This Is Us…

Crafting-2016 / TiffanyAOlson.com

This Is Us …. Crafting

I had a fabulous evening last night hanging with some of the greatest people in the world. As we were creating, the discussion came up as to how long we had all known each other. The longest friendship is 16 years and the shortest is 7. The oldest child in this group is 21 and the youngest is 10. Collectively, beginning with that oldest child we as a group have a child or two graduating High School every single year for 11 years. We are currently 3 years in to that adventure which will end in 2024.

There is so much to say about these women that I hardly know where to begin. To put it simply, they just show up.

They trained and ran a half marathon with me to honor Aimee…

1/2 2010 / TiffanyAOlson.com

This Is Us … I/2 Marathon 2010

This was the 1st but certainly not the last time they dropped everything to come over to my house and pick up my pieces. This was the evening that we found out that Aimee was going to go be with Jesus in a matter of weeks. I didn’t want to talk to anyone but they knew better, so they grabbed wine and pizza and called Mr. Wonderful and told him they were coming over. Mr. Wonderful made a chocolate cake. Wine, pizza and chocolate seem to be a theme among us…

Aimee 2011 / TiffanyAOlson.com

This Is Us … Showing up 2011

They busted tail to help me pull together a huge party to celebrate Aimee so that she could be with all of her people one last time.

aimees-party-2011 / TiffanyAOlson

This Is Us … Celebrating Aimee

They got me and all the families together to go camping to begin to put the pieces back together…

Camping-2011 / TiffanyAOlson.com

This Is Us … Camping 2011

We have played and laughed…

We have walked through the passing of parents, to struggles with kids and hubbys. We have laughed, cried, played, prayed, had bible studies and birthday celebrations…

hp-40 / TiffanyAOlson.com

This Is Us…. Celebrating Heidi’s 40th Birthday

When it was my turn to walk through cancer they again showed up for pizza and wine a few days before surgery…

Pre-mastectomy-party / TiffanyAOlson.com

Pre-Mastectomy Party 2015

They cleaned my house on all the days that I was in treatment in Eugene. Every three weeks they came over and made my house shine so that I would have a clean space to come home too. They have busy lives, among us are commercial bank lenders, school teachers and school administrative staff. They have kids and sports and husbands and yet they still find the time to show up.

Girls Weekend 2015 / TiffanyAOlson.com

This Is Us … Girls Weekend

These friendships as with all friendships everywhere are not perfect. We have had at times to make the choice to stay when it would be easier to walk away. To forgive when we would rather stay mad and to be patient with each other through very long seasons of grief, illness and pain. I think this is what makes us more like family than anything. It’s making the choice every single day to love, ignore the flaws, seek out the good and to just show up.

And every now and again on a random Tuesday night we can just be together… Pam, Heidi, Taryn, Jennifer and Karla… I love you.♥

crafting / TiffanyAOlson.com

This Is Us …

I know I have said this before but if you don’t have people in your life then you need to get some. Reach out and be a friend to someone, you will be glad you did.

I’d love to hear about some of your friendships and the people that have showed up for you.

Have a fabulous day my friends!

 

 

 

Expect The Unexpected

Ok, so before I get started, note the hair. My oh my what a difference a year makes. I have had it trimmed several times and am more than likely going to keep it short but man do I have a big forehead or what!? I have to admit that while I am thrilled to have hair, my already thin hair has grown in even thinner and it’s only a tad discouraging when your hair dresser tells you that you might need to try using rogaine. But I digress…

So this morning when Mr. Wonderful headed out the door with our kiddos, Katie (my maltipoo) and I headed out the door for our morning walk. (I have been demoted to walking instead of running as my fluid thing isn’t going away…) I have a three mile route that I enjoy doing and have done it at least 7 or 8 times since we moved here. I turned on one of my podcasts and away we went.

Katie / TiffanyAOlson.com

Katie

There is a sign that I pass on my route…

Bear / TiffanyAOlson.com

Honestly, I have never really thought much of it as the ranch across the street is called Bear Ranch so I assumed that the owners must just really like bears. So, when Katie and I rounded the corner this morning and saw a black bear. Yes! A Bear!! In the middle of the road! Well, it was quite a moment.  It was a good 75 yards away and it took me a second to realize what it was. I would love to tell you that I stood my ground and was focused and poised like Katniss in the Hunger Games, ready to kill instead of be killed, but that would be so very far from the truth because the reality is that I yelled,  “Holy Sh–!” and he ran up the hill. (Yes, I have a way with words and I realize that I have just announced how small my vocabulary repertoire is as it was the first thing out of my mouth. Just keepin’ it real.)  I ripped the headphones out of my ears and began praying (yes, I cursed and prayed in the same moment…) that my one bar of cell service was enough to contact Mr. Wonderful. On my second attempt I reached him and all I could say was, “B B B Bear! I just saw a bear!” of course this comes 4 days after I called to inform him about the crow I decimated on the bridge as I was headed out of town last week.

