Monday, November 24, 2014

Miss Melanoma

Dear All,
It has been a long time, huh?  Even if I had a week to write to all of the changes that have happened in my life, I don't think I'd have the time to explain it all to you.  It's kind of incredible how things can flip just like that over a couple of years --- and very little can remain the same it was---- but life goes on and I can assure you that it is good.  Crazy, insane, busy, turbid, disordered, happy and unexpected, but wow, yeah- good.

There is a part of me that wants to share all of it with you- all the gritty details, all the fun and all the excitement and all of wonderful, truly unbelievable things that have happened to me. But, there is the other side of me that thinks this blog has it's own purpose and it is serving that purpose as it is.  I don't even know if my new life needs to be a part of all this that I've written.  I know that melanoma survivors come here to read about someone's journey through the chaos that is being a cancer survivor- and I think this blog perhaps needs to maintain that and be just that.  In 2005, I never would've thought that nine years later I'd be writing this, but Miss Melanoma is now Mrs. Melanoma Survivor, and she's on totally new adventures.  But this blog is here to stay.

If you'd like to read my new journeys, you can find them on soon.  I truly wish you nothing but love and wonder in all you encounter.  Carpe diem!

-Mrs. Melanoma Survivor

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Whole Lotta Love

My friend, Joy, says that when I'm stressed I look at funny animal pictures.  So.... here they are! hahaha

And a couple of my own babies.....

Monday, May 06, 2013

Dazed and Confused

Wow, it's been quite a while since I posted.  I look back at posts from a year ago or even just a few months,  and my life is vastly different from what it was.  Looking at me from the outside, you would probably not realize it, but on the inside I feel like my whole life has transformed.

The school year is wrapping up, and although it's been a tough year, I must say that the old adage about "whatever is good to know is difficult to learn" has completely proven itself true.  I've had to come to terms with a few people that I had a hard time working with, and boy, that was way more challenging that I thought it could be.  I have always felt like I'm the kind of person that can get along with anyone, but this year pushed me in that area, and out of my comfort zone in many, many other ways.  I had no idea how this year would turn out, and after a good deal of negative feedback, I have gotten a real grasp of knowing who I am as a teacher, where my strengths lie, and what I am motivated by.  Let me just tell you right now, I am not motivated by micromanagement.  Big surprise, right? Last year, I was teacher of the year for my elementary school.  But several leadership changes later, I don't feel like I am perceived as the same teacher that previous leadership believed me to be.  The high-stakes testing seems to be getting crazier as well, and I feel like, as I have heard so many other teachers say, that I have, under such unrelenting pressure,  been forced to become part of the problem instead of the solution.  It's a strange place to be: I love my job, and I love working with kids, but with so little freedom to teach and the constant restrictions I'm being placed under, I often feel like a terrible teacher who is giving her students a less-than-stellar education.  So instead of staying and feeling like a failure, I have decided to pursue other avenues where I think I will be much happier.   My dream is to find a school where teachers are given the freedom to teach children how to thinkinstead of teaching rote memorization of facts that they have no idea how to apply to their learning.  It is amazing how much has changed just in the seven years that I have been a teacher, and I've always felt like I could work the system enough to satisfy both the standardized test requirements and teach using critical and creative thinking, but lately, with the restrictions we have all been placed under, I just haven't felt that was possible.  So I'm moving on, and hopefully moving up.

As far as my cancer survivor status goes, I am still blessed to be considered NED.  With my own research and a lot of help from some open minded doctors, I feel like I've found a maintenance therapy that I am pleased with and that may even be helping me to keep melanoma at bay.  In September, it will be seven years since I finished Interferon, and although I'm still not 100% of what I was physically, I feel like I am better every year.  I even have a new friend that has been helping me to overcome the chronic fatigue symptoms I have experienced for the past years, and I am happy to say that I am able to get a good cardio workout in 5 days a week now.  That was practically impossible before this year, except during the summer time, when I had the rest of the day to rest and recover.  It's also good, because after my back injury last year, I was told this year that I need to lose 30 pounds in the next six months.  That should sound totally feasible, except living in a post menopausal body makes things substantially more difficult.  I know it's not impossible, but I also know that I I haven't lost a pound in the last 3 years. lol  Oh well, more to learn I guess.

My cancer support group, which numbered 10 in the first year, has dwindled to 6, and one has moved away, so we now are at 5.  One of our own has had a recurrence recently, and is struggling to stay mobile.  Her pain is being managed, but as always, it is tough to see a friend going through such a draining and painful disease.  We are doing our best to keep her from feeling isolated, which I'm sure she feels, barely able to leave her house.  Your positive thoughts and prayers are needed.  Please send them her way.

