Why I Stride

Since today is World Pancreatic Cancer Awareness day, I thought I’d write about why I stride.  Stride of course refers to Pancreatic Cancer Action Network’s annual 5k called Purple Stride.  This Sunday, as we’ve done since 2015, Team Deb Force Five will be off to the races at the Broward-Palm Beach Purple Stride.  While it will be my first as part of the event team, it will also be our second Purple Stride without Debbie, which brings me to why I stride.

I remember the day clearly.  I had travelled with work to Orlando to present for the first time as part of our Military Roadshow. It was a pretty big deal and I was super excited.  We were driving up as a group and heading back that evening.  The presentation went swimmingly, so I spent my afternoon getting caught up on work.   And then my husband called, hysterical..   I was convinced something had happened to one of our kiddos.  When he finally calmed down, he told me the devastating news that Debbie had been diagnosed with stage iv cancer.  Instantly, my knees went week and I started to slide down the wall as I too started to cry.   At that point, the origin of the cancer was unknown, but the prognosis was dire.

At the time of her diagnosis Debbie was 40 years old.  She wasn’t a smoker, she ate exceedingly healthy and was an avid runner.  She didn’t fit the profile for a pancreatic cancer patient, but I think that’s the message.   According to a a recent study, pancreatic cancer will be the 2nd deadliest cancer by 2020.  Lung cancer is projected to remain the deadliest cancer.  While other cancers have seen a decrease in mortality rates, pancreatic cancer has not.  Researchers pointed to a combination of factors as to why mortality rates for pancreatic cancer have not declined.   Risk factors including an aging population, the relative growth of high-risk minority populations (African Americans and Ashkenazi Jews) and the underfunding of pancreatic cancer research.

Debbie was committed to finding a cure and research for better patient outcomes.  She was an avid supporter of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network and the work they do to drive pancreatic cancer research.  Unfortunately, this can’t be done without money.   Pancreatic cancer patients and their families, like Debbie and her family, deserve better outcomes.  They deserve a survival rate well over 9%.

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We lost Debbie almost two years ago, but some days it feels like it was yesterday while others it feels like it’s been years.   Even still Goalielocks asks why they couldn’t do more for her.  I stride because I’m committed to ensuring that pancreatic cancer patients and their families have better outcomes.  I’m committed to helping drive research forward.  This disease has stolen so much from so many.  It certainly has from me.

You can support PanCan and Team Deb Force Five in Debbie’s honor: http://support.pancan.org/site/TR/PurpleStride/PurpleStride?team_id=14831&pg=team&fr_id=1573

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Back to Back

Wow, it feels like forever since I’ve actually had the time to post on back to back days.  We had a busy day of hockey and hockey related activities.  The morning started with the Mayor’s team fundraising at a Publix in Coconut Creek.  Thanks to the store’s generous patrons, his squad raised over $800.  Fortunately, he and the hubby were back in time to leave right way for Goalielock’s games.

Goalielock’s and his squad split the day dropping the first contest to the Hawks, but winning their second against the Toros.  I had a blast in the box with Tonya and DB during the first game.  Reunited and it felt so good!  Unfortunately, during he warmups for game two Goalielock’s left leg slid out on him and he pulled his groin.  Long story short, I walked out to hit the restroom pre-game and when I came back he was on the bench in a different jersey.  It only took me almost the entire first period to figure it out.  Needless to say, Goalielocks has been on solid regimen of ice for 20 and heat for 20 since he got home.

I’ve gotta give a shout to fellow hockey mom D. Green for the amazing ribbon she gave me.  I freaking love it.  It makes me wonder how the crafty gene skipped me entirely.  Truly, I have not one crafty bone in my body.  When I try to be crafty, it ends up looking like something you’d see on Netflix’s Nailed It. (love that show!) Nonetheless, since I don’t possess that skillset at all, I’m in awe of those who do it so well.

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Between Goalielock’s game, the Mayor had a four hour clinic.  We sent Goalielock’s to John’s house with the team, while we drove to Palm Beach to drop him off.   After dropping him off, we headed over to meet the team for some grub.  As for my Mayor, he’s completely exhausted after the craziness of his day.   It’s not often that he puts himself to bed this early!  Speaking of which, it’s time for me to head off  to practice my Swedish, read a bit and head to bed.

