All posts by Julie

February

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February began with another wake up call, one that I really needed. The guy I had fallen for told me he just wants to be friends. Let’s just say I took it really hard and wondered what I did wrong. He did like me. I know that for sure. I shouldn’t have stopped dating but my feelings for him made me not want to go out with anyone else. I wish I hadn’t of been such a scaredy cat. I was trying to protect my heart. The funny thing is, I got hurt anyway. Eventually, I’ll meet someone who wants to be in my life. Maybe he wasn’t the guy for me and I wasn’t the girl for him and that’s why it never worked out. I regret not making more of an effort to see him. It doesn’t make any sense because I wanted to see him. Now I realize how important intimacy is for health and happiness. I fell for him because he is strong, smart and handsome. He sent me memes which made me laugh. He likes music and playing the drums. He is tall, loud and outspoken. I thought he was going to be dorky based on his profile but he turned out to be really cool. He’s been through a great deal of pain in his life too. I hope we both find happiness because we both deserve it.

I’ve learned a few things. Don’t ever chase a guy. If he’s not making any effort there’s a reason. He’s just not that into you or he’s seeing someone else or he’s given up. What saddens me is that there was potential between us, there were feelings, we had some similar interests, then it turned ugly because we disappointed each other. Anger is just love disappointed. We didn’t get our reps in, that’s a phrase I’ve heard a dating coach use. Try to see the person once a week or every other week or at least once a month otherwise it gets stale. He seemed to be very busy. The few times he wanted to see me, I was busy. I got tired of his excuses, “I’m a train wreck.” I can give you a run for your money on that one. The whole point of friendships and relationships is to help the other person heal. I let my fatigue and insecurities get in the way. I’m so used to being the sick person, having to take it easy and not overdo it, that I had trouble switching gears. I’m still trying to figure out how to be a normal person. I’ve gotten used to being alone and doing my own thing. I had such a strong physical attraction to him that I probably wouldn’t have gotten any work done lol. There’s more to life than work. I guess so.

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Over the holidays, an old coworker of mine from Liberty Mutual came into the store. He had been like a father figure to me. His wife died of cancer several years ago. A few weeks ago, he sent me an email to tell me what he liked about my book. He said there was one line that stood out for him, “Even beautiful things become ugly if we don’t take care of them.” I think he was referring to his marriage while I was referring to the lack of cleanliness in my bathroom lol. It’s true in both cases. Beautiful apartments and relationships deteriorate if we don’t take care of them. Not everyone is meant to be in your life and they bring a hard lesson. Sometimes you can remain friends, they’ll bring you sunshine and laughter again. You’ll just have to wait and see. I think I should start dating again. The whole point is to meet someone you’re compatible with and feel comfortable around. You have to let things happen organically. I was too much of a control freak. I couldn’t just let it be what it was. I needed more reassurance than I was getting from him and yet I blamed myself.

This time, I’m going into online dating with an open mind and willingness to meet someone. I have to be somebody’s dream girl lol. Maybe it took getting over my initial reluctance and sarcasm which was just a defense mechanism. Now I can say my intentions are pure. Christen told me to be patient and not to settle. I don’t think I was settling with him. He actually made me want to be a better person. At least I’ve had some dating experience and don’t feel like a complete newbie. I’m going to go with the flow rather than trying to force things to happen. I talked with my cousin, Heather, about dating. She said it took meeting a lot of guys before she found the one she got into a relationship with and eventually married. They’re expecting their first baby in August. I’m really excited for her! She said she had so much practice by the time she met Kyle that she was able to relax on the date and just be herself. She said she had almost given up. When it’s time for people to meet, they meet. It takes both people putting themselves out there. She was only on the site for a week when he messaged her. That’s fate, the work of the angels.

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I’m writing this post from Utah. I’m visiting my brother, sister-in-law, and nieces. It’s good to get away and spend time with my family. My nieces are growing up so fast. Emma will be three in March and Mary will be one in June. Mary isn’t feeling good, she’s been crying a lot. She has a cough, cold and fever. The doctor finally figured out she has an ear infection and gave her some medicine. I hope she feels better soon. They have pretty blue eyes like their dad and grandpa. They are very precious. I think a part of me is sad that I’m not going to have a baby even though I never really planned on it. The idea of labor has always scared me and I have enough trouble taking care of myself lol. The possibility has always loomed on the horizon so it’s natural to go through some kind of grief around it especially with turning 40 this month. I can be a great aunt which is a pretty cool thing! It’s very beautiful out here, the open space allows us to think clearly. It’s also nice to watch the Olympics, the athletes are very inspiring. Their dedication to the sport they love is truly remarkable.

I’m going to create a new dating profile and see where that goes. I’m not going to mention the fact that I’m a cancer survivor because I don’t want it to be their first impression. I’m going to continue applying for part-time jobs. I felt better when I was working, it gave me structure and helped me to feel more worthwhile. Having a job also kept me out of trouble. Sometimes, what you think is trouble is exactly what you need. For real, I get tired of behaving and wonder why I don’t let myself live. Several of my birthday messages were about having more fun. They’re right, I could let myself enjoy life more. I bought beer at the grocery to drink every once in awhile or when I have company. I thank God for teaching me about humility. Love doesn’t give to get, love gives to give. Love doesn’t get old unless it’s forsaken then it turns bitter, something that could’ve been so beautiful. It’s okay to have needs and sometimes get clingy. We should help each other to be strong instead of tearing each other down. I regret saying mean things, it wasn’t nice and he didn’t deserve it. I wanted butterflies in my stomach, I sure as hell got them.

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My birthday was February the 9th. I feel old, I’m over the hill now lol. Christen said I’m young at heart, so that’s a good thing! I celebrated my birthday a few times. I went to the Olive Garden with my mom, aunt, and cousin. I like the eggplant parmesan. I went to dinner at Cancun and a Cincinnati Cyclones game with my friends Christen and Melissa. I had a really good time. I’m going to Takahsi, a sushi restaurant, with my family in Utah. I like sushi, it’s yummy. We ended up getting pizza instead because the restaurant was packed. I have registered for Cancercon, an annual gathering for the young adult cancer movement, it’s in Denver in April. I’ll be meeting up with Lauren, Jenny and Rachael, my survivor friends from the First Descents rock climbing trip. I look forward to seeing them. I think the conference will be fun and educational. I’ve signed up for several sessions and activities. I’ll write a blog post about my experience. I need to stay positive and keep making progress. I’m tired of winter and ready for spring. Even though I’ll complain about the heat and humidity, I’ll be able to take my walks and see my favorite tree.

I’d like to start working out because it will help me in so many ways. If I can get my fitness level up, I can join an indoor soccer team. Yeah! I used to enjoy playing soccer. I have a natural athletic ability. I used to play forward and score goals. What better confidence booster is there? I’ve shied away from running because the last time I ran was seven years ago. I had just finished radiation. I was having a terrible pain at the base of my skull and worried the running had caused it. It wasn’t the running, the chemo had damaged my heart and nerves. I didn’t need to be running when I could barely walk to the mailbox. I am better now and my body is strong. I still worry about having a recurrence which is why I need to stop putting toxic foods into my body. Sugar is poison. I have to want to live, really want to live otherwise I won’t, it’s as simple as that. Yes, most of the time, I’m all talk, but not all of the time. I hope everyone is doing well. Take care.

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Have a great month,

Julie

Update: I got my dating profile set up on a site I’ve never been on before. I chose three photos and kept my answers short and sweet. I’m talking to a few guys. My allergies to cats and dogs definitely narrows the field down. Wish me luck! 🙂 Unfortunately, I have a cold and sore throat. I’m not feeling very well. 🙁 I haven’t been sick in awhile. We’re getting a bunch of snow tonight, hopefully we’ll be able to fly home this week although it’ll be hard to leave my nieces.

January

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To be honest, I didn’t start the new year off on the right foot. I’ll get to that later. I would like to begin the first post of the year writing about something positive. When I think about what’s helped me the most over the last five years, I’d have to say it was repeating affirmations. How do they help? You gain control of your thoughts, talk yourself through fears, and improve self-esteem. I always thought they were kind of silly just something New Age people practiced. But when my life took a turn for the worse, I had to reach for the light. Many years ago, when my anxiety was bad, saying affirmations got me through the day. There’s a saying in AA, it works if you work it. That’s very true. I’ve become stronger and more confident. I don’t struggle like I used to and it feels good. When I encounter a difficult situation, I tap back into that place of strength. I don’t even say them that much anymore. Since something happened recently that knocked me off balance, I felt like it was a great time to remind myself and I have them posted on my bulletin board.

My name is Julie and I love myself. Today is a new day and I treat myself with loving kindness. I am confident and capable. I am healthy and strong. I am calm and relaxed. I am safe and protected. Breathe in. All is well. Breathe out. All is well. Peace begins with me. I am grateful for my many blessings. God is good.

Those are my favorites. You can change them to suit your needs and situation. The key is to phrase them in a rhythm you like because when the words flow they are easier to remember and become automatic. I tend to say them rather quickly. Start with one or two sentences a day. I think that’s better than saying a bunch of them at once. You really want to feel the words and what they mean. I’ve practiced them so much that sometimes my mind is like, “Oh no, not that again!” Lol. There are so many affirmations. I’m going to find or create ten new ones to practice and post them in next month’s blog.

