Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Thirty one years ago today...

Happy Anniversary to my Boa Boy.
Thirty one years ago we started on an adventure. We got married in a little church in Mill Valley and had a great party on the deck at the Alta Mira. We would grab an evening and take our little boat Thalassa to Angel Island and anchor for the night. We frequented Bed and Breakfasts and went on picnics. Some where along the way we decided to start a family and buy a house in Mill Valley.

The first baby daughter came and we looked at her in amazement wondering where would we go from here? Our lives bent and morphed to include more than just us. Another little girl came along who filled our house with squeals and giggles. The puppies I had when I was single both died on Christmas. We mourned together as a family until a sweet boy named Scuppers came to heal our sadness.

The parts of our single lives either melted into our 'couple' life of disappeared into distant memories. We sailed, we hung out with our friends, we brought children to play in East Bay pools. We planned and took trips to exotic places - Sailed in Tonga and Thailand, Turkey and Spain. We had become Cathy and Glenn (or Glenn and Cathy) depending on who you talked to. Together we hosted Christmas parties with Santa and Bears in the window, watched as children's belief changed into skepticism. We sang out loud and danced on Delta Islands.

When I was 42, I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer, but we both were Cancer victims. Glenn held my hand while I received chemo. He silently dealt with his own fear to help keep me strong. We watched as I lost my hair, my breast and he told me he loved me. We both survived.

We survived our daughter's teenage years with a combination of fear and awe as they became independent young ladies. We put on a wedding Columbus Ohio as our eldest embarked on her own adventure. Glenn took a deep breath and I held mine as he walked her down the aisle. We both have wondered how our girls are doing as they started lives far away from our home in the Mill Valley hills. We both realize how blessed we are.

We have lost friends and Glenn's mother and our dear Scuppers. We have held each other and cried, only to stand taller together than we could have ever stood on our own.

When I started the 3 day, Glenn joined me with a look of confusion the first time he saw all that pink, until he found a boa draped around his neck. He is now BOA boy. He is my boa boy.

The years ahead of us are as exciting to me as the ones we have lived. They will be rich and full and surprising at every turn. I know as long as I have Glenn there, we will both get through anything. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't thank God for this wonderful man in my life.

Happy Anniversary Glenn, here's to the next 31 years. I love you.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

As it should be

Finally, after much deliberation Patti has signed up to walk in her third 3 day - in San Diego.

Patti was one of the prime reasons why I started this crazy journey int he first place. Her diagnosis, at a time when I was just starting to come to terms with having actually "Survived" Breast Cancer 14 years before, was oddly perfect. I dont' know whether or not I would have been able to "be there" in the same way had it been sooner. Instead in facing Patti's Cancer I faced my own in a way I never had before.

Now walking with Patti is a celebration.

And it is a rich one. Because we both know, life is tenuous and something that cannot be take for granted. We also know the importance of choices that are an affirmation of life, not from a fear of living. Our choices havee come to be made with the idea of counting.

In the past three years Patti's husband had a frightening brush with his own Cancer. Following a seizure, he was diagnosed with Brain Cancer, which ended up to be benign. keeps on challenging you to see how much you really value it.

This year before Patti signed up I was excited about my walk, loving those who would be walking with me both new and old walkers... but something felt like it was missing. Now, it feels right.

Patti will be walking with Barbara Bryant and Carol Smith both Sorority sisters of ours. That is as it should be. All the San Diego Are We There Yet? team need your help to reach their fundraising goals. You can donate to one of them by visiting  Pick a walker, any or all of us. We thank you for joining us in this adventure.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

A Man in Pink

Bob Carey, the Tutu Brothers and Glenn Youngling have a few things in common. They wear pink.

Perhaps you have seen the expression "Real Men Wear Pink" on a bumper sticker, or button. Maybe you laughed and thought, ya right sure.... not a real man. But let me give you my take, as a woman and Breast Cancer Survivor and warrior. Never was there a more manly thing to do that to wear pink in the support of someone you love.

Men are supposed to be the protector of the woman in their lives. And although times change and women take on or share increasing the roles that used to be exclusively a man's, like providing for the family, this one act of protection to me defines the kind of man and person someone is.

