Grateful in Glo, 01930

Thanksgiving © 2013 Elynn Kröger

Five years ago today, I was driving to Mass General Hospital with my parents. This plan had been in the works for over a month. I was going to have a full​ ​thyroidectomy​ whereby my superman, Dr. Richard Hodin, would remove any cancerous lymph nodes that he found upon opening me up. I still remember sitting in the back seat and hugging a pillow while having some deep talks with the Universe.

While I would never wish cancer to enter any of your households – never, ever, ​ever
​ – my own personal experiences with it wound up teaching me one of the most valuable life lessons to be had. As we all know, crucial life lessons, or as my dad likes to call them, takeaways, tend to elevate our experience on this planet, maybe even carry us through the darkest of times.

This particular takeaway changed my life forever.


I became grateful for my blunt and strong as hell sister, who picked me up off my bathroom floor after I was told over the phone that I may have lymphoma. Meg’s response, “So what? You’ll beat it.” She then handed me my daughter, Emerson, who was only two and a half at the time.

“She’s your reason,” she said, not mincing words as she referred to my baby girl. “Now get up.”

Thank you for giving me strength, Meagan.

I became grateful to my father who somehow rallied the competitor inside of me. During our lymphoma scare, my parents never once left my side. On a two mile drive from Gee Ave to Granite Street, my dad said, “Lu, this is just one more big game. And all you have to do is score more than 30 points. You’ve done it before, you just need to do it again.”

Thank you for bringing out the champion in me, Dad.

I became even more grateful for my mother, the woman I caught crying in my kitchen, telling my father, “Timmy, why Lori? I just wish it was me.”

And that, my friends, was the turning point.

I had awoken. Gratitude felt like it had literally just washed over me. I knew then that I belonged to a Universe that blessed me with a mother who would fully embrace such overwhelming love and sacrifice. What more could I ask for?

From that moment on, I vowed to no longer feel sorry for myself. I didn’t want my Saint Nance to experience any pain. Not her.

Not my mom.

Thank you for raising me right, lady.

Shortly after that kitchen moment, thanks to my mother and the efforts of our family friends, Kate and Jack Andrews, I was connected to an elite doctor at Mass General. Through him, I received a diagnosis of papillary thyroid cancer. In short, this diagnosis was a long way off from lymphoma. I was told by my doctor that, on the wheel of cancer, I just received the best diagnosis possible. Due to my exhibiting symptoms, my medical team believed that I had been living with this for about ten years. I used this to explain EVERY bad choice I had made during this time.

Thank you, humor.

Fast forward to February 27, 2014. My surgery was scheduled for three hours. Clearly, when it lasted an hour beyond that scheduled time, my people started to get nervous. That is until Superman himself, Dr. Hodin, entered the waiting room to let my family know that the surgery was complete. It had taken longer than he expected because he had to remove 31 cancerous lymph nodes surrounding my thyroid. ​31…

Remember how many points I needed to score in this particular game?

Thank you, Universe, for having my back.

Since my surgery, I have started every single one of my days by expressing gratitude. Parts of my life, such as Brandon and our children, my nephews, my career, my home, my oceanside community, and my entire tribe of family and friends, only begin to tap into the infinite depth of possible things to be grateful for. And the more I am able to honor and express this gratitude, the more things I find myself having the opportunity to feel grateful for.

I have never gone public with this personal story. Until now. Why? Because of all of you. Because we are not alone. None of us. And each of us has a story to share and be heard…

A story to be grateful for.

Thank you, everyone, for listening.

Pictured above from left to right: my cousin Melissa Hull, me, my sister Meagan Marrone, my best friend Lauren Riley and my cousin Sara Hull.


Lori Sanborn was born in Gloucester and returned to live permanently in our seaside community six years ago. She has been a public educator for 12 years and is currently the Assistant Principal of Swampscott Middle School.  Lori is most proud of her role as mother to her children, Emerson and Ryder.


Cut from the Same Cloth

Lori Sanborn

Grandmother and Child Sewing. Friedrich Pondel (b. 1836)

Grandmother and Child Sewing.          Friedrich Pondel (b. 1836)

While there are 7,404,976,783 people in this world, I wholeheartedly believe that a handful of them were put here just for me. And the same goes for all of you.  These individuals are the ones that we feel connected to on the deepest possible level.  The ones that think the exact thoughts at the same moment we do. The ones that have shared eerily similar experiences to ours.  The ones that just get us and make us feel at home with all of our thoughts, dreams, fears, feelings and humor no matter how odd or bizarre they may be. Some people call these special ones soulmates or kindred spirits. Regardless of their name, these are the people that make our lives truly meaningful.

