The Truth Will Set Us Free


I never truly realized how complicated cancer could be until I faced it head on.  Part of what makes it so complex, I believe, is the fact that illness or not, we still have that inner gremlin inside all of us that tells us to care what others think.  It reminds us that we don’t have it as good as others do.  It urges us to focus on the flaws, instead of the fabulous.

I remember months ago telling somebody that at some point, I may have to undergo a systemic treatment that could be for the rest of my life.  Without missing a beat the person said, “That’s OK.”  And of course I immediately agreed with them, because that is what you’re supposed to do:  You put on your Positive Pants and nod and smile and say, “Of course.  If it saves my life then I’ll do whatever it is that I need to do.”  You want to reassure the person (and yourself) that you’re ready for battle and that no matter what, you’ll do what needs to be done.

And it’s not that that statement isn’t true, because it very well is, and it lives and breathes deep inside of you.  It’s just that maybe there’s more to it, and maybe, you want to say so without feeling like you’ll be judged or struck by lightning (or give those gremlins sharper teeth).g

When you have a life-threatening disease, when your doctors have made it clear that nobody knows how long somebody can live with an “incurable” illness, your inner gremlin comes alive (if it was dormant before).  It chomps at the bit, drooling over what an opportunity this becomes to make you believe that you’re weak, that your body is weak and betraying you, that life has betrayed you and that you are unhappy and will never have what others have.  That pot of gold; that endless trail of love and laughter and family and kids and a legacy and a career and baseball games and sandy days on the beach with pails and shovels and having breakfast with the Disney characters in Orlando and watching your love grow for years and planting gardens that you never even think you may not see bloom– it all evades you (or so your gremlins want you to believe).

When I started another life-saving treatment recently, I felt a surge of appreciation, maybe even happiness luck  (whoa, that sounds weird), coursing through my veins.  I know that not all Stage IV cancers even have treatments.  Not only that, but I only have to drive 45 minutes to get it at truly one of the best hospitals in the world, with one of the top melanoma doctors in the world.  That luck or care or fate or whatever you want to call it never passes me by without a flush of deep gratitude.

But then I had other thoughts, after the thank g-d I can get this treatment and I live here and I have people to come with me to Dana-Farber and I’ll never be alone.  These are not little things, but I had other thoughts that I wasn’t sure I should even say out loud.

Like: What if I get sick?  What if I get a side-effect from the drug and it keeps me alive, but I have the side-effect for the rest of my life?  Yes, of course I worry that the treatment won’t work (that’s my #1 concern, obviously), but I also worry that I will have rashes or headaches or stomach problems forever.  Or, that I may gain weight.  It sounds amazingly shallow and absolutely crazy, doesn’t it?  Like who cares if you don’t look good in a bathing suit if you’re alive?  But that’s not really what it’s about, I’ve learned.  Really.  (Except in a society where beauty seems so important, I guess worrying about these things just makes me feel like any other “normal” woman).

What is it really about though? It’s about feeling good.  It’s about having energy to live your best life.  It’s about a good quality of life, not just breathing, but living.  It’s about feeling like something in your chaotic world is in your control.  You may have to take a drug every few weeks to try and save your life, but what if you don’t get a side-effect?  Does that mean that the medicine is not working?  (I checked myself for a rash the first 72 hours after treatment in the hopes of actually witnessing my immune system ramping up, as if it could happen that quickly?  Or somehow that would mean that the cancer cells would already be destroyed?  My heart jumps with hope even as I write that last line).

Can the two co-exist?  Can I be incredibly grateful for this treatment and also scared of being sick?  Can I be scared that the treatment won’t work and also relieved if I do get a rash?  Can I drink a green juice one day and make those kick-ass brownies another and still feel that I am doing everything that I can?  Does everything have to be this complicated, or am I making it so?

I’m afraid that if I say that I don’t want to get sick or I do want to get sick or I don’t want to be stuck at home or I am bummed (for lack of a better word, and I just stared at the computer screen for minutes on end trying to find one) about being treated for the rest of my life (possibly) that would mean that I have some part in what happens.  That my mind is connected to how well this medicine works.  I get sick, I get well.  I feel well, I get sick.  Does it really work this way?  If anything could save me from this awful stupid unfair disease, I would do it/say it.  But what is it?  A green juice + not being able to leave home from side-effects?  Or if I want to get treatment and still just feel and be a normal person, I will be struck by lightning?  Perceived by the universe as ungrateful?  Misunderstanding the seriousness of how much I need this treatment?

I promise you I don’t.

I do understand how important this treatment is, despite what may or may not come, but I also think that cancer brings with it so many different complex issues.  We want nothing but time and we want to live as long as possible, but we also want to live a full life where we can travel and work and see friends and feel good about ourselves, our bodies, our choices, our lifestyle, our experiences.  And I shake as I write this, because never before did I realize or sit down to write the thought that life may not be worth living if I get that sick that I can’t actually live.  I do not expect this to happen, but when we take down that wall between me and the rest of the world, the wall between me and you, the truth of it all comes rushing towards us.  Let us be authentic, let us talk about our fears in the hopes of cleansing and finding a greater faith, let us speak the truth out loud in the hopes of healing.  Because that, my friends, is the best part of life:  The truth, and how it really can set us free.

I’m not sure if I’m quite there yet.  But just knowing that you allow my truth to be part of who I am is, for right now, more than enough.




Cotton Candy in Vegas


“I swear I can still taste that hope.”  ~ Geralyn Lucas, Why I Wore lipstick to My Mastectomy.

I take my thumb and index finger and touch both corners of my lips once more, making sure that the red that I have never worn before is not smeared like a four-year old who colors outside the lines. How embarrassing would that be?  It is just called “The Red” by Sephora and I have gotten one for G and one for myself.

Geralyn Lucas enters the room carefully (in high heels of course) and yet with a presence, and just like that I can only arrogantly tell you before it happens that she will change my life.  She takes off her huge black sunglasses that make her look like a celebrity (and I am sure that people are staring at her in this gorgeous dining room in Manhattan where celebrities sit behind curtains), and I am wrapped up in a huge hug and we are already wiping away tears.

Two hours later we cannot stop talking, and in between coffee and eggs (and more coffee!) the waiters have gently approached our table just a few times to make sure that we have everything we need.  “We’re celebrating life,” Geralyn tells one, and I think “This is my kind of girl.”

I want every second to be a celebration.

I am also scared to talk about all of this.

Another waiter approaches carefully and lets us know that if we want the buffet we may want to go now because it does close at 11am.  It is 10:50am and we have been talking for 35 minutes straight.  Another five minutes go by before we finally make it up to the buffet but then we start talking again and the waiter quietly smiles and tells it like it is:  “It is not pretty when they break this buffet down,” he says, and we laugh and quickly grab our yogurt parfaits and head back to our glitzy and chic table (that Geralyn called ahead to reserve, how amazing is that?).  We sit with our backs against a banquette and underneath the most beautiful, huge bouquet of spectacular flowers that I just know my Mom would adore.  I don’t really know what our view is because I am too busy trying to make sure that my red lipstick does not end up all over my coffee cup and more importantly Am I making sense?  Am I talking too much?  Am I crying… Again?  Does she know how cool she is?

