I’m so excited that Yvette Prior invited me for an interview on her Priorhouse blog. Yvette and I met and followed each other in this blogging community many years ago. She is enthusiastic and friendly. When I was formatting my debut publication, Song of Heartstring: Poems of Gratitude and Beatitude, she kindly offered to look at my manuscript and gave me valuable input. We helped each other to spread the word about each other’s books. She read my latest book, The Winding Road, and wanted to interview me, not only about this book but also about other aspects of my life.
I invite you to head over to the Priorhouse to read about this interview. While you’re there, check out her book Lady by the River: Stories of Perseverance, which is an anthology with Yvette as the author and compiler. This is a valuable self-help book with stories contributed by nine authors.
Today’s Priorhouse Interview features MIRIAM HURDLE
MIRIAM: Hi Yvette, thank you for inviting me to share my book with your readers. I also hope to get to know your readers as they find out a little more about me.
Hello everyone. I am Miriam Hurdle. I grew up in Hong Kong where I finished college and worked for several years before coming to the United States for my graduate studies. After my schooling, I worked two years as a rehabilitation counselor, then went into education, taught for 14 years, and was in administration for 10 before retirement. In my retired life, I enjoy volunteer counseling, reading, writing, blogging, gardening, photographing, and traveling. I’m married to Lynton and we have one married daughter. My older granddaughter, Autumn, was born on September 28, 2017, and my younger granddaughter, Nora, was born on March 22, 2020.
PRIOR: Congrats on your blessed grandchildren – and for those readers who already follow Miriam’s blog, you know how cute they are!
MIRIAM’S MEMOIR: THE WINDING ROAD
PRIOR:Many readers might already know about Miriam’s memoir, The Winding Road. I ordered a paperback copy of the book to read because I wanted to pass it along to a widow friend who lost her spouse to cancer in 2022. However, my second cousin’s wife, Nancy, was recently diagnosed with skin cancer and so I am going to gift her a copy of the book too. I think she will be encouraged by Miriam’s journey.
Can you tell us a little about The Winding Road?
MIRIAM: I would love to share about my book, The Winding Road, Journey of Survival.
It is a memoir of my cancer journey between 2008 and 2009. Four of my close relatives had cancer, and three died from it. Cancer affects a lot more people than we realize. What I had was something terrible, but it is also a common disease. Yet my cancer experience had several layers of impossibilities, which further complicated the disease itself. Each circumstance pushed and expanded my limit of patience, faith, trust, and gratitude.
My healing journey taught me to let down my guard, show my vulnerability, and accept my being rather than doing.
I was diagnosed with a rare melanoma cancer in July 2008. None of the doctors who treated me had seen it. It started with stage I or II but turned into stage IV within a few months. I completed the year-long bio-chemotherapy, surgeries and radiation on August 1, 2009. Today marks the 12th anniversary of remission. I’m thankful to be alive, enjoy my family and have the joy to watch the grandchildren grow. I have been writing about my cancer journey since 2016. The distance from the event allows me to have reflection and a proper perspective. It will be a part of my legacy to pass on to the generations to come. This was a one-day-at-a-time journey of faith, hope, and strength. It was a journey cheered and supported by family and friends.
To celebrate the 12th anniversary of my remission, I wanted to share an excerpt with you. The working title of my legacy is The Winding Road, and I’m working on the tagline.
The hysterectomy surgery was on July 31st, 2008. I wanted to rest for two or three weeks after the surgery before returning to work when the new school year began.
My husband, Lynton, drove me to St. Jude Medical Center which was 3 miles from home. He stayed with me until the hospital attendant transported me to the surgery room. After the attendant and nurses lifted me onto the surgical table, the anesthesiologist called my name and introduced himself to me and said Dr. Gray was on the way. Before I smiled at him, the blackness came upon me.
I woke up in the hospital room in the afternoon. There was no pain in the abdomen. Perhaps the anesthesia was not worn off yet. Lynton came with a bouquet almost the same time I woke up. He stayed with me until dinner time and said he would call me early in the morning. It was a relief that the fibroids I had for years were out for good.
At 10:00 p.m., Dr. Gray came to the room and greeted me with a smile. I returned a grin with apprehension because no doctors would visit patients late at night unless there was an emergency. He sat down by the bed. “The surgery went well,” he said, “and I wanted to share the pathology result with you.”