I have been fortunate enough to have already encountered a handful of these spiritual connections. Many of these individuals have come and gone in my life.  And although I may have wanted most of them to remain by my side forever, I am glad that I was able to experience these connections regardless of how long or short our time was together.  These people have given me some of my most cherished memories and made me feel special beyond words. I love that I am experiencing one of these connections as we speak, but it’s even cooler to witness my daughter have her first.

Emmy & Ryder Sanborn and her great-grandmother Millie Sanborn.

Emmy & Ryder Lewis and their great-grandmother Millie Sanborn.

Millie Sanborn is the great-grandmother to my daughter, Emerson.  Millie and Emmy are birds of a feather.  We jokingly call my Grandmother, “the bag lady,” for her reputation of having hundreds of items shoved into bags around her apartment.  At five years old, Emmy has already developed quite the name for herself over stashing crap into bags.  Plastic bags.  Ziploc Bags. Brown bags. You name the bag and Emerson has crammed 30 Shopkins or 15 princess figures into it.  Each time a family member finds one, we smile and mouth the name, “Millie.”

Both of our girls have a fondness for arts and crafts. Millie has always loved to attend the holiday fairs around Gloucester and has knitted hats for countless newborns for over twenty years.  Emmy spends hours each week gluing odds and ends onto paper to make the perfect figure or scene. Just last night, Emmy used various colors of strings to create the perfect Batwoman. Our ladies are always the loudest singers in the room. While Emmy’s stage is usually our kitchen or living room, Millie has been known to let tunes fly in Church, even brightening funerals by belting out the chosen hymn.  Both are true masters of speaking without a filter.  I can no longer count the amount of times their bluntness has blown my mind.

Yet what has stunned me even more is how deeply these two are connected.  Between the hours of two and three in the morning on November 7th, Millie struggled to breathe.  The ambulance and fire department arrived on the scene in Lanesville to check on my grandmother. Ironically, at the same time in downtown Gloucester, Emmy was battling the chills and a high fever that culminated with her covering her dear mother in throw up.  I am an optimist by nature, but I admittedly feared the worst.  What if our Millie passed away before Emmy had the chance to get one more Sunday visit to Gram’s in?

Millie is 92 years old and many have shared that they have witnessed her to be very confused or lost.  But let me tell you, each and every single time I bring Emmy to Grammie’s house on Sunday, Millie’s mind is as sharp as a tack.  In fact, I have yet to witness my grandmother bring anything except her A game.  After every Brierwood Street visit, my mother always asks, “How was Grammie today?” My response is always the same, “She was great.”  And when these two girls are together, they both always are.

I turned to the Universe to ask for help.  “Please let Emmy and Millie be together again.” As always, the Universe delivered.  At mid-morning on November the 8th,  Emmy jumped up out of a deep sleep covered in sweat.  Her fever had broken.  At almost the exact same moment, my mother who was by my Grandmother’s bedside in the ICU at Addison Gilbert Hospital, texted me to reveal that Millie was doing better.  Coincidence? Not a chance. These two are cut from the same cloth.

~Lori Sanborn


lori-sanbornLori Sanborn was born in Gloucester and returned to live permanently in our seaside community three years ago. She has been a public educator for 12 years, and is currently the Assistant Principal of Swampscott Middle School.  Lori is most proud of her role as mother to her children, Emerson and Ryder.



Star of the Show

Lori Sanborn

Dedicated to Mr. Z

This coming September my daughter will start kindergarten. Emmy will join hundreds of other adorable, curious, playful and crafty five year olds in the Gloucester Public School System. I know public schools pretty well because I have dedicated 13 years of my life to teaching in one. Although my classroom is not located here in our beautiful city, there are some commonalities and truths that exist in all public school settings.  Let me share a story that highlights the most important one.

The Country Schoolroom. 1871. Winslow Homer (1836-1910)

The Country Schoolroom. 1871. Winslow Homer (1836-1910)

The overwhelming majority of school teachers love their job and their students. Once I enter my classroom each day, I am fully present. My students get all of my attention.  I notice them.  I know when they didn’t get enough sleep.  I know when it’s their birthday or when they won their big game the night before.  I know when something is bothering them.  I am always in their corner.  I am their number one fan when those that love them the most can’t physically be there to cheer them on.  My students make me laugh daily and every so often one of them makes me cry.

