Friday, December 31, 2010

New Years Resolutions

At the end of one year and the start of another, many of us will renew our commitment to living with daily affirmations. I know the power of affirming my truth, over and over, everyday! While these may not suit everyone's taste, here are some "possible" affirmations to consider!

1. As I let go of my feelings of guilt, I am in touch with my inner sociopath.

2. I have the power to channel my imagination into ever-soaring levels of suspicion and paranoia.

3. I assume full responsibility for my actions, except the ones that are someone else's fault.

4. In some cultures what I do would be considered normal.

5. My intuition nearly makes up for my lack of wisdom and judgment.

6. I need not suffer in silence while I can still moan, whimper, and complain.

7. When someone hurts me, I know that forgiveness is cheaper than a lawsuit, but not nearly as rewarding.

8. I am at one with my duality.

9. Blessed are the flexible, for they can tie themselves in knots.

10. I will strive to live each day as if it were my 50th birthday.

11. I honor and express all facets of my being, regardless of state and local laws.

12. Today I will gladly share my experience and advice, for there are no sweeter words than "I told you so!"

13. A scapegoat is almost as good as a solution.

14. Just for today, I will not sit in my living room all day in my underwear. Instead, I will move my computer into the bedroom.

15. I will no longer waste my time reliving the past; I will spend it worrying about the future!

16. The complete lack of evidence is the surest proof that the conspiracy is working.

17. Before I criticize a man, I walk a mile in his shoes. That way, if he gets angry, he's a mile away and barefoot.

These were compiled by Steven M. Sultanoff, Ph.D. who always says that "humor matters".

Monday, December 27, 2010

What's in a name?

Have you heard about those name reports? It is to help you understand the principle of how the energy of your name affects all areas of your life. Well, I got one. Here is what it said:

Your name of Tamela has given you depth of mind and a studious, philosophical nature. You are interested in the deeper aspects of life and invariably are attracted to mystery, the occult, and religious concepts. You have a clever, quick, and analytical mind and you could enjoy and excel in music and drama, or along scientific and mathematical lines.

You are a solitary person, reserved and sensitive. You seldom allow others to get too close until you are sure you will receive understanding. In matters of the heart, you must guard against jealousy and suspicion. Others find it a challenge to get to know you and although you want affection, friendship, and understanding, your aloof, shy qualities rebuff the attention of others.

Because of the sensitivity of your nature, you are easily hurt and offended. You are constantly on guard for fear of being criticized or ridiculed. Even in being reprimanded, you tend to take a haughty attitude and refuse to be advised. You then feel misunderstood and lonely and your thoughts can become turbulent and despondent, occasionally morbid. If you feel that anyone is prying into your life, you try to steer conversations away from yourself. You do not find it easy to articulate your deeper thoughts and feelings; it is much easier for you to pen your thoughts. You could be very creative in composition or poetry. Although you would give anything to be spontaneous, fun-loving, and natural, your name makes you very serious and self-conscious instead. You are not the argumentative type, but you can admonish a person by saying nothing, your silent disapproval being felt by others.

You love books, especially mysteries and romance. You find companionship in novels and can become so absorbed in your reading that you are unaware of what is going on around you. Your vivid imagination places you right in the story and even if someone calls you, you may not hear.

You intensely love the outdoors and all the beauties of nature. A quiet walk in the outdoors, where you can listen to the sounds of nature, the wind in the trees, the lapping of water against a shoreline, the chirping of the birds, which become your companions, allow you to experience peace and freedom.

So, those of you who know me, how well does this fit me?

Sunday, December 26, 2010

What's important in life

It’s been a busy week here. It probably was for all of you too. I hope the time has been spent in preparation and celebration. I know all too well that cancer doesn’t take a holiday. There are some who will spend at least a portion of this joyous time fighting the fight. There are some who will continue to struggle with pain and discomfort, with nausea and other assorted side effects (like I did last Christmas). But I had no room for despair this holiday season. I live to spend it with my friends and family, living it to the fullest. I was lucky enough to reconnect with some old friends (Nora & Michelle), enjoying a lovely dinner at the Fiesta Cafe earlier in the week. After a quiet Christmas Eve at home with Hannah, Mike and Bert, we headed north on Christmas Day to spend it with the extended family in Streator. We swung through Pontiac to pick up Mom on the way through. Unfortunately, not everyone made it because of the weather (we have a 4-wheel drive so we often go places others fear to tread!) The day was filed with lots of food, stories and laughter. As we headed back to Pontiac to drop Mom off, we stopped in for a quick visit with my Dad and Stepmother, whom we hadn't seen in a while.
You see, when your mortality is staring you in the face, you realize what's important. It's not your job title, your bank account or your things - it's the people in your life. And the people who make a real difference in your life are not the ones with the most credentials, the most money, or the most awards. They are the ones that care.
I found this story out on the Internet and wanted to share it:

What's important in Life
A philosophy professor stood before his class and had some items in front of him.

When the class began, wordlessly he picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with rocks, rocks about 2" in diameter.

He then asked the students if the jar was full?
They agreed that it was.

So the professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles, of course, rolled into the open areas between the rocks.

He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

The professor picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else.

He then asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with an unanimous --yes.

The professor then produced two cans of beer from under the table and proceeded to pour their entire contents into the jar -- effectively filling the empty space between the sand.

The students laughed.

"Now," said the professor, as the laughter subsided, "I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The rocks are the important things – your family, your partner, your health, your children--things that if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full. The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house, your car. The sand is everything else. The small stuff."

"If you put the sand into the jar first," he continued "there is no room for the pebbles or the rocks. The same goes for your life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you.

"Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Play with your children. Take time to get medical checkups. Take your partner out dancing. There will always be time to go to work, clean the house, give a dinner party and fix the disposal.

"Take care of the rocks first -- the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand."

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the beer represented.

The professor smiled. "I'm glad you asked. It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there's always room for a couple of beers."

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Page of Wands

Page of WandsToday's tarot card is the Page of Wands; he has a passion for life, despite the fact (or maybe because of the fact) that he is still a child and his understanding of the world is not yet complete. He is a free spirit, not weighed down by the burdens of the material world, coming and going as he pleases, usually bringing change along for the ride. He is the catalyst that provokes changes that might be impossible in any other situation. When his energy enters your life it may manifest in one of three ways: as a person around you, as an event that you will experience, or as a part of yourself that you must bring to the fore. Only rarely is an external event signaled by the Page of Wands. He does act as a herald for the same activites as the other pages; the arrival of good news and the birth of children, for example. And in those cases he is a very good sign, particularly in the latter case because of his association with creation and conception. But the event he usually symbolizes is a different type of conception, the conception of an idea. The Page of Wands represents the brief creative spark that comes to you, suddenly and unexpectedly, and that starts you down the road of a new creative vision. Your life will never be the same once he comes into it.
Sometimes this spark will appear in your life as a person who embodies the physical or mental qualities of the Page of Wands. Such a person often has a vivid and childlike imagination, though they may neither realize it is there or know how to develop it for creative purposes. As such his ambitions are high but not unattainable; he will challenge himself but he will probably not overstep his limits unless pushed to do so. As a Wands card, ethics are always high on his list of priorities. He accepts change because he is the agent of change, the catalyst and the creative visionary. He is also a faithful lover with almost unlimited passion and enthusiasm. There is, of course, a Page of Wands lying within each of us waiting for a chance to manifest (if it is not doing so already!). When he does appear in your life it often comes at a time when you need his passion for life and his total fearlessness. His greatest power, in fact, is the power to deal with fears by facing them and seeing them for what they are. The light of his inner fire can expose the dark demons that you have been so afraid of, and show you that what you were running from was yourself all along. Once you see that your fears are nothing but parts of you, you can integrate them into yourself and grow stronger. Leave your fear behind and you'll be surprised how much freedom you'll win.
The Page of Wands card suggests that my power today lies in experimentation. I enthusiastically initiate new, extreme or novel opportunities for adventure, fads, connections or enterprise and am an active and image conscious player in the game of life. I am empowered by signs of approval for my performance and I transform through arousal and charisma. Tonight I enjoyed dinner and good conversation with my BFF Deb. We actually discussed some new ideas we had for our future! Sounds like the Page is working his magic!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Now, on with life!

