I recognize that cancer changed my perspective and the way I perceive my world and for that I am eternally grateful. I’m not saying that people who have never been put in a situation such as this are not as perceptive by any means, because many people are. I just wasn’t. I used to think life was far more black and white, some people were graced with good luck and prosperity and others were not. Some were eternally optimistic and others perpetually pessimistic. Positive versus negative and so forth and so on. It appeared that polar opposites were far more likely to happen in nature than happy mediums. I’m still not sold that a happy medium exists, I tend to believe that too is idealistic and that people gravitate towards one direction more than the other.
Despite that lack of finding a happy medium, cancer has given me a different lens in which to view my world. It seems less concrete, more shades of grey (so to speak and not in the hot Christian Gray sense). Life is complex and there is nothing wrong with that. People are more apt to appreciate the things in life that they had to work for, that never came easy. I once read a quote that really resonates with me that said “I love the person I’ve become, because I fought to become her”. Life offers up trials and tribulations and how you deal with them is what matters, because you can never predict them or dictate the outcome. I used to be frustrated by things that were outside of my control and now I embrace them. I used to dwell on the things that went wrong and now I shrug them off and keep moving forward. I am appreciative of simple moments in a day that prior to this, would have gone unnoticed. I am thankful for the people and the many blessings that I have in my life. There is something to be said for having an event shake things up and change your whole world. The survivors that I know share this sentiment. My new stem cell friend (a friend introduced me to one of his friends, about the same age as us, that recently had an allo stem cell transplant), who shares my humor approach to life, and similarly agreed that he has never appreciated his life more. That there is a new beauty in every day, in little things. He appreciates the birds chirping in the early hours of the morning, where before he may have been annoyed. He isn’t the only one, survivors talk about how life has new meaning. Hell, Tim McGraw sang “Someday, I hope you get the chance to live like you were dying” because it changes everything. Now I know I’m not dying, but the gratitude for life is still there. I think in the scheme of life we get too busy to reflect on it and I used this Thanksgiving month to be thankful for something everyday. Because cancer taught me to count my blessings even when things seem a little less than ideal.
In the spirit of this Thanksgiving month, I have decided to participate in the 30 days of being thankful. I think we all get too busy with life to reflect on how blessed we truly are. So this challenge gives me an opportunity to pause and be thankful for all of the many gifts I am so lucky to have been given.
1. I am thankful for my friendships and the fact that even some of my childhood friends are still my best friends as an adult. When life gets rocky they “show up” and at the end of the day, they make all the difference.
2. I am thankful for Sunday mornings on the couch, watching CBS Sunday Morning with my favorite guys. (Even if Jax takes up most of the couch. )
3. Today, I am thankful for colleagues who have become friends. There is no better group of people to be in the ‘trenches’ with. After all who else can you laugh with, vent to, share snide jokes and comments, an even dance in the hallway with! And for the record I think I have some of the best colleagues around!
4. Today, I am thankful for Z. I am so lucky to have found an oncologist who fully understands my quirky personality, fluently speaks sarcasm, and always tells me the truth. He lets me know when I’m being ridiculous and takes a vested interest in my life “outside of my cancer”. I am equally thankful for the incredible oncology nurses at Hillcrest who have become personal friends, a strong support system, and at times a comedic act. While the circumstances of meeting them may not have been ideal, I feel thankful that as a result I got to know them.
5. Today, I am thankful for my parents who are always there for me no matter how big or small the request. Sometimes, it’s a meal (my Dad must have had esp when he suggested Chee’s for dinner tonight, since my mom and I were secretly plotting on how to convince him to get takeout for dinner), a random movie night, trip to the store, home repairs, car repairs, puppysitting for Jax, etc. They are always there when I need them and most often I leave laughing at one of my dad’s punny jokes or my mom’s sarcastic comments. Even at 32, they can make any day seem better.
6. Today, I am thankful for my former students, many of whom have become friends over the years. The reward of teaching is rarely noticed in the midst of a school day, it is in the conversations that come years later. I appreciate those conversations, over lunch, dinner, or coffee, more than they will ever know!
7. Today, I am thankful for kindness. The kindness of strangers and people I know and love. Over the past nine months, I have been the fortunate recipient of so much kindness in the form of encouraging words, prayers, prayer shawls, trinkets of hope, books, cards, a stem cell transplant care package, meals, cookies, visits filled with laughter, and even hugs. And while I struggle with accepting anything including help from others, it has truly meant the world to me. There are not enough thank yous in the world to express how much the kindness of others has meant to me and I hope that in return I can pay it forward someday. As Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert, said “there is no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.”
8. Today, I am thankful for Stephanie and days that include good food, a good movie, and good laughs. Every time we are together it is an adventure, big or small. And sometimes even strangers take part…like tonight for example when Steph was flabbergasted by my ignorance of the churro. There was no visual for me to truly understand this cinnamon delight, so of course I would have to try it at her insistance. The man dispensing the churro got such a kick out of us that he gave the said churro to us for free and when I said maybe I’ll kind of like it…he exclaimed impossible that would be like saying “you are kind of dating someone”! In other words you won’t kind of like it, you’ll love it. He and Steph shared and equal love for the churro, which I said sort of sounded like a furry creature more than a food. Either way I sampled my first churro, made a stranger laugh, and Steph and I have another story to add to our 10+ years collection of ridiculous stories. So all in all I am thankful for her and days like today!
