Oh…the Irony…


Today is world Cancer Day.  I didn’t even know there was such a thing until a couple days ago when I saw a link for Chevy flit across my FB wall to color your profile purple http://www.chevrolet.com/purple-roads-world-cancer-day.html?seo=goo_|_GM+Superbowl_|_1744%7C1751%7CIPUS%7CAU%7CG%7CS%7CB%7CA%7CE%7C+GG-LS-Chevy-SN-B-Exact_|_Superbowl_48-Superbowl-PYP_|_purple%20your%20profile

So, of course I did…


Then I figured I should acknowledge a few people on FB, Twitter, and most importantly, here. 


If you can’t read it, it says…How ironic that the day I was given the news 5 yrs. Ago on 2.4.09 was also World Cancer Day.  This is such a huge , milestone year for me and laying in bed tonight, I thought I would revisit the blog post I wrote about that day.  Those of you that have been with me this whole time…thank you for your continued support.  Those that are new friends, thanks for coming into my life.  My life…wow…5 yrs. Ago this time, I honestly didn’t think I would still be here.  I can’t possibly imagine you could possibly imagine what it’s like to get such a wake up call…to your LIFE…unless you have been faced with this insidious disease.  I am not the same girl I was before this news hit me…becuz… ALIVE ♥

And for those of you that held my hand in spirit through my blog…thank you…to all of you…too many to list but you all know who you are.  Your hope and prayers kept me going. 

If you would like to read my post from that day, here it is. 

No News is Good News…Right?

So much has happened since then.  Won’t you join me in dusting off this familiar place and breathe some new life into this very special place of mine.  Oh, and comments are always welcome below :) 

P.S. If you dont want to miss anything…be sure to subscribe!

I’ve missed you all and can’t wait to hear from you soon!

To Everything There is a Season–Part 2

Has it been almost a year since I posted?  Holy Smokes!!  I found Seasons Part 2,  but if you need to get caught up a bit, here’s the link for Seasons Part 1:  http://wp.me/prf6k-eQ  Let me know if the link is messed up or I won’t know to fix it.  I promise it won’t be another year before Part 3 gets posted!  Lol!

May 20, 2011

Have you ever had a recurring dream?  It doesn’t even have to be a nightmare—just some mental illusion that visits you night after night starting and/or ending  the same way with perhaps a few details here and there added or omitted.  Has it woke you up or just caused you to question the meaning behind the embedded symbology?  I have had three recurring dreams in my life.  I remember them vividly.  The first came in my childhood.  It would haunt me each night with images of crossing a bridge in a car only to find that the bridge was out.  The car would drive off the end and begin to plummet.  I woke up shaking for nights and months on end.  I remember trying to turn my pillow over, searching for the cool side.  I would sleep on the other side of my full sized mattress.  I would even sleep at the foot of the bed figuring if I changed my position and thought of something happy, the dream would vanish for good. At the time, I knew nothing of dream analysis or what any of it meant, but I do know to this day it has changed me in a couple ways—I now carry one of those thing-a-ma-bobs in every car that would readily cut through a seatbelt while the other end applies enough pressure to the glass and allowing it to shatter should the vehicle become submerged and render the power windows useless.  The thought of not making it to the surface and ultimately drowning is a very real fear of mine.

I know now that if you dream of a bridge it usually symbolizes a solution to a problem  If it is impassable you need to choose a different path because the one you’re on isn’t giving you positive results.  So, I researched falling dreams.  They are among the most common and tend to symbolize a loss of control (there it is again—CONTROL—something I have issues with).  According to one source, if your dream resembles a fall from some dramatic place, you are “anxious about who you are , where you’re going in life, and what it all means”.  As a young girl, I could see that being a plausible explanation.  This source also goes on to state that falling into water means fearing your passions may get the best of you.  What are passions anyway—just really strong emotions, so when I looked up just water—that;s exactly what it meant, but in various forms.  To dream of a river (which is what my dream back then showed), it was a symbol of emotional communication.  And since rivers flow in one direction or another and sometimes change course—it all seemed somewhat understandable.  In a nutshell, I think I may have been increasingly anxious about crossing into puberty—growing up.  The key to the dream was that I never died.  I always woke up.  Maybe my way of telling myself that this too shall pass, that if you able to keep your wits about you—you’ll manage somehow to make it out of this.

The second recurrence was in my early 20’s when I was pregnant with my first daughter.  I dreamt each night that I was going grocery shopping with my newborn. In the dream, I would place one of those cloth protectors in the shopping cart before letting my baby sit in the front position.  Each time I unwrapped my swaddled child, I would discover I had given birth to a frog.  I would wake up horrified.  I knew then that it was just anxiety about me having a baby, a momentous change in a woman’s life and the worry about all those things mothers worry about—would I be a good mom, would I be able to take care of the child, give it everything it needed, and would I love it even if it wasn’t perfect.  Something that has been tested over and over again in the past three years.

This third dream, though, was unlike the others.  It was rich in color and details.  I could smell the blossoms in the dream!  I could feel the grass beneath my bare feet.  I could hear myself giggling and squealing with delight as well as hear the “voice” which spoke to my childhood image.  I dreamt this dream every single night for 6 months following my mastectomy.  At first, I chalked it up to coincidence.  Then, over time, I told myself that since I was falling asleep wondering if I would dream about it again, I surely had it in my subconscious, and therefore, DID dream about it again.  Each night, though, a new clue would appear in the dream (or, maybe they were always there and I was picking and choosing which detail to focus on that particular night). I spent a great deal of time researching all the elements of this dream and trying to connect the dots.

Picture this…

It’s a beautiful spring day.  There was a slight breeze even though there wasn’t a cloud in the bright blue sky.  The sun is shining bright and warm on a little girl with the face of my youth.

I have long, ash colored hair with traces of bleached white highlights framing my face left over from the very light blonde wisps of my toddler days.  It was tousled with a crown of fly-aways—the kind you get from waking up and immediately running outside to play instead of combing your hair first.

I was wearing a pale, lemon-yellow sundress.  It had a gingham checked pattern that was rouched in through the bodice.  My skin was already sunkissed a bit and a faint tan line over the shoulders could be detected if you looked hard enough.

I was running barefooted through the grass in between two endless rows of orchard trees.   If you looked up you would see the petals from the spring blossoms giving way to gravity and drifting through the air as they all began to fall.

My head was turned back over my right shoulder and I was laughing with delight.  Why was I running, though?  Was I running to something?  Away from something?  I couldn’t quite tell, but I could see that  I wasn’t scared.

Something or someone is behind me and was taunting me, “I’m gonna getcha”, it said over and over.  It was a male voice…a deep voice…not the thick Belgian brogue of my father’s dialect, but something familiar and yet foreign.  I can’t explain it.  In the dream, I’m obviously not scared of it.  I am delighted to be playing the game.  Yet, the voice never lets up.