He laughs. Laughs! Then he asks if I need him to come get me, I said no. He informs me that our kids are impressed with my little adventure and that I might have bumped myself up a notch in their eyes. I am meanwhile standing on the side of the road with my little white dog, taking deep breaths and being very thankful that she wasn’t breakfast.

Bearxing / TiffanyAOlson.com

Note the two mirrors that are strategicly placed so that anyone on the road can easily see what is ahead no matter which direction they are coming from. I no longer have to wonder why those mirrors are there. From now on when I come across a xing sign no matter what is supposed to be xing I am always going to assume that they are being serious. Yes, we live in the country and I knew that there were bears out here but there is a huge difference in knowing and seeing first hand. The only other time I have seen a bear is in Yellowstone and we were intentionally driving around looking for them.

So, expect the unexpected my friends and share it with the rest of us, you might just run into a bear on your morning walk.

Have a great day!

The Best is Yet to Come…

mothers day 2016 / Tiffanyaolson.com

The Best, Your Best, My Best is Yet to Come. I love this. I was reminded the other day about a scene in the book, The Noticer by Andy Andrews. In the scene Jones, (AKA… The Noticer) was chatting with an elderly lady in her late 70’s. She was discouraged because she was lonely and wondered why God was still letting her live as she felt that she didn’t have much to offer the world at this stage of life. Her kids and grandkids were grown, her husband had passed, the days were long and she was just tired of living. Jones took this opportunity to ask her some questions.

““Well, look, do you believe people are here for a purpose?” She says, “Yeah.” He says, “Do you think you won’t die before your purpose has been fulfilled?” She says, “No, I think that’s right.”

Then he says, “Well, then, what you’re telling me is that the very purpose for which you were created hasn’t been fulfilled and, therefore, the very purpose for which you were born is still in front of you. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to be big or grandiose, but there’s something in your future that is so significant you’re alive right now to pursue it. You’re not dead yet, and that’s because there’s a reason. There’s a future that’s bigger.”

Maybe it’s just me but I need to be reminded of this ALL the time! I am still breathing, if you are reading this then you are still breathing. The fact that we are breathing means that God is not done with us yet. Our purpose for being here on this Earth has not yet been fulfilled. Hooray!! I find this so exciting! It means that all of my past failures, mistakes, accomplishments and triumphs were the ingredients for the cake that is my life. The icing is yet to be made. It’s so easy to fall into the mindset that our best days are behind us or that since we have never really done anything significant that we probably never will.

When you are ill, lose a loved one or go through some other major tragedy it feels like, well this is it. I had my life and it was good but now it’s over and my new reality will never be as good as my old one. No, you will never be the same after you have suffered. But take a look around, everyone has suffered in one way or another. No one escapes hardship. What do you do with your new perspective on life? How do you function now that everything is different?

Get with those who have gone through similar experiences.

I have met several ladies that have walked through breast cancer. When I have things come up in my body that can’t be explained I google the symptoms and there are hundreds of women who have experienced the same thing and have written out their symptoms and how they got the relief that have helps them get through. Only those that have had a mastectomy would understand what my issues are so I seek out those who are similar to me and get the help I need.

It is a rather strange phenomenon to be totally comfortable talking about your breasts in public but it feels really normal to those who can relate. This summer while we were in Phoenix, AZ, Mr. Wonderful, Bridger and I went to a swap meet. Bridger and I were waiting for daddy and I noticed that we were standing in front of a table that had a husband and wife sitting at it promoting breast cancer awareness. I walked up to her, shook her hand and said, “I’m a survivor too.” Instant comraderie. Within 5 seconds we were discussing mastectomies and reconstruction and how long we had been survivors, (this is actually a tricky question for me, is it from the date of diagnosis or from the date of your last treatment?) Bridger began to roll his eyes and move as far away as possible from the conversation as all 10 year old boys love the idea of their mother’s discussing their breasts in public with complete strangers. As we walked away he says, “Really Mom?!” I just smiled… I’m not worried, he’ll get used to it.

