Paul's Heart

Life As A Dad, And A Survivor

Archive for the category “Animals”

“Paul’s Heart” – 50,000 Views Strong!!!

Typically, people dread Mondays.  While I do not dread them, Mondays are not my favorite day of the week.  HOWEVER, today is a great Monday!  As the counter states, “Paul’s Heart” has had over 50,000 views officially this past weekend.  Among some of the other stats that I have completely not remembered, I have published 764 posts (765 including this one).  There are 252 more posts in draft form, and hundreds that are just prompts.  And then there are more than a dozen published stories and articles that I have share on this site.  So many readers have either commented or written me with questions, situations, seeking advice, or simply just to say, “yeah, I totally get that.”

Just some of the topics that I cover regularly:

  • cancer and survivorship
  • adoption
  • parenting
  • healthcare
  • discrimination
  • parental alienation
  • education
  • bullying

I am driven by the expression, “those who cannot do, teach.”  Because I am a cancer survivor, I cannot donate blood or organs.  Because of cancer treatments, I discovered the world of adoption.  I have taken on discrimination and won.  I do not tolerate bullying at all.

But my one goal with “Paul’s Heart” has not been met yet.  Actually writing a book.  I have begun the process many times, each with a different concept or approach.  The only conclusion that I can reach as to why, is that I have not experienced yet, that one key moment that will either be the beginning, the focus, or the conclusion of such an endeavor.

In the meantime, I will keep writing about things I cannot do, but can help.  I will continue to be a voice for those that do not have the ability or confidence.  I will research and find answers, point in directions where to find answers.

I will also keep looking for, and printing guest stories from you, the readers.

From the bottom of my most grateful heart, thank you to all of you who have read, shared, and appreciated “Paul’s Heart” over the years.



Summer Vacation – A Learning Experience

As a kid, who did not love Summer vacation?  But as an adult, I love it so much more.  I have always been the type of person who enjoys watching others’ happiness, more than my own.  And now that I get to witness things as a father, through my daughters’ eyes, yes, I love every chance I get to spend with my daughters.

My daughters love the reality television show, Big Brother.  By default, that means when they visit me during the Summer, I am stuck watching the show with them.  It is unavoidable because I live in a one-room apartment.  A similar situation if you will to the living arrangements on Big Brother, more than a dozen people, trapped in a contained studio house, for over 90 days, with someone being kicked out of the house every week.  Every move is watched.  Every word is heard.  Trapped.

Ok, so our situation is not identical per se, but, the three of us are staying in the same room, for 49 days, but no one is being evicted.  Ok, we get to leave the apartment and do things.  Ok, there is no backstabbing and lying to get favors.  But there is one thing that our situations do have in common, learning about each other.

I have spent most of my cancer survivorship, proving to everyone, that I will be fine.  At the same time, I have spent all of my time, convincing everyone that the many issues I face as a result of my treatments thirty years ago, are very real.  They are not once and done episodes, but a progression of situations, monitored, waiting to have no choice but to be dealt with some day, hopefully before it is too late (read “CABG – Not Just A Green Leafy Vegetable and you will see what I mean).

My daughters were 3 and 5 when my body let me know, that while I may have beaten cancer, it came at a price.  And there would be several more episodes in the upcoming years.  But I have always been of the mindset, to let my kids be kids, let them deal with childish things.  And as I realized how much happier off they were just to know “Daddy was okay,” I used this mentality when it came to family, friends, and co-workers.  By doing so, I did myself a disservice, as well as perhaps other cancer survivors as well.  I figured, if I could keep all the issues hidden that I have to deal with, then I would not have to worry about anyone worrying about me.  The unrealistic part of that is, anytime a crisis would come up, there would be worry.  But then that would be followed up with “get over it already, you are better”, or worse, “just faking it.”

It is ten years now since my daughters saw me hooked up to all kinds of machines, recovering from open heart surgery, and having witnessed many of the other events.  Already during this visit, questions are beginning to come up.  Because of the warmer climate here, many of my scars are exposed, and these lead to questions.  Both daughters were never there when I went through my cancer, though are very proud of me for having made it all these years.  But as they grasp that the fact that many of the things that I deal with health-wise are because of my treatments, they now understand, my body will never get better, only worse.

They know that I have good days, and they have certainly seen my bad days.  They know the issues that I deal with are very real.  But that is not what are visits are about.  Yes, they are learning about me, and I am learning about them.  And I have so much more to teach them.  I take them to visit preserves, complete computer courses that may benefit them in their future, and another first, helped my oldest apply for her first job.  And we still do workbook exercises to prepare them for the new school year, though I have now pared the work down to a specific course that either may have struggled with in school (they each had one).

