The Summer of George…err, Denise: Gratitude Comes Calling

We are huge fans of the old Seinfeld series, watching the reruns to the point that we know the dialogue by heart. Dan says that most every life situation is dealt with on the show, and I have to agree with him; relationship issues, societal issues- they covered the gamut with a hearty side of laughter (my favorite part). One of our favorite episodes was The Summer of George, in which George proclaimed his perfect summer would be spent in his underwear, sitting in his favorite recliner, eating a huge block of cheese- a summer where everything went his way (a rare thing for George). 

Well, Dan has proclaimed this summer the ‘Summer of Denise’, even though I don’t own a recliner, nor do I plan on spending the summer sitting around in my underwear, eating a large block of cheese. I also thought it was ironic, as I spent part of my summer getting rid of a tumor I had named George. It has turned out to be a pretty good summer, though, and today I found myself almost in tears thinking through the litany of positives from the past weeks. This is not to say that there have not been some incredibly sad and difficult times recently, too; we lost our precious kitty Kasey to cancer and our friend, John, who was like a brother to us. While those events cast shadows on my heart that will stay with me, I am always looking for the bright light of good that weaves its way through our lives, making even the most challenging times bearable and hopeful. Life is about balance, isn’t it?

I kicked off the summer with a total hysterectomy which, as I mentioned, showed my tennis ball-sized tumor, George,  the door. After a few rough weeks, I am healing well and back to feeling strong. Even better- test results came back with no sign of cancer. People were incredibly kind to me during the whole process, visiting, sending cards, flowers, and thoughtful gifts, and I was overwhelmed at their generosity of spirit. There is so much good in the world amidst all of the chaos. I’m going to keep looking for it. 

The waiting area for mammography at Kirkland Clinic.  

Other great things happened; I received official notification that my promotion became official, and I became the first woman Full Professor in our Department of Music- a career goal that I so wish my mother had been here to see. I was called in to have a large mass in my right breast re-examined. The radiologist came out beaming- there was no sign of the mass in the re-test. My best friend Diane- a breast cancer survivor- was here visiting  and went with me to the clinic for moral support. When I came out into the waiting room afterwards and told her the good news, we both burst into tears. I hadn’t realized just how much I’d been worrying about it all, as I’d focused my energies on healing from the hysterectomy. Having my health- especially with my family’s strong history of cancer- is one of the greatest gifts ever. 


Other great news; we got our dog Cooper to the vet in time for the care she needed  to beat the pancreatitis that almost took her from us while we were out of town recently.  I had an educational blog post be chosen to be included in a national publication. I got one of the best annual review letters from my Chair that I’ve ever gotten. I was just able to spend over a week with my best friend as we rehearsed some wonderful music written for our Duo that we will perform at ClarinetFest next month.  AND- my new clarinets arrived- incredibly special instruments from the Canadian clarinet maker, Morrie Backun, and I chose a new mouthpiece that is making everything better playing-wise. All of these cool things, and I still have the publication of the book on my mentor to look forward to. So many things to be grateful for and to be humbled by. 

New clarinets!!

BFF time…over thirty years of friendship. 

Here’s the thing I’ve noticed in all of this that perplexes me…I feel afraid. Afraid to really let go and enjoy the flow of blessings, fearing that some other shoe is going to drop- that somehow I don’t deserve these good things in my life. For all of her cuteness, my mother had this very same trait, that niggling fear always lurking. As someone who is defiantly positive, I don’t understand this propensity to embrace fear and doubt, and feel such frustration that I can’t seem to control it. It’s true- bad things will happen to all of us at some point; it’s a part of life, that balance that I mentioned earlier. However, knowing that life’s challenges will happen should never take away from the joy of the moment. That joy is an anchor to hold onto when we are buffeted about by strife. I always want to celebrate all of the good, relish it, own it. 

And so, I proclaim this the Summer of Denise, a summer full of joy, celebration, sorrow, laughter, hard work, rest, successes, failures, insecurities, lessons- a summer of life. I am grateful for every single moment of it…and I will do my best to kick fear to the curb and not allow it to tarnish what are meant to be beautiful moments. I always want to be present and open when gratitude comes to call. And the more open I am to gratitude’s insistent knock on the door, the more I will have to be grateful for. 

8 thoughts on “The Summer of George…err, Denise: Gratitude Comes Calling

  1. You highlighted your hair! Congratulations on all the good news – promotion, mammogram, and your new clarinets. You look like a kid who just received the best birthday and Christmas gifts all at once!

    1. Thanks, JoAnne! My hairdresser decided that it was time to go lighter to cover the rapidly encroaching gray :). It has been quite the summer, and I definitely feel like a kid a Christmas- a very grateful one.

  2. So happy for your good health news. I can totally relate to your fears…I’ve had both thyroid and breast cancer, and every time I have to go in for a checkup, I’m wondering if this is the time I’ll get bad news again. I try not to think that way and just be happy for all this time I’ve had since the surgeries, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t waiting for the other shoe to drop, as the saying goes. Your post came at a good time for me, though. I retire at the end of this week after almost 31 years working with emotionally disturbed teens at a special ed school. I’m determined to make this stage of my life just as meaningful, and maybe just a little more fun. It helps to know others go through similar trials and fears, so I am saying an heartfelt thanks for sharing. I just may make this the summer of Lynn!

    1. Lynn, you have been through so much- wow. I so hope you do make this ‘The Summer of Lynn’. I guess we’ll always have that fear hiding in the bushes, but the more we can hold onto that hope and gratitude, the more fear cowers. I hope this next chapter of your life is full of meaning and joy- I will be cheering you on! ❤️

  3. You have a lot of wonderful things happening to you amidst the fear… I’ve learned over the past few years, life is all about the peaks and valleys. That is how life ebbs and flows. Up and down and no matter how much we fear, the valleys will always come but then there will always be another peak to follow. So the best we can all do is, have faith, hope and keep moving forward…

    1. You are so right, Robyn, and that ‘moving forward’ through it all is so important. We learn from the valleys, and they make us appreciate those peaks so much more. ❤️

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