Posted in inspiration

A Story of Courage and How Mesothelioma Touched My Life

Heather’s Story

I recently received an email from Cameron Von St. James who one day found himself caregiver to his wife, Heather, who was diagnosed with a very rare and deadly form of cancer called mesothelioma. These two people are truly amazing souls and the odds that they beat were remarkable and I am not just referring to the cancer. How they got through this together is an amazing feat as well.

I wish I could share more about Heather and James but I can barely get through their site without finding myself in tears.  What I can tell you, however, is that Heather is a survivor and she beats the odds. Her story is positive because she was and continues to be hopeful.  She wanted to beat the odds and beat cancer and she did.  Heather has now made it her mission it personal mission to raise awareness about this awful disease and to bring hope to those experiencing similar hard times.

I was asked to share Heather’s story and I am more than happy to.  You can find out about Heather at but be prepared with tissues.

How Mesothelioma Touched My Life

As many of you know, mesothelioma has touched my life and it is a part of my life that is hard to talk to about.  It was about this time three years ago that my brother was admitted to the hospital. He did not leave the hospital after that because he was told that he had six months to live.  There was surgery at the end of November that was supposed to give us more time with him but he was too far gone to have survived following the surgery.  He lived less than a month after that.  It was on December 20, 2010 that his battle with peritoneal mesothelioma ended.

I wanted to become an activist and fight against asbestos use but it was never that easy for me.  For everything I have been through in my life, my brother’s cancer was the hardest and it continues to be.  It is one of those things that I continue to push aside so I don’t have to think about how he suffered and how we quickly lost him. Grief over the loss of a loved one doesn’t go away overnight or over weeks or even over years.  That grief often lasts a lifetime.

But I am so happy when I hear about a story of survival from mesothelioma. I am happy for the survivor and I am happy for their loved ones. Do I wish that my brother was survivor and that he was still here? Sure I do but I know that God only takes the good ones young.  And my brother’s memory lives in his mother, his siblings and his nieces and nephews. And I am going to leave it at this because my glasses are getting wet and foggy from my tears. Rest in Peace my dear brother. If you only knew how missed you were.

Posted in Book Review, inspiration

Review of Michael J. Fox’s Always Looking Up: The Adventures of an Incurable Optimist


Always Looking Up: The Adventures of an Incurable Optimist
by Michael J. Fox

  • Publication Date: March 30, 2010
  • Genres: Memoir, Nonfiction
  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Hyperion
  • ISBN-10: 1401310168
  • ISBN-13: 9781401310165

I recently picked up an audiobook for Michael J. Fox’s “Always Looking Up: The Adventures of an Incurable Optimist.” I listened to it in my car on my long drive to and from work. What an inspiration! If you have not read his book, you should add it to your reading/listening list.

Living with chronic illness, Michael experiences resonated with me.  I understand his challenges with diagnosis, denial, treatment, and acceptance. Listening to Michael tell his story helps me to understand how I, too, am an incurable optimist.  So much really hit home as I listened to how he has taken what life has thrown him in such a positive light.

There was times where I laughed out loud or teared up as I felt his passion in every word. He talked about his experiences including growing up, his career, his marriage, his parenting, losing a loved one and just living with the day-to-day of a chronic illness. Michael found universal lessons in everything life had given him and in doing so, I saw him as a true inspiration.

The part that hit home for me was his making a comment to his wife about being afraid that the other shoe would fall at any minute. Her response: it already has. It made me think about RA and fibromyalgia making my life so much harder and what they put me through daily is worse than anything else I have been through.  Always Looking Up: The Adventures of an Incurable Optimist, is moving and uplifting.

Posted in inspiration

Hey God, I am still standing!

Looking from the outside, you would not how much I have been through in my life. But the fact is, I have been through a lot and every day, I think that it finally is over for me – the struggling, the worrying, etc., and but it is something new every day. God tests me on a daily basis, and I am not sure I understand why. I may not be religious, but I believe in him wholeheartedly. I ask for his guidance on a daily basis and in every thing I do, no matter how routine.

The irony is despite every test I have been put through, I am still standing, and stronger than ever. Maybe, I don’t fully understand what God’s purpose for me is, but if it is about testing my strength and belief, I am still standing, stronger than ever. The last few weeks and months have tested me in ways unimaginable and I am slowly dealing with the aftermath of that testing. I have learned so much along the way about who I am and how strong I can be and who my friends and my allies are, but mostly, I have learned to appreciate the simple things in my life, things that are priceless.

