Saturday, September 15, 2012

Living Shy in a Sociable World

Yes, it's true. I have battled shyness all my life. Did I have you fooled? Well, I have many years of practice. I remember that a few years ago my sister mentioned my mom's crippling shyness, and I was so surprised to hear that...mainly because she was home with me, nurturing my socialization, and rarely had to step out of her comfort zone and into the bigger world. When she did, she was dressed to the nines in clothes she designed and made, hair and makeup perfect. That gene seems to have skipped a generation, so when I'm out in the world, I don't have that armor.

So what reminded me of that? Just a party. A neighborhood block party, next door, with dear sweet, welcoming people, name tags (I can NEVER remember a name...and even froze on my business name when asked tonight...duh!), my BF and even my dog...and I could not get out of there fast enough. was fun. I met the couple who have been my backyard neighbors for almost 11 years.  Yes, just now met and visited with them. Ditto a couple from across the street. I truly enjoy the one on one conversations. I do intend to keep those aqaintanships going and feel good about that. But once our little clique dissolved as those dinner time conversations do, it was all I could do to not bolt for home. And I learned this is not how everyone feels (remember, my role model was even more shy than me, so I had no idea people actually LIKE parties. Who knew?)

My new role model? Katie. Yes, the Shih Tzu was the life of the party. She was completely charming, fluffing her tail plume, doling out doggie smiles and measured licks, minding when I called for her but working the crowd as if the party was her debut. When I lost track of her and looked around, there would be a table with 7 people and Katie (she jumped up on the vacant chair so as to be included in the goings-on), grinning her most toothfull grin, wagging her pleasure at being out and about. The resident Lab was shooed away for barking, and a little terrier had a few snarling fits, but Katie made her rounds, trailing "oh, she's so cute" and "how well-behaved!" in her wake.

I won't even go into my boyfriend's socializing. He loves being around people, doesn't share my awkwardness in large gatherings, and was also "well-behaved" (and picked up after Katie when she oopsed in the middle of a bocce game). He's human. He's supposed to know how to be around people.

But I learned something from Katie. Being social can't rely on being glued to the first seat I encounter and hoping 1) nobody notices or 2) someone gentle comes to visit. Next time the situation presents itself, I will do my best to channel my inner Shih Tzu and table-hop, smile, and have fun.

Let's see. That will probably be next month in Jamaica, where I understand a lively entertainment staff will arrange frequent schmoozing opportunities. I don't drink alcohol so I can't rely on liquid courage. But maybe I'll keep one of Katie's photos with me...a big smiley one...reminding me it's all about fun

And what the heck. I'll never see those people again...

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Becomming UN with the e-Universe

I receive hundreds of emails every day, and am always amazed when there's one from a real person; I'm not even ounting the sneaky ones that appear to be from a person but which are really from some company I'd probably have no interest in. So, like ridding a garden of weeds, I have been culling my inbox, brashly unsubscribing to everything I haven't intentionally planted there myself

I buy online a lot, and am aware now of the trail I leave in my wake and how it multiplies without my consent. I recently ordered flowers for a funeral from ProFlowers. I was vastly unhappy with several elements of the ordering process, and replied to their follow up "rate us" email with vigor, outlining all The reasons I would NEVER order from them again. Their response was an apologetic email offering 30% off my next order (as if I send flowers with wild abandon). When I didn't immediately respond with an order, the next day they offered 40% and also emailed me from their sibling company, ProPlants. Aargh! They have a bunch of subsidiaries. I anticipate 50% off at ProSeedlings tomorrow and Free! Free! Free! at ProManure by the end of the week.

I have just Unsubscribed to all future emails, but as I am finding, some companies claim it takes up to 8 days to take me off the list. Hmmmm. I have my doubts about that. I also have clients who subscribe to my auto newsletter for Massage Kalamazoo and every addition and deletion is immediate. 

Continuing in my quest to be unknown, uncontacted, and unsolicited, I stumbled across the most annoying process, whereby I click on unsubscribe and am directed to a special website where I am asked to enter my email address -TWICE - in order not to receive emails. Really? That feels like eating 2 meals in order to be allowed to diet. It makes me mad, Cybercompany. It makes me far less likely to ever buy from you again. Ticking me off is not a good sales strategy.

