Low Key

I have celebrated big all along this journey. Hokey day just because I felt good. Trip to the beach when I finished the first round of chemo. A long trip to the beach when I completed Chemo all together. I was thrown a party just before I had a double mastectomy. 

Now here I am at the end of radiation. Done this intital leg of cancer. And I cannot think of any better way to celebrate than with my favorite two humans at our favorite restaurant. So low key it is. 

 Cancer will not defined me, but it won’t ever leave me alone. I will have more frequent doctors appointments then I did before. I will begin medication in two weeks that I will likely take the rest of my life. Some of my chemo side effects will be with me always. Those are just the realities. Cancer is a journey you don’t come back from the same. You don’t get to the end and move forward as if nothing happens. You and those closest to you, those that haven’t left your side, will be forever changed.

Just remember big things, my friends! Big things are coming! So until next we meet at the workbench…keep creating, enjoy your moments and love hard.  As always thank you for stopping by and for being on this journey with me.

Big Love,

Randi

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River Memories

I remember this time I was probably 8 going to the river and just going for a swim. The hole was pretty deep and we were near a small dam. Always having an old funky pair of sneakers to wear when you got in.

        The water is always freezing when you first touch it. But it’s one of those colds like water out the hose after mowing the yard… freezing, yet the most refreshing, alive feeling you felt in a quite some time.

         I remember being 14 and staying with nanny and Papa’s that summer while we were getting work done on the kitchen. I walked down to the bottom, through the fence and right past those cows to their drinking hole. Next thing I did was jump on in. Swam around and found a rock to hold onto to I could “float” and not get taken off. There is something adventurous and freeing about swimming in a crick or the river. Feeling the water flow over your feet as you walk. 

        I hadn’t felt that feeling in quite a while, so recently when my mini human asked me to join her in the river. Join her I did. It seemed like such a good idea walking down that hill, climbing down those rocks and walking into that freezing cold river water for just a few moments I forgot any part of me hurt. I wasn’t thinking about how different I appeared. I was laughing and enjoying the water with my girl and my nephew. Then I came home and I’m laying there trying to sleep reminded that I’m not 14 anymore. Happy moments and memories don’t come so easily any longer. I am still fighting for my health. I am still fighting for my new normal. But for a few moments that day I was simply enjoying the freezing flow of the river.

     Just remember big things, my friends! Big things are coming! So until next we meet at the workbench…keep creating, enjoy your moments and love hard.  As always thank you for stopping by and for being on this journey with me.

Big Love,

Randi

Tools from the Childhood Toolbox

Cancer has been a journey unlike any I have ever experienced. At least not where I was really paying attention. Cancer was not new to me. Not really. But I find myself wondering how could I have gotten some tools from my experiences as a child.

It was so cool rolling matchbox cars over Papa’s “roadmap” on his chest. I get the act of love that was for my brother and I. We were 10 and 7. He had lung cancer. He had to be exhausted. His chest had to hurt. And yet there he was loving us. There are so many questions I use I had known at 10 to ask. What I would give for one more circle bologna sandwich.

I can close my eyes and still see her laying there. She was tired. She had nothing to give and yet she watched that movie with me. Let me pray over her. Told me thank you for spending time with her. Watching her get smaller and weaker. Seeing her one last time and she didn’t know who I was. And still there are questions I wished I had known to ask at 16. Aunt Bobbie had always been there and then she wasn’t.

Nanny just always only had one breast. She always put her “pillow” in the other side. We didn’t talk about it. We didn’t have to. Cancer didn’t take her away. But there are questions I wished I had known to ask. I would have asked how she did it. How she continued on with her life like nothing had happened? How it wasn’t something she needed to talk about? How did cancer change you? Not just take your breast, but how did it change your very core?

My mini human has been given every opportunity we could throughout this journey to have fun. To do the things she has wanted within reason. I have intentionally chosen activities, small trips, “rewards” and celebrations to insure that she didn’t lose her childhood completely to cancer.

