Tag Archives: Believe

If I’m Bloggin’ – I’m Happy!

Or in my case tonight, by my giant nine-year-old
Or the “almost as tall as me” nine-year-old

It feels like I’m on holiday right now; even though my nine-year-old is restlessly karate chopping me in his sleep while his sister strategically positioned her feet  near my head. I’m happy. They’re both sleeping and I finally have a moment to breathe, relax and blog.

I’ve been craving to write a good blog entry for weeks! About anything, everything and nothing at all. So much is happening everyday. If I don’t take time to write it down, type it out; I feel like these moments will be lost forever.

85bfcd7befabe015abeb3a1570349c48 - Version 2In January I stood in the middle of seated room of 300, in New York City, to have a fifteen minute conversation – live, in front of everyone, while being video recorded – with one of my everyday heroes; dating and life coach Matthew Hussey. Hussey told me point blank if I continue to sacrifice my love life for the sake of my children’s happiness I’m going to “fuck them up” and cause more damage than good in the long run. His rationale was that they would see their “mum” putting them first and never putting my own romantic happiness in the forefront. Leading my kiddos to believe it was what they were supposed to do as adults. Food for thought. Thank you for that Mr. Hussey, you’ve given me plenty to think about.

Two weeks ago, I traveled from Virginia to Maryland to Massachusetts in one day…by car…toting my children along for most of the journey. One of my best friends crossed the stage at her college graduation in Virginia Beach. I was not only there for moral support but to embarrass the bajeezus out of her by screaming out “I LOVE YOU KRISTIN!” in a very crowded, semi-quiet, stadium size, campus auditorium. Because hellerrrr, that’s what best friends do woman!

It was no small feat for a single mother of two to graduate with honors. I’m still so proud of you Snookum Snookums! When you’ve been friends as long as we have, and know as much as we know about each-other, you come up with silly nick names. It’s out of love, don’t judge.

Mama's first Sox game at Fenway, woot woot! #SOXNATION
Mama’s first Sox game at Fenway, woot woot! #SOXNATION

In April, I finally attended my first Sox game (SOX NATION!) and with the only person in this world I could imagine being there with; my son. I also started a kickass internship with quite possibly some of the most intelligent, interesting and charismatic people I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with – acting as an intern and conservation writer for the US Fish and Wildlife Service WordPress blog.

This past Saturday, I pet a Madagascar hissing cockroach. Or as my threenager (about to be four) put it, a “kissing hockroach.” My son rocked it out at both of his soccer games this weekend. My daughter painted her little heart out designing faerie houses for our garden.

Some of our faerie garden supplies, my daughter walked off with the rest. And that glue...definitely got returned. Warning labels about hazardous fumes should probably be written on the FRONT of the bottle somewhere...not on back behind the packaging.
Some of our faerie garden supplies, my daughter walked off with the rest. And that glue…definitely got returned. Warning labels about hazardous fumes should probably be written on the FRONT of the bottle somewhere…not on back behind the packaging.

My 2015 memory box is already flooded with so many invaluable treasures from beautiful moments. And it’s only June 2. I can’t wait to see what the rest of the year holds!

A beautiful life isn’t built in a day. A beautiful life, to me, is made moment by moment – when you do that thing you’re afraid of doing, say the thing you fear being criticized for and expand your mindset beyond society’s limitations.

One moment can lead to even greater moment, a connection with a person you may not have met which can lead to a job and/or career choice you never thought you’d have the opportunity to make. It’s all about choice. Will you choose to stay within the boundaries of your self-inflicted comfort zone? Or will you break free and shatter the parameters of your own fears?

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Check Out My Port! (part 2)

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Between cooking Chicken Marsala (I’m just saying, it’s kind of a big deal. If I could marry my marsala, it would be on like Donkey Kong) and the weather becoming much warmer–I quickly changed into a tank top as the kitchen started heating up tonight. 

