I wear two rings, an engagement/wedding ring, which I’ve worn since 1990 and an anniversary ring, which I’ve worn since 2005. I had the anniversary ring appraised after I had it designed. However, I have not ever had my wedding ring appraised. It has been 12 years since I had the other ring appraised. I have NEVER had them checked by a jeweler. That is something that I am supposed to do each year. Oops! Last Sunday, I dropped my rings off at a jeweler to be checked, cleaned, and appraised. I will pick them up next Sunday.

I am re-appraising many things, not just my diamond rings. Most of all, I am re-appraising my lifestyle. It’s the same that happened when I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012. And guess what? Having two heart attacks, out of the blue, also gives me pause and time to re-appraise my life and how I live it.

I have been coping, so far, rather well. However, I can realistically tell you that I am uncertain. I am afraid. I think these are reasonable reactions. I am working successfully to enjoy each day. I have embarked upon another voyage of ambiguity. This time, however, I may have a quite rare cardiac disease. Fortunately, I have found resources through the breast cancer blogging community, which is connected to other health care advocacy groups. Unlike my breast cancer treatment, in order to find specialists this time, I’m going to need to travel out-of-state.

I am someone who deals better with adversity if I have some past experience dealing with it. I am not grateful for having had cancer in the past, but I’ve got to tell you that I learned a lot in that experience and I am drawing on it now.

Today, it is beautiful and sunny. I’ve had a good work day, part of which included time with a kindergartener. I came home to my loving husband. For now, I will meditate on that.

I have been working half-time this week, following what turned out to be two small heart attacks. As I wrote previously, the current working diagnosis is Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection (SCAD). It is infrequently diagnosed and mostly seen in women in their 40’s to 50’s, physically fit, and with few or no heart attack risk factors. The cause is unknown. It is possible for dissections to heal so I am taking a number of medications to improve my heart functioning as well as to prevent the formation of blood clots. I have follow-up tests and lots to learn about heart functioning.

This was a shock, to understate things. Just two months ago, my husband and I were in Southeast Asia. We were walking through ruins in extremely hot conditions, just as we’d done when we were in our 20’s, on our honeymoon in Egypt during the summer. During the vacation, I was really pleased by the health of my body and what I was capable of doing. I thought of trips that John and I could take in the future.

Yesterday, I had a mammogram. It was normal. My 5 year “no evidence of disease” anniversary is in two weeks. This is big news that has been upstaged by my heart. In the past, I have compared cancer to a natural disaster. It can happen to anyone, no matter how virtuous. I am re-thinking that metaphor, at least in my experience. My breast cancer was more like a failed safety inspection. The treatment was to prevent a disaster. One of the harder aspects of breast cancer treatment is that it made me feel sick when I hadn’t felt sick.  The heart attack was like a natural disaster, a small earthquake followed by an aftershock. They caused damage to my heart. The medications I am taking now actually seem to be making me feel better.

Today, I have no work responsibilities or health care appointments. I am taking care of myself. I am listening to my body. Yesterday, it told me that taking a walk with a friend was a good idea and it was. Today, my body told me to sleep in. It has also told me to spend a lot of time resting on the couch. Finally, it has told me to take pause and check in with my thoughts and feelings.

One thought that passed my mind was, “I’m still healing from the cancer and now I have heart problems.” I felt the urge to cry “foul!” (And it would have been fine if I had.) My next realization is that I have always been healing from multiple wounds.

We are all healing from multiple wounds.

Be kind to yourselves, friends.

Don’t turn away. Keep your gaze on the bandaged place. That’s where the light enters you.
-Jalaluddin Rumi


As many of you know, I have been taking pottery classes for the last year or so. I typically throw (make forms using a pottery wheel), rather than hand build. Learning to use a pottery wheel is challenging. I am still learning how to center the clay on the wheel head, consistently. There are all of the steps to remember. Even if one carries out the steps, there are lots of variables that impact how fast the wheel should go at each step, the amount of water that should be added during throwing, the amount of pressure applied by each hand, the positioning of hands and fingers, and the speed at which the hands and fingers should move up the clay. On top of that, the type, size, and hardness of the clay is another variable to be considered. Finally, there are shaping tools that can be use. There seem to be about 5 million pottery tools in existence. One type of tool can have so many variations. People who are very experienced know not only how to use the tools, which requires finesse, but how to select the best tool.