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I realized something else. I made my goals very general when they need to be more specific if I’m going to accomplish any of them. Resolutions are a good idea in theory, we should reassess how we’re doing, yet most of us have habits that are pretty set in stone. It takes time and energy to create new habits. I also think wintertime is not the easiest time weather wise to make big changes. I got upset with myself for continuing my bad habits which made me even more depressed. I bought Pepsi and golden Oreo cookies at the grocery store. I didn’t set any new habits in place so why would there have been any changes? Exercise more. How? Go to the fitness center or take a class. Eat healthier. How? Make healthy meals and limit my amount of sugar. Travel more. How? Register for events that interest me. Revise the novel. How? Work on the story instead of being on social media. See my friends more. How? Make plans with them.

I might as well just say it. I quit my job. For those of you who know me, that won’t come as a surprise. I have worked at many places over the years. Others might be shocked since I seemed really happy and excited to be there. I was and have been. Several things happened which forced me to give a two weeks notice. At the risk of going into too much detail, I’ll say it was a very good three month experience. It showed me what I am capable of and I’m proud of myself. I have faith that I can find another job I will enjoy even more. I was a seasonal hire and since the holidays are over my hours have been reduced. I need a certain amount to feel like it’s worthwhile otherwise I lose my momentum. The biggest reason was a conflict with my assistant manager. He became increasingly unpleasant, unhelpful, rude, and mean. I refuse to work in an environment where I’m being treated with such disrespect. I’m still baffled at his behavior and hope one day he realizes how to be a better supervisor and human being.

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Things happen for a reason. Maybe I was on the wrong path going in a straight line instead of climbing the next mountain. There’s nothing wrong with that, we can’t always be climbing mountains. The only one who knew about my past and getting disability was the manager. I didn’t tell anyone else because I was trying to move forward. One time, the manager asked me about my cancer story. I laughed and said, “I come here to get away from it and you’re asking me to talk about it.” He got transferred to another store so I had to tell the assistant managers because it was affecting my job to some extent and they needed to know. I had been late to several shifts and I’m just slower in general. I’m also a hard worker and I did a great job. I enjoyed helping the customers and feeling worthwhile. Even after improving my punctuality, he still wouldn’t lose the attitude. I decided the stress wasn’t worth it. I gave the new manager, who’s very nice, my notice and asked him not to schedule me with the assistant manager. I had one more shift with him and I’m proud of myself for facing him. Luckily, I won’t have to work with him anymore.

I’d say it was the garbage incident which sealed the deal for me. I always complete my share of the chores there. I vacuum at night, dust mop in the morning, clean the counters, and collect the trash. The assistant manager got the garbage and recycling ready then asked me to take it over by myself. We always go in pairs because it can be too much for one person, so I was surprised at his request. It was two big boxes of broken down boxes which is too heavy for me to lift into the compactor and several large bags of trash that can fall off the dolly if someone isn’t following behind. The compactor is a fair distance away over by the parking garage and it was 5 degrees that day. I told him, “No, I don’t want to take it over.” He about lost it. “You don’t want to take it over?” He asked. “No, it’s too much for me.” I answered. “I’m going to see what K thinks about that.” He stormed off. She took the trash over with me just to appease him. I wondered why he didn’t take it over himself. He’s young and healthy, it isn’t too much for him. I almost walked out that day, but she convinced me to stay and that it would be okay. It never got back to being okay.

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I don’t think it was a coincidence my car locked up on New Year’s Eve. It was as if the Universe was telling me not to go to work or just to pause for a moment and look at what’s really going on. While I was making progress and doing the right thing, I was avoiding other things in my life like intimacy and vulnerability. And I wasn’t working on any of my passion projects. My life had gotten out of balance again. I was running away from the things that really mattered to me. I told myself last New Years that I wouldn’t spend another New Years alone and what did I do? I spent it alone. I had to work the next morning which isn’t a good excuse. I was trying so hard to do a good job and I was doing a good job, but I still fell short in some areas which is to be expected for someone who struggles with physical and psychological issues. I walk away from that job with my head held high. They aren’t glad to see me go, except for one person lol. And I will miss the customers, but I think it’s for the best. I know I can find another job better suited for me and my abilities.

In terms of intimacy, yes, I need to be careful so I don’t get hurt, but avoiding the person I want to see is hurting me too. Instead of being brave, I’m being overly cautious. It’s okay to take a chance. I didn’t go on any dates this month, and I haven’t set up a new profile yet. I think it would be a good idea to start dating again. I found myself getting jealous of women who post provocative photos because I know how visual men are and I didn’t feel like I could compete with them. I actually wished I could be more slutty and now it just makes me laugh. That’s not who I am. I’m more reserved and that’s okay. I’m not in my twenties anymore. I’m sexy in my own way, that’s what I had to learn. That’s what we all have to learn. We don’t have to be anyone but exactly who we are. We aren’t attracted to people because we envision them as someone else, we’re attracted because we already think who they are is pretty damn neat. That’s what we don’t get. We cringe at our uniqueness instead of realizing it’s the very thing that makes us who we are. And who we are is what we have to give. God doesn’t make mistakes. Even a job that doesn’t work out, it’s not a mistake, it’s a learning experience. That’s what I take from this. That’s what I hope you all can take from this.

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Have a great month,

Julie

p.s. My last shift was yesterday. Right before I left, I had a big sale and good connection with one of the customers. Sometimes they’re going on a trip to another country, the clothes are well suited for travel and it’s fun to help them shop. After the customer left, K and I looked at each and smiled. We talked about how that was the perfect way to end it, on a high note. Leaving wasn’t an easy decision to make, a part of me worried it was a step backwards and I’d get stuck again. I won’t let that happen. I have to follow my heart and maybe that is a luxury I have, but don’t think it doesn’t come with a cost because it does. What I have been through, I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. I can’t change what’s happened, I can only move forward. The things that are chronic, I have to find relief from rather than making them worse. Exercising and improving my diet will help with the pain and fatigue. The mess in my head, I have to straighten that out. Things are so much better than they were, I need to remember that and give myself credit for what I have accomplished. My birthday is next month and instead of being upset about the age I’m going to be, cringe, I’m going to embrace it. I need to start acting more like an adult. I won’t lose my innocence and curiosity, but I’ll start trusting my strength and wisdom more.

December

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Anyone tired of winter already? Ugh. It’s gotten really cold here. I didn’t go on any dates in December. I was busy with work and needed time to think. It seemed like I was either falling hard or not falling at all. Maybe that’s normal since I’ve been out of the dating scene for so long. Keep the date simple, meet for coffee and try to be more open-minded. My mom gets the mom of the year award, she helped me clean the bathroom. I have ptsd from treatment and have trouble using harsh cleaners. It was almost past the point of rescue and my mild cleaners weren’t working. Now I feel like I could have company over and not be completely embarrassed. The other day, I bought laundry detergent by myself. I walked down the aisle and didn’t have a panic attack. I’ve pumped gas twice now and it wasn’t so bad. All of these little victories feel empowering to me. It feels good to do normal things again. It’s not that things don’t bother me, I have tools to handle them: deep breathing, affirmations, and mental strength.

I’m going to hit the highlights of 2017 and set a few goals for 2018. It’s important to look at the progress we’ve made and things we’ve accomplished. I went to Utah twice to visit my family. I have the most amazing nieces. I participated in one book fair. I went rock climbing in the Adirondaks with First Descents and surfing in Maui with Project Koru. I met a bunch of cancer survivors who are now my friends. They inspire me daily. I saw the FCC soccer team play twice. I went swimming several times. I started dating and got a part-time job. I’d say that’s a pretty good year. It was. My goals for 2018 are to work, write, blog, exercise, eat healthy, date, and travel. I want to revise the novel, make art, do yoga, go indoor rock climbing, and get a television. I want to join a cancer support group, lead an art therapy group, and have more fun adventures. I want to get a tattoo on my left forearm, a butterfly, heart, cross, the word faith or all of them combined into one design. I want to go to some music concerts.

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I’m going to share my blogging process. Writing is very therapeutic for me even the next day tmi hangover I always have since I write so candidly. When I first started blogging, I wrote about various topics rather than my personal life. Now, I weave them together to make sense of my experiences and offer insights which might be helpful to the reader. There’s usually one sentence that sticks out because it’s unclear or didn’t get revised or is a seed for a future blog. I don’t go back and change the post. I let it be even if there are a few mistakes. It’s good for me to let it be imperfect. Most of the time, the first draft is handwritten. There’s usually something I’m ready to write, but if it’s early in the month and I’m not ready to start the next blog, I’ll write in my notebook. If thoughts come to me at night while I’m in bed which they often do, I use the notes app on my phone. Some people probably skip these first two steps and go straight to typing. Whatever works best for you is your process. I put the pictures in last because I think it breaks up the text and adds visual interest.

