From Running



This is a #fbf to a superpower freaky Friday I had two weeks ago, in which I did a superkaPOWer scary thing and go up ON A STAGE at a storytelling event in Cincinnati. The event was produced by my friends at Rebel Storytellers. These BESPOKEN events are seriously one of the funnest night’s out in #Cincy. (Save the date: the next BESPOKEN event is January 15, 2016!) The storytellers (and the band) (also there is improv) all riff on a 4-letter word. Previous words have been: KISS last Valentines Day, HERO this past summer, and MASK was the one we just did the week before Halloween. None of the storytellers know what any of the other storytellers are riffing about. It’s pretty magical how it all fits together and unfolds.

Here’s a selfie I took from the stage to remember that time I channeled my inner #littlebravetoaster and did a superkaPOWer scary thing. (As you can see some of those scary peeps are obvi zombies getting ready to jump the stage…or break out the thriller dance;)


Here’s a video the hubcap made of my MASK story:

Click HERE to read my MASK story. So superpower STOKED to have it up on my friend Jen Pastiloff’s most uber fab Manifest-Station!

To sum up: doing scary things ROCKS!

My next BIG scary thing is the #Route66 marathon/world’s shortest ultra in Tulsa later this month. I signed up before I got sidelined during August and September, when I had to have Operation #outdamngolfball #golfballectomy #hysterectomy #oopherectomy #wholeshebangectomy surgery. I feel like I’m back at least 75%—which is way better than when I wondered if I would ever be able to run again without my insides falling out! I ran the #cincinnati #queenbee #halfmarathon a few weeks ago to gauge where I was in the #comeback process, and whether or not I thought I could/should go for the full at Tulsa’s epic #route66marathon. My conclusion is: #ithinkican #tulsaorbust #okiedokie. It may not be the fastest or prettiest marathon in the world, but the finish line and obvi the BLING will still taste superpower yummy! I will run, walk, CRAWL to it if I have to! #turtlepower #slowandsteadyeatsthebling #cowabunga! And also obvi, I’ll be instagramming it UP! So make sure you follow me there @joulesevans if you wanna get some kicks on Route 66 by taking a virtual run on #themotherroad with me!

What’s a scary thing you’ve done recently and what’s the next scary thing on tap for you? Post below. #ithinkyoucantoo!


Ford Warrior in Pink
Me at the Ford Warriors in Pink booth at Cincy’s Race for the Cure a couple weeks ago. Super freaking humbled and honored that they’ve included SHAKEN NOT STIRRED…A CHEMO COCKTAIL on their list of recommend reads! Click HERE to check it out!

Today I’m 5 weeks out from my golfballectomy/hysterectomy/oopherectomy basically the wholefreakingshebangectomy. Thought I’d give a little update. First of all, I have been humbled and lifted up by all the small and big kindnesses to me while I’ve been temporarily sidelined (but on the edge of my seat here on the bench) during my #recovery. Thank you, thank you, a hundred million thank yous! As if I didn’t already feel like the #luckiestduck that I get to…

  • still. be. here.
  • and STILL be celebrating my #lucky7 year cancerversary. I’m not done being happy about it.
  • be working on my #comeback after my oncological gynecologist’s uber fab golf game in re: “Operation out Damn Golf Ball” #FORE!
  • be giving the highest high-five that there’s 5 weeks in the rear-view mirror since surgery, and only T-7 more daze till I can #runhappy #runfree again! #handsintheair
  • be packing up for another adventure…with the Grace project…another #graceprojectontheroad-trip! Connecticut (my birthplace), Philly, Richmond, VA, Coastal NC, Raleigh, NC, Atlanta, GA, Charleston, SC…ready or not, here we come! Click HERE for more info.
  • turn the Big 5-0 in T-W-E-N-T-Y daze and then zoom zoom she’s offfffff…on another road-trip around the sun! #cowabunga
  • be working on my next project, which I’m so uber ridiculous freaking STOKED about and can’t. freaking. WAIT! to tell you guys more about!

besides all that THERE’S YOU CRAZY BEAUTIFUL PEEPS! In my life. My tribe. I mean, sinceriously, you guys are icing on the cake. Thank you for that. #nomnom

Tomorrow, I have a special gift for you guys on the blog. I threw down a little 7-year retrospective #spokenword #becausetheworldneedsmorepoetry in my open letter to #fuckcancer last week. Here’s a pic of them flipping off cancer 7 years ago that I put in my book in the chapter they wrote for me.

redheads flipping off cancer

7 years ago, this month, this week, at the Cincy Race for the Cure 2008. Two weeks after my mastectomy. Amanda had just slammed her middle finger in the car on the way to the race. That’s why she was flying that bird in the first place. Then we all decided that was exactly how we were feeling about cancer right then right there. So M&M joined the party. My sweet Redheads. My 3 reasons.

