Sunday, December 13, 2015

Tis the Season

At the end of every year there is a burning light, and throughout each month the distance from that light becomes less and less as we trundle towards it. When we reach the end, the world is dark--we have passed through sunrise, daylight, and starlit nights, and the flame is nearly gone. We blow it out or watch it fade just in time. Somewhere on the horizon someone strikes another match, another flame blazes into the darkness, and we start over again.

But for me, this year, I never seemed to get any nearer to the light. Despite how I anxiously scrambled toward its glow, it was snuffed out before I got a chance to reach it. When this happens, reaching the next light is rather impossible. It hasn't been lit. When this happens, there is a great deal of wandering in the dark without any guidance or sense of direction, and we may not even see the next light when it is lit because we get lost.

If this sounds familiar or resonates with you somehow, there's a chance you've experienced depression the same way I have.

I have written, albeit briefly, about my depression a handful of times on this blog. I prefer not to talk about it on this platform because in spite of the decreasing amount of stigma surrounding the issue, there are still individuals who are not "safe" people to tell. There is the person who once told my eighth grade English class in a reprimanding tone, "Happiness is a choice." In addition, there are still people who will respond to another's depression with comments like, "It could be worse," and to add to their blithe statements, will often give examples of people who have it worse.

In any case, this post is not written for those people.

This post is written, first of all, for the people like me: The people who get it, who have been there in the dark too. However, it's also for the people who may have stood back and been confused by my irregular temperament. It is for those who were shocked by aggressive words or ignorant statements, by my impulsive actions or dramatic reactions, or even periods of what looks like laziness. If I seemed overly sad about something you thought was insignificant, if I was so excited about something I appeared agitated and ill-composed, or if you ever thought that my behavior was out of character--this year, or any year--it is likely because of depression.

I am not going to apologize for my feelings. They were real to me, even if they weren't realistic. I am only going to apologize if my behavior caused pain, confusion, or distress of any kind. You don't need to let me know if I hurt or disappointed you; just know that I am sorry, and I hope you will forgive me.

I have been able to cope with this, most days. I have a fairly reliable support system and people who will talk me through things. Sometimes the support system is there before I do something regrettable, but sometimes they are simply there for me in the backlash. And for the last several years I have not been overwhelmed by the depression that was so terribly consuming during high school and the year after. I felt relatively stable until this year, and following my surgery this February I realized that things were slipping out of place. I had a stressful spring and summer, and over the fall months it worsened until it suddenly came to a peak and I realized that for the first time in my life...

...this is real, and even with the proper support system in place, it is not going away. 

As a teenager the tumultuous experience of depression could have been blamed on an awful boyfriend or ridiculous hormones. As an adult I am distinctly aware that this is not how things should be. I have walked toward the light at the end of this year and watched it go out, and I know I do not deserve to wander aimlessly through the darkness.

Happiness is not a choice. Happiness is not even the goal. Happiness is a temporary, fleeting thing--and it is not the thing I want.

Yes, other people have it "worse," but that does not mean anyone has the right to dismiss my pain or decide that I am the antagonist in my own story.

I have taken steps to find healing and new ways to manage my depression, but it will be an extremely difficult first week. (My doctor essentially told me I should expect to feel varying degrees of awful.) That being said, I do not have time for those who refuse to respect the severity of this issue, or for those who won't acknowledge how imperative it is that I receive the support for which I am asking.

So I am taking a break this week.  From the people and situations which have hurt me, knowingly or not. From the people who don't understand. From the mindless, desensitized, media-driven world.

From Sunday, December 13th through Saturday December 19th I will not be on Facebook. You can feel free to text or call me (only non-advice conversations), and I will do my best to respond to messages on Facebook. There's a chance I will use Instagram and I might be present here on the blog (both automatically send updates to FB) but I haven't decided yet. Mostly I just want to avoid the senseless scrolling and the following fogginess.

And there you have it. Even writing this made me anxious... I worry that expressing my feelings and being vulnerable here will somehow have terrible consequences. Anyways. Thanks for taking the time to read this. I would appreciate any prayers you can offer, and encouraging notes/messages/calls/etc. are definitely accepted. As I said before, I'll do my best to respond if I'm feeling up to the task. Hopefully I'll be back in a week with a new light. :)


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Thanksketching: Day 18

I am thankful for
His undeserved death
and my undeserved life. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Thanksketching: Day 17

I am thankful for
for snark and sarcasm
and sweet memories.
[Thank you for being a friend.]

Monday, November 16, 2015

Thanksketching: Day 16

I am thankful for
endless dreams among
warm winter snuggles
with the blankets
covering my nose.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Thanksketching: Day 15

I am thankful for
musty pages,
note-filled margins,
for limitless stories,
everything under the sun that
I can hold in my hand.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Thanksketching: Day 14

I am thankful for
the affection,
and wisdom
of my parents.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Thanksketching: Day 13

I am thankful for

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Thanksketching: Better Late Than Never

I realize it's been just over three months since I wrote a blog post. This isn't because I don't have anything exciting to report. I do. But when you're busy living life you don't always have time to write it down.

So before I dive into the focus of today's title, I'll give a few updates.

1. I went home (to Seattle) to surprise my mother for her 60th birthday. It was a wonderful week filled with coffee and old friends and anxiety, because...
2. My husband got a new job. While I was gone. Yep.
3. I've been working a lot and cleaning a lot. Those aren't really updates, but that's what's up.

And now, an explanation. Thanksketching--I'm sure you're wondering what the heck I could be talking about. Basically, I thought about blogging the "30 Days of Gratitude" stuff that I've done for the last few years, but it's the same things year after year (unless something really fun happens in the middle of November.) I avoided thinking about it simply because I wasn't planning on doing it. And then it hit me--what if I sketched what I was thankful for, instead of just wrote about it?

So here you go. I have done most of the month's drawing already, to stay on top of it (since the month is already almost half over.) The other posts will be back-published, so you can scroll through and see them all. Each post will include a picture and a few carefully chosen words.

Here is today's:
I am thankful for
fuzzy socks,
warm feet,
being cozy.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Thanksketching: Day 11

I am thankful for
those stupid paper dresses
and the stupid glasses on my face
and the stupid drugs I take
provided by health insurance.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Thanksketching: Day 10

I am thankful for
the dangling tag
the steeping bag
of tea.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Thanksketching: Day 9

I am thankful for
roots and seeds
branches and leaves
above and below
into shadowing trees.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Thanksketching: Day 8

I am thankful for
dark theaters or
cozy couches
and stories told
by moving pictures.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Thanksketching: Day 7

I am thankful for
the lines

Friday, November 6, 2015

Thanksketching: Day 6

I am thankful for
in cups
with friends
old and new.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Thanksketching: Day 5

I am thankful for
late night stories,
early morning laughter,
a partner in crime,
my husband.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Thanksketching: Day 4

I am thankful for
or asleep.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Thanksketching: Day 3

I am thankful for
my Christmas puppy,
fluffy and fat,
happy or sleepy,
her kisses and snuggles
and unconditional love.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Thanksketching: Day 2

I am thankful for
among children
and colors.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Friday, September 11, 2015

The Exceptional Uncaptured Moment

When there are difficult things weighing you down, suffering and struggles that take your attention, it's easy to focus on the wrongness of "everything." I remember, in every era of depression, someone asking me what was wrong and my response being quite honestly, "Everything." And it sounded dramatic, and people called me dramatic, but there are those experiences where everything truly seems wrong. And then, after some conversation, you can pinpoint that one thing, that untranslatable exception to the everything else, that singular flaw in your life that somehow feels worse and somehow "more wrong" than everything else.

