Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Better Now

Hello Darlings...

So first a little update on El Diablo...

I had Chemo #6 this week.

6 down and who knows how many to go.

(no really...who knows...Dr Rockstar said not to even ask when I would "be done" and Dr. Angel told me we might have to treat my cancer like a chronic disease so---who knows..)

So 6 chemos down and my CA125 numbers are going down too.

From 43 down to 17 ("normal" is 0-35)

Now is the part where you all get up and do a happy dance...

I see you back there twerking like Miley---I approve!
and you there doing the Snoopy dance---respect!
you there being a Beyonce---I see you!
and you doing a full on Praise Dance---I love you!
and you, the shy one who is worried what others will think? I said to DANCE DAMMIT...

Those numbers coming down are a GOOD thing so dancing is a must.

Ok dance break over....

take a sip of water and cool down.

So now that I have filled you in on El Diablo I want to talk about Yoga (and other things)...because I am FINALLY back to doing yoga...and yoga is continuing to teach me things.

For me YOGA stands for:

Goals (and)

Because I have learned with yoga (and life) it is a PRACTICE and there is no end game.

In yoga I have a goal to do Half Moon without a block and falling over.

Or tree pose without falling over.

Or dancer...without falling over.

Or eagle...without falling over.

Basically I want to not fall over so much...

A goal is's reachable...I can direct effort toward doing it.

(I can also direct effort into doing crow pose but I'm afraid to balance on my not a goal...yet)

With my yoga practice I aspire to maybe one day be a yoga teacher.

It's just a thought I have and much much more practice and work needs to happen before I ever give it any serious thought or even attempt to take any teacher training but for now it's an aspiration. One that will take many goals to achieve before I can.

I can't do half the poses and I fall over anytime I try to balance.

So why aspire to be a yoga teacher?

Because when I am in a practice it's so much more than just moving my's moving my soul.

And I want to help others make their souls move and dance.

The other day my beautiful JohnJohn had us make magic on the mats...not just by our flow but by actually saying the word "magic"...and it was magical...

As I reached my arms up and said "magic" I felt it...because my soul was moving as my body moved.

My yoga teachers help me set intentions---small goals and ideals on which to focus my practice. I try to hold that intention in my heart as I struggle through class and to hold poses. I try to use each practice as a way to move my day and my life forward.

I want to be in a room full of beautiful souls and help them move and dance to the music as their souls move and dance within themselves...and maybe help them learn something about themselves and how to share breath, space, and love...

Because being a yoga teacher is not just about teaching someone how to do a warrior's about teaching someone how to be a warrior themself.

I love teaching...I wish I had studied to become a teacher.  So I do the next best thing and I work with the very best teacher I know (GOTT...and yes he is the best teacher I know...he teaches those kids way more than just how to act).

I try to teach with my Instagram when I cook something and share a recipe.

And I try to teach with my blog.

I try to find words to inspire, to share love, to make magic...

Before I got sick I would never have imagined myself ever thinking or considering that one day I might want to teach yoga.

I'm terrible at it...(yoga that is)

but being sick has taught me that perfection is not what's more about the heart than what the body can do.

I am amazed I can even practice.

Every day when I was radiated I tried to spin or do yoga.

My Dr. Angel thought I was crazy.

But he came to realize that what I needed was not rest as much as I needed to MOVE.

I needed to not feel sick.

and I still need to feel that way.

On Monday I had to say goodbye to my favorite Physician's Assistant.

Lovely Jessica is moving to another city where her hubby has a new job. She is Dr. Angel's PA and she has been my rock through my journey with him. And I know she is his rock too.

I was grateful to have a few minutes with her to reflect on what she had done for me and to thank her for it...and to tell her to warn the next PA that I was a handful and that Dr. Angel had a hot mess of a patient (that would be me).

She told me she was always surprised at what I did despite my illness.

My hemoglobin is at an "8" (normal is 12-16 although 10 is the low for a cancer patient)

She told me most people at an 8 stayed in bed.

And I go to spin and yoga.

Because my goal is to keep moving.

And my aspiration is to live like I am not sick.

And as long as I keep moving I will not feel sick.

