When Life Wakes You Up {uncovering spontaneity}

Last September while walking around Arlington National Cemetery with my family I received a message from my doctor that some recent tests had shown some abnormal cells and I needed to come in.

I immediately called the nurse back that had left the message and asked, “Are you saying they are cancer cells?”.

She told me she couldn’t tell me any more and would have the doctor call me back the next day.

The next day?

I slowly sat down on a stone wall as I hung up the phone and my family was around me asking what she had said.

I am not even kidding when I tell you the first thoughts that went through my head.

Before I tell you those first thoughts I would like to say that I feel like the luckiest girl in the world!

I am married to an amazing man, have the children I always dreamed of, I get to use the gifts and the skills the Lord has given me and I get to use them in ways that knocks my socks off.  I have beautiful friendships that are deep, silly, supportive and loyal.  I am surrounded by a family that sees all of me and loves me just the same.  If you would have shown me my future life at 18 years old I would have known that I would be winning the lottery on creative and blessed lives.

I am hoping that it is because of the above and so much more that I first thought this…

“Crap! I am going to die of cancer and I have never dyed my hair red and gotten that nose ring!”

I am not even kidding.

When we got back to Colorado I went in for a second exam and it can back positive that I had cancer cells and I would need to have surgery to remove them.

Last fall I had the surgery and over the past months I have been checked every two months to make sure everything was looking good.

Last month I was told that everything was clear and that the doctor wouldn’t need to see me for a year.

So here it is fall again and for the past five falls I have wanted to dye my hair red.

I can’t watch a movie with Julianne Moore and not instantly dream of red hair!

My hairdresser had always talked me out of it because of all her practical and wise advice like my hair was so blond that the color wouldn’t hold, I’m not good at hair maintenance and red hair is high maintenance and if I wanted to go back to blonde it could take awhile.  Each year I said, “OK, just do a regular highlight.”

This year I didn’t let her talk me out of it.

You get what you want when you say, “I had cancer cells cut out of my cervix and I want the red hair.”

She shut up, smiled and said she would do the red hair.

As long as I have wanted red hair I have wanted to get a nose ring.

I blame it on my dear friend Amanda Purvis and my new friend Danielle Burkleo.

All of my years of wanting a nose ring was pushed over the edge by their awesome hotness.

( I really wanted the hoop but they said I had to wait 8 weeks to put that in)

One of the main reasons I hadn’t gotten my piercing is because my mom hated the idea and parts of me let that hold me back from doing it.

My mom doesn’t really care but just knowing she didn’t like the idea was enough to talk me out of it.

As I had red dye slathered all over my head I called the local tattoo and piercing shop and scheduled my piercing for the next day.

My heart was pounding and I didn’t feel like I fit into the tattoo scene that day:-) but I stayed, sat down and let Ryan poke a hole in my face.

Sure, Maddy almost threw up but I did it!  Kelly thought I looked super hot right away and Ben kept on playing his video game.

I texted a photo to Jack at high school and he thought it was awesome.

It didn’t hurt. At all!

Maybe it hadn’t been my mom but the pain that had kept me from getting it done.

Maybe it was going into a place where I felt out of my element and like I didn’t belong.

I don’t know but I did it.

I am good and I don’t have cancer.

I have a beautiful life in all of the big ways but I don’t want to stop doing those little, fun, silly, brave, crazy things that make life…life!

I don’t want to NOT do things that I really want to do because someone else talks me out of it or because it may not be practical.

I don’t want to not do things because of the opinion of others and what they think is acceptable or lovely.

My heart is in the right place so obviously the things I would want to do wouldn’t be hurtful to others of myself.

I feel like that call that day in the middle of Arlington National Cemetery woke me up to being more me, more spontaneous and more silly.

What have you been really wanting to do and something is holding you back?

If it won’t hurt you, won’t hurt others and is not against your faith…what is holding you back?

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    1. Kara

      Jeanne I had no idea you were going thru all of this! how scary this must have been! I am so glad you are okay now!

      I have to tell you that this post is so interesting to me because it is a lot of what I have been going thru recently. aside from the recent changes I have updated you on, I also have been going thru another journey that feels a bit like finding myself finally. I grew up with and still have parents that are very concerned about Appearances. I have always and still deal with this to this day but am working on it… I finally found the courage to break out of that and just totally be myself, my colorful, accessorized fun self to the fullest… it isn’t always this way and I found the courage to just totally not worry about what my parents think, or whoever else. am I offending anyone currently? no! am I happier? yes!!!

      I have a friend Vanessa from Brazil that has such a sense of style and is so darn bold. she wears kimonos with dress and heels and a head wrap to a World Cup soccer party. she totally inspired me to be more bold, more colorful and more me..

      so loving the red hair on you. now you have inspired boldness in me as well and I am sure in others too. xox.

