About Me...

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In a nut shell : I'm a wife, a full time working mom, a teacher, a Star Wars geek, comic book nerd, Disney enthusiast, hockey Mom, a decade long breast cancer survivor, and oh let's not forget such a happy, sassy, southern mess!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Crossroads of Life

“(C) by www.martin-liebermann.de”

You may buy prints or posters from zeitspuren.deviantart.com Kind regards Martin Liebermann license@martin-liebermann.de http://www.martin-liebermann.de

How many times have you thought to yourself as someone asked how you were doing, “It’s a crazy life, if you only knew?” Life under most circumstances is trying at best. As journey men or woman on this road moving forward, sometimes backwards and many times than I like to admit turning sideways we have to learn to adapt quickly. Our character really begins to define us during those sideway turns in life don’t they?

Perseverance is not necessarily an easy thing to hold on to, dodging life’s curve balls from every direction as challenge come at us from each side yet the truth is challenges are part of life, working through the downright discouraging, tough, and endless situations life brings our way.

What can we gain from these detours in life? Well, we can learn to care, to show kindness, love and charity not just from our wallets but from our hearts. I know this path I have walked from the time I was a child has not been an easy one. In fact at times it has been downright horrible, but it has never been meaningless. I have never, even when I have been certainly convinced of the fact, been alone! God has been with me every step of this journey through life, through the childhood illnesses, through the deep dark hours of my worst nightmares and yes even through the Big C.

I have been moving along, many times down those awkward detours life has brought my way, yet even with the sideways, and the byways, He has kept me moving straight ahead. I may not be perfect; I know I am not capable of sitting on anyone’s pedestal, mostly because I am very good at falling off of it. I am simply an imperfect woman, in an imperfect world, trying her best to live her life In spite of the challenges life throws her way.

Ultimately, I am a dreamer, filled with hope and inspiration, longing to rise above the fear of life’s whispering defeats. I can be very impulsive and, spontaneous in my life, the way I live it out loud, and some would seek to mussel my voice, but hope cannot be hushed. Yes she can be surly tied down, locked away and kept from the daylight but she cannot be extinguished. I am very aware the cost of hope can be almost too much; I myself have had to pay the beast her asking price by giving the Big C my breast in order to keep Hope alive in my life. But you know what? Honestly, the beast’s cost was not too high a price to pay in order to keep Hope burning in not just my life but also in the lives of those I love.

Life is about choices, some of us chose to love, to show compassion, to rise above our own imperfect lives, to rise to the challenge of this crazy life we live. Some choose to ambush, to blame those who cannot fit into a perfect mold, a vision of life which is honestly imperfect in its conception of perfection. But the bottom line is this friend: your life is about where you are headed, you alone, the detour God has chosen to guide and direct you towards. Sometimes the journey there can be disheartening, or we can take an alternate path on our way there, one which was not on our road map or on someone else map they charted for us, but you know what? It’s ok. You will get there, you will make your final stopping point when God was decided it is so, not when cancer or anyone else says it is so!

Take heart my friends, you are precious, and your journey is still before you. Our paths will cross, we will embrace for a short while and then we will each return to the crossroads of our own lives again. I tell you this today, I will not leave this world without hope, I will cherish each moment, each trail and each joy I have been given the opportunity to experience. Even if another curve ball is thrown my way, hope will indeed hit it out of the park and place me back on those wonderful crossroads of life just waiting for my feet to step back out onto again!

~ Christina

Friday, February 11, 2011

Who Made Cancer King of Anything?

Ever have one of those days when you just want to burst into song? You know the kind of day I am talking about it may start with a few bars in the shower and end with a full on jam session in the car. Before you know it you are beating the steering wheel till the person in the car next to you hits the gas pedal and peels away as fast as they can!

I had one of those days this afternoon. Johnny and I had been teasing each with playful banter waiting to pick the kids up from school. I was sitting in the truck, when one of my favorite songs came on the radio, ‘Who Died and Made You King of Anything’. I was just singing along, like no one could hear me when I noticed Johnny giving me one of ' his she doesn’t see me' side glances, with a big grin on his face. You know the one, the kind you just want to burst into laughter over? Maybe reach over and plant a big kiss on the one you love lips!

These kinds of days, the ones where you carry a song in your heart, are some of the best you will ever experience. They are simple little blessings steering you toward Hope and Grace. These days call to you, they sing to you and they inspire you to put that extra skip in your step. Sometimes it’s not about what song is in your heart no sometimes it’s about letting your song out!

