Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Pink Arrow Week

Aka. the first week of school.

WOW. Summer is over, school has begun, and we have one more family member this year!  We invited a foreign exchange student into our home for this school year.  Juan is 15, and from the beautiful island of Mallorca, of the southeastern shore of Spain, near Barcelona.  Unfortunately for my hubs, he is NOT a Barsa fan, but instead roots for Real Madrid.  As if the whole MSU/UM thing going on in our family is not bad enough!

Being THE mom, I require at least ONE photo the first day of school, every year.

Here is Connor starting 7th grade, and Juan, starting in American 10th grade.

So far we are enjoying the new experience of hosting a student from overseas. He is very courteous and helpful, and a little shy, but still friendly, willing to participate in family activities and speak up when he doesn't understand something we've said.  I'm trying to learn Spanish from him, but I fear that it's hopeless for me. Maybe, maybe not.

In lieu of dying my head pink, I plan on wearing pink all week, the heavens know I probably have enough to wear for a month!  Since I forwent(?) the pink hair this year, I think I will do feathers for the big game on Friday, either in my hair or my hot pink feathered earrings that I bought for belly-dance costume props.  I'm wearing my pink ribbon earrings today, a gift from a friend and my pink silk sandals. The Lowell Pink Arrow Bracelet I will wear for the entire week.

The school celebrates this week, and uses it to promote cancer awareness to the students. It all wraps up on Friday with the big football game- the field, players, cheerleaders, refs and both bleachers- all pink.  This project started out as a fundraiser for 1 year- 6 years ago and has turned into a community event- raising over $500 million, all kept within the community of Lowell.  We've been on the Today show and this year, we'll bring in our first out-of-state team to play against - a team from Chicago - hopefully spreading the word even farther afield. And though it's called the Pink Arrow, it's really not just about fighting breast cancer, but all cancer.

Tonight, hubs and I run my 2nd Pink Arrow Quiver 5K.  (Hub's 3rd).  Both of us feel like we are coming down with something, so this may be more walking in the run/walk than running, but we are still doing it, and that is an accomplishment.  This year, I'll be wearing my pink arrow VI shirt during the run, to honor my friend who lost her battle with cancer last month.  I'm running for her and her hubs - Cliff, as much as for myself.

Because I can.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Fear- revisited- revised: An homage to a dear friend

I was reviewing my past blogs looking for a specific picture I needed for a project I am working on and I came across my "Fear" post from December 2011.  As I read through it, I thought that I would write an update on those fears, just to give some perspective, and to possibly help someone else going through that stage of treatment.  However, like most times, other things come up that seem more important to write about. So it is with today's post.

I lost a very close friend, Kasi Gajtkowski, last week after her Stage 2 BC came back less than 2 years later as Stage 4 incurable, and then, in what seemed like a blink...she was gone.  I'm still in shock.  She was my rock, my tether to hope, as she was going through everything I was, just ahead of me. She gave me tips and advice on what was coming, how good or bad it was, and how long it would be after chemo before my hair and eyelashes would grow back, as well as the best way to put on fake eyelashes, draw on eyebrows, and taking bets on what color and texture our hair would be when it finally DID grow back.

We never met in person, as she lived in Maine, and I, in Michigan, but thanks to the website: ihadcancer.com, where I met her, and innumerable email, texts and cell phone calls, we were able to keep in touch, to keep each other going, she for me, more than me for her. I will miss hearing her voice, reading her replies to my pages-long emails written in the middle of the night, and just in general, for the wonderful, inspiring woman that she was.

This makes three people, who I've known closely since my diagnosis, to lose their battle with cancer in the last year and a half.  She is the youngest, at 33, and the one I was closest to, so it has hit me hardest.  I was lucky enough to be able to send her a text while she was in the hospital last week, which her husband read to her (and made her laugh, to my delight), and she was able to have him send one back from her.  So even though I didn't get to hear her beautiful voice and laugh one last time, I was able to let her know how special she was to me and how truly blessed I was to know her.

Losing someone who was so close in diagnosis, so close in age (ok - so she was 9 years younger), so quickly after finishing treatment, brings up all the old fears that I had during those 'dark nights of the soul'. These were usually the nights that I was up, emailing my friend, who would wake up the next day inundated with a slew of emails from me, and laugh at my sheer volume of work that I managed to produce in one short night.

