Thursday, May 1, 2014

Today on the day after my 61st birthday I have to apologize for not keeping up with the blog. It has been a year of challenges and changes. Truly I can't complain about any of it. It the midst of reaffirming my position as a top Realtor in Marin, I have been blessed with a few great clients and an incredible family who make my heart sing.

Our youngest daughter Katie, called to announce her engagement to Dominic Smelt. Wedding to be next year on May 23 in Seattle. I am happy for her happiness. 

Allison and Chris celebrated Alexandra's first birthday in Bolivia. Although I can moan over not being able to be there, they too are happy and Alex is thriving. 

On all these accounts I can look forward to seeing them all this year. Hopefully if politics allow I will be walking with both my daughters in the Seattle Komen 3 day. 

What a life I am blessed to have 19 years after being diagnosed with Breast Cancer.

But things have saddened me too. My sisters dear friend who has battled this disease in its late stages is losing her fight, stopping all treatment. Another warrior who was a 30 year survivor died at the age of 63. Every day young women are ignored with lumps they have discovered themselves because even Dr.s mistakenly think, they are too young to get Breast Cancer. And my dear Aunt just had a mastectomy in the East Coast far away from me leaving the phone as the only way to connect and try and help.

The fight is far from over. So I walked my first SF to Sausalito walk in training this week with many more to come. I would love your support. How about a donation. I have a goal of $11,800 for this year. I've got about $4000 to go. 

I will try to blog more often, until then.... Think of me juggling as always, pinching myself when I think about how fortunate I have been to not just beat Cancer, but be supported by so many wonderful people.


Friday, March 28, 2014

Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

Well for Glenn’s dad it has made his heart grow stronger. About 6 weeks ago George fell at home while he was running a low grade fever. His care giver was unable to get him back up so she called 911. They determined it would be good to take him to the emergency room. They determined he had a staph infection in his blood. He was immediately put in ICU and on heavy duty Antibiotics. One evening the Dr. called to say, “It might be a good time to come and see him”. We all took this to mean he was nearing death.  To look at him you certainly would have concurred. His lungs were not functioning well. His already compromised heart, with its pig’s valve and pacemaker, was not functioning well. His color was completely off, his legs swollen. When my husband and his sister were out of the room, he called me over to his bead and through the air mask said “this is it isn’t it.”


Since then he has gone on dialysis (they haven’t yet determined whether it is long or short term). But he has steadily improved. He is shaky and older. He has lost weight and at times has not been the same mentally razor sharp man we know, but something else has changed. He has found his motivation to keep going. He tells his caregiver “I just want to see Alex again.”


How can this little girl have such a huge impact on a guy like George?


George, or Opa, loved his granddaughters this I know. But I don’t believe he has ever shown such remarkable gentleness and love like he has for Alex. Even in ICU when we would show his a picture of her he would break into the most heart melting grin. “That’s just incredible” is what he says. I have taken to bringing out a photo of her if he is in a down mood, and inevitably he melts.


Alex lives in Bolivia with her parents. She has seen Opa once when she was 2 months old. She sat on his lap. There is a picture prominently displayed in his house of the day.


For him, the absence of Alex has made him stronger.

For me, the absence of Alex makes me sad.

I know for both of us, the absence of Alex doesn’t make our hearts grown fonder – that would be impossible. Her place in our hearts is filled to the breaking point.



Saturday, March 22, 2014

BABY ALPACA designer coat

From time to time I will be posting here more photos of auction items for our Team's auction at First up...

A donation all the way from La Paz, Bolivia! If you have ever touched baby Alpaca wool you know...
it is incredibly soft and warm. This designer coat by Liliana Castellanos is a classic design. I can see Jackie Kennedy luxuriating in it. It is described as,

The modern creations of Liliana Castellanos have gained an excellent reputation in the international world for their innovative design and the excellence of the Alpaca fiber. Liliana's creations are designed and handmade in La Paz, Bolivia.

By natural evolution the Alpaca has a perfect fur for protection against the extreme temperature changes of the Andean region. The Alpaca fiber is three times stronger than wool, five times warmer, and lighter than cashmere. The fiber also possesses anti allergic properties and is resistant to both water and fire.

This baby alpaca wool coat has excellent durability and thermal properties. Liliana’s design will keep you getting complements year after year.
US size 10. Retail IN BOLIVIA (which would be significantly lower than the US) $400.

MAKE your bid at www.AWTY2014 Minimum bid $150

Thursday, February 13, 2014

The ways the 3 day mirrors life

So yesterday I started the day is a really down mood. Truly deep and dark and sad. It happens to everyone one in a while and the past few weeks I was slogging through a cold, slow business and a deepening depression. Today I feel more hopeful, happier and confident. What was the difference?

Well, I listened to my own words. I looked at my survivor speech from 2012. My sermon so to speak to other survivors to proudly be who they are and let the world know they had indeed survived. That the very act of doing that gives other people hope.

