Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Holiday Stuff

All Hail Winter Break!  And the first day of winter!  WOOHOO!  That means from here on out, the days are getting longer.  YES!

So far I have attended a christmas party, finished up my lesson plans (and will not be working AT ALL for the next two weeks #workyourproperdutyday), slept a lot, splurged on yummy food, saw Star Wars (!!!), read my current book: The Martian, spent ridiculous amounts of time fiddling around on the internet, and shopped shopped and shopped for Christmas presents.  

So, Star Wars - WHOA! Amazing! I LOVE ALL THE NEW CHARACTERS! (no spoilers in this entry, I promise!)  Well, in reference to my last entry regarding bodily functions, I have since been feeling very PMS-y.  Ever since the thing, THE THING THE THING, happened in Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, I think the Force Awakened My Ovaries.   Nothing else to show for it, other than the moderate menstrual-like cramping.  I did a little research on it.   General consensus says that its takes about 6 months to return back to normal, and its not uncommon to experience "phantom periods".  Hmmm....Perhaps that will be the name of the next Star Wars movie.  
Star Wars Episode VIII: The Phantom Periods.   Ah!  2 torturous years!!  How did you all do this in 1977??

Christmas....Oy....I'm sticking to my declaration that I will not be complaining about anything associated with the winter season.  However, I do want to share an idea in response to the stresses of holiday shopping.  I included the article I read, below, that made my heart go "THIS.  All. of. this."
So this year, I'm taking just a small turn in another direction.  I bought less stuff, and more Experiences-Oriented items. 

I've always secretly wanted to say "Okay, this year we AREN'T DOING GIFTS.  We are going on a vacation, instead!  Spending money on experiences and memories instead of gifts."  Maybe sometime, we will still do that.  But in the meantime, I still bought "stuff."  And I still get excited about receiving "stuff".

So Happy Holidays, Everyone!

How to Give Gifts Without Buying “Stuff.”

Via on Dec 12, 2015
christmas wrapping mess

Letting go is a very popular topic. Just Google those two words and there are untold articles on letting go—of stress, personal baggage, toxic relationships, negative thoughts, bad behavior—and the list goes on.

Often the Buddha is mentioned in these missives. Generally speaking, “letting go” refers to letting go of attachment to all of the above. We do get attached.
But I have come to the conclusion that the hardest attachment of all to let go of is the attachment to stuff, and to buying stuff. This is the time of year when we are encouraged to buy more and more stuff to get attached too. And it seems no amount of meditation and spiritual awareness can offset the heavy bombardment of advertising we are all subjected to.
How do we let go of the habit of buying more stuff for people and ourselves, in a world with too much stuff already?
I admit that each year, I have come to dislike the Christmas (yes, Christmas) season more and more, since the reason for the season—shopping—starts earlier and earlier every year. It started well before Halloween this year.
The urge to buy more stuff for children, spouses, significant others, mothers, fathers, friends, and ourselves, often leaves us emotionally drained, disappointed, feeling inadequate, and often no happier, or genuinely unhappy.
So what compels us to continue our quest to buy and have more stuff? Well, for one thing, Americans now see more advertisements in one year than people 50 or 60 years ago saw in an entire lifetime! We are manipulated into buying more and more things we don’t need.
Then we hold onto them long after they have fulfilled whatever momentary delight or function they had. But holding on to them doesn’t mean we actually use them. In fact, according to some studies, only 5 percent of material purchases are still in use 6 months later.

Making a conscious decision to let go of stuff is leads to a strong desire to buy or acquire less stuff. This is not of course what the manufacturers, retailers, marketers, advertisers, or even our government want. So they will redouble their efforts to seduce us out of our self-proclaimed austerity.
And what about the stuff you buy? What do you know about it? Where did it come from? What about the people involved in its production—how are their lives impacted? What natural resources are used to produce the stuff? What is the environmental impact of producing the things we run out to big box stores to buy?
Every year for at least the last five years I have posted and reposted this wonderful twenty-one minute video called The Story of Stuff on Facebook hoping my FB friends will watch. I start posting it just before Thanksgiving and keep posting it periodically until just before Christmas. If you haven’t seen it, do watch it and if you have, watch again. This little cartoon video should give you the impetus you need to withstand the bombardment of advertising and guilt tripping you are undoubtedly being subjected to right now.
So what to do to avoid running around in a frenzy trying to buy just the right gift, and the anxiety of not being sure what right actually is? Well first this old adage is true, if somewhat trite—it’s the thought that counts. So what is the thought? Is it one centered on your own fear and angst about what to get someone, or the cost of the thing you want to buy them but really can’t afford, or wanting to be praised for the wonderful gift you bought? Be honest.
Or, do you honestly want to give a meaningful gift to someone you genuinely care about? Here are some ideas:
*Cook friends or family members a wonderful gourmet meal.
*Offer to cook a meal once a month for a year.
*Hire a chef for the night to cook a meal for you and your significant other.
*Bake something wonderful –cookies, cakes, pastries, etc.
*Make homemade soap or lotion bars.
*Make something out of recycled materials.
*Tickets to a game for someone who loves a particular team.
*Tickets to a concert for someone who loves a particular artist.
*Offer to babysit once a month so friends or family members can have a date night.
*Plant a tree in the name of someone.
*Buy farm animals through Heifer International to support a family in the third world.
Here are some more suggestions. We don’t need more stuff.
But we do need more time for each other. We do need to offer more of ourselves to our friends and families. And that can’t be bought in a big box store.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Bodily Functions

