Sunday, December 2, 2018

Shine a Little Love

Hello Darlings,

About 2 weeks ago I had a birthday.

I am now 54 years old.

And today marks 2 years to the day since I was released from the hospital after my hysterectomy to remove some of the cancer (she couldn't get it all...those pesky lymph nodes).

I used to loathe my birthday but now I am more grateful than ever to have one.

Two years ago when I was diagnosed I wasn't sure I would even see this birthday so I welcome it and all that comes with it.

And for the first time in 2 years I was not on pain killers or recovering from surgery on my birthday.

I got to celebrate that I AM ALIVE.

And for the first time since I was diagnosed I get to dream about the possibility of a future.

I can make plans.

I can look ahead.

No, I'm not cured.

Not even close.

But right now my disease doesn't seem to be active so I'll take it for what it is and celebrate that RIGHT NOW I don't seem to have active cancer in my body.

My scan in January will tell us more and if it's clear it will be another step forward.

I've had a lot of birthdays...

and I want a lot more.

I've learned so much over these last 2 years...

I've learned I am stronger than I ever thought I would be.

I've learned I can hear terrifying things about my body and I can look my doctor in the eye and say "ok, so what are we gonna do about it" and I have faced what they have asked me to do.

I've cried so many tears...and I am glad to say I have cried as many tears of gratitude as I have cried tears of fear and anger.

I've learned that being pissed off that I have cancer does nothing to get rid of my cancer but it does help me to fight harder.

I've learned that those nights that I am alone (which is every night) in my bed, scared out of my mind, my thoughts racing and fear coursing through my body that I can still find a way to wake up in the morning and face another day.

I've had a lot of people tell me how brave and strong I am.

My answer to that is this:

ANYONE can be as brave and strong as I fact braver and stronger...because when you have no choice but to face up to what God has put before you then you have no choice--you face up to what God has laid upon you.

I've had a lot of people say very kind and amazing things to me...things I feel I don't deserve and things I hope I honestly live up to.

I PROMISE you that if you had to face what I have been faced with YOU WOULD BE JUST AS STRONG.

Because you aren't given a choice.

So you do it.

No one gets asked "do you want to have cancer?"

you just get it.

or you don't.

but you don't get a choice in it.

Pretty sure no one would say "yeah! Bring on the cancer..."

And thank goodness we can't see it coming because if we could I'm pretty sure we would all say "nope...I don't want to do that..."

(so yeah don't smoke...and eat healthy...and get your checkups...)

I've looked back at my life and tried to see if something I have done led to this and the closest thing I can come up with is maybe because I had HPV at one time maybe that had something to do with it. (no, I don't have research supporting's just my guess).

I know I don't have cancer because I was mean to my sisters...or jealous of a friend...or once cheated at cards...

God doesn't give out cancer as a punishment for wrong doing (or else all the drug dealers and murderers would be dying of cancer).

Some of us just get it.

Lately I have tried to figure out that if I manage to stay in the state of NED (no evidence of disease) how I might ever try to make a man comfortable with loving a woman who has been through what I have been through.

That is if I ever MEET a man

and actually have a date...

because the last date I had was 7 years ago...

but IF I did, how do I present myself.

For I am now not only flawed with the flaws I have (talking too much, being over emotional, quick tempered, a somewhat frustrating woman to deal with...and then there is all the unicorn nonsense) but now I have the very real flaw of a Stage 4 cancer.

And I have decided to look at myself like the Japanese look at object they consider beautiful.

The concept is called Wabi-Sabi:

a way of living that focuses on finding beauty within the imperfections of life and accepting peacefully the natural cycle of growth and decay

I love the thought of being beautiful and yet imperfect...imperfectly beautiful...a beauty that is more beautiful because it is not perfect.

I am not a Victoria's Secret model...but I don't need to be...

There is a Japanese art called Kintsugi where a broken piece of pottery is repaired with gold, silver or other words the cracks are filled with precious metal to make it whole again.

Well I have had a whole lot of platinum poured into me thanks to chemo (my chemo infusions are platinum based...cisplatin and carboplatin)

So like a precious vessel that has been cracked open my cancer has now filled me with something precious to repair and improve my esthetic.

Because cancer has caused me to grow in so many ways and to accept myself in ways I never thought I could.

I now see the imperfect as perfect...not because I am perfect but I am now a more perfect version of myself thanks to what I have been through.

My sweet beautiful friend Terrific T has cancer...she's fighting breast cancer (pray for her!) and she posted a lovely story about how glow sticks have to be broken in order to shine.

Something that has to break to be what it is intended to be.

That's how I see myself (and my sweet T)...we have been broken but we now shine.

A glow stick is just a plastic stick with some stuff inside it until it is cracked...but once you crack it the chemicals release and mix and the stick shines

and it glows

and it can light up everything around it

and you can see it from a distance.

So my breaks and cracks and flaws and empty spaces I now see as beauty.

My scars are a roadmap to what I have experienced.

They tell a story.

You can see the scars from my breast augmentation and tummy tuck---something I did to make myself feel better about myself and to put the very fat girl away for good.

And my long scar down my middle where the parts that provided me with children were removed along with cancer...

and the scars on my belly from the laparoscopic tools that were used to repair my hernia and to remove my gallbladder...

and the scar on my back from my spinal fusion...

and next spring there will be a scar on my right leg from a knee repair.

My skin is not smooth and unlined...there are lines on my face from years on this earth.

I am a wondrous and wonderful story of life, pain, illness, struggle, and joy...

And I will shine....

and the cracks in me will light up...

Inspiration Song: "Shine a Little Love" by ELO...because you all shine a little love on my life and let me see...

Bye Darlings...we are not flawed...we are wonderfully made...we are perfectly imperfect and that is beautiful...

Monday, October 29, 2018

God is a DJ

Hello Darlings

(Prepare for some cussing here...that's just how I am rolling today...hope I don't offend you...
oh and pour yourself a drink...this may take a while)

It's been a while...I've been busy trying to conquer El Diablo all the while costuming a play...

So let's talk about what is going on.

You see about 2 years ago right about now (almost exactly right now) I told my doctor that I was bleeding, and in pain, and I felt awful...

and because she's the best gyno in the world she looked deeper...

she ran a test...

She wasn't going to just let an ultrasound tell her what was wrong...she decided to run a blood test that CAN (but not always) indicate if there is cancer present.

And that blood test came back with a sky high number.

you all know the story by now...

more tests followed...
a biopsy followed...
pathology discovered cancer...
I had a hysterectomy...


Because you see I am a UNICORN


Because I have a cancer that barely ever gets cured...and most women die...

and I had Stage 4

but because I am a magical unicorn and so badass I'm gonna beat this thing...

and yes, Unicorns can be BADASS...

Because you have to be badass because no one believes you are real

and you have a damn horn in your forehead

and you are basically made of glitter and sparkle

So yeah...I'm a badass...a sparkly badass that is a unicorn as a human.



yes, you read that right...


that's right people---I had a scan and the scan is CLEAR

This is where you jump up and down...burst into tears...scream with joy and DANCE YOUR ASS OFF....

This is where you hit your knees and thank God for answered prayers...



Now we do need to simmer down for a minute because we have been here before with me...

Back in January I had a good scan

And El Diablo likes to go on vacation every once in a while so he might just be in the Bahamas right now but for today...he is gone...

he is no mas...

for today...

Which in reality means that he could come back from vacay all tanned and happy and ready to make my life miserable again but frankly he isn't getting the welcome mat in my body and I am no Airbnb so he can't visit here anymore...

I had a scan last week...

and I was horribly nervous...

and as I sat in the waiting room waiting for them to take me bet I met two lovely ladies in their 70's who were suffering from their own ailments...

one was having the same back issue I was had last spring...

the other told me she has had a bullet in her spine for the last 22 years...

I sat there and thanked God for my relative health and the fact that I was blessed to have doctors and treatments..

it's all relative people...

I may have cancer but I remember the horrendous pain my spine caused me and I just wanted to take it all away from that sweet lady...

and I might have cancer but I am not walking around with a bullet in my spine...

God has a way of making you remember your place in this world.

