Christmas Eve 2016

Our trio is hitting the road this morning... over the river and through the woods...

First up is the Harkins crew... Grandma and Papa are hosting this year now that they are Minnesota residents. After 10 years in the desert, we are happy to have them back. Eric, Jen, Jack and Laurynn will be there as well... might be the first time we've all been together since we cruised in April!

Life does move so quickly these days...

Then, and O'Hara gathering this evening with cousins ranging from 15 to 30... all stages of life are represented when we get together, including Dan's parents who are both in their 90's! A big family is a constant reminder that there are many ways to get where you are going if you just keep moving...

Erin is excited for the day, and Erin's joy brings us joy, too.

As we head out for family celebrations today, we remember Shannon and the joy she brought to our lives... she is missed so dearly by her family, immediate and extended...

But, we are proud of the fact that we have carried on in her absence and have managed to find happiness and even joy in the after...


Saturday December 17, 2016

Today I am thankful for Barbara... Barbara is the person who owned my care before I did. It was Barb's when it was brand new... Barbara was smart enough to buy the model with heated seats and to have a remote starter installed... These are wonderful things to have on a day like today with wind chills in the double digits below zero. And tomorrow sounds even worse...

But team O'Hara is home safe and sound and our house is warm. We are grateful for that.

I had a great week at work. This week, the show I help produce, Mayo Clinic Radio, reached a high water mark - we now have 139 affiliates around the U.S. that carry our program. We get to interview experts on all different health and wellness topics and share that knowledge each weekend.  It is an honor to know that the information we are able to share is helping people all across the country. I am grateful for the opportunity to be a part of it.

So, Dan, Erin and I all need to get through one more week of school and work before we can settle in for the holidays...

I do love getting the mail each day at this time of year. For us, it's a mix of two positive things - Christmas cards and donation checks.

We run a holiday fundraising letter campaign each year for the Shannon O'Hara Foundation. It is truly humbling each day to see the checks arrive, big and small. We are grateful for that, too.

And, the holiday cards that arrive bring a smile to my face, too. I love seeing the pictures of people's children and grandchildren. Poignant, yes. Our Christmas card will never be complete again. But, life is full of beauty and joy if you focus on the right things...

"Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day." - Henri Nouwen

Friday December 9, 2016

The last time I wrote, I was lamenting that it was still warm and the grass was green... be careful what you wish for! The forecast for the next week says single digit high temps and potentially 3-6 inches of snow tomorrow. OK then...

Sylvie the cat loves to be outside, but she's not winter-tough quite yet - she whines and scratches the door to go out, and then minutes later, she's meowing to come back in. Over and over and over... I'm happy to say Sunny the Wonderdog is smarter than that - go out, do your business, come in and return to the couch or the bed...

Two weeks left until winter break for Erin. She said to me yesterday "I love my school". Mayo, along with the other Rochester high schools, are in the middle of their holiday fundraising. Mayo's is called GOFA - Give One For All - with proceeds going to the Dorothy Day House and the Women's Shelter. As a student government member, Erin has been a part of organizing GOFA activities. Last year, they raised just over $40,000. It is fun to see how passionate the kids are about doing something for the greater good.

I had a Facebook memory pop up today of Erin, 5 years ago:


She is standing outside the Grizzly House, the on campus housing for patient families at St. Jude. This time 5 years ago was the beginning of Shannon's decline and Erin was there to watch the whole thing.

I don't know how to quantify the journey that kid has been on for the past 5 years. Erin is her own person, but she shares so many good qualities with the sister she lost. Erin had to learn at such a young age to be tough and compassionate at the same time. I think it will serve her well.

So, on we go towards the holidays. It's a time of year to reflect and count your blessings. Mine are many...

Thursday December 1, 2016

December has arrived. While we had a few snowflakes yesterday, the grass is still very green in our yard... I won't digress here into a discussion on global warming...

Our Thanksgiving getaway was wonderful. Relaxing for all three of us and gorgeous weather made golfing and time by the pool quite nice. We do like our "new" tradition and hope we can pull it off one more year. After that, Erin will be in college and then, who knows...

Erin going to college has been creeping into my thoughts lately. Spending last week with the Shives and many of Ariana's friends gives a window into the next step of life. Erin, as always, loved hanging with the college kids. This year, there were more! Ariana (a senior), T Connor (junior), Ariana's roommate Katy, from the island of Jersey of the coast of England (senior), and joining us for Thanksgiving dinner were two of Ariana's triathalon club teammates, Dan (sophomore) from Syracuse, NY, and Dario, a grad student from Milan, Italy who is a Fulbright Scholar studying the clarinet at USC.

How's that for a reminder that the world is a big, wide place...

Erin soaked it all up and by the time we get to the next stage, she will be ready. Me, on the other hand... I've got just under two years to get there...

But, now we are back in Rochester and in the middle of Erin's junior year. School is going well and she'll be busy this next month with the student government fundraiser called GOFA - Give One For All.

She's also playing off season volleyball with a new team this year, as our Southside Juniors club didn't have enough kids at the upper level to make a team. So, Erin tried out for a new club and now has teammates from all over southern MN. This team will travel far and wide starting in January. Trips to Minneapolis, Omaha and the Wisconsin Dells should make the winter go by quickly. This has been the first week of practice and so far, so good...

Dan is busy this month, too. Traveling with his boss today and then headed to Nashville for company wide meetings next week.

My job continues to energize me and I feel like it's such a good fit for my skills. I am so fortunate to find that after staying home with children and not being in the work force for a great portion of my adult life. It's such a conundrum for women. I got the best of both worlds - a chance to be a stay at home mom when my kids were little, and now a chance to do a job I love. Gratitude.

So, bring on December. We head towards those memories of Shannon in her last days. How can we be approaching our 5th Christmas without her? And yet, Erin said to me yesterday, "I love Christmas". The holidays still represent family, love and generosity. Shannon amplified the importance of those things for us. It is never the same without Shannon, but it can still be good.

Happy Thanksgiving

As usual, holidays make me introspective. Loss will do that to you. There is always a missing piece for us when we give thanks for all we have. We miss Shannon dearly and that hasn't changed or lessened in time.

But, time has shown us that you can heal and go forward without leaving behind the missing piece. Shannon is incorporated into our daily living and Dan, Erin and I each carry her with us in all that we do.

We have wonderful family and friends in our lives and we are doing our best to continue to grow and love and live.

