The current pandemic has given me lots of time to reflect on priorities. I’ve been thinking lots about how I take on tasks – because I can. Not because it’s the best use of my time.

For instance, years ago I was collaborating with another organization and had agreed to do many things for them. So many tasks I was having trouble remembering and prioritizing them. I decided the best thing to do was make a series of lists. Identifying all the organizations I was partnering with and the tasks I needed to do for them, as well as all the tasks I needed or wanted to do for my own business and personal life. The lists seemed endless. When I finished with the particular partner there were more than a dozen tasks on the list. As I stared at the list, I realized I was experiencing no reward from this partnership. At that instant I had one of those legacy moments – I put a squiggly bracket around it and wrote the words ‘or quit’. As I looked at the words, I felt this tremendous relief. So, quit I did!

Another decision moment like this where I evaluated my priorities and made one of those life-changing, outlook inspiring decisions happened soon after my first divorce. I had decided to move back to New York. After all, the only reason I had left New York was to be with my husband. I spent weeks looking for a job and making plans to move in with my mother so I would have help with my daughters. I had an offer from a company on Wall St. Things were falling beautifully into place. I had one more interview, that I opted to keep even though I was sure I was going to take the Wall St job. Driving to the interview I was following a trash truck through town that was making his rounds. I was sitting waiting for him to move forward when suddenly I realized he was rolling back. My first reaction was, it was that typical roll, that big vehicles do as they shift into gear. He continued to roll back until I leaned on my horn; by then my car was a foot shorter. Fortunately, there were witnesses and the driver readily claimed fault for the accident. I never did make the job interview. I did end up spending a week on Long Island dealing with Complete Auto Body in Baldwin and the village authorities (they were self-insured) to square away the repairs to my car. When things were settled enough that I could go home, I felt this tremendous tension release from me as I drove off the island. It was then I realized my support network and a slower lifestyle waited for me in southern Maryland. Maryland was home now not New York. Not moving let me be there for my girls, enjoying countless legacy moments.

There have been many decisions like this where when I keep my prioritize straight it’s always followed by the situations that legacy moments are made of.

Your Face

Have you ever tried to exercise your face? Over the last three years while waiting for the facial nerves to regenerate I’ve had the pleasure of figuring this out.

Given that some of the facial muscles have not been able to work at all during these three years they are terrible ‘out of shape’. Over the three years, I have tried numerous remedies. In the beginning, I was seeing a speech pathologist. She gave me fun exercises. Blowing noise-makers, blowing bubbles, blowing up balloons. As the healing was very slow the insurance would only pay for so many visits. I’ll have to pull these out again and see how successful I can be. The other thing she prescribed that was lots of fun, was laughter. I posted on Facebook looking for things to make me laugh, I discovered many people find people hurting themselves funny – not me. I spent many hours watching “Whose Line is it Anyway”. The concept with the laughter was to try to get the muscles to respond spontaneously. She also had me doing lots of tongue twisters.

When this coverage expired, I move onto a physical therapist that specialized in Bell’s Palsy recovery. We did many of the same games the speech therapist had me doing. She added, massage, electric stimulus, and other manipulations to try to wake up the muscles. Again, recovery was slow and the insurance ran out.

Next up I tried acupuncture, this too lasted as long as the insurance. The acupuncture seemed to spur on the nerve regeneration. I had just completed a course of treatment when the pandemic hit. I’m leaning towards going back when it’s safe to do so.

In the meantime, I’m continuing at home with a treatment plan I designed. I can tell that the muscles are being worked. I am very aware of the shift in which muscles are working. Because the left eye still doesn’t spontaneously blink I either get my steps in on the elliptical or running around the house. While I’m getting my steps in, I exercise my face. I have a routine that creates ten laps:

Lap 1) Repeat E O. Long exaggerated sounds. Eyes closed on E open wide on O.

Lap 2) A E I O U (long sounds) a e I o u ( short sounds) Blink on each sound.

The next six laps are tongue twisters. Blinking to the cadence.

Lap 3) The big black bug bled blue-black blood. The baby black bug bled blue blood.

Lap 4) Frank fed fat fish fresh fish food.

Lap 5) Many mummies munch mush. Many monsters munch mush. Many mummies and many monsters must munch much mush.

Lap 6) Ninety-nine knitted knickknacks were nicked by ninety-nine knitted knickknack nickers.

Lap 7) Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers. How many peppers were in the peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked?