It's at first embarrassing for a man to wear pink, be it a boa or a tutu skirt.
But  I think it becomes more and more empowering each time that look of appreciation and love crosses someone's face. The vulnerability that a man displays in pink, mirrors our own vulnerability to Cancer. It is the willingness to stand proudly pink along side a woman battling Cancer that does something magical. It superpowers the warriors doing battle. They feel the strength of legions of soldiers by their side.

I have watched at the 3 day the look on woman's faces when they told me, their husbands basically 'tolerated" their walking and "put up" with the time it had taken. I see as they remark "No he didn't want to come to cheer." There's a sadness that is hard for me to see. I have had quite the opposite response from my husband.

I watched the Today show today when Bob Carey and his wife Linda spoke about the Tutu project. This is something that Bob, a photographer started 9 years ago as his way to express himself as his wife battled Cancer. Bob is not some model. He is a middle aged fellow with a face that shows life. It shows his sadness and his joy. His actions show his love and his strength in the face of something that is threatening to take his wife. Linda has had a recurrence of her Cancer and has been told it is incurable. She fights every day as does Bob.

Bob has traveled around the country taking the most incredible photos of himself in a pink tutu. His hairy chest juxtaposed to the frilly fluffy twirling skirt. His tattooed shoulder giving a clue to the spirit he displays. He finds himself laying on the street in Times Square, plastered on a rock wall, sitting alone on a bench with four trees, one fully covered with sparkling green leaves each other successively fewer leaves until  the one standing completely bare. He stands in another photo on a field of snow the only color seeming to be his pink tutu. Next to a dying amusement park where he is jumping for joy in life. This project, is an open love letter to his wife, but it is something more. It is his roar against this intruder Cancer in not only his wife's life, but his own as well.

I truly believe that is the hidden gift in the donning of pink, it gives the emotion and the frustration of being a Cancer "co-survivor" a way to be expressed. I have seen it in Glenn's eyes as one after another pink boa is wrapped around his neck at a 3 day, his shoulders relax and his eyes come alive. I have to believe, part of the feeling of being a victim shifts to being a conqueror with both of us wrapped in pink flowers. He says it is all about the look on the walker's faces when they see him, or when he puts a set of mardi gras beads around their necks that is so wonderful and I am sure it is.... but I truly believe that is not all it is.

For me, as a walker, I have to say when I see a group of firefighters in their pink, the Coast Guard at attention wearing pink or the San Jose Cops riding their bikers with pink everything.... I smile. Your feet become lighter, energy returns and there is a sense of being surrounded by the most masculine strong men on the planet. At a street crossing to see two brothers in their pink tutus lovingly making sure you are safe on the route, you feel them protect you as they had tried to protect their Mother from Cancer. There is more behind each and every man who wears pink.

Here are a few pictures of some of those magnificent men I have seen wearing pink... and please visit to see more of Bob's photos.

And if you know a man strong enough to wear pink, please thank him for me.

Monday, May 21, 2012

What I could have said....

The title to this blog post couldn't be more perfect, but at the time I wrote it, I had no idea of why. Originally I was going to post about having that perfect "come back" line that seems to allude you at the time. You know someone says something particularly rude to you while you stand dumb struck without much to say except "oh yeah?" Then later in the day, in your head, your witty response is like a Don Rickles comedy act, and you think, "wish I had of said that!"

Well, now I see it differently.

A colleague of mine was killed in an accident on Friday, coming home from seeing her horse in Petaluma. She was driving back on a bit of a winding but flat road, with her two dogs in the car. For whatever reason she veered off the road, flipped the car and ending up dying in the wreck along with her two dogs. She was my age, or close to it. She had a husband who loved her and one daughter, our daughter's age or close to it. She and I were friends, or close to it. We definitely were both Realtors specializing in the same area of Marin. She was an extremely vibrant person who loved her life. She is gone. I am not. Now I am thinking of the things I could have said differently.

None of us know how much time we have been given. As a result many of us waste that time in petty arguments, stressful jobs, loveless marriages, bitter divorces, hating neighbors, envying other's success, drinking too much, missing the beauty around us ... wasting it.

I don't want to waste anything.

