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February 2014

Up, Down, Jump Around

A special Valentine . . .

  

for MY special Valentine . . .

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What I like about you . . .  

You really know how to dance!

Up, down, jump around!

Think about true romance!

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Never wanna let you go!

Know you make me feel alright, yeah!

That's what I like about YOU!

That's what I like about YOU!

That's what I like about YOU!

Happy Valentine's Day.


Love, Actually

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Life will break you.  Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won't either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning.  You have to love.  You have to feel.  It is the reason you are here on earth.  You are here to risk your heart.  You are here to be swallowed up.  And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let youself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness.  Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could.

--- Louise Erdrich, The Painted Drum


Wearing . . . Possibility

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When I did One Little Word last year, I found it made a big difference to my thinking about it when I could see my word around me.  By making my word - SURPRISE - visible, I thought about it more, and that led to a heightened awareness about the surprises happening around me.

This year, I'm looking for ways to make my new word - POSSIBILITY - visible in my life.  

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I found this perfect silver ring.*  The front side (not showing in this photo) is a subtle pattern of vines that leads into the phrase "dwell in possibility" stamped along the side and back of the ring.  It is simple, beautiful, and a wonderful, visible reminder to me of my word.

DWELL IN POSSIBILITY.

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* I found the ring at this great little shop on Etsy.  The jewelry artist, Hanni, lives right here in Michigan, too!

 


Go, Red!

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If I had a favorite color (and I really don't), it might be RED!  

This week, Carole asks us about our favorite things that are RED.  Here are ten things on the top of my list:

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1 - Little hearts!  Just love 'em.  Especially when they're red!

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2 - Roses!  Although I like roses of all colors, red roses are my favorite.

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3 - Cars!  I adore Tom's little red Mini Cooper. 

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4 - Accessories!  These red earrings are one of my favorite pieces of jewelry.

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5 - Shoes!  Kind of like Dorothy's, only more comfortable.

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6 - Front doors!  I've always been partial to red doors -- and my own is no exception.

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7 - Socks!  I think red socks just keep your feet warmer, plus they make me happy when I look down.

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8 - Handbags!  There's nothing quite so fun as a beautiful red handbag.

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9 - Manicures!  I love red fingernails (although mine are plain at the moment).

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10 - Red wine!  But, of course.

How about YOU?  What are your favorite things that are red?

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Join the fun!  Sign up for Ten on Tuesday here.


Complication

I'm sure you've heard these words in relation to the U.S. Postal Service:

Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.

Well.

I'm here to tell you . . . Lies!

See.  Here's MY mailbox.

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Covered with snow.

Completely covered.*

Actually, it's kind of buried in the snow.

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Just like all the rest of the mailboxes on my street.

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Turns out . . . if the mail man/woman can't access your mailbox, they don't deliver your mail.

Sometimes for days at a time.

Which puts a bit of a damper on the Month of Letters!**

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*  During a Winter Like This One, you really have to stay on top of your mailbox situation.  Tom was out of town last week, and the snow (and snow plow "leavings") really piled up.  It was too icy and heavy (those plow chunks. . .) for me to handle, so we didn't get mail for a couple of days.  Tom dug us out on Saturday.  (Photos above are post-dig-out.)

**  At least we live on a not-frequently-plowed street.  Mailboxes on main streets . . . don't fare so well!  See?  No mailbox.  Certainly no mail delivery!  (Happens all the time on main streets.)

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Love, Actually

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“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”

-- C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves


Nothing Left to Burn, Nothing Left to Prove

Soundtrack . . .

 

You know how it goes sometimes with the knitting?

You see something that just . . . screams out at you.  KNIT ME!  I'll be fabulous!

And you begin.

And things don't go so well.

Like . . .

twisted rib . . .

with two cable needles at a time. . . 

and asymmetry . . .

and MY GOD! there are a lot of stitches on the needle.

But, still.  You press on?

Right.

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And I found myself alone.

Surrounded by strangers I thought were my friends.

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I found myself further and further from my home,

And I guess I lost my way.

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There were oh so many roads.

I was living to run and running to live.

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Searchin' for shelter again and again.

