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seagulls and masts. Is this image serene or is it "so much to do, so little time"?

seagulls and masts. Is this image serene or is it “so much to do, so little time”?

Last week I made appointments and this week I followed through.

On Wednesday I gave a talk at Gilda’s Club.  They’re starting a series called “Members Speak”, and the series is front loaded with members who have public speaking experience.   My talk was the second in the once a month series.  Timing at the end of August is tricky.  Things are generally slow in the clubhouse as everyone is either taking their last vacation or getting the kids back to school.  Even so, I had more than double the attendance from the July talk!

My speech was titled: “Ooops I Did It Again!”.  I spoke about the differences both medically and personally that I’ve seen with two cancer diagnoses 24 years apart.  I talked about the niggly voice in your head, and anyone who has had cancer knows it, that wonders what will happen if you have to face cancer again. I talked about how important reading Gilda Radner’s book was to me 24 years ago, and how disappointed I was that a clubhouse like that didn’t exist.  I talked about how valuable my experience with Gilda’s Club has been this past year, as a member and a volunteer.  I got good feedback.  When I was done and we chatted after everyone stayed and was engaged in the conversation.

The Riverboat cruises all the way down the Mississippi. Sounds like a fun escape!

The Riverboat cruises all the way down the Mississippi. Sounds like a fun escape!

I met with a professional seamstress/tailor about what to do with my wardrobe.  She’s a friend I haven’t seen in some time so it was nice to catch up.  I got a tour of her gardens along with a lovely cup of tea.   What was fun was going through my basket of fabrics I’ve collected over the years.  We have similar tastes in fabric and styles.   I’m excited to be turning clutter into function.  This week we’ll go shopping for patterns and notions.

Having a meeting in the sunshine on a sailboat. YES!

Having a meeting in the sunshine on a sailboat. YES!

The photo gallery is from this weekend and my meeting with a web designer.  This is definitely the way to do a meeting.  We had perfect weather and wind for a sail, a lovely conversation, and we also determined that we are a good “fit” in terms of taste and style.  She will be sending me a “to-do” list, essentially holding my hand through the process of producing an up to date website that actually serves as a promotion tool.

School starts, and I maintain that I am enculturated to also start new things in the fall.   It’s when my energy is geared up and willing to take on new tasks.  Some of that is the drop in average daily temperature.   It’s easier to be active when it’s just a little cooler and the air isn’t as thick.

What are you starting this fall?

Baby Steps

Fear of success is very common, and I’m no exception.   I’m one of those people who does well out of the gate, and then fades back into the pack.   I get distracted, or bored, or overwhelmed.   Sometimes it takes a bit, but if I care enough I’ll usually put on my “big girl panties” and buck up.

This is the time of year when that often happens.  In the U.S. we are enculturated to start things in the fall, with the start of the school year.  This also means temperatures are a little cooler, which I prefer.  There is less humidity (and pollen) so breathing is easier.  I also know in 8-10 weeks I’ll be running into the holidays and I’d like a head start!

Last week was a week of “getting ready”.  I don’t feel as though I actually accomplished much, but I did set up some important appointments.  I had some networking opportunities and I’m preparing a presentation for later this week.  I started sending off my dry-cleaning (I have a lot as I’m still cleaning out closets  of oversized clothing).  I even took a gander at flylady.net!

I made an appointment with a tailor to talk about wardrobe and alterations.  I made an appointment with a professional web developer. (Getting free help from friends hasn’t been a rousing success so it’s time to bite the bullet!) I signed a contract to have a piece included in a new anthology (Burying the lead? More on this when there’s a publishing date.)

Rather than being grumpy, I’m looking forward to this week filled with possibilities.  I still will be “getting ready”, but I seem to have energy for moving forward again.  It’s a good change in the weather.