As I said, I began this post as a follow-up to my original "Fear" post, but right now is not the time for that.  I'd rather just use this post to honor the friend, the woman, her family and friends who lost a shining soul last week.  We love you Kasi. You will forever be in my heart, and in a piece of my soul. Until we meet again....

As her Obit was just posted, I will share it here, it says so much about the wonderful woman she was.
WINDHAM -- Kasi Marie (Bean) Gajtkowski, 33, of Windham, passed away peacefully on Thursday, Aug. 15, with her signature grace and dignity. Her loving husband Cliff, parents Merrill and Lesa, brother Derek and faithful and loving puppies Rosco and Pebbles were at her side. She was surrounded as well by several family members and friends.
Kasi was born in Waterville on Sept. 26, 1979 to Merrill and Lesa Bean. She attended Oakland schools and graduated from Messalonskee High School in 1997. In 2001, she graduated magna cum laude from the University of Southern Maine in Gorham with a bachelor of arts degree in communications. Following graduation, she worked for several companies in the Portland area, making many long-lasting friendships. In 2011, she took a job as an SEO specialist for PowerPay in Portland, work she truly enjoyed.
On Nov. 7, 2009, Kasi married her one true love and soul mate, Cliff Gajtkowski, in a beautiful ceremony on the beach on the island of St. Lucia. They settled in Windham with their two dogs.
Kasi was predeceased by her paternal grandparents, Bernard and Vivian Bean; and maternal grandfather Leslie Stevens. She is survived by her husband, Cliff; parents Merrill and Lesa; brother Derek; maternal grandmother Eileen Stevens; several aunts, uncles and cousins; her sister-in-law and three brothers-in-law and families; dogs Rosco and Pebbles; several close friends and best friend Lesley Mosher.
A special thanks goes to the members of Kasi's Krusaders for their dedicated Facebook page, all the kind words and the walk to support her. It had a profound effect on raising her spirits to read the daily posts and to know that so many were walking in her honor. Kasi had asked that any money collected from the walk be donated to the Cancer Community Center in South Portland.
A quote from Winston Churchill, chosen by Kasi, became the motto for the Krusaders.  To quote: "If you're going through hell, keep going." In these past two years in her fight against breast cancer, Kasi did just that, as well as touching so many lives in such an inspirational way. It is evident from the outpouring of love she received from literally hundreds of friends, both locally and from around the country, some of whom she had never met, that she truly was an uplifting and endlessly caring person. For those who would like to see more of her inspiring personality and the work she enjoyed, it is recommended to visit her web page/blog that she designed and built to provide content to help others going through similarly tough situations, as well as insights into her own life and a means by which to contact her for support. The web address is www.purpleismycolor.com.
A private family service will be held. A celebration of her life will take place from 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 22, at T&B's Outback Tavern in Waterville. Kasi, we love you SO MUCH!
Published in Morning Sentinel on August 20, 2013

"You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, 'I have lived through this horror.  I can take the next thing that comes along'. You must do the thing you thing you cannot do." 
-- Eleanor Roosevelt --

Sunday, August 11, 2013

"every breath you take, every move you make, every step you take, ..."

"...I'll be watching you."
~ the Police.

My birthday and my 2 year 'cancerversary', much like the month of July here in Michigan, came and went without much fanfare.

However, they were all very UNLIKE the previous 2 years in myriad of ways.

This year, I decided that I was NOT going to celebrate my birthday.  Overtly, that is.  I'm not saying I'm in denial that I am having another birthday, I don't mind getting another year older (especially when people tell me they can't believe my actual age).  What I wanted was a quiet day, a Friday, too! where I didn't have to plan, worry, anticipate, be disappointed, be upset, etc. etc.  I have had a small number of really great birthday celebrations, and much of that is due to my wonderful husband, but I have also had more than a share of real doozies, of which I won't recall here.

Needless to say, I just wanted to have a DAY, where if you knew it was my birthday, you could wish me a happy one, if not, then, no big whoop. 

I woke up to my hubs wishing me a happy birthday and a kiss.  Nice.  Exactly what I wanted. 