That's what I'm feeling on this Thanksgiving Day.

I am thankful for each of you who are reading this blog. It means you have crossed paths with us or our story and you care enough to read what I write.

Hug your loved ones today, everybody. It is a day to hold close what matters to you.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Monday November 21, 2016

We had a jam packed week last week that culminated in our SOF night at HS Girls Hockey event. Man, we love those people. Shannon hockey buddies and their families continue to carry us through and they continue to carry her with them. There were green hockey laces and green ribbons and green tape. Can't say enough about these girls...

The Facebook flashback got us again. Those very same families who showed up at Thursday's HS game, showed up in our timelines this weekend. It was Shannon's last hockey tournament. 5 years ago. The only time her team ever won a tournament. Hopkins Champions 2011.


That was the last best day that Shannon had. Such a good, bittersweet memory. All the girls on that team will remember it forever.

So, this year's successful fall fundraisers have come to a close. The season is about to change.  This morning we have bright sunshine above a hard frost here in Rochester. It sounds like our beautiful fall is going to give way to some winter weather.

My parents picked a good fall to move back to Minnesota. They made it all the way to late November without any snow!

We were suppose to have dinner at my parents new place last night, but Erin is having a bout with the flu. Poor girl. She hasn't been feeling well all week, but tried to tough it out and go to her debate team competition in Mankato on Saturday. It didn't work out so well... let's just say she spent some time in the Mankato East HS bathroom!

We are hoping she can shake it before tomorrow... we head out on our 3rd annual Palm Springs Thanksgiving. We're all so looking forward to time with our friends, time by the pool and a little golf mixed in... golf for everyone except me :(

Three weeks ago, I hurt my wrist playing tennis. Yes, hitting a backhand like I have thousands of times before... getting old is a bitch! Anyway, I'm in a splint for 4-6 weeks and won't be playing golf this time around...

It's ok. Dan and Erin will get that time together and I'll have some time with my friend, Kula. Our chances to be together have been few and far between these days... I've spent the last year ramping up to working full time... and, oh yeah, she's spent the last year battling cancer!

A year ago at Thanksgiving in Palm Springs, Kula had not yet been diagnosed. That is hard to believe since it now seems like her cancer journey is just a part of who she is.

Yet another reminder to take it day by day...

So, onward we go. The holiday season commences. It's never the same for us anymore, but there's is still so much for which we can be thankful.

Wednesday November 16, 2016

What a great weekend we had at the Shannon Cup. Watching the Rochester teams play, meeting players and parents from around the state, and sharing our story.

We did something different this year and gave a copy of Determined to Matter to each girl playing in the event. These were the older age group kids, and I think they can handle the story (which includes some foul language on my part!).

Our merchandise sales for the weekend totaled $2700. There is more Shannon merchandise out there in the world... love it... thanks to all who support our mission.

We watched the younger girls skate under the banner for the Cannon's 14B state championship. That banner bears the SOF logo.

            

That state tournament was won the year after Shannon passed. Shannon's best hockey buddies were on that championship team. While Shannon's high school class graduated last year, her "hockey class" are seniors this year. Shannon was young for her grade, and therefore always played with the girls who were a grade behind her. The state tournament banner bears the Shannon logo because they all felt Shannon was with them in spirit.

Those girls and their parents were our best helpers as we got the Shannon O'Hara Foundation up and running. We couldn't have done it without them. They continue to help us out at our events and show up to support the SOF.

So, Shannon's best hockey buddies are now seniors. We will be sharing the ice with them one last time on Thursday night as we have SOF night at HS Girls Hockey.

The first game is Century vs. Winona at 5:30pm, followed by Mayo vs. JM/Lourdes. Our on-ice presentation should be around 7pm. Merchandise will be for sale throughout both games.

I'm so grateful we are still connected to these girls who were Rebels turned Cannons. They've been with us from the beginning...


Shannon Cup This Weekend!

It's been a week of emotions, resolve and healing... time marches on and new challenges await our country. I have an open mind and continue to hope for the best. That means looking for the best in people, too. We will move ahead with caution, willing to do what I can to make this world a better place...

On a small scale, making the world a better place is part of the mission of the Shannon O'Hara Foundation. Our season of fundraising kicks off tonight as the Shannon Cup begins for the under 15 girls teams.



Last night, Dan, Erin and I went and spoke to the Rochester teams that will be competing. We brought them some Shannon swag, wished them luck, and told them they are our Shannon ambassadors of the next generation. It made our hearts full. When we walked into the locker room before practice began, we spotted two Shannon O'Hara Foundation sweatshirts being worn and at least three different Shannon t-shirts were spotted as well. If each of these girls are committed to making the world a friendlier place, we're going to be all right.

We have teams coming from all over Minnesota, Wisconsin and even Canada this weekend. We're looking forward to connecting with these teams. For the first time this year, we will be giving each participant a copy of Determined to Matter. Now more than ever, we want to spread Shannon's story and her message: be kind, be a good friend and be a good teammate.

If you're looking to buy some new Shannon gear, come see us at Graham Arena tomorrow (Sat. 11/12) any time between 8am and 6pm. We have new long sleeve grey t-shirts that represent all that has grown from Shannon's wish - research and scholarships through hockey and golf events. 

Hope to see some friendly faces on Saturday at Graham Arena!





Post Election Blues

I woke up today with a heavy heart...

I try to write here about love and compassion and being a generally good person. Those are my life goals. I want to do the same today, but I'm struggling...

Our country elected a mysogynistic, racist bully to be president.

I am having to accept the fact that a great majority of people like me - whites living in middle America - decided they could live with Donald Trump. It is apparent that neither candidate was particularly likable. People went to the polls to vote against the other candidate. Clinton was a flawed candidate, for sure. But she's a woman who has spent 30 years in a man's world and she's still standing. I have respect for that.

My 15 year old daughter watched the election results with me last night. Someone help me answer her question - How do we elect a man who thinks it's OK for him to grab women by the pussy? That sexual assault is somehow a man's right? That we should laugh about boys being boys? In two years Erin will be living on her own on a college campus.

I have friends and family in the LGBTQ communities, some of whom were able to get married to their long-time loves. How do I reconcile that half of America thinks they don't deserve the same rights I do?

How do we help people of color feel safe in this new America? We went from the first ever black president to one endorsed by the leader of the KKK.

Trump riled people up with hateful rhetoric. People wore t-shirts that said "Trump That Bitch".  He called her a "nasty woman". Women are on the margins now in this new America.

