This Funk

Yesterday one of my co-workers (an elderly man) asked if I was feeling ok; he said I didn’t look well. I explained that I was just stressed out…holiday stress I explained.

While I have some holiday stress, the truth is I hate my job.

I LOVE being with the kids and seeing them everyday; the atmosphere with my coworkers though leaves much to be desired. The gossip runs rampant, the two-faced conversations at nearly every turn, the manager threatens termination to at least one coworker – to everybody BUT that coworker (but has yet to sit down with them and discuss what she sees as issues) it’s disgusting and sad.

As much talking as goes on, you’d think communication is top notch. You’d be wrong. People who have been there for years get yelled at for not doing things they didn’t even know they were supposed to be doing.

I’ve never been given a job description or list of duties. I’m lucky to be able to work on the fly and learn as I go and read between the lines and see work that needs to be done. However, when I get reprimanded in front of students, staff, and coworkers for not doing something I don’t even know I’m supposed to do…no thanks.

I had only been there a month when my work partner had the day off. Our duties are nearly identical…but not quite. Well, I’ve never done her job and am busy enough doing my job that I have no idea what she’s doing when I’m not watching her. Anyway…so a sub comes in and half way through serving, I get yelled at by the kitchen manager for not doing something that was my partner’s job. I explained that I didn’t know I was supposed to do that…I had never seen who did that particular job. She told me, “Well, she better tell you what her job is then.”

Well, that’s fine and dandy…but then you complain that we are working together and wasting time. It would be so simple to have individual job duties lists for each member of the staff. There is so little variation in our daily tasks, that each job should have a job description if nothing else, for subs and new staff.

So every morning, I wake up in this funk and it sucks.

I pray for my work situation, for each of the people I work with and for. I pray for the spirit of grace and mercy as I know each of us is fighting our own personal battle outside the workplace.

Then I pray for my kids, and their needs and wants.

Then after all the kids get on the bus, I go skating for an hour. I do laps, squats between the blue lines, one foot between the blue lines, power turns, lunge-crossovers, circles, and some quick skates.

My time on the ice is magic. I work my butt off most days. Some days are just for conversation and leisurely skating. I’ve already noticed my skating improving and my stamina increasing.

When I had cancer, I would sometimes spend 8 hours at chemo and then run to the rink to coach hockey practice. Luckily, I didn’t have visitors at chemo so I was able to sleep all day…if I slept all day I had enough energy to be on the ice for 45 minutes. Once I was on the ice though, you’d never know where I had spent the day. Except for being bald, you probably wouldn’t even know I had cancer. I loved that 45 minutes. We got to forget about cancer completely…45 minutes at a time.

I need to find a way to completely forget about work. I took this position at the other school for more hours. I needed the extra hours as I was tired of not being able to pay the bills. Now at least they are paid…but it’s at such a high personal cost.

This morning, there is no open skating. I’m going to take the time to take care of myself for a little while…an extra long shower, a power breakfast and then go pick up cat litter I’ve been meaning to get all week.

Life is good. I’m just in a rut.

Dear Father in Heaven;

Grant me peace through this season. We both know I took this job for reasons other than money…to be able to shine Your light into darkness. Keep my feet grounded and my head in the game as the time passes.
I knew going in that this would be a challenge. Help me to not jump ship when the going gets tough. I’ve never been one to back away from a challenge, keep my feet firmly planted in Your light and truth.
Cover my workplace in peace and prosperity for all.

Amen

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When I am Quiet

When I am quiet (I know, it’s not often…bare with me). When I am quiet and focus on the sacrificial life I have led; putting others before myself; doing things I’d rather not when I know it is for God’s glory; I’m at peace.

Sure, I still have crappy days (you know…like earlier this week) I also have days where I look at my bank account and it holds $100.00 more than it should. This has happened on more than one occasion and I have no explanation for it; apparently God just shows up at my bank and deposits $100 a few times a year. Always at exactly the right time, always when I am desperately desperate.

There are just no words for when things like that happen in my life.

When I was first diagnosed with cancer, four days after my first chemotherapy treatment my car died. It had gotten me to Rochester several times (384 miles one way) plus over 1000 miles back and forth to Fargo jus since the end of October. It had led a good life.

The following day, I received a call from the local Chrysler/Dodge dealership. The voicemail was a salesperson asking me to call him as soon as I could. Great, I thought, he knows my car broke and thinks I can buy a new one.

When I returned his call, fully prepared to tell him I had exactly zero dollars and thanks but no thanks; I was brought to tears. Somebody had heard about my vehicle and had paid for a 2003 Dodge Caravan on my behalf with the only stipulation that it be anonymous.