I must have been waiting on "pins and needles" without knowing it. I wasn't prepared for the rush of emotion that came with hearing the news, "It's not cancer". I was so prepared to hear that it was cancer, the flood of relief that flowed through me could've filled a swimming pool! I had let my guard down and that damned devil, named Cancer, snuck up and tapped me on the shoulder. Of course he then ran like hell with me hot on his tail! After the original diagnosis, I felt like I stepped into the middle of a silent hurricane. There was a roar and a rage that spun my life in a direction I had never anticipated. You see, being diagnosed with cancer is a close brush with your mortality. The reality of one's own death is suddenly very close, having moved from an abstract inevitability to a very real, possible outcome. Your safety, security and optimism about your life and the future is shaken. The world is revealed as unfair.
When diagnosed you are suddenly cocooned in a surreal world with doctors appointments, chemo infusions and for some, daily radiation. Chemotherapy, for those who have not experienced it, is no picnic. There are all sorts of chemicals they use to poison the cancer cells. Imagine your worst hangover ever, and nothing you do makes it feel any better. Not drinking, not sleeping, not eating. And this lasts for days. Eventually there comes a time when the doctors smile kindly and tell you to go live the rest of your life. When treatment ends, your family and friends assume you are cured and say silly things like they can't believe how good you look. Hell yeah, I look good, I just kicked cancer's ass!!! So, what does life after cancer look like?
I think you just go on. You live each moment as it happens. I'm embarking on another leg of the trip. This one is all about adjusting to life as a breast cancer survivor. In many ways, it should be a lot like the life I had before, but in other ways, it will be very different. Call it my "new normal." This is what I discovered through my cancer journey:

1. I have never felt so loved. I had so much support from my family, friends, colleagues, and derby girls. People gave me books, movies, flowers, brought me food, chocolate, and plenty of other goodies. I experienced a real tsunami of love. People around the world were praying for me, many I had never met. I felt connected and cherished. However it was not that the cancer caused love to flow; rather it was the realization that this love had been around me all the time but I had been so busy, so focused on my narrow little life, that I did not feel open to it. Like a sledgehammer, cancer cracked open my awareness to giving and receiving an abundance of love. I feel it flow effortlessly in my life now.

2. Compassion. I gained even more compassion for people - you just never know what they have been through. I now treat every encounter with another person with a lot more grace and care. I approach them from a foundation of compassion. This is a much more gentle and peaceful way to engage with others. Most important of all, I gained compassion for myself. I stopped judging myself so harshly, stopped trying to be perfect.

3. In facing death, I learned about life. In the middle of chemotherapy as I lay on the couch, feeling dreadful, gazing out the window, I started to notice the sunlight on the leaves, the blue of the sky, the birds at the birdfeeder. It was magic. And I realized that everywhere there was a compulsive and unrelenting push for life. But whether you have cancer or not, none of us knows what is going to happen tomorrow, next week, or in five years from now. You can choose to live in fear, or you can choose to live in possibility and joy. All any of us ever have is now, this moment - right here right now. And those moments are magic.

To celebrate I'm going to sign myself up for Blood and Thunder's roller derby camp scheduled for February in Corpus Christi, Texas! Derby On!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Hanged Man

I find it ironic that yesterday I'm lying on a table with my boob hanging through a hole and today's tarot card is the Hanged Man! The Hanged Man is Odin, the Norse god who hung from the World Tree for nine days to earn the knowledge of the Runes. Of all the cultures who embody the search for knowledge in their myths, only Odin carries out his quest without moving, at least in the physical sense. The true quest is seeking within, not without. This may be confusing at first, but only because the Hanged Man is the card of the paradox. The Hanged Man's mysteries are some of the oddest yet most enlightening the Tarot has to offer, and they cannot be learned by searching for lessons in the physical world - you must turn within.
Even the appearance of the card is paradoxical. Simple in design, it is one of the more complex Arcana. The lessons it offers are easy to understand but hard to accept when they apply to you. The most obvious answer to a problem may be the simplest, but it is rarely the best. To admit that you are afraid will give you the strength to conquer your fear. When you relinquish your desire for control, everything begins to work as it should. In a world in which you must run as fast as you can to stay where you are, the Hanged Man tells you to stop struggling - and you can move forward. Tell this to others and it seems obvious; try to do it yourself and it will become impossible.
Why is this? Telling others that they have to hang from a tree is simple, but no one wants to hang himself. The Hanged Man, however, has hung himself, and see how much wisdom he has found! Despite his obviously uncomfortable position, he is often pictured as smiling, and with a golden halo around his head to show divine inspiration and power. He is totally vulnerable to the world, and in his vulnerability he has found strength. The sacrifice he has made is his own freedom and power in the physical world; in exchange, he is granted real freedom and power on the spiritual plane. He gives up his old ways of looking at things and is blessed with new eyes.
Not all sacrifices are major ones. Each moment of your life you make sacrifices. By choosing to eat with a friend rather than eating alone, you sacrifice your solitude. Choosing to play a sport professionally means that you cannot play another as frequently. Choosing one job means that you have to sacrifice any desires for another job, at least for the time being. The only thing in common between all sacrifices is that you give up something you have in exchange for something you want, of equal value. The sacrifice is meaningless unless there is balance and purpose behind it. To give without intent is worse than giving too much or too little.
As the card of the paradox, the Hanged Man also urges you to look at things in a new and different way. If your mind is yelling at you to do something, then doing nothing could be the best thing to do. If something is important to you emotionally but it no longer serves a purpose, you might want to think about letting go of it. And don't try to force anything to happen while the Hanged Man is about. By trying to force changes, you ensure that they never happen. Relax and let things happen instead of trying to interfere. Instead of fighting against the current, let it take you wherever it is flowing.
When the Hanged Man appears, know that greater wisdom and happiness is at hand, but only if you are prepared to sacrifice something for that wisdom. Sometimes it is something physical you must be deprived of, but in most cases it is a perspective or a viewpoint that must be left behind. For example, a fantasy that you can never fulfill, or a crush on someone who's out of your reach. Inevitably, sacrificing something you value will always lead you to something even more valuable. In the wake of an unattainable dream you will find something else within your reach. Forgetting about one desire will allow your heart to open to another.
I have been fighting to stay in the domestic violence field but I think the Universe is telling me to let it go. Visualize this: One big-ass book, large enough to fit people inside it. This past year I could "see" myself hanging half inside, half outside, near the final chapter. I struggled to stay inside but others were jumping on the front cover, trying to squeeze me out. Well, as you know, I was "squeezed out" this past summer and have been scrambling ever since to get back in! I thought the job in the Florida was the answer but I guess not. So lets just see what the Universe has in store for me!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Does your boob hang low, does it wobble to and fro?

Today was the biopsy. Right now I have an ice pack on my boob and am eating Aleve for the dull ache I'm having. They showed me the x-rays, which had 2 spots of calcification, one close to the nipple (which caused the most concern). Again they reminded me that 80% of calcifications are not cancerous but if it is cancer, it has been caught very early this time. The procedure was fairly quick as it was completed in under an hour. The process was as follows:

1. I laid face down on a moveable exam table and the affected (right) breast was positioned into a hole in the table.
2. The table was then raised as the procedure is performed beneath it.
3. The breast was compressed and held in position throughout the procedure.
4. A local anesthetic was injected into the breast to numb it.
5. Several stereotactic pairs of x-ray images were taken.
6. A very small nick was made in the skin at the site where the biopsy needle was to be inserted.
7. The radiologist then inserted the needle and advanced it to the location of the abnormality using the x-ray and computer generated coordinates. X-ray images were again taken to confirm that the needle tip was actually within the lesion.
8. Tissue samples were then removed using the vacuum-assisted method. It made a "grinding" noise, causing me to wonder if he was grinding my boob off! With a vacuum-assisted device (VAD), vacuum pressure is used to pull tissue from the breast through the needle into the sampling chamber. Without withdrawing and reinserting the needle, it rotates positions and collects additional samples. At least eight to 10 samples of tissue were collected from around the lesions. The suction reminded me of a breast pump!
9. After the sampling, the needle was removed.
10. A final set of images were taken.
11. A small marker was placed at the site so that it can be located in the future if necessary.
12. Once the biopsy was completed, pressure was applied for 10 minutes to stop any bleeding.
13. Then the opening in the skin was covered with a dressing.
14. A mammogram was then performed to confirm that the marker was in the proper position. Unfortunately, compressing it made it start to bleed!
15. My chest was then wrapped to keep pressure on the site to stop the bleeding.