So, this blog was originally created to talk primarily about let's-beat-cancer inspiration, with the occasional post about education, random observations about life, and expressions of gratitude.  Now that I've beaten cancer (woohoo!), I expect it will become more the latter than the original intent.  However, I will welcome continued thoughts about my experience with cancer, because honestly, its done nothing but good things for my life.  I'm still planning on getting that elephant tattoo to permanently remind me of the lessons I've learned.   Feb. 5th.  Which reminds me, I need to make an appointment.

I've had several people in the past few weeks comment on how I look, and not the "you look good" type comments that I was so used to receiving as a form of encouragement throughout my treatment.  Instead its for realz "You look GOOD.  You look like you FEEL good."

Yep.  They would be correct.  I would argue that I'm healthier now than I was my previous 32 years of life.  Its amazing how impactful focusing on sleeping, eating, and keeping active can have on how you feel from day to day.   I remember all too clearly what it was like to walk around trying to function normally with chemotherapy attacking my system.  I don't remember as clearly what it was like before that, but my daily life was all things sluggish, stressed, and tired all the time.  That was my NORMAL.   How did I live like that?  

And, I'm going to get TMI for a second.   My body tells me everyday how much healthier I am through my daily productions in the toilet.
#1 is beautiful, sparkling, clear, and hydrated.   I can't make it through a single night anymore without having to get up and release the water that has been cleansing and hydrating my body.  I got into the habit of drinking tons of water during chemo because of the threat of bladder failure.  And I've kept it up pretty well since then.
#2 is...well no one REALLY wants descriptive adjectives on that...but I'll just say, I'm tempted to take pictures, and post it like everyone does with babies.  LOOK AT MY CREATION!  Its PERFECT.  Poop doesn't lie, folks.  I've created a healthier and happier life.

And exercise.  So I bought a fitness tracker a few months ago.  Love it.  It keeps track of my goals.  I have this need, since I was a student to be 100%.  So when my sleep isn't at 100%, I go to bed earlier the next night.  When my activity is not at 100%, I'm power-walking in circles in my living room (much to the confusion of the dogs) to get my step-count up.    I went to Zumba the other day at the gym for the first time this season, and I stayed the entire hour.    I used to stay for 20 mins or so and leave (pant...pant...pant.......no more today, please).  Now I make it easily to the end.

I do need to work on improving the quality of my sleep though.  Between having to get up for the bathroom at least once a night, and hot flashes, I rarely sleep soundly through the night.  My fitness tracker tells me good job for the amount of sleep I get, but admonishes me for failing every single time to have a night of uninterrupted sleep.
I'm getting better though.  The hot flashes are becoming less; my doctor told me this would happen.  However, I have this thing that happens EVERY early morning, I've come to call it "the big chill".    I always get a little chilly right before a hot flash is about to happen, but for some reason around 5:15am I get SUPER COLD.  And I can't get warm until the hot-flash-of-all-hot-flashes happens 10 minutes or so later.  Ug.  So mornings are super hectic because I'm huddling under the covers and refuse to get out until I get warm/sweltering hot again, and then I'm rushing around and being late for work!  I did find a half-way solution though.  I keep my onesie yoda pajamas by the bed (yep, onesie yoda pajamas).  So when its time to get up, I can pop out of the bed, strip off the damp hot/cold pjs I was wearing, and put on the amazing soft warm full body comfort that is YODA.  I love my yoda pajamas.  They were an impulsive purchase at Walmart when I was supposed to be buying dog food.  No regrets.

And, um, my eyebrows.  Where the heck did they go????  They grew back in super nice, and then they thinned out again.  Grr!  Possibly a side effect of the Tamoxifen.  I think I read something about hair thinning.  But its only the eyebrows and armpit hair <-- not complaining about that one.

And I got my THIRD haircut today.  :D
Changed the color too.  "Walnut" brown this time.

Before:  (officially out-of-control.  The chemo-curl struggle is real!)

After: (she really didn't cut much.  Just tamed the out-of-control parts!)

Monday, November 23, 2015


I'm making a declaration to the world.

