Friday, June 30, 2017

GOALS






Happy 6 month birthday, 2017. What better time to reflect and assess where I'm at and where I'm going. 

Over the years, goals with numerical targets (often to do with the bathroom scales) have made way for more holistic or wholehearted ones. They have oscillated and undulated but generally followed a path of eating better, moving more (physically - not houses!) and living with fewer but better-quality items within our home. 

Just as I have been broader with my goals, so too have I been more forgiving with the results. In fact, this year that was and is my focus. So if I want to practice yoga more and the three-year-old wants to talk through all of it, or stop five minutes in to have breakfast then that's okay. Five minutes worth of stretching is better than none at all. If I only get to write my journal or blog once a month, then that's okay too. Something is better than nothing. You just do what you can, when you can. And show the kindness to yourself that you would to others. One day at a time. 



Wednesday, June 14, 2017

THE WORDS WE SPEAK






The words we speak are the fruit of our heart and our words should be different, because our hearts should be different. Today, remember to speak life to others. If your words are positive, speak them and if they are negative, simply silence them. For we are vessels to the Lord and here to serve one another, love one another and encourage one another as the wonderful Almighty has done for us. Love, obey and hold fast to Him.



Friday, June 9, 2017

AS THE MOON AFFECTS THE TIDE






“When we choose to be parents, we accept another human being as part of ourselves; and a large part of our emotional selves will stay with that person as long as we live. From that time on, there will be another person on this earth whose orbit around us will affect us as surely as the moon affects the tide.” – Fred Rogers



Thursday, June 8, 2017

CHEMO BRAIN


“Hang on. It’s coming to me. It's right there on the tip of my tongue.  It's a word that has a "th" sound in the beginning and a "ing" sound somewhere at the end.  Oh, oh I can almost see it! Crap, it's gone.”  Perhaps later, when I’m lying down for sleep, that stupid word, so maddeningly intangible just hours before will pop right into my head, as if it were all just a silly misunderstanding between me and my brain.

I'm guessing that if you've had chemo and have experienced the stupor that often follows, then you know what I'm talking about, right?  It's not that you just can't retrieve language; it's that you can't comprehend it.  My thinking, learning, processing or remembering is now so very different. It's like the arcade game with the crane where you try to scoop up the cheap plastic key chain and then ten dollars later, it's stuck in the chute.

It is painful to read and re-read an email, sometimes even a third time, unable to decipher it. When I have to respond, asking for clarification, I feel tempted to inform the public “I have chemo brain. Please dumb this down for me.” Or when people look at me with confusion in a meeting while I am trying to talk -- I consciously know that I'm not making sense, and there’s nothing I can do about it.  After having spent most of my life being praised for my communication and vocabulary, when these events happen, I literally die a million deaths.

Chemo may have cured my cancer, and I am thankful for that, but I grieve the loss of the person I used to be. It worries me daily. How long will these cognitive deficits interfere with my job and my ability to function at home? Will I continue to be able to provide for my family? Will I ever retain what my son told me just hours before? Does this mean I will incur dementia? Am I permanently dumber as a result of chemotherapy?

They call it “chemo brain” or “cancer-treatment-related cognitive impairment” but don’t let the terms fool you into thinking it’s only a state during which chemo is being administered. Wrong! It can persist and manifest in many ways long after the end of treatments in as many as 75 percent of survivors. In my research I've learned that many chemotherapeutic agents used to treat cancer trigger inflammation in the hippocampus, a cerebral region responsible for many cognitive abilities, such as learning and memory. This inflammation can destroy neurons and other cell types in the brain.

Additionally, these toxic compounds damage the connective structure of neurons, called dendrites and axons, and alter the integrity of synapses - the vital links that permit neurons to pass electrical and chemical signals throughout the brain. One researcher I follow compares the process to “a tree being pruned of its branches and leaves. In many instances, people experience severe cognitive impairment that's progressive and debilitating…the results can be particularly devastating, leading to reduced IQ, asocial behavior and diminished quality of life.”