P.S.  Don’t forget to join Team Deb Force Five!

Exploring The World

There’s nothing I enjoy more than exploring the world with my family and friends.  Last month, we were in the Bahamas for a fun and relaxing trip with family.  This weekend the Hubby is headed West for an adult hockey tournament with Goalielocks, while the Mayor will head to Epcot with school.  Jake will be working, which means I’ll have an entire Saturday to myself!  (Say what!?!?!)  If I didn’t have all these blisters on my feet from starting to run again, I’d probably go get a long over due pedicure.  I’m just a little concerned about picking up an infection with the blisters, so I’ll probably go shoe shopping instead.

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Before I get to my super Saturday, I have a 5K on Thursday night.  It’s all about the preparation with these races, which means I’m facing an uphill battle.   I’ve trained pretty steadily for the past two weeks, but it isn’t going to be sufficient to yield favorable results.  My goal is to get back under 30 minutes, but I don’t think this will be that race.  Nevertheless, it feels great to be running again.  To be clear, it feels good after I’m done running not while I’m running.

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Next weekend I’m headed to the islands for a well deserved momcation.  I can’t wait to be on a beautiful island with incredible women and incredible beaches.  Its been a hell of a first quarter and this is the perfect way to recharge my battery for the second quarter.   Honestly, I cannot wait to disconnect for a few days while in the company of great people.   Plus, you cannot beat the beaches in Turks and Caicos!

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One of my goals has always been to travel more and see different places.  The trips don’t have to be long, but just enough to get away for a bit and explore a new city.  Consequently, I’ve been thinking that for the boys’ birthdays, it would be better to take them on a weekend getaway than buy them something.   I love the idea of shared experiences over material goods.  I’ll let you know how that goes.  Lastly, Goalielocks hit the ice for the first time in earnest since his injury almost two months ago!

Difficult Day

It was a difficult day.  Sadly, today marks the year anniversary of Debbie’s passing.  I’ve written before about how grief alters how we experience time.  Truly, time is on a weird continuum when you’re dealing with grief and loss.  It feels like both a day ago and a decade ago since Debbie left us.  I remember waking up the morning after she had passed and thinking how cruel it was that the world kept going as if nothing had happened.  Meanwhile, for all of us that loved Debbie and held her dear, our world was completely devastated.  I sat in my car lamenting this fact when a beautiful cardinal flew next to my car window, stayed there for a bit and then quickly flew off.  It was an amazing moment.

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Grief is an interesting animal itself.  Its sneaks up on you and catches you unexpectedly.   Today brought back a flood of memories both good and bad.  I was at work when I first heard she was going into hospice.  My amazing friends and co-workers comforted and supported me.  Moreover, I was reminded of how much we all miss her.  Needless to say, it wasn’t an easy day.

As I ruminated over my day (typical Monday) and our dear friend Debbie, I quickly realized how lucky I am to be aggravated by inane emails or missed meetings.  At the end of the day, life is a gift that some times includes more than your average dose of aggravation.  The truth is without life’s lows or aggravations we wouldn’t fully appreciate life’s highs and truly happy moments.  So today, in the face of aggravation and insipidness, I chose to live like Debbie.  In fact, I even got in a nice run tonight.  She’d definitely be quite proud of me for continuing to run and not giving it up after the ankle injury.   Life may give us lemons, but that’s nothing some ice cubes, Grey Goose and sugar can’t solve.  #carpediem

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Debbie was diagnosed in 2015 with Stage IV pancreatic cancer after ending up in an ER with severe back pain.  The 5 year survival rate for this diagnosis is 1%, which is unacceptable.  Even in the midst of her battle against this disease, Debbie stood as a beacon of hope.  In fact, she served as the key note speaker at the 2016 Purple Stride Event in Boca Raton.  In her honor, please consider donating to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.  No family should have to endure the pain of losing their loved one to this insidious disease.  You can donate here: Pancreatic Action Network

Another Day In Paradise

Another day in paradise, here in the Bahamas. I started my day with a grueling run along the beach. To be clear, it was grueling since it was my first run since November. The scenery, however, more than made up for the difficulty of the run. Truly, it felt great to be able to run against. Although I have serious work to do before running in the Corporate Run.

