I have been so busy for the past few weeks. Doing what? you may ask.......
I have taught twice already. It's been amazing to be back in the classroom. Within 5 minutes, I felt completely relaxed and everything came back to me. The students are so enthusiastic about learning about empathy, and of course, they love the baby visits. Our baby is adorable. She is only 3 months old, but already a ray of sunshine when she enters the room. Both times I taught, I left feeling like I was still a staff member, like time had not passed and I still belonged there. But then I go home and feel so distant from that part of my life. Teaching feels so long ago. I miss it and cherish these mornings back at school. However, there is a part of me that seems to be growing ok with not being in the classroom full-time. I guess because I'm finding other ways to be useful and challenged. Everyday I seem to find things to do that are meaningful and important.
One thing I do several times a week is meet with lots of different friends (old and new), often to go for a walk or meet for coffee (or green tea). I love these one-on-one times. I'm often blown away with the level of deep conversations I get into with everyone I meet. I learn a lot from every person I meet and often walk away feeling encouraged, challenged, and inspired. This has helped me stay intellectually fit.
I've also been busy getting ready for my first speaking engagement. I will be the guest speaker at a Christmas banquet in my mom's church. I'm really enjoying preparing for it, and I can't wait to see how it all comes together. I've been asked to "share my story". It's a challenge for me to keep my story contained in the amount of time given. I could probably fill 2 hours, but I promise I won't. I feel like God has given me lots to share. Someone recently asked if I get nervous before speaking, and I can honestly say I get excited, but not nervous. I feel like this is what I'm supposed to be doing. If even a handful of people can learn from me, be inspired by me or challenged by what I have to say, it helps validate what I've been through over the past year. It gives me the purpose I miss in teaching. I think I love to teach because I like to make a difference. So this is my new avenue for making a difference (for now).
Another time filler for me has been planning for Christmas. I've really challenged myself with this one. Before I say what I'm about to say, I want to make it clear that I have not given up or given in to cancer. I plan on living for many years. However, I have allowed myself to consider, "What if this is my last Christmas?" Everyone should consider this. If it is, what gifts do I want to give? What gift would help people remember me? What gift could make a difference to the people I'm giving it to? I have particularly considered this for my daughters. I have put a lot of thought and hard work into making something for them that I'm pretty sure they will love. It will help them remember me for as long as they live. And I hope it will influence them throughout their lives. That's all I'm saying; I've already said too much. There are too many of you who read this that see them everyday. I don't want anyone messing up my surprise! They have no idea that I made them anything. This has been challenging and fun for me. It has also helped me reflect and be so thankful for the life God has blessed me with.
Amongst all of this intellectual business, I continue to work hard at keeping this radiated body working. I work out for at least an hour everyday doing a variety of different forms of exercise: pilates, yoga, stretching, core strengthening, balancing, and walking (thanks to Jett). My movement is much better, but I know if I rest I will revert back to stiff joints and muscles quickly. (This is a consequence of radiation). I have developed severe numbness in my feet and a bit in my hands - I mentioned this in a previous blog entry. It's gotten worse. Unlike my teaching that came back so naturally, some physical activities are not, particularly my curling skills. I've curled for at least 20 years. But after taking a break for 2 years, and having no feeling in my feet, it's been a challenge to get back into it. Trying to slide gracefully on ice with no feeling in your feet is really hard!!! I think I provided some comic relief for my teammates my first time on the ice! At least I could join in the laughing. It was quite the sight. It feels so strange to have to relearn activities that I once knew so well. At the same time, it amazes me that my brain can tell my body what to do based on memory instead of feeling.
The other part of everyday that is very time consuming is cooking. When you eat clean, you also chop, peel, and slice a lot. Everything we eat is fresh and homemade these days. My dietary changes have forced me to experiment and figure out new ways to eat healthy and feed my family better. I've started to think of my kitchen as a science lab. My latest crazy discovery is Bread in a Mug, from the book Trim Healthy Mama. I didn't believe it would work but it does: mix 2 eggs, 2 tablespoons of ground up flaxseed, 2 1/2 tablespoons of almond flour, a dash or baking soda and a dash of salt in a mug or small bowl that can go in the microwave or oven. Mix it together and put it in the microwave for 2 minutes or in the oven at 350 for about 10 minutes and voila you'll have a little round loaf of bread that has no grains or sugar! It's crazy.
So that sums up my busy new life. It's all really great. I continue to feel really well, and I'm so thankful everyday that I get to enjoy all of these activities, plus be so much more involved in my girls' lives. I've also decided I don't have time for chemo right now. Nor do I want to give up how good I'm feeling, so we're putting it off until January, then we'll reconsider. Life is good right now; my heart overflows with joy!
Here are a few pictures of me teaching today.