Old Habits Die Hard

Every year about this time I begin to make a list of what I want to accomplish in the new year. Some people make resolutions, I make plans. I focus on what I want to do versus things I want to stop doing. This has been my quiet tradition since 2015. Most of the time I write it on a plane in January. Not really sure why but I write a lot on planes. Something about sitting in one spot for hours causes me to look inward and express outward into the notepad on my iPhone. Sometimes I look back and can see the mood or spot in my life I was in during this trip or that one. At one point in my life I was commuting two hours one way to work. I started doing voice memos on my way home to catalog what was going on in my life. I stopped these the same year because when I went back and listened to them they sounded weirdly tragic. I never wanted someone to listen to them and think I was unhappy in my life. I might have been unhappy in those moments but they were just moments in the grand scheme of my life.

It is weird that I started this tradition in 2015 because that’s also the year I was diagnosed with cancer. I must have been very hopeful in January and certain if I made a list, I would accomplish the stuff on it. I never did. The monkey wrench of cancer came hurdling into my life and threw it off course. My 2015 list would have to wait. Funny enough, that list has been carried over year to year since. Small changes sometimes but always the same themes.

  • Take more time for me
  • Run a half marathon
  • Lose weight, be strong, be healthy
  • Take an actual vacation
  • Fall in love

In 2016, I added and changed a few things but the main themes remained the same. Getting my divorce was 15 years in the making. My marriage ended in 2007 but due to private circumstances I never filed. We lived in different parts of the country and for all purposes were divorced, just not legally. I am not sure why I even made a list this year because I was undergoing chemo. I think I was trying to remain life as usual despite being sick. It is my way. Just plow through and get to the other side. Regardless, this list went undone.

  • Get my divorce
  • Buy a house
  • Year of my best body/health
  • Take a tropical vcation
  • Settle down with the love of my life

Sitting on my couch New Year’s Eve, I drafted my 2017 list. Tired from cancer and moving to the other side of the country, I was feeling really exhausted in 2017. I changed my list from things to do to mantra type sayings. I was desperately trying to will myself into action.

  • I will have my healthiest year yet
  • I will buy a house and grow roots
  • I will run races
  • I will find a man to spend the rest of my life with
  • I will get my divorce

These mantras carried over into 2018. My list in 2018 was made by someone in a crappy place in her life. I was angry. Angry at cancer induced menopause and weight gain. Angry at being alone. Tired from working so much. My list reflects the space I was in at that time. I was in such a place that I did not even write the list until the end of February. After writing the list I wrote a note that basically said not sure why I am doing this because I never seem to get it done.

  • I will buy a house
  • I will lose weight
  • I will run a 10k
  • I will get my divorce
  • I will find a man to spend my life with

Something happened in 2018. I crossed two things off my list. I got my divorce and I bought a house. Two of the most liberating things I have ever done in my life. I bought the house I had always wanted, on my own. I was scared. It was crazy expensive but I did it. I got my divorce. Deciding to buy a house pushed me to file. My husband was safe and mentally fit to handle it now and I could not buy it being married. It was quick and simple and a weight lifted from my shoulders.

Deciding to share something so deeply personal was hard. A piece of me that was only mine, Ive given out today. I did it because in the end it is not about what is on my list but the fact that I made the list at all. Even in some really dark moments, I looked forward to the next year. I realize more and more that we are told we should be happy and that life should be good. Maybe its not about that at all. Maybe it is about looking forward to what comes next in the middle of the mess.

Heres to 2019! To all the list makers, keep listing. To the resolution makers, keep making them. To those who quietly propose to do better, keep doing. I will have my 2019 list done soon. It will be the best one yet.

Reverse Engineer

Its been a while since my last post. A crazy year since last summer with lots of changes.  I will be honest and openly admit that I am struggling right now, physically and emotionally. Physically because since my hysteroctomy, cancer and chemo finding my way back to my right weight has been a challenge. Added to that a lack of estrogen from surgical menopause and you get where I am right now. Stuck, blue and unmotivated.