I’m still driving that van, and the local paper even did a story on me and he boys and our situation and our Secret Santa. It’s got over 230,000 miles on it and leaks oil bad enough that I never need an oil change…I just add fresh stuff and change the filter now and then.

I’ve been stressing over finances for some time, especially with both boys having their birthday’s come up, Christmas, plus finding out their dad was not going to help pay for hockey after already committing to the season.

My very next paycheck, I had miscalculated…I had anticipated 10 less hours than I actually worked so my paycheck was bigger than I expected. When I looked in my bank account, there was the extra $100.

So as I am recalculating and figuring, I plan for the young one’s birthday party…waterpark with two friends. I always give him an option, more friends, less fun or less friends and more fun.

After understanding God’s got this and I make the plans…two friends offer me Buy one-Get one coupons for the waterpark that they can’t use! So…I’m letting the older boy also bring two friends and having his party as well (his birthday is three weeks after his brother). Today I went and bought them both new Nerf guns as the ones they have are over three years old and have served their purpose well.

When I take the time to sit down and count all my blessings, the other noise in my life goes silent. There is nothing as great as God. He promises to take care of His children.

Tomorrow, my tiny miracle will turn 10…what an awesome kid! To celebrate his birthday we are headed to hockey to play his first game of the year at 11:00 am and then watch one of his friends that is coming play his game (starting at 1pm). Then we are all headed to the waterpark for an afternoon/evening of super fun!

Today, we took 30 cupcakes to school to share with his class. Tomorrow we are bringing 15 cupcakes to hockey for his team, plus picking up a cake for the party. If this kid is not sugared up by then, nothing will do it!

Tonight though, we are headed to a Jr A hockey game (our local team is 18-0 and he has not missed a home game yet). I am so thankful for the gift of season tickets; this would never happen if not for them.

Lord,

Thank You for the reminders of how great You are and how Your love is everywhere. Those reminders are sometimes quiet as a butterfly and sometimes they are a splash of cold water on a sleeping teenager. Without those reminders, I don’t know where I’d be. The enemy is loud and you are gentle. Thank you Father.
As the winter months set in, continue to bring us peace as well as strength to weather any storm.
You love is greater, Your love is stronger, Your love…is all I need.

Amen

I Don’t Wanna

I don’t wanna write today that Beth Caldwell passed away last night. I don’t want to write that her husband held her as she died. I don’t want to write that her children were with her as she took her last breath.

But it happened and my heart sank.

I had a feeling yesterday was going to be the day. I even stopped at Katie’s and said I wanted to find out from her…she has been following Beth’s story as well. Really though, I didn’t want to hear it from anybody. I didn’t want to face it.

I think back to something I wrote on my CaringBridge while I was sick…it was about my own mortality. I was writing about the dreams I have for my kids and all I wish for them to know, and be, and accomplish. I wrote that for them to be the people they are meant to be may actually mean I have to not be here and how hard of a reality that was.

That is Beth’s family’s reality. That her death is a part of God’s plan for who her children become. Will they also be advocates for the unheard and unseen? Will they champion her cause…their cause.

As I fell asleep last night, I prayed for The Hubs, The Boy, and The Girl; the nicknames she used on her blog for her family. I prayed for their peace; for God’s grace and mercy to cover them.

And then I cried; for me.

Today, my heart hurts; and I’m just going to let it. I’m going to let it be hurt and heal…it seems to know the routine. Today I am also going to just be held…by God.

This weekend it’s just me and the little one home. Big Brother is going deer hunting with Dad and won’t be home until Sunday evening. I have a feeling it will be a lot of open hockey and chilling. His birthday is in a few weeks and we have to make a plan for that. My “non-viable pregnancy” (when I first got pregnant), my “Inevitable abortion” (at 12 weeks 2 days gestation with I had a partial abruption with ruptured membranes), my preemie…he’s gonna be ten this year.

Lord,

I am so grateful that my baby’s story is a yearly reminder that You perform miracles all around us and people love to hear his story. We love to share it. I am so thankful for all you have provided.
As I get through today and the weekend with Beth’s family on my heart, I ask for comfort for them. I ask that you give them the space, time, and opportunity to feel Your love.
And God, thank you for holding my close and keeping me secure.

Amen

Every Time

A few weeks ago, I had found a lump on the edge of my reconstructed breast. It feels like a cooked grain of rice. Naturally my first thought was swollen lymph node. They aren’t common in that area; but not unheard of.

Within a few days I went to my Nurse Practitioner and he ordered an ultrasound. I love that he gets every concern is worth his time…he never makes me feel like I shouldn’t be wasting his time. Ever. That’s important to me.