So for 2 afternoons, I have listened to Dr Phil solve his guests' issues while trying to eliminate mine. I have found the "unsubscribe" button on virtually every email, no matter how cleverly they try to hide it. I have typed and retyped the information I am asking them to forget. I have sighed when I realized I'm cutting off one branch of a company tree with no guarantee their subsidiaries won't still pop up like so many Whack-A-Moles. I am waiting breathlessly for the mysterious 8 day waiting period to pass. Dr Phil's guests have nothing on the angst I feel as I try to become UN with the e-Universe.

And, if you happen to be an over-extended subscriber to my own business emails, you have my blessing to unsubscribe. No hard feelings. I know your pain.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Funeral Cookies

Apparently there is a whole category of confections dedicated to funerals. Entire menus, recipes and even books give you way more information than I needed to find a simple but impressive cookie to duplicate about 150 times and transport to a funeral luncheon.  I volunteered for cookies because there was a danger of cake on the horizon, a bad idea in my mind in feeding over 100 people who will hopefully fill a plate and move on to mingle. Not tie someone up cutting and serving, needing more tableware, napkins, plates...yes, I'm as conservative as possible when it comes to party accoutrement...since you won't keep your fork and another plate isn't in the budget, please have a cookie and be on your way.

There's something to be said for the church ladies who usually prepare these things. Everyone falls into formation like a well-trained pack of Green Berets and perfectly browned casseroles appears as if by magic, soothing the bereft and fortifying the shirttail relatives. But, for some reason, no church ladies have appeared, one man then another said they'd handle it, and it finally landed in the capable hands of my LadyBug.

 Now, I have planned similar events many times with my Sisty Midler and I knew how to make this happen, but felt my opinion will be sought if needed. Assignments continued to be given and I sat quietly (until the mention of cake, which I squashed gently) and at the end was able to ask what's still needed? LadyBug looked wistfully at "cake" which had been crossed from the list, so I whispered "cookies. We'll bring cookies. All the cookies". She hesitated, thinking perhaps to make one more campaign for cake, but I sternly smiled...cookies it is

Success! I have solved the dessert dilemma but...yikers...I have just volunteered to provide 150+ homemade cookies in 2 days!

I have some ideas. Not turning to the Funeral Cookbooks except for inspiration. My time to shine and I can only turn to one source for help


Recipes never actually made by real people, themed by color, or farm animal, or Disney Princess. Yes, there is a lot of chaff to look through for the golden needle I need. But somewhere, amidst the recipes for make-your-own-dish washing-soap, patterns for crocheted pot scrubbers, and designs of dream kitchens...somewhere I will find that perfect melt in your mouth, non-crumbling, fabulous cookie recipe

Or I'll dip Oreos in white chocolate and call it a day

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Becoming UnPinterested

I wasn't the first, but I did hop onto the Pinterest bandwagon sooner rather than later, although I have to say...we may be parting ways soon.

The idea has merit. Someone is aware of a product, recipe, craft, quotation, just about anything, they post it, and if you're interested, you "pin" it to your pin boards. It's a virtual bulletin board, ostensibly to make note of something you want to buy, make, bake, wear or move in to, all without those annoying scraps and photos we used to keep, or intend to keep, as inspiration for the fabulous, organized, delicious life we expect to have one day.

To paraphrase, someone said Pinterest is for planning a wedding you'll never have with a spouse you'll never meet to live in a house you'll never occupy. Ah, but mine were things I really plan to do/use/make. And I never leave a comment saying anything is "super cute"

The cracks in the system began to show when 2 really annoying people seem to spam-pin picture after picture that hold no interest for me. Where did all the good stuff go? Why am I now faced with tartans, messy braids, rooms like studies, conservatories, and maids quarters...things with no relation to me or anyone else I know. How can I find the cool stuff that I can repin so my followers know how cool I am? Pffffft

So I try "categories" but this only shows again the dumbing down of Pinterest. I don't want to see a recipe for crock pot soup when I'm trying to search crafts! Unless I can paint my shoes like the stilt walkers showing up on my crafts page, I want them relocated to Shoes. Your "awwww" picture of your puppy belongs on the Pets page, where Katies is (correctly) Get it straight, Pinners!

So, in my disinterest, frustration, and growing apathy toward your best "super cute" ribbon wrapped cat box, I feel myself fading from The Pin.

