Thursday, December 30, 2010

Happy New Year

As 2010 draws to a close my heart and mind are kinda confused. In retrospect 2010 was the most difficult life changing year of my life thus far and I suspect it will always wear that title. This is saying a lot since 2007 was pretty tough what with me almost checking out due to a freak illness, having to relearn how to walk again, speak clearly and well, all kinds of other craziness. 2007 comes in a very close second to winning that title but 2010 has it beat by several lengths. It is the triple crown winner. In 2010 I watched my 41 year old husband dying and had to make the decision to let him go naturally or keep him on life support. I let life happen as it was meant to be and chose not to have life support. We had discussed this in case it ever came up. I never thought it would but thank god we had that talk. A piece of me was ripped away that morning without warning. I have spent the last 6 months tending that gaping wound. So, I am ready for a clean slate but putting 2010 behind me seems almost sacrilege. My slate is cleaner than I want it to be in that I am now a widow. I wear my wedding rings, his too, I had them made into one ring but I go to sleep alone every night and wake up with only my cats next to me in the morning. I have moved and am looking forward to a new career, new friends, new opportunities but how do I leave the me behind that was an extremely happily married woman...maybe I don't. She is a part of who I am and who I will always be. It is not always about leaving behind but instead about letting go. I am not leaving my husband in the past. That is not possible. He is a part of my present in that he is a part of me. Paul helped shape my life and he continues to do so. I let go of the pain, sadness, sleepless nights and suffering and open to the joy, feeling good, restful nights and divine love and guidance of the man I chose to spend my life with.
The next few days I will be giving myself this pep talk numerous times. It is time for the new year!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Keri's Portobello "steak" sandwhich

Tonight I experimented with making my own portobello mushroom sandwhich and it was good.

Preheat oven to 300 and place 3 large Bollo rolls or other heavy rolls on a cookie sheet . Drizzle with a small amount of Olive Oil and let rolls warm to desired heat.
Clean the portobello musshrom caps and drizzle the veiny side with Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar to taste. Heat enough grapeseed oil in a pan to coat it. Start with the veiny side up in the pan for about 3 minutes and flip them over for another 3 minutes. The oil & vinegar will fall out which is what you want. It will now cook into the other side of the mushroom cap. Add cracked black pepper to taste. Place the mushroom "steaks" on the rolls and top with Daiya cheese or real cheese if you choose, artichokes and spinach leaves. Enjoy this fast and easy meal. There are many options to this recipe like rubbing the rolls with garlic, making a pesto to spread on the bread or using a veganaise spread, adding other veggies like tomatoes, etc.

Friday, December 24, 2010

a first

So tonight I decided I needed some Keri Christmas time which basically meant time alone. It has been a roller coaster month. I have had great happiness and peace as well as painful sadness. Most people do not know and would not expect that my husband loved this time of the year. He got excited to go pick out our Christmas tree every year. He even went and cut one down once when we were pretty broke and did not think we were going to be able to afford one. It came complete with an empty bird's nest. There are certain ornaments that were/are his and he loved hanging them and picking out wrapping paper. I will always cherish the huge smile on his face when he would hand me the gift he had for me. He always seemed so happy to see me open it and waited for my reaction. It is so extremely hard to realize that we can't do these things together any more but I am so extremely grateful that we did get the opportunity to share these moments with each other and that they are a part of who I am. They give me peace, comfort and strength. The best Christmas gift is love. Sharing that with someone, giving it and receiving it is something that makes life worth living and it does not have a monetary price tag. There are no crowds of shoppers to contend with. This gift settles into our hearts and souls and lasts beyond our physical bodies. I am so in love with my husband and thank him everyday for being a part of my life and allowing me to be a part of his. This is my first Christmas without him physically and I am going to do my best to open that everlasting gift of love tomorrow and have a joyful day. I wish the same for you!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

A wonderful day

Today I am feeling all kinds of inspired. I made it up to Mt. Tabor on my walk this afternoon. Mt. Tabor park is 28 blocks up hill and I did it! I was ready to stop at 20 blocks but a little voice that sounded just like Paul came to me and said if I could do it with cancer in my body than your healthy body can do it. And I did! Two years ago we took this walk with Jordan from their house, my new home, to Mt. Tabor. I had to sit down on a bench that overlooks the lower reservoir when I got there and I felt such peace and amazing chi energy...probably from all of the tall, old evergreens. I just felt wrapped up in positive chi and love. I shed a few tears but these tears were tears of happiness for both Paul and myself. I am also proud that I can say that. Breathing in I felt alive and I was keenly aware of Paul's new role in my life. He is in the air I breath and in my heart. It was beautiful. It kinda feels like I turned a new corner today. It is now my goal to do that walk at least twice per week. Twenty eight blocks up hill and twenty eight blocks back plus a trail while in the park. It just feels good!
This leads me into another topic. Last night I took a very interesting class from a Naturopathic doctor on longevity insights from the "blue zones" and Naturopathic medicine. The "blue zones" are places in the world where the average lifespan is 11 years longer than in the US. The average lifespan of a man in the US is 78 and a woman is 82. In "blue zones" 1/3 or more of the population reach 90 to 100 and are 10 times more likely to reach 100. These people are still having sex in thier 90's and appear to be much happier..maybe those two things are related??
The known "blue zones" are Loma Linda, CA. , Nicoya, Costa Rica, Okinawa, Japan, Sardina, Italy & Ikaria, Greece. Vegetables are an important part of the diets in these places as is moderate daily exercise (the activities of daily living not going to the gym), having ways of dealing with stress, enjoying a (one) glass of red wine in a few of these zones, staying social, finding a purpose in life, having an active spiritual life (whatever that might be for an individual), having a close connection with family, community, and/or friends.
A few ways to implement these things in our lives is as follows: Mindful Eating is one of them and it has two meanings for me. As a Buddhist this idea is practiced in being grateful for the food, acknowledging it's health benefits (only taking in foods that are healthy) and the fact that hard work went into producing it for us. We savor our food and are mindful of the taste, smell, texture, etc. and from a Naturopathic point of view in general this means eating until we feel about 80% full not 100% stuffed. The power of a plant based diet is important. The focus should be on the freshest and most colorful fruits and veggies possible. Eat the rainbow! Also include legumes like peas, lentils, beans and whole grains like oat groats and brown rice. Meat is not thrown out but is should only be 100% pasture raised and fed.
I mentioned the red wine and one glass is the suggested limit. More than this puts stress on the liver and pancreas and it does need to be red. Resveritol is found in red wine. Now if you have a serious health issue like cancer than usually you are advised against all alcohols and this doctor supports that. From past nutrition classes if you want the benefits of resveritol then you eat the red grapes. Although I am considering breaking my almost 4 years of no alcohol with a glass of red wine tonight. Staying social by volunteering, joining any number of groups or clubs and staying close to family and friends helps us to remember and experience that it is truly better to give than receive because givers get in the end. "life is a gift and our moments alive are few and precious...treasure them." Another important way to stay social and belong is by practicing your belief systems. People with belief systems and rituals find peace and comfort when stressed or challenged. I can attest to this personally. It gives one an important source of purpose. Married people tend to live longer. I hope being widowed does not throw me out of this group. Children tend to extend family connections and encourage us to invest in the present and the future. Daily exercise like walking is beneficial. The daily activities of life can be the best exercise. If you can run errands on foot do it. Leave the car parked as much as possible. People living in cities tend to have less cardiovascular disease than those living in the suburbs because people in the cities walk more places. Walking promotes lymph gland drainage, reduces blood pressure,improves circulation, tones muscles, etc. Gardening was found to be a daily activity in all "blue zones". Think about it you have a purpose in it, you are producing your own fresh, hopefully organic, food and it is a physical activity. Stopping smoking was big on this doctors list for obvious reasons. Just give these things a try and if you get the chance try to learn more about the lifestyles in these "blue zones". It really is pretty interesting.

