Many say 2016 was the pits. And in many ways it was- a lot of great artists died, a divisive political campaign, nations in crisis, terrorism and hate. At Hope Scarves we lost dear friends to cancer.
Yet, for me, 2016 was also a whole lotta awesome. I nervously settled into this existence of living life to the fullest despite metastatic breast cancer. And, by the grace of God I had a year of strength and health as my scans continued to show NED – no evidence of active disease. I celebrated my 40th birthday – repeatedly. A wonderful excuse to travel, pop champagne and connect with friends and family near and far. Hope Scarves had a laughter filled year of growth and continued success – national partnerships, increasing interest in our program and record fundraising success. You can read more in our end of year newsletter. Our children are at really fun ages (almost 9 & 11). They are independent yet still love to spend time with us. Our family had great adventures together – camping in Grand Tetons, skiing in Colorado, Hawaii and a Michigan summer. I embraced moments of feeling so alive – midnight swimming in Lake Michigan, yoga in the rising sun, snorkeling with sharks, snow angels, one more hug. I love these moments when life is pulsing through my veins.
I’m sentimental – those who know me know I’m the one who initiates going around the table to say things like “what are you most thankful for” at Thanksgiving and your “hopes for the year to come” at New Years. The ending of one year and the start of the next are monumental in my sentimental mushiness. It’s a new chapter in our story. What will happen in 2017? How will this year shape our lives?
It was these first days of the new year of 2014 that I stretched intensely to ease the pain in my low back… then, the Tuesday evening when our family’s world turned upside down with the news that the pain was cancer. When we rang in 2014 – who would have imagined what was ahead? Not me.
The uncertainly of a new year can be overwhelming – especially for those facing challenges. I hold this fear in my heart and hope light can pierce through the darkness as we celebrate the start of a new year.
Most certainly the silver lining in this hurricane of cancer is the realization of how fragile and precious life is. When facing a terminal diagnosis – the right now is more meaningful. When the future is uncertain, living in the moment takes on an entirely bigger meaning. I’m not alone in this realization. I have many friends who live in this same, beautiful and painful way. Indeed, when the future is uncertain we truly embrace every moment. Not in a cliché. In our reality. The mundane, the boring – it’s what we dream of. The living is so much more intensely appreciated. When we went around the table on New Year’s Eve and shared what we were thankful for – I simply said “this life.” I am thankful to be living this beautiful life. I am grateful in an intensely deep way – a way I never felt prior to this stage 4 diagnosis. 2016 was filled with living life to the fullest – it was beautiful.
So, bring it on 2017! I’m certain there will be tears. Perhaps my health will falter. But, I won’t live in the uncertainty of tomorrow. I live in the right now.
As I set my sites on the year ahead and continue to work at living life to the fullest I have two challenges for you – 1. Embrace a simple moment and 2. Live a big moment! First, the simple moment – not a big special occasion, just a simple everyday occurrence. Don’t rush through it – embrace it. Dinner with your family, walking your dog, driving home, a bedtime hug. In a time when we are hurrying & worrying – allow yourself the chance to have gratitude for the simple. Then, I challenge you to do something that makes you feel really, really alive. When your kids are swimming in a cold lake – jump in and play with them. Dance! When you look out the window at fresh new snow – go make a snow angel. In this moment – feel the blood pumping in your veins. Breath deeply. Cherish the chance to be alive.
These moments are your life. The big and the little. Embrace them – how lucky we are to be alive right now.
Cheers to 2017!