But then,,,

I have Pinterest followers! Can I let them down easily!? And I've had at least one roaring success, the Nachos Cupcakes made for Cinco de Mayo. I bought a $19 dress I had seen in a pin that almost fits! We have two wreaths made from paper umbrellas that are adorable but not yet hung. I have lots of inspiration for Chriatmas. I'm not ready to admit I'm not Pinterest material!

So, I keep on. Not as often, and with much less enthusiasm than before. and maybe the next post I pin will be life changing. Something so spectacular that, by cooking, Mod-Podging, slashing, mixing, folding, dicing, glittering and repurposing it, my coolness will never again be in question. Oh yes...and it will be super cute.

Saturday, August 18, 2012


Before I got sick, "reconstruction" was something that happened to the South after the Civil War. 

Now it meant decisions, ones I started making as soon as the diagnosis was in. My decision was pretty easy. Yes, please

Ah, but it wasn't as simple as that. Apparently, insurance will, and has to, cover it, but only for the breast that was removed. Thus, you can end up with one perky girl and one...well, not so perky. I decided to go for perky and deal with matching up somewhere down the road

Which bring me to the "oh, great, NOW I find out" fact the I was unusually symmetrical. My plastic surgeon had to make a bunch of measurements, and now that I was losing Right, I learn that she ws the perfect twin of Left. That would have been good to know when I could actually enjoy the knowledge! Anyway, we arranged for reconstruction to start during the initial surgery, which made me feel like even losing a boob was the start of moving forward.

Then I found out you also have nipple decisions to make. Who knew? A friend told me they give you a chart and you pick what color you want. Then they tattoo it on. I was leaning toward blue, or maybe flamingo pink, and was looking forward to seeing that chart.

We never got that far. I was shivering at home a few days after surgery and naturally called my friend in Hawaii instead of anyone who could actually help me. Thankfully he was wise enough to say "call your doctor". By the time I got to the ER my temp was 105. The next day I was back in surgery, out came the tissue expander, and that was that for reconstruction.

But that wasn't the end of figuring out the symmetry thing. I wasn't ready for "mastectomy fashions" so I made do. I tried one of Katie's Egg Baby stuffed toys in my bra, which filled me out perfectly, but had a loud squeaker. Since I was trying to appear whole and healthy, especially when I worked, that wasn't good. Eventually a rolled up sock took over until I got tired of it shifting around.

Never having been one to focus on my cleavage, it was a very odd thing to have to think about it so much. Now I rarely think of it at all. And once again, I just think of reconstruction as something the South did after the Civil War

The TaTa Party

Back from Honolulu, still packin' Clementine, there was one last thing before my surgery. Being us, my TTF had little trouble convincing me that we needed a pre-surgical party. At, of course, Hooters. Since anything worth doing is worth overdoing, we invited all our coworkers and a few friends who would appreciate the gallows humor, and join in.

This was mid September, so with Breast Cancer Awareness Month approaching in October, it was pretty east to fill gift bags for our guests, decorated with "Take Care of Your Pair". Pink ribbons everywhere. A Hooters girl stopped by the table and asked if we were celebrating someone having a girl. TTF said "Actually, it's more of a going away party" which cracked me up. TTF and my business partner whom I will call Bambi brought sequined pink glasses, necklaces, boas, a tiera, and a fake boob costume for me which of course I piled on and smiled for pictures. We had a great time and the very best part was that everyone there understood and jumped in on our cancer humor; were we whistling through the graveyard? Maybe, but if the alternative was sitting in the dark, rocking and crying over this fate...I'll take my friends at Hooters any day.

And the celebration didn't end there. I had been corresponding with a former high school classmate, who hosted me on my runaway trip to Hawaii. I spoke with him after our party and learned that when he finished work, he went to the Honolulu Hooters, all by himself at a table for one.  Not a drinker, he probably had a Coke, and when asked how he was doing, he explained he was at a party. My party. Thousands of miles and 6 time zones away, I had support there too. He hadn't told me he was going to do it but that was so perfect for the situation and participating in my drama in his own wacky way. 

Relationships change. Some of the people who held me so tightly that night are off to their own lives now. Some became even closer, if only because we realized we got one another's humor. But who they were that night and how their energy bolstered me created a lifetime bond. I do hope they all take care of their pair (one friend is a relative of TTF and she did my mammograms) All I know is I entered the surgical suite knowing the outcome was inevitable but I had plenty to say about how I would handle it. 

