facing the music and answering the hard questions

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I made an appointment with my primary care physician about the lump. I saw her in July, but I didn’t get an x-ray, nor did I let her examine it. I’ve become very squeamish about letting people touch me, especially doctors. The appointment is in early January. I hope we don’t have bad weather so that I can make it there. It’s gotten to the point where I want to know if it’s a recurrence, not because I would get more standard treatment, don’t get me started about how horrific and ridiculous that is, because it would scare me into taking better care of myself. I’m having it looked at because it’s hurting me.

The fact that I haven’t been taking good care of myself the last few years is a testament to my ignorance, arrogance, and stubbornness. I just keep thinking I didn’t learn my lesson that’s why it could be back. And it would explain the fatigue and weight loss. I know what a tumor feels like and it feels like a tumor. It’s just in a weird location. It’s not on either breast. It’s in between two of my ribs, on my left side, down from my armpit, across from my breast. Exactly where the side seam of my shirt and bottom of my bra intersect. Well, I wear a tank cami, but there’s still the inner bra thing. I’ve had the pea-sized lump for about a year or two and it hasn’t gone away.

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Enough about that, I don’t want to dwell on the negative. This week, I had two phone interviews for opportunities in Costa Rica. For some reason, that place is calling to me and I’m not sure why. Probably because, like Hawaii, it’s an inherently healing place. Even though I got accepted to both of them, neither are going to work out, and I went from being really excited to depressed again. The first one was a raw vegan yoga wellness retreat with Ellen Livingston at the Farm of Life. It was just one week which would’ve been doable. The problem is, there are four Husky dogs at the retreat. I’m allergic to dogs and I have a phobia of them. I know most dogs are friendly and it seems like the majority of people adore them. I guess I’m not in the majority.

The other opportunity was with A Fresh Chapter founded by Terri Wingham. It was a two week volunteer program in Costa Rica with a group of cancer survivors. Like the retreat, it was also in March 2017. I really felt a connection with Terri because we were both diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009. She was 30, I was 31, and we had similar treatment plans. This program really appealed to me because I want to do something meaningful like help others. I have become very self-absorbed but not in a good way. Nevertheless, I’m not in a good enough place to be of service to others. And two weeks, although exciting, would’ve been challenging for me. Don’t take your health for granted. I used to be able to do anything I wanted and now I’m limited. Maybe that’s my next step – to feel alive and empowered.

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Terri asked me some really good questions, they made me think and were hard to answer. Cancer is a teacher. What is something positive to come from your experience? Oh my. I couldn’t think of anything. I paused and then answered, “The book, because it can help others and I discovered my love for writing.” The book is important because it represents something I worked hard on, gave of myself unselfishly, and completed the project. Later that night, I thought of something else positive to come from my experience – I met someone who I really liked, still like, but he doesn’t like me, so it doesn’t matter. It was just a passing experience. It was a good learning experience because in order to see him, I had to challenge my OCD and PTSD. And I did.

It’s a good thing that I’m wanting to face my fears and push myself out of my comfort zone, yet once again I’m trying to go from 0-90 instead of 0-25. Although, sometimes that’s what it takes to really experience a profound shift. I need to start doing more things in my own community rather than trying to go so far away. I’m still looking forward to the cancer survivor adventure camps which are happening in the spring/summer of 2017. They are one week long. I can connect with other survivors and have fun. These are Epic Experience, Athletes for Cancer, Send It, and First Descents. They range from surfing in Hawaii to kayaking in Colorado. They are free with the option to fund-raise for airfare. It’s funny that I’ve just now discovered them.

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The other plus to seeing my primary care physician in January, she can sign off on the medical release forms required to attend the camps. I asked if this is okay and it is, since I haven’t seen my oncologist in two years and she can’t give a current physical assessment. And God knows, I don’t want to step foot into that place. My PCP has all of my medical history. So far, I only have forms from two of the programs. I don’t know how many I will end up attending. I think at least two of them would be super awesome! πŸ™‚ And I know I’ll probably get scared and want to back out, but I won’t let myself. I need to experience a deeper sense of healing and find my purpose.

