Friday, November 20, 2009


Indulge me while I moan, groan, and complain. I am feeling overwhelmed and discouraged. Yet, nothing has changed since yesterday when I felt invigorated, directed, and optimistic. What happened overnight?

In an effort to "broaden my horizons" and divert my attention from the what inevitably becomes an all-consuming endeavor (the book, right now), I tried out for the local production of "Annie." Like many of my decisions, this was an implusive, last minute action. Not only did I have to sing and read, I had to DANCE--which is not my forte. It was a terrible audition, totally humbling, but I proved that embarrassment doesn't kill you and actually felt proud of myself--after the initial humiliation passed.

I did get a part in the chorus. I am a maid and a New Yorker and a number of other inconsequential unnamed persons. But it is a once in a lifetime opportunity to perform with my daughter Ashleigh (Grace) and my granddaughters, Quinn, Meg and Campbell (orphans). Until yesterday, I was enjoying myself. Today I am wondering how in the world I am going to be at practices every night--weekends included--through late December.

I have Christmas shoppping to do,presents to wrap, cookies to bake, Thanksgiving dinner to buy and prepare, flowers to plant.

I have neglected f.a.i.t.H. group. I need to update the website (done every 2 months), do some research for 2 members, make 2 hospital visits, send several cards, and make some phone calls.

Jim is sick today (in bed) after Tuesday's chemo. I have to go to the grocery store to get something he might eat(unlikely) and make some returns--the result of a week long shopping spree that sometimes occurs when I'm manic. Now I have buyer's remorse.

Things are moving along quickly with the publication of the book. I have interviews, articles to write, meetings with the publicist, and final details with the website and marketing print materials to approve and correct. Until yesterday it was fun and exciting. Today I am tired of playing author.

We went to a funeral yesterday of a dear friend who died unexpectedly. I so regret that I didn't interview him (as I intended to do for the last year) to write his life story. He had such a great story to tell and I missed the opportunity by failing to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit who was saying, "You really need to do this."

Then When I sat down at the computer just now--procrastinating--I read this email from an online cancer support group:

SMALL STRAWS IN A SOFT WIND by Marsha Burns -- Nov. 20, 2009:
The way is clear, and the door is open for you to proceed. Go forth with confidence and assurance, for I am with you, says the Lord. It is time for you to possess all that has been prepared for you. Do not be afraid or doubt that you have been set aside for My purposes at this time and for this season. If you will yield to the moving of My Spirit, I will cause you to actualize your kingdom potential.

I think He's talking to me again!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

CPR for the Written Word

The publishing industry is in serious trouble. Newspapers are folding. Magazines—even some of long standing—are stopping publication. Publishers are shutting their doors. Even those that are able to stay in business are only accepting manuscripts from established authors or public figures. It is nearly impossible for an unknown writer to get a foot in the door at a traditional publishing house. Almost no one can take a chance on an unknown when profitability is in danger.

You can help by:

1.Subscribing to your favorite magazine.

2.Give books for gifts.

3.If you use the library, still buy a book each month.

4.Support your local bookstores—particularly independent owners.

5.Only use Amazon as a last resort. The authors and the publishers make very little profit when you buy from Amazon. Frequently, the publisher's price is competetive with Amazon.

6.If buying in bulk, try the publisher or the author first.

7.Don’t give up on your newspaper unless you want to be without one. If you refuse to buy the local paper, at least buy a regional or national paper.

9.Do not buy a Kindle (personal bias).

10.If you have moral objections to many of the publications, support your Christian Booksellers. Subscribe to a Christian magazine. There are still some good ones around but they are struggling.

Writers, journalists, publishers, magazines, newspapers are in danger of extinction. If we don’t support them we are hastening the death of the industry.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Requiem for the Written Word

The world is changing too fast for me. Along with the loved ones I’ve laid to rest, I mourn the exit of a multitude of things my grandchildren will never experience: small grocery stores that allowed you to run in and out in a few minutes, Sunday dinners at Grandma’s house, road trips where you saw something besides the highway, churches that look like churches, graduation ceremonies with some decorum, birthday parties with homemade cake and pin-the-tail on the donkey, neighborhood games on summer evenings. All are gone—as surely as Grandma, and like Grandma--living only in my memory.

