Sunday, May 29, 2011

Homeward Bound

As the days click off closer and closer to vacation the excitement and anticipation of being in Maine begins to grow.  I am ready for the time off from work, the celebrations, the family time and to see my old familiar stomping grounds.

I am enjoying the scent of the lilacs and watching the trees bud out fuller and fuller with leaves.  There is a gorgeous tree outside my work office window and I just love to look at it and watch the resident squirrel scurry around on the branches. 

This time of year always reminds me of Maine even though I now reside in Colorado.  I am so spoiled by the mild Colorado winters but I still celebrate the spring and summer as if I still live in Maine where the winter is long and gray.  As I pack my suitcase and think about Maine I am looking forward to this trip as if it were my first time traveling.

I feel good.  My health is improved.  My energy seems to be returning and I am ready to continue my quest of celebrating life in a more hands on way.  It probably helps that my two year old enjoys celebrating everything so he and I will be good companions on this trip.  We applause the conclusion of every show, every good meal and even every sip of a cold beverage with a splendid breathy ahhhh.

I toast my sister at the end of her journey to find a life partner.  My arms ache for the hugs that I am anxious to give and receive her and my friends and family as we come together to celebrate her and Joe.  They will be married soon and all the family will be there. I am so thrilled for her because she has waited a long time and we have never seen her so happy.

I am looking forward to the scrumptious food and the anticipation of it has influenced all of my recent menu selections.  "I am not having that...better to wait until I get to Maine where it will be fantastic." I say to myself quietly in my head as I pour over the menu.  Going home means enjoying all the favorite tastes of home and there are many to be had in the state of Maine.

This particular vacation has the added luxury of extra time built into it.  I do not know when I have had more than a week to spend in Maine and it will add to the enjoyment to not be in a hurry.

So to Maine then, I say get the red carpet ready.  To Colorado I bid you adieu.  And to Jo, I say move over missy, it is almost my turn on those fabulous screen porch rockers.

Hooray!!!  Homeward Bound!


Friday, May 27, 2011

To My Dear Commenter

I sent you a reply so be sure and check your junk mail if you do not see it in your in box.

I know that you are afraid.  This is all new to you.  I want you to know that I am here and so are many others.  I attached some of my strength with the email.  It opens automatically when you read my words and does not look like a regular attachment.  ;) 

Until we are able to speak here are some words on hope to help you.


Once you choose hope, anything's possible.  ~Christopher Reeve

When the world says, "Give up,"
Hope whispers, "Try it one more time."
~Author Unknown

Hope is that thing with feathers that perches in the soul and sings the tune without the words and never stops... at all.  ~Emily Dickinson

You've gotta have hope.  Without hope life is meaningless.  Without hope life is meaning less and less.  ~Author Unknown

Sending Love and Strength,

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Thoughts on Health

My own prescription for health is less paperwork and more running barefoot through the grass.  ~Terri Guillemets

Be careful about reading health books.  You may die of a misprint.  ~Mark Twain

The power of love to change bodies is legendary, built into folklore, common sense, and everyday experience.  Love moves the flesh, it pushes matter around.... Throughout history, "tender loving care" has uniformly been recognized as a valuable element in healing.  ~Larry Dossey

Hear your heart.  Heart your health.  ~Faith Seehill

From the bitterness of disease man learns the sweetness of health.  ~Catalan Proverb

Thursday, May 19, 2011

A Place Just Right with a nod to (the song) Simple Gifts

By Guest Blogger Jo

Patten Pond in the mist
 Susan has been talking about important resources for weathering crises, and she provides a powerful witness to doing so, even sharing frankly when she feels weather-beaten.  I may be stealing her thunder, since at this moment I’m at the kitchen table in the beloved Comeau Maine house, but I want to write about “thin places.”  This home is such a place for my husband and me.

And what is a thin place, you ask?  It really has nothing to do with Becky’s diet or the state of the home’s current occupants.  Thin places are where you just know there isn’t much space between you and God – that if you close your eyes, take a deep breath and reach up, your hand will touch the holy.  Especially in the hard times of our lives, we need such places. 

