Wednesday, June 29, 2011


I talked with a Hospice Social Worker yesterday. Had a long weekend with George out of pocket again, this time on call at the hospital. GaGa asked for an outing and I knew I needed to oblige especially if she was feeling good enough to go. She requested the mall. GaGa loves to shop and takes her time looking at every item intently, but you can't do that with a five and eight year old in tow and you can't promise them a treat and not follow through either. I had such a myriad of emotions, dread, hopefulness, excitement, then annoyance and finally, let's get this over with and get her home. Going out to eat was not good either. The god's honest truth is that GaGa even though she is dying can still be annoying. But you don't want to say that out loud but I just did.

I called the social worker because I felt at a loss. On Monday afternoon, I get a call and GaGa is in pain and it seems to be only an hour and a half after taking some pain medication. And then she starts crying. This rips me up for several reasons. First off, she is in pain and GaGa is very stoic. Secondly, I had been complaining about her. And I know it is okay for me to complain one day and then turn it around the next and have utter compassion. There is no perfect way to handle this situation. She is stoic but her feelings seem to come out complaining about unrelated things like at a restaurant...

She has been getting confused and forgetful along with the ever present pain and anxiety. So it is hard to know exactly what is going on and a few phone calls later between the hospice nurse and the nursing home staff, more drugs are given and she is on her way to a medicated relief. My loss is that I don't know what to say at times (or really the loss is just that CANCER SUCKS). By the time the social worker returned my call at the end of the day, I had figured out how to handle it. I just needed to reflect back what she was saying to me. Everyone wants to be heard and acknowledged.

The overwhelming feeling of being responsible for someone who has a terminal illness, hits me at different times. I was describing to the social worker that this journey since September has been up and down and the emotions are all over the place but with periods of stability. The social worker then utters the statement that resonates with me deeply and that is cancer and grief are very similar, they come in waves.

I'm so glad I took the call with her.I know this to be true.

I had been wondering for a while how I had been feeling okay even though GaGa is still dying (like we all are) At first with GaGa's metastasized cancer diagnosis, it seemed like she was going downhill fast at the end of the year, losing weight, in pain and then she became stable. And it was like okay, she's going to be around for a while longer. The term Living with cancer came to my mind. And then there is another setback, a fall, a trip to the hospital. And then stability. Waves.

The social worker said one more thing that was another huge aha moment. I shared briefly what I have been doing in my own therapy- learning to process my emotions and not block them and know that any feeling is not right or wrong and learning to just be with the feelings (and not eat!). She said that learning to live with uncomfortableness is a lifetime journey for most people. It takes practice. It felt SO true as I heard it come out of her mouth. I needed to hear that right then. There are moments that just stick out in life and this will be one of them. Although I almost didn't answer the phone, God, the holy spirit, the higher power, knew I needed to and gave me the nudge. It is not comfortable telling a complete stranger intimate details of my life but I needed that cellular hug and wisdom from someone who understands this process to carry on. My ability to handle it will come in waves as well. Sometimes I can handle it, sometimes I can't. And that is okay. Waves.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Food or Love from Mr. Popper's Penguins

The family and I saw Mr. Popper's Penguins yesterday. *Spoiler* At the end of the movie, there is a test to see if the penguins will go towards the zoo keeper with the food, or to Mr. Popper and the love they had shared. I don't have to tell you the ending, you can guess. As we are walking out, Mallory turns to me and says, "What would you choose, food or love?"

What did she just say??? I was speechless. Yes, me speechless.

My little old soul, Mallory, aged five and a half is speaking to my soul again. I didn't even connect the scene in the movie with one of my life's major missions, I wasn't paying attention, but she pointed it out to make sure I was.

So there is the question, just hanging out there, and something in my rational brain was saying, we have to have food to live, but the nurturer and mother in me was thinking, I should say love, I know I should say love. I alway pride myself on answering all the questions, to the best of my ability at the girls' level but I was speechless. It was just TOO personal and too raw.

I couldn't say, well Mallory, I have turned food into love over the course of my lifetime and I'm trying to reverse that pattern right now and well, it's pretty hard to do. It seems to be the hardest thing I've ever done because it is so complicated with the fact that you have to change the way you think, and at age 42, this is hard to do. And then there are these people who brought me into the world, that don't get this and you still have to relate to them and that's all about forgiveness. And well Mallory, I have been in therapy for quite a long time to overcome this and slowly, food is becoming less and less important and I am learning to give myself love, and nurture my own self. And I'm really trying to set this example for you and Riley. I am learning to be present.

But I didn't say anything. I'm not quite sure what I said, it was the deer in headlights moment. So just a moment ago, I asked Mallory what she would choose. (My friend pointed out that's what she would have done.) She smiled her impish smile and said, "love." I'm crying right now. My kids teach me love lessons all the time. I keep thinking I'm the one teaching them, but they are teaching me. I am eternally grateful for having them in my life. More tears. Happy tears.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Oprah and How She Surrendered

Another facebook post from a friend, that made me think, again. I had already watched this once because it is a part of Oprah's Master Class on OWN, this particular one is her talking about herself. I thought it was great the first time I watched it and I kept it on the DVR. The title of this segment is Surrender, as you can see. She starts talking about "The Color Purple" and I really didn't want to watch it again last night, as I noticed it's ten minutes long. I decided on a lark (Holy Spirit) this morning to watch it again. The WHOLE ten minutes. I have several issues ongoing that I need to surrender, and it is not easy at all. This time her words spoke to me in a different way, I was listening from a different vantage. I have been working diligently through major issues and I now have asked myself, have I given them over? God does know I want to work through them, but have I given them over to him. It's time.

