My heart is feeling so heavy tonight. As you guys all know, my dad is battling cancer. Battling cancer. That statement seems so canned, which I guess is representative of these times; we hear it so often. Who isn't battling cancer?

Anyway, some days I feel good and positive, and other days I feel like fear has it's ugly yet powerful hand gripped around my throat and is killing me. That is today. And that is because yesterday, I got news that my dad was instructed to go in for an MRI because the docs don't know what's currently wrong with him.

It's a long story, and not one I feel like re-hashing right now, but basically he is and has been suffering tremendous pain from side-effects of the different "treatments" and surgeries that have attempted to kill the cancer. Currently, he has intense pain in his entire head and neck, and the docs can't seem to understand why, thus the MRI. Now, it could be anything, but because the man has stage 4 cancer, the first thing that comes to my mind is that the cancer has spread, yet again, and that it's in his brain. PANIC MODE!

It's these moments in between diagnoses and real news that are the worst, because they yield the most "what if's?" and anxiety. "What if it's this? What if it's that? What if it's just a sinus infection?" But regardless of the final outcome, it makes me think of the worst case scenario, and I hate that about cancer: it makes you go there. And to make matters worse, my dad's birthday is on Thursday so today I had to go card shopping :( I have a tendency to cry in the card aisle on normal days, but today the waterworks were definitely in full effect.

Anyway, I'm just feeling all sorts of spun. I know that for me, when I'm feeling this type of panic and anxiety, I know that the antidote is gratitude. Gratitude always brings me back to center and makes me re-focus on the positive. It's the main spiritual principle that I live by and I know that it works, so with that, allow me to give thanks in order to relive my anxiety:

20 things I am grateful for today, January 12, 2010:

1. winter sunshine - cold reinvigorating air in my lungs and golden warmth on my face.
2. cooking dinner with my love
3. old friends - nothing quite like 'em!
4. being able to sleep in until 8:00 today - a rare occurrence
5. My health
6. New supplies from Staples - does anyone else love "sheet protectors" like I do?
7. Pandora music - best invention ever! I'm all about the Eddie Vedder station
8. Purpose
9. The ability to temporarily work from home
10. The kind and helpful staff at Kitchen Kapers
11. The power of snuggles (don't laugh)
12. The power of Facebook to connect people
13. The power of peanut butter on toast ;)
14. my fresh dry-cleaned winter coat
15. you
16. Ken Burns' series on the National Parks - it's amazing.
17. my cocktail - it's looking at me & begging me to put it on this list
18. feeling well rested, relatively speaking
19. the fact that I have one more semester :D
20. our couch, which if you haven't been devoured by, well, it's your loss ;)

Ok, so that's my list, and ya know what? i feel better. I feel good, in fact. Works like a charm every time!

If you choose to leave a comment on this post, I invite you to leave your list of what you're grateful for right this moment. It doesn't have to be 20 things; maybe three or five, or how ever many you wish to share, but please do share. And as always, thank you for listening. This wouldn't be anything without you guys...

A Christmas Story, by way of a Question


This post was originally just gonna be a question: "What colors do you see when you visit this blog", but I've gotta give the back story...

Imagine it: it's the night of December 23rd and Jay & I had determined that we would exchange gifts this night because we were scheduled to leave on the 24th for our holiday travel / family extravaganza. So we separate and go into different rooms to wrap gifts. In my head I'm thinking that he'll need a solid hour to wrap all of my gifts, both because he got me many, many gifts, and because well, he's a man and men are... let's just say that in my experience, men are not blessed with talent in the art of gift wrap.

About 15 minutes in to the wrap session, there was a rap at the door of the room I was in. It was Jay, joyfully letting me know that he was done and asking whether or not I was done. I quickly scanned the 3 out of 12 gifts that I had wrapped and politely let him know that 1) I was not done, and 2) I was very impressed with his ability to wrap ALL of my many gifts in such a short amount of time. I also secretly panicked, as we had not set an official spending limit and had simply agreed to spoil each other to a point that we felt comfortable with. "Oh crap!", I thought, what if I had gone way overboard with all of these presents and what if he had only bought me a pair of cute socks and a tube of Burts Bees. Nah. Never. Not Jay. Not in a million years. And so I dismissed the thought and wrapped on, for at least another 20-30 minutes.

