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“Messy Stuff”

Here in Wisconsin spring arrives slowly. Early spring teases us into believing winter is over, but we all know it’s really not for another month or so and even then it can still snow. It seems winter hangs on as long as possible. A warm day in the 50’s will be followed by one plunging us back into the 30’s or even 20’s. Winter doesn’t allow itself to go out too quietly. In fact, winter is delivering yet another punch here this week by depositing a few more (actually eight) final inches of snow, at least I hope they are the final ones!

Spring has to fight extra hard to break through the barrier of a long winter, but once it does, we will all realize it was well worth the wait.

Transitioning to spring often does get a bit messy around here, quite literally. This time of year the four-legged critters at my house turn into dirt and mud magnets. Just like children, they seem to be attracted to puddles, mud and miscellaneous wet bare patches in the yard. They seem enthralled by their newly rediscovered scavenger roles as they uncover all kinds of pleasantries in the yard that seem to daily appear as the snow slowly recedes revealing them. It seems the more disgusting such “treasures” are, the more they are valued and the harder it is for them to be surrendered up for proper disposal.

Another unwelcome mess, though totally unrelated to spring, greeted us the other evening. A malfunctioning water heater turned into a miniature geyser, causing a mini flood in our basement over the weekend. After much shuffling of furniture, storage containers and miscellaneous stuff that somehow basements seem to accumulate, we managed to get things cleaned up pretty well, although the carpets had to go. Luckily, my two sons were home from college for spring break and were able to pitch in on the cleanup.

While we cleaned up the mess, my husband remarked, “It’s not that bad, it’s not cancer.” Then he added, “And it’s not a tsunami.”

Everything indeed is relative. We don’t seem to get “rattled” so much by the small stuff anymore. Everything that happens to us is now evaluated according to our new cancer scale.

A basement full of water is messy, a genuine headache to be sure, even downright nasty, but it’s only a minor inconvenience. A tsunami, on the other hand, is a life altering tragedy of almost unimaginable magnitude. Thinking of the people in Japan and what they faced and will continue to face for months and even years, made it impossible to complain too much about a mere few inches of water in a basement.

Transitioning from winter to spring and life itself gets literally quite messy at times. Muddy shoes and paws, as well as wet basements, are real inconveniences to be sure. Such things cause us to complain a bit (or a lot) as we are forced to take extra time to deal with them, but they are merely temporary messes that slow us down.

Cancer creates a mess of a different sort. It doesn’t matter if it’s your own diagnosis or that of someone you love. Cancer messes everything up.

Cancer disturbs plans, order and smoothness, creating upheaval on an almost unmatchable scale. Cancer catches you off guard, like a sneak attack, often making its appearance when you least expect it (as if you ever did). Cancer forces you to make decisions and adjustments you never planned on making. Cancer leaves scars on the mind as well as the body.

Even when you are “done” treating your cancer, it leaves you feeling as if you have been left “hanging out in the wind.” You are left “dangling” a bit, as you try to pick up the pieces, figure things out and move on.

You “gather yourself up” and get started on “cleaning up the mess.”

How do you deal with the “messy stuff?”




                                                            This is Spring??

                                                  At least the mud is covered up again! 


Saturday 26th of March 2011

Nancy, I love your pictures. They tell your story so well. I agree cancer is messy, and I also agree that the small stuff doesn't bother me as much anymore. I just can't get as excited as some people about some little nuisance. It's all relative. I deal with the messy stuff by transforming it into some kind of humorous story. Humor is a big way in which I cope with the not-so-positive aspects of life. It may not work for everyone, but I do know there is a definite healing aspect to laughter. Wishing you a quick melt of that snow, Jan


Sunday 27th of March 2011

Jan, Thank you for commenting. I'm glad you enjoyed the pictures. I agree that humor is a great way to cope. It doesn't always work, but many times it really does help. It is harder to get "rattled" by insignificant stuff, that I do know to be true. And perhaps THIS is the week all the snow will disappear!


Friday 25th of March 2011

What a beautiful (and very naughty) dog. Too funny.

I just wanted to tell you that cancer really messed with my personal sense of invincibility. Everything in my life has been reconsidered.

xoxo Katie


Sunday 27th of March 2011

Katie, I know what you mean. Cancer leaves you with new feelings of vulnerability. Thank you for commenting. And yes, I thought that photo captured my dog's "naughtiness" quite well.

Ginny Marie @ Lemon Drop Pie

Friday 25th of March 2011

You have such a cute dog! We had a sprinkle of snow on the ground this morning; nothing like you had! Messes, messes...even after almost 15 years, sometimes I feel like I still have messes to clean up. It's times like these that I miss my Mom more than ever!


Friday 25th of March 2011

Ginny, Thanks for commenting. I know what you mean...

Beth L. Gainer

Thursday 24th of March 2011


A very refreshing perspective. Cancer is indeed messy, and helps put the small things in perspective.

Unfortunately, the world is messy, and I've come to think that we sort of delude ourselves that nothing bad can happen to us -- until it does. Cancer is one part of an uncontrollable universe, which is filled with chaos.

Coping with this fact is difficult, but what choice do we have? Just living is a risk.


Thursday 24th of March 2011

Beth, Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Cancer does indeed put the small things in perspective. Cancer and chaos, a pair of words that fit together well.


Thursday 24th of March 2011

I noticed on my way to the gym this morning that it was 52 degrees out and I thought "crap, where's Spring?" So, um, I take that back. Thanks for the perspective!


Thursday 24th of March 2011

Teresa, Thanks for commenting. Yes, 52 degrees sounds pretty good about now! How's Seamus doing?

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