Friday, November 29, 2013

Let It Go

Frank Clark said that "If a fellow isn't thankful for what he's got, he isn't likely to be thankful for what he's going to get." Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday for many many reasons. Different people have different traditions but for most of us it’s a holiday where the main purpose is a great meal with friends and family; at many of them you state what you’re thankful and are fortunate enough to have some of it right in front of you. I am a guy who likes the basics of life so that’s as good as it gets. It tells you something that that’s the one holiday I’ve never missed with Kiana with some apt negotiation. That may not always continue but I am glad it has for seven years.

It was the first holiday after I got out of the hospital and I’d say at the meal that it was the best year of my life. The original biopsy which was supposed to take 2 days to tell me whether or not I had cancer had taken over two weeks and it came two days before Thanksgiving. (That was the same day that a friend introduced me to Livestrong. The band went on that day and it’s still the exact same one.) But I said thank you because it was the best year of my life because it was the year I had traveled the most having been to India,  Canada, Mexico and a couple of places across the US (unsurprisingly most of them for sporting events). It was also the best because the people who had called, come in to the hospital, all made the prospect of life ending a little easier to imagine because well at that point I was still being guided along by whatever the emergency room had directed me to and hadn’t been directed at that I had some say in the matter.

Thanksgiving would also be the first time I would do a race after getting out of the hospital. Austin has an annual 5 mile race that day, the Thundercloud Turkey Trot. I’d done it before mostly because scientist have proved if you run a race in the morning it cancels out all subsequent calories for the day. But it was also the place where running helped life start to have somewhere I could feel normal again, with those first couple of weeks on steroids and drugs and my head swimming had started to fade but somehow felt completely gone for 4.5 miles (the course was accidentally cut short).

Fast forward one year later to 2011, it was the first race I would run with a stroller in. I’d been running with a stroller for a while but I had no clue and no inkling that races allowed strollers. The Turkey Trot had a stroller division. I tried to turn it on but it’s a race with thousands and thousands of people so I learned the hard way, you can’t burst at the beginning and navigating around people with a stroller is not possible. I would take second. Last year, I would take first in the stroller division outsprinting the guy in first to win by the smallest margin and the only time I’ve ever sprinted head to head with a stroller. That was a blast. Each of those times was faster than the one before but never anywhere near my personal best time at the distance. Each of those times we did the kid’s k before with Kiana being in the 5 and under group and so running ahead of a good chunk of the crowd.

The day before with it being a non school day we tried to make it both a fun and productive day. We were raking leaves which Kiana eventually decide were more fun to throw up in the air. I originally was goign to reprimand her but decided it was better to take pictures. However, before going to bed, Kiana said to me to try to win the turkey trot (I said the wins don't matter, it's getting exercise in that counts ... not sure which one of was more skeptical to hear me say that ). She’d never said that before about any race but upon asking a little more I learned why it was her favorite prize ever. She’s never cared about the trophies we get but she remembered that winning the stroller division comes with gift certificates to Thundercloud Subs, a local sandwhich place. Last year after we won it, we stretched them out as best as we could to a few outings there. I’d like to think she wanted to win it because it meant a good walk with dad to a restaurant or a special meal since we rarely go out to eat (it may well be that finally I get some chips, soda or cookies since those aren’t allowed at the house but are accepted on special outings).

It was cold. The heater had been broken in my house so Kiana had been sleeping in my bed with a space heater until we got it fixed. But it was going to be cold. Luckily, both Kiana and I got to warm up with her doing the kids K with me next to her. Like every race we’ve done so far, Kiana looked like she was both having fun and trying to moderate the distance. I don’t know if it’s genetic or human tendency that it’s easier to work with the end in site, once the finish line was in view, she sprinted it in.