She tells it like it is.  No holds-barred.  Is so open to answering my questions, immediately wants to connect me with Matthew Zachary (I’m too young for this/Stupid Cancer) and invites me to his cancer summit in the spring in Vegas.  The question doesn’t even fully register between her words and my brain before I know that we will be there.  Together.  Why not?  Cancer is stupid.

I ask her about her family, her diagnosis, her doctors, her book, and she answers all openly and honestly.  I ask her about sugar, because that is my question for those living with or in remission from cancer.  (I never consciously decided to obsess over that when I was diagnosed with cancer, it just kind of happened). She agrees that being healthy is wonderful but also says that caffeine, alcohol, and sugar are a super part of life!  I feel my shoulders relax; she is not one of these crazy “one muffin will kill you” kind of people. That is exactly the kind of person right now that I don’t think I should be around.  I am already putting too much pressure on myself after the doctors have found more and more tumors and wondering if it was the Coca-Cola lights that I treated myself to this summer while in Morocco that have caused this.

She shakes her head and becomes serious:  “Please, please don’t do this to yourself Samantha,” she says.  She looks into my eyes and all of a sudden our joking is put to the side and real life sinks in.  This shit is about to get real. “You are not to blame for your cancer, and having a smoothie with bananas or a brownie or a cup of coffee with milk is not going to make or break your cancer.”  Make or break.  I want to make.  I want to live.  Is what she’s saying true? How do I distinguish between the truth and fiction these days anyway?  I love her.  I love Kris.  Who is right?

But all I know, suddenly and certainly, is that I want to be happy.  I want to notice the power of my soul and honor it.  I want to live. I want to be healthy, of course.  I want to strengthen my immune system and feel strong and well.  I honestly do love my green juice and energy bites with flax seeds but I also love a latte and I don’t mean to brag but my brownies are kind of amazing, and I beg myself to just be able to release the guilt, the thoughts that hug me tight and won’t let go– that in fact, are strangling me.  I no longer want to suffocate.

I breathe.

I know that I will not get it perfectly today, or ever.  But I want to try.  Try to not let cancer grip me so hard that I miss out on my life.

“I want you to eat a piece of candy today,” she says, and I don’t even think that she’s kidding (that night I have gelato with friends at dinner).  “Cotton candy!” she says, and I laugh thinking about being almost 40 and eating cotton candy and that reminds me of being in an amusement park and roller-coasters.  This leads me to think about how I got here (because life with cancer = a roller-coaster), and how I will make decisions and how I can live with myself if I eat cotton candy and I have cancer. For any person who has ever had any issues around food, imagine that multiplied by a million and then add a few cups of guilt and shame and a fear of death and then I think maybe that’s why we can all relate to each other despite our circumstances: Because most of us struggle with finding happiness, purpose, and balance; not just those of with cancer (it’s maybe just a bit more “in your face” for us).  So much of this is about self-worth, about choices.  It’s about not letting ourselves just be on auto-pilot, thinking about what we put into our bodies but also thinking if our thoughts are punishing or loving or just how much we’re enjoying our lives.   Do we bully ourselves?  Do we treasure others above ourselves?  What is missing?  What isn’t? No excuses, no bull shit:  Are you happy?

We each get out our red lipsticks and reapply in the mirror of the restaurant, asking the waiter to take our picture.  “We’re celebrating life,” Geralyn declares again and I pull out her book and show the staff:  “Look!”  They ooh and ahh and take pictures of us with roses from the table that we hold up to our noses to show the world (and ourselves):  We’re stopping to smell life, cancer or no cancer.

She kisses my book, leaving a beautiful red imprint of her lips that have smiled and laughed and I bet tasted those salty bitter tears that come with having lived with cancer. “Thank you for being you,” she writes.

How do I thank her for being… Well, another guardian angel in my life?

I wonder what lies ahead, after our breakfast and months into the future.  I “future-trip” with Geralyn right in front of me after we talked about our meditations and being in the present moment.  I don’t want the breakfast to end.

But I’ll tell you one thing:  I’ll see you in Vegas, Geralyn, and I’ll be eating cotton-candy.


P.S.  Please watch this video from Geralyn’s website:

It’s freakin’ amazing and could SAVE YOUR LIFE!  #courageiscontagious

Gratitude Confetti


As I was driving home today, before dusk so the sky was still that beautiful brilliant fall blue, I noticed the trees lining the street just exploding.  Pop, pop… Pop pop pop!  Deep reds and fiery yellows and all of a sudden it was like an autumn rainbow right before my eyes.  I drove by a high school and watched as the kids ran back and forth chasing after the soccer ball, smiling to myself.  I always played soccer in the fall (except senior year when I convinced my school to let me take drama instead– we didn’t have gym class so we had to play sports), and I always hated it.  But somehow, seeing kids today playing with their jerseys and their shin guards and the bunch of sliced up oranges on the side of the field and the crumpling of the leaves and the sweet air that whispered through my car window… It just felt so… Comfortable.  Soothing.  Nostalgic.

I wondered, as I always do when I see kids playing outside, if I would have been a soccer Mom.  Strike that.  Would I have been a good soccer Mom?  We’ll never know, but if I had to put my money on it, given how much love I know my heart can hold, I would say: Yes.

But every day that I do not have children, I heal.  I do not want that love to go to waste so I let it bubble up when I’m with SHL and sometimes I try to see myself through his eyes.  In the end I just want him to know how much I love him.  I think I show him in the homemade peanut butter cup ice cream that he loves when I make, and by folding his laundry, which he hates to do.  I love to do things for him, and he doesn’t ask for a lot.

And I let my love pour out of my limbs and my heart and every inch of my soul when I’m with the rest of my family and friends; I hope you can feel it.  I think about you all every day, and every single time I do I shake my head in wonderment; how did I get so lucky?  My friends are so brilliant, kind, thoughtful, interesting, shining lights.  YOU are all so full of love.  Sometimes it feels like my own love can’t even compare, and the truth of it is that I’m afraid my heart will explode with gratitude. (I imagine little bits of gratitude floating through the air like confetti).

And so on those days, the ones where I wonder what my life truly does hold and how long I’ll be here to hold it, I come back to my memories of you.  Of our pasts, our laughs, our secrets, our jokes, our stolen moments that only you and I know about.  And then I think about the future.

We are “supposed” to be in the present moment, but sometimes I’ll sneak a glance into the future.  And instead of seeing cancer and treatments and scans and doctors and blood and needles and fear, I like to picture us– you and me– on a bench somewhere, in the sun.  Drinking coffee.  Laughing.  Planning.  Thrilled with the idea that we have time– plenty of time– to travel and experience and share and live.  To live without regret.  It’s because of you, my team, that I feel hopeful, that I can forsee (g-d willing) a long life filled with confetti.

It’s what keeps me going, keeps me fighting and so for that, I just want to say:

Thank you.




