Life of Joy

My photo
Love the Ones You're With!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Back to the Blog!

WOW! Has it really been one year since I lasted posted anything? It is really true that sometimes life does get in the way of all that we want to accomplish. I feel reflective today. It has been almost 3 years since I was diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer. I have lived with recurrence and treatment. Still, as I sit here today, I feel healthy and able to take on any task and/or adventure that comes my way. During the throes of my last treatment (just a couple of months ago) I felt very weak and much less confident. It was at that point that I began considering early retirement. I have worked for the county/state for 31 years and met all the requirements needed to retire except the biggie----how to fund my needed health care. Fortunately the State of Iowa pretty much dropped a perfect retirement plan in my lap this past winter and I became convinced this was the right thing to do.

Now, that being said, making the decision to "just do it", was much easier than actually doing it. Being a supervisor in the adoption field for the last 15 years, and working in the same field for another 7 gave me a true sense of purpose. Yes, every day was not truly joyful and filled with warm fuzzy feelings. But, it's about people and it's about trying to help kids get to a better place to grow and develop than where they were. BUT, it's bittersweet, when you have to lose everything you know and love to get to that place, the decisions that are made along the way by social workers seem a lot less clear. Just as adoption is bittersweet process, so is life. The workers that I have supervised over the years give me so much courage and inspiration, I can't even put into my words the admiration I feel for them. My co-supervisors have really hung with me through the days of celebrating and sad days these last few years, and I have never ever felt they weren't there with me, as with all the staff and work partners in my workplace. The families that I have worked with who have taken children, families, and all of their abusive baggage into their homes, yet hung on, at times for dear life, and persevered to make permanent commitments to those children-----you are my heroes! Your selflessness in giving of your homes and families goes largely unnoticed alot of the time and it surely should not. To the foster/adoptive children who have tried and are trying to make sense of their lives, to work through the profound loss that was thrust on them at an early age through no fault of their own-----thank you for not giving up. Thank you for opening your heart to yet another home and trying to believe that these adults are not going to let you down again. You have always been loveable, worthwhile, beautiful children. And, it is my wish that you will find that place in your life where you are profoundly able to feel that to your core.
I will carry with me into retirement, your stories, your resiliency, your pain and your joy and I will always, always be inspired by your human spirit.

As I transition to the next phase of my life, I have found that I seem to be floundering to find a sense of purpose. Though I know that my human services career and employment by the state is ending permanently, I long to work in the adoption field and hope I have the opportunity to continue to do so. Whatever I have "given" in the past 30 years has come back to me at least 100 times whatever that gift was. My blessings have been many during my years with the State of IA, my gratitude knows no bounds and I yearn to still find purpose and the gift of feeling needed as I begin this next phase of my life.

Finally, all of the relationships that have been a part of my life, including my family, my work life friends, my scrapbooking friends, my high school friends,my Ames friends, my children's parents' friends, sports parents' friends---------all these relationships have enriched my life beyond compare and I am incredibly grateful for all the support, love and camaraderie that you have given me. Truly, I have attained it----I have a life filled with joy.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Summer Days

It has been so long since I last posted. The summer is half over----boo! Karrah has graduated from high school, Layla attended the 3rd annual Pool Party for Dogs that our neighbors hold with John and I accompanying, my parents celebrated their 60th anniversary in southern, MN, I've completed 10 out of 25 radiation treatments. Life goes on indeed.

Here's a picture from Karrah's graduation:

Here's a picture of one of my asian lilies. I could barely count all the blooms it had this year:

Here is a picture from the Dog Birthday Pool Party. What a great time that was. I think you had to be a dog lover, though!

Here's a couple of pictures from my parents' 60th anniversary in southern MN. It was so much fun. All of my siblings were there as well as the majority of the grandkids. I rode the Cannon Valley bike trail from Cannon Falls into Redwing. 20 miles - YAY! Some really good food and enjoyable wine rounded out this week end.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Walk of Life

I probably should have Mark Knopfler playing in the background with this post, but I haven't made that technological leap yet!