Maybe it's a sad song, but you know what, it is still a song. Maybe you feel unloved, abandoned and alone, maybe you feel as if someone has stolen your joy away from you. I know I felt this way when breast cancer has rode into Dodge to take my joy away. She sure wanted to steal my crown of hope from me and replace it with a crown of sorrow. But you know what I kept a song close to my heart and she will cowered in fear. Think about it like this: remember those people in the car beside you earlier, the ones who thought you lost your mind and hit the gas pedal? Well despair responds the same way to joy, she will ultimately high tale it out of there with her cold, black heart. Keeping a sing in your heart, keeps joy alive, keeps the beast’s companions, despair and sorrow, at bay.

Let me fill you in on a little secret friends, I realize I don’t always know where I am going, but I am in no way lost! The real honest to goodness truth is you don’t need to make everyone happy, just like the song says, you can disagree. You don’t have to jump on board because someone says you do, and you can most definitely hold your own. Besides who made cancer the king of anything? I sure didn’t!

This is the problem we find ourselves in, bogged down, wanting to please everyone, and not pleasing anyone. We simple end up at the bottom of the well, looking up at the beast, with our crown on her head wondering how we ended up where we are. This is why I choose to keep a song in my heart, no matter where I go or who I am with. When times get tough, when some cast a shadow of doubt over my intentions, when they begin canvassing my hope or come to steal my joy, I simply reach for a song. And you know what; my singing usually drowns out all the rest.


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Bucket List

Have you ever stopped to notice we tend to dance around death with catch phrases and buzz words? You know what I am talking about, our “Bucket List” or the way we throw around the words, “Kicked the bucket”.

For most of us death is something we fear, an unknown fate just waiting to catch up with us eventually. We worry about the how and when and we even try and outwit death as if she can’t kick our bucket when she darn well pleases!

I guess I am late to the game of lists. I have never seriously sat down and made a Bucket List. I should have been one of the first to submit mine I guess, but I just never seemed to have time. I know sounds crazy right? Of all people I should have a death list, I mean Bucket List! But you know what I have been preoccupied with living my life, making memories in the everyday moments I have not stopped to think about what I haven’t been able to accomplish yet! For one, I am just too busy to die, at least right now anyway. I have too much cleaning and cooking to do, homework to oversee, weeds to pull and children to raise to add anything more on my to do list.

You see, Death and I have come to an agreement of sorts I suppose. No, she has not stopped to put down her sickle just yet, but she has been wearing a pink robe just for me lately. Death still advances every once in awhile, preying on my fears, eating away at my hope, but most days we coincide together: I know her day will come but she knows today is not her day!

If I had to pen a Top 10 List, a Bucket List of sorts I think it would go something like this:

1. Survive today

2. Kiss my children good night

3. Say I love you one more time

4. Laugh till I cry

5. Share a meal with my family

6. Smile a minute longer

7. Inspire others to believe

8. Cultivate Hope

9. Bless someone else

10. Embrace today.

I suppose one day I will stop and make a real Bucket List, filled with places I would love to see one day. I am sure Disneyland Paris, the Grand Canyon and Ireland will fill in a few of those spots as well as being published and going to an Areosmith concert might too. But the truth, the real honest to God truth are these things have no real value in how I kick the bucket, how I leave my earthly body behind or even how I enter eternity on the other side of the River of Life.

In my life, in my day to day living and breathing, as I go through my day cooking and cleaning, loving and hugging my children, my husband and my parents I am truly living my Bucket List! Life is not about the places we go, the things we see or the titles we acquire, no life is about how I live our lives with compassion, understanding, and self sacrifice. How we leave those we love behind, how much we love them and how we greet death should each be a part of our List.

So my friend be encouraged, be of good cheer and put that pen down! Don’t worry about the length of your life,,, don’t measure your accomplishments by some numbered list tucked away in a secret drawer somewhere. Live today, love today and embrace today. I for one plan to keep dancing the tango with Death until her day actually does come. My real Bucket List includes the following: Watching my children graduate from high school; being the mother of the grooms; becoming a grandmother and even celebrating my Golden anniversary still holding Johnny’s hand.

And you know where I am going to do all this from? Right here from the perch I am sitting on now… And by the way, my bucket is definitely PINK!

~ Christina

Friday, February 4, 2011

Pulling Out the Pink Sash

Have I told you I am writing a book? I have been putting pen to paper for quite some time now. Every time I think I am done, ready to put my pen down, put the paper away, something else comes to mind.  In fact something else just did! Oh I have been “done” for some 6 months now but just in the last 3 days I have added 20 more pages!

What I am learning as I share my own, personal cancer story is this: chemo brain does not do a body good! Yes you heard me; I am telling you right now, my brain has slowed down. This is actually one of the reasons why I have not posted as vigorously as I did before. For every entry I add, it is days and days of pulling words out of my brain. Think about pulling a what do you call it, from out of what would you say it is? This is about as maddening as it gets for me on a daily basis but it gets done because I am a stubborn, very determined, breast cancer fighting machine. I still pull out and tie my pink sash on BUT this all happens very slowly sometimes. I would not be completely honest with you if I did not say I didn’t have to struggle with finding my words from time to time.