That Girl Is Me


As the rain pounds–hard– on my roof, my feet tucked aimlessly underneath me until they become pins and needles, I cry.  Not the pretty-girls-in-movies-tears-silently-and-slowly-rolling-down-your-cheeks kind of cry, but the awful, is-there-a-wild-animal-in-the-house, nobody-should-ever-have-to-see-me-like-this kind of cry.  I put my book down and wipe my nose across the sleeve of my sweatshirt, letting my body slump to one side.

I am crier.  Some of you may already know this and those of you who didn’t necessarily know it are probably not surprised to hear it.  It doesn’t seem strange that I cry at things like movies (Rudy is my go-get-’em-I-can-do-anything movie and it always makes me weep, especially the scene where he’s sitting outside on the bench and finally gets the acceptence letter into Notre Dame and HE starts to cry.  That’s when I just lose it!  Cue the music swelling!).  I cried like a baby when I got into the rental car with my parents after college graduation, once my Mom saw the look on my face after saying goodbye to my friends and whispered, “It’s OK, you can cry.”  I did exactly that, all the way to the airport, the 3.5 hour flight home, and OK until I crawled into bed in my parents house and wondered what I would ever do living so far away from my best friends now.  And I’ll secretly wipe away little soft tears any time my six year-old nephew tells me that he loves me.  I am a big pile of mush when it comes to Rom-Coms and anything baby-related and the underdog stories where the true heroes ultimately fight and win  (Hence, Rudy).  Also if I’m having a heart-to-heart with a friend over a cup of coffee or Sean and I are cooking in the kitchen together and he wraps me up in his arms as we stand at the stove stirring, I may tear up just at the closeness and connection between myself and another.  These connections are the crux of life.

But the strange thing is, I hardly ever cry when it comes to my own diagnosis.

This has been true all along, even when I was first diagnosed with eye cancer at the age of 28, though I cried more back then than I do now, even though the prognosis supposedly is much worse now.  It’s as though all of the bad things that have happened to me over the years have perhaps toughened me up or gave me thicker skin than I had when I was younger.  Or maybe, it’s that I’m afraid if I don’t “toughen up” I will just crack, like that egg with the guts running out.

So sitting on the couch on that rainy day, waiting for SHL to get home from work and reading my book, my tears surprised me almost as much as it does on a daily basis that I have cancer.  Sometimes I’ll pass by a mirror and catch a glimpse of myself and think, “That girl has cancer” before remembering that girl is me.

Once I started reading this book, I just couldn’t put it down.  It’s a memoir of a woman who I will be lucky enough to meet next week for coffee, and I wanted to hear her whole story beforehand.  All I knew is that she had breast cancer and treatment over 10 years ago when she was in her 20’s, lives in NY with her husband who she had a child with after the cancer, and she is an author, a motivational speaker, and has worked for ABC and shows like 20/20.

I could tell from the one voice mail and texts that she is somebody I am going to immediately like.  (You know how sometimes you “just know?”).

Sometimes when I read about breast cancer I feel removed from it.  I know that I could get it, that anybody could, and I of course do know people that have or had it.  But I think that there is so much info/awareness/support around breast cancer (after all, as I write this in October pink ribbons are everywhere; some years even yogurt covered lids are licked in support of breast cancer research).  I think that there is so much talk about Susan G. Koman and the Race for the Cure that sometimes it just gets filtered through my brain and strained out and not really paid as much attention to as it should.  And maybe that’s all because the thought of losing a breast (or two) absolutely terrifies me, or maybe it’s because I want eye and liver to get some glitz too– what color ribbon would we have? How many miles can we walk to save our body parts– more importantly, our lives?  But, breast or ovarian or cervical or liver or kidney or brain… It doesn’t really matter in the end, does it?

Cancer is cancer.

We’re all in this together.

But reading this woman’s story– diagnosed with breast cancer right before her 28th birthday, deciding between a lumpectomy and a mastectomy, married but no children, wondering if her eggs can survive the poison of chemo– was like reading my own, which caught me off guard because our cancers are completely different, our treatments like night and day, and yet– she’s so real, raw, and authentic.  So scared of the same things that I am, the things that very often I’m too scared to actually say out loud, afraid that if I give them a voice, they will come true.

She even talks about some of the horrors of being sick that most people would never really admit (like being unable to control your bodily functions).  Her courage makes me feel courageous enough to tell this story that I’ll never forget:  After getting colitis from my first round of treatment three years ago I was driving to my acupuncturists office when I had an accident in my car.  I ran into their office to use the bathroom and came out crying, the receptionist sitting compassionately but confusedly at her desk trying to figure out what had just happened and calling out after me: “Are you OK?” her voice echoing down the hallway.  But I was too ashamed to tell her, too embarrassed to even reschedule the appointment, and I ran out of there and never went back.

Cancer is ugly, and sometimes we want to hide the ugly for fear that others will think that we are ugly (or we simply don’t want to be pitied).

So as I read Geralyn Lucas’s Book “Why I Wore Lipstick to my Mastectomy” (to make her mark, to feel alive, to remind her doctors in the operating room that she is a real person and not just a procedure, that she was here, IS HERE), and as I sit in awe of this amazing woman who refused to wear a wig because she wanted people to see her (and not feel invisible), I get it.  I haven’t lost my hair, but I have lost.  A lot.

And I get it.

It is because of women like Geralyn Lucas that I too feel like I can take off my “wig.” (i.e. be myself.  Not hide.  Show the world my “scars”).

Maybe it’s not my hair that is “releasing,” and I understand from what I’ve read and heard how and why that is an extremely traumatizing thing to happen to a woman.  I don’t know about losing my hair but I have looked different through my treatments.  I have been sick.  I have been so puffy from steroids that I looked like the marshmallow man from Ghostbusters (I make a joke, but in actuality as life-saving as those steroids were, it was very hard to not feel embarrassed about how different my face looked while on the steroids for months.  And going to Vegas when you’re 28 years old to celebrate your best friends bachelorette party while having to stop in the ladies room every hour to put ointment in your eye while who knows what oozes out of it isn’t exactly the “What happens in Vegas Stays in Vegas” story I was hoping for).

I have been sad, and scared, and tired.  I have felt invisible, and I have felt too much in the spotlight.  I have wondered if SHL wishes that my left eye wasn’t branded with a huge red scar on my eyelid or droopy, wondered if he was ever embarrassed by my puffiness or the dark circles under my eyes or annoyed at my fatigue.  Just like she wonders about how her husband honestly and truly feels about her illness.  SHL has never once made me feel less than, but what woman wouldn’t ask the questions, at least to herself?  I have lost more than just my cheekbones; I have lost my ability to not think about death late at night when the rest of the world sleeps.

I have lost my ability to have children.

And as I start treatment again, this time for more tumors than I can count, she says that she is now wearing lipstick for ME.

And in turn, I will wear lipstick for any other woman who sits in the darkness of cancer and even with an army standing behind her, sometimes still feels overwhelmed.  Numb.  Terrified.

And so I shed my thick skin by writing, and I tell the stories that others maybe want to tell but are too afraid to.  I look at the monster under my bed, I cry on my couch, and because of Geralyn Lucas I think:

I will be brave too.  I will show the world my “scars,” my “flaws,” my suffering.  Because in the end, this is me, and I was here.

