A Gym Where Nobody Knows My Name

Chances are, you’ve been a member of a gym or fitness club sometime in your life. You probably made some friends and they helped motivate you to work out. What do you do when you burn out even though everyone knows your name?

My gym experience started in an auspicious way. I snuck into Vic Tanny – the first fitness chain in the US – a few times with a friend to use the hot tub for my notorious knee injury in the 80’s. One day, I got busted. I threw up my hands and signed up. Best thing I ever did. I’ve continued to belong to fitness clubs ever since. I joined the last one to meet others from my neighborhood. I played competitive tennis as a member until diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer and subsequent double boobectomies in 2013, but it was a partial knee replacement a year later that really slowed me down. I tried physical therapy, fitness classes, and yoga, but nothing made the impact I needed to get back into fighting shape.

Typical day in 2016:

“Come on, let’s go to class,” I said to myself.

“But I’m in the middle of writing,” myself countered.

“You’re always writing,” I said.

“In a minute.” I adjusted my focus back on the computer and another day passed.

In January, I set reasonable goals for myself. All are within my own control. Priority #1 is to become fit and strong once again. How would I accomplish my goals if I couldn’t motivate? After being a member for sixteen years, I needed a change.

My kids are members of 24 Hour Fitness, so I checked it out. I looked forward to a gym where nobody knows my name. It would be fun to start fresh and meet new people. Maybe I’d learn something new.

During a three day trial, I checked out a few classes including yoga. The gym filled with Boulderites. I rolled out my mat between a middle-aged woman who had a lot of plastic surgery and a cross-dresser complete with blond wig. I had found my people!

My membership came with a free hour of personal training. After a wicked session with TRX, (straps used by Navy Seals when stationed on ships), free weights, and dead lifts, my muscles groaned. But it felt good to wake up with sore muscles. I hadn’t considered weight training, but remembered hearing how it strengthens bone. My anti-cancer medication, Anastrozole, obliterates estrogen which is what my cancer ate, but also dissolves bone. I don’t want to become shrinky dinky because of skeletal fractures. That would not be good, at all. I’m short enough at 5’4″.

With the help of Brian, the fitness manager, and Sam, a personal trainer, I am officially locked and loaded with sessions bought through a package. Soon, they’ll set me loose to train on my own. Oh, wow… That’s coming up soon. Scheduling me for gym time started a new habit. Endorphin addiction will keep me going.

In the meantime, I’m learning all kinds of torture chamber methods to wake up my minuscule muscles. I trained today and can feel them crying out for mercy. They are total wimps and woosies.

“Pipe down,” I said to my whiny muscles, “You need to be exercised. It’s good for you! We can try new adventures again knowing that I won’t hurt myself because of your puniness.”

“All right. You don’t have to yell.”

I’ll let you know how it goes. In the meantime, two people know my name at my new gym and that’s A-okay.

Clowning around at 24 Hour Fitness

Do you belong to a gym? Do people know your name? Are you a gym rat or a occasional user? I’m striving for the rat category.

I Celebrated a Birthday, But Failed to Save a Life.

Have you ever taken a mouth-to-mouth resuscitation class? I took one for a babysitting badge when I was in Girl Scouts. I remember the plastic dummy and going through the routine while hoping to God I’d never have to use it. Flash forward a few decades.

On March 9th, I flew back to Wisconsin for my mom’s eighty-seventh birthday. My brother, Joe McCartan, ordered a cake and I picked up flowers. Mom was so surprised! Over dinner that night, she told us she planned to live a long time. For her one-hundredth birthday, she wants a stylist to dye a blue streak in her hair. I love her attitude.

My brother is the king of joking around. I couldn’t get a picture of him when he wasn’t mugging for the camera.  When I left Colorado it was seventy degrees. Check out the temperature on my brother’s iPad.

Two days later, Joe drove to the butcher to buy steaks to grill and went to a chiropractic appointment. In February, he slid on black ice and crashed his car into a telephone pole. It exacerbated an already sore back.

