Friday, September 19, 2014

It's Not All About Me This Time

I seem to have a lot of trouble blogging lately.  That makes it sound like maybe I've been writing something else, though, so in the spirit of full disclosure, I think I should say, I've had a lot of trouble writing lately.  Like, at all.  Even my shopping lists have been ineffective, gamely started on our kitchen whiteboard, sometimes transferred to a sticky note or the back of a coupon, only to be consigned to the bottomless chasm that is the bottom of any bag I carry anywhere.  I find them later, always after returning from the store, only to have them taunt me with the essential items that are, without fail, missing from the shopping bags.  Cheese! Napkins! Coffee! (And if I got coffee, I forgot cream. Oy!)  To-do lists have been equally futile. I noticed, looking back over the past month or so, that tasks carried over from day to day, sometimes disappearing for a day or two only to top the list again and spend another week undone.  Kind of demoralizing.  It's been a slump, but I'm determined to come out of it.  School is in full swing, and the little post office is getting busier, so I'm going to try to let the momentum carry me along. 

I'm at the post office now, as I have been every day this week, and I have to say, I'm over it.  Over writer's block. Over the post office, over working, over still being pretty seriously poor, work notwithstanding.  

I am not the poster girl for the power of a positive attitude.  

As I weeded out my email inbox in an effort to continue to evade writing this blog or anything else, I got to a note I had gotten in late May from a woman named Heather von St James in response to the blog.  She is an amazing survivor of mesothelioma cancer.  Mesothelioma strikes people who have been exposed to asbestos over long periods of time in their work environments. Heather was apparently exposed through secondary contact with asbestos via her dad, who worked construction when she was a kid. Heather got the diagnosis eight years ago, just three months after the birth of her daughter.  Mesothelioma patients are usually given about 15 months to live.  She has beaten incredible odds and survived, after major surgery to remove her left lung.  Take a minute.  Wow, right?

The  Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance has a very informative website that tells all about this rare, yet completely preventable disease. Heather had asked me to help her meet her July goal of educating 300 people who had never heard of mesothelioma.  Well, clearly I missed that window of opportunity, but Heather was gracious about it, and I am hoping we can help her cause at least a little bit.  Her very powerful story is available on this website.  Watch it, and please share it so that Heather can get the word out about mesothelioma, and more importantly, about hope.  The video shows her baking with her lovely daughter and offers commentary from her and her husband about what it was like to get such a dire diagnosis and how they managed to defeat the odds. She says in her video that she has been "accused of wearing rose-colored glasses," all her life.  Well, luckily for her and her family, and all of us, she's still here so we can see how great they look on her.  

And if that isn't enough to grant us some perspective, I ran across this the other morning, first in the Huff Post, then in facebook feeds of several friends and blogs that I follow.  This is the final post from a mom named Charlotte who blogged through her battle with cancer.  She prepared it knowing that it would appear after she died. 

Charlotte reminds us all to embrace life and live it as fully as we can.  I'm pretty sure that doesn't include cranking about work and writer's block and feeling poor.  I'm pretty sure it doesn't include any self-pity at all.  I often start writing about something that happened to someone else and turn it so that we can all see how it relates to me.  I'm glad that today, I managed to start out with myself and take it up a level to talk about other people, Heather, and Charlotte, who can teach us all something we need to know.  

Picture of typewriter from this page. Picture of Heather von St. James from the mesothelioma site.