Tuesday, May 24, 2011


We do so much without thinking about it, breathing, swallowing, walking, bending, digesting. Our blood circulating through our bodies, healing a scratch, pumping our hearts.

Our body takes care of business. We are not consciously aware of so many of it's jobs. We go on during the day not thinking about any of this, just expecting it to happen.

When you get sick, then you realize just how much your body does for you, when something is taken away from you or a change occurs then we realize just how important and precious it was.

I am amazed at my body, truly astonished really.

For the past year or so it's been beaten down and torn apart by drugs, chemo, in a fierce fight against this Cancer.
I lost my sense of taste, my fingertips and feet were numb, I had severe agita, a runny nose forever, sleepless nights, aches and pains that came out of no where. I thought I would never feel like myself again.

Where did my energy and strength go? Would I ever feel like myself again?
These thoughts were ever present and when I did go off the chemo a few weeks ago, I was still feeling the side effects.

Ever so slowly my body is coming to the surface, I am standing up straighter, I have more energy, I can taste again~Thank goodness! I am coming back to me. My body amazes me. I give thanks everyday for this wondrous miracle. The fact that my body is healing, slowly mending, getting stronger everyday. We so often take our bodies for granted, we go on with our daily life not thinking about what is going on inside of us.

Take time each and everyday to say Thank you... for the body you live in, for the care it gives you, for the life and energy it radiates.

As I lay my head on the pillow at night, I start with my feet, they hold me up everyday, carry this weight, walk the walk, I go up my body, recognizing each and every part, giving thanks for all the work my body does without a conscious thought from me.

Take care of your self. Drink lots of water, stretch, lay down flat and be still for a short time each day. Acknowledge the wonder that you are living in. Take care of your body. Treat it with love and respect. Realize that it is there for you each and every minute. Be grateful.

We have so much in our lives already. Sometimes we look for material things to make us happy but the happiness lies within. Take a look around you, pause in your day, in your multitude of tasks and to-do lists, look around you and be grateful for what you see, what you have, it is a much better way to live. Your life is yours to make it the best you can, you have the options, you have the ability to see things in a grateful light.

Be conscious and thankful each and everyday for what you have, acknowledge your body and all it does for you!

Take care of YOU!!!!!

Thursday, May 19, 2011


Affectionately nicknamed my VOODOO ROOM by Clint, it is the smallest of the three bedrooms and was my daughter's room as a little girl.

My home is filled to the brim with collections of pottery, pictures, dishes, glassware, and knick-knacks, this was the room where we put everything that didn't have a place. This was a room that had a collection of anything that we needed to hide in a hurry or get out of the way~open the door, shove it in, close the door. A catch-all for all things: winter coats, summer cloths, toys, boxes, books.

I made it my mission over the years to revamp this room and call it my own. It took a while and my motto is little by little, so I slowly took my time, cleared it out except for the precious, well loved cookbooks, novels, one desk instead of three, my computer and a fountain, a rocking chair and all my books and tapes (and there are many) on Italy, some plants and candles, and a jar of spice drops (my favorite candy)and a basket with all the cards people have sent me this past year.
I created a space where I could go to relax, to think, to unwind, to write, to read, to meditate, to stretch, to work, to cry and to find peace.

When I walk into this room and close the door I can feel my shoulders drop, my mood lift and my heart calm.

I am surrounded by all of the things I love, I have a picture that was hanging in my Grandfather's bedroom, of St. Anthony of Padua, I have a old photo of me at one year old, completely bald except for a bow taped on my head. I put that in my room to help me come to terms with losing my hair during chemo. This room is not crowded, it has space and light and plain white walls, freshly painted. It is comfortable and welcoming. It is my space and I love it.

Everyone needs their own SPACE, whether it is a chair or a room or even a corner of a room you need to have a place to go to unwind, to relax, to think.
A place that you feel stress free, a place where no one will bother you. It is important to create this in your life. A mini get away. A sanctuary. It will give you peace of mind and heart.

No matter how jam packed your home is~find a spot, somewhere you love, someplace to gravitate towards. Someplace you can call your own. you deserve it!!!!!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Tiny Treasures

All of us wish for things in life. Sometimes it is a small wish and sometimes we want to win the lottery. We go through our lives wishing for things to be better, setting goals and hoping opportunities drop in our laps. Looking for the next big thing.

I think our lives are filled with treasures, tiny treasures that we sometimes miss because we are too busy with the everyday living and stress.
These tiny treasures go unnoticed, unappreciated, not on purpose but because we don't make the time to acknowledge them and be grateful.

To live in the moment is to appreciate all the little surprises that come our way. I am talking about the tiny stuff that makes up our day.

Opening your eyes to the soft rain outside, to the brightening of a new day, to start all over again each day, a new chance to make things better, to realize how lucky you really are with what you do have in your life.

