29 December 2007

I Have A Crush ...

... on a dying man.

Randy Pausch was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in September, 2006. After surgery, chemo and radiation, he found out that his cancer had returned in August 2007. He's posted full details of his story on his website.

I've never met Randy in person, but I've spent a few hours in his company. On September 18, Randy gave a lecture at Carnegie-Mellon as part of their Journeys Lecture Series. On November 28, Randy gave another lecture -- this time at the University of Virginia School of Engineering. I've watched both videos a couple of times and have been amazed by Professor Pausch's intelligence, his courage, his humor, and his grace. I'm not sure that I would face the same circumstance in the same way he is. I think I'd be more whiny.

His first lecture is about dreams -- how he accomplished his childhood dreams and how he's helped other people accomplish theirs. It's inspiring, funny and interesting. The second lecture is on Time Management. Borrowed heavily from The One Minute Manager and Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, this lecture is full of practical advice for managing your time more effectively. Randy jokes at the beginning of the lecture that he has the right to talk about time management, since he has so little time left to manage.

Watch the videos and be inspired (and touched) yourself.

(Thanks so much to Jillian for turning me on to Randy's story.)

24 December 2007

Happy Holiday!

Just a brief post to wish you all a happy holiday, however you celebrate it. May you be surrounded by loved ones and get lots of neat prezzies!

12 December 2007

Jil Jensen Winters

The world is a less beautiful place now.

On 07 December, 2007, Jil Jensen Winters made her transition. You'll notice in her obituary that she was a psychotherapist; she was mine. She stood with me, as a magnificent witness to the unfolding of my personal story. She just sat with me in my grief, not offering words of comfort, when there was no comfort to be had. She just sat there; she was present, sometimes the greatest comfort a person can offer. Jil laughed with me whenever there was a reason, but she never laughed at me. She celebrated with me, and often for me, when I couldn't find cause -- or more likely, the emotional energy -- to celebrate myself. We were together for over three years and had a deep affection for one another. We occasionally talked about the unusual therapeutic dynamic between us; had we met under any other circumstances, we would have been the closest of friends. We talked about how unfair it was, for both of us, that she got to know me, deeply, and I didn't really get to know her.

But I realize now that I did know her. I may not have known that her middle name was Maree, or that she, too, had lost a brother, but I knew who she was. I knew that she was a woman of deep faith and a woman who loved -- who cherished, who treasured -- her family. I was surprised to read that her oldest children were her step-children; she never referred to them as such. To her, they were nothing less than her son -- her soldier -- and her daughter. I knew that she loved her husband, deeply. In fact, I hoped to sustain my excitement about my husband as well as she had sustained hers. Once, I asked her how long she'd be married and she replied, "It doesn't matter." I took that to mean that it didn't matter how long they'd been married, but how well they'd been married.

I've experienced those eyes, locking on mine. She didn't stare, she observed. She made eye contact. Sometimes, she would just look at me, really look at me, no words. It wasn't awkward; it was actually very comforting. I was being taken in. And the hugs! Oh! Those hugs! They weren't just cursory pats on the back. She was really present, as I always knew her to be.

The last few times we met, we talked about my involvement in the 37days project. That led to conversation about the concept behind the 37days website. In a nutshell: What would you be doing if you had 37 days to live? Of course, I did most of the talking; Jil did most of the listening. We agreed that our lives should be lived with intention and deliberation, that they should be lived "on purpose". Jil celebrated with me, as I had an art moment that was the kind of profound experience I had always hoped that art would be for me. She counted my blessings with me. She helped me find my joy. I saw that, should I be living in my 37 days, I was happy. Ironically, she was living in hers.

I am so proud to have known, to have loved, this magnificent woman, and to have been known and loved by her. She was passionate about her work and she loved her patients. She said we taught her so much. I feel humbled by that, as I have learned so much from her. Although I don't feel particularly strong right now, I am stronger for having worked with her. I know more about my illness, about its dynamics. I'm not so afraid of someday being hospitalized (though, of course, I hope it never comes to that); Jil's told me so many stories of working in the hospital, that it's not a scary place anymore. She's done so much to make me more comfortable with my illness, without becoming a label. For that, and so much more, I'm grateful.

Yes, the world is a less beautiful place right now, without Jil ... although she wouldn't want me to see it that way.

10 December 2007

Something to be Thankful For

I've gotten my days and my nights mixed up again -- something I do frequently. To keep myself busy last night, I made gratitude journals. They came together very quickly, and were fun to make. I made two; one for me and one for a friend. Tonight, I'm working on two more. Hopefully, I'll be sleeping some tonight, though!

08 December 2007

Images Are Back!

I think my image problem has been solved. I had to re-upload (is that even a word?) all of my images to the blogger servers. That meant deleting the old code and then uploading each image again, one by one. Some of my earlier posts were quite image intensive, so it got rather tiring. If you run across a post where the images don't work, please leave a comment and let me know, so I can fix it. Thank you.

Panera Bread

Just got home from dinner and a little grocery shopping. John and I ate dinner at the new Panera Bread in Redlands over by Albertson's. I had the Orchard Harvest Salad - half portion with a bowl of French Onion Soup. John had an Italian Combo Sandwich. We both had the rather pedestrian soft drink to go with our meals. The food was yummy and the decor was nice, although some of the art was a bit silly. It all had a bread theme. There was a Stonehenge made of bread painting, and a baker juggling several pieces of bread while riding a unicycle. Like I said, some of it was silly. We were both full, so neither of us had dessert, but we did stop and look at the bakery when we were done eating. The Caramel Pecan Brownie looked pretty tempting, as did the Very Chocolate Brownie. The small breakfast menu and bagel selection sounds good, too.

07 December 2007

Disappearing Pictures!

I know my images have disappeared. I'm migrating my blog from godaddy to blogger and having some issues. Please bare with me until I get things straightened out. Thanks!

Great Site For Collage Artists And Altered Art Fiends!

Lisa hosts a "countdown" during most of the major holidays, offering a different downloadable image each day of a holiday season. Christmas is no different! Drop by the Christmas Countdown page and see what goodies she has to offer. But hurry, because these images won't last long.