Saturday, April 25, 2009

It’s the color, not the size that matters: A Little Boobie Background

Dominick recently informed me that the Blue Footed Boobies might not be the best name for our Breast Cancer 3-Day team. "Mom," he said, "Booby means idiot, did you know that? You named your team the Blue Footed Idiots! You can't name yourselves that!"


I will admit, I have felt like an idiot in recent weeks. I have had many Dola-Days, when I had no choice but to smack myself upside the head over and over again for some sort of forty-something foolishness. I have laughed at myself, cringed at my ridiculousness, my forgetfulness, raged against the absolute demoralization of being haunted by all my old injuries--the creaky overused knees, the whiplashed neck, that old girl stiffness--just when I was starting to feel strong again. I have learned that we are not always rewarded for having good intentions.

I am a Used Bagge, after all. Rugby Goddess, perhaps, but no longer a Spring Chicken. And definitely, no doubts about it, a Blue Footed Booby.

Despite my best efforts at training wisely for the Breast Cancer 3-Day 60 mile Walk, I seem to have fallen into my old competitive mode, even calling it a "Race" a few times (oops! upside the head) and striving to temper my tendecy towards over-doing with doing just the right amount. Right now, I am a Swollen Footed Idiot, to be certain. Despite the rivulets of blue veins running this way and that across the barren plains of my feet, there is little blue in my feet today, just foolishness at thinking that I could walk so, so long, over hills and streams, crisscrossing town lines, jumping over railroad tracks, pumping past the stench of fresh fertilizer, feeling the rush of springtime envelop me in its crackling, resonant hum, and somehow manage to escape tender feet, sore knees, and a stipple of sunburn along the back edges of my tank. Blue Footed Booby, indeed.

Actually, I felt pretty darn tootin' good, after last Saturday's twelve miles. After all, thanks to some great tips from my marathon running Facebook friends, I prepared myself well, slathering on the unpetroleum jelly all over my cracked, blister-prone heels, in between my toes; slipping on two pair of socks that I bought for their supposed anti-blister powers; and packing the essentials: water, shot blocks, cell phone, camera, iPod. I hydrated well beforehand, made sure I had gone pee (critical!), and stretched out before I set out to chase the pavement du jour; after all, I've been training for months, alternating walking with interval running and hills, weight training, yoga, and I've learned a few things about my body, things I had quite forgotten.

Loudest lesson to date: my 43-year old body does not reward me with the same kind of results that my 23-year old body did.

Training inside on bad weather days at the NMH gym, where 17-year olds fly past me on the treadmill, continues to remind me that I am no longer a sprightly 17-year old myself. It's funny how majorly delusional I can be, though, whipping through rounds of steep hills and fast sprints on the treadmill, thinking I am fly, indeed, only to realize my silliness: that everyone around me is going so much faster, sweating so much less, and doing their calculus homework at the same time to boot, and it all comes crashing down around me, for a second, anyway, before I am able to scrape my ego off the floor and pump myself back up with some appropriate kickass music: Donna Summer's Bad Girls, Prince's Uptown, and Lipp's piece de resistance, Funkytown. It's tough, though to contain myself when one of those songs hits, and I have often thought that those high-tech treamills should add a dance-break option: press a button ("Get Down"), and in the middle of your 5K run or walk, the treadmill stops to offer you a platform for getting your funk out, mid-stride, complete with disco lights that illuminate the typically stodgy, unforgiving floor, and turn your dull-as-toast workout into a veritable Blue Footed Booby dance-walk feast.

This past Saturday, for the first ten miles anyway, I ended up forgoing my iPod for the symphonic sounds of spring that surrounded me: the flirty peepers; a pair of hawks, circling and calling out to each other; the tumbling brook; the chorus of birdsongs; the wind rushing through the trees; and the subtle, explosive quiet of spring's majestic return to life. If you listen carefully, you can hear the growth and burst of buds and blossoms, the strain upwards and outwards through earth, into sky, the opening inside out. Really.

