My Brother’s Cancer Journey

iowaspring1Iowa is beautiful, even in late winter, early spring. Granted, it’s cold, and the gray days so far are quite a contrast to my usual daily dose of bright California sun. From having grown up here, I know the Iowa gray can go on all too long this time of year when everyone is ready for spring.

I’m here with my youngest brother, who is 49 years old, and has cancer according to the medical people. It has been tough going on many levels.  He is struggling to keep weight on, struggling to breathe, struggling to keep a positive attitude, struggling to accept his situation, struggling to walk, struggling to accept so much assistance, struggling to sleep, and most of all, to live.

His having cancer changed the landscape of our family quite suddenly.  There we all were, going about our days and nights as if all we had to do was “the usual” and then we found out he was not well.  We were having “lah-de-dah” conversations about the weather and “what did you do today?” which took a sharp and unexpected turn into conversations about how to live life fully, how to help someone else do the same, and what really matters in a day.iowalandscape

The mood — the frame of mind among family members on any given day here at the hospital — varies. Wondering if he will live at all is at the top of the list some days.  On other days, all things considered, he looks pretty good.  If you’re reading this, there is a good chance you know the “ebb and flow” I’m talking about.

I have a renewed appreciation for the nurses and doctors who do this service for my brother and for others every day in the oncology wing.  Being here with him and his process is my lesson in letting go.   How he is dealing with the cancer, his treatment choices – all of it is different than I would choose. That is what I think, but I don’t know, because I don’t have cancer and I have never walked in his shoes.

So here I am, hooking up his feeding tubes, learning how to disinfect the ports that carry the “nutrition” into his body, doing driving errands, transporting his children, or doing household chores.  My brother’s wife is carrying on the family business so they have an income. The tasks I’m doing seem very small, and they are, but every little bit helps.

Now he is home and having chemotherapy on a weekly basis.  He is on the least-invasive, most tolerable drug possible, because he has lost so much weight and getting him stronger is the number one goal now. Finding food he can face eating is quite a challenge.  He’s hungry, but nothing seems to sound delicious.  Truly good food, fully nutritious food, natural food — all of this seems to be a big turn off. How curious, since it seems that is what could possibly help him recover.  Again, I don’t know.  I have no idea.

Maybe the information I have about cancer can be helpful to someone else.  I will post more soon. In the meantime, listen to your heart.  Follow your heart. Imagine yourself looking back on your life.  What will you be glad you did?  Get to know your loved ones.  Have honest conversations.

Terriiowagrainbinsbarn

 

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Going Flourless: Peanut Butter Chocolate Cookies

Who da thought? A cookie with no flour and no butter? And a  very GOOD cookie?  Impossible! Not impossible — in fact the recipe is printed below! Just how good are these cookies?  They were so good I forgot to take a picture of them.  They were beautiful.  (Sure, Terri…)  Really they were. All I have is a photo (see below) of how happy you’ll probably be when you eat them.  Sorry, it’s the best I can do for an illustration! At my house, these crunchy-yet-soft-and-smelling- like- heaven delicacies disappeared so fast that the thought of taking a photo truly never entered my mind.  Let’s say I was too busy tasting and marveling about the flavor and texture….And, NO!  I did not eat them all.  That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it. My family, who is pretty traditional when it comes to favorite cookie recipes, LOVED THESE.  A big hit all around. And six ingredients.  What could be simpler?

Flourless Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup super chunky peanut butter (the chunkier, the better) 1 cup (packed) dark brown sugar 1 large egg 1 teaspoon baking soda 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 1 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips (about 6 ounces). Use your favorite kind — mine were organic square chocolate chips from a health food store, not too sweet.  Delicious.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix first 5 ingredients in medium bowl and then mix in chocolate chips. Form dough into balls using 1 tablespoon (generous) of dough or more for each cookie. 2 T. works fine, but avoid the temptation to make really large cookies. You’ll see why.  Read on.

Arrange on 2 ungreased baking sheets, spacing 2 inches apart.

