Miracles Happen

It was April 1st, 2014. Yes, April Fool’s Day. A day when we rack our brains, trying to think of that perfect gag to play on co-workers and friends. But not last year. Last year April Fool’s Day was no laughing matter. And it’s a day I’ll never forget – as long as I live.

I was sitting in my office with my face in the computer when I received a call from my best friend. She had her biopsy results — Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer. And it had metastasized to her liver. I think this is the first time I fully understood what the term “in shock” meant. Just six months earlier we lost a friend to breast cancer – and the probability of the “C” word hitting again was impossible – so we thought.

I remember trying to speak, but couldn’t. Hindered by that lump in my throat. When I finally opened my mouth, my voice was trembling. And tears were running down my face. However, the person on the other end of the line wasn’t trembling. She wasn’t even crying. She was pissed! And it was at that very moment I knew, cancer had met its match.

I may not be right about a lot of things in my life, but I knew I was right about this. There was no way this badass friend of mine was going to be a statistic. And so, for the sake of this post, she agreed to let me refer to her simply as “Badass.” Because she is. Thank God. And we love her for it.

Badass immediately started researching the best treatment options, speaking to doctors, and reaching out to survivors. She changed her diet, started taking supplements… and she prayed. Every day. Religiously, so to speak. Still does. And not just for herself, but for others. And we pray for her right back.

And, although reluctant, she accepted help from others. Whether it be a shoulder to lean on, someone to stay with her during treatment, or homemade meals delivered to the house… she agreed to let others in. Like the purple bracelet says “No One Fights Alone.”

Someday I’ll tell her whole story. But for now, this is just part of her journey. The journey to “Survivorship.”

You know, they say that God works in mysterious ways, and boy do I believe it. Because it was that same day I received a call from a friend I hadn’t seen in months. And little did I know she’d be instrumental in helping Badass fight this fight.

Maryann, and her husband Brian, called to see if I’d like to meet them out for some Buffalo wings and a beer so we could catch up. As much as I wanted to, I just wasn’t in the mood – still reeling from the bad news. As we talked on the phone Maryann shared with me that she had a number of family members with Pancreatic Cancer. And from that very moment, she was on board – sharing information about the Macrobiotic diet, doing research, checking in on Badass, and praying every day. And it was Maryann that initiated our visit to Sloan Kettering – to an extraordinary person by the name of Nick Medley.

Fast forward to September 2015…

Badass is doing amazingly well almost 18 months after her diagnosis, and looks fantastic to boot. Yes, she still gets hit on by any man who glances her way. She’s a “hot” Badass, don’t cha know. However…looks aside, she’s still fightin’ the fight and we need to kick it outta the park!

On September 18th, 2015, we visited the Sloan Kettering Outpatient Cancer Center in NYC. You see, Maryann learned about a concierge at Sloan Kettering who gives “healing hugs,” and insisted we bring Badass to meet him. “My husband and I will pay for the hotel.” she said, “We need to do this; we need to go!” So…we did. Remember, when an earthly angel (AKA Maryann) is this insistent… you do as she says. And I’m so glad we did.

When you walk through the doors at Sloan Kettering there’s no need to ask for Nick…he’s waiting for you. He’s the first person you see. And you can feel his love and concern immediately.

sk1

His smile alone melts your heart. And when he hugs you – yes, he hugs everyone – you feel the warmth, the healing, the sense of peace.

His caring is not superficial.sk3
It’s genuine. And for a man who was featured on ABC news, and gives over a thousand hugs a day, we were shocked that he spent over two hours with us… telling Badass success story, after success story.

sk2He held her hands. He looked into her eyes. He said “Trust. Release. Live.” Trust in God — that all will be okay. Release your Worries — even if it means screaming, and punching a pillow. And Live your Life — to the fullest!
As I watched him speak to Badass, I was at the edge of my seat. There was something about Nick. I could see it in his eyes. A sense of calm came over me just being in his presence. I could tell that Badass and  Maryann felt it too. A sense that everything was going to be alright.

He gave each of us a guardian angel pin. And said “Whenever you’re having a bad day, look at this pin. And know you’re not alone.”

When it was time to say goodbye, it was kind of sad. Like leaving an old friend. We gave him a Syracuse University polo shirt and made him promise to root for our team. We said we’d keep in touch – and we will. Because he’s now part of this path to recovery. And Badass has already seen a small miracle since our visit. Yes, God does work in mysterious ways.

I asked Badass, “What should we name this post?” and she very simply stated… Miracles Happen.

Yes they do, Badass… yes they do.

