Love Means Nothing

I’m sitting in the hot sun, legs and arms outstretched.  I keep hearing, “love all”, mostly in sweet teen girl voices.  No, I’m not at a revival.  Not even close!  The only thing remotely religious about this experience is that my daughter is in a uniform for Walsh Jesuit High School.  I’m at a tennis match.  And I chuckle at the beginning of each game as the scores are bumbled out of the girls’ mouths.  The game never starts, “zero-zero” or “nothing-nothing”.  Every game starts with a girl saying, “love all”.  Even though love means…nothing.  Isn’t that great!  What a great sport.  If you have nothing, you have love.

And each and every game, there is that reminder.ana-ivanovic-lost-at-the-2009-u-s-open-tennis-tournament

There are other times when love means nothing.  When you’re raising children and they hit you with the barrage of “can I have”s, you say…nothing.  It is your way of showing your kids that things aren’t important.  They sometimes get nothing and realize that they will survive.

How about when you’re sitting with your partner or a good friend and there’s a few moments of silence?  That sweet, tender space lingers between you.  There is no rush to fill the nothing with idle prattle.  There is nothing cold or hostile about the silence.  The air just patiently waits between you for the next significant words to be expressed.  And when that silent air becomes comfortable, that’s when you know the person you’re with is very special.

Another time I think love is nothing is when I grocery shop.  To respect the animals/earth, what does an animal or plant need from us…practically nothing.  But they need a sustainable environment.  The kind the settlers found when they landed here hundreds of years ago.  Bees need to pollinate, chickens need to hunt and peck, cows/bison need grass.  They all need fresh water that isn’t contaminated run off.  They were doing just fine before we overfarmed them.  Perhaps we don’t need to feed off a cow daily.  Imagine the methane we could eliminate if so many cows weren’t eliminating!  Anyhow, that’s why I support organic farmers whenever I can.  They have chosen to not artificially control their plants and animals.  They have to work soooo hard!!!  Because their way of producing uses almost nothing. (pesticide-wise)

To all the poor middle aged men out there, married to post-menopausal women.  We love and cherish you so much.  Even if you’re usually getting…nothing!  Remember the beginning of this, even when you have nothing, you have love.  haha




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Eating my words






It really wasn’t that long ago…ok, it’s been at least five years…that I’d hold up a whole chicken from the grocery store in front of Maria.  I’d hold out its wings and let its drumsticks (aka LEGS) dangle, and I’d make the poor headless thing do a “chicken dance”.  She would giggle and giggle!  Then I’d roast it.  Then I’d eat it.  Mmmm, mmm, mmmm!

Chicken, I figured, was one of the best proteins…lean and tasty.  I had taken a class offered by Jazzercise in the ’80s called the “Know More Diet”.  It was basically a good class.  But, in that class, fat was clearly the enemy.  I came to understand this.  Look for stuff with monounsaturated fat or no fat.  Polyunsaturates were are next best friends.  Stay away from all saturated fats.  So, no butter, but potato chips didn’t have saturated fat.  OK!!!!

Enter the ’90s and new millenium.   Now hydrogenated fats are the enemy as well as white carbs.  Let’s eat Adkins or Paleo.  And forget about white flour, too!

For me, enter cancer.  And for 50% of you, you’ll join me in your lifetime, so don’t be a slacker and think it will never be you!!!  More reading.  More education?  Maybe just more confusion…

I was totally convinced that I should be a vegetarian.  Quite honestly, I am “morally” a vegan.  With the exception of eggs.  (because, if I buy organic ones, esp if I get them from farmers I know, the chickens are treated very well and the eggs are taken by hand…the chix are never harmed).  But, I struggle with animal farming.  That’s a whole different blog post, though.  I read enough material that convinced me that eating animals is highly inflammatory for our bodies.  And, I still believe that most of what’s in your grocer’s meat section is not fit for you to eat.  Inflammation in certain areas causes your immediate concern…an open sore on your skin, a toothache.  But, you cannot always feel the inflammation on the inside, so it gets ignored.  Do you get headaches, bloated…inflammation, silly!  Eating plants seemed to be the answer to good health.  Mix those with whole grains, and voila…good health!!!  I tried all sorts of new grains…quinoa, amaranth, millet.  I use their flours, too.  These new additions are still welcome in my pantry.  They are not too white.