Last year, at the turkey trot, it was the only time I’ve ever taken someone out during a race with a stroller. It was a turn and their leg kicked back into the stroller. I helped her get up and we got back on course (I would win the stroller division, she would win her age group; we hugged it out at the trophy ceremony). However, I felt ridiculously bad doing that so this year I immediately went to the farthest outside opposite of where the first turn is (usually the side serious runners avoid) for the first mile or so. The honest truth is I just wanted to win the stroller division and win Kiana some of the outings for food and so I just kept an eye out on the strollers and by the end of mile 1 was ahead of all of them clocking it in at 6:08. So I just said okay, I’ll take it easy from here to the finish line unless any strollers get close, clocking in the second mile at 6:18.

However, the day before the race, we’d gone to see Frozen. And Kiana for some reason loved this song, “Let it go.” I’m certainly no movie critic but the part that was interesting was that someone had gotten “poisoned” with magical ice. And the wise strolls said that it wasn’t that big of a deal the first time when it hit her head, stating that’s not of much use anyway. The second time, years later, it struck her heart and that was lethal. Whatever has poised or frozen any parts of my head, I am reminded each race, each meal, each day that it’s still more than a marathon away from my heart. Ignore any plot lines associated with the song but since Kiana kept singing it, I literally downloaded the song right before the race. It was by far both the closest to a race I’ve ever changed the playlist and the least I’ve ever known a song that was supposed to amp me and Kiana up (go talk to my neuropsychologist about how I have increased impulsivity). Still, it came on about mid course with perfect lyrics:

It's funny how some distance makes everything seem small
And the fears that once controlled me can't get to me at all
Up here in the cold thin air I finally can breathe
I know I left a life behind but I'm too relieved to grieve
Let it go, let it go
Can't hold it back anymore

It might have helped the course got flatter right around then and that the weather was perfect. Between hearing that on its own and hearing Kiana belting it out, I turned it on and let it go. Mile three was a 5:50, mile 4 5:41 and mile 5, 5:40. I would finish the race in 29:33, my fastest 5 miler ever, passing New York by about 3 seconds per mile, repeating the stroller division wins. It was cool to do so on the home terf that had been my first post hospital race, my first stroller race and Kiana’s first race.

I don’t recommend a good chunk of my life but I’ll tell you I am thankful for what I have and whatever will come, there will be something within in it I’ll try to be thankful for. Some people came after the race to shake mine and Kiana’s hand and said they’d seen the piece on NBC (including one of my doctor’s from Duke’s interns). I’ve got medical appointments Monday and Tuesday and the potential of what could happen in those has been messing with me. Friends try to ask how I’m feeling and there are things that you don’t feel. I had done a hill workout and was socializing at a party the day before the first time I woke up in an ambulance. I was literally at the front of a run the second time I woke up in once. And usually, I’m feeling pretty well not too well before the vomiting or focal seizures take place so this is one place where I think how I feel matters very little. Trying to do with as much conviction as she'd thrown leaves up in the air with,  I gotta say for those last three miles, I was just a guy with his kid, singing, running and letting it go.  And that was something to be thankful for. 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Make It A Good One, Eh?

I’ve been working on my holiday cards the last few days. Both last year and this year, I did it around this time which people commend me for getting it done so early. I’m a guy who always like to think ahead (a necessary act when you don’t trust your memory) but the simple truth is that filling out a few dozen of those envelopes and hand writing them serves many purposes. (By the way while people may commend me, I got two before I was done with mine and unlike mine they were long handwritten notes. Mine was a collection of pictures with the highlights of the year shared through Kiana, the highlight of my life. By the way if you’re reading this and don’t have one by the end of next week, please send me your address because well I forget things). The biggest purpose to quote JFK is to stop and thank the people who make a difference in our life. Another purpose in simple truth is that when the medical tests get close, though even though I’m not working my insane stay busy-ness ramps up because, I get nervous/scared/insert appropriate word. I hope everything is stable, I wonder if anything will show that makes it time to get prepared for the trip to the Grand Canyon. So I just ramp up the days, hours and minutes to have very little thinking/worrying time. And well holiday cards is an incredibly good distraction because it puts in my mind the people I'm thankful for. I can't think of a better way overcome stress or worry.

