Tuesday, January 27, 2015

There are times...

There are times I really get excited about my artwork. There are times I fall in love with my stuff, too. It is, in some ways, kind of funny when I do. Lately, though, I am finding that because I am creating so much it is easier for me to let go of things than I would have thought it might be. There are many pieces of work I would quite willingly part with, if someone would like to have it. That is probably a good thing, as I need donations to survive right now, and it hasn't been easy.

The image (which is really the same image several times in different colors) I have posted was just completed today. Many of my newer works don't often work with different color permutations. If it is red, then it must be RED. But this newest image seems quite happy to be different colors. And I am in love, and can share, as I can make the image into any number of things: a light switch plate, a tile to hang, coasters, a print, a canvas, a candle holder, and probably other things I can't think of at the moment. I really should get a list together somewhere of the types of things I have created/can create just for moments like this.

I am excited. But I am also building up quite an array of things that I don't know what to do with, if they don't find other homes. I have wanted to do "home parties" to show my work, and to speak to it, and life, but haven't had what I need energy-wise to pursue it. Now that I am back on chemo I should probably be a bit careful what I do, as some doctors say you shouldn't be out and about much when you are a-chemo-ing.

That leaves me with the Internet, and that isn't the most effective. On top of that, many of my works look so much better in person than pictures can relay. I would love to show off a bit. 

Hopefully things will find a way to work out. It just would help my peace of mind if I had a piece of what that would be now.

I have been thinking about what I plan to do writing-wise the next few months, and have started to write off-line again, and am thinking that I might just keep going there. I may pop my head out every now and again, just like I am doing at this moment. But I am not really sure. My first book isn't exactly going gangbusters, although it isn't exactly a "book," yet, either, as I couldn't afford to get it to that point. 

Although, for those who have taken the plunge and read it, they have told me that they really enjoyed it. Some may wonder how one could "enjoy" a book about cancer. Well. For starters, it isn't really a book about cancer. It is about LIFE and it is about LIVING and it is about me, and my experiences and perspectives. And, yes, cancer is included. How could it not be?

What the book needs, just like what my art needs, is to be marketed. The problem lies in the fact that I am not a "normal" person right now. Never really have been normal, really, but that's a tale for a different day. :P I am someone who is dealing with cancer, and someone who could really use compassion.

I was explaining to someone last night that if we took my stuff as "products" there would be a sales pitch, and a person would buy them because they felt they wanted or needed them. In many ways, that is the way of the world. A person doesn't do something that doesn't in some way suit them. 

What I need, though, is for the "product" to be secondary. I need the compassion first. "I want to help this person, and doesn't this thing look like an interesting thing to trade my help for?" Many people, despite my offers to "trade" with them, don't even let me. I would be more than happy to, but am grateful when they just do what they do. It does make things a heck of a lot easier and less stressful on me. At the same time, I would be happy to do it, really, if a person extended themselves on my behalf. I like being able to "trade."

The person I was speaking with said he never gave to someone he did not know. I told him that people I DO know have not given me anything during this time. I said I am screwed without the compassion part. A number of strangers have stepped up and helped, and I can't thank them enough. I also told him that I have given more with a lot less since dealing with cancer. It has certainly been a perspective eye-opener.

Some think my situation should be taken care of by the government, or those I know. Sadly, that isn't the case in either case. Also as sad is that you don't realize how things will be in a case like mine until you are in the midst of it. I remember reading an article early on about dealing with cancer. The writer pretty much said some strangers may surprise you, and some that you know may, too. The strangers in a "good" way, those you know in a not so "good way."

I hadn't really intended to write all of this, but it came out, so there you go.

If the idea that I have written a book sparks an interest at all, you can see more at SometimesitSuckstobeHuman.com. You can read the intro for free, and the PDF is only a $5 "trade." I bet you, like others, would be quite surprised about its content. While the book may be about me and my perspectives, it really is about the human experience - which is quite relatable.

I will also ask that if you have yet to see Patreon.com/Jolope, that you please check it out. I share a lot of myself and my work, and much of it is free. However it would be really great if I could get some financial support behind it. If you like my work, you can become a patron for as little as $1 per month, and you can cancel at any time. I am considering perhaps sharing what could be my next book behind the scenes there, and/or some other stuff...haven't been able to flesh it all out just yet. The more support I can get, though, the more I can probably do because I won't be worrying about how I am going to survive as much.

Thanks for coming by. Stay safe and warm.
Lots of love,

Sunday, January 25, 2015

When "Helpful" Is Not

People are always trying to be helpful. In our desire to be helpful, I am not sure we always understand how what we are saying affects another.

At one point, in his quest to keep me alive longer, my doctor told me how miserable it is to die dealing with ovarian cancer. I imagine any cancer is miserable.

It, however, was one of his major defenses for the chemo argument. What he did not realize was the impact of that statement. Short of a miracle/new - as yet unknown cure - that is what the docs think will happen to me.

Other times people try to tell me how bad certain things are for me - particularly food. I could drive myself crazy worrying about those things, and in some cases not eat at all, or wind up eating that thing that my mind now says is terrible for me.

It is not a particularly empowering choice, you know?

It is not like I have an income and freedom to always eat the way I want to. Sometimes to eat, I eat food someone else has offered/prepared.

Am I going to agonize every time that happens? I could; but I am not going to do that to myself.

As I told someone the other day, I am probably more aware than most about things. But money is greatly limited. I am doing the best I can to take care of myself with what I got.

On top of which, I do have questions about what truly does affect us. Some people who have a healthy lifestyle and diet still wind up dealing with cancer - and dying.

If there truly was a one-size-fits-all answer, I suspect all people taking care of themselves would stop being affected by cancer. But that has not happened.

Some might argue that a diagnosis of cancer is a person's fault. That probably only works until a diagnosis is more personally interacted with. And, if it is maintained post-diagnosis, I think it can
be tantamount to a form of torture.

If you care about someone - especially if you care - really consider being more aware of how you present your "helpful" tidbits. You have the potential to have a harmful - or at the very least opposite than desired - effect.

(Have you seen Patreon.com/jolope yet? If not, please take a peek. Thanks.)

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Chemo is Messing with Me

Since dealing with cancer, I have directly, or indirectly been called a little kid (and not in a good or flattering way), a fraud, a bitch, selfish, ungrateful (or not grateful enough), negative, a bad influence...all kinds of loverly words.

In thinking about this, it probably doesn't vary much from what we deal with when others make judgments about us, cancer or no cancer.

I think it still bothers me more in some regard, though, because when you need help from another that is the time what another thinks of you is going to matter the most.

And most of us know another person who does not like us for some reason is likely to be unlikely to extend a helping hand - unless there is, at the core, a level of love and concern (or dysfunction?) that speaks louder than the dislike.

I am feeling very judgmental right now. Chemo has a way of bringing up all kinds of negative stuff. So much crap is going through my head.

I am sad and angry about those who judge me by what they think they know. And, yet, I am probably at times just as guilty.

If someone needed help, though, I would like to think I could somehow get passed my stuff, and help if I thought I could.

I realize that in some level we are all doing the best we can with what we got. But is this really good enough? Should it be good enough? Should we be ok with it?  

How I am should not matter to you, in the same way that how you are should not matter to me. And yet, we co-exist in this world, so how can the line drawn be that cut and dry?

