Daily Inspiration, Inspiration, Life, Love, Relationships, Spirituality, Women, Writing

I’m Moving

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

Inspiration

The Best Breakup I Ever Had

facebook-dislikeI’m coming  up on a very IMPORTANT anniversary!

The 10th anniversary of blogging here at Grace Upside Down, perhaps?  Nope, although that did happen in September.  (Where does the time go?)

Maybe my 20th wedding anniversary? Nah, not that either, although Home Boy and I celebrated that in September as well.

So what HUGE milestone am I getting ready to celebrate,then?  Come closer and I’ll tell you.

In just over a month. I will celebrate 1 full year since…..

I kicked Facebook to the curb!

That’s right!  After nearly a decade of socializing on perhaps the most important Social Media platform there is, I quit.  Cold Turkey.   And never looked back.

For the entirely of 2017 I have lived Facebook free and, man! I cannot emphasize enough what a positive difference I’ve experienced in the quality of my life – AND my relationships!  (After a brief withdrawal and detox phase that lasted a couple of weeks…it IS a drug, dontchaknow?)

Ah, sweet relief!

Long gone the days when I agonized over why certain people didn’t like or comment on my posts any more, or whether I “had to” like or comment on someone else’s post.  No more of the constant buzzing in my head…..you know, all the conversations (even rebuttals) I couldn’t (or shouldn’t) have.    No more Unfollowing someone because they fell down some Rabbit Hole and started posting bizarre, regurgitated mythology they  apparently thought they were the first to come up with it.

I no longer feel compelled to correct someones spelling/grammar/punctuation (not that I actually DID correct them.  I just FELT like I had to…and stuffed my feelings), or comment with the name of the TRUE author of a quote that someone posted without it (a form of plagiarism that plagues online content and I find particularly abhorrent).

And, most importantly, no more Faux Friendships – many of who were identified AFTER I quit.  (“You shall judge a tree by it’s fruit.” – Jesus)

Do I miss the sleepless nights and heartbreak incurred because someone got jealous of someone else I was interacting with online, or completely misunderstood something I posted and decided to take offense where none was meant?

Do I long for the days when I agonized over some cryptic post by one of the kids, in a moment of youthful angst, that threatened to send me in Hyper Hover Mother Mode.  (The WORST)?

Ohhellno! My life in the Post-Facebook era is full of tranquility, authenticity and more real-life interaction with people than ever.   I have great friendships, and closer ties with them and family alike.

Ahhhhh, the relief! Dear God, the relief of not worrying whether a photo is “Facebook worthy” or not…whether my double chin is showing, or if the muffin top I’ve acquired since menopause is exaggerated!  How free to be with people without the knee jerk reaction of having to chronicle our every move for mass consumption!  We actually just

LIVE OUR LIVES!  DO OUR THING!  And any photos we take are, by and large, for our own personal edification.

I am, I believe, Renaissance Woman.  I spend less time online now than I can remember.  My time at the computer is just a fraction of what it once was.  I’m doing life Old School style, free from etheric tethers to what has, in recent years, become a behemoth of conflict and conspiracy, Russian “collusion” and the stifling of Free Speech, and WAY too many ads for things or ideas I could care less about.

Thank God Almighty, I am free at last!

Here are some interesting statistics about Fauxbook:

  1.  There are 83 MILLION fake profiles.    That is not a typo but it is a lot of deception.
  2.  Turns out that Facebook is BAD for your relationships.  In fact, a study done in 2010 showed “Facebook” was reported as being responsible in 30% of divorces.  That’s 1 in 3, and this study is 7 years old now!  Imagine what that statistic might be today!
  3. Not only are romantic relationships adversely effected, Facebook can be a  friendship killer as well.    I lost 2 long term, real time friendships because of something Facebook related.  Did I insult them online?  Did I post a death threat or a photo they didn’t want to be seen?  Did I go suddenly crazy and become someone completely different , or reveal their deepest darkest secrets to all 350 of my closest friends? Nope.  In fact, in BOTH cases, the women just bailed on me without explanation – unfriending me online AND in real life in the new chickenshit, cowardly, immature way  of “dealing” that has infiltrated our society. And I’m not the only one to experience this.  Three of my close girlfriends have as well…and we’re talking about 30 year relationships just GONE, just like that, over social media.  All of us were left hurting, confused and bereft.  Never again.
  4. Not only a source of jealously and infidelity, Facebook has been shown to cause depression, narcissism, anxiety, low self-esteem and a number of other mental health issues.  If you’ve ever logged onto your Facebook account in a relatively good mood only to log off 30 minutes later feeling like shit, you know what I’m talking about.  Just ask anyone who finds out their ex, only recently to have broken up with them via text message (another chickenshit move used these days), immediately started seeing his old flame.  The one that always seemed to show up on his posts with some flirty thing to say.  (This happened to my daughter).  And don’t even get me started on a personal pet peeve of mine –  the seemingly never ending Selfie Parade some people engage in.  I mean, how many times do we have to see yet another fish-lipped, “I love myself!  I’m so awesome!” post before we start asking, “Who are they trying to convince?  Me or themselves?”  Turns out posting too many of these photos is another big contributor to the Death of Friendship and intimacy – and it’s annoying as hell!

