Untie the Pink Ribbons

ribbon

“Life is a gift.

We just have to remember

to untie the ribbons.”
 – Unknown

 

I was diagnosed on New Year’s Eve of 2001 with breast cancer.  I heralded in 2002 with trepidation, stark fear and a sickening feeling in my stomach as I faced the unknown future.  Due to that diagnosis, I have survived more than 10 surgeries with one more in the future.  I have endured 6 months of chemotherapy, 6 weeks of daily radiation, countless tests and visits to specialists, excruciating pain, sleepless nights, days when my brain just didn’t seem to work, losing my hair, my breasts, my confidence and my life as I knew it.  I have residual problems, testing every 6 months due to complications and I’m never quite far away from that original diagnosis although to meet me you may never know what I’ve endured.

But I’m still here, untying the gift of today…everyday.

It’s a choice my friends.  No matter what you are facing and believe me, I’ve faced so much in my life and not just cancer, it’s a choice to greet the dawn with enthusiasm, patience, love and kindness in your heart.  It’s a choice to think, “Oh God, it’s morning” and groan or to say it with enthusiasm for the gift of today that is yours.  After any illness, tragedy, or hard times, there’s a transitional period to find your new normal.  It will go a lot easier and faster for you if you lean into the idea that change is inevitable and it can be good.

Don’t mistake me, I can still get plenty mad about having breast cancer.  I can stomp my feet with the rest of the marchers and be angry that parts of my life have been taken from me.  I can look at my scarred body with hatred for what has occurred.  However, I choose to look at it with love for having endured so much pain and still be able to house my soul, my heart and my mind.  Sure, there are days when I lament the loss of my figure as it was before cancer and sure, I look at the scars and see the pain, the heartache and feel that I am not  beautiful.

But…I can also look and see how my body has healed herself with my help.  I see how my mind, body and spirit have connected, joined forces, so that the superficiality of life has fallen gently by the wayside and I am freed from conventionality.  I hold dear the knowledge that I find beauty in another soul’s eyes and spirit and pray that there are others out there who feel the same way.

We hold the power to untie those pink ribbons and find beauty, love, light and health in our own lives.  The diagnosis and subsequent treatments hold a turning point in my life.  I cannot say that I am happy I had this illness.  But I will say that I have grown in my own strength, love and health because of it.  I am a different person because I have endured so much and I am grateful for what I have learned about myself.  I found inner strength that I never knew I possessed.  I embrace my spirituality more tenderly than before and I hope that if you are on this journey of breast cancer, that you find peace, love, health and light within you to guide you as we find ourselves on this journey of light.

Shine On!

xo

It Is What It Is

 

tolle11

“What could be more futile, more insane, than to create inner resistance to something that already is?” ~ Eckhart Tolle

The above came in my email this morning and I felt that it needed to be shared.  Too many times, we resist change whether it be something small like dinner plans or something big like illness, bankruptcy, death or the end of a relationship.  We turn our heads without facing the truth of the matter.  We turn away from what’s right in front of us, pleading that it goes away and leaves us alone.  We beg for things to stay the same or to change the way we wish, but not necessarily where it’s headed.  Some may try to make deals with God or others in order to not have to change.  They fight it, refusing to see, burying heads in the proverbial sand and not accepting what is.

I dislike the quote, “it is what it is” for it leaves me feeling bitter.  I don’t know, why but it does.  It’s like there’s nothing left.  There’s a lack.  There are no choices, it just is and that’s what gets me every time.  Because I see that there are choices ~ choices in how we view and deal with changes and events that we didn’t choose.

Lately I’ve been through some tough changes.  At first I thought I’d try to fight the changes with the bravery of a hellcat.  Then I released the resistance to the changes.   It doesn’t serve me to be angry, resentful nor unforgiving.  However, it serves me to treat others with kindness, love and patience.  I know not where this change will lead me, but I am choosing how I deal with it in my life.

We all have choices.

Our life is our responsibility.

We can choose how we change.

I’m not saying that I haven’t been angry for the changes that have been thrust into my life.  I am not a Pollyanna either.  But after great pondering and soul searching, I choose different words to see how the changes will affect me.  I consistently rebuff the words lack and losing and choose opening up and freedom.  I have gone deep within my mind, soul and heart to change how I am dealing with this change and I hope that I can be a role model in how I’m dealing with all that’s occurring.