Trust. Release. Live. 🙂

And while you’re at it, say a prayer for Badass.
No One Fights Alone!

 

 

 

How My Dogs Humiliated Me at the Vet

It was time to take my three dogs for their annual checkup. I knew it’d be a chore, but had no idea what was in store. Hey, I accidentally rhymed there.

As I opened the door to the car, my one golden Cosmo jumped right in – good boy! However, his brother Koda panics and runs across the driveway — which is odd, because he has a phobia of walking on the blacktop.

So, now he’s in the grass on the other side of the driveway. He lays down and won’t budge — like a child throwing a temper tantrum — like Veruca Salt from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

Now mind you, we’re already late because I couldn’t find two of our three leashes and had to grab a dog lead just to have something (nothing says Redneck like bringing your dogs to the vet on a 30 ft. dog lead), and now this.

Anyway, knowing Koda’s anxiety, I maneuvered the car to the edge of the driveway so no blacktop was showing. It took 10 minutes or so, but my daughter and I were eventually successful — she coaxed him from the front and I lifted him from the back. And so what if the neighbors gathered to watch… by the time we were done with our Lucy and Ethel act, all we had to do was  grab dog #3, Forrest, and head to the vet.

And…. we’re off!!

When we get into the office I’m mortified that I have two dogs on each end of a lead. The vet helps me out with disposable leashes. So that humility was short-lived, except for the part where I look like I can’t afford leashes. But lucky for me, the adventure had just begun.

cosmo coustaeCosmo decides to perform a crying song. It was quite lovely. He obviously was having some anxiety, so I end up on the floor hugging him, petting him and rocking him until he calmed down.

Then Koda (the original trouble maker)  decides to lay down and never get up — ever again.

kodaWe’d lift him up, he’d lay down.
We’d lift him up, he’d lay down.
We’d lift him up, he’d lay down.

For the life of us, we couldn’t get him to walk over to the scale in the waiting room. At this time the other customers are loving the show. I was at my wit’s end. So…. WE SLID HIM. Yes, that’s right. We literally slid him across the slick floor to the scale.

I know they say dogs don’t smile. But he was frickin’ smiling.

And to add to the fun, in the midst of all this chaos, as I bent over to help my dog along… “the girls” fell out. Yes, out of the bra. It’s not like anybody could see anything, but having to wrangle them back into the corral wasn’t an easy task with an audience.

Now, on to the grand finale.

We finally get all three dogs into the small exam room, I’d say it was roughly an 8×10 area. It’s here where Cosmo’s anxiety gets the best of him. He lets loose one horrific doggy fart. Oh my God, I thought we were all going to die and the office staff would find us in the morning. The vet actually said “You’re killing me Cosmo!! I gotta turn on a fan!”

I cannot tell you how relieved I was when forrest with collar
the appointment was over. And how thankful
I was that all three dogs are healthy. And how
shocked I was that Forrest didn’t cause any trouble.

Until next year my dear vet….until next year. 🙂

No Peeing on the Potted Plant

Have you ever laughed until you cried? I have. Probably one too many times.

Last night I was reminiscing with a friend about my eight years at a local publishing company and how my co-workers could’ve been writers for Saturday Night Live. Honestly, they missed their calling.

I rarely got through the work day without having a moment of hysterical, tears running down my face, laughter with this group of ladies. And… I’d like to share a few of these stories with you. If any of them still worked there, I wouldn’t. But they don’t. So, I will. 🙂

DON’T LOOK NOW
I returned to work after being out for a couple of days. Everything seemed just as I left it. The team was busy cranking out the next series of books and I was happy to see everyone – they were my second family.

I logged onto my computer and got right to work. A few minutes later my supervisor wandered into my cubicle to talk about the yearly budget. As I spun around in my chair I immediately noticed that somebody had pinned….what looked like a condom…to my bulletin board. Not in the package. Stretched out as far as it could go.

All he had to do was glance to the left. Part of me wanted to laugh out loud. For Pete’s sake he’s having a serious conversation with me with a condom hanging next to him and he doesn’t even know it. But the other part of my brain, that wanted to keep my job so I could feed my children, said “Stay cool.” And I did.

I walked to the other side of the cubicle drawing his eyes away from any potential peripheral condom vision. The angels must’ve been watching out for me that day, because he left without seeing it.

After we all had a good laugh I could tell there was more. And yes, later that day I found a voodoo doll in my drawer, pins and all, made to look like the office trouble-maker. Gee, leave the office for a couple of days and you never know what you’ll return to. But, that’s why I loved working there.

