Susan WonderStone's Blog


The Great Instigator
July 30, 2015, 4:05 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

2 days ago, I posted on Facebook, “Anyone want to hike Mt Dickerman tomorrow?” I got a response. We agreed to meet at her house at 7. I was a little late. Totally my fault. My gall bladder decided it was going to have a secondary dump about 30 minutes after my coffee enema. Yes, even on hiking days, I still get my treatments in. Being in the car, especially in someone else’s car when your gall bladder decides to dump is not a pleasant scenario. I’m glad it happened when it did. We got to the trailhead at 8:45am. All the other hikes I’ve done in the last 2 months, I’ve gone with a friend who doesn’t seem to get to the trailheads before noon.

I’ve hiked Mt Dickerman several times. I knew it was going to be tough, but also knew I would keep going and not only get to the top of the mountain, but enjoy it and get back to the car.

Mt Dickerman’s peak is at 5,760 feet. The top offers views of Mt Baker, Glacier Peak, Mt Rainier, all of the local Cascade mountains and thru the haze, glistening Puget Sound waters. A 4,000′ elevation gain in 4.1 miles is steep for me and a great cardio workout. My new friend hiked slower than my normal hiking partner, which made things a lot easier for me.Normally, he’s speed racer, then I have to stop and rest to breathe. I think we wait longer than if we just walked slower to begin with.  There weren’t a lot of people on the trail, which I like.  It frustrates me when people who appear less physically fit than me, pass me on the trail.

Mt Dickerman trail head



Naked at Vesper Lake
July 23, 2015, 12:52 am
Filed under: Hiking

I had a coworker and another woman, both on the same day, tell me how beautiful Vesper Peak is. It was already at the top of the list for hiking choices the next day. The trailhead is on the Mountain Loop Highway in Granite Falls, 3 miles past the Big Four Ice Caves. Big Four Ice CavesRecently, a group of people were buried in the ice when the ice cave collapsed. One person died. As sad as it is/was, all of the risk taker hikers who’ve been to the Big Four, have also been inside. They are closed indefinitely now, but there were signs warning people to not go inside the ice cave. It’s no different than cancer or bankruptcy…nobody thinks it’s going to happen to them. 5 years ago, a family was there, but not inside.  They were quite far, compared to how close I get, every time I’ve gone. If I’m remembering correctly, a giant chunk of ice broke off and before they could get out of the way, the little girl was crushed. I took this picture on June 7, this year.  We rode the motorcycle and did the hike wearing long pants, jackets and carrying our helmets.  Easy hike!

Back to Vesper Peak. The trailhead says Sunshine Mine and Headlee Pass. That’s the trip report I should have read! Either I wasn’t paying attention, or I skipped vital parts, but I found nothing on the Vesper Peak or Vesper Lake trip reports telling about the REAL details of this hike.

While I was lying on the picnic table, waiting for my hiking buddy to get his backpack situated, I stopped everyone who was finishing the hike and asked them how it was. The 4 people who passed, said it was too hot and they only went to the lake. “Wimpy, wimpy, wimpy” I thought to myself. “We are going to Vesper Peak!”

I dont know if my L-1 burst fracture hinders me or if it’s just an excuse. I don’t know if 3 weeks of cancer treatments 3 months ago hinders me, or if it’s just an excuse. I don’t know if eating under 30 grams of carbohydrates per day hinders me or it’s just an excuse.

That hike tried to kill me! Right from the beginning, tree roots crisscrossed across the dry and dusty trail. Less than a hundred yards in, balancing a fallen tree is the only dry way across the creek. More tree roots. Another fallen tree to get across the creek at a higher elevation. The trail was steep and dry, so loose rocks and dirt rolled down the hill with almost every step. Once out of the woods, we noticed large areas of smashed down vegetation, as though animals had been walking off the trail. Don’t they know the rules?!! The trail runs up between 2 major peaks. It felt like we were in a bowl, with giant mountains on 3 sides, like a horseshoe. The first quarter of the trail is obvious. After crossing the creek for a third time, the trail is a large boulder field. People have build cairns on both sides of the trail, showing the way. It wasn’t long into that section when one of the rocks I stepped on shifted. I tried to flex my back to protect it, but it decided to go into spasm instead. I leaned over to stretch it out and continued on. 2 guys on their way down were warning me how treacherous the hike was. Jack was challenging himself and going different routes along the boulders. When I told the guys I broke my back 8 years ago and had already tweaked it, they insisted I give Jack no other options than to turn around if my back got worse. They apparently didn’t realize I didn’t need that type of coaching. They needed to be telling Jack!