My puzzling grew but nodded and kept smiling.
“The pathology result shows that the vaginal mass was melanoma. I’ve never seen it before, not in vagina, so I did some research. The research shows that melanoma is the most aggressive, invasive and dangerous cancer.”
He detected the perplex on my face, and said, “It looks like it’s in stage I or II, the beginning stage and the cancer has not spread into other parts of the body yet.”
I wanted to ask questions, but my mind went blank. What questions could I ask? The moisture saturated my eyes.
“I have lined up the referrals for you to see the specialists for treatments. Call my cell phone if you have questions. I’ll start my vacation tomorrow.” He handed me a note with his phone number. It seemed like he did a lot of homework that afternoon.
“But you’ll be on vacation,” I said, still tried to find words.
“That’s what a cell phone is for.” he smiled. “I’m glad God put you in my care.”
His visit transported me to the thickest fog in the dark.
~ ~ ~
The next day, I still had no pain after the anesthesia was worn off.
Lynton called me around 9:00 a.m. to let me know he was coming to see me later that day. He told me his dad passed away, and he was on the phone with his siblings. His dad had been in Loma Linda ICU since last Wednesday with a heart-attack and a kidney infection. The infection went into the blood and his condition went downhill. After the infection was gone, he was on dialysis to give the kidney a break to see if it could be reversed. Lynton and I went to see him last Wednesday. He was unconscious when we got there. The entire family of twelve people were there talking to each other about the latest progress. Lynton’s dad heard our voices and opened his eyes. We went close to his bedside to hold his hands and spoke to him. His eyes sparked a little and then went back to unconsciousness. That was the last time I saw his dad.
“Would you ask your family to schedule the funeral service after I get home from the hospital? I want to be there.”
“Don’t worry. My family will consider that when they plan for the funeral service. I’m on my way to the hospital to see you.”
When he arrived, I gave him the news. He faced me with the brooding look and said he would research on melanoma as soon as he got home.
“How are you feeling?” the nurse came in to check on me.
“I’m feeling very well with no pain. Can I go home today?”
“The attending doctor is not here yet. Let me check your incision and change the dressing. I’ll let the doctor know of your condition. He has to authorize the discharge.”
The doctor came in an hour later. After checking my progress, he authorized the discharge.
“Thank you, doctor,” I said to him while my mind spun at a record speed, miles into the search engine, chasing the meaning of melanoma.
The US President Biden announced on Thursday, July 29, 2021, that people will get $100 in payment to get vaccinated! Here’s the story leading up to the current news.
The Covid-19 Devastation
The first announcement of pandemic and lockdown in California was March 2020. In the following nine months, Covid cases and deaths throughout the nation spread like a plague. The entire world was in a helpless and desperate state as the scientist wasted in no time to find a solution. I developed a spreadsheet to track the numbers and paid attention to the cities, states, and countries where I have family and friends.
I canceled my trip in March 2020 to be with my daughter for the birth of my younger granddaughter, Nora. My husband and I didn’t go to my niece’s wedding in October 2020 in Hong Kong. We didn’t go to my husband’s niece’s wedding in November 2020 in New York.
We watched the news and waited. Then Pfizer and BioNTech announced on December 11, 2020, that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has authorized the emergency use of the mRNA vaccine against Covid-19. The authorizations of Moderna and Johnson & Johnson were issued early in 2021. The news highlighted President Biden and Vice-president Harris received the vaccines.
People lined up for miles waiting to get the vaccination. Some even drove from New York to Florida to get their shots. In the months to come, individuals and organizations volunteered to make appointments for the folks who couldn’t get through the busy phone lines. Again, individuals and car rentals stepped up to give rides for many to the vaccination sites. Mobile clinics delivered vaccines to some hard-to-reach neighborhoods.
After the spring break for schools in 2021, the cases and deaths declined steadily, showing a sign of recovery in the society. There was such a relief of hope that life will become normal again. President Biden promised that there would be a July 4th Independent Day celebration. There was!
