Archive for the ‘Inspirational’ Category

Be Brave Enough to Break Your Own Heart

Sunday, October 13th, 2013

While cleaning out my cupboards the other day getting ready for yet another move, I found a stack of letters I wrote to my mom when I was down in Tucson at the U of A.  I was thinking, damn if that twentysomething girl knew what I know now; her life would be so much easier.  So, I decided to write her a letter.


Barely twenty hanging at my mural covered apartment wall at the University of Arizona.

Dear Twentysomething self,

Stop using food to fill that empty place you can’t ever fill with Little Debbie’s from the dormitory basement vending machine.  Food will never love you the way you will eventually learn to love yourself.

And don’t look for a man to do that either.

One day, your best girlfriend will tell you your boyfriend is no good for you.  Don’t cast her off as clueless or jealous.  She knows what she is talking about.  In fact, take heed of your girlfriend’s insights.  Their observations are made from a deck with a much better view than your own.  Listen.

My girlfriends!

More girlfriends!

One night I caution you to think twice before drinking an entire bottle of champagne and then hurling a beer bottle across the entire living room at a tall mad man that was probably right, you just weren’t ready to hear it yet.  Think twice again when one Sunday morning you convince the very nice and confused apartment manager to get the key to your boyfriend’s apartment, open his door and let you inside because he is not answering his phone and you are sure he is lying dead face down in his own vomit, only to find him naked in the shower with his buddy’s girlfriend.  Sweetie, I know you love him, but for god’s sake, do not go back to him.  “Be brave enough to break your own heart.”*

There are some things that you just don’t get yet.  It will take a lot of living first.  And, I assure you, you will live.  And, in time, you will get.

Beware of that big fucking heart of yours, darling.  Your tolerance, compassion and ability to forgive are beautiful traits.  They will get you far in life.  But, if you are not careful, you will also be walked on like a doormat.  Do not be a doormat.

I know you want to make everything right.  I know you want things to be perfect.  You have high expectations for yourself and others.  But, and listen carefully my sweet, you cannot make others happy by your love alone.  You cannot control people.  You cannot fix them.  You cannot make them do what you want, force them to live by your rules or love you.  You alone can do that for you alone.  You will learn this eventually.  You really will.  Be patient my love.  I know patience is not your best virtue but it will be someday.

And one evening when a friend asks you to go to a party at her house even though you are battling bronchitis, say yes.  You will feel like shit, lose a game of Quarters, and end up rolling around on the floor making out with a mysterious dark haired dark eyed guy, whose friend, just a few minutes earlier, asked you out on a date.  You never go on that date.  Instead, you meet that mysterious dark haired, dark eyed guy the next night at another party.  Your oldest will have his chiseled chin and low voice.  Your daughter will have his strong will and your eyes (she will learn to roll them better than you).  And that middle of yours, with those bedroom eyes and quick wit, will make you question everything you think you know in this world.

My kiddos!

You will do some stupid things, Deanne, so a bit of a warning.  Do not hook up with a guy nicknamed Psycho.  Do not go to Puerto Penasco for three days without sunscreen and only $20 to your name.  Do not believe him when he says, “nothing happened, we’re just friends.”  And do not, I repeat, do not buy that 1978 maroon Firebird from a guy because he is cute and said it’s a great car.  It will not only put you in debt, it will send you to the hospital with 3rd degree burns.

Your tendency of being “too nice” will put you in some compromising situations.  It is ok to say “No.”  Actually, it is more than okay, it is essential at times.  It will take you a long time to learn this, however.  And, always, always, always follow your instincts darling.  That overly nice syndrome of yours gets in the way of listening to your gut.  Your gut is always right.  I repeat your gut is always right.  Don’t let anyone make you believe otherwise.

And, don’t spend so much time worrying about your future.  Should I get a degree in psychology or accounting?  How about poly sci?  I love Women’s Studies.  But, what would I do with a Women’s Studies degree?  Teach?  Maybe a degree in business would work best with raising a family?  Do I want to have a family?  Do I want to work?  Can I do both?  Will I ever find someone to love me so I can have a family?  “Worry is like a rocking chair, it gives you something to do, but gets you nowhere.”  Erma Bombeck I believe.  Make a choice, girlfriend, and live with it.  If it is not working for you, change it.  It’s that simple.  Your life will happen with or without fretting.  Just live it.  Be in the moment.  Right now.  This is it!

Do continue to smile.  You have a beautiful smile with the whitest of teeth.  Take care of your teeth.  People will love them.  And they will love you.  Keep giving, and loving and friending.  In other words, be yourself.

And when you are afraid, be afraid.  Do not be afraid to be afraid.  Fear can be a great motivator.  So is anger.  Do not let them stop you in your tracks.  They are only obstacles, temporary hurdles.  Feel the anger, feel the fear and push through it.  You will need this skill because one day, you will be faced with some major challenges; challenges that will knock the wind out of you and lay you out to dry in the hottest of hot summer suns.  You will get through them though; I swear it on a stack of Carl Jung Psychology books.  Actually, you won’t just get through them, you will conquer them.  You are a very strong woman Deanne.  You just don’t know it yet.

And you are right.  The issues you do not work out right now will rear their ugly heads again later.  But that may not be a bad thing.  You are not ready.  You still have a lot of experiences ahead of you before you have enough ego strength to deal with them.  That is the way of life.  It is a process, a journey.

Take care of yourself my sweet.  Do not put yourself on the back burner.  Don’t do it.  You will regret it and find yourself starving in abundance and grabbing the wrong thing to feed you.  Try to find some balance.  Make room for the things you have always loved; music, writing and travel.  They will keep you going when you do not feel like going.  They will fill you up when you feel empty, and they will give you meaning when life seems meaningless.

You are a rebel Deanne.  You always have been and always will be.  So when your mom says,’ “You’re kidding right,” after you tell her that you have decided to take your kids out of school to home school, hold tight.  She will turn out to be your biggest advocate.  Do not waste your time trying to convince others.  That is your own insecurity.  I promise you, it will be the best decision you have ever made in your entire life.

It is not the only decision you will have to make that others won’t like.  Stand your ground.

One more thing, you really need to know that a flat tire is just a flat tire.  It was not meant to make you late for an appointment or to ruin your day.  The Universe is not out to get you.  Shit just happens.  Do not take it personally or attach some meaning to it that is not there.  We waste a lot of time attaching meaning and creating stories to things that just happen.  Know the difference between what happened and your story and you will be set free.

Sweetheart, your life is going to be a mix match of firework fabulous to piss water awful.   But all of it, absolutely all of it, will create the most extraordinary work of art.  You!  Be thankfull.

And, someday a handsome man in a bar will write a phone number on a napkin and give it to you.  Take it.  Call it.  He will be your guide to peace and serenity.  It won’t seem like it at the time, but trust me.

