Turn the page

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"There comes a day when you realize that turning the page is the best feeling in the world, because you realize there is so much more to the book then the page you were stuck on."

- Taryn Malik

Today is my last day of treatment. 

Six weeks have come and gone and here I am, hours away from laying on that cold and hard table, tucked back in the vaulted room in the basement of the cancer center for the very last time. EVER. Hands tightly wrapped around the squishy blue oval ring they give you to help keep you still, eyes closed humming quietly to myself to pass the time and not think about what is actually happening. 

Mostly I feel excited and very loved as texts pour in with congratulatory words like "YOU DID IT!" "YOU ARE A RADIATION ROCKSTAR!" "LET THE CELEBRATION BEGIN!" And I smile and think, "I DID do it." I just did the hardest thing I've ever had to do in my life and I definitely plan on celebrating tonight. 

 I'm more then ready to be done as I don't think my poor hip could take much more. Where once was pink and supple skin now resides a four inch, dark leathery purple-red burn that has started to peel and causes discomfort when I wear anything tight. And I'm ready to have back those precious five hours a week dedicated to treatment. 

Overall, I'm ready to have my life back. I'm ready to have the strength and energy to do the things I love but mostly I'm ready to turn the page and start a new chapter.  

I have made the choice that if menopause is near I am okay with it. Despite the rollercoaster of emotions and pain and all that is still unknown, I'm going to wake up tomorrow and just live my life the best way I know how. If I am meant to be a mom that baby will find me in whatever way is destined to be. And I know that this experience will make me an even better parent. 

I've come to a place of feeling peaceful with the direction this is taking my life because I have been reminded of some really important things. So to the Universe and God I say thank you. Thank you for reminding me how precious this one life is. Sometimes those reminders come on the coattails of something traumatic like cancer. 

This experience has reminded me that life is short and as cliche as that may sound, I'm tired of wasting emotions and worries on things I can't control and people whose actions don't align with their words. I'm turning the page and this next chapter is going to be something pretty epic. I feel it in deep within my bones.  

Over the last few months  I've learned three very important lessons that I'd like to share with you now. They weren't easy. There were many tears involved but now as I look back, I'm happy it all unfolded the way it did. Life is pretty interesting and you better hold on tight because it's most definitely always mix of wild and bumpy. 


Your vulnerability is a gift

I've very openly shared my journey and I don't plan on stopping. I truly believe it's far better to be vulnerable and share what you are going through, especially when you feel alone and need the support, then keeping it to yourself out of fear of what others may think. 

There will be people that judge or unfollow or roll their eyes but honestly, that's okay. You don't really need those people in your life. Remember, life is very short. Kindly and lovingly send them on their way.

More then anything, share your story because someone out there needs to hear it. We like to think we are the only ones experiencing the very thing we are going through but I guarantee there is someone out there needing to hear exactly what you have to say.

Every time I was open and honest, especially with the really scary stuff, I was met with an email, message on Facebook or text from someone who needed to hear my words on that particular day. Knowing that my journey was helping someone else, that's a gift I never knew I could give until now. 

Asking for love and support isn't a weakness, it's the greatest thing you'll ever learn to do

Given that my family is 1200 miles away, there were many days where I felt really alone and scared. So I'd post something on social media because I knew that I would be met with the very thing I needed most, love. I really couldn't have gotten through this without all the words of encouragement, thoughts, love, prayers, and so forth.

I used to think that asking for love and support was needy and weak but through this experience, I've learned that it takes a lot of courage and strength to say, "Hey, I'm really struggling today and could use a little love." 

On the days when things were really bad, I'd go back over my feed and reread all those messages you sent me and it would lift me up so I could get out of bed and not only face the day but live the day.  So please know that it really did matter to me and I will forever be thankful.

Balancing your needs with those of others

This is something that hasn't always been easy for me. I'm a constant work in progress. The hardest lesson I've learned through this experience is that even though I'm going through something heavy and hard, so are a lot of other people I love and care for deeply. 