I.  Will Not.  Be Complaining.  About The Cold This Year.  Or Ever Again.  From this point forward.

(grand pause)

Yep.  I said it.  

I was introduced last year to the concept of Hygge.  (Which I have included an article for your perusal below.)  Basically, its a Danish thing where the people purposely engage in creating a cozy and grateful attitude in the cold dark hours of winter.  Cuz, you know, Denmark has a lot of cold dark hours of winter.   I'm reminded of this picture:

Yea, so that Magical Wonderland of Lights FalalalalalalaLAAAAAA!....That's Hygge.  Attention Superman:  the christmas lights will be remaining up this year until it reaches 65-degrees outside.  Candles.  Twinkly Lights.  Fireplace.  All the Hygge, all the time.  Happy Winter Heather Time.

This weekend I went to a free Yoga Basics class at my yoga studio, just to see what it was about.  It was a new thing they started.  The session's focus was on Yin Yoga taught by my FAVORITE TEACHER, Sally.  I love her because she not only leads us through the poses but tells us little nuggets of wisdom from leading Yoga practitioners and facts about how this pose benefits this particular organ, etc. etc.  Well, since this yoga class was created for beginners to get an introduction to yoga and able to ask questions, she spoke more about the Yin Practice and its purpose, and I am now YIN YOGA NERD.

So, Yin is characterized by loooooooong poses, held for 3 - 5 minutes, and the purpose is to increase mindfulness of the sensations in your body.  Whether it is pleasant or unpleasant (but not painful), the goal is to notice but not react.  Stay in place for the duration of the hold and be apart of the experience.  Breathe gratitude into that feeling.  It is challenging for the mind, and the controversy is some yoga teachers believe that beginners should never start in a Yin class, because it seems easy physically, but isn't.  You take yourself to your edge, respectfully, and without judgement of what you're feeling.  And stay there.  And breathe.

Well, here is my transfer to Hygge.   The cold.  Is UNPLEASANT.  Walking from my car to whatever indoor place I'm supposed to be....UGH.....BLEH.....YUCK...........  Welp... I'm not going to complain anymore.  I'm going to breathe gratitude into the cold (because I survived to see another winter season), stay in place for the duration of the hold, allow myself to reach my edge, respectfully and without judgement.  And breathe.  Its unpleasant and that's ok.   And an excuse to be cozy and happy and have twinkly lights and candles and read a book with my slippers and two blankets and a dog or two at my feet and enjoy warm beverages with my friends, family, or just by myself.


*mic drop*

Hygge: A heart-warming lesson from Denmark

  • 2 October 2015
  • From the section Magazine

Two pairs of feet in socks in front of a roaring fireImage copyrightThinkstock

In today's Magazine

A UK college has started teaching students the Danish concept of hygge - said to make homes nicer and people happier. But what exactly is it and is it exportable?
Sitting by the fire on a cold night, wearing a woolly jumper, while drinking mulled wine and stroking a dog - probably surrounded by candles. That's definitely "hygge".
Eating home-made cinnamon pastries. Watching TV under a duvet. Tea served in a china set. Family get-togethers at Christmas. They're all hygge too.
The Danish word, pronounced "hoo-ga", is usually translated into English as "cosiness". But it's much more than that, say its aficionados - an entire attitude to life that helps Denmark to vie with Switzerland and Iceland to be the world's happiest country.

Mother with two young children by Christmas treeImage copyrightThinkstock

Morley College, in central London, is teaching students how to achieve hygge as part of its Danish language course. "We have long, cold winters in Denmark," says lecturer Susanne Nilsson. "That influences things. Hygge doesn't have to be a winter-only thing, but the weather isn't that good for much of the year." 
With up to 17 hours of darkness per day in the depths of winter, and average temperatures hovering around 0C, people spend more time indoors as a result, says Nilsson, meaning there's greater focus on home entertaining.
"Hygge could be families and friends getting together for a meal, with the lighting dimmed, or it could be time spent on your own reading a good book," she says. "It works best when there's not too large an empty space around the person or people." The idea is to relax and feel as at-home as possible, forgetting life's worries.
The recent growth in Scandinavian-themed restaurants, cafes and bars in the UK is helping to export hygge, she adds, with their intimate settings, lack of uniformity in decor and concentration on comforting food. Most customers won't have heard of the term, but they might get a sense of it.
In the US, the wallpaper and fabric firm Hygge West explicitly aims to channel the concept through its cheery designs, as does a Los Angeles bakery, called Hygge, which sells traditional Danish pastries and treats.

