Do it before it’s too late

It’s been nearly eight years ago since a dear friend of mine died at the age of 41 from aggressive metastatic breast cancer.  I met her early in 2006 on a training walk. She had been diagnosed several months earlier, at the age of 37.

We spent some face-to-face time together from time-to-time, but most of our friendship was spent talking on the telephone. There was an instant connection between us, whether we saw one another at events, had lunch together, or talked for minutes or hours.

I was 13 years older than she was, but Kim was wise beyond her years, and I learned so much from her.

As the time came closer to losing her battle, I remember the weekend that Kim, her husband and young son, sister and brother-in-law, and mother went to the coast together to take Dad’s ashes to scatter them into the ocean.  Kim’s Mom had kept the urn in the bedroom for the 10 years, but as Kim told it to me, “She needs to let him go as she faces losing another family member.”

It broke my heart on so many levels. I was glad that they were able to do this as a family.  It certainly marked a moment of reality in their lives.  It was a remarkably bittersweet moment of love and family.

It serves as a reminder to me (to us all?) that family get-togethers are important to take when they are joyous memory builders.  The same can be said for friendships.

How often are we “too busy” to make time for friends and family? How often do we simply NOT take the time for those we say are important to us? How often can you “not afford” to share in moments that may cost nothing more than time and willingness?

At the point that I met Kim, I had not dealt with the loss of too many people, other than those who were quite old.  Losing young people I knew personally was new for me. I could not imagine having lost a child or a sister.

I was as involved as I could be toward her end-of-life. It was not easy, but I learned the pain of life and of death having gone through it with this woman and her family, all whom I loved dearly.

Since Kim’s death in 2010, I have lost some significant people in my life, ranging in age from their 20s to 80s. Each is loved as a child, parent, friend, friend and more. It escapes no one.  I have also know many other people in my life who has shared their heartaches of losing with me.

There is universal advice that I have heard throughout the years since Kim has passed…

Spend time together, no matter how small and insignificant it may seem to be…not just once a year on an obligatory holiday. Whether by phone, through regular mail, or face-to-face, take time to laugh and cry with one another. Let one another know your secrets.  Make memories. Include, do not exclude. Ensure that they feel loved.

Not everyone has as a family that was as intact as what I experienced with Kim and her family.  I was lucky to experience it and to be included in the family as a friend and extended family member.

We can choose friends to be the family we do not have. We can build on what we do have with family members who are important to us.

The important thing to remember is to get-together.  Laugh. Make memories. Love one another. Take time. Show love. Create. And, please…

Do it before “losing another…”

Kim 2009


Photo credit:  (Photo 1) My photo of Kim carrying the strength banner at the 2008 Seattle Breast Cancer 3-Day.  (Photo 2) 2009 photo shared at her memorial.  Kim passed away in May 2010, just three days before her 42nd birthday.



Without forgiveness there is no future. ~~ Desmond Tutu

Forgiveness is a conscious decision to let go of resentment.  It can lead to having compassion and empathy for one who has hurt you.  This does not take away someone’s responsibility for their actions that have hurt you. Nor does it justify what was done to wrong you. But forgiveness allows you a sense of peace that can bring about a certain level of understanding.

Forgiveness creates opportunities to show kindness and compassion, and fosters a willingness to grow past the transgression and work on building a healthier relationship.

There are times when you must also ask FOR forgiveness.  It requires an honest look at what you have done and how it has impacted someone else.  If you are truly sorry for something you did or said, it may be that you talk to the person that you have hurt and share your sincere regret and specifically ask  for forgiveness.  No excuses. But remember that you are human, and making mistakes are part of being so.

Remember, too, that not everyone will forgive you.  You cannot force someone to forgive you. Others will have to come to terms with the situation as they feel they can and move toward forgiveness in their own time.

Whatever the outcome, commit to treating others with compassion, empathy and respect…AND….commit to treating yourself with the same.

