Saturday, August 30, 2014

Soul Vitamins...

Ann Voskamp always does a post on Saturdays called: Only the Good Stuff: Multivitamins for Your Weekend.  It really is "good stuff"- refreshing and uplifting.

So I decided to do my own take on a few things that felt like "vitamins for my soul" this week. 

It was an "impromptu" invite, to gather for book club the other night.  To get 7 women to say yes, with barely a day's notice?  Pretty amazing.  

So despite my nausea, and general yuckiness, I decided I could feel sick at home, alone, or at least have a night filled with laughs, and stories, and savor some really good friendships.

And you have to giggle a bit at the fact we hadn't read a book to discuss.  It was such a great night!

I found this tiny feather, clinging by the tiniest thread, to the window of my car.  Despite the rain shower that had just down poured and the wind that was making it hard to photograph, that feather wasn't moving from its little perch.

I am always clinging to hope, and this says to me, hope is clinging right back.

I am mentally preparing for a PET scan my insurance company approved for me in the coming weeks.  It'll be the first time we've looked at my entire body to see where cancer might be active. If we do find activity, a new course of treatment will likely ensue- a chemo of some sort.  So I am cherishing my growing hair, eyebrows, nails, etc.

I was given the gift of a "fitbit" awhile ago.  So today we got it charged and I am logging my steps.  I am actively seeking to drop whatever weight I can before my next infusion!  

Plus, I've been back on a green smoothie kick.  Spinach, kale, romaine lettuce, blueberries, almond milk, stevia, and a banana.  Super yum!  

On Facebook, my friend, Julie, challenged me to list 10 books that have stayed with me in some way and tag people to do the same. The Rules: Don't take more than a few minutes and do not think too hard. They don't have to be the "right" books or great works of literature, just ones that you remember in some way. Then tag a number of friends including me so I can see your list. 
"A Prayer for Owen Meany," by John Irving
"Cutting for Stone," by Abraham Verghese
"A New Earth," by Eckhart Tolle
"The Shack," by William Young
"The Outsiders," by S.E. Hinton
"One Thousand Gifts," by Ann Voskamp
"Are you there God? Its Me Margaret." by Judy Blume
"Of Mice and Men," by John Steinbeck
"The Catcher in the Rye," by J. D. Salinger
"The Middle Place," by Kelly Corrigan
"The Book Thief," by Markus Zusak
"Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl," by Anne Frank

These were my books.  I can't believe I forgot to add "To Kill a Mockingbird," by Harper Lee.  I loved seeing how many people jumped in and provided lists of their top books.

Do any of you have a few books or a top 10 that you'd like to share?  

Happy Labor Day weekend!  Hope you find some "Soul Vitamins" too! 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Surrender blanketed in grace

"You have been given today…"  

I have my mom's antique chair off to the side of my computer desk.  It badly needs a makeover.  And yet it wonderfully displays the pillows given to me by friends in the upper right hand corner of the collage.  I look at them every day and let those words sink in often.  

If you look very carefully, on the arm of the chair is a ring that was given to me by my friend Susan.  It says "Overcomer" on it and I wear it often, when my fingers aren't too swollen.  

Just the other day the photo with the words, "You have been given today," were sent to me along with the beautiful card from a friend in Arizona.  

So when I went to infusion yesterday, I had so many gifts to count, so much gratitude to fill the lines of my journal.

And yet…

I officially stepped on the scale and stepped off into the unknown.  ARGGGGGHHH.  I was over the weight limit by .3 lbs.   Yes, thats, point 3.  

So I try to carefully explain to my infusion nurse, whom I've never had before, could she just run it past Dr. Panwalkar?  The last time I went over by a couple of pounds, he clearly said he won't increase my dosage of Herceptin.  I am so sensitive to it already, and have increasing nausea and flu-like symptoms from it and he didn't want it to increase. 

But, my nurse had already made a call to Laurie, the nurse practioner,  not Dr. Panwalkar.  She explains its the standard guidelines and so we wait to hear back from Laurie. 

And the decision, I know, is black and white.  If you're over the line, you should do the increased dose.

I'm surprised by how quickly it makes me feel helpless and sad. 

I'm not one to argue, and again, I feel her busyness, her need to get to her next patient. 

So I smile, and remind myself to be gracious.  

I lean all the way back in the bed, and surrender. 

I have a full afternoon of appointments.  I have been asked to participate in some really cool events and projects and I am fully immersed in preparing for them.  So I just take what meds I can to squelch the growing discomfort. 

I arrive home late, ready to cave in. 

