Thursday, July 25, 2013

Mirror Mirror -

I told it to Scott this way -

You've been blonde all your life, and your hair darkens with gray as you age. Then one day, on a dare, you shave your head. You shave your head during the coldest months of the year, yet come spring, you want hair - the work is no longer worth the reward, so you quit shaving and your hair begins to grow back in. But - it grows in bright red and the texture has totally changed. Wow! You look in the mirror and smile, laugh, and wonder what it will look like longer. And the longer it gets the more you look in the mirror, and rather than smiling now, you're just slightly disappointed, and you long for either the bald head or the hair you had prior to the shaving.

So one day, you've had enough. You visit a hair specialist who works with people in your situation. She gives you hope and color and form. As you walk from the rinsing sink, to the cutting chair, you catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror. You recognize this person - almost like he/she's risen from the dead. And then you realize it's you, and you cry tears of joy, finding the person you thought was gone for good.

Yup, did it, today. Happy dances all around. First world problem, but nonetheless, solved.

Cast off, arm bending; no boot, back walking; hair cut and colored, needs straightening; 
off to Philadelphia for a seminar this weekendy'ing.

Monday, July 22, 2013


Yesterday, in church, this thought was in the program:

"When our wagon gets stuck in the mud, God is much more likely to assist the man who gets out to push than the man who merely raises his voice in prayers - no matter how eloquent the oration. Pres. Thomas S. Monson put it this way: 'It is not enough to want to make the effort to say we'll make the effort. . . .  It's in the doing, not just the thinking, that we accomplish our goals. If we constantly put our goals off, we will never see them fulfilled.'"

I have been pushing and pushing and pushing these past 2 years. In my faith we're taught that faith, without works, is dead. We need to give our all, then God will in turn give us the strength to push forward. We're taught that life is about progress, not perfection. We're taught to work hard, put our faith in the Lord, and all will work out for our good. We're taught to "put our shoulder to the wheel [and] push along." I learned, "I am a child of God . . . teach me all that I must 'do' to live with him some day." Interestingly, the wording was changed from, "all that I must 'be'" to 'do,' about 40 years ago.

I am tired of this. I am tired of hanging on, "just a little longer." I am tired. And it's freakin' Monday! I cannot see any further ahead.

You know when you were little, and you had walked and walked and walked and couldn't walk anymore, and you looked up at your father and said, "Hold me Daddy"? That's where I'm at - 

Friday, July 19, 2013

Lord Forgive Me . . .

I went to physical therapy in a pissy mood this morning. My typical 30 minute walk took me 45 because of lack of stamina and foot pain, and when my PT gave me a 2 lb. weight to lift, and it hurt, I bemoaned the fact that 5 weeks ago I was lifting 20 lbs. I cussed to my physical therapist, telling him how much my life has changed since my cancer diagnosis and how my thoughts and actions have become tentative and methodical, rather than intuitive and casual.

My body - simple things like loss of balance, hearing, and vision, joint pain, hair growth (still no hair in my armpits), and the damn stress fractures and freakin' weight gain. I wondered, out-loud, when my body would ever return to "normal." He reminded me that I can't go back, just moving forward to a new normal - yet to be defined. However, my left arm is healing, and I am getting better range of motion, although I still can't blow my nose with two hands, scratch my back, or throw a ball.

My mind - called our George Foreman grill a Norman Rockwell grill to a friend yesterday, messed up math, forgot a couple of important things, I have to really stop and think through what I'm saying before making a request, and recalling words is really difficult when I'm tired or stressed - which is often these days.

My spirit - I must say I'm stronger here. I'm learning and growing. I'm kinda liking being still. Which worries me to some degree. I have a few things on my plate for fall, and I'm hoping to be strong enough to present my best self.

PT (Dave) and I talked about things we take for granted - memory, balance, fine-motor skills, communication abilities, word recall, stamina. And I whined, and he joked, and we laughed, and life goes on, and I will get better - whatever this word now means. I will.

And then I read this story, and recognize how truly blessed I am, how strong my body is, how thankful I am to be able to communicate, with only a pause to gather my thoughts, and how gracious the gift of a strong spirit. And mostly, how fortunate I am to be surrounded by people who care, who are patient, and who are supporting me as I grow.