P1020881 P1020882 P1020883 P1020856 P1020855 P1020854 P1020818 P1020817 P1020816 P1020815 P1020814 P1020813 P1020812 P1020799 P1020798 P1020797 P1020790 P1020789 P1020788 P1020787 P1020786 The dry way over the creek

Towards the top of Headlee Pass, the switchbacks are gnarly! It’s steep, loose gravel and dirt. Every few seconds, piles of pebbles rolled down the hill out from other people’s feet. Because my doctor installed flexible plastic rods in my back, I am extra careful, trying to stay upright. He didn’t know how strong they would be and I prefer to never have another surgery!  I saw a girl in her 20’s fall and slide about 2 feet down the mountain. Shortly after, a man in his 60’s slipped. A group of 4 couples, all in their 60’s, headed down, almost sliding on purpose and skipping across the boulders. They had gone to the Vesper Lake AND Vesper Peak. They made it look so easy!

By the time we got to Headlee Pass, it was already after 5pm, the time we had decided we would head back. Neither one of us wanted to hike it in the dark. We were told that the Lake was only about 300 yards away from the pass, so we decided to continue to the lake. We needed to eat and with most of the trail in the 90’s, I wanted to get in the lake to cool off. Vesper Lake is beautiful!

There were 6 people at the closest part across the lake from us. Some of them were in the water and the others on the boulders nearby. They were talking, laughing and splashing each other with the water.  A few minutes later, 2 more hikers showed up, then 4 more. I couldn’t help but notice all the people in the water were wearing clothes. This was the first lake I’ve hiked to where there were other people there. It’s an alpine lake at 5,200 feet elevation. WHY are people wearing clothes in the lake?! I wanted to swim naked! It seemed a little awkward, taking all my clothes off when everyone else was covered up. I asked Jack if he cared either way. He said “Do whatever you want to do!”

He just wanted to eat and didn’t want to swim. I figure he doesn’t want me to see him naked. I took my hat, shorts and hiking boots off. I still had my shirt and bike shorts on. I walked to the edge of the lake, in search for a more private swimming area. It’s a circle. Almost every area of the lake can be seen from every other area. I found a large boulder in between me and the other swimmers. I took everything off except my thong. The poor thing was soaked from sweat and stretched out to fit a woman 3 times my size from lifting my legs to climb to get there!