When I first started throwing, nothing really turned out. That is normal, I am not being overly self-critical. Then every once in a while something would turn out and I couldn’t figure out what I’d done differently. I like bowls, so I threw a lot of bowls. I decided I wanted to be able to throw a salad bowl. Clay forms shrink about 7% from the time they are thrown to the final firing so the initial throwing is of a larger than desired piece. For me, a salad bowl is a pretty big bowl, and it certainly was when I was a beginner. Nonetheless, I was inspired by the challenge to throw “a big bowl”.

I had enough success with big bowls to keep me going for awhile. I have to say objectively, I have big bowl-making potential. There were a lot of flops, though, not to mention many bowls that cracked in the kiln. None of my bowls were made with an intention to make anything but a bowl. I do not yet have the skills to plan size and shape ahead of time. Okay, more accurately, I do not yet have the skills to implement the size, design, thickness, etc of the bowl I have planned in my head.

One quarter, after thinking I would just keep realizing my “big bowl potential”, I made flop after flop. I made bowls that were of uneven thickness or that were not round, or that were not level on the rim. I made bowls that looked so so promising as I pulled up the sides to make them thinner and thinner, only to collapse in on themselves on the wheel. More than an hour’s work and all I could show for it was a wet mess on the wheel and sore throwing muscles.

All through the process, I read about bowl-making. I watched Youtube videos on “big bowls”. I watched my teacher’s bowl-making demonstrations, which she typically did once per quarter. Each time, I learned something new and tried to apply it to my big bowl-making. Then I gave in to the idea that had been lurking in the back of my head, which was to make little bowls. They are faster and easier to make. I could focus on my technique. I started making little bowls and my bowls started getting more refined.

Last week, I met with my psychologist, Rebecca. It was the first time I’d seen her in a while. As I mentioned last week, I’ve been dealing with some challenges related to stress and my heart health. I brought Rebecca two of my little bowls as a gift. We had a productive session.  I have some work to do in my life. Physically, my healing from my cardiac event is not an linear as I’d like. There are fits and starts. My diagnosis is undergoing refinement as my physicians are gaining more information. The current working diagnosis is Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection (SCAD) a rare condition, caused by a tear in an artery wall. Some blood flow is diverted to outside of the artery wall, lowering blood flow. Further, blood that gets outside of the artery wall is more likely to clot, which can press on the artery, narrowing it. SCAD is present in men and women, however, when present in women, they tend to be in their 40’s and 50’s, physically fit, and with low risk of heart disease. What causes these tears is unknown.

My prognosis is still good but there is uncertainty as to the length and course of my recovery in the upcoming weeks. I have resumed a practice I started right after my breast cancer diagnosis, five years ago, which is to meditate about 10-15 minutes per day. I’ve had to temporarily cut back on my walking until my heart heals so each day I do the little bit that I can do.

I just learned that Doris Ann Price, stage 4 cancer patient, breast cancer advocate, mother, wife, dancer, and inspiration for the M.A.C. lipstick shade, “Lady Danger” died today. I met Doris Ann on social media, struck by her smiling face and ever present “cancer sucks” button, attached to a black beret. Doris Ann conveyed the horrible facts about breast cancer as well as her bright and ebullient spirit. Despite one of her tumors, which gradually left her unable to speak, Doris Ann’s voice, in her writing and actions, was clear.

I met Doris Ann in person a few years ago when I was visiting North Carolina for my graduate school reunion. At the time, she lived in Raleigh. We met at an arts and crafts gallery in Carrboro, NC and had lunch together. Doris Ann was a petite woman who moved like the dancer that she was. This was remarkable to me as she was quite ill even then and in her late 60’s. Her appearance was also one of an artist from her bright red lipstick, hip eye glasses, black and red clothing, and black beret. Doris Ann wore large artistic jewelry.

Sometimes Doris Ann could come across as almost unbelievably positive on social media. I can tell you that Doris Ann’s positive spirit is real as was her intelligence and realistic grasp of the gravity of her health. She also shared with me some personal pain in her life. Doris Ann was as real as can be.

