Adventures of the Heart
Mary Zalmanek
Issue 9 - For Better or Worse, In Sickness and In Health

The Celebrating Our Lives Newsletter is about loving and being loved.  This month we'll look beyond sweet love stories. Life isn't always easy, and neither is love.  There's no greater testament to love than what people will do when their loved ones are ill.


'The way to love anything is to realize that it might be lost.'
  -- G. K. Chesterton


When Roxanna was diagnosed with breast cancer, the biopsy showed seventeen out of twenty-one lymph nodes were cancerous.  She faced six months of chemotherapy, to be followed by radiation.  After chemo sessions, she'd go to bed early, but sleep was elusive.  Her husband, Charlie, knew she'd be in the bathroom several times before morning, alone and miserable.  To ease her dreary night while giving her the privacy she wanted, he'd leave rose petals in the toilet bowl. 

Roxanna and Charlie live in the San Juan Islands in Washington.  Charlie traveled with her to Seattle for her doctor's appointments and chemo sessions.  When she started seven weeks of daily radiation, pilots on the island volunteered to fly her to Seattle at no charge.

Corey suffered from breast cancer, too.  Bill, her husband, kept her motivated by planning trips they could take when she got well. He massaged her feet when she was at her lowest, when nothing else felt good. Her friends gathered to make malachite prayer bracelets, brought meals, and laughed with her during her chemo sessions.  When she 'came out of the fog,' she saw that her children, then aged 14 and 16, had taken responsibility to keep their grades up and stay out of trouble. That lifted a huge burden from her and Bill.  Her relationship with family and friends - old and new - is deeper and more satisfying now than ever before.

When my dad had stomach cancer, my friend Bonnie offered to help me knit a prayer shawl for him.  She'd found a blessing and instructions that recommended three people share the knitting. Another friend, Loren graciously agreed to be our third knitter. Bonnie and I drove to Albuquerque to present my dad with the shawl.  There wasn't a dry eye among us when Bonnie read the blessing to my mom and dad.  Several months later when my dad died, the prayer shawl was by his side.

If you've read THE ART OF THE SPARK or heard me speak, you might remember Judy and Michael as the bear repellent couple. Judy's the one who would run for miles in the backcountry of Yellowstone, dodging grizzlies.  She also owned a Pilates studio for twelve years.  Her friends and family considered her the picture of health...until she needed a quadruple bypass.   

Hordes of friends showed up at the hospital to sit with Michael and Judy's daughters while we awaited word of her fate.  Judy's ex-husband and his wife even cut short their Vail skiing vacation when they heard of Judy's illness.  Their support during Judy's surgery and recuperation earned him the title of 'Best Ex-Husband in the World.' 

You may also recall that the memory of receiving bear repellent as a gift from Michael made Judy cry.  Maybe she's just the sentimental type.  Now she tears up when she remembers the simple acts of kindness loved ones did for her during her illness.  My husband, Jim, was there to do whatever was needed.  He recharged Michael's cell phone, went to their attorney's office to pick up Judy's living will before her surgery, and showed up at the hospital to get discharge instructions when Michael couldn't be there.  Debbie helped with a shower.  Her Pilates class sent catered meals to her home for a week.  I sent emails to friends updating them on Judy's condition, and left a book in the hospital waiting room for friends to sign.  Since she couldn't have visitors, the book recorded the wishes of the many people who showed up to hold the space of healing and love. 

The good news is Roxanna, Corey and Judy are doing well, appreciating their good health and loved ones.  My dad is out of pain. All four of them experienced the love of their family and friends.  And we experienced the gift of giving.

Judy summarized it best when she said, 'Love is showing up.'

If you have a story of the tender loving care given during difficult times, please share it with me.


It's the wedding season.  And what do most newlyweds want even more than toasters or towels?  Lasting love, that's what!  If you have friends or family getting married this summer, THE ART OF THE SPARK would make a great wedding or shower gift.  If you order books online from me, I'll personalize them to the happy couples.

And for all of you who've recently purchased books as gifts, thanks!


In the spirit of good food and tender loving care, I've included a romantic recipe.  Since I love to cook, many of my romantic adventures include food. 

Jim and I just returned from the San Juan Islands where I spoke at Roche Harbor Resort, visited Roxanna and Charlie (Jim's brother and wife), and ate great seafood.  If you're a shrimp lover like me, you might enjoy this recipe.  Thanks to Edna, 'Coke' and Eduardo who inspired this recipe.


1 pound shrimp, shell on
Herb marinade
Chipotle dipping sauce

HERB MARINADE: Marinade shrimp in olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and 3 tablespoons dried herbs: basil (an aphrodisiac according to Martha Hopkins, author of INTER COURSES, AN APHRODISIAC COOKBOOK) and any combination of oregano, thyme, tarragon, parsley, or summer savory.  Grill shrimp on charcoal or gas grill for 2 to 3 minutes, until pink.

CHIPOTLE DIPPING SAUCE: Mix together equal parts mayonnaise and Dijon mustard, and 1 or 2 chipotle peppers to taste, diced, with adobo sauce.


You can host an ART OF THE SPARK workshop in your home.  If at least 5 couples attend, the cost is $25 per couple, which includes 1 copy of THE ART OF THE SPARK, a $16.95 value.  The hosting couple attends at no cost and receives a free book.  Scheduling is a mutually agreed upon time.  Please plan for at least 2  hours. 

Additional sessions can be scheduled at $20 per couple for 5 couples if you decide you want more time.  Session One covers the basics. In the second session we plan a customized adventure. My husband often comes with me so we can break into two groups and plan surprises for our partners.


Sunday, September 10
General Merchandise Distributors Council
Health & Beauty Care Marketing Conference
Spouses Program
Dallas, Texas

Sunday, February 4, 2:30 to 4:30
Mile Hi Church
Tea Talk
9079 W. Alameda Ave.
Lakewood, Colorado
Details to come


Saturday, August 19, 10:15 Mountain Time
NewsTalk 870 KRLA, Los Angeles
Special Engagements with Marisa & Steve


If you enjoyed this free e-zine, please forward it to friends.

I care about people and how they celebrate.  If you have any stories you'd like to share with others, please send them to me at  We can all learn from each other.

Wishing you a life of adventure,
Mary Zalmanek

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