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So, I was recently tagged by Sherry, whose blog abreast in the world posts the latest research and news in breast cancer, along with deep observations, bold opinions and absolutely gorgeous graphics. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to express, Sherry! (Being a newbie, I’m not sure if I’m doing this right, but I think I am supposed to supply six factoids about myself then tag someone else…)

1. Disclosure: Anything funny in this blog originated from my friend Sam. It’s a good thing I had breast cancer and she didn't because if she decides to write a blog, she’ll have to find another community of writers and readers--and that means my witticisms and wry observations will remain “my own.”

2. I got caught shoplifting when I was 9. I had stuffed a bottle of bubbles and a box of Red Hots in the front of my shorts (stealthy, I am not). The manager of the Ben Franklin Five and Dime, a very big woman in a sleeveless summer dress, asked me what I had taken. “Nothing” not being an option, I removed the stolen items and stared off into the middle distance. She took me to the back office, where I thought she was going to autoclave the items and give me a lecture. To my horror, she did neither; instead, she made me call my dad. A super fun phone conversation ensued, and I was grounded for a month. Fortunately, my mom could never follow through on our restrictions. After a week and a half, she came home from work with a brand new pair of white go-go boots for me. “You can go outside,” she said. I put on my go-go boots and slammed open the screen door.

3. I love Thanksgiving. I love everything about it. One of my top 5 favorite things to do is spend the day before Thanksgiving baking pumpkin and deep-dish apple pies. I’ll put on some music, throw open the windows (it’s usually sunny here in California that time of year), light candles, make dough and put it in the freezer until it's cold enough to roll, and peel apples until I get blisters. This year, my brother and his wife are coming, as well as Ocho and his crew of 8. My ex and his girlfriend may be coming for pie. I hope so.

4. This is for a whole ‘nother post, but I have been reading a book my friend Tina gave me called, “Cancer as a Turning Point.” It’s a great book. It offers up all sorts of insight into how to find meaning in cancer and use it as an opportunity to re-evaluate your life and reorient your compass. I packed the book when Ocho and I went to Mineral King in the Sequoia National Forest this last September. We did some of the book's exercises in the car on the way there. One of them asked, “What makes you feel alive? What has the opposite effect?” Ocho rallied and supplied some answers. I filled several pages of the little spiral notebook he had in his console. Later in the week, I was reading the book in bed, and did Exercise 5. The opening sentence reads: “There is an old saying: On the day before you die, get your house in order. Write what you would have to do today if you were to follow this advice.” I had a sudden, urgent thought and jumped out of bed to get the notepad I had stolen from Ocho's car: Tell Mom and Dad that I love them, I wrote. I had 20 or 30 other bullet points that followed, but my knee-jerk, gut response was to tell the people who had given me life (and grounded me for shoplifting) that I was aware of the hard work, the sacrifice, the suffering, the joy, the fun, the sweetness and the disappointment that had gone into raising me.

5. If I died tonight, I would feel as if I had experienced a rich, full, meaningful life. I have struggled mightily with religion my whole life, but the past 17 months have opened new spiritual possibilities to me. I will always be a Buddhist at heart. Its compassion, acceptance and inclusiveness is appealing to me. But I also see that this past year and a half has been what my friend Andrea calls “a God thing.” Sam wholeheartedly agrees. The topic is worthy of its own, complete thought.

6. I was feeling very ‘boo-humbug” (ok, I stole that from Ms. Feral) about Halloween and had decided not to pull out the decorations: the little plastic skeletons with headshots of Mike and Kate as the “skulls,” the black “Mr. Death,” that laughs maniacally whenever you make a loud noise, the white stuffed ghosts and orange lights that for the past 15 years I’ve hung in the kitchen window, etc. “Screw it,” I thought. “I’m tired. And I’m depressed.” But, while the past year I’ve let myself off the hook for sometimes not sending thank you notes, letting bought-but-not-sent birthday presents languish on the entryway table, neglecting the yard, paying bills late, I deciced that foregoing my kids’ traditions was not going to be one of the casualties of my recent ennui and sadness. I spent the weekend raking leaves, planting purple and orange flowers, buying pumpkins, and taping up the ghosts and the kids’ homemade Halloween decorations from elementary school. It made me happy. And while my kids didn't pull out their digital cameras or write about it on gmail or myspace, I know that having a little continuity in their lives means more than they consciously notice or can express.

Sherry, thank you! I’d like to tag Princess Hedgehog at Happy Halloween!


Sherry said…
Bravo!!! I now feel like I "know" you so much better mon amie!!! ;)
You have revealed much about yourself in this exercise and my heart sings to read these things.
I smiled at you leaving gifts bought but not given, being late with paying bills...all the things we seem to do now..and I'm still doing them 2 years from diagnosis..much of it is just "screw that" or "does it really matter?"...usually the answer is "no".
Your gut reaction to tell your parents (who grounded you for that stellar theft experience!! LOL!!) that you love them...wonderful.
That you are still doing Halloween for the children? Excellent!! You have your priorities in order my dear and even if they didn't talk about it, let me tell you..they much, much, much appreciate that you are keeping life "normal" for them. My two were so relieved the first time I blew my stack and yelled at them. They smiled and said "mom's back..she's going to be okay"!! It is the little things we take for granted.
I love the prep for Thanksgiving that you so sounds like you are going to have a wonderful celebration.
And I'll end with a sincere thank you for all that you said about me and my words. Very touching indeed Jill. I'm glad we've been able to bring some light into one another's lives.
P.S. for a "newbie" at did just fine!!! No one would know you were new to this stuff!
Jenster said…
What a great list! Truly.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, too! And get this! Most of the first 21st Thanksgivings of my life were spent in Northern California with my huge family! What great memories...
Jill Aldrich said…'re a great source of support and information. Thank you so much for all the positive energy. It makes me feel good to know there's someone out there who understands. Also, I l-o-v-e checking out what's new on your blog. And I totally love the boo-bees post :)

Jenster...I'd love to hear about your Northern CA roots. I knew we had more than bc in common :)
Jill Aldrich said…
Hey, nice to hear from you :0

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