Sunday, November 30, 2014

Falling Whiskers

Come tomorrow morning, men's whiskers' month long reign on faces all over the globe will fall gracefully into whisker never land.

Today marks the end of another successful year of men's health awareness and fundraising thanks to the efforts of The Movember Foundation and

This subject is dear to my heart because I lost my father to prostate cancer in 1993. He was 53.

At the time that my father started having symptoms, he probably downplayed the severity. That was until he saw a 20/20 segment devoted to prostate cancer. In the story a doctor urged any man who was experiencing ANY of the six symptoms to see his doctor. The doctor suggested that a primary care physician could possibly miss the signs and prompted men to press for a PSA test.

My father having two out of the six symptoms was indeed told by his primary care physician that it most likely wasn't prostate cancer. My father nodded that he knew that the two symptoms were minor but that he had seen on 20/20 to ask for the test anyway. More importantly, he knew something wasn't right.

That second part is huge. Men typically don't seek treatment for health issues. My father was seldom ill and he knew enough to know that his body was sending him signals to seek help.

My father's doctor ordered the test. He was honestly as stunned as my father was. He was in his early 50's just as my father. This wasn't the older man's disease he'd been taught.

Had my father lived even just another year longer, his outcome and possible recovery chances would have been doubled by new treatments for the disease.

That's why I am happy to see organizations such as Movember and helping to spread the word that if detected early, the chances for survival/remission are great.

Movember is the leading organization committed to changing the face of men's health. They "use the power of the moustache to create conversations about men's health and to raise funds for prostate cancer, testicular cancer and mental health. (No Shave November) is a web-based, non-profit devoted to awareness and research. In 2009, Rebecca Hill and Bret Ringdahl brainstormed for an idea to raise money for the cancer fight. They figured instead of money otherwise spent on expensive grooming, shaving, waxing or threading, people could donate those dollars. Money ranging from a few dollars for a razor to a $100.00 salon visit could go toward a cure.

The guys participated this year:

It's not too late to participate or donate. Please visit the sites below to learn more and join the cause. 

Love the men in your life enough to nag them until they see their doctor for a full physical. I miss my Dad dearly but I am so thankful for the men in my life that are still here due to advances in treatment. 

Saturday, October 18, 2014


When I started this blog years ago it was an effort to explore the notion that if we all must fall, that we can learn to fall well. It it's an inevitable part of life, let's learn to do it better, thus avoiding injury and err, embarrassment.

One thing that I've learned is that in order to stay steady and surefooted, you must be aware. Awareness of your surroundings and others is key to avoiding pitch holes, steps, slippery floors, slippery thieves, ant piles and play ground tether ball poles.

This week my sis got a call from school informing her that my niece had hit her head on a pole during recess.

Details are not forthcoming because when asked about the incident my niece replies
somberly, "I don't want to talk about it. It makes me sad to think about it."

"It's weird, the bump is sort of on the back of her head. Kind of on the side." my sister said.

I know exactly what happened. (Not to brag, but I am pretty good at crashing, falling and slamming into stuff.)

Like I said, the details from eye witness reports are a little sketchy. I picture it happening a little like this:

My very competitive sister's 7 year old offspring was running fiercely away from fellow classmates. She was probably looking over her shoulder while thinking to herself, "You can't catch me suckas!" PONG!!!

The argument was made by my niece that she should go home with Mom but it didn't warrant missing that night's Girl Scout meeting. (If you're too hurt to stay in school, you're too hurt to run around with friends)

Although the goose egg knot on her head was significant, what was bruised worse was perhaps her ego.

Remembering the "pongs" in our lives can really make us feel, well, sad. My niece is right about that. At any age when a "pong" happens for most of us our first reaction is "what the hell?!" Then when we shake off the ringing we lament about how great things were going.

When "I've got this" turns into "Holy heck, I'm goin' down!" it can really make you question your every move.

So watch your step and maybe keep these tips in mind:
  • Don't spend too much time looking over your shoulder watching what everyone else is doing. Keep your own pace and stay the course. 
  • Wear appropriate foot wear. Yes, those 5 inch wedges look awesome in the 3 way mirror at home, but walking across a football field, not so much. 
  • Keep your listening ears on. OK, this is a school thing but it applies to big people too. "Be careful of that last step." How many times have you heard that but then didn't let it play out in your head until you were slipping off of that last step?
  • Step lightly, carefully. That patch of twigs and leaves just might be the cover hatch to a bunny hole. Really! The lighter our gate the less likely we are to put more weight on unsteady ground. Balance and shift your weight back and forth. This method works awesome in life as well. 
  • Keep your hands free. The heavier the load, the quicker you're gonna hit the ground. Life's a journey, pack light. 
  • Open your eyes. Really see what's around you. Our eyes are so conditioned to gazing into tiny lit electronic screens now. Retrain your eyes to scan past a foot in front of your nose. 
Despite our efforts to avoid life's face plants, it's just going to happen from time to time. In that event, let me share the wise advice given to my niece by her classmate while putting a bag of ice on her head. You'll be fine.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Who's Not Afraid of Falling?