In turn, there are good times in life when everything does not seem wrong. Everything isn't wonderful or overwhelmingly happy. But it's good. It's alright, it's pleasant. These are the times, I believe, that finding "joy in the Lord" is most accessible, because that sort of joy is often quiet and contented. It doesn't require wealth or impressive photography or acknowledgement from the world. It just is. And even in those times, there are also the exceptions--the untranslatable thing that rises above everything else, the singular fragment of bliss that surpasses all the "good" and the "alright", the thing that is "more good" than everything else.

I have experienced both of these times in abundance. I have experienced these exceptions. And since I spent my last post talking about the mundane frustrations of a gajillion doctor's appointments, today we're going to go in a positive direction.

A few weeks ago I went on "vacation" to Wisconsin. We went with a friend to see another friend (and her parents.) It's a short drive up there, just about three hours, and the country is simple and comforting. Lots of corn. Lots of fields. Lots of cornfields.

We even took pictures in the cornfields.

We also made meals together, and drank coffee and tea together.

We went to High Cliff Park and had adventures on the rocks.

We made mountains of food and had friends come over from near and far for a Friday-night barbecue. We sat around a fire pit drinking gin and tonics, munching on overzealously-prepared s'mores, laughing about life and laughing at each other.

It was, in every sense of the word, good. It was a good vacation.

But there are exceptions. And a part of me wants to mention the bad exceptions, because they happened, and they're small but important. Like when I got really dizzy for about an hour and had to lay down, and ended up taking a nap with Emily.

However, the "good" exception, that exceptional moment of goodness is where my heart really wants to be.

We were outside. It was nighttime. The stars were out.

It's a moment so exceptionally good, so overflowing with all the wonderful things that come from friendship and love, that I cannot even describe it here. It is so near to my heart that I cannot even find words worthy of giving.

It is the exception to all exceptions.

And that, my friends, is where God lives.

In those exceptional moments that tip the scales. He is there when things are exceptionally bad and there when things are exceptionally good. While the joy of the Lord is contentedness, quietness, and peace in the midst of the mundane, it can also exist in flashes of brilliance or despairing shadows.

These are the moments I don't write down. Sometimes I'm simply incapable of words. So much of our lives are captured in photographs and shared with immediacy as if they didn't happen unless someone else is aware.

But not every good thing has to impress others in order to be good, and certainly not to be exceptional. They are such exceptional moments that they deserve to exist only without tangible proof.

They go on uncaptured, except in our memories.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Outcome #2, Hospital #3


I have been waiting a while to post because I hoped I would have something concrete to say. I do, of course, but it's not the preferred sort of concrete facts. That sounds silly. Basically, I wish I could drop a whole concrete house on the blog but all I've really got is a couple of those holey concrete blocks that people plant flowers in or use for makeshift shelves with a couple of 2x4s.

So here are my concrete blocks: To sort of piggyback on my last post, I would like to present you with Outcome #2. All the cancerous cells are gone!

It was over a month ago now, but I had my biopsy. They forgot who my ob/gyn was, forgot the year I was born, and forgot what my diagnosis had been. After some necessary clarifications, we got started. It was short, but still incredibly painful, especially since my lovely doctor didn't tell me he'd begun the procedure. If you know me, you know how badly I react with unpleasant surprises. Even pleasant surprises are a coin toss. 

When it was over he told me to get an ultrasound, and after that it would be a few weeks before I knew the results. He also suggested that I have another surgery (the name of which I will not disclose, because it was completely unnecessary) and that I get an IUD for 18 months.

I made faces at him to express my feelings (which were equal amounts of disgust and amusement.) He wouldn't shut up about either, so eventually I had to say, "Yeah, I'll consider that!" with a big fake smile. For a "short" appointment, it could not be going any slower.

His suggestions, aside from being absolutely not what I needed, were ridiculous. I'm not dying, and have fairly good health (more on that later); I do not need another surgery (especially a surgery that often leads to more fertility problems.) And the IUD? Don't even get me started. (the short definition for an IUD: fancy birth control device that hangs out inside your body and can sometimes attach to your body and also lead to more fertility problems.)

I left the doctor's office feeling sour and frustrated, and very misunderstood. We went to Hansa in Libertyville for some coffee, and I avoided the ultrasound for another week. I had to get it done at a different hospital, but they were understaffed, so then I had to go to another different hospital. (In the list of hospitals/offices I would prefer to go to, we were now at third on the list.)

Fast forward 2 weeks: I've gotten the results from the biopsy. No cancer! Just waiting for the ultrasound. I thought about blogging then, but still wanted to wait for the full results. And... hospital #3 forgot to transfer my results to the cancer doctor. So I had to call... give them the fax number... and wait some more. I hated thinking about how those stupid ultrasound images had just been sitting in a filing cabinet somewhere in hospital #3, and no one had even looked at them.

Finally I got the call with the ultrasound results. Everything was normal! Along with being informed I no longer needed to see my gynecologic oncologist (hopefully I will never have to type those words ever again), I was told I could finally go back to my ob/gyn. I had no other directions, except to "follow up with her."

So my appointment with her is this comingThursday morning. I'm not sure what it will entail. It has been a stressful few weeks since I received the final results. In addition to taking a close friend to the ER twice last week, and taking her to/from surgery between those ER visits, I had my own trip to urgent care (on my birthday) and then this last Friday had my "urgent care follow up" with my regular doctor, only for her to tell me... to go see a specialist because my current predicament (sinus related, not cancer) is an anomaly.

Yeah, that's right. I'm an anomaly. I'm so weird she actually called me "darlin'."

I'm starting to feel like that crazy aunt/uncle that can't stop talking about their cataracts, or their arthritis. Don't assume I don't understand that those are serious issues--they are!--but only talking about medical maladies can put strain on a relationship.

I really don't want you to start thinking of me as your crazy aunt.

