In early 2007 I decided I was going to have a theme for the year and I dubbed it the ‘Year of Alli’. I was determined to make it my year. It was going to be the year that I lived passionately and grabbed the year by the horns. It was about living life in a whole new way with emphasis on really living. For years I had talked about this 5 year plan about how I wanted to have a café and be a potter. The thing was the 5 year plan never started. I think I started talking about the plan in 1999, but never had the guts to do anything about it. It was not really the 5 year plan that mattered, but more the fact that I was coasting through life and not very happy. In December of 2006 I made decisions for all the wrong reasons and stuck around for other people including my golden retriever. I don’t regret those decisions at all, in fact I am happy I made them, but it made me examine my life and where it was going and what I wanted out of it. I asked myself questions like - Did I really want to go routinely through the days without feeling sort of like living in a black and white segment of a color movie?
I had some type of epiphany around the first weekend of January last year. In the beginning part of the year I took the ‘Year of Alli’ very seriously and spent a lot of time thinking about what I wanted out of life and what I needed to “feel” and not just coast through this time on earth. My sister once asked me how many people I thought actually did what they studied in college. And then she asked why I thought I got be one of the few that got to follow their dreams when most people just do what they need to get from day to day and accept it. That was no longer enough for me. I started to go to yoga, meditate and just do simple little things like rejoin society. Life was sweeter in many ways. I felt as though I was reliving my 20’s again although I had all these adult responsibilities. Things were all not roses and there were plenty of curve balls thrown at me, but I was living life in a more refreshing way. I was experiencing more, but I also did not care as much about what people thought. I had a terrible event from the past resurface and I had to deal with that experience and person that I thought I was just a memory. Maybe that was part of the plan. If you are going to feel things and not cut off the world; than you have to feel the good and the bad. I started dating again and experienced the highs and lows of dating life much like a roller coaster. Sometimes I wanted to go back having that outer shell to protect me from the world, but that was not the ‘Year of Alli’ and I was determined to make good on my plan to be discover the real me.
Then June hit and it was as though I was body slammed out of a fun happy place into hell. That hell for me was the cancer. I wrote in my journal “Wait, this can not be happening. This is the ‘Year of Alli’, this is my year. This was the year wonderful things were going to happen; this was the year I was going to start living again. I did this already. I conquered it; this is not supposed to be happening again. How can I live the ‘Year of Alli’ if I am going to die”? Not only was I pissed because I had cancer but this was the second thing that was marring the ‘Year of Alli’. But the big question is did it, was the ‘Year of Alli’ ruined after all? Would I have even been able to get through last year if I had not chosen to live like each day was a precious gift to be cherished and something is to be gained by every moment? Would I have had the energy to get up and go through radiation or go to chemo knowing it would make me vomit? Some people asked me if 2007 continued to be the ‘Year of Alli’. The answer is yes. The reason I got through the last six month months is 1 year ago I chose to live life and not to live a shadow of a life. When I was diagnosed I decided that cancer was just going to be a factor in my life, but not my whole life. Similar to a long commute, a warped door and a noisy neighbor, and other pain in the ass things you have to deal with. You can make them larger in your mind and bitch about them all day and let them consume your life or you can let it go. Course it is not as easy it is sounds when you type it.
I was tempted to continue this theme in 2008, but I now know that I no longer need to have ‘Year of Alli’ I have the ‘Life of Alli’. I do however; have other things to concentrate on. I realized sometime this fall that I was following doctor instructions, resting, taking my meds, trying to take care of my body, etc; but I was not doing anything for my heart. One Saturday night, I was making tea and I read one of the sayings on the Celestial Seasoning Red Zinger tea package. It said “Don’t Let Weeds Strangle Your Dreams” That is what was happening. I might have been caring for myself in physical needs, but I was doing nothing to feed my spirit. Anytime I had a little energy or was feeling good I ended up doing the normal day to day activities of laundry, errands or things of that nature, but nothing for my heart – nothing just to make me smile. And of course there is work. I like to work. I need to work for several reasons, but that is not the issue. The issue is that I do not want to look back on this time however long it may be and just see that I gave over my life to just get through….just survive…..spending my time keeping my health in balance to survive treatment. I was letting the weeds of life (cancer) strangle my dreams and it was killing me inside and I was loosing my passion and all that makes up who I am. If I learned anything from the ‘Year of Alli’ is there is a passionate, crazy, heart-filled person inside of this body that wants to live life every moment I have on this earth for however long I have. So I have decided that 2008 is the ‘Year of the Heart’. I do not mean romantically, although I would not turn that down. It is the year of caring for my heart and my spirit and what makes me happy as much if not more than how I care for my body. So watch out, you never know what the crazy “All or Nothing Alli” might do next.