Friday, July 6, 2018

An Unexpected Year

Ok, so I really did expect 2018 to arrive, but the events in it?  Not so much.  What to do with a year like this one?  I have had to really work on how to have good days in the midst of hard things.  Biopsies, surgeries, treatments, multiple pokings and then a missing dog!  I will be the first to admit that I am not always successful at seeing good days.  Sometimes I lie in bed, or sit in a chair, and just wish everything was "normal".  But I really do believe that Heavenly Father knows what He is doing, and He knows when things are hard for me.  I believe He sends us what we need to get through things, but it is our job to look for those things, and to be grateful for them.  Here are a few things I am thankful for:

1.  People.  Family, friends, medical personnel, neighbors, strangers.  People who are nice.  People who care for other people -- in this case me.  I would not do well without all of the good, kind people I know, and the ones I met, and even the ones I don't know who have smiled and been encouraging in some way.

2.  Music.  Derek gave me Alexa for his birthday (He's nice like that).  I like asking her to play whichever artists I can come up with names for.  I tried David Osmond.  She said, "shuffling songs by David Osmond".  She then proceeded to play exactly one song.   I have listened to it over, and over, and over.   The song is by Shawna Edwards and I love the words. "If we seek the light when peace is hard to find, He'll send us silent nights and touch our ears so we can hear an angel voice.  And in the darkest times He will lift our eyes to see the star still shines."  In the hospital, after some hard days, I was blessed with peaceful nights, and was very thankful. You can listen here.  It will likely give you a commercial first.  Sorry!

3.  Prayers, and the faith of others.  I pray, and it has helped me through some tough things, but the prayers of others helped too, both with my challenges and when Teddy the dog went missing.  We looked for him for hours, and we were all so sad, and I was so discouraged and worried.  Before going to bed on the second night Teddy was missing Dan said, "Mom, I will pray for Teddy again that he will come home -- like I prayed last night.  When I prayed last night I got a warm feeling, so I think he will be okay and will come home.  I don't know when.  But he will come home."  I am so thankful for the faith of my 11 year old!  I needed it in that moment.  Today, when I was out looking for Teddy and praying aloud asking if Heavenly Father could please just have Teddy walk home -- Teddy walked home.
Even in a "normal" year I am thankful for the things listed above, but in an unexpected year, or more accurately a year with many unexpected challenges, my need for these things is magnified, and hopefully my gratitude for them is too.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Doing The Best I Can At Any Given Moment

Derek and Me at the State Capital when he took me away from my stresses for a weekend.
Derek, Jake, Kayli, Dan and Me on Derek's and My 30th anniversary weekend at Capital Reef.

I want to write today, which doesn't happen a lot lately.  I feel like I haven't given a general update in a very long time.  I think I reported the very good news that the cancer I had is gone.  There was also the, to me, extremely good news that they didn't do an unnecessary mastectomy.  Then came the time to recover from surgery and to start seeing oncologists for follow up preventative treatments.

I have dealt with the unfortunate side effect of surgery, which was pain.  It had finally started to ease up when radiation started.  Now there is the unfortunate side effect of radiation.  I am burnt.  It feels like a bad sunburn, but instead of knowing it will fade in a couple of days, I know instead that it will get worse before it gets better.  Clothing hurts, but don't worry!  I still choose to wear clothes every day!

I opted to keep getting my allergy shots this year in the hopes that I will continue to be able to eat watermelon and avocados and other raw fruits and vegetables once this year is over.  That means that along with getting my blood drawn every week for the radiologist, I get two shots at least every other week.  I also get my blood drawn an extra time if I go visit the medical oncologist.  I try to be a really good sport about all of the poking, but it is possible I am starting to whine when they are taking my blood again!!!

I am more than halfway done with radiation (I have done 20 out of 33 treatments).  I have made friends of the nice people who help me there, and of the lady at the front desk who had breast cancer in the past, and whose daughter found out today she'd need a biopsy.  It makes it easier to go to treatment when everyone smiles and waves and is happy to see me every single day.