This Christmas I was a cheater.  I cheated my body of nutritious food…well, I ate my nutritious food, I just added the yuck on top.  Too much of it…alcohol and cookies, specifically.  Those are celebration calories for me!  I was celebrating a good scan, Thanksgiving, Christmas, kids home from college, New Years, Thursdays, you name it…And I gained some weight.  So, in February, I did a 3-day cleanse to jump start my new re-commitment to vegetables.  Since mid-January, I had been 90% vegan.  The cleanse was 3 days of vegetable juice, (home made) and fresh fruit smoothies.  I could snack on nuts, seeds, dried fruit and coconut flakes.   I lost four pounds in three days, just the jump start I’d hoped for!  Then, I got blood drawn for labs.  My hbA1c (sugar test that measures ave. blood sugar over 3 months) was 6.3…up .5 points…up 8% in three months, and too high!!  Does 8% seem like no biggie?  If you weighed 150 lbs in November, would you want to weigh 162 lbs in February??  Heck no!!!  That sugar number pissed me off!!!

The one consistency throughout every diet or wellness plan I’ve encountered is this…sugar is the enemy.  Not just the pretty white crystals.  The pretty white bread, the pretty white rice, the pretty white pasta, too.  And, also, just about everything you’d use to substitute for that “cocaine”.  Stevia seems safe.  Honey, maple syrup, and molasses, are at least nutritive as well as sweet.  But a person with a healthy blood sugar, is a person with a very happy internal environment.  Those sugar numbers are a good indication of happy guts…or not so happy guts.  So, this new number threw me.  Ok, ya, I ate some cookies.  But, then I was nearly VEGAN.  Lotsa greens.  I was eating especially healthfully.

Alas, not for my body chemistry.  I guess the moral of my story is this…read, read, read.  Be educated about what goes into and onto your body.  Because, everyone, the FDA does not care a hoot about you INDIVIDUALLY.  Listen to your body.  I went to Whole Foods after my February oncologist appointment, as I routinely do.  John was perusing.  I was figuring out how to put meat back on my plate.

DownloadedFileI had just gotten myself to think of it as something short of poison.  I picked up a package marked “young chicken” and, embarrassingly, tears filled me eyes.  I could see the cute little thing in the barnyard, hunting and pecking.  Cackling.  Trying to run.  But, dang, I was gonna eat it.  And I did.  And I may have eaten his/her brother or sister as well.  I am careful from whom I get my meat.  I try to only buy pastured chickens and beef.  But, they are back on my plate.  And, ya know what?  Three months later, my hbA1c is at 5.9.  Headed back the right direction.  So, what I’m trying to say is this….I thought I had it figured out.  And, what I had figured might be exactly what would get your body into alignment.  I check my blood regularly to watch sugar and inflammation levels.  (along with other things that my doc watches, like liver enzymes)  But, what I thought was right actually raised both my blood sugar and my CRP, which measures inflammation.  It intuitively makes sense to me to eat only plant-based foods.  And I REALLY am at peace eating that way.  But, my insides disagree with my brain.  So, I am retraining again.  Adding animal proteins hasn’t changed my inflammation levels, but it brought down my blood sugar.  And, so, I continue to tweek.

Please try to buy meat that has been responsibly raised.  It doesn’t take much research to find a store near you that sells pastured animals.  You really should eat eggs from pastured chickens, too.  If you stopped buying pop and chips, you wouldn’t notice a difference from these purchases in your overall food bill.  At least, not too much.  And, maybe if I could give up my Starbucks addiction, this would help me inflammation levels. Ugghhh.


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Legal weed

Some things are very intuitive, and we follow our intuition.  Like coming inside during a thunderstorm.  Slowing down when the car in front of us hits its brakes.  Eating dessert after dinner. (except every once in awhile, when dessert first is necessary so that you have room for it)  Other things, which should be obvious to us, well…they just aren’t.  For instance, my neighbor’s yard a few weeks ago was so lovely.  The devil’s strip part, or the curb lawn if you aren’t from my neck of the woods.  It had bright green clover, a sweet tiny purple flower, and tall, mighty yellow dandelions in it, mixed with grass.  Truly stunning!  Grass, as we know it, isn’t indigenous to our area.  But many wildflowers that would fill our yards are.  We call them weeds.  And we do whatever it takes to kill them.  Too bad, I think they’re really beautiful, and the bugs like them better, too.  The same bugs that pollinate my garden…and the farmers’ big gardens a few dozen miles away.  But, we don’t follow our intuition here.  We kill the “weeds” and plant grass.  Why?  We seem so drawn to uniformity and order.  Interesting.  We didn’t really like the idea of communism, but…. Oh, I digress!