The first time I mentioned to Becky that this was a thin place for us, she said that it had probably been worn thin by many Comeau prayers.  We’ve added to that, for sure, but I think it was already a thin place, because it’s where prayers just seem to pour out in complete and easy faith that they are heard.  It’s where prayers don’t even need to be articulated, they exist in listening to the rain, watching the healing movement of water, inhaling clean air.  They are shared when elbows touch over a jigsaw puzzle, when we laugh until we can hardly breathe or we sit in complete silence and listen to all that is sacred.

We’ve been fortunate to experience a number of thin places: Canyon de Chelly in Arizona, Zion National Park in Utah, hiking trails in the Canadian Rockies, Assisi, England’s Lake District, and our beloved Capon in West Virginia.  Moments in these places reach into all the memories that nurture us, remind us of how God has blessed us, and restore our faith that all will indeed be well.

In the last couple years, we’ve had our share of bad stuff to deal with.  Our larger family has faced financial setbacks, cancer diagnoses, other health scares, divorce, severe depression, revelations of childhood sexual abuse, imprisonment, estrangement, job insecurity, the passing of good friends… It has often been frightening, almost always overwhelming.  You can make your own list. 

But thanks be that we are here today, in this place, and we are being restored.  Susan and her family will be here in a couple weeks, and they will be filled as well.  And in your life, in your times of need, may you find your own thin places.


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Brainstorming is a Blast!

One aspect of my job that I absolutely love is brainstorming with my clients.  I love it when they run an idea past me and we come up with idea after idea.  Ideas are so fun.  Even the bad ones.  It reminds me of a dialogue from the movie..Under the Tuscan sun.

[ Speaking Italian ]
It's a nice little villa.
Rather run-down, but redeemable.
Are you going to buy it?
No, no, no.
I'm just a tourist
here for the day.

Well, who wouldn't want to buy
a villa in Tuscany?                  
But the way my life's been going
that would be a terrible idea.

A terrible idea.


Don't you just love those?

It seems to be a true fact that one may have idea after idea for what someone else should do and none for yourself.  I heard from an old teacher once, that the questioner will never be able to come up with the answer because their mind is consumed by the question.

While I don't advocate living your life by committee. Some people just don't have the life experience to give you good guidance or at times they are not able to remain neutral while you act in the way you feel best.  Especially since, there are some who are not able to connect with your authentic heart and give you good suggestions. Taking those considerations in mind; I do love the idea of a brainstorming party.  If you had a bunch of business people together and divide them into teams it would be fun to see how many ideas each team could come up with.  Then you would have a bunch of ideas to consider.

I love thinking over a project or an idea of someone and seeing what I can come up with.  My best suggestions are usually things I have no interest in or would ever even do myself.   It is one fun hour to spend with someone.  If you choose to hit some friends up for a brain storming session then be sure that they can handle it emotionally if you hate their ideas.  It could happen.  I offer e-coaching as part of my business for people who need a safe sounding board or a new stream of ideas.  I have linked my website under the link section of this blog.

Anyway folks.  Get thinking and get creative.  Have fun.


Monday, May 16, 2011

Your Relationship With Your Doctor

If you are newly diagnosed with cancer or if someone you love is then please know that I consider it my duty to post articles designed to help you.  Now if you are anything like me than you don't especially like to go to the doctor but you will soon get over that.  Having cancer means that you will be going to the doctor a lot and you will soon get used to the different kinds of tests being run on you all the time.

Choosing your oncologist is probably the single biggest decision you will need to make and one that can make or break this treatment process.  You will need someone who will help you aggressively fight this disease and one who can communicate well with you.  It is vitally important that you have a really good working relationship with your doctor.

When I was first diagnosed I was referred to the same oncologist that I have now.  I was not able to get right in to see her so I had my "orientation" appointment with a very nice male oncologist who cared for me during my hospital stay.  As we discussed which forms of treatment were available to me I immediately latched on to any treatment that avoided chemotherapy.  To me chemotherapy was synonymous with torture and I was afraid of it.