Yours truly always and forever,

Your fortysomething self


*Cheryl Strayed, Tiny Beautiful Things

Strange Gifts

Thursday, September 12th, 2013

My handsome sweet smart 44 year old history professor brother of mine gave us all a scare this past weekend.  He had a stroke.  Actually, he had two strokes.  They were small and he is alive, thank god, but a bit shaken.  We all are!  The doctor’s believe a blood clot was released from his heart, blocking the blood flow and cutting off oxygen to his brain.  To confirm, they are putting him through all kinds of tests to find out exactly why such a young and apparently healthy guy (he hikes the Grand Canyon once a year for god sake) had a stroke.

Eric hiking the Grand Canyon

That was Saturday.  Today, he is at home, coherent but tired, nursing a horrible headache.  While on the phone with him earlier, I asked him how he is feeling.  He said, slurring his words a bit, “His head feels like someone hit him with a baseball bat.”   He is unsure whether the pain is from the stroke, or the concussion he got as a result of falling and hitting his head; on what, he does not know.  There is currently some blood on his brain due to the fall so he cannot take any blood thinners until he stops bleeding.  Anticoagulants are prescribed to prevent another stroke.  I think this worried him a bit but he seemed most worried about his kiddos, his work and the fact that the doctor said no driving for three months.  Or, maybe I was the one that worried most about this last fact.

Even after all the tests, they still do not know “why.”  His cholesterol is good, his blood pressure good, he is not overweight and although he enjoys his green chile burritos and occasional martinis, he is in good health.  Statistically, about 30% of young stroke victims never learn the reason why.  I hope the tests will give him an answer.  I truly do.  It is horribly difficult to live with a disease or trauma of some sort, without knowing the “why.”  You can speculate till kingdom come, and yet, the lack of answers will still haunt you.

Why me?  Why now?  Why this?  Why that? Why? Why? Why?

I asked myself that a thousand times since I was first diagnosed with cancer.  I still don’t have an answer.

But this ambiguity can be turned into something very positive and meaningful, I have found.

Take Elie Wiesel for example.   When Elie was a teenager in Transylvania in 1944, he and his entire family were taken in the middle of the night to the Auschwitz concentration camp.   In his powerful and terrifying narrative, Night, Elie writes, “There are those who tell me that I survived in order to write this text.  I am not convinced.  I don’t know how I survived; I was weak, rather shy; I did nothing to save myself.  A miracle?  Certainly not.  If heaven could or would perform a miracle for me, why not for others more deserving than myself?  It was nothing more than chance.  However, having survived, I needed to give some meaning to my survival.”

I so get this.

Why did Eric have a stroke?  I have no idea why.  Why did I get cancer?  I don’t know that either.  Was it my dense breasts or because I started my period when I was very young?  Was it the birth control pills, my 10 lb. babies, not enough vegetables, bad genes, lack of Vitamin D, chocolate covered almonds, Sam Adams, deodorant, that damn black bra with the underwire, stress, negative thoughts, polluted air, or acid rain?  Was it fate?  Did I have a lesson to learn?  The list goes on and on and on.  It’s exhausting.

Again, I don’t have an answer.  But, I do know, it was not useless.  I know that much for sure.  Why?  Because I gave it meaning, my own meaning perhaps, but meaning. And, so will Eric.  Joseph Campbell explains it this way:

“Life is without meaning. You bring the meaning to it. The meaning of life is whatever you ascribe it to be…”

And how does one do that?  How does one ascribe meaning to something so horrible, so difficult, so… Well, if Elie did it, I certainly can.  I can’t profess to know what Elie did to give meaning to surviving that terrible night at Auschwitz or his stay at Buchenwald.  But I can guess that his writing helped him profusely.  I can also guess that his writing was just one piece of a very intricate puzzle.  Although my cancer cannot in any way be compared to what Elie went through, my experience has helped me learn a few things along the way.

First of all, I have learned to look at difficult events that happen in my life from a different perspective.  Shining a new light on things, I have come to understand that trauma, difficulty, pain or suffering can be a gift if you choose to see it from a more meaningful viewpoint.   Now don’t get me wrong.  I don’t wish cancer or a stroke or a concentration camp on anyone.  There was no “Woohoo, Eric had a stroke, he is one lucky dude!”  It’s not that kind of gift.

No, when I first heard that Eric had a stroke, I was devastated.  I was shocked, I cried and I was scared.  But, I am optimistic and have full trust in his “kicking ass” capabilities.  I know he will turn it around and pull himself up from his manly bootstraps.  And, like me, I believe not only will his stroke open new doors and new paths full of fresh opportunities for him, it will close doors that lead to dead ends.  Therein lies the gift.

A nice big door opened to me at the Susan G. Komen Luncheon where I was a guest speaker! These lovelies are all breast cancer survivors!

Secondly, I have learned compassion at a much deeper level than before.  And this compassion has helped me to understand others so much more.   It seems to me that one needs to suffer to understand someone else’s suffering.  You know the whole “walk in my shoes” idiom.  When we see someone else feel the pain we felt, our hearts open to their pain.  We feel empathy.  Well, most of us do, anyway.   And this empathy, this compassion opens a whole new world of understanding, one where judgment, anger, bitterness and resentment no longer dwell.  One that is much more peaceful than before.

The Venerable Maha Ghosananda, Supreme Patriarch of Cambodia,explains this well.  He saw that to unify the nation of Cambodia, it was essential for Cambodians to put aside their anger for the genocide of the Khmer Rouge.  He described it like this:

“The suffering of Cambodia has been deep. From this suffering comes great compassion. Great compassion makes a peaceful heart. A peaceful heart makes a peaceful person. A peaceful person makes a peaceful family. A peaceful family makes a peaceful community. A peaceful community makes a peaceful nation. A peaceful nation makes a peaceful world”

Does it sound overly optimistic?  Maybe.   But simply believing that it is possible to have world peace brings extraordinary meaning to one’s life.  I know that it’s a work in progress.  I am a work in progress.  We are all a work in progress.  But, I have hope.

Do you know that when Elii first wrote Night, every single publisher turned him down?  They didn’t think anyone wanted to read a book so depressing.  Or, read a book written by a Jew.  That was years ago.  Things have changed.  Elie’s book is now read by students everywhere as a part of high school and college curriculum.  What do you think of world peace now?  Is it possible?  Maybe.

I do not know all the answers.  In fact, I never will.  But, I do know that my cancer, Eric’s stroke and the Holocaust were not by some obvious universal extraordinary numinous pre-planned design.  The Universe did not have a vendetta against me, or try to teach me some lesson.  Cancer just happened.  It sucks!

But since I did get it, I might as well turn it into something less “sucky,” more significant, more meaningful and maybe, just maybe, not only bring a little more compassion and peace to me, to my family, and to my community, maybe in my teeny weeney little way I can be a contributing factor to bringing more peace to the world.  A tall order?  Maybe.

Eric, what do you think?

My Sun Sets to Rise Again

Monday, September 2nd, 2013

“[T]hat old September feeling, left over from school days, of summer passing, vacation nearly done, obligations gathering, books and football in the air … Another fall, another turned page: there was something of jubilee in that annual autumnal beginning, as if last year’s mistakes had been wiped clean by summer.”   ― Wallace StegnerAngle of Repose

“Each night, when I go to sleep, I die. And the next morning, when I wake up, I am reborn.”
― Mahatma Gandhi

I was born on Labor Day.  Actually, I was born a few hours after Labor Day at three o’clock in the morning.  Although Labor Day is not my actual birthday, it sure feels like it. The day has always been dedicated to me.  And, as my mom always jokes, “Labor Day was named after me because I went into labor with Deanne that day.”