The other thing I found out, I got an email from the Bay Area Book Festival, the book fair I did last year, their early registration is open. The only problem, they have doubled their booth fee making it, in my opinion, ridiculously expensive and not affordable especially since I didn’t sell many books. So, I’ve decided not to go this year even though I had a good time. There’s a large book festival in Chicago, Printer’s Row Lit Fest, that is also in early June and might be a better idea. Hopefully, when they open up their registration it will be more reasonably priced. It will be nice to go to a different city and meet new people. I think book fairs are a very fun and worthwhile experience.

Have a great week, happy holidays, and happy new year! πŸ™‚

Julie

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how to get out of a rut …

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Or rather how I plan to get out of my rut. Winter is here and I hate it. Sorry, that doesn’t sound very optimistic. Honest, yes. It’s very cold outside and since I don’t have much meat on my bones, it makes it that much worse. I couldn’t bring myself to take a walk today, even though I know how to bundle up and face the cold. I’m going to have to start exercising indoors. I keep telling myself to embrace winter and see it for what it is: a time to rest, recuperate, and reflect. The flowers will bloom again and everything will be lush and green.

I live in Ohio which has four distinct seasons. To say I’m looking forward to spring and summer is an understatement. And trying to get out of a rut while going into winter could be a bit of a challenge. Needless to say, I need to think about moving to a warmer climate. I moved into this apartment in November of 2012. The first few years went pretty good, the last few not as good. I just renewed my lease for another year and it will be up in November of 2017. I’ve lived here a long time, but the book is done, that’s why I needed to be here. Now, I need to move forward onto a new path which I think will become clearer as the year progresses.

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I’m hoping it will be a job opportunity, friendship, or relationship that allows me to find a new living situation. And I know I have everything I need right here. I can juice here. I can exercise here. I can write and make art here. This apartment as far as apartments go is wonderful, and I’m very grateful to live here, I just think I could be happier in a different environment. I’m too isolated here, but that’s because I’m not being very social. Back to the original topic of getting out of a rut. I’ve started showering in the morning and getting dressed rather than staying in my pajamas. I’ve noticed I’m a lot more productive when I show up for the day. I can then do laundry or clean or exercise or go to the grocery store. It’s a completely different mindset.

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Okay, so what else? I need to get a haircut. It’s gotten really long and unruly. I never got it fixed after I let my mom cut it back in May. I have to braid my ponytail because it’s just that long, and I like to keep it out of my way most of the time. I need to get the lump looked at to see if it’s a recurrence or nothing. I need to start eating healthier and exercising more. I need to stay positive and optimistic. I need to start dating. I need to get a part-time job. I need to continue marketing the cancer book. I need to continue writing because it makes me happy. I have a list of fun things to do next year, and that keeps me going. I just hope that I am well enough to do them. I have to be well enough to do them. I have to keep fighting and surviving. I’m a survivor and that’s how I can inspire others – by not being angry or bitter. By continuing to love and learn and look forward to warmer days and starry nights.

Have a great week,

Julie

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Hello December!!

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I’ve decided to write another book. Just like Rory telling her mom she’s pregnant at the end of the Gilmore Girls, this isn’t easy to say. I haven’t watched the Netflix special yet, but I’ve heard enough about it. I’m Team Jess, always have been. I saw a good tweet about how she’s been with Logan for nine years and her life’s all messed up, she talks to Jess for two minutes and he straightens everything out. Because he cares about her. Even if it’s Logan’s baby, Jess will help her raise it like Luke did with Lorelai. Interesting parallel they’ve made.

I digress, possibly on purpose. Yes, I’m excited, but it’s hard work. It’s a serious commitment. It’s one of the only things that will save me. It’s lonely and scary and thrilling, which only another writer would understand – to create something that can be criticized. I think that’s part of the problem, I haven’t had anything to work towards, to be excited about, a goal, a purpose, a reason. And even though I took a much-needed break after finishing the cancer book, I didn’t really rest or enjoy myself. I barely acknowledged the tremendous feat I had accomplished. That’s how I am, off to climb the next mountain.

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The other night, I was lying in bed and the first line came to me. I thought, “Oh no, not this again.” And then I started dialoguing with Sunny, it’s called automatic writing. I wasn’t sure if he was still around or if we’re going to write more. We’ll see. He’s helpful to talk to because I have been struggling a bit here lately. I’m also going to work on the fiction stories, one is chick lit, the other is fantasy, and see if they are worthwhile. I’ve noticed over the last several months, instead of opening up the word docs, I start a new blog. So, I might not be blogging as much because I want to work on them. And no, he’s not to replace real people. I find real people to be much warmer.