So I had a scan but Dr. Angel was having a super busy day and so I could not pester him to read my scan....but on Thursday he was able to take a look at it and so I dropped by to mess up his day and make him do what he does best---look at the blobs on his big computer screen and tell me what he sees.

That man lives up to his name...he is truly and Angel and I'm beyond blessed he takes care of me and puts up with all my nonsense.

I had read the radiology report but frankly I might as well have been reading Chinese because it was a lot of big doctor words that I couldn't understand but I thought it sounded like things were good.

But I really needed him to tell me in plain English (with his beautiful Puerto Rican accent) that the scan didn't show cancer.

HeavenlyHeather waited with me until he had a free moment (the man is scheduled down to the second but somehow he manages to carve out some "unicorn madness time" for me) and kept me calm with fizzy water and hugs...

and then WonderfulKim the nurse came to get me and she was SMILING...and she said  he said "hurry up and go get her!"

So I walked in and there was that amazing man smiling broader than I have ever seen him smile and he was HAPPY

And let me tell you when one of your oncologists is happy...

well there is usually a damn good reason for it.

And I got the biggest happiest hug...and just looked at his handsome self beaming....

I plopped myself on the floor right next to him (so I would be closer to the ground in case I passed out from fear, joy, or excitement) and said "tell me what you see"

and he said:


honestly I can tell you right now those are the most beautiful words in the world to hear...

I scrambled up to hug him again and hugged Kim and I am pretty sure I might have danced a little...

he warned me that this might not be permanent and that only time would tell what we had ahead of us but for that day at that moment


So yeah...I am basically a unicorn because with the help of Dr. Rockstar and Dr. Angel we made El Diablo do a vanishing act.

In the words of Harry Potter:


I still wanted to wait until today to hear it again from Dr. Rockstar...

and she walked in the room laughing and saying "so you blew my surprise and scooped me by going downstairs and having him look at your scan!"

yeah...i ruined her surprise but frankly I needed to be able to sleep and so the only option was to take advantage of the fact that Dr Angel will put up with my nonsense and read scans for me.

So Dr. Rockstar was super happy.

Because I told her back in May that I was gonna beat El Diablo and that I was gonna make her famous for fixing me.

She told me today she would rather I be well than her be famous but I think we both are gonna get some kudos for vanquishing He Who Would Not be Vanquished...

so now I still have a bunch of chemo ahead of me...

and tomorrow I once again get to be a vampire and have to have transfusions (appropriate for the day before Halloween...I'm temped to dress as a vampiress....)

and I have to be closely watched...

but honestly right now I think I have this thing beat...I think I am gonna do what no one thought was possible...

I'm gonna be the one that gets to say "I beat cancer"...

Jesus said:

"Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you."
Matthew 17:20

I have faith greater than a mustard seed...and I said to that mountain "move" and that mountain MOVED...

I've had moments where my faith has been shaken (but not stirred...) and I have fallen on my knees and begged God for mercy and His love and to carry me because I could not walk...

In the past two years I have endured chemotherapy, radiation, hernia surgery, a damaged spine and surgery to repair...

I have had moments where I was so weary of what I was enduring that I literally felt as if I could not be tested or pushed any more...

but because of faith and prayers from all of you I managed to get up and keep going...

I've had pain and gotten through it...

I've had moments where I have felt so alone that it felt like I was cloaked in darkness....but I kept looking for the light...

Because when God gives you a test...a test you can't study sharpen your pencil and get out your calculator and you TAKE THAT DAMN TEST and just do it...

Because God knows you can handle it and so you take that test and ACE it...

Life is never easy...

I've had 2 years of not easy.

I've had 2 years of facing hell and I have had moments where I was afraid I might die.

I've had time where I mourned that I didn't have someone to love me through the hard parts...when I was crying myself to sleep and needed arms to hold me...

I've had moments where it has felt so damn unfair that I had to do all of this...

And I have cried out to God "why me?"

But through it all I have had the love and support of my Aunt Jane and my students and the teachers and staff at school...and all of you...

I know that I may not have a man to love and hold me when times are hard but I feel all of you surrounding me and keeping me filled with hope and love.

I've had 2 years of facing death...but I prefer to think of it as reaffirming my LIFE.

My priorities with some things are different now.

I say "yes" more...

I seek to explore, relate, expand...

I don't want to miss out on anything...

I want my life to be filled with rainbows and glitter and I'm not ashamed of it.

Because I have survived for 2 years and I plan to survive for so many more.

God asked me to be a warrior.

So I put on armor.

God asked me to be brave.

So I smiled when I was scared.

God asked me to endure so much pain.

So I powered through.

God asked me to walk a path of broken glass and fire.

So I put on my sequin shoes and I RAN ON THAT DAMN PATH.

God asked me to move forward when I couldn't see where I was going.

So I found a light inside myself and used it to see my way.

God asked me to give up some things.

So I gave them I could make space for other things.

God asked me to climb a mountain.

So I found Everest and started climbing.

God asked me to do more than I ever imagined I could.

So I said "yeah...let's do this"

God asked me to have faith.

And I did.

Life does not always go as planned.

But I am going to make plans.

Because I can't sit around and wait for more bad things to happen.

Because I have faith that THIS TIME I'm going to be well.

Doctors can't ever say "you have won" because no one but God knows if we have.

But for now...for now...

A Rockstar and an Angel have told their Unicorn that she can dance.

And so I am dancing...

to the words of Pink:



And God wants you to shake your ass...

Get on the dancefloor people...we have some shaking to do...

Inspiration Song: "God is a DJ" by Pink...because life is a dancefloor and I'm going to dance...and the DJ is pretty incredible...

Bye darlings....more soon I promise...but for now...get on the dancefloor and let love be the rhythm...and I love you all...

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Bad Blood

Hello Darlings...



Today's bit of fun was 2 blood transfusions...


once again I got to feel like an escapee from a "Twilight" novel (if you don't know what Twilight is then you didn't have a teenage daughter in the mid 2000' was a teen literature book about vampire romance...not kidding...just writing that explanation made my head want to explode).

So although I was not TECHNICALLY a vampire (the blood was given to me in my port so thankfully I was not in full-on Dracula mode) I did get two bags of O positive....

And God bless the beautiful people who donated the blood so I can get over my severe anemia.

But I am sorta getting ahead of myself...

I need to backtrack some and give you a fuller picture of what is going on with your unicorn cancer queen here.

And the road will be a bit bumpy because Monday was....well I'll get to it...

Let's rewind to Thursday.

Thursday I had a CT scan.

I was scared to death...that scan was gonna reveal if all of this chemo is working or not.

And then I was gonna have to wait until Monday when I saw Dr. Rockstar to hear all about it...

or did I....


downstairs in that very building where the scan took place was my favorite doctor...
who just happens to be a radiology oncologist...
and who I knew was in the building....
and he knows how to read a scan better than anyone...
and I know he puts up with a lot of my nonsense...

and I kinda figured if I flipped my hair and batted my green eyes and begged please (and brought him his favorite coffee) that maybe he would take pity on me and look at my scan.

So I marched to Starbucks and grabbed a coffee and headed to Dr. Angel's office armed with blonde roast coffee and a blonde woman's determination that he could put my mind at ease...

bless the poor man's heart but it had been a day for him (his first without his trusted amazing PA Sweet Jessica) but he still found some time for me and my nonsense and we settled into his office to "look at the blobs" as I say.

I told him I was about to spend the weekend with some of my dearest best girls and we needed a reason to drink frose.

Bless him he didn't know what frose was but I told him it was a drink girls really really like and that he didn't need to know more about it and that we also had some bubbly (that he understood)....we needed a celebration....

He pulls up scans and starts showing me all the scary blobs and I am just kneeling beside his chair clutching wildly at his arm asking:

"IS THAT GOOD?!?!?!"

(by the way he offered me a chair but at that moment I wanted to see that screen as well as I could and I honestly was on my knees praying)

When it was all said and done he said some of the lymph glands were shrinking and that things looked to be improving.

So in other words...


ok we need to dance again...

This is not a drill...

this is a "go" people....

get your asses up and start doing a praise dance....

hell twerk if you want...

do an interpretive dance...

make jazz hands...

spirit fingers....

do a hula....

pas de deux...

do the Cotton Eyed Joe....

Cha Cha Slide...



because that is what I did....

