1/13/2011

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow



As I sat out front in my car, staring at that black door that had changed my life, it was hard to get up the courage to walk back inside. First it was cold out and so nice and warm in my car. Secondly, I knew, stepping out of my car put me one step closer to that black door. And once through it, a haunting memory would come back. One I had avoided looking at for quite some time. But, summoning up inner strength I knew I had, I opened the door and I walked out.

There, that wasn’t so bad. I walked around and approached the door, remembering how it felt like alittle over three years ago to be standing right here, at the same spot, infront of this shop, the same person but feeling so much different. It seemed like a lifetime ago. I opened the door very slowly, then reached out for the inner door knob to go in the offices and once inside, I was immediately greeted by Gale Nowlen, the owner. “Wow, you look great!” I saw down, looked around, breathed deep and then relaxed. Yes, I was back.

The woman Gale was attending to was having her hair trimmed. She looked over at me and sensed something special was going on, something was in the air. She said, looking from Gale to I, “Do you two have a secret or something?” I told her the short version, “Mame, the last time I was in here, she shaved my head. Yep, this lady here shaved off every hair off of my head and had me walk out of here stark bald!” Gale and I laughed as the woman grabbed the top of her head not seeming to find my comments near as humorous as I. Gale intervened explaining that I had begun cancer treatment and was about to lose all of my hair from the drug. I had been advised to have my hair taken off since it was long to avoid the shock of it falling out. I came in like a scared rabbit, intending on having it cut down quite abit. Gale gave me the courage to say “take it all off” and leave it behind, there on the floor of that salon and not look back. I walked back out of that shop, with a scarf tied around my head , standing up straight and saying “One day I will come back to this shop and you will do my hair and next time, it won’t be on the darn floor when I leave!”

I thought of that day many times over the past three years. Not just on the days when I was bald, but on the days when the fuzz starting coming back on my head and I felt like a peach. Then when my hair started picking up a bit of curl I wanted to come back and show Gale how my hair didn’t come back pocker straight and thin and flaunt the fact it was a wee bit nicer. But somehow, even then, I could not bring myself to walk in that door. It was as if, walking in there, was facing demons, facing one of the real ugly parts of having cancer I did not want to look at eye to eye. And then as it grew and I colored it and cut it, it was easier to push that memory way back and give up that darn idea of going back to that shop. What did it matter now anyways?

On Wednesday of this week, I was at a luncheon with a group of cancer survivors. I had just got done saying to someone I needed to find a new hair dresser. A mutual friend walked in the tea house we were at and came over to join us. She overhead my question and told me of a wonderful lady that does her hair and is fabulous. She even knew this stylist was a cancer survivor herself so was very compassionate. The name of her shop was All About Changes and she owned the shop. As she said the stylist’s name, I instantly recognized it. My mouth dropped open; it seemed like a sign that I was supposed to go there. My friend gave me the number to the shop and told me to call her. The next day, after putting it off, I finally did, half hoping she wouldn’t answer. But she did answer and there I was, on the phone and wondering what are the odds of her remembering me? I recanted some of who I was and she pretty quickly said, “Oh, I remember you, you were Italian and had long dark hair and I talked you into just having it all shaved off. “

Today, I walked in there. Today, she saw that my hair has returned. Today, she told me that my hair is as beautiful as ever. Today that floor was not covered with my hair when I left. Today I left with my head of hair held high. Today, before I left, she was crying because she told me the saddest day in her cancer battle was the day she lost her hair. See when Gale shaves someone’s head for cancer, she does it for free, as a way of giving back to others and it forces her to relive one of the saddest moments in her life. And she does so willingly for others. She did that for me, over three years ago. We shared a bond in that moment, one that needs no words.

Shaving a head is hard for a cancer patient, no matter what your occupation. But being a stylist and having a client come back to your shop to say thank you for shaving my head with so much compassion when I thought my world was caving in made her feel wonderful and she should. I will always be grateful for the part she played in my recovery. And to think I gave her such added joy by simply walking back in there and saying, please style my hair,well that made us both smile. Yes, today there was hardly any hair on the floor, there were only tears of joy and thanksgiving to flow and a sense we will continue to see each other as survivors. Ah, I have come to love that word! Oh, and yes, the feel of my hands and fingers running through my hair. No such thing as a bad hair day once you have had no hair! Today, Gale and I experienced some healing. Perhaps it is fitting that her shop then is called All About Change.