I’m all for modern technology which has made our lives easier. I do like my Swiffer. I would hate to give up my Cuisinart Food Processor. The vibrating mascara wand saves all that unnecessary wrist action, and I don’t miss the laborious task of typing footnotes at the end of each page of a term paper. But if I have to give up the printed word, I won’t do it without a fight.

The written word is not dead yet, but believe me, it is very ill, struggling and gasping for breath as I write. Beloved family members are being called to the bedside to find the last ditch effort that might prevent its demise.

Imagine the world without books, magazines and newpapers—no morning paper with your coffee, no libraries, no waiting anxiously for the mailman, and no small bookstores with resident tabbies draped over the backs of well-worn reading chairs.

No handwritten letters from a loved one long gone, no diaries to be stumbled upon by surprised grandchildren—who think you were never young, no recipes scribbled on scraps of paper in (now-faded) lead pencil by a beloved great-grandmother.

The children of the coming generations won’t find Bibles with underlined passages, postcards from faraway places, letters home from a lonely soldier, notes in the margins of text books, or bundles of love letters bound in blue ribbons in the bottom of a cedar chest.

Instead of sharing a dog-eared book with grandchildren who are still enthralled with its magic ability to take them to a different world, we’ll say “Go get Grannie’s Kindle and I’ll read you a story.” Or, "Let’s gather round the computer to read an e-book.”

Book lovers, unite to save the printed word.

“I don’t care what they say.
I won’t stay, in a world without”

How you can help in the next post.

Monday, November 2, 2009

A Covert Killer

November is National Lung Cancer Awareness Month and I want to take this opportunity to tell you about the disease that came into our lives like a thief in the night.

As most of you know, my husband Jim was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2002. November 15 of this year marks seven years of his survival with a catastrophic illness that doesn’t get the attention it deserves.

Jim is in a minority. He is in an elite group of those who have survived more than five years with lung cancer. Taking into account the stage and spread of his cancer, the group is even smaller. Less than 1% of patients with stage IV lung cancer live for 5 years.

In 2002, Jim was one of approximately 220,000 people diagnosed with lung cancer. 28,000 of those never smoked. Only 35,000 or 16% were diagnosed while in the early stages. Comparatively, 90% of prostate cancers are discovered in early stages; 50% of breast cancers are diagnosed in early stages.

Only 16 % of people diagnosed with lung cancer live for 5 years, as compared to 89% of breast cancer and 99% of prostate. That means that 187,000 of the 220,000 diagnosed along with Jim in 2002 are dead.

Lung cancer kills 160,000 people annually—more than breast, colon, and prostate cancers COMBINED. Yet a disproportionate amount of money is spent on research. The National Cancer Institute estimates that last year it spent $1,415 per lung cancer death, compared to $13,991 per breast cancer death, 10,945 per prostate cancer death, and 4,952 per colorectal cancer death. Yet, among all types of cancer, lung cancer remains the #1 killer—for both men and women.

Unfortunately, there is a stigma that accompanies lung cancer because many people assume it is caused from smoking and therefore self-inflicted. Jim never smoked; he was physically fit and went for regular physicals. Even if he had been a smoker, no one deserves lung cancer any more than someone deserves AIDS or Diabetes or breast cancer. But we don’t seem to judge as harshly people who fail to exercise, spend time in tanning beds, or eat a steady diet of fast food.

“There is a feeling among the general public, that lung cancer is a self-inflicted disease. Smoking is responsible for 80% to 85% of lung cancers, but let’s put this in perspective: Twice as many women die from lung cancer in the United States each year as die from breast cancer, and 20% of these women have never touched a cigarette. Even for those who smoke and develop lung cancer, why do we attach such a stigma to them? Many cancers, and other chronic diseases, are related to lifestyle choices.” “The Stigma of Lung Cancer” Lynne Eldridge MD

There are few events, rallies, or programs in November (Lung Cancer Month) compared to those in October for Breast Cancer Month—perhaps because there aren’t as many survivors to take up the banner. I guess there wouldn’t be many participants in our “Race for the Cure.” The band would have to play “When the Saints Go Marching In.”

What can you do?

Support the cause with donations.
Get an annual chest x-ray.
Stop smoking.
Maintain a healthy lifestyle.

It won’t prevent cancer but you will be better able to survive aggressive treatment.