From Live Sincerely

Buckle Up, Kids…it’s 2014! And Better Put Your Shades On. It’s Bright Out There.

[This New Year’s Day post is drawn from my writer’s group lesson that I taught for the December meeting of Word Bums, as we were all in the midst of the Advent season of looking forward to and counting down till Christmas.]

Today is the 8th day of Christmas aka New Year’s Day, which means that many of us spent last night counting down till the ball dropped on Times Square. The fam spent New Year’s Eve in Denver, as we are here on #familyvacation to move my daughter and her husband here, where he will begin seminary to become an army chaplain. We actually got to watch the ball drop twice, since the network showed it drop on Big Apple Time at 10pm here in Denver, then pressed replay when hickory dickory dock got around to striking midnight here in the mountains.

I was good with that kinda deja vu because I never mind a double dose of celebration;)

Traditionally, true loves gave each other 8 maids a-milking on this day in history. Like I’m going to give Dave a harem?! Right. Anyway, I think a fun calendar is way more apropos gift, even though there’s an app for that. IMHO. One of my other true loves, my daughter Amanda, gave me a yoga dog calendar, for instance. I love it! It makes me smile because it’s dogs doing yoga poses. Better than I can do said yoga poses, lol. (Which shouldn’t surprise me, I suppose, since one of the most basic yoga poses is called the downward facing DOG;) It also makes me smile because it will make me think of my sweet Amanda every time I look at it, since it’s a gift from her. (Also, I’ve actually kinda sorta been exploring the idea of getting a dog/sidekick to help ease me into this empty nest chapter. So I’m not just learning yoga from adorable pups, I’m window shopping and wondering how much is that doggie in the calendar.)

In the spirit of the counting down the 12 days of Christmas, the resolutions commonly associated with the 8th day, looking forward to the New Year—which is like a new slate (or calendar), and leaning into the Epiphany—which is the manifestation of that which we resolved (prepared, waited, hoped, longed for)…I thought it would be fun to write the proverbial letter to Santa or Christmas wish list. 12 gifts we will give ourselves in 2014. One gift for each month.

Making the list is like wrapping all the presents. Look over your calendar, your schedule, your to do lists, your wish lists, your hopes and unchartered dreams. Let’s charter them. Let’s make a list (a wish list, of resolutions, a bucket list—whatever you want to call it.) And not in the anticipation of dying sense, but in the getting busy about living sense.

Like my friend Vanessa, and her Live Sincerely Project. Yes, Vanessa is dying, but the point of her project, is to not wait until you find out you are dying to really start living. The 8th day of Christmas, or the beginning of new year, or really any old NOW… is a perfect time to start.

Like my little warrior sister Maya the Magnificent and the bucket list she did last summer. Maya is currently in remission, thank God, after fighting AML and MDS with chemo, 2 bone marrow transplants, and her smile. The goal of her summer project was to take back the term bucket list by embracing the simple joys of life. “One game of ‘messy Twister’ at a time”.

Here are 12 writing prompts to help things get percolating:

  1. My bucket list for 2013
  2. About bucket lists…
  3. Write about a time when you kicked off an item of your bucket list, or what you imagine it will feel like to kick off on or complete the list
  4. Remix your own 12 days of Christmas
  5. Dear Santa…
  6. Epiphany
  7. What are you waiting for?
  8. To get busy living, really living, means:
  9. Wax on about living sincerely
  10. What are some “birthday candle” type wishes for your 2014 list?
  11. What are some “pie in the sky” hopes and dreams for your 2014 list?
  12. Risky business. Take some risks with your list. Not just “go big or go home” but go big before ya go home.

Please feel free to share your list in the comments. I’d love to see! And I’ll share mine in a follow-up post.

Cheers, love, and happiest of new years!