Thank you Lord for every strand of hair on my head! >

1/11/2011

Ty Ry



There is a little boy
Who is shy and demure
He has innocent eyes
And a kindred soul so pure.

He is usually very quiet
Content to let others steal the light.
He is the middle child, so, even in his innocence
He knows how to fight…and bite!

Once he gets over his shyness
He loves to explore
He literally gets lost in his curiosity,
Going room to room, door to drawer!

And he opens his mouth
And laughs with glee
He usually emits a little scream
That sounds totally off key.

When he dances he smiles
Rolling his hands to the beat of his feet,
He rocks to and fro repeatedly
Till he falls with a kerplunk to his seat.

Oh, this one is a cutie,
God sent him Special Delivery,
My grandson is like no other,
Yes, Ty Ry, you are a star to me.

As I wrote this, I could not help but wonder what the meaning of my grandson’s name, Ty, was, so I researched it. I was surprised to find out that the biblical meaning is, honorable. What a wonderful meaning behind the name for such a delightful little boy. Those of us that have come to know Ty and cherish him will find it fitting his name has such a special meaning. I hope, in reading my little rant, you have to come to know some of what makes Ty so special to us. I also hope you remember that, often times, the quietest child may have just as much to say and share!

Winter Cup of Milk & Surgar



When I see the scene outside, with the landscape outlined in snow, I am taken back over the years to a place I spent many weekend winters as a youngster. My family was the only one, at the time, that had moved outside of the Italian fold and lived outside of Toledo, Ohio. Toledo was where my grandparents had came to and called home when leaving Italy after marrying and entering the United States via Ellis Island like so many other immigrants.

At least once a month, we would pack up our suitcases and head up to Toledo for a visit. One of the highlights of these trips in the winter was my sister and I got to spend time at my cousin Julie’s house. Julie lived in a neighborhood right off the lake, and that neighborhood had some of the best snowfalls I have ever seen, even to this day and those winters there was a sight to behold.

Terri and I were giddy with excitement to go over to Aunt Carmen and Uncle Joe’s house. It was always brimming with activity. With four children in the family and a neighborhood of kids, there never seemed to be a dull moment. Those days left an Indelible mark on me.

I would walk in my aunt’s house and be immediately met with the strongest whiff of coffee brewing imaginable. I don’t know what my aunt and uncle put in their coffee but the two of them should have been in a coffee commercial for sure. The sight of the two of them, hunkered down over that old kitchen table drinking a cup of java was a picture of the American family everywhere in America. It kinda reflected them having a moment of reflection, bonding and reprieve from the day’s worries and stress in that moment of coffee. I remember them sitting there, taking a good long time to drink it, savoring every drop, just like the commercials say. There was something about those times, the look on their faces, that will stay with me forever. I think it was the look of pure contentment, of peace. Even with four kids and the noise of the house, that coffee was going to be drunk and they were not, most days, going to be pushed to bypass this ritual. I loved the tradition, the fact that they shared this moment, in an otherwise hectic household!

I can still hear the sound of the slamming door. It was, for some reason, a welcome sound to me. It still brings a smile to my face just thinking about that door, the familiarity of hearing it and the repetitiveness of it, every time I was there.

It might be Jenny, the beautiful oldest daughter that had to be the most outspoken cheerleader I have ever met slamming the door. She was this petite brunette with eyes and a face that would melt a man’s heart at any age and a body hand carved to perfection. What was included in the package was a fiery spark that, once ignited, it became a force to be reckoned with and for some reason, my aunt and uncle seemed to be a catalyst for sparking it, or at least in her mind they were. Looking back, maybe it was that boyfriend that just seemed to honk when he came to pick her up also that added to the turmoil? I never met him but he sure was lucky to be dating my wonderful cousin. He would honk his horn as his car pulled up to the front of the house, she would look out the bay window to see it was him and then she ran out that front door, slamming that screen door while my aunt were screaming at her. Jenny would either scream back or pretend she didn’t hear.

Personally, I think that screaming was an art form perfected by my grandparents. When I stayed with them, my grandparents did the same thing, only they spoke in Italian so I could not understand what was being said but it sounded pretty much the same. But, when they did it, my sister and I laughed so hard. With it being spoken in a native tongue, not only did it sound funny but their faces took on these weird contorted expressions that, as kids, we thought it was all pretty funny!