I attended a breast cancer retreat a few weeks ago. 
These are the hands of cancer thrivers 
(we decided we don't like being called a survivor), supporting each other. 
I am very grateful for the support I am finding from this network of 
strong amazing women.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Shoe is on the Other Foot!

Scott is a snorer and most of the time a mouth-breather. We've talked several times about his deviated septum and surgery, and finally decided to have this surgery on Monday. His surgery was scheduled for 2pm, so we were at the hospital by 1:30, he was hooked up to an IV at 2pm, and then we waited, and waited, and waited, and waited, and finally, at 6:15pm, Scott was wheeled into surgery!

I've not looked forward to this time - Scott being a terrible patient (picture caged lion), and me, not a patient caregiver (I want to be left alone, so surely he does as well). So, the shoe has been on the other foot today (Scott has been the ideal caregiver, and them's some big shoes I have to fill), and ask me on Monday how we did at this change of positions in our partner dance.

As I've been thinking about the possibilities of me being the caregiver, and with Scott 10 years older than me, that is a possibility, I've gone over the Golden Rule, many times: Do unto others as you would have others do unto you. What does that exactly mean to me, to society?

Did you know that most cultures and religions have some variation of this theme? That theme is based on the idea of growth, safety, respect, and sharing. This is particularly important when we are in our most vulnerable times - birth, physical weakness, emotional frailty, death. We need safety, respect, and someone sharing in the carrying of our burden.

Interesting though, most cultures draw a line as to whom they want to treat with this reciprocity. I'll be good to you IF you'll be good to me. I'll respect you IF you respect me. Or, IF you believe the way I do, then I will respect you. I don't think my creator threw the IF into this idea of reciprocal behavior. I think I/WE/YOU/ME did that. Is it too Norman Rockwell'ian of me to think that we could all get along - all give and receive, without concern of what we would be giving or receiving in return, because we would get what we give? Or do we already get what we give? I'm not talking you believe the way I do, but accept the fact that we both believe differently, but different is dandy - I can still treat you with kindness.

Call it Karma: an action seen as bringing good or bad results, either in this life or in another life. Call it a childhood chant: what goes around, comes around. Or from a physics perspective - for each action there is an equal and opposite reaction. 

So, do I serve graciously, care gently, share generously because that is what I do, believe, or because I don't want to be hit with the bad Karma card? Does Scott's generosity come from his own goodness, or from his hope that IF he ever needs my simple kindness he'll receive it? Am I a kind giver because I want to be, or because I may be on the receiving end some day, and I want that receiving to be as good as I gave?

Why do you give? How do you receive? To whom do you offer up the Golden Rule? 

Monday, July 15, 2013

Another Hairy Tale

So, yesterday after church, a woman came up to me and asked if she could take a picture of me. I asked what, why? She knew I had cancer treatments all fall, winter, and into the spring. She said she'd been looking at me for the past hour, and she loved my hair - my cut, my curl, my color, and she wanted to take a picture, so the next time she got her hair "done," she could ask that it look like mine.

I told her sure, but warned her that my cut, curl, and color were extraordinarily expensive. She said, "You mean you haven't had it 'done,' since your cancer treatments." I told her "no," assuring her that what I had was "au naturale." She snapped away, I laughed -

Mark Twain once said, "I can live for two months on a good compliment." It may not be a two months' compliment, yet I found a smile and a tiny bit of grace.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Laid Off

June 30 was my last day of employment with LearningU. I've been there for 5 years, since its birth. When I crashed on my bike a month ago, I realized I was not healing, not being, not giving my body a chance to rest and recover. So, I asked to be laid off (I'm over HR and the Assistant to the President, so I basically RIF'd myself).

I've had 2 weeks of just being, and oh boy, I have needed this time, and I know I need more. With a huge cut in pay (unemployment is a drop in the bucket), Scott and I are working at being frugal. And I have no angst about where we are.

"When we come full circle there is the feeling that we have come to a familiar place, but we are somehow different." In many ways I'm exactly where I was last year at this time, yet in every way I am a different person than I was last July 12. And I don't want to "go back," I am ready to move forward - this circle is complete, now it's time to move on down the road.  

I'm not sure where I'm headed, but I've decided I won't worry myself about employment for a couple of months, and I think we'll be fine, financially, until January. However, easier said than done - if you had a life-changing experience, what would you do with it? The promptings I've been getting are - "Heal first, Help others heal." And, interestingly, "The world you have lived in no longer serves you." Yes, those exact words, I remember the place - 3 weeks ago; both phrases came to me. I'm contemplating on them now.

