Tag Archives: friends

Summer of Porches

I’ve been on hiatus, enjoying my summer of porches. I’ve always sort of fantasized about sitting in an oversized rocker on a wide front porch with large white columns in the foreground, sipping mint juleps. I may even go so far as to envision myself wearing a southern dress and floppy sun hat. What, am I the only one who has a romanticized Gone with the Wind view of the porch? My summer of porches slightly pales in comparison of this grandiose view, but the action is far better.

I lucked out because my transplant was timed perfectly to enjoy the majestic views of the mountain and summer weather of the Berkshires (minus the rainy days and odd forty degree mornings). So the two out of seven days are phenomenal. All joking aside having my transplant in the spring allows me the opportunity to be out in the world or at least on a few porches to be exact, otherwise I would be trapped inside. I have frequented a number of fabulous porches and a makeshift patio of sorts (mine). I spend my days under the canopy photographing my birds, reading books for pleasure and work, making my way through my magazine subscriptions of which I have more than I should admit to, and visiting with friends. Just last weekend my friend Tristanne and I set up shop out there to work on wedding plans, which is both fun and completely overwhelming. Thank god I have two years to plan appropriately. I have to admit I may be a Pintrest addict who has forty wedding dresses pinned to their board and an equal number of ideas that may or may not suit our venue. By the time my planning period is over, I will definitely need an intervention of sorts. Regardless I will enjoy another month (hopefully more) of hanging out on my patio.

I also frequented a fabulous multi level porch at my friend Karen’s where we have party on the porch once (sometimes) more during the summer and fall. It has been a tradition for a number of years now and I’m glad that despite my inability to really be out in the world, I can still do things like this. I was excited to take the long way and walk up the outside steps to the second tiered deck, lined with a fun potted garden and hanging bird feeders that have frequent visitors. That wasn’t even the best part, the best part was hearing Donna’s booming voice and air hugs from everyone, except Karen who shares my hugging philosophy. I’m lucky to have these amazing women in my life, who are my coworkers and friends. I talk to Karen everyday, which makes planning party on the porches even more fun. And on those porch days we laugh uncontrollably (especially when trying to get a group selfie), eat well, and share our latest adventures. It was nice to be with my people, especially since I will miss the next six months of breakfasts and lunches while they are back at work and I am still at home.

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I also had the opportunity to frequent a new porch. Steph and her husband just redid their front porch in a beautiful reddish stain with black flooring and spindles. They really did a great job, adding lattice work and solar accents. They also have fabulous wooden rockers where you can relax and chat. I haven’t had a ton of time to spend at their still new to me home, no like their old one that used to have a back deck. I was sad that I would have to miss our annual trip to lake where much of the time is spent on the camper patio doing crosswords, playing board games, and eating Ruffle chips and French onion dips. It was actually one of the things I was most disappointed about having to skip. It’s our time to catch up without work, to read young adult fiction simultaneously like we have our own secret book club, and just really catch up.  So now we have to do that from the comfort of our porches/patios.

Friday marked my day 100, which is a really big deal in the transplant world. It means that I made it through the first three months unscathed, no acute gvh, infections, or other complications. It doesn’t mean those things can’t occur it just means that they may be less likely in some cases and or less severe in others. That doesn’t mean I’m out of the woods yet, as all of my medical team likes to remind me. Things can definitely go awry but they feel confident that I’m on the right track. I get to taper off the anti-rejection meds which might stir up some gvh but they prepare for that. My appointments are spaced out to biweekly locally and monthly in Boston. I can order take out from reputable places, which is very exciting. I love knowing that there is an option not to cook my own meals. I’m planning on waiting though till our anniversary dinner in a week and a half. Aside from that things remain the same, no public places. So I will continue to enjoy my summer of porches!

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On a break…

Everyone remembers the infamous Friends episode when Rachael accosts Ross for cheating and he adamantly shouts “We were on a break”. You probably don’t remember the specifics but that line is unforgettable, often repeated, and frequently used in parody. I used to joke about breaking up with my alarm clock at the start of every summer break. The very concept of being on break should illicit feelings of freedom. However, ever so rarely it does the opposite. For instance my current break from life doesn’t necessarily feel free. Now I’m guessing that’s because I have restrictions in place, similar to an ankle monitor without the actual hardware. And no, I’m not a flight risk nor did I jump bail but my doctor insists on my being sanctioned at home so I am isolated from the germy public. Both my soon to be father in law and my fiance are in complete agreement and insist on my not “rocking the boat”. I jest but in reality I have no intentions of breaking the rules, however that doesn’t mean that I have to like them. Consider this, I find going to the hospital gift shop exhilarating. I wish I was kidding. I actually have plans to visit it again on my next Thursday appointment; it’s scandalous, a shopping loophole (that is not Amazon). So as you can see my break from life is not exactly the break I would envision for myself. I have appointments frequently, and shouting “We are on a break!” probably won’t work.