Begin to Dream About What You Can Become

Now that you are so much more aware of how short life can be isn’t it time that you get out there and do the things you’ve always wanted to do? My sweet friend Taryn has 4 kids. One is in college and one is heading off next year. She has 6 more years of kids at home. That isn’t very long. She remarked the other day, “You know now that the raising of my kiddos is winding down, I have realized lately that that I have never taken the time to dream about what I would do once they are gone. I have never dreamed about what I want to do for me. My husband has lots of things that he enjoys doing and passions that he actively pursues. My children have been my passion and I wonder if I even know how to dream.”

During treatment I started writing, after treatment I started running. Just these two things have opened up joy and possibilities in my life that I could never have imagined. These are two things I can do no matter what stage of life I am in. They are things I can grow into and become better at and they can lead to all kinds of adventures that I would never have imagined 2 years ago.

The 1/2 / Tiffanyaolson

I heard a quote the other day by an author named Beth Moore,

“Time isn’t running out; time is running toward.”

You have stuff to do, you have a life to be lived, you have people that need to be impacted by all that is you. Does this mean no more suffering or tears or pain? I wish I could say yes but that’s just not reality. It means that everything you go through or experience is something that is leading you to where you are supposed to be.

Use Your Experiences to Help Others.

This is a great big world that we live in. There are so many people, issues and heartache that when you look at it as a whole it all seems very overwhelming. You by yourself cannot help everyone. So take a look at what you immediately see around you and impact those closest to you with the knowledge you have gained through life’s experiences.

Raising 4 babies has made Taryn a perfect fit for the school secretary at one of our elemetary schools in town. Twice in the last month I have been talking to mama’s who have expressed how much they appreciate Taryn and love that she is at the school overseeing our kiddos. I can’t tell you how many of us have called her knowing that whatever was going on that she would tend to our most precious people in a loving and compassionate way. She has soothed our worries, helped us navigate all that is school and calmed our fears when things have gone awry. Taryn says she hasn’t dreamed but as her life continues to unfold I expect to see her continuing to love on children and helping mama’s navigate through their various stages of parenting. It’s her gift and she makes a difference every single day that she puts herself out there and chooses to love on each kiddo or parent that she comes in contact with.

TarynandMegan / TiffanyAOlson.com

Taryn (in black) Lovin on Megan and Cooper

The last 5 years and more intensely the last 2 years have been the hardest years of my life. Now that the fog seems to be lifting I want to take what I have learned, dream some big dreams and get out there and make my mark on the world. Because the best is yet to come!

Honor Your Word… To Yourself

Olson-44 / Tiffanyaolson.com

Bein’ Silly, January 2015

There is a saying in the bible that comes out of James chapter 5. It talks about letting your yes be yes and your no be no. It’s the whole idea of taking your words seriously. If you say you are going to do something then do it. If you say you are not going to do something then don’t do it. Simple enough, right?

I was reminded of this in my car yesterday as I was making my 5 hour round trip drive to my physical therapy appointment. The running thing has been in a standstill since surgery, so has my coveted podcast listening time. Marta (Selah Reflections) texted me yesterday and reminded me about Donald Miller’s Podcast and that this drive time was perfect for catching up on what I had been missing. What I heard was great for where I am right now.

This particular show was an interview with professional golfer, Ben Crane. Among other things, he was talking about how his hip had been hurting due to the way he has twisted his body over the years swinging his golf clubs. He sought out the help of a physical therapist 18 months ago and has proceeded twice a day every day since to put the work in to see if the exercises made a difference in how his body was feeling. Ben figured that this Dr. had put years of training into learning how the body best functions and if  he was going to take the time to go to the appointments then he was going to make the effort to do what he was asked to do. He made the commitment first to himself and then to his Dr. He also admitted that there has not been one morning when he actually wanted to get up and do the stretches but that he does it anyway.

This got me thinking about how I am doing at the commitments that I have made to myself and to others.

  • How good is my word?
  • Am I doing all that I can to make my body stronger so as to make recovery easier after my next surgery?
  • Am I going to wish that I had done more?
  • What other areas of my life need evaluating to make sure that I am doing what I said I would do?

Don’t get me wrong, I have been doing the stretches… some of them. I’m in, but not all the way in. This is how my eating life has gone lately as well, I say I am grain free but grains somehow keep sneaking their way in.