I hugged that precious man (who honestly did not have to read the scans of an overly anxious woman but I think I have made myself into enough of a pest that he just does my bidding to keep me from running amok in the Medical Center).

I told his resident (or whoever the guy was that was in the office with us) that I am basically that kid that gets into an elevator with you and smashes his hand onto ALL the buttons---I am the trouble maker.

The resident just looked confused...bless his heart he is gonna need a seat belt to deal with me...

I should come with a warning label.

So once I was assured that things seemed to be improving (and warned that he was just giving it a glance and needed more time to see it and the report) I let him get back to the business of saving lives with radiation and I headed to GOTT'S house to assure him that 1) I wasn't gonna die and 2) that if he can make Mary Poppins fly (for our musical) I can make her look amazing doing it...

Then I headed off for a girl's weekend with some women I have known since we needed Clearasil and had perfect "wings" in our hair and had a mighty good time just resting...

because I was tired...

because of my bad blood...

In all my excitement of "these scans look pretty good" I managed to distract myself from the fact that just walking to my car got me tired.

So I rested and the girls kept me going and we had a dandy time.

it was just what I needed.

My hemoglobin had dived to under "8" (normal is 12-16...10 is low for a cancer patient)

(Note to all: self care includes spending time with people who lift your heart...I've had that two weekends in a row...and this weekend my TonyFab is coming to town so I'm spending my time with humans who carry me when I can't carry myself)

Monday I went to get chemo #7 and found out that Dr. Rockstar was in Italy (with her twins God bless her!) and so I got to see her fabulous PA Sweet Jasmin and she delivered the news that the report on my scan revealed some reduction in the size of some lymph glands and others were "stable" and no new growth had started.

(you may continue to dance....)


Not as good as "no evidence of disease" (NED) but it appears that my boyfriend NED is playing coy with me and making me wait on him.

That's ok...absence makes the heart grow fonder so it will be all the sweeter when he comes dancing back into my life.

I also found out that my CA125 level is down to 14.3 which is nearly my baseline (but I didn't learn that until Tuesday)


(dance some more...I think it is time someone breakdances)

But all of that was wrapped up in the fact that my blood levels were low and I am anemic and I had to have transfusions today.

Now one would think that despite this all seemingly pretty good news and having just had two fabulous girls weekends that I would be in a pretty good headspace.

But Monday got me...

and the headspace was...

not too bueno....

I've always been open with y'all here and I am gonna come right out and admit that for a bit of time on Monday I contemplated throwing in the towel.

I told Aunt Jane that I wondered if all this time and money being spent on me was worth it and if I ever really would conquer this disease. If I can really beat it.

And that maybe I should just give it up and let nature and this disease take its course.

And Aunt Jane reminded me that I don't give in easily and I rarely give up.

But for a while, despite the good news, I felt DEFEATED.

You can have all the good things in front of you but still feel like something is off.

And I, for a brief moment, had a lack of faith in myself and what was happening with me.

I laid in that bed in the cancer center and while poison dripped into my body I wondered for a moment if it was all worth it.

or was I just putting off the inevitable...

I felt scared...and alone....and shaken...

Aunt Jane gave me some time to work through it and I looked at the bag of poison hanging above my head and had a chat with myself.

And I said: (in my head)


So I ended my little pity party early and got myself back into a better place.

It's not the first time I have had a crisis of faith about all of this.

I have them a lot.

I just don't talk much about them because it does no good to do so.

or at least I thought so.

but then I realized thanks to the statistics that this blog site keeps that more than 12 of you read my blog.

The last one was read by over 1000 people

(who ARE you people?)

and that maybe there are a few of you out there that are also struggling with whatever demon has hold of your life.

Maybe you are lonely...
or maybe you are depressed...
or ill...
or in a bad relationship...
or have a sick loved one...
or in financial trouble...
or lost your job...
or lost your home...

and maybe it's just that your jeans that fit last week don't fit this week (hey that gets me pretty down in the dumps too so I am not making light of it)

whatever it is that causes you to pause and wonder "what is the point" I'm pretty sure we have all felt that way one way or another.

So I decided to share with you that I, the most positive unicorn in the world, has times when things do not look like a Lisa Frank picture (and if you don't know who Lisa Frank is then you don't have a kid or are a kid born in the 90's or late 80's...Google might make your head explode).

I had a grand pity party for myself.

Which made no sense since I had just been told things were looking up.

But I feel like I am fighting SO HARD to conquer this stuff and IT WON'T GO AWAY.


(sorry for all the shouting....the breakdancers are being loud in the back)

So yeah...for about an hour on Monday I wondered what my purpose was in all of this and if it was all worth it.

I had a crisis of faith.

Wasn't the first time.
Won't be the last.

I tend to get in my own way a lot.

like a lot a lot

Where I just need to push myself aside.

And Monday was one of those days where my faith was being shaken and weirdly I had had sort of good news.

But I think I was feeling (at the time) that it wasn't enough.

I needed MORE.

I wanted MORE positiveness (which I got on Tuesday when I saw the CA125 number).

And I realized that sometimes with cancer things are never enough.

There is never enough time for those who lose their battles.

There is never enough money or insurance for some to even get to fight.

And for me there just sometimes doesn't seem to be enough reassurance that I can and WILL overcome this.

Today as I sit and type this I realize how selfish and foolish it all seems.

I am blessed to have time and to have insurance that pays for my treatments.

But for an hour or so on Monday I felt mighty sorry for myself and felt like giving up.

There I said it.


I felt like yanking out my central line to my port and just walking out and taking my chances.

And I knew my chances were about as good as they would be for me to run across I-10 during rush hour traffic while wearing a blindfold and all the drivers are blindfolded too...

so I stayed in the chemo bed and finished out my sentence with the poison and decided that I needed an attitude adjustment...

but when I got home I realized that there is nothing at all wrong with having a crisis of faith and to wonder if a something is worth fighting for


I can't be perfectly happy and positive all the time.

There are times when it is almost unreasonable to stay positive.

And despite good news I struggled and while I have yet to figure out why I just wanted to lay it all out there for you people and to raise my hand and say:


So my friends there you have it....I am not always a pillar of strength and courage.

And I am so grateful to have all of you around to keep me swimming even when I can''s like you hand me a lifeguard's float thing and I grab it and you pull me to shore.

My Aunt Jane has a way of saving me...and Monday she saved me by reminding me that I am not a girl who gives up.

Once upon a time I was a wee girl and Aunt Jane was a teenager and we were in Hawaii. Jane was watching my sisters and me and I was standing in the surf.

All of a sudden a big wave came and covered me up...Jane ran into the surf to try to find me in the wave and somehow my hand was sticking out.

She grabbed my hand and pulled me to safety.

And on Monday she did the same thing when she told me that it wasn't like me to just throw in the towel.

She let me have my crisis (just like she let me play in the surf) but when the wave came to get me she pulled me out.

I hope all of you who have some sort of crisis of faith or love or direction have someone who grabs your hand and pulls you out of the surf.

Because at some point we are all in the surf and the waves are coming...

and we can run back onto the beach

or we can play in the surf

and as long as we have someone who loves us to watch us as we splash we are safe.

So my beloveds I ask of you to watch out for your friends in the surf...and if they seem to be unsafe please stick your hand in and pull them to safety.

We are human...we have moments when we need someone to grab our hands.

I will need it more than I can say over the next few years.

And I will be honest enough with you to say that there are times I feel the undertow and I can feel the waves pulling me into the darkness and the sand and out to sea...

but I have all of you (and my dearest Aunt Jane) there to grab my hand if I put it out.

And I will stick my hand out when I need to....and Monday I needed to.

So I'm good....

I got my blood...
I got my faith back...
I got a good scan...
I got a good number on my CA125...

and I've got a lot of you rooting for me to come out of the unsafe surf so for a bit I am gonna play on the sand and make drip castles...

and we can all resume our dancing...

So get out there and show me your samba....we can do that on the sand...

Inspiration Song: "Bad Blood" by...NOT Taylor Swift! But by Neil Sedaka with background vocals from Sir Elton John...always been a favorite of mine...

Bye Darlings....I hated to admit that I wanted to give up but I think I owe it to you to know that I am not perfect and I don't always have all the faith I need...and I know some of you feel that way too so you are not alone...and if you need a hand to pull you out of the surf I am here to do it...

