The Intent of Kindness

This is something that has been on my mind recently as I find myself having a rough recovery this week and still not able to get back to that feeling good place of the process. I have to accept that, and I can’t force it. I have to learn that resting isn’t always this R&R that I picture by taking advantage of the time to get stuff done. Even in the hospital I found it weird when all the nurses found it strange that nurses were surprised I was doing work. Now it literally doing nothing at times, just to let the time pass. Not my strong suit, but I am learning.

So, in my time resting, there were periods of which I could think about writing, and this one came up a lot. The intent of kindness and how much that could do for you and the world overall.

Now, it’s a little different for me, but I felt it was a good comparison still. I don’t really go out these days, so I haven’t had any negative situations, but I know they are all around.

By asking each of you to focus on the intent of kindness, I’m asking you to think through what you say or have said. Whether it’s to your loved ones, people at work, or complete strangers. The idea being that we never know what other people are going through or how life has developed them, but we do have control over our actions and reactions.

I mentioned above that it’s different for me. Well it’s pretty clear everyone I’m around these days knows exactly what I am going through and their actions show it accordingly. Now, it is an odd feeling when I go out in public. While I’ve never been one to look for arguments or fights, it’s a bit strange to walk around thinking that no one knows what’s going on with me. My answer is always to become more empathetic myself, so I am prepared for any interaction.

What does that mean? To truly have the intent of kindness? I’m going to breeze past the easy times of when you are happy, loved ones all ready, and kindness just comes. When you need to check your true intention is your responses to being challenged. Let’s go with work first, have you ever be in a position of thinking three things, as a response? One probably the dream of venting, never the best. The second though is the dangerous one. The one you take time on, feel you got on of your important point across, but likely crossed the line by feeling and not writing. What you wrote could be just fine and not looked at as aggressive, no it’s the other, much more dangerous side of passive-aggressive. You think you snuck you point in a answer of the question. Now, you should always voice your thoughts/concerns, but the emotion must stay out of it. Then the third is that re-write where you take out the passive-aggressiveness, no hidden digs, and only address the subject at hand and not the people. Choose kindness and forget the rest.

Our relationships are even more important. Disagreements don’t have to become arguments, we make them that way by losing our kindness and instead focusing on the points we want to make over someone else. I’ve thought about this enough in the past and have to laugh at how stupid I have been at times. In times of disagreements now with K (not much recently, so I’ll refer to “normal” time more), when I stop to listen, I inevitably still get to the second stage first, the one where I want to make my point the most, prove that “I’m right”, or whatever the motivation is at the time. Unlike our early years of marriage, I almost always catch those, because they had no intent of kindness and love, and how could I put proving my point above that. So now I catch it, shake my head a bit, and answer in a way in which I share my feelings, but not trying to “win” with the ill intent of making the other person feel bad.

Work, loved ones, or general public, I wish more would take this intention of kindness as the focus in their interactions with people. Extra gestures and things are amazing, but not needed in my opinion. The first step is finding kindness yourself. Someone cuts you off in the crowded parking lot? Maybe they are picking stuff up for a sick loved one at home and rushed without even seeing you. It wasn’t their intent to hurt you, so why react that way.

For those looking from the negative, maybe he absolutely cut you off on purpose. His intent doesn’t have to be yours. Move on. In a relationship that doesn’t work, then don’t make it worse, move on with the intent of kindness to both of you.

You see, your intent for kindness will be there for you and then help others along the way. Giving kindness makes you shine. Some people have a long way to go in that way, but you getting lost in negativity with those people doesn’t help you at all! You may feel better for a bit, but that negativity will grow and bring more instances like that in which you feel a need to react, because you did before. It’s a vicious circle that only leaves you negative and not knowing exactly why.

This holiday season I suggest you give yourself the intention of kindness and see just how you feel after a month.

Thanks all and thank you as always TEAMjeff

Update – Round 4 of treatment

Well, I think the saying really goes about years, but in my case the days go slow and weeks really seem to fly by. I figured I was late once again to get a post up.

I’m thinking this blog might sound negative or I guess maybe just that in sharing I feel like I’m complaining or wanting sympathy. When in reality this last week hasn’t been bad, it’s been part of the process I need to take.

Jumping back, I have to say Thanksgiving week was pretty amazing. Trenton was home and brought his girlfriend, Paige, home as well. Yes, for those wondering, we did play it on the safer side, but still opened up our home. Given both are athletes and tested weekly, it was the travel we worried about most. But in the end, what an incredible few days of hanging out, and it made my heart smile to hear them laughing together.

