Wednesday, December 9, 2009

No one makes the journey alone

A Parable

A Mouse looked through the crack in the wall to see the farmer and his wife opening a package.

"What food might this contain?"

He was devastated to discover it was a mousetrap.

Retreating to the farmyard, the mouse proclaimed the warning. "There is a mousetrap in the house!; there Is a mousetrap in the house!"

The chicken clucked and scratched, raised her head and said, "Mr. Mouse, I can tell this is a grave concern to you, but it is of no consequence to me. I cannot be bothered by it."

The mouse turned to the pig and told him, "There is a mousetrap in the house".
The pig sympathized but said, "I am so very sorry Mr. Mouse, But there is nothing I can do about it but pray. Be assured that you are in my prayers."

The mouse turned to the cow. She said, "Wow, Mr.. Mouse. I'm sorry for you. But it's no skin off my nose." So the mouse returned to the house, head down and dejected, to face the farmer's mousetrap alone.

That very night a sound was heard throughout the house like the sound of a mousetrap catching its prey.

The farmer's wife rushed to see what was caught. In the darkness she did not see that it was a venomous snake whose tail the trap had caught.

The snake bit the farmer's wife. The farmer rushed her to the hospital and she returned home with a fever.

Now everyone knows you treat a fever with fresh chicken soup, so the farmer took his
hatchet to the farmyard for the soup's main ingredient.

But his wife's sickness continued, so friends and neighbors came to sit with her around the clock. To feed them, the farmer butchered the pig.

The farmer's wife did not get well. She died; And so many people came for her funeral the farmer had the cow slaughtered to provide enough meat for all of them.

So next time you hear that someone is facing a problem and think that it doesn't
concern you, remember that when one of us is threatened, we are all at risk.

In the book of Genesis, Cain said about Abel his brother to our God: "Am I my brother's keeper?".

We are all involved in this journey called life. We must keep an eye out for one another and be willing to make that extra effort to encourage one another.

Nobody makes the journey alone.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

No Regrets

Life is too short to wake up with regrets.
Love the people who treat you right.
Forget about the ones who don't.
Believe everything happens for a reason.
If you get a second chance, grab it with both hands.
If it changes your life, let it.
Nobody said life would be easy.
They just promised it would be worth it.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Learning from those who know

"The more I learn the less I know."

When you’re a teenager, few if anyone can tell you much. After all, there’s little in this world you don’t know. And fortunately for mankind, this knowledge is passed on from generation to generation as my two teenagers remind me weekly how much I don't 'get it'.

I recall one time when I was the ripe old age of 17 telling my dad, ‘I feel like I’ve really got a good grasp on life and know what’s what.’ He just looked at me and didn’t say a word. Looking back his response was brilliant as there was obviously no words needed at that incredibly stupid moment.

One of my favorite Mark Twain muses is the one where he states, ‘When I was 17, my dad was so dumb I could hardly stand to be in the room with him. And in four years time, I was amazed at how much he’d learned’. This certainly applied to me.

Being a teenager with hormones running a muck, fitting in is about as high on the chart as it gets. And what you wear is imperative to this all important aspect of finding your way. No matter whether its school, after school, weekend, evening, athletic, ski, basketball, etc., what’s on your back, legs and feet is not taken lightly. All must fit and be the latest that everyone else is wearing…no trail blazing here as that would be very very ‘un-cool’.

I had returned from a must shopping spree at the University Book Store and procured a pair of white cotton gym shorts with really cool blue University of Washington logo on the front lower part of the right leg. They were the bomb as all the cool guys in PE had a pair and I was not about to be left on the sidelines waiting to be picked for sides without mine. I even bought a pair of matching blue with white logo. I was cool.

They went straight in the wash to give them that 'non new' look. Then straight to the dryer. I couldn’t wait to pack these babies off to school the next day and rock in PE!

When I returned home from gadding about, my mom was busy doing her afternoon ironing. Hot on the board were MY shorts. I looked in dismay and yelled, ‘What on Earth are YOU Doing?’ Ironing my shorts! As she looked incredulously at me and a bit bewildered, she passed the steaming hot iron across the most sacred of sacred, the blue etched on University of Washington logo. What appeared on the face of those shorts after this quick pass was a blue smear splotch. I went ballistic!

The exact words that escaped my mouth are not known. Just that my rampage was such that it brought my dear mother to tears. I felt a bit raunchy for my outburst and ruining my mother’s day, but not enough to keep the verbal assault abated. I stormed off with ruined shorts in hand and the expectation of next day disappointment hanging over head.

That evening as I came in the family room, my dad was in his casual chair with accustomed Seattle Times opened across his lap. We exchanged some pleasantries and how each others day had been. He then asked what had transpired to upset my mother so much. Being filled with righteous behavior, I began to spew out my take on the disaster that had taken place a few hours earlier. I felt I had made a very good case, so much so that Perry Mason himself would have approved. The only cross examination proffered was a question to how much the shorts cost. I promptly told him, five dollars with a sense of indignant pride.

Once the diatribe concluded, my dad calmly leaned forward in his chair, reached in his back pocket, pulled out his wallet and extracted a crumpled up five dollar bill. In hand, he stretched his arm my way and said, ‘Here son, here’s five dollars. Go upstairs and make your mother cry again, and it’s yours. After all, that’s worth five bucks isn’t it?’

In this moment, I realized that even a brilliant teenager was put to the intellectual test. The feeling of being a complete schmuck permeated my adolescent self with nothing left on the table to say…I was completely outmatched and took my life’s learning punishment with shame.

