Some friends of friends (that I call my friends) took the first 365 days of their marriage and have been traveling the world. From Southeast Asia to Patagonia and all these incredible places in-between they took off from their jobs and set out to explore the world. They have kept all of us informed through their blog where they take turns sharing of their incredible journey and sometimes exhausting uncomfortable days in the most unlikely of places. Each time they post I look forward to hearing of what their next adventure was…. but particulary this morning the post has touched me so. Her words read….

“Words can’t express how unimaginably thankful I am for this year. Among so many other things, it has given us time and space. To learn things we’ve always wanted to learn. To do things we’ve always wanted to do. The things that would have otherwise remained on the “someday I’ll..’ list.”

Someday I’ll…. 

Her words brought tears to my eyes. I feel the same way… not because I traveled the world for a year but because my journey through breast cancer gave me so much of this same thoughts. It gave me time and space and made me ask myself, what have I always wanted to do? Amongst these things breast cancer showed me how precious it all is and exposed me to the very depth of sorrow. It brought me to the very deepest brokenness that I never knew one could feel and still have a heart beat. It has given me a perspective some would say… but if you ask me it has given me immense gratitude for what it means to be alive.

I am now two years and two months cancer free and in my constant wrestling with what should I do next and where should I spend my time, occasionally I come back to the place of asking myself…. who am I? What makes me me. What makes me feel alive? What gives me joy? Do you ever ask yourself that? What truly gives you life? What do you really love? Not in the artificial or you are expected to love that sort of thing way, but what do YOU really love?

Unfortunately this is harder than it looks to do because just as we seem to get the answers to these questions the pressure of society and the expectations we set on ourselves come crashing over us… So I again go back to this place of asking the questions over again or as Mary Oliver says, “What will you do with your one wild and precious life?”

For me this has become the theme of the past few months… I began dedicating time to teaching Sunday School. I have always loved kids so I thought to myself why not start on Sunday mornings. Next I began babysitting. Not because I need the money necessarily but because it has been a gift. It has been life giving to have the opportunity to pour into kids lives, make them feel special and give the parents an evening away. I then decided to invite my breast cancer group and coworkers to join me at the Denver Rescue Mission so we can serve men and women a warm meal. This has been a different kind of rewarding that one must experience to understand and lastly my “Someday I’ll” brought me to my road bike and California. I have always wanted to ride my road bike on the coast of California… so this October I will ride 200 miles to raise money for the Young Survivor Coalition. I am riding for all of the women who can no longer ride. I will ride for my dear friend Amy who showed me how to battle breast cancer and fight to the very end. I will ride for all of those who had a “Someday I’ll” list and never got to do those things.

So McKenzie and Brad while you travel the world I want to say thank you… for reminding me that we are meant to take the time and the space to do the very things that have been implanted on our hearts. It is so often so easy to forget…

So what is on your “Someday I’ll” list that you have been waiting to do….

______________

Please consider supporting me in my bike ride this October. Due to the generosity of SO MANY of you I am only $75.00 to my goal of $2500.00. I have now decided that by October I will try and double this amount. Thank you all for your support.

Each year, more approximately 12,150 women under age 40 are diagnosed with breast cancer. That’s a small number compared with the estimated 246,600 diagnoses this year in women of all ages, but the disease is typically more aggressive and more likely to metastasize in younger patients. The Young Survivor Coalition works with survivors, caregivers and medical, research, advocacy and legislative communities to increase the quality and quantity of life for women ages 40 and under who are diagnosed with breast cancer. The money raised in Tour de Pink rides helps educate, empower, and connect more than 250,000 women living in the U.S. today who were diagnosed with breast cancer.

You may click to donate below! Thank you!

https://west.ysctourdepink.org/KRISTINA

 

You read my subject line and probably thought to yourself what is Kristina up to now. To be honest I have to ask myself that quite often. As I mark my second year as a breast cancer survivor I am learning more and more about how important it is to say yes to things that make me feel alive and fill you up, while giving yourself the opportunity to say no to things that steal. I recently finished the book, Present Over Perfect and these words seemed so appropriate….

