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The Blizzard of ’78

Yesterday it snowed and somebody posted this picture of the Blizzard of ’78 and I was like, “Seems like yesterday cuz I remember the Blizzard of ’78.” Except there wasn’t that much snow yesterday.

I was in 6th grade during the Blizzard of ’78. We had a whole week of snow days from January 25-31 during the Blizzard of ’78. You’d think I wouldn’t remember that kinda detailed #postcardfromtheroad #memorylane kinda info 38 years down the road. Especially when you throw in my chemo brain and/or the “Vespa Incident” head injury. But the reason I know all this, is cuz I just dug up my baby book. Which I just now realized my Mom stopped filling out when I was in second grade when my sister was born.

Anyway, the reason I dug up my baby book when the white death reminded us all of the Blizzard of ’78 yesterday, is because I was talking to my Mom a few months ago on my birthday (September 27, in case you were wondering) we were trying to remember what time I was born and I have been too damn lazy to have the Hubcap go into the other room and get the box down out of the closet in the #rabbitroom aka my office.

Until yesterday’s “snow day” when I remembered the Blizzard of ’78 and that my English teacher gave us a blizzard of homework aka the old “snow pack” trick, which included keeping a journal during the snow daze. I still have my snow daze journal from the Blizzard of ’78. Stuffed in between the mostly unused pages of said baby book. So after he brought me my usual coffee in bed, I asked him to rax me the box so I could finally solve the mystery of the time of my birth. But also, I wanted to see my snow daze journal from the Blizzard of ’78.

(Btw, I was born at 7:04 pm, in case it was driving you as crazy as it was driving my Mom.)

Jan. 25 – I had to go out and get some logs for the fire place and I was coming back and fell in a hole that had snow up to my waist.  I looked up to my mom who was warm inside and she snapped a picture of me.

Jan. 26 – I got proposed to today. Yes, my sister and I were coloring and all of the sudden she stopped me and said, “Joules, are you gonna marry me?” I tried to explain to her why I couldn’t but she was too dumb to understand. I watched her all day and was supposed to get five dollars but my mom won’t give it to me yet.

Jan. 27 – Another boring day, nothin’ to do because I have to watch my sister. (Now my mom will owe me 10 dollars.) My friends Monica and Lynn cam over to see if I could come out and I couldn’t because of you know who. But tonight will be fun because I’m spending the night with Monica.

Jan. 28 – Freedom! I don’t have to watch Jennifer. My mom still hasn’t paid me. My friend Monica came and asked me if I could go and my mom said I could. We went and got Lynn. We went down to the creek and jumped in to see where it was the deepest. Monica jumped in one place that was past her waist. We had to help her out.

Jan. 29. – Same as Jan. 28. No, my mom still hasn’t paid me. I might make her pay me a dollar a day that she doesn’t give me the $10.

Jan. 30 Guess what? Yes I have to watch Jennifer, hmm $15.00! Well this is going to be boring.

Jan. 31. Wow, what a lucky break. I don’t have to watch Jennifer. We’re going to go to my grandma’s. When we got to my grandma’s I went over to my friend’s house. Her name is Julie, and she got some warm clothes on and we went outside. We went to the woods to find a way to cross the creek. It’s water hadn’t frozen. We found a log that stretched across the creek, so I decided to cross it. I was right in the middle and it started to crack. I got off that log and am not goin’ on it again.

Feb.1 – I think I went to school that day. That WAS boring.

_______________

All that to say, I don’t thing my Mom ever paid me that $15. Which is whatever. Cuz the main thing about this old journalistic endeavor of mine that STRIKES ME is that it was the first time in my herstory that I wrote something and got egged on. It would not be the last. And so it goes.

Dancing With Myself Is One Thing

 

This dad ROCKS. And so do THESE DADS.
Speaking courage into their little girls hearts, souls, minds, spirits like that.
LoveloveLOVE.

I’ve been thinking a lot about self-talk lately. My friend Renee and I were even talking about it the other morning over pancakes. I had blueberry, and she had the most ginormous apple strudel bread pudding of a panCAKE that I have ever seen. To be fair, it didn’t even look like she put a dent in hers by the time we left. I’m sure her family has been eating on it for days. Anyway, Renee’s ginormous apple strudel of a panCAKE isn’t really the point I’m trying to make here. As I was saying, the subject of self-talk came up while she tried to chip away at the aforementioned ginormous apple strudel of a panCAKE… and the thing that occurs to me as I’m sitting here being all amused at the memory of Renee and her ginormous apple strudel of a panCAKE, in the midst of my musing on self-talk, is that the self-talk talk we talked about, had nothing to do with pancakes. Even though we talked about how pancakes don’t help muffin tops. Mine, obvi being blueberry. But I digress. (Or do I?)

I don’t know about you but I know I can be so freaking hard on myself. Especially when I let myself down. Like when I got close to fitting back in my fave jeans but then Thanksgiving happened and now I’m the proverbial 3 steps back. Like I haven’t run since it’s gotten cold outside so that just compounds everything cuz not only do I have to actually get out there in the freaking cold to get my running streak back, but sitting here mad at myself isn’t helping me fit back in my fave jeans. And don’t even get me started about when I actually do something stupid, like I sometimes do. Like we all sometimes do. But I seem to forget all the stupid shit you do cuz #lovecoversamultitude and all that. Except for I forget to apply it to myself. What about you?

When you stand in the mirror, what are the things you hear?

What do you need to hear?

