Lucky Thirty

It’s a gloomy morning and the raindrops are still drying on the leaves outside. It’s been a long time since I wrote anything on this blog, but to leave it like this would be to leave everyone with the impression that the battle is done and the war is won and I’ve ridden off into the sunset of a new fairy tale.

A friend called me yesterday, who is in the middle of chemo, and told me she had been reading my blog all over again and that it was making her feel better because it was how she was feeling and she knew she was not alone, weak or crazy.

I write this blog in isolation, sitting at my desk and often looking out the window. And then I post it and I forget that it goes out into the world and while I know that some people read it, I don’t associate it with being something that could provide information, comfort or hope to others. I will freely admit that I selfishly write this for myself, to make sense of what I am feeling at different times. To have to organize it on paper and find the right words has been the way I was able to organize the time from diagnosis until treatment was over.

After a blog prompted by a questions someone asked me in London a year and a half ago, I hit writer’s block. I sat down many times to write more. I knew I needed to keep writing. I knew that talking about what happened after the treatment, surgery, doctors’ appointments, tests etc. faded into the background was probably the most important part of what needed to be talked about.

I could not write a sentence. I sat down in front of my computer and a few minutes later, fled. If I’m being totally honest, I fled because I believed that the things I needed to write would be construed as indulgent, selfish, pitying, disrespectful to those who died, and flat out unacceptable for people to hear. It would shock people. It would make them furious. It would diminish me in many people’s eyes.

So the last year and a half has been a journey of trying to figure this all out.

Honestly though, as I had before, I tried to run from it, pretend the feelings were not there, stuff them down deep inside and hope they would somehow dissolve on their own. And I believed that I was the only one doing that while at the same time feeling guilty that I was letting down anyone who had cancer and was reading this blog because it just ended with my treatments and left people dangling. For those with cancer and coming out of treatment, it left them feeling crazy, abnormal, weak because they were not jumping right back into life. Ending my blog there was like running only half a race and leaving everyone thinking you won it.

It feels dishonest and it feels disingenuous to anyone who looked to this blog so they would not feel alone, insane, crazy, the only one, etc. So I’m going to finish the race and be happy with my finish, whatever place I land in. Time for total honesty.

Last November, I lost it. my apartment was a disaster, I wouldn’t go out, I was living day to day, one day furious, the next inconsolable, and always wondering if I would be able to pay rent. I rarely picked up the phone or answered my doorbell. I wasn’t eating, my appetite had not come back after the last rounds of chemo, I moved from my bed to the couch and back again as if I was sleepwalking. In bed, I wrapped myself in my blankets, swaddling myself like a new born baby. I had constant dreams, always terrifying, rarely remembered. I couldn’t read my books, the place I most often found solace, and I ran out of TV shows to pass the time. I was weak and dizzy and had fallen a couple of times in my apartment, always bruised and once ending up with a black eye.

And then one day, I was on the floor, sobbing, shaking and scared and knew that it was time to accept that I couldn’t do this alone and more importantly that accepting that was not a defeat, not a sign of weakness, not me giving in. It was actually me deciding to step into the abyss and take on the second part of recovery, the part that didn’t have to do with hospitals, chemical treatments and the cutting of flesh.

In that undone state, I called Dr. L, an amazing doctor who has been my therapist, on and off through the various ups and downs, and who has deep experience in dealing with trauma. She heard my ragged sobs and sputter of words and said, “Marianne, will you be okay until tomorrow?” When I told her I would be, she gave me an appointment time for the next day and promised me we would figure it out. As I hung up the phone I think I exhaled for the first time in months.

So there I was the next day, sitting in her office again.  I arrived in tears and am pretty sure that I said nothing succinct, wearing my distress like a big winter coat. She let me go for a while, and when I finally paused to catch my breath, she said, “Marianne, you have been through another enormous trauma. Multiple traumas. You are battling the PTSD at its strongest, and you’re still insisting that you can do it all on your own and that it wasn’t that big of a deal. That somehow not being able to handle it yourself is a failure.” I think we have already established that I am not good at asking for help or for anything that I need. In fact, I have a hard time articulating what I need or want.

I sat there feeling defeated and furious. I cannot tell you how much I hated the reality I was in. I didn’t want to do this again. I had done it too many times before only to have the rug pulled out from under me again. Deep inside I was clinging to the bottom of the pit, to the dark, dampness of it because I could tell myself it was the bottom and I felt if I stayed there, no matter how bad it was, nothing could make me fall further. Except that you can always fall further. That’s just how life works.

