About Progress with Monica Packer

9BFC56B6-D8B5-4349-A0E5-3E63B35D7F53So, I have to admit…. a year ago and a half ago, if you would have asked me what a podcast was, I probably would have said it has something to do with a broken bone. Since then, my dear friend Kristin who has been one of my biggest cheerleaders throughout this journey, has nominated me to be on a couple… and miraculously, I was chosen!

Today, my latest interview with the sweet Monica Simmons Packer was aired. I have to chuckle when I think back to the seconds before she was supposed to call me…. Monica lives in San Francisco, so you can imagine what was running through my head when she called and heard my accent for the first time… lol! I’m sure she thought “hello biscuits and gravy!!!” Lol… but she was so incredibly sweet!!!

Her podcast is all about progress, not perfection- so please, show her some love and follow her on Instagram (@aboutprogress) or FB About Progress

And hop on over and listen to the podcast- I have since learned that the nicest thing you can do for a podcast is to like it on iTunes and leave a review.

http://www.aboutprogress.com/2017/10/danielle-stepp.html?m=1
Or
https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/ap-054-danielle-stepp-learning-the-precious-value-of-time/id1173416233?i=1000394072237&mt=2

Thanks guys for the support and following this journey with me!

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One Year Cancer Free

77581C9C-1B91-4399-9A1A-475040814E44Seriously- I cannot believe it has already been one year since I heard those words…. “your cancer is gone”.

I still pinch myself because it doesn’t feel real. Real that I had cancer, real that I had chemo, and went through all of that just three months after my sweet Macy took her first breath on the outside of my body.

Maybe I was in denial, or maybe it didn’t hit me until I was finally able to breathe. That first breath was one year ago today. Wow. Time has surely flown by these last 12 months.

I just want to say thank you again to all of you for taking the journey with me. You read my posts and left comments that were like coal in my stove. You kept me going when I wasn’t sure how much farther I could push. Your friendships were what carried me through.

While looking back on the last 18 months, a few lines from different people have stood out in my mind. Yes, it is probably going to be another one of my novel length posts, but I can’t help but reflect on the past year and a half.

First was a phone call from one of my best friends growing up. It was the day after I was told I had cancer. I was lying in the hospital bed in ICU, drifting in and out of a morphine induced coma when someone reached me my phone. The name showed Krissie Kiser. I answered, exhausted, but feeling up to hearing her cheerful voice. Krissie could always make me laugh, but this time she couldn’t hide her tears- even over the phone. She sat in silence while trying to get her words out and I told her I was fine and I would be ok. She finally said, “you are the last person out of all of us that I would imagine getting this. You have always been the strongest one”.

We talked for a while longer and we hung up with her laughing that she called to comfort me, but I was the one who ended up comforting her.

I thought about those words for the next several days. I guess no one thinks they will be the one who gets diagnosed, I certainly didn’t. Then, it hit me. What Krissie said to me- it all made sense. Of course it was me, it had to be…. it needed to be, because I was tough. And I still am. God doesn’t give us more than we can handle and He chose me for the very reason that Krissie said…. because I was the strongest one.

Another moment I still think about was actually something that came out of my own mouth. It came from deep down inside, and it may shed light on why losing your hair due to cancer is so hard.

My friend who does my hair here came to the house to cut my Uber-long mane so I could have it made into a wig before it all fell out. I had been looking on Pinterest for days, trying to prepare myself for the short bin that was to come. The pictures were cute, but I just dreaded it more than I can explain. We set a makeshift salon up in our living room with a tarp on the floor. My friends came and tried to keep the air light, but it was more than even they could handle. Then, my hair was put in low pony tails and she asked me if I was ready. I was never ready for that, or cancer but I think I nodded my head before I heard the first sheer saw through my thick pony. I immediately started sobbing uncontrollably, and the answer came out. Up through my gut and out of my mouth Rose the words, “it just feels like cancer is already winning”. Finally, it made sense why I dreaded this hair cut so much. Because it wasn’t my choice.

Lastly, so I don’t bore you to death was a comment from someone, and I honestly cant remember who. Whoever it was called me a “wise old owl” in one of my Facebook comments. I laughed and thought it was cute because even though I am not a little teeny bopper anymore, I love owls as much as any 13 year old… haha!

