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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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

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.

Unimaginable Horror

This afternoon an unimaginable horror began to unfold.  As I walked past the break room, I saw the devastating news that there was an active shooter at Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school in Parkland.  This high school is less than 30 minutes from our house and closer to my work.  Moreover, many of the kids we know through hockey attend this school.

Immediately, my stomach sank as I thought of the parents whose children attend this school.  While I was at work watching the events unfold, their worst nightmare was unfolding.  It seems that the accused shooter made many suspicious statements and his Instagram was clearly unhinged.  In fact, the PBSO bomb squad is at a home in Lantana as a consequence of today’s events.  He deserves to meet a slow and torturous fate.

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By 4:30 videos had started to emerge via social media of the day’s events.  When I tell you that they are beyond horrific, I would be lying because they’re much worse than that.  Unfortunately, these are videos we can’t un-see.  Experiences for these students they can’t ever forget.

I don’t have the answers that’s for damn sure, but tonight isn’t about answers.  Tonight’s blog is about the families whose world was shattered today.  The parents who spent their afternoon painfully awaiting the word their child was safe.  Their anguish, their anxiety had to be unimaginable.  Tonight we pray for these families.  We pray for our  extended hockey family as many of hockey players attend school there.  We hold close in prayer the hockey player that was shot during today’s events.  Moreover, we pray for those presently in the hospital and for their doctors.  Finally, our prayers go out to the families who are still looking for their loved one and to those that lost a child today.

Today’s events hit far too close for many of us in South Florida.  Undoubtedly, I’ll be holding my kids doubling tight tonight.  If you live in South Florida and have O negative blood, please consider donating blood as it is in short supply.  If you’re older than 16 and more than 110 lbs, you can set up a donation appointment here.

Tonight’s song performed by Disturbed is “Sound of Silence.”  It’s is a haunting and beautiful song.  This song is the perfect to listen to as you stop and reflect on life.

31 Days

Wow, just like that we are 31 days into 2018.  It seems like just yesterday we were ringing in the New Year.  The days and weeks have passed as if they were on an unending conveyor belt.  Now here we are peering into February, girl scout cookies in hand, battling to keep hold of our new year’s resolutions.  Oh, we are fighting the good fight, but those damn Thin Mints are so amazing!  Nevertheless, we fight on!

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My resolution to hit the gym early has hit a snag with the sinus infection and illness in the house.  There are so many people around us that have the flu, so we’re doing everything we can to avoid it.  Unfortunately, this means foregoing the morning workout for additional sleep.  Once I kick this sinus infection, you can bet that I’ll be back.

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As I drove home tonight, my mind was a conveyor belt of thoughts.  I know, I know a blonde thinking.  You’re probably imaging steam coming out of my ears and  you’d be right. I played sports growing up in multiple organizations as did my brothers.  I can’t say that our sports careers were perfect or picturesque, but I would say that the leagues and organizations we were part of actually followed the rules.

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In contrast, my kids experience is wildly different.  In fact, once they’ve aged out, I’ll write a book about it.  Of course, I’ll have to label it carefully as non-fiction because people won’t believe the stories and anecdotes I have to share.  Here’s my biggest frustration.  If you have rules as a league, why aren’t they enforced.  More to the point, why are they selectively enforced?

I can’t for the life of me understand how our league works here.  Truly, it is diametrically opposed to what I grew up with.  Moreover, when we’re back in Minny and we speak to Goalielocks’ coaches or are friends whose kids play hockey, they look at us sideways.  They can’t believe the stories we’ve shared.  It’s the same sport, but wow what a difference.

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I guess it goes back to the sliding scale of accountability, which drives me bat shit crazy.  If you have rules, you should equally enforce them across organizations, teams, and players.  If you sit one player for being late, you should sit them all.  Its no different than how you would/should operate in a corporate environment – everyone is subject to the same rules regardless of who they are or how they perform.  I know, I know, common sense or at least I thought.

Anyway, this aggravating conveyor belt of thoughts is driving me to Samoas, so I’m going to cut my losses and go hang around for a bit in my silk.  Tonight’s song performed by CNCO ft. Little Mix is “Reggaeton Lento.”

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.”

