Things just got real!

As you know from last month, I am registered for a writing workshop in June.  My manuscript was sent off to the coordinators a few weeks ago. Earlier this week I received my homework for how to prepare for the seminar and what to bring. And today I was given the name of the person who will be critiquing my story!  Eek!!

I have received writing critiques in the past through peers and teachers in college but nothing like this. My first thought was a ping of terror – what of he hates it?!

But my rational side followed suit…so what? And I don’t mean that in an I-don’t-care kind of way. I mean it in a positive, I-care-so-much kind of way. The purpose of attending this workshop is to learn and grow as a writer, to understand what publishers are looking for and to enhance my writing.  I am excited to have a professional author – yes, author! – review my writing and tell me what he thinks. I’m anxious to hear the feedback that he has for me and perfect my manuscript so that it will be loved by a publisher and kids some day.  I’m thrilled to meet new people – people who have a passion and love for writing and reading.  I can’t wait to take in the entire experience and grow as a person and as a writer.

So, things just got real.  I am venturing out of my comfort zone, exposing myself and my writing to criticism (on purpose!) and taking a BIG step towards accomplishing my goals as a writer. How awesome is that?!

Do you think he’ll sign a copy of his book for me?  :mrgreen:

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Fear

Growing up, my mom loved Stephen King and horror movies. I quickly grew to love both of these things as well. Whenever we went to the local video store – VHS! – I would head right to the horror section to see which movie looked the most terrifying. The old school Freddy Krueger and Friday the 13th are still some of my favorites. And I am still a sucker for a good vampire or zombie movie – I seriously cannot get enough of those! There were times that those movies kept me up at night, afraid to get out of bed but to me, that simply meant that they were awesome! I mean, that’s the point of a scary movie, right? To be scared? To add a little fear to your life…one that you know you can walk away from when the credits come on?

But what about the fear you have as an adult? The fear that comes with following your dreams? Fear of the future? Fear of the unknown? Fear of rejection?

Knowing how much I love to write, my mom bought me a membership to a writer’s organization for my birthday. I was instantly thrilled and have been trying to learn the ins and outs of it for the last month. This particular organization has a local chapter and that local chapter is having a workshop this summer. I’ve been contemplating whether or not to go. It is an incredible opportunity to branch out of my comfort zone and meet people who are doing what I want to do – what I dream about doing! It’s a chance to learn what the steps are to becoming a published writer. It’s a place that I can talk about writing as if it were the only thing that mattered in life – because at the workshop, it will be.

But as an aspiring writer, I am filled with fear. I fear that I am not good enough. I fear that my writing isn’t good enough. I fear that I will be an outcast. I fear that I will be the only unpublished writer there. I fear that I am not creative enough. I fear that I will be too scared to talk to anyone. I fear that I will leave more afraid than I am now.

Fear is a powerful thing. Fear can consume you and tear you apart. It can take over your rational thinking and fill your head with doubt.

I had mentioned to Joe a while back that I was interested in this workshop but wasn’t sure if it was something that I should do or not. This past week, I received a flyer in the mail reminding me that the workshop deadline was coming to preregister for the event. I stuck it in my book to bring it with me to look at during treatment today but forgot about it until Joe picked it up when we arrived. Looking it over, he started asking me which portion of the workshop I was considering and whether or not I wanted to do a professional critique. We chatted about it a little and I made comments about how I will hopefully be ready to go next year. I have a draft written for a children’s book that I’ve been working on for a while now and someday I’d like to try and get it published (or at least have an editor look at it and tell me if it’s the worst thing they’ve ever read).

Next thing I knew, I was registered. For Mother’s Day, my sweet husband signed me up for one of the workshops and a professional critique of my writing. Wait, what?!

Remember that fear that I was talking about earlier? Well, it’s time for me to put it aside. Tonight, I hit send. I sent my children’s book out into the world to land in the inbox of a professional to critique it for me. When the workshop comes, I will sit down with them and they will tell me what works and what doesn’t.