Candles in a saunaImage copyrightThinkstock

"The rest of the world seems to be slowly waking up to what Danes have been wise to for generations - that having a relaxed, cosy time with friends and family, often with coffee, cake or beer, can be good for the soul," says Helen Russell, author of The Year of Living Danishly: Uncovering the Secrets of the World's Happiest Country. "Hygge seems to me to be about being kind to yourself - indulging, having a nice time, not punishing or denying yourself anything. All very useful come January when in the UK everyone's on diets or manically exercising or abstaining from alcohol. 
"There isn't so much enforced deprivation in Denmark. Instead you're kinder to yourselves and so each other. Danes don't binge then purge - there's not much yo-yo dieting in Denmark. No wonder they're happier than we are in the UK."
The adjectival form of hygge is "hyggeligt", a word offered as a compliment to a host after a pleasant evening at their home.
"Hygge isn't just a middle-class thing. Absolutely everyone's at it from my dustbin man to the mayor," says Russell. "Hygge is so crucial to living Danishly that the other day on the motorway, I saw a camper van driving along with lit candles in the windows. This is probably illegal but Vikings don't tend to be too hung up on health and safety.

Window in the snowImage copyrightALAMY

"My most hygge experience to date was probably watching the sun set from a hot tub in a blizzard in January, beer in hand. But it needn't be anything quite so dramatic. I generally light a candle at my home office desk while I'm working."
There's increased discussion of hygge in the UK. "I think I first saw the word in Trine Hahnemann's book Scandinavian Christmas, and it immediately made sense to me," says Kayleigh Tanner, author of the Hello Hygge blog. "It's a pretty hard thing to describe because it's so abstract, but I think it resonates with a lot of people.

Origin of 'Hygge'

  • Term comes from a Norwegian word meaning "wellbeing"
  • First appeared in Danish writing in the 19th Century and has since evolved into the cultural idea known in Denmark today

"It's interesting that the word doesn't really translate into other languages. Hygge isn't restricted to Denmark, so why is it so hard to describe without borrowing a Danish word?"
It sounds a bit like the English word "hug", for which the Oxford English Dictionary lists no origins. The 19th/early 20th Century philologist Walter William Skeat thought it might be of Scandinavian origin. Notionally the effect of hygge and a hug is similar - comforting and secure. An obsolete meaning of hug is "to cherish oneself; to keep or make oneself snug", according to the OED.
"Sometimes you see or do things that you would call 'hyggeligt' in the UK but you wouldn't use that word to describe them because people wouldn't know what you're talking about," says Nilsson.
Some older Danes feel that hygge isn't what it used to be, as the stress on socialising has lessened. It's now generally considered hyggeligt to watch TV alone or watching a DVD set, perhaps while eating crisps.
Hygge was never meant to be translated - it was meant to be felt
ToveMaren Stakkestad
Other countries and cultures have similar expressions. In German there's Gemutlichkeit, a sense of wellbeing based on good food, company and perhaps a drink. But Danes insist hygge is unique.
The blogger Anna Lea West, has offered "cosiness of the soul" as an English definition. "Hygge was never meant to be translated. It was meant to be felt," translator ToveMaren Stakkestad has written. Maybe the only way to understand this slippery cultural idea is to visit Denmark, rather than read about it.
"It's an idea so rooted in the Danish sense of togetherness, and perhaps even in Denmark's social democracy, that a Brit might struggle to grasp its historic and social significance," says Patrick Kingsley, author of the travel book How To Be Danish. 
"But that said, in essence hygge is about a group of slightly gloomy friends huddling under the duvet on a cold winter's night. And there is little more British than that."

Medical treatments in the bag

I saw my oncologist earlier this week, just to check in on how I'm coping with the Tamoxifen (great! aside from hot flashes, no issues!).  I don't see her again for another six months!  omg.  SIX MONTHS!

I see my radiation doctor next week, checking in on my skin after radiation treatments have finished (great! some slight discoloration of the skin, but essentially back to normal!).

I see my surgeon next month, checking in on the healing of my incisions (great! aside from being slightly itchy sometimes, no issues!)

I saw a physical therapist this morning, to receive information regarding Lymphadema.

Lymphedema is a potential side effect of breast cancer surgery and radiation therapy that can appear in some people during the months or even years after treatment ends.
Lymph is a thin, clear fluid that circulates throughout the body to remove wastes, bacteria, and other substances from tissues. Edema is the buildup of excess fluid. So lymphedema occurs when too much lymph collects in any area of the body. If lymphedema develops in people who’ve been treated for breast cancer, it usually occurs in the arm and hand, but sometimes it affects the breast, underarm, chest, trunk, and/or back.
Why does lymphedema happen? As part of their surgery, many people with breast cancer have at least two or three lymph nodes removed from under the arm (sentinel lymph node biopsy), and sometimes many more nodes (axillary lymph node dissection). If the cancer has spread, it has most likely moved into to those underarm lymph nodes first because they drain lymph from the breast. Many people also need radiation therapy to the chest area and/or underarm. Surgery and radiation can cut off or damage some of the nodes and vessels through which lymph moves. Over time, the flow of lymph can overwhelm the remaining pathways, resulting in a backup of fluid into the body’s tissues.
I'm not experiencing any issues, but its recommended to go get the education, and measured for a prevention sleeve.  That way, when I fly in an airplane or do any excessive activity with my right arm, I can put on the sleeve to prevent any issues.  Or if I do have issues in the future, they have the knowledge and everything on file to proceed forward in treating it.  She told me I am her favorite kind of patient.  Easy.  Little issues.  And as a result of going through this tremendous upheaval in my life, open to following all the directions, getting the education, and making the changes needed to proceed forward.  yep, that's me.  The good student.  haha....