9. Today I am thankful for my handsome boyfriend. He is thoughtful, funny, and thinks my quirkiness is adorable. I am so glad that he walked back into my life ten years later. I know that this relationship won’t necessarily be easy (I come with a lot of baggage), but I can say that it will be worth it!
10. Today, I am thankful for road trip adventures with two of my favorites (Stephanie and Donna) that lead to Yankee Candle, Judie’s, Zanna’s, and the Williamsburg General Store. Our annual outing is always filled with entertaining conversation, loud laughter, shopping, good food, and always dessert!
11. Today I am thankful for the men and women who bravely serve our nation or have served to keep this the land of the free! They sacrifice time with their own families to protect the time we have with ours. These men and women are our true heroes. So today be thankful for our veterans near and far, past and present!
12. Today I’m thankful for Noah, who has been like a brother to me my whole life. He ruined my barbies, practiced foul shots for the Elks Hoop shoot with me (we both won first place that year), shares vacation memories at Old Orchard Beach (running into the ocean in all our clothes), laughs and appreciates my dad’s punny jokes, shakes his head at our crazy moms, and is an amazing father to my goddaughter Tessa and his son Hunter. So happy birthday Noah! I look forward to the holiday season with the Snidders and the Pinheads!
13. Today I am thankful for laughter. I believe that a good laugh can turn any day around. I want to spend my days laughing and this morning my day started with laughter thanks to Sara and she kept it going for the day. I’m thankful for these captured laughs with friends and family and am reminded that laughter is the best medicine!
14. Today I am thankful for Friday night mother daughter time. I am so lucky to have always had that Gilmore girls type of bond with my mom that allows me to tell her anything and everything. This Friday was spent watching Sons of Anarchy, but others have been dinner out, movies, shopping, roadtripping and just having fun together! I love her bunches!
15. Today, I am thankful for friendly competition. It keeps things interesting! And that my lasagna was a success! ♡
16. Today, I am thankful for Sundays. I have always loved Sundays. When I was younger I remember Sundays were always family days, ice skating with my dad, big family dinners at my Babci’s. Today was spent in a similar fashion, snuggle time on the couch with my favorite guys (Josh and Jax), the Farmer’s market with Stephanie, a chat at the Snyder’s, and Sunday dinner with my parents! It was a perfect day!
17. Today, I am thankful for reconnecting with old friends. Having a new old friend allows you to share memories, make new ones, and laugh about them all. Tris and I did this tonight over a glass of wine; we had to take it easy on a school night! Can’t wait till Sunday for more quality friend time and wine.
18. Today, I am thankful for nature. On my way home yesterday I saw a beautiful owl gracefully land in a nearby tree and today a beautiful cardinal outside my living room window. The Berkshires are truly beautiful. And if you pay attention you see that you are living in a wildlife sanctuary. The turkeys and the bear crossed my path not long ago on a casual stroll. Enjoy the beauty of it all.
19. Today, I am thankful for John, a complete stranger who took the time to pull over when he saw me stranded on the side of the road with a flat tire. He changed it to my spare and sent me on my travels. I can’t thank him enough. Not only did he help me out, but he restored my faith in chivalry.
20. Today, I am thankful for Jax; even though he may not be thankful for the bath he just received. He may not always be the most considerate, but at least once a week he sends me off to work with a toy in my school bag. He loves to swim and play catch. He loves a good cartoon and couch snuggles, even if he takes up most of the room. He is full of personality and keeps me entertained. I couldn’t love him more!
21. Today, I am thankful for family. We have found time to get together more often and share laughs (sometimes hysterical laughs, the kind where tears actually fall from laughing too hard), exchange stories, and eat good food. So thanks Nancy and Kim for a great night! And we even made it home safely Can’t wait till next time!
22. Yesterday, I was thankful for the new people in my life. Josh was quick to accept that Jax and I are a package deal and yesterday I got to meet some more of his people. I had a great afternoon and dinner at my favorite place, Judie’s, with Halley, Sarah, and Adrienne. Thank you for a great day and hopefully we can do it again in the near future.
23.Today I am thankful for these amazing women, which have been my friends since elementary school (Tammy and Stephanie)and through the awkward years of middle and high school (Tris and Kristy). Today we brunched, toasted over mimosas, baked pies, reminisced over yearbooks, and laughed all day. I couldn’t ask for better girl friends or a better Sunday afternoon. ♡
24.Today I’m thankful for the comforts of home. There is nothing better than being home on the couch with Jax, catching up on my tv with Hulu, taking in the smells of Yankee Candle fall scents, and enjoying an evening snack. Home is where the heart is and the dog!
25.Today, I am thankful for late afternoon coffee dates with Tammy and Starbucks White Chocolate Mocha!
26.Tonight I am thankful for cozy sweaters and candles on snowy dark (power outage) nights.
27.Today I am thankful for Thanksgiving, because this holiday month reminded me to count my blessings, cherish time spent with family and friends, and appreciate the love that surrounds me everyday. And today I spent the morning with Jax and I spent the day with family in every sense of the word enjoying good food, sweet desserts, an abundance of laughs, and some solid entertainment thanks to my super sweet and spunky goddaughter! ♡