“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~

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“February – My Month of Love and Milestones”

february my montFebruary has become one of the most important months for me; it’s one I look forward to more and more as each year passes. The reason for my excitement about February is because so many incredible things happened in my life. They were truly life changing events; moments of dreams coming true; and signs of hope, faith and love.

It was on February 15th of 2015 that I met my love, Rob. We were two people who had new hope24been broken by prior relationships and had given up on love and dating. Yet it was through one long phone call that we got to know each other and the first date happened a week later on February 15th. We were nervous and unsure of whether we wanted to risk the heartbreak of another failed relationship, yet by the third date we had fallen in love. In just two weeks we’ll be locked away in an “undisclosed location” to celebrate our three year anniversary. No phones, no computers, and no work!

4 year survivorIt was on February 21st of 2014 that I underwent surgery for a lumpectomy. It was the last piece of my journey with breast cancer. It was on that date that I become cancer free and a survivor! It’s a day you hate to remember yet one that you want to celebrate year after year. Breast cancer was quite the journey for me; one that taught me so much about my life and myself. It helped me find my voice, stand in my truth, and to surround myself with only positive people. This year I will be celebrating my 4 year anniversary date! Each year is such a gift; each day is another blessing.

It was on February 23rd of 2016 that my last book, “Waking Up: Lessons Learned Throughsend to dad 1 My Adventures With Life and Breast Cancer” was published. It was a dream come true; one that became more than a book when I teamed up with a musician who wrote the music, sang, and recorded my song lyrics to the book. We did several public appearances together and used them as an opportunity to help others by making them a fundraiser. It’s another anniversary to celebrate, and a wonderful 2 year one at that!

promo picsAnd here’s the new and exciting news for this beautiful month of February, and strangely enough, an amazing coincidence: my newest book, “My Collective Soul: Things I Know Without Knowing Why” will be publicly released on February 23rd of 2018…just two years to the day that the last book was published! Yet I don’t believe in coincidences; I believe that everything happens for a reason and the Universe must have planned it this way.

And I’m so glad it did.

I am so incredibly grateful for this beautiful month of love and milestones.

I’m waiting to see what other endless possibilities the Universe has planned for me this month.

I have faith that it will be something amazing.

And I can’t wait to see what it is.

Wishing you love and light,

~Anne Dennish~

gratitude for my life

 

“The One Word I Despise: Victim”

I don’t get angry very often and I try not to get upset at someone who says hurtful things to me, but I will tell you this, there is but ONE WORD that will make my blood boil and fill me with an anger that makes my head spin: VICTIM! Aside from those emotions, it hurts my heart, because I’m not that.

And recently someone decided to publicly call me that. The comments were nasty, untrue, and bordering on “threatening.” And they called me a “victim.”

There’s not many people who have called me that, in fact, I know of only two and those two people live unhappy lives and take their negative feelings about themselves and turn them on me. And the moment those two people called me that I wished them love and light and sent them on their way. The friendship had served its’ time and was done, because if you think that’s what I am then you have no place in my life. I will not surround myself with anyone that believes that of me.

I am not a victim, I am a survivor and proud of that.

I am a survivor of divorce, domestic violence, emotional abuse and breast cancer. I never once saw myself as a victim of any of these things because, while I never wanted to have any of it happen, I accepted them as life lessons. Those things happened to me so that I could learn from them, survive them, and use my voice through my writing to help other’s going through those situations.

Me? A victim?

Not by a long shot.

But there are those that play the victim themselves. They are martyrs and portray themselves as good people, when in reality, they are quick to judge and despise anyone who has something they want. They are jealous and insecure, and in reality, they are the ones who choose to be a victim.

And trust me, I’m not one of them.

I don’t have a perfect life, but it’s perfect for me. I have a wonderful man in my life and have five beautiful children, all of whom I’m very proud of. I am able to pursue my passion of writing every day of my life. I’m surrounded by some amazing friends who always have my back and see me as a survivor. My “bubble” is filled with the people that support me and more importantly, love me.

And none of them believe me to be a victim because they know I’m not.

I write about my past experiences in a positive light, hoping to let others know that they’re not alone, that there’s always hope, and there’s always a way to get through it.

I know that there are people who will judge me, but if you’re going to do that, make sure that you know me. Don’t see me through eyes of hatred and jealousy, see me through the eyes of “truth.”

“Survivor” is one of my favorite words. It means you had enough faith in yourself and your Higher Power to get through the tough times. Life hasn’t always been easy for me, yet I choose to be grateful for every day I wake up, for every experience, good or bad, that life hands me because in the end everything is a lesson to learn so that we can live the best life possible.