Doris Ann enjoyed a beautiful relationship with her husband, Aaron. She had two loving children, Sharon and Roger. They have my heartfelt condolences.

Doris Ann led a full life with every breath. She worked hard to find effective treatment for her self. Doris Ann worked hard for breast cancer patients, past and present, everywhere.

Thank you, Doris Ann, for your friendship and leadership.



(Yes, I know. Two posts in one day. It happens.)

I woke up this morning, thinking, “Today’s act of self-care is getting myself to my regularly scheduled Weight Watchers meeting.” I know. I just got home from the hospital. If I hadn’t been up for it, I wouldn’t have gone.

I’m glad I went. There are some very supportive and refreshing people in that Sunday mid-morning meeting. Unfortunately, our regular leader, Jody, was away at a conference. Jody is really quite marvelous. It’s typically chef’s surprise when there is a substitute. The substitute leader had good energy and was funny. However, she did not incorporate group input very well. My husband noted that she talked over people and that the things she said sometimes contradicted themselves.

I wasn’t enjoying her talk and at one point she said that our bodies have “always been loyal to us” but we are not always loyal to them. She also said that we deserved to have “our favorite body”. I have worked really hard against my perfectionistic tendencies as well as the thought that I can control my health outcomes absolutely. One of the other women responded to the loyalty comment, “I don’t know about that.” She is 80 years-old and has had rheumatoid arthritis since she was a child. She is also very active and runs a group foster home for teens. I also piped up, “Yes, so-and-so (the 80-year-old member), has had a chronic health condition since she was a child. Those things happen but they aren’t fair. I’ve had cancer. I felt like my body had betrayed me but I came to look at disease as a natural disaster. Sometimes they just happen.”

In response to the “favorite body” phrase I said, “Although that might be a helpful frame for other people, it doesn’t work for me.” Then she said, “I’m going to challenge you on that.” I replied, ‘You can’t challenge me on that. “Favorite” is subjective and determined by me, not by anyone else. I work to be happy with the body I have. I’m 51. I’ve had cancer. I will never have my favorite body. I was healthier and fitter when I was 20 and that’s the way it is.’ She replied by saying that “favorite” didn’t mean comparing. I said, “But favorite is comparative.” She didn’t get it and I could tell that she wouldn’t get it. It was clear that nothing was going to come out of the conversation so I stopped challenging her.

One of the points she made was that she was really talking about attachment. You have a “favorite body” like a kid has a favorite stuffed animal, no matter what it looks like or how it wears out over time. The use of the word “loyalty” also refers to relationship and trust, just as attachment does. Maybe it would have made more sense to talk about having “The Velveteen Body” after the book, The Velveteen Rabbit. I’m not sure the analogy works for me but it at least gives me something interesting to think about.

I do like that a Velveteen Body is one that is much loved, one that provides comfort, and one that is real.

I attended the March for Science on April 22nd. I was also a member of the national Facebook group for the march. The page has a lot of members, from diverse backgrounds. There were mostly very interesting and supportive posts in this group. Some members had beliefs very different from my own, for example, the member who claimed “emotions aren’t real.”

We tend to separate our brains from the rest of our body and our emotions from the rest of our being. Perhaps, emotions are tied to concepts such as spirituality, which are seen to float around and exist apart from us. From a mental health/science perspective, however, the brain is very much a part of the body and emotions are very much a part of the brain and central nervous system.

Stress isn’t an emotion but it is tied to strong emotional states and certain life situations. Stress can be acute or chronic. Stress can be motivating. Stress can harm our bodies when it is excessive.

Last Thursday afternoon, while finishing up with my last patients of the day, I felt sudden achy pain along my upper back, accompanied by nausea. I was able to finish and then felt the same achy feeling under my arms, and in my chest. Although not the smartest thing to do, I drove myself home. When I walked through the door, my husband looked up, gave his beautiful smile, and said, “Hi Sweetie! How was your day?”.  I replied, “I am not well. Call 9-11.”

The fire department arrived less than 5 minutes later, closely followed by paramedics, the latter of which had a portable EKG machine. I was impressed by the professionalism and kindness of the first responders. They didn’t seem incredibly concerned about the readings but recommended that I go to the hospital E.R. rather than wait to follow-up with my primary care physician in the upcoming days. I agreed.

