Monday, February 28, 2011


On this rainy day it is a great time to think about how you can replenish your life.
All aspects of your life not just your body but your heart and soul and imagination.

Nourish your soul with quiet time
Nourish your mind with a good book
Nourish your heart with laughter
Nourish your imagination with day dreams
Nourish your body with some tender loving care
Nourish your tummy with a bowl of soup
Nourish your thoughts with forgiveness

It is time to take care of you, notice what makes you feel good. Pay attention to your thoughts, your dreams, your life!

I know we live busy lives. It is easy to just go with the flow, forgetting what makes us tick, what excites us.

We just do what we have to do day after day without a thought without time to make changes or so we think. We can make changes to our lives, subtle changes that will make a difference. Everyday we live another small part of our lives, we create memeories, make plans, harbor hope.

Take some time for you today and everyday. What do you want? what will make you happy, excited, joyful? Ask your self those question and give yourself some quiet time and the answers will fill your heart.

I wish you joy and happiness and daydreams.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Exuberance, Excitment, Laughter and Good food

An abundance of laughter and good food along with positive energy and great vibes filled my home on Wednesday and Thursday night as I taught 2 nights of a fun fantastic Girl's Night Out Cooking classes!

The room was filled with happy faces and I sauteed and stirred my way to a delicious dinner. My energy was up and I gathered my strength from all the happy women in my living room!

It was a fun two nights filled with so much love and hugs and support. It was wonderful to see everyone and I was thrilled with the support and love and applause I received!
Just wonderful.

I am in the midst of setting up some additional classes as well as some day trips so look for them on my web site.

I am teaching my "Touched by Cancer" Class on Monday night. The class will be full with people who either have Cancer or know or take care of someone with Cancer. I am looking forward to sharing all the ups and downs of this disease. I am sure the night will be filled with tears but also laughter because that is what keeps me going ~ a good laugh along with so much support and love.

I go in for my 11th infusion on Tuesday. It is my next to the last before I go for more testing to see how well my body responded to the chemo. They will determine what is next after I get my PT/CT scan and MRI. It has been six months of chemo for me and I am ready for it to be over. I am trying to take one day at a time because up ahead lie operations, one for my colon and one for my liver. Not looking forward to that !!!!!But as the Dr says ... well.... let's see and so I will wait and see. In the meantime I can have some sort of my life back with teaching these classes and maybe doing a Shopping with Susan Day Tour.

I do have to say that by getting back into my classes my spirit is up and I am happy. I love what I do and I am happy to be able to do it at least for the time being! One day at a time!!!!!

Thursday, February 24, 2011


I remember as a child my mom would give my brothers and sister a penny for each Grey hair we pulled out of her head as we watched TV. Getting old in those days was a no-no. Anything old was thrown out, she wasn't one for sentimental items or thoughts.

Our home was filled with old antique furniture because when my mom and dad first were married they lived with my grand parents, everything in the house was from a long lost era. As the years went by she replaced it all with modern things. I am sad to this day!

In my life today I seek the old, the worn, the weathered. I have an affinity for distressed and well worn items with a past, a history only they can tell.

My home is filled with gatherings from my mom's basement, old pots and dishes that were my grandmother's, chipped and cracked burned around the edges, it gives me comfort to be surrounded by history.

Clint and I have started a new hobby. When things are tough here and I need to get out of the house we head to Lancaster and go Antiquing. Browsing really, we wander through these old barns and farmhouses filled to the brim with all things old. We pick up each piece and wonder how it was used. Clint knows about most of the things that hold an interest. He remembers when, as they say.

I started "collecting" things a few years back when old serving pieces held my interest. I would go to any outdoor market where ever we happen to be to see what they had for sale that was interesting. I had a varied collection of silver and silver plate serving utensils and old kitchen gadgets. My home is filled with all the things I love ... I have a church bench for the late 1800's, a carpenter's workbench that Clint completely restored from the early 1800's, my kitchen cabinets are made with all reclaimed wood and the large table n my living room is made from old barn wood and porch posts. I love it all. I am never concerned when my grand kids arrive and start building a fort or playing monster trucks on my tables .. the surface has been well used years before and they can't hurt a thing! makes life easy!

We are all aging, each and every day and as my father says "it's a good thing to get old, look at the alternative!"
So as I get older I want to be surrounded by things that have a past, a story to tell, things well used and cherished. They call it Vintage now, sounds fancy but really it is old and well worn, well used and hopefully well loved.

