Light It Up Teal: Power of Pretty.

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One of the most important things I did things I did for myself during cancer/chemo/recovery was to make sure that I truly took time for myself. Whether it was a bath with essential oils, an extra cup of tea and a good book, a pretty shade of lipstick, a nice walk….or most importantly, having lovely nails.  There were days when my skin was blotchy, my skin was awful, my nausea was at an all time super awesome high, but I could take a look at my pretty toes and fingers, then have a little smile.

is that vain? No. Taking care of yourself is the most important thing a woman can do, but it is essential, crucial even when you are in treatment for something that could have been life threatening. You need something to boost your spirits, be it prayer, music, or surrounding yourself with loveliness. I chose prayer/meditation, making sure to never tax myself too much, and surround myself with loveliness.

One of the greatest things I got to do in the last couple years was visit my friend Hollie a couple times a month. Sometimes I was feeling so low, and she would crack me up, listen attentively and offer sound advice, and at the end of an hour present me with lovely hands! Sometimes, when I was especially down, she would smile and say “My treat. Go forget about all the negativity for awhile!” She is one o the most talented and kindest people I have met. She understands so much about the hardships we can all go through and always offers kindness- a lesson that I try to take with me regularly.

I posted here a gallery of her work, my own polishes, and cool Jamberry’s. I’ve had the privilege to work with another very kind friend, Sarah Alanis. She introduced me to Jamberry’s- which have been great as my nails start to heal. They are such a fun option and addition to my collection of nail pretties. I love them because they are vegan, affordable, they last a long time, and one set has more than one manicure and pedicure in it!

Together, Connie, Sarah Alanis and I are partnering on my other awesome Ovarian Cancer Awareness fundraiser!  We have designed 3 special sets of Jams for the cause, the company is donating and we are donating matching amounts based on this great fundraiser! Just like Connie and I’s other fundraiser with EO4 bracelets- you shop and we donate to this amazing cause.

Everyone, Ovarian Cancer is one of the chief causes of death amongst cancers in the female reproductive system.  What is so important is that we come forward and create opportunities for awareness, action, and advocacy.  Plus, shopping for an awesome cause when the goods are high quality and affordable is always a win-win scenario!

This is the start of a huge year for me, guys and gals. Awareness on this important health issue is needed because not enough people know what it even is. Advocacy is the name of the game and as I celebrate my first year of being off of chemo and cancer free, I will be lighting it up TEAL in every way that I can.  Consider our fundraisers, donating to an important and reputable organization that is doing this important work helps us take steps forward for our women, everywhere.  I listed a huge amount of different organizations in Connie’s post, but when I post my story this week, I will be talking about the work I want to do as well.

In the mean time, please head to our fundraisers! Your dollars matter- even if it is just $1!  Light it up TEAL on Tuesdays, wear that color and tell people that you are proud to know women who have overcome this and a variety of other feminine cancers!  Tomorrow, I’ll be sporting my TEAL, promoting these fundraisers, and advocating on behalf of women who haven’t found their voice yet!

Check out Jamberry and our fundraisers.  Light it up TEAL!  Remember how much your support has always meant to me and will continue to as I continue this awesome journey.

Glitter and Sparkles,

Sara Rose

Learning Without A Teacher Is Hard Work: Nolan Goes TEAL.

Us 2

Death is something that has always frightened me. In a world filled with ephemera, pop fads, and 140-character life updates, death has a permanence to it that terrifies me.

Cancer is something I associate closely with death. It’s not completely curable or treatable, unfathomable amounts of time and money are spent each year findings new ways for people that suffer various types of cancer to live longer, and ultimately it seems to hide and come back in new and devastating ways.

So, when Sara was told she had irregular cells in her uterus and on her cervix and that she needed a hysterectomy after our son was born, I was naturally worried. That worry didn’t go away, in part because I naturally make everything a worst-case scenario and in part because they refused to take her ovaries. When she received her ovarian cancer diagnosis 2 years later, it felt like my world was ending.

Now, because she’d had cancer before we both knew the odds of her getting some form of cancer during our marriage was pretty high. I didn’t expect it before 30. It’s too young. It’s too soon. We have kids. I love her too much for this to be real. These are the thoughts that went through my head.

WithEva WithOwen

As time wore on and we battled insurance and finance issues, scheduling issues, and tried to juggle our lives around a disease that ate away at both of us more each day, I got angry. I got depressed. I got lonely. Sara was there, but she wasn’t herself. She was tired, uncomfortable, and not filled with the energy I’d become so used to and dependent on.

These were the hardest problems I faced, and while we had our parents’ support, and the support of our small group of friends and family, a lot of times encouraging words weren’t enough. I was a young adult trying to cope with the realities of something I hadn’t thought would happen until my hair was grey and my face was wrinkled. And I had to do it alone. The doctors, our friends, our family, everyone had advice, but so little of it was useful, educational, and absolutely nowhere offered any words that were soothing or comforting.

That’s why this issue, this month of awareness is so important to me. Nobody should have to go through this unequipped, uninformed, and alone. Yes, there are good, qualified charities to donate to that help with offsetting costs or furthering research, but to me, the fact is that cancer, especially ovarian and other types of women’s cancer are not going away any time soon.