Thursday, December 9, 2010


Tonight I took a class on an Anti-inflammatory diet with a Nutritionist. I have attended a class on this before in Kansas City with a dietitian. It is always good to relearn and refresh this information. There is some level of inflammation at the heart of every disease. Acute inflammation is not a bad thing. It is our bodies way of healing. It brings blood flow and white blood cells to damaged tissue but chronic inflammation is not a good thing and it is a growing problem. Anything that ends in "itis" is an inflammatory issue like arthritis or sinusitis. There are certain major contributors to inflammation such as stressful lifestyle, diets high in grains and other allergenic foods, diets high in sugars and carbohydrates, diets high in processed foods, increased exposure to Nsaids, antibiotics, environmental toxins like pesticides, medications, lack of or inappropriate exercise, genetic predisposition and a decrease in nutrient rich protective foods. The gastrointestinal tract is crucial for nutrient absorption. Keeping it well maintained is essential. It is important to remove foods that one knows they are allergic or sensitive too. Probiotics are important. They help keep our gut microflora balanced. In every nutrition class I have taken the issue of gut health being the critical piece of the puzzle for a healthy body has been taught. Our immune systems begin there and our nutrients are absorbed there.
One of the things our teacher expressed several times is that you will get out of this what you are willing to put into it. We all make the choice what to do or not do. It is not a "fun" diet but you can be creative. She recommends trying to avoid the proinflammatory foods for 4 to 6 weeks and over a period of 4 days add back in the eliminated foods one by one to determine if that particular food is a problem for you. Proinflamatory foods include all vegetable oils, spreads and margarines containing soy,corn, cottonseed, sunflower, safflower, grape seed and canola oils because they are high in polyunsaturated fatty acids, fried foods because frying oxidizes oils making them toxic, fast foods, foods made with partially hydrogenated oils/trans fats, grains including those from the wheat family, conventionally raised meats, foods with a high sugar or carbohydrate content, processed and refined foods, common food allergens like soy,peanuts, corn, dairy, nightshade vegetables (tomatoes,potatoes, eggplant,bell peppers,hot peppers,paprika) foods high in lectins which are proteins that bind to certain cell membranes in the intestine disrupting their function. Foods with lectin are cereal grains, beans and legumes. Soaking and sprouting these things helps to unlock the natural enzyme inhibitors that act as a preservative in these foods. Avoid animal milk/cheese and commercial eggs (free roaming are ok), industrial farmed poultry and grain fed meat as well as farmed salmon, peanut and corn products, citrus fruits with the exception of lemon, bottled juices, dried fruits (because they are reduced to a big piece of sugar and often have sugars added to them) Foods that are ok in some of these categories are all vegetables except the nightshades, amaranth, teff, millet, oatmeal, quinoa, rice (brown,wild,black not white),
buckwheat, one or two pieces of fruit (because of the sugar content and not citrus except for lemon), 100% pure maple syrup, raw honey, rice syrup or stevia, split peas, kidney or pinto beans, lentils, adzuki, mung and garbanzo beans (all soaked for 24 hours or sprouted). Deep sea, wild fish, cage free or wild chicken and turkey, free range pasture fed meats. Organic butter, ghee, olive oil (not heated), coconut oil. Sprouted breads are a good option and are available in the refrigerated section of grocery stores. Caffeine and alcohol are also proinflamatory.
There is much more to learn about this topic but in my opinion it is worth the time and effort. The dietary changes may seem daunting but there are great choices available in health food stores that allow us to be creative with our food and healthy. We can do a lot on our own too like sprouting, soaking and making our own fresh juices at home. It all takes effort but aren't you and your family worth it? Convenience has its' place but not in our diets as the mounting health problems in our country and in the world will testify too. Nature gives us the resources we need to be healthy. Real, whole food is one of those resources. One of the reasons industrial, conventional ,farmed meats and fish are bad is because they are fed unnatural diets to fatten them and loads of medications. That gets passed on up the food chain. Gluten is such a problem now because wheat as we know it is extremely hybridized creating excess gluten.
Non organic foods are laden with toxic chemicals and once it is sprayed on it soaks in with few exceptions. Things that have a very thick skin like avocado is one of them. These things are making us sick and for what? money! It is crazy and we all need to take a stand for ourselves and each other.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

I usually make extra brown rice to use in another meal when I make it. Lately I have not been getting it used up before I have to throw it out. I do not like to waste food. This morning I was inspired by a story my mother told me and decided to try the leftover brown rice like a cereal. It was really good. I just warmed up a bowl of it and added rice milk, pure maple syrup, cinnamon and almond slivers to taste. It hit the spot just like oatmeal. I think this would be a great way for parents to save some time in the morning. Make some brown rice for dinner and make enough for cereal the next morning. Just store it in the fridge. If we want to do this balanced and nutritionally proper a protein should probably be eaten along with this meal of carbs. So, don't leave out the almonds they are a protein source and offer numerous other nutritional benefits.
Walnuts would be great too.

Monday, December 6, 2010

a new begining

I am settling into my new home city very well. Some days I have to remind myself that I am not on vacation and it doesn't all have to be done or seen right now. It feels so good not to wake up alone in the house that my husband and I shared. Now I wake up to a house full of people, the joy of children's laughter and the neighbors coming over for dinner meaning several cooks in the kitchen. It is woonderful. Living with my best friends is treating me well and I feel safe in saying that it is working out for all of us. I am still awed by their openness and generosity. Actually, no I am not. This is the kind of people they are. We are this situation we did get to choose. Paul and I chose well. We have always known that about Dana and Jordan. The people I have met so far have been very friendly and welcoming. It occurred to me a few weeks ago after a party that the nice people that I just met do not know Paul only me and that made me sad. It brought about the reality that any new people I met will not know the man I was married to and shared my life with for 18 years. He was and is such a huge part of my life which makes the thought of this is painful. I do not really know how to deal with it. A friend of mine who is going through the same life situation told me she just makes sure to talk about her partner to new people she meets. I can definitely do that. In fact, I might talk too much. It is a weird situation to be in but I am not going to dwell on it. Everything will work out. I believe that. Tomorrow marks 5 months since Paul's passing. Unbelievable!! I miss him so much everyday but I know he is taking care of me and that he is proud that I am trying to make the most of the life I have left.

Monday, November 8, 2010


I have learned a lot of lessons recently and gained a few true insights. Last week started off with me feeling physically and emotionally terrible. I was in a lot of pain and felt very alone and sad. The old fears stemming from my past illness resurfaced with a vengeance and they manifested into physical symptoms and tension. Paul and my therapist are the two people who got me through those fears the first time. My therapist is still around but my husband, my rock, my caretaker is not. I am not sure what exactly triggered all of this but it lasted for 3 full days despite my efforts. One day I was awake for just 4 hours. That just is not like me. I justified the sleep-a-thon with the fact that in the past almost 4 years my resting has not been on my priority list. I was so tense it was causing all kinds of physical pain. I went to our massage therapist and she did a great job but it was temporary. The next night I attended a "spa" night and received another helpful massage and some energy work. These things helped but again it was temporary. The lessons came when my normal massage therapist asked me to talk to my body and listen to what it had to tell me. That was a great experience. The gist of our conversation was that it was now time to make myself my priority. I walked away from the other two sessions with the same message. All of these practitioners gave me some tools to work with in order to accomplish this goal. A dear friend was comforting me and I was crying to her and she stopped rubbing my shoulders and lovingly said"this does not sound like Paul's wife". She was right. I kept that thought with me. I also had a good talk with God while taking an aromatherapy bath. It felt good to get those things off my chest, out of my head and heart. I woke up feeling good and happy the next day. Things have continued this way ever since. One of the difficult things on my mind was I was not feeling Paul with me like I had been. I told this to my best friend and she offered that she thought he was finally settling into his new role and stepping back a bit so that I would realize that I am strong on my own. That sounds just like him. The following day I was cleaning under the bed which was rare and found a book that I had no idea we owned. It was Dr. Wayne Dyer's The Power of Intention. My husband and I love Dr. Dyer. Paul bought just about everything by him and he lived his teachings. We both believe in the Power of Intention. It was no coincidence that I found this book while going through a bad time without Paul or so I thought and doing a choir I rarely do. That was my husband reminding me that I have this covered. Amazing things have happened since. I went out to a local benefit whose cause is dear to me and had fun, found out that one of my dreams since college for my writing is going to happen, unexpectedly but happily seemed to take part in mending a very negative and broken family fence and gained a fabulous new insight into the awesomeness of my husband. I was taking a walk,enjoying a beautiful Fall day,yesterday, when it came to me that in order for Paul to maintain the freedom in his heart, mind, body and soul he was strong, wise and courageous enough to realize that he had to let go of his physical body and cancer; returning to the Source and all of the opportunities that the universe held for him. He did not give up; he chose to live. He worked so hard the past few years at letting go of the past and hurtful things in his life and that was so amazing to be apart of and get to witness. In gaining this freedom he gifted me with freedom. It is kind of hard to say this but I feel it...I am grateful for this gift. We gave each other so many gifts. Our love for each other is a freedom and something that can never die. It is like a river that continuously flows and nourishes making life possible. How can I be sad about that. I have been blessed by it.
There is always a positive in a negative and no matter what you believe or how you live it is always possible to lose sight of this fact. It is what we make of it. In the summer when it is scorching hot aren't we glad it is not winter with freezing temperatures? Such is life!