I have a pretty good idea of what topics I want to cover and what needs to go into the post. Then I roll the blog around in my head for a few days. This is kind of annoying but also kind of fun. Then it gets to the point where the words are ready and the post needs to get typed. I think all this prep work is to outsmart my inner critic who still tries to tell me not to write and that I don’t have anything to say. Then it has to be revised several times. The final post is the result of four or five drafts. I don’t usually look back at the handwritten stuff unless I’ve forgotten something. I try to write a fresh take with fast energy although at this point the major parts are nearly memorized. Some posts are easier to write because they take less preliminary work. It comes down to saying what I want to say in the way I want to say it. I think that’s the key. It’s like playing the right notes on a musical instrument. It takes a lot of practice but it doesn’t feel like work because you enjoy it. When you’re good at something and your family is proud of you, it makes you feel good about yourself.

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I want to address something because I heard a song about being just a number and it dawned on me what I might’ve done in last month’s post. When I wrote guy #3 and guy #5, my intention was to protect their identity by not revealing their names. I thought that’s what you’re supposed to do. It wasn’t to make anyone feel like they’re just a number. Guy #3 has a name, it’s Tommy. Guy #5’s name is Joseph. I feel bad about writing a post that takes jabs at someone in order to get a laugh. I don’t know how comedians are able to do that. I still have some anger and resentment to work through. We all do. It’s easy to criticize others because it takes the focus off of ourselves. I think I do a decent job of self-reflection by admitting to my errors and shortcomings. Maybe it’s easier for me to push people away than to let them get close which is something I’m still working on. I was raised on country music, it’s in my blood. I’d like to be with someone who can appreciate all types of music.

Let’s say a friend of mine had met five guys and was still interested in one of them. If she asked me for advice, I’d tell her, that’s a gd miracle, you’re so picky. Why not be happy? Why not take a chance? Practice what you preach. You deserve to be loved. Feel with your heart and think with your head. If it doesn’t work out, you’re strong enough to recover. He might not share your feelings, although he probably does. He might be talking to other women, but you’re just as awesome. He could break your heart, that’s a risk you’ll have to take. Friendship is the foundation. Get to know him better. When you care about someone, you stop playing games. Why would you keep dating when you’ve met someone you like? Why would you question what the good Lord has given you? He’s the only one you can’t stop thinking about, so stop being such a scaredy cat.

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Until you start dating exclusively or enter into a relationship you can see whomever you like. Your love is worth a lot but not if you keep it to yourself, so don’t be stingy with your love but don’t give your love to someone who can’t love you back. When someone gives you the run around, don’t run, just walk away. Don’t let a guy who doesn’t know if he wants to be in your life keep you from living your life. And you have to take your love goggles off so you can see the other fish. Follow your heart. That’s my advice. You’re going to anyway. Just slow down. That’s the lesson I learned today. I locked my keys in my car. I put my purse and keys on the passenger seat so I could scrape off the snow. I should’ve kept the keys in my coat pocket or started the engine but it took mom awhile to bring the extra set of keys so that wouldn’t have been good. Luckily, I was able to use my neighbor’s cell phone to call her and wait inside the building. I was late to work. When I get out of the grocery, I put my purse and keys on the seat and then put the groceries in the car and it’s never locked on its own before. It must’ve been the cold weather. Oh well. All is well.

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Have an awesome 2018!!

Julie

November

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November passed by very quickly. I’m late to get my blog posted. I was busy learning my new job and my family visited for a few days. Since I’ve had several different retail jobs in the past, I feel very comfortable running a register. I haven’t worked in seven years, this felt like a good place to start. I enjoy helping the customers which requires me to be friendly and confident. I feel better about myself because I’m testing my limits and no longer being afraid. It’s also good for me to be busy and out of the apartment. I didn’t want to spend another winter feeling alone and isolated. I’m grateful to have found a job close by. I stopped shopping for clothes while I was writing the book. I wore the same pair of blue sweatpants for a few years, so it’s nice to be around new clothes. Although, I still have trouble buying myself stuff which is something I’m working on. I’m learning how to feel comfortable in my body again. I’m learning how to have a life after cancer. I was already behind on the cleaning and laundry. Now, I have even more to get done but it seems like the busier I am, the better I manage my time.

I realized something after watching a Youtube video where it talked about how our past isn’t baggage if it becomes a learned lesson. When you’re dating, if a person doesn’t appreciate your strength it’s because they’re trying to take advantage of you. I went on one date this month. I’ll call him guy #5 because that’s what he is, the fifth guy I’ve met from the dating site. He sent me a message and since I wasn’t completely repulsed by him, I thought I’d give him a chance. We talked on the phone about four times which now seems like wasted time although it takes time to get to know someone. He’s in a profession that I somewhat respect, yet the longer I talked with him the less and less I liked him. “Give him a chance,” my mom said. We agreed to meet after work at a restaurant near me. He was late to the date. I gave him the benefit of the doubt since he had a longer drive through rush hour. I wasn’t very nervous. I had already somewhat written him off, which I know sounds terrible. If nothing else, at least I’m being honest.

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I went into the date already annoyed at his ex-wife baggage which he talked about in length. He wanted to know what the other four guys did wrong so he could mold himself into someone I would like. It doesn’t work that way. You’re either the person that I like or you’re not. Sure, you can stop bad habits or change superficial stuff but it comes down to whether the person does it for you or not. He didn’t do it for me. And I just keep thinking, am I being too … I don’t even know the word. No, I’m not being too anything. I’m being myself. I had a good time with him at least in the beginning. We had good conversation, but the final straw came when he drank more than I was comfortable with and wanted to go somewhere else and keep drinking. I’m not a party girl that’s pretty obvious on my profile. I ate more sushi than he did. Oh dear. I can’t eat more sushi than anyone lol. He said he hadn’t ran that day and didn’t want the extra calories. I think there’s more calories in beer than sushi.

While we were eating, he said, “I don’t have any STDs.” Now I don’t know about you, but I don’t think that’s polite dinner conversation. He said he figured I had probably slept with the other four guys because I’m on a dating site and that’s what people are doing nowadays. Oh really? I’m too old to fall for peer pressure. I could’ve slept with him but I didn’t want to, nor did I want to get to know him better. I guess that’s the bottom line. I want to actually like the person I become intimate with and feel like they like me too rather than just being some girl they find attractive enough to sleep with. Actually, the final straw was when he said he doesn’t like rap or country music. Oh dear. When I asked him who he likes he said John Mayer. While he does have a few good songs, he’s not one of my favorites. To put down two genres of music that require skill, talent, and musicality, is absurd. He probably realized that by the look on my face. Ugh.

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I know I’m being too hard on him, that’s his opinion and he’s welcome to it. His niceness seemed insincere which also got on my nerves. Once again it sounds like I don’t like a perfectly nice guy. But if a person is just being nice to get something from you, how is that any better? I’ll admit, I’m a bit naive, a little slow to catch on. We all have issues, it’s whether we’re working on them or not. I got upset recently and cried about something. I’m doing something wrong. That’s it! I’m doing instead of being. I step into my masculine energy, try to make things happen, when that’s the guy’s job. I need to be more comfortable in my feminine energy. It’s okay to have feelings. If we didn’t have feelings, we’d be robots. My fears keep preventing me from getting closer to guy #3. Although I did see him again, I don’t feel like I made time for him. I focused on learning my job and seeing my family. I worried about whether he liked me or not. I wondered if I was pretty enough. And I didn’t want to get my heart broken. The problem is, you can’t go into it half-hearted or trying not to get hurt. That’s like half way striking the ball, it’s not going to go very far and you get hurt by stopping short. This is another example of how I deny myself what I really want instead of being brave.

I like my freedom too. I have to feel like I’m gaining rather than losing something by having them in my life. I didn’t feel that way with guy #5. I felt trapped and it seemed like he was trying to impress me by buying me an expensive dinner. As many of you know, I’m perfectly happy with a Pepsi and a burrito. I don’t want to throw him under the bus because it makes me sound rude and judgmental. I’m also trying to write a humorous post and dating is good material. My dad used to tell jokes and make people laugh, I think that’s what I’m trying to do. He wanted a second date and when I told him no, he got pretty upset and bad mouthed me. I told him about a quote I saw, I’m sure that helped, lol. It’s something like – if you don’t feel blessed to have them in your life, they’re someone else’s blessing. I’m not the one for him and he isn’t the one for me. You can’t force that to happen no matter how much you try. Love doesn’t work that way. I also heard something else – when you hit the lottery, you stop buying scratch offs. When you find what you’re looking for, you stop looking. It’s that simple. Trust takes time. It doesn’t happen overnight.

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I deactivated my dating account, there was only a month left of my subscription, because I don’t feel like my head is in the right place. In some ways, I’m not taking it seriously enough, it’s an opportunity to meet someone special. In other ways, I’m taking it too seriously, it should be fun. I also felt like I had hit a dead end on that site and it began to feel like a burden. When I feel like it’s time to start dating again, I’ll pick one of the free sites, I don’t want to spend any more money. Most importantly, I’ve decided not to say anything about being a cancer survivor in my profile, that’s not something they need to know right off the bat. I realize that now. While being a survivor is an advantage, I’m less likely to put up with a bunch of nonsense, it puts me at a disadvantage by creating a dark cloud around me. Sad but true. It’s a part of who I am, for better or worse. I can’t undo what’s been done. I can’t change what’s happened. I can only move forward and hope for the energy to get out of bed and make it through the day. I have faith in God and myself. Being alone has made me stronger and no one can take that away from me.

