Friday, December 19, 2014

GRRR

You know when you are in one of "those" moods? A mood that is reactionary? One that a button got pushed, and you know if you say anything, you will likely say the wrong thing, and piss someone off? That's the mood I am in right now. Yeah, that one.

I am trying to figure out exactly what is bothering me about what happened. I kind of think I may know, but I am not entirely certain.

I have noticed how people often explain things they don't need to. But they obviously feel like they do. I think it can be, at times, a defense mechanism. I am going to say no, but I have to justify my no. I can't just leave it at no.

And people do this as a form of self-protection, perhaps, because if they don't do it, the person they're interacting with might just put them on the defense if they don't do it to themselves first. At least then, they're prepared.

I am not sure that is it, although it might be a part. Another part is the fact that there was an incorrect assumption made. So I got the benefit of a counterattack without even doing anything to "deserve" it. Even that, in and of itself, I don't think is that terrible. It is what was said. It was what the undercurrent of the message was about what I was doing. I think that is really what hit the nerve.

But the combination of the factors, well, that made it all that much more explosive for me. I am actually feeling quite pissed off at the moment.

GRRR.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Thinking Small Enough

Is there anyone that you want to help? Do you need help yourself? This blog post might be for you.

Even before I was diagnosed, I had the thought about how the smallest of things can matter. I had set up a blog called "Dollar Difference" with the thought in mind that how you "eat an elephant" one bite at a time. The idea was to post things that you could do that would make a difference for another that cost $1, or less.

Well. That blog hasn't been updated in a very long time. I am not even sure it ever really impacted anyone or anything.

I think we often have difficulty thinking small enough. We see a big hole and think there is absolutely any way one drop of anything is going to have any impact.

The fact is that one small drop can be added to another and another and another to the point that that hole could be overflowing. But instead of viewing what could come, we are either busy looking at that gaping hole or avoiding it.

Since being diagnosed with cancer the whole idea of $1 making a difference has taken on extra special significance. As I often express, if 500 people gave me $1, it would be almost insignificant to them, but it would be HUGE to me.

Now I am in a contest that depends on votes. The leader has about 1500 votes. Me? Almost 200. There is a pretty big gap. I have wondered if I should tell people about the gap, wondering if they might see it, and think, "What's the point?" and then not do anything.

As I think about this, I wonder if it would be a great way to show others how "1" could make a difference. If I can come from behind in a big way there might be something valuable that others could get from it. There is (perhaps you've noticed?) a double meaning with "1." There is the one as a quantity of contribution, and there is one that is that person that makes that contribution.

One person, you, can really make a difference for another. The key is you just have to want to. You have to quiet that inner voice that judges everything. You have to listen more to your heart than your head. Logic is a great saboteur.

If I listened to logic, I would never have even bothered with the contest. Quite frankly after how things went - really, didn't go - with it last year, logic talked me out of it before it ever began. It took a couple of other someones to have me say, "what the heck?" and then, perhaps, ironically, logically calculate that winning was not so out of reach that it didn't make sense to try.

If you want to help someone, but think you can't, my guess is...you are not thinking small enough.

Talking to Strangers, asking favors

Yesterday I went for a large dose of Vitamin C. I have been doing that twice a week for a while now. It is exhausting to do it, not because of the "treatment" itself, but what is involved in getting it.

Yesterday I also talked to a number of strangers about the blog contest. It was something I was really uncomfortable with. Ideally I would have walked up to anyone and everyone, and told them about it.

The problem was, I knew that wouldn't work out too well. There was explaining I needed to. Besides, if I didn't connect in some way, there was a better than average chance I would walk away and the piece of paper I would have given them would have been crumpled and thrown away (provided they found the nearest trash can).

Instead, I just had the thought in my head that I wanted to find those that I should speak to. I knew the numbers wouldn't be large, but hopefully the connections would be good ones - even if it was just for a moment, and even if they chose not to vote for me/my blog.

I wound up meeting a woman who had been diagnosed with breast cancer, a woman who is a nurse - whose mother died dealing with breast cancer, another woman with a friend who has been dealing with cancer, and has cancer in her family, another woman who is dealing with something left unrevealed whose name was mine. (As a result, she, sadly, is the only name that I remember of those I spoke with.)