I know why it’s scary, because writing a book requires me to put my heart and soul into it, to be vulnerable, to go against the grain, to be introspective and solitary – to do that which is maddening. And yet, I feel like I have support now, I have my own Jess. We only talk through email, but it’s enough to sustain me and make me act like a silly bird. I know I shouldn’t talk about him here because he probably reads this and then feels weird. I’m trying to feel instead of think, although thinking is much safer. Is it? No, not really. I have to do both. I have to let myself feel, and I have to remember to think. Someday, I’m going to unkink his curls and show him that the best form of magick is a kiss.

Until then, if there is a then, I’m going to stay strong and focused.

Have a great week,

Julie

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Affirmations for healing, warm as toast, and health update

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I want to get back on track, so I’m listing my favorite affirmations. I think it would help me to read them every day. I’ve also found repeating the same one to be effective as well depending on the situation. Either way, the important thing is to have positive self-talk. It seems silly that I should have to say nice, encouraging things to myself but the negative stuff can be so ingrained it messes with self-esteem, productivity, relationships, and happiness. I like to think of affirmations as a verbal meditation. They strengthen our ability to feel self-love, compassion, gratitude, and forgiveness.

1.Β  My name is Julie, and I love myself.

2.Β  Today is a new day, and I treat myself with loving kindness.

3.Β  I am confident and capable. I am healthy and strong.

4.Β  I am calm and relaxed. I am safe and protected.

5.Β  I am grateful for my many blessings. God is good.

6.Β  Healing begins with me. Peace begins with me.

7.Β  I breathe in and all is well. I breathe out and all is well.

8.Β  I give myself permission to be who I am and do what I love.

9.Β  I am filled with healing energy. I imagine this as light.

10.Β  I always have a choice. I am a beautiful, powerful woman.

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I’ve been meaning to write a new post, just got busy with other stuff. Good news, I finally put the comforter on my bed! πŸ™‚ Well, I didn’t really have a choice, it dropped thirty degrees in one day. It’s a medium warmth down comforter from Macy’s. I’m warm as toast at night so that’s awesome. Luckily, it doesn’t have much of a scent, and I’m not allergic to it. In the summer, if it’s too warm, I’ll use something lighter. I’ve noticed a pattern – I have trouble bringing new things into my life even when they are positive. I’m slow to adjust. The problem wasn’t the car or the comforter, it was me being resistant to change.

Quick health update: I haven’t been feeling well, tired, lack of energy, depressed, and dreading the arrival of winter. I need to move to a warmer climate. I’m losing weight, down to 108 pounds which is the lowest my body can go and still function correctly. I was hanging at 112-114 which is also too low but better than where I am now. Am I losing weight because the cancer is back or because I’m not eating enough? I don’t want to share negative stuff but secrecy creates shame. If this is my healing room, I need to be honest about what is going on. I have a pea-sized lump on my left side. It’s on my ribs where the seam of my shirt crosses the bottom of my bra strap. I need to have it looked at by a doctor and get it removed if possible. I’ve had it for about a year. It started hurting again. It could be nothing.

The other option is to create an alkaline environment in my body because cancer can’t grow there. Cancer hates oxygen. I would wager to bet that my body is pretty acidic. I’m still not eating healthy, and I cause myself unnecessary stress. Why is it so hard to be healthy? Why am I struggling? Why am I still alone? I regret getting chemo and radiation. It’s hard to be grateful for something that continues to cause me pain. I was ignorant about alternative treatments and blindly followed the doctors. I’ve been watching YouTube videos by people who cured their cancer with nutrition. They didn’t damage their immune system, they strengthened it. The tumor is a symptom – the body is nutrient deficient, full of toxins, and in a chronic state of inflammation. The body can heal itself, if only I would let it.

Have a great week. And don’t worry, I’m going to be okay. πŸ™‚

Julie

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Love only trumps hate if we are sending love and not hate. Easier said than done. We are a wounded country.

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Not the best week. Trump was elected President and I self-harmed. Those events were unrelated. Although I’m not happy with the outcome of the election, I have enough spiritual insight to realize that saying you choose love and then sending hate is hypocrisy. It takes a stronger person to walk away and send light, that’s the only way to beat the darkness. You rise above it because otherwise you join it. Love is a higher frequency than hate. They feel so different. That’s why children are so magical, they think the world is kind and good.