Living your life every day as though you have cancer will most likely keep moments like this from ever occurring. Perhaps, but maybe not. Being all knowing at such an early age might even get in the way. But let’s hope and pray it doesn’t.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Believing in Miracles

A few years and a score ago, my family experienced a Christmas as no prior. It was to be the first Christmas without my Grandmother, Opal. My mom’s mom, she was an angel who walked the earth and Christmas wasn’t Christmas without her bigger than life presence amongst the family order.

Throughout my childhood, I could always count on her to BE the holidays. When we walked in her house, the smell of the season permeated the air; evergreen from the freshly cut tree, scented candles, pumpkin & mince pies, gingerbread, roast, biscuits, and the balance of the scents of their warm and friendly manor filled the air. It was the most glorious time of year for a youth with all the dreams of what was to come buzzing around the room and between my ears. One could barely sit still with anticipation and I would trade fifteen circus days for one Christmas at Nanny’s.

I am an extremely fortunate man as the first 25 years of my life, I never experienced a Christmas without her divine presence mingled with all the holiday fixings. None the less my 26th, was not to be the same. We had lost her earlier that year to cancer and now the magical season of the glow and magic was dark and forlorn.

Nanny wasn’t more than five foot nothing and tipped the scale damp a bit over a hundred. Pound for pound, I would put her up against anyone I knew when it came to working manual labor around a house. She was a twister on steroids. My Great uncle used to say, just put a broom in her hand and she’ll be happy. He couldn’t have been more right. The only time she set still during the day was to watch ‘her’ show, General Hospital. Audrey & Steve Hardy we’re the order of the day when three pm struck and no matter what was in the wash or on the counter, it could wait. General Hospital was sacred.

When it came to kids or wildlife, she had no peer when it came to care giving. I recall as a young child visiting Nanny & Bill’s home in Tacoma, them taking in a neighbor girl who was younger than me for the day. She was home with the ‘babysitter’ and had found her way to my grandparents home and be on the receiving end of warm milk and cookies. She then slept for the better part of the afternoon much to my grandparents dismay as the sitter never once sought her out. They were besides themselves and thought the sitter, mother, father, aunt, uncle and whoever else might remotely be in charge, should be incarcerated for neglect.

My grandmother fed the squirrels, Stellar Jays, neighbors animals, and anything else with feathers or fur that happened into the yard. She even had a pet crow for crying out loud. Fed him every day at the same time as you could set your watch by his arrival.

About the only thing that didn’t belong in this world as far as Nanny was concerned was a snake, slug or mouse. Other than that, all was part of Gods and her world and she would do whatever it took to ensure they made it to another day with a full belly.

Getting back to the holiday season and the gingerbread memories, were her special gifts. I’ve told you the aforementioned, but now I’m referring to the ones we unwrapped. There was always something no matter what the year that was so incredibly special, you couldn’t anticipate. It was always perfect and fit with every passing year as a sweater or jacket you had sought out but could never find. It was truly a special gift of hers and I never figured out exactly how she ‘knew’ exactly what would bring the ahh moment when nestled around the tree. It was truly truly a special gift on oh so many fronts.

This Christmas though would be different. There would be no smells, joy and laughter, mince and pumpkin pies, waiting anxiously by the tree for Nanny to finish up the dishes and appear, or that special gift. It was as though the air was completely sucked out of the world and I was completely alone for the first time in my life.

My parents had made other plans this year and were going to be away. My sister lived in California and was staying put. It was unspoken amongst us but it was the loudest din imaginable with a resounding scream of we can’t be together as it would just be too incredibly painful to attempt the unimaginable. A Christmas without Nanny.

To compound matters, I was travelling for work a considerable amount leading up to the holiday break. I recall vividly flying into Seattle the last few days before Christmas looking out the window at the black and lifeless city. It was the most empty feeling I had ever experienced. I prayed the plane would never land as I couldn’t bear the thought of walking in the cold and damp to my empty car and driving home to a listless and holiday free house.

Before leaving Los Angeles, I had the where with all to go to the cash machine and withdraw my Christmas gift money as I had yet to make a single purchase. Again, prolonging the inevitable and avoiding all aspects of the season to its final and unbearable moment. For this one action, I felt good as I knew with all of the emotion stirring, the fewer activities required once I got home, the better.

As I approached my dark and empty house, I stopped at the mail box and gathered a weeks worth of holiday mail. It was stuffed with every imaginable flyer to gobble up the cash I had previously garnered. An absolute mess was strewn upon my the kitchen table as well as the contents from my travel pockets. I went to bed, closed my eyes and pretended the hurt wasn’t real.

The next morning I set out to do my shopping and attempt to put myself in the holiday spirit. It was short lived. I couldn’t find the cash I had procured the day prior to streamline my shopping efforts. I literally tore the house apart looking for it. Under the cushions of every seat, every room, every pocket, the washer, dryer, I even looked in the oven. No cash, it was not to be found. I screamed at the utter top of my lungs in frustration and still, no cash fell from the sky. I was toast and only proved to add insult to injury as I headed out and shortened my list and scaled back.

For the next week I sulked. The only break in the sulking was to rampage the house one more time in a fit of rage trying my dam nest to locate my lost funds. I knew they had to be there somewhere as I didn’t lose things, let alone money and I knew I had it when I walked in the house when I came home from my trip.

I sat in the chair in the living room staring out the window when suddenly I was filled with rage. I leapt from my chair, throwing the cushion against the wall and cursing God at the top of my lungs for being so unjust! How could He not only take the most beautiful person of this world, a living angel, in the most painful and excruciating way but heap the pain and despair upon me at this most sensitive time of year. And on top, not even my special gift…‘I hate YOU God Dammit, I HATE YOU!’ I cried. My rage transcended into sorrow and I wept uncontrollably for what seemed to be forever.

