Tag: Reverb 10

Miss You, Dad. 

Originally posted on December 23, 2010 (hence the reference to Reverb10). Bumping back up/Re-posting on December 23, 2015

I hate this day. I will always hate this day. On December 23, 2006, my father died from prostate cancer. As deaths from prostate cancer go, he was lucky. If you can describe dying far too young from a horrible disease lucky. He’d been diagnosed a bit more than 3 years earlier, had 3 good years where we all thought the disease had been caught early enough, the treatments were working. He was going to be one of those men who died 20 years later from some other old age related condition *with* prostate cancer. Not someone who actually dies *from* prostate cancer. I mean, who does that. As cancers go, isn’t prostate cancer one of the least deadly????

That’s what we thought. That’s what so many people think.

Yet, prostate cancer ranks second among cancers for deaths in males. Each year over 32,000 men in the USA die from prostate cancer.

I said my Dad was lucky. At least lucky for those who this horrid disease kills. He did not have years of suffering because the prostate cancer had invaded his bones. Internet searches yielded story after story of men who spend years in pain from prostate cancer of the bones. My Dad’s prostate cancer went to his liver, caused electrolyte imbalances which eventually stopped his heart. It happened fast. Far too fast.

In April of 2006 his PSA readings were normal, as they had been for the 3 years he’d been on hormone therapy. At his August check with the urologist, they had sky rocketed. In early September he and Mom toured England. While on the trip he started feeling some soreness in his hip (the start of a bone metasis).  A late September PET scan showed the spot on his hip, but also spots on his liver. October brought unproductive attempts at chemotherapy. Several trips to the hospital were needed to stabilize his electrolytes. I last saw him Thanksgiving weekend. He made a heroic effort that weekend to remain strong, appear normal to Kiddo. Shortly after we left, he collapsed. The following week he was so weak, he had to be moved to a nursing home. On December 23, as we drove to see him, he died.

His death and the Christmas season will always be intertwined.

The day 19 prompt for Reverb 10 was healing.  A prompt especially poignant for me this week. Because this is a wound which will never fully heal for me. A routine evening drive, just Kiddo and I, a quick detour to look at Christmas lights….suddenly the bandage was ripped away. The old wound exposed. I found myself with tears streaming down my face, quietly crying as we drove. Hoping and praying Kiddo wouldn’t notice, that I wouldn’t have to explain.

I remember after Dad’s funeral asking my cousin, who’d lost her father the year before, when it would get better. Her answer, “Never, but it gets easier”. 

Each year in the US, approximately 217,000 new cases of prostate cancer are diagnosed. Diagnosed early, this disease is often treatable, manageable, and not necessarily life threatening. Simple tests – the PSA blood test and the digital exam can spot problems early. I will never know if he hadn’t waited 3 years between his PSA tests whether the outcome would have been different for my Dad. But I often wonder. Don’t leave your family wondering. Get tested.
My cousin was right; now I can remember Dad fondly, think of him often, each memory doesn’t bring fresh tears. Grief securely tucked away. But this time of the year it all comes back. The pain, the anger, the questions, the guilt. Exposed as if he died yesterday.

And so, I hate this day. I hope that on the other 364 days of the year, I honor him in what I do. Use the life lessons he taught me, the gifts he gave me, the example he set. That these are apparent in my life, in how I raise my son. But this day, the day he died, will always be a day to condemn this awful disease. And remind the men in my life to get tested. Every year.

In December I’m doing an on-line initiative, called Reverb 10, designed to help participants reflect on 2010 and manifest what’s next in 2011. Each day participants are given prompts or thought starters to blog, tweet or journal.. 


Wonder and Letting go…Reminding myself

A week or two ago, a glance at this blog’s “stats” led me to re-read another long forgotten post from the Reverb 10 project. In this case, I was a bit floored upon reading my three year old words. The reminder of the importance of “play” or physical activity in my life was reassuring to read. Bringing to center of mind how much it helps me deal with the stress of life. How much joy it brings me. And how far I’ve come…while still knowing how far I still can go. Reenforcing why I have a mantra of “Fit. Active. Healthy. Strong.” 

But what really hit me in the gut was the reminder of facing fear.

Several months ago I rashly registered for a two day seminar on women and weight lifting. I’d heard of it through the “Everyday Paleo” podcast, and the list of presenters read like a who’s who of fitness people in the Paleo/strength training sphere.  These are people who have blogs, books  and podcasts I admire, follow or own. Almost immediately after registering, I had buyers remorse, thinking I didn’t belong, that I was too old, not fit enough to attend. That I would be out of place. That others would look at me and wonder what the hell I was doing in attendance. And pretty much decided I wouln’t attend. Never even put on my calendar. More or less forgot about it. Then the final agenda for the seminar came via email.