Against the wind.

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Wish I didn't know now what I didn't know then.

Against the wind.

(RIP)

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Ravelry details (for what they're worth) are here.


I Am . . .

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Five years . . .

Five years ago today, I woke up early and headed off for my final chemo treatment.

I've celebrated February 4 every year since . . . as the day I truly began to think of myself as a "cancer survivor."  (My oncologist marks the day-of-diagnosis as the anniversary date of "survivorship."  I note that day, too, but I tend to consider my finished-with-treatment day as the more significant anniversary.)

I've been doing a lot (a LOT. . .) of thinking over the days leading up to today . . . about how to mark this day, how to honor it, and how to celebrate.  It's a bit overwhelming, actually, to think about . . .

Five years.

And then Carole sent out this week's Ten on Tuesday topic.  And I knew just what to do!  Celebrate with me, on this incredibly special day, as I reflect on what . . .

I AM!

1.  I am a SURVIVOR.  I actually despise that term.  But I'll accept it and use it, because it means something to other people.  And because I can't think of a better term (and I have tried).  What it means, to me, is that I went through something pretty awful, and I became stronger  - and different - because of it.  I try to take that strength and apply it to the world around me.

2.  I am GROUNDED.  I have figured out what is important to me - and what is not.  I tend to be less bothered now by things I can't control.  That's not to say that I don't get my panties in a bunch over stupid things.  Because, trust me, I do.  But I tend to be able to get my perspective back pretty quickly, and I tend to roll with situations a little better than I used to.

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3.  I am TUNED IN to my body and my health.  I was active before my cancer diagnosis, true.  But chemo knocked me on my butt in a pretty intense way.  By my final chemo treatment, I found it a challenge to walk around the block.  I got winded going upstairs in my house.  I was hyper-concerned about my white-cell count.  Now, I celebrate my fitness every day.  Running, spinning, jumping, dancing.  I love moving.  Moving . . . is living.

4.  I am HUMBLE.  Once you lose your hair, well. . . you find out what a minor part of yourself that REALLY is!  Yes, I used to spend a fortune on my hair.  Covering the grey.  Highlights.  Lowlights.  Standing appointments.  Thousands of dollars.  What a waste of time and money!  Now . . . grey hair.  Au natural.  Easy and cheap.  I am comfortable leaving the house without makeup.  I wear hats in the winter -- even if they mess up my hair.  It doesn't mean I don't like dressing up and making up -- it just means I've learned that I am fine As Is!

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"Graduating" from Chemo

5.  I am GRATEFUL.  I couldn't have made it through chemo without the angels in my life.  (And, believe me, the slog of chemo really reveals the angels!)  Five years out, I need to acknowledge those folks who slogged through it all with me every day:  the friends who didn't get "creeped out" (because many do. . .) and helped keep it "normal" (Cheri and Sue, especially); the friends who were in the same boat and became my "cancer posse" (Florence and Joel and Lissa and Ted); Dr. Liepman, my oncologist, with her no-nonsense approach to the whole experience; my kids (all THREE of them that year -- Erin and Brian and Dominik) who didn't freak out and just let me keep being be a mom; my sister (where do I even BEGIN with that one!) who sent me flowers after every.single.chemo treatment (and that was only the beginning); my mom and dad who cared for me, Tom, my kids, my dog, whatever I needed and whenever I needed it (and especially that One Day); and Tom.  Oh, Tom.  Beside me at every appointment.  Every treatment.  With his little laptop, researching treatments and drugs and taking notes and oh . . . I just can't begin to express my gratitude.  But I think you begin to get my drift.

6.  I am OPEN.  My cancer experience made me hyper-aware that time is limited.  For all of us.  Every day.  Don't wait.  If you want to do something . . . or go someplace . . . or say something . . . DO IT.  Go for it.  Just make it happen.

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7.  I am AWARE.  I am far less private than I was before my cancer diagnosis.  I used to hold back.  I didn't reach out.  I didn't say what I wanted to say.  But that's not true anymore.  Now I know that connections matter.  And I try to make them whenever I can.