A knock appeared at door and snapped me to consciousness. I walked by the window, looked out and saw a dilapidated Volkswagon Bug in the driveway. It had no front fenders, was two toned (as in primer gray & yellow) and was missing a passenger side window. It was replaced with saran wrap.

When I opened the door, before me stood a young man in his late twenties, unshaven, long dirty blonde hair, holes in his jeans and a long sleeved long underwear undershirt with the sleeves rolled up. I looked at him with disdain as I had no idea what this guy wanted from me but whatever it was, I was certain I wasn’t interested. I barked behind the screen door, “Yes, may I help you?” He looked me straight in the eye with his dark sunken lids, reached in his pocket and pulled out my cash that I had been seeking the past week. He simply stated, “Did you really want to throw this away? I’m your garbage man and I found this in your garbage. I thought you might want it.”

For the most part I was speechless but I did have the wherewithal to offer him a reward for returning it. The nameless person looked at me deeply, smiled and said, “No, my reward is being able to return this to you.” And he walked to his car, started it up, and puttered away. I never saw him again.

The next few hours I spent on my knees begging God for forgiveness. I realized in that time I had so little faith in HIM I was ashamed. I knew better but in my moment of agony forgot all the goodness that I had learned over the years. A true miracle had presented itself and I couldn’t help but believe my grandmother played a huge part in creation and lobbying with God. She had sent me my gift.

Miracles are all around us every day. All we have to do is be open to them and allow them to be recognized. According to the doctors, I’m not supposed to be here writing this story. That’s a miracle in and of itself. Living your life as though you have cancer will open your eyes to such occurrences.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Are you Missing it?

If you live in the lower 48, I believe there are few things in life as exciting as fresh fallen snow. I remember as a four year old making my way downstairs from our North Seattle home to fetch my dad the morning paper. Upon opening the door that early December day I was surprised beyond words by the precious little tufts of white floating to their final destination.

My immediate reaction being to bolt back up the stairs to tear into my sleeping sisters room and scream at the top of my lungs that it was ‘SNOWING’. She being tired of my pranks and calling wolf, rolled over, pulled her pillow over her head and grunted, ‘Go away, you’re annoying’. In my glee, I continued to prompt an excited response and attempt to motivate her to rise, get dressed, and come see for herself. She continued her abjection to my assertions and stated, ‘There’s no way it’s snowing. It’s way too warm and it wasn’t snowing last night when we went to bed’. Of which I replied, well then I’m not sure exactly what it’s doing but it’s falling from the sky and there’s lots of it…and it’s white! She got up.

Perhaps I’m presumptuous in stating the entire 48 feeling the excitement of snow as those in Buffalo, Minneapolis, Cleveland or Denver, may not share my enthusiasm. But if you’re from and or living in Seattle, snow in the city is a BIG deal. If you’re a skeptic, all one need do is turn on the local news with even the remote prospect snow is on the horizon; you’d think that Jesus himself had sent a press release on his eminent arrival.

When the fallen snow reaches a depth of one inch (or less), you can count on Jim Forman of KING 5 news to be perched at the base of Queen Anne Hill donned in parka, stocking cap, and gloves, sensationalizing the event with his chirping quips, “The best advice is, IF you don’t need to go out…DON’T. Live from lower Queen Anne, I’m Jim Forman’. It’s a joke but it does sell advertising and after all, when it comes to local news, what else is there. I digress.

My point is, Seattleites are forewarned and if we were to receive half of the snow storms the local meteorologists forecast, we’d receive more snow than the North pole. It’s that ridiculous. But as I say, it boosts ratings and thus revenue.

When my kids were seven & eight respectively, we received one of those wonderful winter storms. The conditions were perfect the night before and one could see the dull gray sheet of cloud cover roll in from the west and anyone with any Seattle heritage, knew exactly what was in store. The temperatures were sub freezing and not remotely affected by the warmth the cloud cover many times presents.

With the impending storm, the kids were excited as only kids can be at the prospect of playing in the snow with the bonus of having school cancelled. It doesn’t get much better when you’re single digits and able to maneuver a sled all by yourself.

That night, I got on the computer and sent mail to my employees and informed them to not attempt to make their way to the office. Seattle comes to a complete standstill with even the slightest amount of white on its roads and what would be a normal commute of 20 – 30 minutes can easily turn into a four or five hour affair. With everyone with laptops, it was a no brainer as we could still function without being physically in our collective offices.

The next morning we awakened to a blanket of pure delight; 4 – 5 inches of untracked velvety white stuff. As far as the eye can see.

The kids wolfed down their breakfast while their mother struggled to pull coats, boots, hats and gloves over their excitement. The sense of urgency filled the room and expanded to every corner of the room. Boom, they were out the door with shouts of joy and sleds in hand.

We were fortunate on snow days as we lived at the bottom of a dead-end street with a very short but steep hill at the end of our long setback driveway. It was the perfect run for kids their age as one didn’t need to walk too terribly far or long and still be able to experience an amazingly fast ride. But it was steep and even at a young age, a dozen treks in 5 inches of snow with snow gear and sled in tow up that hill was a meaningful workout.

My wife summoned me out the door that morning to share the experience of all that was good; family, snow, kids, dogs, & the joy that all that brings. I was still in my night clothes and told her I’d be ‘right’ out but wanted to check email first to make sure nothing was on fire.

