When Thanksgiving Day Changes


We all have expectations of what the Thanksgiving holidays are meant to be.

Media has certainly played a big part in creating what the “perfect ” day is supposed to be.  So, when the situations in life are less than Hallmark-perfect, the feelings of loss or being “less than” can eat away at the very core of what we have come to believe is normal.

I have had many share with me over the years that they feel that “the joy of holidays has disappeared.” I am convinced that this is not uncommon. There are simply those who retreat for a few days, allowing others to believe that they are busy and happy.

Things change. Family dynamics change. People struggle to change with them, not knowing how to do things differently. They are thrown into a tailspin and nothing resembles what was or what is “supposed” to be.

I have had many years of Thanksgivings to learn to do things differently. Many of them have been fun, and filled with much love and peace. Yet, I still have not learned how to manage them well.

Life has changed drastically for family members and friends that they are learning to deal with their own expectations of what holidays and life truly mean. I suppose that I had talked myself into believing that some situations would go back to what they once were long ago. But that is my own version of what I was taught to believe today should bring.

Today, I will not host a Thanksgiving dinner. There are no definitive holiday plans or invitations to join any one else in a celebration of the holiday, or to help them in hosting such an event. Today will be like any other day.

There is not a moment where we are not surrounded with the commercial visions of sugarplums and Santa and Norman Rockwell-inspired visions of family gatherings.

Wait!  Sugarplums and Santa?  Aren’t we still talking about Thanksgiving? I am confused. Halloween to New Years becomes such a blur when Christmas decorations are being sold in October.

Anyone of us can fall into a pit melancholy, hurt and pain. We can feel slighted for not getting invitations. We may feel discarded by those who “should” (fill-in-the-blank).

I admit that I have fallen into that pit a time or two over the years.

Yet, I have learned that every day can be a day of thanksgiving, whether or not it is filled with turkey and stuffing, and pumpkin pie while watching football games with people you may see once a year.

But who is to say that you cannot stuff a turkey with bread, or bake a pumpkin pie in July, if you wanted?

Has Thanksgiving been reduced to simply a turkey, cranberries, green bean casserole, sweet potatoes topped with marshmallows?  Is this what it has become because we have all bought into unrealistic expectations that have been shoved down our throats by society, media, and (dare I say) dysfunctional family?

Each day we wake up, there is an opportunity to give thanks for whatever we have. Is that not what the words represent?  Thanks giving?

I do not know if I will eat turkey or pumpkin pie today. I might just have pancakes and eggs at my local Denny’s.

On Saturday I am meeting a group of people for a traditional dinner and game night, if I need my tryptophan-fix.

Yet, today I will reflect on many things for which I am thankful:

  • LIFE itself
  • People who have remained by my side to care for me since my 2012 diagnosis
  • Living in a place where I am safe
  • The few dear friends and family members who continue to make it a point to let me know they love me by picking up a telephone or sending me something in the mail to surprise me
  • Having enough
  • Opportunities presented to me when I trust in the process, others and myself
  • A new life born on Tuesday–my grand niece, Rosie, at 9 lbs. 6 oz.
  • Being enough

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For those of you who celebrate today, have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday with much joy and love and peace that you so deserve on this day and always.

And for those of you who are sitting at home alone, maybe you will join me for those pancakes at Denny’s.


For what things are you thankful for today?

Veterans are a rare breed

As of 2014, 7.3 percent of all living Americans have served in the military at some point in their lives.The overall percentage varies by gender — 1.4 percent of all living female Americans have ever served in the armed services, compared to 13.4 percent of all male Americans. (Source: Veterans Administration)

Veterans are a rare breed. Each joins for a different reason. Many today do not fully understand just what it means to many of the old-timers like myself.

I joined the military because of the influence the World War II and Korean War veterans had on me. Many of the men did not agree with me, as they felt that I, as a woman, did not belong in the service.

I grew up hearing stories from people who remembered when Pearl Harbor was attacked. Others told their stories of escaping Nazi Germany. Many of them did not serve in the military, but felt indebted to those who did.

Coral USAFI joined the service at a time when things were changing. We were still in Vietnam. It was not sexy for anyone to join any longer. The romanticism of the “good guys going after the bad” was quickly losing its  appeal.

Yet, it was ingrained in me to be of service to others, especially “owing service to my country.”

Today, I still believe in service to my country, fellow man, and others who are in need. I am not quite the idealist as I was at 18-years-old. I also see things differently than those who are coming in to the military today.

