The Prom-Mom's Perspectives and Ramblings...

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Who's Your Audience?

I have to apologize. *Why does it seem I start blogs this way all the time anymore?*

I have been working on this blog for a few weeks, now. Though the epiphany hit me months ago, it's definitely been one of those percolating thought processes. Of course, it's also been one large part basic procrastination...though not by my desire, rather more by life's forced agenda. 

But whatever the case, tonight I finally took the time to finish it up, so here it is.


Depression is a crazy thing. 
Being that I 'entered' the cancer world a pretty happy-natured person whom rarely knew the definition of depression other than watching close loved ones struggle with it from time-to-time, it and me were about as familiar with each other as oil and water. Because of this fact, it took my husband saying something to me about it recently to realize *and maybe even admit!* that it had decided to become that pesky solicitor on my doorstep. Not becoming a bonafide acquaintance , rather, just an unwelcome pest. 

The first thing I noticed was my tendency to try and dwell in the 'what was life before cancer' realm. As any survivor knows, this is your where your will and potential future go to die. NOT a good place to visit. And CERTAINLY not a good place to choose for a vacation. Bad. Bad. Bad. But as any survivor also knows, it's like your mind and heart are lured there by something. Maybe partially amidst the fear of adjustment. Maybe partially because there is still some denial. I really don't know why. I just know that it's like dealing with a curious child--the more you are told by others *and even yourself* to 'let it go'... the harder it is to do so. Though you may still be here, in the flesh, to 'wear the badge' of survivorship, there's been a death. A death of all things understood, adjusted to, balanced and comfortable in what life was

The second thing I noticed was how the very thing I loved doing most when on a computer--social-networking--with all those from all walks of my life, thus far, was feeding my tendency to feel depressed. Not only has/is seeing everyone else's lives plow forward amidst what is their unchanged understandings, adjustments, balance and comfort a cause of mourning *selfish as it is*, but feeling as though, suddenly, I didn't have much positive to really say or share... And began making me feel as though the cancer had not just crushed my old norm, but had successfully *without my conscious awareness of it* stolen a piece of ME away forever, too. The part of me who KNOWS me to be joy-filled in many if not most areas of my life.

This struggle seemed to worsen every new gift of a day I was given. Until one morning, just a few weeks ago, I shouted *literally* at God about it... I told him how IF I am to believe all that I have preached and I am to seek just Him for my source of joy *again, as I have testified over the past year* Why, Lord... why I am still being SO ATTACKED!? 

Let me tell you *as I think I've said at least once before*, when the Lord answers you with his 'dad' tone, it's intense. For me it's like... take the 'mom look' and times it by twenty and you get God's booming dad-voice. It makes me kind of shudder to even type about it, honestly.

Anyway.
There, in my bed, in my pj's amidst my anger, the Lord asked me one very important question. He said to me... 'Hayley, Who is your audience?' 
Now I know it sounds TOTALLY dorky to say this, but the first thought that my spirit said back was 'Whose your daddy?' hahaha.
Told you. Dorky. But after giggling out loud for a second I realized...wait a minute. It's not WHOSE my daddy. It's HE'S my daddy. And then it hit. And it hit me sooooo hard *two-by-four-hard* that it hurt me to tears. In a good way.

The things I've been mourning *ALL circumstances* only really matter most when I put them into the context of 'who' witnesses them. 
So then I asked myself...
What is it, really, about this 'new normal' that is most difficult for me. I mean, in some ways, it's a gift to get a 'clean slate' to start life with. Even a 'new' body...how I've been trying to look at my body, recently. *Another blog soon to come* So what really makes this whole piece of recent survivorship so difficult? And why is it that when I look all around me and compare my life to others who have NOT survived cancer *or some other life-changing trauma* I feel at my peek depression?

WHY? 
Thank you, again, Lord for speaking clearly. Something He's faithfully done throughout this whole journey after I pleaded on my hands and knees *more than once* in a sort of 'barter-deal' that He'd always do. Just MAKE THE PATH CLEAR. Not easy. Not without scars. Not without change.
JUST. CLEAR.