“The world will tell you how to live, if you let it. Don’t let it. Take up your space. Raise your voice. Sing your song. This is your chance to make or remake a life that thrills you.”
― Shauna Niequist

If you know me well and live close in my company you know that life is something I treasure dearly. I have learned unfortunately the hard way at how precious it is. When asked of having breast cancer young, I often tell people I was given the “privilege” of being diagnosed young and the joy of living as a survivor. It has given me the opportunity to take some steps back from this life and spend more time on those things that matter most.

So that brings me to this October…. I have made the decision to ride in a three day 200 mile charity bike ride up and down the coast of Southern California in honor, celebration and remembrance of other young women like myself who have had breast cancer. The ride takes place on October 27-29, 2017. The ride totals: 207 miles. 8,128 feet elevation. I am excited about dedicating the next 7 months to training and fundraising for this special event. I fully intend to keep my blog as a place of information, training and my fundraising efforts.

One of the most personal ways you can participate is by making a donation. For each person that donates at least $50.00 you may give the name of one person that you would like to be written on my jersey. It may be in celebration of or in memory of. I would be truly honored to ride with their name written on my back.

Please visit my page below to see how you can get involved. I will be posting and sharing a lot more about this event over the next few months! So looking forward to representing all Breast Cancer Survivors in October.

https://west.ysctourdepink.org/KRIS

TWO YEARS

You have cancer and to be honest I don’t know what to say. You look to me for the answers to understand and I have attempted to protect myself from going to that place again. On the outside we talk about things analytically and I carefully try to keep myself from feeling too much.

But, what you cannot see is that inside of me I created a shell to protect myself and it is slowly starting to crack. My efforts to keep my emotions tightly packaged are too much. So overtime my shell breaks down and I slowly break alongside you. Not all at once but slowly the tears take over for my confidence and I find myself back in that place all together again.

If I am honest it breaks my heart that you have to feel what I felt. That you will find yourself in the darkest of the deepest of places. And all I want to say is I am sorry and I wish I could take it away from you. Rather prideful of me but I think to myself I did it before, I can do it again. So Lord just let me try again.

Because if I told you what I really felt about cancer, I would say it is the best and worst thing. But most often it will feel like the worst thing.  What I would rather tell you is what happens afterward. (the better part). But, before you can have the after you have to have the now.  The now that wants to come so close to breaking you before you are healed. The now that hurts. A depth of loneliness that only cancer creates. It is this weird place where only you know, others attempt to understand and a place only you get to be. Cancer doesn’t share. It is not contagious. It comes at you and then everything you encounter is impacted by more ways than I can mention on this blog.

I could tell you that you will be stronger than you ever thought, but unfortunately you won’t realize that until the end and there may not be an end. I could tell you that that life will be richer after, that things will matter to you that you never imagined that they would but I don’t know if you will get life after. I could tell you to let others in, let others love  you and care for you but trust me it is hard to do. But oh if you can please try. Try even just a little.

I have decided that one of the most beautiful places to be looking is into someone else eyes. Not just anyones eyes but the eyes of someone who is crying for you. I have known and felt love but never knew how much until I saw the eyes of those who looked at me and grieved. Those who looked at me as tears filled there eyes. It is truly and honor and a privilege to be the recipient of someones tears.

So while you are walking the road you never wanted, the story you never dreamed would be yours, take some time to look into the eyes of others and see their tears and know how dearly loved and treasured you are. Because you indeed are dearly and truly loved.

I am still navigating this post cancer life, honored to have had the opportunity to share my story this past weekend at Snowshoe for the Cure in Frisco Colorado. Below are some pictures! (Wigs make everything better)

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I am not sure if it is the cloudy day or the crisp of the cool air hitting my cheeks that has every being in my body wishing to crawl back under the covers…… or maybe its the way my heart has softened and slowed this week. For more than a few moments the weight of it all has me stopped in my tracks. I crawled in bed Tuesday evening and slept almost twelve hours. My body and my mind were overwhelmed and I couldn’t bare it anymore….

