An inspiring example of living life

I’m so inspired by this woman and her late husband. I’m also proud to be (distantly) related to her. Here’s the synopsis: Nora’s then-boyfriend was diagnosed with a brain tumor. An eternally positive person, he says he can handle it. They married anyway, had a baby, lived life. This year, she not only lost her husband, but also their unborn baby and her father. She shared her story in an honest, vulnerable, humorous way. She didn’t pretend to be superwoman. She admitted her fears and shortcomings. We can all learn from Aaron’s “it’s all going to be OK attitude and Nora’s humor and strength.

I also loved how they just had faith. They didn’t let the diagnosis or inevitable medical bills stop them. They went to shows. They had a child. They lived, believing everything would be OK. Not that Aaron would miraculously overcome the tumor, but that whatever happened, they’d be OK.

I found it all inspiring. In part because I struggle to trust. I have had a great history of things working out. My move back to Seattle was no small feat for the universe to pull off, but man, did it deliver. So I have no reason not to trust. I have all sorts of reason to trust. So I’ll read Aaron & Nora’s “love story with some cancer” and remind myself to live and trust.

Some links:
Aaron’s obituary, which went viral. He hilariously claimed to be Spider-Man.

They didn’t fear death. That’s living life big and truly inspiring.

Read more of Nora’s fantastically written story here  and trust whatever happens, it’s going to be OK.

Big ups to my other distant cousin, Nicole for sharing the story.

A few good men

  • When I was looking for apartments, I found an otherwise perfect one – except it was on the first floor. My then-boyfriend said he would have considered that a convenience, not a safety issue.
  • I walk a block out of my way to my nearest subway station to avoid a man who openly harasses women from his stoop.
  • I once explained to an ex-boyfriend why I wouldn’t walk down an alley as a shortcut.

I’m not alone. I think every woman on the planet goes out of her way to protect herself.

In fact a college class was asked to write about what they do to stay safe. The young women described the intricate ways they stayed alert, which also limited their access to the world. The women essentially thought about rape all the time, according to “Men Explain Things to Me” by Rebecca Solnit.

The men in the class were reportedly astonished, like the two ex-boyfriends I explained my own precautions to.

A few chapters later, Solnit tells of a university where male suspects raped female students. In response, the university told women not to go out alone after dark – or not to go out at all.

Some pranksters turned the tables by putting up posters, saying that men shouldn’t go outside after dark, so the women could walk without fear. After all, men were the suspects, why should the women be limited?

Of course the men were shocked at being asked to “disappear.” But the other way around seemed perfectly reasonable.

I don’t have the answers for how to end this. I also have a feeling I won’t after reading the last 20 pages of this book.

My dad and me
My dad and me

But on Father’s Day, I find myself especially grateful for my dad, my grandfathers, my uncles, brother, brother-in-law, cousins and friends who helped make me the woman I am today. I’m thankful I have role models who taught me how real men behave and what a lady should never, ever have to put up with.

My brother, the fun uncle and dad.
My brother, the fun uncle and dad.

My dad taught me to read a map, change a tire, hang sheetrock, tile a bathroom, balance my checkbook and more. My brother, Domonic, and big cousin Tony tricked me every way they could think of, so I wouldn’t fall for anyone else’s tricks.

Don’t get me wrong, the ladies in my life: My mom, grandma, aunts, sisters and friends are also strong, confident people who can clean a fish, cook Thanksgiving dinner and raise intelligent, respectful, caring sons and and daughters.

But it’s Father’s Day, a day to honor the men who were there for us. So thank you, Dad, Domonic and all for teaching me to be cautious, but not live in fear. Thank you for giving me the tools to walk confidently and not take anyone’s crap.

And while we’re at it, we can shame the jackasses who force us to subconsciously make those intricate plans to stay safe.

PS.. Please read the book, so we can discuss it.

Mama’s rules for air travel

Mama Nelson worked at Northwest Airlines for many years. She taught us a lot about traveling.

  1. Always bring a snack. You never know if there will be food offered on the flight.

  2. Pack light and carry on. You get through the process faster and won’t lose your stuff.

  3. Never, ever put anything in the seat back pockets: It’s not the place for your trash. It’s how people forget things. Plus, you never know what grossness the person before you put in there. (Once she found nail clippings. Eeeew!)

  4. Be kind and polite to the ticket agents, flight attendants and everyone. They don’t have the easiest of jobs and endure a lot of crabbiness.

  5. Doesn’t hurt to ask for first class.
  6. Hold out on volunteering until they offer you enough for a free flight, then accept!

Lessons from a toddler

He fearlessly threw his tiny body down the slide.
He fearlessly threw his tiny body down the slide.

Nolan threw his belly on the seat of the toy train at the mall and then pulled his legs up. I could have lifted him into the seat, but I didn’t. I stood by and watched what he’d do.

Finally he wiggled until he was sitting upright. He looked over at me and flashed a big smile that said, “Do you see me, Aunt Candace? I’m sitting in the cool train!”

Right that second, my 19-month-old nephew taught me something. He taught me that if there’s something I want, I have to be determined. I have to throw my whole self at it. No fear. Go all in.

And when I succeed, I need to beam with pride.

We did it!

