Monday, December 02, 2013

Tis the season, so don't get caught with coal in your stocking!   Santa lights his Christmas lights with Nuclear Power. 

It's hard to believe, but it's been two years since my children
helped create this video for the release of my children's book

Another family will be waiting for Santa to arrive down this 
particular fireplace. The stocking, and nutcrackers pictured here are in a storage unit somewhere in Raleigh, North Carolina. 

Tabitha and Jordan have their own places to decorate the year. Which means Tabitha is decorating and Jordan is watching his roommate decorate.

The Thanksgiving holiday found my family cozying up next to a hotel room radiator in Eastern Tennessee where my husband and I are building what will be our empty-nest house.  

Which makes the memory of doing this video with my kids seem sweeter than it probably was. 

With any luck, this time next year the construction phase of our new home will be perceived the same sweet way!

 Ho Ho Ho...  

Friday, October 18, 2013

Spirit of Survivorship: NC Komen Pinkfest 2013

Receiving the 2013 Maureen Thomas Jordan Spirit of Survivorship Award.

On Sunday October 6, 2013 it was my pleasure to attend the Susan G. Komen Triangle to the Coast Annual Pinkfest Event. This year Pinkfest was held at the Renaissance Raleigh North Hills Hotel where survivors and our friends and family were invited to enjoy an afternoon of spa and beauty treatments along with drinks, door prizes and of course amazing sweets.

Tabitha and I grabbed our share of desserts, claimed our table and made a bee line to sign ourselves up for the spa treatments.  Then we set down to listen to the ceremonial portion of Pinkfest where the high light of the event was the introduction of sisters Diane Burnette, and Kathleen Thomas who in conjunction with the Susan G. Komen for the Cure NC Triangle to the Coast affiliate presented the Maureen Thomas Jordan Spirit of Survivorship Award.

This award is given in memory of their beloved sister Maureen Thomas Jordan.  Throughout her 9½ year battle with breast cancer, Maureen never lost her hope, courage, strength or faith. She was an inspiration to all who knew her.  The award is given to a breast cancer survivor who like Maureen represents the spirit of true survivorship: someone who faces this disease with grace and courage, who provides service to breast cancer survivors and is an inspiration to others.

The sisters began their presentation with a quote from this year’s recipient.  One I recognized because it has been on Nutcracker Publishing Company's website since the publication of Tickles Tabitha's Cancer-tankerous Mommy led to my first public speaking event in 2001.   “A victim fears tomorrow, a survivor lives life as if there is no tomorrow- despite her fears.” - Amelia Frahm

As soon as I heard it I realized I was going to be the 2013 recipient of the Maureen Thomas Jordan Spirit of Survivorship Award.  I cannot adequately put into words the range of emotions I felt at that moment.

I nudged Tabitha and asked her if she had known about this.  To which she replied, if she had known she would have insisted I wear the pink dress I had debated on instead of the jeans I was wearing. 

If I had known I would have been recording the entire ceremony so I could replay it anytime I am having a bad day or feeling rejected.  Yep, it would get a lot of play.  My take on life is you don’t accomplish anything worthy of an award without first experiencing humiliation and rejection.

To experience the opposite was humbling. I sit there trying to think of what I should say when I accepted the award and telling myself over and over- do not cry- do not cry.

Receiving the Maureen Thomas Jordan Spirit of Survivorship Award is a memory I will cherish the rest of my life.  It served as a poignant reminder of how blessed I have been and validation that something I have done has indeed mattered.  

I am indebted to Christine Andrade, Corporate Sponsorship Manager at the NC Komen Affiliate who nominated me and am so grateful that my daughter, Tabitha was there to share this moment with me.  

Receiving the  2013 Maureen Thomas Jordan Spirit of Survivorship Award was an incredible honor. Although I received the award, much of the credit for it goes to my family, friends and even complete strangers.