When you get up in years certain things begin to happen; you care less about what others think, you dress the way you want, say the things you want to say, you become aware of your time on earth and how precious it is, you realize that your health is most important and with out your health life is just a little bit harder.

My father also told me a long time ago that wisdom comes with age. My dad was a voracious reader when I was growing up. He mostly read about the lives of the saints and he would always tell me that wisdom was an attribute I should covet. I often asked how to go about "getting" wisdom and his reply was that it comes with age, it comes with the daily lessons life has to offer.  So I had to wait to have this most important piece of life. I think I am on my way, getting old has a way of doing that. Offering up life's finest and also hardest moments, but I wouldn't trade it for the world, all the little things that seem so important have a way of fading and leaving behind a lesson and a little wisdom.

Add some vintage in your life whether it be a cherished antique, an old book or someone who has lived long enough to teach you something about wisdom and life, it will remind you that we all get old, that we all serve a purpose and that we are not finished serving until we pass from this life we are living.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Early Morning

It is still dark outside, the sky is starting to streak with the colors of early mornings, the birds are tweeting and the promise of a new day is here. I love the early mornings. If I could, I would get up at 5 or even earlier just to enjoy the solitude that these mornings offer. It is a new day, a new beginning, another chance to get it right, to live your life the way you chose.

I start my mornings with candlelight and coffee and a big pad of paper and I write. What do I write? what ever comes to mind. My hopes and dreams, my complaints, my list of things to do in my life. My hope and wish for health and happiness. I write what ever comes out of my head. I just write, not thinking, not bothering to capitalize or make complete sentences. This is not an exercise in English. I don't need to have this corrected. It is just early morning ramblings that allow me to dream and hope and wish and pray.

I think about Italy, I would love to go to Rome to wander the streets and eat Carciofi and drink Espresso.

I think about my garden. Will I plant one this year? what flowers will I put into my garden to make a sanctuary to wander through in the hot days of summer.

I think about what is next for me. What does my future hold? will I have more chemo? an operation? more tests? what is up ahead? do I really want to know? probably not.

I think about writing another cookbook, I think of the stories I have to tell, the dreams I want to share.
This is my quiet time, my time to think and dream, a time to be quiet and let my mind wander, a time to notice what is in my heart.

Make some time today to notice your dreams. Pay attention to your heart. Let your breath lead you to a soft place in your heart, be open to your minds' suggestions, let them lead you to a new day, a new beginning. A day of hope and strength and life. Your life. It is today.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


We were riding home last night from my long infusion day at JEFF. It was rush hour traffic and we were driving down Walnut Street. I had the good fortune not to be driving. Clint does the driving, leaving me the pleasure of checking out the sights out my side window.

There is so much to see as you are driving down a very busy street filled with rush hour traffic, people riding bikes in between the small space between cars, buses sometimes two or three in a row traveling and stopping every block, there are people in the streets and taxis changing lanes with abandon. There is window shopping along the LeBec Fin section of town. My head was swirling with each block that we passed. As we drove further into the neighborhoods I caught a glimpse of something that triggered a thought that gave me an idea for this blog.

As we were stopped for a light I looked to my right and saw several big men lifting a large brown leather sofa up tiny cement steps. They hoisted it up, trying to get it over a railing and all I saw where their large, strong hands, each pair gripping the sofa a different way, strong hands holding and pushing and working together to get the big sofa into a tiny row home doorway. 

It made me think about our hands, how much we use them daily for mundane things such as getting dressed, answering e mails, tying our grand childrens' shoes, making coffee in the morning, scratching an itch, kneading dough for pizza, rolling out gnocchi. I can go on and on but I think you may get my point. It is something we take for granted, going through our daily life without a thought or appreciation for the two most important parts of our body.

I often say in cooking classes that you can have all the fancy equipment the cookware store have to offer but you really have the two most versatile and important tools right at the your fingertips~ YOUR HANDS!!!!

It is something we take for granted, using them all our lives for the most important jobs and also the mundane everyday tasks we perform. Take a minute to look at you hands, do you take care of them? wash then regularly, slather them with cream to keep them soft, stretch out the fingertips, get a manicure or put them together in prayer?

Think about your hands and what they have accomplished through the years. I put my hands together and realize that my right dominant hand is slightly bigger than my left. I am a barber and cut hair for years and so my right thumb is poking out a little more than my left. I sometimes feel pain in my hands, the beginning of arthritis I am sure. I stretch and care for my hands, I appreciate each and every button they touch, every scratch or caress they give, the tousle of a child's hair, the cup of coffee I hold in the morning. My hands are always there for me.

