trying real hard to follow the guidelines for this new diet.  My doctor told me that I should aim for 15 grams of carbs or less. So that was what I was doing. For the day. He didn’t specify that was for each meal, that my daily total should be 45,  I’ve been making sure I only had 15 for the day!~ So yeah, I have been exhausted. No carbs, no energy. Part of the hair loss is probably because I haven’t been eating. Part of the fatigue from radiation is probably due to no carbs.  So a little self-induced stress to add to the mix.

Anyway, the mean girl . . . a fellow Pink sister (Can you believe that? Wait, it gets better!) comes up to me after the class to inform me that they were talking about me, and they noticed that I am lopsided and I should really refrain from wearing sports bras.

 

Really?  REALLY??  OH, let me get right on that! Heaven forbid my less than perfect physique should interfere with your rose colored glasses outlook on life where everything is picture perfect. This from a fellow survivor who just the week before admitted that she had been admitted to the stress unit for suicide watch because of depression post-surgery before she got implants. REALLY ? And you think it’s OK to point out someone else’s flaws?????

Mean B****es can suck it!

AAARRRRGGHH!

Yeah,  I’m stressed. I need some down time that isn’t medically induced.  I need some refreshing. I’ve been pushing myself hard to get this book out in time for Penned Con. In the past week, I’ve added 11,000 words. I’ve wrapped an editing job for an author, and I have to say this second book is better than the first in the series. I don’t say that very often.  My life has been a scary rollercoaster ride since April. (Jane! Stop this crazy thing!) My eldest daughter left for college on Monday – yet another change to adapt to.

It’s about time for some refreshing.

My husband scheduled vacation time to take me to my favorite place – the beach.

There is just something calming, relaxing, and refreshing about the salt wind, and the constant sounds of waves crashing on the sand. I could do without the seagulls, but since they are a package deal I suppose I will have to deal with them.

“That’s great and all,  but stress happens every single day.

What do you do to refresh on a daily basis?”

I play Sudoku puzzles.  I play match three games on Facebook. It’s addictive. There’s this Fishdom game, and I run out of lives nearly every day. I often play those games on my tablet when my husband is watching funny cat videos.

I read. I read my morning devotional, and take a few minutes to pray. I’m  doing my cleansing breaths in the morning,  mid afternoon, and sometimes right before bed.

I would very much like to get back to crafting, but I will need more energy in order to tackle that.

I sometimes crochet, but honestly, it’s been too hot to have yarn lay over my lap. I’ve been having a cup of chamomile tea in the evenings before bedtime. I’ll be glad when the weather is cooler, we can sit by the firepit and enjoy some cocoa and watch the sunset. As Ferris said so long ago:

 

So, welcome to my  stress/chaos/ ADD world. Yeah, I know. I covered about four topics there, but really they are all tied together. Don’t argue with me, they are. Don’t stress me out man! LOL

Thanks for stopping by. Find what other authors in this blog hop have to say their dreams are for ten years from now here:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are some other posts in this series from yours truly:

  1. Raindrops on Roses
  2. They’ll Survive – I Guess
  3. Binge Watching #MFRWauthor
  4. Thank God for Grace in Editing!
  5. #MFRW Best Friends
  6. Crafty Author #MFRWauthor
  7. Musical Mayhem #MFRWauthor
  8. A Rose by Any Other Name . . . #MFRWauthor
  9. I’ll take What is Purple Prose for 50 Alex #MFRWauthor
  10. Ellie’s Guilty Pleasures #MFRWauthor
  11. How Do You Do That? #MFRW

There are more but I don’t have the links done yet. I will eventually when I get to it. I’ve been working on Roxy! Don’t pressure me!

Write on my friends, write on!

 

Ten Years from Now . . .#MFRW


 

Today is the 52-week MFRW blog challenge, Week 32 – Ten Years From Now

So, here’s my top ten wish list for ten years from now.