(plus these days the chemo is fed with a big desire for chocolate chip cookies or cheese so I have no choice but to move)

I'm not going to let a pesky little thing like a low hemoglobin count keep me from pedaling my spin bike or flowing on my mat.

Because to give in and just get in bed is to give up.

And giving up is NOT a goal or aspiration.

So I am pretty sure that no matter where Lovely Jessica ends up she will remember the unicorn hot mess patient she had when she worked with Dr. Angel and I am pretty sure she will use the memory of me to help her help other patients to not feel so sick.

Cancer can be a business of dying or living.

I know because when I was first told I was sick I decided very quickly that there was 2 ways I could chose to go on.

I could choose to be a dying person.

Or I could choose to be a living one.

I chose LIFE.

I chose to live.

And I am not dying.

It's not a goal or aspiration of mine.

My goal is to live each day fully.

My aspiration is to live my life in such a way as to bring honor to my Lord, to inspire others, to show love and to hopefully share my life with a man who loves me.

The "man who loves me" is not a goal because right now I am not doing anything active to make that happen. I want it but I'm not at a place where I am ready to "swipe right" on any dating apps. So for now it is an aspiration and once my beloved doctors tell me how awesome I am doing maybe then I'll be ready for someone to invite me to share a bottle of wine.

So today is my "icky" day...the one where I am tired and my appetite and tummy are funky and I feel like I am recovering from the flu.

So I live today as it is.

I accept that it is a day I will not be active, will not have energy and will take 2-3 naps during the day.

And that's ok...because my goal for today is to just get through it.

And I aspire to not have many more days like this but as long as I have chemo there will be.

But tomorrow will be "normal" again.

And my goal is to do some yoga, hit up the grocery store, and to have dinner with friends.

And I aspire to have a weekend filled with fun, friends, laughter, yoga, a movie, some wine, my "Sunday Service Spin" with my beloved E,  and to not live like a cancer patient.

Life is never 100% easy.

Some people will glide through life with what appears to be no issues but I honestly don't believe anyone doesn't have a trial of some sort in life.

Others get a full plate of things to overcome (hello...yes, that is me...but guess what...I think it's just a salad plate of stuff and not a whole dinner plate).

And each day our goal should be to squeeze the life out of every minute of our day.

I want to close my eyes each night feeling like I did some good in this world.

Because I don't know if I have a year or many yearS left in this life (I'm a betting woman so I am going for yearS) but whatever time God is giving me here I aspire to be His instrument and end each day being a better human than I was the day before.

And my goal is to teach someone something with the words I say here...

And I'm going to live each day like a yoga practice:

I start each morning with a gentle stretch---getting up, getting coffee and breakfast and starting my day with intention to move through the day with love and light

and then I warm up and so some Sun A's---the usual things we do daily to make our lives bills, return calls and emails, go to work...

at some point I get to be in warrior stance---I'll do something that makes me feel strong, sexy and powerful like working out or trying something new...

and then I will hit a balancing pose---I will likely fall over doing something I do or mess up in some way but life is messy and yoga is messy and we all survive even when we fall over.

and at another point I will seek refuge in child's pose and give in to letting something go...

And then I will stretch some more---cook my dinner or maybe meet up with friends

And then Savassanah---rest....where I settle in and let the day go and let my body prepare for the next day.

In between there is a lot of breath, poses, falling over, gripping blocks....and there is sweat, and sometimes tears, and much love...

Life is like a yoga class to me...

I start and end in my bed and there is a whole lot of moving in between.

And I am grateful for the moving...

and for the falling over...

and for the breath....

because I am getting to set goals and aspire to do things...

and the sweaty mess that I am at the end of it is happy...

Inspiration Song: "Better Now" by Post Malone. My favorite song to spin to these days and one that makes me realize that despite cancer I am better now than I was before cancer.

Bye better now....and set your goals and aspirations and let it be messy while you get there...I'm a hot mess and I know it...but I am a grateful hot mess...

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Don't Rain on my Parade

Hello Darlings

On July 4th I had a bit of an adventure...

While Houston flooded I got stranded...

I literally sat parked on the Interstate for 3.5 hours (give or take...)

