Basics for Traveling Domestically

These are a few things a person shouldn’t leave home without.  Nothing like getting somewhere, realizing something is needed, and there is nowhere to get it (or without a cost).  Pack and prepare properly, and the trip will be more enjoyable.  First up, don’t over pack.  Every person should be able to pack for at least 5-6 days in a standard carry-on bag.  Anything more is too much. Think about what you really wear, not what you think you need.  Check the weather, never assume the average weather is going to happen.  Case and point Cincinnati.  The weather can turn on a dime, literally.  I’ve been there and gone from snow storm to spring casual in 24 hours.  A good traveler always is prepared for all conditions, but only those conditions that are expected.  Going to Miami isn’t going to require a parka, but a lightweight rain coat might be called for on trip.  Use packing cubes, they will make bringing that must have shirt or dress an easier fit.  Think of cubes as mini storage cases.  If you have multiple stops, a cube for each destination can be helpful, just grab and go.   They can also be helpful for thinning out the unwanted air in clothes making the packing effort effortless. Bring all the necessary power cords, chargers and adapters.  A single USB wall charger can go along way; but if you are missing the right cord or adapter it quickly become useless.   Look or know your electronics.  Not knowing what plug is required is disaster waiting to happen.  The good news, almost every major airport carries cords of all types and sizes.  So if you do forget, there is a hope.  Also most major hotels have a stash of left cords. Don’t be afraid to ask the front desk. Do bring a power bank on any trip that requires third party transportation.  Electronics like the cellphone can be game changers and life savers in a pinch.  When that power is gone, it’s gone.  And relying on places to have electrical outlets is just plain stupid.  The business traveler should consider extension cords to always have outlet at finger tips.  Do notify your banking institution.  In today’s world of hacks and thieves, banks are quick to turn the access off if there is anything out of the norm.  Don’t be caught without a card for those incidental charges.  Even the best planned trip will have a few hidden costs that the cash stash may not cover or be above your allotment.  Learn transportation options. Always know the 800 number for travel by air, train, or bus.  The best plans can get derailed quickly if weather or traffic happens.  Being able to make a call to get things organized and back on track can often be the quicker fix than waiting in lines.  On one of my trips to New Jersey, my change over in Detroit ran into a snag, and by calling I learned Philly airport was just as accessible to my destination as flying into Newark.  I made my destination in the same day while my fellow travelers caught flights the next day.  Plan medications, never assume the prescription can be refilled (at least quickly).  I never needed more than an aspirin, then I got cancer, and needed a few more meds on trips.  Any pill that can save your life should be over packed by a few days and kept on hand not packed where there is no access.  Might need or non-life threatening can be packed out of reach.  Bring copies of prescriptions if you have pills out of the norm.  Do have a water bottle.  Traveling dehydrates you.  Having a water bottle helps keep you hydrated but can also save you a few bucks.  Optional items include sanitizer/ soap, batteries, and pillow, as well as, downloading maps and entertainment in advance.  These are just a few tips for traveling domestically in the US.  Go, travel, and have fun.

Welcome to My Journey to CrossFit (and maybe a few other things along the way)

Where the idea began

Welcome to my journey to CrossFit.  Originally the plan was to record my progress as usual on a workout journal.  However, as I embarked on my CrossFit experience, I’ve come to realize there others out there which may benefit from my learnings, good or bad.  So sit back join me as I train to become a competitive athlete in the sport. Never know what might happen along the way.

