I learn something new every single day in one way or another. For instance on vacation last week, I learned that waiting to photograph a hummingbird is futile because the perfect shot is usually by chance only; that Steph and I despite having multiple college degrees lack serious problem solving skills when it comes to 5 Wit adventures which ensures for some serious laughing at our own expense; that not all dogs love to swim because Steph’s border collie was downright against going all the way in; that I can in no way complete the Super quiz or the Sunday crossword; and that there is such a thing called a bra extender (probably not all that exciting for the males reading this, but come on ladies being able to buy the pretty bra even if it’s a size smaller is a big deal not to mention possible avoiding the uni-boob look if the bra is just a little too snug is also a win). And those are just some of the things that stuck with me from vacation. I have epiphanies all the time, like my common sense finally decided to show up. And other times I make the effort to learn something new, how to make the best macaroni cheese, how to tackle that dyi project I saw on pintrest, or ways to improve my ever changing high school lesson plans. I’ve always prided myself on being a life long learner (hell at one time I thought I was going to be a professional student) and as a result of continuing my ‘education” I’ve had some revelations and picked up some tricks of the trade that have proven helpful to well…me.
1. Take notes from your dog, and stretch before actually fully waking up in the morning. His array of yoga poses may look humorous, but in all honesty my Golden Retriever has the right idea.
2. Stay hydrated, not only does your skin have a much nicer sheen (note I didn’t say glow since that is reserved for all of the beautiful expectant mamas to be out there) it also helps prevent being attacked in the night by a calf ‘charlie horse’ or toe curling foot cramp.
3. Try to live without regret. Do the things that make you happy even if they seem selfish or out of character. Take chances, sometimes that’s all you have. Do things that scare you because the exhilaration will make you feel alive. Tell the people you love you love them, because tomorrow isn’t guaranteed to anyone. In many ways I’m thankful to Hodg for teaching me these lessons especially.
4. Life is full of surprises! And just because it may not look like what you pictured in your head doesn’t mean the present snapshot isn’t beautiful.
5. Sometimes eat dessert first if you want to! I wouldn’t recommend it as a token rule, but on occasion go for it.
6. Anytime the opportunity to play arises, take it! If it is for an impromptu tea party with your adorable goddaughter or a fetch session with your furry friend, what ever was on your to do list will be there later and these opportunities may not be.
7. Try as hard as you can to not compare your life to anyone else’s because it’s easy to be disappointed in your life when all you see of there’s is what they choose to present to the public.
8. Read books like you are taking an adventure, everyone needs an escape sometimes. Although I have to admit that this most recent vacation also taught me not to trust a Stephen King ending.
9. Agree to disagree. There is no law stating that one party has to be right. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. And most people may not share the same one, and nor should they since chances are their life experiences haven’t been the same to shape them that way.
10. Binge on cheesy tv when you want to (right now I’m in the midst of Friday Night Lights thanks to Dr. J). Admit that maybe your dream job is to be a stay at home dog mom at least for the summer. It’s ok. Everyone needs downtime once in awhile.
11. It’s ok to be angry or sad about your current situation, just don’t let those emotions crowd out all the reasons you have to be happy.
12. Always do the best you can. Giving anything less than 100% isn’t worth it!
13 on are probably more geared towards those of us fighting cancer:
13. The binder is great in the beginning but after awhile just carry around your powerport card info and an updated list of meds, the rest is just taking up room in your bag.
14. If you have a positional port like I do and your ballet and yoga poses fail you, swimming motions work wonders. And apparently telling your phlebotomist your positional is always good for a few laughs.
15. I recently discovered the ‘hat’, which is awesome. I have to provide urine samples biweekly to ensure that I’m not pregnant (sorry for the personal info but this might be useful), and I dread it. Sure for men easy going, but not the case for women. I at least always inevitably miss the cup, pee on my hand, or just have a nervous bladder until I discovered the hat. It’s a plastic device that looks like a shallow top hat that fits under the seat and allows you to do your business normally and then using the spout built in, pour it into the sample cup. Genius! I would possibly even hug the inventor of this handy throw away contraption. Anything that makes life a little easier.
16. When packing for treatment trips only bring what you need. I started off with a suitcase and am down to a simple overnight bag. However, my mom had to upgrade from pocketbook at the actual hospital to backpack to accommodate for my dad’s necessities (kindle, book, wallet, glasses, etc.) too.
17. Find away to make treatment trips fun. Go shopping with your girlfriends, do fun touristy adventures with your family, have a nice meal with your significant other the night before. It doesn’t have to be all about your cancer the whole time.
18. Some people will act differently around you, maybe they don’t realize cancer isn’t catchy or it makes them uncomfortable because the thought that maybe it could have happened to them is too much for them to handle. Accept that not everyone can deal and that’s ok. I struggled with this at first but I have come to terms with it in the last year.
19. Steroids make most people look horrific. And I’m sorry if you have to walk around with a ‘buffalo hump’ and what I like to call the walrus face (because somehow the fluid forces the neck to disappear). It’s truly vain to worry about but nevertheless it is one of the few things that I find truly annoying about this process. I say this knowing I get to go through another course of steroids thanks to a sneaky reoccurrence of treatment induced lung inflammation. On the upside my scan as of Monday is showing no visible tumors and stable lymph nodes, so despite the minor setbacks it is working so far.
20. Scanxiety is a legitimate thing and from what I hear doesn’t ever really go away. So I say a little prayer and just go for it, because the worst news is that I have cancer and well I’ve heard it before and faced it. Cancer is only part of my story, not all of it.
I look forward to learning new things tomorrow and the day after that. File them away, you never know when they may come in handy.