And Counting! 32 Life Lessons on my 32nd Birthday

Today I turn thirty two. That sounds pretty darn tooting good, doesn’t it? I want to make this occasion with a short blog post. Here I am at thirty two. Just past evening last night (or today, I guess), Zsolt asked me about my sixteenth birthday. What was it like? he asked. For the life of me, I can’t exactly distinguish it from my seventeenth birthday. All I know for sure was that I had watched The Sound of Music too many times and had this picture of sweet sixteen involving dancing around a gazebo on a moonlit night singing “I am sixteen going on seventeen.”

32 years old birthday

One thing for sure, I feel more sure of my self sixteen years later after having turned sixteen. My self-confidence isn’t perfect, but somehow, through some miracle of life, I’ve managed to connect myself with the very best of people who are fantastic and supportive and such good friends (which includes my family). When I walk down the street in my bright red trousers, thick pink glasses, rainbow hat and polka dot jacket, I feel beautiful. (Sixteen year old Catherine would have never left the bedroom, let alone the house, in that outfit.) And I have a more secure sense of myself.  Okay, I’m still a bit of a drifter, but at least I know what I like and don’t like in a very clear way.

Okay, it’s 6 AM when I am writing this, but here goes nothing. For my 32nd birthday, here’s a list of 32 things I’ve learned over the years. Damn, this is going to be a long list!

1. Good people are worth investing in, and they’ll invest in you too.

2. Walking down the street in red trousers with pink glasses, a rainbow hat and a polka jacket is the best way to dress.

3. When it comes to Love, don’t settle. Love is far too important to settle.

4. The best way to become anything is to start by admitting it aloud. For example: I am a writer. I am also an entrepreneur.

5. Birthday are always better with cake and a loud round of Happy Birthday.

6. The outside often reflects the inside. To feel better, clean something.

7. If you expect to work with amazing people, you will end up working with amazing people. Like love, this is an area where it’s not worth settling.

8. 6 AM is not a good time to wake up and make a list.

9. School is great, but travel and adventures are better.

10. Hollandaise sauce is really easy to make – use a double boiler, but don’t leave the top pot directly on the steam. I hold with a mitt and lift to control the temperature.

11. Everyone is normal in their unique way.

12. Successful people are great people. There’s no use in being intimidated or thinking they see themselves as better. They are hard working and have tapped their talent. Better to learn from them than be insecure.

13. Assholes aren’t worth more time than it takes to read this sentence.

14. Holy hotdog, am I seriously only on number 14? Okay, I have learned not to make a list at 6:15 Am.

15. The best way to travel is by boat – big, luxury boats. It’s beyond first class.

16. Everything is easier the fifth time you do it. Keep going.

17. Say hello and smile.

18. Even hot guys can be nice guys. I’m thinking of my husband here, who was a jock and who I would have never gone near when I was sixteen because he is far too good looking.

19. Being invisible can have its advantages, but damn, it feels good to be seen.

20. Life won’t unfold as expected, but fuck that – chase after your dreams. Even if the road to realization doesn’t go as planned, you can make it there nevertheless.

21. Sometimes it is useful to know that we are a tiny spec of life in this infinite expanse of space, and when you zoom away from Earth we literally disappear into the nothing because there is so much out there. I’m not saying we are not important, I’m just saying that when life feels unfair, it is good to remember the vastness of what is out there – and how “unfair” probably isn’t a concept in space.

22. Everything you experience will leave an impression.

23. I should really be in bed right now.

24. Things can and will get hard. But not always. And often times they get better. It’s a bit of a cycle.

25. Once that really big thing happens to you in life, you can never go back to the way you were before. It’s like #22, but a thousands times that. It’s okay to cry for the loss.

26. Some people will find you intimidating.That is both reasonable and bizzare, but maybe it means you are doing something right? I don’t know. Check back with me when I am forty and making another damn long list.

27. Hope is important.

28. Paprika – it’s an under appreciated spice, but so totally worth your while.

29. If a guy ever wants to “save you,” run in the other direction. (Unless you are hanging on the ledge of a cliff or something similar. I am more talking about that desire to fix what is not broken)

30. Feminism is good. There are many things that are good – Feminism is one of them. (I realized I was a feminist around the age 16 or 17, and it surprised me.)

31. When you wear glasses, people assume you are smart. If you stand straight, people will assume you are confident. If you smile, people will assume that you are kind. There is a trend here.

32. Every birthday matters.

Bonus Lesson:

You can always go back to bed. 🙂 I will see you later.




It’s my Birthday!

Guess what? Today I’m officially 31 – a word to my thirties: I’m here, I’m in you, and I’m not letting go!

make a wishYesterday was something. Zsolt and I had a follow up appointment with Dr Canada at the hospital, so that pretty much consumed my thoughts. We were going to learn about tumour markers and hear what could be seen on the lung x-ray.

