“I’m A 5 Year Breast Cancer Survivor!”

The day is finally here: I’m a 5 year breast cancer survivor and I couldn’t be more grateful or feel more blessed!5 year cake

I’m grateful for having survived it, grateful for what it taught me, and grateful that it was a part of my life journey that brought me to where I am now!

I’m grateful for the amazing people that came into my life because of it and even grateful for the people who left because of it. Life is always better when you surround yourself with the right people…and I’ve got a wonderful tribe surrounding me!

And I just have to say it one more time: “I’m a 5 year breast cancer survivor today!”

And it’s a very good thing!

Wishing you love and light,

~Anne Dennish~

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“You’re Doing Just Fine”

The end of the day is nearing and as I get ready to take a long hot bath, unwind and head to bed I have to wonder…did I do everything I wanted to do today?

My answer would be “no,” but I did the best I could.

Did you take care of yourself enough today?

Did you find some time to breathe and just “be?”

Did you get all the things on your “to do” list checked off today?

Did you have the kind of day you wanted to have?

No? I didn’t either, but you know what? I did the best I could today and that’s all I could ask for. Tomorrow is another day.

So was it a bad day because I didn’t accomplish all I wanted to?

No.

It was a good day even though I didn’t do all that I wanted to.

And you know why?

Because it was another day to live, to breathe, to love, to laugh.

And at the end of this day, just like every other day, I did the best I could.

Relax, my friends, tomorrow is another day.

And remember, you’re doing just fine.

We’re all doing just fine.

And it’s a good thing.

Wishing you love and light,

~Anne Dennish~

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“A Memory I’m Grateful For”

three years

It was four years ago today that I finished my last treatment for breast cancer. It was the day I had waited for since the journey began and as you can see by the look on my face, it was one of the happiest days of my life! It was over and my life was all my own to live again without the shadows of cancer hiding in the background.

And in that four years I’ve written and published two books and began to realize that my life purpose had become just that: a writer of my life experiences; a writer that wanted to make a difference in the world and in someone’s life by sharing her ups and downs and how she got through; and a writer who will never stop trying to help others.

I say that “chemo healed the cancer but the cancer healed me,” and it did. I became even stronger than before and learned how to put myself first and more importantly, how to love myself as much as I love the people in my life. I began to realize the importance of surrounding myself with positive people and that saying good-bye to the negative ones wasn’t a bad thing, but a necessity to live my best life. And that it’s okay to say “no” to things that don’t serve my Highest Good and to people and situations that cause me stress and drama.

In other words, cancer taught me to treat myself as well as I treat others, to love myself just as much, and to be just as kind to myself as I am to them.

Today I sit in a bit more gratitude than most days and am remembering that day four years ago. I’m remembering the lines of the song I wrote about that day:

“Journey is over, the battle is won, a new chapter started, a new day begun,So what do I do now? Where do I start? Do I take the road known or the one less traveled and follow my heart?”

What a day it was four years ago…

What an incredible life it’s been ever since…

What a  beautiful word to be blessed to call myself today: “survivor.”

It’s a good thing.

Wishing you love and light,

~Anne Dennish~

“My Strength Is Their Weakness”

strength and weakness

I wrote that quote many years ago near the end of my 20 year marriage. As I began to heal physically and emotionally from all the turmoil of that, I realized that it was at my moments of anxiety, sadness or depression that he became strong. At first I thought he was showing true signs of kindness, yet in time I realized what was really happening: I was feeding his ego and he was starving my self-esteem.  He felt like “the big man” helping the poor, defenseless, broken woman. The woman HE broke. The woman he was abusive to; the woman he told over and over again was stupid and ugly; the woman he told would never be loved by anyone.

And I believed him…until I stopped believing him.

Are you wondering how I stopped believing all that negative stuff he had embedded onto my brain? I woke up. I realized that I had allowed him free reign over me for many years and that by doing that, the behavior continued. I allowed him to speak down to me and allowed him to be disrespectful to me.  So, one day I woke up and stopped allowing it, and the marriage was done and over with.