For we need to find peace, happiness and love in our hearts in order to stay healthy.  Forgive but perhaps not forget as we move along this path of life.  The quote, “change is inevitable” is another one which I dislike, only because I feel that heaviness inside when someone uses that phrase.  Instead, I feel that change is the opportunity to grow, to think outside the plans we had for our lives and to move forward in a way that was unseen before now.  It is a freedom of sorts I think.  It takes away limits that we had previously held onto and allows choices that we had forgotten about to emerge.

It’s not easy sailing into unknown waters in life.  Of that, I’m certain.  There are storms and upheavals but there is also smooth sailing on clear days.  Sometimes the wind takes us to places that we never knew existed and if we hadn’t endured the painful changes, we might never be where we end up.  So my advice to you is to ‘go with the flow’ and allow the Universe to guide your loving, forgiving heart.  Allow others to be themselves and accept changes so that you can change too.

Be kind to yourselves every day.

Shine On!

xo

I’ve met some soul mates…

soulmate

“People think a soul mate is your perfect fit, and that’s what everyone wants. But a true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that is holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life… A true soul mate is probably the most important person you’ll ever meet, because they tear down your walls and smack you awake. But to live with a soul mate forever? Nah. Too painful. Soul mates, they come into your life just to reveal another layer of yourself to you, and then leave.

A soul mates purpose is to shake you up, tear apart your ego a little bit, show you your obstacles and addictions, break your heart open so new light can get in, make you so desperate and out of control that you have to transform your life, then introduce you to your spiritual master…”  ~ Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love

I liked this and I am including the quote in its entirety for I hope that it will resonate for you as well.  I want to HEARTily thank my soul mates (you know who you are ~ at least I hope you do) for changing my life for the better.  For showing me the path I resist and for taking my hand when I fall down.

I am blessed to have the gift of a few soul mates who change my life simply by being themselves.  I am truly grateful for all of you.

Shine On!

xo

Feeling Defeated?

defeated

“Being defeated is often temporary,

giving up makes it permanent.”

- Marilyn von Savant

I have had many challenges in my life as have we all.  Few of us here on Earth have remained unscathed by disappointments and moments of feeling defeated in one way or another.  So it comes as no surprise that we need to find a way through the sadness and often raw painful feelings of defeat.  Sometimes, try as we might to not quit, situations are out of our control and we are powerless to stop the journey.  It is then, at that precise moment, when we need to decide our fate.  It is in our hands, this is our life and we ultimately remain in control.  It remains our choice in how we deal with whatever ‘it’ is in our lives that is not working as we wish.

But to give up, to quit, to not work at what ‘it’ is to improve the situation, that makes it permanent.  I am not a quitter.  No matter what life has thrown at me, I have gotten up and gone on, many times taking baby steps in the process for I had no other way.  But it is innate in me ~ to see the sunshine through the rain and to look for the rainbow through the clouds.  I know not where my strength comes from, but it is within me ~ as real as my eyes are blue.  I cannot be anyone but me and you cannot be anyone but you.

Sure we can change when ‘it’ arrives whether stealthily on little cat feet or as thunderously striking lightning.  It is a choice to fall to pieces and pick them up or to remain broken permanently in defeat.  What I have learned is this is YOUR LIFE to choose as you wish and you must continue to change and evolve as life goes on.  We grow through our defeats, we gain perspective, strength and peace by enduring ‘it’ and I believe that is the journey of life.

Continuing on with peace, love and happiness in our hearts not only heals ourselves, but others as well.  It does not serve us to remain angry and resentful when we endure ‘it’ and remain defeated.  It locks up the heart and soul which simply want to shine.  I know it is hard when we feel defeated.  Many times, through breast cancer, through relationships and through disappointments and family troubles, I have know defeat.  But I know that this too shall pass.  Life will go on and I plan on being there every baby step of the way.

So if you are feeling defeated, take a moment to assess ‘it’ and find the gift in the defeat.  Growth, strength and love come from ‘it’ and you will find that what you endure now will give you gifts you couldn’t possibly imagine in the future.  Let’s connect, hearts and hands as we baby step on this path ~ hold each other up with respectful kindness and loving hearts.

Love is an ability that needs practice.  Self-love is the key and you hold that special key right now.  Isn’t it time to unlock your heart and soul and live again?

