The Flight of Lovely Dragonflies

Cincinnati, OH— Emmy Award-winning New York Times Well columnist, cancer survivor and health advocate, Suleika Jaouad will be featured at an event to benefit The Dragonfly Foundation on May 8, 2014 from 6-9 PM at ADC Art Fine Art’s “Gallery in the Sky”.

Suleika Jaouad is the writer of The New York Times Column, “Life, Interrupted”—which chronicles her own journey through cancer. In addition, the video series that accompanies her column earned her a 2013 News & Documentary EMMY award win. Suleika and her mom, renowned artist Anne Francey, will be the featured speakers at “Life, Interrupted: The Lovely Flight of Dragonflies” event to benefit The Dragonfly Foundation of Cincinnati.

The Dragonfly Foundation’s mission is to bring comfort and joy to kids and young adults enduring cancer and bone marrow transplants. The Dragonfly Foundation provides support to patients (and their families) from their date of diagnosis until they are 5-years free of their disease. Dragonflies range in age from birth to age 30. The Dragonfly Foundation also enhances quality of life programs at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center’s Cancer & Blood Diseases Institute.

To view the video from Suleika’s EMMY award-winning “Life, Interrupted” series, which inspired this event: “A Family Gets Cancer” please click HERE.

Local Dragonfly Maya “the Magnificent” Collins will also be a special guest, as she and Suleika have formed a special bond through following each other’s journeys with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML).

“Life, Interrupted: The Flight of Lovely Dragonflies” will take place at ADC Fine Art aka Cincinnati’s “Gallery in the Sky” at 310 Culvert St. Suite 501, Cincinnati, OH 45202.

Tickets are $25—a limited supply of 200—are available through The Dragonfly Foundation. Both Anne Francey and Maya the Magnificent will have art available for sale at the event, with a portion of the proceeds benefit the Dragonfly Foundation.

For inquiries about the Life, Interrupted: The Flight of Lovely Dragonflies event, contact Joules Evans at joules@joulesevans.com or 513.265.4063. For information about The Dragonfly Foundation, visit the website at www.dragonfly.org. For more information about Suleika Jaouad, visit her website at www.suleikajaouad.com. Follow @Suleikajaouad on Instagram and Twitter.

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[Reposting this from The SCAR Project Blog, which I manage for The SCAR Project.]

THE SCAR PROJECT ANNOUNCES TORONTO PREMIERE OF THE INTERNATIONAL EXHIBITION—MARCH 28-APRIL 6, 2014

SCAR ImageMarch 3, 2014—The SCAR Project, the groundbreaking photographic exhibition created by fashion photographer David Jay is set to premiere March 28 at Edward Day Gallery, 952 Queen St West, Toronto Ontario.

The SCAR Project is a series of large-scale portraits of young breast cancer survivors. On the surface an awareness raising campaign for young women, The SCAR Project’s deeper message is one of humanity. Ultimately, The SCAR Project is not about breast cancer, but the human condition itself; the images transcend the disease, illuminating the scars that unite us all.

Sponsored by Rethink Breast Cancer, the world-renowned exhibition will open this year’s Breast Fest on March 28, 2014. This marks the first time the exhibition will be shown to Canadian audiences. The gallery will be open for public viewing March 28-April 6 (closed Sunday and Monday). Gallery hours are Tuesday-Saturday, 10:00 am – 6:00 pm, Sunday by appointment. Admission is free.

A screening of the EMMY Award winning documentary about The SCAR Project: Baring It All will be shown at the Bloor Hotdocs Cinema at 3:30pm on Sunday, March 30. Tickets are $10. A Q&A session with David Jay will follow the screening.www.breastfest.ca.

For more information please contact :

Jennifer Rashwan, Touchwood PR  416.593.0777 x 205,jennifer@touchwoodpr.com

Alma Parvizian, Touchwood PR     416.593.0777 x 202,alma@touchwoodpr.com

For more information on The SCAR Project visit the website:www.thescarproject.org and www.thescarprojectblog.com. Follow @thescarproject on Twitter and Facebook.

For more information on Rethink Breast Cancer visitwww.rethinkbreastcancer.com

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When Reality Takes a Bite

February 25, 2014 — 1 Comment

[My first attempt at spoken word. Rough cut and raw. A poem for my beautiful friend V, who put the V in living sincerely.]