Playing the cello pans with the Navy Steel Band in Summer 1983. (Photo taken by Navy journalist, name unknown)Yet, I am grateful to each and everyone who has made the commitment to join andbe ready to go into battle, if need be.  And I wish to honor all veterans today on this Veterans Day–those who have served before me, with me, and also after me.

Thank you for being willing to be one of the very few who has taken the oath of service.

It matters. You matter. At least to one old vet who remembers why we serve.

Three months comes to an end

This past several months have been filled with a whirlwind of events, as it is for us all nowadays. I have come to the point in my life that I do not want to continually “multi-task,” nor do I wish to be ever-vigilant, making sure that everything is compartmentalized, living by the “never-let-them-see-you-sweat” rule. Even when life gets hectic, it is nice to be able to step back and take a breather.

I have done just that. Taken some time off.

Taking a break

I work part-time as a contract trainer, though doing the work I do with our clientele, 25 hours can feel like an 80-hour work week. I think it is due to the nature of the job, always being in front of an audience. Always being “on.” Maybe it is due to how I do my job and my personality.

This is not a complaint! It is one of the things I love most about the job. I give it 110% of my heart, soul, and energy when I am there.  Even after I leave work, I am not one who can easily leave the people–my workshop participants–and forget about them.

After my last day of training on July 20th, I looked forward to “some time off.” I asked not to be put on the August schedule. Six weeks to simply not worry about others. Of course, it takes time to get used to letting that go.

By mid-August, I realized that there were going to be some “heavy” situations involving family and friends. I wanted to be of support to them, giving them the 110% of my heart, soul and energy while I was needed.  I did not want to have to split that part of me between the two parts of my life.

So, I asked for September’s schedule off so I could commit my time to my family.  I was not on the schedule until the last two weeks in September, so coverage was able to be found.  I am also happy to say that the crises moments have passed, and others are beginning to move beyond them, as life continues on.

Time and change can be frightening

I was not on October’s schedule until the 20th, so it meant that I would be off from any work for a total three months.  That scared me a bit, as I have come to rely on the income from two to four workshops a month over the last six years. That part has not been easy, but I am grateful for what I have that has allowed me the breather.

I have also wondered whether or not, after three months, I could walk back in and train with the same fervor–at the 110% level–as I have for nearly seven years. I know the material. I easily adapt to the audience. But will I be a bit rusty?

New opportunities and loyalties

Several days ago, I was contacted by a friend who has her own consulting firm, wondering if I might be interested in a short-term contract as part of a training team. We have known one another for six years, having attended the same training week upon hire.

After hearing the details of the contract, it is one that sounds exciting and gives me an opportunity that is unlike any other I have had. As well, I was able to recommend and refer another great trainer for the same opportunity, and she has agreed to be part of the team on this project. I am excited to be working with this woman–my friend and sister.

Both of us have commitments to other employment situations, but when opportunity knocks, it is hard to not answer the door. We each have talked to our prospective employers/project team lead and asked for the time to work on this special project.  Each will accommodate the schedule, accordingly. It is nice to know that there are employers and managers who understand and are willing to work things out with people that they value.

What is in store

So, it looks like I will be traveling to Texas for the last two weeks of October with the possibility of an extension, if needed.  I am not on schedule with my other gig until November 17th, so it works out from the time perspective.

We never know what life has in store for us when we are willing to step back, and allow ourselves some time to breathe. It gives us opportunity to view the world, ourselves, and the situations in our lives from a different perspective, when we are accustomed to running on “automatic.”

I am grateful for the relationships I have made with people who are supportive of me, and see value in me that I do not always see in myself. I am also glad to have come to a point in my life where I fear less and trust more.  

It starts with trusting in oneself to make the right decisions…for oneself, at any given moment in time.  I am glad to have had three months to give me the chance to breathe and allow myself some clarity and more perspective.

We All Need Places to Share Ideas and Thoughts

I have written online for several years. It all started with a blog back in 2006. But before that, I was a “chatter,” at sites that have since gone by the wayside, though I am personal friends now with a few I met back when I started in 1997.

What I value is being able to write my thoughts, and ideas.  Sometimes, it may be in journal/diary/blog form, but there are times when I want to share other things to be informative, or thought-provoking, or at times to editorialize.

What I also value is interacting with others from around the world in a more conversational way. I especially appreciate the encouragement and support, and sharing of ideas, and more.

