I’ve got this

Mar 28

I looked in the mirror today and realized I had — once again — rubbed off half my eyebrow.  Today it was my right eyebrow; yesterday I’d done the same thing to the outside half of my left eyebrow.  Apparently I subconsciously rub (itch?) my eyebrow and rub off my eyebrow make-up at some point though the day, which leaves me with a semi-awkward expression on my face for what I can only assume is a significant portion of my day.  Oh well.  Since I’m a redhead, my facial hair color is best described as “clear”.  I’ve been painting in my eyebrows since my first trip to the real makeup counter with my mom in the ’90s.  Now that I’m also bald, my painted-in-eyebrows are the number one thing that keep me from looking like Dr. Evil.  I hesitate to type that because I think everyone who knows me and who has seen me bald is now chuckling to themselves and thinking “Yup.  Totally Dr. Evil.”  (From the movie Austin Powers, if you don’t get the reference.  Not that kind of evil.)

I actually have short, sparse “clear” hair on my head.  Brad and I buzzed it down three weeks ago because I felt like it was looking like mangey and/or like baby eagle hair.  Neither of those are good descriptors, so you can see why I opted to buzz it.  If I grew it out, I think I would look sick-er than I do bald.  It’s really, really wimpy “hair”.

Today Brad brought Maren and Greta in to visit me in the Chemo Room since it is their spring break.  Maren and Greta both love coming there; I love that the nurses have made it an environment that welcomes small children as it is not in any way designed to accommodate small children.  It is the people who welcome them.  I love my nurses.  It really means a lot to me that my family feels safe and happy in that environment.  Hallowed ground is what I call that space and I mean it.  Hallowed ground in the Chemo Room.  I saw my fist-bumping friend and we skip past a thousand conversations to a depth of “you’ve got this” that defies understanding to “normal” people.  That’s my favorite message to people-going-through-hard things.  You’ve got this.  How?  Do today well.  Then nod with confidence because it’s really hard to feel anything but confident (or silly, which works too) when nodding confidently.  Yes, this is a real life hack from yours truly.

Maren opted to stay for the several-hour treatment; she planned ahead and packed a workbook of hidden pictures and her new Easter book (the last of Anne Martin’s Family Ties series–I highly recommend to my fellow tweenage friends).  Greta’s Easter book was ordered from Amazon, as was Maren’s because I order everything possible from there because — HELLO, clickity-click to my front door in two days or less is how I roll.  I searched for “mighty girl books” and came up with Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty; a great read for little creatives like my girl.  You should see what that girl can do with a roll of magic tape and a shoe box.  I really knew I was on to a good thing when my girlfriend and I were comparing Easter basket notes and she’d gotten the same book for her kiddo (also from Amazon, of course.)  We’re thinking Build-A-Bear for Greta’s birthday; I can’t think of anything she would like more–nor can Maren or Brad, so it seems like a solid choice.  Today Maren sat cozied up in the recliner next to mine and was quite content.  We talked about her ideas for her birthday plans for next month and just enjoyed each others’ company.  We plan ahead for birthdays because I buffer energy waaaaay ahead of time for such most important things.  The girls will be nine and five, after all.

Last week I passed the four year anniversary of having cancer.  This one is an interesting one for me for a reason I wasn’t expecting.  Since Maren and Greta are four years and two weeks apart, Greta is now “the age that Maren was” when I was diagnosed.  I went to one pizza party field trip (gotta love preschool field trips!) with Maren and I was bald.  Now, I’m signed up to go to Greta’s pizza party field trip; I’ll be bald at that one too.  I have so many of the same emotions and so many new ones.  My hairy-scary-oh-this-is-big prayer back then was that I would be cancer free (better known as No Evidence of Disease–NED) by the end of Maren’s upcoming kindergarten year.  (My medical team told me early on cancer-fighting is a loooong process.)  I am still awash in the gratitude that I got those months/years (combined) of NED status.  I dare to whisper anew — in my defiant faith-as-big-as-a-mountain moment — I want to be NED at the end of Greta’s kindergarten year.  Wouldn’t that be something?  Lord it’s hard to pray those oh-this-is-big prayers because it’s like — actually holy shit prayers.  Geez, I’m like the most blasphemous Christian.  But you know what?  I kinda think Jesus actually gets a kick out of my holy you-kn0w-what-prayer, and I’m good with that because it’s that scary and this is that real.  Do you dare pray with me?  (And I mean that on so many levels.)

Let’s move on now that I’ve — sheesh — asked you to pray questionable prayers, shall we?

