Tag Archives: leukemia

Good Night Moon

Goodnight Moon

In the great green room…

Tonight, Carlos chose “Goodnight Moon” for his bedtime book.  We haven’t read it in a few months–I never got the sense he really liked it, but what do I know?  He likes to say “mush” and “bears” and “chairs” and “yight.”  Our copy of this board book was Vivi’s favorite for a while, too, so it is soft around the edges and broke backed.  We find the mouse on every page and we whisper good nights to the kittens, the mittens, the comb, the brush, the old lady whispering hush.  When we got to “good night stars, good night air, goodnight noises everywhere,” I choked up on something that’s been making me sad all week.  

Absence.  Emptiness.  Distance.  The space between the stars.  The empty places in the trees as the leaves begin to fall.  

Goodnight Moon has been around for seventy years.  Phones and clocks don’t look like that any longer.  Who eats mush?  When I was younger, I remember seeing that book and thinking how godawful the colors were.   And the plot!  Bleh.  Now I find such peace in that tidy room.  Margaret Wise Brown takes the fear and loneliness of darkness and going to sleep and turns them into cozy comforts.  That room’s never lonely even when it’s quiet.  

I’ve been lonely this week with G out of town.  I’ve been really proud of myself for taking care of the family single-handedly and hitting all my marks.  But I had a few conversations about grief/loss/change/sorrow this week that got old feelings bubbling up, and once the kids are in bed I have all this time and quiet on my hands.  I walked downstairs the other day to retrieve something for Vivi and passed a picture of Richard’s and my feet propped on a balcony in New Orleans.  I sobbed before I knew what was happening because that big toe doesn’t exist anywhere in the universe any longer.  Our waitress at Steak and Shake wanted to talk about leukemia when she saw Vivi’s tshirt.  I met my fundraising goal in his memory and his mother wrote me to say that it warms her heart when I do that every year.  His classmate sent in a donation.  So did people who never met him and only know him through my stories.  

When I carried Carlos to bed, he held Goodnight Moon in both hands, clutched to his chest.  After I tucked him in under his monkey quilt that my high school friend, Valaria, made for him, he seemed to be drifting off.  I took the book and put it on the table.  In the dark of his great yellow room, he wailed, “MY BOOOOOOOOOOK!”  I brought it back to him and he laid it across his chest.  

As I was washing dishes and crying for people I know who are hurting and for things that have gone away, I remembered a snippet of a song I heard 10 years ago on an Oxford American Magazine Southern Music CD:  “Goodnight moon, goodnight stars, goodnight old broke down cars.  Going away, leaving soon, goodnight darlin’, goodnight moon.”  And lo, through the magic of Google and YouTube, I got to hear the song again tonight while the dishes dripped dry.  

It’s by Will Kimbrough.  Here’s a clip of Will singing it live at the Bluebird in Nashville:

I also liked this version.  It’s tuned higher and the arrangement is spare and elegant.  It’s Jason Vincent doing a cover of Will Kimbrough’s song “Goodnight Moon”:

After listening a few times and a few times more, I felt better.  I remembered that the same moon shines on all of us, wherever we are, whenever we are.  The moon that my grandparents kissed under is the moon that lit our path when Richard and I walked along a beach in Crete.  It’s the moon G sees in Brasil, and Erica in Chile, Rhonda in Canada, Frances in Ecuador, Beth in France, Catie in Bhutan, Marian in the Netherlands, Heather up the street, Jean a mile from her, Rachel down in South Georgia, and Ginger in Ohio.  Goodnight y’all.  Goodnight all.  

“I Want to Help People With Leukemia.”

On Friday night, Vivi walked into the den in her pink penguin pajamas.  Her fist was wrapped around a stack of four quarters.  She leaned against my knee and held out the money.  I opened my hand and she poured the coins in.

“What’s this, baby?”

“This is for my slice of cake.  I want to help people with leukemia.”

In that moment, I couldn’t hold her close enough to show her how much I love her.  I buried my face in that curly head of hair that smells like chlorine and hugged her as tight as I could.  I breathed in my daughter, the first person in my life whom I’ve loved with every cell of my being.

In that moment, I felt joy that she has a generous and loving heart.  I felt proud that she wants to contribute.  I felt sad that she knows so much about leukemia because I am her mother.