I went through years of healing myself mentally and emotionally, and of course it was with the help of many spiritual teachers and a wonderful tribe of true friends.

I learned so much about myself and that loving myself first was the answer to not allowing anyone else to treat me that way. You’d think it would never happen again, yet I’m human; we’re all human. Sometimes life brings you an experience that you thought you had learned the lessons from…yet life knows when you forget the lesson. And the Universe will put a similar experience back into your way until you wake up and realize that what you stopped allowing years ago, you’re allowing once again.

Even after that divorce I would find myself meeting someone whose ego was strengthened by my weakness, and for those that know me, they know I’m anything but weak. It would sporadically happen here and there throughout the years, yet know I’m much more able to recognize it when it’s happening. I’ve learned that those people lack control of their own life so they try and control mine; they lack self-respect and are unable to respect anyone else; they don’t feel strong unless they’re paired up with someone weak.

And I am no longer that girl.

I want to be treated the way I deserve and the way that I treat others: with love, kindness, compassion, consideration and loyalty. And I won’t settle for anything less. I want to be loved for the person I am, quirks and all, because I love that person that I’ve become.

We all have moments of feeling weak and that’s okay; it’s those moments that help us to find our strength again and stand back up on our feet even stronger.

We all have moments of finding ourselves back in a situation that we thought would never return and that’s okay; you’re given that situation to remind you of the lesson you forgot.

And we all find ourselves staring into the mirror, looking at ourselves and wondering how we got here and what happened to us, and that’s okay; keep looking in that mirror long enough and you’ll once again see the person you thought was lost.

It’s those moments of feeling lost that we’re actually finding ourselves again, and we’re finding an even better and stronger version of the person we once were.

Life is about balance and we all fall out of balance every so often. It’s when the world around us is spinning out of control that we see the truth of everything, and it’s those moments we find our balance again.

Don’t let anyone make you feel weak; surround yourself with people that make you strong.

Don’t spend your precious time feeding someone’s ego; spend your time feeding your self-esteem.

And don’t rely on anyone loving you the way you want to be loved; love yourself that way first and the rest will fall into place.

Everything in your life begins with YOU.

Stop allowing what you don’t want to continue.

Forgive yourself when you forgot a lesson you learned and get back on track.

And love yourself.

If you do nothing else, love yourself.

Everything is possible when you begin with love.

Wishing you love and light,

~Anne Dennish~

“Chemo Healed The Cancer But The Cancer Healed Me”

My last book, “Waking Up: Lessons Learned From My Adventures With Life and Breast Cancer” was born over two years ago while lying on a radiation table for breast cancer.

I’m the type of person that loves meeting people because every single one of us has a story…we ARE a story! Some may not believe that, yet as a writer, I know it’s true. I was out to dinner with my love one night, along with his cousin and his love, and a table full of people I had never met. Yet by the end of the night, I knew them well.

You see, that’s the beauty of paying attention to people and speaking to them, yet more importantly, LISTENING to them. They were laughing at me last night when I said that the whole night of conversations was indeed a story!

So it’s no surprise that “Waking Up” was born; the idea may have begun on a radiation table, yet the stories were already taking shape in my mind, and for the last two years of writing it, more stories were born. Every story is true; most of them are of my personal experiences, and there are a few born out of situations with someone else who graciously allowed me to write about it

Yet, here’s what that one moment that woke me up was: “breast cancer!”

Yes, I had been on a spiritual journey for years, but finding out I had cancer was a big kick in the ass! I realized that as much as I had learned over the years, the lessons were far from over. Breast cancer changed my life and how I live it. That tumor was all the things I never said out loud, all the pain of allowing people to treat me badly. It was everything I never said that I should have, so I made a deal with the cancer: “I’ll open my mouth and use my voice, I’ll make better choices of who I surround myself with, I’ll rid myself of people and situations that make me feel less than good, and I’ll take all of this and write about it to help someone else as long as you leave my body when the time is right.”

