So I mentioned in my last update that I needed to find some non-cancer treatment stuff to focus on for the next 2-3 months. Girls just started back at school today so there is suddenly more time to think about this stuff. I think this will be good practice for a future of living in 3 month bursts between 'make or break' PET scans that reveal what the cancer is doing and where the roller coaster is taking us.
I've been finding this recent period pretty challenging mentally because we're now in a bit of limbo. There is no major surgery to prep for (except the ileostomy 'reversal surgery' which isn't scheduled, oh and the IVC filter removal surgery - also not yet scheduled), and no course of radiation to complete - just chemotherapy with no clear end point and the usual side effect ups and downs - all leading up to a scan around March that will reveal whether all this treatment has been working.
So back to the projects. I figure rather than just writing about my invariably dismal and depressing cancer treatment I could be a little more uplifting - for self and reader - and write instead about some good stuff. I said to Ada (our eldest) today that cancer has had some benefits - for one I get to spend a lot more time with the kids at the moment, and I think with the right mindset and focus I could parlay this very rare extended leave time from work (treatment side effects notwithstanding) into some other 'good stuff'. And they always say that one of best ways of ensuring you achieve a goal is to share it with other people...applying some extra pressure to get it done. I've also found in the past that the Universe tends to reward open goal sharing with everything from great ideas and moral support to solid leads and 'make it happen' connections.
There are however some special criteria for there projects:
- Short burst - Need to be achievable within 3 month periods...in case the sky falls in somehow after a scan.
- Flexible - I can be totally fine one day and then suddenly struggle to walk the next day with the chemo regime I'm on, so I can't overly commit to anything
- Non-physical - I'd love nothing more than to tackle the Great North Walk or Routeburn track or do some remote zen camping, but among other issues, one of my chemo treatments can turn my feet into giant blisters and that is triggered by heat or pressure, for example from walking !?! So, these need to be very sedate projects
OK so here's my (evolving) list. Remember objective is to achieve all the specific goals before end of March.
- Get a dog - I've been talking about this for ages and always found an excuse to delay it but I really want to get a dog for the kids. I think our youngest is old enough (1 year) to be ok around a puppy, so the time has come. Specific Goal: At the very least have decided on possible breeds but if I spot a good purchase opportunity, go ahead and add a family member (my wife and mother-in-law have been pre-warned that a dog might just show up one day).
- Family tree - So I know my lovely wife thinks this is a cheesy old man pursuit but I've been using Myheritage.com to build out our family tree so we can share this with the kids when they eventually ask (and Ada is already asking). I've hit a bit of a limit in some parts so I'm going to hire a freelance genealogist (I love Upwork) for just a few hours to help me finish it off. Specific Goal: Completed, clean family tree, as far back as feasible.
- Property Plan - We're still toying with the idea of buying a farm a little way (ok, a long way given our budget) outside Sydney but there are so many moving parts - schooling, work, my health etc. There is a little extra pressure because a couple of properties that meet our criteria have recently come on the market. See this one for example. Specific Goal: At the very least, make a concerted effort to assess the real feasibility of this idea so we can get to a 'go / no go' decision.
- Sideline - I would love to come up with a sideline business that I can start while I'm still on leave and then Madé and I could continue to run on the side if / when we both resume more normal work hours. It has to be something that: (1) isn't dependent on me personally in case I'm not around for the long haul and (2) could be run remotely i.e from 1.5 hours outside Sydney. I figure a product, service or content play on-line. Specific goal: Nothing more than concerted brainstorming and research - finding this one hard.
- Upskilling - Keen to do some Udacity courses on AI and a few other topics. Also want to do some internal Google product training to stay at least a little fresh. Specific goal: Figure out exactly what I want to do and do at least one course.
So these two items might be most surprising to my corporate brethren of recent years, but before law & business schools killed my soul, I liked the creative stuff. I figure what better time to rekindle this, but these are probably the projects that scare me the most.
- Writing - I'm toying with poetry and kids writing. I've also amassed nearly 5000 followers on Medium.com - still trying to figure out what to do with this, if anything. Specific goals: 1st step - Just be brave enough to publish something (this could be as simple as just posting it here!)
- Singing - I actually really like singing. I know this will shock most unless you're part of a rare group that has witnessed (drunken) Karaoke Scott. I have a feeling that my two girls are going to have decent natural singing voices and if I kick the bucket early I'd like them to know that I liked singing and was semi-reasonable at it. Specific goals: Produce some kind of recording. Being deliberately vague here and I definitely can't guarantee I'll make this public!
So I still need to pursue a few track 2 projects and I've been seriously procrastinating on them because they're not much fun to think about, so again, I figure sharing the projects might force me to act on them.
- 'DTAT' Videos - I've created a private Youtube library for the kids - which I will never share, it's only for them. Incidentally channel is called 'Dad to the Ace Team'. One reason Ellis (our 3rd) is called Ellis is so I could get an 'E' initial to complete my ACE team (Ada, Calla, Ellis). If cancer checks me out early I find great comfort in the idea that I can communicate some thoughts, ideas and personal information to the ACE team, somewhat directly. I've done 20 videos so far but I have about 60 on my to-do list and still lots of formatting / channel set up etc to complete. Specific goal: Finish all the videos currently on the list (I think of new ones all the time) and get channel properly set up.
- Palliative Carer interviews - I've heard some shockers about Palliative care and it seems a lot depends on having good personal value alignment with your Palliative care team. Specific goal: I want to design a plan while and meet / interview folks while I don't yet need it so it's done without pressure and while fully compos mentis.
- Finish documentation stuff - Madé and I have completed Wills and Power of Attorney docs but I did them all myself. Specific goal: Get a lawyer to check over what I've done. Get PoA formalized. Also complete an Advanced Care Plan and then figure out where I'm going to safely store all these documents.
- Improve mental strength and resilience - I think I've realized that I'm not as mentally strong as I'd like to be and I need to invest more in this. Specific goal: Complete Quest for Life course and then reevaluate next steps. Current ideas include Qigong training and the School of Practical Philosophy mindful wisdom course, but I want to see what this Quest for Life residential program in February teaches me 1st.
Random / Other
- Lived Life Video Collection - So when I was still in the USA (and family had already returned to Sydney) I started doing video interviews of interesting people. Ok, I only managed to get one done. Idea is basically to build a library of 'lived life' stories as an educational tool - seeing how people navigated life, made decisions, changed course etc. Specific goal: I know from experience that this is massively time consuming. Goal is just to figure how to do this most effectively and efficiently and then maybe target 1-3 new interviews.
This warrants a project tracker right ?