Maybe it isn't so much what we think, as much as what we do with what we think. There is a commercial I saw about battling parents. Everyone has an opinion, and many of them vary. It is one big mess, until a baby carriage gets loose, and all of the parents go after it.

The message is that "we" are parents first, which comes before/above our judgments.

It is at times like this that I am more acutely aware of the judgments of others. It is a time like this I feel more isolated.  Chemo has never been my friend when it comes to how I feel mentally.

In such a short time, my attitude has taken a considerable dive. I am not liking this one bit. 

I also realize that talking this way is only likely to alienate others. I backed away from being immediately public the last time I was on chemo, and in some ways, I think it might have been a good idea.

The rawness and immediacy of emotions - as real as they are - can often be hard to deal with. As it is, many already do not know what to say to me.

At times like this I don't want to be bothered by anyone or anything. If I could, I'd bury myself in a corner, and not come out.

I have a hard time coping with things as it is, but it is greatly amplified when I feel as I do. And it is NOT a conscious choice to feel this way. 

I had been adamant that I did not want to do more chemo, as it has taken me from myself. What kind of life do I have if I am miserable?

It is very sad for me to make a choice like chemo when I feel as alone as I do. What  is the point of living when I do not feel like I am living?

It gets really hard to see people doing stuff, feeling like my life is stagnant. It is no different than when I am off chemo, but the "reality" is starker when I am on it.

It doesn't help me that I am sleeping most of the time and/or not feeling well. It doesn't help that I do one or two things, and then have to lay down. It doesn't help that I don't think those closest to me want to hear about it, either.

On some level, I think they just want everything to be alright. I don't know if it is "true," but reactions I have gotten have certainly not encouraged me to feel free to express what I am feeling/what is going on. 

I need that expression, and the only place I somewhat feel safe to express these feelings is here. However, for reasons mentioned above, it is a bit questionable.  

I have continued to share publicly as it has felt important. Believe me when I say I soooo would much rather be quiet, private. 

I can only guess from reactions I receive from people that I have been in some way helpful by being so raw and honest, and that is the reason why I continue to be as forthcoming.

If I have a mission in life at this moment in time, I feel like it relates to my ability and willingness to speak my truth - regardless of how it will be received, or whether it will even be received.

Do I want to torture myself in such a public forum, in such a public way? No freaking way.

I do not know what will come next, but if I get quiet again, at least this post might give some insight as to why.

A friend told me people want "cancer heroes." They want people who smile, are positive, are cheerleaders, who act like all is right with the world, and that they will fight - and conquer - cancer. They want the stories of those "on the other side," free from cancer.

People don't want to hear about the problems. They don't want to hear anout the medical bills, the utility turn-offs, the evictions. They don't want to hear about the tears. They don't want to hear about the fears. They don't want to hear about the nightmare trip through dealing with cancer and treatment, they just want to hear that you made it.  You made it? Good. Great. Let's eat.

It does a great number of people a disservice to have this mentality. One may think it is somehow a "good" thing to stay positive. I have spoken to some who are only "positive" because others need and expect it, and that it comes at a great personal cost.

I can't do it. I won't do it. I promised myself if I blogged it would be everything...good, bad, ugly. And I am keeping my promise.

Some people may think I am withholding the good because there may not seem to be much of it. Deal with cancer and treatment mostly alone and see just how much positive there is/how much positive you see.

There is some, and I have shared it. I am just not gonna try to fake anything at this point. It will cost me a lot more than it is worth.

When you start seeing the value in speaking things as they are, you will never want to go back, either.

Yup. Sometimes it really does suck to be human. And this is one of those times.

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Don't You Have a Sense of Humor?

I was thinking about humor in the middle of the night. I woke up, and could not get back to sleep.

What makes something funny? How do we come to laugh about something?

My sense of humor has been offbeat for quite some time. Someone says. "Can I have your name?" and my response can be, "Don't you have your own?"

It can be a risky sense of humor; not everyone will get it, and jokes can - and will - and do - fall flat. I can also get some pretty great laughs, too.

What brought this up was a joke a person made the other day. When I felt and looked like crap, and had just come out of the shower, she sang, "Here she comes, Miss America."

Button pushed, a bit. When someone says something so far from the truth, maybe it can be perceived as funny. But if it hits a wound, a sensitive spot, not so much.

I realize that I sometimes say something so far from the "truth," I figure it can't be taken seriously. But sometimes the person still reacts.

Just like I did. I am sensitive when I feel like crap. I am sensitive when I feel like I look like crap; I have had a lot of issues with the way I have looked over the years. Miss America I would never be.

The little song felt - in that moment - like it was rubbing it in. It was not the intention, I know, but that is the way it felt.

In my wee-bit of research last night, I found out that when we think things are funny, we use our whole brain to get to that point, and an "acceptable" reaction. I have said for a while that chemo makes me much more right-brained. It feels like it impairs the left-side.

Maybe I do not have the same ability to appreciate jokes while on chemo, unless they are ones I make myself. But then again, if something hit a sensitive spot at any time, I seriously doubt I would appreciate it.

I used to think it OK/acceptable to make jokes because they were jokes, even if the edge of them wasn't so nice. I expected the person to recognize I did not say something to hurt. What I did not recognize was that I might have been unwittingly stirring up their own already placed wounds.

In this case, I think I explained a bit of how I felt, but I am not sure I went all the way there. I got asked didn't I have a sense of humor.

Funny how we do that. We see nothing wrong in what we did, can actually be pleased with ourselves, and when the other person doesn't react as we think they should, it us not about us, or our lack of awareness, or our insensitivity; it is about THEM.  

In turn, our reaction to them takes away any potential to see anything about where the other person might be. Instead the focus is on what they did not get about us.

My reaction had nothing to do with a sense of humor, or a lack of one, but it became the focus until I tried to explain why I felt as I did. I am not sure if the message was "received." One does not expect the kind of reaction I had to a JOKE. If you don't get it, you are still supposed to smile or laugh or at the very   least, leave it on the floor. You're not supposed to say anything to tell the joke telling person why you felt like you did because then it is like you are telling them they are not funny.

And if you think they're not funny - that is your problem. Many times, I think, issues are buried when we focus on the superficial things.  It becomes about anything but what is really at the core of what is bothering us. Plus, we hate arguments, upset, rocking the boat, so we stay away from our feelings and truth.

I am not sure how much is conscious in this regard. But the more I am willing to give credence to how I feel, the more conscious I am becoming about speaking up.

I knew I had come a distance, but it wasn't until this week that I realized just how far I had come. I am just now also realizing that these kinds of things can make us look at stuff that isn't exactly comfortable. Easier to argue over the value of a perceived joke or sense of humor than to face discomfort.

Facing stuff is never easy, so maybe it is rigged so there are times people try to help us out - even though we don't often think of it that way.

It would be easier to be pissed at that person that look at what she stirred up. It would also be easier to focus on her than how miserable I was feeling in that moment.

Some would say we should laugh, and be joyful, and smile, and go other places more pleasant. We are told we can make that choice. 

But maybe we are not always supposed to. Maybe there are times we are meant to be in our feelings and emotions. Maybe we are supposed to look, and not look away. Maybe we are supposed to be sad and cry, but instead cover it with anger and disbelief/disappointment.

It ain't easy, and...it certainly ain't no joke when we face the uncomfortable stuff. Well, maybe it is one, just one we do not get.

