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The Road To Recovery

As I drove home from an unsuccessful cardiac rehabilitation session, I was reminded how many times I have been on the road to recovery. With more than 15 plus surgeries, you would think I would get used to the fact that I am never ‘normal’ and whatever is ‘normal’ when someone is recovering is probably not going to be my experience because of the many different circumstances that I’ve endured. I’m complicated and therefore my recovery requires tweaks that aren’t per the usual.

I don’t know why I would assume things would go smoothly this time around when they haven’t ever really been that way in the past. But I did, which probably explains the tears of frustration on the ride home from what should have been my first ‘workout’ since the open heart surgery to replace my deformed aortic valve.

Long story short, due to my lymph node removal from the breast cancer surgeries, taking my blood pressure requires that it’s done on my leg and not the usual arm. But the cardiac rehabilitation people weren’t used to doing it that way. I encounter this often, so I am used to teaching them how to put the cuff on my leg and taking my blood pressure. But for whatever reason, every time they took my blood pressure it was sky high – once it showed 208/117 which if you know anything about blood pressure, this is super duper high. Because during the rehab session, the nurses need to take your BP a total of 4 times, this wouldn’t work since I couldn’t even get a decent reading to begin any type of exercise.

As any breast cancer survivor who has had many (or all) lymph nodes removed in both arms, blood pressure readings can’t be done in the usual way on your arm because of the threat of lymphedema. Therefore it’s taken on your lower leg. But I’ve learned that when you take the BP on your leg, the numbers are usually higher. Cardiac rehab requires your blood pressure to be under a certain number in order to begin the workout. Mine, as you can imagine, is not within range.

I get a certain ‘white coat syndrome’ every once in awhile when I’m going for my twice yearly tumor marker check up with the oncologist and my blood pressure can spike, but after the blood draw, it usually subsides. I’m not good with blood draws or needles of any kind. I tend to almost faint which isn’t fun. Not for the clinician, nor for me. You’d think I’d be used to it by now being that it’s been part of my routine for over 20 years, but my body has her own mind and does what she wants. Now that I know it’s a heart thing, there’s not much I can do about it. Just ride the wave…stay afloat and keep going.

I was trying on fall clothes the other day with my sister. The scars on my chest are very visible as any open heart surgery survivor knows. Perhaps they’ll soften over time like the others, but in the meantime, they’re raised, angry red and obvious. Much of my clothing is v-necked which shows my latest scar. She was baffled that I would wear something that might show a bit of my scar instead of covering up to hide what’s happened to me. But it’s all a part of me. The tracks of my tears, my experiences and I don’t want to hide anymore. I want to help. I want to be comfortable being me.

Perhaps people will find it ugly to see my scar. That’s ok. Because lucky for them, they’re not me. They don’t have to live with it or the constant pain. But me, well, I’m on the road to recovery…one baby step at a time…

Heart and Soul

If you’ve been with me for awhile, you know I have written about the many life experiences I’ve had in order to connect with others. Making connections and helping others has always been the key to my writings. Well, that and talking about heartlights shining which at this point, I find even more curious since my heartlight is due for a shiny upgrade.

Being a breast cancer survivor, (now at the 20 year mark!), I thought that it would be smooth sailing from here on out. Apparently, my soul had signed up for a few more life experiences at earth school that I wasn’t aware I needed. So here I am, asking for your help, your prayers and your good thoughts, because open heart surgery is next on my schedule.

I know, shocking, right? It was to me, too. My entire life I’d known I had a heart murmur, low blood pressure and I would describe myself as a fainter (not often, but enough to not surprise myself that I faint at the sight of a needle etc.). It was my normal. However, it wasn’t normal. It was due to a genetically deformed aortic valve that I was born with – a bicuspid instead of a tricuspid valve that received more damage over the years by chemotherapy, radiation – and needs to be replaced now.

I’m not your typical heart patient. There are a multitude of complications to navigate for the cardiologists and luckily, they are prepping their strategies with the help from my previous doctors for hopefully the best outcome – a renewed heart.

