Jessica

She was only 34 years old when she first felt the lump as she breastfed her four-month-old son. She thought it was due to the typical changes a woman’s body goes through after giving birth so she wasn’t really worried.

But it was cancer.   Stage II breast cancer.

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Pictured with her loving and supportive brother.

At Emory Winship Cancer Institute in Atlanta, GA she underwent eight rounds of chemotherapy, 32 rounds of radiation and surgery for a half mastectomy.  She was raised with three brothers so she had a natural “fighter” instinct.

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Several months later she celebrated the end of this journey by an emotion filled singing  of Amazing Grace in front of her husband, a few close family members and her nurses.

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“How sweet the sound” of her voice.

Unfortunately, less than a year later, the cancer spread to a lymph node in her right lung as well as one outside her lungs.

The cancer had a new name.

Stage 4 – Triple Negative Breast Cancer.

It quickly made its way to her hip and right ovary eventually moving into her spine and liver.

This past Thursday evening she won her battle and is now cancer free.

I will always remember her as a bright and happy third grader sitting at her desk in my classroom so many, many years ago.

Goodbye sweet girl, I can’t wait to see you again.

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Time Needs Time

“Sometimes you just have to give time, time.”

I have been reading the book God Never Blinks: 50 Lessons for Life’s Little Detours, written by Regina Brett. If you are struggling with forgiveness or emotional pain perhaps sharing/summarizing her words (in this post) will offer some peace and understanding.

In Lesson #30, the author, Regina, tells a poignant story of healing and forgiveness.  She begins by speaking of a series of retreats she attended once or twice a year for 26 years. Life had thrown her many curve balls and she was in dire need of emotional and mental healing primarily in regard to her father whom she no longer loved.

A woman, who also regularly attended these retreats, befriended Regina.  As a result, Regina became comfortable sharing and confiding her deepest pains with her. The lady would listen to Regina, make her laugh, give her advice and always ended the conversation with the words: Sometimes you “have to heal in layers and not all at once”…. “Sometimes you just have to give time, time.”

Version 3As the years passed, she recognized her level of healing had reached the point where she was ready to try to reconnect with her father. Although she had been able to finally work through her anger, her feelings of fear and insecurity made it difficult to make the first move.  As a result the gift of time kept ticking away as well as the opportunity to reconnect.

One day she received word her father was ill and had been given a few months to live. This crucial news provided the opportunity to confidently make the first move so she immediately went to be with him.  They both experienced a much desired and welcoming peace.  They shared memories and were filled with much joy just being together again. As she left that day her dad waved goodbye for what was to be the last time. Due to his illness he fell unconscious three days later.

She went to him again and was filled with compassion as she lovingly caressed his hands and was able to say “thanks”.  As she sat at his bedside she reflected on the grace God gave her. How He enabled her heart to fill with the love that had been absent for too long. How He enabled her to remember the good qualities and special moments shared with her father and not the painful times.  As she wrote his obituary she “was able to tell what a great guy he was.”  Regina stated, “For years she had put the magnifying glass on the pain, now she was able to put the magnifying glass on the gifts, and there were many.”

“Time needed time” to bring her to this incredible moment of love, compassion, and forgiveness.

I can appreciate the wisdom in these words and through the years I have experienced the truth in these words.  How about you?

The Next Act is Just Months Away

I plan to retire at the end of this upcoming school year and the wind is certainly going to change direction ~ metaphorically speaking.

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So many questions/concerns – do we have enough money saved, what about friends ~ how do I go about making new ones at my age, should we move to a home with a smaller yard, will I get lonely, will we suffer a health set back, will my days feel too empty?  Retirement is a bet on the future and I don’t want the unknowns or imagined outcomes of what “might” happen to cause me to surrender to my fears and uncertainty ~ or become too overwhelming.