So, it’s back to the scheduling drawing board for me. I need to write down the things that I know I need to do, have a space in the day carved out to do them and then get er done. At the end of the day the one I am truly letting down is me. No one else cares if my body hurts or that what I am eating could at the least make me gain weight or at the worst make the cancer cells in my body start to grow. I want to be a person of my word first to myself and then to others. I don’t want to make commitments that I cannot keep nor do I want to just “intend” to do what I have said I will do. I’m not sure what the future holds but I do know that I am going to do my part so that I never need to look back and wish I had done a better job at holding up my end of the agreement to me or to anyone else.

How are you at yes and no? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Have a great day my friends!

Tiffany

Living In Transition…

I am pretty sure that I have mentioned this before but I am a person of routine. I like consistency and having a schedule because it keeps me on track and focused. Here we are in the middle of August and my life has not had one bit of order or consistency since the beginning of June! This has been great and hard all at the same time. It began in June with a road trip with my 12 year old daughter

mennatcoronado / TiffanyAOlson.com

Nat n Me in Front of The Hotel Del Coronado

down to San Diego to see this handsome man (my nephew) graduate High School…

nic / TiffanyAOlson.com

And this beautiful woman (my niece) graduate college…

tkgrad / TiffanyAOlson.com

My whole family was there

and it was great because getting the entire family together hardly ever happens. I even got to meet my sister in laws parents from Poland! nicandphilgrandparents / TiffanyAOlson.com

My mom and Papa Freddiemom and freddy / TiffanyAOlsoncaravanned back to Oregon with Nat and I as I had mastectomy #2 mastectomy success / TiffanyAOlson.comin the middle of June and they wanted to be here to help hold down the fort while I was laid up.

Three weeks after surgery and two days after my second drain was removed the four of us set off for Arizona to visit with Mr. Wonderful’s family. I sure do love all these little people in my life…cousins / TiffanyAOlson.com And because he is wonderful, Mr. Wonderful planned a bit of adventure on the way down

Mammoth / TiffanyAOlson.com

Mountain Biking at Mammoth Lakes

and on the way home…

Bridger (our youngest) added to the adventure by getting heat exhaustion for the second year in a row which included fever and vomiting for most of our trip home. (holding a grocery sack full of puke for a half hour in the car is quite an adventure…)

Once we arrived home it was discovered that I have fluid pooling in places it shouldn’t be pooling which involves twice weekly trips to Eugene (2.5 hours away) for the entire Fall season for Physical Therapy and last but not least our house sold and closed and we moved a few miles up the river in our little town.

The Move / TiffanyAOlson.com

The Beverly Hillbillies…

I am excited about our new house adventure but we moved from a house with a ton of storage to a house with no storage (and lavender paint in the master bedroom). So while we are unpacked enough to function there are still a ton of boxes around waiting to have shelving built so the stuff inside the boxes will have a home.

It’s been a good, hard, fun, emotional summer to this point and I am grateful for all that God has done and is doing in our lives. Oh! I forgot to mention Allstars! Traveling up the coast every weekend for 5 weeks for little league baseball games in the end of June and beginning of July. We ♥ Baseball!!Baseball 10 yrs old / Tiffanyaolson.com

I think the hardest part has been trying to maintain any sort of routine in the midst of all the upheaval. I covet my early morning time. It’s my “me” time. I read my bible, journal, pray, write and run. These are the things that keep me sane and give me the strength to face whatever is going to happen that day. This is the last time I ran…

nado - Copy

It was an 8 mile run in my happy place and it was in June. Today is August 12th. With all the late nights, traveling, surgery and moving there have been no early mornings in a long time. I miss it. I miss all of it. I told Mr. Wonderful the other day that even though there is a lot to get done in the house that I need to get back to going to bed early so that I can get up early and do the things that make me feel like me. I got the okay to begin exercising again (albeit with moderation because of the fluid thing) and I set four alarms on my phone this morning so that I would get up and get on with my day.

Life means always being in some form of transition as that is the way this life is. What I am trying to figure out is how to stay grounded when the transition part takes over for a season. I want to learn how to continue to carve out my “me” time even if the mornings become impossible for a while. When I am not grounded, insecurities, fear and worry begin to take over. When I am not journaling out all of the things that I am grateful for I forget about all of the good things that God is doing in my life, when I am not reading my bible I forget about His  promises and my prayers become inconsistent. And writing? Well, it helps me gain perspective when I get the thoughts in my head in a place where I can read them and be reminded of why I am where I am or about some funny thing that happened recently or just to connect with other people walking through the ups and downs of life right along with me.