Homeward Bound

After a wonderful weekend in Chicago, we’re homeward bound. We got a very early start to our day with a 5:00 wake up call. The Mayor’s game was out in West Dundee and after several inches of snow, we needed to leave even earlier. Consequently, we hit the road at 5:30 hoping that would provide adequate time to get there by 6:10.

Unfortunately, it did’t. Admittedly, I got spoiled when living in Minny as they truly do a great job clearing the roads quickly. Illinois could use a lesson or two from Minny on clearing the roads. While the storm had started in the early evening hours on Sunday nights, the interstate was still a mess when we hit the road this morning.

Not for nothing, winter driving is one of the biggest reasons I wanted to move out of Minny. I absolutely abhor driving in the snowy and icy conditions. Clearly, I don’t have the nerves nor the stomach for it. Nonetheless, I survived driving through the snow and ice.

Back to hockey, both boys were playing in the semis this morning. The Mayor’s team lost a heart breaker of a game, but they played with so much heart. Unfortunately, due to the timing of their games and the road conditions, I missed Goalielocks’ game.

I didn’t think in a million years I could have made it there for more than a period. However, the game was a complete train wreck with numerous stoppages. In fact, even though I would have made it to the rink an hour after it started, I still would have caught half a game. The crazy part is these games are only supposed to take an hour…. This one took considerably longer.

As much as I hate driving in the snow, it was absolutely beautiful this morning. After their games, the kids headed outside to play in the snow with their teammates. They had an absolute blast. Fortunately, the weather was absolutely perfect for playing outside with temperatures in the low to mid 20s.

Once they finished playing outside, we packed up the room so we could grab lunch with our friends. It was no surprise that Goalielocks wanted to head back to Giordano’s. In fact, I was totally on board too since eating the deep dish pizza would likely keep us full for the rest of the day.

While our teams didn’t make the finals and the hockey didn’t go as we hoped, I’m leaving Chicago with a heart full of love and gratitude. I’m extremely thankful to be able to share these experiences with the kids and with my dear friend Jen. Seeing Jen and her family absolutely made my weekend. There’s nothing better than a dear friend, who loves you no matter where you are in life. A friend that sticks by your side through thick and thin. Moreover, even though you may not talk everyday you know they’re in your corner. Love you to the moon and back my sister from another mister!!!!

We’re presently cruising around 36,000 feet heading south to Atlanta before heading to Florida. The Mayor is enjoying a movie, while Goalielocks has been watching highlights from yesterday’s Vikings game. There’s no studying happening, so hopefully that means they did their work already. Meanwhile, I’m here blogging away on my iPhone.

I’ll close out tonight’s blog with how much we enjoyed our time in Chicago. The people, the service, the food was all incredible. From the moment we got to the rental car counter at Hertz until we pushed back tonight, we were met with nothing but kindness from the people of Chicago. The only nasty people we came across were crazy hockey mom and grandmas from other states. We, of course, were on our best behavior. Seriously, Chicago and its people were amazing to us this weekend!

Norway is Calling

Norway is Calling

Norway is calling (so is my bed p.s.) me back.  There’s no way around it and the kids feel the same way.  As a family, we cannot wait to go back and explore it some more.  For my kids, the city of Bergen was particularly memorable.  They’ve even started planning how they can study their in college or move their as adults.  I’d say the city left quite the impression on them.

The most beautiful part of Norway, and there were so many, for me was being able to spend time with my family.  There were no distractions of work, school or hockey.  It was just us enjoying our time together as we discovered our Scandinavian roots.  In addition, it was even more special because my entire family was there together.

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As we approach the holidays and I put out the Christmas decorations I bought in Norway, I long to go back.  One of my goals is to spend Christmas in Norway to enjoy the Scandinavian customs and celebrations.    It would be nice to enjoy a white, snowy Christmas versus our tropical Christmas.  Additionally, I’d like to explore the Christmas markets in Germany some time.

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Oh the serenity of my house was broken as the boys returned from hockey practice.  Goalielocks some how managed to knock a grocery bag with my brie baker off the table.  Consequently, my nice pampered chef brie pan has seen its last day.  Ugh… This is why I can’t have nice things.

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I leave you tonight with some of my favorite pictures from 2017.  There were many memorable moments this year, so picking my favorites was quite difficult.  Nonetheless, I think you’ll find a theme in my pictures.  Hint, hint my favorite moments are all about my family and friends that have become family.

