Sock Her

Mini Me had her first soccer game Sunday.  Other than a couple of practices and just goofing around with friends, she’s never played before, so she spent a good part of the game just trying to figure out what to do.  Fortunately, she didn’t make any grievous mistakes.  You know, like when she started dribbling the ball toward the wrong goal, she at least listened when the parents all screamed in blood-curdling unison, “WRONG WAY!!”  And only proceeded a few feet before turning in the correct direction.

There was a girl on the opposing team who I’m pretty sure was really a 35-year old Austrian man in size 13 cleats. She was just ginormous, and intimidated the socks off all the other kids in spite of the fact that she didn’t really have any skills.  Mini Me, who is used to being the biggest kid in her age group, got clobbered by Soccer She-rah at least once.  “Mom, did you see that really big girl?  She kicked me in the calf so hard I was afraid she broke my leg!”  I don’t think the girl meant to hurt Mini Me.  I found out later that it’s her first year, too.  And, you know, it’s probably hard to control those size 13’s.  But that doesn’t make Mini Me’s calf hurt any less.

Nevertheless, she sucked it up and kept playing.  Go Mini Me!  Unfortunately her team lost 1-0, but at least Mini Me wasn’t the one who scored the winning goal for the opposing team.

Of course, there’s always next week.

Getting an Earful

Prince called and wanted his 80″s hair back, so I had to find a new ‘do.  You may recall that I’d previously attempted to use a flat iron without much success.  Oh sure, the hair was straight, but not in a good way.  It’s been a few weeks and my hair has grown since then, so I decided to give it another shot.

The flat iron, for those of you who don’t know, looks like a pair of electric hair tongs.  Spring loaded, it stays in the open position until you insert a piece of hair and squeeze it shut.  Then you pull it away from the head, allowing the hair to slide through the two sides, effectively being ironed along the way. 

I’m sure that for people with naturally straight hair, this is a very quick and painless process—making their hair super-straight.  But naturally curly hair doesn’t want to give up its identity that easily.  And so, each small piece has to be ironed again, and again, and again. 

This is where the process starts getting dangerous for me. 

You see, I have a very limited amount of patience.  Especially for things like ironing my hair.  Unlike Hubster, the engineer, with infinite attention to detail, I just want to get it done and move on already.  Hubster doesn’t iron his hair, but you can bet if he did, ALL of the individual hairs would be independently straightened.  In fact, their straightness would probably be measured with a tiny, calibrated hair straightness measuring device.  “Quadrant C-16 has 2 degrees of camber…”  Do you have any idea how LONG it would take him to get ready?  Sheesh!  It already takes forever, as he has to inspect and cleanse every pore individually, and brush each tooth 652 strokes.  I can’t imagine what the results would be if he did more than run a comb through his hair.

But, that’s not me.  I’m all about get it done and move on.  Mini Me will tell you, that I sometimes label the cockamamie ways she goes about doing things as “grossly inefficient.”  Get it done.  Move on.  And so, when it came time to iron my curly hair into submission, the repetitiveness quickly wore on me.  It was especially difficult to straighten those pesky, curly parts that tried to hide behind my ears.  Those pieces are shorter than the top, and hard to capture in the electric hair tongs.  I quickly lost patience.  My movements began to gain speed, until the fateful moment when…

YEEOOUUCH!  I did not grab my hair.

I grabbed my ear.  Yup.  Clamped that puppy right in between those electric tongs, I did.  And while I quickly pulled the flat iron away, the damage was done.  Burns, both front and back.  Of course, with my hair being so short and all, there really wasn’t a good way to hide it.  Especially from whoever happened to sit on my right.  Now you’re probably thinking, “Oh, it’s probably not that obvious.  I bet people don’t even notice.”  Oh yeah?  Every single person I’ve told this story to has had the same response: “I was wondering what had happened to your ear.”

It’s a good thing that I’m well past that self-conscious, afraid-to-look-like-a-dork stage of life. 

I’m glad I have enough hair to iron, but I’ll be even happier when it’s long enough that I can let it be curly.  This hair ironing, ear frying stuff is just grossly inefficient.

Tumbleweed

Wow. This place is like a ghost town.

I slice up my soul and put it on a deli tray along side some colby and a stack of kaiser rolls, and nobody but my mom has anything to say about it? Not even to tell me that I’m for sure going to hell for sassin’ God, or that I shouldn’t quit my day job?

Sheesh! I think I might just have to get me some new readers.

Y’all are fired.