18 years… no longer a little boy

I was not there for the birth of my grandson, as I was for my granddaughter three years earlier. Things were such in the family that I did not receive an announcement but heard the news from others. The estrangement had been solidified soon after my granddaughter was born.

Miles was born 18 years ago today. I met him for the first time when he was nearly two years old. He was in my life until the last time I saw him, nearly three years ago, shortly after my daughter left her marriage. He has lived with his father and things have been strained since. There is no contact with his grandparents, and it’s one of the toughest things anyone should have to sit by and watch or endure.

I am grateful for the times over 12 years I was able to see him and spend a little time with him. He was such a cute little boy and as he grew into a teenager has become a handsome young man. I appreciated his creativity and his sense of adventure through storytelling. He had a loving, Generous Heart.

Today is his birthday, and I have no way of reaching out to him to let him know that I’m thinking of him today and that I love him. We should be celebrating as a family these milestones.

I keep looking forward and trusting that someday there will be reconciliation. Life can be so confusing and so painful for so many of us from early ages into old age. I pray that someday soon we can all get together and celebrate those things that we have missed.

I love you, Miles, and I hope that you enter into this stage of adulthood with anticipation of wonderful things to come. I’m proud of you for your creativity, your generosity and your wit. I’m sure that in this next stage of your life you will do great things with all of them.

Happy 18th birthday.

Our last phone call

I remember the phone call. My sister-in-law was the the one that called me about 11 p.m. I was already asleep. It was three years ago tonight.   I offered to make the call to two of my other two sisters who had not yet been called.

Our father died that night. He had just had his 83rd birthday a little over three weeks earlier.

I had spoken to him for his birthday. It was the longest conversation that we had in well-over 40 years ago. It lasted for nearly 20 minutes. Through the years, the birthday calls lasted about two or three minutes.

There were decades that passed in our lives with little communication between us.  Oh, there were the obligatory phone calls, holiday cards he signed as “Neil,” and we saw one another five or six times in those four decades.

I always tried to be a “good daughter,” to mend fences, and always told him that I loved him, but always seemed to run up against a brick wall. I could not seem to break through, and he never seemed to be interested in helping to knock down the walls. I never did quite understand the reasoning behind it, and it is never something he ever cared to share.

At one point many years ago, I knew that I could no longer hold onto a fantasy of a father-daughter relationship that I wanted.  It was when I finally was able to let go and forgive the hurts of the past.

Back in June 2012, a few days after my surgery after my cancer diagnosis, my father called me in the hospital.  I was still dopey from morphine, but I remember him saying, “You tell that cancer to leave my baby alone!” 

I remember little more about the conversation, but I remembering him offering the words in return, “I love you, Coral.”   I had not heard those words in several decades.

When we spoke for his birthday, we spoke of music, health, and a bit more. It was a pleasant call, and he once again surprised me.  He offered, “I love you, Coral,” before I had the chance to say it first.

“I love you, Coral.”

These were the last words I heard my father speak to me. They were also the last words I spoke to him. He passed away three weeks later.


Though decades passed and what might have been in a family never came to fruition,  I am forever grateful for the two calls that helped to mend the many years of silent pain between us. My only regret is that we did not have more years to explore together.

I love you, Dad, and hope that you are resting in peace.

From (what you called),

Your #1 Daughter

Today she turned 21…where does the time go?

Twenty-one years ago, my first grandchild was born.

Twenty-one years ago, I took on the name of “Gramma” or “Gramma Coco.”  I was there when she was born.

It is a day that I shall never forget.  One never forgets something so profound as seeing your own daughter give birth to her own daughter.

Life has been such that for most of the 21 years, the dreams of what grandparent-hood might have been or the possibility of the Hallmark relationships between family members was not our reality.

There is an inexplicable connection between us, however.  We may not always feel it, or recognize it.  But it exists in the free-spiritedness that runs at her core. She is not afraid to challenge others and ask questions.  She takes parts of life on like a storm, not afraid to try new things.