It’s not so much that I don’t know the words I want to use; it’s more about placing them where they need to go, where I can easily reach them, pulling them out of my brain. I can see each word visually in my mind, I can even feel them on my tongue, it’s not just my brain who does not want to let them go, to let them exit, it's the whole process which shuts down from time to time on me. In other words my brain has the key but refuses to unlock the door, all my thoughts, my words and indeed my heart are kept as prisoner some days and it kills me! I so want to share my thoughts, to express how I feel and why, but there is this nasty little monster called Chemo Brain, which fights to hold me back! This bugger can even keep me from engaging in a conversation, especially if I am unable to take it slowly. But I am not alone, and I am determined not to let cancer take my voice from me! This is my story, not hers. Cancer does not get a say in how I share her brutality with the world!

Going back this last week , re-reading and of course adding more layers to my story has shown me many wonderful, and yes a few painful moments in my story I had forgotten about. I have seen parts of my life with a whole new set of eyes as I have relived each and every one placing them on paper. I saw moments when anger flashed into my life, hurt, pain, disbelief and agony, times I had no control over what was happening to my body or why events were set into motion. But I also saw many more moments of joy, laughter and hope bouncing around like a bouncy ball up and down.

Life is unpredictable, and most of the time so are the people who come in and out of our lives. Sometimes they come in strong, ready to help you with the back and forth tug of war going on in your life. Others may just sit back and watch, waiting to see who the winner will be while others simply leave you holding the slack. But this is life! This is how the world turns and this is how we learn to be strong, to hold onto hope and to keep faith tucked away in our hearts.

Personally I have found I am stronger than I ever thought I could be, at the same time I know I am just human and because of this fact I cannot be strong, every minute of every day. It’s just not possible, I am not perfect and I wouldn’t want to be. How tragic it would be to miss out on all life has to offer me because I could not accept my weakness. I laugh, I cry and I feel pain even if sometimes this thorn is not present for everyone to see.

When I have been able I have put my own needs aside, scrambled to take on the burdens of those I love, but the truth is this: I am simply a human being, who through extraordinary circumstances has been given the gift of hope. But this hope can only stretch so far; there are times when I have to retreat, to re-group, to re fill my canteen with precious hope infused water so I can get back out there to be the rock I know I need to be. The thing about living with cancer is it’s not so much about how much you can endure but how far you can make your endurance last.

Living with cancer is not just a simple, clearly marked stamp on a piece of paper, no, living with cancer is a whole, big file of stamped papers, all needing your attention at the same time. This is why I have to retreat sometimes, why I need to rest, to drink from the well of hope again before I can come charging back to the battlefield.

There is an old song, I loved a child. In this song the singer sang of winning battles, being wounded in the fight, needing to rest and be held in the arms of God, well this song still rings true today in my life. I am a warrior but I am just one person. BUT this is the thing: together, we are strong, together we have each other’s back and together we share our hope with one another, inspiring each other to get back up on our feet even if we have to carry one another.

Living with cancer even years after recovery, can be very difficult especially if you are living with such after effects as chemo brain or joint and nerve damage. Just because the doctors have sounded the all clear does not mean your body is ready to jump back into the deep end of life. The truth is this simple: your body has physical aged years beyond what your actual two digits say on your birth certificate. Take it from me; this is an accurate synopsis of the Big C! Some of you may ask what the big deal is all about, it’s just cancer, and they have treatments for cancer now right? Yes, but cancer cannot be cured, and for those of us living in the shadow of the Big C we know this better than anyone else. Life is incredibly bumpy, with or without a cancer diagnosis, chemo brain or not life is difficult. See this is this is where we must all work together to help insure we reach the finish line hand and hand, not miles apart. How do we accomplish this by having compassion and understanding for one another, this is truly the key to our success on this journey we call life!

Why these particular two elements? Well, just because many of us our strong and have always been able to throw things off, take on our own burdens and those of everyone else does not mean we can continue to be once cancer has pounded on our door! Sometimes it is just simply about putting yourself in someone’s shoes, reaching out with a helping hand, and actually trying on someone else’s boots for a day. If we all just took the time to realize, even if we are pulling out the pink sash, life is not as simple as black and white but instead filled with tons of gray more of our lights would shine. These gray areas are part of the uncharted waters we all fear but we must help navigate with through love, compassion, understanding and a gentle strength if we are to ever finish this story we are writing on the pages of life.