Dr. L., having learned long ago with me that she needed to get me back to a place where I could  cope, told me that 3 things needed to happen; I needed to go to my GP and get on anti-depressants; we needed to find out a way that I had some financial security so I could stop being worried about paying my rent and buying groceries; and I needed to start coming to see her twice a week. As I opened my mouth to tell her I couldn’t afford that, she added that she was going to charge me a small portion of her normal rate. Well that did it, I burst back into tears again. That act of simple kindness and giving slayed me. Everything she was telling me to do, were things I did not want to do. I HATE anti-depressants. This is totally a ridiculous personal thing that I just need to get over. I didn’t want to have to deal with money and trying to figure that out. It has always been a charged issue for me. And, while I love Dr. L., I did not want to be back there twice a week, trying to staunch the bleeding of new wounds and picking the scabs of old ones.

But deep down, I knew Dr. L. was right. She always is. And there was a part of me that felt relieved. She was telling me what to do. She was taking control. That day, anyway.

And so I did what she told me to do.

It’s almost a year later. My apartment is still a mess, the outer reflection about how I am still feeling inside; I’m leaving the house more and socializing better; and I have a really great job that challenges me and pays me. Progress!

One of the biggest things that Dr. L. and I have figured out is that in 30 years, I’ve never planned for more that 6 months in advance. At 18, when you are thinking about your life and what lies ahead, you are thinking long term. You go back to school and commit for years, you start your own company and have a five year plan, you do lots of things and you do them knowing they are temporary, fodder for great stories you can tell your grandchildren. I’ve lived my life in 6 month, and often smaller, sometimes minutes or hours, increments. Ask me what I want and I seriously cannot answer the question. It’s one I never thought I had the luxury to consider. After 30 years, the irony is that I know how to fight; figuring out to live is a whole different story. My entire adult life has been lived either under the spectre of cancer or caught firmly in its grasp.

Tomorrow is October 17th. Tomorrow marks the 30th anniversary of my first cancer diagnosis. I have been a cancer patient for 30 years. I’ve never been told I was cancer free, and I have never gone more than a year without something pulling me back into the cancer world by suspicious symptoms that require invasive tests. As I’m told by Dr. L., cancer is imprinted on my genetic material, it’s etched on my cells, it’s carved into my brain. That is just reality. It’s not about erasing cancer from my life, which I spent a lot of years trying to do. It’s not about portraying myself as some kind of upbeat cancer superhero, which was just me lying to myself and trying to look after others, feeding off attention I wasn’t getting any other way.

It is about finding a way back to myself, about first moving myself on my todo list and then up it so that I recognize that I matter. It is about accepting that I lived, and about letting go of the guilt that I have felt for 30 years that for reasons I don’t understand, I survived when so many others did not. It is about recognizing and accepting that cancer will always be a part of my life but that I will figure out ways to recognize when a trigger gets tripped and be able stop the crazy uncontrollable downward spiral.

Thirty years. Thirty years in which so many of my adolescent and adult dreams have been lost. Thirty years in which the things most people take for granted, getting married, having children, making a home, have been suffocated and snuffed out. Thirty years in which the trauma of repeated diagnosis clouded out the sunlight and warmth and shackled me to the fundamental belief that this disease was always going to control my life.

Thirty freaking years! And I still wake up most mornings and for a few beautiful seconds, I feel like I am 18 and have my whole life ahead of me until reality comes speeding in and I realize that it’s 30 years later and the passing of those years is written on my body in scars.

Yeah, it’s thirty years. It’s thirty years longer than most people expected me to live. It’s also thirty years of friendships, laughter, adventures, love, soaring accomplishments and rewarding experiences. And none of those things have to do with cancer.

Thirty years of fighting, trusting my gut, not accepting that there was only one way, taking on doctors and winning, and thirty years of surviving what often felt un-survivable.

I’m alive. Those two words are nothing short of miraculous. I’m alive.

Now I’m working on the healing part. Healing my body, healing my head, healing my heart, healing my soul. And if thirty years has taught me anything, it’s that at some point we will all have to embark on this kind of healing journey for one reason or another. It’s that we are all usually working on some kind of healing. Thirty years later, as hard as it feels sometimes, I’m incredibly grateful to have reached this part of the process. I’m healing. And that is something to be celebrated. I’m healing.