So instead I dream of my girlboss status (even though it didn’t get picked up for a second season)  and being Alicia Florrick from The Good Wife. I even went so far as finding a padfolio to carry around when I return to work. I clearly have too much time on my hands with this break and have binged way too much Netflix. I never realized how much of my life was spent not on a break – running constantly. So I have since become an amateur photographer and ornithologist – inaccurately identifying neighborhood birds. I have also become a walker, not a street walker or a jay walker – a bike trail walker with my mom and my Golden. I intend to try painting and writing at everyone’s encouragement. I even signed up for an online writing camp, so we shall see. In the meantime I’m on a break…

My Someday Love

So there I was tissues in hand preparing to cry through an episode of This is Us (my new favorite show) when I was completely derailed by Josh. Most evenings he comes home from work, puts his bag down on the old leather recliner, that once belonged to his Grandpa John, in the corner of our living room and walks over kisses me hello and goes about his business. On Tuesday March 7, he didn’t go about business as usual. Instead, he came in the door, dropped the bag onto the chair, walked toward me and dropped to one knee. Jax thought he should join him and got up off of the couch and got to the floor with ‘dad’. In that moment Josh asked me to marry him and spend our lives together. I immediately said yes!! and cried! He leaned in to kiss me and so did Jax, which made up the most perfect moment of my life. There we were…the three of us, as it should be. Josh slipped the most beautiful vintage engagement ring on my finger and said he couldn’t wait to spend our lives together and there it was…I knew I had found my Someday Love. The one that I had always hoped for.

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Josh always knew. He claimed I was the ‘one that got away’ in college and now I was his fiancee, making him a very lucky man. I have to say, I may not have known then but I know without a doubt now that I am the lucky one. Josh walked back into my life when most people really would have run in the other direction. And instead of bailing on any of the opportunities I gave him to in the two and a half years we have been back together, he just shrugs me off and says any time we have together is better than ever being apart. It’s hard to balance a relationship while having cancer. I have always struggled with the fact that I may be responsible for his  ultimate heartbreak and not by any choice of my own but at the hands of Hodge. Josh has always said it was too late for that, he was all in. And he is! He even asked my father for permission, which meant a lot to me. I am very close to my parents and that tradition was one I had hoped to have as part of our love story.

Since Tuesday, things have been a whirlwind of excitement and congratulatory statements. My mom and Nancy arrived in our kitchen in their pajamas the night of the engagement and sang “Going to the chapel”. Their excitement made taco engagement night even better! Josh’s parents were equally excited and couldn’t wait to see us in person over the weekend. I was overjoyed to be able to call Josh’s sister and her wife my sisters in law. Halley (Josh’s sister’s wife and I had bonded instantly and became fast friends.) We called Josh’s ninety four year old grandmother because we just couldn’t wait to tell her the happy news. I called Steph right away, but I had suspected she already knew and she did. She had been colluding with Josh to help him find the perfect ring. I am lucky to have Steph, despite that I drive her crazy, she is that friend. The one that can help your fiancee out and keep the secret (no matter how hard I tried to get her to tell me), the one that you share your secret pintrest boards and she is suddenly heart happy that you have a secret princess/ hopeless romantic side that you have been denying for years. Now I can look forward to planning our wedding in two years. I have plenty of time during my transplant recovery period to think about it (and a fancy new wedding planner thanks to Sarah and Halley to plan it in).

I am so excited to start this new chapter of my life with Josh and Jax. March 7 has now changed my life instantaneously twice. Once with my cancer diagnosis and now with my engagement. Both prove how important it is to cherish the moments of your life that matter! ❤

A day in the life…

My eighth grade students are currently working on their career fair projects. They had to conduct research on five careers that peaked their interest and five potential colleges that they would possibly consider after high school based on their career choice. Despite a significant amount of hemming and hawing the majority were at least able to muster up enough energy to use class time to complete these tasks. Once they finished the research component they were asked to select one of their career choices to develop an essay, trifold board, and presentation. Enter more hemming and hawing and even some outright complaining. But alas they continued anyway, because failing a pass fail High School Prep class seemed somewhat ridiculous even to them. However, one component stood out to them and it was the section where they were to describe a day in the life of (enter career here). They were taken aback by the responsibilities some of these occupations required in a day, especially since many of the eighth graders complain about having to attend school for six hours and being asked to complete even the simplest of tasks. When I asked them what they thought it looked like to be an adult with legitimate responsibilities, one replied easier than this makes it sound. I just laughed but then I got to thinking about how many roles we play as adults and how different each of those roles really is. I would need to consider a day in the life of a teacher, a daughter, a girlfriend, a friend, and a cancer patient. This was the first time I really considered what a day in the life of me looked like.