Keeping it real, folks, keeping it real.  I’m nothing if not real.

The girls both had “fancy” Easter dresses this year.  I say “fancy” in quotations because they were purchased from Costco, and I’m pretty sure that is cheating.  (Sidenote: I’m also quite sure that no one who has a Costco membership budgets with any success because “vat of peanut butter” and “fancy” Easter dresses do not belong on the same shopping list.)  M and G picked them out–and were so thrilled about it!  We had cardigans that still fit from last year, footless tights, and new sparkly sandals from NanaRoz.  And wouldn’t-cha know we didn’t get one family picture.  Brad even ironed his shirt AND complimented my Easter outfit.  Oh well.  We took some pictures and made some great memories.  My family rocks.  Oh, and you are never too old for an Easter basket.  Next year I think everyone should get Nerf guns, not just the littles.  I’m just sayin’.

A friend made my week when she told me about what a thrill she got out of having purple lint from Greta’s clothes to clean out from the lint-catcher in her dryer.  She’s the mother of three boys, so purple lint is quite the novelty, and I love that her my Greta’s lint made her smile.  Blessings abound when you find yourself sharing laughter over dryer lint people.

Funniest-note-from-a-blitz-clean-helper goes to our friend husband/wife team who blitzed our house last week.  On a note left for us to find on our (very clean) kitchen counter after they left, he wrote that he ransacked Brad’s underwear drawer, and — because we know this guy so well — we’re not actually sure if he’s kidding or not.  Lord help us him.

Greta has developed a vast interest in sounding out words.  Tonight she was sounding out all words that start with “z”.  Brad, Maren and I all took turns giving her words and watching her write them out.  Coming up with “z” words is more challenging than you might think!

Maren beat me in Chinese Checkers for the first time tonight.  We re-discovered the game with Grandpa and Grandma in Wisconsin at Thanksgiving, and Maren has been creeping closer in her skill level over the past several months.  Tonight: she beat me fair and square.  She was pleased with herself!  I felt her channeling my grandmother in Australia: fiercely quietly competitive, and oh-so-nonchalant about whipping you!  I myself am a natural gloater, though I do restrain myself most of the time as I try to impart sportsmanship skills to my kids.

I am doing well–certainly better than I was a month ago–in the big picture of buffering my time and energy for things-that-matter-most.  Brad’s schedule accommodation and the village of helpers and the fun trips to the mailbox are making that happen for me.  I really appreciate that my village as a whole has really validated that it’s okay for me to ask for help, receive help, and be strategic with my energy.  It is hard — still.  Will it always be so?  I don’t know, but I do know that each time an item is checked of my list it feels like a breath of fresh air.  And yet I still have to steel myself in the vulnerability of the “asking” for the next round.  I am wrought with humility and gratitude in this season; I count myself blessed.

Brad and I both feel so loved and struggle to express it.  In a season where I’m writing hardly an email or a thank you note, know that we are aching with gratitude.  You know that right?

The title of my blog does not come with whimsy and confidence.  Rather, it comes from brokenness and choice.  I choose to accept my circumstances as they are today, and I. Will. Thrive. in them: I’ve go this.  For me, a big part of the thriving is the ask-receive-repeat cycle for help which seems counter-intuitive, but it is the game-changer for me.  I ask for help, I seek joy, I search gratitude, I create moments, I love.

Right?  I love.


  1. Lisa Smith /

    Love you Jen. I admire the shit out of you too.

  2. Jennifer /

    Prayers sent – for healing, for health, for NED. Keep thriving Jen. You’ve got this. From a Canadian-stranger-Jen 🙂

  3. Lori6NV /

    We know that. 🙂 Praying as always. I am really digging the concept of holy sh*t prayers.

  4. Joining you in those holy prayers, because if we aren’t honest then what are we even praying for?

    I’ve got zebra, zoo, and zoology — after that, I’m zapped.

  5. Kelly /

    Oh man, you do crack me up!!! I say “anything goes”! Sending your any kind of prayer you need!

  6. Diana Gibson /

    I love…that you stay so positive (maybe just on the blog but I don’t think so!), that you share so freely, that you are teaching us all faith, thankfulness, appreciation of the good and bad, humbleness, joy of all things. You are an zinspiration (with or without eyebrows and eagle fuzz)!

  7. Lisa M R /

    I needed this today as I struggle to parent a challenging child well yesterday and am heading into a brand new day. How can I not do today well when you are doing so much more well. Covering both of us, our families with Holy Shit Peayers! Bring on NED!!!!

