Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Lessons I Learned From Elsa-2016

I found this post this week that was written last November and decided it was time to share.

How many of you are still experiencing this song, “Let It Go,” over and over again? Has the Frozen frenzy ended or are some of your little ones in the midst of experiencing this obsession? I must admit I really liked that movie but I’m afraid the message I heard so often has taken a long time to sink in.

I was talking to my sister a few months ago and we got to talking about trying to fix our bad days and turn them around and how frustrating it is to have days like that and how often we hang on to those days as evidence of all the things we are doing wrong in our lives.  My sister challenged me on days like that to let it go, chalk it up as having a bad day and move on.  This is simple but it was a major light bulb moment for me.  I’m a fixer by nature so the thought that I could just leave the day and say, “well, that was a doozy,” and leave it alone was HUGE.  We will have difficult days.  It is part of our mortal experience.  There is a scriptures teach us that there must be opposition in all things.  If your kids never got sick, made messes, took their diaper off and peed in the middle of the kitchen floor (yep, that happened this week), we wouldn’t appreciate the days when everyone was healthy, the dishes are mostly done, and the clothes stayed on (the struggle is real my friends). We have to have disagree with our spouse, family, co-workers, roommates and friends every once in a while so we can appreciate that we can forgive and still be friends. It’s all part of life.  Sometimes life is messy and the real lesson is to not let that messiness keep you from finding joy in the little things. So thanks Elsa, but mostly thanks to my sister who took a moment to teach me another lesson that God had for me. 

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Stop Selling Yourself Short

60%, I explained to my sister, I am about 60-70% of the woman I once was.  The conversation had turned deep fast as we talked about the challenges we are currently facing. She was recovering from a bout of pneumonia and I was still adjusting to the idea of a life without my spouse.  She explained something to me that changed the way I saw myself.  She said simply, "if you are doing the best you can, you are operating at 100%."  What a simple concept, yet so profound.

Somewhere along the way I came to understand that my value lies not in who I am but in what I am able to accomplish in a day.  I would make to do lists and trudge through them day after day sometimes missing out on the simple things that are so important to my happiness. How often I chose a chore over a quiet moment with someone I loved based on this valuation.

When did I start to believe I was broken because I couldn't do the laundry list of things that media portrays a "good mom" doing? There is not list of required accomplishments to be a successful human being.  There is not expectation that we all reach the same goals or pursue the same dreams.  How dull life would be if that were true!

Each of us is unique.  Our life goals and aspirations and how we spend our time on any given day will be as unique as we are and it it's time to embrace the beautiful things that make you you.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Highs and Lows

The highest high and the lowest low I can remember in the past two years happened in the same month. The month before my high/low month we were told that it was time to switch gears from localized cancer treatments to systemic treatments. This was a HUGE red flag as they'd been telling us for some time that they had effective localized treatments but none of the systemic meds were effective beyond stabilizing the disease for a few months.  This happened mid-month. The next two weeks were a flurry of planning and testing in preparation for starting a drug trial in California. I antagonized over the decision to join my husband on the trip or stay home and take care of my children. I always hated not being there when Matt went to the doctor as I always had so many questions and Matt was always so optimistic about his situation that it colored his answers when he would recount the appointment to me later. That's one of the things I really loved about him, he never gave up hope that some big thing would come along and eradicate his disease. The stress of dealing with treatments and the unknown was also starting to get to me at this point. I spent time visiting with my mom and my mother in law taking through the pros and cons of joining him on this trip which went from being a one week trip to being a little over two weeks. I will be forever grateful for their encouraging me to go and their willingness to come up and take care of everything and everyone while I was away.

Our time in California started with a two hour visit with our new oncologist. I had a TON of questions and was so grateful for the almost two hours he took answering them. People with HUGE hearts become oncologists. They are really fighting for a cure; they are VERY invested in getting people well. The words metastatic disease hit me like a ton of bricks and my head was swimming with emotions when we got back to our hotel and let it all sink in. The next two days we took a time to see the sights. There were intermittent phone calls with the doctor but mostly just enjoying the town. The ocean is SO amazing and the Golden Gate Bridge just put me in such awe. After another day of tests we headed south. We had a week break before the next doctor appointment and he was starting oral chemo. They hesitated to call it chemotherapy but that's what it was.

We spent the next week enjoying the scenery in between resting to give his body time to adjust to the new meds. We talked and walked so much. I was amazed at how we never ran out of things to talk about. It was that way when we were dating and it was that way when we was home recovering from surgery, I just never got tired of having him around. We saw beautiful beaches, amazing Redwood trees that have stood since before the birth of Christ, ate amazing food and just enjoyed the time together. After one more quick doctor visit we were on our way home. Part of the justification for the trip was that it would count as our ten year anniversary trip. I'd been planning one in my head for years but was really unsure if we'd really take a vacation since it seemed so selfish. Even as I watched him slow down over the next few months I never imagined I would lose him before we got to ten years. He passed suddenly just four months before our anniversary.

I was reading my journal from the trip this morning and feeling so grateful that we had these beautiful, happy moments in the middle of this huge health issue. There have been moments along the way where I've felt worried and prayed and been counseled not to worry. I assumed that meant my husband's health would improve. The truth of the matter is that worrying would have only served to put extra stress on us all. When I was told "everything will be okay" it didn't mean his body would be healed, it meant that despite the challenges we would face God would watch over us. He would send angels to comfort, help, bless and mourn with us. Matt's death was such a shock and I held on to hope that he would pull through up until the doctor came in and told me he had just hours to live. I spent time feeling very confused and angry that things happened the way they did but I keep coming back to the quiet reassurance that everything will be okay and I know it will. There will be hard days, there will be challenges but God always prepares the way for us to do what He asks of us. I know this to be true.