A day in my life as a teacher starts off at 5:30 when my first alarm goes off and I awaken to Florence and the Machine telling me to “Shake it Out”. If I’m being honest I hit the snooze at least three times before I have no choice but to get out of my nice warm bed because my second alarm is going off and it is at least seven feet away. I may be a morning person by nature but I’m not crazy enough to want to hop right up and get ready. My morning routine consists of letting the dog out, getting is breakfast ready, drinking some OJ, taking my vitamins, and listening to music while I put make up on and get dressed. I know me, so I also know that I have to lay out my clothes and matching accessories the night before, same goes with lunch and snacks. It’s funny how ever night is still a school night even though I’m almost thirty three. Once I’m ready, I double check my bag and decide if I’m going to bring breakfast or buy breakfast on the way to work. One requires me to make coffee and grab a breakfast sandwich from the freezer and the other to roll through McDonalds or DD on the way in. Once I arrive at school I enjoy a breakfast chat with my favorite friends and colleagues. Anything goes in the history office for breakfast conversation and it rarely directly relates to work. My favorite story was when we were discussing the concept of a cougar and my boss referred to an older women seeking younger male companionship as a puma only the way she said it, it sounded like pewma. We laughed and laughed and we still do especially because once she realized her error she said “oh that’s right I meant coyote.” Needless to say my morning always starts off with a laugh thanks to these amazing women and thank god because the rest of the day is not so laid back. AT 7:45, I take on my teaching duties which entail teaching lessons, organizing activities, managing student behavior, grading, planning, filing paperwork, attending meetings and learning teams and hoping that I get at least 50% of what needs to be done in the course of the day done at school. If not than that means I have a minimum of two three hours each night when I get home and that doesn’t even include making sure my lesson plans are done before Monday of the next week, which usually get done on Sundays. I think if you asked students, their parents, the general public how many hours teachers work, most would think it was just the duration of the school day. I wish that were true. The majority of teachers spend their weekends and evening time dealing with school related things. People don’t realize that the school day is taught teaching and handling problems as they arise in regard to trying to get a student back on track, reporting homelessness, attending IEP meetings, differentiating plans or scrapping a whole lesson when you realize the kids just don’t get it. So all in all the day in the life of a teacher is constantly changing, important, fun, stressful, exhausting and sometimes maddening. AT the end of the day, after teaching my five classes and trying to squeeze in as much grading, organizing, planning, and filing in the fifty eight minutes I have free I’m pretty much spent and some days, the really hard ones defeated. It’s frustrating to see a lack of genuine interest in education, where students refuse to pick up a pencil, submit work, participate in even the smallest way but somehow the teacher is blamed if they aren’t engaged. So a day in the life of teacher is nothing short of ambitious.

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A day in the life as a daughter has changed drastically since becoming an adult. I find that I am so thankful for my parents and all that they have done for me and will do. I find that as an adult part of being a good daughter is checking in with them frequently and keeping them in the loop about daily activities, important subjects, their lives, my life. I like to spend quality time with my parents because after all they are my parents. Fridays are mother daughter night and include food, shopping, movies; things of that nature. I spend time with my dad on the weekends taking a ride to Home Depot or Advanced Auto or some other place he has an errand. Plus I usually see him bright and early because he has sanctioned the garage at my house as his own. In a lot of ways, it’s nice to know that they are always close by when I need them or even when I don’t. So the life of a daughter requires you to be conscientious and thoughtful. You may be an adult but they are still your parents.

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A day in the life of a girlfriend is new to me. As a self proclaimed commitment phobe, I have avoided this title for nearly ten years until about 6 six months ago when Josh walked back into my life. Now starting a new relationship is always fun and exciting but it is also somewhat nerve wracking as you try to gage how your new significant other will react to the way you say things, do things, just are, in general. Josh and I are very different so this temperature reading part of our relationship has been amusing. We have found things that we have in common, started new traditions for ourselves, and agreed to disagree about other things. It’s all new territory for me, so the day in the life of a girlfriend is exciting and new.But it also requires me to be more considerate and willing to compromise than I generally am in my other roles. For example I am a morning person, Josh is more of a night person and it has been interesting trying to navigate what that looks like for us.The best part for me is seeing how these things play out.  But most importantly a day in my life as a girlfriend is filled with love (I know, so cheesy).

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A day in the life as a friend is busy. I am constantly trying to catch up with my friends in some capacity, via phone, email, coffee, dinner dates, etc. and I love every minute of it. I have maintained friendship from childhood and added new ones along the way and I make time in my schedule to fit everyone in. I believe that these friendships in my life have really shaped my life. My friends have been there through the good, the bad, and the ugly and they continue to celebrate with me, cry with me, and vent with me when necessary. Together we are so much stronger than when we are on our own.

