The Doctor is IN

Keen Observations on Life … Whether You Need Them or Not

1 Comment

New Semester, New Writing Courses!

I can honestly say that I’m never bored. But 2016 will go down in history as one crazy, busy year. We traveled to Barbados; sold our house of 19 years; we built a new house; our son graduated from high school; we traveled to San Diego, CA; we traveled to NYC; our son started college; my mother sold her house in a day; and we moved my mother in with us while her house is being built (expected completion: June 2017). WHEW.

It’s a good thing I like to be busy. One of the upsides of moving to a new county and a new community is finding fun new things. Like Central Carolina Community College in Pittsboro. I’ll be starting this spring as an adjunct instructor in their Creative Writing Program. AND I’ll also be continuing to work as an adjunct instructor in Wake Technical Community College’s writing program. 🙂 Check it out:

Introduction to Grantwriting
Wake Technical Community College
Tuesdays : March 21 – May 2, 2017

The Business of Writing Romance
Central Carolina Community College
Thursdays : March 23 – May 4, 2017

Sign up today!


So long, house!

acornIn 1997, my soul mate and I kicked off an adventure in a little town called Apex, in a beautiful little house on Acorn Hill Lane. Nineteen years, one son, three dogs and three cats later, we’re moving on to a new adventure half an hour down the road in a new little town. When we moved into this house, I was four months pregnant; I had breakfast one morning with my husband, went to work, and came home to a different house in a different town. Today, our son woke up and had breakfast with us, went to school, and will come home to a different house in a different town. I’ve passed the torch. I’m going to miss our house, where the most exciting (the birth of our son) and the saddest (the death of my father-in-law) events have occurred.

Screen Shot 2016-05-18 at 5.07.40 PMBut we are nothing if not adventurers, we Sickles Three, and anticipate that our new house on two acres in the meadow will bring with it more of the good stuff, and likely more of the sad stuff … eventually. Either way, we face our new adventure head-on, where being together makes any house a home.

So, so long house … and thanks for all the fish!

1 Comment

World AIDS Day 2015

red_ribbonThe time to act is now.

Did you know that HIV disease is a communicable disease spread through semen, vaginal fluids, blood, and breast milk? It’s spread through shared needles during intravenous drug use. It’s spread through sexual contact when one partner isn’t aware of their positive status. It does not discriminate based on gender, race, culture, age, economic status … it affects everyone.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “an estimated 36.9 million people are living with HIV/AIDS worldwide … Around 1.2 million people are living with HIV in the United States, and 1 in 8 don’t know it.” There were 1,566 new HIV diagnoses in North Carolina in 2013, and there were 541 deaths due to HIV disease in 2012.

HIV disease is preventable, and it’s treatable – but it’s not curable. Yet. If you have HIV disease, you need to know how to not spread it; if you don’t have HIV disease, you need to know how to NOT get it. If you have young people in your family, love and respect them enough to get past the discomfort of discussing sex, disease prevention and responsibility, and provide straight talk. It’s unrealistic to assume your children are waiting because it’s what Jesus would do, or through the sheer force of YOUR will. Kids are smart nowadays; educate them as to why they should wait until they’re more mature to handle the emotional side of being sexually active, and how to be as safe as possible. Teach them to protect and respect themselves, and in turn to protect and respect their partner. The smart choices need to be present in the quick, stolen moments when intimacy will occur, and your conversations are only a memory.

So know your status; knowledge is power. And wear a condom. Every time. Until the cure …

Learn more about HIV disease

HIV Test Locations

 “Grant that we may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.”

– St. Francis



42Over the weekend, I turned 42.

It seems this might be the year that I learn the answer to everything. Which is good, because I have a thousand questions … like, a day.

In case you were wondering, there’s a fun list of 42 things that are focused on 42 on The Independent. Here are some of my favorite 42’s:

–   Buzz Lightyear’s ship
–   Fox Mulder’s apartment
–   Harry Potter discovers he’s a wizard on page 42
–   Michael Jackson’s album, Thriller, lasts 42 minutes
–   Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland has 42 illustrations

Romance author, Becky Moore, turned 42 this weekend … and so did children’s author, Dolly Dozier!