Comment below, and then shoot me your contact info
and I’ll drop you a line to hang on to.
#xoxo 

25 Random Things (Sweet ’16 Remix) About Me

  1. I don’t really believe in random.
  2. Still, “random” (or intentional, or whatever the hell you wanna call it just as long as we are talking about) acts of kindness are one of my favorite things in this crazy universe. #kindnessisthebombdotcom #lovebombs #sprinklethatshiteverywhere
  3. I believe that small things (kindnesses) done with great love change the world.
  4. My top 5 fave reads from sweet 16 are: Love Warrior, Rising Strong, Big Magic, My Life on the Road, and Buck.
  5. I love bulletproof coffee. And ginger shots.
  6. I don’t mind going to the movies by myself. Popcorn (with real butter, and sometimes #shakennotstirred with dark chocolate covered raisins) and red wine is one of my fave things. #dinnerofchampions #scandal
  7. I’ve recently found out I am allergic to lemon, tomatoes, cow’s milk, and bananas. I have been trying to get to the bottom of some dizziness I’ve been dealing with ever since the combo of chemo, the “Vespa incident”, and an ear infection I got running the Monumental half marathon in Indy. I’d been wondering if I was allergic to bread and wine, since those are my staples in life. I’d been cutting down on the glutens, cuz they seemed the likely culprit of a migraine trigger and therefore the dizzy, but also the muffin top I’ve gotten since the hysterectomy/oophorectomy/golfballectomy last year. Never even thinking it wasn’t the carrier (pasta and pizza) but the sauce and/or THE CHEESE. OY freaking vey. But thank God I’m not allergic to bread and wine. Cuz that horrified me, thinking I was allergic to my guru Jesus.
  8. Jesus is my guru. My anchor. Keeps my feet on the ground. My balloon. Keeps my head in the clouds. The author and finisher of my life, my story, my faith. Holds me together. Is gravity to me. Is everything to me.
  9. Love is my religion. My main mantra is: Live Sincerely. Be love. Do love. Do-be-do-be-do. (The divine dance.) And leave a beauty mark that I was here. My friend Jen says it best, with one of my fave quotes of hers that I had tattooed on my shoulder: At the end of my life when I ask, one final time: What have I done? Let my answer be: I have done love.
  10. I don’t want to be buried. The thought of being stuck in one place makes me claustrophobic as hell. I’d rather be cremated and for my sweet Redheads to travel the world and scatter me about on their adventures, to keep me and my wanderlust alive and kicking.
  11. “Ride” by 21 Pilots is my current theme song.
  12. When I road-trip, one of my guilty pleasures is Taco Bell’s Fiery Doritos Locos Tacos.
  13. I work with a national body image project called the Grace Project that is all about empowering women to embrace their body image and beauty, post breast cancer. But I’m mad at my own body for the blueberry muffin top effect that has hap’d since my operation out damn golf ball ectomy last year, which has sent ripples throughout my own body image. Which I know, since I’m small, I’m not allowed to complain about. Which is shame on shame.
  14. I’m using My Fitness Pal to help me get back on track, but more importantly, back into my fave blue jeans.
  15. I’m working on a writing workshop based on Alice’s adventures in Wonderland that I hope to beta test in February. My goal will be to create a space for women stepping into a “More Alice” kind groove, to encourage them discover/explore their voice, to hold space for them to speak their truth and share their stories, and to guide them in the art and craft of telling those stories.
  16. I prefer to take the stairs whenever I can. To give my heart good lovin’. But also, cuz once when the Redheads were little, we went to the Eiffel Tower and Mikeyy and I got voted down on taking the stairs to the top. It was still cool, don’t get me wrong, but not taking the stairs has been a regret of mine ever since. When I took him to his YWAM mission trip in Germany after he graduated high school, we flew into Paris to have a little holiday together before he would be gone for a year, and we tried to right that regret…but the stairs were closed due to post 9/11. Not giving up. One of these days those stairs will be mine!
  17. I love lists. I love making lists and crossing things off lists. Post it’s are one of my fave things to make lists on. I have my prayer list on post it’s hanging all over the walls of my prayer/meditation closet. I start every day with filling out a seize the day template of lists I created, which includes some of my fave lists like prayers, intentions, and gratitudes. These lists are one of my superpowers.
  18. When the Redheads were little I used to let them play connect the dots with the freckles on my arm to keep them occupied in doctor office waiting rooms.
  19. I dig our funky little #loveshack baby yeah, and I love the room we rent in #coloradoorbust that is all decked out and themed with my #route66 #roadtrip #art (which, btw, is avail for a superpower good deal whenever we aren’t there), but I HATE BEING COLD and am not a fan of living in cold climates or cultures. One of the things I learned about myself on my Route 66 road trip was that I belong in the Southwest. A Spanish style home. With a courtyard. And a pool out back. With a view of desert mountains, cactuses, and the big blue sky. And a dog named Pancho Sanza to be my sidekick.
  20. Spain is the top destination on my bucket list. A Don Quixote/The Camino Del Santiago/Tempranillo pilgrimage.
  21. When I road-trip I like to take the road less traveled whenever I can. And I break for scenic overlooks. And every #worldslargest #kitchsy #americana #roadsideattraction I can squeeze in along my route. Instagram is my fave “travel app” cuz I use it to create #postcardsfromtheroad. The #kelvin filter is my go to for my social media vibe.
  22. I don’t know if it’s collateral damage from chemo brain and/or the “Vespa Incident” but I travel so much and meet so many people in so many different settings, that when I see somebody in another context, I often panic and go blank on important details LIKE NAMES. This makes me feel like a horrible person.
  23. I’m thinking of saving up for a Pelaton bike to give a spin to my fitness training. Cuz like I said, I hate being cold. And I’m not a fan of running outside when it’s cold. All I wanna do when it’s cold is hibernate. Next to the fireplace. Or go to the desert or the beach. I’m a pretty big baby about this. Ask the hubcap if I don’t tell him how much I hate winter every damn time we go outside every winter. Last winter we joined a fitness club. But our travel schedules made that feel like we were throwing money away. I try and do some yoga/core work/rebounder workouts to keep me from bouncing off the walls during the winter. Last year I did enjoy a little cross-training cuz the club had a pool and I tried to hit it whenever I was in town. And that got me thinking about doing a Tri. And that and my knees got me thinking about cycling. The other piece of exercise equipment I think would be super cool to have one of these days when we move to our Spanish style home in the desert, is one of those rowers the Underwood’s have on #houseofcards.
  24. For my 50th birthday, I got an electric #redguitar. I’m not a guitar player. I barely know how to play. But the movie The Guitar gave me #livesincerely feels so I bought myself a birthday present even though I don’t normally go around buying myself birthday gifts. Sometimes I play it when I’m working on a chapter for my #bucketlist #Route66 #roadtrip #memoir, called Why Did The Turtle Cross The Road? Like cross-training for writers. Since my chapters all have a soundtrack to them, a song from my epic road-trip playlist, I cross-train by trying to learn to play the song that goes with the chapter I’m working on.
  25. I think my next tattoo will be a turtle, above my “Finish the race” tattoo.

