The Perks Continue!

For anyone who has followed my blog for a while, or read my book, 100 Perks of Having Cancer Plus 100 Health Tips for Surviving It  you may recall that one of the PERKS of having cancer, was getting free stuff.  For example, my t-shirt drawer is practically over-flowing with free t-shirts from various cancer events.  I am happy to report, that even though my challenge to find 100 perks has long been accomplished, the perks continue.

#thinkpinkbink

October (Pinktober) is breast cancer awareness month, and although the color pink makes some people nauseous, I still love it……especially when it comes attached to FREE STUFF!   I recently received this Pink Bink Mobile Media Table in the mail, just because!

A worthy cause and a fabulous piece of furniture! 

It is a fabulous little multi-purpose table that can be used as a desk, coffee table or even a night stand.  It is strong, light-weight and practical.  Proceeds from each Pink Bink sold will benefit the cancer research efforts of City of Hope®, a leading research and treatment center for cancer and other life-threatening diseases.  You can learn more about the Pink Bink HERE 

Some of you may be thinking, “I can’t believe Florence Strang is taking kickbacks from her blog!”  Getting free stuff in return for a bit of publicity can be an unethical practice.  But folks, I did my homework on this City of Hope  so please, hear me out.

Have you noticed how pretty much everything gets “pinked out” during the month of October?  I mean everything, form a pack of tic tacs, to tins of soup to toilet paper seems to be sporting the pink ribbon.

We consumers are led to believe that by buying these products we are doing something good for breast cancer research.  Not so.  Much of the time the ribbon is there just to raise awareness of breast cancer, as if you did not already know that it exists.  In other words, it is a scam.

However, I did my homework on the pink bink campaign and it turns out, the City of Hope, whom they support, is a very legitimate, not for profit cancer research center.  Best of all, they use their dollars to fund research for metastatic breast cancer.   Read more HERE

The thing that many people do not understand about breast cancer is that nobody dies from it……..unless it is metastatic, or stage four.  A woman could develop a very early stage cancer, have it treated, and months later be diagnosed with stage four.  I know of a woman, for example, who had stage zero cancer, meaning it barely registered on the ole cancer-meter, but it came back months later as stage 4.  Cancer cells are sneaky little things, you see.  You might get all cocky thinking, “Oh I have nothing to worry about.  I have been cancer free for ten years.  It can’t get me now.”  Only to have it come back in the lungs, bones or brain with the intent to kill.

 However, ironically, even though stage 4 breast cancer is the only one that kills, it receives the least amount of research funding.  

So before you support the next product or service that is blinged out in pink, find out for yourself where your dollars are going.  The life you are saving by supporting metastatic breast cancer research could be your own or that of someone you love.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Befores and Afters….Furniture Make-Overs

First of all, I am not a creative person. However, they say that necessity is the mother of invention and in my case, poverty was the mother of creativity. Recently, I decided to furnish my empty house in Lewin’s Cove on a limited (some might say “non-existent”) budget. So I spent weeks on Kijiji and browsing thrift stores for good deals. Then, armed with a few cans of spray paint, some chalk paint and a quart of polycrylic, I performed some magic! Here are some of my befores and afters.

Project 1:  Rocking Chair.  When I saw this antique rocking chair on Kijiji for just $10, I knew I had to have it.   This chair had been in the lady’s family for over 100 years, which was evident by the many coats of paint.   One tin of blue spray paint ($7.99) and a couple of coats of polycrylic, and I had a piece that I will cherish forever!  (Note: Polycrylic is a water-based clear coat finish.  It costs about $20 a quart, but it is enough to finish many, many projects.  It is a great finish for chalk paint and a much easier option than wax.)

 

Before

After

Before finishing with polycrylic, I distressed it with a piece of sandpaper, to maintain the antique look.

Project 2:  End Table.  My daughter, Kaitlyn, was throwing out this little table, and I thought it would make a nice addition to my entrance way.  I spray painted the top and chalk painted the legs white.

Before

After

Note: I spray painted the handle black.

Project 3: Nightstand.  Some things, like my rocking chair, are truly antique.  Some things, like this night table, are simply old and out of style.  However, once again, my spray paint worked it’s magic and I have a modern, very heavy solid wood night table. I used a high gloss spray paint ($7.99) which did not require a finish.  The table cost $7 at Value Village.