We need to raise awareness and find ways to provide support for those battling cancer but also those supporting someone who is fighting that fight. Organizations that provide educational materials about these types of cancer, local and national support groups to help all those affected deal with the emotional aspects of this trying process, this is where I feel there is the most work to be done. I’m a firm believer that knowing your enemy is half the battle, but with so much misinformation, so many snake-oil salesmen, and an economy clawing for every desperate dollar, we need to know who our allies are that can help teach us.

So, please, take the time this month to educate yourself about the organizations out there that are trying to educate and support families dealing with ovarian and other women’s cancers. And if you can’t or choose not to donate, please take the time to read and educate yourself, both to help prevent such a tragedy from striking you or your family and to become an instrument of support should tragedy strike someone you know.

Above all, remember that this is not just a women’s issue, but also a men’s issue, a family issue, one that affects and alters the lives of everyone who faces it – it is a living issue.
Us

After years of dealing with ovarian cancer, sleepless nights, sleepless weeks, unfamiliar treatments and doctors and words and tests, I feel like I’ve learned a lot, but I’ve also learned it the hard way. The cancer can always come back, and that worry will never go away, but knowing ways to help my family, support the woman I love, and empower myself in troubled times allow me to worry less and focus more on how to move forward, living life fully, one day at a time.

LIGHT IT UP TEAL- Meet Connie!

 

I was introduced to Connie through our mutual friend, Rae, whom I have written about before. Connie has been a divine source of empowerment, light, and encouragement as I went through the ordeal of having Ovarian Cancer, the aftermath, and all of it’s terrible repercussions.  September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness month and we hope you celebrate today with us! Wear TEAL, donate for awareness and research, give time to someone who may be struggling with it, and know that they walk a hard path. Any cancer is hard, but something that obliterates your very femininity is especially trying for the soul.

Connie is soothing and powerful. Her story is amazing and she works hard to promote a holistic lifestyle now that cancer may be over for her. She does so much work in advocacy and education that it is just BREATHTAKING!  I look to her as a role model as I work towards my own goal to LIGHT IT UP TEAL as an advocate and educator for the rest of my life.  I plan to work every day to educate women about preventative care and

Before I let her take over to tell her story, know this. Connie and I will be running two huge fundraisers this month. She will introduce the FIRST one as it is part of her story and the post I put up for my story for Saturday will introduce our other.  At the end of the month, matching donations will be made from these companies to any one of the following organizations. We will also be making some matching contributions, hope to have fun with these fundraisers, and help women empower and educate each other!

You can go here, too, to donate-

Ovarian Cancer Institute – http://ovariancancerinstitute.org/
Foundation for Women’s Cancer – http://www.foundationforwomenscancer.org/
Ovarian Cancer Research Fund – http://www.ocrf.org/

Or to research and learn more, go to-

National Ovarian Cancer Coalition – http://www.ovarian.org/
Ovations for the Cure – https://www.ovationsforthecure.org/
National Institute of Health – http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/tutorials/ovariancancer/htm/index.htm
Ovarian Cancer Education and Research Network – http://ocern.org/
Ovarian Cancer from Cancer.gov – http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/types/ovarian

But, as Connie would say- Please raise awareness of ovarian cancer by wearing Teal, and sharing the whispering symptoms with women you love. Symptoms in the majority of women who develop ovarian cancer are bloating; pelvic and abdominal pain; difficulty eating or feeling full quickly; and urinary symptoms (urgency or frequency). Additional symptoms may include fatigue, indigestion, back pain, pain with intercourse, constipation and menstrual irregularities. There is no reliable and easy-to-administer early detection test for ovarian cancer (the Pap test, which screens for cervical cancer, does not detect ovarian cancer). It whispers, listen to your body. 

Connie Scheel EO4Balance - Personal Essential Oil Diffusers Gratefully  Surviving & Thriving after Endometrial & Ovarian Cancers Ovarian Cancer Awareness & Research Advocate with OCNA's Advocate Leaders Regional Coordinator for  Southeast Region Ovarian Cancer National Alliance Survivors Teaching Students(R): Saving Women's Lives  Zen Method Tai Chi  Instructor for cancer Survivors

EO4Balance - Personal Essential Oil Diffusers
 
Gratefully  Surviving & Thriving after Endometrial & Ovarian Cancers
Ovarian Cancer Awareness & Research Advocate with OCNA’s Advocate Leaders
Regional Coordinator for  Southeast Region
Ovarian Cancer National Alliance Survivors Teaching Students(R): Saving Women’s Lives 
 
Zen Method Tai Chi  Instructor for cancer Survivors

The experience of having Ovarian cancer broke me open. It brought me ready to willfully shed some of my darkness and the Light has flooded in.  My ovarian cancer story begins in August of 2007 when I moved to southern Florida to fulfill my dream of living near a beach. I was a single 31 years old with no children, and was excited to start a new chapter of my life. I hadn’t had medical insurance in 10 years, so as soon as my new job provided me with insurance I made an appointment to see a gynecologist. I was starting to Love and care for myself in a fresh way in my new state. My nurse practitioner saved my life by noticing that the lining of my uterus was too thick. She sent me down the hall for a transvaginal ultrasound right away. It was as unpleasant as it you might imagine. A series of tests were done over the course of about a month. In early February I was diagnosed with Stage 1A endometrial cancer. I was shocked and terrified and 1000 miles from home.

My gynecologist told me my weight caused this cancer and then the insensitive poor bed-mannered man doctor told me that this was the best cancer to have because “all” I needed was a hysterectomy. I clearly remember my mind swimming and feeling like I was drowning as I tried to focus on his words.