25 Random Things About Me (2009 Remix)

#lovewarrior
I thought I’d dig up this one from the archives. My #25RandomThingsAboutMe from back in my chemo daze of two-thousand and late. This has been on my #ToDoList anyway, since reading #lovewarrior cover to cover the day it arrived in the mail. Cuz Glennon Doyle Melton wrote about her list of 25 random things in it. I am going to throw down a new list (cuz life. it haps. and we change and evolve. or at least hopefully we do. so i doubt i will come at it exactly the same since i’m not exactly the same as i was 7 years ago.) But first, I wanted to check in with what I wrote back then. Did you write a list of 25 random things about you way back in the day too? Also, HAVE YOU READ LOVE WARRIOR YET?

25 Random Things About (two-thousand and late) Me

23. I am rarely random. For example, I usually think through what I’m about to say, rephrasing and such, about 3-5 times before I say it. Sometimes, I think about what I’m about to say to the point that it becomes so concrete that I think I’ve already said it. Then I sit there waiting for a response. Then I figure I said something to make you mad or something.
2. My kids are the sweetest hearts of my heart and my hub has been true to the in sickness and for worse part of our vows which has been hard on him and humbling for me.
9. I keep Hershey’s Chocolate Candy Bars and a jar of peanut butter in my nightstand. Also a pencil (and sharpener and a thesarus) and 3X5 cards for writing ideas or lists that hit me in the middle of the night. And a sweetart tin and supply that I sometimes take when we go out to see a movie. (We go to see movies A LOT, and I almost always get popcorn, but only sometimes take my sweetarts.) Also, whatever I’m reading. and a dictionary. And a crossword puzzle book is either on mine or Dave’s depending on who ended up filling in answers last.
17. I LOVE to play tennis. My license plate says EAT SLEEP TENNIS. I have a decal on my side window that looks like a tennis ball broke it. I can see it out my side rear view window, and smile every time I see it. I also have a tennis ball hanging in my garage that my mini likes to park under. I live right behind the tennis courts in my neighborhood and my boys made stairs going down the hill for me while I was having all the surgeries in the beginning of this cancer thing. 170 is the tennis channel on my tv. Someday I would like to plan a year of traveling around the world from slam to slam.
5. I am an INFP, according to the Meyers-Briggs personality profiling. So is Fanny Price, one of my favorite Austen characters. And in my opinion, Jane Eyre is too. I love all that personality profiling stuff. Although I don’t think you should put anybody in a box with it or anything else. I don’t do boxes.
14. I like to write sonnets. I like to write, period. But I’m very fond of sonnets. I have a Shakespeare bust that sits on my desk. A candlestick holder I got made of wood shavings from the Globe. I wear a small gold hoop like he wore, which I bought at the Folger Shakespeare Theatre in D.C.
4. Since Amanda has stolen my guitar off me, I’ve been thinking about getting a new one and picking it back up and trying to learn some of the worship songs we sing at the Vineyard and other songs I like. Also I’d like to write some of my own.
19. I am not good with small talk; much rather sit across a table from you with a bottle of wine in between us and sip on good wine and conversation as long as we’re both able. (There is an Over the Rhine song in that answer that you really should hear-Born-it’s one of my faves, and theme songs.)
22. I am “Monkish” OCD, and understand Dr. House maybe a bit too much. Think Hugh Laurie is my fave actor. (p.s. in re: 22 and 12 when you’re all done reading this, I did end up going back to recheck because I’m not really lazy. I just thought it seemed tedious, which I don’t like. And even though I’d like to pretend that I really don’t care enough to go back and check and re-check, I do. Still, that doesn’t mean that I’m for sure going to get it right.)
3. During chemo I found that I have a birthmark on the base of my head that looks like a cluster of grapes, which I think is very cool. And I’d like to think of it as one day becoming a glass of pinot noir when it grows up.
6. I love to cook with loud music in the background and a glass of wine in my hand. What’s usually cooking in my house is garlic and onions and some pasta (the house fave is spag carbonara-rachel ray’s recipe tweaked the tiniest bit-I think we’d be great friends). the wine on tap is generally a pinot noir, but we like to try lots of different wines and I have a great relationship with the woman who owns the wine store around the corner. currently playing on my IPOD is a chemo mix I have going as my soundtrack while I’m fighting cancer and dealing with chemo.
11. I drive a cooper mini which I call Rocinante (Don Quixote’s horse), and love that all mini drivers acknowledge one another in passing, and often park next to each other. It is a fun club to be in. One time, at the movie theatre, I left a note on the windshield of another mini we parked next to, saying, my mini likes your mini. When I came out, there was a note on my mini’s windshield that said the same thing.
16. I liked driving on the other side of the road in England, and think this says a lot about me.
24. One of my regrets in life was being talked out of climbing up the Eiffel tower and taking the elevator. I need very much to go fix that when I go watch the French Open someday.
8. I think gargoyles are cool. Also the fact that I have one of each of the state quarters.
21. Once, my dad took me to the riverboat and I won $1000 bucks at craps.
15. I have just gotten to a point in my treatment, where the tearing down of chemo is done, and I am so happy that the building up time is at hand. But I feel really impatient because my body can’t keep up with all the places my mind is jumping, especially as regards to regaining my fitness. The spirit is willing, and quite cranked up and raring to go, but the body is so freaking weak.
7. I have wanderlust.
18.I want to have a coffee shop/book store named St. Udio’s someday. All the coffee mugs will have ink sketches of the saints of my coffee shop: St. upid will have a dunce cap on; St. ump will be short and, well, stumpy; St. ick will look like a stick of course. St. udio will have his tongue in his cheek…. You get the picture.
25. To me, coffee is the alpha drink and wine is the omega. Although I am not against having a glass of wine with an omelet in the morning or a cup of espresso with a biscotti before bed. I really don’t think coffee and wine should be put in boxes anymore than people. The important thing, is balancing the stimulants and depressants.
1. I am trying to figure out what to do with my second lease on life.
20. I would like to live in a warmer climate, where I don’t need to own a coat, where I could play tennis outside all year long, where I could take long walks in the sand after dinner everyday, and sleep with the window open so I can hear the waves.
13. I like to play Scrabble and do crossword puzzles and Scramble on Facebook. Basically I love words and playing with words. And writing.
10. I liked when my tennis opponents used to tell me I reminded them of Justine Henin. I think women’s tennis is not the same without her. And I wish I could’ve seen her play in person. Tried to last summer in Charleston, but she withdrew from the tournament, which really bummed me out. And then she retired before the U.S. Open, which bummed me even more. I also think we would be great friends.
12. I had to use a little stickie pad with the numbers 1-25 written on it to make sure I could use them in a random fashon; but even still, it’s quite possible that I messed up. And I’m too lazy to double-check.