Me after 2.5 years of fighting Cancer

No one expects when they make a visit to ER, they will be diagnosed with cancer 5 days later.  After experiencing chest pains that would not go away over a month, and 2 too many visits to local urgent care, I was finally treated for a cause.  I had a collapsed lung, infection and fluid in a lung and a mass the size of a small watermelon in my mediastinum.  The mass was stage 2 lymphoma.  I was diagnosed with aggressive form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and by the 9th day I was in my 1st chemo treatment.  I’d start a 6 month regiment of chemotherapy followed by radiation for 30 days.  I continued to the best of my ability to stay active, even if it was just walking around the block, I kept moving.  If there was one thing that was obvious, my physical health was huge factor in managing my recovery and ability to participate in life.  I lost my hair, I lost my 6 pack abs, but I never lost hope and desire to keep moving.  I also worked.  Another factor in keeping my sanity.  One of the things you may have too much of, time.  It is all too easy to lay around, and pitty yourself.  Wonder why me, how does this happen, will this cancer be cured?  By working, I had other things I had to do.  My focus was my health, but health also includes mental health.  In fact this is likely more important than the physical health.  One thing that can never happen, giving up.  It’s a daily battle to remind yourself there is a light at the end of the tunnel.  That good will come from all the bad days.  Bad days.  Each is uniquely different.  It may be upset stomach to random headache to just not wanting to get up.  Having purpose each day and a commitment helps getting through the bad days.  Purpose could be to hold your child or get that report out for weekly meeting.  In either case, purpose defines the day.  The goal is to defeat Cancer.  The purpose is to get up each day, and fight the fight.  Mentally believing in the purpose and goal helps keep the physical health in check.  It can provide balance where there is no balance.

barb n murph napping

dog sled 070115 (1).JPG

Mathematically, yes, that is no where near 2.5 years.  I jammed through the chemo, radiation knocked me down a bit.  Chemo sucks, but I had fairly event-less few months.  Each cycle the challenge of healing was a bit harder.  Poisoning yourself to kill living cells is a task.  Healing takes effort.   Requires rest, exercise, nutrition, water (tons of water), and tenacity.  Healing has to be consistent, persistent, and have drive.  Wearing the mask out in public, taking a midday nap, eating something light, playing with the dog, and never doubting that tomorrow will be better.  I knocked this out of the park! I was healing, I was on the mend, on my way to remission.  I was in recovery.  The radiation kicked my ass! I had low energy, and inability to fully breathe yet.  I wanted to do my version of exercise and found myself doing less and less because my version was not happening at my pace, at my terms.  Reality check, I just had a 10 cm mass in my chest,  some how I managed to reduce it to less than 1 cm.  I say I because although it takes a team, only I can choose to fight.  Not quite a year after my radiation ended, A small mass presented itself in a scan.  Oh hell no, I was feeling better, energy was coming back, what the hell?

As a result, my journey ( I hate that term) was zig zagging.  A recurrence meant more chemo, potential more radiation, and possibly a stem cell transplant.  I would start driving back and forth (4 hours 1 way) to University Medical Center because the resources needed were limited in my town.  A simple biopsy would not work.  Taking cores via thoracic scope would not provide enough sample.  So, a video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS) was needed.  Lets collapse a lung, squeeze through ribs, go through with a tiny camera and cut portion of the new mass out.  Yah, that sounds easy, right?  The mass wasn’t in a very good spot.  Let just say one too many veins, tendons, vocal cords, and various other needed parts to function were over or intertwined with the cancerous mass.  I don’t do anything simple.  It would take 2 months to discover what I had, although it was assumed to be the same cancer.  Needless to say, I had lymphoma again, with a twist.

The results indicated Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.  I had not been misdiagnosed in my 1st treatment, they reviewed original biopsy results.  How is this possible?  The 1st reaction was a rare form of lymphoma, highly aggressive, test were negative.  After numerous tumor boards, it was decided to treat as Hodgkin’s Disease and watch closely for changes.  I managed to avoid stem cell transplant.  But would go back through a chemotherapy regiment for 4 months.  At which point I’d have to be clean (free of active tumor) or face unknown.  I had already taken a drug that was hard on my heart.  However, it provided the most bang, so I would take what was legally allowed (4 cycles), and then reexamine my status.  I was still not clean after 4 months. Doctors were convinced if I could finish the cycles, the tumor would be gone.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t continue on the regiment.  A trial drug had recently been approved.  I fell into a gray area.  I was a recurrence but also a new cancer.  It would take two hospitals to convince insurance of the need, but I got it for  4 cycles.  The trial drug would replace my last 2 cycles of chemotherapy.  As a targeted drug, it looked for specific protein and latched on to it where a poison would eventually kill it.  A lot of faith in something you can’t see. It would be 2nd to last hope, or stem cell transplant it would be.

