Friday, August 24

A bit off track

It seems my year hasn't been going according to plan.

It used to be that would derail me for months, and leave me wondering how I could get it back on track. Not anymore!

Life is never "on track." It may seem that way at times. But it is a meandering path we follow in life, not a straight one. And that is what makes the journey worthwhile.

My Mom is doing amazing! She finished all her chemo treatments, and has been steadily gaining her energy back. Her tests are telling her she's in the clear, and for that we are all thankful!

My pay-it-forward plan has been put on the back burner for no good reason. I've been preoccupied with my Mom's health, and with all the things life has brought to me. That shouldn't have precluded me from continuing on my goal, but it did. Truth.

Our little family has a huge trip set for next summer, and we've all been dreaming, plotting and planning for it for quite some time. And now it's official: the Reynolds family is going around the world!! My husband figured out an elaborate air miles plan with credit cards, and we've been gathering points for years. Last night, he booked the final leg of our journey. Today, we visit the local passport office to get the kids their passports. It's all really going to happen! It's a bit daunting, but amazing to see our hard work paying off and making our dream a reality. You can follow our journey on our blog,

Thanks to everyone who's been there for us this year. Gratitude makes you humble. It can also open your eyes to new possibilities and new paths in life.

Tuesday, May 8

Cancer's a bitch, no matter what she's wearing

God! Every time I try and get into a routine posting, something happens to throw a wrench into my plans!

I have been trying to decide how best to write about what's been happening around here. I haven't really figured out the best way to do it yet. :-) So, I'll just treat this as I do most other things in my life. Be blunt. Be real. Speak truth.

In March of this year, my mother was diagnosed with Stage 4 lymphoma. She was fine one day, and couldn't breathe the next. There were a few very scary moments where I thought we would lose her for sure. (Let's just say, spending the night in the ER watching my mother unable to breathe is not the funnest experience.)

There are many reasons this whole thing threw me. Clearly, the primary reason is that my mother had Stage 4 cancer. Not good. I was also highly frustrated with my parents, who were not handling the situation the way I would have. There were many, many delays in diagnosis and treatment, partially because they chose not to make a big stink when they needed to. In any normal situation, my parents tend to do the opposite of what my advice is. This is nothing new. I was frustrated because I had travelled that road already. Fairly recently, actually. And I knew alot about what they could be doing and what they should be doing to get things moving. I will never understand why they made the decisions they did. But my friend K reminded me that this is my mother's journey, not mine, and that I had to let her make her own decisions about her treatment and care. I will forever be grateful to K for her wise words.

Of course, the diagnosis had me having flashbacks to my own experience. It was strange to be reliving my own experience just hearing the word "cancer." It never really is over, I guess. There will always be those lingering "what if's" and fears. Watching someone you love go through this is sooooo much harder than I realized. I always knew it was difficult, and at times told my husband that I at least could "fight" it with chemo, etc. He was left to watch helplessly, hoping that things turn out ok. How horrible is that??? Now, we're all watching mom.

She has gone from being tethered to an oxygen tank 24/7 to, after 2 chemos and her latest CT scan, most of her tumors in her lungs vanishing! Chemo is no picnic, for sure. And she still has days where things are not great. But, she's had some really good days. Normal days (minus a bit of hair.) She recently celebrated her 60th birthday, with lots of friends and family here to party the night away. My parents have so many friends here that when I put together a dinner calendar, it was nearly full in 3 days!

I find myself clinging to the statistics her oncologist gave us for her cancer, even though I've always shunned them for myself. I am not a statistic, I am me. I will beat the odds. Her "odds" of remission are 80%. Those are some great stats! Better than mine ever were.

So, we're trying to keep on with life as normal as possible. My kids are yet again smack dab in the middle of a very serious health situation. I hate that they have to experience this again! With my parents living a mile away, my kids get to spend alot of time with them. When we told the kids about grandma, my daughter fell into a puddle of tears and was very scared. My son told her everything would be fine, just like it was for me. I can tell he's got some fears, though, behind that strong facade. I'm still trying to get him to voice them.

