August, 2009 browsing by month


Monday, August 31st, 2009

I know, two posts in one day…aren’t you just beside yourself with excitement?!!  :)  I was just thinking.  Sometimes I do that, you know.  I was thinking about my upcoming trip to Seattle (we leave in three weeks!) and remembering my four and a half months spent there last year.  I can appreciate how strange this may sound to all of you, but I believe I just realized that those four and a half months will represent one of the happiest times of my life.

Although there were days that went by in a blur, days when I could only think of the next opportunity to lie down, I mostly remember enjoying my mom’s company (and now I’m crying thinking of how much she did for me and how special she made my stay).  I remember everyone’s visits, I remember how homey our apartment felt, I remember admiring the Seattle cityscape while watching every episode of “Frasier”…what a great purchase those DVDs were!  I remember the clinic and how safe I felt.  I remember our trusty rental car that made life so much easier (despite that damn Pete Gross House garage!).  I recall delicious restaurants, breathtaking views, dogs galore, REI, yummy coffee, QFC, beautiful flowers, seaplanes, Mount Rainier, evergreens, Route 5, hills aplenty, my South Lake Union neighborhood.

Am I the same person who left VA only a year ago, planning to make the best of it, but predicting a bleak several months?  I’m already feeling sad to leave Seattle, and I’m not even there yet.  How’s that for surprising?  I’m a little bit nervous about experiencing the city as a tourist.  It felt so satisfying to leave in January and think “we’ve made this city ours”.  And part of me will be a little jealous not to have my mom to myself.  Although we always had visitors, it was essentially the two of us navigating the city streets and the clinic halls.

I am sure that this visit will bring new adventures and memories, but I will always recall those four and a half months with my mom as the ultimate Seattle experience.  As anyone does who longs for the past, I would like to go back and try and make each moment more memorable…try to express to my mom and my family exactly how much they mean to me and how fun they made the experience…to tell my friends and family just how uplifting their visits were, to remind myself just how special the little moments were each day I spent with my mom.  I think she knew how I felt, even when she listened to me complaining about her driving.  :)

I’m sitting here now with a pile of Kleenex beside me, remembering, and wishing I could turn back time and spend several more weeks or months exploring with my mom.  But the beauty of nostalgia is that it represents the past, and the mere feeling of it is pleasant in and of itself.  Something that already seems perfect shouldn’t be altered, and our time out there was indeed perfect.  I looked up some quotes on “nostalgia” to see if there were any good ones and I thought you’d like these two:

“There’s a certain nostalgia and romance in a place you left.”  ~David Guterson

“Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be.” ~Peter De Vries

hahaha…that second one cracks me up!  And the first one, well, I think I’ve aptly described the nostalgia and romance I feel for Seattle.  I am so lucky to be able to feel that way considering the circumstances.  Who knew a city could stir up so many strong emotions?  I feel like I should be writing Seattle a love letter.  :)  And I think I’ll sign it “Lots of love from an honorary Seattleite”.

Love to all of you too,


Deep Thoughts by Julie

Sunday, August 30th, 2009

Not surprisingly, I’ve been thinking a great deal about the job search process.  I’ve learned that apparently those who simply send out resumes and look for openings on-line and in the paper find a job only 10% of the time.  It’s all about contacts, contacts, contacts.  I think they should reinforce this idea more throughout high school and college.  I’ve understood the concept of “location, location, location” since I was little, but it seems to me that finding a job comes before buying a home so the former advice is absolutely essential.  When my career coach recommended I call a PR professional and ask her for coffee so I could 1)make a contact and 2)learn more about the profession, I felt familiar butterflies in my stomach.  So, just call this stranger and say “hi, I’m Julie and I’m trying to learn more about public relations…will you meet me for coffee?”.  Despite the fact that facebook labeled me as an “extrovert” when I took its Myers-Briggs test (and I’m sure facebook is a reliable source!  hahahaha), I know that I am not the most outgoing person.  Neither do I consider myself painfully shy.  I think I would label myself as “friendly”.  Would I be the first to jump up  and sing at a karaoke bar?  Certainly not!!!  But I would challenge myself to do it, and I would get up there and give it a go.  In fact, I challenge myself all the time.  I go to weddings and parties by myself, I join classes to learn new skills, I try and say “yes” to any social opportunity that comes my way.  So why then does it sound so daunting to approach a stranger in a professional field about which I’d like to learn more?