They went through cancer as much as I went through cancer. And in some ways, that seems so much more unfair to me, what they had to go through, watching their mum suffer like that. Having the roles reversed in their supposed to be wonder years and becoming their mother’s keepers/caretakers. Still bursts my heart wide open. Humbles me. Makes me proud at the amazing human beings those 3 sweethearts of my heart they are to me.

I get lots of sweet messages from peeps who are so freaking touched by the chapter my kids wrote for my book, asking how they are doing these days? So I asked the Redheads for a little something special for me, to share with y’all, for my lucky 7 year cancerversary present. So they’ve each thrown down their own 7 year retrospective, which I will be featuring on the blog over the next 3 days.

Meanwhile…I already threw down some words slamming cancer with my poetry, but since they say a picture is sometimes worth more than a 1000 words, here’s a couple of me, then and now, to wrap this post UP. 

Then. September 12, 2008 The hubcap & me crushing the finish line. 2 weeks post mastectomy. It took me so long to finish, they had already deflated the finish line by the time I crossed it. So I did, literally, crush it! My first first bling! It's where I got bit with the bug!
September 12, 2008
The hubcap & me crushing the finish line. 2 weeks post mastectomy. It took me so long to finish, they had already deflated the finish line by the time I crossed it. So I did, literally, crush it! My first race…my first bling! It’s where I got bit with the bug!
Now. August 28, 2015 #lucky7 years later another tasty finish #morebling! Ford Warrior in Pink.
August 28, 2015
#lucky7 years later
Another tasty finish. Yay for #morebling!
Underneath the finish line, but still crushing it! #nomnom 

12 Gifts of Christmas [unwRAP Mix]

Happy 11th day of Christmas everybody! So, the traditional gift for today, would be 11 pipers piping—which makes me lmao a little because of the interesting twist that song could take here in Colorado these days. Anyway, just sitting here at the coziest little coffee shop in my daughter Amanda’s new hood, sipping not on a pipe, but a Cortado, and watching all the fluffy snowflakes make a white canvas of Denver for my baby girl to begin writing the next chapter of her story on.


And it’s just as enchanting to begin a happy new year here, with her, in this storybrook-like setting, which is where I find myself looking forward to 2014 and the 12 gifts (otherwise known as New Year’s resolutions) that I am giving myself. In no particular order. They are a mixture of personal goals, bucket list items, birthday candle wishes, and pie in the sky dreams.

  1. Last year I ran 5 half marathons to celebrate my 5 year cancerversary. This year I’m upping the ante to 1/2 a dozen 1/2s (Choices, choices! …Charleston, SC/Heart Mini/Flying Pig/Grand Canyon/Little Miami/Air Force/Cleveland/Cincinnati) and crossing my fingers for a full.
  2. Dave and I have already signed up for the Grand Canyon 1/2 marathon in May, which allows me to open one big fat bucket list item of seeing the Grand Canyon with a side of Circ De Soleil Beatles.
  3. Schedule my writing as a priority into my days to whip my WIPs (Homeschool Happy Hour…it’s 5 o’clock somewhere, kids and Bottoms Up…”Getting Over” Cancer) into books.
  4. Finish recording the audio book version of Shaken Not Stirred…a Chemo Cocktail.
  5. Develop my own yoga practice outside of my classes. Consider taking yoga teacher training so I could help other cancer survivors learn yoga.
  6. Learn to make origami cranes. So I can make a 1000. Praying for my survivor peeps as I make each one. Then give them away one by one.
  7. Take the stairs whenever possible. The first time I went to Paris we took the elevator up the Eiffel Tower. It has driven me crazy ever since. When my sweet Mikeyy and got a second chance to go back to Paris with high hopes of finally climbing the stairs, they were closed.
  8. Drink 1/2 my weight (in ounces) of water per day. Between the aftermath of chemo, my difficulty in sitting still, and my beverages of choice (black coffee/red wine) I struggle with staying properly hydrated. Need to focus on this, and always be sipping on the H2O’s. I used to give up wine for Lent every year before I got cancer. But then the year I got cancer my sweet Amanda was sad about me giving up anything for Lent, since she felt like I already had so much taken away, so I didn’t give it or anything up that year. I miss the spiritual discipline and look forward to resuming the practice. It’s always been a pie in the sky goal to one day give up coffee (for Lent) since that seems the hardest thing, as I cannot not drink coffee every day, without giving myself a headache. Bread and wine are the next hardest, and elements of my diet that I will offer up this Lent. I love to cook and especially enjoy pairing wine with my meals; beyond that, I am basically a carbohydratarian at heart. So this is a biggie for me. But I’m taking back something cancer tried to take from me: the practice of this spiritual discipline.
  9. Now that the Redheads have all flown the Evanshire, it’s time for simplifying, de-cluttering, streamlining, organizing this hobbit hole for 2. In order to help me wrap this gift so I can have the pleasure of opening it, I have hired a part-time personal assistant to kick my ass into gear and keep me on track. This will also free me up to write.
  10. Make memory book photo albums for the Redheads. I bought the albums after my sweet Amanda’s sweet 16th birthday when she gave me the idea. But somewhere between the last time I developed an actual role of film, and the proliferation of digital cameras in the Evanshire not to mention copious amounts of digital pictures, and a couple of computer crashes to boot, it became an overwhelming puzzle to sort all these snapshots of our life. My hope is to give each of my Redheads their memory book photo album for Valentines Day this year. With a little help from my friend and personal assistant.
  11. Write poetry, Blog and Vlog once a week. They are all good for my writing. Poetry + Prose = Beauty. Blogging is a good way to connect with my tribe of peeps, to test drive stuff I’m working on with them, and to get valuable feedback from them. Vlogging yanks me out of my comfort zone, which is behind the screen, not on it. For me it’s boot camp to tame the shy.
  12. Recently I googled: Cancer, Writing, Yoga, Retreat, thinking I needed some kind of kick-starter to this next chapter in my life (after cancer, empty nest, book 2).  I found what I was looking for on the very first try. I signed up and later this month I am roadtripping to Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health in the Berkshires and I can’t wait to unwrap that gift to myself.

