Cinderella

Last week I was in New York for work. Hurried one morning getting out of a taxi, my brand new, perfect, black patent leather pump fell out in the trunk… only me! I got to the meeting location to discover it was gone.

            Ok - reality check - no big deal - it’s a shoe! This September as hurricanes continue to hit the Caribbean, the South, Texas and earthquakes in Mexico - true tragedies everywhere. Then there are the words individuals hear everyday around the globe, “you have cancer”, “this is terminal”, “here are your odds”, “your child is sick, your spouse or partner, mother, father, sister, or brother.” Those moments in time where the loss hits you deep in your core - your soul. It may not be visible to the outer world like downed trees or flattened buildings, and yet it has shaken your foundation.

            So back the shoe - how could this stupid shoe relate at all to the true pain occurring in people’s lives? Well - I’ll tell you! I was determined to find that perfect black pump - to track it down from a New York City cab trunk. What were my odds of success? Lots of New Yorkers scoffed and said “Good Luck!” If it had been lost in an uber the odds would’ve increased, but this was the needle in the haystack situation!

            My mom used to say I was tenacious --- I am. So I called the 311 number on the taxi receipt. I got the cab company name and number, I called four times - no one picked up. Four messages regarding the story of the perfect –black- patent- leather pump - never worn ( I might’ve sounded crazy - I prefer to think I was a modern day Cinderella searching for her own shoe and not waiting around for Prince Charming!)

            And so….I finally got a call from the cab driver! He had my shoe - he dropped it off at the hotel I stay at and it’s on its merry way now to me in the mail!

            Be tenacious in fighting. Believe you will find a way to beat the odds. KNOW you have the fortitude to call and call and call to get answers. Don’t let the disease attack you or your loved one - attack it!

            How can you be more tenacious – more BOLD? 

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Posted on September 20, 2017 .

Full Moon

 I'm at the beach this week celebrating the end of the summer with my sisters. This has  become a tradition --it's our fourth year now. It's a wonderful way to end to end the season--or as my sister Candy would say "to punctuate" the summer!

Last night we had our  favorite splurge dinner, Thrasher's french fries(for the girls) and a vanilla dipped cone in chocolate for me! Pure decadence. It's the kind of thing you only want to do once a year. We enjoyed every bite, why not?

As we were sitting on the boardwalk people watching , I noticed a bunch of people taking pictures at the beach, standing on the benches clamoring to walk down closer to the water. I turned around and looked, and saw the most incredible orange moon. It was spectacular. It was one of those moments in life where you just have to pause and look up – – to recognize the beauty in our lives.

Sometimes it's hard, especially  when you're sick, or hurting, or in pain, or just plain too busy to  to see what's around you.  Last night standing on the beach, looking up at that magical orange moon – – by the way it was impossible to catch by a camera, I just couldn't get the color quite right --as if it didn't want it to be captured on camera and wanted to be frozen in your minds eye-- I thought about how so many things in our lives that cannot be captured by a word, a picture, an explanation, you just can't express what you've seen or how you felt. That's how the moon seemed  to me last night. So instead of attaching a picture of that moon, I'll let you imagine it, and will attach a picture of me enjoying that big, delicious ice cream cone.

What  moment, experience, feeling do you have in your life but it's just too hard to express to someone else? 

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Posted on September 8, 2017 .

Life Is Life

I’ve been thinking about this concept for years now. Life - it keeps coming, whether we like it or not - until it doesn’t. Life is unmapped territories, twists, turns, ups, downs. All the planning in the world can’t help you what’s really next.  We can’t see what’s around the corner, no matter how hard we try.

So what then? Give up if there’s no control? Throw your hands up?  No - it’s not giving up, it’s realizing you have is how you go THROUGH life. How you cope, deal with the crap, attack the disease, the heart ache, the losses.  That’s the solution.  Choose how you are going to go through it.

My dear Grandmother Ursie used to say, all I have to do in this life is pay taxes and die - I can be certain of those two things. She made me laugh. It is the truth. The death past isn’t a laughing matter and yet that is ____, we will all go - exit. Move on.

So today, is what we have. How do we conquer the diagnosis, the care giving, the pain? What are the choices if the other things are not mine to control?