Since I still have some feelings for guy #3, I’m not giving the other guys a chance. You’re just supposed to hide your profile when that happens and see where it goes. I don’t know where it’s going or if it’s going to go anywhere. When I start thinking with my heart instead of my head, I get off track. What brings me back to center is the fact that dating is about finding the person who can give you what you need and vice versa. It isn’t about forcing someone to be someone they don’t want to be. I have to figure out what I need. It’s harder to go out with someone I actually like because it means something. It’s easy to go out with guys I don’t like because it doesn’t matter. If I’m just going to pick guys to reach the challenge number that isn’t right either. I should look on the bright side, I’m 1/3 of the way there. If I decide to complete the challenge, I only have to meet 10 more guys. I could pick up the pace, I move at the speed of a turtle. Some girls could set up 2-3 dates a week. I’m grateful for the experiences I’ve had because they’ve helped me move forward. I just got my second paycheck and while it isn’t that much money, my mom is proud of me.

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I’m typing this on my new laptop, a 13 inch MacBook Air, which I’ve had for a few months now. At first, I didn’t like it and had a difficult adjustment which is normal for me when I get new things. I had a Dell Inspiron for many years (contrary to popular belief, I did not type the book on a typewriter lol) but it had stopped working. What do I love about the laptop? It’s lightweight, has a long battery life, and syncs with my phone. I love the keyboard. I can bang on the keys which is quite satisfying. I’ve gotten used to the screen resolution which bothered me at first. Since I have ginormous hands, I wouldn’t have been happy with the 12 inch MacBook despite it’s Retina display, the keyboard is smaller. I also had to upgrade my phone from a 5C to a 7 because I was out of storage. I couldn’t take photos and my email wouldn’t open. I’m very grateful for my new technology. I’m also hoping to get a television for Christmas. What’s come over me? Five years is long enough to go without a television. I’d like to watch Jeopardy, soccer games, movies, and a few of my favorite shows.

I enjoyed seeing my brother, sister-in-law, and nieces. They flew here from Utah and stayed with my mom for five days. My aunts, uncles, and cousins came over for Thanksgiving dinner. I always enjoy seeing everyone and eating a delicious meal especially the sweet potato casserole, pecan and pumpkin pies. My niece, Emma, who will be three in March is very energetic and cute as a button. My other niece Mary, is five months old. She’s definitely more calm and quiet. Since I’m not having kids, I enjoy spending time with them. We went to the Entertrainment Junction and had a great time seeing the trains and taking pictures with Santa. Since I was so excited to see him, he gave me a token. I’m on his nice list lol. Since Christmas is right around the corner, it’s a good time to remember the reason for the season. Love. Joy. Hope. Faith. Gratitude. Family. Friendship. Strength. Purpose. Forgiveness. Humility. It’s not about presents although that’s one way we show our love and appreciation. Christmas is about the birth of potential, to see with new eyes, hope with renewed hope, and have faith that what is meant to be will be.

Have a happy Holiday,

Julie

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October

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What’s been going on since my last blog post? I spent two weeks in Utah visiting my brother, sister-in-law, and nieces. I had a really great time. My brother’s business trip to Amsterdam got postponed a few weeks so he was able to spend time with us. We went shopping at the Park City outlet mall and hiking in southern Utah where the terrain is desert with cactus and red rocks. My sister-in-law, Kristine, works at the Deer Valley Ski resort. She’s the head chef at one of their restaurants where we ate lunch after a beautiful drive through the mountains. The leaves were already changing colors and the aspens are almost as cool as willow trees. The higher we drove in elevation, the temperature dropped and everything was covered in snow.

At the risk of getting sappy, the love they share and the beautiful family they’ve created is awesome. I’m a proud aunt! Emma is two-and-a-half years old, Mary is four months. I don’t have much experience interacting with toddlers and babies so that was fun for me. Emma is very energetic while Mary has a quieter personality, lucky for them! They have one of those Echo things where you can tell it to play a song, it’s like a modern day jukebox. We had fun dancing to some tunes. I enjoyed holding little Mary and she fell asleep on my shoulder. I was able to pick her up when we she was crying and then she would stop crying. My energy was calm enough to calm her. I look forward to seeing them again when they visit next month.

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When I got back home, I had a mountain of laundry to do since I totally overpacked, lesson learned, then I focused on applying to different types of jobs hoping that something would fall into place. I put a great deal of faith into the Universe to lead me in the right direction, of course, it takes effort on my part and that’s where I’ve been falling short. I’ve done a lot of inner work. I trust my intuition. I’m not angry anymore although I have moments of animosity. Forgiveness is the answer, it brings us joy. All of the despair we’ve gone through has only deepened our appreciation for happiness. I know no other way to describe it. The point of life is not suffering, it’s not about working ourselves to death, it’s not about denying ourselves pleasure. Life is about taking risks even when we’re afraid because one day of adventure is worth a thousand days of comfort.

The next weekend, I went shopping with my mom to buy pants and jeans to wear since I’ve gotten used to wearing sweatpants. As many of you know, I haven’t worked a regular job in several years. I survived cancer and self-published a book, I wasn’t twiddling my thumbs. Although, I got disconnected from the world around me. My disability has become a crutch allowing me to stay sick instead of pushing myself to get better. This year, the survivor camps were an important part of my healing process. I met survivors my age and realized the struggle is real. I was damn proud to stand among them. The fact that we had to suffer and still suffer in the name of health makes no sense. What if the way to heal darkness is with light and love? I am grateful for modern medicine and have deep respect for anyone who chooses that path, I just don’t think I could fight that way again. Of course, it’s easy to speculate from the crowd.

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Family and friends notice when we’re not living up to our potential, but they often fall into the enabler role and things stay the same. Oftentimes, we bring new people into our lives who we know will call us on our shit. Even though the truth is hard to hear and we’ve heard it before, we’re finally ready to do something about it. We find the motivation to make changes and get our work done. I went out with one of the original four guys again because I wanted to see him. He was the third guy I met from the dating site. We played frisbee golf and now I regret complaining about the warm weather lol. He made me take a hard look at myself. I’m not going to give him more credit than he deserves because I’ve done the work, but he said something that struck me – I’m just going through the motions. He’s right. Fear does that to a person, it shuts down all possibility which makes us spectators instead of warriors. We all have wounds to heal. We all need love to survive. After awhile, no more healing happens in isolation, we need relationships. We have to allow ourselves to be imperfect because perfection is not something that God asks of us.

I’ve had three job interviews so far and …… I took the third job!!! During the first interview, which didn’t feel right at all, I realized I don’t need to apologize for what I’ve gone through and how long it has taken me to get back on my feet. Healing takes time, that’s the hard part, but that doesn’t mean I have to be hard on myself. Even God pardons sinners. The second interview went okay. I was offered the job but it didn’t feel right either. I went into two more stores that I was genuinely interested in and asked about my application, but I didn’t get the feeling they were hiring or that I was meant to be there. I decided to stop into the Eddie Bauer store at the Liberty Center, which is seven minutes away, and ask about my application. I love the store and their clothing. I feel comfortable there. It’s more than a brand, it’s a way of life. I support being active and enjoying nature because that’s how our spirits are refreshed and renewed.

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What happened next was very interesting. I asked the guy who was working there about the status of my application. He’s actually the store manager and gave me an interview the next day. My mom and I shop there during the day when it isn’t busy and he has helped us several times. He remembered me and my mom. He said he enjoys hiring people who embody what the brand stands for – live your adventure. That’s a lot to live up to, and yet it’s who I have become. Working there will help me to stay on this healthy path. I feel happy to have someone recognize that and give me a chance. He didn’t even have my application. I had to fill out a paper one. After the interview, which felt like I was talking with an old friend, he offered me a part-time job. I took the job! I feel good about my decision. It’s the right speed for me. Yes, I’m somewhat nervous. I look forward to learning the job and getting into a routine. I hope to help the store as much as they are helping me. This is a big step towards regaining my independence, confidence, and normalcy, all of things that I lost.

For awhile now, I’ve wanted to feel more productive in my community. Helping others improves our self-esteem by generating feelings of well-being and satisfaction. The reason health can be so tricky to achieve and maintain is because we have a mind, body and spirit to look after. If we neglect any one of these, which is so easy to do and because they’re interconnected, we’ll feel out of balance. Same goes for dating. It isn’t love that eludes us, we elude love, we stand in our own way, we mess things up because we’re afraid, we’re used to being abandoned by the people who were supposed to love us. That’s why it’s hard to receive love and not be suspicious or worried that it will be taken away. Love doesn’t leave us. Fear leaves us when we love. Fear leaves us when we laugh and play. Fear leaves us when there is a safe place of mutual respect, trust, and kindness.

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I’m sure some of you are waiting for some tasty tidbits from my dating life of which I have none to offer. I haven’t gone out with any new guys. I decided to put my energy into finding a job. That isn’t to say I’m done with dating, I just haven’t started up again. I have been back on the site. I’ve gotten a few messages some of which have potential. Although, I’d like to lower the challenge number because meeting 11 more guys seems like a lot. Or maybe I need to break it down into smaller chunks and meet 2-4 guys in the next two months. I want to be realistic and not go overboard while pushing myself to get out there. My friend, Christen, who gave me the idea, after hearing how well my first four dates went, knows me very well and wants the best for me. I’m glad she cares. Writing and working are safe activities for me because I’m in my head, yet they don’t get me the companionship my body craves. I think I’ve mastered the art of being single! There’s no shame in needing someone. Maybe the strongest thing I can do now is learn how to trust someone again.

