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10,227 Days of Amanda

Scene from… wasn’t it yesterday? When Amanda Michele Freaking Evans said, “Once upon a freaking time-ME!”

Once upon a time, 28 years ago TODAY at 10:24 am, THIS. sweet little bean popped her little redhead out, looked around and around, most likely wondering where the party was, cuz she was an ENFP from day 1. And thus began the party that we call life but I call my sweet Amanda Panda Bear. I didn’t even count her fingers or toes when I caught first glimpse when nurse Holly handed her to me: She’s perfect. And it was true. I still don’t know how many fingers in toes she has but it just doesn’t even matter. She is, always has been, and always will be the bundle of JOY and adventure she was at first breath, and never ceases to take my breath away like it did that day. Still wrapped around that tiny little finger. Cheers and happy birthday to my sweet Amanda, always one of my three reasons, the one who broke this young Mama Mia in, the one who showed M&M the ropes and pretty much narrated their lives till they realized they didn’t “hafta obey manda”. What a trip these past 10,227 days have been with you in my life #rorytomylorelai. I just want to say how fun every stage of you has been. Even the emo raccoon eyes years. But this. The shift that has happened since you became a mama too, the precious friendship we get to share, is the funnest adventure yet. Happy birthday, baby, baby! Mai Mai loves you!

One. Year. Ago. Today.

That time the hubcap & i were in Maui celebrating our 30th anniversary and we awoke on our last morning to THIS emergency alert (read bottom to top) on our phones:

The false alarm aka “OOPS” text didn’t come for 38 minutes. What did I do during that 38 minutes? I called my kids to tell them what was going on, to hear their voices, and to tell them i love them, just in case. And we banded with other travelers who like us had no idea even where to seek shelter. We turned on CNN. We searched Twitter. Somebody was Googling about the alert system and found out that from the alert the estimate is 12-13 minutes before impact. There was a 7 year old girl crying her eyeballs out that I will never be able to erase from my memory not would I want to. I will carry her with me and lift her up the rest of my days. I can’t imagine what she is going through trying to process cuz I know what I’m going through trying to process.

I made this video right after we got the second text. I was still shaking in my boots. Also I may have peed a little. After I finished the video and that #bigwave beer, we packed up, I stopped by the pool and gave the rest of our beers to some peeps sitting in the hot tub and said, “It was a good day not to die with you,” & they gave me one of the best standing O’s I’ve ever received as I dropped that mic & “left the building”. Then we headed to the airport. We swapped war stories with fellow shocked and awed travelers about what are the odds we would be in Hawaii when this happened and I won pretty much hands down, which basically meant that everybody kinda blamed me a little and told me to let them know when and where I’m going at all times so they can avoid any further scary shit like that going down ever again. I remember Dan Rather posting on his Twitter that he felt like Hawaii oughta buy us all at least a drink on the house… but I don’t think Hawaii got the memo cuz I didn’t get a free drink.

So I just wanted to put it out there to #Maui #hawaii the universe that I’m still open to Hawaii making this right. I wouldn’t mind one bit if they wanted to fly me back to buy me that drink. Just please not in hurricane season cuz the odds are not always with me, as being one of the 1 in 8 and getting breast cancer not to mention being in Hawaii one year ago today.

 

 

Hello 2019. (Don’t let the door knock you on your ass like you tried to knock me 2018)

Goodbye Felicia
AKA 2018
–I’m still in the house.

But nice try or three. 
False incoming missile text,
Broken write pinky…

I am the black knight.
“‘Tis but a scratch” and I don’t
Mind bleeding on you.

#postcardfromtheroad #newyears2019 #haiku#becausetheworldneedsmorepoetry

Just a girl and her vision board. The whole fam dam did them together this year, which was the best twist ever not to mention newest holiday tradition. I’m pretty excited about this one/this year. My word for 2019 is focus and this one is the most focused vision board for me to date. Did you do a vision board or choose a word or set intentions for 2019? Share below and I will put your word/intentions on my prayer/meditation wall and we can lift each other up and cheer one another on.

