“If you’re brave enough to say goodbye, life will reward you with a new hello.” ~ Paulo Coehlo

It is crazy how life works.  This is exactly what I was talking about in my last post.  Lo and behold, the below link leads to the featured article today on Tinybuddha.com.  Unlike the natural progression and exciting move of an eager college graduate venturing into the world bravely, as written by the author of the below article; in the here and now, my awakening to this epiphany has been wrought with stubborn resistance and need to stay stuck in old habits that cause more damage than serve any real purpose.  Over the past couple of years I’ve learned firsthand that if you’re stuck on the wrong path, life will continue to throw you into misery, bad events and rejection.  Doors remain closed or sometimes slam in your face because you are seeking people, things and places on the wrong road.  The Universe will tell you, subtly or harshly–at times practically bashing you over the head, me anyway.  One way or another, no matter how stubborn you may be, life will let you know when you’re off course.

Saying Goodbye to One Adventure Is Saying Hello to Another, by Alexa Peters walk away : woman walking away on green field


Time to turn onto a new road

I realized this morning that a large part of my grief and depression lately has been based around certain expectations that I had for my life not coming to fruition for whatever reason.   The road is far different than the one I thought I’d be traveling down at this point in my life.

path less traveled

I started my bucket list about 5 years back, before all of my crazy, health stuff.  Everyone around me keeps saying ‘health issues.’  “I heard you’ve had some health issues.”   Health issues?–So polite, or is it? I don’t know why that term bugs me so much.  I had cancer, that’s what I had.

I don’t know what will happen with the surgeries, my body, whether I’ll be facing more ‘health’ scares in the future given my BRCA1 status; but I have to start living again, or maybe for the first time.  I decided today that while focusing on losing the weight and preparing for my additional surgeries, I’m going to accept this reality and look forward to taking the road less traveled.  I need new things to look forward to.  Maybe I’ll sell everything and go out and see the world.  All I know is it’s time to pull out that old bucket list and start making plans and set new goals for a new life–an unexpected life–and just see where it takes me.  Here’s to hoping new adventures await me, far beyond my expectations.


Down 15 lbs–this is progress

I still have a long way to go, but this is progress.  Down another 4 lbs in a week (5 lbs actually since I gained one lb at last week’s weigh-in)–down 15 lbs altogether so far.  However, I’ve forgotten my gym clothes today, which I’m really unhappy about!  The gym has now become routine for me, and as soon as I get a little off track, it breaks the endurance level I’ve been building up.  I’ll have to regain a bit of that back. 

I’ve become quite accustomed to my food plan and notice if I eat something outside of it (specifically something bad), even though it may taste somewhat good in the moment (surprisingly not as good as I previously thought), I really feel physically awful afterward.  My body screams, “no way!”  And I have to say my cravings for breads, pasta, sugary and other bad foods have started to dissipate, almost completely.  Every single week, there is some sort of brunch or treat at my office, like breakfast tacos, bagels, kolaches or some sort of desert food.  I couldn’t resist these foods before getting on this plan, but now I’m not even bothered by seeing them in the kitchen or break room.  Happily, my work has gotten significantly better at bringing in weekly, organic fruits and low calorie snacks.  The person who orders has since started buying organic, plain, Greek yogurt on my behalf because it’s on my food plan, which is pretty cool!

I can’t say I’ll ever be cured of my addiction to food.  Is anyone ever really cured of an addiction?  However, I do feel more in control of it than I’ve ever experienced before.  I’ve also recently been reading Tiny Buddha’s Guide to Loving Yourself: 40 Ways to Transform Your Inner Critic and Your Life, by Lori Deschene (founder of www.tinybuddha.com, Simple Wisdom for Complex Lives).   The way she felt about herself and her life is so similar to what I have struggled with.  She had a different eating disorder than I, but the causes and beliefs are all the same.  Disorders all stem from the same place, they just manifest differently for everyone.  This book is very insightful and I believe it’s helping me on my path of transformation.

In the Necessary

A couple of posts back I referred to my transformation as having its setbacks, mainly the depression and grief I’ve been going through recently.  But I realized this isn’t a setback at all, it’s a ginormous step forward.  Progress can be painful, but worth every moment, otherwise we don’t grow.  The pain pushes us to face our demons.  We can’t do that while stuck in a numbing state.  It’s time to let go of these old demons and take back control of my life.  I fully admit I hate this stage of the process as being the hardest, loneliest and most mundane–a lot of time being pensive.  It’s fully necessary though.  I’ve stated this before.  At times, you have to be completely broken down before you can be built back up.  It is a process of highs and lows, but maybe that’s the beauty of it.  I must be like the caterpillar wrapped in its cocoon in metamorphosis, and know this is the biggest part of my journey.  I’m grateful to be aware of this, however hard it may be.

I noted about a recent rejection in my last post.  I can’t tell you what a powerful catalyst this has been for me.  Truthfully, exactly what I needed!  I am grateful for this too.   Though I felt the full weight of rejection and it still stings a bit, I realized that maybe I liked the idea of this man more than the real thing.  Even though part of me tried, I never would let it go further than just an idea, which could possibly be part of the rejection.  But it was a nice idea and in truth kept me going through a majority of all my recent cancer stuff.  Maybe that was its only real purpose and now it had to come to a natural conclusion.