So I'm going to blog again tomorrow, about wonderful things, happy things. It doesn't mean my health is not a complete conundrum, or that I'm not deeply worried that my ob/gyn will also tell me I need 18 terrible months of terrible birth control... it just means my life is full of both the wonderful and the terrible and they both deserve to be shared.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

As We Wait

This was one of those "middle"-ing weeks, a seven-day stretch of less important things between more pressing matters. Last week was brimming with birthday activities for Joey, including a Star Wars marathon and a liquid cheese debacle (his idea, not mine) for the birthday nachos. And next week I have "the doctor's appointment."

I'll admit, it's been a strange and overwhelming week of waiting. I am comforted by long phone conversations and snuggles with my dog. I took one day and went into town while the husband worked so that I could have coffee with friends and browse some craft stores. I have rested my mind with documentaries, a piano app on my phone, and writing and writing and writing. I have done all this, and other meaningless things I can't recall or mention, in order to prepare and try to keep myself calm for the appointment on Tuesday.

But among all those things, attempts to find some sort of peace or at least anxiety-free moments, I found these videos.

The first one includes stories from three women who discovered, at varying stages in life and for various reasons, that they weren't able to have children. I resonated with all three of their stories, the mystery of not knowing why, the struggle of feeling like you can't offer to the world what you want to, and the decision to tell the world.

It's not easy to just come out and say it. I spent nearly a decade thinking I had PCOS, and I didn't say anything most of the time because I was ashamed. I'm sorry I didn't say something sooner, because I feel like it would have been even more of a victory when I finally realized I didn't have it.

In the second video a woman describes her experience with having a miscarriage. I have never been pregnant (yet!), nor have I had a miscarriage, but she also explained that she had a D&C (dilation & curettage). This is the same procedure I had during surgery back in February, and what happened to her only happens to about 1 in 500 women. However, the perspective is helpful--now you know what I was up against. The scarring from a mistake like that (you know, puncturing through someone's body) can lead to infertility.

While both videos were heartbreaking in their own right, and watching them could have led towards a depressed mindset, they were truly more beneficial than harmful. As I prepare for yet another uncomfortable and painful procedure next Tuesday, it is so good... so good to know that there are other people, other woman, with stories like mine.

It seems so odd that the appointment is finally here, and I still feel as if there is not enough time before it happens. It was the beginning of March when I went to see my oncologist for the first time, when I first started the drugs, when I stood in the waiting room and stared in befuddlement at the receptionist who said, "You need an appointment three months from now? Okay, let's see... July 28th." She handed me the little reminder card and I thought, I know I'm an English nerd and not a math genius, but this is almost five months away.

FYI, I just paused my writing to play with bubble wrap. This sort of thing also helps.

Often life hands us situations where we don't know what to expect. However, I find that those situations usually involve a handful of possible outcomes, perhaps a whole list of options for things that may or may not happen. Right now I don't have a handful of outcomes. I have two. I just don't know what they'll lead to.

They're going to do a biopsy. (When I say "a" biopsy, I really mean it's a singular experience, because there are actually about 6 biopsies taken.) I don't need to tell you I'm not looking forward to it, but I'll say it anyways. I'm really not looking forward to it. Once it's done, I'll wait a few days for the results.

Outcome #1: All the cancerous cells are gone!

Outcome #2: The cancerous cells are still here!

There is nothing in my mind or body that knows how to move forward from either of those circumstances. I think I know what the doctor's want, if all the cancer is gone. They want to put me on birth control (barf) for a few months and "see how that works." I am not on board with that plan and if I can conjure the courage I will tell them, with all the fierce facial expressions I can come up with, that I want to skip the birth control and get straight to the fertility drugs, since that's our end goal anyways.

I'm all about efficiency, you know.

But if the cancerous cells are not gone, and I don't know why they wouldn't be, I have absolutely no clue as to what the next step is. More of the same drugs? Higher doses? Different drugs? Something scary, like chemo? Something terrifying, like a hysterectomy?

These aren't things you can prepare for. I can barely prepare myself for the biopsy, something I'm already very familiar with.

So it essentially feels, all the time, like I'm waiting for something in order to wait for the next thing.

I'm waiting for Tuesday so I can go to the doctor and wait in the lobby, then wait uncomfortably on the table with the stupid paper towel blanket, then wait for the procedure to be over, then wait for the doctor to shut up and leave, and then wait for the results. And heaven knows once I get the results I'll have to wait for another appointment to figure out what we'll do next.

And whatever we do next, I'll have to "wait and see" if it works. Or doesn't.

Waiting is hard. Sometimes it's the hardest part of life. Sometimes it's the only thing you can hold on to--I don't know much, except that I'm waiting. I don't have what I want, but I'll keep waiting until I do. And most of the time we wait because we don't have a choice, or because choosing to wait is the right thing to do, even if it's the most difficult.

And while I'm waiting, while we wait together and work long hours and agonize over what will happen, we still have hope. We hope for and imagine the joyful sound of that bursting heartbeat, a reluctant first cry, tiny hands grasping for us, a pair of enormous blue eyes. While we wait, we hope, we walk aimlessly through the baby section at Target and sometimes it makes us sad... and sometimes (like yesterday morning) I walk through, proudly and courageously touching tiny baby shoes and admiring innovative baby toys, because my hope is bigger than my fear.

These are so many hopes and dreams rolled into one and it is the thing we strive for, regardless of how implausible it might seem. I hope for this and ask for what I want. I could simply ask for health. I could be waiting just to "get better." I could hope that my body would be healed and never expect more.

I'm scared, but not so scared that I'll hope for the lesser things. I'm brave enough to know what I want, and to ask for it, to really beg for it, brave enough to hope for it... because it makes the waiting easier.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

That Midsummer Life

For the lack of bustle in my business, I haven't written here often. At least not lately. It's been nearly a month and you might think I just became busy, or was overwhelmed with some project. None of that is accurate--not entirely.

The truth about writing, for me, is that when I have appropriate sources for support I am less inclined to express my deepest feelings on the internet. It means that even in the middle of an emotional crisis or some sort of trauma, if I have enough outlets in real life then I don't feel I need an outlet anywhere else. My blog (and even sometimes my journal) can grow dusty during those times. 

Basically I have beautiful friends. I have had enough people to talk me through things that it didn't seem like my blog was my only chance to vent. Thanks, friends. 

Nevertheless, I have a loyal audience somewhere, albeit a small one, and my summer has been full of excellent adventures. 

Last month was full of love and laughter. I celebrated four years of marriage to my wonderful husband. We celebrated at Six Flags, because the whole, "eating at a restaurant for every special occasion" thing can get old pretty quickly. 

We also finally got smart phones. (^That pictures was taken with Instagram! I'm so cool!) I know, some of you are probably recalling all those times I said, "I don't have a smart phone, and I probably never will." Well, it finally became cheaper for us to switch, rather than stay with our old, broken phones at our old, pricey phone company. We now pay a fraction of the cost, but get so much more. We agreed not to download and/or play endless games and really only use the phones for talking, texting (a feature we didn't actually have before), and taking pictures. The husband uses his to obsessively play music. 