I understand wanting change, wanting to shake up the Washington elite. I understand fear about losing jobs and difficulty learning to accept people who don't look like us. Yes, our political system is wracked by gridlock and inefficiencies. There are places where we could make sweeping changes for the better.

What I don't understand giving a big middle finger to the progress this country has made on human rights. Women's rights. Gay rights. Minority rights. I'm sad that half of the country doesn't value these things. I don't expect everyone to think like me. But I do hope for human decency. The potential make-up of the Supreme Court has such huge implications when it comes to personal freedoms.

I'm not smart enough to understand how this will change trade and the world economy. But I do know how I feel today. I feel lonely. I feel defeated by a big, loud bully. I feel a little scared to share my opinion, because there are so many Americans who don't view the world through the same lens as me.

This morning, Donald Trump has said he will be a president for all Americans. His words and actions have hurt so many already.

I know love and compassion is the way forward. But today, I hurt.

Thursday November 3, 2016

I'm a little groggy this morning as I did make it up to see the end of game 7 of the World Series last night. What sports drama... I found myself, like much of America, rooting for the Cubs. I'm all for an end to long-time suffering!

Yesterday was a good day on Willow Lane. The house is filled with laughter in the afternoon as Erin's friends came home with her after school. They raided the pantry and fridge - Cheez Its, Pringles, apples, croissants and pretzels. I love hearing their chatter. It's amazing the things you can learn if you just sit and listen... Oh, I am going to miss that when Erin is gone...

With volleyball season ending, Erin has had more time on her hands. She has been busy with volunteer hours - some for student government, some for National Honor Society, the things that just don't get done during the volleyball season.

Yesterday was also my parents first day in their new home with their furniture. They are officially Minnesota residents again. It is nice to have them close by and we've been able to see them quite a bit over the past month as they tackled the renovation and moving process. I know they are happy to be back... we'll see how they feel when the snow flies...

Speaking of parents, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention my father-in-law's birthday this past Saturday. Eddie O is 93... wow...

I've been feeling a bit overwhelmed by the speed at which time is passing these days. Erin is a 1/4 of the way through her junior year. We had a legitimate college discussion this week. My parents are back in MN. Thanksgiving is just three weeks away. Shannon Cup hockey tournaments kick off next weekend. I've been to a funeral, had a colleague become a father for the first time, and have a friend who is caring for her husband at the end of his life...

So many reminders that life will continue to happen. The good, the bad, the ugly, the moments fill with grace. Every now and then I need a reset to remember to enjoy the present.

For today, I will enjoy what's right here, right now.

"We spend precious hours fearing the inevitable. It would be wise to use that time adoring our families, cherishing our friends and living our lives." - Maya Angelou

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Life, death and the pursuit of happiness... that has all been a part of our week...

Yesterday Dan, Erin and I attended my uncle's funeral. Yes, of course, funerals are sad, but there was comfort in the family all being together. My mom and her 7 remaining brothers all acting as pall bearers... there is still strength in their numbers.

The eulogy and music performed by our family was beautiful and honest. My uncle Scott gave Dan's eulogy and he didn't gloss over the parts of Dan's life that were difficult - the traumatic brain injury that changed him, and his long battle with bi-polar. Honesty is good. We are who we are, and it's important to own it, flaws and all...

Some of the rituals of funerals and burials I could do without, but the family gathering together to remember is worth it.

After the service, Dan and Erin headed back to Rochester so Erin could catch the bus to her section volleyball game in Lakeville. I stayed on in Faribault to visit, and then rode with my parents to the game.

Dan definitely gets a dad of the year nomination: He drove to Faribault for the funeral, drove Erin 60 miles home - even though from Faribault we were only 20 minutes away from the game site - so that she could ride the bus for potentially the last game of the season. Then, he drove the 70 miles up to the game and met me there.

Erin's volleyball season did end last night. The Mayo Spartans went down to Lakeville North in the section quarterfinals. For the six seniors and three senior managers, the end of a big part of their HS experience.

For Erin's class, the realization that they only have one more year of Mayo Volleyball. As I've said before, volleyball is a part of the "after" in our lives. It was a way for Erin's friends to pick her up and get her involved the year that Shannon passed. And now, we're down to one season left.

Time does keep marching on. Thanks, kids and mom squad, for another great VB season.










Saturday October 22, 2016


My uncle Dan passed away today. He had surgery recently to treat colon cancer and his body, ravaged through the years by a traumatic brain injury he suffered, never recovered. He was 64.

Dan was a good uncle to me growing up. Somewhere, there's a 35mm slide of me in a purple Viking snowmobile suit with Dan patiently teaching me how to skate at Wapacuta Park in Faribault. Going to Faribault to see "the uncles" was always fun as a kid.

As I grew older, Dan would come to watch me play basketball in Faribault and Owatonna. I remember him being at the State Basketball tournament to cheer me on... Goodness that was 30 years ago! At many a family occasion (as pictured above) he would dance with his nieces and nephews, of which I am the oldest.  While his life never led him in the direction to have his own kids, he was always up for a game of catch, or swimming, or whatever the nieces and nephews wanted. For this tomboy, that was perfect.

So, my mom is the oldest of the nine kids in her family (she has 8 younger brothers!), but not the first to leave this earth. That's not the way the world is suppose to work, but we know all too well, things don't always go as planned. 

I'm holding a good thought tonight for those who lost their brother: Gwen, Scott, James, Jeff, J.J. Brian, Barry, B.I. ... love to you all.

Rest in peace, Uncle Dan.

Saturday October 15, 2016



I am writing this morning from the courtyard of the Linden Row Inn in Richmond, VA. The hotel is actually comprised of 7 row houses built in the mid-1800's. Today, our nephew Brendan is marrying Hannah here in her hometown, and the O'Haras are represented well!

We spent the morning walking around Richmond, from the statehouse to the VCU campus and through the monuments of American Revolution and Civil War figures. A walk through these old streets reminds us that there are amazing places to see in this country.and that we have an amazing history. Despite what you hear on the news these days, America is already great...

The election coverage this week has been maddening and depressing. As a woman, raising a daughter, this is especially so. I am enjoying this little weekend getaway not only from Minnesota, but from the 24 hour news cycle...

Erin isn't with us, and she's suffering from some FOMO... that's Fear of Missing Out for you old people... Erin's JV volleyball team is in a two day tournament this weekend and she didn't want to leave her team hanging. She is choosing her commitment to team over fun with the cousins. Sometimes, you just can't do it all.