The holiday season can be a very busy and hectic time. I should be more excited about dating and make good use of this opportunity to learn about myself. I still like one of the original four guys and even though we had rocky start, I feel blessed to know him. He makes me laugh. There’s a depth to him that matches my depth. I don’t know if that makes any sense. I know better than to put my cards on the table. Let’s just say, I feel like I’m the Bachelorette and I’ve already chosen my favorite lol. I’m going to follow my heart. What else can I do? I also realize the importance of not putting all of my eggs into one basket. Even though I enjoy being alone and have plenty to occupy my time, I wonder if I could share my life with someone down the road. I’m the type who wants a relationship, yet I don’t give a lot of chances and I’m quick to dismiss guys when I don’t feel a connection with them. I have trouble letting people love me. Dating is hard work. I keep forgetting that it could be a fun experience.

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I need to give myself credit for how far I’ve come while encouraging myself to do more. It isn’t about dating a certain number of guys, those are just guidelines to get me to see the bigger picture. Life is too precious, like my sweet baby niece, Mary, to waste it on self-doubt or negativity. I need to quit disrespecting God with my bad attitude and inability to let go of the past. I can trust where this path is taking me and I’m smart enough to know when it’s leading my astray. The best thing we can offer someone is friendship that’s the foundation, the bowl filled with ice cream. Passion is an added bonus, the whipped cream and chocolate syrup. Having the whole damn sundae is the holy grail. I won’t settle for less. I can’t settle for less. It’s what we all deserve, love that knocks us off our feet in awe and surrender and gratitude that there can be something so beautiful and amazing in this fucked up world, if only we can hold it gently and carefully. That’s why we’re here, one of the many reasons, to love like we’ve never been hurt and live like we’ve never been lost.

Have a great week,

Julie

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September

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I’ve been wanting to write this post for some time now, but I needed to let my thoughts settle and make sure I was blogging about something useful to me and everyone else. How do I know if my words are going to be useful to you? I don’t. Maybe if you’ve been out of the dating scene for awhile because of a health issue or divorce, this might resonate with you. I have to speak my mind and search my heart for clarity because confusion feels like darkness. Although, the darkness has it’s place and something to teach us as well, it’s the light that heals and brings peace of mind. It seems the last post wasn’t well received and I think it’s because I overshared about my dating adventures. I’d like to say this post is not about dating and everyone can breathe a sigh of relief, unfortunately, that’s what’s been up for me, so I’ll be sharing more revelations. I could congratulate myself because for the longest time I wouldn’t even step into the dating world.

I received some flack for not liking the nice guy who seemed great. Just because someone seems nice and great doesn’t mean they are. Everyone has issues and their own agenda. It appeared as though I don’t like the good guys and only want to chase bad boys because I like drama. If my memory serves me, I was with a really nice guy for eight years and I was very happy, so that claim doesn’t hold water. I do have to be careful because I had an alcoholic father and will always be somewhat drawn to emotionally unavailable men. Do you really think I want more drama in my life? Cancer is enough drama for two lifetimes. I have to be physically and mentally attracted to someone. I want a friend and a lover combined. I shouldn’t have to settle for anything less than that. When someone inspires me to be better, to become the best version of myself, that’s awesome. We need that rather than someone who tells us lies and has fake feelings of adoration. I’d rather sleep alone than to be with someone who doesn’t appreciate who I am and what I have to give. Yes, these are just words, it takes heroic action to even attempt such love. I’m getting ahead of myself because I’m such a hopeless romantic.

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One of the fellas, and I’ve decided to stop using names to protect everyone’s identity, contacted me again wanting to see me. He was the very first guy I went out with. I saw him a second time and met his son. I have enough information to make an informed decision, and I don’t see us in a long-term relationship together. I was attracted to him initially but the more I got to know him I realized, while we do have our health issues in common, we don’t have anything else. When I asked him what he likes about me, he couldn’t think of anything. And then he said, “Everything.” And I said, “Name one thing.” And he said, “We get along good together.” Oh no. I need more than that. I want to be with someone who likes my hair, my smile, my eyes, the way I talk and the way I walk. I’d have the same adoration that’s how love works. It’s maddening and amazing. I know it takes time to develop those feelings and you grow to like someone’s quirks, but I refuse to be someone that someone is settling for, that would break my heart. To know he’s with me only because he’s comfortable with me. How depressing is that? I deserve so much more.

I went to the FCC soccer game with my mom and friend, Christen. We had a really good time. I’m glad we have a professional soccer team in Cincinnati. It’s about time! I was telling Christen about my dating life and how I had fallen pretty hard for one of the guys and overreacted when I felt him pulling away. She gave me a challenge – I have to date 11 more guys before I can fall in love with any of them. Wow! That would make a total of 15 since I’ve met 4 guys so far. I can still see any of the original 4, I just have to keep dating new guys. My brother gave me some good advice: just be friends and get to know them, have fun rather than trying to turn it into a relationship. One of the guys gave me some good feedback – I seemed anxious.  Well, I have generalized anxiety, so it’s quite possible I would’ve seemed anxious. And since I actually liked him that might’ve increased my anxiety even more. There are worse things in life than being anxious. I think dating takes practice, learning not to fall for someone you barely know just because they seem very interesting. I wonder if making the dates shorter and simpler would make it easier for me? Probably.

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Feelings of infatuation cause the brain to release norepinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin, which is why people sometimes enjoy dating, lol. There’s nothing wrong with letting yourself fall for someone especially when they share the same interests, it’s just like heaven. I didn’t do anything wrong and I should be glad to have met someone that I actually like even if it has caused me some pain. Two things I’ve learned: don’t give your heart away until they ask for it and you can’t keep a person who doesn’t want to be kept. Something else good came out of this. The other day when I was crying, I went into the bathroom and looked in the mirror. I thought to myself, I am so beautiful, and it wasn’t an affirmation. I felt it deep down. Sure I have days where I doubt myself and my talents. Days when my body hurts and I’m tired of being strong. Days when I wonder if I’ll ever get my life back on track. Nights when I want to drink a beer, watch television, and be held by someone who cares about me. Nights when I’m grateful to be warm in my bed and protected by my angels.

I know I’m doing better than I was, even better than last year. My progress always plateaus and I find myself face-to-face with the things I’ve been avoiding like getting a part-time job. Not that the things I’ve been doing instead weren’t wonderful. I have survivor friends and a supportive community. I don’t feel so alone anymore. It’s a blessing to have people who understand. I don’t regret any of it except for the painful sunburn, swelling, and blister, that wasn’t fun! I’m the only one I know who can go to paradise and get injured. As long as I keep choosing the right path everything will be okay. I’m still too isolated which is part of the problem. I want to get a job, it’s time. It’s been time for some time now. I think it’s important for me to get a job close by before winter sets in because we get a decent amount of snow and bad weather. I’m actually looking forward to the challenge, learning something new, and making a few new friends. It’s taken me a long time to become well enough to be able to help others. Getting a job will be a huge accomplishment.

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I had to stop my mind from automatically wanting to find fault and cut myself some slack. Why don’t I have a job already? Because I was healing and writing a book. I don’t have to explain myself to anyone. The Universe provided for me. Why has it taken me so long to get better? Healing takes time. Why can’t I be like the other girls who aren’t a problem? You’re not a problem to the right person. There’s a line in a Ryan Adams song, “I used to feel so angry, now I only feel humbled.” I can relate. I was angry at God for taking my dad away. I was angry about getting cancer and the damage it did to my body. It’s taken me a long time to be humbled. I don’t want to die now. I hope the treatment worked. I have no idea. I’ll never know. And things don’t change until our attitude changes, maybe that’s why I was stuck for so long. That’s why we have friends, to remind us that some things are more beautiful for having been broken and with enough love broken things can be mended. I am stronger and wiser. Amen.

Have a great week,

Julie

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August

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This month I’m going to talk about dating and my experience thus far. I went to a speed dating event that was good practice, but ultimately didn’t turn into anything. I found the guys to be too young or not my type. I only said “Yes” to two of them and only one of them said “Yes” to me and then we never emailed each other. It was good to see that six out of the nine guys said “Yes” to me since I was nervous and thought I had made a bad impression. My mom thinks I’m being too picky and not giving them a chance. I think it’s okay to be picky because I can’t fake feelings of adoration. I also joined a popular dating site, one that I had been reluctant to go on. Between being allergic to cats and dogs which eliminates many of them, a cancer survivor which adds some degree of seriousness, I’m not getting as many messages as I probably would have. And yet, I’m getting enough to keep me busy. If nothing else, it makes me laugh, some of the messages are hilarious. You never know, the love of my life could live in my own town.

I think I got tired of meeting and falling for guys who live in other states. I’m talking about you California and Colorado! When you know or meet amazing guys, it raises the bar. I’m a deep thinker. I shouldn’t have to apologize or dumb myself down. That being said, I’m not that complicated! I’ve noticed I’m too quick to sell myself short and dating requires a lot of effort. I’m definitely learning what I like and don’t like. Regardless of whether they’re naughty or nice, they all have the same end goal, just different ways of going about it. My first date was with Charles. He’s very sweet, charming, and good looking. We had an innocent, flirtatious banter right from the beginning. Let’s just say, kissing him made up for seven years of solitude. I was like, thank you Jesus. Hallelujah! 🙂 I’m a pretty good kisser and I’ve done my fair share of kissing back in the day, so I know what I’m talking about. I definitely enjoyed the movie and dinner date.

