I have been "busy" but also decided to be "unplugged" this Memorial Day Weekend.
Well, as much as I love social media (and I really do) it can be all consuming. It can be the constant itch to check to see who looked at your stuff, who commented on your stuff and whose stuff you can see and love...
And I do love it - it is a lifeline for me to connect with so many women (and men) who have been through cancer or are going through cancer or love someone going through cancer, whatever their story may be...
I love sharing my story but have had issues making time for blogging because I have been go go go on the nonprofit me (see more here- nonprofit-methe-plan-to-help-others.html) but again, I am drawn back to writing my secrets, my worries and letting them go here...
Despite "disconnecting" this weekend (I did pop on and off here and there) I did spend time redesigning my website and sharing a little bit about the newest book I wrote (a workbook to get back to work after cancer - learn more about my books for #careeraftercancer here - Books & Workbooks). Oh and here I am on Sunday posting to my blog - but this is my therapy, my time to be alone with my thoughts.
And my thoughts are jumbled these last few days. I saw a family member who had been estranged and I was not happy with what I saw and it sent me for a loop - to the point that I had to go to bed like immediately after the visit.
That is the real crazy thing about life after cancer - you feel things more or maybe it is just that you admit things more to yourself - I have trouble figuring out which it is for me. I find myself being tired and going to rest - I know I was always tired but I never went to rest. I am learning how to say, "No" and I say it a lot. I am learning to let go and letting things just fall where they will instead of being the control freak, mom of ALL I surveyed that I was...
That is just it, you know - as a mom, you always have people to take care of - but they are usually little people and then as they grow your parenting changes with their needs and their wants or whatever. I know that I was not changing or letting go until I got cancer - but despite that diagnosis and the healing from the treatments and so on and so forth, I still have this "inkling" to parent the big people I was parenting - and there were a lot of them.
I was faced with something yesterday that normally, I would then have taken control and tried to fix and or manage the people around it to do it and how to do it and yes, controlling is something I am ... Instead, I recognized how much it bothered me, I respected that feeling but I unwrapped my grip on trying to fix it to get it better or to take it on myself.
In doing that, I recognized that my priority, my responsibility, is to my own health and the health and well being of those I am only responsible for - my kids and by default my husband, too. I do not like to group him in with the kids in a bad way but he is in ways like a kid - he is trusting and in need of direction lol ...
So is it just me or do you guys too find that things you once did or tackled or took on are now as impossible as flying? I look back at what I used to do like
-how I never went to bed until everyone in my house was asleep
-how I managed the lives of me and my family to precision detail
-how I managed to work part time / full time / as entrepreneur and teacher and more all while just smiling and thinking about inside how much I was going crazy or how much anxiety I had or how much I feared.
Now, I know I can only handle so much and I pick my battles - because I feel things harder now - if my husband and I have an argument, it bothers me so deeply - trust our entire marriage was an argument before and it never stopped me ... now, I have to make things right - or work with him instead of around him to get things together done instead of always being a lone wolf...
If I argue or disagree with someone else, instead of being like "Basta" and cutting them out, I now try to find the middle ground. I have learned I guess how short life is and how I want to live it - on my terms. I do not in any way let people walk all over me - the exact opposite, in fact - in that I do not walk all over myself anymore. I recognize that I am a person who has to be respected and cared for and loved by ME first and foremost.
Anyone else with me? This is what I do (and think about) in the time between...
12/16/2016 After my Mastectomy & Lymph Node Extraction
I am a big believer in education. It is partly why I taught college even with the 6 figure salary at my last full time job. Even while pregnant and swollen, I still commuted from midtown office to downtown classroom larger than life to teach.
It is why when I decided to get back to work, I focused on being an educator - especially in college, wrongfully eventually thinking that teaching is teaching is teaching (spoiler alert: it is not). There are differences, some nuanced, some grand. The difference from undergrad student vs the graduate student - big difference, but not surmountable. Online teaching vs in person - ah pros and cons to both. Then, the K-12 life - oh, the dreaded K-12 classroom <insert shudder> with its "the student is always right" mantra and no room for any error - to be a teacher today in K-12 particularly, you must be always right, always calm, never emotional and able to withstand the attacks of parents, media, etc.