Lap 8) How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood? A woodchuck would chuck all the wood if a woodchuck could chuck wood.

Lap 9) Squish face like smelling something horrific.

Lap 10) Blink blink blink.

Repeat until workout complete. I also made a playlist of songs I know the words to. For variety, I’ll sing along. It’s clearly helping as there have been numerous legacy moments over the last year of folks exclaiming “Your face!” in the best possible way.

Future Plans

As we practice sheltering in place, we are discovering how hard it is not to be able to make plans. Tasks as simple as planning a doctor’s visit has become a complex procedure. Life goes on, but not as we knew it. We are used to so much freedom, we don’t want to be told what to do. We want to go to the market when we want. We want to go to sporting and other entertainment events when we want. We want to go where we want, when we want, how we want. The thought of sheltering in place or worse a full quarantine is terrifying for many.

For those of us that have had to deal with cancer treatment or likely any other major illness, we understand this all too well. Life gets put on hold. Everything that seemed important becomes unimportant. Family, friends, connecting become tremendously important. Fighting the disease a day at a time becomes the norm.

Then there are the times the cure feels worse than the disease. (Except the disease typically carries a life sentence). So, you continue to fight.

There are also the legacy moments, that make it so much easier. For me, the people and the moments are:

  • My husband for sitting beside me through every appointment and day in the hospital.
  • My children and their families for putting their lives on hold just to be with me.
  • The fellow in NYC, who walked me to my destination after I asked for assistance getting across an ice patch.
  • The fellow in Baltimore who did the same when I couldn’t determine if I was looking at a puddle or ice.
  • The doctors, who made it possible for me to now say I am cancer-free.
  • The physical therapist that got me out of my head and on the way to recovery.
  • The ICU nurses that made me feel like the most important patient they had.
  • My friends that stopped by, insisting I looked great even with half of my face paralyzed.
  • My eye doctor who has worked tirelessly to try to save the vision in that paralyzed eye.
  • The physical therapists that got me back on my feet.
  • The speech and physical therapists that worked so valiantly to help me recover the use of the muscles in my face.
  • The acupuncturists that have stimulated the nerve regeneration in my face.
  • My oncologist, who gets giddy with excitement every time he sees how much I’ve healed.
  • And so many more

This journey for me has been more than three years. I know many who’s struggle has been much more intense. Sheltering at home, with all the comforts, feels like so little to ask of people. I hear things like – I have cabin fever, I just had to get out. Cabin fever is much easier to recover from than Covid-19. I hear others say, I’m basically healthy, it won’t be a big deal if I catch it. Maybe not, for you but what about the ten, twenty, or more people you pass it on to. We are in this together. Let’s defeat this invisible enemy and continue to create many more legacy moments.

Social Distancing

I for one in finding the mandate to stay home wonderful. I am cooking more and getting to things I’ve been ignoring for years. We are fortunate to have a comfortable home and all the amenities that go with that. We are also fortunate that the first hour of the day at our favorite supermarket is for ‘at risk’ individuals. Given that the 3 of us in the household fall in that category, it’s a godsend to have.
It does remind me of storms that left us stranded at home. Most power outages from storms, leave us without the basic niceties. One of the easiest ones was a storm that left us without power for a week. It was a lovely time of the year so there was no need for heat or air conditioning. We had a generator that supplied enough power for the refrigerator, the coffee pot, the fish tanks, the internet, 1 tv, a couple of lights and a power strip to allow us to charge devices. The greatest challenge was the hot water. We all became very adept at quick showers and using the water just enough to get wet and rinse. The day the hot water started turning cold, the power was restored.

Many years ago, when my girls were still fairly small, we lost power because of a catastrophic ice storm. Our water was supply via a well and pump. Without power, there was no way to get water to the house. It was ten days of frigid temperatures. This house we did not have a generator, so we had to be resourceful. We would hack off chunks of ice to keep in the fridge to ensure nothing spoiled. We used the grill not only to cook but to melt ice to be able to flush the toilet. We closed off all the bedrooms and made a huge bed with all the pillows and blankets we had in the house. All of us would cuddle under the mound of blankets to get warm enough to sleep.

Having vacationed at the shack, without the benefits of screen time, my girls found this to be just another adventure. Easily entertaining themselves day after day. Four or five days into the event, the roads were finally passable. We had the foresight to leave the car at the top of the hill that was my driveway. A friend called to let me know she had power and if we could get there, we were welcome to use her showers. I suspect none of us recall how ripe we were getting as we were all in the same predicament.