  8. Julie /

    Much love to you & the girls (AND of course Brad). Fond memories of the pizza field trip??

  9. KellyE /

    Keeping the big real prayers coming!

  10. Love you Jen. Christ in you blesses me!! Keep walkin sister.

  11. Newbyfriend /

    Four years ! Wow, so much has happened in our lives in these past four years. I can say that I have appreciated everything and everyone more deeply than before cancer came into my life. I take nothing for granted!( esp the 6 soon to be 7 new grand babies) I look at all the cool things you have done and all the lives you have inspired. You have certainly been living your motto of Do Today Well. I will continue to pray for you and trust that God will continue to keep you health so that you can be a sparkling light to this world!

    • Christy /

      Jen, your blog posts are so raw and yet so incredibly beautiful. They are like love notes from God reminding each of us to savor each breathe of this life of ours and modeling what it looks like to lean into HIS plan even when we’re not sure where it’s taking us. Your blog is holy, sacred space.

      In addition to sending prayers up to God on your behalf, I have a special angel in heaven who also has your back. If my sister, Lori was still with us, you two would have been good friends, no doubt. Your honesty, humor, and magical spirit reminds me so much of hers – a double blessing.

      You’ve got this, my friend!!

  12. I am happily praying holy-shit prayers. And I am continually inspired to love God and others when I read about your days. Grateful for my badass friends like you, Jen. Love!!!

  13. Marlayne /

    Jen ~
    I wish I had read your Blog @ 5:30am today ~ I didn’t do well; however, a few hours later, I turned it around & now I read your “I’ve Got This/Do Well Today” *My Prayer was a rambled one for you/your families & I know GOD is smiling 🙂
    My Mommy use to say Beauty is as Beauty does ~ Jen, You are a Beautiful Person 🙂

  14. Marsha Vonderwish /

    Keep fighting dear girl! Praying for you and your family!
    And thanks for keeping it ‘real’!

  15. Patty /

    Jen, you continue to amaze and inspire me. Your girls are so blest to have you as their chief role model. BTW I buy grandkids clothes at Costco and Sam’s many times and they are cute and a deal t boot. By the way you live you are showing them more than you realize especially what love really is. It can’t be bought with a credit card at Nordstrom. The love you and Brad share with them every day they know they are surrounded by love.

  16. I do dare.


  17. Tracy /

    Your strength and faith leave me in awe! Always in my thoughts & prayers!!

  18. You have definitely got this! I wish everyday we were closer so I could pop over and do something for you guys! I think about you all and pray a lot. I’m glad you had a beautiful Easter filled with memories!! Those Costco dresses are the best!! Much love and hugs from us up here!!! <3

  19. Sandy...Danes Mom /

    I am so happy to have met you and your beautiful family?
    I read your blog for the first time today and I am feeling so very moved and for
    some reason safe, knowing there are people like you in the world?
    Prays and thoughts to you and your family?

  20. annie /

    I am glad for your bold prayers. 🙂 Turns out God pretty much knows how we feel way down deep inside our hearts anyway. We might as well put words to it. I believe God honors our exposed, raw selves. What a relief! 🙂

  21. Mommaj /

    The other day I watched a movie named Noble. It was true story about an Irish girl that despite insurmountable circumstances Prayed out an Unbelievable prayer to be used by God. The Lord brought you into this world to do Amazing and Inspiring things… I’m praying the Big Prayer with and for you….

  22. Christin /

    I’m praying the big prayers with you, Jen.

  23. Dana Morgan /

    You are an absolute inspiration to many. I continue to pray for you and your family on a daily basis. I love your spirit and the faith that you hold strongly to. Your mom is pretty awesome as well.

  24. I have prayed those prayers before, but never assigned them such a cool name 😉 DEFINITELY praying – kind of think the name makes God smile. 🙂

  25. Cindy Mitchell /

    Jen, I went through Chemo with you starting back when I was told I had breast cancer in Oct 2013. You were so inspiring to me and the other , that you are so special to all of us… I ran into you March 7th for my 1 year check up… It was so great to see you… You look beautiful, and have a spirit of The Strongest Wildest Person I have ever seen…I had so much fun when you did the color of The Rainbows for our treatments…You but smiles on everyone’s faces… and still do…I just started reading your blogs after I ran into you, because I didn’t think I could read them… Now I am so glad I did.. You are a Survivor, a Warrior, s Leader,Teacher, Mother, Wife and an Awesome Friend and Person..and all I can say is I will pray for you and your family, and that ” YOU GOT THIS”….Take care and love to you and your family… Your are doing a great job at your family, life, and your writing…