Almost exactly 3 years ago to the day, I was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer.
At the time, it seemed this news – and the 18 month healing journey I would have to undergo – was the end of the world. And, in many ways, it was. I was physically, emotionally, and spiritual stripped to the bone and then some. The pieces of my life fell dead to the ground, bit by bit, along with my hair. I lost so much… my career, friends, a sense of self…All swept away.
And during the blackest hours, I lost hope that I would survive. All I had to hold onto, literally, was the promise of better days – a better LIFE – as I kept my eyes on Jesus.
Fast forward to today. I am a happy, healthy Stay-At-Home Grandma, carpooling my grandson back and forth to school, drum lessons, karate, and Brain Balance. I take long morning walks in the park that make my soul sing, and spend as much time in the garden as my fingernails can handle. My husband and I, our marriage renewed as well, are members of a loving and supportive church family where we are making new friends and are in community with people who believe like we do.
This past December I was accepted into the Master Food Preservers Program, offered through UC Davis Extension, and classes started last week. I am back in school learning and practicing another of my interests – home canning and food preservation – while having the opportunity to make even more new friends. I also get to volunteer at local farms, farmers markets, the OC Fair, and more.
Next week, I’ll start my part time job working through Tax Season (February – April) in a local CPA’s office while HomeBoy is at school. Last year when I did this, I REALLY enjoyed not only the work but the people, so when they invited me to come back again, I didn’t hesitate to say, “When do I start!?!”
This morning I’ll be heading out to attend a workshop entitled “Craft Your Creative Vision For 2018”, and then get my hair done. (YES, it grew back and YES, I am blonde again! :) ). I’m looking forward to hearing what the instructor has to say, and how I can take things to the next level because frankly, they are pretty awesome right now. But, greedy wench that I am, I’ll take MORE of the good stuff any day!
The life I live today, this life of freedom, joy, creativity, renewed faith and new friendship, wasn’t something I could “see” 3 year ago. But it was THERE, waiting for me, just as God promised it would be. All I had to do was take one day at a time, keep the faith, keep moving and remember:
It Ain’t Over Yet
“Yesterday, I was clever
So I wanted to change the world.
Today, I am wise,
So I am changing myself.”
There’s been lots of changing going on around here.
Even before I quit/let go at my job, I was making some changes in my home life. Not the “relationship” impacting changes with my husband, daughter and grandson (although, I supposed in a way that is ALWAYS happening, and all positive).
These changes pertain to my/our physical space. I am the “home maker’ in the family. Always have been, always will be simply because it’s who I am and I love doing it. I “home up” where ever I find myself, be it a teeny tiny one bedroom apartment in the city, a half finished cabin in the desert, or a more roomy home in the Burbs. I can’t remember ever NOT arranging my space, making do with what I had, trying to make things as nice as possible with what was at hand.
After living with me for so long, my family is no longer surprised to wake up in the morning to find the furniture rearranged, hutches done up differently, or artwork hung some other way. Don’t get me wrong. In many cases, once I’ve found the IT Spot for how I want a china cabinet to look, for example, I may not change anything about it for years!
But there’s this other thing that happens. Early in the morning, while everyone else is sleeping and I’m having my coffee/meditation time, I tend “LOOK” at stuff. If I’m in the kitchen, I look at the antique hutch that holds my vintage table and bar ware, and my big glass canisters holding baking ingredients. I might wander into the dining room and look at the corner units I have in there, and check out the way things are set up, or into the living room where I have a lighted display case full of Carnival Glass.
Something about the way one of these hutches is arranged will bug me until I reach that “OK” moment with how it looks. I’ll keep arranging and rearranging until my sensibilities tell me to stop, even if it’s just a minor adjustment. It’s unclear whether this need to find “OK” is just having a natural eye for design, a need for control, or needing to tap into a Feng Shui feel, but
And I’m ok with that. I like order, and have a natural bent towards organization. I also believe that our exterior space impacts our interior space. Having an organized life – be it at home or in business – reduces waste, stress and time. (Side note: Orderly does NOT mean dust free. Ha!)
And visa versa, as well. Our inner state can have a direct impact on our outer world. You know this is true if you’ve ever lived with someone with mental health challenges, be it depression, anxiety or some other mood disorder.
ANYWAY, when the mood strikes to change things up, I like to follow my inclinations and this past week I took advantage of an empty living room to make a BIG change (furniture moved so Mr. Man could clean the carpets). Seeing the empty “canvas” in front of me, I got to work right away. A couple new pieces of furniture, a new rug, and Wha Laa! I just put the finishing touches on a whole new look. The room looks more spacious, there’s plenty of seating while still being homey and welcoming, and all just in time for the holidays. And I reached OK!