I’m sure there are many possible answers, of course the most obvious being my lack of experience and working hiatus.  My career coach pointed out that many people go back to work after an even longer hiatus; for example, a mother who returns to work after raising her children.  I think the most important thing is to become conscious of what you have learned in that time away from the professional scene.  Cancer required me to become more outgoing.  Each day, I met new doctors/nurses/patients, and I constantly practiced my small talk skills.  I was also forced to learn how to self-advocate.  Meeting new people became a joyous occasion and a good way to refocus my thoughts…”if I ask them about their weekend and  their children, I can avoid the cancer talk for a little bit”.

So many people say cancer is “just a bump in the road”, something to get over before reassessing the road ahead (did I go too far with that analogy? :) ).  I think that “bump” is something much more significant.  Sure, it’s an obstacle at first, but it becomes a launching point, like a trampoline or something.  :)  You confront it, you learn from it, and you use what you learn to forge ahead.  Maybe facebook is right…maybe I’m more of an extrovert than I used to be, and I guess I have leukemia and the experiences it brought to me to thank.

Tomorrow I’ll call Rachel, from Washington Women in PR.  I’ll have notes to help me and my dogs for support, and I’ll just do it.  I think I need to make Nike’s slogan my mantra.  What do I have to fear?  I kicked cancer’s a** twice.  “Just do it” is so simple, so direct, so…appropriate.

I’ll let you know how the talk goes, and also, stay tuned for a blog about canine happy hour and the canine cruise!!  They were a blast!!

Lots of love,

FYI, a warning:  If you’re reading this, consider yourself a contact!

Monday, August 24th, 2009

Happy Monday everyone!  Well, actually, it’s almost Tuesday, so happy Tuesday as well.  Perhaps you should start your day with this image: Amazing, isn’t it?  It’s sure to make you smile, no matter how busy your day.  Maybe another good way to start the day is to listen to this song.  I heard it on the Dawn commercial (when they’re washing oil off of some adorable marine life, and I love it!!  My new favorite.  :) Can you listen to it just once?  :)

Let’s just keep this an animal-themed post, how about that?  “Bark for Life” went really well.  Luckily, the rain didn’t start pouring down until much later in the afternoon.  The turnout was not what the website said (almost 300), but I really enjoyed it.  There were maybe 20 people there, and everyone seemed to be having fun including, of course, all the canines!  It was the first “Bark for Life” event in Fairfax County, but they plan on having another one in the spring of next year.  I hope talk about the event spreads because it’s so nice to participate in a fundraising event with your dogs.  It adds a different level of fun.  They mentioned that they might like me to speak next year as well, so plan on coming out, whether or not you have a four-legged friend…as long as you like four-legged friends, of course.  It really is a great event.  There was a priest there who blessed all the animals.  The Vienna/Oakton “Connection” was also there. One of their writers interviewed me and took a picture of Guinness, Jameson and I standing in a baby pool.   I’ll let you know if it ends up being published.  Oh, and I almost forgot!  Jameson and Guinness both took the K9 Good Citizenship Test and they “passed with suggestions”….hahahahaha

Anyhoo, I figured rather than blab on and on, I’d simply post the speech I gave on Saturday.  Stay tuned for the video version.

Lots of love,


“Bark for Life” speech, August 22, 2009

One Newfoundland.  Three Border Collies and one Australian Shepherd mix.  Five dogs who made/make my life more joyful.  Thunder, Sherlock, Agatha, Jameson and Guinness.  They inspired me to write a college psychology paper about the importance of animal companionship.  Their absence in my college days prompted me to volunteer at the local SPCA, as well as a local farm.  The farm owners started an organization that brought troubled teenagers out to learn how to care for the animals.  It was a form of therapy for them.  I volunteered to help with the teens, and each time I would pull into the drive, I was greeted by at least ten dogs, a goat and sometimes bunnies.  It was most definitely a therapy for me as well.  Many years later, back at home and enjoying our two newest family members, Jameson and Guinness, I was diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia.  Doctors informed me I would be admitted to the hospital for at least one month.  Eric, a nurse and representative from Life with Cancer, visited that night and asked if there was anything I needed.  A dog, I thought, I need a dog!  Through research for my paper and my general interest in animals, I knew about the pet therapy programs.  I requested dog visits, and Eric quickly secured a “pet therapy” prescription from my physician.