I AM here.

We are not invisible.  We are not just cancer.

We can handle the truth. We may be the underdogs, but we can win.




The Truth of It


I noticed my first red leaf today, and it took me by surprise.  I suppose in between doctors appointments and preparing for surgeries (two) that I was never going to have (at least not now) and trying to figure out how to boost my immune system and filing paperwork to take time off of work, it became fall.

I wonder what else I have missed.

I long to hash it all out, to find some sort of catharsis in the whole thing; to tell you about the many appointments, consults, research, decisions.  To explain that I woke up from the anesthesia last Thursday to find out that my surgery had been cancelled. My brain was still so foggy as I came out of the medicine and when I asked the nurse if I was OK (always my first question when I wake up) and she said, “You couldn’t have the surgery” (a really weird look on her face, I remember thinking), I felt so confused.  Was it the anesthesia?  Was I dreaming?  Did the power go out and the back-up generators never came on and they couldn’t do the surgery without electricity?  Did my doctor just get a text that there was a huge sample sale of doctor supplies in the city and he had to scoot out before ablating my tumors? t was all so surreal.

Fast forward to now:  The KACP (kick-ass cancer plan) has been re-written.  I suppose this is all, in the end, that matters, or at least that’s what I wanted to write– but given that the surgeon saw so many more tumors in my liver and that’s why it was cancelled, that actually feels like a pertinent piece of information.

“Dear Universe,” I wrote in my journal after this but before my appointment with my oncologist.  “Please send me a sign that my health and happiness will be OK.  Please show me that I am on the right path.”

(Yesterday out for a walk, I saw a mailbox with “I WIN” in big letters on it.  I laughed realizing that it was supposed to say “Irwin” but the “R” was so faded that all you could see was the I win).  “When we change the way we see things, the things that we see change.” ~ Dr. Wayne Dyer.

About a week or two before this journal entry I had been driving in my car and wondered if I would or could spot a miracle that day.  I was just getting ready to lay my head down on the pillow at the end of the day when my friend M and I were hanging up the phone after a long call, and truth be told, I had forgotten about keeping my eyes open for a shift in perspective or a sign from the universe the rest of the day.

“You’ve suffered enough,” my friend reminded me (after listening to me talk about all the ways I could blame myself for all of the bad things that have happened in my life, because sometimes you just want some kind of an answer, even if it’s you that’s the bad guy, and all the ways that you could be doing more)– “You don’t need to suffer anymore.”

I think this is what we’d call an “Aha! moment” or a “Come to Jesus moment” or at the very least you can picture me with a little light-bulb above my head.  This was my sign.  My miracle.

It is so true, and as she said it, I felt it in my bones; the truth of it, the weight of it, how much I contribute to my own suffering by beating myself up for having energy bites with dairy in them or skipping a day when I easily could have worked out or not feeling like meditating or not being able to keep up with emails and texts when people just want to support me.  When I surround myself with the holistic and spiritual world, I need to remember that I do not need to get it perfectly in order to be living well. I am so.hard.on.myself.  And for what?

I have suffered enough.

So as much as I want to tell you the nitty-gritty about the trauma of being woken up from a surgery that could never happen, about waiting to meet with my oncologist to figure out what the next step would be, about putting everything in a tiny little box marked “Wait and See,” the only thing that now seems truly important is this:

I am done suffering.

I do not deserve it.

It does not support me in my highest efforts to live a joyous life lived without regrets.

I am doing the best that I can.

I had two slices of pizza yesterday.

Wait, what?

Yup.  And they were damn good slices, too. And piled with veggies, which helps just a little bit. And this morning green juice and gluten-free toast and vegan butter.  I am an actual human being made up of all different kinds of emotions, feelings, cravings, thoughts, and beliefs.

I did Kris Carr’s Crazy Sexy You Program for 10 days.  Not 21.  I can focus on the 11 days and out of those 11 days the few times I had a cup of coffee or mozzarella in a sandwich but I’d actually much prefer to focus on the fact that I was vegan for 10 days (something that I never, ever thought that I could do), and that I haven’t had meat in almost three weeks.  That the day I had dairy I had to take no lactaid because I hadn’t had it in my system for so long that I didn’t even get sick.  That I now know how to make a kick-ass gluten-free vegan pasta dish with peas.

I don’t want to connect dots anymore that a) don’t need connecting, b) may not even be true in their connecting, and c) make me feel lousy about myself.

The negative self-talk is an obstacle to me living my best life.  And I want as much positivity as possible for the next step in my cancer (hell my life) journey.

So the KACP is in place:  I am beginning an immunotherapy systemic treatment next week. And maybe surgeries again in my future. And maybe not.  A box labeled “We’ll See.” (When you have cancer you kind of have to get used that box being around but put it to the side so that you can focus on the “right here and right now” box that is much, much more important).

And I have no intention of suffering any longer.  Enough is enough. An intention is super important here:  It helps us get specific with what exactly we’d like more or less of in our beautiful, deserve to freakin’ be happy, magical lives.  It reminds us to be aware of our goals without just “going through the motions.”

Today, I promise to be kind to myself, because I believe that my thoughts are just as important as the food that I feed myself. And I know that this intention is something that I will have to be thoughtful about  For the rest of my life. It won’t just resolve itself on its own.  I must work at it.  And so I’d really love to know:  What’s one intention that you can set for yourself today as well?


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~ Dr. Wayne Dyer. xoxo.


Colors, Shapes, and Years


I tiptoe around my broken heart, understanding the fragility, the way that when needed you crack an egg ever so gently against a bowl before letting the guts run everywhere. I realize, only when I can find time to quiet my mind, that I can’t pretend this doesn’t exist anymore.  It seems that with so many distractions these days we amaze ourselves by not holding on to any one emotion for more than a minute at a time, let alone feeling it, processing it, and then healing from it.  And if we admit that our lives aren’t perfect, what kind of doom and gloom will meet us then?  I think about the second I feel like I’m going to break how easy it is to just rock out to a Beyoncé song in the car or turn on the TV and envelop myself in some crazy Real Housewives, or pick up my phone and look at NY Times articles or Facebook feeds—all in order to pretend like my heart is not that cracked stupid fragile eggshell with the guts spilling out everywhere.

I wonder what would happen to my soul if I actually admitted that at times it feels as though my circumstances have completely and utterly demolished me. Would this be surrendering (i.e. giving up) or merely being authentic in a world so filled with faux this and faux that?  Social media has led us to believe that everybody else’s world is filled with perfect black and white photos of the all-American families with 2.5 kids, a dog and a white picket fence.  (And if I can’t post picture after picture of selfies with my kids then I can at least post my travels around the world.  I mean, I need to feel good about myself, right?  In reality I post my vacation pics because I love sharing my joy and passions with others, but I understand how vacation pics can = selfie pics with kids.  Too much of anything can be annoying, I know).  Would I—Could I?—become a happier person if I really let myself grieve for the fact that some others have what I want, what I will never have?