As you know, I have begun a love affair with green things.  It actually started with Kermit the Frog who reminded us, “it ain’t easy being green”.  At first, I wasn’t crazy about eating green, I dabbled in the “green” movement.  My kids wore cloth diapers.  I never bought paper towels, paper plates, or paper napkins.  I saved milk and juice cartons, cleaned them, nested them together, and voila, my kids had blocks of different sizes.  Then, four kids later, life got busier, and laundry got overwhelming.  I caved into paper.  But, I did try to buy unbleached paper.  Geez, it’s hard to find!

Now, my green passion revolves around green food.  Turns out, if you EAT green, your insides stay pretty clean.  From acne on the outside to your colon on the inside, and everything in between.  Green is the color of….magic!  You’ve heard about the greatness of broccoli, kale, cabbage, and spinach.  But, there’s more greatness to consider.  It is likely lurking in your yard right now.  Unless you’ve already rounded it up with everyone’s favorite weed killer (Round Up, of course.)  It is that pesky Dandelion.  One hardy weed, right?  You know why?  Because it is trying to make its point.  You kill some on Monday, and by Wednesday, there’s five more.  They want to remind you.   They want you to keep looking at them, thinking about them.  They want you to know they can help.  You need something to lower your cholesterol?   Look!  Your face breaks out occasionally?  Look!  You get bloated after you eat, especially fatty foods?  There they are!  You have issues with your heart, maybe some cancer floating around?  Still, they are in your face!!  Quit killing me, they are saying, I’m only trying to save you.  Gees, I’m getting corny.

ImageFact is, dandelions are your nemesis.  Your neighbors hate when they see them in your yard.  I’ve certainly dug out my share.  Then, I go to the grocery store, and I buy them.  Talk about counterintuitive!  But, that’s what I do.  I am suggesting, urging, that you do the same.  Perhaps to keep the proverbial peace, we need to yank them out of our property.  But, thankfully, some farmers have sense.  They grow them!!!  How easy must that job be, right?  Then, they harvest them for us.  All we need do is pick them up and buy them.  Then, the magic begins.  Blanch the greens and throw them in your soups.  No, the flowers aren’t sold.  Dandelion greens are readily available in your grocer’s produce aisle, though.  Shred them up and throw them in a salad.  Check out your tea aisle.  Try some dandelion root tea.  The Europeans call it “dandelion coffee” because it brews up so dark.

Dandelions are a highly medicinal weed.  Perfectly legal.  They grow all over the place.  We think we don’t want them to, but they just want to be noticed and loved!  So give them a chance.  According to, here are some benefits…

Medicinal uses

Almost all the parts of dandelion herb found place in various traditional as well in modern medicine.

    • The principle compounds in the herb have laxative and diuretic functions
    • The plant parts have been used as herbal remedy for liver and gall bladder complaints.
    • The herb is also a good tonic, appetite stimulant and is a good remedy for dyspeptic complaints.
  • The inside surface of the flower stems used as a smoothening agent for burns and stings (for example in stinging nettle allergy)

And, according to, a blog which used info and condensed it, as I’ve read this info on other sites, gives you ten reasons to eat/drink the ol’ weed…

#1 – High in Calcium: Dandelion greens are loaded with calcium. Just one cup of chopped dandelion greens has 103 milligrams (10% of the recommended daily value) of calcium! That’s slightly more than kale! Add two to three cups of dandelion to a smoothie with calcium-rich fruits like orange, kiwi, fig or papaya and you’ll have a green smoothie that has more calcium than any dairy product!

#2 – Rich in Iron: Next to fresh parsley, dandelion greens have a high iron content. One cup contains 1.7 milligrams of iron.

#3 – Low Calories: Like all leafy greens, dandelions are low in calories. One cup of chopped dandelion greens has only 25 calories. While leafy greens are a low calorie food, I actually prefer to use dandelions because they have more calories than other greens. Since I try to get as many calories as I can into my morning smoothies, I add up to 4 cups of dandelion which adds 100 calories of nutrient-rich food!

#4 – Loaded With Antioxidants: Dandelion greens are high in vitamin A in the form of antioxidant carotenoid (beta-carotene) and vitamin C. Vitamin C also helps facilitate iron absorption.