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It would be better if I had a part-time job, something else to occupy my free time. Sometimes, I miss having a work schedule and find myself somewhat lost. I’m happy to report I’ve begun working on the next book. If you’ve been reading my blog, you’ll know this has been a constant struggle. I’ve decided to call my writing a hobby in the hopes that it will take the pressure off. Writing brings me joy and I feel lost without it. I know what writing a book takes: passion, focus, solitude, feedback, and devotion. It’s hard to be in both worlds. It’s hard to stay balanced. I nearly went insane last time. It’s takes a lot of courage to step back into the arena. Luckily, I’m writing fiction this time which is much easier and I have an awesome group of friends who motivate me to be brave. I don’t feel lonely anymore. This book has a lighter tone making for a more enjoyable read. I’m not starting from scratch, I’ve been writing bits and pieces of it over the last few years when I had breaks from the cancer book. I wasn’t sure where the story was going. I might end up doing a collection of short stories. It feels good to be in the creative mode again.

I have a feeling athletes, musicians, writers, and artists experience burnout more often than we’d care to admit. We forgot why we love what we love because it gets wrapped up in other things. We have to fall in love with the process all over again, seeing it as a gift rather than a burden. By stepping away from it, I have fresh eyes to fix the problems and through blogging, I’ve become better at writing. I find writing to be very healing and empowering. It’s something I can do on my own, no one can take it from me, and eventually it can help others. When I was recovering from cancer treatment, my mom and I went to Books-A-Million and bought a stack of books for me to read. It was the best thing in the world. I picked the fun, easy-to-read chick lit books usually with a love story because they cheered me up. I became the character in the book instead of the sick girl with cancer. That’s what I’m hoping to do for someone else. If my gift is words, and I’ve tormented myself wondering if it is, then that’s what I have to offer, that’s my purpose. Not all escapes are bad, some are quite necessary.

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It’s taken me over a year to get back into “serious” writing. I thought I was being lazy, because I still don’t give myself credit for anything, but my friend, Mike, doesn’t think I’m lazy, probably one of the best compliments I’ve received this year. I got tired of being alone which should come as no surprise, I’ve been alone for quite awhile. While it has made me stronger, I’ve almost waited too long and now appear somewhat desperate or can’t be as discerning. I’m old enough to know better, but love is like a drug and logic can go right out the window. I want to meet a man who doesn’t need me to change the core of who I am, which is impossible anyway. I want to meet a man who makes me feel calm rather than agitated, loved rather than neglected. I want to meet a man who can handle my need for freedom without getting worried. I don’t want a man who falls at my feet nor do I appreciate being ignored. I guess it doesn’t work until there is equal adoration. I want sparks and butterflies. Why wouldn’t I?

Dating is a very strange process that takes time and energy. The dating scene has changed a lot and yet it hasn’t changed at all. There are a lot of people looking for love and affection, conversation and connection. I’ve started taking my walks again which feels amazing. I went swimming at my apartment’s pool, it was very relaxing and great exercise. I’m getting my hair cut tomorrow, it needed to be trimmed a few months ago. I bought a Vera Wang dress at Kohl’s for Heather and Kyle’s wedding. It’s very pretty with a green, blue, purple, black, and white flower design. I’ve enjoyed looking for a dress, it has forced me to get in touch with my feminine side. What’s more feminine than a dress? I want to look good and be presentable at my cousin’s wedding. She looks up to me. I’ve missed two family weddings, sorry about that, and have some catching up to do!

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My haircut turned out great. I’m really happy with it. Rhea, a hairstylist at Mitchell’s salon, cut off 4 inches and gave me face-framing layers. Don’t worry, I can still put it up in a ponytail! It feels better to have a shape and style. I figured out why I wait so long between appointments – my hair fell out during chemo. I had some anxiety during the haircut. When I saw a chunk of my hair slide down the black smock and land on my lap, I tried to stay present. I grabbed the hair, tossed it on the floor, and said some encouraging things to myself. I’m getting a haircut. I feel safe with Rhea. She’s been cutting my hair for several years. It’s going to look better. We were chatting about boys and music which is a good distraction. I feel like a weight has been lifted. Why do we hold onto things that no longer serve us? Why do we get used to feeling bad? I felt tired today. I didn’t feel like doing much. I wanted to curl up on the couch and watch a movie, which is pretty hard to do without a television! I ended up taking a long walk. Fresh air + sunlight + exercise = health. If you subtract a few letters, lol.

I have had a negative experience from online dating, it was with the first guy I started talking with named T. He’s six years younger than me which might explain the difference in maturity. A few weeks ago, I was looking at profiles on my phone and accidentally liked his photo. We got to talking and then stopped when he admitted to being a pothead and wondered if I was okay with that. I’m not okay with that. I don’t like when people aren’t present with me. I don’t have anything wrong with cannabis or it being used medicinally, I’d just prefer not to have a partner who smokes weed. Somehow, we got to talking again, call it what you will, loneliness, whatever. The texting escalated pretty quickly. Let’s just say he wasn’t texting to hear about my day. And since this dating thing is part research, I continued texting thinking if nothing else it’s material for a story. And I thought he was cute.

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T asked me if I’d be interested in some nsa/fwb fun. It took me a minute to figure that one out – no strings attached/friends with benefits. Hmmm. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that, if both people agree and stay safe. Might as well get high, too. I’m just kidding. Laughter is good medicine. Is it easier to do that and walk away? Hit it and quit it, as they say. Or is it easier to form an emotional bond and actually care about the person? I think there are two mistakes we make when dating: taking the easy route or forcing things to happen, both of them kill the magic and make a mockery of love. Relationships take time, they’re frustrating and difficult, but in the end it’s worth it. When you have someone who cares about you, that’s a priceless feeling. He was pressuring me, and I felt like a coward for not accepting his offer because a part of me wanted that, why wouldn’t I? I’m human, I got needs. Then I remembered what it felt like to sleep with someone I barely knew. It didn’t feel right.

What happened though, and I should probably be glad because it kept me from getting myself into a bad situation, he admitted to there being two dogs at his house belonging to his friend. I don’t know why, but I immediately knew they were his girlfriend’s dogs. Yep, she’s out of town, doesn’t want to know about it, but she’s okay with it. Oh my. This is just baffling to me. One lie after another. We had even talked previously about how I’m allergic to dogs and he didn’t have any. That same night, I was also texting Brian who is very polite and not being overly aggressive. I told him about T and he said, “Get a hooker, if that’s your intentions.” I told T to hire a hooker and that shut him up for a minute. He kept talking and I texted him, “One day you’ll realize you’re more than your dick and then you’ll stop acting like one.”

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Once he realized he wasn’t going to get any, he switched his tactics to wanting to grab some wine. First of all, you don’t grab wine, you grab a beer. Second of all, why would I want to grab wine with you now? I told my mom about him. She said I need to screen them better or be more selective. I agree. Luckily, there are guys who won’t take advantage of my ignorance and vulnerability. Guys who respect women rather than treating them like a piece of ass. Although, I’m realizing even the “nice guys” just want to get in my pants. I must have some nice pants, lol. Maybe it’s okay to be seen in a sexual light and I’m the one who’s being too prudish. I’ve always struggled with my sex appeal, feeling more like a tomboy, and in some sense the only sex appeal I have, I have nothing to do with. I feel comfortable in my own skin and don’t try to impress others. I could spend more time on my appearance and present myself in a way that makes me feel more attractive. It only mattered that I was slender and attractive, that was his criteria. I don’t know whether to feel insulted or flattered.

I’ve noticed when I get messages from guys who seem really nice, my first instinct is to find a reason not to like them. Case in point is John. He eats clean, works out, and the conversation is great. He asked me about the koru necklace I’m wearing in my profile picture. I didn’t have an initial attraction to him and worried there wouldn’t be any sparks. Good grief, sparks can burn a house down! At first, I pushed him away saying it was the distance because he lives a bit further away, then I contacted him again and we planned a hiking date at the Cincinnati Nature Center. I had a really good time. Before y’all get too excited, I don’t think he’s the one. I know he’s not the one. He’s a great guy, but he’s not my guy. Even though we kissed a bunch of times, there weren’t any sparks. And no, it isn’t something that will come with time. I thought about that, too. He wants a relationship. He’s further along in the dating process, I’ve just gotten started. I talked with him today. He thinks the world of me, which is good for my ego, but I don’t feel the same way about him. It’s nice to be on the other side for once. I can see how silly I was to chase guys who weren’t that into me. I hope John and I keep in touch and become good friends.

Have a great week,

Julie

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My FD experience – June 2017

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I went into the First Descents rock climbing program with some preconceived notions and a good bit of trepidation. I knew it was a highly respected organization that helps cancer survivors heal by taking them into the great outdoors where they can breathe, enjoy the beauty of nature, and regain confidence. I would imagine each of us walked away with renewed hope and strength. I had never climbed nor been to the Adirondaks which made it very exciting for me. We didn’t go by our real names rather we could choose or be given a nickname. I chose Willow because that’s the name that came to me. And I love willow trees. There’s a group of them living not far from me. For the last five years, I’ve walked to see them admiring their beauty and movement. Now I realize they symbolize healing, surrender, harmony, intuition, flexibility, immortality, and feminine power.