I also met someone else, and the story around it is one of the most interesting of the day. I was at the train station, and could have gotten in line for my train, but instead after going to the restroom, I went to sit down. There were several people I could have sat next to, but there was one in particular that I wound up near.

We started to talk. She told me she was on the next train.

As we spoke, I shared a number of things that I share with people. I gave her my postcard. I gave her the ovarian symptom card I created. I also decided to ask her to vote for me for the blog contest.

I really enjoyed talking with her. It turned out that a sister of hers is in the midst of a cancer scare. It is likely she will be OK, but it obviously was something that weighed on her mind. As a matter of fact, she was sitting there thinking of her sister as I sat down.

She told me that she usually waits for her train somewhere else. But yesterday, she decided to do something different.

The fact was, I could have gotten in line, and we would never have spoken. Ironically, I came to find out that the line was for a different train. We were, in fact, supposed to be on the same train.

She seemed rather grateful to me and our conversation. I had said that I had wanted to help people who were dealing with cancer related issues, and had created a web page for that purpose, but that it didn't seem to catch the attention of anyone.

As we spoke though, she pointed out, and I realized, that I do do exactly what I set out to do on that webpage, I just do it differently. I do it all the time in the many conversations I have with people.

I got to thinking that maybe my extending myself as I do, and have, as uncomfortable as it has been on way too many occasions, is about other people much more than it is even about me. When I find the "right" people to be engaged with, the conversations can be amazing and sometimes even profound.

A part of me chimes in, "also exhausting."

I was really tired when I got home last night. But I did a few things, and posted about the contest before I went to sleep.

I am pushing so damn hard. The damn slipped in there from the part of me that is like, "can we just have a break, please?"

A person yesterday also tried to tell me to relax around money, and just take care of myself. Unfortunately, it is hard to sit back and do that. There is no relaxing when you don't have the money to pay for the things you need to pay for.

On some odd level, I will go with the pressure to keep going as a good thing. It is propelling me into situations that are incredible gifts. But now I really have to find a way to be able to do that without having to push myself so hard.

If you haven't voted today, or even ever, but would like to, please click here to go where you need to to vote. Anything you can do to support me in this venture would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you.


Blog Contest

A New Me Relating to cancer
A blog contest began just over two weeks ago, and is going to end in just under a month. It is a popularity contest. The winner is the one with the most votes.

Last year I entered the contest, but never got very far. This year I had no intentions to participate. But then something happened. Someone nominated me. I went on to Facebook to thank "that" person (don't know who it was), and when I did, Sandra Bearden got all excited about the idea of me winning, as the First Prize is $1000.

I thought that if she could be excited, and try to help, then I should at least do that for myself. I have been spending a lot of time and energy in creating awareness of the contest and asking for votes. I don't know how far I got last year, but at the moment I am in the Top 10 with approximately 186 votes.

I believe I could win this thing, even though the leader has approximately 1500 votes at the moment. I just need enthusiastic, supportive voters. I realize that it could be asking a lot, but I am asking.

Last year I wanted to win more for the idea that "word" was getting out on the things I talk about - which is about so much more than "just" cancer. To me it meant something that people were paying attention, and valued what I had to say. This year is most definitely more about the money. Even though that other facet is certainly still present.

This blog has almost 55K views at this point. There are times I am amazed. I never imagined what I would say here, much less imagining that number of views of the things that I have had to say. I am, however, grateful that at the very least, the number suggests whether I hear directly from people, or not, there is some reason people are choosing to show up.

The following is what I posted on a Facebook event page. You will need to have a Facebook and/or Twitter account to be able to vote for me.

Please take a look at it, and consider helping me out. One vote from you is one vote more than I have now. One networking group I belong to has over 5000 members. If each one would take the less than 30 seconds it takes to vote, I would be well in the lead.

Thank you for any effort you are willing to make on my behalf.

Lots of LOVE to you.

See original Facebook post here.