So, today I got up early. I read, I wrote, I prayed and now I am going to go for a walk. I am hoping to be able to get back in shape enough for the Prefontaine 10k in the middle of September. It’s gonna be close but I’m up for the challenge.

How do you stay grounded in the midst of seasons that involve major transition? I’d love to hear about what works for you.

Have a great day my friends!

Getting Unstuck…

Coronado Run / Tiffanyaolson.com

Runnning In Paradise … aka …Home

So I had a pity party the other morning. I allowed a circumstance that isn’t life threatening or life altering really, to creep into my heart and reek havoc on my perspective. It took my focus off what was really important in the moment – getting the kids off to school – and placed me in a position of sadness and despair. I needed to head out for a run, but rain was threatening and my calf began cramping up a few days ago and I was nervous about creating an injury before my big race. I didn’t want to run, I didn’t want to be kind to my kids, I wanted answers as to why this certain area of our life never seems to improve.

As we got into the car I appologized for my attitude and assured them that my actions had nothing to do with them. I dropped them off and sat in the car for a bit really not wanting to get out. But get out I did and as I began running I turned on the most recent podcast by Donald Miller. It was an interview with Scott Hamilton. Talk about an amazing guy with an incredible ability to keep his eyes focused on the goal and not get bogged down in the everyday. He said something that I loved, this was his description of himself….

What’s amazing is that no matter what he has faced he has used it to help himself and others win. Scott is a 4 time gold medalist, 2 time cancer survivor, he has been instrumental in research for cancer treatment and adopted two little girls from Haiti. It’s hard to come up with reasons to feel sorry for yourself when you listen to a story like that. It made my issue seem rather trivial in fact.

A few hours later I met up with my friend Tresa for coffee. (I want to be like her when I grow up. She glows Jesus.) While we were chatting we ran into a few ladies that I hadn’t seen in a while. They were spending the day with their daughter’s (10 year olds) as one of them was heading in for surgery the next morning for a biopsy to determine if the lumps in her neck were cancerous. Talk about a total slap in the face. At this moment I felt utterly ashamed at my attitude earlier in the day. I had allowed my emotions to take over a situation that isn’t any better or worse than it has been in the past.

Why do I do this? Why do I allow things to creep into my heart and create havoc where moments before there was peace? It’s crazy because here I sit, several weeks later and the situation that was so overwhelming and terrible and causing such angst in that moment hasn’t changed and yet today it’s not taking over my world. What I learned out of that situation is a few things that I need to do when I begin to feel overwhelmed by my life or even just a particular situation. Hopefully a few of these things will help you if you ever find yourself in the same situation.

Change the Scenery. Get outside or go take a drive, anything that removes you from your present state and gives you a new perspective. For me listening to that podcast was huge. It reminded me that everyone’s life is hard and has great challenges and that I have a choice as to how I am going to deal with my little world. I can either remain stuck or keep moving forward and use my experiences to help others. As I listened to that interview with Scott Hamilton on my run I remember taking a few deep breaths and acknowledging to myself that my situation, although hard, could be so much worse and that I have so much to be grateful for.

Get With People. I have a very hard time thinking about myself when I am with other people. Going for coffee, meeting up with good friends, it’s amazing how sharing life with others changes your perspective on things. I didn’t ever mention to them what had happened that morning as it seemed so trivial in light of what was going on in their lives at the moment. Again, I took deep breaths as I let the stresses of my life roll off my back so that I could focus on what was going on with this family in particular. We prayed over the little girl and I was so thankful that God had allowed me the opportunity to get out of my head and into the lives of others.

Pray. My heart was changed by what God allowed me to encounter that morning and I prayed a prayer of thankfulness. I was thankful that I had the ability to run, thankful that I have friends who love me and thankful that no matter what happens or how bad things get that I have a God who loves me and who has a plan. I prayed again for the little girl and found out a few days later that all was well. The lumps are not cancerous and she is going to be ok.

What do you do when you have a sudden uptick of emotion in your day? I’d love to hear what works for you when things feel like they are spiraling out of control.

Have a great day my friends!

You Need People

You need people in your life. Without people you will never accomplish your dreams or achieve any of your goals, and all of my introverted friends just cringed… sorry guys. But it’s true and the truth is that without people to share it with achieving the goal wouldn’t be all that much fun.