The water was so clear! I could see the sand sloped down, then there was an obvious drop off. I couldn’t tell how deep it was. It looked about 3 feet deep, but I knew it could be much deeper. I had a pair of rubber shoes on, wanting to get out without cutting my feet on the rocks or logs along the shore and under the water. I slowly walked into the water.  My foot slipped on my second step and with a loud splash, was up to my neck in the water. I started treading water. The giant thong made it feel like I was swimming naked.  Across the lake, the melting ice sounded like a waterfall, cascading down the rocks and into the water. IT WAS COLD! I rinsed the dust and sweat off my face and hair. I only swam a couple minutes, when I decided to get out.  Since the cancer started, my body temperature doesn’t seem to regulate itself like other people’s. I didn’t want my body temperature getting too low to warm myself up.  I swam to the shore and tried to climb out. What I thought was sand, was more like slippery silt.  my rubber shoes weren’t gripping.  I kept slipping back into the cold water. Jack is all about wanting to rescue someone with a rope, although I haven’t ever gone thru his pack to see if he brings one. I was NOT going to need to be rescued!  After the fourth try, I started treading water again. I went farther into the water to see the other swimmers.  Sure enough, they were all still in the same place.  I watched them walk into the water, so I knew I could get out by them.  Have you seen my pictures?  The other girls in the water, were not shaped like me! I didn’t want their guys getting in trouble for staring, but it seemed the only way out of the water was to swim over by them and walk out. No.  I was going to try again where I was at.  I got closer to the edge and grabbed onto a boulder.  I still couldn’t get traction with my feet, so carefully got closer to the rock, and lifted myself up, then higher onto the rock.  I lifted my leg onto the same rock and moved my hands to another rock that was mostly on the shore.  I wanted to get out without scraping my nipples or any other important skin off on the rocks. I was successful and very happy that nobody was behind me as I was bent over and had both feet and both hands on the rock with my butt being my highest point. The little struggle probably only took 2 minutes, but my heart rate was up.  The swimmers were at least 30 yards away and by that point, I didn’t care.  I scooped up my clothes and started to walk back to where Jack was enjoying his snack. As soon as I emerged from the giant boulder, the talking, laughing and swimming all came to a screeching halt.  It sounded like I was there all by myself.  I felt ALL their eyes on me! I thought about looking back and waving, but watched where I was going and went back to my backpack instead.  Apparently, they didn’t want Jack to see them looking, so stopped as I approached him. I asked him if he’d take pictures before we headed back down the mountain.  We went back to where I had already gotten in the water. We were talking and no longer paying attention to the other people around. I was more graceful getting into and out of the water this time.  We took a few pictures, then headed back to our stuff to get ready to head back down the mountain. As I got dressed and Jack got his stuff ready, we were talking about filtering more water to fill our water bladders. We didn’t think we were talking loud, but a guy on the other side answered my question. I guess he wasn’t embarrassed to talk to a naked woman.

Naked in Vesper Lake

Naked in Vesper Lake

It was about 7:30 and we were just starting our descent. Jack was stressed out that we were going to be hiking in the dark.  I didn’t want to either, but I know getting in the cold water helped fix my body temperature from the hot hike to the top. About 10 minutes out, I slipped on the dirt.  My left leg went forward and my right leg bent back, twisting my knee and ankle. PLF went thru my head!  PLF is Parachute Landing Fall – using lessons learned in skydiving to benefit me now!  I leaned to the left (away from the 500 foot cliff) to land on my butt cheek instead of my tailbone.  I continued sliding, but only about a foot down the trail.  I sat motionless for several seconds.  Jack crouched down and grabbed my backpack to prevent me from sliding more. I straightened out my right leg, but sat for about 10 seconds to make sure I wasn’t hurt, or trying to stand up dizzy. I always wear knee wraps when I’m descending a mountain. I’m sure the knee wrap prevented my knee from getting hurt! I was okay so we continued down the mountain. I was overly cautious after the fall, but continued steadily. Headlamps have been our friends on every hike we’ve done! The loose rocks, gravel and barely visible trail on the boulder field were all more difficult in the dark. When we got to the meadow, I realized the reason Jack was so concerned about walking down in the dark was because on the way up, another hiker told us the smashed vegetation was from bears walking thru it. I didn’t bring it up.

Around 10:30 pm, we came to a fork in the road. Neither one of us remembered it. We took the trail to the left.  As we got close to a creek, the trail changed.  It looked like a 10 foot dirt wall with tree roots to use as a ladder to get down to the creek. Once again, I was thankful for my headlamp! We went back and took the trail to the right.  It wasn’t much better. Neither of us remembered either trail. We went back to the fork to look at the GPS and try to figure out where we were and where we needed to go.  The trails were so close together, we couldn’t tell if either or neither were the trails we needed. We didn’t have gear to camp out, but thankfully, it was still warm. I was starting to think we would be sleeping there and leaving after sunrise. I think Jack was thinking about potential bears and other critters. He was determined to find the trail. He has a really bright flashlight and kept shining it in different areas trying to find the trail on the other side of the creek. He climbed over rocks, a fallen tree and over the creek. He found the trail and yelled for me to come across.  Once we started moving again, we checked the GPS.  We were on the right trail, headed toward the car. The rest of the hike was uneventful.

I made it up the mountain, swam naked in an alpine lake and made it safely back down the mountain.  Another amazing day, challenging the limits of my body and mind. Life is good!

