Ways to Stay Sane During the Holidays

This post originally appeared back in November of 2012. It’s been edited a bit but the tips are still the same!

Next Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States. The official countdown to Christmas is six 2  weeks. Most stores have put up the Christmas decorations and the holiday commercials are starting. I’ve started to see some “Help!” posts around the internet about feeling the holiday crafting crunch.

Don't end up like this guy!

Don’t end up like this guy! photo by divadea via Flickr

This year, I’m making some of my gifts but for the most part, I’m not feeling the crunch anymore. I’ve come up with a few tips and tricks that are helping me.

  1. Just say no. I’ve made a list, checked it twice and have taken people off of my list. Not everyone needs a tangible thing to unwrap, how about you take them out for coffee and chat instead?
  2. Determine if those on the list are knit or crochet worthy. If not, they’re on the purchased gift list. There’s no shame in not making all the presents.
  3. Plan out your time. If you’re planning on making gifts and it looks like it won’t be ready by Christmas morning, it’s OK! The Gift Police will not be hauling you away if you don’t get everything done “on time”.
  4. Delegate! I may not be crafting everything for everyone but this year I’m making it a point to support hand made and buy off of Etsy. They’re still getting a gift made with love, just not one made by me.

While everything is screaming at you to Be Merry Or Else! it doesn’t actually have to be that way. By cutting yourself major slack, you’ll avoid flinging the mashed potatoes at obnoxious Great Aunt Gladys.

What are your ways to stay sane during the holidays?

Fab Friday Finds #25: It’s Nearly Christmas



The hustle and bustle of the holidays are here! Surprisingly, it’s not very white here in Minnesota this year. The snow that’s on the ground has been melting since the temps are above freezing. If this is going to be a mild winter, I’m not complaining!

Whether or not the weather outside is frightful, these links will surely be delightful.

Free Cancer Bingo Card Printable

We all know how insane the holidays are on their own. Toss in chemo and mix it well with obnoxious family members and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.

Never fear! I’ve found a way to make Christmas and/or Hanukkah dinner bearable. A cancer bingo card free for you.

Click to embiggen and download!

Click to embiggen and download!

And to sweeten the pot, if you send me a copy of your Bingo sheet to vanessa AT mixedmartialartsandcrafts DOT com, you will be put into a drawing to win a SUPER HUGE LYMPH NODE! I raffled off one at OMG East so here’s a picture of what you can win:

I’ll announce a winner on January 3rd, giving you plenty of time to collect people’s stupidity!

So go print out that bingo sheet, bust out a colorful marker and win your very own Survival Organ!

P.S. Can’t wait and want one right now? Go to my website and click “Request Custom Order” and I’ll be happy to make you one.

Fab Friday Finds #24


There are just  20 days until Christmas, ya’ll! If you’ve been thinking about buying a Survival Organ as a gift, shipping deadlines are coming up.

What Men Need After Cancer — Guest Post from Johnny T

photo credit: Ian D. Keating via photopin cc

photo credit: Ian D. Keating via photopin cc

This guest post is brought to you by former interviewee Johnny T.

There is so much to plan for, to think about, to absorb, when one receives a diagnosis of cancer. Everything from the pondering about death and mortality, to figuring out what foods to keep around, contacts to always have on hand, and what you will do to entertain yourself during treatment or extended hospital stays. Fortunately, there are a lot of resources available to help you get everything you need taken care of before beginning treatment. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for what becomes of life after cancer.

In my experience with peer-to-peers support and in talking with other survivors in general, it seems that there is quite a shock awaiting many patients as the transition into this new normal of life after cancer. Especially for men. There just aren’t as many support groups and resources for male cancer survivors as there are for women. And finding the specific type of support you may need could be a difficult task. From experience, and from the conversations with others, here are some things that men truly need when transitioning to a life of survivorship.