#postcardfromtheloveshackbabyyeah #focus #visionboard #intentions #2019

Real Talk about Self Talk

I’m not one to intentionally stand gazing at myself in a mirror. I don’t exactly avoid them but I don’t seek them out either unless I think there’s a popcorn kernel stuck in my teeth or something. Sometimes I’m brushing my teeth and I look up and surprise the hell outta myself when I catch my own eyes watching myself brush my teeth. I am one to talk to myself. All day every day. Since I work from home, alone, it would be a lonely day if I didn’t. Last night I had one extra piece of pizza and one extra glass of wine and this morning I was a little mad at myself and I was saying some not so kind things to myself about my lack of self control. (It’s the practice of mindfulness more than body image that I’m talking about here, but then again, it’s also about the fact that I complain to myself about the blueberry muffin top I’ve accumulated since the operation out damn golf ball and the whole she-bang ectomy I had a couple years ago not to mention turning 50.) But then I happened to catch my countenance in the bathroom mirror as I was heading to the kitchen to refill my coffee cup. It kinda stopped me in my tracks and I actually had a little convo with that girl in the mirror, cutting her a little slack, jack. I think I said something like, “Hey. Why so downcast? I don’t agree with all your choices, but then again, I don’t always agree with all mine either and I get a little beside myself sometimes too. Chin up buttercup. I get you. I got you.” Do you talk to yourself? How’s your self talk? What’s the last thing you said to the person in your mirror? #postcardfromtheloveshackabyyeah #girlinthemirror #selftalk #bekind #bebesideyourself #getyourownback

This Is Me

I love this old pic of me. 2nd grade Joules. 7 or 8 year-old Joules. Circa de 1973. Some high school kid who was taking a photography class took it after school one day, and then gave me a b&w 8X10 of it. Which I keep hanging in my prayer/meditation closet. This is one of the past me’s that I most relate to. Besides the obvi aerodynamic chest and little belly peeking out;) This was little latchkey Joules. Ragamuffin me. Shortly after one of my first real haircuts. (When I was born, I had nothing but peach fuzz on the old bean until I was 2. My mom taped bows to my head so peeps would know I was a girl, which I am told, even though I already know this about myself, that I wasn’t into and promptly ripped out. Once it finally started growing I don’t know if my mom ever took me to cut it. All I know is at one point I remember it being long enough to sit on it.) It’s the year we moved to a new city and we were in between homes at these apartments across the street from my Dad’s cash register biz that he started when we moved there. It’s the year my Mom went back to work, with my Dad, to help him start the company. It’s the last year I was good at math. I killed it on the times tables. Mostly cuz my teacher, Mrs. Dowd, gave us candy every time we could recite another times table correctly. It’s also the year I got a D in handwriting. Mrs. Dowd said I “write like a doctor”. Which little Joules took as a compliment and replied: I know. I know. My brain just goes so fast that my hand can’t keep up #geniusproblems. It’s the year my baby sister, Jennie was born. Which is the year I wrote my first poem, a love poem, about Jen: “Jennie is a slobber slot./Jennie cries an awful lot./But even so I love her.” Didn’t quite have the Haiku form down nor could I hang with the rhyme scheme all the way through to the end yet. But that little ragamuffin was a poet and she knew it. She knew she was gonna grown up and be a writer. She’d known she was gonna grow up and write books ever since kindergarten, the second after she closed the book from the first one that she read all by herself. That girl knew she was gonna grow up and be a creative. I mean, look at that outfit. Those pants though. My mom made them for me and I built that whole look around them. My mom used to sew most of my clothes way back in the day, but it super looks like ditching the bows wasn’t my only way of expressing myself with my own wardrobe choices. That born to be wild child had artist written all over her. Way before the world ever tried telling her much ado about who to be or not to be. Footloose and fancy me. Free. I love that little rebel.

Do you remember who you were before the world started trying to put it’s cookie cutter stamp on you? What did little you daydream about? Do you have a pic that reps who you are today? How does this past you inform today you? And on the other hand, if you were hanging out with this past you, instead of looking at a picture, what would you say to little you? What would past you say to now you. Share below. I’d love to see where your photograph take you. #writingprompt

The Art of the Breath

Breathe.

