My Other Life

Recently friend and fellow blogger Marie, from Journeying Beyond Breast Cancer, suggested to fellow bloggers that it might be fun to briefly step away from cancer and blog about “stuff from our other life.” Marie is from Ireland and one of the people I have come to “know” during the past months. As a friend and human being, Marie is a real gem; I know this without even having met her in person and it’s so like her to want to know more about her fellow bloggers.

My first reaction to Marie’s suggestions was I don’t think I remember my other life. I’m not kidding, that really was my initial reaction. That might sound a bit extreme, but cancer is pretty extreme.

Marie taught kindergarten at one time, so of course as an educator myself, how could I not take on this assignment? Luckily, Marie extended the deadline until the end of June. This is lucky for me because one of the things about myself that I don’t like very much is that I am a very adept procrastinator. The other day I realized June is soon over and it was time to “get the lead” out and get going on this post. I have never been one to hand in an assignment late. I push the limits of procrastination, but ultimately I do deliver on time. So here’s a bit about me and my “other life”.

I have three siblings (two sisters and one brother) and I’m number three in the lineup which puts me in a precarious position with people who study things like birth order, a topic I’ve always found fascinating. I’m not the first born stereotypical high achiever. I’m not the baby of the family. I’m sort of a middle child, but with position three out of four, even had to share that space. With four kids there was always lots of sharing in our house while I was growing up.

I am the daughter of two teachers, so it isn’t all that surprising I decided to become one myself. As an adult, my passion for teaching fully emerged and I have always been in the classroom it seems in some capacity either as a teacher myself, volunteer or most recently as a substitute. For the most part, I have always found working with children to be a joy. I love the freshness, enthusiasm and zest they bring to almost any situation. My favorite grades to teach are 4-6 because kids at this age are quite independent, but yet still look to their teachers for approval and guidance, even though they pretend not to.       

After my cancer diagnosis, I decided to pursue one of my other great passions, writing. That’s how Nancy’s Point came into being.  As I’ve mentioned before, in many ways writing is how I have survived the ordeal of cancer. I honestly don’t know what kind of shape I’d be in mentally if not for my writing. Last fall I had my first article published in Grief Digest magazine. My next dream is to finish the book I’ve been working on since my mother passed away. I had finished it, but then cancer revisited adding a whole new twist to my story. 

Generally, I don’t mention the book dream, because it’s kind of like when you start a diet, once you announce to the world you are on one, you better produce results. So now I probably have put a bit of pressure on myself to come up with, well, a book. We’ll see… Actually, some of my blogging friends are great inspiration having already written books themselves and I might have to ask them to give me a nudge, kick now and then to get going.

Like I wrote in a post once, my family has the “dog lover’s gene” as well as the BRCA 2 gene. Francie, one of my wonderful aunts, came up with this clever comment once and I never forgot it. On a side note, Francie also had breast cancer, as did both her sisters, my mom included, so you can see we do the gene thing pretty well. Sorry, this isn’t supposed to be about cancer.

Mine is a family of extreme animal lovers. As most of you probably know, I have two dogs named Elsie and Sophie. Recently we took on a rescue cat via daughter (who probably even tops me in the “dog obsessed” department). Our two-week trial is complete and I guess we all passed the test, so Ninja the cat is part of the family for good too now. My husband has always wanted a cat and after witnessing him standing by me the last year through thick and thin, I decided well, why not? Let’s get a cat!

Actually, I think I am a bit smitten already too.

My three kids and husband like to stay out of the “limelight” of my blog, so I avoid talking too much about them and also avoid posting pictures of them most of the time. However, I will announce there is a wedding in the works for daughter, son number one is contemplating pursuing a Ph.D. in history and son number two continues to amaze with his musical talents and ambitions. My husband continues to be my greatest supporter, although he doesn’t read my blog because as he likes to remind me, “I’m living it.”

Since my family prefers anonymity, generally you’ll see pictures of our animals instead. They don’t seem to mind as much.

When I’m not writing or blogging, some of my “other life” interests include reading, taking daily walks, gardening, sitting in my back yard “mini oasis,” tinkering on the piano, taking road trips, appreciating nature when I get to those road trip destinations, photography, journaling, history, following political shenanigans and going to movies. I love going to movies. In fact, I think I might have loved a career as a movie critic.

