noun: renegade; plural noun: renegades
1. a person who deserts and betrays an organization, country, or set of principles.
Feeling a bit like a renegade these days. I got the coolest haircut – my hair had grown in a bit to a short, short pixie hair cut (still not enough to spike it up with any hair product). I’d seen photos of the writer Suleika Jaouad where she had her hair shaved into fun patterns and afterwards she wrote about how, following her battle with cancer, getting her hair cut as such helped set her free because for once she wasn’t the one without hair or with short, short hair – but for once people she didn’t even know were calling out to her about how cool her haircut was. Cancer wouldn’t let her hide so she made herself stand out even more and by doing so, regained control.
This is how I feel about my haircut. I no longer look like a woman with a super short pixie (come on, it was still a little too short if you know what I  mean). Now I look edgy and artsy. I look like I intentionally buzzed my hair and turned myself into walking art, and I like it. The pixie was cute and I’ll continue to grow my hair out on top but along the sides and back it’s too much to keep so short. I’ll grow it out as the top grows out more. I want to try other designs, other moods in my hair.
The guy that cut my hair was amazing. I’m so happy to have found him. I got his name from the local hospital from one of my chemo nurses at my last Herceptin treatment. I cannot wait to show her what he did! He said that normally hair grows in in 3-4 weeks and the cut isn’t as great and gets fuzzy. I’m still wondering if my hair will grow as fast. Time will tell. For now, it’s truly empowering to be in charge of the artwork on my head and to stand out and feel my artistic side showing itself. Makes me want to do more – dress more with a certain style to match. Try something new.
My job is so corporate but I live in such an accepting town that pushing this envelop is very comfortable here. Only my mother wasn’t as excited but I’m sure she’ll warm up to it in time, especially to different designs. I’m likely to hit something she may like more than my first design.
I haven’t been posting much as all lately. I haven’t needed to vent or let any thoughts out. I wanted to make sure to call out my hair cut and share my excitement here but that’s about it. Lately I’ve been hitting a new groove that is all about habits. This getting old thing is for the birds and the cancer thing was way less than fun. Following a “challenge” that I participated in at my gym, I’ve now established a few really good habits/rules for myself:
1. 64 oz water a day (first 32 to be had before leaving for work, second 32 oz to be finished by the time I leave work)
2. vitamin daily
3. probiotic daily
4. fish oil daily
5. Tamoxifen daily (for the next 5 years….)
6. moisturize full body after any shower
7. brush my teeth 2x day with electric brusher
8. sleep – go to bed after putting the daughter to sleep, 9 pm to bed to get all the sleep I need
9. go to bed with a sleep/hypno app – straight to sleep so easily with it!
10. if I wake up in the morning and cannot get back to sleep – enjoy being all tucked in and meditate for a while before getting up
11. leave my computer at work
12. try to eat healthy the majority of the time (lots of fresh fruit, carrots, beets)
13. connection – keep in touch with friends, call, write, text, stop by their office at work, stop and catch up, find out how they are doing, focus outward not inward
14. no TV (fill this time with hanging out with the daughter! color, do arts and crafts, go outside, read, cook, go shopping, etc.)
15.  minimal newspaper – or just skim but don’t read the full articles if the article title talks about death, dying, murder, fatalities, or anything else like that – read titles so I’m aware of what’s up but I don’t let myself get pulled into the depths of the details day in and day out. It’s too much for me to carry around. Since I’ve removed TV and adjusted how I read the newspaper I feel much lighter – it’s easier to focus on the good things in my life or focus on supporting my friends who need my support due to challenges they are being faced with.
16. crossfit 3 x week
17. Live in the present – not worrying about yesterday, fretting about what might be tomorrow or crying about something I cannot change. Just be, and be happy, be grateful, be supportive, be compassionate, be me.
I dunno – I was telling someone at work today how I used to say that I felt everything has slowed down so much for me at work. Now I feel like I’m finally hitting a little more of a stride and that oddly, I think I know what’s different – it’s the anxiety. It’s not there anymore hovering over me, making me feel rushed and worried. It’s just not the same. It’s a very nice and welcome change and I hope that everything I’ve listed above will help me retain my strength and happiness. I believe it will.
Sorry – my posts are less focused now that I’m healthier. Odd how that works. I’m back to my old rambling self trying to find a new path forward for myself. As for being a renegade – I just heard this song recently by X Ambassadors call Renegade and really liked it. Kind of feel like a renegade in that I no longer live to work, I now work to live. By limiting myself to 40 hrs or so a week, leaving my computer at home, getting outside of my job after hours I give myself a huge gift – the gift of a break from thinking about things. It’s now easier to come in each day with a fresh perspective. I think I truly am working more efficiently, making better decisions. Doing less but doing the better things, the more impactful things (well, trying to at least – this is a continued work in progress for me, especially given my job). Still feel guilty some times as compared to some colleagues but I fully acknowledge that they have made the decision for themselves to work so many hours, just as I have decided to work what I’m paid to work and do the best that I can while I am there. Hopefully some day I won’t feel guilty about this, but I think that’s still a long way off.

Same but Not

Things are confusing. Things are weird. They aren’t what they are and they are moving to something new, but I just don’t know what yet. It’s very unsettling.

After 3 weeks off for the surgery in August I took it upon myself to retain my calmer, quieter mind. I continue with the hypno-therapy sleep app that is amazing – and keeping work at work. When the anxiety or work thoughts enter my mind I simply push them away and tell myself that it’s not time for work right now, so I’m not going to think about things. This has helped keep my stress levels down a bit but not always – sometimes thoughts still creep in.

I cannot tell if its the quieter mind that makes me feel slower of mind or just that I really am slower in the mind. I have to admit that I my organization skills weren’t what they were. I think it’s honestly it’s likely more due to age than to the residual chemo effects – but whatever it is, it is very unnerving and annoying. Part of it is that I just cannot remember some things easily – someone tells me there name and 2 seconds later it’s gone (true, this also used to happen a bit but I think it might be worse). Also – at work, I can have entire conversations and if I’m not writing things down nearly verbatim, I will end the conversation and not have the key points clear in my mind. It’s like it is all jumbled up and I stare at the information and have to figure out how to untangle the mess in my brain before I can even move forward and do what needs to be done. It wasn’t like that before. I keep finding myself staring at my computer thinking – what do I do with this? How do I use this information? Where does this piece go?  Probably doesn’t help that we just went through a huge, new brainstorming exercise that just feels so alien to me – I’m so far out of my comfort zone right now with some things at work – that I feel like I’m wandering through a fog, slowly with zero progress and everyone else around me is zipping here and there and is busy, busy busy! and I refuse to be insane and anxiety driven anymore, so I continue to slowly, I would hope methodically (though it just doesn’t happen this way!) keep moving – but instead I feel lost – like a sailor lost at see on a small life raft floating – watching the horizon for land. It’s been very, very frustrating and this feeling has continued for a while. I wish I could shake it but I think, especially at work where it is most prevalent, that I need to just keep going until I come out the other end. Doesn’t help that I have a new boss this year who is the most hands off, cares and provides feedback at the highest levels only and really doesn’t care about the day to day what’s going on. It’s unnerving – to have to continually try to drive myself forward for progress – I respond well (VERY well) to “good job” – “do this” “make sure x,y,z” – etc. and a little pushing and there’s just none of that in the same manner that I’m accustomed to. I email things and they going into some black box and I never get feedback. I follow up different ways in meetings and still, it is like pulling teeth to get more feedback.  Why pull? Why ask? Why communicate so much – If she isn’t going to be as engaged until it suits her whim, I’m not going to push as hard – just not worth it. Should be, but just isn’t. Lost my motivation. It comes and goes but mostly goes these days. Work is work – it’s not engaging it just is. And I kind of miss engaging work. Have to figure out how to get the excitement back. The organization back. There is much to do and I thought this year would be different and well, it has been but just not the way I thought it would be. Shame fests a la Brene Brown are often some weeks. At least thanks to her I recognize them and remind myself that I am worthy and I am enough. Just need to keep saying it. Refocus. Refocus. Move forward. Baby steps. Things are different now and it’s unsettling but if I just keep moving forward eventually I’ll be out of this dratted, F$%^$! up work tunnel I feel like I’m in. And of course – breath – doing much more of this thanks to that nightly hypno/sleep tape.

Silly But True

My hair is slowly growing in. I can still see my scalp through it – especially noticeable in pictures – even though it looks so much better!  Silly thing is that I now wash AND condition it in the shower. I barely have any hair but I believe in great hair care so I’m using the nicest conditioner in the house!!

On another note – my husband had shaved his head a second time since mine started growing back and he has passed me again in thickness and length. I joked with him that he should shave it one more time and see if his hair can still out-grow mine. At least mine is coming. I’ve received many compliments on the shape of my head, and some folks really do seem to like the super-short hairdo. Can’t complain with the maintenance!