I rolled that around and agreed with it in my head. The way I saw the world after cancer was so incredibly different than before. Why was this I wondered? And what did I have in common with the wise old owls that I grew up around. The answer was obvious: It’s not until your time is coming to an end that you see the world for what it truly is. Thankfully, my time wasn’t coming to an end, but cancer patients never feel like they are out of the woods.

Cancer is an ugly beast, but sometimes it comes with a beautiful gift. As well as it should!

I am 34 years old and yes, I do feel like a wise old owl, but that is a gift that I was given from enduring this disease. Most people don’t get that clarity until they are older, but I have been blessed enough to receive it early.

It’s not something I can teach or explain, but it truly has been like wearing rose colored glasses for over a year now.

Life is a blessing. Every single day is a gift, but no one expects that gift to be taken away until they are facing death.

With all of that said, my wise old owl crack for today is this: live your life as if you are 103. Laugh hard, live right, and love like it’s your last seconds here on Earth. Don’t complain, and see the beauty in everything. Love everyone as if they were your mother and pay someone a compliment every day. Stop and smell the flowers and for Heavens sake- put down the electronics. You cannot get those moments back. You need to bless others in order to be blessed. And my final wish is that everyone would just live by the golden rule. That is truly worth more than any riches on Earth.

God. Less y’all! Have a fabulous day!!!!

It was a Ball!

Everyone has been asking me about the ball. Maybe because we only think of balls in castles from fairy tales. Or maybe it’s the enchantment of it all, I don’t know. I have to admit, it was the fairy tale that sparked my interest. Not to mention, it benefited the American Cancer Society- so it was a win-win for me.

It was totally out of my comfort zone to do something like this (right now). The first thing I thought of when I saw the advertisement was, “how on earth would I fix my hair?”. That question has been the little storm cloud over my head for a year now. I had googled “red carpet pixie” and saw all the cute up-do’s on Jennifer Lawrence and Charlize Theron, but when it came down to it, I just wasn’t brave enough. So, I went with my little bobby pin, my comfort blanket.

When we pulled up, I thought to myself, “what am I doing here???”. I got super nervous. Mostly about my hair, but also about the large scar on my chest. Would people think I look gross? Would people stare at it and not understand why I chose a strapless gown? Usually, I wear my scar proudly…. Because it is proof that I was stronger that what tried to hurt me. But this night, it was different. I was super self-conscious.

It wasn’t long into the evening when I realized why God kept tugging at me to go.

As I was walking through the auction line, I turn around and see this GORGEOUS girl with the most perfect hair! Of course I noticed the hair, but her eyes were just piercing blue. The first words that came out of my mouth were, “oh my gosh you are gorgeous!”. She immediately hugged me and I knew at that second that I just found a forever friend. We stood there and jabbered and I told her that I had just beat cancer and we jabbered some more. For the first time since I walked into the space, I felt comfortable, like I was talking with an old friend.

After a few minutes, we began shuffling into the ball room where dinner was being served. A guy tapped me on the shoulder and told me that he was my “new” friends boyfriend and he just wanted to say hi to me because he had never seen someone effect his girlfriend like I did. It warmed my heart, but I honestly wasn’t sure how I could have impacted her.

It wasn’t long before I spotted my new friend out in the crowd. She was just so sweet and was so classy and I was in awe of how beautiful she was inside and out. I was curious how I could have made an impression on her- this girl who I was immediately drawn to the second that I met her.

Sometimes, God puts us places for a reason. Whether it’s to learn something new, to protect us from harm, or cross our paths with a forever friend. I am glad that He put me right where he did Saturday night, so I could gain a new friend: Alexis.
IMG_6201

It’s the small things…

IMG_5915Fresh flowers, a hand written note, a favorite candy bar…. it’s amazing how something so small can leave such a huge impact on someone’s day.

While sitting in church on Sunday, a short clip played about a group of ladies who have gotten together for 20 years to color and write greeting cards for veterans. For t-w-e-n-t-y years, these women have drawn pictures, cut out construction paper, glittered and glued thousands of cards and it made me smile from the inside out.

I sat and imagined all the lives that it must have touched and it left me breathless.

For the one who didn’t have family, they must have felt love. For the one who was having a tough day, they must have smiled. For the one who had just received the saddest of news, it had to lift them up. Something so small to some, can mean the world to another.

I guess what I am trying to say is, it doesn’t cost much- if anything to bless someone. It’s not about the price of a gift that we should focus on. The value shouldn’t me measured by it’s worth. The true importance is the thought behind it.