The line up was incredible. But the doubts still lingered. Then I read this post. Re-read it again. I knew what I had to do. I must attend. I need to step out of my comfort zone on this. If not, I’ll regret it. And always wonder what could have been if I attended. I refuse to live in a place of regret.

Today another reminder to face fears, this time in another aspect of my life. My career.

This morning I was talking to a work colleague who I consider a dear friend. In the course of our discussion, she pushed me to step out of my comnfort zone on a professional issue. That I needed to face a fear in order to grow – while at the same time reassuring me that I could succeed by doing so. Once again, led me to re-read these long forgotten words.

And re-post it, as a bit of a kick in the ass to put myself out there, and grab the opportunities I’m presented rather than letting fear hold me back.

The original post from December 2010 is below……


Combining two Reverb 10 prompts in this post. Not because the subject matter is the same…but because my reaction to both prompts was very similar. As was the throught process throughout the rest of that day.

In both cases, my immediate reaction was negative. As in I didn’t do that. I had no wonder. I let nothing go. Mentally kicking myself for not doing more, not doing “better”. Felt a little sad. My tweets to each of the the prompts reflected this initial reaction. But as the day went by, and I gave it more thought, the answers were clearer, more positive, a bit affirming. In both cases, yes, I’m sure I could have done more. Can name a hundred different things I coulda, shoulda done. Heck, we probably all can say that about most any aspect of our lives. But bottom line, on both wonder and letting go, they played a significant role in my year.

Perhaps one of the best things about this month long journey through the Reverb 10 prompts will be the affirming of the good, positive parts of the year, while recognizing the opportunities, shortfalls……….and synthesizing these to frame my very best 2011.

Prompt 4-

December 4 – Wonder. How did you cultivate a sense of wonder in your life this year? (Author: Jeffrey Davis)

My tweet: Today’s #reverb10 prompt has me bit vexed. Gonna have to think this through. Bit sad didn’t have immediate answer

How typical of me to discount the obvious. Cultivating a sense of wonder, a sense of play has become a staple of my life. The whole reason I began to work out, become more fit was to keep up with my now 11 year old son. Through that I have learned to appreciate more of life through his eyes. To not only value but to cultivate play. To constantly seek to learn, to try new things. 

I’ve blogged about appreciating Milwaukee, of exploring Chicago, biking California, riding a bike through the jungles of Mexico and single track In Wisconsin. Of a new appreciation of nature, of being outdoors that being more fit as given me. Play, wonder is a part of my life.

I cannot take wonder for granted, but I also cannot discount how far I’ve come.

Prompt 5 –

December 5 – Let Go. What (or whom) did you let go of this year? Why? (Author: Alice Bradley)

My tweet: Another thought provoking #reverb10 prompt. As I ponder “Let Go” think this may be more about what I should; not what I have

As I thought through this, I was reminded of a book I read probably 15 years ago, “Feel the Fear and do it anyway” by Susan Jeffers. Some of my most empowering moments or events this year have been when I have faced a fear.

Let fear go.

Taking the class and getting scuba certified, tackled a fear I’d held for literally decades. Let go of the idea that this was something I could not do, would never do.  Let go of the idea I wasn’t physically fit enough to complete the class, to pass the 200yd swim (my facebook friends may remember my elation when I not only completed the swim – but was the fastest female, beating several young women 30 years my junior). Completing the class was big. Actually getting certified bigger.

The second major fear milestone was to begin to bike commute. I’d let fear stop me from this for 18 months. Afraid of traffic, afraid I wasn’t fit enough to make the commute. Yet, once I finally faced those fears, overcame them heck, blew them away, I felt strong. Reaffirmed myself, and all that I can do. Brought both strength and wonder to my day.

There have been other ways I have faced fear in both my personal and professional life in 2010. I know this is a demon I will continue to face in 2011. I hope and pray I can touch back on these times I have looked a fear dead in the eye and conquered.

There are plenty of things in this life to stumble over, plenty of things to fear. However, I should never let fear of failing to be the reason I fail or worse, do not begin, do not try. Fear of failure is one fear I alone have the power to conquer, to finally let go………

Beautifully different is a very smart thing

In December I’m doing an on-line initiative, called Reverb 10, designed to help participants reflect on 2010 and manifest what’s next in 2011. Each day participants are given prompts or thought starters to blog, tweet or journal
 The Reverb 10 organizers gave us a couple days break with relatively easy prompts on days 6 & 7. And then hit us with this one:
Prompt 8

December 8 – Beautifully Different. Think about what makes you different and what you do that lights people up. Reflect on all the things that make you different – you’ll find they’re what make you beautiful. (Author: Karen Walrond)

My Tweet: Oh my after 2 easy days #reverb10 has me stumped. Different, how am I different? Is addition of word beautifully giving me pause?

Different, I can think of a million things that make me different. Or maybe make me feel different. 