As far as my own very personal personal-life, I am great.  I am living what seems to be dream, and I can't believe the position I am in.  Things seem to be falling into place, and I feel very blessed every day.  Don't get me wrong-- in the last year there have been people who I loved and needed, and those people basically told me I wasn't worth the effort.  Those things hurt, and I still cry from time to time.  Because that is how grief works, and I've learned that over the years.  But in the open spaces life left behind, I have found so many new and wonderful things.  Amazing things, and amazing people.  Big things are happening, big changes are in place.  There will even be a move coming soon, and I'll be (at least temporarily) leaving my wonderful Deep Ellum neighborhood for a while.  Exciting stuff!

Hope you all are wonderful, too!


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Walking through the Spider Webs

Some times I come here and have so much to say, but stop myself because what if it offends this person or that person, or what if people don't agree or whatever. And then I thought, do those people even read this blog?  Probably not. lol And today I'm in one of those writing moods, and feeling honest, and feeling like clearing out the cobwebs in my head.

I've written about this before, so some of you may know already about my past.  But my whole life, even from the time I was a little kid, it was really clear to me that the way that I could be loved and accepted would be to make sure that I needed as little attention as possible.  Be independent.  Don't require the attention or affection of anyone. Make your own food, and stay out of the way.  Lots of kids of alcoholics have this trait.... it's actually called co-dependence, because you learn that you cannot be happy unless the person you count on can be made happy.  So you do everything you can to make sure the people around you are happy, because that's how you get to be happy.  Completely disfunctional, of course, but it happens.
Doing that, I surrounded myself with a lot of selfish people far into my adulthood- people that I loved to make happy so that I could be happy. I threw parties for big events of friends, expecting that they would do the same for me.  I allowed boyfriends to put their careers before me, assuming if I ever asked to be a priority, then I would be.  I allowed people to put me last on their list, thinking that even if they only had a little time for me, I was lucky to get that.

And for a long, long time, that actually kind of worked.  I knew I wasn't happy, but I was a people pleaser.  Pleasing my dad, pleasing my teachers, pleasing my ex's, pleasing my friends.  Please don't get me wrong- I wasn't a great person or anything.  In fact, I was so hollow and empty, I was a bitter mess, angry that I couldn't suck my happiness from others.  Angry that I never got the parties, and that I wasn't a priority even when I asked my boyfriend.  Angry that I would wait for friends to come by on the holidays, but they never made it by.  Angry that I had no love for myself.  No life for myself.

I learned a lot from the women around me early in my adulthood, especially the women at the rec center where I worked.  I saw from them how to stand up for yourself, how to give tough love to kids to push them to their full potential, how to love yourself first.  And the kids I worked with there- I learned that it was okay to give so much of myself to them. And in that, I found my passion.  And my career.

But do you know what pushed me the last little bit to say, "no more?" To end those last few relationships that   didn't serve me, didn't grow me, and brought so little joy?   My back injury.  It was the first week, after laying in my bed, in my room, thinking, in the silence..... just evaluating my life.  What had I done? "I could be dead right now.  My doctor gave me 5 years, and here I am, 8 years later, and what am I doing?  Living my dream?  Or living dissatisfied? Living with people that put me first the way I put them first, or being second to other's whims? Fulfilled, or drained? Happy, or just content?  Satisfied, or just status quo?"

And that was it.  To be honest, I was surprised when I said my needs at the ones who who stood by me and who didn't.  And of course, I made huge mistakes in trying to find my own life, but I will not say that have I regrets.  When I look myself in the mirror now, I know I am taking care of myself.  Asking for what I want.  And walking away when it no longer brings me happiness, peace, love or joy.  Do I miss the people that were once in my life?  Of course.  I cry when I look at pictures.  I am sad when I think about the fun times.  I'm distraught that they picked so many things to put in front of me, or were so absorbed in themselves, when I really believed that I was important to them.  And I'm sure I didn't handle it all so gracefully as I sound now.   But there is emptiness when this happens..... emptiness that is filled with possibilities. And of course there is still a huge part of me that doubts that I deserve to have parties like the ones I threw for other people, and I feel shameful for thinking I deserve more attention than my boyfriend's favorite hobby.  And I feel guilty for wanting old pals to set aside alone time just for me.