Tomorrow I am scheduled for my annual screening mammogram on my favorite breast (you know, the one that HASN’T tried killing me). Unfortunately, I’m hearing a lot of, “Well, you should have just let them take both, I would have.”

Well…here’s the thing.

When it’s your turn, you go ahead and choose that. I didn’t, for my own reasons. And I’m gracious with saying, “Well, after talking with several specialists at the time, this was the best course for me.” Because I get it.

When I first heard I had cancer. I thought I would just chop them both off and be on my merry way. What I didn’t even know I didn’t know was (and still is) astounding.

It’s hard enough for women who feel like they have to give up their womanhood when they loose their breasts, but for others whom have not had the experience to make judgement on their decisions is a slap in the face.

I didn’t give up my womanhood…although many women struggle with their physical body after all that cancer puts them through; I’m quite fond of mine. I love that I have a scar that runs from hip to hip. I think it’s neat that I have my same bellybutton but in a new location. I’ve come to adore the flap on my left breast as a unique part of me. I truly enjoyed being bald and often wonder if I should go back to that because it was so awesome. As I consider that I am currently out of conditioner and using the shampoo one of the boys picked out…bald sounds pretty good.

But I digress…(as usual)

The day before my scheduled mammogram, I start bleeding. Now, at 43 this is normal for most women. For somebody who has been in menopause for the previous 2.5 years…not so much.

I called my friend as I was emailing my Mayo Clinic Doctors.

Then we began to discuss how busy satan has been throughout October in my life. Every time I think everything is fine, something pops up that makes me wonder. First, I switched jobs and that made me wonder about my role in both locations. Then I found the lump, which turned out to be nothing, and now this. Like COME.ON.ALREADY.

When I discussed the lump though, I wasn’t afraid. I said I had already heard, “You have cancer” once. Thankfully those words can never be heard again for the first time. I already know what to do if I ever hear them again.

Being treated with chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, and targeted therapy and then  healed by God, I still must remember that 1 in 8 women will receive a breast cancer diagnosis. I may still be 1 in 8 at another point. I no longer consider myself at a higher risk of cancer as a survivor; just back in the pool with everybody else…I’m just lucky enough to have some preventative meds in my toolbox. So maybe I’m not 1 in 8 anymore. Maybe I’m 1 in 25.

So this light bleeding, extremely out of left field today and oddly…not overly concerning after the initial shock. I’ve emailed my doctors and will figure out the next step when they contact me tomorrow. Between now and then, it’s not my concern. It is all in God’s hands.

So as busy as satan has been this month, it’s nearly comical. He has no authority in my life and sees the good works I do. He puts thoughts in my head and pulls triggers that I thought had been deactivated years ago.

Sometimes, I just need that reminder, that satan has ZERO authority over my life and every piece of it is in God’s care and control. He works everything for good…so whatever attack brought upon me by the enemy…I’m ok. It will be used to deepen my faith and trust in God, not to question Him.

Lord,

I am fully expecting a clear scan tomorrow so I can continue to serve the children I work around and the other staff members I encounter on a daily basis. I know You are the designer of all things; I also know that you want your children to ask for their deepest desires. I ask you for a clean bill of health.
I pray that you bring a mate that will bless our lives in ways we cannot even imagine. I pray that he comes soon so we can start our forever together. I pray for a long, healthy life with him and my children.
Thank you Father for giving me an opportunity to shout Your Grace and Mercy from the rooftops through this journey and for giving me the patience and understanding to make the most of everyday here on earth.
Lord, I ask that You cover my city with love, that You bring healing to my hometown, and that people open their hearts to Your goodness.
I pray all of this in Your Son’s Holy Name;

Amen

Truth

Of all the things I have ever posted, this may be the most vulnerable I have ever been.

Please know I want no recognition of this awful day. This feels like a war memorial of sorts. A somber occasion.

I posted the following on a breast cancer group I belong to. This is what cancer looks like to me tonight…

So tomorrow (Saturday) is my cancerversary. Three years ago I went to the doctor because I thought I had pulled a muscle being back on the ice after 20 years of not skating…and volunteering to help coach my son’s hockey team. Doctor felt nothing, thought nothing…but offered a mammogram just based on the fact that I had just turned 40 and “we should get a baseline”

As I walked out of the imaging department, the technician informed me that the radiologist was already writing his report and that my doctor would be calling me and, “…I’m not going to lie, it’s not good.”

October has been so full of triggers and PTSD and just trying to survive in one piece already. I feel this swallowing me whole…encompassing my entire being…and it hurts…physically hurts my soul.