That’s my word for 2018. Whoa. Did you see what I did there? Threw down 2018 on the 6th day of the year like I’ve been writing it all my life. Like I own the place or something. Usually I’m erasing the previous year till spring kicks in to thaw me out from being all frozen in time writing down last year’s date. But I guess kicking off this #happynewyear of 2018 in Maui helps. After all, they say this place is magical. This time, turns out they are right. But this post isn’t about validating them. They probs wrote down 2017 this morning. In pen. And had to scribble it out. Or wad it up and throw it away. That’s just one of the reasons I heart pencils. Takes the pressure off from having to be so perfect on the first try all the damn time cuz they have the superpower of erasing your mistakes. But I digress. This post isn’t really about how freaking amazing pencils are either. Even though I will never understand why they say pencils are only #2. Talk about #fakenews. I don’t even know what writing impliments they say is #1, but all I can say about that, is unless it’s a purple crayon, they are leading the masses astray if they rank pens superior to pencils. But back to my point.

Breathe.

According to @MerriamWebster, my fave dictionary peeps not to mention the most fun dictionary to follow on @Twitter, breathe means: “to draw air into and expel it from the lungs respire; broadly to take in oxygen and give out carbon dioxide through natural processes”. I’m probs not telling you anything you don’t already know about breathing there since you’ve been swapping out the oxygens for the carbon dioxides 24/7 since you’ve been born. Which oughta make us all experts by now. Except, you know how most of us only use about 1/10 our brain? I’m wondering if breathing is the same? Cuz…

Breathe. Also means:

  • to blow rainbows, I mean, softly
  • to LIVE, which probs points out the superpower importance of breathing more than anything
  • to pause and rest before continuing
  • to feel free of restraint; ie., Joules needs room to breathe
  • to permit passage of air or vapor, which seems to be a kind thing to do for others
  • of wine to develop flavor and bouquet by exposure to air #youhadmeatwine but also ^^
  • to become perceptible be expressed; a personality that breathes and that distinguishes his/her work; ie., Joules Evans, I mean, see how important breathing is?

Breathe.

The thing about breathing. It’s the most natural thing, but I forget to do that a lot. It’s a gift, but since it’s an automatic function that I forget is being given to me every single breath, I forget to be grateful and say thank you for most of the breaths I am given (and that makes me feel like a bit of an asshole when I think about it). When I do think about breathing, though, breathing somehow curiously becomes the most difficult thing to do. Also, for some also curious reason, I find myself holding my breath all the damn time, and mostly when I need to breathe the most. All I can say about all that, is thank God my heart doesn’t depend on me to remember to beat.

Breathe.

Funny how I already have it tattooed on my write hand in Chinese #foreshadowingmuch? But for real. I got it a few years ago after the shrink I used to see prescribed it to me. It was a pretty good Rx. I’ve been practicing it ever since. Even though I can’t read Chinese or anything. The hubcap gave me a pretty hard time about getting a tattoo in Chinese cuz what if the tattoo artists punked me and permanently inked something ridiculous on me? Imagine how vindicated I felt when a girl from Shanghai came up to me on the aerial cable car up to Masada during my spiritual pilgrimage to Israel in 2013. #vindicatedAF I don’t want to point any fingers and say the hubcap has any #trustissues or anything, but I also thought it’s worth pointing out that I don’t have any. When it comes to getting tatted up.

Breathe.

Inhale. Exhale. That’s what my tattoo literally says. #instructionmanual #rtfm

It’s all about flow. In breathing as well as writing. And I am a writer after all. Who breathes. So that’s my tell of the importance of the matter. And don’t we all just want to matter? To leave some kind of a beauty mark that we were here? My friend Barbie and I used to talk about a quote we both dug that has become a mantra for me, toward that end: “Aspire to inspire before you expire.”

Inspire.

Funny how one of the definitions of inspire is to breathe or blow into or upon; or to infuse (something, such as life) by breathing. That kinda took my breath away when Merriam-Webster tweeted that definition of breathe while I was researching my word for 2018.

Breathe.