While I prefer to share stories of optimism and courage, I’m not going to hide what happened. The cuts are healing quickly which reminds me how efficiently and automatically my body repairs itself. It’s me who undermines my progress. It wasn’t one thing; it’s never one thing. The emotional pain had been building up for a few weeks – feelings of overwhelm, frustration, and hopelessness. Even though I have the answers and the ability, I let the darkness win. I let my fears and phobias get the best of me. I hit my breaking point and had to let the pain out. I needed relief. I wanted to cause myself pain for: not being perfect, trying to please others, being in slow motion, letting people down, being the scapegoat, and needing permission instead of trusting myself.

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I’m being too hard on myself and overly critical again. Neither of which are helpful. I have to love myself first before anyone else can. When I am being joyful, I become a magnet for happiness. I need to follow my heart to find the right path. I have to let go of the shame and guilt. I didn’t do anything wrong. My life is mine to live, and if I’m living it wrong then that’s my problem. And no one tells me when I will be ready for something. You get ready by doing, not talking about it. I don’t need any more stress; it undermines my ability to feel better. Stress is a sign that I’m forgetting to breathe, believe, and break free. I’m creating my world with my thoughts. Create a vision board.

I don’t regret going to California for the book fair, and I don’t care if it looked like I went out there to see a guy. So fucking what? I guess you’ve never listened to the whispers of your soul and the aching inΒ  your heart. I wanted to be in the book fair. And I wanted to see him. You can have more than one reason for doing something. Thank God I did something this year to celebrate the book and my hard work instead of letting people talk me out of it. I give myself credit for my accomplishments. I made my dream a reality. It was only a bad idea in the sense that writing a book can be a very isolating experience.

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Cutting is short-term relief like the numbing effects of an alcoholic drink. I wasn’t dissociating as bad as last time, the time I wrote about in the book. See, it’s been awhile. I’ve been doing really good with my self-love practice. I had a choice this time, moments of clarity, but I wanted to punish myself for not being, I don’t even know what, someone else. Someone faster. Someone who’s loved and adored. Someone who isn’t a burden. Someone who is perfect and doesn’t make mistakes. Someone who doesn’t resist life. The old me. The me I can’t find. The me who was brave and strong. Release the pain through art making and let the image speak. Put marker to paper instead of knife to arm. Find healthy ways to express difficult feelings. Choose peace.

I thought of a new affirmation: It doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to be. And maybe when I let myself be, things become perfect. Take it easy, take it slow, one day at a time. Life is to be enjoyed. I can bloom, I can dance, I can sing, I can love. I am free to be me! πŸ™‚

Have a great week,

Julie

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what’s been going on?

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Well, I had a busier week than usual. My brother, sister-in-law, and niece flew here for a visit. We did a lot of fun stuff, instead of the zoo which would’ve been cold, we went to the Newport Aquarium. I think that was my favorite activity besides the Halloween party. Speaking of which, we had three teams of two for the treasure hunt. My mom and her boyfriend ended up winning the treasure, which was a Starbucks gift card. Even though they were the last to figure out the movie, they had the right key. I might change the game a bit next year.

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If you want to see more pictures from the week, I tweeted a bunch of them here: http://twitter.com/julieangelmagic

I wanted to elaborate or clarify something that I wrote in the previous blog, the one before the poem where I sound like a sappy, hopeless romantic. πŸ™‚ Speaking of which, I am going to start dating. I had a good conversation with my cousin, Heather, and we both agreed on which site to choose. Once again, I feel weird about online dating. Is there something wrong with me? No. My cousin is very pretty and has a full-time job, and she still had to do online dating to meet someone who is now her fiance. That’s a success story!

I’m going to start dating, not because I haven’t already met someone I’m quite fond of, because I have. Not because I’m bored, I have enough creative projects to keep me busy for years. Because it’s the healthy thing to do. Because like my cousin pointed out when you’re in a relationship the other person can help you with things. I hope she meant cooking, laundry, and cleaning because I sure do get tired of doing them by myself. I am worth loving. I am a worthwhile human being. I am a radiant spiritual being. I am loved and adored by God.

