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Monday, September 29, 2008

"New Year's Resolutions" or "One Year Down, 78 to Go!"

I've been a little down lately. (you might have noticed)

After the third person said to me "it's that time of year..." (referring to Elul, the Jewish month of reflection and introspection), I decided to wait a month, and see what happens.

Meanwhile, I suspect, there is more to these feelings than that.

My mood reflects the change of season. The sky is darker, and I can already feel my winter head cold.... (it arrives in the fall, and checks out in the spring)

More significantly, I was diagnosed with cancer in the summer.

I am now marking one year since my diagnosis of metastasis. (and three years since my initial diagnosis)

For me, Rosh HaShanah does not simply signify the passing of a Jewish year. For me, Rosh HaShanah marks another year of survival.

I just survived my first year with metastatic cancer.

Since only 20% of women dianosed with metastatic cancer survive the first 5 years, I feel like these first years are the most significant.

I am 20%* along the road of successfully beating the odds. (as you know, I fully intend to beat the odds!)

Btw, my approach to these statistic is strongly influenced by Stephen Jay Gould's essay, The Median is Not the Message. (I highly recommend that you read his essay. Read it now. I'll wait...)

I used to say that "I intend on living 'till I'm 90," until a friend asked me why I was cutting myself short (referring to the Jewish tradition that our life span is 120 years). I accepted her tikun (correction), and now plan on living until 120! (hence the 78 more years to go...)

Meanwhile, though I do not live my life as if I am living on the edge, I have begun to think a bit more seriously about what I really want to accomplish.

Verbalizing my intentions, gives them more weight, more meaning.

It signifies a certain level of commitment.

Perhaps that is why, in the past, I have not made any lists.

So, here, for the first time, you have it: my new year's resolutions.

What I want to have achieved by next year:

1. clean/fix up my home (a bigger task than most of you imagine!)
2. spend more time with my kids (and my husband)
3. be more patient with my kids (and my husband)
4. manage my time better
5. host a women's Megillah reading in my home
6. lose 2-5 kilos (4½ - 11 pounds)
7. speak to groups about living with cancer

What I want to achieve in the next few years:

1. write a book
2. go to Disneyworld/Universal studios with my kids
3. visit Japan

None of us ever knows how long we will live. Anything can happen to any one of us, at any time.

Living in the shadow of death, puts things in a different perspective.

There are things that I want to do.


The end of that sentence just hangs in the air.

So, let's bring it out in the open.

There are things I want to do before I die.

Not to worry, as far as I know, I'm not dying yet

(I'm not dead yet!)

So, next year, when I've beaten 40%* of the odds, we'll review this post, and evaluate just how successful I was at achieving this years goals.

Then, I will decide whether or not to make another list...

Wishing you all a K'tiva V'Chatima Tovah (you should be inscribed and sealed in the book of life) and a Shanah Tovah U'Mtukah (a good and sweet year).

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,

* I know these statistics don't work that way. But you get the idea....


Anonymous said...

I am a lurker (and breast cancer survivor) who is so tremendously inspired by you. Your honesty and bitochen and and struggles and powerful writing are so moving. May you have a new year full of strength. And may your children continue to grow in their love and appreciation for you.

P.S. Cross one item off your list--your book is being written with each post.

Anonymous said...

Two things: There's a Disneyland in Japan, if that makes things easier!

And... re #5 - feel free to pencil me in for the final perek- I learned it last year, hence crossing something off MY to-do list!

שנה טובה

Anonymous said...

wish I had great words of wisdom but I know you'll share all the help I too need with 1 and 4. I'm sitting in front of a pile of stuff my husband has declared I must deal with - he took them out of all my hiding places - I KNOW in my head it's important to let go of things we don't use, but how to get the heart (or whatever other part of the body it is we're using) to really part with stuff??? I truly believe it also can help with illness -

Remember when in labor and they'd count how much time has passed - so glad you've passed the 20% - I look forward to the day you are declared cancer free - it can happen. I believe it.