My significant other of the time quickly gave in to cabin fever. We were less than twenty-four hours without power when he determined he needed to go out to hunt for hot food. I do remember the ribs he found tasting great.

With the inconvenience many are experiencing in an attempt to follow the social distancing guidelines, I’ve been seeing many positives. Families are cooking and sharing meals. Families are spending quality time together. I’ve seen more of my neighbors walking in the neighborhood then I have ever seen. I see neighbors checking on each other. I see people coming together to thwart a common, invisible enemy. We will get through this together, hopefully, a kinder, gentler people. With many legacy moments to follow.


I’ve always enjoyed volunteering. I don’t recall all of the opportunities, but some will stay with me forever.

As a young teenager, I volunteered with an organization called ANCHOR (Answer the Needs of Children with Handicaps through Organized Recreation). During the summer there was a camp on the beach for ten weeks. It was a great way to spend the summer on the beach. All summer, each time we had a birthday to celebrate I would bake. At the end of the summer, the staff gave me a cookie cookbook – I still have and use that cookbook.

The most intense experience I had was working with a young boy, Lloyd. Lloyd was very timid and panicked easily near water. Turns out his challenges were the result of nearly drowning. Each day we’d go to the pool he would find a spot as far from the water as possible. I started hanging out with him. Throughout the summer we gradually moved closer to the water. Finally, getting close enough to dangle our feet. By the end of the summer, we were having more trouble getting him out of the pool then we had had getting him in. A legacy moment that will live with me forever.

I had gotten involved with Anchor and Special Olympics because I had two special needs sisters that were always showing their abilities rather than their disabilities.

After my kids were grown, I decided it was time to start giving back again. I started with volunteering for the board for Special Olympics Maryland. Special Olympics Maryland has the largest polar bear plunge. At this point it is so large it is spread out over a week. I never took the plunge but I hear it is exhilarating. As a result of this, I was invited and accepted being on the board of the Monarch Academy – a school for children that are learning challenged.

About the same time, I discovered Rotary, I’m not sure why I was so intent on joining Rotary, but I am so glad I did. Over seven years, I served in many roles: Black Tie & Diamonds chair, a lane directory, secretary, treasurer, vice president, president-elect, and president. Our Rotary Club hosts the world’s largest crab feast every August. It’s all volunteer-driven and an amazing event to watch. Our club will be celebrating one hundred years shortly. 2020 will be the seventy-fifth time the crab feast takes place. Every Rotary club is unique but they all stand for the same things. I’ve had to take a few years off from Rotary for many reasons. Last week, I attended this year’s Black Tie & Diamonds with my husband. I had the opportunity to meet many of the new Rotarians. The response was fairly consistent – ‘Bea Carson, you’re legendary’. Feels great to know I made a difference.

My most fascinating Rotary moment happened in Norway. I was traveling to Oslo for work. The fellow sitting next to me on the plane was also a Rotarian. He invited me to attend his club’s meeting. As it turned out his meeting was at the same time I was scheduled to be presenting. Consequently, he and his wife invited me to their home for dinner. They sent their daughter to pick me up. We had salmon for an appetizer that his son had caught. Dinner consisted of moose he had caught and potatoes and vegetables from their garden. And was finished with homemade ice cream and blueberries from the garden. All of this, simply because we were both Rotarians and thus a true legacy moment.

Miles and Miles

I find I am best about exercise if I set myself up with a challenge. Unfortunately, I am realizing repeating a challenge doesn’t do it for me.

Back in the days, I was marathoning, I dreamed of running a marathon in every state. With ten marathons I had successfully done:

The Marine Corps Marathon in DC (multiple times)

The Country Music Marathon in TN

The Wine Glass Marathon in NY

The NYC Marathon also in NY

The Rock and Roll Marathon In CA

The Baltimore Marathon in MD

The Disney Marathon in FL

The Virginia Beach Marathon in VA

So, only 6 states and DC. When I had the momentum it was great. But then I decided to go back to school for my doctorate. Unfortunately, with the course load, I gave up running and took up stress eating. With the doctorate complete I tried to get back to running but have never been able to motivate to train again.

My next challenge for exercise was P90X. Again, I completed the program with gusto. But when I try to do it a second time, I don’t even make a week before losing interest.

The detour in life with brain surgeries and cancer has wreaked havoc on my exercise routines. Particularly, the surgery where they took out the vestibule. Having to learn to walk again has created a tremendous desire to run again.