I found my way into the home office on the opposite side of the house and proceeded to read and respond to several dozen emails that had materialized in my inbox over night. About an hour into it, my wife appeared in the door with snow and sweat and a smile and said, ‘Are you coming? The kids are having a ball and you’re missing a great time.’ I told her I’d be right out and sunk my head back into my screen and keyboard and continued upon my merry way.

Some more time transpired and once again, Jennifer popped her snowclad self in the door. This time a bit more agitated and imploring that I need to get out from behind my computer, get dressed and get outside. Fifteen or so more minutes and I found my way downstairs to sift through the closet full of snow clothes.

Finally I appeared on the scene only to find exhausted, wet, soaked kids with red rosy cheeks. They were done and the snow that had been so pristine had taken on a different sheen. It was beginning to rain and the freshness of the early morning had begun to melt into the afternoon.

As the kids made their way to the house to warm themselves with hot chocolate, my wife looked over her shoulder back at me as she followed the kids in and quietly said, ‘You missed it’. I stood there by myself with the kids sleds in hand while the rain dripped off of my nose.

It brings me great sadness to recount this moment on so many fronts I don’t know where to start. And to chronicle it for posterity sake, only serves to deepen the crevasse I feel in my heart. I champion myself as someone who spends little time contemplating the past as I believe there’s nothing we can do to change it and as such a waste of energy. Regrets, I have few. None the less, this memory has haunted me more times than I care to admit. I remember telling myself, we’ll do it next year, it’ll happen then. Unfortunately, next year didn’t come as the kids were older and the snow didn’t appear. I missed it.

If you were to ask me and offer me a million dollars to recant what was so important to spend the morning sitting in front of my computer in lieu of sledding with my kids, I’d come up empty. Blank, couldn’t tell you. Yet I’ve been able to recount that morning with the sights, smells and memories with the clarity as if it happened this very day. So what does that say? What is important? Pounding out your email or sledding with your kids on a once in a lifetime moment? Hmmm, does it take a PHD in psychology to answer that one.

One realization I can say for certain is if I would have had cancer when it snowed that glorious day with the kids running around my feet, I can without question tell you I would have been amongst them the entire time. No questions asked. No emails returned. No excuses given nor expected.

Are you missing it? If you are, please take a moment and begin living your life as though you have cancer.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Making for an Extraordinary Day!

My close friend and life / accountability coach (June) and I have started the first of what we expect to be several life experience books. The title for the first has yet to be defined but is focused on identifying the small (and not so small) things that make for an extraordinary day.

Recently I reached out to my extended sphere of influence to ask them five things that would make their day ‘extraordinary’. What an interesting experiment this turned out to be as the answers not only shed an amazing insight from the individuals who responded but the amount of replies neared 80%. Clearly this struck a chord as I’ve not received 80% of anything for so long it’s beyond comprehension.

Before I requested the input, in a stream of consciousness, I wrote out approximately 100 items that I felt would make for an extraordinary day. All were items in my control; giving my kids an extra hug, telling them how much they mean to me, talking to a complete stranger, giving (them) a non solicited compliment, writing a story, getting a facial, sending snail mail to a friend expressing my feelings for them, going to Costco, etc. All was a great exercise and by the way is something I refer to anytime I’m feeling a bit on the dark side of the moon.

Having taken the time to write these self fulfilling prophecies down and give them a sprinkling of meaningful consideration, the next day I set out to see exactly how impactful my thoughts would make for an extraordinary experience. An outing to Costco was eminent as I was need of several household necessities that only Costco has been able to satisfy for the past several years. Off I went. And as I stated on my list, a visit to Costco makes for an extraordinary day. Call me simple (and maybe a bit sick) but I must say, I love the experience as it’s my favorite place on the planet to shop. And I’m not a shopper!

As I was strolling the aisles, I was very cognizant of all the people, sights and sounds around me. More than I can ever recall. I was on the lookout for people to talk to, see new items on the shelf, find something pleasant to observe, say hello, or just give a passerby a warm and hearty smile from a happy and content fellow Costco shopper. I filled my cart with the provisions I sought as well as a few items I absolutely didn’t need (this felt really good and Costco loves these shoppers).

When it came time to check-out, I decided to get into the line that was the longest / people with the most ‘stuff’ in their cart. That way I figured I would prolong the experience of having an extraordinary day. As I approached the counter, I noticed the young woman behind the register wearing matching eye shadow to compliment her pink and white striped blouse. You could tell this was part of her routine and was an obvious aspect in her day in which she took great pride; the pink blending perfectly into the white and vice versa.

I complimented her on her eye shadow and how she was so perfectly color coordinated. This simple gesture absolutely lit her up like a Christmas tree from ear to ear (as well as the lady who was working side by side ‘boxing’ up the goods). The latter stated, ‘She’s always like that; everyday she coordinates. Look @ her shoes!’ They both beamed and the checker told me ‘YOU JUST MADE MY DAY’ and ‘Could I come through her check stand every day and asked if I’d be back tomorrow?’

Imagine that, eye shadow! Is it really that easy to make your day ‘extraordinary’?

Next on my agenda, it was prime time for a facial. Again, for me, one makes for a day extraordinaire. I strutted off to my favorite pedicure spot in my immediate locale and decided I’d give them a shot at a facial. This was a first on that front as the shop is designed primarily for nails (but does advertise the additional spa services).

The shop is worked entirely by women; mostly Philippine & Vietnamese. All in their 20's and early 30's, work 10 - 12 hour days 6 days a week. And I mean WORK. One client after another mostly doing nails and pedicure's. And of course they have to commute an hour or so each way as they cannot afford to live close in.