Until, of course, you are in the break-room - oh my goodness, the THINGS I have heard in the break-room from teachers, OMG, you would collectively all home-school your children (well, just from the places I had been in the teachers’ rooms at...).
Anyway, I digress … I was the first in my immediate family to receive a Bachelor’s degree and the first in my family to get a Master’s degree. I even began a doctoral program when my daughter was 1 - I do not know what I was thinking, either. After a year and a half, I withdrew and focused on my growing family.
But I never lost my love of learning, my passion for reading and just being well informed about whatever was going on in the world. My husband complains that I know everything but without irony - he is serious. There is no news he can tell me that I did not already know of in some way, shape or form.
I researched everything. When I got weird ailments (like the time my lip blew up to the point that it appeared I did just one restylane injection and balked at the second) or when I was diagnosed as being allergic to “corn” - do you know how much food has CORN in it - it is unfathomable - well, I researched.
When I was diagnosed with cancer, though, my love or interest in learning STOPPED dead. I no longer wanted to research something - I did not want to know what was going on or what could go on. My information stream was now limited to my guru, my contact between both worlds, the only person I knew in real life who had once had cancer and now did not. She kept me calm when I stumbled upon a Facebook post commemorating the life of someone who had died from breast cancer. She supported me when I disabled my Facebook account to avoid finding that fact hitting me again that death was an option.
At that point, though, I was not sharing my story and thus my education was limited. I did not want an education. It was bad enough I was learning words like, “staging”, “cancer cells”, “lymph nodes”, etc. I had no interest in knowing more. I was good at accepting chemotherapy at face value and just saying, crazily or bravely, however you want to consider it, “I am here, start it now if you can!” as a response to my oncologist who seemed to be imploring me to accept the chemo…
When you google my oncologist’s name, you find a blog kept by the now family of someone who was diagnosed too late - or who had already been Stage 4 from the get go (stage 4 “de novo” it is called). I do not know which it was and at the time, I knew even less - I just knew her posts went from talking about appointments to her family’s service for her as she had died. And then I did not understand how but nor did I ask. I knew with my first visit to my oncologist that I would either be cured or if it spread I would be treated but not cured. I did not ask anything.
Slowly, I started to share my story, to go on Twitter and Instagram, to cobble together my tribe. My first real education in “what this shit means” was with the formidable Jo Taylor of https://www.abcdbreastcancersupport.org/. She created an infographic that talks about where breast cancer might spread and what to look out for regarding symptoms. This was eyeopening, along with the understanding that these symptoms had to last at least 2 weeks in mild annoyance level but if incapacitating should be brought to your doctor's attention immediately (in my words or understanding of the whole what to do if you have pains)...
I also found others, people who shared and I learned from and people I shared and they learned from me but through it all, I continue to learn and I continue to think in my mind that I am cured and that no matter what I will not worry because I cannot control it so why should I torture myself … the old me, that would have never been accepted, I would have tortured myself to death..
All we who have had cancer can do is just focus on the moment - we know the line between health and sick is thinner than the line between love and hate. We know that each day is not a given that the little things are just that, little things. We live scan to scan, mammo to mammo, appointment to appointment trying to make sense of the new world order in which our doctors can make one face, one shake of the head and we can be on the floor and destroyed. Or they can look at us and smile and we can live to die another day…
This is what we do in the time between… we wait, we hope, we pray (if we pray) or we just focus on what we can control (not much) and try to make it through to the 1 year, the 2 year, the 5 year, the 20 year … the natural progression of what we think our lives should go to - maybe 75, 80 for me - that is the goal. To die of anything OTHER than cancer. Because Fuck cancer.
This is what I do in the time between...
At my last "follow up" on April 9, 2018
It hit me that although I have written books before (sometimes with ease) that it seemed to be something in the past for me - something I would not be able to do anymore...
Well, I was wrong!