Happy 30 years of surviving to me. I’m going to eat cake tomorrow. Chocolate. And when I blow out the candle my wish will be for the next year to be one filled with more heartfelt, brutally honest, and grace filled healing.

xo M.

P.S. Just posted this and then realized, once again, that math is not my area of strength!! Tomorrow is 31 years since I was first diagnosed! Ooops! I missed the 30th and went right to the 31st. I’m still eating cake. Right after I do some basic math exercises…


Sitting at a birthday luncheon for a friend in London, England, yesterday, I was talking to a woman I had just met and who because of mutual friends had knowledge of the fact that I’d just come through my latest cancer battle. Her very first question to me was, “How is your head?”

She didn’t mean physically, she was in essence asking me the question you so rarely get asked – how was I was doing emotionally. My first reaction was to thank her for her question and tell her that I almost never get asked that. And then I said, “I’m trying to figure out how to heal my head. And my spirit and soul. It’s the biggest question I have now; how do we heal those parts of us that don’t show visible scars, that don’t show obviously signs of trauma, that don’t display wounds the way the body does?”

My doctors all warned me as the end of active treatment approached that I was going into one of the toughest times. It was something I already knew.

What I didn’t expect was my frustration and annoyance at myself. After all, I reasoned, this isn’t your first rodeo, you should know how to get through this part. You’ve done it before. And yet, I was instantly lost, depressed and afraid and I had no idea what to do next.

I knew that I was starting from scratch and that nothing that I had done or used before to get me through this time was going to work again. I knew I was going to have to dig deeper and I knew that I was trying to heal more than the latest cancer experience.

For more than 6 years I had been numbing myself. I numbed myself with the first breast cancer diagnosis. I numbed myself when I finally had to face the reality that I was going to have to give up my life in LA. I numbed myself when my heart got painfully broken in a way that I didn’t know it could be broken by someone I trusted more than anyone. I numbed myself through my first 3½ years of being back in Toronto. I numbed myself when I received the new diagnosis and all through the subsequent physical battle. I numbed myself with every curveball that life threw at me. I am an expert at numbing myself.

I worked. All the time. I isolated myself. I put up barriers and I stayed numb.

Most of the time, for people who did not know me well enough, I acted happy enough to not raise alarm bells, while others just retreated, taking my constant rebuttals personally. Who can blame them? Certainly not me.

I wish I could tell you that numbing yourself is hard. The truth is it’s not. I didn’t need drugs or alcohol or any other substances. I learned long ago how to numb myself. It was part of what my body just did naturally to get me through traumatic events that just kept coming.

So here I am. I am on the other side of this last cancer battle, without work to bury myself in and no other distractions to hide behind.

I know that few people understand this. Most think that this should be when I am the happiest. I did it. Again. I slayed the cancer dragon and I came out on top. I should wake up with a smile on my face and a kick in my step. I am, after all, one of the lucky ones. Every one of of the people this disease took down wish they were in my place. I know that I am part of a very fortunate group.

But here’s the thing, the thing so many people on the other side of trauma are afraid to say or to speak of for fear of being seen as ungrateful or melodramatic or self-pitying. So many of us don’t talk about this part of the battle because it seems almost disrespectful to those who didn’t make when really it is just dishonest to not talk about it.

For so long there were not enough cancer survivors living long enough for anyone to become aware of the after treatment challenges. But we are growing in number and this is something that needs to be talked about.

In 2011, the Journal of Clinical Oncology published the results of a study called “Post-traumatic stress symptoms in long-term non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma survivors: does time heal?” They studied a total of 566 individuals with a median of 12.9 years since diagnosis. Their conclusion? More than one-third of long-term NHL survivors experience persisting or worsening PTSD symptoms. Childhood cancer survivors, survivors of aggressive cancers and cancers that require intense treatments where shown to have increased risks of PTSD developing. And recently the official definition of PTSD was changed to include a cancer diagnosis as a causational factor.

What is also being recognized is that while we have decades of research on PTSD, going back to the days of “shell shock” in WWI, cancer presents a variation that complicates existing PTSD treatment. In most cases of PTSD, you can remove the affected from the stressors that brought on the PTSD in the first place; take the soldier out of the battlefield, provide safety to victims of abuse, etc. But the stressors for cancer related PTSD are your body, the treatment and the doctors. Those are things that cannot gambling be removed from someone with cancer’s life. A significant number of survivors will avoid follow up tests and doctors’ appointments because the stress and anxiety are too much to bear which puts them at increased risk of a potential reoccurrence not being caught soon enough to be treated, making the very thing they need to keep surviving, the thing they cannot do. Different treatments and approaches to cancer related PTSD are going to have to be developed that address the fact that our stressors cannot be removed from our lives.

