The dirty work.

I am so happy to be officially off my medical leave and back at work!  I was able to transfer from Payroll & Accounting to Animal Care at the animal welfare organization that I have worked at for the past year.  I have received some amusing comments/questions and confused looks from my co-workers who know me as the lady who does payroll.  One told me that I finally decided to come down and get my hands dirty.  Well, that’s what the gloves are for, my hands stay perfectly clean. The rest of me I can’t comment on, but let’s just say that I take all my clothes off as soon as I walk into my house!  I have gone from business casual in a cubicle to khakis and a t-shirt cleaning animal kennels, and they all want to know why. Wednesday, I was even congratulated and thanked for making it through my first day without quitting!

I love my new position, with the exception of starting at 6am.  I haven’t had nearly enough coffee by 6am!  I’m so busy cleaning kennels and feeding the critters, that I only notice the passage of time by my hunger for lunch.  I am definitely getting a work-out.  I’m learning a lot about the different animals, and myself.  For instance, in just two days time, I am now pretty much terrified of chihuahuas. Ok, only the scared or angry ones.  Also, small breed dogs seem to poop a lot more than the big guys . I’m pretty sure that a great-dane snuck into a little terrier’s kennel last night just to go poop.

With all the scrubbing and hosing and chasing of dogs (oh yeah, I’ve had three escapees in two days), I don’t have any time to think of brain tumor Bob.  Except when I think to myself, “huh, I’m not thinking about the brain tumor” or when someone stops me to ask why I decided to work in Animal Care instead of Accounting. The appropriate answer to that question is NOT, “I have a brain tumor, took some time off, then decided that I’d rather work in a less mentally stressful environment and interact with the animals so that I don’t think about my brain tumor all day.”  It makes people uncomfortable.  Which can sometimes be fun. 😉

Six days until my next MRI, but who’s counting?

I think back to when I quit drinking alcohol 18 years ago and remember how obsessed I was about NOT drinking, every day, for months and months.  Eventually, not drinking became my new normal, it was no longer an “issue” that I struggled with.  That experience led me to a faith that I never wanted or considered before. The faith that I have gained gives me hope that there will come a time when I am not obsessed with having a brain tumor, and that I will get to another new normal.

Thank you for reading.  More will be revealed…

Love,

Dawn

Good ol’ St. Francis

I have to be honest, I used to flat out hate the prayer of St. Francis.  Do you know that one?   It’s all about being nice and helping others, disregarding my own ego. Are you kidding me?

st francis prayer

I didn’t grow up with any religion, and first heard and read this prayer when I got into recovery for my alcoholism.  That was NOT what I wanted to hear, let alone aspire to feel/believe/follow. I just wanted to feel better, and wanted to be the one being understood, consoled, pardoned, and loved.  I felt that I had nothing to give to anyone else, I was all tapped out.

It has been a challenging journey since then, with one AFGO after another. (AFGO = Another F’ing Growth Opportunity)  A journey to understand myself, learning to accept love, forgiving myself and others. I began to pray, not out of faith, but out of pure desperation, to be relieved of my misery. I followed (and continue to follow) a path laid out before me by others who walked a similar path and who were more content and joyful than I thought would ever be possible for me. I eventually came to believe that it was possible to choose joy and serenity regardless of outside conditions. Not that I always make that choice (I am a stubborn human being after all, just ask my mom!)

I am grateful for all of the experiences that I have had, and for my commitment to the recovery journey, for without it, I would be lost at sea with no compass right now.  I have had years of developing my faith, years of retrospect that prayers do work (whether one refers to them as sending positive vibes, good energy, tapping into the power of the Universe, etc.) and that God’s plan is always way bigger and better than any of my own plans or expectations.

Any bit of grace or inspiration that I have or can offer as I walk, crawl, or cry through this situation, comes from my faith in One much greater than I, which I believe is deep inside every one of us.

I have the prayer of St. Francis taped above my computer where I can see it, read it, and pray it with earnest every day. It brings me peace, as I pray to shine a little light into the darkness.

Thank you for reading.  More will be revealed…

Love, Dawn

Living the dream.

Do you ever hear the same parable, advice, or message spoken many times in different ways by different people, and one time it finally clicks?  This happens to me a lot.  Today’s message that finally “clicked” for me is that to live an inspired life allows others to also live an inspired life, it doesn’t do anyone any good to play small.  That’s a paraphrase, I don’t remember exactly how the woman speaking today actually said it, but that’s what it meant to me when I heard her.

Previously, when I would have an inspiration to write a poem, a story, create art, or come up with a great idea, my inner critic would shout at me, “who do you think you are to suppose you have anything to say?”  Everything has already been said, thought of, or created by much more talented people than I.  So I would shrink my creative spirit back down inside.

So, what does an inspired life look like?  Becoming a famous novelist?  Becoming an award-winning talk-show host? Winning a Nobel Peace Prize?  That’s how I used to look at it, which automatically left me feeling defeated.  I’ve spent so much of my life in “survival mode,” working to just get by.  I would envy people with more than me who seemed to have all the opportunity, talent, and fun.

Today, I know that I have the power to choose to live an inspired life, no matter what my circumstances.  What that looks like for me, for now: being truly grateful for all that I have, taking and sharing photographs (with just my iPhone 4) and loving them, writing (this blog, with short stories percolating in my head now…)  and trying new things outside of my comfort zone.  I may not have anything new to say or create, but I am expressing myself and in general living out loud!

I had to go and get a brain tumor to change my perspective, but I am immensely grateful for my new outlook.  Being confronted in this way led me deeper into meditation, prayer, and exploring quantum physics (don’t ask).

In case you were waiting for permission: go ahead, live an inspired life, whatever that feels like to you!  It’s super-awesome fun!

Thank you all for your ongoing encouragement, prayers, and positivity… more will be revealed.

Love & gratitude,

Dawn

A few of my photos:

white flower at elk meadow  Saffie at Elk meadow

tree trunk

Boxing with Bob

Learning to box with Bob
Learning to box with Bob

Have you noticed that when people survive life-threatening (perceived or real) situations, they suddenly start running marathons or climbing mountains?  I have always been curious about that, whenever coming across an inspirational story about a survivor of some disaster who went on to achieve an awesome physical feat.  Me, not so athletic. Hate the gym, running makes my knees hurt, I find cycling boring (shhh, don’t tell or I’ll get kicked out of Colorado) ain’t nobody got time for that.  Aside from “hiking” (really just a stroll in the woods with my dog), I’m basically a slouch, thank you very much.

And then, there was Bob. Ok, it took me seven weeks after the discovery of Bob to find the motivation, but it was there, covered over by mountains of anxiety and the incessant need to sleep through my feelings.

I took my first ever boxing class this evening!  I know, I’m amazed at myself too, and I know me better than you do. I felt so intimidated when I walked in, especially having gone alone (well, Bob’s always with me, so I guess I’m never alone.)  But I was warmly welcomed and introduced.  When asked about any medical conditions I laughed and said, “Other than the brain tumor, my left rotator cuff is a little tweaked.”  Laughing while mentioning having a brain tumor really throws people.

I feel stronger already.  As a friend said later, punching the sh*t out of something is very therapeutic. I’ll definitely be going back for more.  Taking action to get stronger in body, mind, and spirit is life-affirming and gives me some sense of helping myself to heal.

Thank you for reading. More will be revealed…

Love & Light,

Dawn