We all know Betsy Ross may have made the first American flag, and that the current flag represents the 13 original colonies in its blue and white stripes with 50 stars symbolizing the states. Proudly display the American flag on#flagday June 14th.
So Where Is That Delete Button?
But…how many of you know that the U.S. Flag Day is also Julie Petrowski’s birthday? I met Julie the year we moved back to Minnesota. I was in 6th grade and honestly, I don’t know if she was in my grade, what she looked like, or anything much. We were neighbors and friends; my first ever snowmobile ride was with Julie and her Dad, she was in my Girl Scout troop. That’s the full sum of what I remember about Julie Petrowski, in part because being a military family we again transferred after a 9 month stint in the Midwest.
Julie is a brief snapshot of my past and non-essential information. So, tell me why can’t I purge Julie from my database of useless information? No offense, Julie, but you probably don’t even remember me at all! I don’t have #bigdata space in my brain and there seems to be a lot of stuff that could go.
The Mystery of History
Sure, we remember our global history, our medical history, our career history, our family history. I try not to dwell on the cancer “stuff”, but often need to retrieve it for medical professionals. Again, this is a great time to refer to my medical notebook. I have the ability to put some of the important stuff in the back of my mind. It seems like a great storage closet until I need it again and then, whoa, where is that?
Thoughts can be wonderful, thoughts can be detrimental. Like I don’t need to ponder my melanoma history, that exact moment that the sun niched out a few facial cells to wait, in hiding. Consideration of whether this happened as a child, a teen, or an adult is irrelevant. More importantly, what am I doing to be present, right now? Scurry the counter-productive thoughts away!
The Evils of Retrieval
Working with family literacy initiatives for most of my adult life, I’ve got a fascination with how brains work, what we keep and why. How amazing is it that young children understand so much vocabulary long before they are developmentally ready to speak? Or that teens have all these brain connections made in their short lives, of which many will be un-wired because they are not needed or used. And Alzheimer’s -what happens to people with that tragic, memory depriving disease?
Exercise that brain! Stimulate your mind. Work if you are able. Play scrabble or cribbage, listen to music and sing along, discuss current events and issues that matter to you, write a note to an old friend or fellow cancer patient. Meditation brings mindfulness! Between those moments of cancer-related fatigue, pain, treatment, or whatever cancer brings your way, be open to mind exercise and positive thoughts. Cancer tips (life tips) are quite simple cues to jog your memory. Leave yourself notes, set the oven timer, put a reminder in your phone -do what you need to for information retrieval and be patient with yourself. Give yourself the gift of inspiration…you can only go up from there!
Julie Petroski seems to be with me for life, and like my cancer thoughts, I incorporate her into life and move forward. I’d still love to better understand how to do a bit of brain housekeeping, clean out the cobwebs and useless information. Maybe then I might remember where I left my eyeglasses or that bit of important information that is quietly, tiptoeing though my head, but not forthcoming…until the middle of the night!
Friendly reminder – put out your American flag on June 14th! #melanoma #melanomatheskinwerein #oldglory #deletebutton #Thursdaythoughts #mindfulness
Happy Flag Day, America! And please wish Julie a Happy Birthday if you see her!
We can-cer vive!