* Another Surgery

As I write this post, I am still recovering from yet another surgery I’ve had related to issues caused by my cancer treatments. It seems each time that the surgery gets a little more complicated and the recovery process is much longer. This particular time has been a doozy! I have always said that cancer is the gift that keeps on giving; at least for me it has been. Everything that was done to save my life (and don’t misunderstand me, I am so grateful for these lifesaving treatments) has also caused lasting damage to my body in other ways. This time the issues were caused by radiation. Post cancer life is not pretty.

I think back on all the surgeries I have been through since my initial cancer surgery and it is mind boggling. My body has been through a lot and yet each time, somehow, I have recovered. Not necessarily better than before but at least not dealing with the problem anymore. Will this be the last one? I certainly hope so but if not, I pray I’ll be able to gather the strength once more to handle it.

Do I go it alone? Absolutely not! My husband has become my chief cheerleader and caregiver. I have a wonderful group of friends & family that encourage and look out for me plus I have an amazing church family that prays like you wouldn’t believe. So, I’ll just keep staying the course until another surgery comes along or God gives me a completely new, healed body in heaven. Either way, I am one lucky girl.

Blessings, Cindy J

* Super Hero Cindy

If I were a superhero, I would want my name to be “Book Girl”. Why? Because I feel there is great power in books. I have seen how the words found in books can change peoples’ lives; especially children. I would definitely wear a cape; a purple one with a gold lining. Inside the lining would have silhouettes of books on it. My power would be giving books to those who need them and helping children who struggle to read find the joy in words.

Everyone has at least one book or story they can relate to that sets them on the path to being a reader. I may not look like a superhero or wear a cape but for many years as an elementary school librarian I witnessed children whose lives were transformed by the power of reading. And just because I’m retired doesn’t mean I have to stop doing what I love most; sharing books! I’ve found a way by sponsoring a Little Free Library in a neighborhood full of children who don’t have regular access to books. I don’t wear a cape when I’m filling it up but I sure do feel powerful when I’m done. Guess what? You can be a superhero, too. Find your passion and go do it!

*NOTE:  Super Hero Cindy’s favorite book; the Bible. Now there’s a book that can transform lives!

Blessings, Cindy J

* Strength in Numbers

Groups are an important part of people’s lives. They can be your family, church, sports team, special interest club, etc. Each group has its’ own reason for being and we join because we have a common interest with the other people in the group. Well, except for families. We are born into those but we are still part of that group whether we like it or not. And the truth is, we need them.

For groups that we join, it is because we want to be a part of something and spend time with people who share our interests. Having others to learn from, do community service with, worship with at church or to cheer with for a favorite sports team at a ballgame are enjoyable. We could do these things alone but it’s so much better when there are other people involved. They encourage and lift us up.

My Zodiac sign is Cancer the Crab whose characteristic involves being a loner and I am very guilty of doing just that. When things get overwhelming, he crawls back up into his shell to hide and avoid the chaos. A little bit of that is okay from time to time but ultimately you have to come out of the shell and deal with life. That’s a great time to find strength and support in numbers; your people, your group.

Cancer patients and survivors learn very early the importance of the strength found in numbers. That’s why support groups and team approaches to care are so important. Even the infusion room is designed to create community by having all the chairs out in the open so you can talk to each other during treatment. It shows you that you aren’t and don’t have to go it alone.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 reminds us that “two are better than one” and “a cord of three strands is not quickly broken”. Whatever you are going through, find a place you can belong with people who will care for you and walk through the valley with you. Indeed, there is strength in numbers.

Blessings, Cindy J

* Across the Pond

I just took a trip across “the pond” for the second time in my life. The first was to visit London when my son was spending a semester there studying abroad. This last flight was my bucket list trip; a visit to Italy. Everyone has asked if the trip met my expectations. My reply has been, “it far exceeded them”. This truly was the trip of a lifetime. Both of my sons had the opportunity to visit Italy when they were in college and came home talking about how beautiful the country was. My oldest loved it so much, he took his bride there on their honeymoon. This time, it was my turn.

There’s way too much to share in one little blog post about all the things I saw, tasted and experienced while on our trip. Both pizza and caprese salad will never taste the same in the USA again; I’ve been spoiled. The people were very friendly and accommodated us English speakers much better than we accommodate people who come to our country to visit. And the views…oh, the views. Both the Amalfi Coast and Tuscany are incredible.  

The reason I wanted to share my trip with you is that so many of us talk about doing things later, when we have time. Or later when things slow down. There are always excuses. I’m glad we didn’t wait. If you’re able, NOW is the time to go. Enjoy the beautiful places and cultures this world has to offer even if it’s just in your own city or state. Go. Do. Don’t wait.

Blessings, Cindy J

* Dandelions

My husband loves a nice yard and he works very hard to make sure ours looks just right. He mows, waters, fertilizes and puts out weed and feed so that only the good grass will grow. He despises a dandelion. Dandelions have a habit of popping up in random places and before you know it, they can take over the whole lawn. When my boys were little, they could only blow on a dandelion if they were far away from our yard. As you know, when you blow on one, lots of seeds are released into the air and they fly everywhere. It looks really cool to watch all those little feathery wisps take off on their journey. You don’t know where they’ll end up or if they’ll land to grow again. All you know is that they have been set free.

Life is like that; we grow up and leave our parents not knowing where we will end up. Not every child lands on the right path. Some find a path where they flourish. Parents watch, pray and hope but it’s the child’s journey to make. Just like those dandelion wisps, all we can do is watch.