But I guess the real question is: did I ever do that much for them, anyway?  Obviously not.... obviously I was not fulfilling them, or they never would've let me walk away.  And was I really being fulfilled by them, anyway?  No.  So many times, these things just naturally work themselves out.... we drift away from each other, and we fight and cry because it's over, but when it's over, if you both won't fight for your relationship, then one of you is not going to be able to carry the both of you through it.  And in another way, I'm happy that I do not allow myself to be the victim anymore.  This is my life, and if I want happiness, I have to make changes, do what I need, and, even with tears still in my eyes at times, move forward.  Because people's actions speak so much louder than words, and I want my actions to say that I love myself.  And I hope that your actions to say the same. :)


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Mirror has Two Faces (hehe)

This may be the longest break I have ever taken from writing on this blog, and that's totally my bad.  I could give you the usual run-around about checking out of my life, but you're probably here reading this to hear how I'm doing now.  So here goes.

Lately I've been looking in the mirror and feeling really different about what I see.  I feel like a different woman inside than I did a year ago.  I feel lighter, and taller, stronger, brighter and happier, and I feel like I look different, too.

I feel like for the first time maybe, I took a huge risk and it was totally the right thing to do.  I feel successful, and lucky, and really free.  I think that's the word that expresses it the best: free.  Like anything is possible, and I might even get what I go after.  It's crazy, really.... I feel incredibly blessed.

And that's led to a little more confidence about making other decisions.  I'm at a place in my life that I honestly never thought I'd get to, but I'm very happy being here.  And I'm starting to see what's important to me, and what's not- and what I'm worth.  It's totally different than I thought it would be. It's more comfortable than I imagined it could be. And I don't feel like a bundle of raw nerves anymore.  I feel free to try things and free to fail, and free to relax and be myself. I think it's because I'm being seen for the first time. It's amazing to be appreciated for my presence.  I'm so thankful for that experience.

I know all that if vague, but it's the truth.  And I'll try nail it down a little better next time.  Until then, I hope you're feeling as free as I am.


Sunday, October 14, 2012

Like Whoa

It has been a crazy couple of months, and it's strange to look back at this blog and see that my last post at the beginning of August and the disarray my life appeared to be then.

And here we are in October. School is in full swing and is as crazy as ever. There have been a lot of management changes in my district and we have all been affected.  Teachers more than anyone, but everyone is on edge and it seems like people who you never would've guessed are biting everyone's heads off.  Luckily, there is a small group of us that are still friends and close, and I really believe that we are all getting through this only because we have each other.

But it's only 29 more weeks, right?

To add insult to injury, I've recently been accused of something at work (that was later found to be a lie), and I was quite shaken by that.  The whole incident made me realize what a huge part of my life my job and my students are, and I have a new found appreciation for work.  Even though this year is a complete beat-down. lol

As for me..... wow, I don't know where to begin.  Every second I have to myself seems like a treasure- I love having my own life and my own time.  I no longer feel lonely when I am stuck at home alone.  In fact, it's more welcome than ever, even when I was unhappy and my alone time was a solace to me.  My personal life is a bit strange.  I know now how married to my job I am, and it's as big a struggle as it has always been.  But things are certainly different this year.  Better.  Like way better.  Even though I feel like I'm watching something (my school) be dissected and sewn randomly back together, and am stressed beyond belief about that, I've somehow managed to leave it at school so far.  Most of the time.  Ok, some of the time.

My personal life has taken a completely different turn.  I don't want to say too much about it, but let's just say that I've had an astonishing epiphany.  I'm happy.  I'm sure I will have my ups and downs as I've always had, but I starting to see my life for what it is, and it's pretty damn good.  I don't know really what else to say besides that, but I'm finally kinda living the life of my dreams.  That sounds so insane to say that.... just a few months ago I felt like I'd never find happiness.  I felt like I'd made the worst mistake of my life.  And now, here it is October- Halloween is coming, fall is upon us with it's coziness, and I have new reasons to wake up  happy every day.

Hope everything is wonderful with you.


Friday, August 03, 2012

Sacred, by Suzanne Falter Barns

You are divine.

Perhaps in the flow of your life you've forgotten this.

You are a sacred child ... one who makes mistakes, and then gets up again - although it seemed like a good idea at one point to stay curled up forever.

You are bliss incarnate.

Have you forgotten?

You are every single person you touch, inside and out.

You know their pain, their resistance, their upsets, their longings.

Yes, you really do know this.


And with this knowledge you can be of truest service to the world.

By holding yourself in the deepest embrace ...

By holding every single scrape you have endured, every tender place that has been bruised again and again.

Love every deep fold of your soul.

Particularly those places you have been afraid to even know.

Now is the time to drink in your essence

For that is where you will find your greatest love.

By Suzanne Falter Barns


I'm Too Young For This!