These moments in life often call for us to assess how we are doing in our lives. Are we making the most of what we have been given. I truly think I strive to live life fully and with purpose. It wasn't always that way, and it still isn't ALWAYS that way. But this weekend I was able to walk with my friend Patti to Cavallo Point, hopefully showing along the way how much our friendship means. I was able to see Joe's ball game and watch Olivia play on the play equipment. I was able to walk through my client's new house and watch the excitement on their faces and the exhilaration on their daughter face as Pyper ran through bright green grass that was soon to be her back yard. I was able to  dance with my dogs. I was blessed to spend time with my sweet husband. I could see the roses blooming on my patio and see as Oregon Juncos vied for bird seed on my father in law's steps. We talked with a woman from Tonga and spoke about my love of that wonderfully beautiful place with soulful people. We ate "beer can" Chicken on a balmy Spring evening and listened to Glenn's Dad talk about days gone by. I was able to remind myself this day isn't gone, it is here, to take in, record and remember.

What will you do this week to remind yourself of this gift you've been given. Will you look at it sitting on a shelf and admire it, or will you pick it up, embrace it, wrap yourself in it and live it?

Rest in Peace Marguerite. God Bless your family and help them remember how you lived your life ...

Friday, May 11, 2012

My "go to" walk

How many people can say when they have four hours to walk, they can walk from the SF Ferry to the Sausalito Ferry. Not only is it one of the most beautiful "city" walks in the world, but you start by crossing the Bay, passing Alcatraz and views that normally reside on postcards or travel books. And today I had the added bonus of sailing over with Patti who was headed into work.

This has become a walk that I never tire of, whether I am with  other people or by myself, I am totally entertained on the way. If I wasn't so entertained perhaps the 12 miles would seem longer or more arduous. But catch me at any time and chances are you will see me with a smile on my face.

Next year the Amercia's Cup will be held in SF. Thousands and thousands of people will be reminded of what an incredible place SF is - I know that already.

This walk is never short of tourists. From Cruise ships like this monster, or in buses, bikes, quaker boats or just aimlessly meandering. When you are walking through Fisherman's wharf and just abotu the enitre route, you have to keep your eyes open ready to dodge someone staring at the sky or some street performer. And where in the guide book does it say you get to walk seven abreast across the sidewalk so there is no room for anyone walking the other way. I spend a good deal of my time stepping off into the street to avoid collisions!

But they have a lot to ogle at ....Boats at Pier 39.

By the way THANK you PIER 39 for your donation to our auction. How cool are you! Family fun pack, Carousel Tickets, Aquarium tickets, Mirror Maze tickets parking and...

Your choice of the ROCKET boat or the Blue and Gold Fleet cruise.That will be some fun for the family of four who wins it.


As I got closer to the Sports Basement, I could see the remnants of Doyle Drive twisted and piled like tumbleweeds.

This fellow was actually looking out over the bulldozers moving the debris around, but it looks like he is checking out the new moon.

On Crissy Field this Heron was close enough to touch.
He was hanging out on the same grass where we camped in 2009. I don't know where the SF 2012 3 day camp will be, but I wouldn't be disappointed to be at Crissy - that grass is soft!

There is never a shortage of bridge views on this walk. It helps you get mentally prepared for the climb up to cross the 2 mile span.

Once you are on the bridge you dodge and weave through bikes and tourists, and ever once in a while you look down and see beautiful sights, like this 70+ ft boat.

When I got back to my car in Sausalito, I headed home to quickly clean up before heading into work. Now that my friends is a GREAT day.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Those that "Bleed" Pink

This is the kind of a morning when you could sit outside on the patio with a cup of coffee and just reflect on how beautiful the world is. Flowers on the white lilac perfume the air, the breeze is a distant memory, the sun growing increasingly bold as it raises in the sky. But I am here on the computer, writing this post. Why?

Well you see I am one of those that "Bleed" pink. Because of that I think about the pink things I should be doing on such a fine day as this. Walking of course. After all the average 3 day walker will walk 585 miles in training prior to the 3 day. This means a lot of juggling of work and personal life to fit it all in. Today will be the kind of a day it would be a shame not to fit in a good long walk. But wait... I have more to do....