Later, the three of us watched the UW Badgers cream Northwestern by thirty points. Being a yawnfest, Joe texted on his phone. He’s a highly sought after, free-lance, on-location sound technician for major networks, television, movies and corporations. Very excited, he read the thread out loud. It regarded a commercial he had been hired to record. The company wanted to shoot tight shots of musicians playing the oboe, violin and cello. He had texted the high school music teacher, who had all kinds of ideas.

“The kids will love being in a commercial.” Joe was stoked.

“Sounds like you contacted the right person,” I said and yawned. “I think I’ll take a quick nap.” I walked upstairs to my room.

When I returned downstairs, Mom played Words with Friends in the kitchen while the steaks thawed in a pan. I had planned to walk the dog, but Joe had already left with Charlie. I opened my laptop and wrote my last post about daylight savings time. After dinner I thought it would be fun to play a game and take some group selfies.

Always pretty high energy, Joe burst through the door led by their Collie.

“I just missed you,” I said, looking up from my computer.

“Yep,” was all he said. Then he ran up the back stairs to his apartment behind my mom’s Victorian. I heard his footsteps overhead and then settled in to proof my stupid post.

He moved in a year before my dad passed away and has been taking care of Mom. He’s been a godsend, taking her to appointments, shopping and the little things, like setting the table for meals. He brings her tea and puts her eyedrops in before bed. My mom is super sharp, but has glaucoma and hasn’t been able to drive for years.

When Joe didn’t come downstairs, Mom said, “What’s taking him so long? We need to get the steaks on the grill.”

I shrugged and more time passed.

“Go check on Joe,” she said. “I don’t want to eat at 8:00.”

“Give him a few more minutes,” I said, knowing he liked his privacy.

A few more minutes passed and I ran upstairs.

I opened his door and peeked inside. “Hey, Joe!” I shouted. You have to walk through a kitchen to get to the large open, living and dining space.

“Joe! Time to make dinner,” I shouted through the doorway.

No response.

I stepped inside and saw him chilling in front of the computer. His arms relaxed on the armrests, his head was cocked backward and his mouth hung open.

“No wonder you didn’t hear me. You’re sound asleep.”

Still no response.

Something was wrong. “Joe! JOE!” I raced up to him and patted his pale cheeks.

No response.

“Oh, my God!” I felt for a pulse in his neck, but couldn’t find one. His lips were white. He wasn’t breathing. I screamed to my mom. She called 911, hysterical when the operator didn’t understand what was going on. I used my fingertips on his wrist and heard quick taps racing across the surface. Were they mine? 

Just like I’d been taught all those years ago, I started mouth-to-mouth and alternated with the CPR technique I’d learned on the Internet. One, two, three, four, staying alive, staying alive… I’m sure only minutes passed, but it seemed like an hour before the first responders arrived. They tried everything, but couldn’t get a pulse. Hope slipped away.

The paramedics came and hooked up a CPR machine and breathing tube. I went downstairs to check on my mom. Her friends, Kathy and Roger Roth, consoled her on the couch. Time passed. I ran back upstairs. “Did you get a pulse?”

“No, nothing,” one of the paramedics replied. I felt so guilty. I didn’t do it right. I could have saved him, but I failed! I couldn’t stop sobbing.

After answering tons of questions about his health, I went back downstairs. By that time, the funeral director, Bill Hurtley, and the priest from across the street, Fr. Dooley, had arrived. I got to know and love both of them when they took care of my dad’s funeral. Bill brought my mom back from her catatonic state with his dry humor.

Anxiety filled my empty stomach with broken glass. I turned to Bill for support. “I wrote a stupid blog post and didn’t come upstairs in time. I screwed up. I could’ve saved him.” Tears streamed down my cheeks.

He looked me in the eyes and said, “You found him relaxed in his chair, right?”

I nodded.

“There was nothing you could do. He threw a clot,” Bill said.

“What?”