This June marks 15 years (!) since my high school graduation. I didn’t go to my 10-year class reunion, but going to the 15-year doesn’t sound like total hell. I’ve got a good life I’d be happy to show off. If I could go back and give my class graduation speech, I’d have some smart words of wisdom to dispense.

 Ladies and gentlemen of the class of ’99,

High school buddies.

It’s often said that you shouldn’t go further than what feels right to you today, and that the only person you should compete against is the you of yesterday.

This is good advice at the gym as well as in life.

You might never be the best, but you probably won’t be the worst either. That’s how you know you’re in the right place. Exactly where you need to be.

But if your place doesn’t feel right, maybe it’s not. There’s no shame in going to therapy, asking for help or taking a chance.

The only wrong choice is to do nothing.

The best way to boost endorphins is to exercise. But if you don’t do that, other proven ways are eating chocolate, drinking wine and having sex. But I recommend all four.

Find things you love to do. And do them often.

Find people you love. And see them often.

Find work you love. And quit doing it before you stop loving it.

Remember that the least interesting people in high school are the ones who are waiting to peak when it really matters. When you’re 30, no one wants to be friends with the ones who peaked at 17.

From today on, you are responsible for your actions. There’s no more blaming your parents for not teaching you or blaming circumstances for wronging you. Your life is your responsibility. Step up, take chances and take control.

If anyone tells you you can’t, prove them wrong.

And when you do, be sure to remind your doubter often.

No matter how old you get, poop jokes will be funny, you will not feel like you have your life figured out and you will never be too old to try new things.

If you want to do something, do it now. Today. You can do it later, but you’ll only find more reasons not to. Don’t wait.

Don’t burn bridges. People you cast away today might be people you really need in the future.

If you don’t fail often, you aren’t being innovative enough.


If you don’t know, ask.

If you make a mistake, admit it.

If you mess up royally, apologize profusely.

That’s how you earn respect.

Move out of your hometown. There’s a great big world out there – one where people aren’t just like you. I want you to experience all this earth has to offer. I don’t want you to miss out.

Home will always be there. Even if it changes location.

Play nice with others.

Say I love you.

Don’t shy away from pain. Our feelings are how we learn. Embrace them. Good or bad.

Wake up every morning and choose to live.

And remember, if your hair looks good when you’re done, you didn’t do it right.

Life advice: Make something a challenge

If everything in your life is easy, it’s time to shake something up …

Bored? Take Spanish class.
Bored? Take Spanish class.

but don’t shake everything at once.

A former manager let me in on this secret for success. I was becoming complacent. I had mastered my job. My home life was easy peasy. All was good.

And boring.

She suggested I go back to school on the company dime. Yes please!

I liked that so much, I decided to shake up more areas of my life. I moved to New York (challenging). I started intellectual property law classes (challenging). I lived with roommates again (challenging).

But I kept that same easy job. Now, when I start getting comfortable, I ask myself what I can make challenging.

It’s Great Advice Day 3


It’s great advice, day 3!

Be the kind of person you want to meet.

If you don’t want to date someone who is needy, out-of-shape, lacking confidence or stupid, don’t be those things yourself.

If you want to be friends with confident, adventurous life-loving people, be that yourself.

It’s as simple as that.

I would like to add that an investment in YOU is always a sure thing. If you need a life coach, gym membership or want to move across the country, go for it! Bettering yourself is always a smart choice. Investing in someone else will not always pay off. Self-confidence is the only way to win at life.


You gotta take care of you

“You’ve gotta do you.”

Preparing for Baby Nolan with an apple orchard baby shower.
Preparing for Baby Nolan with an apple orchard baby shower.

That’s James’ version, but there are plenty other ways to express this idea. Put your oxygen mask on before assisting others. New moms are often reminded the best thing to do for their kids is take care of their mom.

Whatever words you choose, it’s a good life rule. It’s not selfish to put yourself first. If you don’t, no one else will. Someone has to take care of you.

I’ve had this conversation with so many of my friends. It seems epidemic to “do everyone else” first and keep the leftovers for ourselves. We do things out of a sense of obligation rather than because we want to.

  • I should go to her baby shower.
  • I should throw her baby shower.
  • I should run that race.
  • I should help them move.
  • I should take care of my older relatives.
  • I should make Christmas gifts for everyone.

I spent time in therapy learning how to stop “overgiving.” When my therapist asked what I would like to do with my newly found time, the first thing I said was “volunteer more.” She nicely told me that wasn’t the answer she was looking for.

I got the message loud and clear. When I moved to New York, I stopped putting anyone else first. I stopped with the “I shoulds.” Now when I give it’s because I want to.

That’s not to say we can’t plan our friends’ birthday parties or that it’s OK to neglect people who need us. It just means more if it comes from the heart than out of obligation.

You know what? It feels really good to “do me.” I no longer go out with friends because they want me to. I go out with friends because I want to. When I go out of a (self-imposed) sense of obligation, I’m not really present. I’m going through the motions, but not happy to be there. Maybe I’m counting down how long I “have to” be there before I can leave. None of those scenarios are good for me or the people I’m with.

It’s better to “do me” and say “no thanks” to invitations I’m not interested in. That leaves me with more room in my heart and my schedule for things I want to do – like when I threw baby showers for my friend Betsy and sister-in-law Sarah. I loved that and didn’t want anyone else to do it instead of me.