My family and extended family have been great.  My friends have been awesome.  I have tried to turn as many of my radiation trips as I can into happy adventures.  I try to let myself rest when I am exhausted, and I do my best to take care of my responsibilities.  I still absolutely do not like to ask for help.  I feel like a two year old who wants to yell "I can do it myself!!!"  even when I really can't.  I have been thankful for sisters-in-law who have just volunteered, and for a husband who has taken off of work he doesn't really have time to take off from to come sit in a doctors office with me so I won't feel alone and overwhelmed.  My friend Shellie came with me once too when Derek couldn't.

When I realized that I was struggling to have good days I read a book by Emily Freeman called "Seeing Good Days" and it reminded me to try looking at things from a different perspective.  It really did help me when I realized that I had chosen radiation even though I still rebel against it in my mind, and that I have the choice how I deal with it.  I can deal with it by turning inward and feeling sad and sorry for myself (which still happens sometimes), or by trying to turn something that is hard for me into something good for those around me.  I have tried to do that and I have received a lot of kindness in return.  The book also reminded me to look for tender mercies from Heavenly Father every day, and they are there.  When I look, I find them.

Once radiation is done there will be a hysterectomy to effectively "turn off" the estrogen made by my ovaries, and then some drugs to turn off the rest.  Again, this was my choice.  I could have tried juggling different drugs, but this option sounded "easiest" for me.

I still cry because I think I "should handle this better", or "it shouldn't be so hard and I don't know why it is".  Derek points out that it doesn't matter why, it just is, and that I am dealing with it the best I can, which is good enough.  Yay for a good Derek!

I always wonder how to answer the question "How are you doing?"  I suppose that I am just doing the best I can at any given moment.  Sometimes that is really great.  Sometimes not so much.  (Which isn't so different than how I do normally!)  Amidst the buckets of tears I've cried, I do know that I am cared for and loved and watched over, and I am thankful for that!  I am thankful for all of you.
And Look!  Tia and Mike got married!!  I have no good pictures really, but it was a great day.
This was right after the cake smashing in the face incident.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

When I'm Afraid

It was time for my yearly mammogram in December, but I waited until January.  December is busy.  So on the last Friday in January I went in, and on the second Friday in February I was back for my second mammogram.  I was told I had microcalcifications, which are normal, unless they aren't.  80% of the time they're normal.  Not to worry!  But I did.  I was going to have to have a biopsy.

The day after my second mammogram I woke up and started typing words into my phone as they came to me.  Words of faith, and courage.  Words, that I added to a bit, and rearranged, and eventually turned into a song.  Words that, when I sing them, help me to have the courage and faith that I want to have.

As I chronicle some of my experiences I hope you will know that I do have faith, and courage, but sometimes I also give in to sorrow, and fear.  Sometimes I just can't wrap my head around what is happening to me and I really want to be in denial -- and on vacation.  What I really thought wouldn't be too big of a deal keeps changing.  Just one more thing.  Then another.  And another.  But I am never alone.  My family and friends surround me.  My Savior does comfort me when I'm afraid, if I let Him.  I have to let go of my fear, and press on knowing that He really is there watching over me, and He can help me be okay no matter what.  When I make myself quit crying, and feeling sorry for myself, and I give my fear to Him, He gives me calm in return.

So here are the words I wrote, and a recording that I made so I wouldn't forget the tune.  I was going to try to do a better recording, but I might never get around to it, click  HOORAY! and enjoy the face I make at the camera, as well as the song.

When I'm Afraid

My Savior comforts me when I’m afraid.
And though it seems sometimes that He is very far away
I trust that He is close, holding me up day by day.

And when the storm beats down, He’s not asleep.
He holds His hand outstretched to me when the path is steep.
And keeps His watch as giant waves come crashing from the deep.

And when I feel so sad and all alone
I think of His great love and all He did so I could come home.
I know that He's with me no matter how far I may roam.

I feel His peace around me when I’m still
And ask for strength and courage to trust Him and do His will.
He helps me to hold on through any sorrow that I feel.

And when I fail again He won’t condemn
He’ll pick me up and help me so that I can start again.
My Savior knows my sorrow and the guilt or pain I’m in.

So when I do not know which way to go
I take a step toward Him and His light makes my path to glow
I know there’s hope because there is no path that He won’t know.

My Savior comforts me when I’m afraid
And I give thanks to Him while on this world that He has made
And trust in Him to guide me through the path that He has laid.