I mentioned “control” as a possible motive and, in the case of my living room, there might be a little to that (although our old couch WAS getting a bit worn in places…) There is so much happening “OUT THERE” right now that I have no control over. For example, we recently got the news my grandson has ADHD, Dyslexia and CAPD, and that he’s being bullied at his new school. Other than support him emotionally and educationally here at home (and a TON of prayer), there’s little I can do to change that. I also can’t change the ever rising cost of living here in Southern California, the fact that ageism is alive and well in the job market, my aging mother’s continuing decline or what’s happening on the global political scene.
But, I am not powerless. With just a little money, a lot of elbow grease and even more imagining, our home has undergone a positive shift. Almost every room in the house has now undergone some sort of change that support and assist all of us in differing ways…AND that look really cool.
Which makes me feel good….Makes me feel like I have a purpose and that there is a PLAN for good things for all concerned . Which, in turn, makes me feel at peace.
And inner peace is where it’s at.
Yes, I wrote over 50,000 words in 30 days and did so as a single mom working full-time while raising two kids AND blogged regularly! I even wrote guest posts for other blogs, including the Pep-Talk variety for other WriMos! WHEW.
No sooner had I accomplished my goal, though, when something really weird happened: I lost all motivation to write and stopped almost completely. No more novel writing, no more blogging. In fact, I stopped writing anything that wasn’t absolutely necessary, specifically, journaling and whatever was needed to fulfill my professional obligations.
REALLY weird. And the burn-out or whatever it was lasted for years.
I learned a lot about myself from 5 years of NaNoWriMo-ing, though. I learned the early morning hours are my most creative, and that it’s HUGELY frustrating to need to stop in the middle of The Flow because Duty Calls. I experienced how elusive, magical and fickle The Muse can be. And, perhaps most importantly, I discovered writing fiction isn’t really my thing. My natural inclination leans towards storytelling based upon my own experiences. Real Life Stuff.
But I think that is about to change.
A couple months ago, while on a lunch and shopping date with a girlfriend, I had the most amazing encounter . WE had the most amazing encounter, I should say. And Thank The Writing Gods I had a witness to all that happened. It all started with a unplanned stop at an antique store in the Old Towne district of Tustin. We weren’t sure if the shop was still opened since the sign in the window said “Open”, the sign on the door said “Closed”, but a bunch of framed art was still outside on the sidewalk. So Girlfriend went to see if we could get in, and after she waved an “OK”, I got out of the car and went immediately to the art on the sidewalk. One piece in particular caught my eye: Framed in old Walnut, it’s a large 3 x 4 oil painting…of trees.
Those who know me know I am a Tree Person. Our home is surrounded by them and we love camping in the middle of them. A Tree Hugger for decades, I’ve hiked miles to embrace the oldest living ones on Earth (in the Ancient Bristle Cone Pine Forest). I’ve blogged about them (Like HERE and HERE), painted them, planted them and every room in our home has some sort of homage to The Tree.
So this old painting really spoke to me on several levels. After a day of fruitless shopping, I thought I had finally found something worthy of taking home – until I saw the price tag.
Anyway, we went inside to look around. It was your typical antique shop in that it was so PACKED with all manner of collectible, vintage, and antique goodies, we could barely squeeze through the displays. But we did, making our way eventually to the back of the shop and THAT is where it all happened.
I’m not going to tell the story here (sorry), but I am going to tell the story and I’m going to use NaNoWriMo2017 as my kick-in-the-literary-ass to write it. Yes, I’ll still work on the cookbook. Or not. But I have to do this. I mean, I have to. The first thing my friend and I did when we got into the car to leave that day was to turn to each other, wide eyed with amazement, and simultaneously say, “WHAT JUST HAPPENED?” In fact, it was Deb who first told me, “You HAVE to write that down!” And her encouragement hasn’t stopped. So, I’m going to. I feel like if I don’t, I will regret it for the rest of my life.
And the old painting? Well, it’s hanging right here over my desk while I’m typing this. How THAT came to be is part of the story as well, and another reason I know I have to do this. Why?
Because Trees Talk, don’t ‘cha know?
November 1st is fast approaching. If YOU are participating in NaNoWriMo this year, please let me know! I would love to be part of your posse and lend you my support! You’ll find me over there under the pen name JaneBond.