Seeking Optimist Playlist!

One month ago today I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Without much warning….  And damn. This was not in my playbook. I’m only 42?! Not me… not possible. But it was. And it brought me to my knees.

Today, with a lot of support and care, I am standing tall again and this past Thursday I went through my second round of chemo. No picnic but I’m okay and so far, the doctors are all very pleased by how well I’m doing. I give it up to the blend of Western meds and Eastern treatments I’m embracing. Including a lot of walking and yoga and more mindful eating habits.

I’m easing back in to my job at Nike but taking it day by day and extremely grateful for all the people who have not just looked me in the eye but gave me big ol’bearhugs of welcome and strength. My hair has fallen out almost completely now but I’m sporting what I hoped was a sassy wig/scarf combination that would minimize drama and attention.

Axl in better days...

(However, I think it actually makes people start humming “Sweet Child of Mine” as I pass by.  Maybe not such a bad thing?)

But now here’s a short story of another rocker that is higher on my list than dear Axl. Eddie Vedder is what I consider a sublime poet of our time (and lets face it, he’s still hot. Axl not so much).

Mr. Vedder

My two favorite songs of late were ballads on Pearl Jam’s most recent album, Backspacer, called “Just Breathe” and “The End.” (See lyrics at the bottom of the post. Much better to hear the real thing though.)

When all this went down I couldn’t help but wallow in the thought that Eddie somehow wrote these words just for me. Cue to me in a huddled puddle of anger and sadness. It was good catharsis for a while but then my older sister Erika came for a visit (bless her). She wanted none of it. Between these tracks and the constant wail of Colin Meloy from The Decemberists (house band/husband Dan’s fave), it was all too much for her.  And for those of you that know Erika, you don’t mess with her when she’s got a big sister plan. She said to me, “That’s it. We need a new playlist.” Her suggestions already started to push me to a new place of hope and openess… “I Will Survive” was the obvious first suggestion, with Cancer “doing me wrong” of course instead of a man.

Flash forward to a few days ago when my 10 year old Hadley queued up another Pearl Jam Backspacer song on the Sonos called “Amongst the Waves.” She declared it her favorite and after listening closely I think she’s got it all right for me. (apropos lyrics are listed, again, at the bottom of the post. But check the real deal song too for it’s uplifting, groovy tempo). This, I declared would be the second song on my Optimist Playlist.

So now to you. Everyone has asked what they can do and I’m saying Help! I need you oh-so-creative and hip friends and family! Give me your suggestion for what should make it onto the ultimate kick-cancer-in-the-ass-‘mixtape.’

In the words of Eddie (last time I’ll plagiarize I promise), “whisper in my unknown future’s ear” and give me some more good words in the form of song suggestions for my playlist (post in the comment section below, perhaps?). I’ll think of them as my special Power Songs that I can punch in on the low days when I need a boost. And, please do know that I AM riding high amongst the waves thanks to all of your strong shoulders.



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  1. Cheri Meyer
    Posted May 17, 2010 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

    Hi Kerri,
    You, Dan and the girls have been in my thoughts ever since Cathy shared your story with me. Please know you will continue to be in all the days and months to come. Your site is wonderful and such a gift to all of us who care about you. Seeing the pictures of you, Dan, Hadley and Emma brought back so many shared memories of Meyer’s Chuck. How quickly time passes and what a blessing fond memories are in ones’ life. All of you look great and I couldn’t help but think how fun it would be to see each of you again. Hadley and Emma are growing up and are still as cute as ever! Cathy and I had a nice evening with your mom this winter and had wished to return to Sitka for the open house but were unable to make it. I now have my first grandchild. Emelyn was born on March 16th and she is just darling and I’m loving driving to Redmond at least once a week to spend time with her…her parents too. She is a blessing. Kerri please give each other a hug for me and from me and know there is lots of positive energy and love coming your way from Whidbey Island. Cheri

  2. josh
    Posted May 3, 2010 at 7:56 am | Permalink

    Couldn’t get through the comments, so apologies if repeats here. Maybe a little eclectic…not exactly “optimist” music in the sense of pump you up lyrics, but a lot of comments about the simple life, so to speak, or focusing on what’s important. Hope you like.

    Animal Collective – “My Girls”
    DJ Shadow – “Midnight in a Perfect World” (just a pretty piece)
    Elbow – “Scattered Black and Whites,” “Grace Under Pressure,” and “One Day Like This”
    Flaming Lips – “Do You Realize??”
    Kings of Convenience – “I’d Rather Dance with You” (just a lot of fun)
    Telepopmusik – “Breathe” (ubiquitous car commercial music from 8 years ago, but still beautiful)
    Wilco – “Theologians”

  3. Tony
    Posted April 29, 2010 at 10:46 pm | Permalink

    I read your blog just before yoga tonight and during shavasana I kept hearing the old Johnny Nash reggae tune “I Can See Clearly Now” (you probably remember it by Jimmy Cliff, since you were two when the original version hit the charts). Jimmy Cliff also did another upbeat tune called “You Can Get It If You Really Want”. They both have the message with the beat to get you through.
    Best of luck,

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