Breast cancer diagnosis gives a super busy chick like me that much needed often not taken break from the busy. At least that is what I thought when I got the first diagnosis. A time to reflect, to stop the running around, to contemplate.

Wrong. Super wrong. As a matter of fact, the surprise for me is the opposite. Of course I took the time to heal and rest; this was a no brainer and was not difficult. I like to have an excuse to lie around and read and write and sleep. But what I noticed after the first time and subsequently this last time was the sense of urgency this whole shebang has created for me. Sometimes I feel like there is no time to get all of the items on my list done. I am not talking about the day to day minutia of list making. I am speaking of the big bad ass bold ideas that germinate on a daily basis, half of which barely come to fruition. This is the entrepreneurial gift though that I inherited from my father and my grandfather. The ideas, the flow, the energy of it all and I wouldn’t change my busy brain for anything because entrepreneurialship is what drives my course. It is my vehicle of choice in my life and I am never bored by its wisdoms and its lessons. There are far more rewards then disappointments because every single thing that happens is a proverbial lesson.

Owning a business and having breast cancer though has given me a big pause as I have been able to look through the scope with a different set of lenses. Those lenses are the ones that say, ‘what is the point here,’ ‘what is the end result I am looking for,’ ‘why do I do this every day’ and ‘what is the long term answer to all of this work?’ It honestly never occurred to me that I would be at the sixteen year mark in my business and be as excited as I was at day one looking ahead. The difference is that this time looking out at the next sixteen years, I will be 68. When I last looked, I was a very naïve 35 year old and 16 years looked as far away as Christmas looks to a five year old. Why is it that when we get into our fifties and beyond, time feels like it is accelerating? Days are flying by, never mind seasons and years. Add to this the unfortunate diagnosis of cancer and brch 2 genetic mutations and the acceleration machine seems to be at warp speed. There is just something that has happened in me that has created a non stop sense of urgency to get shit done. And I was already a get shit done kind of gal. The difference is that now I only want to get the shit done that is super important and feeds my open and responsive soul.

The phrase SHIT HAPPENS has transformed into DEATH HAPPENS and I don’t mean this in a somber light. I mean this solely in the pragmatism passed down to me from my soon to be 100 year old grandfather, the most pragmatic man I know. He has witnessed the speed of light of his life like the Scrooge character being visited by the ghost of Christmas past with the replay of a life well lived. I have watched his strength as he lost his wife of 71 years, went on a few dates even after my grandmother died, then had a stroke that he survived and though it compromised his physical strength, his mind is as sharp as a tack. My grandfather is the one who gives me great pause in my life. More than anyone, he has taught me lessons I could never list on a piece of paper and he is the only other person who has witnessed the depths of despair I have felt in losing the people we have loved who we have been closest to. As he gets ready to celebrate his 100 years and people say to me that I have good genes, I don’t really believe this to be true only because of the rest of my family and their young loss.

As I go forward in my life, it has taken on a sense of busy ness because I can’t help but be pragmatic in my approach. I am a realist on some level which would surprise many who know me especially my grandfather who thinks I have walked around with my head in the clouds as he has reminded me often, “Alayne, you are an emotional girl.” Spoken totally from an old school man born in 1917 who has different outlook on the way men think versus women surely. I mean think about it, he was born before women even had the right to vote. He was born to Russian immigrants who came to America so they could have religious freedoms as well as opportunities they couldn’t even imagine were possible in the early 1900s. He was born before WWII was even a glimmer. He was born before television was invented or before people even had cars or credit cards, movies, or stereo systems and records and rock and roll and headphones. Never mind the internet and email and cell phones.

So when I say DEATH HAPPENS, I don’t mean this in the dark way it may read. As of today, LIFE IS VERY MUCH HAPPENING, but the cancer that runs through my family line up down and side to side has reminded me to consider the time I have on an almost moment to moment basis. Whereas I may have taken my days for granted a little more often prior to BC (breast cancer) round 1, I now don’t feel as privileged to do so. Perhaps that is just an age thing, but I also think it is the breast cancer thing. So much to do so little time.

The funny aspect of this experience I have learned is how much self-importance I used to think I had and I don’t anymore. I would say that if a gift were to be received from this shitty experience, it would be the removal of the cape I used to annoint myself with. That cape has been packed away in a trunk for my grandchildren to play with in jest if I am ever blessed to have any. The depth of who I have become has been rewarding for me and me alone. I have realized that my new boobs that now grace my upper body remind me daily by their tight squeeze that I am who I am and I like my busy self. My great grandfather Joe, Herbie’s father with a very heavy Russian accent used to say, “Oy your ‘sqveezin’ me too tight,” every time I hugged him. The tightness that is now part of my new upper body reminds me of that hug in a way. Despite the occasional discomfort of its pull, a tight hug is a nicer way to change the vibe. We all need hugs and surely I get one every minute of every day with this new set of 36Ds that proudly stand straight out like Wonder Woman or those fabulous pinup photos women wore with those Playtex bras of the fifties.

Death will happen when it is supposed to, but in the meantime, Life is happening and as pragmatic as I can be thanks to my grandfather, I am ultimately an emotional girl who very much enjoys the ride without the cape.

a family photo taken in 1927, the man in the upper right corner is my great father joe horowitz, my grandfather is the young man in front row in the center, herbie at 10 and now above is herbie at almost 100 never too old to learn how a pair of turquoise bose headphones sound with the Barry Sisters singing their Yiddish tunes.

A self proclaimed lover of all things beauty, business + lifestyle, and a typewriter enthusiast, I write because it feels good.