Thursday, May 28, 2015

Me, Myselfies, and I

“Have you seen Julie’s pictures on Facebook lately?”
“She takes way too many selfies!”
“Is she having a mid-life crisis?”
“I bet you there’s trouble at home!”
 “She must think she’s all that and a bag of chips!”

No, I’m NOT having a mid-life crisis.  And things are FINE at home.  And I DON’T think I’m “all that”, (well, maybe the bag of chips…). I’m fine. I haven’t gone off the deep end.  Not that I should have to explain myself, but maybe it will quiet some of the chatter. Even so, to quote my nemesis Taylor Swift, “haters gonna hate,” and I know not everyone will appreciate what I have to say. Here goes anyway…

For most of my 44 years on earth I was a wallflower, happy to go unnoticed. When I got old enough to be self-conscious, I didn’t like getting my picture taken anymore (if I remember correctly, that was around 6th grade when I puffed up like the Stay-Puff Marshmallow Man – before that, I was quite the little ham). I didn’t mind flying under the radar.  I did dabble in dramatic theater in junior high where I played “Jack” in an adaptation of Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery”.  I then moved on to musical theater of sorts at church and then singing solos… but that was the extent of my time in the spotlight.  Fast forward to my 42nd year…

Most of you have already heard the story, so I’ll keep it brief. I got breast cancer. I underwent about 7 months of chemo/surgery/radiation.  During that time a few things happened: 1.) I felt a little isolated, so I reached out via social media to share my journey, 2.) unsure of how chemo was going to affect my body, I started taking daily selfies to chronical my “change”, and 3.) I kicked cancer’s ass.  Social media made my world a whole lot smaller and I felt extremely loved and supported.  My “change” didn’t end up being much of a change on the outside (aside from going bald and having no eyebrows or eyelashes), but on the inside I was learning to be comfortable in the skin I was in by posting pics of my face EVERY SINGLE DAY for something like 150 days – talk about stepping out of your comfort zone… but that’s a whole other blog post! I quickly realized that people were watching! Oh, and the ass kicking part! Chemo shrunk the invader down to almost nothing, surgery cleaned things up so the twins got to stay together, and radiation made sure the area was all clear.  Then I was ready to make up for the time I had lost to cancer - “The Lord says, “I will give you back what you lost to the swarming locusts...” (Joel 2:25).  Baby steps at first as I tried to figure out my new “normal” and then at full speed, making up “normal” as I went and pausing for a nap from time to time.

I had chosen the word “shine” as my post-cancer mantra. “You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world… shine!” (Matthew 5:14). Whatever I did, even the smallest thing, I wanted to shine with everything God had done in me and through me. With that came more pictures and in 2015 I chose a new mantra, “joy”. With everything I had been through, how could I not find and choose joy? Not just that, I also wanted to share joy. To me, that meant living life to the fullest. Taking advantage of opportunities that came my way. Trying new things. Doing things that made me happy (naps included). Eating things that made me happy. Spending time with family AND friends… all the while posting more pictures.

My posts were never meant to brag or be showy. I’m sure there are some who got tired of seeing me and some who probably “unfriended” me.  Here’s the thing, I can’t go back to being a wallflower! It was my hope that I could make someone smile, share some joy, give some hope, make someone feel better about what they were going through, share faith, share fun, share friendship, share strength and courage, share love. That’s still what I hope for. God has been so good to me! Look deeper than the silly faces, the donuts, the mud covered body (if you don’t know, don’t ask), and see a girl who is thankful.  See a girl who loves life, her family and her friends.  See a girl who loves the Lord. See a girl that has chosen JOY. Don’t judge or jump to conclusions. If that’s just too hard to see or I’m too much for you, I understand… you can “unfriend” me. I won’t think any less of you. For those that stick around, thanks! I hope you enjoy the ride! And to all you wallflowers… it’s time to blossom!!