And because I had a MRI recently (Aug. before surgery), my oncologist said I don't need any tests anytime soon.  I will do a bi-lateral mammogram in January or February to get baseline data about all the breast changes as a result of surgery, radiation, etc.   And then, I think she told me I will just need to get annual mammograms to both sides every July or so.

Basically just monitoring from here on out!

I got this in the bag, people!

Its a surreal time for me right now.   My Thanksgiving holiday break started today, and there was a short time when I wasn't sure (in the dark times of initial testing, and waiting on answers) that I didn't know if I would make it to see the next thanksgiving holiday.  My previous self would normally enter this time somewhat grumpy and disgruntled by the cold weather, and long dark nights.  But this year, I've decided to change that.  The coming of cold weather and long dark nights means that I survived!

This brings me to my next topic:  Hygge.

More to come. :)

Sunday, November 15, 2015


I had a 45 minute phone conversation with a student's parent last thing before I left for the weekend on Friday, which reduced me to tears and temporarily shattered my inner piece.  She confided in me news about her health that will be devastating to her family, and in turn affect her son in my classroom.    I promptly went out to buy an elephant bracelet, to send home with her son to give to her.  Its a duplicate of the elephant bracelet that I bought myself on the day of my biopsy - a symbol of good luck, strength, serenity, and wisdom (hence the creation of this blog).

For the majority of my weekend, I've been carrying this grief, for a person I hardly know, heavily on my back, and fully acknowledging that I have to let it go.

Then I remembered the turtle charm that a friend brought me from his travels, and the symbolism behind it.  I don't remember the exact words he told me, but I looked it up.

I finally found a place for my turtle to live, attaching it to a bracelet representing life's journey:  Live the life you love.  Love the life you live.  I think its fitting, and plan to wear it often.  The elephant will always be my thing, but the turtle can be an extra guardian as I charge forth into the newly improved life that has been built around me.  I am learning new lessons everyday, as a result of my experience the past 9 months -> February 5th, forever being the day that changed my life.  (Feb. 5th is also my half birthday!)

Turtles are a popular symbol in mythology because of their longevity and one’s hope and wish for a long life. With their protective shells and charming demeanor, they are often found to be symbols of tranquility. Many cultures depict the turtle as carrying the world on its back or supporting the heavens.

I'm carrying the weight of this woman's news on my back right now, but I need to let my turtle shell protect me.

Turtles and Elephants have a lot in common, both being a symbol of strength and tranquility.

I hope that the elephant bracelet will mean something to her, and help give her strength as she marches forth.

So, between her news, still reeling from the death of my friend last week, all the horrible crazy things happening in the world right now (#Beirut #Paris #Refugees #Mizzou, all of which I can't even begin to comment on), and unexpectedly getting together with old, and wonderful friends from out of town, I've been an emotional roller coaster:  grief, joy, and nostalgia.  Life is Lifey.  I didn't anticipate this weekend to be so full.

Friday, November 13, 2015

The Role of the Teacher

I have found myself saying the words "Stop complaining at me like I'm your mother" lately in one of my classes.  The comment, said twice, was met with mixed reviews.   First, silence, confusion, and then snickering laughter.  Not sure what any of those reactions meant exactly, but it got me thinking about the role of the teacher and how its often confused by students and adults alike. 

I've heard comments recently observing the amount of respect given to teachers.  And I'm not referring particularly to the general public view of a teacher's job, which is constantly being scrutinized in the media, although I do think its related.  I'm referring to the student-to-teacher interaction.  And also, the teacher-to-student interaction.   Teachers often describe their roles in students lives, and with pride, as being a person of multiple roles, myself included.  However, I'm beginning to question the helpfulness to this approach.  Teachers are already overwhelmed with responsibility, so why are we welcoming the responsibility of ALL THE THINGS in this world along with it.

Let's be honest.  A teacher is not a parent.  A teacher is not a brother, sister, or family member.   A teacher is not a friend.  A teacher is not a counselor.  A teacher is not a medical provider.  A teacher is not a police officer.  A teacher is not an entertainer.  A teacher is not a babysitter.

What is a teacher?  A Learning Facilitator. 

