Woke up this morning feeling very tired. Probably not from Leuk… I was up until 2am last night. Why? I have no idea. Just couldn’t sleep.

I had lots to do today and I got all worried that I wasn’t going to accomplish anything. But this time I did the right thing and slept in late anyway. Guess what… this afternoon I had the energy I needed and got almost everything done. Whoda’ thunk it?

Last night I tried working on a project for a client but the wee hours didn’t lend themselves to much creativity. Once I got enough rest surprise, surprise, I could think better!

This morning as I lay in bed exhausted I decided that I’m 61 years old, not 35. I finally had to admit that I needed to take care of myself and get some rest. Up until this point I’ve always tried to get by with very little sleep and poor eating habits. Hmmm…. 61 and I’m finally realizing I have to put myself first if I’m going to be good for anyone else.

Ah… I think I wrote a blog entry somewhere in here suggesting something like that. Like most people, I’m great at doling out advise but not necessarily following it.

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Last Saturday some of our extended family got together at my daughter’s house. We’ve had family parties before but there was something a little different about this one. Maybe it was the size; it was a smaller group than usual. Maybe we were all more relaxed. Whatever the reason, it seemed a more intimate gathering. There was time to really get to talk to each other.

Our family is spread out, so I rarely get to see my cousins. But at this party I got to spend some time talking to many of them. There’s one cousin in particular that I feel I’m getting to know better. (I think she’s a second cousin. I never was very good at familial math.)

She can be quite a character with a wit and a laugh that lifts even the heaviest heart. But I’ve come to realize that under her self-deprecating humor lies a somewhat bruised soul. Like most of us, she has many good memories, but some sad ones too. Her bruises, of course, are personal and do not belong in this blog. But she has allowed me to peek under her brittle shell a bit to see her tender spirit.

Before Leuk came to roost, I was distant from my family. I don’t mean we didn’t get along and I’m not talking about the physical distance between us. I just mean I never considered the real happenings in their lives. They were simply my cousins. Family I got to see from time to time.

I think one of the blessings Leuk has given me is discovering the importance of getting closer to family and friends.

Leuk has sharpened my sight. I see my family – even the extended family – differently now. They are not just cousins or aunts or uncles. They are, or should be, inside my circle of important people.

Sometimes when I write I take a long time getting around to what I’m trying to say. Sorry about that.

So here’s the crux of it: Leuk has made time more important to me. Or maybe I mean he has made how I spend that time more important.

In my not-so-humble opinion, if you have leukemia it is time to stop making work a priority or trying to find happiness by owning flashy, shiny things. You’ve seen me write about sailing. It’s not owning the boat that matters. It’s just a material possession that I will sell someday (or it might sink!). What matters is the time it allows me to spend with my family and friends.

CLL is usually slower moving than other types of leukemia, so I may have many years ahead of me. But how I spend those years is way more important to me than before. So here’s one of my new rules to live by:

Surface relationships should be limited to your postman or bartender. Family deserve more.

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atthehelmRecently my son and I took a 4 day sailing trip in Puget Sound (Washington State). That’s him in the photo.

Sucia Island:
The first day we sailed from Blaine, Washington to Sucia. It took us about 5 hours, sailing and motoring to the island. After hiking the island a bit, we went back to the boat and ate hot dogs and beans for dinner. (This turned out to be our fare nearly every night.) Then we settled down on the deck to watch the stars as we went to sleep.

In the wee hours of the night Guy woke me up to see a neighboring boat drifting our way. She was dragging anchor and got about 8 feet from us. Then we swung apart in the current and the boat stayed away. We didn’t get much sleep though; waking up every so often to check the boat.

Stuart Island:
The wind was good as we sailed to Stuart and the cove we moored in was protected and smooth. We tied up to a free floating dock and rowed to shore. The hiking was great. We met an older man snorkeling in a small bay. He was a bit of a BS’er but a lot of fun to talk to.

That night my son showed me how to find the little dipper, and the sky showed off a plethora of falling stars.

The next morning, on the way out of Stuart, we saw 4 deer climbing along a rocky shore and up a cliff.