WHO: For Elizabeth Alraune and her blog "A New Me Relate to cancer"

WHAT: Blog contest First Prize $1000

WHEN: Dec 1-Jan 15, 2015

WHERE: http://www.healthline.com/health/best-health-blogs-contest (Search for BLOG TITLE "A New Me Relate to Cancer")

WHY: Because you like Elizabeth? Because she has been dealing with cancer for over 2 years and could really use the money? Because if it was you, you would want the help? Because it is in your heart to help? Because her blog is just that damn good? Because she has over 1,000 blog entries? Because you believe in her message? Because you wish you could help her financially, but can't, but giving someone else's money to her sounds like a great idea?

TO VOTE:
(It should take less than 30 seconds!)

Go to http://www.healthline.com/health/best-health-blogs-contest and find "A New Me Relate to cancer" by either Search Box, via alpha search (it will be around number 10) or scroll via popularity listings.

There will be a box that says "VOTE." When you click, you will be given the option to vote via both Facebook and Twitter. Once you vote via one platform, you will have the option to vote via the other platform.

Once you have voted, you will have to wait 24 hours to vote again. The system is so smart, that if you click it too soon, it will tell you how much time you have to wait vote next.

(If you have issues voting, please try a different device and/or browser. It seems Firefox may not be so cooperative with the site)

TO HELP ENHANCE ELIZABETH'S CHANCES OF WINNING:
Share this page with others, and/or let them know about the contest. PLEASE do not just share a link to the site. It will not tell them what you are hoping they will do. I wish there was an easier way for voting to take place, and to be able to find the blog, but there isn't. So please be sure to tell them to vote for "A New Me Relate to cancer."

Even better, tag others on your post, instead of just posting it. Many posts on Facebook are missed. Tagging will enhance the possibilities that people will at least see it.

Even better still, see what you can do to actively get people to vote. If you leave it up to them, we all know there is a good chance they will have the best of intentions, but then...well, forget. Or, well...you know...

I realize that it may be asking a lot of people to do this. There are so many things pulling at us each day. Which ones do we act on? Which ones do we care about? Which ones do we pay attention to? May I suggest that if you have gotten this far, and have been reading all of this, that might be reason enough to act? After all, time spent here might just mean that this means something to you in some way.

In just a few days there has been a bit of momentum. But it is not enough to win. If Elizabeth is going to win, she needs your help. Often Elizabeth tells people that even $1 will help. 500 people give $1, and it's $500. The same thing goes with voting. If 1000 people voted even once, that would be a 1000 votes. As of December 15, the leader has over 1200 votes. Elizabeth has less than 100.

This information is shared to give perspective, not to dissuade anyone from acting. It is DOABLE...IF people are willing to act.

Thank you so much for your time and effort, and for whatever you can do to make this happen. Unfortunately, Elizabeth is almost out of money, and it is looking like she is on the verge of chemo for the third time, starting some time in January. $1000 won't solve her problems (not by a long-shot) but it will at least help her for another month.

PS Want to learn more about Elizabeth, or want to help her out? The following links should help:
Relatetocancer.com (A New Me Blog)
GotStressGetRelief.com (YouTube Videos)
SometimesitSuckstobeHuman.com (Book)
GreatFoodEscape.com (Recipe Booklet)
Cedonaah.com (Artistic alter ego - prints, works of art, jewelry, cards, tiles and more also Facebook.com/Cedonaah)
Relatingtocancer.com/mp3s.html (hypnotic recordings)
Heartsgiving.com (easy way to donate, including tax-deductible option)
Facebook.com/JoLoPe (Personal Page)
Twitter.com/JoLope (@JoLoPe)

Thanks again!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

and...yes...I know Cindy Carter

This morning I was talking with someone about how things are. I was talking about how so many think ETSY is THE answer to my problems. Almost immediately when someone who likes my work, they ask if I am on Etsy. It has become something like when those who know Cindy Carter of the Cancer Support Foundation. The minute someone hears I am dealing with cancer, they ask me if I know Cindy. They figure Cindy can help. When I was going to networking meetings locally I even got in the habit of ending my introduction with, "and, yes, I know Cindy Carter."

Well.