Before

After (note: I spray painted the handles again.  One tin of black spray paint finished many projects!)

I used this table in my half bath, as a place to store towels.  The jug I got at a yard sale for $1.  The picture originally had a green and burgundy frame, which I spray painted this lovely aqua color, left over from my end table make over above!

Project 4:  Dining Room Set.  Who amongst us did not own an oak set like this in the 90’s?   Most of them have been sent off to university with our kids, or to our cabins.  However, it is solid wood.  They just don’t make them like this anymore.  I got this set on kijiji for $80.

Before.  Note: I had taken out the insert at this stage and used paint remover to take off the varnish.  For the chairs, I used chalk paint so no need to remove the original varnish finish since chalk paint will stick to anything.

After.  The chairs and base were painted with chalk paint, finished with polycrylic.  For the top, I used a rag to apply dark stain after it had been sanded down.  Then I added several coats of polycrylic.

After close up.

Project 5:  Solid oak coffee table.  What a find!  A big, heavy, coffee table for $25.  Two coats of chalk paint, a bit of distressing with sandpaper, and once again, finished with polycrylic.  I also used a hammer to put a few dents and scrapes in it before finishing, to add to the distressed, antique look.

Before

After.  Note: I used country grey chalk paint.

Project 6: Lamps.  I have had these lamps for about 15 years.  It did not really cost me anything to re-finish since I already had a tin of black spray paint.  The shades I painted with two coats of white, latex paint.

Before (beige and gold) and After (modern black and white) side by side.

Project 7:  Fireplace.  Of all my projects, this is definitely my masterpiece!   How to give new life to an old fireplace?  Paint!  I used white melamine, which took several coats, but in retrospect I would have used white chalk paint, which is much less work, and finished with polycrylic.  The bricks I painted with a heat resistant paint.  Notice how even the wall color looks nicer in the after picture.

Before

After

I don’t have a before photo of my living room, unfortunately, but just imagine brown fireplace, brown coffee table and beige walls.  With some paint and a bit of elbow grease, the room was completely transformed.

I have to warn you, once you start doing these projects, it becomes addictive.  I am currently trying to wean myself off kijiji since I have no room for more makeovers.

Where do I get all of my patience to finish these projects, you ask?  I meditate!  If you live in the St. John’s area, and would like to try out a free meditation class, I am offering one on October 22nd.  Register here:

https://www.florencestrang.com/upcoming-workshops

 

 

10 Powerful Tips to Overcome Negative Thoughts

I thought I would share some positive vibes this week by sharing a guest post from Lisa Griffin.   Learn more about Lisa’s work here:   https://customwriting.com/

Negative emotions are like a film that can fill you with anxiety and solitude throughout your life. In simple words, such adversity could make you the loser of your being. The Proverbs 4:23 from the Bible says, ‘Be careful what you think because your thoughts run your life.’ You have to cultivate your mind to think about what you wish to achieve and prevent any idea about what you don’t want.

Generally, I try to stay positive, inspirational and informative. On the contrary, I had millions of causes to turn my living into a real disaster by swamping my mind with weak beliefs.  In this article I will examine several methods and techniques for avoiding bad cognition and will try to find the best ways to think positive in order to keep your head above the water.


1. Feel your ‘Zen.’ It was proven by all scientists that meditation is the leading remedy to almost every mental issue. If you suffer from inimical feelings, self-examination has the best outcome. Close your eyes and try to focus on a visionary source of light; it’s much easier than you think.

2. Get in touch with cheerful people. When you notice that you are stuck in a gloomy circle, try to communicate more with bright and lively humans. They manage to show you things for the other side as they don’t face such adversity as you do.

3.  Laugh as much as you can.  Whenever you are overpowered by pessimistic emotions, leave all behind and start laughing hitting on all cylinders! Yes, it sounds ridiculous, but this is the secret of amusing therapy and how to overcome negativity in a second.

4. Leave your comfort zone by being active. Without any fear and numbers of reasons just make the first step regarding training, and it takes you on a joyful adventure. Even five minutes a day would make a great difference. A perfect solution is to commit a weekly program where you have the same activity the whole week and then change the scheme. Your brain likes a variety of choices, and such modification is capable of helping.

5. Conversation for two: nature and you. Being out in nature magnifies the spirits. Make a break and to take a gulp of fresh air by entering the wood or some wilderness location with tall trees and lush greenery at the foot. Go for a bike ride or grab a pack for a camping and unite with the landscape countryside.