Watch the cookies carefully — do not over bake. This is a key to this recipe. Bake cookies until puffed, golden on bottom and still soft to touch in center, about 10 to12 minutes. Cool on sheets 5 minutes. This is important — you can’t take them off the sheet at first. They just fall apart. Wait patiently, it’s worth it. Then transfer to racks and cool completely.

Store in airtight container at room temperature. Totally fabulous the next day as well.

Go on, have a few. These beauties will make you young again, for sure!  Right — youth and happily ever after in a darn cookie.  Works for me.

happygirl

Adapted from a recipe from my very favorite online recipe box — www.epicurious.com.  Enjoy!  Please pass the plate… Continue Reading

Faster Than A Speeding Bullet

Today’s post will be short. Because I have no time. birdliftoff21Or is it that all I have is time and it is FLYING by? A day is a blink of an eye, a week is a deep breath, and a year — well, let’s not think about that. I feel as if my personal lift off could happen any minute now! If my life goes any faster, I’ll grow wings, I’m sure. Many scientists and brilliant nerd Earth-Studiers have concluded that time is actually speeding up (collapsing).  They say that for spinningearth1thousands of years, the pulse or heartbeat of the Earth (Schumann Resonance) has been 7.83 cycles per second, which has been used as a standard.  Since 1980, however, the resonance has slowly changed to over 12 cycles per second, which translates this way:  the old 24 hour day?  It’s gone.  We now perceive a day with 16 hours.  That’s why it feels like life — your day, your month, your year —  is speeding up.  It is.  It’s not your imagination, promise. I must admit, I have occasional visions of some playful God-Child far, far away with a very long arm, reaching over into our galaxy (his big playground) to give his itty-bitty Earth-Top an experimental  spin, just to mess with it a bit and see what happens with his bright blue toy.  You know little boys and how they learn — they have to “see what happens!” But I digress.  And then!  There is information about the rotation of the Earth coming to a screeching halt (as in no longer rotating — actually being still)  for 3 days when we reach 13 cycles per second.  Yikes.  What does that mean?  Will we all fall over like dominoes when the Earth stops? Know one really knows. But wait, that’s not all!  If you order now, you get the following! THE WHOLE DARN WORLD will turn and rotate in the other direction. Some say — hey I’m just researching! — this is when we enter the 4th dimension, a new world where our thoughts will manifest almost instantly. But that’s another story for another (blink) day. This is all too far too much for a Friday morning.  Maybe I’ll just go back to bed. Might as well just relax, don’t you think?  Time and the world is gonna do whatever it’s gonna do.  But just for the record, from everything I’ve read, I would recommend thinking VERY positively. Easy does it, Terri kittensleeping Continue Reading

