Wednesday, July 29, 2009

7/29/09 “Carpe Diem” !!

We have all heard the old Latin saying “Carpe Diem”, loosely translated to mean seize the day. I have always loved this saying and for the most part tried to live my life the best that I could to make the most out of each day. But after going thru cancer and all that treatments bring to the table that old Latin saying has certainly taken on new life for me. It’s hard to put into words, but when you start having little moments of feeling like your old self things you are used to doing can take on a new or more intensive meaning. As I have been getting out and performing this has certainly become the case. And even though I am still a long way from the end of the recovery process I am so thankful to be out playing music. It can be exhausting and because weight has been hard to gain I really need a fair amount of help with hauling, setting up and breaking down sound. It looks like I will be able to do most of the summer performances, but I have had to cancel a few performances where I would be by myself for several nights in a row without help. But everyday takes on its own new meaning, and although we all know that life is finite and we have no guarantees in life, the moment, the day, this day becomes ever so sweeter. The photo this week is with my good friend Tom Hodgson at a concert we did in Brewerton NY last week . Last weekend we played for the Cranberry Dulcimer festival and this week I will be traveling with Peggy and doing some concerts with Peg and Dan Berggren later this week and this weekend. Eating is still the main issue but I am doing my best to get as many calories as I can, and I am in the process of writing some sort of soft food song !!! Slowly my energy level is coming back but it will be a while before my energy is back to what used to be normal. But the good news is that I am getting little pieces of that kind of energy every once in a while and music is usually involved. Stay tuned.

It has been wonderful to see so many of you as we are out doing concerts and workshops, it brings up to me the kindness and generosity that has been shown to Peggy and I this winter and spring. And for that I am forever grateful. Remember to make the most of every day, today is your day !! Carpe Diem !! I’ll look forward to seeing many of you as the summer progresses and in the meantime I’ll look for you at 7:00.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

7/22/09 Setting goals

During March and April as I was going thru treatments it was really hard to see how any of our summer schedule would be able to happen. Looking thru the lens of uncertainty is a really difficult thing to do and none of us can tell the future. None the less I set it upon myself to have a few goals that I hoped I could reach. One goal was to be able to perform at the beginning of July with the Susquehanna String Band and the Symphony of Northern NY as well many other performance dates on the calendar for the summer season. The other main goal I had was to able to be healthy enough to attend my wife’s daughter Winter’s wedding. Right now I feel really good that I was able to achieve both of those goals. Not to say that it has been easy or without challenge! Traveling with the limited amount of things I can eat is a real challenge, as well as getting the amount of rest needed to be successful, especially for performances. But I feel pretty good about being able to meet the goals that I have set and hopefully meet the ones that I am setting right now for the future. Just like going thru Cancer treatments, a lot of the success we have or don’t have can be attributed to our mental attitude and positive outlook. Many folks that I talked too during the spring encouraged me to shy away from setting these kind of goals for I was only setting myself up for disappointment if they were not met. But I really had to have some concrete things to shoot for as we continue to go thru this long recovery process. Goals really do make a difference and when we are successful it just helps us to continue to reach the on going goals that we set in life !!

Well playing music has been just a wonderful thing to say the least !! Last week I did an intergenerational camp at Great Camp Sagamore and then drove to Poughepsie to Winters wedding and then back to Inlet for a Saturday evening concert on the lake with Peggy as the sun was setting. Things went well, but needless to say I really have to make adjustments to be able to perform with the challenges I am facing. One of the more interesting side effects has been my voice dropping in pitch. Its hard to sing where I used to so we have to lower the keys of the songs to adjust. This weekend I will be the featured Hammered Dulcimer artist at the Cranberry Dulcimer and Autoharp festival held at the Kellish Hill Farm in Pompey NY. I am really looking forward to it and especially the concert on Saturday night with Tom Hodgson and Henry Jankiewicz. The concerts are all open to the public so if you are around central NY. I would love to see you. Also a great big thank you to Carl Heilman, Dan Berggren, Casie Filliaci, and Nancy Brown for holding the wonderful benefit for Peggy and I last Sunday night at Tannery Pond community center in North Creek NY. I was too pooped to make it but all the reports were fantastic and Peg and I so appreciate all the time and effort donated to make the event such a success. And a big thank you to all of you who have been so incredibly encouraging and supportive as we go thru this recovery period. Remember to set goals for yourself, it can really help to keep us on track. I look forward to hopefully seeing many of you later this summer and as always I will look for you at 7:00 !

