Thursday, December 10, 2009

Saddest Doll Ever

I don't like dolls. Never did. They still kind of creep me out. Saw this one in the grocery last night and honestly felt sorry for her. And some level of kinship, too. Let's be honest, haven't we all felt like this at the holidays from time to time?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Future Valerie

My second favorite TV show is How I Met Your Mother. (Don't want to leave you hanging. #1 is Big Bang Theory.) On a recent HIMYM, Marshall finds a letter he had written at age 15 to his future, 30-yr-old self. He was a little disappointed that he hadn't reached the level of fame and fortune his 15-yr-old self had aspired to. It ended with him writing another letter to his future, much older self.

Yesterday, I had lunch with one of my oldest friends, Alison. She surprised me with a couple of old pictures she'd found including this one of us, taken in 2000, age 26:

My first comment and reaction was hers, too: Wow. We look so young. And happy. And rested. (And we had chins and cheekbones.) We both wondered what had happened to us over these past 9 nine years and quickly came to this conclusion: motherhood.

So I want to take a minute and address a letter to future Alison and Valerie, in 2018, age 44:

Girls -

This is past Valerie writing to you. Hope you're both doing well. You look fine. Stop obsessing about how you look. You know, you'll look at a picture of yourselves taken back in 2009 and think how good you looked and wonder what happened. That's fine. It's called living. Don't see bags and wrinkles and gray hair but rather moments and memories. Know each line has a story and hopefully a laugh attached to it. Things are going to have happened over these past nine years - good and bad. Take them in stride as you always have. And cherish this friendship that started way back in 1979. You're both amazing women and have something really special - a going on 40-year friendship. Good for you. Go ahead and take a picture of yourselves now so in nine years, you can look back and think "wow, we looked good in our 40's." Just don't spend too much time looking back because you might miss something ahead in the process.

Signed 2009 Valerie

Valerie & Alison
January 1992

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Valerie's Christmas Wish List | 2009

I just posted this video to my Facebook page but the link above will take you to it, too. It’s 2.5 minutes long. Find time to check it out. This group puts this type of video out each year. It changes from year to year but the message is the same. They may be crazy zealots with mismanaged funds but I’m not asking you to invest in them specifically but just hear their message as it reflects what I have been saying the last few weeks.

I have friends and even family members who think I've lost my mind (thank you to the handful who embraced me and this notion and said "I get it"). But this year, I've just had it with the commercialism of the holidays. It sickens me. And I'm sure it's not sitting well with our Father. I hate to sound like a bad Lifetime movie-of-the-week but seriously, have we totally lost sight of what this time of year is about? And why is it unheard of for someone to say "I don't want anything this year?"

Webster was no help in defining "gift" for me. It defined "gift" as a present and "present" as, you guessed it, a gift. Wikipedia was slightly more helpful:

A gift or a present is the transfer of something, without the need for compensation that is involved in trade. A gift is a voluntary act which does not require anything in return. Even though it involves possibly a social expectation of reciprocity, or a return in the form of prestige or power, a gift is meant to be free.

By extension the term gift can refer to anything that makes the other happier or less sad, especially as a favor, including forgiveness and kindness.

This year, I've really focused on talking to God LESS and listening to Him MORE. Wonderful things happened when I did this. I'm not tooting my own horn. I'm not yelling, "hey, look how good I am now!" I'm simply saying I really think we, as a society, have lost our minds a little and have lost sight of what's important. And I want to try to get it back. Maybe that means taking a stand one year and being difficult by saying I don't want or need anything. I realize this will be done at the risk of alienating some of those closest to me. But I'm willing to do that...for Him.

Over the last few weeks, I feel I've been bombarded by stories of those who are hurting, in need, and all of a sudden, a new sweater under the tree seems a little selfish. I want to share a few of these with you - humor me (initials are used below to protect the privacy of the individuals involved):

B.C. - B attended FRA with me and graduated a year before me. On the morning of November 19th, he was travelling in his car on the interstate when another driver lost control of their car, crossed the median and landed on top of him. Although he'd probably not planned it, he met Jesus that day. And left behind a young wife and a 5-year-old and a 3-year-old.

