Tag Archives: Survivor

Failure; The Warrior’s Prelude to Success

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Show me a person who thinks that failure isn’t an option and I’ll show you a person who never grows. We are are so terrified of failing and rejection as a society, conditioned to strive for perfection. Yet if we stay within our comfort zone, stick to what we know we won’t fail at, countless opportunities are lost. Opportunities for growth, for new friendships to develop, for romantic relationships to begin. Fear of failure can cause us to miss out on an extraordinary life.

The failures I’ve experienced; heartache, rejection, emotional, physical and financial struggle – they’ve all conditioned me to work harder on myself, to FIGHT for my dreams to become a reality. Failure has forced me to be my own hero, to stand up and take MASSIVE action toward living a life of deep soul fulfillment.

In 2010, as I studied Veterinary Medicine to become a Veterinary Technician, I knew it was what my family wanted. I loved working as a Veterinary Assistant and thought the next logical step was to become a technician. Nearing the end of the program, however, I felt a great discomfort in my heart.

It wasn’t what I wanted.

My soul longed to study writing, to somehow earn a degree in the field that allowed me to use my gifts, to further cultivate an art that had been an early childhood passion of mine. In the meantime, I was having difficulty passing one of my veterinary courses. When I went to speak with an advisor, serendipitously laying there on the office table was a handout about the college’s Creative Writing degree program.

The same day, I brought the handout home and shared the pull I felt to change my major with my mom. Our conversation left me disheartened. “You’ve worked so hard for your degree already honey. I’d hate to see you have to start all over again, you’re almost done,” she told me.  She meant well, as most mothers do, but my heart was heavy with disappointment.

At the same time, I was in the early stages of pregnancy with my daughter. The smell of chemicals in the anatomy lab, not to mention morning sickness and fatigue, caused me to fall behind in the veterinary course I was already having trouble with. It was my second time attempting to pass. If my heart hadn’t been so dead set on becoming a writer, maybe I would have tried harder. I did end up passing the class with a C- but because the program required passing with a C or better, I was forced to leave the program.

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The following semester I changed my major to Creative Writing. It led me to taking an introduction to journalism class on campus. With a “little” encouragement from a wonderfully stubborn teacher, Professor Cooksey, I became Features Editor of the campus paper.

After graduating with a 4.0, I transferred in the Fall to a four-year Journalism program at the local University. The Travel Writing course I took, as part of the program,  allowed me to travel to Sicily for ten days with a dynamic group of classmates – who I’m proud to say I’m still friends with four years later. Studying Journalism helped me obtain a paid internship with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, as a conservation writer, for 14 months.

For one of my journalism classes I had to write a story about sick-time-leave in the workplace. I interviewed my mom’s boss for the story, who told me about a local bar that offered live music. A few months later, I interviewed the bar’s owner to write a feature story for the same journalism class. Because of that interview, I ended up receiving a call from the owner six months later about an available bartending position. I’ve worked there, part-time, for two and half years now.  The stories of incredible souls I’ve met through that job alone would take SEVERAL more blog posts.

Through working at the bar, I discovered “Unbuttoned, An Evening of Spoken Word.” An open mic night hosted at the bar, the first Tuesday of every month, just for writers. This event brought me to speaking with a woman, the first night I performed, who invited me to join a small group of other women writers who meet once a month as well. Remarkably, we’ve been taking spin class together for months and had no idea that either one of us were writers! Because of joining this group, I’ll be performing poetry in April at an annual fundraising event ran by the woman who hosts our women writers group.

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When we surrender to our purpose, miracles happen. Growing up I always heard, “You’ll never make a living as a writer.” Even my professors cautioned, “Until you write what your editor wants you to write, and write it well, you won’t be able to write the stories you really want to and get paid for them.”

We have to expect more from ourselves than anyone else could possibly expect. I’m a single mom of two, working two part-time jobs to support my babes, soon to be three…part-time jobs, not babes.  The gym is my second home, I’m there six days a week. Every day I schedule in time for priming, gratitude meditation, journaling and podcasts or reading. Some days I don’t get to do all of them, but most days I do. If someone like me with a super busy schedule can make time to feed my passion, there should be no doubt in your mind that you can too.

