Breast Cancer Awareness – 2011

(disclaimer – if you don’t care to know about my breast health, stop reading now)

Two years and one week ago, I had an annual check up that my provider found an odd lump. 

One year, 11 months, 3 weeks and 6 days ago I had a benign lump removed. 

Eight hours and 31 minutes ago, I had another annual check up. 

My nurse practitioner found what she is pretty sure, but not entirely certain, a large cyst. So now I have to go and have more fun testing and films and if I’m lucky – nothing will come of it. Or maybe I’ll get a recommendation to have the cyst drained (which I hope they give me a Xanax). And very likely a different kind of testing and heightened awareness the rest of my life.

Do I sound bitter?  Yeah….that’s kind of where I am right now.

Earlier today when I was thinking about typing up a post, I was considering a title like “What I hate about getting older” Because as amazing our bodies are, how much abuse they will take and keep moving forward, eventually they will begin breaking down. I feel like in the last 2 years I have entered this realm. More opportunities to think about how I’m living my life and be thankful that I honestly do live as healthy as I can. I work out, I love doing that for myself and the results. I eat well, excluding chocolate binges and Friday tasty beverages. I try to get Me time, I do neglect my sleep, and well – I thrive on stress.

So…not feeling as bitter as I was when I started this (The Proposal is distracting me right now). We’ll see in a week or so how freaked out I become. Or not. Let’s hope not…

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Serenity Now!

It was a pretty rough week, things were more stressful at work than they probably needed to be, or maybe I just wasn’t prepared. It doesn’t matter now – that work week is over and I’m resting up for the next one!

By Friday night, I was ready to collapse in a pile and be done with it all. I was so far gone I didn’t even want a drink or dessert – I just wanted to run away.  That is ultimate stress for me – not to sound like I rely on my Friday evening cocktail – but not wanting it is a sign I need some serious re-group time.  So I decided to just let it go, and prepare to take a kick-boxing class Saturday morning at the gym. What better way to get out frustration than punching and kicking?!  Problem was, the studio for class was being refinished so all classes were canceled for the weekend. Frick!  I went for a long run and pushed myself to run most of it. I felt pretty good by the time I got home.

But it still wasn’t enough.

I needed to get out for the day. To go be alone and recharge and I wasn’t sure when I was going to come back. I drove up to the Anacortes Art Festival. I used to go every year, but not so much recently.  It was good, I’m glad I went. Saw some good artisan work and some, well, eh. I ran into a friend of mine that is a jeweler and spent a little bit of time catching up and meeting her daughter. After walking through the whole festival twice, I was ready to go. But it was only 4:30 and I wasn’t ready to head back down to Redmond. Still too much energy inside.

I side tracked to Deception Pass. I used to go up there frequently when I was single. It was an easy hike, and there are beaches to sit and meditate on. I hadn’t planned on hiking so didn’t have the right shoes or even a backpack. Still I walked down to the beach and spent about a hour sitting in the sun, listening to the water break on the rocks. I put together my own spiral, it helped calm my mind.

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There is nothing like a beach and water to help calm me. I’m not a mountain person, I don’t like camping, nature and I have a tentative relationship. Except for water. I could never live in the Midwest and be so far from an ocean. When I think about my retirement, I see my house being near the water, close enough that I could walk down to get the kind of recharge I had yesterday.

So here is a personal reminder to myself – that when it all gets to be too much, I don’t have to drive 90 minutes to Deception Pass (although a good option) – there are many beaches around town that I could escape. Some close enough to take a lunch break, some far enough that no one could just “drop in” on me.

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July 2011 Monthly Quote

It’s been quite a while.  Quite!  I was thinking a few weeks ago (yes, that long) that I haven’t been keeping up with the new year’s resolutions.  Is this really news?  I supposed not, but this year I wanted to get back to writing notes, on all the stationary collecting in my desk.  I think the hand written letters are an art form that needs to be kept up in the world.  It meant so much to me growing up to have a pen pal.  So exciting to get notes with pictures or little tokens of love and friendship.  Recently, a college friend from Jersey was looking for a pen pal for her daughter.  I got her connected with someone out here is Washington.  I truly  hope the girls become friends and have that same love of letter writing and quirky local fare to send to each other. 

