Thursday, October 2, 2014

Be Brave - My Mother's Story

To be honest, Breast Cancer Awareness Month sometimes scares me.  The biggest part of my anxiety issue is the "what ifs".  Even though I do a monthly breast exam and have a yearly mammogram, in the back of my mind I'm always thinking that I've missed something. Every October that worry is magnified because everywhere I turn, I see pink, and hear another story.  

It's also the month that my mother found out she had breast cancer.

All of the women in my family have lumpy breasts, so we often get summoned back for another "look".  My mom didn't give it a second thought when the breast center asked her to return for more pictures.

I'll never forget the moment she called and told me she had cancer.  The world around me became slow and hazy.  I tried to focus on what she was saying, but everything was drowned out by that one word - CANCER.  How could my mom have cancer?  She was only 56 and very healthy.  Cancer happened to other people.  Except this time it didn't.

Two weeks later she had surgery, and after they wheeled her away I sat in the waiting room and cried and cried.  I needed my mom - my kids needed their grandma - it just didn't seem fair.

But fair had nothing to do with it.  Cancer can happen to anyone.  

In the weeks that followed her surgery and subsequent radiation, my mom was physically weak.  I cleaned her house, did her grocery shopping, took her to appointments.  I thought if I stayed loud and busy I could push the fear away - fear that I might lose my mother.  Fear that I might get breast cancer too someday.

But it was during the quiet times where I finally fought the fear. Sitting with my mother, I learned how strong she truly is.  Through the weeks of her treatment, she stayed positive, brave, and resolute.  Even though she also had moments of fear, she remained determined to beat this terrible disease, and she never gave up.

My mom has given me many things in my lifetime, but she gave me the greatest gifts when she was fighting breast cancer.  She gave me strength, taught me resilience, and reminded me to look for the positive in any situation.  

And what we all learned was the value of early detection.  Because my mother's cancer was caught early with a routine mammogram, she was able to be cured with a partial mastectomy and six weeks of radiation therapy - no chemotherapy or further surgery was needed.

So finally I get to my point, which is this.  If you've never had one or it's been a while, PLEASE schedule a mammogram this month.  Not knowing about cancer won't make it go away.  If you're afraid to do it for yourself, do it for your children, your spouse and your friends.  Don't wait any longer.

It's been fourteen years since my mother's diagnosis, and she remains cancer free. Every year when she returns from her mammogram with an "all clear", I am so thankful. And every January when I schedule my own exam, I hear my mother's voice in my head, telling me to push aside my anxiety and be brave.

Be brave.  You can do it.  It will be okay.  Thank you mom.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Fall Trends: Moto Boots

Nobody is ever going to confuse me with a biker chick - I'm just not that cool, but it's okay - I've accepted it.  My one and only motorcycle experience was riding on the back of my brother's new Harley - and I'm pretty sure I had my eyes closed the entire time because it was terrifying.

In my defense, my brother drove me around like a crazy person.  Because....well, that's what little brothers do to big sisters, even when they're adults.

So you're never going to see me cruising down the open road on my hog, but I do like a nice pair of Moto boots, and luckily, they are back for fall.  They give any outfit a touch of edginess, especially when worn with skinny jeans or leggings.  I've also paired these with a casual dress and denim jacket.

This pair has some serious hardware going on.

These are just fun, no matter what you wear them with!

The details and higher heel on this pair is really pretty.
Any fun motorcycle experiences you want to share?  They've got to be better than mine!

There's still time to sign up for the Fall Style Me Pretty Challenge.  The shopping list will be released this Friday, and the daily outfits start arriving in your email on the 12th.

Fall Style Challenge - Full Size Square

This will be my third Style Me Challenge, and I cannot say enough good things about it! Alison has amazing style, and shares it all during the 21 day challenge.  If you don't have a lot of money in your clothing budget - no worries.  I usually find many of the items are already in my closet, and it's easy to substitute with pieces that you own. Plus, Alison's picks are always very budget friendly.  The girl knows how to shop a Target sale!  The best part? Not having to figure out what to wear every day - because Alison tells me!

