Strength, Balance, A Rock

You live a healthy life and hope you are doing the best that you can. There’s always room for self-improvement, and you make a promise to get better with each day. You go to Western doctors, you practice Eastern medicine. You eat kale and consider going gluten-free. You meditate, swim, do yoga.

And then the call comes, the one from the nurse at the radiology lab telling you the mammogram was indeterminate, that your left breast needs to be rescreened. In that moment you are stirred awake as if you were asleep, your eyes are wide open.

fullsizeoutput_1bddI wonder about the medical assistant (or nurse) on the other end of the phone. Who they are, how they do it every day. How they process the information and manage to inform all those patients on the brink of uncertainty.

I try not to think about (aka Google search) what it may or may not mean to have an indeterminate screening. And instead, I call the health insurance hotline to confirm coverage benefits.

My internist leaves a voicemail reassuring me that initial screenings like this are common in women over 40. Breast nodules are not necessarily an indicator of cancer. She notes that the nodules could be fatty tissue or a cyst that requires drainage. It also could be nothing and that it was better for me to wait for results from the next screening before getting ahead of myself.

I take a deep breath, try to calm my mind. The fear of the unknown can be exhausting. I reschedule my afternoon so that I can take a nap.

Finn comes in from outside as if he knows that I need him nearby. We cuddle side by side and drift into our dreams.


That Six-Letter Word

Fact: Women in the U.S. have a 1 in 8 (or about 12%) lifetime risk of getting breast cancer. This means that for every 8 women in the U.S. who live to be age 85, 1 will be diagnosed with breast cancer during her lifetime.

Early detection is the first step in prevention and treatment. And that is why the waiting room at NYU Langone Medical is full at 9AM on a Tuesday. It is my annual diagnostic mammogram screening, and I pray that the radiology report comes back clean.

I know a handful of women in my life who have had breast cancer and survived. One had a double mastectomy before she turned 30; the second, a lumpectomy in her 40s; and the third, a scare in her 50s.

Cancer is the six-letter word no one wants to hear from their doctor, the word no one likes to say out loud. Because like those furry creatures from Gremlins, the word multiplies the minute it’s enunciated. No one speaks about cancer until they do. It’s still taboo until it happens to someone you love, someone they love, someone they know, someone they knew.

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Flower bud @juchjn – Pixaby 2017

My mom was diagnosed with lung cancer in March 1999. Chemo. Radiation. All those toxic chemicals killing the bad cells and the good cells, weakening her immune system, making it extremely difficult for a frail 71-year old woman to prepare for battle. We lost her the following January.

Seventeen years later, I lose count thinking of friends and family who have been diagnosed. For every one person who survives, there is one who does not.

I pray for them all.

Benefits of a Mammogram Screening


Marketing, Monday

Mondays, even when you’re working for yourself can be a challenge. Even with a beautiful spring day as part of the canvas.

I wake early to tackle the garden before the day; although not early enough to make it to yoga. I register for Creative Mornings‘ Friday session and hop on the train to Grand Army Plaza.

SCORE.NYC event on social media is in-progress at the Dweck Center. The last time I was here was for a screening of “Pandora’s Box,” a silent movie starring Louise “Lulu” Brooks.

The first speaker from TheStylistaGroup, walks us through Facebook Ads, how to customize audiences, and how to use targeted lists for email campaigns. The second speaker talks about top ranking SEO factors for Google: links, content, and RankBrain. They both stress that social media and SEO are long-term strategies, ones that require an investment of time and money. There is no quick fix, marketing of any kind requires work.


Buona Pasqua

A harbinger of spring greets me this morning.

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Blue Jay on the fire escape, @prez13

The forecast is 80 degrees and sunny.

Buona Pasqua, friends!


Blackberries and Prosecco

What I love most about special occasions is the opportunity to cook for people. Dinners, dessert, brunch. Last night I hosted Claire and Lee Ann friends visiting from Toronto. We had grilled pizza, tortilla Espanola, prosecco, wine, and chocolate.

I find the preparation cathartic, and at times, meditative.

Tomorrow Lulu will join me for Easter lunch at the treehouse. The weather forecast is dreamy: low 80s with a splash of sunshine. My mind is aflutter with ideas for the menu. I’ll prepare a simple tomato sauce with cavatelli, and a spinach salad. Serve it with fresh bread.

One of my favorite food blogs, Pinch of Yum features a recipe for Miracle No-Knead Bread. It’s a crumbly mess but according to Lindsay’s recipe in 12-18 hours the dough will be ready for the oven.

 

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Crumbled Miracle No-Knead Bread dough, @prez13

 

I’ve been itching to make a blackberry pie. Every recipe has the same formula for the filling: berries, sugar, flour, lemon juice. I decide to use honey instead of sugar, Balsamic vinegar instead of lemon. I macerate the blackberries then pour them into the pie crust.

Next stop the oven:

 

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Blackberry pie with egg white wash crust

 

90 minutes later and the berries are piping hot:

 

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Bubbling berries, Batman!

Next up is sorbet, a favorite complement to pie. I devised the recipe for Clementine Prosecco Sorbet one day when I discovered a flat bottle of bubbly in the refrigerator. It goes like this: Heat up a simple syrup of water and sugar then let it cool; add clementine juice (or any citrus that makes you happy) and Prosecco to the syrup. Then refrigerate until cold. Add to ice cream maker and churn for 25 minutes until solid, freeze for 1-2 hours, and voila!

 


Remember to exhale

It’s only been a few weeks since my bout with bronchitis but I can feel my body wasting away. I find the energy for an open flow yoga class.

The studio is around the corner from the treehouse. In recent months, the owners have expanded the footprint to include another studio space. The entrance is on a side street and the neighboring buildings muffle the hustle and bustle of the nearby shopping district.

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Credit: KatjaFiona @pixaby – Buddha Zen

The room itself is fluid, and there is a lightness from the wall of plate glass windows even with the privacy screens. The branches of a cherry blossom tree stretch toward the glass as if engaged in a round of partner yoga. Spring wants to be here, too.

Alia talks about how the practice of yoga extends beyond the experience of the mat into how we approach our daily lives. She leads the class in a light meditation and asks us to set an intention before we begin with the Om mantra.

We breathe in through our nose, then exhale through our mouth with a sigh.


First Bloom

The garden is coming to life one bloom at a time. Tulips bashfully hide behind the bamboo. A wee daffodil peeks out from a bush. The Japanese maple, the one I thought was on its last limb, sprouts lush burgundy leaves. The creeping clematis looks healthy as it winds itself around the rusted iron fence. The butterfly bush is greening and the oregano flowers flourishing.

Now if I could only figure out how to revitalize the sea grass.

Any advice from arborists or gardeners welcome.