I have bought several small notebooks over time. I love the freshness, the idea of a brand new clean slate to write in. I bought one with the specific purpose of keeping tracks of prayers. So many prayer requests come in from church, friends, family, and now even Facebook. I didn't ever want to answer that I was praying for someone because I might not remember to pray every day so I thought aha, I can keep track. But I never did. Our church had a speaker about prayer and it opened my mind wide to the fact that JUST when I think about someone, that is a form of prayer. This was an encouraging new way to think of prayer and it relieved my guilt over not praying the way I thought I should. So I have these small notebooks with the intent of journaling or keeping prayers, or keeping notes from a book study and I never follow through. But today, I am finding one of those books and writing down my prayer to surrender all of the big and little things in my life. Gotta go take care of that now. It's time.

As an aside, I don't think we always get the answers we want. She really wanted to act in the Color Purple and it happened. But I know there are people who surrender and don't get the answers they want. But resting in God and surrendering, they get the peace, the comfort to cope, to move on and to live with the circumstances.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Bathing Suit Section at Dillard's

Recently, I stopped by Dillard's to try on swimsuits....Enough said huh? I didn't dread it, I just knew I wanted some other options with vacation coming up and a new membership at a swimming club.

I did this for nearly 2 hours. And I think I survived emotionally intact?! The truth that I rediscovered is that many women do not enjoy this, and shall I say, maybe dread this. I heard a couple of random comments that fueled some thoughts for me. And then I ran into an acquaintance who was deliberating which style to buy based on her perception of her legs and stomach and which body part was better, etc. And I thought, wow, I'm at least 4-6 sizes larger and I hadn't had those thoughts. Maybe, I've made progress in accepting my body?! I know I have some, and it's funny how I don't know I've made progress until I remember that I stopped thinking about something the usual way. Did you follow that? That's how slow this progress goes.

It reminded me that even supermodels don't like the way they look. So many people have difficulty accepting their bodies as they are. There was just a story this morning about a size 2 woman getting mini-liposuction, and that is not surprising to me. I did find it fascinating that Oprah could not understand that even supermodels have self esteem issues. Beautiful thin people are not exempt from negative thoughts about themselves even though we consider them pretty. Self esteem is not based on our outsides. It's all based on what is going on between the ears.

All I could do was imagine all the thoughts that have gone on and will continue to go on in the bathing suit section of this store. And elsewhere. And I hated the idea of it, it made me sad. All of the negative energy swirling around and women beating up on themselves, me included at times. I was almost okay with the experience until I ran into people and heard their thoughts.

But I can't let what other people say about themselves affect me. That is my whole goal right now, accepting myself as is, exclusive of other's opinions. Whether that is 20 lbs lighter or not. Healing wounds takes time and patience.

And in the mean time, my new friends are self tanners. I watched Ruby Gettinger and she talked about how fat looks better tan. (I guess that is a little counter intuitive to my loving myself as I am) but I agree with Ruby. While I'm loving my dimples they do look better orangey brown than as pale as I am naturally.

So yes, I still want to lose weight. That doesn't go away. But I also know that right now, I am worthy, a beautiful person, and a child of God with good tanning cream.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Time to leave the Smokies...

I'm on Day 8 of Vacation. We left on a Friday, and it has been pretty good as far as vacations go and it's now a Friday again. T We have 2 days of driving (12 hours) ahead of us and it is time to go home. George took the girls to play putt putt, and go to an aquarium. I could not take another park. He didn't seem to mind. We are leaving tomorrow.

I have soaked up the views. I have stayed wet like a rat in Dollywood, Dollywood Splash Country, and Whitewater Rafting. We have driven up and down and around steep windy roads. I've looked at mountains, valleys and black bear mommas and cubs which was a highlight for me. Most of it was really great fun. I enjoyed the splash park more than I thought I would. The kids enjoyed life in the 1800's via Cades Cove less that I thought they would.

We needed to get away and we did. I love to take a vacation. Growing up neither George nor I had family vacations like we are able to do now. I still get excited and am in wonderment how neat it is to go and explore somewhere new, or not new and how wonderful it is to come back home even though we are tired BUT refreshed. The appreciation of home is anew.

This morning as George and I drank our coffee, there was smoke in the Smokies. Perfect way to end the vacation. I kinda wish we had left today. Now the last thing on the agenda is the Dixie Stampede in Pidgeon Forge tonight. We are going to be rooting for the North.

And our very last stop tomorrow morning is a swing (an hour out of the way) to the house of my great great great great great great grandfather's still standing home built in 1785. I'm intrigued.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Soaking it Up In the Smokies

We are on vacation!!! We made it to Sevierville, Tennessee late yesterday afternoon after a 2 day drive. It is near the Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge areas. It is very early on our first morning here and I can't sleep as our fantastic cabin is sitting ON TOP of part of a mountain. I felt during the night that we were going to fall off! I know the chance of that is very, very small yet I don't think my equilibrium had caught up by the time I went to bed as we drove very steep, climbing, windy roads to get here. I AM a flatlands girl! Riley said she couldn't understand how people could live in such hilly areas. I have thought that myself many times visiting any area that was not as flat as a pancake as I am accustomed to. [This picture is the side of the driveway leading to the cabin]

I am looking at the mountains as I type. The steep, windy roads led to fantastic open views of the Smoky Mountains. And as I am soaking up all of the natural beauty, I'm also cognizant of the the lovely satellite that is providing my wifi!! I love nature AND technology! The girls love the place as well with its' three levels and two game rooms.

I am so excited and grateful to take our family on vacation. It's soooo good to get away and for everyone to experience new places, people and things. And we treated ourselves to a really nice "cabin." Here's the family enjoying the Sunday night Disney shows in the Big Screen Media room! And during that tv display, I kept running outside to the balcony to view the most magnificent sunset display. Soaking it all up!