Happy Birthday to Me: Lessons I Learned in my 30’s

Happy Birthday to Me: Lessons I Learned in my 30’s

Six Lit Birthday Candles

So, this is 40 and I could not be happier.  This time last year I feared turning 39, the age that would make me older than my mom at her passing. Subsequently, my dear husband and loved ones surprised me with a fantastic party.  Friends from all over sent well wishes and precious gifts with kindness.

I still have those days of guilt, like why did I get to live when my mom didn’t? Then, I feel extra guilty because that thought it is not fair to my girls. When I got hit with the tests that revealed that I needed a hysterectomy fast, I got very scared. I became wrapped up in getting my household ready while I was in great pain. I avoided my emotional pain through distractions that included making sure my husband knew our youngest’ therapy schedule, amongst other details.

Reflection

When I woke up in ICU after the surgery, I was filled with exhilaration. My giddiness made the staff think they gave me too much morphine.  At that time I did not know if my journey to good health would be on hold, or be okay. Some days it feels like I have lived 1000 lifetimes. If only I could go back to my 20s to teach myself then what I know now. But, would I have really been the same person today if I did?

Housekeeping

The biggest lesson I have learned in my 30’s is to rid my world of the toxic people and the Negative Nellies. I used to sweat when people would not ‘like’ me, or I would try lame attempts to be their friend. What I did not rationalize is why would I want them as friends? “Mean Girls” became Mean Moms. Life is too short to not surround myself with loved ones who see me in the good, and especially important the bad times.

Could Have/Should Have

I used to think that if I knew that I was going to be a new mom in my 30s I would have done things differently. I would have traveled more, saved more money and tried another shot at a career.  If I went through the other door, would I still of had my girls?

Do What I Love Now.

Doing what I love is the sanest and simplest way to be the best me. I began writing when my oldest was just a baby. In between naps, diapers and tantrums, writing became my vice. It did not matter if I was sleep deprived, I felt my creative self being fed constantly.  Writing has evolved to a part-time career that I can do from home.

The last lesson I learned this decade was to trust my instincts.  In my 20’s, I did not listen to my inner voice enough. This decade, I began to fine-tune my gut instinct enough to rely on it. When I steer from it, a roadblock appears. Go figure.

As I enter the Fab 40’s, I am showing more gratitude for today. It is the only one I have.

What have you liked/disliked about a certain age? Any lessons have I missed?

Does Grief Ever Go Away?

photo-17I am frozen mid-step. My eyes are burning in hopes to not be recognized. The bright sun does nothing to warm my heart. I sheepishly look down at my phone as the woman passes, hoping she does not stop. Instinctively I raise a hand to my heart to try to get it started again.

Damn. I feel the tears rise in my eyes as I race to my car. Fumbling my key in the lock, I finally get it as the waterworks open. My heart is on the floor again.

I thought it would get easier as time wore on. What a load of crap.

I see the woman stride over to the entrance to her shop, a store I may never go in again. I hope she did not see me. I could not bear the questions or the idle chitchat that makes grief so hard to swallow. I could not help it. Opening my mouth was not an option.

It has been two weeks since I have seen her and her staff to fill my order. I have no idea if I will be in there again. The pain is too raw.

For the first time in 19 years, our home floors do not have the echo of our four-legged boys. A short while ago, our beloved Indy passed away. IT was the most excruciating task I have ever done as a parent, to deliver the news to our oldest girl that he died. I can still hear him through our walls, whining for breakfast. Or hear the click of his claws on the hardwood, racing to jump on my lap.

A realization answers my question. Every time a loved one passes, it opens up the old wounds. With that, I know I am never going to be grief-free. It is about going one day at a time.

Young Adult Books for Summer

A Middle Eastern woman lying down reading

 

Brooklyn Girls 

Brooklyn Girls by Gemma Burgess is the first novel in her series about five twenty-something friends: Pia, Angie, Julia, Coco and Madeleine. They share a brownstone in hip Brooklyn. The first story tells the tale of stylish Pia, who finds herself completely unemployed and broke. So what is a recent grad with an art history degree and a history of Facebook revealing photos to do? Start a food truck business! Pia takes on the cutthroat Brooklyn world of unique food producers to start SkinnyWheels. Add her roomates problems to the daily drama and it keeps you entertained. The author captures the confusion and excitement of the post-graduate years living in New York City life, with compassion.

Famous Last Words

Sixteen-year-old Samantha D’Angelo has an interesting summer job at the local newspaper writing obituaries instead of having fun on the beach. Between Shelby, Sam’s best friend; her boss Harry, a true-blue newspaper man; and AJ, her fellow “intern scum,“ Sam has her hands full.  As Sam learns her way around both the news room and the real world, she starts to make some momentous realizations about politics, ethics, her family, romance, and herself.

Truly Madly Deadly 

Sawyer Dodd has it all. She’s a star track athlete, choir soloist, and A-student. Her boyfriend is the handsome all-star, Kevin Anderson. But behind the medals, prom pictures, and perfect smiles, Sawyer finds herself trapped in a controlling, abusive relationship with Kevin. When he dies in a drunk-driving accident, Sawyer is secretly relieved. She’s free. Until she opens her locker and finds a mysterious letter signed by “an admirer” and printed with two simple words: “You’re welcome.” This story will capture you into the high school drama like you have never known.

LuLu in LaLaland

This is a fun read about Lulu, a soon-to-be 11-year-old living in Los Angeles. She prefers gardening to primping, and homemade guacamole to five-star restaurants. You’d never know that Lulu is the daughter of a Hollywood’s A-List power couple. This year, Lulu is determined to throw the kind of birthday party her glamorous parents might actually attend. But it’s so not Lulu. Should she morph into the Tween Queen of Tinseltown, or stay true to her relaxed self?