If you've found yourself at the end of this post, I have just one thought to leave you with. Life can be short. Very short. With each and every day you get, remember to JUST LIVE!

Tuesday, March 6

Playing catch-up

March 6th. Tuesday. Super Tuesday for some of you. Sick kid at home all day. Not too sick, though, as he is currently crying about how mean I am for making him lay down in bed and try and take a nap.

I'm a little off on posting lately, so I need to catch you up.

My February "pay it forward" moment was taking my parents out for lunch. Technically, my dad slipped me a $20 under the table, so I suppose one could argue I didn't really take them out. (The bill was for more than $20, so I did pay for some of it.) But, in my family, dads letting their kids pay for any amount of the meal is a big deal. Arguments usually ensue, and it all is quite comical. This time, notsomuch. What did you get to do for February "pay it forward?"

Last week I was in the Starbucks drive thru, ordering a coffee and planning to use a gift card my husband received. As I drive up to the window, the SB gal says, "The woman ahead of you paid for your coffee today." She will never know how much that small gesture meant to me that day. I had received some bad news about a family member, and was so touched that someone else was spreading good cheer through small gestures, just like I had. So, this "pay it forward" idea isn't a new one, but it is becoming more popular, for sure.

Life has been hectic. Both kids in basketball, volunteering at school and for the school levy campaign, and various family issues that have come up recently. I'm sure I'm no different than most of you. Crazy times, for sure.

Right now, I'm listening to a gaggle of girls from our street playing in my backyard. They are loud, wild, and having such a good time. Who knew our swingset would still be getting so much use??

Crazy windy here. Snow overnight, sunny this afternoon, and 60's yesterday and tomorrow. Welcome to Idaho in the Spring. Since my husband has a dinner meeting, I was planning to take the kids out. We'll see what dinner-time brings as far as the sick kid goes. Maybe cereal or pancakes for dinner?

Thursday, February 2

Komen for the profits

Whew! This Komen for the Cure thing is a true mess, isn't it? I am sad to see such a well-respected, far-reaching organization be so tone deaf in making their decision to cut off funding to Planned Parenthood organizations all over the country. The worst part to me is the utter lack of understanding on their part of how this move would be seen by the thousands and thousands of Komen supporters. Maybe they should hire my husband's company to help them with their PR problem. :-)

Thanks to a friend via Twitter (@jessflynn), here is the Komen response, long overdue:

In my opinion, this video does nothing to ease the concerns of their critics. It never addresses the politics behind the decision. It is a poor example of what to do in the aftermath of completely screwing up the narrative.

Today I find in a blog post by Kivi Leroux Miller (again, thanks @jessflynn) that Komen spent the last day deleting negative comments on its Facebook page. What the what??? I'm sorry, but that is not helping your situation. And it's not something that you can do without getting noticed. It makes you look guilty of something. Of what? Who the hell cares?

Years ago, I stopped supporting Komen. It had nothing to do with abortion, or really anything political. I just felt that the pink-washing was over the top, did nothing but make Komen money, and I didn't feel like we were getting anywhere closer to a cure. My basic feeling is that when any non-profit with a mission of ridding the world of breast cancer, say, gets that large and profitable for so many companies, it will no longer be able to justify completing the mission.

Think about it. If Komen did find a cure for BC, where does that leave them? There would be no need for their organization anymore. All those dollars, all those partnerships that make all those dollars for other companies, all gone. Do you really think in the world we live in today that corporations would allow that to happen?

I am cynical. I admit it. Sometimes I wish I could live back in the "matrix" and not worry about all this nonsense. But I can't. It's nice to see that more people have become aware of the frailties of do-good organizations like Komen.

The people I feel bad for are my friends who work so very hard within the Komen corporation. They are there for honorable reasons, and do have the mission of Komen at the forefront of their everyday work. Please, friends, don't take the criticism personally. We still want to support the vision of ridding the world of breast cancer. Some of us just can't support Komen anymore.

