Monthly Archives: September 2013

It’s okay to sweat the small stuff

Change. My life has changed immensely in less than a year, since the first doctor acknowledged there was an issue with my liver or kidney—but not my adrenal gland. So much has happened since then: surgery, being diagnosed with adrenal cancer, retiring. Dealing with the idea that I have an ultra-rare cancer that I could find out at any three-month interval has metastasized, making the focus of my life fighting the disease instead of living it to the fullest. That is change.

You can’t prepare for it nor would you want to be prepared for it. Who would want to live a dismal life like that? I have a positive attitude yet I am a realist. If those cancer cells are in my body, no matter how positive I am, they will find their way into my lungs, my liver (please not my left kidney since I only have one left). That I can’t even fathom. Are we talking about someone else? Am I the one with adrenal cancer, the one who the odds are stacked against? That is change.

Ask my husband and he will say the biggest change is I am a nicer person. 

The other day my grandson said when he pulled a handful of coins from his pocket, “look, I have change.” I truly enjoy being there for those moments. That is change.

Maybe I was never fully there for those moments, always preparing for the next moment. When people say “don’t sweat the small stuff,” I get it but on the other hand I see it differently. (I prefer “life is good.”) The small stuff is what your life is made of, so why shouldn’t you sweat it? Don’t take it for granted. Watching the kids pick apples, fixing the flat tire, making the casserole for the neighbor whose father died. It’s not the birth of your child-it’s when she takes her first step or says “I love you, mommy.” It’s not the job promotion—it’s when your boss says “thanks for the great job.”
That’s what we shouldn’t lose sight of.

Our lives are like snowballs, made up of unique snowflakes, small events, that when rolled together become something much larger than the individual snowflakes that comprise them.

That’s why it’s okay to sweat the small stuff. For a lot of us, if our lives were only comprised of the big events, there wouldn’t be much to them, would there?

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Enjoying the ride

Taking a breakAt the end of Steve’s workday last week, we were out the door and on the motorcycle within five minutes. It was 87, blue skies all around us, hot, and humid. Storms were expected but by the looks of the sky they wouldn’t be here for some time. We rode up through Easton, stopped in Franconia and split a grinder then noticed the sky looked ominous toward the west. We headed for home via Sugar Hill then back the way we came on Route 112. It was obvious it was going to be close if we would make it home before the storm hit.

I was tense sitting on the back of the Harley, wondering if I would get hit by lightning or a falling tree. Suddenly I relaxed, realizing that if it was meant for me to go tonight—by go I mean die, of course—then so be it. Even when I saw the lightning and the rain drops on my helmet visor, I wasn’t overly concerned. I did spend some time thinking about possible places to shelter but left it up to Steve to decide what to do. Go for it was his decision, taking us on the dirt road by what my family calls “Pig Cemetery.” (A lifetime ago there were three pink baby pigs running around the cemetery!)

I actually stopped trying to control things twice that night. First I let Steve decide on the best approach for getting us home during the storm—hard to communicate anyway when you are wearing helmets!

The second time was when I just sat back and said “whatever.” If my time is up then no amount of worrying is going to change it. The girls will figure out the finances. Someone will take the cats. (But who will finish my novels??)

I wouldn’t have felt this way before my cancer diagnosis. Sure, now that I’ve had to endure the surgery and treatment, I certainly hope to live a lot longer. I want to see my grandchildren grow up to have children. But I can accept it if I don’t. What choice do I have?

That night I basically turned myself over to my higher power and enjoyed the ride. That’s pretty much what riding a motorcycle is all about anyway. As is living with cancer.

I’m a winner!!

NaNoWriMo Winner Certificate 2011

NaNoWriMo Winner Certificate 2011

It’s a great day to be alive even if it feels like summer is over and fall is on the horizon. Frost warnings tonight!

I spent the morning yesterday at the Cider House Café at Windy Ridge Orchard with three women from my writing group. I can’t think of a better way to spend a morning—except if the one member who is “not a morning person” had been there.

As I had already eaten a bagel, the scrumptious apple cinnamon pancakes and bacon counted as my lunch, along with a Cortland apple from the peck I purchased in the gift shop. A lifetime ago I worked with the husband of the woman running the register—actually I started the novel (“Anne”) I am still struggling with when we began working together in 1986. He died of cancer five years ago.

She said she is finally coming to grips with his death. I can see that when Steve looks at me. I know he is thinking, how am I going to live without you? I am fortunate, I am only Stage 2 (of an ultra-rare cancer, unfortunately). It doesn’t mean I can’t become Stage 4 overnight. Or that I remain NED (no evidence of disease) forever.

I didn’t know in October that I would have surgery for ACC in November. I was living for tomorrow. It’s a wakeup call to find out that tomorrow may not come. Now I try to live my life as though today, this very moment of today, is all that I can count on.

But the reality is that most people don’t live their lives that way. They live as though death only happens to other people.

The ability of the women in my writing group to motivate, energize, inspire, me is priceless. They make me want to sit in my seat and write until I can’t write any more. To hone my skills until I can’t write any better.

We decided to participate in the National Novel Writing Month event this November, where you write a 50,000 word book in 30 days. I participated a few years ago, something I admit I am proud of. We’re going to meet in a neutral place—meaning no distractions—to write together in November. It’s a lot of work to write, and a lot more to do NaNoWriMo, but together I have no doubt that we will be successful.

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