I’ve done holiday cards since Kiana was born except for the year when all this started in November 2010 (I had some distractions) and as is typical and probably appropriate, the caption on there has always been a positive thought that struck me that year such as two years ago, the best part of life is when your friends become family and your family becomes friends. This year’s caption was from an episode of Doctor Who, a show that’s had more than one nod in this blog, and as he’s dying and talking to a little girl says to her while  she’s sleeping, “I’ll just be a story in your head. But we’re all stories, in the end. Just make it a good one eh?” Now it’s a TV show that had it’s 50th anniversary yesterday so he’s clearly not dead but we as humans still die. Still, that line struck a chord.

My story has been told way too much this year (With friends I change a bit the tunes of Simon and Garfunkel and joke, I am just a poor boy but my story’s often told). I’m humbled but still completely unclear as to why because as I said to NBC the things that people are talking about are the basics of life, one foot in front of the other with people you love (Today show: and  NBC nightly news:  

There is one element I’d not recommend being in the media or keeping a public blog after all this. Many many good people have reached out in just simple kindness but occasionally some other people who, in simple frankness, might benefit from having their own brain checked out even if their intentions are good. There were several pot offers, a proposal from someone twice my age, there’s the guy who said if I didn’t try this product I’d given up on life; with all due respect, who contacts a guy they heard of on the today show for winning a marathon behind a stroller to tell me I’ve given up on life? People point me to texts showing that God intends  other things for me etc etc. Kiana and I will head to church in a couple of hours but my approach to morality, the will of God is what an old college professor used to say: “You can try to figure out what the will of God is for you or you can try to figure out what the will of God is period and live your life accordingly.” And that’s my approach that the will of God/what’s moral are the exact same thing and I don’t believe I have an individual destiny but am just trying to do the basic right things which in my current circumstances is just one foot in front of the other with people I love. And I may be over simplifying it but on most days, in most circumstances, I do think that for the vast majority of humanity, the right thing is rarely that complicated. Still well intentioned people have suggested products/religion/diets/medical approaches to get me to cure and beat this. Most of those idea
have been considered and a few have been attempted. Some are just so different from my perspective that I blow them off but the simple truth is I trust my doctors, my friends and my family and if the tests go well next week or poorly, I am grateful for the journey. I am grateful that friends have laughed and cried with me (for good laughter see the current attached note someone gave me for my 3 rd cancer anniversary). And while I assure you I do some of both, I still insist it's healthier to laugh at some of the things that make you cry. I mean this week alone a very polite and very enthusiastic telemarketer called and said
Telemarketer: I'm calling from <> to tell you about our car insurance rates dropping.
Me: I don't drive. 
Telemarketer: Well let me talk to you about our life insurance, do you have any serious pre existing conditions:
Me: I have brain cancer.
Telemarketer: Well, if any of that changes, keep us in your mind... I mean give us a call then. 

Some things couldn't be scripted if you tried. I felt sorry for the kid who got the bad luck of getting my number and I'm sure he's feeling sorry for me or wondering if I was just messing with. But I really do hope that as we remember that story today or whenever that we both look back at it and laugh or at least smile. 

For four years in a row now, at years end, I could have said this was the strangest most unexpected year of my life (2010 cancer, 2011 brain surgery and divorce, 2012 waking up in an ambulance and getting fired and custody fight, 2013 winning a marathon, a few media things, race invitations and a few legal battles). I assure you on January 1st 2014, I will be hoping that even if it’s a strange year that it will at least be less strange than the previous one. But with or without strangeness, it's good to have shared some of the company. 
But still whether this is all I get or whether there is some eternal life, that’s all I’m trying to do is just make it a good story which is just life itself. Because there is no one always there and so however long life lasts, when we’re running together or throwing a Frisbee or going to church or cooking a meal, I try to focus with Kiana or whoever is with me or if it’s just me to take some joy in the journey, to make the pancakes into flowers, to make the run a karaoke show, to make a walk into a heart warming, hand holding experience. And that is the best story I could ever dream up.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Join the Voices

It was an incredible privilege to get invited to attend New York to do the 5 mile race of Join the Voices Against Brain Cancer ( Not quite sure what to do with the fact that it seems the flatter city I am, the hiller the race gets. Didn’t quite know how to approach it and having looked at the pictures from last weekend's half marathon, I was starting to wonder if it was time to retire since Kiana looked so big in the stroller (Kiana addressed that quickly and said, no I still fit but we can get a bigger stroller sometime). Still, getting a chance to walk and run through Central Park and museums the day before made me realize that if you have a good breakfast, you can take in more than six impossible things.