Two weeks later I meet my oncologist who informed me that I will be going on chemotherapy.  I tried to argue with her and of course I had done my research (reading anything and everything to was pro-hormone therapy and anti-chemotherapy) but all arguments were futile.  My oncologist is a tiger and she was well equipped to take me on.  She let me know in no uncertain terms that if I wanted to get better and walk again real soon then I was going on chemotherapy.  I began to cry and she gently explained to me that chemotherapy has come a long, long way.  She was right.  In about two months I was able to move with much greater ease.  I was not ill and I did spend anytime vomiting despite all that I had heard about chemotherapy.

I learned two things from this experience arguing with my Doctor on that day and in the months to follow.  1.  I am my greatest advocate.  I need to pay attention, do my research, ask questions and speak up if I don't agree or don't understand something.  2.  I have no knowledge of oncology.  I may be an intelligent woman but I am not practiced in the art of cancer treatment.  No amount of reading articles or books on the subject will ever substitute the day to day wisdom of my Doctor and I need to place my trust in her. Thus far, she has proved herself time and again and I am alive today because she is a skilled oncologist.

I do not believe that in today's world anyone should passively trust their Doctor or medical professional to make decisions for them. I think there is a difference between actively participating in your treatment and turning the reigns over to someone else. You need to know what medications you are on, which you have been on and why you are being prescribed them.  It is important to maintain an open dialogue about your treatment.  Ask for copies of all reports and consider keeping a journal.  Never be afraid to advocate for yourself and do not be afraid to speak up when you know that something is not right.  Your life may depend on these skills.  You might also consider taking someone with you to help you listen and perhaps be a note taker because you might react emotionally and then have a hard time recalling what was said.

I hope that you are never placed in a situation like this but I pray that if you are then maybe some of this information may help you.


Friday, May 13, 2011

When cancer/crisis calls..rally the troops

In my humble opinion the best defense against cancer or crisis is a good support system.  I know from personal experience that dealing with this kind of crisis can take a huge toll on your body, your mind, your emotions and your entire family. If you want to know what the best offensive move against such a challenge then I suggest you build an excellent support system.  In my case, the support comes from my friends and my family.  For others, I know that there is a lot of strife and difficulty in their family and extended family and this would make leaning on them in times of trouble a bit hard. 

Clowning around on our 1st Disney trip as a family
If this last statement is reminiscent of your family I would recommend that you begin working on repairing those relationships to the best of your ability.  You never know when they might need you or you might need them and even the healthiest families are thrown for a loop in times of cancer and or other types of crisis.  Good communicators can become screaming banshees when under extreme stress.  Rock solid individuals can be reduced to sniveling whiners.  Let's face it, cancer is not pretty and facing cancer can turn even the most loving of families ugly on a bad day. 
Now please hear the spirit in which I make this suggestion.  I am not suggesting that you keep good friends or family members around in case you need to get something out of them.  I believe that part of loving and being loved is contributing to each other in times of need.  If you never have to face cancer or a major crisis you will still need a support system.  We all need to vent and we all need a sounding board to bounce ideas off of.  I cannot tell you how often I see people in therapy who do not have a support system or friends outside of their family and it always scares me.  If there is a family crisis who are they going to turn to who can be supportive and neutral and who is outside the emotional turmoil?

Take a look at your life and inventory your support team.  Is is strong and sufficiently large?  Does it contain members outside of your family?  Do you have supportive people who live in the same town as you do that can sit across the table from you and hold your hand?  I live in a military community and often soldiers and their family have strong supports but no one local.  If you get a flat tire on the highway do you have a list of helpful and capable people to come and help?  If you have to take your spouse to the ER in the middle of the night is there someone to call who will pop out of bed and come and watch your kids?

If the answer to any of these questions is no then work on cultivating these relationships now.  You might want to start with some of the friends that you might have abandoned when you got married or got busy with the normal things that come with life.  Give them a call because they might be needing you right now as you are reading this post.  I hope that you never urgently need a support system but if you do then you will be glad you took me up on this advice.