First the inhale. Besides the obvious oxygen, it got me thinking about what inspires me. Cuz if I wanna blow rainbows, I mean, if I aspire to inspire before I expire, I gotta be inspired myself. Which means I gotta be intentional about that kinda air that I breathe too. Some of the things I jotted down that help me be/stay inspired: prayer and meditation, creative community, immersing myself in a 52 week challenge (that I started when I turned 52 this past September) to consume art by inspiring female artists or about inspiring female protagonists, travel and adventures, poetry, drum circles, learning to play my uke, being in my writing zone, creating…

Then the exhale. Besides brushing my teeth cuz the carbon dioxide, it got me thinking about the beauty mark that I was here that I’m hoping to leave here someday. Which means I gotta be intentional about my writing and making of the stuff I’m trying to leave behind. Which is why the inhale is so damn important and not to be neglected, and why breathe is my word for 2018. This is going to be a year of create #everydamnday. Here’s some of what’s brewing: Finish my Route 66 book, record Audible version of SHAKEN in my own voice, publish a book of my poetry, Alice in Wonderland writing workshop/book, year of living sincerely VLOG, homeschool memoir, my work with Grace project/short film or mini-doc/book, meditation training, Qi Gong training, life coaching?, and my someday dream of my own studio called St. Udio’s…

Breathe.

That’s my word for 2018. What’s yours? It would make me happy to write your name and word on my prayer/meditation wall and lift you up this year if you’d like. Comment below or shoot me a text or email.

 

 

Me & My Mini Me (a short history of some of the videos we made)

August 22, 2012 Before the VLOG we just texted back and forth and I superpower wish I had those old videos, but this is the first time I VLOGGED about Maya.

2 We had a thing about sock monkeys. This is a video I made for her September 14, 2012

3 Sept. 15, 2012 that time i interviewed Maya for my VLOG in which she shares her superpower: that smile. aka the day when Maya stole everybody’s hearts on my VLOG (not to mention the heart of my VLOG and the VLOG itself).

4. Mason Arts Festival Sept. 17, 2012

5. Oct 2, 2012 the first time Maya hijacked my vlog and i knew it was time to dust off the old resume and start hitting the pavement looking for a new job

6. Oct 4, 2012 that time I literally had to picket even for a cup of coffee when my sweet mini me Maya the Magnificent hijacked my VLOG for the Taking Down Cancer segment of the show, for a second time. Despite the loss of my non-existent wages for my VLOG “job” these were my most fave times in the history of my VLOG not to mention some of the most precious moments of my life.

7. Oct. 10, 2012 Just another time Maya took over my VLOG—had me dragged away even, LMFAO!

8. Nov. 30, 2012 Maya’s laugh on #helium. Best. Sound. EVER. in the history of the world.

9. Dec. 10, 2012 Maya aka the Claw Whisperer

10. feb 5, 2013 Hijacked again! Maya takes over my VLOG and takes down cancer #mayacraft style

11. feb 17, 2013 that time maya came with me to get my dragonfly tattoo and her mama brought mimosas.

12. March 7, 2013. that time i ran the jerusalem half marathon with maya in my heart and her name on my shirt.

13. march 20, 2013. That time i prayed for maya at the wailing wall.

14. April 29, 2013 Maya, her purple crayon, and my purple mane.

15. April 30, 2013 Maya’s Magnificent Idea: #RAK the best kinda antidote to random acts of violence.

16. July 12, 2013 Like Mama like Maya

17. August 10, 2013 that time Maya’s magnificent mama jumped on the bed to wake Maya and her sister Anna up for me.

18. Aug 20, 2013 Pink & Blues sisters. once upon a time when we got our hairs colored together.

19. Aug 26, 2013 my rainbow sock monkey twin my mini me gave me

20. feb 24, 2014 reality bites. my fist attempt at spoken word. i wrote this after my friend vanessa died. she is the inspiration for my vlog. that same week maya’s mama and i went to the funeral of a little girl. this kills me to watch it. missing v. but also knowing that i could say it all again with maya on my mind. i’m wearing the stupid cancer tshirt maya gave me.