I am told that the results should be back in 2-3 days so keep your fingers crossed!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

TCDG Banquet

"The best thing about the future is that it only comes one day at a time"
-Abraham Lincoln
Last night was our roller derby banquet. It was one hell of a party - dining, drinking & dancing! As Coach La so rightly pointed out, we had a lot to celebrate. We are one awesome league. Awards were given out and due to our fight against breast cancer, my esteemed league mate, Kim (a/k/a Coffey Break-Her) and I were both named Most Inspirational. I'm proud to share the award with her as Kim is one of the best women I have ever met. She truly understands this battle.
Roller derby is the best thing going on in my life for many reasons. Lets face it, derby is the only year-round amateur sport where you can:

- play in front of paying fans against teams from all over the area
- maintain some anonymity while becoming semi-famous
- “win” the after-bout party
- be surrounded by athletic women – some of whom have great "boutfits"
- let every inhibition you have fly out the window
- have the strongest legs in town
- smell like road kill and vomit simmering on the stove
- make hundreds of new friends – all of whom enjoy life to the fullest

It’s a multi-level, interdependant relationship where I’m constantly evolving. I’m very aware of what physical activity does for my serotonin levels. After practice I always feel better about my life. One of the best things to have happened to me was being given this award. It’s so amazing to be validated by the community you’re immersed in. That thoughtful gesture made me stop and think for awhile and got me to see myself for who I really am. Who doesn’t love having an outlet to shine in and to be appreciated for it? Roller Derby has connected me to a local community of awesome women.
What my league mates don't realize is how much they inspire me. Every derby move is magic because you are making something happen. With inspiration and perspiration, enthusiasm and hard work come results. There are many skills that I hope to improve upon, and watching others gracefully execute them gives me inspiration. The Twin City Derby Girls have some stellar athletes who play at a competitive level that I hunger for. I greatly admire our founding members and local superstars of roller derby. I look up to them in awe, like a kid watching Michael Jordan fly through the air in a slam dunk from the foul line.
It has certainly been my privilege to skate with all the TC Derby Girls. Thank you all for sharing your strength, passion and commitment with me. A big shout out to The 'Paign and Coach Rice for giving me the will to continue this breast cancer battle. I look forward to next season!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Hurry up and wait...

The doctors have decided that I may need a mammotome biopsy. My mammogram x-rays will be sent over to the hospital where they will be evaluated to see if the mammotome biopsy can be done. If so, they will schedule it. If not, other options will have to be explored. A breast biopsy using the Mammotome Biopsy System offers a minimally invasive alternative to an open surgical biopsy, the most common method, which can leave scarring and result in disfigurement of the breast. Through the use of imaging methods such as X-ray or ultrasound, a breast abnormality or lump can be detected, even in its earliest stages. Using the same imaging methods, a physician can guide a Mammotome probe into a suspicious area of the breast to gently collect the abnormal tissue through one small, ¼-inch incision. With this system, a breast biopsy can be performed in an outpatient setting under local anesthesia. A doctor can make a precise analysis with minimal pain, scarring and recovery time. The biopsy procedure takes less than an hour, and patients can return to their normal daily activities immediately. The patient lies face down on a special table with the breast protruding through a hole in the table, which allows for a clear mammographic image of the area. The table is connected to a computer that processes digital images. Placement of the sampling device is guided by a computerized system using x-rays. The procedure involves the one-time insertion of a probe directly into the area of the breast that appeared suspicious based on a physical exam or an abnormal mammogram finding. The doctor guides the probe through the use of ultrasound or stereotactic imaging systems. Once inside, the Mammotome gently vacuums out suspicious tissue for analysis.
The entire procedure looks like this: First, the skin of the breast is cleaned. Then, a small amount of local anesthetic (lidocaine), similar to what one might have at a dentist’s office, is injected into the skin and deeper tissues of the breast using a small hypodermic needle. Under stereotactic or ultrasound guidance, the radiologist or breast surgeon positions the special breast probe into the area of the breast where the lesion (abnormality) is located. Afer the probe has been properly positioned, a vacuum line draws the breast tissue through the aperture of the probe into the sampling chamber of the device. Once the tissue is in the sampling chamber, the rotating cutting device is advanced and a tissue sample is captured. The tissue sample is then carried through the probe to the tissue collection area (a standard pathology tissue cassette). After a tissue sample is captured, the radiologist or surgeon then rotates the thumbwheel of the probe, moving the sampling chamber approximately 30 degrees to new position. The entire cycle is repeated, until all desired areas have been sampled (typically, eight to 10 samples of breast tissue are taken 360 degrees around the lesion). When a sufficient number of tissue samples have been collected, the radiologist or surgeon will remove the probe and apply pressure to the biopsy site. An adhesive bandage will be applied to the skin nick. In some cases, a small sterile clip will be placed into the biopsy site of the breast to mark the location in case a future biopsy is needed. This microclip is left inside the breast and causes no pain, disfigurement, or harm to the patient. After the biopsy is complete, the tissue samples will be sent to the pathology laboratory for diagnosis.
This is what the instrument looks like:

The surgeon tried to reassure me by telling me that 80% of biopsies result in a benign diagnosis. To that, I replied, "Have we met? I always fall into that small percentage!" He just smiled and told me not to jump the gun. This is so emotionally exhausting! When will they learn to listen to me?

Monday, November 8, 2010

Why does God hate me so much?

It has been one emotional roller coaster of a day. I really would like to know why God hates me so much! I had my annual mammogram today, which should be half-price since I only have one boob, right? (Be warned, radiologists have no sense of humor!) And of course they found some "suspicious" spots in the remaining breast that were not there last year. Then I learned that recurrences in HER2-positive breast cancer tend to happen in the first year or two. Damn, just when I thought treatment was ending. I have a surgical consult on Thursday. I knew they should've taken them both last year! I have been having a recurring nightmare that I was going to have to continue treatment and now it just might be true! My response to this turn of events was to turn the music up loud, sing at the top of my lungs and dance to the Time Warp!!! I didn't give a damn if anyone saw me! It's a great stress reliever.
I was feeling so good about treatment ending and moving forward with my life. I decided that I needed to "inspire" other survivors and was just approved to be an Imerman Mentor Angel. Imerman Angels carefully matches and individually pairs a person touched by cancer (a cancer fighter or survivor) with someone who has fought and survived the same type of cancer (a Mentor Angel). These one-on-one relationships give a cancer fighter or caregiver the chance to ask personal questions and get support from someone who has been there before. Mentor Angels can lend support and empathy and help cancer fighters and caregivers navigate the system, determine their options and create their own support systems. Imerman Angels was created on the belief that no one should have to fight cancer alone and without the necessary support. At 26 years old, Jonny Imerman was diagnosed with testicular cancer and began his fight against the disease. Throughout his experience, Jonny was lucky enough to have loving support from his family and friends but had never met anyone his age who was a cancer survivor. He wanted to talk to someone just like him, someone who truly understood, and was intimately familiar with his experience. In short, he was looking for someone who had already beaten the same type of cancer. This was the beginning of Jonny’s vision and in 2003, it became a reality when he founded Imerman Angels. Jonny was at the YSC breast cancer symposium on Saturday at Parkland, so I had a chance to meet him.
Then I learned this afternoon that the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence wants to do a phone interview with me tomorrow regarding their Domestic Violence & Brain Injury Project Coordinator position! YEAH! They are looking for someone with knowledge, skills and at least three years experience working with survivors of DV. Candidates also need knowledge of traumatic brain injury and experience working with individuals living with a brain injury. Also knowledge of root causes of violence against women and oppressed groups; experience coordinating partners for statewide committees; experience managing grants including report writing and successfully meeting required outcomes; experience with a coordinated community response to domestic violence; experience conducting a statewide needs assessment; and, a consistent employment history. The job is based in Tallahassee, Florida and requires extensive in-state and some national travel. Now doesn't that sound perfect for me?! So, first bad news, then good news and now hope for a somewhat "normal" life. So I need your positive thoughts, prayers and best wishes as well as an answer to my question!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Went to a costume party...

My apologies to Ricky Nelson for "changing" the words to Garden Party! Hopefully he is not rolling over in his grave.

Last night I went to a costume party to party with my TCDG friends
A chance to share our memories and drink our booze again
When I got to the costume party, though they all knew my name
No one recognized me, I didn't look the same

But it's all right now, I learned my lesson well.
You see, ya can't please everyone, so ya got to please yourself

People came from miles around, everyone was there
Hot Tamale brought her snake, there was magic in the air
'n' over in the corner, much to my surprise
Ref Butler blended right in as a derby girl, wearing his disguise


lott-in-dah-dah-dah, lot-in-dah-dah-dah

Heard all of our favorite songs, though that's not why we came
No one heard the music, we didn't look the same
I said hello to Victor, but he was scared of me
When all the booze was gone, it was time to leave


lot-dah-dah-dah (lot-dah-dah-dah)

Someone opened up the front door and in came Elvis
Playing guitar like a-ringin' a bell while shakin' his pelvis
If you go to a costume party, I wish you a lotta luck
But if crazy costumes are all there are, next time I'll dress up like a disco duck


lot-dah-dah-dah (lot-dah-dah-dah)

'n' it's all right now, learned my lesson well
You see, ya can't please everyone, so you got to please yourself

Many thanks to Lindsey for throwing the party. It was great fun! Kudos to TCDG for knowing "how" to party!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Life sucks!