While Erin doesn't need taking care of, our needy pets do, so Papa Harkins is holding down the fort on Willow Lane. We're lucky to have him back as a Minnesota resident to help us out. Papa reports that Sylvie has decided she likes to snuggle with him.

So, today will be a day of family fun. A celebration of friendship and love. The way the world should be...

Sunday October 2, 2016

How can I sum up what's happened in the last four days...

Thursday, Erin got her first chance to play in a varsity volleyball match. She ended up being put in to serve during crunch time at 8-8 in the fifth game (to 15)... She served five in a row, including three aces to help the Spartans pull ahead. They went on to win the game, and all of Erin's buddies were pumped for her... she is well liked, for sure...

Friday brought homecoming festivities... a pepfest to crown a king and queen, then on to the parade and finally the football game... During the parade, the volleyball team all rode on a float together and and threw out candy...  the Mom Squad was out in full force.  A group of us volleyball moms dubbed ourselves the Mom Squad. I know it's not cool to give yourself a nickname, but we like it and we own it... So, to surprise the girls as they went by on the float, we showed up like this:


Oh, if only our kids thought we were as funny as we think we are...

Saturday morning brought the 10th Annual Brains Together For a Cure walk. As I've said before, we started supporting this home-grown organization the year Shannon was diagnosed. That makes this our 5th go round... We again felt so much support from our family and friends:


Team Shannon. Some of these people have been with us every year. Some of them are new to our gang. Some of them are a part of the Mom Squad. Erin had her volleyball teammates along side as one of them has recently watched a sibling battle a brain tumor, but thankfully, the prognosis is good.

Brains Together added a run to their event this year, and Dan had his own squad to pull him through the 10K:


Saturday was a whirlwind which involved homecoming prep... hair and makeup are not a part of my skill set! Luckily, you can pay people for such things... Erin went to the dance with her friend, John, and her pals Lexie and Hallie and their dates. The girls looked beautiful and the guys looked handsome...


                               


                                            

Need less to say, they clean up nicely! 

An added bonus this weekend was having Grandma and Papa spend some time with us. They were here for Erin's volleyball game on Thursday and could take part in the walk on Saturday morning. I'm glad they are moving back. They are closing on their townhouse in Burnsville on Tuesday, so their stint as vagabonds is coming to an end...

This morning, our day started at 6am, as Dan, Erin and I headed off to the Ryder Cup for the final day of action. Needless to say, when we put our name in the lottery to get tickets 12 months ago, we didn't know that it would be the day after homecoming!

Erin piled into the car, slept for two hours and was ready to roll... a quick shuttle ride to the course and we found ourselves on the driving range and practice green to watch the best players in the world warm up: Rory McIlroy, Patrick Reed, Henrik Stenson, Jordan Spieth, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler... we saw them all.

Erin really wanted to see Rory play, so we made our way along the ropes on hole #1. After finding a position where we could see them walk by, Erin glanced over her shoulder just in time to see... Niall Horan from One Direction. He was making his way to get inside the ropes and follow his fellow Irishman along.

Erin tapped me on the shoulder and said "Mom, there's Niall".  Erin acted quickly and went right over to him and said "Niall, can I take a picture with you?"


Niall took exactly one picture - with Erin - before he was swept away by his body guard and ducked under the ropes. For those not familiar with Niall, this is the equivalent of getting your picture taken with Paul McCartney... Erin's day was made...

We positioned ourselves on top of a picnic table where we could watch each group play the first hole. Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood... The best players in the world just kept coming...

I won't bore you with details, but we made our way around the course and managed to see some great golf. Being there to hear the roars and to cheer when we saw people making putts... Dan and I talked about how much Shannon would have loved that. She would have been all in on rooting for the Americans and celebrating the victory. Erin loved it, too, and thanked us for taking her. How cool is that?

We are grateful for the fun we have together. We are grateful for friends and family. Life is going by so fast. I want to savor every moment.

Brains Together For a Cure Walk - Sat. Oct. 1

One last reminder... tomorrow morning is the 10th annual Brains Together For a Cure walk. Weather looks great!

Erin will be walking with her volleyball teammates, I will be walking with my parents and Dan will be running with friends.

You can register on site tomorrow morning. Hope you can join us.

Here are the details:




Friday September 23, 2016

Ah, the life of a high schooler... Up early, up late, always tired, sometimes cranky... and it's only week 3 of the school year!

I tease, but Erin school year is off to a great start. She likes her classes and classmates. She's got a heavy schedule with AP Lit, AP Physics, AP Econ, Honors French and Math Analysis (Pre-calc).

Add to that, student government (affectionately known as Stud Gov), debate team and volleyball... I guess there's a reason she's up at all hours to get everything done.

Erin's JV volleyball team is fun to watch. They are a talented bunch. When your varsity if full of talented players, there's a trickle down effect to JV. Erin gets lots of playing time, which makes the games fun for all of us.


This week, Erin also got to take part in a "Superfan" day.  Each school in the Big 9 Conference got to send a group of student/athletes to meet people from other schools and promote good sportsmanship and school spirit. These students were chosen by coaches to represent Mayo HS.


Next week brings another high school milestone - Homecoming week. There will be dress up days, two home volleyball matches, a coronation pep fest, a parade, the football game and, of course, the dance.

So, the fall days speed by... From where I sit, it all looks fun.

Join us: Brains Together for a Cure Walk/Run - Oct. 1, 2016

A frost warning in northern Minnesota this morning means fall is definitely here. Still some warm, sunny days, but the cold morning air foretells the future.

One fall activity we have taken part in the past 5 years is the Brains Together For a Cure annual walk. The first year we took part, Shannon was with us...


Shannon came to the walk from hockey tryouts and after the walk, we went and watched her play soccer... 3 months later she was gone...

I have to remind myself of those details from time to time. I want to remember her in full stride like she was on that October day. At her soccer game that afternoon, she headed a ball and then looked at all of us on the sidelines and smiled her beautiful, playful smile. The girl with the brain tumor finding humor in the absurdity of her heading a soccer ball! That day was Shannon in a nutshell.

Brains Together for a Cure is a local organization and all money raised funds innovative brain tumor research here in Rochester at Mayo Clinic. 

We will take part again this year, but with a new twist -  I will walk and Dan will run. BTFAC is celebrating 10 years, and they have added a 5K/10K run this year in addition to the 5K walk.