I had organized a big cake auction and bake sale at work that day for the Leukemia/Lymphoma Society.  This is the eighth year of the “Thrilla In Vanilla” and we raised $2435 in four hours.  So for days, Vivi has been hearing about the Thrilla.  She knows that I work with LLS because of Richard.  Vivi knows that Richard’s blood stopped working and it couldn’t be fixed.


Thursday night, my neighbor and friend brought over a vanilla cream cheese pound cake to donate to the auction.  It was still warm from the oven.  The divine smell permeated the house.  Of course, Vivi wanted a slice right away.  I told her it wasn’t for us–it was to raise money for the Leukemia Society.  She nagged, wheedled and puzzled about that cake for an hour.  Friday morning, when I woke her up, she opened her eyes and said, “If I give you some money, can we eat that cake?”  She was SERIOUS.  And she’s sitting on a nice wad of cash from the Tooth Fairy, so I took her seriously.

I kept my eye on the pound cake during the auction and had to outbid a couple of folks, but I won “Vivi’s Cake.”  When I picked her up from school, she asked if I had gotten the cake.  I was happy to be able to say, “YES!!!”  As we drove, I gave the kids some molasses cookies for a snack (sugar rush Friday at our house!).  Vivi asked me who had made them.  I said, “My friend, Denise.  Her husband got a blood cancer but he’s better.”

“How did they fix it?”

“They gave him medicine and his blood went back to being healthy.  The money Mommy raises helps pay for the scientists who discover the medicine.”

“Did your friend’s husband have leukemia or lymph-i-oma?”  I didn’t correct her pronunciation.

“He had myeloma–it’s the other kind of blood cancer.”

Vivi thought for a second and asked, “Is he…the same color as us or a different color?  Is he black?”

“He’s the same color as us.  White people get myeloma, too, it’s just more common in African Americans.”

That’s when when my heart sank because I realized that this six-year-old can name two blood cancers and remembered that myeloma was more prevalent among African Americans….jeez.  She knows way too much about this stuff.  I felt bad that the only reason this information has entered her consciousness is because I brought it into her life.  That’s some advanced Mom Guilt right there.

A few hours later, when we sliced into the pound cake after dinner, Vivi called the end piece with all that golden crust.  Carlos learned to say “poun’ kek!”  It was delicious–sweet and dense and rich.

But even sweeter was that moment when my first-grader, who may know too much about blood cancer for her age, paid one of her dollars for that slice of cake–to help people with leukemia.

The sad scary parts of life will come to her as they will.  I can’t stop that, no matter how hard I try.  But it’s my privilege to teach her that we can keep hoping, and giving, and believing.

My Mourning Jacket

My Mourning Jacket

My Mourning Jacket

While I was digging around in my closet to find the Cancer Pants, this silk jacket tapped me on the shoulder and asked if I might be so kind as to share its story, too.  It’s a story that goes all the way back to Berlin in World War II.  Then it rushes forward to one of the saddest moments of my life.

I’m not much for Church with a capital C, but I do enjoy old churches, especially quiet ones.  In the center of bustling Berlin, smack in the middle of its busiest shopping street–Kurfürstendamm–stands the ruin of a church.  It’s the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, built in 1892 and destroyed by Allied bombs in 1943.  The shattered tower of the original church still stands as a memorial to the war and its losses.  Next to the old tower, a new modernistic column rises from the traffic.  From the outside, I found this new tower repugnant–like a silo.  Berliners aren’t all fond of the design–it’s often called “The Lipstick and the Powder Box.”


But inside…oh inside there is peace and joy and beauty, all built pane by pane from the pain left to Germany after the war.  The walls are made of honeycomb concrete to keep out the noise from the street.  Suspended inside the honeycomb are over 21,000 panes of glass, mostly blue, but shot through with red, green and gold.  Like those beads that I talked about after the Boston Marathon bombings.

Richard and I visited there on a sunny spring afternoon.  Stepping inside was like walking inside a kaleidoscope.  I sat on one of the simple pews and let the peace enter my heart.  In that same week, we had been to Prague, where my heart was broken in the Jewish Quarter, then on to Dresden, where I faced the reality of what American firebombs had done to that beautiful city, then on to Berlin with Checkpoint Charlie, the Brandenburg Gate, and the Reich-stag.  The lime blossoms along Unter den Linden.  The pilfered archaeological treasures at the Pergamon Museum.  Everything that week was related to war and my heart had grown heavy with trying to take it all in.  This broken church gave me sanctuary.