I let myself feel the disappointment in not carrying on a legacy. In not giving my parent’s another grandchild (especially one who lives close by and who they would be so engaged with).  Sometimes I regret not getting pregnant before the cancer spread, but then I think about how difficult it would be to face my own mortality knowing that I had a child (or children) that I may never see grow up.  It is times like these that I am a mess, so confused, so vulnerable, so full of gratitude that I do not have to worry about children, that I can focus my worry solely on the people that already exist in my life who thankfully don’t need me the way that a child needs its parent.  (I am not minimizing how much my husband or family or friends need me, but I understand that “need” may be different than the demands of a child).

It feels like a punishment, at times, and I think of stories that I’ve read where people say “I know somebody with cancer and then this bad thing happened to them and then this happened and you know what? I never heard them complain.”  Um, I’m not going to be that person.  Sorry.  Trying to get pregnant for over a year and spending every other day driving to get your blood taken and then going through IVF and getting pregnant and then having a miscarriage and then being diagnosed with an incurable cancer– oh yeah, no complaints here. I feel like I’m beaten down every month when I get an e-bill to pay for storing my frozen eggs. Not complain?  I’m not going to be become a miserable hermit, but I’m certainly not going to live a life under false pretenses, either.  And this is where my guilt kicks in:  Shouldn’t I just be grateful that I’m alive? As long as I’m breathing– which is more than I can say for others who have had cancer– maybe I should just keep my mouth shut.

But back to that beaten down thing.  I’ve left the door just a crack open on having children  because I haven’t been ready to give up on that dream.  And while that seemed the safe thing to do, and I think that it made sense at the time of the decision, I realize now that hanging out in limbo is actually just slowly crushing my spirit.

I think about my options and how in my line of work I discuss with people how they may not like all of their options, but most of the time we do have them. I hate all of my options.  Not have kids.  Have kids but not with SHL (that isn’t really an option).  Have kids with SHL and have him resent me for the rest of his life and/or be scared that he may have to raise them alone.  Discard my eggs.  Go to a fertility doctor and find out whether or not the eggs are viable, then discard them no matter what.  If they are viable, donate them.  Can’t do it.  As much as I would love to help another couple start a family, I have been through enough pain already and can’t imagine somebody else having my kids.

Yes, I hate all of my options.

But I listen to my gut, and the voice that lives deep down inside of us all has become so much more clear over the last three years of meditation. I now have a much better sense of what my head is telling me and what my heart is telling me.  And this time, both say to let go.  Grieve as if I have lost a limb.  Explain to the world and to other women maybe going through something similar that it is the most unfair thing in the world to wake up one day and literally go from imagining a life where you’re a Mom, to a life where you’re not, all in the blink of an eye, but it cannot (I repeat, it cannot) ruin the rest of your life.  I feel like the rug was pulled out from underneath me and I also feel like nobody can understand.  It is a feeling of deep, deep loneliness.  And I wonder if there are other people out there who have had to give up a dream but who also refused to let it define the rest of their lives. I tell my story because it is the only way I know how to heal, and I tell it in case somebody else needs to hear these words; the words that I wish I could hear from others.

Cancer has taught me an awful lot about life, things that I wish I knew sooner but realize that where I am today, where I stand, is just where I am meant to be (or at least this is what we tell ourselves), nothing to be done about the past (this is true). Things unfold in the most mysterious of ways and I can’t even begin to understand the crumbling, shattering illogical way that things sometimes pan out.  Good people have bad things happen to them.  Bad people have good things happen to them.  And so on.  It reminds me of the book that I read by Rabbi Harold Kushner called “When Bad Things Happen to Good People.”  He wrote it after he lost his son to a horrible disease.  But being honest, I still don’t quite understand why this is the way that things unravel (and though I do believe in g-d, I don’t believe that he has a hand in these terrible things that can happen), and it does feel like unraveling.  Like I’m caught up in a pattern of colors and shapes and numbers that I sometimes just can’t untangle myself from.  The color of death.  The shape of the baby that would have been.  The number of years predicted that I will live.

I refuse to pretend anymore like my heart is not in a million little pieces, but truth be told, I have been grieving over this since the day I was diagnosed; I still remember the room at Dana-Farber, I still remember my doctor telling us that most people with my diagnosis decide not to have children, and I can still feel the stillness of the air as we tried to take in this enormous life-changing piece of information.  It felt like time literally stood still and you could hear a pin drop.

My heart breaks but then I travel and live freely and find deeper and more loving connections with SHL than I ever thought possible and I follow my dreams of manifesting a life for myself where my words somehow have power and somehow, help other people to remember that a dream lost does not represent a life without breath. I have to think that these things may not exist if we had children.   I refuse to pretend like any of the decisions that SHL and I need to make are easy.  But I also refuse to let it crush my spirit, to let it define me as a woman let alone a person, to never live fully because one door has closed.  One dream has closed its eyes, but I have to believe that other dreams are just about to awaken.



The Monster with Wide Eyes


And just like that, July becomes August. All of a sudden I notice a shift in the air, difficult to describe in words but everything feels different; the rain, the heat breaking, the sun shifting mindlessly over the house at the end of the day, just a little bit earlier than even the day before.  The light has changed seemingly from July 31st to August 1st.  The last stretch of summer.

Summer always reminds me that the rest of the year feels like a completely different world than June-September, and it makes total sense. At this time of year we go to the beach (water has proven time and again to be cathartic to many of us, forget about the lobster rolls and sandcastles), we spend more time with family and friends, we take more days off of work, we make excuses to go get that ice cream cone that we may not “allow ourselves” in the winter or stop for a $6 iced coffee because it’s so blazing hot outside.  For me, my office becomes quieter, slower, and more relaxed.  The sense of anxiety and the rush to get things done just doesn’t feel as profound in the summer.  I love that it takes me 5 minutes less to get to work in the mornings (less traffic) and that when I get home from work there is still oodles of light and I feel like I have another half a day to get things done or take a walk or read before wanting to fall asleep in that deep slumber the way you do in the wintertime.

But we turn a page on the calendar and I can already feel the anticipation of the fall rolling around outside of Augusts’ edges. We know that we will have a whole month left of the beach and the light and the ice cream, and yet we start to feel the “Back to school” jitters with their  ads everywhere (just writing it makes me sick) and stores start to stock up on jeans and sweaters and boots and true to form, just as human beings so often do, we already have one foot in the door of autumn.

I hate it.

So I look to meditation to ground me, to keep me here, on Tuesday August 2nd, and nowhere else.  Not even this weekend when we fly down to Austin for a friend’s 40th birthday party.  As much as I want to be there already, I also don’t want to lose sight of today.  What miracles may I see if I am truly in tune with the present? It is so hard to be in the here-and-now.  We must practice if we wish to slow things down, to let go of depression around the past and anxiety around the future.

It’s an ongoing process, a struggle really. My mind constantly wants to be in the future as if I can somehow protect myself from anything that may happen if I think of it beforehand. If we worry about the future then we can prepare ourselves if something bad happens, right?

So not right.

So I tell myself that to live in the future is to create anxiety (and to live in the past is to create depression). But here today, I remind myself that no matter what may happen, I.Can.Handle.It.

