Posts Tagged ‘life’

Wednesday, March 26, 2014 (12:58am)
Long Time…

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted a blog. It’s not for lack of things to write about. I’ve still been journaling. So much has happened the last few years. So much happened during the season that I had cancer, the surgery and the follow up… amazing things. I wanted to write about them but I was still processing everything internally. I couldn’t figure out a way to do a quick summary. While I was pondering all the crazy that is my life, my world flipped upside down and has been that way ever since.

In May of 2012 Ken was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. By the time it was discovered it had already spread to his bones, spine and lymph nodes. Since it was a slow growing cancer it really was tragic that it was not diagnosed sooner, especially since he was at the doctors frequently with his other health issues. Suddenly there were specialists and surgery and follow up treatment and learning to live with that kind of diagnosis. I now know for sure what I suspected when I was going through my own cancer stuff … it’s way harder to see him suffer and grow through this process than it was going through my own bout with cancer.

I am not unfamiliar with grief. I’ve had plenty of loss over the years, and I’ve walked through the valley of terminal illness and death with many people. But there is a different kind of grief involved with living day to day with life threatening disease.

In the middle of it Ken and I have both been energized in some ways too. We are both more aware than ever with how precious each day is. Our time together means more. Our time with people we love means more. We’re just calling it “sudden death overtime.” We’re in that exciting part of life where anything can happen and every play is important. I also know now how much of a team effort life is. Apparently it takes a village to raise a couple of cancer survivors. I’m so thankful for the love and tenderness of our friends who have been amazing support and have walked with us in the midst of the journey. It’s been good seeing my husband get to experience firsthand the love of so many people.

So much has happened … heartbreaking, horrible, amazing, wonderful, beautiful things. Hopefully soon I’ll have the time and energy to write about them.

I had been waiting to write until I had something “profound” to say. Then I realized just experiencing life together was more important. Tonight I’m just taking the opportunity to acknowledge I’m here. I’m still alive. I’m still hopeful, and thankful. I’m thankful to see the redemptive thread still being woven throughout my life. And even though there are times when I’m overwhelmed and would like to just curl up in a little ball in the corner, most of time I’m amazed at how much life we are experiencing in the midst of it all.

Hopefully this will be continued sooner than the gap between the last post and I’ll be able to write more about the things that I’ve been thinking about late at night. If you’re here reading this, thank you. Thank you for caring for us and being a part of our lives. Thank you for sharing your lives with us!

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Wednesday, December 14, 2011 (12:27am)

Some Info About Me You Won’t Find On Medical Intake Forms…

 I just moved this post over from my other less intense blog…

Who knew cancer could be such a time consuming job????  The other day I had to fill out 12 pages of questions for the oncologist that will be doing my surgery. By the time I was done she knew a lot about my medical history and the medical history of my family. But I stopped and wrote her a note about the parts of me she wouldn’t find on the questionnaire. I wanted her to know me and not just my diseased body parts. This is part of what I wrote her. I thought it would be appropriate to share it here with you too. Thank you so much to all who stop by here and are concerned about me. Thank you so much for your prayers as well. Here’s a little bit of my story …

12/8/11

Some information about me you won’t find on the forms:

I’m currently self employed teaching guitar / bass / drums / mandolin / uke / keyboards / hand percussion and photography and visual arts. I work on average 12 hours a day 6 days a week to pay the medical bills for my husband who has a large number of medical issues including being an insulin dependant diabetic. Since the early 2000s my husband has been unable to work. I have been keeping up my current pace as sole provider for my family. Being self employed our insurance and other meds are over 1500 a month. It was all working pretty well until the economy went south. Now it’s a struggle to make ends meet, but somehow it always works out. I am incredibly thankful to be able to do something I love for a living and have any work given the economic state of the country.

Before teaching I worked as a photographer / media producer and then also at several churches. I realized that my heart and passion was to reach the kids who were at risk or struggling, and that I could do a lot more good really investing in a smaller number of lives. I do that now in the midst of teaching. I also mentor struggling kids. As my student’s parent’s have lost their jobs, I’ve tried to continue teaching as many as I can. I also started an instructional youtube channel so that the ones who couldn’t afford lessons could learn. To date it’s been viewed by over a quarter of a million people.

I’ve overcome a lot of obstacles in my life including growing up in a home with an extremely mentally ill mother who died when I just turned 14. I experienced extreme abuse as a child.

While I wouldn’t wish many of the experiences I have had on anyone, I know for a fact that they have helped shape the good part of who I am. I’m a stronger, more hopeful, more compassionate person because of it all. Had my husband not become sick, there are so many students and other people I would have never met that I treasure having so much in my life. I have former students all over the world now leading worship in their churches, mentoring other kids, working in foreign countries helping others, producing video that has helped make a difference. One of them, who has lived in Afghanistan for many years told me a while ago… “You might never make it to this country, but everything we talked about and everything I learned from you, I’ve carried here with me.” I believe that the lives of the kids I’m with every day are precious. I want the legacy that I leave to be that they know that they are loved and that they were created uniquely for a purpose. I might not be able to get out of my teaching room very often but they will.

I’ve overcome a lot in my life. And I’m a fighter. It’s my hope and my prayer that with your help I’ll be able to overcome the cancer that’s in my body. I appreciate so much your willingness to take on the challenge of the surgery.

I am glad my prognosis is so good. But either way, whether I win or loose this battle, I know that I’ve already had three lifetimes worth of amazing experiences filled with amazing people. I am ready to fight the cancer because I have so much to live for, but I will not let it define who I am any more than the other obstacles that I’ve faced.