“I don’t have time,” “They say I can’t,” “I don’t have the money,” “I’ve had a hard life.”

Guess what? We ALL have a story.

Every…

single…

one…

of…

us.

Don’t let your story become the excuse that makes you miss out on an extraordinary life. Stop telling yourself you can’t. Stop letting your fear of failure hold you back.

Take back control of your life, take massive action and make shit happen. It’s not going to happen overnight. It’s taken years of work behind the scenes to get to where I’m going. Even once I get there, there’s going to be new mountains to climb. New goals to conquer, to create. But I’m not giving up, I’m not backing down. I’m taking what’s mine, and I want you to know YOU CAN TOO. I believe in YOU. Believe in the dream you have for yourself, immerse yourself in whatever knowledge you need to make it happen and then take the initiative to get shit done. YOU’VE GOT THIS!!!

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Celebrating Two Years Cancer Free

The day before yesterday, 12-12-16, was my Two-Year-Cancerversary. It was also Frank Sinatra’s Birthday. Lucky coincidence? I think not.

It’s been two years since a follow up colonoscopy, post chemo completion, deemed me cancer free. What a feeling 🙂strength

How did I spend the day celebrating? The night before I attended a Reiki share with some fellow Reiki practitioners. It left me feeling super charged and ready to take on the day Monday. My Cancerversary itself was spent outdoors in the snow, acting like a five-year-old with the best teacher: my five-year-old daughter Izzy.

We built a snowman, as she yelled at me to stop singing Frozen’s “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?” Not sure if it was my singing or her inner demolition queen but our snowman didn’t stay assembled long. The Madd Queen from Alice in Wonderland may as well have shouted “Off with His Head!” Because that’s exactly what my sweet, little Izzy did. Without haste she belly-flopped into the snowman. His mid-section was transformed into a powdery mist, his head airborn as it propelled toward my dog – an innocent bystandard caught in the midst of our snowtastrophe. After we made snow angels, our leggings were so caked over snow clumps we had no choice but to go in the house and change. .

Honoring the parts of my life that mean the most; quality time with my love bug being one of them

Two years ago I wouldn’t have been able to be outside with either one of my children in Winter. The side effects of chemo made it impossible for me to touch anything below room temperature, about 65 degrees. On a cold day, even touching the glass slider that led out to the patio, would cause INTENSE pain in my fingertips.  Nevermind what going outside in the snow would have done to me.

I’m reminded of that every winter. The precious gift of life I have. The gifts of health, of strength, of family and the immense support and love of my friends and family. I’m reminded of what truly matters. The cold reminds me of how far I’ve come, of the mighty giant I battled and won. Winning isn’t everything though. It’s the lessons I took away from that battle more than anything that keep me grounded, that remind me to keep a grateful heart and never forget those who were there for me while I faced my darkest hour.

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‘Tis the season…for a healthy colon…Part 2

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As my mother drove us home, I answered a call from one of my older brothers. “Hey Wonder Woman!” It had become his new nickname for me since I began going through cancer care. “Hulkster!” Yeah, that’s right, Wonder Woman and the Hulk. Cheesy as it sounds, that’s how we roll!

My brother is a man of few words. But I know him well enough to know just how elated he was by the news. Over the last year, I could hear the concern in his voice more than once when we spoke about my treatment or diagnosis. As hard as it was for me to go through, I think it may have been even harder for friends and family to witness. Sitting by the sidelines, watching someone you love battle a potentially life-threatening disease, unable to do more than offer your emotional support…it’s heart-wrenching.

The holidays will be so different for my family and I this year. I was diagnosed five days before Christmas last year and went in for surgery on New Year’s Eve. I only shared the news with my siblings, parents and a few other friends and relatives until after the holidays. I had battled the decision to tell everyone via Facebook but didn’t know if I was ready to.

The day after my colon-resection surgery, New Year’s Day, I decided to share my diagnosis with everyone else via social media. The responses ranged from sadness to encouragement. A few people even thought my account had been hacked.

The holidays were a difficult time for us, not knowing what to expect or what the new year would bring. While everyone else was opening gifts and celebrating–my family was sharing tears, facing fear of the unknown. We faced it together as an unbreakable unit but it didn’t make it any less concerning.

