Screw You, Cancer – I went on a Cruise to the Caribbean – solo!

I have always loved my own company. 
My sister was 19 years older and married and off on her own by the time I was born, so I was raised as an only child.

I have always loved to entertain myself, even from a very young age.
I would sit in my room and play with my Breyer horses and my Tonka trucks with horse trailers and set up make-shift equestrian centers, complete with barns and outdoor arenas filled with vertical jumps and oxers and cavaletti.

I would curl up under a blanket on the couch in the living room with my dog Bootsie and watch Petticoat Junction and Hee Haw and The Brady Bunch.  My favorite, though, was Speed Racer, which I had to watch with the sound turned down because my mother wouldn’t allow me to watch it because they “stab people.”  I would design an incredibly elaborate race track with those orange sections of plastic track and race my Hotwheels cars for hours until it was time for dinner.

Another favorite pastime during my alone time was sitting cross-legged in the rain under a blanket and a bubble umbrella reading a book.  Yes, I’ve always been weird.

Don’t get me wrong, my parents paid attention to me. 
My stay-at-home mom would do craft projects with me and catch butterflies with me; my dad would play catch with me in the back yard and go bike riding with me, and teach me how to change the oil or a tire on the car.

But, I always preferred to hang out by myself most of the time.
I don’t know if it is this upbringing or the fact that I’m a 100%, textbook Aquarian – aloof, independent, stubborn, territorial – but whatever the combination, I have always preferred to hang out by myself most of the time.

It is because of this, I absolutely love to travel solo.
I love to travel with my best travel buddy Kelsey, but solo excursions and adventures really get me!  I can do what I want, when I want, stop when I want, switch gears in the middle of an activity to some other activity completely unrelated, and no one looks at me like I have three heads.  I can take a nap all afternoon and no one is nagging me to “get up and do something.”

Welcome to reacquired independence.  Wait!
After my divorce and finding my way back to being comfortable in my own skin and to the place where I had always been before marriage – mentally, physically, financially – I was diagnosed with my second breast cancer.  It was Ductal Carcinoma in situ, which differed from the first diagnosis because this time it had not yet invaded the surrounding tissue.  Crap!  I was just crawling out from under the rock of oppression!

But, it is what it is, and I had thankfully started to re-discover my old self, my independent self, my determined self in the few short months of freedom, and with the help of God and my nieces, I was going to kick cancer’s ass once again!

And not only did I survive breast cancer again, I am thriving and have an entirely new outlook on life. 
During and after my first bout with cancer, I was angry.  So angry.  Angry at God, angry at my genetic make-up, angry at all the junk food I ate, angry that cancer had taken my dad and my sister, angry because I lost everything – my farm, my animals, my cars, my hair, my sanity.  Just totally pissed off about everything.

My second diagnosis was so completely different.  And, it wasn’t like a conscious effort to have a different outlook on life afterward, it just happened.  Like a light switch.  I wasn’t angry this time – at all!  Sure, I was nervous and scared, and even though I have always been an independent, determined person, the woman I was now with the second diagnosis was much stronger and much more determined.  I faced it down with a fierceness I didn’t know I had in me and beat its ass!

That fierceness has carried over into my sense of adventure.
Sure, some of it is a sense of desperation at not knowing when or if my cancer will return – and feeling the need to cram in as much as I can before that happens (read more about that here); but, along with that has come a new, even-greater sense of adventure.  I have always been fearless, and had more guts than brains, but even this new outlook was something far greater than even I could have ever imagined.  And I can imagine a lot!

The world seems more colorful, more vibrant, more interesting and I want to see it all!  Always have, but now it is imperative!

Combine my independence, my sense of adventure, and my insatiable wanderlust, and you have the makings of my first solo cruise.
I had been on two cruises before – one with a girl friend in 2001, and a second with my then-husband and step-daughter in 2012.