Just recently, one of my students brought tears of happiness to my eyes.  Every year I strive to help my students improve their public speaking skills.  This is something we work on all year long, starting in September, so we are ready for our big debate on the death penalty come March.  Most middle schoolers hate standing in front of the classroom.  Long gone are the days where they thrived off of sharing their prized possession during “show and tell.”  The majority of my 8th graders squirm at the thought of having all of their peers focusing solely upon them.  But none of my students hated it more this year than Finn.

I still remember the expression that came upon Finn’s face when I told all 80 of my students that my personal goal was to help them all improve their public speaking skills.  A panic stricken Finn fidgeted in his seat and planned for the worst.  During his first experience in front of the classroom his fear weighed heavily upon this performance.  He rocked side to side, from left foot to right foot.  He spoke as fast as a student exiting the building on the last day of school in hopes that his suffering would soon end.   He barely looked up at his audience.  When his turn was over, he sighed in deep relief and listened for my critique and suggestions for improvement.  Finn listened intently to my words and all I could do was hope that they would resonate.

Since that day, Finn and his classmates have had multiple opportunities to speak in front of the class.  Each time I observed Finn with a watchful eye and afterwards highlighted his strengths and weaknesses.  Each time, Finn listened hard and showed slight improvements with his next delivery.  The swaying was becoming less extreme, the “ummms” were almost a thing of the past.  No more sweaty palms.

Fast forward to March 17th, a day rumored to be laced with luck.   It marked the second day of our death penalty debate.  Eli, a naturally strong orator, took to the podium to prove that the death penalty is far too much of a financial burden on state taxpayers.  Upon hearing his classmate and opponent finish his introduction, Finn rose to challenge him.  What happened next was magical, despite having happened on a day shrouded in Irish luck, there was nothing lucky about Finn’s performance.

Finn delivered a strong rebuttal to Eli’s argument.  Eli came back even stronger.  This pattern continued for 18 minutes straight.  For 18 minutes, I watched two young men demonstrate eloquence, passion and intellect.  They became the educators in the room.  Their peers reacted in such awe that it brought tears to my eyes.  After 13 years in education, I was immediately reminded of why I wanted to teach in the first place.  I have always believed that all kids can truly achieve academic excellence. But I also wholeheartedly know that all kids can experience that “magic” during the years they spend in the public school’s system.  And when it happens, the student will gain the type of confidence that will transfer far beyond classroom walls.

Although I would not want time to pass any faster than it already has, I do look forward to the day when Emmy has her transformative moment in school.  The moment that inspires her to come home beaming, not because of a crush or because she got invited to a dance, but because her teacher made her feel brilliant, like the star of the show.

This magical moment is different for all.  Finn’s came loud and openly in front of his peers.  My moment was a silent exchange between a student and teacher.  When Mr. Ziergebel marked my fictional piece with an A+ and told me “you sure can write,” my mind was forever altered.  It may have taken me almost 20 years later to gain the courage to actually share my writings with the world, but I know it never would have happened had my 9th grade English teacher not made me feel that kind of special.


lori sanbornLori Sanborn was born in Gloucester and returned to live permanently in our seaside community three years ago. She has been a public educator for 12 years, teaching eighth graders.  Lori is most proud of her role as mother to her children, Emerson and Ryder.

Shut Up and Dance

On Saturday, March 26, 2011 my life was transformed when a 6 lb 11 ounce princess joined my world. When the midwife first placed her in my arms, my daughter rested her tiny hand against my left cheek and stared at me with large, dark brown eyes accentuated by strikingly long lashes. Her look was intense and so attentive, qualities that would only grow deeper as the years passed. It has been almost five years since Emerson Belle was born and not a day goes by where I don’t try to live like “Emmy.”

To Emmy, every day is the best day of her life.  Every chocolate milk she tastes is “the most IMG_5886delicious one ever.”  Every dress she owns is, “the most beautiful gown in the world.” Every cartoon on t.v. is “the funniest show she has ever seen.” Emmy feels everything so deeply that something is not merely good, it’s, in her words, “unbelievable.” And the compliments that this kid dishes out can make you feel like a million bucks. She won’t just say you’re pretty, she will tell you that you’re the most gorgeous woman in the entire Universe.  But times are not always glorious on Granite Street.