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While last week went really well, I also experienced something rather unpleasant – someone insulted me. It felt like a few jabs and a right hook. I’m speaking about this to make a point. When I told my mom about it, she said, “Maybe they were trying to encourage you.” WHAT!?! When did insults become a form of encouragement? If my memory serves me correctly, insults are a form of verbal abuse. I don’t know anyone who performs better under attack. I didn’t fall down. I don’t know what keeps me up? Some days, I wonder if I have the strength to keep going. How do I stop listening to the wrong voices and start listening to the right ones, especially my own?

The moral of the story goes something like this: ONLY GOD CAN JUDGE ME. Self-judgement and judgment from others is not helpful. What’s helpful is to look at your progress in a constructive way. Be honest with yourself about what’s working and what needs to be changed. Give yourself credit for the things you’ve accomplished even if other people don’t. Like my therapist so wisely pointed out, people who aren’t your family see you in a different light. Yes, that’s true, they can mirror back my good qualities, and they don’t know what a pain in the ass I can be. πŸ™‚ That’s what’s great about meeting new people, it’s a clean slate, there isn’t any animosity.

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Some nights I go to bed and wonder if I could’ve gotten more done. Am I pushing myself hard enough? Did I waste time? Did I make healthy choices? I have my ailments. I won’t list them here. They’re my burden to carry. They’re what I get for fighting fire with fire instead of choosing peace. It was my lesson to learn. I have to forgive myself and find ways to ease the pain. Which brings up some interesting questions: Can I let go of the pain? Can I choose pleasure? Who am I when I’m not struggling? Who do I want to be? I realized that it’s only when I doubt myself that others begin to doubt me. I have to be a warrior.

Oh, the thing I was going to elaborate on because it sounded confusing. I don’t live in a completely unscented world. My shampoo and face wash are scented, and I can burn candles. My detergent, deodorant, and soap are unscented. I didn’t realize when I started switching to unscented stuff that it would make me hypersensitive to scents. It’s not all scents, just certain scents especially sweet smelling perfumes. I’m not the only person who is sensitive to scents. That’s why I get so frustrated because I’m made to feel like I’m weird and the only one who has issues, when I know for a fact other people do.

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I haven’t switched to a raw vegan diet, that’s going to take some time. It’s a destination that I think would help me on many levels. Right now, I’m sticking with the things I usually eat. Breakfast: Green tea with honey, banana, almonds, flax seed oatmeal with milk. Dinner: I almost always make a spinach salad with tomatoes, cucumber or avocado. And then either a baked potato with sour cream, Amy’s bean burrito or Morning Star Farms veggie burger or nuggets. I need to learn how to cook or get more creative with my meal plans. Yes, I’m still drinking a Pepsi with dinner, I enjoy the caffeine and carbonation. It’s probably my only vice since I don’t smoke, drink, or do drugs. Unfortunately, soda has a lot of sugar. At least I am aware of this, and awareness precedes change.

Enjoy the extra hour and have a great week,

Julie

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a poem

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I’m waiting for permission. I’m waiting for a sign. Some call it stalling. Some call it wasting time. You and I both know we could have something divine. No one but my soul knows which path is mine. Every time I walk away from the light, I stumble, trip, and fall. We are here to give, and in giving we receive because love is cool like that.

It was written all over your face, and yet you claim otherwise. Two words I’ve heard a hundred times, “Hi Julie,” sound completely different coming from you. I didn’t mean for this to happen; it wasn’t written on my to-do list. It happened slowly over time; it became undeniably sweet and compelling. While I can deny my feelings and pretend it doesn’t matter, at the end of the day, I think about you.

You doubt my love which is the only thing you should believe. I owe you more than that, I owe you symphonies. I’m being too honest. I sound desperate and everything comes out wrong. We only want what we can’t have. We crave a challenge. We like mystery. I’ll be your paradise vacation, stars twinkling, laughter, and kisses.

I’m scared. You’re scared. Let’s be scared together. Reality is harsh. I know what reality does to relationships. If we’re not careful, life will chip away at everything we’ve created. I also know when two people weather the storm together, the storm runs out of rain. I’m strong on my own. I can be strong with you. I can’t get back on track because there isn’t one. The angels want me to find my own freedom.