I looked forward to those visits each day.  Sometimes the dogs would lie in bed with me while I rubbed their bellies, and other times they walked with me in the halls as I did my daily laps.  I remember Leslie, the pet therapy coordinator at Fairfax Hospital, and her beautiful yellow lab, Miles.  Then there was Astro, an adorable black-lab mix.  There were many others who made each day brighter for me.  One day, they brought a dog in, and I sat up in bed to greet it.  When I looked over, I saw that it was Guinness!  My family had worked with Leslie to bring in one of my own dogs, and it was a wonderful surprise.  Even on days when there was a “no visitors” sign on my door because of my low blood counts, I would walk out to the nurse’s station with my IV pole and tell them “Just because it says ‘no visitors’ doesn’t mean I can’t have dogs.”  They would smile and say, “OK, Julie.”

I think dogs make perfect caregivers.  They have a calm and quiet nature, and they seem to know when you’re not feeling well.  I recall one night when I was giving myself chemo at home, and I was resting on the couch.  Jameson walked over and laid his head on my neck for several seconds.  It felt so reassuring, as if he were saying “It’s OK, Julie.  Everything will be all right”.  They are also good motivators for exercise.  You have to get up and play with them and go on walks, which was good for me as well as them.

I was home with them a little over three years before I began working part-time.  However, three months after I started working, I relapsed.  So, here we go again.  I was in the hospital for another month, and I immediately requested pet therapy.  Again, they came to my room almost every day, and they were a very important part of my treatment.  We decided to have my bone marrow transplant out in Seattle, and my mom and I made it our goal to meet as many Seattle dogs as we could.  If you’ve ever been there, you know it’s quite a dog-friendly city, so we didn’t have a difficult time.  Everywhere we went, there were dogs to pat, and this was very helpful while going through the transplant.  Four and a half months later, we came home, and we received the best greeting you can imagine.  It was nothing short of wild enthusiasm.

Here we are now, and I am doing well.  Last week, I had the best blood counts I’ve ever had!!  When we go on our nightly walks, I look around us and smile.  I close my eyes and smell the air.  I listen to the crickets and the katydids.  And all along, I walk to the rhythmic beat of paws on pavement and the soft sound of panting.  I look down and watch Jameson and Guinness sniff the grass and the bushes, and I am grateful!  Guinness walks bow-legged, his fluffy tail high in the air.  Jameson walks like a debonair dog, no muscle or paw out of line.  They remind me of my grandfathers, one refined in dress and behavior, the other decked in plaid and stripes, speaking in colorful language.  They are so much more than my pets.  They are my guardian angels, my closest friends, my healers.  To them, I say “thank you”.  For their love, their company and their gentle reminders to appreciate each day, whatever it may bring.  And the healing continues!

Another good report!

Tuesday, August 18th, 2009

“Get a job!”  Dr. Orloff told me this twice during my visit on Friday.  My numbers are wonderful…almost all are in the normal range, and those that aren’t are not far from it (white count:  5.06!, neutrophils:  2.14, hemoglobin:  12.3, hematocrit, 33.9 and platelets:  194,000).  I was ecstatic, Dr. O was happy to pass on the news, Kim and Sharon at the office were excited…it was an all-around first-rate appointment!  He told me I don’t need to come back for two months, so I’ll pay them a visit after my trip out to Seattle.  I mean, this is a big deal!!  Dr. Kales called Saturday morning to tell me about reports Seattle requested I bring with me to my appointments.  I was so happy to talk to him, and I almost wanted to ask him, “When can I see you again as my doc?”.  I know I’m in wonderful hands with Dr. O, but you all know how I miss my main doctor.  After several years under his care, I imagine it would be difficult not to feel so attached.