So that’s a bit about me.

Now tell me something about YOU!

Where or what is your personal mini oasis?

Do you have any advice for new cat owners?

 My backyard “mini oasis”







35 thoughts to “My Other Life”

  1. Nancy,

    I LOVED hearing about your “other life”!! And you did, indeed, make the deadline.

    First of all, I think it’s great you are writing a book!! When it’s published, you’ll have to tell us. I will buy it and enjoy reading it.

    I know what you are saying about the “book dream.” I’m on the third draft of my manuscript, and I’ve pretty much announced to a lot of people that it’s coming out, and I do believe it will. The problem is, as you know, it often takes longer than you want it to take.

    Your pets are ADORABLE!! I LOVE animals, too. Your cat looks a lot like one of mine. I’ve been a cat owner/lover for many years. Here’s some advice: To live with a cat successfully, one must not tell the cat what to do but to compromise with the cat, who will always have a touch of wild in it. And cats are wonderful pets, as you are already discovering.

    I love the name Ninja. Glad to get to know you better, Nancy.

    1. Beth, Thanks so much for your comments, Beth. I am looking forward to reading your book when it comes out, I know the process is pretty lengthy and difficult at times, especially for procrastinators like me! You are good inspiration! I think Ninja looks your cat, Hemme, too, is that the right name? I think your cat advice is quite good, I’m finding you can’t really tell a cat what to do because they pretend like they don’t hear you when you try! How much do you think they do understand?? They remind me of kids, I have a feeling they understand a whole lot more than they let on. .. And I kinda like that little touch of ‘wild’ they have.

  2. Nancy, lovely to hear more about your life… I too am a ‘middle’ child and relate to what you say there! I know what you mean when you say you can’t remember your ‘other life’ but it’s still there, changed perhaps, and the activities that you love – your writing and gardening and love of animals and travelling – are still there for you. I too find refuge in my allotment garden and so understand how that’s a great pleasure for you…

    Keep going with the book – you have plenty of fans out here who will want to read what you have to say.
    Best, Sarah

    1. Sarah, Thanks so much for commenting. I hope you had a lovely trip to the states. Your book is working its way to the top of my reading pile, I can’t wait to get started on it. I so admire you for getting your story out there! Thanks for encouraging me with mine. That means a lot.

  3. I too loved reading this post Nancy. May I get a signed copy of the first edition of your book please???? I feel like we have so much in common in terms of interests, especially the secret garden and the animal loving gene. But how did you integrate the dogs with Ninja? My beloved and I often talk about getting a kitty but we’ re not sure how to get fearsome blog mascot on the same page.

    1. Anna, I’m glad you enjoyed this post, it was harder in some ways to write about this ‘other life’ stuff. Funny. If and when I ever do get a book out there, you will indeed get a signed copy! I guarantee it! We do have more than a few common interests it seems. I love your ‘writing with attitude’ style, garden space and your little mascot to name a few. You could try the cat thing by fostering a kitty. That way you get a trial run to see how things go with pooch. Our dogs have been around cats quite a bit, so they weren’t too concerned with another one appearing on the scene. Could you expose your pooch to some cats? Going to a shelter to look at cats would be good because they can fill you in on the cat’s temperment. They vary a lot. Ninja is extremely vocal, constantly meowing and purring. She’s also very friendly and quite sweet. Listen to me, rambling on about a cat!! Who would have thought?

    1. Lindsay, It is a bit of a surprise isn’t it? Now that you mention it, she does kind of act like a little princess! Thanks for commenting.

  4. Oh, I liked this post Nancy! Very nice to know more about you! Of course, since I’m a cat owner (my first cat too), it’s not surprising that I like you! Advice: snuggle with the cat a lot. A lot. My cat is a snuggle bunny and I really dig that. Of course, spaying/neutering is important! Lastly, stick with dry food; wet food is kinda gross in my humble opinion…. Oh, and I am a true middle child. Second child of three girls, and I’m very much a typical middle child! 🙂 Lisa

    1. Lisa, Thanks for your comments and advice! Ninja is definitely a snuggler, so that part will be easy. She has been spayed, shelters are good about ensuring that that gets done. And yes, she will get dry food for sure. So you are a middle child as well, that explains a lot! Just kidding! Guess I know another person to ask for advice about cats then if need be. Thank you!