Live by

the Trinity

of what

is True,

Good, and

Beautiful

Alexandra Stoddard

It’s been a trying 2 weeks for me.  My ass has been kicked around by multiple illnesses.  Last week I had a fever for two days, slept most of that off.  A sore throat that turned out to be strep.  Another little health scare that has turned out to not be as serious as I had thought.  And now I have a head cold.  Frick.  Of course, going to 3 concerts this past week has not helped in my healing.  I think it’s why I have a head cold right now.

It certainly is a reminder to take care of myself.  More than working out or eating right.  I need to figure out how to not be so stressed out most of the time, or perhaps the more accurate way to describe it is not to be so forward focused on what needs to get done.  I haven’t been a manager for 5 1/2 years since I left my old job.  Learning to delegate was one of the more challenging aspects for me.  I’m not really in a role to delegate – but I’m not talking about work, I’m talking about home.

Mostly for the kid.  A few weeks ago she and I cleaned her room.  There was an expectation that she keep it up, within reason, as we promised to update her room.  The baby colors and artwork has served its purpose.  Now she is 8 and ready to move into her tween phase (goddess help us!).  She got a new stereo this week, a real one with actual speakers and docking station for her iTouch.  When it was set up this week I got all nostalgic for my first stereo.  Music has played such an important part of my life, although she won’t be laying on the floor looking at the LP sleeve and learning all the lyrics – it has been great to watch her this past week steal away to her room at night and listen to all sorts of music.  Norman gave her some Bowie, although I haven’t heard that coming out of the speakers yet.  I have heard Storm Large and a mix-CD she got at a birthday party 2 years ago.  And last night – she asked me for Black Eyed Peas!!  There is hope for her yet!  Granted, not sure the Peas are 8-yr old appropriate, but we are getting somewhere.

Anyway – my point is – as parents we need to be better about holding her to household chores.  Like – my goodness put your clean clothes away on Sunday!  Not Friday!  And put them away properly please, don’t just shove them in a drawer.  Oh, and make your bed, empty the dishwasher, feed the cat and water the plants.  That is not too much to ask of an 8-yr old.

I’ve been beating myself up about slacking on that, that I need to be better to hold her accountable.  She’s starting 3rd grade in the fall and needs to start contributing.  Some girlfriends and I were talking recently that kids don’t seem to be as afraid of their parents as when we grew up.  I don’t mean in an abusive way.  I mean that if we didn’t behave or do what expected – that there are consequences.  Like being grounded or TV taken away (in today’s world is that grounded, no Xbox or cell phones?!)  The one that got me every single time was having my stereo taken away.  If my offense was serious enough, I would lose my stereo for a week.  It killed me, I really got the point of what I had done wrong.  I learned my lesson.  I tried to do better.  I need to find that kind of meaningful thing for A – what is going to help teach the lesson so she tries to do better the next time.

I think, to start, we should make a chore chart this weekend.  And a promise statement about what is expected in the house, and any consequences if not upheld.  Yep…think I should go talk to Norman about that…

So – here’s to healing and taking the next steps for positive mental health!

Winding down…

In the last 52 hours I’ve….

  • Walked past Buckingham Palace, down St James’ Park, Big Ben, Scotland Yard and Parliament, back to the hotel for the evening.

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  • Walked to Harrods, got goods in the arcade and Padding Books for the kid
  • Then walked to the Victoria & Albert, spent time in a whole floor of silver, jewelry and other artifacts…left there and walked
  • To Piccadilly, which I found so very tourist that we only went to Hamley’s to get a Paddington Bear to go with the books (for the kid)…and walked back to…
  • Our Hotel.  Then met up with some co-workers for a drink.  Then slept.  Hard!
  • Today we took a long quiet morning, cabbed it to our lunch at River Café – fun to see the neighborhoods via taxi…
  • Afterwards we walked to the tube, and scooted over to the Tate Modern, toured that whole thing.  Walked…..
  • Down Thames walkway, past the London Eye (more tourist craziness), across Westminster Bridge, past Westminster, down around neighborhoods and back to our hotel

ben

That was just over 2 days and guess-timating 15 miles?  At least Norman thinks so.  My tight calves and aching feet seem to agree.

It’s been a great time in London.  A good first visit.  I often forget what a “real” city is like after living in Seattle for so long (no offense Seattle, I love my home neighborhood!)  I am looking forward to a more relaxed week in Italy with friends, food, wine, bread, wine, food, maybe some exercise, more wine….

Here’s Happy Jen at the River Café for lunch today, don’t I look relaxed?

Thames

Vacation Kick-Off

Trying out WordPress app on my Windows 7 phone! To let you all know posting on this vaca, daily, is one of my goals. I want to capture to adventure, fun and friends. Probably get some pictures in here too.