When Emmy is upset, “it’s the worst day of her life.”  This comes with slamming doors and loud outbursts.  But her tantrums are short-lived and she emerges from her bedroom apologetic and loving. Emmy has taught me the value of pure and raw emotion. Being vulnerable enough to share your true feelings with another is a beautiful thing, yet it becomes so rare as we age.  Society tells us that mature adults must control their emotions. Adults must not get angry and certainly must not cry.  Adults that do such things are labeled as “emotional” and deemed weak.  Label me then. To share your genuine self makes an ordinary person extraordinary. Through Emmy, I have learned that feeling things so deeply simply means that you are living completely.

Not long after Emmy’s first birthday, I discovered that I was once again pregnant.  Thrilled, I did what most newly pregnant women do, I hit the computer. I found out my estimated due date and started scanning websites for potential names. All the while, I did not feel quite right. Looking back, all the signs of a miscarriage were there, but my optimistic nature refused to pay them any mind.  I was convinced that I was having a baby boy and that Blake Ashton would make his arrival on or around December 9th.  I had no reason to think otherwise because I had such a textbook pregnancy with Emmy. But this time, I was not so lucky. Just shy of two months, I would experience the loss that accompanies a miscarriage.

I was left devastated and full of questions. How could this happen? I thought I was healthy.  Did this mean I will have problems having another child? I wanted Emmy to have a sibling. I felt tremendous guilt and deep sadness all at the same time. Did I have the right to grieve this much when others have carried and lost a baby much later in pregnancy? And what about those women who have faced multiple miscarriages. I felt so alone and it was not until I met with a midwife of Essex County that my healing process would take shape. She listened to all of my fears and questions. She let me cry long and hard and then provided invaluable comfort and guidance with her words. A baby is real the second a woman finds out she is pregnant. Give yourself permission to grieve the loss of your baby.  Your body was healthy enough to reject an unhealthy pregnancy. You will conceive again when you are ready.  It took this loss for me to learn that it’s okay for adults to talk with other adults about what hurts and to even share fears. There are some great listeners out there. Through opening up to others, I learned that I was not alone. In fact, it is estimated that as many as 1 in 4 women experience this same heartache. Time and a shocking surprise helped me to move forward but not forget. Every first week in December I think about the loss I suffered but also pay respect to the Universe for the surprise she brought me.

Not long after that meeting with the midwife, Brandon and I learned that I was once again pregnant. This time around I felt awful, but a good kind of awful. My morning sickness lasted for six months and it didn’t stop at noon. I was nauseous 24 hours a day and I couldn’t be happier about it! It meant that my body was doing what it should, creating a new life. And what a life it would create.

Emerson Belle and Ryder Kai Sanborn

Emerson Belle and Ryder Kai Lewis

Ryder Kai entered the world on Saturday, January 26, 2013.  This 6 lbs and 6 ounce baby boy with blonde hair and blue eyes would grow into the coolest kid I have ever met. While I know my daughter like the back of my hand, my son still surprises me constantly. A boy who marches to the beat of his own drum. A very large drum. Ryder knows what he wants and he doesn’t care if everyone else wants something different. No one is changing Ryder’s mind when he sets it on something. He is that comfortable in his own skin. You can imagine the struggles we have faced when trying to convince him to eat something besides butternut squash or chocolate. Through Ryder I have learned how important it is to stay true to your genuine self and that spontaneity can be invigorating after adhering to a schedule dominated by routine.

Ryder is a fearless child who takes risks and has the scars on his chin to prove it. He lives hard and sleeps the same way. In a few weeks, Ryder will turn 3, yet he still naps like a infant, for 2-3 hours every day. Ryd savors mischief and easily finds it countless times in any given day. The kid who appreciates the bad guy. Sher Kan, Scar, and Shredder are among his favorites. My son loves to

Emmy and Ryder Kai Sanborn. Good Harbor Beach .

Emmy and Ryder Kai Lewis
Good Harbor Beach .

swear and I know his favorite song is Shut Up and Dance just because he thinks he’s getting away with saying something inappropriate. Ryder has taught me not to take life too seriously. He has

helped me worry less and lighten up, even when times are tough.  He has shown our family the importance of humor; no one can make us belly laugh quite like Ryder Kai.