About Canoes & Cancer

(Back in January, I spoke at a women’s ministry event.  It was a cruise themed brunch entitled “Sailing the Crystal Seas.”  I was asked to speak on navigating life’s stormy gales.  It took me a while to decide to do it.  Not because I’m afraid to speak in public, but because I felt like many people already had me up on this inspirational cancer girl pedestal, and I didn’t want to pretend to be some sort of role model.  In the end, I didn’t have a good reason not to speak, so I did.  The space constraints of the old blog site prevented me from publishing it back then, but that’s not a problem here.  For some reason I feel impressed to publish it today.)   

************************************************

I grew up canoeing.  Our family got a canoe when I was about 7 years old, and we spent a lot of time during the summer canoeing on Big Raccoon Creek.  Not too long after we got the canoe, my dad and I entered a parent/child canoe race that was part of what used to be known as the Banks of the Wabash Festival.  The race was a sprint—I believe about ¼ mile.  If I remember correctly, it was from the old river bridge to some point along the bank at Fairbanks Park.  When it came time to race, I remember sitting in the front of the canoe, pouring every ounce of effort I had into paddling, as family and friends watched from the river bank.  I remember thinking how fast we were going, and how speedy we must look to the folks on the shore. 

Of course, to hear my dad tell it years later, my contribution was not the powerful paddle strokes that I thought I was using.  Instead, they were poorly timed, badly executed, and succeeded more in slowing us down than speeding us up. 

Nevertheless, we won first place. 

This, my friends, is my first place trophy from that race.  Can’t you just hear the crowd cheering?  At 30 years old it’s a little worse for the wear…the plate which held the event name was lost somewhere alone the way, and sometimes it kind of comes unscrewed and ends up all cockeyed…and that may be due in part to the fact that I loved to show it off and tell the story of how we won a canoe race on the river.  Of course, I usually left out one little detail when I was bragging.

We were the only ones in the race.

I was thinking about my canoe because Women of Joy had asked me to tie into the whole sea-faring/cruise theme.  There’s quite a contrast between my canoe and a cruise ship, and it occurred to me that it was a pretty good analogy. 

In a canoe, we’re in control.  And canoes are great for navigating streams and rivers, lakes and ponds.  I like to compare this to the everyday, mundane circumstances of life.  God has given us the intelligence, and the ability to handle these types of things without consulting him.  For example, I’ll bet that most of us don’t stand in the grocery store and pray over the various products asking for God’s guidance.  “Lord Jesus, I want to do your will.  I know Dawn cuts grease and takes it away, but Lord there is also Palmolive, which softens hands while you do the dishes.   I just ask that you make it abundantly clear to me which dish soap is the one you’d have me to use.”  

We don’t do that, because we don’t need to.  God has not only given us the ability to make such decisions, but He’s given us the freedom to do so, as well.  We’re in our canoe.  The water is calm.  The decisions are ours.  No problem.  Hopefully, we make wise decisions based on the brains God has given us and our personal preferences.  If so—wooo!—look at us!  First place!

But, calm inland waters are not the only ones we will navigate in life.  We often find ourselves out in the ocean.  Even when calm, the ocean is not really a good place to be in a canoe.  Canoes aren’t made for that sort of thing, but many times we try to stay in them anyway.  Our successes with the mundane make us think that we’re somehow skilled enough to remain in control despite the fact that we simply are not equipped to do so. 

And there’s something else about canoes:  they’re not very big.  We can only carry so much in the way of provisions.  If we have to be on the ocean for a long time—and we do—how will we ever carry enough supplies to make the trip?  And forget canoeing the stormy seas.  You’ll soon find yourself hanging onto your capsized canoe trying desperately to maintain control while the provisions you did bring sink.  “What will I do?  How can I fix this situation?” you think.  Completely self-focused, without nourishment, and hanging desperately to our upside down boat, we can’t even take care ourselves, let alone anyone else.

What we really need is to be on a vessel that is big enough to navigate the ocean.  One that is steady in the waves, and secure even in the storms.  A ship that has plenty of space to store everything we need for our journey.  We need to be on a cruise ship, but there’s a catch to that: we will not be in control.  In fact, we will have to trust God to be in control. 

When you’re standing on the deck of the cruise ship, the decision to trust God can seem easy.  You’re already there.  Of course it’s better than being tossed around in a canoe.  Duh!  Besides, check out the buffet! 

But, when you’ve canoed out into the ocean, and the waves start getting high and fierce, and between the salt water burning your eyes and the smothering waves crashing over your head, your fear may be so great that you won’t dare let go of your canoe to grab a life preserver thrown from the ship. 