Not long ago Venus Williams was quoted as saying that in continuing to play through illness, "I don't want to fall on my face or do something stupid. Once I'm done I can look back and say I didn't make a fool of myself." 

Being a self certified Falling Instructor, I can tell her that she's doing just fine. Not only is she facing her most formidable foe, Sjogren's Syndrome, with grace and dignity, she's showing the world how to manage adversity.

There's something so vulnerable about falling that we forget how often we avoid it. Or somewhere in the recesses of our subconscious we totally forget that we all must learn to fall before we can take flight. 

As her Falling Instructor I would most certainly gush with pride. 

Last week Hubby and I were catching a quick bite to eat and the restaurant had the US Open playing on their television. Venus Williams was playing Italy's Sara Errani. 
"Do you find yourself not cheering for Venus Williams because you don't want people to think that Sjogren's isn't that big of a deal? Like, if Venus Williams wins a match, then some people will think Sjogren's Syndrome can't really be that bad" he asked.  

I nodded yes because I understood the point he was trying to make but then quickly added that I wished for her success. That horrible disease is impacting the phenom in ways she can't yet disclose due to her career. 

During one of her press conferences after a big win she was honest about the difficulty she has living and playing through the symptoms of Sjogren's Syndrome. When asked what specifically she's changed to manage her symptoms she confided that she's made some changes to her training and also she's using new drugs, pharmaceutical drugs she smiled. She concluded by saying that she will give the specifics of her treatment when she's done with the game of tennis. 

How hard it has to be to have so much riding on your body's ability to perform. The pressure must be so intense to know that so many people are depending on you financially. There are endorsers that pretty much own you, trainers, the league, family. 

I was sad to learn that she had lost the match that Saturday. I was sad as if she was on my team. Us Sjoggies stick together and I could pick up on the subtle tell tale signs of stupid Sjogren's. She just seemed off her game but I so wished I was there to say how much a champion she was just qualifying. 

I've read a few articles that popped up on the internet about that day's match. One writer implied that her choice to play doubles with her sister Serena nixed her chance of playing well in singles play. The tone of the article was really salty, as if she had done the whole league a dishonor. 

Perhaps. But perhaps the writer should recognize the fact that while there are limitations to playing with a chronic illness there is also a desperate need to continue doing the things we love. I am just surmising here that Venus Williams loves to play along side her sister Serena. It must give her great joy for which will boost her spirit, thus filling her exhausted tank. 

To be honest if Venus Williams had skipped playing doubles with her sister to "save her strength" for singles play, Sjogren's still could have reared it's ugly head and taxed her body's ability to play well. That's the nature of Sjogren's Syndrome as with many invisible chronic illnesses. 

Venus Williams if a fierce competitor who is commanding respect as she navigates through her journey with grace. She may fall but she will pick her bad ass self up, brush the dust off of her self designed tennis skirt and stand tall. And she's nobody's fool. 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

World Sjogren's Day 2014

Hello again friends.

July 23rd is World Sjogrens Day. While I have a hard time celebrating something that has deeply impacted my life in a profoundly negative way, I can take a moment to take part in it's awareness campaign. In recognition of World Sjogren's Day, Cole and I have put together a slideshow featuring our favorite water sprite, Nixie. 

We both wish you wellness this day! Keep hoping for a cure and until then, there's Nixie.

Music and sketch art by Cole Bothun. To learn about how Super Hydrating Nixie came to be visit:

To learn more about Sjogren's Syndrome please visit

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Falling Into Our Old Selves

This weekend my fellow graduates of North Garland High School Class of 1984 will reunite to celebrate our 30 years of post high school life.

30 years can offer a considerable amount of opportunities to grow, learn and stretch beyond the vision of one's high school self.

We've all lived these gorgeously rich lives, whether we realize it of not. We all have matured through challenges that we never envisioned ourselves walking through. We're all so beautifully grown past the "selves" that we probably envisioned at age 18.

Many of us have weathered the parenthood experience and some are even enjoying grand-parenthood.
Lots of us have been blessed to begin new chapters in their lives where they've changed career paths, some out of necessity and some because they didn't want to waste another day wondering "what if?"