And I have to keep telling myself that, because I don’t always believe it.

It’s always easy to say and not so easy to do. Don’t let the months in between scans ruin the days that you are lucky enough to have, I say to myself over and over again, as if my brain is trying to work out a complex math problem and the more I roll it around in my head the more I can figure it out.

I work on acknowledging my fear, instead of stuffing it deep down inside where nobody can ever get to it.  I picture a monster under my bed just like when I was a little girl and instead of pulling the covers up over my head like I so long to do, I wearily slide out from underneath the warmth of the bed and get down on my hands and knees.  And sure enough, there it is:  The monster lurking in the dark, just waiting to take me down.   “Hi Monster,” I whisper in the sleepy night.  It looks at me with wide eyes, just as surprised to see me as I am surprised that I can admit it lives there.  I get back up again and with a quick sweep of the room to see what else lurks in the dark crevices (who else can I worry about at 2am?), I pull the soft sheet around me and listen to the ceiling fan whirl.  The fear is there.  I have acknowledged it.  I am as scared as I will allow myself to be, and I begin my falling asleep ritual all over again as I put the state capitals in alphabetical order– anything so that I don’t think about death.  I have seen the monster, but now I need to move on to sleep and the next day and all of the good that lives beneath the fear.  If I start going down the rabbit hole of cancer at night, sleep will evade me forever.

Kris Carr says to invite your fears to tea (I’d actually much rather invite her to tea), and I am sure that you too can apply this to any facet of your life, for I know that I am not the only one who has fears. She believes that once we acknowledge them, process them, and work with them, then we can truly begin to heal.  One thing I know for sure is that the more I face my fears, the more I need coping skills.

My friends are very often supportive of me spending the free time that I have on myself; travel, spending quality time with SHL, geting that massage or pedicure, reading my book, meditating or going on spiritual or health and wellness retreats. But the truth is, all of us should probably be doing these things (or whatever feels “healing” to you), and yet we feel such a sense of heftiness on our shoulders to do for others, take care of others, and not appear to be “selfish” to the rest of the world.  So much of what we do depends upon how we think others will view us, doesn’t it?  Our kids, our parent’s, our spouses, our friends, our co-workers, our neighbors?

I’m sure there are a lot of Mom’s out there who would love to get a babysitter or put their kids in front of a video and do something nice for themselves; go take a bubble bath, a long walk, read a magazine, call a friend (call me!), those things when your kids are young that I bet feel so luxurious.  And even though I don’t have kids, I still feel confident in saying that probably if women (especially) didn’t feel guilty, they actually could find the time to do more of these things.  (I don’t cook for SHL or do his laundry, instead I’m usually working out or taking a warm shower or meditating while he is making dinner.  Does this make me a bad wife?). But what would the world think if you left your kids once a week for a date night with your husband?  Or what if you spent the whole weekend away while your parent’s or a babysitter watched the kids?  What if you left them at daycare in the gym and spent 2 hours taking a class and getting a steam?  If you have that kind of free time, shouldn’t you be with them?  (And I understand that very often you want to be with them.  I’m talking more about the times when you need to work on self-care). Or is it OK to spend quality time with them, when you are really feeling happy and present, over quantity time when you’re so overwhelmed with life that all you want to do is cry?

I somewhat get it; as much as I can without being a mother. The only thing I can say with my own demands and pressures to be a good wife, daughter, sister, friend, aunt and social worker (of which I take these resonsbilities very seriously) is that when I do for myself, I almost always do better for others.  Although I don’t have the day-to-day responsibilities of taking care of a dependent (unless you count my husband, in which case I think we’d both agree that I’m the dependent in the relationship!) I still firmly believe that we have choices.

The truth is, I take advantage of life because things have changed.  I woke up one day to doctors giving me an expiration date. And I don’t live by this expiration date, I refuse to in fact, but it is an overall feeling that has colored my world:  Do now.  YOLO (You only live once).  No point in putting off having fun.  And I sometimes wonder what my life would look like right now if I didn’t have cancer.  SHL and I would probably have children, but would be having this much fun?

I often think to myself:  Years (and years and years) down the road, when I take my last breath on this earth, will I wish that I had lived out others dreams for me?  Will I wish that I hadn’t taken that day off of work?  Will I wish that I hadn’t spent money on seeing the world, or flying to be with a loved one?  You know the answer and so do I.

I feel that up until the diagnosis of an incurable cancer I had lived an amazing life filled with all kinds of deeply rooted treasures, it was just harder for me to see through the haze of depression, anxiety, and insecurity.  These things still exist, but I am more aware of how important it is to clear the cobwebs as best as I can so that the universe can give me what I truly want.

Cancer or no cancer, I hope that you can read this and relate and maybe decide that you too want to spend more time focusing on your own happiness, with the double whammy that not only will you be glowing and living a life fulfilled, but your family will the better for it.  It’s hard, of course it is.  I can hear you mumbling to yourself right now, shaking your head, “She doesn’t know how hard it is.  I’m working and I have two kids and my husband travels and I have no family in the area and it’s.hard.” It sure is.  I wouldn’t wish that kind of stress upon anybody.  But shift your perspective, make a change or two, and do for yourself as much as you do for others, and see what happens.  Is having cancer hard?  It’s the hardest thing that I have ever gone through, with the exception of losing the ability to have children.  SHL and I now have a life ahead filled with mysteries that nobody our age should ever have.

It doesn’t always work, I can tell you that. There are days when I have the resources to go get a massage or not have to take care of kids after a long day of work and yet I still struggle with carving out enough time to cook a healthy meal, work out, or even just figure out today what will make me happy.  So I empathize with you and want us to support each other in creating the happiest lives for ourselves possible.  Let’s go easy on ourselves, OK?  And take it day-by-day.

Because life wasn’t meant to be taken so seriously. And since today is the only day that you actually have any control over, I hope it is a good one.

My mantra?  Look that monster in the eye, acknowledge that it lives, but do not let it take away your hope or your love of life, ever.

At the Surface


“Love is love is love.”  ~ Lin-Manual Miranda.


For days now I’ve felt like my emotions are right at the surface, and truth be told, I don’t like it one bit. It feels unnerving to never know if I am going to laugh or cry.  Some days start out fine, hopeful even, and end in sobs that put me into a deep if nightmare-induced sleep.

It all started after the Stanford rape case, but continued to get worse after the mass shooting in Orlando. I’m going to be perfectly honest, even if it makes me sound like a monster: I was almost numb to the whole thing the second I heard it.  In thinking about how I reacted and felt days later, I realized that a small little wall went up inside of my heart which said, “Oh no you don’t.  I am not going to even process this one.”  I was too afraid to really sit with what had happened to those innocent people who were just spending a Saturday night out with their friends.  It reminded me of what happened in Paris last year.  It reminded me of an old friend being trapped and killed in the Pentagon on 9/11.  It wasn’t just about the weapon used (though that had a lot to do with it) or who was targeted, it also just ignited that trauma flame that lives within all of us.  It reminded me of so much that I wanted to grow a shell and climb into a hard piece of protective wear that I could stay in as long as I needed to. What was I fearful of?  Perhaps that I would break down and never be able to pull myself back together again.

