* I Press On

Lately I haven’t felt a lot like writing. I enjoy it and it provides an outlet for me to express my feelings but it just seems difficult. There are many times we all feel like that in life. We have things we love to do but just can’t seem to find the energy to complete the action. That’s when it is the most important to press on!

As we enter this season of Thanksgiving, it’s important to be thankful for the gifts and blessings God has given each of us.  My writing serves an important purpose for me but also for those who read my words. So, I press on and keep writing. Thank you for allowing me to share my thoughts with you through this blog.

Blessings, Cindy J

* Make it a Pink October

Yes, it’s October; breast cancer awareness month. The time of year when everyone wears pink to honor those who have fought the breast cancer fight, are currently fighting or have lost their battle. My message today is to practice prevention. If you are over the age of 50, please get an annual mammogram! For those of you who have a family history of breast cancer, talk with your doctor at age 40. Men, encourage your wives, moms and significant others to schedule their mammogram. So many people have let appointments like this lapse during the height of the COVID pandemic. Take care of it today!

I am here to tell you that a mammogram saved my life. My maternal grandmother died from breast cancer along with an aunt. Another one of my Mama’s sisters has been through a lumpectomy and various treatments for breast cancer. It’s in my genes so I try to be vigilant. Even though I’ve had annual mammograms since the age of 40, I was diagnosed with stage 2B triple negative breast cancer at the age of 52. The cancer had already spread to my lymph nodes in just one short year. Just think how much worse it could have been if I were not being screened every year.

Prevention is the key to survival. The earlier breast cancer or any cancer is diagnosed, the greater the chances of survival. Be proactive and get your annual mammogram or other cancer screening scheduled ASAP!

Blessings, Cindy J

* Life, Love and Loss

Longevity reigns supreme in the Jennings’ family when it comes to pets. We just recently lost our sweet Maggie girl, a golden retriever, after 14 ½ years of unconditional love on her part. It seems all of our animals tend to stick around for a while once we bring them home. The first pet I ever remember having as a child was a little cocker spaniel named Brownie. I can’t remember how long we had her but I do have a picture of me as a little girl with my arm around her neck, a look of contentment on both our faces. Then there was my favorite cat growing up; a big yellow tabby whose name was Yellow.  He met his demise in the engine of my Mama’s car and since he was an old cat, didn’t survive the trauma of the accident.

Fast forward to marriage and children which brought us our Beetle or Bea girl as I called her. She was just a little ball of black fur when we told our neighbor we would take one of the mixed breed puppies they found themselves “surprised” with. She was Ryan’s dog and loved and protected him for 15 years. Every day she would walk the property lines around our house to investigate and make sure everything was okay. We lost her when Ryan was in college and I vowed we would never get another dog because it was just too hard to make the decision to put her to sleep.

Nike and Bear were the kittens of Lucky, a stray we rescued after we saw her take a tumble out from under a truck on a busy highway. Her girls, sisters, lived to be 19 years old. They were always outside cats and we never had a mouse or creature ever enter our house. Those girls were fierce hunters and always on patrol.

That brings us back to Maggie. When my youngest son Sam left for college, I knew this empty nester needed someone to care for so, sweet Maggie came into our lives. I don’t think I’ve ever known a smarter, more loving dog. Losing her has been difficult. 

Life is full of love and loss. Letting go is so very hard but not having had the chance to love is even harder. Pets teach us a lot of life lessons about loving and letting go. So, love people, life, pets, etc. as much as you can while you can. Then be prepared that inevitably, we all have to let go.

Blessings, Cindy J

* Just Go

My husband and I had been talking about going to Alaska since I retired four years ago. Every summer we’d find some reason not to go. So in January of 2020 I finally told him, “let’s just go” and I paid the deposit. Of course, we all know what happened; COVID hit and again our trip was postponed. Just last month in August 2021, we were finally able to take that trip. All I can say is that it was truly amazing and more beautiful than pictures can ever show. It made us realize that now is the time to travel and go to all the places we’ve talked about. We both are currently healthy enough to do things and walk with relative ease. There’s no reason to put it off any longer. Several times during our trip my husband said, “I’m so glad you talked me into this.”

We convince ourselves that we’ll go see that friend or family member we’ve wanted to visit another day or we’ll wait until things slow down before we take time off for a vacation. My advice to you is go ahead and do it! Not one of us knows what the future holds but I live with the possibility that one day my cancer may return. It truly makes me cherish the here and now. I want to spend as much time as I can with the people I love. I want to visit more of the beautiful cities in the USA and when it’s safe, I still want to go to Italy and Greece with my girlfriends.

Today I leave you with a simple question…what’s stopping you? Just go!

Blessings, Cindy J

* Look Around

For all you fans of theater and the show Hamilton, no this is not a tribute to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s song but he does bring up a good point.  Even Dr. Seuss said you need to see sights and pay attention. To do that you have to do more than just look straight ahead; you must look around. If we always look straight ahead, we miss so many things.

When I’m at the beach, if I don’t look up, I miss the beautiful clouds and the bluest sky; not to mention the sunrise and sunsets. If I don’t look down, I’ll miss all the intricacies of the seashells at my feet. Not looking to the side would cause me to miss the waves as they break on the beach or a pod of dolphins swimming by. And what about the people? Families having fun, friends sharing conversations and people like me just taking some time to relax and read a good book. They always bring a smile to my face.