YOU CALL IT CORN, WE CALL IT MAIZE
I think for all of us, lunch time was our favorite. My friend would get out her plastic utensils and tap the walls of our cubicles as she walked down the aisle. It was music to our ears. It was how she called us to graze. This is when we’d meet — and laugh until we cried — daily.

One day, a co-worker from a different department sat with us. We were enjoying conversation and laughing, but then she started to cough. The corn in her mouth flew out like an explosion and landed in my hair. She was so apologetic. I was pulling out the kernels saying “Don’t worry, it’s ok.”  That memory stuck with us for years. So did the corn. To this day I hear…“Remember when that girl spit corn in your hair? Remember?!” Ummmm, no… Of course I remember!!! 

BOUNCE REDUCES STATIC CLING
Another time, as my friend and I were chatting in the lunch room, I noticed she had a dryer sheet hanging out from the bottom of her leggings. She was laughing because she didn’t even notice it.  So, she reached down to pull it out (in front of a lunchroom full of people) but to our surprise, as she lifted the dryer sheet high in the air, it was in fact a pair of her underwear. TA-DA!”

PINTEREST: HOW TO FIX A FAUX PAS
Remember how I mentioned this team was creative? My one coworker confused a retirement card for a sympathy card? The two were being passed around at the same time. We were in a panic. You don’t tell someone that’s about to retire…. you’re sorry and you’ll keep them in your prayers. She stayed calm. Her message was on the corner of the card so she cut it out, creating the look of a bite mark and wrote “Take a bite out of life!” GENIUS!!

NO PEEING ON THE POTTED PLANT
But my all-time favorite is when the receptionist up front was busy typing and heard the front lobby door open. She could only see the top of the door over the high counter top when she was sitting. She waited, but nobody came up to the desk. When she stood up to see who was there, a woman who had come in from the street was squatting in one of the big potted plants in the reception area, relieving herself. Needless to say, we lost FERN that day. So, one of our team members reluctantly agreed to make a “No Peeing on the Potted Plant” poster. We hung them everywhere. Even handed them out at the next meeting.

no peeing

To this day, I keep in touch with this group of girls. They’re still a riot. I hope when they read this post they remind me of the many other stories so I have a “PART II” to share with you!

How to Act Cool When You Accidentally Get Into the Wrong Car

Yup…did it again. I got into the wrong car after leaving the store.

I blame my damn iPhone. I’ve morphed into a chronic “texter” and only glanced up for a moment to see my car straight ahead. It wasn’t until I got in and thought  “Boy, when did I clean this? I really did a great job.” …did I realize it’s not my car.

Just so you know, if you accidentally get into MY car, the area behind the passenger seat doubles as a temporary garbage can for receipts, Dunkin Donut cups, old gum wrapped in tissue, and empty McDonalds bags. Feel free to utilize. And there’s a damn good chance there will be chocolate ice cream drips on the steering wheel.

So… whose car was this, and why was I in it?

Well, no biggy. Just like last time — when I jumped into a car at my daughter’s school that had leopard print car seats and I thought “Gee, I like what I’ve done with the place.” …I’ll simply get out, close the door, and find MY car.

Then I turned to see HIM! The man sitting in a car right near this one. I assume he was waiting for someone since his engine was running. And he was looking right at me.

I can’t leave one car, and get into another car right in front of him, right?
I can hear it now…  S-E-C-U-R-I-T-Y!! 

That’s when it hit me. I took one acting class in college. Yes, just one. I will use my talent. I will pretend that I forgot something and casually walk back into the store. Genius!

First — I do a quick look in the bag. I apply the shocked “Oh for the love of… [pause for effect] did I forget that item that I desperately needed and did not buy?” look.

Second — I shake my head with a saddened look of disappointment. I now have to go back into the store and buy that item that I forgot.

Third — I sigh loudly and hang my head low. I do this as I leave the stranger’s car because I am disappointed that I can’t head home to my loving family in my impressively clean vehicle that is clearly mine.

I shut the door. I walk away. I am happy with my work. I arrive back in the store. Now what? Should I buy a coffee, look at the Slushie flavors for a little while (there’s only two), purchase a cheese pretzel, or pace a little.

I pace a little then leave, assuming by now the coast is clear.

Upon exiting I make a bee-line for my car. I do not text as I walk to it.
Oh, wait! All of that work and the man is still there. He sees me. Oh well, who gives a crap?

Because, here’s the reality… EVERYONE gets into the wrong car!! Even my own mother.

