HI!

Britt Inner Peace

The search for inner peace is a hard conquest — one that many people spend their entire lives looking for. When things get a little unsteady, I can usually look to that inner peace and strength to get me through, however sometimes when searching for it, it appears to have gone missing. So far this year, I have been missing in action from writing on my blog, to which is something I’ve always been able to turn to when I am a bit on the “emosh” side.

It’s easier for me to write when I am in pain. Maybe I’m a masochist, or my Scorpio like tendencies are driven by the moody blues, but my goal this year is to find it within myself to also be inspired to write when I am happy and share all of the positive things that are going on in my young life, rather than being limited to my cancer diagnosis. I hope to be reacquainted more with my blog and followers by sharing areas within my life that is worth sharing. The truth is, I live a life so full and that should be what keeps me going, rather than my sad story of cancer. Please don’t get me wrong, cancer is VERY much a part of my life and it still rules my life to some degree, but more than ever I am learning and re-learning to do the things I love and compartmentalize my energy into doing what’s best for me. I am no longer an injured bird, searching for a nest. Instead I have been soaring and dare I say feeling a little bit more at peace each day.

There are a few current projects in motion and things that have taken me away from my blog writing, which have challenged me in many ways. Within my other efforts of writing, even privately in my journal, I have been able to execute and exhale everything that I have been feeling. 2015 thus far has been great. I can count on one hand how many chemo treatments I have had, there haven’t been any visits to the hospital and nothing major (other than my regular treatment) that is getting in the way of enjoying my life. Just last month I was able to rejoice in a week long vacation with, Steve in Hawaii. To enlighten on how necessary and needed the trip was for the two of us would be impossible to explain. However, it revived both of us from the last twenty months of peaks and valleys.

Tomorrow will be my last chemotherapy treatment before I’m off to travel, again, this time visiting the UK for nearly a month. It will be nice to be in motion and quench my thirst for worldly experiences by spreading my wings and flying. Upon my return, I hope to revamp my blog and share with you some of my new experiences, as well as travel stories. In the meantime, I have some things coming up, so stay tuned…

To stay updated best, catch me on Instagram: @bestillmyheartblog

Yours always,

B

PS- Watch out for AWARE MAGAZINE coming soon, with a piece written by yours truly in the POWERFUL YOUNG WOMEN BEHIND THE SCENES…

AWARE MAG 2015

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King Size Bed ♡

Hello, December

Happy December, my friends and for those in the states, I hope Thanksgiving brought warmth into your bellies and hearts. It hardly feels like the Holidays, being that I live in the desert and it was a balmy 87° degrees on the very weekend that Arizona and the rest of the country kicked off the holiday season. Don’t even get me started on how quickly this year has passed. I swear I feel as though I have merely blinked and the year is nearly over. I am also aware that I am not alone in that sentiment. However, clearly I am not here to talk weather or how quickly a single year can pass before our eyes. I just figured I’d check in again.

One thing I didn’t stick to this year was my blog; the very same blog that brought me so much delight, with a pure connection with my readers and allowing for a genuine therapeutic outlet. Admittedly, I fell short of sharing many of my experiences of life with cancer, particularly as a person in her twenties. Yet, you all know and have been so patient and understanding in that I have lacked the “umph” to do much of anything at all.

Over the last few weeks, my so-called “umph” has been restored. Not to discount, of course, that all that ails me continues to do so, being no better or worse than my early days on this cancer journey. In fact my current statuesque is a dash on the unsteady side, as my tumor markers are similar to playing Russian roulette; one week they will be extremely low and there seems to be progress and then the following week they have sky rocketed, where boisterous concerns begin to be flown around. When I visited my Oncologist today, we were going over the different elements to my chemo and the method to madness of it all; taking control over my life and my cancer. Pondering whether the designated treatment is doing it’s job and if my tumors are shrinking or perhaps the opposite and my body and tumors aren’t responding to the chemotherapy, at all. In my case, neither one of those scenarios is my situation. Leave it to me to have unruly tumors that are difficult to pinpoint patterns, their plan and very own method to their madness. We’ve been reviewing my tumor markers bi-weekly to attempt to make sense of it all. One week the markers will be incredibly low, which leads to talks of lowering my chemotherapy and even possibly removing one of the five concoctions all together which would allow for more energy. Then the following week the numbers as I have said earlier, skyrocket leaving everyone, including my Oncologist, a smidgen perplexed as to what the actual situation going on inside of me is.