Joey, the next child in the sibling line up, also was known to slam the door. He was a great hockey player in the neighborhood. He was a good looking young man just a few years younger than Jenny. We could tell, he was a young version of our Uncle Joe in appearance. Personality wise, they seemed very different, in fact, they clashed. Terri and I loved Joey, we wished he would pay more attention to us but he didn’t seem to be around the house long enough to spend time with us and we were sure two little girls were boring to a big rough tough guy like him.

Joey played hockey on the rink down the road and was great at it. We were told by Julie, his sister, he loved to fight. I am not sure if he instigated them or if it was the nature of the neighborhood. He was muscular, well built and looked confidant and secure with himself so I am sure it was not due to anyone picking on Joey, no one would be that stupid to intentionally tick him off! Joey seemed to have an edge to him thought that always made me think he was not going to take anything from anyone on that rink, and apparently he didn’t. Boy, he would come home and have the scars, the cuts and bruises to show he didn’t! He would leave the house with those skates over this shoulders and the door slamming with Uncle Joe yelling at him but I never about what. Then next, there, the familiar sound came, the door slamming, and it was quiet again.

The house was somewhat quieter now with only two kids left. By now, Uncle Joe would be leaving to head into work or go do some chores or whatever Uncle Joe did when he left. As a kid, I really didn’t know and wasn’t concerned. My life was about living in the moment, and having fun. We were ready to go outside and play. Our agenda was building snowmen and making a igloo as, where they lived was pretty close to Michigan and had fantastic snow to build things with. We would get bundled up now to go outside to play for the day. And then, as we headed out, with our cousin closest to our age Julie, leading the way, the door would slam behind us. Only to be opened again and then slam again with the sound of a strong boy’s voice yelling ,‘Wait up!”

Ohps, we forgot Jeffy again! Jeffy was the youngest. I never asked if he was an accident but he was not only the youngest but there was quite an age gap between him and the other three. He was a sweetheart boy, quite large for his age but he always seemed a little out of place. He wanted to tag along with us and yet seemed oblivious to the fact of his age difference. It is funny, looking back, to say that now, because the same thing is true of me, in regards to my sister and cousin but, at the time, I never noticed it either. Hindsight is twenty- twenty! Anyways, we all loved Jeffy. He was a bundle of love, energetic and always wanted to please, sometimes maybe too much. He could be exasperating with his limitless energy and questions and yet you could not help but love him. He had a heart of gold and a warm spirit and just wanted to be loved and belong.

We would stay out there for hours. We would build snowmans. We would make snow angels and walk through the neighborhood just loving the feel of walking in snow drifts and getting lost in the piles that had gotten pushed by the roadside. Jeffy and I could get in ones over our head and have to scream for help to get out. Terri and my cousin Julie found that so funny and Jeffy and I found it sort of scary but kept doing it to make the older two laugh. Our igloos we used as bases for our snow ball fights. We switched teams because we wanted to each have a turn being on the winning team.

Our noses would turn so red, they looked like bright red cherries. Our fingers would get so cold, they would be numb as would our toes, and yet we would still stay outside. I laugh thinking about it now as I live in a neighborhood with children and see snow all over and not one child outside in two days. When I was a child, you could not get me inside! Aunt Carmen would yell over and over again till she got so angry, her face turned as red as our noses to get us in the house.

When we finally responded, my favorite part came next, warm milk with sugar in it. I had never had this from anyone nor have I had it since. In my mind, this was a pure gift from Aunt Carmen and my cousin Julie. We would hunker down over the mug of it and sit at that rickety kitchen table just as my Aunt and Uncle had done in the morning. We kids would have removed all our wet clothing and sit on those chairs, teeth chattering and grab our mugs and it was like a reenactment of the morning scene with my aunt and uncle. We would sit there and we would kinda have a moment of reflection, bonding and reprieve from the day’s activities that moment of drinking that mug. I remember sitting there, taking a good long time to drink it, savoring every drop, just like a commercial. There was something about those times, the look on our faces, that will stay with me forever. I think it was the look of pure contentment, of peace.

Ah, the price of peace = a warm cup of milk with sugar in it. Could peace come so simply to our world?

1/06/2011

Tutus Aren't for All Little Girls


This morning I decided to change the template of my blog page. When I looked at all the choices, to those that know me well, the choice of ballerina slippers seems an unlikely choice. Ah, but therein lies a story behind those slippers. Once I saw them, it reminded me instantly of my youth.

