Sunday, January 4, 2015

Gurus Gone Wild

Here's where I am today...and lately.

I used to think that the term 'rat race' only related to working. You know, where you get caught up in trying to be better, achieve, achieve, achieve, and compete in the workforce. Achieve a higher status, be recognized, make more money, afford a bigger house, better car, vacation home, stand out, make a the point of missing the point; what matters is YOU, not the race or the need for 'more'. It can be SO easy to get caught up in all of that and begin to feel stressed, over work yourself, and lose sight of your own happiness, time for you and your friends and family, and time to just simply be.

It's OK to just be.

I feel like there is a whole new rat race and to be honest, it's stressing me out. It comes from amazingly good intention but it's a whole new kind of madness and craze. It's this whole inundation of online gurus flooding my Facebook page, inbox, and Internet. Whether I'm seeking it out or not. A self-help fest. DON'T GET ME WRONG, what these people have to say and offer is truly helpful and I have gained a lot (and still do) from their content, advice, and knowledge. And there is no question that the initial intention is/was to help. But in my opinion, it is out of control.

Where it goes wrong for me is that there is still a strong, predominant message...the need to achieve more, make a big difference, don't be status quo, push yourself, make more money and work less...sound familiar? And it's everywhere! And gurus are teaming up, joining forces to help promote each other in order to become bigger, better, and make more money themselves.

I find that I have become numb to it all. I scroll past the info, even of people that I really love what they have to share and know I could learn from...and ignore it. I'm overloaded and find myself just as stressed out and feeling the need to keep up in the same way as in the work world rat race. Even though it's all positive and about self discovery, its just another rat race.

So what have I learned from all of this? Do what makes YOU happy. Nothing more, nothing less. And it doesn't have to be earth shattering. If YOU are happy, and doing things that make you happy and feel good, nothing else will matter. If that's being a CEO or living in a yurt in the middle of nowhere or discovering the cure for cancer or running a campground or whatever. Let go of all of the expectations that you NEED to be or do more.

Take a break from the gurus gone wild and go within. Find stillness and listen to yourself. I love that simple piece of advice that states you should do whatever it is that you find yourself thinking about all the time. Where does your mind go in its daydreams? Do that. Seriously. Or start working toward it. You are good enough. No matter what you do, how much money you make, or don't. What matters is time and moments. Time for you, time with family and with friends, time to do what it is that makes you feel happy.

My plan (no rocket science here):
1. Pay attention to the things my mind daydreams about over and over. Write that sh*&t down.
2. Start focusing on how to get there.
3. Build it into my Lifebook (you can ask me about this).
4. Keep going...

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Taking a year off...

I'm taking a year off. I am giving myself the gift of a year; a year to make the most pleasurable, meaningful, and satisfying year of my life so far.

For a long time now, I have been feeling too busy and overwhelmed...feeling like I'm wasting my time on the stuff that doesn't matter. I'm constantly trying to manage working full-time and a recent job promotion (aka I'm even more busy!), kids, cooking, cleaning, sports, homework, appointments, grocery shopping, life is WAY too busy. And I feel like I'm not really living. I day dream and admire people with less money and part time jobs who have time. Free time for self care. Maybe that means sleeping more, taking naps, doing a hobby, exercising, whatever it is; I want it.

I struggle with the decision that in order to have more free time, I either need to drop hours and drop my income or figure out how to work less and make more. And right now, I havent figured out the latter. I struggle because I need to support myself and kids and I've become accustomed to the freedom that money brings in many ways. At the same time, it saps my free time because I work hard for it.

I dream of moving into a yurt in the middle of nowhere, sleeping, meditating, eating well, reading books on self improvement, and exercising. Unfortunately, that's not an option right now. I also dream of buying a campground with cabins and running it. That is on my goal list.

But for right now, these are not options I am willing to pursue out of fear and a sense of commitment and safety. So I'm taking baby steps but steps no less!

I was in a second hand shop this afternoon and found myself in the book area. Self help section! I ended up buying about 6 books, I couldn't grab them fast enough. And right then and there, I decided that I am going to start my quest to simplify and figure out how to be happy living a simpler life and just go for it. Not worrying about my career and trying to be bigger and better and change the world. I'm not saying that isn't a worthy and very comfortable place for some people to be...but I'm feeling like I'm missing the point by doing so. By giving away all of my time to work and to projects and kids and duties rather than being happy with a simpler job and pace of life.