  1. BE CANCER FREE – I hope that I never have to go through this or any other form of cancer ever again. I have made drastic changes in my diet, my work load, my habits, and my mental state. I hope and pray for that day to receive the status of SURVIVOR. I’ve made it through treatment, but the Status of SURVIVOR doesn’t  come until I’ve been cancer free for three years.
  2. BEST SELLING AUTHOR – I plan to continue to get my books out.  I have enough books in the queue to keep me busy until I’m in my nineties and that isn’t counting any new ideas I get between now and then and you KNOW that new ideas will come. In Ten Years, I plan to have at least twenty books out! BTW, watch here because I have something coming soon.
  3. MOVE TO FLORIDA – My husband will retire in ten years and I am hoping we can move to the sunny Gulf coast for the next five or so years. This is in discussion, or in his mind – we won’t talk about this anymore because he doesn’t have any desire to live on the coast.  We’ll see.
  4. HAVE TRAVELLED  – In ten years, I hope to have traveled to many wonderful locations on this beautiful earth. We plan to take more cruises, in addition to visiting places in the United States that we have never been to like The Grand Canyon, Scotland, Ireland, the Badlands, Mount Rushmore, the Biltmore Mansion, Cape Cod, Washington DC, and anywhere else we decide to go. I’m not sure about those travel trailers, I see people that get in a Winnebago or whatever the latest brand is and take off.  Not sure how I feel about those.  I think I’d prefer to get to the location and stay in a hotel room. However, having said that there is always those news reports about bed bugs . . . that’s enough to creep even the hardiest of souls to avoid hotels.
  5. HAVE AN ACTIVE LIFESTYLE – I can’t tell you how disheartening it is to be so fatigued that just walking out side to get into the car makes me feel. A few years ago, I was active. I could do 60 minutes of cardio at one time. I am out of breath just doing 15 minutes now. This sucks! I will work on improving my physical state so that if I felt inclined, I could run a 5K. Not saying I want to,  but I would be able to. If I attempted that now I am afraid I would collapse of a heart attack. If we go to Mexico, I want to be able to climb the steps of Tikal. I want to be able to hike up Ben Nevis. I want to be able to walk the beach – whatever beach and not worry that my husband would have to drag me back the way we came because I gave out. I might even start getting out on my bike! Can you imagine a 60-year-old me in biker shorts, gray hair, crash helmet, barreling towards you,  head down, pedaling like my butt’s on fire???  It’s an exhilarating thrill that I haven’t felt in a while.  I want to feel that again.  I want to feel healthy again.
  6. SPOIL GRANDKIDS –  Right now our daughters are both single. There isn’t a grandkid in sight for the near future. But in ten years, I hope that will change. I hope they both find mates that love them and treat them like the gems they are and of course then they make beautiful grandbabies for me to spoil. Maybe by then, I’ll forget the Millenial attitude. Probably not, but there’s a chance.
  7. CELEBRATE OUR 40TH WEDDING ANNIVERSARY –  although technically, in ten years from now it will be 42 years of marriage so I guess this one will have to have already been checked off. OK, so then we celebrate our 40th with a Cruise to the Western Carribean and I have lots of pictures to share. That will work!
  8. SOLD 1 MILLION BOOKS – Everyone has to have a goal right? I mean if you shoot for the stars and clear the trees then you’ve made progress.
  9. HAVE A CLEAN TIDY HOME – OK, I’m not Suzy Homemaker. I’d never pass the white glove test but I do like things neat and orderly.  We won’t talk about the clutter – moving on. Let me just say this –  2 adult children still living at home! I may have to seek professional counseling soon. My OCD twitch is getting worse every day.
  10. DISCOVER THAT THING CALLED SPARE TIME – Alright, I shared last week that I had to totally change my schedule. It’s supposed to be a much more relaxed pace, not pushing myself constantly. A lifetime of Type A personality is difficult to change. I’m working on it,  but I still haven’t managed to get everything – even the shortened to-do list – accomplished within my 24 hour day. Where do you find this “spare time”? Is there some secret store somewhere that you purchase it? Is it some contract you sign in blood with a devil? ‘Cause this chick ain’t afraid of no crossroads demon. Have you discovered how to clone yourself? PLEASE, somebody, let me in on the secret! Taking time to relax and unwind in theory sounds like a good plan for mental health. IN theory. IN reality, it’s a fast track to guilt if I chill on the patio knowing that: a) my book is not finished, b) all of the other books aren’t’ finished c) there is more housework to be done d) I should really tackle those bills e) laundry, the neverending story, f) . . . you get the idea, right?  It’s not as easy as it sounds.