But my Colton is standing near the door.  Freshly showered, hair freshly spiked with gel, with all his school supplies in his bag, ready to go.  Its back to school night at his new school.  He is starting middle school this year.

So I plead with Superman for him to go with us, as fatigue nags me, but he is too swamped with work and distracted. 

Gracious.  Help me be gracious.

Colton and I make our way through.  He is excited, even though admittedly, he is nervous too. 

I'm completely wiped out by the time we get home.

I tumble into bed near 9 o'clock.

I awake early this morning,  with a booming headache, nauseous stomach, and a new side effect- diarrhea that seems unending.  

I grab my sprite, some toast, and head over to the chair by the sunlight.  

"You have been given today…"

Today I choose surrender…  blanketed in grace.  

Friday, August 22, 2014


Ellen DeGeneres

Leave it to Ellen to sum up our days lately, with a keen sense of humor.  

People often ask, "So how are the boys doing?'

Sometimes, the answers of "they're fine," truly suffice.  Other times the answers smack you in the head and you wonder why you didn't see it all along.

It started with the simple line uttered by the school day photographer...

 When she went to take Nolan's  8th grade school photo, he was out of the range of their camera.  While there were footprints for the kids to place their feet in to align with the camera, Nolan had to step outside of the feet, way outside of the box, as he simply didn't fit.

He stands eye to eye with his father.  We haven't dared compare more officially- Nolan might be a tad taller already.

"Are you sure he doesn't belong in high school?"  The young woman jokes.  Nolan just grins for a second than its back to his sober face for the pic.  He doesn't really want to be in these pictures.  

But she is more astute than she knows.  Nolan has faced a long period of time now, of finding where he fits.  In so many ways, not visible to most, our boys have had to adjust to so much.

I can so relate to that struggle.   I did start high school when I was 14.  My own Mom was busy at work, and I had to register myself.  I had to make sure I had everything I needed from gym clothes, to school clothes, to supplies, to everything that went with it.  I rode my bike everywhere I needed to go, to the "Holiday Mall," to find jeans at "Stevensons", and make up at Alco, or if you were really lucky, Merle Norman.  I had to maneuver around all the hours I babysat in the summer earning money to pay for everything.  The weight of it all felt enormous.

Nolan's different in that, mostly, he still has me at home to help.   Even though he pushes away, more than he seeks out, my help.  And I have to remind myself, its normal for him to be that way.

He has taken his first job, too.  He is working at a hockey camp, and loves being with younger kids, while still receiving coaching from those he works with.  He is also committed to his training regimen, and often goes to the rink, by himself, looking to keep his skating sharp.  

But despite a full day, he doesn't stay still at home for long.  Adventure beckons him, and he is off to find one of his buddies, and a place to fit, outside of the comfort of home. 

Picture after picture shows up in his private instagram feed.  The one account for some of his friends, and me, his mom.  The mom, who loves it when a photo pops up of him tubing in DL with his friends- the three of them smiling so huge- there's those dimples after all.  Or when he gets invited to spend a weekend up by Duluth, and does every boy-loving thing in rapid-fire order.  The times a friend picks him up in his car, and they go for a protein shake. Or the nights he goes cat fishing with another good buddy, and he proudly shows the fish he's landed.

Its difficult when your mom has cancer, to be able to invite your friends over.  We long to add on a teenage-friendly space on the back of our house.  One in which the boys don't have to make their friends face how their mom may be looking and feeling. But until we figure that out, he has been ousted out of the family space in the basement, in lieu of Rick's office.  His tiny bedroom, his only refuge.

So the boy who didn't like leaving the house at one point, adjusts to going out to be with his friends these days.  I thinks its important that he has a change of scenery, the freedom to be a teenager, to get away from the cancer and its chronic treatment that limit what I can do, and therefore what he can do. It’s all  I can give him and I hope it reassures him. All shall be well.

My mother's heart thumps with joy each time he is asked to go.  Each day he is doing "normal," teenage things.  Each day, he can escape the reality of his mom, and her life lived with one foot firmly entrenched in Cancer world, despite how "normal" she looks.

For both the boys, I want them to be with friends old and new, having fun and trying new things. There are so many physical activities I can no longer do with them. Yet we look forward to many new things coming their way- achievements, laughs, and experiences- a world of moments to live full.

Just a few nights ago.  Nolan asked if I could go with him out for Chinese food.  We had just the gift card for it.  Just him, just me.  Instead of going to play baseball with his friends, he chose to have dinner with me.  And he talked.  We talked.  About his hopes, his worries, his dreams.  