Not-a-Chemo-Cocktail Party

no admittanceI can’t wait to TGI next Friday night because there will be a not-a-chemo-cocktail party on tap at the Evanshire, to celebrate the jaw-dropping ridiculous beautiful gift of this 5 year kilometer marker since I was diagnosed with cancer. (I’m sorry to get all political like throwing down kilometers and such, but it’s my party and I think miles are silly. The truth is, I’m just waiting for a Metric Party to form and then I will think about getting all political;)

5 years is aka 260 weeks, or strengths, depending on how you look at it. Or 1,826 daze, which is pretty much the state I run around in these days. I’d like to blame the chemo or the “vespa incident”, but it could also have something to do with getting to ride this crazy fun roller coaster called life, around the sun 5 BONUS TIMES…with my hands up.

43,824 hours with your hands in the air is kinda like the little piggy who said, “Wee, wee, WEEEEEEEE all the way home”, if you think about it real hard like I do.

And with all those twists and turns it seems a pretty momentous thing to realize I have amassed 2,629,440 minutes since hearing the C-word 5 years ago. Which pretty much makes me feel like the minute millionaire I’ve become. (Take that, stupid cancer!)

157,766,400 seconds ago the big damn C may have turned up the volume on my clock, but the thing is: 1) I don’t mind the beat. 2) All that tick-tocking does, is make me want to live louder. 3) And anyway, I hate alarms, so I just threw the clock out the window.

As the time flies…there is, quite obviously, much fun to be had…thus my 5-Year-Cancerversary/Not-a-Cheom-Cocktail Party, at which point, this lucky girl will be lifting a glass or two, clink-clinking away, and saying cheers and thanks to all my lovely peeps for being there and cheering me on! Y’all freaking ROCK! The Beatles pretty much summed up my sentiment: I get by with a little help from my friends. Amen.

High 5 Years, FORE!(tee)-Love, 3 Damn Spots, Chapter 2, & 1 PSA

Five years ago today I was 42 (Technically, 42-and-11/12ths, but I hate getting all technical, so I called it 40-love—not because I mind getting older, but I’d just fallen head over heels in love with tennis that year—and I liked the score) and like any good hitchhiker in the galaxy, I carried a towel with me everywhere. Mostly, because everywhere that summer, was the tennis court.

Haven’t thrown in that towel yet.

Five years ago today I hosted an end-of-season tennis party at the Evanshire. Afterward, my sweet Mikeyy and I stayed up most of the night watching the Perseid Meteor Shower.  As I headed outside to count shooting stars and make wishes—I found myself most definitely in need of a wish or two—I accidentally chest bumped into something and ended up finding the damn spot that turned out to be 3 damn spots that turned out to be cancer.

It wasn’t cancer yet. I sure as hell wasn’t going to go there if I didn’t have to. So I went outside, cuddled up next to Mikeyy under that big beautiful sky, looking up. Hoping. Praying.

But it was the last night I remember not having cancer. That time with Mikeyy will always be one of those things this mama treasures way deep in her heart. I wrote about that night in chapter 2 of SHAKEN NOT STIRRED…A CHEMO COCKTAIL: A comedy about my tragedy. 

It's available on Amazon and Barnes
It’s available on Amazon
And Kindle!
And Kindle

You can look inside the book on Amazon and read chapter 2 for yourself for free if you want to check it out. If you end up liking the main character, at all, you could give me the coolest high five EVER if you’d do me the deeply felt honor of writing a review on Amazon. And if you do, please email me your mailing address and I’d like to send you a small token of my great gratitude.

And as I am pretty much a walking billboard for breast cancer awareness, this is  part of the post where I get to play my cancer card and charge you to pretty please with a cherry on top, go check yourself. Rethink Breast Cancer has a super cool reminder app with a simple demo of how to check and what to look for. Click HERE to see the video.

Also if you’re behind on getting  your mammogram, this is your telegram for that too. I wrote about what a big freaking deal my first and only mammogram wasn’t  in chapter 3 of my book. And Geralyn Lucas has the coolest YouTube video about stuff chicks do that are way freaking worse than having your boobs squished a little bit. Click HERE to see that video.

Once you’ve checked yourself and/or made a mammogram appointment, let me know if you feel like making my day or if you feel like getting the most awesome virtual high five from me!

Cheers (to your health) and love y’all,


p.s. Yesterday was perfect metaphor for these past 5 years. I Vlogged about it on  A Year Of Living Sincerely.