I guess the cancer agreed with the deal, because it held up its’ end of the bargain. I did all those things and it left me the day they cut all that stuff out of my body. They did more than a lumpectomy on February 21st. As cancer and I were about to say good-bye that day, I could hear it speaking to me. Sounds crazy, but it wasn’t really. It said: “You’ve done the work and I know it wasn’t easy. I’m sorry to have had to come and visit you, but this journey is over. Remember the lessons, remember to love yourself, and finish up our deal: tell your lessons to everyone you can reach. I’m counting on you.”

Well, in a strange way, chemo may have healed my cancer, but my cancer healed me. It taught me more than I could imagined, and since then, I spread the word, I keep out as much drama and stress as I can, and I walk away from anyone or anything that tries to control and manipulate me. Cancer didn’t abuse me as much as some people have tried to, and I’m smarter because of all of it.

“Waking Up” is so much more than a book; it’s my heart and soul that simply wants to make a difference in someone’s life. Life get’s shorter as we get older, and my goal is to live everyday to the fullest, to show love and kindness to someone who needs it, and most importantly, to make someone laugh and smile.

Struggles will always happen in our lives, yet it’s your attitude and perspective that will handle it and teach you more than you could have ever imagined.  After all, “we don’t become who we are by chance; we become who we are by choice.”

Love your lessons, whether you like them or not, because in the end, miracles happen!

“Chemo healed the cancer but the cancer healed me.”

Wishing you love and light,

~Anne Dennish~

 

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“Do It Big!”

I’m not going to tell you that each new day holds endless possibilities, even though it does; I’m not going to tell you that there’s an adventure just waiting for you, even though there is; and I’m not going to tell you that dreams come true, even though they do.

What I am going to tell you is that if you’re going to live your life, you might as well live it big! Dream big, love big, and live big. Set your mind to believing that all is possible and then do it…and do it as big as you can!

It’s a good thing!

Wishing you love and light,

~Anne Dennish~

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Photo by Anne Dennish – copyright 2016

“Life Is Like The Great Outdoors”

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Life is about perspective and I have become the queen of analogies lately. Some call it a defense mechanism, I call it survival; it’s my way of taking the ugly and finding some beauty in it.

I’ll admit, the month of March was not so good for me; losing loved ones, feeling so drained that I got sick, not once, but twice, and any bad news that could filter it’s way into my life came in the month of March. It’s no wonder I’m celebrating April 1st today!

This morning I was speaking to my girlfriend who’s had a bit of a rough go lately. Sheoutdoors 1 was feeling down and not knowing what to do to get out of her head and this funk she was in. She told me that she felt like she had to get a hold of her life, get hold of a line of it. I tried to reassure her that this too will pass and then I said to her: “Go fishing. Go stand at the edge of the river and throw in your line. Look at that hook that’s out in the water and see it as your life. Gently reel it in, keeping a firm hold on it. And there you go, you’re reeling it your life that you felt got away from you.”

She laughed but also understood the analogy. Sometimes our life can feel like “the one that got away,” yet when we feel that we all we have to do it go fishing, be patient, and reel it in…and this one “won’t get away.”

I have my own analogy for letting go of toxic people in my life; I say that I’m going “gardening.” I look at the difficult process of letting some people go as one of “weeding out” the toxic people, or “weeds” as I like to think. So, I envision a beautiful garden which represents all those I love and that are in my life for my Highest Good. When I notice a weed in my garden, I know it’s time to pull it out. After all, it’s the weeds that choke out the flowers.

My favorite analogy is one I use often to help my friends out: it’s about the fear of taking 999383-002a leap of faith. I tell them to envision themselves on a cliff, looking out and over a beautiful ocean or endless mountain range. I tell them to see everything that is beautiful and good, and to pick a spot to land. That spot is what or where they want to be or have in life that fear is preventing them from having. Once they find the spot, I tell them to jump…jump off the cliff, knowing that you’re protected by a parachute or bungee cord of faith, and that the arms of love will be there to catch you. It’s an incredible leap of faith, but one that you can do if you change your perspective on it and lose that fear.

