Feeling Good!


Spending an afternoon at Marymount during my internship!

My rocks!

My rocks!
Wouldn't be where I am without my parents!


Walking for my Masters. An interesting book end as this all started when I graduated from undergrad!

Awesome Nurses!

Awesome Nurses!
After my port removal and saying goodbye to my chemo nurses before moving away from Michigan. Wouldn't be doing that without them!

Last Chemo

Last Chemo

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Something to remember and return to. A good day!

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Monday, August 8, 2016

365 Things to Smile About Day 365. Never Stop Fighting!

And here it is, 365 things that made me smile through a year of ups and downs!  I started this last August while I was going through a very painful and difficult time.  I was still trying to figure out my new normal and so many other things about myself.  So many things had changed in my life.  Perfect health was no longer a given.  Menopause was (and is) still going strong.  My chemo brain was still hitting hard and I was becoming very adept at pushing a lot of pain and fear and sadness deep, deep down inside me.

On top of it all, I was discovering that real, serious relationships and commitments required me to look outside of myself.  I have always only answered to myself.  Taken care of only myself.  And then three years ago I got this disease that I helplessly watched kill my brother.  This disease that literally required life altering and life and death decisions that I had to make on my own in what felt like a blink of an eye.  Yes, I had my parents with me the whole way, but they couldn't make the decisions for me.  And then I make it through this horrible time in my life and I find a new road taking me into a field that I love.  Work that pulls me out of bed in the morning.  And I get into a graduate program.  A very intense program.  And I end up having to make the decision to break out of the normal program and stretch mine from one year to two years because of this horrible disease and the fact I was still in recovery.  And that meant staying an extra year in the town where I felt like I was in one big, walking PTSD moment.  Again, another big decision I had to make on my own.  Always, every decision I had to make on my own.  And, last summer, because I make all my decisions without consulting anyone, I had my heart break.  And it was just too much.  And I couldn't smile.  I just couldn't anymore.

And then I remembered finding something to smile about, even when there seems to be nothing to smile about that day, can help more than you might think.  And I thank my friend Pat Keats for that advice every day.  I look back at all the entries I have made over the past year, through many difficult times and happy ones too and can see a progression in myself.  Even today, this last day that seemed so perfectly planned to happen on the day I was going to take my certification test for being a Low Vision Therapist!  What a great way to end this year by passing a second certification test!  Except I didn't pass it!  Lol!  It's taken me all day to see the ridiculousness of what happened but I am sitting here laughing at myself!  I get another chance to take the exam, and I am going to study even harder this time.  And I'll try again.  I guess its true that we can't always get it right on the first time around:).  Or even the second sometimes.  Wether it is in school or in relationships or life.  Sometimes you just have to keep trying and get up each time you fall.  Because if it is worth it, the bumps along the way will just make you stronger.  Sure, it hurts like crazy and makes you a little hesitant to keep going.  But when you love something or someone, you fight for them.

So no, I didn't pass the Low Vision test this time around.  But I did have two great things happen centered around my career today.  And as my dad said, two out of three ain't bad!  I got a glowing evaluation for my summer internship from quite possibly the best supervisor in the field!  And I also passed my clinical competencies for my O & M certification!  Something to be very proud of, and I am!  Two years ago I started this program and now I am standing ready to take that first step out into my new life.  And yeah, I am so scared!  I get my new health insurance in two months and that means meeting a new oncologist and getting new scans and exams and blood tests and living through that fear all over again.  Starting over someplace so new and so far away!  I never saw myself living in Florida until I was offered this job with this company!  But I am also so very excited too!  Turns out, I am good at what I do!  I love what I do!  And now I get to go out there and make a difference!