For the past few weeks I've felt so crappy - physically, I mean. I thought it was the sinus infection but that's long gone and I'm still feeling crappy. I had some bloodwork done and I see my primary care physician next week. Maybe then we can figure out what's going on. It's worrisome because it makes me think the cancer is at fault. It is said that women with HER2-positive breast cancer have a more aggressive disease and a higher risk of recurrence than those who do not have this type. I only have 2 Herceptin treatments left yet here I am worrying about recurrence and having to go through this all over again! In a clinical trial, Herceptin was started with different kinds of chemotherapies. Some women received Herceptin with chemotherapies called docetaxel and carboplatin. This is the protocol I received. Women who received this treatment had a 33% lower risk of breast cancer returning compared with those who received chemotherapy alone. Not the best odds.
It's bad enough that I feel like crap but now I seem to be losing interest in everything. Sometimes it's all I can do to haul my ass up off the couch and get moving. I'm not sure why I feel so disinterested. I have stayed positive throughout this whole fight but now I just don't seem to care about much. I think it started when I met Rachel, the one-eyed cat. I realized that it is a cold, cruel world we live in. I just wanted to scoop her up, take her home and love & protect her but due to allergies, we can't have cats. I was hoping I could talk one of my friends into taking her (with my financial assistance) so I could visit her often but so far no one has. I can't help but feel that I am supposed to take care of her. She's a kindred spirit - she has one eye, I have one boob. We should be in this together!
I have heard that as treatment ends, you may miss the support you got from your health care team. You may feel as if your safety net has been pulled away and that you get less attention and support from health care providers now that treatment is over. Feelings like these are normal any time your regular contact with people who mean a lot to you comes to an end. Is that what I'm feeling? Or is it the fact I'm still unemployed and still searching for my purpose in life? Maybe that's why I'm so attached to the cat!? Perhaps I need medication...

Monday, September 27, 2010

Visit the NAPA Know How Facebook Page

October is breast cancer awareness month. I have learned that NAPA AUTO PARTS and NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Martin Truex, Jr., are teaming up with Susan G. Komen for the Cure to honor breast cancer victims, survivors and supporters via a special, one-of-a-kind fan-generated paint scheme featuring the names of individuals affected by breast cancer. From now to Oct. 11, consumers can submit the names of loved ones affected by breast cancer to appear on the No. 56 NAPA Toyota by making a minimum donation of $5.60 via the NAPA Know How Facebook page ( The NAPA Signature Car application allows you to enter a name and select the area of the car where you would like the dedication to appear. Your dedication will then be featured on the #56 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota for the November 7th NASCAR Sprint Cup Race at Texas Motor Speedway. With the help of fan donations, NAPA is hoping to raise at least $250,000 for Susan G. Komen for the Cure during National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and to recognize more than 56,000 individuals affected by breast cancer with the custom paint scheme.
In 1982, Susan G. Komen for the Cure was established by Nancy Goodman Brinker, after a promise to her dying sister, Susan G. Komen, that she would do everything in her power to end breast cancer. Since its inception, the nonprofit has raised over $1.5 billion for research, education and health services, making it the largest breast cancer charity in the world. Komen has more than 75,000 volunteers nationwide, 122 affiliates in the United States (47 of 50 states), and 3 affiliates in other countries. The organization has resulted in the development of many new treatment options and a higher quality of life overall for breast cancer patients and long-term survivors. Brinker served as founding chairman of the organization, supervising all aspects of initial growth. On December 2, 2009, Brinker was appointed CEO. She also pioneered cause marketing, allowing millions to participate in the fight against breast cancer through businesses that share Komen's commitment to end the disease.
Brinker faced an immediate uphill battle: newspapers balked at printing the words “breast cancer,” no one talked openly about the disease, there were no 800-numbers, no internet and few, if any, support groups. Few treatment options existed for breast cancer patients and limited resources were committed to the disease. In a matter of years, Brinker broke the silence around breast cancer, and Komen for the Cure is now the world’s largest grassroots network of breast cancer survivors and activists fighting to save lives, empower people, ensure quality care for all and energize science to find the cures.
Please help support this great cause!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Squirrel rescue

The saying, "You learn something new every day" was certainly true today. We rescued an orphaned, newborn, baby squirrel. His nest had blown out of a tree and his mother didn't come back for him so we warmed him up and took him to the UI Wildlife Medical Clinic (WMC). The clinic said they will place him in an incubator, nurse him and then get him to a wildlife rehabilitation center. This is what I learned: If you find a baby squirrel fallen out of the tree or displaced because of tree cutting, put it in a box at the base of a tree where the mother has been seen and wait for the mother to come. (Mother squirrels keep at least two nests throughout the year. She will move the babies to the other nest). Keep people and animals away! If the baby is cold, put a hot water bottle or jar full of warm water in the box with it. If it is near night time, keep the baby inside until morning and then place the baby in the box with a hot water bottle or jar of warm water, if necessary, at the base of the tree again. You can leave the squirrel inthe box for up to 48 hours. If the mother does not return before the 48 hours, then you have an orphan. I must say that the operation at the UI is pretty impressive.
Their mission is threefold: to provide care and treatment to sick, injured, or orphaned wild animals to the point where they can be returned to the wild; to provide hands-on training to veterinary students; and through our public education program, to teach the members of our community about the environment in which they live and the wildlife they share it with. The Wildlife Medical Clinic accepts ill, injured, or orphaned wildlife (except for skunks and bats) 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Upon presentation, the animals are triaged and then assigned to a team of 8-10 volunteers (generally veterinary students) who are responsible for treating the patient. The primary goal in treating wild animals is to help animals recover to a state in which they can be released into the wild. Wild animals must be 100% before being released into the wild in order for them to hunt or forage for food, as well as stay out of danger. Unfortunately, many of the animals we receive are so debilitated (in order for them to be caught in the first place), that they will never be released. A rabbit with a lame leg will quickly fall prey to another animal, and an owl that can't fly will slowly starve to death. If an animal is not able to be returned to the wild, the WMC elects to humanely euthanize the animal.. Occasionally permanent homes are found for the patients where they will be cared for and protected. The Wildlife Medical Clinic is a non-profit organization that depends solely on fund-raising, donations, and grants for its operating budget. If you would like to support the WMC's mission of conservation, public education, and veterinary teaching make a donation to the WMC. Donations can now be made online!
You might be asking, so what does rescuing a squirrel have to do with breast cancer? It reminded me of how fragile life can be. I've been contemplating how the destructive qualities of disease and death seem to come so easily. An automobile accident, a bout with cancer, or a thousand other everyday occurrences remind us of the delicate balance of life. We are constantly on the razor's edge: a single slip and we are severed from what we know in this world. So, live your life to the fullest. Stop giving excuses for not doing certain things that you really want to do. Also, if you feel like you’re wasting your time doing something, then make a change. If you think there’s something you really want to try, go for it. And if there’s someone that you really miss, give him/her a call. Don’t just sit there doing nothing and waste your life. Life is too short.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Do I owe him an apology?

About a month ago I wrote about living life with no regrets. One of the items I talked about was making amends. I wrote, "If my past actions or words have harmed others, apologies may be in order. Or not, as apologies can be tricky. I have to judge for myself if an apology will help matters or only drudge up old wounds better left alone. But, I definitely have to forgive myself! Nobody is perfect. We all make mistakes. Unfortunately, righting a wrong is not always feasible. There may be some past action that cannot be righted; so if there are, I must forgive myself, and let it go." I've been thinking that I need to apologize to my ex-husband as the failure of our marriage wasn't all his fault (mostly but not all). It's taken over 20 years for me to admit my part in the failed marriage and I've been thinking I should apologize for my part but I never see him and don't know where he lives.
Then, lo and behold, today I ran into him at the Social Security Office of all places. Mike and I were there to order a new Medicare card as Mike has lost his wallet which had the Medicare card in it. Paul was there with his fiance so I did not approach him. He saw me and made eye contact but didn't say a word. Perhaps if it had been just the two of us, I would've approached him. As I thought about it, I was afraid that I might actually choke on the apology. So I got to wondering if I even owe him an apology? Then I realized that to "make amends" is not the same thing as to "make an apology." To "make amends" for something you've done means you make up for, or compensate for, the injury, insult, infidelity, or aggression you have perpetrated. The point is to make the sorry situation right, not to unload your guilty feelings on the other party. It's been over 20 years since that marriage disintegrated and there is no going back, so there is no way to make amends for it. But I guess it is still possible to apologize.