Rosario on Orcas Island:
Rosario is a resort and the moorings come with special perks, namely showers (yay!), swimming pools, and saunas. We ate lunch and dinner at a small cafe – finally, not beans and hotdogs! That night my son and I had a great talk while sipping rum in the hold of our boat.

Back to Blaine:
The next morning, after a precarious launch, we motored back to Blane. There was no wind so motoring was necessary – and we also wanted to make good time. Halfway home we turned off the motor and drifted for awhile in the silent, glassy sea.

Well, those are the places we sailed to, but it doesn’t really describe our trip. We haven’t had a father/son trip for years. It was good to spend the time together sailing and to reconnect and learn about each other. My son is a grown man with a successful career, a beautiful wife, and a smiling 6 month old baby boy. He’s no longer the 10 year old I used to climb rocks with or the 14 year old I’d drive to the ski bus on cold winter mornings. I knew that boy so well, and now I think I’ve come to know the young man too.

Describing love is a bit like trying to explain the color white to a blind man. You know what you feel, you understand what it is, but words stumble and fall and diminish what you know to be real.

So I can only describe the love I feel for my son in trite terms that fall short of my meaning. Half of his genetic makeup is from me and the other half from his mother. Yet, he is unique, special, his own man. He has accomplished so much in just 34 years and I am very proud of him for that. But my love for him is not grounded in his talents or even in his successes. It’s something deeper. Something more important. He has taken the little we were able to give him and made so much more out of it.

I guess I’m talking about character. He knows what it means to be a man; to provide for his family and stand up for what he knows to be true.

And, somewhere, hiding around the pillars of his soul, I know that young boy still exists.

I love that little boy and the man he has become.

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Today I’ve decided to pace myself a bit. The rest of the family are going to Legoland. It will be a 2 hour ride on the bus to get there, a full day at the park, and a 2 hour ride back.

I’m going to hang at the hotel instead and walk around town a bit. I might even stroll through Disneyland.

I’m giving myself the day off. To some that may seem selfish or even careless to miss a day with my grandchildren. But we have had a good time at Disneyland making lots of memories. So now I’m taking care of myself.

It’s like this: Remember when the stewardess on the plane gives you instructions about the oxygen mask? You’re told to put the mask on yourself before you put one on your child. There’s a reason for that. If you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t survive long enough to help your child.

So I’m taking care of myself today. I want to make sure I keep myself in good shape by exercising (I certainly got a lot of that the last two days!) and getting enough rest.

(Oh, I forgot to mention: I’ve had more than one day at Disneyland with the boys. On the day I wrote the grouchy entry about my dizziness, I actually felt a little better in the afternoon and was able to make it for the second half of the day.)

Now, here I am, in my hotel room, writing this blog. I’m alone, feeling a bit guilty but also knowing I’ve made the right decision.

Am I making excuses for that decision? Maybe. But I don’t think so. Instead I’m relating the reason for the decision in an effort to help others with heath issues take care of themselves.

I think there’s more than one way to show your love to your family and friends. You show it by being there for them and you show it by taking care of yourself. You can’t accomplish the former without the latter.

So, being a Trekker, I’ll sum this all up with…

Live Long and Prosper

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Okay, so yesterday I didn’t follow my own advise about “pushing through it.” But today I did. I was a little dizzy in the morning but managed to go to Disneyland anyway.

If you ever get here you have got to take the Radiator Springs Racers ride.You’ll feel like you’re in the movie… desert mountains, Flo’s V8, Lizzy’s, of course Lightning McQueen, and all the rest of the gang are there. And the ride is great, ending with a race to the finish line.

Star Tours is my other favorite ride. It’s a 3D adventure that you watch from within a spaceship that gives you all the sensations of flying through a Star Wars movie.

All in all, it was a great day. I’m majorly worn out from a 12 hour day (my feet don’t like me much right now). Who knew having fun could be so exhausting!

Anyway, sorry my last entry was such a downer and my language may have been a bit strong for some readers. But, like I said somewhere in this blog, I will always try to be honest about how I feel and what’s happening.

Take care, and thanks for putting up with me yesterday.

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