And…that’s it.  Over and over again…night after night.  For six months.  What did it all mean?  It would take another surgery to find out…

To be continued…

May 8, 2012

Now—I need you to bear with me.  I realize it has been close to a year since I last posted. I have been under the most unbearable stress, all of which I will attempt to purge as I am emotionally ready to do so.  I am busy hunting up supportive photographs, former thoughts scribbled on notebook pages, and half finished posts that have sat in que for quite some time.  I would like to give as chronological of an account of what happened even though many might jump back and forth a bit.  My son was commenting on the fact that I hadn’t blogged in a long time.  We used to talk about where all the readers and hits to my blog would come from around the world.  We can see it in some of the monitors I have in place and we would talk about that a lot and get excited about it also.  I was explaining how I felt like I didn’t know where to start up again.  He said, “mom, you know how much I love flashbacks in movies?  Your readers will too.  Just do it.  You’ll feel better”.  So, I am taking his now 8yr old advice.  I hate setting up specific posting dates becuz if you’ve ever followed me, you’ll know something always pulls me away.  I won’t put it out to the universe, but if you want to re-follow, begin following, or make sure you don’t miss posts, be sure to sign up along the side for RSS feeds and let me know if that thing isn’t working—I have put it on there, but don’t know if it works.  There’s always Networked Blogs on here too which will come to your facebook alerts notifying you of a new post.  I have many things to tweak around here since I was last on and so check back for new videos and pics.  I am re-dedicating myself to writing again–here anyway–I never really stop.  Wish me luck and leave me some feedback!

It’s Coming…

I’m swamped.  To those of you checking in–yay!  Boo that my post isn’t here yet.  Tonight!  Stay tuned…:)

To Everything There is a Season–PART 1


Written on 5/8/11


Summer ’09 was the worst summer of my life—to date. The diagnosis of Ductal Carcinoma In Situ and subsequent mastectomy had left me angry at the world and seriously depressed. So much, in fact, that it was all I could do to get through my days with all the children in care and then shut the world out when the last child left each evening. I tried to make the most of moments when they would come my way, but I can say, matter-of-factly, that I was not someone you’d want to socialize with that year. Bitter resentment along with despair were the facial expressions of choice. I didn’t want to hear words of encouragement. I didn’t want to pray. I didn’t want to find the humor in things (although I tried hard to each day and it just came out biting, sarcastic, and crass sounding). I didn’t want to do anything but cry, or scream, or punch something or someone. I had to hold it all in, though. I had to maintain so I could just get through each day and holding it in just made me an even hotter mess. If you were to ask me now if I ever exhaled that summer, I would honestly tell you no.

I know NOW that was the most unhealthy way I could have lived. Hell, I knew it then, too, but chose to ignore the signs–Defeat-est mentality at its finest and those of you who know the Type A that I am probably can’t ever imagine me getting that low. But that Type A began working overtime on my self-destruction. For example,

Why should I worry about my grades anymore– is God really gonna care that I was on the President’s List or made it into the National Honor Society?

Why should I bother turning in any paperwork for any agencies I’m accountable to for my business, like they really give a damn what I’m fighting here anyway.

Why should I bother fighting for my oldest daughter, after all, so many others had given up on her.

Why should I care what I look like, I’m just gonna lose my hair anyway… I’m just gonna look ridiculous wearing makeup…I’m just gonna have to find shirts covered with such loud prints that it will distract anyone from noticing I don’t have a chest anymore…

Why should I bother with anything…I’m just gonna be 6 feet under by the end of the year.

Why should I bother with reconstruction—I’ll finally get the boob job I always wanted just to have the best looking chest standing at attention from my coffin as everyone passes it by during the visitation.

I was feeding the beast inside me by continuing such inner destructive self-talk. I knew it was wrong, but I couldn’t get out of the quick sand that kept pulling me back into that pit of despair. Each time a friend would throw me a lifeline, I’d only hang on half-heartedly. I was giving up–giving in. It was all too much. I didn’t know how to process all of the stimuli attacking me. It was just easier to retreat into a comfortable cocoon of anger. I was prescribed medication after medication from anti-depressants, to anti-anxiety, to sleeping pills so I could just shut off my brain at night–all of them addictive. At least I had enough sense about me to avoid filling any of those Rx’s. My doctor wasn’t happy about that. I argued that–I drive children to schools and I won’t drive under the influence of something. I won’t take something that would make me feel loopy or jittery. I won’t take something I would only later have to fight to get off of. I knew that it was up to me to pull myself out. I just didn’t have a clue how I would go about doing that.

I know there are some women that handle such extreme stress with grace. I wish I could say I was one of them. There were times—fleeting nanoseconds that would allow me the courage to hold my head up high as I walked into a room, but they vanished as quickly as they appeared. I’ll give you a glimpse back at who I was that summer. It’s written all over my face and my body language screams, “WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU LOOKING AT—HAVEN’T YOU EVER SEEN SOMEONE WITH ONE boob!.” Yes, for me to bring about a change…it would probably take more courage then for me to walk into a hospital and have my chest cut off–and since that had already happened, the fight was only just beginning. Not a physical one, though—a purely mental knock-down, drag out fight that Mr. Miagi wouldn’t be able to help me get out of.

As you can see, I had truly succumbed to the anger. It overrode most of my emotions. It had itself manifested into a type of cancer that was once again invading every area of my life. The problem was that I breathed life into this type and it was by far Stage 10. By summer, it had become a comfortable friend. Letting go of the anger would have been just too easy. I wasn’t ready. I didn’t know if I was ever going to be ready. I held tight to it and slammed the door on anyone trying to get in including my family. There were times when I I would look out that door’s peephole to view the world that was still going on without me. That made me angrier, still!

Then there was the crippling events surrounding my oldest daughter who had gone missing. We were dealing with the loss of a child we weren’t sure was even alive or dead at this point, and I was going through the painstaking process of supplying dental records to the police in case remains were found. The stress of just the cancer would have been enough to anyone but combine it with the stress of losing a child and the infuriating lack of help I received in trying to find her along with the judgmental advice I was getting at all turns was enough to push me into a spiraling depression. “No…I’ll hold onto this anger just a while longer,” I thought.

As if things weren’t bad enough… I was told once again our family would be losing insurance. My husband’s job of 17 yrs. was coming to an explosive brink. The business was trying to function with a severely alcoholic boss. My husband was the only one keeping it afloat. The boss was his childhood and lifelong friend, best man in our wedding, and Godfather to our oldest daughter. If you have ever dealt with alcoholism, you may be able to appreciate the horrific strain it can put on relationships. So, as I dealt with my cancer, Jeff dealt with his friend/boss/job and the fact he knew he was losing all three to a self-destructive personality who had also begun an affair with my former best friend of 17 years and maid of honor in our wedding. It was all too much.