We watched the Washington D.C. spectacular fireworks with such excitement. I made up the lost time in visiting my daughter’s family. We have visited them and enjoyed the granddaughters in March, May, and June 2021, and have scheduled at least the next trips in August and September. Our church met in person on June 20. The adult fellowship and women’s groups scheduled different small group gatherings. I’ve attended almost two meetings a week. I also attended my chorale rehearsal held in a member’s backyard.
The month of July has seen Covid-19 cases in the United States increase at the fastest pace since last winter, marking the start of the latest wave of infections to afflict the nation. A new STAT analysis of Covid-19 case data reveals this new wave is already outpacing the spring and summer waves of 2020.
“The current COVID-19 surge in the U.S. – fueled by the highly contagious Delta variant – will steadily accelerate through the summer and fall, peaking in mid-October, with daily deaths more than triple what they are now.
“In that scenario, at the peak in mid-October, there would be around 60,000 cases and around 850 deaths each day. Each scenario also includes a range of how bad things could get – the very worst end of the range for the most likely scenario shows about 240,000 people getting infected and 4,000 people dying each day at the October peak, which would be almost as bad as last winter,” says Justin Lessler, an epidemiologist at the University of North Carolina.
Lessler notes that there’s a lot of uncertainty in these projections and that how things play out depends on lots of factors.
Rochelle P. Walensky, Director of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention pointed out that the new surge became a pandemic of the unvaccinated. The outbreaks of cases in parts of the country are higher because of the high percentage of unvaccinated people who are at risk. And the communities that are fully vaccinated are generally doing well. The news reports showing that those being hospitalized or dying of covid-19 are overwhelmingly unvaccinated.
NPR reported that the vaccine rollout reached a critical stage in which most adults who wanted the vaccine have gotten it, but many others were holding out. There were 12 influential social media users have impacted the outcome. These 12 individuals are well known to both researchers and the social networks. They include anti-vaccine activists, alternative health entrepreneurs and physicians. Some of them run multiple accounts across the different platforms.
As of July 28, 2021, at least 189,494,180 people or 58% of the population have received at least one dose. Overall, 163,588,042 people or 50% of the population have been fully vaccinated.
On Thursday, July 29, President Biden called on state and local governments to use funds from his $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan to offer $100 payment to individuals as incentive to get vaccinated. The payments would be offered to newly vaccinated Americans.
Do incentives work? Yes… and no. Some people are motivated by cash incentive but some are not.
On May 27, 2021, California Governor Gavin Newsom launched the $116.5 million vaccine incentive program – the biggest in the nation – to boost vaccinations as California prepares to fully reopen the economy June 15, $100 million in $50 prepaid or grocery cards for the next two million newly vaccinated people, and $16.5 million in cash prizes for all vaccinated Californians.
Ohio’s Vax-a-Million lottery program, which offered $1-million prizes and full-ride four-year college scholarships to vaccinated people. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggests lottery incentive programs do not increase the likelihood that individuals will become vaccinated.
Vaccination Mandate from Employers
President Biden announced Thursday a strict new vaccine requirement for US federal workers, the nation’s largest workforce with some two million people. The order requires employees to show proof of vaccination or be subjected to mandatory testing and masking. “This is an American tragedy. People are dying, and will die, who don’t have to die,” Biden said in the East Room of the White House.
After months of encouraging employees to get vaccinated against Covid-19, companies are beginning to roll out mandates – a dramatic escalation of Corporate America’s approach to halting the spread of the virus.
Here are the companies that have announced Covid-19 vaccine requirements for at least some of their employees:
Google, Facebook, Twitter (TWTR), Netflix, BlackRock (BAAPX), Morgan Stanley (MS), Delta, Disney, Saks Fifth Avenue, The Washington Post, Ascension Health, Lyft, and Uber. The list is growing.
~ ~ ~
What do you think about vaccination?
Do I enjoy being poked by the needles? No, I don’t. I’m allergic to some unknown medications to me and my doctors. The allergic reaction caused inflammation to my entire body and I ended up in the hospital in March 2018 and November 2019. Yet, I signed up on three scheduling sites to line up for vaccination. I only got a sore arm from the first shot and a mild rash from the second shot.
My son-in-law is one who fears needles since a kid. My daughter and he signed up to fill the spots when individuals failed to show up for the vaccine. At the time they signed up, only the folks 65 and above were eligible. They received notification for the availability and went from Portland, Oregon to Vancouver, Washington to receive the vaccine. I was there visiting them when they had the second shot. My son-in-law rode his bike for more than an hour from his home to the clinic to take his mind off the fear of the needle.