Shaken Not Stirred…a Chemo Cocktail Turns 5 Today!

when-you-hear-that-wine-cork-pop

Holy WOW! Talk about a happy #blastfromthepast of a #fbf memory! So today is Shaken Not Stirred . . . a Chemo Cocktail‘s birthday! Once upon a time 5 years ago tonight aka 11/11/11 at 11:11pm I made the first biggest dream of my life come true, pushed PUBLISH, my book went live on Amazon, and we popped a cork on a bottle of champagne to celebrate!
Besides obvi popping another cork today, I thought it would be superkaPOWer fun to #SHAKEN things up a bit and give away 5 signed copies in honor of my book baby’s 5th bday. So if you’d like to enter to win one, for yourself or for a gift, send me a #postcardfromtheroad from wherever you are, and I’ll #shaken them all up and randomly pick 5. (Don’t forget to write down the name and addy for me to inscribe and mail to.) Here’s my addy: PO Box 882, West Chester, OH 45071.


And in case you are wondering what to buy a 5-year-old? The best. gift. EVER. that you could (pretty please _/\_) get my sweet book baby that would #shaken up and rock its (and my) world like no other…would be to click HERE and give it the ol’ thumbs up and shiny stars on Amazon. 5-year-olds LOVE stars! (As a self-published author, that is not just my bread and butter, but like Popeye’s spinach to me.) So thank you from the bottom of my heart to anyone who has already written a review or will go do that most uber epic act of kindness for my book baby!


Cheers and BIG love,

Me

For Those Who Feel #trumprolled Over By The Election Results

Photo Cred: Jenny Holzer
                 Photo Cred: Jenny Holzer

It’s been awhile since I posted here. My jam is usually Facebook cuz for me Facebook to Facebook feels about as close to face to face as virtual gets. But I also have a lot of fun on Instagram cuz I’m on the road a lot and I love sending a picture #postcardfromtheroad from here and there and everywhere my road leads. I’m also on Twitter but I’m not as consistent as I’d like to be on there cuz ADD. I get in a groove on there and then I see a squirrel and forget about it until another squirrel chases the little twitter-bird and leads me back. I’m also on Snapchat and think it’s superpower fun whenever I remember to click on the #friendlywhiteghost. I hope you will find me on those social mediums if we aren’t already connected there too. But hopefully you’ll find me here more these days, as I’ve been working to synchronize the spaces I hang out in on the interwebs, in order to put the emphasis on the social in my media. Cuz I’m here, there, and everywhere I go to connect. Otherwise, why bother? #amiright?!

Anyway, I posted this on my Facebook wall yesterday and it seemed to connect with so many of my crazy beautiful peeps, who don’t normally speak up, in a way that kinda took my breath away. It felt like a sacred space. That made me happy. I thought it was worthy of exploring. But then today on FB I’ve noticed so many people drawing lines in the sand and deleting people. Which feels like the opposite of the space I want to hang out in. I don’t see any point in preaching to “the choir” or hanging out with just the choir. Cuz I can barely sing anyway so most likely the line will eventually get drawn in the sand in front of me. And I’ve already been deleted by quite a few (I don’t usually notice these things until I see posts from peeps on deleting sprees and then I click on my own page just to see if I have any friends left, and am always so grateful for all my lovely peeps who continue to bear with me) just because of this scandalous post that I posted yesterday. In it I just basically asked for love and forbearance for people I love who are hurting, and for the kindness to weep with them just a little on the space I created for them on my wall. In this broken 2 party system, half our country was going to be disappointed no matter how the election shook down. I provided the same space as a human and on my wall last election when things went the other way for people I love on the other side of this broken 2 party system.

Because something I knew in my head but that got engraved on my heart and soul while I was walking through the valley of the shadow of death that cancer was, or at least, the things other people did that meant the most to me, as far as helping love me through it was this: 1. Show up. 2. Share in—NOT try to fix or take away— my suffering, with me, by holding space for me, letting me experience what I am experiencing and feel what I am feeling. 3. Offer up. The things they offered that meant the most to me was themselves. Their presence even if they didn’t know what to say cuz the truth is there is no one-size-fits-all “right” thing to say. But a simple loving presence can say everything that needs to be said. Their 2 eyes to see me, and to be a witness to my life, even this very hard part to watch and it makes their eyes leak a little. That’s OK cuz we both have 2 arms to comfort one another and hold on for both our dear lives with. Their 2 hands and feet to help out with practical things I couldn’t manage but especially with my Redheads. But also and especially their 2 ears which were generous to listen first and their one mouth which was gracious to let the ears do most of the talking. And last but not least, remember. I know you cannot stay in this space with me but please don’t forget me or that I’m still here. 4. Prayer, positive thoughts, pixie dust, good vibes, #goodjoujou …any healing words somebody I love sends me to say they are with me in spirit and loving me from afar when we can’t be near.

