Posted in Self Help, Self Love

Stress…Less

How are you feeling today?

It’s a question we should be asking ourselves daily. Especially if we are going through some difficult episodes in life. And, I think over the last year we probably would all qualify on that account.

I’ve been on a month long or more hiatus, taking care of my family, and taking care of myself. People say it all the time that we need to take care of ourselves first, but rarely do we do it. Some times our body let’s us know when we’ve reached a critical point though, and we all need to heed the warning.

I felt myself slipping back into a a place I sat for a long while not that long ago, and I knew I couldn’t go back there. I’ve been eating healthy, exercising, and taking time for myself more often. At times I feel selfish for spending time on myself, but if I don’t, who will? It’s a serious question to ask yourself.

It’s easy to feel ourselves slipping when we are aware of the symptoms so make a mental note of the warning signs. Stress really can kill us, and at the very least it can alter our health before we recognize it.

For me, I knew I was struggling, but before I realized it I was sick. And, it’s not a sickness like you may be thinking. It’s a sickness that affects your overall mental and physical health. There are many warning signs:

  • high blood pressure
  • headaches
  • digestive or stomach problems
  • weight loss or gain
  • depression or anxiety
  • sleep problems
  • chronic fatigue
  • chest pain or heart palpitations

And, how do I know?

Because I suffered from all of the signs at one point or another. And, they are all signs of an over-stressed body. Mentally exhausted to the extreme of where I could not cognitively recover on my own.

I am happy to say I still have bad days, but lately it’s no longer bad weeks. I call that a win. Positivity, finding the good in everything, staying focused, entertaining a very small circle, and being grateful are good habits to portray. We are not all going through the same storms, but we are all dealing with challenges in our lives.

Up until this point my path has been filled with darkness, fear, despair. But, as my mind gets stronger, I can see my strength brings light. It is not as if I still don’t have feelings of fear, but I know wherever my path takes me I am more prepared for whatever I may encounter.

I am on a mission. Watch and see.

Posted in Self Help

Pass it on…

Is it really almost September?

I look back and think the last eight months have been pretty much a blur. Kids had an extended break from school, were back and forth from college, and at times cancer even took a back seat in my mind thanks to a much needed break from dealing with it.

So many people have said they just want this year to be over with, but I tend to not lean in that direction thinking it could be precious time I’m giving up. None of us are promised tomorrow, so what if that meant we were wishing our last days away?

I imagine that’s not something any of us are ready to think about.

I’ll be the first to admit I want life to be more like it used to be, back to normal (whatever that is), and a little less stressed and uncertain. But, like I’ve said before, cancer took all that away from our family long before this virus did.

Cancer has taught me a lot, and this virus is teaching me even more.

I’m tired of wearing a mask, tired of social distancing, tired of not being able to get out as much. However, I’m not tired of being with my family, having the kids at home more often, or focusing on being together more than being on the go. I’m sure part of me will look back on this year and find there’s much about it to love.

Time is something we cannot get back, and our kids will never be as young as they were this summer. They aren’t getting younger, and our time with them is precious.

I hope people haven’t forgotten to stop and smell the roses. Too busy arguing or debating or disagreeing about whether or not the pandemic is valid. Not enough time looking for a silver lining.

We are all dealing with something.

If you believe in fate, or everything happens for a reason, or the way it’s suppose to happen, then maybe, just maybe all this is part of a bigger picture. Maybe this is a wake up call for us to get it together.

Maybe we should just be nice or build each other up or throw out a compliment here and there and maybe, just maybe, respect other opinions even if they aren’t our own. Maybe we should be thinking of this “break” from life as something that is much needed.

I know I will never regret the extra days, extra moments, extra memories my children got to share with their dad this summer. In the back of my mind, I know it is golden.

I do realize enough is enough though.

Summer is coming to an end. Kids are attempting to get back to class.

Our mental health is at stake in many cases. More often than not life is a challenge, and it takes a conscious effort to stay positive and upbeat.

We cannot let what is happening in our society divide us or keep us down. We can’t afford that.

Success is not final, failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts.

Winston Churchill

I know depression and anxiety are mounding, people are struggling, and no one can take much more. People are grappling with this restricted way of life. They don’t get up, get dressed, put on makeup. They don’t leave the house, or get out, or have much social interaction. They’ve let themselves go.