Monday and Tuesday I more or less rested after a big week of 7 days over 5000 steps, a couple up near 10,000 (these are big for me these days). Then came Wednesday.

The day itself isn’t really an issue and this time I also had my sister in town. So treatment day ✅. Thursday isn’t much different, except it’s really annoying to be hooked up to the pump and trying to sleep. So really most of the time since my last post was good things, but then Friday came.

With Friday starts the impact. The cumulative effect of the chemo starting to take an toll on me. The fatigue, mixed with this general body ache (like a fever, without the fever), are incredibly annoying and what makes the days and nights go by so slowly. Then add the general nausea and it’s like torture by annoyance. Not bad enough to really be bad, but bad enough to impact everything.

Talk about a time for internal strength. Now I need to do it for things that are bothering me, but not bad enough to warrant big reactions from me. It’s a special form a water torture sometimes, but they aren’t getting a word of weakness from me. 😏

This is turning into a full week these days as well. Monday and Tuesday still a bit rough for sure, but at least moving in the right direction.

And now it’s Wednesday, which should be the start of my “good week”, but seemly a slightly slow start this week. Maybe having to do with some stress at work, furloughs, decreases in pay, and just a change to what we were able to do for the swimmers. Same as any other obstacle, we took it in stride and made new plans, but the tightness in my neck and back over the past few days tells me while I’m not dwelling my thoughts on the stress, it’s impacting me nonetheless.

And now we are back to today. Oh, another little stress piece was my scan, but for now I have a scan next Thursday, Dec 17th and we’ll see how that goes. (Oh goodie, another week of scanxiety now. That may have also added to stress. 🤷🏼‍♂️) So much to be optimistic about with the scan, but yet so much to be determined by it.

So, don’t get me wrong, this has not been my favorite week at all, but the post really wasn’t about being negative, as I don’t feel that way. I believe! I know I’ll get through this regardless of the journey I must take. I am strong! I know I can take anything thrown at me… bring it! I am Ready! Hope and grit not rattled by this one bit, not for a second. And I will win!

Sometimes it has to rain, so we can see growth in the future. I’m ready for any storm, and will be grateful when I am on the other side.

Thank you TEAMjeff

Giving thanks…

Just a note on this Thanksgiving Day to share my gratitude for TEAMjeff and every person, prayer, and positive thought that is a part of it.

While this year has been rough for all, I hope that each of you can take a moment to reflect on the things you are grateful for in your lives. Those things that truly mean the most to you in life, and take a moment to appreciate and be grateful for being you.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Being strong…

The adjective strong has been on my mind quite a bit recently. It’s actually quite a diverse word by meaning, although rarely difficult to understand the context. It’s also been in my mantra that started nearly 6 years ago now, but I’m still working to understand exactly what it means to be strong, especially as you go through something like a cancer journey.

I think most of us probably go first to the physical strength. I may have had that at points in my life, but I definitely don’t have it now. In no particular order now, sometimes strength will be defined by one’s resilience or grit. The ability to fight through whatever it is that lies in front of you. Definitely a strength, without a doubt, but what about when strengths tear you down when used incorrectly? My drive to push through tough times is exactly what left me with no physical strength at all and in the hospital for 2 weeks straight. Adding on, maybe it’s the mental strength to deal with life. Or the intensity in which we live our lives. Defining strength is both easy and difficult at the same time.

I’m going to keep this a little shorter today, but wanted to share what I believe to be the greatest strength we need. It’s ironic actually that strong 💪🏼 will always have a sense of force or power defined in it to me, but the greatest strength I have had to find is the strength to ask for help or the strength to do nothing. Actually it’s more like the strength I am still learning to develop. When we are at our weakest points, we don’t show strength always by “pushing through” but instead sometimes by understanding that what may be the hardest to do is what you need, and that’s just to take care of yourself.

We must learn when to push and when to rest. We need to understand that sometimes the strongest you will ever be is when you feel the weakest you have ever been. It’s the times that you can’t (or more accurately shouldn’t) do anything, that you show your true strength.

I hope that few of you ever find yourself in positions like that, but even more I hope that you know that it’s not always the action that makes you strong, it’s the decision. It’s your decision to never give up in the toughest of times that mean the most, even if the “actions” you must take to change things may have to wait. Or in my case, maybe the best “action” I can take at times is inaction.

