Monday, September 18, 2017

And The Days

B-Day Card From  My Aunt's Daughter
I took the day off from work because, honestly, I don't want to be aggravated on my birthday. Didn't really feel like a big celebration either and I'm usually on the low-key side to begin with soooo...

Of course, my aunt is on my mind and the days will get to you  -- birthdays, holidays etc. The first "xyz" you are without that person.

Regarding my aunt, I find myself going back and forth between I can't believe this, anger and partial acceptance. I think that my aunt was such an amazing person that she is still vividly alive for me, a notion that was confirmed when I saw the Instagram post below. I'm sad but know that I have to honor life and her life too.

Flower Near Car Dealership
Flowers on the Desk at the Car Dealership
From the 'Fugee
"I came to see what he'd become, or always was—the father who will never cease to be alive in me." —from "I Wanted to Share My Father's World" by Jimmy Carter  #mondaymotivation  Thirty-nine years ago, when the 39th president of the United States was in office, my dad wrote on his list of life goals, "Talk with the President." I wonder how he'd feel knowing his newborn baby that year did that yesterday. President Jimmy Carter was 54 years old when my dad made that goal, the same age my dad was when he was killed. Yesterday, when I told him why I was meeting him, he said, "Very good." Then he shook my hand and said, "Come back down and see us again." Just before I met him, he said, "Sorry to keep you waiting." Thirty-nine years is a long time to wait, and I wish my dad could have checked off this one himself. Luckily he's still alive in me.
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Thursday, September 7, 2017

To Wrap Around

Buddha at a Local Store
My cousin was supposed to go to a family birthday party last Saturday with my aunt Al so I accompanied her and I joked that while I wouldn’t be glad to go, I would go. I knew that it would be an awkward experience since, outside of my father’s siblings, I don’t really know a lot of my paternal relatives.

At the birthday party, a second cousin came over and asked if I knew who he was. I did know his name but I didn’t know him. He immediately said that one of his regrets was not getting to know parts of his family and I said that I felt similarly. I mean, I had to be introduced to many relatives at that party that, in theory, I should be familiar with.

On tap for the next day was a reunion with many of the same family members. One of my second cousins, D, kept saying that she looked like my aunt Al in response to people saying that she looks like her grandmother. D didn’t get along with her grandmother and I feel bad about that too because I think that if they had put their differences aside, they would have really enjoyed each other’s company. D has a great sense of humor and a big personality -- just like my aunt L. Anyway, I have enough to feel bad about without adding more regret for something that I had no control over...

Scene of the Reunion
Tug of War: Females vs. Males
Photo Booth: D's Family
At any rate, the birthday party was nice and so was the family reunion. Both were well organized and the credit goes to my second cousin, S., who is a superb event planner. The party MC even joked that the birthday woman is very laid back but that her daughter, S, is another story. When S asks you for something by a certain time on a certain date, you get it to her without questions...

Once a friend suggested that I go to Al-Anon and I scoffed out loud and had a For what? tone to my voice. I considered my father a soft and functional alcoholic but I can see how my father’s pursuit of alcohol et al. affected me by, say, his lack of interest in family gatherings.

As I listened to my cousin, C, talk about his 40 plus year marriage to the birthday woman, I wished that my father had been more invested in marriage. You get to play the “wish game” but you don’t get to alter reality and, while my father was not more “invested” in marriage, he was super invested in me, so I won’t cry over spilled milk. Okay, I’m whimpering a bit but whatever...

Birthday Prizes, Decorative Boxes that S Made
Additional Giveaway Boxes (with scripture chosen by birthday woman)

As an introvert, I felt the strain of being around a lot people for the Labor Day weekend but I did enjoy the family reunion. There were games, plenty of food, a photo booth and, of course, lots of interesting people.

I found it frustrating that I got almost nothing done, outside of cutting the grass and cleaning the fish tank, during the holiday weekend but I guess I’ll put that in the That’s life column. Plus, when family is gathered, you have to set other things aside.

The Friday before the holiday was busy at work and so was this Tuesday. I kept feeling the need to scream and I did but not loudly because screaming at work is frowned upon. My urge to scream made me think of this Primal Therapy scene in some goofy movie. And other than wanting to scream, I'm still wrapping my mind around the fact that my aunt is gone.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017


Two weeks ago, I woke up to the news that my aunt Al had transitioned. I am still having a hard time believing it.

My aunt had not been feeling like herself but when I went to see her on Sunday, August 13th, she got up to spend time with me and when I said that she didn't have to entertain me, she shrugged it off until my cousin arrived then went back to bed.

Had I known that August 13th would have been my last time seeing my aunt, wow, I would have done things differently. I remember listening to this episode of The Moth and this man said something like he leaves everything on the table because you never know if you'll see someone again. 