I have no time for self care, or to do the things I love like sleeping, writing letters, doing crafts, exercising, reading, road trips, travel, being in nature, or just relaxing. I never have time. And that's not good and it's not healthy. And I've been going stir crazy trying to tame my gut which is screaming, "slow your roll. DO something!"

So I'm doing something. Funnily enough, one of the books I found is called, 'The Gift of a Year"...I'm starting with that one.

Follow me as I embark on my quest. I have no idea what to call it yet. But it's time to be brave and start letting go of the security of my current life and create a life with more time and meaning. I love what Steve Harvey says, "You have to give up what you know and what you're doing in order to break through the glass ceiling and get to the next level." Like how he let go of everything he knew (stand up comedy) to become a motivational speaker. Or how Oprah had to give up her show to create her network and other endeavors. And Steve Harvey is the first to remind me that it's not going to be easy but it has to be done and you will get there. I will get there.

Life is short and moments matter.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Celebrating! REALLY celebrating!

Biopsy results came back negative...benign! YEOW!

The past weeks, month, and longer have been tough on me. But I am happy to report that Tracey's annual cancer check up season is officially closed! And I am all clear! Blood tests, PET scan, ultarsound, mammogram, and biopsy are all in my rear view mirror thank you very much.

I can't describe the absolute relief I feel from this. And I can't describe what it felt like to think this could happen all over again. But I think right now I feel pretty close to bliss.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Angels Among Us

I came home today with a sense of no worry at all and...fighting back tears. I had my annual mammogram and ultrasound today and found out that I need to have a core biopsy done on my right boob. This time, in only one spot. On my left boob, they did it in four spots. Right now, I'm not worried. At the same time, questions like "will I have to face and fight this again?" linger on the edges of my thoughts. Scheduled for April 15th. Results to follow.

So, that's part of my story today.

The second part needs a little 'backlighting' before you hear about my angel of the day. Garbage and recycling pick up. A few months back, and out of nowhere, whoever was doing our trash and recycling pick up was leaving our garbage can and recycling bins knocked down and in the middle of the driveway. Only us. Everyone else's garbage cans and bins on the block were left neatly and upright. It kept happening so I called the city to complain (politely of course!). I also left a package of instant hot cocoa with a note for the driver the following day as a way to build a nicer relationship.

All was going well until the past few weeks. Here we go again, our bins and only our bins were being knocked down and tossed in the driveway. I gave it time and finally made a second call to the city to complain (also politely) when things didn't get better. I was now really mad and thinking of ways to let this guy know I was mad (like leaving "you suck" notes on the garbage bin lid)...and then I did the right thing and switched to thinking of more positive solutions. (I was hurt, what were we doing to make this guy be so mean to us?).

Today was garbage day. I thought for sure the driver was going to be pissed and retaliate. After all, I called to compain about him TWO times now. I expected to come home to find the garbage can on the ground, in the middle of the driveway, maybe even peed on. LOL.

Instead, this is what I found. Tucked under our doormat...

This made my tears flow fuller and faster, and warmed my heart from the inside out. Just what I needed today and right at the exact moment too. I now LOVE our 'regular driver' and you can guarantee that kindness will be rewarded with more kindness...ain't just gonna be hot cocoa left out for our driver on the bin next week, that's for sure! So, today my angel is disguised as a driver for waste management. I love how he took the high road and responded in such a positive way, and how he knew just what I needed to lift my spirits today.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Big Hats and Big Hair!

