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Remember to Rotate & Balance!

“The L.A. Flash” (a.k.a. our youngest son) left work and skillfully sliced through the infamous Los Angeles traffic. I wasn’t actually in the car, but I know how he drives; when we visit him I slide down in the back seat so I can’t see his death-defying, hormone-induced, hair-splitting F-16 maneuvers which mothers don’t want to know about. The world is an oyster for a young man situated in the heart of the entertainment industry, and tonight’s pearl was a French model he met recently. He rang her door bell expecting to see this drop-dead beauty in full blossom.

“Mom, she was a wreck!” he complained over the phone. “She was completely un-groomed and looked really awful, and it‘s all you‘re fault.” (Moms deserve hazardous-duty pay.) “Yeah, she looked terrible; but she was all excited and bouncing around and happy.”

“Right,” I chimed in. “Too much chocolate; I get the same euphoria.”

“No, Mom, not chocolate,” he sounded exasperated. “Someone told her about your book, and she said it completely changed her outlook on life – she now realized that she didn’t have to look beautiful all the time and be perfectly groomed every time she left the house.” (Did I write that?)

“I guess that’s what she needed to hear,” I offered. “Everybody seems to find what they need in their life. So what did you say?”

“Well, I really wanted to suggest alternate reading, but I didn‘t want to hurt her feelings.”

“Don’t worry,” I said. “Somehow she’ll find the right balance.” Wow. Who could account for the power of the pen? I was laughing the rest of the day.

My friend, Maggie, proudly related how she applied the lessons she found in my book to her own situation. Maggie comes from a healthy gene pool, but her husband, Dave, is struggling with Parkinson’s. Dave loves golf and celebrates retirement by going to the golf course frequently. It’s valuable exercise, mental distraction, and companionship with friends – hey, the guy is keeping it together with all the tricks in the “Fran Plan”; he comes home bone-weary and sinks into the chair after dinner. Just as they settled down for a movie, Maggie announced, “Dave, I think Fran is right – we shouldn’t sit here and waste all this time watching TV. We’re going up in the attic and clean out those old files.”

Whoa! You can imagine how I dived into the shrubbery when I spotted Dave a few days later. I couldn’t scold Maggie – it’s important to maintain zest and anticipation by rotating fun activities into your calendar. Each individual must figure out the best way to apply the lessons in life, but I want to remind you about b-a-l-a-n-c-e! Some people pay more attention to the maintenance on their car than maintaining their life. So take a tip from your owner’s manual – just as you rotate and balance your tires to keep them running smoothly, check for rotation and balance in your life.

As a career cancer patient navigating a crisis lifestyle, I noticed how many people can’t get their wits together, make wise personal management decisions – and ultimately affect their survival. Sometimes we get lost in the chaos and need a game plan; after so many people contacted me for advice on how to handle their life crisis, I finally wrote my personal methods in a book. As it turns out, people in all walks of life respond because the lessons are the same for all of us, whatever your special circumstance.

Recently at the grocery store, someone touched my shoulder; I turned around and was engulfed in a full-body bear hug by a woman I didn’t recognize. With tears welling up in her eyes, she thanked me profusely for helping her daughter through a difficult divorce situation.

“Divorce? How did…?” I stammered, dumbfounded.

“I thought you had a great message,” she said, “so I asked my daughter to read your book. It gave her the courage and confidence to start a new life; she’s happy now – which makes me happy.”

“Thanks (I guess), I’m glad she found something she needed.” It seemed like a frail response from someone who usually has too much to say, but I was speechless.

Because cancer patients frequently drown in fear and depression, I urge them to look their crisis in the face and “declare war”. But I want to go on the record here with a hold-harmless clause: If you decide to rotate your spouse during your balancing act, that’s your affair. Ladies, I don’t want to hear from any irate husbands because you went home, looked him in the face, and declared war! Same goes for you, Gents.

Fran Di Giacomo is an artist, and author of

I’d Rather Do Chemo Than Clean Out the Garage: Choosing Laughter Over Tears

Visit Fran at

Painting: "Tropical Tulips" by Fran Di Giacomo

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