“A blood clot. Believe me, I see a lot of dead people,” he said. “It’s what I do. Heart attacks are pretty uncomfortable. The victim has time to react, so we usually find them on the floor. Throwing a blood clot is painless. It happens to runners all the time. They go for a run and as soon as they sit in a chair, they die.”

“Why am I here if I couldn’t save him?” I asked.

“For your mother,” he said. “If she would have discovered him, it would’ve been a shock she would never have recovered from.” He took a moment and added, “Don’t blame yourself. Even if someone throws a clot in the hospital, no one can save them.”

An autopsy would have cost five to six thousand dollars. Bill insisted it would be a waste of money. Pulmonary embolism. It’s what people get from sitting too long on planes. Who knows where Joe got his clot. Surgery two years ago? The accident? Bumping into something and not telling anyone about it? We’ll never know. He wasn’t on blood thinners. I’m taking a baby aspirin now.

Alive and vibrant one minute and then gone the next. I couldn’t wrap my mind around it.

My little brother, who towered more than a foot over me, who did lotus position yoga with me when he was little for giggles, who I took to all kinds of concerts and events when I was in high school and college since I feared our almost ten year age difference would cause us to drift apart. My little brother who I loved dearly is dead at forty-nine years old. I was only a few steps away. How can that be?

He was a saxophone player in a band and was a local celebrity. He worked with people all across the United States. His Facebook and funeral home page are filled with heartfelt shock and condolences. We planned his funeral for March 25th at St. Paul’s Church across the street from their home in Evansville.

Being the writer in the family, I had to write his obituary. It was tough enough when I wrote my dad’s and felt tremendous pressure to do Joe’s life justice. His friend and co-worker, videographer Eric Janisch helped fill in the work details. You can read Joe’s obit here.

Two things I discovered on my own might help others.

  • I couldn’t get the image of him sitting in the chair out of my head. Every time I closed my eyes, I saw him. I must not have blinked the whole time I ran toward him. I stayed up all night. It was the same the next day as neighbors and relatives arrived. My husband, Danny, flew out that afternoon. As I drove toward the Dane County Airport I noticed some perfectly formed trees silhouetted in the snow. I picked one and stared at it as I drove toward it. I closed my eyes and saw the tree. It totally worked. That horrific last image of Joe disappeared, at least from my retinas.
  • Exhausted, I didn’t dare take a nap. Experiencing the shock all over again upon waking is the worst. In the past it has taken weeks for my brain to wrap itself around death. I wondered if saying it out loud to myself would speed up the process. I gave it a try. “Joe is dead. He died and you couldn’t save him. He’s not coming back.” I repeated it again before I picked up Danny and then twice before falling asleep. It worked.

Danny and I have lost half our families in two years; his bother and mom, my dad, then his mom’s boyfriend of fifteen years and now, my brother. It’s devastating to lose the people we love.

What about that quick tapping in Joe’s wrist? I hadn’t told anyone. Even though others shared the cause of death idea, I still wondered if it was instant as the funeral director and doctor claimed.

Days later, I remembered. “Make sure to lay your fingers across the wrist or you’ll feel your own pulse,” the instructor had told the Girl Scouts. I held my husband, Danny’s wrist in a different way. A strong slow pulse throbbed beneath his bones. No quick tapping on the surface. It had been mine I felt, not Joe’s.

There was nothing I could do. He had already passed.

How am I? Better. I’m grateful for the time we had together. Looking back, the timing of my visit seems serendipitous. I’ll embrace my grief and will remember him always.

Joe McCartan

Spring is emerging after a long winter dormancy. I see everything more intensely now and understand life’s fragility. Everyone will die. Life is impermanent. The trick is to live each day with appreciation and wonder.

In memory of my brother, I will start a nightly journal. I’ll list three positive things that happened during the day. He would’ve liked that.

What about my mom?

Many of her friends have offered to help. At this point, she won’t consider moving to Colorado with my brother and dad inurned in Madison. We’ll do whatever it takes to celebrate her one-hundredth birthday. I want to see her rock that blue streak.

An Ode to a Midwinter Cold

midwinter-cold

Hark!