I think those are the tools I brought from my early exposure to cancer. Spend time with those you love and have fun doing it. Everyday isn’t fun. Chemotherapy was not fun. Having to change habits to not get sick was not fun. The ways to finding out the habits needed to change were not fun. A bi-lateral mastectomy and lymph node removal was not fun. Radiation is not fun. It is a scheduling nightmare. A stress that has led to shingles. An increase in the daily pain.

Just remember big things, my friends! Big things are coming! So until next we meet at the workbench…keep creating, enjoy your moments and love hard.  As always thank you for stopping by and for being on this journey with me.

Big Love,

Randi

Honeymoon

When I married my husband 7 years ago there was no honeymoon. We, well I, was eight months pregnant and we didn’t have the financial means to go on any fancy trip. We have since spent the last seven years moving, learning, struggling, finding balance, getting settled and getting blindsided.

 2016 found us getting settled and finding balance. We had moved into a house that gave us room to relax. Room to explore. I found myself relaxing around mid-spring. As a family we started to adventure, spending weekends exploring and surrounding ourselves with people we love. In the fall the hubs and I decided our little family would be spending Christmas at the beach. Hotel was booked and the relaxing continued until December 19, 2016. 

All of that back story leads to last week. My mini human got to experience camp. She spend the week surrounded by other mini humans who are walking their own versions of the cancer journey. The lightness and clearing of her eyes was noticable and reassuring upon picking her up. 
The hubs and I were able to enjoy a staycation version of a late moon. The week was full of doctors appointments, good news, next phase planning and spontaneity. We enjoyed visiting a new restaurant, going to a PG-13 movie without having to find a babysitter and we to see Whisky & Chamomile and Blue’s Traveler in concert.  Spending the week just the two  of us, laughing and being together reminded us what we’ve been fighting for. 

During hard seasons when you are doing hard things you need these moments in order to get a chance to breath. 

Just remember big things, my friends! Big things are coming! So until next we meet at the workbench…keep creating, enjoy your moments and love hard.  As always thank you for stopping by and for being on this journey with me.

Big Love,

Residual

Hearing those words “It is cancer” is hard. Hearing the plan for treating said cancer is hard. Receiving treatment for cancer is hard. Chemotherapy is no walk in the park. These are statements of fact based on my experience. 

          Residual side efforts, three weeks post chemo, are strong. Chemo brain is in full effect…the forgetting is real. The pain I feel when doing simple, everyday tasks like washing dishes, has me to the point I can’t do them. Walking begins the day painful, yet manageable. Then comes evening and it is hard to walk to the bathroom. There is no exact timeline for any of the side effects to go away. These are the things I have the biggest struggle with…the cancer I can deal with. Upcoming surgery I have no problems with. I’m not even too nervous about radiation. But the side effects, that I have no control over, no guarantee when they will pass…those I have some struggles with me. The struggles have me looking like this some evenings. 

          

             At the beginning and end of each day I remind myself of all the things I have that are blessings to me. Another day to see the sky and spend with those that mean the most to me. The hubs and mini human a close second. Their complete health. The rest of my health. The strength to fight another day. Framily that stand with me has my pack. There is so very much that I am thankful for during this hard season, including this season itself. 

            Just remember big things, my friends! Big things are coming! So until next we meet at the workbench…keep creating, enjoy your moments and love hard.  As always thank you for stopping by and for being on this journey with me.

Big Love,

Randi

It’s Called Hard Love 

Friends, 

We say things, i.e. “How are you doing”, “If you need anything, don’t heisitate to ask”, “Let me know if there is anything I can do”, “If you need someone to get your mini human and give her a playdate for the day, let me know”. Often times with the belief that we have to say something. I am learning that sometimes it is better to say nothing, rather than say something that…

1. You don’t really mean.                               2.You have no desire to follow through on. 3. You think is expected of you to say.           4. You are saying out of the need to say something, but haven’t thought through and therefore is hurtful or insensitive.