Years ago, when my sister Terri and I were only about 9 and 7, respectively, we were put in ballet classes. See, our father had been divorced for several years but had retained full custody of us. We were not what you would call ‘tomboys’ but we were also not ‘girly girls’ by any stretch. Up into that point, we had been without a mother in our home for years. So, no, we were most definitely not into pink or flowers, we did not have a mother to lovingly watch apply her makeup, we did not have smelly perfume in our home, we did not even know what a razor was, nor home baked cookies and other things little girls our age had exposure too.

Our escapades were not dance recitals, thus far in life, but were more likely to be scenes like the one involving Terri getting accidentally hit with a fly ball at a neighbor’s house when Jean, a boy close to my sister’s age, smacked a good fly ball right in the vicinity of my sister’s nose. I am not sure who cried harder at the sight of all that blood, her or me. So neither of us were sports girls, the first picked to be on anyone’s teams.

As far as cheerleading, we both thought it was stupid. Oh, except when it came to Terri cheering me on. For example, when I was being taught how to ride a bike and she wanted me to pick up the speed some, she would yell at me to hurry up. There was that one time, when she challenged me to go further up the big hill we lived on and come down it, with lightening speed. She was so proud of me, as I zoomed past her. She cheered loud enough that I thought all the neighbors could hear her, particularly when she screamed “Brake” at the precise spot where she has rehearsed with me multiple times to apply the brakes. This spot was important as we lived off a major road and running into it meant going straight into two lanes of major traffic,

Funny how that last time down the road I forgot that one little tip and all I can remember thinking about is “Wow, I am really going fast, this is pretty cool, I wonder how I slow down some?” The closer I got to the main road I took, what I saw as the only alternative, oblivious to my older sister’s heated warnings and screams. I quickly jolted my steering bars to the right turning the bike straight towards the creek bed alongside our house. As I literally flew off the road, up over the creek, I stayed composed enough to stay glued to my bike sea. Very uncermoniously, I then crumbled to the pile of rocks below. The rest is a blur - except for the sound of my sister Terri. I heard my sister, in muttered slow motion speed yell “Oh no…..” The next sounds I heard were her sobbing, during a ride to the ER. This time she cried harder than me, I am not sure if she was crying more out of anger or fear of Dad's anger over her failed teaching lesson to me!

In this environment, our step mother was brought onto the scene with two girls who she was determined to try to make into two proper ladies in waiting. One of the first things on the list was getting us abit more poised, thus ballet lessons. This was met with much resistance. I was a follower so if Terri did not like it, I would follow suit. She hated the thought of it. Even worse than having to be somewhere with a room full of strange little girls was having to wear the silly little tutus.

Off we were both carted to classes, religiously and we had to attend weekly. It felt like a death sentence to us both. We both did so poorly that our teachers strongly suggested we get a great deal of practice time at home. Great, the classes were bad enough and now, condemned to spend more time pointing toes!

Both of us showed no initiative to practice on our own so thus began, what we saw, as an extreme form of punishment, “mandatory ballet practice.” Oh yes, I can remember the sounds of us moaning and groaning while doing plies than were as graceful as the Incredible Hulk twirling on his tippie toes. We hated it was a major understatement.

Our dancing in life had been limited to merely doing impromptu performances to Lawrence Welk for our live-in housekeeper Mrs. Train on Saturday nights. Until this time, when our dad was out dating on weekends, Mrs. Train would let Terri and I run around the living room, like dancing fools, as if we were the stars of the show. When the music came on, we would proudly, take turns introducing each other and being the lead dancer. What fun we had and how good we thought we were! This ballet stuff, this was way different. This organized controlled performance dancing was for the birds, in our little heads. We still hated pink, giggled at each other in the silly looking tutus and thought the other little prissy girls in the classes were boring.

This ritual of go to dance classes and practice ballet almost daily went on for what seemed like months on end. Eventually, as the fights continued over 'why we must go,' our new mother finally decided it was not worth the battle time. I think all mothers find out, sooner or later, they must pick their battles more cautiously. The battle of the tutu was apparently not high enough of a priority to my mom to waste energy over. Thus, the tattered unloved, uncared for ballet shoes were put to rest. The tutus were retired to the basement. Perhaps they were given to some other little girls more appreciative of wearing pink. And my sister and I never ever looked back. Adieu.....

When I saw this picture, this template, I could not help but remember how silly we looked in ballet. Each of us standing there, like two farm hands dressed in pink from head to toe, with lower lips out so miserable and yet both Terri and I so wanting to be loved and needing to belong to something. We found our place in life, Terri and I, but thank goodness, for the wonderful world of dance, it was not in ballet.