I have spoken with Cindy, many times. Unfortunately, she can't really help me, other than to be a way for people to donate to me in a tax-deductible manner. As far as Etsy goes, it takes time and energy and management. For those I have said this to, they act like I am not doing all I can to help myself.

What many do not understand is just how involved something can be that looks relatively simple. What they also do not understand is just how little time and energy I have these days, and that every moment spent dealing with that stuff takes me away from doing other things that might be beneficial.

The person I spoke with earlier quite negatively was "kind" enough to point out that what I have been doing has pretty much netted a whole bunch of not a lot. He then said something about Einstein's (?) quote about doing the same things, and expecting a different result. I pointed out that that wasn't fair, nor accurate.

I have tried to do MANY different things. MANY. I am at no loss for ideas of things to do. The difficulty lies in getting them done. So many offer ideas. I really don't need ideas. I need HELP.

Several years ago someone wanted to help me. I told him what I needed. He turned around and started asking questions that had nothing to do with what I was asking for. Sadly, that was not helpful, given where I was.

While I recognize that things are not absolutes, and that one thing is not always a predictor of another, I have tried to put things on sites like Etsy before, and have gotten no where fast after spending a whole lot of time setting things up. If I really thought Etsy would help, I would spend the time. Maybe at some point I will feel differently, but right now I just don't think it is a valuable energy choice to make.

It is really hard when people make judgments of my choices, or worse, of me. There have been several statements made to me lately about how many things take energy, and how I have to spend energy to get results.

I have NEVER been someone to sit around and do nothing. I have zero problems with investing myself. My body of work, I would think, has to speak to that. They are no small investments of me or my energy. Where I have "problems" is when others think that that one thing that I am not doing, that they think will help, becomes more about a judgment about me than about any potential issues surrounding it. Many things are not as simple as they superficially seem. Many things are just not that cut and dry. Not all things are for all people.

As I write this, it occurs to me that this applies to more than just how I need to do what I can to help myself fiscally, but also when it comes to those things people think will help me physically.

When things like this morning happen, especially on top of other recent incidences of similar reactions, it makes me want to just shut up, smile and say thank you and just leave it alone. It is frustrating and annoying, because I not only have to contend with the things that come my way, but the reverberations of my reaction, or lack of, to them. It often becomes a double whammy.

Some might wonder why I even bother to explain. I have thought about that, and what I have come to is that it somehow, at least at times, feels important to try to give the perspective. Another piece is that if you don't do what a person offers than it seems like you don't appreciate their attempt to be helpful. It seems like you might be rude or like you could be ignoring them. I think there are times I explain just so they don't think that of me. There are times I think I explain because I don't want them to think I am lazy or am not trying to help myself.

I often feel like I am on the defensive. As I have said many times, I do not blame those who say nothing about themselves or their circumstances when dealing with cancer. It really seems at times that it would be much better to be silent. And if I could be, I would be. But is hard to say you need help and then appear to be ignoring suggestions made.

I know people are just trying to be helpful, and I am grateful that people care. But what I wish people realized more was just how much the way we often care is more about us and isn't really helpful to those who need the help.

Recently someone trying to be helpful sought out links to show me where I might be able to get help. It was after a frustrating conversation in which I explained a lot of what I have been dealing with. I tried to keep an open mind. Maybe something changed since the last time someone sent links, or I last looked. Unfortunately, it was pretty much the same stuff as always, and therefore, unhelpful.

You might think how ungrateful I must be to talk about it this way. The thing is, it is extraordinarily difficult to explain what something like that is. It often takes time and leads to a dead-end. Given how much need I have, it is difficult to essentially be sent on wild goose chases. No one does it intentionally, but it often takes something from me I don't always have.

I have to be really careful how I spend my time these days. There are some days I can barely make it out of bed. I realize that for most healthy people what I describe sounds "normal." I wish it was. It is more extraordinary than that. It is something that transcends most people's ability to understand. There are so many times I feel like I am making excuses for stuff, but they really are valid reasons and considerations that only seem like excuses because they don't fit what someone else thinks I should be able to do, or should be doing.