So there it is – my latest news. I’ll admit that as the date gets closer, I get a bit more nervous. I’ve danced with the ‘what if I don’t make it’ through the surgery. I’ve battled the ‘I don’t want to have the surgery’ and I’ll take my chances. I’ve curled up in a ball and cried myself to sleep, feeling sorry for myself. I’ve had every emotion imaginable and ended up here.

Interestingly, here is where I am processing the letting go of fear. There’s something amazingly freeing at this point in my life to know that there’s a chance I will not make it through the surgery. It makes the last few days before it more meaningful, more urgent to share the truth of how I feel, most important to tell those whom I love and appreciate, how much they mean to me. I have nothing to lose.

Whether or not I make it through, I love that I am unafraid to speak my truth, finally…interestingly how the soul knows and I do not question life school anymore. I wanted to share this with you because you have all been on this blog journey with me over the years and I have appreciated your loving support, your help and your friendship. My life has been richer because of our connections. You have my sincerest love and gratitude for being you!

Keep shining your heartlights! I’ll be looking for them!

Shine On!

xo

Celebrating Twenty Years

Flowers from CAngel

I am feeling so blessed today, more than usual, as I celebrate this special milestone in my life. I wanted to share it with you, my friends, since you have been with me for many years. Twenty years ago today, I was diagnosed with breast cancer and, as you can imagine, I was devastated. My life turned upside down and I will admit, there have been many ups and downs over the last two decades. But I am still here and cancer free today.

I have learned so much over these past twenty years and I have so many loved ones, family and friends, doctors, nurses, lab techs, and even strangers to thank for helping me along the way. It took a village to get me to where I am and I am ever grateful to all of the angelic people who each made a positive difference in my life.

With a grateful heart, I have been blessed with this milestone. I learned so much from having breast cancer that I consider it a gift, for even though it took a lot from me, the life lessons I learned from it are priceless. Hence the name of my blog, The Presents of Presence.

For in being present with what is and what was, I learned that I am stronger than I ever knew I could be. I found inner strength and joy in the simplest moments which might have passed me by, if I didn’t learn to take each day as it comes. The color of a sunset, the warmth of a summer breeze, the amazing gifts from Mother Nature and the new beginning each dawn brings. Learning that life is short and love is the legacy I wish to leave behind when it is my turn to transition.

I learned that people may come and go, but I remain grateful for the good memories. I learned about forgiveness. I learned about healing, physical, mental, emotional, and how the body, mind, and soul work in conjunction. I discovered a deeper sense of spirituality, divinity, and the cultivating of inner peace.

I bonded with others who had cancer and found an incredible connection in helping them. I also lost a few friends I made through their untimely passing from the cancer we were fighting together. They inspired me to keep going even when they could no longer. I found a calling in helping others.

My rituals have evolved over the years to include prayers, quiet moments, a gratitude journal, and increasing my intuition and all of the precious gifts that I was too busy to explore. I have found me over the years, authentic me, the one with whom I am at peace.

I have scars from the many, many surgeries I have endured. I have health issues resulting from what I experienced and I am still checked often to make sure that the cancer remains at bay. Up until now, those check ups, twinges, strange lumps, etc. could put me into anxiety wondering if this were a dreaded reoccurrence come to pass. Perhaps now at twenty years, I will be able to ease that part of me, knowing that I have had this time to continue to heal myself.

The light of love never dims. Our heart lights shine on always and so tonight, as I raise a glass of champagne with my sons over dinner at home, I thank you all from my heart for your kindness, your support and your love. You are a blessing to me and I am so grateful for all of you.

Shine On!

xo

Living Beyond the Pink Curtain Of Breast Cancer

Beyond the Pink Curtain Photo Credit:  JZAngel

What I’ve learned from being a woman diagnosed with breast cancer at age 34 would fill a book.  In fact, on many occasions I’ve attempted to write that book, but I never quite finish it.  Perhaps because it’s never really over once you’re diagnosed with an illness.  It lingers, it teaches, it reminds us with occasional bouts of unease.  I don’t call myself a survivor ~ I think I’m more of an endurer.