I’ve always been a really sensitive person.  Like, intensely sensitive.  When I was younger and we’d talk about our “flaws” in school I would always say that I was “too” sensitive.  Now, even as an adult, when I think about just how much my parent’s love me or how lucky I am to have SHL hold my hand at Dana-Farber, I have to breathe in the tears quickly and a good chunk of the time I can’t even do it fast enough and I have to pretend like I have allergies.  I can cry at the drop of a hat.  I can walk by a homeless person or see a dog with three legs and weep like the tears have been at the edge of my eyelids forever and were just waiting to be released.  It seems no wonder that I became a social worker.

Sometimes I think maybe it would be easier if I could just find a way to turn off that faucet, to maybe not feel quite as much, or maybe just not as intensely.  I love that my heart wants to explode with joy at times, but I hate when it wants to explode with sadness and anger and helplessness. But of course, if we can’t feel anything we escape the pain but we miss the bliss as well.

And yet I wonder, if I didn’t let myself pour my soul out into the world, perhaps the anxiety, sadness, fear and depression that living with these tragedies across the globe creates, as well as my own incurable cancer, all would just fester and then ultimately explode (or more likely, implode).  And at the same time, I do truly believe that the more we stuff deep down inside, the more it can effect our physical health for the worse.  So, we must find ways to cope. (Thank you, meditation).

I oscillate between dreaming of unicorns and having nightmares filled with bloodshed.

I haven’t been able to wrap my mind around another senseless shooting, just as I am sure that nobody in their right mind can. I am sad for human beings, I am sad for the LGBT community (of which I fully support, especially my friends who have been brave enough to live the life they deserve) and I am sad for people who think that some kind of gun control isn’t worth it because we’ll never be able to fully get guns off of the streets anyway and if you can carry a handgun you should be able to carry an assault rifle (Who needs an assault rifle?  For what purpose?).  No matter what we believe about the Constitution and our country, I would like to believe above all else that we don’t want any more innocent lives lost this way.  That this is never what the Founding Fathers had in mind for the future of our country.

I am reminded of after 9/11 (of which I can still hear the helicopters flying overhead and the smell from the WTC burning just a few miles from where I lived uptown), when so many conspiracies were floating around (and still are). Some people would say to me, “How can you not even consider the fact that our government could have not just known that this could happen, but could have even had something to do with it?”

My response was and will always be the same. “I just can’t wake up and get out of bed every day thinking that my government could have let such a thing happen.”  Perhaps this is what is wrong with the world; people like me who would rather pull the covers over their head than let any other theory ring true.  I honestly don’t know that I could get out of bed if I really and truly believed that our government had anything to do with that day.

But do I really want to pull the covers over my head?  No.  As the years go on and I have more maturity and investment in our well-being and understanding the country’s strengths and weaknesses, what I really want is to make a difference.  This is why I chose social work:  I just couldn’t stand the thought of going about my life as if no human suffering occurred when I felt that I could have had some kind of impact to help ease the pain of others.  It’s been an incredibly difficult career choice but also amazingly fulfilling and selfishly, when I have been able to help people even just a little bit, it feels like I could hang-glide off of a mountain without the hang-glide.

And so I ask everybody that I come into contact with these days: What can average American citizens such as myself do?  Is there ANY kind of power that I have that I am just not tapping into?  There are so many issues that I feel passionately about and I try to live my life in alignment with my own values; I try to be good to others as I would have others be good to me, no matter race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, religion, etc.   The Golden Rule:  Do unto others as they would do unto you. This does not make me perfect.  This just makes me a believer that as long as you’re not hurting anybody else, you should have the right to go off and lead any kind of life that makes you happy.

Now how do I get everybody in the world to just agree with me?  I say with sarcasm of course but we each believe that we are right and if only others would see it, the world would be such a more peaceful place, right?

I go back to the Stanford College swimmer rape case and the fact that this white, All-American wealthy athlete only got 6 months in jail, and I feel my emotions swell again underneath the tide until they are at the surface and I almost feel like I could drown. There is lots more to this case that we’re not hearing about on Facebook or through petitions such as the reasons for having an independent judiciary (and thinking about white supremacists trying to impeach Chief Justice Earl Warren after he agreed to make school serration illegal in Brown V. Board of Education). This is not just about the judge, it is also about the fact that it is possible to convict somebody of this heinous crime and only have them serve 6 months in jail and that is still staying within the limits of the law.  Having said that, the fact that we could have somebody in such a position of power who could make such a horrendously anti-victim/anti-woman ruling just makes my heart sink into my shoes.  I think about all of my friends who could have been Emily Doe and I think about my friends who are Emily Doe and it makes me so sick.  There are the emotions again, and I swallow my tears but never my compassion for people who are intrinsically intertwined with these tragedies.

There’s that helpless feeling again.

And yet the fact remains that blow after blow seems to be splayed across our TV screens and newspapers. A toddler is dragged into a lake by an alligator.  A singer is shot while giving autographs.  50 innocent people at a club in Orlando lose their life for absolutely no.good.reason.

We are at war, but not just with our outside enemies who do not agree with our Western culture/beliefs, but also with each other and with fate and being at the wrong place at the wrong time and mother nature. Sometimes it all just feels like too much.

We cannot seem to agree what should be done about anything; guns, abortion, the economy, creating new jobs, global warming.  People are becoming angrier and angrier, more stressed, irritable and glued to social media as a way to what?  Not actually deal with what is right in front of them?  Maybe.  I can’t say that I feel like I can always control my posting or scrolling or liking.  I find afterwards that I feel it is all a waste of time and yet I need to connect because somehow if I disconnect and don’t know what’s going than that makes me feel naïve and out of touch.  Or… Maybe we’re all so busy on social media trying to get others to think that our lives (and our husbands/wives/children/families/jobs/houses) are so perfect because if we let anybody else into the cracks in our homes or souls, we ourselves would crumble. And with the world seemingly crumbling beneath our feet, this is our last way of holding on for dear life.

I hear a senator say that the answer is to pray and I think how offensive this must be to people that do not pray/believe in religion or G-d and to people who have lost loved ones by guns.  For some people praying is an essential part of our beings, but we as a country clearly need more than that:  We need action.  I think about my friend HB  who, though it took 15 years, passed a bill in the State of Massachusetts (3 strikes and you’re out) in the memory of her sister M who was taken way too soon and by somebody that never should have been let out of jail in the first place.  15 years.  But she and her family never stopped trying.  And we can’t either.

I find it hard to believe that we can’t find a way to make some kind of a change; that ultimately, we are giving our enemies exactly what they want: For us to turn on each other.  For us to debate (which is OK as long as it is healthy debating that is guiding us toward a bigger and better solution) and yell and argue and start fighting tangentially about other things that don’t really matter– but then ultimately not be able to come together and make a decision for the betterment of the United States, and more importantly, for the betterment of human kind.