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When I arrived at the Albany airport, feeling cool just for being in New York, I made my way to the baggage claim relieved to meet Laura, Lauren, Lindsey, and Donal, who became Scooby Snacks, Eden, Tahoe, and Woz. A young girl who looked to be in her early twenties kept walking by our group glancing at us. Luckily, she joined us, and Paige became Glance. An FD volunteer, Benchy, greeted us with warmth and excitement. Being from Cincinnati, I knew the baseball player his nickname was derived from: Johnny Bench. We piled into a white minivan and the adventure began! He drove us the two hour scenic drive to the Keene Mountain House, our home for the next five days. Glance became my roommate as we stumbled into one of the cabins, found two twin beds and took a much-needed nap before dinner. Both of us had been up late the night before packing and worrying. She was packing, I was worrying! Once I got there, I knew I had made the right decision, being in the mountains felt refreshing and the view was breathtaking.

keene mountain housethe view adirondaks

In hindsight, taking an indoor climbing class to learn the basics might’ve eased my mind and better prepared me. I relied on my natural athletic ability and caught on fairly quickly. To be honest, Alpine had to go up with me the first time, I was that scared. After that, I had several decent climbs where I felt like I was getting the hang of it, no pun intended! When my fear of heights kicked in during the multi-pitch climb, I stayed focused, prayed to God, and said my affirmations. Luckily, Tahoe was following me, Woz was climbing next to me, and the group was cheering me on from below. I didn’t want to let them down! Sugar, one of the guides, eased the tension with jokes like, “Today’s my first day! A temp agency sent me.” We also learned how to belay and rappel down. Rock climbing shoes have rubber soles which help your feet grip the rocks. I make it look easy, lol!

me climbing fd

But I’m skipping ahead…the rest of the survivors arrived later that evening and I met: Jocelyn (Jack), Tatiana (TBD), Rachael (Thrifty), Jenny (Kini), Betty (Fifi), and Chris (Data). Yes, it was intimidating to meet new people and rock climb with them. They were really easy to get along with, survivors know how to have a good time, and the Alpine Endeavors guides were awesome teachers. Each morning, we ate breakfast and packed a lunch to take with us. I enjoyed the egg salad wrap, fruit, and trail mix. Most days we were gone from 9am-4pm. When we got back, we showered, rested, and got ready for dinner. Depending on the weather, we had a campfire inside or outside. I had forgotten how much I enjoy a campfire. It takes me back to my childhood when my family used to go camping and my dad would build us a fire each night. Nature heals the soul and humbles the ego.

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We dodged rain all week. I’m glad I packed a wind breaker. The last day, we went for a hike up to the Baxter Mountain Summit. At this point, my legs were nearly jello. I thought I wouldn’t make it up to the top, but I’m glad I did. The highest climb has the best view. As oxygen flooded my cells, I realized this is how you heal cancer with fresh air and exercise, sunlight and laughter. Not to mention, we were eating a plant-based whole foods diet, thanks to Vagetti and Mayor. There were no refined sugars and yet everything tasted delicious. Some of the highlights for me were the: pancakes, chicken pot pie, pad Thai, fish tacos, veggie lasagna, root bear float, strawberry shortcake, and chocolate mousse. I was in food heaven. We had very little dairy, meat, or caffeine. My mind was thinking clearly almost euphorically and eating healthy meals gave me energy to climb.

willow rock climbing

Mind you, it wasn’t all roses, there were mosquitoes to contend with, clouds of bug spray, squat peeing behind trees, which I got pretty good at, and the realization that even though we had done a lot of healing there, we would return home and have to keep up on the promises we had made. After the final hike, we went into town to do some souvenir shopping. It was then that I realized the string and rock (FD rituals) we had been given meant more to me than anything I could buy in those shops. Although, I did manage to buy a souvenir t-shirt and moose magnet. I’ll always think fondly of my FD experience and recommend it to new survivors. Since arriving home, I’m inspired to continue taking courageous action. I’ve signed up for speed dating, an indoor soccer team, and applied for a part-time job at a rock climbing gym near me. I can get unstuck, I can find my way.

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Cancer takes away our power and makes us mistrust our body. To see myself and the other survivors climbing the crag day after day was very inspiring. Just when I was about to give up, I’d find a handhold or foothold and be able to climb just a little bit higher. Life’s like that. My mom asked, “Weren’t they tired?” No, cancer survivors are the strongest tribe alive much like the Samurai. And if they were, they didn’t show it. We’ll always have something to prove. Is that a good thing? I don’t know. When I look back, I wish I had climbed a few more times. My rock revelation: I need to start making my own decisions. God knows, I’m old enough! It’s when I don’t trust my inner knowing that I lose my way. At the campfires, we shared our stories and felt understood maybe for the first time since being diagnosed. When I sit in a circle of survivors, I can feel the pain and strength. It’s not a circle I ever thought I’d be in and it took me a long time to join the circle. I just hit my eight year anniversary! I’m thankful for the tears, laughter, and dancing – those are the true remedies.

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Big thanks to the awesome FD staff: Benchy, Scrawny, Rut-Roh, Vagetti, Mayor, Minguyver, and Ama D. As well as the Alpine Endeavors staff: Alpine, Jugs, Grins, and Sugar. It was more than a job to them – they truly cared about us, nourished us, and treated us with loving kindness. They created an environment where we felt safe to be ourselves, have fun, and heal. They treated us with respect and admiration. They weren’t afraid of our tears or laughter. It’s easy for survivors to minimize what we go through, what we’ve been through, because we have to shrug it off and be brave. When I returned home, I felt different like I had changed for the better. I stood a little taller and breathed more deeply. I had to laugh at myself when something silly bothered me or seemed difficult. You just climbed a mountain, I reminded myself, and no one can take that away from you.

glance

My roommate, Glance, was quite younger than me, which forced me to step up and be the responsible one. Although it turns out, I’m the lenient mom. I let her sleep in too late! I can’t imagine being diagnosed in my twenties. I was 31 and that was devastating enough. After treatment, I didn’t think I’d ever date again or have a guy find me attractive. I felt sick and damaged. I thought God was punishing me, and I was very angry about the lingering pain and fatigue. I lost interest in the things that used to bring me joy. Getting cancer felt like a weakness, but it has made me stronger. Strength is letting people help me. Strength is letting people love me. The Universe brought each one of us there because healing doesn’t happen in isolation. The magic happens when we let our guards down and become vulnerable. I have a feeling I wasn’t the only one feeling stuck or depressed upon arrival. The key is to keep the momentum going. What brings you joy? Go and do that. You’ll find your way.

FD bracelet

FD lead staff Rut-Roh, who could be goofy one minute and a philosopher the next, led a Baci ceremony which was new to me and very cool. I have a piece of string tied around my wrist that has more meaning and value than almost all of my jewelry combined. My three figure eight knots represent: bravery, determination, and persistence. Sugar chose those three adjectives to describe me. I chose sense of humor, outgoing, and kindness for his knots. The figure eight knot is the one we used for tying the rope into our harness, so it also reminds us of the climb. I’m not always brave, determined, or persistent, no one is, but I have been in the past and I can be again. There’s strength in knowing that. My cancer experience has given me much sadness, but it’s also given me new friends and fun adventures. I can let go of the grief, anger, and confusion. And each time they pop back up, I will let them go again. Healing isn’t about being perfect, fearless, and having the right answer. Healing requires compassion, courage, and humility. We practice forgiveness because it sets us free.

Have a great week,

Julie

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June

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I was planning to write the June blog about my experience rock climbing with First Descents, an organization that takes cancer survivors on outdoor adventures, since it’s at the end of the month, I’m going to make that the topic of my July blog. I’m excited about going. I’m also nervous because I’ve never been rock climbing before. It looks like fun, on the other hand, I’m thinking, what have I gotten myself into? I’m probably going to be exhausted. I have a minor fear of heights. It’s easy to forget my original intention: meet other survivors, gain confidence, and experience healing. We’ll be in the Adirondack Park which is cooler weather, and I will pack accordingly. I’ve never been to the state of New York so that will be interesting.

Recently, I realized something important, I’ve been disappointing myself in little ways. I’m not getting enough exercise, I’m still struggling to clean up my diet, and I haven’t found a part-time job. I guess being honest is the first step towards making changes. I started feeling like the world was reflecting that back to me. I began to experience minor disappointments in my outer world. I was swinging too high and inevitable crashed. I think life is about finding the middle path: balanced, stable, happy, and grounded. I need to sleep, eat, move, create, laugh, and learn. I’m done waiting for Prince Charming. He isn’t coming. I have to rescue myself, that’s the modern day fairy tale, that’s when love doesn’t feel burdened.

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Something happened that had me on the verge of tears for three days. I invited someone to my cousin’s wedding in August and he declined. Even though he let me down easy, rejection is painful, and if anyone tells you differently, they’re lying. I know he cares about me and wasn’t trying to hurt my feelings, nevertheless, my heart and self-esteem were crushed. Because I’m so sensitive, it put me in a very dark place emotionally. I promptly started up my affirmation practice because that’s the best way I know how to get my thoughts back on track and find the light. I still feel silly talking about affirmations, like everyone is naturally optimistic and filled with self-love, doubtful. For me, it takes practice because I can be very hard on myself.