That is why I got out of bed yesterday, and the kinda the space I was trying to create on my wall, and why it felt so sacred to me. So today I thought I’d repost it here, to just put this out there in a wider space beyond my FB wall, where maybe I don’t know as many peeps, but at least there are not so many lines in the sand and walls. And maybe somebody who needs somebody to weep with them will hear me weeping with them.

[Note: This is my wall. My space. I try to curate this space, my space, to hold space for myself and others who could use a little love and encouragement. It’s an occupation in my life that I take super sinceriously. I say this because I am begging everyone to respect not just me but those I love who are hurting today. I am holding space here and in my heart for them (and myself) today. So please have mercy and be kind in this space, my space. Or just scroll on by like I do on other’s own pages, their spaces, when I don’t feel the space they are curating, holding, is for me. #scrolldonttroll #belikethumper#bekind2016]

I feel very sad today. And disappointed. And discouraged. Sad and alone. A tiny blue dot. I did not vote for walls and other things that separate us and keep us apart because I believe we had one job and that was to#loveoneanother and, for me, that means building bridges not walls. With my vote, I stood up for people I love, and bridges, and against a bully, all the while getting bullied by other people I love who don’t look into the eyes of some of the people I love, and sometimes it feels, to me, like they don’t care to. I was with her, and I am not ashamed to say that even though I haven’t wallpapered my wall, this space, my space, with campaign stickers and sound bytes. Even though many have tried to shame or silence me by drawing inferences from the times I’ve stood up for those I love who are hurting. Like the 9 million women who spoke their truth and said #notokay. For them, for all the women fighting the good fight against misogyny, for my#metavivor friends who are alive because of Obamacare and worried about becoming just another #preexistingconditions again, for all the#blacklivesmatter cuz they matter to me, for my LGBTQ peeps, for my Muslim brothers and sisters, for the Syrian refugees and the Statue of Liberty which mocks them, for Viva Mexico on the other side of the President elect’s wall, for my Redheads and the world they have stepped out into, for my Grandson #taranthewonderbaby and the world he recently entered. For all these people I love, and others I may be emotional and accidentally neglecting to mention, I tried to be love and do love when I used my voice, cast my vote, voted my truth. I voted love. I hoped love would trump the hate and fear. I believed love would win. I still believe #lovewins but today this#lovewarrior is a little weary. I know this circus of an election was about many things. I can and have respected many of those things on, not just both sides, but all the sides. I watched all the debates, news channels, and all the opinions of my crazy beautiful tapestry of peeps. I’ve truly tried to understand all the sides because I have people I love on all the sides. It’s about the people, my people. Not. the sides. I believe in bridges. I don’t believe in walls and I truly didn’t believe my country did either. I truly don’t believe this is #wwjd. That makes me sad to my core, methinks, because, well, he is my core. And yet, it’s been leveled at me that I’ve been brainwashed or have come to my view lightly. I’ve been accused of compromising my Christianity because I have a different view of what is pro life. All I can say to that is: here’s my other cheek. So, even though my wall, my space, is not normally political, it is, I hope, about being love and doing love and sometimes doing love is standing up for those I love, knowing that it’s gonna get me knocked down by other people I love. I do feel knocked down today. But I know I’ll get back up cuz love. And in the meantime, while I’m down here, I’m gonna lay me down real flat, like a bridge over troubled water, so as not to be confused with a wall of any kind unless it’s a#tecatewall, holding space and sending out love to all of my peeps who are hurting today.

4,207,680 Minutes

moments

[So I have a late but very important date with my sweet Mikeyy TONITE! Because. THIS. happened 8 years ago. TONITE…the beginning of my accidental memoir SHAKEN NOT STIRRED…A CHEMO COCKTAIL…the night Bitch wine saved my life…the night I found a damn spot in my left breast…before I knew it was cancer…the last night in my memory of life before cancer…a sweet and perfect moment with my sweet Mikeyy…the night we watched Perseus’s meteor showers and I learned to count my lucky stars before they hatch. “That time with Mikeyy is etched in my soul as a perfect snapshot of—not my life passing before my eyes, in the dying sense—but more like a haiku, capturing what it was all about.” I think that moment was the diving board into all the lovely 4,207,680 minutes I have been lucky enough to experience since. Each and every one of those precious moments has been one helluva ride. I wouldn’t change a thing. I wouldn’t trade getting to sit here watching Perseus do his thing again from where I’m at now, EIGHT years later. Anyway, so here’s where that once upon a time began…]

Chapter 2


When the Stars Go Blue
(Cue: Tim McGraw *I don’t know if you know it, but each of my chapters has a soundtrack to it. The songs are from my own chemo cocktail mix that I listened to during cancer, chemo, recovery, and writing Shaken Not Stirred.)

On August 11, 2008 there were meteor showers over Cincinnati. My world was rocked that night, but it had nothing to do with the meteors that my teenage son Mikeyy and I watched in the wee hours of that sleepless in Cincinnati kind of night.

Previous to Perseus’s fireworks display, somewhere in between the lines of August 11 and 12, I’d awakened particularly parched from the end-of-season cocktail party I’d thrown that evening at the Evanshire, aka my home sweet home.

Being somewhat of a newbie tennis freak, I’d played on three tennis teams that summer. My neighborhood team had just won the division championship. My United States Tennis Association (USTA) team had just played in the district championship tournament. We actually won the districts, but.

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And the big but (yeah, they say everybody’s got one) was that the win pushed one of our player’s ratings into a higher bracket, which.

And the “rhymes-with-a-witch” was that “the win?” officially disqualified all her matches and our team from the victory, not to mention a road trip to regionals. The trophy didn’t have a chance to slip through our fingers; we never even got to touch it before the ruling came raining down on our parade.