This very rush of life is what sustained me last spring, pulling me from one surgery to the next, and surrounding my recovery in the simple promise and energy of spring's rebirth, the quintessential fresh start. I remember walking about our property, allowing myself to be drawn in to the unfurling fiddleheads, the unraveling buds just starting to peek out into the sunshine. It wasn't that I hadn't noticed it all before, but it seemed different. I didn't rush it. I made it a priority. And there was nothing extraneous about it; rather, it became an essential need, a kind of nourishment that I couldn't do without. I'd spend hours just standing on the edge of the old beaver pond in our back wetlands, listening to the echo and hum and trill of the frogs and birds, watching the light bouncing off water and tree limb, the clouds move across sky and water. And when my strength returned, and I was able to walk longer distances than just the lovely little amble up and down the dirt road just down the trail and over the stone wall from our house, there was something infinitely reassuring about being able to lose myself in the rhythms of the natural world, something that brought me back into myself, and into a sense of oneness with the awakening going on about, within me.

This spring, I again have found solace and strength in walking, in relaxing into the primal rhythms around me, in spending lots of time outside. My training has brought me back into myself and into the land (and I don't know if there is a big difference between the two, actually) in different ways, summoning my warrior girl, and spiritual earth mother, invoking my inner athlete, and, alas, my toughest critic--me. And as much as my walk-abouts have done to bolster my flagging spirit, there is a new set of reality to contend with: my knees are wrinkly, and no matter how much exercise I get, my skin is simply not getting any firmer. Damn, damn, bummer-damn.

I know, I know. I shouldn't be concerned with such nonsense. See? Blue-Footed Booby, indeed.

Wrinkly knees, of course, will not impede. Sore feet, perhaps. On the last two miles of my walk, the heat had peaked--near 90 degrees--and I switched on a disco-flavored playlist on my iPod to provide me with the necessary boost to make it up the final hill. Earth, Wind, and Fire. Chaka Kahn. Wild Cherry. Did I really used to scream DISCO SUCKS at junior high school dances? Well, I was lying. Disco, as it turns out, ROCKS. There's nothing quite like listening to Wild Cherry's Play that Funky Music to get your ass up a really steep hill after walking non stop for three hours in the blistering heat. Maybe that's the boobies' secret: an endless loop of classic funk and disco being played in their heads that allows them the energy and inspiration to get down on it with their own blue-footed funky style of dance-walking bravado.

Despite Dominick's concerns, I stand by my selection of our 3-Day team's name, The Blue Footed Boobies. Aside from the obvious booby-breast association, the choice of the name The Blue Footed Boobies for our Breast Cancer 3-Day team reflects a whole lot more than mere digression into elementary school (or Judd Apatow) humor. When my family and I spent time in the Galápagos Islands in the summer of 2006, we were struck by the amazing diversity and uniqueness of the animals there—not only were they unlike any other animals in the world, but each and every one of them offered up something truly remarkable. Whether entranced by the Dancing with the Stars-choreographed courtship dance of the waved albatross, the endearing playfulness and sense of fun of the Galápagos sea lions, or the immense, lumbering size of the ancient Galápagos tortoises and the nonpareil grace of the sea turtles, we were riveted by the Galapagos animals, particularly since they were unbelievably unafraid of humans, making it quite possible to commune with them up close. Their lack of fear afforded an astonishing intimacy that felt like a rare, sublime treat: we were able to really get to know the animals in a way we aren't ever allowed in the untamed wilds of New England. When do we ever get to hang out with black bears? Run through the meadows with fox and deer? Watch a mink tend to its young? Not only did we snorkel and swim and play with the Galapagos animals (but not, of course, touch them), we also watched them dance and mate, fix their nests, and tend their young, all typically strict, private operations of wild animal survival and adaptation that humans aren't usually allowed access to (for good reasons). Being able to observe them in their natural habitat for minutes on end, we marveled at the evolutionary forces and sprightly hand that must have shaped them. It was truly a Darwinian feast.
Not many were more impressive, memorable and lovable than the Blue Footed Booby, whom we were able to observe in many different places and poses in the Archipelago: catching some alone-time among the mangroves, nesting and taking care of their young on the barren cliffs of Espanola, congregating on the shelves of rock in a hidden cove, and flying and fishing in swarms above the open seas. At first, we were captivated by their outward appearance—with big blue feet anchoring smooth white bodies with brown wings, heads and necks flecked with brown, and yellow beady eyes sitting atop long, sharp beaks, they were unlike any other bird in book or birding experience. Soon, though, they impressed us with their flying and fishing ability (not to mention their mooning ability—and the accuracy with which they were able to crap on us from their guano-thrones along the rocky cliff shelves). Plus, their babies were adorable; oversized, covered with white fro-fluff, and stuffed-animal-squeeze-ready, they hung out in nests that seemed to teeter on the edge of cliffs, turning their big eyes to us as we passed. Hello. I’m a Boobie. I may not have blue feet yet, but just you wait. What are you?