My boys are no longer 6 and 9, they are now 9 and 12. I am cancer free. I am healthy.
Tonight though as I crawl into bed…I am not strong enough. I am a crying mess.

THANKFULLY…we are at my parents in Northern Canada…and I am safe here…Oh God it’s killing me…but I’m alive…I LIVED…I MADE IT…why is this swallowing me whole???

Tomorrow I will wake up…with my young son snoring at my side (he shares a bed with me here). I will wear the t-shirt I EARNED finishing the NorthShore Inline Marathon in September…and I will SURVIVE…and I will continue to survive.

I will live my life filled with love, courage, and never ever stop.

Home Sweet Home

The boys and I are back up in Canada at my parents’ home. I cannot ever put in to words just how amazing it is for me to come home. This trip though…even more important.

On Saturday it will be my canserversary. Three years from the date of my diagnosis. As difficult as this October has been, there is truly no place I would rather be than right here, right now.

Three years ago, our world…all of us…had our world turned upside down. On that same day…my mother was elected to city counsel. Maybe turned upside down isn’t correct, it was just shaken up a bit.

I need to be home with my family for this milestone. To allow the day to pass quietly (not noise level quiet, just fan fare quiet).

My niece and nephew are here as well and they are the same ages as the boys.

The first thing my niece and I did when we got back to the house after breakfast was to build a fire out of all grandma’s paper and cardboard garbage. Then I helped my brother do some cleaning and now here I am, with you.

I will be posting live videos throughout the weekend and am already not looking forward to returning to the USA. I need to not think that far ahead yet though. I need to be here and enjoy here. I have no idea how many more trips my vehicle can make. It’s over 600 miles one way and my vehicle has over 230k miles on it. It won’t last forever.

Auntie Awesome is going to make a list of chores for the kids and Uncle Shawn to accomplish today…I’ll supervise…it’s what I’m good at!

Love to all.

Lord,

I am so thankful to be home…home. 20 years and it’s still home and always will be home. Thank you for Your traveling mercies yesterday and the wonderful weather.
Bless our time here with family and give us opportunities to show and be love all weekend long.

When we leave, I ask again for traveling mercies to return home.

Amen

Validation

Today is October 1.

I knew it was coming.

I chose to try to ignore it.

I made the wrong choice.

You see, as much as I would like October to come and go without any fanfare, it hit me today with a force I cannot deny. I got up and went to church and just standing there with people I know and love was anxiety laden. It was so awful that I could not even attend the second service I always attend.

I came home and crawled into bed with the cats. I needed rest, I needed to hide, I needed to not have to do anymore peopleing. My friend texted, asking if I only attended one service today and I said yup, and I was in bed. She was just checking to make sure I got out at least.

When we discussed what October meant to me the other day she asked what I needed from her or what she could do. I told her to make sure I do not isolate myself too much. When she texted today, I almost was not going to answer because I was afraid I had disappointed her by only going to one church service. She knows I thoroughly enjoy both.

Instead she told me she was happy I had gotten to at least one and to sleep well and that she was praying.

Oh I needed that more than anything. It was so validating. I had no idea how invalidated I feel about all of this until that very moment.

I feel like being full of anxiety just because it is October is stupid, that I should not feel this and I should be able to get over all of it. The truth is, I cannot. In October three years ago my world, which was already crashing down around me in the aftermath of a very long and drawn out divorce process felt like it was ending.

As I have moved through cancer and beyond; I do not think I have ever truly validated myself for all I went through. How could I ever accept it from anybody else.

So while I want to cancel the small group from coming to our house tonight, I know that it is only a six or seven people and we are finished within two hours. Cancelling serves no good purpose.

I am stuck between honoring this process and not allowing it to consume me. I am choosing to keep moving forward. One more stride. Head down and just moving forward. I cannot look ahead to how much further I have to go; I need to focus on the next step in front of me, and not one inch beyond that right now.

It feels like cancer all over again and I need to continually remind myself that it is not. That Dorothy is gone and God won. I need to remind myself that I am safe and I am worthy and I am loved. I.Am.Safe.

I thought I could embrace October and a month of advocating for the right charities and the right reasons to pink…it turns out I just need to survive this year and get beyond this pit of agony, despair, and anxiety.

I need to remember that I trust God in all of this. He got me this far.

What can you do for me? Check in with me, feed me, financial assistance, hug me and tell me I’m gonna be ok and the hard part is over. Encourage me to feel; real feelings, real reactions.

Together, we got this. I’m just the one with the puck on my stick right now and nobody to pass to.