It makes sense though, because just like everything in life, it’s a mystery. I’m not sure that I will ever be able to make sense of my cancer, nor will I ever be able to make sense of my roller-coaster ride of tumor marker results week over week. Instead, my mind has recently chosen to compartmentalize those things and I have been pushing myself to live the life I daydream about, as I have been laid up in bed for the past year and a half. Be brave, push the limits of my pain and makes strides towards healing the mental tolls that cancer has imparted on me. If you were to ask me how I arrived at this ever-evolving place of newfound energy and peace, I’m not entirely sure if I would be able to pinpoint it. However, a little something is telling me that it began with a little appreciation.

It began with reassessing how I was regarding my appreciation for my surroundings; people, things, places, etc. Once I reevaluated all of those things, it was representative of the life I want and that perhaps I had been taking most things for granted. There was a sudden shift in my mental state. My lack of genuine appreciation to the people in my life, the roof over my head, food on my table and even despite my unfortunate health circumstances, I understood that I am still here, breathing and on the journey that is life. It reminds me of a certain quote by Tony Robbins, “[If you] trade your expectation for appreciation, the world changes instantly.” It truly starts right there.

Pushing myself beyond the limits of my pain has been very challenging. Most of 2014 has been spent in the confines of four walls and a comfy bed. I’m sure to some that may sound very lovely, perhaps a vacation from life. However, as I lay day after day, I couldn’t help but begin to think about life and all of the things I had wished for myself and my dreams to capture the world by it’s heartstrings, but then losing everything I had worked for and still wished for.   I had begun to see the world with a different vision and was maddened by all of the things I didn’t think I was capable of doing or having since being diagnosed as a Stage IV cancer patient. Unsurprisingly, that is a hard pill to swallow and naturally, you wish for a new reality, or no reality at all due to the gloomy reality you are currently in. After such a long period of time and some much needed therapy throughout the later half of the year, it was then that a new reality finally began to sink in. For starters, I became more accepting of my cancer, forgiving of my situation and told myself that if I could find a way out of the gloom, I wouldn’t waste another minute being unhappy or living my life on a king size bed. I began to follow the rhythm of my wild heart and push myself to do things that once made me, me. Spending every day in bed is now something of the past, there are new winds in my sail and I am going to be more grateful for the things I am capable of accomplishing, rather than focusing on things I don’t believe I can do. But, psssst – anything is possible and it’s not bad to think you are capable of it all, because we all are. We are alive, damnit.

That said, as we spend the holiday season amongst friends and family, I will not be taking anything for granted and in the meantime I will continue to push myself beyond my cancer and fight for my place and purpose in this world. A PET scan will be taking place next week to try to gain some insight as to what my tumor(s) are doing and if there is anything to be concerned over. I’m a firm believer that what you think about, you bring about – so only good vibes allowed! As I had mentioned time passes so quickly, I am sure December will fly by and we’ll be ringing in 2015 before we know it! There are plenty of fun things planned for this month, so expect some updates sooner rather than later. As always, thank you for reading and continuing to support me so vigorously, it does not go unnoticed.

Just one last thing, thank you to the lovely anonymous reader who sent me this picture today. It melted my heart.

Fan Drawing

Peace and love always.

Love, Britt x

Boo! — A Voice FROM the Past 👻 🎃, xo

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The bath water was scorching—hotter than a backyard pool in the middle of Arizona’s “dry heat” season. It would have been my fourth bath of the day. No judgments, I truly feel that I belong in the movie, Mermaids with Cher and an early Christina Ricci. It’s bizarre that the bath is where I find it peaceful and a place to fully rest my head— my safe haven since my diagnosis.

My black and silver, new pipe flickered in unison with the candle off to the side of the bathtub, as I further emerged myself into the hot water filled to the brim with bubbles. I reached for that new, shiny pipe, realizing that I was officially a pothead— a medical one, but nevertheless a raging, “puffale” (pot lingo…I think). It seemed clear in that moment that I wasn’t smoking to see unicorns and middle earth, but because it had become the only way that I knew how to get from one eight hours to the next. Some would call it depression, but it is so much more than that.