Friday, October 29, 2010


The mornings are cold and crisp now as Fall settles into the Midwest. The leaves are changing colors and the smell of burning wood,leaves and earth are in the air. To me this is a sign of one of the most natural,peaceful times of the year. Life in the natural world is slowing down. A cold night and morning make way for a sunny but cool afternoon. The kind that you can sit outside for hours in a cozy sweater or jacket and just daydream. The squirrels and birds are also happily running and flying around looking for food and providing a lot of free outdoor entertainment. Fall represents slowing down and for me, especially this year, it represents preparation for my own personal changes as I am two weeks away from moving to the Pacific Northwest. My dreams of days like this in cozy clothes out in the woods with the aroma of wet trees and moss heavy in the air or in front of a fireplace are about to come true. I have waited four years and lived through many crazy,messy life situations for this new beginning. It is not happening the way I dreamt that it would happen by any means but as my late husband would say "don't question the how". It is happening! Another big change but at the right time! an I handle it? Yes I can. There really is not much that I do not think I can deal with at this point and I deserve this. i want and need this dream to come true. It will be I sit out on the front steps of our house smiling under bright blue skies and a calm breeze. I am a survivor! I am excited about my life including this peaceful moment right now.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Showing up

In Kris Carr's documentary film Crazy Sexy Cancer she speaks with a woman named Oni who has been living with breast cancer for 10 years at the time of filming. I love the things that Oni says and the spirit in which she says them. One of the things she says about herself and I paraphrase is that despite (having cancer) she still showed up. That got me thinking about my husband, Paul because man o' man could he say the same thing. Paul showed up everyday ready for the new day and open to whatever it might bring him. Some days that was going to the skate park to be the "old guy" there or riding his bicycle all around town. It also meant perfect motorcycle riding days around the old downtown airport and riding slow till a plane took off and then doing the Top Gun racing of the plane with his arms in the air (one of my favorites) and me on the back a little scared because who was steering but really happy to be enjoying that moment with him it also meant feeling like crap sometimes and doing nothing. There weren't too many of those days usually just after chemo. Whenever he was playing music, writing a song or recording cancer was the furthest thing from his mind. He recorded and released a new CD on his own during treatment in 2008. The smiles I saw on his face when a song was done or the whole project was finished are smiles I will never forget.
He continues to inspire me every second of the day. Sometimes that has to come through the veil of tears but it always does. I am so extremely proud of him and I vow to carry on and show up despite in his honor.
Everyone has something but it is so important to live our lives and not become a fearful slave to life.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Food lesson

I am starting to get my food prep. cooking mojo back on. It disappeared for awhile after Paul passed on but due to an ahha! moment in the past few days it is back. This means I am revisiting some notes taken in some of the nutrition classes I have taken. My favorites were taught by a dietitian here in town working, at the time, for the University Hospital's Integrative Medical Program. S, I am going to pass on some of the information here.

Since it is Fall I thought I would start with pumpkin. It is high in Vitamin A. If I remember right vegans and vegetarians that means this is a great food source for us as well as everyone else. Vitamin A keeps inflammation down and helps with upper respiratory issues. It also soothes the mucus membranes making perfect for this time of the year. Butternut squash, sweet potatoes, carrots and orange Bell Peppers are the "sidekicks" to pumpkin. Canned pumpkin is more nutritious than fresh. I am working on converting a pumpkin, chocolate chip cookie recipe into a vegan version using carob chips, honey, and fresh made apple juice instead of sugar.
When i get that perfected I will put the recipe up. I am loving eating the "mess ups"!

Spinach is next. It contains chlorophyll(as are all leafy greens) which helps to bind to carcinogens and eliminate them. It is high in iron, calcium, B vitamins, zinc, plant based Omega 3's, magnesium, CoQ10 & caratenoids. It has been shown to reduce cancers of the colon, lungs, skin, stomach, ovaries, breasts & prostate as well as reduce heart disease and cataracts. Try adding it to an omelet, saute with garlic and Olive Oil as a side or meal(adding some mushrooms, onions & smoked tofu makes a great meal) use it instead of empty iceberg lettuce on a sandwich or in a salad.

Beans and Legumes some of my favorite foods. They increase iron levels and thus blood counts.
They are high in folate, soluble fiber for lasting energy and sweeping away bad cholesterol. They contain phytochemicals which supports angiogenesis(cutting off the blood supply to tumors). A good rule of thumb is to eat 1/2 cup at least four times per week. Black Beans are nutrient dense but red, navy, pinto & garbanzo beans are all good choices. Add them to a salad (my favorite thing to do with them), make a soup, add to grains or one of Paul & mine favorites make bean tacos or burritos. Beans should be soaked over night or in the morning before work throw them in some water to soak and they will be ready to cook when you get home. If you cook beans with some kombu it will release glutamic acid and leach the trace minerals into the water

Soy-the controversial food. Always make sure your soy product says NONGMO and try to avoid highly processed soy products like soy protein isolate, TVP, and excessive soybean oils. Soy is best enjoyed in its' traditional forms like tofu, tempeh, edamame, miso & tamari soy sauce. Tofu is high in all of the Amino Acids unlike meats and also in Omega 3's. try substituting tofu for meat once a week. There are versions out there that are preflavored with spices or smoked. Fake n' Bacon Tempeh is one of my favorite things. Just heat it and serve it like you would a BLT. Nama Shoyu is my preference in a soy sauce because it is unpasteurized but other than that similar to tamari. Soy does contain phytoestrogens making it necessary for some to avoid it. Just because it contains soy does not mean it is always healthy. Soy is one of the more highly genetically modified foods around that is why making sure it is NONGMO is important. There are also many highly processed soy products out there.

Garlic and onions... yum! They help increase good cholesterol and are antiviral & antibacterial. This time of the year they are a great food to be eating. Half to 1 clove per day can lower bad cholesterol by 10%. Onions are high in chromium which helps to control insulin and allow it into a cell. The yellow and red onions have more nutrients. For both onions and garlic you want to peel them and wait five minutes to consume them. The garlic needs to be smashed and onions chopped to release the nutrients.

Okay I will leave it there for now. As the seasons change so do the cravings we get and the kinds of seasonal foods that are grown. Eating with the seasons keeps us in balance and in harmony.
A great rule of thumb when shopping that another dietitian repeated constantly in her classes is that if Time Traveller would not recognize it than do not buy or eat it. There are a few things I buy and eat that time traveller would not recognize but the ingredients in them he or she most definitely would. I am thinking of the Field Roast patties and sausages and the seitan all made with gluten and legumes.

Happy eating!!!!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

I am not Fine

Over the weekend I took a writing workshop that was great. In it was a woman whom works with Hospice. She told us in one of our discussions that she had been told recently by someone who had lost a loved one that saying Fine when asked how you are doing means feelings I never expressed. I have thought about that alot because I get asked that question a lot. Well, I am not fine or ok. I am still heartbroken and missing my husband. I still pull the covers up on his side of the bed as if he were lying there and I take his sweaters down and smell them hoping for a whiff of his scent left over from last winter. I don't take walks like I should because all of the routes are walks we took together and I do not want to walk them without him. I watch way to much tv which I did not do before just to distract myself from the fact we can't have one of our nightly conversations. Here is my question How am I supposed to be doing? My best friend and life partner is not physically here any more and it SUCKS and it HURTS. This show tomorrow night that so many have worked hard to put together and that I have tirelessly tried to promote is happening as a memorial because Paul is gone. No matter how or what I believe it doesn't get easier. I don't want people to try to comfort me. I want Paul back but since that can't happen I just want to get on with it. Tomorrow marks 3 months and I am not fine and that is ok.

