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archive for January 2010

what i didn’t know then

Friday, January 1st, 2010

It wasn’t my intention to go silent for the past week. Most people who have met me could tell you that intentional or not, silence is nearly impossible for me. Sinus infections have rendered use real butter and the whole house (the human members) incapacitated these several days. I haven’t eaten much of anything the last two weeks, so there isn’t a recipe tonight. Besides, you’re all too giggly on the bubbles right now to comprehend a recipe, right? At least, I hope you are all giggly and bubbly – it’s the end of a decade.

happy new year!

I’m going to approach this backwards and start with 2009, which was a pretty good year because it took me to new places both far and very close to home – not so much geographically as socially. I discovered people and communities which led to friends and opportunities. A recurring theme for me was finding those treasures (people, places, events) right under my nose where they have always been. My stitch-n-bitch crew is a diverse and ever-growing group of bad ass, caring, smart, and talented ladies who routinely provide laughs, amazing food, cocktails, support, and unconditional love. My food blogging buds reinforce daily the notion that friendship need not be diminished by distance. My key to the local community – a community I had largely neglected due to my cancer treatments the prior year – was placed in my hand by a bright and amiable young man I met at a community dinner in April. We met because we were both taking pictures of our food!

you can’t always know where the road may take you

What wasn’t new this year is how my longtime friends, families, Jeremy, and even Kaweah make me feel very fortunate every single day. And it’s fair to say that I have an amazingly caring and witty readership of this here blog. Thank you for putting up with me and my big mouth. Thank you for sharing your stories – some hilarious, some heartbreaking. Thank you for your knowledge and advice. Thank you for being a wonderful part of my life.

at the beginning

I began the decade in a low point – in graduate school at Cornell. I loved the people around me, but it was the unhappiest time of my life to date. By 2002, Jeremy, Kaweah and I were headed West, where my heart belongs.

on the coleman glacier

It felt as if my life had been on pause for six long years. Once back in California, it was as if someone had hit the “play” button. We were among friends, near mountains, in the West. Life was very good.

There are some things you just don’t expect to happen. I didn’t expect to leave this decade without my only sister. When she died, my world flipped on its head in ways I never could have imagined. In the months that followed, I learned a great deal about people and impossible situations. Some people are bound to disappoint you, while others will surprise you. Life is too short to be constantly disappointed.

the summit of mount baker

I often sought solace in the mountains and forests where I could be with Jeremy and my thoughts. I had switched to digital photography only two months after Kris had died and it was my one regret that I hadn’t taken more pictures of her. Somehow this translated into an obsession with capturing those beautiful sights around me. And that’s also the time I began blogging, for my sanity.

new zealand is full of soothing landscapes

On one of our trips to New Zealand, we met a young kayak guide who shared a Maori saying with us, “Stand where your heart is strongest.” Where is home? Jeremy and I would ask this of one another while watching for shooting stars in the Mojave desert – where is home? As the third year of his fellowship came to an end, Jeremy and I decided that instead of chasing postdocs and jobs all over the country, we’d pick quality of life first and take a gamble.

driving through vegas on the way to our new home

After much deliberation, we placed our chips on Boulder, Colorado and moved to a little mountain town nearby. Jeremy took a prize postdoc to Boulder and within a year accepted a faculty position – we were here to stay.

this is home

All my life, my education and employment had been science and engineering. I liked it, but I can’t tell you how much I admired the way people like Jeremy or my PhD advisor loved their research and excelled in their fields. It’s not enough to just love it (although it helps ease the pain), you’ve got to be damn good at it – and trust me when I say not every one is. It’s easy to have a misplaced obligation to a career path as more time is invested.

sometimes a spark is required

At the end of 2007, shortly after use real butter went public, there was a lump. And there were tests. And negative results. And more tests just to be safe, with assurances that it was highly unlikely to be anything serious… except it was breast cancer.

what we do is forge ahead

Jeremy was my sole caretaker aside from a terrific team of nurses and physicians, but we allowed a small group of loved ones to rally around us for moral support. They were wonderful. My treatment lasted the better part of 2008. It gave me time to scrutinize my life priorities while I maintained this blog and slogged through chemo then radiation.

getting outside kept me going

At the end of it all, I discovered a renewed appreciation for being normal and healthy. I had a heightened sense of the beautiful world around me when I walked through the mountains or looked to the sky. We never know what time we have, but I didn’t want to spend my life wondering if there was something I should have pursued.

the intersection of love and work

I came away with a desire to move in a different direction. I reevaluated my concepts of work and career allowing myself to shoot for creative goals that help me grow and learn. As one of my favorite physicists once said, “What do you care what other people think?” It’s liberating not to.

different perspective

The beginning and the end of this past decade have me standing in opposite places. Despite or perhaps because of the challenges, I find myself more centered than before. I’m living where I want to live and doing what I love. I have the best people in my life and I keep meeting more. I’m making the most of it. Happy new year to all of you. I wish you the very best.

time to grow