Category Archives: Life

April – Update

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It’s always out of the blue. Good things seem to happen out of the blue, most likely because they’re orchestrated by angels. I almost didn’t look at his message. I thought it was from the cat guy because they have the same name. Why would the cat guy be sending me another message? And why did he message me in the first place? I clearly stated in my profile – I’m allergic to cats and dogs. He said he saw that but didn’t think it was an extreme allergy. Lol. He obviously doesn’t have allergies because he also volunteers at a dog shelter. Oh my. He seemed like a really nice guy and was actually going to take one lucky lady to four concerts this summer. I told him, thanks for the message, yes, my allergies are extreme and have fun at the concerts.

When I opened up his message, “I’d like to talk with you if you’re willing. What is the last spirituality book you enjoyed reading?” I think my jaw dropped and my pulse quickened. There was something masculine and strong about his picture that didn’t disgust me. He has a seriousness about him with a touch of sadness that made me wonder if something bad had happened. He’s divorced, maybe she died? When I looked at the second picture, I saw him and his two beautiful daughters, they were smiling and happy. They are five and four years old. He has full custody. At the risk of seeming over eager, I only liked his profile but didn’t message back. He took this to mean my membership had expired, sent me another message saying he’d really like to talk with me and would hold onto hope. I am fond of hope.

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When someone finds me fascinating or even tolerable, I’m suspicious. It’s not due to low self-esteem, I know I have a lot to offer. I think it’s a normal reaction or maybe I’m afraid of being hurt again. In reality, my isolation is twice as harmful. When talking about her now fiance, I remember my cousin saying, “he messaged me first.” The dynamic was right from the beginning that’s why it worked. The man gives while the women receives, then she gives while he receives. It has to start with the man. For once, I’m not the aggressor, although I can be aggressive, we are assuming our natural roles. We both want a relationship. I hope we have a connection when we meet this weekend. He chose a coffee shop that’s closer to where I live, which I think is very sweet. I’m excited to meet him. I don’t know how much I’ll share here, I want to respect his privacy. Sometimes I get tired of social media. These lives we pretend to have by only showing the happy moments. Life has sad moments, too.

If you’ve read the previous post, you’re probably thinking I sound a bit contradictory. I said I don’t want kids, that is, I don’t want to have kids through labor. I am more than okay with meeting a man who already has children. And I would stay in Cincinnati for the right person. What about the guy who lives in California? I still think he’s a great guy, but he won’t step up to the plate which leads me to believe he doesn’t share my feelings and pining away over him makes me look like an idiot, and I’m tired of looking like an idiot. I enjoy talking with the new guy, J. We both have the same first initial. I could be the strong survivor that he sees in my pictures. And I could make him happy. Imagine that? I would actually be doing something right. I could be loved and adored instead of the person who does everything wrong. We could learn from each other. Isn’t that what we’re here for? Maybe I should try to be less snarky and sarcastic. That might help!

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Did I have a good time in Utah? I sure did. My niece is so precious. She adores my mom, follows her everywhere, they are best buddies. Every morning, bright and early, I heard Emma calling out for Grandma. She also says, “I need it” and “Emma do it.” After a few days, she warmed up to me and began saying my name. She’s so cheerful and happy. She’s athletic and strong. She laughs at almost everything and is very perceptive. When I made her a friendship bracelet and put it on her tiny wrist, she held out her other wrist and said, “two.” There’s no way you can tell that sweet angel, “no.” I quickly got to making another bracelet and tied it onto her other wrist. She enjoyed playing with the stamps, stickers, and markers I brought for her. She has an entourage of stuffed animals which she sometimes carries everywhere. It’s neat to see my brother with her, he’s a great dad, talks to her calmly, takes her to the park, and makes sure she eats her lunch. Our dad would be proud. I know he was there with us in spirit – happy to see us happy.