#5 – The Ultimate Detox & Cleansing Green: If your goal is detoxification and cleansing, dandelion greens should be the ones you use in green smoothies! They are said to help cleanse the liver and many detox recipes call for them.

#6 – Lots Of Minerals: Dandelion greens are rich in minerals. Besides calcium and iron, they are a good source of copper (10% RDA), manganese (8% RDA), phosphorus (5% RDA), potassium (5% RDA) and magnesium (5% RDA).

#7 – 14% Protein: Dandelion greens have more protein per serving than spinach. The greens themselves are 14% protein and contain all essential amino acids so it’s a complete protein. One chopped cup contains 1.5 grams of protein.

#8 – Multivitamin Green: Besides vitamin A as beta-carotene (186% RDA) and vitamin C (21% RDA), each cup of chopped dandelion greens are also good sources of vitamins B1 (9% RDA), B2 (11% RDA) and B6 (11% RDA), vitamin E (13% RDA) and especially abundant in vitamin K (357% RDA).

#10 – Health Benefits of Dandelion Greens: The nutrients in dandelion greens may help reduce the risk of cancer, multiple sclerosis, cataracts, age-related macular degeneration and stroke. Dandelion contains anti-inflammatory properties which may provide benefit to those with asthma and other inflammatory diseases.


Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be any great advantages to smoking this weed.  You could try it in brownies, though!

And, lastly, as the Rolling Stones said, “Dandelion don’t tell no lies.  Dandelion will make you wise.”   hmmm…enjoy this…

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Another Child is born

It seemed like a good day to give it a try, South-of-the-Border Bread. Yum! With a hearty bowl of soup. Put the ingredients in the bread maker and set the timer for 2:50, that’s 2 hours and 50 minutes. It was 2pm. Perfect. Then, I left the house to exercise, pick up Maria, and run through good ol’ Target. Along the way, I switched the hearty bowl of soup…lentils with barley…to a tortilla soup. There is corn and green chiles in the bread, so tortilla soup is definitely the way to go. I’m dreaming of the bread while I’m on the elliptical. The ingredients smelled good on their own. Together, this was gonna be tasty!

Entered the house at 4:30 with 25 minutes left on the bread maker timer. Smelled really good in the house. Ready to start the soup now. First, I peeked into the bread maker. photo-1
Arrgghh. The bread didn’t rise at all!!!! OhshitIforgottheliquid!!! Reread the recipe. Yup, I didn’t put the water in. Dang it!
No worries, even Julia Child made a few mistakes. I think of her as I quickly add the cup of water. Surely the other ingredients don’t know that the water was suppose to go in first…2 hours and 25 minutes ago. We’ll just eat later. That happens. I set the timer for another 2 hours and 50 minutes. ERROR. Dang it! The bread maker knows…I guess it’s too hot or something. It won’t let me start over. No worries. I can knead bread.

Well, ok, maybe this is just gonna be a mess. But, certainly nothing my Kitchenaide can’t handle. I’ll add more frozen corn. More green chiles. More olive oil. Ya, this is gonna be great. The Kitchenaide, indeed, mixed the mess. Carefully, well not really carefully at all, I lumped the dough into two loaf pans. I left them on the stove top to rise.
Perfect now. The bread will rise while I put the soup together. Then, while the soup simmers, I’ll bake the bread. Man, I’ve saved this meal…and we’ll be eating by 7pm. I rock!
I put the soup together. Onions, garlic, cumin, tomatoes, broth, black beans, corn. Smells good! I check under the towel at the bread. It hasn’t budged. Apparently, the yeast is angry. Cooked. Well, there’s no turning back now. I plop the beauties in the oven. 30 minutes later…

Looks pretty much like the “before” picture except now the edges are brown.
Still, I think of Julia Child. “One’s cooking is usually better than one thinks” So, what the heck. The soup looks pretty delicious. The kitchen smells great. The porch is ready for us to enjoy a dinner al fresco. The kale salad is dressed and waiting to be consumed.


I think I just spent about two hours making corn bread with green chiles. Ah well! The dinner was saved. The bread was edible, but not delicious. And so goes another Monday in the kitchen. While I may think like a Child, sometimes I cook like a child. Nothing a little butter can’t save!

