Posted in cancer, faith, God, Grace, help, loss, prayer, soul, Thanksgiving

Death Comes For All

I don’t imagine this will be my most popular topic to write about but when you are told that yours may be imminent, it has been cause for me to explore the topic.  It is said that we are born to die.  And it is true, nobody gets out of this life alive.  Even Jesus had to experience physical death before eternal life.

In this day and age we have distanced ourselves from the concept of death.  We have hospice and funeral homes.  But just a century ago, most people died in their own homes, surrounded by family members and death was observed by families, up close and personal.  This is not the case today.  It was also something that many cultures embraced and prepared for.  Whereas, in today’s  society where we avoid the subject or reality of it, at all costs.  I am not saying that I am racing to the grave but I have made a bit of a study of it.

In many cultures or beliefs there is a bit of a ceremony at the time of transition.  Drums are beat, chants are made, music is played.  Here is the US, the priest or pastor is called at times and the last rites are said etc.  But what is all this about?  Is it for the departing soul or for the remaining family?  If you die alone, does it make an eternal difference to the dying?  Many of the dying wait until they are alone to slip away.  They find it difficult to do when surrounded by family and wait and quietly slip away when someone steps away for just a moment.  It’s as if they cling to life while surrounded by family but find it easier to depart when no one is around.  I have heard of this happening many times.

My very first experience with death came when I was 8 years old.  My young and beautiful step sister was dying of brain cancer.  I was very young when the reality that children die too, was thrust upon me.  It was sad and difficult watching a child I played with and cared for, die a slow and agonizing death.  And I am struck with my own cancer in my brain and my gamma knife success, how different it may have been if she had been diagnosed in today’s medical age.

My next death experience came when I had just graduated high school and my great grandmother (who had survived breast cancer in the 1940’s) was dying of leukemia. After graduation, I went to live with my grandparents once again and helped with meals and laundry while Nana took care of Nanny until she drew her last breath.  Nanny was surrounded by loved ones and in her own bed when she died.  The coroner was called, they came and took Nanny away and we had a traditional funeral service for her.

Then came the death of my second husband’s sister.  She drank herself to death.  She had been told where her drinking was taking her but she did not heed the warning and drank herself into full blown liver failure.  I remember being mad about this death it seemed so senseless at the time and she left behind 2 teenagers and a husband.  I later found out about some trauma that must have scarred her on a very deep level that she hid and it most likely ate her alive.  She died in the hospital and was not in her right mind as the toxins (from a failed liver) built up in her system.  It was very sad to watch, especially knowing that she had done this to herself.

Since my breast cancer experience, I have witnessed many folks on their deathbed.  I am a witness to their passing.  I am OK with being there.  I have had very deep conversations with folks who are passing over and I have had a glimpse of what comes after.  There is an after.  This life that we see and experience is not all there is.  Souls (mine and yours) live on beyond the relinquishment of the physical body.  The essence of who we are goes on.  It does not matter what you believe happens after that……know this, you will continue to exist.  The love you expressed, the people you helped, the kindness you showed matters.

Take some time out of your life to figure your next stop.  It always amazes me at how much time is spent preparing for things that MIGHT happen and so little time is spent on what is definitely going to happen, at some point.  Death comes for us ALL, no exception.  What are you doing to prepare for yours??

Microsoft Word - heaven.docx

 

Posted in cancer, faith, friend, God, Grace, gratitude, hapiness, healing, heart, help, Love, prayer, soul, Thanksgiving

Living From the Heart

Living from the heart.  What does this mean?  Another expression “living wholeheartedly.”  I love Brene Brown, she has done several great works on this subject of living wholeheartedly and authentically.  But what does it look like, this wholehearted living?

I will try to flesh this out in the way that I have been working on.  The Word courage actually has at the root of it “Heart”.  Middle English (denoting the heart, as the seat of feelings): from Old French corage, from Latin cor ‘heart.’  So we know that courage takes heart.  It has meant for me to moving forward despite the way I am feeling.  Courage does not mean that I am not afraid but that I continue on my path despite my fears.

The bible tells us that “perfect love casts out fear” 1John 4;18.  So, it is impossible to experience love when we are in a state of fear.  Courage is an act of faith, to move forward despite our fears.  It takes courage and faith to believe you are not dying of cancer when the doctors tell you that you have six months to live.

Much of this courage begins with thought and intention.  Humans are the only created being that have the ability to observe thought.  That means we can think about what we are thinking about.  We also have the ability to police those thoughts.

When I was first told I had six months to live, I sat one day and made a list of every negative, fatalistic thought that I had.  I memorized it and place it before myself so any time I had one of those thoughts, I recognized it and chased it from my mind.  I replaced it with prayers and healing intentions for myself.  This went on hundreds of times a day, in the beginning.  In time, I found I had less and less of those thoughts to chase.