What’s on my plate? The date, the book fair, and then Camp Koru. I also need to get more laundry and cleaning done. I still have to buy a few things from the packing list. I’m going to be super productive and make good use of my time. Yes, I’m a bit stressed and overwhelmed, why wouldn’t I be? I’m going to breathe and pray that everything turns out well. I probably won’t be packing my suitcase super neatly like I did for Utah, it might just get thrown in. My therapist (who I stopped seeingΒ  a few months ago because I felt like I was talking the talk and not walking the walk) would appreciate that! Any time I don’t give in to my ocd tendencies is a victory. Although, it is good to be organized! My second interview, with Terri from A Fresh Chapter, went okay and I’ve applied for a scholarship to help offset the cost of the volunteer abroad program. The weather has gotten warm here. I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter, if that’s what you celebrate! πŸ™‚

Have a great week,

Julie

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April – Dating and Travel

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If you’ve been reading my blog lately, you’re probably thinking, she’s completely obsessed with him. Let’s use the word “enamored,” it sounds less crazy. We praise athletes for their long hours of practice and devotion to the sport, yet we frown upon people who get too infatuated. I know it’s slightly different, but don’t we want that to happen? Would you want your sweetheart to be on-the-fence about you? When people get married, it’s because they’ve chosen that person over everyone else or in today’s age until they get divorced. It’s having other options and still choosing them because there’s something amazing about them that everyone else lacks. It’s how my grandma’s face would light up when she described my grandpa.

In my defense, I’ve started dating. Well, I haven’t actually gone on a date, but I’ve been talking with a guy who lives about 20 minutes away. He’s asked me out three times now but I’ve turned him down, so I guess I haven’t started dating! He wanted to meet up last weekend and I told him I was busy which wasn’t a lie. Then he wanted to pick me up and go to a bar in downtown Cincinnati, that’s a bad idea for several reasons. Then he mentioned a winery near Oxford. I don’t like wine. I’m not trying to be difficult. I think a good first date is meeting for coffee or lunch or at a bookstore. I could mention that to him. The problem is, I don’t think he’s “the one.” You’re probably thinking, well, you haven’t given him a chance. No, I haven’t, yet I know when something has potential and when it doesn’t.

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He seems like a decent guy, he’s just not my guy. He’s shorter than me. God blessed me with long appendages. I want to be with a guy who’s my height or taller. He wants kids. I don’t want kids. I’m not a baby maker. I ain’t gonna be his baby mama. I feel pretty strongly about that. And it’s interesting the majority of guys on that site seem to want kids. He’s buying a house in Cincinnati. We all know that’s the last place I would buy a house. Why was I even talking to him? Back in February, as a birthday present to myself, I joined MeetMindful, a dating site for people who are into spirituality, meditation, and yoga. There’s a very small pool of men to choose from which is good in a way. I might’ve gotten overwhelmed by the amount of men on a larger site. Until I take it seriously and make the effort, it’ll be a waste of money. I’m always working on something else and dating gets moved to the bottom of the list. I need to get my priorities figured out.

I don’t know if I’m going to renew my membership. I guess I would recommend the site, you get three free days to see what it’s like. At first, I was mad at myself for joining and decided it was a waste of money, so I tried to put some effort into it which is why I started talking with him. Although now I realize when I text him back it just encourages him. Something else worth mentioning, I had “cancer survivor” in my bio and it seemed like I wasn’t getting much attention. I wondered if that was the cause. I deleted the ominous words and got two messages which was just a coincidence. It felt better without the heavy label, then it felt like I was keeping a secret or trying to be someone else, so I put them back on there. Update: it hasn’t made a difference. I’ve gotten the same amount of messages. I think it’s something they need to know and if it’s a deal breaker, like dogs and cats are for me, then we don’t have to waste our time.

He seemed genuinely interested which surprised me. I think he’s lonely or I’m incredibly fascinating to talk with! I don’t think he was just being nice to get in my pants although he could’ve been. He was winking at me and I thought to myself, why are you winking at me? Please stop. Maybe I’m not ready for dating. He sensed that I didn’t like the winking and switched to regular smileys. He seems immature even though he’s 34. There’s a seriousness about me now that caught me by surprise. I can’t go back to the recklessness of my twenties. Those days are long gone. I need to focus on my diet and exercise, the missing pieces of the puzzle, the things that are going to save my life. And real love grows like a beautiful flower in a magical garden. I’m going to keep looking even though I’ve already found him.