Glass designed by Gabriel Loire

Glass designed by Gabriel Loire

It might be my imagination, but I think I recall that some of the glass from the bombed Kaiser Wilhelm Church was collected from the ruins and incorporated in the new windows.  Even it it’s not true, it should be.  

A few months after that trip to Germany, I found the “stained glass” silk jacket.  It reminded me of the blue windows in Berlin.  

Richard died on March 16, 2005, at about 6:30 in the evening.   I slept on the couch that night because I couldn’t sleep in our bed.  My cousin, Annette, came across the street, gathered up the sheets and washed them for me that night.  She knew what to do.  

After his parents woke early, I retreated to our room and closed the door.  I crawled up in the rented hospital bed, curled into a tight ball, and cried myself back to sleep.  There over the place where his heart had stopped beating.  I slept so soundly and woke rested after only two hours.  His father knocked on the door to tell me it was time to go to the funeral home and see to arrangements.  I asked if he could go without me but I had to be there–because we had married, I was his next of kin.  His own father couldn’t sign the papers.  I had to.  

I put on my stained glass jacket.  Ever since then, I think of that day, those papers, when I see that beautiful jacket.  How my hand shook and hesitated over the cremation request. The moment when I had to commit the body I had loved so well to oblivion.  How his father steadied me with the idea that this fire, this final fire, would be the thing to clear his body of the cancer he had fought so bravely.  Like a child, I wiped my tears on the sleeve of that silk jacket, and they blended with the blue, the red, the green, the gold.   

CAUTION: These Pants Cause Cancer

Cancer pantsThese are the pants that I was wearing on June 30, 2004.  That was such a busy day, a Tuesday, I think.  Maybe a Wednesday.  Richard and I had returned home from our vacation in New England, first at Linekin Bay for sailing then on Cape Cod for his cousin’s wedding.

We had so much to do after two weeks away from home–laundry, cleaning, paying bills.  I went right back to work.  I was teaching a Microsoft Access class that day.  Richard spent the day trying to get seen by a doctor to see if anyone could figure out why his vision was going blurry.

The day before we left for vacation, he cut the backyard with a push mower.  When he came inside, I noticed that he had a big red spot in the corner of his eye.  I asked a nurse friend and she said it was probably a simple burst blood vessel.  A common instance when one overexerts oneself.  It would clear up in a few days.  But it didn’t.  Over the two weeks we were away, the eye stayed red.  By the end of our trip, his vision was so blurry that he had to pull over to the side of the highway and let me drive through Boston.

Richard got in quickly with Dr. Blue, the ophthalmologist.  Dr. Blue looked inside Richard’s eyes and found what he thought was a dangerous bleed.  We spent a few hours in a panic–what if Richard lost his sight?  How could our life work if he went blind?   There was talk of going to Atlanta the next day to see a retinal specialist.  Fortunately (I guess), Richard also mentioned to Dr. Blue that he hadn’t been feeling well for a while and Dr. Blue had the foresight to order a CBC.  While I taught Access, Richard had the blood test done.  By that afternoon, Dr. Blue had called to say that we must get Richard to a hematologist that day.  A normal white cell count is between 4,500-10,000.  Richard’s was over 70,000.

We didn’t know the specifics yet, only that the doctor would be waiting on us at Northeast Georgia Cancer Care.  There was that word.  The unimaginable prospect of Richard losing his vision melted away and was replaced by that word.  We sat in the waiting room there, among those people with cancer.  I couldn’t find a single thing to read on the coffee table that wasn’t about…that.

So.  Dr. Marrano brought us back.  Richard took my hand and told me to wait in another room, that he wanted to talk to the doctor alone.  Dr. Marrano was so gentle with us that my heart went hollow.  You don’t have to be that nice and careful with someone who has anemia or an infection.

I sat in an exam room by myself.  I was so afraid that I couldn’t raise my head up and look around.  All I could see was those ridiculous pants.  Orange jungle print.  Ludicrous pants that hadn’t a care in the world.  I sat there thinking, “He’s over there on the other side of this wall and the doctor is telling him that he has cancer and I am over here trapped in this room with these incredibly obnoxious pants!”  If only, if only, if only.  If only one thing could be different.  Staring at those pants as the knowledge sank in that our normal life was over.