My next adventure (OK’d by Dr. O…in fact, he OK’d pretty much anything I feel like doing–within reason.  He advised against taking up any extreme sports.) is tubing…so, who wants to go?  I figure a little float down the Shenandoah is a good way to round out the summer, don’t ya think?  Before we know it, fall will be here (and hopefully it will bring with it some gorgeous weather).  With the beauty of the season comes the worry of flu, and this year we have the added worry of a possible swine flu epidemic.  Dr. Orloff said I will definitely get the typical flu shot, however not enough is known about the H1N1 vaccine.  Within the coming months, medical professionals will have more information about it, and my oncologist should make his decision about whether I will receive it.

In other news, I’m working on finishing up my speech for “Bark for Life” this weekend.  I’m so excited about this event, mostly because I will have the opportunity to recognize Jameson and Guinness.  Laura plans on taping it, so hopefully we’ll be able to put it up on the blog at some point.  Or, come on out to the walk!!  It will be at Lake Fairfax Park in Reston at 8:30 AM this Saturday, August 22, 2009.  Click here for detailed info.

I haven’t made much progress on the job front, but it’s always at the back of my mind.  I felt a sense of urgency with Dr. O’s order to “get a job”!  :)  My parents are so patient, and after all I’ve been through with leukemia, I know they want me to discover a career that will bring me joy and fulfillment.  They are not rushing me, and although part of me feels guilty, the other part is simply grateful.  Guilty because I should be exerting more energy in my search and grateful because they provide me with the opportunity to conduct a job search in a way that feels comfortable to me.  I know I am spoiled.

Last year at this time, a job was an abstract word that I put in the recesses of my mind so I could concentrate on getting well.  I know, you’re sick and tired of reading “last year at this time”, but tough!  I can’t help but compare and contrast.  So, to continue, last year at this time, I wasn’t worried about working.  I was thinking about surviving.  Mostly, I was worried about traveling far from my family and friends to get a transplant in Seattle.  I was nervous as I filled up boxes to mail out to myself at my new home, the “Pete Gross House”.  I made a tape of noises I might miss in Seattle:  the screen door shutting, Jamie and Guinness barking, katydids.  Would I ever hear them again?  Anticipation made me feel almost sick to my stomach.  But I went.  In some ways, it doesn’t seem so long ago.  Then I scan my blog, and I realize how many posts I wrote, how many pictures I took, how much better I now feel, and it appears as though many years passed since last August.

This August, I’m excited to go back to Seattle, my second home.  I’ve made a list of restaurants to visit, people to see, new places to explore.  In my head, I’m planning the outfits I will wear to the clinic for my four days of testing.  I’m hoping it will be chilly enough to don the new black coat I got in Falmouth.  I hope Carlo (remember, my neighborhood dog?) is outside “Paddy Coyne’s” so I can stop by and say hello.  I will relax by the huge fireplace in REI, I will enjoy a latte at “Vivace’s”.  We’ll buy some pumpkin bread at “Grand Central Bakery” on Eastlake.  We’ll go for a walk around Green Lake, watch the seaplanes come in on Lake Union, head over to University Village for a stroll through favorite stores.  We’ll head down to Pike Place Market to explore, we’ll search for outdoor events and adventures, and we’ll drive around the neighborhoods to admire the homes and the views.

Oh yah…and I’ll go to my follow-up visits too.

Lots of love to all you faithful readers out there,


Wednesday, August 12th, 2009

All these years I thought of Hawaii as a blissful vacation destination, the tropical getaway to top all tropical getaways.  Well, the wool is no longer down over my eyes!  I was recently informed of…”termite night”.  That’s right…termite night.  Apparently, one of the harbingers of summer is a swarm of termites.  When the trade winds settle down and the nights are warm, out they come.  Eileen, a family friend, visited Hawaii last month and experienced it firsthand.  She was relaxing outside after dinner with one of the homeowners when he noticed a termite.  He hurried Eileen into the house, turned out all the nights, and bid her farewell.  Yup, the termites ended the evening!  Her friends spent the rest of the evening watching a movie with little bowls of water set up under the television to drown the little buggers (who were drawn to the tv because it was the only light in the house).  Here, read this from a blog posting I found:  Can you believe it?  And here’s a photo:  It’s good to know a tropical paradise isn’t always paradisiacal (yes, it’s a word!  I checked it out on  :)  Maya, on all your trips to Hawaii, how could you fail to mention this little occurrence?!!