I wanted to share more about how to manage finding career after cancer. I know that the written word is sometimes not preferred - not everyone loves to read but I did think that with the video seminars and the written words here on my blog and on other sites (see Press) being great but it is in pieces and not a front to end guide book on what to do.
The information included in the book is:
Chapter 1 - Welcome to the "new normal"
Chapter 2- On Confidence
Chapter 3 - On Preparation
Chapter 4-Resumes & Blank Spaces
Chapter 5- Interviewing How-To's
Chapter 6- What Makes You Happy?
Chapter 7- Dealbreakers & Social Media
Chapter 8- Keeping an Open Mind
Chapter 9 -Listening to Your Gut
Chapter 10- On Balance
Epilogue - Next Steps
The book is slim with parts in it to add your own information to help get your mind going to think about what you want to do and how. My plan, however, is to give the book away for free with my training sessions, which I hope to be doing in person as well as online.
If you want a copy of the book, please sign up on my homepage Career After Cancer.
The book is also available on Amazon here.
This book joins the other 4 I have written about business / entrepreneurship and careers and of course my children's book that I also give away for free to other moms who have experienced cancer (sign up here - Children's Book if you want a copy of it - and sign up even if you want a copy in Spanish as a Breastie translated it for me into Spanish - for FREE! (Thanks, Mish!)
Let me know what you think about books vs video training - my goal is to have these things go together in so many new ways! Thanks!
If you want to help me reach more people by donating to my 501(c)(3), please do so below:
Do you know how to write the perfect resume? Something that makes the HR folk or Computer Algorithm say “hmmmm” and put you in the to be called (or emailed) pile? If a person looks at your #resume they spent about 3 seconds on it and one thing everyone hates to do is look at a resume and see:
It sucks because so many of us definitely have the 3rd thing ... we all took time off or got fired or laid off and now with the whole chronological resume thing, it’s glaring right there sooo obvious we missed time from our career and the question is, “why?” But most likely it becomes, “why bother?” to the HR or hiring folks.
I am going to tell you a hard truth - it IS (usually) easier to find a job when you HAVE a job. For most of us after treatment (or during as some of us are lifers with stage 4 or continuing treatments with clinical trials - I am on month 10 of a 24 month trial) if our doctors think we are well enough to work -and as we all know those bills don’t stop just because our bodies failed us - it is time to get back out there but for most of us, our bodies DID fail us and we still feel “off” in different ways. The best thing to try to feel normal again is to rock out our job search but helllloooo our resumes are old our hair is chemocut our bodies are different - where do we even begin???
Well, you begin behind your computer screen (for now) and watch my #free training that takes you through how to write that perfect resume - did you know you should:
Last week was a very big event - my son received communion! 3 years ago, my daughter received and it was so important to me as my faith has always been a big part of what makes me me. I brought Sofia to mass as a little baby and then when her brother was born, I brought the two of them to mass all of the time - and it was NOT easy. Waking up early as a mom of 2 kids, I would dress them and drag them to mass for 8am. They would often resist and / or complain. I did it anyway - even chasing my son up and down the aisles.
On Saturday May 5, it was the day. I kept thinking each week, “Ok, I have to get through these next few days…” - it seems every week, there was something else to do, some other event to handle between sports, homework, activities - having young kids and a new 501(c)(3) (on-helping-others-as-a-501c3.html) is fun and challenging as I keep trying to balance my need to write, my need to do more with my very much needed life at home.
A balanced woman is hard to be - it seems the kids school days are getting shorter and shorter and between working out and trying to eventually see my girlfriends and spend time with my husband and extended family, it is hard to balance.
Today is mother’s day and it is fitting that I am getting myself more on the “balance” train and trying to manage the many things I want to do and how.
We took photos together at communion and I have just a few of them. I guess if nothing else, we can all agree that I look hella different from 2015 and 2018 (see below).
To think, my daughter’s communion was exactly 1 year and 6 months before my diagnosis of breast cancer at 39 years old. And then, to also think that last year, I was still undergoing chemotherapy until May 1st. I was lucky that my chemo was a year ago and that I was able to kind of have gone through this “metamorphosis” for my son’s communion but really I am just happy to be here, to have been able to sit at his communion with my own hair and my one boob and just be ME.