As usual, I am thinking out loud as I share these thoughts. I think there are lots of conversations that could be had around humor and jokes, but I think what this entry comes down to for me is that there is a whole lot more going on than we often will see, or realize, and it has nothing to do with whether we find each other funny, or not.

And, maybe, just maybe, if we could look to attempts at humor as a way of having us look - and see inner things - maybe we would find less outter conflict and strife.

For that matter, that might just be able to be said for most anything. Boy. Just how uncomfortable is that thought? Uncomfortable but, perhaps, helpful?

I know my situation and words often trigger stuff in other people. Many times responses have nothing to do with me -although  the other person certainly thinks it does.

As long as we are unwilling to feel what we feel, I suspect there may be those who will come along to give us an opportunity to deal with the stuff we have tried not to deal with.

I think I am grateful for it, although I am not always sure what to do with it. This being human thing really does leave me searching for answers sometimes. I really seem to often have many more questions than answers.

Is my speculation above "correct?" Who the heck knows? But, at this moment in time, I feel like it makes some sense to me. If it does for you, too, great. If not, then that is great, too. 

I really think we just gotta do what works for us more often, and with less guilt, than we are used to. Does that mean a lack of regard for others? I would like to think it rather a greater regard for ourselves.

The thing is that we have come to think that some aspects of who we are are bad, negative, unacceptable. I think we may be more at odds with our judgments than we are with each other. If we could be more accepting of all things, we might find ourselves a lot less triggered.

If I had not been taught to consider "unattractive" and "fat" as "bad" things, I would not be sensitive to what comes from others in those regards. If I had not been taught that no hair and eyebrows was sad, or looked like death/dying, maybe I wouldn't care about how my looks change with chemo.

Maybe we get to look at things to recognize them for what they are, but then, we get to change them. If you can't see what something truly is, how can you change it?

Maybe we settle too much into things because we aren't even clear about what we have settled into. Maybe we are like the frog in the pot of water who dies because he is unable to make a clear determination of his environment - like he would/could if he suddenly found himself in hot water.

Maybe our interactions are like buckets of ice, trying to help us become aware of the things we don't think about so we can decide if we really want them, or not.

I am beginning to think I am talking in circles. So let's just say "done" at this point. 

Ps please look at patreon.com/jolope, if you haven't already. Thank you.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Speaking Up

The other day I was talking to someone. They asked me if I eat potatoes. "When I crave them, yes." 

The other person said I should be sure to eat organic. "I do when I can. It can get pricey, and sometimes I can't find it. I try not to drive myself crazy about it."

You really should eat organic, the person said, because of the pesticides they use. It is worth the money.

The money I don't really have?

I gave the person a look. "Ok. I will shut up now," the person said.

A button had been pushed. I told the person that I probably know more about things than most people they know after dealing with cancer over 2 years. I told them that I do all that I can to take care of myself, but that it isn't always easy without an income. I told them that the "helpful" info people offer isn't always helpful, and it often costs money I do not have, which is incredibly frustrating. Lots of ideas and solutions come my way, but not always the help to make them happen.

I think I said more, but I do not remember at this point what it might have been. This was one of a couple of times I spoke my mind with this person, who I am not sure appreciated it, given their good intentions.

It was later suggested to me that I deal with the things that bother me internally/silently rather than say how I feel out loud, and to the person who has said something that presses a button.

I disagreed. I also said that most people who are willing to listen get what I am saying and why I am saying it. I was not about to handle it the way this person suggested.

The person I am speaking of is still talking to me. Also still finding buttons. Proactively in the midst of what I am feeling, I explain. 

I cannot tell you how good that feels.

How can anyone know what or how or why we feel something, or react a certain way, if we do not tell them? Each time we are silent, there is a possibility that we are eating away at ourselves, that we are only hurting ourselves. 

Maybe it seems nicer, or more polite, or is less likely to be confrontational, but when you speak your truth, there really isn't much anyone can say. Which doesn't mean they won't try. But when you are confortable within yourself, what they say won't matter as much as you once thought it did.

I actually think there may be less conflict when you speak to the best of your awareness than when you try to play nice. I think things can simmer and eek out in unpleasant, unhelpful ways.

Am I always tactful? Am I always pleasant? Appreciated? I seriously doubt it. But these days I am the closest I have ever been to always being myself, and I really cannot convey just how incredible that can be.

And the fact that I can not only do it, and appreciate it, but also the fact that I can often "defend" it without being defensive is one of the greatest gifts of all. It means I am the most at peace ever in being who I am. 

The fact that I have gotten to the point that I feel there is nothing left to lose likely has a lot to do with birthing and feeding this frank-spoken version of myself. I highly recommend getting to a similar point. I also recommend finding a way to get there that doesn't include a major illness or catastrophe. 

Ps have you seen patreon.com/jolope, yet? If not, would you please take a moment to check it out? Thank you.

I want to cry...or sleep...or something

I woke up this morning to a scalp that is feeling "funny" already. It is the feeling I have had in the past that usually comes after the first several treatments. 

I also woke up to a message that I also forgot a bag in the car. That bag has sesame oil and other things in it. I need those things - especially the oil, as it helps with the...the...damn...I cannot remember the word.

It is a word I have used a lot. Platelets! 

It means I am going to have to go buy some today, when I probably won't want to leave my bed - much less the house.

Things like this worry me. When you don't even have a trigger in your mind that something is missing, lacking, not right, you can't do anything about it.

As important as the sesame oil is, it is something I should have been aware of.

On top of everything else, I seem to be constipated. That can't be helping mood, either. And I feel like crap.

I really went into this feeling mostly ok. Even a bit optimistic. But things like this really bother me. It is truly one of the worst aspects of chemo. I feel like I can't really take care of myself, and no one can take care of me. And then I wind up in worse shape because I miss things - including important ones. 

One night during past chemo treatments I came home on the train, and had left my phone. I was out of it from treatment, on top of everything else. I managed to get it back, but it sucked - big time.

The thing that scares me the most? This is only the beginning.

Do you appreciate my work? Would you consider being a patron for as little as $1 per month? You still get to ser my work fir free, you just help me get through the financial ramifications of having to deal - and live - with cancer and treatment. Patreon.com/jolope. You can cancel any time.


Thursday, January 22, 2015

Feeling It

Well. Chemo is once again in my body. 

This time is a bit different in side effects. I don't feel as crappy as I have in the past, but the brain part is definitely impacted. I also have the reddest nose and cheeks. I look like I have been sun-burned. Nausea  has been mostly present in the mornings, but a lot less than before.  Very grateful for my Sea Band.

I have already felt my brain slower than it was, pausing to think of words, and the "best" part? My coat is in a car that will be in New York tonight. 

Does me a lot of good.

I was told today at least I "have an excuse," when it comes to my brain farts.  I then told this person how another previously made a comment out of frustration for my lack of being able to hold onto info that I needed to be treated like a child.

I did not appreciate that comment, but I could not in some way fault that person given that it must be extraordinarily frustrating to deal with someone who can't seem to be able to retain the simplest things.

Chemo has a way of making one live very  much in the moment, almost with blinders. It feels hard to see anything, or think anything, that isn't immediately needing focus and attention.

I am feeling very unsettled, and not liking this feeling. And it is only Week 1.

It probably doesn't help that physically I am also feeling weak. It takes a lot of effort to do even the most basic of things, and climbing steps is extremely slow and intentional.