Pieces of Rest


Orange is the color I think of when I think of September.  Deliciously crunchy orange leaves along the path leading up to the Evanshire. After catching rays all summer long. come September, I see them hanging ten on the cool breeze—trying to catch a little shade shade, I suppose. This reminds me a bit of Marcel the Shell who likes to hang glide on a Dorito. Coincidentally, deliciously crunchy orange leaves pack a crunch much like Doritos but are even more addictive than Doritos. I find them as addictive as bubble wrap.

Despite the uncharacteristic cooler dips this crazy Cincinnati summer weather has been taking, the leaves aren’t the least bit crunchy yet. The leaf I just tore off the calendar was the normally red hot month of July—which I usually have to remove with an oven mitt. I was side-blinded, not to mention color-blinded, when I saw it’s August.

I guess hadn’t really thought about the color of August before.

These past 5 years my August calendar leaves have experienced what can only be described properly during shark week, as #pinknado. It’s a lot like Pinktober but October already had dibs on the color. Anyway, Pinkgust was just not going cut the Pink [used to be Gray] Poupon. Parden me, but August was going to need another color.

Five years ago this month #pinknado hit the #11 box on my calendar. Curiously, Perseus’s meteor showers were simultaneously making its splash over Cincinnati. I was headed outside to watch them with my sweet Mikeyy when I quite literally became one of those things that go bump in the night. The bump made a thump, and it hurt. I  felt the sore spot and was shocked to find a shooter size marble of a lump in my left breast. It felt like I’d  taken a meteor hit to the chest. But it was the middle of the night and there was really nothing to be done about it till morning. I had to just let go of the gravity. Mikeyy was waiting for me so I let myself get caught up in his orbit, which was where I wanted to be, with him, down here, looking up.

I wrote about that night in SHAKEN NOT STIRRED…A CHEMO COCKTAIL in a chapter which I think holds the key to the color of August. The song I had on loop while I was writing the chapter, was “When the Stars Goes Blue” by Tim McGraw. Whoa… it’s like the message was already written in the stars: August is clearly Blue.

God knows there’s been a lot of blue ever since I started seeing pink. This summer in particular has been rough. Last summer my Uncle Bill, my cousin Kaye, and a dear friend Mardy all passed away from cancer. These past couple weeks I have been to the funerals of two friends, both of them my age, who went to their rest after battling the bitch that is breast cancer. And we had another couple over to the Evanshire the other night to eat, drink, be merry, and pray with, as he’d been given a pretty hard prognosis last week. And my cousin Leslie, who was our flower girl in our wedding, lost a precious baby girl to Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome. I don’t really know much about Hypoplastic  Left Heart Syndrome except that I hate it as much as I hate cancer. God knows it makes me see red.

All that color is a lot of fireworks going off in my poor chemo brain, but that’s not really the point of this post. This is not a red, pink, or blue post.

At my friend Pattie’s memorial service, the pastor said a few things that I’ve been thinking about pretty much constantly these past 5 years since finding that damn spot, but especially lately, as my 5 year cancerversary is coming up smack dab in the middle of this blue month.

I don’t think I was the only survivor in the room who had a spiritual experience and wanted to shout AMEN when the pastor said that “Pattie did NOT lose her battle with cancer.” That drives me bOnKErS crazy when people say that. Dying from cancer doesn’t make one a “loser”.  Pattie finished cancer. The cancer is dead; she is alive and well and in the arms of her Maker, resting in peace from fighting the fight and finishing the race. She knows peace more than I’ll ever know it till I join her someday. How the hell is that losing? Like my friend Marsha said at our friend Marianne’s funeral on Saturday, “As much as my heart is breaking, she looks peaceful. That is what peace looks like.”

Indeed. But how to find that kind of peace in the land of the living?

“One thing” is basically how he summed things up. [And from here I’m paraphrasing, because I was trying to pay attention as much as I was trying to take notes.] But here’s the gist: If you could only use one word to describe yourself, what would it be? What one word do you think those who love you use to describe you? More to the point, what one thing will people miss about you when you are gone?