Last year, I found a community called Persona Paper, where I can do just that.  It serves a different purpose for me there, and I have people coming to visit me daily. It is as if we are all meeting in the same coffee shop to talk for a day, whether for minutes each day, or for several times in a week. I appreciate that connection to others.

Recently, there has been a call from the site administrators for help for moderators, which I wrote about this morning in my recent article there.  I am not sure what it entails, how much time it takes, nor how much technological expertise is needed. I am not sure that I have the energy to do so.

I am looking forward to continuing to write and interact with others at Persona Paper.  I hope that others feel the same way about the same camaraderie that  I experience. And, perhaps, some will understand what is entailed in site moderation, and be able to help.

Vulnerability and Keeping It Real


Having written this now over two years ago, I am just as convinced that in keeping things “real,” we MUST be vulnerable. I submit to you this previous post as a reminder of what is important.



This week I facilitated a workshop at one of the military bases.  It was a small class of 18, mostly military retirees.

Anyone who teaches, trains, speaks, or performs to an audience knows that adapting to an audience is key to making it an effective experience for all.  I have learned that by being authentic and sharing the information needed using my (sometimes) gritty, direct approach to life and what it dishes out has worked well in the environment in which I teach. Perhaps, it is due to knowing that I must drape that grit in compassion and connection.

This week’s class was one of my toughest classes ever.  Not from a perspective of “bad,” but because it was one of the most emotionally-connected.  For three days, I was drained AND fortified.  At times when I thought I could not give any more, they gave back in ways that I…

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Sixty years and a Day into my 61st

00BohemianMy 60th birthday was very low-key yesterday. I had not slept the night before, so I took a rain check on a lunch date with my youngest sister, and dinner with a friend of mine. I did not even get to the nail salon for a manicure and pedicure.

I just wanted to relax without feeling I had to do anything or be anywhere. Is that a sign of “getting old”? Or, perhaps, it is a sign of freedom!

I received several phone calls and messages from friends and family. I opened my mailbox to receive a card from my sister in Tulsa, and no bills or advertisements.  This morning, I read messages and articles written in honor of me by several of my online friends from a writers’ group to which I belong.

I did receive “gifts” from some local establishments, so I redeemed these:

  • Birthday drink from Starbucks–Not only a drink, I had a free item coming for the purchases I make.  I chose a grilled cheese sandwich and a trenta-sized (31 oz.) Mango Black Tea Lemonade.
  • $10 Birthday Money from CostPlus World Market–I also had another coupon for $10 off when you spend $30. I purchased $40 of merchandise, mostly on sale. The total value (not on sale) retail was close to $100. I paid less than $23.
  • $10 Rewards Certificate from Eddie Bauer–I found a coral-colored tank top at the Eddie Bauer retail outlet store on the discount rack for $9.50.

I also went to Trader Joe’s to visit my favorite employee, Sally, and chat with her for a few minutes. She was setting out samples of their New York-style cheesecake with a berry sauce made from an organic berry blend.  I had two small samples. It could not have been a better two bites if I had ordered a slice of cheesecake (my favorite) from The Cheesecake Factory.

I bought myself some bright, beautiful sunflowers (5/$3.99), and a half-gallon (not really that size any more, but the big round tub) of rocky road ice cream from another store, and came home.  I watched some television, heated up some leftovers, ate ice cream and took a couple more phone calls before heading to bed about midnight.

I am the type of person that I would have liked to have had a big, milestone surprise birthday party with a lot of people, laughter, food and drink, and presents. Though I have never been surprised by that kind of party, I have enjoyed those celebrations, where I bring my eclectic group of family and friends together, for those who can attend.

But I am the kind of person who can find the joy in other ways to celebrate life. The phone calls I had with the friends and family, the messages received, the interactions with the people I met along the way at the stores, the conversations with customer service people in doing business–all of them–were all instrumental in making my 60th birthday a celebration. I even received a hug or two yesterday from total strangers.

I am grateful for this life, and for the people I meet along the way. It is for this reason that I get up in the morning and look forward to a brand new day.

Thanks to all, who made my 60th a special day.  Here is upward and onward to the 61st!



The Last Day of My Fifties

Today marks the last day that I will be in my fifties. It seems so weird to me to think that tomorrow I will a 60-year-old woman.

Those who truly know me (I say “truly” because many who think they know me, do not have a clue who I really am) will tell you that there is not much “old” about me.  Age in years, perhaps, but far from old. And wisdom, sans judgement.

