A Convenience Friend. Always there when I need you friend.

For a long time, I wondered if there was something wrong with me. I’ve always valued relationships with people and I feel like I’m a great friend. I’m always putting other people’s needs above my own, I’m a giver, I’m a listener, and I’m understanding. However, despite all of those qualities, a lot of my relationships have failed. I thought maybe it was me, maybe I’m broken. It never occurred to me that other people could be more broken than me.

I’m the type of person who doesn’t like to sleep on anger and if I feel there is an issue with someone, I like to confront it and face it head on. I like to discuss things rationally and try to look at a situation from all angles. Losing people and friendships really takes a toll on me because I do care so much.

However, I’ve learned that the kinder and purer you are, most likely, the more the more naive you are also. There’s a quote I found that goes something like this “sometimes we expect more from people because we’d be willing to do much more for them”. I think that because the world is so ugly nowadays, people are very hesitant to believe that there could be anyone who is genuine anymore. However, even though I know that the world has become such a dark place, I’m always way too willing to give others the benefit of the doubt. I give people way too many chances because I don’t want to believe that they aren’t genuine. I think that this confliction is what makes me the perfect candidate for a convenience friend.

When people notice that no matter how awful they treat you, you will still be there- that’s when they realize that they can use you. I’m learning how to let go of toxic people and not feel guilty about it. I guess I find it hard to forget all of the positive things about those people. However, I know that I need to do what’s best for me because I’ve been putting everyone else’s needs ahead of my own for too long.

The ugly pieces of a beautiful whole.

So… it’s been a while since I’ve actually written anything. This semester has been hectic and my emotions have been all over the place. There’s a lot going on in my life right now and it’s not all bad either- just stressful right now!

Anyways, what prompted me to write this is a quote that I read from a philosopher named Plotinus. I was forced to read this for my Art Humanities class and quite frankly, I don’t really agree with most of his stuff. However, a few quotes stood out to me and one of them is this one, “But if the whole is beautiful the parts must be beautiful too; a beautiful whole can certainly not be composed of ugly parts; all the parts must have beauty.” I don’t think that’s true though. I think sometimes we need the ugly parts to find the beauty in it all.

Chapters in a book, our lives, our love stories, they’re all composed of a mixture of  of the good, the bad, and the ugly, and everything in between. My life hasn’t been all happy, but it hasn’t been all sad either. When I sit back and think about my love for my late husband, memories don’t always fall in order. There are things that at the time, I thought I’d never forget, but I have; the sound of his voice, or his least favorite food. There are things that I wish I didn’t have to remember, but I do; the way it sounded when he took his last breath, the way his body bruised and felt so cold after a few days in the funeral home.

Sometimes, the strangest things will evoke any array of memories and emotions and it’s not always at a convenient time to think about them. I could be at home listening to a song, at work overhearing someone’s conversation, people watching at the airport, anywhere, anytime.

Sometimes, I think back on mine and David’s relationship and I wonder if maybe people are right and I have put him on a pedestal.  I wonder if there were things that would have torn us a part eventually, I sometimes even question my love for him. I think of these things because I don’t want to feel this pain. I want to imagine that none of that happened and that my happiness was imagined. Yes, that’s easier than facing it all. The truth is, I know we were meant to be together and we’d still be together now if cancer hadn’t stolen him from the world. From me. I haven’t put him on a pedestal, but David showed me what true love is. He showed me what I deserve. I loved him with all my heart and I still love him with whatever is left of my heart.

I’ve lost a lot in my short life and he was the greatest loss of all. I’ve had sadness, but this sadness lasts forever. His love and the happiness he brought to my life is also forever. Our story is forever. From the moment I first heard his voice, to the moment that I felt his heart stop, and even now, my life was forever changed .

Our love was that fairytale, finish each other’s sentences, corny, romantic, sultry, once in a lifetime type love. In between, we’ve endured the ugly distance, the doubt from loved ones, the cancer, the pain, the laughter, the love, the happiness, the euphoria, and everything else. Not all of it was beautiful. Not the tears, not the drugs or drips, the hospitals, or the fear. Yet, our love was beautiful. All the bad, brought us closer together and made us even stronger. Being composed of all the ugliness, made it beautiful – just like my life.