If you are free October 1, come join us. 

We will make a $1000 donation from the Shannon O'Hara Foundation in Shannon's memory, thanks to all of your support.  Hope to see you there.

To register, visit: Brains Together For a Cure





9/11

We never visited New York before 2009, but in our handful of trips there since, we've come to love the city... Dan and I went for the US Open in 2009, then we took the girls on Spring Break 2011 - that was the last trip before the music changed with Shannon's diagnosis...


Since then, we've been back to NYC with Erin for a surprise fall weekend, Erin went there on her 8th grade class trip, and in the summer of 2015, we were there again for a family wedding. Walking the streets of Manhattan, there is a vibe like no other. And last summer, we expanded out to exploring Brooklyn and Queens... so much to see and do and experience.

Erin has interest in going to school in NYC... I hope if that's what she wants, we can make it happen...

September 11, 2001 was a normal day here at the O'Hara household. I was a stay at home mom with two small children - Shannon was 3 and Erin just 5 months old. I kissed Dan goodbye as he headed out the door to travel to Iowa. I poured myself a cup of coffee and settled in to play with the girls while the Today Show played in the background... you know what happened next...

9/11 showed us the evil that's in the world, but also the humanity. At the time, I didn't completely comprehend how this event would change the world, and change our little world as well. Dan worked for Williams Oil at the time, and just 6 weeks after 9/11, he lost his job. That holiday season, we had two small children and no jobs... our first real challenge as a couple...

Yesterday, Dan and I celebrated 22 years of marriage, which is no small feat given the storms we've endured... let's be honest, 22 years of marriage is no small feat regardless!

So, today is a day that we remember what is important: the people we love, the kindness of others, the freedom we have.

"Time flies over us, but leaves it's shadow behind." - Nathaniel Hawthorne

First Day of School 2016

And... just like that, she's a junior...


Emily, her friend since 4th grade, gave Erin a ride to school. When you are a junior in high school, you ride with your friends to school, not your mom. I get it. She need me less and less these days... as it should be...

The first day of school pictures are always so fun to see. Social media has made us voyeurs into other people's lives. In this case, it's a good thing...

I always feel a little melancholy at this time of year. Another school year is another marker of the passing of time. I felt that way even before Shannon got sick and passed away. Now, it's even more poignant as another year she didn't get to experience...

That thing about social media? Facebook has been giving Dan and I some gut shots lately. We were posting a lot of photos 5 years ago... and the Facebook algorithm is making them pop up on our feed. Yesterday's flashback was from 5 years ago, the first day of school 2011.


                         

Shannon's last first day... a not-so-gentle reminder to enjoy what's here right now. I try to remember that each and every day...

So, the 2016-17 school year is underway. Fall is such a crazy busy time for Erin with volleyball, student government planning for homecoming, debate... oh yeah, there might be some homework in there, too... 

I'm ready to support and cajole and do my mom thing to push her along... even if she needs me less and less these days, she still needs me...

Saturday September 3, 2016

Say what you want about cancer, but it sure can bring people together...

Yesterday afternoon, I watched my friend Kula ring the bell, signaling the end of her radiation treatments. Yet another hurdle in her 9 month (so far) battle against breast cancer. Her infusions of Herceptin continue for several more months, and there is reconstruction surgery down the road, but this was a big hurdle to cross...

Dan and I arrived at the Jacobsen building and had a chance to see the treatment room where the proton beam radiation took place for Kula. Some serious flashbacks for me and Dan... I couldn't help but notice the plaster radiation masks lined up on a shelf. Each one symbolizing another person fighting this damn disease...

But  yesterday wasn't about Shannon. As I said, cancer brings people together and Kula's family and friends gathered for happy hour to signal the end of radiation. A room filled with love and gratitude. When someone you love is righting for their life, you realize how small the small things really are... all that matters is love and friendship...

Labor Day Weekend is upon us... summer coming quickly to a close. Volleyball season is already in full swing. Erin's playing libero (defensive specialist) for the JV team this year and is also on the varsity roster. They had two good wins against quality teams to start the season. The best part is, it's a great group of girls who care about each other... as I said, love and friendship...

So, we'll enjoy these last few days before the school year starts... junior year... time moves so quickly sometimes...

Friday August 26, 2016

I am back in the home office today after three days spent at a retreat with all my communications colleagues. This was my first foray into team building/ideas exchange. As you would imagine... some good, some bad.

It was fun to expand beyond the usual handful of people I know and to meet other colleague from other areas. Of course, that brings with it the dreaded small talk...

We did several "ice breakers" where you chose a colleague you didn't know and introduced yourself. Those quick 10 minute encounters usually involved: which branch of communications are you in, what's your job, where do you live (colleagues from around the country were here) and... wait for it... do you have children?

Well, shit... the options are both bad when I get asked that question... I either lie and then I feel bad, or I tell them the truth and then they feel bad...  I found myself telling the truth. 

I don't want to feel bad and I don't want to deny that Shannon is my daughter. So, I would say "I have one daughter who is a junior and Mayo HS and I had another daughter who died from a brain tumor at age 13." I know that's a lot to dump on someone during a 10 minute ice breaker, but that's my truth...

On the flip side of that, I had two colleagues who sought me out and said they followed our journey or read our book and wanted me to know how much it touched them. So, I guess that felt like validation for sharing our story...

Anyway, it's fun for me to be engaged in work and it's fun to have colleagues with whom to collaborate. I guess I officially have a real job...

Erin has been busy with volleyball for the past two weeks. Weight training in the morning and practice in the afternoon. They've had a couple of scrimmages and their season starts tomorrow with their first game. 

So August will draw to a close. Life is ever changing. Erin is ready to be a junior. My parents are moving back to Minnesota. (We don't know exactly where yet, but that's definitely a separate blog post!) Time marches on and we do our best to keep up...

Tuesday August 16, 2016

I am writing from the plane over the plains... Yes, I am on vacation again... This is a short one - two days with my dear friend Teri watching the pros play tennis in Cincinnati. We've done this trip twice before and we planned it long before I got a full time job. So, I'm using a little PTO (how fun is it that I get PTO?!?) and I'm really looking forward to it.

I am blessed with some wonderful girlfriends in my life and Teri has been around a while... I watched her raise her kids and she watched me she raise mine. We've been around to see the  good and bad in each other's lives. She's a friend I can go a year without seeing and we pick up right where we left off.