8.  I am REFLECTIVE.  You could say that I've always been one to follow an inward journey, but I am even MORE that way now.  I think about who I am and how I want to interact with the world.  I want to figure out how to make the most out of my life.  I am sort of obsessed with self-reflection.

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9.  I am IMPATIENT.  I know that life is fleeting; that "normal" isn't forever; that the clock is ticking for all of us.  I have little tolerance for bullshit, subterfuge, waste, and manipulation.  Life is just too short.

10.  I am STEPPING AWAY FROM THE EDGE.  Every day.  Finishing cancer treatment is both exhilirating -- and terrifying.  That terrifying part is tough for family and friends to understand.  Chemo, terrible as it was, was my lifeline.  It made me better (by making me worse); it, ultimately, gave me my life back.  So. . . what happens when it's . . . done????  Will the cancer come back?  Will "normal" ever return?  Family and friends want the treatment to be the End of It.  Time to celebrate.  Time to get back to normal.  And . . . it is.  It surely is.  But.  It's also never going to be same again.  Because . . . now you know about The Edge.  You've come right up against it.  You've danced on it.  Maybe you've even teetered right there.  About to go over.  But you step away.  A little farther every day.  Until, after 5 years, you feel pretty safe.  (But it's there.  And you know it.)

So.  That's how I AM today.  Happy to be here.  Happy to be five years out.  And happy to share this post with all of you.

 


The Art of Letter Writing

February brings the Month of Letters -- a challenge to write (and post . . . by regular mail) one letter or note or card each day in February.*  

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This challenge is fun for me . . . because I love Real Mail.  I love going out to my mailbox and finding a letter or a card inside.  (This doesn't happen very often anymore, so it's especially wonderful.)

Thinking about letters . . .makes me think back.  To those days before the "personal computer."  Before email.  And Facebook.  And texting.  And all the myriad, instant ways we can communicate now.  Back to the days of the humble . . . letter.

My childhood and adolescent years were filled with letter writing.  Back then (which wasn't really all that long ago!), writing letters is what we DID when we wanted to stay in touch with people who didn't live nearby.

I remember the first time I went to camp - when I was 11 - my Mom packed stationery and stamps right alongside my carefully-labeled clothing.  We campers had a quiet break every day after lunch so we could write letters for home.  There was a special camp post office - and mail call every day.  I was at camp for 2 weeks -- and I remember writing letters home most every day.  (My Mom made sure I always had something at mail call, too!)  

My letter writing became especially prolific when my family moved across the country to Wyoming when I was 12.  I kept in close contact with my school and neighborhood friends and my cousins for many years. Even during my college years, I took time to write frequent letters home to my parents and friends.  (I've already written here about how Tom and I kept in touch by mail for an entire year while we finished up at our separate colleges.)

I love looking back at the letters I've saved.  Handwriting.  Doodles.  Cards.  Funny enclosures.  There's such a HISTORY there in those letters!  A history and a passion and a sense of connectedness that just doesn't revewal itself in the pithy Facebook status update or in a quick text.

Now, I love using internet-based communication; I'm totally hooked on the instant satisfaction of a text conversation, the efficiency of email, the personal billboard that is Facebook.  It all works for me!  But.  I still appreciate and enjoy handwritten, delivered-through-the mailbox notes and letters.  I would hate to lose the sense of history that comes from the written word.

Here's a quote from a book by Simon Garfield called To the Letter: A Celebration of the Lost Art of Letter Writing:

"Letters have the power to grant us a larger life.  They reveal motivation and deepen understanding.  They are evidential.  They change lives, and they rewire history.  The world once used to run upon their transmission -- the lubricant of human interaction and the freefall of ideas, the silent conduit of the worthy and the incidental, the time we were coming for dinner, the account of our marvelous day, the weightiest joys and sorrows of love.  It must have seemed impossible that their worth would ever be taken for granted or swept awide.  A world without letters would surely be a world without oxygen."

If you enjoy writing and receiving notes and letters -- the old-fashioned kind written in real ink on real paper and sent through the mail with real stamps -- consider joining along for the Month of Letters.  Let's preserve the art of letter writing!

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* The irony that the Month of Letters challenge is communicated and tracked via internet delights me!