Nashville or Bust

The trip that started a longer journey

Happy Sinko-de-Maya!

 

You can keep your ‘May the Fourth be with you’ memes. Today, and everyday, it’s Sinko-de-Maya around here.

This cat. And that chair. And the divot to end all divots. It doesn’t matter when you pass by, she’s there. Working hard. Oh, to have that singular focus for 80% of every day.

You may think we don’t see you, but we do. Such a strange little beast.

We love you, Maya. Happy Day.

 

 

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May 5, 2017 Posted by | Everyday | 1 Comment

Higher Enlightenment

I’m traveling today on business. And while I have a lot of work I could/should be doing while flying, cramped quarters on planes don’t allow for much client confidentiality.

So, I always turn to this little guy:

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Ironically — or not — these were some of the passages that came up during my first flight. I wasn’t flipping through the book and cherry-picking chapters. Just reading in a natural sequence…

The gentleman next to me gave me a quizzical look as I took these photo grabs. Hopefully he got something out of these bits, too.

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A few pages later…

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To quote my friend Terry, “I choose joy.” And, I’m looking for ways to bring more joy and peace into my bit of the world starting with those closest to me. These are turbulent days. Remember, we’re all human and we’re all in this together.

Happy travels. ~Jacqui

 

October 10, 2016 Posted by | Everyday | 1 Comment

The Picture Anniversary

Today is October 6 — our 26th.

Fittingly, on what we’ve come to know as #TBT, it is the picture anniversary. So here’s one we stumbled upon this spring while compiling James’ grad video…

circa December 1996

circa December 1996

 

A silly, random shot. Our first house. Brandon’s 4th birthday. If memory serves, he took it. We were just kids… I love to remember that. When we started out, we truly were kids. We didn’t know much except there was something in each other that was needed to make our our lives and worlds complete. Not always perfect, but complete. Wouldn’t want it any other way.

Flash forward a few decades and yeah… things haven’t changed much. We’re still two goofy kids making a go of things in this crazy world.

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The picture anniversary also brings to mind one of my favorite Guy Clark Songs. So here is another flashback… Americana 2012.

I need to pour a certain Mister the first cup of coffee while you enjoy Guy. Love to all who love us. Love to all who love. *click*

October 6, 2016 Posted by | Everyday | Leave a comment

Travelers, Poets, Merchants and Thieves

Confession. I like to explore astrology and nature’s energy every now and then. Some of my earliest memories include scouring the daily paper, Sunday’s Parade Magazine or the back of T.V. Guide for Jean Dixon’s column. I’m not a hardcore purveyor of the mystic and metaphysical, but friends will tell you I always keep an eye on the moon. (It’s waning, by the way. New Moon next Friday!)

When I realized that Mercury was headed into Retrograde on August 30, I decided to tune into the 22-day period so many people dread with a dedicated sense of awareness. Perhaps in doing so, I wouldn’t be broadsided by the backward motion. When the crux of what you do is project manage all day, a bad run of misinterpreted emails and calls layered with scheduling mishaps is mis-er-y .

My embrace of the period included grounding myself. Kyanite helps (thank you Dennis, Rainie and Crystal Guy Gene for opening me up to this) so my dangles were as essential everyday as my toothbrush and glasses. I observed more and meditated. Being mindful in this way curbed my natural instincts to control and drive the state of things. I began to figure out how to allow situations to evolve and resolve without my overt meddling. That felt good.

Small things I treasure: Blue Kyanite from The Crystal Guy, orange Kyanite from sweet friends, Dennis and Rainie, earrings designed by Teresa Yee.

Small things I treasure: blue Kyanite from The Crystal Guy, orange Kyanite from sweet friends, Dennis and Rainie, earrings designed by Teresa Yee.

 

All in all, the period came and went without too much interference in my personal day-to-day. Sure,there were a few moments where it seemed like everything was Babylon. You didn’t have to look too far to see blatant and sad examples of miscommunication. But I think the bigger thing to take away from this is what you can do when you see all the disconnect around you: How to react, and to that, in a constructive way. How to bring comfort. How to reflect. How to stage yourself to be a positive catalyst. The god of travelers, poets, merchants and thieves will always get the itch to rule a span of our days with whimsical mischief. Its in learning how to sing and play with him that we might find great energy to do new things. ~ Jacqui

Heard the term Mercury in Retrograde but not sure what it means? This little summary from Farmer’s Almanac is a good place to start. There’s one more in 2016 — just in time for the holidays. Joy!