Every year on Labor Day weekend, I would have a big slumber party.  I invited all my best girlfriends, moved the furniture in the family room up against the walls and decorated with balloons and streamers.  We would swim, dance, eat too much cake, play “Light as a Feather, “Stiff as a Board,” and watch the Jerry Lewis Telethon.

I grew up with Jerry.  The first Jerry Lewis telethon was aired on Labor Day in 1966, the year I was born.  I loved him and his movies, especially “The Bell Boy.”  And, I felt lucky that with only five channels to choose from, all that went off the air at midnight, that my birthday was the only night of the year there was a television show on all night long.  It made me feel special.  We would watch Jerry push himself as he stayed up 24 hours straight raising thousands of dollars for muscular dystrophy with guests like Ed McMahon, Sammy Davis Jr. and Tony Oralndo and Dawn, “Tie a yellow ribbon ‘round the old oak tree!”  If Jerry could do it, we could do it!

But we couldn’t.  We didn’t.  At some point in time, we always fell asleep.

The first day of school after summer vacation always followed Labor Day.  Even though I was exhausted from the night before, I was excited for a new year to begin.  I would unwrap my new pens and erasers, set up my pencil box and three ring binder, and lay out my new fall clothes for the next morning.  I was so excited to wear my new outfits I didn’t care that it was still 110 degrees in the shade as I slipped into my 70’s gold turtle neck top, matching corduroy skirt and itchy tights.

Labor Day weekend always signified change for me; another year older, a brand new wardrobe and a new year in school.  But after years of no telethon, hundreds of channels and homeschooling, Labor Day weekend became just another weekend.  Until now!

This year Labor Day weekend yet again signifies change!

We are moving!  It was only a year and a half ago that we moved into this glorious monster of a house.  With its flowing waterfalls, lush zen garden and Koi ponds it has been both a blessing and a nightmare.  Parties, book groups, poetry workshops, rock concerts, movie nights, new friends and late night Nerf Gun Wars have filled both these walls and our hearts.  But so has flooded sump pumps, overflowing toilets, root infested pipes, armies of ants and the never ending wrath of the Santa Ana winds leaving me with two days of yard work and resentment.

Midnight Nerf Gun Wars

Mother Function Concert in our Garage

So after careful deliberation, we have decided to sell our home and move on to something less monstrous, less glorious, less work, less money, less;  but in the long run I know it will bring to my life so much more.

The house should be up for sale by this Friday on my birthday.  I am sad to say good bye.  Although I will miss our midnight Nerf Gun Wars and movie nights, they will always be a part of me just like those late night slumber parties and Jerry Lewis telethons.  In some ways, it is the end of an era for me, in others, a new beginning.  But I am not afraid of new beginnings (well maybe a little).  I just don’t always like the death that precedes it.

But as Robert Browning writes, “My sun sets to rise again.”  So, as the sun sets this Labor Day, I will unwrap my new pens and erasers, set up my pencil box and three ring binder and lay out my new fall clothes for a new year, a new beginning!  I am born again this Labor Day weekend.  Happy Birthday to me!

Dear Sugar Daddy

Friday, July 19th, 2013

Last night was the strangest poetry night ever.  It was the regular Wednesday open mic at the Ugly Mug in Orange.  Rachel McKibbens, poet, activist, and essayist was the featured poet.  The place was packed and I was sitting in a puddle of sweat form both the summer heat and my nerves.  I was planning to read a new poem I wrote, Dear Sugar Daddy, but I was nervous.  The poem was different from anything I had written before.

As the open mic got started, it was announced that we could read two poems or four minutes.  Typically it is three poems, five minutes.  But, there were so many people to see Rachel we would have been there till Friday if they kept to the usual guidelines.  My poem was close to five minutes.  I wouldn’t be able to read it.  I was so disappointed. Raundi, my BFF and partner in crime suggested I cut some parts.  I considered it, but I would either have to cut the funny stuff or the profound stuff.  I decided for the integrity of the piece, to not cut any stuff and save it for another night.

A few minutes later, once comfortable with my decision, Ben Trigg, one of the Two Idiots Peddling poetry, sadly announced that Rachel would not be performing tonight.  She had a family emergency.   Again, another disappointment.  Rachel is a truly remarkable poet. Her candor is both painful and powerful.  But through her words, she brings true healing to those who have known suffering.

But, as happens in life, when one door closes, another opens.  Because Rachel would not be performing, poets would have the usual three poems or five minutes.

So, it seems the stars were aligned in my favor last night because I was able to read my poem.  And, I was truly grateful for the response.  It was a hit.  But, I will let you decide. Per a friend’s request, I have posted it below.

By the way, Rachel’s family emergency:  a family member came into the Ugly Mug ranting and raving about Rachel not telling the truth, blah, blah, blah.  Honestly, her behavior made it impossible to believe any of her rants only to confirm the beautiful power of Rachel’s poetry. Keep on writing Rachel. There are those of us that want to hear what you have to say.  Actually, we need to hear what you have to say.

Here is a link to her website:

And a link to Two Idiots Peddling Poetry:

Dear Sugar Daddy

Oh Henry, it was not because of Clark

You would have killed me before long if I continued to indulge in your divine sweetness.

Like oxygen is to fire

You stoked my sweet tooth

And fed my cancer

How I craved you


Your milk chocolate Kisses

And Gummi bear hugs

Melted me

And that almond nougat center of yours

Stuck to my insides

Your Laffy Taffy tongue could undo me in one licking

And the way you commanded those black licorice whips

You brought me to my knees

I prayed for salvation

As you placed Necco Wafers in my palm

Body of Christ



I still remember the day we met

I hit Payday

You were pure Almond Joy

With your Strawberry Starburst smile

And Milky Way eyes

I was on Cloud 9

You always had that affect on me


Like the day we played Double Dare with X rated candy hearts

You wrapped me in Bubble Gum Tape

Tootsie Rolled me in your Pop Rocks quarry

And Fun Dipped me in your old fashioned soda fountain

I was a red hot Atomic Fireball



Or the time we arm wrestled for first Dibs on that blue raspberry flavored Blow Pop

You won

The bubble popped

The gum stuck in my hair

We tried to wash it out with peanut butter cups

But it was of no use

I had to cut it all off

Every last strand

I knew then that I was in love



Then there was that infamous night you gave me a candy diamond ring

Down on one knee

You asked me to marry you

I slowly sucked the precious stone down to the stump

My saliva dissolving the red jewel down to a syrupy puddle in my heart

And said “yes”