So that’s my 12 gifts. If you haven’t already shared your 12 gifts or New Year’s resolutions, whatever you want to call them, please feel fee to do so in the comment section. Also please link your blog if you have one. We can cheer each other on!

Tomorrow is the 12th day of Christmas, and I will be writing about my word for the year. Have you already chosen on? Or has a word chosen you? I’d love to hear and be inspired. Please also share that in the comment section.

Cheers, love, and happy unwrapping!

Running On Empty

[True confession: So I haven’t run in a week. Part of me feels like a lazy bum about it. Part of me is still trying to recover from back to back 10Ks in which I ran said lazy bum off, trying to keep up with Dave’s pace. Dude’s got long legs and he used to be a cross-country runner back in the day. I did chalk up a couple of my personal bests in the process, though, so I’m not complaining. Just catching my breath. Part of me is resting up for our next big race, Indy’s Monumental 1/2 Marathon on November 2. (It will be Dave’s first 1/2, and my 5th this year of my 5-year-cancerversary.) Part of me has been taking this breather to spend some time sitting my bum on my shrink’s couch, trying to process through some of the whirlwind this past 5 years has been. Part of me has been practicing the famous bum in chair yoga pose I wrote about here recently, to actually get some writing done. I know, that’s a lot of parts; but I’m told I’m complicated like that. Anyway, I thought I’d try something a little different here on the old blah blah blog, and throw down one of the things I’m working on currently. It’s kinda sorta a sequel to SHAKEN. Not a Chemo Cocktail Part 2 Chemo, God forbid; and obviously, not STIRRED; but rather a Life: Part 2. The working title is BOTTOMS UP…”GETTING OVER” CANCER. Or something like that. It’s as much of a work in progress as is this possible prologue, as is Part 2, as is this character in the story, in progress. Inception much? Anyway, speaking of progress, let’s cross our fingers and proceed to the prologue. It’s called “Running on Empty”—cue Jackson Browne.]

Fingers crossed

I’ve been hurrying a lot.

The truth is, ever since I got cancer I’ve been in a hurry. First I was in a hurry to get it the hell out if me. Then I was in a hurry to graduate my boys from high school (so I didn’t “retire” from the most important job of my life with an “incomplete”) and myself from homeschooling (so I could figure out what I wanted to be if I grew up)…simultaneously while somehow hurrying through 24 rounds of chemo cocktails. I have never counted anything down like I counted down those damn chemo cocktails.

During treatment, I was always in a hurry to turn the corner to feeling better after each chemo cocktail… to hurry up and take every tiny freaking baby step I could to get my fitness back… to hurry up and get back out on the tennis courts… to hurry up to hopefully be here to see the finale of L.O.S.T. I could go on. But as usual, I’m in a hurry to get to the next paragraph.

This is the prize my eyes were on: My Redheads aka my 3 reasons. All I could think of was that I needed to hurry my ass up and pack in tons and tons of fun and memories, to try and make sure they would miss the crap out of me. Just in case.

I guess I kicked into some kind of a super power mommy gear when the doctor said the c word, which literally knocked my kids to the ground when their world shook beneath them like that, pretty much rendering this mama pissed off. That, followed up with a left and a right (hook), putting one foot in front of the other… and that’s pretty much how I guess I got through and how I got in such a hurry.

But with my soggy feet (neuropathy—a side-effect from all those damn chemo cocktails) I’m not really sure how I got so fast? Unless it’s another one of those side-effects from the chemo, not to mention all the bone scans, brain MRIs, Cat Scans, and muga scans (oh my!)

