The magic and sparkle around us

On the last day of our vacation, I skied partway down the mountain alongside my snowboarding husband and son when we stopped for a moment to take a break. The weather felt relatively warm under cloudy, grey skies, though the trees alongside the trail were covered in ice.

Close-up of ice:

Ice on the trees - Mt. Snow

Trees along the trail:

Trailside trees at Mt. Snow

Suddenly, before our eyes, this entire row of trees sparkled as though filled with multi-color glitter, changing the entire view. We stood in awe of the transformed scene. Then, just as quickly as they appeared, the colors returned to grey. However, our perspective on those trees had shifted and we knew they held magic.

Later that evening, during our drive home, one of our sons noticed that if you looked out one side of the car, you could clearly see the stars, but not from the other side. On that side, the city lights, though not nearly as powerful as a star, were close enough to block out the starlight. We thought it ironic that the stars themselves were significantly more powerful than our earthly electric lights, but the electric lights drowned them out simply because they were closer.

Though we would have enjoyed seeing the stars, we didn’t need to see them to know that they were there.

I feel that way about the magical beings around us and the magic we each carry inside. Like the stars, that magic is stronger than I can comprehend, even though it can be hard to notice when daily life gets too loud. Like when I ski, I often move too quickly or focus elsewhere and miss seeing the sparkle. Still, I know that the magic and sparkle are there. And when I slow or stop the action and pay attention, I am giddy to actually see it.

I appreciate the magical beings around me, and I honor the magic you share with me. Thank you.

I dedicate this post to my dear, dear friend Shira. I feel honored have shared this path with you. Thank you for inviting me to stop the action and noise in my life, and experience the power of your love as you transition into the next life. Thank you for blessing my life with your light and magic. Good travels, my friend. Your love and magic remain with us. 

Being cared for and carried

Last week, we got to travel to VT for skiing, snowboarding and, my personal favorite activity, visits with friends. They invited us for dinner, which included a chicken and chickpea soup in a thick broth. I no longer eat chicken but I love a thick broth and wondered how I could create that with a vegan soup.

When we returned to our place later that night, I noticed a recipe in my email for a vegan soup with greens and chickpeas in a THICK BROTH. The sender was a random cooking site, and I was thrilled with the serendipity.

These kinds of events make me feel like I am being cared for and carried.

Your positive prayers and intentions also make me feel like I am being cared for and carried. At this same friend’s house, I also recalled that we have been seeing each other during this same week every year for about four years. Four and even three years ago, I felt easily tired. Once, I had to find a bedroom to rest.

But this year, I feel like my energy was normal, even great. I likely overstayed my welcome, leaving quite late. And I got up to go skiing the next day.

I recognize this as the difference you make. I truly appreciate going to a dinner party and actually eating dinner with friends, being able to help a little with clean-up, and visit for awhile afterwards. I don’t take this for granted, and I thank God and each of you for your help in making this all happen.

It also makes me happy to know that this happens for others as well. About a week ago, I had tea with a friend who happens to be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. She was bubbly and effusive and full of stories. She talked about the day she received her diagnosis. Months before she even suspected, she planned a gathering with a group of old friends from all over the country. They arrived and reconnected, then she got the phone call. Though the news was difficult, of course, she said she could not have been in a better place and with a more supportive group. She was totally taken care of.

In addition, between her diagnosis and the start of chemo, she was able to take an already-planned trip to Israel with her church, where she had all sorts of unexpected and spiritually uplifting experiences, strengthening her spiritually in preparation for her treatments.

I am grateful for all you do to strengthen me. It helps me to do the simple things that make up my life and mean so much. I am grateful knowing that my friend Debbie has similar moments of grace. And I am grateful that you are open to any and all possibilities as they unfold.

Love and blessings,


Indirect learning, and sharing

At last Sunday’s gymnastics meet, J-man did not do as well as he hoped. This happens. He enjoyed the actual meet, but after they presented the awards, our conversation went something like this:

J-man: “Fourteenth. FOURTEENTH?”

Me: “There were lots of good kids.”

“But my scores were really good. Fourteenth?”

“Would you have been happier with second?”


“But the kid who got second wasn’t happy with second.”

“That’s the way it goes. But I would have been happy with second.”

“Were you happy with your scores?”


He mulled that over, then we returned to the lobby, where he spent a lot of time walking on his hands while I was busy making sure we had all the various pieces we came with. Each time I glanced at him, he seemed to be walking on his hands. It felt like more than usual, but I was distracted, checking out the vendors in case there was anything I absolutely had to have.