  1. Lisa Crail

    Thank you so much for this! You look stunning – it suits you! Now that tattoo I’ve been thinking of for years…just breathe…

  2. Alisha

    So beautiful, Jeanne! This post brought tears to my eyes. So glad that you are cancer-free, red-headed & nose-pierced! 🙂

  3. Tina

    Been there. Chicken to do that! Well, not the hair part. For me it was losing my red hair and going back to the gray it had been since early 20’s. Natural I think sounds nicer than gray. Have wanted the nose ring so bad. You’re gonna’ percolate in my head now girl!

  4. Pam

    Your post hit home for me as I was diagnosed with breast cancer last year and had surgery a few weeks before my birthday in April. Then radiation and I have to take Tamoxifen for the next five years. Because the Tamoxifen can cause uterine cancer and I started having issues I had a complete hysterectomy and oophorectomy 2 days before Thanksgiving. I am doing well now and glad that the year is in my past. Now I am planning a tattoo or two when I get up the nerve. I love your red hair, your are so gorgeous anyway. The nose piercing is another thing I would love to do. I still have that nagging (too old for that) fear. But if not now then I may not get the chance as we never know what’s to come. So yes, sometimes bad things are a wake up call that is positive. I have much less fear about everything now. Thanks for your beautiful post!

  5. Jenny

    Seriously you are a rock star!! I admire you so much and everything you do you do it for you, not for others but for you and what completes you!! I just hope to grow up to be like you (I am sure I am older than you) but really you are an amazing daughter of God!! I hope you know how much you have changed the way I feel about myself and my worth!! Thanks!!!

  6. Cathy

    AWESOME!! I’m also a cervical cancer survivor….GOOD ON YOU, my friend. Did I say your AWESOME!!!

  7. Tanya Poling

    Wow..I’m so glad things are better for you now! You look really great with red hair, it’s so warm and natural! The nose ring is cute too, I had my nose pierced but I haven’t worn anything in 15 yrs! Maybe I will again! Thanks for all your inspiration!

  8. Lisa

    What an interesting post!! I commend you for your bravery and being such a bon vivant! What a relief you are healthy! Now, about my daughter who wants a nose ring…I’d rather she choose it for herself later in life — certainly you are enjoying it that much more now but then again reading your post made me think about it differently!

  9. nee nee

    Yay for being cancer free! And your hair looks fabulous! I finally let my 15 year old get her nose pierced last month. I couldn’t look and she did not even flinch. Happy New YOU!

  10. Cundy

    I have admired you since the first time I read your blog years ago and ordered a camera bag!
    I love your red hair and nose ring, how brave you are!
    I am so happy you are cancer free! I has my cervix taken out almost 20 years ago when I was in my early 30’s due to cancer cells. It is scary! But I live each day to it’s fullest! God bless you!

  11. Lonnie Jenck

    Your red hair is “HOT” You look amazing and good for you for not holding back!! I think we all need to do a little of that….scary at times but so worth it!!

  12. Andi*B

    I so love this post. I am for your GOOD NEWS!…so GLAD your hair is red and your nose is pierced and on it’s way to a nose ring:)
    I just got to your blog whatever day you were to post for LifeBook, and happened to check back today. i’m so glad I did. This post spoke so directly to me… My wake up wasn’t cancer, but I have had one to in the last year. I don’t know it seems like putting those things you want on the back burner is because you are focused on family, kids, daily living… living in your blessings, being selfless…
    but for me, allowing myself to go after those things that I’ve wanted /dreamed about -really, just being fully me- has been so enriching for my whole family as they have seen me living out life. It teaches them and gives them the freedom to do the same.

    Sharing in your Joy.

  13. Patti butchwell

    So thankful for your journey to good health. While I can’t begin to know the fear you went through, you have shown the importance of celebrating today.

  14. kolleen

    THANK you. YOU. <3

    so grateful for the shine you bring into this world … for your truth … your silliness … your spontaneity … your grace … your gratitude … your HOT red hair and SEXY nose ring … and of course the good news on your health!! i adore you.


  15. Kate Robertson

    You make an awesome redhead! I went through the same thing. I had to have a hysterectomy but I am doing great now. Its been 4 years.

  16. Christa Thomas

    Isn’t it funny how we have to have these wake up calls to give ourselves permission to make changes big or small? I too had one of those calls from the doctors office. Before I knew it, I was having a total hysterectomy at 48. Instant menopause, y’all! Well, once I recovered from that and looked at my life, I realized a couple of things. First, life is short and chancy. Second, it’s too short to spend it being unhappy. So I left a job I no longer loved that was sucking away my soul. Found new work that I love, that also gives me time with my family and for art and for beauty. And I dye my hair red. Don’t know about the nose piercing, but I really want a convertible! Jeanne. I’m so glad you are healthy and happy. And one totally HOT mama to boot! XO

  17. Teresa Swanson

    You were beautiful as a blond, and now you are drop-dead gorgeous as a red head! Nose rings have been around for thousands of years, so you might as well join in with the fun!