Growing up in the sporting world, strength has always been defined as that pure physical strength or the mental strength to push through pain and handle stress. At least in my mind. And as a coach now, I get to see that side of things all the time. The Dors are showing off a tremendous amount of strength as a TEAM as I write this actually. But while I may not have swum at quite the same level, I’d have to tell you that is the easy strength.

True strength to me is never giving up on yourself. It’s not about an individual accomplishment or fight that needs to be won, but rather about the individual committed to living their life and finding what happiness means to them. It’s accepting the results in front of you (doesn’t matter what they are) and finding a way to your happiness. It’s remembering that the strongest you will ever truly be, is when you feel your absolute weakest.

Wherever you are in life, take the steps you need to take in order to find the happiness (yes, even in middle of heartache) you deserve in life. Thanks for reading. 🙏🏼😊 #TEAMjeff

Overall a good day for treatment #3

Today was treatment #3 and all in all a good day. It turned out after such a busy weekend that I needed Monday off the pool deck and then Tuesday is actually out off day, but luckily was able to get some good work done at home instead and clear a bit of my todo list.

Treatment today started early, but then got off to a bit of a slow start, possible with a question of going, although it never really got to me as a question. My first step every time I go in is they need to run a blood text to see if my body is ready to handle treatment. One of the tests showed all looking great, but the other showed my white blood cells were low. The Doctor still thought I was good to go, although it looks like I may have to add some shots into my regimen for the white blood cells, but then again, just add it to the list of doing what it takes to kick some butt!

With a little bit of a slow start on even getting the port to flow well and then evaluating the blood results, the treatment then went nice and smooth from there. As I have said, I truly feel better than I have in a long time, really even good, except for the impact of treatments. So then in a very nice TEAMjeff effort my Doctor just called tonight because he wanted to share the positive news of my blood markers coming WAY down over the last 4 weeks. These aren’t definitive of what is going on, but they do seem to show some very positive things going on right now. I won’t bother you with the exact markers, but one went from over 1538 to now being 105, and the other going from 29.9 to 6.7. I’ll take those results any day. 😎

Then I was also able to talk to the Doctor and get an idea in timeline going forward. It looks like I’ll have treatment #4 in two weeks, my next scan in 3 weeks, and then we’ll start talking to surgeons at that point and possibly a PET scan to get a full picture before they possibly go in by January. A break from treatment for recovery, but then going another 2 months or so of treatment to be sure we get everything. If all goes well, I’m only getting stronger from there. 💪🏼🤙🏼

Now it’s time to rest up and let my body do it’s thing. Thank you all for your continued support, you keep me strong!

The update that got away…

After way too long, I’m finally sitting down to post an update. It’s been a long week and the updates just got pushed off until tomorrow, hence the one that got away, but I’m also expected my journaling to get carried away as well. With that in mind, I’ll start with a quick, general update for those looking for that. I am feeling better and better as I go. Now, the side effects of the treatments are a little bit of a different story, but again, really not too bad. So I continue to march on, have my down days, but really just looking to get into some sort of schedule if that proves possible. Your main takeaway though is that even taking all things into consideration, I have days that I feel normal, which is to say pretty good actually, and I have to take that as a good sign.

So, for those continuing on with me 😉, I’m sorry if anyone was concerned on my lack of posts. It wasn’t anything really bad by any means, just more me fighting against myself in this whole process of rest and taking care of yourself first, combined with some fatigue from the treatments themselves. I think in the end I really wanted to get into some sort of schedule. I knew I would need some rest after treatment, figured maybe a few days, then I could start back on deck and have a solid week and a half before the next treatment. Well, as good of plans as I thought they might have been, they didn’t quite pan out that way.

I found myself slowly going down this path that I did not want to go down. It started with me taking my planned rest, okay, I thought I would be ready. Then came the first decision that I wasn’t and needed to rest more. Tough, but I have learned at least enough to get through the first step in this process without much impact on me. But then came the next workout and the next decision I needed rest. Okay, I’m just not that easy on myself and the thoughts start to creep in. “Just push through it, you’ll be fine.” “It’s not like you “can’t” do it, it’s just probably not the best idea to go in.” It’s those type of thoughts that creep in first. But I made the right decision and rested. To make this a little shorter, I always made the decision to rest or leave if I was wrong on my decision, that wasn’t an issue. My issues just come from my internal battles. So then it was workout after workout that while at least I am back to a place I can consistently write them, I wanted to see them, but I was just too worn down.