Sometimes on your worst of days you have to try to envision it as something else; change your perspective, make it a picture in your mind, or just head to “the great outdoors” for a little fishing and a bit of gardening. End it with strapping on your parachute of faith and take that jump…

It’s worth it; I promise.

Wishing you love and light,

~Anne Dennish~

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“A Day In The Life Of A Ship Agent”

When I first met my love he was a self- employed custom tile worker. He did the most amazing sawork yet a few months into our relationship he suffered an injury that would end his days of tile work. I remember how frustrated he was at not working, yet I kept reminding him that everything happens for a reason, and within 3 months time he knew the reason. A job that he had done many years prior suddenly had an opening and my love finally had his reason for the injury: he became a ship agent. It’s a job he loved before and one that he loves even more now.

So what is a ship agent? Well, it’s many things, and my love let me spend an entire Saturday with him on a day he had to “sail a ship.” It was an incredible experience for me to see what he does and to be able to watch the ship, the crew, and all that they needed to do.

First off, let me tell you that being a ship agent is a tough job. My love is at the beck and call of the ship and there are times he’s out in the middle of the night until the wee hours of the morning doing his job. He works overtime, spends every other weekend on call, and will even do ships on his weekends off. He climbs gangplanks and pilot ladders, rides on a tug to get to a ship that isn’t docked, and at times has to walk over and around an obstacle course of machines and equipment just to get to the ship, and all the while with a heavy backpack strapped to him.

I thought I knew a lot about his job until after this past Saturday. The ship had been docked in Staten Island so we had a long drive home and I asked him: I know what you do, but what do you really do as a ship agent? Well, he told me and it was much more than I had known and it filled the time in the car until we got home!

A ship agent is the liason between the owners and operators of the vessels, and everyone else in between, which includes the government, customs, immigration and the Coast Guard. The job of the agent starts long before the ship comes into the port. The agent has to gather the information on the vessel, the crew and their cargo, sending all this information to customs, immigration and the Coast Guard. A PDA, or proforma disbursement account must be sent to the owners before hand; this includes the costs necessary to bring the ship in. After that the agent sets up the pilots, tugs, lineman and long shoreman that are needed to help bring the vessel into port. Many factors have to be considered with each ship; whether they are tide restricted, which berth can accomodate them, and when it’s safe to travel, to name a few.

And the ship agent doesn’t stop there; he is there to help the captain and crew with anything they need while in port; this could be a trip to the store, a doctor or dentist appointment, phone cards or accomodations necessary if the ship is berthed overnight. The ship agent does what it takes to make the captain and crew comfortable while in the port and to help them with the lay of the land, especially when it’s a foreign ship.

Once the ship is ready to sail, the ship agent has to record a “statement of facts” which includes everything they did with the ship while they were in port. It is then sent to the owners and operators. All of these tasks are done at minimal cost and maximum efficiency.

The interesting part is that these ships come from all over the world, and the ship agent has the privilege of meeting the captain and crew, and sometimes is invited in for coffee and something to eat…all indicitive of the country they are from. It can be exciting at times for my love to meet people from all over the world, sharing stories of his life and listening to stories of theirs; many are out at sea for months, leaving their wives and children behind.  No matter the culture or the miles, the stories of “love and family” seem to be universal.

Each ship carries something different, from salt, to orange juice; chemicals to containers.  Ship agents rarely have a mundane day “at the port or the office!”

I’m grateful I had the privilege of spending the day in Staten Island watching my love handle a “salt ship.” It was exciting for me to watch the process and wave to the crew members on board…I know they all saw me watching and taking pictures.

I’m a believe that “everyone has a story” if you just take the time to ask and to listen.

And this is the story of my love and “the day in the life of a ship agent.”

