Got Hope?

Have you ever felt hopeless?

I have.  In fact, there have been many many times in my life when I’ve gone through something that left me feeling blindsided and in deep despair.  

Like when my 3rd marriage ended in divorce. Or the day I came home from work to find my daughter had taken all of her stuff – including my 11 month old grandson – and moved out of the house without telling me where she was going.  

As an early 20something, living with a boyfriend and addicted to drugs and alcohol, I remember being down on my bedroom floor crying. It was after yet another night of partying until I was puking my guts up. I had done something or said something amazingly stupid, and felt ashamed because I knew I was killing myself and couldn’t stop. 

Over the years I’ve had friends – best friends – walk out of my life without a single word.  In 2015 I was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer with 18 months of treatment to go through.   I have been ambushed with an unexpected job lay-off – more than once – and me, a single mom of two to support.  I’ve experienced the unexpected death of a parent, and nearly being homeless – along with my husband and 2 children – after a real estate agent sold our home from out from under us because “he had bills to pay”.  We had 1 day to find a place.

These hard times, while differing in particulars, all produced the same result:  A dark cloud of hopelessness and depression that threatened to consume me, and which I wasn’t sure I could – or would – survive.  On my own, I didn’t have any of the resources or strength or to change them.  And in a couple of instances, my literal life was at stake.  My life was in the balance, along with my sanity.

Several times I wanted to die, and even prayed for it to happen.

Obviously, those particular prayers weren’t answered.  And oh, how grateful I am for that!  In each and every instance, things did eventually turn around – most of them in quite miraculous ways.

My husband and I are nearing our 7th re-marriage anniversary and we’re closer now than ever. After 18 months of no communication whatsoever, my daughter contacted me out of the blue and re-established relationship. We’ve been a vital part of their lives ever since, and both she and my grandson have lived with us for over 2 years now.  He’ll be 10 in just a few weeks.

I stopped using hard drugs decades ago and only enjoy an occasional drink now and then when out with friends or with my husband.  The weed addiction – it was the strongest of all of them – was finally broken once and for all last summer.  It took 45 years, but I am free. At last!

New friends showed up, I’ve been cancer free for almost 4 years, and I was never without a good job for long until I semi-retired a few years back. In fact, they just kept getting better, and better paying.

Naturally, Dad didn’t come back from the grave (wouldn’t THAT have been a miracle!) but Mom is still around at 86 years old and I see her at least every other weekend.  Her body is in decline, and she’s a wee bit forgetful, but her mind is still sharp and on a good day, it’s a good day.

And lastly, none of us – not me, my husband, my children or grandchild – have ever spent a single day of our lives without a roof over our heads, clothes on our back, and good food to eat.  We’ve haven’t always had “extra”, but we’ve always had enough.

All of these difficult experiences had one thing in common (besides me. Ha!)  They all changed for the better, changed me in the process, and turned that deep, dark hopelessness into joy.  

Was it a 12step group I attended that freed me?  Weeks of Therapy?  One (or more) of the New Age accouterments I tried?  Everything from Tarot to OMing, Reiki to Past Life Regression, Visualization to Crystals?  Did Buddhism or Paganism or Goddess worship help me?

No.  (And trust me.  I tried them all.) 

In each and every case, it was Jesus.  

Jesus delivered me, healed me, restored my marriage and my family and my life.  He protected and provided, comforted and encouraged, and gave me not only a reason to get up in the morning, but a sense of real purpose for living.

And that’s why I’ve come here today.  I felt compelled to tell of just a few of the things that the Lord has done for me.  I know, with all that is within me, that if He would do these things for me, He will do them for anyone because there’s absolutely nothing special about me.  I wasn’t the Favorite Child. In fact, in many of these instances, I wasn’t even a Christian (or if I was, I wasn’t acting like one).  But even then, even during the times when I walked away from Him, He never walked away from me. No matter what dark road I had chosen to walk, He walked it with me just waiting.  Waiting for me to ask for help.

If you find yourself today in a place where you feel hopeless, and beaten down by life or your own bad choices, I beg you.  Give Jesus a chance.  Even if you have before, invite Him into your circumstances, into your heart, and to turn things around. He longs help you – physically and spiritually – and to demonstrate His Unconditional Love. It’s not about you joining a religion. It’s about having a relationship with the Son of the Living God.

God is a good God. His mercy endures forever, and He is near to those who are broken and brokenhearted.  Ask Him for help. Do it now. You won’t be sorry.

“I love the Lord, for He heard my voice,

He heard my cry for mercy.

Because He turned his ear to me

I will call on Him as long as I live.

The cords of death entangled me.

The anguish of the grave came upon me.

I was overcome by trouble and sorry.

Then I called on the name of the Lord:

Oh, Lord, save me!

The Lord is gracious and righteous.

Our God is full of compassion.

The Lord protects the simple hearted.

When I was in great need,

He saved me.

Be at rest once more, Oh my soul,

for the Lord has been good to you.

For you, Oh Lord, have delivered my soul from death,

my eyes from tears,

my feet from stumbling,

that I may walk before You in the land of the living.”

  • Psalm 116:1-9

Breast Cancer For Dummies or “Where I Found Help”

For Dummies

Google Image Modified By Me

There are few things that will rock a woman’s world more than hearing the words,

“You have breast cancer.”

