It is always interesting to take a look at what you wrote a year ago and see how things have changed or remained the same.
Here is what I wrote a year ago:
"Anyone who knows me well knows that I am straightforward and direct when I talk about things. So, if I am being direct, 2015 was a particularly challenging year on so many levels, and that is the polite way of describing the year. Were there good things? Of course. However, most of the year felt like I was in some kind of weird alternative universe. So, though I can't predict what 2016 will bring, I am hoping that it will be a bit gentler and kinder to everyone."
As I started the year, I selected HOPE as my one little word....
"I realized that several years ago I lost hope. Lost the hope that things would and could be different. Lost the hope that allows someone to set a goal and move forward. I even realized recently when talking with my friend that I had started saying "I was afraid to hope for ____."
I am not sure what 2016 has in store for me but I will be looking for hope in small things and big things."
What I didn't realize when selecting HOPE for my OLW would be how I would be challenged. In May, during a routine mammogram, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Thirty-three weeks later, I am celebrating my last radiation treatment. In between diagnosis and today, I have had one incredible learning experience in hope and courage. Thank you to friends who are cancer survivors, I learned that though you may never wish for this, cancer is an incredible teacher if you allow it to be one.
Early on in this journey, I realized that I could either chose to be positive or to whine and complain. Though I am not a natural optimist, I realized that chosing the positive would be best for my overall health and healing. And as a natural pragmatist, I was determined that I could learn to be more positive.
Additionally, I knew that I needed my friends and family and their support. I am very thankful (and often a bit overwhelmed with gratitude) for the amazing women (and a few men) who have been there every step of the way with positive words of encouragement, advice, prayers, meals, walks and visits, gifts, and accompanying me to doctor appointments and treatment. I truly believe I could not have made it through the past six plus months without all of their support.
Being positive, only goes so far and I have needed to develop some strategies along the way. Just prior to my surgery in July, a friend suggested guided visualization to help me to prepare for the surgery. I was never much of a believer in visualization or meditation. However, I didn't think it would hurt and decided to give it a try. After surgery, I found that sleep was evading me and I discovered the Calm app.
Initially, I tried the guided meditations twice a day to help decrease anxiety and get some sleep but I have become a big fan of this program and recommend it often.
As I was going through chemotherapy, I was unable to work. With a compromised immune system, exposure to germs is not advised and working with young children would be constant exposure to germs. I discovered that this unexpected time off from work was really so I could do the job of healing, which is truly a full-time job.
To remind me of my OLW and also what I needed to get through this journey, I ordered a bracelet from MY INTENT. In addition to HOPE, I added the word COURAGE.
The bracelet arrived the day after my hair began to fall out. I know it is a bit vain but loosing my hair was one of the hardest things of this journey. Driving home from an appointment, the tears that I had not shed since my diagnosis flowed freely. I remember wondering if I really had the strength and courage to make it through everything I was facing. Along with the bracelet was this handwritten note from the woman who created it. I posted the note by my bed so I would see it every day. It was small things like this that happened when I least expected that reminded me that I was never alone.
There is much more that I have learned over the past weeks and months but I will share some of those lessons in Slice of Life posts.
In contemplating my one little word for 2017, I settled on the word FOCUS. In the past few months, my normal ability to focus seemed to abandon me. I am not sure I fully blame it on "chemo brain" but do think that it is natural to become somewhat distracted when going through a major health challenge.
In addition to just regaining my ability to focus. I also realize what I focus on is also important.
My goal is to focus on continuing on the path of healing and getting healthy, but there are so many other areas of my life that need me to be more focused. I am not sure what all of this will look like but will report back.
In the world of reading and blogging, I need to get back into a regular routine. For the past several months, I decided that the most important thing was to keep the Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge going but I let most other posts take back seat. My goal is to get back to posting at least three times per week. As for my reading, this year's focus will continue with nonfiction picture books but I will be increasing the number of early readers and transitional chapter books as part of a new challenge called #Road2Reading. Also, I would like to bring greater focus to what I choose to read and though I love books, I want to make time for more journal reading and a few adult books.
Finally, I want to wish everyone a wonderful 2017 and my you find your own word and focus for the new year.