I’ve signed up for another challenge – to walk/run 2020 miles in 2020. I’ve knocked out nearly 500 miles but I am finding it consumes too much time. To be successful in this endeavor I must average 5.5 miles per day for the entire year. The most difficult days are when it’s windy. The greatest challenge since the surgery is that my left eye doesn’t blink spontaneously. Consequently, walking in the wind causes the eye to dry out terribly. Thus, on windy days I do my walks inside. I’ve done as many as 10 miles without ever leaving the house.

This last week in spite of the wind I decided the walks had to be outside. We were on Hilton Head Island, at our rental place and the temperatures were perfect. I was able to get my miles in on the beach. Miles and miles of beach, with the waves rolling in and out. The ocean sounds made tolerating the wind completely worth it. Legacy moments on the Hilton Head beach will be a regular occurrence in the years to come.


As the first anniversary of being cancer-free approaches, I am sitting in the exact spot I was sitting when I got the call telling me I had cancer. We have a condo on Hilton Head Island that we use when it isn’t rented out. It has a lovely view of the Atlantic Ocean.

Roughly a year and a half ago we were staying here preparing for my daughter’s wedding on the beach. We and several others decided to make an extended weekend out of the big day so had arrived several days early. My husband had gone out for something. I was sitting alone on the couch looking out over the beach when my phone rang. It was an Annapolis number and I was waiting for a call from the doctor so I answered.

I answered fully expecting the standard results – it’s nothing to be concerned about. She said the results indicated a sarcoma. Never having heard the term I did not react. She followed that with its cancer. We talked for a bit more, ultimately deciding the oncologist that was monitoring the meningioma (benign brain tumor) would be most logical to handle the cancer.

I called his office and scheduled an appointment for Tuesday, as I was not going to miss my daughter’s wedding. We had caught the cancer extremely early so there was no doubt of beating it. Shortly, after my husband returned, I told him the results were in and it was cancer – that’s when it hit me.

I debated about telling my girls before the wedding. It wasn’t a long debate as we have a strict – no secrets policy. With the advancements in treatments, cancer is not the death sentence it once was. We talked about it, then moved it to the back burner for the rest of the weekend. We celebrated and had a phenomenal time.

The doctor decided on a course of treatment, the insurance company decided they knew better and modified the plan. After much haggling, the insurance company won. This may mean other medical challenges down the road but knowing early treatment is the key to success I wasn’t willing to fight them. I was one of the lucky ones in that I would not need chemo, just radiation, heat treatment, and surgery.

We scheduled treatments and surgery. The surgery landing on our fifteenth wedding anniversary. Initially, we were thinking that’s a heck of a way to spend our anniversary. After the pathology results came in that they’d gotten it all rather than thinking I got to spend our fifteenth anniversary in surgery, I realized I got to spend our fifteenth-anniversary becoming cancer-free. Truly, an amazing anniversary gift and a legacy moment I shall reflect on every anniversary.

Running Moments – Part 2

Last week I shared about the Cherry Blossom run – a beautiful 10 mile run in Washington DC at the peak of the Cherry Blossom bloom. Thousands of people run this race. It’s impeccably organized and has all the amenities of a big race.

Annapolis has a sister race that they lovingly call the Cherry Pit. As I understand it, originally the Cherry Pit was run the afternoon of the Cherry Blossom. This was so that you could run the Cherry Blossom in the morning then head out to Annapolis and complete the Cherry Pit in the afternoon.

The year that I ran it the races were scheduled a week apart. There were maybe a hundred and fifty runners, compared to the thousands that show up for the Cherry Blossom. It was the first time I’d run a race this small. Not only was it small, but it was also primarily serious runners. Compared to the all-abilities that show up for the Cherry Blossom.

The Cherry Blossom folks lined up in chorales to organize the start by bib number. The Cherry Pit participants simply mulled around the start line. The Cherry Blossom, there was a public address system and start gun used to kick off the race, the Cherry Pit there was a fellow who yelled “ready, set go”. As he yelled “go”, almost the entire field of runners was lost from my view. In the large races, I typically ended up mid-pack. In this small race, I was with a handful of stragglers.

This was nearly twenty years ago, so age-wise I was in the middle. This particular race I settled in beside a runner who was twenty to thirty years older. Running as hard as I cold – huffing and a puffing I was able to keep even with her. We ran together for several miles, at which time she turned to me and said – “honey, you don’t have to wait for me.” I told her; I wasn’t waiting on her but working to keep even. Roughly, have way through her pace slowed a tad and I was able to pull ahead.