I was given the choice to get pregnant right away (hey YOU over there, want to have a baby??)  or schedule the surgery. I wish I would have been given more fertility preservation information like egg freezing but it was never mentioned. When I asked about it I was told it would be too expensive and was brushed off. I hadn’t found my Power and Voice quite yet, so I just let go of the issue. I felt embarrassed and my self esteem was in the toilet after hearing that my weight was the cause of my cancer especially at the doctor’s office.

Though, I had always wanted children of my own, my intuition told me to have the hysterectomy. I was able to make the choice with peace because I had become an Aunt in June of 2006 and had the wonderful privilege of spending lots of quality time with my oldest niece. I had a successful laparoscopic partial hysterectomy in early March of 2008. I recovered and returned to work, and tried to put the shame and trauma of cancer behind me.

Ha! Shame and trauma can’t be swept under the rug even when you live in beautiful beachy places. During this time I was introduced to Reiki by a friend and found it wonderfully relaxing and calming. Pamela Miles of reikimedicine.org gives a lovely description on her website, “Reiki healing promotes overall balance to help you feel better and function better. This non-invasive practice is safe, and supports any medical treatment or drugs prescribed by your doctor.” Reiki introduced me to Inner Peace. My friend generously offered free sessions for me, and taught me how to do self-Reiki. I used Reiki through both cancer treatments and still use it today and find it very calming and balancing.

In October of 2008 I had a CT scan as part of my post cancer care, and a tumor was found where my uterus had been. This astounded me as I only went to the doctor because I thought I had found lumps in one of my breasts. I somehow had blindly trusted my gynecologist when he told me that endometrial cancer was the best kind to have since it was so easily treated with hysterectomy. I never considered it could ‘come back’ in some form. Ignorance is not bliss.

Honestly, I put off making the appointment with the gynecologic oncologist for a couple weeks because I just didn’t want to face an oncologist and another diagnosis and the shame I felt about having cancer again. Once I did dig up the courage to call I had to wait 3 weeks for an appointment. Waiting those 3 weeks was mental and emotional torture. I berated myself with my own voice. I blamed myself and my body. I isolated myself from most of the world. I was ashamed. I hated myself. I was scared.

I went to the dreaded appointment was examined and talked with the gynoncologist. I was diagnosed with endometriod adenocarcinoa with ovarian origin. In other words, an independent primary ovarian cancer Stage 1. It was not a recurrence of endometrial cancer, which was very strange. I was horrified, confused, scared and much too far from the comfort and Love of home physically and mentally.

Surgery to remove the tumor was scheduled for January. My Mom flew in and took excellent care of me. The surgery was a success, all visible signs of cancer was removed and no metastases were found. Flood of relief. However, my oncologist was concerned about me having 2 gynecologic cancers within about a year. He decided my treatment would be very aggressive so as to kill any rogue cancer cells and since I was so ‘healthy and young’ I would tolerate the treatment well. I didn’t feel healthy or young, though. I was also confused that this doctor wasn’t blaming me or my weight for this cancer. I started to think that maybe it wasn’t my fault but I didn’t focus on it much. I didn’t know about ovarian cancer support groups back then, but it would have been really helpful.

I had 6 weeks of external radiation followed by 3 internal radiation treatments. It was extremely painful to urinate during radiation and even for about 3 weeks afterwards. I experienced great fatigue and frustrating diarrhea, also. Halfway through external radiation treatments I had to return to work part time, though I spent most of my shift in the bathroom. It was embarrassing and exhausting, but my co-workers were very kind to me.

In April of 2010 I again met with my gynecologic oncologist and was quite disturbed and surprised that he was recommending chemotherapy despite a recent no-evidence-of-disease (NED) CT scan. I had to make a very tough decision to leave the life I loved in Florida to return home to Memphis. In short, I needed my mommy. I was broken and sick and exhausted on many levels.  Cancer didn’t kill me, but it in many ways it took my life. It broke me open.

I moved home in mid May and started chemotherapy on June 2, 2010. My youngest nephew was born that afternoon which was joyful. I had 6 rounds of carboplatin and taxol every 3 weeks.

I lost all my hair. Though that was initially devastating I learned to rock my bald head. My bald head bubbled up a bit of brave in me. A few of my online friends shaved their heads and posted pictures, and my Mom and both my sisters donated their hair to locks of love. The sense of community support was wonderful.

Chemotherapy brought severe bone pain in my legs, very sore knees and neuropathy- numbness- in my feet. I was exhausted and was extremely weak, oftentimes unable to leave my bedroom for days after a treatment. I had been waging war with my body since my teenage years, and this was rock bottom. I had this vague sense that there must be another way to be… to live with Peace about who I am and how I looked. It was the beginning of a new awareness and Love for myself.

Though my gynecologic oncologist prescribed several different medications to relieve these side effects, I only found relief in natural therapies, including reflexology, Reiki self treatments, meditation and Young Living essential oils.

I was introduced to reflexology and essential oils by a fluke of extroversion. I had found a free healing spa night for women cancer Survivors at a local art gallery on Facebook and I went which was completely out of character for me. I used to be really introverted, but my intuition was drawing me to this Spa night and so off I went. Alone. And I didn’t know a single soul there. My brave was starting to bloom, bald head style.