So, we get to the hospital and are pretty much immediately taken into a consultation room. The nurse says she’ll pass me a slip after the talk with Dr Canada so I can book my follow up appointment. And I was like, “Follow up appointment?” in my head. Not aloud. Follow up appointments are never quite the words you want to hear in a consultation room, particularly after the life-shaking news I received last time.

Anyhow, she left and Zsolt and I waited. And waited. And waited. Part of me had been calm going in there, but as the waiting continued another part of me started kicking up and wanted to just leave.

“Let’s leave,” I said to Zsolt, pretending to be joking.

He pretended to laugh.

For some reason I decided to dress nicely for this appointment. Yesterday I was in my high-waist blue skirt, stripped blue t-shirt, and blue canvas shoes. Zsolt was in his red t-shirt, blue jeans and white shoes. Together we looked like the American flag, which I guess was appropriate considering it was July 4th.

Anyhow, just as I’m sliding down in my chair onto the consultation room floor with all the nerves, in walks Dr Canada.

He’s smiling, he says hello, he gives me a hug. (After I sit back up.)

And all along in the back of my mind, as we exchange words and he tells me a little bit about the anxiety he realizes I must be feeling, I just want to know about the tumour markers. Finally he lets us know that the markers looked ‘normal’, and the markers specific to my situation looks rather ‘normal’. And that was great to hear.

The X-ray didn’t show the spots, which probably means they are too small. This, he said, was a bit of a disappointment because now I’ll need to be bounced around in my referrals before we can find someone to actually biopsy the little things. Therefore, that means I need to keep waiting.

Fucking torturous.

And then we talked about possibilities and options and treatments and scary stuff. They may be benign spots that resulted from a lung infection some people in this area can get, so there’s that as a bit of hope. The biopsy will really reveal all.

Some scary things were also said yesterday. Things I already knew, but I guess you never want to hear coming out of a doctor’s mouth. Stuff like breast metastatic cancer isn’t curable (garbage!). Stuff like woman do die from this. Stuff like some women live one or two years while others live many more.

Stuff I don’t want to battle, take on, challenge, fight, deal with, or acknowledge. Stuff I’d rather not have to consider.  (And I think it’s total crap that we are slapped in the face with this ‘no cure’ crap! Science – GET ON THIS ALREADY. Oh, yes, you are. Okay – GO FASTER.)

He also said that if it is metastatic I can basically forget about carrying a child. And if it’s estrogen receptive, I should consider removing my ovaries.

However, we have a bit more hope after that appointment, and small in good no matter what. Small is good. Not being cancer is the best. Let’s shoot for the best!!!

On another note, a happier note, last night I attended a bachelorette party. This is my first every bachelorette party – I didn’t even have a bachelorette party when marrying the Zsoltster.

Dress code said black dresses. Hmm. I paired a black skirt with a black tank top, and said, “good enough!” Can you believe I own no little black ‘going to a club’ dress? I guess I can believe it – black isn’t my best shade.

The party was for an old friend I’ve known since almost always. (She was an excitable, imaginative and trouble-making kid, who I got to see grow up into a beautiful, hilarious, and compassionate woman. You would like her very much.) She and I grew up on the same street, and while we weren’t tied at the hip or anything, it’s been good to have her there to talk to when it’s needed, and I’m sure its visa versa. I’m so entirely happy for her to be marrying such a lovely guy, and think there’s a lifetime of laughter and fun ahead for that couple.

Now, I’m not a natural party girl – I’m kinda the anti-party girl, particularly as of late – so I showed up with my bottle off fizzy water and was quiet in my corner as stories were passed around about the bride-to-be, and quizzes were taken, beads won, salads and Mexican food eaten. I met new people and caught up with friends from high school. 🙂

It was one of those nights when I could forget about the hard stuff for just a little while, just long enough to laugh and think of how wonderful the world can be for us. So I’m very glad to have gone, very glad to have been there for that moment, and kinda sorry I wasn’t in the mood to dance on any tables – though that really rarely (if ever?) happens anyhow.

Now here is a small miracle I’d love to see happen:  Dr Canada wants to look at my previous post-original-diagnosis CT scan from three years ago. If he sees spots on that scan, then I’m okay because this is probably just a result of that stupid infection people can get. If he doesn’t, then I need to have a biopsy to see what is going on – and that has a long wait time attached to it, plus scary possible implications. I wasn’t sure whether or not to talk about this, but I’ve decided to do so since your good vibes worked last time, so I’m hoping they work again. Please do send some my way, if that’s okay. And in the meanwhile I’m hoping, praying and writing for good results in all areas.

Next week I drop off that CT scan.

Week after I have a bone scan.

We want spots on the original CT scan, and a clear bone scan. That two things would be good. Good would be GOOD.

And, it’d be an awesome birthday present too.