You were my Sugar Daddy

And I wanted to have your sugar babies


Damn, how I loved to climb your Mountain Dew six pack

Count how many licks it took to get to your Tootsie Roll center

Tickle your skittles

Wiggle your Joe Joe’s

Butterfinger your Doughnut hole

And get lost in your package of Whoppers

Drunk on your liquid cherry cordial insides

I would howl at the Peppermint Patty Moon

While I prayed to the Sugar gods for more


But like all good things, it had to come to an end

I could not live on sugar alone

My doctor said no more

To keep my cancer from coming back


We were both devastated

After being joined at the hip, like melted Junior Mints


But instead of ending things, I became bitter

Trying to change you

I stripped you from your bright colors, sugar coating and gooey caramel filling

Took away your nuts, your sprinkles and your Good Humor candy center crunch

But as I tried to soften your insides it only hardened your shell

And we ended up in Big Hunk fights


When I finally realized changing you would not work

I tried to quit cold turkey, complete abstinence

I cleaned out my cupboards, threw out my hidden stash

And poured every ounce of you down the drain

But I became delirious

And my hallucinations got the best of me

Gummi worms were crawling all over my skin and Swedish Fish were swimming in my eyeballs

I could not take it


So lastly, I attempted to replace you with other sweeteners

But there was no substitute for you


I was in such denial baby

Quitting you was like trying to bite through a jawbreaker

You were my crack

My Dopamine Ding Dong

Bursts of euphoria would rocket me straight to Mars when you entered my bloodstream

I was addicted

No amount of Good and Plenty could satisfy me

And, my willpower was no match to your Pixie Stick

How I wanted to pour every last sugary granule down my throat

Let you dissolve in my mouth

Enter my veins

And travel to every corner of my being


Until one day, I hit Rock Candy bottom

I could not bear to live without you

So, I drank an entire case of Coca-Cola

Swallowed the Bottle Caps too

And hung myself from the rafters with Red Cherry Twists

They untwisted

I fell to the ground

Smashing into a thousand little Reese’s Pieces


That was when I finally admitted I was powerless over you

And came to believe that a Power greater than us could restore me to sanity

I began to let go

Joined AA

Went to my meetings

Found a Mentos

Read my literature

And worked my 12 step program

They were my Lifesaver


Since my spiritual awakening, I live a healthier life style

Green juice and flax seed cookies have replaced those late night candy bars, butterscotches and lemon drops


But I still long for you

Dreaming of those sweet lazy daze tangled in each other’s arms

Giggling at the comic strips wrapped around little pink Bazooka rectangles

Melted, hot, and sticky in a pile of wrappers and empty bottles of root beer

Puffing on bubble gum cigarettes

While the room filled with powdered sugar smoke

Art before Housework

Tuesday, July 9th, 2013

 “Housework is work directly opposed to the possibility of human-actualization”…Ann Oakley

Last week at basketball practice, during the last five minutes of a scrimmage game, Casey landed on his coach’s foot and sprained his ankle.  Watching the whole thing happen, I could feel his pain as he limped around the court trying to shake it off but there was just no shaking it.  His ankle swelled up to the size of a baseball.  I took him to urgent care that night.  After three hours and a few X-Rays, the doctor said it’s a bad sprain.  “Keep it wrapped, iced and elevated.  And, stay off of it for two weeks,” he added.

Two weeks!!??  Casey’s friend said “Lucky!”  And Casey thought, “Well, it’s a good excuse to just hang around.”  But, I had a very different opinion.

Don’t get me wrong, I felt bad for Casey.  He just started a club basketball team and he had a big “Mother Function” gig coming up.  Poor guy sprained his kick drum foot.  No, I had a different opinion because I had already been struggling with feeling like my kid’s slave since summer began; now I have to be Casey’s nurse maid.

Casey rock'n out in our garage with sprained ankle at the Mother Function and Bunny House Party this Saturday!

Typically, I don’t mind taking care of my family.  Driving Casey to band practice, taking Maggie to poetry or making them chicken noodle soup when they are sick is part of being a mother and I love being a mom.  When they are working hard, doing well in school and following their passions, I am more than happy to help out.   But, when I ask them to clean the kitty litter or take out the trash while they are playing video games in the middle of summer, and I get answers like “in a second” or ”I will in a minute,” well that’s another story.  And to add insult to injury, when a second becomes an hour, an hour becomes an afternoon, an afternoon an entire week, then I get angry.

So, why would the universe kick me when I was already down?  Why would Casey get injured now?  Well, I have learned that’s simply the way things work.  I have also learned that it is not always a bad thing.  There is a lesson in every kick.

What lesson have I found in Casey’s sprained ankle you ask?  Patience for one.  I know this too shall pass.  Second, I need to lower my expectations a bit.  Trying to keep a house clean with all three kids home during summer vacation is futile.  But, I was really hoping to find a more profound lesson in all of this, which I finally did.

I got into a discussion about this the other day with my girlfriend.  She said that no other culture in the world does as much for our children as we do for ours.  So, I started researching it.  She was right. It’s true, especially with today’s helicopter generation.  Some believe this causes entitlement and laziness amongst our kids today.  There is probably some truth to this too.  But, even though I do a lot for my kids, they are not lazy.  It may “seem” like it at times, but when they are truly interested in something they go full throttle.  The “seems like lazy” times are usually when I am interrupting them and asking them to do something no one wants to do, not even me, like cleaning the kitty litter.  That’s when I get the “in a sec.”   Do I really think they are going to grow up to become do-nothing, lazy ass video gaming bums still living in my house at age 30 because they won’t clean the kitty litter?  Yes, sometimes I do, but then I am reminded of my own teenage days.

You should have seen my dorm room when I was in college. There was green stuff growing in beer bottles, a ten speed parked in the center of the room and my bed was hiding somewhere under all my dirty clothes (and I had the upper bunk).  I was also a world class procrastinator.  I skipped classes and put off papers until the night before.  My younger years were not much better.  My sweet hard working mother would clean and fold my laundry and leave the clean stack on the steps for me to take to my room and put away.  I have to humbly admit, for the sake of getting my point across, that stack of clean clothes would sit there for days. I would even walk by it, over and over again, on my way up to my room, on my way down from my room, without ever picking it up.  And, when I needed something from the stack, for example, a pair of panties after getting out of the shower, I would sneak down the steps dripping wet in my towel, grab a pair of panties from the folded pile, leave the rest behind, and go back upstairs to get dressed.   My mom would beg, plead and cry, “Please take your clothes to your room!”  And, I would respond, “In a sec.”  I’m so sorry mom.  And my point, I did not become a lazy do nothing bum.  No way.  Not even close.  And, neither will my kids.  Especially with a role model like me.

But am I really being a good role model?

I ask this because I know the true reason why I feel like a slave.

I feel like a slave because I am a slave, but not to my kids.  No, I am a slave to myself.  I am a slave to my should’s and ought to’s.  I am a slave to a story that has been told to me over and over throughout my life, weaved like weeds through the fragile tendrils of my spirit.   And, I am using this story to keep me from doing my real work.  It’s an excuse, a cover, blaming something else for my shortfalls.  In other words, it is a subconscious reason to not finish my book.  Clarissa Pinkola Estes writes in Women who Run with the Wolves, “I’ve seen women insist on cleaning everything in the house before they could sit down to write…and you know it’s a funny thing about house cleaning…it never comes to an end.  Perfect way to stop a woman.”