  18. elizabethfstewart

    I love the hair AND the nose ring. I’ve always wanted a nose ring, but it’s my hubs who doesn’t want me to so I’m not sure that’s a good idea for me. Also, when you have a less perky nose and a more “a bit on the large size” nose, like mine, I wasn’t sure it would look as cute.

  19. Kathie Vezzani

    Oh my sweet beautiful friend. You just kicked my ass to the curb……again (in a loving way–LOL). Love you and can’t wait to spend more time with you listening to that throaty low laugh of yours. Ginger margies forever. A nose ring? OMG.

  20. Karen

    You fabulous, daring, beautiful redhead you!!! What is holding me back, and what do I want to do….? All i really want to do right now is rearrange a few pieces of furniture in the living/dining room and what’s holding me back is fear that the lovely children and man with whom I share my house with are going to complain, or be mad when it looks wrong and we have to move everything back. Sigh. Wouldn’t you think that is such a small, tiny wish, when you look at the big scheme of things….? Thank God you are healthy, Jeanne! xo

  21. Krista

    You look beautiful! So sorry to hear what you went through, but so good to hear that you are cancer free and doing well! You are inspiring!

  22. Ginger Hansen

    Since meeting you in early May, you have inspired me in more ways than you will ever know. You truly are an amazing woman!!! Thank you for sharing this story and, again, inspiring me to listen to me, what I want. So happy you are cancer FREE!!!!

  23. Melissa Leach

    I’m new to receiving your blog…I have learned in a short time you are a beauty inside and out. I admire your Faith and know you are inspiring others by sharing your blessings with us. May the good Lord continue to bless you and your family. Congrats on your clean bill of health. Get out there and continue to LIVE life.

  24. Jean Goza

    What a touching story you have shared with all of us. You are brave, beautiful and inspirational. The red hair and nose piercing look awesome!

  25. Renee Savoie

    I am shocked that you have been able to keep that all to yourself for so long. How you must have suffered. Cancer is such a scary thing and I am so happy for you and your family that all is good. The hair looks amazing by the way. Even though I could have never pictured it, it totally suits you.

  26. Teresa Atkinson

    oh my sweet friend – I know I know – and i have made so many of those real living beautiful decisions. I LOVE THE RED HAIR —- and the nose ring too. Life is Beautiful and I am so glad you have been given the all clear – there is nothing quite like reading “no sign of metastisis or recurrance” on a lab report is there?

  27. Pam Ballard

    Love Love Lover your hair and your story behind it. Thanks for being real and sharing it with all of us. God bless you!

  28. Noelle Mena

    Made me cry. Nothing like health scares to make you take a good look at what you’ve done with your life and what you laid aside! Here’s to letting go and Letting In. Be Bold, Be Strong, Be You. I love that, and I’m trying to live it to the fullest. That shade of red has been my fav for me. I bought the stuff myself from Sally’s and maintained it as it is hard to keep in blonde hair. (I’m natural blonde as well, back from every shade all the way to black!) Make up is soooooo fun with red hair!

  29. {connie}

    you seriously roCk my friend!!! it’s though moments in life that DO wake us us. that shake our bones, our souL and right then and there we are still. we are alone with the thoughts running through our head, only our breath and that still silence. i am so proud of you for doing it!!! i am honored to call you my friend and blessed to have pieces of your talents. i too have been doing things that people told me i couldn’t or shouldn’t do. i am changing my thoughts and working on me and doing so i am getting stronger and braver. i will be covering up a tattoo that needs to be gone, taking more risks at new adventures and i just might get that nose ring i’ve always wanted. thanks for your courage to share your story and uplift so many along the way. i love you jeanne!!! thanks for the encouragement and the strength to keep taking chances and risks. so happy your cancer is clear! CANCER SUCKS!!!! love and hugs

  30. Serena

    hi love. I am so inspired by your strength and grace. Thank you for sharing your gifts (which are numerous) with us all. What a relief to know that you are healthy and ready to take on the world. You are rocking it girl. I love you. I love your new look. and I love your approach to making the best of this one crazy, beautiful life we are so fortunate to live, however long that may be. Giddy up, cowgirl… xx

  31. Diane@Peaceful Acres Farm

    Very inspiring! Been there in a different way…although when i was your age I too got that call about abnormal cervical cells…but my biopsy was negative. However I’ve gone into anaphylactic shock 3X in the past 3 yrs and that my friend is eye opening. Each time I’m gasping for 1 breath, I say…”oh the hell with all of it! I want to live with NO regrets!” I’ve learned many things from my near death episodes…mostly how to live in this moment and this one alone! There are no do-overs! Make life count and stop waisting precious time on what never will count or matter in the scope of eternity! Carpe Diem!!!