Life is a journey of endurance ~ we take baby steps, sometimes forward and backward which I’d like to refer to as doing the cha cha instead of anything else.  Because this is earth school and it can’t all be hard.  There has to be some fun in it, even when it is hard.  For me, the idea of dancing lends itself to freedom, to soothing music, to partnering with helpful friends and family along the way and finally movement – forward and backward so that we never stay stagnant.  Because we learn.  We grow.  We experience situations and relationships.  We process those feeling associated with them.  We uncover truths about ourselves.

We find that we are stronger than we ever knew we could be.  Cancer gives us the opportunity to tap into the strength and courage that is innately ours and find our divine selves.

Cancer causes us to question our life’s purpose.  It can be seen as a time out, and perhaps even a reset to help us to align with what’s important.  It is a coming together of people in supportive roles to help us through the journey.  It is a wake-up call for sure if one chooses to wake up to our inner source of love and soul.

My cancer journey has had many twists and turns over the years.  It has not been an easy path, but there is much to be grateful for in my case.  I have gained so much from the experience and have been able to help many others along the way because of my experience.  While I don’t recommend getting cancer to experience the inner richness of this life school, I am grateful that I am still here to share and to help others along the way in this capacity.

It is the end of Breast Cancer Awareness Month so that’s why I’m posting this as I am here for you.  I have been where you are.  I have endured the chemo, the loss of hair, multiple surgeries, radiation, fearful sleepless nights and the fallout from the diagnosis and continued battle.

But I am still here to experience The Presents of Presence in this lifetime and for that, I am forever grateful.

Shine On!

xo

It’s Been Ten Years!

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I got a notification that ten years ago today I registered for this blog.  It is amazing to me that I started this journey so long ago.  So, Happy 10 Year Anniversary to my blog and to all of my followers!  I am very grateful for all of the blogging friendships I have made and for all of the amazing people I have met through blogging.

So, thank you for being you!

Much has happened over the last ten years in my life as I am sure it has in yours as well.  Many changes, much growth and new opportunities for which I am grateful.  The fact that I am still here 18 years after being diagnosed with breast cancer is a blessing to me.  I don’t take my life for granted and I have found appreciation for every precious moment that I am here for my loved ones and friends.

I appreciate The Presents of Presence in my life and the myriad of precious connections I have made because of those gifts.  Through each change, I have found peace even when I weathered tough storms.  I have always felt the angels looking out for me and my faith has steadied me through many trying ordeals.  While life school isn’t easy, the lessons we learn and how we grow from the experiences make it all worth it.

So today, I’m extending my appreciation for all that The Presents of Presence has given to me and for all of you who have connected with me over the years.  We have been through much together and have weathered many storms, thankfully.  You have taught me, inspired me, shined your heartlights into my life and I pray that you have felt my heartlight shining into yours with positivity, inspiration and love.

May you all continue to stay healthy through this Covid-19 virus.  May you shine your heartlights for all to see and continue to connect virtually with each other while this storm passes as well.  Because it will pass and our lives will be changed.  But perhaps we will find the gifts to be appreciated in the changes as I have.

God Bless.

Shine On!

xo

Grateful For Birthday Love

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MAY THE BEST

OF YOUR PAST BE THE

WORST OF YOUR

FUTURE

Today’s my birthday and, although the weekend has been busy, it’s been lovely.  I’m so grateful for the love that friends and family have been showing me, especially on my special day!

I’ve always been someone who adores her birthday because to me, each birthday is special!  It means I’ve made it through another year and I look forward with excitement and anticipation for what the coming year will bring.  I blow out the many candles with joy for the life I’ve been given and the life I have made, albeit with hard times, struggles and sadness, but coupled with love, light and gratitude!

I may not know where I’m going or what may come my way in the future, but I do know where I’ve been, what I’ve overcome and how strong I am.  My faith in a life filled with love cradles me as the year ahead opens to possibility.