The spa night was surely part of my Divine path as it brought me to Lynn Watson of Footsteps in Eden Reflexology. She gave me a sample of Young Living’s peppermint essential oil to rub on my knees, and it quite literally changed my life. The excruciating pain I had felt for months lifted away for a couple hours. I took a big step towards Inner Peace and healing that night. Peppermint essential oil relieved my chemo pains when nothing else did and I was filled with hope and wonder.

I fell in love with essential oils and have been researching and reading about them ever since. I’m fascinated by these potent liquids of nature that work to balance my body and soul while relieving pains without worry of negative side effects. .

I completed chemo, found pain and heartburn relief with peppermint essential oil, celebrated the holidays with my family and life continued on. I was different though. I had been through fire and broken open and felt lost.

I got invited to a gynecologic cancer retreat through my cancer clinic a few months after treatment, and thanks to a firm push from my mom I attended. It was an incredibly wonderful experience with Yoga, journal exercises, and Sisterhood. I met some amazing Survivor Sisters, and learned that teal is the ribbon color representing ovarian cancer. I had found my Teal Tribe and my new post-cancer life started to form.

An awesome Teal Sister I met at the retreat invited me to a support group meeting just for ovarian cancer Survivors and found the group to be incredibly wonderful. I discovered ovarian cancer awareness advocacy and started to volunteer at events to share my story and tell people about the whispering symptoms. I was finding my Power and Brave using my voice for Teal advocacy.

I love connecting with Survivors, sharing hope and stories and reaching out to the public for awareness.  I attended 3 Ovarian Cancer National Alliance conferences in Washington D.C. and got to meet with amazing Survivors and empowering advocates. This volunteer work became a passion for me. I was invited to served on a ovarian cancer foundation’s Board of Directors as a Social Media Director. I also worked to launch Ovarian Cancer National Alliance’s program Survivors Teaching Students to Tennessee, and was thrilled to part of the first presentation in Memphis this past July at University of Tennessee’s Health Science Physician Assistant school. If you’re an ovarian cancer reader, please consider volunteering to share your story in the STS(R) program. Quoted from www.ovariancancer.org, “The goal of Survivors Teaching Students is for future physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses and physician assistants to be able to diagnose the disease when it is in its earlier, most treatable stages. This program brings ovarian cancer survivors into the classroom, where they present their unique stories along with facts about the disease. Students are able to interact with and learn from actual patients.”  If you’re interested, please email me at cms1274@gmail.com

Last winter I started wishing to expand my advocacy skills and efforts, and the opportunity came to be the Regional Coordinator of the Southeast for the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance’s trademarked program Survivors Teaching Students: Saving Women’s Lives(R). I also applied to serve as an Advocate Leader with OCNA. I was accepted, and have been working on building relationships with elected officials and a coalition network of friends, Survivors and family to answer calls of action for ovarian cancer research and awareness advocacy in Tennessee. I also work with other Advocate Leaders to join our efforts, ideas and energy. It’s challenging and fascinated volunteer work. To me, it’s a calling…. an obligation of this two time Survivor.

Do you feel a call to ovarian cancer advocacy? There are many ways to raise your teal voice!

In July of 2012 I attended the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance where I meet Zen Method Tai Chi Creator Angella Hamilton. She was teaching mini classes between speakers and I was immediately drawn into this contemporary Tai Chi. I introduced myself and asked to learn more about this wonderful method. My curiosity fueled this brave act! I brought this practice home with me and found great Peace and release in these movements that tell the story of a Survivor. To my surprise and joy, Angella called me a few months later and asked if I’d like to be trained to be an Instructor of Zen Method. I gratefully accepted and travelled to Arizona for a long weekend of training. Becoming a teacher of a fitness class has challenged me and helped to make Peace with my own body image. We teach what we need to learn the most, right? Zen Method Tai Chi blends beautifully with Young Living essential oils, and many times I diffuse a stress relieving essential oil during my free classes for Survivors.

Along this ovarian cancer experience I’ve also found healing, Inner Peace, self forgiveness and bravery. I started blended these different healing modalities, awkwardly at first, but it led me to the creation of essential oil diffuser jewelry. My family and I have been using Young Living’s essential oils for over 4 years now. My 5 nieces and nephews use lavender for bug bites and help sleeping, peppermint for digestive issues, headaches and allergy relief and Peace & Calming to unwind after long stressful days.

My oldest niece, Zoey, has been using peppermint oil for relief of her several seasonal allergies. She’s the reason that EO4Balance diffuser bracelets exist, and I’m forever grateful. When school started last Fall she needed an afternoon treatment of Peppermint but she wasn’t allowed to bring liquid Peppermint to school with her. I researched other options, but didn’t find any affordable and easy that was appropriate for a 7 year old. My research and prayers led me to unfinished rosewood beads. Rosewood beads have been used as prayer beads for a long time and they work as a diffuser beautifully.

I launched EO4Balance on Etsy on April 27, 2014 and I’m delighted by it’s success! Somehow, almost like magic, the things I love dearly and that are Sacred to me have blended together. Ovarian cancer advocacy, essential oils, connecting with people, artistry of bracelet and necklace designs, and being a Light of hope to Survivor Sisters have blended together so well and now I live an amazing and grateful life.