When Reality Takes a Bite

Sometimes reality is sweet

LIke a Gala apple

aka a party in your mouth

if you do the semantics.

Here’s some antics

—When my mother-in-law eats an apple

She doesn’t just eat the apple

She eats the core

Which is pretty much the definition of sucking the marrow

When it comes to eating apples.

(Hard core to the “Outlaw.”)

—My husband dressed up as Johnny Appleseed once when he was a boy.

All he did was stick a pan on his head

And he went trick-or-treating like that

But boy he raked it in.

Sometimes life is sweet like that.

And maybe there’s some genetic predisposition to it all?

I don’t know this but

I do know #thatawkward moment there’s a worm in your apple.

Neither half of the apple

Nor the worm in your mouth

is sweet.

And there ‘aint enough tequila to knock that sucker back.

Cuz sometimes reality

it.

fucking.

Bites.

And you try and spit it out

Cuz it’s too hard to swallow.

Like when the doctor calls and you feel the tug of the rug

Pulled right out from under your reality

With ONE word.

My word began with a big damn C.

I don’t know what your word begins with.

All I know is…

Sticks and stones my ass. 

That one God-damned word

Knocked all three of my kids down

To the ground

on August 20, 2008

at 5 o’clock.

We were huddled around the phone

When it rang.

I dropped the phone

After the doctor said the word cancer

Because my kids fell sobbing, to the floor

And I needed both hands to do the math:

1 lap, 2 arms, 3 kids

2 breasts

but they’d have to go

(salute)

but they did their job.

And if you read my book then you know they were hot

Like the tears falling down my kids faces

When I gathered them up off the floor and drew them into my bosom

One last time.

And I wanted to pay the archer to shoot the crab

Cuz it’s God-damned pinchers woke up my babies

To this reality.

I’m a Libra so this seemed a just-ified sentence.

Oh, for the gavel big enough to take down the big damn C.

(Rock-paper-ROCK) bigger stones have been rolled away.

(Rock-paper-SCISSORS) don’t stop believing’! Let’s cut this shit out!

(Rock-paper-PAPER) show me the CURE.

And not just the pink one

But the greens and the blues

All of the hues

Even the Walter Whites.

Everybody trying to Livestrong.

But especially the kids.

Oh brother where art thou gavel?

Cancer is a

Cancer is a bitch wine

I’ll drink to that.

I can testify to that.

Cancer. is. a. bitch.

But especially, when it picks on kids.

A couple of weeks ago I went to a little girl’s funeral

She was 8 years, 7 months, 9 days YOUNG.

The Piano Man said “Only the good die young”

And on days like that I believe him.

Days like that I wanna slam that damn gavel down

God (slam) Damn (slam) Cancer (slam)

Amen.

She’s resting now.

But there’s no rest, for the rest

No peace

Till we make war on cancer

—All the cancers

And knock them all down one by one

Like dominoes.

That same day

The day I witnessed that gross injustice

Of a young mother beside herself beside her little girl’s casket

And I’m here

—If I’m here for any reason

—And there has to be a reason

—I’m. still. Here.

to testify

to such

gross

injustice.

That same day

That. same. damn. day.

A man

(he happens to be my age)

And has a son

Who hangs out with my sons.

Well that day that boy lost his daddy

To the same damn cancer that poisoned Apple.

Because there isn’t an app for that yet.

The evening of that same day

I visited a beautiful friend of mine who is dying

from the same damn pink elephant of a cancer

that doubles as a pink monkey on my back.

I took her some groceries

But no apples.

She didn’t ask for any and I didn’t buy any.

Her husband said maybe some Lucky Charms.

So I brought the biggest damn box I could find, and some milk.

And since Valentine’s Day was around the corner—

Which feels very far away when your friend is dying—

I found a Dorie from Finding Nemo Pez dispenser—

Which seems like a funny Valentine—

But I never ever saw anyone keep on swimming

Like she kept on, keeping on swimming.

But I know how this story goes and I know she finds Nemo.

I’ve been taking my time

Eating mine

But my Pez dispenser is empty.

Oh, my heart.

This scar.

