The Annual A, B, C’s of Gratitude- 2020 Edition

Here we are again- celebrating the season of thanks, gratitude, giving…. And while this year has been a…. well, let’s be honest- it’s been a solid shit show… it’s refreshing to look around and see so many people expressing their gratitude and being thankful for all they have with the given circumstances. And my heart swells with all of the love, support and giving going around. It seems we have all been forced to look at life a bit differently this year but perhaps that’s a positive we can find among the crapola of Covid.

So if you have been following Mama’s Got This, you are familiar with my ABC lists. If you’re new here- HIIIIIYAAAAA! These lists are my way of clearing my mind of scary shit, helping me to fall asleep, or a way of keeping myself entertained. They all stem back from my breast biopsy 4 years ago where I was trying to stay positive and calm with my pregnancy belly and massive boobs splayed out on an imaging table. Through my fears and tears- I’m pretty sure I was listing foods that began with each letter of the alphabet.

I still make these lists quite often in my head, mostly at night time because insomnia is a bitch. And when it comes time to create my annual list for Thanksgiving, I love to to look back and see what has changed, what’s similar and what is the same… fricking word. for. word. That shit’s still so weird to me! You can take a look for yourself.  2016 2017 2018 2019

Quick reminder, these are things I am truly grateful for, no matter how big or small they may seem. And since it’s my game, I make the rules. Cheers!

A- Audiobooks + Adventures

B- Birthdaaaaayyyys

C- Crystals + Candles + Curse Words 

D- Dreamy Visits from Mom, Dad + Pete Dog 

E- Epsom Salt Baths + My Super Supportive Employer

F- Family, Friends + FaceTime 

G- Glittery Stuff + Giggles 

H- Hummingbirds 

I- Adobe Illustrator Tutorials 

J- Johnny Boy 

K- Kaiser 

L- Live Crystal Sales on Instagram 

M- The Man on the Moon + Mary Jane 

N- The Night Sky 

O- Healthy Oncology Follow Ups 

P- Plants on Plants on Plants 

Q- Quiet Time + Q-Tips

R- Rainy Days 

S- Stretchy Pants + Slippers + Science 

T- Tweets from my Birdy Buddies + The Today Show 

U- The USPS + Unlimited Phone Data 

V- Loving + Kind Veterinarians 

W- Weighted Blankets + Wishes + Working From Home

X- X-tra Hair Thingys Found in my Purse 

Y- Be Well Yoga for Cancer Recovery 

Z- Zoloft- DUH 

Happy Thanksgiving from the Filloon Fam to you!

Four Years Ago

Today is a pretty big day in my little land. Today marks 4 years since my cancer diagnosis. I know this because it’s also one of my brothers’ birthdays- sorry Joesph. I also know this because my TimeHop app reminds me each year with the same silly picture of me at the Brea mall, pregnant AF sitting in one of those massage chairs inside the Brookstone store- my face puffy and swollen from tears and baby weight.

You see, earlier in the day 4 years back- I remember getting the call while in my office at work. I found out over the phone that my world would go forth in a way I was not ready for but tried to flow with as much as possible. I notified the necessary people at the office that I had to leave immediately. I don’t remember the drive from work to home. I just remember eventually sitting on the couch with John watching comedies until they couldn’t distract us any longer. So what do you do when you’re stressed, scared, uncomfortable? You go to a place where you can mindlessly walk around without judgement and without purpose and with lots of free AC- you go to the mall.

The above picture is the only one from that day. The first of many photos which would document my life from diagnosis and beyond. It brings me right back to that day, to that chair, to that cookie I ate shortly after, to that dick of a surgeon I met with a few hours later, to me standing up for myself immediately and requesting a second opinion.

Typically this day brings a smile to my face because I am still here to see it. But today, my once again swollen face and puffy eyes aren’t in a joyful mood because just yesterday we had to let go of one of Team Filloon’s greatest supporters and mascot.

About a month and a half ago, we had noticed a lump on Petey’s head. I just knew what it was, there was no doubt in my mind that C was forcing its way back in our lives to be a complete dick wad. Petey had no other symptoms at that time other than the lump and slight changes in his activity levels. Our vet prepared us to plan on letting him go soon but John and I just couldn’t see it yet.

Things would soon change and he would decline very quickly over the weeks, so we took advantage of quarantine and tried to make the most of our remaining time with him. Though in the last week or so, his condition worsened greatly, his pain meds didn’t seem to be as effective and decisions were being made as to how we could help him move on while in the middle of a pandemic.

Thankfully, we found an amazing human who makes veterinary house calls and we were able to help Pete Dog transition peacefully and comfortably from his/our own home. Petey seemed ready, he walked right up to the Dr., something he hadn’t been doing for anyone. We were all able to love on him, thank him for being such a good boy, and say our goodbyes. I felt him take his last breath, just as I had with both of my parents. And I heard myself ask the same question I had with them, “Is that it?”