So there you have it, ten goals that I will be working towards in the next ten years. I’m trying to chill. I”m trying to get things accomplished. For some reason, they seem like polar opposites to me. Good thing I’m not dead yet,  ’cause I’m still a work in progress.

Thanks for stopping by. Find what other authors in this blog hop have to say their dreams are for ten years from now here:

14.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are some other posts in this series from yours truly:

  1. Raindrops on Roses
  2. They’ll Survive – I Guess
  3. Binge Watching #MFRWauthor
  4. Thank God for Grace in Editing!
  5. #MFRW Best Friends
  6. Crafty Author #MFRWauthor
  7. Musical Mayhem #MFRWauthor
  8. A Rose by Any Other Name . . . #MFRWauthor
  9. I’ll take What is Purple Prose for 50 Alex #MFRWauthor
  10. Ellie’s Guilty Pleasures #MFRWauthor
  11. How Do You Do That? #MFRW

There are more but I don’t have the links done yet. I will eventually when I get to it.

Write on my friends, write on!

 

Lamentations and Ecclesiastes


Breast Cancer awareness ribbons

Have you ever hit that point where you feel everything in your life is meaningless? The goals that you set for yourself seem like chasing the wind? Have you ever wondered what’s the point, when for all of your hard work, anxiety, stress, and aggravation that finish line seems elusive or when you cross it, it’s a day late and a dollar short? There has to be more to life than this, right?

I tip my hat to those men and women who continue in their daily roles after getting the diagnosis of cancer. The initial shock hit me hard. Making the decision for surgery seemed like a no brainer to me, I mean if there is cancer in my body – then get it out!

My blood pressure was the highest it has ever been the day I went in for surgery. I had never had a surgery before minus oral surgery which isn’t the same at all. Of course, Mother Nature thought it was funny to have major flooding in the area to cut off the major highways between us and the hospital. That had its own share of aggravation, but we managed it. It did mean, however, the day of the surgery I had one person in my corner to be there with me through all of it. My husband is a saint! He has been amazing through all of this, has been encouraging, loving, supportive and has been my champion every day.

It makes sense, of course, we are partners in life. When we took those vows years ago. . . we promised for better or for worse, through sickness and in health. . .

Funny how when you are young and in love, you never really think about the worse or sickness. Maybe it’s just me,  but there was a certain amount of moon-eyed happily ever after when I said my vows.

Honestly, I’d be in worse shape without him in my life. I know this for an absolute certainty. This wasn’t meant to be a “sing the hubby’s praises” post, but it needs to be said.

For all of his help and support, he can’t fix what’s inside my head. OH, that I wish he could. It has been a whirlwind of tests, needles, doctors, more needles, surgery, more doctors, back to the tests, the dreaded needles, and now radiation.  While I am thrilled beyond measure that I am not having to go through chemotherapy, I am trying to cope with the current radiation and oral medications.

Everyone around me keeps encouraging me and telling me how brave I am, how strong I am. . . not feeling it. At some point every day I feel exhaustion, fatigue, nausea, and that doesn’t even begin to get into the mental battles: the continued struggle to lose weight, the dietary restrictions because of cancer, the fear that cancer will be found somewhere else, the sense of failure as I slip further behind on my goals. At times the weight of it gets the better of me.

I think that one is the hardest for me. I can tough it out when I don’t feel great, but can still manage. I see my author friends cranking out one project after another and I get more discouraged. I know I’ve suffered from a lack of focus with too many projects in my queue. I’ve allowed criticism to derail me when I had a full head of steam working towards completion. I’ve  allowed the poison words of certain individuals to affect my mental state to the point that I quit working on particular projects.