And yet again, He has.

Whose my audience, Lord? Whose the absolute ONLY audience that I need strive for, rejoice in, mingle with and live within? 

It's YOU.

And funny as it may seem *or not so much*, since I've stopped caring so much about the social-networking scene and family and friends lives all around me and instead, focused MORE on Him being who I strive to 'impress' and gain 'favor' with--which ironically isn't necessary AT ALL--
I am, once again, renewed, refreshed and replenished with joy.
And that depression? When it rears it's ugly head *or tries* throughout parts of my day, I stare it back and say...
Talk to the daddy~


Monday, October 14, 2013

Is there a fishy-heaven?

As if we didn't have enough on our agenda today with up-teen-thousand things to do at the clinic in readying exam-rooms and things for our wonderful new PT to start tomorrow...nature and fate decided to add in the loss of our beloved Gary-fish. :(

Now, I know what some of you may be thinking. -->A fish? Really???
I'm gonna give up time to read a blog about... a fish?!
Well. I hope you do. Cause Gary was not just any fish... he was part of the Ziebart family 'history.'

Shortly after Gray turned 3, he began asking me if he could have a pet in his room. It all initially started when we visited some friends whose kiddo (about Gray's age) had some pet goldfish. After about two months worth of begging and pleading, this mama made a deal that if he saved up his money, I would take him to the store to pick out a special fish-friend and budget-wise fishy 'habitat,' food, etc. When Gray had upheld his end, he, myself and baby-brother headed to the store where, I THOUGHT, we'd find a nice, thirty-cent goldfish that would last us *if we were lucky* maybe a few months--long enough for Grayson to feel we'd carried out the deal. However, as we were looking around, Gray spotted the beta containers and fell. in. love. with their 'pretty tails' and colors. Two dollars and six cents more than I thought we were bound to spend *not to mention being a beta-'virgin', myself* I reluctantly agreed. After-all, my sweet little kiddo was spending his own money to do this--why should he not get to choose. Plus, I spied a nice, small and inexpensive little beta-tank that fit the bill while Gray was still gawking at the betas--so I decided, what the hay! Before the full sentence, 'I suppose you could have one of those, Gray' could escape my mouth, my little kiddo was snagging up a lively, beautiful blue and red beta from the container stack.

one pretty beta fish--$2.36
A fake plant--$.99
one bag of aquarium pebbles--$1.19
one funny Sponge-bob tank-figurine--$1.05
one perfect-sized plastic beta-tank--$5.00
one dreamy-eyed, ecstatic and verbally over-appreciative child--PRICELESS

Little did I know that day that that one little beta fish would become such a loved, important 'member' of our little family. And maybe, because mommy ended up being it's primary care-provider, such an important little creature to me, too.

Like a mother diapering a baby for the first time, I religiously and cautiously changed his water every two weeks.. transferring him out of his little aquarium with a store-bought net and letting his half tap-water, half beta-water sit for the full 24 hrs suggested. Each morning I entered the boys' room, prepared to see a sick and/or dead beta--not because I don't believe I can raise a fish, but just out of sheer lack of confidence and experience in doing so. This attitude lasted all of about a month, after which the happy and quite energetic little dude conditioned me to think that maybe, just maybe, he was gonna stick around with us for a little while. That 'little while' turned into three-and-a-half years, which, now I know is about the average a beta lives when kept happy and healthy. Upon having a conversation with one of the local pet-store employees a few months back, I began preparing the boys with the concept that Gary was an 'old man' and would likely not live for more than another year or so.