Roooooad trip! To the Big T. Texas. This weekend. I've never 'officially' been to Texas. I've been to the Dallas Fort-Worth and Houston airports and that just doesn't count. I'm going to the I Can Do It conference which I was so excited about until I went online and saw that my main reason for going, speaker and kick ass cancer survivor Kris Carr, cancelled. Bummer! I planned to get my books signed and even better, a photo! So disappointing! I've always wanted to go to one of these motivational weekends but they've always been way too pricey for me or too far or both. This one is affordable and close, and despite Kris Carr not being there...I'm still looking so forward to it. And I've always heard about what a fun city Austin is, yay! I don't know many of the speakers...I know Wayne Dyer and he'll be there which I think is very cool. And hello? A road trip? I'm in! It's a 12 hour drive but according to my friend M, it's easy. I've never driven out that way so I can't wait to see what I see. Hotel is booked. Bags yet to be packed. One more work day and then 4 days on the open road, yeehaw!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Recent 'stuff'

I feel great! I feel THANKFUL. My PET scan was all clear which means, I'M all clear and cancer free again this year! And this year is an extra special one. It's my 5th year anniversary (in August) without cancer. What an awesome gift. This means I can celebrate with certainty (insert happy dance here). And trust me, I know just how lucky I am. I know and recognize that not everyone gets the same good news. So, I am celebrating the right now and the right here. The here and now. Another year cancer free.

**(The reason I had a PET scan was because of 3 swollen inguinal lymph nodes that were not going away like they should if they're not serious. The 'c' word was looming again.)

I'll be honest. I wasn't worried today when I had to go in to get my results. I can't say I didn't 'think' about it but deep down, my gut knew I was OK. I'll tell you about a message from a fellow cancer survivor that I received after her passing. She knew what was ahead for me and offered me peace of mind before I even knew I would need it. I'm going to share a few whacky things in this post. But this is an inside view of survival. I may bounce around a bit.

It feels like these past few weeks or even this month or longer, I've been looking through my eyes as if I am back in the 70's and 80's. My surroundings, everything I see around me looks like a collage of instagram photos, very retro. And I have felt a constant sense of nostalgia deep within. A comfort in feeling like I am walking back in time every day, it's very calming. Old and familiar. Safe. Comforting smells would rise up out of nowhere. Familiar tastes like my grandma's lumpy, mashed potatoes with butter, I could swear I was actually eating HER potatoes. The sounds of the birds outside my window are just like the ones I heard as a kid outside my bedroom window. Things like that. I have seriously felt like I'm back in time. Like it's now but it's also then. Weird right? I haven't talked about it for fear that if I did, I would jinx things. There was a part of me that wondered if I was feeling and seeing this way because it meant I was not going to be here much longer. Like I was reliving all the best moments and feelings in preparation. It must seem interesting and odd at the same time for anyone reading this, but that's what I have been living these days. And I've actually been enjoying it and savoring it but at the same time, that "I wonder what this means" thought was in the back of my head. Even tonight, I'm feeling the retro feeling right now as I type this. The sound of the birds chirping, the way the sun is shining and makes the house look, I feel like I'm in my old house on Stanley Crescent.


OK, so there's that. I have been living in some weird Twilight Zone. Now I know it's not because of the 'c' word and that's what matters!

I've also been planning my final year (I imagined I might get at least a year). As morbid as it sounds, before getting my results today, my mind would often daydream and I would plan parts of my funeral. And I had this great idea for the last year that I will still not reveal here. Thankfully, I know I'm not the only one who does this. I remember Kris Carr saying she did too...relief.

The other whacky thing I'll share is my dream and the message I received from Shawna. I never met Shawna. Well, I think there were a few times I saw her briefly walking by but that's it. I couldn't describe her to you. She worked in rehab at the same hospital I worked at back home. She soon moved away with her husband and daughter. Within days of me starting work there. When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, everyone at work told me about Shawna, how she was also diagnosed with breast cancer in her 30's like me and her story of survival...surgeries, reoccurrence, more cancer treatments, but she was OK. So, somehow there was a connection between us from the get go. Then, one of her best and closest friends, also an SLP like me, came to work at the hospital. She would keep me posted on Shawna. Well, one day, Shawna's cancer reoccurred and spread. She fought so hard that I have no idea where or how she found the strength to do it. Amazing, amazing woman. Then I moved away. I wondered about Shawna and followed her blog now and then.

