I just spent the weekend surrounded by family, friends and supporters who all had one thing in common: a desire to find a cure for breast cancer. The first annual TREKKIN FOR THIES' TA-TAS poker run was held this past weekend and it. was. amazing.
People from all walks of life came out to a benefit my family organized on behalf of my aunt who was diagnosed with Stage II Breast Cancer.
Let me tell you something about my aunt: this lady has huge cajones. I mean, she is one of the strongest people I know and growing up around her, I always knew that her approach to life was: when life hands you lemons, you throw them back at life and say "I don't want your fucking lemons. I'm going to get what I want instead." Basically, she's pretty badass. And you know what? So is the rest of my family.
What could this possibly have to do with writing? As I sat on the back of my father-in-law's motorcycle, the wind whipping around me, the sun hot on my back and the open road laid out in front of me, I realized this has everything to do with writing. Especially the way I think about writing and my life in the long-term.
I've been making some BIG changes in my life. Health wise, financially, mentally, spiritually. I'm becoming a whole new me. But this weekend as I watched my beautiful aunt talk to supporters, donators and family, I realized something about her (and a lot of the females in my family)... she's mastering the art of not giving up.
Don't get me wrong - everyday, millions of women hear the "C" word. Millions of women turn around and fight the shit out of their diagnosis. But those millions of women? They're not my aunt. They're not mom. I'm proud of them. I respect them. But it's harder to have a profound impact on someone when you barely know them. My aunts practically helped raise me and they're part of the reason I am who I am.
I know, I know. I still haven't gotten to my point. I'm a writer...it takes me a while to get to my point, ya know! The point I'm trying to make is that right now, I'm at a really vulnerable stage of my life. My husband and I trekked across the midwest and settled in a new town. We're learning to support each other in ways we never knew we'd have to. Personally, I'm on the cusp of something big for my life and it scares the shit out of me.
But what I'm facing? It's nothing compared to cancer. It's nothing compared to being a single mom with two kids. I have all of these amazing women and their perseverance, their never ending ability to not give up even when things seemed impossible to look to for guidance and inspiration.
If my aunt can tell cancer to go shove it and then fight like hell to come out on the other side, then dammit, I can follow my dreams.
I say that my aunt is mastering the art of never giving up for several reasons. Never giving up is not a static thing. It's not like you can just flip a switch and automatically be strong and wise and always positive. It's fluid and scary and you have obstacles. So. Many. Obstacles. But it's what you do with the obstacles and the emotions that come with it that make a difference in never giving up. Refusing to succumb to the depression, to the pity and taking the easy way out - that's harder than you think. It's the battle I constantly face.
But it's a battle I no longer want to lose. I have the strongest women (and men) I know on my side, and they're teaching me how to be a better adult. How to stop before I'm ready to throw in the towel and think "is this worth giving up?"
This weekend was great for stepping back from writing, from my everyday life and appreciating those around me who make a difference. For spending time with loved ones who remind me that never giving up is the only way to TRULY live.
I don't know what the future holds - but I'm almost certain that whatever lemons life sends my way, I'm sending those damn lemons back and getting what *I* want instead.