J.G. - J is leaving in a few days to spend Christmas in Africa, near where I spent a week and a half this summer. She's going to provide beds to young people and children who have nothing. Nothing. For $88, she can provide them with bedding to sleep on and separate them from the dirt and a net that will exponentially increase their chances of not being stung by a mosquito while they sleep and infect them with malaria, a certain death sentence where they live.

G.T. - G is literally fighting for his life. With a bleak diagnosis, each day is truly a gift, though it's disguised in unbelievable pain and endless doctor visits and bills. When his fight ends, he'll leave behind two grown children, a mother, two younger children and a wife who's not really sure how to press on, financially or otherwise.

?.?. - There's an angel on the Salvation Army's Angel Tree who is a little 5-year-old girl. In the "wants" area of her application, all she put down was "doll." Just something to hold. Something to open Christmas morning. Yes, it's true her parents may have made some poor choices but that's not really her fault, is it? It's not too late to pick up an angel from the Salvation Army's tree and return presents to an area mall this week.

M.G. - M took her life the day after Thanksgiving this year while suffering from Post-Partum Depression. Her husband and three children were in the house when she did it.

Grace - This is from Katie Davis' blog: Grace is maybe 60 years old but looks to be pushing 100. She can't weigh more than 85 pounds. Grace is a mother to six children, but 4 have died of AIDS and the other two have deserted her for a better life. She lives in a 4 by 4 foot room that is pitch black, but she doesn't mind; in addition to being too weak to walk, Grace is blind. She NEVER has any visitors. At night her bones ache against the hard dirt floor and her feeble body shivers with cold. A cough racks her body and her stomach rumbles in hunger making sleep impossible. It's sad, huh? How sad though? Sad enough that we want to do something about it? Sad enough that we will remember Grace tonight as we snuggle down into our beds or next month as we pay the bills? Maybe. But maybe not. Because it hurts, but it doesn't hurt that much. It doesn't hurt the way it would if Grace was your grandmother all alone there in the dark. It does for God. Because Grace is His. As I watch Grace rejoice over the gift of a scraggly old blanket, I allow the tears to fall.

And, no, I haven't completely lost touch with my materialistic, old self. I still want (and somewhat need) new shoes and new work clothes. I long (and sometimes lust) for a new (bigger) home. I dream of going to DisneyWorld again. Literally daydream about being on the rides. But there has been a little shift in me lately. All of a sudden, trading $20 gift cards with people on my list seems a little silly. And creating a long, flowing wish list for myself seems just downright cold.

So, if you've asked me "what do you want this year?" and I haven't rattled off a list, this is why. I'm not being trying to be difficult. Just kinder. Gentler. More aware.

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas to all of you.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

God and Dog

Thursday, August 6, 2009

My Africa Trip

I'll try to cover as succinctly yet comprehensively as possible. If you have any specific questions, though, by all means send 'em my way. OK, here goes for the inquiring minds...

Leaving Nashville, 7:30 AM CDT, Monday, July 20, 2009, Nashville Airport

Newark Airport (New Jersey), appx. 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM CDT, Monday, July 20, 2009

Brussels Airport (Belgium), appx. 1:00 AM CDT, Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Entebbe Airport (Uganda, Africa), appx. 2:00 PM CDT, Tuesday, July 21, 2009

One of the vans that transported both the team and all of our luggage (appx 88 pieces total) from the airport to the guest house.

Bedroom at guest house where we lived for a week and a half. Each bed was covered in mosquito netting.

Bathroom at the house. Western set up (sink, potty, tub & a shower stall). I equated the water pressure to that of an old man peeing. You couldn't get too much shampoo in your hair or soap suds going as there wasn't enough pressure to wash it off. We did use the water from the sink to brush our teeth rather than bottled water and I believe everyone was fine.

[more coming...]

First Thought

A man died in a skydiving accident, leaving behind an expectant wife who is 35 weeks along.

OK, so what was your first thought? Your very first thought? Go ahead, take a minute.

Here is what mine was, in all candid honesty: Eww. And then my mind wandered to how it happened, exactly, how he was found, what he looked like. Then I thought about something I often ponder, jumpers. You know, people who jump off bridges to end their life. What actually kills them? The impact, I know, but how/why? What do they look like when they're found? Then I thought of the Natchez Trace Bridge over Highway 96 near the Davidson/Williamson County line which appears to be a popular jumper spot. That made me think of people riding their bikes on the Natchez Trace and then I thought, "I should start riding my bike again." And so it went.