6. Affirmative reading – positive thinking. I am up to take a leap on a hunch that every morning you ask yourself how to stop bad thoughts in your head. There are days when you wake up and already feel bad. In such days, there is no desire to leave the bed and do something. In order to prevent avoid such situations, take a pen, write on a post-in-note any affirmative quote and put it near your bed, on the fridge door, on the mirror or on your computer. Read it as soon as you are awake, and you will be surprised at how much it will inspire you.

7. Encourage yourself for little triumph. Celebrate those moments in with friends and family. Cultivate and admire your being by perceiving vigorous.

8. Evoke happy occasions.  Every time you endure a miserable reflection, bethink about your joyous hours, and in a minute, you will notice a smile on your face.

9. Next step to stop deprecation – let it go.  If it doesn’t suit you, leave it all behind. Do not let yourself to overpower with that awareness. Though, it is not a crime to flounder a little inside your feelings and releases them.

10. Post about it, write it on the social networks. Once you do this, you commit to receive a powerful feedback of support from the social media communities. I am so grateful for all words, which boost my confidence and overcome those unfavorable thoughts.

Thanks, Lisa, for sharing your positive thoughts and vibes with Perks of Cancer.  Namaste!  Flo

Bio:  Lisa is a famous blogger, educator, and just a smart girl, whose motto is: ‘Do not be afraid to get creative and experiment with your life and work.’ She works for https://customwriting.com/with millions of graduates all over the world by helping them to cope with a diversity of university documentation. She writes fantastic articles of encouraging the humanity, how to move forward and never give up in despair. Lisa’s post ‘7-Step Plan for How to Start a Mobile Food Truck Business’ is a real helper for all food lovers and food makers and how to turn a hobby into a prosperous business.

Would you Recognize the Signs of Ovarian Cancer?

Ladies, would you recognize the warning signs of ovarian cancer? Ovarian cancer can be a deadly disease. It is the fifth most common cancer in women, affecting 1 in 73.  However, because the symptoms and warning signs are usually subtle, it often goes undetected.

Unlike breast cancer, which is the “rock star” of women cancers, with a vibrant pink campaign encouraging women to do self screening and get mammograms, little is known about ovarian cancer. However, one woman in Newfoundland is doing something to change that. Bonnie Morgan is an ovarian cancer survivor, who, (along with her co-chair, Alana Walsh-Giovannini, a dedicated committee, and the support of Memorial University), has made it her mission to raise awareness and understanding of ovarian cancer, and in doing so, she hopes to help save lives. Here is Bonnie’s story:

                                                      Bonnie Morgan
 In late 2008, I moved home to Newfoundland for a fresh start. I was 52, happy to be home, healthy, just starting a new relationship and was high on life. Exercise and good food were always important to me. I never smoked, and only drank socially.

It all started just over a year after returning to Newfoundland. I seemed to be feeling a little more bloated than normal, and it didn’t go away as I expected. I thought the bloating was due to menopause, as after all, I was at that age. I decided to see my family doctor for a check up and was given the appropriate physical exam. She felt something during the exam that was suspected to be a cyst; however, just to be sure she sent me for a blood test and an ultrasound. When the results came back, I was in total shock. I had stage three ovarian cancer.

I was heartbroken and terrified all at the same time. I didn’t know what to do or where to turn. My life was shattered-a cancer diagnosis was the furthest thing from my mind, as to my knowledge, there was nothing like this in my family history. I had gone from being, what I thought, was a healthy woman one day, to a frightened and confused person with what could be a terminal disease. Not unlike most women, I didn’t know the signs or symptoms of ovarian cancer, nor did I know much about cancer itself.

Two major surgeries and nine cycles of chemotherapy later, I thanked God every day that my wonderful family, sincere friends and the devoted gynecologists at the H. Bliss Murphy Cancer Centre were there to support me through this difficult time in my life, because there was not doubt, both physically and mentally, it is devastating.

Four years later, in early 2014, my cancer returned. Emotionally shocked by the recurrence, I underwent an additional six months of treatment in the fight for my life.