We are boarding in about 2 hours to our fabulous British Air business class seats. Truly a treat (and a helluva lot airline miles!) So, now contemplating another drink, after finishing up my Bailey’s and coffee.

Cheers!

So stay tuned…

Posted from WordPress for Windows Phone

Law of Illusion

I wrote earlier this month about Lilith Fair.  Since then I have been spending a lot of time, mostly in the car, listening to Sarah McLachlan’s latest CD – Law of Illusion

This is a pretty intense CD.  For those of you unfamiliar over the last few years she has broken up with her husband.  From what I gather, he cheated on her.  Ouch.  One of her gifts as a lyricist and musician is to really put it all out there, some of the most honest, raw emotion I have encountered.  This disc is no exception.  I can feel the pain and recovery of her experience.  There are 3 songs in particular that really resonate with me.  NOT my current situation – but the kind you can relate to some part of your life.  If you have had any relationship – romantic, friend, family, etc.  All three get me choked up when I listen to them.

Awakenings is the first song on the album.  The story of meeting, falling in love, working hard, being hurt and finally walking away.  Holy shit who hasn’t been here?!  Although – I can honestly say I don’t have many experiences of this in my past.  I tended to be the one in the relationship that walked away when things moved out of the Infatuation stage and got real.  I’ve really only had 3 serious relationships with men.  Just 2 of them I would consider my equal (i.e. – educated, focused, goal-oriented, and – oh yeah – EMPLOYED!!)  Now married to one of them.  The first really bad break-up I had was the first of 3 – I thought I was in love.  It was the first time I really felt that feeling with someone.  I found out he was cheating, he said he couldn’t be tied down, like a butterfly.  WTF?!  A butterfly???  HOW did I ever see anything in this guy?  Ever?!  The bad part was I felt so strongly for him – that when I found out what was going on, and dumped all his stuff by the entrance to my apartment building – I spent 2 days in bed crying.  Calling every single girlfriend I knew sobbing.  I got over it.  I would still beat myself up with the how did I ever allow that to happen?  The lyrics in this song that crack me over the head every time –

I’m not the girl I was but what have I become?
I’m not so willing any more to bend
Still pleasing and conceding
but I’m not gonna lose myself again

Not going to lose myself again – that’s for fucking sure!

My second favorite is Forgiveness – which isn’t really about forgiving – but the Hell No you are not off the hook!  The deception of love and attention and caring that isn’t really there.  This is kinda the slow, ballad-like version of I Will Survive or Single Ladies.  My favorite verse –

You ask for forgiveness
you’re asking too much
I have sheltered my heart in a place you can’t touch
I don’t believe when you tell me your love is real
‘Cause you don’t know much about heaven boy
if you have to hurt to feel

I’m really good about sheltering my heart.  With everyone.  I’m either way too trusting too early or hold back too long.  It’s still hard for me to be completely honest and “naked” with close people in my life.  My husband and a handful of girlfriends come to mind.  It chokes me up just writing this.  Damn those abandonment issues!

I’ve been listening to those 2 songs on repeat multiple times nearly every day.  Although neither of those scenarios is a part of my life right now – it feels healing to my past to experience the emotion pain.

The last song, I’ve really only picked up in the last 2 weeks.  So you wake up, you walk away, leave the baggage behind (or try to)…what’s next?  Self forgiveness, compassion, healing and moving on.  To the place you are ready to let someone back into your heart.  Rivers of Love – and it is a choice.  To either wallow in self-pity and be stuck in life and love.   Or to let go.  I have images of chains breaking away, pressure removed from my heart, and the kinds of tears that release those last bits of sadness, fear and loathing.  This is the whole song –

There’s a tunnel that leads to the rivers of love
The sides make you bleed ‘til your white as a dove
Don’t bother to bring all the baggage you cling to
The porter will free you before you come through
The doorway that cleanses the darkness that mends
It’s easy to smile in the end…

And it all comes down to leaving it all behind and moving on
To the rivers of love
And never be lonely again
How long have you waited? How long ‘til you drown?

The rules and directions the twists and corrections
Take tolls on the highs we still strive ‘til we die
To seek out the one love-the one that we dream of
The one may be there with you everyday
Alone and untethered and free of all ties
Free since the day you first cried

And it all comes down to leaving it all behind and moving on
To the rivers of love
And never be lonely again
How long have you waited? How long ‘til you drown?
How long have you waited? How long ‘til you drown?