Take laundry, for example.   Why would I choose to do laundry over writing?  Besides the fact that we need clean clothes, laundry is something the kids can do.  But, instead of teaching a man to fish, I simply do it myself.  Why?  It’s easy.  It’s easier than teaching them and it is much easier than writing.  Separate the colors from the whites, add a cup of detergent, set the water temperature and press the “Start” button.  Viola, 45 minutes later, clean clothes!  It is simple and straightforward.  It does not take a lot of thought and you know the outcome.  This is pretty much true of most housework wouldn’t you say?  But when something is more complicated, has many steps, takes more thought and you have no idea how it’s all going to turn out, well that’s a completely different story.

Writing is not easy.  It takes me hours, sometimes days to write just one blog.  There are a lot of steps involved.  First, one needs to be inspired and you never know where you will find inspiration.  Second, it takes concentration, a lot of concentration.  Not easy in a world full of distractions.  Then there is planning, organization, and implementation.  And, once implemented, it is important to keep your momentum, sustain its life and finish what you have started.  Estes says, “Women who have lost one or more of these (steps) report that they “can’t think” of anything new, useful or empathic for themselves.  They are easily “distracted” by love affairs, too much work, too much play, by tiredness, or by fear of failure.”

We all have that fear of failure, whether you admit it to yourself or not.  Am I wasting my time?  Do people really want to hear what I have to say?  Are my ideas important, worthwhile, helpful?  Can I actually write?  When this Nervous Nellie creeps into our head, we pollute our creative spirit and turn to distractions.

We all have a creative spirit, a force that makes us feel alive.  Whether it is writing a poem, singing a song, closing a deal, running five miles, planting a garden, solving a case, building a future, mending a dress, painting a house, or raising a child, we are all part of the creative life. Estes says, “A woman’s creative ability is her most valuable asset, for its gives outwardly and feeds her inwardly at every level:  psychic, spiritual, mental, emotive and economic.”  I feel it.  I feel this creative spirit in the many things that I do like singing, hiking, homeschooling and writing.  But when this creative energy becomes dim and it is no longer lighting my way, I get stuck in the ordinary, the mundane.  I become overly complacent, stick to the familiar and lose my sense of adventure.  Laundry takes the place of writing, shopping takes the place of running, Facebook takes the place of reading, eating takes the place of…I’m sure you get my drift.

Me, not cleaning, with my girls at Still Water!

So when our creativity becomes polluted, it is time to clear the waters and weed our gardens.  Casey’s sprained ankle gave me just the motivation I needed to do this.  I told my kids, starting today, finishing my book is priority.  You are going to have to step up to the plate.  Do your own dishes.  Clean the kitty litter.  Feed the Koi.  And, pick up after yourselves.  I know the house is going to get messy.  Frozen Trader Joes burritos may become your food staple and your white T-shirts may take on a pink hue but Art before Housework dammit!

They are 100% behind me.

So all you women (and men) out there, take a stand with me and unite?  Come together creative spirits everywhere and join the cause!  Ditch the toilet brushes and vacuums! Throw away those mops and feather dusters?  Instead, pick up your pen, guitar, paint brush, running shoes, clippers, pliers, and glue guns.  Get writing.  Start singing.  Color those blank canvases.  Read a book.  Head for the hiking trails.  Join a museum.  And, remodel that kitchen you have been waiting for your husband to do all these years.  And, when you meet a woman, with glue gun in hand, tousled hair, stained clothes and a wild look in her eyes, do not judge.  She is a part of the movement.  She is the light.  She is writing a new story for the next generation.   She is creating!  She is free!



Oh, Freedom is Mine

Sunday, June 9th, 2013

“Stars when you shine, You know how I feel
Scent of the pine, You know how I feel
Oh freedom is mine
And I know how I feel
It’s a new dawn
It’s a new day
It’s a new life,
For me, And, I’m feeling good”

….Nina Simone, Muse, Michael Buble and Daisy Chain

 “I know but one freedom and that is the freedom of the mind.”Antoine de Saint-Exupery

I used to think freedom was a life void of responsibilities, ties and obligations; the ability to do anything I wanted to do and go wherever I chose with whomever I desired without rules, without coercion and without  expectations.  Sounds a bit like anarchy, huh.  And, it sounds awesome. But it’s not true.  As I have grown up, I have come to understand freedom as so much more than that. 

After being diagnosed with cancer and choosing to help heal my body through diet, I went gung ho on the greens.  Wholeheartedly believing in the benefits of healthy eating, it was easy for me to pass up that filet mignon and say “no” to strawberry cheesecake.  Choosing green juice over a nice cold Corona was painless.  I felt strong and totally confident with my decision.  Nothing could shake me.

But after a while, I started to become resentful.  I was jealous of people that could eat and drink whatever they wanted without thinking twice about what they were putting into their bodies.  I was frustrated that I had to be in control and stay “in-check” at all times.  Parties, holidays and social gatherings became a reminder of what I could not do.  Even commercials and billboards of beautiful people eating fast food pissed me off.  Disheartened and frustrated that I had to live by different rules or shall I say so many rules, I felt like a landlocked mermaid.  It just wasn’t fair. 

I simply could not go back to life before cancer, however, eating and drinking whatever I pleased.  Believing there is a link between what we put in our bodies and cancer, I had to change my lifestyle.  I have met many cancer survivors who chose not change their diets (and they are happy and healthy) but I could not do that.  Like Einstein, I believed, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results.”  I was not insane. 

So, how was I to continue to eat my greens and be at peace at the same time?  For it seemed pretty ridiculous to be on a diet that caused me so much stress.  And, I am sure it was not healthy to let the fear of eating a brownie consume me.  Truly that would not help my cause.  Dwelling on it would only cause me more stress and we all know what stress can do to our bodies.

So, I had to find a way to continue my vegan lifestyle and be O.K. with it.  I mean truly O.K.; mind, body and spirit all in sync.

Not until I came across this quote by Gandhi did I understand how I could finally be at peace with my choice.  Ghandi said, “Freedom doesn’t mean the absence of restrictions. It means possessing unshakable conviction in your choices in the face of an obstacle.”  

Ohhhhhhhh, I got it! Freedom is a state of mind and my state was still shakable. 

But before I continue, however true this statement is, I am not Ghandi!  Second, since a state of mind is defined as a temporary psychological state, maintaining true 100% “unshakable,” steadfast, unwavering, and unflinching conviction at all times is not only difficult, it is nonhuman. 

We all experience doubt from time to time.  For example, I am still not completely sold that changing my diet will keep cancer away.  I absolutely believe, without a doubt that it will help but I do not know for certain that it is the one true answer.  I know that there are many other reasons beside diet that people get cancer or that cancer will metastasize.  And, as long as I know this, my unshakable conviction is shaky.

And, I bet if you asked Mrs. Gandhi what she thought about her husband’s steadfast fast, risking death for a cause, and leaving her behind with the kids and bills, well she may have had a very different opinion.  I’m just saying.