Ovarian cancer is extremely hard to detect and my experience has made me realize that I can help other women by sharing my story. I want to do what I can to educate others about the facts, risks, signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer and raise funds to advance research into prevention and treatment here in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Bonnie’s initiative to promote awareness of ovarian cancer in NL, has spawned a new, exciting initiative: The Ovarian Cancer Research and Education Fund (OCRE), at Memorial University’s Faculty of Medicine. I am happy to report that I (Florence) will be a presenter at the first OCRE project, taking place on Saturday, September 23rd, “Ovarian Cancer Exposed”, a day of interesting sessions and informative lectures. See the poster below for more details.

To REGISTER FOR THE EVENT: CLICK HERE

To donate to OCRE: http://www.mun.ca/alumni/give/ Or call: 1-877-700-4081. (NOTE: Please specify that donations be directed to the Ovarian Cancer Research and Education Fund)

A Wine-Less Summer: Part 2

Part two of my booze-less chronicles found me in Gros Morne National park, with my lifelong friend, Lilly along with a new friend, Sarah. Heading out to a wine free girls weekend, I fully expected a somber mood to envelop us on our eight hour road trip to our cabin. But I could not have been more wrong! The fun started the minute we boarded the SUV, and by the time we arrived at Gros Morne, our throats were raw and sore from roars of laughter. Even though I had just met Sarah, after sharing our life stories while singing along to Blue Rodeo and Fleetwood Mac tunes, we soon felt like old friends.

Neither of my travel companions are big boozers, and Gros Morne is renowned for its beautiful scenery and hiking trails, as opposed to pubs and fancy restaurants, so I really did not miss the wine on this vacay. Besides, I soon found a suitable replacement to pubs: cafés! And I also found an enjoyable replacement for wine: coffee, aka, Christian Liquor. Each day, we would tour the scenic communities and visit the many craft shops and tourist attractions, which would culminate with a visit to a local coffee shop to ”liquor up” on coffee and a sweet. I have to say, the most delicious pecan pie I have ever tasted is served at the Old Shop Café in Norris Point. While I am no expert on pecan pies, Sarah is a bit of a connoisseur when it comes to sweets and even she said it is the best she had ever tasted. It was so good in fact, that she managed to stop eating it, mid slice, to save a bit for later.

“I hate to stop,” she said, “But I am beyond the point of optimal enjoyment. I am going to save the rest for later this evening, when I can really savor the experience.”

I admired her self discipline as I greedily devoured the last crumbs of my piece, washing it down with a gulp of café mocha and feeling fully rejuvenated by my sugar and caffeine buzz.

One of the highlights of the trip was our quest to see a large wild animal. The park is full of moose, bears, eagles, coyotes and foxes and on every drive, we were on the look out, phones poised to capture the image and broadcast it on Facebook. Finally, on our last day there while driving back to our cabin, we saw it, right in the middle of the dirt road.

“That’s a coyote, if I ever saw one!” I said in an excited voice. “Stop the car!!!”
Sarah pulled over and we grabbed our phones and switched them to camera mode.

“I can’t get a clear shot,” said Lilly. “Throw out some food to lure him over.”
“All we have is trail mix,” replied Sarah, as she threw a handful of pumpkin seeds and raisons out the car window.

To our delight, the coyote approached the car and started to nibble on our offerings. With his head down, it was difficult to get a good picture, and we really needed proof of this encounter. He soon tired of his hippy snack and was moving on.

“Quick”, I said, “Give him more food!”

“But all I have left is my half a slice of pecan pie, and I was saving that to have with my tea later,” said Sarah in a sheepish voice.

Although Sarah clearly did not want to part with her pecan pie, we convinced her to sacrifice it for this rare photo op. She opened the window half ways and held out the pie, but the coyote looked at her with such hungry eyes and razor-sharp teeth, that she chickened out and quickly closed the window. I mean really, her arm could have been bitten off, but I secretly suspected that the pie was more important to her than a limb at that moment. To our disappointment, the coyote started to retreat.

“Throw out the fucking pie, Sarah!” we encouraged her.

With her heart pounding, she opened the window and reluctantly threw out the pie, which the coyote quickly devoured, getting him close enough to the car to get great photos. Then, to our horror, we saw in the dim light of dusk, a woman approaching in the distance.

“Oh my God, we have to warn her. She will be eaten alive,” said Sarah, as she frantically honked the horn. The coyote was standing right in front of the car, and although we are all animal lovers, we were fully prepared to run over it if it came down to saving this woman’s life.

