Time Left & How to Spend It

On Monday, I went to our shop for the last time. I haven’t been much since my diagnosis, but even though it was nearly empty, memories of my work there came flooding back. Helping customers old and new and creating ads and social media. Scrolling through hundreds of emails looking for potential new product.

One day, I was in the middle of revamping the stationery section, ordering new product, and the next I was in the hospital with a Stage 4 cancer diagnosis. The decision was made fairly quickly that we would need to close the shop. Between the appointments, getting chemo started, and getting my pain managed, it was easy for me to avoid the store, or even thoughts of it. When I did get there, though, it was tough. I was sad that I was losing such a big part of my life because of cancer, but I pushed those feelings away because they were too painful.

Besides, when I received my diagnosis, I didn’t think I’d last as long as I have. It hit me Monday at the shop, that I’ve lived six months so far from my diagnosis. Not only that, but I’m thriving, really — responding phenomenally to treatment, feeling pretty good other than fatigue. It seems like I may be here for a while longer.

And while that’s really great to think, it’s also daunting in a way. I’m no longer content to just float along essentially waiting to get worse. I want to feel a sense of fulfillment. Don’t get me wrong — I’m proud of the hard work I put into teaching my son. It provides me with satisfaction to know that I’m contributing to his education. But I feel like I want more.

Between homeschooling the kid and my chemo recovery, I’m unable to get out in my Bible ministry much during the week — which I know would provide me the greatest sense of satisfaction and fulfillment I can find in this world. But, I do go when I can, and I try to arrange Bible studies that I can participate in after the kiddo is done with school for the day.

I have an opportunity to mentor new cancer patients, and I really look forward to that. But I’ll need to be balanced in how involved I get. I have the tendency to want to help everyone, and that often leads to me stretching myself too thin.

My social worker has encouraged me to go ahead and start engaging in activities that will create memories for my family after I’m gone. It’s important to me too — because I want to do these things while I still feel pretty good. We have our trip to Alaska in June — which is going to be amazing — and my social worker has given me some other really great ideas. So I want to spend time on these important activities as well.

As you all know, I love to write. I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned this on the blog, but I am writing a novel, too. It was an accident, really. I started writing a short story, but it got too long. So I decided to stretch it out and beef it up and try my hand at a novel. It isn’t a goal I’ve ever had, but now I’m anxious to see if I could get it published. I’d also love to land a recurring gig on an online magazine or something like that, but I have no idea  how to get that ball rolling. I’d just like to write and to be read. And hopefully to help people through that writing.

I don’t know how much time I have left, but I’d like to use that time well. Reasonably, but well. Get out in the ministry when I can (which will increase this summer); work with first-time cancer patients, make memories with my family and friends; and write for a wider audience. Sounds do-able, right 😉

Tell me friends, what do you do to find self-fulfillment? What brings you the most satisfaction and joy? Please share!

xoxo

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Creatures of Habit

Lately I have been craving routine. Not just planning my days, but routines that become part of my daily existence — almost rituals — that transition me to different parts of my day. I’m not sure if this is an age thing, or if its something we all are drawn to, but it’s funny to me since I’ve never been very good at maintaining habits.

I have a list of daily habits that I am trying to adopt that includes a morning and evening routine. Another habit I’m developing is called “Big Rocks” — comprised of reading the daily Bible text; reading at least one chapter in the Bible; and some sort of personal spiritual study. My goal is that between my morning routine (showering, brushing my teeth, washing up with a three-step regimen, taking my pills, getting dressed and putting on makeup) and my big rocks routine, I’ll be more awake physically and mentally; more ready for the day.

My evening routine includes washing up, brushing my teeth, applying lash serum (my lashes haven’t been right since my first chemo experience when I lost them), taking evening pills, and drinking Sleepy Time tea (I love the Celestial Seasonings one). Again, I hope this ritual will signal that it’s time to relax my body and mind and get ready for sleep. This is especially important with Daylight Saving Time upon us. It’s really been messing with my sleep.

The trick is establishing these routines so that they are habits, so that they accomplish what I want. All too often I allow distractions to get in my way. For instance, I’ve not been making time for my big rocks in the morning, and by the time we are finished with school (and errands on some days), I’m so exhausted I can’t focus anymore. So my big rocks haven’t been completed the last several days. This morning I got closer, but I still need to finish my personal study rock. Hopefully I’ll find some time while the Kiddo is doing school work that I can complete that (like I could be doing right now instead of writing my blog).

Tell me, friends, what tips do you have to create different habits? As a planner, my foremost way is to write it down in my planner. I also set reminders for some things in my phone. However, these have only been partly successful, so I’m wondering what works for you.