I typically stray from too many young cancer articles, or just information in general. However, I did come across the Brittany Maynard video and watched it from beginning to end. Firstly, what a brave and strong woman she is—perhaps it’s expected with a name like, Brittany (jokes)! I couldn’t be more enthused that she got to complete her “bucket list” and completely understand that in her soon to be condition, there will come a time when it gets far too painful and depressing and she will want to end her life. It’s only imaginable how many people may have an opinion on this subject matter, the subject of death with dignity. While I gather that this is a controversial topic that is now more spotlighted, I can’t help but be envious that she has the right to say when enough is enough. Unless you are terminally ill, I’m not sure this sounds straight, but those of us who are, may we be fortunate enough to have the option to die with dignity.

This above statement is in no way implying that you can’t have a terminal illness and find happiness, it can be amazing and a good balance. Sometimes it even aids in engaging the patient to live life to the absolute fullest. I was there once and it was a brilliant, I was fearless, somewhat unscathed at that point and ultimately I did things I would never have done if it weren’t for my so called death sentence. Death has a way of being contradictory, at times you feel at the absolute top of the world, living with what little time you have left to the edge, or on the contrary, your soul has simply left the building and it becomes a waiting game, while the emptiness and sadness gets the better of what’s left of your body and mind here on this earth.

When I took the first hit through my pipe, the smoke filled up my lungs and the THC ran rapidly through my body. Yet as I released, I was waiting for the sensation of being numb—from everything. I didn’t quite feel that familiar numbness I had grown fond of, however, it was more of an impassiveness sense, like, here we are again—never worse, never better. My life became a state of mind, constantly hanging my head, waiting for no tomorrow. In that instant, I unquestionably lit the lighter and let the flame burn a little longer than the usual and then directly pressed the lighter to my bare and tender skin. I wanted to feel something, feel alive and feel something other than the pains of cancer and the mental/physical shit show that it can have over me. It burned like hell and I loved every second of it. I know for that split few flashes that I was embracing what its like to have self awareness.

At this point I fear that it’s no secret to the state of mind that I have been in lately. Really, for the past several months. More recently I hardly show my face around anywhere at all. At social events I’m a ghost, with little to no urge to socialize much in general and I am living a life of solace in my own solitude.   I’ve managed to isolate myself from most things and people. It’s been a very non-organic experience for me. I was always a very social gal, loved going out, trying new things, spending time with good friends and good beer; but then over this past summer, one day, I literally just threw it all to hell. Of course it’s nothing personal to the people I know who are there for me and rooting me on, despite my lack of the friendship pact and I happen to think about these people in my life more often than you’d probably think.

So what’s my problem? The answer is, I don’t know. I’ve reached a point in my life, where I feel I have no more life. I can’t get excited to travel and see the world, because I’m not allowed to travel. I can’t throw on a pair of sexy heels and paint the town red, because I have the energy of a snail. I can’t even get my hair colored at my favorite salon, because every hair follicle feels like it’s experiencing Jurassic Park. Yes, that’s right, I referred to my head as Jurassic Park, where every hair follicle is feeling the race of survival against the dangerous creatures that roam the island. Also known as chemotherapy side effects. See, this is what I am talking about.

On a more serious note, rather than talking about the 1993 Spielberg blockbuster, I have committed to seeing my therapist on a consistent, weekly basis. She makes me feel like less of a freak show and more like a normal human being, LIVING with cancer. The whole point of life is to live it, right? Our main goal is for me to find a place of peace with fighting every day for my life and rebuilding a quality of life fit for my needs. That said; if I ignore your texts and phone calls, please know that I love you and more than ever appreciate your thoughts.   If I miss out on get-togethers and parties, which there will be, than please know I am there in spirit. Clearly there’s a lot of missing out on and lack of communication on my end that have happened and realistically will happen again. I could go on for days, but at the end of the day, please know I’ve pulled away for my own reasons, fears and doubts about life and not a single thing is at all personal. My therapist and I are working away at rebuilding what I have destroyed and working towards a happier me, in the face of cancer or depression. As for my own personal goal, I hope to back off from being such a “puffale”.

