A Lovely Piece of Clay

Don’t misunderstand. I have so much for which to be thankful. A God who has not and will not forsake me. Loving friends. Devoted family. A fair and faithful employer. I’m slowly getting stronger every day. The pity party I allowed to last too long has dissipated.

There are still moments when the realization of all I have lost hits me hard. There are a lot of things in life I can give up. At my age, you get pretty good at it. I wish I would have learned to do it earlier. Not in a defeatist kind of way, but to understand that waiting for X to happen before I can do Y isn’t the way to live one’s life.

In 2009 when I was first diagnosed, I wasn’t sure what my future would hold. God was gracious. Since then, there were times I grabbed the brass ring and times when I missed the mark. Not only did I miss the mark, I didn’t even look for it. Still, one doesn’t live with a diagnosis such as mine and not be changed.

With Easter coming up, it’s been almost a year since the cancer finally caught up with me, doing all it could to take with it my independence. I was able to gain the upper-hand 6-years ago. This last year was much harder than the other six.

A few things I know for sure…

  • Although God did not cause this to happen, I am right where He wants me
  • I have not given up. There is still a lot of fight in this fifty-something year old woman
  • I would not be able to do this without my God who never has and never will forsake me
  • In my weakness, He becomes strong, holding on to my right hand each step of the way

I may never get used to the me I see looking back in the mirror or in “selfie” shots, but she’s not the one God is working on.  I trust him to turn this lump into a lovely piece of clay.

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Falling Off the Face of the Earth

I hate when it happens. Yes, hate is a strong word, but there are times when a strong word is needed and the word hate fills the bill. When I fall off the face of the earth, there is not a more appropriate word that I can come up with to describe how I feel. I simply, hate it.

It’s never been my intention to stop writing the way I have. It’s just something that happens. When it does, it’s so hard to get back to it. Some days I dont think about writing at all, other days, it’s the first and last thing I think of as I wake and drift off to sleep. Still, there are days when the desire to write stirs so deep within the fibers of my soul that I can’t explain why I’m unable to get started again.

What I know is it’s time. Time to listen to the small whisper inside my head that hasn’t given up. If anything, it grows more persistent, but despite its persistence, hasn’t enough drive to make things happen.  So here I am, once again, trying to jump start my blogs again and get serious about writing my book.

Let’s see if I don’t fall off the face of the earth again because I hate when that happens.

The Subject of Selfies

There are many out there who give selfies a bad rap. I totally get it. It can be perceived as vain to take a photo of oneself and then have the nerve to post said photo. But is it really any different than saying “cheese” for your mom, sister or best-friend as they snap a picture of you?

Like all generations, there are areas in our life that change over time. For my daughter’s generation, the ease and desire to be in front of the camera is vastly different than mine. I remember my sister, especially, hiding from the camera, as though her spirit would be held captive the moment her image was captured on film. While I wasn’t as camera-shy as my sister, I wasn’t exactly comfortable posing in front of a camera either.

Looking back, it was likely due to the fact that there weren’t very many second chances when it came to having your picture taken. Most consumers didn’t have the skill and knowledge needed to consistently get good results so most depended on a lucky shot every now and then. This explains the reason 85% or more of our pictures are blurry, under or over exposed or the framing was way off-kilter. Still we loved the pictures, good and bad, because they reminded us of special times and special people in our lives.

With digital and mobile cameras, we can snap as many frames as we desire until we are satisfied with the outcome. Not to be a picture snob, but it makes me wonder why some people post pictures in which the subject looks unintentionally goofy. This, I believe takes me back to the beginning of this post which creates a vicious circle of those who look down upon the selfie. It’s not so much the taking of the photo of oneself, it’s the likelihood that the person took a number of photos to come up with one that is picture perfect.

I know this because this is what I used to do. Being the little girl who once would desperately hide from any camera about to be pointed my way, why would I want to take a selfie? Because I’m the one who is usually behind the camera doing my best to capture the moment as perfect or real as possible, depending on the situation. Because of this, there are very few pictures of me and not knowing how much time I have, I wanted documentation that I was here, that I was young(er) once and didn’t always look like I look today.

I often joke about the way I look now. My spine is curved in an unnatural line, the bone compression taking its toll on my body. My face is fat and full as a result of taking steroids for over nine-months. My thick curly hair is thin and short after more than a year on chemo. It’s not an attractive sight.  It makes me thankful that over the past six years I took a fair number of selfies.

It shocks me at times to look at the mirror and see the reflection staring back at me. I admit there are times when I go back to my archives and look at the woman, that for better or worse, is no longer me. Family and friends may protest if I were to say this to them, but there isn’t anything wrong with not being the same person. After all I’ve been through it would be odd not to see physical and emotional changes. It the same with all of us. Life is too turbulent not to expect change.