As any survivor who has thrived will understand, my cancer diagnosis did not just affect me, but everyone who loved me and some who did not. I am grateful to all of you.

Happy Pink Pumpkin Month!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Looking Backward

In July we sold our North Carolina home; the movers came and hauled our things to storage; we helped our daughter move into her own apartment in Raleigh, NC, and watched as our son drove back to Cullowhee, NC, where he now lives and works while attending Western Carolina University. 

The dog and I drove to Alabama to join my husband, Randy, where he has worked full-time and lived part-time for years. Instead of commuting by air, we get to live together and commute mostly by car. We have been spending weekends driving to TN where we plan to build a house. A house we will move into without our children.

It happens to all mothers, and it has happened to me. The babies my life revolved around, and the reasons I wrote a children’s book in the first place, have grown up.

Only an adult Jordan would
 have paid $ for this!
On September 14th, I watched as my children paid a dollar to dance with the groom, their close childhood friend Andrew Toperzer, at a wedding reception held at his parents’ home in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.

Jordan & Andrew-
back in the day!
As I gazed across the dance floor at my own kids and our former Minnesota neighbor kids, it was that surreal feeling of disbelief, pride, and surprise. In my mind, I still - and probably always will - picture the children they once were.

My son, Jordan, was a chubby, dimpled five-year-old, and my daughter, Tabitha, a precocious seven years when we bid good bye to the first best friends and neighbors they loved, and moved across the country to Minnesota from Tennessee.

Our new neighbors, Steve and Denise Toperzer, came over with all four of their children in tow to introduce themselves.

Paul, Krista, Andrew, Laura.- all grown up. Unfortunately or maybe - lucky for them- all of my photo albums and most of my pictures taken in their youthful past are in storage.

Paul, their oldest son, was around 13-years-old, and had a look that said he would have rather been anywhere else. In time we came to adore Paul, and even liked his gang of friends I tagged “the lost boys”, but my first impression was that I would have been fine with him being anywhere else!  Ha!

Eleven-year-old Krista, their oldest daughter, was shy and quiet, but her mom let us know that she had just been certified to babysit. My children would soon beg for us to go out alone so Krista could babysit them.

Andrew, whom I would be accused of favoring, was, eight, and the only child who looked enthused to meet us. Of course I favored him- despite annoying me with his biased opinions on anything and everything, he was the kid most apt to do my bidding on any harebrained project I might have- and he didn't mind bending a rule or three.

Laura, their youngest, was a year younger than Tabitha. I don’t remember if she stayed to play that very day, but I do remember that after quietly sizing each other up, it took about a nanosecond for another precocious child and Tabitha to decide they would be best friends forever.

Today and 

only yesterday.

It seems unbelievable that this all took place more than a decade ago. Or that this January 2014  it will be two decades since I was diagnosed with breast cancer and first penned Tickles Tabitha’s Cancer-tankerous Mommy for Tabitha and Jordan. It has been a life-altering journey full of highs and lows, some of them occurring at the exact same time.

I once told a Minnesota audience that not even a telephone fortuneteller (this was before the internet) would have predicted all that had happened to me because it would have sounded too far-fetched.

After all, who in their right mind would have believed I would end up living in Minnesota? Or miss it when I left?

The Nutcracker Publishing Company has given me a career, identity, and recognition outside of my life as a wife and mother. But best of all, it gave me the ability to mesh my personal and professional lives. In between media pitches and book events, there was unicyling club, children’s parties, and even cross-country moves.

While my children were preoccupied with the drama that childhood provides like- the infamous neighborhood war Tabitha and her best friend forever, Laura, fought with the neighborhood kids-I was setting up a web site and establishing my reputation as a writer.

Nutcracker Publishing Company celebrates its 13th anniversary this October. I have decided it will be my last year. My husband says, and it is true, I am always excited to leave a place behind and venture on to something new, but I still cry when I leave.