Wondering why me? Why now? There is no answer to the question. It’s the wrong question. The read question is what now? How now?

 

Life is life - it’s joy, it’s sadness, it’s progress, it’s failure, it’s boredom and exhaustion, it’s pride and shame. It’s everything and sometimes, all at once.

 

The BIG question is how do you want(?) to do your LIFE - you chose 

Posted on August 31, 2017 .

Say Cheese! 

 

Today is my husband's birthday. Like many men, he is impossible to buy for. And yet there is one thing that always pleases– – a photo album. A good, old school, lowtech photo album.  I comment on the pictures, add bits and pieces;   Ski passes, hotel room keys, maps, airline tickets (he loves first class). Not exactly scrapbooking, but not too far from it! 

  I can't say why he loves these so much. Maybe it's because I put the time, effort, and thought into making them just for him. Maybe he is sentimental underneath all the bravado? Having our adventures documented physically and tangibly  makes a difference to him. 

 I had a funny conversation with the guy the photo kiosk last week, he was making prints for his wife. We talked about how people really don't do this anymore, now that everything is digital.

What is it about real photos? I think my brother-in-law Stan knows the answer--/he's our family photographer. Always with the camera, bugging the crap out of everyone, yet everyone loves the product.  Stan has documented our lives, our celebration---the birthdays, holidays, weddings and even sweet summer nights like last night.

He took Gordon and I to a Nationals baseball game for Gordon's birthday.  It was perfect evening .  No DC humidity, Predident's club table at the rail and a fantastic game (Even I paid attention!)   And, of course, Stan took pictures of us! And the pictures we have now are wonderful....capturing a moment, a combination of people, a celebration that will never happen . I guess that's it, pictures freeze frame an instant that will never reoccur never be replicated....a special slice of time.

What's your favorite photograph?

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Posted on August 14, 2017 .

Take a deep breath

 

It feels so good to take a deep breath, take a few. Let the air in through your nose and travel through your body, let it fill you up and exhale --- let it go.

I just started back to yoga; I had been away from it since my mom died twelve years ago. I used to be faithful. Every Tuesday at noon for over ten years with the yogi Judith Light (isn’t that a lovely name?).  My dear friend ---a sister of the heart- … went with me. And then when mom died I looked at her sedentary lifestyle and started running.  Running feels so good---and yet it is as different from yoga as can be.

So I’m back after a long time, and it feels delicious. I love grounding my feet to the Earth, thinking purposely of the placement of each part of my body and focusing on my breath. A function that is so truly automatic. We forget how core it is to life.

           

No matter where you are in your process with your illness, just diagnosed, or knee deep in it with surgery and treatment---or now living as a survivor---- remember to take a deep breath-

You are alive.

You are here.

You are strong.

You are beautiful.

YOU CAN DO THIS!!!

 

How do you practice being present?  Being grounded?  Being centered?

 

 

Posted on August 8, 2017 .

Look up!

Life passes so quickly.  So much to do.  So many meetings, appointments, responsibilities, chores...you know exactly what I mean.  Sometimes I forget to be present, to be aware to go more gently in my day.  

I was out out walking Max(my darling golden doodle puppy) today.  We were on our regular route.   Several blocks down, hang a right, another right and walk along with bike path named the Green Way.  Today, I happened to look up.   I saw this magnificent, old tree.  I'm sure if was over 100 years old   Huge trunk that split into three large offshoots.  Majestic.  I had to stop, relish in the sturdiness of it, the grounding of it, the leaves backlit by the sun.  

What kind of rush have I been in before on this walk?   Where was my focus?  How could I miss this beautiful site in my own sphere?    

Nite to self, "LOOK UP!"   See the beauty.  Remember life is happening all around us, we just need to see it. What do you see when you look up? 

Posted on July 30, 2017 .

Swimming in the Rain

Healing time, we all need it. A place to BE, to relax, to rejuvenate, turn the mind OFF. Four years ago, after I finished radiation, I needed a place to go and let myself settle after CANCER. My husband found a small place in Jamaica, The Jamaica Inn.  A little slice of heaven, a place where there are two TV’s and not much to do. The staff welcomes you home and it’s as if the rest of the world floats away. That’s how it feels.