I’m fortunate enough that in my times of reclusiveness, I have had two very dear friends spend their hard earned dollars to visit me in the month of October, as well as a group of friends that when I say I’m too sick to stick to our Saturday night plans, they come over and we enjoy a night in with pizza and games. My lovely family, too, which when I say jump, they ask how high and a husband who has taken on this challenge of caring for me, which I can honestly say is probably the most annoying job in the world. Cancer is truly not what’s scary, or all of the niceties that it brings forward in it’s war path; it is being alive and not knowing what to do with it.

My point is, I am so happy that Brittany Maynard has shared her brave story and shed some light on #deathwithdignity. Also, happy that I am finally reaching out on my blog to say hello—it’s such a warm and happy feeling to write again. I’m not going to lie and say that I’ll be writing all that much, but it’s certainly a part of my goals and sharing my very own story, one again via Be Still My Heart Blog.

In the meantime, avoid doing as I have by becoming a puffale, or burning yourself with lighters to feel alive. But, continue to live your lives as you do—free yourself from vanity, fear and embrace your soul fully.

On that note, I am off to take a scorching hot bubble bath, before I drink two dollar beers and spend the evening dressed up as the scariest Halloween costume of all—me.

Cheers and love always. x

Love, Britt x

One Year ❝Cancerversary❞…

Cancerversary

For some reason I have been putting off writing this blog, even though I have a mountain of thoughts about this day. This time last year, I woke up to find out that I was a Stage IV, Colon Cancer patient at the age of 27.

Zig Zigler once said, “Most obstacles melt away when we make up our minds to boldly walk through them.” I believe it would be a fair statement to say that cancer is a sizable obstacle. One of which I never thought I would have to face, much less when my life was merely starting. Yet, somehow when the life changing news of my cancer was uttered, I was immediately determined to overcome this obstruction and use it as a tool to learn about life, the purpose of this result and ultimately discover who I am and what I am capable of doing.

I could drone on about all of the dire things that come along with the cancer package, but truthfully I have learned that it’s not healthy to focus on the negative, but rather the positive. It’s mind over matter. Of course not every day is hopeful and cheery, but I am certainly putting all of my energy into healing after the most difficult year of my entire life. I’ve been happy, miserable, strong, weak; yet through it all, my entire mission has been to foster positive identity building. Am I 100%? Absolutely not. Am I cured? Not quite. But more importantly, I have been afforded a quality of life and have been gifted another year to enjoy my family, my friends, my dog and my loving husband.

I wasn’t quite sure how I would feel about this day, as it quickly approached. I was certain that I would be sad and in a sense of mourning for the life that I shed the day I was diagnosed. However, it was quite the opposite. Last night I went out with my friends, enjoyed a fine evening of divine live music and contentedly got inebriated for the first time in a year. So, essentially I didn’t spend the day down and blue in bed, but rather hung over on the couch and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

Thank you a million times over to every person that has supported me along my cancer journey in the past year. The journey will continue and I will have many more cancerversaries to come and I can only hope to be as grateful as I am today, for gratitude is everything.

Love, Britt x

☀ Welcoming Summer ☀

 

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Summer solstice is upon us and I have finally begun to see the sunshine, as my gloomy and opaque clouds have parted. It has been nearly a week since my mental breakdown and I have been trying to look at each day with a new/different perspective from the last. The change in my demeanor has certainly not been effortless, but rather a solid attempt to find my bliss and discover my life, post remission.

For as far back as I can remember, I have always held goals, both from a personal intent, as well as academically and professionally. While I was moving forward with my treatment, my most important goal of all was surviving and beating the cancer that resided inside of me. I had become out of touch with any other goals outside of remaining alive and once I no longer had to fight everyday to remain, my “usual” goals no longer suited my life. In fact, the goals that I was so used to having became disconnected all together as I found myself with new realities; i.e.- health wise, professionally, personally and otherwise.