There are so many other things I could say, but I would write a book.  Let me end by saying…

I love you, Marian,

and I am so proud of you! 

 Happy 21st Birthday, and…

STOP getting so old!  I cannot keep telling everyone I am only 49, if you keep having these milestone birthdays!


When I was much younger, I did not understand what older people meant when they would tell me, “If you have a handful of people in your life that you can count on one hand, you are lucky!” 

Like so many young people, I believed that the more people you knew and thought were friends, the better off you are.  These would always be there for you through thick and thin.  Of course, as we grow older we realize this is not the case.

To learn earlier in life that it is better to find just a few others with whom you can truly be yourself sets one up for better friendships.  There would be fewer worries about having to impress. No having to put makeup on, getting dressed up, acting a certain way because of your age, or any other arbitrary rules of friendship when you get together for social events.

August 21, 2017 was a Monday morning just like that.

The event was the solar eclipse of 2017. None of us had ever experienced one before, and we had the opportunity to see a 94% solar eclipse.

We were simply three friends, who have known one another for a very long time. With little sleep, no makeup, not giving a rat’s patootie what anyone else thinks of them, they made memories and had fun together.  If the younger crowd would have seen us, they would have thought we were all being dumb, annoying, and intent on embarrassing them.

What a joy it is to be at a point in life when you can take the simplest of moments and simply experience them with people who aren’t afraid to experience life with you… One moment at a time.

Oh! Sheer authenticity and joy!

LIFE is the Battlefield

It all begins a minor disagreement.

Then, one person gets so offended, they find it necessary go out on a limb to try to destroy the other.

This phenomenon is not new to any of us who went to junior high school. If you look at the history of the world, there is continual evidence of this.

These bullies relish finding people who will blindly follow them and do their dirty work for them. These “sheep” are sent out to be the annoyances.

Should there be a response or reaction from the intended receiver, the leader-aggressor will often give a surprised look, leaving the ambushed one to be the overly-reactive screaming banshee. The blame is always transferred to the vocal one.

Of course, the Bully and his or her clan will stand on the soapbox of sanctimony. They claim to have been picked on unduly, satisfied in their ability to have turned the tables on their intended, and often unsuspecting, victim.

Another set up. And yet again, someone else takes the fall.

People have not changed very much over the centuries. No matter where we are, or whatever situation it is that we may interact as human beings, there is likely to be someone who will always try to turn any situation into a battlefield, picking fights that are unnecessary.

Have you encountered this type of situation in your life? In your workplace? At school? On social media? With family or friends? Other situations?

Do you always walk away? Or do you try to defend yourself, your name, or your honor?

Walking away does not mean “ignore it and (maybe) it will go away.”

We must get to a point in our lives where we start to recognize the patterns in ourselves and in others.  Perhaps, you are like me that you find it necessary to prove your innocence, because you were made the scapegoat in many aspects throughout your life? You may find yourself continually in defensive mode.

Others know that they can “bait” you into the battle with comments such as:

  • There you go, always being defensive!”
  • “Why must you take it so personally?”
  • “If it weren’t true, you wouldn’t react as you do!”  

Sound (or feel) familiar?

  • The truth is…you take it personally, because the other meant it to be personal.
  • The truth is…yes, you are always on the defensive.
  • The lie is…what you are fed as their truth must also be your truth, accompanied by your reaction.

Walking away means that …

  • We know exactly who we are and own our choices and behavior.
  • We are no longer willing to live by the baited tactics of others, who may try to control our behavior by continually setting us up to fail.
  • We know the difference between competing to “be right” and behaving in a way to “do the right thing.”
  • We know how to love others, in spite of their faults, but recognize that we do not have to take part in, nor have an interest in, the matter or action.

We have to learn to let go.

There comes a time when we must know within ourselves what is right or wrong. Proving someone else wrong, no matter what you may know to be absolute truth because of the evidence you have, may not always be the best way to approach the situation.  Believe me, I know this one well.