He asked if he could walk on his hands to the car.


“If I put shoes on them?”


Once in the car, he examined his trophy with disdain.

“I might as well not have a trophy. Fourteenth!”

He complained off and on for the 1.5 hour drive home. When we arrived home, he was playing with the trophy on the kitchen counter when it fell and broke. Tears ensued, the conflict between his heartbreak of it not being exactly what he wanted, while still being the treasured result of his hard work.

Later that night, we remembered that tomorrow was his turn for “News Flash” at school. (News Flash is kind of like Show and Tell, without the Show part.)

“What do you think you want to do for News Flash?”

“I don’t know. I can’t say that I came in fourteenth. No one will understand how hard it was to even get that.”

We batted around some ideas while he walked on his hands, then we let it rest.

A little while later, he piped up, “I was watching some of those other kids today. They were really good. And I saw that I needed a little more bend in my back to walk on my hands for longer. And I tried it, and it worked.” He was beaming from inside.

Ah – that was why he was incessantly walking on his hands. It was a newfound skill. AND, it was something hugely positive he got out of being part of the competition that had nothing to do with the actual events.

I was proud of him, AND I can relate. I feel like this cancer thing is hard and even if I do my personal best, I sometimes fall short in comparison to where I feel I should be. The progress I work hard to achieve often doesn’t look like much in the regular world. But, as I am immersed in the world of cancer, if I pay attention, I gain hugely positive insights and experiences that I may not have noticed if I were not immersed in this world, and they help me along the way.

As for J-man’s News Flash, he didn’t go with the hand-walking story. Instead, he told his class, “I was in a gymnastics meet. I got a trophy.” It was much easier to explain.

Setting goals

We set life goals, tangible and intangible, such as achieving a level of professional success or creating a certain style of life. We also set near-term goals. For example, when I used to run, I would decide to run three miles, then along the way, set mini-goals of running faster until the next lamp post. These smaller goals helped me in reaching the larger goal.

Since my diagnosis, the tone of my goals has changed to sound more like, “How long can I live?”  I set out for 20 years and the mini-goals, so far, look like this:

– See our older son make his First Communion and be able to host family
– Attend his fourth grade poetry reading and listen with my whole heart
– Help our younger son transition to his “real” school (from preschool)
– Celebrate another wedding anniversary with my husband (I reset this one every year)
– Prepare for and attend the First Communion of our younger son

I feel so lucky to have attained the first four, and I have the fifth one in my sights.

In the meantime, as other goals pop into my head, they get added.

For example, last week, I was loving my 10-year-old car. Yes, it has given me problems here and there, but lately, it felt reliable and like it would go on forever.

Goal: I would love to outlive my car.

Immediate gut response: Careful what you ask for.

The next day, I started the car in our garage and slowly backed out. The engine felt sluggish, but I attributed that to our crazy-cold weather. As I backed up further, the ABS and BRAKE warning lights flashed orange on my dash. Then the BRAKE light turned to red.

I checked the handbrake. I’ve driven with that on before, but it was not set. Halfway out of the garage, I thought, maybe I just needed to restart the car?

I turned off the ignition. Instantly, I realized my mistake, but the deed was done. I could not start it again. It wouldn’t even turn over. Not a click.

I looked over my left shoulder and saw the side of the garage door right next to me. I tried to open it, but there was not enough room for me to get out. I was effectively locked in the car. Sigh.

What were other options? The backseat doors were clear of the garage! I climbed over the seat. Not so easy to do with a colostomy bag, sore abs, and generally under-used muscles, but I did it! Once out, I felt thrilled with my little physical manipulations. One problem solved. Now to worry about getting the car started.

Just then I realized – it was FREEZING cold outside and the garage door could not close with my car in the way. We would be heating the outside for hours through an opening the size of a garage door!

Call to hubby, my salvation in all things that I cannot handle on my own.

Yes, I see some parallels to my body. Sometimes it feels a bit unreliable, but I can go for such long stretches of feeling good that I feel like the problems are gone. And then suddenly, they crop up again. I can feel trapped, but I luckily have been able to climb out. Maybe a little awkwardly and with some effort, but it works. And much of the time, I look at my situation and realize that I need help. Fortunately, help arrives.

My husband came home, pushed the car out of the garage, and charged it. He charged the battery, but it wouldn’t hold a charge. Because this is the fourth battery in 10 years, and we had countless mechanics say they can’t find a problem, it feels more like some obscure electrical problem.

It became clear that, as much as I loved this car, it was time to move onto another one.

So, check that goal off my list. Next!