Since I'm a contractor, no one at work had my birthday on the department calendar, so with the exception of a mutual coworker/FB friend, no one was the wiser - flew under the radar on that one - no group of people who don't really even know your last name ringing me in a circle to sing (gasp) and the ones who only show up for the treats.  Sorry if that sounds cynical, but again, I've had some history.

My mother proposed we come to her house for dinner on Sunday to celebrate my birthday. I told her politely, no thanks, I'm not celebrating this year.  Another reason not to make a big to-do, though I realize that is what mothers are for, and some actually love doing it.  I didn't want to put anyone through any stress on my behalf.  I just wanted me and the people around to enjoy the fact that I was still on this earth, and not have to worry if the oven needs preheating, or if it's going to be too hot to even use the oven (no such luck THIS year). 

Instead, I invited THEM over for post lunch/pre dinner snacks on the deck, under the pergola the hubs built last year, The west and south side thickly covered in grapevine (exactly as we had envisioned the 9 years before the pergola actual got built!).  It was, in Holly Golightly's words, loverly.

Exactly a week later, and I got to celebrate my 2 year cancer free date. I prefer to use 'cancerversary' for the day I had IT removed from my body, since that is most easy to remember - one week after my 40th birthday. 

The actual "Discovery" of my cancer was such a long drawn out affair, filled with appointments, tests, endless waiting, tears, phone calls, and...duh DUM..."THE DIAGNOSIS",  I can remember general timeframes, but why celebrate THAT part of it all?     I have it all written down in this blog...at the beginning, in tedious detail -  if you want to know when and in what order those milestones occurred.  Feel free to go back and find the old blog that documented them (give me a few more page views!)  But that is what we held on to at the time....what was the next step?  don't look too far down the road, you don't know what you'll see.  So...

So, 2 years cancer-free.  So different than last year's day.  or the one before..WOW that was a real doozy- waking up with body parts missing-! Not an experience I'd recommend to anyone, even if it does mean saving your life.  Try and avoid it if you can.

How has my life changed in those two years? Dramatically, and then slowly its's faded back to normal.  Sort of the opposite of that quote I just read somewhere by someone famous I should recall....oh wait!...I remember.. from the Great Gatsby I think...how did he go bankrupt?  "Slowly, than all at once".

(ahhh...and here is the most annoying part of post cancer treatment - I've lost my mind.  Not like that, though there are days I feel like I have. No, I've lost something that used to be very precious to me- my ability to remember and recall all sorts of things.  "chemo brain", though I can just as easily blame it on the blonde :), or the "chemo-pause".  Add up all three, and you have a terrible triumvirate of factors that leads me to grasp at words, names of people I know, movies I've seen, etc.  If I think on it hard enough, I can sometimes bring it back, but then there are times I just give up and figure, it's really NOT that important if I can remember the botanical and at least one, if not multiple, common names of all the plants I have in my yard.  But this is a loss to me, still, a small one that points out how different my life is two years hence.)

One of the reasons my blog has been pretty stagnant lately is that 1. I'm usually too brain dead from my job during the week I have no energy to find an unoccupied computer to write down my thoughts.  2. Nothing that interesting is really happening to me once the main excitement of HAVING CANCER has died down.  3. TOO many things are happening around me to get them all down, and are they really that interesting to write about, or only interesting to me? 4. I have so much to write that when I think about sitting down to write about just ONE thing, I can't pick one, so I just don't do anything.   Sort of like this lovely little blog post my hubs sent me, from a lovely little blog:  http://tinybuddha.com/blog/stuff-we-dont-need-and-5-reasons-why-it-doesnt-lead-to-happiness/

There is a reason I subtitled my blog as I did; I wanted to be able to write about what life was like AFTER the big C and how it changed me.  Obviously, physically, I'm changed, though, I find it interesting that people tell me how beautiful I look, how thin I am, how lovely my blonde corkscrew curls are-are surprised when I tell them it's from the chemo, 'oh yes, I had breast cancer'...the shock, the doubt as to what to say.  I want people to know THIS is what cancer looks like, too.  I don't do it to make people uncomfortable, but to bring light onto this horrible disease that has killed too many and will kill too many more;  to let people know I am a survivor of it and a warrior.