Strangely enough, the coyote started to wag its tail. We rolled the window down a crack to warn her that her life was in danger. Just then we heard her call, “Here Sasha! You naughty girl, you escaped your leash again. Come to mommy!”

Red faced, we drove away, our camera roll full of pictures of a friendly husky.
Who would have thunk that the most fun I would ever have on a girl’s trip, was had without even a sniff of wine!

 

A Wine-Less Summer

 

You may be wondering who highjacked my blog. Who is this Florence speaking of a summer without wine? But alas, it is really me. You see, because Tamoxifen (drug to prevent cancer recurrence) can affect liver functioning, I have to get my liver enzymes checked every 6 months. And on my last check, they were not quite right, so I was advised to take a break from booze. It is not easy, but as much as I love my wine, I love my life a lot more!

Being a voracious reader, the first thing I did was stock up on books written by women who have kicked the wine habit, such as This Naked Mind, by Annie Grace. She asserts that the reason we drink is because our unconscious minds are programmed to believe that wine will make us more sophisticated, make life more fun, and relieve our stress. We are programmed by advertising, social media and society in general to believe these things. Some other fallacies we are programmed to believe are: we drink for the taste; there are health benefits of drinking wine; and that drinking leads to better sex. She then systematically refutes each of these false beliefs, her premise being that if we attack the beliefs of the unconscious mind, we will lose our desire to drink.

Well, it is going to take me some time to convince myself that drinking is no fun, but she certainly has something with the whole brain programming thing, which I became acutely aware of as I headed out to Edmonton to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday with Steve. My mind was definitely programmed to associate vacation time with drinking time, but is it any wonder? From the time I picked up the Air Canada magazine, En Route from the seat pocket in front of me, my mind was bombarded with images of mature, sophisticated women wearing sexy, low cut dresses and savoring a glass of wine; younger, sportier types drinking beer in the great Canadian outdoors; and James-Bond-type men with fancy watches drinking hard liquor on the rocks. I have to give it to them, the alcohol industry sure does know how to make booze look attractive. When I ordered a tin of Pringles from the on-board café (I had to snigger at the term café), I was asked if I would like a glass of wine with that. It was 10:00 in the morning, and it might have been 5:00 somewhere, but certainly not anywhere in Canada! That said, I did notice with envy several of my fellow passengers crack a cold one. And that was just the beginning of my wine envy on that trip.

Picture it: it is a sweltering hot day, and you are walking down Whyte Avenue, the busiest and booziest street in Edmonton. The streets are closed off for a jazz festival, and on every corner you hear different strains of sexy, smouldering jazzy tunes. Colorful, half-clad people are all around you, dancing, drinking and laughing merrily. The air is perfumed with cigarette smoke, weed, and the aroma of street meat cooking. You are hot and thirsty so you pop into one of the many pubs offering an inviting, shady deck. You are passed a drink menu the size of Texas and a much, much smaller food menu, around the size of PEI, in comparison to the drink menu. There are at least fifty types of beer to choose from, and all around you people are quenching their thirst with a cold one. (Oh, and by the way, according to Annie Grace, that is another fallacy, since beer actually de-hydrates you). You ask for an Italian soda and the waitress looks at you as if you have three heads. So you settle for a Diet Coke, although all they have is fountain pop and you despise fountain pop. It takes forever to get your food, which you really wouldn’t mind if you were de-hydrating yourself with a cold beer. Your mind wrestles with the unconscious programmed belief that booze makes life more fun, because God-damn it, those beer-drinking fuckers look like they are having way more fun than you with your watered-down fountain pop!

That said, I truly enjoyed my trip to Edmonton, even without wine. Steve took me on many outdoor adventures, including bike riding the many scenic trails of the river valley, hiking, and exploring beautiful parks and gardens. We hung out in café’s as opposed to pubs and quenched our thirst with Italian sodas rather than beer and wine. While I sometimes miss my beloved wine, I have never felt healthier or more energetic. And so, it continues. I am journaling my experiences and who knows? Maybe this will be fodder for my next book. But meanwhile, keep your eyes open for Soul Steps: 52 Ways to Re-Connect with Spirit, due for release in the fall. Now go and enjoy this very large day!!!!

Check out my books HERE

 

Going Home

Have you heard the song,  Castle on the Hill, by Ed Sheeran?  It is a song about going home that really touches my heart.  I have actually been using that song to engage myself in a new form of therapy called Mindful Movement.  Well, maybe it is not new, but it is new to me.

