Winning At Losing

I don’t like to lose.  I think it would be fair to say that most people don’t like losing.  We are competitive by nature….we all want to be the best, be number 1, or be successful.  No one wants to lose, feel like your hard work didn’t pay off.  But losing is part of the whole game….if someone wins, someone has to lose.

I had a small winning streak recently.  Little things….a travel coffee mug from a local restaurant, a gift cert for jewelry from an insurance company, and other things that just made me feel happy.  Like I was on top of the world.  Then.  THEN!!!!  I was notified I had this huge chance to do something I’ve been trying to do for 15 years!  A company that makes mastectomy bras and breast prosthesis let me know that I was a finalist in their Faces of Inspiration contest….and if I won I would be flown to Georgia for a weekend of pampering, featured in their catalog, and most importantly….I would have a chance to tell my story on a bigger scale!  This was it!  I was one of 4 amazing ladies who have gone through breast cancer.  There would be two weeks of voting online….you could vote as much as you wanted!

 

I was sharing it all over social media, and so were my friends and family.  Strangers were getting in on this.  Everyone told me…..you’ve got this!!!!!! It was exciting, thrilling, and I was on a high!  What an amazing opportunity this would be….and a little pampering too?  Sigh…..

And then……I didn’t win.  I got the call, the heads up, before they announced the winner.  The winner that wasn’t me.  I was heartbroken.  I didn’t want to talk to anyone….I was just so…..sad.  I decided to take that day to allow myself to be sad….grieve the chance I lost….and then let it go.

And that is what I did.  The next day was a new day, and full of new opportunities. It wasn’t immediate….I still had sadness….but I didn’t allow myself to be consumed by it.

This all came back to me when later that week I had the chance to teach my youngest daughter the same thing.  We were playing board games and she HATES to lose.  She could be the one who will throw the entire game board off the table in frustration.  She hates it so much.

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Today was one of those days…..losing at some math game she brought home from school.  I told her…..don’t you remember that I was just in this contest?  And did I win?  I told her it’s ok to be upset if you lose, but going overboard and throwing a fit just takes away the excitement from the person who did win.  And that is never ok.  In any competition or game, if someone wins…..someone will lose.  So we tell that person, good job and congratulations, and we try again.  You never know if your words are getting through to your kids, but a week later, she repeated that all back to me during a conversation about losing.  It made me so proud that not only did she listen, but I could teach her that hard lesson in life by my example.

Losing sucks.  It really does, but losing gracefully shows so much more about your character.  I’m thankful for the opportunity that I had….and to see the amazing support I had….and I’m sad that I didn’t win this one……but in the long run, I still feel like a winner.  And I want my kids to be like that.

Katie 🙂

The Good Old Days Are Now!

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m obsessed with The Office.  This scene is from the finale and it gets me every time.  It’s so true…..we always look to the past and wish we could go back.

This past month has been one that reminds me of how important it is to live in the moment…to realize what you have before it’s in the past.  Turning 40 was a big deal.  I had mixed emotions about it…..it feels old but I’m also so grateful to have reached this age! I’ve seen levels of support from people that just amazes me, and makes me feel so extremely blessed.  I was surrounded by so much love at the surprise party my husband and close friends put together to celebrate my birthday.  I mean really…..seeing all the people there that mean so much to me and knowing they feel the same…..it was just overwhelming!  And being a finalist in a contest and seeing all my friends and family voting like crazy….just wow!  WOW!!!!

I’ve always been a person who tends to live in the past.  Remembering things that happened, wondering what life would be like if I had changed something.  Wishing I could go back and relive something.  Feeling nostalgic over music or items.  But I watched this episode of The Office recently, and heard this song on the radio that really put this on my heart:

Sometimes we focus too much on the past or the future.  We don’t live enough in the moment….but I’ve been sitting here lately just feeling every day how amazing life is.  And how blessed I am….  Life can be so amazing if we change our focus!

Thank you again to every single person who has been there for me.  I have laughed and loved more this year than I thought was possible! I have several circles in my life….and love each one so much!

 

Katie 🙂

Celebrating Another Year

Sitting here in the final hour of my 40th birthday…..I’m just so extremely grateful.  This was not an age I was overly excited about…..it seemed like such an old age when I was younger…..an age I thought would take forever to reach…..yet hear I am.  I thought I would dread it….each day getting closer.  But I’m ok…..and this is why.

I shouldn’t be here.  Plain and simple.  I had an aggressive horrible disease that almost killed me.  Almost 16 years ago.  It’s just crazy to think that I really was so close to dying…looking back on it now.  I fought so damn hard, and today…..I get to celebrate another birthday.

I can’t complain about my age, there are people who never make it here.  I’m so thankful for this amazing day.  40.  Yikes!!!  It’s still crazy to think……but it’s such a wonderful age!

