Monday, December 31, 2012


My life motto is these 2 phrases: "Be fair, Be true, Do no harm." And, "Sometimes we're so busy existing we forget to live." I try to mold my yearly resolutions around these.
I do believe this life is about progress, and making and keeping resolutions/goals is a way for me to be in check with myself - "Am I moving?" 

Last December 31, I decided that my New Year's Resolutions were these:

  • Take care of my body - get my back healthy, eat healthier, and push myself.
  • Don't complicate things (Let it be) - I can certainly complicate my life, and the lives of others by presenting options A, B, C, D - and then just in case none of those work, offering to rethink, or do it myself! 
  •  From Philippians 4:11, "I have learned, in whatever state I am, to be content." (It is what it is)
  • Reach out - even if it's uncomfortable. 
  • Pee when I have to pee. 
In August, as I was making some big decisions and praying for direction, I was touched with the prompting that I needed another year to take care of my body - and then in September, shortly after my diagnosis, I added this scripture from Mark 9:24 to my set of resolutions:  "Lord, I believe, help my unbelief."

Today I will get a new planner, review & reminisce as I look through 2012 planner, and I will make resolutions about what, where, when, who, how for 2013. I just may continue with the ones above, add, rearrange, or check one off as now a habit, rather than an intentional action.

However, I do have a few in mind:
  • Grow my hair out
  • Shave my legs
  • Spend less time, and money, at the doctor's/hospital
  • Sleep without drugs
  • Eat at Chuck-A-Rama, touching every utensil
  • Leave hand sanitizer at home
  • Play in the dirt
I'm always game for being pushed in my thoughts and actions, I believe resolutions are to be made and kept, not broken, and I'll take some constructive criticism as I set my intentions for this new year.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Cumulative Chemo

I had this beautiful blog ready to post, except that I still need to type it. And after visiting with my oncologist today I won't be because:

My body is feeling the cumulative affects of chemotherapy which manifests itself in these ways:
  • My hands ache as if I had arthritis - from my wrists to my fingertips.
  • My fingertips are numb and my nails ache, and I should begin losing those nails any time. Meaning it hurts to type, with flat fingers or fingertips.
  • I am still anemic, although "better" than last time. 2 weeks ago I was at 28, today I was at 30. Normal for a woman is 38, and blood transfusion worthy is 25. 
  • I must be careful going up and down stairs, getting up from a seated position or bending down and then standing up quickly - lightheadedness, dizzyness, and watch for seizures! 
  • Chemo brain is real - I have a hard time remembering, coming up with the correct words, and thinking clearly. 
  • I am shaky, unsteady, and weak - I now have driving restrictions! 
  • I could sleep all day and still be exhausted at bedtime. 
  • I have heartburn/reflux which may be causing an ulcer (oh, we have meds for that). 
  • My vision is mildly blurry. 
  • Chemo #7, due on January 2, may be postponed a week if my hands don't heal. 
Prayers and positive energy, please. And now I'm off to sleep, already missed my morning nap! 

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Taking It Down

In the "olden days" I would decorate the house for Christmas on about December 10 -15, and take it all down on December 26. Putting up and taking down were a chore, and while Tyler and Jenna would help putting up, the taking down was horrid, and the family was always "busy." Taking down Christmas used to mean taking 20 strands of lights off a dead and dry tree/s, and then removing decorations from every room in our house, plus whatever was decorating the outside of our home. Some items could be thrown away, like the giant bowl and garland of Mandarin oranges with clove infusions and lemon leaves, dried pomegranates, and star anise. Other things needed to be recorded, such as the decorations the kids had made (I still have many of them) and the decorations received from friends.

It would take me all day to remove these decor, then another day to clean and put up winter decorations. What? Yeah, winter decorations! These included snowmen, snowflakes, the dolls I'd made - complete with sled, and the antique winter ephemera collected over the years. And of course, we'd be finding the forgotten decorations for another 6 months.