Little did I know then, that through preparing them for a Ziebart-family, minus Gary, I was also subconsciously preparing myself. I found myself in denial that I felt so strongly about A FISH... until, yesterday... when Gary took his last breath. In meditating on this feeling in the quiet moments of our seemingly never-ending paint-projects at the clinic, it hit me.
Yes, we'd already been through the tears with the little men the night before when Gare-bear had decided to sit on the bottom of the tank, nustled in his rocks--wearing all the signs of a creature meeting it's end. We'd already been back at the pet-store, pointing out other fish and possible new family-members. Of course, even I have been through many a fishes life...'Hermie' being mine and Aaron's first beloved 'pet', together. *Remember, Aaron?* ;) But for whatever reason, this was different.. and the more I tried to make it no big whoop, the bigger and bigger the 'whoop' felt!

We've been reading chapter books for the last year or so, now, and just finished Charlotte's Web. Anyone who knows the story, remembers the saddest of second-to-last chapter... the bittersweet ending... where Charlotte sits in her corner, barely able to respond to her poor, innocent pig-friend let alone move back down onto her web. My tender little buddies let out more than one empathetic 'Aaaaaawe' as we read that part... and two evenings ago, even daddy reminded the boys of that part of death when they were so concerned that Gary wouldn't 'get up' from his rocks. Waking up that next morning to a fish that was still fighting to live extended the gut-ache we all had. If nothing else, just to watch a poor little creature lay there, suffering. I won't lie and say I didn't more than once have the thought of just 'oops-ing' him into and down the toilet, but then when I actually finally suggested it, Grayson blurted out.. 'No! I don't want Gary to have to die in my poop!' hahaha

So, instead, we retrieved a medicine thinking, somehow... maybe... we could do something to save him.

We weren't here to see Gary take his last breath. That too made me feel bad. *I know, keep laughing* I just found myself over and over and over, in my head saying, 'Hayley! ITS. A. FISH. Just a fish. F.I.S.H. But my heart just couldn't hear me. WOULDN'T.
Why all this...over a fish!

While sitting on the clinic floor yesterday, brushing a fresh, glossy coat of wet paint on the window trim in our new PT's exam room, a sudden wash of tears *I hadn't shed ANY, mind you*.. overcame me. Before I dropped my brush, I found the paint can beside me, leaned over, laid the brush across the top and fell to my knees. Literal out of control 'elephant tears' *as we call Lincy's* come shooting out of my eyes. Our first 'family death' since the threat of my own this past challenging year and the realization of the affect that a fish had on my sons. All the worry and concern for my sons and the threat my absence from their life coming to a head just poured from me.
After about 30 seconds of uncontrolled water-works, it was as though someone reached over and turned the faucet off. I wiped my face, picked up my brush, stood up and got back to work. Not two brush strokes in, I found myself again, emotionally out of control--but this time with joy and thank-giving. I couldn't thank God enough for even just one more day. One more day to see my sons grow. One more day to 'put up with' their boyhood antics--poop and burp obsessions and the like. One more day for Gray to drive me to the very edge of nutty with the same question twenty-five times over.

One more day to make sure they know their mama loves them.


The boys asked me after we took care of Gary's little lifeless fish-body if there's a heaven for fish. I explained that animals don't really have spirits in the same way that we do and we re-visited the conversation of creation and the order of things not being coincidental. They understood... but at the end of that thought process we all agreed that Gary's life was full and happy. He was always eager to greet our faces at the side of his tank, opening his gills wide and squirming gleefully *probably more of his fighting-fish response* but we liked to say it was his way of saying 'hi' back. His life was SIMPLE. But for what a fishes life could be, it was rich. He was fed, he was comfortable and he was loved.

If there's a better example of what more we need to have the same for ourselves in our lifetime--whether short or long--I'm not sure what it would be~

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Shame on us...

So, you all who know me, know that I get a bee on my bonnet once in a while. Most of the time, I just do my crazy little bee-in-bonnet dance and let meditation and clarity sort it out.
However, there's been something that keeps rearing it's head that I just can't seem to shake, so I figured maybe it's just time to type it out so it's well.. OUT.. and I can move on from it.