Physically and mentally.

And, that’s not a good thing.

I made a new friend on social media last week, because I felt the need to help someone who needed some encouragement. It reminded me of the chaos my life has been in for the last two years, the times I felt I wasn’t strong enough to deal with it, and it also reminded me of how much better I am because of it. So, I decided I needed to pass that on.

It’s not an everyday thing we wake up with. Strength that is. I pray for it all the time, sometimes multiple times in a day.

Especially in a world where there is so much commotion, we have to learn to quiet the noise in our head. It is our hope. And, I don’t want anyone to lose hope.

Ever!

If you’re going through hell keep going.

Winston Churchill

If you ever feel yourself losing hope, losing your positive edge, keep going. Some days hope is all we have, and we can never lose sight of it.

We are better than that.

We are strong, beautiful souls.

So I say, lift each other up. Give a compliment a day, say hello to a stranger at the grocery, smile, check on a friend. It simply takes a minute to say a kind word, to brighten someone’s day, give them a boost, to pray for them. Pass on your positivity.

And, we just may be the one person who brightens someone’s day, who makes a person realize how valuable they are, or gives a ray of hope to someone who has lost it.

Positive thoughts. Positive vibes.

They can be contagious. Pass them on.

In a couple of weeks I may be a hot mess, but today, I know I am strong and focused and in the right mindset.

Today, that’s all I need to think about.

One day at a time. Pass it on.

I know where I’ve been and how far I’ve come. And, I know where I want to go. I may not always know how to get there, but the Lord is leading me on my path, and I know I can trust the journey.

Today, it’s a good day. Pass it on…

Posted in Self Help

Out of Touch

Can we be honest?

I’m not going to lie! Lately, I’ve been a little out of touch because I have been wrestling with staying upbeat. I mean I’ve been super busy with family and kids and life, but who can’t say that?

Hubby mentioned the other day he hadn’t seen a blog post in awhile. Yeah, it’s true. I have been off the grid a little more than normal, but actually, I kind of like it. It’s hard to be social and happy while grappling with the weights on your shoulders.

Not that cancer isn’t enough of a nasty curve ball, but this crazy pandemic, a country divided, all the hate and evil amongst us.

What happened to us?

What happened to the free and the brave?

What happened to our America the Beautiful?

It’s shameful the only unity we have is we take life for granted. Think about that for a minute.

Well, unless of course you’re dying or terminally ill.

Do you realize ALL the people who are dying of cancer?

I bet those people don’t abuse the life they were given, wasting it away on fighting with their neighbors.

Life is much easier in a bubble.

I’ve never thought of myself as socially shy. I don’t have a problem talking to people, but I do have a problem pretending. And, I do get social anxiety. It takes a lot of effort to put on a smile and pretend I am mentally strong. It takes energy to make everyone believe I am OK when I’m not.

I AM mentally strong. Some days I just don’t want to be.

Living with cancer in your household is emotional. It’s a roller coaster, ups and downs, twists and turns. Even when it’s not front and center, it’s there lurking. Just a thought away, a reminder somewhere you turn.

You live with it, without a choice.

All.

The.

Time.

I am learning to manuever that obstacle. For myself, to support my children, my hubby. I’ve learned if I don’t take care of ME, there won’t be enough to go around.

Family is priority so I hope no one takes it personally when I decline an invite, or seem disengaged, or silent. Sometimes our schedule doesn’t allow for socializing, and other times we would love to hang out. And sometimes, we just aren’t up for company.

It has been a hard few months. Cancer just took one dear soul from us. I know people who recently got diagnosed. I know lots of people who are fighting. And, it all hits too close to home.

There’s a daughter taking a last minute trip to see her dad who is fighting for his life. There’s a mother counting down the debilitating chemo treatments she takes her terminally ill son to every couple of weeks. There’s a wife in the cancer center who is puzzled about how her husband got mesothelioma but was never exposed to the contaminants. There’s the husband grieving for his wife, the children who lost their mother, the women who lost their best friend.

None of them have a choice.

I look at my children, my husband and then in the mirror at myself.