You want to know what is really sad?  I have volumes of stories mostly written. For example, I was diligently working on Valkyrie’s Curse. I had the first draft completed, was 78% finished with second draft revisions when I realized that the story didn’t end at my ending. The overall story spans five more books which I outlined and have key scenes written for them.  I was excited, I was on a roll. I  can see the destination over the far horizon then the white haired witch rose up before me, hissing and flailing in wild gestations spouting words of her own self-righteousness, singing her own praises and that my methods and styles were wrong because they aren’t like hers. She was right, I’m nothing like her. I don’t want to be. After three rounds of being put off to review the manuscript, I got discouraged and set it aside. I will get back to it,  but I have been working on getting Roxy ready for her debut. I had my manuscript for VC ready to go,  had the second book first draft completed, so I needed something else to work on. In all honesty, I’ve had a dozen new ideas since then with a brief intro or scene written, enough to remind myself what the idea for that story is.

I sent my revised story of Roxy to a fabulous lady, who is an awesome author and mentor. She pointed out – very nicely I might add – plot holes and glaring errors. Hmmm, this wouldn’t do. I had to make it a story that I was proud of and that readers would want to read. I rolled up my sleeves and got busy. Very little of the original story remains, but  I think it’s by far better. So what’s the problem?

Finishing it.  I have nearly 60K words on this story. I’m adding in some transition scenes as well as some other scenes to take it to the final destination. I was on a roll right up to April 12th, when my world came crashing down around me. It galls me to admit that I can’t get it out by the deadline that I wanted. If that was the case it would have been published at the beginning of May.

There have been more than a few days since my surgery that I didn’t even get online. I didn’t crack my computer open. I didn’t have the mental energy to write a few hundred words. Now I am struggling to allocate my daily limited energy to what is important. I feel like a huge weeny because I  don’t have the energy to be superwoman – having my house immaculate, serving healthy nutritious and tasty meals to my family – five star restaurant quality because I am the overachiever, keep up with my day job – because I have medical bills to pay, this one has to go to the top of the list, writing, blogging, exercise, mental health activities.  Pick a day, any day and at least three of those things fall by the wayside. Care to venture which ones?

Most often the taking care of me part has been at the bottom of my priorities. Maybe it’s a mom thing or a woman thing but either way, I can’t do that anymore. I want to live to see my next several birthdays so I have to learn to make myself a priority. Why does this make me so emotional???  You’d think it was a good thing. I see people all of the time taking time for themselves, doing things for themselves, pampering themselves, yet I struggle to allow myself downtime to cope with cancer.

I will finish my books and get them published because that is a goal I have set for myself. The deadlines have been erased and pushed out even further. (I swear, if I were employing me I’d fire me to get a different content writer.) I may be in turtle mode, but by darn, I will get there.

So what doe this have to do with Ecclesiastes and Lamentations?  In the book of Lamentations, it was basically David crying out – lamenting his sorrows. Sometimes we want to vent or get it off of our chest. Ecclesiastes was written by Solomon,  astute observations and conclusions about life. Let me

Let me briefly summarize: Life sucks. It is like a wild rollercoaster ride that didn’t pass safety inspections and no one tells you when the dangerous curves or broken tracks will appear. We make the best of it, lick our wounds, recover, get stronger, and go on. We all die eventually and when we do, what will you have to show for your legacy? What will be your lasting mark on this world you’ve left behind? What of value have you contributed to this world? Or have you lived a self-serving existence that didn’t impact any other living soul in a positive way?

(This is by no means a church sanctioned summarization. For exact interpretation go read it for yourself.)

I know this is far from my usual uplifting encouraging post and I apologize for that. This is where I am.  I have been trying to remain positive, but there are days when I fail.

Tomorrow is another day and here’s hoping that it’s a better day!

Write on my friends, write on!

Ellie

 

 

Suddenly


Hey, everyone!

How to write the post I need to write . . .  there is no real clever way so with all the tact I can muster, I’m going to plunge in.

With the A to Z Challenge, I left off with the letter O. I have a new word, that inadvertently has everything to do with my own writing right now –

ONCOLOGY

On March 28, I had my annual OBGYN visit. I shared some concerns with her about the girl parts, namely issues that indicate menopause.  She sent me to the Imaging center for a pelvic sonogram, and the annual mammogram. I expected some news on the lower region but not the tatas.