This was the best one yet.  My incredible husband and amazing friends have been lying to me for weeks…..and pulled off an epic surprise birthday party! I’m telling you….it’s not easy to pull one over on me, and they did it!  I have never felt so loved.

 

This room was filled!!!!! Overwhelmed doesn’t even begin to describe it!  Life long friends.  Family.  People I met because of cancer…..and after.  I’m such a blessed person…..and so very thankful I’m here to celebrate another year!!!  And as a dear friend told me today….40 is a gift!

Katie 🙂

We Are Strong. You Are Strong. I Am Strong.

My life was filled with abuse, betrayal, struggle, broken hearts, and lies.  I didn’t let it define me in a negative way.  I used my struggles to become the person I am today….I didn’t know at the time I was tough.  I never saw myself as strong.  I didn’t see myself as someone of any worth.  I was told by people all around me that I would never be anything or anyone.  I was told all the time that I wasn’t important, wasn’t worthy, and wouldn’t succeed.  Maybe their definition of success was wrong….because here I am now.  I’m strong….I had to find my strength, but I did.  I am worthy…..I am loved….and I help other people find that.  I’ve made mistakes, and I’ve taken wrong turns.  I’ve believed in people who never believed in me.  I have hit rock bottom. I found myself alone too many times because I believed what they all told me.  They were liars.  They were there to bring me down…..and they couldn’t.  It may have seemed at times that they did…..but I always got back up.  But not always by myself….there were many hands that reached down to pull me up to where I am today.  True people….with good hearts.  I’m here today….the person I am today….because of everything I went through in the past.  I let it define me….but only as someone who doesn’t let their struggles bring them down.  As a person who overcomes.

Don’t let your past define you in a negative way.  That is just too easy.  Use your past as inspiration to move forward stronger and wiser.

Katie.

Lift Each Other Up!

Women…..can be terrible.  We all know it.  Catty, jealous, mean, and sucky people.  It’s terrible to see….and I think to a point we are all guilty of it.  Whether you admit it or not…..to some degree….we all wish we could have what someone else has.  Have their lives, their successes, their looks, their drive, their everything.  We all look at each other and wish we had it…..and never look at what we do have….the thing other women are seeing in you.

I’m guilty of it.  Why can’t I be prettier, skinnier, more successful, more popular, have a clean house?  I have my faults….and that is what I see first in other people…..they have what I’m lacking.  Some people cannot get past that and want to drag that person down…make them lose so they can feel like a winner.  Women are terrible about that.

They can also be extremely supportive.  When you have people in your circle that love you, they want you to succeed no matter what.  They don’t sit at home wishing they were you….they celebrate by your side!  They cheer and tell the world how awesome you are!  I have been blessed with some AMAZING women in my life…..and today I want to talk about 3 of them that have not only blessed my life, inspired me to try harder.  They have done amazing thing…..truly amazing.  I have to say….they are nothing short of extraordinary.

Jamie

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This woman literally walked in New York Fashion Week!  I’ve known Jamie since the 5th grade.  We’ve known each other most of our lives, our families have somehow been involved over the years, and eventually we moved to the same city, working at the same place.  We weren’t close….but knew each other.  Until the day Jamie called me out of the blue to tell me she had breast cancer.  She knew I had gone through it years before and she needed to reach out to anyone who understood.  Our friendship grew from that day in to something amazing.  She is my sister….we get each other.  We are dorks, and it’s awesome.  She took what life handed her and turned it around.  She started her own company of natural products.  She sells to celebrities.  She puts herself out there with complete vulnerability and helps anyone who needs it. She supports, cheers, and lifts.  She is beautiful inside and out, and you can’t go wrong with her in your corner.  It would be easy to hate her….I mean…look at her!  She’s literally perfect.  Sometimes I feel horrible walking around with her.  But those are the demons getting to you, you know?  She is my best friend, pink sister, dorky partner in crime…..and I’m so extremely lucky to have her.

 

Amanda

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Amanda is a force to be reckoned with.  She is one of the most determined girls I have ever met.  She is quite literally the storm.  She was diagnosed with breast cancer at the same age I was….many years later.  She is like a little sister…..but I would never have wished this life for her.  She has since gone through 4 cancer reoccurances….and is metastatic.  Yet you would never know if you met her today.  She is the strongest person….she does not give up.  She takes care of her girls with energy that I don’t even have, and I’m not in any treatment!  She started a non-profit that brings joy to children going through cancer and life threatening illnesses at children’s hospitals….and was just recognized locally as a pay it forward person of the year.  She always finds a way to help another person, and you will never see her leave the house without looking like a freaking model.  I’m in relatively good health and I can’t find the energy to accomplish what she does…..and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little jealous of that determination! She is truly amazing and my life is better with her in it!