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You might also be wondering if I’ve made any travel plans this year. I’m going to Utah with my mom to visit with my brother, sister-in-law, and niece for a week in April. My niece is two years old now. I’m really excited to see her. My sister-in-law is pregnant again, due in July. It’s a girl! πŸ™‚ I booked my flight to Salt Lake City then found out I’d been taken off the waitlist for the Athletes for Cancer – Camp Koru program, which means I’m going in May rather than November. Instead of tears of joy, I was crying tears of overwhelm because I had four trips in the next three months which is a lot even for a person who doesn’t struggle with anything. Camp Koru is in Maui, Hawaii, the mythical place I’ve long to go to since I was a little girl. The day after I made my flight, I had a lot of anxiety and it took about a day to calm down. I still can’t believe I’m going there. It doesn’t help that I stopped exercising during the winter and my bikini body is nowhere to be found. Of course, I found a way to put pressure on myself.

Guess which trip got taken off the table? The book fair in Berkeley which is in early June. My friend, Christen, wasn’t able to go with me after all and the trip had fallen apart. πŸ™ They aren’t pairing authors up this year and it would’ve been difficult running the booth alone. Even though I was disappointed, I’ve realized giving a few gift wrapped copies of my book to survivors who become my friends feels better than selling them on the street to strangers. The trip that got to stay, rock climbing with First Descents at the end of June. This is what my schedule looks like for the next three months: April – Utah, May – Hawaii, June – New York. I wanted to travel, well, I’m getting my chance now! If you want to start traveling, you have to start traveling. I hope I haven’t pushed myself too far outside of my comfort zone and I can get ready in time. Have a little faith in me.

I’m also applying for a volunteer abroad program for cancer survivors which would be for two weeks in November. To pay for the cost of the program, I’ll hold a fundraiser which I’m surprisingly excited about it. Everyone who donates will receive an arts & crafts item made by me. There are five choices: friendship bracelet, origami envelop with a quote, glass gem magnet, affirmation card, Polaroid photo taken in Peru. I’m about to get crafty! πŸ™‚ Before I get too excited, I have a second interview with A Fresh Chapter’s founder Terri Wingham. I’ll find out by May 1st if I’ve been selected to join them as a cancer ambassador and truly begin to heal the emotional scars of cancer. What have I learned from all of my planning and yearning? God doesn’t give you what you want, He gives you what you need.

Have a great week,

Julie

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holiday recap

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I hope Santa brought you everything you wanted and more. I had a very nice Christmas. The weather warmed up a bit, and I spent three days with my family. As expected, I ate way too many cookies!! Next year, I’m going to bake some healthy cookies to contribute to the cookie table. On Christmas day, I went to my aunt Joyce’s house in Kentucky. My uncle, John, who was my dad’s best friend brought up a good point. “Didn’t writing the book help you to heal, you know, getting all that out?” I answered. “Yes, I guess so, I do feel like a weight has been lifted.” I wrote the book to share my story, get closure, and help other survivors. I had forgotten why. I don’t give myself credit for how far I’ve come because it never feels like enough. I get upset when I hit plateaus or as of late having taken what feels like a back step.

There’s nothing wrong with regrouping and reevaluating the game plan. But you see, that’s where I have it wrong, life isn’t a game. It’s not about having the newest car, latest phone, or highest score, although those things are important in their own way, they aren’t the essence of life. There’s a quote, “Love is what’s in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen.” -Unknown. I think that’s why we have the ritual of opening presents because it takes us one step closer to the magic. Yes, it’s nice to get new things, but it’s more important spending time with the people we love. Time is all we have and we waste so much of it caring about what other people think and harboring resentment because life took a different turn.

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But what if the wrong turn, the pain and confusion, was something we had to go through in order to become stronger? What if the experience of sickness and powerlessness is going to lead me to health and power? One can only hope. I wanted to mention George Michael’s passing, not that I knew him or anything, because I’ve always been a fan of his music. When I was little, my favorite song was “Faith.” You can ask my mom, I’d dance around my room in a state of bliss. I didn’t really know what the lyrics meant but I liked the song. I also thought he was really cute. He had a unique voice – the voice of an angel can soothe. I’d listen to the radio, Casey Kasem’s Top 40 Countdown and record songs onto blank cassette tapes. You had to press down the record and play buttons at the same time! I made a lot of mix tapes. Even when I was younger, music brought me joy.