I have spent the day in bed, but not sleeping. Last night wasn't a great night for sleeping, hoping tonight will somehow  be better. I have really come to appreciate the solid night sleeps with Nyquil. I need to find a good substitute.

I have tried Melatonin, and it seemed to stop working for me. Next up is Magnolia Extract. I am going to try it as soon as I get some (at least I think that is what was suggested...)

Chemo has often felt like a cloud/wet blanket, and I hate to say it, but it feels like it is back...

PS Have you seen Patreon.com/jolope? You can become a "patron" for as little as $1, and can cancel at any time. I have been dealing with cancer over 2 years now without an income, but thanks to the support and donations of others. If you value me or my work or words, your support in this way would be greatly appreciated, especially now, as I would really like to be able to focus on what I need to to take care of myself - instead of worrying how to make it financially. The challenge is as immense as you might imagine it would be. Thank you.

I Tried to Play Nice...

I am laying in bed, feeling not so great. Chemo started again. This is the third time I am standing here.

A little over a week ago I was devastated. My doctor had given me 3 choices of chemos to choose from, one of which, going in, I thought would be my choice.

The chemo I wanted I had been told worked well with Vitamin C. I had been told it was easier on my body, and that I was less likely to lose my hair. 

I had been on it before; so I had a bit of an idea what to expect. But that was the problem in the oncologist's eyes. In his mind it already kinda proved it wasn't really gonna work as well as we'd want.

I wasn't sold on his belief, but found myself in tears. Did I dare try a different chemo? I have hated what chemo has done to me; many times feeling so removed from myself. Sad to look in the mirror, and see shades of my forner self.

It is hard. I do not care how enlightened I may seem to be, or strong, or whatever, it is damn hard. At least before I had the thought that afterward all would be Ok again. I would get through chemo, be done, and hair would come back. 

Well. My story did not quite go that way. 

Hair takes longer to grow back than you may think, and after doing chemo last summer in anticipation of a surgery that did not happen, my hair got wrecked, and has not fully recovered. And now, I pray for a miracle of keeping what I have. A miracle that has eluded me twice before. 

I have been told to focus on "inner beauty" as I face this possibility. I "get" all that. But that is so easy for someone else to say.

When I was a kid I often had short hair. It was only the last several years before being diagnosed I had long hair, and I was loving it. I was imagining myself being a long-haired lady long after it was considered "fashionable."

I was devastated when it started to fall. But I got through it. I even came to appreciate the shorter hair at some point. At least it was hair.

And losing head hair is one thing. Losing eyebrows makes it worse. I felt like I looked like a Klingon without any make-up to replace where my natural brows were.

It makes it impossible to just leave the house, and I have no desire to even open the door to anyone. I just can't put a cap over my face.

The last few days I have been thinking about my relationship with cancer and chemo. I have "played nice" these last couple of years.

I have looked at chemo as an ally and a friend. I have never looked at it as a battle or a war. I have never tried to resist the things that were happening. Tried to roll with them, accept them, deal with them, even though I can't say I appreciated or liked them.

I have "danced" with cancer. 

But I am tired. I can't keep doing this. I don't want to keep doing this. I also don't want to give up, nor do I want to die. 

I have thought about how we have relationships in which we "play nice" for a time, but then there comes a moment that a butt needs to be kicked. Sometimes it is time to end that relationship. Playing nice may be the best/right thing to do for a time, but when it is time to butt-kick you know it.

I have not been one for cancer battle or struggle metaphors. This change of perspective feels like a cousin to where I now am - a place that I feel that cancer needs its butt kicked. I have decided that this needs to be my last time on chemo. Chemo needs to kick cancer's butt to the curb.

I am also trying to tell cancer it should leave any way. If it keeps going, it is going to destroy its home any way, and it won't have a place to survive.

It needs to go, and it needs to go now.

PS I REALLY need help financially to make it through this. I realize just giving money can be challenging. However, if you've enjoyed or appreciated my writing (Relatetocancer.com/SometimesitSuckstoBeHuman.com) or art (cedonaah.com) or videos (gotstressgetrelief.com), you can be a patron for as little as $1 per month - which you can cancel at any time. Please consider Patreon.com/jolope. Thank you - I appreciate your help more than you will probably ever realize - or I could express). 

Monday, January 19, 2015

People Like Us...

I just saw the following quote. I got so excited. Even though it isn't exactly the terminology I would use, someone else was validating what I have been saying since late 2012, as my cancer treatments were winding up, and I got a clear scan. I only wish I knew who said it, to give it more validity. However, if you search the quote you will be able to find it in other places, validating the experience of others who have dealt with cancer.

A person in one of my groups said they are more than a year out from treatment, and still dealing with side effects and repercussions of treatment. I wish dealing with cancer was like taking an anti-biotic, and all was right with the world.

At the end of treatment comes other issues, and other concerns. Each time I have come away from chemo, I have come away with new aches and pains. I have been endlessly tired for over 2 years, with, or without treatment, and even when I was considered "clear." I have heard of the effects of chemo affecting the brain of a person for even 10 years. I guess the plus is the person got to live 10 years, but I can tell you the effects are incredibly frustrating not only for the person, but the people around them who have to deal with it.

Here is the quote:
"I think the hardest part of cancer treatment is at the end--when everyone assumes you're 'cured' and you no longer need their help. You're in your weakest, most devastated state, plus you no longer have the mission you had when you began this journey: to kill the cancer. The cancer is toast, but so are you, and now, like a soldier at the end of war, you need help putting yourself back together, only everyone has gone home since they assume the war has been won." 

The last sentence was exactly how I felt when I announced my clear scan.

Please be gentle with those who have dealt with cancer and treatment. They likely need it, and will appreciate it, but some will never speak up for fear of what you might think.

Today I saw Jennifer Aniston talking about her newest role, and how there have been those who have been silently suffering that are grateful for what the movie highlights and brings out. I have known for quite some time this blog speaks for many people, and not just those dealing with cancer.

When people are dealing with things, they often will not want to tell you what is really going on, in part, perhaps, because they know you don't want to hear it. In part, perhaps, because you might not know how to deal with it. In part, perhaps, because they don't want to be seen as "less than" in your eyes.

If you love someone, give them permission to speak their truth, even if their truth is agony. So many times I speak the truth and get told I am being negative. I have come to realize more often than not "negative" is something we don't like, or don't want to, hear.

Unfortunately, just as we don't seem to really grasp what soldiers feel upon return from battle, we don't seem to really grasp a lot of things. That is, until we become enlisted, and have our own experience. I can only hope that by sharing the things I do, in the way I do, I can help others understand things without having to have their own enlistment to go by.

Sometimes I do wonder, however, if the only people who will really understand are the ones who have not choice but to understand. I really hope I am wrong, because the fact is that people like us really need people like you.

PS Like what I write? Please consider becoming a patron for only $1 a month. (You can do more if you like, but $1 will do it!) You can cancel at any time. Your patronage will help me fiscally survive the ravages of cancer. I really need your help. Perhaps consider it a trade? You get something from my writing, and my art, and heart and more...and I get your $1 in appreciation. See more information here patreon.com/jolope Thanks!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

In a Crappy Mood

It all started today when I could barely make it out of bed around noon or one. I posted this fact on Facebook. Instead of people seeing it as a not so good thing, they were like, "Yeah, that's awesome. We gotta listen to our body. We got to do that sometimes..." and things like that.

