Saturday, January 1, 2011

2010: Finding Firsts

In the spirit of imitation being the most sincere form of flattery, this post pays homage to my favorite blogger, Teri Conroy of Wunsapana Farm. Her farm name alone tells much. Her end-of-year-reflections continue to inspire me, encourage me to grow and blossom with sharing.

Celebrating living with cancer
What a difference a year makes.

2010 was a year of firsts. At any age, firsts are exciting surprises, but at my advanced age (Mickey's tongue-in-cheek humor), finding firsts is an exciting and occasionally challenging adventure.

In 2010, I learned I had a life sentence with cancer, cause for celebration. I discovered white light, healing powers, living in balance, finding faith, and talking to and walking with God. I made a promise (and kept it), shared my story, and committed to cancer awareness through research, education, and my cancer blog. By understanding and discussing my disease, I acquired a global audience and know our cancer communities are united in hope. I celebrate my cancer, my life, because Life Is Good! Many firsts.

Debi, Jacob, & Tess
Greatgrandmother Gigi & grandkids
Our Grandchildren
In 2010, I made my first iMovie from my first FLIP camera. It took 4+ hours to upload to Vimeo, and again as long to render. It celebrates family life, on and off the farm. My first unassisted iMovie. For the first time in 3 years, our blended families were together for days of holiday happiness. Special for us was Christmas with Jacob & Debi, who traveled from the ends of Kansas to celebrate family life. As loving as our llamas are, Jacob was terrified by their nuzzling, their need to say hello. Perhaps this summer's visit will find Jacob falling in love with llamas.

Christmas with Jacob & Debi 2010 from RJ Stangherlin on Vimeo.

Allie & Kendall
Beloved Julie

For the first time since 1979, we chose (3 firsts) to raise a puppy, to drive to meet Peggy Parries of Laurel Forks Labs in VA to pick up Allie (526 miles, but Allie did 800 from Laurel Forks), and to purchase a Black Lab (not a Welsh Terrier or German Shepherd Dog). I made a choice to have a user-friendly dog, and Allie is just that. Considering our ages, if Allie lives a good dozen plus years (we're hoping), she could very well be our last puppy. Somehow I do not see myself starting over with a puppy in my very late 70s, should I endure and prevail (and I do plan on exactly that). Allie's entrance meant saying goodbye to Julie, a great dog we had all too briefly in our lives, the downside of rescuing older large-breed dogs for so many years. First time I took a puppy, and an ADHD one at that, to a nursing home to spread joy and cheer (and she does).

Dorman & The Girls
Uncle John & SP
Jen & Tess
A final first in a year of many has to do with sharing, always an inner conflict between the desire for privacy and doing the right thing. So this year marked a foray into sharing farm life with a larger small circle of friends. First llama walks. First Open Farm for the Day. For the courage to move forward on the sharing initiative, I thank Teri, who not only shares her farm, but her friends as well. I am blessed with Helena, whom Teri sent my way, along with a host of FB friends from Wunsapana Farm who teach me the joys of sharing and support me in large ways.

Hours old
2010 saw the birth of our first cria, Gold Is Where You Find It, aka Golden. All our llamas were bred by my dear friend and GALA 2010 Conference (another first) Co-Chair Carol Reigh of Buck Hollow Llamas. They are animals with sweet dispositions and amazing fiber. Although I said I would never go through breeding again, I look to breed Tess and Et Cetera in spring.

Favorite Photo of 2010: First Cria, Golden, w/Tess and Mama Llama Rev (on right)
My other favorite photo: Tess as everything but milk to Golden
What do I hope 2011 will bring?
From Laurel Forks Labs Website
  • More life on the farm. 
  • More commitment to living life on my terms, not my cancer's. 
  • More sharing. 
  • More birthdays. 
  • More staying connected to my real life, not the busyness of living.
  • Just more.
  • Successful surgeries for Mickey. 
  • More giving (and I have something wonderful in mind here, but that will be a secret for now and a surprise for later).
  • A first visit to Teri Conroy and the wonderful family of friends at Wunsapana Farm.
2011 will find me still the caregiver on the farm, the keeper of many promises as I continue to face first light.

Happy New Year to all.
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  1. My dear R.J. - It is pretty special that you have shared so much in this post.
    For many years I brought my therapy dogs to Albany Medical Center Hospital. Every Thursday morning - pediatric oncology. Mostly the same children in for treatment, sometimes new ones, and sometimes...well, you know. Parents thanked me for bringing my dogs there. I wanted to thank THEM for letting me. I learned more from those children than I can say. Their simple appreciation for a good day. Loving up the dogs with pets and belly rubs, or just resting next to them if they were tired. Their easy conversations with me, not about their treatments or their parents worries, but about their new crayons or getting to go to school for a few days. You remind me of those children, you inspire me. You find the good in so much and you share it with all of us! You, dear RJ, are an angel on earth! Thank you for sharing it all.

  2. Teri,
    If ever there was an angel, it would be you, for the inspiration you bring to our lives. You give me a courage to face the looming R word (retirement), to move forward openly into another life with other commitments. It is difficult to leave a family of 41 years, yet what you do reminds me of what is possible. It is one of your many gifts. I thank YOU for sharing.