For the cocktail party, I’d grabbed several bottles of a certain Grenache that had caught my eye from across the wine store where I was searching for just the right red and/or white to go with our blues. It had a hot pink label with elegant cursive lettering that read Bitch.

Cancer is a bitch wine

My tennis girlfriends cracked up when I presented the wine. Then we all sighed, and said, “Yeah, it sure was.” We uncorked the wine. It was the best of times and we were making the best of the worst of times. We ate and drank and made merry. I went to bed thirsty.

I knew I would wake up in the middle of the night dying-of-thirst thirsty.

What I didn’t know was that dying of thirst would end up saving my life.

It was five o’clock somewhere—for me it was somewhere in the middle of the night when I woke up from a dream in which I was practically dying of thirst and trying desperately, though unsuccessfully, to quench it.

“Need . . . H . . . 2 . . . Ohhhh,” I sputtered out in a dry whisper like I was some kind of a tumbleweed, searching for an oasis.

“So. [click] Very. [click] Thirsty.”

I couldn’t even peel my tongue off the roof of my mouth.

I’d dealt with similar middle-of-the-night dehydration before, so I had the drill down, practically in my sleep. I tumbled out of bed, crawled across the bedroom floor, slithered down the stairs more like a Slinky than a snake, and somehow found myself standing in front of the kitchen sink. I guzzled a glass of water, diluting the dehydration and dousing the dream.

Then I poured another, and headed to the study to sip on the second one while checking Facebook. And I played a little Scramble, to try and unscramble the fog in my brain.

That’s when I bumped up against my desk—Ouch. I felt—and heard—an unexpected thud.

Something had gone bump in the night— and the bump was on me: my left breast, to be more specific.

My jaw fell to the floor and my eyebrows formed a question mark as I held my breath, brought my hand to my breast, and felt the lump.

I cannot explain the shock and awe I felt. It was like a meteor to my chest, literally. I remember the lump felt like a shooter marble right beneath the “milky way.” I was pretty sure it wasn’t there the day before. My hubby, Dave didn’t mention anything about marbles later that night. I’m sorry if that’s TMI, but I don’t see how we could’ve missed a meteor like that.

I don’t know how long I sat there trying to imagine what in the world the marble could be. I found myself checking and rechecking to see if it was really there. Then I kept checking and rechecking to see if it was still there. Part of me thought I was imagining things. But, no, it was still there. Part of me started imagining things. I felt the meteor again, and then stared out the window.

My fourteen-year-old son Mikeyy was lying out on the driveway, gazing up at the meteor showers in the sky. I let go of my own gravity and let myself get pulled into his world for a little while— snuggling up next to him and watching the sky fall, like it was a movie.

That time with Mikeyy is etched in my soul as a perfect snapshot of—not my life passing before my eyes, in the dying sense—but more like a haiku, capturing what it was all about.

When the meteor show was over, I had a hard time keeping my thoughts from spiraling out of control. A sensible part of me, that I had to dig way down deep for, took all the other parts of me, and put them to bed.

Not wanting to wake Dave, I lay there, deciding to wait out the night. I waited for him to wake. I waited to see if it would just go away. I waited. And prayed.

Since my thoughts like to play connect the dots, this would be where my inner Lady Macbeth spoke up, as “Out, damn’d spot” were the words that came out. This seemed like a reasonable prayer, so I went with it.

I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what to say to Dave when he awoke. The truth is, I generally obsess over just about anything I even think of, processing it at from every angle before it gets “on deck,” on the tip of my tongue. Just to make sure I say what I mean to say, and that I articulate it the way I mean it. Extroverting is not my strong suit. I can do it, but I don’t think I do it very well. And it wears me out. I had nothing by the time he woke up. I was worn out, wound up, and ended up just winging it.

Some words tumbled out into the air and then seemed to settle in a cloud over Dave. He groaned one of those “groanings which cannot be uttered,” (like he already knew, too) and fearfully, mechanically, reached over toward the spot.

Dave said that waking up to that morning was like waking up on the worst possible side of the bed ever.

“I was still pretty groggy when Joules asked me about a lump she had found on her breast. She’s pretty random and often catches me off guard, but in twenty years of marriage, she had never asked anything quite like this. As soon as I felt the obvious lump, the fog instantly cleared and I was wide awake. My heart and mind started racing, but I tried not to let her see my fear. Outside I was saying, “Hmm, that’s strange,” but inside I was frantically praying, “Please, God, no! Please, God, no! Please, God, no!” Ever since we had a friend diagnosed with breast cancer, I held a secret fear that it might strike Joules one day. This fear only intensified when our friend lost her seven-year battle. Before that, cancer was something other people got. Old people. People with unhealthy lifestyles. People I didn’t know. But our friend was young, healthy (fit, even), a wife and mom, a good and godly woman. And she was one of Joules’s closest friends. Suddenly breast cancer was very real to me, and very scary.”

I won’t ever forget that groan. Dave’s middle name, Wayne, means wagon, and I could just feel him bearing the weight that was to come.

He felt the spot; I had not imagined it.

He got out of bed and made a pot of coffee. Dave makes coffee for me every morning. Even brings a cup up to our bedroom and sets it on my nightstand to help me wake up, smell the coffee, rise and shine, seize the day. Yes, I am spoiled. I admit it.

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Then he headed to the study with his computer, and began researching what “not bad” things it could be. At first we were hoping it might be a cyst, or hormones. Or even a boil—at which point, I channeled my inner Job. Then he began adding big words that started with fibro– and pap– and ended in –oma, and my brain went all foggy again.

I poured another cup of coffee and called my sister, Jennie, who lives in Charleston, to tell her about the damn spot. She’s my baby sister, but also my best friend. She’s also a little ADHD. I happen to love her rabbit trails, so I figured I could thumb a ride on her distraction.

Jennie later described the rabbit hole she fell in when I told her about the lump.