Dr. Marrano tapped on the door and brought Richard back to me.  The door closed behind him–I didn’t get to talk to the doctor.  Richard held my hand again and told me how it was going to be.  Looked me right in the eye and said, “I have leukemia.”  How there were lots of treatments and he had youth on his side and he was heading to Johns Hopkins for the absolute best experts in the field.  

Maybe those pants held me up.  I remember wanting to fall down in a heap.

We drove home, like people do.  I started crying at the traffic light at Prince and Satula.  He patted my hand on the gearshift.   The light changed and we moved on.

That night, we tried to find a doctor to talk to, any doctor.  My sister wasn’t answering, so we called Richard’s college buddy, Eeric.  A giant Viking of an orthopedic surgeon, but he knew how to interpret a CBC.  Richard was on one phone breaking the news to his parents.  I walked out on the deck to read the numbers to Eeric.  When I read the hemoglobin score, he sucked in his breath and whispered, “Shit.”   Normal range is about 14-17.  Richard’s was 7.  Eeric made me promise that I wouldn’t let Richard so much as brush his teeth until he had had a transfusion, which was scheduled for the next morning.

At the end of that long day, I took off my jungle print pants.  Nine years later, and they’re still hanging in the closet, with a fine haze of dust over the hanger.  I never could bring myself to wear them again–those are the cancer pants.  Couldn’t give them away either–they are part of a day in my life that will always be vivid.  Livid.  Obnoxious.  That innocent woman who walked out into the world in her ridiculous pants.  She never came back.

What’s that crazy thing in the back of your closet that you can’t throw away?

A Ship In Harbor

East Cottage at Linekin Bay Resort

East Cottage at Linekin Bay Resort

This cozy spot is at Linekin Bay Resort, a magical place in Maine where Richard and I took our last vacation together.  We had come there to sail–Richard had fond memories of a week his family had spent there when he was a kid.  At Linekin Bay, “all-inclusive” means a room with a view, world class dining AND a 16′ sailboat of your own and lessons each day, out on the waters of Booth Bay.  Weather permitting.

Nine years ago this week, I was sitting in one of those spindly chairs doing an ancient jigsaw puzzle atop that table by the window.  Richard took a nap.  The puzzle was missing a few pieces but assembling it under the quaint yellow light from that lamp soothed my cabin fever.  Incessant rain pelted the balsam trees outside.  A cold June fog settled in so thick that we couldn’t see Cabbage Island.

I had read both books that I had packed for a two week trip.  There were no TVs at Linekin.  No pool table or XBox.  The resort offered many activities–sailing, kayaking, canoeing, swimming, lobster bakes, hiking…weather permitting.  We had already gone shopping in the nearby towns.  Richard wasn’t usually one for sleeping, but that was about all there was to do.  We didn’t know that his energy was so low because of the leukemia.  I read, he slept.  I did puzzles, he slept.  We ate lobster for lunch and dinner.  He cracked and peeled mine for me because I found it ooky yet delicious.

Linekin Bay Boats

Linekin Bay Boats

The resort’s fleet of twenty sailboats lay moored just past the dock, but invisible in the fog.  I cracked the side window an inch so I could listen to the music of the halyards ringing against the masts.  A halyard is the rope with metal clips that lifts the sail up the mast.  This inland girl had never heard that term until a few days before, but I adored the sound of the word itself and the sound made by the thing, too.  To this day, that sound of wind flapping metal against hollow metal takes me back to Maine.

My puzzle was complete–minus the pieces lost years before–and there were several rainy hours to fill before dinner.  I opened the only book I could find in the guest room, a coffee table book about yachts.  Along with the dizzying pictures of boats slicing through the deep sea, my eyes so hungry for something to read found page after page of quotes about sailing and boats.

One stuck with me, that day as we floated in a fog dream, Richard already fighting an illness we couldn’t name and me anxiously pulling at my anchor.

A ship in harbor is safe — but that is not what ships are built for.
John A. Shedd, Salt from My Attic, 1928

We thought we were safe that day, but we weren’t.  I thought boredom was my greatest challenge that afternoon, but it wasn’t.  This quote came back to me a year later when I was a widow at 36.  Steering my own ship, venturing out from the harbor.  Finding out what I was built for.

One Full Summer

summer pool partyThere’s a moment in every pool party at our house when I find myself alone in the kitchen for some reason.  Maybe it’s to fetch a trash bag, or a cold bottle of wine or to light the candles on a birthday cake.  I take a second to look out the kitchen window and say “thank you” to Richard for picking out this house and for giving it to me.