It’s difficult to cope some days, and I can sense the world wanting to crumble around me. All the suffering and pain just floods my head to the point I feel like I’m drowning in it. My head hurts. I’m tired. No energy. No will to do anything.

Some days it’s too much. But, that’s not every day. I’m not going to set up camp there.

Some days are good. Some days I’m motivated and have the drive to conquer the world.

Some people tell me not to focus on all those situations or not to be a part of those cancer groups because it just makes me upset. What they don’t realize is what else it does to me.

It helps me NOT feel so alone.

Summer has been good for me in the sense I can just focus on my family and stay out of any kind of scene. It’s a good distraction to be able to listen to the ocean, sit out and soak up the sun, hang out with my family. It’s been good to make the most out of a bad time in our country by us all just being together.

Some days I’m happy to not share anything or feel vulnerable. I don’t mind sharing when I have my head on straight and the energy to help others; however, when a battle is going on inside my head, it’s hard to help myself much less anyone else.

Sometimes it’s just easier to cope when you stay out of touch.

β€œEnter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”

Matthew 7:13-14
Posted in Cancer

A Time to Mourn

The life of being married to a cancer patient has taken me down a path that has humbled me, exemplified my faith, strengthened me in more ways than I knew existed, and introduced me to people I would never have known otherwise.

Being a regular at the cancer center has acquainted me with the same familiar faces week after week, month after month. I have had some people touch my life who are gone now, but not forgotten. I have made friends I stay in touch with and wondered about others I never see. This illness has impacted my life in more ways than I can explain, but also, it has taught me there is more to life than what’s on the surface.

Much more.

I wouldn’t wish this journey on anyone, but knowing the people who are facing the same difficult obstacles brings a sort of comfort to the situation. It makes me realize none of us are fighting alone. We are all cheering each other on, and we are in this together.

When another cancer patient has a setback, we all experience the punch. We can relate. We feel it in the gut. It hurts.

We are rooting for the same results. Clear margins, remission, NED, a miracle. We are supporting each other, begging for success, hoping for clear scans, praying for a cure.

And sometimes, we don’t get it. Sometimes we lose, and all that’s left is grief.

A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;”

Ecclesiastes 3:4

Grief is a funny thing. In all the sadness we look for sunshine. We search for the good and the happy and all the ways possible to figure out how to make our hearts not ache.

There are moments we feel we cannot breathe, or muster up enough strength to push forward. The minutes become hours and the hours run together with the days into a blur, living in the midst of a broken heart. There’s no glue that can fix that, or so we think.

Sometimes it is hard to see what is right in front of us. The people surrounding us that love us, grieve with us. Our precious children, our friends, our family. They all weep with us and for us when we lose someone we love.

It is hard to recognize in that instant we have moments and memories to fill the void. Sometimes we just need a minute to process it all, to mourn, to find peace, to be sad. Just for awhile we need to grieve for what we have lost.

I believe in all my heart grief has a silver lining. In my mind, in the very center of it there is a bright light. I imagine it to be the brightest light ever, one that isn’t blinding, that brings a sense of comfort and peace. One that warms my heart, brings a smile to my face, one that offers contentment and eases my mind, calms my heart and soul.

I imagine serenity will come in time. The sorrow will subside. The heart will slowly mend.

I pray for us all that the silver lining will always reveal itself and that in the midst of our grief the Lord will soothe our souls and give us the strength we need to go on. Today, I pray for all those who mourn. xo

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”

Matthew 5:4

Heaven gained a beautiful soul, an Angel today. It hits too close to home, but I was lucky to know her, to call her a fellow baseball mom, a friend, a great supporter. She undoubtedly gave me a comfort I never revealed to her, a courage, a sense of strength, and a feeling that I was never alone. I hated what she must be going through as a mother, a wife, a cancer patient, but from my perspective she was the epitome of strength, grace, and beauty. She comforted my soul, made my loneliness subside, and soothed my broken heart in some unexplainable way. Her and her family are like a mirror of mine, facing many of the same hurdles and pain on our individual paths. Many days I thought of her, prayed for her, and imagined we must each be able to relate to the other’s spouse during our separate journeys. Today, I pray for her family, her friends and all those who knew her. May she rest in peace. #sarahstrong #ocockstrong

Posted in Devotional

Fear or Faith?