Click on the link to sign up or find out more information about the Fall Style Me PrettyChallenge - any questions, leave me a comment or shoot me an email!

**In the spirit of full disclosure, this is an affiliate link, which means I will get a commission if you decide to join the challenge.  I only recommend products and programs that I use and love myself, so I know you'll be in good hands!**

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Seeing Stars

Sunset from Mauna Kea high above the clouds

On our trip to Hawaii in 2009, a friend suggested we visit the Mauna Kea Observatories, located at 13,796 feet on top of an inactive volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii. Due to the low humidity, clear skies and lack of city lights, Mauna Kea is one of the finest observatory sites on the planet.

We left Kona about three hours before sunset.  Our first stop was the Visitor Information Center at 9,200 feet.  Because it only takes a few hours to go from sea level to almost 14,000 feet, it's important to stop here and acclimate for 30 minutes or so.  

Soon we continued our way upward to see the observatories and watch the spectacular sunset from the top of the world.  There are currently thirteen optical and infrared telescopes being used for astronomical research at Mauna Kea.  All of them are privately owned and not open to the public, but visitors are welcome to walk around outside.

Because there is 40% less oxygen at 14,000 feet, we only stayed long enough to watch the sunset and take a few pictures.  Some members of my family (who shall remain nameless :) were not feeling too well after only twenty minutes at the summit.  It was also COLD and windy - something we weren't accustomed to after a week in Hawaii.

We headed back down to the Visitor's center for the Stargazing Program, which was the highlight of the night.  High powered telescopes were set out manned with experienced guides to explain what we were seeing.  Because Hawaii is near the equator, you can see stars from the Southern and Northern Hemispheres from there - 85% of the stars that are visible from earth.

It was a spectacular experience.  Through the telescopes we were able to clearly see Saturn and its rings, Mars, the complete Southern Cross, and the Great Andromeda Galaxy. The guides used laser pointers to draw out the constellations - and the boys got quite a lesson in zodiac signs.

Credit:  Mauna Kea Visitor Information Station
It's not your normal Hawaiian activity, but it was a once in a lifetime experience to see the sunset and stars from Mauna Kea!

Monday, September 29, 2014


Last week, my husband ran out of soap.  Usually I keep several extra bars stashed away, but when I was shopping the store was out of stock, and then I forgot all about it. It wasn't until I went to put a new bar in the shower that I remembered.  Normally not a big deal, except my hubby is very particular about his soap brand.  I've known him for 32 years, and with the exception of vacations, he always uses Tone Soap with Cocoa Butter.

When he called me on his way home from work, I mentioned that we were out, and he decided he'd better stop and pick some up.  I laughed and told him I'd never known anybody so loyal to a bar of soap.  

The more I thought about it, I realized that I've never known anybody more loyal, period. My husband is loyal to his friends, his children, our business, and most of all...


He has many wonderful qualities.  I love his sense of humor, and he is kind, hard working, strong, compassionate, never gives up, and tells me I'm beautiful every day. He is the very best dad to our two boys, and he puts our family above all else.

Today is our 24th wedding anniversary, and it's been over 32 years since we went on our first date.  We were in ninth grade, and his mom had to drive us to the restaurant. The eight years between that night and September 29, 1990 had a lot of ups and downs.

But since that day 24 years ago, my husband has been true and devoted to me.  He has always been there when I needed him, offering his constant support.  He never looks at me like I'm crazy, even when I am.  No matter where we are headed, I know that he will be by my side, loving and encouraging me.


And I am one lucky girl.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Sharing Some Gratitude Part Five

How can it be the end of September already?  It's time to share some gratitude!

--I'm grateful for this kid.  His first quarter of community college went great, he passed his electrical ASE certification, and got a promotion at work.  Not to mention, he's sweet and funny and takes all my outfit pictures for me.  Yesterday he offered to chauffeur me around while I ran errands.  Who says teenagers aren't useful?

--I'm grateful for September.  It's my favorite month of the year.  The weather is perfect, pumpkins are for sale, fall is in the air, and Nestle's Pumpkin Spice Chips are in the stores. They are so good - I may or may not have a few bags in my pantry, waiting for me to eat them!  I got married in September because I love it so much.