So here are a few thoughts that have helped me this past month as I'm reevaluating my place in this universe and reassessing where/who I want to be -

"Learning to let go should be learned before learning to get. Life should be touched, not strangled. You've got to relax, let it happen times, and let others move forward with it."
Ray Bradbury

"If you can't figure out your purpose, figure out your passion. For your passion will lead you to your purpose."
T. D. Jakes

"Be fearless. Have the courage to take risks. Go where there are no guarantees. Get out of your comfort zone even if it means being uncomfortable. The road less traveled is sometimes fraught with barricades bumps and uncharted terrain. But it is on that road where your character is truly tested. And have the courage to accept that you're not perfect, nothing is, and no one is - and that's OK."
Katie Couric

If you have a need for an editor - let me know. I'm good!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Life After -

This is the article I wish I had written - but I'm not far enough along to even know all of this. These pointers acknowledge where I'm at, and grant me the sanity of knowing I'm not alone.

Life After Breast Cancer

Life After Breast Cancer (transcript)

Those of us who have never had cancer most likely think that on the day treatment is finished, the breast cancer survivor can jump up and down for joy.  It's easy to think that when the treatment's over, cancer's over and – voilĂ ! – life returns to normal.  Reality, as is often the case, can be quite different.
Adjusting to life after having breast cancer can be a long, arduous road.  Many women struggle to return to life as they knew it before their diagnosis only to find that their definition of "normal" is no longer relevant. 
  • From the moment of diagnosis, through all the ups and downs of treatment, a patient operates in crisis mode. That becomes their standard way of functioning and switching to a day-to-day life without crisis can actually feel wrong.  There's always a nagging feeling they should still be doing something to continue the fight, but they're left without a plan. 
  • Along with cancer comes a heightened sense of vulnerability and a diminished sense of control.  Unfortunately, women continue to live with uncertainly and fear even after treatment.  Their questions – "Am I cured?  Will I have a recurrence?  Will I survive a recurrence?" – are unanswerable. 
  • Surgery, radiotherapy and, in particular, chemotherapy are physically grueling, leaving women with little emotional and physical energy to spare.  Many expect to recover rapidly, but find they feel unwell and exhausted for a frustratingly long time.  A general rule of thumb is that it takes approximately as long as the total duration of treatment to really feel well again.
  • The effects of the therapy don't necessarily stop when therapy stops.  Physical changes – the result of surgery or the side effects of radiotherapy and chemotherapy – can persist.
  • Finally, having any potentially life threatening experience often pushes people into intense introspection.  Some women cling to things that are familiar while others open themselves to new ideas and experiences.  Some women experience a diminished sense of self worth while others learn to value themselves more highly.  Some change in ways that strain their relationships and some in ways that strengthen them.  
Despite the challenges, it's possible to rebuild a really good life after breast cancer.  Read on for ways to do just that.

Quick Facts

  • When breast cancers are discovered at an early, "localized" stage and treated (the current standard of treatment for early-stage breast cancer is lumpectomy followed by radiation), there is a 97 percent rate of five-year survival.
  • Approximately 80% of women who are diagnosed with breast cancer are detected in the early stages of the disease.
  • Over two million breast cancer survivors are alive in the U.S. today.
  • 25 percent of women are likely to have a recurrence in their lifetime.
  • Approximately 33 percent of women with estrogen receptor positive breast cancer experience a recurrence.  Over half of these occur more than five years after surgery.
  • Chemoprevention drugs, like Tamoxifen, are proving to be very effective in preventing a recurrence of cancer in patients with hormone-receptor positive breast cancer. 
  • The primary cause of death in women who have had breast cancer is not cancer; it's cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death for women over 50.