It's easy to get caught up in your own drama and think that what you are going through is so grave and deep but everyone is fighting their own battles and to them, what they are experiencing is quite possibly the hardest thing they have ever had to go through. 

The love, sweet and thoughtful gifts and random acts of kindness I have received throughout this time have quite literally blown my mind and I only hope that moving forward, I can be more selfless, thoughtful and think of others more often then I think of myself. 

We are a world longing for connection and to feel seen, heard and supported. I just want you to know I SEE you, I HEAR you and I'm committed to being here for you in ways I may have not be able to before. But I'm ready now. 

So with bated breath, I turn the page. What lies ahead is unknown and my darling, isn't that what makes life so exciting? 

 

 

 

The Struggle is Real - Thoughts On Aging Gracefully with saggy boobs

"there is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. when you learn to tap into this source, you will truly have defeated age."

- sophia loren

For a really long time I thought I was never going to age. Seriously. I thought that I was going to be the one person that skipped the inevitable, and remain the youthful version of myself forever. I am not kidding here. 

I'm fortunate to have genes that grace me with a somewhat youthful look and leave me looking at least six years my junior. However, they led me down a road that confused me into believing I would be saved from the inevitable truth; that we all will grow old. Five months shy of thirty-six, I often get met with the wide-eyed looks of surprise and confusion when I correct someone who thinks I'm in my mid to late twenties. Flattered I am, but I often wonder if that has more to do with my, at times, introverted and immature nature, rather then actually looking younger. 

As I see it when looking in the mirror, the years are written all over my face. Battle scars from a life well lived, hard lessons learned and years of running "wild and free" in the sun, slathered not in sunscreen but baby oil, as I told myself, "I'll just deal with it when I'm older. Ha ha ha" I guess the joke is on the older version of me now. 

 I have aches and pains in places I use to roll my eyes at when my mom would complain of similar ailments and I find myself typing in "anti-aging night cream" in the Amazon search bar more often then I care to admit. My boobs, once perky and youthful, are slowly working their way south and I have images of them swaying closer to my belly button then my actual chest, sometime in the near future. And I've now taken to smoothing out the "ruffness" on my face with the more then occasional plucking of dark, course rouge stray hairs. I can't believe I just admitted that to you. The struggle is real. 

And then, there is dating which I think I'll reserve for an entire post of its own, however after being married and thinking my life was going down a certain path and now, navigating the dark waters of dating in an online dating world, where there is something more shiny and youthful and new around every corner, I find myself drifting off into thoughts of my fifties living in a little cottage by the sea with my litter of fur children and shelves of books to keep me company. All with the occasional visit from my niece and nephews. Someone has to look out for me when I'm older and they love their TT, no matter what I look like. 

This my friends, is aging gracefully. 

The funny thing is, I really do love aging. I was always wanting to hang with the adults when I was younger. I preferred real conversation over superficial talks of clothes and trends. I preferred curling up in my bed on weekends hanging out with characters in books to raging parties where everyone tried to act older then they really were.I mean, I secretly played with barbies until I was at least twelve. That doesn't mean I didn't succumb to the pressurel, I was, after all, an insecure and impressionable youth. 

However, I was young and did things because I desperately wanted to feel,"normal." Whatever that means. I wouldn't however,  want to go back to that time for anything. Sure, I wouldn't mind if the girls would solute me in the mirror rather then warm my waste line, but all jokes aside, I really love the person I am becoming as I step into this new chapter of my life. 

I find myself shedding old stories of what my life is supposed to look like and taking more risks as I become more aligned with the life I actually want.

I want to feel good from the inside out. 

What is most alluring about aging gracefully is this unusual newness of starting to not giving a f$%K what others think. That is a newness that I find intriguing. That is something I've never experienced before. 

This isn't to say that I don't want to feel my best or I'm just throwing in the towel. I think as we work on our insides, our outsides should match. As I grow into the adult I want to be, I want an outer shell that can support her. And so its give and take. Its balance. It's accepting that I can't change my past but I can shape my future however I want it to look. 