Am I still afraid? Oh, yes. Yes, I sure am. But regardless of this fear, I will walk away from this stronger and more determined than ever.

My story

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Today’s treatment activities brought three separate appointments throughout the day. Each one of them ran longer than usual, which left me with some time to read. I love love love to read but it has not been something that I have been doing regularly recently. I love getting lost in a story, becoming one with the character and not being able to put down that book. As we all know too well though, life can become a little crazy and certain hobbies fall to the side while you try to accomplish everything life has to offer you in that moment.

So today when life handed me a moment or two to slow down, I turned to reading. I happened to have a book with me that I started reading a month ago and whew, it was a real page turner for me. Each page brought new insight, a change in perspective and sometimes even a little humor. The main character was someone that I dream of being and the memories that she has made throughout the book are truly priceless; some moments are even things that only happen in the movies. There are a lot of tears, there is a lot of happiness and there is even more love.

This character seems fearless, strong, honest, loving and kind. She has a beautiful family and a love of life. When I read this book, I become lost in her story and I can’t help but wonder what the future holds for her.

Only time can tell…but the blank pages in front of her ache to be written and filled with the magic of her words.

A warm spring day

The sun shined down through the trees, casting a shadow across her face. The large oak that stood above moved slowly with the wind; just enough to make the moss hanging from each limb come to life, reaching for its mate. The wind sent a shiver up her shadowed arm, despite the sun sparkling across her bare feet.

The birds sang their springtime song, calling out to their friends to come share in the warmth that the shallow water of the bath provides. The blue jay, its feathers the color of the ocean on a warm summer day, dips its beak in and sprays the water about.

An ant crawls up the chair she lays on, trying to sneak a taste of the chocolate scent he follows. She breaks off a piece and savors the richness of it. Her fingers are covered with the melted sweetness and she absently smudges the page of her book, engulfed in the words that fill the page.

There is noise of road work in the distance, the constant humming of a machine that moves dirt around the road it’s working to fix. A project that is long past due and yet provides the familiar comfort of an old friend.

It is the type of spring day that leaves your soul calling out for more; wondering what life has to offer, what comes next in this world, what adventure awaits. A day for reflection and thought.

But all of that is lost on her, as she is adrift in a world that is not her own. A world filled with fantasy and fight and hope, a battle being fought that is not her own. Today, she has no anxieties, no fears, and no worries. Just the words on this page and the next and the one that follows that.

Today, she is just a girl reading a book outside on a warm spring day.

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Today’s firsts

When my husband and I bought our house years ago, I was super excited for each holiday in it. Since it was our first home purchase, I wanted every holiday to be celebrated within our walls. We hosted each event and took pictures of every detail to create a scrapbook of our first year. When our son was born, this first year of excitement was amplified. Every holiday we decorated, did arts & crafts and celebrated that it was the first of many to come. Each milestone brought pictures and smiles (and books!) and traditions that we were determined to create for our little man. All of the firsts were filled with pure joy and lots of passion. Each day felt as though it brought new excitement.

Though it’s still early in the day, today has been a great day so far! After surgery, I wasn’t able to do much. Each day showed improvement but in general, the everyday tasks were not possible. Thankfully, I have an incredible husband and support system that has continued to help throughout this journey.

Today though…today was a day of firsts for me.