OVCBracelets2
In honor of September is ovarian cancer awareness month; EO4Balance has a special offer that also includes a donation to Ovarian Cancer Research Fund. Choose from 2 bracelet designs and you’ll also receive a sample packet of lavender and peppermint essential oils to use on your bracelet for $20. $5 from each sale will be donated to OCRF at the end of September.

OVCBracelets1Thank you Connie! Guys and Gals, Light it up TEAL tomorrow! Support our fundraisers here and on Facebook and we will be educating all month long on this!  I hope you all take the time to tell my TEAL sister how incredibly awesome she is and peruse our beautiful bracelets! By the way, every one in this house has one for diferent ailments and THEY ARE AMAZING!  Thank you, Connie!

Teal Glitter and Sparkles!!!

Sara Rose

 

Your Poverty.

Fill Your Hands.
Fill Your Hands.

It comes to me in my quietness lately that there are so many people that really suffer who could actually do something about it.

How, you might ask! They have THINGS, MONEY, POWER, AND STUFF.

Not really, those don’t help your spirit, they do not fill your heart.

I wasn’t really expecting to be affected by Robin Williams death.

But it was so similar to another man I knew. There was a difference.

One man was poor in spirit and rich in things. The other, rich, it seemed, in both.

I struggle with it. Deeply.

My family did the ALS Ice Challenge because of some residual feelings of sadness from his death but also because we were genuinely excited to be given an opportunity to be donating time and effort to such an under acknowledged cause.

I am actually really, very, proud that I am raising kids who get excited to volunteer and to give of themselves.

What I am not excited about is the negative backlash that efforts like this go through.

“WHAT? Water waste!” Oh, and are we going to talk about the wasted water at the water park you took your family to all summer?

“So many other deserving causes!” Yup. I can agree. But you know what, pick one.

In fact, pick several things that you will give your time and money to instead of buying more crap you and your kids don’t need or wasting time in front o the t.v.

Your heart is pretty empty if you can give me five good reasons why you cannot donate ten dollars or ten minutes to a good cause.

That pervasive feeling of powerlessness is your inability to give of yourself and it is awful, yes?

So, I challenge you to something interesting.

Something that I have just challenged my own little self and my family to do.

Pick something to do. It doesn’t have to be daily. It can be weekly or monthly.

Pick it and/or pick a new thing regularly, stick to it, and give yourself to it.

See, charitable causes need our time and our money.

They do need our ice buckets. They also need people pouring soup, holding peoples’ hands, gathering coats for kids…

The possibilities are pretty endless.

You really were put here to do something.

That something wasn’t to max your credit cards out and gloat about it.

This is no complaint about the wealthy. I have seen firsthand the power of people who have a completely selfless spirit that just happened to be wealthy.

It’s about people that have everything to complain about and no room to help change anything.

Move your small boulder, Atlas.

So, stop complaining and give endlessly of yourself.

See how your poverty ends.

Glitter and Sparkles,

Sara Rose

It is on Purpose….

shhh

Have you ever kept quiet?

Not in the ‘Keep your mouth shut!’ way but in the, there is so much I can say….my mind is never quiet….

So I choose to be quiet until I reach ‘IT’?

That’s where I am.

Not avoiding writing, because I do it everyday.

But in the place where I am weighing words very carefully.

I miss the sound of my fingers flitting across the keyboard, yes.

But, I also read right now.

I do yoga in both the morning and the evening with Eva.

I let myself take naps.

I let my mouth stay shut when I could be talking.

I have found that it lets me laugh more.

I see where to place my intentions more clearly.

Words do what they did before, they form completely in my head and I know what I want to say.

Perhaps, it is age, but I am young.

Perhaps it is the idea that mindfulness is a sort of freedom that is not bought.

I have such amazing things in store as I write!

But I wait to let the world see them because right now…..

I chose to let myself be in the world I have so carefully observed from the window for so long.

It’s not always comfortable. It is new.

But is has allowed me quiet.

I needed that.

Words to be had soon, friends.

Glitter and sparkles,

Sara Rose

The Blue.

What Dreams May Come.
What Dreams May Come.

“Thank you…for gracing my life with your lovely presence, for adding the sweet measure of your soul to my existence.”

-Richard Matheson

I always thought that when I died, I would approach a hallway like this.

It struck me today as the nation mourns Robin Williams.

Every day, I work with someone who has a mental illness and most of those days, it is myself.

I chose a profession where I had no idea of the frustrations and the joys, simply because, as we learn when a person succumbs to the darkness, nobody can save you but yourself.

Pills are readily available. In multitudes. We are a nation of pill poppers.

But a person to listen openly and who is compassionate but also honest is a rare combination.

We can choose kindness.  We can choose firmness. But we also have to choose to be open.

There are millions of people who have some form of mental illness and in America, we treat it like a joke.

This person here has a severe combination of Panic Disorder and Agoraphobia, but I make choices that take me away from dark paths and closed windows.

Actually, there have been times where I have been so terrified of the outside world, I could not leave my bedroom.

I have to tell myself, every day, to step outside of my door.

But every day, I work with children to help them to not go down that road.

I talk to my good friends and am open, honest, sometimes brutally blunt when I see them making choices that could leave them seeing a shadowy path.

I made a choice, a long time ago.

I saw my father and his demons hanging from the rafters of our garage in the middle of the night when I was 18.

Do you know? I still cannot go into that garage?

I can’t even put my hand on the door.