Take a minute to think about your hands and just how important they are to your daily life, care for them and give thanks for them. They make you life what it is today.

Appreciate your body and all that it does for you without a single thought or command sometime, it is
just there for you so care for your body give thanks for all you have. It is truly a gift!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Doing what you Love

Well today is the third night in a row for my Hand's on Valentine's cooking class.

When I was first diagnosed last April, I temporarily stopped all my cooking classes. I wasn't sure how I would feel during my chemo. I made the right decision, cooking classes are a high energy experience for me. I just didn't have that kind of energy.

A few weeks ago I asked the oncologist for a break. I was getting sicker and sicker with these treatments, they told me this was cumulative and they weren't kidding! I needed some of my life back.

My Doctor made the decision to take me off of one of the more powerful drugs. I noticed a difference immediately!

So I decided to start some classes again. I was very excited with the response I received from so many of my clients. the classes filled almost immediately. I was thrilled but also just a little bit nervous... would I feel OK? could I still do this?

It is hard to make plans when you really don't know what to expect but I made up my mind to go with the flow, try to let the energy of the classes carry me through.

I gave myself more time to get ready and I planned my menu. The first set of classes was for Valentine's Day, it is a couple hands on cooking classes. It was so popular it went to 3 nights.  As I prepared for this I was very excited. I realize that I truly LOVE what I do. I couldn't wait for the evening to begin.

It would be the first time many of my clients would see me and I knew it could get emotional very fast. Clint even went out and bought 3 boxes of tissues!!!~ one for every night!!!!

Well we didn't need the tissues because each night so far brought hugs and kisses and warms wishes from everyone. My home was filled with love and laughter and good food! I was in heaven!

We cooked and laughed and had so much fun. The food was delicious and everyone had a great time including me! Tonight is the last night~ I did it three nights in a row of wonderful guests, lots of smiles and laughter and the promise of more cooking experiences to some.

It made me realize, today as I prep for the last class just how much I love what I do. My clients have become like my family to me. I love each and every one. So much love and support has come my way and I really do know that it is the reason I am going through this experience with a positive attitude. I have so much loving support. It keeps me strong and it keeps my life in perspecitvie.

I am living my life now, this moment, with clarity and love.

I will continue to do what I love as it helps me grow and keeps me grounded to what life is really all about.

Take a look at your life now~ what can you change to make it better. Do what you love, and the rest will follow!

I go down to JEFF tomorrow morning for my 10th chemo treatment, I will bring with me all the joy I have gotten these past three night of classes. It will make me strong. It will give me light and happiness and I can make plans for more cooking classes. I hope to see you in a class. You will learn some new recipes and have fun but most of all you will come away with a desire to LIVE, LAUGH , AND COOK!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Country Western Songs

At times I feel like I live in a Country Western Song!

If I am ever feeling down in the dumps and think that the world is not treating me right I turn on a country station and just listen to those words of woe.

"Suds in the bucket and clothes left out on the line"... "Momma left us when we were two"... "Trash man didn't show up and I was laid off".... "Goin' out to get a big mac"..."My girlfriend left me for another man"... oh woe is me!!!
The words are just so funny and there is always a tale of sorrow or distress or just plain feelin' down!

Well last week we had water in the basement... the hot water heater broke... got it fixed and last night our heater went ... more water in the basement... getting it fixed tomorrow morning ... no heat this cold cold night. Thank goodness for a electric blanket!!!!!!... today the toaster oven (only months old) broke

If I was a pessimistic person I would be waiting for my roof to cave in!

Clint says to me "What else can go wrong?"

I immediately tell him to cancel that thought.
You know why??? so so much more can go wrong it's not even funny... cancel-cancel that thought. Enough already!!!!

So for the next few days I will be listening to my favorite country station just to have some perspective!!!!!!
I am piling on those blankets!!!!!!!!Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


Think about the people you have in your life, the friends and family that surround you, your co-workers, your neighbors. The people you see everyday and don't even think about. All of these people are contributing to your life as you know it.

You are surrounded by who you chose.

I always say that if there is someone in your life that drives you crazy, or makes you feel less than you are, someone who is draining on you, someone that doesn't make you feel good~ SEPARATE yourself from them!!!!! I know this is hard to do sometimes but it is necessary for your mental health!!

We all have these characters in our lives, some may be family members, the people that drive you crazy~  critical, always drama, always negative, always just a little bit nuts! I have plenty of these people in my family and in my life and I think you may too!