I spend nearly a half and hour a day when I am in a dreamy state before I get up and and I do my work.  My true work.  I pray and meditate on my good health and healing intentions for my body.  I chase fear, I invite in love and light and express extreme gratitude for another day.  This time I spend is extremely important and it helps me to be fortified from within before I begin my day.  I am not in a particular position but I do practice breathing and listening to my breath.

In this state I envision and experience health with my thoughts and my emotions.  I express my gratitude for the simplest things: my body, my mind, my family, my husband, children, food, shelter.  I ask for nothing just gratitude for what I have.  I experience joy and contentment.  Here and now.

Living from the heart is rare.  People often say I am brave, if that means being authentic and genuine then yes, I am brave.  I guess I put a lot “out there” and express openly what others would not.  At times it does feel risky but it is mostly out of an attempt to help  someone who may be in a dark and fearful place.  To give them hope and potentially show them a way out.  I have been in dark places myself and I know how scary it can be to be alone with bad thoughts and intentions towards myself.  I spent many years there.  But those years have given me much compassion and understanding.

Living from the heart is healthy.  I believe it is what we were created to do.  To experience love and express love freely.  It is mainly negative experiences that cause us to wall ourselves off.  And with some folks who have proven themselves to be untrustworthy with our hearts, it is right to do.  I was not created to be anyone’s doormat.  Neither were you.  But I was created to be a welcome mat and there is a HUGE difference!!

I will share one of my favorite talks here:

 

Posted in cancer, God, gratitude, hapiness, Post Cancer, Survival, Thanksgiving, volunteerism

New Year and a New Adventure

As 2013 dawns, I embark on a new and exciting adventure. For the past nearly 3 years, I have worked at SCB Marketing and love it. I interviewed and got the job within weeks of finishing my cancer treatment. Jeff and Josh hired me in 2010 and I will always be grateful for the opportunity to serve Brevard County in such a positive way. I have absolutely loved the work and the people.
Within the past year, it has become apparent to me and nearly everyone around me that I have a real fire in my belly to serve the cancer community. I have found my true passion is in that arena. I love making a difference for people who are facing one of life’s greatest challenges. It does not matter whether I am facilitating a support group or speaking and raising money, it all is incredibly gratifying and something I must do.
Within the next month I will be transitioning from SCB to assume my new position as Marketing & Communication Director for Space Coast Cancer Center and Space Coast Cancer Foundation and I could not be more thrilled.
I will be working with one of my personal heroes Dr. Richard Levine and his partners. We will be working on initiatives to improve the quality of care and resources for cancer patients.
I covet your prayers and support as I assume this new role. And I would be remiss if I did not publicly thank God for this wonderful opportunity. God is good all the time!! WOW!!!!

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Posted in God, grief, loss, Uncategorized

New reflections on loss

I just got an email from a friend who just lost her 24-year-old son, in his sleep yesterday. Her pain is incomprehensible. My pain for her is immense. Having a 23-year-old son myself, living in Pennsylvania, it caused me to check his Facebook page. I immediately checked on all my kids to make sure that they were safe. I quickly wrote a note on Taylor’s wall to say that I love him. This is the second May in a row where a Mom I know of  has lost their only child (son). They have been taken suddenly at the same juncture of their young life.  Leaving crushed hearts, broken dreams and hopes in the wake.  Inexplicable and devastating loss.

And now I sit here with an old familiar friend…………sudden, inexplicable loss. We know each other well. We have met many times before. He is like a rude and unwelcome house guest that shows up, tries to take up residence and make himself at home. He wants to live here, you know. He is always looking for a way to barge in and high jack my positive life and outlook. But I will have none of it!  Change and consequently, loss is a part of life!  If you are alive, loss is certain at times.  It will be a part of our human experience.

I will do what loss has taught me to do in the past. I will appreciate today! A new day and an opportunity to bless, help and glorify GOD. I will show deep and abiding gratitude for the people I love and who love me. I will thank GOD for all the wonderful times and memories I have as a MOM. I will endeavor to be truly present and live in the moment and be GRATEFUL for all of it. ALL OF IT!!

And I will be a good friend.  I will respect the privacy needs of my friend and remain available for whatever she needs.  I will also seek God’s comfort and peace for her in her loss.

Posted in faith, friend, God, Grace, hapiness, healing, Love, prayer, soul, Thanksgiving

The value of an impression.

This is the premise of a lecture I gave this month at FIT in a Communication class for Business Executives.  I really enjoyed speaking in an academic environment, definitely a first and  a thrill for me.

I work at SCB Marketing and I am in the impression business.  My company is in the business of impressing different audiences in Brevard County.  Our clients and advertisers count on us and our ability to make impressions for them each and everyday.  The entire advertising industry relies on the fact that what we see and what impresses us, influences behavior.  When we keep our clients “top of mind”, they will be the ones who get your business, when you have a need that they can fulfill.