In light of these facts, I do believe Gandhi was one rad dude.  And I would love to have the kind of 100% conviction in my belief that Gandhi had in his.  It would make my life a lot easier.  I also hope some day that I will reach the kind of enlightenment that Gandhi achieved.  But in the meanwhile, as I work toward the illuminated life, I will continue to remind myself every day that I am human.  I am not perfect.  I am doing the best I can with what I know.  I will try not to be so hard on myself or other people.  I will learn to let go and let live.  I will accept a bit of indulgence once in a while and not get mad at myself or let resentment set in when I falter.  I will also work hard on understanding that I will always have a bit of doubt hidden in the shadows but not to let that doubt sabotage my efforts.  And, I will always remember that any choice I make whether with 100% conviction or not, will either be a success or a lesson.  It will not be in vain.    

There is my conviction!  There is my freedom!

My Dark Side

Thursday, May 2nd, 2013


“All that is gold does not glitter,

Not all those who wander are lost;

The old that is strong does not wither,

Deep roots are not reached by the frost.

From the ashes a fire shall be woken,

A light from the shadows shall spring;

Renewed shall be blade that was broken,

The crownless again shall be king.”

 -J.R.R. Tolkein The Fellowship of the Rings


 Thank you Ms. Raundi Moore Kondo and Daniel McGinn for helping me get in touch with my dark side.

I am very excited to report that I have taken control of my late night binges and I have lost five pounds this last week.  It feels good not only to fit into my jeans again, but to take back control of something that was beginning to control me.  It is very empowering.

It seems something clicked deep within me after writing my blog on “nothing” last week.  It wasn’t a light bulb moment exactly.  It was more of an understanding.  Writing does that for me.  Or, shall I say the process of writing.  As I take all of those jumbled ideas in my brain, transfer them to a blank piece of paper in an organized fashion, things start to make more sense to me and I can finally understand what I am going through at that time.  And, because I am an over thinker, it feels almost orgasmic to release all that gobbly gook in my head and put it somewhere for safe keeping.  Ahhhh….. It’s a bit like Dumbledore’s Pensieve.   

But some gobbly gook runs so deep that a blog is not enough.  About 95 % of who we really are is hidden in the subterranean level of our being, the subconscious.  These are things that we are not wholly conscious of, or are only partially conscious of, hence the term subconsious.    

So when writing my blog isn’t enough, there is poetry.  Poetry goes where no man has gone before.  It delves into the bottomless caverns of my soul and pulls things out I didn’t even know were lurking in the depths.  And, when I am able to turn my inner editor off, wowzers, I am amazed at what emerges on the blank white pages.  It is truly eye opening, sometimes even shocking. 

It seems I have quite the dark side.  We all do, in fact.  Carl Jung calls it our “Shadow.”  “It is all that lies outside the light of consciousness, both negative and positive.”  “Everyone carries a shadow,” says Jung, “and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is.”  

Jung also believed that the shadow is the “seat of creativity.”  So to become more fully conscious the key is to bring some of this Shadow out into the light. 

How?  Our behaviors are one way.  Another way:  music, art and poetry!  Anything creative!    

So, I have decided to get naked in front of all of you today and bare my attempts to shed some light on my dark side through my poetry.

Happy Reading! 


Wrap your lips around me

Inhale me deep

Feel me enter your lungs

Your blood stream

Your heart



Breathe out



Into the air


Wrap your lips around me

Inhale me deep

Feel me enter your lungs

Your blood stream

Your heart



Breathe out



Into the air







Till you have sucked every last bit of me

Down to the final ash

Till there is nothing left to savor

Nothing left to appreciate

Nothing left

Toss me away

Stomp out my fire

Drag me across the concrete with your rubber sole

Still craving more

You bum another



Forgive ME

Milky white skin, innocent

Jaded by the sun and wind

Clear brown eyes

Dilated by dark chocolate desires

Happy pills, men’s whiskers and coyote tricksters

Longing to fire dance and dance with fire

Naked on a bear skin rug

I shift shape and shape shift

Hand and foot, foot and hand

It’s easy to do

Sugar daddy comes

Making empty promises

Yearning takes hold

Like an empty chair

Inviting, calling

Come to me

Drink me

Lick me

Eat me


You squeeze me like two pieces of paper

Bound between a paper clip

Eavesdrop on my heart

Through your snake like stethoscope

Cough on me with vengeance

Spewing your guts

Pound me with your fully semi-automatic assault rifle

Leaving me riddled with holes

Drill me to the core

Flooding me with your liquid venom

Bite me

Till teeth marks pierce my body

Tears drown all hope

Blood turns yellow

And my breasts deflate, dragging on the ground from the weight of you



Your lying makes a loud sound

Like glass shattering

On Saltillo tile

Shards perforate my ear drum

Pierce my body

Stab my gut

And break my already tender heart

Confused and

Riddled with jagged razor sharp fragments

I hang from the rafters

Like constellations in the sky

Trying to pick up the pieces

Some too tiny to reach

Some too big to grasp

All to sharp to forget


I Know that I Know Nothing

Thursday, April 25th, 2013


“We don’t know a millionth of one percent of anything”…..Thomas Edison

“I would never die for my beliefs because I might be wrong”….Bertrand Russell


There are some things I just don’t understand.  Like, how two brothers from Chechnya justify killing innocent people at a Marathon or, how people can believe the Holocaust never happened.  I don’t understand why airplanes don’t fall out of the sky or people can’t stop drinking when it is affecting their job, health and family.  I don’t get war, murder, rape, racism, conspiracy theories, cancer, football or why I have gained so much weight this past year.

I suppose there are some things, like flight for instance, that I may not understand but there is actually a clear- cut answer.  I know it has something to do with air pressure, gravity, thrust, and lift.  For a full explanation, I can look it up on the internet or get a book on the subject.  But that is only if I truly want to understand it.  I don’t.  And, I can live with the fact that I don’t get it. 

But there are some things that I don’t get that are much harder to live with.     

Terrorism, cancer, alcoholism, conspiracy theories, and well, my ridiculous weight gain.  Yes, my weight gain.  I have gained over 10 pounds this last year.  Some say that I needed to.  My Doctor believes it is from chemo-induced peri-menopause.  I believe both to be true but there is something else I cannot deny.  I am binge eating at night.  O.K.  I am not eating an entire gallon of ice cream.  I do stick to the pint size dairy free vegan version.  But, I’m still eating way too much when I am not even hungry.  I know many of you can relate.

I get that being worried about my weight gain seems pretty trivial in the whole scheme of things, even a bit silly, but I assure you it is not.  Why?

There is a common denominator between all of those things I listed above.  All of these “things” are either a result of or are in service to our need to get rid of the anxiety that comes from living in ambiguity. 

What is ambiguity exactly?  Ambiguity is uncertainty.  It is the not knowing anything.  Socrates got it over 2,000 years ago when he said, “I know that I know nothing.”  This he believed to be true wisdom; to admit that we know nothing and to be able to live happy productive lives with this knowledge, or lack thereof.