We arrived before hand at the festival for the Voices Against Brain Cancer and while Kiana was playing 
around, I interacted with neurosurgeons, oncologists, brain cancer patients, their care takers, their friends and families. Both privately and onstage, voices were less than normal as people shared their stories. Those with the most enthusiasm were the stories about having been given a few weeks or months and to still be standing a few years later. Other’s voices seemed more liked whispers as they shared the story of someone as they shared how they had to relearn or compensate for lost biological and mental function. There were voices that cracked for who had gotten much shorter than their prognosis, others who the treatment or side effects would end up proving a shorter life than if they’d left it alone. There were other ones like Mario Lichenstein, the founder who had been robbed of their child who could unfortunately relate to those who had lost their friends, their family. The voices from these ranged to a broken heart to incredible anger. But everyone I met was there for the same reason, the ones they loved, those they were for, gave them a very strong reason to indicate why they were against brain cancer. Some people had seen the NBC piece that had aired the night before and commended me on it but I can say nothing other than I was embarrassed that it took brain cancer for me to get right some of the basic things in life while they clearly had for far more years than I’ve done it ( and

After what seemed too short of time with some of these guys, I had to head down to the race. They had originally said that to be courteous to the other runners they were going to give me a 5-15 minute head start and for me it’s tough to keep pace when I’m alone so I was going to use it somewhere between a race and a tough training run, slower than I usually race at that distance but faster than I usually train so I was going to try to keep a 6:15-6:20 pace. Then, literally moments before the race, right after I had the privilege of addressing the crowd, they said I was going to get only 30 seconds. The race started and there was a hill… and another hill… I guess there were some down hills but I don’t remember them to but on that I actually grip harder on the stroller just for fear of it going without me. This was the first race I’d ever had to pick up a water cup instead of having it handed to me. Let’s just say that on the first one, I picked up one and knocked down quite a few. On the next one I picked up the very last one with two fingers while holding the stroller in one hand. A cyclist who was riding beside me said he was impressed and I’m like yeah, “I can’t believe I got that water.” He said, “I meant with the way you’re running up hill with a stroller.” I kept getting passed until mile 3 and then someone passed me and I decided to see if I could keep up with him for the last two miles. Because he was 30 seconds officially ahead of me, by keeping up with him, I had to speed up my pace. We finished pretty close together in the end but with about a third of a mile to go I looked down at my watch and realized if I could hold it for just about two minutes I would achieve what I’d been trying to for over 2 years, getting a faster time with Kiana in a stroller than without one, getting a 29:51 on a 5 mile race, a sub six minute pace. I have no idea what my facial expressions are when I’m running that hard but everyone said I came in smiling and well, that’s why.

People may think it’s cause I’ve been training harder and that’s true but that’s not the biggest part of the equation to me. It’s no coincidence that the races are I’ve trained the hardest for are the ones that let me in with a stroller or the ones with a cause. But on the times Kiana’s with her mom for the weekend, some very meaningful races have happened the Brain Power 5k, the Austin Livestrong Marathon, the Livestrong Century, the Angels Among Us 5k at Duke’s Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center (a huge highlight of the New YOrk trip was to reconnect with the guy who beat me at that race and our families getting to meet but it surely puts in perspective that right now he’s not able to run due to treatment). In every one of those races it was my best time at that distance the first time I participated in the event. Unfortunately, none of these two things have ever combined before. Between that and this event being by far the biggest cancer or brain cancer event I’ve ever attended (this may be for no other reason than of the population of New York), I ran with serious conviction.