After a while you then start to question yourself too. “Are you really that worn out or are you just being lazy now?” “Seems like this laying around doing nothing could be something you are getting a little too comfortable with now.” It’s ingrained in me to push through, to be tough, to fight. I mean, it’s part of the reason I can stand here today and why I have every expectation to be standing here 10 years from now and beyond. It’s a resilience and grit that won’t allow for anything else, except I do need those other things at times. I do need to rest and recover. I do need to fail, stumble from my own expectations even if no one else’s, in order to continue moving forward, but boy does it make for a very long week.

But after a while I did start to feel better. Able to get back on deck at workout, and even got to be at my first swim meet in over 8 months this weekend. It’s amazing how things can come around at such needed times, and this was one of those. The meet wasn’t about results though. It was just fun to be back on deck at a competition. It was fun to see where at least this small group of swimmers were in racing and get excited about what we can do next to make them better. The ability to slow down a bit and have a chat with the small group about swimming, goals, etc. Then to get to see my fellow coaches and friends, it was a good timing indeed.

I am just so blessed when it all comes down to it though. The support I receive I still can’t believe. My college roommate (we’re talking Sr year roommates, when you know two things, first they both wanted to save money, but you also know each other pretty well and respect each other a lot), his wife (actually I believe more his wife’s business, check it out on Instagram: thesucculentchicks ) and the Irvine Novaquatics organized an amazing fundraiser for TEAMjeff. Thank you all so much.

Then just some of the messages that I’ve received recently have just meant so much. Again along the lines of timing is everything, but messages reminding me to rest, to take care of myself, to give myself a break, things I know I should know but helps so much to hear others say it as well. Thank you all and thank you for those wearing the TEAMjeff bracelets.

And finally, today, on the day the Condors start their Championship run, they posted a very cool video on social media supporting TEAMjeff and my mantra. Talk about the waterworks now. I do seem to be more emotional during treatments, but what a cool thing to see. It’s such this bittersweet ride for me if I am completely honest. I’m so bummed to have missed this opportunity to be there with them and be a part of everything going on, but then it’s so great to see all of their smiling faces, see them crushing races, and being so happy for all of them. Then to get this amazing support when then have business to take care of is just so cool. They are a special group of people. Go Dors!

I’ll let you in on one more of my bad mental habits and sometimes trips me up. It’s the idea that I still can’t believe the support I receive along the way. Take for instance the haircut I mentioned a while back. Well turns out he wouldn’t accept payment because he wanted to be a part of supporting TEAMjeff. All of this just pushes me over the emotional edge (in a very good way), but then also makes me feel almost this pressure. This idea that I have all of this support behind me, of course I better get this done. I know that’s crazy and not what the support is there for at all, but just one of those things I get to work on improving for myself.

Hopefully you can tell now that I am feeling pretty good again. Even after a full Friday and a couple sessions Saturday at the US Open and then following that up with a race day early today, I am feeling really good. In fast feeling reinvigorated a bit after seeing some racing again live and in person. Just in time to get ready for treatment again this coming Wednesday, and I get to start this roller coaster all over again. This time I am ready though. I’m ready to take what comes and do what I can, when I can.

Thank you all for your support, you really do mean so much in this long journey.

Treatment #2

Today was my second treatment and all had gone great so far. Still a couple days of an at home pump to go and very likely some good rest, but feeling really good otherwise.

Nothing major to report, as we are in our “work” phase, but always great to see my Doctor and have him say he doesn’t see any reason no to be optimistic. Now, to understand, he’s not normally pessimistic at all, but in my experience both times now, he is a bit tentative until he feels good about the direction. Today’s meeting, for instance, much more upbeat that the first ones. I’m stronger, got weight back on, and really feeling pretty good all things consider. Things are looking up my friends. 😊

Even got the room with a view today! 😎 A little hazy for sure, but really the beauty is what you find sometimes. So it was a nice place to be and see the beauty in life.

Thanks all for your incredible support. I am so very blessed on so many levels and can only hope to express my gratitude effectively.


Rest allows for bounce backs

Well, that was quite a weekend. Okay, it’s not going to sound like anything big for most of you, but for me it was quite a weekend.

Saturday morning I made my second trip back to the pool deck, again just to catch about an hour of each of the groups workouts, and have an opportunity to check in with the coaches a bit as well. Tried out my new voice amplifier a bit as well, in hopes of eve being able to lead a workout again soon, and that worked great. So a couple hours on deck, similar to Wednesday, but really felt pretty good the rest of the day as well. It’s actually amazing what an impact (good or bad) your shoes make just standing on a concrete deck for a couple hours.