It's my "Cancerversary"!

Happy "cancerversary" to me! One year ago today my life changed forever. I remember sitting in the doctor's office as the surgeon said those dreaded words, "You have cancer". And with those words, I became a breast cancer survivor. There is much discussion in the breast cancer world as to when you start marking the point at which you went from being an average Jane walking down the street to the "breast cancer survivor." Is it from the point of diagnosis? Is it from the point at which you had you surgery to remove the cancer? Is it when you are done with treatments? A "cancerversary" marks the annual recurrence of the date of a survivor's original diagnosis, although it can also mark any notable event in someone's cancer journey (such as the date of the completion of treatment, the receipt of a bone or stem cell transplant, etc). Though these are all important milestones, for me the process of "surviving" began the minute I was diagnosed. If you are thrown into the pool and tread water for a while you don't count your journey from when you are pulled out of the pool, you mark it from when you were thrown into the water. Some days it seems like it has taken forever to get here and other days it seems like only yesterday.
It is the day that my life as I knew it ended, and a new life began. Because no matter what the outcome, life is never the same after a cancer diagnosis. It feels rather momentous, partly because my life took such a dramatic change on the day I was diagnosed, but also because of the relief that I have made it through this first year. For the last several weeks, I thought about my upcoming cancerversary with a combination of pride, dread, sadness, happiness, and relief. Sound schizophrenic? Welcome to life as a cancer survivor. The past year has been filled with ups and downs, good days and bad, and a lot of emotions. What does one do to celebrate a cancerversary? Go out to dinner? Throw a party? Buy yourself something nice? My answer is this: you celebrate that you got to wake up this morning. And that's enough for me to want to pop a bottle of champagne. This may not be the life I ordered but it is the life I’m living.

I lost
one breast
most of my hair
mental clarity
all sense of modesty
a few friends along the way
my life's work

I found
gray hair
tremendous respect for my family
true knowledge of who my friends are
new friends
a sisterhood with other survivors
a realization of how resilient I truly am
freedom to be my "true" self
roller derby

The more I think about it, I've decided that I want a Mad Hatter's Tea Party to mark this milestone! It is a tea party inspired by Alice In Wonderland (in case you didn't get the mad hatter reference). It should have vivid colors and a mixture of textures. It should have a random, mismatched feel that I can identify with... if that makes any sense at all. Afternoon tea is quite possibly one of my favorite things in the world. Just the thought of colorful pots of tea, dainty cups and saucers, and sweet conversation over cookies makes me feel relaxed and wonderfully domestic. It also evokes sweet memories of tea with my great aunt Pauline when I was a small child. It was how I knew I was loved.
I was not prepared for the roller coaster of emotions that today has brought. One minute I'm grateful to be alive and the next I'm annoyed by life in general. I'm not obsessed with the fear of recurrence, but I do think about it and I also think about the fact that one day I will die of something, whether it's breast cancer or something else, a lot more than I used to. I have also dreamed of my death, which is far less scary then you'd think. I will say it has taken me this entire year to feel that my life has gotten back to "normal", or rather a "new normal". Time to start planning that Tea Party in order to say Cuck Fancer! I win!!!

Friday, September 3, 2010

A fond farewell to Ghirley

Last night we bid our good friend (and Vice President of the Twin City Derby Girls) Amber "Ghirley Manson" Carmer a fond farewell. Now that she's finished her Master's, she's leaving us to head back home. I don't think she knows exactly how much we will miss her. I will admit to shedding a few tears on the way home last night. But we sent her out in true derby girl fashion - alcohol, dancing & karaoke! For those of you who don't know, Amber worked for Rape Crisis Services when it was a program of A Woman's Fund. So, yes, I was her "boss". I think that's why she likes to pummel me on the track--it's payback! I've always recognized Amber's passion and drive but it was a real pleasure getting to know her in this capacity. It was her initiative that helped bring this league to fruition. I don't know if I have ever appropriately expressed her "awesomeness". You see, she's the reason I belong to TCDG.
I'm not sure she even remembers the conversation that evening in early February when I attended the Talk Derby To Me fundraiser at Boltini's. I was fascinated by roller derby but I attended the fundraiser thinking I'd become a volunteer. I was too old to skate and after all I was fighting an aggressive breast cancer. I was smack in the middle of chemo, feeling like death warmed over and complaining about my shitty life. Leave it to Amber to cut to the chase. She pretty much told me to put on my big girl panties and bring my bitchin' ass to Saturday's practice before deciding not to skate. She was so right. That turned out to be the kick in the ass I needed. She truly saved my life. That Saturday, although I was slightly off balance due to the missing breast, I skated and managed to keep up with the others. That was the day I decided that cancer didn't get to win. So many people thought I was crazy to join a roller derby league but my league mates didn't. They accepted me (minus 1 boob) and made me feel a part of them. I understand why it's so hard for her to leave us.
I can never truly express my gratitude to Amber for her work to make TCDG happen and for giving me that kick in the ass. Ghirley Manson will always be near and dear to my heart. So to Amber I say a million times, "Thank You". I love you, I'll miss you and always know that you have a home here with TCDG. Good luck to you in whatever you do. I know you'll be absolutely fabulous!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Crazy dreams

Last night I had the craziest dream! I dreamed that The 'Paign was traveling to Europe for a roller derby exhibition! But I was running late and once I finally arrived at the airport I couldn't find my ticket or passport in the mess I call my purse although I knew they were there. To dream that you are part of a team, indicates the importance of working together. The dream may be a metaphor that you have your life in order. To dream that you are traveling, represents the path toward your life goals. It also parallels your daily routine and how you are progressing along. Alternatively, traveling signifies a desire to escape from your daily burdens. You are looking for a change in scenery, where no one has any expectations of you. Perhaps it is time to make a fresh start. To see a busy airport in your dream, signifies the desire for freedom, high ideals, ambition, and hopes. It is an indication that you are approaching a new departure in your life. Some new idea is taking off or is ready to take off. You may be experiencing a new relationship, new career path or new adventure.
Being late or unable to find your destination highlight some anxiety or agitation that you are experiencing in your waking life. These dreams usually have to do with your self-esteem and confidence or the lack of. You tend to believe in the worst about yourself and are often overly worried that you are not making the grade and measuring up to other people's expectations of you. You may also experience the fear of not being accepted, not being prepared, or not being good enough. If you are not from Europe and dream that you are there, then it indicates that you need to be more expressive. You also need to take time for more leisurely or artistic pursuits. Alternatively, dreaming of Europe indicates original thought or old ways of thinking.
To see a ticket in your dream, represents the price you need to pay to attain your goals. You have decided on your path in life. A ticket signifies the start of a new endeavor. Consider also the type of ticket. A plane, bus or train ticket symbolizes the price you pay to get ahead in life. To dream that you lose a ticket, denotes confusion and ambiguity in the direction of your life. To see a passport in your dream, represents your identity and your ability to traverse through various situations. You are experiencing new found freedom to do what you want and go where you want. You may be going through a period of self-discovery. To dream that you lose your passport, indicates that you are trying to find yourself and get a sense of who you are. Alternatively, the dream means that opportunities are closing off to you. To see or carry a purse in your dream, represents secrets, desires and thoughts which are being closely held and guarded. It symbolizes your identity and sense of self. Consider also the condition of the purse for indications of your state of mind and feelings.
Wow! So what does the dream mean? Ever since I've been unemployed, I have felt pretty useless. I think this then translates into derby because I always fear letting my team down. I do believe I am at a crossroads in my life and searching for a new path. It's all so confusing. Anyone have any other thoughts?

Saturday, August 28, 2010

God I love this sport!