Of course, there is no such thing as a perfect ending but I have regrets. I am very glad, though, that my aunt did not die while I was overseas. Being away would have been a hard pill to swallow. As it is, I missed my cousin's text and multiple calls alerting me that several family members were at the hospital. I regret not being there for my cousin but I know that I can be present for her now. 

When I first heard the news, I was like I'm done but of course you cannot be done with life unless you take matters into your own hands or it is, in fact, your time to go. I kept thinking of a tape that I listened to by Charles Swindoll -- long time ago. He said a lot of things about attitude and he also said You cannot change that march toward death.

My aunt was 80 and that was her goal age. She had said that she didn't want to live to 100 because she was having a hard enough time doing 80. She didn't suffer and, for that, we are grateful. I am also grateful that her daughter and nephew, who was like a son to my aunt, were able to be with her and attend to her during the final moments of her life. 

I am doing my best to remain in a space of gratitude and I am also doing my best to be as supportive as possible for my cousin right now... 

My aunt was the last of my father's siblings, a sobering fact.

I find myself getting emotional in my aunt's house since there is no silence like the silence of a house after someone has died but I also find myself getting emotional on the way to work, I think, because I'm not ready for life to be business as usual.

At least, as a refugee pointed out to me, I got to see my aunt on a regular basis.

Stuff that does console me? My cousin told me that my aunt looked forward to my visits and that they meant a lot to her.

While we were planning the service, my mind wandered and thought about who invented funerals etc. There are obvious reasons -- to honor that person's life and to be surrounded by support and, oh yeah, closure because I'm still in disbelief even though:

1). I saw my cousin sign the authorization for embalming.

2). I've seen the body.

3). We've had the funeral.

4).   Been to the graveyard...

But I still want to do the "Florida Evans" in Good Times -- DamnDamnDamn. There are no do-overs and I don't get to see my aunt again.

"I came to see what he'd become, or always was—the father who will never cease to be alive in me." —from "I Wanted to Share My Father's World" by Jimmy Carter  #mondaymotivation  Thirty-nine years ago, when the 39th president of the United States was in office, my dad wrote on his list of life goals, "Talk with the President." I wonder how he'd feel knowing his newborn baby that year did that yesterday. President Jimmy Carter was 54 years old when my dad made that goal, the same age my dad was when he was killed. Yesterday, when I told him why I was meeting him, he said, "Very good." Then he shook my hand and said, "Come back down and see us again." Just before I met him, he said, "Sorry to keep you waiting." Thirty-nine years is a long time to wait, and I wish my dad could have checked off this one himself. Luckily he's still alive in me.
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Monday, August 14, 2017

Out in the Open

Someone sent me an email at work and I only read the first part of their sentence. The person ended up calling me because they needed a quick response. I love to read so I don't know why I'm quickly scanning stuff. I will concede that there is work-related stuff that I, obviously, don't want to read but... At any rate, I ended up having a conversation with the person about meditation and she said that we all need uncluttering for our minds. I like that concept and want to put meditation back on my agenda. She also sent me the "mantra" that she keeps above her desk.

Last week was a busy one. Went to Zumba -- twice, climbing and swimming (twice). Had dinner with Gloria on Thursday then we went to see Garden of Glass at the Botanical Garden. On Friday, went over to the 'Fugee's and, on Saturday, mowed the lawn and went to say my goodbyes to the city pool even though it was only 82 degrees. At the pool, talked for 30 minutes to a yogi whose path I seldom cross at the studio. At some point, also went to JC Penney because I'd gotten a spend $10 dollars, get $10 dollars off coupon and I've been looking for another short sleeve shirt to wear to work. Mission accomplished.

New Shirt
While running errands, debated about whether to go to this silent yoga event. Wasn't sure when an event of this kind would happen again so I went.

I am having time management issues. My problem? There are a lot of things that I like to do but, obviously, something suffers. I wanted to go to the city pool again on Sunday for the final day but ended up running out of time. While I got around to cooking, never did get around to washing clothes or the other chores that needed to be done.

Really enjoyed the silent, sunset yoga that took place at the gorgeous Grand Basin in Forest Park but, like a fugitive, I was very aware of how out in the open I was and even more so because the people who sponsored the yoga event are really into photography. One of them was taking very up close and personal pictures. At one point, I doubled the blanket that I had for my knees and thought she would move on as I adjusted it but, no, she stayed right where she was and got her picture. My God, I thought, she is going to capture all the flaws. I can take a gazillion selfies and post the one that I think is most flattering but I cannot control what other people post.

A Woman Chilling Out Before Yoga

Still in fugitive mode, I looked for pictures from the event and held my breath as I spotted my likeness in people's social media pictures. Also wondered how intrusive I was capturing the photo above of the woman resting before yoga.