But most of us are not Socrates.  Living in this unclear, indefinite, equivocal state is not just unsettling; it scares the shit out of people.  And, humans don’t tolerate feeling uncomfortable for very long.

There was a great scene in Madmen, when Dr. So and So (sorry I don’t remember his name) told Don Draper,   “People will do anything to alleviate their anxiety.”  Then the doctor rides off in the middle of a snowstorm in New York City on New Year’s Eve at one o’clock in the morning on skis for a supposed “house call,” while Don heads upstairs to the Docs apartment to fuck the Doc’s wife.


So we drink, smoke pot, have sex with other peoples spouses, over eat, join fundamentalist causes, misuse political positions and for the truly disturbed and extreme, murder, rape and plant bombs at marathons, anything to alleviate our anxiety. 

The one surviving brother of the marathon bombing said that his older brother was “upset” by the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and that anger was the motivation.  He felt like he never belonged here and he didn’t have one American friend.

Not only was anger the motivation.  Fear was the spur and ambiguity the muse.

Our anxiety over ambiguity shows up everywhere.  In our politics, religions, schools and social lives as we try to manage, organize, command, control and even escape the unease from the uncertainty of life.  Dr. James Hollis, a Jungian psychologist says if we are truly honest with ourselves, “There is a fascist within each of us, a Nervous Nellie who wishes comfort at any cost.”  And Hannah Arendt wrote in Crisis of the Republic, “Throughout history the totalitarian mind is obsessed by a need for the world to be clear-cut and orderly.  Accordingly, subtleties, contradictions, and complexities are felt as intolerable, and have to be eliminated by whatever means.” 

Thank god the majority of us choose what seems like more simple vices, food, alcohol, sex, or religion.  But, simple as they may seem, you can go overboard and can cause a lot of harm to not only yourself but to others as well.

I admit I have tried a few other vices.  Sometimes they work (in the short run), most of the time they don’t.  In the long run, they always catch up with you.  And it seems when you get rid of one vice, another one takes over.  Take my emotional food binges at night.  Yes, that dairy free Coconut Bliss ice cream is to die for.  But is it really?  Is eating ice cream and gaining weight which results in too much estrogen in my body which could result in my cancer coming back worth it?  No, absolutely not, but I do it anyway especially when I am most tired and weak.  When ambiguity comes creeping through the dark halls of my soul late at night and I cannot resist the temptation of that sweet sugary something to alleviate my unease, I am putty.  

No, I need to get to the core of why I am eating if I am truly going to change.  I need to let go and accept ambiguity, embrace the unknown, learn to live in the midst of uncertainty, feel uncomfortable at times, and sit in my unease, then maybe I have a chance to not only fit into my jeans again, but maybe I can truly embrace a deeper more meaningful life.  James Hollis says, “Psychological, political, social and spiritual maturity is found precisely in the capacity of any person to tolerate ambiguity.”

I am getting there.  I really am.  I feel some progress but apparently, I still have more work to do.  I suspect we all do.

So, as I continue my journey, read the papers, watch the news, struggle with our world’s anxieties and that pint of ice cream at midnight, I will remember Socrates’ wise words, “I know that I know nothing.”  Or, do I?

Upgrading to a Tent

Wednesday, April 10th, 2013

One of the first conditions of happiness is that the link between Man and Nature shall not be broken…Leo Tolstoy

We are all so much together, but we are all dying of loneliness…Albert Scheitzer

After returning from our annual camping trip with my friends in Anza Borrego, I want to go back! 

Why?  Because, it’s simple there; a tent, food, water, friends, family and the endless blue sky!  It’s all I need.

Surrounded by majestic purple mountains, creosote bushes, ocotillos aflame with bright red flowers and millions of stars at night take me home and reconnect me with the natural world and myself.  It feels glorious.  It’s a far cry from the traffic, noise, buildings and city lights I have to deal with every day.   John Muir got it right when he said, “Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over civilized people are beginning to find out going to the mountains is going home; that wilderness is a necessity.”  In my case, going to the desert is going home.

Our kitchen at Anza Borrego campsite

Riley, Lauren, Casey and Maggie getting ready for a hike

Not only do I feel connected to the earth and the cosmos when camping, I feel connected to my friends and family.  Spending quality time with them, face to face, for five entire days, without television, the internet or phones is, as Master Card’s brilliant marketers say, “priceless.”  In fact, I noticed, as our phones went dead, we came to life. 

It felt good to be disconnected from both the internet and today’s crazy busy lifestyle.  It does not feel good to be disconnected from friends, family and the natural world, however. It is lonely.

No wonder I miss it already.  No wonder I am frustrated now that I am back to the daily grind.  I no longer feel connected to something much bigger than my daily life, much bigger than me. 

Maggie, Chloe, Rachel, Bas, Matt and Bennie and 17 others hiking to the Oasis

Honestly, I love the simple life.  I could easily live in a tent or an RV or even on a boat.  I don’t need all this “stuff.”  Why so many clothes?  It just means more laundry.  Why do I need two sets of matching plates and bowls?  It just means more dishes to clean.  And a big house with floors that show every speck of dust and cat hair; Why?  Arghh….It’s a huge burden to carry, weighing on me every day.  Like trying to make sure my cancer never comes back isn’t enough.

Apparently, I am not the only one that feels this way.  The other day, a homeless man, Dennis Mahurin won $50,000 in the lottery.  After taxes he will get $35,000.  He has decided to use the money to fix his teeth, give $100 to his fellow homeless friends, put a little away for a rainy day, and continue to live in his tent.  $35,000 is enough to get him off the streets but not enough to keep him out of the rat race.  He would need to get a job to pay for a house and all the other stuff he has learned he can live without.  So, he is going to stay in his tent, although, he is considering buying an upgrade.  He says, he’s as “happy as can be in my nature.”  I love this guy.

Leo Tolstoy not only felt the same way, he did something similar.  At the end of his life, he gave up aristocracy, seeking a less decadent way of life, and went to live with the peasants.

Playing Games - phones are dead or dying


Playing more games into the night

So what is a girl to do when wonderlust strikes?  When the desire for both simplicity and adventure outside of the ordinary calls?  Do I ditch the house?  Trade it in for an RV and park it next to Mr. Mahurin?  Kevin could quit his job, we can take Casey out of school, give away the cats, the snake, and the bunny and travel from KOA site to KOA site around the country taking odd jobs along the way.  It wouldn’t be Jack Kerouak “On the Road” but I would have my “tent.”

I have a great argument as to how this could all work.  But in the end, I know I would be living in the RV alone.  As much as I would love to escape the routine and responsibilities of my life, there are a lot of good things happening;  The Mammary Chronicles, Daisy Chain, The “Yes” Mom, homeschooling, Mother Function, Lauren and so much more.  And, honestly, the kids love their lives here on Cerritos Drive and the only way they would ever give up those cats are over their dead bodies.     