I don’t shy away from owning the years I’ve spent on this earth for each one has led me to the next, with a plethora of life lessons along the way.  While some I could have sincerely done without, I am grateful for each of them for they changed me in ways that I have come to gratefully see as strengthening me.

I love deeply because of them, although as a Pisces, innately loving from my whole heart is how I’m built.  Often I have felt the pain from love, but I wouldn’t change me.

I am who I am without apology, but instead with gratitude.

I think that’s what growing older is all about in the end.  This aging process isn’t for sissies.  That’s for sure.  But there’s a momentous glee in looking back to see from whence we came and in looking forward to all the future blessings in store for us!  Being in this precious present moment with the kaleidoscope of love surrounding me, my heart is filled to overflowing.  I just feel so blessed!

So today, I’m sharing my virtual birthday cake with you dear blogging family!  You’ve been on this life journey with me for many years and I’m ever grateful for your loving support, kindness and encouragement along the way!

May all of our wishes be fulfilled!  Keep shining your heartlights!

Shine On!

xo

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

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As a woman who endured breast cancer many moons ago, October or Pinktober becomes one of those pink, swashed in your face reminders of all that happened to us.  Maybe for you it doesn’t, but for those of us with a long history, it’s a stark reminder for an entire month.

I don’t often share that I endured breast cancer because my medical past isn’t obvious.  Well, maybe it’s obvious in certain situations, but for the most part, you’d never know if you met me on the street or in the grocery store unless I shared that bit of information with you.  I’m grateful for that now.  The bald tell-tale sign or the hairless eyebrows and lack of eyelashes aren’t there anymore.

It’s been a long time since I was diagnosed and I’m grateful to still be here to help others who walk this path.  If you want to read more, just type breast cancer in the search button on my blog and you will see that I’ve written about it over the years.  I learned much from my experience with breast cancer that I probably wouldn’t have if I hadn’t had the disease.  Endurance, strength, compassion, kindness, faith and connections have helped to enrich my life and my will to survive other obstacles that have arrived at my doorstep.  While I would have never chosen to endure this disease, I am grateful for surviving it and for the ample opportunities for insight and growth that came from it.

While it hasn’t come back with a vengeance, the threat continues as I live out the rest of my life.  However, most of the time it is pushed to the back of my mind where it belongs.  I am vigilant in my checkups and as any cancer survivor knows, I spend a few nervous days after they test my blood, waiting to see if my tumor markers have decided to go wacky and scare me.  In the past they have, which brought fear to the forefront again in my life, but luckily for me, they were false positives.

I can’t say that same experience happened for many friends and acquaintances of mine.  Sadly, many of them lost their battle to the disease as it metastasized to different areas in the body.  Survivors guilt after bonding with others saddens me.  The question of why I am spared and they are not, continues to be a mystery.  In honoring their sweet memories, I try to live the best life I can, for I know how quickly life can change.

I am an alumni of a club to which I never wished to belong.  But in this club, I have found warm, loving people who are united in ways that others may never fully understand.  To this day, I still help other women who are enduring breast cancer.  I know that for me, it helped when someone else understood the night time terror thoughts or the twinges of pain that we knew weren’t normal.  It helped to receive a sisterly embrace from someone who ‘got it’ and who willingly connected with me.  So I give back when I can.  I pass along the compassionate connections which were offered to me and greatly appreciated.

In honor of those who lost their battle to breast cancer, to those who are currently in the throes of cancer’s siege on their body and to those who, like me, are labeled survivors, I send up my prayers today.  My prayer is that we live on in the hearts of our loved ones and that someday, sooner rather than later, the cure will be given to all who need it.

God Bless.

Shine On!

xo

 

 

 

Picking Up The Pieces

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When life throws you a curve ball, you have to re-evaluate your position in life.  You have to pick up the pieces from what’s changed and put them back together in a new way.  You may even have to release some parts of your prior life in order to make room for the new chapter that’s beginning.  We have to embrace the change in order to incorporate it into our lives and not be stymied by the upheaval.