Then, the insurance—this bastard—this corporate structure we had paid money into our whole lives decides to begin cutting our benefits and raising our premiums. It began a vicious cycle where the teasing thought of a couple more months worth of benefits dangled in front of me like carrots–causing complete panic on my part–how will I get the rest of my surgeries?  How will I pay for medicine?  What if this metastasizes and I can’t pay for treatment?  What do I do?  I braced for the worst–complete denial altogether once Jeff had been fired from his job. Denial in mid-treatment. What kind of insurance company does this? Mind you, this was before Obama’s healthcare reform where pre-existing conditions would be grandfathered in (or so I thought at the time).  I realized I better get a game plan…and fast.

With all that, my mental state really started nose diving. I was becoming scatterbrained–unable to focus–very attention deficit disorder–without a doubt. The strain on our marriage, our family, our lives had become nothing short of catastrophic. No amount of counseling could help. There was no way to sort it all out. Prayers were offered up just to get drowned out by the yelling—whether my own or a chorus of frustrated cries by everyone under the same roof. I stopped writing because I could no longer process any stimuli coming in or going out.

In the midst of it all, I began having a recurring dream. It continued every night for 6 months straight. I began to realize it was a sign…and once that sign revealed itself and what it meant to my life…it was the catalyst for all things that followed…

SEASONS PART 2 will be posted on Monday morning 5/23/11. Don’t miss what the dream reveals! You can do that by subscribing to this blog through RSS feeds, the subscribe by email feature, or the Networked Blogs link in the side bar (the easiest way)!  Cya soon!

Shame on You!

I did it again. I came back to my blog, said I was ready to write again, then got yanked away. I’ve fallen into old habits of getting pulled in too many directions. Being spread too thin. Doing more for others than I do for myself. I know this and can recognize it, but always have a hard time of peeling back again to make my life simpler, my mental state saner, and my overall temperament less stressy.

I’d love to catch everyone up to speed on what’s been going on around here but right now I need to get something off my chest (no pun intended). There is a very valid reason for what has kept me away from this comfortable place of words and thoughts and inner reflection…and that reason came from a complete stranger in the form of a comment left for moderation on this blog. It took me by such surprise, and quite honestly, my initial reaction to it was a knee jerk and instant recoil from something I love to do or a place I like to frequent.

I know when you put things out into cyberspace—it’s out there—there’s a permanent record—somewhere. I know that there are some creepers that have nothing better to do then surf the web, spend hours of time looking through public content (and that’s what this is once you hit the publish button), and cutting and copying to their heart’s content. I guess I’m frustrated by the endless possibilities that await certain sick minds and even though I have used this as a source of purging and regrowth, I have done so willingly in an attempt to help someone else. In saying that, have I actually aided certain stalkers in their quest? I have spent countless hours writing and then deleting—often times by accident—and then rewriting again. The writing portion has always been the focus of content theft for me and never, in my wildest dreams, would I have ever thought that there was someone out there stealing my photos. Not just stealing them, though—actually laying claim to the individuals in the photos! I will definitely be checking into my Flickr account settings and going over the privacy settings. However, it makes me sad to possibly do this. Isn’t there a foolproof way, an absolute of sorts in the realm of the wide world web with regard to this type of theft?

As I began this blogging journey over two years ago, I found quickly that there were several key elements you should have on your blog and one of the most important I have found is the spam filter for any incoming comments. It quickly weeds out the real comments from spam based on certain code sequences that are tracked. It has moderated hundreds and hundreds of pieces of spam—I only wish I received that many real comments! Lol! Before I delete them permanently, I always peruse through them just in case something gets put into the wrong inbox. I have received the most perverse and disgusting mail through this blog and I’m sure that much of it is generated based on the tag/key words I use in many posts. Many of them are from overseas and they are the strangest things to see because they are all symbolically coded in other languages of which I have no way of translating. Through the real comments, I have made friends around the world with women that have gone through similar or are facing similar situations as to what I went through. Some stop by from other friend’s blogs, some are friends through Facebook or my other writing hotspots and as with any new comment that comes in—whether its from someone I know or don’t—It is always placed in que to be moderated. Who knows what kind of sicko or fanatic would actually pop in just long enough to whip off something nasty. So, before any of that can be read by my loyal readers, I try to spare the filth of others.

Last month, though, I received an email stating that a comment was waiting for me. I was so excited! It had been months since I had written or quite honestly paid much attention to the blog—(I’ve been too busy living :)). When I opened it up to read it, I was immediately saddened and disgusted. My fear of some sick person out there has come true. I’m not sure if this is just something I should expect, or if there’s actually something I can do, but I will post here for you the email I received and if any of you have specific advice—don’t hesitate to leave a comment.

Hi Christina,

I just wanted you to know that a man supposedly named Cliff Grant is claiming the picture of your daughter Jordan with the Harp from christmas 2009 is his daughter – I had been in contact with this person through a dating site and when my suspicions got the better of me I used tineye.com to search the picture he had given me – which is your daughter Jordan!!! You may want to put some copyright channels in place to protect your children.

Good luck with your battle!!



Now, as far as I know, this particular person could also be spamming me with the provocation of luring me to the tineye.com website. I am always hesitant to open web sites since I have suffered the agonizing feeling of despair each time I receive a virus that completely crashes my system. So, I checked it out on the library’s computer. Lol. I know—not very nice should it contain a virus, but I figure they probably have better firewalls then I do. It seemed like a legit site. I just couldn’t do a reverse search on any pictures at the time. I’m curious if any of you have had the opportunity to use this site, if its real, and really works. My mind started racing and I had all these questions like:

Which dating site was it?

I wish I was also given more information as to whether or not this person, Cliff Grant, was reported to the key people in charge of clientele on this dating site.

I wonder what measures they have in place as consequences for misrepresenting yourself.

I wonder if that was his real name.

I wonder how many other women he’s done that to.

I wonder if he’s used more than that picture.

I wonder if he’s disgustingly photoshopped my pics.

I wonder if he’s a con artist trying to bilk unsuspecting women out of their money.

I wonder if he does this with more than just my photos.

I wonder if anyone else who writes a blog and puts personal family photos on it realizes that there are people that do this.

I wonder how I can backtrack this guy, find him and get him to stop.

I wonder if I’ll need a lawyer to discuss copyright or cease and desist orders.

All this comes on the heels of a contest I had with my daughter where we sat at the computer bored one day checking out Youtube videos, seeing how many people on FB worldwide have our same name, and googling bizarre stuff. We decided to google ourselves. Have you ever done that? Unless you have a one of a kind name, you’re bound to find something that google has found on you thanks to their search engine optimization. Out of all those names, though—how many actually apply to you? My daughter and I started laughing our heads off as we counted higher and higher—page after page—for entries dealing with me. I stopped at page 40. I’m sure there was more. As we scrolled through laughing at this or that, I stopped on one particular highlighted entry. It was an excerpt of a blog post from a couple years back titled, Race for the Cure . I clicked on the link and was horrified at what popped up onto my screen. There was my entire post on the front page of a triple X rated porn site with images flanking each side and top and bottom. WTF! Seriously, what in the hell was that about?