A scheduled date for a routine procedure for the girl parts was made. Later that day, I got a call saying I needed to return for an additional mammogram and breast ultrasound because I had some areas of concern. OK, that’s a bit disconcerting but no biggie, right? I figured fibrocystic breast syndrome because the girls aren’t exactly smooth like a muscle,  they are kind of like a well-used pillow. NO, I’m not going into detail on that but after nursing two babies, being a ‘mature’ woman I’m grateful they don’t drag the floor.

April 6th I go back for these additional tests and the Dr. that oversees the imaging center came in and told me that it’s cancerous. BUT, don’t worry, most of the time it’s benign.  He had one of those plastic forced smiles that is used to break bad news. I instantly don’t trust him.

April 12th, I have a Fine Needle Aspiration biopsy. Don’t let anyone fool you – it hurts. “Oh, you’ll just feel some pressure and hear a click” LIARS!!! 

IT HURT!  IT HURT FOR DAYS AFTER!  IT still hurts as the bruised area changes from purple to greenish yellow.

I wait for the verdict phone call which was supposed to happen either last Tuesday or Wednesday that never came. On one hand, no news is good news.  If they don’t call it can’t be too urgent right?

WRONG!

I called on Thursday because I suck at waiting patiently.

STAGE 1 Invasive Ductal Carcinoma.

Yeah, that’s something you want to hear when you are in the office alone. I mean, literally alone. There wasn’t another breathing soul in the office complex.

The only time I’ve ever known doctors to act fast is when it’s serious so it didn’t alleve my fears when they called back to confirm an appointment with an oncology surgeon for the next day. Friday the 21st was a marathon. I would gladly attempt a running marathon as opposed to my day. The doctor explained completely with drawing little illustrations to emphasize the points. My options were presented to me, initial treatment assessment was discussed, and then it was off to the labs for more tests.

Bloodwork – one of my big fears about this whole thing is the needles. I have small veins, they are deep (being fat isn’t the only reason for this) and they roll. When I get blood drawn they use a child’s butterfly needle. What is going to happen if I have to go through chemotherapy and they blow my veins? I don’t have enough time to build my cardio level to have super veins like my husband. He makes a fist and the veins just pop out. Of course, that would look bad on me as a female.

Chest x-ray, EKG, new mammogram, additional close up mammogram slides, 3D Ultrasound – I was there from 8 in the morning until almost 5 at night.

I’ve had the weekend to digest all of this.  I’ve shared with close family what the diagnosis is and the plan for treatment, and have even shared on my Facebook account.  I was almost at a place of peace about accepting this. Nobody wants to go through this. Nobody chooses cancer.

Then, I get another call. Just a few minutes ago actually. I have to go back for an MRI and a second biopsy of additional spots that they found. This may determine whether or not I can have a lumpectomy or have to have the full mastectomy.

I’m not sharing to gain your sympathy. I’m not sharing because I overshare – if anything I hear from people that I don’t let others in, don’t share what’s really going on.

This isn’t about writing yet it is.  I write with passion. My passion. Passion for life, passion about love relationships, passion about the emotions we go through. My plan for today was to share some more from Roxy, a segment that I’ve recently tackled – one that was very difficult to tackle and I had to be in the right headspace to do. Ironically I had to draw on the raw emotions of my own mother’s funeral to write this. I’d put it off for weeks, but finally tackled it and was quite proud of myself for not only tackling it,  I think I did a pretty good job on it as well.

Then I get this news.  Well hell!  Oh trust me, I could write the emotional scene now. I could pour my heart out on the pages and nobody is the wiser that it was me going through this emotional tidal wave with the diagnosis of ‘You have breast cancer’.

Ironically, Roxy’s mother died after a long battle with breast cancer. Should I wait and experience first hand and rewrite? Should I proceed with it as scheduled? I know that women dying from breast cancer is rare, it’s usually when it’s metastasized beyond the breast and invaded other organs. Ultimately it started with breast cancer, and Roxy’s mother was a woman that put off her own medical treatment until it became critical.