What they did not realize is that what happened today happens almost every day. What they did not realize is that I feel like crap. I am now scared that what I am feeling is more cancer related than viral. It certainly feels different. I won't know if I am right, though, as I told the doctor I do not want to know what the scans said. The fact that my tumor marker is as high as it is is enough for me to do chemo at this point.

I did not want to get out of bed, and if I was truly "taking care of myself," I probably should have stayed there, and slept. I was ready to go back only a few hours after being awake. But I haven't been able to. I have things I need to get done before chemo starts again.

It doesn't help that I live with my friend. I try very hard not to inconvenience him and make things harder, but when I feel crappy, that is really hard to even have a semblance of being able to maintain. He already has extended himself in a number of ways, I try very hard not to push it. But it adds a layer of stress, and friction, sometimes.

It probably doesn't help that I am on edge about starting chemo again, and have no idea what to expect, as it is a chemo I have never been on before. The optimist in me wants this to be my last chemo ever after this round, and not because I die, but because it kicks cancer's ass.

You can tell I am in a mood. I never use fighting metaphors when it comes to treatment or cancer. It must just be because I am tired and irritable, and freaking scared. And still have to try to do a bunch of stuff in a short amount of time. I imagine you think I shouldn't do it. I wish I could say the same thing. The problem is that not doing it now only makes things worse for me later.

This is one of those times I am acutely aware of being alone dealing with this shit.

Pretty Much Every Day

Pretty much every day I wake up tired. And it doesn't matter how little, or how much, sleep I get.

Pretty much every day I lie in bed for a while (sometimes hours) before I manage to get out of bed for the day.

Pretty much every day I wake up aware of the fact that my stomach is just so not happy and of other things it is feeling.

Pretty much every day I am aware of the fact that I am going to begin chemo again this week.

Pretty much every day my long list of To Dos gets no where close to being done. 

Pretty much every day I am feeling fortunate to get anything more "major" done (yesterday it was chicken soup).

Pretty much every day I go to bed exhausted, feeling like I should do more, but having to surrender to the fatigue, instead.

Pretty much every day I try to post a blog, or work on an art image.. 

Pretty much every day I ask for financial help in some way.

Pretty much every day I have to push myself past where I probably should go so that I get anything done.

Pretty much every day I could fairly easily stay in bed - if I didn't compel myself out of it.

Pretty much every day I am aware of what doctors consider my situation to be.

Pretty much every day I am aware of being judged in some way.

Pretty much every day I am grateful for those who have helped me get as far as I have.

Pretty much every day I am incredibly grateful for the generosity of the friend I live with.

Pretty much every day I am aware of feeling overwhelmed with all that needs to be done.

Pretty much every day I am having to explain the types of things many have no clue about - even after I attempt explanation. (How do I know this? When it comes up again...and again). 

Pretty much every day (especially lately) I find myself in tears.

Pretty much every day I utilize hypnosis.

Pretty much every day I force myself to take extra trips up and down steps for some physical activity.

Pretty much every day I am aware when it is getting harder to do things...and, perhaps even worse, harder to even want to do them. 

Pretty much every day I am aware of my simultaneous desire to live and my thoughts that not being here might not be so bad.

Pretty much every day I am aware of many of the contradictions that exist in this thing we call life. 

Pretty much every day I am aware of the fact that on some level many people can relate to me and the things I say because they have their own stuff they deal with.

Pretty much every day I am aware of the fact that I do not have a spouse or boyfriend or kids.

Pretty much every day I am reminded I am no where near perfect, and that my interpretations aren't always right, despite the initial moments in which they think the are.

Pretty much every day I am reminded of cancer and chemo when I look in the mirror and see my messed up hair.

Pretty much every day...

I have debated about posting this list. I am not making it for anyone, except myself. I kind of feel like it is just a way for me to say what is the "so" of my experience. There are a lot of things that happen every day, and it is not that I am consciously ticking off each one. Quite frankly if it was a "tick" kind of list, I'd probably forget a few a them more often than not.

I wonder if the "every day" part is truly every day. But I think I take care of that by saying "pretty much" before it. I have some really good days in the midst of a lot of the yuckiness that I experience. There are some days, I would almost think myself "normal" and cancer free.

For a while I seemed to be feeling like that more often I seem to now. I suspect part of it has to do with what is going on in my body, and why I am feeling as I do physically.

I really wish cancer would realize that if it destroys me, it destroys its home. It can't live in a body that can't live. Ironically, they say cancer are cells that have decided they aren't going to die. Cells are supposed to die, but cancer cells decide they're special, I guess.

If life itself is something that transcends our body, then there never is death. If you believe that, then it is interesting to consider, and wonder, perhaps, how cancer cells fit in there. After all, within the body that appears to be life, those cells exist. I have heard we all have them at some time or another, it is just that when the actual illness develops, some are having a different experience than others.

The cancer cells have a "life," too. They seem to live.

I often think of it as the paradox of contrasts in life. There is night, and there is day. There is strong and there is weak. There is big and there is small. There is wide and there is narrow. There is good and there is bad.

We seem to be more OK with the side of the contrast that seems to be (more) positive. But the side that isn't, well...we judge it, or the person, if there seems to be a reason to.

And, yet, every piece is a part of life. Every piece. We experience what good is by knowing what bad is. We appreciate day and the light it offers because we see how night can put us in the dark. We appreciate the dark because we can see the stars in the sky, which are diluted by the light of the daylight and sun.

How can we say which side of the spectrum is good, and which side is bad? We decide by what we've been taught, or by what mood we've been in, or are in. We decide by what we gain or what we lose in the process of interacting with that "thing."

Illness always seems to fall on the bad side. Maybe it is a justifiable placement. I certainly wouldn't question anyone who would want to put it there. What I might question, though, are the things that come along with that placement.

The things that come along with it affect people in a myriad of ways, and it is sometimes - at least by my perspective - worse than the illness itself.

I am finding that being able to state things helps me. It helps me to hold it tangibly and be able to look at it in a way that I don't when I don't speak them.

I am going to leave this post as is. I am going to ask that if you have any "helpful" comments or perspectives about the list, that you keep them to yourself. I know you likely mean well by what you would say, but - please, not right now.

I used to be a part of a program that would talk about getting permission from a person to discuss something about what they were dealing with in what you would perceive to be a helpful way. You wouldn't automatically assume that what you had to say was what they needed to hear - whether they wanted to hear it, or not.

By doing it that way, if a person says yes, they are more inclined to hear and appreciate what you have to say. If they don't give permission, you keep your "help" to yourself - at least at that time.

I think that is not a bad way to go, in general. If the human being had a best practices guidebook, I would say one of the things that would be good to include would be this idea. Should it be in all cases? I can't say. But what I can say is that it likely would be a good idea in most cases.

Thank you for coming by, and if you haven't yet seen, I have created a page for people to be able to support me and my work as a "patron." You can do it for as little as $1 per month, and you can cancel at any time. If you have found value in my work (writing, art, and the myriad of other things I have offered) and/or value me in this world, I would like to request that you consider supporting me in this way, even if it is for just one month.

I am about to begin chemo again, and to say I am scared is an understatement. You may think I am scared regarding cancer and chemo, but quite frankly, I am more scared about how I will manage to make it financially. As you can imagine, this is not a stress I would think is beneficial to my healing process.