My husband had another first thought: Maybe the victim above wasn't skydiving himself. Perhaps in a weird Hollywood-worthy twist, he was an innocent bystander on the ground and someone dropped from the sky on top of him. That was his first thought.

What was yours? I'm asking because I was shocked at some other peoples' immediate reaction. That of accusation, wariness and a lack of sympathy. I overheard "why was he doing something so stupid in the first place?" and "why didn't his wife tell him not to do that?" "Why would he do something so risky with a baby on the way?"

Well, the answer is simple: he was doing his job. Here's the official write up --

NORFOLK, Va., Aug. 3 (UPI) -- The man killed in a skydiving accident near Middle Peninsula Regional Airport in Virginia was a U.S. Army soldier from Maryland, state police say.

Virginia State Police spokesman Sgt. Thomas Molnar said Army Command Sgt. Maj. Harry Parrish of Fort Meade died while taking part in a private skydiving training exercise, The (Norfolk) Virginian-Pilot said Monday.

"The only thing I can say is that it was a training exercise and obviously something went wrong," Molnar said of Saturday's deadly accident. "I can't specifically say what right now."

Parrish's body was found in King and Queen County, Va., Sunday following a search and rescue effort.

Molnar, who confirmed the skydiving fatality was accidental, told the Virginian-Pilot the incident has been reported to the Federal Aviation Administration.

First impressions, hmm? Crazy stuff. I think we'd all do well to not be so quick to judge.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Thank you for your patience

I'm still processing, getting settled, catching up on sleep, laundry and Bird hugs but I promise, I will post pics soon along with lots of narration. Here's something to tide you over:

Hard Times

Even Hollywood's A-List (OK, well, B-list?) are struggling in this economy. Here's a sign I saw on my way home the other day:

Friday, July 17, 2009

Africa Bound

I'm leaving today for Africa.

It feels like this trip has been a long time coming, and maybe it has subconsciously, but I didn't officially hear the call and begin preparations until just three short months ago. Oh, how far we've come! In the early days, I made a list of fears/questions. I called it my "But What About...?" List. Let's see how they shook out.

1. I've always questioned people doing mission work abroad when there's so much need right here at home.
God is bigger. And He knows what He's doing. When people say to me, "I think it's so great what you're doing," I quickly point out that this isn't my trip, but His. I'm just honored He picked me and has enough faith in me to send me out.

2. I don't know how I will pay for this.
As of today, and with the tremendous, unbelievable generosity of family and friends, I have met, and exceeded by a little, my $4,500.00 goal.

3. I've never been away from Jason or Calleigh this long and it scares me.
The power of prayer, friends. Even as I write this, I feel my mind and spirit calmed. Like they went out for mojitos and left me here to update my blog. It's still on my mind and heart but is not occupying my every thought. I suspect, and hope, there's enough work to do in Africa that I don't have a lot of down time to sit around and be sad.

4. I've never had any desire to go to Africa.
On May 1, this update was written in my journal: It's all I think about. I cannot wait to get there.

5. I've torn the house up and looked in our safety deposit box - can't find my passport and am going to have to go through the process of getting a new one.
04.13.09: Found my old one!

6. I don't like strangers.
It's still not my forte. I'm working on it.

7. I don't like working with people on a team.
It's still not my forte. I'm working on it. Seriously, I have really been trying to seek the good in everyone, not focus on their faults and shortcomings, but, rather, see each person for the wonderful, unique person they are. Even if they do annoying things from time to time. ;)

8. What will I eat there?
I have granola bars, FiberOne bars, jelly beans and peanut butter. We'll see how it goes.

9. Will I be kidnapped by gorillas (or guerillas, for that matter)?
04.09.09: We are not called to be safe, we are simply promised that when we are in danger, God is right there with us.

10. Will I catch malaria?
I started taking anti-malaria pills yesterday. I take one every day while I'm in country and for a week after my return. I also have liquid DEET which is to be applied, head-to-toe, every day. And I think we sleep in mosquito netting.

11. I'm afraid of growing apart from my loved ones during this process.
I don't think this has happened. I like to think this has created Valerie 2.0, a kinder, gentler, more efficient version.

12. I'm afraid of lions and tigers (and bears, oh, my!).
Matthew 10:28 Do not fear things that can destroy the body but rather things that can destroy the soul.