What’s not to love? Boobies of the blue-footed variety are not just amazingly beautiful; they are tenacious, powerful, lovely fliers, divers, and hunters; loving, protective parents; and at the time of courtship, hilarious, super-fly dancers. Their name, of course, only adds to their appeal. In Latin, their name is quite lovely: sula nebouxii. Boobies belong to the order of Pelicaniforms, along with pelicans and their relatives, all delightful, whimsical birds of the highest standing. And in English? Well, there’s just something fun about saying Blue Footed Booby. Especially the Booby part. Booby!There is much speculation how the Blue-Footed Booby got its name. The first colonists who came across the fascinating bird may have been rash to call them “bobo,” Spanish for “stupid fellow,” but call them "bobo" they did, after watching them waddle about clumsily on land, completely unafraid of them, making them easy to catch (and eat, it would seem). And no doubt they were impressed with their blue feet. These misguided first impressions may have given them the unflattering name, but there are many who believe that the birds were graced with the name because of their bravery in the face of danger as well as their apparent lack of fear as far as humans were (and are) concerned. This makes more sense to me. I’d like to think that the name was bestowed as a term of endearment. Given how charming these birds are in real life, it’s hard to imagine that it was done in any other way.

Imagine a crop of your contemporaries running into a colony of dance-walking blue footed boobies during their courtship rituals, and you might get a different response. Blue-footed, yes. But Booby? According to the Urban Dictionary, that fascinating, alarming mix of slaughtered, refashioned words from the ever-evolving English language, a booby is “A species of seabird. Subspecies include the Blue-footed Booby.” Yes! Somehow, that definition garnered the top spot, right before numero dos: "Yeah, we all know: a woman’s jubbilies. Jubbilies? Man, I am so out of it. Somewhat hilariously, someone also posted a definition of a booby as “a wannabe gangster, one that is very retarted, another name for bobby, as in booby is my home dawg.” Funny, I’ve never heard Randy Dawg say that on American Idol. As for me, I couldn’t get past the “retarted.” Hello? Any brain cells left? As for the other definitions (yes, quite catastrophically, there were more), they made even less sense than the “retarted wannabe gangster bobby,” and were so riddled in misspellings and text lingo that I got a really bad headache just from reading the stuff.

It’s hard not to fall in love with the Boobies, wannabe gangsters that they are. When I first thought of doing the Breast Cancer 3-Day 60 mile walk, I immediately thought of the Boobies and chose the name for my team, intent to “have their spirit infuse the experience with the joy and strength and love they exhibit in their every step.” After all, the Blue Footed Boobies sleep at night (sometimes, it is rumored, in pink tent cities), feed during the day (every 3 miles, it is recommended, during their particularly long island-hoppers, to keep muscles well-fueled for the long haul), and often congregate in great numbers to hunt for fish in the open seas (or to walk monstrously long distances, because there’s no better way to ease your pain than to walk or fly with lots and lots of friends). Perfect! My fellow Blue Footed Boobies are my home dawgs!

