Well, my 31 day challenge lasted exactly 2 days. Seriously. I got distracted. Between my health issues (total copout) and life as a mom and wife, well I just didn’t make time for it. I am looking at joining a writing group. Hoping that will spark my creativity with writing prompts. Sometimes I lack what to write about but mostly I think I lack designated time to write uninterrupted. Girl uninterrupted. That is what I desire. Until then…….
Thankfully the 31 Day Challenge officially starts on October 1 and I as getting a head start. I already missed Day 2! There just was no time to write yesterday. Well, other than if I had set an alarm and gotten up earlier or if I had stayed up past my bedtime and wrote then. As you can see, that didn’t happen.
So back to my questions. Where did I leave off? Am I the friend I want to be? Am I the woman I want to be? I am sure there are more areas of my life that could be brought into question. For the sake of time and to not beat a dead horse with this one way of discovering me, I will answer these two and move on to other avenues of discovery.
2016 has been an interesting year for me and for my family. On January 11, 2016 I was officially told that I had breast cancer. DCIS and IDC in the right breast that was triple positive and grade 3. DCIS stands for Ductal Carcinoma In Situ. IDC stands for Invasive Ductal Carcinoma and means some cancer cells had moved outside of the duct. Triple positive refers to the fact that my cancer cells tested positive for Estrogen, Progesterone and HER2. Apparently my cells fed off of my own hormones and protein to help them grow and multiply at a fast rate. Grade 3 on a scale of 1-4 determines how aggressive my type of cancer was. Plainly said it was aggressive. The good news was we caught it REALLY early. It was classified as Stage 1. It would have been Stage 0 except it was just slightly over the maximum size for that stage. It could have been Stage 2 but thankfully it had not spread to my lymph nodes and the size was small enough to stay in the Stage 1 category. With early detection and aggressive treatment my outlook is extremely bright!
In light of the treatment that lay ahead I set up a Helping Hands Calendar. A friend of a friend had told me about it when we were emailing about cancer treatment. It sounded like a terrific idea. You set up a calendar and post your needs for rides to Dr Appt, treatment, meals to be delivered, house cleaning, whatever. People can sign up for whatever items fit their schedule, budget and energy/commitment level. You don’t have to ask and hear no or call 10 different people trying to find someone who can help you. And your friends don’t have to feel guilty saying no. It is perfect in my opinion. In setting it up I realized that I had to invite people to join the calendar as it is private. Here is where I got a little nervous. Who would want to be added to my calendar? What if no one did? Or only a couple of friends. What if I was asking for too much help? I made a post on Facebook explaining what I was doing and asking anyone who wanted to be added to reply to my post. The response blew me out of the water! When all was said and done I had 72 friends signed up on the Helping Hands Calendar. The biggest complaint I got was that every time they logged in to sign up all of the opportunities were already taken. I’m not joking, they complained. My hear was beyond overwhelmed with how people responded. I posted this on Facebook and several friends told me something along these lines, “You are one of the most giving, generous people we all know. It is finally time that we can give to you.” A compliment like that was hard for me to receive. I can think of all the times I have failed a friend, didn’t reach out, hurt someone’s feelings, didn’t jump at the chance to help someone because I had too much going on. And here they were telling me that they see all of the times I/we do reach out and help others. If I made a list (I wouldn’t because it would so look like bragging in a terrible way) of all of the things Tom and I have done to help others, it would be long indeed. We don’t do them to earn points or keep a standing record or toot our own horn. We do them out of a sincere appreciation for the life we have, the help I received in the past and the love we want to share. Our friends let us know in a very mighty way that they see that and were standing ready to give back to us. What a joy!
Am I the friend I want to be? If I had answered the question myself I am sure it would have started with the times I have failed and a hope to be an even better friend. Instead I will look to what our friends said and showed us this year and say, Yes I am the friend that I want to be. I hope I continue to be that friend all the more as the years go on.
The last question, Am I the woman I want to be? I will have to answer that one tomorrow as my time for writing today is coming to a close.
Several years ago I often heard a song on the radio and the lyrics went like this, “This is your life. Are you who you want to be?” Honestly, I do not remember much more of the song than that. And yet, those words have stuck with me and run through my mind (in perfect tune) on a semi regular basis. It is almost like my subconscious is checking in with me to see if I am in fact who I want to be. Or maybe it was gently nudging me on this journey that I am finally embarking on to discover who I am.
It seems every time I think those lyrics and take a few moments to contemplate my answer the answer is always that for the most part I am. I’m not unhappy with who I am. I don’t dread getting up each day and doing the things that I need to do that day. I remember a time in my past when that was actually the case. Unlike most people I dreaded Friday with a vengeance and couldn’t wait for Monday to get here. Friday meant that my husband (not the man I am currently married to) would be home for approximately 60 hours straight. And every single one of those hours I would spend tip toeing lightly through the mine field we called home. I would expend pain staking effort to think and re think every comment or question I was about to speak in order to play out in my mind what his anticipated response might be in order to avoid setting off an explosion if at all possible. I would navigate through each hour checking the clock repeatedly trying to determine when he might be getting hungry or thirsty, bored or ready for a sweet treat. Anything to keep him on the upswing and avoid the down swing that would lead to him turning on me with a verbal rage that would put most drill sergeants and interrogators to shame. Each night I would crawl into bed and will myself to sleep. My hope would be that the hours throughout the night would somehow defy time and slow down. I would pray that morning would not come too soon. I have wondered if I had asked myself back then if I was who I wanted to be if my answer would still have been yes, only wishing the me I was were living a different life.
