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About ten years ago, whilst prepping for a two day off-site I was facilitating on Connection, I discovered a great book called The Power of Full Engagement by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz. The concept that grabbed me is that we ought to be managing our energy, not our time. If we are to be fully engaged at work and ready to perform to the highest level of our potential, we need to pay attention to and nourish our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual energies.

For me, managing and balancing my energy is not limited to work but is fundamental to the way I approach my whole life. Whilst going through breast cancer this past year, the initial stages provided a focus on my physical well-being but once the plan was understood, my emotional and spiritual energies came in to focus and became the cornerstones of my ability to handle the journey with grace and faith, bringing me back to health.

Now that I am back in my second week at work, I have noticed my energy patterns shifting. My first week back, I was in full mental energy. My brain was engaged in a way it hadn’t been for a while and I felt like a normal out in the world person again as opposed to one on their way to being normal (whatever that is!!!). My physical energy was very low and each night when I got home, I collapsed in to bed to the delight of Lulu the cat who came and snuggled with me. This week, my physical energy is feeling stronger (thank you magic Chinese mushroom powder I got from my acupuncturist) and my mental energy is having a lot of fun!

But what of my emotional and spiritual energy? I have therapy each week and that more than takes care of keeping me in balance emotionally as my therapist is the best I ever had and I have seen quite a few over the years believe me!!! And spiritually? Today I went to the Healing Garden for a workshop that I have attended without fail during these past six months. As I was sitting in the beautiful space, humming, toning, ‘om’-ing, listening to healing music, my eyes filled with tears, my heart felt full, my soul expanded.

So I am making a public declaration. My life is here for me, it is mine to mold, to shape as best supports me and all aspects of my health and growth. I intend to ensure that all of my energy needs are met, that I get to be out in this world in the optimal place and space for ME. And that, along with belly-laughing at cat and goat gifs, is my recipe for a life well lived.

Love to all,
Amanda xxx

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Me drinking my morning smoothie before leaving:

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Me drinking my evening smoothie upon returning home:

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Actually it was a very good day. It was great to see everyone, had some lovely flowers waiting on my desk (thank you, Karen), got my computer working, sent a few e-mails, attended a meeting and then it was time to come home again! If only all days were so easy! And to add to it all, the trains were a little screwed up going in but coming home was fine.

Before leaving this morning, I shuffled my animal medicine cards, asking for a message for the day and out fell (or flew?) Eagle. I read the message from the book which is about taking heart and gathering courage, for the universe is presenting me with an opportunity to soar above the mundane levels of my life. Strange to get this when I am going back to work rather than on a grand adventure. But for me, the message resonated. I have learned a great deal about myself on this journey, about using my voice more clearly to express how I feel and what I want. About using my energy not take on other’s stuff and try to fix it for them, but to stay centered and grounded in my body. About using these techniques to give up my desire for external control of others and paradoxically finding more control within me. Being back at work provides me with a great big Petrie dish to practice my new found skills. So back again tomorrow to experiment all over again!

Thanks for all the support and well wishes for today,
Amanda xx

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Here is how I envision tomorrow going after all the welcomes and how are you doings:

Manager: business question
Me: huh?
Manager: repeated question
Me: um, er, ah, well it’s like this….. Wanna see my scars?!?!?
Manger: pardon?

Looking forward to seeing the peeps again (except for those that have left or are leaving – you know who you are) and I am sure once I get over the shock of it all, including getting up early and having to wear panty hose again, I’ll be fine. Feeling a little anxious so please be extra kind to me tomorrow if I am sitting there in a daze and/or fall asleep at my desk around 2:30! And I am coming in wigless, so if you see a grey haired lady wandering around looking lost, it’s only me! Working three days a week for a patch, then four then back to full time.

Had a pedicure today with a friend by way of my final non-working person hurrah and painted my tootsie nails bright green for no other reason than I could – picture below.

Love to all and send me good ‘yes, I can get out of bed on time to take the train that might not even come because of the bloody snow issues’ energy tomorrow!

Amanda

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What did they find? Nothing, nada, neits, ekkert (for you Sola!). They had a good old rummage around in there, paying particular focus to the pancreas but also the liver, gallbladder etc and I am all zippity do dah. No more pancreas tests for another 12 months – yippee!

I am all set for my ‘oopher’ removal on Monday. I have to be at the hospital at 6:15 am with my surgery booked for 7:20. If all goes well, I should be out in 2-3 hours. As you did for my other surgery, I would like you to think of me Monday morning, sending me love, light, imagine wrapping me in a beautiful pink blanket, rainbows, unicorns or even rainbow colored unicorns!!! Anything that works for you to send to me in love and health.

Thanks and love to all,
Amanda xxxx

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So here I am, sitting on the deck watching the waves lap onto the sunny shore. And yes, you would surmise correctly that I am not currently at home as we are being buried with snow in the Boston area. I am in Puerto Rico with a friend, having some sun and relaxation before heading home for more surgeries and then back to work.

We’ve been here since Thursday last week and are staying in the Condado region, just outside Old San Juan. The hotel is great, the location and beaches are amazing and the weather, well 85F each day. My body is making Vitamin D by the boat load! I have included two pictures of me below: one I am sitting in a chair shaped like a cat (not that you can see that), wearing my wig and the other is my friend, Deb and I at dinner on the beach, no wig.