I feel like at any moment you could touch me with a feather and knock me down. I feel grateful that I can hug my family and friends but terrified that they could be taken away from me and not just by things as awful as car accidents or disease, but now from random shootings as well.  I feel crazed because like everybody, I just know that my beliefs are “the right ones.” I feel like I could cry for days and sleep for days and then maybe what seems to happen after every tragedy will happen again… We’ll raise our flags and post our comments and shake our fists and then things will go back to some kind of normal.

My emotions are right there at the surface and sometimes, I worry that my sorrow will just swallow me whole.  But I won’t let it.  And in this mess, this whole mess that seems to encompass the entire world, I stay strong in the notion that we can still try to find some answers.  I refuse to give up on myself and I refuse to give up on the world.

Sheep and Shamrocks



I can’t believe how quickly time is flying by now that the air has warmed and the sky is blue again. After what seemed like months of rain and cold and little spring, I’m not going to complain about 85 degree and sunny days here in Boston!  It’s such a beautiful time of year!

It’s amazing to me how slowly winter seemed to creep on… and on. Looking back on it I realize now that I didn’t feel well for 6 months; when you figure that’s half of a year it seems really startling.  I’m so grateful that feeling better though is correlating with the nicer weather.  There’s nothing that I’d love to do more than just play hooky all summer long and go to the beach and have FUN!

Alas, I did just return from a week of fun; an annual mother/daughter trip to Ireland. My Mom and I have been traveling together since I graduated from high school in 1995 and she took me to NYC for a weekend of theater and shopping.  Ever since then we’ve tried to do trips and though we’ve had to miss some years, this vacation we think was our 17th together!  We’ve done local things like the Berkshires and Maine, as well as Charleston, San Francisco, and Arizona.  We’ve also done some international things too like the Caribbean, Costa Rica, Belize, Peru and Iceland.  Since we hadn’t traveled for an entire week together in over 5 years (since before I got married) and with the winter being as difficult as it was on all of us with my health, we decided to go abroad again and hit up Ireland.

I had heard nice things about the country but didn’t know much about it except for sheep and shamrocks. Now that we’ve returned I can confidently say that it is a lovely country and I would nudge anybody with wanderlust to go explore there.  We stayed at an old schoolhouse converted into a small hotel, and we spent about a day and a half in Dublin—a perfect amount of time—(it’s not the prettiest city but they do have wonderful museums, pubs, and woolen shops).  We spent one whole day sightseeing; the Guinness Factory with drinks at the Gravity Bar with 360 degree views of the city; the Chester Beaty Library where we saw a Torah and other religious artifacts; the Writers Museum (cool for my Mom and I love who love literature); the General Post Office which had a beautiful exhibit (and a film almost as boring as Antietam) about the 1916 uprising, a huge part of Irish history; the Hugh Lane Gallery (too modern and sparse for my taste, but did enjoy seeing a reconstructed Francis Bacon studio and film/interview regarding the artist); and eating burgers in a pub with a beer garden called Murphy’s.

Driving out towards the countryside was beautiful, and we drove through Galway to a town called Cong where we stayed at a well-known castle called Ashford. Immaculate grounds, beautiful views of a lake, lunch outside, an early morning horseback ride (English saddle!  And my horse Willow was a “muncher” so I spent much of my time trying to get him to stay on the trail but he was a total sweetie pie) and petting the “dogs of the castle” which were Irish wolfhounds and loved to have their bellies rubbed—was spectacular.

We soon stopped at a little café on the side of the road expecting cuteness as you can only seem to do in Europe. Owned by a mother and daughter (how very appropriate for us!) we sampled a cheese board of local cheeses that melted in our mouths and fresh salad and tried elderflower for the first time.  We drove on to the Cliffs of Moher (the Cliffs of Insanity backdrop used for one of my very favorite movies, The Princess Bride) and took a boat ride underneath the cliffs to get the full scope of just how tall they really are!  705 feet at the highest point!  Lots of birds live underneath the cliffs because they have no predators down there so we got to see things like Puffins.  Afterwards we continued driving on until we got to out next stop, a hotel next to a national park that would be our “home base” for the next couple of days.  From there we did the Ring of Kerry and the Dingle Peninsula, oohed and ahhhed over Inch Beach with the cars being able to drive right up seemingly to the ocean and the sound of sheep baaing up on a hill.  We went to a farm and fed baby sheep and held a baby goat.  On our hotel property were lots of sheep, cattle (black Kerry cows, adorable) and deer.  We fell asleep to the lull of baaing sheep at night.

And my Mom and I?  Well, we travel so well together.  No stress!  We want to do the same things, we’re always on time, we’re flexible and can go with the flow, and we both like a combination of sightseeing and some R&R.  We laughed and talked and ate and drank and then laughed some more.  (We also inevitably end up giggling whenever we take selfies). I am the luckiest woman alive to feel that my Mom and I are the best of friends.  Somehow, my Mom has managed to be a mother and a friend all rolled into one since the day I was born, and I love and respect her for it immensely.  Along with my hubby, I could never live with cancer if it wasn’t for her taking such good care of me in so many different ways.

Oh, on to food and shopping, too important to miss if you’re traveling with us girls.

Murphy’s (different Murphy’s) ice cream only found in Ireland should really come to the States. No artificial flavors and the cookies and butterscotch flavors just melt in your mouth (they’re also known for their sea salt ice cream which we didn’t love, but what an interesting concept!).  Great sweaters and the Jameson Distillery was a fun way of trying out different whiskeys.  I ended up with a cocktail of whiskey and ginger-ale and fresh lime.  Between a Guinness and a Whiskey though I would go for the beer.

The people—the NICEST that I have ever encountered. In all of my travels I have had some great experiences with locals, but the Irish really take it to a whole other level.  We never heard a car honk the whole week (unless it was our driver or a taxi beeping at somebody else to say hi, sticking their hands out the window and grinning widely shouting to each other in cute Irish accents).  On those long, narrow and windy roads very often only one car could fit at a time and it was never an issue who would back up and let the other go (whereas in the States I can only imagine how many middle fingers would be given in a situation like that).   Oh, and last but way way not least, the chocolate over there is SO MUCH BETTER than anything that we have here!

Now that we have been home for about 5 days, it’s on to planning our next adventure.  SHL and I need some time away, just the two of us, to regroup and recharge.  It’s been a long winter, and cancer among other things have depleted me.  Thankfully, travel is a possibility in my world, and it feeds my soul.



Final Tally for Team Lozier Mini Golf Fundraiser of 2016


I just wanted to let you all the final number of just how much we raised during our Second Annual Team Lozier Mini Golf Fundraiser!  Between the pay-to-play rate the day of, the opportunity drawing and the “Help Me” Package, the amazingly generous online donations and my parent’s matching us dollar for dollar, the total is…

Drum-roll please…


We did it!  We raised more than last year and so within the last two years of this fundraiser we have contributed about $25,000 to the Melanoma Center at Dana-Farber!  My heart is bursting with love and pride at how amazingly special my family and friends are that they would make this happen.

Thank you just doesn’t seem like enough!

With hope, love, gratitude and mulligans for those tricky mini-golf holes,

Sam xoxo