Today, I Graduated!!!

The year was 2010, and I had no idea that my life would change, once again. In February of that year,  I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I found the lump. The radiologist and my surgeon confirmed what every woman never wants to hear, “You have breast cancer”.

I proceeded to follow the recommended course of treatment. I had two surgeries, followed by six weeks of radiation. The following fall there was suspicious activity on my mammogram and so I revisited the hospital for more tests before confirming everything was OK. I was followed closely with mammograms and MRI’s for one year. After the first year, I graduated to annual appointments and mammograms.

I was on a non-steroidal aromatase inhibitor, Arimidex, for five years to suppress most estrogen and progesterone production in my body. At year five I celebrated not having to take that little pill. Another graduation moment.

The annual visits continued. I have been followed closely, by my medical team ever since.

Late last year I visited my surgeon for the last time. And today, I graduated from the oncology department. I had my last visit with my oncologist, Dr. Raja, this morning. It was a bittersweet moment as I  have grown quite fond of her and the nurses and the receptionists who have been so kind and supportive to me. I will miss them.

I also continued with alternative therapies so I could continue to heal and thrive. Along with my western Doctors, I incorporated monthly massages into my routine, along with acupuncture, chiropractics, counseling, and more. I have a background in Holistic Health Education and recognize the importance of incorporating all health modalities into any healing scenario.

Today I graduated. What does that mean for me? It means I will need to step up a little more and not rely on my annual visits. I will be responsible for my own breast exams. I will be responsible for having body awareness and recognize when things are not quite right. I will be responsible for scheduling my mammogram, annually. I will be responsible to schedule an annual visit with my primary physician. (I just found out yesterday that she has taken Scottish Dance lessons) I will be responsible for my health care. I have always been responsible for this, now I need to advocate for myself, knowing that I am the primary person responsible for all health care issues.

I will continue to be an advocate for my own health care. The words self-advocate sounds so easy but it is work to be an advocate for myself in this huge health care system. I believe in being an active member of my team. My team regarding breast cancer has now shifted to my primary physician and as always, myself.

Having gone through this experience, I have grown. I have made many new friends, who I treasure dearly. It is good to be with others who are having a similar experience. I learned to make hard and difficult choices. Life lessons are usually not very easy. And I have learned to look forward to each new day with a wee bit of joy.

Janet, Terry & Zoe do DC

 I want to thank everyone, and you know who you are, who have supported and loved me and guided me along the way. Some of my friends have died from this dreadful disease. I love them still. They were often my guide through the whole process. Without Goldie, Zoe and so many more I would have felt more alone and lost in this process. We were all a part of a website that, although still on the web, is not active. When I was going through this process we would often meet nightly in the “chat room” and discuss hard and difficult things and then laugh and tell jokes and share recipes. Three of us even planned and executed a weekend visit in Washington DC.

Today I will take time to notice this life shift. I will do a little happy dance. I may even celebrate, safely during this pandemic time.




Hope. Keeping things Merry and Bright

This year is ending and none too soon. It has been a very different year as we have all been weaving our way through the Covid Pandemic. Schools are closed-Schools are open-Nope, closed. Masks are mandatory. People protests wearing masks others ask to do it for the sake of everyone. It is difficult to visit with family in person. Social distancing is the norm. Who is in my Bubble? Zoom has quickly become the normal way of staying in touch with friends and family. The oddest one for me is trying to grasp that our loved ones cannot accompany us into the hospital, no matter what the reason.

And now-the vaccines have arrived and there is hope.

There is always hope. When my world has been at it’s bleakest, I can still see hope and a brighter day on the horizon. Hope does not have to be a large shining light, although it is nice when it happens. Hope may sometimes be just a smile or a card or a message saying hang in there, and I care about you as a valued human being on this planet. Right after Jim died hope arrived with my sister who came to spend time with me. When she left my friend Helen arrived.  Having friends that care and make their presence known is often my beacon of hope. 

More people are alone on this holiday which is often about family and friends. This year though families find it hard to get together. This year friends find it difficult to gather. I could point out all the disappointments yet I would rather look towards what has been positive for me this year. I prefer to find my way towards hope. 

I know that people with extroverted tendencies have found it hard to be alone. Some have chosen to take a chance on socializing over quarantine. I understand that. Although many of you who know me may think I am an extrovert, you could be surprised to know that I am not. I love to be with people and then I need my alone time. I spent most of this summer and fall alone in Idaho. I found I was getting stronger in the core of my being. As I was driving south in the fall I discovered comfort in who I am. There is an inner core of strength and self-confidence that has surfaced. Spending time alone has given me the gift of insight and growth. 

I have spent a lot of time outdoors. Exploring nature is a  healthy choice. Research has shown that a walk in the woods or along the shore can be healing and mood-lifting. I would agree with this. I am thankful for the most amazing places I have been to. I am thankful for the time I have taken to know the mountains, the coast, the canyons, and the deserts. Each time I am out in nature I feel a tug in my soul to be open to what is around me.

Sandhill Cranes in Flight

Nature is amazing. This summer I wandered the dry lake bed in Idaho. I would sit on rocks and logs and wait. One late afternoon I looked up just in time to have three Sandhill Cranes fly low over my head. Now that is amazing. Nature gives me hope.

Through all the craziness of this past year, I have discovered kindness in people. Neighbors helping neighbors. Strangers helping strangers. It might be nothing big. I have noticed that people are performing small acts of kindness. Someone buys another person’s coffee. Early in the pandemic, I put out a request on Nextdoor (the app & website) regarding where to buy toilet paper. Within a short time, I received enough toilet paper to maintain this household for quite some time. People added other items to their gift of toilet paper. When one person does this often there is a chain effect of kindness and generosity. Small acts of kindness give me hope. 

A new US administration arrives in January. Whether one likes this or not, change is good. Change offers hope. Hope for growth as a nation. Hope for growth as a state. Hope for growth as an individual. What a way to welcome the New Year. There is such a possibility in the unknown. Will this administration succeed? Will some of the anger subside? Oh, I hope so. At the moment, all of this is untapped potential for growth and change. It is exciting and scary all at the same time. There is hope.

Yesterday, for this non-church going individual, I attended two virtual church services. One in Ohio and one in San Diego. What was the topic of each of the sermons? Hope. I guess I am on the right track. One sermon spoke of hope as that little tiny beacon of a light way out there on the horizon. It may be tiny but it is there. 

For the end of this year and the coming year as well I wish that this spot on the horizon becomes larger and larger as we reach for the unknown New Year. 






Eight Years Ago

Jim, my Husband died on October 17, 2012. On November 17th that same year, good friends and family and I took Jim to sea, scattering his ashes out in the Pacific Ocean on an amazingly beautiful morning. There was no planned ceremony we were friends and family who had gathered, one more time, to send him off in an intimate and loving ceremony, to wish him well.

when this anniversary arrives I set time aside to reflect and remember him, before cancer, before death. I treasure the moments I had with him. We were together for 21 years. The time was too short. The time with him was valuable. The time was fun, happy, loving and complete. I miss him.

This year, for the first time, I made it through Jim’s birthday (10/10) my birthday (10/16), and his death (10/17) with little sadness. I was staying with good friends in Boise and despite my insistence to not celebrate my birthday, we did anyway. I had a red velvet cupcake. Yummy. It helps to be with friends. It helps to feel loved and acknowledge that I am cared about and valued. It really helps to be with others.

Each year when I return to San Diego I make time to dip my feet in the Pacific Ocean and say hello to Jim. I know he is not out there, yet this is the last place I put him, so I go to greet him and visit. I think of him often. I still look upon our time together as a valued gift. I loved him for twenty-one years and I love him still. I know I can carry him forward into my future. He and our relationship has shaped who I am today and it will continue to shape who I am tomorrow.

All love is to be valued and not taken for granted. This love, this relationship-Jim and I-will never be taken for granted and it certainly was about love and understanding, laughter and friendship.

Happy Birthday to me. Happy Birthday to Jim. And hello to another year. I am still moving forward. Today I am grateful for Jim, a good twenty-one years, and the continuing love and support of so many good friends. 






Coming Full Circle

Idaho Summer

Last June I left San Diego and traveled north. I spent most of the spring living with two good friends, Cynthia and Ward. I initailly moved in to help Cynthia after elective surgery. I ended staying with them through the emergence of Covid and our country in some form of lockdown. I sheltered in place with Ward and Cynthia from early March until I headed north, in June,  for a summer in Idaho.

Every year I return to San Diego to get my medical and dental work done. I get busy with appointments, doctor visits, a mammogram, and lab work.

This year I headed south driving ahead of cold weather. Eastern Idaho, nope, too cold. Northern Utah, nope, too cold.  When I reached Nevada it became much more tolerable, despite the high winds. Eventually, I made my way into San Diego and after almost two weeks at my friend, Pat’s house I have moved back in with Cynthia and Ward. I will remain here through the end of the year.

La Mesa Sunset

It is really good to have such kind and wonderful friends. I feel so honored to be part of such a good network of people throughout this country, Canada, and further. Like attracts like.

When I stayed in La Mesa I had amazing sunsets and I was close enough to walk to the “Secret Steps of La Mesa” (489 steps). It is a workout. There are actually more than one set of stairs. I would climb one and return on the other set, completing a loop back to the house.

La Jolla Shore

Bay Park (I am here now)  is close to Mission Bay and not too far from the Pacific Ocean. I can walk to the Bay. It is only a few miles away. I can hop on my bike and complete a 15-20 mile ride from my current home without a problem. Today I drove the short distance to La Jolla Shores and walked the beach at low tide. It is nice to be near the water.

I am back sheltering in place with two other people. After spending five months mostly alone, it is nice to be with others again. I enjoy the company and hope they do also. We got along well when I was here in the spring and I am sure that will be the case this time. It is nice to move into a place where I am wanted. The nice thing is if we get tired of each other, I can go camping for a few days, come back and everything will be fresh again.

Here I am for the holidays. Enjoying my semi-nomadic lifestyle, visiting friends and completing things that need to get done before I head east at the New Year and take up residence, once again in the desert.

Today I am thankful for good friends, beatiful places where nature abounds and my willingness to explore all of it.



Back in San Diego

Every year I return to San Diego for my medical and dental check-ups. On October 30 I arrived back in the city. I thought it was going to be a hard entry returning to a big city, with Covid still rampant in this country. It turns out that I had a much easier entry than I expected.

Cold weather spurred me southward. I am talking cold weather. One day in Idaho, it was in the ’70s and the next day I awoke to 14 degrees F. Well, brr…it was time to head south. By the time I reached northern Utah they were predicting single digits for the low, I kept moving south. When I reached Lake Mead in Nevada the weather was definitely more acceptable. I meandered my way south. I did a little hiking and some biking as I camped each afternoon.

Lake Mead

Hoover Dam








I met up with a friend, Peggy at the Sprouts Parking lot near Palm Springs. Practicing safe social distancing, we sat on the side steps of our rigs and chatted. Even if I can’t hug my friends I can at least visit and enjoy their company from a distance. Masks were at the ready if we needed them. It was a good visit.

As I traveled south I began to communicate with friends in San Diego. If I want to visit with my local friends I needed to let them know of my pending arrival. Pat is a very good friend of mine. We worked together, meditated together, and over time have become close. When I let her know I was on my way she offered me her San Diego home for a few weeks.  She and her sisters own a home in San Felipe, MX. As the weather cools off her family spends more and more time south of the border. She is there now and she offered me her house in San Diego. I am here until November 10. This house sits on a hillside and I get amazing views of the sunset every night.

A friend of mine said I am lucky to have such good friends who offer me their homes and other opportunities. I don’t know if I consider this luck. I believe like attracts like. I am offered these opportunities because I am a person of value and worth. My friends are people of value and worth. I am honored that people offer me wonderful and unique opportunities and their homes. I value each gift that comes my way. It makes me feel treasured and loved. I treasure and love those that are part of my life.


Each and every day I am thankful and grateful for my friends. I am grateful for their love and ongoing support. I treasure them.



Finding Lessons Everywhere

This past summer I became involved in an online game for photographers called GuruShots. I have belonged to this site for a while, using it as a way to explore what photographers are doing and expanding my skills and knowledge. This past summer I decided to join a team and explore what this aspect of the game was about.

The team chooses a theme challenge and competes against another team. For example, the current theme is “24 Hours”. The challenges last from a few hours to a day. What do we win? Knowledge, points, and a progression up the board of the game.

I joined the Photography Friends team. I chose this team because of the team description.

“Our team objective is to share in the joy of photography and learn from each other in a friendly atmosphere. Although winning matches and advancing our team is great, it is not our primary goal. If this sounds good to you, please join us.”

I have been learning a lot. I have discovered photos that I had forgotten about and have been amazed at some of my work. I have also been making new friends from around the world.

“Freedom” was the theme of a challenge a few weeks back. The team chose it because it seemed to be an easy challenge to find photos that represented the theme. I began to think about what freedom meant. It would be easy to put up a photo of an eagle or the Flag. This is an international community and those photos lose their meaning once you embrace the world.

I entered photos and they did well. Do I think they represented the topic? No, not really.

These are the four photos. You can double click on them to enlarge them.

Freedom means more to me with each passing day, during this current state of affairs in this country. Freedom means that my voice is heard. When did this country stop respecting the freedom and respect of religious choice? Freedom means I can walk down the street and feel safe and secure. I may feel safe and secure, yet not everyone has that choice and that walk is not free to all.

Freedom means one thing to people with wealth. Freedom may have another meaning to someone homeless and on the streets or existing on a low-income wage.

The more I thought of this contest and the pictures I added the more I felt like I copped out. This was an opportunity for me to address freedom. It may have taken more effort to go out and find symbols of freedom to photograph. What would those symbols be? The freedom to protest. I believe I could have found a symbol of this today. Black Lives Matter. There would have been many opportunities to find symbols of religious freedom. A photograph of the word Voice would have been appropriate and meaningful.

What began as a simple contest evolved into much more as I began to contemplate what freedom really means to me, to this country, and to the world.

Today I would like to commit myself to help others experience freedom without fear. Today I am grateful to experience freedom in all its unique and usual forms. I also make a promise to myself not to cop out when a topic such as this surfaces again.

Rounding up the Wagon, Heading South

Tomorrow, Wednesday, I am reluctantly leaving Idaho for points south. Why? This weekend it is suppose to drop to the teens (F) at night and the temperature is also going to be chilly during the day. I don’t do cold and I don’t do snow. It is time to head south.

A Beautiful Fall Day

It is hard to leave Idaho. I love the country here, yet more importantly, I love my friends Linda and Steve. I have felt safe and secure in their borrowed home about 2 hours north of Boise. I have been in Boise at their full-time home for the past couple of weeks. I have enjoyed the company and the ease of our companionship. We have walked and hiked and talked a lot. Linda and I are both birders so we have been out searching for the birds and enjoying beautiful fall days.

Now it is time to venture south. Before I do, however, I will be heading east and to the Camas Wildlife Refuge to find the Sandhill Cranes. I love them. I follow those birds everywhere. The best part of heading four hours east is… Linda will be taking her Roadtrek and joining me. We are both photographers and bird watchers. It is fun to have company to explore a new area. It is fun to have someone to ooh and ahh with. I am looking forward to the company and the fun.

Sandhill Cranes

Friday I will drive south looking for warmer weather. By the end of the month, I will arrive in San Diego. I will get all my medical and dental checkups done, visit with friends (from a safe distance). No later than January I will head east to the California Desert and points east. It is desert season.

The adventure of my current lifestyle continues. I am getting ready to get on-the-road. I hope you will continue to follow along on my adventures. 



How Plans Can Change in a Moment

This morning I drove to McCall to pick up my groceries and run a few errands. Everything was fine. I began the return trip to Donnelly and all of a sudden my rig wouldn’t go over 45 mph. What!!! I had trouble getting my sweet girl to get up the minor hills. I was glad to get her back to the house.

With one phone call to Coach-net, my roadside assist, they gently and kindly took the decision making out of my hands. After a few conversations, they had contacted Mercedes Benz in Boise. After another conversation, I found that the towing will be included. It is 94 miles to Boise from here so I am thankful for the free tow. Did you know that if you have work done on your Mercedes within a year Mercedes will free tow your vehicle? Sweet!!! Coach-net told me the towing would be covered no matter what. Sweet!!!

Now I have an appointment with Mercedes Benz in Boise for the third week of this month. I am going to winterize my rig, just to be safe. Next week they will pick up my rig and tow it to Boise. My friend Linda and the owner of my summer home in Idaho is coming to pick me up next week. Together we will winterize the rig, and close the house for the winter. I have a home to wait in in Bosie while I wait for the rig. I have friends to visit and stay safe with. Maybe I will even get a cat, back on my bed.

Small town living has its bonuses. I called the Chamber of Commerce in McCall to inquire about rental cars. They guided me to the local small airport. They will have a car for me tomorrow. Since I don’t have a way to get to McCall they are coming to pick me up. Small towns are marvelous for personal service. I am feeling blessed. I am thankful for being in a small town where everyone will pitch in and help.


This afternoon I am thankful for so much. I am thankful that I was not on the road somewhere remote and distant. I am thankful I was able to drive my rig, slowly and carefully back to my summer home. I am thankful for Coach-net who took me into their hands and guided me to the right contacts. I am very thankful for Linda and Steve who are taking me into their home in Boise. First, they offer me this place and now their home. It is good to have such good friends.

Things can change at a moment’s notice.


An Idaho Adventure Approaches an End

Coming to an end. So much of my life is about coming to ends. So much of my life is about beginnings. My summer Idaho adventure is coming to a close. Each time the temperature drops I think about leaving. Then the temperature warms up and I make the decision to stay longer. Fall is a glorious time to be in the mountains. It is warm during the day and chilly at night and the colors of the trees are changing.

I have had a quiet, relaxing, and wonderful summer here in the mountains of Idaho. It is hard to leave. I like being in the country. I like riding my road bike for miles and not have to worry about cars. I can hike a trail or take a walk and not see another soul. I have walked more than hiked. I love being able to walk outside my door and go.

I love that people are nice to me when I have adventured into the public. These adventures in public have been minimal. I see my chiropractor-he is the only one who I see on a regular basis (masks up, hands cleaned and table wiped down). Every Wednesday I go to the Farmers Market in Donnelly (managed by nurses, masks, and social distancing a must).

I have not always been happy being alone yet as the summer and early fall have progressed I have found comfort within myself. I have finally given myself time to grieve over the loss of Elsie. I can finally look at pictures of her and smile. I am still working on the guilt of leaving the RV door open, yet even that is softening. Things are hard at times in all of our lives. The country and the kindness of people have helped me soften and be kind to myself.

I have adventured out. I have discovered places that I love and return to often. As the Cascade Lake and Reservoir has drained due to lack of rain and need of water for the cities south of here, the dry-lake bed has become one of my favorite places to explore. I have gotten mucky and dirty, yet I return there again and again. The birdlife has been wonderful. Noone else is nearby. I can spend hours on the dry-lake bed.

I usually walk to the lake at least three times a week. I found the Sandhill Cranes active on the dry bed and they alone, draw me back time and again. There are large flocks of White Pelicans that entertain me every time I am there. They are beautiful to catch mid-flight. I am not so good at identifying the myriad of ducks but love to see them doing their duck things and catch them in flight. It is peaceful and relaxing. I spend a lot of my time sitting and waiting to see what will happen next. Waiting is what wildlife photographers do best. The cranes are so quiet in flight (as long as they don’t make a sound), and often surprise me when they fly right over my head.





A few weeks back the owners of the house and dear friends came for a week. Linda and Steve have been social distancing in Boise. Steve works for Micron where they test their employees frequently. Linda is recovering from medical issues so she has been distancing. After some discussion, we decided that we would be OK to be in the same house. Isn’t it interesting that this has to be part of the subject of conversation now?

Dusky Grouse

We had a good low key week together. Like many places in the western US Idaho has been dealing with smoke. The week that Linda and Steve were here the valley was smoked in. The smoke was not encouraging us to go out yet, we did manage an adventure into the mountains north of here. It was a special moment when we saw a dusky grouse near Upper Payette Lake.

I absolutely enjoyed the company and am planning to camp in their driveway in Bosie for a few days when I leave here. It is good to have good friends that like and enjoy my company as much as I enjoy theirs. To top off the visit I also had the company of three cats and Poncho the Pooch. The true delight for me? Misty the cat slept on my bed every night. It was so comforting and a delight to have a warm body next to me once again. Needless to say, I enjoyed the company of a kitty on my bed once again.

Over the past week, I have been getting my rig ready to roll. Cleaning, dusting, washing, waxing, and more. She is beginning to look spiffy. She is looking like she is ready to roll.

As I enjoy my last days here, this year, I am looking forward to the next new adventure, another new beginning.

A Teaching Moment

Yesterday I took a bike ride. I rode one of my favorite routes to Cascade Lake. I like to go to this State Park Day Use area, sit on the rocks and watch the activities on the lake. I started out in the partial sun and arrived back at my current home in smoke-filled skies. What a change a few hours can make.

Something I will never do.

As I was riding on the paved trails I encountered a small garter snake. It was trying to cross the path as I was biking by. If you have read my previous post Snakes! you know that I am not fond of snakes. In fact, I am a bit afraid of them. They always surprise me and cause my heart to race.

Here is this poor snake, it sees my bike and I see the snake. I immediately think “Oh my God, I am going to run over this snake and it is going to get stuck in my spokes and be tossed on me. I freaked. The snake freaked. It started to squiggle back and forth rapidly on the trail, not knowing what direction to head to avoid that big object coming at it. Know that this all happened in a few moments of time.

After this event I began to think of this poor snake, rapidly moving back and forth on the trail trying to escape my bike and find safety. It finally succeeded and moved off the trail into the undergrowth. I was thankful and I imagine it was thankful too.

How many times have I done this in my life when confronted with the unknown and challenges and stressful moments? Do I move rapidly in many directions before I finally recognize the obstacle and figure a way to overcome the situation I am in? How long do I move back and forth and go through the darkness of indecision before I finally find my way out of my predicament? Is it a split second, days weeks, or years?

I believe that as humans we all do this at times in our lives. When confronted with the unknown or stress or the need to make a decision, we have to move back and forth and around, trying to figure out the best approach to find the most correct result. Sometimes the best thing we can do is move back to where we previously were. Sometimes we force ourselves forward to achieve that next goal or slip through the obstacle that confronts us. Sometimes we slither back and forth rapidly on the trail.

Avoiding decisions or opportunities is not possible, something will move us forward. We have to move in one direction or another. If one approach doesn’t work then it is important to look at other possibilities. Just like that little, harmless snake, we try out different things until the right way presents itself.

Who knew that this moment in time would give me reflection on a much larger and broader subject. I have thought about this snake a lot since I saw it yesterday. Symbols are important to me. Sometimes one word or act allows me to see the much larger picture or the smaller details. Maybe this garter snake was simply feeling everything out in a nanosecond and unconsciously chose the quickest way out. For me, it represented a bit more than the quick way out. It gave me the opportunity to reflect on this topic.

Cascade Lake

Today I am thankful for all living things.