My life would not be the same had I never met David, or if we had never loved each other. My life is filled with ugliness, but I think sometimes that ugliness is needed to help remind us of all the beautiful parts too. We don’t need everything to be rainbows and butterflies to know that our lives are beautiful. What we lost, WHO we lost does not and will not ever minimize the love and beauty that was shared. We just need to realize that beauty and not be afraid to share it with others. Not everyone will understand it, not everyone will care, but that just helps us weed out the people we don’t need in our lives. I’ve met some amazing people, not all of them are still a part of my life. It’s always been hard for me to let go. But, sometimes we have to. We have to let go of complete sadness, toxic people, self-doubt, pity, fear, and anything holding us back from the beauty of lifeIMG_0001; the beauty of happy memories, pictures, and everlasting love.

Finding your spark again.

Sometimes we’re on top of things, life is going great, and we’re happy. We should cherish those moments, but we should also remember that those moments don’t last forever. So, what do we do when nothing is going right, we’re overwhelmed, we’ve lost sight of our goals?

The first step is: Don’t to beat yourself up over it. We’re human, we’re allowed to make mistakes and we’re allowed to fail. It’s how we act after we have failed that determines who we are and what we stand for. Sometimes we lose sight of what’s important to us. We veer off of our diet for a week or two, we oversleep, or we notice that we’re mismanaging our time. The last thing we need to do when we’re already down is to make ourselves feel worse by reminding ourselves how we’ve messed up. Don’t dwell on your past or your mistakes. 

Secondly: We need to remind ourselves of better times! Once we’re reminded of times where we followed our diet to a ‘T’, we managed our time more wisely, we didn’t drink as much, we reached deadlines more often, or we weren’t consumed with social media. (Whatever it is that you wish you were doing better at). We are able to see that we are capable. 

Next: We have to set a plan. Decide what you want to change (for example, we want todevote more time to studying). Look at your schedule and see what time you’d like to devote each day. Commit to doing it!

Don’t wait until tomorrow! If we’re really serious, we’ll start now. The longer we wait tostart, the more time we give ourselves for the flame to ebb out. Then, you’re back to square one.Once you’ve started, it may take a conscious effort to remain excited. However, just the sheer happiness from overcoming the hurdle of re-inspiring yourself should get you through the first week. Before you know it, a daily habit will be formed.

It’s okay to take time for yourself and re-evaluate what you want in life and what makes you happy. It’s not always easy getting to where we want to be, but we are our biggest motivators!

Have Patience. We’re not superheroes.

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As much as we would like to be invincible and able to accomplish every pressing task at lightening speed, lets face it- we  aren’t able to.

Today is September 29th, 2016. Just 7 years ago today, a 21 year old me got on plane and rode all the way to the UK to be with my 23 year old cancer-stricken husband. I remember it like it was yesterday. My husband and I (he was my fiance’ at that point in time) were forced to be separated during his re-diagnosis and stem cell transplant. I had to apply for an expensive fiance’ visa, which was a very long and nerve-wracking experience. Every day while I wondered if my fiance’ would survive the next day, I was also wondering whether we would get approved or not, whether we would be able to finally be together for good. I had to submit all manner of personal documents and photographs – enough to over fill a 2 inch binder. (Many of which I would never get back, so I couldn’t even keep this folder as a memory).

There are so many holidays and special dates that hit a nerve with me. This day is one of them because while this should have been one of the happiest days of my life… it has turned out to be a very sad occasion. It’s now nothing but a memory of a dream, of a tiny sliver of joy I experienced. It’s almost like being awarded a million dollars and then losing it all the next day by dropping it into a shredder on accident. (Okay that’s a horrible analogy lol but that’s because nothing really compares to how this loss feels to me). Of course I’m happy that I was lucky enough to ever be married to my husband, my best friend. However, I’m eternally anguished because of how I lost him and the fact that I had to lose him at all.