During the sixteen months lockdown, the one frequently asked question was, “When can I go see my grandchildren?” I asked the same question many times. I only visited my granddaughters twice during the first twelve months of pandemic. My daughter and I had several discussions on this matter. We had the same understanding that I might be at risk of virus and could pass it on to the babies. For the benefit and well-being of everyone in the family, it was not wise for me to go.
Going to visit my granddaughters became my motivation to get vaccinated. I was so excited to receive the second vaccine several days before my trip to Nora’s first birthday. I had an allergic reaction after the second shot, but my daughter said one of her friends also had rash. After taking ibuprofen for several days, my rash went away.
Some people do not take the vaccine for medical reasons. A long-time friend suffered from the collapse of both lungs. One lung is nonfunctioning, and the other lung has 22% breathing capacity. The doctor didn’t recommend him to take the vaccine in case he had an allergic reaction which might worsen his breathing.
The vaccine incentive may not motivate all the unvaccinated people to take the vaccines. I hope that when large companies step up to require their employees to prove the vaccination status to return to work. This mandate plays a heavier weight on motivating people to take the vaccines even though it’s not their preference.
In the meantime, I wear the mask when going out to protect myself and others. Stay safe, my friends!
I have had a membership at different gyms since 1980. My first gym was a small outfit owned by a couple. The wife led the aerobics class until late in her pregnancy. My routine was using a some weight resistant machines, doing the aerobic, and finishing it with 15 minutes in the spa.
I later joined the LA Fitness in 1989 and stayed with them until present. They were closed because of the lockdown.
During my twenty-five years of working, going to the gym on the weekend was not a luxury but necessary to keep me going for another week. My routine was doing yoga on Saturday, using the machines and swimming on Sunday.
When Lynton retired at the end of 2016, he wanted me to join him going to the gym. We went to the gym together for four years. Besides working out with him, I kept my weekend swimming schedule.
When the pandemic hit in March 2020, the gym closed. It was difficult for our bodies to come to a haul from a regular workout routine. Lynton kept the running schedule in a local park but needed more for the upper body. He bought a manikin to practice boxing. Gradually, he modified it to make it look like an actual person. He called him “Bob.” Punching “Bob” was still not enough exercise for him. He resurrected the dumbbell set for weightlifting.
It’s more difficult for me to adjust the workout routine. I try walk 30 to 45 minutes five days a week. When I get busy with other routine such as blogging or gardening, I conveniently forget going for my walk. I tried to do yoga with YouTube, but it was hard to stay motivated without actual people around me.
Something wonderful happened during our visit with my daughter, Mercy, and the grandkids. Mercy and I took Nora with us to go for a morning walk. She used an app Strava to track our walk. I used to have an app to track my steps, but it had too many commercials, so I uninstalled it. The one Mercy uses doesn’t have commercials, so I downloaded it. One good thing is that we can follow each other. After I downloaded the app, I followed my son-in-law, Will, and one other person. The followers could click “kudo” to show support of anyone’s walking, biking, and other athletic activities.
I now feel motivated to stay with my walking and doing the recumbent bike at home. Even though Mercy and I are not walking together physically but we keep track on each other. I was thinking about the accountability but on a second thought, no, we’re not holding each other accountable. We just want to stay in touch and cheer up each other! To me, it’s the connection, and connection, and connection that counts!
Do you go to the gym? What do you do to keep up with the exercise? I would love to hear your ideas.
These are some of the comments:
Claire Fullerton One of my favorite topics, Miriam! I taught a ballet barre/Pilates mat class in Malibu for 8 years, and although I don’t teach anymore, I stay on top of the movements as a way of being in the world. I’m at my desk a lot, and still practice what is basically a combination of yoga, ballet, and Pilates. I use free weights– never over 2 pounds because more can be taxing on cartilage and joints. Weights are great for isometric engagement, alone. All this counters the time I spend at my desk. I also recommend stretches after getting out of a hot bath. And walking is the best exercise of all. I’m of the belief use it or lose it, as the saying goes. The older I become, the more I realize it’s worth the effort.