Lesson learned..again

Today I learned a very important lesson. It is one I already know which makes it even more significant. Even when we know things it is easy for us to "forget" or leave this knowledge behind. I awoke with a headache this morning. I went to bed with one last night. In fact I have had one for a few days. I was attributing it to hormonal and weather changes. Now if you know my medical history you know that for me headaches are not something to mess around with. I was kind of freaked out about this but kind of not too. I know my different kinds of headaches and recognize these as tension possibly sinus headaches. This makes sense. My life has been turned upside down and inside out in the last 3 months well, really, 3 years and at this time of the year in the midwest it can be 50 degrees one day and 90 the next. I like to believe that I have all the tools to relax and keep myself from being stressed out. Paul & I studied Jin Shin Jyutsu, meditation & T'ai Chi as well as many other things to attain balance, relaxation, good energy flow and self care. I do have the tools but I have not been using them. Paul's passing was so unexpected and unbelievable to me that I have allowed myself to stray a bit from what I know. I acknowledge the loss in my life and I am trying to move forward but in so doing I have come into situations that only add to the stress even though they are my ways out of it in the big picture. Going through bankruptcy is one of those things. My lawyer is great and I really like and trust her but it is a crazy thing to have to do. I don't regret doing it. I had to. I will be glad when it is over soon. Also going through our things or his things and deciding what to keep, sell, get rid of is tough emotionally. Even though these are just things they carry attached meaning. That process took it out of me. I stay up later than I was used to over the last few years and throwing off sleep patterns is not a good thing to do physically. It throws our organs off and they need a break from the day. I am drinking less water and more tea. Tea is ok but it has caffeine and that triggers headaches plus lack of water causes dehydration which triggers headaches. I try planning what to do on this day or that and well that does not work for me either. I have tried to learn to just walk with myself and the Buddha inside me. This morning I was reading a bit about tension headaches and that is most definitely what I have been getting. According to my reading more than 70% of all headaches are this type. The easiest effective treatment is relaxation. So I remembered a few physical therapy exercises to stretch those neck muscles and did those along with some Jin Shin and breathing, rubbed some Tiger Balm on my forehead and neck and laid down for a few hours and feel better. One of my furkids (cats) was sleeping with me and I watched him thinking I have alot to learn from my furkids. They just sleep when they need it. Anyone or anything can be a teacher. My point is that these are all things I know and have chosen to "forget" recently. Life situations give us great big reasons to neglect our well being but they we can not allow them to be excuses for it. Paul would be kicking my butt for this. So from now on I walk with the Buddha, my cats and myself in order to be healthy and rested instead of stressed and tired with big dark circles and a throbbing head. What is your life lesson this week?

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Getting out of our heads/new thinking

Sitting in silence, in meditation, allows me to think in ways I have never thought before which means not thinking at all. Just being. How often do we give ourselves that gift of not thinking; turning off the monkey mind and simply living in the present moment? Allowing that to be our guide. We have been taught that we must know how it all works. This is the goal. Imagine what has gotten lost trying to achieve such a goal. Being open to possibilities and willing to trust in myself I have achieved abundance and a peace that is not measurable and comes with no price tag. I don't care about thinking things through. I would rather spend my energy getting through. If we experience something what is the point of thinking about it to much. In meditation my husband speaks to me because I allow him in; I make the space. I do not want to think about him if I can listen to him instead. It is all about honoring the present moment and opening to possibilities. We can always acknowledge the past. It does shape how we think after all but lets learn from the present without over thinking it.

I have never given birth but I have experienced death and they are the same to me. New life happens at both of these moments. My mind and heart have risen out of the murky lake of trying to define and contain life.
This is how I think in a way I have never thought before.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

8 year anniversary

Eight years ago today I was the happiest girl on earth. It was my wedding day! I remember waking up that morning with a flutter in my heart and as I took my shower I just kept thinking this is my wedding day. I was not a little girl who dreamed of a big fairy tale wedding or of my wedding day at all but it was one of the happiest most memorable days of my life. My mother came over in the early afternoon and the flowers arrived from the florist, Paul's mom works for a florist...thank you God for that. The flowers filled up our rundown old back mud porch and they were so beautiful in different shades of bright crimson, oranges, purples and greens. My back yard looked like a dream and the sun was shining much to everyone's delight because this time of the year in the midwest you never know what you will get. It was perfect. I remember staring at my dress on its' hanger and thinking this is the day, I finally get to wear it. I bought my beautiful champagne gown when we lived in Los Angeles. I found it at a little boutique on Sunset Blvd. I did not want a white "wedding" dress. I had no intention of looking weddingy on this day. If what they say to the bride is true "this is your day" than I wanted to do it my way. I wanted old Hollywood glamour and I got it. Shopping for that dress was a special time for me that was all about me and how I wanted Paul to see me as he committed himself to me. The saleswoman in the dress shop made me feel great . They outfitted many for Hollywood events but not weddings. She acted excited and was thrilled with my choice of dress not because it cost a small fortune which compared to what a lot of woman spend on their dresses it did not but because it was made by a local LA designer. I was thrilled by that too because the dress in the boutique did not fit quite right so she had to order me one in the right size. I like knowing that nobody else would have a dress like mine on their wedding day. The saleswoman said to me as I modeled the dress for her "Wait till the your guests back in Kansas get a look at you." That is just how I felt on my wedding day. I had my hairstylist do my hair in old school waves and I shopped for a specific red lipstick for months. Today I am going back for a much needed salon visit to that same hairstylist that helped me prepare for my wedding day 8 years ago. It will most likely be our last visit as I am relocating in a month. This day is not only my anniversary but the gateway to my new next chapter, ironically, as a widow and single woman. I am so extremely grateful for these 8 years and the 10 preceding them of our dating. I had 18 years with my soul mate and best friend. That is a lifetime to me because that is how we lived it with each other, for each other.
When I see these shows on tv about "bridezillas" or hear people getting frantic over who pays for what and is this right about their weddings it is so so sad to me. That is and should be one of the happiest days in the bride and grooms lives and it is not about perfection or we have to do it this way or have that No it is about you as a couple and what you want and how you will feel most comfortable and represented. We deserve wedding days we can look back on 8 years, 10 years, 50 years down the road and smile about not remembering any stress. I am so glad Paul and I did our own thing, we always have and always will. That is who I am and it is who Paul was and I will honor that for us both always. That is a promise, my commitment on this day.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


A few weeks ago I was concerned that I would not make it through this day,September 22, 2010, the first day of Autumn, Paul's birthday. I actually had a great and peaceful day. There was no negativity at work which is an amazing thing and we were not busy so I was able to relax and reflect on what this day means to me now. No more meal planning for a special occasion or making a birthday card just celebrating and honoring. I had dinner with girlfriends tonight. These ladies mean a lot to me and they make special points to spend time with me especially when I need them to. We have fun and share stories. One cannot deny the specialness of great friends be them new, old or reconnections. It does not really matter. When you have true friends and are in thier company time means nothing. I am grateful for these women in my life especially now.
Next week is our anniversary. So the end of September is marked with special dates. Ironically or not the day before our anniversary marks 9 years this year that my oldest sister passed on from cancer. Today I chose to look at these special dates as gateways to my next chapter. Days to be honored for what they have brought to my existence and to usher me into my new life. If I look at it this way I am happy for them. I welcome them with an open mind and heart.
I can't say the process of grieving is getting easier but I don't fear it any more. I have learned several lessons in the past 3 years and I am calling on that knowledge and strength to pull me through. I am also allowing myself to walk with the Buddha inside me. No more trying to control or plan but rather going with the flow so to speak. Letting life happen. After all I have amazing people who love me watching out for me in this world and the other.
The Harvest moon is beautiful tonight! It shines bright! Seasons change and so do people, life situations, etc. Hopefully when this happens we can flow like the waters and shine like the harvest moon with possibilities.