The achy pains had lessened some with the extra oxygen I had been getting since the firemen hooked me up to an oxygen tank at the house. It was rush hour in Seattle. The ambulance driver expertly dodged through traffic. Fortunately, an outstanding aspect of my city is that drivers are very quick to get out of the way of emergency vehicles.

I was admitted to the E.R. I changed into a gown and my blood was drawn for the first of what would be eleven needle jabs over less than a 48 hour period. They were testing my troponin levels and they were able to do the test bedside, instead of having to send it to the lab. Troponin is an enzyme released by the heart when it is damaged. When my nurse returned to the room, he saw the test results. (The test had been started by a phlebotomist.) He said, surprised, “This is elevated. Is this YOUR test?” He confirmed that it was.

Although no one said this outright until I was discharged, from this point until the following morning, the assumption was that I’d had a heart attack. By 6:30 pm, my pains were totally gone. I had an EKG that night followed by subsequent blood draws, one at midnight, one at 2:00 am, and another at 5:00 am. I was surrounded by kind and skilled medical staff. The night nurse, Lorenzo, was particularly good. He was kind, personable, and knowledgeable. (By the way, one thing I love about my hospital, Swedish Medical Center, is that I’ve always had wonderful night nurses. I’ve heard horror stories about other hospitals.) Lorenzo was also excellent at  communication with me as well as with the other services. Continuity of care is a huge challenge in hospitals and he was excellent in his efforts.

At 5:30 am,  I started having back and chest pain again. It was incredibly small but Lorenzo had told me to report any pain, however minor. It was also in the same location as previously. I was given nitro glycerin and when that did not totally eliminate it, I was given morphine. The pains gradually lessened and were gone by 7:30 am.

Due to the recurrence of the pain and my blood test results (the troponin levels had increased over night as well as another enzyme used as a marker for heart attack), I underwent cardiac catheterization. I was taken to the Cath Lab and the procedure was carried out by a cardiologist and a team of four others. A catheter (small tube) was inserted through an artery in my wrist and threaded up to my heart. Contrast dye was also pumped into my body through the catheter, allowing imaging of my heart and circulatory system. I was sedated, but alert, during the procedure. (By the way, it was not nearly as awful as it sounds.) About midway through, the cardiologist asked, “Has something really stressful happened to your recently?” I told him that something had happened. You see, although he could see that my heart was not compressing normally, there was no evidence of a heart attack or heart disease. As two members of the cath team wheeled me back to my room, they were visibly happy for me.

The cardiologist made a preliminary diagnosis of stress cardiomyopathy, also known as, Takosubo cardiomyopathy or more poetically,”broken heart syndrome”.  This diagnosis was corroborated by the results of an echocardiogram. Excessive cortisol, a stress hormone, can affect the heart muscle, preventing it from being able to contract fully. This results in symptoms similar to a heart attack. Unlike a heart attack or heart disease, the heart damage cause by stress cardiomyopathy typically heals in 1-4 weeks.

I was put on three new medications, two of which can have a blood pressure reducing side effect. My regular blood pressure is about 110/70. It got really low after the medications so I stayed another night at the hospital.

I was discharged yesterday afternoon. My treatment was top-notch but being in a hospital is neither restful nor fun. John had been by my side the whole time, spending nights at the hospital. We were so glad to leave!

It is now time to implement a new self-care program. These are difficult times in my country. I think they are causing chronic stress for many. I know it has for me and I’ve been left with a smaller reservoir with which to deal with new stresses that come into my life. I have left a message with the psychologist I saw during my breast cancer treatment. There are some things I really need to process as well as a need to return to a more consistent mindfulness practice.

Having a caring heart is mostly a wonderful thing but it can also be a burden. Life brings unwelcome surprises like chest pain and welcome ones like looking into a woman’s heart and not finding heart disease and blockage.

On the day of the March for Science, I wore a sign demonstrating my ongoing commitment to the importance of fostering caring hearts. Without them, there is no love, no laughter, no curiosity, no passion, and no motivation. We would also not work to protect ourselves from possible harm. Without emotions, there is no humanity.