When I finally emerged from the bedroom, I had to struggle to carry and see my way through the pile of neatly wrapped packages in my arms. By the time I got out to the living room where the Christmas tree was, I almost dropped them. Not because they were heavy or falling out of my arms, but because I saw what was under the tree waiting for me: 4 gifts. "Just four?", I thought, as I eyeballed the twelve that I had for him. Huh.

We shared a hug and both expressed utter excitement about giving each other gifts, and Jay says, "well you definitely win in the quantity department..." And since the joy is truly more on the giving side, I feel really excited and kinda feel bad that he only has four gifts to give me. poor guy.

So he starts opening my gifts to him: a really nice chef's knife, a Ken Burns documentary series, shirts, music, etc. He hands me one gift but states that 3 out of the 4 are all connected so I would need to open it, not look at it and just put it down and cover it up. "Huh,.. shady", I think. I open #1, put it down and cover it with wrap. I open #2, put it down and cover it with wrap. Meanwhile I give him more gifts to open: DVD's, another shirt, more kitchen stuff, etc. Finally it's time for gift #3, the one that is connected to and will explain #1 and #2; I open it and see that it's an electronic gadget. After a couple oohs and ahhs, and a "what is it?", I realize it's a GPS system.

{Before I proceed, I should tell you that I love maps and that I have a great sense of direction. In fact, I love to get lost for the sheer enjoyment of finding my way out. So a GPS system is the LAST thing I would want. It's like a chef getting a years subscription to "Microwave Meals". I also think that GPS systems are making people dumb, but that's a whole other blog}

I had to be honest, but I needed to buy myself another 20 seconds, so I was like, "ohhh, what is it? Ohhh, okay, well, um, I really, uh-- yeah I really don't want this. Sorry love, but it's not really me, ya know?" And Jay was like, "well I know how much you love maps (SO SWEET) and I thought it might be useful on our road-trip (again, very sweet and thoughtful), and I thought you might really like it" And I was like, "yeah, I like maps, when they're on the wall or in an atlas. Sorry presh" :( So there it was: 3 out of 4 of my gifts were a FAIL. 75% down the tubes. It was classic, and as disappointed as he was, he was a good sport and we were able to laugh pretty hard about it, which was a gift unto itself.

So it all came down to the fourth and final gift, which totally looked like a shirt box or maybe a board game. I picked it up and thought "yes, definitely a board game", which was cool cause games were on my list. I peeled back the upper left corner and just saw white. I ripped some towards the center and saw some pinkish / purple design. And then I realized: it was a new laptop :) And, it was a really really nice laptop; a MacBook Pro, which is an upgrade from my current one, which has recently started to become sluggish, burnt, and has possible and probable internal melt issues. EPIC SUCCESS! It was classic, 75% epic failure followed my a major face-saving gift. I'm so glad it wasn't a shirt! That would've been a total FAIL.

So anyway............... that's the back-story of the original question of this blog. On my old computer the colors are slightly different and I'm not digging the way my blog colors appear on this new laptop. And that has me wondering, what do you guys see? The color on the sides is supposed to be more pinkish, like Magenta, but on my new screen it almost looks more reddish, like Burgundy. And the text box is supposed to be brown or khaki but it looks greenish now. Either I need to tweak my screen colors or I need to tweak my blog; either way, I definitely need your help!

