What a year!
2020 started with all great expectations, but I think we all know it was a year like no other. We learned new terms like social distancing and heard "unprecedented" a million times. I realize that my cancer was the most rigorous but applicable training I could ever have for a pandemic year. From months of isolation, restrictions and emotional worry, cancer was the ultimate course in how to survive a global pandemic year. Even my coping mechanisms I learned from cancer came in real handy during covid. First and foremost, God over everything. Just like my cancer, I didn't believe that God unleashed this to "teach a lesson". We live in a sinful world. God was working through doctors, nurses, EMT's, vaccine developers to try and truly help us. First and foremost, God is there if we turn to him. My faith was so important in these times. To help me understand, calm my worries and know that God was in charge. This does not come with a disregard to responsibility. I do believe we need to show kindness and love more than ever before.
Write it out! I have been so blessed to work from home since March 2020. It's really hard to believe that it's almost been a year. I have gone into the office on occasion for a few projects, but mainly I spend my time with my work equipment in my upstairs loft. I keep a notebook at my desk and bedside at all times. I lost 2 metastatic breast cancer friends in this time and dealing with these feelings in a pandemic is hard. One friend was from NY and another from Georgia. Somehow, knowing that I could not attend their funeral was hard. Honoring these amazing women on social media does not feel worthy of the lives they lived. I have used poems to describe the loss, the pain and the steely hope that I have that tomorrow will be better. One poem is named "Death of a Hug"
The Death of a Hug
By Tina Conrad
Gone are the hugs of yesterday
The hug reserved for your mimosa friend
Or the neighbor who lost their mom too soon
That natural embrace now at a dead end.
It happened so suddenly, “Household Hugs only!!!!”
As we masked up, washed up, folded our arms in,
One moment here, another moment gone
Now asking permission, feeling like sin.
That feeling of wondering, will I ever be touched?
An elderly woman asks herself as the days slowly linger
As she breaks the rules and asks for a hug,
Only to feel the spark of a finger.
The playgrounds now plagued
What the children learning as we stay away
Stonewalling their emotions
As they learn a new way to play.
How long will this go on?
How soon until we forget?
That hug of a friendship, coworker, neighbor
That hug we shared when we first met
Human to human, touch to touch
We need each other more than ever
More than we imagined
This cannot last forever
Until that time I am sending you a hug
A warm embrace from my heart
It’s not a replacement
Rather a supplemental start
This poem is from my experiences and those shared with me in the pandemic. Sending you love and connection in these virtual times.
Attitude of Gratitude! Last year, I began on a journey to grow in faith. I was invited by a friend to a Faith Visualization event where I started a Gratitude Journal. I created pages for each month of prayers I am elevating and what I am grateful for. I will say that this project became so important to me in the covid days... days that all rolled together and felt the same, the helplessness I felt as I turned on the tv nightly news highlighting the pain and emergency situations. This book always grounded me in what I had, how lucky I was to watch the seasons change as I worked from my upstairs loft. I used to feel the weight of all the Stage 4 fighters, it's hard to explain but when I put their names on this paper, it released me of some of this weight. I felt lighter and freer, and gave me more energy to do my purpose. I feel my purpose is to connect others, be a cheerleader and share God's love.
So what's ahead?! I am excited to share that Season 6 of the DJ Breast Cancer Podcast is all about Faith > Fear. With an emphasis on cancer survivors, thrivers and those making a difference in the cancer community, we can share stories and testimonies of how faith can help us through difficult times. I interviewed my first guest Nicole Jasien last week and it is hard to explain but I was so moved by her testimony. I truly believe that the Holy Spirit was speaking through us, present in our conversation. Nicole was diagnosed in 2012 with Stage 3 breast cancer and then had a recurrence that had spread to her bones. Nicole has fought through so so many hurdles. She is truly a fighter and feels she is on a mission to show other's God's love in the midst of difficult times. I encourage you to listen to her story on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts.
I have started new pages of my Gratitude Journal that I am compiling together. Today I am grateful for ______ starts my each and every day. I reflect on who and what I am praying for. I also have a new word for the year "Present", not as in a wrapped gift but being present, being in the moment, cherishing my breath, the moments with family and friends and as the world gets back to being busy, reminding myself that there is no gift like the present!