This whole week, even while I was in beautiful Destin, Florida. While, I was on the powdery, white sand and overlooking the clear  blue ocean, I was filled with anxiety. I woke up with a terrible panic attack on the 25th and was reminded what time of year it is. Today, someone said something to me that has stuck with me all day. Now, this lady, (a new manager at my new place of employment) probably had no idea that it would affect me so much. She made a comment saying that it was good to see that I had “moved on”. I don’t want to discuss the context of the conversation, but the fact that she assumed that anyone could ever just “move on” and the fact that she thought that everything in me has healed disturbed me.

Sometimes, I like to think that I am a super hero. I like to pretend that I don’t ever hurt and I often use my smile as protection. I place such a huge burden on myself to be this image of the person I want to be. When I don’t reach those expectations immediately, I feel like I have not only failed myself, but other people, possibly my late husband. Ever since my husband passed away, I felt that I had to be strong for everyone else. This was in part because people would act different around me and I lost “friends” who judged me for certain decisions I had made during my grief. Truth is, I’m human too.

Right now, I’m learning patience. I’m learning to allow myself time. Sometimes I exhaust myself trying to do everything for everyone else and neglect myself. Then, I rush to do the things I need to do, leaving no room for me to relax or even consciously think. I’m a people pleaser. I love to see other people happy and knowing that I had even just the tiniest part in their happiness makes me feel like I’m doing something worthwhile.

I think we all just need to stop and let ourselves be human. Even if it’s just for 30 minutes a day. This is why exercise and even meditation is so important to me. I’m learning that even though my best friend died over 6 years ago, I never really allowed myself to deal with it because I was so afraid of not being strong enough to bear everyone else’s burdens. So bear with me as I’m in the beginning process of writing my creative fiction book based on our love story. It has been helping me open up doors that I’ve closed and allowed me to open up to myself. There are times when I have to take a break or even start over because some of it is still very raw and painful. However, it’s helping me to remember, both the joyful and the painful memories so that maybe they can all reside together in… dare I say… peace.

Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

September marks the beginning of Childhood Cancer Awareness month.(Although it’s every month for me!)September-Childhood-Cancer-Awareness This cause is something very near and dear to my heart. My late husband was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma before he could even get to really experience his teenage years.

There aren’t currently any specific treatment regimens that are catered to children specifically. Despite nearly 46 children each school day being diagnosed with cancer, childhood cancer still only accounts for less than 1% of new cases of  cancer diagnosed yearly in the US. So, it’s very prevalent, but I guess not prevalent enough to get the funding it needs. There also hasn’t been much research conducted in the area of childhood cancer.Most of these children either go into remission and if their “lucky”, they make it to the 5 year mark (like my husband did). However, they usually relapse with a second form of cancer which was caused by the all of the toxic treatments from the first cancer. Then, there are other children who die almost immediately or are diagnosed with terminal cancer and given a few months or weeks to live.

Lots of times when doing research on childhood cancer, you’ll notice that there is so much talk about this “five year survival rate”. However, it’s just that- a 5 year survival rate – children like my husband went into remission for 5 years. I went to the doctors with him for his final appointment. He was a healthy, happy, man with so much ahead of him. Not even two months after that, everything went down hill. He relapsed with Acute NK cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia. (They  originally thought it was T-Cell). The only form of treatment was a bone marrow transplant where basically your whole immune system is destroyed making you susceptible to death by contracting even a common cold. Many people do not even survive the BMT because it’s very taxing on your body and your immune system is being suppressed so that as much cancer as possible can be destroyed.

David survived the bone marrow transplant and we were able to get married. Things were looking up and he was happy, gaining weight and growing his hair back. THEN, 6 months later, we were back at the hospital on the TCT ward ( a specialized ward for young cancer patients) with what we thought was a regular chest infection. Little did we know that he was in septic shock and they needed to yank his Hickman Line out immediately. Yes, they had to yank it out with no pain meds or anything. After that ordeal, he was laying in bed watching Egg Heads with his mum and I. We were laughing and just waiting for him to get his medications. He was excited to finally take a real shower since his Hickman line was finally out. We had no idea that in a few minutes our whole life would change drastically. Suddenly, a whole team of doctors and nurses came in to tell us that unfortunately his cancer had reemerged and there wasn’t anything that could be done. The first words that I remember David saying were “but I’ve only been married for 6 months, I’m not ready”. His oncologist was called at home to inform him of the findings in David’s blood and he truly didn’t want to believe it himself, he actually went to the lab to look for himself before breaking the news to us.