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Better Now

Hello Darlings...

So first a little update on El Diablo...

I had Chemo #6 this week.

6 down and who knows how many to go.

(no really...who knows...Dr Rockstar said not to even ask when I would "be done" and Dr. Angel told me we might have to treat my cancer like a chronic disease so---who knows..)

So 6 chemos down and my CA125 numbers are going down too.

From 43 down to 17 ("normal" is 0-35)

Now is the part where you all get up and do a happy dance...

I see you back there twerking like Miley---I approve!
and you there doing the Snoopy dance---respect!
you there being a Beyonce---I see you!
and you doing a full on Praise Dance---I love you!
and you, the shy one who is worried what others will think? I said to DANCE DAMMIT...

Those numbers coming down are a GOOD thing so dancing is a must.

Ok dance break over....

take a sip of water and cool down.

So now that I have filled you in on El Diablo I want to talk about Yoga (and other things)...because I am FINALLY back to doing yoga...and yoga is continuing to teach me things.

For me YOGA stands for:

Goals (and)

Because I have learned with yoga (and life) it is a PRACTICE and there is no end game.

In yoga I have a goal to do Half Moon without a block and falling over.

Or tree pose without falling over.

Or dancer...without falling over.

Or eagle...without falling over.

Basically I want to not fall over so much...

A goal is's reachable...I can direct effort toward doing it.

(I can also direct effort into doing crow pose but I'm afraid to balance on my not a goal...yet)

With my yoga practice I aspire to maybe one day be a yoga teacher.

It's just a thought I have and much much more practice and work needs to happen before I ever give it any serious thought or even attempt to take any teacher training but for now it's an aspiration. One that will take many goals to achieve before I can.

I can't do half the poses and I fall over anytime I try to balance.

So why aspire to be a yoga teacher?

Because when I am in a practice it's so much more than just moving my's moving my soul.

And I want to help others make their souls move and dance.

The other day my beautiful JohnJohn had us make magic on the mats...not just by our flow but by actually saying the word "magic"...and it was magical...

As I reached my arms up and said "magic" I felt it...because my soul was moving as my body moved.

My yoga teachers help me set intentions---small goals and ideals on which to focus my practice. I try to hold that intention in my heart as I struggle through class and to hold poses. I try to use each practice as a way to move my day and my life forward.

I want to be in a room full of beautiful souls and help them move and dance to the music as their souls move and dance within themselves...and maybe help them learn something about themselves and how to share breath, space, and love...

Because being a yoga teacher is not just about teaching someone how to do a warrior's about teaching someone how to be a warrior themself.

I love teaching...I wish I had studied to become a teacher.  So I do the next best thing and I work with the very best teacher I know (GOTT...and yes he is the best teacher I know...he teaches those kids way more than just how to act).

I try to teach with my Instagram when I cook something and share a recipe.

And I try to teach with my blog.

I try to find words to inspire, to share love, to make magic...

Before I got sick I would never have imagined myself ever thinking or considering that one day I might want to teach yoga.

I'm terrible at it...(yoga that is)

but being sick has taught me that perfection is not what's more about the heart than what the body can do.

I am amazed I can even practice.

Every day when I was radiated I tried to spin or do yoga.

My Dr. Angel thought I was crazy.

But he came to realize that what I needed was not rest as much as I needed to MOVE.

I needed to not feel sick.

and I still need to feel that way.

On Monday I had to say goodbye to my favorite Physician's Assistant.

Lovely Jessica is moving to another city where her hubby has a new job. She is Dr. Angel's PA and she has been my rock through my journey with him. And I know she is his rock too.

I was grateful to have a few minutes with her to reflect on what she had done for me and to thank her for it...and to tell her to warn the next PA that I was a handful and that Dr. Angel had a hot mess of a patient (that would be me).

She told me she was always surprised at what I did despite my illness.

My hemoglobin is at an "8" (normal is 12-16 although 10 is the low for a cancer patient)

She told me most people at an 8 stayed in bed.

And I go to spin and yoga.

Because my goal is to keep moving.

And my aspiration is to live like I am not sick.

And as long as I keep moving I will not feel sick.

(plus these days the chemo is fed with a big desire for chocolate chip cookies or cheese so I have no choice but to move)

I'm not going to let a pesky little thing like a low hemoglobin count keep me from pedaling my spin bike or flowing on my mat.

Because to give in and just get in bed is to give up.

And giving up is NOT a goal or aspiration.

So I am pretty sure that no matter where Lovely Jessica ends up she will remember the unicorn hot mess patient she had when she worked with Dr. Angel and I am pretty sure she will use the memory of me to help her help other patients to not feel so sick.

Cancer can be a business of dying or living.

I know because when I was first told I was sick I decided very quickly that there was 2 ways I could chose to go on.

I could choose to be a dying person.

Or I could choose to be a living one.

I chose LIFE.

I chose to live.

And I am not dying.

It's not a goal or aspiration of mine.

My goal is to live each day fully.

My aspiration is to live my life in such a way as to bring honor to my Lord, to inspire others, to show love and to hopefully share my life with a man who loves me.

The "man who loves me" is not a goal because right now I am not doing anything active to make that happen. I want it but I'm not at a place where I am ready to "swipe right" on any dating apps. So for now it is an aspiration and once my beloved doctors tell me how awesome I am doing maybe then I'll be ready for someone to invite me to share a bottle of wine.

So today is my "icky" day...the one where I am tired and my appetite and tummy are funky and I feel like I am recovering from the flu.

So I live today as it is.

I accept that it is a day I will not be active, will not have energy and will take 2-3 naps during the day.

And that's ok...because my goal for today is to just get through it.

And I aspire to not have many more days like this but as long as I have chemo there will be.

But tomorrow will be "normal" again.

And my goal is to do some yoga, hit up the grocery store, and to have dinner with friends.

And I aspire to have a weekend filled with fun, friends, laughter, yoga, a movie, some wine, my "Sunday Service Spin" with my beloved E,  and to not live like a cancer patient.

Life is never 100% easy.

Some people will glide through life with what appears to be no issues but I honestly don't believe anyone doesn't have a trial of some sort in life.

Others get a full plate of things to overcome (hello...yes, that is me...but guess what...I think it's just a salad plate of stuff and not a whole dinner plate).

And each day our goal should be to squeeze the life out of every minute of our day.

I want to close my eyes each night feeling like I did some good in this world.

Because I don't know if I have a year or many yearS left in this life (I'm a betting woman so I am going for yearS) but whatever time God is giving me here I aspire to be His instrument and end each day being a better human than I was the day before.

And my goal is to teach someone something with the words I say here...

And I'm going to live each day like a yoga practice:

I start each morning with a gentle stretch---getting up, getting coffee and breakfast and starting my day with intention to move through the day with love and light

and then I warm up and so some Sun A's---the usual things we do daily to make our lives bills, return calls and emails, go to work...

at some point I get to be in warrior stance---I'll do something that makes me feel strong, sexy and powerful like working out or trying something new...

and then I will hit a balancing pose---I will likely fall over doing something I do or mess up in some way but life is messy and yoga is messy and we all survive even when we fall over.

and at another point I will seek refuge in child's pose and give in to letting something go...

And then I will stretch some more---cook my dinner or maybe meet up with friends

And then Savassanah---rest....where I settle in and let the day go and let my body prepare for the next day.

In between there is a lot of breath, poses, falling over, gripping blocks....and there is sweat, and sometimes tears, and much love...

Life is like a yoga class to me...

I start and end in my bed and there is a whole lot of moving in between.

And I am grateful for the moving...

and for the falling over...

and for the breath....

because I am getting to set goals and aspire to do things...

and the sweaty mess that I am at the end of it is happy...

Inspiration Song: "Better Now" by Post Malone. My favorite song to spin to these days and one that makes me realize that despite cancer I am better now than I was before cancer.

Bye better now....and set your goals and aspirations and let it be messy while you get there...I'm a hot mess and I know it...but I am a grateful hot mess...

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Don't Rain on my Parade

Hello Darlings

On July 4th I had a bit of an adventure...

While Houston flooded I got stranded...

