Count Your Blessings

Last weekend I went to spend some quality time with my dear sister-friend Kendra. Kendra and got to know each other when we both lived in LA and became part of the best little Moms’ group together with the “The Beautiful” – Krissy, Christy, Tracy, Holly and Katie. That was 9 years ago and after that several of us re-located (but the bond is still strong). Kendra moved to Portland with her family and every year our families try to spend New Year’s together. This past December however, out of the blue, Kendra was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer. What, wait, Kendra!!!?? The most happy, healthy and fit lady I know. How could that even be????

Kendra knew something was wrong. But the doctors did not believe her. She is young and very healthy and doesn’t fit the picture. After talking with several doctors Kendra put her foot down and demanded a colonoscopy. And sure enough. There it was. An ugly disease. We were all in total chock.

Kendra has since undergone tough chemo treatments and on June 24 (on my visit) she graduated. My beautiful friend took that disease and mushed it at its core. And now it is all gone. Kendra is cancer free! With the best attitude and tons of great determination and some serious focus on herself and her body, she is now moving forward with a big smile on her face. Words can’t even describe how proud of her I am. This girl has my absolute fullest admiration. I love her to pieces.

We had the best weekend together. We laughed a lot and talked about everything under the sun. Of course a lot of conversations had to do with big life questions and about what really matters. It was a weekend of celebration, inspiration, and a big dose of reality.

You have to be really kind to your body”, Kendra told me. As an accomplished physical therapist Kendra forced me to be more respectful of my body. One thing she noticed was my slouched back. I call it my “blog posture”. It is bad. I walk like a hunched over old lady nowadays. Kendra shared all kinds of tricks from the book on how to strengthen my back muscles and get the posture back but nothing really grabbed me until she showed me the airplane trick. And now, every morning, I put my arms straight out, tighten the muscles in the back (really tight) and make slow arm circles (1oo back and 100 forward like back strokes). I have already noticed a difference. I stand up straighter!  I call it “Flying high with Kendra” and I think of her every morning and hear her telling me to take better care of myself and to count my blessings.

On my last day in Portland, Kendra and her family drove me to the train station. I don’t know if we had miscalculated the time or if it was all because of that Starbuck’s coffee I had to have before I got to the station but when we got there the train (My train!) was getting ready to leave. Not one single person was left on the platform, not a train staff member in sight, the whistle was blowing and the cars were starting to move. “What do I do!!?”, I scream. “Push the button!, Kendra’s husband Rick hollers, which I do and one door opens. While the train is moving, I reach for a long handle along the wall and swing myself up on the train. Rick gallops alongside the train and throws, with a might heave, my duffel bag in through the door opening where I am standing while Kendra runs even faster alongside the moving train. It was like a scene from a movie. 

“You are brave!”, Kendra shouts. No, you are my dear friend. And this image will be forever etched in my memory of Kendra running fast in the sunshine on an empty train station platform with the wind blowing her hair and laughing hard all the way.

A few weeks ago my dear blog friend Michele with Hello Lovely Inc. asked me if she could interview me for her fabulous series An Inspired Life. At first I hesitated, I told her I am not not sure I have much to contribute. But she convinced me and today you can read our little conversation on her blog. I feel very honored.

Michele is another wonderful person in blog land who I feel so blessed to have met (and would love to meet in real life one day). Not only is she very talented, creative and inspirational (and an excellent writer). But she is also a very wise and calm person (and she is quite witty!). Her blog is nothing frou-frou. It is just genuine and lovely and I so enjoy visiting because of its great vibe. Her images are very inspirational (she has a great design eye) and I love how I feel very time I leave her blog — calm, inspired and very content.

I encourage you to visit her blog Hello Lovely Inc. If you want to read her interview with me — go here.

The sun is shining and I am ready to celebrate a long and lovely weekend with family and friends. Happy 4th to all my American friends! Don’t forget to count all your many blessings.

Images; No. 1 via Melissa Loves, no. 2 via Splendid Willow, no. 3 via Popular Mechanics, no. 4 via Kulpreeth, no 5 + 6 via Hello Lovely Inc.
Written by Splendid Willow in: Thank you! |


  • Greet says:

    Oh Monika,
    I am so impressed by the story of Kendra! And indeed we all have to count our blessings and we have to take care of our bodies!
    Loved this post Monika! It showed again what a wonderful person you are!
    And oohhh I had to laugh (sorry!) about that train story!! My gosh!
    Have a nice weekend sweetie !