Which made me think about hiding aspects of self. We probably all have them. Traits we think we need to hide from the world. For many years, in many ways the trait I choose to hide, because it made me different was my intellect. Even now, writing that feels odd. Like I shouldn’t be bragging. 

I have a high IQ. Not Einstein or anything, but high enough to have been pulled out of a regular classroom and placed in a gifted program by 3rd grade. High enough that I am a member of Mensa – a society for those who score at or above the 98th percentile on a standard test of intelligence. By high school, I realized this could intimidate people, esp. boys.  By my teens, this gift turned into something for which I was ashamed. Which lead to a rough few years, hell, decade or two if I’m honest. 

But eventually I discovered this wasn’t something to hide. Maybe it took some growing into myself. Maybe it took being around the right people, having the right challenges. Now I know I’m happiest when using my intellect. Happiest when being challenged. When having opportunities to learn, to grow.  When surrounded by other smart people. 

At times still find myself struggling with being smart versus being a know it all, but at least I’m not afraid to let this part of me shine.

Sure there’s still other sides of me that I keep tucked away. Other bits and pieces that may or may not make me beautifully different. But this is one I hope others see. 

Alive – Reverb 10 prompt 3

Prompt 3-
December 3 – Moment. Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year. Describe it in vivid detail (texture, smells, voices, noises, colors). (Author: Ali Edwards)
My tweetday 3. What moment this year did feel most alive?Short answer 50′ underwater after passing PADI dive certification. Blog to follow
This one was easy. Just reading the prompt brought back a flood of memories. Two vivid. Both from the same day. Within minutes of the other. Scuba diving in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. The dive where I became a certified PADI diver. The dive were I passed the final test – the CESA, controlled emergency swimming ascent. I’d been dreading this test since the day I heard it described by my classroom instructor. Struggled in the pool, finding it mentally difficult to swim slowly, breathing a slow steady stream of air. Convinced I didn’t have enough lung capacity to do this. Convinced that this one test would be the reason I did not achieve a life long dream of becoming a certified diver.

In the pool – both here in Wisconsin when I took the classroom/confined pool portion of the Open Water diver course and at my check-out pool work in Mexico, the more I worried, the tighter my chest contracted. The faster I swam. Too fast. In a real life diving situation swimming to the surface this fast I’d risk bursting my lungs as I rose to the surface -the air in my lungs expanding due to less pressure. But mentally I couldn’t get past the thought I’d run out of air. 30 year old flash backs to high school, getting certified as a life guard and struggling with the requirement to swim a pool length underwater.

Of course, in a pool you are swimming horizontally. You don’t have the advantage of the air in your lungs expanding as you swim to the surface. Both instructors – the WI one and the Mexican one, repeatedly assured me that I would not run out of air. The analytical side of me understood this. Understood the science. Knew I’d been well trained by great instructors. Yet, I was terrified of failing.

Breaking the surface after a remarkably easy CESA. Having the divemaster at the top say, “Congratulations you’re a Diver”. A true moment of being alive.

The second came minutes later. Having passed the final tests, we went back down for another dive.

Diving is interesting from a senses perspective. Sound is different than on the surface. Quiet, just the sounds of my breath. A feeling of weightlessness. Colors are muted – the deeper you go, bits of the color spectrum are lost. But yet, a constant beauty A world unlike the surface. Beauty combined with danger.

Swimming along behind the divemaster, he suddenly swam down through a vertical tunnel in the coral, taking us to a small underwater cave or swim through. This was significant. Until you are a certified diver, the guide or divemaster cannot take you through any swim throughs- you must always have just water above you. Here I was being led into a swim through. And at that moment it hit me. I’d done it. After so many, many years of wishing I could scuba dive, of being afraid, of not being physically fit enough, I had become a diver.  Alive only begins to describe the feeling.

Reverb 10 Prompt 2…writing

Prompt 2-
December 2 – Writing. What do you do each day that doesn’t contribute to your writing — and can you eliminate it? (Author: Leo Babauta)
My tweetfinding perfect few words-great 1st sentence to take idea from head to paper is what often keeps posts in my head not in blog.
Re-reading both the prompt and the tweet, I realize I really didn’t answer the question. Real answer is I procrastinate due to allowing an expectation of perfection from the start to hold me back. Looking at my edit posts page on blogger, I see many drafts staring back at me. Good ideas for posts that just can’t get written. Solely because I can’t find the right first words. Many have a single photo…the photo I typically place in the upper left of my blogs. Others just have a title. Good intentions. Left hidden because I can’t get past that 1st sentence.
How to eliminate is tougher. At work when this happens, I’ll skip forward. Start in the middle, come back to the start. Because I know I have to get it done. With the blog it is too easy to walk away, “multi-task”, give into distractions. Need to try that approach with the blog…I can always come back to the beginning.
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