Honestly, that last question was all that I thought about when I was going through the dog days of cancer. Truth: my main motivation for fighting was to use the time to make my kids have miss me like crazy if I didn’t “win” my battle. Even now, post-ShakenNotStirred, I can’t seem shake that question. More Truth: that’s the only reason I keep waking up, stumbling out of my bed, trying to put one foot in front of the other. Moving forward, trying to live sincerely, hoping to leave a good memory that I was here.

And as I am still here, planning a 5-Year-Cancerversary/Not-a-Chemo-Cocktail-Party while simultaneously trying to figure out one word to describe me and one thing I hope people will miss about me, it makes me wonder what your one word/one thing is? And if you feel like commenting on my one word and one thing, I wouldn’t mind putting together that puzzle either.

Cheers, love, and selah,



The Book of Eileen

843fb-p1070224This was my sweet Gramcracker, Gloria Eileen DeVore Jeffries, May 11, 1922 – February 12, 2009. [That’s me with my arms around her in case you don’t recognize me without my spikey bleached blonde/purple hair. Today is her birthday and I miss her. I’ve been sitting here drinking my coffee in bed, thinking about her, digging up old pics and a couple old posts I wrote to honor her.] I don’t remember exactly when I started calling her Gramcracker. Somewhere along the road I got taller, relatively speaking, as in, than her; I guess I just felt like my cute little grandma needed a special pet name. Gramcracker just rolled off my tongue like it was destiny. I wish there was s’more to it, but there’s not.;)
Her given name was Gloria, which means glory. It doesn’t surprise me that she didn’t go by it, though. I don’t know all her reasons, but I like to imagine that she gave her given name to her God, just like she lived, for His own glory. She went by Eileen, which means light, and makes total sense if you knew her. When she was a little girl and shortly after she started speaking, she called herself, “I-E”. At 21 months, she was saying her prayers. Begging her mum to read the Bible to her about Jesus. Begging her mum to sing hymns to her. (I use the word “begging” in the loosest sense of the word, if you think her mum actually had any choice, and only because that is the euphemism her mum wrote in her baby book. If you knew my Gramcracker, you read that word more like an antonym.) At two-years-old, two of her favorite songs were, Jesus Bids Us Shine and He Wants Me for a Sunbeam. Once when she was sick, she “begged” her mom and grandma to sing those, and two other hymns, to her, over and over again and again, until they were almost sick but literally tired of them. And probably hoarse, if I know my Gramcracker. Now that I come to think of it, maybe Gram-cracker, was more of a divine tip, than a mere slip of my tongue. Grandma + firecracker = Gramcracker?! By the time she was four, she put childish things and prayers aside, preferring to sayThe Lord’s Prayer before bedtime, rather than the “little” one her little brother, Neal, said. From a very young age, I-E seemed to embody her name. Almost as if the children’s song, This Little Light of Mine, I’m Gonna Let it Shine was written just for her.

She graced my life with her godly presence and prayers from the moment I was born on September 27, 1965, until  February 12, 2009, when she went home to be with God, and my Grandpa. That is 15,845 days that she was my example and 15,845 days that she prayed for me. One of the most significant and beautiful things anybody has ever done/will ever do for me. It humbles me and lifts me up all at the same time. And makes me feel very, very blessed. And, yes, Josh Groban is singing You Raise Me Up in the background of my mind right now when I think about it.

Four years ago God raised her up and my Gramcracker entered her rest, blazing, as always the trail before me. To me she was an anchor. She had cast herself upon Jesus; and she also cast me upon Him, every day of my life, as she loved me and prayed for me, every day of my life.

