Empowering ourselves

We deeply appreciate all the help that you give us. Meals, visits, rides, play dates, cards, activities, being lifted through your prayers and positive thoughts – All these areas where we need help and some where we cannot begin to handle by ourselves.

I know that we aren’t the only ones going through difficult changes. A friend of mine is getting a divorce. She is in the middle of redecorating her condo so that it doesn’t feel like it did when she was married. Her business is suddenly booming and she handling the legal details on her own. While this keeps her busy, she missed having her husband for both emotional and practical support.

But then, after a particularly busy day of running her business and meeting with lawyers, she realized that, though she was tired, she was also energized. By doing all the things she needed to do to take care of her life, she felt strong and empowered, and emotionally on a new level.

I could relate. Though the chemo drugs knock me down, I feel fortunate to get back up again. Often, it is slow return to life, and I don’t feel like doing much. But I find that if I do little things as soon as I can – take a shower, get my own glass of water, eat – then, gradually, I can do more and more. I notice that the more I do to take care of myself and my family, the better I feel, not just physically but about myself and my life.

Rather than a hassle, it is empowering.

For example, I love cooking. Cooking isn’t just one step: It includes planning and shopping and prepping and cooking. It involves managing the timing of the various parts of the meal as well as setting the table and serving the meal. And, inevitably, cleaning up.

Another example on the other end of the spectrum: As anyone who has been to my house knows, I am not the best at managing clutter. It feels like a chore, drains my energy, and is last on my list of things to do. But now I realize that having the energy and focus to go through the clutter (and essentially move it around) is a blessing.

I hope that you feel empowered as you go through your day, managing your life and contributing to the lives of those you love, one step at a time. And from those of us who receive your help when we need it: Thank you.

Love and blessings,
Marie

Complicated blessings

Chemo went smoothly this week with far fewer side effects than is typical. Plus I didn’t get hip pain from the Neulasta shot. I’m grateful.

The only real problem I ran into was this: On Thursday night, I couldn’t sleep. On Friday night, I did sleep…for two hours. On Saturday, totally exhausted, I went to bed around 8:00 p.m.

Our younger son fell asleep in our bed and, like many kids, seems to expand at night. The dog curled up at my feet – well, really, where my knees would be. I folded myself into the postage-stamp size space that remained and actually fell asleep.

Before too long, I woke to three long, piercing beeps that indicate our clothes dryer is done. My husband was leaving on a trip the next day and probably doing laundry. I was sure he would get the clothes so I fell back asleep.

But no – he was off doing something else and didn’t even hear the beeps. I know because about ten minutes later, the beeps went off again. Too tired to get up and empty the dryer for him, I put the pillow over my head and went back to sleep. But then it happened again. And again. I finally realized that he must have the Wrinkle Guard cycle going – where the dryer periodically turns itself back on and fluffs the clothes a bit so they don’t wrinkle. If you don’t stop this, it will continue for hours. So I dragged myself out of bed and turned off the dryer. (Yes, I checked to see if anything needed to be taken out. It was fine.)

I returned to my tiny space in the bed, which got even smaller since I left it, and fell asleep again.

Around 12:30, our older son appeared at my bedside.

“I can’t sleep.”

This often happens if he uses his iPad before bed, which we don’t allow but happens anyway.

I was annoyed and tempted to tell him to just go back to bed, but I remembered that I am not always able to get up and walk him back to his room.

So I did. But my anger brewed: He used his iPad, and my sleep suffers.

Without thinking, I gave him a hard time about it, which wasn’t conducive to either of us getting any rest.

Eventually, though, he drifted off. And while he did, I reminded myself again that I am fortunate to I feel well enough to get myself out of bed and help him.

Then I took it further: I am lucky to have someone who will turn to me for help.

Thinking back over the annoyances of the night, it felt nice to have a child and a dog so close, and my husband nearby.

My life has become much smaller in many ways. I don’t get to socialize in the ways I used to, and I miss connecting personally with friends and sharing in a meal, some exercise, or entertainment. I am often in the house for days in a row, with my husband and sons as my only social contact and our dog as my constant companion. I became grateful that, even if they were keeping me awake, they were there.

Our son fell asleep relatively quickly, and I returned to my room where I slept through the night, remembering that the things that bother me are often integrated with their very blessings.

Many blessings to you, with their complications and all, and joy through it.

Love and light,
Marie

There is fun, and then there is fun

Thank you for all the energy you send my way. It enabled me to travel to Pittsburgh with my family, to celebrate Easter with my parents and siblings and partners and cousins and friends. A two-day trip would normally be crazy and unthinkable, with everything that gets packed into that, but your support enabled me to do that.

On Easter Sunday night, at bedtime, I laid in bed with my younger son. As part of their bedtime routine, I like each boy to reflect on his day and think about what he is grateful for. I also like them to give thanks to God for those same things, though sometimes that part pushes my luck with their patience.

Neither boy is the reflective sort and they find this exercise tedious. Still, I persist, posing the question in various ways.

Tonight’s version was, “What was your favorite part of today?”

As I waited for his answer, I mentally ran through his day. We all slept at my parents’ home, so the kids woke in the same house as their cousin. They had a special breakfast made specifically with them in mind and received Easter baskets of goodies and gifts from my parents and their aunt and uncles. We went to church (granted, not a potential highlight when you are seven years old) and they ate cookies and cake and special treats throughout the day. He put on a gymnastics and dance show with his cousin.

Midday, a friend of mine arrived in a convertible BMW and took our son for a fabulous fast ride in her car. His grin was non-strop and I don’t think it was the power of the wind against his face.

He didn’t reply so I asked him again, “What was your favorite part of today?”

“Tonio.”

Late in the afternoon, my cousins arrived, bringing their two boys. Their older son is a teenager and did a fabulous job of playing with his younger brother (Antonio) and my younger son, who are close in age. My cousin and sister and I sat on chairs in the backyard and watched while they played football and freeze tag and lots of other games where you run around a lot. The balls would go over the hill, and the boys would race each other down the hill over the brambles to get the ball, then race back up again. Their clothing gathered grass stains, and the feet of my barefoot son were so dirty that we couldn’t scrub them clean in the bath that night. Both of my cousin’s boys are amazingly easy-going and fun, and they laugh easily. It felt idyllic.

Because it was the last big event of the day and everyone left barely an hour before this, I attributed his answer to the recency effect. So I pushed. “Easter candy?”

“Tonio,” he said again, definitively.

“Gymnastics?”

“Tonio.”

Riding in the convertible?

“Tonio.”

Though it had been a great day overall, clearly the best was the connection he made and the physical fun he had playing outside with someone he adores. Okay. Tonio.

I know that I get so caught up in what I am trying to get done that I often put off that physical connection and that fun. This was a good reminder for me to refocus.

Thank you for connecting with me, for being open to my connecting with you, and for enriching my life.

I send you wishes for a beautiful week, filed with the absolute joy and love of connecting with someone amazing.

Love,
Marie