So, I went to Border’s last night to do a little reading and thinking about my job search.  I am overwhelmed and grateful at the same time:  overwhelmed by the work and bravery it will take to find a career I will enjoy, and grateful for the education I already have.  I get so angry at myself because when I first spoke with the career coach a few weeks ago, she asked how much time I had available to spend job hunting, and I responded that I was totally available.  She said my search would become my full-time job, and here we are a few weeks later, and I haven’t done half the items on the list she gave me.  I’m constantly finding other activities to do:  going to movies, cooking, playing with the dogs, walking, you name it.

I feel as though I have no experience applying for jobs, but I reminded myself  that last year, I applied and interviewed for two different jobs, within a few months of each other.  I worked at the first job, interpreting, for a few months, and relapsed a couple weeks after the interview for the second job.  I will always remember my interview several years ago, when I sat at a boardroom table fielding questions in both Spanish and English for five interviewers sitting across from me.  It lasted almost two hours.  I didn’t get the job because I didn’t have any experience, although they did make me feel good when they said I would have been a better fit personality-wise for the office.  What I was most proud of though was my ability to make it through that interview.  I’m pretty sure all future interviews will be measured against it.

But let’s get back to my current job search.  Here I am, and I regret to say I’m no further along in my job search than the last time I posted.  I sat down this afternoon to take care of some to-do items on my job coaching list.  First, I decided to check out facebook to send my friend, Maya, a message.  My mom is more up to date on my facebook than I am, and she had informed me that Maya found out she’s having a little boy!!!  So I logged in with the simple task of sending her a congratulatory note.  Then I decided to take the Myers-Briggs facebook test to see how it rated me (hey, that’s kind of related to a job search!).  As I scrolled through everyone’s updates, I noticed my friend Marcie’s new photos.  Through “Yearbook yourself”, you can upload a picture and then watch as the computer applies hair/glasses/clothes to transform you into a typical gal/guy from the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s.  I just had to see how I would look in an afro, so I spent my job search time choosing the perfect picture and cracking myself up as the images spewed forth.  Now I sit here with a glass of wine, enjoying “House Hunters International”, and thinking about my day tomorrow and how I might redeem myself.

I saw “Julie and Julia” tonight, and I’m still enjoying the uplifting sensation you feel after a really, really good movie.  I’m inspired by both the acting and the real-life women behind the story.  I’ve watched my dad study “Mastering the Art of French Cooking”, making notes before beginning a recipe.  The book itself is daunting:  quite large and lacking in pictures (the latter is something which I find very reassuring).  I scanned the foreword and was surprised and delighted to read the final sentence, which echoed the feel of the movie:  “Above all, have a good time.”

I think I should follow that same advice for my career search.  After all, wasn’t the movie itself a study in finding oneself?  I should adopt Julia’s optimistic attitude, and also her order to “never apologize” (for whatever happens in the kitchen), not that it has anything to do with a career search!  From here on out, I will not point out flaws in my cooking.  Thanks, Julia (and Meryl).  :)

Just as with Julie and Julia, there is something I’m meant to be doing, and I look forward to figuring that out.  It’s a process, I know.  I’m learning a lot more about it as I read “What Color is Your Parachute?”.  And now, I can imagine Julie and Julia struggling and succeeding in their own careers.  If Julia could barely boil an egg when she began, who knows where I will find myself in a few years?  No, I won’t be taking up cooking as a profession, but I’ll have more confidence with each new recipe I undertake.  And I will be strengthened in my career search by remembering the efforts and accomplishments of an American icon.