I have started to focus my thinking on spiritually and religion lately because it seems to have lead me to a better understanding of the tests that have been bestowed upon me in recent weeks and months. The Book of Genesis at 22:1-2, tells us that God came to Abraham and said: “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about!” Abraham took Isaac as instructed and prepared him for sacrifice. Just then, the Lord appeared and provided a ram for the sacrifice. Of course, none of us will ever be tested in such a manner, but indeed, we will and have been tested. I look at Abraham’s story and realize how I come so close to giving up, and then the answers and solutions come at precisely the minute I wanted to give in.

Think about all the obstacles that that come in your way while you are trying to get things done, i.e., working hard to pay your bills, care for your families, etc., and then think about the story of Joshua when he was leading the Jews to what is now Israel. They had travelled long and far and they got to the flooded Jordan River. Joshua had been instructed by God to tell the priests to go first and for the people to follow in a distance. They were to walk through the flooded river and when their feet touched the water, the water would divide so that all the people would cross. The people and the priests had two choices: they could follow the command of God or they could just stay put and live on the shore. They choose to move forward and later stories about Joshua tell us that this was the very incident that gave him courage to overcome greater obstacles.

I truly don’t understand why God tests me or any of us. I just know that I am better for it – stronger and wiser. Despite all of this recent testing, I am truly grateful for all the blessings in my life. They keep me stronger and keep me standing. So, hey God, despite everything, I am still standing.

Dale Carnegie: Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.

Ray Bradbury: If we listened to our intellect, we’d never have a love affair. We’d never have a friendship. We’d never go into business, because we’d be too cynical. Well, that’s nonsense. You’ve got to jump off cliffs all the time and build your wings on the way down.

Posted in blogging, Getting It Done Friday, inspiration

Getting It All Done Friday: Finding Inspiration in Blogging

In addition to my “Follow Friday” monthly posts, I will also be doing a “Getting It All Done Friday” post once a month which I will dedicate to helpful resources on internet.

This first post’s inspiration came to me due to several weeks of my missing the blogging antics of a certain Canadian blogger who had blogger’s block and just finally got her mojo back. (Blog stalking is fun isn’t it?) So at risk of my Canadian friend, Lana, thinking I am absolutely obsessed with her, let’s discuss finding inspiration when you are all blogged out.

We all get what I call “blogger’s block.” It is simply writer’s block for bloggers. So, what is a blogger to do when all that inspiration has dried out? The answer is “go to the internet!” I have found four helpful sites in my quest to not run out of blogging ideas so I do not lose any of my own blog stalkers. After all, what fun would I be talking to myself? (Thus, the reason I like comments. Just a note, when you comment, beware of my nonsensical rules.)

Without further ado, here are some bloggers who offer advice to help you to keep the writing ideas coming.

1) Blog Inspiration

Blog Inspiration was created with one sole purpose: “Helping bloggers find something to write about.” The author of this blog (who name I could not locate) was sitting in front of his or her computer a couple years ago while dealing with a case of “blogger’s block.” The idea juices just weren’t flowing and our blogger thought to himself: (or herself – I hope to identify our blogger friend through some investigation and will update this post when I do.) “Well, there are web sites for everything else I can think of. I’ll bet someone out there has a site full of blog ideas that I can browse through and borrow.” So our blogger hero did what any blogger would do in the same position; our hero enlisted the help of Google and came up with the most “lame” searches known to humanity. So our blogger hero then exclaimed: “We need a blog inspiration site!” Thus, Blog Inspiration was born.

If you visit the site, you will see that our blogger hero does not give advice on blogging. Instead, our hero shares with us specific blogging ideas and gives an opinion as to what could be written. Take a look at this March 22, 2009 post I have copied from the site:

What Was the First Book that Made you Laugh?
I read a lot when I was younger. In elementary school, I think I managed to read every science and science-fiction book in our library. But I also occasionally read fiction. One of my favorites as a kid was Judy Blume’s “Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing “. I remember laughing uncontrollably at some of the things that happened in that book. Sadly, my step-children showed no interest in it when I bought a copy and gave it to them.

Anyway… how about you? What was the first book you ever read that made you laugh out loud? What was so funny about it? If you go back and read it today, do you still get a chuckle out of it?

Apparently, our blogger hero has been AWOL for several weeks now. Hopefully, our hero will be back soon for more adventures and ideas in the blogging. In the meantime, feel free to visit the previous blogging ideas posted at Blog Inspiration.

2) Lorelle on WordPress

Lorelle’s Goal: Helping you learn more about blogging and WordPress every day with help, tips, advice, and techniques for blogging and using WordPress and The blogging help you need now.

Lorelle VanFossen is a public speaker, trainer, writer and consultant in web writing, web design and blogger and she is blogging expert on WordPress. (I pulled this information from her “Who is Lorelle” section). Lorelle also works as a professional photographer. On WordPress, Lorelle writes about “everything WordPress, blogging and social media, covering more than you may want to know about how all this blogging business and social stuff works.”
So for everything blogging, Lorelle on WordPress is the place to go. Just take a look at this excerpt from her most recent post titled: “Looking for Blogging Ideas?