Enjoy the giggles and fun times in the meantime.


Monday, May 9, 2011

Why we celebrate

Nothing is more important to family culture than celebrations.  It is vitally important to set aside time to recognize each other and take part in official holidays and designated family celebrations.  Yesterday was Mother's day, which can be a special way to thank your mother and the mother of your children, for all that they have contributed to the family.

I think it is probably safe to say that women place a bit more importance on these days than sometimes the men in their lives.  I have seen woman after woman sitting on my couch crying her eyes out because her husband failed to make one of these important days special.  Today, I had a woman crying on my couch because her husband did not even seem to notice it was a special day much less acknowledge her as a mother to his children.

Men please know that you have the power to be the hero on these days or the villain.  Your woman's heart is easily broken.  It will continue to be broken because all of her family members and all of her friends will be asking her what you did for her on Mother's Day, Valentines Day, her Birthday, Christmas and for your Anniversary.  If you played the part of the hero, all her friends will croon and talk about how wonderful you are.  If you chose to be a villain, then all her friends and family will talk trash about you and offer to open up a can of whoop-ass on you or worse.  Your actions on these special days is an act of your love and devotion or a declaration to all that you are lacking in either of these attributes.

Woman after woman have confided in me that it is primarily about the effort and not about the material cost of the contribution.  If you listen to your woman and notice when she is pleased than this should be easy for you.  I recommend that when you take her shopping you make a list of things she seems to be interested in.  If you see her stop and admire something snap a picture with your phone or write it on a slip of paper and tuck it in your wallet.  If all else fails ask her what would make the day special for her a week before the day.  Do not ask on the day in question.  If you have no plan by the time the day arrives it is too late and trust that you have a heartbroken woman on your hands.  Also please ensure that your plan is complete with things your sweetheart wants to do or places she wants to eat and not your personal favorites.  She will not see this as a win/win she will be insulted.

When I was diagnosed with cancer all of these special days and family traditions unique to our family became much more meaningful to me.  I worry how long I will be able to remain in my son's life and to be his mother.  Mother's day held additional meaning to me this year.  I was very pleased to be able to share the day in person with my own mother and my son.  My son love to celebrate.  He takes great pleasure in having all of us around and eating special food.  My Dad calls it my son's wolf pack.

I know for some folks that there are particular days that hold negative attachments for them.  If this is the case then I suggest you get out your calendar, sit down with your significant other and pick out a new day to celebrate.  If it is your birthday then cancel the d/o/b date and select a celebrate your life day and make up the rules.  Your family wants to celebrate and they need to celebrate.  Find ways to make it happen.

If you are stuck on this then give me a call and schedule an appointment for phone session.  If you are one of those men who broke a heart yesterday than text me 911 after your phone number.  I will only charge my regular fee for first time offenders.

Celebrate, celebrate, celebrate.


Saturday, May 7, 2011

My Mother

I can honestly say that my mother is the most amazing woman that I know.  As far as mothers go, I suppose that she is unique in the sense that there is not too many things that she isn’t good at.  She is a good writer.  She is a good cook.  She is good with people.  She is a good supporter.  She is a good friend.  She is a good swimmer.  Hmmn perhaps I would have been better off to write a blog about her flaws, though none come to mind.

My favorite picture of Mom
 with her father Paul Audet
I have previously written about how my father has been here in Colorado taking care of the baby and has aided me in a hands-on sense.  I have not written about how my mother and I have become good friends and speak several times a day.  She is my champion and greatest emotional support.  Over the years we have ironed out an agreement and when she isn’t sure what kind of support I need she asks if I need a shoulder or a sounding board.  Sometimes, she listens with a sympathetic ear and other times she gives me honest feedback.

My mother is an incredibly interesting woman and quite a jokester.  She loves to laugh and really enjoys it if she can pull one over on you.  If she does get you, as my brother can testify, she takes enormous pleasure in it.  If you catch her in the act, she will feign ignorance and adamantly deny that she is up to anything, but with enough pressure she will confess.