“The day Joules called me and told me about the damn spot she found, I asked her if she thought it might just be a pimple or something weird like that. I tried to be reassuring for her and myself. The thing is, Joules has always been the strong one, and almost like a mother to me, all my life. And to me, nothing bad could or would ever happen to her. But when we hung up the phone, the knot that seemed to have tied in my throat came undone, and my tears broke free. My glass is not always as full as my sister’s, and it sort of felt like it had just tipped over.”

Dave made an appointment with my gynecologist for three o’clock that afternoon. I had chosen her because I was not really into doctors at the time. She was a naturopath, but also an MD. Basically, she was into alternative/non-traditional—with leanings toward Eastern—medicine. I liked that she was not a traditional medical evangelist, but had that training as well, in the palette of her doctor’s bag. I did not worry that she would jump to any radical medical conclusions because that was not her holistic style. I felt we were sort of on the same page and that everything could be OK, because she was the most likely doctor to find alternative explanations for the spot, and alternative ways of spot removal.

Meanwhile, Dave told me I should go ahead and go to a tennis clinic I’d already signed up and paid for, to try to keep my mind off that damn spot until three.

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—So that’s the end of the chapter, but obvi… there’s more chapters, and way more to the story besides just me standing there waiting for the tennis ball to cross the net so I can CRUSH it! *Spoiler alert: I CRUSH IT! But if you feel like turning the page to see for yourself, SHAKEN NOT STIRRED…A CHEMO COCKTAIL is avail on Amazon and Kindle. Click HERE. And TODAY, in commemoration of that night 8 years ago when my stars went blue but thankfully not out, and in celebration and with deep gratitude for each and every one of the 4,207,680 minutes-with-me-in-it/moments made, not to mention, another late but very important date with my sweet Mikeyy tonite…THE KINDLE VERSION IS FREE!

Please Sir May I Have Some More?

Please Sir

More. That’s my word for 2016. When I got cancer, one of my docs gave me one of the best pieces of advice anybody’s ever given me. He told me a story about how when his mother got cancer when he was a boy, that her dream was to live to see her kids graduate high school. She got her dream come true. A happy ending. But an ending. Unfortunately, she passed away shortly after. The thing my doc said that struck me so, then, and has stuck hard and fast with me these #lucky7 years, since I was standing in his mama’s shoes, was very simply: Ask for more.

Last year’s word was Jubilee. Super apropos, since I hit the big 5-O in September. Looking back and reading the leaves of my 2015 calendar, my year of Jubilee lived up to its name. And then some more. It was most def a celebrationFULL year. Renewal. Remission. Good fortune. Here’s my 2015 recap. Some of the highlights. My top 15, obvi, cuz 2015:

  1. Milestones: 50th birthday. My year of Jubilee. 7 year cancerversary. 28th anniversary. RUTS-my first endurance run-I ran for 10 hours and clocked 35 miles and realized I am ultra runner. Route 66 Marathon-my first marathon/ultra marathon race.
  2. All things new. Love Shack. New digs/diving board for this next #emptynest chapter of our lives. New church. Fittingly it’s called Crossroads. Not that there was anything wrong with the old one. But after accidentally becoming the cancer chick there I decided I needed to bust out of just playing that role. Cuz it is who I am, but not all of who I am. New branding/web site. Thanks to Blustery Day Design! I freaking love it and can’t recommend them highly enough! New office. The first real live office I’ve ever had! I’m so superkaPower stoked to create stuff in this new space! #roomofmyown Im calling it The Rabbit Hole.
  3. Boyz graduated college. No more college tuition. RAISE! All 3 Redheads happy in their lives, with good jobs.
  4. Finding out I’m gonna be a Gigi!
  5. Went back to Kripalu, as Jen’s assistant. Noticed shift had happened. Yes &…
  6. Participated in a local storytelling event here in Cincy, kinda like The Moth. Click HERE to check it out. Participated in the Route 66 Marathon bloggers panel at the expo. Got to talk about #SHAKEN on Fox 19 Think Pink. Ford Warriors in Pink listed SHAKEN NOT STIRRED…A CHEMO COCKTAIL in their list of recommended reads! Click HERE for that way cool link. I got to write a cool article to honor my friend Vanesa for Sohza magazine.
  7. One of my Route 66 pix made it into an “American Road Trip” exhibit in Brooklyn. Click HERE for the deets.
  8. Elizabeth Gilbert commented on one of my posts on my FB wall that I “write like a dream”! #swoon
  9. Grace Project midwest and east coast road-trips. Too many highlights. I could write a book. Athena Division. Die-in on Capitol Hill. New Riff benefit. Cancer Support Community events. Charleston Exhibit. Christ Hospital event. 200 photo shoots. 1/4 of the way there. Milestones. literal and metaphorical. Meaning. Momentum.
  10. Had the pleasure of hosting my friend Amy Ferris in town for an amazing writing workshop and Grace Project benefit.
  11. Going to Donald Miller’s Storyline Conference with my sweet Mikeyy. Mikeyy’s movie making it into Cincy Film Fest. Click HERE for the link to check out his movie. #proudmama
  12. Deepak Oprah 21 day Meditation Experiences. Gratitude. Abundance. Belief. So good! #thingsthatmakeyousayohm
  13. Operation FORE! Damn golf ball OUT. And it wasn’t cancer! Yay and thank God!
  14. Finally being able to help my mom get her teeth fixed.
  15. Family vacation on Folly. For Christmas, our anniversary, New Year’s Even, and my sister’s wedding.