Yesterday I slept most of the day, so I'm a day behind. But with the help of trusted Kristee, Christmas will be down and put up in about an hour, and the house will be winterized - wreath on the front door, in about 10 minutes. I can't say I miss a tree or the work entailed in making the home a Modern Display showcase.
I'm content - 

Wednesday, December 26, 2012


Today is the 9 year anniversary of my first date with Scott. It was a snowy day, just like today. I was worried about going out with him - 10 years older, I was newly divorced, he was a neighbor of my parents, and since we were living with my folks, I didn't want to wrap them up in any of my dating, I was never getting remarried, and I would not date a Mormon boy/man, and on and on.

But - I went out with him anyway. We went to Mimi's, where he ordered a Diet Pepsi and a salad - which I thought was odd for a man. He had on a baby blue cable knit sweater that made his blue eyes shine. I wore a pair of black pants and a rust-colored sweater. We went from Mimi's to miniature golfing. I hadn't been in years. I didn't want to embarrass myself, and I was a little nervous. From there we went to the movie, "Cheaper by the Dozen" with Steve Martin. It was cute, Scott laughed and laughed.

Some highlights of the evening:
Scott talked about his years as an alcoholic and how AA was so important to him. I have a wallet-sized card of the Serenity Prayer and the Twelve Steps. I pulled that out of my wallet, it definitely made our conversation easier.
When we were golfing, a few strands of hair covered my eyes, he pushed the hair away - gently.
He stepped behind me, and repositioned my hands on the golf club, I got a hole-in-one.
After the movie, we went outside, in the still snowing evening. He had parked his car a ways away from the other cars - to protect his car. We had quite a walk, downhill. I put my arm through his, so I wouldn't slide. He later told me that was part of his plan!
I didn't fall in love with him that evening. He was nice, it was a nice date, but that was all. I left for Alabama the following day for a week and to do some job hunting.

Our second date, a few days into January, "Cold Mountain" was playing. I knew Scott like the Civil War, and I called him and invited him to go with me to the movie. Now there are at least 3 versions of what happened prior to and during that date. However - my version is: there was something between us. I didn't want there to be anything between us! I put my hand on his shoulder and told him I would be leaving Utah in the spring, heading to Alabama or DC to work. He took my hand, and said he was sorry to hear that, that he was hoping we could "get to know" each other.

Our third date was spent making out in my car, up Provo Canyon. We've been inseparable since.

This morning, we went for a walk, went to breakfast, he's off to buy a snow blower, and I'm off to bed, again. Lots of things have changed over the past 9 years, boy, have they. However - he still likes Diet Pepsi and salad (as do I), I get lost in his blue eyes, we watch movies together, we try to live by the Serenity Prayer and the Twelves Steps, and we occasionally find time to "make out." I'm grateful I took his arm that evening - he is truly a gentle man, and I'm blessed that we've had these 9 years to get to know each other.

Monday, December 24, 2012


This weekend I finally learned that the best way to care for myself is to rest. Rest meaning lay down, cuddle up with a warm blanket and a good book, and read until I go to sleep. 2  naps on Saturday, 2 on Sunday, and 1 today (plus 10pm bedtimes) are what carry me through my days.

I'm beginning to recognize (3 months into this journey) that I need more than a power nap or a rest-stop shut-eye. I need sleep, deep sleep. Makes sense, my body is sick, and bodies heal the most during our sleeping times.

As I've been listening to Christmas songs this season, I'm surprised at how many songs have the words "sleep," "slumber," "rest," "still," "relax," in the lyrics. There's a message here I need to pay attention and remember -

This has funky graphics, but the music will definitely bring you relaxation! 

May you find sleep, slumber, rest, and time to be still this week - Merry Christmas - 

Friday, December 21, 2012

New Beginnings

So, doesn't look like the world is coming to an end, today. However, seasonal changes, the Solstices, do give us a chance to end one chapter of our lives and begin another. I do believe that we all have the opportunity to have numerous endings and beginnings in our lives.

From my friend this morning, "This is a week rich in deep and unexpected changes. Some beginnings, but more endings. It brings sadness and a curiosity about the future. The answer to getting through it seems to be steeping in it fully, and feeling every single thing. That takes the fear away."

Yes, life brings us unexpected changes - it brings us questions, and we can find the answers, if we are curious enough to search.  