 We’ve been three times now. We missed last year because of my sister’s stroke. Such a hard year – So much grief, loss, unknowing. Coming back here this year feels like returning to our life – a life where we can be happy to be alive – to take joy in our minds and bodies.

Our last day – it poured buckets. It started while we were on the beach, a torrential downpour. We were still having lunch under our palapas.  We had a decision to make – wait it out on the beach, go in to our room…. or what? What else?

A Venezuelan family ran for the water – laughing, squealing with joy – we made a choice to run, now, fast into the water. Five of us out there now, not hunkered down in the shelter – laughing swirling, putting our faces up to the rain. It was delicious – juicy – perfect. All these beautiful drops perfectly peppering the sea. 

My last swim – I floated looking at the sky – happy to be whole and alive, I made snow angel movements in the water, I prayed, I was grateful.

Choices – What can you do about the rain? It comes with or without our consent. It comes when we don’t want it to during our beautiful lives –

So what we choose to do with the rain is what matters most. 

Posted on June 14, 2017 .

Catch and Release

I don't fish, don't want to fish, don't think I would enjoy fishing, and yet I work up this morning with this phrase in my head.  I started thinking about it, what would it mean to catch and release.  It struck me that it's a polarity.  Something you have to hold both poles of.  I'd imagine these fisherman enjoy the solitude, the planning, the right flies, and yet with all of this, they don't want or kill or do harm.  So they catch and release.

Barry Johnson, who wrote Polarity Management, frames a polarity as a problem that will not be solved because you have to hold both things.  They need each other.  I was at a party this weekend and a friend who is a lung cancer survivor asked me about how I live life post-cancer.  How do I handle the anxiety of the next mammogram, breast cancer exam, MRI.  I thought a lot about this.  It's a polarity, one where I have to be aware and another where I have to be free from fear.

Aware.  I have to keep up appointments-- oncologist, radiologist, surgeon. Maintain my health, take my medications, do my monthly breast checks.  I can't be ignorant to the fact that I have had CANCER, the big C, and yet I have to be free from the fear, the worry, the knowing it might come back. I have to live my life, enjoy my health, accept that I have the tools to handle it if it comes back.  I know that I have the strength and courage, the support system, doctor's who can get me through it - no matter the outcome. So aware and free.

Other polarities in my life right now have to do with a sister who is now disabled. Of course these polarities probably also exist for those facing major diseases, impairments, injuries. The polarities are:

  • Control and openness
  • Detached and involved
  • Firm and loving

Very hard polarities to manage. They can not be solved. How much do you step in when judgment has been impaired? How much do you let go and know mistakes will be made? How firm are you about rights and wrongs and when do you need to be loving and compassionate? When is it time to detach and when is your involvement necessary?

Maybe you have an elderly parent right now or even a teenager. These polarities are part of our lives, sick or healthy, we can not SOLVE them - how scary is that? So we must manage them, know the warning signs of when they've tipped too far on one side or the other.  Trust we are capable to deal and cope.

What polarities are you facing right now? How do you hold both?

Posted on March 28, 2017 .

My New Friend, Patience

“Where have you been for eight months?” I’m sure some of you may be asking….actually, I’ve been wondering the answer to that question myself!

My oldest sister had a massive right brain stroke at the end of May.  A horrible, terrible stroke-I thought cancer sucked (don’t get me wrong- it does), but her stroke has given me a new perspective on my health.

Eight months ago, the thought of my calendar, schedule, work, to-do list, and throw in my daughter’s wedding In September filled my busy life. SO much to do in so little time…and then this.

The last I heard from Becky was on Saturday night, May 21st. A picture was sent on our family ‘What’s App.’ She had been sailing that day- such a glorious, happy, sun-filled picture. She was in her element…and then nothing. Radio silence.  Calling and texting her- nothing. We began to worry by the end of Sunday night. By Monday morning, my other sister and I were very concerned.  I called a friend of hers who found another friend to go look at her house. Becky was there and had been on the floor for almost 2 days.

What did we do? My other sister and I left our lives, ones that felt so full, busy, scheduled & committed and dumped everything for a month to go to California. (A crisis does this). It gives a completely different lens on life. What once seemed important was no longer the most important thing in life.