The girl who gave me my facial didn't know tips from toes let alone a face. She happens to be crippled (my guess polio). She's very sweet, does her utmost best, but as I say, wouldn’t know a professional facial if it reached up and bit her in the ass. Because of her handicap she has to exert more effort than the others as its very hard for her to maneuver between the tables, chairs and the nail carts dragging her non working leg. It’s always nice to see the others pitch in wherever possible to help her in a tight space. This is a subconscious act from all participants with never a spoken word or sign of contempt.

As I laid there uncomfortably having facial massacre, I made the conscientious decision to focus on her doing her level headed best to ensure an enjoyable experience and NOT on her inability to perform the job. She asked several times throughout my comfort zone and what if anything more she might do to make it so. Bless her heart, she wanted so much to make the experience pleasurable.

Had I continued to focus on her ineptitude, I am certain I would resort myself to having a miserable time and left completely irritated and dissatisfied. But shifting my focus to one of 'let it go' and 'let it be what it is' really opened some doors for me. After all, what could I do @ this point? Get up, walk out, yell, criticize her, and refuse to pay? Yes, I could have chosen any of those alternatives. But in my moment of choice, I asked myself, will any of those options make for an extraordinary day? The resounding answer was I highly doubt it. It certainly wouldn't have made hers.

When she finished, she smiled broadly and asked me 3 questions; did I like the foot massage; did I like the warm hand wrap; did I like the way she massaged under my neck? The answer being a resounding 'YES' as I DID like all those aspects of the hour long treatment. After all, who wouldn't? Having a young, warm, friendly Asian woman rubbing your feet, hands and neck with warm oil doesn't get much better does it? She in fact had made my day ‘extraordinary’.

Life is about choices. We either choose to enjoy it or we choose to complain about it. As I say, had I chose the latter, my day would not have been extraordinary. Shifting my internal focus made it so. With the help of those around me, my eyes have been open to living an extraordinary life every day.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

November 2nd post

I saw my ONCOLOGIST today for my tri-monthly checkup.

Per usual they took blood; looked good (no red-lines); took a chest X-ray and nothing new showed there; and had a long chat about having cancer @ this point in the process. All in all went pretty well. He prescribed an antibiotic to take for the next 7 days for my cold (and stated in the future to just call and they'll prescribe over the phone - he had to cover his entire body with a gown, face shield and gloves to see me - I also was sequestered from the rest of the cancer populace while @ SCCA because of my sniffles / cough; with a mask on - they really don't mess around).

I asked him about any new treatments on the horizon and he was fairly tight-lipped. I asked him about supplements and he said, sure, whatever you want, go for it (with a look of you're wasting your time/$ shone through his eye shield). I asked him about joining a cancer survivor group and he said, 'No' (they had pamphlets on the counter for this through Fred Hutchinson). I asked why and he said he doesn't want me hanging around other cancer patients (thinks they'd bring too much cancer reality to the situation). I told him I am using a life coach these days...he asked 'What's that?' So I told him. He thinks its great. He also wants me to up my Prozac by an extra pill / day. But he stated, he can't tell me that the cancer is not active in my body, just that he can't see it.

As I've stated in the past, I really like this guy. We covered lots of ground today and for the most part he pulls no punches. We went over my X-ray and my last CT in detail. He pointed out the entire thing and explained all that's going on and compared the two. He holds his cards tight to his chest however and really only gives me information that he wants me to have. As in he holds back the full story, I can tell. He does say, the longer I stay cancer free, the better my long term prognosis. That sounds like a 'DUH' statement but what he's saying is, the first 6 months following treatment is the most critical; the next 6 months less so and so on and so forth. It seems they work in 6 month increments for whatever reason. In case anyone lost track, I'm @ month 14. My next scheduled appointment is in January and they'll do another full blown CT.

As a part of our conversation, we got on the topic about death. Renato got somewhat philosophical and shared the history of the worlds philosophers view on existentialism and the contemplation of death and beyond. I told him I wasn't afraid of dying. He didn't believe me and stated, "Everyone is afraid to die." I told him I guess I'm not everyone as I really do not fear dying. After all, we're all going to 'die' sometime and it's up to God to decide when and how. He went on to say what if this is IT and there isn't anything else (thus the fear). If that's the case, then this is IT and we're all going to be in IT. However, I stated to him in no uncertain terms my belief in God and Jesus as our Savior. I'm very comfortable with my frame of mind around God and our Savior and left it as such with him to ponder. He didn't want to go past the what if this is IT and living in a state of being afraid of what if this is IT.

Once again, I want to point out that I believe having cancer has helped me tremendously in my state of mind. Mind you, I'm saying I'm grateful to have cancer and if it were up to me, would never had entered my body. However, I do look at it as a blessing and know that it's God's will and His will be done. That I am very comfortable with and accept in this life as such.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Live Life as Though You Have Cancer

As I stated in the previous post, it's been a year since going through the hellish experience of cancer treatment. At the end of it, I had coffee with a long time friend. She was on vacation at the time and was going over all the wonderful things she had done in the past couple of weeks and changes she had made in her life. Mainly, taking more time for herself and less on her job.

After our meeting, I headed straight to the Canal for an extended weekend of clam digging and such and on the way down, I wrote a blog entry in my head. I titled it, 'Live Life as Though You Have Cancer'. I put it to paper but after reading and rereading, I didn't feel like I captured the essence of what I wanted to say. So I shelved it, thinking I'd get back to it and make it, 'right'. Then I'd make the post...