Got a question?
Lemme know.

Leave a comment

Apex High AOIT coding challenge today!

I’m boosting the signal for the Apex High School AOIT program. Please help spread the word …


aoit_logo_cornflowerTODAY Progress Software will host the first Apex High School Academy of Information Technology (AOIT) App Development Challenge at its Morrisville, NC location.

The daylong challenge will be broken into three portions: instruction, development and judging. Thirty AOIT seniors will be introduced to four programming languages—Progress Pacific Platform, Progress Rollbase, JavaScript, and Node.js—and will have to create and program an original application.

“It’s important to get young people exposed to programming early in their academic careers,” said Eduardo Pelegri-Llopart, VP of Technology at Progress Software. “We are impressed with National Academy Foundation and the local Apex High School’s AOIT program. By the end of their first semester of ninth grade, the AOIT students are beginning to earn professional certifications. Progress Software is proud to host our first app development challenge. Who knows—we could be glimpsing the next technology breakthrough.”

The Progress Software AOIT App Development Challenge will be held from 8:00 am – 2:30 pm at 3005 Carrington Mills Blvd, Suite 400, Morrisville NC 27560. Thanks to SAS and IBM, all 30 competitors will have his or her own laptop to use for the day. Students will compete for prizes and publish their results to the app store.

“The academy is constantly looking to connect its students with the business community,” said John Evans, the AOIT Director. “Critical thinking experiences like this expose them to the latest technology and simulate the workplace.”

~ ~ ~

The Academy of Information Technology (AOIT) started at Apex High School in 2001, and is one of 15 Career Academies in the Wake County Public School System affiliated with the National Academy Foundation (NAF). While the NAF Academy model inspires students and teachers to greater success, the Academies are bridges between corporate America and local communities. The NAF model works by bringing business people into the public schools and introducing youth to the world of business. Through the Academies, educators and business people are partners for investing in and developing America’s youth. The Apex High School AOIT program was recognized in 2013 as the number one NAF academy in the nation.

AOIT provides students with a rigorous academic curriculum, while exposing them to the varied career paths and opportunities available in the information technology industry. Students engage in a rigorous, project-based learning curriculum focused on providing transferable skills and exposure to the dynamic IT field.

Since 1981, Progress Software has been committed to delivering market-leading technology innovations that empower its partners and customers to dramatically improve the development, deployment, integration and management of its business applications. Its technology is used by nearly 140,000 organizations in over 180 countries.

1 Comment

World AIDS Day 2014

red_ribbonHIV disease is a communicable disease that is spread through semen, vaginal fluids, blood, and breast milk. It does not discriminate based on gender, race, culture, age, economic status … it affects everyone. If you have HIV disease, you need to know how to not spread it; if you don’t have HIV disease, you need to know how to NOT get it. So know your status; knowledge is power. And wear a condom. Every time. Until the cure …

Learn more about HIV disease
HIV Test Locations

“Grant that we may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.”
– St. Francis


Breast Cancer Awareness Month

pink_ribbonI had a mammogram this morning.

Unless something comes up during an annual exam, most women begin getting annual mammograms at age 40. This was my fourth, though, because breast cancer runs in my family. My first was when I was 21 … then at 30, 38 and today, at 41.

It’s awfully intimate, a mammogram. The kneading, pressing, pulling, and general re-shaping of your breast by the nurses. But after childbirth and decades of pelvic exams, having my breasts manipulated is hardly an insult to any modesty that remains. It’s a blessing, really, the privilege of health screening procedures. And in the scheme of things, a little pressure on the ol’ mammary glands isn’t the worst medical checkup a gal can have.

According to the American Cancer Society:
“Breast cancer is a malignant tumor that starts in the cells of the breast. A malignant tumor is a group of cancer cells that can grow into (invade) surrounding tissues or spread (metastasize) to distant areas of the body. The disease occurs almost entirely in women, but men can get it, too.”