 

Denise

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Denise.  This is a hard one.  The day we lost Denise was the day something awoke in me….a fire that I’m sure she had been trying to start.  She was our local celebrity and champion for everything breast cancer.  She wanted everyone to have support, encouragement, needs met, and every medical option available.  She never slept….she was always putting events together, getting people to support them, and telling the world about them.  She was a strong personality and everyone felt important when she was talking to them.  I wanted to know her for so long….and when we met, it was life changing.  I became involved….she wouldn’t let me sit on the sidelines.  She succeeded in everything she set her mind to and the world is a little darker without her in it.  She is literally one of those woman you don’t want to like.  She had everything….but she welcomed everyone in to her circle.  She is the reason that I have done anything over the last few years….she knew what it was to push people to jump…..and succeed.  I miss her terribly….and I’m thankful for her guidance, encouragement, and friendship.

 

These women all had something in common…..a disease that changed our lives.  We had things all figured out, and cancer came along and shook us up.  It would have been easier to let it take over and make us feel weaker.  We took the opportunity to make ourselves stronger…..but it wouldn’t have been possible without the support of our women……and these are just 3 of the amazing women I get to call friend and have seen do amazing things.  It would also be easy for me to sit back and wonder why it’s not me?  Those thoughts do creep in….I really don’t think anyone out there can say it doesn’t happen once in a while…..but I have my own things.  And when I do something….they are there to cheer for me, like I am for them.

We need more of that, don’t we?  Let’s celebrate the things the women in our lives do…build each other up, and be happy.

Katie

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Unchanging Bonds

Yesterday I gathered with a group of people I consider family as we supported our friend at the memorial service for his son.  This is no ordinary group of people…..but co-workers who learned to lean on each other through all the good and bad times in our lives.

I worked for 13 years at the State of Michigan as a case worker.  I processed applications for food assistance, Medicaid, disability, and emergency services.  I handled caseloads much higher than I should have, and I came home most days exhausted and emotionally spent.  13 years of hearing people at their worst.  Most of the time I was yelled at by clients and/or managers.  I was cussed out, threatened, begged, and hardly ever thanked.  It was the best and worst job I ever had….something I had hoped would be my life long career…..but that wasn’t meant to be.

The relationships I made during my time there are still strong.  We are the only people who understand what we went through on a daily basis.  We went through hell together.  We went through milestones together.  We laughed to try to forget how hard the days were.  We saw each other be treated like machines rather than people.  And we always supported each other.  These people became my family.  And even though I’m no longer there, our bond is still that strong.   A place like that changes you, it makes you different, and no one else understands that.

As we all sat together and cried as our friend expressed his love for his only son in front of a crowded church…..I was reminded of our deep bond.  I cried for him and his loss….and I felt that loss.  This was a person I called my work husband.  He is truly an amazing person, someone you can always count on, and it broke my heart to see his pain.  As I hugged him afterwards….many times….it was like no time had passed…..even though a million things have happened since I last saw him.  But people like this…..time doesn’t change how we are together.

Ironically…..today is the anniversary of the day that I started that job.  January 13, 2003.  16 years ago today I started a job that would lead me to people I cannot live without.  No matter the outcome of that job…..I will forever be grateful for that.  And they all feel the same way….we need each other.  Time or distance will never change that bond.

Katie

Sometimes….You Just Want To Lay On The Floor.

Sickness is going through my house this week, and today was our second trip to the walk-in clinic.  It’s no fun, and definitely pure torture for kids.  This is my middle daughter….and she was just done.  Didn’t feel good, bored, tired, hungry….just all around miserable.  She decided that laying on the floor was all she needed.  I wanted to speak up and tell her how dirty that floor was and it’s not a good idea…..but it made me remember something.

Years ago….15 years ago, I was going through chemo.  Every 3 weeks on Thursdays I’d get my full dose of it.  It would last until the early evening.  I would then come back on Saturday mornings to get my Neulasta shot.  By Saturday mornings I was done.  Miserable.  Not eating.  Not drinking.  It took everything for me to move, and getting in to a car and sitting at a doctor’s office was not high on my list of happy things to do.  But I went…every time.  My husband would drive me….and we would wait.  There were times I’d throw up there.  Times I’d have to get fluids.  And this one time….while the waiting area was full of people in similar situations….I just couldn’t take it anymore.  I got on the floor and just stayed there.  My husband tried to get me up….the floor is dirty, this is crazy….everything.  But I didn’t care.  It felt so good to just be there.  Not moving, not sitting, and not caring.

It seems so stupid, how something so simple can help, but it truly did.  And this morning, as my poor sick daughter was laying on the floor…I didn’t have the heart to tell her to get up.  She needed that moment…and I let her have it.  I’m sure I’ll be judged….but sometimes in life you just have to do what you need.  And this morning….she needed this and for me not to tell her it was wrong.

Katie 🙂