The thing is that no matter what you set out to do there are people in the background or on the sidelines helping you to see it through. Running the 1/2 marathon last week was no different. Mr. Wonderful gave me the space in our schedule to train, the kids kept tabs on my progress and wanted to know how many miles I had added each week. My friends Kristy, Jenny and Karla texted me every few weeks or so to check on my progress and to encourage my efforts. They weren’t out on the roads with me but they were supporting me and giving me the encouragement that I needed to keep pushing forward.

This is Jenny…

Jenny n Me / Tiffanyaolson.com

She’s going to be mad that I posted a photo of her here because she’s a fly under the radar kind of gal. But I wouldn’t have even thought of running this race had it not been for her. Ron and Jenny graciously opened up their home to me last fall when I was undergoing radiation. Jenny had been telling me all about her boot camp that she does early in the mornings and that a few of the girls had decided to train for the 1/2 marathon next spring. When I got home I thought about it a bit and called her up and mentioned that I might like to train for it as well. We live 2.5 hours apart so we couldn’t run together but we consistently checked in with each other and our progress as the miles started piling on. On race weekend they once again opened up their home and we had the best time laughing and hanging out and getting ready for the big day.

Kristy I have known since the womb. Our moms raced to see who would be born first and I won by six days. Kristy is one of the most motivating and encouraging persons I have ever known. It would take boxes to fit all of the cards, notes and letters she has sent me over the years. She’s my own personal cheerleader.

This is Kristy…

One of my biggest fans! / tiffanyaolson.com

Look! She’s just as excited as I am but she’s excited for me! She was running 13.1 miles as well, she paid our entry fees to the race and she flew up to Oregon from California to do this with me. Kristy and her hubby have 4 kids ranging in ages 17 down to 10. She has a Senior girl in High School and a tween girl in middle school. To say that her life is full is a grave understatement. But there she is giving it her all, giving away all the glory to her lifelong friend who was on a mission to celebrate the new life she had been given.

This is Michelle…

We met through the friend of a friend. Michelle is fighting the battle as we speak. She had round 4 of 6 chemos the Friday preceding the run. This round kicked her a little harder than some of the others but here she is on race day with posters and pink and a big huge smile. She is a runner as well and had been planning on doing this race until cancer got in the way.  It was hard for her not to be out there pounding the pavement with me but it was so great to see her smiling face on that day. Miss Michelle has plenty of runs in her future but today, today she took the time in her chemo fog, no less to honor someone else.

This is Lori….

Lori / Tiffanyaolson.com

It looks like I am squeezing her neck off, but I was just so excited to see her and her husband Bill at mile 11! They didn’t know it but I had yet to run past 11 miles in my training. My legs were getting tired and I was really wanting the race to be over. Then I saw the Durlings. Mr. Wonderful was in their wedding eons ago and Lori and I had worked together at Faith Center Foursquare Church for a few years before Mr. Wonderful and I were even dating.  I was thrilled that they were there and humbled that they had taken the time out of their day to hang out on the side of a bike path early on a Sunday morning to see me run by. I haven’t seen them in years and yet, there they were, cheering me on, snapping photos and giving me the strength to finish what I had started.

This is Marta…

Marta and Natalie / Tiffanyaolson.com

She blogs over at SelahReflections.com and she is my quiet strength. She is always behind the lens taking the photos and I had a really hard time coming up with a photo of us together so I added one with her and Natalie. She is always there. Helping me shine.

These people? They are my life…

Without them I think I would find it very difficult to celebrate anything. They are the greatest gifts that God has given to me and I am so grateful for the life that we get to live together.

These photos just note the highlights. My siblings and parents and friends from all stages of life have been encouraging, supporting and walking this road with me. You know who you are. Thank you.

People. They can be fabulous, difficult, awesome, challenging and a million other things. But they are worth it and they are essential for you to not only make your dreams come true but to make life worth living. So dig in. Get messy. Do life with others and when you least expect it, they will show up. Just when you need it the most.

Have a great day, All!

Seize The Day…

The 1/2 / Tiffanyaolson

This look on my face? It was there all day long. This was in mile two when I spotted my family for the 1st time.(They got up at 3:00 am to drive to Eugene to watch me run.) My goal for this day was to enjoy every single possible moment. And I did. From the airbrushed tattoos…

The 1/2 / Tiffanyaolson.com

To the pre race dinner at Mazzi’sMazzis the 1/2 / Tiffanyaolson.com

To the pancake guy…

The 1/2 / Tiffanyaolson.com

To the starting line photos …

To Kristy pulling Bridger out into the race and him running the last 6 miles with me… (remember he’d been up since 3:00 am)

All of it. Every single moment. I have so much to share about this very special day and in the days ahead I will tell you all of the things and people that came together to make this day so awesome. But for today I just want to say, set a goal. Put something out there that feels just a little bit impossible and then do all the hard work that it takes to make it happen.

