“Chemo and Racing…The Game Changer”

I was a journalist for years at our local racetrack, Wall Stadium Speedway. I had my own column called “The Need For Speed,” in which I interviewed the drivers. It was an exciting time to be “behind the scenes” of the track that I grew up listening to and going to every Saturday night!

This picture came up on my memories and I wanted to share it with you. I was asked to drive a car in the women’s race called “The Powder Puff!” Of course I said yes, and once I had the driving experience I understood the passion behind the drivers I interviewed even more.

I was scheduled to start chemo a week after this picture was taken and on that night I remember telling my friends that I believed that racing scared me more! 

Yet I did it and the fear turned to excitement, and after that race I felt as though I could get through anything…and I got through cancer. 

Sometimes life hands us an adventure or opportunity that we never thought we’d have, and it’s those moments that can change our outlook on things forever.

I took that racing experience with me right through chemo and knew that in time I’d cross that finish line as a survivor.

And I did.

And it was a very good thing.

Wishing you love and light,

~Anne Dennish~

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“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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“Waking Up – The Music Video”

It’s not very often that we do something so out of the box, something we never thought we’d do. But I did. I made a music video to go along with the first song I wrote, “Waking Up.” Sutton Thomas wrote the music and recorded it, and it was that song that started it all and ended up being a CD!  It’s amazing where the dream of writing my book, “Waking Up” led to music and lyrics! That was one that wasn’t even on my bucket list!

It started when I saw a post on Facebook by a high school friend, Trevor Halbert. He was sharing out a music video his daughter had filmed and produced. I was blown away at her talent, and decided to get in touch with her. I was even more amazed when I realized she was just a senior in high school! So, I met with Amanda Halbert, along with her friend and video partner, Brent Luciano, who film under their name LVL 5 Films.

I was so impressed at the passion they both had for what they love to do: make videos! They film them, edit them, produce them…these two do it all. I was happy to work with them both, because I understand passion and creativity and nothing pleased me more than to give them another opportunity to do what they love!

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As a creative person, I realize how important it is to support the creativity of others, whether they’re artists, musicians, or writers. Creative people understand one another and can see the vision that can be made in front of them. I found that in weeks of filming with Amanda and Brent. They shared their vision of what they wanted to do for me, and I shared mine with them. Together we understood one another and I was happy when Amanda sent me this video yesterday.

Amanda and Brent wanted this first video to depict “a day in the life of Anne Dennish” and I wanted it to resemble a “book trailer” for my book, “Waking Up” Lessons Learned Through My Adventures With Life and Breast Cancer.” I’d say they brought those two concepts together quite nicely!

I hope you enjoy this very first music video and see first hand the creative talents of Amanda and Brent! Much love and thanks to both of them…it was a pleasure and an honor to work with such talented young people!

 

My love recently lost his cousin, someone we both were very close to and loved very much. We wanted to dedicate this to him:

“This one’s for you, Tommy!”  1956-2016

Wishing you love and light,

~Anne Dennish~

“Are You An Enabler?”

Enabling is “making excuses for someone who is hurting themselves or you, or providing the perfect environment or situation for them to do so. enable-2

That word is a slippery slope for many, and if you are someone who “enables” someone else, then you become “co-dependent.” That is, your existence is based around the behavior of the person you are enabling.

It’s exhausting just thinking about it, yet we’ve all done it in some capacity in our lives; until we realize that the outcome of “enabling” and being “co-dependent” doesn’t’ serve the one we’re enabling, but serves only the “co-dependents” need to control. I’ve found that those who “enable” have no control over their own lives’, or so they believe. They would rather control someone else’s life rather than deal with their own insecurities and lack of control. And the sad part is, they don’t even see what they’re doing as control; they see it as “love.” Yet that’s not love. Controlling someone is not love. Enabling someone to hurt themselves or other’s is not love. It’s their insecurity and lack of control.