While it seems like installing and setting up your blog is the hardest part of the challenges associated with blogging, the reality is that coming up with new ideas is actually the hardest part of blogging. For a while, the ideas and words flow. You can barely keep up with them. But over time, energy and enthusiasm wanes and the ideas begin to dry up. So you go prowling the Internet to see what other people are saying and start linking to their good ideas. Still, the thrill wanes. What you need is a kick in the idea butt to get those brain functions jazzed and excited about various projects to blog about.

You will have to visit Lorelle on WordPress for the rest of this post.
3) How to Make My Blog

Are you a newbie to the blogging world or do you just need some tips to keep your blog interesting for your readers? How to Make My Blog was created by Marko Saric from London England who “writes articles on all things blogging.” Marko (yes, we are on a first name basis) helps bloggers with questions on setting up their blogs, themes, branding, blog promoting, search engine optimizing and marketing. He even has a video introduction in which he has not shaved nor had a hair cut in quite some time due to getting this entire wonderful blogging information site set up. (Ladies, the accent is to die for!)

My favorite post from Marko’s blog is titled: “13 blogging lessons learned from Stephen King’s On Writing”, which I have pulled the following selection from.

Stephen King’s book On Writing is a very good read. It is targeted towards writers and wanna-be writers, but it is a very inspiring book for anyone. As bloggers are writers, this book can teach you several lessons and can inspire you in your blogging. Here are the 13 lessons I have picked up from reading Stephen King’s On Writing.

To find out what those 13 lessons are, you will have to visit How to Make My Blog by Marko Saric.
Four simple words by Philip Liu of New York City who is also the guy behind, a small website matching people looking for movers. Philip blogs all about entrepreneurship, web development and social networking. Take a look at his March 21, 2009 post titled: “101 Great Posting Ideas That Will Make Your Blog Sizzle.” I have taken the first five of those ideas, but you will have to visit Philip’s page for more blogging inspiration.

1.Brainstorm by matching up your readers wants and needs using the Visitor Grid method of brainstorming.
2. Write a post by examining the pros and cons of an issue.
3. Write a tutorial.
4. Do an interview with key people in your niche.
5. Create a mock head-to-head competition like what Daniel did.

(Make sure you check out what Daniel did at his own blog. Daily Blog Tips is the place where he shares what he learned during his time developing blogs and websites.)

Here you go folks, some unsolicited/unwelcome/unwanted advice by Lana, the author of this blog, who loves to ramble all about being a working mother who is overworked, overwhelmed, underpaid and often underappreciated (at work only), who has fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis, who loves her kids (and never stops) and the wide world of wrestling a.k.a. the WWE (Vince McMahon would be proud). Well, see ya next time folks.
Posted in boredom, desk, inspiration, messy

My Messy Desk

Could it get any worse? Look at these lovely pictures of my workstation. My desk looks more disorganized than my eight year old’s bedroom. (Good thing he doesn’t read my blog.) It is not that I am a slob, far from it. I am one of those Type A persons who will not leave work with a cluttered desk and usually, most of my major assignments are concluded before the day is over. Aside from the fact that I have received a new attorney assignment while another assistant is out on medical leave, my mind is more cluttered than my desk. I returned from my maternity leave on October 22 and I still can’t seem to get my mind out of the gutter.

I haven’t figured out what has me bored with my job…well more than the usual. I take that back. I am not only bored with my job, but I am bored with my life. Boredom, is that what happened when you suddenly realize that, well, you are turning into your mother? Or Lynnette Scavio from Desperate Housewives?

Whatever it is, it is making me wish I had a more meaningful life. YAdd Imagees, I love being a mom (well…sometimes, I don’t) and I have a wonderful husband (well, wonderful is probably an overstatment– he is like a child, but with a job), a highly entertaining mother and siblings (dysfunctional is more like it), and a few close friends (who I should call more often), but when did my life become so uninspiring? The only person I would probably (with emphasis) inspire is an old woman in a nursing home with dementia or probably one of my deceased grandmothers. I am so tired of my boring, uninteresting, tedious, dull, dreary, mind-numbing, tiresome, lackluster, unexciting, monotonous, wearisome, humdrum and uninspiring life (I ran out of synonyms for boring and these are the only ones Word suggested) that is has come down to defining my boredom and taking pictures of my messy desk.

I guess I will be off looking for some inspiration. If you have any, please lend it my way. In the meantime, I hope your desk isn’t as messy as mine. I will, however, not take this to heart. After all, Albert Einstein’s desk was messier.