21. april 14, 2014 the flight of lovely dragonflies That time Maya, our friend Suleika Jaouad, and I were conspiring to do an epic event for The Dragonfly Foundation. Cancer doesn’t exactly cooperate, and the event didn’t go down but damn we had fun dreaming. Suleika is a beautiful soul who has dealt with the same kinda #AML#fuckcancer that Maya dealt with. She chronicled her battle in her “Life Interrupted” column for the The New York Times. And won an EMMY for her NYT video series. Maya adored her. She was one of her sheroes. And is one of mine.

22.  June 1, 2014 A video I made for Maya cuz URANUS gas. In which she (and savannah) once again hijacked the taking down cancer segment of the show by kicking cancer’s uranus gas.

23. June 13, 2014 That time I caught up with Suleika and 1)score an EMMY 2) prove the detour sometimes IS the destination 3) muse upon the notion of sprinkling kindness.

24. Aug 23, 2014 That time Maya and I did the ALS #icebucketchallenge and Anna Awesome Sauce dropped almost all of the ice freaking cold water on my head!

25. Oct 14, 2014 This is one of my faves. Just a day in the life. Maya and me. Goofing off and sending videos back and forth.

26. Feb 16, 2015 At the Dragonfly gala with Maya and crew

27.  Feb 24, 2015 just a video exchange with maya once when she was bored in the waiting room at the dr’s office.

28.  Pie Day 2015 Maya’s not in this one but I did it for Dragonfly.

29. Sept 1, 2015 Dear Cancer, a spoken word retrospective on my 7 year cancerversary, in which I speak of my purpose of being a cancer activist, especially when it picks on kids.

30. July 4, 2016 A taking down cancer I made with Yoss and Freddy for Maya shortly after she went back to the hospital for her 3rd damn battle with AML.

31. July 15, 2016 Another video exchange with Maya while she was at Children’s in the thick of her third damn battle with AML, in which she gave me a tour of her room!

32. Another taking down cancer video I made for Maya, and also I gave her a reciprocal tour of my balcony.

33. July 18, 2016 A video I made to send Maya with a bunch of my friends at a local storytelling event in Cincinnati called Bespoken Live. It’s an evening of crafted storytelling riffing off a four letter word. Kinda like The Moth. The word of the evening was FREE.

34. Aug 11, 2016 A video my Redheads and I made for Maya in which we take down cancer in a pool and then Amanda sings the Cancer is a Bitch song she wrote for me.

35. August 14, 2016 Maya and I made this taking down cancer video when I visited her at Children’s Hospital, right before she went to St. Jude for the 3rd bone marrow transplant.

36.  sept 12, 2016 a play it forward challenge video I made for Maya’s magnificent mama and Maya

37.  March 16, 2017 just a video dave and i made for maya cuz we lava her

38. Oct. 8, 2017 And last but not least, the video I made for her at the queen bee 1/2 marathon this year, which i ran in memory of her.

 

Sometimes The Stars Align… and Sometimes The Sky Falls

[I am reposting this #tbt in honor and sweet memory of my little warrior sister, Maya the Magnificent aka my mini me. I wrote it 3 years ago. A time part of me wishes I had the superpower to throw back this Thursday to. My sweet Maya finished her loooooooooonnnnnnnnnnnngggggg battle against #AML #fuckcancer. 9/12/03 – 10/2/17. She was only 14. #butthoughshebebutlittleshewasfierce She was 6 when she got diagnosed with AML. 3 battles. 3 bone marrow transplants. Think about it. Half. Her. Short. But. Sweet. Life. She spent her last year at St. Jude fighting for her life. Every damn day. 365. She had her 3rd bone marrow transplant the day after her 13th birthday. She spent her entire year of being 13 in the hospital fighting for her life. She turned 14 in the hospital. She finished her fight a few days after she turned 14. The last video I got from her was of her opening up the birthday presents I sent her. A nurse walked in and interrupted her and kinda rained on that parade and sweet Maya’s eyes rained a little and the gift parade ended. I don’t even know if she got to open them all and it breaks my heart but that’s not even the point. The point is, cancer is a motherfucker. And before anybody says Maya lost her battle, please don’t. Maya didn’t lose her battle; and cancer sure as hell didn’t win. Please don’t give cancer that kinda #fakenews credit. The cancer is no more. Maya kicked its ass, took down its number like nobody’s biz, took. cancer. down. And Maya is forever. She will live on and on to infinity and beyond in the hearts and memories and Maya shaped holes she left down here  This is the truth as best as I know it: Maya fought the good fight; she finished her race; she kept the faith #likeaboss. Like she told me on one of the old videos we used to make together, her superpower weapon was her smile. I am here to testify to that, her truth. Her. Smile. Slayed. It slayed me. And I know it slayed cancer. I seriously don’t know many adults that have gone through suffering like my girl Maya with such grace. And I will never be the same from the pleasure of knowing her and being loved by her. I always say she made me want to be the best version I could be of myself. And my hard truth was, I don’t think we were done. That time the sky fell.]