I have come to realize that much of what we do, how we think, how we act is influenced by the people who we surround ourselves with. Over the years I have come to know so many people.  Some helpful and caring and wonderful and some just can drive me crazy (family for the most part). I have a big dining table in every room in my house so that when we have family gatherings there is always somewhere to escape to!!!!

Life is full of adventure and I want my adventures to be full of laughter and love and good times. I stay away from TV except American Pickers~ I love that show! I try to keep negativity out of my life as much as possible.

I am finding that I am surrounded by wonderful, caring, good people. Someone to look up to, someone to aspire to, some are mentors and some are teachers. I am an open book for learning. I love to take an idea and try to make it work in my life.  I love the power of suggestion. I love to turn things into a positive experience as much as I can.

My friendships have grown over the past 10 months, people who were clients have become my comrades in arms, fighting this fight with me daily! I connected with so many new and old friends. I take the time to talk, to share, to embrace them as they embrace me during this sometime difficult time.
I realize how important they are in my life. How caring and giving and praying can help.

I have shared  breakfast and lunch and dinner with them. I open my door to receive cookies and cakes and soup and hot dinners. Flowers, cards, gifts some from people I haven't seen or heard from in ages. My family from across the ocean, in Italy. My cousins who send me e mails all in Italian( thank God for Translators on the computer!!) This is such a great gift, one I am so thankful for. One I treasure and this gift is one I will continue to give myself because I see the importance of people in my life!

Look around you at the people who are in your life, give thanks for the support and caring and just the everyday stuff like a wave from a neighbor, a smile to the checkout girl (I was one of those once!) .
When you see a grumpy or grouchy person, take a minute to realize you may not know what is going on in their life, and send them white light and love. It will come back to you when you need it most.

Know that you are not alone in this life. That you can make a difference with just a smile.

A smile is free and you can do it any time of the day so smile and it will make you and someone else happy!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

A Few Lessons

I am living with this disease called CANCER. It is with me every waking hour and in my dreams at night. No matter what I try to do to love each day simply and without worry, the idea, the thought, the presence of this disease is felt every day.

I try to look at the positive. I try to strive to enjoy each day. Most times I am successful but there are times when no amount of positive thinking will take this away.

As with everything in my life I try to see what I can learn from this experience. I am not sure if this ever happened to you, I think it may have. You are driving along in your car, not in any particular hurry and you get behind someone so slow, you could probably get out of the car and walk to where you are going faster then being behind this slow driver. When this happens to me I ask myself" What am I suppose learn from this?" Take my time, go slower, look around me, don't be so in a rush for life to pass me by?

I look for the lesson, I look at what can be a frustrating experience and try to make it pleasant, or at least take something way from it that will help me not make me more crazy or mad or stressed out.

So I am looking at this journey I am on. Certainly not one I would pick as as a lesson, but here I am non- the-less. What am I learning? what is this teaching me? if I can keep my ears, eyes, and heart open I am sure to come out of this with some important life lessons.

Here is a little bit of what I learned along the way these past 10 months.

~It is OK to feel bad on any given day for no reason
~My family will support and surround me with love~ always
~Each day is a gift, one to use as I chose
~I love the sound of laughter
~I am surrounded by so many wonderful people
~I learned that people pray
~I have a wonderful and supportive son-in law and daughter in-law
~My body is resilient
~To breath
~To relax
~To stay calm
~Sunshine is important
~Tears are OK
~Strength is in the little things
~A smile can change my mood
~I am stronger than I thought
~I love my cooking classes
~Hugs from my grandsons can heal my heart
~I need to balance the drugs with something gentle like massage and meditaiton
~Quiet time is essential
~My children are special and support me with unconditional love
~I have created what I now have in my life
~My husband is a rock on which I can lean on at any time
~I feel the love of my clients and friends~EVERYDAY!
~This is just part of my life... more to come
~I will be stronger because of this journey
~People are so kind, thoughtful & generous

The most important thing I have learned so far is that I am not alone, I am surrounded by love and support and encouragement. These are the things that get me through the hard days, the days when the tears come for no apparent reason. The days when I feel alone and scared, when I let myself think of what exactly it is I am going through. The days of fear. They are not the norm, most times I am doing just fine but every once in a while I will wake up sad, confused and scared and these life lessons get me through that time.

