Groundhog’s Day 2013

I admit I’m a bit lazy. Is it lazy, or just my personality? I’m writing a blog, but don’t add posts on any kind of regular basis. Is that because I’ve got so much going on in my life? Or do I spend much of my time reading, shopping, surfing the internet?

Some people add photos to their blogs to personalize that particular post. I have to really concentrate sometimes to get a little more involved in that kind of project. I’m not sure why. But it’s as tho I feel guilty if I immerse myself too far into something. So it’s what I’d sort of refer to as ‘surface living’. Not getting too deep. I’m not sure I’m a big fan of that.

Is there a solution? I can’t say. I can try to allow myself the ‘luxury’ of throwing myself into something with complete abandon. I think at this point in the game, that is to say, dealing with my health issues, I often question what is the right use of my time. I think that’s the sticking point. I want to be doing worthwhile things, yet I also want to be more carefree. So there’s a conflict of interest. To always concentrate on the meaningful does not always lend itself to the carefree.

Heading into the Holidays

Here it is about one week from Thanksgiving. I surprised myself by going back to work this August and actually liking it. I realize that I mean something to the kids with whom I work, and that, in turn, means something to me. It’s a job that I’ve become good at. I have a set of skills that helps me help the students and also be an asset to the teachers and other employees. I certainly wish that I made more money. Yet I lack for nothing, and am better off than many, many people.  Still, I always wanted to make lots of money.

I’m not overly pumped up about Thanksgiving and Christmas. I have bought several Christmas gifts already, and am even anxious to get the rest of it done soon. I don’t want to get caught up in all the mad shopping rush. It’s almost an intrusion, I hate to say. I like having my day, my world, go smoothly and without much effort.  I am rather selfish these days, and I don’t want to apologize for it!  I don’t want to get in a tizzy over insignificant things.  I don’t want to exert much energy into creating that wonderful holiday atmosphere.  I want it to just happen.  Or allow someone else to make it happen.  I can’t spend my time always making sure everyone else is having a good time.  I need to tap in to what it is that will make me happy, and then make that happen for myself.  You know, I like Easy Street.  I guess I allowed others to guilt me in to feeling like I always had to be roughing it, working hard and diligently at things I didn’t like because it was expected of me.  There’s nothing wrong with finding the easy way to do some of the things you don’t like to do, and doing them that way.  Things change, life situations change, and I just change along with them.

Oh, some things are not what they appear to be.  Tom’s brother Jerry is supposedly getting a divorce from his wife Trudy of 39 years.  It is a very big mess, and Tom and I are learning some things that surprise us.  And yet, I must say, I shouldn’t be surprised.  They have lived high off the hog and at a neck-breaking speed for so very many years.  In thinking about that, I think I should only be surprised that it’s taken this long for their lifestyle to catch up to them.  It’s not pretty.  Still, it is sad.  I don’t want to see them go through this upheaval.  I don’t like when long-time married couples split up.  First it was my brother Nick and his wife Diane a few years ago after 14 years of marriage.  Then Mickey and Ronnie had some trouble.  Not sure how that was ever resolved, but their relationship has definitely changed.  Now Jer and Trudy.

That leads me to Tom and I.  We’ve been through so much in 23+ years.  Certainly the stage iv cancer thing is the worst of the worst.  Why we make it through our difficulties, I’m not sure.  I am glad we do.  I derive so much security and comfort from my marriage to Tom.  We have some differences, but have many more similarities and the same mindset.  I also think there’s some intelligence about it.  From time to time, I know I’ve re-assessed my life, looked at it, and decided what was working and what wasn’t.  Then I would make changes, keeping the good stuff and getting rid of the bad.  Changing, re-arranging.   Re-prioritizing.

I also had to listen to my own intuition.  There were times in my marriage where I felt Tom and I had to get back to the basics of being just us together, as a united couple.  When I felt that was getting shaky, even if I had to stand my ground, I would insist there be some adjustments.  I remember once it took a couple of years for me to keep insisting that Tom make me a more important person in his life.  We have always been faithful to each other, but sometimes you can take one another for granted.  I didn’t want a mediocre marriage.  Plus, I knew I was right.  I was going with my gut.  It seems that Tom has realized over the years that I actually know what I’m talking about and I often know what I’m doing when it comes to relationships.  Guess that all comes from being around awhile.  Also, you have to take care of issues, troubles, problems, when then crop up.  You can’t sweep them under the rug.  It does involve moving out of your comfort zone sometimes.  You also cannot do things for appearances, so that it all ‘looks’ good but in truth is falling apart.  It’s really a shame that so many people try to keep up a false front.  It is painful and hurtful to deal with some things, but maybe necessary in the long run.

I am feeling physically pretty good.  It’s funny, but for some reason I like shopping for clothes, jewelry, doing my hair, even more these days.  I can kind of get caught up in the fun-ness of it.  I asked the oncologist for a prescription for Latisse, which is used to make your eyelashes grow.  I apply it every night.  I even put a dab on my eyebrows to get them to grow in thicker.  Since my chemo, the lashes and brows have not come back like they were before.  It’s been fun to fuss with this stuff.  I have the time to do it, and I don’t feel guilty about it.  It makes me feel good.  I still don’t spend a lot of money on stuff, and that makes it even more enjoyable.