I think they may have accidentally rendered me occasionally radioactive with a chance of superpowers or something.

But here’s the thing. When I got diagnosed, one of my doctors (whose mother died from breast cancer—because let’s be honest, that’s what it’s about, unless we change the plot) told me some of the best advice I always tell everybody else who gets cancer. He told me she always asked God to just let her see her kids graduate from high school—which God did.

But… he also told me not to aim too low. Doc’s script said to: “Ask for way more.”

Sadly, she hadn’t done that. I felt his pain.

But it’s like I don’t read cursive or something. Not that I have much to brag about, if you’ve seen my chicken scratch.

The truth is… I have a confession to make… as I sit here writing this book, 5 years in—and still running, it seems—after I found cancer nipping at my heels and tried to leave it in my rear view mirror. Now, I’m sure all this introspection comes with the territory of looking your mortality square in the eyeballs, hitting milestones like 5 year cancerversaries, and such, but I’ve been thinking lately, that maybe, I’m kinda a hypocrite, because I didn’t really, either… I mean… ask for way more. I didn’t really ask for anything, actually.

The awful truth is I didn’t really plan this far ahead. I really didn’t expect to be here. I didn’t ask to be here.

The brutal truth is I have too many friends who have asked for way more and didn’t get it. I never know where to file that shit amidst my good fortune—which, please don’t misunderstand me, I am utterly undone grateful for. But mostly for my Redheads. I would never ever want them to taste that kind of grief. Which is mainly, what I began running from, if I’m being honest to God. Which is mainly what I’m trying to do right now as I crack open this new chapter to see what happens next.

Crushing the Finish Line (one way or another)

This past weekend Dave-O and I did Cincy’s Race for the Cure. It was kinda emotional for me, as it was my high-freaking–5-year anniversary of my first Race for the Cure, not to mention first 5K, ever—2 weeks after my mastectomy/cancerversary—5 years ago.

Dave and I at the finish line. Barely. By the time I made it across they were already taking everything down. The finish line was deflated. Which only made it that much easier for  me to CRUSH IT, lol.
Dave and I at the finish line of the 2008 Cincy Race for the Cure.. Barely. By the time I made it across they were already taking everything down and putting it away. The finish line was literally, as you can see, deflated. Which only made it that much easier for me to  CRUSH IT, lol.

I don’t exactly have a picture of our finish this year because I forgot.

I forgot a lot of things actually. Like to remember to go under the survivor finish line, for one. Oops. So much for that kodak moment. But thanks to our dear friend, Jim Wimmers, for snapping this cool pic of us racing to the finish.

Here’s Dave and I racing to the finish. I was so busy racing Dave that I forgot to veer left and cross the survivor finish line.
Here's me (Note: ahead of Dave) running my butt off but toward the wrong finish line. And there's Dave clearly, though it's clear to late, pointing me to the survivor finish.
That’s me, the pink blur just outside the survivor finish line. And there’s Dave (behind me) clearly (but clearly, too  late) pointing me in the right direction.

Pretty much a metaphor for my life. Sa la freaking vie. When you’re me, at least, lol.

Anyway, besides that anticlimactic moment of crossing the survivor finish line, Dave and I actually both had a pretty good run.

My time was 54:18, which is a better 10K than I’d ever hoped for, especially downtown Cincinnati. My goal’s generally to finish, rather than race. Dave-O, however, used to be a runner (cross-country) in the old days of our youth. Now that he’s got his running groove back, I have a hard time keeping pace with him. Even though he generally lets me cross the finish line first. But I think it’s just because he feels like somebody’s gotta keep an eye on me since I tend to wander off racing squirrels. Whatever.

The real question is: How in the wide world of sports does it happen that when we both run the same distance, Dave earn a whole freaking, not to mention, decadent, slice of death by chocolate cake, while I run my freaking butt off, only to chalk up enough points for one Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup? Not that I’m counting calories or anything, in case you’re worried about me—Don’t. It’s just the principle of the thing. Dave says he works harder than me, simply because he’s bigger, but…au freaking contraire… I totally count 2-3 of my strides per every one of his. Doesn’t seem fair. But, it kinda forces me to share my Reese’s and I guess that’s not the worst thing in the world.

Anyway. We both ending up coming in 6th for our old age groups, which is aka half a dozen to awesome.

Coincidentally, according to the stats, my time ranked me the 7th placed survivor. But, if you think about it, I was probs the first one to cross the WRONG finish line. So that’s saying something. Not sure what, exactly. But yeah.

So here’s a little video I made of the race:

Thanks to my friends Patty Stump & Mike Shroder for letting us run the 10K representing their Team CANcervive, and to my friend Josie and all of team Josie’s Posse for letting us hang with them on the 5K. Beautiful day with beautiful peeps. Can’t ask for much more.

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!

Where Are All The Tennis Balls?

