It’s Here!

IMG_1981The Amalie package arrived! I am so excited! I will start applying it tonight. Don’t be scared, creepy eye picture, but as I told you I will keep a picture journal of how it’s working. Almost no eyebrows or eyelashes, day one. I can’t believe how quickly it came. The mail these days is amazing. I actually love getting things in the mail. The anticipation of waiting for a package feels like Christmas did when I was a kid. I never pay for faster shipping and it almost always arrives sooner than I expect. Its almost fun guessing how long a parcel is going to take to arrive. I certainly was not expecting my Amalie package to arrive so quickly, this company is amazing!

As much as I did not sign up for this whole cancer thing, I am impressed by the kindness I am finding in people. From the thoughtful gestures of strangers to the friend I have in India that texted me through some of the scariest times in the beginning of my illness with his wise and witty humor, maybe I just needed a good ol jostling! Friends that have come back into my life that I had lost touch with to the new friends I am meeting. Offers of generosity and kindness. Getting cards of encouragement and little tokens and prayers. You don’t know how much this helped and encouraged me, thank you all. People that are genuinely interested in how I am doing, WOW I am touched.

Kindness really does matter. When you are kind and thoughtful to someone it makes them feel good and they want to be kind and helpful to someone else. I think it brings out the best in people, also it feels good to do something nice for someone else without expecting anything in return. I believe we need more of this in the world today, seems people can be so quick to jump on the negativity train. Don’t do it! I don’t think being kind is being wimpy or a pushover in fact I think that being kind and thoughtful in the face of fear and adversity is very powerful. Those little acts of kindness do make a difference.

Well…part 6

Have you ever had the feeling that things are moving at warp speed in slow motion? Thats the way I feel. All these things I am learning that I never wanted to learn! You are just never prepared for everything that life throws at you. Still partially in denial. Still kind of confused. My mind lags behind all the information I must take in, all these new unwanted experiences. But wait…I was supposed to be moving in the direction of my dreams with a shiny new future of happiness and bliss. I was finally at peace with my father. I finally had a tiny nest egg to invest in me! I was ready, no one was going to hold me back!

WHOA! Not so fast. Life has decided to put on the brakes!

December rolls in. I am getting more test results, good and bad I guess. What does it all mean? Still visiting the hospital getting poked weekly for platelet or blood transfusions, arms all bruised I look like a prize fighter that lost! My doctor cheerily says I will be getting three months of chemotherapy, I won’t need any radiation or surgery. I will also be getting injections to strengthen my bones. Of course all these things have side effects. Cant wait, sounds wonderful, like a mini vacation, yeah right!

In the hospital I was put on large amounts of steroids to basically prevent my body from killing itself. I feel better but I am puffing up like a blowfish! Face swollen, water weight. All the things I have struggled all my life to prevent! I start chemo. You sit in this room with everyone else all hooked up to IV’s with strange potions. I am amazed at all the people young old and everything in between. They start me off with a blood test to see if my levels (blood/platelet) are high enough to even receive chemo. Next I get a lovely cocktail in my IV of stuff to prevent reactions to the chemo drugs. Pretty scary when you have to take four drugs before you have the drug(Taxol) that is supposed to save your life!

Now all my friends know I don’t even take aspirin. The friends that know what is happening to me just figured I would do alternative treatments. They are sending me all kinds of information on apricot kernels, extreme diets, and coffee enemas. And I do believe in these things, I’m sure they are perfect for some people. I am a believer in prevention and taking care of yourself. But when you are diagnosed with something evil like stage four breast cancer that has spread to your bones, I think you need to hit it hard with some evil science.

Synchronicities

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My Muse

Part of my blogging was supposed to be a journal of sorts to capture the grand journeys and adventures of my life. A funny thing I have noticed is that I am inspired to write about the little things, the day to day things, the mundane. The interesting little moments of my life. Maybe they are less intimidating or maybe it is the little things that matter most,  I’m not sure? But I do believe that my travels are amazing and I am so grateful for the opportunities that I have been given. Travel has enriched my life so much and in ways I’m sure I don’t fully understand yet. If you ever have the opportunity to travel, please take it! It has a way of making you appreciate the little everyday things even more!

Last summer when we where in LA, Scott and I took a little walk from the Santa Monica pier to Venice  Beach. We were just strolling along people watching and taking in the views and atmosphere of this interesting place. Pacific Ocean to our right with its balmy sea breezes and sandy beaches and shops and vendors to our left with all kinds of cool and interesting items to entice. I bought a really cool backpack and an awesome hat oh, and a great little sketchbook too!

Food trucks everywhere! People everywhere! Walking, running, eating, biking, sitting, napping, swimming, so much activity! There is every kind of food imaginable there. You wouldn’t have to eat at the same place twice in a year, maybe longer, if you didn’t want to! We have a very limited number of good restaurants where we live and frequent the same few time and time again, not so many choices.