I got a lot of positive feedback from my aunts, uncles, and cousins. “Write another book, start dating, move to Hawaii.” I also practiced grounding when my anxiety acted up, although the wine worked just as well. What did I get for Christmas? Some gift cards and clothes. I want to end the blog this week with pictures of my niece, Emma. She got a few presents, lol. My brother said she wanted to play with each one before going onto the next one. She’s very perceptive, that’s Pisces. She can say, “Julie.” My brother taught her how. And guess what?? Emma’s going to have a sister or brother in July of 2017. My sister-in-law, Kristine, is pregnant! I’m going to be an aunt again! πŸ™‚

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Love is…my brother putting together that kitchenette because he knows it will make Emma happy. And sometimes, especially in that picture, she looks like the spitting image of him when he was that age.

Love is…my mom helping my grandma, her mother-in-law, get a shower because even though it’s like getting a cat into a bathtub, she feels better once she’s clean and warm. My mom is patient and kind.

Love is…waiting to hear from someone and then cherishing every word as if they were etched in gold. There’s energy in everything, especially words, which is why they have the power to heal the soul.

Take care and be well,

Julie

The next blog will be my New Year’s Resolutions 2017.

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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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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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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funny stuff, indecision, emma, ocd, choosing love

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Before we delve into OCD, I want to share a funny and an indecisive story. My mom didn’t know what bae meant. I told her, “I think it’s slang for boyfriend. I heard it on Twitter.” (I just googled it, it means before anyone else, a shortened form of baby or babe.) She wrote, “That’s a weird spelling.” I wrote back, “Weird spelling!?! You spelled my middle name, Renae.” All she replied was, “Yes.” It still makes me laugh. I texted her the emoji that’s laughing so hard it’s crying!! πŸ™‚

I chickened out and didn’t register for Soulapolooza, a four day retreat in Orlando in November led by Mike Dooley. A few years ago, my friend Tracy gave me this link and told me to sign up to get a Tut – Notes from the Universe.Β  I’ve been getting a Note every weekday ever since. They’re really cool. Everyone gets the same message, but every so often your individual goals are weaved in to make it more special. Here’s the link – http://www.tut.com/account/register. They’re little reminders of life’s magic, very encouraging and soulful.

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I’m trying to push myself out of my comfort zone and do more fun things. I recall being happiest when I was in school learning new things. There was a bit of a conflict because my brother, sister-in-law, and sweet baby niece πŸ™‚ are coming home for a week and staying with my mom. Their last day here was the day before I would’ve left for Florida. It was doable, yet I would’ve had to switch my focus to laundry and packing which can be complicated. I need to focus on enjoying their visit and spending time with Emma. Here’s two photos. It’s funny, she’s got a Popsicle in every picture my brother sends me, yet he claims she only gets one-a-day, lol!! πŸ™‚

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OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder) is an anxiety disorder characterized by a person having obsessive thoughts and then having to perform rituals. Compulsions are an urge or impulse. For example, thinking your hands are contaminated with germs and then having to wash them. It’s perfectly okay to wash your hands if there’s something on them, it crosses the line into OCD when it becomes time-consuming and interferes with daily living. I have to catch myself because I’ll continue rinsing them longer than I should, the soap is long gone down the drain. I have a frame of reference for what’s normal/necessary and when it crosses over into obsessive. I’ve always had OCD tendencies; it’s up to me to keep them in check, lol.

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The most popular kinds of OCD are counting/checking and frequent hand washing. I also do the counting and checking; it’s more irritating than anything else. One remedy is called Exposure Response Prevention, don’t let yourself perform the compulsive activity and see that nothing bad happens. What I’ve noticed is the severity of my OCD is usually in direct proportion to the amount of stress, anxiety, or powerlessness that I’m feeling. Whenever a big decision has to be made, the rituals take longer almost as if I’m working out my anxiety.

What’s bad about mine is that it’s intermingled with my PTSD. Now, when I say “my” OCD or “my” PTSD, I don’t say it as a crutch or label, because I don’t want the label, yet I can’t be so naive as to think that I don’t struggle with them. Anxiety is the result of not trusting myself and God’s plan. It’s struggling when there’s no need to struggle. It’s being afraid when I have no reason to be afraid. I choose to be free.

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I am worthy of love – being loved and giving love. Love is all we have. Love is all we need. God can love the fear out of the child and make everything okay again. God teaches us to be strong and honest. We show up with passion in our eyes and a mission in our heart. It’s so refreshing and beautiful that it brings happy tears to my eyes. The possibility that I might’ve inspired you to become more of who you are, makes me smile. I don’t know where this is going, and for once I’m okay with not knowing, not controlling. My heart feels what it feels. Risky? Yes. Stupid? Yes. But if you don’t risk, you risk even more.