It was validating to ready this study. It was validating to know that I am not alone. With so many illnesses, follow up and rehab programs have been developed. But with cancer there is little. You are just a lucky one and you should be happy to be alive. If only it were that simple. As a friend who has been in remission for more than a decade said to me recently when I sought her out to ask how she had healed, “I’m still working on it. But it’s hard. It’s not like I can go to lunch with my friends and when they ask how I am say, “I’m still kind of dealing with this cancer stuff.” For them it is so over and they have no idea what I am talking about.”

I am happy to be alive. I deeply miss and will always fight for my friends who, for reasons no one can make sense of, did not make it. But I think it’s also time to let go of the shame about not living up to an unrealistic expectation of survivor joy just because we did not die. To speak this truth out loud does not dishonour those who cancer took away from us. To not speak this truth out loud just means that a good number of survivors will continue to silently suffer and feel isolated, thinking themselves alone with their emotions and feeling ashamed that they aren’t living up to a fairy tale survivor myth.

I am wounded, traumatized, hurt, scared, humiliated, sad, embarrassed, scarred and heart broken.  So right now my focus is on one question – how do we heal, really heal, our hearts, our souls, our spirits, our whole selves when they’ve been broken, not just by cancer but by any number of traumatic events that come our way in life?

So I’m on a bit of a quest. It’s not mapped out or formalized. But I am paying attention and I am going to write about if for no other reason than I know I am not alone in trying to find the answer to this question.

What I do know is that nothing in my life is going to change, or work, or be fulfilling until I can not only answer the question to take the actions needed to get me to a more healed state. And as I figure out how to heal, I have to stop numbing. I know that numbing is a choice. I’m not alone in having chosen it. There are people who numb their way through their lives for far less dramatic reasons than a cancer diagnosis. I was one of those people. I just don’t want to be one of those people anymore.

Numbing is like being frostbitten. You freeze quickly, lose circulation, and when you finally get to a place where you can warm up, it hurts like hell and takes a lot longer than the initial freezing did. But if you don’t thaw out your frostbitten bits, they have to be amputated. I don’t want to have to lose my heart, my soul, my spirit. I did not fight as hard as I have to get on the other side of all this life crap to just zombie walk my way through the rest of my life.

I want to feel – as bad as it is going to be sometimes. I want to take control of my life and make some different choices, go down some different roads but most of all I want to find the true me, love her, nurture her, and inspire her to start living her life fully and openly, with a confidence that will make numbing unnecessary.

And so I’m trying to live that question right now because living my way to the answer is the only way I’m going to get there.

I started working on this in January but only now feel like I can start to write about it. It’s been an interesting journey so far and I expect that that is going to continue.

So as I work away at this question, I will continue to try to un-thaw. As a child and an avid skier, I was frequently getting frostbite. My mother used to stand at the bottom of the ski hills trying to catch me as I sped by and drag me into the chalet to warm me up. She would haul me into the woman’s bathroom, strip me down and sit me in one of the sinks filled with tepid water as she gently tried to get the blood flowing back to the front of my legs, torso, arms cheeks, fingers and toes. I would sob and sob at the burning prickly pain of feeling returning. But half an hour later I would be back on the hills.

In so many ways, I’m metaphorically back in that bathroom sink, enduring the pain of feeling returning to my body. There has been much sobbing and there is still more to come. And I will figure out my own answer to that question of how to heal. It’s the only way to get back on the slopes where I can be free, alive, and loving what I do and who I am.



Lions And Lambs

Cancer usually roars into your life, creating terror, upheaval and destruction. But true to the adage, it tends to bleat softly as it exits.

Truth be told, it never really exits, but there does come a day when the doctor says, “OK. See you in three months. We’re done with treatment. Now we wait and see.” And you are set free from the daily rituals of trying to survive.

The last three months have been full of upheavals and losses. There have been abrupt, cruel and unexplained endings but there have also been moments of great triumphs that signalled the possibility of new beginnings like spring crocuses pushing through the last snows.