Is that a death rattle I hear, trembling the dark wood around me?

Nope.

‘Tis the phlegm from thy chest cold shaking the bed frame as I hack up another loogie.

A midwinter cold has claimed yet another Kleenex which shroud thy bedclothes like moguls on ski slopes in thy feverish dreams.

Okay, so I don’t have a fever, but as I gaze out the window, red nose pressed against the glass, the lengthening daylight draws me outdoors, like a siren, or Beckham, or some other hot guy. Thy waning energy, thy only defense against overdoing it on yonder slackline. (A gift from Santa.)

yonder-slackline

Each day, upon wakening, hope soars that its hold has loosened. Alas all that has loosened are the reeds in thy larynx as I croak in a strong baritone, “Coffee, I need coffee.” Perhaps I should audition for a boy band.

And so linger do I like fingerprints upon thy neti pot. Only a shadow of thyself, stretching out with the day, on the couch, zapper clutched tight in one pale hand while guzzling mugs of green tea like shots of tequila with the other.

The next few days would certainly ring brighter. But, alas, I awake slack-jawed with energy zapped. Now rapid-fire sneezing and nasal congestion appear. I try to sleep it off.

Then darkness swallows all hope as a shiver slices thy core. I tunnel deep within the tangled sheets, tossing then turning to Web MD – How to sleep with a fever. Reduced to a mouth-breather, I check off thy list until the corners’ of thy cracked lips curl in a smile.

Nasal strips. Duh!

I dash to the bathroom to see if drawers contain the desired breathing implement. Aha! I apply it to nose’s bridge and can instantly breathe. Oh, the relief and sanguine bliss and scent of flowers and sunshine and… then I notice thy reflection which resembles a prizefighter after losing the prize. What if my nose sticks like that?

I quiet down for a long midwinter’s nap, snoozing for two hours at a time. By morning, the fever has fizzled. Yes! My expectations fly away with my imagination. I would rest, then go running tomorrow and then write, then replenish thy refrigerator, and then… I dragged through another day.

I curse thy pharmacist. How dare she send me away since thy flu shot was almost in hand (or arm) and with such a lame excuse. Something about anti-cancer drugs suppressing thy immune system and not giving anyone a shot who had double boobectomies. Never before have I beset such an outrage. Instead of smiling and leaving, I should have explained, “I only had one bad boob!” Shoulda, woulda, coulda.

And here am I, a mere shell of thyself, crawling with legs splayed sideways, skittering from bed to couch to chair, always hiding, the light too bright still.

Oh, when, doth midwinter’s cold end? Hack, cough, spit.

It better be soon, dammit. Snow’s in the forecast and there are wild rides to be had.

Did you get your flu shot? It’s not too late. When I’m well, I’m demanding one.

I drew Midwinter’s Cold as I imagined it when I wrote this poem. Yes, thy mind is a very scary place.

The Boob Report – The Sun Rises After Cancer Drugs

hSunrise over Breckenridge

Shy of three weeks into 2017, I thought I’d check in and let you know how The Year of the Big Chill is going. It’s all about working hard, but playing harder. Little did I know these lifestyle changes would affect me in a different way. It banished a horrible side effect of my anti-cancer drug.

Two simple changes have made a HUGE impact. So huge, I have to tell you about it.

I meditate for ten minutes a day.

After attending the Wanderlust Yoga Festival in Whistler, I felt super chill and grounded for about a week. Then that fantastic feeling disappeared. I figured I had to go to another festival to regain it.

Meditation clears my mind for new ideas. Practicing ten minutes before I write unlocks my creative flow. It helps me focus. I’m less distracted by sparkly things. I love sparkly things.

I write for three hours (or more, depending on my groove) and then shut my laptop to go on an adventure. That may be anything from skiing to taking a hike to going to the grocery store. It doesn’t matter, as long as I get out of the house to do something.

The isolation of writing books and screenplays was a downer for me last year. I’m an adventure junkie. It’s my rocket fuel. Now I get out every day. Ideas pop into my tiny cranium out of nowhere.