  • monika, this is probably the most beautiful and inspiring thing I will read in a long time. thank you for telling us the story of your dear friend and inspiring us all. lots of love to you! donna

  • Josephine says:

    Thank you for the lovely story. I was reading it with my heart in my mouth and was so relieved to see a happy ending. Kendral sounds like a true warrior. xx

  • Monika,
    What a lovely tribute to your brave friend! It’s so nice to have friends that show us the way. I too, have run for a train and it always reminds me of a movie!
    Happy Fourth weekend, my friend.

  • my heart is full. really. moved not just by the events of the friendship and healing story but by the beauty of how you frame it all.

    thank you for all these kind words. i am hugging you.


  • Delishhh says:

    Monika – This is such a beautiful post! Very Nice! I am with you on that you have to take care of your body, life is too short. Have a great weekend! I am off to Whistler BC!!

  • Alvina says:

    Thank you for your inspiring post. I’ve recently had one of those “epiphany” moments and have started to not take things for granted (too often now, I’m afraid). What does the “plane” movement look like?


  • Monika, for some reason we are unable to comment on your blog post earlier. We were so touched by today’s post about your dear friend and her battle with cancer. What a wonderful story! We should all count our blessings daily. We loved the story of the almost missed train! Lol.

  • Michelle says:

    Thank you for this blog post Monica! You shared such an inspiring story. In keeping with “Count Your Blessings”, I took on a challenge back in February to write down 1000 things I am thankful for (inspired by the book “1000 Gifts”. I am on 305 right now, and try to do a few each day. I figure it will be a year long project. I think my attitude of “needing or wanting more” will be forever changed by a such a long project of the heart. It is making me take every moment more seriously, live more in the present and be content with the life I now live. Pretty amazing stuff… yet so simple.
    Number 306? “Splendid Willow and it’s lovely author.”

  • Joe Clarke says:

    What a heartfelt and inspiring post! A good reality check for all of us. Your train story with Kendra is hilarious!

    Happy weekend to you.


  • So happy for Kendra. It seems that lately I’ve been surrounded by several young people (even as young as 9 months) working hard to beat cancer. Its heartbreaking but it brings out the best in people I think. Happy holiday weekend!

  • Jodi says:

    Hi Mon, I’m so happy to hear that Kendra is now cancer free!! I love your post and I can totally picture the whole train scene! I’m sending a hug for you and for Kendra (and I agree she is beautiful and exudes health!).

  • Oh Mon! This post made my heart smile. What a wonderful story. My mom had colon cancer a few years back and she stomped on it as well. Today she is cancer free. A dear friend of mine and I were talking last night about how we destoyed our bodies when we were young. young girls living in america that did not know what all the bad food and junk out there was doing to our bodies. It is so true… we have to be really kind to our bodies… in every way. Thank you for sharing this post it truly made my heart smile. have a wonderful weekend. xx – Joanna

  • oh Mon, such a beautiful post! thank you so much for sharing so lovely story with us. so full of hope and so positive. have a wonderful weekend, darling! xo

  • I love this post, Mon. So happy your friend is now cancer free and that you were able to spend some time together in Portland. Just put a smile on my face! Also, loved your interview guest post. Happy 4th to you and your family! xo

  • carole says:

    Mon, this is such a lovely post. Kendra is very lucky to have you as a friend. I lost my best friend two years ago to cancer and I regret that I did not tell her how much she meant to me. I wish I’d had a weekend for just the two of us.
    Also loved your guest post. You truly are an inspiring women and I am very happy to know you.
    Have a lovely long weekend.
    Lots of love,

  • Charlotta says:

    Monika this is such a beautiful story – through and through.
    I am beyond happy that Kendra is through, and that she has such insightful knowledge of her body and sense of self. Our bodies are ‘our temples’ (you know how I preach about this through my detox posts).

    I love that you had such a wonderful time together – the love, happiness and closeness radiates all the way to Sydney. The sisterhood is tangible in that beautiful shot with you (and the adorable kitten!).

    Despite the dramatic ending to the trip (which sounded amazingly romantic somehow :) I know that you returned home with your heart brimming with love and happy memories.