Critical Grumpy-pants

It’s Monday.  I wrote a blog.  I don’t like it. (Critical grumpy-pants!)  It’s not like I didn’t have a good week!  We volunteered at Gilda’s Golf benefit.  We went to my friend Karen Lund’s book launch party at the Como Park Conservatory and Japanese Gardens.  We saw Inside Out at the Cinema Grill.  I performed 3 rituals.   Maybe I’m just tired.  Here are some photos.

 

I helped make the prize board

I helped make the prize board

Great venue

Great venue

We greeted folks as they came in for the banquet

We greeted folks as they came in for the banquet

I've always loved this beautiful old building

I’ve always loved this beautiful old building

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The Japanese Gardens are delightful

The Japanese Gardens are delightful

You have to have a reservation for the teahouse, but Orion and I did a selfie at the gate

You have to have a reservation for the teahouse, but Orion and I did a selfie at the gate

The lilies were blooming

The lilies were blooming

Orion couldn't go on ALL of the path, but he could get to all the good spots

Orion couldn’t go on ALL of the path, but he could get to all the good spots

 

Comedy/Tragedy

It’s been a challenging week.  I took on the role of being a supportive friend.  This week my community lost an old friend of mine to metastatic pancreatic cancer.  He went quickly, having just announced his diagnosis a month ago.

Safe journey Keith

Safe journey Keith

Many people in my circles were still coming to terms with his diagnosis when he passed away.  There is a lot of shock, and grief.  There is also a coming together of kindness and support as stories, memories, are shared.

This community pulled together to support my friend in his passing and to provide him with the send off he desired.  There is documentation and journaling and a promise of a resource guide.  Those who participated in that process are all posting “I want to go like this” on their Facebook pages.

I have stayed in the background, offering quiet support to those I am closer to.  I have mostly listened and acknowledged that this man’s passing is a great loss to the community at large.  I have encouraged people to check in on each other.  I have passed on the news to folks who knew this man, but are outside of our community.

I have another friend who is building a career as an entertainer.  She had a set at a comedy club as part of a contest.  So I went to the club to be supportive.  She didn’t move ahead in the contest, but I had a great time.  PART_1439219447889_20150806_221928

Laughter is often the best medicine when dealing with stress, grief, anger and other difficult emotions.  Our bodies need the release, and so do our souls.  It seemed odd being at a comedy club when so many of my friends were looking to join in toasting the life of this man.  Still, for me, it was the better choice.

I got to support another friend.  I got a night out (which my regular readers know is a big treat).  I got to laugh, which was good for me.

Bad Example

My Dad has been home from the hospital for over a week now and they are starting to find their routine.  I on the other hand am struggling to get back to my regularly scheduled life.

Anyone who’s ever been through a trauma knows some surprise at finding that, although for you time seemed to stop, the rest of the world didn’t.   It’s not that I’ve had my head in the sand.  I’ve done some grocery shopping, some reading, some cleaning, some laundry.  Orion is going to his day program bathed, dressed for the weather, and with a packed lunch.

I’ve kept up with my blog.  I’ve officiated at the coven’s Lammas circle.  I baked a pie.  What I haven’t done is pay the bills, return library books before they’ve become overdue, and turn in the end of the month time cards.  The lawn really needs mowing.  Weeding is not even on the list!

Daily practice for me is often my cue to pay attention to my choices.  It’s an opportunity for me to accept the responsibilities I’d rather avoid and reframe them as part of my spiritual practice.

Paying the bills may not seem like a particularly spiritual pursuit.  However, “a witch’s power is her word” so if I’ve incurred a debt that obligation is tied to my personal power.  I also recognize money as a form of energy, it ebbs and flows.  As I send it out I hope it will return three-fold (in value anyway).

Maintaining good financial practices does pay back.  I got a call from one of my creditors.  I’ve had a long-term relationship and always paid my bills on time.  They didn’t get a payment and wondered what happened.  I’m pretty sure I sent it, but maybe not.  In any case it’s taken care of now, and because of the history I wasn’t charged extra.