Boobies, of course, are often described as being rather clumsy and slow on land, but we won’t let that bother us, since (Fly Girls that we are) will fly more than walk. Have you ever seen a Booby dance? Check it out here. Plus, when they take to the air, Blue Footed Boobies are beautiful, graceful fliers, with impressive wingspans of nearly 5 feet, which they put to good use when hunting for small fish in the seas off the coast of South America. They often feed in groups, and pity the poor schools of small fish that might be lurking just underwater. The boobies seemed perfectly adapted for their own extreme version of spear-fishing; able to fold their wings back and turn themselves into stream-lined, torpedo predators, they rocket downward at incredible speeds, a sharp-shooting pell-mell into the sea to snatch their prey with their long beaks. We witnessed just such a Booby Brigade one early morning in the Galápagos, when thousands of them gathered in the skies above to circle, wings outstretched and flapping noisily, just overhead, only inches away, and back again, to dive en masse for their breakfast, their bodies like missiles, their beaks like spear points drilling the water with a small, unadulterated zzzzip of a splash, times a thousand. It was amazing acoustically and visually, and we sat in our panga for a long time with mouths open, staring, heads swiveling to try to follow the hordes, trying to take it all in.

Boobies, it seems, have a keen sense of humor, as well as a well-developed playful, mischievous side. On the northwest region of Isabella, along the shelves of rock and layers of ash in Taugus Cove, where pirates of long ago hid out, counted their booty, and hauled off zillions of Galapagos tortoises for food, and where guano-collecting ship crews left ancient graffiti on the walls, sit hundreds of blue footed boobies, who seem to enjoy shooting off rounds of excrement at the tourists who come in their pangas to take pictures of the seemingly placid, cooperative birds. The tourists, of course, always come away with more than they bargained for. It reminded me a bit of being at the Atlanta Zoo, and watching a silverback gorilla grab handfuls of his poop and throw it at the horrified crowds who had come to ogle.

We’re planning on behaving ourselves (of course, the best laid plans often do go awry, and since we are wanna gangsters, there are no guarantees!), and since part of our training must include getting used to doing our business in porta potties during the three days of the walk (joy!), perhaps we should take our cues from the Boobies, and get used to forgoing the privacy around toileting we are used to.

One of the most enchanting things about the Blue Footed Booby is, of course, those blue feet! The blue, the color of the island sky, looks fashionista-fabulous next to the black volcanic rock of the islands, the brown cliff walls, and the deep henna-brown of its wings, and plays a central role in the blue footed booby mating ritual. As is the case of many bird species, females are usually a little bit bigger than the males, who in turn focus all their energy on trying to have the bluest feet ever! so they can, what else, attract a mate.

Boobies live and nest in colonies (again, think pink tent cities), filled with courting and mating pairs of males and females, new parents protecting eggs and young chicks, and fresh faced adolescent boobies at various stages of their development (ok, none of that is going to happen at the 3-Day camp, to be certain. It's all against the rules. And they are very strict about the rules.) Since boobies do not have a distinctively defined breeding season, their colonies play host to boobies of all ages, making for an often noisy, busy place on the high cliffs of the island.

The colony often boasts boisterous pairs of courting boobies, with the males doing everything in their power to show off their bright blue feet to the females, who will ultimately choose to mate with the male who has, you guessed it, not the biggest, but the bluest feet. The male waddles over to a certain female who has caught his eye (petite feet? nice gams? that special come-hither look?) and begins to showcase his blue feet by strutting about (well you can tell by the way I use my walk I’m a woman’s man, no time to talk), lifting his feet up quickly and then lowering them down slowly, over and over again in a crazy hormone-fueled dance, before joining with his chosen, now-swooning female in a courtship dance that will either make or break their union. In another move that clearly inspired Tony Manero, the pair points their bills upward in the air while the male spreads his wings and whistles. Once the hook-up has been secured, the male brings the female some nesting material as a final demonstration of his commitment. I’ll be there for you, baby, and I’ll be a good Daddy-o, too. Typically, females lay their small clutch of eggs in small depressions in the ground without much of a nest, so the gift of nesting material is pure symbolic gesture. But the males do indeed follow through on their promises, helping out by using their large blue feet to cover, warm, and protect the eggs. The females do the same, with each parent taking turns to ensure that their brood remains safe from harm.