Shortly after that I celebrated Independence Day with some friends. Joey had to work, so I hooked up with some of my favorite Parsonage House people for a David Crowder concert and later some fireworks over Lake Michigan. 

I also opened an Etsy store last week. It's called Foxwild Studio and so far it's been fairly successful. I've really enjoyed learning about business tactics--the first being that if you put physical things into your store's name, it will be more memorable. It's also given me the chance to really branch out creatively. Over the years I've accumulated a lot of beading materials and supplies, but aside from gifts for people and things I make for myself, I haven't had much opportunity to make anything. It's been such a blast. Check out the shop, if you haven't already!

Here's an example of some of the things I sell. (I promise not everything is fox-related.) The pendant on the left sold literally an hour ago! Business will hopefully really get going in the next few weeks. I've been making new items all week, and I just made a lightbox, which should make the photographing of items easier and therefore the items will look prettier. 

In less wonderful news, I'm finally up for another visit to my cancer doctor. I just finished round four of my super fun cancer drugs, and now I get to wait (ever so patiently) for my appointment on the 28th. There will be a biopsy this time, as the good doctor promised. I am not looking forward to it. I know it might not be anywhere near as painful as the first time, but I'm still a little scared. However, in light of my fear, there is also hope. I also know that if the cancerous cells are nowhere to be found and the biopsy is all clear, I can move on from cancer drugs and begin fertility drugs. 

I'm going to just put it all out there. I actually thought I was pregnant last month. In fact, I had several positive pregnancy tests at home. I had all the other crazy symptoms, and was so sick on our anniversary that we actually left Six Flags early. Knowing that false positives are extremely rare, I went to the doctor. She confirmed I was not pregnant. Surprisingly, I am not heartbroken. Confused, but not defeated.

So inside all the anxiety of thinking I was pregnant and then not being pregnant (and a new doctor basically accusing me that if I was pregnant I didn't care about my baby because I shouldn't get pregnant while taking this certain drug) I am hopeful. Whatever the outcome, I am hopeful.

And August isn't even here yet, so we've got lots of time to just sit around and hope. :)

Wednesday, June 17, 2015


I am not a runner. If you're ignorant or insulting, you could take one look at me and say it. "She's not a runner." But the state of my body is not necessarily a reflection of my life, my activity, or even my "health" as some would put it.

For reasons unknown my body started making cancerous cells. I didn't do anything, eat anything, drink anything, or experience anything to cause those cells to spring into life and then cause chaos within me. So some people will try to convince you that the external body is always proof of a person's intentions, or lack thereof--like I intended to be a certain shape or size.

Before I start to react to old messages, old things that make me feel ashamed (because I'm not!) I'll just tell you that I went to the doctor last week.

I'd been having some knee and foot pain, especially while I was "working out" (a term that sounds obnoxious, even when I'm simply typing it). I have a history of sprained ankles, sometimes spontaneously (as in, I spent an hour standing while singing, holding a microphone, and at the end of that hour I couldn't walk and the next day I got x-rays and my doctor told me my foot was bleeding internally.) Due to this unfortunate history, I wanted to see if maybe I was doing something wrong, and if I could fix it.

She took a look at my right foot and my right knee. The left side of me is fine, inexplicably. She laughed and told me it wasn't broken, as if I had expected it to be. I explained my ankle/foot injuries, the traumatic time I hurt the right foot on a mission trip and never got it looked into because directly after the trip I burst an eardrum. She said, "Well, you have weak ankles. Obviously. So you walk a little knob-kneed, and your ankle compensates, and then your knee compensates for the ankle. Also, you have to stop running."

And I'm a nice person so I didn't laugh at her, but I did hold up my hand like a stop sign to confirm that I do not run. Of course, then she asked what I was doing and I said, Kickboxing. If you know me, you know my face when I'm irritated but trying to be polite. Imagine that face.

This is turning into a long, boring story about a trip to my doctor, a woman who likes to assume things and interrupt me, so I'll fast forward: She told me to stop kickboxing or doing anything with my feet. I am allowed to swim, or bike, or stretch. In a few months, I might be allowed to do the kickboxing again.

I have reliable access to neither of the first two options, so I am left with... stretching.

Now before ya'll go into throwing advice at me (not my favorite thing) about yoga or some other mumbo jumbo, don't. I can take care of myself. I'll figure this out.

Because I know how to find alternatives. Because that's how we survive.

Now, I'm not happy about it. I love... love kickboxing. I explained to a friend last week that there's nothing as exhilarating or even empowering about releasing that sort of aggressive energy through a physical action. When I am fighting an invisible opponent, I am in charge of my body, and my feelings. I decide which emotion I'm feeling and its intensity, every time I cross-punch the air or kick my leg over my head... well, almost.

But now I have to find an alternative.

And it just reminds me of all those other things in life, those desires and dreams we are given, the things we long for and nearly reach but must inevitably give up on--however temporarily--in order to keep ourselves safe.

How many times do we start something and enjoy every moment of it, while we're basking in that experience, but afterwards... realize some sort of regret? Or perhaps a downfall that wasn't earlier considered?

How many times do we reach for something and take all the right steps, only to find we are not ready in some other fashion, or it's not the right time, or the rules have changed?

And in those times, do we give up? Do we bury the dream, stifle our desires, forget the thing which might make us truly alive...?

It's not easy to give up either, you know. It may look cowardly to run the other way, but it isn't, not if you're running towards something else. It's simply realistic. It takes a certain bravery to shelve the things we long for, or change the way it looks, and give in to secondary things, to put our energy into other people and other dreams, to find life and satisfaction and fulfillment in something new.

Just think of all the relationships that have failed. The lost jobs. The unfinished projects. The children that never were, the house that never became a home. And how everywhere, for all people, while they may regret for some time the thing they could not have, eventually everyone finds an alternative.

New relationships are formed. New jobs found. New projects conceived, started, finished. Children adopted. Other places become home. The alternative becomes more than second best, more than something you settled for. The alternative sometimes becomes the new dream.

It feels a little weird for me to make this analogy, basing it on kickboxing. (Although, at least it's not about running.) But the point is, even if I have to give up on the one thing that really made "working out" (barf) worth my time, I'm not giving up on it forever. I'm just not going to hurt myself in order to keep doing it. I'm going to find an alternative... even if that alternative happens to be yoga.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Round Three (or Fighting & Winning)

Apparently there was a big fight a few weeks ago. It's funny, because I'm actually a big fan of boxing thanks to one of my favorite books, but I could not have been less interested in this particular match. Somehow, there's something unappealing about paying $100 to watch (on tv) two dudes hit each other for a prize of approximately $300 million. (Tickets to the actual "fight" were $1000-$10,000, just in case you were wondering.)