I thought for a minute and realized, I can say that to others, but can I say it to myself. The talk was about hope and belief. It culminates with the thought hope leads to optimism and what follows optimism is belief. And we if believe there will be a cure for Breast Cancer there will be a cure. I can believe there will be an end to Breast Cancer, but there are times I don't believe in myself. When I don't believe in myself, I become pessimistic, and when I am pessimistic I lose hope. It is a mirror image of what I really have chosen to live when I participate in the 3 day. It is the polar opposite. And it isn't me.

When I walk in the 3 day my life hums. It is one of my sweet spots. There are moments in my business life when things hum...when I find a client a new home. When I help people reach their goals and guide them on their way. I know I am good at what I do. I am one of the best. I know I have a reputation that others envy for integrity and creativity and common sense. I also know the slow times will pass. But I am looking at what I do and want to find a way to tweak what I do to be more present and positive. To focus less on competition and more on what I enjoy and do well.

I have to say thank you to the 3 day for allowing me to make that speech. I wrote the words for others, but no one needed to hear the words more than me.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Perceptions of Perfection

I  just read someone’s Facebook posting in which a Doctor had written an article about Cancer survivors. It brought up for me some fundamental problems I have found in how people perceive survivors.

I suppose it is normal that we want to make these people all these things… “courageous “, “wise” ,“good at helping others through similar situations”, “ Ethereal”, “ knows priorities”, “They don’t sweat the small stuff” ,“They don’t hold a grudge”… etc… Basically we bestow on them some sort of saintliness just because they had Cancer.

For a long time I struggled with this perception because I didn’t see those qualities as always being present in my life. In fact it made me so uncomfortable that I didn’t talk much about being a survivor. Part of the reason for my silence was a low grade fear of recurrence, but a lot of it revolved around this expectation of other worldliness that I simply did not deserve.

 Take me right now for example. Truth be told, I can hold a pretty good grudge for a pretty long time. That is not a good quality, nor is it healthy for me, but I know myself and once I am put in a position of feeling used or abused, I hold onto that feeling. If truth also is told, it would say, I am human and I try.

I hope I am no different from anyone in that I try to help others with the benefit of my experiences. I try to not sweat the small stuff. I try to find courage when I need it and help other find theirs if they have lost it. I am not Ethereal; I am very grounded in this earth I live in. But I do see beyond this place to another and know this life is all temporary and our eternity is so so much more.

 I do not think these insights came completely from MY Cancer, but my Cancer has been a part of my journey and has helped define me. It has also helped define those around me. My children were young when I was diagnosed 10 and 12. They too have been forged in the drama of my Cancer. My husband, our friends, my siblings all have been affected by my Cancer.
Reading the Doctor’s account of these wise Cancer survivors, I was faced with what the world wishes Cancer survivors think, or do, or are.  I was faced with how I fall short.   I asked myself what I was going to do about it… truth be told, not much. I will continue to be who I am, and that may be that I carry a grudge and I will take a long time to forget a wrong. But, I have to say I am quick to forgive. There is a difference.

I remember what I said in my survivor speech and I still believe it. The most important thing about our survival is that it gives others hope. Our survival is very important for others to see and so it is very important for us to share. The perceptions of perfection that go with it, well, we may just have to live with and hope in being human we don’t disappoint too much. We didn’t have a choice about having Cancer, but we all have a choice about how we live.


Sunday, January 5, 2014

2014 - It will be an adventure

It’s a New Year and with the New Year will come new adventures.


It has been a long time since I wrote in this blog. Frankly I debated whether to continue it at all. I have kept it since 2009 and that is a lot of me…me talking, me walking, me wondering. I “wonder” now if this blog is of any interest to others and if it is worth the time and commitment it takes to make it readable. But I have elected to give it a go, and see where my writing here leads.


Part of my hesitancy lately frankly has been there has been too much to say. There has been the dissolution of a business partnership of 4 years (as close to a divorce as I have ever gotten). It came at a time I was getting ready to leave for Bolivia. It came out of the blue over the phone in a hurtful way. I was surprised, and the fact I was surprised made me angry at myself. I saw this coming a year before but brushed it all under the carpet choosing instead of doing the hard thing of moving on. So since then I have moved on and my focus is on fine tuning a business that reflects me and the values I hold as important.


Glenn and I went to Bolivia with this unfinished business on my mind. Part of the challenge of the trip was to put those thoughts where they belonged, and I think I was about 90% effective. I was able to enjoy a slice of my daughter’s life. I hugged our little Alex and climbed the cliffs of Isla Del Sol, we attended our national Day at the Ambassador’s residence, we walked the paths of the Incas and those civilizations that went before. Thanksgiving with a real turkey. Christmas two weeks early.  Sights and sounds and smells I have never experienced. A sky of stars in a southerly direction. All beginning with a stay at a Bolivian Hospital for altitude sickness. STILL in the midst of all this living I put a house in escrow, helped arranged and explain inspections on a house in Mill Valley. All via Skype and docusign, email and experience. Blogging wasn’t in my plans.


