The FLASH

I just thought to myself, “I should follow the Pollyanna Plan’s example and write one blog post every day for an entire year.” Then I had this flash where I imagined not being able to finish it because I’d died… So it scares me of course that this is the first reaction. The reaction of death. Man, it scares me.

But now, writing that first line of this post onto my wordpress document and thinking about it for a minute… now I’ve just thought to myself, “where did that original thought – that positive thought – come from in the first place? Where did that idea to live for a year spring up from?” And I’ve never really asked that question before. But, thinking about it now, it feels like there are two parts of me, except the only part I’ve been noticing and taking seriously is the one offering flashes of fear.

Weird confession: Whenever I see a knife in someone’s hand, I have a flash of them stabbing me. And whenever I have a knife in my hand, and someone passes by, I get this flash of myself stabbing them. That’s mostly why I’m a little scared of knives. It’s the same things for guns. I get these flashes of people shooting me. Weird.

My point is, these are the flashes that get my attention. The ones based on fear.

But there are other flashes, and I am realizing right now as I write this post that they need to be nurtured more. I have flashes where I can see myself teaching my own child a ‘life lesson’. I have flashes of living in a cottage in Balaton. I have flashes (dreams) that my book becomes a bestseller.

Just a moment ago, I had a flash to write 365 blog posts in a row, across one whole year. That suggests that some part of me – a strong part of me, since it comes to my mind FIRST – feels the capability of living at least 365 days more.

Each day I live with the fear flashes. They tell me I am going to die too soon. They make me afraid that I’ll be leaving my husband and family far too early. Part of me has been afraid to admit this in the blog, because what if this is me knowing what will actually happen? What if this is me knowing my fate, and not yet accepting it?

But then, if one part of me has that fear, another part of me does in fact have hope – otherwise I’d never be capable of dreaming.

So now I have this challenge, and it is to nurture the ideas that comes first, my ability to hope and to imagine. I want to feed that part of my mind, and help it learn to follow through. Fear will get me nowhere, hope can take me anywhere.

And I’ve literally just realized that that hopeful side of me exists. Like, right here as I wrote down the experience to simply get it out of my head… and it’s turned into this realization. There are many parts of me, not only the part who is afraid all of the time. I want to learn about Catherine Who Hopes. She has some good ideas. I reckon she should be introduced to Catherine Who Acts. And we don’t need to invite that other fearful Catherine along to the party.

Anyhow, this is what I’m thinking about, and I think it makes sense. Why haven’t I noticed my positive side before when it comes to life, and when it comes to cancer? Well, because I was scared of all this fear that has been running through me. But at least I am noticing it now. At least I realize it is there. That is power in itself. And it’s also a really good starting point for change.

P.S. I will not be writing 365 posts, because I think it’s better to just not. This isn’t about fear, this is about me not wanting to blog that much! Better to be focusing on that bestseller goal ;)

Here comes the thirty train!!

My birthday is in 25 minutes and counting down. It’s not like fireworks are going to erupt at 9 a.m. but I will suddenly and officially be thirty. Zsolt likes to say that I’ve been 30 these past six months, which reeks of logic and tastes like haste. I’m 29 this very moment, and then, once the clock ticks ahead – WHAMO – 30.

A lady editor once taught me that numbers over ten are to be written in word-form. Like forty-six or eighteen or twenty-nine. She did not teach me about those little dashes, however, and I put them in only because I think it looks better. Much of my grammar is based on ‘what looks better’, which likely explains why much of my grammar is incorrect.

So here is a secret about my thirties (which I hope by declaring will no longer make it a secret and banish away this stupid notion) . . . I’m a wee bit worried about them, because for the entirety of my life – thinking back to when I was ten, or 12, or 19, or 20, or 25, I could never imagine what it would be like in my thirties. What would my face look like? How tall would I be? What sort of work would I be doing? Would I live in a house, have a dog, babies, purpose? Marriage . . . I could never imagine my wedding until it had actually happened.

And I thought to myself (very quietly) what I was wasn’t going to turn 30? What if I couldn’t imagine it because it was never going to happen? Would I die before I turned 30? (Now you have a sense for how dramatic my stupid thoughts can get!)