September 24, 2016 Posted by | Everyday | Leave a comment

Day +364: Liberation

I’ve written before about anniversaries and looking back. It’s one of the things we humans do. The completion of a revolution is a catalyst. Oh, how we can latch on to the moment, wax on and reminisce! It’s easy to get lost in our own spin.

As I sit here and write this post — which on one level seems a bit obligatory — I realize that where I thought I’d be after this whole experience is not where I currently am. It’s a tough one to reconcile.

A year ago was transplant day. As surreal as that experience was, it seems small when compared to so many other things in our micro and macro worlds. Through a day of transfusion in which there was a mystery cake, weird science and references to James Brown, I got my best friend back, our children regained their sense of security and the misaligned puzzle piece that represented our collective eventually settled. We resumed our roles and functions. We had a lot of fun. We slipped back into old habits. All good. Some bad. Life, right?

Hyper-reflecting on the 8,736 hours between one September 9 and the next — and isolating myself in the process — I’d like to say the witness of this experience helped develop a better ability to be present. I could then twirl, fling glitter into the air and share with everyone the joy of everything, like say, dirt. Life altering moments, including the vicarious ones, are supposed to have that sort of result. Both Hallmark and the Internet say so.

But as I honestly reflect, I see that for me it did not. Lord knows I squandered more than I should have this year, especially when reminded again that living is so very unpredictable.

What held me back? Simply put, status quo. The rush to get back to ‘normal.’ The desire to experience ‘uneventful.’ The need to uphold ‘responsibility.’ Instead of looking up and living out I retreated into the daily grind.

Damn, that’s a shame. Even the rough parts of the shared journey serve up shinny pebbles. Somehow I managed to cruise right by and miss this one. I left dare on the road and ran straight to safe.

Day +364. It is over. Dave is great, ahead of the curve in so many ways. His doctor has given him the next set of orders including, and most passionately stated, “forget you even had this transplant.” Go. Live. Be. Free.

That applies to me, too. It is time to be open and free. The memory of that day itself does not bring me joy so I am releasing it. What does bring me happiness and grounding is the result of that day and the fact that it is tangible in my here and now. Continuing to squander that would be a sin.

So, I put this out there and most appropriately feel gratitude for everything Dave and I — as a couple and as individuals — have received through this passage. It’s time to get up and dance. ~ Jacqui

September 9, 2016 Posted by | Dave, Everyday | 1 Comment

Day +170 (Well, the morning after…)

Yesterday, February 26, was Dave’s 170th day post transplant.

I could post a picture of what transplant day looked like, but I won’t. It’s more important to see what day +170 was.

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Pike 27, Woodward Theatre; Photo Credit: ORU Media

This post is about these men. And friendship. And the ways we all are connected.

The night was loud — a good, crashing loud. No one cried (thanks JN for celebrating that for us!) and without having to draw too much attention to it, the passage was felt. The fog and ice and crud on the window was swiped. Sure there was residue around the perimeter, but the center was wide open and clear. Raw and transparent. The darkness that shrouded was purposeful. It allowed for the electricity to spark and carry the room. On a cold night, people were sweaty.

These fab four re-entered a very sacred space together, connected, created and reaffirmed for all of us what it means to have each other. You can do things alone and there are times that you simply have to do just that. But when you have your brothers-in-arms at your side — not your wife, not your kids, not your parents, not your siblings —  but those people whom you and the fates allow to be a part of your life for reasons both unknown and not, you realize that there is something really incredible — and most times indescribable — about simply being alive.

On stage, they were four grown men each with their grown-up personas and lives. But they were also breathing, thriving reminders of their younger selves — zealous, open, quasi-rebellious teens taking part in the cathartic release and empowerment that is rock n’ roll. We were witness to the moment and to an extent participated. But theirs was a crucible that was magical for them.

