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!)