I know there are some freaky people out there that have strange fetishes, but what could this site possibly want with my blog post dealing with the Walk for the Cure? I then wasn’t sure I wanted to know. I tried desperately, risking virus and Trojan horses, to find a contact on the site, a name of some company or a subscription box that might have a field where I could leave a comment to TAKE THIS POST OFF THEIR SITE IMMEDIATELY!!! I found nothing. I do not know where to go or who to talk to about this and it got me so upset that I have stayed away. I’ve contemplated shutting the site down, but it has served a source of comfort and inspiration to many—including myself. This is a clear breach of copyright since I did not authorize the use of my content in this manner. I try to joke around about it, but I really don’t find it a laughing matter and if someone were to google me, I really don’t want anything I’ve worked so hard for being lumped in with something of this nature.

So, I’ve sat silent. For months. I have so much to write. I have so much to tell. I have so much I want to share with you all. I’m just stuck on this issue. Has this happened to any of you? How did you resolve it? What advice do you have for me?

I know that there are individuals that would love to use electronic content for their personal gain, individual pleasure, or twisted misrepresentation. It was a worry of mine when I first configured this blog. I researched how to protect my content and kept coming up with a simple solution which consisted mainly of a copyright badge on my page. I’ve had one in the sidebar for a couple years now and even though its there, I still wondered if it was deterring others from claiming something they found on my site as their own. I found a site once, and put a widget in the sidebar for Copyscape. It’s a site where you could enter a phrase from a post or the entire thing and it would do a search of many search engines to see if there were any hits that came up. I think it’s the same kind of tool that professors and teachers use to make sure students aren’t plagiarizing from an uncited source. I suppose I will need to be more diligent and proactive when it comes to what I’m about to publish.

I guess I am most disappointed in the moral decay of many individuals. I’ve tried to do something that has been hard for me to do, but I really force myself to do it. I tell myself that the individual posing the threat is obviously in greater need of prayer than myself. And then I say a small prayer. Many times they are sincere. Many times, truthfully, they are prayers that are…ahem…asking for karma to intervene. Thinking about this “Cliff Grant”—I’d have to say if he just absolutely felt like he needed to misrepresent himself with a fictitious daughter—at least he picked one that was talented and beautiful. In the same breath—BACK OFF, she’s mine. And to the porn site that feels the need to bait their web page under the guise of my blog post—I’m not sure I’m thrilled about this particular form of advertising, but since it’s free—hmmm—I’d like to say thanks? But yeah, NO. BACK OFF, it’s mine.

Let this serve as public notice that I am demanding you remove my content from your site. I will pursue this until it is removed and if you think I’m not a threat, you may just wanna make sure you got your big girl panties on. I have fought cancer and can tell you first hand that fighting you will be a cakewalk for me. To all those that are tempted to reprint portions—I’m an awfully cool person to deal with—all you have to do is ask, and then cite me. Let me know what you’re up to. Link to my page and I’ll link to yours. But to just take something without asking and to use it in a way that is grossly misrepresentative of yourself or my name—I’d like to say very clearly…SHAME ON YOU!

(Just prior to publishing this post I checked one last time on the WordPress support page forany information regarding help with content theft and this is what I found. I remember looking at this a couple years back, but haven’t reviewed it lately. I will go back into all my photos and start watermarking them. I will also get a free license and take into consideration many of he other points listed on the website. Even if you don’t have WordPress for you fellow bloggers out there, this is a good place to start to get information. if you are facing a similar situation)

Pink at the Rink

This past Saturday, November 6, 2010, the IWireless Center here in Moline, IL turned the rink pink for a night for Quad City Mallards hockey game to raise awareness for breast cancer awareness. Anyone that has or has had breast cancer was eligible for free tickets. Since I have only ever been to one hockey game in my life, and since my kids have never been, I quickly contacted Genesis to be put on their mailing list. Here’s the clipping from the Quad City Times Online paper:

“Pink In The Rink” will benefit Genesis Foundation for breast cancer patients
Posted Online: Oct. 04, 2010, 12:46 pm
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Press release submitted by Quad City Mallards

DAVENPORT, Iowa — Oct. 1, 2010 — The Quad City Mallards, Genesis Medical Center and Cumulus Media will team up to support breast cancer awareness with “Pink In The Rink” night in the I wireless Center on Saturday, November 6 when the Mallards host the Bloomington Prairie Thunder.

The Mallards’ players will wear special pink jerseys during the November 6 game. The game-worn jerseys will be auctioned after the game with proceeds benefitting the Genesis Health Services Foundation.

“We feel privileged to be able to work together with Genesis Health System and Cumulus Media on Pink in the Rink Night,” said Mallards President Chris Presson. “The chance to aid a cause as important as the Genesis Health Services Foundation is one we are very happy to embrace.”

The first 1,000 fans through the doors will receive pink caps and breast cancer survivors will receive free tickets to the game, as supplies last.

Cumulus Media will provide media support for the event. “We are honored to be part of such a great event and important cause”, said Cheryl Riley, Market Manager for Cumulus Media. “Every ticket sold thru our media efforts will result in a $2 donation going to the Genesis Health Services Foundation, so we will be reminding our listeners to support the November 6 game.”

There will also be breast cancer information available at a concourse display throughout the evening.

“This year Genesis will treat 300 women with breast cancer and will provide nearly 30,000 screenings or diagnostic procedures,” explained Flo Spyrow, Vice President, Genesis Health System. “Breast cancer remains one of the most important women’s health issues facing all of us in the future and having the resources to provide access to screening for all women remains a goal of Genesis.”

Patients of the Kenneth H. McKay, M.D., Center For Breast Health have access to the latest diagnostic and screening tools in the region. The center also provides women with a skilled team of experts in various specialties, including family practice, radiology, surgery and social and emotional support.

Genesis participates in clinical trials on an ongoing basis. Those trials allow women with breast cancer to receive the latest treatment while being able to remain close to their homes.

“Genesis and the Quad City Mallards organization have been partners for many years. The loyal fans of the Mallards have allowed us to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars to support the Genesis Health Services Foundation and its projects that benefit patients throughout the region,” said Craig Cooper, Media Relations Coordinator, Genesis Health System. “We look forward to this next partnership that should be a lot of fun for fans.

“We hope the entire i wireless Center looks pink on November 6 to again raise awareness for the issue of breast health.”

It was just a short year and a half ago that I would have given the middle finger up to anything that would try to make me part of some elite club. I didn’t want to even associate myself with the disease, was pissed as hell that I had it, or that others would also hear those words in their lifetime. I have worked through a lot of my anger–slowly and have realized a couple things. Bad shit happens to Good people. Period. Sometimes life isn’t fair. Deal with it. Man up. Quit whining. The only way for me to do that was to dive back into where I just spent a good year clawing desperately to get out. It’s that all or nothing part of me I talked about in the last post. So, when I hear of local events that promote breast health–my ears perk up. When I see a pink ribbon somewhere, in the paper, a magazine, a billboard, or on a pair of socks, shoelaces, shirt or even tattoed on someone’s skin–I pause. If it has to do with a person–I go up to them and talk to them. I ask if they wear that badge in honor or memory of someone. I listen. I watch that person’s eyes light up for a moment in gratitude that someone would want to hear about their loved one. Sometimes, that’s all a person needs. That way, the memory of that loved one has not gone unnoticed.