One question I have after the movie:  what would Julia have thought of “I Can’t Believe it’s Not Butter”?!!  I am resolute in my decision to never touch the fake stuff!  Hey, Julia loved herself some butter and she lived to be almost 92!!

So here’s to butter, here’s to cooking and here’s to working toward finding the dream job.

“Find something you’re passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it.”  ~Julia Child

Will do, Julia…will do.

Lots of love to everyone,


Wednesday, August 5th, 2009

My bugs are back!  Hmmm…that doesn’t sound good.  It sounds like I have bugs on my person or something.  What I mean to say is that the katydids are here!  To me, they are the sound of summer.  Sure, during the day, there are crickets and other various arthropods, but the true symphony begins after the sun goes down.  Here’s what I’m talking about:  Mix a little rain in there and you have the perfect summer sleeping soundtrack.  Don’t tell my parents, but I’ve been opening my window a bit at night (even though the A/C is on) just to listen to the bugs!  Whoops…I think I just told on myself considering Bob and Carol are avid blog readers.  :)

Speaking of sleep, I don’t feel as though I’ve done much of that recently.  Yes, nightmares are to blame in some part, but I also went out on the town last Thursday and to another wedding this weekend.  Thursday, I went with Laura and friends to Lisa’s bachelorette party which was wonderful!!  We rented a limo and enjoyed dinner at “Lebanese Taverna” and salsa dancing at “Havana Village”.  Somehow along the way, we drank eight bottles of champagne in the limo (I believe there were twelve of us!).  I was DD so I didn’t partake of too much, but Laura’s Spumante was quite delicious.  I don’t fancy myself a champagne drinker, but that went down easily.  :)  As far as dancing, well, I’m pretty sure I smiled from the moment I walked into the club.  By the time we left, sweat was dripping down my face (I know, totally gross) and my hair was stuck to my forehead.  No, not attractive, but so fun!!!  It was great to celebrate with Lisa and all the gals before the wedding.  Laura has an entertaining and delightful group of friends, and I was happy to be part of all the fun.

Saturday morning, before the wedding, I woke up at 5:30 AM to go down to Fletcher’s Boathouse near Georgetown in order to do a water stop for Team in Training.  Guinny accompanied me, and it was a lovely morning.  We were on one of my favorite trails, the Capital Crescent (  I talked with many of my walk team teammates and cheered them on when they approached the water stop.  I felt a little jealous of the fact that they were able to be out there and participate, but I also felt excited just thinking about being a part of the action next year.  Other runners and walkers on the trail saw that we were there for Team in Training, and would occasionally shout “Go Team!” (our signature cheer :) ).  The best was when a young man ran by and yelled “You guys are awesome!!  I’m a survivor!”.  Some approached to ask more about TNT, others to beg for a bit of our water or Powerade.  Yes, we shared!  Coach Jacque said never to turn someone down in this heat.  I did think one guy went over the line when he asked for a power bar, but I let him take it.  Don’t you think that’s kind of rude?  Other women who took some water came back and gave us a donation!

I had a wonderful time, as did Guinness.  Everyone loved him.  You can see in the pictures below that he made himself quite comfortable, lying down in the middle of everything, making himself available for pats and attention.  I rewarded him with a nice swim in the Potomac and some fun in the mud.  The mud part could not be avoided because the “beach” or bank or what have you was sticky, deep mud, and Guinness was in his glory.  As soon as we got in the car, he zonked out, and he stayed like that for the rest of the day. I miss being part of the “Washington underground” as I refer to it; you know, the athletes and regular peops who wake up early and run/walk/bike/rollerblade to start the day.  When you sleep as late as I do, you don’t experience that very often.  :)

Amazingly, I didn’t even require a nap on Saturday!  We headed to Old Town for Lisa and Idan’s wedding, and more partying ensued.  Lisa looked beautiful and Idan handsome, and the dance floor was filled the whole night, spilling out onto the carpet just beyond.  I’ve never been to a Jewish wedding, and I can’t wait to go again!!  The rhythm of the music makes it impossible not to dance!  I still have “Hava Nagila” playing in my mind…in fact, I think it’d be a great song to hula hoop to!