I gave a concert this evening.  There is a class I struggle with ALOT.  I didn't know what to expect from them this evening.  But, by golly, every single last one of them SHOWED UP, PERFORMED WELL, and HANDLED THEMSELVES WITH DIGNITY AND STAGE PRESENCE.  I did not have confidence in either of these things.  Because in my classroom, it is a different story.  Its a particularly immature group of students, and the most challenging group in my career.  And out of all the classes in 9 years of teaching and in two communities, they are the only ones that I had 100% attendance at the concert.  I'm baffled by them.  They are also the group of students that 3 hours earlier I started their final class period/dress rehearsal for the concert by sending 2 students to the office for inciting to fight one another.  I, also, instead of spending my planning period preparing concert details, I was frantically pulling a seat-work assignment out of my butt to fulfill my requirements of the one-and-only attainable daily agenda for them:  keep them busy.  There is very little teaching going on in that class.  Their level of immaturity and lack of respect for peers and adults has, often times, deemed them as Unteachable and Uncoachable.  Reminds me of the quote:  "Uncoachable students turn into unemployable adults" and this reminder upsets me greatly because I'm not fulfilling my role, as the teacher.

But, anyway, the purpose of my writing today was not to complain about my teaching deficiencies.  It was to describe that moment when I realized:  They are HERE, all of them.  They are performing beautiful music.  They are presenting themselves with dignity and maturity.  They.  Are.  Capable.

So the problem is:  the classroom.   I heard another teacher comment recently on how they notice that students don't respect teachers in comparison to other situations.  I won't specify what kind of situation: different school, different city, different country, it doesn't matter.  And I don't think the issue is "respect".  I think respect is a word that is often misunderstood.  Its more - is the teacher being treated AS A TEACHER?

To the student - A teacher is not a parent.  A teacher is not a brother, sister, or family member.   A teacher is not a friend.  A teacher is not a counselor.  A teacher is not a medical provider.  A teacher is not a police officer.  A teacher is not an entertainer.  A teacher is not a babysitter.

What is a teacher?  A Learning Facilitator.

A teacher is in a child's daily life in large and repeated doses for a short amount of time.  Teachers care about their students in a way different than their parents, friends, siblings, counselors, medical providers, police officers, entertainers, and babysitters.  I'm a teacher and I care so much my bones hurt.  Because if they are uncoachable when they leave my classroom, they are considered, at that time, unemployable.


And, oh my goodness, the loving care of a Middle School teacher is a force you can never imagine unless you have actually been one.  Middle School is a time of transition.  A time when they were previously cared for as a child to now being cared for as a young adult.  And every single darn last one of those stinkers reaches that transition from child to young adulthood at a different time.

I'm reminded again of my favorite teacher motivating video of all time, from Taylor Mali, and I think he summarizes the intended role of the teacher perfectly.  I've posted this before, and I am posting it again.  ENJOY!

Friday, November 6, 2015

42 days

In other news....

Losing Touch

I received a heart-breaking phone call this afternoon.  A friend of mine from my 42nd Street days (10 years ago.  wow.) died unexpectedly earlier this week.   We had lost touch in the last 5 years or so, but he was, for a short time, one of my CLOSEST friends and still one of my favorite people EVER.  I am crushed by this news.

Confession time:  I avoid talking on the phone, sometimes like the plague.  Even with my best friends or family members, I will ignore your phone call because #introverting.   Superman is the only phone call that I will always pick up, no matter what.   Dumb, right?  But its the reality of who I am.

Even as a child, I was horrendously scared of talking on the phone.  I have half-remembered memories of my grandfather calling the house, and he would prank me into thinking he was someone else!  Love that guy.  But I think he scarred me from the telephone for life...

Recently, I've spoken to people about how silly it is that I haven't SPOKEN face-to-face or voice-to-voice with them for years, but The Facebook, or The Twitter, or The Instagram, or ___________(fill in the blank with the electronic social media outlet) has given me the illusion that we are in touch.  I know what cute outfit their kid wore today, or that they did a fun run over the weekend, but I haven't spoken to them in....oh.....7 years.  Why is this ok??!?????!

It almost makes me want to log off of Facebook forever.  (almost... )  Go back to the old days to handwriting letters, stamping it, and waiting in anticipation for a return letter.  Running out to the mailbox, hoping!  I miss that feeling!  Being ACTUALLY IN TOUCH.  The illusion continues... you think you don't have time for this or that.  Yet, we spend hours and hours looking at Facebook with that time "we don't have".

Facebook.  I hate you but I love you.