I got my test results and everything was good. My tumor markers were normal. My ovaries looked fine. But yet my heart feels heavy. Why me I ask? It brings me to tears. How come me? What about her? She had a husband? She had little kids? Why not her? Why me? Why give me more days? I mean the collateral damage that I would have caused would be so minimal. My family they would be fine, I am sure of it. My parents, they have their grandson and my sister and brother in law close. Me? well gosh I mean it would have been fine. I was an easy choice. Why not me? Why them? Why now? This is the conversation that brings tears to my eyes. The conversation I have had a million times with myself and I don’t have an answer to the Why. There is no explanation for why I am still here and breast cancer was not the end of the story?

And while my words may be difficult to hear, it is how I feel quite often. I become overwhelmed with the reality that is living. That I am alive.

For many of you I would imagine that you don’t often think this way but this week I have been given the incredible gift of being overwhelmed with gratitude that God would grant me more days. More healthy days at that. What a sweet reminder it is.

While I continue to process, heal and allow myself to feel all that it is about my story, I come back to this place of gratitude. Of an overwhelming feeling that I get to live, and live well. I have hours and minutes to love on other people. I have hands to feed homeless. I have friends to run with. I have a job to take pride in. I have a nephew that makes my heart explode. I get to feel and live. So on this day… even when tears meet me so expectedly I am grateful. I don’t know why, and sometimes wish I could understand but for now I accept the gift I have been given and gosh darn it I don’t want to waste.

Cancer totally and completely stinks… but it can be if we allow it, the sweet reminder that life is so very precious and we are indeed given such a tremendous gift in being alive.

 

Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon? Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?

—Mary Oliver

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“Bucket lists seem so self-involved. I live with the joy of the snuggle today, the hope for kisses tomorrow, and the grace to see grace even when it’s hard.” – Kara Tippets

In my recent days of scrolling my Facebook or Instagram feed it seems more and more of people are climbing this supposed ladder of life. Always wanting, longing and wanting again for more. As though that one more thing, one more experience, one more purchase will provide for us in some way the next thing we need to get to the next place we want to go. Some deep place in my heart has told me that perhaps this is all wrong. That life is not meant to be lived in excess, or without rest, life is simply being present in your everyday.

So yes while I would love to see the Northern lights and walk the course at Augusta for the Masters with my dad, I long even more for nights of seeing the stars in my home of Colorado and better yet to find myself getting tips from my dad on a tee box in Kentucky. While yes the idea of skiing in the Swiss Alps seems magical and the thought of driving the coast of California while my hair flows from the roof of a convertible makes me smile, the sheer gift of getting to ski the same mountain that I have since I came to Colorado in my teens is enough and my faithful Subaru that gets me to and from my job beats any red mustang if you ask me.

All because the life I am given today is enough. It always has been.

I have always wanted more, always reexamined my life to find what was missing. But more recently I began to ask the question, what if nothing is missing? What if I am already made whole. What if this is the only job I ever have the rest of my life? What happens if I never see the Great Barrier Reef or hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon? Was my life full? Was it enough?

Kara Tippets writes this sentence “Sure I long for graduations, wedding days, and grandbabies with a giant part of my being, but I’m not angry if that isn’t given to me. For today, this day, I have ……..”

If I were to rewrite her sentence for myself it would read:

“Sure I long to get married, to have a family, to buy my first home with a giant part of my being, but I’m not angry if that isn’t given to me. For today, this day, I have….. a family that still makes me feel close even though I live far away. I have a job that I enjoy, a home that is warm to come home too and roommates that make being a single gal in Denver just a little bit more fun. I have a new found love for golf that I only wish I hadn’t waited so long to start, I have a blonde haired nephew that whole world seems to revolve around and I am ok with that. I have the joy of living in Colorado, a place that I love and mountains that I get to ski, climb and admire. I have hair to my shoulders again and god willing will be two years cancer free this March”

So that bucket list that is on this site, while those things all seem pretty incredible I would take these things written above over it all. Because my life today is enough and I am enough.

I encourage you to try to rewrite the sentence for yourself. Remind yourself of what you long for but don’t forget what you already have.

Sending all the best and love this new year to you.

Love Kristina

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