That's right. If it was confusing, let me spell it out for you. Pay ten thousand dollars to see two boxers fight for forty-five minutes for three-hundred-million dollars. This insurmountable sum was split 60-40 in the favor of the victor. This means that one guy went home with an estimated $80 million and the other went home with $120 million. (Although, it should be noted some estimates predict it could be upwards of $100mil. and $180mil.)

So we've got the Boko Haram insurgency, children dying of cancer (or the measles), wars in Afghanistan and Russia, two devastating earthquakes in Nepal, and thousands of other conflicts which--yes, I actually looked up thousands!--I will not describe in detail. All of these other disasters and tragedies are taking place and causing misery around the world, but here in the heart of America we care about... two dudes who fought each other for an hour.

What really gets me is that nobody was knocked out, or really injured, for that matter. I didn't watch the fight but I'm pretty sure if someone had broken a body part (other than teeth, or a finger) we would have heard about it by now. If significant damage had been endured, we would be informed and we would have something to say about it.

Can you even call that a fight?

Maybe my definition of a fight is different.

Maybe when I think of fighting, I think of the young women and men in wars overseas, having to leave their families and children and lives, just to fight for someone else's freedom.  

Maybe when I think of fighting, I think of the overwhelming depression I and so many others have warred against, along with the stigmas of mental illness and the isolation that comes from having an invisible disease.

Maybe when I think of fighting, I think of the people I've loved who battled cancer. For most of them, it's an ongoing conflict. Sometimes they lose, but even if they win, there's always that fear that they'll have to go back to the front lines.

Maybe when I think of fighting, I think of the "abnormal cells" that entered my body and caused a thousand problems (like depression! yay!). I think of the road I have to take and the warrior I must become to reach my destination... to defeat my supposed enemies... to win.  

Maybe when I think of fighting, I think of winners and losers. 

Apparently one of the dudes in this hour-long fight, the guy who won, only won by a "unanimous decision." As in, he won because.... someone just decided he did?

In my book, in order for somebody to win, somebody else has to lose. When it comes to fighting, there is always a loser and a winner. That means the winner takes all and the loser gets nothing.

When I get to the end of this road, I don't want my enemy (the cells, the cancer, whatever) to get 40% of the winnings. I don't want 60% of the victory.


I want the disease out of my body, I want a baby in my arms, and I'm not going to look back. I'm not going to concede any of my victory to my enemy, or be satisfied with only some of the goal. I will not reach the finish line and throw my enemy 40% or even 1% because it was a "good fight." I understand that, at some level, simply being alive is a victory, but I am not near death and therefore the enemy is not the death of my body, but the death of the life I want.

And I am sure, as certain as the sun will rise tomorrow, that I am not alone in this sentiment. If you have truly fought anything (illness, addiction, literal weapons) for any amount of time (a moment, a day, a lifetime) you can understand the notion that the purpose of the fight is not to share the victory with your enemy.

The purpose of your fight is to use your fists or your words or your will to win.

With all that said... if you take a look at the photo above you'll notice a handful of pills. These are the buggers I take every day. (There are actually three more, not pictured.) Some of them are for allergies (because it's springtime!) and some of them are to save my life (because I'm dying! Just kidding.) In 10 days I will start round three of my "cancer therapy." It doesn't kill me, but the side effects are exhausting. While I take the drugs I am tired all the time. I am able to fall asleep quickly, for the first time in my life, but it's almost impossible to wake up. I also have the munchies. My oncologist said this would happen, although I didn't experience it during the first round of drugs. I definitely felt it during round two -- it's kind of interesting, wanting a popsicle one minute and celery the next.

It's a different fight than what some people might consider "difficult," but it is still my fight. Even if it only means suffering from "the munchies" it is still my fight. Even though it means enduring several painful biopsies this summer, it is still my fight. Even if it means tumultuous hormones and being impatient with my husband or experiencing endless anxiety over all of the doctor's appointments to come, it is still my fight.

It is still my life that I am fighting for, and I intend to win.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

NPM: Three, Two, One

I am just barely making it under the wire. But it's been one of those weeks. So, here are the last three poems for National Poetry Month. It has been an adventure, as always. I got to share NPM with my students this year (we studied Dr. Seuss and Shel Silverstein) so that's a wonderful bonus.

Anyways. Here they are! Until next year.

1. Will Not Persist - April 28, 2015

A child who hangs his head
has a mother, she sighs and swears
when progress will not persist
at the perfect pace
or in tactical timetables.
Every other week he works,
fingers frenzied with paper and pencil,
her grave gaze at the doorway,
as if this helpless hour
will charge the change she seeks.
But no one learns life lessons
from a perpetual pinching,
nor from distant discomfort
that dims or dies in the daylight.
But give a boy a beating
and the man will remember,
take a squandering sum
and the pauper will prevail.
Do not forsake the function
or lament life’s teacher
if you only listen lazily,
as seconds and lessons are lost,
all while you wait,
all while you worry
and will not work.

2. The Confirmation - April 29, 2015

My fear of the future is only equal to
my memory of terrified stillness
and the coldness of abandonment.
I step forward ambitiously,
warm-hearted and open-armed.
But my heart is the sun.
My arms are flaming tongues.
This must confirm the reality
I face in the resulting solitude.
Yet I cannot fade or burn away,
remaining too much, or too little,
who can tell?
All I can conclude is that
where there is no goodbye
there is no justice.

3. Beacon - April 30, 2015

There is a guiding voice
of gilded echoes and force
which judges and passes
each merit or curse
and trebles the ethers
with sanctified meter
behind his mouth.

And there is a song
of persuasive, lifting light
which casts out and contains
what you may love or fight
and waves a beacon
for the heart you weaken
behind your doubt.

Monday, April 27, 2015

NPM: Taking Hold, Etc. (Part 2)

Here is the promised post with more poems, to make up for the extreme lack of them. I thought I would only need 7 to compensate, but I'll need 8. Because it's a new day, which means a new poem.

But don't worry. I've got plenty to spare. Although, watch out for the last one. There's a "swear" in there. So if you read these to children... um, don't. That's weird.

1. Little Red Boat - July 9, 2014

In this story there’s a girl
sleeping in a little red boat.
I could get her into the boat
but not into the water.
I got her into the water
but couldn't make her cross.
She has strong arms
but a tired heart
and she asks me
which is better.
Sleep, or row?
Sleep, row, sleep, row.
So when she closed her eyes
I pushed her into the lake
and the little red boat
drifted away from me.
I got her through the night,
I got her here to the morning,
but I still can’t make her
reach the other side.

2, Fearless v. 4 - July 26, 2014

I will fold and refold
my paper lantern heart,
I will gather a string of lights
around me like a cape,
dancing to the edges
of our shadows,
I will shine in the places
we have made dark
with words of ash.
I will fold
and refold
and mend
and remend
until there is nothing left
but a spark.