For more great ideas to add to your list please check out the lovely Bookalicious’s roundup. I had an opportunity to share some of these reads as well.

Relax and Learn about Breast Cancer Prevention

Relax and Learn about Breast Cancer Prevention

Free Yoga

If you have been a reader here, you know that breast cancer stole my mom away from us when I was ten-years-old. My daughters never met their grandma. After my younger sister kicked cancer’s ass, I began to participate in the CIBC Run For A Cure as a way to give back to the gift of having her. It has now been over 13 years. Since then, I have been joined at the run by my sister, my brother-in-law, my best friend & my husband and our two daughters. I do believe that our girls will see a cure for breast cancer in their lifetime.
When I heard about the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation’s latest campaign to get the word out about breast health, I knew I had to help. Throughout September and part of October they will be visiting 25 campuses throughout BC, educating young women and men about ways to reduce their risk of breast cancer and empowering them with the knowledge that what they do now can impact their breast health in the future.

Don’t Forget to Check is targeted towards women and men 18-25 years old. There is a website http://www.dontforgettocheck.ca, a free iPhone and iPad app. Within these you can take a pledge, learn what to look for, set reminders to do your self checks, as well as “boob bomb” your friends. This sounds fun while having your girlfriends’ back.
Starting September 3rd, CBCF launches the “Don’t Forget to Check” college campus tours across BC. They will have information about modifiable risk factors affecting breast health including body weight, physical activity, alcohol use and smoking (harmful college life risks.) Don’t Forget To Check also encourages young women to check their breasts, know what’s normal for them, and if there are any changes, to go and see a health professional.
I have had mammograms since I was 28 years old. My mom was only 38 when she died. They only take a few minutes and can save your life. Consult your doctor or the CBCF site for more information about breast health.
How will CBCF deliver their message this year?
By hosting free yoga sessions on campus to engage in conversation with young women. While people take part in a low-impact, easy yoga session, the yoga instructor leading the class will weave messages about breast health and “don’t forget to check.”
Participation is optional. There will be the volunteers to answer questions and hand out reminders such as: bookmarks, note pads, nail files and more.
You may find them at the Student Union Building, outdoor atrium, current campus events, grassy field or high traffic areas. For locations, watch your local student newspaper, campus radio stations and posters displayed around the campuses.

For more information check out their site.

Has your life or loved ones been affected by Breast Cancer?
This year’s Run for the Cure is on October 6. Sign up here.  A new run site has been added: SURREY, BC.

The Summer I Did Not Plan

cropped-me-and-my-mom.jpg

At the beginning of summer, I had to go in for urgent surgery. Years of having bad cycles and family history, tumors invaded my reproductive system fast. So when I wrote, By The Time You Read This, I had no clue what I was facing that day. I did not know if there were more fibroids or tumors taking residence, or just what was found on the ultrasound weeks before. I have always hated the C-Word.

I was scared that I would not make it home like my mom didn’t. I had no clue which way it would go. I never wanted my mommy so badly in my life. Yet, I was not ready to meet her again.

It was the biggest relief to wake-up in ICU and realize that it was not a dream. I did not care about the pain and the itchy bandages.

It has been over 7 weeks now and I am not out of the woods. Recovery is not going well.  More tests and follow-up is needed. While the uterus and tubes are gone, the ovaries remained. Tumor Markers are not in the ‘good zone.’…yet.

So today, on the 29th anniversary of my mother’s death, I will leave my girls with a caregiver and go for more tests. By the end of this month I hope to finally celebrate with my girls and loved ones that I am okay. I have to be.

It still pains me to think of the summer I did plan back in spring. Only a few of those things, with the help of dear friends and sister, have been crossed off the list. I tried to make this summer memorable because my youngest will be starting a big milestone, kindergarten.

Whether they will remember this summer or not, I know that by being here is the most important thing. Even if that meant taking things slower.

Miss you loads, Mom. I like to think that you had something to do with my recovery. Just let me pass a few more tests. Xo

Packing for the Hospital: Keeping it Simple List

Packing for the Hospital: Keeping it Simple List

Hospital Sign

Recently, I had to go to the hospital for surgery. I kept mulling over what to pack in my hospital bag. In the past I always over packed, especially when I gave birth to my daughters. This time around, I remembered to keep it simple as I hoped that it would be for the one night.  So here is what I packed for your reference, whether you are the patient or the visitor.

  1. $5.00 in change. It came in handy to send visitors to the vending machine after the cafeteria was closed. Comfort food comes in handy at midnight sometimes. My weakness was ginger ale and chocolate.
  2. I loaded my smartphone with movies. Since you never know when the TV person comes through. Plus, I did not want the hassle of paying the one-day fee.
  3. Magazines, scratch and win tickets, pen and a small notebook. They fill the restless hours as you are trying to heal. The notebook is good for any instructions the doctor may tell you, or to write down an item you need from home.
  4. Toiletries: lip balm (hospitals can be very dry), unscented travel lotion, mouthwash and sanitary napkins (hospital fare can be pretty industrial). Also, pack a spare pair or two of underwear. Trust me.
  5. Utility pack: earplugs (in case you have a snoring neighbor), ear buds for your smartphone (helps to shut out hospital noise) and if you do bring your phone, do not forget the charger. Depending where your room is located, it could be roaming for a cell tower signal. It was great to have my phone to say goodnight and good morning to my household.

It was great to have a small care pack with me in the hospital. Comforts of home can be very healing to you as you are recovering. Best tip from me to you is not to expect to read a thick book, you body will take over your brain.

What did I miss on this list?