I am just rambling on this evening.  It is quiet in the house with Mark at school and Tom out this evening playing with the guys in the band.  I’m getting some laundry done.  One of these days I want to, need to take some time to write a letter to Tom and one to Mark and tell them how very much they mean to me.  I know that they know.  It is a wonderful thing, appreciation.  The three of us all have it for one another.  We are all smart in that way.  Funny thing is, I live in this quirky little town of Toronto and sometimes the people here drive me nuts.  Yet, truth be told, I learn from them.  And we, the Miller family, we three, have our lives woven into the fabric of this town.  That helps us weather storms.  It is not the only thing that does, but it is certainly a factor, and an important one.  This is where I think I know what I’m doing when it comes to relationships.  Because we all need to have a sense of belonging.  But also of being connected to something larger.  And you don’t want to feel isolated.

I guess I’m glad we, the Miller family, we three, haven’t imploded.  I don’t want that to happen.  I want us to be stronger than that.  We don’t even have to be strong all the time.  We can be broken and bewildered, but we need to just keep showing up.  Showing up for the new day.  Seeing what life brings us.  Working through the troubles, and experiencing, drinking in all the good, lovely stuff.  And maintaining.

Where Did The Summer Go?

I simply cannot believe that I haven’t posted ALL summer!  That’s how busy I was.  Staying busy helps keep the anxiety at bay.  This was also a much better summer in terms of how I was feeling, how Tom, Mark & I were feeling.  Last summer was about finishing chemo, having two surgeries, getting ready for radiation, getting ready for Mark to go to college.  It was a crappy summer last year, but we made it through.  And I think we made up for last summer by travelling and doing lots of things we don’t want to put off doing anymore.

Gosh, what were the highlights?  There were so many!  Tom and I enjoyed our adventure to Las Vegas, to the Grand Canyon.  We are so glad we went.  It was a week of total activity.

We also went to Maumee Bay on Lake Erie for three days, taking Mark and his girlfriend Livy with us.  Mark and I kayaked for the first time ever, much more fun than I thought it’d be.   And a few weeks later, Mark and I went to Oglebay Park and took a tour on segways, which was great fun, too.  Tom and I went to a concert:  Chicago and The Doobie Brothers.  I enjoyed that more than I thought I would, too.

On a more sober note, Tom and I started getting information about funerals, cremation and cemetery plots.  We’ve decided to be cremated, then buried at Island Creek Cemetery.  We have to decide on a plot.  Our cremains can both be put in the same plot.  It is a bit difficult to visit the subject with Tom and yet I feel better about making decisions now together so it’s not all put on one of our shoulders at a difficult time.

Then, yesterday I came home from shopping in Robinson, and Tom said that 1st Energy plans to temporarily close the plant.  The news came out of nowhere.  So here we are again, in the surf mode:  riding the wave and trying to keep our balance.  I do wonder how the hell life continues to throw us curves.  It can just suck at times.  Hey, yeah, ‘stay positive’, but we’ve been thr0ugh this before with Weirton Steel and we thought those days were over.  And dealing with the stage iv cancer on top of it, I wonder how much a person can take.  So I guess it’s one fucking day at a time.

The End of Another School/Work Year

It’s been quite awhile since I’ve written a post.  Now, here it is Memorial Day Weekend, 2012.  I have finished another year of work at school.  I have lots of different feelings about that.

One is pride.  I am proud that I got through the work year.  It was a good school year, and I liked what I did this year, working often one-on-one with a special needs boy.  The boy was funny and smart but had some behavioral issues.  As the year went on, I learned more and more what worked in dealing with him.

Now, as for next year, I still am uncertain whether I will return to this job.  A part of me wants to go back.  I like the camaraderie, although there were plenty of times I felt lonely at school.  I do like working with the children.  They can really make me feel special and wanted and loved and important.

The job has its frustrations.  I am given menial tasks.  Rarely is my opinion sought out by those in greater authority.  I have no power.  I have no creative outlet.  I also see others are given special treatment, have easy jobs ‘created’ for them and get away with doing very little work.  And they add very little to the school system as a whole, and are definitely not helping develop the students’ education.

At this time, I don’t know what or where I would be working next school year.  Maybe this job has run its course.  It has had its perks, and of course, getting the entire summer off is the biggest and nicest perk.  The job was terrific when I was raising Mark.  The school schedule worked perfectly for that.

Also, over the years, this job developed me as a person.  Things I learned at school, like paying attention to detail, and staying focused, were things I could apply to my own life and grow as a result.   I saw how people at the school worked with one another.  Often, some people didn’t get along with others, yet they would set their differences aside and continue to work with them.  I found that to be very professional.  I learned from that.