Anyway–I received my tickets and began making plans for the family to have a night out enjoying a sporting event (one that we wouldn’t normally have chosen to go to). I was excited to see the rink turn pink like in this picture:

I went shopping at our local Goodwill store for pink shirts for everyone to wear. I love that place and sometimes its a curse that I live so close to it! I almost always find exactly what I’m looking for–for pennies on the dollar. This trip was no exception–super soft sweater for me, a fleece pullover for Justin and a brand new (tags still on) pink Ralph Lauren Polo with navy blue trim on the sleeves and collar for Jeff. Jordan said she already had something so for less than $10, we were now outfitted to go pink at the rink! Once I got home, I learned that Jeff was not going to be going with. Don’t get me started…I mean, I know he doesn’t care for hockey and that he had a ton of work to do or homework to do (I sent him back to college this semester on my dime after I took the semester off so), but I have never been into hockey either and that’s not what it was about. It wasn’t even about the pink thing–it was just an hour of family time, and I had secured free tickets for all of us and now he didn’t want to participate–for just an HOUR. I was bummed, but I wasn’t going to let it ruin my night out, so we went without him. We actually had a really good time, but we were all bummed that our ice was not pink.

Wish the ice would have been pink!

Justin forgot about wearing a "girl's" pullover once the popcorn was bought!

When I go to events like this, I am surrounded by women and children and families big and small that have been affected by cancer. There is an unspoken acknowledgement of each other as we briefly meet each other’s gaze in passing. Some nod, some smile, some look tired or worn out from the chemo, some are happy to be enjoying a night out with their families, some are oblivious, –but the magnitude of the cause remains the constant. Silent auctions for team member’s pink ribboned emblazoned jerseys were going on, T-shirts were being sold, information booths stood vigil. I was happy to be there with my kids. I was happy to have gotten free tickets. I was happy to see the look on my little boy’s face when I bought him own LARGE popcorn–his very own–and he squeezed my hand and told me, “Mommy, I love you soooooo much! Thank You!!” That’s all it took–for him to forget the argument we had had earlier about wearing a pink “girl’s” fleece pullover despite me countering with “Lots of guys wear pink!”. It was all it took for me to be reminded once again, that I am just exactly where I am supposed to be in this circle of life–sitting in a nosebleed section trying to get my camera to focus on a macro mode, hanging with my kids on a Saturday night. I just wish the other two members of my family would feel the same and would have been with me as well, but I take what I can get these days and try to feel grateful for those moments when they come. I just wish they’d come more often.

1 in 8

After months without posting, I dived into my blog once again this past week. The peace writing brings me along with the tinkering of widgets, layouts and uploading pictures is so meditational for me and that is huge in terms of quieting my brain. This was originally intended to be an outlet for me. A way to express myself. A way to come to terms with how my life had been flung into a different trajectory almost mid-course. It was a visual way for me to organize my thoughts, fears, dreams, hopes, goals, and somehow compartmentalize them in such a way that I could manage them all without losing my mind. Cancer has a way of doing that to a person. It is an insidious snake that wraps itself into every crevice of your being and makes you doubt everything you ever thought to be safe or predictable or comfortable.

What I found through this cyberjournaling is that I was not the only one feeling this way. I was not the only one going through this. I was not going to be the last. I made online acquaintances that stretched out their arms across thousands of miles, oceans, and continents to befriend me, to lift me up, to support me, to walk in spirit with me. I found friends near me that were willing to do the same. In this past year, I have become one of those spirit friends myself to many women both locally and far away. I have tirelessly advocated for early detection with my growing number of friends on facebook. I have reminded both the women and men in my life and those I randomly run into weekly, if not daily, to take care of their boobs. I have passed out self-check breast exam flyers to random strangers. I have done things in the name of breast cancer awareness and I have made it known to all that if you EVER feel you are having a scare, or you need information or you want to talk or you just need someone to pray for you or with you–I will be there for you.

I have had women I barely know and many I do contact me this past year. I have talked into the wee hours of the morning with strangers across the country. I have facebooked and I have messaged and I have emailed back and forth with others who are in the middle of a scare. I have begged and pleaded for everyone to get a mammogram–and to NEVER blow it off, and I have just sat and listened and cried with some who have been diagnosed. I never really thought in the beginning that I would later go on to become someone that would be a source of comfort to another that was fearing her worst nightmare coming true. I never thought that there might be a former high school enemy that would be inspired to go get checked for the first time because of me or become someone I actually appreciate now that we have grown up. I never thought that people would really read this blog. But, all those things have happened and continue to happen.

When I submitted my post a few days ago after a 5 month hiatus, I was astounded by the irony of what happened later that night. I was reminded once again that because of me putting out there the good, bad, and ugly, a woman somewhere would also be reminded that they could call me–to talk, to cry, to vent, to plan, to question, and to ask questions. I never thought I’d get a call anytime soon. But I did.

A long-time friend of mine messaged me through facebook. The urgency in her tone led me to believe that something was very wrong. This same woman began reading my blog from the onset and two weeks after I launched it about a year and a half ago, she found herself thousands of miles away going through a similar scare. She found me then on facebook and we talked and talked and talked. Her scare was just that at the time. I have learned that if you are a woman and you have a scare that is in need of biopsy or MRI imaging or you are told you have dense breasts or there are just a few “normal” looking calcifications showing up on a mammogram, you should be diligent in your self-care. My friend has done just that. However, her followup mammograms have been proving to be more questionable. Without telling many people, she went in for the suggested biopsy last week. She thought nothing of it because she had been told since that first scare she was fine. She wasn’t nervous at all.

She has just received the news. She listened to the woman over the phone tell her those words that change everyone’s life when they hear them. “You have breast cancer”. It wasn’t 24hrs. after posting my blog that here again was my friend–now facing the same form of cancer I did–DCIS–Ductal Carcinoma In Situ. I stopped everything, didn’t care if I was an hour late to a meeting, because I knew I was the person she wanted to talk to. I listened to her and I shared with her–the tears silently streaming down my face. She will be seeing her surgeon tomorrow. I am asking for prayers please.