Many of us who "bleed" pink feel the calling to build awareness. Maybe that is why we have a closet that is 70% pink after 3 walks. Maybe that is why so many of us write blogs. It is why there are countless "groups" on Facebook that connect us. There we share our fundraising ideas, our training progress and hash out what to say to donors and family and friends about what and why we are so ... gosh darned PINK.

For those of us who walk the 3 day, there is a certain level of pink commitment that goes above and beyond. Our fundraising minimum to participate is higher than other events. The Komen 5k has NO minimum. But this 3 day 60 mile walk is a test of your pink commitment in the dollars you raise and the miles you walk. It makes logical sense then if you have this commitment, you find when you walk in this event, you have found a new family. A family where they "GET" it. And you are so very proud to walk along side people who will put all of themselves toward this great and noble goal, to end Breast Cancer in our lifetime.

I have gotten to know many of these folks. Like Jim, 14 3 days last year alone. Boobgirl Staci, who is walking 3 events and stalking 3 more. Jay, who is a mad man when it comes to his personal bat out of hell walking style that needs to decide to walk super slow or double back in order to not "Miss it" at the 3 day. There are people who struggle to make their minimums and bake cookies or cut hair or babysit kids for donations. There are people who hold jewelry parties or make CDs to sell or put on incredible PINK events like I read about their events like a big Wine FUNraising party in N. Virginia and wish I could just pop in. When you meet any of these folks live, it is like meeting an old friend. There is no need to explain what brought you there, but usually it does get around to the WHY do you do this crazy pink thing?

In my own team those answers are walking right next to me. For me, I look over and see my friend who was diagnosed in 2009. I see my daughters who have a greatly increased risk of developing Breast Cancer, because I had it. I see a high school friend who walks for friends who lost their battle with Breast Cancer. I see a dear friend whose Grandmother was a survivor. I see college friends who have lost people to not just Breast Cancer but one whose father was lost to skin Cancer and one who is our "sister" who will be walking with us in support of those she knows who fight and those she has lost. And I see a young mother, with 3 small children, who comes from a family that Cancer has targeted. I know her story of her diagnosis after the birth of her daughter and how the daughter at the age of 2 was diagnosed with Brain Cancer. I walk with them and watch as they heal and as they take their lives back.

I have said before what an incredible gift it was to me to stand in the survivor circle at the DC 3 day. It was like putting everything I had done up to that point in bold font. By looking out over the sea of tear streamed faces, and watching as the names of those lost are lifted to the heavens, I realized that each of those people had their own stories for why they "bleed" pink. I held hands in the circle with survivors whose stories were familiar yet very much their own. A three time survivor on the right, a one year survivor on the left. Mothers, daughters young and old there are things that make us different, but this pink blood in our veins makes us all the same tough and determined family.

Whether it is me, or one of my pink brothers or sisters who are asking you to help them reach their goal remember what it is they are asking you.

Do YOU believe "everyone deserves a lifetime?" Do YOU believe a mother deserves the right to dance with her son at his wedding? Do YOU believe that together we can and will create a world without Breast Cancer? If you do please donate, or walk, or crew but please do something. Because unfortunately the other part of this bleeding pink has been seeing people you have met, who have been brave warriors, lose their fight. You can feel them as they become the angels who sit on your shoulder as you solider on. You watch as their names are added to the banner of those lost. You cry pink. You bleed pink. You walk on in their memory.

PS I want to thank everyone who has supported this passion of mine and ask that you understand, I will never give up until this is a world without Breast Cancer.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Racing with a full moon - East Brother Lighthouse

There is a lighthouse that sit on a rock island straddling the waters between San Francisco Bay and San Pablo Bay. The East Brother Lighthouse was built back in 1873. There used to be a number of these lighthouses in the Bay on the little known islands here. The East Brother lighthouse is the only one that survives. As a way to preserve this remaining bit of history, the Lighthouse is now a Bed and Breakfast. Glenn and I were gifted with a night at East Brother Light house by our daughter Katie last Christmas. Saturday was our day to head to the Island.
The lighthouse if off Point Molate (on the other side of the Chevron refineries in Richmond). The long road hugs the shoreline as you make you way past old Government buildings that have long been abandoned... or are they? There are some very curious white pickup trucks that follow your progress, chatting on walky talkies letting other white pickup know where you, the intruder, is at every moment.
Eventually you are at parking lot of the Point San Pablo Harbor, which is on its own a little bit of Twilight Zone.