  • Peer support – The support of friends and family is definitely crucial when one is going through cancer. This cannot be stressed enough. However, if these friends and family have not been through the same thing, there can be some ways in which their support doesn’t quite cut it. It’s very important to find a support group of peers who have been through the same diagnosis. Life after cancer is different and can be confusing at times. Having the support of those who have been through the same thing can help alleviate fears and confusions, and provide a support that those who haven’t been in your shoes can’t provide.
  • Affirmation - Yes, men needs emotional support. Anyone who says that cancer didn’t damage them emotionally or mentally in some way is in some deep denial. Society at large tends to tell men to just “Man Up” or “Grow A Pair” when it comes to dealing with deep emotion. Specifically when it comes to depression, or sadness. in my personal experience, the emotional and mental toll that cancer took on my life has been the hardest to overcome, and I am still struggling with it to this day (some 2 years later). Many men are in the same boat, and a lack of general affirmation from others can make things much worse.
  • Some Sense of Previous Normalcy - Those of you who have been through cancer already know that “normal” has a whole new meaning when transitioning into survivorship. The same is true for men and women. But perhaps men tend to be a bit more clamoring for a sense of what was normal before than women. I think this boils down to number one and number two that I have already listed. There is a deep longing for things that may not ever be again. Gaining any sense of normalcy as we knew it before can be a great step to moving forward with life after cancer. It gives a bit of comfort to know that things can and probably will be okay.
  • A Forum for Their Voice - Too often, when it comes to health related issues, men are told to “Grow A Pair” or to just “Man Up”. We are told not to talk about our emotions because it is not manly. But men, just as much as women, need a forum for their voice. They need to talk about things just as much as any person. Keeping things bottled in can lead to destructive behavior and thinking. Men transitioning into life after cancer are at a very vulnerable time in life. There is a lot of uncertainty that surrounds how we move on after cancer. And often times, we find out that it’s not as easy as just simply waking up and starting over. Men need a forum for their voice. They need ears to listen and not judge and condemn for having normal human emotions.

I’m sure there are many more things I could list. In the reality of it all, every cancer patient has the same basic needs when transitioning to life after cancer. It’s a new road. Just like graduating from college, getting married, or having a child. New, unexplored territory with uncertainty, confusion, ups, and downs. We walk that road one day at a time. And with basic needs met, we thrive.

Are you a male survivor? What kind of things would you say you needed the most making the transition to life after cancer? Let us know in the comments below!

Thank You from Survival Organs


Happy and healthy Thanksgiving, everyone! I’m always thankful for still sticking around this great big world, having an awesome life and great friends.

Survival Organs Shipment Schedule

Thanksgiving is in three days, y’all! Can you believe it?

You know what that means.

It’s happening. Christmas is coming.

So if you’re planning on buying a Survival Organ for someone you love and want to get it before Hanukkah or Christmas order before these dates!


Keep in mind all of my organs come gift wrapped which means less work for you.

Fab Friday Finds #25


Why I Played Violent Video Games During Chemo

I recently read online advice (more like opinion) stating that during chemotherapy, cancer survivors should do their best to stay away from violent television, action movies and using militaristic metaphors in describing their treatment. This column continued on to encourage (women, mostly) to do their best to surround themselves with soft pretty things and eschew anything hard, loud or tough.


I can’t say I totally disagree but it left me puzzled. I enjoy watching MMA/UFC matches, my parents loved the action flicks of the late 1980s (I still enjoy the campier ones like Conan the Barbarian) and some of my favorite non-RPG video games are pretty violent.

I thought back to the winter of 2010 when I was going through chemo. For the SGT’s birthday, I surprised him with a copy of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. While I was too weak most days to do much beyond sit on the couch, my brain was begging for entertainment and distraction. Watching him play was just what I craved.

I was really angry with my cancer diagnosis. I did my best to hide that anger most days, but I could feel how seethingly mad I was on the inside. It didn’t help that so many people (incorrectly) assume that anger helps cancer grow.

Something happened while I was watching him play. I felt like my anger was slowly dissipating with every firefight he won. I became really invested in the plotline and watching him play through.

It was strange, a video game series that I normally didn’t care for was allowing a cathartic release to happen. It was letting me feel my anger, accept it and let go. That was something yoga never helped me do! It sounds so silly but a video game let me find the strength to keep soldiering on.

And now, almost three years since I finished chemo, I’m learning that not every cancer fighting guru’s word is law. I’m not the type of person who feels comfortable in a room lit with candles, filled with yoga mats and has whale music playing over the speakers. Lots of people are and that’s awesome…for them. For me? I prefer a dark paneled room with a crackling fire, a decanter full of scotch and a great fight on the screen.

Fab Friday Finds #24


It’s been snowing this week in Minneapolis! Since the weather outside is frightful, here are some delightful indoor things to check out.

  • I need to get back into Zentangling. I’ve enjoyed doing it before and the Mindful Drawer’s blog is reminding me just why I like it.
  • The New York Times summarizes why it seems like everyone has cancer:

    “The rhetoric about the war on cancer implies that with enough money and determination, science might reduce cancer mortality as dramatically as it has with other leading killers—one more notch in medicine’s belt. But what, then, would we die from? Heart disease and cancer are primarily diseases of aging. Fewer people succumbing to one means more people living long enough to die from the other.”

  • How irresistibly cute is Grace’s Favours tutorial for a little teddy bear in an Altoids tin? I’m imagining a tiny Survival Organs lymph node in an itsy bitsy hospital bed.

Have you found anything cool online? Share with me in the comments!