$1 really would make a difference. Really.

Click here to see my Patreon Page. https://www.patreon.com/jolope

Thank you.

Thank You

I started to write a blog post to thank everyone for their contribution to the blog contest. It started one way, and took a turn. I wasn't sure what I wanted to say exactly, so I have just been sitting on it. I didn't want to take too long to acknowledge the support that was given.

It really meant/means a lot to me that there were those who went out of their way, one or, many times to vote, even when things weren't looking so good. The winner wound up with many more votes than the leader for most of the contest was averaging. It would have taken a lot for me to win the contest.

There really are so many things floating around my head about this, but I suspect they are much more about me than about the contest, or you. This event raised a lot of stuff inside of me, and I might just blog about it at some point.

Having said that, I am about to begin chemo again this week. This will be time #3. I have shed many tears over how things are, and the fact that it is predicted that I will again be losing my hair.

I still very much need help, and have set up a page online that I am hoping will be helpful. The link ishttps://www.patreon.com/jolope if you are inclined in any way to consistently share this, or even share it once, I would really appreciate it.

It is a site that people can support me/my work. I will share my blog posts there, and my art, and whatever other things show up. I am not quite sure how it will work in totality, just yet. But it is a start.

People will be able to pick an amount of support for each month, that can start with as little as $1, and their patronage can be cancelled at any time.

If you have any questions about it, please feel free to ask. I am not sure if I can answer, but I will try. There is also a pretty comprehensive FAQ page on their site that may be able to address your questions.

Thank you for whatever you have done, and for whatever you may be willing to continue to do. I still have an uphill journey at this point, and can really use your support.

Lots of love to you,

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Saturday, January 17, 2015


The other day I posted the following on Facebook:

Sometimes I do not know what a person is thinking when they say something. If I question it, it is because I seek to understand; that is all it is. I find sometimes my questioning makes for defensiveness. That is not my intention in any way. I could say nothing, or simply say "thank you" or go wherever I go on my own...but my guess is you would like for me to get where you are coming from. Sometimes we think it has to be obvious to the other person - esp when it is obvious to us...but, if you think about it, it often is anything but...isn't it?

I posted it after I had a series of interactions that are unfortunately not too uncommon these days. I have noticed it both online, and in person.

I ask a question, and the person goes off on an unnecessary, and sometimes defensive, tangent. In person, I can try to pull the reins in almost as quickly as it seems to happen. In text, and posts, though, it can tend to become an even bigger issue, even as I try to "fix" it. I am sure there have been cases in which I am on the troublesome side of the equation, acting on something I think I know, rather than what the person intended.

From the few responses I received, I can tell I am not the only one who has experienced this, and it seems there is a trending in the direction of apathy when it comes to communication.

People don't want to be attacked, so instead of asking questions, or seeking understanding, they decide it is not worth it. If this is happening a lot, then it may be no wonder we have all kinds of conflicts and misunderstandings and breakdown.

No one wants to be attacked, so they avoid things whenever possible, and if you avoid things, you are not the only one. What you do to others, they are also doing to you at some point.

It is no wonder people do not want to stand up for themselves. It can be problematic in unanticipated ways that are guided by the interpretation of those they are interacting with.

I was talking to someone about my blog. I was curious about how the overall tone might seem to someone. Their response? It would depend on the mood/perspective of the person reading it.

It makes perfect sense. There have been many times people will interpret what I say and write quite differently than I intended. I often feel compelled to respond in cases like that, which often feeds the fire.

Occasionally I will just not respond, especially if I do not have the energy, and think it could escalate. But, in general, I am looking to have the most clear and open communications I have ever had in my life these days.

Sometimes there is a cost attached. Other times, the rewards can be really great.

When you speak your mind, and are not afraid of stepping on people's toes, there are times you might just step on people's toes. Am I doing it intentionally? No. Do I want to hurt or anger anyone? More than likely, no. 

What I am seeking to do is to understand - and be understood. The only way that is going to happen is if we are willing to take risks, and allow others to, too. We have to stop being defensive, and recognize when others are feeling defensive, and work with them - as much as possible. We have to respect the opinions of others - as well as our own. We have to be open to the idea that we can be wrong (I know! Crazy idea, isn't it?!) We have to stop thinking we know everything - especially the things we think we understand - and start questioning things more for clarification. After all, how often have you found yourself upset about something that wasn't even true, or accurate?

The minute you stop caring what people think is the minute you have a better shot at actually relating to them. However, there are trade-offs, and it certainly ain't easy.

But it also ain't easy to shut yourself down, either. That takes a lot of energy, too. And there are also costs attached.

I don't know about you, but in the world in which we live I do not think communicating less and shutting down more is going to help make things better. The only way we are going to understand where another is coming from is by being willing to interact - and truly listen. 

It doesn't mean we have to agree, and that might be a lesson to be learned, as well. I do not believe communication's purpose is agreement. If I was going to make a guess, I would say it is empathy and understanding.

And if we shut down communication, then we've shut down our ability to be empathic with another. That may not seem like a big deal right now. You might be getting along just fine, thank you very much.

But that is about you. YOU may not need empathy and understanding, but what of someone who does? It could very well be you are in a position to be of some assistance. 

Why are we in a world of people if we are not meant to interact - in times of Good AND bad?

Maybe you have every (good) reason not to do anything, and stay with things as they are. How do you think you will feel, though, if one day things aren't so OK for you? You will likely want/hope/expect that others would be there for you, right? How will you feel if they are there for you in the way you are there for others right now?

Something to think about?

You can accomplish a whole lot more by being who you are than shutting down.

The more you are able to say what you really feel, the more you will find people who can relate. Things shift when you open your mouth. Apple carts get upset. You may get upset. But upsets happen, and then you keep going.

I really can't tell you how much better things have been for me since I opened my mouth. Some have left, some I have left, and others have shown up. 

Life shifts. Nothing is a sure and stable and permanent as we would like and want it to be. The sooner we recognize that fact, the sooner we can realize that the things we say and do do not matter nearly as much as we think they do. 

The thing that terrifies you to do or say today? It could be the thing tomorrow that confounds you as to why it was ever a big deal.

And once you make a choice to be more open, more honest, more questioning, you likely will find you like it. It might be a love/hate "I told ya so" kind of thing when it starts, but after you have been doing it a while, you are not gonna want to go back. You REALLY won't.

It is so incredibly powerful. You will feel empowered. And you will be loving yourself enough to understand who and what you want to understand, and do everything you can to be understood.

You will also know there are times to walk away, and you will.

Will it be a Happily Ever After kind of thing? Nope. There will be times true conmunication will be maddening and exhausting.

But you likely will keep coming back. Like that old cereal commercial says, "Try it. You may like it."

PS Today I started something new, and if you value my blog post(s), works of art (cedonaah.com), and/or me, I would appreciate it if you would become a patron of my work. You get to choose a monthly amount - for as little as $1, and you can cancel at any time. All that I post is still free, and this is a way for you to show your support, and help me cope with the financial ravages of cancer. http://patreon.com/jolope Thank You!

Friday, January 16, 2015

I'm Angry. (Well. I was.)

Yesterday I was talking to a friend. In our conversation she felt she needed to challenge me on something. She felt that while I said I understood why people might not be inclined to act on my behalf, she wasn't sure she agreed. She felt that I was angry at them, and if I was angry, then I couldn't be understanding.