So I’d best get on my ritual gear.  I should pull out my magic wand (pen) and get writing.  Visa isn’t going to wait!

Breathe

Dad is home and doing well.  Thank you for all the support and good wishes.

The bees are liking the bee balm

The bees are liking the bee balm

I have allergies.  I’ve been doing allergy shots for 5 years or so.  Things are definitely better, but there are still a few weeks each year where I have to pull out all the stops.  This is one of those weeks.  Because of that, sitting in an air-conditioned hospital was not the most horrible thing for me to be doing.

I’ve missed some pretty dramatic thunderstorms these past weeks.  Either I’ve slept so hard I didn’t hear them or, like the night the tornado sirens went off, the worst has passed me by.  I’ve been grateful not to need to water the garden as I run out the door in the morning.

The lawn hasn’t been mowed, but the truth of the matter is that given the allergy conditions I probably wouldn’t be able to do it anyway.  I often quip that breathing is over-rated, but the truth is I’m kind of attached to it.

On a good day I can hit the top.  On a bad day…….

On a good day I can hit the top. On a bad day…….

I’ve been watching Dad work the spirometer post surgery.   He’s a champ.  So the other day I got out mine, “just to check”.  When your 79-year-old father whose just had open heart surgery literally blows harder it’s definitely time to hit the inhaler.  I had to work hard to get my numbers above the “you should really consider taking yourself to the emergency room” line.

Despite the allergies, being back to our “normal” routine feels like taking a deep breath.  The list of things I’ve “put off tending to” is long, but doable.  Orion and I went to the movies this weekend (so I could avoid making dinner as this theater comes with a menu.) which was fun for both of us.

Dinner and a movie.  We saw Pitch Perfect 2

Dinner and a movie. We saw Pitch Perfect 2

Now it’s Monday.  Rather than grumble I’ll be grateful for a new week to start.  I’ll be grateful for the summer weather and flowers that are pretty even through the window.  I’ll be grateful that my family is all where they belong and doing well. And I’ll remember to breathe.

Open Heart

A long slow drip and a 3 hour ambulance ride to the heart hospital.

A long slow drip and a 3 hour ambulance ride to the heart hospital.

Those of you who are also friends on Facebook are aware that my Dad had a heart attack last week.  (Drove himself and my Mom to the hospital!)   Monday’s blog is coming our early because tomorrow at 11am he is scheduled for open heart surgery.  They are going to replace a valve in his heart with a pig valve.  (We’ve already started the teasing.)

It’s been almost 20 years since my Dad’s last heart attack.  He walks 45 min every day.  He watches his diet carefully.  The angiogram report was better this time than it was 20 years ago!  No one saw this coming.

He’s in good spirits, cracking jokes with the staff and generally causing trouble.  When they met the cardiologist asked about my Dad’s medical background.  Dad told him he’d worked as a psychiatric social worker years ago.  The cardiologist quipped maybe they’d met back then.  Dad, always quick with a straight line responded, “I don’t like to discuss my failures.”

Dad out enjoying the hospital balcony.  I spent a lot of post-surgery time here myself last July!

Dad out enjoying the hospital balcony. I spent a lot of post-surgery time here myself last July!

We’re all looking to get through this crisis but there’s still a ways to go.  Dad’s already planning to use this as his excuse to finally get an ultra-light canoe.  Thoughts and prayers are welcome, not only for Monday’s surgery but for the typically lengthy recovery.  (And for the sanity of those of us who are going to have to find ways around the lifting, driving and (as Dad is very pleased to tell you) vacuuming that he won’t be doing for awhile.)

Anniversary

Throwback selfie

Throwback selfie

I was thinking this month was my 3 year blogging anniversary.  I actually started blogging in 2011!  Typical of me.

My “history” has never been strong on the numbers.  I often don’t even know how old I am.  (I’m not willing to do the math.)  My children keep track, and I’ll ask them if I need a number.  Orion is happy to tell anybody how old I am.  Not sure I appreciate that as much as I could.