Thursday, September 16, 2010


It is so unfair, it is just so damn unfair. Yesterday I had a headache that started the day before. I could not shake it which is pretty scary for me considering my medical history with a brain abscess. I know enough to know it is the weather changes bringing on sinus issues as well as tension & stress at being overwhelmed with stuff to do namely get ready for my moving sale next weekend and getting ready to move. Both these things are things I am looking forward to but I am allowing myself to get stressed by it as well because I am doing it by myself. I have had offers to help at the sale which I am taking and tonight I have help going through things for the sale. An amazing friend is coming to help me pack up the uhaul and drive back to Portland and I have offers to help me pack. It is just difficult to go through our & his things and make decisions on what to keep. Today my best friend said what I needed to hear but did not want to say out loud. She said this is your new chapter not Paul's. This was in reference to deciding what to keep or not of his. I know this is true but I just have not been thinking about it. Last night as I ate dinner and hung out on the couch re watching Pulp Fiction I had the thought of what if something medically were to happen to me, I am alone now who, would know? That just makes me sad. I lived alone for years in my 20's and liked it but I loved living with my husband as a couple. Ok, not always but most all of the time. He made me feel like our house was our home. I am comfortable here. I am ready to move on at most levels. Excited even but sometimes I just think about things too much and it takes its' toll. I never thought about moving on without him in the physical sense. At some point all partnered people will have to do it & it will feel unfair. We will move on with our memories. This is life and like the old saying goes "whoever said life was fair?"

Friday, September 10, 2010

vegan veggie pizza

This is an easy vegan pizza. Most of the ingredients came from the farmer's markets around town including the pizza crust.

1 whole grain spelt pizza round (I get them from a local company called Bread of Life at the Brookside Farmer's Market in Kansas City, MO)

1 6ounce can no sugar added tomato paste
1 link Italian flavor Field Roast "sausage" (from Whole Foods) sliced
1 medium yellow tomato, sliced
1-2 cloves of garlic chopped
oregano to taste
3 oyster mushrooms torn into pieces (from the farmer's market)
Black Olives to taste torn to pieces
red onion slices to taste
red bell pepper slices to taste
Black Truffle Oil

Set the oven at 425 and assemble the pizza spreading the tomato paste first, then adding the chopped garlic, sprinkle the oregano and add everything else except the truffle oil. Cook for 5 minutes and then sprinkle the truffle oil and continue cooking for 4 more minutes. slice and serve.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

what has ended

This morning I was responding to an email of a very dear friend. He is one of my husband's best friends since childhood. What I wrote to him was something I have not really realized, out loud, until I typed it. As I reread it tears poured down my face. Another insight was born.
I am going to quote myself, "trust me I miss him in physical form super bad. I want nothing more than to look into his eyes, hold his hand, kiss him, snuggle with him and feel his arms around me. I think of that everyday. That part of my life has ended and it is really, really hard." The ah ha words are that part of my life has ended. These past 2 months I have not thought of it in these terms. It is not so much what is perceived of Paul that has ended but what in my life has ended as a result that is so painful. A significant portion of my life that gave me love, comfort, and companionship has ended which explains the lost feelings I had and still get sometimes. It would seem so obvious to recognize this but I honestly never did at least conscientiously until I typed it this morning. Now I am anxious to speak with some other widows, I can't stand that title or any title right now, to see if they have realized this yet. It is a pretty big deal even if it does not seem like it.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

2 month insight

Today is the 2 month mark of my husband, Paul's passing on. A lot has happened in 2 months. Change has happened. This is not a bad thing...I can say that now. I have experienced things that have made curl up into a ball in bed and cry until my eyes hurt, I have been scared out of my mind, angry, lost, heartbroken, overwhelmed & lonely, had to make some seriously tough decisions but I have also experienced great insight into Paul's passing, a renewed sense of
"self", been really happy, peaceful, laughed, smiled, curled up in bed without crying, had days when my tears were tears of happiness, felt proud, excited and grounded in my spiritual beliefs and practices. A roller coaster for sure, kind of like a kid at Magic Mountain for the first time.
My beliefs are not of a heaven and hell but rather that when we pass on our energies become a part of the one. We are all connected with each other and that never ceases. So I believe that Paul, like my dad, my sister Sue, my friend Melecia and grandparents are a part of me. Their energies are my energies. When I draw on earth and universal energies in T'ai Chi I am drawing on these people to become a part of me. I am still in this world and I still have a life to live and it is because of these people and God that I am able to do it. I do it for me and in turn I am doing it for them. When a person passes it is important to go through the grieving process and to realize that it is possible to move forward positively because that is what they want and that is what they would do. If for no other reason than out of respect for them which is respect for ourselves.
This process is part of this life. It is a teacher. Death and birth really are not that different.
I choose to live my life as best I can. I sure never dreamt that I would be 37 and single again. I am not complaining because in 37 years I have lived a wonderful, satisfying life full of deep love and amazing friendship. I would not trade it for anything. It has made me the person I am today and I am pretty happy with me. Paul is one of the best teachers ever and he wanted me to learn from him and listen to the things he was teaching. We loved The Secret and it dawned on me this past weekend as I was staring at my vision board that I have made many of the things on there manifest and Paul had his hands in those as well. "Ask, Believe, Receive" is what they teach in The Secret and they also say not to question the how. Paul would remind me of that all of the time "don't question the how" he would say. Faith is what they are teaching. Faith in one's self. I realized that Paul is my Secret. He is my how on many levels.
Today I asked that the day be a positive one and it was. It was pretty uneventful but for me positive. No crying, well, maybe once but it was while thinking of funny memories.
So, strap yourself in, put your arms in the air and enjoy the ride no matter how scary the curves and drops seem. We usually all get out of those carts with a smile and a feeling of exhilaration. Life should be lived this way and viewed this way and death is part of life.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Cold Asian Noodle Salad

I tried to make my version of a cold sesame noodle salad that I love from Whole Foods. My version is pretty tasty.

1 package of Organic Fine Udon noodles
3 small juice oranges - juiced
1/2 cup toasted sesame oil
1/4 cup Nama Shoyu
1/2 small red onion or green onions to taste
2 carrots
1/2 cucumber
red pepper flakes to taste
sesame seeds to taste
1 clove garlic or to taste

Cook the udon noodles according to the package directions. Drain & let cool. Use a vegetable slicer to slice the carrots & cucumber or chop them into small pieces. In a bowl mix the orange juice, nama shoyu, sesame oil, sesame seeds and red pepper flakes. Add the garlic, carrots and cucumber. Next add the noodles toss to coat the noodles in the sauce and chill in the fridge. Enjoy.

Thursday, August 19, 2010


This morning I woke up feeling inspired. I wrote a letter and heard my red bird singing outside.
I just listened and then went outside to leave and run errands. The singing got louder so I turned around and saw my red bird sitting on the power lines a few feet in front on me and over head. I started to hear another song being sung by another red bird. The first one, the male, flew closer to me and eventually into my neighbor's tree and the female appeared on the power lines. The male flew up next to her and they just sat together for awhile. He eventually flew off and she followed him. I watched them in total delight and realized that this is exactly what our life is. We found each other, spent time together and he went on ahead of me but I am following him in the way we chose to live our lives. He is my guide and my partner no matter where I am. Interestingly this afternoon I was cleaning out a closet that was full of old papers, folders, files, etc. and found a card my father had sent me when we lived in LA that had two red birds on the front. In the card he wrote about the many cardinals in his yard and how he thought of me when he saw them. Of course I am saving and framing this card. My dad and I were/are extremely close. To say I am a daddy's girl is almost an understatement. He passsed on last year. Before Paul passed on I used to think that the red bird was my dad coming to see me. Paul knew this and when I asked Paul for a sign that he was ok on the morning he passed on the red bird appeared and sang to me. Paul owed me a song we had talked about that in the hospital. That is why I believe the red bird is Paul. I love the circle of life. My belief in it gets me through. The connections we have to our world never die because our energies become like the elements making life possible. This belief I have brings beauty to the entire process of life which includes death. It makes it possible for me to get up everyday and get excited about whatever lies ahead. In T'ai Chi we honor the elements and the energies we share with the earth. It is a beautiful practice. I feel so strongly connected through my practices which is grounding, gives me confidence, peace, a sense of self, knowledge, faith and love. They allow me peace and comfort in the wake of Paul's passing on. I can smile everyday even with a tear rolling down my face. I can see & hear Paul in the red birds. I can see & hear myself when the female appears.
I encourage everyone to seek your path,one you truly feel connected too. It is such a gift. I am so grateful.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

