Archive | November, 2013

Shiny, Happy People

27 Nov


I am thankful for the day one of Chip’s colleagues, Amy Smith, walked into his office and pitched this hairbrained idea she had to help him shoot this video.  A professional video to capture his voice, his mannerisms and his personality for the kids to have one day.  It was her “specific thing” she was really good at and knew how to do well.

I am thankful the idea of this video really resonated with Chip as he and I had already been trying to think of different ways he could remain a voice in the kids’ lives that wasn’t totally flat and creepy, like filling out birthday, graduation, and wedding cards in advance.

I am thankful one of Amy’s professional contacts led her to the amazingly talented cinematographer Roy Heisler, who after reading our blog, decided he was on board and agreed to share his talents with us.

I am thankful for a successful collaboration of ideas at our house one night where we successfully defined the objective of the video–to not only capture Chip’s actual voice but also to capture his voice in this fight.

I am thankful Amy came back to us a couple of days later and said we had to put me in front of the camera with Chip to capture our marriage, our collective voice, our back and forths and interactions with each other as part of Chip’s legacy for the kids.

I am thankful for the professional, compassionate and fun-natured makeup artist and lighting crew who showed up at our house that day.

I am thankful Roy then had the idea to come back and shoot some B-roll of us one Sunday afternoon around the house.

I am thankful Amy and Roy were so inspired by the success of our video project that they decided to take it to an entirely new level and founded a nonprofit organization called The Legacy Mission, and that I get to share their website for the first time on the Team Kennett blog:

I am thankful they have asked me to serve on the board and I can help pay it forward to other families.

I am thankful we all agreed, if we are able, to meet back up in ten years to shoot another video using the exact same format and questions.

Today, I am most thankful Chip, Joe, Crosby and I are all well enough to get on a plane and fly to Mississippi to spend Thanksgiving with my family.

All life is thanksgiving.  Remember to give thanks for yours.

– Sheila


Comfort IN, dump OUT.

20 Nov

Over the past year, people have told me countless times they don’t know what to say to me, and you know what? That’s perfectly fine, because half the time I don’t know what I want to hear – but at least you are acknowledging something significant is going on in my life instead of ignoring it, which comes pretty close to flat out saying the wrong thing entirely.

And speaking of saying the wrong thing?  Well, that does happen, but for the most part, Chip and I remind ourselves people’s hearts are usually in the right place and they meant well.  Being from the South, I can throw the blanket phrase “Well, bless her heart” at most any situation to excuse someone for poorly chosen words or inappropriate behavior.  The one exception was when someone once told me I must be cursed to have had all of these bad things happen to me.  Cursed?  I must be cursed??  Well, that’s really comforting, you dipshit.  I should probably let that one go, but I still struggle with finding the charity in my heart to excuse that statement.

I stumbled upon this article on a friend’s Facebook page a couple of weeks ago, and I keep finding myself going back and reading it.  I finally decided to post it, because I think it’s just so spot on: “How not to say the wrong thing” –

I acknowledge it is hard to know what to say or do, or how to truly be helpful to someone, but after being in that first ring for a year now, I tell you: It can be just as uncomfortable being on the receiving end of “words” as it is to be on the delivering end of “words.”  But what is far more awkward and exhausting is having to comfort someone or worry about their feelings.  The day our family counselor confirmed we were only responsible for the emotional and physical well-being of four people and four people only–ourselves, each other and our kids–was liberating.  Weight.  Lifted.

If I may, here is my list of “dos” I hope is helpful:

  • Acknowledge the present circumstances.
  • Deliver short and sweet words that convey love and compassion.  I am thinking of you.  I am praying for you.  My heart is with you.
  • Offer words of encouragement and specific prayers.  I am praying for your strength.  I am praying for restorative sleep.  Safe travels.  I am praying for quality filled days.  I am praying for healing.  I believe in miracles.
  • Be specific in ways you can help or be of service.  I am good at raking leaves and doing yard work.  I am going to Target and Trader Joe’s today so text me if you need anything from either of those places.  I am really good at doing research.  I am a night owl, so I can run late night emergency errands for you.  I have much flexibility with my job, so I can be available during the day if you need anything.  I nannied in college and am currently single, so add me to your list of readily available babysitters.       
  • Ask yourself if your words or actions are being helpful and serving others’ needs instead of your own.
  • Listen without passing judgment.