[picture taken from www.missouribotanicalgarden.org].

Stuck in conversation with George

It’s taken me a while to think of a title for this post.  I feel like, particularly recently, my head space is in up and down, mostly negative states, but also very revealing–So much clarity.  This is where I’m at though.  I can’t deny that.  This is a massive part of my journey.  In fact, the most important part, and I’ve been struggling deeply with this pain.   I don’t particularly have any friends named George, but I wanted the title to at least present as a little more positive than the rest of the post, so I decided to give my “emotional pain” a name.  George is a good name. 

This has been a time of serious grief, sadness and overall pain for me; not just for the major events I’ve just faced, but a lifetime of heartache that I haven’t allowed myself the opportunity to really grieve or work through without tearing myself down in the process.  I’ve placed so much shame and unworthiness on myself.  Instead of knowing how to parent myself through chaotic events, I allowed a side of me, an enabler, to grow stronger.  If it felt bad, my enabler would say, “it’s okay, have that piece of pizza or cheesecake, smoke that cigarette or have those 3 or 4 glasses of wine.”  How cunning this enabler became. 

I’ve had weight issues most of my life.   Although I was a thin and athletic as a child, the weight problems started while my mother was in and out of the hospital going through cancer treatments.  I guess I was around 10 or 11 when it became noticeable.  I was just a little chubbier than the other girls.  I was 12 years old when she died.  I remember people bringing casserole after casserole to our house.  Our fridge overflowed with them.  From out of these events my addiction to food was born.  I’ve spiraled between thin and fat (mostly fat) ever since.  I don’t think I’ve even recognized myself in a mirror, or in pictures (and those are the worst at giving you a reality check), in 10 or 15 years, maybe more.

Throughout that time more life-altering events occurred–hard, heartbreaking events, and George got fed.  George grew stronger and gorged himself whenever possible, and my addiction festered.   What a lie, a joke I played on myself for so long.  As if food was my comforting friend and my fat a wall of protection from everyone around me.  What cruel deceivers.

I suffered what I believed to be a fairly major rejection this past week, but one that I needed to happen, and the timing of it was quite perfect.  Honestly, I set myself up for it, likely intentionally.  I’ve noticed I tend to do that when things in my life are askew, which is all the time.  I basically acted like a complete, desperate jackass.  I always created an awkward atmosphere around this particular person, which had more to do with everything I’ve been going through; but, it wasn’t something I ever communicated to him.  I know my awkwardness made him uneasy.  Luckily, the rejection forcefully knocked me back into reality.  Though it was a crushing blow to my fragile ego and amplified George’s existence, it ultimately was the exact thing I needed to push me into recovery.  I’m not saying I’m cured or have it all figured out, but for me, the past week or so has meant 10 thousand steps in the right direction–extremely painful, yes, but necessary.  Adversity truly is our greatest teacher.  Everything in life is Teacher, remember that!

Decoding Annie Parker Review

They changed the date of the movie to May 19th instead of May 22nd.  I went last night for the screening hosted by Casting for Recovery (or CFR – http://castingforrecovery.org/home), an organization that provides fly fishing retreats all over the US for breast cancer survivors of all stages.  You may ask, fly fishing?  But it provides a gentle activity for those who have limited mobility in their chest and upper arms due to breast surgery.  Pretty cool actually!  I can see how good this idea is as I had to do physical therapy after my surgery.  CFR was founded in Vermont by two women, one a reconstructive surgeon and the other a professional fly fisher.  I may apply and learn to fly fish.  Why the hell not–looks to be a totally fun, Zen-like, tranquil experience.

I was worried I might cry at parts of the film, with it matching so closely to my own experience, and I was having a bad day emotionally yesterday anyway.  I didn’t cry though, and actually laughed at a number of moments.  I wish more people would see this film, just to have a better understanding.   Starring Samantha Morton and Helen Hunt, this film is based on true events.  “Decoding Annie Parker tells the life affirming story of two remarkable women; the irrepressible Annie Parker, a three time cancer survivor and the geneticist Mary-Claire King whose discovery of the breast cancer BRCA gene mutation is considered one of the most important discoveries of the 20th century,” (taken from http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/decoding_annie_parker/). 

I related overwhelmingly to so many parts of this movie, specifically to what Annie Parker went through.  I laughed at the parts where she constantly gave herself breast exams–checking for lumps.  While watching a movie with her husband or at the dinner table with friends.  You can become obsessed with “feeling yourself up” on a highly frequent basis when you know BC runs in your family or find out you have the gene mutation.  I thought, omg, that was totally me too!   I almost felt this was my story and I’m glad such films are being made and recognized today.  It creates so much more awareness around the reality surrounding women with BRCA mutations.

They had a question and answer session afterward with a genetic counselor and a hematologist/oncologist.  I sat quietly and listened as several questions were raised about genetic testing for BRCA mutations, new drugs on the market, statistics and family histories.  While listening to the questions asked and feeling a majority of attendees were of the general population (meaning not having and likely not remotely in danger of having a mutation like mine), I realized at that moment how fairly unique I was.  Not that anyone wants to be unique in this way, of that I can assure you, but it is what it is.  One woman asked what the ratio of having a BRCA mutation is in women.  In the general population (excluding the Ashkenazi Jewish population) it’s 1 in 400.