Flashback two years ago when I was diagnosed with cancer at 27 (almost 28), and my panic mode was really kicking in. It was all – “oh, shit, Catherine, you have cursed yourself with this stupid unknown decade obsession. Now hurry up and start WANTING something from your next chunk of life, and the one after that, and after that, and etc.

Because I reckon when we really, really want something, we can accomplish that desire even if it takes time. Actually, I think it’s a powerful sort of thing to want something badly – and to know in your mind  that it will happen. That stuff is better than magic beans and three wishes combined. That’s determination, and I think it makes all the difference.

So what am I determined to do in my thirties? Live, survive, become a novelist, love-love-love, buy a cottage in Balaton (Hungary), have those babies (this desire is attached with many other quiet and dramatic fears, which need to be dealt with eventually), be with Zsolt, laugh with Zsolt, explore with Zsolt, have family dinners, keep my amazing friends and make even more (if it’s possible since we keep freaking moving!), stay in shape, never have cancer again,  get a dog, and be good to others – take care, support, encourage, contribute, be there.

Anyhow, that’s my life. My life in my thirties. Once the forties creep up I’ll need to revise this list.

Everyday is a good day and every birthday granted is really the best gift possible. I love living, so am very glad to be doing so today.

There it is – ten minutes left! Here comes the 30 train, and I’ll be hopping on quite happily.

(Psst. I bought myself a big 30 piñata that I’m going to smash to pieces, therefore showing 30 that I can indeed conquered this stupid age-hump of unknowingness that is in my mind. Plus I bought myself balloons that say 30 on them, and napkins, and this blow-up thing that shoots out 30 everywhere, and a candle in the shape of a 30, and fireworks for the evening. Because I figured that for me today was special, even if on the outside it looks like yet another birthday, and it was going to be celebrated in a ridiculous way here at this cottage . . . even if the party only consists of my closest family, that’s okay. I’m turning 30. Everything is okay.)

And if it’s your birthday soon too, of if it’s just past, or you just want to join the party – HAPPY BIRTHDAY to you too!! Wooohoooo! Isn’t it nice to celebrate good things? :)

(Hey! It’s now past 9 a.m. – we made it!!! )

What is your picture?

Today is a post in response to Marie from ‘Journeying Beyond Breast Cancer’, who found the idea from Jen of ‘Keep the Calm’. The challenge is to post a photograph of yourself (or something that represents you) which captures the ‘you’ of the past little while.

So this is my photograph. It’s so peaceful looking and calm, but in reality we were travelling across Hungary in the backseat of a car, and I was trying not to vomit from the motion sickness. Zsolt thought I looked pretty. :) And I think so too, in my no-longer-nauseous reflection on the photograph.

But that’s not why I chose this photograph. The past six months . . . okay, the past NINE months (gag!) have been both wonderful and difficult. We are searching for ‘the big break’ in terms of careers & living on our own (cause yes, we’re still with my parents), feeling as though we haven’t settled, desperate, once again, to find a sense of home. And yet I am home with my family – something I’ve lacked for many years. We can get together for dinner, go for tea, share a beautiful day . . .

Both wonderful and difficult. All the while, I’m there in the back of that car waiting for resolution. With little bursts of success like my freelancing (at the detriment to my creative writing) and Zsolt’s consulting, we move forward. We are moving forward. I am saturated in the family I’ve been missing so much. Things are good. Things are a little hard.

But what you don’t know is at the end of this car ride we pulled up to a home where there were dogs in the yard, pigs in the pen, chicken running round, and a family with open hearts and tables filled with food. The good stuff exists (and much of it is already here), so I can tolerate this ‘ in-between’ness, because I’m certain it won’t last forever.

(Though displacement does appear to arrive in waves. That is the life of a person who travels, home is where the heart is . . . except we leave bits of our hearts wherever we go.)

Would you like to join the challenge? Post a photograph of yourself, or something that represents you, and let us know the story (or don’t since a picture is already speaking at least a thousand words). You can post the link here, or on Marie or Jen’s pages. I’m sure we’d all love to see.

Take care,

Catherine