One time, a man was waiting for his wife in his car at the same time my dad was waiting for my mom. My mom got into the other man’s car. He said “I’m getting the best of the deal!”  🙂

My boys got into a van with their dad, looked on the console and wondered “Which one of us is reading THE LITTLE ENGINE THAT COULD?

My one friend even waved the rightful owner away with her hand as he asked “What are you doing?” She told him she didn’t need any help, her key just wasn’t working.

So, the next time I do this — and there will be a next time — I will not try to hide my embarrassment. I will wear my humility with pride. And… I’ll let you know what I find. 😉

Is it just me, or…

…does that cloud look like an eye?

After I dropped my son off at college, I took some pictures around campus.
I was focusing on the three bells above the chapel, but noticed the cloud
to the left looked like an eye.
eye

Just thought it was kind of cool, and wanted to share. 🙂

Best Years of Your Life: 101

I spent the week packing my son’s things for college. Tyler is my third to leave the nest, so it should be easy this time, right? Not so much. And yes, there are sudden inconsolable bouts of crying. Me, not him. And noted obsessive compulsive behavior… “What if he runs out of shampoo, I better get him two. What if he needs paper clips, sticky notes, index cards, staples… what if he needs RUBBER BANDS!” God, I think the only thing I brought to college was a hot plate and a can of soup.

I get teary as I fold his bedding, weepy as I pack snacks — he needs something to eat when he’s up late studying, don’t cha know? — and I think I even started crying when I packed his toiletries. What’s wrong with me? It’s not like I haven’t done this before!

group

The Family

Then suddenly I stop. And I think.

This kid is about to embark on the best years of his life. The friends he’ll make, the parties he’ll go to, the mornings he’ll wake up wondering what he did the night before…and the stories he’ll never tell me and I will never want to know. And, of course the education. Don’t forget the education.

I sit for a moment and take a stroll down memory lane. And I’m happy — just thinking about those years.

College isn’t just a time for education. It’s a time to cut loose. A time to get it out of your system before you enter the real world. Before you become a responsible adult with a job, a spouse, and children.

Just last summer one of my best friends from college (who happens to do stand-up comedy) told me he uses some of my college stories in his comedy act. To which I replied… If you EVER say my name (even when you’re touring another country), or TELL one of those stories when you’re in Syracuse — I will kill you. He already knew the rules. That’s why I love him to this day, and he’s still one of my best friends. I can only pray that Ty finds a friend like him in college.

So, now I go back to packing with a smile on my face. And I look at all of the stuff I bought him and I think… so what if I’ve packed enough to send him to say, Siberia for a year. That’s ok. I only have a couple days left to baby him, so I’m giving myself a pass.

Come Saturday, these will be the….wait, dare I say it? Yes, I’m going to use my potty mouth… these will be the best fucking years of his life! And I know, there’s something BIG in store for this boy! 🙂

Why Dogs Get Away with Murder

How does this dog get away with chewing up a carpet runner and eating the homemade guacamole that I left on the counter?

Well… just look at that face. And he puts up his “begging for forgiveness” paw to boot. I may be hundreds of dollars in the hole since we got him last year, but I wouldn’t trade him for the world. 🙂

In the Spring of 2014, the girls and I held our first fundraiser  (in memory of our dear friend Sara). We wore tee shirts with the words Power Through It written across the chest — words used to describe how Sara handled her chemo treatments and battling cancer.

Sara had an inner strength to power through when she needed it most. She focused on the good things in her life — her children, her family, her friends. She was a true inspiration to all of us.

In the months to come, we realized the importance of this message…

We ALL have the strength to
POWER THROUGH IT.

Our daily struggles can be medical, emotional, financial…
work related, with relationships, and raising children…
just about anything.

After the fundraiser, people asked if they could buy a shirt for themselves.

pti cindy michSo, we took orders, mailed out the shirts, and something wonderful happened…
one year later dozens of people are wearing the Power Through It tee shirts — and spreading the message!

adirondacks

POWER THROUGH in the Adirondacks!

power through it michael

POWER THROUGH in the grocery store with mom!

power through texas

Our friend’s granddaughter shares the message in Texas!

reo2POWER THROUGH at an
REO Speedwagon Concert!

Power Through on Facebook

Sara’s family shares the message — they’re beautiful inside and out!

In the months to come, take a peek at our website to see how far
the Power Through It tee shirt has traveled!  🙂
https://powerthroughit50.wordpress.com/

Some Bunny’s In Trouble

My daughter is an avid animal lover. So am I. But she’s becoming a Dr. Doolittle of sorts.