For a minute, I paused. Was she right? I didn't think she was right. But I gave it a minute before I answered. What I wound up telling her was that I wasn't angry at "them." I was angry and frustrated about my situation. I was angry and frustrated that - despite everything I have done - I couldn't seem to help myself. I was angry and frustrated that I couldn't seem to convey what I wanted and needed to - not just for, and about me, but also about how what I felt really suited a much bigger picture - one that transcended me and my circumstances.

She was right that I was angry. But I was angry only at myself.

Today I have been thinking about this even more. Angry at myself. I didn't really think about it this exact, and blunt way, until that conversation yesterday. And I am not sure it even really hit me that the words I was saying translated that way.

I am angry at myself for letting people down in the past. Even total strangers. I am angry at myself for seeing people in need and feeling sorry for them, "sending love," or even ignoring them when I could have more actively engaged in helping them through their challenge. They needed help and I, a person who said she cares/cared about other people, let myself off the hook with "can't." If I couldn't, people would understand, and I would have alleviated any guilt I might have had about not doing anything of an practical, tangible nature.

I am angry at myself that I couldn't see past the veil that clouded my view. It was so much a part of who I was, I couldn't take it off. I didn't even know it was there to take it off. That means I shouldn't really be angry, I really should be more compassionate. I imagine I will get there, but for the moment I AM angry.

I even told myself I was helping, after all there were some people I tried to help. But did I actually do all that much? Maybe I tweeted a few things a few times. I also spent my time doing other things I thought would be helpful to people, so it was OK if I didn't do these other things, right?

I am sitting here, so unsettled. As I think about how people act with me, I have noticed many times in the last couple of years how they are as I once was. I kept wondering what I was supposed to get from noticing that. I think (I hope) that maybe I have finally got "it." Maybe I was supposed to see that they were me so that I could also see the anger I had built up inside about how I was in relation to others who needed help. I needed to see where my contradictions were. I needed to see this ucky mess that is sitting inside of me. I needed to get to the point of not only acknowledging the anger, but deal with it.

I am really sad right now. So many missed opportunities. I have been reading that when we hold back, we miss out on good things that come along with reaching out. How much have I deprived myself of over the years while I was holding back?

In speaking with my friend, I also realized that there are times I wish someone had come along and shook me out of where I was. I wish someone had awakened me to what I now am aware of. I see how something that might seem small, isolated, and not a big deal can translate in much bigger ways in my life. The way I looked at things in "this" regard affected so many other things. "Can't" is such an easy, and safe, cop out, and it cost me more than I may ever know.

I am now so much more aware of the idea that there is "can't," and there is "won't." And these days, I am willing to say won't. There is a power in being able to say won't. It is a conscious choice. I know something will cost me, and it is not worth the cost so I won't do it.

I am so much more aware of the fact that can't is often used, but more often than not is inaccurate. Making matters worse, most people and circumstances allow us to use this cop out. If we don't let others get away with it, then we won't get away with it either.

When you use "won't," though, you run the risk of being judged. Why won't you? It invites feelings many don't want to touch. It invites unwelcome conversations. It rocks the boat. And let's never rock the boat.

As I thought about how I wished someone could have come along and got me out of where I was, I realized that that is what I want to do desperately with other people. Maybe it is some weird way of me trying to awaken that part of me of the past. Maybe it is the part of me that wants to shake that person I once was into awareness, and tell her how damn important it is to understand these things.

I wonder if I am projecting on "you" who I once was. I found myself wondering who the hell I was to try to tell anyone anything? Do I really know better about something? Am I "right," and everyone else wrong? Was I wrong?

I certainly have made myself wrong for how I was. If I am projecting, I am likely doing the same with others, too. And if that has been the case, I am really sorry. I am sorry for taking stuff out on you that was likely really meant for me.

At the same time, I really do think that this is something that is still bigger than me, and that there is a much bigger picture that does affect others, and the world-at-large. Maybe now that I see what I do, maybe I can come at it a different way. Maybe I can be different. Say things differently. Maybe.

I don't know that we can separate out our stuff from others totally. We seem to share way too much at the core, so maybe there is something about all of this that has a greater benefit in some way.

I have often said that it is important to allow feelings, as they get released more easily that way. Well. After writing this, I feel a lot less angry, a lot less sad, and I might even dare say, optimistic about what might be able to come next.

I so often say that I am not perfect. I know I have my blind spots. But since they are blind, you don't know what they are until they hit you. I am just doing the best I can at any given moment - just like anyone else does.

It would be really nice if we could give each other the room to be without it having to become an issue unto itself. My friend said she sometimes gets hesitant to bring things up with me. I asked her why. After all, she is one of the people I think I can talk to the easiest these days. She recognizes that there are times that the things she says aren't always helpful - at least not in the moment, and explained that it was more about  how she felt than my reaction to what she says.

I was concerned, as I think we often are able to talk about pretty much anything. Was I missing something? I actually thanked her for challenging me. I think she thought it was for a different reason, and there might be a different outcome. However, she took the time to understand where I was, and what I was feeling, instead of holding onto what she thought.

I was/am incredibly grateful when people are willing to hear me out. I told her that I have a harder time with those who think they know stuff about me and my situation than those who are willing to ask questions, and talk to me about things - and are willing to allow for where I am, instead of assuming I am some place else.

I can't possibly convey all of me through my blog posts. I wish I could. But I can't. None of us can convey who we are, why we are, what we are about in the many snippets of interactions we have with anyone - even those we think we know. There are things about ourselves we aren't even aware of, or understand. So I can't convey all of me, in part, because I don't even know all of me.

All we can do is continue to live, and continue to interact with life, and dance with the things that show up, and allow them - and ourselves - to morph and to grow. The minute we think we know something is the minute we stop growing. Maybe I need to stop making statements about things, and start asking more questions.

At the same time, I am still acutely aware that I need to be willing to claim how I feel in the moment, and that isn't necessarily a question. As a matter of fact, I think a question in a situation like that almost removes me from feeling whatever I am questioning.


I don't know what the "answer" is, but I feel like something may have shifted/changed. The book I am reading about "letting go" says that once we have dealt with the emotion of something, we tend to stop being aware of it. There are times I go back and read something, and I feel removed from it, even forgot I wrote it. I can see the "truth" of that statement.

I guess time will tell as I keep going forward.

Lots of Love to you.

PS I still very much need help, and would appreciate yours. If you can help, please visit Heartsgiving.com on ways you can help, thanks.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

What do you feel?

A Platform that is put forward by a Party is something that lists out the things that the Party thinks is important to the voters, and will ultimately get financial backing and support for. I went to look for the Platforms of the two main parties. For some reason, I had some difficulty with finding the Republican Party's. The following is what the Democratic Party stated:
Moving America Forward
    Rebuilding Middle Class Security
        Putting Americans Back to Work
        The Middle Class Bargain
        Cutting Waste, Reducing the Deficit, Asking All to Pay Their Fair Share
        Economy Built to Last
    America Works When Everyone Plays by the Same Rules
        Wall Street Reform
        21st Century Government: Transparent and Accountable
        Lobbying Reform and Campaign Finance Reform
    Greater Together
        Strengthening the American Community
        Protecting Rights and Freedoms
        Ensuring Safety and Quality of Life
    Stronger in the World, Safer and More Secure At Home
        Responsibly Ending the War in Iraq
        Disrupting, Dismantling, and Defeating Al-Qaeda
        Responsibly Ending the War in Afghanistan
        Preventing the Spread and Use of Nuclear Weapons
        Countering Emerging Threats
        Strengthening Alliances, Expanding Partnerships, and Reinvigorating International Institutions
        Promoting Global Prosperity and Development
        Maintaining the Strongest Military in the World
        Advancing Universal Values
Out of the things listed, many are broad. Many of them do not directly impact many who are in need. Yes. "Putting Americans Back to Work" sounds good, but how many can't even work, as it is? They talk about a "Fair Share," but according to who? I bet those who think those who are sick or Disabled are sucking off the system think they're not doing their "fair share."