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Tonight’s song performed by Offspring is “The Kids Aren’t Alright.”  I know, I know it is a departure from the Christmas music.  However, I was jamming out on my way to Barre tonight to this song, so I thought I’d share it.  Plus, it seems to fit with the brie, football/invisible hand calamity.

Monday Night Mayhem

Monday Night Mayhem

It was Monday night Mayhem when I received an urgent call from my Hubby as I drove to the rink for his and Jake’s game.   Unfortunately, their team’s goalie wasn’t going to to miss tonight’s game.  They wanted Goalielocks to suit up and play for them in the championship.  Never mind the fact that Goalielocks at 14 isn’t old enough for adult league.  But from a maturity stand point I’m not sure most beer league players are old enough to play in adult league, so Goalielocks would likely fit in perfectly.

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He was not to keen on the idea of being pummeled with pucks from beer leagurers living out their childhood fantasies of playing in the NHL.  However, the Hubby and Uncle Jon convinced him that nobody on the ice could shoot as fast or hard as anyone on his current team.  It took some convincing, but he eventually acquiesced as we drove back to grab his gear.

They held the game for us and our gear.  Consequently, Goalielocks quickly got dressed and took to the ice.  For Goalielocks, the game was a much slower pace than what he’s use to, but he was busy from start to finish.  He played phenomenally.  I’m pretty sure he’s the only goalie in beer league that can do the split.  This nice little trick caught the other team by surprise a couple of times.

Unfortunately, they pulled him with 5 minutes left in the 2nd when an adult goalie replacement was available.  Apparently, you have to be an adult (chronologically speaking) to play adult league.  While they’ve made exceptions for goalies before (in a pinch), it’s better from a liability standpoint to have an adult goalie in net.   He came off the ice smiling, but was still bummed he didn’t get to play the whole game.

Goalielocks walked into the locker room to get undressed and with a smile said, “they owe me a lot.”  And he would be right, he was kept very busy in net tonight.  Fortunately, he gave their team an opportunity to win.  In the end, he watched the third period from the stands with the rest of us fan.  Unfortunately, the goods guys lost 3-1.

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While he didn’t play the whole game, I could see that he enjoyed the opportunity to play with his family.  Likewise, judging from their reaction, they enjoyed the chance to have him in their net.  Of course the best part of the night, for my boys, was the free pizza, wings and beer post game.

Sometimes all compasses, all roads, and all maps lead us back to the same place.  For my family, our compass apparently only points us in the direction of the rink.  Moreover, forget the compass for a second, when I got leave to work or my house, my iPhone tells me how long it will take to get to the rink.  Such is life as a hockey mom and I wouldn’t change it for the world!

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P.S. Goalielocks also gets bonus points for making his mom dinner.  He made me awesome scrambled eggs and waffles!  The waffles were amazing!  Finally, the scrambled eggs were divine.

Tonight’s song is Adeste Fideles (O Come All Ye Faithful) performed by Celine Dion.  I love this song.

Gut punch

Gut Punch

Today was one of those days that was akin to a gut punch.  The kind of day that brings you sorrow, angst, sadness, and grief. As if we haven’t already been here enough in 2017… Ugh.  This year has been tough and the last 24 hours indicative of its toughness. Unfortunately, my SIL lost her mother last night.  This is one of those times its tough to be here because we’re not able, as a family, to be there for her, my bro and their kids.  Right now all of us wish we were there with them.

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Meanwhile, in another corner, a mother’s worst nightmare is playing out in a horrific way and we’re all powerless to help.  If anything today has reinforced, the delicate nature of life and its unpredictability.  Life, our days on this earth, are not promised. We can choose to exist, which most do, or we can choose to live.  We can choose to make a positive difference in the lives of those around us regardless of our circumstances.

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Nonetheless, today left me wanting to do nothing, but gorge on Neuhaus chocolate tonight.  I’m proud to say that instead I went to aerial yoga.  This was definitely the healthier way to work through today’s sadness and grief.  Tonight’s class was a bit difficult as I hurt my hip some how, so I had to be careful with my left side.  Incidentally, the inversions are getting much easier with each class.  Additionally, my alignment in handstand/headstand is much better in my mat classes now.  Aerial yoga is definitely improving my practice.

Tonight’s song is “How Great Thou Art” performed by The Pentatonix.