You Never Get it Back

When we arrived, we knew it was bad.  We had rented a cabin site unseen (before the days of the internet) upon the glowing recommendation of the owner.  The water was pungent and yellow, the cleanliness was questionable and the furniture falling apart.  But we gathered as a family around the tree we had hauled up with us.   Mother and father, sister and brothers and in-laws, nine of us, and as the new year turned over we went through the following exercise.

Each person was given the task of writing down on a slip of paper the gifts and talents of the family member next to them.  A father wrote about his son, sharing with everyone things the son had never heard from his father.  A sister shared about her brother, sister-in-law about sister-in-law….and what started as a simple exercise turned into an emotional experience of connection.

Today, two of those family members are gone.  A brother lost to cancer at 40, a father to kidney failure.  How important those words are now.

The family gathered again this past weekend, this time in the mountains.  We laughed about our unfortunate accommodations 13 years ago, but remembered what a powerful moment that was for each of us and how we were so glad we had been deliberate about expressing our thanks and love for each other.  Without that planned exercise, we wouldn’t have had that time or the words from those we deeply miss today.

You never get it back.  That’s what I was thinking as we drove home today.

There is no second chance, no “later” or next year.    All you have is right now.  We need to treasure those we care about, gift them with our time, our words and our presence.  This is my personal challenge, and I share it with you.

Give the gift of time.  Time is extremely precious to each of us.  There is only so much of it in a day and our day is full before we even start.  For many people it is often easier to give money than time.  Set aside time for those you care about.  Be deliberate about it.  Pencil it in.

Give the gift of words.  It is so rare that we tell someone why we appreciate them.  We sign a card with our name but neglect to write in our own hand a few lines about why that person is important to us.  We say “I love you” but forget to tell that person what it is about them that we love.  Write it down.  The words are precious and one day may be even more so.

Give the gift of presence.  Sometimes all another person needs is for you to be there.  Not to say anything, just be present.  Human contact and connection.  Relationship and link.

Take the time, be deliberate. All you have is today…and you never get it back.


Worth the Read *May 2012

During a typical week I read so many great articles, posts and studies.  Usually I tweet them out for others to read, occasionally post them to Facebook, and always put them into my Diigo file.

A few days ago I was reading the blog of a friend of mine who also reads widely in his field.  He regularly writes a post called “You Should Read” with some of the best stuff he’s read that week, typically in the field of Education.  It struck me that this was a great way to share some of the best “stuff” a person comes across.

I am often asked to comment on, or blog about, health topics, and of course, those who read my stuff know that my love of education leads to many cross roads and intersections in the two fields.  So, I decided to post a regular “Worth the Read” to share some of the great things I come across on a weekly basis.  I am regularly inspired and challenged by posts, videos, conversations and articles that I discover or are shared with me though colleagues and friends.  I hope you are too.

My first “Worth the Read” is perhaps a mix of hope and despair.


I’m not sure how many times in the last six months I have shed tears over this disease.  While I am lucky to not have struggled with it in my own body, cancer has struck patients that I have grown close to, friends in my community and a family member I love.

My thoughts and emotions have vacillated, ranging from the adolescent “F*** I hate this disease”, to scouring research, to listening to grieving hearts, to admiring the bravery of those who fight the disease on a daily basis…

Here are my three “Worth the Reads”

“The Thing that Brings you back is Love.”

This is by far my favorite quote this year.  I come back to it again and again. It comes from a woman writing about the beginning of her journey with breast cancer.  The post is called “The Diagnosis” by Xeni Jardin.

On the medical end, this post from The Doctor’s Channel is fascinating for those interested in new research in the field of cancer.  Being a self professed science geek and health care professional, it is right up my alley. “Training Immune System to Fight Cancer comes of Age.”

Lastly, a video tweeted out by a colleague yesterday that was put together by Seattle Children’s Hospital.  No commentary…..just a few tears.

Enjoy your week!