I underestimated the role estrogen plays in my life and I feel my doctors did too. When women go through menopause it is usually later in life and most can add hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to their daily routine. It does not solve all their problem but it helps reduce them to some degree. When you are in your 40’s and have a hormone sensitive cancer like I did, endometrial and ovarian cancer, you cannot take HRT. You can’t even have a large amount of soy in processed form because it can cause your body to have a hormone response. Without estrogen I am moody, I cry more than ever in my life, I get angry at odd things which I work really hard to hold deep inside. I have a lot of fatigue, a large amount of apathy and my motivation, joy and zest is just gone. This is so unlike me. I love to run yet I can run 3.2 one day and not get myself out the door for several days later. I force myself to keep getting my work done but it is a, fake it till you make it phenomenon right now. This is scary for me because I have always been the sole financial and insurance support in the family and that cant stop at 46.  Plus I just bought myself a home. All on my own. It is amazing and I am so proud I did it but it is another thing to add to my cant stop now reason list. I am not complaining. I am trying to just get it all out and in doing so I realize that my doctors never talked to me about this at all. Not once. No one told me I would forget things easily and should keep a list. I would not sleep through the night again. I would feel blue and not myself. Why was this not discussed. Did they think the side effects would make me say, “No thanks, Ill keep the cancer”? Regardless, I am here now and I am struggling to find my way out. I also stopped trying to date because right now I am traveling too much and just a hot mess. Who wants any part of that combo. Onward.

I was reading an article the other day that talked about reverse engineering your life. How it helps you figure out your goals and allows you to work backward to get where you want to be. This resonated with me because I did it successfully three years ago. I am going to try it again now and see if it can help me get to where I need and want to be.

At 21, I walked into a small, local company and started answering their phones. I was a young mom, newly married and they let me switch between daytime work and night time shifts depending on the school year. I was answering their phones but it was time away from two small children that I needed and I loved the social aspect of taking calls and helping people go to college. I knew in my second year there that I would build a career in the company. I also told myself that one day I woud be a VP in that company. Everything I did and every opportunity I took, I asked myself if it would bring me closer to that goal. If the answer was yes, I did it. If the answer was no or I dont know, I passed. In 2015, while battling cancer and publicly going through chemo, I was given my VP. I remember being proud and realizing I did what I set out to do some 22 years prior. I reversed engineered my life. My next 5 year vision was my 20 year plan and I did it. Since then I have moved, challenged myself and worked for some really big companies running their centers. I dont want to stop now. How do I do the next 20 years with this weight tied around my shoulders.

So I will be using this blog to reverse engineer my next 20 years. I am going to try and write daily for a while and help me process what I am going through. I am hoping this will help motivate me, hold me accountable and if not, cause me to fake it til I make it a little more. Thanks for bearing with me while I talk about my feelings, my workouts, my running, my food and what I want my next twenty years of my life to be like. I need this now more than ever.

Always with love ~T~

 

Who Cancels on New Year’s Eve

I believe in love. I think it’s possible that in this busy, over scheduled and over connected world, two people can meet and fall in love. I don’t believe it happens fast but I believe it happens. This is my Achilles heel. The soft spot that my armor fails to protect and it gets me every time.

This time was not love but I thought the path was promising. I was caught up in his sweetness. He had a way to make you feel like you were his singular focus. He answered his phone and we would talk and share for hours. I learned about his life and he learned about mine. He was not only sweet but smart. That is a deadly combination for me. I love good conversation and talking about things from the environment to politics and he could cover every one. I let my guard down and I let him sneak right into my camp when my armor was tucked away. I did not even realize he was an enemy. I thought we enlisted together and were in the trenches trying to win the same war. I was wrong…again

I don’t really understand what happened but I knew on Saturday that things were different. I also knew he would cancel our NYE plans. I was right.

So this was my end to 2017. I am better for it. I added another plate to my armor and covered up that newly exposed wound.  I won’t be so quick to believe the next sweet, smart man that says hi. It’s not that I don’t believe in love. I am just tired of getting it wrong.

On to 2018. Lesson learned. Stronger. Better. Smarter. Believer

GYN Cancer Awareness

September is GYN cancer awareness month. It is an entire month dedicated to bringing awareness of GYN cancers to every woman. In an effort to do my part I am sharing my story. It is my hope that maybe some woman somewhere will read it, thinks it sounds familiar and sees her OB. 

It is estimated that in 2015 there were 98,000 GYN cancers in the US. 30,000 women died from these cancers. I was diagnosed in 2015 with two GYN cancers. I had endometrial and ovarian cancer and I was 43 years old.