3. Fearless v. 10 - August 22, 2014 [edited April 27, 2015]

There is no shame in the truth.
I knew it in the morning, but
didn't feel it until the afternoon
sitting in that somehow desolate office
which smelled of black coffee.
There were droplets of rain
making my bespectacled vision
bleary and more sordid
than could possibly be appropriate.
I did the right thing for everyone,
because it’s what I always do.
There is no shame in the truth
and so I gave it away.
It’s still true
even if I don’t hold it.

4. Fearless v. 11 - August 30, 2014

Post-proclamation, I estimate that
it would be efficient to embrace
facing this. But before I even speak
I've started to lie, because it’s improper
to claim I am even minutely able
to face this. Already my body
clenches, anxiety blossoms
like a fanged flower, its petals
fierce and beautiful and scarlet
like flushed skin. I am petrified.
As the leaves of the white birch
turn upward and wait for rain
so my sight ascends to prepare
to face this, as if I could
possibly know what’s coming.

5. The Choice - September 5, 2014

She said yes, all those many years ago.
She said it, not in so many words,
but enough to know she’d chosen.
But in the middle. There, that spot,
blackened and bruised from
careless words, thoughtlessness.
That’s the one held up in the mirror,
that’s the question echoing back.
If she had somehow known then
what she’d be looking at now
would she have chosen differently?

6. Paper - December 9, 2014 [This is one of my favorite poems ever!!!]

There are no sequins.
There is no splendor.
No lace, no ribbons,
just our sense of wonder.
This was the year
it was supposed to be all right.
We wouldn't suffer or struggle,
or give up the good fight.
We would find sparkle
in shadows and dust,
doing what’s pleasing
and not what we must.
But nothing glimmers
or outshines the heartache
of old pain in a place
we thought couldn't break.
There is nothing gold
to give worth to our blunder
except for this space
where we find ourselves tender.
Here we will make glitter
in the darkness and night.
We’ll take a year made of paper
and burn it for light.

7. Settled - April 18, 2015

There is a truth, settled into,
founded by the precedents
our life has handed over.
We believe it like a memory,
like a debt to be repaid
or a curse we wait to feel
unless we're lucky–
then it’s a dream we hope to know.
Like fools we believe and hold
the promises or evidence
until the world shifts around us;
every wall ascends or crumbles,
the ground disturbed and broken,
And in the tumult we must decide
to alter our perception,
to force our feet into new paths,
to stumble along new halls,
to adapt to a new truth
or close our eyes
and just go on believing.

8. Best - April 27, 2015

The blackest heart loves best
because it can't forget a thing,
because it holds, because it holds,
because it holds on and never lets go.
And that isn't charcoal
or an unrepentant life
or a curse, or a curse,
or a curse that cannot be cured.
Those are the colors of memories,
of regretting what's been lost,
of loving too, of loving too,
of loving too damn much.
And if you paint a pure heart
with a color for every breath
you'll have a heart, you'll have a heart,
you'll have a heart that's black that loves best.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

NPM: Taking Hold, Etc. (Part 1)

"Loss" circa 2010.

This is going to be one of those long posts. So roll up your sleeves, or saddle your horses, or gird your loins, or whatever it is you do when you get ready for a thing.

It has been thirteen days since I last posted here, during this month when I long to post the most. (Look, a rhyme! No, that does not count as a poem.) This is one of those times I feel like an explanation is in order, especially since it relates to the whole pre-cancer adventure and some of you might want an update.

During the first twelve days of April I started my "therapy." This involved taking a pill at the same time every day (or every night, in my case.) The first three days I didn't realize it needed to be at the same time, didn't realize that I absolutely should not have waited any amount of time between those 24-hour doses, and upon realizing my mistake worried that I had messed up the whole process.

But I didn't mess it up. Five days later I woke up mid-morning and began to experience the beginning throes of (what I've decided to call) healing. I won't give you details, because you don't need them. However, it has been tumultuous. I have been anxious, relieved, awestruck and dumbfounded and to put it plainly... I've just been a mess. 

And so during a time I wanted to be writing, and sharing, and deeply connecting with people, I found myself rather isolated. I found myself feeling abandoned. This "healing" has been a profound joy that I cannot share with the world, and the experience has left my heart vulnerable. It's day 9 of this long process, and as I'm coming out of it I want to rejoin the world with all of my words. There's not much as far as an update, except that the drugs are working. Round 2 starts May 1st, so hopefully they'll continue working.

Also, yes... I will be sharing thirteen poems. Six here, and seven in the next post. I would be so honored if you read them and told me what you thought of them--or you can tell me how they made you feel, or what they reminded you of. Not everyone likes poetry, I understand that. But right now they are my way of connecting with you, with the world, with life... so don't be shy if you have thoughts you would like to share.

1. Take Hold - February 22, 2015

We clasp together our wounded hands
and wander out here like orphans.
We hide our pain in the shadows,
we are silent and ashamed.

But you take hold and heal us,
you take us in like a son and daughter.
You raise our faces to the sun,
and we are overjoyed to be redeemed.

2. Crash Test - January 5, 2015 [edited April 26, 2015]

I am magnetized
back into your orbit.
I am drawn to the darkness
you made a house inside,
where you forced me to live
without oxygen.
I breathed only you
and thought someday
if consumed
you would simply set me free.
But all this time
I've been my own
and still I am possessed.
Still a prisoner.
Always wondering,
was I an experiment?
Did you bend me
just to break me
when the pieces didn't fit?
You let me crash and burn
but blamed me for who I am,
and now would rage
against the world
for not accepting
your love or your plan.
You told me
it was my fault
like I made the prison.
But the truth is
the chain of sin
has always been
your decision.

3. Meshed - June 3, 2014

Long ago, when we adored other men,
when the world inside our souls
was meshed without our knowledge,
when the air hung so densely
we could swim in its summer breath,
awash on the shore like
stranded changelings from the ether,
we met. A friendship swapped
between white-washed bricks
and solidified under a cherry tree.
We foraged like mercenaries
without causes for combat,
hunted madly like wild sisters
abandoned by our brothers.
The sun shone so brightly
we could taste it. So we drank
of the cherry blossoms blooming
and the green grasses reaching
and the sweet, bright rays
of that summer we fell out of love.
Today we soaked in it once more,
looking back on the storm clouds
that covered our silver linings.
A blue butterfly grazed my hand,
drifted from me to you to the sky,
as if it might have known
that in just another heavy moment
we would come full circle and
float back into the heavens.

4. Nobody Else - June 12, 2014 [edited July 2014]

**Author's note: This was originally a non-rhyming poem, but through the process of mourning a lost friend it turned into a short song on the guitar. I am really bad at playing the guitar, but the lyrics/poem aren't awful. So there you go.