But now in 2016, I booked my first solo cruise, and I absolutely could not wait! 
I flew to Miami alone, checked myself in on the cruise alone, took up the entire bed in my cabin alone, went out on shore excursions on my own – and absolutely loved every minute of it!  My dining room tablemates were lovely and surprisingly included another woman solo traveler, so it was nice to have something in common with someone at the table, other than the standard “happy couples.”

I danced to Dean Martin’s “That’s Amore” with our Maitre D’ on formal dinner night, and got “Low” and funky in the dining room aisle with our really cool waiter during casual dining night.

I would wake up in the middle of the night and run upstairs in my pjs to get myself an ice cream cone from the free 24-hour soft serve machine and take it back to my cabin and settle back into my bed with a complete sense of freedom and joy for life.

I pampered myself with massages and mani/pedis in the ship’s spa, played arcade games and bingo solo, and drank Mudslides while laying out poolside on the deck.  I showered when I wanted, ate when and where I wanted, and lounged around in my cabin naked – and no one cared!  It was amazing!

There were only two downsides.
It was only 5-days long; and I missed my dogs.

And, the itch is looming once again!
With my next “parole hearing” coming up in a month, that sense of urgency is running screaming through my brain!  As soon as I find out I’m good to go (read still in remission) for another Six Months, I am so ready to book my next solo adventure and have been searching for the next perfect solo getaway.  I’m thinking Thailand, Belize, or maybe even another cruise.

Stay tuned!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Valentine’s Day – The Parliament of Fowls – an excerpt from a Chaucer poem

Please allow me to give you this day an excerpt from The Parliament of Fowls, by one of my favorite writers – Geoffrey Chaucer.

The Parliament of Fowls

-Geoffrey Chaucer

When I had come again unto the place
Of which I spoke, that was so sweet and green,
Forth I walked to bring myself solace.
Then was I aware, there sat a queen:
As in brightness the summer sun’s sheen
Outshines the star, right so beyond measure
Was she fairer too than any creature.
And in a clearing on a hill of flowers
Was set this noble goddess, Nature;
Of branches were her halls and her bowers
Wrought according to her art and measure;
Nor was there any fowl she does engender
That was not seen there in her presence,
To hear her judgment, and give audience.

For this was on Saint Valentine’s day,
When every fowl comes there his mate to take,
Of every species that men know, I say,
And then so huge a crowd did they make,
That earth and sea, and tree, and every lake
Was so full, that there was scarcely space
For me to stand, so full was all the place.
And as Alain, in his Complaint of Nature,
Describes her array and paints her face,
In such array might men there find her.
So this noble Empress, full of grace,
Bade every fowl to take its proper place
As they were wont to do from year to year,
On Saint Valentine’s day, standing there.

 

heart

HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY

 

 

 

Finally Friday – 2/9/18 – What’s On Tap?

giphy

What’s on tap?
Not a whole lot.  It’s snowy and cold outside, and well – I just don’t function very well when it’s under 75 degrees outside.

I am working on a few craft projects:
I’m finishing up a New Baby Boy Mini Album commissioned by a lady I met in November.  Here are a couple pictures of some of the pages.  I will post a complete review of the finished album.

I’m also working on a jewelry order.
One of my musician friends – Mr. Chris Caffery of Trans-Siberian Orchestra –  saves all his guitar strings from the TSO tours and then I make bracelets out of them.  He then sells them on his website.  Check them out in his web store here … www.chriscaffery.com.

IMG_1886

And I’ve been playing around with an art journal.
I have never done mixed media before, and certainly not water color, so it is a very steep learning curve for me.  I have thrown away 98% of the pages, but here are a couple I’ve kept.  I will be doodling around in this journal some more if I have time.

Other than that …
I also have some laundry to do – which I probably won’t do.  And I’ll visit my Mom!  

Have a great weekend everyone!

Sucks/Doesn’t Suck – L’Oreal Voluminous Butterfly Sculpt Mascara

2295289

I am a fanatic about long, full eyelashes.
I always had long, full lashes, even as a child.  I managed to somehow not lose all my lashes or eyebrows from chemotherapy, even though my head was totally bald and all the tiny peach fuzz had fallen from my cheeks and face giving me the smoothest complexion I’ve ever had.  (Silver lining to chemo treatments – until it grew back!)