Oh Terri, some people look ‘Pretty in Pink’ dear but, you and I most certainly, we did not!

1/04/2011

Do Head High Kicks Matter?


At Stebbins High School in Dayton Ohio, many girls dreamed of being on the Drill team and being able to proudly be called a Stebbinette, or in other circles merely called a drillee. With it came the responsibility of attending many practices, attending band camp in the summer for a week long drudgery of practices followed by evening free time to recover from sore muscles and potential heat strong. Summers in Wilmington Ohio at Bluffton College, were camp was held, were hot. Marching and dancing for the afternoon in the blistering sun on a football field void of shade could be quite grueling. All this was done just to get the girls and the Marching Band “show ready” for the first football game of the year. And each year, without fault, the show went on with each new routine just as exciting in its own way as the previous year’s show.

At the time, those of us on the squads thought Drill Team was about being popular, learning dance routines, having fun and getting into football and basketball games for free. There were a few other fringe benefits, such as four period in high school, when we were not performing, it was a free period and we were known to leave school and slip out to lunch off campus. (Oh, the stories that could be told!) The camaraderie of the other girls, the friendships that were formed, was an added benefit also. But, a drawback was also being forced to spend time with some folks that you might otherwise choose to not be around nearly as much. There were the typical personalities on that team, the Divas, the loud mouth complainers, the back stabbers, the party girls, the comics, the miss congeniality(s), and all those in between. Yes, it was a diverse melting pot, just like the population at large at our high school W. E. Stebbins. And those of us on the drill team were so very proud to be members!

The focus, in those days, on that team were a few basics. Top on the list was being able to do a head high kick. This meant keeping one leg straight on the ground and kicking the other leg perfectly straight (with no knee bent) and extending it consistently on a kick line perfectly in time and in line with other girls side by side, arm in arm with each kick over the head in unison. No easy feat! This required regular stretching and practice, as an individual and with the team. Other obstacles were thrown in the way over the years also, such as doing this on bar stools, doing splits in ripple lines, etc…. Each feat required new muscle groups to be worked, rehearsed in unison with the team and staged perfectly.

We were coached to hold our head high, to make certain our chin was in line with the back of the stands and to maintain a smile at all times during our performance. In the beginning, we called this faking a smile but over time, as we found our comfort level and realized we really did have something to smile about, it came more naturally. With confidence, comes pride.

So many times, over the years, I have remembered the silly things, the high white ‘go-go’ looking boots, the white eye shadow we all had to wear up to our eyebrows to look uniform, whether or not it looked good on any of us! But, through it all, much like looking back at my children’s experience with sports, I do see the big picture, the life experiences that were gained from being a drillee.

Everyone on the drill team learned to step in time, to make certain we performed in unison which meant you had to not only concentrate on your steps but the person on either side of you. This truly enforced the idea of interdependence. When this is done well, the walk of life is beautiful.

Our team was full of diversity and we had to get along to make a routine make sense. Our world is full of unique personalities as well. The challenges we face, day to day, is understanding through our differences. Without doing this well, we are ignorant.

We were given demerits on drill team as punishment. Rules are made for a reason and we do not get the luxury of making them. Abiding by them is our civic responsibility. If we disobey, we must pay in some way. Learning there are consequences in high school taught us to think about our actions before reacting.

Being able to bend this way and that takes flexibility. This can only be accomplished by exercising. There was no one to remind you, in between practices to stretch either. Similarly, there was no one in between practices to remind you to rehearse the dance routines. But being in shape and being in step was a responsibility. If you were not on, individually, you hurt more than just yourself, you hurt your team. Thus, being on, meant taking self responsibility to work out on your own and everyone took that initiative or did not last on drill team. You had to have some drive, some motivation and some self discipline.

I remember once when I was a sophomore my mother telling me a French teacher called her about a class I was in. She told my mother she thought I was spending too much time doing something irrelevant, “swinging pompoms” as she put it to my mother. My mom responded angrily, “Do you mean that the time my daughter spends working out hard for the Drill team is not of value?”

Thank you Mom! Head high kicks do matter. They helped make me who I am today.

1/02/2011

Have a Colorful 2011!

As I cleaned out the closets one by one, I made my way to the upstairs room where most of the forgotten items are placed. The closet that seldom gets opened. Where items hardly ever seen or heard from are viewed. And as I opened it, and glanced at the door, this new year, I paid particular attention to the colors of the scarves hanging on the inside of the door.