I theorize that we are far more impressionable than we realize.  I theorize that EVERYTHING that we come in contact with, makes an impression upon us, influences us and ultimately takes us places.  From the time we are small children, we are constantly assimilating different stimuli and experiences and formulating our values, ideas and aspirations.  So, from what we eat, see, think, listen to, associate with……..our parents, friends, work associates.  What we read, watch on TV, play on our ipods……..impresses us in some form or fashion.

The degree that we are impressed depends on 2 things:  How malleable we are at the time and how much force or impact the stimuli has.  So, when we are young, we are very malleable and easily impressed.  As we mature, we become less impressionable but still remain more impressionable than we think or care to admit.

Let’s do a small exercise……think about the 3 most painful or difficult things that were ever said to you.  Most of us can think of those things rather quickly.  Now name the 3 best compliments you have ever received.  I guarantee that it will be more difficult for you to come up with the compliments then the slights.  We are much more easily impressed by the negative, rather than the positive.  Also, we read and assimilate the sub text easily.  For instance, your Mom/Dad tell you verbally that they love you but do not come to your school performances or games.  The actions of your parents completely belie their words and you will most likely get the impression that you are not loved/ worthy of their time.  When the truth is probably that your parents are self absorbed and critically damaged themselves.

My cancer experience was that profound experienced that made me realize, I had the wrong impression about myself.  If you look at your actions, who you surround yourself with and your self talk.  If it is all negative, you have gotten the wrong impression about you along the way.

So, when do people change?  People change when the pain of remaining the same exceeds the pain of change.  That is the place I got to shortly after my cancer diagnosis.  I was greatly impressed by my losses and the deep impact I felt on every possible level.  I knew that, if I did not change things within myself, I was a goner.  I would not survive cancer and  I would be lost.

Daily focus on healing, correcting negative self talk, surrounding myself with love and support are what pulled me through.  I allowed myself to be cared for and blessed by others.  That was very difficult for this independent soul, who’s first full sentence was “I’ll do it myself” at age 2.  It took multiple levels of programming to give you the wrong impression of yourself, it will take the same to de-program you and learn how to love yourself in a healthy way.

Some practical things to do……….

  • get a white board and write positive and affirming things to say to yourself when the negative voices speak.
  • Say I am statements daily and repeatedly:  I am HEALTHY, I am LOVED,   I am WORTHY!!
  • Take a personal inventory and list all your positive attributes!
  • Ask God to show you how HE sees you!
  • Get negative and non affirming people OUT of your life!!
  • Do nice things for yourself.  Treat yourself as you would your beloved child.
  • Nurture your interests and talents.  Do things that are good for your soul and make you smile.
  • Help someone else overcome an obstacle.

Every person on God’s green earth is loved by GOD!  He loved each of us so much that he chose to send his very own Son to atone  for when we fall short.  God will forgive you of any and all of our shortcomings if we just ask him to.  His word should impress you with his love and how he thinks about you!!

John 3:16-17

New King James Version (NKJV)

16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

Romans 5:8

New International Version (NIV)

8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Posted in faith, God, Grace, healing, heart, help, Love

The Power of “IF”…………..

The word “if” is an interesting one.  It speaks of hidden potential.  It is often used conditionally……if you do this, then this will happen.

It is a poem by Rudyard Kipling (which is a favorite of mine)

If

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with wornout tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on”;

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings – nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run –
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man my son!

Great Poem……………

But yesterday I realized in my reflection that the word “IF” is the only difference between LOVE and LIFE.  And it made me smile to realize that without LOVE……true uncommon and unconditional LOVE, there is NO LIFE.  Or at least no life worth living, that is.  So I came up with a small and simple equation.  LOVE + IF = LIFE.

If we love others and extend ourselves sacrificially towards others, we have an exceptional and satisfying life.  It has truly worked for me!!  And God did it for us FIRST!!

Posted in cancer, God, loss, Post Cancer, Survival

My new LOGO………the Pink Phoenix.

 I have decided to make the PINK PHOENIX my new logo.  I feel it is an appropriate one  as for quite some time, I have felt that I have risen out of the ashes of a much different and previous existence.   If you toss in the radiation experience, it makes the correlation that much stronger.  In my work with cancer patients now, I see it time and again where new and better life springs from a previous one.  I am placing the legend of the phoenix here for those who do not know it.

There is a bird that lays no eggs and has no young. It was here when the world began and is still living today, in a hidden, faraway desert spot. It is the phoenix, the bird of fire.

One day in the beginning times, the sun looked down and saw a large bird with shimmering feathers. They were red and gold–bright and dazzling like the sun itself. The sun called out, “Glorious Phoenix, you shall be my bird and live forever!”