Today as I contemplate the question I find myself thinking of the character qualities I see in myself. I could simplify the question or separate it into categories if you will. Am I the wife I want to be. For the most part yes, I think. However, there are some heart issues and character qualities that I definitely need to work on. I am learning that I do not always fight fairly. Not that my husband and I fight often, but we do tend to disagree or not see eye to eye on how some things should be handled whether that be with the children, finances or the rental properties that we own and manage. It is in those moments when I am pleading my case as to what I think should be happening that I tend to throw a low blow in now and then. No sooner have I struck the man I love with some unexpected verbal assault that inwardly I feel horrible. Why am I hurting the one person that I love more than any other in the whole entire world? The one person that I run to at any given moment if I am in need. The one that if my heart is breaking I want him to comfort me, even when he is the one who has broken my heart. The one that I enjoying walking hand in hand with at any give moment of every single day even if we just did it yesterday. And so, if I am an honest, no I am not the wife that I want to be. I want to be the wife whose joy runneth over and sustains her in times of weakness such as a disagreement with her husband. The wife who respects her husband and shows him that she does in the way she speaks to him in good times and bad times.
Am I the Mother that I want to be? Hmmm…. in so many ways yes. In fact this year I have made it an even greater priority to be present in our son’s life. I already was that parent who advocated for our son’s education at school, volunteered in the classroom, drove him to soccer or baseball practice unless Tom could and walked him to and from school. I enjoy watching our son in all that he does. There have been times in the past when work appointments would come up and cause me to choose between helping a client or going to one of Michael’s soccer matches or baseball games. This year I laid all work aside after being diagnosed with breast cancer in January. I can see the day so clearly. On January 11th, 2016 Tom and I entered the nurses office where we were to hear my results. I had a gut feeling the results would say I did in fact have cancer. Still standing, I heard the nurse say that my results were positive for breast cancer. As I put my hands on either arm of the chair that I was about to sit in I asked her which breast as they had tested both. My next thought was that I would not be working for the rest of the year but that I would take the time I needed to fight cancer and be present in my families lives. After the appointment Tom and I went to lunch and that is what I shared with him. Sticking with that commitment to myself hasn’t been easy. Work has tried to squeeze its way back in and I relented and began to give of myself to clients. It wasn’t long before the effects of the stress began to manifest in a physical way as my body, mind and emotions became overwhelmed. The time that I have spent with Michael has been priceless. Not perfect, but priceless. I have had my moments where I have become inpatient with him when he was not doing as he was told or when he was acting out. In some of those times I have become angry and hollered at him only to regret it as soon as the words left my mouth. I have been impatient with him. And other times I have given in to his requests for more electronics time solely to give myself some peace and quiet. I know, some of you are sitting there reading this and thinking, who is she kidding? We have all done that! I know, I know. And yet, if I am honest with myself these are the things I want to be better at. Patient in stressful times. Loving and kind yet firm in our standards of how our kids should behave at home and in public. I want to be that mom that not only advocates for my son’s needs but also stands firm on healthy boundaries around TV time, electronics time, content of YouTube videos, etc to help mold and shape the person that our son becomes. All in all my answer to this one would be yes, as long as I continue to work hard to tweak and fine tune the parts of being a mother that I feel I could do better in.
More questions I would ask myself are:
Am I the woman of God that I want to be?
Am I the friend that I want to be?
I will have to resume this in Day 3 of the 31 Days of Writing as I am out of time for today.
A friend of mine posted that she has accepted a 31 Day Challenge. It’s a writing challenge actually. Apparently it’s not new. In fact this is the 8th year this particular site has had this challenge. The challenge starts on October 1st and runs through October 31st. When you accept the challenge you agree to write every day for 31 days on a specific topic you have chosen. Not a different topic every day, but instead something in regards to the same topic every day. I guess in some ways that makes it easy and in some ways it makes it difficult. On the one hand you might think you would run out of things to say about the same topic day after day over the course of 31 days. On the other hand sticking to the same topic means you do not waste time each day determining the basis of your writing. It can also help you go more in depth rather than just touching the surface of a particular topic. I was intrigued by this challenge for many reasons. The most obvious being that I love to write and am always saying that I need to get back to writing. I complain (let’s be honest here, it is complaining) that I do not have or make time each day to write and I wish I could/would. I have promised myself repeatedly that I would make it a priority only to fail time and time again. It always seems there is something else that requires my attention that I deem more important. Another reason I am intrigued is that it gives me a reason to write every day. I mean, who doesn’t love a challenge? If I am challenged to do it then I have to do it! I’m not doing it for me, I’m doing it to fulfill the challenge! The fact that the challenge website gave category and topic suggestions made it all the more easy for me. I perused the ideas and past year bloggers and immediately felt inspired. In a matter of what felt like seconds I knew my topic would be, Discovering Me in 31 Days. The topic is focused enough being about myself and yet broad enough because, who am I anyway? Maybe each day I will ask myself a question and write out the response. Or maybe I will share experiences from the past that have molded and shaped who I am today. Or maybe I will contemplate what hasn’t been, what could be if only and what I would do or be if only there were no limits. The options are endless and only limited by me, my imagination, the time, effort and thought I am willing to put into it. I contemplated joining the challenge through the website as my friend is doing. In order to do so you needed to sign up, create a linky thing that is a button people (other writers) can click on that directs them directly to your 31 days of blogs, and then link up on October 1 and begin writing. Each day that you write you copy and paste the latest days writing to the linky thing so people can read just those posts on your blog. I headed down the road to create the linky thing and determined that part wasn’t for me. Instead I will just write on here for 31 days in the same spirit of sticking to one topic and doing it daily. The hope is not only to discover me but to also begin a habit of daily writing that will lead to a book or two that I have always wanted to write. So, let the journey begin a day or two early as I embark upon Discovering Me in the next 31 (or 35 days).