At the end of dinner, his phone beeped.  I got a shy smile and a request.  Could I just drop him off at his friends to play a little baseball? I could, happily I could.

He leans down and hugs me as I turn to leave.  

He fits.  As fleeting as these moments between him and I can be, its the one place he will always fit.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Friday Finds… you won't want to miss

“We're all just walking each other home.” 
― Ram Dass

She couldn't have known it was my birthday.  It was a simple request sent through a private message to me from Dr. Terstriep. "Would I?"

Would I speak, again, at the 2nd annual Women's Breast Cancer Retreat on October 2nd, at the Plains Art Museum in Fargo?  

With barely a forethought, I was already on board in July. 

I would.

Then the details started sinking in.

The topic will be "Leaving a legacy."

And my 10 minute speaking time?

Expanded… to a full 30 minutes.


I've already decided the content won't be about leaving your legacy- but living your legacy.

And now I'm on the hunt for all the things I can gather about how you go about doing just that…

I am in a deeply contemplative state this week.  

It starts with this quote…

“We're all just walking each other home.” 
― Ram Dass

Then the earth shattering news that Robin Williams has passed away… 

It strikes me, that he might be the epitome of the idea of living your legacy when I think of all the days, and all the ways he left me moved, either with tears, or laughter and often both.  A legend of our time, never to be forgotten. 

So I spend my week doing this...

Enjoying the sunshine with my bestie.  Crosby loves being outside, and as the sun light has turned to that amber and golden hue that I adore, he spends every second of it with me.  

As I read and journal…  this stinker goes and gets not just one ball, but TWO.  

He is clearly living his doggie legacy, too.

And then because I've opened my heart to finding inspiration about living a legacy, look what lands in my lap.

I've been honored to have written for this gem of a magazine several times before- On The Minds Of Moms.  

Their most recent issue arrived in the mail today.  

Follow the link below… or go get a copy at the local grocery store.  

So worth your time to read! 

On The Minds of Moms: Heidi Odegaard: Giving Hope

Follow the link above for the rest of the uplifting and hope-filled story! 

But again, as if one story wasn't enough, look what else we found at the grocery store.

Two of my favorite people, living their legacy and inviting us all to be a part of it.

Area Woman Magazine: Cully's Kids 

Follow the link to read about the recap of the Cully's Kids final Celebrity Weekend.

You may just know the author- hehe- even though they may have accidentally left her name out… oops. 

If you are local, Area Woman magazine, and On The Minds of Moms can be picked up at your local grocery store for free!  

Are you inspired by someone, "living their legacy," that I should know about?  

Monday, August 11, 2014

that old version of me...

Sarah Young~ Jesus Calling

"… Energy and time are precious, limited entities.  Therefore, you need to use them wisely, focusing on what is truly important.  As you walk close to Me… I will show you how to spend your time and energy.  My word is a lamp to your feet; My presence is a Light for your path."  

We left last week for a big hockey tournament in Minneapolis.  I've wanted to go to the Cities to shop for school clothes for the boys, and enjoy a relaxing time.  I still believe I am that old version of me, that could accomplish all of these things easily. 

Yet, hockey tournaments can become all about hockey.  Traveling to and from the rink, going early, watching the games, staying late.   While in between games you are finding quick meals for your ravenous skater, finding skate sharpeners, etc., its a few busy days. 

So this one time, I decided to do something spur of the moment, on the outside of hockey, instead.

When my friend, Kristi, invited me to come to her home on the lake, and spend time with another of our friends, Elizabeth, plus my God daughter, Brynne… how could I resist?

I skipped one of Nolan's hockey games, Friday night.

Rick brought me to a Fuddrucker's and Kristi and Brynne met me there for dinner.

Then we left for Kristi's and Brynne's home.

Soon Elizabeth arrived.

We had the best time!  

Kristi and Elizabeth filled our Facebook feed with pictures of us on the deck, by the moonlit lake, giggling at the antics of the four year old entertaining us. 

All of this, even though, I was still tired and semi-nauseous from infusion.

I also find my brain has a hard time when its tired.  Words get lodged in there and have a hard time working their way to my mouth. Names escape me.  Directions are lost.  It takes so much for me to just cope with all the stimulation around me, and the newness of it all.  I struggle with trying to be the same me, when that "version" of me, left long ago.  

So even though I brought my camera?  I took no pictures.  Not a single one.  

Fatigue just numbs me to a point of hardly being able to move at times.

I still however, soaked in the moments and loved each one.  

But, if I'm being honest, I compromised quite a bit this past weekend.