As we go through life, so much of the time we have on blinders and only see the things in front of us that pertain to our world. Guess what? Other people and things are out there and they have a lot to offer you. So my friends, LOOK AROUND! This world really is a beautiful place.

Blessings, Cindy J

* Passwords

These days in our computer driven world, we need passwords for everything we do. There’s a password to sign into the computer. Then there’s one for every place you shop online. Of course, your email has a password and if you work from home, your work database has a password. There are generally rules about passwords like it has to be so many characters, include numbers and symbols, etc. Then just when you think you’ve got it all written down and figured out, somebody asks you to change your password. Oh, and it can’t be anything you’ve used before. Yikes!

If you’ve had any medical issues and you need to contact your doctor or look up test results, most physicians now have online portals where all your information is stored. It can be very helpful at times but frustrating at others when you just need to ask one simple question. It’s also a little unnerving to think that so many people have access to my personal health information in those databases.

What a blessing that there is one “safe and secure” place that will only require one password; ever. It’s God’s kingdom with the promise of eternal life in heaven. The password…JESUS. Always has been, always will be.

Blessings, Cindy J

* Ocean Therapy

Truth be told, everyone could benefit from a little therapy every now and then. Just sitting down with someone who doesn’t know you to talk through difficult issues can be very freeing. If you’ve never done that, I encourage you to share your hurts with a professional who can help you work through those feelings. As a cancer survivor, I found it helpful to talk with someone about my fears. There are also support groups for many different types of situations and tragedies people face. It’s comforting to be around people who won’t judge.

That being said, there are other forms of therapy as well. For me, it is spending time at the ocean. I’m not sure if this is a poem or just a collection of thoughts but either way it does help explain why I believe so strongly in the healing power of the ocean. My prayer is that you will find some place or something that works for you.

The Ocean

by Cindy Jennings

Waves breaking on the shore like the sound of thunder

Foamy white caps spreading out into sheets of glass on the beach

Footprints being washed away with each ebb and flow

Water and sky that has no end

Peace and turmoil mingled together

Warmth and strength from the heat of the sun

Teeming with unseen life

Peaceful treasure for my soul

The ocean.

* The Bottom of the Well

Let’s face it; we’ve all been there at the bottom of the well. Something or someone in our life has pushed us down. We’re broken and in despair. As we sit there, many times the only thing we can see is what’s at the bottom and we focus on the circumstance that put us there. We fail to notice that people are at the top, looking down and trying to figure out how to get us out. We don’t see the footholds placed along the side of the well that would give us a way to climb out. All we want to do is sit and muddle in our dilemma.

Many people facing a cancer diagnosis feel like they’ve been pushed down a well. There just seem to be an endless amount of negatives all pounding down on you at one time. It’s easy to sit there huddled up, thinking there is no way out.  I imagine that people who have faced COVID-19 felt this same way.

When we finally do look up, we can see the light. We see the people; we hear them talking. We notice they’ve thrown us a rope ladder to hang on to and all we have to do is climb. The next step is ours and ours alone. Stay at the bottom as long as you need to, then look up and start the process of climbing. Better yet, reach upward and hang onto someone’s hand for support.

Blessings, Cindy J

* Use Your Gift

God has given different gifts to each of us and He desires for us to use them for good. Our challenge is to accept the gift, use it wisely and show God’s love as we share that gift. I think my gift is words. I’ve written before about how much I love words but viewing that love for words as a gift gives me a greater sense of responsibility.  Somehow when I put words down on paper, they all just seem to come together. I can use those words to uplift others or I can ignore my gift and keep my words to myself.

I enjoy this gift and it makes me feel useful when I’m able to share the right words with someone just at the time they need them. I wish I could remember some of the words I hear in my head when I’m doing other things. Then I’d really be in business! For now, I’ll keep writing my blog and sending out my cards all the while being thankful for the gift God has given me. What’s your gift? Today I encourage you to use that gift for good. Someone is waiting for YOU and the encouragement only YOU can bring.

Blessings, Cindy J

* Goodbye My Friend

I recently lost a very dear friend to this wretched disease called cancer. She fought so hard with such grace and dignity that it’s hard to comprehend she’s gone. I just believed that if anyone was going to beat this thing, it would be Lynn. She was so determined to stay upbeat and positive throughout her fight and she did. But, that’s how Lynn lived her life.

As a teacher, she was a champion for students. Lynn truly had a gift for teaching. If there was something her students needed, watch out! Lynn would find a way to make it happen and she didn’t back down. Tenacious, in a good way, would be the word I would use to describe her. Whatever it took to make sure a student grasped the concept of what was being taught, she just kept trying until something worked. Math was her passion but my favorite memories are of the year we spent team- teaching writing skills to students. One year when she was asked to teach reading, I was honored when she reached out to me for ideas to help some of her struggling readers. She just wanted to be the very best teacher for her students.

Lynn was my friend, my neighbor, a teaching colleague, a fellow cancer thriver and a Christ follower. I will miss her terribly but I know I will see her again one day. No, she wasn’t healed here on Earth like we all wanted but now she has a heavenly body that is perfect and pain free.  Goodbye my dear friend.

Blessings, Cindy J