2015 was an incredibly busy time in my life. I was commuting almost four hours a day for work. I was launching new contact centers overseas along with being a mother, sister and friend. Life was crazy busy. I was eating horribly, drinking my share of wine, barely sleeping and my stress level was through the roof. I had finally reached my biggest career goal and I was determined to not slow down. I paid very little attention to what my body was telling me. For over a year and a half I was experiencing intermittent bleeding. It was between my periods and never heavy. More annoying than anything. At first I thought I miscalculated my period but the times were off. I then began to coorelate my few glasses of wine at night to the bleeding. I told myslef that maybe I had too much and this was maybe a stomach ulcer. After a few more months I told myself that it was the start of the “change.” After all I was in my 40’s and I knew my family had early onset menopause. So I blew off the bleeding and kept blowing it off. I also blew off the fact that I would sit down to eat and be so hungry but a few bites into my food I was full. No longer interested in the food in front of me. This was an easy blow off because this felt very anxiety releated to me. I had experienced this issue earlier in my life when my sister, Michelle passed away. My anxiety was so high then that I physically could not eat. All anxiety related and I eventually worked through it. So in my mind I was again stressed and this was just anxiety. I had no idea that these two things were neon signs against a dark night sky telling me something was very wrong.

In March of 2015 I went for my annual exam at my new OB’s office. All was fine. At the end of the visit she asked me if I had any questions or concerns. I told her I was struggling to lose weight and that I had some abnormal bleeding. My OB, without pausing, told me that I needed a uterine biopsy. She was very blunt and said that abnormal bleeding is a cause for concern and can be endometrial cancer. I remember scheduling the appointment and going to my car. I maybe, stopped for a minute to let the thought of cancer run through my mind. One minute and then I drove away. 

My phone rang a few weeks after my biopsy as I drove to work. I had a two hour commute and I talked to everyone during those rides. I answered the phone almost automatically without realizing it was my doctors office. Plus it was seven in the morning and I knew the office was not open. When I answered, the girl on the phone told me she was my doctors assitant and could I come to the office today. I laughed and told her I was almost in CT but I would schedule a follow up. I told her I was heading to El Salvador and I would come in after I got back. She was very nice but her answer shocked me. She told me no.  She went on to tell me I had to go to the office the next day. Gave me a time to be there and directions to a different office where my doctor would be. I asked if I could go in when she was in the office I knew and again she said no. I hung up and called my sister. We both agreed this would not be good news.

My sister came with me and we walked into the office. My young doctor walked in and did not breath or pause. She thanked me for coming in and told me I had cancer.Whatever she said next I dont remember. I walked out to the car, my sister stopped to have a cigarette and I swore. I climbed into her car and as we drove to tell my parents I told her that I did not have time for this. She lauged and said I would have to find it.

Post a quick hysteroctomy I hopped online to read the surgical notes. I cried when I read that not only did I have endometrial cancer but I also had ovarian cancer. I knew from what I read that I would need chemo. I also knew that ovarian cancer kills and even if it does not kill, recurs in other parts of the body. 6 rounds of chemo, lots of surgeries and procedures later I am NED (no evidence of disease). I will have to have tests every three months for the next five years. All of that is fine because I am alive.

I am one of the lucky ones. I am one in 700 women who have ovarian cancer but I am living. My only regret is not paying attention to the warning signs my body was showing me. Irregular bleeding, bloating, feeling full after starting to eat and weight changes. If you are reading this and it sounds like you, please schedule an appointment with your OB and get a biopsy.

Heres to the next five years!

The Confusing Often Scary World of Medicine and Bad Things

Recently after 18 years in my current job I decided to take a new job at new company all the way across the country. I moved from Massachusetts to Portland, OR. Looking back over these past nine weeks I have learned a lot about myself. I now know I was very “star struck” when I took this job. Definitely a, wow they want me, moment and I failed to ask enough questions or the right questions for fear that this opportunity would be taken away. I underestimated how hard this move was going to be on myself and on the life I had built back home. I did not even imagine that after my cancer battle the stress this is putting on my body, mind and spirit would be this overwhelming. Physically I am exhausted, mentally I am tired and career wise I am more challenged and stretched than ever. My life is now work and sleep. Email consumes my off work time and I find myself nose in laptop until bed. 

One reason why I think I did not question my ability to make this move was that I had moved several times before for work and it always worked out. I also never faced the fact that I had cancer. Instead I did what I do and I plowed through to reach the finish line. I grabbed my metal and my water and I moved on to the thoughts of my next great race. 