Shine On!

xo

Who’s Writing Your Life Story?

pen

“When writing the story of your life,

don’t let anyone else hold the pen.” ~ Unknown

You are the author of your own life story.  It is YOU who holds the pen and the key and the power of choice.  For all of those who feel helpless (and I’ve been there) and unable to move forward to do what you want, to get what you deserve and to find peace and happiness in your life ~ now’s your chance to take back your power of the pen in your own life.

When I say, ‘take back your power,’ I am not meaning it in a bad way or a way in which you hurt others around you.  Oh no, far from that.  What I mean is that you take back the power of making your own good choices,  owning your inner strength, doing/being what increases your happiness, facing your responsibility to yourself and to others for whom you are responsible and for simply, lovingly picking up the pen to write your own life story.

You are not a prisoner in this life, but you can very well be your own jailer.

Too often we allow others the power in our lives; we let them make the decisions for how we will live.  Sometimes it’s out of fear or laziness, but carelessly tossing the power of living your life to the best of your ability is a mistake.  However, it is a mistake for which there’s an eraser that can change what happens from this moment forward.  You must be courageous though, you may not act with fear in your heart.  Instead be fearless, be loving, be kind, walk with truth, honesty and integrity.  See your world spherically and not linearly.  Look around at all you can be grateful for and then bless those gifts.  You have the presents of presence today and always.  Now let’s plan a life that you enjoy living.

What makes you happy?  What makes you sad?  What do you wish you could do?  What are your dreams?  What do you not want in your life?  What do you want more of and less of in your amazing life?  These are questions that take time to answer and you need to allow that time to let those questions sink into your mind and body.  Let them settle in a bit and find peace before answering.  Then allow your pen to write the answers down without questioning, without monitoring, without judging.  Let a free flowing pen ink your dreams and desires.  Whatever you see and want, you can achieve if you believe.

So believe that this is your special life.  Don’t throw your power away!  Use it, pick up your pen and write your best life’s story because you can!  This is your life my dears!  Go enjoy it!

Shine On!

xo

The More You Know…

forgiveness

“The more a man knows, the more he forgives.”
~ Empress Catherine the Great

We all have a story in our heads about our lives.  Past hurts, triumphs and emotions mesh into our psyche, nestling in like the hibernating squirrels in the trees in Winter.  The challenge is to push forward out of our own minds to see what’s out there beyond our vision and to see relationships as they truly are and not how we perceive them.  It is momentous to look beyond our own limits and to actually see the world around us, to acknowledge faults and goodness, to take stock of our lives and the path which we are treading.  At any moment we can choose to change course, turn around, veer to the left or right or simply walk into the woods.  That is the beauty of free will that we have been given in this life.  There is nothing in stone that says we need to stay cemented on the path we have chosen.  It is only our reluctance to see beyond the walls we have erected, the stories we have embellished and the situation that we encounter.  To expand our vision, we must reach out of the box which we have allowed to imprison our minds and to look around at all which spherically encompasses us.  To be sure, this is not a linear life we’ve been given.

It is not an easy choice for some and I understand.  To see beyond ourselves is an emotional and sometimes tumultuous task for it causes us to look honestly at our faults and goodness ~ to accept and to forgive ourselves and others.  But once we open our eyes to truth, we can move on and see the world in a different light.  That is the beauty of knowledge and forgiveness.

Eyes, heart, mind and soul opened allows healing when we are hurting.  To stay blind to our lives is only to perpetuate the grief, the hurts and the sadness.  To embrace all that we have endured, to take ownership of our lives is to start on the path of healing.  But it takes a willingness to listen with an open heart and not a stony one.  It takes softening, caring and wanting to change the path we are on and not be simply a traveler without voice.

This is your life.  This is my life.  Together we can immerse ourselves in a loving embrace or we can take separate paths to happiness.  It is a choice made together or apart.  But each has their own choice, their own reality and their own willingness to not quit.  I choose to see life in a spherical way ~ listening, learning, thinking, feeling and forgiving.  It is a choice I make daily, sometimes I find I need to make that choice many times a day.  But I do it because it is worth it to me to be present every moment of every day that I am here.

Life is about changing, growing and releasing what doesn’t serve us.  Go forward on your path with love in your heart, forgiveness in your mind and blessings on your soul.

Shine On!

xo

Pink Post Gratitude to Lisa Boncheck Adams

Every person has a story. So, too, does each chair.

IMG_7739There is comfort in routine.