So, it seems the simple life simply isn’t that simple right now.  I am a mother first, in the thick of parenting, trying to stay afloat and alive.  But I know in the whole scheme of things, it is a short time.  Riley is almost 20, Casey will be a Senior next year and Maggie is officially a teenager.  It won’t be long before they are all grown up, moved out of the house and I will finally live in that tent I have always longed for, missing those days in the big house with laundry, dirty dishes, and dusty floors.

The Texas Two Step

Monday, April 1st, 2013

Growth is an erratic forward movement:  two steps forward, one step back.  Remember that and be very gentle with yourself….Julie Cameron

A worm is the only animal that can’t fall down…A Texas Saying

I am sick.  After two years, I caught a nasty bug and it got the best of me.  I can no longer tout that I have not been sick since I was diagnosed with cancer.  My well streak is over.  So, it’s time to lift myself up by my sexy cowboy boot straps, again, and start a new well streak.

My first symptoms hit me on my flight home from Texas last Sunday night.  The plane had been delayed 4 hours.  My new departure time:   1:20 am.  Although I was happy as a clam, I was tired and hung-over from the night before.  It was my cousin Jeremy’s wedding.  And what a wedding it was.  A beautiful and sweet Texas bride, Randi and her adorable daughter Madee, an old farm house decorated with burlap and mason jars, pastures of Pike Oak, cowboy boots, beef brisket, and the Two Step. 

The Happy Couple - Jeremy and Randi


The McAleese Family


The Cuzins, Megan, Patricia and Deanne with the happy couple


I tried to stay on my special healing diet while visiting, but we were in East central Texas, Bryan to be exact, near College Station, the heart of Brazos Valley and the home of Texas A & M University.  There was not a juice bar in site.  Jamba Juice does not count.  I am referring to something a little more green.  Although Bryan is an old farming community, and “Aggie” is not a nickname for Agnus, the only green I saw were pickles and jalepenos.

Don’t get me wrong, Bryan is not a backward hick town.  In fact, according to Money Magazine, “due largely to the presence of Texas A&M University, in 2006 College Station was named the most educated city in Texas, and the 11th most educated city in the United States.”

They just happen to like their beef and crawfish over my rabbit food.  Do you blame them?  Apparently, a Whole Foods is planned for the area but too late to do me any good.

Crawfish Texas Style Rehearsal Dinner


Mom, Dad, Uncle Sam, Aunt Marilyn and Family eating crawfish

So, when in Rome…..

I learned how to peel and eat crawfish, drink Patron without lime, eat brisket, speak Texas drawl and play a perfect drum roll.  Ok, it’s not quite perfect yet, but it’s getting there.   And last but not least, Josh “learned me” to Two Step. 

The Two Step is not as easy as it looks.  Not for me anyway.  It consists of three steps:  two quick steps forward, one slow step back.  A bit like life, actually.  And, a bit like life, I fell on my ass right when I was finally getting the hang of it.  Now, I could blame it on:

  1. The beer soaked floor
  2. My new black leather cowboy boots
  3. Jagermeister and Patron
  4. Not being a very good follower
  5. All of the above

If you answered 5, all of the above, you know me well. 

But no matter, because even after my confidence was shaken, my butt bruised and my dress covered in beer, I got up, wiped myself off and kept dancing the Two Step. 

The Cuz's

 But all good things must come to an end.  After four days of fun, it was time to say my goodbyes and go home.  I was scheduled to fly out of Houston at 9:25 Sunday evening.  My parents were scheduled to fly out of Houston the next morning, but due to horribly planned freeways resulting in even worse traffic they decided to drive me to the airport the day before and get a hotel room close to Hobby Airport.  It was nice to have that time with them, alone, just the three of us.  That doesn’t happen very often, actually never.

In the meanwhile, I kept getting texts throughout the day from Southwest Airlines advising me that my flight has been delayed.  The first text said my flight was delayed one hour.  A second text came through a few hours later:  a two hour delay.  Third text:  three.  And so on.  Spring was cancelled in many parts of the Midwest due to a heavy late snow and it was causing havoc at the airports and on my plans. 

So, to buy some time, we decided to get some dinner.  We wanted to go to Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen, a well-known Cajun seafood restaurant that originated in Houston.  But, we did not want to get back on The Houston freeways.  We were in luck.  There was a Pappadeaux at the Hobby Airport.  I never get that lucky.

We caught a shuttle, checked my bags and headed to the restaurant looking forward to some spicy Cajun food.  There was one problem, Pappadeaux was on the other side of security.  Only passengers allowed. 

For a split second, I felt as hopeful as an old maid looking under a bed.  I really didn’t want to hang out at the airport for 6 hours all by myself.  We were tired and hungry, and we all wanted a cocktail dammit.

My mom was on a mission.  She asked a TSA agent standing at the front desk, “Is there any way my husband and I can go with my daughter to the gates, or at least to the restaurant?  The agent told her the only way they could get past security without a boarding pass is to put me in a wheel chair and go back to the check-in counter and ask for a Passenger Assisted Escort Pass. 

The next thing I saw was my mom pushing a wheel chair up to me, “Get in!” She said and “act sick, I’m hungry.” 

I sat down and did as I was told.  You can’t get lard unless you boil the hog.

The thing is, I already checked my bags and got my boarding pass.  I already walked up to the check-in desk with my own two feet, healthy and strong, pulling my big ass suitcase behind me and putting it on the scale to be weighed and checked.   Now we have to do it again, same counter, same woman directing the line, same everything except I am now being pushed in a wheelchair.

As we approached the line, the woman that directed me earlier to the check in counter said with a confused look on her face, “You are back?”  Keeping a straight face was impossible as I looked up at her to answer.  But someone was looking after me, because as I looked up at her, the setting sun was shining brightly through a window in the distance, completely blinding me.  I put my hand up to block the sun and the TSA agent.  At that point, my mom took over.  She pulled out the cancer card, albeit expired, and it worked.  She explained how I have cancer, and that I am weak from the chemo.  She went on and to explain what a trooper I have been but my flight is late and she doesn’t want me to be alone for such a long period of time.  She did such a good job pulling at the heartstrings of the TSA agent, she let us pass.  In fact, not only did we get through security seamlessly, they let us skip ahead to the front of the line. 

Honestly, with my mom’s neuropathy, and after she wore cowboy boots for hours to the wedding the night before, I should have been the one pushing her in the wheelchair, not the other way around.  But she was determined.  My mom wheeled me steadily and confidently past security, through the terminal corridors and right up to Pappadeaux.  I got up, walked into the restaurant, had a fabulous dinner, a glass of wine and ditched the wheelchair for someone else who really needed it.

The moral of the story, well there isn’t one. 

Although I am sure it was the crawfish, brisket, Jagermeister shots, late nights and plane flights that did me in and broke my health streak, it was truly worth it; especially knowing there will always be wheelchairs to help me along as I Two Step my way through life.  Hmmm…I guess there is a moral to my story.

Thank you, Mom for pushing my wheelchair all these years.

And, thank you everyone in Bryan for “learning” me to eat, drink, speak and dance like a Texan!  I had a fantastic time.  Love y’all! 

Checking out cuz's boobies as I shop for new ones!