This blog is for Jim Marventano's family and friends to review his status and updates while he goes through treatment for Stage IV Colon Cancer. We can beat it together!

Monday, April 26, 2010

40 Days of Yoga

It's another beautiful day in Wisconsin. I thought I'd update the blog to let everyone know that I am, in fact, not sitting in the basement huddled in a corner nursing a bottle of ripple.

The blog is very cathartic for me. Thank you to those of you who wrote or responded in some way. It means a lot to me. Once I got it all off my chest I started feeling better. Don't get me wrong - I am still very upset about the situation and I am hurting for that family. But I didn't want everyone to think that I'd completely come apart at the seams, either. :)

I have been doing a yoga experiment. It was originally supposed to be a plan wherein I change my entire life through yoga, changing my eating habits, meditation, and journaling. So far I've managed to do some yoga, lots of meditation, a little journaling - but the changing my eating habits thing has gone right out the window. (Obviously eating right isn't my focus if I told you that I went through a box of Wheat Thins, string cheese, and a bottle of wine in a single day.)

In any case, the meditation and journaling have led me to an interesting realization, which is that perhaps I am not living my ideal life here in Kohler. This life was ideal for me when Jim was here. But it isn't anymore. Kohler, in all it's adorableness, is rife with married couples. Which is wonderful, but it's not exactly a dating mecca. Although there is SO much to love about Wisconsin, the winters really aren't my thing. One of my meltdowns this winter included a school day when it seemed EVERYONE'S husband was out scraping snow off their cars. Jim would have been out there in a heartbeat. But, he's gone now. We worked really hard to set up the life we have here. This was our ideal. But now I'm on my own with two kids. Everywhere I look is another reminder of what I've lost.

Eric and I recently took a trip out to San Francisco to visit my brother Tom. I love it out in California. The weather is always gorgeous. Admittedly, Tom leads a totally different life than me. He lives in North Beach. His apartment looks out on to Alcatraz. Literally, it's amazing. I wouldn't want to live in the city with two kids. I did that in Atlanta with Jim and Rachel, and I really didn't relish it. So I started looking for some place to move that has better weather, a reasonable cost of living, and that would be good for my kids. The real factor, though, is that I need to find a place that my parents will consider as well.

I meditated on it quite a bit. Rachel is named after my Great-Aunt Rachel. She lives in southern Oregon. My mom is always raving about Auntie Rachel and her cousin Stephanie. I wondered why they like it there and I started doing my research. I contacted Stephanie and she and her husband Joe have given me all sorts of information. More importantly, when I called mom and dad and asked if they would ever consider a move to Oregon, they said "Sure!" I nearly fell over. After all, their retirement home is here.

Even more amazing? I wrote my brother Kevin and his wife Becky to see if they would ever consider leaving the Twin Cities in favor of Oregon, and they said "Sure!"

I made reservations in a cute little town to rent a house this summer. We're ALL going to check it out. I can't wait.

I don't know that Oregon is the change I'm looking for. I could get out there and hate it. I've never been there before. I actually worried that I would be running away from my life here (see? sometimes I'm rational) and I spoke to the therapist about it. You know what she said? She said "Kate, it actually sounds like a very rational plan. In fact, if you like it, if I was you I'd consider moving before next summer." She said it sounds less like I'm running away from something and more like I'm running toward a new life. She said that as long as I stay here, there's a chance I will hold out hope that I could resume my old life. Yes, I get that. I hold that hope every single day.

I'm on Day 22 of the 40 Days experiment. I haven't lost a single pound. But I'm trying new things. I stumble and fall, then I get myself back up and try again. I'm meditating and going to class. If I shed a lifestyle that seems to be weighing me down, does that count as losing weight?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Self-Destruct Mode

Word spread around Kohler like wildfire this week. A new case of cancer. A child. It's someone I know.

The first day I found out, my heart sank and I cried. I called my mom and I tried to problem solve and think of things to help the family. Then I cried more.

Yesterday I got progressively worse. I literally ate everything I had in the house. I wrote my friend an email that I hope was encouraging. It literally took me hours to compose because I was so out of my wits. (Plus, I had to stop a couple of times to stuff my face with Wheat Thins and string cheese.) I cried a lot.

Eric visits me on Wednesdays. I tried to chase him off once and said I wasn't very good company and that he shouldn't come up from Milwaukee.

Then I tried again and told him not to come because I was planning to open the wine.

I gave in and opened the wine. By the time Eric got to my house, I was feeling more than good. We'd done a webcam call with the Marventanos wherein I'd made it clear that probably one glass of wine wasn't where I'd stopped. And I spoke with my friend Lisa on the phone and I'm sure I was a mess then too.

Then I started to cry. I just cried and cried. I tried to chase Eric away, but he didn't leave. I just sat in his arms and cried. I cried because it's not fair. I cried because it's tough to explain chemo to an adult, let alone a child. I cried because I can only pretend to know how those parents are feeling. I cried for my own children. I cried for the utter lack of control in life. I cried for my dreams lost. For my children's confusion about why they don't have a father. I cried for my friend's future - I know the child will be healed. But I also know that if the child has a runny nose or a loose tooth or stubs a toe, they are going to *freak* mentally and worry that it's cancer. I cried for the rumors and the annoying pitying looks. (The mother has already set up a blog, which I think is smart, as I found it to be the most forthright way of disbanding the rumor mill.) I cried for the feeling of being completely overwhelmed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I cried because I know what the medical bills and the paperwork will look like. I cried because my daughter (who is in first grade) said "Are you crying because {Child Smith} is sick? I heard people talking about it on the playground today." How is it possible that the kids at school are discussing it? Or that cancer is even a part of their realities?

Truthfully, I cried because I gave in and went for the wine.

Eric tried to tell me time and time again that today is a new day. He's right. I get to start over each day and try again. It's amazing the damage that self-destruct mode does. I let it absolutely ruin an entire day. I couldn't rally enough to do my hair or put on makeup. I tried to be productive but burned out after 2 hours. Rachel didn't have her homework done for school. I made an awful dinner. I forgot about our webcam call with the Marventanos because I'd already started the wine by the time the designated hour rolled around. I hung on my kids all day, like a wet blanket, telling them I love them. (Which Jake will accept; Rachel can tend to get annoyed with that kind of clingyness...) The house was a disgusting mess by the time we went to bed. I didn't wash the dishes or pick up a single thing. I just shut out the lights and left it all. I didn't have the energy to put sheets on my bed. I just slept on the mattress pad.

Things snowball. Sometimes it seems less like a snowball and more like an avalanche.

Today is a beautiful new day in Wisconsin. It's a chance for me to begin again. I am going to try to switch out of self-destruct mode and begin again, with the hope that I can proceed positively in this life.