Somehow by Saturday night after hanging out with one another again after so many years, we will no doubt fall into our old selves. You know that family dynamic that occurs every holiday gathering where you feel like you're sitting at the kid table again? I'm sure there's a clinical term for it. What ever it is, I'm guessing that we will revert back into it.

It's not that it's a bad thing really. Taking a giant step back can be a really rewarding exercise in observation. It's sort of like that old question, what would you tell your high school graduate self?

I'll start.

Dear Naive 18-year-old Amy, 

Stick to the plan - your plan. You will see others going off on their own paths following their own dreams. Follow your own plan but be flexible enough to know when God is tugging you into another direction. It might seem like you're off track but you'll learn soon enough that you're in the right place and the right time. What might seem like a flaw or failure in your planning is really just a divine tweak and everything will fall into place. Stick to the plan. 

It's OK to question. You don't know everything and asking questions doesn't make you a dummy. Learn, grow and be the one to find the truth. Truth is empowering. 

Get a handle on fear before fear gets in the way of your dreams. 

Let your friends know how much they mean to you. If you have something to say to someone, for God's sake say it. You don't want unspoken words bottled up in the root of your soul and then learn online that your old friend died a horrible death that no one deserves. Say what you need to say. 

Love your family. Love your family without conditions. Enjoy each day and hug, laugh and love. 

It's OK if your brother makes fun of you. He really does believe he's entitled to it and you'll miss his teasing one day.

You might find out you really didn't know you're Dad like you thought. He's human like the rest of us. You will find that he's not afraid to admit where he's made mistakes and he will be that much stronger a person in your eyes for it. 

Your Mom is an amazing testament of will, faith and courage. The worry you inflict today will be transformed years later when you wait for the porch light to be turned off. 

Your sister will become your best friend. She might grow taller than you and be able to beat you up but she won't. She will on the other hand take on anyone messing with you.  

Enjoy MTV. It might seem like a waste of time to sit and watch it for hours, it's cool but it will go away. Just like cassette tapes. And Miami Vice. And Twinkies. Oh wait, those come back. Anyway, embrace MTV because it will sort of define a whole era of your life. Sort of. 

Last, do what makes you happy. Laugh. Live out the beautiful and the ugly moments of your life. Continue the journey with the goal of just doing what brings a smile to your face and grows your soul. Don't be closed minded about finding that inner peace. You'll find grace in the simplest of places and love in unexpected ways. Do it, do what makes you happy. 

If you could go back and have a chat with your high school graduate self, what would you say?

Friday, March 21, 2014

While I Fall Behind

I've been a bad blogger. My little blog has sat here missing out on some awesome "falling with grace" material.

There were the 2014 Winter Olympics. My gosh- falling skaters, snow boarders, skiers and my niece who fell in slow motion in her living room "like the people on TV".

The Academy Awards provided more content as poor Jennifer Lawrence tumbled over a parking cone just walking to the red carpet. I'm glad she's not hurt and I just love a girl that can laugh at herself.

All eyes were watching the skies for Russia's satellite Kosmos-1220 which was predicted to plummet to Earth scattering debris across the Pacific Ocean. Kosmos-1220 fiery free fall still has not occurred but you can track it's location here.

I've dropped the blogging ball. My blogging ball is sitting all deflated like one of those cheap plastic bouncy balls you give a dog thinking it will provide a weekend's worth of playtime in the yard.

When I started this blog back in 2011 my intention was simply to write about falling. Not only falling but learning how to fall. Falling with grace, if at all possible. Physical falls, emotional pitfalls, falling this way and that. A day doesn't go by without this topic providing my spirit with lessons to live by.

It's been more of a challenge to write than I thought. I underestimated the insurgence of my Sjogren's Syndrome. Acceptance of my chronic illness has been a "falling with grace" lesson in itself. Writing is a creative process and sometimes it's hard to get everything written in between symptoms. It's not impossible, it's just a challenge.

Today I was thinking that I could pass the story telling hat on to others who might have their own "falling with grace" story. I would really love it if ya'll could share stories that come to mind. Have you experienced a setback that has taught you a great deal? Maybe you have a funny story about a fall you've taken.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

RIP Grandma Junod

A few days ago my long deceased Grandfather rolled up to the gates of Heaven in a big red Cadillac honking the horn wildly.

"Jane! We're way behind schedule! Let's go!" He hollered through the opened passenger door.