I frequently 'analyze' (my hubs might use the synonym 'complain') my altered image.  Robo-boob is dead, the lotus breast has replaced it.  My hubs, my wonderful hubs, tells me he loves all that it is- plastic, silicone, and ink- because my having it means that I am alive and cancer free these past two years.

To him, he sees what most people see. I am a woman, enviably skinny (foolproof diet I tell people who lament their weight- it's called 'the cancer/chemo diet' -Guaranteed to make you thinner.  Most people aren't all that interested in it, for some reason).   And I guess that is ok, because people don't want to feel sorry for you forever.  They want to see that the cancer is gone and it's never coming back (god forbid), and this woman is standing here as proof that there is no monster under MY bed tonight.

 But I live on the other side.  The side where, yes, in clothes and even a bikini, my body looks wonderful, healthy, fit.  I appreciate that I was spared the horror that I see other cancer friends endure- permanent disfigurement, essential organs removed, incurable metastasis. I'm so grateful for that. I really am.  But I still live with a body that is partly not my own.  I am reminded everyday as I get dressed, do I wear a comfortable bra that doesn't lie about what's real and what isn't? or do I wear one of my 'boob' bras, the uncomfortable ones that make the girls look FANTASTIC, and symmetrical, but as one of my girls frequently said...."It's all smoke and mirrors"?  This is the part I think people DON'T want to know about.  It's minor, I agree, it could be worse.  But it's certainly not a picnic in the park either.

Worse for me is the doubt.  Yes, they removed all my cancer on that day over 2 years ago.  There is no more on that side.  However, as my doctor pointed out.  Anyone with breasts is at risk of getting breast cancer.  I chose to keep one.  I wanted to keep every thing I could at that time.  I felt like I was losing enough, and the thought of taking one perfectly healthy breast off for the 'what if' of tomorrow or 5 or 10 years from now was not an option.  But today, that sentence my surgeon uttered is always in the back of my mind, reminding me......Every cough, lump, bump, weird symptom, I worry, has it come back?  Has it gone somewhere else? Will I have the strength to fight again if the enemy ever comes back to my shores? 

I don't know the answer. I don't think anyone does.  I didn't think I would have the strength to fight the first time, and somehow I managed.  I didn't think I could run a 5K- to prove to myself that I was indeed a warrior, but also to do it because others I knew could not, they were too busy fighting their own battles.  I walked 12 hours this year at Relay for Life, to celebrate the cancer free diagnosis of my girl Victoria, and to remember the friends I had lost this past year.  Though I hadn't planned it, I'm running the Komen 5k AGAIN this year, and hope to beat last year's time, not because I love running (I don't, I actually hate it), but because I have to do it for my girl who cannot THIS year.  And, I suppose, unfortunately, I will always find another person to add to my growing collection of luminary bags for Relay, and I will always have another friend fighting a battle that will inspire me to run another 5K in their honor, as much as it pains me to do it- physically, emotionally, mentally. 

Or, I will do it just because I can, for as long as I can. 
Peace, light and love to all ~ Namaste

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Writing About Writing (And Occasionally Some Writing): Changing The Creepy Guy Narrative

I came across this Blog post today and while it has NOTHING to do with MY chosen blog topic, in the spirit of the original article I wanted to share it with as many people as I can.  oh....and do read through the comments, there are absolute gems in them, moderated, and TOTALLY worth it.

Writing About Writing (And Occasionally Some Writing): Changing The Creepy Guy Narrative

Monday, June 3, 2013

"...long after the thrill of living is gone.."

A friend I met in Orlando
So, I TRY to make my posts inspiring, but cancer is not all sunshine and roses, no matter what someone might tell you!  Every day, I find out about another person diagnosed with, died from, etc. etc.  It's sometimes just downright depressing.  I'm part of a club that is not one I want to be in.

This is especially on my mind these days because I am captain of our Relay for Life Lowell team, benefiting the American Cancer Society this year. I talked Lowell Community Wellness to have a presence there, and I ended up captain!  3rd weekend in June.

Last year Relay's luminaria bags
I'm looking forward to it, it's amazing time, and I know it will be great, but also sad, because there will be people who SHOULD be there who won't, and that is a hard thing to deal with when you have been a continent away from family deaths my whole life.