Survivors I meet often bring this up, hoping I have an answer to share. But I don’t. No one really does. But I do have theories, which include juicing and eating a primarily plant-based diet. Cut out the junk. Focus on lean proteins (if you eat meat) and a colorful assortment of vegetables (especially dark leafy greens) and fruits that nourish the brain. Avoid saturated fats (cheese, whole milk, lard, butter, fatty animal products) and trans-fats (in some fast foods and baked goods such as pie crusts, donuts, crackers, etc.) that can clog arteries and cause poor blood flow to the brain (there’s a reason trans-fats are banned in a few states). Omega-3 fats are the good guys (wild salmon, fish oil supplements, herring, flaxseeds, chia seeds, walnuts, etc.). Researchers believe they improve mood and protect against inflammation and cognitive decline. 

Lastly, laugh.  Laugh a lot.  Humor really does help bring the world into focus and that's an especially good thing for people with chemo brain.

For those of you challenged with consuming adequate servings of fruits and vegetables, Juice Plus+ offers a solution in the form of a capsule or gummy. CLICK HERE formore information.


Tuesday, June 6, 2017

BED TIME






The kids beg for a few more minutes and we give them five more, tell them to put away all the toys and things. They do, mostly. And the sun starts to disappear over the horizon, fading but not frowning, and promising to come back.




Monday, June 5, 2017

I CAN






Imagine your brain.

How much time have you devoted to thinking about what you cannot change? How much energy have you expanded toward trying to fix it, manage it, or nurturing those emotions wrapped around that person, past event, or thing?

Accept it.

Accept that we cannot change that loss.

Accept that we cannot go back and rewrite that story.

Accept that we cannot make that person love us in the right way.

Accept that we are in a hard place that we didn’t ask to be in.

Oh, that’s hard. Don’t ask me to do that.

As I’ve shared, I’m in the midst of something I cannot change. Accepting this fact allows me to free my brain, my soul, my time, my heart to what I can change.

I can’t change cancer. I can’t turn the clock back. I can’t fix this.

Yet I can be present. I can love. I can even love the unlovable. I can serve. I can take pictures. I can write. I can clean. I can advocate. I can coordinate. I can cook a mean quiche and I can pray.



Saturday, June 3, 2017

I'VE BEEN THERE




Let’s be quicker to say “I’ve been there” and “me too” to our fellow moms. “Us” can conquer the world. Together.

To the honor of raising an iron-willed son and the humor in pushing grocery carts with screaming toddlers.





Thursday, June 1, 2017

BLOGGING



It’s amazing that we are already making summer plans, isn’t it?

I’ve been quieter on my blog the past couple of years. Our life is a full one, and I often have to prioritize needs over wants. Blogging sorta borders both, and so does being fully present with my children. So, my writing tends to take a backseat. Fortunately, some of my very best blogging friends  and readers are also working mamas...they get it. Too, they bring a wealth of knowledge to the table.

I’ll never forget the day I sat at our  old desktop computer and tried to brainstorm a name to use for my blog. I didn’t really even know what a blog was at the time and had no intention of ever really writing one, but I knew that I wanted to be able to have my tiny picture pop up next to blog post comments and in order to do that, I needed a blogspot name (yes, times have changed).

That was nearly ten years ago, which makes me an ancient grandma in the blogging world. Pinterest  and Instagram (find me here) weren’t even a thought and I hadn’t even started a Facebook account yet. Those of us who began blogging back then are like the ones who trudged through miles of snow to get to school and can speak to all the changes we’ve seen. It’s such a privilege to have been on the cusp of this whole new way of life – social media has changed everything – and we are able to learn, create, connect and discover so much because of it.

I’ve had a vast array of amazing opportunities through blogging. From speaking and writing to brand spokesperson positions, I’ve traveled throughout the US with my blog.

The biggest thing I wish I could change would be to go back to the “old” days of blogging before everything needed to be magazine quality and there were so many different social media platforms added. My blog grew because of the real life, authentic nature of sharing life with readers and that’s still my heart. Community actually occurred in the comments, meaningful discussions took place and believe it or not, lots of real life friends were made just from that. Now it’s become very competitive and it’s hard to keep up because so much emphasis is placed on the “image” of varying platforms with perfectly photographed, pinterest perfect living.

For me, my desire is that when you meet me in real life, you will feel like you’ve known me forever and I’m exactly the same online as I am in person. I will never stop encouraging women to embrace life right where they’re embracing authentic lives with laundry piled on the sofa and all. Unfortunately, it means that creating beautifully pin-able photos isn’t my forte like the other mentors, but sharing life in abundance? I’m your girl.  And hopefully, my someday dream of building a large barn/event venue will allow for us to all hang out more regularly on our homestead. 




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