15,845 days. That is probably the most significant thing anyone has ever done or will ever do for me, and one of my greatest treasures in this life. If I could find a precious of enough bottle, and bottle it, I would wear it around my neck and use it like Lucy’s Narnian vial with the magical cordial with healing powers. Like my Gramcracker, did for me.
She lifted me up to Him and she carried me. When I could walk she took my hand and I scurried along, at her heels. She walked before me and I followed her. Along the way, we began walking side by side. Further on, as she would scoot along with her wheeled-walker, she would crack herself up (which always cracked me up) calling herself my “rockin’ and rollin'” Gramcracker. And at times I’d push her in her wheelchair. I would receive a card a few days later thanking me. Even from a wheelchair that I was pushing, she was leading me.
To me she was a signpost, pointing me to Jesus, the Word who became flesh and dwelt among us. Now she is resting in peace, and dwelling in Him.

I don’t know how many days she read His Word while she dwelt here. But she was 86 when she died, and like I said, her baby book records that as early as 21 months she began begging her Mum to read to her the Bible about Jesus. That is higher math and I’m no math guru, but I know that’s a lot.

Here is just a sampling of some of her Bibles I collected from various nooks and crannies of her tiny apartment. As we were sorting through her things, I made a stack of her open Bibles and just sat there by myself for awhile, in awe. They were all worn, some to pieces, and were marked from cover to cover. Sermon notes, cross references, prayer requests, highlights, “precept”-style, names, dates, notes. A precious treasure trove.


The night before the funeral, I brought my Redheads to see my little “shrine”. I wanted them to see this particular inheritance my Gramcracker, their Gigi, left us. I wanted them to feel the weight of her devotion to God. She didn’t just read His Word (over and over and over…), she lived and breathed every Word. She loved God and she loved us, which was not just evident while she graced our lives, but all over the margins of her Bibles. (Do the math, Redheads, because you can be sure she prayed for you just as she prayed for me, all the days of your life for the rest of her life.)
Psalm 119:105 says, “Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” I don’t think it’s any coincidence that my Gramcracker’s name was Eileen, which means light. She showed me the path, helped put my feet upon it, pointed out the Lamppost for me, fought the fight, ran the race, kept the faith, and left the Book of Eileen behind for us to follow. Like she was leaving the light on for us.
She is still leading and I am still following.
[To my Gramcracker who “fought the good fight…finished the race…[and] kept the faith” (2 Tim. 4:7): I’m trying to keep up, my speedy little Gramcracker. I thank God for you and that you have received your reward and are resting in peace (2 Tim 4:8). I’m still tired from running a 1/2 marathon last weekend, Gramcracker. But that tired is on top of tired, and you know what I mean since a lot of those things are “groanings which cannot be uttered”—but which I believe both God and you understand. Anyway, I miss you like crazy. But I do believe I will see you again, God willing I finish my race one of these days having kept the faith. And, yes, Carrie Underwood is singing “See You Again” in the background while I’m typing these words, missing you. What I think I miss most, is that from the day I was born you were my greatest cheerleader in my life, and I feel a little lost at times since you’ve been gone. Yet I know you are now a part of the “great cloud of witnesses” surrounding me (Heb. 12:1) and I have no doubt you are still cheering me on just like you did while you were here with me, to follow your example as you followed Christ (1 Cor. 11:1). I know you see me from where you are, a tiny purple blur on this big blue dot, running my butt off trying to fight the good fight, finish the race, keep the faith, hoping to someday enter that rest. I imagine from your perspective it might look a little like Harold’s purple crayon saw a SQUIRREL. Which I imagine cracks you up. Which feels like the best way I can sum up my thoughts on this, your birthday… with thoughts of you smiling over me. Happy Birthday, Gramcracker.]

It Is Well

“!Hey there February. That was mighty sneaky of you…!” ~Amanda Michele Benton

Well… my sweet baby girl’s tweet first thing this morning took the words right out of my mouth. I mean, I know what they say about time flying, and I have been having the time of my life these days, but… holy crap how did we get to February already? I’ve barely slept a wink thus far this year, let alone toss my own two cents into the wishing well for 2013… and it’s already February?!