When my mother died in her 40′s she had hemolytic anemia as well as some kind of aggressive blood disorder. I had a conversation with her doctor who was also a family friend and loved me. At the time they weren’t sure if there would be a hereditary component to it or not. He gave me the best advice anyone could have ever given me. He said “We just don’t know, if you do get it, you will most likely die. You want to really live your life… each day.” That’s what I’ve done all these years and that’s what I’ll keep doing.

Thank you again so much for taking the time to see me. I just thought you might want to know a little about the person connected with the cancer. I’ve heard that you are amazing at what you do, and I’m thankful to have you in my corner.

Thursday, December 15, 2011 (1:52am)

Important Things I Learned From My Husband…

My husband and I have been married since the early 80′s. There has been a lot of living along the way. The last few weeks I’ve been looking back at my life and remembering. In the process it made me remember again just why I love my husband Ken so much, and how much I’ve learned from him over the years. Here are just a few of the highlights in no particular order…

There’s only one s in “sauce.”

Spelling has never been my strong suit. Scrabble was not the game for me. My mother’s reaction to my horrible spelling was to tell me to spell it like it sounds. She was from West Virginia though so with the thick accent it didn’t work well. Dog still sounded like dawgg to me. My Ken has always patiently helped me work through stuff like that.

When tying your shoes, the left shoestring needs to go over the right one.

I was an only child growing up in a home with a mentally ill mother. Her teaching style was to show me how to do something, scream at me or beat the crap out of me if I did it wrong. I missed the normal developmental things like effectively tying my shoes, or learning how to play games etc. I was an adult when my husband actually showed me how to tie my shoes so they stayed tied and faced the right direction. :) I was also clueless when it came to being a part of a family and making that work too. He has modeled for me what family looks like and has been my family all these years. That’s an even more important life lesson than how to tie my shoes.

If it’s sloppy, eat it over the sink.

Food and life gets messy sometimes. It’s always good to control the mess as much as possible. Drippy fruit is easier to contain leaning over the sink. Sometimes people’s lives are every bit as messy. For all these years our lives have been populated by a huge number of people. Many of them ended up at our house during times of stress or crisis. Ken is not a real “people person.” Both of us by nature would make great hermits. But in all these years with the diverse parade of humanity coming through our doors and sometimes sleeping on our couch, Ken has always been so supportive and willing to have them there. I’ve seen him be incredibly tender to some who’ve been so wounded. I’ve seen him be incredibly patient with people who could have driven almost anyone crazy. And every day he puts up with a steady parade of people coming in and out of the house for music lessons… all this from a man who doesn’t particularly care for music.

Real love is worth waiting for.

Ken and I met when I was probably 19. He’s 8 years older than me. He was a grown man who had been on his own for quite some time. I was still trying to figure out who I was and what I wanted. I was also still trying to work through the lingering effects of the abuse I experienced in child hood, that left me afraid to trust anyone with my heart. He fell in love with me when I still had a lot of baggage. In true photo-geek fashion he started buying compatible camera equipment before I was ready to even date him. He loved me while I was too afraid to love… until the love I felt for him grew larger than that fear. He loved me purely in a way that made me feel safe. Some of the other guys I dated before him loved me in spite myself. They were threatened by some of the very things that he found appealing. And after all these years, even though I know I drive him nuts some times, I’ve never questioned his love or his acceptance of me. What an incredible gift for a husband to give his wife.

Sometimes real love is tough and requires sacrifice.

In my 20s I had a crazy work schedule that took a toll on my body and my social life. My sleep schedule was turned around for a long time. I was tired and exhausted a lot of the time when I wasn’t working. Ken was always so good to help pick up the slack and go out of his way to help and take care of me. There were a few years where I just physically didn’t have it in me to work full time, and he kept at it when I couldn’t. A few years ago his body said NO MORE to his crazy work schedule and the incredible stress he was under at work. He was able to do it a lot longer than I would have been able to under the same circumstances. These days he faces a lot of physical challenges. He keeps track of all the different medicines and all the things that keep his body regulated much better than I could ever do it. Even with the physical things he faces every day he manages to keep things going around the house and helps support me with my teaching business. In the process I get up everyday and put one foot in front of the other and keep working even when I’m exhausted because that’s what I need to do to make sure we have the medical care we need. It’s a tough gig with the current economy but we’re making it. It’s certainly not the life we dreamed of… but it is sooooo worth it. We have each other. We have an amazing group of people who are a part of our lives. I have amazing students. Would I love a life where we could rest and have less stress? You bet. Am I incredibly thankful that we have each other in the midst of the real life we lead? YES. Sometimes life is just hard. But it’s all worth it. I feel like I’m just beginning to understand what real love really is.

 

I Didn’t see this coming….

12/10/11

 

I’ve lived through a lot of crazy stuff during my lifetime. It’s been quite the ride along the way. When I was young I had my whole life planned out. It’s been nothing like what I expected and it’s never dull or boring. I think most people can think of their “worst case scenario” for things that might happen. For me, most of the time, what actually materializes is different that what I expected. When I get in the middle of it I find out that the reality isn’t normally as bad as the fear. But I have to admit, in all my worst case scenario, cancer wasn’t even a blip on that radar. I was diagnosed right after Thanksgiving. I got the phone call from the ob / gyn… “The good news is you have something I can totally fix… the bad news is that it’s cancer” right in the middle of teaching. My next student showed up right after that phone call. That next lesson was a tough lesson to get through. Thankfully, they caught it early and the prognosis is good. I’ve been down the cancer road with enough of my friends to know that it can be a roller coaster ride. As far as that goes I’ll have to wait and see.

 

One thing I can almost guarantee is that the whole experience will be an opportunity for a variety of amazing encounters with people… some of whom I have probably never met before. Hopefully I’ll be able to say in the moment and not get caught up with the what ifs. You’re all welcome to come along for the ride if you would like.