Afterwards, they were kind enough to hand me a medal for courage. Like every medal, in any race Kiana’s been a part of, it came off my neck and went on hers. It was an amazing privilege to receive and it belonged to the princess that gives me courage and the one who I am trying to make sure this cancer affects as little as possible. For a guy who got a courage award, let me state, nothing scares me more than anything going wrong in her life, especially because of this cancer  or its side effect.

I was asked to address the crowd after receiving my award for a couple of minutes. If you read this blog,
I’m fairly long winded so keeping it short is not my strongest suit. But between being overwhelmed by it all, I said some of what I’d prepared and some thoughts that came to mind. See, the reason I train hard for these events and raise money for them is because most people to get up and do something just need inspiration. I admire the guys at these races because they keep going despite sometimes lacking information on how to do so. I know and have met cancer patients who give up on life before it’s over so I’m greatful for events like this where we can connect and see that we’re in this together.

I am not saying cancer is the worst way to die. In my book there are very few, if any good deaths, whether that be a a random disease, accident or old age. But what I admire at every athletic event, and what I reflect on when I sit here sore from these events that I do, is that people who are active who push their bodies, their minds, their souls, whenever we die, we’ve given what we can to die young as late as possible. That, that is the way to live.  All death feels senseless but the tough struggle for me cancer patients in general and us brain cancer patients in specific, we have to accept that the very essence of who we are, our brains, has betrayed us and we are fighting a disease inside our own heads, the part of us that I think makes us human. So when I got to address the community, all I could say say was thank you because their efforts provides me and far far better people than me more information to have a chance to continue to pursue inspiration. And I thanked them because that day, they provided me inspiration and in a perfect aligning of events, I got a personal best time faster behind Kiana on a hilly course than I ever had on a flat course without her.

There was a variety of problems that Kiana and I saw that day from brain cancer some emotional, physical, financial. I have some of all of those. But I am still standing and I still have a voice and it was my privilege at that race to join theirs. Longfellow wrote “The human voice is the organ of the soul.” Being against brain cancer, not every chord is a good one, but yesterday, I loved that the voices joined for a very good harmony.

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Fate of Bridges

3 years to the day after I was waiting for a biopsy, and three weeks away from an MRI, I was getting to return to the community that was kind enough to let me run a marathon behind a stroller. I get nervous about races but running is my therapy so it was good to head to the Pleasure Island Bridge Half marathon. Once again they were nice enough to let me do the race with the stroller, the toughest race I've done yet with her. I prefer 13.1 miles of hard core therapy because I'd rather the course test the system and my body than when machines and doctors do it. It started over a bridge from miles 2-4 that was by far the steepest thing I've ever done with a stroller (NBC was covering and it will air on Nightly news on the 16th and while we're on media pieces The 2013 runner's world piece came out and before I'd seen it in person, someone from Beaumont was actually the first to send me a picture. They captured the copy well (though my tumor is in my left temporal not frontal lobe) but stating that all I'm trying to do is hang out with my daughter. While we're on media things, there was also a video from local news that covered the race, but boy was I glad someone was filming it... it will show why bridge took so much out of me... it felt like I was in 5k heart beating mode and it took me till almost the halfway mark before I was anywhere near breathing normal, half marathon normal breathing mode anyway.

I got passed and owned going up that bridge by so many people, though since it was a 10k and a half marathon starting simultaneously... I had no clue who was in my race. But it was a gorgeous view of the bay though I was breathing so hard I only caught a few glimpses. Once we got past the bridge about halfway in, someone yelled that I was 7th or 8th, turned out I was in sixth but I kept trying to recover and literally push along. At the 10 mile mark I was in 4th with the leader very well ahead and 2nd and 3rd in view. This race had two turn around points and it was great to see so many runners from this community. High fived more than a few in the middle of the race.