You may be getting tired of hearing my expound on and on about Roller Derby but too damn bad! Once you're hooked, you are really hooked. Just ask any derby girl, they'll tell you. It's like that Cheerios commercial where the woman says, "I'll keep playing until I break a hip and then probably a few more years"! Last night The 'Paign played the Damaging Dames. I'm not even sure what the final score was but I know we lost. Congrats to the Dames for a fine show!!! Special thanks to the Hot Tamale fans who came to watch: Mike, Mom, Bert, Hannah, Megan, Sue, Todd, Steve, Deb, Countrell, Kim, Amanda, Anna, Leslie, Sven, Johnell, Karrie, Lori & Lori's friend (sorry didn't catch her name). Bert made the awesome poster there in the picture and she & Mom tossed boxes of Hot Tamales to those in the stands. I understand that even some of the Dames fans took some so I guess that means they've been converted and are now 'Paigniacs?!
For those still not sure what roller derby is, imagine a hockey game, but replace the ice with a roller rink. Swap out the baggy jerseys for fishnet hose and tank tops, and abandon ordinary names in favor of pseudonyms like Melissious Intent, Towanda Steel and of course, the ever popular Hot Tamale! That's women's roller derby. The scoring is completely different, but both sports are rowdy, raucous and may sometimes even be punctuated with fights between the players. I must tell you that the Twin City Derby Girls work hard to stay above that sort of craziness that will get you ejected from a Bout. Unlike professional hockey players, the vast majority of roller derby participants are unpaid. Most actually spend money on the sport -- they purchase their own equipment and pay monthly dues to support their leagues. Teams usually practice several times a week, and injuries are common. So why pay money to work, compete and possibly get hurt? Why take the time to re-learn to skate? What makes it fun?
Since every league is the product of its skaters' efforts, no two are exactly the same. But a few traits are common across the board. Skaters tend to wear uniforms that give their team a distinct identity. They also adopt a persona for their competitions, complete with a derby name. The blood is real. This is not the fake, scripted roller derby of the 60’s and 70’s, every hit is real. Nothing is staged. We’re all in it to win. I love the idea of being on skates, and competing. I remember all the fun I had on roller skates as a kid. I love the technical aspects of it, the costumes, the roller derby names. I am fascinated by it all. It becomes all consuming. It’s a passion; it’s a lifestyle. It's like I found my calling. I like the aggressiveness. It's like football on skates, without a ball. I always wanted to play a contact sport. I love it. I like hitting and I like getting hit. It’s fun! Derby’s awesome! It’s got speed and full contact, and a lot of really strong, athletic women. You meet interesting people from all walks of life. They’re the coolest women. We’re all different, but we all come together to share a passion and a sport that we love. That said, I can tell you that there is not a skater in the league I wouldn't love to be a teammate with or any coach I wouldn't want to play for and we have the most awesome officials around.
But I must show my love for The 'Paign. They are my team and there is nothing I wouldn't do for them. I have the privilege of skating with these most fabulous women who accept me for exactly who I am-one bad ass derby bitch with blue & black hair! Love ya all!!!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

My support system

Once cancer therapy has been completed, the next phase of cancer
survivorship is recovery. Ok, so I started earlier than that! Cancer treatment left me more physically drained than I ever thought possible. Sometimes I had trouble getting out of bed! It made me feel horrible; it was a huge psychological blow. A program of regular exercise is a great way to improve overall fitness and sense of well-being. Studies also suggest physical activity may be important for reducing the risk of recurrence (cancer coming back) and helping some cancer survivors live longer. But it can be hard to find the best exercise routine during and after cancer. I credit Roller Derby as the secret to my strong and continued recovery. The best way to make an exercise plan is decide what kind of activities appeal to you—after all, you have to like it, or you won’t stick with it. Cancer survivors can generally do any exercise that makes them feel better, but need to know their potential limitations. Whether it’s walking, biking, or roller derby, it’s important to get out and do something at least 2-3 times per week. I also recommend the buddy system. Get a friend, a spouse, or a co-worker to go with you because a buddy makes it easier. I have over 70 "buddies" -- they are the Twin City Derby Girls!
Sometimes survivors provide their own emotional support by taking care of health issues and doing things in their own way. Others build emotional support systems of only a few people but some utilize many family members, friends, co-workers and new friends they make after diagnosis. There so many individuals in my life who help me in different ways on my cancer journey. I use a combination of support because I am doing it my own way through roller derby, which gives me an entire league of awesome women who let me be "Hot Tamale" and always have my back. It's rough and tumble because there's no crying in derby! Strapping on those skates makes me a "warrior woman"! As my teammate Holy SteamRoller says, "Just putting on my skates means I win." Right on! I also have my support group, the Young Survival Coalition where we can talk about things such as being fearful about getting cancer again or worrying about finances and affordable health insurance or even questioning existing relationships. We can cry together but we can also laugh together. I have former co-workers and friends with whom I can enjoy a carefree lunch or a lively discussion about my future. Most importantly though, I have family who understand my vulnerabilities, allow me to (sometimes) wallow in self-pity but kick me in the ass when I need it. I need each and everyone of you to help me with this journey. Thanks for being here!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Burning down the house again!

I seem to have entered the land of strange dreams again! Last night I dreamed my sister was burning down our house. We were standing in her bedroom, which is where she was starting the fire. For some unknown reason, I didn't try to stop her or put the fire out. I just stood there watching it burn. To see a house in your dream, represents your own soul and self. Specific rooms in the house indicate a specific aspect of your psyche. To dream that you are in the bedroom, signifies aspects of yourself that you keep private. To see your sister in your dream, symbolizes some aspect of your relationship with her, whether it one of sibling rivalry, nurturance, protectiveness, etc. Your sister may draw attention to your family role. Or the dream may also serve to remind you that someone in your waking life has characteristics similar to your sister. Alternatively, your sister may be a metaphor for a nun. In this case, she may represent some spiritual issues.
Fire in your dream can symbolize destruction, passion, desire, illumination, purification, transformation, enlightenment, or anger. It may suggest that something old is passing and something new is entering into your life. Your thoughts and views are changing. In particular, if the fire is under control or contained in one area, then it is a metaphor of your own internal fire and inner transformation. The dream may be a metaphor for someone who is "fiery". It represents your drive, motivation, and creative energy. To dream that a house is on fire, indicates that you need to undergo some transformation. To see something burning in your dream, indicates that you are experiencing some intense emotions and/or passionate sexual feelings. There is some situation or issue that you can no longer avoid and ignore. Alternatively, it may suggest that you need to take time off for yourself and relax. Perhaps you are you feeling "burned out" or "burned up".
I did have a job interview today. It was for a management position with Road Ranger Travel Centers. I didn't think they'd be interested because I don't have any truck stop experience but it went amazingly well. We'll have to see if I get a follow-up interview. I've been thinking that maybe it's time to get out of the non-profit sector and into the for-profit sector. So does this dream mean that is about to happen? Is something old leaving my life allowing something new to enter? I forgot just what a job interview entails. For many people, job interviews rank right up there with dental work and taxes. They can be stressful, unpleasant and even mysterious, not great adjectives to describe an experience that is a crucial gateway between you and your career development. But all and all I didn't really stress over it. I figure that if they don't want me, it's their loss! It feels good to be back in the game again even if we are "burning down the house" trying to get there!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Are "should haves" different from regrets?

I've said before that I do not want to live my life with regrets. But are the things I think should have done but didn't just a lesser degree of regret? Like the idea that I should have attended college in Oregon to study environmental issues but for whatever reason didn't? It's hard to regret that choice because then my life would have gone in a completely different direction and the world would've never had the pleasure of knowing Hannah Elizabeth Tunnell. What about "the one that got away"? If I had married him, where would I be now? But that's his loss, not mine. If he was too stupid to realize what he had, he didn't deserve me! Absolutely no regret there! But how do we live with no regrets?

1. Acknowledge a mistake has been made - It is easy to play the blame game, pointing fingers at someone else or cirmcumstances as to why I have stumbled or why my life sucks. Taking personal ownership of my past actions that resulted in bringing about my current reality has been the first step to moving past regrets and moving toward a brighter future. I can now say that the failure of my first marriage was not all my ex-husband's fault, I played a part in it too.

2. Make amends - If my past actions or words have harmed others, apologies may be in order. Or not, as apologies can be tricky. I have to judge for myself if an apology will help matters or only drudge up old wounds better left alone. But, I definitely have to forgive myself! Nobody is perfect. We all make mistakes. Unfortunately, righting a wrong is not always feasible. There may be some past action that cannot be righted; so if there are, I must forgive myself, and let it go.
3. Do-overs - Sometimes feelings of regret arise not from our past actions, but from our non-actions. Do I regret not seeing Montana when we were in Sturgis in 2004? Sure, but while it may be too late to reverse that decision, I still have options. I can plan that trip to Montana, save money to pay for it and enjoy white water rafting when I get there.