Yesterday was the 2nd Annual Walk to Break the Silence in Des Moines. It was a 2 mile walk around Gray's Lake and was just a perfect spring day, even if a bit on the chilly side. There is always a crowd around my dear Dr. Turner, but I did get to go up and say "hi" to her before the walk got going. I will see her on Tuesday and am pretty upbeat about that appointment. First, I have to get through my blood test tomorrow, but like I said, I'm upbeat. I may have a medial meniscus tear on my right knee that I'm consulting with an orthorpedic guy on. Had an MRI on Friday. Despite having a hitch in my git along, I still very much enjoyed the walk.

Before I share my pictures I am compelled to say to everyone who has been a part of my journey to this point, the biggest "THANK YOU" in the largest font possible. I was overwhelmed yesterday with the gratitude that I feel for the people who have helped me get from point A to point B to point C and so it goes. You are all so special to me and I feel so blessed to have you in my lives. So, the point of the walk yesterday was ostensibly to raise awareness and $$$ to find a decent diagnostic tool for finding OvCa in its earliest stages, but it was also a very poignant reminder to me about how many people I have in my life who have taken this journey with me. I could not be here and have the smiles that I continue to have in my life without you. God bless all of you.

OK here's the pictures from the day. The picture of the women wearing the survivor shirts (teal of course) with me are Victoria and Sandee. We were so busy gabbing that when John was taking the big survivor photo, we were turned the other way planning our next outing.

Sunday, April 5, 2009


Whew! March was a busy month...I returned to chemotherapy. My daughter and I traveled 2500 miles in 4 days to visit a potential college choice in VT. Then it was back one week and prepare for another treatment.

The trip to Vermont was enjoyable, even though it was quick. I had never seen that part of the country so upstate NY and VT were really a pleasure to travel through. We even saw an open ski resort at Killington, VT but we ran out of time so no skiing took place this trip. Green Mountain College really appealed to me (too bad I'm not the one trying to choose)---it is so socially conscious with an eye on the future. Again, it's unfortunate it is so far away. We drove home in one trip, and with no stops except for gas, it was a good 19 hours. Still, you never know what Karrah might decide.....

We stayed in Cleveland, OH on our first day out. Here's a picture of me in front of Lake Erie.

Next, I want to show a picture of the oxen that GMC uses to plow their community garden that helps feed the student population:

And finally here is a picture of Kar and me after our marathon trip back----road weary? I should say so!
Hopefully the college selection process will soon be over. It's so close to graduation now, that I know it will be but a blink of the eye before she is packing up to leave. Oh, well best for me to not really dwell on that right now!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Back On 8 South

Well, my return to the infusion room on Friday at 8 South Mercy Hospital is not where I would choose to go for a fun time, but it is a place that I know well and seem to be pretty comfortable in, so I guess that is for the best. Anyway, a recent PET scan was ordered after small increments in my CA125 levels over several months. And that showed a couple of swollen lymph nodes that did not show up on a December CT scan, so it's back to chemo and then hopefully radiation. I had about a week after finding out the scan news until I had my first chemo and that time did end up being helpful in letting me prepare for this next leg in my journey. PEACE my mantra for 2009, I'm getting there.

Saturday, January 31, 2009


OK, I've been tagged by Mary Perry. I am to search where my pictures are stored and find the 6th file, 6th picture. The file ended up being my Flora/Fauna file and this is a picture of one of my Zinnia's. The interesting part is when it was taken. July 20, 2007. On this particular day, I had found out about a week earlier that it was suspected I had a malignancy in my ovaries and was awaiting surgery on July 26th. This was the last day I was at work before surgery. I did not return to work until a day in latter September after my all encompassing surgery (removing just about all female parts below the waist) and 1 chemo. Funny, how this pictures takes me back to that time. It seems so very long ago now. I think this picture pretty much says it all. The future is bright, but the moment is really what it's all about.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Project 365

I decided to give this project a try, even though of course, I am starting it a few days late. Still I will have 355 days ahead of me to get it right! Here's
the project:

I plan to capture my family's journey through 2009 by taking one picture every day and keeping a Project 365 folder at Flickr with all of my thumbprint photos. So, understandably, this project will have way more appeal for me than anyone else, BUT if you should want to check out what I think are the pictures that are representative of my life this next year, you can go to this link:

Usually intentions that are made public are more likely to be followed through by myself for whatever reason, so I'm assuming that will be the case with this as well. I'm looking forward to having a capsulized version
of 2009 ready to be scrapbooked next January!