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Dave Purcell, Pike 27; Photo Credit: ORU Media

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Sean Rhiney, Pike 27; Photo Credit: ORU Media

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Mike Fair, Pike 27; Photo Credit: ORU Media

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Dave Killen, Pike 27; Photo Credit: ORU Media

 

I realized this morning that not one picture was taken of Dave and I together last night, and honestly, I find that incredibly fitting. This was his to have with his mates. Watching him have it was perfect. ~Jacqui

February 27, 2016 Posted by | Dave, Everyday | 1 Comment

Twisted Santa

Brandon is finally home so tonight we were able to finish our gift exchange for the holiday. After the flurry of paper, there stood one last box. It was from Santa. The note simply said: “When the three of you are finally together, gather around the final box and open it. You’ll have to work with it a but the surprise will ultimately be revealed.”

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As Brandon aptly put it, “Son of a Nutcracker.”

Out spilled 256 puzzle pieces. The table was cleared and the three got to work.

For close to an hour, they twisted and turned pieces, wiggling them into place without any sort of guide. The grumbles were priceless. We tried hard not to laugh or help. Do you know how much fun it is to watch people work a puzzle without any sort of prompt? For once, some assembly required was all in their court. Oh, the JOY!

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The picture finally came into focus and their expressions: priceless.

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This summer, we’re off to the Pigeon River to do something we’ve never done before. We can hardly wait. TOWANDA! ~ Jacqui

 

 

 

December 26, 2015 Posted by | Everyday | 4 Comments

Day +60: Hope Gets You Through the Night

“Words are tears that have been written down. Tears are words that need to be shed. Without them, joy loses all its brilliance and sadness has no end. ” — Paulo Coelho, Aleph

Since reporting on Maya two weeks ago, we have shed both happy and sad tears. It has been a jumble of days and I think I can finally write some of this down.

Our reunion with Maya was a happy one. We prepared ourselves for life different and were grateful that she was once again home. We all took turns sleeping with her in the spare room and helping her readjust to life Killen style. If felt good to hear her purr. She had gone through the ringer. Hospital stays are no fun.

After being home for a few days and thinking the worst was behind us, we noticed some new changes in her. She was having even more trouble moving. She wasn’t eating that much. Then she stopped drinking and became jaundiced. That part seemed to happen very quickly.  We did some reading and really thought it was the anticonvulsant medication as some of these things could be side effects. Bolstered by friends mentioning that sometimes these sort of meds need to be adjusted, we brought her back to the animal hospital for a check-in and some help. Because she was dehydrated, Maya needed to be admitted and back on an I.V. More tests were ordered. We waited. Why is it never easy?

During one consultation last week, her condition became even more curious. Her vet was still trying to determine if there was some sort of cancer in the background that was triggering things. Ironically, the word ‘lymphoma’ was mentioned. The seizures of two weeks prior and her present situation weren’t necessarily connecting. Without a spinal tap and CT it was hard to say. Regardless, what became apparent after the new battery of tests was this: Maya’s levels were dramatically different and her immune system was under siege. Her red blood cell count was  very low — thus the anemia and the weakness in her hind quarter. Her bilirubin count was off the chart — thus the jaundice. Together, she was caught in a hemolytic process through which her red blood cells were being attacked and destroyed. She was put on prednisone to help her red blood cells stabilize and more tests were conducted on her liver. Once again, we had to wait and see.

These conversations with the vet were not easy. Too many familiar words and numbers. I started to wonder why this was happening… why was Maya carrying the brunt of all of this? What was Maya trying to take away? She come into our life at a particular time. All of this was happening at another particular time. Bookends. On one level it sounded like crazy talk in my head but on so many others, it made sense. Profound. Beautiful. But riddled with grief all the same.

Last night we spoke to the veterinarian again. The prednisone seemed to be doing something as her red blood cell count was up. However, even with appetite stimulants, Maya wasn’t eating. Because her body had gone into starvation mode, fat was being stored in her liver. Humans and dogs can go for periods of times without food as long as they have fluids to sustain them. Cats unfortunately cannot.

Brandon happened to be home and I was so grateful because he patiently translated all the medical jargon around hepatic lipidosis to us and with great care, to James and Tessa. Through many tears we decided to bring Maya home. We didn’t want her to be alone.

It’s been almost 24 hours. She’s drinking water and has taken some of the nutrition we have been offering her. I just don’t know if it is enough. So we wait. And try. And write. And cry. And hang on. We’re all feeling that awful type of hurt because reality says things don’t look great. But we’re also hanging on to that little sliver of hope because it is there. And that is what will get us through. ~Jacqui

November 8. Maya hanging out in a sunny patch: nature's bilirubin light.

November 8. Maya hanging out in a sunny patch: nature’s bilirubin light.