This week has been better than last week. Things are going good. Ask, believe, receive is so coming true this week. That is manifestation. Last night I sat in my backyard in the rain in my swimsuit to get relief from the scorching heat of August. It reminded me that in each drop of rain is a cloud and I was being surrounded by a big beautiful cloud. That image made me feel good and reminded me also that Paul is a part of it all.
This morning I was on my way to work with some time to spare and a thought popped into my head to go to the coffeehouse down the street and get an iced green tea for work. So I did this and as I ordered I noticed an acrylic box with a photo of a young couple and little girl on it. I read the sign and it was asking for donations for the couple because the young husband had been recently diagnosed with cancer, had no health insurance and if I remember was now unemployed. I made a small contribution to the box and asked a few questions to the girl getting my tea. I ended up giving her a list of information to pass along to the couple. As I walked to my car I said to Paul "I guess you wanted me to go in there and see that today huh? I guess I was meant to go get tea this morning." When I looked at that photo I saw a cute, artsy very young looking couple with an adorable child and thought "they never could have dreamed this would happen to them." I know that feeling and so did Paul but it did. It happens everyday to people regardless of age or anything else. I remember how those first few days, weeks and months went. We were scared out of our minds and just wanted to run away. I felt like that 5 weeks ago and some days I still want to run away but I am not scared. I believe in myself. I know what I am capable of accomplishing and I know I have a lot of that still to do. Paul taught me well by example. I still cry everyday. I found some of his old driver's licenses and school id and cut them up all but the little photos and those are in my wallet. It never really goes away the shock and trauma of diagnosis (reality) and death. It becomes a part of who you are and what you have to share with the world. We can choose to dwell in the sadness and negativity or look for the positives and beauty. I am doing my very best to do the later and most days I am successful with a little help from my husband and God. I say it a lot I know but live like you mean it and find happiness and joy in the little things...simple pleasures. We never know what tomorrow holds and we can only have faith in ourselves and our source.

Thursday, August 12, 2010


Today before T'ai Chi class I was talking to the man next to me and he inspired me. I saw him 2 weeks ago for the first time. He has terminal lymphoma I found out today but he has had it for 10 years he told me. He was very open and told me about the treatments he has received the side effects he suffers from and how he was told that the lump under his arm was terminal cancer. It reminded me of a woman in the last writing class I took a few weeks ago. She was one of three in the group that had a stage IV cancer diagnosis. Hers is uterine...6 years ago. That's right 6 years ago, stage IV and terminal 10 years out from diagnosis. I am telling you this because these people were told they were dying and they are still here. We don't read about them in the papers or see them on tv but they are real people and they do exist.
Now I do not have close relationships with either of them so I do not know about their lifestyles but what I do know from personal experience is how important it is to take care of ourselves body,mind and spirit. There are a lot of excuses "why not to" floating around out there and let me ask you how are they working out for you? Sure sometimes there really is an obstacle in the way of change but obstacles can be worked around or eliminated. Life is too short not to live like we mean it. Ask anyone diagnosed stage IV or terminal cancer. Fact is nobody knows when their time on earth will end. For some it is tomorrow and for some it is not for many years. Don't wait to have fun like a kid again, take that dream vacation, fall in love (real deep love), swim in the ocean, tell your friends you appreciate them, tell the same thing to yourself, etc.
Be inspired by someone as often as you is the best motivator and reason for getting up each day. I have several inspiring people in my life. The biggest is of course my husband who continues to do so everyday. He still makes me laugh and his singing voice still puts me at ease. We still have conversations and he tells me what to do about certain things. I seek him and the others out. I invite them to be part of my life even if it only for an hour. That is the kind of life I want to live. I want a healthy body,mind and spirit. I appriceate my life. I aspire to inspire.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

2 yum recipes

This is an easy vegan pizza. I made it up yummy! I like to use a pizza crust I get at my local organic farmer's market. So if you are in my city it is the Spelt pizza crust by Bread of Life. Many store bought crusts contain sugar.

One spelt pizza crust
one small can organic no sugar added tomato paste
oregano to taste
3 to 4 cloves garlic chopped or sliced thin
3 to 4 marinated artichoke hearts sliced
2 green onions chopped
black olives
cherry tomatoes sliced to taste
sietan pieces to taste
crushed red pepper flakes to taste
black truffle oil to taste

Assemble ingredients and bake in oven at 450 for 11 minutes or until crust starts to get crispy. Drizzle the truffle oil on at about 5 minutes left. Mushrooms would be a great addition. I did not have any. Lots of things are "to taste" out of individual preference. A pesto sauce would also be good and make the truffle oil unnecessary. Sietan or wheat meat is made from gluten so if you are avoiding gluten leave this off.

Another great summer salad that I only recently was introduced to at a dinner party is watermelon,cucumber, mint with a little balsamic vinegr to cut the sweetness of the watermelon. So good.
Cut up pieces of watermelon & cucumber pretty small and add some fresh, cut up mint leaves. Toss it together and add a small amount of balsamic vinegar to taste. I start with maybe 1 tbs. for a smallish bowl for one or 2 people b/c you can always add more to your liking. Chill then serve. If you are like me and love watermelon but can't handle it when they are too sweet this is perfect. This is also high glycemic FYI.

Monday, August 9, 2010


I am so happy that I found my spiritual path and that it is in Zen Buddhism. The Sangha I belong to is such a gift. Tonight I needed my meditation time and the positive energies of the Sangha. I was telling them that since Paul's passing I have felt a strong sense of connection to everything. I am so grateful for my life. I realize that Paul is always connected to me, not just because we were married but because he was alive and I am alive. Life connects us. He is part of me. He is part of this world. He is part of Mother Earth and Father Sky. In honoring, respecting and thanking them I also honor, respect and thank Paul. It is beautiful to realize this.
I am also able to see that I have the choice to be sad and angry or to relese those feelings and replace them. I know it seems impossible to do that but I also know it is possible. It might only last for a few moments but that is ok. Over the weekend negativity and anger crept in and as I asked Paul for guidance and help with it a calm came over me and I was able to replace it with laughter and happiness spending time with my family at lunch Sunday. I wanted to release it and Paul and God helped me do that. It did come back again but it did not last.

My practice teaches me even more to live like I mean it. That is the motto Paul and I had adopted. That is how I intend to live.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Music shops

Today in Lawrence I drove past Mass Street Music and looked at the building with some sadness. Nobody was in the car telling me to turn in..."I'll only be 10 minutes...I promise". I am not sure how I can walk past any music store anywhere without going in out of habit with Paul. It makes me sad to think about it. It did not matter if we were in LA or a small midwestern town we had to stop in to the music shop and see what they had. Luckily for me there is always a stool in the guitar area for people to sit on while trying out a guitar. Those stools were my posts on these visits. Ten minutes usually meant one hour at least. I knew that. At least I had been educated on what everything was and the pros & cons of one brand over another so if I had to I could intelligently talk to someone about such things. I would even spot stuff sometimes before Paul that I knew he would like and point it out to him. He always liked that.
Now what do I do with that information? These are the times that make me appriciate just how intertwined we were/are.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