The combination of both of these changes resulted in the coolest thing ever.

After my double boobectomities, my radiologist prescribed Tamoxifen. I felt a low grade sluggish, PMS, blues. It would clench my gut with anxiety upon waking and follow me like a shadow during the day. I attributed it to normal worry any cancer patient goes through. Nope. It’s a side-effect of anti-estrogen drugs. I had to keep taking it. My cancer ate estrogen like a starved pig at a Las Vegas buffet.

the-sun-rises-after-cancer-drugsWhen my doctor took me off Tamoxifen over a year ago, I went pill-free for two weeks. I was so excited!! I felt super charged upon waking!! My Susie Sunshine self was BACK!! Yes, this warrants lots of exclamation points. (My baseline normal is like other people’s most optimistic and best days.) But after two weeks on Anastrozole, that same guilty, worried, clench my gut feeling returned. GAH. 

By the way, my diet hasn’t changed, except for one thing. I stopped eating pizza. Once a month or so, I’d indulge in a pan style veggie lovers, then I would crash the next day. I mentioned it to my daughter, Courtney, who is a personal trainer. She said that pizza is the worst. With so much cheese and carbs, it becomes greasy glop in our stomachs and sends our bodies into detox overload.

I haven’t drank alcohol for two and a half years after finding out the correlation between it and seven different cancers. (Check out this post about that dirty little secret. Alcohol means any kind of alcohol, including wine.) It also causes osteoporosis. Bummer.

Here’s the good news:

After meditating and going outside every day for about ten days, I noticed that same grounded, peaceful feeling in my gut had reappeared. The anxiety from Anastrozole had VANISHED! Ten minutes to zen. How cool is that?

Okay, so the super-hopped up, excited me may have to wait another eighteen months when I’ll be off the drugs forever. But, that low grade, I must have done something wrong feeling, is history! Who knows? Maybe my over-endorphined self will return with a couple more weeks of this new lifestyle. People who know me will read this and say, “You will be even more manic?”

I wonder if Danny will hide my yoga mat?

This could help you too!

Ever feel a little down? I would think this combination of getting outside to do something away from the computer and ten minute meditation would work for others, especially mid-winter when lack of Vitamin D slows us down and causes the blues. You should try it. It truly works! If nothing else, life is a lot more fun.

What do you think? What lifestyle changes have you made over the years? How are the sunrises in your neighborhood?

Appointment? Wonder Why We Wait So Long?

Wonder why we wait so long for appointmentsThree months ago, I made a doctor’s appointment. Later, I decided to fill my day with them. Why not blow one day instead of three? I scheduled another at 10:30 and my last at 4:45.

I arrived at the doctor’s office on time. This was the first appointment of the day, so I thought I’d get in and out quickly. I’d have plenty of time to run errands before my next.

The minutes clicked away as patients seeing other doctors came and went. Maybe I didn’t allow enough time for my next appointment. My palms began to sweat while I caught up with blog comments on my phone. I waited and waited and waited as my gut tightened.

Thirty minutes later, I considered downloading a book to read. The nurse called my name.

After hustling into the examination room, I stripped naked and donned one of those lovely tie-in-the-back gowns. Then I sat up on the table and waited and waited and waited again. I stared at my purse and longed for a book to read.

Another THIRTY MINUTES passed.

Finally, my OB-Gyn arrived. Whew! He had checked out my old fibroids with walkers and seeing eye dogs the last time we met and also performed an endometrial biopsy. The first time it had been so painful, I almost bolted from the room. I had been nervous about this appointment and didn’t want any more problems. After a thorough examination, he told me that my uterus had shrunk. The seeing-eye dogs have left the building. YAY!

It’s all good now. Only routine exams from now on.

While I raced to my next appointment, I had an AHA moment.

THE MOON. Of course! It was a full moon the night before. My doctor probably delivered babies all night. I would think that many doctors’ offices are filled after that particular phase.