Such a lovely place
Such a lovely place (such a lovely place)

Between kicking off the New Year in Cabo with the hubster for our 25th anniversary, then heading to Alabama to kick-off The SCAR Project Birmingham Exhibition, all the while planning an upcoming trip to Israel to visit lovely survivor/previvor friends over there, not to mention, sneaking in runs here and there to train for the Breathtaking Jerusalem 1/2 Marathon (which btw I just got a tatoo on my writing hand that says “Breathe” in Chinese symbols… just in case), and… all the SQUIRRELS…

Well… I figure that sitting still is not my strong suit. Oh well. I feel pretty lucky about the hand I’ve been dealt and am digging getting to play all these fun cards in my hand. #winning

Since February is the month of hearts, which I hope is my strong suit, I figure today is as good a time as any to ante up, or, if you’re OK with metaphor surfing, I think I’ll raise two cents, toss them into that well, and tell you my wishes for 2013. Which I think are way more fun than…

ResolveSo obviously I’d like to make 13 of them. To symbolize my top 2,013 hopes and dreams, and yes, even a few resolves (as long as they are triple action cuz I dig multitasking) for this year we’ve already dipped our toes into: the year of our Lord, two-thousand and thirteen.

[disclaimer: the following wishes are in no particular order because the thought of putting them in order, frankly, stresses me out. And I’m so not in the mood for stress. Read my tattoo.]

In case you can't read sign language and/or Chinese, my hand says, "Peace" and "Breathe"
In case you can’t read sign language and/or Chinese, my hand  is bilingual. Translation: “Peace” and “Breathe”

1: First, a word. And by that, I mean a word for the year. My word for last year was given to me by my beautiful friend Mardy. It was ripples. Which is appropriate, for the ripple effect she had/has in my life. My word for 2013 was given to me by my sweet Amanda in a prayer for me.

“Oh, the other day I had some of our team pray over you guys and this is what they got… Momma, this image: a picture of a well, send the bucket down further, it’s not dry, you just need to go a tiny bit further to find the water that’s always been there. Oh, and make RIPPLES!”

Well I can’t even tell you how perfect a word that is for me. In 2011 I cast out. In 2012 I surfed on the ripples. This year it’s time to dig deep. Deep into well: very, abundantly, fully, as wished, in good health, an exclamation of surprise, a segue to fill gaps, a hole in the ground, a source of water etc., a place where water surfaces naturally, a spring, ink well, wishing well, to seep out of the surface.

2: I ran my first 1/2 marathon last November. Now I’m hooked. I’ve got one 5K (The Birmingham Red Nose Run) under my belt, and the Breathtaking Jerusalem 1/2 and the Cincinnati Flying Pig 1/2 Marathons on tap. That’s three out of 13 races I hope to finish in 2013. Digging deeper, running further this year.

3: A pilgrimage to the Holy Land. 3 weeks in Israel. Digging my toes into the same dirt Jesus walked on. Yeah, I get it that there is 2,000 years of dirt on top of the dirt he actually walked on, but it’s my parade and I’m bringing an umbrella;) And I’m also going to try to walk on water. Or at least float…in the Dead Sea.

4: A year of living sincerely is the VLOG I started on my 4 year cancerversary to honor my friend Vanessa and her The Live Sincerely Project, and to count down to my…

5: High-Five-Year Cancerversary Not-a-Chemo-Cocktail Party! August 20, 2013 will be my 5 year cancerverary, which I know is not a promise of anything… really, what is, until we find a damn cure… and even then, you never know when you’re, say, driving a Vespa in Rome and *poof* all of a sudden you’re faceplanting against a stone wall of a church like Wiley Coyote, and coming even closer to “checking out” than what hap’d with the damn cancer. Yeah I added head injury to insult my chemo brain was already feeling. Anyway, all that to say I’m having a freaking PARTY for my 5 year. It’s my parade and I’m bringing umbrellas. For the cocktails. Everybody’s invited.

6: Super proud and praying for my sweet Mateo’s mission trip with Destiny Rescue in June.

7: Can’t wait for July when my sweet Amanda and Gary will be back again from their mission trip to Wales.

8: Family Vacation! All I ever wanted. Vacation. Have to get away! Oh yeah! Can’t wait! The whole fam damily! Woo freaking hoo!

End of Chemo Family Vacation Celebration 2009

9: Book 2 is percolating. And I’ve got a book of sonnets in the works as well.