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

John 1:1-5

I have always been a christian, just at times a better one than others. We have all faltered in our life in one area or another, right?

I will spare everyone my lifetime of church and worshiping; however, in my younger days church and God was a big part of my life. Then later, there was a time I was very angry at God. I was angy at several things, several people. I guess for awhile I didn’t realize how angry.

In the last several years, my life, like many moms, has transformed into something I hadn’t prepared for early on. My children were growing up. I had wanted to go back to work, fulfill my ambitions, and put some accomplishments under my own belt. I found myself wondering why I hadn’t started already. Why I didn’t go back to school and get another degree? I had talked about several avenues, but I hadn’t started down any of the paths.

But, maybe I didn’t because it wasn’t the time. I know that now.

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:  a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot,  a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build,  a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance,  a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,

Ecclesiastes 3:1-5

After my husband was diagnosed with cancer I struggled for awhile. The anger, the uncertainty, my children, our family, my plans. It was all too much to digest and think about.

For a long time it took great effort to get off the couch everyday. My world was just a very unfamiliar, dark and lonely place I didn’t want to be in. I worried about everything, stressed over anything, and was so unsettled about all things. It was overwhelming, affected my health in a number of ways, and made me a mental mess. My heart was broken, suffering for my children, and honestly it still is.

But, if I have realized anything about this pain stricken journey it is one thing…you can never lose hope. When tragedy strikes you have to have something to hold on to.

I have faced an abundance of fear, most often without a say, but I have learned over time to do it with grace, love and a great deal of prayer. With the help of a few supportive people who have become so close to my heart, I have learned I cannot get through these obstacles without God.

Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”

Isaiah 41:10

Trust those who love and support you and trust in the Lord. It is all we can hope for, and without it we will live with a fear that will adversely affect how we live our lives.

I have heard so often, in many situations lately, that we cannot have both fear and faith. It is the truth! We must choose one. Either we trust in the Lord and choose faith, or we worry and have fear in everything.

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

Hebrews 11:1

When I stopped being mad at God I found my faith again. My mind was less confused, my heart was less burdened, and my overall health started to improve. I stopped worrying so much, I didn’t stress as often, and I found myself at peace more often than not.

Fear brings worry and stress and pain and uncertainty in everything happening in our lives. It steals our joy, robs us of our peace and makes us question everything by living in an apprehensive state. Fear is a denial that God will take care of everything.

Faith is a gift from God. If we trust in Him, study His word and use it in prayer, our faith will grow. It’s not an achievement or something we find in ourselves, but rather something we are gifted when we put our belief in the Lord.

The only thing we should fear in our life is God Himself.

Whoever fears the Lord has a secure fortress, and for their children it will be a refuge.

Proverbs 14:26

Just as we grow in trust in our relationships with our fellow man, we must also grow in our relationship with God. The more we pray, the more we use scripture in our prayers, and the more we trust the closer we become to Him. Fear comes from the trials we face, but trusting in God during these times makes our faith stronger and in turn makes us closer to Him.

The devil may chase you, he may knock on your door, he may challenge you, but use God’s word and trust in Him to help you defeat the evil that surrounds you.

I pray for strength every day. I read my devotions and I read scripture. Throughout my journey I know God has saved me. My life is better because I have trusted in Him, and I have handed over the reins to the problems I cannot control. It’s a daily chore for me, and I sometimes waver.

Often, I lose sight of my surroundings and begin a fall into a downward sprial I struggle to get out of. It happens more often than I want to admit. I lose my bearings on what my heart has taught me, and I question my own thinking. It is a battle within my own self. Paranoia sets in, I fight for my self worth, and I question who to trust.

Lately, I have been struggling and feeling like every step I take presents another stumbling block. It’s overwhelming, and I feel the darkness surrounding me. These are the times I normally pray for strength, but lately I grapple with getting in the right mindset.

But, it is an unnecessary wrestling within my mind, a rhetorical question.

Fear or Faith?

I read a devotion today that spoke to me in such a way that I knew the Lord was addressing me. With so many uncertainties in my life at the moment, I relish the moments this happens to me and I especially take note of the circumstances.