A Little Action Everyday Goes A Long Way Toward Happiness

This is something we have been talking about in my family lately — this little thing called Maintenance. No, not exactly hammers, orange traffic cones and tool belts, toolbeltwomanbut yes — when an area of your life is not working all that well, you take a look and say, “Hmmm, look at that!  I bet I could do that a little differently if I just put a daily dose of my valuable attention there.” Here’s another way of saying it — You take a little action every day in a particular area of your life that ultimately makes you a happier and healthier person. This action is something you do just for yourself and your own satisfaction, which benefits YOU directly in the future.  This is a little something you do NOW — and five years from now you will be very glad you did what you did, and yes, it happened a little at a time.  Nothing radical.  Just little daily steps in the direction of happiness for you. (Think long term small initial investment with a big return on the other end.) This is clearly not rocket science, but it takes consistent, dedicated bigcatsleepingeffort in an area where you might be a little asleep at the wheel.  I know there are places where I’m most certainly snoozing.  How about you? So first — and this is important! —  poke around a bit in your life and see where you are really happy.  Notice how you support yourself in these areas and notice how well you do it.  Thank yourself, acknowledge yourself, give yourself a HOORAH! and a pat on the back. Perhaps you LOVE long baths with candles, your favorite bubbles, and no time limit.  It’s just your thing.  You love it, and you give it to yourself at least once a week no matter what.  One of my consulting clients does this.  She will take time before she goes out on Saturday evening, or before she tucks herself in.  One long bath is a pleasure that lasts — for her — for the whole week.  Her week goes better when she takes time for that long pampering session. orangecrownedwarbler2One of my friends takes time to smell the roses every day, literally.  She walks outside with her morning cup of coffee (no to-do list in hand!) and enjoys  the spikes of color in her backyard. She smells them, touches the soft petals.  She notices the amazing and brilliant color in the morning light.  On special occasions, the hummingbirds dive  in for a surprise sip of nectar. Perhaps you have a well-maintained car.  You rotate your tires, change the oil, get it serviced regularly, and keep it clean as a whistle. There’s a schedule.  You follow it.  And guess what?  Your automobile runs beautifully and looks great.  You never have car trouble.  You’re always happy to have people in your car.  You never have to move piles or dog leashes or wrappers from what you were eating a few days ago.  Your car always looks clean and welcoming.   You’re one of those folks that says, “Sure, I’ll drive” and everybody jumps in. I recently made a new ALDA (A Little Daily Action) deal with myself.  Exercising regularly is pretty easy for me now because I made a deal with myself 4 years ago.  I go to the gym 3-4 times a week (pilates, yoga, light weights, the treadmill) and when I don’t feel like the gym, out comes the small trampoline trampolinebaby2and iPod, or I walk my dogs (not just sauntering along, either!), or I do something that gets my heart going for at least 30 minutes.  That’s my deal with myself, and I am SO happy about it.  This has made all the difference.  I feel good.  When I walk, I can feel all the muscles in my body working together — I love that feeling! — and I don’t think I’ve felt that since I was in my late 30’s or early 40’s.  I’m actually stronger now than when I was younger. From this happy and satisfied place, I look  forward to the next shift I’m about to make.  Try this — make new shifts from a place of being happy about how you already are.   This is the opposite of pushing against a failure in an attempt to improve, which is hard work  — and it doesn’t work.   (Take diets for instance — regaining the weight as soon as the diet is over.) Coming from a place of satisfaction and joy and self-approval, ANY action taken is about a hundred times more effective.   How fabulous is that! So, here I am, happy with my exercising. It’s easy and makes me feel good.  I’m strong and flexible. Now what?  Here’s what! I wouldsunshining enjoy the feeling of being lighter in every way.   Lighter body, lighter thoughts, lighter attitudes, lighter outlook.  Lighten up! So during my day, I will shine a light on my state of mind.  Do I need that snack I’m heading for or am I simply worried or uptight?  What thoughts, what point of view would allow me to  “lighten up?”  How can I feel better right now just by seeing things in a more positive way? Again, a little action every day.    I did it with exercise, I can do it here.  What will happen?  I have no idea!  It could be that I begin to pass up food that I don’t really need.  It could be that I feel better, even when times get tough or there are challenges in the family.  My younger brother in Iowa is recovering from surgery and some rather serious physical circumstances.  How will things change if I look for a better feeling every time I think about him?  What will happen if I see all of his strength every time I think about him?  I don’t know, but I’ll be happy to report back to you. And this is an important point — the “I can do it” part.  You’ve done it before.  You have the skill — make sure you find examples of your success with change.  (If you can’t find them, ask a friend who knows you well — they’ll tell you plenty.)  Bookmarking your successes turns off that (unkind) voice in your head.  Transfer your skill to this area where you’ve been a little sleepy-eyed.onthewater So these are the things I will be looking at in the days to come.  I’ll give you a report in a few months!  I’m curious about what changes I’ll see in myself and others as I go.   Want to participate?  Want to go for some new change in your life?  You can do it.  Look around for evidence that you already know how to make an important change!  Send me a report or ask questions — I’d love to hear how this is working for you.happykids2 Terri Crosby Continue Reading