I want you to be happy, even if it’s not with me. I want you to be brave, even when no one is watching. I want you to have faith, even if it’s in the stars. I want you to be grateful because God doesn’t make mistakes. I want you to hope with all of your heart that the love you need will find you and keep you warm at night. Amen. God bless.

Have a great week,

Julie

(It’s Halloween, and I’ve written what looks like a Valentines’ day post, lol πŸ™‚ I will have another blog up soon.)

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fever, family, halloween, and raw veganism.

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I’m only doing two blog posts this month. Two’s better than none, I suppose. I’ll backtrack and then go forward. On Thursday, I had a fever, I don’t know for sure because I didn’t take my temperature, but I felt like a space heater all day. It wasn’t until I took two Tylenol that the fever broke. I had a fever for several days, but when I finally bought a thermometer, I didn’t register a temperature. Who knows? I think I was trying to catch a cold. I haven’t been letting myself rest. I’m just being too stressed. I haven’t been sitting on the couch at night with my feet up. I need to let myself relax every once in awhile.

My brother called on Monday and we had a good conversation. They’re going to be here on Tuesday. We have a lot of fun things planned. I will take some pictures and blog about it. Emma is running now and saying some words. I can’t wait to see her. We’re also having a small Halloween party. I’m making a Word Search, Scramble, and Treasure Hunt Game. I’m known for my party games. The historic 2009 Halloween party is still talked about to this day. We’ve had some more parties since then, but I haven’t been able to replicate that level of fun nor have the same group of people been together.

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That was the year I was getting chemo, yet I managed to decorate the whole house and make five games. I think the steroids gave me energy even though I felt terrible. There were five teams of two. They were running around the house stomping on balloons and looking for envelopes. It was a riot. I sort of recreated the idea of this board game called Mystery Mansion that David, Bryan, Christen, and I played when we were little. I hand folded a bunch of little envelopes and hid them around the house. It was so much fun! My brother and Bryan are both married now with kids. How time flies. My younger cousin, Heather, is getting married to Kyle in August. Yeah! πŸ™‚

Well, I’ve stopped running away. There were three retreats the same week/weekend in November, and I couldn’t decide on one of them. They were all cool in their own way. On one hand, I’m bummed that I didn’t push myself out of my comfort zone. On the other hand, I have things that need to be attended to around here. Yes, it’s exciting to plan adventures. I’m going to post a tentative schedule for 2017 soon. I’m going to travel more. I’m choosing something each month, from book fairs to writing, wellness, survivor, and spirituality retreats. I will go to them alone or see if my friends want to join me!

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The other thing I’ve decided is that I’m going to slowly transition into eating a raw vegan diet, which means I will not be eating meat, dairy, or wheat. I will be eating fruits and vegetables, whole foods that are uncooked, and making smoothies and green juices. This would’ve been easier to start in the summer rather than the winter. I should’ve started this seven years ago. I saw a quote today that really hit home, “Food is either the best medicine or a slow form of poison.”Β I’ve poisoned myself enough. I’m feeding the cancer cells with sugar. I need to start feeding myself from nature’s pharmacy. It will take some time to figure out what works best for me and my body.

I’ve been doing a lot of research and watching videos. It’s not going to be easy, the Standard American Diet is full of toxic chemicals and addictive substances. And food is a form of emotional comfort. I just have to start being comforted by healthy food rather than unhealthy food. If you think about, empty calories are not really satisfying and don’t make us feel good. I want to glow from good health and be proud that I am treating my body well. Healthy eating is what’s missing from being a true wellness warrior and inspiration.

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The next time I go to the grocery, I’m not going to buy any processed foods or drinks. They’re not allowed in the cart. I need to use my OCD for something beneficial like keeping the junk out of the cart. I will finish up what I have here and then it’s clean eating. I’m going to reach out to a health coach who is going to help me transition and figure out meals. I think meat will be the easiest to cut, since I already eat vegetarian most of the time. Dairy and wheat will be the hardest to cut because I’ve always liked them. There are lots of alternatives.

Since I’m not much of a cook anyway, this shouldn’t be too hard. I might start with mono meals of fruit, or even raw till 4. I can eat a much larger salad for dinner instead of needing something cooked. The only thing I’m going to buy is oatmeal, that will be my cooked meal if I need something warm. I’m going to stock up on tea bags, that’s what I’m drinking instead of soda. I’m buying soy milk instead of regular milk. I think I need to do an extreme detox right off the bat. Benefits to eating healthy: better digestion, reduce inflammation, oxygenate cells, slow tumor growth, alkalize blood, improve mood.