Life seems to be beating me up a bunch lately.  We had a big flood a month ago, and still waiting for the check to get our drain sewer filled basement- cleaned and decontaminated, so we can get our next heater/hvac unit installed. Yes, in this cold Michigan spring, we have been without heat for a month.  We only had to go a week with no hot water, and never lost our gas or electricity, so we were pretty lucky.  The basement and yard drained on it's own, but it meant no veggies from our sewer drenched garden soil this year, so the Asparagus are rejoicing and we're thinking how to renovate the devastated beds.

Connor has been on and off sick since winter- He currently has asthmatic bronchitis, and is missing yet ANOTHER day of school, during the last week of the year. I have had persistent nausea for about a month now, but tested negative for anything so it's being chalked up to 'a virus'.  Wednesday I get my inaugural colonoscopy!  I can't wait!  Apparently, I have colorectal as well as BC in my genes, so hoping this will be a baseline test, only.

So, feeling like life is beating me down a bit....life goes on, but sometimes, the thrill is gone....

But....as the song says...let it rock, let it roll....so I'm going to try and let it roll and pick myself up by my platform 5in bootstraps (if I had a pair of 5in platform boots, I'd be rockin')  and get on with my life.

Ok...so now I've got most of the bad stuff off my chest. (I know the good is supposed to go first, but not when you just aren't feeling it)

Good things that are coming up...not one but TWO new babies for friends this year means I need to get out of my rut and get knitting.

My sister got a promotion to Milano, and I get to visit her by way of being a Cat valet. I'm not proud, I'll do whatever to get a trip to Europe in!  Turns out it's cheaper to fly a human with a cat than to ship one without...who woulda thought?

I got accepted into Prairie Yoga Teacher Training starting in September. It's in GR. and it goes Sept-May, 1 weekend a month, vs. the Lansing one I was considering going 3 months every weekend.  So while it will take a little longer to get through it, I don't think it will be as stressful as trying to get it all done in 3 months. and I will only have to drive to GR, not Lansing, on the weekends.  Especially if I'm still doing most of my work in Lansing.

I know I have a lot to be grateful and happy about. I'm here, I have a family who loves me, I have a puppy who loves to clean my eyesockets out, and I have a job.   I just want to point out to anyone going through cancer or after that the journey doesn't end your last day of treatment or after the scars heal.  It goes on, and on and on....

2012 RFL survivor walk

Monday, May 13, 2013

"oh yeah, life goes on." ... from a little ditty about "Jack and Diane"

... from a little ditty about "Jack and Diane"

My friend and co-poster, David Haas from MCA asked me to share this with my readers, which I will happily do.

 Heather Von St. James, a seven-year mesothelioma cancer survivor, participated in a short video about her journey through her cancer experience. It is a truly inspirational story that will hope will further our mission to spread hope and awareness to those who need it. If you wouldn't mind sharing this with your readers Heather would be very grateful. Here is the link to the video: www.mesothelioma.com/heather.
I hope you find hope, inspiration, or something positive to take away from it.


Monday, March 4, 2013

Diamonds on the soles of her shoes

from "http://www.positivityblog.com"

One of my worst fears as a mother is that I will pass on my genetic anomalies to my child. I know that we all have health history to deal with, on my husband's side there is Parkinson's, among other things. On my side, me with both a chronic autoimmune disorder and cancer.  A grandfather with heart disease, a grandmother and two great-grandmothers with cancer. Another grandmother with Dementia/Alzheimer's.

Now my father has been diagnosed with early signs of Alzheimer's. He will be 77 in May, and hopefully with medication, we can push the onset back a bit.  His side is very long-lived...most of his aunts, uncles, mother and grandmother lived well into their 90's, most without losing their faculties.  My great-grandmother and grandmother were not in that group.  I remember visiting my great-grandmother in the nursing home on one of our summer visits to California- the one who taught her 5 year old great-granddaughter how to say "kiss my ass" in Portuguese  and smoked in bed with her granddaughter in the 50's.  I remembered a large-bosom-ed woman with all encompassing hugs.  Instead,  I saw a frail, skinny old woman, hair disheveled who did not remember me anymore.