I’m proud of all the research she’s done on-line, and her in-depth knowledge of animals. I even support her sudden desire to be a vegetarian. But my house is a couple animals short of a petting zoo. And until I get around to building a barn, and installing a turnstile for class field trips, it’s not doing me any good.

Ya see, five years ago we downsized into a very small house – with almost half the square footage of our previous home. Yet, we now have twice as many animals.

The challenge with space was immediate with Phoenix
just our two golden retrievers. But with two new guinea pigs, and a third dog added to the mix, I’m getting ready to move to a larger house, simply to experience the thrill of walking through brooklyna room with a clear path.

Most recently, bunny porch
Nicky “Doolittle”
asked for a bunny.
To which I replied “We have bunnies under the porch!”  (These really ARE the bunnies under our porch. Cute, right?)

She started her usual campaign. The non-stop chatter about why we need a bunny. How they’re fluffy, and friendly, and can be potty trained in their cage. How they get along great with guinea pigs, have the temperament of a dog, and no trouble at all! Don’t cha know!

I was strong. I didn’t cave.

Then came the photos. This is why we have our youngest dog, Forrest

forrest— I’m a sucker for those eyes. But I held my ground when it came to a bunny. I didn’t budge. I must say, I was quite proud of myself.

Saturday morning I went into my daughter’s room to wake her up. There sat her guinea pig cage. And next to it sat a second cage. A large, brand new bunnystoney
cage. A cage that housed a fluffy, sweet, cuddly bunny.

I was livid! And… how does a 15 year old, who doesn’t have a car or a driver’s license, buy a bunny from the store and sneak it into the house? Believe it or not, with the help of one of my high school “friends.” I use that term loosely.

My daughter’s best friend lives on our street. Her father graduated with me from high school. He was always a joker…well, more of a wise ass. Once he knew she wanted a bunny, and I didn’t want her to have one, he offered to help her commit the crime.

I wasn’t strong enough to return my new grand-bunny to the store. But, not too weak to ground my daughter. The question still remains… how do I get revenge on my neighbor/alumni/ex-friend?

Should I give his daughter a pony? My friend suggested a ferret. Another tipped me off that her daughter’s cat is due to have a litter of kittens, and she’d be happy to give his daughter a couple of them. The possibilities are endless.

In the meantime, I’ll play with my new grand-bunny (who does act like a dog, even jumps up on our laps and kisses us), and the two guinea pigs, and the three dogs and figure out some way to get my revenge.

But I have to admit…with this bunny, and the added responsibilities, came a miracle. My daughter actually said, “ I don’t want any more animals.” There is a god. 🙂

Eagles Among Us

I took a hiatus from my blog recently as I focused on graduation activities, and finalizing details on a golf tournament fundraiser to honor the memory of dear friends. But, now I’m back. 🙂

Yesterday, as we were finishing up the tournament, I was thinking of all the loved ones in our graduating class who have passed… unfortunately, over twenty now. And I couldn’t help but feel as if they were ALL right there with us.

It did my heart good to see sponsor signs throughout the course that honored the memory of our fellow “Golden Eagles.”
class sara

And I believe they were right along side of us… listening to our stories, laughing at the stupid things we did as kids, and saying “Here’s to good friends!” as we raised our beers more than once.

As a matter of fact, I believe 100% they were there.

For those who know me, the topic of “the other side” is one that has intrigued me for years. I’ve read dozens of books about people’s experiences with signs from loved ones who’ve passed. And to be honest, I can’t explain a number of things that have happened to me personally.

I’ve seen toys with no batteries suddenly working, smelled cigarette smoke or perfume when nobody’s there, and found dimes in the oddest placed — like the shower. I’ve seen things move on their own (thankfully I had witnesses for this one), had dreams that seem way too real, and once I asked my grandma to help me find a pair of missing glasses and they appeared a few moments later on my dresser.

And what I love even more, is hearing other people’s stories. Even skeptics. Once they know I believe in signs from the other side, they’ll open up and tell me one of their own. They would “come clean.” I can’t remember what I had for breakfast, but I can remember every story I’ve ever heard.

I’ll share any experience I have, even at the risk of people thinking I’m crazy. And, I make sure to acknowledge any sign I receive. If I’m missing someone and their favorite song pops on the radio right at that moment… I just say “Thank you for that.” I would assume even angels like a thank you every now and then.

So, when I’m sad over losing someone, I stop and think…. they are in a place of pure love, beauty, and joy. A place with no pain. And I’m assuming they can fly around which is an added bonus. And, I believe with my whole heart, they can continue to share in our lives — and be with us anytime they please. So, when they say “hi,” I make sure to always let them know… I got the message, and “thank you.”