No title

Today is a tough day because one month ago the love of my life passed away. It seems like one year and one hour ago at the same time. I have and continue to ride the roller coaster of emotions. The highs, the lows, the long sudden drops, the upside downs and the curves. What I am so keenly aware of is how important it is to live my life like I mean it in a positive way. I had the ultimate inspirational teacher in Paul. It would be disrespectful to him if I did not do this and push on. It is what he wants for me and what I want for myself. I have had a beautiful life so far and it is not over. I will continue to have a beautiful life. It has had a lot of unexpected twists and turns but I have grown from them in so many ways. Paul played an enormous role in this and for him I will always be grateful. His presence in my life then and now is of pure joy, strength, creativity, honesty, support, love and openness. Our dear friend Dana said the most profound words to me a few days after Paul passed while I was crying and grieving hard. She said you know Keri the situation could have been reversed three years ago when you were sick and how would you have wanted Paul to handle this because that is what he wants for you. I actually never had thought about that and I think about it everyday now. I am still learning lessons. Today complete exhaustion has set in. I have never felt so tired and foggy. This morning I could not remember my phone number for about 5 minutes. I have thought about it and in three years I have gone from being seriously sick myself, having brain surgery, almost dying, all kinds of therapies, another surgery and recovery to Paul getting diagnosed with stage IV inoperable, metastatic, pancreatic cancer, processing that, figuring out what the in the hell to do, researching, researching, researching, taking nutrition classes, learning to cook, learning to be the best possible advocate, caretaker, nondegreed doctor possible, changing my lifestyle with Paul, making unbelievably great memories, writing like a mad woman, Paul actually getting sick,being in the hospital, complete organ failure, Paul passing, planning a memorial for my husband (something I never thought I would have to time soon anyway), starting to deal with all of the paperwork crap that has to be dealt with, shock wearing off, realizing it is not a nightmare it is real, crying uncontrollably everyday, acceptance (yeah right but there is no other choice), burn out. Three years is a long time and it will make you tired. I must allow myself time to rest. I know this. It is crazy because in times like this it is easy to ignore the things you know just so you can make it through another day. Deep breath.
Some very great things have happened this week too. The one I am most happy about is the fact that I found Paul's wedding ring or it found me. I had looked and looked for it since the day he passed away with no luck. Dana even looked for me. It was making me crazy not to find it. He had to stop wearing it when he was doing chemo because he lost so much weight (from cancer and chemo combined) that it slid right off his finger. So Thursday night I was in our dressing room and looked up at a built in cabinet that I never really pay attention to and notice two flat boxes on top. I knew what these were and decided to get them down to take to a friend I would be seeing later that evening. Just before I started to take them down I said out loud "ok sir, I really need to find your ring. Please Paul help me find it." Then I stood on my tip toes and tried to wrestle these boxes off the shelf. A little box fell from on top of them. I looked at it and it was the box Paul's wedding band came in so I opened it and there it was. I just started crying because I had finally found it and there was no doubt that he was listening to me. No doubt at all. So if you have ever wondered if those that have passed on here you talking to them just remember this story. They absolutely do.
There is beauty in all of this and I try hard to pick it out and focus on it. It is the circle of life happening and in reality I have never felt so connected as I have this past month and now. I already kew how precious life was because I almost lost it but wow! know I am super aware of it and I so appriciate mine.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


Well, today makes 4 weeks since Paul passed away. That just seems crazy! I have listened to his music more in these 4 weeks than ever before except, of course, for when he was recording it. Then it was not a choice and there was no escape. I loved it always though. In listening to the songs something has struck me as ironic. Some of the songs on this latest cd from 2008 were written much earlier and a few were new. Some of them almost seem to foreshadow what played out in Paul's life. I know that this is not that unusual considering we usually write from our experiences but that doesn't usually foreshadow events it recalls them. I don't know what to make of it if anything I just think it is a testament to the power we all have in our lives to intuitively know that the universe is always listening to us and giving us messages. Maybe it is just because my week has been uber immersed in Paul's music stuff in all kinds of ways so I am more in tune to it and to the situation. If you have the Airline Bungalow cd I especially find this true of the song Ready to Go. Anyway, I just miss my honey singing and playing The Beatles or David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust for me. I also seriously miss watching HGTV's ColorSplash ,really, That Metal Show, Gene Simmons Family Jewels and The Office with him. Those were the only shows we watched regularly.
Okay I am listening to that song again and I remember him writing this song. I think I know what it was about but it is so weird how it seems to eerily fit the last 21/2 years. Ok time to move on. I have to say he ROCKED the guitar!!!!

Monday, August 2, 2010


I received a card 2 weeks ago that I love because it did not have the word sympathy on the front of it. It said "What a beautiful difference one single life made." It is from our therapist whom we love and who knows us very well. I keep this card next to a photo of Paul.
It is true Paul made a beautiful difference in this world. He did it for me, friends, family and strangers and in that I find comfort. He lives on as the cloud does in the rain. Because he was so he shall always be. We are connected in this world in reality and we do not just cease to be. When I talk about my red bird I am serious. Paul is that bird singing to me just as I am a being seeing the bird and hearing him sing. The circle of life does not stop. With this belief I find peace and comfort. I also have a deep respect for all life. I was raised to have this respect. It is part of who I am.
There have been times when Paul would call me out on this. The most recent was over black ants that found refuge in my kitchen a few months ago. We do everything possible in this house not to kill anything unless we have too. The ants were out of control. I felt I had no choice. The little buggers are hard to catch & release. So I just finally started killing them. Paul saw me doing this and heard me complaing about them and stood next to me and said I guess we all need a home and something to eat. I stopped and looked at him kind of annoyed because how do I get rid of them the right way and pretty proud of him and happy that he said that to me.
Imagine...we all have an impact on each other and the world in which we this way we are one with each other. The possibilities that exist in this belief are amazing and bring peace. I am grateful for this insight, for Paul & I being part of each other's lives and for the connections I have realized.

Miracle Man

My tears are falling because this week it has been one whole month since Paul passed. Just a few minutes ago I realized that last June he stopped chemo which meant that for one year he lived with stage IV, inoperable , metastic pancreatic cancer with no conventional treatment. That is so absolutely amazing and unheard of. I called Paul my Miracle Man and wow, was I right! Let this be an inspiration to you cancer or not. We do have some control and we need to own it. Live like you mean it!

Sunday, August 1, 2010


"Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
and sings the tune without words,
And never stops at all." Emily Dickinson

This is one of my favorite quotes and ironically or not my niece sent us a card with this quote on it that I received the day after Paul passed away. She did not know that I love that quote.
Anyway I want to tell you about some things that put hope back into my life. It only left me briefly because I Paul & I lived hopeful lives. I don't feel like I ever lost hope completely but losing Paul sure did strip some things down. The realization that it is not a terrible dream, it is the situation and my life goes on is a heavy one. A difficult one like a burden really. But a burden full of possibilities.
Going to meditation not only reminds me that I am indeed present but also allows me the relaxation time I desperately need.
Remembering...what at first brings pain becomes an alli in dealing with grief. Those memory lane trips are some of the best ever now.
Wearing something of Paul's everyday helps me feel close to him.
Listening to his music and appreciating the fact that whenever I want to hear him I just have to pop in a cd and I can always hear him play guitar this way too. Maybe not the songs I want to hear him play for me but like Roberta Flack sang "strumming my pain with his fingers" is what I need.
Spending time with amazing friends even if that means being on the phone, long distance for hours.
Going back to T'ai Chi class at Turning Point and talking with the people who spent lots of time with Paul for 2 1/2 years and who get it because they are going through it, have been through it, whatever, and did it with us. Those bonds are deep and healing.
Not avoiding places we went but maybe going with a good friend now or with the knowledge that if I ask Paul will be there with me.
Not denying my feelings no matter what they are.
Talking about him when I feel like it. Talking to him when I feel like it and not feeling crazy when I hear him talking back.
Not dwelling on the paperwork everyone wants from me or the money issues. Letting them be distractions only.
Looking forward to future plans but with no set "have to's" attached to them now.
Reading a book I have had for years but did not have time to get lost in.

"Because we loved,
there will be tears.
Because we laughed,
there will be memories.
Because they lived,
there will still be joy."

"One day at a time let the love you shared carry you through." These quotes are from a card I received and love.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

the grief monster

Last night was a great night with great friends and teachers. I needed it. My week has been basically good until work yesterday. Something summoned the grief monster and I was remembering Paul's last few hours and I read an article in a travel magazine and thought about all of the places we talked about or I thought about us going to that we never did. I spent some time crying in the bathroom. Thinking about other couples getting to do those things is like a knife through my heart. How can I ever go back to Zuma Beach in Malibu? We were there last July and we love that beach. What about Venice Beach boardwalk?? Impossible to go back it seems. We spent many weekend days there and we were there last July. Southern California is so near and dear to my heart but it also is such a huge reminder of a life that does not exist any more. That really sucks. It is hard to realize this. My memories there are amazing with Paul and my own. I want to go back to the Tao Healing Center in Santa Monica and get a massage from the older Asian lady Paul used to rave about. I want to go back to Topanga Canyon which is one of my favorite parts of LA. Paul and I hiked there last July and in 2008 we went there to a favorite restaurant and he got to order dessert because it had no sugar in it. We took pictures of him eating it. The restaurant is beautiful. The seating is all outdoor on decks. We took my parents there when they would visit us in LA. Anyway, it is not fair in so many ways. So unfair!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Acknowledge the past,honor the present,open to possibilities

