About Me

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I started this blog as I entered my 40th year, and now firmly in my 40s, I continue to learn so much about life. I'm learning that life rarely goes according to plan and that there's something new to learn every single day, be it a subtle nudge or a smack in the face.... This is my blog about muddling through my 40s-working hard, writing a book, being an ammateur photographer, trying to exercise and eat well, endeavouring to be the world's best aunt, as well as having fun and laughing out loud every single day.

Friday, June 28, 2013

#14 Gratitude

One of my friends, Carla, has been writing a daily Facebook post on what she is grateful for.  Just recently, she wrote about how grateful she was to feel well and healthy, stating that it is usually when she is unwell, that she remembers to be grateful for feeling good.

Since recovering from cancer, or more importantly, chemotherapy, it has been relatively easy to embrace feeling good.  Even throughout treatment, perspective of what it meant to feel good changed.  When you can go days without being able to lift your head off the pillow, being able to move your weary body from the bed to the arm chair for 30 minutes can seem like heaven on Earth.

Imagine what it must be like to fully recover from the damaging effects of chemotherapy!  You feel completely invincible and so, so grateful for every second and ounce of energy you have.

This week I had a reminder of what feeling unwell was like.  I have been unlucky enough to catch this monster cold/flu that is going around and actually had the whole week off work to recover!  Taking time off work does not sit well with me.  I don't think I even took a week off at a time through chemotherapy, much less for a common cold, but this week I needed to.

Up until today I forgot what it was like not to have aching bones and joints or a throbbing head.  I couldn't sleep and I couldn't taste anything, not that I had much of an appetite anyway.  But today, my head felt clearer, and my headache went away with some aspirin and I had a reprieve.  What a relief.  Oh the joy of feeling (relatively) well again.

I am filled with gratitude.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

#13 Scrivener and the Scaredy Cat

This week when I picked up my nephews from school, I became the victim of that familiar childhood taunt "Made you look, you big fat chook, hanging on the butcher's hook".  They thought it was hysterical.

It reminded me of another childhood song we had:

"Scaredy cat from Ballarat
Went to school and got the strap...."

Which brings me to the topic of today's post.  I am indeed, despite my Leoness-ness, a scaredy cat.  What am I scared of?  I'm not sure it's any one thing, but the likely candidates are: hard work; being overwhelmed; not knowing where to start; and perhaps even that old gem, failure.

When I'm scared, I procrastinate and that's exactly what I have been doing since finishing my last writing class.  Procrastinating. 

Until today.

Armed with my cup of tea, the print-outs of all 24 assignments I've written in the Literary Kitchen and not to mention Scrivener, I have started organising my book - ready to write draft 2.

Scrivener is a software program I have downloaded for a free trial.  It's a virtual binder/cork board/note book that allows you to take the first draft of your manuscript and begin to format and organise it into something more.  For the next step in the process.

I have to say I'm finding it incredibly user friendly.  It has allowed me to take chunks out of existing chapters and move them around freely within my 'binder' - much more user friendly than a Word document.  I have even been able to separate my book into sections and chapters.  Scrivener even allows me to see how often I use particular words!

This is particularly useful to me as my writing friends often pointed out my overuse of the word "was".  It's incredible how annoying that word becomes once you are made aware of its presence.

So, I am ready.  Ready for Draft 2.  Encouraged as ever by everyone I love, and especially by my new writing family. 

Here we go!

Friday, June 14, 2013

#12 Salsa, Ricky and Sue Mc

Is time really passing by faster than it used to?  It sure feels like it.  How is it we are already in June of 2013?!

In January this year, I attended my first salsa lesson and had the time of my life (insert Dirty Dancing soundtrack here).  Ninety minutes of laughing, smiling and dancing like nobody was watching had me in heaven.  I vowed then and there to attend every Thursday night.  Salsa = therapy.

Last night, Thursday June 13th, I attended my second salsa lesson for the year.  FOR. THE. YEAR.

The blur that the first six months of this year have passed in has left me feeling as though I am wasting my life.  At Fiona's 5 year celebration last weekend I caught up with another fabulous friend and fellow cancer survivor, Sue Mc.  We spoke of this urgency we have to fit as much into life as we can.  Actually that's incorrect.  We have an urgency to fit more into life than we possibly can and we constantly feel as if we come up short.  It's exhausting.  Vicki Paulus, I'd love to know if you feel the same way.

Sue mentioned she'd begun salsa lessons as a part of her post 50th birthday life philosophy to try new things.  That was all I needed.  I committed to salsa-ing the night away with her.

Together we turned up to our hour long lesson that turned out to be half merengue and half salsa.  Ricky Martin played (not in person) all of my favourite songs that I know word for word in Spanish.  Seven men and seven women of varying skill level bonded over a mutual love for stepping out of our comfort zones, meeting new people, and doing something for ourselves - something that makes us feel good.  It was the best.

And so here I am again, vowing in public, I intend on attending more salsa lessons.  Salsa = therapy.  The kind of therapy I need!

What's yours??

Monday, June 3, 2013

#11 Fiona, at Five Years

I keep saying this is not a blog about breast cancer, but I cannot post this week if it's not about one of the most amazing women in my life - my cousin Fiona.

Fiona came into our family when I was still a teenager.  She married my cousin Tony and together they had two beautiful kids who are an important part of my life as well.  We didn't really have the opportunity to develop a friendship early on, mainly due to us living in different cities.  It wasn't until I was around 30 and living back in our home town that I picked up some casual work at their restaurant that I started to get to know Fi a little better.  Sadly, before long, I was on the move again and regular contact was lost once again.

One day five years ago, Tony called me that Fiona had been diagnosed with breast cancer.  I didn't know what to say or do, so I sent flowers and I said nothing.  I didn't reach out aside from maybe a couple of phone calls to Tony.  Being able to avoid seeing what the family were going through made it easy for me to pretend everything must be okay. 

Two years later when I was diagnosed with my own breast cancer, Fiona was the first person I sought out on a trip home.  She was sitting behind a desk at work when I told her my news.  Tears welled in her eyes as she walked around the desk and embraced me, telling me her tears were because she knew what I was about to face.  I apologised for the first time in a thousand for not having been there for her - for not getting it.  Fiona is gracious and never makes me feel as though I need to apologise.  I know that I do though.

Fiona was my rock, my backbone, all throughout my treatment.  She sent flowers at every cycle of chemotherapy, but only visited the day after because she knew I wouldn't feel like visitors.  Fiona bought me ginger biscuits and lip balm.  She always knew what I would need and when.

More importantly, Fi has been there when I have been scared, even now when something reminds me that this disease is a killer, that it can come back.  She understands me like no-one else, and now I am happy to say that I also understand her.  We have formed a bond that will never ever break and I now get the opportunity to support her as she has done for me.

I want to congratulate Fi on reaching her Five Year magic milestone this week!!  I can't wait to celebrate with you on the weekend.  You are an amazing inspiration to me.

I am so blessed for having you in my life.  I love you so much.  Thank you for all that you are.

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