In job news, well, there isn’t any news.  I did, however, speak with a career coach last week.  Simply talking to her raised my confidence level a couple notches, and made me more excited to start looking for something.  I think it will be helpful to have someone to whom I’m reporting my progress, because otherwise it would be too tempting to procrastinate.  I will keep you updated on what I learn through the experience because I know her guidance will be invaluable.

I was in line at Staples yesterday, listening to the mother-daugher pair in front of me converse with the sales associate.  The daughter was getting ready to head to NYU for college, and the associate was preparing to study law at Mason.  Their excitement for school was contagious and had me reminiscing about UVA and AU and the joy and possibilities that learning offered.  I thought about my new endeavor…finding a career, and I chastised myself for not exploring possibilities earlier, for not taking advantage of everything college presented.  I reminded myself again that the experiences that I did have shaped me into the person I am now, and the feeling of guilt subsided.  I’m not able to experience the anxious excitement of returning to school to explore possibilites, but I am now in the unique position to discover what career will work best for me, for now anyway.  I think one’s ideal career may shift and change in a lifetime, and that’s part of what makes life so interesting.  College is over, but the learning continues.

Today was a good resume-boosting day.  I heard back from Hogar Hispano of Catholic Charities, and I will go in September to a training class to help Spanish-speakers apply for citizenship.  Not that I’m doing it to build my resume…I think it’s an opportunity to use my language skills to help others, and to meet new people in the process.  A friend of mine who works for the American Cancer Society (ACS) also called me today to ask if I would speak at the upcoming “Bark for Life” walk sponsored by ACS (for more info, see  Ideas for a speech are slowly emerging, and I’m really looking forward to putting it down in writing.  This is my chance to thank Jameson and Guinness for all they’ve done for me as caregivers…yup, they refer to dogs as “canine caregivers”.  Sure, maybe Jamie and Guinness won’t understand all that I’m saying :) , but they’ll be by my side while I speak, my guardian angels, as always.

It’s interesting…after TNT this weekend, thinking about Hogar Hispano and also Bark for Life, the word “community” feels more powerful than it previously has.  Cancer taught me the importance of community, and it opened up doors that allowed me to be directly involved with mine.  Remember my moments of fame on the radio?  And then there’s the speech to the blood donors.  Of course we can’t forget TNT, ACS and fundraising.  These occasions gave me confidence to be more outgoing, to really reach out to others.  Now I have another opportunity to speak to the community with Bark for Life, and I will be able to reach out to the Hispanic community through volunteering.  Giving back is a high I know I won’t be able to give up.  I enjoy it, and I thrive on it now.  Sounds pretty selfish, I know, but isn’t that what they always say about reaching out to others?  One of the greatest benefits is how it makes you feel.  Thank you, cancer, for giving me the strength and the confidence to discover the ultimate meaning of “community”.

If anyone out there wants to come out to Bark for Life (and bring your dog!), it would be fun!  There will be a walk and some other activities, including an agility course.  It’s time to honor those quiet caregivers and companions whose mere presence is comforting.  For me, one of the tenderest (is that a word?!) moments will always be when Jameson approached me one night when I was giving myself chemo at home.  I lay on the couch, my eyes glued to “The Golden Girls”, trying to stay awake to take care of my pump once the chemo was all infused.  He walked beside the couch, leaned his head over and rested it very gently on my neck for a few seconds.  He then made himself comfy on the floor beside me, but his touch seemed to say “Don’t worry…I’m here.  It’ll all be OK”.

Another long post…I know.  But before I go, I wanted to share a few quotes with you that seem appropriate as I face this transition in my life, quotes that might inspire you someday.  :)

“Whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re probably right.”

- Henry Ford

“Life is not a matter of holding good cards, but of playing a poor hand well.”  (not that I have a poor hand now, but I did have a couple sucky hands there for a while :) )

- Robert Louis Stevenson

“I am not afraid of storms for I am learning how to sail my ship.”

- Louisa May Alcott

“Things turn out best for people who make the best of the way things turn out.”

- John Wooden

“Most of the shadows of this life are caused by standing in one’s own sunshine.”

- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Lots of love to all of you!