Monday, December 2, 2013


Lately I've noticed friends on Facebook participating in a sharing game about their lives. Maybe you've seen it: You leave a message on a pal's wall who has already shared details about themselves; your friend then emails you a number — that's how many tidbits you're supposed to reveal about yourself. 

I never found that game enticing...
Facebook is not a very private forum (some may argue that neither is blogging, to which I say: Touché!). But I do admit to being intrigued by my FB friends' revelations. 

And that reminds me of a post I wrote back in April 2013 (part of the WEGO Health Activist's Writers Month Challenge) which was revelatory in its own unique way.

My writing prompt? Post a vintage image of myself and write a caption about it. 

Sounds simple enough; but I couldn't do it. I had nothing to say. Nothing good, anyway. I mean, how do you tell a kid she's going to get cancer? 

But I found a baby picture anyway, and as I peered into the eyes of my childhood self, many good and bad emotions washed over me (flooded me, really). And it was those feelings that morphed from merely writing a caption to framing my picture against the backdrop of my unraveling life experiences. 

It's a powerful exercise if you've never tried it. I tweaked of few of mine since my original post; see what I've come up with below. If you try the exercise, do come back and leave a link to your blog in the comments section; we'd love a glimpse of your life as seen through the rear-view mirror!

This photo was taken:

  • 6 months after my siblings spun me around in my father's office chair, sending me flying into the furnace.
  • 3 years before I sliced my mouth on a broken china cup while pretending to sip tea with my dolls.
  • 4 years before I saw the Pieta at the New York World's Fair.
  • 7 years before I developed a life-long fear of dogs after being bitten by a German Shepherd.
  • 11 years before I hit the brakes while peddling my best friend's banana-seat bike, sending me flying over the handlebars — and into the hospital with a concussion.
  • 14 years before I saw Anne Frank's house in person.
  • 16 years before I took to the stage in summer stock theatre.
  • 24 years before my sister was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 31.
  • 25 years before I moved into Manhattan.
  • 26 years before I ran in my first (and hopefully not last) marathon.
  • 28 years before I drove cross country on a whim.
  • 34 years before I lived through a major earthquake, which caused me to re-access my life, reach out for support and move to a more tight-knit community.
  • 41 years before 9/11 — which caused me to re- re-access my life, call it quits with my boyfriend and move closer to my family.
  • 45 years before I met my husband and overcame my fear of canines.
  • 47 years before my dad died.
  • 48 years before I got married.
  • 49 years before I became a step-grandmother.


  1. This is powerful Renn.... I want to do this.. it might take a little time to get my time line written. When I do it, I'll come back here and leave my link ;-)

  2. dear Renn,

    I can see why this exercise is so dramatically and emotionally demanding of so much about our selves. too much has happened in too short a time frame for this life of mine - it's too raw and I am not ashamed to say I cannot face it the rear view mirror just yet. but when I am stronger and more together, l will look forward to doing and sharing it. and I WILL get stronger! taking each challenge by the horns and dealing, just as we all must do. and I have you, dear Renn, to inspire me and help keep me afloat.

    much love and light, my dear friend

    Karen XXOO

    1. Karen, I have been thinking about you and how you have been doing post-surgery and in the thick of the holidays and the sadness. There is no timetable for grief; I know you know this. You most definitely should not attempt a timeline like this right now! Table it. That is for another day, another time. Stay busy, be good to yourself, and your strength will slowly seep back into every pore. Hang in there my friend! xoxo

    2. oh, renn,

      thank you for those very kind and understanding words. I felt very
      curious and intrigued - but I just couldn't do it. your validation helped how I felt make sense - why be a glutton for punishment. I so appreciate your encouragement - it helps so much as I have chemo starting next Wednesday. thank you for being my friend - it shores me up with such gratitude!
      xoxox, karen

  3. i flipped over my schwinn handlebars too
    i love this
    i want to do it

    1. I didn't know that happened to you too! Look forward to reading your timeline too. :-)

  4. Hi Renn
    like you I am really not into these 20 questions on FB or revealing every nuance of my life . My last Blog was completely torn apart dissected on Twitter and made me leary Right now I am trying to get into the blogging mode again It's been a rough year even that I wish I could post but I don't trust that I have changed my blog there is still that lurker Maybe after the New Year I will get my own domain name might save on being hacked... Love Alli .....

    1. Alli, that is crazy what happened to your blog, I hope you can start blogging again without worry of being hacked. We miss your voice!

  5. Hi Renn, chuckling as I read the part about the Schwinn. I was looking backwards waving goodbye to a girlfriend and ran into the back of a park car. It through my brother who was riding on the handle bars onto the trunk of the car. His lip was bleeding and I had a bruise the size of a grapefruit on my pelvic bone. I was so afraid I couldn't have children. Never did, but I it wasn't the bruise! All I can remember is my brother yelling "i'm going to tell Mom!" What a wonderful exercise. I am going to do it over my Christmas time off! Best to you! Lindsey

    1. Lindsey, your bike accident had me laughing despite its severity! Enjoy the upcoming holiday time off, good to see you here.

  6. Renn, I loved this post. It is so powerful, and I've often think, as I look at old photos of me, how little did I know I would have breast cancer some day. You've definitely been through a lot. (BTW, I was one of those people who participated in the FB game, but I revealed less than I usually do with my blog!).


Your comments are encouraging — and encouraged!