My sister and I spent many summers in California staying with my grandmother, spending time with the aunts, great-aunts, and cousins on both sides of the family.  We played gin rummy and spoons, and laughed at my grandmother when she had the occasional "fluffy" moment...a joke on her fuzzy thoughts as well as her permed curly white hair.  This is how I remember her, because after the dementia became really bad, I did not go and visit her.  I did not want to remember her THAT way, and after all, she didn't remember me.  The end for her was only painful for those she left behind, she had long been lost to the world of the living.

I am hopeful for my father, that medication will help slow down the progression and he will be able to live the remainder of his life with more awareness and less confusion.  Since he lives near me, I will not be able to live in denial of the disease on this go-round.

Additionally, two weeks ago, I took Connor to the Pediatric Rheumatologist.  He was diagnosed with hyper mobility syndrome - something he picked up from me, and undifferentiated spondylopathy - or something close to that...an auto-immune disorder.  Again, something he picked up from me, since auto-immune disorders are genetically transmitted.  In the juvenile stage, this has manifested in his toes swelling, and inflammation in the back of his ankles, front of his knees and stiffness in his spine.  Right now we are treating it with prescription Naprosyn, and hoping for the best.

My husband will say I am wasting the present on a future that has not yet happened, but it's hard not to when I see 3 generations of illness and wonder how each will be impacted. I know that if my son's illness progresses into full blown chronic adult Ankylosing Spondylitis, it will be treatable with the same meds that I use to control mine, and he will have something I didn't have; someone who knows what it's like to deal with a chronic disease and move through it to take control of your body back from the beast- to prove that you are in charge and not the disease.  I can hopefully help him to do this earlier and avoid the deep depression and hopelessness that I endured until I figured out a way to get through it.

Bellydance Grand Rapids - Oriental Choreography Class
In the meantime, I am immersing myself in conditioning my body - Zumba for some rhythm and cardio, and bellydance for the sheer joy it gives me.  I found I can use the common room at the local Y to practice after the scheduled classes are done.  It has a full length mirror and all the room I need to move.  Plus, I've had a few people approach me to ask where I take classes.  Bellydance is still a little strange in West Michigan, it seems.  I'm working on my dance costumes, and hope to perform in the student performances in June at our studio's 3 day 'show-off' weekend, "Tales from the Sultan's Tent".  I have been asked by a few members if I will consider teaching a beginner class there. I'm not sure if I qualify to do that, but will ask the AD there if it's possible.

Next week, we take the whole family + one friend to Orlando for a week.  I plan to do as little as possible, just enjoy my life, the sun, the water and spending time with my family.  After all, this is all we can do.  Live life in the present moment and realize that what the future holds, we will find a way to cope with it.


Thursday, February 14, 2013

I make my OWN Valentimes day!

 Happy Heart Day!

Today is my ONE year anniversary of my last (real) Chemo treatment!  I can't believe it's been a year since I was bald, skinny and sick.

a year ago
I baked a giant triple chunk heart brownie for my sweetlings, It looks pretty but the bottom is overbaked because I used a double batch.  I wanted a BIG heart brownie.  The middle is pretty good, especially for breakfast.

Now...(yes, I look like this ALL
the time!)
My wonderful hubs got me this beauty box of FANCY choc-o-lattes (french accent there pls!) which I ate about 1/2 of last night.  Zumba tonight I think is a necessity.  I have Lowell Wellness Board of Directors meeting tonight, but I missed the last two weeks because of crappy winter weather..
Update on Shanti:  She is GROWING! (I know QUELLE SUPRISE!) [mandatory to throw in as many french phrases as possible on Valentine's day]  She also still hasn't figured out NOT to poop in the house!  My husband, the enforcer started letting her sleep in our bed about a week ago, because she woke him up too often in the middle of the night and he was getting tired of sleeping on the couch with her.  This is fine with me, she is like my own little heating pad, but is interesting when another skinny little body is ALSO in the middle of the bed.  Hubs looked at me the other day and said..."this is going to be bad when she is bigger isn't it?"  He is totally wrapped around her little pink toe (the one with the white fur on it).  She has this sad soulful face that defies you to NOT give her what she wants.  Max has adjusted well, and has a constant wiggly, black growth chewing on him pretty much all the time she is out of her crate.  He doesn't seem to mind, but I notice he does a lot more laying around and teeth gnashing than playing, as he did in the beginning.  Is it possible to tire out a Border Collie?  I think Shanti has managed it.