There is nothing about this life that is easy. So in the midst of all the hard do something great. Set a goal that gives you a reason to get out of bed and put in the hard work to see it through. Seeing something through changes you, it changes you for the better and makes you want to set bigger goals…

This is me a year ago…

Bald / Tiffanyaolson.com

This is me now…the 1/2 / Tiffanyaolson.com

Life is too short to sit on the sidelines… I love you all and am so grateful to share life with you.

Have  a fabulous day!

The Final Countdown…

logo

It’s almost here! The day I have been training for for the last seven months is finally here. Race Day! This Sunday, May 1, 2016 I will start, I will run and I will finish. This event is so much more than just a race for me. It’s the finish line for a race that I have been running since December 24th, 2015. Although there is still another surgery in my future it’s the one that is going to make me cute again and not life saving so for me this race marks the end.

When I finished chemo in June of 2015, Mr. Wonderful was so excited for me and wanted to celebrate and make a big deal of the fact that physically the hardest part of this ordeal was over. He wanted me to do a happy dance, one that looked kind of like this…

But I felt so physically ill that celebrating was not even a remote option. It didn’t feel over to me. I wasn’t done yet. So we began walking. I had been walking all along because the Dr. had emphasised how keeping moving would be beneficial for treatment. So we walked. By the last chemo session I was pretty weak and that three mile loop we had been doing became brutal. That 1st walk after my last chemo was a nightmare. I had no strength at all. We didn’t even make it halfway of our normal route and Mr. Wonderful held my hand and dragged me through most of it. But, I kept walking. I walked all Summer in Coos Bay and then all Fall in Eugene during radiation. It was after radiation that I knew I needed a big goal to truly mark the end of this road. I chose the Eugene Half Marathon to be the celebration of all that I have overcome. I chose it because I knew it would be hard and that I would have to be tough both physically and mentally to cross the finish line. I wanted it to be something big but doable. I ran a 1/2 in honor of Aimee in 2010 so I knew that I could do it but I hadn’t done a whole lot of running since then so I also knew it would be a huge challenge.

Fast forward seven months and here I am, 6 days out from the big day. I have run on windy days and rainy days and super cold days. I have listened to countless podcasts and been encouraged to keep pushing forward, I have rediscoverd 80’s music and my 12 year old has introduced me to to the upbeat pop songs of more recent times. All those hours on the road have given me lots of time to relive some of the hardest moments during treatment that I wasn’t able to fully process the first time through… the day the surgeon told me that my breast couldn’t be saved, those last moments with my mom and Mr. Wonderful before they wheeled me off for my mastectomy. The hospital stint after chemo number 3, which involved low white count and a secondary c-diff infection that made everyone who visited me have to wear protective gear (I called it a hazmat suit). In the end, several weeks after that last chemo Mr. Wonderful told me that the hardest part for him was that after chemo 6 I really began to look like death. He said he was glad it was the last one because from the looks of things he wasn’t sure if I would physically survive another round.

Every single time I have added another mile to my run I have teared up in thankfulness at what God is allowing my body to do. To be taken so close to death in order to save your life and then almost a year later be able to run 13.1 miles all at once is quite mind blowing. So, if you are out there on race day and you see me go by with tears streaming down my face, they are not tears of sadness or pain but tears of thankfulness and triumph. Cancer didn’t then and  doesn’t now define who I am. I am a Christ follower, wife, mom, daughter, sister, friend, runner and now a writer. I added something to my life through this ordeal, my boobs got taken away but I finally got the courage to write and express myself and make a difference in a new way in the lives of others.

Someone asked me recently to tell them what brings me the most joy on any given day. I said for me right now my biggest joy lands right in the middle of a long run and Overcomer by Mandisa comes up on my playlist.

 

I crank it up and sing it as loud as I can. Fortunately I’m on an old country road and only the cows can hear me. But it’s truly a great feeling. I love the song because it reminds me that this isn’t all there is. Life still has lots of challenges and there are some things that we are continuing to walk through that are difficult. But because God lives in me I know that I have already won. No matter what the earthly outcome is of any given situation in the end… I win.