But I am getting ahead of myself.

I had a bike booked at Revolution for the 10:30 spin class with #myboys KuteKris and KuteJohn and I was determined I was going to pre-game the 4th of July party I was attending later by working off the calories ahead of time.

Because of corn dip.

Because of TotallyAwesomeTodd's corn dip.

Because it is my drug of choice.

Dear Todd's Corn Dip,
I love you
Let's be a couple
Fritos will be included in our love triangle
Because you are delicious
Anice (who waits all year to love you)

Todd and I have a deal: I make queso (if you are very nice to me I will teach you my ways...and yes it is still Velveeta) and he makes corn dip.

I stand there and shovel in all the corn dip I can with Fritos.

I strategically place myself closest to the corn dip and Frito after Frito will be loaded with corn dip and zoomed into my mouth.

And then I eat a hot dog...and then I return to my love the corn dip.

It's witchcraft...

So I knew there would be hot dogs, and desserts (KuteKari made a lemon pound cake...more on that later), and THE CORN DIP. Oh and Marvelous Megan made the most extraordinarily perfect deviled eggs I have ever had.

I don't even eat my own queso...I save it all for the corn dip.

So Wednesday when the rain started to fall I thought about cancelling my bike and just staying home.


So I got dressed for spin in my blue tank and my red, white, and blue headband...

And as I was dressing warning messages began to invade my head space:

Danger Will Robinson! Don't go out!!!!

It's Raining (sadly not raining men) and it might flood

The news says "possible street flooding"

You might not get back into the neighborhood!

But I got dressed anyway.

And as I got in my car and pulled out of my driveway the warning messages kept invading my brain.

And as I drove out of my neighborhood EVERY INSTINCT told me to turn around.

But alas I didn't...

Because #corndip

So I make it as far as 59 and I am approaching my exit and I see a line of cars in the exit lane...and as I pass over Buffalo Speedway I see cars are exiting the service road and going into the gas station parking lot...and as I look at the feeder road I see that it looks more like a lake than a street.

And I look at the time and I see no cars are actually exiting the exit.

Time for me to exit my plan of going to spin.

My heart sinks as I realize I will miss my boys and because #corndip the diet will be a wreck.

I call to cancel my bike and try to figure out what I will do next.

Because that lake on the street is getting bigger...

So I call someone I know will help me and I know she lives close and can see what is going on...

HeavenlyHeather to the rescue (I shall refer to her as HH for the rest of this blog for typing ease).

HH answers her phone and I tell her my dilemma...

and she looks out her window and tells me NOT to exit the freeway because I am in Beyonce the 4 Runner and not an ark or boat...

So then we begin to try to figure out where and how I can turn around and get back to the west side of town safely.

Because I am #sodamnsmart I decide that the PERFECT route is to go to I-45 and swing around downtown on the freeway and then get on I-10 because it's the BEST way to go and NEVER floods

(except that it gets flooded out EVERY SINGLE TIME IT RAINS ONE RAINDROP)

yeah...I-10 is the way to go...

it's an Interstate...

I'll be fine...

Danger Will Robinson!

But I keep on with my plan...

And I get onto 10 and hit some traffic and we slow to a crawl and then pretty much stop.

I'm still on the phone with HH who is watching the news so she can give me updates...

So we stop...the whole interstate shuts down...

I see a chance to escape but the water is rising and I worry it will be too much for my little SUV.

I see a Mustang GT that was trying to get up the off ramp but is stranded and flooded out. (had a dealer window sticker so someone must have been having a hell of a test drive)

I decide to take my chances with the freeway.

Bad call...

HH tells me that up ahead of me the freeway is under water and there is a Toyota basically floating around in it and that some fool in a $70,000 truck decided that he was gonna testosterone his way though (he made clue about the Toyota).

I see no cars coming in the opposite direction so I surmise that the other side is also flooded and shut down.

I tell HH that there is a Blue Bell Ice Cream truck next to me and I might have to break in...but alas I see it is locked (duh) and besides I must save my calories for the crack...I mean #corndip.

So the Blue Bell truck was safe from my larceny but as time wore on I did wonder what I had in my car that could pick a lock. We weren't going anywhere and I was getting hungry.