Dan and Erin are being supportive of be being gone. I think it's a good idea to prove from time to time that they can survive without me!

Erin is plenty busy as volleyball season has begun. Tomorrow is schedule pickup day. How can Erin be a junior? People always told me that time goes so fast once your kids are in high school. Now I believe them...

So, I got my 8 hours of work in today (amazing what you can get done when you start at 5:30am!) and now I'm flying... and listening to music. It's fun to have the headphones on and just be in my own world.

My mix has included the Avett Brothers, Duncan Sheik, A little Depeche Mode and... Fetty Wap... I think Erin might have added that last one to the music library...

So, I am feeling happy today. Dan and I were just talking this weekend about our happiness. I would never have believed we could feel joy and contentment the way we do in this aftermath that is our life. But we are happy a lot of the time...

We had a couple of Shannon moments this week. One came from a parent who had just taken her daughter to college. Her daughter was a friend of Shannon's and the two of them were remembering Shannon as the next stage of life begins...

The second Shannon moment was from a friend of Shannon's who wanted to make a donation to the foundation before he heads off to school. What a kind gesture from a great kid. I'm sure he could have found something to spend the money on. They carry her with them...

So, today I am grateful. Grateful for family and friends. Grateful for the love and kindness of others.

"Sometimes you gotta bleed to know... that you're alive and have a soul" - Tear in my heart by twenty one pilots


Monday August 8, 2016

Lake Hubert is a special place to us... Shannon's favorite place and a place full of fun childhood memories of our girls.

When we arrived this weekend, it was a terrible sight - large, 100-year-old pine trees had fallen across the driveway, across the sidewalk blocking the lake view, and on right onto the roof of the old cabin.



Shannon's rock came close to being damaged, but she's still there... we did need to hire professionals to help us dig out...


The pros took care of the big trees and we've spent the weekend cleaning up the smaller trees and branches that we're strewn around the property.

We've had friends up for this first four days of our vacation, and it's been great. The Klees family - Marty, Heather along with their three girls Liz, Kelly and Lauren. Oh, and we added Erin and Liz's best buddy Marcus to the mix, too. The girls all know each other through volleyball and Marcus is the VB manager, so they've been peppering and talking volleyball in between eating, swimming, boating, skiing, tubing, fishing and sleeping. Meanwhile, Marty, Heather Dan and I have been doing a pretty good job of relaxing. Nice all the way around.

It's always fun to show someone new our special place at the lake. We had a rousing game of dock ball today - a volleyball-type made up O'Hara game where the rules can be somewhat subject to interpretation. It's a game that involves arguing and trash talking - perfect for this crowd!

                                            

We've reached a new stage at the lake - kids are old enough to go boating or drive into town by themselves. And yet, they still hang with us and talk about life around the campfire.  

I have to say, the best part is seeing Erin so happy. Up here. Again. She loves her friends and she is loved. These friends are some of Erin's safe people. And that makes me love them, too.


                             

Wednesday August 3, 2016

August... already...

We are gearing up for the last couple of weeks of summer vacation including a trip to Lake Hubert. We are bringing friends along this year - friends for Erin, and friends for us.

Our original plan was to have the Shives family with us this year... then cancer got in the way. Kula has reached another stage in her journey as radiation treatments started this week. 5 days a week for 5 weeks... no trip to the cabin this year... 2017 for sure...

Cancer has been on our minds these past few weeks as a longtime friend of ours was diagnosed with colon cancer which has metastasized. Michelle is our age. She was the first of DanO's high school buddies wives that I met. She was so kind to me the first night I hung out with the Bloomington Lincoln class of '81. Every guy seemed to have a nickname, and I didn't know a soul.

We've stayed in touch with them through all these years and the ups and downs we've each faced. Mark and Michelle have a long road ahead of them, but they, too are fighting the evil cancer with all they have...

In the concentric circles that make up life, the Shives, who traveled Shannon's journey with us and are now fighting their own battle, have paid it forward and helped Michelle be seen here at Mayo Clinic... Michelle started her chemo here this week... cancer sucks, but friends help...

Each of us must play the hand we are dealt. Do the best we can, while we are here. Fight our battles with everything we have...To that end, we sent off our scholarship checks this week. Two more Shannon O'Hara Foundation recipients on their way to the next stage of life. August brings college and two more kids are headed that way with a little help from our girl.

Pay it forward...




Happy Birthday Shannon

Today would have been Shannon's 18th birthday... we know that she's not here to celebrate, but how should we spend the day? After 5 years of living through her birthday without her, I still don't know the answer...

Grief and loss does change with the passage of time. It's like more things get piled on top of the wound, but you can still feel the wound underneath. Some days, the wound hurts more than others. Erin sat alone in her room last night, with nothing to do. It would have been the kind of night where you hang out with your older sister and watch a movie. Erin got the shortest straw of all...

And yet, day-to-day, Dan, Erin and I are happy. Our lives are rich and full and our friendships are deep and meaningful. We have thrived in many ways since the loss of Shannon. That's almost unbelievable to me, but it's true. Did we change? Did the people in our constellation change? Yes, in many ways the world became kinder to us...

People give us the benefit of the doubt. People admire us for how we've handled our loss. People root for us to succeed and be happy. We feel compassion from others more often than most.

In the past 5 years, we've been able to surround ourselves with people who allow us to talk about Shannon. We can speak of both our children without consequence. That is a beautiful thing. It doesn't make the wound heal completely, but it softens the edges.

Shannon as an adult... who can imagine that? I'm trying to with all my might...  Like many other milestone days that now happen without Shannon, I miss my sassy, smiling first born. But time marches on... relentlessly...

A week from today, we will head to Lake Hubert, Shannon's self-proclaimed favorite place on earth. We feel close to her there where memories of her childhood are easy to conjure up.

So, we will get through today.

Happy Birthday to you, Miss Shannon.


MGG Swings for Shannon


We had an incredible day on Monday at our 4th Annual Mayo Girls Golf Swings for Shannon event. 140 golfers enjoyed beautiful weather and a wonderful feeling of fellowship.

Each year we are humbled by the love and support of others... this year, we set a new record by raising $16,805. Truly amazing.

Putting on a tournament takes lots of time and effort. With that in mind, we have decided to run this event for two more years, seeing Erin through her high school career. The dates are:

                    Monday July 17, 2017 & Monday July 16, 2018

Don't get me wrong, all the work that goes into it is repaid many times over when I get the chance to connect with people... all because of Shannon.