And this scar

Beneath the pink ribbon

Beneath this big c

(I copy”write” that shit)

I used to suck on a green apple Jolly Rancher

To keep me from the hurly burleys

From the tin taste when they accessed the port

To pour in the poison

—24 chemo cocktails

Damn, bartender.

Still…paying that big damn tab.

You’d think I hate green apple Jolly Ranchers by now

But I don’t.

They remind me I’m alive.

And that sometimes even when reality bites

It can be sweet.

And I’m thankful they “handled” the aftertaste”

Of accessing the port

Cuz that poison “handled” the cancer.

God damn cancer.

Where’s that gavel?

*******

My beautiful friend died at 8:04 yesterday morning.

Yesterday…

Today…

Tomorrow.

Reality

Really

Fucking

Bites.

I-can-barely-swallow-i-can-barely-breathe-i-feel-like-i-am-choking-on-this-damn-apple

I can try and spit it out all I want

—And I want

But there it is

Right here

on the floor next to me.

I can try and wipe away the bitter aftertaste

But I don’t have any sleeves.

And even if I did,

The spooge would be on my sleeve.

I’d still smell it.

I can try and step on it

Smash it into the ground

This same ground

But we’ve been there before

It stuck on my shoe

And all I did was make a little

Applesauce.

I can try to kick it.

Been there, done that

Made a mess.

And it’s going to take more than Bounty to wipe up this mess and put it

In the trashcan.

I wish it were that easy.

But fuck easy.

Fuck cancer.

If Dorie can find Nemo

Surely we can find a cure.

Beauty Mark

February 23, 2014 — 5 Comments

[This morning at 8:04 my beautiful friend Vanessa took flight "to be with stars and clouds in the sky" as that hard but beautiful text whispered into my ear when I awoke. All words like that must be whispered because there is never enough air to really say things like that out loud. And such things deserve that quiet kind of reverence. I will write a proper tribute to honor V at the proper time and when I have caught my breath. For now I don't feel like gasping for air or grasping for words. For now I shall hold my breath and commune with her in that space. For now, here's all I got.]

V's Wave

I will miss you V.
But I will see you waving
When birds are flying

In V formation.
Soaring sincerely, soaring
Like they do. Like you.

What Are You Manifesting?

February 21, 2014 — 1 Comment

I couldn’t help but smile, which helped me relax a little, when she started handing out post-it notes. I love post-it notes. I’m forever putting those sticky reminders all over the Evanshire to try and help me remember shit. Lists. Prayer requests. Blog fodder. Vlog ideas. Quotes. Addresses. Dr. appts. Songs I want to download. People I need to thank. Writing ideas….

Post-its

But I’d never even thought of using them as an icebreaker before. BAM! Already got my first takeaway from Jen Pastiloff’s Manifestation Retreat that I was on, and we had barely taken our seats, cross-legged, on the floor, side by side, forming a large circle. Like a tribe. At which point Jen handed out smiley face colored post-it notes, each pregnant with possibility, all of them glowing like a blank pages do. Expectant. Waiting to be written.

“What are you manifesting?”

The way Jen threw down those 4 little words was a lot like Bobby Flay throwing down one of his challenges, with some Heisenberg mixed in: Wanna cook? Just. to. shake. things. up. But shaken, not stirred.

I’d driven for 2 days to come to Jen’s yoga/writing retreat in the Berkshires, to kickstart the writing process for a couple projects I was was ready to dive into. I was manifesting a prequel, of sorts, to my cancer memoir, SHAKEN NOT STIRRED…A CHEMO COCKTAILAnd also a sequel, of sorts.

Jen told us to write down what we were manifesting that weekend on the Post-it notes, and then to get up and go stick them in the middle of the circle of the tribe of beautiful souls we hadn’t met yet, but would walk beside, that weekend during Jen’s Manifestation Workshop.

We’d all come to Manifest a certain goal or dream aka to make that shit happen, the way Jen breaks down the word Manifest so there were 40 Post-it notes in the middle of our pow WOW. We’d made it rain Post-it notes. And they were written.

Mine said, HOMESCHOOL HAPPY HOUR…IT’S 5 O’CLOCK SOMEWHERE, KIDS! And, BOTTOMS UP…”GETTING OVER” CANCER. 