As Facebook (d)evolves over time…the more FB execs testify before Congress and are in news about their shady dealings (influencing in the 2016 election and censoring certain content, to name two), the happier I am that I’m not a part of it. I don’t belong there.  My peeps are in real time, not virtual time.  A day (finally) came when the Cons far outweighed the Pros (I speak for myself personally), and I had the will to say Good-bye forever.

Ever since I unfriended Facebook, my days are richer, more productive and peaceful, and involve more real-time friendtime than ever.

It’s been the BEST break-up I’ve ever had.

Daily Inspiration, Inspiration, Life, Love, Relationships, Spirituality, Women, Writing

True Confessions of a Terrible Blogger

20150613_112004_resizedI’m a terrible blogger.

Long gone are the days when I would write a daily post, and then go around checking on all my blog “friends”, commenting here and there and interacting along the way.

When I first started blogging back in 2004 or so, it was a whole ‘nuther world.  Blogging itself was a relatively new phenom.  This was in the days before “Smart Phones” and tablets, social media and “monetizing”.

Before the “Like” button.

Sure, the platforms themselves were pretty rustic compared to all the bells and whistles available today.  We had a small handful of options for templates and such.  Corporate websites weren’t yet using a blog as a generic marketing tool.  “Click bait” would’ve been mistaken for some sort of fishing apparatus. But oh, those were great blog times.  I sometimes miss them in the middle of the night.

These days, I “think” about writing here far more often than I actually do.  One reason (the main reason) is, I’ve lost the plot. I don’t know what my motivation is….the whole “WHY” of it.

I’m not an “expert” on anything.  I haven’t any earth shattering wisdom to impart, a book to promote,  or a service or product to sell.

I have no interest in trying to be “someone”, or garner an adoring crowd (well, actually, that part sounds pretty good.  haha!)

So why write here?  What is it that keeps me coming back (albeit sporadically), year after year, even after weeks and months of being MIA?

It’s simple, really. I long to connect.  To reach out and touch someone and maybe, if I’m lucky, have them touch back.  To write something and have someone say, “Hey, me, too!” or “I totally get you!”

Being “get” cannot be rated highly enough.

One of the most unexpected developments of having been diagnosed with breast cancer almost 2 years ago was how it would impact my relationships.  I’ve written reams about it in my journal, and mentioned it briefly here (I think….)  And I suppose much of the changes stem from how the news – and the treatment journey itself – impacted me.

Unless you’ve walked a mile in the shoes of someone who’s been told they have the Big C, it’s hard to understand, even if you are close to someone who has or is going through it.  See, you can’t be in their head.  You aren’t there in those dark, solitary, sleepless hours in the middle of the night with your thoughts running amuck.  Hell, even my own family doesn’t know some of the stuff I had to deal with – emotionally and physically – because I didn’t want to burden them any more than they already had to deal with.  I still don’t.

Long story short, and not surprisingly, I’m not the same person I was 2 years ago.  For example, I’ve essentially ditched the New Thought/New Age/Alternative spirituality stuff I had been practicing for a decade or so.  I found that 97% of it was pretty useless when it came to dealing with the diagnosis.  My beliefs were tried by fire.  I am, most assuredly, a Jesus person again.  NOT a fundamentalist.  You can’t “unknow” or “unexperience” certain things.  I love and support my gay friends and the LGBT community at large.  I still swear up a storm and I don’t go to church (although, if I could find one where I “fit in”, I would go in a heartbeat).  I still believe in the Feminine Face of God, and the Mystery of the spiritual realm.