Recently, I facilitated a workshop of mostly Millennials.  One, in particular, said: “Thank you for the life’s lessons you taught me. You are one of the ‘coolest’ people I have known. You do not think or act like most people your age.”

Never have I received a nicer, or more genuine, compliment.  Especially from a 20-something. I will take them where I can get them!

But, here I am on the eve of my 60th birthday. And, by some standards, it is old. Let me say this:  I feel very fortunate to still be alive today to be old.

Three years ago today, I felt lucky to be celebrating my 57th birthday. I thought it would be my last, and the following day I had a birthday party, where close to 50 people showed up to have dinner with me.

Tomorrow, I have no plans. It looks as if it will be just another day. I am not throwing a party, nor do I have any knowledge of one that is planned for me.

But, just another day?  For some, perhaps.

For me, it is another day to celebrate the gift of life. And each day that I wake up is another “birth” day. Tomorrow will just mark 60 years of them.


Time Runs Away with Me

00clocktimeFliesI am never quite sure to where time runs off. It has been nearly six weeks from my last post, which was not my own post, but a share of another’s blog.  I really need to become better at consistency wherever I write, and in whatever I do.

I also realized that I failed to share the outcome surrounding the issue I shared two months ago in When Things Become Too Familiar.  

I did, indeed, go to University of WA Medical Center for an MRI, and blood work. It was three months earlier than what the year out was to be.  All the results came back and there were no surprises.  Everything was relatively stable (again) after the nine months.

The liver lesions show virtually no growth and there a no new detectable lesions or new tumors in my system. My blood work came back as normal, though the levels in the Serum Serotonin and the Chromogranin A are elevated, as usual in someone living with carcinoid cancer/neuro-endocrine tumors.

So, the question becomes, “Why?” The attack that I had could be attributed to lesions in my intestine, healed from when they did the resection. Or it could be due to the one thing that I noticed on the report that I have never seen or paid attention to before:  Gallstones.

I have had no other issues since my June issue, which concerned me, other than the “normal” pains and symptoms that I deal with living with this condition.

Sometimes, I get a bit frustrated, angry, depressed, and whiny about them, but I try to get through those moments as quickly as I can. I do not want to ever beseen as someone who cannot deal with whatever life throws my way.

Thankfully, I have a couple of trusted friends with whom I can be honest, and let them see the overly-human person.  Although it is not pleasant for them, I am grateful that they accept me, love me, and (even) reach out to me in those moments.

With August right around the corner, my goal is to write daily.  To all who read me, thank you for your continued support.


8-year-old Boy Goes Beyond to Help Young Cancer Patients

AUTHOR’S NOTE:  I ask my readers for your help:  Please reblog this post or share my URL  to get the word out.  People need to hear this story of this remarkable little boy.Thank you.

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Christian McPhilamy is my hero.

How many of you know a boy who would go through ridicule of being called a girl for two years, just so he could help other children out?

That is exactly what Christian McPhilamy did when he grew his hair out for over two years. He saw a a commercial for St. Jude Children’s Hospital, and saw other young kids like him without hair while going through cancer treatment.

Now, at 8-years-old, Christian has donated his hair to an organization, which supplies wigs to those in treatment.

In a world where so many begrudge a call for donations to help others in need, there are people who willing to step up and show what true kindness and love really is.

Christian McPhilamy is one of those people. And this was a random act of kindness that I will never forget happened.

To read his story and see Christian’s pictures, click here for the story on MSN.  

M is for Music: A story from my life


This week I had one of the participants in my class ask me, “Why aren’t you still singing?” He had done a search for me and read much of this blog and other things I have written elsewhere. I did not have a good answer for him. I thought it appropriate to revisit this post this morning.


a-to-z-letters-mAnyone who knows me well might have guessed that the letter M would have been the prompt for a post on music. For those who do not know me, music has always been an integral part of my life.  It’s part of my story, a family legacy which goes way back in time.

I am the eldest of five children.  Both of my parents were musical, so I never can remember music not being a part of my life.

Mom sang and had worked as a young  woman in a group called the “Blue Bonnet Girls,” here in the Pacific Northwest.  I learned how to harmonize by singing along with my Mom when she sang songs to us as kids.  “Mairzy Doats (Mares Eat Oats),” “You Are My Sunshine,” and “Three Little Fishies (Itty Bitty Pool)” were among many of the songs that she taught all of us, and are…

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