Even though I knew what both the boys needed for clothes at the stores?  By the time we drove to the Outlets, found parking, maneuvered through the crowds and got to our first store?

We fought out way through not finding anything, left, and had just 20 minutes to spend at the second store.

Like that, our time was up and we needed to head back out to get to the next game on time.  

Thank goodness I have a boy who relishes athletic wear and made quick decisions.

But I didn't shop for myself at all, like I would normally do.  I didn't even attempt to look for Colton's sizes. I just didn't have it in me.

I try hard to not be disappointed in what it seems I can't accomplish some days. 

Nolan's team won 3 games and lost 2 this weekend.

We arrived home and I was in bed, in record time. 

My head is throbbing today, and I am groggy and mind-numbingly tired.

The one thing, at the center of it all, no matter which version of me...

my grateful heart knows no bounds, and remains just as full as its ever been.  

"My word is a lamp to your feet; My presence is a Light for your path."  

Wednesday, August 6, 2014



 after Herceptin infusion...

I feel…


A gnawing nausea sits in my stomach… begging for relief.


after infusion...

fatigue starts chasing me into bed more than I'd like to be.  

And Rick has to leave overnight…

with Nolan.

So I call from my bedroom for help from Colton.  Because he'll find the bin of meds.  And bring me something to drink.  But he couldn't hear me.  So I just laid there.

Till hours later, a groggy boy appeared, rubbing his sleepy-eyes, asking if he could just sleep with me to feel better?


he makes everything feel right with the world again. 


 I just love that kid.

Friday, August 1, 2014

…go there

The thistles have outdone themselves in our back yard.  It was hot outside, not a hint of a breeze even to cool me off as I worked.  Rick had sprayed the weeds, and they had started to topple over, but I knew I would have to pull them to completely get rid of them.

So I was ornery having to spend so much time getting rid of these nuisance weeds.  Didn't I have better things to do with my time?  

Sweat streamed down, and my lungs felt my exertion, making me feel lightheaded.

Here I have been trying to count my God-given gifts and be grateful.  And all I can see are thorny weeds!  

What is there to be grateful about weeds?

As if I weren't crabby enough, one stubborn weed had the thickest stalk and it was not budging.  I went and got a trimmer and hacked away at it.  I thought I had loosened it just enough.  So I leaned over, and with my gloved hands, pulled with all my might…

and bam!  I fell back, square on my behind, my glove flying off as my hand hit the thorny pile of weeds  by my side.


And yet... suddenly, all I could do was laugh.  

How ridiculous I was being! 

With a handful of thorns now anchored in the palm of my hand, I went inside to have Rick free me of them.  

As he sat there quietly plucking out the thorns with a tweezer, my mind slowed down.   These weeds are the epitome of summer- my favorite time of year. They're green and ripe with life, because of all the rain and sunshine we've had.   They're strong, and stubborn.  In a way, they are a shining example of how I need to be to continue to fight my way beyond cancer.  

I went back outside.

By the time I cleared out a patch, I felt such peace.  

It takes effort to turn our thoughts back to blessings, much like it takes effort to deal with the weeds.  But the work is so rewarding when we view it through the right lens. 

It was a blogging friend, and writer, Julie Garmon, who inspired this post with her own post "Forgetting What's Broken."    Thank you Julie!  

A trip to the lake last weekend was a blessing of pure abundance.  The wind was pretty strong and our launch off the access was rocky.  The waves were topped with white-caps and our boat jarringly took us over the waves, bouncing us hard out of our seats.

But the views on this lake are not to be missed.

We soon found our way over to the point.  Its shallow enough for all kinds of boats to gather and for friends to hang out.  

But the "attraction," is just on the other side.

The "mansion," is breathtaking.  Simply stunning each time we've driven past it on the lake.  

It stretches on and on and is hard to get all in one photo.

It was several years back when the owner was away, and our friend, a property manager, took the boys  to see the golf holes in the back, and then we all took a boat out for a ride.  Everything is so pristine, we tiptoed across the lawn, not wanting to disturb any part of it. 

But on this day we were merely passing by… blessed to be invited to visit friends at their beautiful lake home.

It doesn't, in case you were thinking…  "does it get any better than this?" 

And this little cutie… whose eye had an unfortunate encounter with a dresser the day before.  But when I asked if I could take his picture, he knew exactly what to do.  Can you get over those blue eyes? 

We left with our stomach's full, our hearts filled, and our lake dreams as big as they've ever been.  

Thankful to our friends for being such gracious hosts to us! 

What brings you joy, friends?  

When you get lucky

When you get lucky

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