Love is feeling understood in a world that makes us question who we are. Love is knowing that my feelings, even if they are messy, will be respected. Love speaks from the soul which is why the words don’t hurt. Love practices forgiveness because life isn’t perfect and relationships go through difficult times. Love is worth fighting for, it keeps us sane, gives us hope, and strengthens our sight. For to see with the eyes of love is to see God’s heaven on earth.

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Have a great week,

Julie

Questions to ponder:

What would I rather do than struggle?

Why am I waiting for permission to do what my soul prefers?

Can I look at myself with loving kindness rather than a harsh critique?

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the happiness frequency

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I was watching a YouTube video about how chronic pain changes brain chemistry causing negativity and pessimism which got me thinking that I’ve been in a very low frequency lately. I need to shift my energy otherwise I’m going to stay stuck. Ways to move to a higher frequency: exercise, eating healthy, positive thinking, being creative, showering, sleeping well, and having a game plan each day. I’ve realized it’s better to slow down and do things right, or even take the day off, than to force myself to do something and then it gets done wrong. Well, not wrong, just not exactly right.

Once I get an idea, I’m super enthralled figuring out the details. I found a list of book fairs and festivals organized by state. I’ve been looking at them to see which ones are possibilities. I’d like to do at least five book fairs next year. So far, Dayton, Ohio, for sure. Probably the Bay Area again because it was fun. I like experiencing the vibes of cool cities. These would be Brooklyn, Portland, or Tucson. The book fairs within driving distance (always a plus!) are Bowling Green, Kentucky and Chicago, Illinois. There’s also one in Honolulu, Hawaii in April. I’m going to keep track of the dates and registration deadlines.

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I remembered an idea that I had awhile back. Take a book and some business cards to the oncology and radiation offices where I had my treatment. Are there any cancer support groups in my area? I also want to see if HPB will carry my book. I checked my sales on Createspace and Kindle. I don’t do that very often because a) that’s not why I wrote it and b) it can be depressing to see no sales. I haven’t been putting much effort into marketing, and yet I’ve already sold four books this month. I have no idea who bought them. If you’re reading this, thank you! I hope you find comfort and inspiration. πŸ™‚

I sent my mom a text about the sales, and I joked, “I’m rich now!” Then I realized, being rich isn’t about having a lot of money. Being rich is having love and passion and dreams and things that can’t be bought. There’s an Annie Lennox song, the lyrics go, “Money can’t buy it, sex can’t buy it, you can’t buy it. I believe that love alone might do these things for you.” I think part of the negativity came from being angry at myself for not being further along, feeling left behind, and not pushing myself harder. Anger is just love disappointed. Anger has a fast energy, sadness has a slow energy. I don’t want either of them. Negative emotions bog me down. I want to feel happy and free.

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What have I accomplished this week? I got the story written for Cure Magazine. Hopefully, they’ll publish it on their website with the other stories. I ended up telling the bee story which correlates well with my thoughts about getting treatment. It was good practice and easy to write which makes me think it was meant to be written. I have a few more exciting plans up my sleeve, one is in November, the other is in May. They’re more like vacation/astrology/spiritual/yoga type things. We’ll see if they fall into place. My mom is encouraging me so that’s good. Even though I like my alone time, she knows that I’m happier when I’m out mixing with people.

More questions to ponder:

Am I being productive or hiding out?

What makes me happy to be alive?

How can I be of service to others?

πŸ™‚ Have a great weekend and week πŸ™‚

Julie

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August roundup: three strikes, realizations, and finding hope.

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August was a difficult month. I fell into a deep, dark depression. And since exercise is my natural anti-depressant, it didn’t help that I also stopped taking my walks. While these candid posts are hard to write, especially in our era of Instagram perfection and because I’m looking for a job, it isn’t going to help me or anyone else to pretend otherwise. I’m not looking for sympathy. Nobody died. I’m sharing my feelings to understand and get closure. That’s the way out. I want to be a role model of healthy thoughts and behaviors, yet I still make unhealthy choices. When I feel empowered, then I can empower others.