So this year is ending and at the same time beginning.  I have found 365 things that have made me smile. :)  It has brought me to my new life which is pretty amazing!  It has taught me to accept what I can't control.  It has taught me to think outside myself.  It's shown me heart break and heart ache but it has also shown me love and encouragement and the ability to keep moving forward and fighting each day for what I want.  Don't ever stop fighting for what you want.  Even when things seem like they will never go your way again, keep getting up in the morning,  Find something to put a smile on your face even for a minute.  And if the smile leaves your face it will still be inside of you and that will keep you moving.  Then when you look back, you see how far you have come and where you are standing now.  It's pretty amazing!

Thank you God for every blessing You have given me!  Thank you for the trials that have strengthened me and prepared me for Your plan for me.  Please help me to keep smiling, keep moving forward, keep fighting and helping others!  And thank you to all the people who have read this blog!  Your encouragement has meant so much to me!  And I am going to keep writing!  I'll have to find another cheesy title for another year or so but writing has been good for me.  And maybe, God willing, for other people out there.  If I have been able to touch your life or help even a little...I am happy!  Love to you all!

Pictures from the past year.  Just some of the things that made me smile over these 365 days!  Descriptions under each picture.

Standing in front of the Tidal Basin and the Jefferson Memorial last summer.

Chilling in Fairfax last summer!

Fighting a hot flash with my head literally in a freezer!

At the Lincoln Memorial starting a tradition with Carolyn and Ginny last summer :)

Eating the PB & J I made under the blindfold last fall!

Seeing a dear, close friend for the first time in easily 15 years last fall!

With my brother Joe and my sister Anne out listening to some live music last October!

Visiting with my best friend Marie last November at a Vineyard!

Hugging the stuffed Minion I got for my birthday last November!

With my niece Molly after her awesome performance in The Lion King!

At the Celebrate Life Dinner with dad put on by my Cancer Center last December!!

At a Christmas High Tea at the Herb Garden with mom!

Mom, dad and I checking out the Christmas lights in the village in December!

My brother Joe and I stylin it before Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve!  It looks even better in black and white but I couldn't find that one on my computer!

Styled hair and my new leather jacket last January!

Styling my new hat from my brother Chris and my new jacket in the snow on the farm over Christmas break!

First day of classes of my last semester on campus in my grad program!!

 Getting my 6 month CT scan last January.  All clear!

After Ash Wednesday mass!

Just getting back to Fairfax after a weekend trip to Richmond to find a place to live during my summer internship last March!

Port removal day!  In the little OR room they use, draped and ready to go!  Not the most flattering picture but a moment I am going to always remember...despite the double dose of relaxing, happy juice pumped into me!

Watching my niece Molly in another wonderful performance onstage!

Mom and dad's 50th anniversary last April with almost the whole family able to make it!

One of the best supervisors ever!  Love you JoAnna!

Graduation day!  Hanging out beforehand!

With mom and dad after walking in the ceremony!  No one helping me across the stage and no wheel chair this time!!

My graduation dat gift from my parents!  A cancer ribbon necklace with the stone in the center my cancer color!  Beautiful!

With my brother Joe on my graduation day!  I wouldn't have been able to have made my move to Richmond without him!!

Enjoying a drink after graduation with family and friends!

Joe and I heading out of Michigan to Virginia!!  Love this brother!

It's a little out of order but my fellow O & M's and one of the best teachers ever!!!

Hiking at three lakes in Richmond in May!

Walking around Maymount with friends in Richmond in June!

Frozen yogurt with Ginny!!!

One of my long time dreams (since high school) is to have a motorcycle license and I took a small first step towards that by getting my motorcycle helmet this summer!

Meeting the Governor of Virginia at DBVI.

House hunting with my brother Andy in Orlando!

Checking out some of the sights of my future home in Orlando, at the Orlando Eye!

Seeing my best friend Marie again this summer!!!

Yes that is me standing next to a man with a tough looking expression in a big floppy, southern hat with a white cane wrapped with stripes of hot pink tape!  And an off duty Guide Dog asking us to please play tug of war!  Just another day at VRCBVI!

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