There are many layers to working at the school in a small town.  Every year, I become aware of a few more pieces of the inner workings of this little community.  It’s quirky, that’s for sure, in both a good and bad way.

Prayer

I don’t spend as much time as I used to in prayer.  Not that I was this huge prayer warrior of dedication.  I did have periods of time over many years when I offered up lots and lots of prayers for everyone and everything.  Sometimes I would write the prayers in a notebook.  There are so many instances where I would feel pretty inadequate trying to help anyone going through a tough time, and so I would try to compensate with prayer.  I believe there’ve been studies that conclude prayer does help and has a positive impact on people even when they do not know they are being prayed for.

So why do I not pray as often?  It’s not that I don’t believe in prayer, because I do.  In light of my circumstances, these days I tend to look at most all things in a different light.  Years ago, in my 20s, I began reading books with positive messages.  It was like a steady diet for my brain, and a way to reprogram my way of thinking.  In my childhood, I had to deal with an alcoholic father and a mentally ill mother.  Don’t get me wrong, my parents had some amazing qualities and I loved them very much and still do to this day (Mom died in 1997 and Dad in 1998).  Still, there were plenty of dramatics growing up which had a negative effect on me, and at some point I had to approach life in a different way.  I suppose those uplifting, self-help kind of books, as well as the Bible, did positively affect my life.  I definitely have had a full life filled with many wonderful moments and I learned to appreciate all that I have.  And I know that my reading about bettering myself and applying certain principles to my life did help me steer it in the right direction.

It’s sort of like now, though, I have a kind of “it’s out of my control” attitude.  I concentrate more on being here, now, and not so much on sending up prayers to God for answers or solutions or ‘fixes’.  And of course, I am looking at God in a different light as well.  Trying to get away from the ‘religious’ God and seeing Him as more universal, perhaps.  More all-encompassing?

Oh, the people writing a lot of those self-help books:  what can they offer me at this point?  How many have walked in my shoes?  Some of that positive stuff is now met with intolerance on my part.  I guess it applied at one time, but now not so much.  So I don’t want to waste time reading it. I find myself more uplifted listening to really good music……LOVE my ipod…..and my mood can change when I hear a great song on the radio.

No one is to blame

I do have random thoughts pass through my mind at all times of the day.  I have heard and read that “real” writers use bits and pieces of miscellaneous paper to jot down words or ideas so as to remember later what they want to express or expound upon.  I have done this only occasionally, although it does help.  I am not sure if it’s laziness or fear that I don’t use this method to remember what I want to write about.  The laziness you may understand, but the fear……the fear is about finding out that maybe what I have to write about isn’t really all that important, or original, or worth delving in to.  Or maybe if I write that idea and then the next one, I will eventually run out of ideas.  Sigh.  It is a non-belief in myself, and one I’m sure I should, even now, try to conquer.

All this as an intro to what popped into my head this morning as I finished my shower and began to fix my hair and put on a little bit of make-up.  For some reason, I told myself no one is the cause of the cancer that I deal with.  This is not a new thought.  It’s just one that I am glad I remembered to write here in my blog.  I certainly don’t want anyone to think that maybe because of bad karma they threw my way, or some kind of stress they created in my life was what started the cancer.

I hope you, Tom, and you, Mark, remember that shortly after I received a cancer diagnosis, I told both of you that neither of you were to blame.  And even if you don’t remember that conversation, that’s okay.  We did have it.  And I’m writing again to remind you, because I don’t want you feeling any guilt.

Nor anyone else who’s known me or dealt with me, no need for guilt.  Should some of you have treated me better?  Ha, ha, probably!  But life is full of ups and downs, and I do my best to deal with them just like everyone else.  Having to deal with cancer has taught me that much of the time, it is a crap shoot.  There is not always rhyme or reason why someone gets it.  Some people live exemplary lives, eat well, exercise, live stress free and yet still get cancer.  I don’t feel I abused my body or lived wrongly, it is just something that occurred.

How We Spent Easter Sunday

We had a lovely Easter.  We went to Bill & Caryn’s for the day, Mark went with us. It was so very relaxing to spend time with our grandchildren.  They were just so well behaved, and we hung on every little thing they did.  Josie kept us very entertained.  She loved going out in the back yard while Tom and I (Pap and Granny) watched her run around.  Sheesh!  That girl do have some endless energy!  She was quite comical, and named a few little areas in the yard “Little Hill” and “Big Hill”.  The yard  must seem like such a large world to her, it is very sweet to watch.

Liam never fussed the whole day.  He was quite happy to be part of everything that was going on.  He took a nap here and there, ate at his high chair while we had dinner, and loved hanging out with Josie in the back yard.  It’s so easy to make him smile, and at one point, I was getting him to giggle by having him reach up, over and over again, for a stuffed animal.  Oh, he thought that was great fun.

Wonderful memories that have stayed with me as I went back to work this week after a four day break.  The breaks always go so fast.  Plus Mark was home during that time, and now has less than three weeks before he’s home from the university for the summer.

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