As we approached Venice Beach we got to walk on the very spot they filmed the opening scene for Threes Company, while singing the song of course! We met an amazing artist and she told us how they welcome artists at the beach, they don’t even charge them a fee to set up and sell their wares? This is amazing to me! She gets to sit on the beach everyday painting and selling her art! She told me if I come back, to bring some art with me and she will make space for me! Wow, where I am from it costs more to show your art than you could ever hope to make by selling it! Even though I only spoke to her for a few minutes she touched my life. I bought a painting from her that day and it inspires me every day and has taken my art career in a whole new direction! It is interesting how these synchronicities happen, I hope to see her again one day so I can thank her in person!

 

It’s All Good

IMG_0719Wow the beginning of the year, always a whirlwind of activity! There always seems to be so much going on, not to mention all the birthdays and out of town visitors we have at this time of the year. We just got through Christmas and New Years and the energy is high to get the new year kicked off right. So, you just started eating clean, your feeling so much better, fresh fruits and veggies in the fridge yea! Then the birthday cakes and the hot chocolate come, oh just a little won’t hurt! Have a bonfire on these wonderful cool crisp evenings, just one smore! Company comes, decadent food is prepared (you know you want to show off your cooking skills!) it seems like all we are doing is eating!!!I don’t know about you, but I like to eat cozy warming foods when its cold out, a salad just doesn’t seem to have the same appeal to me when it’s 30 degrees outside. The crazy food dance begins! Eat this, not that! Organic, GMO, local, free range, the list goes on and on! You can have a little, no you should NEVER eat that! Every year the information about food and healthy eating gets more and more confusing! Or should I say tiring?

It seems like a distant dream…sitting by a cozy fire with a cup of hot chocolate still in your jammies curled up with the dogs, a good book, and no guilty conscience….YEAH RIGHT! So much to do, often seems overwhelming. Not to mention the crazy weather we have here in Florida, one day its 80 degrees and the next day it is freezing. Cover the plants, uncover the plants, whoops forgot one…it froze! Blanket the horses it’s gonna be cold, uncover the horses their sweating in their blankets! It can be cold enough that you don’t want to go outside but, you still can. I think I have just realized this could be a downside of living in Florida, we never have a down time, a time to hibernate. I think nature wants us to slow down in the winter to reflect, relax, and renew. The earth does, the animals do, everything is asleep but me! I find that I rarely find the time to read a good book, and I love a good read. Note to self…make the time!

I know it is all just silly…I do it to myself! This month I have started a new artist support group at my studio, which had to be cleaned out and whacked into shape, I am experimenting with new forms of art and trying to meet a show deadline. Just started a new batch of Kombucha. I have reconnected with some old friends. Had some inspiring conversations and I am trying to meditate for 20 minutes a day. There are times to be still and times to get a move on! It’s all good!

California here we come!

Beverly Hills Hotel

Beverly Hills Hotel

Last week we headed out to California! It was the first time for all of us. Well Jerry has been there since April, Scott and I where flying out to meet him. We flew SouthWest it was a long flight. We had a 3 hour layover in San Antonio and by the time we got there all the little airport shops were closing. Seems like they should stay opened when people are coming and going, what to do for three hours??? We made it! When we got off the plane we almost didn’t recognize Jerry, he had lost quite a bit of weight and had grown out his beard! I saw him first and even though I pointed him out Scott didn’t see him! We had made a pact to try and lose some weight and get in shape, it was working! So happy to see him!

The weather in LA was amazing! We had just come from hot humid Florida. Florida in August is almost unbearable, I like the heat but…I don’t like opening my door at 6:30 in the morning and getting a wet slap of humidity first thing! At this time of the year everything is struggling, even the plants, horses are sweaty, bugs are bad, there is a never ending load of laundry to do because you have to change out of your damp clothes so often! So it was quite a nice surprise to step out into 70 degrees with a light breeze and NO humidity! Ahh heaven.

Santa Monica Pier

Santa Monica Pier

We were going to be in LA for ten days and what a ten days it turned out to be! We were staying at a cute little inn in Brentwood. The first day we ventured out to a place for breakfast called Bru’s Wiffle a Waffle House and we had chicken and waffles, delish! Jerry was our tour guide and showed us all around. We walked on Santa Monica beach, went to the pier, took a quick dip in the Pacific, went to the Pallisades. Tried to get our bearings. Growing up on the east coast it’s funny when you are in California because you feel like your always going in the wrong direction, the ocean is now to the west! I am a fan of interesting architecture and LA will not disappoint. You can tell it must be an architects dream to work in California. I don’t think there are two houses the same in any neighborhood. I loved the uniqueness of each place. Lots and lots of plants and interesting trees I am not familiar with. We got to tour a celebrities house and imagine how the rich and famous live. It was beautiful. So much fun, so much to see!

