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More Melanoma Musings, with some blathering on the pandemic.

For a recent writing exercise in my cancer support group, we were asked to delve into how the pandemic impacted our cancer experience. Well, for starters, I was delayed for nearly 6 months seeing a dermatologist about a problematic mole. By the time I was diagnosed, the melanoma had already spread to my lymph nodes complicating the situation significantly. Before cancer, I spent as much time outside as I could. In Ohio, we only get a few months of warm weather, so we tried to make the most of them. Golfing, swimming, walking by the lake, reading by the pool. Always in the sun. Rarely covered up. My favorite vacation spot was the beach, and we plan to retire to Florida. After cancer, I never venture outside without checking the UV index and slathering SPF 50 on my skin. I only golf in the evenings, walk in the mornings, and I haven’t been in my pool at all. Although I still love the beach, I’m always under an umbrella or a big floppy hat. Before cancer necessitated monthly infusio
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A Few Good Friends

I struggled for a long time with worthiness. Feeling lovable  and loved. I followed that feeling right to its origin and then channeled the struggles into a bunch of writing that turned into a book . I thought I was healed. Many parts of me are. The little girl who wanted someone to protect her realized that she had grown into a strong woman who would love, care for, and fiercely protect her and everyone around her. I rumbled with rejection, feeling left out, wanting to be a part of…FOMO. Likely a common theme among youngest children, as I see some of this striving in my own youngest child. Adulthood, introversion, and most recently the pandemic lock-down mostly cured me of this. I rarely feel left out these days; in fact, invitations generally fill me with dread rather than joy as the sense of being with people sends my anxiety into overdrive. Lately, my wheels are spinning in the mud of reciprocity. I am a “pay it forward” kind of person who treats other people the way I want to

Melanoma Musings

I wrote this for a cancer support group, but thought others might relate so sharing here as well. The exercise was to reflect on a quote and how it relates to our own cancer experience. I chose: “I wanted a perfect ending. Now I’ve learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity.” – Gilda Radner I didn’t just want a perfect ending; I wanted a perfect everything. Perfect house and life and job and vacations. Perfect body and hair and skin. Perfect relationships and friendships. Perfect marriage and kids and pets. It took a cancer diagnosis to loosen my white-knuckled grip on a bunch of shit that I couldn’t control no matter how tightly I grasped the steering wheel. If I’m dead, will it matter if my house is clean? Will I care if someone sees the dust under my bed

Connection Conundrum

  I’ve been thinking a lot about connection. As an introvert, connection usually drains me, but I enjoy occasional meaningful interactions. Since I prefer solitude, this creates conflict. Imagine a cat. Cats can be deceptively lovable , allowing petting and rubbing; then, a sudden and invisible over-stimulation  switch flips, and they scratch or bite the fuck out of you. I am the cat in this scenario. I rarely scratch or bite, though. I vanish. If I feel someone either wants too much from me or doesn’t value me, I withdraw or push them away. Sometimes this is temporary. Sometimes it’s permanent. My close friends and family know this behavior. We call it “being in my shell.” My friends will text asking, “You okay? In your shell?” It’s a conundrum. I pull people close and shove them away. In the past year, I worked on building boundaries instead of walls, but I’m not great at it, and I have a hard time working on things when I don’t see greatness in my future. While I admire people w

21 for 2021

1. Go kayaking. 2.       Watch more sunsets. 3.      Practice writing a novel. 4.      Visit Chloe and Joe more. 5.      Speak lovingly to myself and others. 6.      Get rid of the shoes and clothes I never wear. 7.      Plan a trip to Kentucky with the Swans and O’Loughlins. 8.      Do more of what I want and less of what I think I should do. 9.      Paint the kitchen ceiling. Actually all the ceilings need to be painted. 10.   Speaking of the kitchen … cabinets, counters, backsplash and floor. Maybe. 11.   Really, though, work on those books for the kids. This is fun, not a chore. 12.   Spend more hours laughing with Julie, enjoying her beautiful view. 13.   Spend more time near the water … ocean, lake, pond, whatever. 14.   Really explore and utilize my medical marijuana card. 15.   Go for more walks … with people and dogs. 16.   Read as many books as I feel like reading. 17.   Go back to the Keys. Get in the water. 18.   Get a new driver and play more golf. 19.   Find some jeans I

20 for 2020--End of Year Recap

It is the last week of 2020, so I figured it was time to review my 20 for 20 list. In other words: I’ve been avoiding this because I didn’t think I accomplished too many of my goals, and have now run out of time to avoid it. I can blame some of the misses on the global pandemic but must attribute others to laziness and complacency. And still others to a cancer diagnosis midway through the year that turned my life upside down and shifted my focus away from things that no longer mattered to me. Like my weight. And calligraphy. Anyway, here’s what I did and didn’t do. 1. Go to the west coast. Nope. 2. Learn to play the ukulele. Nope. I did try a few times, but I’m musically challenged. Lil learned a few songs though, so that makes me happy. And Alex can play everything. So I still have ukulele music in my life even though I am not the one playing it. 3. Get to a comfortable weight and stay there. Nope. But I threw my scale away, so I’m calling that a win. 4. Take a girls ’  trip

I Thought It Was Just Me, But It Wasn't.

Do you have any strange misconceptions about yourself that when said out loud sound ridiculous and outlandish? I feel like it’s just me, but then again I always feel like it’s just me. You know Brené Brown’s first book, I Thought It Was Just Me ? That should be one of my mantras—I thought it was just me…but it isn’t. You’re probably thinking, “Here she goes with her crazy again,” and full disclosure, I have been a little manic lately, but let me try to explain. My birth experience with Lily was torturous. Thank goodness I ended up with my girl at the end of it because it was awful. A stalled labor, a failed epidural, a spinal headache that lasted for 6 days and culminated with me curled on the basement floor begging to die and required two blood patches to rectify. Throughout this ordeal, my husband said, “You’re doing great, baby.” My inner voice said: “You’re weak. You’ve got a low pain tolerance. You can’t do this.” Since the melanoma experience started in June, I’ve gotten mor