This is how Maya and I met.

My little warrior sister Maya the Magnificent aka my mini me

Maya’s mama posted this pic on my Facebook wall, after they saw a video I shot at a Stand Up To Cancer event we had for my 2-year cancerversary in August 2010. The video was my daughter’s entry in SU2C’s “Up To You” music video contest. The challenge was to put your own spin on the song. The top 3 would be featured on the SU2C show that September.

This was my sweet Amanda’s spin on the song. I shot the film (that’s why I’m not in it) and my sweet Mikeyy edited the video. The band behind her is the rest of The Kicked-in Fence: her brothers Matt (guitar) and Mikeyy (djembe) and their friend Dustin Boudinet (guitar). All the lovely peeps are the kinds of friends I got by with a little help from. A few of them I miss because they have since finished their own cancer battles. Which only makes this video more precious because it captures a moment when we all stood up to cancer together. It. was. magical.

Amanda got 4th place in the contest. But the point is, this is the ripple Maya caught a wave, or rather a high-5, into our lives on. After Maya saw the video, she asked her mom to take that epic pic of her giving me a SU2C high-5 and standing up to cancer with me. Is their anything more precious?

Me & Maya… or is it Maya & me?

The reason I bring this all up is because everybody’s always asking me about how Maya and I met.

So once upon a time 9 years ago, I happened to flip on the TV and catch the first Stand Up To Cancer show, while recovering from my double mastectomy and my first chemo cocktail hangover. I know this sounds super self-centered, but I felt like it was made for me TV. Like maybe somehow the stars aligned and the big dipper was pouring out the proverbial spoonful of sugar over the Evanshire. (Of course, I took it shaken not stirred, in case you’re wondering;)

[…And somehow the dots in that constellation connected Maya and me and my life will never be the same from her light shining bright like a diamond like it did/still does/always will. Fly high, Magnificent Maya. #twinkletwinkle little star…]

#WWBD? Day

It’s the night before my birthday. I’ve been feeling all the feels about getting to have another birthday, another road-trip around the sun, all day today. This one will be my 52nd. But I’d like to take 5 before I hit the gas, hit the road, chase the sunset. Cuz ever since 3 years ago today, on another day before my birthday, I got other feels that I just gotta repect. Feels that make me feel like taking a knee, to remember, to honor, my friend/doppelganger/breast cancer sister/fellow aerodynamic runner/SCAR girl Barbie Ritzco aka Marathon Barbie aka Gunnery Sergeant Barbara Ritzco, USMC.

I don’t know if she’s resting in peace or not cuz I imagine the SCAR girl reunion in heaven is still a bit lit since Barbie got there 3 years ago today. Still. Damn, I miss her like hell down here. And even though she’s still with me in spirit… or maybe it’s phantom pain, like sometimes how I feel something in my boobs that aren’t there anymore. The price of love. The proof. Of love. A beauty mark that she was here. Etched in me. Like a #WWBD? carved into, our outta, my soul. Maybe that old saying “you can’t take anything with you” is #fakenews. Cuz it sure feels like she took a part of me with her. I like that thought. The beauty mark she left on me, was also a piece of me she took with her. #partinggifts

So #WWBD? What. Would. Barbie. Do? That is the question I ruminate today, the day before my birthday, as I remember her.

