Friday, October 30, 2009

NaNo - And Everything Else - My Way

I've been writing down all non-scheduled meds in a date book, and last night's entries were quite numerous. Not a lot of sleeping done but I feel pretty good nontheless. I have a feeling nights are going to be my enemies in the foreseeable future.

Got my NaNoWriMo launch email today (squeal!). For my non-writing friends, NaNo is National Novel Writing Month held at this time each year ( Participants strive to write a novel from scratch during the month of November. No editing - only fresh rough material.

I'm excited and want to start *now*. Known for being a rebel (quit laughing all you out there!), I'm doing a slightly different take on NaNo from the straight and narrow. Funny, because this is my first year to do it 'officially' signing up on the website and all. You'd think I'd follow the rules...LOL.

Anyway, I'm revamping a previous work of which I've saved a few scenes, the title, and the names of the characters. During NaNo, I'll be completing the rough draft of the main part of the book. Technically, you're supposed to start with nothing more than an outline and plot notes. I'm super-excited about this book, tho, and can't imagine working on anything else.

I'd better get busy organizing my stuff. Only today and tomorrow left until writing begins. Woo hoo!!


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

NANO, Chemo, and Clinging to Our Dreams

I actually meant to write this post yesterday, but I felt good enough to move around and be active. Today, I don't feel so great, but I'm going to squeeze this sucker out anyway.

I had an acquaintance, once upon a time, who told me the story of her breast cancer. Years ago she had a double mastectomy, chemo, and the rest. Another friend pointed out that this person had let her illness totally derail her writing dream. As far as I know, she's never bounced back either. Other than the breast cancer, this fellow writer and I have little in common. I never see her anymore, but I owe her a great debt that I would like to pay forward to others in my situation or who may someday join me.

As I listened to her story, so long ago, I never dreamed I would receive my own cancer diagnosis several years later. In Dec 2004, I found a lump in my right breast. It reminded me of other 'come-and-go' little lumps that appeared from time to time through my cycle. Instead of disappearing quickly, though, it stayed. It was minorly painful, so I thought maybe it was an infection with inflammation. My doctor prescribed a round of antibiotics that did nothing. The tumor, however, grew *fast*. In mid-to-late-January, my doctor sent me for an ultrasound which led to a biopsy which led to a diagnosis of breast cancer.

The first thought in my mind after the shock wore off was, "I will NOT let this derail my writing career." I'm a slow enough learner as it is. I can't let external issues slow me down even more.

In early March of 2005, the surgeon removed a tumor 11 centimeters in diameter, an almost unheard of size for the time period it had to grow. I went through 8 cycles of dose-dense chemo and a couple of months of radiation. No cancer was detected by any of the post-treatment scans, but I knew my doctor suspected we weren't done with this disease.

I could only hope......and write.

In August 2006, the breast cancer metastasized to a few small spots in my spine and pelvic bone. No chemo or other treatment to do as studies have found it ineffective in this situation. Very small, very slow growing, and utterly incurable. Fortunately 'boney disease' as they call it can be lived with for a long time.

Three years passed, and I've now received a third diagnosis. The breast cancer is in the liver. I remember my doctor saying "...not *if* but *when* it spreads to the liver..." I surely hoped I would have more time, but we play the hand we're dealt. With the grace of God we win, sometimes in very surprising ways.

I have a dual purpose now - send this cancer screaming out of my liver in terror and write like my hair's on fire and my ass is catching. My first chemo treatment is done and accelerating downhill toward mid-cycle where I will then struggle back up to enough strength to take the next one.

I invite you to take this journey with me (the writing part anyway :-)), but I accept no wimps, no excuses. As my good friend Heather said recently, "If @donnellepperson (who encouraged me to Nano) can do chemo-again-I think I can finish a draft during November w/o whining." Heather, you inspire me.

The rest of you: Comment here and let me know how your writing is going whether you're doing Nano or not. Let's inspire each other. Let's get that rough draft done despite the odds against us.

Talk to you soon!

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Let There Be Peace

Got the following from Focus on the Family regarding teaching our children conflict resolution (and you don't have to be a Christian to appreciate it). My friend Betty and I are on opposite sides of many (most?) political and religious issues and we've been discussing lately how both side feel embattled by the other. I think it's because we aren't using good conflict resolution practices.

A second reason this article appealed to me is that I've come to realize that the only Christian example some people have seen is negative, such as the Kansas congregation that protests at veteran's funerals and condones violence against those different from them. The news rarely reports Christian efforts at peacemaking or to promote the love of Jesus toward those who don't believe the way we do.