The song feels so freeing.  At the same time there is that sting, the reminder, that if you don’t choose to move on – your fate is inevitable.  The power of choice is in your own hands.

These 3 songs will be added to my list of poignant Sarah McLachlan songs of all times.  Maybe one day I’ll tell you all about Angel.

Size DOES matter, but it really shouldn’t

HSDC_Run_2010

That is a picture of me and my niece, V.  We were at the HSDC Fun Run two weeks ago.  Do you know what my first thought was when I saw this picture?  OMG I look so thin!  Seriously, first thought in my head.  I stared at that picture for a few minutes longer and it dawns on me. OMG I actually look like that – for reals!! 

As a refresher – I used to have an eating disorder.  I have many tools in my arsenal to combat the thoughts and desires to ever go back there again.  It happens.  I don’t know if it will ever be erased from my mind.  Regardless – I’m so far beyond that at this point in my life.  The body image stuff?  Yeah…not so much.

It’s been a journey.  There is so much I could share with you about my battle with my body.  The last few years have been interesting.  I’ve been working out with the same trainer for almost 3 years now.  LOVE her.  She has a gentle (militant) way of pushing me beyond my comfort zone to advance to the next step.  Shortly after I started working out with her, I told her I wanted Linda Hamilton Terminator arms. (side note – crickets, girlfriend is too young to get the reference)  How about Holly Hunter/Saving Grace? (almost there)  Once she visited the internets and knew what I was talking about she made it an obtainable goal.  I’ve always wanted nice, toned arms.  I’ve got ‘em now.  And I still want more.  How’s that for obsessive?

But the Jeans.  Ah the jeans…

I’ve had a love/hate relationship with denim in my life.  It has never fit quite right, too big in the waist, not big enough in the thighs – oh how I’ve hated shopping for jeans!  Two years ago Norman convinced me to walk into Nordstrom and have the friendly sales professional help me into a pair of premium denim.  That was a different journey all together.  That first pair sat in my closet for months waiting for me to wash and get them hemmed.  Months.  Finally done and really enjoying them, I decided to go get another pair.  The second were quite tighter than the first, I referred to them as my Skinny Sausage Jeans.  Cause if I was bloated there was no way they were getting on my body.  Sure, they always tell you the denim will stretch and form better to your body.  The Skinny Sausage Jeans took quite a while for that to happen.  Or perhaps – maybe – I had just lost some weight?

hmmmmm

Last fall I decided to get more jeans at Nordstrom because those first 2 pair were kinda loose.  Seems I had gone down a whole size from the first foray.  A size!  Seems that torturous hell-on-earth my trainer puts me through on a weekly basis has helped the tone of my muscles.  Then right after the holidays I was perusing the clearance sales to Martin & Osa (one of my favorite stores for T’s)  The clearance rack had jeans that after additional deductions would have been $19.  Wow!  $19 jeans?  I’ve never paid $19 for jeans.  Sure, yeah, I’ll try them on.  I took a deep breath and grabbed the size I know Nordstrom had fitted me with a few months before.  I pulled those on in the dressing room and you know what?  They fit like a dream.  I nearly started crying. 

All this body image stuff came flooding over me.  For years I have had a perception that I am not one of those girls that can shop off the racks for nice clothes.  My body was too fat, strange shape, too short, too tall, too expensive, looks cheap – I’ve done it all.  Then they are never the right fit, too loose, too tight, lays weird on my waist – I had every reason in the book.  There was a period in my life of long, flow-y dresses and skirts to hide my personal shame.  Or the men’s jeans.   Or dress slacks that were probably way too big for my body even though I felt good in them.  At those times in my life, I would not have been ready for a Stacy and Clinton intervention.

Anyway – I bought those jeans.  That day, I walked out of the store thinking, OMG all the time I have wasted obsessing about my body.  That a number on a pair of jeans and the fit on my body triggered some secret lock and key I wasn’t really aware of.  I wanted to write about it back then.  But I didn’t.  After all, it’s just so much easier to stuff it down and ignore. IGNORE! IGNORE! 

Isn’t perception the craziest thing? 

I’m not quite sure where I am going with this next.  Honestly started writing about my commit to Turn The Page and March Forward with positive intent.  OK – let’s be realistic here, I will commit to starting the process.  To begin with acknowledging my true image and what I love about my body.  Don’t try to boil the ocean Jen, at least not today.

One. Step. At. A. Time.