As I prayed and meditated about this year’s word, that story kept raising it’s hand like it’s name was Horshack or something. At first MORE sounded like such a greedy word to throw down, after a year of Jubilee and so much celebration. But the MORE it said “Ooh! Ooh! Ooh! Ooh!” I have come to see MORE as raw, authentic, childlike expression of gratitude. So a deep sense of gratitude is where I’m coming from as I share my sweet 16 resolutions/goals/intentions for 2016:

  1. More books. Write shitty first draft of WHY DID THE TURTLE CROSS THE ROAD? by June, in time for…
  2. More roles. I get to become a Gigi!
  3. More miles. forward motion. fitness. Log 1000 miles for Moon Joggers. Run 5K 5 days a week. Cross-train swim/bike/row 2 days. 10 minute mile. 2 hour half. Do a tri. Bike Loveland trail.
  4. More #Shaken it up. Record SHAKEN NOT STIRRED. Upload it, and Wind in My Hair to iTunes.
  5. More snappy. Route 66 Pix photo exhibit. Brooklyn “American Road Trip” show January 20.
  6. More things to learn: to play my red guitar and uke, Chi Gong or Tai Chi, origami crane, photoshop and more photography skills, drum circle, Periscope.
  7. More snail mail: Send more #postcardfromtheroad, more thank you/thinking of you notes.
  8. More girlfriend time. Girls night out once a month. Get to know our new neighbors. Hang out at the pool this summer.
  9. More creativity. Write every damn day. blog more. vlog more. write more poetry. write Alice in Wonderland writing workshop. Periscope. Take more pictures. more #postcardfromtheroad. Set up Etsy or other shop.
  10. More yes &…
  11. More yoga and meditation. Begin every day with meditation and intention setting. #yogaeverydamnday. Check in b4 bed.
  12. More organization. Unpack last damn box in my office. Finish creating space to create in. Go paperless as possible with Evernote. File the important papers. Org Pix. Get my Email chimp up and running. Update snail mail addys. Social media.
  13. More self-care. schedule my projects and myself into the calendar. Eat & drink mindfully. Juice more. Hydrate more. Breathe more. Meditate more. Read more. More Acupuncture/Massage/Float therapy.
  14. More time in my old fave blues. Lose 16.
  15. More travel. More Denver to hold my sweet grandbaby. More Grace road trips. Buen Camino? Spend as much of winter as possible somewhere warm. Spring break writing retreat to focus on book.
  16. More wheels. New car. Maybe a dog for a sidekick?

And just cuz, here’s a few lines from my ultimate Bucket List of hopes and dreams and prayers:

  1. See U2 in concert.
  2. Meet Taylor Swift.
  3. Find a cute little apartment in Denver so I can base their sometimes to spend time with my sweet grand baby.
  4. Route 66 book/photo exhibit tour.
  5. Live in warmer climate.
  6. Buen Camino. Be in Spain for Miguel Cervantes birthday. Read Don Quixote in Spain.
  7. Get paid to travel and pay my way doing what I love and loving what I do.
  8. Fly first class.
  9. Grace Project funding. May it be able to fund Isis so she can do it full time, and to pay my way.
  10. Grow my tribe.
  11. See the Jesus in Rio.
  12. Albuquerque balloon fest.
  13. Hike Appalachian trail.
  14. Write Homeschool Happy Hour.
  15. Publish book of haiku and photography.
  16. … (I always like to end my #bucketlist with an ellipsis, in case my chemo brain forgot something cool. #neverendingbucketlist)

So what about you? What’s your word for sweet ’16 and/or what’s on your “To Do” and bucket lists? I’d love to hear from you and will pinky swear to cheer you on if you honor me with your word/lists. Feel free to comment below with your lists or links to your New Year’s Resolution blog posts, or to contact me via email.

All I Want For Christmas Is No More Cancer

Last Chemo Cocktail

Whoa. 6 years ago yesterday. My last chemo cocktail. My Redheads came to sing Christmas carols in the cocktail lounge that day. And they sang my very favorite Christmas song EVER, the “Cancer is a Bitch” song, which they wrote for me in the stairwell of the chemo lounge, while I was downing that last (24/24) damn cocktail that day.

Here’s some superkaPOWer happy footage of me getting unhooked:

Not everybody gets a drum roll AND a guitar roll like that! And that adorbs bald chick sitting next to me is my chemo sister Shelly. We met in the chemo cocktail lounge on my birthday and was pretty much the best birthday present EVER. #chemoisthickerthanwater. To this day, we still book our oncology maintenance appointments together whenever possible. Talk about double trouble!

chemo sisters forever

Here’s the bootleg footage of the Redheads singing my song to me that day. (The song begins at 1:20, so fast forward a bit if you want to skip the set up.)

There wasn’t a dry eye in the room, and I still can’t watch that video without my eyes leaking all over the place. But catchy chorus, yeah?! I think it’s obvi why it’s the theme song to SHAKEN NOT STIRRED…A CHEMO COCKTAIL!

My sweet Redheads old band aka The Kicked-in Fence recorded a pretty freaking stellar studio version on their Cheesin’ Moon EP. Click HERE for the iTunes link if you feel like cranking it up and singing cancer is a bitch with us really loud. It’s a super fun way to flip off cancer, and also makes a good stocking stuffer for pretty much anybody says amen to the chorus.

Sitting in that chemo cocktail lounge and downing my last chemo cocktail 6 years ago yesterday, all I really wanted for Christmas, obvi, was NO MORE CANCER! I was lucky, and received the amazing gift of no more chemo! Here’s a cool pix that sums up how, not just me, but the whole family, felt about that.

no more chemo jump

But just because I’m STILL jumping up and down over my good fortune to STILL be here to celebrate another merry Christmas and another happy new year… it’s STILL all I really want for Christmas. NO. MORE. CANCER. And not just in the no more chemo sense, for me. NO. MORE. CANCER.  Period. End of its story. I STILL have so many TOO MANY friends STILL fighting the bitch that is cancer this Christmas. That is not OK with me. And that is why even though, God-willing, cancer is done with me, I am not done with it. Not until I get my wish. NO. MORE. CANCER. It’s really all I really want for Christmas. This holiday season I’m praying my ass off for that, singing the chorus of my fave Christmas song at the top of my lungs, and sending all my love, to all of my survivor, and especially my metavivor (stage 4 metastatic breast cancer fighters whose cancer fight never ends cuz there is no cure for metastic breast cancer), peeps. #cancerisabitch #stage4needsmore #dontignorestage4