Can I just say that Satan loves that?  He loves to see us clinging to what we think we can control as we are overcome by waves.  He loves to feed fear to that part of us that needs to let go of the canoe and grab the life preserver.  He loves seeing us doubt whether or not to put our trust in God.  We have a choice to make: Do we grab the life preserver?  Or cling to our canoe?  We may not be in control of the waves, or even the canoe, but we have control over our choices. 

Hopefully, we choose to put our faith in God.   

When Jody asked me to speak, she mentioned something to the effect of everyone being anxious to hear how I keep my focus on God, and how that has helped me through this past year.  I thought, “Oh, I’m SUCH a fake!  Is that really how I come off?  Like I’ve got it all together, and it’s because I’m so very holy that I just breeze right through whatever happens?”  Let me enlighten you.

My friends, I’m no role model.  I’m not always focused on God.  I don’t pray as much as I should. I have wrestled with God for control of my situation more than once.  Still don’t believe me?  Do you want to know what the first thing was that I thought upon hearing that I had cancer?  I thought, AT GOD, “I hate you.”  

I’ve never told anyone that—because I’m ashamed that I ever thought it.  But, I needed to make clear to you that what you see in me that you call strength is not me at all.  It’s God’s grace—given to me not because I deserve it, or because I’m so focused, or at all holy—but because that’s what He does for his children when they are broken. 

Jesus said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

People often say to me, “I don’t know how you manage.  I couldn’t do it.”  I really don’t even understand a comment like that.  I want to ask them if they think this was optional and I chose it.  Perhaps they think one day God said, “Hey what do you think about some cancer?” And I was like, “What a great opportunity for me to show everyone how well I’ll cope!  Bring it on!” 

We don’t get to choose our circumstances.  But, we still have a choice.

In movie The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring, Frodo, the ring bearer says, I wish the ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened.”  Gandalf replies,  “So do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”

We need to realize that all life is not about us.  We can either get all wrapped up in our circumstances, or choose to focus on something beside ourselves.  I can tell you from my own experience that focusing on self is counter-productive.  When we focus on ourselves, we focus on what we can do and what we think we can control.  The only thing we really control is our attitude and our actions.  Beyond that, we’re just wrestling with God.

When we wrestle with God, we’re playing right into Satan’s hands.  He wants us not to trust God.  He wants to feed our doubts and fears. The devil is opportunistic.  If we beat ourselves up, if we work ourselves into a frenzy of fear, if we wallow in self-pity, we’re basically doing his work for him, and he’s happy to let us.  No matter what our situation, our choice boils down to this: Either we trust God, or we let Satan get the best of us.

I remember a few months back I was boo-hooing to a friend about the fact that I was going to have to have a mastectomy.  This was one of those days where I was just completely in meltdown mode.  She said, “Can you still fulfill God’s purpose for you without that breast?”  What could I say?  I had to admit that I could.  Yet I was still all wrapped up in myself, and at first I was kind of annoyed with her for asking.  “Yes,” I grumbled, I could still fulfill God’s purpose, blah, blah, blah, “BUT….” I started in again.  She wouldn’t leave me alone though, and I finally saw how self-focused I was being.

 Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m still not thrilled about giving up a breast.  You won’t hear me say ”Gee, I hope I can have another mastectomy for the glory of God!  In fact, my only regret is that I don’t have more breasts to sacrifice.”  If I do have another mastectomy, I’ll wish that it didn’t have to be so. 

It’s not wrong to grieve for our losses in life.  God created us with the ability to feel deeply.  However, we cannot build permanent homes in the desert.  God has better places in mind for us.  We must trust God, and keep moving.

Acts 26:16  says “Now get up and stand on your feet.  I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen of me and what I will show you.”

Can someone tell me what the first word of that passage was?  It was now.  Now.  Not “when I’ve got it all together”.  Not “when I get through this”. Not “when I’m as wise as so-and-so”.  Now.  Wherever you are—there is value there.  There is opportunity there.  God has work for you to do.  Don’t focus on yourself to the point of becoming cross-eyed and miss seeing the opportunities around you.

Now get up and stand on your feet. 