He was a summer kind of person.  He loved water of any kind–ocean, river, creek, hose, rain, pool.  We were looking at another house in this neighborhood when we happened to drive past this one for sale.  “Why isn’t that one on our list of possibles?” he asked.  I figured it was out of the price range I was searching.  Richard turned the car around and drove by again, slowly.  “I think that house is on the river…”  The wheels were already turning in his head and here I sit almost 10 years later, looking out over the river that flows through the backyard.  Once he figured out there was water nearby, buying this house was a done deal.

He was so excited about owning a pool that he took a pair of swim trunks to the lawyer’s office (well, he left them in the car while we signed the papers!).  We bought the house in late October of 2003.  Even though the pool was a mite chilly by then, he dove in about an hour after closing.   As I was laughing at his freezing ass, he made a vow to get in the pool every month of the year, at least once.  And he did it.  November, December, January, February–he did a cannonball off the diving board then made a hasty retreat out the nearest side, straight into the hot tub.  March, he swam to the shallow end.  April and May, he swam a couple of lengths.

Then came June.  He hadn’t been feeling well for a month, no energy and a bad cough, but the doctor blamed it on bronchitis.  His legs were covered in bruises but he attributed them to skiing in March, yard work in April, house work in May.  It never dawned on us that they weren’t going away.  One June morning, he dove into the pool as I watched from the kitchen window.  He swam to the shallow end then stopped to lean against the wall instead of doing an underwater turn and swimming right back.  He eventually swam to the deep end, pulled himself out and lay down on the diving board in the sun.  All while I watched from the kitchen window.  Never guessing.

By June 30th, he was diagnosed with leukemia.  By July 1st, he was on a plane back to Baltimore, this time to Johns Hopkins.  After all that excitement, Richard didn’t get to enjoy a full summer with a pool.  So I try to keep it filled with people as a way of showing appreciation for the simple gift of being able to spend a day in the water.  And I pause at that kitchen window to say thank you to the person who gave me and my family this joyful home.

Outrunning Crazy

This is an essay I wrote after running my first half marathon in November 2009.  I wrote it for the women in my boot camp group (WoW! Boot Camp) so some of the references are to our little group.  I sure do miss them.  The Atlanta Half is held on Thanksgiving morning and I highly recommend it if you’re thinking of trying a half…earn yer turkey!  

half finish.pngMy girlfriends at work asked for a picture from the Atlanta half marathon.  The only one I had with me was a screen grab from www.marathonfoto.com, so I attached it to an email and sent it out.  Jo replied, “We BELIEVE you ran it…you don’t have to stamp PROOF all over the picture!”  Duh.  We both got a good laugh out of that one.

But that kind of sums up the feelings I’ve had since crossing the finish line—I still need proof.  Marti asked if I had bought a 13.1 sticker for my car and I said, “No, I need to run a couple more before I advertise it on my car.”  I saw some cute shirts at the race expo (“I know I run like a girl—try to keep up.”) but I felt like a fraud about buying one.  I wore my medal to Thanksgiving dinner, but when my father complimented me on the achievement, I said, “Well, yeah, but I finished in a blistering 2:47.”  After my brother said, “I can’t believe you ran 13 miles this morning—that’s awesome!” I answered, “I didn’t run ALL of it; I had to walk up some of the bad hills.”  When the finish line picture arrived, my first thought wasn’t of the joy and pride I felt at that moment.  I didn’t see my smile.  It was more like, “OMG, my boobs look like they are trying to hide in my bellybutton!”

Yes, ladies, this is what a lifetime of Crazy sounds like.  Welcome to the inside of my head!  Anything sound familiar?

I spent $100 for an hour of therapy yesterday and our main topic was the Atlanta half marathon.  WHAT???  Have I honestly reached a point where I need a therapist to tell me that it’s OK to be proud of myself for doing something that was hard?  She reminded me that I have a teensy weensy old habit of thinking that nothing I ever do is good enough.  True.  That it only counts if it’s perfect.  Yeah.  That even if I run 13.1 miles, I didn’t run it quite fast enough, cute enough, smart enough….  OK, maybe she was on to something.  That did sound vaguely familiar, like she was channeling the voice of my first husband.  It’s a very old tape, maybe even an eight-track, that gets triggered in my head whenever I should be proud of myself—“Good job, Ashley, but it could have been better.”  The flip side of the tape plays when I even consider doing something that scares me—“Well, Ashley, don’t do it until you can do it perfectly.  People will know you for a fool.”  The greatest gift I’ve gotten from all those hours of therapy is the ability to hit the STOP button, skip tracks and play a new song.  Like Beyonce.  