When I do manage to get up early enough to put on make-up, I’ve jumped on the false eyelash wagon train lately.  I love how they look.  However, you have to take them off every night and wash them and put them back in the tray and oh my dog what a pain in the ass that is!

Or, you could do what I did.
Fall asleep without removing them and wake up in the morning with one stuck to your cheek.  I’m not even afraid of spiders, but I flicked that thing all the way across the room.  Then, I laughed when I figured out what it was.

I’m always experimenting with new mascaras and other lash products.
Well, any cosmetics for that matter!  It’s for science!  Or this blog!  Okay, I get it.  “Hello, my name is Lisa and I’m a cosmetics-aholic.”

On this edition of Sucks/Doesn’t Suck, I am reviewing L’Oreal Voluminous Butterfly Sculpt Mascara.

At the outset, I couldn’t wait to get it open and check out the wand.  imagesH2774IHV

I wasn’t initially disappointed.  It is sleek.  The wand also is not round like a regular mascara wand.  It is V shaped with nice, long bristles on each side of the V, and a trough in the center that holds product (whether it was designed to do this, I don’t know).  In addition, the base of the V is designed to tight line both your upper and lower lash line.  Lastly, the brush tapers up to help wing out your outer lashes.

The product is a great color (I tried Blackest Black 868).  It is thick and moves well through the bristles.  One issue I had, though, is the trough down the center holds a lot of product, which you end up swiping up your lashes causing clumps.  Note, however, that the clumps can be smoothed out with the wand tip or a cotton swab.

The tight line feature is nice.  I feel that was a nice benefit, although I ran into the same problem with more product in the trough going onto my lashes while tight lining.

The other problem I experienced was with my application method and not necessarily the product itself.  I put my mascara on both eyes with my right hand, so when I’m applying it to my left eye, the taped wing bristles are now on the inner corner of my eye, rather than the outer corner, where it is designed to upsweep those outer lashes.  I am practicing other application methods.

I actually do like the product. 
It does what it says it will do — adds mega volume to your lashes.  The clumps can be dealt with if you catch them while still damp.  I feel like I could actually get a handle on the issues outlined above.  I only used the product one time – for this blog post – and am eager to try again and attempt to resolve the trough/clump problem.  I will report back!

Below are three pictures. 
The first is of my face and lashes clean and plain.  The second is a picture of my lashes with only one coat of L’Oreal Voluminous Butterfly Sculpt mascara.  The third is full face make-up and two coats of L’Oreal Voluminous Butterfly Sculpt mascara.

IMG_2125No Mascara

IMG_2128One coat of L’Oreal Voluminous Butterfly Sculpt Mascara

IMG_2137
Two coats of L’Oreal Voluminous Butterfly Sculpt Mascara and full face of cosmetics.

SURVEY SAYS:  Doesn’t suck!

 

Weird Wednesday – Feb. 7, 2018 – A Cat, a Nerd, and a Bacteria Colony

Today’s Weird Wednesday features my cat – Deva Quinn (Day-vuh).
(Named after Anna/Carrie’s daughter on Banshee).

She is just about a year and a half old and she is just the goofiest thing.  I adopted her from a cat rescue about this time last year.  She sleeps in bed with me along side her two canine sisters.  IMG_1812

What’s weird about her?
Well, for some reason the “good” bacteria colony in her belly becomes “overgrown” about once a month and she becomes lethargic, poopie, and pukey.  I took her to the vet the first time this happened, which is how I got the diagnosis, and they gave her antibiotics and poop paste to stiffen that up and sent her on her way.  This cost me nearly $200. Once I discovered this was going to happen every month, I had to come up with a new (less expensive) solution.

scientific method

And this is where my total nerdiness kicked in.
I applied the scientific method and began to construct the first hypothesis I would try to prove.  That hypothesis was, “if a woman can consume Activia probiotic yogurt to maintain a healthy digestive bacterial balance, would this also apply to a cat.”