Blog Party

Hey there all you blog party surfers!  Welcome to In The Pink.  I’m your host, The Moody Foodie and over there on the sidebar you’ll see a picture of my persnickety prosthesis, The Foob. This blog began as a way to keep folks I know IRL up to date on this pesky breast cancer thing I’ve had going on for the past year or so, but don’t let that cause you to run the other direction.  We’re not all about The Cancer here at In The Pink.  On the contrary, The Cancer is just another circumstance that provides opportunities for some great stories.  No, not inspirational stories.  This ain’t Cup o’ Soup for the Cancerous Soul—it’s more like Deep Fried Snickers for Your Soul.  We’re talking funny stories, like the one where I got flashed by the crazy lady at the doctor’s office, or the time I got to try on my Aunt Phyllis’s hair in the wig shop.  You can even find out what I used a lint roller for during chemo, and how I feel about pink ribbon broccoli.  Does that sound like more fun than you can shake a stick at, or what?  

Chin City


That’s not really the greatest picture of me. It doesn’t really look like me. But, I posted it because after about 562 attempts, I finally managed to get one with only one chin. Even so, as you can see, it involved the use of a cowl neck sweater, a strange camera angle, a come hither look, and some flab rolled up and held in place with hair clips.

They say it takes more muscles to frown than to smile (Now you know why I smile a lot—I’m not happy, just slothful.) but I think the real question needs to be how many chins does it take to smile, because whenever I snap a smiley photo these days, there are at least three. And if I try my old standby trick of sticking out my chin in order to make my face look thinner, I only succeed in looking downright maniacal.

I didn’t think there could possibly be any worse pictures than the ones I’ve taken myself, until I saw a picture G’s mom took of me at the hospital when Macgyver was born. People, I have JOWLS! Jowls, I tell you! I look like Alfred Hitchcock, for crying out loud! And while I have always enjoyed Hitchcock’s work, I don’t want to look like him.

***************************

Somewhere I have an itch I need to scratch. It feels like an area in the radiated part of my chest needs a good scratching. The only problem is that I don’t have any feeling where I feel like I need to scratch. So, when I do scratch where I think my itch is residing, it just keeps on itching. Hubster’s theory is that my nerves are all jacked up from the surgery, and so my brain is getting signals telling me I itch in the wrong place. If that’s the case, I guess whenever I feel an itch I need to scratch everywhere else until I hit the right spot.

Maybe I should try scratching under my chins.

Colts Camp

Welcome to a very long post that has absolutely nothing to do with cancer. If you only visit here because of your keen interest in medical junk, move along. If, on the other hand, you just like reading my stories, please continue.*************************************

This has got to be my favorite bald picture yet.

Because Hubster is a Rose grad, we got an invitation to a dinner during Colts training camp. I thought it might be fun. Hubster, who has no interest in football in general, and only mild interest in the Colts—which is more by association with all the Colts freaks he works with than by any effort on his part—couldn’t go because of a church board meeting. However, we didn’t figure that out until we’d already sent in our RSVP. So, I ended up taking Hubster’s boss’s wife, who is a HUGE Colts fan. She is, in fact well past the point of normal fandom. Though we told everyone we were going to “dinner with the Colts” we didn’t know if anyone would be there other than Bill Polian, who was speaking.

Now, if you know me, you know that there aren’t too many famous people that I would really get excited about meeting. The only one I’ve ever gone out of my way to go meet was Cowboy Bob when he was at the Indiana State Museum. Other than that, I couldn’t care less. But here we were, going to dinner with the Colts, and I know that my companion has her Super Bowl program she’ll try to have signed, and I’m thinking, “Gee, I don’t have anything to get autographed…unless…” That’s when I decided to try to get my head signed. With a blue Sharpie. Heh heh.

I was specifically hoping to get my head signed by Tony Dungy. After all, we kind of look alike these days. Plus, I have a lot of respect for him. I also wanted photo documentation of the whole head-signing process, so that I could post it here. I think there’s just something about having a big bald chemo head that makes you kind of bold. Or at least it does if you’re me. Besides, I really don’t plan on being bald again, so this is like a once in a lifetime opportunity, right?

Alas, it was not to be. Bill Polian was the only member of the Colts organization at the dinner. And while he was an interesting speaker, he’s not head-signing material. See, I told you I don’t get excited about just any old famous person.

Now, about that picture.
Prior to the dinner, we went to the practice field to watch the team practice. If you live anywhere around here, you know it’s been stank nasty hot lately. Bill Polian commented that the heat index on the field was 116 degrees. As we were sitting there, sweating (it’s amazing how profusely one’s head sweats without hair to soak up the liquid) these guys show up. How their face paint wasn’t melting off, I’ll never know because folks, those suits they’re wearing are made of polar fleece! Crazy! People were taking their picture, and I said, “I’ve got to get my picture taken *with* these guys” because that’s way more fun than just taking a picture *of* them. And there I am. And it’s my favorite bald picture to date. Yea me.