Love, gratitude and blessings

~Susan



Quick Thinking
July 8, 2015, 11:35 pm
Filed under: Laughing, Toastmasters | Tags:

I originally joined Toastmasters in 1995. Toastmasters is a speaking club. You get to prepare and give speeches and get feedback from the other members. I had already been competing in bodybuilding competitions and thought that since my dad had been pestering me since middle school to be a speaker, it was time. After all, bodybuilding posing suits are made out of about 6 inches of fabric. If I could be on stage posing and doing a routine in that tiny suit, hiding almost nothing, in front of lots of people and a camera later playing on ESPN, I could speak!

I completed my first 10 speeches, then took about 15 years off. I’m back in the same club I originally joined, “Early Opinions”, with 2 of the original members. One of my favorite things about the weekly meetings is “Table Topics”. The person in charge asks each person a different question. You get to stand up and answer the question in 1-2 minutes. You don’t have time to prepare an answer. Immediately, it’s show time.10991501_10206061689687293_807100334396687224_o

I’ve been told that the ketogenic diet helps with brain function, along with the multitudes of other things it helps. I have no way of knowing if my diet has anything to do with it, but my thinking has gotten quicker over the years.

Earlier today, my phone rang. It was from an unavailable number. Since I started going to Mexico in 2006, I usually answer the phone “Bueno”.

A man said “Susan, do you know who I am?”

“Do you shave your balls?” I asked.

After a short pause, he said “Ummmmm…yeah.”

“No. I don’t know who you are.” I said and hung up the phone.

He didn’t call back and I have no idea who he was.

I’m still laughing!

Love, gratitude and blessings!
~Susan



No longer afraid
July 7, 2015, 3:35 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

I used to be afraid of the water. Several years ago, I decided to face that fear and bought 2 sit on top kayaks. I was hoping to get someone to go with me. It’s rare. My hiking buddy was going to go with me this am, but his sense of time is lost somewhere. Instead of bailing, I put one kayak back in the garage and left for the water. It’s only a mile down the hill. I’m so glad I went! It looks overcast today because of the fires on Vancouver island and winds out of the northwest. It was still really bright. I saw fish jumping from the water and heard a harbor seal or sea lion, but every time I turned in the direction of its breath, it went back under the water. image

Bald eagle

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Too squinty to open my eyes

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Seaweed

I’m writing this on my phone, while rocking on the swing master, having a Gerson coffee. The first picture is a jet I’d love to fly in! Chips Ahoy is a barge Boeing was loading with railroad cars. I don’t know what’s in them, but it reminded me of putting chips ahoy cookies, Nacho cheese Doritos, Bologna and mustard on Mrs Baird’s butter top bread. I loved it! I’m guessing it would make me puke if I ate it now!
Love, gratitude and blessings,
~Susan



07/07/07
July 7, 2015, 12:38 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Yes, you read that right.  Saturday, July 7th, 2007.

Eight years ago, today.

I broke my back in a skydiving accident.  The doctor and nurses in the emergency room told me I’d probably never walk again.  I’m not sure how they thought that would help me.  I ignored them and kept saying over and over “Thank you God, I can move my toes!”  Another doctor came in after they got the results back from the CT scan.  I was afraid it would be an orthopedic surgeon and tell me I would need surgery. I didn’t know there were worse options.  He was a neurosurgeon.  He explained that I had an L-1 burst fracture. I told him “You do not have my permission to touch any cancer you find in my body.”

I had been doing alternative treatments for 3 years, following my terminal diagnosis of recurrent metastatic melanoma.  It had spread to my liver and lymphatic system. He showed me the CT scan.  My liver no longer had any spots on it.  He didn’t see anything.  At first I didn’t believe him.  I had never heard of anyone getting rid of cancer in their liver.  He showed me the CT scan films, pointing to the views of my liver.  I thought about how even though it had been 3 years, I did it! If I could eliminate cancer from my liver, I would recover from the little back issue.  I told him to get me a back brace or whatever he needed to do because I had another jump scheduled at 1pm.