13. I don't want to travel - especially that far, and alone.
Well, I won't be alone in the true sense of the word, but I will not have my favorite people in the whole world by my side. I try to keep reminding myself that I'm just away from my friends and family for 10 days, these sweet, little children we're going to visit have no one. Ever. This pasty white American lady with a lot of questions and Purell may be the closest thing they've ever had and they've waited their entire lives for me to come.

14. Do I have enough vacation to pull this off?
05.05.09: Apparently so.

15. Can I miss this much work?
07.19.09: Apparently so.

16. Can I pull this together so quickly?
I couldn't pull this together so quickly, but we did. Thank you.

17. People will think I'm crazy. Will I have the support of family and friends?
04.01.09: Jason asked me tonight, "so when are you going to Africa?"
04.04.09: Brenda asked me today about the trip, about Sweet Sleep, and was very supportive.
04.06.09: Had lunch with Man. Talked about God pushing me. She said, "that's great!"
04.08.09: Had dinner with DVL5 tonight and told them. All very supportive, intrigued & positive. Especially Amanda.
05.22.09: Feel really blessed to have Emily in my life, for so many reasons, but that she's been my personal advisor on this journey.

And now, as I set off on this journey, I have a new set of "But What About?'s."

- What do I do when I get over there, fall in love, and want to bring one home with me?
- How do I tell them "it's OK" when it's not?
- How can I reinforce in them that there is a God who loves them fiercely?
- What if I have trouble connecting with the kids? I'm not good with kids here. What makes me think I will be with ones on the other side of the globe?

And so I bid adieu, friends. Look for possible updates along the way and know you'll be missed and thought of while I'm gone.


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

All Aboard

The train is about to pull out of the Uganda, that is. This past Sunday, we had our "pack party" where everyone came together, brought two big empty suitcases per person and we started packing all of our supplies for the trip. This included, but was not limited to: toothbrushes and tiny tubes of toothpaste for each of the children we'll be visiting, soccer balls and cones to play games with them, jump ropes, crayons, glue, construction paper, etc., etc., etc. Here are a couple of pics - they don't do the sheer amount of STUFF nor the chaos justice but just to give you an idea:

Also, in about three days' time, I collected approximately 700+ Beanie Babies and had to start fending them off for the time being. Turns out people did indeed jump on the Beanie Baby wagon, made quite the investment in the little guys and have had trouble turning loose. That is, until a really good cause came along. Then the benevolence, generosity and veritable tsunami of BBs came pouring in. Just goes to show...God gives you lofty goals but He also provides and richly.

Update: The Dollar General corporation has just offered to donate (yes, DONATE!) all 450 small, handheld mirrors that we'd hoped to give to each of the children! Praise & wonderment! That's all I have to say. Wow.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Signs of the Times

So, you know the latest advertising gimmick is for a company to hire a sign holder, right? The guy who stands on the corner or sidewalk holding (or spinning if they are the more adventurous type)? OK, well, Brentwood - sweet, cozy, until now, not-so-flashy little Brentwood has been taken over by these guys. They're everywhere. At one intersection in particular, there are two, for the same company, on either side of the street.

Here's the first one - we'll call him "Action Jackson." He stands, he shifts his weight back and forth and will occasionally shake the sign to and fro.

And exhibit B:

I can't tell if this guy is really smart or really lazy. Check out his set up. Cooler, back support, shade and the ability to send text messages.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Supplies Needed for Africa

We're trying to hunt down Beanie Babies (or similarly shaped and sized stuffed animals) and small, hand mirrors to give to our orphans in their goody bags. Last count, we're preparing for 450 so we'll need this quantity in both mirrors and animals.

If anyone has any bright ideas as to where to attain the mirrors (cheaply) or has a relative or friend who jumped on the Beanie Baby craze back in the 90's and has since abandoned it, please let me know.

Also, if anyone has Space Bags or Vacuum Bags (the kind that you put stuff in and suck out the air and they get flat) that they would be willing to loan me, I would appreciate it.

Thanks so much,

Valerie Eagan Mangrum
615.369.4635 work
615.668.1708 cell

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Daddy at Work

My sweet Daddy took a "job" recently ("job" because it's a non-paying gig) at his home golf course, Harpeth Hills. One day a week, he works as the starter, making sure people get in their carts, start where they're supposed to, have paid and, when they return, that the cart gets returned properly and that they haven't left anything behind.