So, thank you, thank you for your continued friendship, love and support. We wouldn't be where we are today without you...

Thursday July 14, 2016

It's been such an unsettled time in our country... violence and hatred and fear... I find at times like these that I want to look inward, close my circle, and hold tight to those that mean the most to me...

I don't have any answers.. just a need to acknowledge that I wish for peace, love and understanding...

As we prep for our big fundraiser next Monday, I am buoyed by those willing to give their time and money to the Shannon O'Hara Foundation. I look forward to seeing the groups out there on the golf course and I hope to have a chance to chat with all of you.

We've got some great raffle prizes again this year and our field is almost full. The Mayo Girls Golf team is doing their part to support the SOF and the girls will be out there volunteering on Monday.

So, I am looking forward to spending a day with people who care about something bigger than themselves. A group of people working together towards a common goal, supporting each other and the mission of the foundation. That will feel good...




Saturday July 9, 2016

I am happy to report that our week has improved. The water line is fixed, the giant hole in our yard is covered up, all the wet carpet and pad is gone, and fans are blowing to dry up at the basement...


New carpet is ordered, landscaper is next, and the insurance adjuster is scheduled to come out... cross your fingers...

So, this weekend we all get to take a break from things. Dan is playing in the member-guest golf tournament at Owatonna Country Club. He was a member there many years ago when Shannon was a baby... fun for him to be back with the boys.

Erin is off with her friends Lexie and Liz at Lexie's cabin... fishing, swimming, skiing and laughing...


And since we're in a holding pattern at home, Sunny and I could make the trip to northern Wisconsin to see my parents at their lake place. I haven't seen my mom since our cruise in April, so it's good to connect again. This view is better than looking at my torn-apart basement...


And, Sunny and Papa are happy to be together again...


So, after a rough week, a little R & R for each of us is just what the doctor ordered.


Thursday July 7, 2016

Well... some days are better than others...

Dan awoke yesterday to wet carpet in the basement... and it was getting worse... Erin and I were already in Cannon Falls for Erin's golf tournament.

With the help of neighbors and our contractor friend, they were able to figure out that the leak was from the water line to the well... somewhere under our house, the line has sprung a leak. Dan and friends couldn't empty the wet vacs fast enough to keep up. We had to shut down our shared well, leaving three neighbors without water.

Thein Well Co. came out on an emergency and the digging began...


At the same time, everything had to be moved out of the guest room (Shannon's room) and Erin's room to tear out the carpet and closet organizers, which were ruined...


One of my first thoughts was about all the Shannon stuff I had saved. Thank goodness the keepsakes I had stored on her closet floor were in  in plastic bins on her closet floor. Nothing got ruined... 

Part of the process of clearing out the room meant moving all of the stuff I have saved... Her box with school papers she wrote, her soccer and hockey team pictures...

And, the clothing of hers I kept... her favorite t-shirts, and, of course, the all important hockey jacket that she wore with so much pride... I couldn't help but pull it out and look at how small it was...


Uff da...

We had a temporary water source last night, and today the well company returns to try and thread a new pipe through the old pipe. If that doesn't work, more digging is ahead to create a new line. 

Carpet will get replaced, stuff that got damaged is just stuff. A pain in the ass, but not the end of the world... hoping today is a better day!

Friday July 1, 2016

It's a holiday weekend and Dan and I are currently working from a Caribou Coffee shop in Grand Rapids, MN. Today is a good day to have a job you can do from anywhere...

Erin and her friend Lexie are off at volleyball camp at the University of MN - Duluth. 48 hours on campus, and about half of the time is spent on the volleyball court... should be a fun experience for them and maybe even improve their volleyball skills...

Dan and I dropped them off in Duluth and made the trek over to Grand Rapids to visit my family on Pokegama Lake. Always good to catch up with Jeff, Mary Jane and their crew. They are salt of the earth kind of people... and, Jeff can tell a story with the best of them! Lots of laughs last night...


My cousins Nathan and Ryan and Ryan's family came over for dinner. Ryan and his wife have three boys under 5... highly entertaining! Fun to watch Deyton and Wiley play on the beach and drive the kid-sized gator around the yard. And, I got some time holding baby Tate...nice...

Today we will head back to Duluth to hook up with Lexie's parents Shaun and Kerri for a day on Canal Park. Then Saturday we get to watch Erin at the end of camp tournament before we head home for the rest of the holiday.

Life is good. Happy 4th of July, Everyone!

Friday June 24, 2016

Some highlights from this week:

Erin won a golf tournament... Volleyball training is in full swing, day and night... We had a live chipmunk in our house...

I am writing this morning from the shadows of the University of St. Thomas. After dropping Erin off at her leadership camp up at University of Northwestern in St. Paul, I made my way to my old stomping grounds... I needed a place to do a little work, so I found a familiar spot.

Hard to believe it's been 25 years since I graduated from college...  we have some interns working in Public Affairs this summer. They are oh so young...

Erin's summer is moving along nicely - a little golf, a little volleyball and lots of socializing... she sometimes is just going out as I'm going to bed! Erin has plans the next three weekends - leadership camp, volleyball camp and a trip to her friend's cabin. Oh, it's good to be a teenager... sometimes...

Back to the most exciting part of my week... Sylvie has figured out how to time the lag in our screen door.. she sneaks in and out as we come in through our garage. Sometimes we don't realize even that she's come back in the house...

I was working at the dining room table on Wednesday as Dan went out to his car. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Sylvie scurrying across the floor... and then again... and then again...

When I finally paid attention, I realized she had brought a live chipmunk in our house.  She was letting it go, then catching it, letting it go, catching it... apparently, Sylvie just wanted to play.

I screamed and told Dan to come quick... about that time, the chipmunk sought refuge behind the upright piano. Dan and I pulled the piano out... but no chipmunk... it had crawled up into the back of the piano!

Dan shined the flashlight, we located the rodent and I grabbed it, ran to the door and set it free... let's just say I'm going to pay closer attention to the f%*&!#@ cat as she comes and goes...

So, that's what qualifies as excitement in my world...

Happy Friday, everyone!

Friday June 17, 2016

Well, today feels like the first day of summer for me. One of my work duties these past three months has been to plan a celebration for Mayo Clinic Radio's 25th Anniversary. The party was last night, and I'm happy to say it was a success! Mayo Clinic leadership attended and lots of former guests of the program showed up as well. I had lots of help, and it went off without a hitch.