  5. At first, James didn’t understand why I wanted to continue to think about breast cancer. Why didn’t I just want life to go on as if it had never happened? When he understood my blog was “my ministry,” something I was compelled to do, he became super supportive. Since my website is about Survivorship for breast cancer families, he also didn’t mind that I talked about his reactions and how he felt during and after. He even volunteered to do several videos for husbands, telling them to step up to the plate. It concerned us both to learn that 25% of husbands leave their wives after they’re diagnosed.

    I wish we lived closer. We could go to the movies, find things to photograph and have lunch. My passion has always been film/movies. Before the Internet, I used to save Jay Cocks’, TIME magazine, movie reviews because his taste in movies was similar to mine.


    1. Brenda, Thanks for sharing about James. I watched one of those videos on your site where he was speaking and it was quite moving. He must have been very proud of you. It would be nice to live closer wouldn’t it…

  6. Nancy, what a delightful read about your other life! I’m sure you are an incredible inspiration to your students.

    Congratulations on your daughter getting married! Another milestone in life. I’m sure you are very proud of all your children. I can understand why they want to be out of the limelight, though.

    As you know, I also love pets. While we don’t have any cats (so I can’t offer you cat advice), our two dogs give us plenty of joy–and needed laughter. I agree that Ninja is a fascinating name for a cat. Your pets are just adorable.

    Just keep plugging away at your book. That’s what I did. And finally it will materialize. It’s hard to believe how many drafts I wrote before the final product. Life has its twists and turns while we think we are writing our story (mine was losing both my parents) and we simply adapt by weaving in the circumstances as best we can.

    My mini-oasis is a spot in our backyard facing some roses, irises and Japanese maples. A place of serenity. We all need it.

    Thanks so much for sharing.

    1. Jan, Thanks for your lovely comments. I always marvel at how you actually answer all my questions. Thank you! I appreciate it. You are one of those people I admire who has fulfilled their book dream. I need to order your book actually. I’m finally almost caught up. Yes, I know how important your dogs are to you and your family too. I’ll let you know how cat ownership goes. Your mini oasis sounds beautiful and I agree, we all need some sort of place of serenity.

  7. Nancy, thanks for sharing! I loved finding out more about you! You must have been great in the classroom. Keep writing your book. I’m waiting for it.

    I don’t know if you can call this an oasis, but I love the peace and quiet of my house when everyone is out during the day. I revel in the quiet. I need it to recharge. Today is the first day I’m having it in quite a while since the boys just started day camp. I was craving it. It’s nice.

    Congratulations on the upcoming wedding!

    1. Stacey, Thanks for commenting, I always look forward to your thoughts. Absolutely, you can call your quiet house your oasis! I know what it’s like to revel in quiet and solitude and I also know it’s often hard to come by with young kids, actually, even with older ones sometimes! Enjoy the summer with the boys as well as the time you scrape together for just you! And thanks for the congrats and the encouraging words about my book dream.

  8. I have a wonderful other life here in Savannah. It will be three years in September since I moved here. I grew up in New England and enjoyed skiing and ice skating in the winter. I was the “middle” child and only girl. I cherish wonderful summers on Lake Champlain. Thanks, Nancy for triggering memories and future possibilities of having another life than BC. My 2 year anniversay is tomorrow, and I plan to celebrate.

    1. Betty, Thank you so much for taking time to comment. I hear wonderful things about Savannah and would love to visit there sometime. The move there from New England must have been quite an adjustment for you, and then cancer reared its ugly head while you were still getting settled. That must have been really tough. Congrats on that two year anniversary. Celebrate away! I’ll think of you. Thanks, too, for sharing a summer memory.

  9. Nancy,

    I really enjoyed your “My Other Life” post! I am glad to learn of other things we have in common beyond a breast cancer diagnosis (I too love movies, love gardening and am a teacher. And, you already know I am an animal lover too).

    Your garden is beautiful and so are your pups and new kitty.

    Thank you for sharing some of your other life with us. And, congratulations on that wedding!