The one thing having cancer did teach me was to take care of myself. I am doing somewhat of a better job of this lately. Still have a ways to go and I am trying harder and harder each week. One thing I am being diligent about is my three month checkups. I have read, researched and studied and I know ovarian cancer has a very high rate of return. So I found a new oncologist and made my nine month post chemo appointment.
For the most part everything went well. My cancer protein blood test, CA125, was negative again. Hoorah! The dr was very smart and very sweet. He took my hand at the end of the appointment and told me I was doing a good job and that he would “take care of me.” I almost cried because I felt he was being sincere. The funny thing about the appointment was that he questioned some things that were done a Dana Farber. Believe me, he gave credit to their amazing work but asked why we did six rounds of chemo versus three and reevaluate, Why did they not do a test on my tumor that looks for a chemical build up before jumping to Lynch Syndrome. Why did they see the lesions on my spine and not move forward with the MRI when I am saying I have chronic pain. He disagrees that my leg, hip and back pain are post chemo related. So he scheduled an MRI for this Friday to be sure the lesions on my spine are not tumors. He is trying to get my tumor samples to test for the chemical build up on my promoter cells. He is working to help me minimize my surgical menopause symptoms so I can sleep without using hormones to do it. 

I go into this much detail because I consider myself to be a smart women who has been in and out of hospitals for most of my life. Dana Farber is world class at treating and beating cancer and I owe them my life. I begin to believe though that each doctor and each hospital has guidance to treat but that not one of them does it the same. Each feels one belief or scientific discovery is deeper or better than the next. It comes down to three versus six and MRI’s versus chest xrays but really it is my life. It is my life that you are trying to save and I want you to be the best. I am not alone in this feeling. Everyone feels this way. Medicine though is scary and confusing and if you are not dgging and reading then you might not get the best care. You might get what your doctor believes is the best care and that is too scary to bet your life on. 

This move is hard and looking back I wished I had not done it. Maybe that will chnage or maybe not. I am giving myself a year to figure it out. I firmly believe that eveything we do in life teaches us something. I know that if I had not had a new oncologist that I would not have relized how much I need to be my own advocate in the confusing often scary world of medicine and other bad things. 

I am a Runner

I’m starting to run again tomorrow. I stopped running last year because physically I just could not do it. I’ve read about people who run during chemo and I applaud them. Working full time was tough enough for me. I hated giving it up. It really is what helps me de stress and clear my head at the end of my day. It is my outlet. I started again once chemo was over but it was never for long. Fatigue, long commutes and crazy workdays led me to not run more often than run. 

So I will start again tomorrow. I start in a new city. I recently took a great job in the Pacific Northwest. Packed my bags and life and traveled all the way across the country to Portland, OR. Still learning my way but it is the healthiest city I’ve ever lived in so I need to get onboard. I plan to run everyday. Miles or time don’t matter to me right now. Just need to feel my lungs expand and my feet hit the pavement. 

I am also hoping it helps me get rid of the pain I am still dealing with nine months post chemo. I never felt my age before cancer. There are days now I feel like I’m in my 80’s. I have pain in the soles of my feet and right hip pain. If I sit for even a car ride I have to walk bent over for a few steps. This is the result of a chemo drug called Taxol. My only complaint after each chemo session was that I had horrible leg pain. Test after test until I was told that this was “my chemo gift.” So I’ve decided to give this gift back. 

Here’s to adding some distance to my Nike+ app and reclaiming my life along with it.

Rape

I am sure after reading multiple posts about rape that you might be, “well here is another one.” I am so mad about the recent things I am reading on blogs and Twitter that I need an outlet. So bear with me.

I will caveat the post by saying I am writing about women who are raped. I know men and boys are raped as well but I dont feel educated enough to write from their perspective. I am a woman so I will stick to what I know in no disrespect for the suffering of men and boys who endure this terrible fate.

As a women I must always remain on guard and vigilant. This is what I am told and it is only reinforced by the recent Stanford rape case. As I read the victim’s letter I was moved to tears. In the blink of an eye her life was made a nightare and one she will fight to regain for the rest of it. With good therapy maybe she will be able to walk alone in a park or through a parking garage without her heart punding, palms sweaty, feeling like she wants to just run. Maybe she will trust and love again in her life. Hopefully she is not online reading what others think SHE should have done to not get raped. Sad to think that part of raising a daughter is teaching HER how not to be raped. Maybe I will write a childrens book called, Dont Rape Me and Other Things Young Girls Should Know.  If you think that is ridiculous go online right now and read comments from both men and women who think it’s needed.

