Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Thanksgiving FaceBook project

I am sitting in my kitchen, watching the wonderful snow coming down, drinking a hot toddy, and thinking about how lucky I am..... I am blown away by how incredibly blessed I am and by how many amazing people I have in my life. I was going to start the "what I am thankful for"  November FB posts early... because I have so many people and things to be thankful for. But, then I thought, I don't want to just SAY I am thankful, I want to pass it on and SHOW that I am thankful and share the blessings in my life. So, what I am going to do is: I am writing down the names of everyone in my life who I am thankful for, all the people who have meant something to me, and who have shown me so much kindness. I am going to put all the names in a mason jar, then everyday( health permitting), I am going to draw a name and do something nice for that person: take them to lunch, send a card or a care package, whatever I feel they need. I will also do a random act of kindness in honor of the person who's name I drew. I will tell them what I did in their honor. 

It seems silly and small, but it is the least I can do to start to keep the love and kindness moving forward.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Hiking the Camino de Santiago- I *might* be crazy.....

I did it. I bought a one way ticket to France. Really. Just a few strokes of the keyboard, and I am going to Paris in September. Why am I doing this??? I will be hiking the Camino de Santiago (the way of St. James).  The path I'm taking starts in the south of France and heads to Galatia, Spain. It is 500 miles, so I will be walking about 16.8 miles a day for a month... I thought three days of walking almost 20 miles a day was enough last year For the Susan G. Komen 3-Day walk, but now I will be doing it for a month. A MONTH. Or more. That's why I just bought a one-way ticket. I am determined to walk the WHOLE thing. So I am leaving some wiggle room in case of injury or fatigue.... plus I saw that there are many places to stop for wine, cheese, and bread. My favorite meal. 

Again, WHY am I doing this??? Because I like to set unreal goals for myself, listen to people doubt that I can do it, and try to talk me out of them. Then I like to do it anyway- and prove to everyone (myself included) that I can do it???  Maybe. But, mostly, I NEED to do it. I have this extraordinary gift of life, and I need to experience it- to the fullest. I have talked about my cancer a lot.... it is no secret that I am "supposed" to be nearing my end. But, here I am. Just kicking along. I will be celebrating the start of my 5th year on this trek- the year that I was not supposed to see. In a way, hiking 500 miles in Spain, seems very fitting for this "celebration"... I am here, and I have more than survived. I am such a different person than I was 5 years ago. In many ways, getting a terminal illness has made me live my life. I say YES to so many more things. I'm not afraid of what other people think of me. I tell people I LOVE YOU everyday. And I am not afraid of life anymore. I have learned that Karma really does work. Yes, I may be sick, but I have lived more in the last few years than I did the 20- something previous years. In life, you get what you give. And I have received so much from life. I hope I give enough back.... 

The other BIG reason that I am doing this is: my mom died three months ago. I miss her so much. There were days when I thought I could just curl up and die.... but, Judy would hate that. She sacrificed so much for me and my happiness. I am living the life that she could barely dream of living. I hope that I can come to peace with my mom while I am hiking. She wanted my life to be big- and it is. It is HUGE. 

And finally, I am walking to help others. I am hoping to somehow have this as a fundraiser for Friends Through the Fight( see previous post)..... I am not sure how I am going to do that, but I have creative friends who always help me. I am sponsoring my first group of friends this summer..... I am so excited. I want to help many more people. I want that to be my legacy, what I leave behind. 

I will be blogging while I am getting ready for this journey and while I am hiking. I am very excited and slightly worried that I will have to rely on just me. But, I always meet amazing people when I need them, I bet Spain won't be any different. 

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Friends Through The Fight

Four years ago I was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia. I was told I had up to five more years to live..... looking back, I think that my diagnoses was a catalyst to start really living. I have been more than blessed by the friends who I have in my life. They have made it possible to live many of my dreams. They support me, guide me, love me, humor me, and are often my "partners in crime". 

When I first got sick, I was devastated. I was in my late 20's, just earned my masters degree, had an amazing job that I loved, and was just getting to know some wonderfully fun friends. I was going to see live music every weekend, going on road trips, and just having fun. I thought that all of this would just simply stop as I got sicker and started treatments. I had no idea how awesome my friends were (are). They stepped in and made my life even more amazing. When I was really sick, I had people bring me food, magazines, books, etc. But when I felt good, we still had happy hours, still went to shows,still took many fabulous road trips, still had many long patio dates that involved drinking drinks with umbrellas and eating tons of queso. If I was in a funk, I usually had a friend show up at my doorstep with wine and a movie. I even had a surprise Christmas tree set up in my house while I was out one day..... complete with presents! I came home to my friends drinking wine and singing Christmas songs with a beautiful tree- just for me.

Two years ago I moved to Colorado. Living in a small mountain town in Colorado was always on my bucket list.... so, why not??? I am lucky that I have a job that I can do from anywhere.... so lucky. I was a little worried that I would loose touch with my friends because of the move.... that DID NOT HAPPEN AT ALL! In fact, I have gotten even closer to some people, and I have made so many wonderful friendships here in Steamboat. I know that this is where I am meant to be.