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And lastly a day in the life of a cancer patient is confusing. I say this because there are nearly whole days I forget that I have cancer, but that moment when I remember kind of sucks. And even when I do really think about my cancerous status, there are times I am thankful for it. I am a better person because of it and I know that. But other days I’m worried and angry at the universe for making me have to deal with the big things at such a young age. So a day in the life of a cancer patient is sort of like being on a roller coaster that at the current juncture seems infinite and will continue to seem that way until you hear the words remission. And roller coasters are scary but they are also exhilarating and can change in an instant. So in this case I guess I get to enjoy the ride.

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I didn’t even include dog momma and I can’t even imagine a day for those of you who have to add mom in general. So many of us are so many things and when we really think about a day in the life of…we realize how complex a day really is. More importantly we realize how meaningful a day is where we get to be all of these things.

Donations of Love…

I have struggled to find just the right words to express my gratitude to my family, friends, and community as a whole for the love that they have shown me over the course of the last nine months and more recently as my scenic route with my Hodgkin’s gets longer and on ever more winding road. It has been said a time or two (hundred times) that I am one of the most stubborn people ever. While I prefer to think of myself as independent, self sufficient, assertive, and picky; I suppose stubborn may sum up these attributes just fine. Having acknowledged my stubbornness, it also suffices to say that I find it difficult to accept help. This is not a new development that came with my cancer, it is a personally trait that is just me. I’ll admit it, I was one of those people…The kind that will break an arm to carry all the groceries into the house in one trip because it is usually just me; the kind that never says no even if I am being crushed by the weight of the work and commitments I already have; the kind that will struggle to get done what is needed on my own because that is just part of my nature. The kind that thought my cancer diagnosis and new status was my own to bear.

That is not to say that I didn’t think it would impact those who love me. I just thought I would handle it like I handle anything and everything else; face it head on and deal with the snags as they come and only ask for help when it is absolutely necessary. I remember the first time I called Z’s office because I had a slight fever and he was elated, because he assumed I would never call, that I would attempt to tough it out despite his instructions. I would like to point out that that may be true of my personality but not so much when it comes to  my health. Either way, I think it illustrates who I am. My friends indirectly remind me every single day that they are part of this journey too. That they feel the weight of my diagnosis and fight to beat it. In essence they are as caught in its web as I am. I can tell by the weight of it all in my mom’s eyes or the anger my dad feels. I see it on Steph’s face every time I have to tell her another treatment failed, in Erik’s voice when I tell him the same, or when Josh holds me a little tighter because there is nothing he can say to make it easier for me or for him. It’s obvious to me that the people who love and care for me are just as much a part of this as I am and they want to be there, are willing to be there, and will be there no matter what.

Steph and a group of my closest friends and family recently planned a fundraiser to help with my medical bills that I was swimming under, but was equally determined to make it work on my own regardless. I didn’t want to burden anyone else with my situation, but in the end I had no choice. Steph and the others went ahead and organized this amazing event without my consent. They put it in countless hours of work organizing months before, getting donations, securing all the details. There are no words for the gratitude I feel. The love and compassion I feel for them. I am so fortunate to have so many amazing people in my life – who ignore my requests, stand by me, and brave the storm with me. It reminds me that “there really are so many beautiful reasons to be happy”. I have a beautiful life that is filled to brim with some of the most wonderful people you could ever know. I am close to my parents, adore my second family (the Snyders), love my boyfriend who has made it his mission to make sure I laugh and smile even when I’m having a bad day, have the best friends anyone could ask for, and I meet new people that inspire me every day. The community came out to the fundraiser in support and while they were donating money to the KP fund to help with my bills, to me they were donating love and support and encouragement! And for that I am eternally grateful!

I received a card from someone who means the world to me and we have a shared history that is both happy and sometimes overwhelmingly sad. And I read her card every day to remind me to be strong and that when I don’t think I can be, there are so many people who love me who will take some of the punches for me.

I believe in you

in the things that are important to you and the way you choose to live your life…

I believe that you can accomplish anything you set out to do, that you have many talents and the wisdom to use them well…

I believe that you have what it takes to overcome obstacles and to grow from every experience life bring your way…

I believe in your courage, your compassion, your integrity, your strength.

I believe in your goodness…

I believe in you.

I hope that everyone realizes how many amazing people they have in their corner without ever being put in the position that I am in. I hope that you notice and be thankful for everyone who is a part of your life, whether they are in the game or on the sidelines because when it matters they will all be there to cheer you on.

So thank you for your donations of love!