Learning to let someone be (or think they are) right has been one of the best lessons I have learned.   Does it still irk me?   Of course, it does!

Yet, letting it go does not mean that I am wrong.  It does not mean that I am responsible for being life’s teacher to all of humanity in its ignorance.

The one truth that I have learned is that…

Life truly is the battlefield…

And I am the one that is allowed to pick the battles that are worth my time.


Photo credit:  Pixabay public domain

Invitations, behaviors, and habits

I find it curious to observe the behaviors and habits of people. Some I have known throughout my life and others I have never met face-to-face. They span all cultures, ages, genders, and more.

No matter what the groups to whom we belong, we really are all a reflection of society (human behavior), and life, as a whole.  If we can step back away from our emotions, we may find the people of the world around us (and beyond) fascinating, too.

We have those in life who are always there, always supportive, who will attend all of our functions, and be genuinely interested in what we pursue. Others will care less, and show up only if it has some benefit to them. Others invite you to all of their functions, expecting that you will attend. Some are offended if you do not not show up. Others expect that you will attend, but will never show up for your functions, and never intend to do so.

Some people are friendly to all; yet, others are friendly to no one. Some people go through motions, without much emotion. Others are so emotional that it makes it difficult to go through any motions, at all.

I think this is true, whether in face-to-face relationships with friends, acquaintances, family, but especially with those we count as family and friends on social media sites, such as Facebook, et. al.

Since the advent of these sites, have you found that others use them as their sole medium for event invitations?  Or do you get a phone call, email invitation, or a mailed invitation through the post office?

Do you find the habits of other humans curious, and how they have changed in your LIFE, in general? Or does it not matter anymore?


(Photo credit: Pixabay, Public domain)

Reflecting on 2017 and looking forward to 2018

2017 has been a year of LIFE.

2017 was the year that marked five years since my diagnosis of stage 4 Neuroendocrine Tumors (NETs)/Carcinoid Cancer. As there is no cure in my case, there is no remission.  Yet, here I am looking forward to the sixth year, many believing that August 2012 would be my last birthday.  I celebrated my 62nd this past year, and I look forward to the next!

2017 has been a year of EDUCATION.

I studied Spanish in 2017. I also enjoyed lectures and discussions in Philosophy, Ethics and World War II History from professors who are brilliant and love their subjects.  I am taking all these classes as a “senior audit student,” so my tuition is waived.  I do not receive a grade or credit for taking them, though they will show up on my transcript that I have taken the classes. I received my Bachelors degree nearly 16 years ago, but I love to learn, and I like the challenge. I will continue doing the same in 2018.

2017 has been a year of CREATIVITY.

It was only three years ago that I picked up a paintbrush for the first time to put something on canvas. If you talked to my friend and creative arts “coach,” she would tell you that it has been difficult for me to break through certain emotions to get in touch with my child-like creative self.  Yet, this year, I painted 10 canvases, nearly all of them with faces. Though they may never become famous works of art, they are MY works of art, as childish as they may seem to others.

2017 has been a year of FRIENDSHIP.

This year I have come to realize the truer meanings of “friendship” or “relationship” to others, and what it means with friends, family and acquaintances, and in business and pleasure.  Learning to recognize those relationships, which are uplifting to all parties involved, as well as when there is little reciprocity, has been of the utmost of valuable lessons. I have continued to learn that, by accepting others for who they are, it is simply about love.  It does not necessarily mean that relationship will continue. Sometimes, we must learn to let go of others.  It is equally as important to accept and love oneself, and make choices that are best for us and our well-being.

2017 has been a year of GRATITUDE.

There are so many things this year for which to be grateful. Having had the opportunity to learn about myself and others, I am grateful for the chance at all the experiences and lessons that have been presented, even when it is necessary to deal with the painful realizations that all things and people are not as they seem.   However, though we encounter those few people in life who choose to stand in extreme judgment, spewing ugliness, and doing their personal best to drag others down into the mud with them, there are many more people in life that we encounter…

…there are so many more who are accepting and beautiful, uplifting and encouraging, supportive and loving, and who will be there without judgment.  