After reflecting on my ongoing depression since emerging from cancer, I realized that a key element that was missing in my life and even perhaps evidence of why I was depressed in the first place was due to not having goals and aspirations. Many of my previous goals before cancer died; along with the person that I was the day I was told of my disease. However, within the last week, since my mental calamity, I have been pushing myself, even if my efforts are starting out small, I figured that you have to start somewhere. Each day I have filled up my time with exercise and getting my blood moving with some tai chi and yoga, along with meditation, support groups, social outings and even simple things like taking the time to return phone calls, emails and text messages, which is something that may seem small, but became extremely difficult for me to do within the last few months.

It’s truly astounding how much can change in a week. I went from being on the edge of a cliff, to feeling peace, calm and dare I say it, happiness. In part, I realize that being a goal-setter is a part of my nature and without presence of objective ambitions, my world turned to nothing but doom and gloom. Surprisingly, just within the last few days, I have been riding out such a good wave that I have found myself in such a happy state of mind and didn’t even cry when seeing The Fault in Our Stars. How is that even remotely possible?

Nevertheless, I have made it a goal to keep goals. I truly feel that goal making will help me to realign my wants and needs that I have for my future and keep me on a path of contentment, even perhaps challenging myself from time to time. To start off, I have made a list of some summer goals and wishes to get me through the season and pave the path to getting back to an enjoyable place within myself and my status quo.

Here are some of the goals I have set for myself. What are your summer ambitions?

Eating: More regularly. Since my chemo began last August, my appetite has been lackluster. I would like to start eating three healthy meals per day and only occasionally treating myself to popsicles (even though they are sugar-free).

Drinking: Vintage cocktails. I’m not much of a drinker, but I’d like to take advantage of the cool, summer cocktails that Downtown Phoenix has to offer. My favorite right now is Hendricks and Lemonade and I would also like to pay a visit to the newest cocktail parlor in Downtown Phoenix, Bitter and Twisted.

Practicing: The love of authenticity, to respect and accept myself, my reality and see the good in situations, particularly those out of my control.

Mastering: The enjoyment of alone time and the art of time maintenance. I put the pro in procrastinator…

Learning: To free myself from fear and trying new things. Also, how to keep my plants ALIVE.

Trying: To be a better listener. Over the last year, everything has been about my cancer, thus missing out on some major things my friends have been going through. I’m finally in a place where I can lend an ear…just sayin’!

Playing: Outside. Although I live in the hottest place on Earth and we are about to embark on Arizona’s WORST season, I want to enjoy the outdoors (even if it means sitting on the patio of my favorite brunch spot). That counts as outdoor time, right?

Finishing: What I start. For example, I just made a six-week commitment to attend a cancer support group every Wednesday. So far it’s been week one of six, of which, week one was insanely intense. However, I am determined to commit and finish, with hopes of some liberation.

Listening: To the new Lana Del Rey album, Haim, Wet, Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin, Lucius, along with some old faces, Fiona Apple, Lily Allen, CCR, Simon and Garfunkle, Death Cab, Brand New, RX Bandits, Good Old War, Saves the Day, Jimmy Eat World, Third Eye Blind, Frank Sinatra, Sherwood, The Beatles (((and the list continues))).

Reading: More in general and spending time at the library and bookstores, discovering new reads and getting lost in the pages. Also, finish my latest book, #Girlboss.

Remembering: To take care of my thoughts when I am alone and take care of my words when with people. Oh, also remembering to take my medications…everyday.

Wearing: Fun summer dresses and flirty skirts, but most importantly wearing sunscreen in this blazing heat.

Cooking: Ugh, anyone who knows me, knows that I am not a cook, nor do I want to be. However, perhaps I can just *help* around the kitchen a little more. 😉

Working: On the girl I was too lazy to be yesterday.

Traveling: Here, there and everywhere. Before I was sick, I was quite the little adventurer. I’d like to go on a few little trips to California over the summer and then I have a BIG trip coming up at the end of summer, but the location is top secret. Hint- it’s not a trip to the loony bin (again) and it’s outside of the United States. EEEEKKKK!

Wanting: To practice what I preach. I often find myself setting such high standards for everyone else, yet I don’t hold myself accountable at times for the standards in which I set. Also, volunteering at the Phoenix Children’s Hospital and hopefully lift the spirits of young children battling for their lives.

Love, Britt x