Ask Your Doctor

This list of questions is a good starting point for discussion with your doctor. However, it is not a comprehensive list.
About reducing recurrence:
  • Can my cancer recur even if I've had a mastectomy or a lumpectomy?
  • What are the chances of my cancer coming back?
  • Are there things I can do to prevent a recurrence of my cancer?
    • Medications?
    • Lifestyle changes?
  • What cancer screening tests should I have and how often?
  • Am I at risk for any other cancers and what can I do to reduce that risk?
  • If I reach the five-year-mark and am still cancer free can my cancer still recur?
About follow-up care:
  • After I finish my treatment, what kind of follow-up care will I receive? For what length of time?
  • What symptoms should I be on the lookout for that might mean that my cancer has returned?
  • How will ongoing treatment affect me?
  • Are there any long-term side effects of my treatment of which I should be aware?
  • When can I begin a regular exercise program?
About breast reconstruction:
  • What is the average length of time from mastectomy to the end of breast reconstruction?
  • What types of reconstruction are available? What type is best for me?
  • What results can I expect from reconstruction?
    • Will it match my remaining breast?
    • Will it feel natural?
    • Will I have feeling?
  • What complications could occur?
  • How long is the average recovery time?
  • How much pain should I expect?
  • Will fluctuations in my weight affect my reconstructed breast?

Key Point 1

After surgery and immediate therapy for breast cancer, patients still have a lot of emotional and physical healing to do.  The effects of breast cancer and treatment will continue after the initial treatment ends. 
What defines a survivor?  And what kind of future can a breast cancer survivor expect?  Well, the answer to both questions depends.  Many factors contribute to how a woman feels, both emotionally and physically.
It's not uncommon for a woman to feel an emotional letdown once treatment is over.  The crisis is over, but a lingering sense of anxiety remains.  New stressors can enter the picture, too. Friends and family might have unrealistic expectations about how fast everyone concerned can return to their former lives.  Plus, after facing one of life's greatest challenges some woman find their "before" life goals no longer fit.  
Successfully negotiating the process takes courage, humor and a large measure of patience, starting with some realistic expectations. 
It's not possible to "flip a switch" and immediately go back to a former life at full throttle.  The body is in repair mode and women have to pace themselves.  In fact, it may take a year or more to regain a sufficient level of energy and sense of well being. 
While there's a huge relief in being done with treatment, it can also be frightening.  Women worry that cancer cells may remain and, without ongoing treatment, will be free to flourish and grow.  They may experience "separation anxiety" from their oncologist.  Every headache, cough or pain can take on ominous significance.  The truth is a regular schedule of follow-up visits with your primary care physician is fine, and perhaps even better for you.  According to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, there's no difference in long term outcomes between ongoing surveillance by an oncologist and a primary care physician.  And, a primary care physician's role is to take care of the whole person. 
In the first year of recovery, women need an extra level of comfort and reassurance in other areas as well. 
They must cope with the longer-term physical effects of treatment.  For instance, even after tissue sparing surgery or reconstruction, breasts usually look different than they did before.  They feel different after radiation.  Some women experience lymphedema and chronic pain in areas that have been radiated.  Mental changes, or "chemobrain," can result in problems with memory and the ability to focus.  And ongoing treatments to prevent the recurrence of breast cancer, like tamoxifen, can have their own set of effects.
Returning to sex and intimacy can be intimidating.  Some women have enormous concerns related to body image and self-esteem.   Some may have been thrown into early menopause and experience all the associated sexual issues such as vaginal dryness, reduced libido and much less or absent response in places in the body that used to be hypersensitive.  They have to relearn what works for them.
Life after breast cancer is, indeed, a different part of life and getting used to whatever it will be takes a while.  The journey's easier when women:
  • Are honest and open with their loved ones about what they feel
  • Lean on others for the help they need
  • Learn to care for themselves the way they care for others
 Key Point 2
Women work through issues related to breast cancer in different ways.  The best thing a woman who has had breast cancer can do is to take the same routine health maintenance steps recommended for all of us. 
After surviving breast cancer, most women find that "normal" is usually not what it was before. In fact, many speak about finding their "new normal."   One of the major issues in achieving that is developing a plan and a philosophy around fears that the cancer might recur.
Yes, women who have had breast cancer are at risk for getting it again.  However, while about 25 percent of women are likely to have a recurrence in their lifetime, it's important to realize that this also means that 75 percent of them won't develop cancer again.
Many factors contribute to breast cancer recurrence so the risk of recurrence is different for every woman.  Women should talk to their doctors about their personal prognosis.
The good news is that the trends are going in the right direction.  The breast cancer death rate is dropping as more women get regular mammograms and doctors detect cancers at earlier stages when treatments are most successful. Localized cancer that has not spread to lymph nodes or other locations has a 5-year survival rate of 97 percent. And today, chemoprevention drugs, like Tamoxifen, are proving to be very effective in preventing a recurrence of cancer in patients with hormone-receptor positive breast cancer. 
There are many steps women can take to improve their chances of staying healthy. 
The first is to fully understand their prognosis for recurrence, the potential long term side effects of their treatment and all associated options.  If a woman's history is suspicious for metastasis or long-term treatment side effects are expected to be significant, more intense monitoring may be recommended. 