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What am I still struggling with? Fear of contamination and scents. When I was at Target, I had trouble setting my paper products on the conveyor belt. l had to hand them to the cashier, which made me feel like an idiot. In my mind, the conveyor belt is “contaminated.” I think that’s why I like the self-checkout at the grocery because the groceries don’t touch the conveyor belt. Stuff like that depresses me and makes me realize how bad the OCD and PTSD have become. And why I choose to worry about such weird things is beyond me?

I AM SAFE NOW. THE PAST IS OVER, AND I AM FREE. — Louise Hay

The other thing, I switched my shower to the evening because I couldn’t get in bed if I had been out of the apartment and picked up a scent. I never used to worry about that stuff before. I was aware of it, yet I didn’t let it bother me. I’m usually tired in the evenings and don’t feel like showering. Now, I shower in the morning or afternoon, only in the evenings per above. I think that’s part of why I caught a cold, my hair was still damp because I don’t use a hair dryer, and I haven’t put the new comforter on the bed or gotten it out of the package.

We’ve had some cold nights forcing me to wear my pajama bottoms to bed. I need to wash the new duvet cover, too. I’ve got to get my bed figured out before winter hits. Sleep is very important! I had the old comforter for ten years; it fell apart forcing me to throw it away. This is turning out to be a hard adjustment, or I’m letting it be hard. I’m going to get it figured out. Part of the problem is that I’m being too sensitive and making things complicated, which is something I need to work on for sure, and this has turned into quite a long post.

ALL OF MY CHANGES ARE EASY TO MAKE. — Louise Hay

Have a great week,

Julie

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cancer survivor retreats and more

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Back to blogging. I missed a week. I’ve been posting about four a month, so I’ll have to catch up! If you’ve read the last few, you might’ve noticed I’ve become obsessed with researching retreats from wellness to writing to yoga. And yes, some of them are still on the calendar as future possibilities. The other night, I woke up at 5am with a new idea – breast cancer survivor retreats. Duh! It’s only taken me seven years to realize there are survivor retreats and some of them are free. Imagine that. They’re in cool locations doing cool things. I’ve started the initial application process for a few of them.

I’ve shied away from being involved in the cancer community, which is kind of funny since I wrote a book about my experience. I thought I would get triggered, I get triggered regardless. Being alone isn’t the answer. I got to thinking, this is my tribe. They’ve been where I’ve been, they probably have the same feelings. Maybe I wouldn’t feel so disconnected if I connected with other survivors. The next retreats are held in the Spring of 2017. In case any of my readers are survivors, here are some of them, my four favorites, with links to their websites.

Camp Koru Survivorship Program – Surf & Standup Paddling in Maui, Hawaii or Skiing & Snowboarding in Mt. Hood, Oregon. http://www.athletes4cancer.org/

Epic Experience – whitewater kayaking, hiking, and campfires at the 7W Ranch in Colorado. http://www.epicexperience.org/

First Descents – provides life-changing outdoor adventures for young adults (18-39) impacted by cancer. http://firstdescents.org/

Cowgirls vs. Cancer Yoga Retreat in Clyde, Montana. http://bigskyyogaretreats.com/retreats/cowgirls-vs-cancer

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This led me to look up “cancer conferences,” and I found Cancercon, April 27-30, 2017, Denver, CO. Founded by Stupid Cancer in 2008, Cancercon is a global conference with young adult cancer patients, survivors, caregivers, advocates, researchers, and digital health partners uniting for change. Sounds awesome! http://cancercon.org/

Another conference, Survivorville, July 21-23, 2017, Nashville, TN. Yes, I’ve been to Nashville, I was raised on country music! This one is for women only. http://www.survivorville.org/survivorville

Next I googled “raw vegan retreats” because I’d like to change my diet from SAD to happy. πŸ™‚ Of course, I need to start that myself. There’s no reason to put off being healthy and make good choices now.