So, now that you know how I feel about it all, how do you feel about this mess? Are you still a Komen supporter? Do you feel they are fulfilling their mission still? Does their Planned Parenthood decision make a difference to you?

More than anything, I would love to see a cure for breast cancer in my lifetime. I stand whole-heartedly behind that mission. As in previous posts, there are plenty of other organizations that could use your dollars and support. Give where you feel comfortable.

Saturday, January 28

Our exciting Saturday

It's Saturday. Our one day to sleep in. Our daughter had a basketball game, which we attended and cheered at. Our son is playing with his friend, who's been on vacation all week. We've taken the dog for a walk, and had lunch. We now have the house to ourselves. And what are we doing?

Sitting in front of our computers, bored out of our minds!

My God, we are such an old married couple!

Thursday, January 26

Good Deed challenge?

It's almost February already! Has anyone started the year-long "good deed" challenge? I'm not sure what to call it. Pay it forward? Help me out, here.

I'm starting to ponder what my February deed will be. I'm interested in hearing what you all have or plan on doing. Would you please share your thoughts in the comments? If nothing else, it will certainly help everyone else get some good ideas for the months to come.

I just love making some stranger's day a little bit brighter with a surprise.

Monday, January 23

Living life out of the zone

Yesterday was an amazing day. Around here, we typically spend our Sundays skiing the local hill, paying homage to the beauty that surrounds us. And yes, we pick Sundays so we can get on the hill before the church crowd can get out of services. :-)

My family loves to get outside, no matter what time of year. Of course, I prefer the warm, sunny, sandy beaches the most, but it ain't happening where I live. (For those that don't know, I live in a landlocked state. I'm still not quite sure how that happened.) A few years ago, my husband learned how to snowboard. I was supposed to learn that year with him, but instead was spending my time hooked up to iv's and trying not to puke.

About 3 years ago, the kids and I learned how to ski. I had previously taken lessons and tried to learn boarding, but since I'm not one to risk life and limb, I decided that wasn't my sport. Hubby says I was *thisclose* but... whatever. I still wanted to be able to do something together as a family, however, so I took up skiing. Hey, if an 80 year old can learn to ski, I should be able to. Right? Let's just say, my kids can smoke me on the mountain.

I'm happy to report that after 3 seasons, I have made it to the point where I can go down a normal hill and not feel like I'm about to die. I mean, do any of you realize how steep some of those runs look to a newbie? Yikes! I took the quad lift up, which is the easiest to get off, thank you very much. I made my turns with a bunch of snowplows thrown in for good measure. And I did it 3 more times. Without killing myself. Or falling on my face. (Well, I did fall on my face. But that was so 2 runs ago! Yeesh!)

I'm so very thankful to my cousin, who is pretty much a pro snowboarder. He did give me some advice, but the reason I'm so thankful is that he didn't laugh when I lost a ski in a fall. He didn't mock me when I must have looked like an idiot all scrunched over trying not to bite it. He even stayed with us all when I was the one holding us back. Technically, he's my cousin by marriage. But in my heart, he's family, and I want to publicly thank my "real" cousin for marrying him. :-)

I don't quite know what the point of this post is. I guess it's a reminder that you're never too old to learn new things. Learning to ski was something completely out of my comfort zone. But these days, my zone is expanded. I've discovered there's really no harm in trying something new. If it sticks, great. If it doesn't work out, I haven't lost anything. Even the time spent doing it has not been a waste, as I always learn something from it. I love the feeling of living. And that means taking risks. Measured, thoughtful risks, but risks nonetheless.

What have you done outside your zone? Let me know in the comments. I love hearing about other people's victories.

Tuesday, January 10

The truth can be ugly, and today I had a moment

I'm about to tell you an ugly truth about myself...

Sometimes I get overly snarky and forget that teasing can be hurtful to others. I forget that in the written word, sometimes the tone can get lost and misinterpreted. Sometimes I just plain make the wrong decision.

Today was one of those days. I am not proud of this. But, I want to be honest with myself and the universe and admit that I was wrong.