With regards to health updates, tomorrow at 7:00am (welcome home!), I have to go for an upper G.I. to test for pancreatic cancer. It is something I will have to do each year as the BRCA2 gene mutation leaves me a little more prone to this than the average person and then on Monday, I am having my oophorectomy which removes my ovaries and Fallopian tubes. This is pretty easy surgery as it’s done laparoscopically but is recommended with BRCA2 as my chances of ovarian cancer are greatly increased. There are no indications that there is anything adverse going on down there, so hopefully I’ll be back on my feet very quickly. And as my friend, Liz so aptly put it, who needs those oophors anyway!

The saddest news though is that Smokey the rabbit went to the big bunny heaven in the sky on Wednesday last week, just before I left for Puerto Rico. Rabbits are very, very prone to stomach issues and he suddenly started to eat less and then Wednesday, nothing at all. We took him to the emergency vet and they told us he was very sick and having serious heart issues. We discussed the various options but in the end, decided to put him down as he was suffering and the likelihood of him recovering was small. Sarah was with me, we said goodbye, crying, and she held him as they administered the medicine. It was all over so quickly and so peacefully, but it is very somber to watch a life fade away. Rest In Peace you wascally wabbit.

And last but not least, a return to work is finally looming on my horizon. Assuming that all goes well with the oophers removal, I will go back on March 3rd, working three days for a few weeks, then up to four, then full time. I have not worked since July 9th. How will I get out of bed early enough each morning and will I remember what to do??? Eek, I hope so!

Love to all,
Amanda

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I am sure that many of you could not give a toss about football and although I am very happy that the Patriots won the Super Bowl, this post is not just about fan girling on the team, which I will immediately get over and done with: they were amazing, so happy for them and me as a big fan, redeemed themselves, stuck it to the haters, etc…..

No, there is more to it than that due to the whole Deflategate saga which unfolded the two weeks prior to the game. When I wasn’t alternating between being angry/disappointed that they may’ve cheated, mixed with defiance and support for them, I was able to watch the unfolding of this with a sense of space, with less emotional connection and was very disappointed in what I saw in the media, society and us as individuals, me included.

The minute the rumors began, there was a massive rush to judgment, there was labeling, there was the dismantling SO quickly of people who have spent years building their reputations. The sharks were in the waters and everybody and everything was fair game, pure bait with no protection. And I cannot write this without acknowledging it in me, too. If it had been a story about another NFL team, would I have climbed on the band wagon and said to myself ‘yes, I always thought they cheated’. And it’s not just around this, it happens in the media the whole time – judgments are made (he’s the Olympic bomber, they murdered their child), reputations are ruined and apologies made in small print on the back page.

We do it around individuals at work, at home. Someone makes a suggestion and suddenly I wonder if maybe they are a slacker, a poor employee, a crappy friend. What is it about us that makes us so happy to imagine someone else going down, grinding our collective heels in to their pain? Does this feeling of moral superiority make us feel better about ourselves? Does making others small make us bigger? If that’s it than shame on me, shame on you, shame on us. As I say to my girls the whole time, gossiping and making others look bad does nothing for your self-worth. That can only come from you and is built from the inside out.

I, personally, am sick and tired of the media being judge, jury and executioner. I will learn the facts, let those facts speak for themselves and then decide how I want to react. I will no longer be a media lemming at the expense of others, period.

Love to all with a picture of a lemming in case you don’t know what they are!

Amanda

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I did not loose my eyelashes and brows as fast and as obviously as the hair on my head. They disappeared quietly, without fanfare, a few hairs at a time, until one day I realized that I had no bottom lashes and on the top, on the right side in particular, about 6 that I could legitimately mascara, 3 of which fell out in a clumpette last week. But I am VERY happy to report that they are growing back and it is fascinating to watch. They are coming in in lines, like soldiers marching to battle. Each morning when I get up, I examine the latest growth in the mirror. Yes, I can see more growing, little itty bitty things like dots on my eye lids. And I smile. Going through cancer can provide gratitude for the smallest things. My eye brows are also getting much bushier but I do notice some grey hair in there, too, so don’t smile quite as much when I look at those!

So where am I in my treatment? Last Friday, I finished radiation. My skin is sore, but luckily not split or bubbling like a chicken in the oven which is how some experience it! The hospital tells me that for 7-10 days the irritation will get worse, but after that things will start to heal. I am rubbing endless amounts of cream on the affected area and smell quite wonderful (most of the time)! Last night I tried a sample I got from the health food store which was Dr. Hauschka’s Almond Body Lotion. I didn’t want to go to sleep as I kept sniffing myself it was so yummy! So physically I am getting there.

Emotionally? Hum….up and down. I felt like I might cry whilst having my final radiation treatment but in the end did not, getting my certificate of completion and ringing the end of treatment bell. But as I was explaining to friends, I see the whole thing like a comet with a long tail. The front end, the big kahuna is done, but there is much still to be experienced. BRCA2 raises my chances greatly of ovarian cancer, so I have to book my oophorectomy for this year. It also slightly increases my chances for pancreatic cancer, so have to have yearly tests for this, needing an Upper GI in the next month or so. Both of these procedures will leave me waiting for tests results, my now most hated way to spend time! And of course, the final breast implants and endless oncology appointments will keep the hospital well funded by me this year.

I did celebrate though, having dinner with friends on Friday night and with Steve on Saturday night, but the prevailing thought that comes to me is “Holy shit, I had CANCER.” The emotions that phrase evokes are so varied – sadness, gratitude, courage, fatigue, connection, loneliness – all with the potential to coexist at once.

Jim Morrison once said, “There are things known and things unknown and in between are the doors”. I am standing in the hallway with one hand on the door of this past year. It is closed behind me but the memory and energy of it still exist as my hand touches the doorknob, not yet ready to let go but knowing that eventually, I will.

Love to all,
Amanda

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