    Beautiful post my love, and what a fabulous poster/print! I think that could be one for our walls in Sweden!

    Hugs from your ‘breathless camel’ of a blog-sis far far away..


  • liza says:

    Beautiful, beautiful post, Monika. Goose bumps spontaneously appeared while reading it. And I love the train story! I hope your long weekend is full of happiness!

  • Your friend is lucky to have you! and you her! What a amazing story. Life is short, eh? Cherish every moment.

    I like your back strengthening tip, I remember my mom doing that exercise! I must try it as well! Have a great 4th of July weekend darlin’

  • What a beautiful and inspiring tribute to your dear friend! I will be counting my blessings … and being kind to my body! xo!

  • How heartwarming. As a 15 year cancer free woman I am elated for your friend and for you. Without my friends, my journey would have been much more difficult. I loved your train story. As you told it I also thought it a scene from a movie. It seems we all have those times which I am now calling “movie scenes”. Thanks for Count Your Blessings. Counting my blessings get me out of alot of tight places.

  • I just travelled this
    journey with one of my
    best friends {breast cancer}
    and like Kendra, she came
    out whole and healthy, thank
    God. I love the vision of
    her running on the train
    platform….I have taken the
    train from Vancouver, WA to
    Seattle before and it’s so
    much fun.
    Happy Fourth of July : )
    xx Suzanne
    PS: LOVE Michele’s blog. I
    just began following her,

  • quintessence says:

    Monika – what a lovely and inspiring tribute to your friend. She is so lucky to have insisted her doctors check – why is it that doctors never listen to women who insist they know there is something wrong!! Thank goodness she is doing well now. Will pop on over to Michelle’s.

  • Dear Mon, this is such an uplifting post, I couldn’t have read anything better as I start my week. I’m moved by Kendra’s story (so glad she’s all better!) and your friendship. That was quite an adventure getting on the train!

    Your chat with Michele was lovely to read. I love your beautiful style and philosophies and agree with your words! You and Michele are so inspiring to me.

    Happy 4th July and happy new week, my sweet friend!

    Meera xx

  • Julie at BV says:


    So happy that your friend is well now. Those are the things that really upset me, when doctors think they know everything and overlook the patient’s concerns.
    What a adventure and fun story that of the train.

    P.S. I also need to work on my posture. Happy 4th of July!

  • such a beautiful and heartwarming post, Mon! I’ll be counting my blessings. BIG hugs to you… Happy 4th!

  • Hej Mon,
    just checking in to wish you a beautiful 4th July.

    Gulligt med din midsommarhälsning, den värmde i regn o rusk i skärgården.
    Täckjacka och gummistövlar framåt natten!


  • Mon, this story of your friend’s is pretty incredible. Just goes to show that when we feel like something isn’t right with our health we need to recognize that and demand help!! On that note, I forgot to mention to you earlier that my poor mom was in the hospital all last week and I have barely been able to get my own blog posts up, let alone come by to visit my favorite friends, I apologize for this!! Life is definitely too short and this post reminds me even more that we have to cherish our health and all of our friendships before anything else!
    Nancy xo

  • Stacey says:

    Mon, thanks for sharing Kendra’s story with us. I am so happy for her and that she is now healed. The way you speak of her and your friendship exudes a lot of love. You’re a sweet soul. I’m off to check out your guest post:-). XX

  • This is such a lovely story about friendship and how much you and she cherish each other. I’m glad your friend, Kendra is well and cancer free. It’s a wonderful thing when friends look out for each other and are truly kindred spirits. I must be your back twin because I have the same back posture and back issues. I will try this exercise too and let you know how it goes.

    p.s. what a great adventure running after a train Mon!


  • Such an inspiring story and thank you for sharing. Big hugs to you and Kendra! xoxo

  • Helena says:

    Tja, jag hade besök av din brorsa Erik, han berättade om din blogg, jag kunde inte låta bli att kika in o titta och tänker..hur kan man få ordning o reda i ett hus där det är “kaos” av 3 tonåringar och jag som morsa är ganska slut och inte orkar städa,fixa fullt ut …

    En eloge till ditt egna hem, god smak, tjusigt, fina skandinaviska färger o ljus/rymd.

    Hälsning Helena (Stockholm)

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