After an awesome breakfast, we headed over to the cabana to setup shop. It’s a lot easier navigating this place when you have a singular meeting point for the entire day. Not too mention ample seating and areas out of the sun.

After getting setup at the cabana, A, the Mayor and myself headed to the lagoon to snorkel. I don’t know what the current water temperature is only that it is far too cold to be swimming it. It took me a long time to get acclimated to the water. Once I did, however, the snorkeling was fun and we saw a lot of fish.

After awhile we tired of the lagoon and headed for the beach. The beach is absolutely stunning, but there are street vendors on the beach that are a bit obnoxious. I have no patience for them. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a ton of fish in close to the beach and the jet skis were already all over the place. While there is reef off of the beach it’s a little too far from shore and too close to where the novice jet skiers are riding.

The rest of our day was filled with sun, sand and water. I enjoyed the rapids ride with H. We had a blast in our double tube. Meanwhile, the boys were all over the the place having a great time. We finally headed back to the room around 5:00, so I could get ready for an adults only dinner. Don’t worry the kids got fed! Moreover, I’m pretty sure they enjoyed their Dominoes as much as we enjoyed Nobu.

Nobu was fantastic albeit the last fish was slow to come out. I had left early since Goalielocks was needing to go lay down in our room due to a headache. J ordered the food for all of us and I’m so glad she did. I tried dishes tonight that I never would have tried if she hadn’t ordered them. All of the dishes were absolutely fantastic. I left full and satisfied, but not stuffed.

After a brief and very unsuccessful run in the casino tonight, I’m ready for bed. We have another action packed day on tap, so I’ll definitely need my beauty sleep! Good night all!

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Calmer Evening

It’s been a calmer evening in the household after all the noise and frustration of last night. I spoke with the Assistant Principal of the boys school and feel comfortable with our plan for Goalielocks as he recovers. Also spoke to one of the Mayor’s teachers after discovering the Mayor had spelled the teacher’s email address wrong all semester. No wonder he had 0 points for his article assignments! He’s busy fixing them tonight.

Today was also tough because it’s our dear Debbie’s birthday. It’s a tough milestone for many of us.  I still found myself getting choked up periodically throughout the day despite my hectic schedule. It’s been nearly a year since we lost her. Ironically, it feels like it was both seconds ago and decades ago. Time is on a weird continuum when you’re dealing with grief and loss.

We also lost a giant today with the death of Stephen Hawking. I could write for days about this brilliant mind, but that’s not his most impressive feature. Both Hawking and Debbie were given devastating, terminal diagnosis when they were far too young. While a lot of people would buckle under the diagnosis, neither of them did. Amazingly, they both choose to live to the fullest as they faced their own mortality.

When I write or say Live Like Debbie. I really mean it and I try to live it. What I mean by that is I’m trying to live my life differently by living to the fullest and treating people differently. (Not that I was some kind of asshole before or something.) Specially, my goal is to brighten people’s dY, to be helpful, to inspire and to leave people better off than when I met them. It doesn’t have to be something big, it could be a smile or a good morning while you’re waiting in line for coffee.

I miss my friend very much. It’s tough to lose a friend who is in the prime of their life. It’s tough to lose someone you love. Moreover, it’s tough to see people you love experience such a profound loss. It’s tough to explain and square how something like this happens to someone so young and vibrant. The thing is there’s really no explanation, which leads to one simple fact. Life is too short to get caught up in the small stuff, so my friends Live Like Debbie.

In honor of Debbie’s birthday, please consider donating to the Pancreatic Action Network in her honor. Pancreatic Action Network

Tonight’s song performed by the Offspring is “Gone Away.”  The lyrics of this song are absolutely on point.

Sunday Funday

After months of endless hockey weekends, it was a Sunday funday for us down in Fort Lauderdale. We started our day off with a mimosa filled breakfast at the Pelican Grand. It was absolutely delicious and you couldn’t find a better view if you tried. We had several mimosas and killed a bottle of prosecco.

Post breakfast the kids headed to the beach and we polished off the wine and paid the bill. The Pelican Grand has an awesome veranda with super nice chairs where you can face the ocean and continue to drink. After breakfast, I switched to water since my stomach is still not super fantastic. The view is absolutely incredible.