Now you tell me whether that’s fair or not. You tell me whether you would ever want anyone you love to have to experience that. Most likely not. Now, I can go on and on about case after case of children who had their whole life ripped from them. About parent’s who have lost their children way too early. No one wants to believe that it can happen to them, but it can and it will happen again to someone else. That someone could be you or someone you love and care about.

This is why I’m spending this month trying to raise awareness and donating to different charities. I never want anyone to go through what I have. Children are supposed to be our future leaders and we’re supposed to be looking after them. Funding for research is SO important. Imagine if every body just donated $5, how much we could accomplish. it’s also important to know who you’re donating to and being aware of where their donations are going. This is why I’ve written a little list of some of my favorite charities below:

https://www.thetruth365.org/

https://www.teencanceramerica.org/

Arms Wide Open: https://awoccf.org/

http://smashingwalnuts.org/

https://www.stillbrave.org

**Note** Teen Cancer America is solely to help institute cancer wards specific for young adults and children. This is also very important in the morale of the patient. I can attest to how much it helped my husband while he was battling cancer. Before he was placed on that ward, he was on a ward with older adults who were usually dying or very sick. On the Teen ward, he had access to all sorts of games, his own room, his own shower/bath, a fully stocked fridge and cabinets with essential foods, televisions and music. There was also an activity coordinator who helped organize events and crafts etc. Most importantly, he was surrounded by people his age who could relate to him and what he was going through. This is also a great cause.

Here is a list of some of my sources:

http://www.cancer.gov/research/areas/childhood

http://www.cancer.org/?utm_source=bing&utm_medium=cp

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Motivation.

What is your motivation?

A lot of people will say that it’s their kids, their husband, or their family etc.

Those are all great motivators, but we have to stop and think to ourselves that having someone else be our motivation could potentially be detrimental to us.

What if those people around us stop cheering us on, get too busy, pass on? Anything could happen. Not saying that it will, but imagine if you’re greatest source of motivation just up and left you? Wouldn’t it be difficult to make yourself motivated?

With that being said, my greatest motivator is ME. I’ve found some cool tips and tricks to help me stay on track with my goals.

1.) Make a goal board. Chances are that if we see our goals every day, we will be more motivated to put in the work to achieve them.

2.) Set a practical deadline. Don’t try to set a goal to write your 75,000 page novel by next week. It probably isn’t going to happen. Instead, set a goal of maybe writing at least 1,000 words per day. That would mean we’d be finish writing our novel in under 3 months. Of course there will be lots of revisions,but  a least the novel will be written.

3.) Don’t be so hard on yourself. We are human and we make mistakes, me mess up, we fail. Success isn’t measured by the fact that we don’t fail, but by never giving up! The trick is to realize that you missed a day and do better tomorrow. We can’t allow one little defeat to define us!

4.) Be Happy. Now, this one sounds kind of silly, but it’s not. we need to be positive and happy because it will keep us motivated. I know that when I get down, I tend to want to “give up”. Instead, when something bad happens to me, I decide to look at all the good things that have happened to me. Something I learned in modeling/acting school one time was to get an empty tissue box, decorate it and fill it with compliments that people give you so that whenever someone says something negative to you or you feel down, you can pull out a compliment to make yourself feel better 🙂

Remember, WE are in control of our own happiness, success, and life. The less we find ourselves making excuses, the more we can find ourselves reaching our goals. Baby steps are steps, are they not? A tiny amount of progress each day is better than not making any progress at all.

 

.:* Measuring Our Own Success*:.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about some of the things that have held me back when trying to be successful. It’s not easy to admit it, but I’ve noticed that my bitterness, jealousy, and low self-esteem have propelled me into a downward spiral. I do have pretty bad anxiety, but I don’t think that’s the sole reason for my loss of motivation.