Two+ years ago, when my brother-in-love-by-marriage came down with brain cancer, I did the typical 'outsider thing'... truly clueless of what all living with cancer really was, I just went on living my life. After all, it didn't directly affect ME. Now, I'm not saying I was heartless about it. I spent many hours with them on my heart and mind--praying, offering help when I could--though I wish now that I'd of just PROVIDED it instead of asking and/or waiting for them to ask or accept--because now I get what that's like on the other side. But that's just my whole point...
I DIDN'T GET IT.

Since getting the 'all clear' from docs and specialists dealing with my case, I have to say......I'm at times a little taken back by the naivety and self-righteousness of people in conversations around it. I think that when you haven't been the one to go through 5 months of chemo, radical surgery and a summer's worth of radiation, it's easy to assume that life--now without cancer--is well, back to normal. This is something I too have been guilty of and am still somewhat conscience-ridden with my bro-in-love's scenario.
'Oh, well, they did surgery and now it's all over and done and they can get back to living.'

While I AM back to living *like Joel*, I'm HARDLY back to what my normal once was. That normal just, well, doesn't exist anymore. All of us who have ever been under the assumption that life just picks back up where it left off for someone whose been through a dramatic life-challenge--well--I say shame on us--as much as it may be total human-nature for us to do so. Shame. On. Us.

I received a text from a dear sweet cousin tonight who wanted me to know that I have been on her heart this week--I'd like to think much of that is due to her and I already being similar in personality and then both being survivors/warriors of recent dramatic life challenges, and young moms who know God. ;) Whatever the connection, she admitted to me a struggle she'd kept to herself all week long--a struggle that would pull at ANY moms heart-strings. Though it is specific to her current scenario and is her burden to cast upon the Lord *and she is*, she has every right to mourn what cannot be so in her life.

It's not easy to be molded and changed.
In fact, it hurts.

Deeply.

The things that you saw as defining you suddenly just not being there.
The things that you've spent your whole life anticipating suddenly just not being possible.

Yes. Of course I'm counting my blessings.
But that doesn't take away the hardship and loss of some of the heart's desires.
And shame on anyone for making another in such scenarios feel otherwise.

I actually had someone whom, herself, has three children (two boys and a girl) tell me to be thankful for the two that I have this week. *This is also, by the way, about the hundredth time I've heard this* At first I was like of course... cause I AM. But then, later, after thinking about it some more I found myself wanting to go back and ask her.. 'What if in the prime of your desire to have your third baby *who consequently ended up being your only daughter* someone had told you no? How would that of made you feel? Don't you think you'd mourn that and have the right to do so? Would YOU of wanted someone to say.. just feel blessed to have your sons?'
It's a little, to me, like telling a woman who just miscarried that that child just wasn't meant to be.

I've also had people tell me lately that they are jealous of my foobs *fake-boobs* and how mine will be perky while theirs are saggy. Now, I now we did joke about this *and I still do*... but let me tell you... actually being here, putting up with tissue-expanders, scars, and all-over numb skin that you just can't satisfy an itch on, YOUR saggy boobs sound a whole lot better! Please, don't tell me that what I have now is better than what I had.

True, I am aware that all these things easily reinforce the old saying 'the grass is always greener'...but in mulling this over and over in my head and heart this week, I think that's the whole point. The grass does always seem greener to us *who are on the other side* and therefore what that means for us with each other is, we must exercise GRACE through our naivety.

I received a message from a dear sister-friend this week that reeeeeally drove this point home for me--as she was writing me to tell ME that I am the epitome of grace and poise *which I had a good ol' laugh over cause she definitely does not live with me* and offering to, somehow--in whatever extreme-means necessary--make this adjustment I'm bearing in my physical-life, easier. Has she ever had cancer? Or does she fully know what all the physical side of post-cancer life entails for me?
Not really.
So what then has given her such sensitivity to my situation.. but grace.

Back when I was in the midst of treatment, I typed a blog called the grace-movement, professing that we all need more grace in our lives. Obviously, just by the Grace of God, we are here. I was doing a bible-study with the boys this afternoon and we read 1 John 3:16 and discussed how awesome God's love for us is...and how we should want to love Him and all others in return for it. As I was preaching to my two children, God said to me 'My Grace works the same way, Hayley. I've shown you Grace, as you should show others.'