One of my friends lives near the Pelican Grand, so she decides to walk over with her puppy. In anticipation of meeting WL, I headed down to the beach to see what he kids were doing. Fortunately, there were no rip currents at our beach and good waves for the kids to play in. Frankly, the water is too cold to swim in, but I might be spoiled.

Goalielocks and I started to meander down the beach in anticipation of meeting up with WL & E. I should say that the weather was absolutely amazing today. We met up with WL & E, which was fun. My boys loved meeting both of them, but especially that precious puppy E.

Afterwards we headed back to the resort, I went back to my seat while the kids headed to the lazy river. The resort has a great pool and lazy river. All of our kids, had a blast in the lazy river while we hung out on the veranda. Honestly, it was the perfect way to spend first Sunday after hockey season.

We finished out our day in Lauderdale by heading back to the marina, so the kids could fish. Unfortunately, there was no bait. This didn’t, however, stop the boys. They started catching their own bait, cutting it up and rigging their poles. We watched from the comfort of RL’s awesome sailboat. Now we’re back home, a bit burnt, and tired, but feeling relaxed and happy after a wonderful day.

Made It Home

We made it home from Boston and I couldn’t be more grateful. Yesterday it looked like we were going to be in Bean Town thru Thursday! If I’m being honest, even though I was stoked he was cleared to fly, I was still very nervous.

This anxiety of course carried into both flights, but the first one especially. I could see him wincing in pain as we took off from Boston. At that point, he finally acquiesced and took a Tylenol. Meanwhile, I was a mess the whole flight.

I’m incredibly grateful to the great Delta flight attendants that brokered a seat swap, so I could sit next to him. In addition, to the seat swap, they gave him free earbuds and some nice treats from first class. They also checked on him quite regularly. I’m so thankful for them!

We made it home and he’s fast asleep. As expected, the flight made his headache somewhat worse. Fortunately, it seems the nausea has improved. He’s hoping to get back to school tomorrow, but it will really depend on how he’s feeling in the morning.

Expectedly, we’re both completely exhausted physically, emotionally and mentally. I haven’t quite processed the last 48 hours fully, but I’m sure in the coming days I’ll work through it. Plus, now I’m back home so I can go in my yoga silk and unwind. Thanks for all the support and your continued prayers and well wishes.

Night To Shine

Last night I attended my first Night To Shine event.  This wonderful event is put on by the Tim Tebow foundation.  This event gives special needs teenagers and adults the opportunity to have a prom night experience that’s all about them.  Fortunately, I was able to register as a buddy before they closed registration.  I could not have signed up for a more amazing night.

As a buddy, it is our job to escort the attendee through their magical night.  From check-in until check out, our job is to make sure they have the time of their lives.  As this was my first time, I was a little nervous for the evening.   My nervousness dissipated quickly when I got to the church.  I quickly found my co-workers and took a seat in the sanctuary to wait for our guests to start arriving.

For the first time in three years, they had more than enough buddies, so I was able to pair up with my friend WL for the evening.  Our buddy arrived and it was clear from the beginning that we were a perfect match.  J, our buddy, was the life of the party and the Mayor of the event.  She knew absolutely everyone! Moreover, she had an infectious energy and happiness about her that was immediately apparent.

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We made our way into check-in, where they struggled to find her registration.  The Church’s, St. Paul Lutheran Church, event team and volunteer staff hopped into action immediately.  Within minutes, the snafu was fixed and J and I were ready to head to hair and makeup.  Her dress was resplendent and ethereal. She looked like a Disney princess.  It is no wonder she was the star of the prom.

One of my favorite moments of the evening was triumphantly walking the red carpet with her.  She freaking owned the carpet and the moment.  J is a star!  When we got into the prom, we headed to get her prom photo taken.  She was an absolute natural in front of the camera.  We left the photo area and entered the prom. Since we were both hungry, we made a beeline over to the food table.  Chic Fil-A donated all of the food for the event.  Chicken nuggets and mac and cheese never tasted so good.

We had barely sat down when J tired of eating and seemed overwhelmed.  Fortunately, I was able to keep her calm.  I quickly suggested hitting the dance floor, which put a huge smile on her face.  Not only could J work the camera, she could out dance most people I know.  We quickly figured out that we both loved Romeo Santos and Daddy Yankee.  As we danced, she was greeting everyone on the floor. She knew everyone!!!

