July 27th, 2010 by Regina Brett
The American Cancer Society reports that deaths to cancer are down.
For men, the death rate fell 21 percent between 1990 and 2006.
For women, it fell 12.3 percent. We're making progress.
The bad news? We still lose 569,490 people a year to cancer in the U.S.
My buddy Monica is fighting it right now. What an amazing spirit she has. The doctors found spots on her brain, spine, lungs and a tumor in her abdomen. She's only 38. What started out as a headache was really a brain tumor.
At her first chemo, she wore pink shoes, a gauzy white skirt, lovely blouse and a cool hat. She dressed better for chemo than I do for work. I love her attitude. She's been in the hospital for over a month and is still grateful to every nurse, doctor and orderly who stops by.
We made a list of the top 100 movies to watch while she recovers. She's blasting away, driving life into a corner and living the hell out of it. Thoreau was right. Living is so dear.
July 26th, 2010 by Regina Brett
What an amazing place the library is. Every summer I leave the library with as many books as I can carry and set out to explore the world.
Yesterday I left with 18 books. Before leaving the house, I went online and printed out the list of Pulitzer Prize winners and finalists for fiction. Here are a few of the gems I brought home:
Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
Tree of Smoke by Denis Johnson
Shakespeare's Kitchen by Lore Segal
The Echo Maker by Richard Powers
I also grabbed Anna Quindlen's new book Every Last One and The Dubliners by James Joyce.
Thank goodness Mrs. Kent taught me speed reading at Ravenna High School. Mr. Ricco taught me to love literature in 9th grade. What a gift a high school teacher can be to you for the rest of your life.
July 19th, 2010 by Regina Brett
Someone told me it's all happening at the zoo...
It was last week. I took my grandson, Asher, who is 16 months old to the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. It's only ten bucks for adults and free for kids under 2 and the parking is free. What a deal.
The only problem was, the animals were smarter than the humans. While we melted in the 90 degree heat, they hid in the corners of caves and in the shadows of trees. We did get to see a rhino stomping around, a bear licking his paws, sea lions frolicking in the pool and eight giraffes having lunch.
Asher was just as happy to see them as he was picking up rocks and sticks. From his viewpoint, everything in life is as mesmerizing as a giraffe.
The best moment came at the Rainforest. As soon as you enter the building, you're greeted by a giant waterfall. Asher dropped to the floor as soon as he saw it. He sat there staring, his mouth open, drooling. When you're his age, it's okay to drool when you're awed by life. I plopped down next to him, awed by his total attention to such beauty, and tried not to drool.
July 13th, 2010 by Regina Brett
My book "God Never Blinks" was released three months ago today.
What an incredible journey it has been. The people at book signings have shared their stories and their wounds and made me realize how we're all hungry for the same things, for love, for peace of mind, for meaning.
Thanks for all your support and for buying the book for yourself and others. Some people have bought ten copies at a time to give out as Christmas gifts. One woman bought a copy for all her sisters, another, for all her nieces.
Thanks, too, for your emails. Here's one that touched me:
"I just purchased your book and am totally thrilled with it. The first day I read over half of it and it seems like every idea was meant for me. I laughed and I cried.
"I lost my husband in 1974 and my son to a drunk driver in 1988. His wife was 7 months pregnant with my first grandchild. So I have seen my share of pain and suffering.
"That granddaughter had brought me more joy than I ever could have imagined. Your book had really struck my heart and it is as though God dropped it in my lap at just the right time that I needed it!! Always amazes me how much He knows about us, what we need and when. Thank you again, Rosemary."
People like Rosemary amaze me. After so much loss, they still embrace life, and celebrate what is.
July 10th, 2010 by Regina Brett
The powerful front page of The Plain Dealer summed it up in one four-letter word, but not the one most of us uttered watching the ESPN special. That word wasn't printable in a family newspaper.
LeBron James has left the building. And the city. And the team he played for these past seven years. It had to end, but we hoped it would end in a championship. But this is Cleveland, so of course it didn't. We're used to disappointments from our sports teams. They are what has made us the most resilient sports fans in the country.
We should have seen this coming, but we held on to hope. We always do.
Contrary to the photos spread across the country, we're not burning LeBron jerseys. Okay, so a tiny handful of fans did, but the majority of us just feel like we got punched in the heart. We'll get over it. We always do.
By noon, the guy who runs Nate's Deli on West 25th, where they make the best tabouli west of the Cuyahoga, said, "We're already over it."
We'll miss you, but you might just end up missing us more.
July 8th, 2010 by Regina Brett
My husband scribbled a note on my calendar, "You are busy with me tonite!" but wouldn't tell me where he was taking me.
Turns out we ended up seeing James Taylor and Carole King on Wednesday at the Q in Cleveland. The last time I saw J.T. he was at Blossom Music Center singing covers from others. We sat in the audience wishing he'd just give us the best of him.
Last night he did. The guitar never sounded better. My heart just melted like it did when I first heard him sing "You've got a friend" back in 8th grade. I played that record over and over for hours. Some nights, I played that one song over and over. It was a promise to me alone that kept me hanging on when I felt myself slipping away.
Music can heal the soul. Catch you when you fall. Lift you back up and send you soaring. Give you a hand to hold when yours is empty. My hand no longer is empty.
My husband held it all night as James sang those lovely words that are so true about my spouse, he "has the power to go where no one else can find me, yes and to silently remind me, of the happiness and good times that I know."
The good times keep getting better. If only I'd known that in 8th grade.
July 7th, 2010 by Regina Brett
My sister Joan bought me a copy of the book "The Untethered Soul" by Michael Singer. I'm discovering myself and my roommate on every page.
It seems we all have an inner roommate, a voice inside that is constantly throwing us into doubt, fear and anxiety. When you're in the shower, do you actually enjoy the water or is your roommate taunting you about the next project due at work, the weight you need to lose, the people you need to call?
"Your shower is for washing the body, not for watching the mind talk nonstop. See if you can stay conscious enough throughout the entire experience to be aware of what's going on," he writes.
I've been trying it. Man, does that roommate run my life. I've been practicing Singer's advice. When something disturbs me, I ask, "What part of me is being disturbed by this?" It's my roommate, not me. What a relief.
July 3rd, 2010 by Regina Brett
Such a powerful word. A friend asked me what it meant to me this week. How do you describe it? Is it even possible?
I consulted my copy of the Declaration of Independence. It's in the same small booklet that has a copy of the U.S. Constitution in it. As a journalist, I've carried it with me to work for two decades. It reminds to never take for granted our Bill of Rights that give us as Americans, Freedom of the Press and Freedom of Speech.
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." I just love those words. No one pursues happiness to the degree we Americans do.
But the most eloquent words are at the end of that Declaration: "...for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other, our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor."
What they put on the table when they signed that document on July 4, 1776, makes me tremble. What a commitment they made to this experiment called democracy. I hope they're pleased at how it all turned out.
I know I am. And I am most grateful to call America home.