Working with Mayo Clinic Radio is now the great majority of my job. I write copy and help produce the weekly show that features Mayo Clinic experts sharing their knowledge. In the near future, we're going to be live broadcasting via Facebook live and producing video podcasts for You Tube. Exciting times to say the least...

So now that the radio event is over...  it's time to work on planning another... for the Shannon O'Hara Foundation!

Our annual golf tournament is just a month away. We'd love to have a full field of foursomes (how's that for alliteration!). You don't have to be a "good" golfer - we usually even give a prize for last place :)

We've got some great raffle prizes and it's a really fun day. All proceeds from the event are split between the Mayo Girls Golf program and the Shannon O'Hara Foundation. We hope supporters and friends like you can join us.

Here's the link to the registration form: MGG Swings for Shannon registration form




Class of 2016


Dan and I attended graduation yesterday for the class of 2016 and it was just as I imagined it would be... touching and heart wrenching at the same time... her chair sat empty with a single yellow rose laid upon it...

The class president's speech was titled "Screenshot the Little Moments". He reminded his classmates to not just look to the future, but to remember the here and now, this moment, and all the little moments that move you ahead in life. He shared with his class that this was a lesson he learned from Shannon...

He spoke about being Shannon's friend in 7th grade and how she was upset about the acne that her cancer treatment was giving her. He remembered that she told him "It could be so much worse..."

Dan and I sitting in the audience cried and smiled as Shannon's classmate captured her essence - she appreciated each and every moment she got, even when she knew her future would not be long.

I can picture Shannon and her excitement when it all began. We have the video of smiling, bright-eyed Shannon jumping up and down on the way to the bus stop saying "First day of school! First day of school!"

I am feeling some closure today as I look back on these kids and their journey from kindergarten to graduation. We had hugs and tears with Shannon's friends after graduation. I felt her there with us, through the eyes and souls of these kids.

Dan and I had the opportunity to speak to the class at their graduation practice. What I really wanted to say to them, was thank you:

To the class of 2016, first off, congratulations. I remember the day you started kindergarten, and I’ve watched you grow and struggle and earn your way to this momentous occasion.

Secondly, I’d like to say thank you. Thank you for remembering Shannon. Thank you for supporting the Shannon O’Hara Foundation. It was a lovely tribute that was included in the yearbook.

Thank you also for including us in your lives in these last 4 years since Shannon passed away. So many of you were quick with a smile every time you saw us. You stopped to say hi, even if you didn’t know what else to say. You showed us compassion, a trait that reminded us of Shannon. Remember that compassion. It will serve you well. It was easy to be compassionate to us - you knew our story. But, as you go forward, remember that people are fighting battles all the time. Give them the benefit of the doubt.

For those who knew Shannon, when we hear your names called and you walk across the stage, we will remember a Shannon memory with you. Whether it’s from Bamber Valley, Willow Creek, or youth soccer or hockey, I have memories of so many of you. And they’re good memories for me, because they make me think of Shannon.

As you go forward into the working world or on to school, I hope you carry a bit of Shannon’s legacy with you. Be kind. Be a good teammate. Laugh. Persevere.

In the end, people will remember you not for what you achieved, but for the kind of person you were. Shannon didn’t get to reach this graduation day, but a little piece of her is here in your memories. For that, I am grateful.

I will leave you with my favorite quote that I feel describes not only Shannon, but those of you who have helped me, Dan and Erin through the past four years.

It comes from the poet Maya Angelou: 

“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

We will never forget how you made us feel. Thank you for letting us be a part of the class of 2016.

Wednesday June 8, 2016

Today is Erin's last official day of her sophomore year. She's off taking two finals this morning, then one online final to complete tonight and she's done. This week also brought the end of the golf season. While the section tournament was a struggle, she had a great year.  It's so hard to believe that she's only got two years left...

So, a big week around the O'Hara household. Add to that, my friend Kula had surgery yesterday and all went well. Double mastectomy complete, tissue expanders in place, and now it's time to heal before radiation. The best news of all - pathology showed no evidence of cancer in lymph nodes or breasts. Thank god...

Erin and I visited her in the hospital last night. Erin needed a study break and needed to see Kula. It was also a good reminder that there are worse things in life that taking your American Studies final! We had a good laugh about that...

So, Erin will be relieved when all is said and done today. Dan will return home tomorrow from an entire week away. Some fun, some work, but that's a long time to be gone... I hope Sylvie remembers him or he'll be crushed... he loves that cat!

Now I am mentally preparing myself for the weekend ahead as the class of 2016 graduates on Saturday. It is, of course, not how I imagined it would be. And yet, it does somehow feel like I right of passage for us, too. Shannon's class is graduating, even if she's not there.

My hope is that watching those kids cross the stage and hearing their names will spark happy memories for me... memories of Shannon... school projects and sports teams and friendships... the names of these kids are tied to some little piece of my little girl which is why I want to go to graduation.

Any chance I get to connect with the days when Shannon lived is a chance worth taking... so, here's to you, class of 2016. Glad you have been a part of my life.

Memorial Day 2016

It's been a wonderful weekend for us as we prep for the final two weeks of the school year. Our weekend involved:

  • Social outings for Erin each night
  • Dan running a half marathon
  • Graduation open house for Shannon's good friends Anna and Connor
  • Flower pots and landscaping work for Jen
  • Practice round for section golf tournament
  • Group decades project almost complete for Erin (They are still in the basement working on this as I write at 10pm!)
Dan ran his race in a Shannon shirt... hell most of our wardrobes are Shannon gear! He was pleased with his race, but mostly just happy to be done. The Med City marathon signals the end of his training... and the beginning of the "all golf, all the time" season...

Erin played a practice round at Cannon Falls Golf Club today. That's where the section meet will be this Thursday and (hopefully) next Monday.  I hope the girls can play their best when it counts.

The graduation party for Anna and Connor was nice. We like them and their families and it was important to us to be there. Of course, it's poignant, but we were able to remember that it's not about us. Our friends are sensitive to us and that feels good. We had fun... checked that box...

So today, I was planning to watch tennis and surf the web... but rain in Paris canceled the French Open today, so I tackled some planting, replacing a dead bush, trimming, mulching and planting my flower pots. It was a beautiful day and I got to work up a sweat doing some manual labor.

So, a good weekend all around. Sunshine, friends and family... life is good...