Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Great City Swap

This is not an original idea, I took it from my new blog friend Shelly. Shelly was the originator of the International City Swap, but is currently busy opening her B&B and restaurant in Longbranch, WA. She has graciously agreed to allow me to be the hostess this year.

What is the International City Swap?
What we do is we swap cities/towns. You put together a package that you think best represents the place where you live, and what you love about it. Or, if you think where you live is ridiculous, you can put in the silliest things you can find. It’s up to your own creativity.

In the past there have been some really lovely packages circulating: from Detroit to Alaska, NYC to Rome, Jordan, NY to Turin, Italy, San Jose, CA to Australia, and Atlanta, Georgia to Rome and many going state to state here in the USA. You do not have to have a blog to participate, just an email address and the willingness to put together and mail a package.

What: Swap some thing(s) that, in your opinion, best represent the place where you live, and what you think makes it unique. It can be anything from handmade to store-bought, mugs to magnets, framed photos to local food items and handicrafts to postcards and local candy…just use your creativity!

How: To join the swap, leave a comment on this post with your information, OR email me at . Please indicate if you do not wish to send internationally.

When: The deadline to join in the swap is Sunday, October 10th. I’ll post the list of swap buddies on Sunday, October 17th. Then you can get in touch with the person you’ll be sending to, to see if they have any special likes/dislikes, etc. and perhaps personalize their package a bit. You’ll have two weeks to put your package together: the packages will need to go out by Monday, November 1st.

Cost: With international currencies at different values, I’d feel better not constraining people to a set range. Use your own judgement regarding how much to spend, but I’d say a minimum of $15 is probably a good idea, just so that no one gets short-changed.

If you’d like to add a participant button to your blog sidebar, you can grab this one, and link it back to this post:
Image by
Image by

I'm already thinking about my Nashville box. It will probably contain things from the Country Music Hall of Fame, Jack Daniels Tipsy Cake and maybe even some famous Loveless Biscuit Mix.

Feel free to send this to your friends inside the U.S. and outside as well!

Quote of the day

"I need someone to create a mirror that leaves out some of the details."
~ Story People

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


Today, as I write this, my friend Denise is having her breast removed. Denise was diagnosed with breast cancer a few weeks ago and has been on the whirlwind of doctors appointments, MRIs, blood work and decisions, decisions, decisions. I've met with her several times since she found out and we've talked a lot by phone and text while she tried to make sense of what is happening.

My last text from her late last night was: "What to wear home from the hospital? Pjs? Jeans? Evening gown with heels?" I told her if she wore an evening gown with heels I would personally make sure there was paparazzi there to document it.

I'm glad she is keeping her sense of humor, because in the absurdity of it all - you have to start laughing, because crying begins to dehydrate you after a while.

Denise - you are in my thoughts and prayers today!

BREAKING NEWS: Denise came through surgery well and has clear nodes! Yay-God!


If you have read some of my other posts, you probably know I believe that sometimes God, the universe or mother nature sends us signs. I think signs are little reminders that come in the way of gut feelings, strange happenings, unexpected encounters and repetitive events. We don't always recognize these because we are all going at warp speed in this crazy world. Of course, I tell God all the time that I need my signs to be neon flashing and billboard size. When I slow down, or I am forced to slow down, I realize oh, THIS is what you've been trying to tell me.

I was reading Amy Willett's blog last night and it gave me shivers. She actually did get a big sign, in the form of a rainbow!

Congratulations Amy on finishing your treatments! You are a survivor!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Happy 75th Birthday, Dad

We celebrated Dad's 75th birthday at Cozyumels in Cool Springs on the 15th. Happy Birthday Dad!

Dad and Sherry left for a month long journey in Russia the next day. Please keep them in your prayers.

Monday, September 13, 2010


Benign - I love that word.

I got a call from my dermatologist office today. All three spots they removed were benign!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


Josh and Jenni were big fans of my mother. They called her Reba. This started when Josh was a baby and we were on a car trip. He heard my Dad say Reba, and that is all it took. Josh sat in the backseat of the car and said Ree-baaa, Ree-baa over and over and she was known as nothing else after that. She loved it!

Jenni came by last week and told me she had decided to get a tattoo. She wanted to put Reba's name or date of birth on her as a remembrance. Now I didn't grow up in a tattooed family, so it took me a little bit to absorb all of this. Josh has a tattoo, but he has always been my extreme kid. Jenni is my sweet little girl who refused to wear pants (until Jasmine came along), and was obsessed with marrying into royalty so she could be a princess.

Jenni originally wanted to get this on her wrist. She had figured out what size it would need to be to wear a watch or bracelet to cover this. This didn't work because Jenni has very small wrists. She ended up getting it on her side and Josh went with her. He said she was a real trooper and didn't even wince!

Wow! I don't really understand why they want to tattoo their bodies, but I love my kids and I think Reba is probably smiling down tonight loving them too. If my mom taught me anything it was unconditional love!

It says "Reba Jane" in Russian, because Jenni thinks this is the most attractive written language. (it's hard to photograph, because it wraps around her mid-section, but it can be hidden with clothes)

This is NOT supposed to happen...