You can enable an alcoholic or drug addict by making excuses for them, giving reasons for their addiction, and without realizing that you  are giving them exactly what they need to use or abuse. It may make you feel more comfortable, yet is the most damaging and enable-3hurtful behavior to them.They can only begin recovery when you stop enabling and allow the to be accountable for themselves.

You enable an abusive partner or spouse by making excuses as to why you’re bruised, why your self-esteem is but a foreign concept, and why you deserved to be abused. You’re not helping the abuser to stop, but merely giving him the license and free will to do so. It’s only when you get strong and secure within yourself that you’re able to break free and control YOUR behavior, not theirs.

 

It’s not until you are faced with the ultimate decision: enable the behavior or disable your control. And the truth is, no enabler really has control over the enabled; you just give them a comfort zone of knowing you’ve allowed their destructive behavior to be okay.enable

It’s hard to let someone you love make a mistake or willingly harm themselves, yet it has to be their choice and, ultimately, their decision to stop the destructive behavior. You can say all the right things, do all the right things, and want all the right things, yet that doesn’t make it so. You have to “love them enough to let them go.” Love them enough to make their own mistakes and learn from them. Love them enough to learn to control their own behavior. Love them enough to let them learn to love themselves.

“Enabling” someone will not solve their problem; it will make their problem worse.

You have to ask yourself: Do I want to enable their behavior or disable my control?.

And in your heart you already know the right answer.

Wishing you love and light,

~Anne Dennish~

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“A Girl I Used To Know”

This is the story of a girl I used to know. In fact, I’ve known her all of my life. I love her adulthood 1with all my heart and I want to share her story with you, because it’s important…and she’s important to me.

I  remember  her in the early years of her life…she was funny, smart, and focused on her goals in life. She longed for love and a family, yet she was one of those girls that wanted it all. She had a passion for life that it was almost unnerving, yet I always believed in her, because she believed in herself.

When she was in high school she had a hard time believing that anyone noticed her. She was quiet, and a bit reserved, but I loved her. She was a great friend, and was always there when I needed her, yet at the same time there was always a sadness that she seemed to keep hidden, but she couldn’t hide it from me.

We graduated high school and went our separate ways to college. She found her way out of her “high school shell” that first year, becoming editor of the literary magazine, trying out for the school play, and becoming a DJ on the college radio station, which she loved. I knew then she was meant for greatness.

But the second year of college found her home, working full time and going to community college. She still was positive about everything, and in time, transferred into another college by her third year. It was here that she met “the one.”

She told me all these wonderful things about him, and soon she announced her engagement. They married two years later and with that came the stories she would confide in only me: the infidelities, the nastiness, and the way he degraded her. Yet, in spite of her misgivings, she married him.

The marriage seemed to be over within the first few months, yet she believed that marriage was for a lifetime, for better or worse. I was beginning to hear more of the worse than the better.  After two years, she was pregnant with their first child, and for the first time in the last few years, I heard hope and joy in her voice. And I thought that maybe this was the key to fixing their problems and making him love her.

Time would prove that this wasn’t enough for him, and all her babies that followed would never be enough for him.

We lost touch for a few years and even when we did speak, it was as if she lost herself. She only spoke of her babies and how much she loved being a mom. That was her only source of happiness. I felt like I lost a part of myself when I spoke to her because the joy in her voice was only because of her kids, never of her. She sounded like a robot, programmed to speak and behave a certain way.

And I would soon find out why this was, because that is what abuse does to you. It programs you in to behaving a certain way to keep things calm and keep things hidden. But abuse can finds its’ way to your door, whether you leave it open or not.

I felt terrible when I realized what had been going on for years, and the tone of her voice coupled with her body language proved it all: she had died within herself. She became nothing. The only thing that brought her back to life and kept her breathing were her children.

abuse-1Why was I so blind? Why hadn’t I seen what now seemed so transparent?

It’s because she didn’t want me to; she didn’t want anyone to see, because if they saw, they would see how stupid she was for allowing it all,and she didn’t want that. So she made it all look perfect; for her neighbors, her family, her friends, even her children.

Yet it wasn’t perfect; it was killing her and no one saw that it was. No one could see her, so no one could save her, and for awhile, that’s how she wanted it.