If my life were a baseball game, last inning felt like three strikes. I’m not going to Hawaii with my family, I’m not going to see my friend who lives in California, and I didn’t get selected for the Cincinnati book fair. Having these things happen so close together wasn’t good. My self-worth and self-esteem took a hit. It’s been extremely painful. Lots of crying. Even though I’ve spent the last few years doing a lot of inner work, rejection cuts to the bone. Once again, my mom helped me, took me shopping a few times, not that I bought much, I still have trouble being good to me. It was depressing to think we would’ve been shopping for Hawaii and getting excited about the trip.

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About Hawaii – It’s sad to think that I let my ocd and phobias ruin what could’ve been a nice vacation. I feel alienated from my family. Lately, I haven’t been thinking clearly, distracted by wanting to be near my friend. When my plans to see him didn’t work out, I was left wondering – Am I so dysfunctional that no one wants to be around me? Am I ever going to function again like a normal person? This is happening to make me face the truth. I’m still struggling and it’s limiting my quality of life. The ocean, the sand, the pretty sunsets, the good food, and seeing my niece, Emma, who is so cute and funny.

About the book fair – priority is given to traditionally published authors. I’m self-published. And I probably need to work on my professionalism. I’m going to attend the fair and learn from the more experienced authors. So far, I’ve found it’s easier to get into fairs that have an entry fee rather than a selection process. On a happier note, I did early registration for the Dayton Book Expo, which is in April 2017, and I’ve been chosen as a participant. Yeah! Dayton is to the north. Cincinnati is to the south. They are the same distance away.

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People need something to look forward to, which is the essence of hope, and that’s why the depression was so dark because I couldn’t find one tiny piece of hope. And instead of being happy about my car and getting a job, I just felt trapped. Instead of getting excited about my future, I got nervous and scared. The good news, I’ve made peace with my car. The new car scent is barely noticeable and it doesn’t bother me which is great. The dark interior is not that bad after all. I’m happy that it’s easy to drive and park. I have so much to look forward to, I get to start over, no pressure. I just have to be brave.

I’ve been feeling pulled in three directions rather than seeing it as three things on my plate: marketing the cancer book, working on the new book, and getting a normal part-time job. I put these things on my plate and they’re completely manageable. Each one tastes different and should be savored accordingly. Each one requires a different mindset. I need to give them equal attention rather than judging them as superior, inferior, important, or not important. I need to make a sincere effort, have the right intention, and trust my intuition.

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There are two projects I’ve added to my to-do list, because God knows I needed a few more projects! Write a 600 word article for Cure magazine about a cancer-related topic. I used to read Cure in the waiting room of my oncologist’s office. Look at submission guidelines for other cancer magazines. Submit a short story (fiction) to Glimmer Train, a literary journal, they have contests each month and offer prize money. Decide which stories are not going into the book. Also a good way to get myself to work on them. Writing is what I love, among other things, I will let myself do what I love! πŸ™‚

I want to end this post on a happy note. I am feeling better. I have hope. I wrote this blog a few days ago and considered not posting it. But if I’m not being honest, then what’s the point? I feel better when I share my feelings even if they aren’t Instagram perfect. Sharing my feelings bring me relief. Keeping them bottled up causes pain. Relief feels better than pain. I am strong enough. I am brave enough. I am me. I used to dream about blogging, and now I’m blogging. See, I’ve made some progress! I thought of a few questions to ponder…

What can I learn from this?

How can I use these setbacks / letdowns as motivation to get better?

Have a great week,

Julie

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Reality check, admiring magick, and my insecurities about dating

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I thought about deleting last week’s post, but if I start censoring myself on my own blog then we’ve got problems. Sure, I didn’t have to react the way I did – getting hurt and upset. I’m a sensitive person and things affect me deeply. Do I need to toughen up? Probably. Do I need to laugh it off? Most likely. Am I going to be okay? Yes.

On Wednesday, I had a much-needed therapy appointment, almost didn’t make it there because Aunt Flo can be a real bitch when she comes to town. I told her about my recent heartbreak. “I sound pretty sad and pathetic, don’t I?” Luckily, I have a really good therapist and she said, “You sound adventurous.” I laughed, “Yeh, let’s go with that.”

“What do you like about him?” She asked me.

“He’s cute. He’s smart. He’s funny.” Later that evening, I thought of a few more things. He’s passionate about his field of study. He’s caring. He gets nervous. He wears glasses. He’s tall, dark, and handsome. He’s different. He’s interesting. He’s a deep thinker. Even though he’s a few years younger than me, he acts protective of me. He encourages me. He believes in me. He’s a visionary. πŸ™‚

I’ll stop while I’m ahead. I genuinely like him. It’s not the idea of liking him or having him like me back. The more I think about it, he’s a combination of three guys I’ve known, taking the best from each one of them. But it doesn’t matter how much you like someone, if they don’t like you back and want the same things, it doesn’t matter.