Coming back, in two days, still jet lagged, we picked up our daughter Katie from the airport for a short visit. We put on our annual Christmas party. We then took our daughter back to the airport. We had the celebration of the holidays and the welcoming of the New Year. And now, I look ahead to 2014 with optimism but I have to say, I know it will be a challenge.


There is the business side of it. With redoubled efforts to take back my brand, I am, as I always am, anxious about my income. So much of Real Estate is out of our control. What IS in my control will be my focus. Who I am in Real Estate should be my choice. It has always been my choice to be who I am period. By being my genuine self I built my business to be one of the most successful in Marin. By being myself, I attracted people who are easier for me work with. Being a solo agent doesn’t mean I am alone. I love to mentor people, but to partner is not in the cards. I am looking forward to seeing how my year evolves. I am excited to be myself.


There is the “Breast Cancer” side of it. I started this blog to chronicle my journey during the Komen 3 day. This year will see my 8th and 9th walks. This year we will be walking in Seattle and San Diego. Seattle is first September 19-21 and then Nov. 21-23 in San Diego. Our team currently consists of people who are all very important to me. In Seattle there is family (both daughters even the one from Bolivia!) my niece, a high school friend, college friends, a friend from the SF 3 day. In San Diego right now we besides me three 3 day friends. One coming from Missouri, one from New Jersey and one from Napa. I am hoping this team grows to include many more 3 day folks. They have become another kind of family to me. All these people share the same passion for ending Breast Cancer. Each has their own very personal reasons to walk. They all have enriched my life and inspired me.  So part of the reason I will attempt to write a sixth year of this blog is because I know I will be learning lessons on the way but sometimes the writing makes those lessons even more clear.


So my friends. If you enjoy reading this blog, by all means chime in and let me know. If you don’t I suppose you haven’t read this anyway, so continue not reading it.


2014 it will be an adventure, I hope you will come along and see what we discover.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

DAY 2 Atlanta - Gone with the Drizzle

I could have entitled this post "Gone with the Wind" but truly the rain that fell, fell without much wind, and it was mild in comparison with the deluge the DC walkers faced. In preparation for precipitation I had brought duct tape and about 30 shower caps and 12 pink ponchos. I had dutifully researched on Google how to keep our shoes dry. I was ready. When we went to sleep after day 1 we were assured an even lesser chance of rain that the day we had just finished... and it never rained. So when I got dressed and headed off with Patti and Kathy, I didn't put any shower caps or ponchos for that matter in my pack.

When we emerged from the Hotel to grab our taxi, I saw cloudy skies and even a little drizzle on the windshield. SURELY this wouldn't last! Thank goodness Kathy had two ponchos in her backpack...becuase I needed one.

At Camp people began to line up to get ready to take off. There is something really excited (even though you are dead tired) about seeing a group of pink clad warriors ready to hit the streets. Each and every one of them have reasons to be there. Walking 60 miles in 3 days is no walk in the park. It takes a lot of passion and this you can see fairly easily on the faces of the walkers. A team surrounding a member who obviously is either in the midst of chemo or just finishing it, a Mother and her daughter with unspoken determination to beat this disease. Husbands with shirts honoring wives they have lost. You cannot in all good conscious complain, whimper or whine in the face of such courage.

But walking in not melancholy it is triumphant. The crew who cheer you on, give you an extra bonce in your step. Somehow when the blisters form and walking begins to take it toll, you walk on. How can you not. There is no shame however with sweeping to walk another day and we all encourage each other to take care of ourselves so we can continue the fight.

Since I started walking in 2009, I have met a lot of people both at the 3 day and online. They are like family to me. Here in Atlanta I had a chance to meet face to face some of the people I had only known from a distance. What a gift to see... they are as they seem, very much a part of the passion I live when I walk the 3 day. Here are some pictures of day 2. (They call them Komen miles and theoretically we were to finish 40 total by the end of the day..... I personally believe we walked a few beyond that on our way to End Breast Cancer).




This man is a sweet kind sole who has been a huge supporter of countless walkers. I remember when he donated $10 to my walk out of no where. It made me smile... it made me walk even stronger.

Patti reached the breaking point on this day with blisters that were multiplying by the minute. She opted to save some tenacity for Day 3. FIRST time this girl has taken a sweep van and she made the right move.

Kathy and I walked the rest of the day together.

 But you are NEVER alone!

 Walking every damp mile of the 20 miles until we reached camp.

But poor Kathy had noticed a hurting big toe. She was horrified to see an enormous blister under the toe nail. Medical suggested she wait for the doctor to come to lance it. They felt surely she would lose the nail at some point. She opted to return to the hotel.
So back we went to go to bed to be ready to return the next day for DAY 3 ... the final day. Our team was wounded but not out of it....