I never fully believed the saying, “it’s the thought that counts” until this past year. It always sounded good, but when it came down to it- if Travis had forgotten to get me a birthday gift but explained that he “thought” about getting me one but didn’t…. well, let’s just say he would probably be in the dog house…. lol.

I can’t say I still feel that way today.

Time is the most valuable thing we have. Think about it. If time were money, we would be flushing it down the drain by the second. It is our greatest treasure and it costs nothing.

If someone you know is going through a tough time, whether it’s illness, family problems, financial issues or just down in the dumps, make their day! Send them a card, text or (I know it sounds ancient for the young generation) but pick up the phone and call them.

When I was sick, I received dozens of cards, hundreds of messages and thousands of comments. I read every single word and held onto every shred of positivity. It got me through. So, to those of you who reached out to me and my family, whether it was a message or a meal, you made an impact on me and I thank you. Your encouragement was my fuel.

I hope the group of ladies who do something as small as devote their time to making cards for veterans inspires you. It has me.

It’s the small things ysmall things that mean the most.uyuttjwjwwerpg hyskfo

America’s Favorite Past Time

They say that America’s favorite past time is baseball… I guess I can see that. The hot dogs, cotton candy and peanuts… Add in a snow cone and you’ve got yourself a perfect day at the ball park.

To me, the last year of my life has felt like just that…. a baseball game, but in slow motion.

When I finished my last chemo, there was no question. I felt like I had knocked cancer outta the park! Well, maybe not out of the park, but well into centerfield- right down the middle. I was on cloud nine!!!

However, the excitement of the ball flying so high was short lived. So many times, I have seen people I know and fought beside, hear bad news soon after they go into remission. I compare those first three months to the long stride it takes to get to first base.

You’re looking up and thanking God that you got to hit the ball but the base seems so far away. Like a never ending sprint with cancer on your shirt tales trying to catch up with you. You run as fast as you can and as hard as you can, without making eye contact with the devil at first base…

My first set of scans were clean and I was SAFE!!!! Thank you God for that blessing….. but the game isn’t over yet, for I was only on first base.

You watch carefully and know that you are still a long way from home. First base seemed like it was a mile long but the distance is the same to get to second…. this was so true in my real life as well. Those first set of scans were terrifying, fresh out of chemo, I dreaded it daily for three months, knowing I wasn’t out of the dark.

Finally, the results were in and my 3 month scans were clean. Again, I thank God for that news. That long sprint to second was tough, but my strength was coming back and my confidence was building.

Half way around the diamond, and half way through my first year of being cancer free, my six month scans were coming up. Although I was more calm, my focus never wavered…. I was nervous but felt steady as I knew I was getting closer to being on home plate.

I still had my eye on the prize. That prize being one year cancer free.

You all know the results of my second base: I was still deemed “cancer free”. Thank you God for this blessing of being healthy and keeping the monster down!

So now, in two weeks from tomorrow, I am hoping to round third base and keep running….. home.

I’ve had a lot of popcorn and peanuts this year, but not without some sweat and nerves, but I am praying for a win!

My scans are scheduled for Friday the 18th. Please whisper a little prayer for me that day.

Sadly with cancer, there are no homeruns- and there won’t be until we find a cure.

Please take part in your local charities and help fundraise for finding cures. Be a part of Relay for Life, run in the Susan G Komen race, donate to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, or just choose your favorite cancer organization on Amazon smile…. So many of our lives depend on it.
💜💗💙🖤❤️💛💚

Thank you!
DanielleIMG_5584

Just Disney Already!!!

I know what you are thinking…. they took an 18 month old to Disney World?!?! Are they crazy????

Go ahead and say it…….

I know you are thinking it……

“Do you really think she will remember it?”……

No. Of course not…. But I will.

I don’t know how many times we have heard this over the past couple months. From everyone who we spill our excitement to. Will Macy remember her first trip to the most magical place on Earth? Haha-I wish!!!!! Cause it was amazzzzzing!!!!

Will she remember how her eyes lit up the first time she saw Mickey Mouse? Nah….

Will she remember dancing in “It’s a Small World” to the music from around the world??? Not a chance…..

Will she remember screaming when she met Cinderella???? Lol!!!! I sure hope not!!!!