I returned to life once,
having been on the run,
like a vagabond
But I came back to you
with my broken shoes and my
broken song,
wearing colors
I could not forget.
And you loved me yet.
You said,
No one could wear those
colors like you.
No one colors the world
the way that you do, you do.
And I don't want
to say goodbye
or watch you ride the train
into the sky.
But even if you asked me to
I couldn't keep you here with me.
No, there is nothing I could do
to stop eternity.

5. Be Mine - December 28, 2014 [edited April 26, 2015]

On a holiday, overcome with rage
not at my own circumstances,
I held at arm’s length the obvious,
regarding those lost second chances.
And my chest filled up
like a thirstless cup
with all the stuff a heart can hold.
The world ran for cover
as it all brimmed over
and I felt suddenly cunning and bold.
And within the confines of my body
rushed the longing for only what’s right.
Senseless with energy and without reason,
something in me just wanted to fight.
So I will look for the battle
through blitheness and prattle,
I’ll break boundaries and cross lines.
Somewhere a war needs a warrior,
and I will make it mine.

6. Make Me - May 31, 2014

My heart is stillness, it is patient
with all things, bears all things, it is
merciful and not ambitious
it exudes tranquility and peace,
it offers grace to you
and to everything
but me.

I offer myself bargains
and deals I cannot keep.
I barter and trade my best,
hating the thing inside my chest,
awake inside the void
hearing that damning voice
that just won’t let me sleep.

But I want
what everyone wants.
I want what they have
despite their faults.
So make me pick me
first in line.
Make me allow me
a second try.
Make me graceful,
or merciful, not hateful.
Make me offer it up
like a reflex I can’t stop,
make me give
the right to live
without limitations
or sordid hesitations,
without seeing failure
to go with the plan here
in my responsibilities and
unsavory obligations
to the bitter thing which holds
my heart’s place.
Someone make me give myself

Monday, April 13, 2015

NPM: Six Whole Poems

I love weekends, but there is something peaceful about being alone in the classroom on Monday nights. The solitude and the open space is somehow calming. There was some sort of bustle last week, though I couldn't even tell you what I became busy with, except that it kept me from blogging (the horror). Yet in the previous six days, despite having missed writing/posting poems for each of them, my view counter increased by about 200. That phrase is probably meaningless to you, so I'll break it down: Over 10,100 people have viewed my blog. That's like 200 people just in the last week. 

And I wasn't even here.

No, I won't make it up to the world by writing a a gushing fountain of poems. But I will post six, because I owe six. That will have to be satisfactory. In any case, enjoy these. :)

1. Senbon - Written March 24, 2015

To blame myself
gives me more power than I deserve.
I bitterly hoped
for nothing but the worst but
never really asked for such fruition.
And when I said
those hurtful words to curse you
they were spoken from a desire
that I would merely be blessed too.
So I will not feel guilty
if you will not feel slighted
because I know the weight of loss
and no one
can carry it alone.

2. Under the moon. - Written January 18, 2015

Reaching for each other
under the moon or
in the sun
Hands chained to hearts
bring us both
to light

3. Femme - Written June 8, 2014

I send you out with diamonds for eyes,
I have made you a promise of gold.
You will nourish the hearts and minds of men
until all but your love has grown old.

4. The Worst - Written June 5, 2014

My favorite song asks me what I’m so afraid of. 
It asks me why I feel scared–because it knows
it’s just a feeling, and nothing more.
It asks me, what’s the worst that can happen?
And in those moments after I've prayed
like a wounded bird about to take flight
I ask myself those same three questions
to somehow gauge the distance
between the anxiety flooding my body
and the reality I must endure, regardless
of whatever the worst might be.

5. Sacred. - Written May 27, 2014, Revised April 13, 2015

I am not better than you.
I am stronger than I was,
I am wiser than I was,
older and better
than the person
I have been.
And so are you.
But if you unlearn the lessons
we learned separately,
and yet
in equal measures
of turmoil,
you will undo all
the damage I've repaired.
I promise,
and do not threaten,
to be better angrier,
to be better sadder,
to be better forsaken
than you were ever sacred.

6. Middleofthenightness - Written April 12, 2015

Like everyone else
I look back.
Some people see
a great loss
or mourn for
a great love
and wonder at
the great divide
which shelters us
from the people we were.
But I see a girl making
a great mistake
while she longs for
a great love
and fights against
the great divide,
but losing myself
is the only thing
I do not count as
a great regret.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

NPM: Pour Out (Day 7)

A small update among the pages of poetry. We didn't get the job we were hoping for. My heart is broken in some ways, and at peace in others. There is a reason for everything, you know?

Pour Out - Written January 9, 2015, Revised April 7, 2015

In that breath which held
more solitary twilight
than every exhalation of
these twenty and six years,
I stilled at the precipice
of the parched desert,
my body merely flesh,
my heart merely stone.
And I would have perished:
this is documented truth.
But sincere sorrow expressed
by the simplest of minds
begged for me to stay
in all my colorful forms.
A request only for me,
reaching mournfully
to the pitches of the sand,
uprooted my soul
from the unloving earth.
As the horizon set ablaze
with scarlet curses
I poured out a song
of oceans and rivers,
I emptied myself
of the darkness and blues
which had been carried
for that very purpose.
The knowledge of that weight
was somehow not suffocating
but freeing, for no longer
was my heart an anchor
but a melody rising
on the desert wind.

Monday, April 6, 2015

NPM: In Every Measure (Day 6)

National Poetry Month, Day 6.

In Every Measure - April 6, 2015

I will make plans for a season of rain and
build a house, build a house, build a house.
I will find structure useless and vain and
burn it down, burn it down, burn it down.
I will sustain misguided hopes and
dig a hole, dig a hole, dig a hole.
I will replace memories never known and
fill the hole, fill the hole, fill the hole.
I will discover someone else's treasure and
hold it tight, hold it tight, hold it tight.
I will find loss in every measure and
give it up, give it up, give it up.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

NPM: Buried (Day 5)

A poem for Easter.

Buried - Written March 16, 2015, revised April 5, 2015

we touch solid ground
and from our feet spreads gold

the snow is made of diamonds
because we are treasure
in the aftermath
we are precious
in the alabaster canyon

and this is the message
rising from our ashen insides
we will rise again like
the icy drifts and gilded pleasures
like windy whispers
of a time we already forgot

we wandered in the wilderness
ferocious like barbarians
wild like the foxes
surviving in the abandoned places

until our eyes fall out
and shine like priceless stones
until our hearts turn cold
and are worn like polished pendants

this is the message
rising from our ashen insides
as certainly as we were buried
we will rise again

Saturday, April 4, 2015

NPM: Treason (Day 4)

If you are familiar with the story of Easter (or the trifecta of Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Resurrection Sunday) then you will hopefully find some meaning in this poem.