Thanks, and Merry Christmas! I hope your gifts, both received and given, brought as much laughter and joy as ours did :)

2010 - Year of Paper & Pen


Oh my God it's 2010. Really, stop and think about that. Say it out loud. Two thousand and ten. Twenty-ten. From a 2009 perspective, or even a 2002 perspective, I suppose it sounds and feels normal, but think back to the nineties, or the eighties, or whatever generation you came up in and think how futuristic 2010 sounds. I can remember riding the bus when I was in 4th or 5th grade (in 1989) and thinking about when my little sister would graduate from high school. I did the math in my head and determined that she would graduate in a new millennium; a millennium marked by spaceships and aliens, flying cars and floating cities. That's right, she was to graduate in the space-age of 2004. Ooooh. Imagine my surprise, years later, as I sat in attendance at her high school graduation, sans spaceships and aliens. Additionally, we drove there in our regular non-flying car, to a very regular, non-floating suburb. How disappointing.

So 2004 was a disappointment, but, according to my 5th grade logic, 2010 would officially be "the future". For sure there would be flying cars and Jetson-like lifestyles by then, right?

Hmmm, I'm not so sure. But it's all relative, right? If you look at how much has happened from 1989 to 2010, especially in terms of technology, I'd say "the future" has arrived. Who could have imagined iPods and laptops and the internet!!! What about blogs and those fugly Crocs, and even the show LOST! And hello, social networking, GPS systems, electric cars, iPhones, (F)Ugg(ly) boots, hybrid fruits and the Snuggie suit??? Heck, one of my oldest and dearest friends recently had robotic surgery -- that's right, robots operated on her. Crazy, really, really crazy, but true.

These amazing innovations are proof that "the future" is here. Maybe it's not as dramatic as I once envisioned, but it is creeping upon us slowly but surely, year by year. As much as I love some (definitely not all) of these innovations, I have my reservations. I think the one thing that scares me a little is our growing dependence on technology and how much of an instant, information-hungry people we have become. Think about it, with the click of a button on any one of our devices, we can access just about any information, music, person, show, game, etc. that we desire. The constant twenty-four hour stream of news, status updates, and messages means that we're always connected and available, whether actively or passivley. While there's undeniable great benefit to that, I think are major drawbacks as well.

One specific drawback, and one that has affected my life is the declining quality of my friendships and relationships. During these past few days, I've been on a mad cleaning and organizing frenzy in an attempt to restore order to my life. Long story short, I wound up going through the chest in the bedroom that holds, among other things, all of the letters and important pieces of mail that I've ever received. There are hundreds upon hundreds of cards, notes, letters, postcards and yes, even special emails and IM chats that I have printed and saved. So I wound up going through many of these letters and cards, and was absolutely amazed by a few things. First of all, up until maybe five years ago, me and my friends all kept in touch by mail and by phone. Seriously, we would send letters back and forth, and call each other regularly. What's amazing to me is that both modes of communication have died. I no longer talk to anybody on the phone, and I no longer write nor receive letters. For some reason I never really thought about this until I went through and read the piles of letters and saw how much quality stuff was in them.

The other thing that amazed me was how many really special people and relationships I have forgotten about and lost touch with over the years. I rediscovered old letters from past co-workers, distant friends, and random people who I've met over the years, and while the rediscovery of their letters brought great joy, they also made me sad that I no longer have these people in my life :(

These days, (geeze, I sound like I'm from the 1920's) my friends and I keep up with each other through text messages, status updates and the occasional email, and you know what? All things considered, I think that sucks. I really do. I get it that we're all super busy, trust me, I really get that, but busy or not, I miss real friendships and the effort it takes to nurture them. Technology has enabled us to expand our networks and to connect with a greater quantity of people, but for me personally, the quality of these connections is lacking.

So... along with my box of letters, I also found my box of stationary & stickers, and am eager to write you a letter, or draw you a picture, or write you a poem, or just send you an envelope full of love :) And I hope that you'll write back and that we can start something. But since my address book is not current, please send me your address at: stewmody@comcast.net.

So yeah, it's 2010 and I guess the future is here. Woo. While the rest of world waits anxiously for the newest technological innovation that will "advance" our lives in some ridiculous way, I will be writing you a letter in hopes of advancing our relationship in a meaningful way. I am officially declaring 2010 the year of paper and pen!



PS. Happy New Year!