So, I made myself a pink tutu for the race on Sunday. Craftiness is not a talent of mine so this little beauty was quite an endeavor. And yes the photo is fuzzy and yes that’s my bra on the floor in the background… just keepin it real.

Pink Tutu / Tiffanyaolson.com

Why a tutu you ask? Because it’s fun and because I’m cute and because no matter what is going on in my life and how normal Monday is going to feel, I’m gonna take Sunday and celebrate and fill my lungs with clean air and high five all my peeps who will either be watching or racing on that day. I’m gonna laugh and take the opportunity to celebrate my second chance at life and I am going to be thankful for all of the friends and family members that have sacrificed to help us get to this point.

A highlight in the midst of all of this? My new friend Michelle McCoy who will have just finished round 4 of chemo will jump in and run a mile or so with me along the way! Talk about a rockstar!

On race day they will have a live feed of the finish line on the Eugene Marathon website. It should take me just over two hours to finish. I will be the one wearing the pink tutu.

I love you all!

Drifting…

So I was listening to a podcast on my run this morning (one of my favorite things to do). This one was with Michael Hyatt and Michele Cushatt. They were promoting Michael’s new book… Living Forward. I haven’t read it … yet, but it’s about creating a life plan. I am thinking of life plan as kind of a road map that points you in the direction you want to go and is a frame of reference for when you get off track.

A month or so ago I wrote about setting goals and my attempts at getting stuff on paper so I can hold myself accountable. In that process I came up with some things that are important to me and are the framework that I build all my other goals around. It  came down to determining what the most important things in my life are. For me, in this order it’s God, Mr. Wonderful, Our Kids, Exercise and Writing. This is my base from which all other decisions and actions filter through before I plan or commit to anything.

Discovering this base for my life has been so freeing because it helps me to breathe. Before cancer I wasn’t breathing. I was running around like a chicken with my head cut off. Only I didn’t realize it. I came too, in my zombie like chemo state and realized that I had drifted way off course.

Drifting, that’s how they described it on the podcast this morning. I had forgotten what was important to me and what I wanted my life to be about and was just riding one wave to the next with no real direction. I was accomplishing things and getting stuff done it’s just that in my ultimate plan for my life where I was headed and where I wanted to go were two different things. That concept of drifting hit me right in the chest, it was so freeing to hear that sometimes you just get off course. Sometimes you make bad choices and have to suffer the consequences of those choices but other times things happen to you ie. cancer, theft, natural disasters, death of loved ones… the list is endless. Sometimes you have to look up in the middle of the mess and say this situation is not my fault. I didn’t choose this, I could not have prevented it. The choice now is what am I going to do about it. You can wallow in self pity (which I have done a time or two) or you can take a deep breath, pray lots of prayers and move forward in faith that there will be a light at the end of the tunnel.

I am learning that you have to be intentional with your life. You have to have a plan or life will just toss you around until the day you go to meet your maker. Obviously between the bad choices that we make and the stuff that happens to us that is beyond our control there are seasons of life when the plan feels obsolete and unrealistic but the plan is there so you can redirect yourself and have steady filters for which to process all of your life’s issues through.

I am such a work in progress. I keep thinking that I am gonna nail this at some point but alas this is so not the case. As you can see from up above my kids are one of my top priorities and my son received an award at school the other day that I knew about but didn’t write down and completely forgot about it when the day came. I was devastated when I realized what I had done and sad that he was pretty much the only one whose parents weren’t there. These are the types of things that I was trying to avoid with my new found framework. We celebrated with ice cream sundaes that evening and he is totally okay but my heart hurts that I blew it and being that with no estrogen in my body the emotions are harder than ever to control, I spent most of the rest of the day beating myself up over it. I hate letting people down, especially my kids but the reality is that no matter how much I want to be perfect and always get it right, it’s just not possible.

So I’m working at forgiving myself and being better at funneling through my framework. How about you? Do you have a plan or a framework for your life?

ps… I added in another mile! 7 and counting people! I’m goin for 8 this week, wish me luck!

Drifting - Tiffanyaolson.com

oh yeah, a little side note about the pink camo hat and red jacket thing… I actually started the run with the white camo part facing out because that is way cuter. At about mile 3 I had a hot flash so I removed said hat. At mile 5.5 my ears got cold and the pink part was too sweaty to put back on my head so I reversed it. A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do. Cute or not cute, I finished the run! (-: