Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Slow and Steady

The summer is half over and I am approaching the third anniversary of my diagnosis. I think it is the best summer that I have had since my children were born. It has been so different from other summers. First of all, we have stayed home for most of the summer rather than traveling for weeks at a time (Hawaii was only a week and totally restorative). Second, I am feeling much stronger and well rested than I have for a while and third, the children are growing into little people.

It has been relaxing. We have enjoyed our home, our friends and our swim club. I guess that we are finally settling in after living here for almost five years. We are also farther away from the trauma of cancer so we seem more normal, even if it is an altered state of normal.

It is at times like these that I pause and try to figure out what is next. The children seem in a good place emotionally and I don’t feel their fragility quite as often as I have over the past couple of years. “They will be okay,” I tell myself on a regular basis. “They need to be more independent.”

With this independence comes more freedom for me to pursue whatever life goals I have. I know I want to continue to pursue my writing, but in what capacity? Blogging has opened a new world for me and I will continue this blog as long as I have anyone that is interested in my prattle. I will also continue to refine my memoir (which needs a lot of refining).

What else will I do? I used to do so much; maybe too much. Now I want to strike a balance between being fulfilled and being overwhelmed. How much more can I add to my plate before it is full? I worry about that. Because just as sure as my name is Jeanne, someone will get sick or perhaps have an emotional breakdown and I will have to pick up the pieces; putting my life on hold once again.

So as I look forward with trepidation about the future, I will tread lightly. I will try not to overextend myself as I continue to try to “move out of the nineteen fifties and into the twenty first century,” as Luke would say. Slowly and methodically, I know I will arrive just where I am supposed to be.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


We are in Hawaii. It is beautiful and breathtaking. The water is azure and calm. You can swim out to the coral reef right off of the beach and look at the butterfly fish. We are vacationing in paradise.

My husband is attending a conference and I invited myself and my two children along. As I sit and watch the gentle waves on the beach I start to think about the few times that I have been to Hawaii in my life. Each time I have visited this state, it is right before my life takes a major turn.

The first time I was here I was just seven years old and we were moving back to Chicago from Australia. We spent two and a half years living in Perth and Melbourne. I loved our life abroad and did not want to return to the states. I even had an Australian accent. I remember the long flight from Sydney to Honolulu and my sadness as we left our home behind.

Even so, I quickly adjusted to the change as I marveled at the clear water and palm trees on the way to the hotel. After we settled in, I swam on Waikiki beach with my sister and brother. I was seven years old. Now, I am here with my seven year old daughter swimming on Waikiki beach and marveling at the natural beauty all over again.

The next time I came to Hawaii I was twenty eight. My boyfriend had a conference at the same hotel we are staying in this visit and I tagged along (you can see where this is going). I was in love. Not just with this island paradise but with my boyfriend too. I thought for sure that he would ask me to marry him as the sun set in the background on a beach in Kauai. Instead, I got a t-shirt from the local store in Hanalei. My hopes of telling everyone at Christmas dinner I was engaged were dashed. Three months later; however, I would get the ring I was waiting for from the man of my dreams and a new chapter in my life would begin again.

I am enjoying this trip immensely and wondering if there is a change in store for me when I return home. I already feel different. I want more independence from my children and I want more for myself. Maybe I am growing up a bit just as they are. I want to be more than just a “mom.” I want more of my old self; the person who has an identity outside of my family. I suddenly remember who she is.

Maybe it took coming all the way back to this island in the Pacific to remember all of the things that I wanted from my life. Now hopefully, I can continue to pursue my dreams and be more of the person I used to be.