  • Rape 1 – Woman raped while drinking
  • Response 1 – She should have drank less so she would not have allowed herself to be in that position
  • Rape 2 – Woman not drunk, raped while walking home
  • Response 2 – She should have kown better than to be walking alone or in that neighborhood
  • Rape 3 – Woman raped while out with friends at a club
  • Response 3 – She should have dressed more appropriatly. She was showing a lot of skin. 
  • Rape 4 – Woman raped in her home
  • Response 4 – Did she have her door locked? Why was she so trusting and open her door

We live in a victim blaming society and I have had enough. I am a grown woman and I should be able to go to a park or walk in a parking garage without holding my keys like a weapon. I should not be nervous when the cable guy comes to install my new system. I should not have to call 911 if I get pulled over at night to verify the man pulling me over is a cop and even if so, worry that he will assault me. I should be able to go to a bar and have drinks with friends without going to the bathroom or to our cars as a group to be sure we all get home safe. I should not have to make myself familiar with the emergency call boxes on my college campus so when I walk home from a late class I can call for help. I should not have to wear rape whistles or carry pepper spray when I take the dog out after dark. In the end, after all of my guard and vigilance, if I have a moment where I have one more drink, take the quick route home, trust a stranger and I am raped, I will be blamed. 

As a man I would be outraged. What this says about you is that you are uncontrollable, sexual beings with no self control or knowledge of right from wrong. You can’t help but see clevage or thighs and have to have it. You will do anything and take anything or anyone to be fulfilled. You are not intellignet, loving beings who nurture and protect. You are wild animals that are only held at bay by guarded, vigilant women. This is what it says every time you tell the VICTIM she should have known, done or been better. If this outrages you, change the dialogue. Stop the conversation mid stream and proclaim the only person to blame for rape, IS THE RAPIST.

Help give women and girls their lives back. Help us live a little less concerned that it’s not if we are assaulted in our lives, but when.

Cancerversary

April 15th is my cancerversary. It has been one year since I was diagnosed with ovarian and endometrial cancer. This is not the day of my last chemo although I will celebrate that too. This is the one year mark from when I found out I had cancer. So why celebrate this day? Why not let it pass quietly considering it flipped my life upside down. 

The simple answer is because I AM ALIVE. I am not celebrating the fact that my dr sat me down, looked me in the eyes and said, “you have cancer.” I am not celebrating the days that followed where I felt lost, confused and terrified. The nights where I could not sleep because I could not get death off my mind, wont be celebrated either. The celebration is because 365 days after being told that I had not one but two primary cancers and that I have Lynch Syndrome which makes me cancer prone, I am alive. ALIVE.

Not just alive but living. In this year I have been through a tremendous amount of crappy stuff. As vain as it sounds losing my hair, eyebrows and eyelashes is still top of that crappy list. I have also done some amazing things. I kayaked for days post chemo. No one had to wait for me. I kept up. No help needed even though my white blood count was in the toilet. I saw amazing sunsets and beautiful sunrises. Spent nights around a fire pit with great friends who could care less that I was bald and rocking it. My sister and I grew closer than ever before and shared parts of ourselves we probably never would had it not been for cancer. I traveled to the Philippines and spent 20 hours on a plane. Something that terrified me before this trip. I saw amazing landscapes and met wonderful people. Ive found my love of running again and completed two 5k’s this month alone with better times than when I ran consistently. I’m working on finding out where I want to live and what I want to do because what I am doing is life draining to say the least. I still have work to do. I have to move to a plant based diet. I need to workout more and drink less. I need to make caring for myself a priority. Tough stuff. The good news is that I am ALIVE to do it. 

One long, horrible, stressful, painful, anxiety ridden year later, I am here.  On 4/22 I have my second three month scan. They will do some blood work and compare this scan to the last. I had some spots on my last scan that hopefully have not grown or changed. This is my life for the next five years. Blood work and scans. Totally fine with me. I am staying right here to get it all done. 

O V A R I A N

All the way to Dana Farber my sister and I laughed.  We talked about our lives and the crazy things we think. We fought traffic and jumped the light when the bell at the mosque across the street started to chime at noon.  Scared the living daylights out of her because she never realized there was a mosque there. We laughed.  It was the first time in close to a year that the lab was not behind. I saw all my doctors on time.  The day was going good. As good as it can at Dana Farber. Nothing made us cry at least. Small blessings.

