Blog It Forward

Yesterday was the first day of Blog It Forward and it was a rousing success in my humble little Sicilian opinion. To recap, there are ten groups of 30 bloggers who will all answer the question, "What inspires me?" and you can follow the mashup schedule each weekday through March 24th.  On to the burning question! What inspires Jess?

Me with my beautiful boys, Maui 2007

I have thought long and hard about my answer since I saw this idea unfold on Twitter two weeks ago. My first and foremost answer is actually not pretty or cheerful at all but it is damn inspiring. It is the cancer community, of which I am a full-fledged, card-carrying member. I was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma when I was 29 years old on May 11, 2000. (Yes, a big fat ten-year anniversary is right around the corner for me).

A new mama, in love with her baby, and on chemo

I have since fought the lymphoma four times and am currently in a remission that I learned last year had happened spontaneously. When you are in remission from cancer, you have the luxury of worrying about the small stuff again like not being able to take a decent picture or spiders. I am not in the heat of battle like my old, dear friend Shirls in Australia who has recently relapsed after seven years of cancer-free life. Shirls has taught me more about how to live life than I could ever put in one post, trust me.

I am not struggling to watch my child fight the beast like my friends Meri, Tracy & Chris and Gordy have been for more than a year (or almost two). I can simply be the mama who kisses her little boy while he is fascinated with himself in the Photobooth on my laptop, or the mama who worries daily when he doesn't eat his lunch because he's too excited to get to recess. My friends (young and old) who do continue to fight inspire me something fierce and something deep to be grateful, to believe in fate and to find the beauty in the everyday around me.

It was a hard decision for me to share this part of what inspires me in my life because it is not easy to talk about and I don't really focus on this in my blog content anymore. But being a young cancer survivor is a core part of my identity and it is the window through which I view the world.

Which brings me to the second thing which is inspires me: umm...the world! Like my profound love of nature, guitars and folk songs, all of which I inherited from my dad. Oh, and the whole camera thing? I got that from him too.

He was a Nikon man. I am known as CanonGirl.

I am constantly inspired by people who have quit their day jobs, people who are playful and creative, people who do unexpected things, people who teach their kids how to be little guerilla artists, people who tell us to always trust magic, people who give me 100 ideas even though I've only tried a few. There's more, so much more like I haven't even mentioned how I like to get lost in listings of places to stay in Italy or how I love typography so much I can't even speak about it publicly very often.

But it's late now, I started this post yesterday and now it's actually February 11th and I can officially post it. Except for one last thing that inspires me and that is feisty ladies, especially feisty old ladies like my grandma and Oma because they make me feel like I can do anything if only I believe in myself enough.

I miss my feisty old ladies a lot.

If you made it all the way to the end of this novel post, you deserve a reward of some kind so please leave a comment and I will send you something silly or sweet in the mail to say thank you. Victoria gave me the most lovely introduction in her  post yesterday, so please be sure to visit Sarai at her blog Sweet Sassafras tomorrow, February 12th to see what inspires her. Wouldn't you know it, Sarai lives in my beloved Portland! I'm jealous!