He laughed at me.L1 Burst fracture

He explained that I wouldn’t be going anywhere.  But, my car and my phone and my other stuff was at the airport!  I would not be able to move on my own for 3 days.  He had to order a special drill to drill into T-12 and L-2, to secure the screws that would build a cage around the broken vertebrae. They would have me on my side and if I needed to roll over, 3 people would come in and using a sheet under me, would roll me over to my other side.  He told me how important it was that I don’t try to move on my own.  At that point, my spinal cord wasn’t damaged.  Neither he, nor I wanted to mess that up!  I suck at sitting still.  I had no idea how I was going to lay still for 3 days!  I decided to focus on “Thank you God, I can move my toes.”  It wasn’t long until I was so drugged, I didn’t care about much. It only took tiny movements for the pain to skyrocket and remind me I physically couldn’t move on my own.

He didn’t tell me until after the surgery, and after they made me walk with a back brace and a walker, that he had no idea if I would be able to walk after he did his handiwork. He had never seen an injury like mine without paralysis.  L-1 had been partially compressed and broken into many pieces.  The part that usually sticks out in the back, he had to break off with pliers, to attempt to get some of the broken pieces out.  He was concerned that if he left them in, my spinal cord could still get damaged.  He did have to leave a few pieces, but my awesome body had mostly dissolved them by the 2nd CT scan 6 weeks later. Aside from the broken vertebrae, the muscles got ripped off of my ribs on the left side. He didn’t do anything about that.  He said they should re attach on their own. They did, but the pain from that seemed to be worse than the surgery.

Normal people would never skydive again.

I’m not normal.

I got my skydiving A license in 2013 and to celebrate overcoming the accident and still being alive, I made my 39th jump on the Fourth of July (Saturday). Since I hadn’t jumped since September, I had 8 quizzes, an hour long class and had to jump with a coach.  I was nervous, but not as scared as when I first came back after the accident.  2 years ago, I learned how adrenaline affects blood sugar and the ketogenic diet.  Not pretty.  I now take my blood sugar monitor and check to make sure I know where I’m at and don’t pass out.  I’m usually pretty good at knowing where I am, but being scared, anxious and I’m sure other emotions, increase my adrenaline and blood sugar.  When I was getting my license, there were times I’d leave the house at 80 and after a jump be at 135 without eating anything.  Since I eat less than 30grams of carbohydrates every day, I have to stay on top of my fat consumption or it drops faster than it went up. If I’m not paying enough attention to it, I get too low to realize I’m messed up.  Not a fun place to be!

My jump was great!  Sure, there are things I can improve, but I was aware of my altitude at all times, did what I needed to do to pass my re-currency and entered my landing pattern at the right time.  There was a large suv in the field as I approached.  I avoided it and landed a lot closer to the “X” than I expected.  As soon as I landed, I realized someone was being carried and loaded into the suv.  I was thankful it was a personal vehicle and not an aid car, but the first guy out of the plane broke his ankle.  I’m glad it wasn’t worse. I’m also glad it wasn’t me.

I hope if he was as excited about getting his license as I was in 2007, he comes back and keeps jumping!  Nothing makes me feel more alive!

Love, gratitude and blessings

~Susan



It’s the little things

Be Happy, Be well! I say that a lot! I feel like the happier I am, the healthier I will be! Seeing the beauty of nature is at the top of my list of things that make me so full of gratitude and happy to be alive! I used to have “feeling loved” at the top, but realize that feeling love from someone other than myself puts my happiness in someone else’s hands. Feeling loved by me is a given, based on the amazing things I do to treat myself! I wouldn’t call myself selfish, but definitely love myself and put my needs first.  Just like on a commercial airplane, put your oxygen on first before helping others.  If you aren’t capable, you can’t help anyone else. It’s the little things.

Sometimes, seeing the beauty in nature is done by walking, sometimes flying thru the air at 120mph without a vehicle, followed by a canopy ride to the ground. The smiles last on my face for days!