During the span of the last five year, I gradually stepped out from behind my selfies. At first, the majority of my selfies only displayed a partial portion of the self was shot. Hiding behind the camera looking into a mirror or glass was a good (safe) shot to take.

Or taking pictures of one’s feet for the “From Where I stand” series was another safe bet.

Or shadowed/purposefully blurred shots were a good go-to option.

I was gradually coming out of my shadow, but still using masking tricks such as sunflare or special exposure effects for which to hide behind.

Over this past year as my body and face have become grotesquely distorted, I have continued to take selfies, albeit not as often, most of which have promptly been deleted.

Hiding behind things is no longer quite as effective as they were in the past.

Shadows still work 🙂

I pray for the day that I can give up the steroids and perhaps see the face I once knew.

In the Beginning

In the second half of this year, after much prayer, input and advise from my family and friends, I decided that I would open an Etsy shop to bring in some money while I do some writing.

I started off with a bang, as focused as I’ve ever been. Each morning, I awoke, exctied as a three-year old to start my day. I was filled with ideas and plans and if something got in my way, well, there was always tomorrow.

Despite my best of intentions, October slipped into November and the shop wasn’t ready as planned. I decided to be gentle on myself. Looking back, it was not a good idea especially when it’s November 30 and my shop still isn’t open. On top of that, I’ve lost my focus, suddenly unsure what comes next. I’m struggling to get back on track.

Peanut M & M’s or medicine?

Admitting I’ve lost my way is hard. There is a great fear in me that this will be another grand failure. I am, afterall, an expert at them. But I’m determined that this time it will be different. I have not thrown in the towel, waved the white towel, came down upon my knees.

Despite everything that tells me otherwise, I have great hope that I will open my shop and when I do, it will be a huge success.

This is the purpose of this post. I don’t deny that I need a kick in the pants. Kick me now…kick me hard…but do it in a loving, purposeful way.  A little chocolate in the process may help too!

Day Three

It’s day three of my admission…my shop will be late. Tomorrow there are just 10 more days left in November and while I’ve given myself an allowance, I will feel like a failure if this thing doesn’t leave the ground by the beginning of next week.

It doesn’t help that the last two days have been filled with good intentions. Good intentions do not necessarily net good results. More specifically, there havent been any good results…yet. Yesterday,  were unexpected visits from a favorite aunt and one of my caregivers, not to mention the playtime I had with my grandchildren the past two mornings.

Today it was an unplanned trip to a coffee house I used to love to frequent. It may not have resulted in good results, but the trip, the compaany, the mocha and the dulca de leche cupcake did wonders for my spirits.

Quatro Mochas

Time to Get This Done

A college professor of mine had a quote he would love to say to us on a regular basis…”time is money.”  He would then look at his watch, yes, we wore them like clockwork back then, and pointedly add these two words, “tick tock.” Funny how there are things and/or people you never forget. Mr. Fujisake was one of those professors. If he had been short with a button nose, he could have easily filled in as the rabbit in Alice in Wonderland. He was always on the move, muttering things to himself, checking the time as though he was late, late, late for that important date or more likely a bag of money.

Whenever I’m running behind on an important project, I think of Mr. Fujisake. I can picture him thirty years later looking at his watch uttering those dreaded words, “tick tock.” Since I’m two, going on three weeks of the opening of my shop, his words are haunting me now.

There are excuses I can give as to why the opening is late. Some excuses may seem valid, others may seem lame. Regardless, there is no making up for lost time and last week I was beginning to feel despair when it suddenly hit me. The shop opening will be late. A huge sigh of relief could be heard from miles away.

There are times when I get to the point where I come face to face with myself and realize, there is nothing I can do, this is just not going to happen. When it happens, it’s often one of the best things I can do…be honest with myself. As much as I hate missing the mark, it happens from time to time.

It’s hard to swallow because, time is money, the truth sets me free. Free to move on, free to cut myself some slack, free to set a new date, one that I’ll actually make because I’m suddenly no longer paralyzed by my failures.

This is my admission. My shop opening will be late. It will not be the end of the world. It will open. It will not be a failure because of the delay. It will be a success because I’ll be prepared, my product line will be desirable, my shop will draw customers, my photos will clearly depict an item that customers will be interested in and will want, the price will be fairly set and the additional social media sites will further support my business.

If you’re interested, and if you have any loved ones you want to spoil at Christmas time, you should be, stay tuned for the opening announcement. You don’t want to miss it.

Grab a Cup of Coffee and Shop a While