I was 23 for 3 years.  Really, it was a number I could remember and an age I believed in.  I even had an argument with my ex about it.  I was filling out a form, or he was, and needed my age – 23.  We went back and forth at some volume in public.  He finally turned to me calmly and said, “Which one of us knows how old we are?”  ooops.

Blogging is getting harder to do.  I am not looking forward to writing the way I was at the beginning.  I often find myself struggling for a topic.  I don’t think I’m ready to give it up, but in this next year I may be more willing to take an occasional break.  Maybe not.  I’ve been surprised before.

Readers have come and gone.  Not many of you comment, and so sometimes I wonder if I’m making sense.  On the other hand I continue to get more likes and followers.  I’m really grateful for my readers.  It’s been delightful getting to know those of you who take the time to write little notes.  It’s been encouraging to see small shifts in readership.

Blogging has been part of my daily practice routine.  Writing it requires being aware of what is happening in my life.  It requires being willing to step back and refine those moments, magical and mundane, into words.  It requires being challenged to open up and share my actual thoughts and feelings.  It requires being vulnerable and present.

I hope that I have, at least occasionally, succeeded.

Thank you for reading!

Too Much

At the lake with my parents

At the lake with my parents

It’s easy to idealize the simple small town life most of us only know from books and old TV shows.  4th of July in Mayberry RFD, or with the Gilmore Girls isn’t really a fair expectation.  Still, this year visiting “up north” with my parents it seemed very much like that kind of holiday.

Karina and Minnie waiting for the parade.  Not entirely without internet access….

Karina and Minnie waiting for the parade. Not entirely without internet access….

My parents don’t have an internet connection, which limits the amount of media available.  We still have the smart phones, and Orion listens to his playlist on his computer, but it’s less appealing to be plugged in.  They’ve lived up here in these small towns for almost 20 years and so everywhere they go someone stops to say hi!  There are things to do and people to meet that also discourage electronic connection.

Piquot Lakes High School Marching Band.  The director is my sister's co-worker.

Piquot Lakes High School Marching Band. The director is my sister’s co-worker.

The complaints of the weekend have been, “The ice cream cone was too big.”  “The fish (fresh out of the fryer) is too hot.”  “There’s too much sunshine and fresh air.”  We found ourselves taking daily naps, not typical for me, just because the weather was so perfect.

A classic.  That's Elsa from Frozen being pulled behind a tractor.  Apparently if you stop by the store you can get an ice cream and shake her hand.

A classic. That’s Elsa from Frozen being pulled behind a tractor. Apparently if you stop by the store you can get an ice cream and shake her hand.

We did all the things, but it never felt like we packed too much into a day.  We went to one of the small town parades.  Homemade floats and the high school marching band had all the nostalgia of one of those TV shows.  We went to see fireworks in the “big city”, Brainerd.  They do a fabulous job and the location is set up so you feel like you are surrounded by the lights and they are right there in front of you.

In Northern Minnesota you WILL visit Paul Bunyon and Babe the Blue Ox.

In Northern Minnesota you WILL visit Paul Bunyon and Babe the Blue Ox.

We also took an afternoon to go down to the lake.  We all got into canoes – even Orion.  It’s been years since I’ve done that, but the muscle memory is still there.  Karina and I took Minnie out with us.  The dog was not sure about that and her roaming around in the canoe was a little unsettling but eventually we worked it out.  The lake was calm, the breeze was cool, another perfect day.

Dad showing off his affinity for local wildlife.  At least it wasn't the bear!

Dad showing off his affinity for local wildlife. At least it wasn’t the bear!

We went swimming in the lake.  Karina and my Dad caught the fish that came out of the fryer “too hot”.  The ice cream cones may have been too big, but that didn’t stop us from going back another day.  There is a haze up here from the Canadian wildfires.  It makes the sunset bloody and the moon rise red.  I may have taken more regular hits off my inhaler than I would have at home, but with the air moving even that wasn’t problematic.