Yesterday, my hiking buddy and I carried out our plans for a day hike to the Olympic peninsula. A 12 mile hike. I hadn’t done 12 mile hike, but was determined to complete it. I didn’t know what the weather was going to be like or if we’d be in the forest or the sun, so decided to make sunscreen. I haven’t used sunscreen since my terminal diagnosis 11 years ago, but didn’t want to fry myself being outside for that long.Homemade sunscreen  I melted beeswax, cocoa butter, coconut oil and red palm oil. Next I added non nano zinc oxide powder.  Once everything was mixed together, I added essential oils of eucalyptus, lemongrass, rosemary, clove and lavender.  I figure as long as I’m going to use sunscreen, might as well add oils that repel mosquitoes and other biting bugs.  The trail reports all mentioned swarms of bugs.  Cameron always says mosquitoes smell the cancer and fly away instead of biting me.  I’m okay with that, but since I’m hoping there’s no more cancer, I decided the oils were a great addition.  The bright color is from the red palm oil.

I applied it before I left my house.  I discovered that I forgot the part in my hair, while we sat for 40 minutes with the sunroof open, waiting for the Hood Canal Bridge to go down.  There didn’t seem to be a reason the bridge was open, but we were happy we were finally able to cross it and continue to our hike. It’s the little things.

Hiking while on a ketogenic diet is definitely a challenge.  “Hiking” foods are almost all carbohydrates.  Since I eat less than 30 grams of carbohydrates each day, a lot of planning goes into my food. Most of the fats I eat need to be refrigerated. Proteins need to be refrigerated.  A bag of mixed nuts is nowhere near enough calories for a 12 mile hike up to 6,200 feet elevation in 91 degree heat.  Being on a trail, out of cell phone range, there are no back up plans. If something happens and I can’t come home as soon as planned, I need to have extra. All this means is – my pack is HEAVY! Let me know if you want to know what I ate.

Mt Townsend. We started hiking at 2pm.  The drive, the ferry wait, waiting for the Hood Canal Bridge, stopping at the grocery store to get more food…all took longer than expected. We knew we had to turn around by 6pm if we were going to make the last ferry. Around 6pm, we made the decision to keep hiking up and make the 4 hour drive around the water instead. I am SO glad we did! We hike a lot in the dark, so seeing the sunset and the moon rise were more important. We saw rhododendrons, interesting trees, different mosses and lichen, wildflowers, butterflies, bunnies, a deer, chipmunks and heard many bugs and birds we had never heard before. The views were spectacular! I took 174 pictures with my camera and more with my phone. The views improved with  every switchback!  Before even getting to the top, we could see Mt Saint Helens, Mt Rainier, Glacier Peak, Mt Baker and everything in between!  Seattle was visible, as were the Edmonds-Kingston ferries and the Mukilteo-Clinton ferries.  Once we saw those, we realized we could see the Everett Boeing plant.  I live about a mile away (as the crow flies.) Whidbey island looked bigger than it does from 13,000 feet above it. The San Juan islands, Vancouver Island and the Pacific Ocean were all visible below. The surrounding Olympic mountains were all so different from each other.  On the tops, there are jagged edges, giant boulders, a little snow, some have trees, some don’t.

It was really windy at the top and the temperature had dropped to 62 degrees. I was sweaty and cold.  While my hiking buddy wandered off to find a place to dig a hole and poop, I took my clothes off and played with the self timer on the camera.  I had a hard time getting to my desired location and posing before the camera took the pictures.  Halfway up the mountain, I took some topless photos. Before you notice I’m not exactly contest ready, I’m excited that my muscles and definition are beginning to return. I would’ve stripped down to my thong, but 2 hikers coming down the mountain announced their presence, slightly shocked to see my girls exposed! I put on 3 long sleeve layers, long pants and my knee wraps to stay warm until my friend returned and for the hike down.  There weren’t any places “200 feet away from the trail” on the ridgeline, so I have no idea how far he went before he found his potty place. The wispy clouds started appearing about an hour before sunset. I turned on my meditation music and had 20 minutes of gratitude. As the sun was setting, the sky was so many colors!  Pink, purple, lavender, fuchsia and orange kissed the sky.  The sun was vibrant fuchsia. The field on the west side appeared golden instead of the green we saw a few minutes earlier.  We were in awe!  We kept taking pictures as it set.  Within about 2 minutes of the sun completely setting, we looked to the east and the moon was rising.  It was the same fuchsia.  The pictures don’t do it justice! There was a reflection of the moon in the water in front of Seattle and another reflection on the west side of Bainbridge Island. A few minutes later, another reflection in the Hood Canal.  We put on our headlamps and headed down the mountain.