Well, that was a year ago and I still haven't made it 'right'. So I'm going to publish it now in it's original form. It's funny, after a year has gone by it seems to be more 'right' than it was when written. Go figure. Anyway, here it is.

Live Life as Though You Have Cancer

If you found out today you had cancer, imagine how your life would change. Step back for just a moment and contemplate the unimaginable. You are now at the beginning of a new and unchartered journey. How would your life change? Would you begin to analyze your mortality in a more urgent sense? Would things that used to seem important, become less so? Would things that seem very important take on a much greater sense of urgency?

My guess is your view of life changes. You now live far more in the now and the immediacy of it. You might view life not so much of this world but more from an eternal perspective. When you see friends and spend time with them, you can’t help but think this may be the last time you see them in this world. What used to cause anxiety in your life, is merely a mosquito buzzing about the room. Imagine not living your life in fear for tomorrow, but alive today. Remember how there was always tomorrow and how you made life harder than need be by worrying about things of this world from the realm of what if, what might be, what might happen; opposed to what is and what’s possible.

I’m sure you’ve been asked the question at some time in your life, “What would you do if you had but one day to live?” Be honest, what is your answer? Would you change anything? Would the world look different? Would you pick up the phone and tell a long lost friend or loved one something you’ve been meaning to say? Would you run to your kids room and throw your arms around them and tell them how much you love them and how much they mean to you? Your parents? Siblings? Would you be a different person? Would you treat people differently? Be honest.

Give this some deep and meaningful thought. Not from a negative or sadness point of view, but from a position of walking in cancers shoes. Let the situation sink in and think hard and deep about how your life would change.

Cancer has been a blessing for me in many ways in which I’ve described. It is not a curse nor a death sentence. It’s a window to living. A very clear and fog free window on this world we live in. And a daily reminder of just how short this trip we’re on is.

I’ve come to the understanding that death and the possibility of such is easy. It’s living in this life that is hard. Really hard. And I want to challenge everyone who cares to listen to really live. And to live for today, not tomorrow. Not in the seats as a spectator but on the stage as the principal in a play.

So imagine you have cancer and choose to live life as such. You might be amazed at the possibilities that open up when you live your life from this point of view.

It's been a year!

How quickly a year passes. Truly amazing and as we grow older, each year appears to be passing more quickly than the last. That said, it's been a year almost to the day that I completed my chemo / radiation treatment at SCCA. Much has transpired and for the most part, all has been good.

My last tri-monthly appointment this month with Dr. Martins was consistent. Again, he popped into the room brimming ear to ear with a smile stating, 'The CT looks good; lymph's, mass no larger (only scar tissue), and the radiologist was having a very, very good day'. He then read the report verbatim and yes, the radiologist was having a good day. You could hear it through the Dr. speak and terminology.

Back to the year and all that has transpired. When I completed my treatment, I was left with the information from my surgeon that I had approximately a year to live. That was from my appointment with him in July following the surgery. So, a little quick math will tell you nine months give or take. And in that time, what would my condition be like. You've probably seen the pictures and / or known someone you've seen deteriorate with cancer and what their condition looks like. Would I be able to function, would I be bedridden, hospice,walk, on oxygen, pills, shots, more hospitalization, move, function, etc. All ever present thoughts.

I set an objective and number one was, get as close to my kids, family and friends as possible. For my kids, I wanted to be with them in the time I have and enjoy each others company to the fullest. I felt that it would be much better to leave them (if in fact I was to leave this world) with memories in lieu of inheritance. So I started booking trips with them one on one in order to connect solely with each other with new, memorable and interesting experiences.

First, Riley and I headed off to Hawaii to swim with the dolphins. The latter didn't appear when we set out to be amongst them but he and I made up for it in many other ways. Next, Emily and I headed to NYC & WDC. We had a blast and it was great being in those two cities over the Thanksgiving holiday time frame.

During the holiday season, I travelled to Los Angeles to be with my folks, sister/brother in law, and several past friends from my days in LA. We got my folks settled into a great assisted care living situation and although my dad was in the hospital much of this time, it was great being there and being close, in a way that I can only describe as uplifting. It was special in all senses of the word.

When my dad was home from the hospital, I stayed @ my folks place and he and I shared his bed a couple of nights. To wake in the morning and be able to reach over and put my arm around him and give him a hug, was truly something special. I was still his little boy and he my dad at the ripe old age of 52 and 83 respectively.

I travelled back and forth between Seattle, LA & San Fran for much of the remainder of the winter and spring to be with my folks, sister and friends as much as possible all the while staying connected with my kids at home. I even made my way to Hong Kong as well as a cruise out of Seattle to Alaska (two things I had never done; go on a cruise and go to Alaska). I have now been in all 50 states (many on multiple occasions) and I feel very good about that accomplishment.

Once summer arrived, it was time to head off with the kids again and be with them as much as possible. Riley and I went to Alaska to go fishing and Emily & I went to San Francisco for shopping and then returned to Hawaii to lounge amongst the surfers and the waves. We also made trips to Hood Canal on several weekends for geoducks and clams between their respective camps.

At the end of the day (or year if you will), it was packed full of memories. One of many experiences, encounters, new places and things to see. But most of all connecting the dots with the one thing that matters most in life, the friends and family we have around us. Objective accomplished.

I am extremely grateful to be so blessed with the people in my life, the time to share it with them, and even in my hampered state, the wherewith all to do so. I have constant reminders of life's short ride and the balancing act we must go through in living it to its fullest. I would be a liar if I told you that with all of the joy and gratitude I experienced this past year, I did not have my challenging days. They are ever present but I find them to be reminders that help me live even more. However, it's something that I stress over more than I care to admit.