Wishing you love, light and smooth seas,

~Anne Dennish~

ship agent and the girl

“The ship agent and the writer”

 

“Under The Tree – Just Me”

under the tree uncle bobI sit here this morning alone  with my coffee while all my loved ones are asleep, thinking to myself that I can’t wait for this month of March to be over. I lost a very close friend two weeks ago and last night I lost my “favorite” uncle. It seems that throughout my life this month of March has brought pain and heartache, and sadly, I have the proof to back it up. Anyone who knows me will joke and say to me”ugh, it’s that month of March for you.” And so it is, and so I try every year to change it. This year has been a tough one, and this morning I’m grieving and my heart is hurting.

I  hadn’t heard from my close friend, Rosamond, in almost two weeks, so my love and I trekked over to her house, only to find that the car hadn’t been moved and the house was locked up. I came home, called the local police and received the phone call I was dreading an hour later: they found her in her home, and she had passed away.

She was just 70 years old, but one of my closest friends and my greatest spiritual teacher. She was the one who introduced me to this amazing circle of “Angel” people that have been my teachers as well. I miss her everyday and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve picked up the phone to call her…yet she’ll never answer.

Last night I received a call from my cousin on the West Coast. He called to tell me my most favorite uncle had lost his battle to brain cancer. I knew it was coming but I wasn’t ready to

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My “favorite uncle” with his “favorite niece.”

know it. He was just 68 years old and a man that had a life of love and passion, excitement and adventure. No matter what life handed him, including cancer, he made the best of it. I’d love to believe that this part of him is part of me.

I’m feeling the loss so deeply this morning, yet I also believe that when someone passes we can still hear them…and sometimes still feel them. I’m grieving at the loss of the physical touch and the sound of their voice.

This morning I’m sitting quietly outside while the rest of my house is asleep; I’m sitting under my “magic tree,” which hasn’t yet bloomed, but it’s still magic. It’s under this tree that I wrote a poem which turned into a song by the same name; it’s under this tree that I can hear my loved ones on the other side; I can hear their reassurance of them being okay and that I will be too; I hear them whisper “I love you and always will” to me; I hear them that they take our love for them with them and that their love for us will always be a part of us; and I hear them assure me that they will always be with me, and that all I need is to speak to them, and they will listen and answer.

It’s this belief that helps me grieve and heal and brings me a sense of peace that while their physical body may be gone, their spiritual soul lives on. And it lives on in me.

Today I remember Rosamond, and I wish my Uncle Bob well on his travels to the other side, knowing he’ll be whole, he’ll be healthy, and he’ll be carrying all our love with him.

Wishing you love and light,

~Anne Dennish~”

*I wrote this song over a year ago and today I dedicate it to my “favorite uncle,” my Uncle Bobby and to my dear friend, Rosamond

 

“Breaking Apart”

break apart 2We’ve all broken apart at one time or another in our lives. We may have endured a broken heart, loss of a job, loss of a loved one, or the brokenness of a good friend showing their true colors. Whatever the reason, it’s caused us to “break apart.”

I’ve had my heart broken, endured cancer, gone through divorce, and been hurt by people who I thought were my friends. I’ve been broken many times, yet through it all I learned that all these moments that “broke” me were all lessons I needed to learn. I learned to take the pain of each moment that broke me apart and make peace with it; I learned to be grateful for them because it taught me something about myself and my life that was for my Highest Good; I learned to see it as a blessing in disguise.

So what do you do when you break apart? How do you get through it all? You make a choice. You make a choice to put the pieces back together, and you put them back together stronger. It’s the lessons you learn through them that enable you to put them back differently; stronger, smarter and tougher.

This doesn’t mean that you’ll never “break apart” again, but what it does mean is that the next time you’re faced with a “breaking apart” moment, you’ll be able to handle it differently. You’ll handle it even better. And the time it takes to put the pieces back together get’s shorter and shorter…and that’s because you learned a lesson from each of those moments.

Life is all about perspective and if you can learn to embrace those “breaking apart” moments as a gift towards you having the life you deserve, then you will understand that those moments aren’t forever…just for the time it takes for you to understand the lesson.

Wishing you love and light,

~Anne Dennish~