Shoe Candy

shoecandy

Image: sjscreative.com

What is it about shoes?  I just love ‘em. I do. Perhaps it is Marilyn Monroe who said it best,

Give a girl the right shoes, and she can conquer the world.

I happen to think that shoes are the most important part of an outfit. No matter how ho-hum your outfit is, the right pair of shoes can transform. There is no end to the creativity of shoes, between the colors, shapes, sizes, fabrics/materials, clasps, buckles, straps, jewels…I could go on and on and on.

So today’s entry is all about shoe candy.

Have a Shining Moment, Shoe Candy day!

 

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blackricebroc

Image: MarthaStewart.com

The key ingredient in today’s recipe is black rice. Once so rare that only China’s emperors were allowed to eat it, this delicious grain is now available in many supermarkets.  Not only does it combine nutty, floral flavors with a toothsome texture, it also contains anthocyanins, compounds also found in blueberries that may reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer. If you want to “eat clean,” this recipe is a MUST! Oh, and it’s another Martha Stewart favorite.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup black rice
  • 1 pound broccoli, cut into small florets, stems peeled and cut into ¼-inch-thick slices
  • 3 cloves garlic, unpeeled
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¾ teaspoon coarse salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted
  • 1 cup lightly packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced

In a heavy-bottomed medium pot, bring rice and 1 ¾ cups water to a boil.  Reduce heat to maintain a simmer, cover, and cook until rice is tender and water is absorbed, about 35 minutes.  Remove from heat; let stand 10 minutes.  Transfer to a serving bowl. Let cool slightly.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 425 degrees. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss broccoli and garlic with 2 tablespoons oil.  Season with ¼ teaspoon salt and pepper. Roast, stirring once, until tender, about 20 minutes.  Remove and reserve garlic; transfer broccoli to bowl with rice.

Remove garlic from skins.  Place in a small bowl; mash.  Whisk in mustard, vinegar, remaining 2 tablespoons oil, and ¼ teaspoon salt.  Drizzle over salad. Add almonds, parsley, and scallions; toss.  Season with remaining ¼ teaspoon salt and pepper.

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thefbomb

Image:  Uncommongoods.com

According to the Associated Press, the word F-bomb has made it into the mainstream dictionary. After 114 years in existence, Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary has included the F-bomb in its latest edition. Wowza!

I’m pretty excited that after my two years of f-bombing my way through breast cancer, that it is an official word (as if it weren’t already, right?).

As I was going through my journey in “The Pink Bubble,” a dear friend sent me the beautiful gift that you see above. What an amazing present during my time in the abyss. I mean really. Yes, it’s an F-bomb. Literally.

Profanity is certainly a contentious topic. Some think obscenities have no place in any respectful conversation, ever; some feel, astutely applied, profanity is the best flavor in their communication word bank; others toss expletives like they’re trying to unlock a coveted ‘F-bomb-Yeah Four-Letter Words’ badge. I am among the first two groups and happy to say that I am not among the third.

“Did you know that from an evolutionary standpoint, swearing is a unique human behavior that was developed for a purpose?  Taboo words persist because they can intensify emotional communication to a degree that non-taboo words cannot.” I can definitely relate to this!

Soooooooooooo F-bombs away!!!!!!

 

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fear of recurrence

Image: Chemosabe-socks.blogspot.com

This week, I have another check-up.  I’m going for my blood work tomorrow morning and will see my Oncologist for a nice chat. I am a little nervous. So much so that I’m writing about it.  Ok, there. I said it.

Because of the unpredictable nature of cancer, many people facing a diagnosis and initial treatment eventually must face the issue of the dreaded “R” (recurrence). I’ve been asked whether I worry about it.  I wouldn’t say that I worry about it per say.  I come from the place of “it is what it is and will be what it will be.”  However, it’s not that I don’t think about it.  Especially this week.

Recurrence anxiety is a typical worry focused on the possibility that cancer will return. It can be a pervasive and, at times, overwhelming dread experienced by families as well as patients. Dread is a good description of what I’m feeling. It is a coping response that all people who have had cancer can expect to experience. I know it’s normal, but can I just say:  UGH!  Enough already!

The roots of F-bomb cancer are not only physical, but also emotional. The threat of the dreaded “R” is one of the reasons why cancer is such a feared disease.  Even long-term survivors continue to experience anxiety over fear of the dreaded “R”. I guess I consider myself a long-term survivor after being cancer-free for 6 ½ years. Sorry. I digress.

The usual pattern of recurrence anxiety is erratic with the exception of the immediate period following treatment completion. The first year following treatment cessation generally is associated with the most intense concerns about recurrence. I was there. Boy, oh boy, was I stressed!

There are two typical responses to recurrence anxiety:  hypochondriasis (as the survivor suspects that any physical change or new symptom portents the cancer’s return) and avoidance (whereby physician contact is circumvented for fear that physical follow-up could diagnose the malignancy’s reappearance).  Can I just say that living in this head ain’t easy!  I’ve definitely had some hypochondria over the past few years (e.g., Why am I so fatigued?  Why does my back hurt? My hot flashes are getting even worse!) and would love nothing more than to have a root canal over seeing my oncologist.  I’m just sayin’….