This course was the toughest thing I'd ever done with a stroller. There are things you take for granted as a runner, that I probably wouldn't have noticed without Kiana. The bridge would have hurt either way but pushing 75 lbs up it... but there was some gravel on the course, there were some sharp turns, there were round turns through a gorgeous residential area, there were speed bumps (Kiana said whee during those) and right at the end there was a wooden pier which I would have loved to walk on but it was a bumpy ride. It was there that the guy in second gained a bit of time on me (we ran pretty close together from mile 11 onward) and I tried to sprint the end to catch up but I would finish two seconds behind and take 3rd in a time of 1:23.42.

I have no goal of winning any race because you never know who the competition is (to give you an idea the guy who came in first finished about a mile ahead of us) but I keep holding onto this goal in every race that I've done with a stroller that I still haven't achieved. All my times with a stroller are my second best times (that's now true in a 2miler, a 5k, a 5 miler, a 10 miler, a half marathon, and a marathon) and some good intentioned running friends point that out... I try to comfort myself by saying that every stroller time is faster than than any non stroller time before cancer. And this half marathon was faster than any I had done with or without a stroller in almost 2 years...

Still, the last time I went out to that running community, they asked me to speak shortly before the marathon. And the first thing I said which no one remembers was apologizing for the shortness of my shorts but what some did remember was to not be as dumb as me and wait till something goes wrong before they do something right. But it was clear they already were smarter than me that day, long before I won a marathon. Because they let me do one with her. And when I had a flat tire, there was someone who was kind enough to offer to babysit so I could still run and when they realized I wasn't interested in that
someone who tried to put in a tire tube, someone who gave me a spare tire. Strangers, now friends, who biked next to Kiana. And unlike last time which was a last second marathon sign up, we had more time. So we took in a museum of the area, some cajun food, some good dancing showing why that environment has bred good runners and good people. Both times I've gotten to share their company on the road or in a restaurant, it was my honor to do so.
More than a couple of people questioned my decision to sign up for that race because of the bridge (when we were driving across it, I questioned the decision and I definitely did so when I was running up it). Ildan once wrote that "the fate of the bridges is to be lonely; because bridges are to cross not to stay." And there's no way to avoid thinking of the reason that some of the connection has come from this is cancer. I hope cancer can be as lonely as long as possible. But I'm not in denial that it was the bridge that got me back to that place with those wonderful people. While I'd only ever been in the area once before, let's just say the Bon Jovi song this time was "Who says you can't go home?" felt very appropriate.  So last time all I did was race there and the fact that I won the marathon was a big deal to many. The simple truth is that I enjoyed this race and trip a lot more because Kiana and I got not only the privilege of sharing the road with them but sitting across tables chatting with them, dancing with them. And however lonely that bridge on the island is, or the bridge of cancer is, I believe those human connections made by that running community, by that disease and by my princess and I are here to stay. And I'll  run up and down any bridge to keep that happening. 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Present Company

Remember, remember the 5th of November. 3 years ago today, November 5, 2010 I woke up in an ambulance at a birthday party and somehow Life Part II was conceived… There have been many strange things that happened since that day when I’d never called in sick at a job I’d had for a few years, I was regularly using my passport, I was married for almost 10 years, I’d never ran with my daughter, I had a fatter bank account… It’d be less than honest to say I don’t miss some of those things but here 3 years later… somehow each year being stranger than the one before with wins, gains and losses… all I can say is that I’m grateful to still be standing.