And then she broke open like a river that had been dammed up for years; for over 30 years she had been told she was stupid and worthless, ugly and fat, that she sounded like an idiot when she spoke, and that she was not worth anyone’s time or trouble. And she believed it.

She told me that she didn’t mind the bruises and split lips, they would heal. And she knew the pain of those would go away.

Yet she told me of the scars of emotional and verbal abuse and I knew she would hold these a lifetime.

She said that it was her fault; that she knew what made him upset and shouldn’t have done those things; she blamed herself for every bruise and every split lip. She blamed herself for the hateful and hurtful words. And she blamed herself for being a stupid woman, because only stupid women allow themselves to be abused.

I tried to reason with her, but to no avail. But there was a glimmer of hope. One day she called me and said that she was going back to college for writing courses, and that she joined Weight Watchers to lose the last of the baby weight, and that she had joined a gym to work out. Over the course of a few months I began to see my old friend come back to life; she was becoming stronger, her body and her mind. Suddenly she was laughing again, and that funny girl I knew was back to being funny. The friend I missed for all these years was beginning to shine through, and all the damage he did seemed to be fading  away.

And so one day she told me she asked for a divorce. She knew it would be the hardest fight of her life, but this time she was ready. She wrapped her babies tight in her arms and had him leave. It took a handful of restraining orders, a dozen or more calls to the police, but she did it.

I was amazed at how she made her life look. She got up in the morning, worked out at the gym, and came home, cooked breakfast, made lunches and got all those kids off to school. During the day she did laundry, cleaning, cooking and baking for them. They sat down as a family every night. They took their showers, did their homework and went to bed.

And after the last child was kissed good night, she went outside on her deck…and let the tears flow. She cried for the loss of a marriage, cried for the loss of a family and cried for all that he had done to her. She cried for what was in front of her as a single mom, and for what was behind her as an abused woman.

But she never let her children see her cry.

I was proud of her because I know none of this was easy. I watched her fight her way up from below the bottom and rise to the top. I watched her get back her strength and self-esteem. I watched her learn to laugh again. And I began to see her learn to love herself again…but that took time. Slowly she tried, and with each day that passed, she began to love herself more.

Many years later I see my friend as this woman, who despite the odds, finds her strength and beats them. And to this day, I know she fights every morning she wakes up. She fights to make a difference in the world, a difference to her children, and fights to find something good in herself.

I know to this day she struggles with her self-esteem and finds it hard to take a complement.  She’s working on knowing that she’s worthy and lovable, yet it is something she works at day to day.

Most people don’t know of her struggles, and that she fights every day, but I do. I know that it was her struggles that gave her her strength and I wish everyone knew that about her.

She spent the last few years doing what she loves: writing. She’s been a journalist, an author and a lyricist, yet throughout it all she’s never lost sight of her children and trying to help everyone else. She spends her days trying to make a difference in this world, and I wish with all my heart that she knew that she makes a difference to everyone she meets.

Most that know her see all the goodness in her, yet they never see her pain. She hides it away, yet it’s there, although not nearly as much as it used to be.

She’s been in a relationship for the last two years and seems to finally have met someone who really loves her. Yet I wonder if he understands just what the abuse had done to her, that no matter how much he loves her, she still would struggle with her self-esteem. I wonder if he knows just how much a complement from him means to her, and the smallest of gestures makes her heart melt. I wonder if he knows how important he is in her journey of loving herself.

Time will tell, and as she tells me now: “the scars from abuse don’t dictate my life today, but they have made me who I am. I’m stronger because of it all, yet it will be a lifetime struggle of not letting those scars resurface. It can be a struggle every day to love myself and believe that I’m worthy and of value. No one can do that for me. I have to do it myself.”

I’m so glad this girl I used to know has come back to life, and come back with a passion. She’s never played a victim, and always seems to be a survivor. I’ve missed her for many years and hope that she will always stay as strong as she is now.

I pray every day for this girl I used to know…because that girl is me.

~Anne Dennish~

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