4. Be grateful - The most valuable lessons learned in life often come from the mistakes we make. It may take a walk down a dark, scary alley to see clearly. So, I embrace my foolish actions, feel gratitude for making it out alive and eventually finding my way along a less-cluttered path.

5. Be careful not to repeat the same mistake - If I am repeatedly faced with similar difficulties over and over again, this is a sure bet that I have not learned the lessons these situations are trying to teach. Opportunity will surface once I take responsibility for faulty actions and change my current and future behaviors accordingly.

6. Be watchful of future knee-jerk reactions - This is probably the toughest step, not reacting negatively to situations or the people who tend to push your buttons. We don't always have control over the things life tosses in front of us, but we do control our reactions. I can tell you that I have been quite successful practicing this step. Don't sweat the small stuff!

7. Looking deeper inside - Birthdays make me thoughtful so I am re-evaluating the direction my life has taken. I have accepted that my past mistakes are just that --- in the past. I try to focus on today. But what are my future goals and desires? Setting clear intentions will help clear the path so that my life progresses with a freer heart and increased happiness. I have to believe that the best is yet to come!

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Star and the Ace

Can I tell you how much I hate being unemployed? It makes me feel very useless and unmotivated. But apparently the Universe has been watching. Yesterday's tarot card was The Star card. Whenever all hope seems lost, the Star will reappear to prove that you have really lost nothing, except perhaps your sight of the path to enlightenment. And in the absence of that sight, the Star will light your way. Its light is not a blinding flash like the lightning bolt of the Tower, but a soft radiating glow that warms and comforts, rather than burning and destroying. You must remember that both of these energies ultimately come from the same place in the sky - from Heaven. After the light of the Tower destroys the false path you were following, the kinder and gentler light of the Star will lead you back to the right path. The Star is a card of faith, both in your own power, and in powers greater than your own. When the Tower sweeps away all the negativity in your life, you once again need something to fill the void, and faith is a good place to start. What exactly is faith? It could be said that faith is a conscious belief in an unconscious experience, of which we may not be directly aware, but of which we can still feel the effects. This definition fits both belief in a deity and belief in your own abilities. Having faith in any power will allow that power to manifest in your life. Beleiving that something will happen is as sure a way as any to make it happen.
There are few cards more positive than the Star, because when it appears in your life it is nothing less than a beacon of hope and inspiration. In times of darkness it shows that there is a way out, and tells you not to worry, for illumination and freedom are at hand. All you need is something in which to place your faith. So trust in yourself, and in whatever powers you believe control the universe, to help you through difficult times. Let the infinite energy of the Star warm you and rejuvenate your soul, to provide the strength and the clarity of purpose you need to continue on your journey. It is important to keep in mind, however, that the Star is never a card that shows the final solution to any problem. It simply shows the hope and faith to get to wherever you're going; without hope we can accomplish nothing, but hope is only a beginning. Now that you have been inspired, you still have much work to do in order to bring your vision into manifestation. You must combine the solidity of material existence with the waters of your emotions and of your spirit. This is a time when miracles can happen, so kick off your shoes and wade into the pool, confident that the water will support you until you reach the other side.
Then today's card was the Ace of Pentacles. The appearance of this card is usually the sign of a turn for the better in terms of fortune and wealth, and sometimes it can even indicate gifts of money, or inheritance from unexpected sources. This gift does not have to be money of course; any kind of gift that has value to both the giver and the receiver can be indicated by the Ace of Pentacles. The Ace also represents the fertile soil in which ideas can be planted to grow and mature. This will be a slow growth, as the Pentacles never move at a fast pace, but the success of the harvest is practically assured. The only caveat is that the Pentacles suit demands a realistic outlook. If you want to succeed, start now - it is not the time to dream and fantasize when there is work to be done! Forget flourish and dramatics, because hard work is the only thing that is going to produce results when the Ace of Pentacles is afoot. Keep your feet firmly planted in the Earth and let your common sense (and your intuition) guide you to success. Sounds like things are looking up!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Fool

Well, I made it to another birthday so life can't be all bad, can it? That is now my new milestone. Each birthday I celebrate is a triumph over cancer! Today's tarot card is The Fool. The Fool is an essential part of the Tarot because he is the spark that sets everything else into motion, the divine breath that gives life and inspires the first step towards fulfillment and completion. Though the first step down a long path may often seem small in comparison to the journey, that first step is vital because without it there would be no journey at all! The Fool is the cause behind all effects, the power behind all manifestations and the seeds of the end sown in every beginning. The Fool is unmoulded potential, pure and innocent, neither positive nor negative yet containing the possibility of both. He is the unconditioned soul about to come into manifestation for the first time to start learning the lessons of the world. Though everyone calls him a Fool, he does not pay them any attention, and he simply goes on his way. Certainly what they say can be justified, since his ignorance of the world can lead him to do things that more experienced people would never imagine. But in these things he can find knowledge and enlightenment. He does not care what others think or say about him, because he knows that what he is doing is right for him.
His approach to life is a strange, unconventional one, because he does what is comfortable to him. This is a viewpoint not often supported in our modern world, in which "do as I say" is the commandment most followed. To those who have lived their life under this philosophy, the approach of the Fool may be extravagant, shocking, even frightening. But this approach is all that the Fool knows, and because the only approval he requires is his own, he will continue to live this way, despite what all others think of him. He has total faith in himself. Perhaps he is not such a fool after all. The Fool does not hide himself from the light, because he is the light - the wonderful light that shines out of every child before they see the world and are forced to build so many walls and barriers to protect themselves. The innocence of a child, sadly, is something rarely found outside of children, even though a lot of people could use it these days. With this innocence comes perfect trust, fearlessness in others, and total self-reliance. It allows you to see the world with new eyes and learn new things every day of your life. Think of how much better the world would be if everybody acted this way! It's a shame that only children, and the Fool, see this light.
The Fool almost always stands for new beginnings, new experiences and new choices; the first steps along a new path and the first words written onto a blank page. The Fool himself - neither positive nor negative, has the potential to turn into either, depending on the choices you make and the path you follow. But this must not be your concern, because when a journey begins no one can know (or should know) what will happen on the way to the destination. Never let another person control your life. Live in the present and trust in your own abilities - this is the way of the Fool. With any new experience there is always the risk of failure and the certainty of change; it is the degree of change, and how that change will appear, that are undeterminable. But the Fool has no qualms about taking chances, so why should you? It is through the first steps that we learn how to walk, and it is through changes that we learn how to live our lives in harmony and peace. So jump head first into the abyss of the unknown, and know that even if you eventually fall to the ground, for a while you will soar.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Unemployment or Cancer, which is worse?

I still don't know how to be unemployed! This is an extremely unsettling and uncomfortable time for me. Sometimes I feel like I'm in a sleepwalking-like state of shock", still not fully aware of this new state of existence, but at least I have not fallen into a deep depression, unable to get out of bed, which I hear is can sometimes happen when faced with unemployment. A constant sea of thoughts races through my mind and I just keep asking myself over and over, “What in the world do I do now?” I think my pal, Tess, nailed it she said I"m dealing the loss of my identity. After all, I've been in the domestic violence field for almost 25 years. Yes, it has been a big part of my identity. When we become unemployed, we lose the security that we normally take for granted. Having a job gives us a sense of belonging, a place to go, something to be a part of, and meaning in our lives, as well as providing means to live. In our culture, personal identity and employment are tightly coupled. More often than not, the first question you get asked at a party is “What do you do?”. In the absence of a job, that question produces stutters, mumbles and embarrassment. I'm definitely feeling useless, unwanted and adrift!
When I learned I had cancer, I knew that the tumor could be cut out. It was a tangible thing. I could "learn" how to deal with cancer and fight death. I'm not sure how to "find" myself. I feel hollow. There's a shell here, for the outside world to see. Everyone sees the shell, and they talk to it and they act like it's me, but I no longer feel like me. It's just a cover, a mask. My carefully honed defense mechanism that I have tweaked over the years. My antennae is razor-sharp, reading the signals, ready to react, ready to duck for cover if needed. Yet inside, nothing. A great big, empty, gaping, hollow space. A chasm if you will; a vortex, a bottomless pit. And if I look too closely at the vortex, I will spin out of control until I separate into a million little pieces, mixing invisibly with the matter of the universe. So I cling to the side and I don't look. I know where my real self is. She's off there, to the left and a little in front of me. But I can't reach her.
One of the things experts suggest is to figure out if you can (and should) reinvent yourself. Writer Robert Brault says, "Never mind searching for who you are. Search for the person you aspire to be". I like that! Maybe it's time to let the "old" Tami go and spin-off in a new direction?!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Two of Wands