Looking at my reflection in the bathroom mirror, seeing my bare shoulders in a tank top again, with that protruding triangular shaped mound just sitting there; really got me thinking. My surgeon has given the go ahead for port removal; it’s been in place for 15 months now. I’m already 7 months out from completing treatment…7 months!

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Change is the evolution of life right? But I’ve become attached to my port. It’s just as much a part of me as my hair or skin. What’s it going to feel like when I don’t have a port anymore?  What will it be like looking in the mirror to see a fading scar where an obvious prominence used to be? To not have to wear my seatbelt a different way for comfort? For my daughter to say “Mommy, where did your port go?” To not get stared at in public by total strangers who don’t always know what a port even is? To not see my oncology nurses every 6 to 8 weeks for a port flush? To go to the lab for routine blood draws, instead of to the nurses in the infusion suite?

Port removal is a major milestone as a cancer patient. When your oncologist and surgeon are in agreement that it’s time to take out the port, it’s this hopeful intention that you’re going to be healthy long term. It’s their way of saying a patient is in a good place of survivorship.

Having my port removed isn’t just letting go of what was, it’s moving forward into what will be. Living my best life, one day healthier and stronger at a time.

chemo-portCheck out my port! Pretty gross and extremely fascinating at the same time. Especially when you consider that it’s sitting under my skin at this very moment. Having a port is kind of like having a tattoo, you forget that it’s there. Except, unlike a tattoo, I get reminded each time I buckle my driver’s side seat belt, get dressed in front of a mirror or get hugged way too hard. The hugging doesn’t hurt, it just gives you this feeling of “Oh hey I remember that! The chemo thing my surgeon stuck in a blood vessel X amount of months ago.”

Pay It Forward :)

My children and I were getting a little stir crazy last week. We have a pretty busy schedule but the routine of it all gets a bit overwhelming sometimes. I’m the kind of person who needs adventure, variety, to not be doing the same thing each day. Since my son has something going on every day after school Monday through Friday…every…single…week…it gets to be monotonous.

I was looking forward to coming home and throwing on my jammies after my son’s appointment that day. A few days earlier, the Patriots won their game against the Ravens. Which meant that one of my son’s fave local restaurants was serving up the kids menu for free all day! No, it’s not organic but I figure once in a great while won’t hurt anything. My son was oober excited so I didn’t have the heart to tell him I’d rather come home than go out to eat that night.

We left my son’s appointment later that night, heading to the restaurant. Dom (my son) and Izzy (my daughter) were so well behaved I thought I must have walked right into the Twilight Zone for sure! I mean one behaving okay, but both of them? Wow. Not only were they behaving but they were entertaining each-other and the surrounding tables with their comical theatrics.

(SIDE NOTE: Izzy is obsessed with Disney’s Frozen right now. Absolutely obsessed in every sense of the word. To the point where normal everyday conversations become lines from Frozen. Last night when I told her it was bedtime, she went to run away from me and said “Mommy, you have to tell me ‘Elsa stop!’ okay?” Then tonight she went to kiss me. Lovingly, she placed a hand on each of my cheeks. Looking into my eyes with a kissey face on her lips, she said “Oh Ana, if only someone out there loved you.” [this is what Hans says to Ana in the movie for those of you who haven’t seen it] This was followed by excessive giggling and “Oh Mommy! I’m such a little stinker huh?!?” Like I said, obsessed!)

Anyhow, she was belting out “Let It Go” in her loudest Disney princess voice as we waited for our food. I leaned in close to her and let her know she needed to use her quiet, inside voice to sing. This little goofball looked me square in the face, laughed out loud and then (in a very not so quiet, outside voice) said “Mommy! I farted! Oh what’s that smell?!?! Who did that?!?”

On their way out, a couple I’ve known well over 15 years stopped by our booth to say hello. They had been sitting in the back of the restaurant (unbeknownst to me since my back was facing them). I hadn’t seen them in years. It was great reconnecting with them over pictures of their grandchildren, joking about the times we had when I used to work for them. They each got a huge hug from me before going on their way.