And once again I’ll say this: “If you can’t be kind, be quiet.”

Wishing you love and light,

~Anne Dennish~

 

“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~

abuse

“The Lost Art of Loyalty”

 

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While I was in Malibu last October finishing up my book, “Waking Up,” I was working on a short story about “loyalty.” I asked many people what it meant to them, and it soon became a topic that no one had a definitive answer for. In fact, a few people were annoyed when I asked their opinion; seemed it stuck in their mind and made them search for an answer; an answer that they could never find.

It also made them question the people in their life…and it made me question those in mine as well.

So what is loyalty? Does it have a different meaning for everyone? Do we make our own rules as to what loyalty is or is there a universal rule?

I start with my own loyalty. If you’re in my life and I love and care for you, I’ll always be loyal, unless you cross a boundary, in which case, I won’t strike back and become disloyal to you, I’ll simply walk away.

Next is the loyalty of those in my life. In healthy relationships of any kind, boundaries must be set for respect between each person. What bothers one person in the relationship may not bother another, yet communicating that to each other is key in the loyalty department. If you cross a boundary with someone in your life, you’ve just proved that you’re not loyal.

You see, “loyalty” is a tough one. The only answer I could get out of most people I spoke to about it was when they referenced the loyalty of a dog. A dog will always be loyal, yet my question made many wonder why humans can’t be the same.

We can, that is, if we choose to.

My loyalty lies with my love, my children, my family and my closest of friends. And that loyalty goesrecite-d597x1 beyond me; if you hurt those I love, my loyalty will have me walk out of your life as well. It doesn’t matter who you are.

Not many people are willing to do that. Many feel that it’s not their problem when someone hurts the ones’ you love; as long as they weren’t disloyal it’s okay. But is it? If someone intentionally hurts your child, or your spouse or significant other, why would you want to be a part of their life?

I think that’s where the confusion lies. I’ve been in that position before, where my loyalty was tested. It was a rough road between two people I care about, yet when push came to shove, my loyalty was with my love, not with the person who was hurting him. And I had to step out of that world with that other person, because my loyalty and my life is with him. Yes, feelings are hurt when you have to walk away from someone, yet in the end, it’s the right thing to do.

At least for me it was.

I know how important it is for me to be loyal to someone, and I believe I surround myself with those who feel the same about me. We attract what we put out there, and for anyone that knows me, they know I have their back. They know I’ll walk through fire for them, defend them, honor them, love them, protect them, and more importantly, I will walk away from anyone who hurts them. End of story.

“Loyalty” is much more than how you treat someone; it’s also about how other’s treat the people in your life and whether or not you accept that behavior. The choice is yours.

Is “loyalty” a lost art or have we forgotten the importance of it?

“Loyalty” is one of the strongest qualities in any relationship because it breeds trust and respect, and isn’t that what every good relationship should be built on?

Think about it.

Wishing you love and light,

~Anne Dennish~

 

 

 

“Scenes From An Italian Deli”

“It’s time to make a difference, and we can make a difference together.”

~Anne Dennish~

I had a book signing today at my local Italian deli, Valente’s. It was a cold, rainy day, yet the owner and staff were wonderful to my love and I.

However, it wasn’t the amount of books sold that stuck with me today…it’s what happened as I was leaving, and I want to share this beautiful story with all of you.

There was a table of gentleman sitting across from me, and they were there for quite some time. They kept looking over and were probably wondering what this book was all about, yet they didn’t stop by to see me… until I was leaving.

This sweet gentleman came up to me and asked what the book was about. I told him it was about the lessons I’ve learned through my life and breast cancer. He smiled and told me he has a rare cancer, but was fortunate to be in an experimental trial which is keeping him alive. Others with this same cancer had passed long before him. Soon, his friend joined in the conversation, and we exchanged our stories of chemo, treatments, hospitals, side effects and survival!

I reached my hand out to formally introduce myself to him, and with that, he outstretched his arms and consumed me in a beautiful bear hug. He told me to keep writing, stay healthy, and survive. I told him the same. I couldn’t help but feel such a connection with another person battling cancer. He smiled as he said goodbye, and wished me well.

That stands out more in my mind than the books I signed today. My story made a difference, and his story made a difference to me.

Please remember to be kind, to take a moment to listen to someone who needs to talk, and share your “waking up” moments with others.

After all: “It’s time to make a difference, and we can make a difference together.”

And today, at an Italian deli, a difference was made.

Wishing you love and light,

~Anne Dennish~

Author of “Waking Up: Lessons Learned Through My Adventures With Life and Breast Cancer”

Available at Barnes and Noble.com and Amazon.com

your move