I thank Him for the beauty all around,
The wonder and the happiness in every joyful sound.
I thank Him for the good and lovely things that here abound.

But most of all I thank Him for His love,
For wanting me despite my faults to live with Him above.
In His kingdom filled with joy, and happiness and love.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Helping and Being Helped. Loving and Being Loved.

It seems like we always want to be the ones who are helping.  We do not want to depend on other people.  We want to be self sufficient.  I know that I want to do the work that I consider mine.  At least a part of me wants to handle my challenges without anyone else being bothered, or worrying.  But I have tried this before, and it is hard, and lonely.

I am currently in a situation where I have needed help, and where I know that I will need more.  I have what I like to call a mild case of breast cancer.  Very curable.  Just not fun or convenient.  I told somebody that I was going to have to let people help me more than I want to.  The helper is the strong one -- right?  Don't I want to be the strong one?  (Yes!  I do!)

It struck me today that perhaps I should think of helping and being helped more as loving and being loved.  Is it really a weakness to be loved?  Does it make me less of a person that people care enough for me to want to make my life easier, or more manageable?   Aren't I helping too, when I really appreciate what people do for me?  When I love them for loving me so well?  When I want to help them just like they help me?

I think, when we change how we look at it, helping, and being helped can be loving and being loved, and loving each other is what life is about.
This is my elephant that I haven't yet named -- much to Dan's disappointment.
A friend gave him to me so I'd have something to snuggle in hard moments.
Ha!  Maybe I should name him Snuggles!

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Tia is Engaged!

Mike and Tia
Tia got engaged to Mike Stankey on January 18th, though naturally the temple was scheduled before that.  I would have written about this sooner, but Tia and Mike were just a bit stubborn and wouldn't send me a picture of them both together.  Tia always claimed that Mike had all of the pictures, and when I asked Mike for a picture he told me that his ear was in the picture of Tia that he had sent me the night before.  I love them both anyway.  It is so fun to have them around, and I didn't exactly remember to try to take their picture when they were here either.

Mike is from Ohio, though his family lives in Michigan now.  Tia and Mike are currently there visiting his family.  He is the middle of 3 children with an older brother and a younger sister -- all of them grown up.  Tia and Mike met during a Family Home Evening (they're in the same ward) and Mike said he got up the courage to talk to her when they were carving pumpkins.  Mike attends BYU and is in the U.S. Army Reserve (though he hasn't done basic training yet -- that comes after the wedding).

I love a lot of things about Mike including his smile, his thoughtfulness, and his good humor.  Once somebody was trying to ask Tia out at work and Tia said, "Oh, I have a Mike".  I like how much Tia smiles because she has a Mike, and he loves her so well. We will like having another son-in-law. They are getting married on May 5th.  This is also Tia's Dad's birthday, and Mike's Mom's birthday so there will be a lot of celebrating to do!
A picture from Kayli's birthday celebration in December

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

The Poor Pooch

Teddy in his cast and cone.

See Kayli's feet?  That's how close to Kayli Teddy likes to be right now.
Every minute of the day and night if possible.
I believe the story goes like this:

Once upon a time there was a fun, wiggly, poofy dog who liked to chase things.  He was visiting his friends in another house where there are dogs and cats to play with, and he decided that chasing one of the cats would be really fun -- and it was -- right until he slid on the wood floor too close to a wall vent and sliced open his foot.

Poor Kayli and her friend, who really dislike blood, were trying not to pass out while trying to figure out what to do.  They ended up driving Teddy to the Instacare for dogs up in Orem.  Teddy had to have stitches, which naturally he couldn't be awake for.  He has a cast-like thing that is supposed to stay dry, and the cone to keep him from biting his cast (which in the picture is covered with a sock).  The cast can come off tomorrow I think, but the cone has to stay on for two weeks.

So, Kayli's nice happy dog has become like a clingy two year old child who just wants to stay by his Kayli all of the time.  She went to the temple for an hour the other day and he cried and cried the whole time she was gone.  There was nothing I could do.  It was very sad.  He kept trying different doors hoping she would come through one of them.

He's gotten a little better since then, but he usually stays very close to whoever is home.  When I came home from orchestra last night he came right over so I could pet him and he sat on my feet in an effort to make sure I didn't go anywhere again (which is a trick Trisa and Travis' dog uses all of the time!).