    All the best,

    1. Lisa, Thanks so much for taking time to comment on my ‘other life’ post. It has been fun to take part in this assignment from Marie. I guess we do share a few common interests don’t we? Hope you are doing alright carrying on without your little dog, Molly. My best.

  10. As someone who has written a book, I say “just do it!” You’ll be glad you did. You are a great writer, so I know you’re up to the task.

    As a cat owner, my advice is to give it lots of love and affection and it will return it. Cats get bad press, but they can be extremely affectionate animals. They just do it on their own time rather than dogs who are always up for it. My daughter and I would love to have a dog but my husband won’t go for it.

    I love movies, too. We’ll have to share sometime. Good to know you better, Nancy. Maybe we’ll meet one of these days.

    1. Tami, Thanks for commenting. I appreciate your compliment about my writing, I hope you’re right about me being up to the task… I admire you for getting yours out there. Good for you! Thanks for the cat advice, I did remember you have one. They do sometimes get a bad wrap don’t they? I’m pretty sure Ninja will get plenty of love and affection around here. She already seems quite confident and comfortable, even around the dogs. Maybe you’ll eventually talk your husband into getting one of those too! Glad to hear that you are a movie buff too! Thanks again for sharing.

  11. Nancy,
    I think it’s wonderful that you are writing a book. You definitely have a gift for writing. I enjoyed reading about your other life. Congratulations on the upcoming wedding. SInce I am a dog person, allergic to cats, I can’t help you with that one. I love being in my garden, get a lot of satisfaction digging in the dirt. Oh, and I’m a nurse, go figure!

    1. Maryann, Thanks for taking time to comment with such encouraging words, and for the congrats as well. It is exciting to have a wedding to look forward to. Actually, I have had some allergies to cats in the past myself, but I’m hopeful things will be fine now, and so far so good. Lots of people seem to like digging in the dirt like you do, me for one!

    2. Thank you for your kind comments, Nancy. My books are very different from each other in content and nature, but the writing of both was extremely therapeutic. I hope you find that writing your book is as cathartic to you as it was to me.

      1. Jan, Thanks for commenting again and you are very welcome! I already feel writing is so theraputic, so an actual book would undoubtedly feel the same way, but on an even greater scale. I’m hopeful it will come to be…

  12. Neat to read this Nancy. I really enjoyed ‘getting to know’ the other side of you, the other side that we all have, and have somehow buried once cancer came knocking.

    BTW – i love that you named your cat Ninja. Hilarious 🙂

    1. Michelle, Thanks for commenting. Yes, sometimes our ‘other life’ feels a bit buried under cancer’s weight doesn’t it? We have to keep right on ‘digging our way out’. Oh, actually my daughter named Ninja, but we liked the name and decided not to change it. She’s a liitle ‘ninja diva’.

  13. Congratulations on the new member to your family! I’m looking forward to your book. I’ll have my Christmas list taken care of whatever year it comes out. Hurry up! Ha Ha Betty

    1. Betty, Thanks! I can’t really believe we are cat owners now. She really is a sweet kitty and is fitting in perfectly. As for the book, all I can say for sure is it won’t be this Christmas! Happy Fourth of July! Thanks for commenting.

  14. Hi Nancy,

    I just found your blog listed on another breast cancer blog, and I really enjoyed this post. I love the comment about sharing the “dog-lover’s gene”…that is a gene that has been passed on for many generations in my family as well! 🙂

    I had a stem cell transplant in Seattle, WA a couple years ago, and to help get me through the 4 1/2 months I was away from my own 2 pups back in VA, I set about meeting every dog in Seattle…I featured a bunch in my blog if you feel like seeing some cute photos (!

    Animals are so comforting, and I credit mine with being a major part of my healing. Thanks for the post!

    Take care,

    1. Julie, Thanks so much for finding my blog and for leaving a comment. I really appreciate it! It’s always good to ‘meet’ other dog lovers. It must have been tough being away from your dogs when you were undergoing treatment. It sounds like you met a lot of Seattle dogs, though which hopefully helped during that stressful time. I will definitely check out your blog and photos soon. Thanks for sharing and yes animals are indeed very comforting aren’t they? I couldn’t agree more! I hope all went well with that transplant and that you are doing well. Hope to ‘see’ you back.

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