Posted in breast cancer, cooking, family life update, food, fun food, healthy outlook, kitchen, Metaphors, metastatic, nancy ferrato, survivor | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Buckets aren’t for kicking!

bucket-list-goalsToday the sun is shining brightly and I’d like to take a long walk with my doggie. Then, I’m gonna pull some weeds. But, before I go out, I have a thought to share.

It smacked me in the face today. Yes, it’s been creeping up for some time. But, for some reason, I sat down to check on my online support group, and smack! This is the year. It may sound unlucky, with a 13 in it and all. But, this is the golden year! When I was told in late 2008 that my condition was terminal, I set my sights on THIS year. I have readjusted since, and added to my “to do” list, but THIS is the year that was my first goal. It has made me take a deep breath, heat up my cup of coffee (ugghh…so much for “so long joe”!), and bask in this sunny moment of realization.

Since September of 2008, I have helped teach two more of my four-pack how to drive. Check and check. I have seen two high school graduations. Check and check. I have moved two boys off to college. Check and check. I have helped guide one child into his own business (ok, mostly he’s done this on his own. But, I WAS the first to sit him down at a sewing machine! Against all odds, my SON has picked up on that passion!). Nonetheless, check! I have guided (?) three kids through their first and second loves. (Ok, I really just provided rides to soccer games and cinemas, and a few words of advice, not many…) Check, check, check. I have been here when my second daughter began her period (don’t tell her I mentioned this!) Check. I have done hundreds of loads of laundry, cooked many a meal, driven thousands of miles with and for these four kids and my husband. Check, check, check. I made it to our 25th wedding anniversary. Check.

Since September of 2008, I’ve had the pleasure of visiting New Hampshire, California, Washington, Washington DC, Colorado, New Mexico, Illinois, New York, South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, Florida, Texas, North Carolina, South Carolina, Rhode Island, Mexico, Grand Cayman, Jamaica, Turks & Caicos, Italy and Croatia. I have raised my standing from princess to queen, for sure!!! Thank God for the AmEx frequent flyer program for making all that travel possible! (smooches John!)

I have spent plenty of hours resting on my laurels. I am not a person who needs to accomplish much in a day to feel “accomplished”. I don’t know if this is a good trait, I just know it is one of my traits. I have reflected on what I want to leave my kids with…both attitudinally and concretely. I have pondered how the household will run with John at the helm. I have thought about how my exit will go. I’ve considered what songs should be at my funeral. I wonder who will take care of my dog. And will I die before that blasted goldfish that’s already 10?

I have been abundantly blessed with the gift of time! True, I was young at diagnosis. A death now would be considered untimely, though I’ve been witness to much more untimely deaths than my own may be. But, not everyone who is told that she is incurable gets five years (or more?) to grasp the whole idea. As you have noticed, I’ve gone through a decent part of my bucket list. That list keeps growing, though! I have, at times, felt dreadfully sorry for myself. But, that’s such a waste of time, really. My plan is to keep planning. There’s a big world to see! My baby is still only 13. I have a lot of check marks yet to go.

Don’t forget to make the list….

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More than 50 shades of gray

As a teenager, much of my conversation with my mom happened over a sinkful of dishes.  I was the fifth and final child, lagging five years behind the fourth. One night we were in a heated discussion. I don’t remember the topic, and it’s irrelevant. I do believe we were in agreement on some issue I saw as cut-n-dry, black or white. My mom concluded with this, “when you’re young, you think you see everything so clearly, that the world is black and white, right and wrong. As you age, you realize there’s only gray”. Hmmph, no, I was right. Period.

Then, in my mid twenties, my hair began to gray. I married into a family equally as opinionated (and willing to share those opinions) as my own. I had three jobs in very different environments with very different types of people. These people came from very different sorts of families than mine and my friends’. They thought differently than I did. And there was logic in what they said, too.

Now, I wasn’t so sure that I was always right. I moved into a neighborhood and my new neighbors were Muslim. John became close to Jewish people at work. I had never really questioned too much about my religion. It was easier to surround myself with like-believers. But, I realized that we all believed in the same God. Ok, the Jesus part and the Mohammed part get a little messy, but the God the father part is the same. I had been so right. Now, it didn’t seem to matter so much what church a person attended. Each church had so much in common. All the black and white was blending.

I thought there was a right way to have a baby, feed a baby, raise a baby. Seriously? There are so many variations…and in the end, dang it, those kids can all think for themselves!