It crossed my mind only once during the ceremony - the dreaded, "What if?" and I just pushed it away right quick to live and enjoy the moment and not worry about what cancer might do - if it does God forbid spread or come back or otherwise make my life be in danger. Instead, it was with a deep breathe, that I sat in that church and watched my son receive the body of Christ that I exhaled and said, "No what it's, just TODAY."
I am lucky and focused on trying to do the balance - it is hard. I do know that time goes quickly - well, in a “the days are long but the years are short kind of thing”.
So I try to balance and take care of me and the many goals I want to accomplish with my 501(c)(3) along with enjoying the moments, the moments that continue to fly by and change me from a mom of two babies to a mom of two young kids to someday, God willing, a mom of teens and beyond…
Fitting for mother’s day to share that…
This is what I do in the time between...
PS: Happy Momma's Day again :) XOXO
As I prepare for mother’s day - well, yes, we mothers prepare for our own holidays (we get it) lol. We have to clean the house and organize the events and make sure all of the other mothers are getting cards and/or gifts from the family (read: husband and kids) and more.
As I am getting these things "done", I cannot help but think about all of my past mother’s days and the different ways I focused on all of the wrong things, year after year after year and to forgive myself for it.
When my daughter was born in 2007, I was on maternity leave for 10+ weeks and during that time, I felt (as I guess most of us new mothers do) like I ceased to exist. For most women, maybe, this feeling passes or gets less with time but for me, it did not. I continued to feel as though what ever I needed was not even on the list of things "to do".
I worked full time in NYC and made a big salary and I hated leaving her but I also enjoyed a bit of pretending to be able to attend to my own needs at work for a few hours… but then, things got bad.
My husband got sick and by that first mother’s day, I was just clinging on and hoping, praying for a day where keeping my daughter ALIVE did not rely on me. (And yes, it felt that dramatic - there is no, “the baby will tend to herself” and at the time, I had no help officially available to me beyond certain set times…) I just wanted a day to sleep in - it seemed like such a luxury - to sleep uninterrupted without having to get up and do something for the baby, who I loved more than life itself but my body and mind wanted just one day. One day.
Reader, I did not get it that one day. It seems laughable now but at the time and in coming years, I continually held out hope that that random Sunday in May would be the day I could rest and be "me" without having to run around like a lunatic but eventually, I embraced it and I could see no other way to be so even that one day was not one for me to take off but to keep going …
My first Mother's Day 2008
I took this to the extreme even if help did become available, I was not interested in it. I had become a one woman machine - getting diapers, bottles and whatnot - toilet training, removing the bottle, nutrition, activities, homework, etc etc. I was a dynamo. People marveled to my face, “I do not know how you do it.” To my behind probably something more like, “That woman is a control freak!”
I was in this pattern and ready to continue on it - did not anticipate where I could let go or how. I had no clue. I was a bad friend and definitely someone who was not the best of “support” when it comes to my husband but he also had his demons and issues, towards me… So we can call it a draw.
Then, bam, I was hit with cancer. How in the world would I be able to keep doing what I was doing the soup to nuts of everything with my kids and work full time and survive? The main question I had was on surviving. I struggled with what hospital to go to, mainly because of the kids and my own fear of traffic.
Ultimately, I learned slowly and painfully that the old way was dead. That in order to survive, in order to truly live, I had to let go of being the control freak worry wart mother who did not allow sleepovers or play dates where I could not be present (omg, I hated that version of me but at the time it was all I knew how to be so I forgive that version of me and love her again)...
It helped immensely that my kids WERE 6 and 9 when I was diagnosed and not 2 and 5, though it was still hard for them (and me) and it continues to be hard for them to adjust to this new normal, too (and of course, me, too though it should go without saying - this new normal is one you have to adjust to each day, and it is different each day, too). I say all the time that it is not just the patient who gets cancer but the whole family - friends, too as most of them are close as family…
So on the eve of this Mother’s Day, I think to myself, “the kids are all right” part prayer and part belief in it and most importantly, or just as importantly, I am, too.