I am so truly blessed to be able to see such beauty!  Only 10 weeks ago, I was coming home from 3 weeks of cancer treatments.  10 days later, I was in so much pain, I didn’t think I’d wake up if I went to sleep. Yesterday, I was on top of the world! It’s the little things!

 

A picture is worth a thousand words…

Love, gratitude and blessings

~Susan

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Do as I say, not as I do.
July 1, 2015, 12:38 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

What are you teaching your kids? Most of us, at some point in our lives heard “Do as I say, not as I do.” I knew a long time before I ever got pregnant that I did not want to be ‘that’ parent! My kid was just over 2 years old when my dad died. His dad and I had already split up, so the two of us took a midnight flight to Texas and arrived the next morning. My mom and brother picked is up at the airport. Before we left I asked Cameron if he was hungry. He shook his head no. We slept the entire flight, so I wasn’t sure of he was tired or really wasn’t hungry, so I asked again. And once again, he shook his head no. His dad and I agreed before he was born, we wouldnt take him to fast food places, but it would be almost an hour before we got to my mom’s house. Not wanting to listen to whining, I explained how long it would be and asked again. He ignored my question with an irritated glare. (At that particular moment, he looked just like his dad!)
Shortly after leaving DFW, you can see the McDonald’s sign off in the distance. Cameron was in the back seat with my mom, and I was in the front, with my brother driving. Cameron hadn’t said anything yet, so they didn’t think he could talk. I heard a gasp out of him. I turned to look. He was pointing at the McDonald’s sign. I promptly started my rant, telling him we weren’t stopping because he said he wasn’t hungry and he would have to wait until we got to grandma’s house. Very loud and clear, he said “MOM! YOU.PISS.ME.OFF!!” Im sure my mouth was wide open, with my brain thinking WTF do I say to that?! My brother and mom were trying not to let him know they were laughing. At that point, all I could do is laugh. I didn’t remember ever saying that, but since he had been between 22/7 and 24/7 in my care for his first 2 years, I couldn’t blame it on anyone else. I’m glad it happened so young, because it reinforced my desire to not be the “do as I say, not as I do” parent.
Throughout the years, I did my best explaining things to Cameron. I want to understand and know ‘why’ things are the way they are and wanted him to know too! He was 3 when I was first diagnosed with melanoma. Since my dad died of kidney cancer and my brother had lifetime amounts of chemo and radiation and a stem cell transplant for lymphoma, I researched alternatives extensively. I knew I would never allow chemo or radiation. When Cameron heard my doctor demand that I see another doctor for surgery, he suggested we run to the car and leave. That’s exactly what we did. My actions taught him to think for himself and make decisions that he believes are in his best interest. There have been times he shared his ideas, I explained a flaw and later got “Mom, you were right”. I’ve rarely, possibly never told him not to do something without explaining why. He has pushed limits and discovered for himself where his limits actually were. He watched me stand up to doctors, teachers, school principals, store managers and even a police officer or two. He saw the passive aggressive side of me too. He saw some of it work and some of it didn’t. I take responsibility for my actions regardless of the outcome.
Through my actions, I taught him to do the same. He’s not “normal”. How could he be, with me as his mom? I am so proud of Cameron for being a quick thinker, using his resources and finding his own ways to accomplish whatever he sets out to do! Sure, there are things I might prefer he do, but I’m living my life and he’s living his.

He put his shoes on after hiking 4 miles and 4,000 elevation - barefoot. I'm guessing it'll be awhile before he does that again!

He put his shoes on after hiking 4 miles and 4,000 elevation – barefoot. I’m guessing it’ll be awhile before he does that again!

Guess what? This doesn’t apply to just our kids. People are always watching us, sometimes making decisions based on what we do instead of thinking for themselves. Large groups of people will follow the actions of someone they look up to.

Are you teaching by example, or expecting your kids and others to “do as you say, not as you do”?

Love, gratitude and blessings,

~Susan




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