An old friend (no pun intended. We've literally been friends since age 20) and I were talking on the phone yesterday when the topic of aging came up. I mentioned how strange it was, the day I realized I was no longer that youthful twenty-something, and was actually closer to forty then thirty. We started laughing as she confessed that occasionally she walks by a mirror and sees her mother and how it sends her into fits of panic. "Man, where did the time go?" we laugh. And then we laugh even harder because we just said, "Man, where did the time go?" as we confess how we promised ourselves we'd never say that and start talking about all the other things we promised we'd never say, yet now find ourselves saying all the time. 

Aging is an interesting and extremely humbling experience. When I was living with my brother and sister-in-law, Henry, my five year old nephew would often ask me, "TT, when am I going to be a grown up?" and I'd always respond by saying, "Henry, you have plenty of time to be a grown up. Just be a little kid right now." 

But it got me thinking, we spend so much time when we are younger rushing to grow up and yet, here I am, "All grown up" and I can't help but wish that time would slow down, just a little bit, so I can catch my breath and really take it all in. 

As that cliche saying goes, "Life is short." 

And then all of this got me thinking that; man, life IS short so why do I waste so much time on things that don't matter? Like my sagging boobs and reading reviews on anti-aging cream on Amazon. And caring what others think. And being afraid of trying new things. And the list goes on. 

You can't erase your past and maybe that is what I'm trying to do with slathering on creams and lotions that tout gimmicks of restoring you to your youthfulness? There is no going back so you might as well buckle up and enjoy the ride going forward, saggy boobs and all. 

Aging gracefully, to me, is more about accepting your past and focusing on the here and now. Yes, another cliche but you gotta think that all these cliches have something to them, right? I mean, when they were originally quoted, you have to believe that who ever came up with said cliche actually, truly believed that what they were saying was one of their biggest "ah ha" moments in their life and they were just trying to spare us all and help pave the long and at times, tumultuous path. 

 I guess what I'm trying to say is I want to spend more time living, like, really living and less time worrying about aging because as I've come to realize, its inevitable. As my dad always said, 'we are all dying a little more every single day." Depressing, yes, but true nonetheless. We wake up thinking we'll get to it later, all those things we want to do, and then we realize twenty-years has gone by and we are left wondering, "Man, where did the time go?"

My friends, lets all let go of the should of's, the could of's and the would of's of our past and just cut to living. Truly living. 

As I embrace the sagging, the crows feet and the crinkles in my butt, I'm stepping forward into my second half of my thirties with a new fierceness and commitment to living well. I'm committed to taking care of my body, my mind and my spirit, not for vanity, but because I realize I deserve to feel my best. I deserve to feel that freedom within that only comes with truly living a life on purpose. 

Will you join me? 

I'll leave you with a song that has been circulating in my head ever since I started writing this post, one my mom used to sing to me as a young child that would send me into fits of giggles but has recently taken on a whole new meaning...

"Dooooo yourrrr...boobs hang low, do the wobble to and fro, can you tie them in a knot, can you tie them in a bow, can you throw them over shoulder like a continental solider, do your boobs, hang low?

And my friends, to that I say fucking celebrate your sagging boobs. 

Old Habits Sometimes Die Hard: Thoughts on Dating After Divorce

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Dating has been on my mind a lot lately. Some people may say, "but Amanda, you've only been out of your marriage for four months. It's way too soon to start dating" However, what I've come to realize is the complexity of each individual relationship is just that, complex. How to determine if you are truly ready to take that next step is personal and different for everyone going through this experience. Most of what I think about in all honestly is wondering when I will actually be ready to put myself out there again.  How will I know? How do I do it it? Tinder, through friends, dating sites? Is it now? Maybe three months from now? A year? I've been trying to identify what it will feel like when I am finally in an okay place to feel that kind of vulnerability once again. This thought alone makes my heart beat quicken. 

I keep telling myself that I’ll just know. My intuition, my gut, my all knowing, it will tell me.

Some days I feel really excited to explore this unfamiliar world once again and other days I feel like I'll never be ready, like I just need more time. A lot more time.

