* 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  


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

* Don’t Waste the Hurt

Cancer hurts. It hurts your body and causes pain. It hurts your mind and causes you to doubt. It hurts relationships by causing exhaustion and stress. It hurts financially because the cost of treatment is simply mind boggling. Cancer just hurts. Now that I am a cancer survivor, I don’t want to waste all that hurt.

I always call cancer “the gift that keeps on giving”. It’s been 12 years and my body still hurts from some of the treatments I received. I’ve had to go outside the box sometimes to find ways to alleviate that pain. I’m a researcher by nature because of my librarian background so if there’s a problem, I am determined to find a solution. When I find one that works for me, I can share that with others, especially with things like massage therapy, yoga, muscle salves, etc.

I learned during treatment that sometimes your mind can be your enemy when it comes to worrying about worst case scenarios. That’s where journaling helped me and it’s because of that journaling that I now write this blog. If I felt fearful (and still do sometimes), I bet others do, too and need to hear that it’s normal. It would be a huge waste of the hurt though, if I hadn’t found a way to let that go.

As for the financial hurts, that’s a tough one. I do know there are organizations out there who want to help with this issue, but you have to ask. The American Cancer Society has access to lots of information about what type of help is available in your local area. Call them!

As for relationships with caregivers, my response is simple. Let them help you with the hurt. They may not have cancer but they are hurting, too. 

You’ve either been through a lot or you are going through it now. Don’t waste all the things you’ve learned about yourself. Use your hurt to make yourself a better, stronger version of you.  Don’t waste the hurt.

Blessings, Cindy J

* Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

What do you see when you look in the mirror? Take a closer look and then answer this question, do you like what you see? Sometimes I would tell you yes, I’m not so bad for a 64-year-old cancer survivor.  Most of the time though, I would tell you no for so many reasons and honestly, most of them are superficial.

First of all, I’m a bit overweight right now due to some health issues and medicines I am taking. I feel uncomfortable in my body and my clothes so I don’t like what I see. Plus, there are some lasting changes to my body due to the surgeries I’ve been through that make me self-conscious. Second, fashion has never been my strong suit so I always wonder if I look like a dork in whatever I am wearing. Then don’t even get me started on my hair! (I think that’s probably a girl thing most of us women fret about.) All these things are temporal and earthly. In the long run, they don’t really matter.

Wouldn’t it be great if we had a mirror that could show us what our Heavenly Father sees? He never said we had to be perfect when it comes to our outward appearance; all He really wants to see is the beauty inside of us. I think Jesus’ disciple Matthew says it best in chapter 6:28-29 “ 28 So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; 29 and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” NJK Bible Wow! Kind of cuts to the heart of the matter, doesn’t it?

The next time I look in the mirror, I’m going to close my eyes and think about how much God loves me. It’s the strength that comes from that unconditional love that will help me see myself as I truly am; a beautiful child of God.

Blessings, Cindy J

* Cravings

When we talk about cravings, most of us think of a pregnant lady wanting some strange combination of foods like pickles and ice cream but in reality, we all have some type of craving. My cravings are definitely food based. I wish I could say I craved the foods that were good for me but in all honesty, I don’t. My worst ones are chocolate and ice cream. I try not to keep them in my house because I am just too tempted and don’t have a lot of self-control when they’re around. I’ve struggled with this since I was teenager and my cravings have a negative effect on my weight, which affects my health and then in turn my self-esteem.

Then there are people who crave attention. They want to be the center of everything and when they walk into a room, you know it! Others crave things; the more things they have, the more they seem to want.

Cravings can also become additions when it involves drugs or alcohol. I have known several people who turned to both of these things after a bout with cancer. They were either trying to stop the physical pain or did not want to deal with the mental pain the disease brings.

The problem is that cravings provide us with temporary satisfaction but never give us the long-term fulfillment we seek. I wish I could tell you that there is a simple, magic answer for our cravings but I can’t. We have to work every day to overcome them. Most importantly though, we need to give them to Jesus and let Him hold onto them so we don’t have to go it alone.

Blessings, Cindy J