The boobies take care of their hatched young for just the first couple of months, after which time a chick can, apparently, take care of itself. We witnessed many pairings of mother and chick on the rocky cliffs of Espanola Island. The chicks are covered in hilarious and copious white fluff, which makes them look bigger than Mom. The chicks instinctively know to stay close to the nest. Boobie parents will not retrieve a chick who strays, so don’t go chasing waterfalls, and please stick to the rivers and the lakes that you’re used to…

Boobies can live 17 years in the wild. And domesticated boobies? Who knows. Fortunately, it hasn’t been attempted. Until now. I’m planning on returning to the wild sometime soon; I’ve spent far too much time cloaked in the promise of domesticated bliss, and am in need of a little adventure. Blue footed boobies have been known to stray off course and find themselves far, far away from home. In the summer of 2006, a lone blue-footed booby was spotted in Skagit County, in Washington state, and attracted quite a lot of attention. Must have chased a waterfall.

It’s no wonder the Blue-Footed Booby has made its way into the hearts of millions—and to the number five spot (after the polar bear, tiger, snow leopard, and panda) in the Top 5 Animals Adopted in the World Wildlife Fund Online Adoption Center. Boobies are the bomb. Wouldn't you like to be a Booby too?

The Blue Footed Boobies are looking for a few good males…with striking blue feet, of course…and females, too, to join us to walk in the Breast Cancer 3-Day, this July 24-26 in Boston. The Blue Footed Boobies will be walking for our girls, and yours, and all those girls grown and gone and those not even sprouted yet. The Blue Footed Boobies will be walking for boobies everywhere!

With a little luck, our feet will hold up on the hot, Boston pavement as well as the boobies’ feet hold up on the hot, crusty, sharp volcanic rock of the Galápagos Islands. I have no doubts that the current crop of Boobies--myself, my mother, Angie, Ursula, and Jeanne--will kick 3-Day butt, raise a whole lot of money for the Susan G. Komen for the Cure, and do ourselves proud. We might be the Boobies Five now, but we'd love to expand our colony, add some wannabe gangsters to the mix, a few more home dawgs, a handful of bobos. And it sure would be nice to have an even number of Boobies so the tenting thing works out a little more easily. Boobies Ten? Now, that has a nice ring to it. So, please--think about joining us! And if you're not able to don your blue feet and walk with us, please consider making a donation to help us go beyond our team goal. Adopt a Blue Footed Booby today!

To Boobies everywhere,
Blue Footed, Bionic, Nursing, or Not,
I give you the Boobie salute:
Wherever you are in the world,
Take good care of yourself,
And take good care of your girls!

XX, Liz

Friday, April 3, 2009

The Blue Footed Boobies: Walking for Boobies Everywhere!

Me thinks that the moment my legs begin to move, my thoughts begin to flow.
~Henry David Thoreau

April 3, 2009

Dear friends and family,

I trust you are all enjoying these first miraculous bursts of springtime sunshine and warmth, and are doing well. It seems amazing and wonderful to me that winter has lovingly loosened its grip so that spring may unravel and unwind before us once again; just yesterday, I was walking at dusk, awash in the colors of the fading sun, and now and then the deafening, vibrational song of the peepers surrounded me with the pulse of earth‘s ebullient verve, and I returned home glad for the fact that this spring, there are no limits to what I can do, that I can swirl and dance and take all this new life in, rake the dead winter leaves out of my garden, spread some new seeds into the ground, and run with the wind through the ripening trees.