And please, please remember, don’t make stupid ass comments like, “You must be cursed.”

– Sheila

I’m a Survivor (What?)

19 Nov

Did you know November is national lung cancer awareness month?  Hell, we HAVE lung cancer and didn’t even know that until a couple of weeks ago when Chip randomly found out about a lung cancer walk here in D.C. called Breathe Deep DC via a tweet from local weather man Doug Kammerer.  Breathe Deep DC, sponsored by the LUNGevity Foundation, is a 5K on the National Mall to raise money for lung cancer research.  It is only in its third year and quite unlike the Susan G. Komen Global Race for the Cure or Avon Walk for Breast Cancer, other than that one tweet, neither of us heard anything else about the event before or after in the news, on the radio, saw registration posters, etc. which is quite disheartening considering lung cancer is the deadliest cancer, responsible for more than 25 percent of all cancer deaths.

Well, needless to say, the more we learned about Jerry Sorkin, the local man who started the walk in D.C., Chip decided he really wanted to participate in it, but unfortunately, since we had only found out about the walk a couple of days before it occurred, we didn’t have time to prepare for it, form a Team Kennett team or get a babysitter for 8 AM that Sunday morning.  I really, really didn’t want Chip to do the walk all by himself, but he really, really didn’t want to bring the kids with us, because he knew it would cause Joe to ask 100 questions neither of us were prepared to answer, so once I discovered he was in really good spirits on the morning of, I finally relented and decided to just let him go do it while the kids and I went to church together.

When Chip arrived, he noticed the majority of the folks were wearing blue “supporter” t-shirts while a much smaller minority were wearing green “survivor” t-shirts.  Was Chip a survivor?  What does being a survivor even mean?  Do you have to be in remission to be a survivor?  Since there is no cure for lung cancer, did Chip’s presence alone make him a survivor?  Do the standards of being a survivor change according to the type of cancer you have?  Am I survivor, too?  Are we both survivors for somehow managing to keep our heads above water this year and live life as fully and normally as possible?  Well, yes.  After standing around for awhile, Chip decided he was indeed a survivor.  As he put the green survivor t-shirt on, he noticed heads slowly starting to turn in his direction.  Another survivor turned to him, shook her head and said, “But YOU are so young.”  Yes, ma’am.  He sure as shit is.

Breathe Deep DC, Sunday, November 3, 2013

Breathe Deep DC, Sunday, November 3, 2013

Chip regretted he never got to meet Jerry Sorkin that day to thank him for all he is doing to promote lung cancer awareness and funding in our city, but he did get to meet and thank Doug Kammerer for his tweet and involvement in the race.  He also met another young man from Baltimore, father of one and a patient of Dr. B’s at Johns Hopkins, who was there with a group of his friends, he related to quite easily.

I am still conflicted Chip walked that walk alone that day, because “alone” is not how he has had to walk along this larger journey we are on, but I am extremely proud of him for being healthy, willing, and strong enough to do it.

And in the spirit of doing our part to promote awareness for lung cancer and the need for further research, I wanted to share this article, which I strongly urge you to read, along with a few facts I pulled together from various sites.

  • Lung cancer kills roughly twice as many women as breast cancer, and almost three times as many men as prostate cancer.
  • Although lung cancer kills more Americans than any other cancer, it receives less government funding for research than other cancers.
  • The median age for a lung-cancer diagnosis is 70, and smoking causes about 85 percent of all lung cancers in the U.S.
  • Nonsmokers make up about 10 to 20 percent of all cases, and some studies suggest that those rates–especially among women–may be going up.
  • CT scans can screen for lung cancer before there are any symptoms of the disease, but to qualify you must be between ages 55 and 74 and be a current or former smoker.

Team Kennett Tough Mudder Team

Chip and I want to recognize and thank members of Raytheon’s Government Relations office for forming a Team Kennett Tough Mudder Team and raising over $5,000 for the American Lung Association.  What an inspiration y’all remain to Chip in the office and in the mud! 

– Sheila

Happy Birthday, Joe!

13 Nov

Joe recently celebrated his birthday. (Do you think he had a good time?)


excited to take birthday cupcakes to school #lightningmcqueen


all smiles!