I had T'ai Chi at Turning Point today for the first time in too long. Because of work schedules changing I had to stop taking the class that Paul & I love so much but because of my schedule changing again I am now able to go back...just when I need it. Another gift from Paul. My favorite movement has always been one that acknowledges the past, honors the present and opens us to possibilities. Today that was especially poignant to me. We repeated it a few times so I had time to think about what my past is and what it has given me. Also, I was able to think about the present moment and what that means to me know and all of the possibilities that I am open too.
Just going through that movement gave me peace and comfort. Paul liked doing one called wave arms like clouds. During this one we are invited to close ours eyes through the movement and visualize clouds passing by. So today I visualized Paul in his favorite baby blue t-shirt doing this movement as I had seen him do it for 2 1/2 years on top of a cloud. It was so clear it was like it was real. It made me smile. The T'ai Chi we do is more like a meditation and combines a little Qi gong.
Interestingly I have found comfort in looking back and remembering Paul and myself. I would have thought that doing this would be crushing but it is not. It brings happiness, appreciation and awareness to my heart & mind. The night I wrote about how we met I also listened to the songs he used to sing and play for me on guitar. Then I remembered how I used to feel seeing him playing on stage. It was like I was 20 again and those butterflies that come with falling in love and being attracted to someone came back. My girlfriends and I call those the salad days. The salad days are so fun. Mine with Paul lasted a really long time. They popped back into play whenever he picked up the guitar and sang me a song or just stared at me sitting next to him like I was the greatest thing. He did these things often for 18 years. That is something to hold onto and feel grateful for. That is part of my past and it shapes my present. It is amazing. The gratitude I have for us being a part of each others' lives is limitless. These things far out weigh grief. Grief is a monster and I do not deny it but I like to release it and make room for joy and peace. That is what Paul wants me to do and it is what he would have done in my shoes. Grief is kinda like cancer really,emotionally speaking and I intend to deal with it the way we dealt with cancer. I have one of the best role models for inspiration.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

My Husband

It has been three weeks today since you passed and I feel closer to you than ever. I think it is all of the time I have had to remember things forgotten and appreciate the once unappreciated moments. I am sad today but also intensely overcome with your presence in my life. You gave me so much to live for and so much to learn. Your spirit, creativity and passion were/are fuel for mine and honey it runs deep. This is where I chose to dwell because in our dreams the possibilities are endless and the opportunities are vast. I have been to the mountain as Dee puts it. I stood at the summit hand in hand with you.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

the begining

I am strolling down memory lane tonight. I want to share my love story. It is extensive as it is 18 years old this August. So i will start at the beginning and just add random stuff.
I was on summer break after my freshman year of college. I was spending the summer at my parents house and they went out of town so I had a group of my high school friends over for a last get together before college started back up. As the night progressed I got a bit bored and one of my nieces came over with a friend and told me about a warehouse party that she heard about or read about. To make things clear I am the youngest of seven kids so my nieces and nephews are closer to my age than my brothers and sisters. Also it was the early 1990's so warehouse parties given by bands were the thing. I wanted to check it out but nobody else but my nieces wanted too. So, I left my party, these were all old friends that I trusted and that knew the do's & don'ts, and we went across town and arrived at a crowded warehouse full of strangers and loud music coming from the stage up front. This was the band's practice space and they happened to be a popular local band. We knew nobody in the crowd but we did not expect too because none of us were 21 yet so we had not seen any local bands or gone to the bars yet. At one point I was standing by myself close to the kegs and noticed the cutest guy walking in with a friend in a big bird stocking cap. The cap caught my attention but not as much as the hot blond guy with him. The hot blond was Paul. We seemed to catch and hold each other's gaze so he walked over to introduce himself. That went something like this..."Hi, I'm Paul. I am in a band maybe you have seen us or heard of us. I haven't seen you out before." "Hi, I'm Keri. This is my first warehouse party and I don't go out that much so I have not seen or heard of your band." "Ok well, can I buy you a beer?" That is how it all began. I did not want to tell him I was not 21 yet. It was obvious he was older than me. He did not ask me my age. It took about four or five dates for me to tell him. Although on our first date we went to a local band bar and I had to say that I did not have ID. It was not an issue. He knew everyone there. The sweet thing about that initial meeting is that one of my nieces had a curfew, she was still in high school, and being the good aunt I needed to get her home for that which was about 20 minutes away from the party. I told Paul I had to do this and told him if he waited here I would come back. He waited. He was in the parking lot when I got back. The party was over and mostly cleared out. I was shocked and happy. I remember taking his hair out of the ponytail he wore and being jealous of his curls and thinking how I had struck gold meeting him. His long blond curly Robert Plant hair did it for me. It still does just thinking about it. Funny enough he had a poster of a young Robert Plant on one of his walls and I used to look at that and at Paul and just smile because I had my rockstar boyfriend. The first time I saw him play on stage to a pretty packed bar I was so proud and in love. Seeing him up there playing guitar was so amazing to me. I used to be mesmerized by his hands & fingers running up and down the frets on the headstock. I never understood how he remembered what note to play until years later. I also used to think how lucky I was that those hands were mine and I still feel that way. Dating a musician and marrying one is a pretty wonderful thing if you can handle them. I loved more than anything seeing him play on stage for people. He was so happy to being doing it. He belonged there and he knew it. I loved being a band girlfriend. It was not all smooth sailing but that is what made it special to me. I would give anything to see him on stage just one more time. To say that we spent a lot of time in bars is an understatement. I adopted the life while going to school, working and supporting myself. It became no big deal to stay out till 4 am have to get up for work at 8am and do homework on Sundays or weekday nights. Lucky for us both I moved into apartments in midtown near him and the bars. It was also near my college. I made it work and had a blast doing it.
That's all for tonight.

Monday, July 26, 2010

A hard day's night

Tonight I ate the worst, nutritionally, dinner I have eaten in over 2 1/2 years. I had a Rice Dream Mocha Moon Pie, an individual bag of Kettle Chips Krinkle Cut Salt & Pepper Potato Chips and a Hazelnut Crusted Field Roast from Whole Foods Deli. Now I admit it was delicious!
The Rice Dream Moon Pie and the chips were our food vices. They were treats on ocassion except when Paul saw the chips on sale 2 for $5 or the summer he ordered a case of the moon pies for home. The field roast is one of my favorite things. It is like comfort food for me. So I justify this meal like this. I went back to work today for the first time in a month. It was going back to work. Nothing crazy, no bad moods just not where I wanted to be. I heard the word sweet on the stereo in the car and it sparked tears because my dad used to call me sweets. After he died last year Paul started doing it. Now it reminds me of my two favorite men in the world. I tried to take care of some of the stuff I have to deal with that is frustrating & no fun. Only one person who was suppossed to call me back today did it. I came home and realized that I was out of water and food for breakfast and tonight is my sangha night which is my meditation night. so I cut that short and only stayed 30 minutes and went to the store. This is when it got tough. It has only been 3 weeks since Paul passed away and I have been to the store twice and it is not getting easier. I only shop for one now and it is hard to pass the foods that he loved. We used to eat at the store on shopping nights and the thought of eating by myself there makes me sad. When I look at the tables I can see him sitting there waiting for me to bring utensils and napkins. I also only need the small cart now. But the hardest thing is that the people there are very friendly and a few recognize us as regular customers and one in particular knew about Paul having cancer and the pain he was in in the past few months and that he was going to try the nerve block. He was working tonight so he came over to the check out lane I was in. I knew he would ask me about Paul because he always did. He seemed to notice my groceries were considerably less and he asked me how his treatments were going? I felt as sorry for him having to hear what I was about to say as I did for me having to say it. I looked up and told him that he passed away 3 weeks ago. He obviously did not know what to say at first and I had nothing to offer to make the situation any better. He finally reached for my hand but got the cart and looked me in the face and said "you know even with all the pain he was just a really nice man."I almost lost it. I thanked him and he told me to take care of myself and I told him he would still be seeing me and he said yes but take care of yourself. It was so sweet. I am just in awe that Paul was able to touch people's lives like he did. I mean this was a younger guy at the grocery store not a friend from years ago or something. They just got along and spoke to each other about once per week.
So even though I had a beautiful salad made for dinner I caved and ate the other stuff. I deserve it. For some reason moments like that with people that are not strangers but not friends or family are tough. The waiter at a resturant we always went too was the same way.
On my drive home I noticed the sky was beautiful as the sun set. It was a Pacific sunset which to me means blue, orange, pink and purple hues. It was amazing. Paul & I started really taking notice of the sky,the colors, the clouds, etc. after a painting class we took last year. Tonight's sky gave me some comfort. You got to take where you can get it sometimes. Not to shabby.