As an elementary school teacher my days are full of movement and ruled by the clock: 7:45 – 8:30 teach math, 8:30 – 9:20 teach writing and so the day goes. I honestly struggle with lack of structure during the seven weeks of summer break (just ask my husband) so I hope I can manage it better once I retire when daily life will not be so planned and rigid.

My friends that have already retired or are in the planning stages have made plans to either relocate to be closer to family or relocate to a region of the country they have always wanted to live, or relocate because they desire the lifestyle offered in the 55+ active adult communities. Not one of them is choosing to stay close by. They have a plan that include things like golfing, or traveling the world, or embracing daily life with family closer by.  At first the absence of these folks was gradual and it almost didn’t seem real, and I will surely (in two cases already) miss these wonderful people.  Of course we will talk and visit, but we also know the dynamics will change ~ that’s just the way it is.

I know you can’t and shouldn’t worry about the future, but for me, that is much easier said than done.  Part of the problem is I really don’t have a “plan” but I do realize whatever I plan and what I may actually get ~ are two different things.  I can fantasize about spending more time with grandchildren, or doing a little traveling, or even try things I have not done before.  But in reality 11 out of 14 grandchildren live out of the state not to mention all of our children and grandchildren are very busy with their own lives especially now that the grands are getting older and more involved in activities of their own interests. Next, neither M. nor I are big travelers any more (having visited many places on the North American continent as well as a few places beyond we now prefer destinations within a somewhat reasonable driving distance).  Finally, I honestly don’t know what I haven’t tried yet that I might like to do (skydiving and running a marathon will never be on my list).  M. will participate in activities with me to a point, but sometimes I want/need “girl-time” shopping, conversations and lunches. With my peeps moving away that presents a new challenge that will most likely push me outside of my comfort zone.  Plus no matter what the plans wind up being, our health is the overall key component. I recognize I am extremely blessed to even have this concern and for that I am very thankful.

If you have made it this far reading this post ~ thank you ~ I really need to start sorting this out.

In closing, I know one thing for sure ~ I have to trust.  Trust our financial adviser that we will be okay financially (not over the top just okay).  Trust myself that I can get through the adjustments during this transition and accept my new normal. Trust that opportunities will arise that will allow new friends to come into my life.  Trust that good health will prevail.  Trust that my days will be filled with moments that both challenge and excite me to give it my best.  Trust that my husband, our children and grandchildren and I will maintain our close bond and connection. And most importantly trust that God has a plan for me and trust that He is and will be with me in all transitions good and bad.  John 14:  Let not your heart be troubled…

I read some retirement blogs and many of you have made some major changes, keep busy with quality activities and are making the most out of the “Next Act” in your lives. You have given me inspiration and I will continue to read your advice and words of wisdom, enjoy your adventures, and pay close attention to your successes and failures. I value all that you share.  In the meantime, I want to take notes, make lists, whatever I need to do to get my head in the right place so when I walk out that door on my last day of work it will be with a smile on my face and joyful anticipation as the curtain rises on my “Next Act.”

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Remembering Names or How to Recover If You Can’t

Have you ever forgotten someone’s name?  I have. Even if we have just been introduced and I heard it only moments before, I sometimes find myself forgetting that quickly!

M. and I wanted to have some trees and bushes cut back and pruned as well as a drainage concern looked at in our yard.  We had several people come out to give us estimates on the cost of the project.  No sooner did the contractors give us their names when the words went in one ear and right out the other.  It was embarrassing to have to ask them to restate their name especially after they had been so professional and friendly.

I have tried a few of my own tricks such as repeating their name right after the introduction: “Glad to meet you, George” or repeat it silently to myself over and over a few times.  Most of the time these work, but only if I make the effort to do it.

This article in Forbes written by, Kristi Hedges, recommends the five best tips to remember names:

  1. Meet and Repeat.  
  2. Spell it out. Ask the person to spell their name for you.  This might work unless it is very simple like Mark or Ann.
  3. Associate. Conjure an image when you first hear a name or create an alliteration ie. Rita in Real Estate or Chet from Chicago.
  4. Make a connection.  Think of someone else you know with the same name.
  5. Choose to care.  Make a conscious decision to care enough to remember the name of the people you meet.