I recently re-connected with a close friend of 20 years who leaves each conversation or email with, 'Make today extraordinary'. It doesn't require something big to accomplish that. Sometimes its the little things ...

Much love,


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Growing Corn

Growing Good Corn

There once was a farmer who grew award-winning corn. Each year he entered his corn in the state fair where it won a blue ribbon.

One year a newspaper reporter interviewed him and learned something interesting about how he grew it. The reporter discovered that the farmer shared his seed corn with his neighbors.
"How can you afford to share your best seed corn with your neighbors when they are entering corn in competition with yours each year?" the reporter asked.

"Why sir," said the farmer, "didn't you know? The wind picks up pollen from the ripening corn and swirls it from field to field. If my neighbors grow inferior corn, cross-pollination will steadily degrade the quality of my corn. If I am to grow good corn, I must help my neighbors grow good corn."

He is very much aware of the connectedness of life. His corn cannot improve unless his neighbor's corn also improves.

So it is with our lives. Those who choose to live in peace must help their neighbors to live in peace. Those who choose to live well must help others to live well, for the value of a life is measured by the lives it touches. And those who choose to be happy must help others to find happiness, for the welfare of each is bound up with the welfare of all.

The lesson for each of us is this: if we are to grow good corn, we must help our neighbors grow good corn.

It is possible to give away and become richer! It is also possible to hold on too tightly and lose everything. Yes, the liberal man shall be rich! By watering others, he waters himself.

- From the Bible,Proverbs 11:24-25

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The best fathers day gift ever!

Riley gave me the best fathers day gift ever! Here's 53 reasons why it was...

53 reasons why I love my Dad

  1. My Dad has always been there for me.
  2. My Dad always has an answer.
  3. He always knows just what to say.
  4. He’s the best businessman I’ll ever know.
  5. He always has a new fart for me to hear.
  6. He taught me how to go clamming.
  7. He showed me no one can win a fight against Austin.
  8. He always takes me to see good movies.
  9. I never go hungry at his house.
  10. He always can make me laugh.
  11. He makes the best clam chowder.
  12. He always makes things workout.
  13. He always knows best.
  14. He always keeps me safe.
  15. He has the most interesting stories.
  16. He always makes me feel loved.
  17. He taught me to treat guests with more respect.
  18. He always is there to smell my stinkiest of farts.
  19. He taught me to always brush my teeth.
  20. He taught me to always dress nice for important people or for an important thing.
  21. He always encourages me.
  22. He never puts me down or makes me feel embarrassed.
  23. He taught me to be who I am.
  24. He’s an amazing person.
  25. He help’s me with my homework when I need help.
  26. He taught me how to ski.
  27. He taught me how to play basketball.
  28. He taught me to always have manners.
  29. He taught me how to make the best out of things.
  30. He corrects me when I say something wrong.
  31. He showed me how to make the best out of boring situations.
  32. He gets me to talk at parties.
  33. He always knows when I want to leave.
  34. He told me I am just as important as everyone else but, to him I’m the most important.
  35. He taught me never to lie because it always makes things worse.
  36. He showed me never to be judgmental until you get to know the person.
  37. He showed me a yard is the most important thing at a house.
  38. He always try’s his hardest to do what is right.
  39. He taught me to fight for what I believe in.
  40. He taught me how to forgive.
  41. He taught me how to love and be thankful.
  42. He showed me how to have patience.
  43. He showed me how to yell at something that can’t hear you.
  44. He’s the best Dad.
  45. He’s always going to back me up.
  46. He’s my best friend.
  47. He told me that he will never stop loving me and I will never stop loving him.
  48. He showed me that ladies are first.
  49. He’s the best dad anybody could have asked for.
  50. He showed me that being around wealthy people will give you goals.
  51. He taught me how to always have friendship.
  52. He’s the best salesman and negotiator I know.
  53. He’s the strongest person I know considering he’s fighting lung cancer and I know he is going to make it, and that no matter when he dies he’ll still love me.

Happy Fathers Day I Love You Dad,

Love, Riley

45 tips worth reading

Written By Regina Brett, 90 years old, of The Plain Dealer, Cleveland, Ohio

To celebrate growing older, I once wrote the 45 lessons life taught me. It is the most-requested column I've ever written.

My odometer rolled over to 90 in August, so here is the column once more:
1. Life isn't fair, but it's still good.
2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.
3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.
4. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and parents will. Stay in touch.
5. Pay off your credit cards every month.
6. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.
7. Cry with someone. It's more healing than crying alone.
8. It's OK to get angry with God. He can take it.
9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.
10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.
11. Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present.
12. It's OK to let your children see you cry.
13. Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn't be in it.
15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don't worry; God never blinks.
16. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.
17. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.
18. Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you stronger.
19. It's never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else.
20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take no for an answer.
21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don't save it for a special occasion. Today is special.
22. Over prepare, then go with the flow.
23 . Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple.
24. The most important sex organ is the brain.
25. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.
26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words 'In five years, will this matter?'
27. Always choose life.
28. Forgive everyone everything.
29. What other people think of you is none of your business.
30. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.
31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
32. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
33. Believe in miracles.
34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn't do.
35. Don't audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.
36. Growing old beats the alternative -- dying young.
37. Your children get only one childhood.
38. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.
39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.
40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's, we'd grab ours back.
41. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
42. The best is yet to come.
43. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
44. Yield.
45. Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift."

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


What is laughter? What is laughter?
It is God waking up!
O it is God waking up!