Breast cancer survivors should be religious about adhering to a regular schedule for well doctor visits, including those for clinical breast exams and mammograms.  Research has shown that survivors who get a new primary tumor in either breast have the same prognosis as any other person with a new primary cancer, so early detection is crucial.  And, just like everybody else, breast cancer patients and survivors still need Pap smears as well as screening for other diseases. 

Most importantly, women must refocus on taking care of their general health.  It's a fact.  The primary cause of death in women who have had breast cancer is not cancer; it's cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death for women over 50.  If women work toward a healthy lifestyle – following a balanced diet and maintaining an appropriate weight, exercising regularly, not smoking, and getting appropriate sleep – they've got it all covered.  While healthy living can't guarantee a disease-free life, it goes a long way toward optimizing the odds.

Key Point 3 

Surveillance for lingering physical and emotional affects of breast cancer becomes part of a patient's lifelong routine.  But that does not mean she shouldn't live a full life.  

Breast cancer survivors will tell you that healing is not an event, but a journey with many stops and starts along the way. 
The primary concern of most survivors is to be reassured that the cancer won't recur – that they can, at some point, stop looking over their shoulders.  Five-year survival rates are the most frequently-published data because 50% of breast cancer recurrences develop in the first three years after diagnosis.  But, breast cancer can recur even after twenty years, and the well-known propensity for delayed onset of metastatic disease with breast cancer makes it a lifelong issue.  That means that women must learn to cope with a sense of uncertainty and lack of control that may diminish over time but never completely goes away. 
Other emotional issues can be almost as challenging.  As many as 30 percent of women who have had breast cancer suffer from prolonged anxiety and depression.  For some women, the breasts are an essential source of female self-image. Cancer of the breast may seriously affect their perception of identity.  They may experience feelings of decreased attractiveness and fear that their partners will abandon them.  Survivors can experience profound feelings of guilt.  Women worry that they may have done something to cause the disease, that they may have passed a genetic predisposition for the disease to their daughters, that they have been a burden to their caregivers and even that they survived the disease and others didn't.
Finally, continuing physical effects like problems with sexual function, fertility, pregnancy, menopause, and lymphedema can be draining.  A new study reports that although most breast cancer survivors do not experience long-term fatigue, one in five still feel tired up to ten years after diagnosis.
How do women get through it all and create a really good life for themselves?  Survivors who make the transition have several things in common.
  • They confide in someone, whether a partner, a friend or a professional, about their feelings.  People who keep their anguish to themselves tend to develop more symptoms and suffer more pain than those who share their feelings. 
  • They recognize (and internalize) that even really healthy people get breast cancer.  They are not to blame.
  • They recognize (and internalize) that their breasts do not equate to who they are. 
  • They allow themselves to grieve; then they get up, dust themselves off, and persevere.
  • They build stronger relationships their partners, their children and their friends through open and honest communication.
  • They only attempt to control what they can control and let the other stuff go.
Amazingly, some women come to believe their breast cancer was a "gift."  They find strength in themselves that they never knew existed.  They learn empathy for others to a degree they never expected.  They learn how much other people care about them.  They learn to embrace each day and live in the moment.  They seek and find new meaning in their lives.  In short, they triumph over breast cancer.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Slow Down -

I have a wise nephew. He is the father of 2 children, married, and on his way to law school. I've always been impressed with his quiet and humble personality. He is serious, intense, calm, and a deep thinker. He loves nature, loves his family, and loves his God. He posted this thought today, and I'm borrowing it here. It comes from the Book of Mormon, Isaiah Chapter 40: 
28 ¶Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding.
29 He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.
30 Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall:
31 But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.
I've been going through a faith crisis for a better part of my adult life. I find a moment of peace and comfort, and then I begin questioning, again, and I am back wondering about my theological beliefs and how they coincide with my own personal beliefs, and even more, wondering where I fit in this wacky Utah County culture. 
However -  after the health crisis I've been going through these past 20 months, and learning what I have about my body, mind, and spirit being totally in-synch, I've been pondering how my faith crisis could possibly be affecting my health. And, honestly - yeah, there's a connection. I can't put my finger on it, but listening to my heart these days tells me that I need to not only take a break from my full-time job, I also need to take a break from my faith angst, and heal, heal all of me, in due time. I need to lean on Isaiah 40:31 - I want to wait, listen, and allow this promise to operate in my life. Have faith in the process, have hope in the promise, have love for myself -