As I was searching the internet I ran across this unique way to recover when you have forgotten someone’s name.

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How do you remember someone’s name?

Also posted on #SeniSal

 

Sunday Stills on Monday ~ My World of Blue

Another opportunity to participate in Terry Webster Schrandt’s Sunday Stills. Check out the link to see some creative themes of blue.

Here are my entries this week:

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My oldest grandson when he broke the city meet record (for his age group) as he swam the 25 yard butterfly in the 8 year old and under competition.  Hard to believe this was 7 years ago!  He still swims competitively.

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M. and I enjoy attending local community theaters, so when we had the opportunity see a Broadway tour within walking distance of our hotel we immediately bought tickets. We saw this musical while visiting the historic Westend of Greenville, South Carolina for a few days this recent Fourth of July. I am in no way qualified to review this show, but in my opinion, it was excellent!

img_5976-e1562522645779.jpgPlaying concentration with my youngest grandson last summer.  He was better skilled than I was at this game!

IMG_9187My very favorite blue striped sheets.  These are so soft and the bonus is they keep me cool at night.

IMG_9189And finally ~ M. was cooking breakfast when I snapped this photo of my favorite dishes.  I only own a few pieces from this set, but I use them as often as I can during the spring and summer because ~ well ~ they just make me happy!

Also posted on #SeniSal

 

Sunday Stills on Tuesday: The Great Outdoors

Thanks Terri Webster Schrandt for the opportunity to participate in this photo challenge. I have been very blessed to have visited many gorgeous places on the continent of North America which includes the key areas of almost all of the 50 states as well as Canada and parts of Mexico. But I got to thinking that most of those photos (I could share) you can easily see in any travel brochure.  So the particular photos I chose are all within an easy drive or a few steps from my home.  It is nice to think the “Great Outdoors” can be so close. I thought it would be fun to participate so here is my contribution:

 

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An approaching storm at the beach.

 

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Just outside my bedroom window.

 

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The view my son had while tandem skydiving in Georgia.

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The moon rising in Hilton Head, South Carolina

 

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Spectacular sunset along the Gulf Coast in the panhandle area of Florida.

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This cool and refreshing spot is a short drive from my home.

 

Check out #Sunday Stills to see other links to some wonderful photos.

 

Treat Yourself to the Luxuries You Deserve

Simple treats and small luxuries are so important to my well being. When life gets hectic it is easy to let this go, but that is usually when I need them the most!

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Silence.  Oh the joy of quiet time! The opportunity to listen to my own thoughts, clear my head, talk to God, or listen to the sounds of nature from my back yard patio.

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Good books.  I love to read!  I especially enjoy stories that leave me missing the characters once the story has ended or challenges me to think.  Feeling the weight of a book in my hand as I turn the pages gives me pleasure.

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Comfortable shoes.  My feet have carried me many miles and deserve to be pampered.  No longer caring as much about the fashion trends as I do the comfort of well padded, well fitting shoes.

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Pleasant sounds.  Laughter, listening to music (the type depends on my mood as I enjoy so many genres), and good conversations are just a few of the pleasant sounds I savor.

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Massage.  Whenever my daughter comes to visit we take turns massaging each other’s neck, upper back and shoulders.  My sweet husband rubs my feet almost every night before bedtime.  There is something about the touch of one skin to another that is relaxing and calming.

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Warmth.  A cozy fire in the fireplace, hugs, warm cookies or sweet bread from the oven, my favorite blanket, or a mug of delicious coffee, tea, and cider are comforting.  I especially love warm socks on my feet while unwinding before bedtime in the winter.

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Sweetness.  Kind words, fresh fudge, good smelling bath soap, snuggling with loved ones, cuddling my dog, and talking to my children and grandchildren are some of the sweetest things in my life.

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What luxuries do you enjoy?

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