We happened to be in the neighborhood today so popped in for a quick visit. Check him out in action:

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Why Does Sonic Have Handicapped Parking Spaces?

Seriously. This is not a rhetorical question.

I noticed recently that my local Sonic has a handicapped space. I studied it closely. Same width and length of space, same order box, same menu. Nothing was different. Hmm....??

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Katie Davis

This is happening Sunday night, June 28, 6 PM, in Brentwood. Here are a few reasons you might want to think about going:

1. Get to hear a great concert by Point of Grace.

2. Support a local family who is in process of bringing home their 3rd adopted child. Proceeds from this event go towards the Oatsvall Family and their current Ugandan adoption.

3. Hear Katie Davis speak. This girl is amazing. She's from Brentwood, she's 20 years old, she lives in Uganda and has adopted 13 children. She lives for the Lord -- out loud and every day. She is truly inspiring. While she is home this summer visiting her family, she has scheduled one speaking engagement and it is during this event. Click her name up above a couple of lines to link to her blog.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Words of Wisdom

Monday, June 1, 2009

Picture This

One of my Uganda teammates is a girl named Hannah. Hannah is a photographer and she rocks. That's all there is to it. Here are a couple of her pics:

For more of her work, visit her website or her blog.

To raise funds for her trip, Hannah is offering discounted photo sessions (brides, families, kids, professional headshots, etc.). Here's the deal: you get your sitting, pay $100 bucks and for that, you get a disk with 25 of your best poses plus the rights to reproduce those pics yourself. That's HUGE!

Anyway, just wanted to pass this wonderful opportunity along. Say "cheese!"

Africa Update

Late breaking news...

And our flights have been booked. Looks something like this:

Nashville to Detroit (appx. 2 hrs)
Layover in Detroit (appx. 3 hrs)
Detroit to Brussels (appx. 7 hrs)
Layover in Brussels (appx. 2 hrs)
Brussels to Entebbe (appx. 10 hrs)
Busride from Entebbe to Kampala (appx. 1 hr)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Quantum Calleigh Math (or Kidz Bop Purgatory)

McDonald's latest Happy Meal "toy" is a music CD of currently-popular songs remixed with kids screeching along with a 2nd rate artist in the lead. It's horrific in its own right. But Calleigh has found a way to torment her math-challenged Mom even more. Stay with me here...

We have maybe four of these CDs (let's say numbers 2, 3, 5 & 7). The numbers are printed on the sleeve and on the disk and Calleigh recognizes these numbers upon seeing them. She'll say, "let's listen to #3."

My car, my precious Honda CR-V, has a built-in, six-CD changer in the dash. You load one disk at a time and when you go to put in a new one, it just finds an opening within those 6 slots and pops it in for you. So you may put in Kidz Bop v.4 but it actually went into the #2 CD changer slot. (You with me so far?)

Calleigh is a detail-oriented little girl and on her good days, when she uses this gift for good and not evil, I pride myself in this and take credit for this attribute. Unfortunately, she's a child and doesn't understand the power she possesses. She also has an incredible sense of memory and after hearing one of these Kidz Bop CDs once, she knows the order of the songs. We'll be bopping down the road on the way to school to "Hey There Delilah" or "Beautiful Girls" and she'll (correctly) say, "is this song two?" (There are five songs on each CD.)

The final kicker in all of this is that I like to keep the "random" button on when I listen to CDs just to mix things up a bit and this was on the first time we listened to her music so in addition to remembering the slot number the disks are in versus their real, factory-issued number, I also have to manage the order and name of songs and remember the original, "random feature" order in which they were originally played for her.

So, in addition to navigating Nashville's notorious potholes and treacherous highways, avoiding crazy drivers, applying makeup and completing getting dressed, I'm working on complicated math on the way in each day. Here's a sample conversation from just yesterday:

Calleigh:  Is this disk 5?
Valerie: [looks at display screen and it's blinking "2."] Ummm....yes. Five.
Calleigh: Which song is this?
Valerie: [in process of merging and crossing 3 lanes of traffic] Well....[looks at display screen, song 001 is shown.] It looks like...I think this is song 4.
Calleigh:  No it's not. It's two.
Valerie: OK, it's two. Hey, remember when you used to watch movies in the car or read books?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

My New Favorite Website

Embrace the's my motto.