Hedy Bach Wonderful Miriam yes yoga and walking the mutt but missing my pool and weights hoping things open up more here but who knows … spring is arriving so fun in the sun 🤞happy weekending ~ smiles Hedy ☺️💫
Chelsea Owens What a great idea! I used to go to our community gym before COVID and pregnancy, but haven’t made time for it again or felt safe yet. I mostly do YouTube videos and agree that we need yoga once a week.
Toni Pike Hi Miriam, That app looks great, thanks for that. I like walking for exercise and doing some exercises at home, so I’m not worried about the gym. But I’ve put on some Covid kilos over the last 12 months, and really need to lose them to get back in shape. Toni x
Hints of Life Great post! 👍🏻 I try getting 20 minutes run 4-5 times in a week. Somedays, nothing better than simple stretches and yoga. 😊🙏🏻
Pete SpringerI was going to the gym 4-5 days a week for three years after I retired. It was the longest I’ve ever stayed that disciplined about going. I’ve never liked to run, but I did find that I felt better and got a sense of accomplishment each time I finished. Now, I haven’t gone in more than a year since the pandemic began. I walk 5-6 days a week and miss it when I don’t. I’ve put a few of the pounds back on that I lost before the pandemic. I get as much mentally from walking as I do physically. It’s where I seem to do my best thinking.
Janet Gogerty My favorite exercise apart from walking, gardening and swimming in the sea is aquarobics. Alas, even before Covid my various aquarobics classes were always disappearing – either the teacher would leave or the pool would close down! I had an app on my phone to measure walking distance, but it kept talking every time I stopped to cross the road or met someone I knew.
Stevie Turner I always walk and cycle every day. I cycle for half an hour and walk for about an hour and a half. It keeps me fit.
Elizabeth GauffreauBetween working, blogging, and writing, my home exercise routine that I’ve had for years is falling by the wayside–and I’m feeling it. I need to make a change. I think I’ll start with walking, as getting outside will be a big motivator from an enjoyment perspective.
Norah Colvin Exercise and I are only passing acquaintances, Miriam. We haven’t really got to know each other yet. I think exercise might be a bit bossy for me, and exercise doesn’t like the way I ignore them. Perhaps one day. I agree with you that it’s the connection that’s important.
Jill Weatherholt I workout each day. It’s been part of my routine for many years to combat stress. In my early 20’s, I had a membership, but I always found excuses not to go. It was raining, the traffic is terrible, etc. Investing in my own equipment works best for me. Is that a Schwinn recumbent bike? It looks exactly like the one I purchased during the pandemic after my treadmill died. I also have an elliptical, a trampoline and a stair stepper. I could start my own gym! 🙂
Barbara Vitelli Hi Miriam – I don’t go to a gym but I walk and do aerobic workouts with weights in our basement. I have been doing the same indoor workout since my twenties, when I did go to aerobics classes at a gym. I memorized the routine and have not needed to go. It’s hard to keep up with the walking when we get busy, isn’t it? I try to do a walk a few times a week and squeeze in a walk during one of my work days. I’m glad you like Strava. My sons and I use RunKeeper which is similar. It’s fun to see where each of us goes. One uses it for walking and running and the other uses it for biking.
Willow DotI used to go to the gym three times a week for years after breaking my back, both times. Then about 5 years ago I switched to Pilates twice a week and gym twice a week. Then 4 years ago I stopped the gym and just carried on with Pilates. During lockdown I carried on the Pilates lessons via zoom. Then I got ill so for last 8months I stopped Pilates. I now do Leslie Sansone health videos, walking for life usual a 3mile work out, plus usually I get out and walk daily. It’s not perfect but it’s better than nothing.
Alethea Kehas Hi Miriam, my kids and I convinced my husband to got a Nordic Track Peleton-like bike for Christmas and it has been the best motivator for me. I try to do five rides on it a week, which are around 30 minutes. I enjoy it because you can “travel” with the instructor to different places around the world. Other than that, I teach two Zoom yoga classes during the week, so that motivates me to get some yoga in too. And, I walk our dogs every afternoon.
