Wednesday, November 23, 2011


I have much to be thankful for......  Several months ago, I was in a fit of anger and my very dear friend was administering some much needed "Slap Therapy."  This is, in the spirit of my most favorite movie, also known as "SNAP OUT OF IT" Therapy......  I was annoyed and she insisted I must make a gratitude list.  I'm pretty sure I very lovingly told her to take the gratitude list and GFHerself or shove it or something along those lines.  I didn't want to be grateful.  I was quite happy being pissed off.....

I know this reads like I just love to bitch and moan.  I don't.  It's just that happy doesn't sell newspapers.  And generally, it's the negative things that elicit the biggest change.  Think about it.  If you are strolling along life and everything is just perfect, WHY would you want to change.  Why would you NEED to change.  If we are honest with ourselves, we all have good things and most of us have some degree of shitty stuff.

Sometimes, I am IN a shitstorm.  Sometimes, I AM The Shitstorm.  And they do seem to hit hard and one thing always seems to pile on top of the other. I've asked my therapist TWICE within the past thirty days to "Tell me if I'm being a drama queen because when I look at xyz events, I AM THE COMMON THREAD.  Am I attracting this shit so I can be in the center?"  I'm pretty open and honest in my writing but there are a couple of back stories that would not be appropriate for me to share for varying reasons.  I'm asking for trust when I say the shit that piles atop The Other Shit.... all pretty significant "Life Change Units."

And, WT (Wise Therapist) who is not a "How does that make you FEEL, AnneMarie" kinda guy has gone to great lengths to reassure me I am NOT a drama queen.  I love this guy.  He will make suggestions, he will validate my feelings, he will express an opinion or provide a different point of view and mostly he DOES answer my questions. He's very hands on.  I need hands on.  If I want to just spend an hour bitchin, I call my GFY girlfriend.  I bitch, she tells me make a gratitude list, I tell her to GFH, she joins The Bitch Session and mostly, it seems to always conclude with a bottle of vodka.

I've made some very big changes in my life in the past four months.  Four months.  And it seems like an eternity.  And every personal change has brought me enormous growth and a kind of Fill The Soul feeling.  I began this as a skeptic. Somewhat jaded. And, I am The Cliche.  I got on the wave and let it take me to places I couldn't possibly dream of six or seven months ago.  Talk about life turning on a dime....  Warp speed.... Great changes.

And then, there are plenty of aspects of my life that I wouldn't change for anything.

I have much to be thankful for.... I have a great family.  If I took the time to go through each person I would undoubtedly forget someone.  I will steer clear of the list......  with the exception of Mom who brought me into this world and my two kids since I brought them into the world.....  They rock my world.  And so does everyone else in my immediate and my very large extended family.  I know I am never alone.  I can FEEL the love and support.

I am mostly healthy with the exception of a few minor inconveniences (including a test for which I have NO results).  I have a small group of wonderful friends.  I have a comfy home, food on the table, a car to get myself around-I am thankful for my husband who continues to provide financial support even as we sort out our own version of Anew Direction...... I AM fortunate. For these and for so many more "things" and "situations" (NOT Jersey Shore-ish either although going out is another thing that is on the Happy Side of the list even if I am aging backwards and find myself in collegiate "situations."),  I am grateful.

Randomly, for nothing "practical" or necessarily "tangible" but just because..... this makes me FEEL the gratitude:

  • My new blogger friend Rachel who is spending her holiday in Florida.  I was so thrilled to read this, it was my first "feel good" story of this holiday season.  I **think** I commented on the post that her vacation was going at the top of my gratitude list.  
  • My very dear friend's son who finished law school and almost immediately upon graduating had a "germ cell cancer" explode in his chest.  He just got a three month, post treatment NED, AND, I just found out, took the Bar Exam and passed! This is so special to me.  I've know this "kid" since he was three years old. He is my official holiday miracle story.
  • The Visible Ink program at Sloan Kettering which is why I began blogging.  And MOST especially, Anna Kotopoulos, my mentor.  SHE is the reason I stayed motivated and this blog has been the spark that ignited every single change in my life that has followed.  Going into If/Then Logic which is always dangerous with my brain, but IF the blog was the spark and the blog is because of Anna's selflessness in volunteering her time, THEN Anna changed my life since she helped move me along.  Yes, ANNA.... You DID change my life.  Eternal gratitude for helping me embark on a life changing journey.
  • Which immediate leads to Lorraine Aguilar, my yoga instructor.  I am SO fortunate we made an instant connection.  She has steadily guided me through some tumultuous times over the past year.  Our weekly sessions are consistently "The Best Hour of My Week" and the reason I have been able to stay centered. Yoga quiets my mind which in turn allows me to Pay Attention to that which is important.
  • The bloggers and the tweeters who have embraced me and my writing even as I am still very much the new kid on the block.  I want to thank Marie Ennis for including this blog in a "Friday Round-Up" which I am certain sent many people here.  I want to publicly let Marie know I am thinking of her during what is a very rough time for her.  I still consider myself The Dim Twit and my writing pales in comparison to the accomplished folks on the blogroll (and again, that list is an ever evolving thing...... omissions are many and I hope to do a heavy cleaning on the blog-if my brain lets me..... ).  When I see a private tweet from someone in SOUTH AFRICA sending me good thoughts because I had a bit of a bad day..... they haven't invented the words to describe what that means.... a random 140 character note from a "stranger" ..... whose kind words soothed me in a bad moment.  There is no more powerful act than a "random act of kindness."  I love this quote: "To the world you might be one person, but to one person you might just be the world."    
  • My very first online support group, my friends who have held me up for close to TEN years and we still "talk" frequently.  Alphabetically, Barb(C), Barb(S), CARMEN (in caps since this blog was HER idea to begin with), Cindy, Deb, Robin & Wendy.  Mostly, we never met or even spoke on the phone.  These women are the "realest friends" I have.  They can all take credit for the fact that I can sit and put words on a computer screen as if I'm conversing.  I've had tons of practice.  They saw me through cancer. They saw me through the death of my dad.  We've become "cyber aunts" when someone became a grandma. We celebrated marriages and graduations-we laugh together, we cry together, we beat the shit out of people on behalf of each other (we don't ever beat the shit out of each other), although we can count on sound and truthful feedback in any, every and ALL situations. THEY are special in ways that are indescribable.
  • My involvement in the Army of Women and how I am compelled to move toward some sort of an advocate/activist role in the Breast Cancer 2020 Deadline.  Doing nothing is not an option and I am thankful there are people who have stepped up to change the conversation.  I want better for my daughter, for my nieces, for the entire next generation.  I've come to dislike the words "family history" and it upsets me to hear twenty-somethings whom I love dearly ask about BRCA mutations or mention removing ovaries to reduce breast cancer risk.  The status quo=UNacceptable.  Treatment advances from the cheap seats where I sit=negligible.  Progress?  Not so much when I look at what went on in 1987 with mom and what went on with me since this began.
  • Everyone who took time to comment on this blog but most especially, those very first comments.  And a comment from a woman in England who felt "vindicated" when she realized she wasn't alone having dealt with "chemobrain" since 2002.  There are many of us "In The Fog" and I believe many more who must hide or cover up their limitations because jobs/careers are on the line.  So, for every single person who feels they are no longer alone because of my silliness......  I am thankful if this silliness has helped in any teeny tiny manner.
I am hesitant to post this because there are many more noteworthy things that I am failing to mention.  I am SURE more is missing than is mentioned.  That's the problem with talking about specifics and this stuff is somewhat specific.

I suppose I should express TONS of gratitude to anyone whom I may have pissed off by failing to include a mention. Since my brain engages and then disengages at will.......  I am thankful for the forgiveness of those I've pissed off intentionally (my kids in prior posts) and unintentionally, anyone who is staring at the screen saying, "Wow, she's some ingrate for not saying blahblah."  If you just forgave me, I am thankful!

Mostly, I'm grateful for YOU.  Anyone who is staring at this screen.  Everyone who ever stared at this screen...... Yep, I AM grateful.


  1. AM- Happiest Thanksgiving. Thanks to you for embracing me and my blog!
    Hope you enjoy a great weekend of friends, family, and a happy heart!

  2. And thank YOU, Kel, for embracing me, too. I wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving!!

    Sending love your way,

  3. Happy Thanksgiving to AM, the bloggiest friend I know! You amaze me with your consistent writing of nail-on-the-head topics that are always relevant.

    I was so happy to read your back-story re: the Visible Ink writing program through Sloane-K. That is awesome.

    Oh, and you are reminding me that I must get back to YOGA! (After my next surgery.) Thanks for all the insights.

    Write on!

  4. Well, you certainly covered a lot of ground here! I'm so glad our paths crossed in this crazy on-line cancer world. It is pretty wonderful to know there are so many out there who get it, all of it. Thanks for jumping into bloggo-land with the rest of us. And good luck with those test results, now you have me worried a bit... Enjoy your holiday.

  5. Renn..... Nancy......
    Thank you so much for always encouraging me to write on!!!

    I am thankful I began this blog and it IS the catalyst that changed everything. Because of this, I've met so many people. I've gained a confidence that I was lacking for so many years. It's very easy and relaxed when surrounded by people who do "get it." It cuts through the need to size things up before deciding what is appropriate to share.

    The test has me a bit unnerved but, "It Is What It Is" and be on the lookout... I have a sweatshirt with that across the front.... That just may be the fodder for one of my days in waiting. I'm pretty sure there will be no results til the latter part of next week.....

    Out of my control..... So today, I live filled with gratitude for the support of SO many....


  6. I am so Thankful for you, and for your life. I'm thankful that I've had the honor to meet you after only speaking with you for such a short time and for you being the kindest, most upbeat woman I've ever met. You gave me hope. As I've told you, your more special to me than I can express, since I've never met another woman with Breast Cancer (who has survived) I hold that so dear to my heart. Your strength, and optimism and unbelievable knowledge is something I want to emulate in my own life one day (and remarkable sense of humor !! ) and I will now that I have friends like you in my life. Your the Best :) Debbie

  7. Debbie,
    That was SO special!! And it was my birthday.... AND, I wanted to spend the day doing things that were important to ME.... Winding up in Mahwah only to find out you were right there..... that was the icing on the cake!! I got to do everything AND MORE! Volunteering at the event was special. Meeting you, both of us stepping out of the computer screens? Can't find words for that!!!
    Buckets of love,

  8. AM I think I must have missed this post because I was in Florida! How embarrassing that I didn't leave a comment when I was at the top of your gratitude list. Well I'm hear now! Thank you dearest. It's been lovely getting to know you as well. And by the way the energy you put into this blog is absolutely contagious! Keep writing! Xxxxx


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