I made it to my second appointment since they were running late too. No surprise there. At 4:45, I prepared for a long wait at the hair salon and it didn’t disappoint. No matter. I wrote a new chapter for my book.

Early the next morning, I had an appointment with my orthopedic surgeon with a follow up about my knee and broken wrist in January. The moon continued its crazy spell on people and the x-ray order was screwed up. I should have brought War and Peace.

From now on, when I book ANY kind of appointment, I’m going to make sure the moon is in its fingernail stage.

What do you think? Have you noticed a correlation? I bet you will now!

Click here for more Wild Riding Adventures.

Wild Rider Magazine – The Premier Issue

Apps * Movies * Twitter * Blogging * Life Hack * Recipe * Inspiration

Wild Rider Magazine Discoveries from the web and my wild lifeHappy TGIF, Wild Riders!

Welcome to the premier issue of Wild Rider Magazine. Bringing you discoveries from around the web and my wild life.

I had been toying with a Friday bi-monthly magazine to share highlights of the newsworthy, including tips, hacks and a sweet recipe, so here it is.

App News: Pokemon Go! Why you should give it a go.

Heard of Pokemon? I remember my son, Kelly, being too old for it while his sister, Courtney, beat all the boys at school. The playing cards are still in a binder in her room. If you’ve been wondering what everyone is doing while walking around looking down at their phones, they are probably engaged with the new app, Pokemon Go!

Before you groan and tune out, let me tell you why this is brilliant. Kelly just moved to the Los Angeles area. He and his girlfriend, Leksy, downloaded the app and walked all over LA until 4:00 AM. last Saturday night. They ran into several people while trying to find “gyms” (places where you are challenged to win points). Soon they traveled in a posse meeting many others along the way. Seems like a great way to make new friends, get some fresh air and exercise.

Having a problem getting out of the house? Download the app. I did. You can find me on the app at Soosiemon walking with my eyes glued to my phone somewhere on Pearl Street, Boulder.

Movie News:

Have you ever noticed how many books and movies feature writers? I guess some authors hang on to the idea, “Write what you know.”

Top literary agent, Donald Maass, tweeted this news:

Two major surprises. I had no idea Thomas Wolfe was such a dick and who knew Jude Law could pull off a southern accent? Looks like a great movie.

Twitter contests for authors of unpublished books:

For everyone who has a book to pitch, this is for you.

There are several Twitter pitch contests for writers who have finished their novels and are ready to publish. #Pit2Pub and #PitMad are popular hashtags among many others that give us a chance to pitch our books to literary agents and direct to publishers.

Tweet a 140 character hook:

Who is your main character? What’s the inciting incident?  What are the stakes?

If an agent or editor “favorites” or gives your tweet a heart, then you’ve won! Check out their tweets to find out how to send your manuscript. But only send it after you’ve happy-danced around your kitchen at least once.

The next #PitMad is September 8th. The next #Pit2Pub is January 18th, 2017. That gives you plenty of time to write a book to pitch.

Check your website’s loading time:

Do you think your site loads pretty fast or does it take for freakin’ ever? You don’t want potential readers to give up while the tiny wheely thingamajig spins.

Click to Pingdom.com and find out how many seconds it takes. It will compare your site to the loading time of others and give you a percentile and grade rating.

When I posted large photographs, mine became slothlike. After reducing their size, it cut the loading time in half. Widgets can also add seconds.

See how fast your blog loads.

Life hack of the week:

I have a million of these. My dad was the original MacGyver, so it’s probably genetic.

Being a writer, I stare at my computer screen for hours on end. The knots in my neck become gargantuan. It makes me really sleepy since the blood doesn’t flow properly.

Tennis balls to the rescue. Lay down on the floor. Place one of them under your neck and roll it around until you find the painful spot. Push down on it in a circular motion. I stacked two of them with one hand to really hit the spot. After two minutes of massage, I rested on the floor then slowly rose to my feet. I could feel the difference. No afternoon nap today. Yay!

A recipe for sweet readers:

I found my daughter’s recipe for brownies and made them last week. They were super easy and delicious, so I had to share.