Last month, I was happy, honored, and humbled to help bring David Jay’s Unknown Soldier Project to Cincinnati. One of the superpower most special parts of this exhibit, for me, besides getting the old SCAR Cincy crew together, was seeing my friend Barbie’s SCAR portrait on exhibit with The Unknown Soldier Project for the first time. Though to me, it felt more like: Finally.

On the surface, Gunnery Sergeant Barbara Ritzco’s portrait might seem to be a rather “unusual deployment” in The Unknown Soldier exhibition. Her amputation is not like the other amputations in the exhibit. Her IED was breast cancer to the chest. Her amputation was the collateral damage. Her battle with breast cancer was her unusual deployment, and one she would always say was the hardest one because it took her away from the men who served under her. Reluctantly, though, as she watched the lump grow on her chest, trying to will it away so as not to leave her brothers behind. And in the end, she laid down her life for her brothers all the same. Barbie died a couple weeks before her 40th birthday. She died planning her 20th year retirement party (with her sister who had enlisted with her). Which ended up being her sister’s retirement party and Barbie’s celebration of life. And we are proud to see her The SCAR Project portrait rightfully in this band of brothers and sisters. The following is Barbie’s The SCAR Project bio, in her own words, written shortly after her diagnosis at 36.

“Training didn’t prepare me. A weapon, a FLAK jacket and a Kevlar helmet didn’t protect from THIS enemy. 18 years active duty.  Two combat deployments. I was diagnosed with Stage IIIB Breast Cancer, after only four months in Afghanistan.

Perseverance, endurance, determination. Things that have been taught to me and instilled in me. Giving up or giving in is not an option. I have skydived, surfed, swam, cycled and completed about 15 Marathons since my diagnosis.

I didn’t set out to accomplish all these things with any real purpose.  I needed to remain active for my own sanity and dignity. Adapt and overcome. I am adapting to my new life with Breast Cancer and using it as my motivation to keep moving forward. I have been led, unarmed, to a different battlefield, in a different fight, one that is uncertain, unpredicted, and currently undefeated.

I am not going to ever get over Breast Cancer or move past it. I will live with it for the rest of my life. Remission is not a cure. I don’t believe people actually “see” Breast Cancer. They hear about it but they don’t listen. It is a terrible thing that happens to everyone else but could never happen to them. Everyone needs to understand and visually see the realness of this disease. Breast Cancer takes no prisoners. It can take anyone at any time.

The SCAR Project has allowed me to uniquely express myself and showcase how Breast Cancer has broken me down and stripped me of every feminine indicator yet I fight, unprotected, unarmed, and unwavering… but most importantly, unashamed.”

Click HERE to read Barbie’s SCAR story in her own words on The SCAR Project Blog.

Click HERE to see footage of Barbie sharing her SCAR story at The SCAR Toronto Exhibition in 2014.

Click HERE to see footage of Barbie’s SCAR portrait hanging with her band of brothers at The Unknown Soldier Exhibit in Cincinnati last month.

Anatomy of the C-word

9 years ago today was the mother of all inciting incidents for me. My doctor called and said the damn c-word to me. No, the bad one: cancer. Tonight, FB memories reminded me of a few postcards from the road #shakennotstirred #breastcancer #chemococktails #memorylane…

Here’s a recap, post by post. #nofilter

August 20, 2008: No post cuz Day 1 and I didn’t know it yet.

August 20, 2009: No post but still downing chemo cocktails.

August 20, 2010: 2 years ago today… my breast surgeon said the C-word to me. I say, F the c-word. I don’t mean to offend; it’s just what’s on my mind.

Also: Chapter 16 is a wrap

August 20, 2011: Three years ago today I found out I had cancer. The past 1096 days have been a lot of me crowd surfing like in this video. Last night I watched soul surfer and learned how to really surf. Wow. Today this song goes out to all my survivor siblings. I’m part of your crowd so go ahead, surf, hang ten even!