10: As today is Groundhog Day, I’m happy to report one of my wishes came true this morning… although at first, it seemed like just another winter day after day after day. Yay for Punxsutawney Phil, who did not, I repeat DID NOT see his shadow this morning! So spring is just chilling out in all this snow, waiting to be uncorked! All I can say is Cheers, y’all, and I’ll drink to that! Clink, clink!

11: Since my Redheads have flown the coop, I mean, left the nest, I’ve been taking a bunch of the most adorable little warrior sisters under my wings and connecting with an amazing organization called The Dragonfly Foundation, which brings comfort and cheer to kids with cancer. Oh. My. Heart. I superfreakingheart all my little dragonflies!

This is one of my fave pics of my little warrior sister Maya the Magnificent and me. She's letting me rub her head for good luck before my 3-month oncologist appt. Which worked, btw! Got the 'ol 2 thumbs up and another 3 month hall pass!
This is one of my fave pics of my little warrior sister Maya the Magnificent and me. She’s letting me rub her head for good luck before my 3-month oncologist appt a few weeks ago. Which worked, btw! Got the ‘ol 2 thumbs up and another 3 month hall pass!

12: Hopefully we’ll be able to announce the dates for The SCAR Project—DC Exhibition super soon! Fingers crossed! Stay tuned HERE on the SCAR blog. I’m super stoked to see the exhibit premiere in our nation’s capital! Also still working hard behind the scenes trying to find the right venue for The SCAR Project—LA Exhibition. Both fingers and toes crossed!

13: Last but not least, I know I have been doing more Vlogging than Blogging these days, but I hope to use a little of that triple action resolve and maybe even try and sit still a wee bit more often, because I really do like playing with words and blah blah blahging.

L’chaim, shalom, love, and Happy Groundhog Day y’all!

A Year of Living Sincerely

August 20, 2012
(Dave-O, Mateo, the luckiest girl in the world, Mikeyy)

Last Monday was my 4-year cancerversary—1,462 days since my doctor said that damn C-word to me. Despite the bad rap that sticks and stones usually get, we got the shit kicked out of us by a word 1,462 days ago.

I realize that might seem like an odd thing to celebrate.

1,462 days ago—sucked, not gonna tap dance around it. For one, I don’t know how to tap dance—but that’s beside the point. Cancer was a twist of my fate I had to figure out how to cope with—but lucky for me I can do the twist. Even luckier, I’ve had 1,462 days since that suckiest of days of a whole lotta twisting, a little bit of shouting, shaking it up baby, trying to work it on out and all that jazz.

Last Monday night, on the other hand, was the polar opposite of suck. The soundtrack to that crazy road-trip in between the two has definitely had Sheryl Crow’s “Every Day is a Winding Road” in the mix. Man oh man, I love that song by my fellow survivor sister. How many days did I try to walk off the chemo buzz listening to that song looped on my iPhone? Those days were literally winding roads;) That song was like a postcard from her saying “Been there, done that. Hang in there. Let’s hang out someday. Love, Sheryl.” Or something like that. But anyway, every day I did get a little bit closer to feeling fine, just like she said. And these days, those days are thankfully more and more in the rear-view mirror like faded signs.

So we celebrated. Rear-view mirrors. Faded signs. Milestones. Winding roads. An epic road trip. The scenic route. A great soundtrack. Memories. Kodak moments. The finish line. A green flag. Life. Health. 4 years. 1,462 days. The moment. Each other. So many mercies. So much to celebrate. And brother, I did. So much. (OK, maybe a little too much—but at least I didn’t try to tap dance;)

Anyway, for each of those 4 birthday candles, I thought I’d share 4 souvenirs I’ve picked up along this winding road.