But I will treasure these memories for a lifetime. And there are a ridiculous amount of pictures to prove it!!! Haha!

When I first brought up Disney to Travis, he said let’s wait until she is 4 or 5 so “she will remember it”… (see a pattern here? Lol). If you know my husband, then you know that sometimes he can be sooooo tight, that he squeaks!!! Lol…. (in all honesty- if he wasn’t, I wouldn’t have a quarter to call home with…. if pay phones still existed).

Anyway….. his tune changed when I told him that Macy is free until 3. I booked our trip within a matter of minutes from that exchange.

Normally, this would be all there is to say about a story like this….. but y’all know me and my never ending posts….. so save your penny, because here are my thoughts.

Macy may never remember the things she saw and did yesterday, but I was blessed enough to see it. What if I hadn’t had an outcome like I did? I would have never seen my baby girl ride the Dumbo ride or seen her little smile as she pointed to the “bobbles” in Ariel’s Adventure.

My point is this: why wait to do the things you want to do? Tomorrow is never promised, so why do we as humans always put things off?

I used to plan out my life… I thought I would be married 23, have a girl at age 25 and a boy at 27. Only one of those things happened obviously…. haha. But planning in advance, seems so crazy to me now. Another lesson that cancer has taught me I guess.

It’s just our human nature to look ahead. Yeah, we could have waited and saved money by not taking Macy until she is 5, but who is to say that both of us would still be here to take her?

So….. if you have been waiting to take that trip to the beach, or walk along the stars in Hollywood, or even visit another country…… just do it already!!!!

There are no rules saying you have to do this at this time or that at that…. Live your own life. Dance to your own drummer! People will say you are crazy- but just tell them you are crazy about life!

I was super duper blessed to get a second chance- but what if I wasn’t??? Sorry to sound so morbid, but it’s something to think about. Some people never get to do that one thing in life that they wanted to do…. don’t let that be you!

Live your life every day like it could be your last….. because you never know when that day will be.

#disneyworld2017

Complaining about Complaining…

So often we find ourselves complaining about life. I’m fat, I’m tired, my back hurts, I’m old, I am broke, and so on and so on…..

While we complain about these things, do we ever consider those who would gladly take our place?

Maybe it has become a sore spot in my heart, or maybe I have a lower tolerance for this kind of thing. Once again, a little package left behind by cancer…. (thanks cancer).

We all have problems. Maybe you have pain or maybe your low on cash and it’s hard to make ends meet, whatever the case may be- I promise you, someone out there would love your bad day.

If your problem is you have gained too much weight and you think you’re fat…. Just think about the millions of people around the world who are starving and would love to have the food you have access to. Maybe you need to lose a few pounds, but is it a reason to hate your life? It certainly beats the alternative.

You’re tired? We all get tired- so why waste what energy you have, complaining about it. For a positive spin- being tired isn’t always permanent…. so go get some rest! Being tired, but alive- beats the alternative.

Your body aches? Everyone’s does. Our bodies were never meant to last forever. They will eventually all give out one day. Just be grateful you have those body parts that do tend to hurt. Achy joints and bones are better than no joints and bones…. so, it beats the alternative.

You dread getting another year older? Well….. all I have to say is: it definitely beats the alternative.

You want more money? You’re always broke? Something I have learned from traveling to a third world country is…. no one in the USA is poor. No one. If they are, it is their choice. Now, I’m not talking about someone who is behind on the bills and has to buy powder milk instead of real milk. I am talking about poor; as in there is no food to eat so you eat dried leaves. The average working Guatemalan makes $35 a month. There are no assistance programs in other countries. No food stamps, welfare, assisted living. Be grateful with what you have. It always beats the alternative.

What I am trying to say is this: Why waste your time complaining? This life is short…. trust me! And every second matters. Why fill those precious moments with complaints?

Why not fill every single moment of your life with what makes you happy. Positive thoughts go along way. Laughter is the best medicine!

If you were given X amount of days in your life, would you fill up your time with complaints of how it could be better? Or would you make the most of it? Not one person is promised tomorrow. Each minute is a gift from God. Cherish those gifts and enjoy them. Nobody like to see someone get a gift that they throw to the side and then complain about it…

Be happy you are reading this post- because you are obviously alive! That is worth celebrating, no matter what your problems may be.

Look at it this way- Having something to complain about is a blessing…… it definitely beats the alternative!IMG_4136