Some people are superstitious. Sometimes they want the same chemo nurse, the same appointment time, the same chair. “If it is working don’t mess with it” applies to many things about treating cancer.

I am always thinking about continuity and the stories that objects tell. I’ve written twice about the tape measure my plastic surgeon used to measure me before surgery. I’ll post those pieces again this month.

Whenever I sit in a chair in a doctor’s office I think about all of the people who have sat in that chair before I have.

Each person has a story. So, too, does each chair. That chair is the starting point for this piece from 2011.

………………………….

“I think so too”

That chair you’re sitting in?
I’ve sat in it too.
In waiting rooms. Chemo rooms. Prep rooms. For tests. Surgeries. Procedures. Radiation. Inpatient. Outpatient. Emergency visits. Routine visits. Urgent visits. To see generalists. Specialists. Surgeons. Alone. With friends. With family members. As a new patient. Established patient. Good news. Bad news. I’ve left with new scars. Prescriptions. Appointments. Words of wisdom. Theories. Guesses. Opinions. Statistics. Charts. Plans. Tests. Words of assurance. More bloodwork. Nothing new. Nothing gained. Nothing but a bill.

That feeling you’re having?
I’ve had it too.
Shock. Disbelief. Denial. Grief. Anger. Frustration. Numbness. Sadness. Resignation. Confusion. Consternation. Curiosity. Determination. Dread. Anxiety. Guilt. Regret. Loss. Pain. Emptiness. Embarrassment. Shame. Loneliness.

That day you’re dreading?
I’ve dreaded it too.
The first time you speak the words, “I have cancer.” The first time you hear “Mommy has cancer.” Anniversary day. Chemo day. Surgery day. PET scan day. Decision day. Baldness day. The day the options run out.

Those reactions you’re getting?
I’ve had them too.
Stares. Questions. Pity. Blank looks. Insensitivity. Jaw-dropping comments. Tears. Avoidance.

Those side effects you dread?
I’ve dreaded them too.
Nausea. Vomiting. Pain. Broken bones. Weakened heart. Baldness. Hair loss. Everywhere. Unrelenting runny nose. Fatigue. Depression. Hot flashes. Insomnia. Night sweats. Migraines. Loss of appetite. Loss of libido. Loss of breasts. Phantom pain. Infection. Fluid accumulation. Bone pain. Neuropathy. Numbness. Joint pain. Taste changes. Weight gain. Weight loss. Mouth sores. Fevers. Anemia.

That embarrassment you’re feeling?
I’ve felt it too.
Buying a swimsuit. Getting a tight-fitting shirt stuck on my body in the dressing room. Having a child say “You don’t have any eyebrows, do you?” Asking the grocery line folks to “make the bags light, please.” Wearing a scarf. Day after day. Wondering about wearing a wig because it’s windy outside and it might not stay on. Holding on to the bannister for dear life. Passing out in public.

That fear you’re suppressing?
I’ve squelched it too.
Will this kill me? When? How bad is chemo going to be? How am I going to manage 3 kids and get through it? Will my cancer come back and take me away from my life? Will it make the quality of life I have left so bad I won’t want to be here anymore? Is this pain in my back a recurrence? Do I need to call a doctor? What is worse: the disease or the treatment?

That day you’re yearning for?
I’ve celebrated it too.
“Your counts are good” day. “Your x-ray is clear” day. “Now you can go longer between appointments” day. “See you in a year” day. First-sign-of-hair day. First-day-without-covering-your-head day. First taste of food day. First Monday chemo-isn’t-in-the-calendar day. Expanders-out, implants-in day. First walk-without-being-tired day. First game-of-catch-with-the-kids day. First day out for lunch with friends day. First haircut day. “Hey, I went a whole day without thinking about cancer” day. “Someone asked me how I’m doing, I said ‘fine’ and I meant it” day.

That hope you have?

I have it too:
More research. Easier access. Targeted therapy. Effective treatments. Better quality of life. More options. Longer life. Less toxicity. Fewer guesses.

Ultimately, someday, for my children or grandchildren perhaps: a cure.

Don’t you think that would be amazing?
I think so too.

** I am so moved by Lisa’s story and this post that I had to share ~ thanks for reading.  I think it makes no difference whether you are fighting breast cancer like we have or any other illness.  We can bond together to heal…that’s the most important piece of the puzzle.

Shine On!

xo