There is nothing about empathy in here. Of course, you wouldn't likely find a trait like empathy in a list like this. Empathy can't disguise itself as a type of action item like "Wall Street Reform" can.

Odds are things like this entail lots of words and documents and hours of meetings. When was the last time that was done with "empathy?"

When everything has to be an Action Item of some sort, those things that do not translate that way become things that live on the periphery, if at all. Yes. We live in a larger world, and the macro world DOES matter. The whole in part provides us what we have in our slice of it. 

At the same time, though, what happens within one piece of that whole, how seemingly small, can have a huge impact on the greater picture, as seen by many of the events that have occurred in the first part of this year, and what has been going on in the last several, even in the known history of anywhere on the planet. We have seen how when a person has an idea it has the power to become something - for good, or for evil. 

e have seen how one person can make a difference for others by taking down the walls, and making their own rules. I just saw something today about a pizza shop in Philly (lol...speaking of slices). People can pay an extra dollar, and buy a slice for a homeless person who needs one. That is definitely thinking outside of the box. And that wasn't the part of anyone's platform. It was a person seeking to help another, and is now being the conduit to help many others. The store has a wall full of post-its that can be exchanged for a slice. Even better still, the homeless who go in there are treated like "regular" people by those who do not know they are homeless. 

That is a form of empathy in action, and probably months of meetings never had to happen to make that a reality.

The more we are aware of each other, and connected to another person, the more inclined I think we are to want to want to help when help is warranted. Somewhere along the line there has been a HUGE disconnect that has happened. We have become more suspicious of each other, more involved with ourselves, more protective. None of those things are particularly suited to being empathic to another person.

But the thing is, being connected can be scary. If you were connected to a person who was hit by a lightning bolt, you would undoubtedly not only feel a lot of what they felt, but also have a lot of your own pain. By getting up close to someone you are in their "pain" space. You may feel their frustrations and pain and it may really suck. You may also feel it more if there is something about it that you can really identify with. Then the pain is no longer theirs, it has awakened your own.

Do you have any idea how often people have not been able to deal with my pain? Do you have any idea how often I have been told to be positive. To change my attitude. To transform things. To...

Exactly two years ago today I wrote a blog post. I know this because yesterday I went looking for this particular title, and when I discovered the date, I thought it an interesting coincidence, given where many of my thoughts and conversations and things being read are going currently. "Allow" the Negativity to Gain Your Freedom was one of my most popular posts for quite a while.

In the post, I talk about allowing feelings. It seems almost odd to talk about something that is so natural to us as humans, and yet, we have become really good at ignoring how we feel. We make up stuff to ignore it, we ignore the people we think prompt it, we "think positive," we do so many different things, except perhaps, the one thing we SHOULD do...FEEL.

I cannot also tell you how many people were telling me it was "OK" to cry the other day. They didn't need to tell me. I wasn't embarrassed, and I wasn't even remotely tempted to stop. As a matter of fact, part of the reason I didn't necessarily want attention at the time was that I didn't want anyone to in any way to try to encourage me to stop, or tell me I was OK, or that things were OK. They weren't.

At that moment in time, I fully, completely embraced just how not right things were. I was in the muck. I was feeling the pain. It was exactly where I needed to be in that moment. It was yucky. It was messy. It was miserable. It was wet. But it was exactly what I needed, and I knew it.

Other times in the past,  I would have just cried. This time I made a point of telling myself to FEEL. FEEL what I was feeling. Not think. Not have thoughts. Not be logical. Feel. Bathe in it. I still cried after that. But it was amazing to be able to let myself just go where I needed to go - in that moment.

When I began this blog, I made myself a promise that I would talk about all things, including the "bad" and the "ugly." I knew there would be things that would make me look and sound horrendous. I didn't like the idea, but it felt important to be real, and to not hide behind some superficial public veneer.

There are times being real sucks. There are times it is misunderstood. There are times it is understood, but not at all appreciated. But the one thing I have discovered is that being real is the best gift ever, for me. I never have to hold back or hold things in again. I don't have to repackage them and hope they'll go away. I don't have to tip-toe around the things that bother me. I don't have to keep track of stuff. As a result, a lot of "stuff" dissipates a lot faster than it used to - if it even did at all.

There is an incredibly wonderful book that I have been reading that is incredible validation for how I have been handling things, and it explains why it works for anyone who wants to be logical about the seeming illogical. Apparently, we think thoughts are what has us holding onto things. It is actually the emotion we have attached to it. The minute we can fully feel the emotion related to something we can let that something go. We tend to forget those things we don't have an emotional attachment to any more. That can certainly be good news when it comes to the things that we deal with that aren't so pleasant.

But the key is, being WILLING to go "there," wherever there is. And it can be painful. It can be uncomfortable. It can be hard to live with, or look at. So we try to avoid it. But as long as it is there, there will be things that will come up in our life that will remind us of it. It will be like pulling off a band-aid in some cases. So...we wind up trying to avoid and control a lot more than what was in our past. It very much winds up affecting our present, and those in our lives, and those with whom we no longer interact, or those we have no desire to interact with.

(What's the name of the book? I need to find out, but I don't want to leave my writing mid-stream. If I forget to include it before publishing this post, I will be sure to come back and add it, or talk about it in another post. I think the title is something about the "Power of Letting Go.")

I have many thoughts around this that have been showing up. It is a bit different than the way I started, talking about a platform. My initial idea was to make up my own platform, and ask you to "VOTE" for me. After all candidates ask for money, and they get millions, even though much of what they offer never truly directly affects any of us, at least not often in any immediate sense. 

If you liked what I had to say, then I would ask for your support. I would ask that you help "elect" me to a life that is more than barely, financially viable. So many have told me that I have impacted them over the years, and through this blog, and in a myriad of other ways. I thought about asking if you were one of them, and haven't yet helped my financially, if you would consider doing so at this point. It doesn't have to be a lot. It just would really be helpful if it was something.

This blog post is already long enough. And while I don't exactly have a platform, much of who I am, what I believe, and what I want to accomplish in this world is sprinkled throughout my many videos and words. To spend any time with me, I think you can get to know a lot about what is important to me. Like any politician (perhaps) I would like to hope that what is important to me is also important to you. I would really like to have a shot at accomplishing more before it is time to leave this place.

But...as they often say...I can't do it without you. And unfortunately, or fortunately, it is a very true statement. Each vote matters. Each voice matters. Each person matters. We just tend to forget that part until we're the one hoping that others will remember that we matter, too, especially when we become one of those in need.

Want to help? Please consider visiting Heartsgiving.com for details on how. Thanks.