I have also been lucky enough to become better friends with some of my old high school buddies....the first birthday I spent in Steamboat, I had 3 friends from high school come to see me. It was awesome. We really had the best girls weekend ever.... margaritas, hot springs, dancing, sangria, and so much laughter.

I guess what I am saying is that I am so blessed to have amazingly wonderful, kind, generous, loving, very supportive friends..... so blessed. In the last four years my friends have been there through the hard times and the great times. They have gone on cruises with me, skydiving, hot air balloon rides,touring china, music festivals, road trips, Las Vegas, fishing, hiking, skiing, dancing, Mexico, out to wine tastings, beer dinners, movies, Alaska, helicopter rides,  and other various shenanigans. They are in on my future adventure plans as well.... Tibet, another cruise, a half marathon, and whatever else I may get inspired to do! 

They have also traveled with me to the mayo clinic, hospitals, doctors offices, and they have held my hand through so many hard times. They have shaved my head, taken care of my puppies, cleaned my house, and just plain listened when I was loosing my sanity. They bring me soup, comfort me through all of my fears, and tell me that they love me. That I am not alone and that I will never be alone. 

I really don't know how I got so lucky to have these amazing strong people in my life. I know that because of them, I am living the best life I can. I want to give these experiences to everyone who is struggling with cancer. My dream is to have a charity for young adults. A young adult make-a-wish, if you will. I want someone who is ill to be able to take her friends on a three day weekend to Vegas before her treatments start. Or someone to take her friends on a cruise to celebrate the fact that she is still alive and kicking. Or someone to be able to take his friends to New York and see the ball drop on New Years because, hey, this might be his last year, or get a puppy for someone and pay for food, vet bills, etc,.... you get the point.

Starting this charity is on my list of things to do before I can't. I always talked about that this is what I wanted with my life insurance money when I'm not here anymore. BUT, I decided to start it now..... why not??? I am calling it Friends Through The Fight. I have a fundraiser in February at Rex's Grill and silent auction. I have an amazing photographer who is going to take pictures for posters and for publicity.... I have big dreams and hopes for this. I know that if I have my friends backing me, anything is possible. 
My tree from my friends the first year I was diagnosed.... and Millie as a puppy:0) 

Sweet Lisa shaving my head for the first time.

Katie Bug just being an amazing friend and telling me that I was beautiful even with no hair and burn on my head.

Just having fun with some of my girls at one of my many goodbye Texas parties......

amy visiting Steamboat! 

Erica on one of her many visits.... celebrating my birthday! yay for friends and birthdays! 

Amy and I on my very first cruise! 

Me and Cindi hiking to fish creek on her 2nd visit.

right before i took my first hot air balloon ride~ so fun! 

The Paytons first visit. Can't wait until March for them to come again! 

I stayed in a YURT in Alaska. A dream come true. 

My first heli ride. 

MeXiCo. I want to be there right now. 

China with Whitney. :0)

These are just SOME of my amazing adventures I have had with amazing people. I look forward to many more..... and I look forward to helping others get to have adventures with their friends. Here's to making wonderful memories with wonderful people. 

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Millie and Lola

Millie and Lola.... the little loves of my life. My friends know that I love my dogs...... they are like my children. I think I would be lost without them. I do spoil them (a LOT).... but they spoil me more. They love me more than I deserve. 


Millie came into my life when I needed her the most. I did not know how much I needed her unconditional love and friendship at the time. In fact, I was hesitant to have a dog right then. I grew up with dogs and I was looking at getting one sometime.... like when my life was calm and I had time to properly train and care for a pet. Ha. Life has a way of giving you what you need when you need it,even if you don't know what you need. Thank God. 

My parents brought Millie to me two years ago at Thanksgiving. I was living in Fort Worth and had just started my first round of chemo. I had no idea how I was going to take care of myself, much less how I was going to take care of a puppy. But my mom really wanted to give me a puppy~ so they came from Los Alamos to Fort Worth for Thanksgiving with my Millie.That Thanksgiving day was a big blur. I was so sick and throwing up constantly.....I could not get up to go to a restaurant or to cook anything. My parents went across the street to Starbucks, bought some sandwiches, coffee, and gingerbread cake. They ate their Thanksgiving meal at my card table while I slept on the couch with Millie. That little furry thing was so cute and she knew that she was MY puppy..... she did not want to get down from my lap for anything. She just slept the day away with me.

 From the moment Millie came to me, she has been at my side. Sleeping with me while I am sick, curled on the bathroom floor while I am nauseous, and always comforting me. To this day, she knows when I am sick and can't play.... she gets really calm and just sleeps in my lap. She listens to me when I am upset and crying~ she licks my tears.....and waits so patiently until I am ready to play again. I often say she is my little guardian angel. I just love her so much. And I am so grateful that I get to be her puppy mommy for as long as she is here. 


Lola came into my life last January. I thought Millie needed someone to love and play with when I am not here. So, Lola came to live with us. She is a little ball of energetic sunshine. Little Lola is so sweet... and funny. While Millie is calm and patient with me, Lola makes me enjoy this life. She is so playful, loving, and forgiving. 