Glenn and I arrived early, since we bought a "Day Pass" to get our ride over to the Island. The Vallejo Sailing Race was scheduled to be sailed and the course take the boats right by the island. Since Glen had sailed this race around 25 times, we were making good on his personal promise to be on the island one time as they sail by.

We waited for the launch to arrive, looking over a harbor that had a collection of "interesting" boats, many abandoned. There are also a group of house boats.
Eventually another three couples came by each of them were using Day Passes as well but not staying on the island. The launch can take 6 people or so. We headed off first while this Harbor dog barked at us on our way off.

The weather was simply spectacular. We landed, climbed the ladder to the island then the ramp to the top.... where we settled in to enjoy this beautiful day.

Had we not arrived the islands would be like most of the other ones on the Bay, a bird sanctuary.

The Island would normally we pretty wind swept. It often is cool... and blustery on the bay here. But to day, there was little if any breeze.

You and see seven counties Solano, Contra Costa, Alameda, Marin, Sonoma and Napa, and of course SF from this island.
The boats were gathering getting ready for their start beyond the San Rafael Richmond Bridge.

The lighthouse has been beautifully restored. It had been used by the coast guard and much of its beauty had faded and been covered up with years of piece meal repairs. Things like asphalt shingles topping the old wood siding. The volunteers who turned this into what it is today should be thanked.

The water here is naturally collected. The power is cabled over from the mainland.

The old fog signal is pretty LOUD. They now only sound it as a demonstration.
During October through April there is a much quieter automatic signal. We didn't get to hear this signal since it is May.

The machine works to make the fog signal work is a series of compressors, gas engines and several back up systems.
In the fog signal house is a sample of what an old lense woudl have looked like. This isn't the same one from the original Lighthouse but this is the same size and age of the original.

Glenn and I were on a multi media mission. He had his cellphone, small camera, and his I-pad. I had a small camera and my 35 mm Camera with 3 lenses!
We had brought a picnic and enjoyed it while we waited for the boats to arrive.
The remaining day trippers arrived.
The Vallejo Ferry

If you are planning a day trip there is a lot of time to relax, read a book or play horseshoes. It would be a mistake not to take your camera!
One of the first boats to arrive was a cat names Adrenaline.

This orange hulled boat, Bridge Runner, ended up winning the race. Glenn knew the skipper on board Urs.

We shared a little local knowledge with the day trippers, and Glenn explained some about the race that was entertaining us.
Here are some photos of the race....

We came across a couple of Geese who were guarding their two eggs.

A gull sitting on top of the fog signal....

The island was covered with poppies on this trip.

J101 with Pat....

Wing on Wing....

Glenn with his Ipad...
Boats that went between the Island and east shore were close enough to yak at... or take a picture.

I offered to throw them a beer...

Boats on their way... Glenn and I took some more pictures as we waited for the night time guests to arrive.

This is West Brother with Mt Tam beyond.

Detail that has been recreated at the house.
The guests arrived and we ended up to be quite the group. We were all pretty well different. There were two couples, they both worked for "tech" companies. All very nice, interesting and young. There was a couple of young lawyers. He had come originally from Alaska and worked on boats for a long time with his family. There was a Pediatrician and a Geo tech Engineer around our age. Everyone lived in the Bay area now.

This was a full moon night. That added to the temperate weather made our evening spectacular.

The Inn keepers Peter and Deana were on their 18th month as the keepers. They told us the average stay is 24 months. She is a phenomenal cook. He is a great host. She will be moving on to Cater in Marin and he will be teaching at Marin Catholic HS in Kentfield. He used to teach at Tam HS in 2002, and he is going back to teaching Physics and Math.
After a good nights sleep we headed back. I had bought 2 day passes to auction off at Pinktini and Popcorn, because this is one trip everyone should do. Thanks Katie.

If you'd like to bid on this wonderful adventure, please click on the link...

You could decide to stay overnight too (not included)