Shevy said...

Shana Tova u'Metuka! May the coming year bring you and your family health, happiness and parnassa.

I'm just taking a little break before I go stick the smoked turkey in the oven. Oops, and I haven't done the candied carrots yet.

Four & a half hours to go until Yom Tov....

Gila said...

Great list! Count me in for your megillah reading. I won't read, but will come decked out in costume and will listen.

Baila said...

Lists are good. But I think the concrete ones (writing a book, visiting specific places, hosting megillah) are much easier to achieve than some of the others (managing our time, more patience with kids and husband). Those are goals that will always stay on the list, no?

And sometimes you need to sit around the house and accomplish nothing (even if you don't have cancer).

Still, I'm looking forward to next year's list, Beezrat Hashem.

Rahel Jaskow said...

Count me in for the megillah reading, please! I prefer Chapter 6, but I'll read any chapter you assign me.

rickismom said...

Wishing you many more years of list-making!

Ilana said...

Here is a post -- and a whole blog -- that you might find useful in achieving more of your goals. They're great goals! I want to urge you to quantify them somehow. Otherwise, you will have trouble tracking progress. And then you'll think you made less progress than you actually did. Try to be specific, so you have something concrete to work on.


With love and wishes for all blessings for the new year.

A Living Nadneyda said...

Having attended a beautiful megilla reading in your home many years ago, I'm assuming that a repeat performance is well within reach.

May you reach all your dreams, wishes and hopes this year and beyond... way beyond.

שׁנה טובה.

Noa said...

RivkA - was thinking about you this rosh hashana and how it was your "cancer-versary" and sending good thoughts your way.

I too can be counted on for your megillah reading (though knowing you and your home, I don't expect it to be cleaned by then!!) - i can read alef, bet, daled, vav, tet/yud with little to no prior notice, the others would take a bit but am happy to join in so you can cross that off your list!

Shana tova - Noa (and thanks for the birthday wishes)

Aliza Berger-Cooper said...

Re megillah reading - I know Chapters 6 and 8 through 10. I'd be happy to learn 7 too.

Why not plan it for this year???


Batya said...

G-d willing we'll be reading new posts ten years on.

Refuah shleimha.
Don't list, do!

RivkA with a capital A said...

Anon – thanks! (I appreciate the sentiment, but blogging is so different from writing a book)

Tafka – yeah, I know. We’ll probably make it to Orlando before we get to Japan... Meanwhile, I've pencilled you in!

Klara – I’m working on it!

Shevy – amen! Glad I could provide you with an entertaining break!

Baila – yeah... Good point!

Rahel– I’m writing you in!

Rickismom – amen! Though we’ll see how it works for this year... then I’ll decide if I’m going to make any more lists... especially any more public lists....

SquarePeg – Baila said the same thing. I'll have to think more about how to quantify those things. We'll talk... Thank for the link.

ALN – I think TS organized that one! She is my FAVORITE Megilla reader!

Noa – “cancer-versary” – I like that! “knowing you and your home... LOL! I’m really hoping...

ABC – you’re in!
My intention is for this year! (I wrote the post before Rosh HaShanah!)

Muse – thanks!

RivkA with a capital A said...

Megilla Readers, so far:

Tafka PP (chapter 5)

Rahel (prefers 6, but can read any chapter)

Noa (can read 1, 2, 4, 6, 9, 10 + any other, with advance notice)

ABC (knows 6, 8, 9, 10, would learn 7)


someone else, who called me this morning. (maybe RD?)

Plus, Gila, who will not read, but gave her written commitment to come in costume! Yay Gila!!

Bonus prizes for everyone who comes in costume!

Wow, this is so awesome!

Including me, we have six readers already!

Anonymous said...

Count me in for chapter 3!
Can Eliana come too?

Anonymous said...

I would be interested in a Women's Megillah Reading. I already know how to read chapter 1 and 2. I am open to learning how to read another chapter for this year.