Cooking When You’re Home for Hours

divider1 When it’s a work-at-home-day or when other reasons beckon you to stay home in the warmth and comfort of your fuzzy slippers, when you want to hunker down, or batten down the hatches in preparation for a storm (real or imagined or emotional), it’s good to put something tasty in the oven.  Hopefully, it will take hours to cook and fill your home with delectable smells of what’s to come. There is a very easy way to do this.  Buy a chicken — a roaster.  Not one of those itty- bitty fryers, even if you’re cooking for one.  (I’ll give you easy ideas for freezing and/or using the leftovers.) Roasters take longer to cook.  This is the whole idea! Also get some baking potatoes, organic preferably. Scrub them and set them aside to dry a bit. So you’ve got a chicken and potatoes.  Rinse the bird under the faucet, put it in the baking pan and pat it dry with a paper towel.  Make sure you’ve removed any giblets in the main cavity of the bird.  Rub the chicken with olive oil. Then rub, slather or sprinkle the chicken with ANY ONE of the following: 1. A spice-rub that you might have on hand.  Penzey’s Spices has many of these.  BiCentennial, Southwest, and Northwoods Seasoning are just three of my many favorites. I love this company and there’s nothing better than opening an order from them and indulging in opening the jar of nutmeg for a whiff!! Their spices are so fresh!  (Did you know that a spice you buy in a grocery store can already be a year old??? Yikes.) http://www.penzeys.com/cgi-bin/penzeys/shophome.html.   You won’t believe the difference.  You’re so welcome. 2. OR Fresh or dried herbs you have on hand.  Again, check out Penzey’s for the dried herbs — they have heavenly Tarragon! herbs-growingIf you have a Rosemary bush outside your door or down the street, all the better.  Take a few big sprigs, rinse under running water and shake off.  Strip the leaves off (hold the sprig at the top and strip from top to bottom.) Chop. Put all over the outside of the chicken and throw a generous size sprig or two into the cavity. Sprinkle with salt and fresh ground pepper. 3.  OR Mix 1 tablespoon of paprika and 1/2 teaspoon of salt with 1/2 cup of sour cream.  Slather it all over the chicken.  Yes, I know it looks gross at this stage, but wait until it bakes.  Yum. 4. OR Tuck leaves of fresh Sage and about 10 chopped cloves of garlic under the skin on the breast.  Simply separate the skin from the breast meat by sliding one finger between the skin and the meat.  Loosen and clear away the connective tissue and voila!  You’ve got room for spices. Put the Sage and garlic there.  Squeeze lemon juice mixed with a tablespoon or two of olive oil all over.   Add salt and pepper. Put the baking potatoes rubbed with a little olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper around the bird. Put all into a preheated 350 degree oven. Many recipes say 20-25  minutes per pound  for roasting a chicken, but I find for a 5-6  lb roaster, it takes longer than that per pound, about 2-1/4 to 2-1/2  hours total.  If the legs move easily, and the juices run clear (or almost) you’re good to go.  Always let the bird sit about 10 minutes before carving. SAVE the drippings.  Put the bird on a plate to carve and pour all the drippings into a glass container and put in the refrigerator.  Tomorrow you’ll skim off the grease that rises to the top and you have the most delicious ready-made sauce in the world.  See below for uses.
Final Product!

Final Product!

Oh, and the leftovers! 1. If you don’t have hungry mouths around to finish up the chicken, take several servings and put in separate freezer ziplock bags, label them with the contents and date and freeze.  Put a little of the defatted drippings into the bag, like a tablespoon or two. 2. Make any kind of pasta (wheat, kamut, rice) and add the chicken and a veggie and a little of the pan drippings (without the fat).  Delicious. 3. Buy a cheese or vegetable  pizza and add the chicken to it and bake. Or use a tortilla (corn, wheat, spelt, Ezekiel) and make a baby pizza. pizza3Start with pizza sauce or fresh tomatoes. Then add a little garlic, leftover veggies, the chicken and ANY kind of cheese –crumbled feta, small dollops of soft goat (chevre) cheese, grated cheddar, parmesan, fresh or regular mozzarella. The possibilities and taste sensations are endless. 4. Have a warm chicken salad.  Warm the chicken gently, then add it to your favorite purchased or homemade Vegetable salad. 5. Put chicken in your morning omelette or have breakfast for dinner! What’s your favorite way to use leftover chicken?  Let me know! To all things gustatory, Terri Crosby Continue Reading

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