My husband had so created specially designed hanger to hold every single scarf that been made, bought and given to me during my long battle with cancer years ago. I was struck by how many colors I saw, the diversity of patterns, the sheer volume of scarves there were. I gathered all the various scarves hanging there up in my hands, closed my eyes and then, laid my face up down in them.

Standing there, bent over, inhaling deeply I thought about the hands that had lovingly supported me all those months long ago. I recall the angels that had supported m, one by one, far too many to list. Memories that were priceless; Candida who made me homemade cards, and sent them out of the blue sporadically with special notes of encouragement. Suzanne and Janet, two dear cousins of my husband’s, letting me know I was as sweet as they candy they were sending me. Marlene in DC hand picking out the color of scarves to send me that she thought would bring the light back into my eyes at a time when all I saw was a lot of darkness in the inside of my bedroom. There was a beautiful basket of goodies two friends, Carolyn and Sherry had dropped at the hospital to me after one of my surgeries. They were my only visitors that stay in the hospital so I truly was touched by the visit! The basket was used to hold, for my entire treatment time, to hold cards I received. By the conclusion of treatment, it spilled over with cards from friends, family and people I did not even know with good wishes and prayers for a recovery. Then there was dear Marc, a Christian friend, who had his young church class praying for me, and yes I felt their young prayers weekly. I smiled with the blessing of it and looked over at my husband who smiled back at me. Holding all those scarves I knew what a blessing I had experienced.

With the passage of times, I no longer wear scarves but cannot bear the thought of letting go of even one of those scarves. I feel as if they are a part of the fabric of me. In remembrance, one year in celebrating my birthday with girlfriends, I wore one over my hair to a luncheon. One friend looked at me inquisitively and asked why I was wearing it. I said “To remember.” I think I need to do that more often. In fact, I challenge all women, wear a scarf one day a year, walk the walk of a cancer patient and see the world from their perspective. Having cancer is not a cake walk, the rest of the world, when a woman loses their hair, tends to look at your funny at a time when you already feel isolated and hurting inside. Do not judge that which is different or avoid it but try, through the grace of God, understanding and possibly embrace it. As I use to tell my children when they were little, a smile goes a long way. To a cancer patient, on a bad day, it is a sign from an angel.

As I closed the door of that closet, I cannot help but feel so grateful that my life has forever changed. So many people I have met, along this path of recovery, either survivors, care takers or those taken by God to everlasting peace have too. Some wonderful people have walked into my life, and some old friendships have been rekindled with the awareness the light of life on this earth is fading. I don’t know when the clock will stop ticking but I am certain one day, it will and I do have strong enough faith that I live void of the fear. But I also live feeling as if every day counts. I have attended far too many funerals to prove it. I just love my friend Carole’s comment to me at a mutual cancer’s friend funeral “I need to start hanging out with a different group of friends!” and yet, she is always near to those in need. That woman has a heart of gold and even when her husband was diagnosed with cancer, her faith seldom falters, what an example to others.

When our group of survivors meets, we always talk about how important it is to surround ourselves with healthy relationships, people that make us feel beautiful and whole. Anyone who tears us down or makes us feel part of a dysfunctional relationship is a threat to our physical and emotional health. This can cut our lifespan short. This is true for everyone. Boundaries are also important. Just like pulling the scarves out to reflect on them and then closing the door, we all must do that also with the ghosts in our closet. Not everything about those scarves brings back positive happy memories either, cancer is not pretty. Our pasts are usually full of some hurts and some unfulfilled needs. Take a look at them, ‘your scarves’ accept responsibility for them and then move on. It does no good to harbor resentment towards anyone, your parents make mistakes, and you make mistakes. We all must accept accountability for our lives, at some point, and move on. Live. Live healthy. Boundaries must be set and healthy relationships need to start there. Those scarves and the cancer do not define me, therefore, they do not need to be out front and center in our home, and they will never be placed prominently.

With a new year comes new promises, new hopes, and new tomorrows. But those scarves remind me of wonderful yesteryears and also of sorrows. Those memories make me who I am today. We can run from our past but should we? Part of who we are today is where we came from. I choose to look back, reflect, draw strength from what I did right, and from those that gave me strength and hope when I was weak, and grow from it. We all must live in the present and surround ourselves with those people that accept us for who we are and make us feel beautiful. The range of colors in that closet represent God's array of people, the diversity in His children, the assortment of gifts. I hope those 'gift givers' that contributed to the array of colors on the inside of my closet door like the view of what they see in me today....

Happy New Year and may 2011 be colorful and full of hope and promise!