Courtney’s Chocolate Brownies

Prep time: 25 min. Bake: 45 min. 16 Brownies.

2/3 cup butter or margarine

5 oz. unsweetened baking chocolate, cut into pieces.

1 3/4 cups sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla

3 large eggs

1 cup flour

1 cup chopped walnuts – optional.

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease bottom and sides of 9 inch square pan with shortening.

In a 1 quart sauce pan, melt butter and chocolate over low heat, stirring constantly. Or heat in microwave 30 seconds at at time. Stir at intervals. Cool 5 minutes.

In medium bowl, beat sugar, vanilla, and eggs with an electric mixer on high speed for 5 minutes. Beat in chocolate mixture on low speed, scraping bowl occasionally. Stir in nuts. Spread in pan.

Chocolate sweetness, viola!

Inspiration for the weekend:

Have you ever noticed how the smallest things in life can hold you back? Calling an old friend, making an appointment, going to the gym. There are so many things that eat at us. It takes so little effort and yet the payoffs can be huge.

 

I hope you enjoyed the first issue. Let me know what you think in the comments.

Click for more of my Wild Adventures.

The Boob Report – Three Years Cancer-Free

The first Sunday in June is National Cancer Survivor Day. I first heard about it through Facebook when Lynn Kelley posted a photo from a get-together in California. August McLaughlin “embellished” this photo when I had a double boobectomy (mastectomies) in 2013.

Breast cancer boob support friends

Lynn Kelley, me, Debra Eve, August McLaughlin, and Debra Kristi.

Four thoughts hit me in this order:
1. Hello fabulous California friends! I hope to see you soon.

This photo was taken when I met up with these amazing writers and blogger friends on a California trip back in 2012. It brought back very fond memories. They, along with many others, gave me tremendous boob support while going through my surgeries. My son, Kelly, is moving out to attend music production school, so I ‘ll be spending a lot more time in Los Angeles. Sorry Kelly, but Dad and I plan to couch surf at your place. Kidding! I’m looking forward all kinds of adventures this year.

2. I’ve been cancer-free for three years. Wow.

Every six months I check in with the nicest oncologist for blood tests. He puts me at ease, but it’s still nerve-wracking. He reads one of the results while I’m in the office. The second batch of tests take a few days. I would only be notified if those come back positive. For five days afterward, I freak out every time the phone rings. I only have four more blood draws, the next one in August. I’m counting down.

3. I don’t think about cancer very often these days. The first two years, I thought about it A LOT.

It really bothered me that I had lived a really healthy, green, organic life and still got the stinkin’ disease. That was so not fair. I was angry. But sometime during the last two years, I stopped obsessing. I let it go. Now I live my life, make plans for the future, and rarely look back.

Part of that transformation occurred because of even more healthy choices. I gave up alcohol linked to breast cancer and osteoporosis, even though I only drank a few glasses of wine per week. I try to avoid eating food that could increase estrogen since that’s what my cancer ate. It must have raised my metabolism with all that munching. I was so thin!

These lifestyle changes have given me confidence in my health, so I don’t worry about recurrence.

Instead of thinking about cancer crapola, I’m focused on writing books, screenplays and getting back into shape after knee surgery and a broken wrist. Yep. Normal stuff. I’m looking ahead, way ahead.

4. Being called a survivor is not an accurate portrayal of my cancer journey.

Sure I survived cancer, but haven’t a lot of us survived something? I never told you about the time U-Haul saved my life or when my family was stuck in snowstorm and divine intervention came knocking. I’ll have to post those stories sometime. Okay, so those stories are close calls not stories of survival. But many have survived other horrific diseases or catastrophic events.

So what makes me different than a lot of other people?

It’s not that I’m a cancer survivor,
I’m a thriver.

I will continue to step onto the ledge and jump. I plan to live large, and will enjoy my Wild Life.

What have you survived? Are you a thriver? What are you doing today?

Follow @susielindau on Twitter and Susie Lindau’s Wild Ride on Facebook.