Everyone’s laughing and riding and cornholing except Buster.

Well, it’s Groundhog Day… again… and that must mean I’m up here in the frozen north, tip-tapping my keyboard and listening, obliviously, to the intermittent vacation plans and reports of family and friends.

I’m typically teflon to travel tales. But this morning – they’re touching something.

Janice rebuilding in New Orleans. Natalie and Mike asanaing in the Costa Rican jungle. Betti, Kathi and countless co-workers counting down sleeps to the sunny south.

I popped back, this morning, to glimpse my 2010 wood-chuck-chucking self and realized: Hey, I’ve escaped  Punxatawney. And I am the woman I wanted.

Now, I’ve got places to go and people to be.

You Have High Self-Esteem, Right?

My weaknesses, my wrinkles, my weight, waste and wussiness.

My inner-critic’s bounced right back to full-time abuse.

It’s powerful. It’s persistent.
But it’s no match for my gratitude.

Those bullying thoughts bombard me.
As they always have.
But I bash each one. Because I’m glad to be here.

I’m alive. I’m healthy.
And, bit by bit, that inner-critic’s going down.

Personal Drainer

Whatever else anything is, it ought to begin by being personal.

— Kathleen Kelly, You’ve Got Mail

Let me ask you something. Is this a business decision, or is it personal? ‘Cause if it’s business I’ll go away happily. But if it’s personal, I’ll go away… but I won’t be happy.

— G.O.B. Bluth, Bringing Up Buster

I’m not fit to run a company, and I don’t deserve a fancy phone.

If I were more gutsy, I would have quit my job today.

Actually… if I were more gutsy, I probably wouldn’t have felt like quitting.

Either way, I did get a fancy phone today. Unexpectedly.

So, I’ve got that going for me.

Thanks, Mark.

I guess I’ll go back to work tomorrow, afterall.

And That’s Why You Always Leave A Note

I thought I’d squeaked out of chemo with just some swapped homophones and fatigue.

As it turns out, memory issues are only issues if you remember you’ve forgotten stuff.

Today, I noticed this note, stuck next to my home work/sew station.

“Jan 15” was three days ago. And I have absolutely no idea where I was supposed to be.

On the bright side, neither does Mark.
And it’s his writing.

Posts I Didn’t Write

My new-found respect for sleep means my waking hours are (unevenly) divided between parenting and working.

And that writing and reading and sewing and building and lots of other projects are put off to another day. A cancer-free day, thanks to all that sleep.

So, here are the blog posts I didn’t write this week. Thoughts that have been swirling in the crevices between earning cash and being mom:

  • On Doing-For and Doing-With
  • The Canal is My Small Town
  • Sometimes I Just Like to Think Ma Thoughts
  • Just Like Nothing Happened

And here are some thought-provoking posts, thankfully, someone else did write:

And That’s How You Narrate A Story

Mark recently shared with its makers the story of a happy family who almost lost everything and the one husband who had to keep them all together — I mean, how Marketcircle‘s Daylite Productivity Suite saved his sanity.

Here it is:

If you’ve ever had to deal with a cancer diagnosis in your family, you’re probably familiar with the changes it imposes on your life how it plays with your cognitive focus. This is what my family experienced when my wife, Andrea Ross, SMS’d me on October 6, 2009 with two big-small words: “It’s cancer.”

After I overcame the shock, I realized I would have to be Andrea’s chearleading champion and primary support. I half-jokingly announced to anyone I spoke to that I was taking on the role of project manager of Andrea’s treatment program. I also realized I would have to be coordinator of the family members and friends who emerged as our support system. In the process, I had to learn the medical language of cancer.

Daylite was the perfect tool to stay on top of our new life. It was my co-pilot. I maintained contact records and meeting notes for our new world which included a surgeon, medical oncologist, radio-oncologist, Breast Cancer Clinic case worker, Patient Designated Nurse (PDN) and a home care nurse. There were surgical prep appointments, an arsenal of tests, three surgeries and all the related recovery information, nuclear medicine appointments, energy treatments, blood tests, six chemo treatments over 18 weeks, six weeks of radiation treatment (30 in all) and port-a-cath flushes.

If that’s not enough, our family still had to function as one. Daylite helped me keep track of our daughters’ (then eight and ten years old) extra-curricular activities and invitations from friends and family who hosted them for playdates, ski outings, dinners and sleepovers.

I depended heavily on Daylite’s ability to link appointments, phone calls, emails and contacts to task and projects. I kept good notes in the details and meeting minutes fields. I can’t think of a feature of Daylite that didn’t help me keep my wits about me.