I got a call today that totally stopped me in my tracks. One of my friends had noticed some drainage from her nipple and we talked about it. She followed up with a mammogram. She called me after her mammogram and said "Did you know when you say, I'm having nipple discharge at a breast center it's sort of like yelling bomb at an airport?" Evidently everyone sat up, took notice and scurried around.
The mammogram ended up being inconclusive so her doctor referred her to a breast surgeon. She stopped having discharge and we were all hoping it was just some sort of funky infection in a milk duct.

Until today...she called to tell me they had the path report back and it was DCIS (ductal cancer in situ). CRAP!
I think I was a very bad friend. I was speechless. I remember saying I was sorry several times, but it was so hard to hear someone I love, someone who was there for me every step of the way saying now they have cancer too. Somehow in my warped brain I told myself that breast cancer affects 1 in 8 women. I convinced myself I had taken the bullet for my group and no one else that I loved would have to go through this. I even thought for a brief minute, maybe I have let myself have too big a circle of friends. I was wrong on all counts.

Now she has to make those decisions, do I lose one or both breasts, do I want implants or not, if I do what kind and size, nipples or nipple tattoos? Too many decisions to make on an already overloaded brain. I vow to be with her every step of this journey!

You know who you are, and I will be walking for you on October 9th. When you are ready for the world to know your journey, I will hold your hand as you tell your story!

The loss of a parent

There are some things in life that change you. The loss of a parent is one of them. One of my good friends that I have known since childhood lost her father this week. I was glad we could go and be with her at the hospital, and then later at the funeral.

I'll admit though, it was tough, it's been ten years since we lost mother, but seeing them go through this grief brings it all back. Even when we know that they are better off without all the pain and suffering, we still miss them. It took me years to not pick up the phone to call Mom when something happy, scary, sad or fascinating happened. During those times I would just totally forget she was no longer on this earth with us. I know she is still with us, watching over us. I see her every day in my children and even in my grand girls. I just wish she could have known Anna, Morgan and Emri. She would be sewing princess dresses like crazy for those little girls, and they would love their Reba!

I have four friends that are my age, my grade, my youth group, my graduating class - people once called us the four musketeers. We were together from birth - our parents worked together, we played together, learned together, we grew up together, were grounded together, even quadruple dated together. At this point all but one of us has now lost a parent, and one of us has lost both. We will get through this and we will always be there for each other in presence, spirit and love. I love you Kim, Amber and Allison!

uh...know your body

Ok, so I haven't been to the dermatologist in years. The last time I went was to get my spider veins on my legs dissolved. Years of being on my feet working as a nurse caused me to go, out of vanity, to get them taken care of. While I was there they removed a mole or two and all was fine. That was so many years ago, I was not even in Belle Meade Dermatology's electronic system. They said my files were in the archives.

Last week, I decided after my whole conversation on "know your body" I should go again for a skin check. I called to make an appointment and they could see me on Tuesday morning - wow that was fast! So, in I went for a body check. The doctor looked me over and said she would remove 3 areas and send them off for biopsy. She really was only concerned with one area from my mid-back that had atypical borders, but as a rule they biopsy anything they remove. It was a quick, painless procedure and I will hear results later this week. Until then I will try not to worry and change my bandaids as instructed. Oh, and by the way - they thought my implants were impressive! : )

Know your body!

I've had this ongoing conversation with one of my coworkers recently. She is preparing to teach a evidence based course on preventive health. This course will cover things like flu shots, colonoscopy and mammograms guidelines, etc... The United States has a Preventive Service Task force that offers guidelines based strictly on evidence, and obviously - health care costs. They have released some new guidelines surrounding mammograms and self breast exams, which I think I have blogged about before.

The US Preventive Services Task force statements:
"The USPSTF concludes that the evidence is insufficient to recommend for or against teaching or performing routine breast self-examination (BSE)."
"Clinicians who advise women to perform BSE or who perform routine CBE to screen for breast cancer should understand that there is currently insufficient evidence to determine whether these practices affect breast cancer mortality, and that they are likely to increase the incidence of clinical assessments and biopsies."

So they are saying that if we teach women to do self exams, they may find non-cancerous lumps and go to the doctor to rule out breast cancer and this would increase medical costs. I do want to add that there was NOT an oncologist or breast surgeon on the panel. To me, that is like changing the cardiovascular guidelines without a cardiologist on the panel. In response to their guidelines Komen, American Cancer and others have issued their own statements contradicting some of their recommendations.

My advice to her on this training is to present the evidence based findings, and then stress to coaches to teach people to KNOW their bodies! Know how your breast feel, know how your skin looks, know if there is a change in your bowel or bladder habits, know if your voice changes octaves, or your throat is always scratchy and if there is any change - report these to your doctor immediately!

I was not really doing a self breast exam when I found my lump two years ago. I was simply enjoying some new body wash and washing my chest when I thought, hmm...what was that? that lump hasn't been there before! So, if I had waited until my routine mammogram (which according to the task force would not be due for another 7 years); I would have most likely had metastatic triple negative breast cancer, instead of catching it at stage 1.

So my advice is KNOW your body and report any changes!

Thoughts/video from a physician:

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Race for the Cure sign up

The Komen Race for the Cure is scheduled for October 9th in Nashville. I was a little late in signing up, but luckily no one had taken our team name!

Here's the link to join team Fight like a girl - or to donate:

Thank you again for all your love, support and prayers!