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“Start dating.” She told me, echoing the sentiment I’ve been hearing a lot lately. When even your therapist is encouraging you, it’s probably time to start dating. I could’ve started several years ago. I was focused on writing the book which became my reality and maybe an excuse. Am I afraid? A little bit. I’m afraid that I won’t meet anyone that I like and it’ll be a waste of time. I’m afraid that I will meet someone that I like and then have to deal with more stupid feelings. I’m afraid they won’t like me. I’m overwhelmed just thinking about it! Although, I have healthy self-esteem, I still have my insecurities.

Is he going to wonder why it looks like I have two black eyes? Is he going to wonder why my nose is crooked? Is he going to understand my ocd? Is he going to expect intimacy before I’m ready? Is he going to be a nice person? Is he going to think I’m pretty and want intimacy?

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First of all, it doesn’t matter what he thinks. If I think I’m pretty, then I’ll exude prettiness. He’ll either be attracted to me or not. I don’t know why it looks like I have two black eyes. I think cancer punched me in the face or maybe it’s from chronic pain. I’ve always had dark under eye circles. I don’t wear makeup which would help cover them up. My nose is crooked because I got hit in the face one too many times with a soccer ball. Hopefully, he’ll be able to look past my imperfections. I don’t see them as imperfections. I see them as reality. I hope to meet someone who isn’t superficial. People either click or not. You can’t force things to happen. I should know.

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I think having similar interests is important. Even though I don’t think monogamy is natural, in the long run, I want to be in a monogamous relationship. I’m not young and dumb. I’m not going to be easy or put up with a bunch of nonsense. I probably shouldn’t mention that I’m a cancer survivor, they don’t need to know that in the beginning. I would want to know, yet it does color someone’s vision of you, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. Survivors are stronger and yet they’re also seen as vulnerable. Sometimes, I think I should take this slow and other times I think I need to speed it up!

“It’s good practice.” She said.

I have gotten out of practice, stopped practicing, gotten rusty, which is funny because the old Julie got too much practice. It’s like I’ve swung to the other extreme to protect myself from getting hurt. Time is slipping away. It’s not healthy for me to be alone anymore. It’s not that I don’t mind being alone, another person could add depth and meaning to my life. I’m allergic to cats and dogs which will narrow the field down quite considerably, it already does.

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I told my mom, “I’m going to put, ‘Wanted: One Hillbilly Jackass’ on my dating profile.” “I don’t think that’s the right attitude to have.” “I know. I’m joking. I’m a hillbilly and proud of it!” “You don’t act like a hillbilly.” “I can talk like one. I’ve picked up the accent.” “You like to talk funny.” “I’m going to say, ‘Looking for friendship possibly more.'” “That’s good. Keep it simple.” “I’m going to get bombarded with messages.” “That’s the fun part.” “Oh yes, sounds like fun.” “You don’t have to message all of them back, just the ones you like.” “Okay.”

I need to get excited about the possibility of finding love again. Although this isn’t organic, I’m going to give it a try, maybe, depending on if I get around to setting up a profile. I need to be very careful and not give out personal information. There are dishonest people out there. Be selective. Take baby steps. Talk to them for awhile. Don’t fall for anyone too quickly. Meet in a public place. Trust my instincts. Choose happiness. Trust joy. Stop making excuses. Relationships help us grow and evolve into the best version of ourselves. Love is the best magic. I’m not going to forget that.

Have a great week,

Julie

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Car update – it’s going good. If you read my book, you’d know that before I stopped driving completely, I was having trouble parking the Blazer. The car is much easier to park, and I’m not letting myself re-park it. I’m actually letting it be “imperfect.” Although, most of the time it is parked perfectly, lol. In the grand scheme of things, parking a car perfectly isn’t important. I don’t have the intense anxiety anymore which is great. The book is done. I don’t feel this weight hanging over me. When the anxious feelings start to come up, because sometimes there’s still a flutter, I recognize the old fears and take a deep breath. I remind myself that I have been through a lot, and I am stronger now.

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my quote