August 20, 2012:

A year of living sincerely – Day 1

Also: Country strong.

https://youtu.be/STvnp0phjMw
RUNKEEPER
Also: Cheers and thank God for 1461 days!
August 20, 2013:High freaking 5 everybody! Well, it’s been 5 years since I got that damn phone call with those nasty damn words that I had cancer. Except for the incredible mercy of God, I don’t know how I got here…how I get to be here… but here we are… and what. a. CrAzYRiDe it’s been!

Last year on August 20, to celebrate my 4-year cancerversary milestone, while simultaneously kicking off the countdown to my fab 5-year cancerversary/not-a-chemo-cocktail-party (THIS FRIDAY NIGHT Y’ALL!!), I started a video blog of “A Year of Living Sincerely” in honor of my beautiful friend V and her www.thelivesincerelyproject.com.

Last night I posted episode 206 about the Little Miami 1/2 marathon I ran on Sunday. It was my 4th half, and my first to run in under 2 hours! My finish was 1:56:43, which placed me 4th in my age category! That finish seems rather apropos to how I’m feeling today.

Also: Getting party supplies for Friday night’s not-chemo-cocktail party!!

Also: My beautiful friend V and me.

August 20, 2014: Hello FB loves! So, today’s my 6-year Cancerversary aka #shakennotstirred day—what, what?! (Go me, BOO cancer!) Anyway, so here’s some thoughts, a couple chapters from my book, Shaken Not Stirred . . . a Chemo Cocktail, about the way this day went down 6 years ago when we heard the C-word, a link to the Kindle version of my book which is FREE today AND TOMO, and a link to the “Cancer is a Bitch” song by my Redheads.

Also: Love, love, LOVE me some Jennifer Pastiloff. Looking so freaking forward to Labor Day Retreat with her in Ojai, Cali. David Evans is sending me as a gift for my 6-year cancerversary (which is TODAY–yay me, BOO cancer) and my birthday (which is next month). I never ever know what to ask for, and it always drives Dave and the Redheads bOnKeRs that I don’t make lists from them to make their lives easier, lol. But THAT’S how much I love me some Jen Pastiloff. I actually made a cancerversary/birthday list. With one thing on it. BAM.

I LOVE this excerpt from an article of hers. Hell I pretty much love everything she writes. But this one seems timely. Hell it kinda seems timely all the time.

This.

“Here’s what I say to you, to me, and to anyone that cares to read this: The long and the short is this: stop judging so much. People are doing their best. You are doing your best. You will keep getting better. You will keep rising to the occasion. You will keep meeting yourself in the coffee shop or bar and telling yourself what your Highest Self would do now. What Love would do now. And now. And now.”

And this.

“I will love harder.”

That’s really all that matters, isn’t it? LOVE.

Word. That word. Love. The end.

August 20, 2015: Do you know what today is?
7 years ago TODAY
My doctor called and said that bad c-word to me.
No, the really bad one…cancer.
But 
Here I am
7 years later…
I GET TO STILL BE HERE!
Cuz today is my lucky day!
#lucky7 #luckyme
I’m the luckiest duck!
And p.s. #fuckcancer

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Also: Hi 5K! #postcardfrommymorningwalk #recovery #comeback I would’ve done 7, for my #lucky7 year cancerversary, if my insides would have promised me they wouldn’t fall out. But they wouldn’t put it in writing. #toughlove.

I burned 199 calories at an average pace of 23:31 per mi.
RUNKEEPER
Also: So…to celebrate my upcoming #lucky7 year cancerversary, the Kindle edition of Shaken Not Stirred . . . a Chemo Cocktail will be FREE over this looooooonnnng and happiest of weekends of Aug 20-24, 2015. Please help me give the big middle finger to cancer, and download the crap out of my book! Please share and have your friends help me #flipoffcancer. And, if you feel like leaving me a #NotaLoneStarReview you will not only make my freaking day, but you will most DEF win at life, in my book. Click HERE.
August 20, 2016: No post cuz I was with the Grace project on the road-trip to Houston.
August 20, 2017: 9 yrs ago today my doc called and said the damn c-word to me. No, the bad one: cancer. Lifting a glass 2 my health & a finger 2