After feeling as strong as I did, and with the bonus of an extra hour sleep, I was hoping to not only make the early morning Sunday workout, but also lead it. So Saturday turned in to just basically resting and taking care of myself, but it payed off.

Led my first workout in a while today, and it was a blast. We mixed things up a bit and played some games during our sets, but what great energy it brings to be on deck leading the group again. Then it was back home to rest up some more, and we had some friends coming over, something else that hasn’t happened in a very long time.

Such a great visit with Joe and Amy, thank you both for making the trip up. A nice little socially distanced, backyard hang out, so much fun. And I had to share some pics. The first one is such a cool idea, his team spelled out hope in the water and put some real work into it, and my favorite part is my buddy jumping in on the E with a bucket, just to find a way to make it work. Solutions over excuses, I love it.

One of the coolest, most original HOPE signs… so cool
And as a sign of the times, we have the masked version…
And the hold your breath version…

The just finished the day alternating between resting and looking over National Group plans for the next couple months. As I wrap up the weekend with this blog, I can’t help but think how much better I feel, how quickly things can swing, and how important it is to stay positive and keep your hope always, so that they can swing quickly.

Thank you all for being on this journey with me. I don’t just share the ups, so you’ll experience some of the “downs” as well, but what I hope most is that you can take something to help you in some way.

Now we head into treatment week. Wednesday’s are the day for both, so I am expecting a wiped out end of the week, but we’ll just do some coaching on Monday, rest up on Tuesday, and see what treatment has in store of me this week. Thanks again TEAMjeff, I hope you all had a very Happy Halloween and a great weekend.

Down days are the worst….

Today is just one of those days. Not where things are going wrong or that there’s anything in particular that is wrong, but just one of those down days. Of course my journey may very well have those come up a little more often than under normal circumstances, but it’s just the same reminder that you may need to slow down and take care of yourself a bit more in the process.

Today is just one of those days where things are catching up a bit. It’s been a great week of seeing Trenton and then being able to get back on deck, at least a little bit, but it seems to have come crashing down today. Again, nothing “wrong” per se, just so tired and unable to really focus on much.

And that’s when the mind (my mind at least), starts messing with you. Those little worries (or maybe big sometimes), those missed opportunities, the feelings of not doing enough, or just all the things you’d love to get done. The mind doesn’t seem to want to focus, so instead jumps from thing to thing, and when I am worn out like today, it tends to sway towards the negative side of things. So, then I decide that it’s not going to happen today for workout because I know I need to rest and continue recovery, but of course, even that is a decision that ways on my mind at these times.

This blog is one of those more therapy blogs for me than anything else, but I do believe it’s okay to go through the down days. I personally need to learn how to manage them a bit better, but the downs are just as much a part of life as the ups.To beat ourselves up for down days is treating ourselves with no respect at all. We need to understand that ups and downs will always come, and that you may not always understand exactly why you feel down at times. That’s OK. What can’t be okay is allowing yourself to dwell in that negative space, like that is your life. Live your life with hope and optimism, even when all you feel is the opposite. You are being tested for that better tomorrow, and you are strong enough to get through.

So, I rest up today. I do what I can to calm my mind, I sleep, I hydrate, and I give myself a break for not being able to do quite everything I want to get done. Then I get up tomorrow ready for a new day!

TEAMjeff, or course, continues to get me through and give me strength, but sometimes the timing just seems too perfect. As I go through my “down day” here, I get a video message from through social media from what looks like the entire DC Tridents of the ISL. Thank you so much for your support and thinking of me over there. I am so very bummed that I couldn’t be there and is actually one of those “negative” thoughts of missed opportunities, etc., but it means so much to have that support from other teams as well.

Thank you all for your support along the way. While today may have been a day of needed rest, we are making great progress forward, getting stronger and stronger, and ready to BEAT CANCER!

Oct 29th Update

Just a quick update these days. It was a great weekend to have our family of 3 all together, as Trenton came down to visit. It’s not like we do anything but hang out, but what a great feeling it is just to have him around.

Otherwise I am feeling better and better each day. Dare I even say getting back to some semblance of normal. The surgeries and procedures are healing up nicely and I’m feeling stronger and stronger through each day.

Then today marked my first day back on the pool deck! Always great to be on deck and see the smiling faces of our swimmers in the water and our coaches leading them.