Daylite Touch was a fantastic tool, as well. I used it to stay on top of everything wherever I was. Having said that, I couldn’t have the 3G features of my iPhone enabled in most of the hospital, and I was more than conscious of the stigma attached to taking “handheld notes” during face-to-face meetings. So, I kept handwritten notes using my Livescribe Pulse Smartpen (livescribe.com) and attached the PDFs into appropriate records in Daylite. This saved me missing important information and allowed me to avoid a double entry note system. It was a snap!

I’m excited beyond words that Andrea’s been given a clean bill of health. The busiest part of her treatment program ended in time for us to enjoy an amazing and re-connecting summer. She returned to work in September. She have another four years of Tamoxifen and has lingering discomfort from the assault on her body. You learn to love life and live it all over again.

Did Daylite save Andrea’s life? No. Mine? Perhaps. We’ll never know. What I do know is there’s no way I could have kept my wits about me while tracking of all of the goings-on using any other personal organization software – definitely not as efficiently or effectively.

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Coo-coo-ca-cha! Coo-coo-ca-cha!

Since the timid travels of my youth, I’ve been happy to leave most geography to pros like Jay, Bill and Janice.

I’ve enjoyed their tales, over tea. Completely glad it wasn’t me. Blithely quenching my “thirst to stay at home”.

Then cancer questioned my stay-put strategy. Thoughts of spots I’d never be — not just because I’m chicken but because I’d missed my chance.

Lately, as I watched one fellow risk-skipper launch into adventure and one adventurous friend prepare to wrap his up, I panicked.

Had I made a huge mistake? Was it too late? Should I max out my visa and see the world?

Then I came across an article I’d written back in 2007. And I remembered who I am.

I’m chicken, yes. But that’s not what’s kept me from exotic adventure.
It’s just not my bag.
I invest in daily, local pleasures. And tame, tasty vacations.
I’m happy where I am.

The joys fear keeps from me are close by. Or internal.

Thanks to this journey, we’re looking forward to a celebratory visit to our Gratitude Statue‘s twin in Apeldoon, Netherlands, in 2014. We’ll enjoy a weekend in Manhattan, this April. And we still hope for whales in the Gaspésie and the Badlands of Drumheller.

In the meantime, we’ll be enjoying our comfortable little radius.

Coka, coka, coka, coh!

Hey, Hermano

The bannister above our stairs is home to our broken clothes. Lonely garments linger there awaiting a two-minute zip on my sewing machine — collecting dust and, often, being outgrown.

I’d rather sew three new outfits than grab those wounded wearables and stitch their gaping rips.

As I sloppily sewed up a dog-bitten seam this morning, I wondered why.

Beyond the obvious — time crunch, procrastination and the excitement of building versus the fixing grind — I realized it’s that sometimes repair’s not what’s needed.

Much-loved items are either fine with their foibles or restored in emergency fixes between breakfast and school. They skip the bannister entirely.

Other items are damaged beyond — or made worse by — repair.

And those worn out items that wait forgotten on the railing would often otherwise be drawer-clutterers.

Eventually, it gets to me. And the dusty lingerers are tossed.

This year, 2010, saw the end of all four of our sibling relationships:

My absent brother remained so.
My “close” sister turned out to be a fair weather friend.
And our efforts to repair the long-damaged relationships with Mark’s two sisters just caused pain, confusion, combustion and, finally, renewed, widened rifts.

We’re heading into the new year with a clean bannister.
It feels fine.

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Glad I Grabbed That Brownish Area By Its Points

Fifteen years ago today, my dream life began.

It was a Christmas party in the suburbs. Both of us invited by total fluke.

He was a gangly young guy with a patchy beard, a grass green sweater and an ear-to-ear smile.

I was on a first date. But not with him.

I arrived at the party just as he was preparing to leave it.
But he stayed.
We talked.
And he left with my girlfriend’s email address.

Little did I know he’d make — and save — my life.

Lucky, lucky me.

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Small price to pay for self-esteem, Michael

Not counting this
My last haircut was immediately after this photo was taken.

Two hours after my diagnosis.

Many are the times, in the 14 months since then, I had the urge to pop into the salon and give myself a little lift.


Only to remember I had no hair.

Then, suddenly, I had tonnes of hair.
Today, I had that long-awaited haircut.

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Nothing On The Inside

Ding! Dong! My port-a-cath is gone!

Unlike my solo insertion day, today’s happy occasion was a family affair.

And, despite my squeamish worries, I co-operated fully during the local-anaesthetic-only procedure — I didn’t once faint or kick or flail around. I must admit, though, I was highly unprepared for:

  • the pre-incision warning that there was a chance removal of the port would be impossible
  • the Interventional Radiologist‘s struggle to dig and pry and snip it out

But it did come out and it’s all done but the 6day shower-free healing.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.