About a week later, I was out shopping for some hiking gear, feeling quite proud of myself for getting through it and not messaging him. Pain is a teacher, it’s teaching me to stop touching that burner. I had the feeling that I need to move on and start talking with other guys. The next thing I knew, I got my chance, I struck up a conversation with a guy who was working at the store. Feeling apprehensive about rock climbing, I asked him if he’d ever been. That’s all I’m going to say, I’ve already chased one guy away by writing about him in my blog. Regardless of whether we continue talking, and I hope we do, the experience showed me there are other men, and I don’t have to be alone.

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Something else about this month, it’s my cancer anniversary. I was diagnosed on June 5, 2009. It’s been eight years. I’m writing a short blog this month. I can do whatever I put my mind to, that’s what we learn as children and forget as we grow up, which reminds me, I’m about to be an aunt again. My sister-in-law, Kristine, is due the 4th of July, the doctor said she could be ten days early. Children are quite magical, they are a blessing. God has a plan for each of us, it’s our soul’s purpose, our mission this lifetime. It’s when we stop listening or want what isn’t ours that we cause ourselves unnecessary agony. Life shouldn’t be a struggle. Life can be joyful and adventurous. Hurt doesn’t heal hurt. Love heals the hurt. I’m thankful for the lesson. I’m thankful for my friendships. I continue to become stronger and wiser.

Have a safe and happy summer,

Julie

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May – Aloha!

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Before I talk about my amazing experience with Athletes for Cancer, who recently changed their name to Project Koru, I need to bring you up-to-date. Speaking of dates, I did not go out with J. He sent me a text message saying he was no longer interested in pursuing a potential relationship. He didn’t give me any explanation. I have a feeling it’s because I talked about him in the previous blog. I’ve learned my lesson there. I’m honest to a fault which sometimes works against me. Oh well, there are plenty of fish in the sea. I refuse to censor myself on my own blog. This is a place where I can express myself and find healing. I want to be with someone who appreciates my personality and finds it endearing. The Dayton Book Expo (see picture below) went really well. I met a bunch of authors and talked with several survivors. At the risk of sounding like a salesperson, I had never developed a short pitch to describe my book. I have since realized it’s okay to have one and quite necessary for a book fair.

dayton book fair 2017

The day before I left for Maui, I was completely terrified, which seems silly now since I was flying to paradise! I had never flown that far away from home. On the way there, I had three flights, 14 hours of travel. On the way back, I only had two flights, 11 hours of travel. The flights weren’t bad after all. I read a book, slept, listened to music, and watched a few television shows. I made the mistake of getting a smoothie instead of a turkey sandwich before my long flight and then I was grumpy upon arrival. My mom and brother gave me pep talks over the phone. I think it was fear of the unknown, leaving my comfort zone, and not wanting to feel out of control. Ironically, that was exactly what I needed. I was feeling stuck and isolated here. I definitely got unstuck and have become part of a fun community. I’m going to continue to create a life filled with joy, meaning, and purpose.

camp koru path

Once I got to Maui and met the counselors and survivors, I instantly relaxed and knew I had made the right decision. Most of my worries went away and I was able to be in the present moment. The funny thing about camping, you become very resourceful very quickly. The flashlight I wasn’t even sure why I was bringing, became my best friend at night when walking to the bathroom. It was fun to light the path and make sure I wasn’t stepping on a critter, that is, a giant cockroach, centipede, or cute lizard. It also taught me that being clean isn’t the most important thing in the world and towards the end of the week I didn’t even mind getting into bed with dirty feet. There’s something soothing about being on the beach and listening to the sound of the waves. I will never forget that sound. It was so awesome. Once I made friends with the sand and the heat, I had a good time. The coconut water and shave ice were very refreshing.

maui 2017

What would I have done differently? I would apply a generous amount of sunscreen on my legs the first day. I don’t have a good excuse. What would’ve taken me under two minutes to apply, has cost me about two weeks of pain and annoyance. I learned my lesson. Lots of lesson learning this month. Also, I would’ve packed some cooler clothing: a swimsuit coverup, sundress, and tank top. I didn’t have anything cute to wear on the last night when we had the ohana ceremony and that was a bummer. While some of them were working on their tans, I was trying not to get burnt to a crisp! Now, I feel more than ready to hop into my apartment’s pool, it’s salt water not chlorine, when it opens in a few weeks. And I will be using my sunscreen!

I also need to mention my roommates, Tidal and Monarch, who were the perfect cabin mates for me. They were very understanding when I was still up folding my clothes, which is something that soothes me and makes me feel in control. It definitely put things in perspective, everyone else was in bed going to sleep and I was organizing my stuff! We had such busy days that I needed all the rest I could get. It was neat to see how they could throw their stuff in their suitcase and everything didn’t have to be perfect. I also noticed they were able to take a quick shower, whereas, I felt better waiting until the evening when I wouldn’t be rushed. Tidal also helped me with trying to do things faster, even saying something like: 3, 2, 1, Go! What we noticed is that I overthink things instead of just performing the task. I worried about having a schedule and being ready on time, but it actually helped me by forcing me to think quicker and move faster.

surfing 2017

How did I get my power name? This is a good story. My mom drove me to the airport on the morning of my departure. It was pouring rain and I was half asleep. Surprisingly, my nerves had calmed down and I was getting really excited. I started thinking about what my power name should be and how we were going to have to share it when we got there. The next thing I knew, a white truck passed by with a small picture of a bird and the word LARK written below it. I looked over at my mom and said, “Well, there’s my power name.” I thought it sounded really strong and cool. I’m glad the name came to me organically and ripe with symbolism. Birds represent leaving the nest and being brave. They trust their wings to carry them. It’s how tiger girl gets out of the tree. She doesn’t go back down the way she came, she flies! She becomes Lark – a strong, powerful woman. Woohoo! 🙂

During Camp Koru, I experienced healing on many levels. I had several cathartic moments where I was able to release grief, pain, and anger, the old survivor baggage that was weighing me down. I enjoyed surfing and standup paddle boarding. I’m confident in my athletic ability, talent I was given at birth, and being active makes me feel good about myself. I enjoyed the time I spent in the water learning the two awesome sports. What was even more amazing, I got to learn them with my new group of friends. From the moment I got there, I felt a special bond with them that I have never felt with anyone else before. I would imagine that’s how war veterans or alcoholics feel when they go to a support group. It was like nothing had to be said. They just knew. They had been through the same hell. They had to fight. I felt accepted and supported from the moment I got there.

tenacity award

I won the Tenacity award (see picture above) one night at the camp fire, Aurora presented it to me. And then the next day was really rough, my self-doubt came back with a vengeance and the blister was bothering me. I was really looking forward to hiking to the waterfall, but the hike proved to be quite difficult. It was muddy and the rocks were very slippery. Not to mention my left foot had swollen to three times its size and I was carrying a beach bag on my right side, a back pack would’ve been much better. I was basically useless on both sides and kept slipping off of the rocks. It was pretty embarrassing. And yet, the blister didn’t pop. Even my blister is tough! I won’t insert the picture here, but let me tell you, it was a doozy. I think I was a bit exhausted, too. I was walking faster than my feet would carry me. I had hit my happiness threshold and found myself running from an experience that I dearly wanted but couldn’t handle at the time.

maui beach

Another thing worth mentioning is the beauty of Maui; it’s breathtaking, remarkable, and humbling. I’ve seen my share of mountains from Colorado to Utah to Montana and even the wonderful Great Smoky Mountains. But the mountains in Hawaii have a presence to them, they are living and breathing and filled with spirit. The natives are also filled with this aloha spirit, I think it comes from living on the island and being surrounded by peace and love. It’s simply amazing! 🙂 I had no idea how special it is there. So, it’s not surprising that a few days ago, I felt completely depressed to be back here. I think it’s pretty normal to come down from a high like that. There aren’t too many places that can equal the beauty of Maui. Surprisingly, I didn’t take many photos. Bear took photos of everyone from Camp Koru 29 which I re-posted on my brand new Facebook page. Here’s the link: https://www.facebook.com/julie.knose.79

I will be forever grateful for my experience and I don’t regret any of it. Well, maybe the sunburn and blister! Although, pain is a teacher. It forced me to say the two words I rarely say or said, “It hurts.” I’m glad it’s healing and no longer hurting me. I’m a lucky girl. Lucky to have met an amazing group of friends. We went through hell and we deserve every bit of joy and happiness. I am proud to be a survivor, if it means standing in their company. We survived the darkness so that we can live in the light. That’s our job. That’s all we have to do. No stress. No pressure. Just being you is enough. Just living is enough. Just reaching out is enough. God gives us opportunities like these to heal and play and laugh. Life isn’t without pain, yet having friends who understand makes the pain go away. That’s why a cancer survivor camp is the most awesome thing in the world. We aren’t alone, we have each other, and being loved is the best feeling in the world.

Have a great week,

Julie aka Lark 🙂

Oh what the hell, the blister was pretty remarkable!!

the maui blister