I can say from experience I would much rather a person say nothing than say something they don’t​ mean and won’t follow through on. It’s terribly hurtful and lonely to find yourself in need and no one is there to help meet that need. To look up when you have fallen and weak only to find no one standing there to help you up. Its not always easy to say you need help. 

Sometimes it’s easier to just push through the thing, whatever it is (in my current journey emense pain from the chemo med), than say I need this or that. Pushing through could be easier for many reasons​. Being let down is the biggest for me. Offers forgotten. Needs overlooked. Neglect and abandonment felt. Then there is just the simple fact that sometimes, other things  need the attention more immediately than taking the time to beg for help. God has not let me down once. He strengthens me when I feel weak. God truly is all that I need.

 My heart hurts because I believe we were created for companionship, for fellowship, to journey alongside one another. And not just when times are good and worth celebrating, but when times suck and we need reminding to push on and press into the Father. That’s called Hard Love. 

Just remember big things, my friends! Big things are coming! So until next we meet at the workbench…keep creating, enjoy your moments and love hard.  As always thank you for stopping by and for being on this journey with me.

Big Love,

Randi

Banner of Love

Giving up is easy. But when you give up, never realize what could have been. Whither it is a dream, a person or a thing. Jesus did not give up on anyone of us. If he had there would be no resurrection story. There would be no grace. There would be no forgiveness. We were created in the image of God, that truth says to me that we will be given the tools necessary to walk with people through their crap. During the crap most people will push you away. They will be ugly. They will hurt you. Because hurting people hurt people. (This is a truth that has resonated with me for most of my life. At times like a mantra pushing me to love through the hurt. Other times as a reminder to myself to let people love me through my own hurt and not to cause any more damage.)  Often they can’t help it. Because they can’t see past their moment. Sometimes they don’t care to help it. That is where grace comes in. But know it is never about you. I have done my share of pushing people away. I have also done my share of waiting for someone to be there. In those moments all I wanted was someone to see the hurt, damage, yuck and just be there. Sometimes all you need to do is be there.

I have been bought through enough muck that I believe in my heart of hearts, that I am to fight for the weak, the broken, the scared and the misunderstood. I will fight. And when I get weak I will lean into my Jesus, for it is there that my strength will be renewed. I have been called a defender of the weak. I have been teased when I have stood up for the “persecuted” but I do it because no one should ever be picked on. No one should ever feel like their missteps or mistakes or bad choices make then less than a person. I have to really pay attention to myself in this area. I am sarcastic and come from a long line of hurt…it, often times, is far too easy for the venom to flow. Sometimes even before I realize it. I am working hard to do better. I want my words to speak life. I want them to bring life. I them to be encouragement.

I remember this amazing woman of God praying over me and saying the Lord was giving her a picture and the banner over me was love. My verse was Proverbs 20:6 Many a man claims to have unfailing love, but a faithful man who can find? In that season I did not have the knowledge I needed to fully understand what was being spoken to me. At sixteen it was almost more than I could comprehend. Recently the Lord has brought that back to mind. He has spoken to my heart that the banner was His love through the mucky places I have walked through to get to where I am now. The banner also represents the love He has placed in me for others, particularly the broken, hurting, damaged, scared and misunderstood.

Giving up and letting a person walk through their muck alone robs each person of their gift. One needs the gift of support and companionship. The other needs the gift of seeing their gifts and talents used for a greater purpose then one’s self. Let’s begin the ascent into Fall walking in love and grace. I challenge you to reach out and love someone today. Encourage them to press forward.

Just remember big things my friends! Big things are coming! So until next we meet at the workbench…keep creating, enjoy your moments and keep your chin up. As always thank you for stopping by and for being on this journey with me.

Big Love,
Randi