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life after chemo

Chemo Changed Me…I have no complaints

Yesterday was one of those days, that even if you tried your hardest, your mind will never let you forget.  It was the two year anniversary from my last chemo treatment.  It should be, without any unequivocal thoughts, a great day.  Mine was, thanks to my husband’s (bless his soul) thoughtfulness; yet lurking in the dark depths of my mind,  great sadness and thoughtful contemplation also lurked.  This was confirmed for me when I turned the corner at a store and saw a sign (I’m paraphrasing here):  “Cancer touched my breast, and so I kicked its ass.”
The fortunate thing is I did just that.  The unfortunate part was it immediately brought tears to my eyes.  I remember last year my husband encouraging me to just not think about it.  Which is a valid observation.  Yet our minds are not so logical and accommodating.  Our brains have a mind of their own, and try as we might, they won’t let go.  And then Facebook.  Lovely, annoying, showing you want you sometimes do not want to see, Facebook.
Yesterday when I opened Facebook, this photo was the first thing I saw.   Reminding me – point blank – of just who, what, and where I was two years ago.

Last day of chemo.06-09-2016
Last day of chemo – 06-09-2016

As I looked at this photo; at that person looking back at me; I was surprised to discover that I barely remember that person anymore.  I looked at that face and it felt like I dreamed about her once upon a time; but that she never truly lived.
Yesterday, my husband and I were going to take the motorcycle down to Shakopee, Minnesota and go to Canterbury Downs (a horse racetrack).  Hubby had discovered that the Clydesdale Budweiser Horses would be there, and he knows I am absolutely, completely, over the moon and back, obsessed with them.  Unfortunately, the weather was not so kind and we ended up going in a different direction, to a little town called Dorset about an hour and a half from us.
As I was getting ready, I looked at myself in the mirror and thought of that photo from two years ago and said, “Way to go sweet cheeks.  You have taken the most miserable time of your life, and used it to pave the path for the you who has been silent all these years.”  (Okay – maybe I didn’t say those exact words, but they sound good now, don’t they?)
IMG_6239
Me – 06-09-2018

And it’s true.  Since chemo I have pursued passions (photography, dog training/agility, blogging)  that for years I told myself I was not good enough to pursue; I talk with anyone and everyone who will listen (Some of you may be going ha!  You did that before too, but I really didn’t.  It was a facade.); I now enjoy being in my own skin; life is good; and I am on a path that is making me happy.  If all of that is the result of chemo; I honestly should be grateful for it.
Now – don’t get me wrong.  I still have my insecure, self-defeating, miserable feeling moments, that might even last a day or two.  And I am not entirely sure I’ll ever be able to say thank you to whom/whatever orchestrated my being struck with a disease that is so ugly.
However, I can tell you that the more I get to know this “new” me, whether a result of chemo, or my ever advancing years (HA!), the more I am okay with those changes.  The “me” I see in the mirror today, is more of the “me” I have always wanted to see, and that makes my heart sing a beautiful new tune.
So on this, the day after my two year chemo stop-erversary, I encourage all my wonderful, fellow, cancer thrivers, survivors, fighters, and warriors to hang in there (or anyone else going through an incredible difficult time).  I pray for all of you every day that you too will find peace, joy, and love somewhere in this crappy, ugly, vicious cancer journey; and that you too will someday be able to look in the mirror and on the majority of days be able to say, “Hi love.  Don’t you look grand.”

Now – I thought as long as I mentioned Dorset, I should probably tell you a bit about this little gem.  Dorset is about 5 miles east of Park Rapids, Minnesota and 27 miles from Walker, Minnesota.  It is a thriving little community that took several of the homes that sat along the road, and turned them into shops and restaurants.  With four different style restaurants, you are sure to find something that will tempt your tastebuds.  Plus, in recent years, their mayor has alternately been four and three years old.  I mean seriously, who wouldn’t love a town like that!?!
Dorset also sits along the edge of the Heartland Trail, which connects to the Paul Bunyan Trail.  It presents a beautiful way to spend the day with family and friends biking to and from a local town, or strolling back and forth along the paved pathway to burn off those calories you ate and drank.  Dorset is also home to a Bed and Breakfast, which provides trailside lodging for “pedal-in convenience”.   The B&B is the 1920’s Dorset schoolhouse and while we did not go inside, looks divine from the outside.
When we pulled into Dorset, we were met with a row of shiny, old automobiles.

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That was a fun and unexpected surprise!
Then, as it was the noon hour, we decided we should partake in appetizers and drinks at one of the eateries.  After a moment or two of hesitation, we decided to go Mexican (rather than Italian, Pizza, or the Cafe).

We started (I started) with a little Cuba Libra (Bacardi with Diet Pepsi – no coke – and lime) chips and salsa.  While the salsa had a great flavor, be forewarned, it is not the typical salsa you would find when visiting Mexico.  This was a pureed salsa and very runny – but again, very flavorful.
We then ordered a Black Bean Supreme Dip and Nachos with Chicken.  We were again slightly disappointed with the lack of food upon the nachos (chips, cheese, and chicken); however, the Black Bean Supreme Dip was an excellent compliment to the nachos and we devoured both plates.  There is just something about a dip when the sour cream and guacamole almost melt into the ooeey, gooey, goodness of the beans and cheese.  Yummy!
After our appetizers, we wandered the little shops and streets of Dorset.  We sat on the boardwalk of the general store, where we sipped our water and watched the cars passing by (and where you could also enjoy a game of checkers FYI).  We read the Dorset Daily Bugle, which is “printed once a year whether there is news or not” and discovered that there was to be a “Foodar Eclipse” on August 5; and that the Dorset International Airport is to open in 2019.  (Check out the Dorset MN Facebook page here.)

We finished up pursuing the goodies at Meadowbrook Gifts, where you can see the old State Bank safe, and the Dorset Trading Post.

We finished off the day by heading to Park Rapids and stopping at the Red Bridge Park and enjoyed sitting in the shade talking about this and that, and whether we should stop at the farm store and bring back some chicks on the motorcycle.  (We opted not to FYI.)  This park had a wonderful walking trail, and some truly unique, creative sculptures, and was a great stop before heading back home.

It was a fabulous day, and a most spectacular way to spend the day commemorating all we’ve been through the past couple years; and a reminder for us that there is always something new and exciting before us, if we just look hard enough.
Until next time, capture life kreatively!
Myra
P.S.  I hope you enjoyed my little tour of Dorset, MN.  Do you have a favorite destination that you like to go to?  Leave me a comment and let me know.  I am always looking for new places to explore and write about!
P.P.S.  I know I missed last week’s post, and this post was supposed to be a continuation about Smithville, Texas, but I got a little sidetracked.  Go figure.  I promise Smithville is coming back – next week!
P.P.S.  Like what you see?  Sign up for my E-Newsletter notifications.   I will soon be sending out notices regarding cards and photographs I have for sale, and events I will be attending.  It’s a great way to stay on top of what I am doing!