I thought if I was basically good, (Ok, I have a short fuse and a handful or two of other less than perfect traits)that I would live a long and healthy life. That could still happen. But, I have a stage four cancer in the shadows lurking. I thought if I stopped eating meat that my body would be healthier. But, look at Steven Jobs. Dang, vegetarians can die of cancer, too!

I recently went into Sherwin-Williams for paint samples. I looked at the whites. There are so many!!! And the blacks? Yep, a boatload of them, too. So, of course, there are even more shades of gray. Mom was right.

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Are There Two Kinds of People on Earth Today?

My dad used to recite a poem by Ella Wheeler Wilcox speaking of the two types of people on earth today…those who lift and those who lean.  While I don’t disagree, at all, I pose another idea.  There are two kinds of people on earth today, indeed.  There are those that look up and see the sky and its infinite possibilities.  There are those that look down and see the earth and its infinite treasures.

Those that look up…they squint into the sun.  They see the clouds that float by, and their imagination gets the best of them.  “Did you see that one?  It was Mufasa from Lion King!” They see the first buds of spring, because those are at the tops of the trees.  They are daydreamers.  Creative, interesting, inventive minds.  They want to ride to the moon.  See new life forms.  Free fallers.  Space is their final frontier.  They see shooting stars!

Those that look down…they see the new growth.  They are the first to see the crocus poke through the spring soil.  They don’t mind dirty hands or dirty shoes.  They don’t even mind the smell of wet dog, because that’s an earthy smell.  They are practical, logical.  Feet firmly planted.  They like to dig for gold…the bulb of the weed, the last hidden beet.  They marvel at the ant.

Yep, that’s my musings for today.  I’m a looker-downer who married a looker-upper.  Perhaps that ‘s always how it should be.  It has worked for us!  But, I do like to stare at the moon.  And dirty shoes sometimes tick me off.  So, like everything else, there’s a bit of both types in us, but we tend to lean in one direction, I think.

And now, here’s Ella….

There are two kinds of people on earth today,

Just two kinds of people, no more, I say,

Not the good and the bad, for ’tis well understood
The good are half bad and the bad are half good.

Not the happy and sad, for the swift-flying years
Brings each man his laughter and each man his tears.

Not the rich and the poor, for to count a man’s wealth
You must first know the state of his conscience and health.

Not the humble and proud, for in life’s busy span
He who puts on vain airs is not counted a man.

No! The two kinds of people on earth I mean
Are the people who lift and the people who lean.

Wherever you go you will find the world’s masses
Are ever divided in just two classes.

And, strangely enough, you will find, too, I ween,
There is only one lifter to twenty who lean.

In which class are you? Are you easing the load
Of overtaxed lifters who toil down the road?

Or are you a leaner who lets others bear
Your portion of worry and labor and care?”

― Ella Wheeler Wilcox

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Winter Ramblings

No way it’s nearly mid-February.  I still have four ornaments sitting on my sideboard, patiently waiting to be returned to the Christmas shelves with their other shiny buddies.  Alas, the Super Bowl has happened, so it must truly be mid-February.  Sheesh, we just celebrated Jesus’ birth and now next week we start to ponder his death.

Speaking of death…my sis-in-law’s nephew tragically passed away a few weeks ago.  Always gets me thinking about the frailty of life.  The delicate tight rope we walk daily and don’t even realize.  Also, makes me wonder how the parents are coping.  Can’t even let myself really go there.  Too sad and scary.  Too gut-wrenching.  Then, at the same time, I realize they are going to get through this.  They are.  Because that’s what we all do…we carry on.  The saying that “we are all just one phone call from our knees”.  That’s so true, isn’t it?  Have you gotten your call yet?  I suppose some of us get more than one.  Which is totally not fair.  Well, I got mine.  Or maybe just one of mine…yikes!  Quite a few people have asked me how I cope with my diagnosis.  What was my first thought?  Could I sleep?  Am I still obsessing about it?  As I think about the couple that lost their son, it all comes back to me.  Those first days/weeks after I heard I had an incurable cancer, I would muddle through the days.  Literally…muddle.  That means to pace….seriously.  I also got out a rosary and prayed.  I googled stuff.  I walked my dog.  I walked alone.  I walked with my sister.  I cried.  Muddling.  But, each night I fell into a deep and satisfying sleep.  Muddling is totally exhausting even though you accomplish nothing while doing it.  Each morning I woke refreshed and thought, “ah, see, I had cancer and it was interesting to see how that felt.  Now, let’s move on.”  Then, before my feet hit the floor, I’d realize that I STILL HAD CANCER.  It would shock me!  I would relive the shock for a long time. I am supposing that that’s what it’s like for everyone who “gets the call”.  Eventually, the shock wears you down, and then, I guess, that’s when you cross to acceptance.  But, shit, I really don’t accept this, thank you very much.