Yesterday–I couldn’t help but feel a heartwrenching ache in my gut. I was mad. Mad that a cure hasn’t been found. Yes, early detection is the key and there are many pieces of health news always swirling around puporting to be something for you to do in order to decrease your risk of getting the disease. But ya know, I did most of those things and I still got it. Sometimes, no matter how you live your life, manage your stress, what you eat, or drink, or how much you exercise–sometimes you still get cancer. Sometimes it’s just predisposed in your genes and you don’t know when that snake will raise it’s head to strike, but it doesn’t make it any easier for me to swallow. That pill still gets lodged in my throat and it makes me really mad. My status updates since finding out have been filled with angst. Many of them reminding everyone that 1 in 8 women (or men) will be diagnosed. Let me rephrase that–1 IN EVERY 8 INDIVIDUALS WILL HEAR THE WORDS–“YOU HAVE CANCER”.

I took stock of just the people on my facebook friends list and realized that many of these women had already had scares. A few had already been through their cancers. I wondered how many more in just that list alone would have to go through that. I put out a request for everyone to stop and go through their own lists and to take a moment and pause for a prayer for each person on their list. I might seem melodramatic to some and that’s ok. I get it. They just have never had to go through what I did and there is power in prayer, I do believe that. 1 in 8. That is too large of a pill for me to swallow. I sometimes don’t know what else I can do though. I have wondered what else I was meant to do. Maybe I’m doing enough. Maybe I could do more.

Maybe we could all do more. Maybe we could all just take the blinders off and stop trying to pretend its not one of the leading killers for women. Maybe those that are scared of having the pancake masher hurt them will be reminded that having your boob CUT OFF hurts more–emotionally, psychologically, physically, etc. All I can do is put it out to the cyber world now and scream!! GO GET YOUR MAMMOGRAMS!!!!! Maybe we’ll find a cure. Maybe…Maybe…Hopefully…I do hope. For now, “L”, you are in my heart and prayers as you embark on this road. Good luck tomorrow, dearheart. I am with you in spirit.

Farewell, Chaotic Soul

As you can all see, I am overhaulin’ the site. New look, new outlook, new set up, etc. Just fresher, more appealing to my eye and hopefully yours. It’s been quite some time since I’ve written. Not that I don’t think about it at least 500 times a day. It just seemed like when I went into my blog it was full of painful reminders. Things I still haven’t been able to bring myself to post and others that still move me to heart wrenching palpitations. I tend to be an all or nothing person. I hate that. Moderation has always been something I’ve struggled with. Sigh. We all have our weak points. No one is perfect, right? So, I bit my lip, chewed my nails, and fretted–do I continue with the dark, somber, murky depths of my soul that are also depicted through the old theme of the blog (black background and swirling mists of subdued colors for a heading) or do I choose something new. Back and forth I have gone trying out and previewing new layouts all summer long. Not finding anything that fit what I was feeling. I opened up a couple other sites that are still under construction. I’m always pulled in the direction of things I HAVE to do instead of things I want to do. With the colder weather approaching, though, my own personal sense of turning into a pumpkin and wanting to hunker down for the winter are also allowing me to finally enjoy some time here and there to play on my blog, to write once again, to approach this from a new and renewed perspective.

I’m fine tuning things still–the header bar with menu pages to choose from, new pics to add to Flickr to show you the tremendous progress I’ve made–both mind and spirit, new links to peruse, and some other fun stuff along the way. As always, I have LOTS to talk about, so I hope you pop back in from time to time to check on the progress. I’m hoping to accomplish a lot of updates this weekend, but I have learned from the past that when I self-impose deadlines on myself (and they are not being required by some govt. agency, or work related affiliation), I tend not to reach my finish line. This isn’t always the case, just quite a bit. I heard from many that trying to read a white font on a black background and in a tiny letter size gave people headaches or because I tend to have lengthy posts, it was too straining on their eyes after a while and they would stop reading. I’m not usually known for brevity, so if you’re looking for short and sweet, keep looking. I love to write, and to express my thoughts. Hopefully the new color scheme will be more palatable for you. I know I like it. For the sake of rememberance, though…I thought I’d just post a pic of that header I so loved when I first started blogging. I remember when I first saw it–I fell in love with it. It appealed to me on so many levels. When I launched the blog and then went back to tweak something along the way and found out the actual name of the theme was Chaotic Soul–I was taken aback–it was the very embodiment of me during 2009.

When I look at the image now, I am reminded of a time when things seemed bleak to me. I had a girlfriend stop by the house once and comment on the image here. She said, before she even knew it was my blog, “What a pretty image. It is very reminiscent of the illusion of a breast” and then she showed me where she saw that in the lines. Like trying to make out an image in the clouds I stared and wondered too if subconsciously this was another reason I was drawn to it. Who knows. What I know now is this…That blog theme served its purpose. It was a comfortable friend to me and I took refuge in its solace. It has taken me a great deal of time to turn my head around. To feel ready to take on the world again. It started for me this year, a new journey of sorts. If you want to come along for the ride, I’ll take you through the transformation. I will also try to go back at times and pull up some of those posts that have sat in que, waiting patiently for their story to be told. I will dust them off and give birth to stories that have been stifled. Some may think, why go back. Move forward. I get that. I need to, though. To remember. To never forget. To show myself the progress in a very visual way. To possibly help someone else. To never forget. Most importantly, so that someday, my children will know the contents of their mother’s soul…

Many of you have contacted me, through facebook, twitter, or email–wondering what happened to me. How am I doing. Why have I stopped writing. When was I going to start again. I’m here to tell you I’m back. Thanks for being patient with me…:)

I Run for Life…

It’s that time of the year. Race for the Cure. I have been looking forward to it for a year now. When I walked my first race last year, I had just undergone my first chemo treatment and the start of my second; I had suffered respiratory arrest due to the severe allergic reaction I had to the chemo drugs; and I had lost all my hair. Slowly, but surely, though, I walked that route surrounded by a sea of pink. Overwhelmed by the shear magnitude of the event (my first ever), I walked proudly with tears streaming down my cheeks and told myself I would be back again in 2010. When I crossed that finish line, I pulled my signature Superstar move and although I felt like a winner, there was a small seed of doubt. Would I make it?



It has been a whirlwind year–at times moving at warp speed and at others, creeping along at a snails pace. For months now, I have looked forward to walking this race once more, crossing the finish line, and pulling my Superstar–only this time with the assured confidence that I had/have beaten this disease. Is there any doubt? Yes, a smidgeon. Enough to pull me down every once in a while, especially when I get sick and my mind starts to race through the “what if’s”. I came across a few pics from right after the race last year. Pictures I was too embarrassed by to put into my Flikr photos with the rest. When the pictures were taken, I was sitting on the front porch. Jordan came along and snapped a couple pics of me. It seems like yesterday when I think back. I was caught up in my anger then and it’s written all over my face. My eyes look sooo tired and expressionless. The worry lines had been chiselled deep into my brow by fear. My chest was non-existent and my hair–well, see for yourself.

Lost in Self-Doubt

She told me to smile. “Just Fake It”, I remember her saying. So, I tried. I really did.