The finish of this race was interesting also, as you were handed a card with a number on it, that you then added your name to. This number was where you placed in the race. I was second to last. My partner from the start of the race came in behind me. This particular race gave a massive basket of goodies to the final person to cross the finish line. Too bad I had run the fastest ten miles I had ever run rather than running my typical pace. Even though I did not get a prize, I was proud of my pace and see the day for the legacy moment it was.

Running Moments – Part 1

As I work to complete the 2020 challenge (run/walk 2020 miles in 2020) I find myself missing running more and more. I miss the runner’s high. I miss the races. I miss the camaraderie.

Several legacy moments spring to mind when I think about the days I would race. I knew I could never place but there was such intense energy at the races that it was addictive. I knew I was only competing with myself, but that energy was enough to draw me in race after race.

I vividly remember doing the Cherry Blossom one year. I’d gotten a hotel room as the race had an early start. On the morning of the race, I took a cab to the start and left my car at the hotel. Checkout time was such that I could complete the ten-mile run, get back to the hotel, shower, and checkout on time before going home. The Cherry Blossom 10 miler is an early spring run, ideally timed for the peak of the Cherry Blossom bloom. I’ve run it several times and the weather is typically glorious. This particular year, there was a horrifically cold rain. The cold and rain were so bad they canceled the awards ceremony and told everyone to go home rather than risk hyperthermia.

As I crossed the finish line and received word that we should go home I had this horrifying realization. Haven taken a cab to the start I didn’t have a clue how to get back to my hotel. Before panic set in I had an epiphany that I just had to find a metro station, from there I could locate the hotel. I saw hordes of people moving in a common direction – my guess- they too were heading to the metro. When I could up with some folks, I attempted to confirm my guess. To my dismay, they said I was incorrect and pointed me in the correct direction. This time I caught up to someone with an umbrella. Even though they were willing to share they too told me I was heading in the wrong direction and set me straight. This third attempt led me to a runner who had a spare coat with him and was willing to share. But alas, he too indicated I was heading in the wrong direction.

He, however, indicated his car was parked near the metro and would gladly walk me there and set me on the right path. When we arrived at his car he suggested I ship him his coat back, as it was too cold to go without. As he was giving me further directions, he decided he would just drive me to my hotel as it wasn’t far.

I don’t recall his name but the kindness he showed me is a legacy moment that will stay with me forever.

Support Groups

Over the years I have joined numerous support groups. Some I’ve been very active with, others not so much. As a teenager, I joined weight watchers and was finally able to get down to a healthy weight. I was good about going to meetings and the positive reinforcement for losing was tremendously motivational.

About 20 years ago, I joined a support group called the connectors. The motto of the group was “No more excuses”. It was primarily online, but occasionally we’d get together to run or walk. The first time a group of us got together for a picnic we had so much fun trying to figure out who was who. This was pre-Facebook days, so we only had words to go on, no pictures. Each time someone joined us we would try to guess who it was. If memory serves me, we were wrong one hundred percent of the time.

This group was tremendously supportive. When we could do races together we did and we would motivate each other to train. One year I decided to do a triathlon. To train, I discovered a technique called bricks. Bricks are done by going to someplace that has a loop that is a good mile to two miles. Mall parking lots are ideal. Two participants are needed and one bike. These two people start out together, one running and the other riding the bike. Obviously, the biker will complete the loop much faster than the runner. Once the biker catches up to the runner, they switch ( the biker becomes the runner and vice versa ). This looping continues until one person has had enough. I had no shortage of volunteers to help me train from this support group.

I had another friend in the group whose husband left her just before their baby was born. She asked me to be there to support her. Twenty years later I am still friends with many of them.

Around the same time as the connectors, I was decided to run a marathon. I joined Team in Training. They were an amazing support group. Each week we would meet for a long training run. Having this group to train with I became addicted to running.

This may be the most frustrating complication from the brain surgery in that nearly three years later I’m still not back to running. I have gotten back to distance walking but I desperately hope I will be able to run again. I have joined a new support group – Run the Year. With this group, I’ve committed to run and/or walk 2020 miles over the year. Initially when I signed up my intention was to be a lurker but then I had this light bulb moment that the times I’ve been successful is when I’ve actively participated. The stories have been amazing and fully expect to complete this challenge. Another legacy moment in the making.