It is true that there is no gift like a new baby. But the best gift of all are the lessons these babies teach us as they grow up.



lori sanbornLori Sanborn was born in Gloucester and returned to live permanently in our seaside community three years ago. She has been a public educator for 12 years, teaching eighth graders.  Lori is most proud of her role as mother to her children, Emerson and Ryder.

Hear Her Roar

Lori Sanborn

For the first twenty-five plus years of my life, I felt more connected to the male gender. Throughout my middle school, high school, and college years I had way more male friends than female ones. Of course, I had a few girls that I trusted and could tell anything to. And one or two, who I was really close to that I would even smoke Marlboros with and cut class. But overall, at these stages of my life, I felt more comfortable around males. I was even able more readily to

Nancy Sanborn (my Mom), Meagan Sanborn (sister) & me

Nancy Sanborn (my Mom), Meagan Sanborn (sister) & me

admire males over females. But then I turned thirty, and from that point on, my perspective had changed entirely.

During the last five years of my life, I have witnessed countless acts of unwavering courage and unbelievable strength from women in my circle of friends, women from our seaside community, and from one of the most important women in my life, my sister.

I have some badass girlfriends. Not because they ride Harleys or remain standing after pounding five shots of tequila. My friends endure. I have a friend who only cried once after being diagnosed with an aggressive type of breast cancer. When “cancer” entered my world, I was on the bathroom floor unable to move. Yet when recalling her story, she actually smiled and told me she “had two boys to raise and they needed her.” She never looked back but rather dedicated herself to being the best mother she could be. Did I mention that she was also a single mom? Badass.

Another girlfriend of mine had her world turned upside down upon hearing that her mother had been diagnosed with early onset Parkinson’s disease. Honestly, I would struggle to get out of bed if faced with such a circumstance. But in looking at my dear friend, one would never know of her struggle. She maintains a calmness and stick-to-itiveness that is admirable. She goes to work. She takes her mother to all of her doctor appointments, all while managing to hold down her own fort. She values her role as wife and mother. She doesn’t complain and is one of the most genuine women I know. Did I mention that she doesn’t drink? Badass.

Within our Gloucester community heroism is all around us. She is the woman that has the drive to start a new main street business and still raise four kids. She is the young woman that moves by herself to North Carolina to start anew.  She is the woman that can still believe in love after being lied to time and time again. She is the loyal wife of over 30 years. She is the woman that has the courage to file for divorce. She is the woman that can still raise a child after losing one.  She is the woman that can work more than one job to provide for her family. She is the woman that decides to follow her dream or face her fear.  She is the woman that runs for office. She is the woman that chooses to be a stay at home mom. She is the woman that has lost a spouse or sibling unexpectedly. She is the woman that faces a health scare of her own. She is the woman that ran the Boston Marathon. Did I mention that SHE doesn’t always roar?  Sometimes she just shows up, and that alone is enough. Badass.

My sister is one of those women who always shows up. No matter what time the hockey game is, no matter the hosting state, she is always in that rink for her sons.  And she’s probably there two hours ahead of time.  No matter how many times she has faced unfairness or less than desired

My sister, Meagan Sanborn and her son, Timmy

My sister, Meagan Sanborn and her son, Timmy

outcomes, she has pushed on. She never complains about being the sole provider, but rather has always found a way to provide. She always puts her boys first yet somehow finds a way to be there for her family and friends when they need her. She is the type of woman that shoots straight and knows just what you need and when you need it. Intuitively, she knows when to take you on a Backshore ride, grab her Macy’s card, or pour a big glass of wine. She is the woman that picked me up off that bathroom floor after I was misdiagnosed with lymphoma and spoke only this to me, “So, you’ll beat it.” She is the woman that hates hugs but can still make you feel loved and comforted.  Did I mention that she just closed on a new house for her and the boys? Badass.

It may have taken me thirty years to truly connect with the female gender. But in only five years “She” has taught me the real meaning of compassion, loyalty and above all, strength. Imagine what “She” will teach me in next twenty-five.

And this is not some feminist propaganda piece.  I could give you a thousand reasons why I love my Daddy.

~Lori Sanborn

lori sanborn

Lori Sanborn was born in Gloucester and returned to live permanently in our seaside community three years ago. She has been a public educator for 12 years, teaching eighth graders.  Lori is most proud of her role as mother to her children, Emerson and Ryder.