There are other journeys our life must make as well. Sometimes it’s a cancer journey and our health feels like those little dandelion seeds, blowing about in the wind. We try to land back on the path of wellness but that is not always the case.  It could be a grief journey, job loss, divorce, etc.

The point is, our lives are constantly in motion. We can either cling to the plant and stay in the same spot we are in or we can let go and experience what life has to offer. There’s good and there’s bad but in the end it’s the letting go that keeps us alive and allows us to grow.

Blessings, Cindy J

* Thanks Captain America

Captain America, the first Avenger. He was confident yet humble; hardworking and willing to serve his country. One of his favorite quotes was, “I could do this all day”, meaning he never gave up.  No matter what came his way, he met the challenge with everything he had to give.

There aren’t many things I feel like I could do all day except maybe spending time with my husband, children and grandchildren, reading, walking on the beach and writing in my journal which I then use to create my blog posts. Actually, that’s not a bad list. Captain America was passionate about the work he did as an Avenger and it showed. I, too, am passionate about the things on this list. I hope it shows.

Blessings, Cindy J

* Beach Music

Beach Music

One day last summer while sitting on the beach and doing a little journaling, I decided to write down words associated with the beach that started with the letter B. I looked, I listened and then I closed my eyes and felt. Here’s my list….

Blissful                                   Besties                    Bathing Beauties

Breakers                               Beautiful                   Boats

Books                                     Blue                        Beneficial

Breeze                                   Beach Bags              Bounty

Blankets                                Basking                    Birds  

Breathtaking

This list might not mean a lot to you but when I read these words I am taken to a place, an oasis of sorts, where I let everything go and focus on the here and now. In our busy lives these days, that’s not something that happens very often.

So, I have a very important assignment for you. Go to your place where you let go with journal in hand. Yes, it has to be a journal because once you do this, you’re going to want to do it again! Look. Listen. Feel. Write it all down and come back to it when you need to feel grounded. Learning to just be is the greatest gift you can give yourself. It also helps you to be a better person for those around you. Today, I’ll just listen to my beach music.

Blessings, Cindy J           

* Shattered Pieces

Have you ever dropped a glass on a tile floor? If you have, you know that it goes everywhere and it is a pain to clean up. Months after the incident you’ll still find shards of glass at random places. I can promise that’s one glass you will never be able to put back together. The impact of the fragile glass on the tile floor just creates a force that packs a powerful punch. It is broken beyond repair.

Many times, we feel like our lives are like that; that we’ll never be able to put the pieces back together after a serious illness or a tragic event. Some people don’t. They just can’t figure out how to put the broken, scattered pieces of their life into a pile to starting sorting through what can be repaired. All they see is the mess and it becomes overwhelming to the point they cannot move forward.

I’ll be honest, there have been times through this cancer journey and the years of survivorship that I have been that broken glass. There are days when I feel like there is no way to pick up the pieces of the latest setback and figure out a way to start living again. That’s when I search to find that one single shard that seems salvable and think “maybe I can use this to create something new and different”. It doesn’t work every time, sometimes things can’t be fixed, but if it can be remade then I want to be willing to try.

In all honesty, I don’t do this alone. I have a protector that shows me where that shard is located and He helps me find a way to carry on. His name is Jesus and without Him, I would not have the strength that I need to walk this cancer road and pick up the pieces, one at a time, over and over again.

Blessings, Cindy J

* Random Acts of Kindness

A few weeks ago, I had the chance to attend a yoga class on the beautiful Yoga Dock in downtown Southport, NC. Just being there listening to the waves, the wind, the wildlife is an act of kindness to myself! Before class started, I told the instructor that I wanted to pay for someone else to take the class as a random act of kindness. We decided it would be the last person to arrive at the dock.

Turns out the last person was a breast cancer survivor like me and this was the first time she had taken a yoga class. Her positive spirit and zest for life blessed me way more than I ever could have blessed her. You just never know when a blessing is waiting to happen.

Recently, a fellow Triple Negative Breast cancer survivor reached out to me because she found my blog while searching online and was encouraged that I was still thriving, as I like to say, after 12 years of survivorship. Her words of encouragement brought tears to my eyes. She made me feel like my writing was worthwhile. It wasn’t exactly a random act but it surely was kindness.

You just never know if your act of kindness, random or not, is just the thing someone else needs at that exact moment. Now go spread your joy and be kind to someone today!

* A Mama’s Heart

I became a Mama 38 years ago when Ryan Thomas was born, the week after Mother’s Day. Then almost 5 years later, I became the Mama of two boys when Sam was born. Even though both of my sons are no longer boys but grown men, I’m still their Mama or Mom as they’ve always called me. A Mama’s heart never forgets that first time you feel your baby move or the moment of birth when they are welcomed into the world. It’s the most awesome miracle God has ever allowed me to be a part of and I am still in awe of that time and them. As our children grow, they become less dependent on their Mama, as it should be, but a Mama never stops loving them or wanting the best for them in their life.

When I was diagnosed with cancer 13 years ago, I knew I wasn’t ready to stop being their Mama. I fought so hard to stay here. During my cancer fight, Ryan was my practical one. He researched and wanted to make sure we took the best course of action for my treatments. Sam was the emotional one. He completed a three-day, 60-mile Avon Walk for Life fundraiser event that culminated with a tearful phone call to me when he crossed the finish line. Both of them chose the way that was best for them to handle my illness. Again, a Mama’s heart never forgets that kind of love.

To my boys…just remember wherever life takes you, I’ll always be your Mom and I’ll always, always love you. Thank you for giving me the gift of Motherhood and now the gift of being a Nana. Being your Mom has been the best job I’ve ever had.  Happy Mother’s Day everyone.

Blessings, Cindy J