We headed to the cafeteria shortly after noon.  If you ever have to go to Dana Farber, and I hope you don’t, but if you do NEVER GO TO THE CAFETERIA AT LUNCH.  You will never find a place to sit.  We made this mistake and were wandering around the small seating area looking for a place. A woman sitting alone offered to have us sit with her. I did not want to but my sister just sat right down and started talking.  I looked at my food and tried to eat. It was nice of the woman dont get me wrong. I just did not want to make conversation with a stranger while trying to eat. My sister, however, had no issue. As she talked to the woman I knew it was coming.  The inevitable question that women with the same haircut at Dana Farber ask each other. So what kind of cancer do you have? Lovely question isn’t it.  Like if we both say the same thing we can high five and do the secret handshake.

I have said many times, one of the things I hate most about cancer is that it is the most private thing you are dealing with publicly. Most people recognize the baldness and dark circles under your eyes and know you have cancer. It’s not being dramatic. When I first lost my hair I was very self conscious. I avoided all eye contact. I never looked in a mirror at a store or the gym. I was not strong enough then to say screw it. That day came but it took some time. Plus, besides being self conscious I hated “the look.” The look you get from other people when they feel bad for you with just their eyes. They are apologizing in their head and they just give this sad head shaking kind of look that sucks the last breath out of your chest. I hate that look. I’ve learned that when I see people who have cancer to smile. Smile big. It helps. When people smiled at me I felt normal. I felt like I had a full head of hair and I was just going about my day. I did not feel like the lone bald one. So take my advice and if you see someone with cancer, smile.

So there we sat eating a crappy calzone talking about where we were from. Did we have a long drive. Do I like my doctor. Eating and enjoying each other’s company. She told me that she has been coming to Dana Farber for over 15 years.She has been fighting lymphoma since 2000. I smiled and told her I felt for her. I understood the drive and the toll all the visits take. I sympathized with her that 15 years was a very long time and congratulated her on her strength and courage for the fight. Her attention then turned to me and I knew she was going to ask and she did, “What kind of cancer do you have.” I swallowed my bite of calzone and told her I had endometrial and ovarian. “Oh I’m sorry” was her response and then came the look. “Ovarian cancer is very hard.” Then poof she left.

I was sitting there, no longer hungry, feeling defeated. This woman who has been dealing with cancer for over 15 years feels bad for me.  She gave me that look that says poor thing. Like regardless of her own lymphoma, I have been given a death sentence and I am just serving out my time. Now I’m sure she was the nicest person who has no idea she left me lifeless. She would never know that her comment has stuck with me for over two weeks now. How dare she get in my head. How dare I let her.  Women survive ovarian cancer.  It is possible. More women who have survived need to talk about it because everyone who hears the word OVARIAN paired with cancer, thinks death.

I’m not dying and I am tired of thinking that its coming for me. I have to prove I’m not dying every three months for the next three years then every six months for the following two. So I’m going to get her look out of my head and try living.

Leaving on a Jet Plane

Leaving on a Jet Plane

On Tuesday I will get to travel to a part of the country I never dreamed of visiting. I am going for a short time to bring my youngest to college. To say I am excited for her is an understatement. I have watched her nervously pack and answer the same question over and over again by friends and family. “Why Montana?” To be honest I don’t even know the real answer to that question. I know that she went to college last year and hated it. To be fair she went to a technical college because, since she was small, she wanted to be a chef. It was too small a place, the path to a career was too laid out, planned and it stifled her nature. I was not surprised when she came home. I was not disappointed either. I know an education is valuable and gives people a step up. I also know that deciding your life’s path at 18 is really a lot to ask. 

I have known ever since she was little that she would be the one who wandered.  She is quiet and shy but never stops. She goes from dusk to dawn. When she is not on the go I hear, “I’m bored” over and over. When I started running, she ran with me. When I moved for work three times in her high school career, she was right beside me packing. She would make new friends and start again in a new place. She never complained.  She put herself into each place she went and she succeeded. I told my parents at one point that she could dance in a fire. Change should have been her middle name.

A few years ago I bought her a camera. She began to express herself through her photos. Each one better than the one before. This Christmas I bought her a better camera. A Cannon T5 Rebel. I joked when I gave it to her that she was going to have to start selling her pictures to pay for college. So I don’t know why Montana. I don’t know why she is taking herself thousands of miles away to get her degree. I don’t know why she chose to go somewhere so cold. I know that she will love it. I will see one of the most beautiful places on earth with her on Tuesday and then through her eyes and photos after I leave. I know that she might find it hard at first being the new kid at the new place but before I leave I will remind her that she has done it four times before. I will also remind her that each time she succeeded.

Bon Voyage