These are the people in life who are truly the most genuine, and will share themselves freely…vulnerable and without expectation.

If nothing more was learned in 2017, I have learned about genuine love from and for others and I am so grateful for these people in my life.

* * * * * * * * *


Of course, none of know the answer to that question!  We set goals, make resolutions, and have the best of intentions, before something happens to put a glitch in our plans, derailing all those lofty dreams.

All we can do is keep moving forward, approaching life with gusto and working toward being a better version of ourselves.

2018 will be a year of LIFE.

I know that I must continue to live every day that I am given. I will wake up and look forward to whatever adventures each day presents to me.

2018 will be a year of EDUCATION.

I will continue to audit classes in 2018. I am looking forward to what more I can learn. I love keeping my brain engaged.  I look toward taking more classes that encourage more of the creative side of my soul, not just the academic.

2018 will be a year of CREATIVITY.

The first class at the college for which I am signed up is a Jazz Musicianship class. I have known the professor for nearly 20 years. I have never taken a class from him, but I know that he is a brilliant bassist, having seen him perform with various bands over these two decades. I look forward to putting in practice more improvisation and taking more risks as a singer. I look to resurrect the music in me in a way that gives me joy, getting back to what I consider my “jazz roots.” As well, I’m in collaboration right now with another bassist to start to work together in 2018, possibly with a bass and vocal duo.

I have several more canvases that I have to paint. I want to continue to explore acrylic painting, and to approach my style of painting with as much freedom as I have begun to embrace,without worrying about what others think of it. I am also planning to enter a couple of them in a juried art show designed for veterans to share their art.

2018 will be a year of FRIENDSHIP.

Oprah Winfrey said, “Surround yourself with only people who are going to lift you higher.”

These words from Ms. Winfrey are representative of my biggest goal for 2018, as I too often waste too much energy and time with people, situations and things which I let “eat at me” and rob me of my inner peace, and halt my joy. Sometimes these are things that are beyond my control.  At other times, some will purposefully do whatever they can to “pick” and get a reaction.  HOWEVER…

Let me point out AND repeat the operative words:

I waste…I waste…

No matter what others may do to us, or try to do in order to cause us grief, even though it certainly does affect us, it is ALWAYS MY OWN RESPONSIBILITY to make sure that I care for my own well-being.  Like so many others before me, I must take care not to be sucked into the old patterns that some will try to heap upon me.

2018 will be a year of GRATITUDE.

Let us all be aware of (and own) the choices that we make, as these will be the ones that make the biggest differences in LIFE and views of success in 2018. Let us all be GRATEFUL for those lessons we learn by what life deals out. Let us all be joyous in the genuine relationships that we are given that truly lift us up to happier hearts and a desire to be better to one another.










Vulnerability and Telling More of a Story


Coming to understand myself and the “whys” behind my beliefs about the world and the people in it has always been of interest to me.  I am also just as interested in others and their stories. As I tend to be rather curious and analytical, I have often been told that I “would make a good counselor.” I am not sure that it is truth, but I do see that I am willing to look in the mirror and find the connections with others and the correlations of experiences. It requires us all to be more vulnerable.

Recently, I have begun to “look” beyond some of the issues that have presented in my life. They seem to be inter-connected in so many ways.

It has been more than two decades since I have truly done anything to “celebrate” the Christmas holidays in my home. There have been some moments where one may have seen a glimmer; however (for the most part), it has been non-existent. I have cooked or helped to cook the holiday meals elsewhere, but it was never the same. Much of the time, I went to a restaurant for a meal…sometimes with a friend, sometimes alone.

“Hoarding,” or just Scared?

This past summer I began to open up and admit to “shutting others out.” The easiest way for me to do this was to not deal with clutter in my home.  This way, I did not allow others into my space.

