The Nooks and Crannies of Joy

Today I get to have an “ideal” day.  A cold wintry Sunday, the shortest day of the year (extra Vitamin D today!), is such a good time to just curl up at home and not have to go out.  This is the first weekend probably since May (or maybe it just feels that way?) where I don’t have a ton of plans.  Though all of my outings the last few months have been invigorating (I really take advantage of the weekends to connect with friends and family, maybe go into the city or take a yoga class), I am so relieved that I can just spend this one at home.

I plan on spending the day in my pj’s as much as possible.  This morning I’m going to be baking my first ever pie– so “holiday-ish,” right?  It’s actually for SHL’s 35 birthday, which is today.  6 years ago I went up north (wayyy up north) to Goose Bay Canada with SHL to meet his family for the very first time during Christmas.  It was so cold the whole time and there was just so much snow on the ground that we didn’t even venture out that much (not that there is that much to see, sorry honey).  One of the things that he was really excited to have me try was his Mom’s bakeapple pie.  Yum, I thought.  An apple pie?  During Christmas, in the cold?  Sounds lovely.  I could picture myself all curled up on the couch with a slice of the pie and maybe a little vanilla ice cream and a fire roaring and the smell of apples and cinnamon wafting throughout the house.  Negative.  Bakeapple pie has nothing to do with apples (to this day, I still don’t understand why they call it this).  It is actually cloudberries, whatever the heck those are.  I didn’t want to be rude, but I almost wanted to spit it out!  Maybe because I was expecting apple and got something else (if I remember correctly, very tart), or maybe because cloudberries are pretty gross (or just not something that we’re used to eating)– whatever the reason, my daydream of a warm winterish apple pie suddenly vanished into something non-edible.  But SHL ate it right up, this cloudberry “thing.”  Turns out that it’s a special dessert native to Labrador, where he’s from, and he still talks about it sometimes when we talk about our favorite foods (I later found out that cloudberries can survive really cold temps, which is probably why they’re so popular in that neck of the woods).

So on his 35th birthday, I decided that I wanted to make him this bakeapple pie.  After all, he moved to the States for me and misses his Donair pizza and beef jerky.  I had to order the cloudberries off of Amazon, as apparently they’re really hard to get in the States.  I looked up a recipe online, and this morning, I’m going to bake my first ever pie.  The question is, to make the crust, or not to make the crust?  I like a challenge.  (I bought a pre-made one just in case I mess up the homemade one).  We’ll see how it turns out.

I can’t wait until he comes home from work so that I can watch him open up his cards and his presents.  Then I’ll make him another favorite– homemade mac ‘n cheese for dinner!

Birthdays have always been super important to me.  I’ve always loved celebrating mine, and those that I love.  It’s important to be there for each other in the tough times, but it’s also important to celebrate the good times, too.  And with my eyes wide open to those good times, I realize now that they’re abundant.  It doesn’t just have to be in a birthday, holiday, or anniversary.  It can be in a cozy night at home giggling with your spouse while watching TV, or having a long chat with an out-of-state friend.  It can be in the gratitude of something major like a clean scan, or it can be celebrating the fact that you took care of yourself, that you took care of somebody else, that you love and that you feel loved.  If we can find the joy in the nooks and crannies of the everyday life, then I think we’re just one step closer to figuring out that happiness lies within us.  It’s not in that new car, promotion at work, or pair of earrings that we just bought ourselves.  It’s in us.  It’s always in us.  And if we believe that, if we strive towards that and live it, then we’re more likely to be happy, more of the time.  (Rather than seeking it elsewhere).  I struggle with this because I’m probably just like everybody else: finding happiness in a vacation or wearing a new outfit or buying something for our house.  But the more I tap into the notion that happiness isn’t a “thing,” that it’s within me, the closer I think I am to feeling happy for no reason at all.

That doesn’t mean that external influences or circumstances can’t also make us happy, though.  I had a goal for 2014 to have something of mine published for the very first time.  It took me months of writing and re-writing and talking about it (and talking about it some more) before I could actually gather the courage to submit a piece to a website.  “They’re probably not going to accept it anyway,” is what my “gremlin” told me (you know, that inner voice that tells you that you’re not good enough).  So when I got an email back that they wanted to publish it, I was elated.  I was told that they would probably put it up on their website before the end of the year, and while anytime really would have been amazing, I was bursting with pride that it happened this past Thursday!  I had met my goal of doing this in 2014!  What truly amazed me was the feeling of meeting that goal.  For so long, I have been scared of failing.  Or is it a fear of success?  I’m not sure.  But the outpouring of love and support for my first ever published article filled me to the brim with a sense of purpose that I’m not sure I’ve ever really felt before.

If you missed it and would like to read it, please go to and click on the article that says, “You Have the Strength and Wisdom to Thrive Through Hard Times.”

From that article sprung so many lovely things:  heartfelt comments on the website, my gut telling me that it was going to be OK, safe, and even important, for me to live authentically and share it on Facebook (woa, that was major.  Telling the FB world that I have cancer).  But I think I did the right thing, and people were so supportive, it was heart-warming.  Somebody who linked from Tiny Buddha posted a question on my blog and it had nothing to do with cancer, but with making a life decision about taking a job offer.  I was in awe and honestly, over joyed that even people without cancer had taken something from my article.  That it could reach a wide audience, not just those who are living with a chronic disease.

And if you believe in the universe reaching out, as I do, then you’ll love this:  On the day that my article was published, the non-profit organization that I volunteer for (The Cancer Hope Network) emailed me to ask if they had my correct updated address.  It occurred to me that perhaps they would like to read my article, so I sent it on.  They quickly responded with asking if they could publish it not just in their quarterly newsletter, but on their blog as well!  I was so touched.  Then they read You Can Handle The Truth and asked if they could take some of my posts and re-post them on their own blog!  So if you’re interested to see what that looks like, please go to the Cancer Hope Network’s blog, found here:  I am thrilled and honored that what I have to say speaks to them, and that they want to share it with the CHN community.

I know that the holidays can be a crazy time of year.  Pressure to find the perfect gift, to perhaps spend money that you don’t have, to make everything from scratch, to be in 3 places at once– But do me a favor.  Take at least one day before the end of this year to do something that you want to do (I want to make the mac ‘n cheese and the pie, but I’m also going to take some time today to curl up with my book as well).  It doesn’t matter if it’s calling up a friend and having a good laugh, bundling up and taking a walk by yourself just to get some peace and quiet, or making a pact to add some fruits and veggies before the fruitcake:  Just remember to take care of you (I’m here to remind you that you’re just as important as anybody else!).  I am trying to practice what I preach, so I realize that it’s not easy.  But if the notion of taking good care of ourselves is at least a seed planted in our minds, then we’re more likely to strive towards getting that seed to grow, and then bloom.  xoxo.





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