 Then the thought strikes me I might need to go potty.

Uh oh...

I have had pelvic telling how strong that bladder is but this would be a good test.

I turn off my engine (we are not moving), I tell HH that I will call her or text her (yes, it was safe to text---WE WEREN'T MOVING) and I look around for the "what if I have to pee" provisions...

Towel for privacy

But mercifully I did not have to go (and yay my bladder held for the whole ordeal---Dr Angel promised me he would preserve my organs and he was right...and did a great job that's why he is my Angel and the best at what he does)

And I also figured the beach towel would come in handy if I did decide to walk about and visit my neighboring cars and trucks. It was still raining but not heavily. I might have needed to visit the Blue Bell man...and my friend Super Stephanie was just ahead of me so I considered messaging her and trying to find her in the sea of non-moving cars...

(and I can now tell you that Beyonce the 4 Runner will never get on the road again without at least one beach towel in her because I hate to be wet)

So what does one do to amuse oneself while parked on the Interstate?

Social Media of course!

I wanted ERRRRRBODY to know that I was stuck so since I was safely parked (as was everyone around me) I posted to Insta and FB and the sympathy began to roll in.

I had one dear friend offer me her home as refuge with a comfy couch and wine and her company....MarvelousMaddy I love you....

At some point I got to crawl forward about the length of two semis which sadly took me out from under the overpass so I just sat there and listened to the rain for a bit, kept checking social media, texted my daughter to let her know where my will was (kidding) but did warn her to get the queso for the party started.

I called GOTTESS to make sure I was still going to get to eat corn, I mean to check to see if the party was still on and told her my plight. She had grand amounts of sympathy for me as did most of my social media friends. And HH kept checking in on me and gave me updates.

(HH is a great wingman...she was great at watching the news and reporting to me as well as keeping me calm)

After about 3 hours I noticed some cars beginning to go UP the on ramp (they were exiting the on ramp...basically going the wrong way) and then we began to inch forward and I began the Battle with the Big Trucks.

I'm in a 4 Runner

And I am surrounded by 18 wheelers

Guess who is gonna win...

(if you said the semis then you don't know me very well)

I couldn't see the cops ahead of me but from what I was seeing to my right someone was directing all the traffic up to a point and turning us around and sending us up that on ramp.  Because there are so many big trucks I figured that they were going to have to use the entire width of the freeway to turn around.

I was firmly planted in the far left desirable lane.

And of course the truck guys want to play "get outta my way little lady" but I am the fairness police and I had cars behind me that needed to get out too so I decided that the "zipper" method was the only fair thing and I wasn't going to let 6 trucks in front of me...we can all take turns.

Sure enough as one guy is trying to cut me off a knight in shining armor appears (a cop) and he motions me to go and tells the truck to wait...

Truck guy was not happy but I do what the cops tell me to do.

So I FINALLY got turned around after sitting in the parking lot that was once I-10 for about 3.5 hours.

I got off the freeway and found another route home (that was not flooded) and called HH back so I could tell her I got free and we laughed at the bravery of the woman in the Mini Cooper who was following behind me as I headed down Memorial Drive and at the poor man in the Porsche with the doctor vanity plates who was not risking his fancy testosterone machine with the flood waters.

(note to self: maybe don't date the guy who drives a Porsche...that's why you say you always want a man in a big ass truck...although a nice safe sedan is just fine too).

So in all that time I had to amuse myself while trying not to chug my water and go insane while I was living my best life on the freeway that was not moving I had some time to think.

About patience...
and about listening to the voice in my head...
and about maybe not doing something I know is stupid...
and about not being so stubborn...
and about how lucky I am to have friends who stay on the phone with me to keep me from freaking out
and about how to just accept that I am not in control of something
and about how lucky I was to have a full tank of gas and an empty bladder
and about not taking I-10 during a rainstorm

Cancer has taught me so much about control...or rather my lack of it.

I've lived a good "safe" fairly "clean" life other than being overweight.

And yet here I sit with cancer...a deadly vicious one at that.

A mother of two who's greatest vice is tacos.

So I have no control of my cancer...