Physically, I’ve changed, too.  I don’t have long dyed hair and acrylic nails any more.  My face is different….a little more battle-scarred and war-weary.  And my wardrobe.  Ugh!  After being away from the corporate environ for this long, and after going from 2 incomes to 1, well, the word “limited” comes to mind.

Hell, some days I don’t even put makeup on except maybe my eyebrows.  They are a MUST HAVE, if I want to avoid looking rather alien.  I didn’t have much before and, after chemo, things didn’t improve.  At least I got my lashes back.  Mostly.

Another big change is how I spend my days.  I am, by and large, living the life of a retiree – even with my part-time bookkeeping job (which, as it turns out, is VERY part-time).  My days are spent doing mundane “housewife” things like cooking and laundry and cleaning.  I actually don’t mind that, interestingly enough.  And I have plenty of time (if not money) to do the crafts and classes that I enjoy.

I never did relate to the “cancer survivor” meme, even though – technically – I am one.  Never joined a support group and don’t have a single piece of pink-ribboned paraphernalia.  Going through breast cancer was more like going through an ugly divorce or a death or some other trauma. I am doing what I can to put “that phase” of my life in the past as much as possible considering it was – well – cancer.

So I didn’t come out of that phase with a tribe of “sisters”, even though I was told I would.  In fact, some friends have drifted off into the sunset.  Why?  I dunno…Changing interests or lifestyles, maybe?  Some of that is to be expected, I suppose.  In July 2015, when my BFF broke up with me  after my 2nd round of chemo (and right after I shaved my head), I had a big wake up call.  Another one, I should say.  It was the understanding that some people can’t handle the tough times…the really tough times.  Times involving a drastic change in availability, or appearance or energy.

Times of facing one’s own mortality.

My friendships have undergone a serious pruning.  In spite of that, the relationships I have with myself, the God of my understanding, my husband and my children are all stronger than ever.  I’ve made a few new acquaintances and friends along the way, although no one (yet) to fill those BFF shoes. But I appreciate these women when we spend time together.  We laugh and have fun as we get to know each other better.

But in my heart I believe there is one special woman out there.  One who is also looking for me, wanting the same sort of “sisterfriend” relationship I want.  Someone like-minded and enjoys the same things.  A woman who  makes the best of things and lives life  – every day – to the fullest.  She’ll be down to earth with a good head on her shoulders and a smartass remark on her lips. And we’ll laugh our asses off, A LOT, even when we’re crying.  It’s just a matter of time before we are connected.

CONNECTED.

Connection.  That feeling you get when you know someone is there for you, and you for them, during good times or bad, happy times or sad.  When the people involved experience the strength and comfort that comes from doing life together vs. going it alone.

I want more of that in my life. In real-time.  Because as wonderful as online friendships are, they aren’t the same as those where you actually DO stuff together, physically, in the same space.  Words written on a page (or in a text) are not the same as those spoken face to face, eye to eye.

Maybe even heart to heart, when someone needs a hug……

CONNECTION.

I may be a terrible blogger, but I give great hugs.

It’s just a matter of time.

Daily Inspiration

Oh, What A Tangle

Spider WebWhile out for a walk yesterday, I spotted this spider web from across the street strung and had to go check it out.   Strung up over a neighbor’s unused back gate, it was HUGE – 2 feet tall at its widest point – and, from the looks of it, it’s been there awhile.  While I shudder to think about how BIG the spider might be that made this, it would totally make a great prop for a haunted house.

Nature is already decorating for Halloween and I’m digging it!

The web holds a certain beauty for me.  A certain fascination.  There’s the obvious hole where, perhaps, a bird flew through it or a rock was thrown.  There are the thin sections tightly strung and precisely uniform, and then there are others that look like Mama decided to get busy after a few dirty martinis with the girls.

Something to remember: Friends Don’t Let Friends Spin Drunk.

Friends…. a topic I’ve been thinking a lot about recently.     This breast cancer journey I’m on A couple of love bombshas taught me SO much about friendships.  I’m a Facebooker, and it’s been miraculous and astounding how my friends – some who I’ve never met in person, and others that I haven’t seen in years – have circled around me with support, encouragement and love.  I am still, 9 months after my diagnosis, periodically receiving cards and gifts in the mail – the latest one just a few days ago.  I like to call them Love Bombs and they always show up right when I need a boost.  Without a doubt, I wouldn’t be doing as well as I am if it weren’t for these people.  They hold space for me like I’ve never experienced, and I don’t know how I can ever repay them – except to be strong. battle on and help as many others as I can along the way.