Yikes.

I don't know about you, but that's probably my biggest imperfection... yet, because I know this is the case, I'm accepting the challenge. Hows about we all push ourselves into a Grace-Movement Revival...shall we? Just imagine a world where everyone approached everyone and everyTHING with the even just a smidge of the grace God has shown each of us!
What a sweet, sweet vision that is~

Monday, October 7, 2013

Not just another year...

Amazing how quickly one can go from hating getting older to feeling utterly BLESSED to have just been here to greet another year! :-P Though, if anyone asks...I turned 28. *again* Hey. I was told by dear friends today that I'm allowed to do that. So I am. ;)

Seriously though. First thought when I awoke this morning was 'YES! I made it. Officially no longer the age that Jesus was when He died.' ha! Not sure if I shared that story on here or not...but just a recap, assuming I did...that was something I *somewhat morbidly but in full honesty* pointed out during one of my first chemo-session around this time, last year. :-P Realizing, hey if this cancer kills me, I'll be the same age as Jesus was. So I suppose I'm officially over that hill. Even if I die tomorrow. ;)

*Strange/semi-morbid rant over*

So, for my birthday this year *because making-memories with my family is now priority more than ANYTHING ELSE* I asked Aaron to take us to see Cirque Musica in Eugene--as a family. Whenever we've travelled places, we see the Cirques and always say 'Gosh, someday we should go see one of those.' So this year...per my request and it being just an hour away.. AND being right up my alley with a live orchestra, we spent my birthday money on four tickets.

Was it worth it?
Um, let's just say I spent the whole evening pulling an ecstatic *and loudly enthusiastic* 6 year old off of me...'Oh, mommy....this is sooooooo amazing. Thank you thank you thank you for bringing us here!'

Yep.
Worth every spent penny and moment FOR SURE. Next to our overly appreciative and excited little boys at Disneyland a little over a year ago, this was the next best memory we four have made together.


The rest of the weekend was not too eventful. With Aaron's work changes and deadlines are fast approaching, we found ourselves at the clinic mostly... though even that *since we were together and our the boys are so good at just being with us* was really quite lovely.

The highlights of my actual birthday *today* were the many friends and families who extended birthday wishes---blowing up my Facebook, interactions and phone-texts with love! :)
Also, tonight while I was painting away on the exam-rooms at the clinic, Aaron snuck away for some store-time with Gray and snagged up a couple of cards and cake-samplings which we enjoyed after we headed home for the evening. I kept giggling inside at all the people around me who were saying things like 'hope you celebrated big-time' and 'make it one to remember'...because I think what I've learned this past year is I don't have to make anything out of it for it to be 'big' that I am ALIVE TO SEE ANOTHER YEAR. For me, that is as big as it gets. Being here to receive more hugs. More love. More sweet little signatures 'to mommy' on specially-chosen cards, more kisses and adoration from hubs, more opportunities to fellowship, communicate and just... breathe.
That IS the biggest gift I received this year. And the only one I need.


So.
Thirty-four.

Though I'm NOWHERE NEAR where I thought I'd be, I'm here.
And though I'm still not crazy about the actual number...I couldn't be more welcoming towards the prospect of another year of life~

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Just a canning kind of day...

Today I decided it was time to take care of a HUGE box of apples that we picked on our homeschool co-op field-trip, last week. What better than preserving the fresh-from-the-orchard goodness than by canning it. ;) So, with my BiMart canning jar deals and the little men to help me peel (yes, that was our life-skill, today)...I set off on an apple canning mission.
I'm not quite sure how many lbs exactly that we preserved, but I know that we ended up with 7 1/2 quart jars of homemade applesauce and another 5 quart jars of homemade apple-pie filling.
Yep. I'll certainly be enjoying my holiday-time apple pies like none other, this year. ;)

So, while the boys and I were sitting on a towel on the living-room rug, peeling apples and watching a movie earlier today, I found myself thinking about peeling an apple... and how I feel a LOT like that apple right now. God started peeling ME a year ago and though that's still in process, the brown that sets in shortly after an apple gets air is a bit like how I've been feeling about myself since entering the post-cancer stage. Like a browned version of myself.