I recognize the fact that fear of recurrence continues after the initial diagnosis…and well after treatment is finished.  It is what it is. However, I know that anticipating things that don’t exist only takes time away from living.  I’m doing my best to welcome and address my emotions because if I try to disregard or bury them, they WILL come back! Right?!

In the meantime, in this moment, I am celebrating my health and strength (Shining Moment).

 

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spinachdip20

Image:  Marthastewart.com

For an easy-and much healthier-take on the creamy, cheesy classic, try this Martha Stewart update. It’s wowza-licious! Seriously. Mix 1 cup ricotta with 1 cup sautéed or steamed chopped greens (kale, spinach, chard, or whatever you have on hand) in a shallow dish, season to taste, and bake at 425 degrees until the top is light golden brown, about 12 minutes.  Serve the savory spread with crostini or crackers as a Thanksgiving starter.

It’s perfection!

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I Survived

Image: Spiritualriver.com

I’ve never wondered why I was diagnosed with cancer. Many people have asked me, “Why on earth would you, a young, healthy, happy person with no family history get breast cancer?” Even when other people wondered, I never have. I guess I figured that “Why?” wasn’t the point. I had cancer. I had to deal with it. I had to look ahead.

Since my diagnosis, I have had two friends die of cancer. Both were young, healthy and happy people with no family history. Parallel stories. My question (to which there is absolutely no answer) is:

“Why did I get what I got (an F-bomb crappy, but treatable cancer) and they get what they got (a life limiting form of cancer)?”

I think about this Every. Single. Day. Sometimes this thought makes me feel sad. Sometimes it makes me feel scared. Sometimes it makes me feel guilty. I am experiencing a version of survivor guilt.

Survivor guilt is often experienced by those who have survived a major disaster. It is common to feel guilty about having survived when others died. Now, this typically refers to catastrophic events such as 911 or a tsunami or some other disaster (no reason to go on with examples and make myself feel worse!).  I happen to think that a cancer diagnosis (of any kind!) is pretty darn catastrophic.  I know without a doubt that my world stopped. Completely.

Anyone who has had a cancer diagnosis is forever changed. There are no two ways to say it. This feeling of guilt is a normal part of being human. It is a way of searching for the meaning of my survival vs. another person’s death. Normalizing these feelings doesn’t necessarily make me feel better, though. Cancer keeps on giving (or perhaps taking is a better word).

Unfortunately, survivor guilt brings with it a host of issues that can cause depression, anger, and self-blame that may even compromise health. UGH. I certainly don’t want to go down any of those unproductive and paralyzing paths.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m thrilled to be where I am. I don’t know what’s in my future. None of us does. But through this ordeal, I have faced fears, challenges, and heartbreak. I know that I have also learned lessons I couldn’t have learned any other way.

What I now know for sure is that life is a precious gift– in a BIG WAY. I have been given the opportunity to recommit myself to it (Shining Moment). My time to go will come around again, but for now, it is my time to live.

In the Apache language there is no word for ‘guilt.’ Our lives are like diamonds. When we are born we are pure and uncut. Each thing that happens to us in our lives teaches us how to reflect the light in the world; each experience gives us a new cut, a new facet in our diamond. How brilliantly do those diamonds sparkle whose facets are many, to whom life has given many cuts!

Travelling Light by Daniel J. O’Leary quoting Bearwatcher, an Apache medicine man.

 

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Happy Veteran's Day

Image: freeinternetpictures.com

According to the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, in November 1919, President Wilson commemorated the official end of World War I by proclaiming November 11 as Armistice (later to be renamed Veterans) Day with the following words:

To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…

Veterans Day continues to be an opportunity to celebrate America’s veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and protect the freedom of each and every citizen.

Veterans Day is still observed on November 11 (if the Nov. 11 holiday falls on a non-workday — Saturday or Sunday — the holiday is observed by the federal government on Monday or Friday) regardless of what day of the week on which it falls.

Today is a Shining Moment day where we honor the sacrifice and bravery of all U.S. veterans and their families.

 

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brusselsprout

Image: lhj.com

Save time on Thanksgiving by blanching Brussels sprouts up to two days beforehand. It only takes 30 minutes and is relatively low in calories. It’s so yumma-licious!

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ lbs Brussels sprouts, stems trimmed
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • ¼ cup dried apricots, finely diced
  1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil.  Remove any damaged outer leaves from Brussels sprouts and slice sprouts in half through the stem.  Add to boiling water, and cook until just tender, 3 min; drain. (If making ahead, cool sprouts in ice and water, drain and store, wrapped, in the fridge until ready to use.)
  2. Heat olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add sprouts and salt; cook, turning occasionally, until sprouts are golden around the edges and heated through, 5 to 6 minutes (7 minutes if you blanched sprouts earlier).  Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with apricots and pistachios.

(Serves 6-8 people)

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