Here's what FOF's article says:

Here are 12 principles you can teach your children to help them resolve conflicts among themselves or with their friends.
by Ken Sande

You can teach your children how to resolve conflicts among themselves or with their friends and other people they know. Imagine how much better life could be for you and them.
Here are 12 key principles that young peacemakers need to learn:

1. Conflict is a slippery slope. Some children try to escape from a conflict, while others try to solve it by going on the attack. Few naturally try to work it out.

Escape Responses: These responses are used to get away from a conflict instead of trying to resolve it. They delay healing.
Denial — Pretending that a conflict does not exist or refusing to do what we can to work it out
Blame Game — Blaming others for the problem, pretending we did nothing wrong, covering up what we did, lying
Run Away — Prolonging the problem by running away from the other person

Attack Responses: These are wrong attempts to win a fight rather than resolve it. They damage a relationship further rather than repairing it.
Put Downs — Attacking others with harsh and cruel words, stirring up anger in others
Gossip — Talking about others behind their backs
Fight — Using physical force to get our way

Work-It-Out Responses: These are the only good ways to respond to a conflict.
Overlook an Offense — Dealing with an offense yourself by simply deciding to forgive a wrong
Talk-It-Out — Going directly to the other person to talk out your disagreements
Get Help — Asking a parent or teacher to help you decide how to handle the conflict you are involved in

2. Conflict starts in the heart. The choices we make to get our own way are deliberate. We decide whether to be obedient or disobedient, wise or foolish, caring or unloving.

3. Choices have consequences. For good or bad, the choices we make will affect us and others. Conflict is often the consequence of a choice we have made.

4. Wise-way choices are better than my-way choices. Selfishness is not smart and will not lead to happiness. The wise way is to obey authority, make right choices, seek godly advice and respect others.

5. The blame game makes conflict worse. It doesn't work to point the finger at someone else, cover up one's own bad choices or make excuses.

6. Conflict is an opportunity. By handling it right we get a chance to glorify God, serve others and become better people.
Conflict is not necessarily bad or destructive. Even when conflict is caused by wrong-doing and causes a great deal of stress, it can lead to good. You can use conflict to:
Glorify God (by trusting, obeying, and imitating him)
Serve other people (by helping to bear their burdens or by confronting them in love)
Grow to be like Christ (by confessing wrong and turning from attitudes that promote conflict)
These concepts are totally overlooked in most conflicts because people naturally focus on escaping from the situation or overcoming their opponent
Therefore, it is wise to step back from a conflict and ask yourself whether you are doing all you can to take advantage of these special opportunities.

7. The "Five A's" can resolve conflict. These simple steps will almost always lead to peace.
Children, like adults, can learn to confess their wrongs in a way that demonstrates they are taking full responsibility for their part in a conflict.

Admit what you did wrong. Include both wrong desires and bad choices.
Apologize for how your choice affected the other person. Express the sorrow you feel.
Accept the consequences for your wrongdoing without argument or excuses.
Ask for forgiveness.
Alter your choice in the future. Think over and plan how you are going to act differently next time.

8. Forgiveness is a choice, not a feeling. By forgiving someone, we are making four promises.

False Ideas about Forgiveness
You need to feel like forgiving before you can really forgive. (Wrong. It's a choice you make, not a feeling.)
Forgiveness means forgetting about what someone did to hurt you.
Forgiveness excuses the other person's sin.
Forgiveness depends on getting a guarantee that someone won't do the same wrong thing again.

Four Promises of Forgiveness
I promise I will not dwell on what you did wrong. I will think good thoughts about you and do good for you.
I promise I will not bring up this situation and use it against you.
I promise I will not talk to others about what you did.
I promise I will be friends with you again.

9. It is never too late to start doing what's right. You can always stop doing wrong, then think about a better way and plan how to pursue it.

10. Think before you speak. Or before you act. Or before you confront someone.

11. Respectful communication is more likely to be heard. This includes the words we speak, our tone of voice and our body language (making eye contact and avoiding bad gestures, facial expressions or posture).

12. A respectful appeal can prevent conflict. Learn how to make one.
Stop yourself from choosing to say or do something that will cause conflict.
Think about why you want to appeal and about what words to use.
Appeal (Ask): Using "I" messages and questions, communicate your appeal in a respectful way.
Respond respectfully whether the other person answers yes or no.

From Peacemaking for Families by Ken Sande, a Focus on the Family book published by Tyndale House. Copyright © 2002 by Peacemaker® Ministries. All rights reserved. International copyright secured. Used with permission.