I remember playing the game, Risk, with my brothers when I was a kid. I don’t remember much about it except that I think the goal of it is world domination. That’s probably why I stopped playing it. I don’t like, Monopoly, either. Go ahead, call me a socialist. What I do remember is that the game board is a map of the world. Being a word lover, I was taken with some of the place names. One of them was “Kampuchea”.

I haven’t thought about the word, “Kampuchea” for a long time until recently, like last month. I was in Cambodia and silly me, I did not know that the Cambodians call their country, “Kampuchea”. When I was informed of this, I thought back to the game.

I also thought of the risks people take in life. We hired a driver in Cambodia, Tong. Tong is a man in his 30’s, married, with two children. He was obviously smart, knowledgeable, and very personable. Tong had to work full-time on the family rice farm after he finished elementary school. His parents were from Phnon Penh and had lived through the Khmer Rouge, Pol Pot, the genocides of the Killing Fields, a secret (not to them) war waged by the U.S., and civil war.

Cambodia has been through unspeakable horror. Although they are currently in a period of stability, they are still a country with four millions landmines, yet to be located. Every year, people are harmed or killed by landmines, leftover from the past. Tong told me that his parents do not like to talk about war times or the genocides that they witnessed first hand. Tong, however, took the risk of telling me about it. He took us to a Killing Fields outdoor memorial exhibit in Siem Reap. Tong told me the stories. He told me the details. I asked questions. At one point, he gently asked me to speak more softly.

Tong later explained to me that the area was a temple and the monk that is in charge of the temple has close ties to the Communist Party.  Although Cambodia is supposed to be a democracy, it is not. It is controlled by the People’s Party and the elections are not fair. There is no freedom of speech in Cambodia. Tong, from the safety of the inside of his car, explained to us that he has to have “pineapple eyes”. Telling us about his concerns of corruption on every level of government, even in the public school system. (School is supposed to be free but the teachers charge the families money.)

Sometimes we seek out risks. Other times, we cannot escape them, because of war, violence, natural disaster, or disease. It is fascinating to me how the scared part of my brain can put all risks into the same undifferentiated category. I am learning to get perspective. All risks are not created equal.

Some risks just involve getting past discomfort or manageable amounts of stress. To be honest, though I love to travel, I had put off taking a trip to Asia. The flight seemed way too long, I don’t know any of the languages, and Asia is crowded! Further, Cambodia is an extremely poor country. Though it’s economy is growing, the average annual wage is $7500 USD. I had to face the discomfort of my own wealth and privilege, which is really just luck.

I got past this and we had a fabulous vacation. I also contributed to the economy of countries that need it. As for Tong, the tip that we gave him paid for three terms of school for his daughter. He is working for more opportunities for his children. Tong is making sure that they learn English and Mandarin, for example.

Maybe I’ll even start playing, “Risk” again. It’s not real world domination. It’s just uncomfortable. It’s just a game.

DSC06455 revDSC06459 revDSC06474 revDSC06478 revDSC06493 revDSC06497 revDSC06546 revDSC06565 revDSC06588 revDSC06653 revDSC06668 rev

DSC06061I am two weeks into our trip to Thailand and Cambodia. The current time is 14 hours ahead of Seattle. The current place is 500 miles north of the Equator. It is almost always tomorrow here. This is the closest I have been to summer, while still being in winter.

There is much about time and space here. There are so many sacred spaces. I have visited amazing temples of the past and the present. Some of the temples are centuries old and currently in use.

One of the things I have noticed is that there is often clock next to the main buddha statue. Some clocks are antique. One that I saw was a large electronic clock with green L.E.D. letters, surrounded by antiquities. I thought, “What is THAT doing there?”

To my sensibiities, it didn’t fit. It was an anachronism that harmed the aesthetic and spirit of a holy place. Then I started wondering about many similar scenes that I’ve witnessed during this short time in southesast Asia. I started asking questions about my own culturally influenced aesthetic. I observed how different I am about having my photo taken in front of antiquities. I appreciate having maybe a photo for the day to remember how I felt about the experience, but mostly I think of inserting myself into the scene as detracting from it’s beauty. I am an anachronism in my performance sneakers and modern dress.