“C’mon, Mom…you just Raced for a Cure…you should be happy!” I was. I smiled. I guess it wasn’t convincing enough. So, I tried again…

It was no use. That earlier feeling of euphoria while walking had been replaced with the weight of the world. I attempted one last try at a decent picture–one full of hope and determination–hell my before and during pictures in my Flikr photos are absolutely night and day compare to just a few hours later. (click on “more photos” in the sidebar to view last year’s 2009 Race for the Cure pics), but it just falls short.

I remember thinking how badly I needed a nap. Right after the race last year I worked at the Arsenal for several hours and then went on to piano lessons. When those pics were taken, I was exhausted and you can see it in my eyes. For the most part, these days, my head is in a completely different place than it was a year ago. Thank God.

I really wanted to go this year. I planned on going. I was all set to assemble Team Superstar and proudly walk with my fellow sisters. Then, I got a call, from someone that gave me some news. Nothing bad, in fact, very humbling news. I am being awarded something (I can’t say anything more until afterward). My presence was being requested in Iowa City to accept the award–on the same day. Of course, I felt honored, and after the surprise of the call began to wear off, I realized the event was on this Saturday, June 12, 2010–the same day as our local Race for the Cure. I wondered if I could actually swing both, but it really didn’t take long to make up my mind. I would probably only get this honor once in my life and the race will be here next year. So, I’m going to Iowa City on Saturday. My family will meet me up there to video. I’ll upload over the weekend so you can all share in the news.

For all those planning to walk or run in this year’s Race for the Cure–do me a favor and keep me in mind–even scribble my name into a corner of your memorial badge if you feel inclined to do so. I’ll be there walking in spirit and to show my support–I dyed my hair this past week–platinum with fuschia tips in the back. It has been cut in a way that shows off the tattoo I got last year, and as I promised, I will be going back really soon to have the word “Survivor” added underneath.

Showing My Support

I also found a video this past year that has gives me the chills each time I hear it. I have made the song my ringtone on my cell phone and I thought I’d share it here for all of you to enjoy as well. For all my sisters who are fighting this fight, have won their fight or have lost their fight, I will be running for you…soon.

The Financial Fallout Begins…

Kids Korner

Wow! I am really amazed at how much time has flown by. I imposed a blogging hiatus after my last surgery. I had to…didn’t want to…just had to. Just a few days after my last surgery back in January, my winter classes started back up. Last year, I was in freak out land. I was unable to finish my classes and so I just let them go. I thought I could do it, but realized I just couldn’t. So, instead of doing the smart thing and withdrawing from all three classes last year, I withdrew from one and vowed to continue with extensions in the other two classes. It never happened. My head just got too messed up. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t see straight. Being the Type A that I am–it is an all or nothing for me. That’s just the way I’m wired. And so, I did the unthinkable–I just dumped my classes…I just let them go…and I took the F’s. Me!! F’s!! Can you freakin’ believe it? I couldn’t either, yet my head wasn’t there and it was too late to withdraw at that point. Gone was my hard earned 4.0 GPA–but ya know what? I didn’t care. I just didn’t care anymore.

So, I re-enrolled in those two classes that I left at the curb. I devoted my energy to once again, pulling my GPA up and proving to myself that I wasn’t just some quitter. I know that is far from the truth. So, for 12 weeks, I worked on my classes. I found out after finishing them up a couple weeks ago that I get a second chance option. Yes, the letter grade F will still show on my transcript, but it will not be factored into my overall GPA since I passed my Children’s Lit with an almost 99% and my Child Psych with an almost 97%. I was ecstatic!! Once, they were finished, I celebrated. I had come back and accomplished what I gave up on last year. I proved to myself and to my instructors that I was ready to get back in the game. I took a couple weeks off to just play with my family and with my friends. I played hard, laughed hard, and as always worked hard. There were a million things I needed to get caught up on, but instead, I relaxed. Those things are still going to be there and I’m still going to be behind, but I vowed in this year’s New Year’s resolutions that I was going to MAKE the time to hang out with friends, and work on my chill skills. Its just more important for me now to just let things go. I can’t do it all at once. I’ll get to it when I get to it these days.

And remember those taxes I was freaking out over trying to get done…they’re still not done. I need to still get ’08 ad ’09 in. Yes, there will be penalties. Yes, there will accountant’s fees, but you know what? I just don’t care. Well, I do, but I don’t. I have been sitting in a sesspool of financial obligations. I knew last year that the true financial fallout would happen this year. It would take that long to catch up–and it has–with a vengeance. All the bills from the doctors and surgery centers and related other physicians, anesthesiologists, radiologists, oncologists, pathologists, and any other -ologist you can think of has hit my desktop. It is mountainous and I can only do what I can do which is try to continue breathing as I wade through this nightmare. To make matters worse, Jeff was wrongfully terminated from his job of 17 years and we are in legal crap up to our ears. Lawyers don’t come cheap. So, we have tapped every reserve we have and watched it run dry over the past three months. He is caught in a non-compete clause. His former employer and life-long best friend is now appealing the court’s decision to grant him unemployment after it was contested in the first place (don’t get me started with this story–whole other blog, trust me).

If that isn’t enough, the first house we ever bought and subsequently poured our hearts and lives into as we renovated it extensively all by ourselves (except for the help of just a handful of people that were good friends or family)–was sold at a sherriff’s sale. Yep. After carrying that mortgage along with our current mortgage for nearly 4 1/2 years, we went into foreclosure–well, it was my name on that house, so I’m the one that will suffer the credit effects. We just couldn’t make it anymore. Hell, in this economy, I don’t know too many that could have carried 2 mortgages and all the expenses to keep 2 houses up for that long. I know several people that have lost the homes they were living in this year. I’m counting my blessings that we still have a roof over our heads–at the moment–with Jeff out of work and me still pulling down three jobs and contemplating a 4th part-time job–I’m afraid that the straw that will break my back will be a recurrence of my cancer due to stress–again. I’m ever mindful of this. I think about it a lot. Yet our situation is out of necessity at the moment. I’m also waiting for the gavel to fall. I’m waiting to find out how much the difference is between the amount left on the mortgage to the amount the house was sold for. I’ll be responsible for the difference. Up until last year, BOTH houses were under my name and you guys thought I was just stressed about cancer or my missing daughter…sigh…

Jordan 1 1/2 yrs. & Jasmine 5 1/2 sit proudly in front of their new home.