This year, I’ll be spending the holidays without fear of the future. I am so eager to see what the new chapters of my life will bring. I’ve already been graced with meeting so many like-minded individuals. Like-minded, in the sense that we share passion for living extraordinary lives. I’m not content to live a life by the nine to five standard  that society says I should. Cancer has catapulted me full force into tapping into the energy of creativity, of visualizing a beautiful life of my own doing. I can hardly wait to see what 2015 brings. I look forward not with anxiety, fear or worry but with clarity, eagerness and anticipation. Bring it on Universe! I am so ready 🙂

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‘Tis the season…for a healthy colon…Part 1

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The Fall semester of school is finally coming to a close! You know what that means, more time for blogging! Yippee!

I’ve missed blogging and tracking the progress of everything going on in my life. As I continue to make transformational changes emotionally and physically, moving forward, I know I’m exactly where I’m meant to be…blessings are everywhere, in everyday moments and I am so undeniably thankful.

Yesterday was a huge milestone for me. It was my first colonoscopy, post-diagnosis. My official one year cancerversary isn’t until Dec. 20, 2014 but who’s counting right? (Ah yeah, that would be this girl over here!)

This week also happened to be finals week on campus, having time to worry about my upcoming procedure wasn’t really a thought. Between chauffeuring my son to basketball practice and martial arts training, working on final projects for school, and trying to plan out next semester’s course load; my mind was already running on overdrive. Then my son brought home a respiratory virus, that has since been passed along to my daughter. Add in the two of them taking turns with who can’t sleep through the night, well, you get the idea. It’s been a week of relatively organized chaos for sure!

It wasn’t until yesterday morning rolled around that I began thinking about the gravity of how this colonoscopy could potentially affect my life. If it went one way, I would be deemed “cancer free” and wouldn’t have to have another colonoscopy for another year, at least. But if there was something there; a polyp, another tumor, a growth, unhealthy tissue–I honestly couldn’t even fathom what that would mean.

Everything went as scheduled. I arrived a few minutes late for my 7:55 a.m. check in, got changed into a hospital gown and followed the medical assistant to my hospital bed. There I met with several lovely people who would be part of my procedure that morning; the anesthesiologist, the nurse who would be monitoring my vitals, another nurse who administered the IV into my port (“That is one prominent port you have there! That’s wonderful!” she said) and another woman who I believe was also part of the anesthesia team.

As I spoke with the nurses, we laughed and made jokes with one another using jargon that only cancer patients and their medical team understand. “Now do you typically use Emla?,” one of the nurses asked. I told her through chemotherapy I swore by it. (Emla is a numbing cream used by some patients to numb the site of their port prior about an hour or so prior to it being accessed. Otherwise you get a little bee-sting type feeling when the needle goes into your port. We discussed the type of chemotherapy I was given, “5FU, Leucovorin and Oxaliplatin?” “Yup, that’s the one! With a 48-hour take home pump.”

She went on to tell me that her husband had experienced his own cancer journey. One morning on their way to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, her hubby nearly had a meltdown at the thought of having forgotten to put Emla cream on his port. I can’t say I’d be in disagreement with him. Emla is the best thing since sliced bread! Especially since it makes being turned into a human pin-cushion far more bearable.

One of the nurses and one of the anesthesiologists whisked me away to the procedure room, gurney and all. They positioned me on my left side in the bed, as the Gastroenterologist (Dr. S, I’ll call her), came into the room.

If you haven’t read any of my previous posts about Dr. S, let me tell you, I absolutely LOVE this woman’s energy! From the moment I met with her, prior to my cancer diagnosis, I was sold. She has this way of talking to patients that puts you at ease. She’s always upbeat, full of good energy, and extremely down to earth.

The anesthesiologist counted some deep breaths with me, slowly, in and out. Before I knew it, I woke up in the recovery room. My vision was still hazy as I came to but I overheard Dr. S speaking to my mother. There was a smile in her voice as she said “Everything looks great! Nothing but good news to report, she did extremely well and everything is healthy and normal looking.”

My mom was overjoyed. I couldn’t see her yet but I could hear the happiness in her voice, I would have hugged her if I wasn’t so out of it.