There are many defining moments in life that create change.  What we forget in times of fluidity and peace is that change is inevitable.  Few of us get out of this life alive without challenges, for those are what make this life school a life-long learning process.  If we were only to enjoy smooth sailing for a lifetime then we wouldn’t have a chance to grow.  By enduring these challenges, we experience change.  Life school allows us to connect with others who have endured similar situations in ways that we wouldn’t have been able to otherwise.  Nobody can understand how devastating a cancer diagnosis is if you haven’t experienced it yourself.  Nobody understands the all-encompassing grief that comes with losing a loved one if you haven’t been through it.  Empathy comes when you’ve walked a similar path with compassion.

I confess that I would have preferred to not have endured many of the challenges presented to me.  I could have done without the trying times that threatened to drown me.  But I persevered and through faith, love and friendship, I am still here.

I’ve been through a plethora of life changes as I am sure you have too.  Some have been good changes, while others defined me in ways I never thought possible.  Breast cancer, deaths of friends, family and loved ones, divorce, financial difficulties, Alzheimer’s in loved ones, just to name a few of the big ones.  Through these defining moments of upheaval and life changing events, I have learned one thing for sure:  I can survive and remain who I am innately and even be improved by having endured the changes.  Challenges, failures and triumphs sprinkled with love, hope, faith and kindness make all the difference.

Keep shining your heartlights!

Shine On!

xo

Gratitude For Eight Years On WordPress

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I got a note from WordPress today telling me that eight years ago today, I began my blog.  It doesn’t seem that I have been writing for eight years to you all, but I’m assuming WordPress knows what it’s talking about, don’t you think?  Ah, the benefits of blogging!

In eight years, much has changed in my life.  My initial focus was to help other women battling cancer, specifically breast cancer as I endured it myself and I am still here.  But as life developed, I have written about other subjects too including:  poetry, pets, children, parents, relationships, Mother Nature, horseback riding, Alzheimer’s and Dementia, holidays, angels, spirituality, religion, Rabbit, Rabbit, photography, SendOutCards, amazing books and movies, inspirational quotes, life in general and even death because I had first hand experience with all of those topics.  While I was enduring hardships, you were all there for me with your loving support and I am ever grateful.  I wrote to share my experiences in hopes that I would be able to help someone else along that path.

I am ever grateful for the loving connections that have evolved through our blogging community which we have grown through our writings and by reaching out in kindness, generosity and always with a loving heart.  Friendships have blossomed through our writings that have cemented many of us soul to soul in miraculous ways.  From WordPress comments to emails to actual phone calls, I can count many deep friendships which span the world now for which I am honored to be a part of in this lifetime – and yet, we have never met face to face.  But the love is there, without ever being in each other’s physical presence.

It’s so interesting to me that I have yet to meet anyone face to face that I met through blogging and yet I count many of you as true friends.  What a gift this Presents of Presence has been for me!  I pray that you feel the same way – that my writings, my comments and my love for all of you shines its heartlight and helps to raise the energetic vibrations of this world’s energy to encourage peace, love, compassion and understanding along with connections to all.

May your heart be lifted today and may your heartlight shine for all to see, for I see you out there dearest friends and I am ever grateful, as always, for our connections.

Shine On!

xo

The Present

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Today’s Daily Prompt of PRESENT was a no-brainer for me to write about because hello! it’s the name of my blog!  The Presents of Presence.

It’s been a HUGE PRESENT to write to you, to make connections with you and to get to know all of you!  I love our friendships and I feel grateful and honored to know you all!

Because if we look around, precious moments are presents and they are everywhere.  But they can be fleeting when we are not paying attention.  You know what I mean?  When you turn around and wonder, what in the world did I do yesterday?  Or how did this past week fly by?

We have a limited time on this earth dear friends.  Connections can be fleeting or lifelong.  Either way, we must take each and every special opportunity to savor them.

May you have a blessed day and continue to shine your heartlights!

Shine On!

xo