As I walked through that house one last time, I cried. The dreams and the hopes you have as you start out your lives in your first home were coming to an end. On one hand, it was out of my hands at this point, and I was relieved. I wouldn’t have to carry that weight anymore. On the other, I was sick that it never sold. Damn housing market…took a dump the week we decided to move. It was really like my life was flashing before my eyes. I saw my children growing up there..watched out the window as my oldest daughter learned to ride a bike down the street without training wheels…flushed boogey men down the toilet so my middle daughter could sleep at night…nursed my little boy when he was born from my muted mauve bedroom…saw the daycare children growing up there…listened to the laughter ringing throughout the house..echoing in my mind…reminding me of years gone by. I’ll never forget sleeping on the floor of the living room every night for 7 months straight in a big makeshift bed that held all of us as we gutted the upstairs bedrooms and refinished the hardwood floors by hand–not with big machines, but with tiny belt sanders…I thought about the gardens that I painstakingly planted full of perrenials hunched over for hours on end with a belly out to there–pregnant and happy…working until the streetlights were the only thing that illuminated the fenceline. I remembered all the Mother’s Day Tea Parties I had thrown and the friends I had made…I remembered Jeff spending one hell of a hot summer poised on ladders as he scraped the house by hand and repainted it a beautiful grey with navy blue and white trim…I remembered the fights…the arguments with Jeff about money, childrearing, or what ultimately led to our decision to leave. I remember, vividly, my dad…poised over the pipes in both the upstairs bathroom and the kitchen as we gutted those rooms and he slaved over a hot torch without central air on 100 degree days to help us replumb this big, old four-square. I will always remember the night we were robbed–our first Christmas there–they took everything–even our winter coats out of the closet to drape around the TV’s they carted out of the house. I remember Santa bringing us Cheyenne–our first dog. If you remember from a previous post, she past away last June 17, 2009. Even more bittersweet, her pawprints were in the drywall dust from where Jeff brought her back to play as he worked on getting it ready for sale.

Santa brought us Cheyenne '97

It was the fireplace that caught my eye the first time I ever saw the house…some would have thought I was crazy…weeds waist high…paint falling off like skin on a badly sunburnt back…in sheets…but I could see the beauty. The day I walked up those rickety stairs and stood on that raw porch and peeked in the windows, I immediately envisioned the Christmas tree in the alcove near a blazing fire with my kids racing down the wide staircase to open their presents. That fireplace sold me.

Christmas '99

I knew it would be years of work, but I was up for that challenge. I lived without a kitchen in that old house for 5 years. Nothing at all inthere except the beams, exposed wiring, a broken stove with only one working burner and the stove that backfired like the muffler on an old Ford escort wagon we used to own. A laundry utitility sink that served as my sink and a utility table for my countertop. For five years, I patiently waited as my husband built my dream kitchen with oversized custom maple cabinets, custom tilework and stainless steel appliances and enbossed tin blackplash. I only got to enjoy that kitchen for a few months before we moved. Five years! I know no other woman that would have put up with that for 1 year let alone 5!! With tears streaming down my face like a leaky faucet, I came to rest on the most important place of all in that old home–my custom made growth chart. The edge of the fridge wall alcove where I measured a dozen children mine and “mine” that grew up with us in that home. I placed my hand on that wall and could actually see the smiling faces of these children…feel their excitement once more as they scooted their heels back to the wall and waited with giddy anticipation to see how much they had grown. I would miss that spot in my house the most. (see sidebar for flikr photos of growth chart)

I placed some tracing paper up along the wall and taped several sheets end to end and sat and traced out every name, every date, every growth mark. Then, I took pictures of it. Although they don’t do the spot justice or to someone viewing them, they could never know all the laughter and twinkling eyes that stood at that very spot over the years, but for me I knew it would be just a matter of time before someone would paint over that spot. The sentimental significance would not be the same for them. Jeff and I loved to find the story of that old house. We loved to talk about finding a gun in the rafters of the basement or pictures of people that had been left behind. We joked that as we tore each room out and rebuilt it, one day we would find a bag of money or gold. Perhaps we did, but not in the physical sense of it. Perhaps our gold lied in our perseverance to turn that old dump into our goldmine–a home for our family. But as I stood there, last week, May 31, 2010…I knew even Jeff had given up. It no longer belonged to us.

As I turned to look through the house one last time, I whispered an apology to my home, “I’m sorry for neglecting you. I’m sorry for ever taking you for granted.”, “I’m sorry we chose to pay for medicines and treatment for me instead of medicines and treatments for you” and then I followed with a note of thanks, “Thank you…for the memories…for keeping us warm and dry, comforted, and loved”. With that I choked back the sobs and with tears streaming, I pulled out of the drive one last time. I told myself as I drove away watching the reflection of that house fade out of sight in my rear view mirror that it was another chapter closing. It was like leaving her as I found her, weeds waist high, paint peeling once again, gardens neglected, and on the inside, traces of renter’s that had not appreciated her beauty, plaster falling from the ceiling in the master bedroom where a leak in the roof had developed, a basement that had taken on water when the pipes burst over the cold winter months, a delapidated and tired looking porch, and broken bathroom fixtures. All that work. All those years. All that money…gone…but, I was alive. I was thankful for that. That was all that mattered.

I always wanted to bring the previous owner back…a little elderly woman whose husband had passed away and whom we fondly referred to as George, the ghost (we attributed all the weird stuff we heard or saw over the years to him). I knew I would have made the woman proud. I had brought back to life the home she raised her children in. I knew the importance of preserving the story and was looking forward to the day when I could tell her ours. That never happened, but one freak day, I did meet the owner who poured the patio in back. She was up visiting from the South and wanted to see her old place. This woman was two owners back and she showed me the place her and her husband wrote their initials in the cement. That cleared up that question I had had for years. Now, whoever moves in will find our handprints cast in cement in several places around the house–the furnace pad that was poured when we took out the big octopus, the central air pad when after sweltering through 4 hot summers with no air–we finally moved into the 20th century, and in the front under the apron skirt of the house. There will be reminders of us all over the place. Since we pretty much gutted each room, Jeff was good about leaving little time capsules around the house buried within the walls. I hope someday to go back–show the new owner who the handprints belonged to. Maybe, just maybe they’ll be happy to see me too. I really hoped the next owners would love it as we had and bring her back to life once more. She had great bones. She was and always will be my first love. If I could have picked that house up and moved it to where we are now–I would have.

Saying goodbye...

I’ve been enjoying these past few months despite the emotional ups and downs. I have worked hard at my number one goal for this year which was repairing, reaffirming, and reconnecting myself with friends and family old and new. I have been working on another blog site–not ready yet, but I’ll keep you all posted as I get close to launching. I have signed up for summer classes and have started the whole freak out thing all over only this time, I am cramming 16 weeks into 8. Gulp. One is a writing course and as much as I love it, I find myself needing to break down and buy a go-anywhere internet card to keep up with my classes and still be able to take the kids to the pool on the weekends. I could write by the side of the pool. I have SO many things I am looking forward to sharing. I also have many posts that I never got around to posting and I want to just get that story out of me so I can move on. You’ll have to check dates carefully to get a perspective on the time frame and I want to thank you all for continuing to stop by from time to time, or friend me on Facebook (a place I spend more time than I care to admit late at night–but that is part of the resolution), and sending me private messages of encouragement and hope. I’m looking forward to getting back to my blog. I’ve missed it terribly. I’ve posted some new videos, am working on uploading pics, totally need to re-do my own pictures since my look has changed dramatically over the past few months, and just want to catch everyone up to speed. For quite a while, I wondered–crap, where do I begin? Here’s as good a place as any, I suppose.

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