Was it safe?
I did the research on whether Activia yogurt would be harmful to my cat, and the resources I checked not only had positive things to say about cats eating Activia yogurt (although nearly all specified plain, not flavored yogurt), they also related that a lot of cats love yogurt and look forward to a small amount as a treat every now and then.

Of course, not my cat.
Deva not only doesn’t consider Activia yogurt a treat, I’m fairly certain she believes the substance is piping hot brimstone from the very bowels of hell.  My procedure for giving her a small amount of yogurt is to practically sit on top of her, hold her by the neck, dip my finger into the yogurt to get a small dab on my finger, and then proceed to pry her mouth open long enough to wipe the yogurt from my finger onto her tongue without her clamping her sharp teeth down onto my digit.  And, without her spitting it back out onto the floor.  I repeat this procedure until I’ve gotten three dabs of yogurt in her for two consecutive days.  (Please note that at all times throughout this ordeal, Deva is safe and unharmed, which I can’t always say for myself.)

Does this procedure work?
It actually does.  For the past several months, whenever Deva seems to have a relapse, I have been giving her the yogurt, and within a couple days, she’s back to her spry, crazy self.

Having proved my hypothesis into theory, I am taking my experimentation even further.
I wondered if Activia yogurt could be used as a prophylactic measure, and if by giving Deva Quinn yogurt in the same method described above BEFORE she becomes ill if this idea would keep her healthy so she didn’t have to have a couple of days of down time every month.

I will let you know if this hypothesis becomes proven into theory!

IMG_1766

 

 

 

Sorry about my absence! Mom’s fault!

Tuesday, January 30, 2018; 11:30 pm.
Mom fell and broke her tailbone and they sent her to the hospital.  I dutifully followed.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018.
The next day, they discovered two more things:

1) that she had a stroke; and

2) that her blood pressure was doing flip flops depending on her position.  When she stands, her blood pressure drops dramatically making her faint and then she falls.

Orthostatic hypotension — also called postural hypotension —
is a form of low blood pressure that happens when you stand
up from sitting or lying down. Orthostatic hypotension can make
you feel dizzy or lightheaded, and maybe even faint.

Thursday, February 1, 2018.
On Thursday, they discovered the third issue when she aspirated her food and drink while eating, so they ran a test on her and found out her epiglottis (that flap that closes over your windpipe when you swallow) doesn’t completely close, so thin liquids and chunky foods are slipping by and getting into her trachea.

Friday, February 2, 2018.
Mom was released from the hospital and sent back to the skilled nursing facility where she lives with an entire dossier of new instructions.  We had to meet with the social worker to get all her paperwork filled out for her “bed hold,” Medicare, Medicaid, and whatever else.

Needless to say, between Tuesday night near midnight and Friday afternoon around 2:30 in the afternoon, I had gotten a TOTAL of around 5 hours of sleep and missed three days of work.

Saturday was spent blissfully unaware in my bed with my two dogs and my cat – all day!

IMG_2167

Yes, I have a queen-sized bed; and yes, they are all three crammed
up on my side laying on top of my legs.  Filed under:  SPOILED!

Sunday I visited Mom.
She was surprisingly in decent spirits, despite being reminded “EVERY 5 MINUTES,” that she needs to call for assistance when she needs to stand up – to which she replies without fail, “I’ve been going to the bathroom by myself for 90 years.  I think I know what I’m doing,” and with complete disregard for the actual reason she needs assistance — that being she simply needs help to stand.

She is also now on a nectar-thick diet for liquids and needs to have her foods pureed.  Oh, and if that wasn’t enough, she is having speech therapy (to help with her swallowing) 3 times per week, and physical therapy (to improve her leg strength) 5 times a week.  The 95-year-old gets more exercise than I do now!

I’m so glad she’s still around!  She’s my Mom!

File this under:  I don’t want to get old!