I literally sat parked on the Interstate for 3.5 hours (give or take...)

But I am getting ahead of myself.

I had a bike booked at Revolution for the 10:30 spin class with #myboys KuteKris and KuteJohn and I was determined I was going to pre-game the 4th of July party I was attending later by working off the calories ahead of time.

Because of corn dip.

Because of TotallyAwesomeTodd's corn dip.

Because it is my drug of choice.

Dear Todd's Corn Dip,
I love you
Let's be a couple
Fritos will be included in our love triangle
Because you are delicious
Anice (who waits all year to love you)

Todd and I have a deal: I make queso (if you are very nice to me I will teach you my ways...and yes it is still Velveeta) and he makes corn dip.

I stand there and shovel in all the corn dip I can with Fritos.

I strategically place myself closest to the corn dip and Frito after Frito will be loaded with corn dip and zoomed into my mouth.

And then I eat a hot dog...and then I return to my love the corn dip.

It's witchcraft...

So I knew there would be hot dogs, and desserts (KuteKari made a lemon pound cake...more on that later), and THE CORN DIP. Oh and Marvelous Megan made the most extraordinarily perfect deviled eggs I have ever had.

I don't even eat my own queso...I save it all for the corn dip.

So Wednesday when the rain started to fall I thought about cancelling my bike and just staying home.


So I got dressed for spin in my blue tank and my red, white, and blue headband...

And as I was dressing warning messages began to invade my head space:

Danger Will Robinson! Don't go out!!!!

It's Raining (sadly not raining men) and it might flood

The news says "possible street flooding"

You might not get back into the neighborhood!

But I got dressed anyway.

And as I got in my car and pulled out of my driveway the warning messages kept invading my brain.

And as I drove out of my neighborhood EVERY INSTINCT told me to turn around.

But alas I didn't...

Because #corndip

So I make it as far as 59 and I am approaching my exit and I see a line of cars in the exit lane...and as I pass over Buffalo Speedway I see cars are exiting the service road and going into the gas station parking lot...and as I look at the feeder road I see that it looks more like a lake than a street.

And I look at the time and I see no cars are actually exiting the exit.

Time for me to exit my plan of going to spin.

My heart sinks as I realize I will miss my boys and because #corndip the diet will be a wreck.

I call to cancel my bike and try to figure out what I will do next.

Because that lake on the street is getting bigger...

So I call someone I know will help me and I know she lives close and can see what is going on...

HeavenlyHeather to the rescue (I shall refer to her as HH for the rest of this blog for typing ease).

HH answers her phone and I tell her my dilemma...

and she looks out her window and tells me NOT to exit the freeway because I am in Beyonce the 4 Runner and not an ark or boat...

So then we begin to try to figure out where and how I can turn around and get back to the west side of town safely.

Because I am #sodamnsmart I decide that the PERFECT route is to go to I-45 and swing around downtown on the freeway and then get on I-10 because it's the BEST way to go and NEVER floods

(except that it gets flooded out EVERY SINGLE TIME IT RAINS ONE RAINDROP)

yeah...I-10 is the way to go...

it's an Interstate...

I'll be fine...

Danger Will Robinson!

But I keep on with my plan...

And I get onto 10 and hit some traffic and we slow to a crawl and then pretty much stop.

I'm still on the phone with HH who is watching the news so she can give me updates...

So we stop...the whole interstate shuts down...

I see a chance to escape but the water is rising and I worry it will be too much for my little SUV.

I see a Mustang GT that was trying to get up the off ramp but is stranded and flooded out. (had a dealer window sticker so someone must have been having a hell of a test drive)

I decide to take my chances with the freeway.

Bad call...

HH tells me that up ahead of me the freeway is under water and there is a Toyota basically floating around in it and that some fool in a $70,000 truck decided that he was gonna testosterone his way though (he made clue about the Toyota).

I see no cars coming in the opposite direction so I surmise that the other side is also flooded and shut down.

I tell HH that there is a Blue Bell Ice Cream truck next to me and I might have to break in...but alas I see it is locked (duh) and besides I must save my calories for the crack...I mean #corndip.

So the Blue Bell truck was safe from my larceny but as time wore on I did wonder what I had in my car that could pick a lock. We weren't going anywhere and I was getting hungry.

 Then the thought strikes me I might need to go potty.

Uh oh...

I have had pelvic telling how strong that bladder is but this would be a good test.

I turn off my engine (we are not moving), I tell HH that I will call her or text her (yes, it was safe to text---WE WEREN'T MOVING) and I look around for the "what if I have to pee" provisions...

Towel for privacy

But mercifully I did not have to go (and yay my bladder held for the whole ordeal---Dr Angel promised me he would preserve my organs and he was right...and did a great job that's why he is my Angel and the best at what he does)

And I also figured the beach towel would come in handy if I did decide to walk about and visit my neighboring cars and trucks. It was still raining but not heavily. I might have needed to visit the Blue Bell man...and my friend Super Stephanie was just ahead of me so I considered messaging her and trying to find her in the sea of non-moving cars...

(and I can now tell you that Beyonce the 4 Runner will never get on the road again without at least one beach towel in her because I hate to be wet)

So what does one do to amuse oneself while parked on the Interstate?

Social Media of course!

I wanted ERRRRRBODY to know that I was stuck so since I was safely parked (as was everyone around me) I posted to Insta and FB and the sympathy began to roll in.

I had one dear friend offer me her home as refuge with a comfy couch and wine and her company....MarvelousMaddy I love you....

At some point I got to crawl forward about the length of two semis which sadly took me out from under the overpass so I just sat there and listened to the rain for a bit, kept checking social media, texted my daughter to let her know where my will was (kidding) but did warn her to get the queso for the party started.

I called GOTTESS to make sure I was still going to get to eat corn, I mean to check to see if the party was still on and told her my plight. She had grand amounts of sympathy for me as did most of my social media friends. And HH kept checking in on me and gave me updates.

(HH is a great wingman...she was great at watching the news and reporting to me as well as keeping me calm)

After about 3 hours I noticed some cars beginning to go UP the on ramp (they were exiting the on ramp...basically going the wrong way) and then we began to inch forward and I began the Battle with the Big Trucks.

I'm in a 4 Runner

And I am surrounded by 18 wheelers

Guess who is gonna win...

(if you said the semis then you don't know me very well)

I couldn't see the cops ahead of me but from what I was seeing to my right someone was directing all the traffic up to a point and turning us around and sending us up that on ramp.  Because there are so many big trucks I figured that they were going to have to use the entire width of the freeway to turn around.

I was firmly planted in the far left desirable lane.

And of course the truck guys want to play "get outta my way little lady" but I am the fairness police and I had cars behind me that needed to get out too so I decided that the "zipper" method was the only fair thing and I wasn't going to let 6 trucks in front of me...we can all take turns.

Sure enough as one guy is trying to cut me off a knight in shining armor appears (a cop) and he motions me to go and tells the truck to wait...

Truck guy was not happy but I do what the cops tell me to do.

So I FINALLY got turned around after sitting in the parking lot that was once I-10 for about 3.5 hours.

I got off the freeway and found another route home (that was not flooded) and called HH back so I could tell her I got free and we laughed at the bravery of the woman in the Mini Cooper who was following behind me as I headed down Memorial Drive and at the poor man in the Porsche with the doctor vanity plates who was not risking his fancy testosterone machine with the flood waters.

(note to self: maybe don't date the guy who drives a Porsche...that's why you say you always want a man in a big ass truck...although a nice safe sedan is just fine too).

So in all that time I had to amuse myself while trying not to chug my water and go insane while I was living my best life on the freeway that was not moving I had some time to think.

About patience...
and about listening to the voice in my head...
and about maybe not doing something I know is stupid...
and about not being so stubborn...
and about how lucky I am to have friends who stay on the phone with me to keep me from freaking out
and about how to just accept that I am not in control of something
and about how lucky I was to have a full tank of gas and an empty bladder
and about not taking I-10 during a rainstorm

Cancer has taught me so much about control...or rather my lack of it.

I've lived a good "safe" fairly "clean" life other than being overweight.

And yet here I sit with cancer...a deadly vicious one at that.

A mother of two who's greatest vice is tacos.

So I have no control of my cancer...