The list filled with the names of my favorite people on this earth... how many of them have I actually conversed with in the last year?  How many of them called me at one time, left me a message just wanting to chat, and I didn't call them back?   The list is super long at the moment, with people sending me well-wishes and gifts, in response to my cancer diagnosis, and then again due to my surviving cancer.  Confession #2:  I never wrote thank you notes for our wedding gifts.  Its not a lack of thankfulness.  Its because of that illusion that I "don't have time".  No time to connect.  No time to be in touch.  No time to sleep.  No time to drink enough water.  No time to do yoga.  No time to take my dogs on a walk.  No time to TAKE CARE OF MYSELF and ENJOY LIFE.  Acceptance.  Gratitude.  Healing.   As anyone who has been reading this blog knows, I have been trying to change many things, and I'm adding this, the effort of keeping in touch, to my agenda.

So my friend dies, unexpectedly, and what would I give to pick up the phone RIGHT *%&$i^#*  NOW, even when I'm #introverting (because:  weekend), and call him just to say hello??

Absolutely.  Crushed.

So, if you receive a phone call from me, or more likely an email, text, Facebook private message, stamped handwritten letter in the mail just to say "Hi, here's what's going on in my life.  How are you doing?" ....or a thank you card for the wedding gift you gave me 3.5 years ago, this is why.


Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Blue Snow Day

So, thanks to the Royals EPIC WORLD SERIES WIN, I have the day off from work today.

Nope, you will not find me anywhere near that parade...!
But thanks for giving me the time to do it if I wanted to.

Instead, I am eating delicious t.Loft breakfast, updating my blog, going to 10:00 Hot Hatha yoga (I didn't like it the first time I tried it, so I'm giving it another chance...), watching the parade On The Couch, and somewhere in there watching the 9th - 12th inning that I missed when I put myself to bed.  haha.   That is the end of my plans so far.

I'm enjoying the chance to process all the Royals craziness, and then re-center and get back to real life.  Man!  I was obsessed.  Such fun!  I know I said this last year, I didn't think I was a baseball fan, but I guess I am!  Perhaps influenced by having such a fun home team to watch.

In other news, my Superman and Superfamily threw me a surprise party recently to celebrate the end of my cancer treatments.   I have to say, I was TRULY surprised.  I mean, I KNOW MY HUSBAND.  I knew somethiiiiiiing was up, but I had no idea it was happening.  (although, I did find it weird when he was vacuuming the house just two days after I JUST vacuumed the house. haha...)  I'm so grateful to everyone that came, and was happy to see all of them.

I do feel like life has returned to "normal" for the most part.  However, its a new and improved normal.   I swear to you that the teacher across the hall was sent to me through divine intervention.  She keeps me laughing all day, and encourages me to be active.  She and some of the other ladies at school have been walking and doing Zumba at the end of the work day and I join them whenever possible.  This has helped me stick to #workyourproperdutyday, as well.  Gotta be done by 3:30, so I can go Zumba!

I also bought a fitness tracker!  Its a Jawbone Up2, and I.  LOVE.  IT.

I was tossing between it and the features of the Garmin Vivo fit.  (I never did consider doing a fitbit.) The Garmin had a lot of features that I liked.  The Up2 lacks a console on the band, which I initially really wanted.  I sat on the floor of Best Buy for about an hour just looking at them and thinking.  The Best Buy employees finally realized they should just step over me and keep walking because there were no questions I had for them.  Just needed to think and decide! haha.  But then, noticing the Prop 65 carcinogens warning on the Garmin box is what settled the deal.
California's Proposition 65, also called the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act, was enacted in 1986. It is intended to help Californians make informed decisions about protecting themselves from chemicals known to cause cancer, birth defects, or other reproductive harm.

Its a precautionary warning and probably NOT a big deal.  However, I just spent considerable time and effort getting rid of cancer, so I'm not going to knowingly invite it back into my life!!!  No sir!!  The Up2 it is, and I couldn't be happier with it.  Its been doing its job.  Getting me off the couch and more active.  :)  Its super fun and satisfying to look in the app and see how much I've slept, how many steps I've taken today, enter in my yoga sessions and other workouts, and entering the food I eat.  It counts the calories and tells me the nutrient make-ups on them. (I'm not concerned with calories, but I LOVE that it tells me the nutrient information.)  It has a "smart coach" that tells me different tips on healthy choices and challenges me to do better.  Its perfect.  And the band is super cute, and I picked my favorite color.  It doesn't look like a fitness tracker.  It looks like a trendy bracelet.  Which was not what I originally wanted, but it turns out I love it.

Well, that's all for today.  No deep thoughts or revelations.  Just catching up, now that my Royals Fever has almost passed.  There's some great lessons to be learned from this season and last season (#resiliency), but I'll ponder on those a different day!  A day that wasn't an unexpected gift of a day off! :D  Much better than an actual snow day.  Its 70+ degrees outside!!!!

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Forgot to show you my new hair color!!

Did NOT intend for it to be so red.  I was looking for dark brown, with copper overtones.  haHA!  Oh well.  Its going to grow out super fast.  Like my hairstylist said, "Its growing like a weed!!"