So many of you have told me that you are following this blog and that it is uplifting, I am so very happy about that. I love to write and it is what get me through these confusing and difficult times. It is a barometer for my hopes and dreams. It is what I go back to, it allows me to see a pattern, this course I am on. It allows me to see my strengths and know I can do this and it is a temporary part of my life.

I am so very thankful for everyone that is on this journey with me, to keep me company and let me know they are cheering for me and that I am not alone.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Getting the "JUICE"

Tomorrow is the DAY~the day for my infusion, the day I head down to JEFF to get the "JUICE".

I stole this term from my friend Fran. She always brings me a big container of delicious homemade soup the week I get the "JUICE" as she calls it.

I like that term, sounds better than drugs. When I get infused I always feel like I am glowing with an neon cast to my skin. I feel like I am emitting a unnatural like light from within my body from all the drugs they pumped into my veins! (Probably true!)

As I sit here thinking about my day tomorrow and not looking forward to it. I really can't help that feeling. I don't want to say I go kicking and screaming but I would kick and scream if Clint would let me!

I am just starting to feel good, feel like my old self. My sleeping patterns have returned to normal. I can wake up in the morning without a headache or runny nose or the runs or cold hands and feet or nausea. I am just starting to feel normal and here I go ~ back to get more "JUICE". You can see why I feel reluctant to head downtown.

It seems the weather is not cooperating this winter. I slipped and slided down last time and tomorrow doesn't look any more promising. Although I tell Clint I am NOT driving down in an ice storm, he ignores me, rightly so, because I would make any excuse I can not to go! He does have my best interest at heart, he knows this is for my own good, he knows and agrees with me  and says he doesn't blame me for not wanting to go but he is right~ I need to go.. just to get it over with if nothing else!

My day starts early. I try to get up with enough time for me to sit in my VOODOO room to write, stretch, mediate and prepare myself for Chemo if that is at all possible. I have my coffee, shower and pack my Chemo bag. I fill it with a good book, fuzzy socks, a magazine and a pad of paper to write on and a few candy bars! It also holds my overflowing big yellow folder with all my tests, notes and info on my disease. This is the folder where all my vital and not so vital signs are recorded and kept,
It is as fat as the Webster's Dictionary.

We leave the house around 7AM to fight the morning rush-hour traffic headed into town. We take Chestnut street. The two lane, one way street that empties into downtown Philadelphia.

The ride is mostly pleasant because instead of checking my phone or staring straight ahead, I look at the old churches and buildings that line this once elegant & beautiful street. It is now filled with convenience stores, fast food places and dollar stores. I have learned that to see beauty I must look up, above the first floors where the arches and stone balconies and carved gargoyles reside.

The beauty that was once Chestnut street lives above the first floor. The ride down is filled with old churches, their stones dusty and dirty from decades of living. We ride through Drexel University, through Penn campus, down into center city, where CVS and restaurants have taken over the once elegant buildings.

I look up, above the fast food stores to the carved niches and beautiful stonework of these old building. It holds my attention and keeps my mind off of the day ahead.

I plan someday to take a picture tour of these beautiful buildings when we can take a leisurely ride instead of trying to meet an appointment time!

As we come to 12th street the scenery changes to JEFF. I swear they own most of the building in a 5 block radius! We park in a lot, sometimes going up to the 7th floor to find a empty spot.

We walk to the Cancer center, up to the 2nd floor, the infusion floor, to access my port and get my labs done. In the course of this day I will be weighed and my blood pressure, temperature and vital signs will be taken and recorded up to 6 times!!!! I am assigned a chemo nurse, usually the same sweet girl. She is both caring and efficient, looking after me throughout the day with tender loving care. She is the one who comes and hangs the bags of chemo, one drug at a time.

I then go up to the 4th floor for sometime a very long wait to see my oncologist. I can't complain about the waiting time because when he does finally come into the room, he closes the door and is not rushed in the least bit. He takes his time answering my questions, checking my vitals, again, asking about my symptoms and always trying to find something that will make this journey through chemo more pleasant. Back down to the second floor for infusion.

And so I sit, sometimes for 5 or 6 hours as these drugs drip into my veins. The room is filled with the beeping of machines, the noise of TV's and conversation. Some sleep (Clint always finds time for a snooze) but I am not one of them, too busy and noisy and crowded with sometime 50 or 60 people in this one room! I come home with a pump that injects another drug into my port in the course of two days.

We leave late ~around rush hour again and once again I look up as we travel down Walnut street to get home.The buildings keep me entertained as we head home and I get in bed.

Another week, JUICED UP!!!!! Send me light and love tomorrow!!! get me through the juice!