In the blogs that follow this one, besides sharing what is going on these days, I thought I would reminisce about the things that happened along the way- the people, places, and even world events that have made it interesting.

Like Mr. & Mrs. Andrew Toperzer!
September 14, 2013

Andrew's wedding was quite the party!

Friday, April 19, 2013

At the John Locke Foundation discussing Nuclear Literacy for Elementary Students

It was my pleasure to speak at the John Locke Foundation's Shaftesbury Society Luncheon.  I have to admit, I was nervous in front of this nonprofit think tank audience of esteemed movers and shakers.  

       Click on the arrow above to view my presentation.

I had nothing to be nervous about as my audience, and the JLF staff, could not have been more charming or supportive when it comes to educating our children about nuclear power plants.

Published on Apr 15, 2013
Amelia Frahm, author of "Nuclear Power: How a Nuclear Plant Really Works," discusses the challenge of boosting nuclear literacy among elementary school students. Frahm offered these comments during an April 15, 2013, speech to the John Locke Foundation's Shaftesbury Society. Video courtesy of Watch full-length presentations of JLF presentations here:

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Color of Advocacy

There is a  line in the movie Steel Magnolias where Shelby says "my colors are blush and bashful."  Whereas her mother says "her colors are pink and pink!"

Your colors are neither, you are not an expert
I understand Shelby's exasperation.  I feel it toward myself as I am often torn between the colorful topics of cancer and nuclear power. Two distinct topics that I have written children's picture books about.

With my writer's imagination I hear Shelby saying in her Southern accent,  "your colors are breast cancer awareness pink and nuclear advocacy green ."  To which her mother admonishes , "your colors are neither, you are a children's book writer not an expert."

Which is why I am always, amazed, mystified, and extremely honored when, bona fide advocates and experts  of breast cancer awareness and nuclear energy are appreciative of what I do and include me in their initiatives.  

Last September when my "baby" left for college. I left my empty nest in North Carolina to hide out in an apartment in Alabama where my husband works.  Life as I had known it was over, and I was feeling sorry for myself, when I received a call from Christine Andrade, a woman I had never met.  

Christine is the Corporate Sponsorship Manager for the NC Triangle Susan G. Komen Foundation. She called to tell me that she had nominated me for 2012 Maureen Thomas Jordan Spirit of Survivorship Award.  

I was moved, flattered, and  astonished to discover someone had nominated me, and that someone was affiliated with the Susan G. Komen Foundation!  A foundation synonymous with breast cancer pink, but for me pink is synonymous with learning to embrace change. 

In  January I was contacted by John Shanahan, author of the Shanahan Energy Letter and  the founder of Go Nuclear! Inc., regarding my nuclear education programs and children's book about nuclear power.  He appreciated  that I had done both a children's book about cancer and one about nuclear power plants.  As he explained, anti-nuclear advocacy had  not just tarnished the clean green hue of nuclear power plants, but  also nuclear medicine and treatments that benefit cancer patients.

Go Nuclear! is a non-profit global initiative whose mission is to inform and educate our youth and young professionals about nuclear energy and nuclear medicine in the hopes they will pay it forward. John wanted two more advisers to represent the United States and asked if I was interested. 

He was asking me to consider having my name listed amongst the real world equivalent of the PhD-ed  IQ's featured on The Big Bang Theory. Not much for me to consider, of course I was interested!

Along with  flattered, I usually feel overwhelmed and out of my league most the time. It is humbling to be able to call these amazing, intelligent, courageous, colorful advocates my colleagues. 

Like Artist Suzanne Hobbs Baker, Executive Director of PopAtomic Studios which established The Nuclear Literacy Project. This February she  packed up her art supplies and headed across the ocean to explore the European nuclear industry.  Along the way she is blogging about her adventures in Diary of A Nuclear Tourist. 

The color of advocacy is as varied as Suzy's paints, but one thing is certain, coward yellow is not the signature color of any of my colleagues.