So here’s what REALLY happened on race day.

  • I ran the first mile next to a squad of Marines.  Their cadence chant was about looking fine and feeling strong and I could have kissed every one of them on the mouth for getting those words into my head.
  • In the second mile, I talked to a woman who had only been running for two months.  It was her first race ever!  I encouraged her with all the things Michael harps on about running form—chin up, chest open, drive those elbows straight back, bend forward at your ankle, hold the baby bird eggs, in through the nose…
  • By mile three, so many people had passed me that I looked over my shoulder to see if anyone was still back there.  I saw THOUSANDS of people and I giggled with glee.
  • Mile four and the towers of downtown Atlanta still looked as far away as the Emerald City at the end of the Yellow Brick Road.  But I had a target.  Just keep running.
  • I reached our hotel at mile five and there were G and Vivi, waiting in the middle of Peachtree Street to give me a hug.  Vivi sang her little song, “Go, Mommy, Go, Mommy, GoGoGo!”  I thought my heart would burst with joy.
  • Mile six, I passed a woman who was running for Leukemia Society’s “Team In Training.”  I thanked her for raising money for LLS and told her that I had lost my husband, Richard, to leukemia four years earlier.
  • Finally, at mile seven, I was starting to get tired!  I ate some of those sport jelly beans (I think the flavor was “Gag”) as I walked up that bitch of a hill in front of Piedmont Hospital.  I thought about popping in to McDonald’s for a large Diet Coke but decided that would be poor form.
  • Downhill for mile eight…whee!
  • Mile nine I heard Tami saying, “Loosey Goosey! Loosey Goosey!” so I flapped my arms over my head like a card-toting lunatic.
  • I slapped the mile marker sign on mile 10.  I had never covered more than 10 miles on training runs, so this was new territory.
  • In mile 11, downtown Atlanta, three women were chugging along in front of me. One moaned, “I can’t do it” and slowed to a walk.  I came up beside her and said, “I think you can.”  Another stranger yelled, “I think you’re already doing it!”  It felt like the way we help each other believe in ourselves in boot camp.  She went back to running.
  • At the start of mile 12, I got really emotional.  The crowds got larger and people cheered, “You’re almost there!”  My quads were screaming and I had to walk up the hill by the capitol.  I followed the course around a sharp left corner then looked up to see a small, dark-haired man standing on the sidewalk by himself.  He was wearing a Leukemia Society Team In Training coach shirt.  He looked a lot like my late husband and I started to cry right there in the middle of the street.  All I could think was:  “I can run.  I am still here.  I am alive.  Running 13 miles is not the scariest thing I’ve done in this life.”  I was grateful for how far I had come and I was filled with hope that I really was going to be able to do this.
  • I could see the 13 mile marker and I dug deep, shuffling my way up that long uphill bridge to Turner Field.  I. Would. Not. Walk.  I crested the hill under the Olympic rings.  The finish line was a few hundred yards away!  For the first time, I saw the clock and it read 2:59:11.  If I busted it, I could finish under three hours!  I took off like I had been shot out of a cannon.  I was running like Tami being chased by April.  My arms were pumping and I may have shoved a couple of people.  I streaked across the finish line at 2:59:21.  I had outrun crazy! 

Jovita reminded me later in the recovery area that I had actually run faster than that.  I forgot about subtracting my start differential!  I finished in 2:46:37, 7697th overall, 3647th for the women’s division and 449th in my age group!!!!!

miracleNow I have satisfied my homework assignment from therapy—I wrote this story.  I hereby own my accomplishment and say I AM PROUD OF MYSELF.  The shirt I should have bought at the expo said, “The miracle is not that I finished, but that I had the courage to start.”  I’m going to go out and buy myself a 13.1 sticker and I WILL put it on my car!

May we all own our victories and talk about them as much as we talk about our mistakes. 

It’s OK to succeed, it’s OK to try and it’s OK to do it imperfectly.  It’s OK to come in 7697th.