I try to be conscious and aware from the minute I open my eyes in the morning, my head on my favorite pillow, my fuzzy slippers as I make my way downstairs, a good stretch, a cup of strong coffee, my candle light and my early morning writing allow me to be aware that I am blessed.  That I have the gift of this day to be happy, to laugh, to share, to accomplish what I need to, I am grateful for all the treasures that come my way.

A good morning smile from my husband, the chance to talk to or visit with my parents who live only a block away, the laughter of my grand kids, the view outside my Voodoo room window, filled with the signs of Spring, the flowers on my porch and the herbs planed in a big pot on my back step. The promise of summer is looming ahead and I can't wait for the fresh ears of corn dripping with butter and the smoky flavor of food on the grill.

We are so blessed each and every day with all the little things that make up our daily life.
We just need to notice, to appreciate all the tiny treasures that we have in our daily lives and be grateful.
It is a much better way to live my life, to feel that I am where I am suppose to be and that everything will be all right.
Know that you are where you are suppose to be and that you are the Captain of your ship, your life. It is a choice to be happy and content, to enjoy and appreciate life's little treasures.

I wish you peace and happiness and joy today.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Singing in the Rain

We drove down to Jeff amidst the raindrops and with a tenseness in my body.

I knew what I wanted to hear but I wasn't at all sure what the doctor would tell me.

I was on a Merry-Go round of doctors appointments, one after another telling me what they thought I should do, what they all recommended was surgery even though they all did say that the chemo did a dramatic job and they were not even sure what was coming up in the PT scan was Cancer or scars from where the Cancer was or the effects from the radiation I had.

This decision was a difficult one for me. I kept going back and forth~get it over with, go for the operations now and be done with it and the next minute I was thinking NO I don't want to do this now.
I am just starting to feel good, like myself, with some energy, some ambition, some hope.
I didn't want to be down for the count for another year!

We got down there early despite a lot of traffic and rain. We were seen immediately~funny how I take that as a good sign! I barely signed in when my name was called. The doctor came in minutes after we were led to the room. He told me I looked great, when I said I was shying away from the surgeries, he agreed with me "I don't blame you" he said! well at least we were on the same page as they say!

I told him that I talked to the oncologist and the colon surgeon and that I wanted to wait for surgery. I could not justify going in for one maybe two major operations when there was little evidence that the Cancer was alive and well.
Did he want to do the liver now? I asked. "No, it can wait too. What you have and what I see on the scans is so small it might not even be Cancer". There is one spot that is on the surface of my liver, he feels that it can wait until July when I get my next set of scans and blood work. Also that he can go in and burn it or scrape it out, a minor operation compared to taking out half of my liver!!! tops 3 or 4 days in the hospital. He also gave me hope that this may all just go away. You never know he said.

I almost danced out of that examining room. What good news!

Now I am not stupid or naive, I know that I will be tested regularly and anything can happen but I have high hopes for me and I can make my plans and live my life NOW.
I am feeling good and I am thinking positive. I have hope and a new sense of optimism.

That song" You don't know what you got till it's gone" is going through my head. I got through this past year, it was not easy but I did it! it gave me a realization of what is important in life.
It changed my outlook and my reactions to everyday nuisances.  It made me realize that in this life, each and every day is so important, important to be calm, to be peaceful, to be kind, to appreciate everything and everyone I have in my life, to make time to enjoy the little things, like a flower blooming, birds singing, a quiet breeze, I know this may all sound corny but life would not be the same without those simple pleasures. Things we take for granted. Time with our family, laughter, good food, a good nights' sleep.
I want to enjoy and appreciate all those little good things that I have in my life. I am thankful everyday for what I have, I try not to think about what I don't have or the things I think I might want. I have every thing I need, all within me to live and appreciate and to make a difference in this life.

So today  I am Singing in the Rain!!!!!

Saturday, May 14, 2011


 This is the blog I started a few days ago......

I've been a little out of sorts this week. Although it has been beautiful outside, with Spring popping out all over, and in spite of keeping myself extremely busy I am down in the dumps. There is not any one thing that is causing this unless you can count the CANCER.

I have been off chemo for almost 6 weeks now and I am still feeling the side effects. Some days, especially at night time when I am tired, I just want this to be OVER. I want to be cured. This is not a word you use in the same sentence as Cancer. The doctors tell me that instead of focusing on a cure they are telling me that I will live with Cancer.

I guess LIVE is the important word here.

This does not go away, it is with me as I fall asleep and when I wake up. No matter how busy I am or keep myself immersed in activities there is always a little voice inside my head that screams CANCER.

Maybe this is why I am so grumpy lately, out of sorts, not my happy self.

I made up my mind a few weeks ago to just live my life like I don't have this dreaded disease. I want to make plans for the future and do what I love doing~teaching classes, planning culinary tours, living my life now.

I did not finish it because I felt it was too negative .... I'll start again..