I’d post a picture of it, but I don’t have it. After all the Post-its were out there, sitting there like yellow badges of courage, Jen told us each to get up and grab a Post-it that wasn’t our own. To keep. To remember. To hold what they are manifesting UP. I purposely chose the last yellow badge of courage left on the floor. I do fortune cookies this way too. I could explain, but then we’d end up falling down some rabbit hole. And also I’d probably get hungry thinking about that cookie too much. And squirrel! Like that, this post would be history. So thankfully this post is about Post-its, which are sticky reminders. So hopefully I’ll remember to stay on task. Like I’m remembering the yellow badge of courage I brought home with me, and the beautiful soul behind the badge. It is hanging on a wall in my office, where I keep Post-its of prayer requests and peeps I pray for.

And one of those beautiful souls has mine. But I believe they are all cheering me on, as I am them, as we all are each other. Like a tribe.

“If you knew who walked beside you at all times on this path which you have chosen, you would never experience fear or doubt.”

In honor of that, and in light of that which I was/am manifesting, I thought I’d throw down a possible prologue, of sorts, for the project on the front burner, my homeschool/parenting memoir: HOMESCHOOL HAPPY HOUR… IT’S 5 O’CLOCK SOMEWHERE, KIDS!

Prologue

Skyfall

The first time I saw my first book, SHAKEN NOT STIRRED… A CHEMO COCKTAIL had finally hatched on Amazon after 18 months of blogging my way through breast cancer, 8 months of writing, and 11 months of editing, it was as if the heavens opened up and I felt so way up high that I thought I really could see somewhere over that rainbow where dreams really do come true… and then I read the fine print. Or rather, the fine misprint in the form of a parenthetical aside to the title: (Volume I). That’s when the sky fell. I was definitely not in the mood for a volume II, to my breast cancer memoir, if you know what I mean.

I got the kink worked out with Amazon, but I guess it’s a fairly reasonable thing that people, whether or not they saw the Amazon typo, started asking me, “When does the sequel come out?” Or, “Is this one going to be STIRRED NOT SHAKEN? Um, no. That wouldn’t be very James Bond of me, now, would it? The truth is, the mere thought of another volume, another chemo cocktail, is where I channel my inner Chicken Little and can picture the sky fall.

Which I can totally imagine being the theme song (and a Bond song to boot) if I were to write that sequel. Which, this is not, thank God, and God willing, may I never have the unfortunate occasion to have that sequel to write.

The last time I saw the sky fall and I found myself smack dab in the middle of my hopefully one and only breast cancer memoir, it fell on top of me and nearly took me out. Literally. It almost killed me.

Like I wrote in the prologue of that hopefully one and only breast cancer memoir, I’ve always been a writer and I have always dreamed of writing books ever since I cracked the code and learned to read. I just never ever would’ve could’ve imagined the story I’d have to, quite literally, “get off my chest” and that would become the subject, not to mention, the antagonist, of my first book. Which, in an ironic twist of fate thanks to the genre gods, landed it in the disease section of Barnes & Noble. This is not the end either, though. Let the books fall where they may. It’s still a dream come true. Not to mention…the last page was not the end of my story. Spoiler alert: the hero of the story is somewhere once upon a time in a not-a-chemo-cocktail kind of a sequel, hopefully a series.

But this is not the end…of that story. Even I’m still wondering what happens next. I mean, c’mon. It’s a memoir not a novel. I don’t write the plot. I just try and go with the flow, enjoying the ride, sharing moments and making memories with the people I love, collecting new friends along the way, keeping a decent travel journal, taking lots of pictures, and sending plenty of postcards.

This is what came before that story. B.C. or before cancer, the prequel to SHAKEN NOT STIRRED…A CHEMO COCKTAIL, which chronicles my “cancer era” or C.E., or my life A.D., after diagnosis, if you will.

Before I became radioactive with a chance of superpowers, using them to fight cancer and also to write, I had some big ass glasses like Clark Kent or Fearless Fly and was holding down a pretty cozy job with ridiculous crazy hours as an accidental homeschool mom.

Back then I taught writing more than I wrote; although I wrote whenever I could, read about writing in all the great books on writing not to mention the classics I assigned my Redheads to read, thought about writing while grading papers, and dreamt about writing one day when we all graduated and I retired.

This is the book I thought I would write first. Kinda my “Confessions of a Homeschool Mom.” After they were all successfully situated in college and I was pretty sure they had all survived homeschool safe and relatively sound.