I know it's been a while since I wrote but life's been a little crazy. I'm trying to figure out what being unemployed should look like. But for someone without a job, I'm awfully busy! I'm learning to sew so I can make roller derby clothes and maybe get an on-line business going! I'm thinking that today's tarot card is validating this idea. I'm finding that this card appears for me a lot, especially since losing my job. Today's tarot card is the Two of Wands. This card suggests that my power today lies in attraction. I have a vested interest or am committed to sharing my vision, ideals, or game plan in order to make a connection. I am willing to step up because it takes two and I can't win if I don't play. Anything is possible. I am empowered by the passion of my own potential and I transform through self-discipline.
When this card's energy enters your life, you will find the ability to make your dreams into reality, to achieve your highest ambitions. Now is the time to understand how we create our own reality every second of our lives. It is also time to learn how we can use that to our advantage. Boldness and daring are unlimited when this energy is under your control, so go into the world and show your power to everyone. Personal power is another theme of this card. The Two of Wands is a reminder that we are always in control of our lives, and though we may be surprised by events from time to time, the reins remain in our hands waiting for us to use them. This is why it's important to plan ahead, and know where you are headed before you set off on your journey. There is no place for uncertainty and hesitation, but fortunately, this card gives you the energy to rid yourself of those. You deserve to be the creator and the ruler of your life. Allow your inner power to show itself - you'll be surprised by what you accomplish. This card deals a lot with the power of the Will to accomplish great things in the world.
Without the initial vision there can be no final success, and without determination the goal can never be reached. The Two of Wands is a card that embodies that determination to go out into the world and succeed. A cohesive vision of the final destination starts to form, and though this first impression may be incorrect, that really does not matter at this time. There will be plenty of time to change your course later if you are not heading in the direction you want to be. What is important now is to get moving towards your goals, whatever those are. Look out world, here I come!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Summer Manifesto

As grown-ups, we try to balance work with play, "regular life" with summertime rhythm, being with doing... and it's way too easy to let summer slip right on by. So here is my summer manifesto! I hope to promote a summer full of watermelon-chin-drips and firefly-winks plus a few lazy games of Cornhole (some folks call it Bean Bag or Bean Toss) -- or at least a daily porch sit to watch the grass grow.
1. Summer is a reminder that life is sweet. Step outside and allow the astounding beauty of nature (yes, even in this heat wave) to remind you that you don't make the sun rise or the flowers bloom and thus perhaps, just perhaps, you are not responsible for the world. Smell the breeze (unless you live next to Solo Cup like I do), feel the sun beating down on your skin, notice the colors; life is here right now.
2. Play is not just for kids. As I watch the neighbor kids play, I realize that one must play to be restored to their own true self (plus you may even look years younger after some fun!) Spend an afternoon with someone who hasn't kept playing, who has decided to keep putting off pleasure, and if that doesn't motivate you to get out the Frisbee or grab the whiffle ball bat, nothing will. Never say you are too old or too busy.
3. Forget big chunks of time. Instead, grab the invitations to savor the moment when they present themselves. Even one minute of actually tasting that juicy peach will change your day. If cancer has taught me anything, it's that life is short. We've all lost people we love. Use that to stoke your courage to leave the computer and make a fort with your kids or pick flowers from your garden to make a bouquet or...whatever it is you say you have no time for. That's the perfect place to start. Listen for your complaints and your "If only I had time" remarks. When you hear one, drop the complaint and do the can't, the impossible. It won't be perfect, but then part of the joy of summer is being messy and imperfect.
4. Do something outrageous. Hopefully, you have a memory or two of an outrageous feat from a summer past. Mine would be Sturgis, Summer 2004, a week filled with bikers, parties and lots of nudity (no nudity from me but had I known I would eventually lose my left breast, I might have taken the opportunity to show it off!). What would be a little outrageous for you? Or more than a little outrageous? It's not about nostalgia or recapturing your childhood. What enjoying the summer is about is remembering that your life is a choice and you can let it become a burden and a to-do list you never catch up with or one crazy motorcycle ride over to see Devil's Tower, with bugs in your teeth, and the wind in your hair. Now that's true summer!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Lunch with Shelia

Today I attended a luncheon with Shelia Simon, democratic candidate for Lieutenant Governor. There were 16 women (including Sheila) in attendance. She wanted to know what issues were on the minds of women. We discussed education, affordable housing, affordable childcare, equal pay for equal work, violence against women, healthcare, renewable energy sources as well as a tax increase. I found Sheila to be very personable and forthright. Interestingly, today's tarot card is The High Priestess. This card affirms my alter ego today is the Translator, whose superpower is her expertise and access to the trusted 'word on the street.' My reputation or method precedes me. My secret formula: I never let them see me sweat! Having mastered the blueprints, I now have the props to read between the lines and get my foot in the door. I sit in as instructor at the floodgates between mystery and answers. I define the house rules, and pass on the message -- or keep it private -- by referring to the 'handbook', a voice of experience. I reveal my pearls of wisdom with an enticing restraint that keeps them coming back for more. So get with the program, look 'under the table' or take with a grain. Insult, sanction or throw the book at it on a technicality, or be dependent on same old story.
The Priestess seems to bear the widest range of interpretations, because she speaks directly to the Inner Voice, the unconscious mind. She is the manifestation of the unconscious and the effects of the mysterious in our everyday world. While it would be impossible for anyone to learn all of her mysteries and secrets, the High Priestess remains as a guide to those of us willing to venture deep within our minds to discover the true powers hidden deep inside each of us. This is the same power as that depicted on the Magician, but the scope of the Priestess' power is far different. While the Magician focuses his powers outward, to achieve a meaningful effect on the world, the High Priestess shows us that we can also use these powers on an inner level, to enrich and transform ourselves. Such transformations are certainly not as dramatic as the Magician's, but they are almost always more powerful. The High Priestess represents the mysteries of the unconscious and the Inner Voice, and her appearance is often a sign that your own intuition is trying to send you a message. The unconscious often speaks to us in symbols, so be alert around you for anything that seems out of the ordinary. This said, if you have an important decision to make when the Priestess appears, this is often a sign that the answers will be revealed to you, if you are patient and open to the whispers from within. You simply have to wait and be receptive to inner messages. Her lesson is that everything you need to know already exists within you.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


Today I learned that one of the gentlemen I went through chemo with is now in hospice care as the cancer is spreading out of control. What do you say when you learn this information? His wife recognized me as we were in the elevator together and I mentioned that since I no longer see him in treatment, I was wondering how he was. That's when she choked up and told me about hospice. Here I was feeling sorry for myself because of my health insurance situation and he is losing his life. It was like a slap in the face; the news made me cry. This is what happens when you spend a lot of time with so many people who have cancer. Although there are many cancer survivors in the community, there are still those who lose their battle. Does knowing these folks make me a better person? Absolutely. Does it make hearing such heartbreaking news easier? No. Although life has been rather sucky lately, I am grateful for many things in my life: my family, my friends, roller derby & the Twin City Derby Girls, the Young Survival Coalition, our dogs and even the fact that although I am battling cancer, I am feeling good.
Today's tarot card is the The Queen of Cups, which suggests that my power today lies in intuition and drama. I trust my intuition and nurture an environment of deep devotion, patience, and intense passion. I mirror my hearts desire and am never too busy to connect to those who trust, love and need me. "It's the thought that counts." Many can say "I would die for them" -- only I can live for them -- spoken with sincerity by a true "Drama Queen." I am empowered by embracing my emotions as a gift and unconditional love is my Holy Grail or gift. No intuition is more powerful than that of the Queen of Cups. She is the pure force of Water, and her connection with the subconscious is rivalled only by the High Priestess. She is often like a mirror, reflecting the hidden depths of others back to them, so they can see their own mysteries for themselves. However, her cup is closed, and her own secrets remain invisible to all, even to herself sometimes. Such is the paradox and fluidity of the Water element. Hardly ever manifesting as an event, the Queen of Cups is almost always found either in people near you, or in yourself.
Was I reflecting back fear and sadness today when I learned of my chemo pal's situation? I'm pretty sure I was as we all fear that will also be our fate. Even though I made her cry, his wife graciously told me that she had read of my job loss in the paper and knew that no matter what, I was strong enough to survive the cancer. That was one more thing to be grateful for--the support and belief others have for me!