(And while I am mentioning this I have a soapbox moment: please stop believing and posting the social media memes and videos that tell you that if you eat/drink something or diet in some particular way that it will cure cancer....if it was that easy I am pretty sure MD Anderson and Memorial Hermann (and my spectacular doctors) would just be feeding us lemons/alkaline foods/keto/whatever and cure the cancers. It's not that simple. Lemons are not going to make my cancer go away...I WISH I had that kind of control over it...getting off soapbox)

I had no control over the freeway that day so I decided to make the best of it by talking to a friend and just keeping calm.

Had this same scenario happened to me 2 or 3 years ago I would have been panicked and ready to just abandon my car and run.

Cancer has taught me how to be still...accept what I truly can't do what I can to change what I can and to know that GOD HAS GOT THIS.

I do, however, need to listen and pay attention to the "Danger Will Robinson!" voice in my head and maybe next time when I am setting out to do something stupid I should take head of that voice and HAVE SOME CONTROL and not do it.  I knew when I got into my car I was making a mistake...

We do have control there...we need to listen to the voice of reason that tells us not to take the WRONG kind of chances.

But I am so damn stubborn I am pretty sure that at some point I will fail at this again and set out and do something stupid again.

As for having a full tank of gas and an empty bladder...well that is a roll of the dice people...I try to keep the tank filled but I have days where Beyonce the 4 Runner is telling me "Danger Will Robinson!"...

I did finally make it home 5 hours (almost to the minute) after I set out.

Next time I am in the car for 5 hours I better be headed somewhere fun like Baton Rouge or Dallas or the Hill Country...I don't want to spend 5 hours on the interstate again and not go anywhere.

I did make it to the very fun party and yes I ate loads and loads of #corndip and Kari's yummy cake and so many of Megan's deviled eggs I am pretty sure I smelled like eggs for days. And it was all worth it.

So here's my advice:
eat the corn dip
stay off the roads when they say it might flood

it's that simple...

Inspiration Song: "Don't Rain on my Parade" by Barbra Streisand...because even though it rained and I got stranded that day was a lot like my cancer--my cancer is trying to rain on my parade of my life and I just won't let it...that day still turned out GREAT (and I got #corndip) and El Diablo will not get me...because waiting for me at the end of all of this is my Nicky Arnstein and he's going to be waiting for me just like Omar Shariff was waiting for Barbra...CANCER WILL NOT RAIN ON MY PARADE--I HAVE TOO MUCH TO LIVE FOR

Don't tell me not to live
Just sit and putter
Life's candy and the sun's
A ball of butter
Don't bring around a cloud
To rain on my parade
Don't tell me not to fly
I've simply got to
If someone takes a spill
It's me and not you
Who told you you're allowed
To rain on my parade
I'll march my band out
I'll beat my drum
And if I'm fanned out
Your turn at bat, sir
At least I didn't fake it
Hat, sir, I guess I didn't make it
But whether I'm the rose
Of sheer perfection
Or freckle on the nose
Of life's complexion
The cinder or the shiny apple of its eye
I gotta fly once
I gotta try once
Only can die once, right, sir?
Ooh, life is juicy
Juicy, and you see
I gotta have my bite, sir
Get ready for me, love
'Cause I'm a commer
I simply gotta march
My heart's a drummer
Don't bring around a cloud
To rain on my parade
I'm gonna live and live now
Get what I want, I know how
One roll for the whole show bang
One throw, that bell will go clang
Eye on the target and wham
One shot, one gun shot, and bam
Hey, Mister Arnstein
Here I am
I'll march my band out
I will beat my drum
And if I'm fanned out
Your turn at bat, sir
At least I didn't fake it
Hat, sir, I guess I didn't make it
Get ready for me, love
'Cause I'm a commer
I simply gotta march
My heart's a drummer
Nobody, no, nobody
Is gonna rain on my parade

Bye Darlings---don't let anyone (or any actual rain) ruin your the corn dip, have a full tank of gas, stay off the roads when it's storming and don't rain on anyone else's parade either...and I'll let you know when Mr. Arnstein comes for me...I'll be Barbra in the tugboat singing my heart out to get to him...

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

No Tears Left To Cry

Hello Darlings...

well after the cluster that was round 1 of chemo I am happy to say that Round 2 went a lot better...and round 3 even better (I got the pharmacologist to reduce the devil drug Decadron i.e. the "everclear" in the "trash can punch") and other than a little tiredness (and just one day of feeling like I had the flu) and a bit of nausea (but not getting sick) I did great....

I hope that first time was just a hiccup and that I had picked up a bug and this is not how chemo will go because I don't really like the idea of ending up in the hospital again.

I have better things to do with my weekend.

Things like:
watching Pioneer Woman and Trisha's Southern Cooking
petting cats
folding laundry
cooking and making bone broth
sitting in my easy chair
sorting mail
spin class
rearranging the dishes in the dishwasher
unloading the dishwasher
staring into my refrigerator
taking showers
doing costume research
playing on social media
being a human cat bed
floating in my aunt's pool
watching Netflix

you get the picture...I lead a terribly boring life...spin class, floating in my aunt's pool and the occasional pedicure are a high point but all of it is better than being in the hospital.

So thankfully I got a boring weeks at home of flipping channels and cooking and was not flipping channels from a hospital bed.

So today I want to blog about starting over again...

because that is what I am having to do with my exercise...

I have had a frustrating 9 months.

Starting in October when my blood got all funky and they got worried I might fall over and hit my little head I had to pull back on the yoga and frankly struggled to get through spin class.

It's a little hard to get your heart rate up and pumping if you have no hemoglobin and are struggling to breathe.

So I got thrown in the hospital and got to feel like a character in the movie "Twilight" as I was given bags of blood to help me get stronger.

Then I had the hernia surgery so no bike or mat for 7 weeks.

Then I got back to it and hit it with a vengeance...

I got in my 60 classes in 60 days and hit my 600th ride and 200th yoga.

I felt like a damn rockstar.

or at least not like a 53 year old cancer patient...

no, I'm gonna stand by the rockstar comment...or chose...

I felt amazing and I was riding that bike like a boss and flowing like a goddess.

I hadn't felt that good in 3 years...

not kidding....

and then all hell broke loose with my spine...

and I went from a little back struggling to walk long struggling to walk at all and not being able to sit in a pain like I have never had and it was unrelenting and constant.

So then spinal fusion surgery...

and then back to chemo...

So I finally got back on a bike May 4 year anniversary of riding at Revolution Studio and I can tell you it has been 4 years of challenging joy. 4 years where I have loved each ride. 4 years of finding a sanctuary for my soul. 4 years of a tribe of people who I consider family.

But having been off the bike since March 7th took a toll on my body, muscles, fitness, strength, and overall ability to fully participate in class.

My heart rate---once so trained that it would jump up into my "zone" and stay there through class struggled to get up to my training zone because I can't pedal as hard or stand up.

My stamina---improving so much during January and February was nill...I just prayed to sit in the saddle and pedal and not give up before class ended. I've been talking to Jesus a lot...a whole lot...

My muscles---firming up and strong enough for heavier weights and looking good in my heels I was loving to wear once again became mush. My calves are the texture of my Tempurpedic mattress and I won't even discuss my thighs and glutes.

My core---so strong thanks to all the yoga and spin became a shadow of itself. Where I could once balance and hold myself up so well on the bike I can now only come up for about 10 seconds before needing to retreat back to the saddle (and lest you worry that I should not be doing this I have my surgeon's and oncologists' blessing).

My legs---once able to pedal fast to the beat and push hard tension on a climb are now just barely able to pedal for the whole 45 minutes at the bare minimum tension for each turn the instructor requests. And what little speed I was able to do it with is GONE...

My arms----once able to do 3 lb weights for the arm section (it's harder than it sounds) and finally able to stabilize myself as I did many many chaturangas in yoga can barely hold up 2 lb weights during arms on the bike. They are just flabby chicken wings that jiggle with every movement.

It's all so depressing....and I'm not gonna lie I cried after that first class back because I was so upset with what my body had turned in to.

I've fought so hard to go from looking like the female equivalent of the Stay Puff Marshmallow Man (or the Michelin Man) to someone who can once again wear heels and a cute dress and feel good about herself in it.