I was so enchanted with that story and the development of my three main characters that the plot twist when the sky fell and I almost didn’t survive homeshooling not to mention, my life, caught this supporting character by surprise. There’d been no forshadowing. But the sky fell anyway, and when it did there was nothing we could do but let it. So we let it. But on our knees. And together. Before cancer was the unfortunate subject of my book, it was the most unfortunate subject in our homeschool. But it wasn’t the only subject in our homeschool; although in a sense, it tested everything that had gone before the sky fell. Before cancer. So BC is where the confessions of this homeschool mom begins. And might as well start at the very beginning, before BC, to the A. Which comes first in the alphabet. Which is one of the very first things kids learn in school.

Chapter 1 (Cue Jackson 5)

ABC 

Easy as 1-2-3. This was not the first thought that crossed my mind the first time my husband, Dave, brought up the idea of homeschooling our children to me when I was pregnant with our first child. First of all, I hadn’t actually even heard of homeschooling back in 1990 when I was knee deep in What To Expect When You’re Expecting despite the fact that I couldn’t even see my knees for the belly. My first thought was more like, “What the F is homeschool? Then Do-Re-Who-Me?” Then I pretty much summed things up when I hyperventilated, which was a perfect time to practice my Lamaze breathing techniques he he he hahahahahahahaha.

It seems appropriate to end on that note since I only intended to give a little teaser to chapter one.

So this is me, taking the next step and throwing down a shitty first draft of a possible beginning to my next book. BAM! That’s what I’m manifesting. That’s the shit I’m trying to make happen. That’s me, trying to do what I was created to do, what love compels me do. Like Jen says,

“At the end of your life, when you say one final ‘What have I done?’ let your answer be, I have done love.”

I have done love

What about you? What are you manifesting? Please share in the comments, or send me an email, or If you want to write it on a Post-it note and snail mail it to me, I will stick it on my wall.

 

Road Trip to Kripalu

February 10, 2014 — Leave a comment

1510884_10202384062754761_1474129807_nA few months ago I was up late counting sheep, when some shit I’d been dealing with must’ve hit the ceiling fan over my bed and started splatting all over the sheep, spotting them like 101 Dalmatians. Which kinda felt like a spoiler alert to the sleeping game I was trying to win. So I stopped counting shitty sheep and I prayed a little. Which is probably what I should’ve been doing about my shit in the first place instead of kicking it around a bit, and then, kicking myself for making such a mess. I’m assuming we all know how messy metaphorical shit can get when you kick it around. Now, I know I’m not supposed to go assuming, but I figure it’s legit in this case, since there’s no such thing as a shit vaccine. I don’t think there is a sequel or grown-up version of the children’s book, Everyone Poops. But I could see it being called something like, Everybody is Full of Shit. Well, at least, I know I am, on a pretty “regular” basis.

Anyway, after all of that ruckus I sort of pulled it together a bit. I wasn’t in the mood to go back to counting sheep quite yet so I woke up my computer, and Googled: “yoga, writing, cancer, retreat” to see where it would lead. Yeah, that third word is some of the shit I was dealing with. The first two are a couple of ways I try to deal. And the last word sounded like a good thing to do when you’re up to your sleepy eyeballs dealing with your own shit.

poster-yoga-cat-med

Google threw down an article Jen wrote for LIVESTRONG called “7 Reasons To Go On A Yoga Retreat”.  No shit.  This was my introduction Jen Pastiloff and her Manifestation Retreats. It didn’t take me long, after falling head over heels into the lovely vortex that is Jen’s tribe, from the Gateway of that LIVESTRONG article, to Facebook stalking her, and then staying up all night watching her YouTube channel, to realize (become enlightened;) that Manifesting is aka Making Shit Happen, in Jen speak. Which, translated, meant that of course I had to go. I hadn’t tried manifesting my shit before so I thought I’d give it a “swirly”.

I’d already practically nodded my head off, agreeing with her 7 reasons I should go on a yoga retreat. As if, in fact, my body was, literally, saying YES. So I booked the next available Manifestation retreat, which meant packing up my shit for a road-trip to Kripalu in January. I don’t usually buy gifts for myself but this was a gift I needed to give myself. I saw it as the perfect diving board into 2014—a gift, which, 5 years ago when I was diagnosed with cancer, I never even imagined. It was time to re-imagine, cast a vision, set course, and dive in. Head first. No tiptoeing about it.