Photos of my Henna art and artist; thank you, sweet Malissa, for steeping with me -  

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Chemo & Music

  Today's post started out to be a chemo pictorial. 
Scott took shots of what happens during chemo - beginning with putting in my port, and ending with removing the port, with 3.5 hours of chemo.

I came home, napped, Nick came over for dinner, and then the doorbell rang. What a surprise and a treat. I've been involved (as an audience member and promoter) in the local music scene for about 12 years, and tonight, the local music scene came to me. An hour or more of beautiful music by The Lower Lights, what a treat. Thanks Jenna, Scott, Ryan, Paul, for putting this together. Thanks Nick, for the pictures. Your generosity amazes me.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Daring - Greatly

I was going to write, in detail, about today's chemotherapy treatment, #6, but it is causing me too much anxiety. Maybe another day.

In the meantime I have enjoyed reading and listening to Brene Brown and her Daring Greatly messages. This is taken from her website.

First round of cutting chemo hair (mid-Oct.)

1. Joy comes to us in moments—ordinary moments.
We risk missing out on joy when we get too busy chasing down the extraordinary. Scarcity culture may keep us afraid of living small, ordinary lives, but when you talk to people who have survived great losses, it is clear that the most profound joy we experience is in those small moments that are so easy to overlook.  
My intention: I'm going to slow down enough to recognize the joy in these moments. 

2. Practice gratitude for what we have.
When I asked people who had survived tragedy how we can cultivate and show more compassion for people who are suffering, the answer was always the same: Don’t shrink away from the joy of your child because I've lost mine. Don’t take what you have for granted—celebrate it. Don’t apologize for what you have. Be grateful for it and share your gratitude with others. 
One quote that I heard over and over was simply: "When you honor what you have, you’re honoring what I’ve lost.”
My intention: To let the people I love know how grateful I am to have them in my life. I'm also joining the #26Acts movement started by Ann Curry. 26 random acts of kindness to honor the lives lost in Newton. 

3. Don’t squander joy.
We can’t prepare for tragedy and loss. When we turn every opportunity to feel joy into "I better not let my guard down and get too happy - that's inviting disaster" we actually diminish our resilience.
Yes, softening into joy is  uncomfortable. Yes, it’s scary. Yes, it’s vulnerable. But every time we allow ourselves to lean into joy and give in to those moments, we build resilience and we cultivate hope. The joy becomes part of who we are, and when bad things happen—and they do happen—we are stronger.
My intention: To lean into joy. To remember that traumatizing myself with too much news or letting my imagination run wild doesn't create empathy - it generates fear and blame. I'll try to remember that joy requires vulnerability and that if I want more joy (and I do) I need to stay openhearted.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Photos and Lessons

I've mentioned before that some days I miss me. You know, I try to not look back, to live in the moment, to move forward in peace. But Christmas makes me look back. I've been looking at photos of years gone by. This past fall my goal was to take all the pictures out of the photos albums, some 22 albums, digitize them, give them to the kids, then file those pictures in a more manageable and space-saving way. Didn't happen. But as I've been looking at the photos I've realized:

1. Life has been so good.
2. Life has been filled with adventures, less-traveled roads.
3. Living in Alabama was blissful - all 2 1/2 years, and if I could turn back time, it would be to this time-period, this place.
4. My kids have been my best friends.
5. Family and friends - not landscapes, are the key figures in all the photos.
6. As with yesterday's post, photos are an amazing record.
7. I used to be artistic!
8. We have met some beautiful people who have become the most beautiful friends.
9. It is so important to develop your talents, and then share them.
10. Starting over is hard.
11. New beginnings are exciting, even when they're scary.
12. It's all about the stories - I love a good story. 

I sat with 8 chaplains a few months ago, and we worked through a "dying" scenario, where we wrote 20 things in 5 categories on slips of paper. As we got to different points in the story, we gave up something from a category or two. At the end of this story, we were left with 3 slips of paper, which was supposed to represent the things we valued the most - in this life. My remaining 3 slips of paper included Photos, Family, Memories.

It wasn't too soon after this that I discovered my tumor.

Pictures from 2004