I’m 28 and I’ll be turning 29 near the end of this upcoming December. Some of my minor goals are to get my bachelors and finish my book by time I’m thirty so that I can reward myself with a trip to Hawaii. Would I like a family one day? yes, but that’s not my main goal in life. Sometimes things aren’t meant to be and if it’s not in the cards for me, I will spend every moment of this life working on me and helping others deal with their issues. These goals are absolutely attainable, but not if I continue to doubt myself and set myself up for failure.

If you or anyone else has anxiety, you’ll know that it’s like having your foot on the gas pedal and another on the brakes- at the same time. You’re so full of ideas and creativity, but it’s so much that you feel like you just don’t have the energy to start. It’s a vicious cycle and it all keeps playing over and over again and you set these high standards for yourself which you’ll probably never meet up to. When you don’t exceed your expectations, you stall. It’s extremely difficult for me, BUT what is worse is what I’ve done to myself.

In the past, I’ve allowed myself to be used and surrounded by takers and negativity. I did that because of my own naiveté. I never thought I was good enough or that I deserved more than what I had. It took me a while to realize the damage that I was doing to myself by continually pacifying those poisonous relationships instead of cutting ties. One way would hurt steady and constant, the latter resolution would hurt dramatically at first, but then eventually, the pain would dull. It’s like ripping off a band-aid.

I see these “friends” on Facebook with their happy families and perfect lives filled with laughter, travel and love. I think to myself, ” That’s SO unfair, that should be me… it was me.” Yet, the more I proclaim that this dark cloud is following me, the more rain seems to pour on only me. I started to become bitter and jealous. I didn’t want to see people so happy, when my heart was filled with so much sadness.

Why did I have to lose my husband to cancer?

I could continue to tell myself, nearly 6 years after his passing, that life is so unfair and my life sucks. Yes, years have passed and yes people moved on and everyone has their views on what I should be doing or where I should be in life:

“You’re getting a little old to have kids and you’ll never know what it’s like until you have kids of your own. It was the BEST thing that has ever happened to me”

“David would have wanted you to move on and be happy”

“Aww poor you, I couldn’t imagine losing my husband”

“You shouldn’t hold him on such a pedestal because no one will ever be like him”

“I’m sorry to hear that your ‘Ex’ died”

“Why did you keep his last name?”

“That’s nice you still visit his family. How kind of you”

“Why do you still need to visit his family if he’s not alive anymore? The UK is just so far away!”

Yup… people REALLY say these things…

People don’t get it though. It’s not that I’m living in the past or I’m not “over him”. He was my BEST FRIEND. The person who knew me better than anyone in the world. The only person I truly felt safe around. He was my husband and we shared so much together. People don’t forget their dogs or the fun times they’ve had with them. Why should I forget someone who I still cherish deeply?

Am I IN love with my dead husband? No, of course not! That’s silly. Do I still LOVE him? Yes! absolutely. I will never forget about him or how he changed my life and molded it. I will never forget the sacrifices he made for me. I will never stop remembering him and talking about things we did or sharing funny stories.

I’ve realized that if people have a problem with how I cope or how I live my life, they can go. I came in this world alone and have felt alone a lot and I will die alone. Now, I could continue to shut people out because I’ve been hurt in the past OR I could use the knowledge and experience I have to help other people.

I started exercising and trying to dial in on my nutrition- even when I don’t feel like it. It has helped me battle my anxiety and my mind. Instead of being bitter or angry, I pity people’s ignorance and their heartlessness. It motivates me to be a better advocate for people like me and share my experiences and thoughts. I’m far from the path that I’d like to be on, but I haven’t given up and instead of focusing on how long it is taking me to get there – I need to be focusing on the fact that I am getting there.

We could base or success on other people’s success, but that won’t get us anywhere. None of us are the same, have had the same opportunities, have the same lives. The only person we should base our success on, is ourselves. I want to strive to be a better person than I was yesterday, or last year, 6 years ago.

Although it may not look like it to some people – I’m way better. When I first discovered that my husband was terminal, I wanted to end my life with him. Of course, being the amazing person that he was – he made me promise that I would never ever do that. It was hard to eat, think, do anything. My life felt so surreal. Of course I’ve made some terrible decisions since then, but considering what I’ve been through, I think I’ve done okay.

I am my own measure of success and so are you 🙂