I've lost 70 lbs

I spent the better part of last year in tents and tennis shoes.

And a few weeks ago when something didn't fit right I had to have a little chat with myself...

and I realized that I have had more done to me in the last 6 months (medically) than some people have in a lifetime: blood transfusions, hernia, spinal fusion surgery, chemotherapy...and add that to the radiation and chemo I had leading up to it...IT'S A LOT Y'ALL....

And when I looked in the mirror and wanted to cry because everything had gone SOFT I realized that even warriors are not perfect all the time.

Warriors have to train to be ready to fight...

you don't just go from "woman" to "Wonder Woman" without some effort...

and right now I am back to square one...


and I miss yoga so much I can barely stand to look at the yoga room...

one instructor invited me to come in and just sit and soak it in and oh I was tempted to but whereas I can modify myself on the bike, when it comes to yoga if I saw the flow start I would just have to get up and dance on my mat...I would not be able to resist doing a prayer twist (completely forbidden) and I would have to half moon for sure...


so the other day before I climbed onto a bike in Marvelous Mel's class I had a chat with myself as I drove to Revolution.

And it went something like this:

Hey Anice!
Wake up you nimnull...
you have been through a lot in the last 6 months!
so what if you can't keep up in position what if you can't do a left lead while standing (you have never been able to do left lead easily) what if you have to sit through 90% of class...
it's ok...
you are there...
you are in the room...
and as Marevelous Mel says "it's not about perfection" (yes baby girl I LISTEN to you)
it's about being present

And so when I climbed on the bike I had a new attitude about it and class went by so fast..and of course when she played "I'm Alive" by Sia I couldn't help but cry and was so grateful that I am alive and I needed to quit worrying about my weight and my mushy muscles and all the other nebulous things that really didn't matter.

Throughout this journey with cancer I have had to learn so many things about myself and have had to change my attitude about so many things.

And it's all part of it.

And the big thing I have learned is that I am not just facing death.

I'm facing CHANGE

and nothing is as I expected it to be.

And cancer or not, it rarely is.

We are all thrown curveballs in life:

loss of job
change in income
loss of home

so my cancer isn't the only change in life I have dealt with...but it has been not only the most life-changing---it's also been the most life-affirming and perception altering event in my world.

I've lost my parents and grandparents

I got married

I had kids

I got divorced

I moved houses

and I got sick.

All "normal" things...things many of us go through...

I knew all my life I would get married and have kids and probably live in a house or two.

I knew at some point I would lose my parents.

And a few years into my marriage I was pretty sure I would get divorced.

But getting sick is NOT something anyone plans on or expects to deal with in your life.

You don't just go into this world waiting for the day when you are told you have an illness.

(And when you do you go into shock...and you hit your knees and you seek God real fast).

So the shock and reality of my illness was just that---shock.

Life is a road and we hit speed bumps.

And sadly my speed bump is the size of Everest.

And right now I feel like I am climbing Everest...each day moving closer to the summit (when I am well...when I am NED...when the disease is gone) and base camp is so far below I can't see it anymore.

People who climb Everest are brave...strong....strong willed...gutsy...and just a wee bit crazy.

I have a lock on the crazy...the other part I have had to gain...

more strength....

more bravery...

more guts...

So now starting over on my fitness feels like trekking back to a lower part on the mountain.

But that's ok...

sometimes you have to climb down to climb up.

And I am learning that a step backwards is not always just going backwards...sometimes you have to step back to move forward...

like backing up to catch a fly ball...

or backing up to take a running start...

So maybe all this "backing up" with my fitness is not just a move backwards but rather a way for me to move forward...

and I am inching forward and not launching myself forward like I did in January when I started over after the hernia surgery.

I kind of feel like I am playing the game of Monopoly and I kept getting sent back to the start corner...or playing "Sorry" and someone has made my token go back to start.

But the good news is I am not "in jail" or in a timeout I'm just at the beginning again.

And soon my core will gain strength, and my heart rate will return to a trained state, and my muscles will be less mushy and more firm and the weight will continue to come off and once my spine is good and healed I can wear my high heels again.

It will take time.

And I am blessed to have time.

So the other day I put on a dress that I had purchased but the first time I tried it on it almost ended up in the Goodwill pile. But I hung it back in the closet and said "soon"...

So I put it on the other day and although I didn't look "perfect" in it I looked damn good.

Heavenly Heather and I now refer to it as "The Dress" because when I wore it the other day I had a lot of very sweet people tell me I looked great (including Dr. Angel---and this time when he told me I looked amazing he did not follow it with a "but your cancer..." so yay for compliments without being told bad news!). I wore it last night to Aunt Jane's birthday dinner and felt good in it.

Every girl needs a "The Dress" in her closet that she can go to when she wants to feel good.

(Mine happens to be from and it's called the "Goddess Corset Yoga Dress". It's made of the same fabric that they make their yoga clothes out of so its a bit compressive and smooths out the bad bits. And because it is athletic fabric it is moisture wicking and keeps me cool and dry on those days when it is hotter than the surface of the sun outside.  Athleta also makes some similar dresses...)

You will see me in it a lot this summer...

Pretend I didn't just wear it yesterday, mmk?

Because all it takes for me to decide to live in something is to have a handsome man tell me I look pretty in something (even if it is my sweet doctor...he's still a handsome man!)

See how helpful I am? You can all go shopping now...

And I am going to get dressed and go spin...because these mushy muscles need to pedal and I need to set my soul right and now that I have found forgiveness for my steps backward.

My cancer journey is a learning journey.

I'm learning each day more about myself...growing in ways I never thought was possible.

Finding forgiveness for my imperfections and stumbles and steps backward has been a challenge but I now know that my life is not on a straight forward trajectory.

My life is a series of stops and starts and and not a smooth path but rather one of hills and valleys.

And I am not alone in having a life that does that...most of us do.

Sometimes we get sent back to the start and we begin again...sometimes we have to stop in the middle and reset...sometimes we have to run backward to keep going forward.

I'm running backward right now but it's only so I can have more room to launch myself forward...

Look out...I'm gonna keep going...

Because I won't stop until I reach the top...the summit is ahead and I will reach it...

Inspiration Song: "No Tears Left to Cry"---because I am obsessed with it...and because I'm not gonna cry about it any more...I'm lovin, I'm livin, and pickin it up...

Right now, I'm in a state of mind
I wanna be in, like, all the time
Ain't got no tears left to cry
So I'm pickin' it up, pickin' it up (oh yeah)
I'm lovin', I'm livin', I'm pickin' it up

Bye darlings...I'm learning that life is a series of forward and backwards moves...maybe I should have learned to play any case I'll keep starting over as long as I am given the chance to....

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Dance with my Father

I'm gonna take a quick break from all the sturm und drang that is my cancer blogging and talk today about my Daddy.  It's Father's Day and it's been rough on me for the last 24 years that he has been gone. Today I am feeling all the feels and so I just want to let it out for a bit...back to cancer soon...maybe even later this week if I finish my "I started this 3 weeks ago" blog...

Hello Darlings and Happy Father's Day!

I'm sending love and best wishes to all the dads out there.

I lost my Daddy in 1994.

I miss him every single day.


I woke up this morning and so wished I could call him or better yet be with him at his house so I could get up and treat him to breakfast.

I found a photo of him and me when I was a baby and posted it on social media and then the tears started.

Going through these last few years has been rough not having him around.

I miss his wisdom and I miss his humor.

I think he would love having an adult relationship with my kids and I think he would be very proud of how I handled my divorce and building a life alone and most especially how I have handled my cancer.

Many of you who read this blog knew my dad.

Bobby was a man of great charm.

To know him was to love him.

He wasn't always easy to deal with (ask Super Sharon his former assistant) but most of the time he was someone you just wanted to be around.

I think he could charm a snake just with his grin...

My dad told great stories.

I think it is where I get my love of being a storyteller comes from.

I only wish I had made him write some of them down.

And oh how he loved horses and cars.

He was never happier than when he was in the saddle or driving.

When he had his heart attack and the docs told him he might not be able to ride or drive he said "well then let me die..."

He never sat pretty in the saddle.

Far from it.

He had a way of riding that we called "the funky chicken" because his arms would flap about.