In the midst of one of those upheavals, on December 2nd, I got a call from my reconstructive surgeon. She was 8 ½ months pregnant and because of a bunch of factors was having to delay my surgery until March when she would come back from maternity leave just to tend to a few clients, including me. But when she had seen me a few days earlier, she took one look at me and said, “I’m going to try and get you in before I have this baby. You’ve had enough. We need to end this for you and we need to do that as soon as possible.” The tissue expanders in my chest were a constant source of pain and discomfort and I desperately wanted them out, but I knew it was far from a sure thing and so I only told one person of the possibility of the surgery being moved up. As the days went by I resigned myself to the fact that it just wasn’t going to happen. Until it did.

When I picked up the phone the first Tuesday in December, all I heard was, “Marianne, can you be ready for surgery on Monday?” The Monday that was 6 days away. An enormous sob escaped from me and was apparently answer enough.

December 8th had me at the hospital at 5am, where my favourite surgical nurse, Claudia, was waiting. I was first up and was quickly getting wheeled into surgery. And then it all went black.

My next memory is of the recovery room. They were getting ready to move me back upstairs and as the door opened to the hall, I could see my mother and sisters. Back in my room I faded in and out. When I was able to open my eyes for longer than a few minutes, it was just my sister Jenny with me. She was sitting quietly next to me and she just said, “What do you want to do? What do you need?” I croaked that I wanted to go home. And Jenny knew exactly what to do to get me to the point where they would release me. A few hours later, my sister helped me into her car and brought me home. My niece Ruby showed up minutes later to help look after me and stay the night.

I once again had 2 drains sticking out of either side of me and once I was able to take stock of my body, noticed that I had 11 different incisions – 7 were made in my legs and hips to liposuction fat out of me to pad the permanent inserts that had been put in as the tissue expanders came out. By morning it looked like someone had taken a metal bat to my legs and I had big divots in the sides of my legs. As I slipped out of my PJs, I caught my first look at my new boobs and cleavage. With just bandages over the new incision, I could already see my new shape. My sister Amy appeared in the doorway and we both took a good look. “I think they look okay,” I said, cautiously optimistic. Amy said, “Dr. Z said she was very happy with them and that she thought that even you would admit they looked pretty good.” And then, just to make sure that I stated the obvious, I looked at Amy and said, “Things have been restored to their natural order. My boobs are once again bigger than yours.” She had to agree I was right.

I am not a good a patient. This time I did not wait for the drains to come out – what should have been 5 days stretched to more than 2 weeks. I tucked the pouches that catch the fluid coming out of you into the sides of my jeans, taped down the tubing and put on bulky sweaters and drove my car, all things I was not supposed to be doing. But I was fed up with being cooped up and doped up. On December 23rd, I made the home care nurse take them out, telling her that all I wanted for Christmas was to be free from tubes.

A few weeks later, I was back in Dr. Z’s office, the day before her official due date. She took off the bandages and I could see by her expression that she was pleased. This time I didn’t hesitate. I stood up and we both stood looking at me in the mirror. I was stunned. True to her word, Dr. Z had cut out the ugly, stretched and jagged scars and in their place were thin curves that already looked better than what had been there the day before this last surgery. My relief was palpable and Dr. Z was clearly happy with the outcome.

Dr. Z then said, “Wow, you are a good healer. You are perfect for plastic surgery. You are so fair and so pale and these scars are going to fade away to thin, white lines.” The she added, “OK. Now you need to massage the scars everyday, twice a day for ten minutes each time. This will help with the healing and it will help reduce the formation of scar tissue. In another month, I  want you to start massaging each breast entirely so that you continue to loosen the skin, let them fall naturally and keep scar tissue at bay. You’ll find they become more pliable.” And then she said, “I’ll see you in August.” I choked out a tear filled thank you and wished her good luck with the baby. And then she was gone.

Ten minutes a day seemed like no problem to me. Until that night when I diligently set the timer, poured the healing oil into my hands and started to knead the scars. Three minutes in and I was done. Ten minutes is long time! My fingers ached. Who needs home care nursing to change bandages? They should be sending them for scar massages! I have tried to be diligent but honestly, it is a lot of work! So good thing I’m a good healer.

The scars are still long and very noticeable. And my boobs are a completely different shape than what I had even though they still look like real boobs and so much better than the tissue expanders did. Dr. Z was right all along. I can already see the scars fading and while they will never completely disappear, it feels like one day I won’t just see what is gone and will be able to see what remains.