It will be a nice thing when Teddy goes back to being the fun, wiggly, poofy dog that we all love -- with the non-cone, very cute, puffy face!

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

The Super N.O.V.A. Grad

Dan reading his constitution
Dan's Polaris Award
Dan graduated from the N.O.V.A. program last night.  NOVA stands for Nurturing Opportunities Values Accountability, and is taught by an officer of our local police department. 

Derek wasn't home from work yet and so it was just me who went with Dan and I ended up feeling sad that Derek had missed it.  It was a half hour program.  The adults who spoke didn't take much time, and then three students had been chosen to read their NOVA Constitutions -- which is something all of the students had been required to write.  Dan was one of those students, and he went first.  He did such a good job!

At the end of the program they announced one winner of the "Polaris Award" from each 6th grade class.  These were students who had good attendance at the NOVA classes, had written a constitution, and who had been well behaved and helpful to others.  The first winner?  Dan!  He was surprised.  I don't think anyone else really was, but he was.  The prize was perfect for him.  He loves stuffed animals and he gave this one lots of hugs as soon as he had it.

Dan is my super NOVA grad, and I am really proud of him.  I got a text from a friend last night who lives up the street.  She said that she recorded Dan because she knew her kids who weren't there would want to watch him.  She said they loved it.  I thought that was sweet.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Heaps of Guilt vs. Forgiveness and Compassion

From Google Images
I was reading The Willpower Instinct yesterday while I was walking on the treadmill.  I have found this book to be quite fascinating.  The author was explaining that most humans seem to think that the best way for us to motivate ourselves to improve is to really heap on the guilt when we goof.  If we mess up, we tell ourselves that we are stupid, or weak.  We are bad, or hopeless.

Not only is this super discouraging, but it has the opposite effect than the one we intended.  Those of us who heap guilt and shame on ourselves tend to turn to the very vices we are trying to overcome to sooth our guilt.  This makes us feel better for a minute.  Then it makes us feel guilty.  Then we turn back to the vice we were trying to overcome.  This creates a vicious cycle that leads us deeper into the very behavior we were hoping to guilt ourselves into avoiding.

So what really works? The studies in the book showed that forgiveness is what works.  We forgive ourselves for messing up and try again.  Instead of feeling like one goof made the whole goal hopeless, we cut ourselves some slack and realize that messing up is a part of learning.  We have compassion for ourselves because we are trying.  Just because we were trying to resist sweets, and we ate a piece of cake, doesn't mean that it's hopeless and so we might as well eat the whole thing!

I think the reason I find this book so fascinating is because I have seen myself in so many of the willpower traps the author explains.  Here's one example from last weeks orchestra practice.  I was the only flute player that day and was overthinking how easily I could be heard.  Sometimes I can let mistakes go, but this was not one of those times.  When I missed a note or three, I couldn't let it go.  I was sure everyone was focused on every wrong note.  I started comparing myself to the flute players who weren't there.  I told myself I was stupid for not having practiced more.  The more I berated myself, the worse my playing actually got, and the more sure I was that everyone probably wished I hadn't shown up at all!  I wished I hadn't shown up at all! 

Unfortunately these thoughts don't make me want to practice more.  They make me want to quit.  Had I let the mistakes go, and relaxed, there is about 100 percent chance that my playing would have been better.  Not perfect.  But better!  I know because I have been able to do that on other days.  So I made myself practice a little more this week, and tonight I hope to be more forgiving of my own mistakes.

So here's to leaving behind the heaps of guilt, and instead carrying around a good dose of compassion and forgiveness to apply to the mistakes that we all inevitably make.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Prayer Transcripts

From Google Images
Someone on the Christian Radio station asked,  "If you had a transcript of all of the prayers you said in the last year, what would it reveal about you?"  She asked if we thought our transcripts would show that our prayers had been more about making our lives easier, or developing our character to be more like our Saviors.  How much gratitude will we have given in contrast to requests made?

I have also read an article that suggested we pray for the things where our will and God's will overlap.  In a Christian story I read, the character explained that instead of asking for a piano, she would ask for the opportunity to develop her talent.  Instead of asking to be able to go on an exotic vacation, she might ask for the opportunity to learn about other cultures and peoples.  If she wanted someone to treat her better, she would ask instead that she would learn to love them no matter what.  She knew that it was possible that she would get answers to those prayers in ways she hadn't imagined, but she believed that God would answer them.