I cannot say it’s been easy other than the relief of knowing he’s not in pain any more. My eyes are still puffy, my heart space feels empty, my best bud is no where to be seen. I continue to look for him around the house. I expect to feel his scratchy fur against my leg while I sit here on the couch typing this. I continue to find random things of his that fill my eyes with tears all over again.

Petey was my first baby. He shared his love with us as John and I navigated our dating relationship, when my mom passed, when we got engaged and as John and I moved around Southern California, when we got married, when my dad passed, when I got pregnant with Harlon, when I got pregnant with Wyatt, through all of my own C shit. He should be here with us celebrating the 4 years. But he’s not and I can’t change that. And that’s the hardest part- there has been nothing I could do to help him other than love him and feed him pain pills covered in peanut butter.

The helplessness of C is consuming and the loss is of my bubba so great. But I know that my love for Sweet Pete will always be greater. I’ll see you on the other side my main man- until then, have fun with my mom and dad. They’ll take good care of you, I know it.

Another New Normal

Last night, while cleaning up the kitchen after what felt like our 1,789th home cooked meal of the quarantine, I managed to Captain America myself in the forehead with a massive pot lid while putting it away in a high cupboard. Oh, what exactly is Captain America’ing? It’s when something shaped like Cap’s shield goes hurling through the air only to take down the bad guy. I was the bad guy. Maybe it was the Universe telling me to stop being such a massive bitch over little things. Maybe not. Whatever it was, I tasted blood- you know what I’m talking about- that weird smell/taste thing that happens when you get hit in the face… and I was screaming.

So, there I was, sobbing like a child and immediately started dropping F bombs and hollering for John. My initial thought was “if this needs stitches, fuck it- I am not going to the hospital”. My second thought was “I am so grateful for a partner who does 99% of the cooking and clean up after meals otherwise, how many more times would this happen to me?!”

John finally managed to calm me down and set me up with an ice pack while he finished putting one kid in time out and bathing the other. This “break” gave me time to think…. What the hell is this global “New Normal” {NN} we are about to enter? Deep right? It may have been the head trauma. Or it may have been the fact that those were the first real tears I remember crying for a VERY LONG TIME and I was allowing my emotions leak out. Either way- I have no answers. My guess is it will be like every other NN I’ve cannonballed into- live and learn, try to make the best educated decisions and try to be kind to myself and others as we wade through shit together for a while.

And as we head back out into the world to how things ‘were before’, I’m reminded of those cannonballs mentioned above: Like how I felt after my mom died- I had no clue how life would go on without her. It went on differently, but it went on. Or after my dad died- still life continued- differently, but continued. Or after my C diagnosis- I honestly questioned IF it would go on but HEY {thankfully}, I’m still here. Or after choosing to remain flat in a world which repeatedly told me I would ‘feel less of a woman without breasts’. Guess what- it went on. #FlatAsFuck. My life continues on, just differently from NN to NN.

After all of these plot twists, I always felt I was re-entering a world where I was expected to be back to “normal”. But what the fuck does that even mean?! And here we go again- but this time, there is a huge difference. We are all going to be navigating a NN- TOGETHER. There will for sure be emotions that come up now and down the line. And I mean, like, waaaay down the line. Trust me- it happens. Like how sometimes I see a pregnant woman and instantly feel a wave of pent up emotions consume me… Another post for another day… And what will we do with all of these feelings we have accumulated? How will be process them? Will we process them? Or shove them to the back burner to deal with at a later time? AKA during a total mental breakdown at probably the most inopportune time?

I don’t know. What I do know is that I tend to live most of my life in a constant state of anxiety. {Not just during quarantine but BC (before Covid + before cancer) too} And most likely, this won’t change in the NN. So my transition will include sitting with my feelings and giving myself time to process what I can and remembering to breathe. But, as if a fucking pandemic wasn’t enough for my already well developed anxiety, the pressure I’ve been feeling to make “good use” of my quarantine-time might make my transition to a NN a bit more complex. I mean, does anyone else feel like they need to emerge from their chrysalis with rock hard abs, a banging booty, a business plan, and Pinterest worthy recipes and kid crafts. SURPRISE- NOT HAPPENING OVER HERE. But I have definitely felt the push to “be a better me”. [eye roll]

So, while working from home and trying to keep my kids’ brains from turning into mush- I have been focusing on:

Resting– LIKE NOT DOING ALL THE THINGS.

Reflection– Processing I feel, how I’ve been feeling, how I’ve acted, how I’ve helped, what can I do.

Healing– This one’s a doozy but working through the hard stuff and giving myself space helps.

Prioritizing– What/Who REALLY needs my attention in the moment.

If abs, booty, business plans and Pinterest skills are your thing and a way for you to harness anxiety and give you a sense of control, YES! Do those things! And try continue to do those things as they are probably a form of self care (as long as they make you happy and fill your cup). And because we all have different ways to fill our cups.

And if anything, I hope that majority of us come out of quarantine remembering to give ourselves and others a break and to BE KIND. None of this is easy and I truly think that most people are doing the best they can.

Be kind, Be patient, Do good

Attempting to ease the puffiness from my sobs. That cut looks tiny, but DAMN it hurts.