One Hundred Days of Simmering

Dear Diary,

Oh wait. This isn’t my diary. Or my journal. Or is it? No matter. Today is day 100 of the time I started counting my social isolation/ social distancing due to COVID-19. 100 days. When the stay-at-home mandate became true for everyone, I know I envisioned that besides working from home, I’d have lots of time to do all kinds of projects and get back to my blog. I never expected to acutely feel the effects of “ZOOM Fatigue” and long for the days of a commute to work.

Since it has been a while since my last blog post and I have a lot to say, pour yourself a nice iced coffee, glass of wine, high ball of whiskey or what-have-you and get comfy. Be prepared that the rest of this post will have a bit of rambling mixed in with a bunch of links to really cool people and resources. Check them out and even consider buying their products or donating to their non-profits. I am particular about where I spend my time and money, so you can know that I am only mentioning them if I fully support their work or product. I have a lot to share (I promise the next blog post will be shorter!) and I truly believe we were to CONNECT and no isolate, so let’s Mug Up!

The reason I know today is day 100 is that for some reason, a few days into the quarantine I started marking time by taking pictures of my fun socks (yes, I have a lot of socks, though not 100) and posted them as #socialisolationsocks. Yes, it is supposed to sound like Social Isolation SUCKS…

Long time readers of this blog will see that Julie created that hashtag. Julie Ann would have called it something more like #socialisolationfuckingsucks. Although it has been fun to come up with themes for the sock pictures, different settings and even a few dance parties, it does seem like now that I’ve started, I can’t stop until I’m able to go out and do the things I’ve been wanting do with people I miss so much.

This is definitely not how I saw March happening or even how I was going to use my Mug Up Mermaid social media pages when I mapped out a big plan back for the blog at the first of the year. So, at first I was thinking I’d just put socks on to cheer people up and keep my social media stuff going as I finished up what I really wanted to do with all things Mug Up. As we know, shit happens. Well actually, it ended up being more like a bumper sticker I used to have that said, “Grace Happens”…

I am well aware my last blog post was in November. NOVEMBER. Back then I was still working part time, trying to figure out how to do life in this new world of so many medical appointments, adjusting to medications, and I was building up stamina to work more hours. I knew there were a few more surgeries to get through, but compared to the past few years, they would be minor. Mostly, I was looking forward to a few special trips. I was headed to New Jersey (more on that below) in March and then a really big trip to Montana in May as a guest at Big Sky Yoga Retreats for the Cowgirls vs. Cancer program.

As for the blog, I started dreaming up a little non-profit to go with this blog. You could say I was thinking it would be “blog-adjacent”. Basically, I wanted to create an off-shoot just for cancer survivors and thrivers that would allow them to connect one-on-one with each other, both virtually and in person. I was going to use that new space for the “cancer” things and start writing on this blog about other things that were tugging at my heart. I created a private Facebook group and invited breast cancer friends I met from the Dempsey Center, My Breast Cancer Support, Betty J. Borry BreastCancer Retreats, the Warrior Revolution (do you know about Salty Girl Beauty??) and other private groups I was a part of and told them something was coming soon. I contacted local artists to help me make special mermaid coffee mugs that represented women in their new bodies after cancer (I haven’t forgotten you, Brendan Roddy Art) that would be customized and given out as new women joined the group. There are several saved drafts of the announcement as I waited for some of the pieces to come together and I was so excited.

Seriously, I was getting ready to kick ass! I had started to do some public speaking again, we bought a new house and I was asked to lead a workshop on journal writing for women in my church. I had gone to Boston to house-sit for my sister and wrote all kinds of plans in my journal and pages for my book as I enjoyed dining out at funky places near her house. While I was in Boston, I visited with my Goddaughter Kelsea and I CLIMBED the entire Bunker Hill Monument. 294 steps up. 294 steps down.

I figured my neuro oncologist would like this…

It was intense and probably only people who have truly thought they may never walk again without falling can appreciate that every step I was climbing felt like I was reclaiming parts of myself that I thought were gone.

I know that as athletic feats go, it’s really not that big of a deal. Definitely not like training for a marathon like my friends from the Joe Andruzzi Foundation Boston Marathon Team. But for me, it was a big middle finger to cancer, spine & brain issues, anxiety and all the other crappy health things I deal with. As my friend @boobambassador says, #feckcancer! I did it and it felt amazing.

#feckcancer

Later that month, just before the social isolation/distancing/quarantine started, I did have this brief, blessed moment of peace while at the same time, being very aware that everything was about to change. I, along with five other women were guests at Mary’s Place by the Sea in Ocean Grove, NJ. My friend Amy should have been there with us but that, perhaps, is a story for another day.

At Mary’s Place, their motto is “Providing a place for women with cancer to heal: mind, body, and soul”. It was absolutely all that, but for me, it also became a touchstone for that space in time before everything changed, again.

Aa COVID came into all of our lives, my forward momentum for my new project was definitely put on the back burner.

It’s not lost on me that when another C-word came into my life, other projects were put on that same back burner. Well, I’ve run out of burners and it is time to finish cooking up some of those plans.

Shortly after I was diagnosed with cancer, I started attending a special yoga class hosted by @YogaInAction. This became a place where I could be on “my mat” but also notice what was really happening in my body when I became still. My gentle and soulful instructor, Deanna, introduced me to a poem called “Allow” by Dana Faulds. I could quote any part of it here, but I’ll simply do as the King advises the White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland: “Begin at the beginning”. So, I invite you to sit with this truth…

“There is no controlling life. Try corralling a lightening bolt, containing a tornado. Dam a stream and it will create a new channel. Resist, and the time will sweep you off your fee. Allow, and grace will carry you to higher ground.”

~Dana Faulds, Allow

I read that poem a lot.

“Higher ground.” Yes. Re-reading the poem recently I realized there was a third C on my back burner. Yes, the stove in our new house actually does have three burners so this works…

The third C helps me accept that grace carries me to higher ground instead of leaving me feeling like I’m drowning. That grace comes from my faith in Christ. Like the philosophy that is at the heart of Mary’s Place, my quarantine time has given me additional time to heal my mind, body, and soul. It’s the soul stuff that will always simmer in me no matter what I’m cooking up, and I am so grateful. I am ready to allow.

Like many of you, I am still in quarantine and I’ve basically only left the house for medical appointments. The #socialisolationsocks posts will continue for now, but I am also ready to work on some of the back burner items because I feel like I’ve been carried to a place that is ready for what has been simmering.

If you are you are a breast cancer patient, survivor, thriver, previvor, breastie… you know who you are, please drop me a private message and I’ll invite you to the new group just for us. I can’t wait to tell you all about it! Yes, it will be mostly virtual for now, but I look forward to the day when we can have a “Mermaid Mug Up” in person. For everyone else, this blog will start to change a bit as I want to explore other things like art and writing and movement. I still want to have guest bloggers, so hit me up if you are interested. Lastly, the name of this blog might change but that is still in one of the pots on the back burner, simmering away until it is time. Suggestions are welcome! Until next time, you can keep up with the sock adventures and maybe you’ll see some teasers on things to come by liking and following Mug Up Mermaid’s Instagram and Facebook pages. Oh, and get in on the fun! Show us your #socialisolationsocks! Maybe there will be a contest coming up…

~Mug Up Mermaid

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