For me, they caught it early with the mammogram. Of that I am grateful. Ladies, don’t put it off.  I still can’t feel any lumps even knowing that it’s there. I don’t have a family history of it. I don’t have the usual symptoms that indicate cancer.  In all of my regular doctor’s comments about concerns for being overweight he never said cancer was one of them. Now as I am reading the material provided to me by the breast cancer center, obesity can lead to cancer. Heart disease and diabetes were on my mind, not cancer. Never cancer.We hear the words “save the tatas” and kind of laugh, but we do the self-exams. It has become a reality for me now. This is a path I never wanted to go down but am forced to embark on this journey.

We hear the words “save the tatas” and kind of laugh, but we do the self-exams. It has become a reality for me now. This is a path I never wanted to go down but am forced to embark on this journey. April 20th is a day of demarcation for me. My life as I knew it ended that day, so tears were to be expected. Tears of grieving for what was,  what dreams may die, all of the changes that have to be made and tears to face the great unknown.  A little encouragement for saving the woman would be appreciated.

I’ll try to stay away from the pity parties but from time to time I will be sharing my struggles in this battle. I’m not looking forward to the needles. Not looking forward to losing part of my breast or the full breast or breasts depending on what they find. Not looking forward to possibly losing my hair. Not looking forward to much of any of this,  but it’s the path I’ve been put on and I’ll make the best of a bad situation.  I come from good stock and I am my mother’s daughter. My mother was ” a tough old bird”. I hope I have half as much chutzpah as she did.

I plan to continue writing, still pushing for my delayed deadline and praying that I don’t have to push it back further. The A to Z challenge . . . I don’t have the energy to continue that now. I thought about making a video, but I didn’t think I could get through it without an ugly cry and who needs to see that?

Hope you stick around to see me come out the other end of this!

Write on my friends, write on!

Ellie

Fine Tuning the Plan


Today is a day of evaluation. It’s not a day of beginnings, but rather a day of continuance. Toady is one of those stuck in the murky middle days.

Have you ever started off with great gusto to find yourself sidelined and wondering what in the world happened? Have you gotten off course? Lost your way? Taken the wrong detour? Well, I have. I’ve done it often, and today is my “correcting my course” day.

I don’t know if any of you are like me, if so you may recognize some of what I’m about to share. If not, you may be amused or sympathetic or you might even be able to offer some insight. Grab your favorite beverage, some popcorn, and enjoy the show.

Back in January,  I was all gung-ho – this is going to be my best year! YAY! Enter the sickness. Seriously –  it was like I alerted the universe and invited all the plagues, disease, and infirmities to pay me a visit. I posted on here, so proud of myself for making a plan that I could stick to and not fail. You can read that here: The Master Plan.

I swear it was the next day that I was hit with the sick wand. UGH, it’s been a battle just to stay healthy. However, I’m not here to lament that. I’m here to discuss why I’m evaluating my lack of progress and making my quarterly adjustments to get me back on track.

My first point in the Master Plan is Be Your best every day.  I had to reread it in order to remind myself to STOP berating myself for not being able to run at 90 to nothing full throttle every single day. Let me tell you what happens when I start down that path. It’s ugly so consider this your “viewer discretion” advisory.

I’m feeling great, life is good, I can do all the things, throw sparkly glitter all around! The big bad sickness ogre sees this as a clear invitation to mess with Sasquatch aka Ellie. I get in a funk. I start the mental lashings. I continue down the berating trail eventually  botoming out in a pit of despairm feeling like an ultimate failure, ready to throw in the towel on everything. Life just can’t get any worse. This sucks. I suck. My writing sucks. When nobody comes along to help me out of my muck, I scrape off the glop, wipe my tears and go clean myself up, scrubbing until my skin and nerves are raw and flayed. Overcompensating, I push myself with new vigor and determination. It doesn’t take long for cracks to appear and the spiral downward begins anew. It’s a horrible cycle and I am tired of it. I don’t want to continue in this any longer.