I sometimes think that as limited as my world has become, it is that way, in part, for a reason. It takes a lot of energy to explain something I really wish was not my reality.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

This Blog

I am wondering if this might be one of the hardest blog posts I have ever written. As I write that, I don't think it will be. But I wanted to say it, and get it out there, as I am present to the fact that I am feeling like it might be difficult to accurately discuss what I am about to. It definitely feels like a touchy subject.

The "funny" thing is I am wondering if I have written about it before. There are so many times, especially in the last couple of years, that I have seen something and forgot that I wrote it. But it is something very present for me lately, plus I know not everyone reads every blog post, so what the heck?

It is about this blog. By extension, it is also about any time I might show up as online.

Back in 2012, I knew I had to begin this blog. It felt really important. If you go back to the beginning, you will see I didn't write too much, or too regularly, at first. I really had no idea what I was going to have to say. Now over 1,000 blog entries later, I have had a lot to say. Apparently the level of importance I felt was telling me something, and I am glad I heeded that voice.

This blog is an important outlet to me. It is the place I go and can share about things openly and honestly. The blog doesn't judge me. It is a good, listening friend. I can talk "to" it any time of day or night, and I can be almost anywhere and bend its ear. It doesn't try to convince me of anything, and never tells me how I can better do something. It gives me a forum to try to figure things out. It listens, even when I am not so sure I am making any sense. It allows me my anger and my tears and it never turns away from me, or takes anything personally.

This blog is an important vehicle - not only for me. While many seem to have come here (stats now say over 54K views!) and say nothing, there have been those who have expressed gratitude for my attitude, and how I approach things. They are grateful for my openness and frankness, and some even relate to some of the things I have said - some of which have issues other than cancer that they are dealing with.

I have often said I write for myself, first and foremost, but I am appreciative of the fact that what I say seems to matter and impact others in the way that I have been told that it has.

Writing, as you might imagine (or not?), takes all kinds of energy. Energy is a precious commodity for me these days, and I have to choose how I spend it. If I choose to speak to someone instead of blog, I might get out what I want to get out, but it may never make it here. And it often feels important that things wind up here with a greater chance for more eyes and ears than it just be an exercise in me purging something to one set of eyes and ears.

As a result, there are things that aren't immediately attended to. Emails aren't responded to. Posts are missed. Things just don't get done. The place I am even writing at the moment is a HUGE mess. But the writing feels so important that I do it.

You may look online, and see me writing here, and posting what I have written, but I haven't still gotten back to you. Does it mean anything? It might mean I might not have seen it. It might mean I might have forgotten about it. It might mean I may have used up the energy I had. It might mean I am tired. It might mean I am feeling overwhelmed. It might mean I feel incapable with dealing with yet another thing. It might mean a combination of things. But it doesn't mean I don't think whatever it is that you said, did or wanted is not important, or appreciated, by me.

I cannot function the way people expect someone would. I wish I could. I just can't. You may think I am sitting over here not doing much of anything because of what I am dealing with - like an extended vacation. But that is the farthest thing from any possible truth. Even when I am not doing anything exactly, I am doing something to try to take care of myself.

Part of that taking care of myself is things like this blog. I realize that some may get jealous of her. She has access to me in ways that you may not. But I have to hope you understand that while I value you and our interactions, this blog is an important piece of my survival, and it is incredibly important to me. If you have love in your heart for me and/or want to support me, I hope you will understand and still love and support me. I also appreciate your patience and willingness to follow up with me, if there seems to be a need.

Thank you.

Living in the Moment

My mind seems to often be trying to figure things out. I am questioning everything. There are so many ideas and beliefs that, while seeming helpful at a glance, or first listen, seem like they could be contradictory. There are just so many ideas that people have about what is "right" or "best" or what is, on the other hand, what is so terrible.

I decided to sit down to write today. Sometimes I like to see what thoughts come out. I do not know what I think of some of the things. Am I writing what I want to hear, or am I writing that somehow resonates with something I know on some deep, inner level? More importantly, are these somethings RIGHT? My very existence in this lifetime in this body may depend on being right. At least that is what my mind believes.

After all, there comes a time that the body we are renting ceases to be. Sooner or later that seeming end arrives. There are many times that we believe that exit to be premature when a lifespan could theoretically be several decades.