There's a right way and a wrong way to say just about everything. And then there are times when saying nothing is the best choice of all. "If you can't say anything nice..." isn't that how the saying goes? Perhaps the prudent thing to do at this point is to say nothing at all for a while. Social media can be a cruel mistress. Or something like that.

Tomorrow is a new day, though, and I resolve to be back to my old self by then. I also resolve to stay the hell off of Facebook for a while. Clearly I cannot be trusted in my current frame of mind. I will, however, spend some extra time on the mat. It never fails to make me right again.

Friday, January 6

I want the old one back

So, I had a very strange thought in the shower this morning, and I'm not sure quite how I connected all this, so bear with me...

Oh, and I apologize in advance for the horrific image this post will leave in your head. :-)

Every morning after my shower, I have to use a squeegee (is that how you spell that??) to wipe down the glass enclosure. Believe me, if I didn't, there would be a huge disaster, and lots of elbow grease to correct the mistake! Last week, my husband put our squeegee through the dishwasher to clean it up. Nice thought, and well executed. Unfortunately, the dishwasher was a wee bit too hot for the thing, and it ended up not being able to perform it's duties afterward.

New squeegee in hand, I proceeded to wipe down the glass, and was frustrated by how poorly the new one performed. The old one was exactly the right width, and did a fantastic job of removing the water without leaving behind bits I had to go back and get again. The new one? Not so much. I started wishing for my old one back, just the way it was.

And then I had a thought.

That is exactly how I felt after my cancer treatments were done. I wanted the old me back, just the way it was. Old body (issues and all.) Old mindset (I'm young and don't have to think about death or illness for a while.) Old life.

I'm sure there are other traumas and tragedies in life that leave you feeling this way. Loss of a loved one or close friend. Child with a newly diagnosed health issue. Returning from a war. They all leave us feeling like we lost something we'd like back.

Now, 5 years out, I'm starting to believe my new life is better. I'm more tuned in to life. I'm much more appreciative of things. I see the scars all over my body and realize that I earned those babies! And while I'm not 100% proud of my body, I sure am more comfortable working with what I've got. I'm not longer ashamed of me.

Life is a journey. I'm still on mine. But now, I'm fully engaged in the moments that make up my life. I'm aware that I can change things, and I can accept things when I need to. I'm striving to live the life that makes me the most happy, and I'm not worrying about living a life that others think is appropriate.

Everyone has their own path. Be comfortable on yours. Seek out what makes you happy. Appreciate the joy you feel when you feel it. Share that joy with others, and encourage them to experience their own journey in their own way. What's good for you may not be for them, but that doesn't stop either of you from having a fulfilling life.

OK. I'm sure I've totally lost some of you with this post. I'm not so sure I totally understand my thoughts here, either. I know this: Life is amazing, and fully engaging in living it is even better!

Thursday, January 5

Off to a great start!

Remember when I told you I was going to do something nice every month in 2012? (It was so long ago... like 2 posts ago or something. :-)) Well, yesterday was the first time I had the opportunity to do something.

I was in Starbucks drive-thru, getting a coffee much later than I needed one. (Hello, 11am!) The young lady behind me was driving a bright yellow mustang, or something like that. She looked really young! Anyhoo, the Sbux gal and I were chatting while my coffee was being made, and she told me the girl behind me ordered a 16 oz peppermint mocha with 1/2 a shot of espresso. 1/2 a shot?! What kind of person orders a 1/2 shot? In that moment, I pulled out my wallet and paid for her drink.

I'm not sure if she cared at all that she just got a free drink, but that's not why I did it. She didn't wave. She didn't have a funny look on her face. She just drove off with her free drink and was on her way. And ya know what? I didn't care. Maybe someday she'll pay it forward, but that's not important.

It just feels good to do nice things. That's all. Try it, and see how you feel. Knowing you're a good person doing nice things changes you. You worry less about what other people think of you, and concentrate more on what you think of you. That's what's really important. You, being proud of who you are.

So, have you ever done this before? What other things have you done to pay it forward and make someone's day? I'd love to hear more ideas! Besides, I have a whole 12 months to fill. I need your help!