Here are some other facts from the American Cancer Society:

  • Breast cancer is the most common cancer among American women, except for skin cancers.
  • About 1 in 8 (12%) women in the US will develop invasive breast cancer during their lifetime.
  • The American Cancer Society’s estimates for breast cancer in the United States for 2014 are:
    • About 232,670 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women;
    • About 62,570 new cases of carcinoma in situ (CIS) will be diagnosed (CIS is non-invasive and is the earliest form of breast cancer); and
    • About 40,000 women will die from breast cancer.

I’m fortunate that my doctor, Dr. Samira Tahtawi, agrees with the American Cancer Society and most doctors, that screening is important for women and their breast (and overall) health. In fact, women age 40 and above should have annual mammograms.

Have you had a mammogram yet? If you haven’t and you’re nervous, call me. I’ll ride with you.

1 Comment

An Altered ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Yesterday I was challenged to the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge by my great friend, Jake Requard.

– – > Here’s a link to my video.

I opted to not douse myself, but rather to take a few moments to share a bit about Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS. In January, I read about a local man named Chris Rosati battling ALS who wanted to hijack a Krispy Kreme truck so he could drive around and pass out free donuts like Robin Hood. Just to make people smile. When I mentioned it to my husband, Matt, it turns out that he grew up with and was great friends with Chris.


I offer an ice cold toast.

It broke his heart to hear about his childhood friend who has become one of the 30,000 Americans battling this terminal disease. Chris, like many others, lives with a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects the nerve cells in his brain and spinal cord—knowing that there is no cure for the progressive degeneration of the motor neurons that will eventually will lead to death.

And thanks to Jake, I have done my research and accept the challenge to broaden my knowledge of a disease that strikes two per 100,000 people.

  • ALS strikes (most commonly) people between the ages of 40 – 70.
  • As many as 30,000 Americans have the disease at any given time.
  • Early symptoms of ALS often include increasing muscle weakness, especially in the arms, legs, speech, swallowing or breathing.
  • No two people will have the same journey or experiences.
  • There is no cure or treatment today for ALS.
  • ALS is not contagious.
  • Approximately 5,600 people in the US are diagnosed with ALS each year.
  • Life expectancy for individuals living with ALS ranges from two to five years, though more than half of all patients live more than three years after diagnosis.
  • ALS can strike anyone.

Support services for these individuals and their families pales in comparison to the millions of dollars I helped raise as the grantwriter for the Alliance of AIDS Services – Carolina, and the even more millions of dollars raised annually by the Susan B. Komen foundation for breast cancer. All of these organizations, and all of the people they support, and all of the overwhelming need accumulated, are worthy and in need of financial support. I’m happy for the ALS Foundation, and that the 30,000 Americans living with ALS are in the minds of so many right now … hopefully, the organization will reach a sustainable level of donations so that it may continue to focus on treatment and quality of life.

When I was a child, I had a friend who’s father was a US Marshall … who grew up and was best friends with Jim “Catfish” Hunter. At the time, I just remember how nice he was, and that he always had boy stuff to share with the kids when he was in town visiting his friend—baseballs, mits, stuff like that.

So I raise this glass of ice-cold water in salute to my husband’s friend Chris Rosati and my friend Catfish Hunter, and the 30,000 Americans battling ALS. My family will be making a donation to the ALS Jim “Catfish” Hunter Chapter in Chris’ name. I urge you to enrich yourselves by learning more about the ice bucket challenge that’s sweeping the nation and the disease it is supporting, and find it in your heart to donate your time and money, when you can, to organizations like the ALS Foundation, that so need the continued support of the community.

For more information on ALS:

For more information on Chris Rosati and his good community works:

The non-profit world can be a bit insular—60-70 hour work weeks tend to be a little time consuming when fighting the good fight. So I challenge three of my friends and former non-profit colleagues to expand their knowledge of a disease outside of their daily realm of community effort. The work they do is so very important … but there’s always mental bandwidth to learn about the struggles in other populations in the community. Whether you douse yourself in ice cold water or make a donation is up to you; what’s important is that you take the time to learn about ALS, and share the knowledge you have gained.

  1. Randy Light and his alter ego, Mary K Mart, Director of Development at Alliance of AIDS Services – NC
  2. Jan Muller, Program Operations Administrative Assistant, East Coast Migrant Head Start Program
  3. Melissa Cartwright, Director of Development at Equality NC