 1 Corinthians 13:13


Monday, July 8, 2013

I Have The Music In Me -

During my cancer treatments I didn't spend much time reading or much time watching TV/movies - I couldn't concentrate. However, most of the time my mind would not stop running - so I needed something to calm my inner savage beast - and that cure was music. I love, love, love music - it feeds my soul - it speaks to me like no other art.

Music has been my salvation for most of my life - whether it was making out to James Taylor, listening to Joni Mitchell with Uncle and my aunt Vonda, singing "Hey hey we're the Monkees," to the first MTV - the Monkees series, watching my parents dance to tunes from the '50s - including "Sentimental Journey," or teaching my children the Lawrence Welk closing tune - "Good night, sleep tight, and pleasant dreams to you, here's a wish and a hope that all your dreams come true, and now, 'til we meet again, adios, au revoir, aufweiderzen, good night!" I took piano lessons most of my growing up years, including a stint with Mrs. Packer who cut my fingernails because they tapped on the piano keys! Hymns have been my constant in my numerous faith crisis' and physical, emotional, and spiritual pain. I go to church to sit near my grandchildren and to sing hymns. Tyler and Jenna both play instruments, and their desire to perform with a group they called, "Blue Roots," made this momma proud.

In 1999, at a "Live at the Read Leaf" concert, 3 music lovers met and decided it was time to introduce the Utah masses to good acoustic local music. We organized the Timpanogos Singer Songwriter Alliance (TSSA), decided to put on a day-long music festival, asked around for venue possibilities, and ended up putting on a 4 day festival in conjunction with The Freedom Festival in Provo, UT. We ended up with an amazing network of musicians and venues, putting on concerts weekly in various locations along the Wasatch Front for most of 10 years. TSSA served its purpose, bringing musicians to audiences and audiences to musicians, providing opportunities for collaboration and networking - and most importantly - the gift of being able to listen to good music, aaah, so refreshing. There are still some off-shoots of TSSA still going on - Velour in Provo, The Homestead Concert Series in Midway, the music for The Timpanogos Storytelling Festival, and The Rooftop Concert Series in Provo (all UT), and numerous house concert series.

I developed some amazing friendships over the years with these musicians. Musicians are a breed of their own, and I was blessed to be a part of this group. See, although I don't perform, I do listen, and every musician needs an audience. In the music circle I was known as someone who would give honest feedback on lyrics, music, vocal abilities, sound, and I did develop that critical ear. Happily, I only offended a few for my "brutal" honesty! It's been awesome to see the music scene grow over the years, see musicians go from local, to regional, to national, to international - what a treat to watch Branden Campbell of Neon Trees on the Today Show last year and know I knew him when he played blues guitar and bass on a local wooden stage.

So during my cancer treatments it was a joy to have musicians who I love and admire come to my house to perform - how nice to know I have friends, who are musicians, who understand my love and need.

Imagine the joy I received when I got that video "get well" card from Mike Peters of The Alarm and Big Country, then the opportunity to write a post for his Love, Hope, Strength foundation. I thank Russ Kendall, one of the original TSSA founders, for his knowing how much these gifts would mean to me. Now imagine my surprise and absolute delight when on Saturday I received a text from Russ asking if Scott and I would join him and a few other friends for a Sunday evening barbecue, with Mike Peters. Mike's generosity was amazing, and he is a beautiful soul. Scott and I labeled last night as a golden evening, and it filled me like nothing has in quite some time.

The love of music has now passed on to the next generation - Tyli plays the piano, Madison sings, Samantha dances, and Tempest - oh goodness, she can sing to Joni Mitchell, the Louvin Brothers, and just learned Edward Sharpe's, "Home!" I can't sing, I can't dance, my piano is at Tyler and Meili's home, but Folk Alley, Pandora, and a cabinet full of CDs get plenty of playtime. Give me good music any day - better than chocolate!

Mike, Ronda, Scott

 Mike, Ronda, Russ

S - Cast off, trying to get those fingers moving once again, watch out blog!