I've been struggling with my thoughts and feelings lately and I want to change my mind-set to a more positive one.
I am so intent on keeping busy so I don't have to think about what is next but I realize now that the strategy does not work. I was tired and therefore not getting up early in the mornings, so all the thoughts that I usually put on paper were whirling around in my head with no room for good stuff.

I sat quietly these past few days and tried to regain my hope, my strength, my lust for life.

When we are silent, and our mind is not racing with a million thoughts we make room for the little voice inside our heads that speaks to us from our soul.

That is the voice I need to listen to.

I need to make this experience I am going through a positive one. I need to turn my thoughts to the up side of life. I can't change or predict the path this disease will take but I can control my reactions and feelings and that is exactly what I am trying to do on a daily basis.
Not always easy but I just need to remind myself that this is my life I am living, sick or not. I want to enjoy it and make it the best I can.

I see the liver surgeon on Tuesday and I will finalize my decisions then. I have to do what is right for me, I have been very aggressive with my treatments, doing what the doctors told me is best but at this point I need to believe in my strength and in my body.

I want to go on and make plans, do the work I love to do, enjoy my husband, grandchildren, my family, my friends. I want my life to continue and be full. This is up to me.

So I will take a deep breath, and I will make time to be silent, to listen to my body, to that little voice in my heart that knows what is good for me.
I will notice what makes me happy and follow that path.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Mud Sales

It was a chilly Spring morning and we had plans for an new adventure. We were babysitting and needed to find an interesting place to go.
I had our boots lined up, packed some water and a pack of Ritz crackers and off we went.
With a map in hand and Tina's two boys Christopher and Brandon, we headed to Lancaster for our first ever "Mud Sale"

Sometime last year I read about Mud Sales held in the Springtime in Lancaster. These sales were an all day affair beginning around 8:30 AM. They are held each Saturday at a different location and sponsored by the local fire companies.

We traveled the back roads to Lancaster, it was a beautiful ride through the rolling hills and farmland. The horizon was dotted with silos and cows grazing. The kids called out every time they saw animals, shouting, cows! horses! chickens!  They love being in the country.

As we arrived we saw hundreds of cars parked on the shoulder and people walking along the country roads. We followed the crowds, and crowds there were.  A sea of straw hats greeted us as we made our way towards the action, we had our boots on and we walked along past the buses picking up the locals from out of the way parking lots, past little Amish boys pulling wagons filled with antiques, past the farm house and around the buggies that dot the countryside.

As we crossed the bridge and gazed below we were amazed at the sight!

The fields were full of Amish men, women and children. There were tents housing small auctions, flat farm wagons with men standing and auctioning off small farm equipment, there was a coral surrounded by hundreds of people, in the center was a ring~ horses were being led around and around as an auctioneer called out prices in a loud melodious sing-song voice. These horses were magnificent, some fully dressed in tack, chrome gleaming in the mid morning sun, they looked like they just stepped out of a Budweiser commercial, others were small ponies going for as low as $50!!!

We walked further in the very muddy field and came upon a row of at least 100 buggies, some new, others gently used, all for sale.
There were tents housing small auctions~furniture, quilts, lumber, antiques, farm equipment, lawn mowers, clothes, birdhouses, antique toys. My head was on a swivel!!!!

There was food, wonderful, simple Lancaster county farm fare. There was a milk wagon serving fresh milk, chocolate milk, raw milk. Anything you can imagine was for sale.

This colorful scene was one I won't forget. Our boots covered in mud we walked among the Amish and Mennonite, smiling broadly at everyone we saw.
We can't wait to go to another mud sale, it was so much fun and so very interesting!
The kids were tired and hungry so we headed to their favorite place! Shady Maple for a smorgasbord fit for a king! I bought them Amish Straw hats and they were Amish for a day!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


I woke up early to get ready. Clint left to pick up our 15 passenger van and I set out some small danish, fresh fruit and mimosas to nibble on while we awaited our shopping group.

This is my 7th year doing this and it is such a fun day.

My idea of Shopping with Susan came to me as I teach my cooking classes. Everyone is always so interested in where I do my marketing. I thought WOW what a great idea! I can take everyone with me to all the family run businesses I frequent and show them how wonderful and fresh and easy it is to cook with local ingredients from businesses who care about and know what they sell.

I patronize family run businesses because there are becoming a thing of the past. My saddest day was when I walked through a big store that sells clothes, appliances and ground meat!!! It makes me so sad. I know sometimes it is more convenient to shop at one big store but who do you ask for a recipe? who tells you how to prepare what you are buying and give you ideas on different ways to use it?
It is the personal touch that is missing.

We talk with the shop owners, sample their products, get ideas on cooking with the foods we buy and then finish with a wonderful, casual lunch before we head back home. It is a fun, laughter filled experience and one that you will always remember. These are places you will come back to again and again.