I’m pretty fast when it comes to chasing tennis balls. I’ve been called “The Energizer Bunny” by some of my opponents. Others have told me I’m like a mosquito at the net—at which point I have to mentally disengage my super imagination powers so as not to see their racquets coming at me as giant fly swatters.

The point is, I’ve been conditioned since music class in elementary school to follow the bouncing ball.

Therefore I have never been a runner…until now. Well, I’m almost a runner but not quite. Close though.

My license plate says “Eat. Sleep. Tennis.” And that’s pretty much how things roll with me and my gang in the Evanshirehood. Normally. But you know me and normal. Hardly ever on the same page, let alone in the same sentence connected by a conjunction junction whose function is to hook up words and make them function and such. Anyway, it was recently brought to my attention that I have barely graced the poor tennis courts behind the Evanshire this summer. Last Thursday I hosted a girls night out and invited my long lost tennis girlfriends. When they started arriving at the door with bottles of wine they all had this similar look on their faces. It was like they were trying to place where they’d seen me before.

It’s understandable. After I finished writing my manuscript, SHAKEN NOT STIRRED…A CHEMO COCKTAIL, I decided to take off this spring and summer, from my tennis addiction, to focus on editing and publishing my book. (And promoting The SCAR Project coming to Cincinnati this fall, which has been crazy busy fun.) So that’s why my tennis girlfriends were being so ridiculous, acting like we were meeting for the first time, and as if the wine bottles were house warming gifts, instead of a case of catching up.

Good times.

While working on my book and with the SCAR Project I’ve also been doing a lot of soul searching. Trying to figure out what to do with this second chance I’ve been given. Life, take two. What. A. Gift.

I’ve been digging deep into celebrating that gift, living out loud, laughing from the belly, spending myself loving God and others, following my Redheads chasing their dreams, and having the time of my life chasing down my own by writing a book. It’s my postcard from the other side of cancer/chemo to my survivor sisters. Been there, done that, had to buy a new t-shirt, wish they were here, on this side, too.

But wishing doesn’t seem like it’s nearly enough.

I’m pretty sure the only reason I’m still here is there is still more I’m supposed to do. I have this keychain I picked up at the Race for the Cure that says, “I am the Cure.” It eggs me on to do something. Like I said, I’m trying to figure out what.

All I know is that my daughter Amanda is supposed to start having mammograms when she is 23 because of me. She turns 21 in January.

Maybe I started running because I’m in a hurry. There’s something terribly encouraging about forward motion. Even if it’s something as simple as putting one foot in front of the other.

I have a 4-mile course in my neighborhood. One of these days I’m going to run the whole thing and in the process will have psyched my body into thinking a 5K is a piece of cake. This is a goal of mine. But it’s easier said than done. First I’m going to have to run up the Oregon Pass hill.

One thing I’ve learned about running, is that running downhill is way more fun that running uphill. I generally walk up the hills. But even then I have to channel my little engine when it comes to Oregon Pass.

I know I could easily flip my course, with Oregon Pass on the downhill, but we have speed limits in our neighborhood.

The hardest thing about running is breathing. Sometimes I forget to. Then when I think about it too hard I forget how. I’m working on this. Trying to pace myself, find a relaxed running form, spend time praying for my peeps which makes me happy thinking about them, and keeping my eyes wide open for beauty and breathing deeply as I take it in.

Continuing my 1000 gifts, here are some of the beautiful things on my runs:

#134 the song, “Beautiful Things” by Gungor, on my Chemo Cocktail Soundtrack that I run to

#135 iMapMyRun iPhone App

#136 Running downhills

#137 weeping willow trees

#138 morning doves

#139 sunshine

#140 wind in my hair

#141 H-2-OH

#142 the Elvis statue in some neighbor’s garden

#143 Thinking about friends as I pass their houses

#144 My “run.” necklace

#145 Sweating out chemo toxins

#146 Moving forward

#147 Shade trees

#148 best running socks ever

#149 fireflies when I run when the sun is setting

#150 sometimes closing my eyes and raising my hands in the air like I’m flying

#151 trying to find a running groove

#152 finishing a run

#153 making ice cold watermelon juice right after

#154 followed by a cold shower

#155 I thought I could and I just did it

#156 gaining confidence

#157 building fitness

#158 sipping satisfaction

#159 experiencing enjoyment

#160 Eric Liddell said when he ran he felt God’s pleasure. This is what I’m after. Not just in running but in everything I do. And I especially feel God’s pleasure when I write.

#161 that I get to have fun playing with words

Kickin’ It With Kristi

On Saturday I did the Columbus Race for the Cure with Team Kickin’ It With Kristi. That’s Kristi, leading her team of true blues in a sea of pink. And by sea of pink, think 50,000 peeps. Wow. Just wow.

Kristi is kickin’ Stage 4 Metastatic Breast Cancer.

