Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Raging River

Imagine that you're in the middle of a raging river. Your heart is racing, adrenaline is pumping and all you can focus on is surviving and getting to the bank on the other side.

Once you are safely across you look around in order to figure out where you are and how to get home.

Once you're safely home and away from the danger of the raging river, you might start processing the event and thinking about how scary that was and how on Earth you made it through that ordeal.

It may be months or years later. You are running the bath water. You watch the water lap against the edge of the tub and that fear and anxiety catches in your chest. You think, "I hate the raging river" and "There's no way I'm getting in that bathtub."

Phobias may begin to crop up, like the fear of going into deep water, or driving over a bridge. I refer to it as the "swirl" but I have friends who describe it as being stuck in the water spinning down a faucet. Interesting that we visualize the feeling the exact same way.

For me, the raging river is my cancer diagnosis diagnosis and surviving the treatment in 2008. I coped in order to get through the trauma. Later I began to process what had happened and then there was a trigger (one of my best friends, Jenn, was diagnosed with stage-IV breast cancer) and that allowed me to suddenly grieve the trauma/loss felt back in 2008-2010.

This is how my therapist describes post traumatic stress disorder to me and the only analogy that has actually made sense based on my experience.

I hope by sharing this here it can help someone else. Your experience doesn't have to be cancer, it can be any loss or trauma you have experienced. You're not alone and it does get better.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

April: 8 Things I Love Right Now

It was during a visit with my family that my mom insisted that my brother play a video on his iPhone for me. It was a new artist that, at the time, we thought was the son of Sting. My mom still refers to him as “Baby Sting.” I watch a very emotional and passionate video with a Belgian-Australian singer, who to me, looked French. Genealogy aside, this man’s voice took me back to the 1980's and The Police and I was enthralled by the sound. It wasn’t even a week later and I heard him on the radio … he went mainstream in the U.S. and the tickets that were originally $30 at the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C. jumped to $150. I love my French "Baby Sting."

Watch Gotye’s ‘Somebody That I Used To Know (feat. Kimbra)’

It’s that time of year … when peonies bloom. They are my favorite flowers and they only bloom between April and June, depending on where you live. I find them to be incredibly elegant. I love the roundness of the bloom and how full they get. (I know, I'm super girly.) They remind me of the vendors at sporting events that would carry a bouquet of cotton candy. If I were getting married in the spring, I would have a huge bouquet of peonies. After falling in love with the bloom I did some research on it. The peony is named after Paeon (also spelled Paean), a student of Asclepius, the Greek god of medicine and healing. Asclepius became jealous of his pupil; Zeus saved Paeon from the wrath of Asclepius by turning him into the peony flower.

Wellness Warrior
I was introduced to Jess Ainscough’s blog several months ago. She is an Australian writer, blogger and certified holistic health coach. What intrigued me about her story is that four years ago (when I was diagnosed with cancer) she was diagnosed with an aggressive, rare form of cancer called Epithelioid Sarcoma, in her left hand and arm. After going through chemotherapy and going into remission, a year later the cancer came back. Instead of going through more chemotherapy, radiation and amputation of her arm, she began searching for natural, alternative cancer treatments. I find her journey to be inspiring and I have already used several of her recipes which are delicious.

Read Jess’ blog called Wellness Warrior.

Schwinn Voyageur 7
With my fiance, Matt, being passionate about bike riding, I thought it could be fun if I used some of my generous bonus and purchase a bike for myself. Matt has a fancy bike made for speed. It’s a TREK bike that I got him for Christmas two years ago. I didn’t want something where I had to lean over and pretend that I have a “need for speed.” Instead, I wanted something that I could ride leisurely around the neighborhood and even buy a little trailer for Jasper to tag along with me. I found the perfect bike and it will be shipping in the next two weeks. They didn't have an XS in stock, so I had to order it from their warehouse.

See the Schwinn Voyageur 7.

Spring Wardrobe
If you know me well, then you know I love fashion. After a significant closet purge, I decided it was time to start replacing some of my older clothing that has either seen better days, looks a little too young on me or no longer fits. My purge had to happen in two phases since I was pretty attached to some items initially.

I am really into vintage-inspired pieces that have a lot of movement, color and pattern. I love Anthropologie and South Moon Under, but over time these stores can become really expensive, so I have started finding unique pieces at shops like, ModCloth, Shop Ruche, Shabby Apple, Tulle, and Matilda Jane Clothing. With my cute new items, I’ll be ready to step into spring once it arrives.

Visit Anthropologie, South Moon Under, ModCloth, Shop Ruche, Shabby Apple, Tulle, and Matilda Jane Clothing.

ALICE (in wonderland)
Never before has The Washington Ballet combined such forces to create a new ballet. From the revolutionary vision of artistic director Septime Webre, designer Liz Vandal (Cirque du Soliel's OVO) and composer Matthew Pierce comes a spectacularly re-imagined take on Lewis Carroll's classic story. Enter the magical world of Alice's adventures April 11-15 at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., splendidly costumed and gloriously danced… an unforgettable journey down the rabbit hole and the season's grandest production!

Read more about the production ALICE.

Say what you want about acupuncture, but it has made me feel significantly better. I have more energy, feel stronger and more balanced. I don’t attribute my new found health 100% to acupuncture. My acupuncturist suggested several vitamins, which I am taking regularly. They consist of vitamin C, D3, fish oil, multivitamins, and probiotics. I have also readjusted my eating patterns so that I am consuming less sugar and more protein. It wasn’t easy, but within three weeks my body had enough strength and energy that I felt like working out again. I am also getting a massage once a month to help with the circulation issues in my hands and feet from the Tamoxifen. I don’t know if my body will ever be back to where it was, but it is my responsibility, and mine alone, to do everything in my power to live a healthy life and give myself the best possible odds to not suffer with cancer again.

Welcome to Seasons in Our Life: Well Being, Healing, Self-Improvement

Okra and Parsnips and Cashews, Oh My
I have started practicing the Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 and have moved into a more organic and fresh diet. You are what you eat, after all. Poor Matt watched as I purged all the bad food in the pantry and refrigerator back in December and since then I have vowed to prepare a healthy dinner Monday through Friday. For a guy who worked in a cheese steak shop in Philadelphia, cutting out the red meat has been challenging, but it’s a work in progress. In this process, I realized that I’m allergic to hazelnuts and soy and that Matt hates kale, eggplant, fish, mustard, mayo, beets and many other items. Again, it’s a process. I learned that I’m really good at cooking and there are new foods that I love eating. You have to remember, everything tasted metallic to me for about two years from the chemotherapy, so I am really starting to enjoy new flavors.

What simple pleasures are adding to your life at the moment?