WL was finally able to join us when it was determined they had enough buddies, so we had to double up.  Once WL joined us, the energy was out of this world and J was slaying it on the dance floor.  As we danced, she would hold our hand and thank us for being her friend.  We absolutely adored our buddy!  I could write all night about how we danced the night away, but there wouldn’t be enough words to describe how amazing it was for us.

One of the cool parts of the evening, was getting to know her parents during hair and makeup and the latter part of the dance.  They were incredible people.  Their daughter was one of the sweetest, kindest, most fun and generous people WL and I had ever met.   Her parents, much like her, were sweet, kind and fun.  We spent quite a bit of time talking after the event, which was nice.  While they thanked us for showing her a great time, we both felt that we should thank them for allowing us to be her buddy.

It was such an incredible experience to share the evening with J and her family.  When Tim Tebow came on the screen, the crowd when absolutely berserk.  To say they loved him, would be a gross understatement.  His message of love, faith, inclusion and celebration of special needs individuals was incredible.  As he closed out the message, we went into the countdown after which all of the guests were crowned either King or Queen of the prom.  The look on J’s face as we put the tiara on her head is one I will never forget.

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At the end of the night, I couldn’t help but feel that the night was just as much about us as it was the guests.  As I left the church, my heart was full, not just because I volunteered, but because of all the love, fun and memories we created with J.  Undoubtedly, it felt good to serve others, but she gave us and taught so much that I left with so much gratitude in my heart.  In fact, we’ve made plans to be therenext year to be her buddy again.  We’ve made plans to go shopping and get pedicures.  Meanwhile, her mom and I are planning on going to see Romeo Santos when he comes to town.

Its amazing how in volunteer to help others, those that you are helping teach you more about life and yourself than you could ever imagine.  Being a buddy or volunteer at Night to Shine was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.  It was an incredible event, which I will insist upon attending next year.  I am forever grateful to CS for the invitation.  Lastly, I’m forever grateful to J and WL for being my partners in crime last night.  Couldn’t have asked for a better buddy or partner than these two! #squadgoals

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If you’d like to know more about Tim Tebow’s Night To Shine, click here.

Tonight’s song, one of the last one played last night, performed by Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes is “Time of My Life.”   Last night, we killed it on the dance floor dancing to this song.  P.S.  WL I totally would have caught you.

Amazing Art

Last night, I had the opportunity to view some amazing art at an art gallery opening in Wilton Manors.  The gallery, Negril Art Gallery, was holding its grand opening complete with wine, hor d’oeuvres, music and great company.  This event was made even more special as my employee was one of the night’s featured artists.  It was an awesome opportunity to enjoy some art while supporting a colleague.

Honestly, I had an inkling that his work would be great, but I had no idea just how amazing they would be.   Consequently, I was completely awestruck by his work.  His portraits were sublime.  If you asked me which one was my favorite, I wouldn’t be able to pick just one.  They were that good!

I really enjoyed the gallery opening.  First of all, it was the first time in a long time that the Hubby and I were attending something that wasn’t hockey related.  Secondly, the art was utterly sublime.  Lastly, it was amazing to see our team there to support their colleague.  Truly, it was incredible seeing all the people form work that went to support Kwame.   It was a great event!

Afterwards, several us went to Padrino’s for some Cuban food and more drinks.  Oh yes, the vodka and long islands were free flowing as we waited for the others.  I enjoyed Arroz Con Pollo, while the hubby had lechon asada.  Fortunately, both of our decisions were pure perfection.  Both the chicken and the pork were cooked perfectly and were full of flavor.  We will definitely be back!  Moreover, our bill was only $200, which for 8 adults that are all drinking is pretty darn cheap.

After Padrino’s, we headed over to Cafe Vico for some more drinks and live music.  Unfortunately, the band had finished playing by the time we got there.  They had music playing, but the song choices were not fantastic.  Fortunately, the DJ/Chef/Owner let us start playing the music from his iPad. We had a fabulous time and shut the place down.  We ended our night by committing to go to Reykavik or Zurich for a girls weekend.   All in all , we had an amazing night out on the town.

Tonight’s song performed by Prince is “When Doves Cry.”