Tourists from many Asian countries are vastly different. Getting one’s photo taken in front of every key area of a building is very common. People wait in long lines to do so. There is usually two or three young Chinese women at each major site wearing fancy modern dresses, getting many pictures taken at each stopping point, model style, by a young man taking the photos with a smart phone. I will admit that in addition to bemusement, by week two of having the frame of my shot blocked by an amateur model making five poses in a doorway, I felt minor irritation.

In the west, we treat time differently, I think. The past is something to be preserved and unchanged. It is something to be worked for in the future. It is fascinating to me to think about how this view may have impacted our aesthetics, our sense what belongs where.

I did a Google search about the clocks in the temples, by the way. I don’t know if the little bit of information I found is true or not but it indicated that the clocks are there to help monks avoid meditating through meal times. The anachronistic clock helps the monks keep the past in the present.

Peace to you, friends.


We had a dinner party for friends last Sunday. I had planned to make crab and shrimp. There were some gorgeous shrimp on sale at the store. I decided to buy four pounds, which is the most shrimp I have ever purchased. I thought, “That’s a lot of shells. I bet I could make a soup stock out of those.”

This is the way many of my cooking inspirations start. I take a manageable menu and decide to make one more dish. As it turned out, the whole menu was manageable and the soup was really quite good. I have a new thing to make! You can make it, too.

First, the shrimp stock. The recipe makes about 8 cups.

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 8 cups shrimp shells (from 4 pounds of shrimp)
  • 2 unpeeled red onion sliced into large pieces
  • 2 unpeeled carrots, sliced into thick rounds
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed with the side of a chef’s knife
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • 4 tablespoons tomato paste (or 1/2 cup of tomato sauce): Note: I substituted 3 tablespoons of sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil and about 1tablespoon of Sriracha sauce.
  • 8-10 whole peppercorns
  • 2 or 3  bay leaves
  • 12 cups of water, or to cover.
  • salt
  1. Saute shrimp shells in olive oil in a stock pot. Stir and cook for about 10 minutes.
  2. Add all remaining ingredients except water and salt. Continue cooking, stirring frequently, over medium heat, for about 10 minutes.
  3. Add water and deglaze the bottom of the pan by scraping the browned bits (the fond) with a spoon, and combining them with the rest of the stock ingredients.
  4. Bring to boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
  5. Strain stock with a colander set over a large bowl or pan. Add salt to taste. Use immediately, refrigerate, or freeze.

    Here’s my stock, right before I strained it. Look at the color!


Now for the soup!


  • 1 or 2 teaspoons of olive oil
  • 1 medium to large onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed in a garlic press
  • 8 cups shrimp stock
  • 1, 28 ounce can of crushed or diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup sun dried tomato
  • 3 or 4 medium-sized potatoes, diced. (I used Yukon Gold and kept the skin on.)
  • 4 pounds of clams, in their shells, rinsed with cold water.
  • 1/2 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
  • salt and pepper
  1. Saute onion in olive oil over medium heat. Cook until translucent or if you prefer, until they brown. Add garlic and cook for another minute or two.
  2. Add shrimp stock and deglaze onion and garlic bits from the bottom of the stock pot.
  3. Add canned tomatoes, sun dried tomatoes, and potatoes. Bring to a slow boil.
  4. Cook until potatoes are tender. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
  5. Lower heat, add clams, and cover the pot. Cook, checking every couple of minutes until clam shells open.
  6. Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with parsley.



A week from Thursday, I leave for a three-week-long trip to Thailand and Cambodia! It is a two-year’s belated 25th wedding anniversary trip. I am so incredibly excited. My husband and I have been planning this trip for months. I typically pack too much and check a bag. However, for this trip, I will be paring down to the essentials so that I can to with just a carry-on suitcase and a personal bag.

It is winter here and we live about as far north as a U.S. citizen can live, at least ones who do not live in Alaska. We are traveling far east and considerably south, close to the equator. It will be very hot and humid. A certain level of modesty is requested when visiting temples, specifically that legs and the tops of shoulders be covered. Having lived in Florida and traveled in Egypt, I also know that there are advantages to being covered up in loose long clothing. It’s cooler and it provides sun protection. I have chosen my travel clothing carefully, for maximum versatility. We are also taking a short tour in Beijing, China on our way back home, and it will be considerably colder there. I have a lot of light clothes that can be layered.