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

7/14/09 Lessons Learned !

One of the first things we did when we started going thru this Cancer maze was to start an accordion file and keep copies of all of our many scans, reports etc. so we always would have them when seeing different doctors. After having the last pet scan, {we had to wait quite a while to get results} and after things looked a bit unsettled I just wanted to get in the car and put a lot of this behind us, which is exactly what we did. This week I went to see the ENT {ear, nose and throat specialist} who I see each month to make sure there are no changes and I was really looking forward to getting his take on the latest Pet scan. But when I finally got to see him, he did not have a copy of the scan and I was just kicking myself for momentarily letting my guard down and not having copies of the latest scan. The next morning I called over to the oncologist office and had them fax a copy over to me. I was reminded once again that you have to be your strongest advocate when dealing with all of the people who are helping you thru your treatment and recovery.So next month when the ENT tells me he doesn't have a copy of pet scan I can just say here you go. If you can’t advocate for yourself then no one else most likely will !! A lesson well learned.

This week I am doing the music for the intergenerational camp at Great Camp Sagamore. I have a class with kids in the morning and then one in the afternoon and some activity in the evening. Last night we had a dance and I was so pleased at how well things went. My good friend Tom Hodgson joined me and it was just a treat to get to play and call again. I am really learning to pace myself, to make really good use of the headset microphone, and I make sure to get lots of rest {two naps on monday !}. Although the work does tire me out it is so wonderful to be out performing and doing my best at filling my summer schedule. The one thing that this whole experience has taught me is to be thankful for each day as it comes along. Every day will have it challenges but its how we meet those challenges that make the difference. Once again Peggy and I are so thankful for all of your generous help and support, it continues to make a huge difference as I go through these months of recovery. Also speaking of benefits, Dan Berggren and Carl Heilman will host a benefit for Peggy and I this Sunday evening July 19th at the Tannery Pond Community center in North Creek NY. Carl will present his new program “I am the Adirondacks” that Dan, Peggy, Casie Filiachi and I did the music for. It is a wonderful program and we are ever thankful to Dan and Carl for putting the benefit together. We truly hope to see some of you at some point this summer and in the meantime keep those vibes coming !! I’ll look for you at 7:00 !

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

7/07/09 Persistence !!

This has been a really enjoyable week. I was able to do the performances with the Susquehanna String Band and the Symphony of Northern NY. The music was wonderful and lifted our spirits and certainly brightened our day. Not to mention how great it was to see and hang out with Rick and John for a few days. But I am finding that doing the gigs this summer will take a lot forethought, energy and persistence! My energy level is still considerably lower than what is normal for me, and one of the biggest challenges right now is eating on the road. I take some soft food with me and everything that is needed for the peg tube. Getting enough calories to sustain things is really a challenge and going out to eat can be an adventure!! I do really well at the 24 hour breakfast places! Eggs, pancakes, and omelets all manna from heaven right now. I am also trying to be smart about having enough time to rest up before and after jobs. Last night I called the dance for the intergenerational camp here at Great Camp Sagamore in northern NY. With the help of the remote headset microphone things went pretty well. I am finding that my voice has become a bit deeper, (the speech therapist mentioned that this is really common from radiation anywhere near the vocal chords) and when I sing I will need to lower the keys of the songs so singing will be more comfortable !

As I look at our summer performance schedule, I know that I will have to take one day at a time and be as persistent as I can until things start to level out a little more.And as challenging as things may seem, I am truly thrilled to be able to be making music this summer. Positive attitude and persistence are two things that my Dad passed down to me and now I am finding the great virtue of these during this challenge of recovering from cancer treatments! I will continue to see the ENT every month and the oncologists every three months. In the meantime, I’ll keep the blog going every week with any updates that do occur! I hope to see you at a performance sometime this summer. And remember the power of persistence, if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Thanks so much again for all the support and thoughts that are coming our way, it is appreciated more than you will ever know . I’ll look for you at 7:00.