I decided to make the news fun.  Rather than wait for the hair fall out like last time, I’d go right to mohawk thanks to sister skills.  And rather than beat myself up on physical tasks, I dedicated myself to just movement.  Getting more rest, eating more, and not beat myself up to workout.  This made the chemo more bearable, and eating fun again.  Much like the first go around, I kept to doing things like getting out to see people and doing short social events.  Remember purpose lends itself to completing the goal.  I’d be able to take treatments in town, another plus.  One thing was evident from the trips to University Medical center, not being at home sucked.  Because of the cycle rotation, I’d have to stay home.  It wasn’t easy to fight boredom, but I pressed forward with work or crazy tasks around the house. Cancer was not holding me back from fun.

I was 2 years into the process now.  The next few months of scans would determine my life.  I had put in the work, felt great, and for the most part felt cancer free.  The months past by fast.  In November of 2017 I got the good news, finally clean. Not a trace of any active cells.  It was the first time I had been 100%.  As a reward, the last thing left to remind me I had been sick, a port, was approved to be removed.  What wait? I can get rid of my port.  It was my life line.  It made all the test and treatment easier.  I no longer needed this device.  Two and half years later, a weight had been lifted. The real question is how to move forward.

So where am I?  A little lonesome.  Being selfish for 2.5 years takes its toll.  A new found love for using clippers over scissor to cut my hair, still short.  An appreciation of family and friends, a ton of gratitude to those who supported me.  But not so happy for the not so optimal weight, and inability to run a full mile now.  So the real journey begins again, staying well, keeping mentally focused, and physically challenge myself.  It won’t be easy.  I remind myself, I beat cancer, twice.  Losing a few pounds and getting a 6 pack back will come in time.  I’m alive.  I have a goal. I have purpose.


In case you missed…. by Sage Burgener

In case you have no clue who Sage Burgener is, you might have seen on any number of videos as the demo girl for her dad, Mike.  Her sister is also badass as well.  She know how to lift, and lift with great technique.  Her points are worth a read.


In case you missed it via facebook, twitter or 5 oclock news

10 things to do to improve your clean and jerk.. from start to finish

#1: Discontinue your day job at the strip club…you’re better than that. (Shoulders, hips, and bar move up together off the ground).

#2: God gave you lats to activate. Do NOT disappoint him (Set your lats before the bar leaves the ground,or you WILL pull with your arms)

#3: The bar’s main goal in life is to pull you forward and down. CRUSH that bar’s dreams (Shift to your heels IMMEDIATELY off the floor)

#4: On a hot day, milk is a bad choice, but using your legs is ALWAYS a good choice even on non climatically- perfect days. (Jump HARD)

#5: A wise woman once said, “My hips don’t lie”(Your hips must move UP and DOWN in a matter of milliseconds. Slow hips=slow bar)

#6: You’re not on the dance floor. “Dropping it like it’s hot” is not recommended. (Do not dive or drop. PULL yourself under the bar)

#7: 99% of the population has suffered from the deadly disease MonoSyphiSlowElbow. Will you be one the them?(Fast elbows=brownie points)

#8: Favorite alliteration: Petunia Practiced Perfect Posture… On Her Jerk…wait… (The jerk dip: chest up, toes out, weight on heels)

#9: Chewing gum instead of brushing your teeth counts for nothing, but jumping up and punching down on the jerk, counts for a lot.

#10: Weight on your hips doesn’t always mean you have love handles (Receive your jerk with ALL the weight centered on your hips)

Posted by at 9:50 PM


There are many reasons why I love CrossFit; fitness, well-being, community. But here is one people forget, determination. At some point a WOD will come across which doesn’t necessarily push the motor, but rather pushes the ability to move past failure; the “I can’t or I quit.” I had one today where the wall hit me.  I was at point where holding a bar over my head just didn’t seem possible. I could have easily walked away from it (no one was watching me), skipped it, changed it. But instead as I watched the time keep going, I kept doing 1 rep at a time.  It wasn’t until safety of my skull on round 5 that I was forced to shed some weight, but I didn’t quit; I finished it. I wanted so badly to just stop. With every rep, I told myself what am acheiving by finishing, I can’t hold it for more than 4 seconds, I’m not getting a good workout. But for some damn reason I kept going, and before I new it I was done. What we often forget, CrossFit pulls the will in us out of us.  Somewhere I knew finishing, even if it meant being slower, even if it meant doing 15 reps 10 lbs lighter, was a win. Determination. #CrossFit