 

November 8, 2015 Posted by | Everyday | 1 Comment

Day +34: Moving On

Finish line selfie. Blood Cancer Center, Jewish/Mercy Hospital, October 13, 2015.

Finish line selfie.
Blood Cancer Center, Jewish/Mercy Hospital, October 13, 2015.

We broke the news in an obscure way on Facebook and in text messages to family. A black picture of nothingness entitled “Dave’s new self portrait.”

The news was received with a few vague replies and comments in return. And then, it dawned on people what we were trying to say.

Black is the new YES! Black is the new GOOD! Black is the new NORMAL!

The PET scan results came in today and they were as dark and black as Mammoth Cave. Nothing lit up on the scan because there was no cancer in Dave’s body to light up the images. No whammies. Not even one.

Definitely a different picture than what was recorded on May 29 when numerous spots glowed and flickered. It’s a pretty wild delta in a space of only 137 days.

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Thanks, Jim for the clutch find. Had to use this meme!

So what exactly does this mean?

Well, first and foremost, Dave is officially back in remission. The rounds of RICE followed by the scorching week of BEAM followed by the stem cell transplant officially kicked the recurrence of Lymphoma out of his system and restored his being. Since transplant and those tepid early + days, his counts have risen and continue to move into the accepted range. And while he still needs to protect himself and take precautions, he doesn’t need to be a complete hermit. He can get out and about a bit more. He can loosen up on the diet restrictions a bit. He can get back to doing the things he likes to do and living the way he likes to live.

There will be days when his energy is low and there will be monitoring, certainly. Heck, there has been some form of monitoring since 2010. But I don’t think we are going to have the super-steeped moments of anxiety (or, as our friend Kevin likes to say, ‘scanxiety’) that have led up to test dates in the past. Life is too sweet and too fleeting to waste living under the self-imposed burden of ‘what if.’ Been there. Done that. Wept those tears. Cathartic as those jags were, breathing without pressure is much preferred.

The kids are both dazed and ecstatic with the news. Each of them internalized this round of recurrence and rebuilding in unique ways. Each of them sat within their own space of uncertainty that neither of us can ever imagine. Each of them were troopers and tender hearts, propping us up when needed and taking on more than we ever fathomed they’d have to at this age. For them, this night is truly special.

I can’t speak for Dave but I am simply experiencing a wave of calm and peace. It feels good and I will take it and have it for as long as it is mine. The reality is – as we’ve been reminded a few times now – in this life, we can only control what we do, think and say. So I will be grateful for this moment and accepting that what comes next is simply what comes next. Love with abandon.~ Jacqui

October 13, 2015 Posted by | Dave, Everyday | 5 Comments

Day + 27: Silver

WT Powers

Today is our 25th wedding anniversary.

When I sit down and think about all the things I can think about… all the memories… well, it gets a little overwhelming.

But when I focus on where we were and what we were doing 25 years ago, there is one particular moment of the ceremony that I remember with such vivid clarity.

It was this very moment. We were told to turn, face each other and join hands. We were in the chapel of the convent on my high school campus and we were standing there, exposed, in front of our families, friends, a priest and a monsignor, a bevy of nuns in the choir loft and really the world. It got very quiet and I realized with my heart thump, thump, thumping, that there was one thing I really, really wanted to do…

I wanted to push his glasses up.

Dave and I were holding hands tightly and as we squeezed, his glasses began to slip. What the heck was I supposed to do? I didn’t want to let go because I was convinced that if I did, the super Wonder Twin powers we were conjuring up at that very moment wouldn’t take and we’d be in trouble someday. (Seriously.)

But those glasses. Those glasses. They were slipping.

The priest had us repeating after him and I remember that. I remember Pachelbel’s Cannon in D being played by the string quartet behind us. All lovely, really, but those glasses! My word… they were going to fall off his face. And he looked a little uncomfortable.

All I really wanted to do was gently push them back up into place. But I couldn’t let go.

Twenty-five years later… the older me looks back at the younger me and wonders, with all I know now, would I take that chance and let go for a second to give a little comfort, show a little tenderness? Is it because I didn’t let go that I’ve learned how to be kinder and more compassionate, to both give and accept love? To know that sometimes you really do just need to hold on?

Like many other mysteries, the world will never know…

October 6, 2015 Posted by | Dave, Everyday | 3 Comments