  32. Tina

    Just wanted to tell you that I have an appointment tomorrow at the piercing parlor!!! You pushed me over the edge. AND I pulled the trigger on a haircut today. Uber short. Thanks for the kick in the pants.

  33. Anne

    I agree life is too short.Many years our lives changed in an instant.I won’t go into details,but I will say I almost lost my husband.I agree don’t put things off.And every single day we tell each other how much we love each other because you never know when it’s going to be the last time.You look beautiful Jeannie!

  34. Michelle

    So very thankful for your health! I love your red hair and your nose piercing, you look amazing. Life is way to short to not jump in with both feet and be adventurous. Grab everything that is out there, enjoy all of it. It’s true, you do rock.

  35. Kellie

    I think you would look lovely with any color hair. 🙂 The piercing is such a fun change too!

    Sending healthy thoughts your way.

  36. dannylion

    I loved this post! You literally take life to the fullest! You are one hot sexy and talented mama! You rock that red hair – it’s like… “why didn’t I do that sooner?” right? That “call” is scary indeed! Yup! Had one and a week later i was in recovery with a bilateral mastectomy.. one month after that a radical hysterectomy (so much for taking care of me while raising my three boys). I honestly do what I want – when I want and I don’t care what anyone thinks… it wasn’t the cancer either… It was approximately 2 to 5 years after my son was fully diagnosed with all of his disabilities and after a few due process court hearings with the school district, insurance company and other systems that make you fight for your son’s right as a human being. Fighting for my son (and yes even today) gave me a backbone made out of brass and then some… I honestly leave a meeting and if they don’t like me – I figure I didn’t do a good enough job advocating for my son! If I leave the meeting and they have venom in their eyes for me – I realize I knew the law, I knew the impact of his needs, I said the “right” words to get him what he needs… Funny how it took my son to teach me when I was fighting for his rights to be taught the things that we take for granted (speaking simple words, understanding pictures in lieu of language… etc). Now being a caregiver 24/7 the only thing I wish I could do but cannot due to his needs, I would probably try to get some sort of reconstruction – not necessary for perfect boobies – but at least get the shape back to norm (the surgeon must have had a fight with his wife either that morning or the night before my mastectomy b/c I think he used a chainsaw… talk about not caring how it looked??? – I have bumps where there shouldn’t be and certain areas are concave… ugly as heck)…. that is about it… but not this life…Thank you for sharing! You are not only gorgeous on the inside – you are certainly on the outside – wow – what were you waiting for? This is a look that you definitely rock – you could be on the front cover of vogue now!!!!

  37. marci

    First of all I am so happy that you are ok!!

    I have wanted that nose piercing and a tattoo on my foot and am so scared to do it. I think people will think I’m having some sort of midlife crisis or something! I love that you threw the thoughts to the side and went for it!! Maybe next time you see me I will have mustered the courage to do the same.;). Thanks for being the inspiring woman you are. The hair is beautiful too.

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  39. Charlene

    Jeanne, you are so blessed that you were able to learn such a valuable life lesson so early in this life! Many people NEVER learn this! God doesn’t promise us forever. We don’t know when our last breath will come. So each of us should live life to OUR personal best so we have no regrets! Never miss the chance to let those you love KNOW how much they are lived by you, don’t have life unlead…. LIVE YOUR BEST LIFE everyday! Enjoy being red!

  40. Ruth Navarro

    You look Lovely, you were very brave, I am so happy for you that you are well and healthy, I just finish a book I love because the author talk about what you just said and that’s what I love most about this book, “Do what you really want in life, this is why you are here, that way you are aligned with your highest self, there is nothing to fear, just do what your excitement tells you to do” Dr. Wayne Dyer, and the name of the book is “I Can See Clearly Now”, he had cancer at one time in his life, but he is well now…….I LOVE HIM.
    Thank you for sharing such a personal part of your life.

  41. Rita Carbuhn

    Life presents us with some dazzling challenges, doesn’t it? When you face the prospect of dying (which a diagnosis of cancer always brings up), I think that is when you truly begin to live. You allow yourself to feel a deep sense of gratitude for life and for all the people who are a part of it. At the same time, you also realize each day is precious and you live differently. I speak from personal experience as I have been there, too, Jeanne. I am a 22 year cancer survivor and one of the things I hated the most about my cancer was losing my beautiful red hair. Yes, I had lovely auburn red hair that made me feel very unique. So…. I am enjoying seeing you in red and living vicariously through you. You look gorgeous and absolutely stunning! Congratulations on embracing your courage to fulfill your dreams and desires. And even though I don’t share the desire for a nose ring, it looks awesome on you. You go, girl! Love you oodles.

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