(And while I am mentioning this I have a soapbox moment: please stop believing and posting the social media memes and videos that tell you that if you eat/drink something or diet in some particular way that it will cure cancer....if it was that easy I am pretty sure MD Anderson and Memorial Hermann (and my spectacular doctors) would just be feeding us lemons/alkaline foods/keto/whatever and cure the cancers. It's not that simple. Lemons are not going to make my cancer go away...I WISH I had that kind of control over it...getting off soapbox)

I had no control over the freeway that day so I decided to make the best of it by talking to a friend and just keeping calm.

Had this same scenario happened to me 2 or 3 years ago I would have been panicked and ready to just abandon my car and run.

Cancer has taught me how to be still...accept what I truly can't do what I can to change what I can and to know that GOD HAS GOT THIS.

I do, however, need to listen and pay attention to the "Danger Will Robinson!" voice in my head and maybe next time when I am setting out to do something stupid I should take head of that voice and HAVE SOME CONTROL and not do it.  I knew when I got into my car I was making a mistake...

We do have control there...we need to listen to the voice of reason that tells us not to take the WRONG kind of chances.

But I am so damn stubborn I am pretty sure that at some point I will fail at this again and set out and do something stupid again.

As for having a full tank of gas and an empty bladder...well that is a roll of the dice people...I try to keep the tank filled but I have days where Beyonce the 4 Runner is telling me "Danger Will Robinson!"...

I did finally make it home 5 hours (almost to the minute) after I set out.

Next time I am in the car for 5 hours I better be headed somewhere fun like Baton Rouge or Dallas or the Hill Country...I don't want to spend 5 hours on the interstate again and not go anywhere.

I did make it to the very fun party and yes I ate loads and loads of #corndip and Kari's yummy cake and so many of Megan's deviled eggs I am pretty sure I smelled like eggs for days. And it was all worth it.

So here's my advice:
eat the corn dip
stay off the roads when they say it might flood

it's that simple...

Inspiration Song: "Don't Rain on my Parade" by Barbra Streisand...because even though it rained and I got stranded that day was a lot like my cancer--my cancer is trying to rain on my parade of my life and I just won't let it...that day still turned out GREAT (and I got #corndip) and El Diablo will not get me...because waiting for me at the end of all of this is my Nicky Arnstein and he's going to be waiting for me just like Omar Shariff was waiting for Barbra...CANCER WILL NOT RAIN ON MY PARADE--I HAVE TOO MUCH TO LIVE FOR

Don't tell me not to live
Just sit and putter
Life's candy and the sun's
A ball of butter
Don't bring around a cloud
To rain on my parade
Don't tell me not to fly
I've simply got to
If someone takes a spill
It's me and not you
Who told you you're allowed
To rain on my parade
I'll march my band out
I'll beat my drum
And if I'm fanned out
Your turn at bat, sir
At least I didn't fake it
Hat, sir, I guess I didn't make it
But whether I'm the rose
Of sheer perfection
Or freckle on the nose
Of life's complexion
The cinder or the shiny apple of its eye
I gotta fly once
I gotta try once
Only can die once, right, sir?
Ooh, life is juicy
Juicy, and you see
I gotta have my bite, sir
Get ready for me, love
'Cause I'm a commer
I simply gotta march
My heart's a drummer
Don't bring around a cloud
To rain on my parade
I'm gonna live and live now
Get what I want, I know how
One roll for the whole show bang
One throw, that bell will go clang
Eye on the target and wham
One shot, one gun shot, and bam
Hey, Mister Arnstein
Here I am
I'll march my band out
I will beat my drum
And if I'm fanned out
Your turn at bat, sir
At least I didn't fake it
Hat, sir, I guess I didn't make it
Get ready for me, love
'Cause I'm a commer
I simply gotta march
My heart's a drummer
Nobody, no, nobody
Is gonna rain on my parade

Bye Darlings---don't let anyone (or any actual rain) ruin your the corn dip, have a full tank of gas, stay off the roads when it's storming and don't rain on anyone else's parade either...and I'll let you know when Mr. Arnstein comes for me...I'll be Barbra in the tugboat singing my heart out to get to him...