But the day after his death dawned so crystalline blue and cold, that when I walked outside with a mug of coffee, I thought, “There are choices I can never accept for myself. This sky is telling me to go on.”

I wish Mr. Robin Williams’ family peace in their sorrow.

I wish that our society could open a dialogue about the devil that lies dormant and is only tempered with pills.

And I pray that you, if you are suffering, see that cold, crystal blue, and say that you must go on.

Reach for the blue.

Nobody can change the entire world.

We are all here to change our small corner of it and that is what moves mountains.

Sara Rose

Numbers on a Page.

About a week ago, I celebrated an anniversary.

Quietly. Not much ado. No big bangs going off.

32

There’s been a lot of upheaval in our lives and there has also been a lot of negativity, especially about this subject.

But it’s now been a little over a year that I have been cancer-free and it is pretty awesome.

What isn’t awesome is the fight about health care, quality of life, and the belief in whether people have rights to those things in this country.

I remember this though.  A kind friend at my nail salon back in Vermillion wanted me to have the best.nails.ever before my surgery, so she blinged them out hard core two weeks prior in case we had to take them off (we didn’t because I left my toes unpainted).
surgerynails

After my surgery, my beautiful bestie drove across town from work, sacrificing her lunch break so she could get my husband lunch and me a Sprite.

29

My inlaws, who think less than fondly of me, watched our kids for two weeks.  My husband set all sorts of alarms to keep himself on a schedule to keep my pills coming to me.

My Aunt and my Mom, both in the Southwest, made sure we had things like a house cleaner, a nanny, the cars serviced, and a daily dose of emails.  Our house cleaner was from Romania and made me bone broths and scrubbed our house from the roof to below the carpet.

My babies came in and laid next to me, quietly and kindly, to watch movies and nap.

Our insurance dropped me because of the insane expense that cancer really is.

My friends and loved ones rallied to raise enough money so that I could keep up with weekly doctor appointments, medications, chemo, etc.

We moved.  I grew stronger and older.  I took on things like my kids’ soccer teams because I wanted to show them how you fight an illness.

You fight something by not accepting that it is superior to you.

We have grown and struggled a lot as a family.  We have had a lot of heart breaks and set backs.

But. I won’t ever regret having had cancer. I won’t regret talking about it.  I am sad there have been people in my life who couldn’t be supportive but I forgive that.
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I am not walking their road.

I am so grateful to the people who have remained by my side as I work each day to grow stronger and better.  I love all the laughter, the cards, the letters, little gifts, emails, and surprises that have come my way to show how much you care.

Thank you for being there.  I won’t name people but thank you to everyone who has took up my banner and championed me over these last 2 1/2 years.
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I am stepping back into an old familiar role but with new scars that have made me a better person, I hope.

I am blessed because of this.

Glitter and Sparkles,

Sara Rose

Hey Mama!

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It’s my mama’s birthday and I wish I had a more recent picture of her and I, but alas, one from her wedding a few years ago will have to do.  This girl deserves the best day and the best year because she does everything, always with others first in her mind.  She is kindness and beauty of spirit personified.

She and I have a lot to celebrate this July. Birthdays. Our first year of being cancer free. Anniversaries. Little joys.  I hope she has a big glass of wine and a bubble bath because nobody deserves it more.  I love you, mama.

In fact, George Washington said it best:

My mother was the most beautiful woman I ever saw. All I am I owe to my mother. I attribute all my success in life to the moral, intellectual and physical education I received from her.

Sparkles and Glitter,
Sara Rose

A Very Special #GuestPost: Meet Vanessa

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Vanessa and I went to college together, about a million years ago.  Or maybe way less than that. But to fill the void as I work out some writing kinks, she’s written something pretty awesome.  See, we’re both rebounding from pretty major life stuff and doing our best to be our own ‘every things’.  It’s hard, it’s tiring, but at the same time, the sweet moments are such incredible triumphs.  Meet such an amazing friend to me and remember to keep on swimming, every day, and that this isn’t everything you are.

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Vanessa, Vanity and Chronic Illness

 

I wanted to write something inspiring and deep and change lives.  But then I remembered that there are plenty of people doing that and doing a much better job than I ever could, so I decided to write about a small struggle.  Reading this isn’t going to make you smarter.  It’s not going to save anyone’s life.  Hopefully though, it might make you feel less alone or help you relate to someone you know.

Back in 2010, I had to have my thyroid removed.  Let me tell you, if you want to make your body hate you, take something out that it needs to function.  I don’t recommend this, I’m just saying I know that it really, really works. As a result of this surgery, my parathyroid glands quit working.  Parathyroid glands are what regulate your blood calcium.  Why is that important?  Beyond keeping your bones strong, calcium helps your nerves send messages (like telling your legs to move) and works to make your muscles contract (like your heart).  My body no longer regulates its own calcium levels.  I have to take medication to do it.  The best analogy I have is this:  having this disease is similar to Type I Diabetes.  I’m reliant on an outside source of something my body needs.  The thing is, I have no way to know what my calcium levels are.  I have to play a really-not-fun game of Guess How Much Calcium You Need Today!  Too much…I deal with kidney stones.  Not enough…extreme weakness and pain.  Ever had a charlie horse?  That’s what low calcium feels like. A charlie horse. Except it happens everywhere, all at once.

Ok.  So you’re caught up on the basic medical stuff. Do you feel smarter?  Can you just pretend you feel smarter, so that when I ask you what you think about this little writing experiment, you can say, “Yes!  I definitely feel smarter!”?  Thanks.