My brother recalls how if they would see Bruce Lee on TV she would joke that she was the one who taught him all that he knows.  When he would reply, “oh you did..huh?”  She would say “yes, in fact, I was a little disappointed that he took so long it pick it up.  I had to keep showing him over and over.”

Or if they were out and about and saw a Harley Davidson motorcycle my brother might remark that he really liked it.  “Wow..I wish I had a bike like that” he might say.  My mother would then retort, “I actually have one just like that but I decided that I should upgrade because I have gotten bored with that style.”  Mom has quite a sense of humor and we spend a lot of time laughing.

She is also very generous with all that she has and all the talent that she has been given.  She is not afraid to put her talents to good use to help someone out.  I am always in awe of her generosity and her creativity.  I am quite sure that those who know her best would agree with this assessment of her.  It was her idea to start this blog and she had it up and running in record time.  Mom taught me how to use the format and we have been blogging ever since.  She has even begun her own blog to chronicle her weight loss journey.  If you haven’t already been there to visit then please check her out at

When it comes to my feelings for my mother I could certainly go on and on.  I wrote all of this to let you all know that I love her.  If you ever have the chance to meet her and/or spend time with her then you will catch a glimpse of how wonderful she is.  Happy Mother’s Day!!  Thank you for all the things you do for me.  I am certainly blessed because of you.

Some Quotes For Mother’s Day

Mother love is the fuel that enables a normal human being to do the impossible.  ~Marion C. Garretty, quoted in A Little Spoonful of Chicken Soup for the Mother's Soul

A mother is the truest friend we have, when trials heavy and sudden, fall upon us; when adversity takes the place of prosperity; when friends who rejoice with us in our sunshine desert us; when trouble thickens around us, still will she cling to us, and endeavor by her kind precepts and counsels to dissipate the clouds of darkness, and cause peace to return to our hearts.  ~Washington Irving

In everyone's life, at some time, our inner fire goes out.  It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being.  We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.  ~Albert Schweitzer

Friday, May 6, 2011

Just to chew on

Now that it's all over, what did you really do yesterday that's worth mentioning?
  ~Coleman Cox

You can tell more about a person by what he says about others than you can by what others say about him.  ~Leo Aikman

Pick battles big enough to matter, small enough to win.  ~Jonathan Kozel

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Sometimes we get what we deserve ...
Mercy Came Running by Phillips, Craig & Dean

There are certainly times in life when we are in need of some discipline and God deals with us.  I have been taken to the proverbial woodshed many times in my life.  This week I had the priveledge to have a seat front and center and was able to see God's mercy in action.

I accompanied a client to court to advocate for her on a drunk driving offense (she has given permission for me to write this blog about her.  It is her desire to give God the glory).  My personal opinion was that she deserved to go to jail.  I have been working with her since last July after she was arrested. We have been addressing her issues and anxiety, especially her extreme anxiety about being confined in jail.  She is a new believer and had been praying in earnest for God's mercy.  She saw this situation as her "wake-up" call and had taken a lot of action to change her life since her arrest.  I should add that she has been quite faithful and resolute in these changes and has not wavered from them even a little.

I attended court with her to testify but also because I wanted to try to make sure her sentencing was immediate (it had been put off several times drawing out and causing unbearable anxiety for her) and I wanted to be there when she fell apart upon hearing she would go to jail.  I fully believed that this would be what happened.  I thought it was unavoidable. Apparently, I was wrong.

What I am taking away from this experience is a humbleness and new appreciation for God's mercy.  Divine love and mercy truly goes beyond our understanding.  Good thing!  I do not pretend to understand what happens in this world.  I do not understand why some things happen to some people and how others are spared what looks to be an oncoming disaster.  I DO know that my understanding of justice is human and that God merits out his mercy according to His own divine love and understanding.

I have a new appreciation for the saying..."Relax..God is in charge".  I also intend to work on being less judgemental the next time I see what looks to me to be someone NOT being held accountable.  It will no doubt be a sign that divine love and mercy are in play and that I should mind my own business.

Sigh...I am a work in progress.