But it’s not all been Love and Light.   I now have an Ex “Bestie”.  Yeah, that happened a month ago.  But it wasn’t a complete surprise.  I’ve known something was afoot for months …since April, in fact.  It began after it turned out HomeGirl wasn’t going to be there for my first surgery due to vacation plans with her kids.  The same thing happened for my second surgery a month later.  And even though I told her I understood,  she swore she would “be there for me 24/7” when I started the hardest part of a hard journey, the chemotherapy.  She wasn’t.   So, I made other arrangements.

Anyway, back in April I felt her pulling away from me. We never did talk on the phone much  (something I particularly dislike about the Texting age), and so when her texts started to come less frequently, and her interactions on my Facebook page all but vanished, and our visits grew farther apart, I just “knew”. A huge Red Flag went off inside of me when she was 30 minutes late for a lunch date – something that never happened before in all the years I’ve known her.  It wasn’t a matter of a busy schedule – it was her day off and she was at home.  It’s just that she just didn’t leave her house in time to be on time, and THAT spoke volumes!

HomeGirl stopped sharing important moments in her life in that “you’re the first to know!!” way we once had, and what texts I did get were shorter and shorter.  The last one – in response to my lengthy apology for having to cancel our visit for the next day because I was feeling too sick from Round 3 – was all of two words long.  Two.  “OK, thanks!”

And I haven’t heard from her since.

My daughter and husband have borne witness to my tears and my confusion over the last several months as I tried to deal with her “withholding”.  I remember early on thinking, “She’s going to find some “issue” to get pissed about so that she can feel justified in ending our friendship.”  And sure enough, that is exactly what happened.  Maybe I didn’t make my journey enough about her.

Guilt does funny things to a person.  So does jealously, insecurity and resentment.  She broke up with me once before, as some who are long time readers here might remember.  It was about 6 years ago.  But unlike last time (which was also without warning), this time I won’t go after her.  Last time, I would periodically email her to see if I could find out what had happened so we could work things out.  This went on for 3 years.  Not once did she tell me why she ended things.  When we did finally reunite about 2 years ago, she said – both of us with tears in our eyes – that she couldn’t remember, and swore we would NEVER break up again.

Today, after being the victim of her Scorpion sting for a second time, I’m calling BULL SHIT.  What kind of person ends a sister-like friendship, pushing away all attempts at reconciliation, over something so unimportant they can’t remember it? For THREE years?

Sheesh!  I’m laughing at myself here. Wake up, Grace! Why I didn’t see this before, I’m not sure.  I do know that – in the past – I’ve tried for too long, giving up too much, to make certain relationships work.  I don’t hold grudges, and I am a huge believer in Second Chances.  But not today.  Not any more.

I am changed in ways I am only now seeing.  Why would I WANT someone like this as a friend?  Why would I go after someone who intentionally tries to hurt me with the things she says, as seen in some recent Instagram posts (thank the Social Media Gods for the “UNFOLLOW” button!)

The truth is, I don’t.  Someone like that doesn’t belong in my circle.  We obviously don’t Vibe in the same frequency any more.  After looking a little deeper at “us”, I realize we don’t really share much in common any more, and it’s possible that much of what was holding our friendship together was “What Was”, not “What Is”.

Come to find out, after doing a little Googling around, that there are other women out there who have lost a Bestie while fighting breast cancer.  Who knew?  One would think that at a time like this, relationships would grow closer…that these BFFs would step up like never before.  But sometimes, unfortunately, they don’t…and they bail. Who knows why this happens. Maybe the Bestie is scared or can’t cope, or feels left behind in the whirlwind of surgery, treatment and doctors appointments.   Whatever the reason, it happens and it can be devastating.  The cancer patient feels abandoned in their time of greatest need.  Betrayed and let down.

Most of all, they feel unloved.

Thankfully, I know – and can feel – the great circle of love around me.  I’ve never gone without support and concern.  Turns out there is always someone waiting in the wings to help me.  These people are in my life at this time because they are the Right Ones for Right Now, and I am so grateful for their presence.

Another lesson learned: What is REAL will last and everyone who is meant to be in my life is still here, with more friends added all the time.