Time Out

I just got back from a brief vacation in the Black Hills and had no intention of blogging about  it until Nancy Stordahl, who blogs at Nancy’s Point, asked me if I was going to and I thought, “Why not?”

Not so much to recount “what I did on my fall vacation” (although I have a stowaway cat adventure I’ll share with you in a minute) but perhaps to muse a bit on what I didn’t do and why.

I did not get on Twitter or Facebook or WordPress, and only partially because cell service was sketchy. I did not observe Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day on October 13th (which was also the day my dad would have turned 81 if he were still with us). It’s not because I no longer care; I feel like my finite time and shifting priorities require it.

I realize how self-indulgent that sounds, and how anyone with advanced cancer wishes they had the luxury of turning away. But I also recall what Lisa Bonchek Adams, a great writer who recently learned her breast cancer had metastacized, said in a recent blog post–“go out and find beauty in something small today . . . because you can.”

And that’s what I did. I hiked with Bruce and the people who own the cabin we stayed at.  We ate homemade crackers and cheese dip and drank some really great wine. We thought of Dad, and Pam, taken out by metastatic breast cancer in April. About this time a year ago we were with her in Napa, a blessing we’ll always remember.

I wrote two poems and an essay, which happens to be the amount of homework I had yet to complete for my next deadline in the MFA program I’m enrolled in. I tried just letting it happen instead of focusing on a quota, and it worked. I took a stack of books and my notebook and laptop and decided to putter. I took notes on most of the 10-hour drive about what I saw in case it turned into something and Bruce helped, pointing out things he saw as well. I’m learning to trust the process although I always fear it’s going to leave me again like it did 20-some years ago.

I think I was able to create something in large part because I wasn’t tweeting and blogging and posting and commenting. I tried to let my mind focus on nothing more than watching two beautiful horses in a pasture and going for walks and hanging out on the porch with Donner the German shepherd and Blitzen the cat.

Which brings me to my stowaway cat story. Blitzen is a very friendly and curious cat. He kept trying to get into the pickup with us when we were getting ready to go explore and we thought he had finally left. We traveled 15 miles to a lake and when we got out of the truck we heard meowing. I thought, “Oh, how awful, someone dumped a cat!” Then we noticed it was really loud near the truck and thought “uh-oh” but didn’t see Blitzen in the bed. We finally looked under the truck and there he was on top of the spare tire. He came down after about a half hour and we took him home (inside the cab!) He crawled from Bruce’s lap to mine and seemed to enjoy himself. We think he used up one of his nine lives that day but are very happy we got him safely home.

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It’s Time to Act With Love

It’s October 1st and you know what that means. Time to cringe from the onslaught of all things pink, as though pink were some kind of cure. Too many of us to mention have blogged about how tired we are of all this, so I’m not going to revisit that.

Instead, I took a pledge I would blog today about the HOW (Health of Women) study, the first international online breast cancer study and a program of the Dr. Susan Love Breast Cancer Research Foundation. I signed up to be a part of the study and you can too. You don’t have to be a breast cancer survivor to participate. You don’t even have to be female.

The purpose of the study is to find clues researchers may have missed, since the majority of women who get breast cancer have none of the known risk factors. If you participate you will receive questionnaires about your health, diet, family history and other topics that can help them get a better understanding of breast cancer and its potential causes. Survivors get questions geared to having had the disease.

Please share this with everyone you know. We know people want to be helpful because they buy pink things to support the cause and post Facebook items telling people what color their bra is to raise awareness. This is their (and your, and my) chance to actually do something. It’s time.