Raw Food n Yoga Surf Adventure Retreat at the Farm of Life in Costa Rica, March 4-11, 2017. http://therawadvantage.com/retreats/

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Don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten about the book and the book fairs. They are my first priority. I stopped believing in myself. I stopped believing in the book. I’m getting refocused again. I’m trying to be in the present moment instead of running away. It isn’t easy. Although, it’s okay to run away if the place you find brings relief. Sometimes relief is found outside of our comfort zone, outside of the world we think we’re supposed to live in, the name we were given, the life we were told would make us happy. Happy is when he emails me back. Happy is hearing my favorite song on the radio. Happy is vacuuming the apartment. Happy is getting my laundry done. Happy is having hope.

Have a great week,

Julie

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Overcoming feelings of unworthiness

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On Wednesday, I had a much-needed therapy appointment. She helped me to figure out a few things and gave me some new ideas. We talked about how I didn’t register for something I was excited about doing. That night, I knew I had made a mistake. Letting my fears overpower my courage was a form of betrayal, and it gave me a sickening feeling. I doubted my ability and said it was for the best. But why should I cancel my plans to spend time with people who had no problem excluding me from their plans? If I get really honest, the message at the center of my being was, “I don’t deserve to go. I’m not important.” Ouch. If that doesn’t break your heart, I don’t know what will. How did I pick up that message and what’s a better message?

My name is Julie, and I love myself. I’ve had to say that a few times this week. It’s probably the hardest affirmation to say, yet the most profound because it hits the core of your being. I deserve to go. I am important. My needs are important. People should never be made to feel like they’re unwanted, there isn’t enough room, or their issues are too much to handle. It isn’t their fault. I chose not to go with them. I’ve talked with my mom a few times this week and they’re having a good time. Even though they weren’t intentionally trying to hurt me, unspoken messages got passed onto me quite similar to the ones I received growing up in the home of an alcoholic. My job is to practice forgiveness and compassion, anything else is unproductive.

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My therapist reminded me that I can still register for the retreat in Orlando, all my indecision has cost me is $200. There are still rooms available, when I looked the next day they were sold out. I guess they opened another block. Of course, that night I got an email about a healthy eating and fitness retreat in Hawaii which sounds awesome. She also suggested looking for a writer’s retreat, what a great idea! There are a few in Taos, NM that have caught my eye. I’m hungry for another adventure, something that makes me feel alive, a way to get unstuck and out of this rut. My friend, Matt, posed a good question, What am I most passionate about? I think that’s the problem, I’m passionate about so many different things. I need to narrow it down.

My friend, Mike, wrote his blog this week about resistance, and I couldn’t help but wonder if looking for retreats is my new resistance tactic against getting a regular part-time job. Well, it’s not, if I’m also applying for jobs and sending out my resume. It’s funny how creative my mind can be when it wants to stall or ruminate or dream. She also reminded me how I am doing better. I have a car now, and I’m driving myself around, which doesn’t seem like much to most people, but it’s a big hurdle I’ve overcome. I’m even parking in the front row rather than feeling like I have to be in the back row out of everybody’s way near the handicap sign. I suppose the car has helped my self-esteem.

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I was going to blog about PTSD this week since I touched on OCD last week. Unfortunately, I have a good understanding of both. What caught my eye and what I didn’t go back and fix – I admitted OCD is my crutch maybe even more so than being a cancer survivor. Like my therapist mentioned, if I really want to do something, I will, and the busier I am, the less time I have to make things perfect. Things can’t be perfect. What does folding my shorts “perfectly” really do besides cause me frustration? It’s something I can control and do right, yet the ritual in itself doesn’t make sense. Sometimes life doesn’t make sense, and other times it makes complete sense. I like those days.

This time when she suggested I should start dating again, I didn’t cringe at the thought, nor did I have a strong reaction or hesitation. I’m trying to look for the good. Maybe even resign myself to the fact that there could be nice guys in my town. I’m not rushing to create a profile. I think relationships are important, and maybe it would be fun. She said that I sound lonely. Sometimes, I am. I used to be scared of being home alone, maybe that’s why I made friends with an angel. Other times, I have so much to do there isn’t time. I remember what Sunny said to me, “That’s the only thing you have time for.” He’s right. Love makes me smile. Love makes it all worthwhile. πŸ™‚

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A Course in Miracles states, “Every choice you make is either an expression of love or an expression of fear, there is no other choice.”

Have a great week,

Julie

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The Healing Room