Some days, 24 hours is too much to stay put in, so I take the day hour by hour, moment by moment. I break the task, the challenge, the fear into small, bite-size pieces. I can handle a piece of fear, depression, anger, pain, sadness, loneliness, illness. I actually put my hands up to my face, one next to each eye, like blinders on a horse.
I usually give a book 40 pages. If it doesn't grab me by then, adios. With young adult books, you can usually tell by Page 4 if it's worth the time. The author establishes the conflict early, sometimes in the first sentence. The themes of hope, family, friendship and overcoming hardship appeal to most everyone.
Sometimes you have to disconnect to stay connected. Remember the old days when you had eye contact during a conversation? When everyone wasn't looking down at a device in their hands? We've become so focused on that tiny screen that we forget the big picture, the people right in front of us.
Summer is the annual permission slip to be lazy. To do nothing and have it count for something. To lie in the grass and count the stars. To sit on a branch and study the clouds.
We all have a personal pool of quicksand inside us where we begin to sink and need friends and family to find us and remind us of all the good that has been and will be.
Too often, we get attention and sympathy by being a victim. If we're invested in someone being our villain, we must love being the victim. We have to let go of both characters in the story.
Cooking involves a deadline and hungry people and ingredients that expire in a week. It's stressful. Cooking happens on the stove and on the clock. Baking happens with ingredients that last for months and come to life inside a warm oven. Baking is slow and leisurely.
When you have cancer, it's like you enter a new time zone: the Cancer Zone. Everything in the Tropic of Cancer revolves around your health or your sickness. I didn't want my whole life to revolve around cancer. Life came first; cancer came second.
When you hear the word 'cancer,' it's as if someone took the game of Life and tossed it in the air. All the pieces go flying. The pieces land on a new board. Everything has shifted. You don't know where to start.
Even if you have nothing in your wallet, nothing can keep you from having a great summer. You can listen to crickets sing you to sleep, trace the Big Dipper, breathe in the stars, run through a sprinkler, host a cartwheel contest in the front yard.
Pope Francis is not only changing the face of the Catholic Church, he's challenging us to be the face of God in the world by seeing the face of God in the person we least expect to see it, including the person in the mirror.
The secret to success, to parenting, to life, is to not count up the cost. Don't focus on all the steps it will take. Don't stare into the abyss at the giant leap it will take. That view will keep you from taking the next small step.
How do you know someone is a grandparent? They've got milk stains on every shirt from burping babies. Their pants are worn out at the knees from crawling around giving pony rides. They have 2,842 pictures of the grandkids on their smart phone and not one photo of their spouse.
Cancer is a great wake-up call. A call to take the tag off the new lingerie and wear that black lacy slip. To open the box of pearls and put them on. To crack open the bath oil beads before they shrivel up in a bowl on the toilet tank.
Greet every morning with open arms and say thanks every night with a full heart. Each day is a precious gift to be savored and used, not left unopened and hoarded for a future that may never come.
Cancer taught me to stop saving things for a special occasion. Every day is special. You don't have to get cancer to start living life to the fullest. My post-cancer philosophy? No wasted time. No ugly clothes. No boring movies.
When I turned 45, I lay in bed reflecting on all life had taught me. My soul sprang a leak and ideas flowed out. My pen simply caught them and set the words on paper. I typed them up and turned them into a newspaper column of the 45 lessons life taught me. When I hit 50, I added five more lessons and the paper ran the column again.
We've come a long way from having one land line that was forbidden to be answered during dinner. We had no answering machine, just a dad who barked, 'Who calls during dinner? If it's important, they'll call back.' He was right.
My daughter finished high school the same month I got my master's degree. I'm glad I didn't know when I gave birth to her at 21 what it would cost in terms of time, money and sacrifice to bring her to that graduation day.
For years I heeded the warning: Do monthly breast self-exams. Like most women, I did them on a 'sort of' basis. Every few months I'd sort of do a quick feel, but never as thoroughly as the doctors urged. I didn't want to go looking for trouble. If you look for it, you might find it. Looking for cancer is unsettling. Thank God I looked.