Work is, well, work. But I'm getting used to it, and after joining my carpool, not having to drive everyday, makes it a lot nicer!  Here is the view out the window of my office on the 7th floor. And another of my office the first week I was there.  Most of the computers being stored in there are gone, so I have enough room to actually put another office in it!  After the last place, I'm not used to such luxurious digs!  But they are gutting the building soon (built during the asbestos era) and we are supposed to be moving somewhere else.  No news on that yet.

I have been playing this winter low key, trying to get used to my new work schedule, and the lack of daylight and sun.  Of course, I am still managing to get some exercise in. For example, this photo of me practicing yoga at the slopes was snapped recently (they photo-shopped someone else's head onto my body).

And here I am demonstrating to this person how to do this pose correctly (I'm not in the shot).

Haha....actually, Yoga is the one thing that has fallen into disrepair.  Monday pm yoga at the Y is out, now, I get home too late.  But I have been trying to hit the Thursday Zumba class, Sunday is Bellydancing YEY! and I'm signed up for a 3 hour tribal bellydance workshop this Saturday!  I'm excited AND terrified, as I fear I will not be able to move for about a week after.  I guess the only solution will be for me to go to Sunday bellydance and try to work the kinks out.  I'm gradually working on adding tassels to anything that doesn't move.  Just trying to put together a few full dance outfits, and going more towards tribal style.  Shanti SOMEHOW managed to remove a tassel from my dance belt from INSIDE my dance bag on TOP of a bed in a closed bedroom and then reduce it to a large pile of yarn pieces.  She also got a hold of some balls of yarn from the music room and turned them into a big pile of mess.  She lacks the finesse of Oscar as a kitten, though, as he used the balls of yarn artistically, while Shanti is more about just turning it into a big pile of mess.  She's just so cute though............ (that's how it all started with Oscar)...
but for today...wishing you Love!   ~om~

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Om Shanti

Biggest news right now....we have a new PUPPY!

ok, now that everyone has a chance to say either; 1. congrats! 2. are you crazy?? 3. you got ANOTHER dog- are you absolutely completely crazy???

Yes, we must be crazy, but bottom line is, everyone loves a puppy and she is god-awful adorable.  She is a lab/terrier mix we named "Shanti" - "PEACE" in Hindi/Sanskrit.  She will be 4 months old on Feb 7, and so far she is living up to her name at least in temperament.  (NOT as in peacefully sleeping at 4am, but that is expected when you get a new baby/puppy).   She is fairly small, in my opinion, for her age, so I'm hoping that we don't get a 90 pound lab when all is said and done.  Max is starting to appreciate having a playmate that doesn't hiss and run away when he starts chewy on his head, and they have been playing chase, keep away, and a couple of WWE moves I don't know the names of.

Max enjoying his pool
Big things happened right at the end of the year, Brian started a new job, and left the home office, which is one reason why we started considering getting a canine companion for Mr. Pickles (aka Max the mookie).  I thought we should go for a more mature dog, around Max's age, but unfortunately, Brian found the petfinder puppy page and there was a perfect storm where they just happened to be showing at a local pet store in an area we were going to be.  Within 2 minutes, maybe, Shanti was sitting in my lap, and Brian says..."I guess we're taking THIS one."  Luckily, I had already filled out an app for this event on the chance there would be a dog we liked there, and of course, though I had looked at, and applied for several other dogs, once you have a puppy in your lap, it's yours....in my opinion, an uncontested law of the universe.   She is surprisingly mellow for a puppy, she sits very prettily, and is learning down and shake quite well.  She has good social skills- we met the airedale next door and the toy pomeranian down the street.  She was interested in meeting with the cats, who tripled their size or hid when they saw her first, and she really wanted to play with the bunnies (just about her size), but couldn't figure out why they wouldn't come out of their kennel and play?

Favorite pose at the mo'
FIRST dog I have ever owned that plays fetch, tug, chews on squeaky toys and doesn't demolish plush ones. I'm pretty excited to see what she does with a frisbee when the weather warms up.  She is also not that mouthy, despite a bevy of needle little puppy teeth, so my hands, feet, etc are very happy about that.  I think I will skip puppy school and just wait a few months for basic obedience.  I think she will know most of the commands in 2 months anyway.   She also likes to 'walk herself'.  It's quite funny, never having a dog that we didn't have to constrain in some way in order not to get dragged down the sidewalk.