The week before Easter Kristi found out that the breast cancer she’d been diagnosed with in 2007, had recurred, having spread to both lungs and her liver. On Good Friday she found out it was also in her hip, pelvis, lower spine, and kidney. A few days later she found out it was also in both sides of her brain.

She finished up 12 rounds of full brain radiation the day before the Race. Hopefully the radiation zapped all the cancer cells POOF gone. Later this month she will begin chemo which will hopefully shrink the tumors in her lungs.

Kristi is only 32. She just turned 32 on Easter. Her son, Chase, turned one-year-old the day before that. She also has a sweet little girl named Addison Hope, who is four-years-old. Addison’s middle name is not an accident. Kristi found out she was pregnant with Addison when she first found out she had breast cancer in 2007.

Addie’s a miracle, like hope is a miracle. She was born on Thanksgiving day, and after Kristi had gone through her first 4 rounds of chemo. Then she had 5 more rounds of “bad” chemo. Then a year of Herceptin. While Kristi was kickin’ cancer for the first time, she and Addie grew their hair out together.

I met Kristi right before her last chemo in December 2008. It was at a breast cancer event at my tennis club on a good week in between rounds 5 and 6, of my 24 chemo cocktails. The first thing I remember about Kristi was her smile and that she walked around like she’d just kicked cancer’s ass. And she had the cutest curly head of hair; I was in a pink Nike ball cap that said TENNIS on it. Meeting Kristi was like getting a postcard from hope.

The postcard had a p.s. with a tennis club membership to get me back out on the courts where my hat was tickled pink at the thought of being. Kristi had received an award from the Tiffany Foundation at the Five Seasons Sports Club’s Ballers Against Breast Cancer event in 2007, when she was pretty much wearing my hat, so to speak. I was in awe when Kristi spoke and shared her story. She said Addie had just turned one. Addison Hope. She had only one more round of chemo to go. So much hope. I was in a chemo fog or something when she mentioned the Tiffany Award and called my name because I did not see it coming. But the tennis was definitely something I looked forward to. Hope.

Hope happened. Fast forward one year, to December 2009, and imagine Kristi with even longer goldilocks, and me without even a hint of a wave in my own new du, but a bunch of salt and pepper, straight up, on top. Imagine that I am back out on the courts by then, and my team is even going to win the play-offs that week. And imagine that I only have one more round of chemo left. Just like Kristi did the year before. And just like Kristi, I got to give the Tiffany Award to the recipient: Mary Jo Cropper. Which was quite humbling, since I had my mammogram at the breast cancer center named after her—in a way she helped saved my life.

Life happened. Fast forward another year, to December 2010, and imagine me having kicked cancer like Kristi, and now trying to figure out life after cancer.

Fast forward to Saturday’s Race and we’re all blue and wearing Kickin’ It With Kristi t-shirts. Cancer happened. Kristi’s fighting for her life again. And she’s going to kick cancer again.

Please pray for her whenever you think of me. If you’re on Facebook, please join the prayer chain for Kristi Frazier. Let’s kick it with Kristi.

I’d like to see this sign with Kristi holding it next year (then me the next cuz I’m such a freaking copycat):

I’d also like to see a sign like this on Kristi’s back in 15 years, and me still trying to keep up with her.

Although, in 15 years Addie will be graduating high school, and my Amanda will be getting regular mammograms. So I hope there won’t even be a Race for the Cure because I hope we’ll find one before then.

I Get By With a Little Help From My Friends

A couple of weeks ago my friend Debbie and I walked (and ran a little) half of the Cincinnati Pig Marathon together.

Apparently, when pigs take off to fly, it's in the dark.

Last weekend my friend Cee and I ran (and walked a little) of the Atlanta Race for the Cure 5K together.

Don't be confused by the skyscraper, Cee and I are both really short. But I'm a tad gianter.

I realize that might not seem like a big deal, and maybe it’s not in the big scheme of things, but after the marathon they both raced for my cure when I was diagnosed with cancer and going through chemo, it seemed fitting, right, necessary, good.

Debbie (#104 on my list of 1000 gifts) and Cee (#105) were kind of the CEOs, of sorts, of chemo details in the Evanshire. They got together, and got all my friends together, to bring meals every day of every “bad” chemo week. It was. Such. a HUGE. relief. And feeding my picky family can be a lot like a marathon. [Note: I don’t think the term mess hall originated with trying to feed my picky peeps, but then again…]

So a couple of weeks ago Debbie and I did the half-Pig (#106) together. Luckily, writing my book has gotten me used to not sleeping, because I had to wake up at 3 a.m. since pigs apparently take off while it’s still dark. (I didn’t know this when I signed up.) The thing about Debbie and marathons is that she is practically the boy scout of marathoning—prepared. If you know me, you know I pretty much fly by the seat of my pants most of the time, and it probably frustrates you practically to death. Sorry.