One night, I had a dream about Shawna. Her back was turned to me, she had blond hair and her hair was glowing with sunlight all around it. She was thin but looked so healthy, she didn't look sick even though I knew she was. I reminded myself that she really was sick and how deceiving it can be sometimes. And the other thing that came through so strongly in my dream was her kindness. I felt it. I didn't know anything about her personality but in my dream, so much kindness. That was it. I woke up. Then I went to the bathroom. Someone spoke to me in my head and said, "you're going to get checked out for something but you're going to be alright". I didn't know about my lymph nodes then. A little creepy. I knew it had meaning but I tried to shrug it off. I also knew it was Shawna. And I also found out later that day, that Shawna had passed the night before. I'm attaching a photo of Shawna that was used for her celebration of life. Notice her glowing, sunlit hair just like my dream. People remarked on how KIND Shawna was, just like my dream. Her words helped me believe I was going to be OK when at times, I wasn't always sure. And I always reminded myself of her words.

As for my 5 year big brother and I will be doing the 3-day Walk in DC this fall together. His idea. And I loooooove it. There aren't words to even explain how much this and how much he means to me. And now I know I can really celebrate 5 years without worry. Woohoo! Now comes the fundraising which scares the crap out of me! It ain't cheap! But it's gonna be worth every penny.

And that's a glimpse inside my head. TMI? LOL too late now!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

It's Just that Easy...

I can't resist using that phrase...and nobody probably even knows who says it but me. Shell Busey (pronounced  Shell "Buzzy") from a home improvement show back home on Corus radio. I loved waking up to that guy's voice on weekends.

Anyway, what's 'just that easy'? Having a PET scan! That's right, the queen of claustrophobia just said it. It wasn't 'fun'...but it was definately do-able. As you know, I chickened out the first time (last week) and rescheduled. I spent the week trying to visualize myself through the scan, and really trying to think positively about it. But every time I did, I felt fear grip my stomach, ugh.

Had to prep for it again yesterday as well...back on the meat, eggs, tofu, and 2 veggie diet. The plain-ness of the food, especially being mostly meat, was awful. I spit out my dry, stir fried beef strips with green pepper, blegh! I made scrambled eggs instead and snuck in a few tomatoes just for some flavor and juiciness! No starchy veggies or ones that convert to much glucose allowed.

Huge headache that evening but got the all clear to take an aspirin (thanks Deena!). Thank God. Managed to sleep until my eyes popped open at 6:00 a.m. and I immediately started to cram in more visualizing for an hour before having to get out of bed. Ugh, still nervous! But I knew in my gut I would do it today.

What happens at a PET scan? Holy moly, pretty serious stuff. I was taken into the basement and had to change into scrubs and go into a tiny room and sit on a comfy Geri-chair (ok, I know it doesn't sound so serious yet). Then I had to start drinking 1 of 3 big glasses of water with an 'additive' in it for my GI tract. And it did taste just like water, only maybe slightly sweeter. An I.V. was inserted into my WRIST, yuck! (tech told me it was the easiest place since she had a hard time finding a vein in my arm). And I could taste the saline in my mouth. Alec, the self professed "nuclear med guy" then came into the room to shoot me up with the radioactive tracer. I loved Alec. Older, experienced, big, fluffy white beard, and KIND. He was so supportive and assured me, "You're going to be OK kid"....and not meaning just during the scan, but OK all together. What a guy.

Once the tracer was injected, they put me in 'solitary', no one could stay in the room with me. No moving, no talking, no reading, no music, no playing on my cell phone...NO stimulation. Lights dimmed. For an hour. During which time I also had to drink the other 2 glasses of 'water'. It was actually very comfy and peaceful and allowed me some time to adjust to my surroundings and talk myself off the ledge. When the tech came to get me for the scan, I'd be lying if I said it didn't make me nervous. At the same time, I was actually looking forward to going in the scanner for a nap. I know, whaaaat?!

I laid down on the scanner table and the tech bundled me up in 3 blankets and even wrapped my arms. Snug as a bug! I asked for a washcloth over my eyes, it's like an MRI scanner with a bit of a bigger tube (doesn't feel bigger when you're inside of it though!). Game on. I felt myself moving into the scanner. I was nervous but then the greatest thing happened...after only being in the scanner for a bit, it moved so that I was out again. I got a breather. And then it moved me back in for a while, and then it moved again and my head was out for a while. Phew! Those little moments of freedom were enough to relax me enough to make it through the entire scan. And I even peeked under my wash cloth several times to look inside the scanner and it didn't bother me.

PET scan done. The techs congratulated me. I thanked them and then headed to Frontier for some breakfast. Results on Tuesday...that's in about 5 days.