IMG_2346

When I first walked in the door, I had a pretty intense moment of truth. I didn’t know anybody. And, I’m actually super shy. Luckily I have blue hair, so I don’t think anybody noticed my knees shaking like green Jell-O when I walked across the room like Gumby and plopped down to join the tribe 40 women sitting in a circle, like lotuses blooming. As bold a display as it was a beautiful bouquet.

“If you knew who walked beside you at all times on this path which you have chosen, you would never experience fear or doubt.” Jen kept repeating this quote as we went around the circle introducing ourselves to one another. Over the weekend we got to know who walked beside us. We unrolled our mats, unpacked our shit, turned it on its smelly ear in down dog, wrote down the bones, made them dance, shared our stories and our dreams, tore up our excuses, became friends, and each other’s fans. We spent the weekend as beauty hunters, making lists and lists of our #5mostbeautifulthings. This is one of the most. fun. games. EVER. We shared our beautiful things, but we also shared our shit—because love is messy like that sometimes, but that doesn’t make it any less beautiful.

Shit happens. To everybody.  Except when you’re constipated. And then you just sit on the toilet reading Leaves of Grass for what feels like forever; meanwhile shit’s just taking its own sweet time while you’re sitting there waiting for the shit to go down. Oh, shit’s gonna go down. And sometimes it’s going to hit the fan.

Shit happens. But so does beauty, and what if it hits the fan? Does it leave a beauty mark or make a beautiful mess? Sometimes you get dealt a shitty hand but sometimes you double down or play a wildcard and beat the dealer. Sometimes you’re up shit creek but at least you’re on a boat. You may not have a paddle, but at least you’re sipping red wine in your flippie-floppies with your girls on deck. Anything is possible. Even making good shit happen. Which is pretty much what a Manifestation Retreat, what Jen Pastiloff, is all about.

Post road trip to Kripalu, I’d have to say, that the shit that drove me there, and the beauty I came away with, are two sides of the same coin. I put so much pressure on myself to not waste this gift of life, but to hopefully leave a beauty mark—that I was here. This is what keeps me up in the middle of the night. I put so much pressure on myself not to waste a second of the gift of time that I’ve been given, but to spend myself, paying forward the gratitude I feel all the way down to my yoga toes—by making it count that I was here. This is what keeps me up in the middle of the night. I don’t ever want to take for granted the gift of a single breath, but sometimes I forget to breathe. This is why I drove to Kripalu. I don’t ever want to take for granted the gift of a heart that beats, or forget what it beats for. This is why I drove to Kripalu.

Jen summed it up best when she wrapped up our time together with these words, this mantra: “At the end of your life, when you say one final ‘What have I done?’ let your answer be, I have done love.”

#iamlove

That’s all.

(Except for the part where I express my gratitude to Jen, Kripalu, and the tribe. Peace, love, and namaste. *bows to your unapologetic awesomeness. Xoxo.)

What’s the Word?

January 19, 2014 — 1 Comment

Courage

For a couple years now, I’ve been spending the first few rings and a ding after the New Year’s come calling, hibernating. Partly because I’m not really made for the winter. But mostly because I like to take a little time to flip through the brand spanking new calendar. Partly to count down the days till summer. But mostly to dream about where the new year will take me, and to plot a course to try and make them come true. “Always aim for the Moon, even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.” I like that quote. It eggs me on. And I love being egged on. Anyway, my friend Julie Sweeney is the one who got this particular egg rolling for me a couple of years ago. In her post to uncork 2012, she suggested thinking of “a single word to represent a focus of intention for the new year.” That year was easy. I don’t know if it was cheating or not, but a couple of dear friends had given me the word RIPPLE, independently, and within days of each other. So I went took it as a beautiful sign and went for it. Last year was also a piece of cake because my sweet Amanda gave me the word WELL, which she had gotten for me in a prayer. This year has been a little scary because I’ve had to come up with my own. (If you’ve ever asked me to make a decision, like where we should go out to eat, you know what I mean;) (Also, there are just so many fun words out there. How to choose? And not hurt all the other words’s feelings!) So I’ve been thinking like crazy here in hibernation speed.