I recently attended a national conference for psychologists and counsellors.  It was a fabulous event, with 550 attendees from all over the world.  One of my favorite sessions was called Mindful Movement, and I went, assuming that we would be doing yoga.  But instead, we danced. Had I known I would be dancing in a roomful of my colleagues without a drop of wine in me to loosen me up, I never would have signed up for the session. But this session was not about strutting your stuff, it was about releasing trauma, and not only did it work for me, but several of the people there reported an emotional release from just one session, which is pretty amazing to a psychologist like myself. So, I set out to investigate how the process works.

In a nutshell, the two sides of our brain work in very different ways.  The left side is logical and linguistic. It is the side we use for communication and where we store our verbal information.   The right side of the brain is our creative side.  It is our center for creativity, arts, music and imagination.  Think of a time that you experienced a trauma.   For me, being told that I had cancer was one of the most traumatic things I have ever experienced.  I can recall perfectly what the room looked like, what the doctor was wearing, and the look on my sister, Juana’s face when he said the word “cancer”.  But after that, I don’t recall another word. It was like I was listening to the teacher on Charlie Brown, “Whannn, whann, whannn…”  That is because I went into panic mode (also called fight or flight mode) and the left side of my brain shut down, making it impossible for me to store the words he was saying to me.  Where did the trauma get stored?  In the right side of my brain.  So just talking about my experience is not enough to release the trauma, I have to do something creative to tap into the cell memory of that trauma.  For me, dance works!

Give it a try!  Turn on a song that you like, close your eyes and just move in a way that you feel guided. Dance like there is nobody watching.   Let your emotions surface and just allow yourself to feel those healing feelings.  If you cry, that is ok.  It means it is working.  It is not important that you understand why you are feeling the way you feel.  It is just important that you allow yourself to experience the emotions.  Your spirit will take care of the rest.

This weekend, I literally had the experience of going home.   I spent the weekend in my beautiful home town of Lawn, just me and my parents. Although I am fifty, it is impossible to feel grown up when you have your parents taking care of you.  Dad: “That suitcase is too heavy for you, let me carry it,” he said as he laid down his cane.  Mom: “Now dear, if you are too tired to get up and turn off the light, just knock on the wall and I will come out and turn it off for you so you don’t have to get out of bed.” Yes, I felt just a little bit spoiled.  It made me feel so grateful to still have my parents with me, and still wanting to take care of me in that way.

I guess as you get older, you appreciate things that you once took for granted. The first time I took Steve to visit my parents, he was blown away that I grew up right next to a river with a beautiful water falls.  To me, it was just a brook, nothing impressive.  But now, I stand in awe of the power of those roaring water falls after a heavy rain.  Walking along Sandy Point, and seeing boats in the harbour was another sight that I took for granted.  Now I resemble a tourist, snapping selfies of myself using this beautiful scenery as a backdrop.

It is always nice to go home, however, there were two highlights to my weekend which I would like to mention.  One was praying the Rosary with my parents.  On Friday night, the three of us prayed together, but on Saturday, it was just me and my dad in the house. I think he assumed that since mom was not there, we would not pray.  I said, “Well Dad, I guess it is just me and you for the Rosary tonight.”  He jumped up off the couch and grabbed the Rosary beads with the same enthusiasm that I would have used to grab a wine glass. My parents pray together every evening, which is a beautiful thing.  I felt blessed and honored to be a part of their ritual.

On Saturday evening, I had a visit with my 96 year old grandmother, who is still as smart as a top and lives in her own home.  Pretty much every evening, my mother and her four sisters visit with Nan, and I felt honored to be a part of their daily tradition.  It was a simple evening of drinking tea, talking and laughing until my stomach hurt. (Aunt Alice could make the cats laugh!)   It made me kind of tear up as I watched each of these women, all in their sixties and seventies, tenderly kiss their mother good night.  Can you imagine being surrounded by that much love every evening?  My grandmother is truly blessed, as am I to be a part of the Kearney clan.

As I write this, it is a beautiful Sunday morning.  The sun is shining and the birds are singing as I sip my coffee and look out at the boats in the harbour.  Dad is getting ready for mass, and my mom is next door at Nan’s house, where she spent the night. The peace here is almost tangible.   Tomorrow I will head back to my busy city life, but I will carry with me these sweet memories of going home.