July 09, 2017

Shifting Perspectives

I took half of these pictures exactly two weeks ago on the Sunday before my surgery. I admit that I have spent a good portion of my life the last few months living in fear. That is never my choice but sometimes it seems almost unavoidable. For a period of time. I think that's key. If you spend all of your time living in fear, well, you aren't really living. You are missing out on the beautiful every day moments that are happening in your life right now, while you are alive.

 The very oddest thing happened to make me wake up to this realization...my mallow plants. I planted these at least three seasons ago and every year, the enchanting, plump Village bunny that loves to visit my garden, would mow them down to the ground before they had ever really gotten their heads more than a few inches high.

Soon after we lost our sweet Millie, the bunny stopped visiting. I had always thought the bunny was afraid of her but it now appears to me that the bunny came to play with her and now sees no point in visiting and eating my flowers if there is no golden retriever to frolic with. The point of this story though is that I was so deeply wrapped up in my fear and grief, that I almost completely missed the fact that I had mallow growing in my garden for the first time in my entire life. I couldn't stop thinking what a shame that would have been and I began to feel my perspective shifting.

Ten days ago I had my surgery and while there was an incredible amount of fear leading up to it and still some residual fear, mostly due to my history with blood clots, I am healing, slow and steady, body, heart and soul.

This past week, I very suddenly lost one of my best friends, Renee. Maybe you know her from her blog or Instagram account. We were very close and such a lifeline for each other, especially the last few months as we both found ourselves facing some of the biggest challenges of our lives. I loved her dearly and am so sad that my doctor doesn't want me to risk making the trip to say goodbye at her funeral. I miss our daily talks about life, challenges, joys and yarn. I believe I was put in her life to help comfort her when she needed it and while now I could use her comfort more than anything, I have to believe she was put in my life to reinforce to me that we don't know what tomorrow will bring, so make the most of today. She was also a shining example of what deep faith looked like.

If I'm being honest, even as I'm learning all the lessons that life is throwing at me this year, even as I feel myself growing and changing, I'm tired from it all. I don't want to learn anymore for awhile. I want to sit quietly and knit and watch BBC, and make lists and dream and pretend the world is always a beautiful place where people are lovely to each other and treat one another with kindness, respect and grace.

You learn a lot about yourself and the people around you during times like this. Some of it positive. Some of it not. I am trying to focus on the positive and working towards a zen like acceptance of the rest. That does require a little practice.

I have learned though, that changing your perspective can be such a beautiful thing. Looking at something in a completely new way, sharing a new experience with people you love, trying something you've always wanted to do. Being brave, even when you're scared, trying new things even if you might feel stupid or God forbid...even if you might fail.

This is what we are here for. To love, to live, to go out into the world and explore, see and learn. New experiences and dreams are what keep us interested and interesting.

I've realized there are so many places I still want to go and  things I still want to do: write a book, play the cello, learn to tap dance, take a cooking class in Italy, knit a sweater, travel the English countryside, go to Maine, make croissants from scratch, learn to paint, visit the PNW, take a pottery class, sew a quilt, become a better photographer, sew a skirt and the list goes on and on. And obviously I'll never get to everything on the list...or maybe I will. I plan to give myself at least another 46 years to try.

I have a new watch that reminds me to breathe, it reminds me to get up and move but as far as I know there is not an app that reminds you to live, really live, your life every day. That is something we have to learn on our own.

I have to say the most important thing I learned through this process, although I was not oblivious to this fact, is that I am married to an amazing man who is here for me no matter what. Usually unconditional love is reserved for parents and their children and dogs and their humans, but my Sweet Man has always loved me unconditionally. He has been my tower of strength even through his own fear. He has held me and comforted me for the past several months and for the last 10 days he has taken charge of my medical care doing things too unsavory to mention here and doing them without hesitation. He has cared for all of my needs, journaled my medical stats, set alarms every 3 hours through the night and fed me pain pills, water and crackers. He has cared for me medically, physically and emotionally with the gentlest of care and the deepest of love. As I stood in the shower one night while he gently bathed me and washed my hair, hurting and feeling exposed and mangled and vulnerable and sobbing, that man looked me in the eyes and told me that I had never been more beautiful. I wish that is what love would always look like for every person. No matter what life brings me, I will forever be grateful that it gave me that.

While I still have another surgery ahead of me in the next month or so, I'm ready to get through it and move on to the next chapter. And I just want to say this- I am not cancer. Cancer is something that happened to me, a life experience that is now a part of my story for better or worse. I am not a victim.  I do not want people to think of me and for their first thought to be that I had cancer. I am not interested in dwelling on this sad chapter, just as I am not interested in dwelling on any of the sad chapters that came before it. This, like everything that came before, alters my path a bit and makes me more fully the person I am meant to be, which is just a person living my life the best way I know how.

Having said that, I want to thank each and every one of you for your positive thoughts, prayers, emails, texts, notes, gifts, flowers, meals, errands and the pure and beautiful outpouring of love that was sent my way. It made such a difference for me and I felt stronger for it. I am full of gratitude for it. There were days when I was sustained by it and I could never find enough ways to thank you for your generosity and kindness. People are so incredibly lovely. I leave you now with this picture of the daybed swing my guy built, where I soon hope to be doing a lot of recovering.