He was put on a saddle as soon as he could sit up and he developed more horse sense than any man I ever knew.  And he wasn't too bad with the cattle either...

He won a World Cutting Championship (in the most ugly way possible) and was once featured riding hard on the cover of Fortune magazine.

He would come home from working cattle and would pretty much be a filthy dirty mess...but he loved every minute of it and I'm pretty sure his soul roams the Laureles division of the King Ranch looking after the cattle and the turkeys and deer.

Daddy loved to hunt but was always respectful of the animals he killed. We ate them or he gave the meat to friends. Hunting was sport but he also treated it as part of the circle of life.

He once killed an elephant (the elephant was old and sick and he was asked to put it down because he was a crack shot). He said it was the hardest kill of his life. He didn't speak much of it but he was gifted with the tusk (this was in the 60's) and some of the hide. He had boots made from the hide and he loved them so much we buried him in those boots.

He loved to hunt so much that he turned a car into a hunting vehicle.

He took a Tornado and had the roof and doors removed and had the King Ranch Saddle Shop make him rifle scabbards to go on the sides.

He would fly that thing (yes it had wheels but he made it FLY) around the King Ranch and once took his good friend Captain Pete Conrad for a ride in it. Pete was an astronaut. 2nd moonshot. Walked on the moon. He took my dad to a lift off for one of the Apollo missions and when my dad felt the rumbling of the Saturn rocket he asked Pete:

"how the hell did you handle all that rumbling and roughness?"

Pete answered: "because I drove across the King Ranch with you in your hunting car---it was great training!"

Yeah, to ride with Daddy was always an adventure.

When my stepmother gifted him with a Porsche one Christmas he couldn't wait to drive.

He made up an excuse to drive into Ingram and I was the unlucky and unwilling passenger.

We made it to Ingram in 8 minutes.

It usually took 10...

not kidding...

I came back from that little trip white as a ghost and as mad at him as the time he made me ride "Space Mountain" at Disney World.

No wonder Pete thought riding a Saturn rocket was a breeze compared to my dad driving a car with no door and roof across the south Texas landscape.

Speaking of that car---once he turned it into the Bat Mobile.

He came to pick me and Noel up from high school dressed as Batman (with my step mother dressed as Batgirl) in the "Batmobile".

Noel hid...

I ran to the car and my friends wanted a ride.

Only my dad could drive across town dressed as a comic book character and not be embarrassed.

I think it made the small town paper...and some of my friends probably still remember it.

As for the Batman costume it was a gift for his 40th birthday and my cousin Tio had a Robin costume to go along with it. I have photos...they are great...

My dad was an enigma of sorts---he was such a rough and tumble cowboy who rode horses and shot guns but he's also the man who chose my prom dress and cried so much when he saw me at Neimans in my wedding gown that I had to go and fetch him from the adjoining salon.

He collected western art yet loved Lalique crystal.

He loved scotch and red wine and good cold Mexican beer.

He loved a very rare steak and always had his beloved chilipetins on the table to go with it.

He loved to sing but usually only in Spanish (El Rey was a favorite)

He loved cars so much he once owned and ran a car dealership

He collected guns, cars, western art and children---there were 9 of us!

I had a complicated relationship with him.

When he said one thing I often had to prove him wrong

Like my wedding day when he said "are you sure" my answer was to grab my gown and his arm and said "the trumpet is playing let's go" even though he was right and I should have run out the church doors.

A particular conversation changed what I studied in college...

If truth be told I really just wanted to study to be a teacher.

I love teaching and I love kids.

If I had my way I would have been an art/art history teacher.

But a conversation we had when I was 13 changed that course for me.

After my father married my stepmother my mom would not allow us to travel to Houston every other weekend for visitation so my father leased some ranch property near Kingsville. We stayed in the guest house because the main house on the ranch was under dispute from the heirs to the property. They were fighting about it so they leased the property to my dad until things could be settled.

The ranch itself was in a bit of a mess and my dad was helping them by culling wildlife and grazing cattle there.

He took me out for a drive and we discussed why the ranch had not been properly managed which led us to a discussion of what would happen if he had a ranch of his own (we did have property in Montana) and he died.

Who would run the ranch?

And he informed me he planned to groom my brother to be his successor.


My brother?

I looked at him and said "why not me?"

and I knew the answer....

because I was a girl.

And I was supposed to grow up, get married, have babies, cook perfect meals and serve cocktails and be a lady...

So I went to Texas A&M and studied Agriculture and confounded all my professors and showed up to Animal Science class dressed in a mini skirt and heels...and once rearranged a set of steers all while wearing stilletos and tight jeans and a typical 80's top with my hair in a perfect version of big 80's hair.

A few of my classmates called me "Hurricane Anice".

I'll take it....

My dad never expected me to run his ranch but he was beyond proud the day I got my degree and despite his University of Texas loving soul he resigned himself to the fact that I was an Aggie and loved it.

And I still ended up getting married and having babies and cooking perfect meals and serving cocktails and I'm a lady...and I never ran the ranch...

My dad loved women.

He really really loved women.

And when he saw a beautiful woman he would say "now that's a chickipoo" (he called beautiful women "chickipoo")

Last night I went to go see "Book Club" with Twirler Girl.

We loved it (very cute movie if you are a woman over a certain age).

Candace Bergen is in it.

My father took my sisters and me to Paris (see my blog "La Femme Parallel" for those adventures) and we were lucky enough to get to fly on the Concorde.

The Concorde had a private lounge and we were waiting to board our flight while relaxing in the lounge.

In walked the most glamorous woman I have or will ever see.

She was a statuesque blonde wearing a full length mink coat and heels and sunglasses and she was on the arm of an older gentleman.  Back in that day you could go to the gate or the lounge even if you weren't flying on the flight. The man was clearly going on the flight but she was just there to see him off. She had eyes only for him.

My dad took one look at her and said "Now THAT is a chickipoo" and I could only stare.

I said "she looks like a movie star" and Daddy said "she is....She is Candace Bergen".

I had no clue who she was but I knew she was beautiful...

My poor stepmother was 5 months pregnant and had swollen ankles and watched my dad's eyes pop out of his head looking at the movie star.

But Daddy being Daddy he walked over to her...kissed her and told her SHE was the most beautiful woman in the room.

That was Daddy...

An appreciator of beautiful women but he knew how to take care of the women he loved.

I don't have any personal items belonging to him.

My stepmother never let me have anything but I have memories that no one can take from me.

And this is my fondest one...

it was the night before he died.

My daughter was 2 months old

Daddy was in the hospital and had had an angiogram and was scheduled for bypass surgery the next day (the surgery he would ultimately die from).

Daddy was so excited to have a granddaughter and he bought my daughter several over-the-top baby gowns and dresses that basically made her look like a giant meringue confection.

I dressed her up in one of the confection dresses and took her up to see him.

He opened his arms to receive her and held her for the hour or so we were there.

He was the happiest I had ever seen him and he was delighted to be holding and kissing his grandchild.

When it was time to go and I was taking him from his arms he said:

"She's the best thing you have ever done"

and at that moment any and all disappointment I had ever had from him vanished.

Because I truly succeeded in his eyes by producing this beautiful perfect child.

I kissed him and we told each other we loved each other.

The next day he had surgery and never woke up.

My last memories of him are of him in a coma but I truly prefer to remember that moment he handed her over to me.

I did something perfectly in his eyes.

I had strived all my life to do it.

And I finally did.

My dad was complicated, charming, funny, difficult, imperfect and easy to love.

And he will always be the first man I ever loved and even though we had a complicated relationship I feel blessed to be his daughter.

I have more tales to tell but there is a steak on my counter that needs cooking in his honor and some red wine I need to pour.

So to all who knew and loved my Daddy I hope you had a little remembrance of him as you read this...

and now I will go make a rare steak and think of him...

Happy Father's Day Daddy....I love you...

Inspiration Song: "Dance with my Father" by Luther Vandross. Because I wish I could dance with my father once again:

If I could steal one final glance
One final step
One final dance with him
I'd play a song that would never ever end
Cause I'd love love love to
Dance with my father again

Bye Darlings....back to cancer blogging next time but for now I just wanted to give you all a glimpse of the wonderful man I called my Daddy...