A Cause for Celebration

IMG-3104 (1)
A Seattle storefront

I just turned 50 and everyone is asking me how it feels

“amazing, wonderful and miraculous!”

At 27, I got in a horrible car accident (I was on a scooter)

Had I entered the intersection seconds sooner, I would have died

 

 

At 34, I gave birth and almost died from blood clotting

 

I had breast cancer 8 years ago

now I’m cancer-free with a beautiful family and a job I love

 

My new (and just fired) financial advisor said,

“I won’t say your age out loud”

as if growing older is shameful

as if getting older is bad

 

Last night, a friend of mine told me

she has a friend who has three months to live (cancer spread)

that woman is a mother and in her thirties

to her, turning 50 would be a miracle

 

Turning 40…50…60…(70…and on)  is a miracle

It should be embraced (!)

 

Fearing aging is fearing life

Our culture is kind of sick in that way

The good news is,

we don’t have to buy into it

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One Fruit You Should Buy Organic

IMG-1369

Strawberries recently became #1 on the Dirty Dozen list. The Environmental Working Group puts out a list annually of the top fruits and vegetables contaminated with pesticides. For the third year in a row, strawberries topped the list. In fact, 1/3 of all strawberries (non-organic) tested positive for TEN or more pesticides! One sample had 22 pesticides.

I know organic foods are more expensive. Although I care very much about what I feed my family (especially as a breast cancer survivor), I can’t afford – nor do I want – to purchase all of my food organic. However, something like berries, with all the pits and divots, contains too much pesticide for my comfort.

If you’re wondering about #2, it’s spinach. It is advised that if you purchase non-organic spinach, you should soak it in water and baking soda for 15 minutes. Then you’re good to go!

 

 

 

The 101 South

breast cancer.jpeg
photo by Taste for Life

My daughters are participating in a summer violin camp for 9 days. It’s a 30 minute drive on the 202 West to the 101 South. I’m always on the 202, but haven’t had to drive the 101 South much. I don’t like it. Drivers speed and change lanes quickly. They all know where they’re going and they’ll ride up on you if you hesitate for even a second.

I woke up in the middle of the night last night and couldn’t sleep for over an hour. I was thinking of the 101. But this time, I remembered something.

Seven years ago, I had to take the 101 South to a high school twice a week, after work. I was completing my M.A, in Educational Leadership and I was in a night class. I had just been diagnosed with early stage I breast cancer and had a radical mastectomy. I was determined to finish the degree. So I drove to my class with tubes coming out of my chest. The tubes drained excess fluids where the tumors used to be. My chest was tightly bandaged and no one in my class knew what was underneath my shirt.

So my fear of this route was not so much the traffic, but old memories. The fear of infection, disfigurement, recurrent cancer… I had those thoughts during my drive. I mourned my life pre-cancer. Here is a post from that time.

My insomnia occurred on the seventh anniversary of my radical mastectomy.

Driving today, I felt much better. The apprehension was gone. Sometimes, just identifying the cause of one’s jitters and meeting it with compassion (not over-analysis or sentiment) can be enough to overcome it.

 

 

 

 

 

How to Make Marriage Work

ben-rosett-10609.jpg

In three months, my husband and I will celebrate 20 years of marriage. We dated for 2 1/2 years before we tied the knot and I believe that is a factor for success: Don’t jump into a lifelong commitment!

But another key to making it work is translating what your spouse says. You see, we don’t always say what we actually mean.  There are more positive underlying meanings that we’re missing out on! I’ll give you an example:

My husband does not like going to the doctor. He does not get checkups, despite the fact that I – his wife – am a cancer survivor and that he has some serious cancer issues on his side of the family. Naturally, I look out for him.

Me: Honey, would you mind if I make a colonoscopy appointment for you, now that you’re 50? (Translation: I care about you and want you to be around for awhile).

Him: I guess there’s no stopping you. (Translation: Oh thank you so much! I really appreciate that you love me so much to do that).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Death as a Teacher

o0ta3hn-thc-jakub-kriz.jpgFor something that affects each of us without fail, the subject of death remains taboo in our culture. Why?

2016 was rife with “surprise” celebrity deaths: Rickman, Bowie, Prince, Fisher and so many more. It’s sad to lose people we admire and love.

Yet, death can be the best teacher. It reminds us that life is, in the end, pretty short. It can clarify values pretty quickly. Six and half years ago, I was told by my doctor that I had cancer. I was fortunate – it was early stage I breast cancer – and my prognosis was very good. But I was 41 and not expecting that diagnosis at all. My life got crystal clear: Family and friends were priority. I realized that my job – teaching – was something I truly valued and I was grateful for it.

As I walked out of the hospital to go home to recover from my radical mastectomy, the air was crisp, the sun shone brightly and I noticed practically every blade of grass of the hospital lawn. I felt so alive!

Realizing that we don’t have much time gives us urgency. Don’t waste a day complaining. Don’t be negative. Live in the light of positivity and gratitude. Work towards your dreams. You might not have much time.

 

 

 

My Family Is Angry with Me Because…

I bought this instead of Jiffy.

 

nutty

 

When you know better, you do better, even if people will be poopie about it.

Why did I make the change? Because I promised the Power That Be that I would eat better if I could survive cancer. Because natural is better than artificial. Because I want my family to be healthy.

Ingredients in Jiffy Peanut Butter:

MADE FROM ROASTED PEANUTSAND SUGAR, CONTAINS 2% OR LESS OF: MOLASSES, FULLY HYDROGENATED VEGETABLE OILS (RAPESEED AND SOYBEAN), MONO AND DIGLYCERIDES, SALT.

Ingredients in Laura Scudder’s All Natural Peanut Butter:

SALT AND PEANUTS.