One of the bigger challenges to packing a carry-on bag has been fitting all of my liquid toiletries into airline approved containers that all fit into an airline-approved-sized plastic bag. I have sensitive skin. I am picky about what kinds of cream I use as well as sun protection. Some of my skin creams are prescription and not something I could easily buy overseas, anyway. I am not the only one who is challenged by this because there now appears to be a whole industry devoted to providing liquid products in solid form, for travel. I have solid shampoo and solid conditioner. Did you know that there’s mosquito repellent available as a solid, in the form of a bracelet? There’s toothpaste that comes in pill form. Last, but not least, I have SPF 50 facial sunblock that’s  a tinted powder.

I have also found room for a few luxury items. I have not taken a really long flight since I was a 24 year-old newlywed, flying from Cairo to Seattle, in a series of many flights, including crossing the Atlantic. The flight from Seattle to Beijing will be 11 hours with no stops. That’s a long time to be sitting on a plane. We bought our tickets with frequent flyer miles but paid for an upgrade to business class, which means that our seats will fold down into a bed. I am bringing a memory foam neck pillow (I may want to drift off while in the airport), a sleep mask, and noise-cancelling headphones. I typically have a terrible time sleeping during travel. I hope this will help.

As I’ve spent the last few weeks, narrowing my choices, preparing for places I have never traveled, I think of how I’ve spent the last few months of my life. My country has scary people in charge of government. I am preparing for the times ahead by deciding what is most important in my life and where and how I will spend my resources.

Self-care is something that has been a challenge these days. I am committed to being an activist and to make enough time to do that. That is helpful but it can also be stressful. But I am doing my best and I see benefits from my efforts from the simplest actions such as no longer reading the news or engaging in social media while I am in bed. It really wasn’t a good idea before but now it makes the difference between a restful night and a stressful night.

My husband doesn’t know this but I actually thought we might have to cancel our trip when I learned who had been elected our 45th president. I felt a flash of shame at being a U.S. citizen, even though I know that I am not responsible for this mess. I can always be a better citizen of my country as well as the world, but this election result and the current administration are beyond the pale when it comes to bad choices on the part of many U.S. voters. More often than not, it is like living in two countries. Actually, that doesn’t really capture. It’s like trying to live my real life while stuck in a badly written James Bond movie.

We are going on this trip to celebrate 27 years of marriage. I am so fortunate to be able to travel and see the world.

As always, peace to you, my friends. (Also, stay tuned for travel photos!)

George Lakoff

George Lakoff has retired as Distinguished Professor of Cognitive Science and Linguistics at the University of California at Berkeley. He is now Director of the Center for the Neural Mind & Society (cnms.berkeley.edu).


Keeping our eyes and ears open.....

Life in a Wheelchair

You never think it could happen to you!

4 Times and Counting

Confessions Of A 4 Time Breast Cancer Survivor

Nancy's Point

A blog about breast cancer, loss & survivorship

After Twenty Years Cancer Research Blog

Exploring progress in cancer research from the patient perspective.

My Eyes Are Up Here

My life is not just about my chest, despite rumblings in my chest.

Woman in the Hat

Cancer to Wellness in 1,038,769 Easy Steps!

Dglassme's Blog

Wouldn't Wish This On My Worst Enemy


Today is Better Than Yesterday

Telling Knots

About 30% of people diagnosed with breast cancer at any stage will develop distal metastasis. I am one.

The Pink Underbelly

A day in the life of a sassy Texas girl dealing with breast cancer and its messy aftermath

The Asymmetry of Matter

Qui vivra verra.

Fab 4th and 5th Grade

Teaching readers, writers, and thinkers

Journeying Beyond Breast Cancer

making sense of the breast cancer experience together

Telling Knots

About 30% of people diagnosed with breast cancer at any stage will develop distal metastasis. I am one.

Entering a World of Pink

a male breast cancer blog

Luminous Blue

a mother's and daughter's journey with transformation, cancer, death and LOVE

Fierce is the New Pink

Run to the Bear!

The Sarcastic Boob

Determined to Manage Breast Cancer with the Same Level of Sarcasm with which I Manage Everything Else


Life after a tango with death & its best friend cancer