Now to the not serious stuff.

My hair started to fall out.  My eyebrows did, too. I looked like an unfortunate chemistry experiment gone wrong.  After a year of rest and having my mom make me sit down (thanks, Mom), my hair has started to regrow.  And I have some eyebrows.  My fingernails never grow anymore.  When my calcium is low, my skin gets grayish/bluish/LochNessMonsterish and I get some pretty serious dark circles under my eyes.  My skin also gets dry and old-lady-looking.  I look sick.

And of all the things that drive me crazy about this constant battle with chronic illness, this is the one thing that I struggle with the most.  I look sick.  I can be cheerful and joke around and pretend all I want, but the simple fact is that I can’t lie about how I feel when I look like the undead version of Kate Hudson.  Alright, maybe I’m reaching by comparing myself to Kate Hudson, but no one said I had to be realistic in my celebrity comparisons.

Some days washing my face and putting my hair in a bun is an achievement.  Not in a lazy way, in a “standing requires some major effort” way.  It’s not much, but it’s what I can do.  I also get my nails done now.  Getting my nails done is not something I need.  But no matter how crappy I feel, I can look down at my hands and think “they look nice”.  I may look like Zombie Kate Hudson, but my nails look good.

Then there are other days.  Days when I don’t feel so weak and tired.  Days when the thought of doing my hair and makeup sound like a great idea. So, that’s what I do.  I blow dry and curl my hair.  I put on makeup.  I wear clothes that don’t have Muppets or comic book characters on them.  I feel normal.

I do this every single time I feel good, because I am so very aware of the fact that I might not feel up to it tomorrow.  And yep, I post some of those pictures to Facebook the second I take them. Why?  Because the next time I feel weak and tired and angry because I feel weak and tired, I can look at those pictures and remind myself that I will feel good again.

So why am I telling you this?  Besides the obvious “make you smarter” thing that we discussed earlier, it’s to ask a favor. Well, two favors, really.

One, if you’re suffering from a chronic illness, please remember that you are not alone…at all. There are people who may not fight the same medical battle, but we fight the same mental battles.  If you’re one of these people, and you do feel alone or overwhelmed, send me a message.  True empathy from someone who gets it can go an awfully long way in conquering that mental battle.  Also, if you have a chronic illness and you feel good today, brag a little about it.  If you take one of those dreaded selfies and you think you look good, post it to Facebook. I’ll “like” it and I won’t judge you or think you’re narcissistic.  I’ll know that the picture isn’t about wanting attention or being self-centered. I’ll know it’s about a tiny battle that, for today, you got to win.  Go on.  Do it.

Two, if you know someone who suffers from a chronic illness, take one second to compliment that person.  It doesn’t have to be appearance-related.  It just needs to be something to remind that person that he or she is not their disease.  It doesn’t even need to be a compliment.  Talk to us about something funny or interesting.  We need to feel like, even though how we interact with the world has changed, we’re still a part of it.

Thanks for reading. And if anyone actually does think I look like Kate Hudson, I will instantly proclaim you My Favorite Person.

Vanessa will always be one of my favorite people. Besides. She’s HOTTER than Kate Hudson.

Glitter and Sparkles,

Sara Rose

Bloghopper Madness and Methods.

Cristina and I met in that gangsta’s paradise of writers known as twitter during Reverb in its first year.  We traded barbed humor and quiet graces.  Fearless in our honesty with one another but also in the wonderland of blunders we make, we don’t tread lightly. I dig it.  I also like to call her and harass her in Spanish.  She makes me think, encourages wonder, and helps me embrace my honesty.  I am honored that she asked me to write for her.

http://streetlightsimagination.com/

cristina

What am I working on?

Well.  When I’m not yelling, “I HAVE A MIGRAINE, SO BE QUIET, EVERYTHING!”… I work on thinking.  Reading, jotting, thinking, then writing.  Writing used to come to me like veritable word vomit and I blogged, journaled, and wrote on manuscripts or freelance pieces nearly 24/7.  I would say that moving from my old blog to this website has slowed me but not in a bad way.  I think far more before I speak, or write, l vice versa. Possibly too much?  Let’s think about this.

Ok so, I’ve been reading more because of the things I am writing or want to work on.  I’ve been working on a lot of opinion pieces that relate back to specific issues that are incredibly important to me- women’s rights, glbt discussion, those with disabilities or special needs (especially as we traverse my son’s journey with autism), native rights, parenting hot button topics, and a massive amount of other things.  This is why I read.  I read about our culture, I find the missives I’m passionate about, and try to make sure I’ve read each side of it.  My opinions may not be earth shattering but they are mine and I try to be fearless in being the voice a lot of women want to hear but aren’t.

I’m also working on a variety of essays for different submissions.  Some are about time, power, or even fiction pieces.  I don’t write a lot of fiction so that’s been both new for me and hard for me to write about.  I am also writing a memoir that is a series of vignettes.  I work hard to keep it from my childhood perspective and revisit because I felt like there was a real voice missing when it came to the idea of “Lets have a gal write another memoir about having a drunk dad”.  It’s not necessarily entirely about that but about a young girl who came into her own power early on by being unafraid of what she actually was/is.