I never asked "why me"?  I think I knew from he first that I could handle it. I hope that somewhere there's a woman who stayed healthy because she didn't have a year to be otherwise. I don't know who she is, but if it's you, please go do something extraordinary. I've got your back

Friday, August 17, 2012

Reflexology for Dogs

Who knew?

I have been a Certified Massage Therapist for about 6 years, and a dog mom for 4 1/2...and I am just learning that you can (and, apparently, should) do reflexology for your dog!

I knew about massage for puppies. Katie gets massage every day, and blogs about it on my company website She hasn't updated much lately...that no opposable thumbs thing. But she has short legs and a long body, which makes any fearless leap from the sofa, a bed, the car - any leap - a matter of concern for her spine. A friend in California has 3 Shih Tzus and 2 have been to the doggie chiropractor for back pain.

Yes, I said doggie chiropractor. This isn't even a California thing - Google it and see what pops up - they're everywhere! The website for a national registry even recommends routine chiropractic care for animals.

I also knew essential oils can benefit pets too. I use Young Living Essential Oils in my practice and attended conference 2 years ago, unfortunately playing hooky when I should have attended the breakout on Oils & Pets. Thankfully there is a brochure, which I ordered and received today, outlining which oils to use for what for our four-legged friends. That's where I learned there are reflex points on a dog's pads, similar to those on people. Reflexology for dogs.

The oils are applied to the hind leg foot pads, and there are different points on the right and left foot. Katie, weighing about 19 pounds, should receive oils at a 75% dilution. Horses and ruminants (I have no idea what ruminants are) receive full strength. Reptiles and amphibians are at a 95% dilution. Where are the hind legs on a snake? Just wondering...anyway, you can even use the oils on your pet fish (I know - no legs) but that's a really weak dilution.

And these oils are used not just for physical ailments like itching and arthritis. If Katie seems depressed, I know now what to use. Cognitive disorders in your lizard? I have the chart! Laugh if you must, Katie will soon be the most well-adjusted dog on the planet - without chiropractic!

Just filing this in the Who Knew file. I love my work and the amazing things I learn about it.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

What's In A Name

Beginning a blog, and beginning to follow other blogs, is an education unto itself.

For example, who knew that you make up names for the people in your post? I guess you don't have to, but the blogs I have been reading do, so I think I will too. But...that opens a whole new can of worms.

My sisters are easy - they have been Sisty Middler and Sisty Elder to me for years (I'm Sisty Littler). A niece is always known as Princess, but I have something like 100 nieces and nephews, and not enough royal names to go around. Katie, my Shih Tzu, will just remain Katie. But for others, to whom I expect to refer from time to time, things get a little more difficult.

I had been thinking about Earthmama for my best friend, but that's way too limiting - although she is an awesome mom, she's not my mom, and although a lot of mothering goes back and forth between us, that just seems to define only one piece of who she is. We tossed it around a bit and she said "just come up with something that shows how you think of me". Well, as if that didn't up the pressure by about 1,000%. And at the same time I have to come up with something for my boyfriend, the light of my life...but Edison just doesn't quite fit him.

So of course, within minutes, she had the answer...she is my TTF, which I will not define, but which has meaning and makes both of us laugh. And, taking that to the next level, she will be referred to as Willow. Or TTF. They're interchangeable.

So, my BF. Again, something that reflects how I think of him. Pressure. But TTF helped as we tossed out a few clunkers, and at this moment we're thinking "Tiger". Possibly. It's a baseball reference, but he also loves the Lions, fishing, and Nascar. So, it may change with the seasons, but Tiger it is, for now.

Names. Friendship. Love. All so complicated, kinda like life

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


My Grandpa Yeo was an inventor. Wouldn't that just be the coolest job description to have? I think he invented fishing lures and spoons, some of which I understand are still used in the salmon fishing industry. He raised his family on Bainbridge Island, Washington, so I imagine there was a lot of salmon for dinner.

This came to mind because, on our return from a weekend trip to Muskegon, MI, we saw a road crew moving those big orange cones they use to block off a lane of traffic. On the highway, they didn't have some guy walk along and get them, or reach off a truck to snag them as I have seen in town. Instead, they had sort of a metal scoop on the front of a truck, and drove to the cone, scooped it from the lane and drove to the side of the road where it slid off into place.

Now you just KNOW some road crew person invented this. It was such an obviously safe, efficient way to do this job! Someone must have figured this out, maybe put a little diagram in a suggestion box somewhere, and there you go. Hope they got a nice big bonus.

Then there are inventions that just make you think "whaaaat? and why?" My favorite dumb invention is the Rotato. Yes, I find the name as stupid as the thing itself. You were supposed to stick a potato on this devise and crank the handle to peel the potato all in one long piece. They didn't work that well, and even if they did - why? Yes, peeling potatoes isn't a ton of fun, but lining up a lumpy potato and getting the blade JUST RIGHT - well, the potato they used in the ad is probably the only one that actually fit.

And yes, I unfortunately had one. Someone gave it to me as a housewarming gift. It sat on a shelf for a while and was finally donated, unopened, to Goodwill.

Inventions. Some are great. Grandpa Yeo's supported a large family in a beautiful setting. And some just need to be recycled.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Meet Clementine

When I first felt a small lump in my breast, I really didn't have time to be sick. I made notice of it, thought "hmmmm", and flew to California where my Dad was dying. I think I went out there twice, and when he passed, taking with him 95 years of my history (and prehistory, I guess), I went back to REAL LIFE

That lasted about a month. Clementine, as my lump came to be known, made herself known by quadrupling her size in three months and making my arm hurt. As it turned out, she even had a friend in there with her, a regular party going on.  I slithered in to see my doctor with...oh, I'm fine, but there may be this lump here...sidled back out with an appointment to be attended by a specialist. Nobody was saying "oh, it's probably nothing". The only question seemed to be how much, how bad, and how to get rid of it.

The week between those appointments was the last slow moving thing I remember

The tests and biopsy were on Thursday. Friday I got the call...cancer. Hmmm. I don't watch much Lifetime, Movies for Women - I had no idea how to react or what I should do next. Had a weepy little rainstorm and called my bestie. We were invited to a party but now we clearly had things to discuss. Over dinner we talked about how I felt. I didn't feel anything yet, but my arm still hurt, my boob was completely black from the biopsy, and we somehow named this parasite Clementine. I looked forward to singing "you are lost and gone forever, dreadful sorry, Clementine". These are the things we talked about an hour after the diagnosis. Silly stuff that made me ME and not Cancer Girl

Then we went to the party, high on cancer giggles and adrenalin. And later, when we were leaving, a good friend gave me Clementines embodiment, a rubber troll doll whose eyes bug out when you squeeze her tummy. 

So we are at Friday night. By Monday I had appointments with a surgeon and plastic surgeon (for reconstruction, a hilarious experience deserving its own blog). By Thursday we had coordinated a surgical date about 2 weeks hence. Friday I was on a plane to Honolulu

I TOLD you things were moving fast. The Hawaiian adventure was planned Thursday night to fill the time before surgery. My doctors thought it was a hoot and a heck of a good idea. I packed light, boarded my dog, and off we went, Clementine and I

Two Years Out...

It seems fitting to begin on the anniversary of the beginning of my bout with cancer. Today, dressed in my stylin' hospital gown, waiting for a stranger to crush my remaining boob between plastic torture devises, it hit me - it was August 2010 that I realized something uninvited was inhabiting my body. Thus began my upside down year, the one where I wasn't in control, where friends and family showed me how important they are in my life, the year I spent less in fear than in wonder, surprising myself with curiosity mixed with just a little dread. Well, okay, more than a little dread, but certainly curiosity about the unknown. That was a surprise. Once the diagnosis was in and the wheels set in motion, I just kind of jumped on the carousel and went along for the ride.

At the time I was too much in the moment to write about it. Now I wish I had, but I did use Facebook as my outlet to the world, so as I add to this blog, I will be pulling from those posts, as well as poetry I wrote and emails to my closest support people.

I didn't know what direction this blog would take until sitting there today, waiting to be pressed between two slabs of plastic, I realized the import of this checkup. I'm a high-risk patient, receiving diagnostic, not routine, mammograms for the rest of my life, So there will be some cogitating on what this has been like for me, but lots of other thoughts unrelated to being Cancer Girl.