It is a new year and that means new beginnings. Today I bid a beautiful farewell to 2018. Many would think that I could say a few hearty expletives in describing my 2018, but actually it was a great year. A lovely benefit to having a smart phone with all my pictures from the years (and years before) is that I can really look back in pictures and have a good look at what was 2018.
We took a ladies weekend trip in January to a lovely home on Lake Michigan.
We also took Ella to the Ruth B. show at the Ark in Ann Arbor. It was her first small show and she loved it.
Jenn and I started attending the Zen Buddhist Temple regularly.
I started an organizing business, Tidy Hen, of which was shut down in August after a wonderfully successful run. Unfortunately this work did not mesh well with my new world post cancer, but it felt wonderful to be successful so quickly.
We hosted our biggest Ypsi Egg Hunt ever with 600 in attendance.
I was proposed to and married to my best friend all in the same day surrounded by loved ones.
Jenn and I took an amazing and inspiring trip to Barcelona.
I taught many successful DONA birth doula trainings.
Jenn spent a week in Alabama at FEMA camp with a friend.
We replaced our broken cement front walk with slate stone.
We replaced out broken cement retaining wall on the alley with a beautiful rock wall.
Jenn and I power-housed a one day fence building.
Jenn found and purchased two matching 1983 Spree scooters.
My beautiful grandmother turned 100 years old.
I broke my toe.
We had a lovely season of frogs in the pond.
Many wonderful bonfires with friends and with just Jenn and I.
We took the time to go down to the Eastern Market to fill our property with more periannuals.
Our sweet Ella started high school.
Jenn and I attended five lovely weddings, and joyfully helped put one of the weddings on.
Ella went to her first year at camp Algonquin.
Sam got his wisdom teeth pulled resulting in hilarious video of my sweet child a bit doped up.
Jenn and I had a great rec league softball season and with a bit of luck did not miss a game due to my health issues.
The Michigan Prison Doula Initiative, of whom I am one of four co-founders and the Prison Doula Program Coordinator, was approved to bring doula care to Women’s Huron Valley Correctional Facility, which is so very exciting. (FUNDRAISING UNDERWAY SO CONSIDER SUPPORTING OUR PROGRAM PLEASE SO WE CAN SUPPORT THESE WOMEN – FOLLOW THIS LINK)
It was a hearty harvest year from our garden.
Ella had her first school dance and went with a pack of girls making for a really fun evening.
I was able to participate in the first Prison Doula Conference in Minnesota and partook in a little professional (re)development by taking a Lamaze Educator training with a very talented teacher.
We got a puppy.
I have had more hang out time and more conversations with my kids because of our forced slow down after my cancer.
And to top it all off, a heart warming holiday season to wrap up 2018.
All this said I am so blessed and lucky for the beautifully rich life I have. Jenn and I have made a wonderful warm and welcoming home. We have navigated to tough water of this journey together that has brought a growth and intimacy between us that I would not trade in for the world.
With my cancer, surgery, ostomy, chemo and whatever else, it would be too easy to resign to “2018 Sucked!”. Yes, some very hard and sad things happened this year. There have been many tears and heart-break but that is life. My eyes are welling up just typing these sentences, but without great sorrows we could not have great joys.
The journey in buddhism has greatly assisted both Jenn and I moving through all the things. One of my biggest take-aways from 2018 is that all I have is this exact moment – how do I want to hold this moment? I find I do not get as upset or stressed as I used to before the cancer discovery. I have slowed down enough to appreciate little things like watching our squirrels and blue birds in the morning while I drink my coffee. Right now, I am not drawn to speed though my life, to do it all, or to do everything as I have in the past. I see this slowing down trait as something that comes after people are older and retired. I feel very fortunate that this shift has come to me/us at this time. I have been able to be present for people (my kids especially) and moments that before I would have been buzzing around so fast that those would have been missed these opportunities.
As the ball dropped on the New Year night I was heartily embraced by my wife and she said in my ear “Happy New Year! Happy You’re Alive!”. That was a real moment. I am happy I am alive. I am aware that at a different time my condition would have cut my time short on this planet. I am so very thankful for modern medicine. Another friend that night, who has also gone through so much this year, said to me very candidly “I have to be honest, I am not ready to lose you yet.” My reply “Good thing I am not ready to go yet.” I am very blessed and loved. I have learned so much from our friends and family that have shown up for us. I know I try to be a good friend but I have experienced even more wonderful ways to support people from my community. I am looking forward to paying the kindness forward when I can.
For the sake of balance I want to be real that this morning I woke up and cried into my coffee because I did not want to come back to the hospital today and get chemo round #7. Yesterday I felt out of sorts being that it was the New Year – time for restarts and resolutions of which I would love to do both but feel a bit chained to my chemo. So, maybe I will have my own New Year on Valentines Day maybe which will be nine days after my last chemo pill. I am not looking forward to how I will be feeling in the upcoming days. BUT I did plan ahead and I have visitors scheduled to break up my time and Jenn and the kids will be home. The house will be bustling around me which will be good. Slowing down does assist in being able to actually plan ahead – BONUS!
I want to also acknowledge the people who were not here on this planet to celebrate this New Years – Katie, Jeanne, John, Liz, Grace and others. I hold them and their families in my heart. May this coming year bring simple joys and positive gifts to all.
I am thankful for this moment. I am thankful for this life. I am very thankful for our family and community. I am very blessed.
Weeeeeeeee…we love that you’re alive AF.