Treason - April 3, 2015

The final cost of our redemption
speaks naught of our exemption
or requirements never met
even in the sacrifice of a lifetime,
but rather waits in the silence between.
Oh, that impossible distance!--
which grows in shadowed resistance
for this one wretched day
while we are the ashen mourners
unsaved, unloved, unseen.
And we shrink like withered seasons
whose blooms gravely fade beyond reason
for even the wind has grieved,
even the earth cannot be still,
even the sun is black with treason.

Friday, April 3, 2015

NPM: Grateful (Day 3)

This poem is several memories crammed into one. Enjoy. 

Grateful - July 1, 2014

This is the woman who has never feared storms,
who danced in the lightning in the desert.
She has let the gutter rain wash her hair,
and puddles of thunder soak her skirt.
This is the woman who drinks of squalls,
who holds black clouds in her arms.
And yet, when you save her, she is still grateful
that you saved such a wild fool from harm.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

NPM: Fearless v. 1 (Day 2)

I know, I'm cutting it close. 11:50! But I wanted to add some art, and you have to understand I spent the last 48 hours feeling nauseated and dizzy and... losing everything I ate. (Except that 8 ounces of applesauce yesterday.) So, the art was my therapy. Anyways, to the point.

On my other secret poetry blog I wrote, almost a year ago now, a handful of poems on being fearless. A thought struck me at some point about how we view fearlessness, how we express it or feign it. This poem is the first of many (I think I wrote upwards of a dozen) and it is the most tame. I tend to avoid rhyming poetry, but as this first 'fearless' poem just begins to touch on the subject you'll have to be patient. I won't be sharing all of the 'fearless' poems here, but I hope you/someone will appreciate them.

Fearless v. 1 - July 23, 2014

If you want to be fearless
you don’t have to tell anyone.
Just come out and take it
like it’s already been won.
Let your heart be a mountain
and your love be a fountain.
Then if you want to be fearless
you've already begun.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

National Poetry Month: An Introduction (Day 1!)

Each year I wait for April, and the closer it gets the more often I find myself abstaining from writing poetry. This is a difficult task. If you are not a poet or a writer it might sound a little ridiculous. A surgeon doesn't keep away from his doctor duties in preparation for surgery. A teacher doesn't stop writing lesson plans right before she is reviewed by her principal. Most people practice their skills before the big event, to make sure they've got everything down.

Poetry isn't like that--at least, not for me.

Poetry is a piece of me, a part of my body and soul that seemed to be attached to me long before I recognized it or realized it was important. The feelings come effortlessly; it is only the perfecting and revising of words that come with practice and patience. And so I hold in my feelings for a while, in order to let them burst forth later for thirty days straight. The hard part isn't writing when I'm supposedly "out of practice." The hard part is finding the perfect words for the imperfection of raw emotion.

In the spirit of honesty, I must tell you that I am not writing new poems for every day of April. However, they will be new poems to you. I have a secret poetry blog, which is hidden from the public for other secret reasons, but I've selected a handful of poems from this "other place" that I wrote over the last year. They will be edited and revised in order to be shared with you, in addition to some new ones (of course!)

So, without any further dawdling, here is a poem. (This one is new.)

Spectrum - April 1, 2015

Blank slates are black
made rough by white thoughts--
an absent mind
or absent-minded scribbles.
All the colors at once
overwhelmed and beheld,
or all at once
to see such colors.
The right frame of mind
or right-angled frame
makes hues into words
and names into shades.
But seeing holds the belief
in the distinct
without the instinct
to take away choice
and just paint the world gray.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Reward

I went to see my oncologist today.

Technically he's my "gynecologic oncologist."

Whatever he's called, I went to see him.

These are unexpected words. And I understand that, even with my constant descriptions on this blog, sometimes people feel out of the loop. There aren't enough words in the world to adequately explain to your friends that your life is changing, and you don't know everything, but you hope they'll support you. Okay, maybe there are enough words, it's just hard to find the right ones at the right time.

So I'll start at the beginning, for those of you who feel like you missed something. There will be fancy links so that you can go back and read those blogs, if you wish.

On February 21st I announced I was having surgery and asked for prayer. I went in for the surgery on February 26th and the next day began describing my experience, in three parts, which you can read here, here and here. A few days later I got the results of the surgery and they were not what I had hoped for. I began the process of life with "pre-cancer" which seems silly to say, but as my doctor would say, "It's nothing to sneeze at." I have a 5% chance of getting full-blown cancer, and am now working diligently to avoid that.

It's almost a month later. I finally had my post-op appointment last Friday, and I am healing up as expected. My doctor re-explained everything to me, which was irritating. I often feel like my doctors think that I'm stupid, or that I am uninformed. They behave as if "pre-cancer" means nothing to me, and clearly I don't do my own research.

I do my own research. I am a woman of words.


So I went to see my oncologist today. I had been dreading the appointment a little bit simply because I know that down the line he'll need to do more painful biopsies and, of course, he's a man. Last week I was discussing these anxieties with a friend, and she suggested that I think of something fun to do after the appointment, so I would have something to look forward to.

But when today finally came, I was so concerned with getting to the appointment on time and then getting to work on time afterwards that I forgot about the reward. I slept in longer than I should have because my bed was abnormally comfortable. As we sat in the car I suddenly realized, and then said aloud, "I really don't want to do this." Still, we made it to the appointment on time, and then I sat in the office waiting for twenty minutes after my nurse said, "We'll be right back."

My doctor looked like a taller, chubbier Ben Stein with giant Fezzik hands.

He also sounded like he had something stuck in his throat. His humorous appearance and voice perfectly counteracted his intimidating height, and I relaxed a little bit. 

Overall, it was a fairly pleasant appointment. My nurse was incredibly sweet and funny--she genuinely laughed at my jokes! They did an exam, so quickly I didn't even know it happened until it was over. We talked about future appointments, and potential procedures, and the options I had for my "therapy" medications.

It wasn't until we were back in the car, trying to find our way out of the parking garage, that I realized how stressed I'd been and how much I needed some sort of relief. I wanted a reward, and so I jokingly said to my husband, "Can you get me coffee today?"

He obliged with the largest soy mocha he could find, of course. 

But it reminded me that all of this is necessary. It's imperative. It might be awkward, and my doctors might treat me like I don't know anything, but it's an important part of the process. The hard work comes first, and the reward comes later. This is true right now, for this part of life, but it is also true for everything else... everything else I'll ever do is just the work I must finish before the great reward.

Yeah, I made that spiritual. Deal with it.

Next week, starting April 1st, I'll begin my therapy (in pill form, thank goodness.) It will supposedly make me extremely hungry, so I might be updating you all as my munchiness progresses. 

As always, I am grateful for the support of those who read this blog.

Thank you for being part of my story.