It misted off and on but luckily Debbie had told me to pack a rain poncho, and as much as I’m on strike against wearing hats these awesome hair days I’m having, I was glad I brought a hat since my glasses don’t have windshield wipers. Thank God it was warm outside; the mist actually felt good. Except for the fact that my soggy feet (from the chemo) actually, for real, got literally soggy. I could hear my socks squishing and it was gross. (But not as gross as the port-o-potties. Apparently runners keep running when they “go” and they don’t have very good aim.)

As for the socks, no worries, because, of course, Debbie had thought ahead and told me to pack an extra pair.

We mostly walked the 13.1 miles. Of course we ran at the start, which was a lot like walking, with all those runners who can’t aim. We also ran across a bridge over the Ohio River. The cool thing about running over a bridge over the Ohio River it’s literally running from Kentucky to Ohio. Which feels really far and kinda badass. It also feels badass to run downhill, which we did. But not wee wee wee all the way home.

We did run across the finish line though. I can’t help it if all those peeps thought we actually ran the whole way and there wasn’t really time to explain. We totally got busted and shooed away when we tried to go back and take a pic by the “Finish Swine”. And I wasn’t even sure if I could finish it at all. But I so freaking did. (Seems I caught something from the Pig though, and now I simply must do a Komen 3-day, and someday run the 1/2 Pig.)

My time was 3:40:06

Last weekend Cee and I took Team Shaken Not Stirred (#107) on the road and raced for the cure (#108) in Atlanta (#109). It was the first time I ran a whole 5K. Well, mostly ran. There were a couple of uphills that I didn’t exactly channel my Little Engine on, but instead decided to pace myself and possibly finish rather than for sure roll down the hill all the way back to the start line. The thing about running 5K’s with Cee is that she really races for the cure. I thought about tying myself to her and just flying behind her like a kite but then I got caught up in the spirit of racing for the cure and found out that I can actually run a 5K. Well, almost but not quite a whole 5K, if we’re being technical, but then I don’t sound nearly as awesome. Whatever.

Anyway, I have to give props to the Atlanta Race for the Cure peeps for tricking me into running my first 5K (#110). They didn’t have mile-markers, so I never knew where I was in the course, so the finish line shocked the you-know-what outta me. And that, pretty much was my trick to the finish. I kept waiting for the one-mile marker (that never was) and inside I was thinking how very discouraging it was going to be to finally see it and know I still had so many miles to go. And then all of a sudden there was the finish line! Talk about a big “whew”.

My time was 35:02

Here’s why racing for a cure is such a big deal to me.

1) It reminds me that I get by with a little help from my friends.

2) The sea of pink is so moving to be a part of.

3) It is a metaphor to me for moving forward. Though not forgetting. And forging ahead with great purpose.

4) It might be a small thing, but like Mother Theresa said, “”Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” And like the words etched into the Vineyard  Cincinnati says, “Small things done with great love will change the world.”







And in a few hours I’ll be racing for a cure in Columbus with my friend Kristi (#111) and Team Kickin’ It With Kristi. Please pray with me for Kristi. She just finished 12 brain radiation treatments today which we hope and pray  zapped all the cancer cells poof away….she’s doing the race for the cure tomorrow….then begins chemo later this month to shrink tumors in her lungs. If you’re on Facebook please join the Prayer “Chain for Kristi Frazier” group.

Well, I better get a little sleep before the race;)

Cheers and love, Joules

Indy Race for the Cure

I don’t have enough back to pin enough “in memory of” and “in celebration of” papers on my Race for the Cure shirts. This, is a very sad but true fact.

Damn cancer.

That is why I can’t seem to get enough of Racing for the Cure. It’s not just a 5K. And I don’t walk it alone. I carry a lot of peeps I love with me. They ‘aint heavy, they’re my sisters and brothers. Yes, men can get breast cancer, too. But no, I don’t just write breast cancer sibs on my shirt. I hate all cancer. I have friends with brain, cervical, kidney, leukemia, liver, melanoma, ovarian, prostate, thyroid… cancer on my shirt too.

The night before the race I like to spend some time thinking about all my way too many friends who are fighting or have fought the big damn C. It’s sweet communion as I write their names on my shirts. I think of some of them, resting in peace, and I feel lucky to have known them, to follow after them, to race in their memory. I think of the rest, like me, who are still running our race and I hope we win, and find a cure. Which makes me think of everybody else I know… which makes me run harder. Cancer is a bitch. Don’t want to write any more names on my shirt.

This race for the cure was special, because I ran it with my Mum, who is also a survivor, and my daughter Amanda’s friend Kiley, also a survivor (cervical). Even though I had genetic testing and was found NOT to carry the breast cancer gene, my Mum was diagnosed with breast cancer. Right before my very last-23/24-chemo cocktail. I know, it sucked, as much as it sounds. But she is doing well, currently also cancer free!