I could have let others into my home, but there would have been some who would have been judgmental and then  would have told others how awful it was…I was.  Some would have accused me of being “a hoarder,” likening me to the extreme hoarders featured on the television show.

Truth be told, I bought into those visions of myself. I did not see reality, but saw myself through the judging eyes of others. So, I shut down not only from others, but myself.

One of the things that I would never have been able to tolerate is the filth of rotting foods, the scampering of rodents, and the other horrors that are sensationalized with the show.

Yet, the piled-up, unpacked boxes from previous moves kept me from “LIVING” in my home and accepting others into my home to celebrate life, friends and family, and the holidays we share throughout the year.

Preparing to Die

I moved into my current townhouse in September 2013, preparing to die. It was a year-and-a-half earlier that I was diagnosed with stage 4 Neuroendocrine Tumors (NETs)/Carcinoid cancer, and told by an Army Lt. Col. and surgeon that I “…(had) six months to a year, two…if lucky.”

So, when I moved, I truly believed that I had less than a year to live. That being the case, why unpack?

Looking back, I understand the ideas or thoughts and how they manifested in the way that they did. But I also recognized that how I choose to look at my life and what I think, believe or do is MINE to choose, despite what others will tell me, think of me, or treat me.

Starting to Live Again

This summer, I have started to “let go” of the accumulation. I am unpacking and donating items that I no longer need to friends, family, and organizations.  I am beginning to see a light at the end of a very dark tunnel.  It has much less to do with the condition of my home, but the condition of me and my view of life and the people in it.

I call this my “Clutter Project.”  I am facing my inner turmoil around letting others see who I am on the inside, which is difficult. It is not easy to be vulnerable. It is not easy to be open, knowing that there will be some who will act in judgement, and then reject and abandon. It is downright painful, and then very tempting to pull back and shut down even more deeply.  It is not easy, and their is so much more to do, but I have started.

This is where the choice to keep moving forward is so important. Trusting when it is scary to do so.

I have allowed two trusted friends to see the chaos on the inside of me and in my home. Each has been invited to dine with me, including Thanksgiving Dinner. Two other friends have come over (separately.)

There was an online friend from Australia who stayed with me for a week this month.  We had only spoken by phone for an hour total (two calls) in the 18 years that we had “met” online.

Last week, I committed to hosting Christmas Day dinner here in my home. It will not be formal, but rather informal. There will be seven of us for certain, and maybe a total of three more.  I must admit that I am a bit anxious about it.

Since I have opened up about my struggles to one of my sisters, and to my best friend (BK), each has shown me so much love and support.  The relationship between my sister and I has strengthened in ways I never imagined, and it is much more authentic than
any other relationship that I have had with a family member.

If not for BK’s help in going through things here in my place these past five months, I would feel paralyzed. She has been here to help me as I push through the process in my own way. She and I (together) are learning our own lessons of telling our stories, and listening with more love. Of course, it requires us to be truthful with one another, but more importantly…truthful with the person in the mirror.

So, Christmas get-together at my place!

I will likely invite others over during the season between now and the New Year holiday. It is getting easier to allow people that I know care and who are not going to walk in judgement of me into my home…into my heart. I am also confident that if I felt there were others who would walk in and look down their noses, I would be gracious enough to offer a coffee, but cut the time short.

Keep telling your story

I know my story. I know the characters in the story, up to this point in my life. I understand how the story has been written, but I also know that there are twists and turns in every story, and that we never know how any story will end.

Is it not wonderful that we get to write more chapters and change the direction of the plot of our stories? We find other characters along the way. When the story is all-told, as we come to the end, it is a far different story than we expected.

I am grateful to all who have become part of my life. I thank each for taking time to read and “listen” to more of my story.  I appreciate all who have shared their stories with me.

And I look forward to continuing the journey.

(Note:  Edited from original post by the author, “There is always MORE to the story, if one is willing to listen to the storyteller” written and published on 13 December 2017 at