While at the Botanical Garden, Gloria kept asking which installation was my favorite. She also asked me if I could do anything, work-wise, what it would be. As we walked about, I couldn't pinpoint a favorite glass sculpture until we'd left the Climatron and headed to the exit. I'm glad that I didn't read the map or descriptions of the artwork because I got to be blown away by Make A Wish when I figured out what was happening. It was such a moment of delight and maybe I'll get to have a similar moment when I figure out what work really rocks my boat.

Love this Chihuly in the foyer at the MO Botanical Garden.

Gloria and moi at the exhibit...

Make A Wish
This Words of Women Instagram post resonated with  me today.

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Monday, August 7, 2017

Outside Factors

Was on Instagram and saw a post about yoga at this former church which is being slowly restored and currently in use as a skate park.

Photo shoot in progress...
Not sure why I feel the need to practice in different spaces but I do and the 11:00 a.m. start time was also nice for a Sunday morning. Alison said that she was bummed about missing yoga there the last time it was offered so she met me there.

Gotta say that I was surprised when I heard a thunderous noise behind me. I didn't expect skating to go on at the same time as yoga but most teachers would say use the noise as an opportunity to practice going deeper etc. despite outside factors. At any rate, my body needed the yoga. It felt better but still feels wrecked especially after Zumba this evening...

One of the receptionists at work called me to say that I had a delivery.  I was super puzzled as I have no anniversaries etc. and just hoped it wasn't a subpoena or something. The delivery was two boxes of hot cookies.

One of our sister agencies had come to get Intel and the cookies were a thank you. I didn't eat any but it was very hard not to.

Saturday, August 5, 2017


As I left the laundromat, thought I haven't done shit today but, in actuality, I had.

Left my house around 9:45 a.m. to rendezvous with Alison on the riverfront trail for bicycling. It was close to 1:00 p.m. when we left. I also did some reading. I'm on the wait list for several books and I'm reading Heather Poole's Cruising Altitude. Since I have a major case of wanderlust right now, it's a good book for me.

The week was eventful as well.

Zumba on Monday and again on Wednesday with a pre-show of outdoor yoga. There were four things (climbing, yoga, Zumba and swimming) that I wanted to do but, of course, there was no way that I could or should do them all.

Ballpark Village Yoga Series, Photo Credit: Tammy
On Thursday, had dinner with Gloria and, on Friday, I was completely knackered.

Since it's cool-ish, took a bath to try to suss out the soreness in my body. Keeping my fingers crossed...

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Back and Forth

Alison and I went back and forth about what activity to do on Saturday. I woke up exhausted so ixnay on any possible plans to bicycle. We ended up going to Zumba and I barely made it through the hour but I was not the only one who reported feelings of exhaustion. Something in the air or collective tiredness?

From Zumba, Alison and I went to the opening of a new yoga studio. I was also joining Rosie there. Rosie and I moved on to have lunch at Frida's and even though I know it wasn't a wise thing to do, I went to Trader Joe's in the middle of the day because I was in the area. Trader Joe's wasn't bad but the parking lot was and usually is awful because of PetSmart, World Market, Target, Five Below and every other imaginable store.

Chillaxed a bit then cut the grass because, finally, the heat was not a factor or excuse...

Alison and I got a bike ride in today. We went to a new (to us) trail that was nice and flat and not crowded. Hadn't been bicycling in so long that my tires looked visibly flat so there was the exercise before the bike ride of pumping air into the tires.

After biking I went to Target and the grocery store, drank coffee then cooked and washed the dishes. Went back outside to trim down a small portion of weeds. I'm feeling outnumbered (mixed with bit of ugh) by the tasks that I need to do and then I saw this post...

Today is 29 days into finding out about the Mucosal Melanoma cancer spread.  I completed my second treatment yesterday and I'm visualizing this cancer being GONE. I've lost close to 30 pounds as we still struggle with nausea and pain, but it's in better control than two weeks ago. They placed a drain tube in my stomach so that the fluid build up and draining is more controlled.  We have palliative care nursing coming to the house so we have local in home support for pain management. I am pretty weak, unable to walk unassisted and am almost 100% dependent on my husband and Chase to help with everything.  This has been the hardest for us as a family. We are done trying to make sense out of this and we've switched gears to looking this monster in the face. Most days I spend in bed resting, taking meds, sleeping, trying to eat and just trying to keep focused on my new fight.  Chris, the kids and I are so very thankful for every prayer, comment, wish, etc. Thank you for the meals, the cards, gifts. Thank you to our Mom's who have dropped their lives to help. To my boss and staff, who have been so supportive. We will continue to draw strength from all of you.  To all of you, please do one thing for me right this minute. Look around, count your blessings, be thankful for your health, freedom and ability to enjoy your summer. It can be snagged in an instant, and I just want you all to give yourself that gift.  Love to you.❤
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