CourageAmanda and I have spent quite a bit of time talking about our words for the year. I was a little torn between a couple I had been flipping coins over: Heads was COURAGE; tails was Still… (with the ellipsis, because I have a thing about ellipses;) Anyway, the reason I was thinking about still… was because I’m still… here… which is a gift, I know. It delights me, humbles me, and scares the shit out of me, all at the same time. I’ve lost and continue to lose so many beautiful friends to this bitch of a disease, and every time, it rips out my heart and leaves me lonely. It’s a terribly delicate matter, balancing this grief, with the deep gratitude I feel for the gift of being here, still…. I don’t want to waste such a precious gift. Which is probably why I have such a hard time sitting still….

Courage

The reason I almost didn’t choose COURAGE was because I was afraid. It’s such a bold word. I wasn’t sure if I really have the heart. I’m still… not sure. But something clicked when I sat down to write a sonnet for the New Year, to help work out my thoughts for this piece. When I told Amanda that one of the words I was considering was courage, she lit up bright like the sunshine we’re missing here in Cincinnati, since it lives in Denver, because that’s the word she chose for herself! When I asked her to tell me why she chose it, she simply said, “I know I’m gonna need a lot of courage this year” moving away from home, starting their once upon a time in Denver. I kind of feel the same way, coming back home, starting our once upon a time in an empty nest. Bold or not, I definitely need some of that courage, in all caps. For this empty nest phase, and because, still…. That ellipsis is a pretty groovy diving board, off into a New Year, but the more I thought about it I realized how audacious it would be to take a leap off an ellipsis. You’d pretty much have to fly or you’d end up splat landing on one of the never-ending dots. And you’d have to know how to land too, or you could squish one of the dots, or worse, knock them out of line.

Courage

So heads it is. COURAGE. Appropriate, methinks, since heads up is kinda like saying “Chin up.” Which it takes courage to keep it up sometimes. I don’t look at it like tails lost either. Tails kicked my ass. But sometimes we all need a little kick in the as to encourage us to keep our chin up. Or at least I do sometimes. Normally, I think I’m kinda happy-go-lucky. As far as the lucky part, I don’t need much encouragement in that department since I’m pretty much the luckiest girl in the world. As for the go part, ask Dave, I don’t need any encouragement in the go department. I. Love. to travel. Have a wonderful case of the wanderlust. As far as the happy part, well, I feel like I’m one of the happiest peeps I know. Part of that lucky part undoubtedly plays in here, since I come by it honestly, via the disposition I was created with. Still, I struggle with staying encouraged all the time. I think I’m a pretty decent encourager of others. I am super easily encouraged, but discouragement sometimes also happens. Usually I can reason with myself and find encouragement in the Bible or really any true words that speaks courage to me, whatever the source. But sometimes finding encouragement is the part where I struggle. Probably because I get tired sometimes. I do have a pretty epic chin (that I can do a pretty good Stan Laurel impression with:p Sometimes I guess I just need somebody to speak courage into me, to lift my chin up, to kick me in the ass when needed, to tell me to “Go Bold, baby”, to dare me to be daring, to egg me on toward audaciousness.

Courage

This is why I chose COURAGE for my word this year. I’m gonna need a boatload of it. (Especially right now, with these inner ear issues continuing to make me feel like I’m on a boat.) I’d love to hear all my lovely peeps’ words and the whys. Please feel free to share in the comment section. And link your blogs if you have one. Then we can egg each other on! Who’s in? What’s the word?

Here’s my sonnet, to wrap up my thoughts on my word.

The Year of Courage

(Sonnet #2014)

I know fear. Needle sticks of the red devil

Swung me low but only broke the wishbone.

High Five! …6…Time to pick up sticks. Revel—

Put ‘em together. Make a beat of my own.

I know fear. Been stoned on chemo cocktails—

The bar tab broke me but I had a lampshade

On my bald head. Devil was in the details

But God bent down and scribbled in the sand.

I know fear. A 6-letter word, NINE points

Tried to end my SCRABBLE career: “Game Over.”

But the fat lady didn’t sing Wa-wa-once

And I still have words to play, moreover.

Words to overflow my thought clouds: “Fear Not”

Splashing into my word bubbles: “Friend, take heart.”