When I had cancer and was going through treatment, I saw life so clearly. The rat race slowed right down and problems that once seemed serious weren’t anymore. I was forced to take things slower and was determined to keep that vibe for the rest of my life. I had been changed!
Or had I?
As I began to feel better physically, I started to push myself. More work. More play. More errands. More visits. The hectic pace returned and I was caught up in the cyclone I promised to avoid. My focus shifted from the universal truth that we aren’t in control of anything and reverted back to worrying about the minutia of life – stuck on the how, the why, the what could I or should I do differently?
And I hate it.
I promised myself that I wouldn’t lose sight of what’s important, but maybe it was unrealistic to think I would never need a reminder.
Spring is a season of rebirth and renewal. It feels like the perfect time to refocus and reconnect with the slower pace I once embraced. To look inward and take time for self care, whether that be reading a book, catching up on my Netflix list or connecting with friends.
I’ve always been grateful for the simplest things, but after my cancer stuff I started a note on my phone called Things I Love . I want to share it now as I reminder to myself to stop and appreciate life. We need to slow the hell down and soak it all in.
Things I Love
- Silent moments outside in the morning when there aren’t a ton of people around. So peaceful. I love the birds.
- Picking out fresh lemons at the grocery store. They’re just so pretty.
- Waking up early and getting a ton of stuff done, even at a lazy pace.
- Having people wish you and your mom a happy Mother’s Day and cherishing the fact that you are able to spend it with her.
- The crisp snap of a Starbucks sleeve. Oh and the pretty drizzle of caramel on my macchiato.
- Perusing through beautiful papyrus cards. Finding one you didn’t intend to buy, but it makes you think of someone you love so you buy it anyway and mail it to them.
- Reading. There’s nothing like it in the world.
- Fresh bread – crispy on the outside, soft on the inside.
- How beautiful baked goods look when they’re set out in the morning. Seriously – have you noticed how pretty blueberry muffins are?!
- Texts from loved ones.
- Realizing that some moments and experiences are once in a lifetime. Especially when you realize that as the moment is happening.
- The pretty rainbow of yoga mats in class.
- My polka dot yoga mat.
- My little red Fiat – Luna.
- The beautiful tea cups I always drink from at Cynthia and Rusty’s. And their champagne flutes. And their handwritten card on my place setting.
- The relief and calm you feel when you take a full, conscious breath.
Clean sheets (obviously!).
- Freshly cleaned eye glasses. (I can just hear mom saying/singing, “I can see clearly now!… The rain is gone.”)
- A new lipstick.
- When you get into bed and a fave tv show or movie is on.
- Open windows and billowing drapes.
- Untouched freshly fallen snow.
- The incredible South African night sky.
- The moon and the stars. (They put things into perspective.)
- New music.
- Old music.
- The way a clean sink sparkles.
- My perfume bottles.
- The picture of my grandmother that hangs in my room.
- The little bear on my bed that belonged to Amber.
- The smell of garlic.
- New opaque tights.
- The pure decadence of having a Kobo Glo. (You can literally read anytime, anywhere!)
- Clipping my bangs back. Heaven.
- That smell when it’s about to rain.
The smell of fresh cut grass.
- The crunch of hazelnuts covered in milk chocolate.
- Counting down to a vacation.
- Being first on the hold list for a new library book.
- Not setting my alarm.
- The smell of a new book.
- Okay – everything about books. I’ll stop.
- Everything about mom. That’s another list entirely. (Highlights include: the smell of her perfume, hearing her sing/hum to herself, her lipstick, her laugh, her smile, her support, when she calls me “daughter,” when I sleep in too long for her liking and she texts me – “I’m bored, wake up.”)
- Everything about Disney. Seriously – everything.
- The smell of the airport.
- The perfect cut of prosciutto.
- Fresh hand-pulled mozarella cheese.
- Strawberry rhubarb pie bought from a store. Coming home and finding it still warm. (True story.) Amazing!
- Sunday family dinners.
- My nonnie’s sauce. And pasta. And meatballs.
- Lists. I make lists for everything. And I love it.
- The beach and the sound of the ocean. Falling asleep to the sound of waves crashing outside your window is pure decadence.
- The smell of Hawaiian Tropic sunscreen.
- A roaring fire, cozy socks and cup of tea. And a good book.
- Those moments when you communicate with your friends solely through facial expressions.
- Learning something new about yourself.
- Experiencing a different culture. As many as possible.
- Freshly manicured nails. Ahhhh topcoat.
- My Sid Dickens tile collection.
- My skirts.
- All things Christmas. Everything peppermint. Chestnut praline lattes in red Starbucks cups. Gingerbread. Feasts. Visits and traditions with friends and family. Cards. Christmas songs and movies. Christmas morning. Picking out our ornament. Selecting my wrapping theme and cards – especially sparkly bows. Charlie Brown. When you turn on a Christmas radio station and it’s the beginning of one of your favourite songs. I could go on and on…
- The sound of a dogs paws on tile floors. I miss that.
Laughing until it hurts.
- Smelling aunt Mary’s perfume when I hug her.
- Corona with lime. With chips and salsa is a bonus.
- 70% chocolate. (This is a new addition. I’m pretty proud of it.)
- Trying and loving a new tea.
- Going to the bakery in downtown Oakville to get a chocolate chunk cookie and walking down the street eating it and looking at how beautiful downtown Oakville is.
- I get a crazy amount of joy scrolling through my Instagram homepage and seeing pictures of books. And Disney.
- Connecting with people through insightful conversations. (Had a lot of deep convos today.)
- Finding that perfect balance of being kind and being honest.
- When someone gets a candid picture of you and it actually turns out well.
- Sending a “just because” gift.
Receiving a “just because” gift.
- Holding Jovana’s newborn baby and singing happy birthday to him (moms idea).
- When my sister sends through an itinerary for our weekend together. (Talking about Lisa, obviously.)
- The satisfaction I get from actively listening to people when we chat, which leads me to…
- Living in the moment.
- Tasting new flavours.
- Persian tea in those beautiful cups.
- Just because flowers from mom.
- Washing cold hands under warm water.
- Easter eggs (there are so many beautiful types!)
- Gum balls at bulk barn (mom called me over to see them and she’s right – they’re so pretty).
- Burning a log in the fireplace during the day AND at night. Decadent.
- Blanket scarves.
- The cozy blankets Chapters sells at Christmas. I buy one every year.
- The sound of birds outside when I’m cozy in bed. They wake up so early! I love listening to them as I walk into work, too.
- Fresh jam. Yuuuuum.
- The cups and plates at Anthropolpgie. Oh and their aprons! Adorable.
- Cherries floating in a white bowl. Seriously try it. So pretty!
- Lobster Fest Father’s Day traditions with mom!
Cassandra Umbriaco is a guest blogger for Rethink Breast Cancer. Since being diagnosed with stage two breast cancer at 28 years old, she combines her love of writing with a passion to help women affected by cancer. Check out her blog at cancerunder30.wordpress.com
Cassandra loves travelling as much as she can, dresses that twirl, anything Disney and her little red Fiat – Luna.