I need time to continue processing the end of a marriage that seemed too short but at times, far too long. There are days when I need more time to dive deeper, feel deeper, forgive, cry, try to understand. And then there are days, lots of them, where I laugh and smile and am filled with such an incredible feeling of hope and possibility and dating seems sexy and fun. 

I know I want to fully acknowledge and understand what I deserve and want from a new partner. Most importantly however, I just need more time to fall deeper in love with myself before I can fall in love with someone else. 

I use to view dating as this overwhelming obligation because I wanted the end result. I thought it would fix me, make me whole. I wanted what looked perfect on paper, to feel secure, settle down and have kids. I wanted to be in the throws of comfort, that all knowing and move on with the natural progression of what my preconceived ideas of marriage were.

Here I am however, back in a place I was once so happy to leave yet happy to be here once again.

Single. 

This time it’s different though. There is freedom. There is peace. There is excitement. There is possibility. There is adventure. There is a new love for myself, a new love for my life. It's organic and deep and it feels really good. 

Sure, I have days where I'm sad. The past few days have been that way. It creeps up out of nowhere and grabs hold of my tender heart but really it isn't that sneaky, it's always there. Sometimes we find the best distractions to fool us into believing that maybe it is gone. Until you look it straight in the eye however, it will always be there. 

Recently I found myself in a situation where I was flirting with danger. Literally. I had found a good distraction with the attention of someone I was really attracted to, someone I was growing to like, someone who was fun and exciting. Someone who from day one told me he was emotionally unavailable.

In the past, those words were like a drug to me. The more I heard it the more it was a challenge for me. “Oh yeah? I’ll show you. You wont be able to resist me.” 

Old habits die hard. 

It was like a game to me. Part of me wanted to make them realize how amazing I was and the other part of me found comfort and safety in hearing those words because I knew our rendezvous wouldn't last and I wouldn't have to fully expose myself. Eventually, I would end up hurt, and mending my broken heart once again. Within that pain there was also my comfort.

I flirted with danger for a couple weeks until I admitted to my best girlfriend that I was merely going down the same path I always go down. It was familiar, it's what I knew but I want my life to be different. I was preventing real growth and one day, real love from happening. 

I ended it before it really even began and was proud of my decision because it shows that I have come a long way. I am learning from my past. I have grown.

If I have learned anything over the years it is that people always tell you who they are and where they are right away and you must believe them. There is no amount of trying to convince someone that you are amazing and beautiful and funny and sexy. All which may be true but you shouldn’t have to convince anyone of anything. Most importably, you should believe it yourself and then the right person will see it too. They will be available in ways you’ve never experienced before as long as you are ready to receive it.

I think about what I want and deserve now and my priorities have completely changed. As I continue to get to know myself in a deeper, more profoundly loving way, what I want for my life and what I want in a partner is first and foremost, a kind of availability I've never been open to before.

I grow more excited about the possibility of a different kind of love, on a level that is deeper then I've ever experienced. This starts first with myself and then, when the time is right, with a partner.

There is a freedom that comes with putting yourself back out there and having some fun and exploring the world and those who are commingling in it with you. And then there is a freedom in trusting yourself and having your own back when you know something isn't right. 

When I finally arrive at a place where I feel ready to get back out there, which may be tomorrow or months down the road, I want to stay committed to myself, my hopes, dreams, wants and desires. I want to remember why I left my marriage to begin with and remain open to finding someone equally amazing and most importantly, emotionally available.

I am committed to breaking my old patterns and creating new, healthy ones because it's the only way for me to live now. Moving forward, not backwards. 

There is real opportunity here to continue evolving into the women I want to be and honestly, already am.. It begins by listening to my intuition in a way I haven’t in the past, to know that I am worth so much more then trying to convince someone of my specialness. No convincing should ever be needed because all you truly need is to believe in yourself, to love yourself enough.

There may be a lot of fish in the sea but I believe the right one is out there waiting for me just as much as I am waiting for him. In order to find each other we have to continue listening to what it is we want deep down inside, to continue living our own lives, finding happiness, joy and love within ourselves.

Our paths will cross and when they do we’ll look at each other with a knowing smile that simply says, “Oh hey, there you are.”

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