  • Champagne corks. As you can tell from the previous paragraph, not to mention, if you know me at all, I’m all about celebrating the small stuff. And as often as possible. I so dig this quote by Robert Brault: “Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.” He also said, “Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.” This is the kind of disposition of celebration I hope I live my life with.
  • Daisy petals. I also want a disposition of gratitude. There’s so much to celebrate because there’s so much to be thankful for. Everywhere we look. If we open our eyes and take the time to look. The Bible says God’s mercies are new every morning. Waking up to a new day is a gift. Every heartbeat. Each breath, even morning breath but especially freshly brushed teeth breath. He scatters these and other assorted mercies throughout our day, like Van Gogh’s “Sower” (at least that’s how I picture it.) He is ridiculous generous. Oh how He loves. It’s like if we picked a daisy and started plucking petals, here’s how it always goes down: He loves me, He loves me, He loves me…. I’ve been keeping such a list here, my 1000 gifts. I’ve been having fun counting and I know I could totally go over the top if I wrote down each of those 1,462 days as a gift—which they are—but in the spirit of enjoying the journey I’ll just jot down my 4-year-cancerversary for #188.
  • Fortune cookies. I really do feel like I’m the luckiest girl in the world sometimes. I try to feel like this as often as possible, because it feels good. I guess I’m whatever kind of hedonist or epicurean that makes me. Anyway, besides the grace of God, I owe a lot of this to the ridiculous good fortune of being surrounded by such damn good peeps. The Beatles, methinks, said it best, “I get by with a little help from my friends.” Truly I do. And truly I mean to have a disposition of paying it forward. One small way I’m trying to do this, and there’s still a few days left this month, is that for the month of August I’m paying forward 100% of my proceeds from my book Shaken Not Stirred… a Chemo Cocktail to The Save the Ta-tas Foundation and the breast cancer researcher superheroes they fund on their mission (not)impossible to find a cure.
  • Tattoos. I have 5 tattoos. So far. Each one is like a stamp on my passport from this crazy cancer road trip. I got my first one after I finished chemo cocktails. It’s a lucky charm, and my sister Jennie, my daughter Amanda, and I all three got one together to put a stamp on that awful bar tab. I wrote about that tattoo in more detail HERE. I got my second and third tattoos on a day when I had my 3 month check-up with my oncologist and my friend Terri was meeting with hers to find out she has Lymphoma. There’s a Bible verse that says “I believe; help my unbelief.” -Mark 9:24. I live there. Those words are written on my heart and I imagine they’re also on the insides of my eyelids because whenever I close my eyes I see them. That day I had them etched on my wrists where I can see and remember. The one on my left is bold, and in black.  The one on the right is white, almost visible, but still there. The font for each of them is the same elegant script, tying them together in the most eloquent prayer I know. My forth tattoo is simply an elegant rendering of the Japanese symbol for 3. It is for my 3 Redheads, my 3 reasons, as they are all flying the nest these days. They have been the most delightful companions these past 21 years every day of their lives as I was lucky enough to be their stay-at-home then homeschool Mum. As much as I’m excited to see them chase their dreams (and chase after them chasing their dreams) I’m going to miss my sidekicks. The 3 is just a little reminder of them, and a sign for them that I’ll always be by their side. My newest tattoo is inspired by my beautiful friend Vanessa, her life, and her Live Sincerely Project and tattoo. Vanessa has stage 4 breast cancer which has gone metastatic to her brain. I hate to type these words but the piss me off reality is that she is dying. And yet, it’s not like she’s laying down waiting to die or anything. That. is NOT. Vanessa’s style. Never has been never will be. She’s dying like she’s lived these past 29 years: Sincerely. Not only that, but she’s started a project encouraging others to live sincerely (and not wait till they are dying to start living) which has started a global movement. Please check it out. I promise you’ll be inspired by Vanessa’s story and example. And I double dog dare you to take the pledge with me and live sincerely.

In honor of her, in celebration of my 4-year-cancerversary, and in anticipation of that dangling carrot of a 5-year-cancerversary, I’ve taken the pledge to live sincerely and I’m documenting it. I’ve begun a daily VLOG on YouTube called a year of living sincerely. You can find me under JoulesE, EvanshireTV, or a year of living sincerely, if you’d like to follow my Quixotic adventures. I’d love to have you along for the ride while we count down for my 5-year-cancerversary/not-a-chemo-cocktail-party BASH on August 20. 2013.