I have better things to do then have cancer.  Well, I don’t really.  Because having cancer has become quite a job.  It doesn’t have to.  And maybe it doesn’t for everybody.  But, yes, for me, it is still an obsessive thought.  Not my death.  I have come to realize the inevitability of that.  And, perhaps, it wil be untimely and what most would consider too early, but I don’t dwell on that.  The work comes in the living.  This disease, and many others (perhaps all others), has “hopeful” components.  What I mean is, we all have a bit of control over our disease(s).  So, I obsess over that which I think I have some control.  Food.  Peace of mind.  Exercise.  It may be easier to just follow a doctor’s orders and carry on as usual.  But, I looked at the stats of people who seemed to do just that.  They weren’t pretty.  I’d like to shout from the highest mountain that we all have the ability to be more “well”, but we have to change ourselves.  For me, that means chopping so many vegetables that some days my wrists hurt from it.  Drinking juices and smoothies that are rather odd-tasting and trying to tell myself they are yummy.  Skipping fried foods.  Eating tofu.  Taking the time to be still and alone every day…call that what you will…praying, meditating…whatever.  I also know that I’d be miserable if I didn’t connect with my husband and circle of friends as regularly as I do.

Something else I think everyone with a “disease” should consider.  When I was first diagnosed, I felt “disposable”.  Thought the world must not need me any longer.  I had never asked other people for real help.  Had never asked God for real help.  I mean, asking to pass a test you forgot to study for doesn’t count.  It’s not easy to admit you need help of any kind.  But, sometimes, I guess you need to realize how good you feel when you help somebody out.  And then you need to let someone else have that good feeling by helping you.  Each of us needs to realize how important we are to the people we share our lives with.  Not one of us is insignificant, even with so many of us on the planet.  I asked for help.  I prayed for a miracle.  But, I felt a bit selfish in doing so.  Does a parent think his/her kids are selfish when they ask for headache medicine?  Or a ride to school?  It’s silly to feel selfish.  God expects us to ask for help.  So do our friends and family.  And, sometimes, we get just what we asked for!

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Turning Over a New Leaf

Ah, so it’s New Year’s Eve.  The last day for dietary debauchery before the new year begins.  I just read my January post from last year and the list of what I’d hoped to accomplish in 2012.  Some of those things got done.  Many did not.  Carpet still needs to be replaced.  Still have some pants from the ’90s!  But, I’m chugging along.  This year, my list is shorter.  This year, I pledge to turn over a new leaf.

Yes, I have mastered spinach and arugula.  Even KALE!  This year I vow to try mustard greens and collard greens.  A resolution I can absolutely accomplish…and then feel accomplished.  And perhaps even healthier.  For the past week, my bod has been filled with foods I rarely eat.  Meat.  Empty carbs.  I have felt heavy.  Sluggish.  Worn out.  I am not worn out by the holidays. I have had an easy season.  Each year seems to bring less holiday stress, and I’m sure grateful for that.  I feel worn out from lack of decent exercise and improper eating.  Not horrible eating.  Just not “right”.  So, tomorrow begins with Going Green.  Will you be joining me?

I also may attempt to sort the chaff and grain better this year.  My nutrition team believes I may have a gluten sensitivity.  Reviewing family history of type 2 diabetes tendencies, this could be true.  Ugh!  For years now, I have been told and believed that white rice and potatoes were evil, with corn being nearly as dastardly a villain.  Now, I have to retrain.  No more whole grain or whole wheat.  I have to rely on rice and potatoes and corn.  And quinoa flour…and maybe garbanzo bean flour (mostly cuz garbanzo is such a cool sounding word)…maybe almond flour (which is wickedly expensive).  I’ll need to actually look at those “gluten free” shelves.  Ugh again!  My challenge is to try this for three months and then have blood work done.  If my sugar numbers have vastly improved and my BUN numbers and AST…Blood Urea Nitrogen and a liver enzyme…then, rats, I have a gluten sensitivity.  Oh boy, I mentioned a liver enzyme and you saw red flags, didn’t you?  Well, my AST and ALT were both HIGH in 2008-09.  Now they are low.  As I see it, my liver is taking a much needed rest.  As a nutrionist sees it, I may have a gluten issue…or I may not be getting enough protein…or I may be overhydrated (obviously, unlikely).