I write a lot about hard choices and that these are beautiful moments, if you let them be that.  I think my own decisions in the last 5 years have been hard to embrace at times but I wouldn’t change them.  Just walk your walk and know that your choices are important.  I know that what I write will help someone some day and I find a lot of beauty in hard truths.  Thus. I embrace them and I write them.  My writing may be all over the board but it is who I am.  People don’t always ‘get’ me for the fact that I am willing to be both hard and soft, but I don’t mind.  It’s not my goal to be everyone’s favorite.  I just want to write.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I look for little truths because what we often do, each of us doesn’t change the whole world. It changes our corner of the world.  Little moments are what build into larger thoughts that deserve being written about.  But some very clear ways in which my writing differs are somewhat humorous to other writers, like my husband (for example).  I can TELL a story with tons of dialogue.  I can never write a story that’s heavy with the talk, nor a piece that requires massive amounts of SAYING.  I’m trying very hard to learn to show and not tell with my words.

I’m not afraid to be brutal or controversial but I do think carefully about my readers.  I want, at the very least, for my readers to come away thinking about things differently than they might have.  I also hope to inspire people to step out of their comfort zones.  There has been no comfort zone for me for over a decade.  But I have learned more, written more, and made beautiful memories because of that.  Life is never easy, but it keeps my eyes open.  I feel terribly for those who sleepwalk through life and hope that by being so open, I can snap some eyes, you know?

It’s really important to me to spend time researching every facet of what I want to say before I state it.  Words are powerful creatures, they leave your mouth or your mind and they aren’t really yours anymore.  You may have shaped the thought but it has its own power once it goes out into the world.  Writing is much like raising your kids, you have to think about where you are totally honest and where you need to tell a story or if these things can merge for something more powerful.

I’m not really content to be classified into one genre.  Not just a lifestyle blogger but I try talk about life’s intricacies, instead of how I made candles out of recycled sheep udders and shampoo bottles or whatever.  I do write about my kids and our life yes, because we are shaping it in a way that I hadn’t imagined doing so- that’s just so wild to me.  But I also care about so many millions of other areas, ideas, opinions, that I cannot ever say I want to write about just one thing.  Right now, yes I submit a lot of freelance work, a lot of essays, I work on this website, my book of vignettes, and a children’s storybook… but I also dream of writing long Salon pieces, interviews, a cookbook, books of letters, and so many other things.

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Why do I write/create what I do?

I don’t have any choice.  To be frank, for my sanity, if I were not writing, I would be clinically insane and in a mad house.  I already work in that area and it’s just not pretty if you aren’t doing what you are meant to be doing.  When I was halfway done with being pregnant with the Owen-boy-child, Nolan sat me down during a day of existential hormonal drama and said “You are supposed to write.  I am supposed to support this family.  We both have big things that are meant to happen but none of your great things will if you aren’t putting pen to paper every, single day.”  I was a casual writer before that but in a way, he gave me the permission I had not given myself.  I do not always write on the computer, every single day, but I need to get back into that habit.  I do write in a notebook, on scraps of paper, in note apps on my tablet, or on the computer in some variety daily.  You should see my desk.  It’s ‘an organized blizzard’.

I also think it’s important to read every, single day.  I am so proud to have cultivated this in the kids.  Even when Owen went through this weird phase with his autism and stimming where he hated the feeling of books, he liked looking at them and being read to.  This is important because we do spend too much time in front of monitors.  We spend too much time indoors, and not enough time exploring our own minds or thoughts.  There is a minimum of an hour of dedicated reading in this house.  I have no earthly idea where we find time.

How does your writing/creating process work?

I read something. Or I hear another thing.  Or a thought flits across my mind and I write it down.  I mull any of these things over, collecting and writing more thoughts.  Research it.  Read obsessively and talk my husbands ear off.  Once in awhile, I do a draft.  A lot of times, I write out what I want, have Nolan do a quick edit, see if anything bugs me, and hit publish or send it off.  I’m terrible.  All the stuff about revisions and edits, I always feel like I dilute and weaken what I want to say whenever I ‘do it’. So I don’t very often.

I am tagging three very unusual authors and I hope you take some time to read them!!!!  Each has a powerful story and message that I want to share with the world.  Enjoy-

Meet Rae- http://www.initfortheparking.com

Rae

“In It For The Parking” summarizes my attitude towards my disabilities. I always joke and say that I’m just in it for the parking – or in it for the perks (like riding the carts at the airport!).

Remembering that I am not defined by my illnesses and recognizing the benefits (whether hidden blessings or not) of my situation are two of the ways I cope with the changes in my life and the frustrations of being chronically ill.

This blog is all about living well, finding your happiness, maintaining positive relationships, and caring for ourselves and our caregivers.

Meet Jami- https://ahahahahstayingalive.wordpress.com

jami

AhAhAhAhStayingAlive is an autobiographical blog I have created to etch a way for my voice as a multifaceted woman. I am a wife, a mother of a one year old, a cancer patient, and so much more. I intend to keep the content playful and cheeky, but sometimes it is full of true grit, because that’s life. I am the laughing phoenix throughout this ordeal because I have already been to hell and back in this lifetime, what’s one more look through those purgatory doors?

Meet Angie- amaranthine29.wordpress.com

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Whole food rocks; stop the clocks! If you are sick & tired of suffering from symptoms such as fatigue, weight gain, depression/anxiety, and other maladies, head on over to my nutrition & wellness blog to learn about how to take back control and begin your journey to better health!