I have big ideas for the rest of this year and next - I hesitate to say, "plans" because the truth is we never know what the future holds but I have my ideas... I want to focus on my nonprofit 501(c)(3) career after cancer initiative - I want to travel and spread my training and books around the country and maybe beyond. I have so many stories to tell in my fiction writing, even beyond my first publication in the Visible Ink anthology.
I want to spend time with my kids and family, too - first and foremost and I am going to go easier on myself in terms of my “deadlines” and “planning” as though I am a project manager and this organization is my baby, my project but my kids are on the list, too. And every day, they get a bit older... pretty soon, they will be more and more independent and I know I will miss these days.
But, the big news for me personally and spiritually is my trip in February 2019 back to my second home, Rome. The home I left 20 years ago. Where I grew up. But listen, do not tell my kids yet - they do not know! It’s a trip I am taking without them.
I am not just going to Rome but also to see San Giovanni Rotondo, where Padre Pio is - I feel as though I am being called to go and so I am going. More on that in another post. This is what I do in the time between.
Slideshow of Mother's Day Past :)
PS: Happy Mother's Day to my golden girls in Heaven and of course to my mom who always has my back and yells at me only sometimes and to my mother in law, too, who also has my back. I am a lucky girl & my kids are lucky grandkids!
So as you guys might know if you follow me on social media (why don’t you -
twitter and instagram) then you know I found out on Saturday - the day of my son's communion!- that my company is officially a 501(c)(3) corporation! I had already known I was a nonprofit for my state and then when I returned from my vacation and my Beautiful Self photo shoot in between all of that, I filed to be a 501(c)(3).
I filed because it was important for me to be officially a nonprofit, to be able to raise funds and support the things (training, books, and more) I want to do for free to help other people who have been hit with cancer get to their “new normal”.
I cannot stress enough that once you finish treatment (or if you are on maintenance treatment) and are cleared for work it is hard to figure out what you need to do to get back out there again. Or if you did work during treatment, maybe now that the roller coaster has paused for a moment, you realize you have not been happy at your work - maybe the stress levels are too high or maybe you have had issues with colleagues who, you know, are like jealous of all the time off you took during cancer (sounds absurd, but it happens).
Whatever your particular story is, the fact is that you are either actively thinking of moving to a new position OR you were canned and need to find something new. For me, I have spent years helping people get to the next step (seriously, it was the name of my company The Next Step) with resumes, interviewing help, and even wrote BOOKS on how to be entrepreneurial in your job search and more.
Despite all of that, here I was ready to find a new job and I was CLUELESS. Literally, clueless. I had no idea what to do. I mean, I kind of “knew” but not really. I had a new body, new hair and no clue what to do and how.
I always considered being an entrepreneur again but I knew that what I really wanted to do was help others (nonprofit-methe-plan-to-help-others.html)
and now here I am another big move to getting my initiative funded and more to launch more - so many plans (a new post will come about that soon) oh and news to share soon, too.
A friend of mine recently asked me, “So you are doing this non profit thing but you could not find a job?” Yes, a friend… lol. It is ok - it makes sense - for me, I have been entrepreneurial for many years and to be able to give back and officially as a 501(c)(3) this is what I am supposed to be doing!
In case you were interested, my Mission Statement is:
The Time Between Is, INC provides training and services for individuals who have experienced cancer. Cancer can lead to loss of job or taking a break from work which can be hard to get back to the career after going through this disease. This service and training includes online and in person session along with workbooks resume writing interview help and more to help people get back to their “new normal” after cancer.
The specific objectives and purpose of this organization shall be:
What do you think? Sign up today at Career After Cancer to make sure you get notices about all of the upcoming events and training and more!
If you want to help me raise money to support the training and initiatives underway for Career After Cancer, please do so below!
The Time Between Is, INC is a 501(c)(3) corporation - help us reach our goals of launching #balanceaftercancer
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