I do think it would be interesting to see the transcripts of a year of my prayers.  I have had thankful prayers, and prayers where my mind wandered all over and so the prayer kept getting off track.  I've gotten stuck in plenty a prayer rut where prayers were feeling a little repetitive, and I've had other prayers where I felt like Heavenly Father was helping me to know exactly what to say.  I am sure that I often pray for what I want, without even taking the time to consider what God wants. 

I am thankful for people who share what they have learned, and ask questions that give me good things to think about.  My hope is to continually learn to pray better, so that if I did see a transcript of my prayers, they would lean more to learning God's will than asking for mine, and that they would be more full of gratitude than a constant list of what I want. 

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Always a Goal

Picture from Google Images
I find it really interesting to hear people talk about goals.  Just like a lot of things, what works for some, doesn't work for others.  Some people profess to hate goals, or believe they don't work.  Some people, I think, just have a goal to do the best they can, and that's what they do, without anything too specific.  Since I decided to use one word goals, or really sometimes two or four word goals, I have better success.  I pick something that I really want to do, not something I think I "should" do.  I mentioned before that I didn't choose "Health" as a goal until I felt like I was really ready to work on it without dread.

So, as always, I have a goal for the year.  I chose, "Love more, love better".  I was trying to decide how to work on this because I need to be able to see if I'm making some progress.  As I thought about it, I realized that this goal is just like choosing to review, and keep practicing, my last 6 goals.  So every month I have something specific to work on from one of those six original goals, each goal getting 2 months.  I was careful to make sure that these little goals are things that not only help me make progress, but are goals that I really want to do.  It's really not as complicated as it may sound, and I'm quite looking forward to some of them!

So, whether you like to make goals or not, it never hurts to think about whether you are making progress in becoming the kind of person you really want to be.  If you are heading the direction you want to go, great!  If not, maybe you can think of one small goal that will get you closer to being the best you possible.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Christmas (my latest song)

Google Image
(to listen click here.)

Christmas makes me feel like all the good that I have known
All the love that I have felt
And the kindness I've been shown.

Christmas makes me think of all the sweet and joyous things
Like a baby's dimpled smile
Or a happy voice that sings.

Christmas touches something that is deep inside my heart
With the treasured Christmas story
And all those who played a part.

Christmas helps remind me of the things I want to know
There is hope for us each day
And Christ's love helps us to grow.

So I'll sing a song of Christmas with a smile upon my face
And will feel the joy of Christmas
As I go from place to place.

Sing out with love and joy and peace and laughter!
Sing out knowing there's happily ever after!
Sing out because the King of Kings came down to give us joy,
And for hope brought to the world by a tiny baby boy.

Friday, November 17, 2017

A Bunch of Gratitude

The Payson Temple.  Picture from Google Pictures

Hi all.  I have not been diligent in writing things I am thankful for this week so I am writing what I am thankful for in a bunch!  Tuesday I just remember that I had a good morning.  We'll go ahead and not talk about the evening -- it's possible I let myself get a little too tired :-). 

Wednesday I made new friends.  I went to visit a little boy in my Primary and played trains with him and his sister while I chatted with their Mom.  I enjoy visiting, and I enjoy friends!

Thursday I had a chance to visit with friends I already have.  That was good too! 

Today Tia came home and we got to go to the temple together.  While we were there I was thinking of just how much I enjoy my grown up daughters.  They are good people and are really fun to be with.
Trisa, Kayli, and Tia -- my super awesome girls!

Monday, November 13, 2017

Sunday Smiles and Laundry Machines

Looking back, I think I am most thankful for the smiles I got yesterday.  Smiles from family.  Smiles from friends.  And especially smiles from children.  I enjoy those smiles a lot!
Teddy, aka Poof or Poofty, the innocent looking dog :-)
Today is laundry day, and every laundry day I actually say a prayer of thanks for laundry machines.  Washing clothes by hand sounds hard, and exhausting.  Drying them on a line wouldn't be so bad in nice weather, if the dog didn't steal them off the line.  But we don't actually have a "line" for the dog to steal them off of.  So, in that way at least, he is innocent!