"Oh! OK Dearies, we've got to go!" She smiled as she sprinted to the car. Beaming, she waved good bye as my Grandfather punched the gas peddle. And off they rode into their biggest journey by far.

That's how I picture it anyway. It's a sweet way to remember my Grandma Junod who passed away this week at the age of 96.

My Grandmother was a long time sufferer of MS but carried it's burdens with much grace and dignity. My memories of my Grandmother are mostly of her smiling. I honestly don't remember her being cross with anyone. That is unless they hurt one of her own.

I was lucky to have grown up with lots of uncles, aunts and cousins. A trip to Grandpa and Grandma Junod's meant a day of hard play, great laughter and rule bending. The house allowed for some awesome horseplay, all out of eye shot of our Moms and Dads.

When we were given the "we're leaving in 5 minutes" warning we would appear before our parents with sweaty heads, flushed cheeks and Grape Crush soda mustaches.

Cousin time at Grandma and Grandpa's was the best. Sincerely, those times are some of the sweetest memories of childhood I have.

Grandma wasn't a fussy woman. She honestly didn't fuss about the little stuff and lived with the lightest of hearts. When we were all chasing each other around the house, up one stair case and down another it was fine by Grandma. I really think she reveled in the chaotic upheaval that a bunch of rowdy kids created. I assume that because she never seemed to mind and it always left her with a smile on her face.

My Grandmother will be sorely missed by the many people she helped despite her own impairments.
I rather like the idea of her spirit sprinting free from the weight of MS and blazing off into the brilliant glow of Heaven's sun with my the big red Cadillac.  

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Comforter, Come Fort Her

Love makes your soul crawl out from it's hiding place. 
                                                      -Zora Neale Hurston

Pssst. It's me, Amy.

Psst. Over here! In the couch cushion fort. here! 

I'm not coming out so ya'll are welcome to come in. It's OK. I won't tell anyone you're in here. If they come calling for you I'll disguise my voice and tell them to move on. 

There. Oh, watch your head. That top cushion is a little wobbly. There now, all comfy? Good.

As common protocol requires, I have stocked my tent with Girl Scout Thin Mints, coffee in a thermos, coloring books, crayons, catalogs (yes, they still print those), flashlight and a comforter. 

I now call this couch cushion fort gathering in session. We're all here for different reasons. Me, I'm hiding from life "stuff". It's not unusual at all for a woman of my age to hide out from "stuff". We're not here to judge people. This is a safe place where we can just avoid the realities of big people life for a while. Just long enough to catch our breath, color in Elmo's fur with the perfect color red and crunch away on some tasty cookies. there! Is that cell phone light I see? There are no phones allowed in couch cushion forts. Seriously? Do you want them to find you? Put that away. Oh, you're going to order something from the catalog? OOO. I love that color, girl! That clutch also comes in coral. Oh and don't forget the promo code from the back. 

OK, as I was saying, we're all here for one reason or another. The Thin Mints are a nice draw but mostly we're here avoiding one thing or another. 

For me, it's even hard to settle on one thing that I'm avoiding. Fears, regrets, wishes and dreams are all out there beyond the It's a Bug's Life comforter.

While this is great fun hanging in my couch cushion tent with ya'll, it's time to address some of this stuff head on. 

I usually jot stuff down on a piece of paper to help me sort things out. Can someone pass me the Indigo colored Crayola crayon? Dark blue signifies knowledge and I'm looking for any inspiration I can muster.

This is a great exercise that I do when other methods don't work to clear the clutter in my brain. Crayons ready? Pass me another Thin Mint and we'll get started.  

So, I'm going to list each worry, woe or heavy thought down but make sure that I end the notation with a question mark. This way I'm making sure that the item isn't cemented as a statement but a question. It lessons it's ability to stay locked up in my head and invokes answers to problems.

Here, you try. This Cerulean is a nice dark blue. You can use the back page of my Elmo book if you like. 

Sometimes when you scribble out your challenges on paper you send requests out to the Universe. Your mind and heart are more open to answers. Mine looks something like this:

Fear of my new level of Sjogren's Syndrome?
Regret of not collaborating with that other writer?
Writing is hard when I can't use my eyes and it hurts my hands to type?
I'm feeling left behind?
I waited too long?
We are out of Thin Mints?
I wish daily tasks weren't so hard?
I'm frustrated by that doctor's lack of knowledge and empathy?

Wait. HOLD ON! We're out of Thin Mints? 

Psalms 27:5
For in the day of trouble He will conceal me in His tabernacle; In the secret place of His tent He will hide me; He will lift me up on a rock. 

Ah, yes. OK then, who's gonna help me get this living room back together?