There is still a little more work to do. There will be more liposuction to plump up the skin around my cleavage and maybe some other tweaks but for now I am so happy to have the tissue expanders out of me and slowly but surely I am getting used to my new rack.

With the last big surgery behind me there remained one more thing to wrap up. I needed to finish my chemo light (Herceptin) treatments. For most of the last 8 months, it has been my father who would quietly accompany me, late on Friday afternoons, for my treatments. My father has never been there for any of the bell ringing ceremonies, so I asked him if he alone would take me to my last, and I do mean last, chemo treatment, scheduled for January 5th.

Jeannie, one of my two favourite nurses, was ready for me. Michael, my other favourite, had left a note in my file that was delivered to me when I checked in. Across the chemo ward, I knew almost every chemo nurse and they all knew me.Last 1My father, who usually sits quietly with me or reads me poetry was downright giddy. At one point he got up and chased Jeannie down, returning with a red marker. He leaned in close and wrote “Last 1” on my forehead, causing everyone to laugh. But then I saw that he had used a permanent marker and Jeannie was once again sent scurrying to find alcohol wipes to get the writing off my forehead as my father laughed and said, “Let’s just leave it!”

Soon the pump dinged and after a quick IV flush, the needle was withdrawn and my arm wrapped up. Jeannie, and a bunch of other chemo nurses who have treated me in the last 18 months as well as a few who treated me 5-6Me & Dad years ago, followed us to the bell. I posed with my father, both of us with huge grins on our faces, and then he stepped away and Jeannie got the camera ready and I started to ring that bell with everything I had. And then it happened again. I broke the bell. I broke the bravery bell.

Laughter exploded all around me. I was at first horrified and then laughing and then intently trying to fix it. Again!! I tried to get the crowd that surrounded me to admit that bell breaking happens all the time but they steadfastly stuck to their story that I was the only person who had ever broken it, not once but now twice.

I then hugged them all. And I thanked them. Each of them had a role in saving me, in helping me, in looking after me, in supporting me and in making me feel cared for. Each of them had played a role in earning me yet another reprieve from an illness that does not yet grant enough of them.

And then there was just Jeannie left. I turned to her and we hugged each other tightly. I was crying now and I struggled to croak out a thank you. Jeannie brought her mouth to my ear and whispered, “Listen to me. You need to leave now. And doBreaking the belln’t you ever come back. We all love you, but don’t you ever come back, do you hear me. Not ever. Not even for a visit. I mean it. Walk out this door and go live your life.” And then she released me and pushed me towards my father and the exit.

Just like that it was over. 15 months and 3 days from the day I started, my chemo treatments were all over. In like a lion, out like a lamb.

A month ago, I could not walk more than a few blocks. Last week I did two 7 km hikes through the ravines near my house. My appetite is still not back and there are lots of other little complaints but physically my body is starting to understand that there might not be another hit coming. My cells are tentatively starting to rally, cautious still but eternally optimistic. Once again, I am awed by the physical body and its ability to heal.

But with every ending there is a new beginning. As my body starts to heal, the barriers I’ve had up to seal off my feelings so I could actually get through the physical battle are starting to fray. The nightmares come all the time now. Tears too. I am impatient and desperately want to skip this part of the recovery process even as I know that healing the emotional scars is as important, if not more important, than healing the physical ones. And there are no short cuts.

And so begins another journey. The good news is that I am no longer working, no longer employed. Even better news is that for the next while I’m going to focus just on me and how to rebuild a better life for myself than the one I am leaving behind. Even in my hurry to be done with all of this, there is a little voice that gets louder every day, and it’s excited. Time for a reboot, a reinvention, and this time I’m not messing around. So stay tuned, because if you’ve made it this far with me through all the tough stuff, you don’t want to pull the plug just as it starts to get good. I’m starting a new phase and to help figure out what comes next, I’m going to do a lot of fun and cool stuff that will hopefully get me to a place I long ago gave up on.

So to launch this new time, to launch this healing journey and my life reboot, I am going to Mexico, to the Mayan Riviera, for 12 days, with 15 books and 6 swimsuits, some sunscreen and a big hat and some bubble bath. And unlimited margaritas. I can promise that I’m sure that this is how I need to start – away, somewhere warm, on my own, with a lot of time and space to feel, think and plan. What I cannot promise is that there won’t be a few hilarious drunk selfies. But really, I’m long overdue on drunk selfies!

¡Arriba, abajo, al centro, pa’ dentro!

xo Marianne