When I got Lola, I was making a HUGE change in my life. I had resigned from my teaching job (which I loved) to move to Colorado. Ever since I moved to Texas, I have missed the mountains SOOOO much. I was so sick and so unhappy~ I needed a change, something big to jump ~start my life and give me a reason to want to enjoy the things that I am blessed with. Even though I may not be blessed with a lot of time, I needed to find myself again so I could do what I knew I needed to do with my life. And Colorado seemed to be the answer. (p.s.... I know I have made the right choice~ I will blog about THAT soon). 

So, since I was making this HUGE change in my life, I decided I needed a puppy. Really. I picked Lola up one COLD day in January~ I packed Millie up in my car and I drove to Oklahoma to get my little Lola. I just knew from the moment I saw her that she was my puppy. I needed her. I needed her love of life, her fearlessness, her joy about EVERYTHING. I call her Lola Love... and she is. She is a little ball of love. She loves everything and everyone. There is NOTHING that she won't try at least once. I think everyone could learn something from her. 

I know that I have been a lot more active since my little white puppy came into my life. She is so full of energy that she makes me play.... and I need that a lot. Instead of saying to myself "I am sick, I should stay in bed"... I look at her little face and I know I can't disappoint her. I end up taking her to play in the dog park, and I never regret the walks, hikes, swims, etc. that I have taken because of her. She is a true joy to my life.


"Dogs come into our lives as "just" a pet, but before we know it they become drinking buddies, shrinks, playmates, cheerio-munching vacuum cleaners, alarm clocks, sleeping partners, and best friends. And in their mysterious and muttish ways, they become our teachers."

I LOVE my dogs. I really believe that they help me live my life to fullest. I wonder what other lessons, adventures, and joys I will discover while I am given the honor of taking care of these wonderful little creatures. 


Friday, November 19, 2010

Joshua James and Alexi Murdoch

Music has always been an important part of my life. One of my favorite, and first, memories of my brother Andy is his music. I recall driving down Grand Canyon Drive in my parents blue mini van while Andy was BLASTING Led Zeppelin. I felt SO cool to be in the car with Mr. LAHS, windows down, music up, while he was pretending that the steering wheel was a drum set. My love of rock was born. Thanks to both of my brothers I had a good dose of the greats: The Beatles, Neil Young, Bob Dillon, The Doors, Clapton, Grateful Dead, REM, and so many more. Every time I here a song from that era, I feel so close to my brothers. 

Music has a power over me... it can bring me back to a time and a place. I can't listen to "Turn Around" without going straight back to high school. When I hear Chicago or Journey, I think about Kate, Erica, Hilary, Jenn, Steph, and all of my high school BFF's. Eagle's "Desperado" brings me back to one tearful night when I was 16 and heartbroken for the very first time because of a (dumb) boy. When I hear "Sail Away" I miss all of my T.I.P. sisters from McMurry (Rutha Rocka Socka). And Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline" will always be my mom's song. When I am in a bad mood there is nothing more reassuring than listening to some slow melodies.... Joni Mitchel's Blue album is great for that. 

I have been through A LOT of changes and hard times these past few years...... and music has been my saving grace (along with tons of AMAZING friends.....). Last year at this time, I was trying to decide if I really wanted to move to Steamboat. I knew that I needed a big change and I wanted to love life again. I did not know myself anymore, and I was afraid that I was dying, and I knew that I had so much on my "bucket list" left to do. I did not want to leave my friends, but I knew that they would be my friends no matter what..... so I had to at least try. I decided to visit Steamboat over Christmas and see how I liked it. I dreamed of mountains, snow, music, new friends, better health, and peace. 

So, I bought two c.d's on impulse.... Joshua James and Alexi Murdoch's soundtrack for Away We Go.  I have absolutely NO explanation for why I did this. I have always been impulsive and I DO believe in wishes and fairy-tails. And somehow I believed that listening to these songs would help me in some way. For the past two years the Avett Brothers, Gillian Welch, Greensky Bluegrass, Mumford and Sons, OCM, Patty Griffin, The Weepies, Frightened Rabbit, Kings of Leon, Railroad Earth,  and so many more have been the soundtrack to my cancer and my life. So I really felt like I need these two new c.d's for my road-trip from Fort Worth to Steamboat. They would be the new music for my new journey. 

I listened to that music THE WHOLE trip here. Over and over. I think I even wrote some of the lyrics down as my Face Book status. It seemed like at every point on my trip that I needed to hear something, I heard it. And as I drove up Rabbit Ears Pass, I heard this:

Feel I'm on the verge of some great trail
Where I'm finally in my place

And I took it as truth.

I just pulled those two c.d's out again. I have been playing them everyday since the snow has started up..... and I am remembering all of the feelings that I had a year ago. I was so sad to leave my friends. And at the same time I was SOOOOO happy to be moving forward and doing something for me. To me, these songs that are on these c.d's will always remind me of change and re-birth. Hope, fear, sadness, and hope. Promise for a future. I have hope that I have a promise a future. I listen to my future in music everyday.