With my sincerest gratitude and love,


  1. God Bless you! I have just had my 5th surgery, within the past year. I, too, have a wonderful and supportive husband and couldn't have made it through without him. I am so blessed! Thank you for sharing your beautiful thoughts today~

  2. It seems it has been a long, hard year for so many, for so many different reasons. You've reminded me that even through the differences we are all connected and we need each other...humanity needs humanity...relationship. I am praying daily for you my friend. I have so much more to say but I think an email would be a better venue. If Renee could have left you anything it would not have been one of her lovely possessions it would have been her faith in her Creator and it seems she has done just that. Hugs from California.

  3. That was incredibly sweet! Thank you so very much for sharing. I really treasure what you wrote and have already shared it. Blessings to you as you recover.

  4. So wonderful to see your post! I am glad you are healing and managing this new aspect of your life. Keep going. And curl up with a good book on that lovely porch. Hugs, Kit

  5. Sending lots of love and positive thoughts from across the pond. Thank you for sharing. x

  6. Lovely words, lovely photos. I have read your blog for some time and even though I don't actually know you, I almost feel like I do just because your personality shines through your writing. I have been thinking about you and hoping everything with your surgery went smoothly. I was so happy to see your post and to read your thoughts. I am going through a different kind of hard time in my life right now and your words help and apply. I am trying to live my life every day, too. Thank you, thank you, Jen for sharing your perspective.

  7. Oh, Jen...this is so beautifully written that my comment would be mere blobs on your page. I'm so moved by what you wrote, especially after reading the paragraph about your husband...tears are rolling down my face. Sending you so much love and healing thoughts and prayers. xoxo

  8. Bless your heart. What a well written post. I love your sweet spirit.

  9. Some prayers and hugs just flew your way. I hope you felt them!

  10. When I think of you I think of beauty, never cancer! That's what I always find here. Mend fast, friend. XoXo Leslie

  11. It's so good to hear from you, Jen. I've often thought of you over the past few weeks and wondered how you were doing, but knew you'd let us know when the time was right. Our lives were turned upside down on June 13 and my thoughts are running a close parallel with your own. You are blessed to have such a supportive, loving family and friends who are key to your physical health and mental well being. I hope you are soon spending time on the fabulous daybed swing! your hubby built for you and enjoying all the little things life has to offer. Life is beautiful. <3

    xo, Vickie

  12. Your thoughts are exactly what I needed to hear today, for a variety of reasons. That you find time and purpose to share these things as you are going through the most difficult journey of your life makes me think - no, KNOW - that you are a tower of strength, and moreso than you give yourself credit for being. Continue to heal yourself, be good to yourself and take care of yourself. I heard this great quote yesterday, "The blessing comes when you are out of your comfort zone." Clearly this fits on a lot of levels. Stay inspired, Jen.

  13. I have been thinking about you. It was so nice to see you post. You are a strong, beautiful, brave woman and I admire you. I am so happy that you have such an amazing husband and daughters.

  14. Jen, I have admired you through your posts for a few years and I appreciate you sharing of yourself so deeply. I will continue to pray for you and I am grateful that your husband is exactly who you need. Please know there are many of us who you will never know or meet that care about you.

  15. This was so beautifully written, though poignant. I'm so sorry you are going through this. I'm so sorry you lost your friend. I was consumed with worry after my divorce. Worrying over the fact that I don't have a regular amount of money coming in and how the whole apple cart could topple and I'd be on the street. It was a worry that edged into my thoughts every single day. And still is there, though muted. I had to learn to stop and rewind. Learn how to see the little mundane beautiful things in every day life. It was something that was a life changer for me. You are a beautiful person. And what your husband did and said nearly brought me to tears. What a wonderful person he is! He will be beside you. Know I think of you often and send good karma your way.

  16. Thanks for the reminders. I wish you only the best, and that your healing is complete.

  17. Jen,

    I have followed your blog for some time, but have never commented before. I am so glad to read your post because I've been wondering how you are doing and secondly, I've been having a feeling sorry for myself kind of day and you have reminded me to remember all that is good and to count my blessings. I thank you for that. Continued blessings.


  18. precious jen,
    you have been on my heart and mind for weeks.
    prayer breathed heavenward and continuing indefinitely.
    this blog post spoke deep into my own heart in ways
    i'll not share here. thank you - that while you are
    softly stepping through your own life journey, you reach
    out and share such morsels of wisdom, friendship, tenderness, and love.
    bless you dearly,

  19. Beautiful words and photographs. Hoping that you are spending many restful hours curled up on your lovely day bed swing...

  20. Dear Jen -- keeping you in my thoughts and prayers. You're a strong, beautiful woman and inspiring to all who know you in real life and through your lovely blog. Blessings and prayers for you and your family.

  21. Sending healing prayers and warm hugs your way, Jen. You are so strong and with the love and support of your family you will beat this!! xoxo

  22. Wow....I could have wrote this very post, every word....except not breast cancer, but uterine cancer.....I am pretty much recovered except for dealing with lyphmdema in my right foot and leg from the removal of so many lyphm nodes....but I do get what you said about not wanting to be the woman with cancer, I feel the exact same way......but going thru it does change your view of life....I appreciate life so much more and try to make the most of my days....and I have learned not to sweat the small stuff.....good luck with your next surgery and best wishes!

  23. Go forward. Live in hope and always find the joy.


Thank you for taking the time to say hello today! I always love to hear what you have to say.