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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”

 

Sophie

 

Elsie

 

Ninja

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That Empty Space
The summer that wasn't
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The Summer That Wasn't

Julie

Thursday 7th of July 2011

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 (http://juliekaymatthews.com/?p=2824)!

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

Take care, Julie

Nancy

Friday 8th of July 2011

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.

Betty

Saturday 2nd of July 2011

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

Nancy

Saturday 2nd of July 2011

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.

Michelle

Thursday 30th of June 2011

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 :)

Nancy

Thursday 30th of June 2011

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'.

Maryann

Wednesday 29th of June 2011

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!

Jan Hasak

Tuesday 5th of July 2011

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. Jan

Nancy

Thursday 30th of June 2011

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!

Tami Boehmer

Wednesday 29th of June 2011

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.

Nancy

Thursday 30th of June 2011

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.

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