But there is still so much more for us to do together.  And I cherish every moment I have with them.  And I know that they are enjoying the time with me.  I know that they care about me.  They want to do what they can to keep me around a lot longer, whether it be a better diet, or exercise (we have a nightly walk routine after just 3 days).

They know that in just a few years, our roles may change with each other as I will have to give them responsibilities, as far as things they definitely need to know, and perhaps, prepare for.  They will become my legal guardians and our roles will switch.  If I am faced with the difficult situation of being incapacitated as I have with past events, they will be the ones that will need to carry out my wishes should decisions need to be made.

In the meantime, like I said, I want to let my kids, be kids.  But at least they know, just because I do not show it, does not mean that I am not dealing with some serious health issues.

And just as my children are learning, just because you see this, but do not see something obvious with the person getting out of the vehicle, does not mean that they do not have a health issue that they are dealing with.  But if you feel that you are justified in criticizing anyone anyway?  Feel right on free to trade places with us.

Questions And Answers

Every so often, follower of “Paul’s Heart” reach out to me with questions.  I want to take this opportunity right now to answer those questions.

How do you decide your topics?

I am a very impulsive writer in most cases.  With the exception of planned projects, such as short stories I have had published in Visible Ink, various news publications, the majority of posts/stories come from ideas that personally concern me, such as cancer, survivorship, adoption, health care, divorce, and such.  An idea might pop into my head, and within hours, I “lose” that urgency to write, and it falls into a cue which currently holds over 500 prompts.

Are there things I will not write about?

I do not believe in censorship, so I would say that I can and would write about anything if I was asked.  As a rule, when it comes to “Paul’s Heart”, I generally do not discuss my opinions when it comes to religion and politics because those things are private to me, and I do not want that to interfere with the purpose of this blog, to help and support those experiencing similar life struggles as myself.  If I do write about a controversial subject, such as health care, I will do my best to research and present facts.  But I have found, that writing about politics or religion, often cause more harm to relationships, and what I want this blog to achieve.

Do you prefer to write fiction or non-fiction?

I am told that I do not give myself enough credit for my writings.  I have had several assistants editing many of my pieces, all with different approaches for me.  I do not consider myself to have a vivid imagination, yet my writing coaches have a way of drawing out that talent from me.  I do prefer to write biographical type pieces, as many of my followers look to “Paul’s Heart” for inspiration.  I have written about many others on this blog and the experiences that they have gone through, so the stories are not just about me.

I have taken what I have learned from my writing coaches, and encourage my children to write in a similar fashion, by giving them simple prompts to provoke their imagination.

I do enjoy writing editorial pieces also.

Do you make time to write?

I recall the person who asked me this question.  Their claim was that between all of the doctor appointments, work, taking care of their family, this person felt that they had no time to write, in spite of their desire to do so.

I do try to set aside time to write, at least once a week, if not more.  It does not always work out that way, because I also have a tendency to get “stuck” not able to put thoughts together to write a piece, perhaps I do not like the finished project, or I just even give up on that particular piece.  But unless I have a deadline to meet, I write when I write.

In further discussion with this person, it turned out that they spent on average three hours on a train, commuting to and from work.  I mentioned that if they were interested in writing, this time period on the train would be ideal to gather thoughts, to see if there would be anything that they might like to discuss on paper.  Time on the train is a perfect and often quiet time to reflect.

Is writing therapeutic for you?

In one word, absolutely.  I am a person who internalizes… a lot.  I have many emotional struggles as a cancer survivor, one of which is survivor’s guilt.  And that is exactly what it says.  I also deal with PTSD and anxiety in relation to my survivorship.  I do have someone that I speak with, but when I do not have that option available, yes, writing is just one of the things I enjoy to help me relax, along with my other method, music.

Whether you publish something, or just document a thought in some sort of diary, releasing a thought that is of great concern to you through writing is indeed therapeutic.  Keeping concerns inside is not good.  And all too often, we do not have someone that we can just readily talk to, or may not even be good at listening.  We can express our thoughts, reflect on them, and then decide if it is necessary to share with others, or is it good enough that “I” recognize that expressing myself as I had done, that is all that needs to be done.  Yes, it is very therapeutic.

Can I share my story on your blog?

As long as it pertains to cancer, survivorship, adoption, or divorce, I am more than happy to share others stories of survivorship and inspiration.  You can send your story to me at .

As always, I am so thankful for everyone who reads and follows “Paul’s Heart”.  As I mentioned earlier, I have a lot of stories in cue to get to.  I think I am caught up on questions.

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