So, off I go to buy a new “planner” calendar.  I will peruse 2012 before putting it on the shelves.  Ya, I save my planners.  Kinda like a diary.  “Which year did we go to Disney World over spring break?”  Hey, I can find that info…  I dunno, as you lightly ponder your death, it seems important to save the documents that showed you lived.  Anyhow, I’m off to get another one.

Yes, I am off to plan another year.  2012 saw my baby become a teen!  My oldest became a legal, drinking adult!  My first daughter got her driver’s license!  My marriage turned 25!  I put my toes in the sand, dragged my feet up the mountains of Wyoming, and strutted around parts of Europe.  It was a helluva year!  2013 will see my other son enter the decade of 20s, my oldest will graduate from college, my youngest will enter high school.  And me?  I’ll be eating rice noodles and adding collard greens to my soup!  I’m coasting…

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Presents or Presence

I promised a friend I’d write a few line about the Christmas season.  So, I am sharing some thoughts tonight…this first night of December…

This morning I turned over my calendar.  I always hesitate when I do this.  I stop and read everything that’s on the month that I’m about to tuck away.  Is that odd?  I make sure that I didn’t miss any appointments.  I relive, for a second, the games I watched my kids play.  I count how many more weeks I can go before I color my hair.  Nothing big, I just pause.  Leaving November behind is particularly, ummm, touching.  It is the month of giving thanks.  All month long we are reminded to give thanks, to count our blessings.  I take this practice very seriously.  I do this every morning before I get out of bed, and every night before I fall asleep.  This practice just entered my life four years ago.  Before that, I knew I was thankful, but didn’t consciously think about all the stuff I’m thankful for.  Now I do.  I highly recommend this practice.  It is difficult to take yourself too seriously after you do this for awhile.  If, for example, you are thankful that your neighbor rescued a dog from a shelter, it is difficult to be annoyed by said dog for waking you up with his bark.  If you are thankful your child just earned first chair in the school orchestra, you will not be upset when this child practices late into the evening.  It starts your day on the right foot.  But, I’m getting off track here.

This month of thankfulness has indeed been tucked away again on my calendar.  Before I could even do this, though, the next month came barging in.  Loudly.  Boldly.  Via email.  Via print ad.  Via tv commercials.  Black Friday…indeed.   We all starting hearing about this massive day of consumerism about 10 days before Thanksgiving.  Christmas had snuck itself into the Month of Thankfulness.  And some of us began to wonder…what will I get so-and-so for Christmas this year?   Before we even ate turkey!!!  Shame on us…

What did you get for Christmas last year?  Do you remember more than 2 or 3 things?  Not sure I do.  Not because I didn’t appreciate every single gift, because I did (see above lines on thankfulness).  But because things get lost in the shuffle.  Things get put away, outgrown, used up, eaten.  But, I do clearly remember the party my sis-in-law threw at the local tennis center.  I remember our breakfast on Christmas morning.  I remember working the concession stand during the Holiday Basketball Tournament.  We remember when we are present.  We don’t necessarily remember the presents.  We remember what has really engaged us.  Most often, this is the people, the experiences.  The performance of  The Nutcracker, the dinner with neighbors at the beautifully decorated local winery.  Years ago, a friend of ours came to our (then) annual Christmas Eve Open House in a limo with a woman we had never met.  Hadn’t seen this friend for over a year.  But, man, what an entrance he made!!  As you may have guessed, this new woman became his fiance that evening.  How honored we were to be a part of that special night.  I’ll never forget it. But, I sure don’t remember one gift I got from that year.

So, don’t sweat the details of what goes under the tree.  It will be enjoyed and appreciated for awhile, of course.  But, it’s really more important that you just showed up.  You spent some time with your parents, whether they’re 88 or 48, a little bit of your time is all they really want.  Spend some time with bunches of others, too.  People you only see once a year…ya, this is the season.  It shouldn’t feel like a pain.  It should be what we are doing.  Instead of shopping.  When we’re gone, what will people remember?  The great gifts we gave everyone?  Probably not.  But, maybe someone will remember that you spent an afternoon giggling over lunch.  And they’ll hear that giggle forever.  Wouldn’t that be cool?

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