One of the most striking things to us was all the people. Now we are not from a big city, but there were people everywhere! And the traffic, omg the traffic! And parking…forget about it! To be continued…

Time Rolls On

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Here in Florida it is getting HOT! Trying to fit in every outdoor activity possible. We haven’t been getting too much rain lately so it has been go, go, go! Gardening, which right now is tons of watering, weeding, and mowing. Working horses, bike riding, kayaking. Summer is here and the heat can get oppressive! Starting to shift all outdoor activities to early morning or after dinner. The chickens are getting big, I guess they are around twelve weeks old now. Starting to let them out in the evenings when we are out in the yard. They are funny little critters each with their own distinct personality! We have one rooster and he is beautiful, and I think we have 4 hens, not sure about one!

Yesterday was such a great day! I had a visit with a wonderful friend, someone I haven’t seen in a very long time! Someone I grew up with! Her name is Charlene and I met her when I was two and she was six. She is from New York and participated in a program called Fresh Air Kids. Every year she would come and stay the summer with my family, in Connecticut. We had so much fun, she was like a big sister to me! Even when we moved to Florida, she came down for a few years. She was 16 the last summer she came to stay and I missed her dearly but time rolls on. We grew up, got jobs, got married, had kids of our own, got lost in our own lives. Funny how things change…or do they?

Yesterday she came to visit. Now mind you we haven’t seen each other in over 30 years, but it seemed just like old times so familiar, so much fun! Reminiscing about all the crazy stuff we did as kids! Pulling taffy with my Mom, riding horses, swimming, drinking out of hoses at the stables that smelled so bad you had to hold your nose! We were outside every day from dawn until dark!!! Wow, brought back such fond memories. She got to meet Jerry and Scott, had to take her on the tour of our little farm, and of course we cooked her dinner, went with chicken Parmesan as I wanted to spend time visiting, not cooking. Very satisfying. What a wonderful day. I sure hope to stay in touch a little better this time!

Tie dye

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Celebrations…celebrations are rituals we perform. They are important.  I think holidays are a  way of stopping and marking time, to remember, to reconnect, to reach out. I once worked for someone that didn’t want to observe holidays, it was strange to me. In the United States we are such a melting pot which is great on one hand because you can adopt all kinds of traditions from varying cultures. But on the other hand, our traditions are watered down with so many other influences, it’s hard to remember it’s not just another sales event. I like a reason to stop and do things maybe a little out of the ordinary. Almost all celebrations are centered around food, and one thing is for sure, that gives me reason to go over the top with cooking and baking!

This past weekend was no different. Jerry and Scott are back and so began a wild frenzy of shopping and prepping, cleaning and cooking. After a delicious breakfast of fresh picked blueberries and peaches, blueberry pancakes, eggs and sausages.  We started cooking at 9am we smoked ribs three ways, smoked a pork butt too. We grilled corn and made cole slaw and baked beans and fruit salad and banana cream pie.

It was a crazy strange group of friends and family, with all the regular drama and issues people bring together, I imagine it would look like a tie dyed shirt from afar. Energy and excitement, pain and despair, sickness and health, love and hate, old and new. The human condition, in a microcosm of a group all brought together to hopefully enjoy lovingly prepared food in our humble backyard! A reason to celebrate.

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Man is Food

imageYou can’t separate man and food, man is food. This is very thought provoking for me. Over the course of history it has always been about the food, hasn’t it? Cavemen gathered together to hunt and eat, if you didn’t eat you didn’t live. Almost all of our holidays are centered around food, Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, etc. Think about it, almost every time you get together with friends and family it is with food. Wedding, food. Housewarming, bring food. New baby, bring more food. Heck people even eat at funerals. Food food food! It’s something you can’t do without, not that you would want to, so you might as well do it right!

I have had this long term belief that good nutrition is the most important thing you can do for yourself and your loved ones. I think growing up with a sick parent kinda gives you a different outlook on things. My brother and I are pretty health conscious. One of the fondest memories I have is going to the health food store with my Mom. Now keep in mind when I was a kid health food stores were different then they are today. No big box stores with shiny advertisements and bright lights. They were always in some cozy looking little house or building and they smelled of interesting herbs and spices. Sometimes a wonderful smell of incense wafting in the background. We would get vitamins and teas and wonderful smelling creams for your skin. I remember always getting some special treat like little golden candies with honey inside. It always seemed so magical and special to me! And I believe it piqued my interest in health and taking good care of myself and those around me. So…if you are what you eat, you better feed yourself well!