Me and the kids went back to our meal. I kept thinking how I was going to leave a pretty sweet tip for our server. He brewed a fresh pot of coffee for me, brought my soup out as soon as it was done (still piping hot) and kept our “to go” order of ice cream in the freezer so we could pick it up on the way out. All without me asking. It was such a great night. The energy was light, care free.

When it came time for the check, our server told me that the couple I had been speaking with earlier picked up our tab. Even gratuity had been covered. I was speechless.

So this is my message to you. As we all start off 2015, let’s start it off right. PAY IT FORWARD! A simple act of random kindness doesn’t have to be done for someone you know. That’s the joy in it. You don’t have to be dough loaded to make a difference. Sending a personalized “thank you” or “thinking of you” note/card can be all it takes.

Whatever you put out into the Universe comes back to you, I truly believe that! It may not be today or even next week (well…for some people it might) but at some point there’s a boomerang effect. When someone does something special for you, keep that good deed moving forward. Do something selfless for another. You’d be surprised how much a simple act of kindness can change someone’s day for the better 🙂

Gratitude, Day 17:

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DAY 17:

Wednesday/September 24:

To say I’ve been fortunate in family-life, would be an eloquent understatement. The past ten months, since my cancer diagnosis, has brought the ones I love even closer to me. They have gone above and beyond to lift my spirits; providing love and laughter. Sharing in my tears, providing an ear or two to listen, cooking dinners, watching my two young children when fatigue kept me in bed for hours on end.

They’re my earth-bound angels, every single one of them. From my aunt and uncle and parents who were there at the hospital with me the day I underwent major surgery. To my sister, her best friend and my niece–who all helped look after my children while I was in the hospital recovering. My siblings accompanying me to chemo treatments. Friends sharing funny videos and quotes on social networking sites. My ex-husband’s family, sending prayers and their love. My children guiding me through, tethering me to life, allowing me to live in present moments of sheer joy.

First thing Wednesday morning, upon waking, I meditated as usual. Then checked into Facebook to find myself tagged in a post by one of my nieces. A few friends and family members have been nominating each-other, myself included, for daily gratitude postings on Facebook. It helps keep the positive energy flowing. There are so many negative things that social media can be used for. We choose to keep it uplifting with moments of gratitude and motivational quotes.

After reading my niece’s post, you’ll understand just how my gratitude moment went “from a trickle to a roar!” as the fairies of Pixie Hollow say 🙂

“I am greatful for my aunt Amber …for being the kick ass super women she is! She has been through soooo much over the past couple years or more and you would never know. She has such a great spirit true definition of a FIGHTER! Anything she has set out to accomplish has been accomplished. Her love for life and all it has to give her is something to admire. Her never ending faith that every little thing is gonna be alright. ..the fact that she has gone through 12 chemo sessions and came out with an even better love for life and with her beautiful smile even brighter. She is so positive and full of love …I myself have no idea how she does the things she does and still can be “our Amber” . With this said I am greatful that she has shown cancer who is boss and continued to raise two kids on her own! That’s what our family calls Amber Strong. ..so my beautiful amazing aunt I love you sooo and I am blessed for you and all you have conquered!”

Thank you for posting what you did darlin’, love you kiddo!

Gratitude Day 10: Chemo Graduation Day!!! (9/17/2014)

 

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(Above: My twelfth and FINAL chemotherapy treatment! These are five of the nurses who were responsible for my care during treatments. Absolutely love these women! More like a second family to me than anything else)
(Below: My mother was holding back tears in this photo. It was such an emotional day for all of us; the nurses, my mother and myself.)
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The day before yesterday was my twelfth and final chemotherapy session. On the way to the hospital, one of my favorite songs came on the radio. It was one of those divine timing kind of things. The song was “Hey Jude” by the Beatles. I grew up listening to the Beatles, Aretha Franklin, The Rolling Stones and the Supremes. The song took me back to my childhood. I thought of the loved ones I’ve lost, imagining they were there with me. Angels by my side, protecting and encouraging me.