Nothing like the issues of life and death to make one wax philosophical. From someone who isn't in a place like where I stand, there can be things said that sound "good," but make only a temporary imprint. There is nothing like being in a situation to create a real groove of a relationship and potential understanding with something seemingly abstract.

What if death "just" means we got what we came for, and it is time to move on?

When I talk like this, I wonder if there are people who are going to think I am going to die. As so many have told me, and like I have told so many that didn't beat me to it first, we are all going to die at some point. I don't know how anyone could know when death will show up with any certainty. There have been some who have made appointments with it, only to find themselves still among the living.

I wonder if there is a better word than "death" to use. The problem with the word, I think, isn't the word, but what it represents. For that reason, anything that would be used as a substitute would probably "suffer" the same fate.

There is such a range of beliefs. Do we go on? Did we come from somewhere else? Is there a "heaven" and a "hell" that isn't life itself? If you talk to someone who has been indoctrinated within a certain religion, you will get very definite answers to these questions, based on the beliefs within that system. If you speak with a a scientist, you may get very different answers because what they believe is based in a different system and structure.

For me the question becomes, Who is RIGHT? Of course, human beings defend what they believe, and give support as to why it is right. The "right" comes from the structure in which their beliefs live. We all have a structure in which our beliefs and more live, and it is our body.

Some will say that it is our mind's beliefs that live out through our body. Which might be another way of saying that the mind and body are one, and that the mind's beliefs become the beliefs of the body.

I have started to talk to someone who has a certain way of looking at things, and I am struggling with how she looks at things. I can't say something if there is a part of me that it doesn't resonate with. Well. I could. There was a time in my life I did, and to be fair, there were times it did seem to help. Somehow, though this feels different. Some of it feels like I would say, "The sun is purple." I "know" that I don't believe the sun is purple, so how can I say that it is with any conviction?

Some would say (and likely will say if I die dealing with cancer) that I sabotaged myself by not allowing myself to view things differently. They would shake their heads and mournfully regret that I could not/would not see things as they knew I should.

One of the things that gets me is that I do not believe there has ever been an absolute approach to something that works. If there was something so absolute and so perfect, there would be no issues n the world, would there? Of course, there would be those who would say there is some set way of doing things, some particular mathematical equation, to get there, and that those who didn't get there just never added things up the "right" way.

That just doesn't feel right to me. The thing is, short of just embracing where I am at the moment, I am not sure what does. If there is a God, is He standing above watching us have life experiences? Is He really standing there hoping that we pick the "right" ones? And which version of God do we work with? Different versions of Him seem to present different ideas of what would be the best way to be, and experiences and beliefs to have.

It is not my intention to stir up a a religious conversation, or even debate, by saying these things. I am not looking to be swayed or convinced of anything. At this point I don't even know if that would be possible. I am just wanting to share the types of things that are going through my mind.

I may never know if where I stood was "right." I can hope that when my time comes to leave this place and life that I will find out. I know some believe that it just all ends. Well. If it does, then it does, but I will have left a life at least knowing that I lived a life to the best of my ability, especially in the last several years of it. I will know that I spoke my mind, and lived from my heart.

To me, there has been no greater gift than to be able to do that, without an iota of regret.

For the record, I really don't want to go anywhere just yet. Being here at times is reallllly hard, though. How do I live in a world in which I never really fit, but now don't even care to try? Trying before only had me lose - and give up - pieces of myself in the process. Not fitting can be extraordinarily difficult. I have to admit there have been times I wonder if it could be time to go.

I don't think so, though. And the biggest argument for that is the fact that I am still kicking.

This is not exactly what I intended to write about as I sat down today. I was going to share something that came from my writing earlier. It is something that I will definitely be pondering as I go forward. Maybe it is something you will find of interest or in some way helpful to your journey.

You only have this moment. And this moment is the most powerful tool you have. Within the moment is life. There is no life any other time than in this moment. There is no love, except within this moment. No compassion. No empathy...There is nothing that is not within this moment. You must be present in the moment, not living for the future, not dying from the past, but fully present in the moment...How often do you seek refuge in a future, or wish for a past?