Thursday, May 7, 2009


This is The Dave Matthews Band (Dave Matthews is the guy on the right). More on them in a minute.

And this is a kid from Brentwood named Charlton.

Here's his obituary:

CRATZ, Charlton Tighe Age 16, surrounded by his loving family at home, entered Heaven, April 30, 2009 after a valiant 10 month fight with leukemia. Born in Danville, IL on September 26, 1992, he moved with his family to Brentwood, TN in 2004. He was a former student at Woodland Middle School where he played on the tennis team. He was a sophomore at Ravenwood High School. Charlton loved music, gaming on line, church youth group, the Cubs, the Predators, and his many devoted friends. His positive outlook on life inspired many people during his illness. He was a friend to all who met him. He will be remembered for his ever-present smile. The family expresses deep gratitude to all who have helped support us, and to his special nurses at Vanderbilt Children's Hospital. Charlton is preceded in death by his grandfathers, Charlie Cratz and Larry Wells, and uncle, Bruce Cratz. His parents, Tammy and Brian; his brother Erik; grandmothers, June Cratz and Dolores Wells of Danville, IL and many aunts, uncles and cousins, survive him. Visitation was held Sunday, May 3rd at Brentwood Baptist Church, from 3-5 p.m. Dr. Michael L. Glenn conducted funeral services at 10 a.m. Monday, May 4, 2009 also at the church. Interment was at Christ Church Memorial Gardens. Memorial contributions may be made to Make-A-Wish Foundation of Middle Tennessee, 209 - 10th Ave. South, Suite 527, Nashville, TN 37203; Vanderbilt Children's Hospital, Vanderbilt Gift Processing Office, PMB 407727, 2301 Vanderbilt Place, Nashville, TN 37240; or Brentwood Baptist Church Youth Ministry, 7777 Concord Rd., Brentwood, TN 37027.

And here's the "rest of the story," to quote the late, great Paul Harvey:

Charlton was diagnosed with a pretty aggressive form of leukemia. His time on this Earth was limited. He knew it. His parents and family knew it. The doctors and nurses knew it. The Make-A-Wish organization swooped in to help. Charlton's wish was to go to a DMB concert and possibly go backstage to see Dave and the guys in person. They flew him to a concert in New York and made a weekend out of it for him and his parents. Something happened, though, at the concert and although he enjoyed the show, he was not able to go backstage.

Fast forward and he's back at home in Brentwood now and in declining health. His days were numbered and dwindling; God was calling him home. Now there was a DMB concert coming to Nashville on April 25th. I don't have the details but the offer was made for him to go to this concert and make another go at his wish. His Mom had to turn the offer down, saying he was too sick and too weak to make the trek.

Dave got wind of this story. Following the show, he found out where Charlton lived and imagine the commotion as two huge tour buses pulled up in front of this kid's house with his rock idols standing on the front porch, ringing the door bell.

Now, I don't have the details of what happened in that living room that day but I know a little boy's dying wish was granted. Dave brought his guitar in and basically played a live, unplugged set for an audience of one. He played old favorites, he tried out some new stuff, he asked Charlton for requests. And when some of the other band members said, "hey, man, we probably need to get going," he replied, "not until Charlton has heard everything he wants to hear."

Five days later, Charlton made one last voyage but had a great memory to take with him, thanks to Dave Matthews.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

What Would You Do?

I heard a story Friday of a local Nashvillian with an inspiring (and awe-inspiring) story. He's young(er), married, two kids. Was in med school when one of those "Road Closed - Detour" life moments popped up with the diagnosis of a brain tumor. He had several surgeries and the way it was left was, "there's still a tumor on your brain stem, we've done the best we can, it doesn't appear to be getting worse, so....good looking out, go back out there and do the best you can while you can." So, he shifted his career goal slightly to something still in the medical field but not quite so rigorous as med school and residency and all that and is just out there, well, living. And glad to be doing it.

This story struck me Friday as it was being told to me and it has stuck with me since. And the question that has played over and over for me is "what would I do if I were in his shoes?" Luckily, I'm in such a good place right now, I dare say I wouldn't change a thing. But what about you?