The epiphany hit me, however, when I was unloading that bowl of apples to core and slice them and while doing so was able to take the thinnest of slices off of each to reveal the beautiful inside, again.
Then, tonight while I was finishing up canning everything (the little men got just a preview, as they certainly wouldn't of wanted to can 13 quart-sized jars of goods all night)... I found myself thinking about the preservation of the apple-based goods... how we peeled away their outside and made them 'feel' brown, but then we made them into something 'new', in a way, that will last a LOT longer than just the apples by themselves would have.


It dawned on me.
God's been peeling me. He revealed what to me, right now, feels 'brown'---exposed and 'no longer good'---but the inside is still there. And he's making ME into something new that will LAST.


Yes. I did just compare myself to a canned apple.
But hey, it's not that far off when you consider the 'fruits' of the spirit~

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

A Notion To Embrace...


Well.
Three DUMPED entries later, here it is.
Why so many attempts? I wasn't kidding about what I said in my last post--the words just don't come quite as easy for me right now. Yet, the thoughts never CEASE swarming my head. Perhaps though it's not that the words escape me, but that I'm ashamed to let them out.
The thoughts that consume me right now are often UNpleasant ones. Feelings of inadequacy and confusion of self are constantly trying to sneak into my daily life.
So sooooo many adjustments being made right now. So many things changed/lost after this battle. Like a soldier who returns home, but is NEVER THE SAME.

This is how I feel. This is accurate to my current human-condition.

I try so hard not to feel different, but I'm beginning to realize that EMBRACING what's different is the only thing that is going to help me turn this bend.
I read a cancer-survivor story-board the other day... and one of the posters said she loathes the phrase 'new-normal' because it's as though you come back to life less of a person than you were before--almost broken, if you will. At first, I found myself sympathizing and agreeing with her view. But then, I realized... no... that's why the phrase DOES work. We ARE broken and changed through something like this. I will never be the person I was before. Mine and Aaron's marriage will never be the same as it was before. The rest of our lives and plans together will never be the same as they were before. Our children will never be the same as they were before. Our extended family and friends are changed from this. Pretty much all of what we knew before, has changed.. because we ourselves have been changed.

Perhaps the hardest part is just the lack of warning that we receive in such circumstances as these. Like loosing a limb or important body-part...we look back and feel sorrow that we didn't sincerely appreciate *enough* what we HAD. This is true of all of the things cancer has taken from me... a few very consuming and difficult things in particular.

But the notion to cling to now is not what has been lost...rather what has been SPARED. Am I still subject to and allowed to shed some tears here and there? Absolutely! After-all, they are the best window-washers, in my experience. BUT, I shed them...allow myself to morn over the counted losses... and then with my mouth, speak the words of Thanksgiving that are due. Sort of like counting ones blessings, though, even more simplified. What cancer could have *and ten years ago would have* taken from me was life, itself! This very blog could of never-been...this very late-hour could of never been seen...this very day that I found myself *at times* 'putting up with my hyper and obnoxiously male sons' could of never come for me.

BUT IT DID.

My Life...for now...has been spared.
And I pray for myself, as well as all of you, to wake up everyday and say, 'Lord, Thank you for this UNEXPECTED GIFT of a day. Help me to remember the immense blessing of it in the midst of it's utter chaos and my utter humanness, because it didn't have to come... but it did.'



Especially at times and on days that I'm saddened by my boyish look--boy-short hair, boob-less and 70-something feeling body--or my numb upper right side, or my never-ending pill-requirements...I'm promising myself that I will do this. Speak this. Praise Him. Cause what's another day worth if I'm not aware of it's blessing~




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