Ok. Enough about Shanti.  But, you know, it's really quite nice to write about new life, energy, love, and all that stuff in a cancer blog, especially when dealing with the deaths of 2 more members of our local Gilda's club within the past month.

So here is the REVELATION part of today's blog: I FINALLY realized what I wanted to do when I grow up.  Teach Yoga.  I've known it for a long time, but with my RA, I never really thought that I would be able to stand up to the rigors I imagined a Yoga teacher must have to go through to be a Yoga teacher.   But, I realized AFTER I went through my cancer journey that I was able to do yoga all through out my surgeries and treatment, at times, the only thing that seemed to keep me sane.  If *I* can do yoga during cancer, I certainly can become a teacher and help others that are going through the same or similar ordeals.  Studies have shown the women who do yoga during breast cancer treatment get through it with better mental outlook and fewer reported side effects.  Personally, I think that they have the same amount of side effects, but use Yoga to manage them, thus taking control of their own experiences.

I learned that during childbirth.  When I was on the monitor and knew the contraction was coming, I could start breathing and relaxing BEFORE I felt the actual pain, and was able to get through it.  When I was off the monitor and the pain hit me first, it was a lot harder to deal with.  Cancer, RA, diabetes, MS, MD, heart-attack, stroke- whatever- these things take away the misconception that WE can control what happens to our bodies.  I ate organic food, exercised, etc. etc. and still I have these diseases.  I can view myself as a victim of these diseases or I can use my yoga practice to take control back from the disease and manage it.  That means I win, despite whatever happens to me.   Just about the time I decided I REALLY wanted to take the teacher training certification offered through Hillaire Lockwood's Hilltop Yoga studio (BTW -Hillaire is a chronic cancer survivor and KICKS ASS!),  I was approached by a recruiter for a staffing firm in Lansing.  Looking for a Business Analyst to do some testing for the State of MI.   About 10 minutes from Hillaire's Old Town studio.  The home office for my new company, Analysts Int'l is in Okemos, which is close to her Haslett studio.  hmmmmmm......can we say Serendipity?

I knew that when the right job came up, I would know it, and guess what, I did!  So, though I'm just finishing my first month on the contract, things seem to be going pretty well.

Brian took me to a pottery wheel workshop courtesy of Groupon and I made a bowl!  Wasn't really sure what it was going to be, but here it is.  I think it turned out pretty nice.  I think it will end up being a cookie bowl for the pooches....

Even though my favorite bellydance instructor Na'imah (below, far left front) LEFT US to fend for ourselves in the month of December while she went galavanting around India, she did post this lovely pic of one of our classes working on our choreography piece to Ma Tes’al Aaleya, and it actually looks like we all know what we are doing~!  
at BellyDanc Grand Rapids (I'm in the back corner)
I'm having a blast with bellydancing, it's so fun to do on a Sunday afternoon, it really helps with that Sunday evening dread of heading back to work the next day.  Additionally, I started Zumba-ing on Thursdays at my local Y...something I don't think I would have the nerve to do before all this.  THAT is hard work, but I'm starting to get good at some of the routines and having a lot of fun, which is the most important part.   I've kind of put running on the back burner, too many irons in the fire right now, but I think once Connor starts up spring soccer, I'll get back to running, since there is a good track around the field where he practices.

SO.....that is a LOT for one post, but I figure what I'm lacking in frequency these days, I'll make up in content.

Brian got a new gaming PC for xmas, and tricked out the old one with all new gaming parts, so I can have the laptop, since I lost mine when I left Farmers.  I felt a little naked without it on the weekends, even if I never opened it up.  Sort of like when you lose your phone, even if it's just misplaced, you get that panicky feeling of being disconnected.  oh what technology has done to us!!!  In any event, the thought was to get two gaming computers so I can use the laptop, which works out sort of ok, until my son wants to play some game that's only on the laptop.  Luckily, we are now in stasis- one computer for each member of the family with opposable thumbs.

But for now we've come to the end of the January installment of BCIMB.  Hopefully February will continue to bring good things into our lives. Until then-

OM shanti OM
~love, pixie