And she showed me how to use "hair paste" to tame the frizz and give it texture.   Oooooo.   Aaaaaaaah.  Another hair product to add to my cabinet.... :P

Survivorship, Day 1

I took my first Tamoxifen today.  Only 1,824 days (5 years) left!  hahaaaaaaaaa.   ha.

I was nervous about how it would make me feel.  I felt a little queasy and fuzzy headed for a little bit - however, it could've been because I went too long before eating some breakfast.  And after some coffee, my fuzzy headedness went away.  Don't know if it was related.  But, regardless, I welcome it with open arms, for it will ensure that I live many many years of awesome life.  My oncologist said the benefit of Tamoxifen is as great, if not greater, than chemotherapy.  Another weapon in my arsenal.

Yesterday was celebration of the end of radiation.  I consider this day:  Survivorship, Day 1.   And I'm dressing the part.  I bought some new workout clothes yesterday, to get me ready and excited for my more active lifestyle.  Nothing like new outfits to get you ready!  So I'm wearing new sweatpants today, not because I actually did anything active, but because:  Saturday.  ha.  But, hey, its a start.  I'm doing  Zumba after-school on Monday.  And I bought some new tennis shoes today.  I've known my last pair of tennis shoes longer than I've known my husband!  Yep.

In other news, the Royals won the American League Championship last night!   Woke up to all kinds of fun shares on the Facebook.

My favorites:

#boysinblue   #worldseriesbound2015   #takethecrown   #believe  #blueoctoberisthebest

Thursday, October 22, 2015

DONE! but "treatment" to be continued...

Finished my last radiation today!

And the view is great from up here!!!  I get to celebrate with a day off from work tomorrow!!  Well, you didn't ask, but I'll tell you:   I'm getting my hair did, and then I'll do some yoga, and then I'll take a nap, and then I'll read a book, and then I'll......... do some other really fun stuff I haven't decided yet!  :) :) :)  (and I'll watch the royals game somewhere in there too!)


I rang the bell.  It was really loud, oops!

Good quote, next to the bell. "For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. -Jeremiah 29:11"

Superman had flowers delivered to my treatment, because he is stuck at parent-teacher conferences tonight.  He is always the hit of the doctor's office!!! :)  Whatta guy! <3
And the technicians made me a "graduation certificate".  :)

Through the process of this radiation regimen, I've proven to myself that I CAN #workmyproperdutyday.  Six weeks of radiation everyday, and I didn't miss a single one.  Heck!  I wasn't even late for one (anybody who knows me realizes this is nothing short of a miracle!)  I'm fully capable of dropping my work and leaving.  Pick up where I left off tomorrow, after I've gone home and participated in gratitude, acceptance, and healing.  Do the good work on another day.  (There are still SOME things that I continue to do at home, bad teacher, bad, but its kept to a minimum...)

So I've decided to continue my "treatment".  Put down all the stressful things at 3:30 and leave.  My treatment options include:  Go do Zumba. Go walk my dog.  Go to the gym.  Do yoga.  Still thinking of that personal trainer thing.  And looking into fitbit type devices.  
One of my co-workers showed me hers today, and, yep, its pretty darn cool.  It'll motivate me to keep moving!
I committed myself to treatment of some sort for the last 8 months.  I can certainly continue my "treatment" forever.  Check.

Cheers to continued "Treatment"!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015


One more.  One and done, people!

"Rocks in my path?  I keep them all.  With them I shall build my castle."  ~Nemo Nox

"Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny."  ~C.S. Lewis

"The deep sense that 'I am blessed' can help you overcome any obstacles in life." ~Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

Tuesday, October 20, 2015


Two more!

To give you an idea of what my skin is doing, here's a gross picture.

Centralized right under my armpit is the yuckiest part.  The rest of it is not that bad.  In fact, this picture was taken over the weekend, and its already getting better.

My radiation oncologist prescribed me some burn cream too, which I'll start using tonight.  Again, totally in the normal range of reactions.  Its just uncomfortable at times.  Where my skin has peeled, there is healthy skin underneath, and that's a very good thing!  Can't tell you how thankful I am that my body bounces back as good as it does.  I have a new appreciation for the healing properties of the immune system, and the affect of a good night's sleep on the rejuvenating process.  Sleep is a top priority.  And I have to say, I only had one "break down" moment in the evening.  It was last week sometime.  Superman commented on how I wasn't going to stay up for just a few more minutes for the last inning of baseball, and I'm like "NOPE. Can't do it. *tears*."  And I went to bed.  And the Royals won without me, as they are often prone to doing in the last innings of any game.

So anyway.  My skin.  Owie.  But its already getting better, and I'm still living the good life.

Currently eating pie, and watching baseball.  #thegoodlife