Just two weeks ago, on March 24, I observed the one-year anniversary of my mastectomy, the day they cut the cancer out, tested my nodes, began reconstruction, and delivered some pretty good news: they had gotten it all. On the outside, this March 24th was a day like any other, caught in the rush ‘n go of my daily grind like a twig stuck in a spoke on a bicycle wheel, but inside, I was feeling the year, with all its tremulous highs and bungee-cord lows, wash over me in hushed, breathy waves. I felt the whoosh of where I’d been, the cold fingers of fear tapping me on the shoulder, the rush of love and warmth that brought me here, and the stark loneliness of the landscape stretched out before me. I was grateful for the reminder of how far I‘ve come, how much I have to be thankful for, how lucky I’ve been. You’ve all been a huge part of this continuing journey, and I write to ask for your support again.

As some of you may know, I'm currently training to walk in the Breast Cancer 3-Day, a 60 mile walk over three days in Boston, this coming July 24-26. Last December, after much torturous Libran consideration, I decided that life was too damn short to worry about my gimpy knee, or any other of my ailing Rugby Goddess body parts, that I was, quite simply, good enough to put my Used Baggage to the test and register already. Training has been exhilarating, a clear testament to the power and inspiration to be found in raising the bar and working together to chase down a goal that benefits the greater good, a marriage between Nike's Just Do It and Obama's Yes We Can campaigns. I feel honored and privileged to have this opportunity to give back, and in return, enjoy the rewards of extending my reconstruction to body, soul and spirit.

I am walking as Captain of The Blue Footed Boobies, a team of inspired women who have come together to conquer each and every mile and raise money for the Susan G. Komen for the Cure, which has, to this date delivered close to 1.2 billion dollars to fund research, awareness, education, screening, treatment, and support programs, making it the largest source of nonprofit funds dedicated to the fight against breast cancer in the world. What’s better yet is that the financial support is backed by the largest grassroots network of breast cancer survivors and activists all “fighting to save lives, empower people, ensure quality care for all and energize science to find the cures.” Since every major advance in the fight against breast cancer over the last 27 years has been impacted by a Susan G. Komen for the Cure grant, every facet of my own personal journey has, in turn, been touched by a Komen grant, making every step easier, lighter, smoother.

It is my hope that all women diagnosed with breast cancer feel as supported as I have been--by friends and family who took me by the hand and led me through the darkness and into the light, by the excellent doctors who put me back together, and by the untold numbers of researchers, nurses, doctors, philanthropists and regular folk who continue to work tirelessly behind the scenes and on the frontlines to ensure that all women have the best possible chance at not just making a full, comfortable recovery from breast cancer, but at enjoying many years of being able to live life to the fullest. Can you help me?

Each walker in the 3-Day is responsible for raising at least $2300. Thanks to the generosity of a handful of friends and family members, I am close to meeting my minimum, but I know together we can, and should, do a whole lot better. I would like very much to be able to raise enough money to support other walkers and team members who might not have the fundraising resources that I have.

There are many ways you can support The Blue Footed Boobies in our 3-Day efforts.

  • Make a donation. It’s easy! To give on-line, simply click on this link This will take you to my page on the 3-day site, where you can donate on-line. OR, if I have already cleared my minimum goal, please consider either donating to one of my teammates who may have not yet reached her goal, or mailing a check (made out to the Breast Cancer 3-Day) to me at 385 Main Road, Gill, MA 01354. This way, I can distribute the money to other teammates and walkers in need. All money raised goes to the same place, and helps The Blue Footed Boobies meet our team goal as well.
  • Walk with us! We are looking for teammates! My good friend Angie Murphy was the first to join me; my mother, who, at age 69 and with two artificial hips, has just recently signed on as a walker, demonstrating a firebrand of moxie that could only have come from her mother, the irrepressible Kay Reed. (With my ultra-fab new left girl, the Blue Footed Boobies could very well be renamed the Bionic Boobies.) There are several others waiting to take the plunge. I'd like to say: Go for it! The walk is rigorous to be certain, but it is also a great opportunity to set some personal goals and get in shape, embark on a real team expedition, and be a part of something truly inspirational.
  • Serve on the 3-Day Crew. They need all kinds of help, including medical professionals. Check out the 3-day site for more information. This is a huge piece of their success--and crewbies are the reason why we walkers don’t have to carry our packs, cook our own meals, or worry about getting ourselves to the ER if something should go awry (though my biggest fear is getting lost and not being able to find my tent on my way back from the porta potties at night, eek!).
  • Help me train! I am looking for walking partners, and additionally, people who want to ride or cross-train with me on my off days. I am always in need of encouragement, deep tissue work, and advice regarding blisters, workout gear, and the very best yoga positions for stretching those walking muscles. Plus, if you have any music in your collection that you think might be perfect for walking to, feel free to burn me a cd, and I’ll do the same for you. And, if you should find me on your doorstep one of these days, I’d appreciate it if you’d let me in so I could use your potty.