It is the sun poking its sweet head out
From behind a cloud
You have been carrying too long,
Veiling your eyes and heart.

It is Light breaking ground for a great
That is your
Real body - called Truth.
It is happiness applauding itself and then taking flight
To embrace everyone and everything in this world.

Laughter is the polestar
Held in the sky by our Beloved,
Who eternally says,
"Yes, dear ones, come this way,
Come this way towards Me and Love!

Come with your tender mouths moving
And your beautiful tongues conducting songs
And with your movements - your magic movements
Of hands and feet and glands and cells - Dancing!

Know that to God's Eye,
All movement is a Wondrous Language,
And Music - such exquisite, wild Music!"
O what is laughter, Hafiz?
What is this precious love and laughter
Budding in our hearts?
It is the glorious sound
Of a soul waking up!

~ Hafiz ~

Monday, April 20, 2009

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

From St James

I rec'd this prayer from my good friend it is for all to enjoy.

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
when there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
Grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand,
to be loved as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying [to ourselves] that we are born to eternal life

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Random Thoughts

Yes, indeed it's been a long time since I checked out your blog site, Randy, and I'm glad I finally did. Lots of great news about your health. 
Steve and I really enjoyed seeing you the last 2 times you've been down, especially since you got to meet cousin Darren from Perth, Australia last time. We look forward to your next visit and are so glad that you're able to spend more time down here with us and Mom and Dad. I know how much they look forward to your visits, too.
We keep you in our prayers all the time and are glad to hear that everyone's prayers continue to be answered so positively. Keep up the great attitude--that's a true tonic in itself!
I love you and am so blessed to have you for a brother. I still owe you a birthday gift, too. Next time you are down I hope to have it for you.


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

March 11 update

Hello blogsite visitors -

I just got a continued clean bill of health from my oncologist today. I am scheduled go back in two months to have my next CT Scan and see what's what .;. but now, all cool and groovy.

I've been in LA for the past month. I rented a place (bungalow) off of Cahuenga blvd. below the Hollywood sign. It sure was nice to be in warm weather and receive daily doses of sunshine. I came home to Seattle this week to snow and 25 degrees for crying out loud. Geez Louise!

So what's next you ask...At the end of the month I'm off to Hong Kong to be with some clients and watch the HK7 rugby matches. When I return, I'm heading to Canada to ski with the kids during their spring break. I'll then head back to LA for the better part of a month and be with my folks/sister/brother in law. First of May I'm going to London to see some good friends and say hi to the Queen again. At the end of May, to Alaska and cruise up the inland passage. Something I've always wanted to do and complete my visit to all 50 states. S

Needless to say, I'm keeping myself on the go through all of this and it's good. I'm really enjoying my life right now and following my doctors directive. He told me being happy and relaxed is better than any pill he can prescribe. I'm out to prove him right. Even though the pills he prescribes put a smile on ones face as well.

Ta Ta,


Monday, February 23, 2009

Latest & Greatest

I am pleased to announce the recent finding on my latest CT Scan which occurred earlier this month. Dr. Martin's entered the clinic room grinning ear to ear following reading the radiologist report. I quote, 'Tumor shrunk, lymphs quiet, & inflamation from the radiation therapy improving'.

All in all, a clean bill of health at this juncture. I will continue to be screened every other month and of course if anything goes array in the meantime, I'll make a surprise visit. But for the time being, I'm pleased to be able to make the report that I am. The cough still persists but not at the level it's it makes for a good barometer @ this point. I've even been walking a few miles each day whilest I'm in the southland visiting my folks.

After leaving the doctor appointment, I had a chance to really think about Dr. Martin's joy in delivering the latest findings. With all the patients he treats for lung, throat & brain cancer, I can only imagine the meetings that he doesn't get to deliver such good news. When he does have pleasantries to share, I'm sure it makes his day close to the level of the recipient(s). None the less, it was nice to see him and share the joy.

All for now and keep the prayers and blessings coming. They work.

Saturday, January 3, 2009


I wanted to tell everyone that I am so grateful to have you in my life.

I pray you all have a blessed day. It wasn't difficult for me to decide who I present this to because many people claim to pray, but not everyone does. So I put it out for all who care to read.

May everyone who receives this message be blessed.

There are 12 months, 12 disciples, 12 tribes of Israel; Jesus ' birth is celebrated in the 12th month. Maybe this should be find there way to twelve others.

Prayer is the best free gift we have. There is no cost, just reward. Make sure you pray, and pray believing God will answer. May today be all you need it to be. May the peace of God and the freshness of the Holy Spirit rest in your thoughts, rule in your dreams tonight, and conquer all your fears. May God manifest himself today in ways you have never experienced. May your joys be fulfilled, your dreams be closer, and your prayers be answered.

I pray faith enters a new height for you; I pray that your territory is enlarged. I pray for peace, healing, health, happiness, prosperity, joy, true and undying love for God. God promises a safe landing, not a calm passage.

I look forward to receiving your prayer and love as I give freely to you.


Ring in the New Year!

Ring Out, Wild Bells

Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light;
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.

Ring out the grief that saps the mind,
For those that here we see no more,
Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.

Ring out a slowly dying cause,
And ancient forms of party strife;
Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.

Ring out the want, the care the sin,
The faithless coldness of the times;
Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes,
But ring the fuller minstrel in.

Ring out false pride in place and blood,
The civic slander and the spite;
Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.

Ring out old shapes of foul disease,
Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.

Ring in the valiant man and free,
The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
Ring out the darkenss of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.

-- Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Words of Wisdom

Some words of wisdom from some wise old sages...