Quick reminder of point 1:

  1. Be your best every day.  No matter what you do, do your very best at it.  If your best for that day is to say thanks to the person caring for you, like if you have the flu and they are bringing you hot tea then be thankful. If your best is running a marathon that day, then run like your life depends on it and give it 100%. Your best fluctuates from day to day. There are days we are unstoppable. There are days when it’s a trial to get from one minute to the next. Whatever your best is, do it. Know that it is your best. If you can’t with a clear conscious say inside your heart that you gave your best effort then do more. If you are running the marathon and you gave 100% and didn’t win then be at peace with yourself that you gave your all. If you only exerted 85% effort,  then evaluate and learn from it,  and know that you are capable of more so that the next time you will know that what you thought was 100% was only at 85%. Are you with me?

OK, I seriously need to take my own advice! Learning to function overall when those days of not being at full capacity happen, and they seem to happen a lot more as I’ve gotten older, I need to learn that ‘be at peace’ part so badly. I’m working on it. I had a good self-talk yesterday after mentally berating myself for not hitting my self-imposed deadlines, then alternately berating myself for making too lofty of goals for myself. Honestly, if this was fifteen years ago then my self-imposed deadlines and goals would be a piece of cake. It’s not fifteen years ago however, it’s now – today -and I’m older. That sucks, but I don’t have to let it suck as much as it has been. I need to come to terms with what I can and can’t do and realize that I’m not where I want to be, but that I can change that with steady progress. AAAAAAANNND  we come full circle to the crux of what set me on this quarterly check. Lack of steady progress.

Why? Because I’ve let the days that I couldn’t do my best from yesterday affect my ability to accept that my best today was the best I could manage and let it go. Then there are those days when I know I didn’t give my best, and in fact, I wasted hours sulking, or playing games, or lost in “research” down the internet rabbit hole. From this point, all I can do is count those as a loss and do my best to make every day count or at least a good 80%.

My second obvious mistake – again I should take my own advice – is not following number 2 on my master list – Make your goals crystalline. I’ve discovered that my bullet journal has a massive flaw. Yes, the same bullet journal that I’ve been singing praises of. The bullet journal that keeps my butt in line and on track.

What on earth could be such a massive flaw in a near perfect tool? Operator error.

I’m the one who enters everything into my handy dandy little book of life order. I haven’t been precise. Looking over the past three months worth of entries I notice a distinct pattern. An important part of my bullet journal is my daily todo list. Which often looks like this:

  • writing 1 hour
  • editing 2 hours
  • housework
  • resale
  • scheduled appointments, webinar, etc.
  • miscellaneous items such as groceries, get oil changed, etc.

The problem is that I need to be specific on the first two entries. I need to write specifics like 1 hour writing on chapter 12 of Roxy: scene 15,16,17. On editing I need to be specific about the book I am editing like: Malevolent Mind – chapters 12 – 15.

For someone who has been   made aware multiple times of the importance to have SMART goals, why didn’t I see  this before?

I’m disappointed in myself in the setbacks for completing this manuscript, however given the changes that I am making to it, I’m OK with this. Being behind on my plan even after the changes due to lack of focus I am not OK with.

Tools are only effective if you are using them correctly. You wouldn’t take a chainsaw to cut a couple of one by sixes to make shelves, likewise you wouldn’t use a table saw to cut down a rotten tree. The botom line I suppose is that I am once again fine tuning my bullet journal for my personal adaptation.

The objective is not to have the perfect bullet journal, my objective is to utilize my bullet journal in being a more focused and productive author. I might add,  it’s a good thing to do an occasional check to see where you are on your goals instead of hitting the end of the year and say “well, I failed that one”.  Even if I don’t hit the final mark like losing 75 pounds this year,  I will  make progress in that direction.

Have you evaluated where you are on your path to reaching your goals? If you take time now to do that, you can make some adjustments to make it possible to reach.

While you ponder what your take away for yourself is,  stop over at AuthorShout where my cover is up for vote for best cover. GO VOTE FOR RED WINE & ROSES!

Write on my friends, write on.

Ellie