Here we are the morning of the race. On our marks, get set… but first, a publicity shot with sock monkey. And… Go! Here’s Mum and Kiley in the middle of the sea of pink. And it was a sea, at least 41,410 peeps deep. We took note of race numbers while we walked, to see just how many peeps were in this sea. 41,410 was the biggest number we found. There might have been more, but there were at least that many. Yikes. How cool is that? To walk with so many? To share in this fellowship? To be part of something so big?

My number was 504.

I have no idea why this uploaded sideways. I tried it twice. Whatever. It is what it is. And, now that I come to think of it, somehow appropriate. I call it, “Caffeinated.” Although, truth is, I really wasn’t very caffeinated. First, it was freaking freezing out, so I was using the coffee as a hand warmer. And second, I was trying to be smart since we were racing and not potty dancing for a cure.

Here are a couple of cool random photos that I really loved from the race:

That tiny dot in the middle of my poor photo is a giant “PINK” elephant, courtesy of the Indianapolis Zoo! How freaking cool was that?! Luckily he didn’t trumpet and spray us all with water from the fountain of his trunk, because it was so cold the water would have turned into ice cubes and that would have been one hail of a mess.

As you can see, the Indy dogs were not to be outdone by the breast cancer aware elephants. This was my personal favorite, a dog sporting a save the tatas t-shirt.

Speaking of Save the Tatas, I superheart this foundation. As you can imagine, I especially connect with their sense of humor. And besides humor, in the fight against breast cancer, they promote awareness and fund cutting edge research toward a cure. Check them out at Use my discount code: “Shaken” at the checkout to receive 15% off your entire order!

#98 Save The Tatas Foundation

All in all, it was a hot race on a cold day. The only thing missing was pink SURVIVOR bracelets:(

Couldn’t find one anywhere. About froze my bum off looking for one to replace the one I broke last week. It’s funny how I sort of feel “vulnerable” without one on. Like a superhero without their cape or something. I’ve outlived 4 so far. Now, it’s become a challenge. Joules 4-Survivor bracelets 0. That’s right, I live hard.


All I can say is I hope they have them at the Race in Atlanta.

Well, the trail for pink SURVIVOR bracelets might have been cold, but boy oh boy, did the hot tub feel good after. Ahhh…

#99 Hot tubs

Despite the cold, I really like doing race for the cures. I like getting caught up in the fervor to end breast cancer.

#100 I like imagining a world without breast cancer.

I hope to see that reality.

For all the peeps not on my shirt.

And in honor of all my peeps on my shirt. Here are the credits, in no particular order:

Tiffany Romero Floth, Karen Wellington, Missy, Amy Inkrot, Sue Thompson, Shelly, Marty, Mum, Mary Kate Bourquin, Kiley, Maria Meyer, Yott’s Mum, Cathy Baker, her Mom, and Grandma, Uncle Bill, Auntie Cheryl, my friend Rebecca’s hub, Mary Janet, Kandi Castles Ferrandino, Roxanne, Ron, his wife Sue, and his daughter Amy, Kiley, her Mom Jeanne, Kristi Frazier, Monica, Heather Ray, Patty’s Mama, Mike’s Dad, Jennie’s Mom, Sonya Montemayor, Paige, Mary Jo Cropper, Savannah Hope Swandal, Leanne Davis, Janet Cross, Leah Hartlaub, Keith Gilbert, Mean Jeanne the machine (Megan’s Mum), Janice Hubbard, Kim O’Donnell, Katie, Rich, Big Joyce, Donna Scheffler, Nikki, Julie Garvin Luce, Cynci Wenck, MaryBeth Dupo, Crystal Tatum-Brown, Flora Melchionna, Alison Tarbell-Irwin, Christine Lalama, Linda Wimmers, Susan Fuchtman, Vanessa Tiemeier, Melissa Ward, Marcy Emmons, Rachel Marks, Anita Dalton Lupp, Don Boudinet, Krysti Hughett, Gail Konop Baker, Marilyn Teague, Anita Mason, Julie “Cruise” H., Anne “Etch a Sketch” E., Floyd Penrose, Leona, Sherry Kemper, Kim Wanamaker’s sister, Tracie Metzger, Tami Boehmer, Irmgard Allen, Patricia Fitzwater, Julie Butler, Martha Butler, Kathy Arsenault, Karen Dubois, Jill Davis Lamaster, Heddit Ott, Lou, Sheila Henderson, Phyllis, Carol Egenolf Bramlet, Lori Warner, Shelly Spate, Deb Mulligan, Stacey Karlosky, Charlene Staats Rack, Cyndi and Bill Walsh, Michael Hernandez, Debbie Smith, Jo, Ann who hates pink, Geralyn Lucas, Lance Armstrong, Daria, and me.

#101 the number of peeps I “walked with”

That’s… too many peeps.

Let’s… find a cure. Meanwhile, everybody else, stay off my shirt!