It’s a little embarrassing to admit, but I was so DUMB about breast cancer before my diagnosis!  Sure, I knew all about the PINK stuff (frankly, the marketing of all merch by anyone and everyone bugs me, but that’s for another post).  I knew about “Susan G. Komen for the Cure”, and the races.  My own grandmother died of breast cancer before I was born, two aunts by marriage had double mastectomies in the 60s/70s and lived to be very old, and I work with a woman who is herself a survivor.  Sadly, she is also a grieving mother, having lost her only daughter – aged 38 – to complications from a battle with Stage IV BC less than two years ago.

So I had some personal exposure, but was pretty ignorant none the less. For example, I had no idea there were so many different types of BC (I won’t list all 14 here, but you can find the list and their symptoms on Breastcancer.org HERE.)  I also wasn’t aware of other impacting factors, like whether or not the cancer expresses through the HER2 gene (like mine), or whether it’s Estrogen and/or Progesterone sensitive (mine was both).

Then there are other things looked for in the biopsies.  Things like cancer grades, lymph node status and the BRCA1 gene we’ve all heard about thanks to Angie Jolie-Pitt. 

Needless to say, up until January of this year, I thought of breast cancer primarily in terms of Stages (o-5, the higher the number the worse the prognosis), lost hair, lost breasts, and – occasionally – lost lives (to the tune of over 40,000 a year, as it turns out.)

Welcome to my crash course in a topic I never EVER thought I would be dealing with!  And school came right at the most inopportune time.  Suddenly, I had to do research when I was shocked, scared out of my mind, and – initially – unwilling to go the traditional “Cut and Burn” approach that the alternative media hypes as being worse than the cancer itself.  When you first find out, the Earth tilts on it’s axis.  You can’t think clearly, or you think too much.  Little monsters start crawling around inside your head and – IF you can sleep – within your dreams.   In my case, there were adult children to be told – and told in such a way to keep the freak out factor as low as possible.  I had to tell my elderly mom, and the rest of my family.  What I needed first was some answers, and quickly.  See, I felt it was my duty…my responsibility…to show them I was CALM about the whole thing.

Because if Mom was calm, everything is going to be OK.  Right?

My search initially took me on all sorts of rabbit trails…some of which I was very grateful for, others not so much.  These were primarily the chat like  “forums” on many of the large sites where the threads were filled with woman after woman posting about their own battles, and the horrible things they were dealing with.

Reading their posts was so heartbreaking and frightening.  After no more than a day or two, I couldn’t deal with it.  I was on IFO at that point (Information Fucking Overload).  I knew, intuitively, that my attitude going into this thing would have everything to do with how I came out of it, and keeping my focus POSITIVE was imperative.  (My surgeon later told me, bless her heart, that the only people who tend to post on those sites are the ones having all the problems – and that I should stay away.)  I did scour the threads looking for ideas for dealing with chemo and radiation, though, and found some good tips that I have been using and will post about later.

All that being said, I wanted to use this first post to point you towards the “RESOURCE” page I created.  Here you will find information that I personally looked into and found extremely helpful.   If you are newly diagnosed, or know someone who is, this page might be a good starting point for them.    It is, by no stretch of the imagination, a comprehensive catalog of all the resources out there for breast cancer patients.  But it does cover a lot of the basics.  You’ll find a tab for the Resource page at the top of my homepage.  A click HERE will take you there right away.

AwenSymbol

Google Image

There.  That little piece of business is out-of-the-way. *smile*  I have so much I want to write about.. .things that have been percolating in my mind for months, and for some reason, I didn’t feel compelled to post on The Wild Pomegranate.  No wonder I was feeling blocked!  (Even my own ideas for uncorking myself didn’t working!  And yes, this was written by me under my real name.  )  What I needed was a fresh start, a new focus, a blank slate.  A PURPOSE.  Now that I’ve created it here at GraceUpsideDown, the posts are already lining up in my head like planes on the tarmac at John Wayne!

Isn’t it amazing what happens when we get in alignment with our calling?  Suddenly, Awen shows up, pouring all kinds of creative energy over our heads.  Suddenly, I feel IT, I feel Her…and IT is a great feeling – One I know will carry me through the weeks and months ahead.  A hidden blessing in the storm.

“Learn to get in touch with the silence within yourself,

and know that everything in life has purpose.

There are no mistakes, no coincidences,

All events are blessings given to us to learn from.”

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

In Rememberance Of Hurricane Katrina

I never post twice in a day.  Hell, it’s enough just to post once a week right now.  And I rarely – as in almost never – repost blogs from others.  It’s just not something I do, so when I do do it (ha!) , it means a lot.

But THIS.  THIS POST needs to be reblogged.  It was written by a wonderful friend – NJRay.  We  met a lifetime or two ago here in Blogland, and she’s one of my all-time favorites – and someone I am very happy to have reconnected with recently as we’re both blogging a bit more these days.  I have mad love for this woman.

Hurricane Katrina.  It’s hard to believe a decade has passed since that life-changing storm.  Much like 9/11, the assassination of JFK, and several huge earthquakes here in So. Cal, I remember exactly where I was, and what I was doing, when Katrina hit.

NJRay posted her own remembrance in a powerful post entitled, “On the Tenth Anniversary of Hope and the Firefly Messengers”. PLEASE go on over and give it a read.  Even if you’ve never lived through a hurricane of Biblical proportions, maybe – like me – you’ve found yourself, at some point in time, washed away by sea of hopelessness.

And maybe – like us – Someone threw you a life rope.

Or a firefly.