The nurses grew accustom to my goofy shenanigans over the last seven plus months. My first day of chemo, one of them pulled back the curtain to my little infusion cubicle to find my mother and I taking “chemo selfies.” In the very beginning, there were all kinds of jokes about the IV pole that held up the chemo bag & other meds. “The only pole you’ll ever need to dance with,” and so many others. I even got my sister in on it a few times, not the dancing, just the joking.

One day I noticed how the base of the IV pole branched out like spider legs, with eight wheels, one at each end of the metal extensions. After that I thought, I am so using this thing as a skateboard! Luckily, I didn’t want to be a bad influence on the other patients or I would have followed through with it.

When I pulled out a graduation cap, yesterday, and a huge sign to hold up during photos–the nurses weren’t the least bit surprised. “You know me ladies! Wouldn’t be me if I didn’t go out with a bang!” We all laughed as we tried not to cry. After photos, I couldn’t hold back the tears for long. I hugged each of the nurses. Every single hug released more tears from both me and the nurses. These women wrapped their arms around me with such compassion and hope. They were there for me, taking care of me for nearly eight months now. My heroic, healthcare, champions.

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Nearly eight months of chemo, finally reached completion. The euphoria I felt upon returning home that day, indescribable. I felt cleansed of all negativity. Triumphant, that I never gave up on myself or my will to survive. I came so close to quitting around my six and seventh sessions. When I reached treatment number ten, I knew I had to press on. I gave it everything I had, to keep the crazy train moving forward until I reached Grand Sanity Station.

There’s no way I could have gotten through this without the emotional support I received from friends, family, total strangers and my healthcare team. I mean, I’m sure I would have found some way to get through this process.

All I know, is that between maintaining a positive attitude and having this massive emotional-safety-net to hold me up, I got through it. I’ve managed to kick 2014’s ass between being a full-time single mother, part-time student and a cancer patient. I did it all with a heart full of gratitude and a belly full of laughter.

Of course there were tears shed here and there, I’m only human after all. On the drive home from the hospital, I did my best not to cry in front of my mom. When I cry, she cries and vice versa. I was just so elated, ecstatic, joyful to be done with chemotherapy treatments. So indescribably grateful to the Universe that I made it this far, that it was finally over.

My mother looked at me and said, “You know Amber, it’s okay to cry. For someone who’s been through as much as you have, I don’t think you’ve cried enough.”

Such a surreal experience, like living through a lucid dream. Even though I had symptoms of a “dis-eased” body, went through chemotherapy and major surgery–the fact that I had cancer still doesn’t truly resonate with me. I had cancer? It doesn’t even feel right saying it. Throughout this entire process, I’ve held the visualization of my body being whole. I’ve seen myself as a healthy individual, with a strong body and a sharp mind.

Even on the days that I felt like poo, yes I said poo. (When you find yourself spelling out cuss words…in front of other adults…with no children present…sure sign of being a parent!) Even on those days when I felt like never getting out of bed, I still saw myself with an image of wholeness and full health. I visualized how good it would feel to not have to take a week off from the gym, twice a month, because of chemo. Or the energy I would have to keep up with my children, everyday, not just the weeks that I didn’t go through treatment. I imagined all the free time I would have when I no longer needed to have so many trips to the hospital. I practiced gratitude and thanked the Universe for healing my body, for putting the right people on my path to uplift my spirit.

Chemo is done now but I still have the road to recovery to embark upon. For the next two to three years, I have to go in every three months for routine blood work. My surgeon, who removed the tumor, has me scheduled every three months as well–for the next 18 months. There’s also the oncologist, GI specialist and my primary care physician who I’ll have to follow up with for the next two to three years.

As with all endings, come new beginnings. Finishing chemo feels like a period of great change. I’m entering survivorship now but it’s so much more than that. This isn’t just the beginning of a new chapter; it’s a brand new book altogether. My spirit, my soul, has been transformed. This end only marks the beautiful beginning of the best years of my life and the lives of my children. In the words of Old Blue Eyes, “The best is yet to come and babe won’t that be fine?”