I consider myself very lucky to be able to continue to rebuild spirit and body through my training, to be able to give back, to quite simply be here now--exulting in the coming springtides, and nursing my first big blister. Truly, as much as luck is relative, I’ve been lucky from the get-go, and that has not been lost on me. My cancer was caught early, all my surgeries went without complication, and I was able to bypass the dreaded chemo. Most importantly, I was able to activate a large, wonderful network of friends and family, who have blessed me with support of many kinds: steering me through the labyrinthine jungle of breast cancer treatment options, and sending a steady supply of encouragement, dark chocolate, and love in the form of good healing Juju that still courses through my veins. With your help, I was able to assemble a team of the best breast cancer docs around, who carefully disassembled me and put me back together with tender loving care. My girls are doing well; my left girl received her finishing touch—a tattoo to restore some semblance of nipple and areola color—this past January and is settling into what she hopes will be a long, healthy retirement. And despite the nodules that have appeared on my thyroid, the hot flashes that have dismantled my memory, and the changes that have upended my moon cycles, I have fared fairly well on my first year of Tamoxifen (really!). And my boys are doing well, too. Luke will start at Northfield Mount Hermon next year as a freshman, and Dominick will begin his fifth grade year of home schooling with me. Over and over again, I am stunned by the speed at which my children are growing up. I am reminded often to cherish this time with them, that there will be more time for me later, that the wheels on this time-thingamajig spin way too fast.

And, as I train for the Breast Cancer 3-day, feeling my legs regain their strength and speed, my lungs expand and fill with each step, I am acutely aware of how lucky I am to be a player again. Life is not a spectator sport, after all. I am happily engaged in the ongoing process of learning how to best take care of myself, just part of the bumper crop of new lessons that were seeded long ago and that will undoubtedly continue to come to fruition as part of my ongoing journey: that it is in the reaching out that we receive what we need; that we should not wait to be cradling our own mortality in our arms before breaking free from the tethers of fear and shame and self-doubt and plunging ourselves into the deep languid pools of life’s richest waters; that it is within our interconnectedness that we find our comfort and strength, our grace and divine humor; that the best possible way I know to live my life is to try to find the bits of joy, no matter how tiny, in each and every day, and to share that joy with the world around me, and infuse our collective spirit with compassion and positive energy; and that we all have our dark days, when our inspiration whispers and rages from the deep, dark wells within, creativity flies in the face of our most spirited muse, and forgiveness chases away the demons.

I hope you’ll join me in supporting the Breast Cancer 3-Day. At a time when government funding is being redirected to try to stimulate our struggling economy, it is more critical than ever to work together to make sure organizations like Susan G. Komen for the Cure remain fully supported. And remember: The Blue Footed Boobies walk for all of you who have been touched by breast cancer: for you, for your mothers, grandmothers, sisters, aunts, and most especially, for your daughters. We walk for boobies everywhere!

I look forward to hearing from you, getting caught up, and having the chance to convince you to join the Boobies (!). Please take note of my new email address at (not to be confused with zilrendrag, that spammer from Zimbabwe, over at

I send you love and light and all good things. Be well. XO, Liz