Wished I had better than my phone.  The fireworks were truly spectacular!

Wished I had better than my phone. The fireworks were truly spectacular!

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It’s definitely time to be back home, back in the normal routine.  There can be too much of a good thing.  With a little distance and a little nostalgia of my own I’ll appreciate having this weekend vacation even more.

Happy Birthday Gilda

Outdoor space at Gilda's Club Twin Cities

Outdoor space at Gilda’s Club Twin Cities

What a difference a year makes!  Last year at this time I was just starting out as a volunteer at the newly opened Gilda’s Club Twin Cities.  I was blogging about my to-do list as I prepared for surgery.

This is where the Gilda Greeters sit welcoming folks into the clubhouse.  It's a perfect volunteer spot for me!

This is where the Gilda Greeters sit welcoming folks into the clubhouse. It’s a perfect volunteer spot for me!

Gilda’s Club, dedicated to the memory of Gilda Radner, is a welcoming community of support for anyone living with cancer, along with their families and friends.  It’s a place where everyone is welcome, where no one faces cancer alone.

This year when we went to the Gilda’s Club Friends and Family Birthday celebration I participated in most of the events.  Orion and I met some new friends, visited with old friends and enjoyed the Clubhouse atmosphere.  I spent much of the day on my feet, and didn’t think anything of it.

Our "Gilda Fairy" maintains the fairy garden where members can send notes to those who have passed.

Our “Gilda Fairy” maintains the fairy garden where members can send notes to those who have passed.

 

The Clubhouse is really settling into itself.  The gardens continue to expand, making lovely healing and meditative spots to just sit and enjoy the sunshine.  There is the fairy garden, the new waterfall and picnic area (the first photo was taken there) and the healing fountain and gardens.

Orion at the healing fountain with the gardens behind

Orion at the healing fountain with the gardens behind

Last year the healing fountain was dedicated and Orion and I made stones for people we knew who had dealt with cancer.  He made one for my Mom and I made some for friends I’ve lost to this pervasive disease.  This year, unfortunately, there were more stones.  Orion made one for me!

Our helpers in the kitchen often bring family along.

Our helpers in the kitchen often bring family along.

Inside the kitchen is often in use for classes or just the staff throwing something together for anyone who drops in.  I decorated cupcakes and made Orion eat one, poor thing.  I’ve attended several events in the kitchen this past year.  (What can I say, if there’s food I’m more likely to show up – even now!)

Orion did this one by himself.

Orion did this one by himself.

The Expressive Arts Studio often displays projects members have created.  That’s where we colored our stones for this year.  It’s a great place to work out feelings through art.  I’ve taken the Homemade Card Making class and had a lot of fun.

We were the first ones to arrive at drumming

We were the first ones to arrive at drumming

There was a lot of vibrational healing going on.  We got to do a gong meditation in the Mind Body Studio.    Orion and I also did some drumming in the Community Room.  He’s pretty excited to show off his new rhythms the next time he gets to a drumming circle.

We participated in some short improvisation workshops put on by the folks from Brave New Workshop. Jenni Lilledahl, one of the owners of Brave New Workshop is also one of the founders of Gilda’s Club Twin Cities.  It’s great to have their support.  The workshops were a lot of fun.

Here we are in 2014

Here we are in 2014

The biggest change though is when I compare the family portrait Orion and I took last year to the one we took this year.  My daughter was talking to old friends, catching up.  When they asked about me she told them I was genuinely happy.  Maybe I am.  I’m certainly grateful that so much has changed.

and here we are this year.  What a difference a year makes!

and here we are this year. What a difference a year makes!

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I captioned last years blog with our "photo booth" pictures.  These year we got a little sillier

I captioned last years blog with our “photo booth” pictures. These year we got a little sillier

 

 

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