John Steiner Good morning. Like you, my wife and I miss our visits to our respective gyms as well. They have opened up again, and in the next few weeks, when we get back to North Dakota, we’ll rejoin. For the duration of the lockdowns, we’ve been using the online versions of the training programs we are used to doing. Lynn does her yoga, several types, and I bought a barbell set to continue my weight training. Though the equipment was expensive, the total cost to retrofit our home was less than the monthly fees we saved by only paying for the virtual programs available from our gyms.
Roberta CheadleHi Miriam, this sounds like a lot of fun. I’m glad to know you have found a way to stay connected while walking.
Jacqui Murray Great post. I don’t go to a gym–haven’t for decades–but walking here and there used to keep me in shape. Pandemic meant I couldn’t. I took up walking, often with my husband. I love the look of that app. I’m going to check it out, see if I can get my son on it (he is in Okinawa and walks all over that island!). I downloaded the app, figured out the setup and can’t wait to try it tomorrow.
Mae Clair I’m not a gym person, but I do jog five days a week. I used to do yoga, but ran into lower back issues. Now I just do stretching on top of my jogging. I’ve also got a Fitbit that lets me track steps, sleep, etc. I’m going to have to check into the app you mentioned.
Bette A. Stevens I walk and join my Soaring Seniors group on FB since COVID. Grateful. Being part of this awesome group is not only fun, it inspires me to do the work! Thanks for sharing, Miriam!
Jan Sikes Walking and yoga stretches are my favorite forms of exercise. I have not heard of this app, but will check it out. Thanks for sharing, Miriam!
Yvette Calleiro I was walking until I formed a heel spur. Now, I’m stretching and riding my bike around the neighborhood. I’m hoping to incorporate more walking soon. Great post, Miriam. 🙂
D. Wallace Peach I’m so impressed with your dedication to staying fit, Miriam. I’m on the couch way way too much. The walking app sounds wonderful, but we don’t have walkable roads where I live – no sidewalks, sharp blind corners, and logging trucks. That said, my goal is to exercise every day for the month of April to start making it a habit and get over my initial resistance and excuses. Wish me luck and keep it up, my friend. You’re an inspiration!
Cee posts excellent questions in this week’s Share Your World – June 4, 2018.
A piece of clothing from your younger childhood you still remember?
I came to the US 40 years ago as a student. I checked in 2 suitcases to my flight. I had one carry on, and my purse. I wish I had brought more sentimental items, but I couldn’t. In fact, my carry on was too full that the security people asked me to take out something to leave behind. The problem was that I packed them very tight. After I took out something and repacked them, the bag was bigger than before. If you like camping and roll every piece of clothing tight to make your packing compact, you could visualize how I packed my bag.
During my three years of studies in Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington, I moved 9 times. In 1980, I drove from Seattle to Los Angles, California by myself. It was 1,1 75 miles with 18 hours of driving. I stopped overnight in San Francisco. Next day I still arrived Los Angles after dark. The freeway was very intimidating to a new person in town.
Even if I had brought a piece of childhood clothing, it couldn’t have survived with so many moving. Fortunately, my sister had scanned some of my childhood photos and I made copies of them. The first one was when I was six years old. I wore a Chinese style top and matching fabric pants. The second photo was when I was in third grade with the school uniform, a white shirt and a blue skirt with straps.
Regardless of your physical fitness, coordination or agility: If you could be an athlete what would you do? Remember this is SYW, dreaming is always allowed.I would like to be a competitive swimmer. I learned swimming in the ocean when I was in Hong Kong. After I graduated from college and started working, it was hard to find time to go to the beach. I went swimming in an outdoor pool in a park. During one swimming, I slipped and almost got drown. Ever since then, I was afraid of water. I still swim, but only in shallow water.
The photo was taken when Mercy, Will and her friend participated in the Triathlon.
In a car would you rather drive or be a passenger?
I had driven long miles during my working life. I stayed in the same school district for 25 years even though we moved three times. The furthest distance was 30 miles with heavy traffic. The longest time it took to go to work was two and a half hours. The driving put a lot of stress on me, so we moved closer, but it was still a 21 miles drive.
After I retired, I don’t like to drive too much, especially at night. If I had a choice, I prefer to be a passenger.
What did you appreciate or what made you smile this past week? Feel free to use a quote, a photo, a story, or even a combination.
I appreciate that I could spend the time to do gardening, trim the grape vines, watching the Red Throat Hummingbirds, the House Finch birds, and the Mourning Doves.