--I'm grateful to be participating in #100HappyDays on Instagram.  It goes hand in hand with my gratitude journal, and I feel less anxious when I focus on the positive.  It's been thirteen days since I started and I haven't missed one day yet.  Follow me on Instagram to see my daily pictures.

--I'm grateful that we have a new back deck.  Our house is sixteen years old, and due to its Western exposure, our deck takes a lot of abuse from the sun and rain. It was past time for a replacement.  I'm happy (and grateful) to report that it's almost done!  One more topcoat this weekend and we can move the furniture back and start enjoying it again.  Here it is mid makeover.

--I'm grateful for Abby, our seven year old lab.  She's my constant companion during the day while everyone else is at work and school.  Once my hubby gets home though, she only has eyes for him.  Oh well, we'll always have Mondays!

I hope you find what you are grateful for.  Have a wonderful weekend!

Friday, September 26, 2014

5 Favorite Pictures I've Taken

This week the Lifestyle Sistas and I are sharing the 5 favorite pictures we've taken. Once again, this was SO hard.  How to choose only five?  I finally had to narrow it down to pictures that are currently on my desktop, and even then it was difficult.

The first picture above was taken from our deck last winter, looking out at Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains.  There are some spectacular sunsets around here, especially on cold, clear days.  My hubby says it's because of all the air pollution - way to spoil a perfectly beautiful sunset :)!

I took this of my niece and nephew at the beach.  The shadows you see above them are five adults all trying to get them to smile for the picture - not an easy task with this pair! Love those cute little faces!

This is our dog Abby on the day we brought her home seven years ago.  She went missing (oops, bad new puppy owners), and I found her in the garage, snuggled up in C's hockey bag. If you've ever smelled hockey gear....let's just say, I hope you haven't had the "pleasure". Apparently Abby found it comforting.

This is T playing in the ocean at Manzanita.  I think it captures the joy of the experience of running in and out of the waves - for hours.

I love everything about this picture.  We were SO proud of C on his graduation day, and he was pretty proud of himself too.  As soon as we found him after the ceremony, my hubby gave him a huge bear hug.  I cry every time I look at it.

Hope you'll link up below, or join us next Friday for 5 things I love about Fall.  Check out my other Lifestyle Systas!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Two Weeks To Live

Creating a list of things to do before you die, or a Bucket List, was made popular by the 2007 movie starring Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson.  The main characters, both suffering from terminal cancer and with less than a year to live, traveled the world, crossing things off their "must do" lists.

Since then, the "bucket list" is everywhere - Summer Bucket List, Photography Bucket List, Family Bucket List, Date Night Bucket List.  The possibilities are endless.

But what if you only had two weeks to live?

Yesterday I saw a news story about a local man who was diagnosed with gall bladder cancer last week - and given only two more weeks to live.  But instead of curling up in a ball of sadness and anger, 60 year old Frank said, "We know it's going to happen. You've got to live each day for the moment".  His positive attitude in the face of such a horrible diagnosis humbled and inspired me.

Originally, Frank created a bucket list of things he wanted to get done around the house in order to help his wife and family.  But they added some fun things as well - decorating now for one last Christmas, and having a symbolic wedding ceremony for his daughter, due to be married next Spring.

After I wiped my tears away, I started thinking about my own bucket list, if I were faced with similar circumstances.  Two weeks is a very short time - not long enough to travel to far away places or arrange major adventures.

Obviously, I would want to spend every moment possible with my family and close friends.  I would want to go skydiving - something I have always thought about doing, but haven't yet summoned up the courage for.  I would want to see one more sunrise, hold one more baby, and eat lots of cupcakes.

And just like Frank did, I would spend some time writing a letter and recording a short video for each of my family members, as a reminder of my love for them.

Most of us will never know for certain that we are two weeks from our death.  I can't even imagine what that must feel like.  I hope that I would be as brave and giving as Frank.

What would you do if you only had two weeks to live?
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