That month seems like a time out of place. A blur, surreal, indescribable in what was endured, accomplished and overcome. Who knew you could return a new Lexus to the dealer?…(that’s a story for another time…).

Many days I felt myself hovering over the situation, watching the pain and the exhaustion. Observing the dynamics- truly, you can’t take the coach consultant out of me- Side note; I even wrote a family orientation program for the acute rehab center she was in for two weeks- I couldn’t resist! They needed it so much, I couldn’t help myself.

Those days were littered with the tiniest of achievements. My sister feeling the sense of touch on her left leg and arm, turning her head to the left and finally swallowing and eating after 4 weeks.

Yes, my new friend patience. We’ve become very close.  Some days (like yesterday), Patience must have been out of town. I even had a good old fashioned scream out loud…It felt SO good- a release. Hopefully Patience heard wherever she trotted off to and will come back to hang out with soon. I need her now more than ever…

Posted on February 15, 2017 .

Too-da-loo 2016!

OK is that even how you spell too-da-loo?  Handwriting my blog doesn’t afford me the opportunity for spell check, so I can’t be sure.  Does anyone, besides me, even say too-da-loo anymore?  I guess I could’ve said goodbye, farewell, auf wiedersehen, adieu, but none of those had certain flair, a certain joie de vivre.  So too-da-loo 2016 it is!

Last day of the year, and much to look at.  First of all, I am only one day away from the end of my annual one-mile-a-day challenge. It starts Thanksgiving and goes until New Year’s Day.  My dear friend, colleague and cancer supporter, Tanya, got me going on this about three years ago.  When she proposed the idea, it seemed easy, run one mile a day over the holidays.  No big whoop.  For people who exercise ever day, maybe not.  For those of us who are 3-4 times a week people, it takes a real commitment.  The most amazing part of it is setting the goal and staying committed no matter what.  This year included freezing rain, night runs (which are so fun because I see all the Christmas lights in the neighborhood!), a fast walk in the airport terminal (I figure a mile any way you get it counts) and I’ve even slept in my workout clothes for an early morning run-true.  Point being, it’s not the mile it’s the goal.  Setting a fixed vision in the mind’s eye and finding how obstacles get pushed aside when you are determined to achieve it.  By New Year’s Day, I feel good about my self, healthy, and have a great boost to my spirit!

Visions, goals, dream are all so important.  They impact the part of our brain called the reticular activator.  It sorts for us, allows things to come in to hyper-focus.  The reticular activator opens your eyes to possibilities that enable you to reach your goal.  You will see fresh, creative ways to overcome, meet people out of the blue to support you, receive strange, little boosts that seem to guide, encourage, nudge you all on the right path to achieve your vision.  Awareness and focus on generating success is at the forefront of your brain!  Try it if you don’t believe me.  Google it if you are a skeptic.

In 2016 a couple of other incredible visions were realized…my daughter’s epic, perfect, gorgeous wedding, my business model transforming and my sister walking after months of physical therapy (post-stroke).  Becky is a role model of strength, tenacity, endurance and human spirit.  She told one of my nephews in the summer, said it OUT LOUD, “I WILL dance at Stephanie’s wedding!” and she did.  She danced and jiggled her heart out to four songs.  She can go up and down stairs now, she’s gotten some movement in her left shoulder and hand, and in 2017 she is starting more rigorous therapy at Walter Reed and Virginia Hospital Center.  She is setting new goals for her self.  I’ve seen how goals focus her, give her hope and renewed determination.

We all get crap handed to us in life, or maybe not crap, just stuff.  Stuff that changes us, our course, our relationships, our abilities---we can’t necessarily change the stuff; what we can affect is what we choose to do with the stuff.  What choices will we make to endure, overcome, succeed, and flourish in spite of the stuff?

This year I don’t have a resolution, I have TWO WORDS, keys to happiness-

SAVOR AND GRATEFUL

This is how I want to BE in 2017, each day to relish in what I have, what I am able to do, the love I can give and receive and know that each day has hidden moments, joys, shiny pennies, if only I look for them.

What are your two words for 2017?  How do you want to be in this new year of your life? What describes the way you want to walk, skip, saunter through your next 365 days?

Name it. Claim it. Own it. DO IT!

 

Posted on December 31, 2016 .