Archives for posts with tag: Mt. Rainier National Park

Diane and I met over seven years ago. We went through breast cancer treatment at about the same time and we both blogged about it. We’ve stayed in touch through social media. Yesterday, we met face-to-face, for the first time.

That’s the short version of the story. The larger truth is that Diane and I joined a group of breast cancer bloggers who provided and continue to provide much needed connection, understanding, thoughtfulness, compassion, joy, and humor during the most vivid technicolor aspects of our lives from the traumatic, the ridiculous, the ecstatic, the sublime, and all of the places in between.

Some of us from that original group are still connected either through continued blogging or interaction on social media. Some of us have died in the past seven years from metastatic (stage IV) cancer. Others have left social media for reasons, perhaps, related to the progression of disease. Quite a few of us don’t blog anymore or like myself, write much less frequently, and when I do write, it is usually no longer about breast cancer.

Diane lives in Florida now. She traveled to Seattle to pick up a new Golden Retriever puppy, who she has named, Yukon. Those of you who know Diane, know about what her dogs mean to her, how much she loves them and her talents in training them to be prize winning bird dogs. As of this writing, Diane is still traveling around the area before she picks up Yukon.

Diane and I both love the outdoors, so last Wednesday, the day of our meeting, was spent hiking in Mt. Rainier National Park. We had great conversations during the four hour round trip of driving, as well as during the hike itself. Diane is a skilled photographer. This is something I knew about her. What I didn’t know is that she has studied visual arts pretty seriously. I learned a lot from her on the hike. She shared her knowledge of composition and photographic technique. Diane loves to take photos, as do I. It was so wonderful to share our love of photography as well as our love of nature.

Diane and I had a daylong conversation with easy-back-and-forth. Speaking for myself, I felt not even one moment of awkwardness. We had a wonderful time. I’ve long admired Diane’s tenacity, humor, generosity, no nonsense honesty, and intelligence. I admire her even more now that I’ve learned more about her and had the privilege of sharing a day in the mountains on a truly glorious fall day.

There is something really special about these cyber relationships. We’ve had years of supporting each other and cheering on each other’s health and happiness. I am really happy to have Diane as a friend as well as to have the love and support of this community.

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I am more comfortable giving than receiving emotional support. Nonetheless, I have found my self being “a friend in need” more than not recently. I have also been working a lot, trying to keep my head down, and keeping myself busy. It worked to a certain extent then it didn’t.

I had also planned a busy summer with lots of fun activities, spending time with friends, spending time with family, and spending time in nature. I was very much looking forward to spending three days with friends from out of town. I knew that it would be fun, they would have fun, and there would be some light and easy times.

And then it happened. I lost track of myself, my fatigue, and my anxiety. The beginning of the visit was marked by my anxiety and the bags under my eyes. I wasn’t fooling anyone. I was tired. I have slept solidly through the night once in the last two months and sometimes I am awake for a number of hours. Not sleeping well takes a major toll on me. I took on more than I could handle comfortably and then life gave me much much more. And I didn’t ask for enough help and when I didn’t do it in the way that solicits a whole lot of empathy.

Lo and behold, after a brief but intense temper tantrum, I got my shit together and focused on having a break from my daily grind, spending time with dear friends and with my husband. I had a wonderful three days. I went to mountains and islands. We talked and laughed. The tight worry in my chest and the cotton in my brain eased. I remembered what it is like to have relaxed joy.

Then I came back to my regularly scheduled program of life. I immediately picked up on the stress and anxiety in my household. Initially, I felt disappointment that I was getting wound up again so quickly. Then I remembered that I have skills. I have things to try. I started using paced breathing, a technique to strong emotions quickly. It worked. Today, I am feeling the anxiety again. And now I am writing, another strategy that helps. My heart is slowing and I am finding myself more and more in the present moment as I type these words.

I am a friend in need and I got the support I needed from both other people and from my own internal resources.

Today, I am grateful for my family.

Today, I am grateful for my friends.

Today, I am grateful for nature.

Today, I am grateful for my tenacity.

 

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