What do you do to celebrate a cancerversary as some call it? Well I woke up a cute girl who somehow intuitively had made an I love you daddy heart. Perhaps, it was as a response to the heart of stone I brought her back from a trip I had over the weekend in Colorado. In the strange blessings that have come I’ve gotten to run in Colorado, Vermont, and Idaho this year in some serious elevation… talk about a runner’s high. But on the trip to Colorado, there was fun dancing, great eating, one of the big highlight was that I got to hang out with an old friend, Leandro Bizama. He was a friend who I knew in high school, who after college graduation convinced me to volunteer in the South Pacific as a high school teacher in the Marshall Islands, who came shortly after the biopsy and shortly after the surgery. The Marshallese, at least when I was there 10 years ago, were not very punctual, internet barely existed there and being a teacher was tough because a huge percentage of those with or without education ended up in very similar occupations, since there’s only so many options on an island that’s 4 square miles. We reminisced about old days but I was
reminded of an old phrase that the Marshallese have, “Present company is always more important than future company.” This was the rationale/motivation/excuse for the lack of unpunctuality because if you were with someone and enjoying their company, it was far ruder to leave it than it was to keep someone else waiting. I know that’s against the American approach generally speaking and there is an argument to be made of why one culture is known for being more productive than the other but still… while I was in Colorado for 3 days, I am sad to admit that it took 33 years to achieve this but for the first time in my entire adult life, I went three days in a row without setting an alarm.  In simple honesty, the body is too well tuned to getting up early so I did and still ran every day but it somehow made falling asleep each night easier.

And, while I didn’t achieve it as well as I should have, I tried to stay off my phone more. )It was great when I was in places were there gorgeous mountains covered in snow and trees and waterfalls and no phone reception). But when there was I semi copped out beause I had friends doing Spartan races and the New York marathon and of course there was the Cowboys game and hearing in on how church went and how cute somebody’s kids were that day... I’m a guy who obviously over shares between this blog and facebook and they are a way to make a human connection. But there is no scene more ironic to me than when I go to a party or a restaurant and there is a table full of people and every one of them is on their phone and none of them are having that old fashioned thing called conversation. I’ve made deals with people that whoever is the first to pick up their phone at the table picks up the tab, both one on one and in a group setting. For me, before this all started in 2010, I’d never had internet access at home, didn’t have a smart phone. I got the technology oddly enough due to cancer to research the medical things, to connect with people who weren’t around every day more efficiently. It helped with those things and I’m a guy with memory problems so it helps to be able to take quick pictures and make quick notes and sometimes play the rehab games right on the fly (the get an ipad recommendation actually came from a neuropsychologist who said you could turn it on and work on things more efficiently than in a book or a notebook or on a computer).

That is the beauty of hanging out with a six year old. As I sit through conversations about being inspirational (still correct everyone to say it's perspirational) or answer questions about how do you do it, I have an incredibly simple answer, I have a great teacher. As I walked Kiana to school today, she all but screamed stop and then moved a snail off the sidewalk and put it in the grass so that I didn’t crush it. When we go to the playground she’s running and hanging out with people she likes. The things people have been kind enough to commend me for, exercising and getting time in with people I love are things every six year old in Kiana’s class does without any instruction. I’m a guy with memory problems but I am embarrassed and grateful that it took brain cancer to remind me of those forgotten and neglected basics.

I know there are times we make big deals out of anniversaries and birthdays. When I was married I treated each one of those sacred, taking each of those days off and doing something fun… well look how well that worked out. But the reason was that I’d neglected some daily things… so what am I doing today to celebrate life? I made Kiana breakfast, walked her to school, I’m going to iron my laundry, go to Costco, have lunch with some good friends, do my lumosity brain rehab, do some homework with her, do a track workout with more good friends and then put her to bed.

I was a guy who had his life planned 10 years in advance and the universe laughs at my plans with each year has seemed stranger than the one before. I’ve enjoyed big celebrations after races and accomplishments. If I’ve erred anywhere, I’ve noticed that I really don’t have any long term plans anymore. I am not trying to be healthy only to get to 70; it’s because fruit salad and exercise are good today. It’s been my experience that most things that are good for you in the long term, while they don’t bat a thousand, are consistently positive for you on the day to day. There are people who are incredibly good with people and have no blog and no facebook, twitter etc. There are those whose entire social life appears to be on those and rarely if ever make the old fashioned hug, handshake, high five. Between the extreme I’d choose the former. I’m probably a long way from taking down this blog or shutting down my facebook account but they won’t come out during any of those “celebrations” today. While it’s not always completely possible, it is a good way to live and enjoy that present company is more important than future company (or past company for that matter). Because a guy with memory problems, remembers 3 years to date of when cancer started that today’s daily tasks are very much worth celebrating.