I felt God’s light shining on me. The Prince of Peace was speaking to me, and I know it is a serious moment when I have these strong feelings. It is a time I have reason to worry, but yet a time I know I need to hand it over, trust and let Him lead me.

For all of those who struggle with your beliefs, waver in your thoughts about God and the spiritual world I would like you think about this. My life consists of living in the midst of storm after storm. The darkest storms that are so strong I cannot survive them alone.

I am not speaking of “alone” as in a physical state, but rather a lonely darkness that I live with while surrounded by many people. Do not confuse it with something you necessarily know. It is a loneliness you can never imagine unless you have actually lived in it.

For me, there is only one path to take in order to survive and that is not with fear. Fear would consume me just as a tornado consumes everything in its path. Hope and prayer and faith are the only solutions to help me escape.

I will always choose faith. I may fall and I may falter, but the light of God will shine down on me and guide me into the way of peace. xo

Because of and through the heart of tender and mercy and loving-kindness of our God, a Light from on high will dawn upon us and visit [us] to shine upon and give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to direct and guide our feet in a straight line into the way of peace.”

Luke 1:78-79
Posted in Self Help

Precious, Purposeful Life

One foot in front of the other. Keep moving.

I’ve been telling myself that all week. My mind drifts off to what’s going on around me, and it’s like I start to stall.

Ever feel that way?

You’re surviving. Staying focused. Staying positive and then your mind starts to wander to that dark, desolate place and you find yourself in quicksand. You can’t lift your foot to move forward and you start to sink to that low.

Don’t let it happen.

You are in control of your thoughts. Don’t ever give that up.

I’ve told myself that a few times this week. Let your mind think about it for a second and then get yourself together and move forward. No matter how hard it is, stay positive and keep moving.

If I let myself get too far gone, then it’s even harder to come back from the hole I’ve let myself fall into. If you hit a low, don’t let it suck you in. It’s difficult, but don’t let the devil have ahold of you and draw you back to that place you have fought so hard to escape.

Resist the devil and he will flee from you.

James 4:7

On days I’m struggling to stay positive and all I want to do is cry, it takes an extra effort to stay positive. But, those days the demons are lurking in the darkness just waiting to help you sink yourself a little lower.

Yesterday was kind of a tough day mentally. Some bad memories resurfaced, some hurtful moments got revisited and it put me in a vulnerable frame of mind. I didn’t sleep well last night. And, I started thinking about all the unknowns in my life. Worrying about what I can’t control and needing some strength and guidance.

The weeks ahead are weighing me down. I know I need to get my feet planted firmly and my mind in the right place. Today is a day I need to start out on a good note. Days that start out poorly do not tend to go well for me, but the days I start with prayer and trusting in the Lord help me gain my strength.

“But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one.

2 Thessalonians 3:3

I tell my children all the time you have to have hope and faith in something. Without it you will be lost.

However, on days you are thinking about all the sickness and turmoil in the world it is hard to not get lost. In the last few months three families I know are dealing with a new cancer diagnosis.

Why does this keep happening? Why does cancer consume every thought and prayer in my brain?

Some days I feel like it is every place I turn, every way I look, the only word I hear. How can one single word take up so much space in my head?

I know what all those families are facing. The long emotional road they are about to travel. The sorrow, the heartbreak, the fear looking them in the face. It’s like a sad song that plays over and over in your head. And, it won’t stop.

Mentally it’s exhausting. Physically it wears me down to nothing, unable to function properly or have enough energy to get to tomorrow. That’s the point I can’t let myself get to…EVER. It’s a place that messes with your mind, where demons attack, and you lose yourself. It’s the darkest blackness you will ever see.

And, I promised myself I will never go back.

I have found even in those gloomy days there is light and something to be thankful for in my life. I simply have to search for it, but mostly it’s right there staring me in the face. I believe those are the times I have just lost my focus on all the good around me.

Just as the sun will rise tomorrow, there is good in every situation, in every tragedy, every loss. Even when we can’t see it, even when we view it as a struggle, there is good somewhere underneath.

Life is precious, so don’t take it for granted. We all have a purpose.

Sometimes bad things happen to a person, not to save them, but to save someone else.

Sometimes our purpose isn’t ours at all.

Maybe, we are simply the messenger. And our purpose is to save someone else.