  • I woke up in my very own bed. I have spent the last 2 weeks sleeping in the recliner in our living room. My sweet husband has spent every night next to me on our couch, often with little man snuggled in next to him. But not last night! I am still sleeping at an angle and mostly upright but just being in our bed was wonderful. I was surrounded by a sea of pillows, my warm comforter and my husband by my side. I was even able to get up into it and out of it all on my own!
  • Morning snuggles. Little man woke up in the middle of the night and Joe brought him into bed with us. After waking up this morning, Jacob cuddled up next to me and snuggled into the nook under my right arm. I haven’t had those sweet morning snuggles in two weeks. My goodness, how I missed them.
  • I unloaded the dishwasher. Though this is a relatively mundane task and often something I dread when coming home from work or waking up in the morning, I did this with a smile today. It is the little things in life that bring the purest joy and today’s joy had to do with being able to handle my own dishes.
  • I made breakfast – not just for me but for Joe too! Despite growing up with Chef Dad, I am not an excellent cook. Sadly the knack doesn’t reside in me, save for a few recipes that I have mastered over time. Today though, I made breakfast that consisted of roasted potatoes, bacon and eggs. Simple? Yes. Easy? Usually. The first I’ve made food for myself since surgery and therefore super exciting? Yes!

These firsts may not be things that I ever expected to get excited about but today, they made me smile ear to ear. I am tired despite the early hour and will probably go nap soon but I will enjoy this moment of progress for just a little while.

The 100th

When diagnosed with cancer, it’s hard to ignore the thought in the back of your mind that continuously asks Am I going to die?

In the middle of the night and when I feel the worst is usually when that dreaded thought creeps in and tries to wrap its tentacles around my happiness. I fight hard to keep those tentacles subdued but the reality is that I think about cancer for the majority of the day. Whether I’m dealing with appointments or phone calls or that forever painful lump or the medicine I take in the morning or before bed…cancer is always in my mind in some way.

I’ve mentioned before that I have dreamed of being a writer for as long as I can remember. I have always had an excuse as to why I didn’t have time to make that dream become a reality. My decision to start a blog came easily. I knew it was the right thing at the right time for me. It just made sense. Cancer put everything into perspective. It was the push that I needed to follow my dream.

Today, this very post, is my 100th blog post. If you had told me a year ago that I would have 100 blog posts, I probably would have laughed and been silently hopeful that it were true.

Cancer is scary. It is a reminder that life is short and that life is precious. It forces me to embrace each day and be grateful for it – for a fresh start and another chance to accomplish my dreams.

Tomorrow is not guaranteed. This is what I remind myself in the moments of darkness. We do not know what the future holds for us. Cancer is a reminder of that. But it is also the push that I needed in my life to pursue my passions. It is also a reminder that some things can wait until tomorrow (dishes, anyone?). What’s important is that today we enjoy the moment, embrace the day and love the people that make our life whole.

Here’s to 100 posts so far…and hundreds more to come!

The new countdown

Two weeks from today I will have surgery. I have been thinking about how this countdown to surgery feels similar to the prior countdown, and yet different. The first phase of this journey is complete and though there are still more phases before this journey ends, I still feel an odd sense of calm.

I was starting to feel the pressure of the looming surgery and all of the things that I want to get done ahead of time. It started to make me feel a little frantic and a bit nervous. My mind wandered a little and the fear crept in…but I reminded myself it’ll be ok. I can’t solve for everything but I can prepare. For me, that means that I’ve made my lists of things to get done prior to February (and started tackling those to-dos!), began the necessary paperwork for surgery and ordered a few books to catch up on reading.

I know recovery is going to be tough and I am dreading the pain/discomfort, the inability to lift and not sleeping in my own bed…but this is one surgery. (I will have reconstruction later in the year but it shouldn’t be as intense as this.) It isn’t 6 treatments that knock me on my butt for a week or more at a time, just to do it all over again once I start feeling better. It isn’t 1 day with 5 more looming behind it.

Yes, it is major surgery. Yes, it will be emotional. Yes, it will take time to heal. BUT I will heal – in so many ways.

Every day I will heal.

Every day I will get stronger.

Every day it will hurt a little less.

Every day I will be one step close to picking up my little man.

Every day will be one closer to my husband hugging me as tight as he can.

And every day I am one step closer to being completely done with this phase.

So I am ready for this countdown to begin, for the clock to start. Because at the end of it, I will be cancer free.