Live forever! The Phoenix was overjoyed to hear these words. It lifted its head and sang, “Sun glorious sun, I shall sing my songs for you alone!”

But the Phoenix was not happy for long. Poor bird. Its feathers were far too beautiful. Men, women, and children were always casing it and trying to trap it. They wanted to have some of those beautiful, shiny feathers for themselves.

“I cannot live here,” thought the phoenix and it flew off toward the east, where the sun rises in the morning.

The Phoenix flew for a long time, and then came to a far away, hidden desert where no humans lived. And there the phoenix remained in peace, flying freely and singing its songs of praise to the sun above.

Almost five hundred years passed. The Phoenix was still alive, but it had grown old. It was often tired, and it had lost much of its strength. It couldn’t soar so high in the sky, nor fly as fast or as far as it was young.

“I don’t want to live like this,” thought the Phoenix. “I want to be young and strong.”

So the Phoenix lifted it’s head and sang, “Sun, glorious sun, make me young and strong again!” but the sun didn’t answer. Day after day the Phoenix sang. When the sun still didn’t answer, the Phoenix decided to return to the place where it had lived in the beginning and ask the sun one more time.

It flew across the desert, over hills, green valleys, and high mountains. The journey was long, and because the Phoenix was old and weak, it had to rest along the way. Now, the Phoenix has a keen sense of smell and is particularly fond of herbs and spices. So each time it landed, it collected pieces of cinnamon bark and all kinds of fragrant leaves. It tucked some in among its feathers and carried the rest in its claws.

When at last the bird came to the place that had once been its home, it landed on a tall palm tree growing high on a mountainside. Right at the top of the tree, the Phoenix built a nest with the cinnamon bark and lined it with the fragrant leaves. Then the Phoenix flew off and collected some sharp-scented gum called myrrh, which it had seen oozing out of a nearby tree. The Phoenix made an egg from the myrrh and carried the egg back to the nest.

Now everything was ready. The Phoenix sat down in its nest, lifted its head, and sang, “Sun, glorius sun, make me young and strong again!”

This time the sun heard the song. Swiftly it chased the clouds from the sky and stilled the winds and shone down on the mountainside with all its power.

The animals, the snakes, the lizards, and every other bird hid from the sun’s fierce rays — in caves and holes, under shady rocks and trees. Only the Phoenix sat upon its nest and let the suns rays beat down upon it beautiful, shiny feathers.

Suddenly there was a flash of light, flames leaped out of the nest, and the Phoenix became a big round blaze of fire.

After a while the flames died down. The tree was not burnt, nor was the nest. But the Phoenix was gone. In the nest was a heap of silvery-gray ash.

The ash began to tremble and slowly heave itself upward. From under the ash there rose up a young Phoenix. It was small and looked sort of crumpled, but it stretched its neck and lifted its wings and flapped them. Moment by moment it grew, until it was the same size as the old Phoenix. It looked around, found the egg made of myrrh, and hollowed it out. Then it placed the ashes inside and finally closed up the egg. The young Phoenix lifted its head and sang, “Sun, glorious sun, I shall sing my songs for you alone! Forever and ever!”

When the song ended, the wind began to blow, the clouds came scudding across the sky, and the other living creatures crept out of their hiding places.

Then the Phoenix, with the egg in its claws, flew up and away. At the same time, a cloud of birds of all shapes and sizes rose up from the earth and flew behind the Phoenix, singing together, “You are the greatest of birds! You are our king!”

The birds flew with the Phoenix to the temple of the sun that the Egyptians had built at Heliopolis, city of the sun. Then the Phoenix placed the egg with the ashes inside on the sun’s altar.

“Now,” said the Phoenix, “I must fly on alone.” And while the other birds watched, it flew off toward the faraway desert.

The Phoenix lives there still. But every five hundred years, when it begins to feel weak and old, it flies west to the same mountain. There it builds a fragrant nest on top of a palm tree, and there the sun once again burns it to ashes. But each time, the Phoenix rises up from those ashes, fresh and new and young again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in friend, God, Grace, Love, prayer, Uncategorized

Something to THINK about from my Friend Ingrid.

Imagine that you had won the following prize in a contest:  Each morning your bank would deposit $86,400.00 in your  private account for your use.

However,this prize has rules, just as  any game has certain rules.

The first set of rules would be:

Everything that you didn’t spend during each day would be taken away from you.


You may not simply transfer money into some other account.

     You may only spend it.

Each morning upon awakening, the bank opens your account with another $86,400.00 for that day.
      

The  second set of rules:

The bank can end the game without warning; at any time  it can say, It’s over,the game is over!  It can  close the account  and you will not receive a new one.

What would you personally do?

You would buy anything and everything you wanted right?  Not only for yourself, but for all people you love, right?  Even for people you don’t know, because you couldn’t  possibly spend it all on yourself, right?  You would try to spend every cent, and use it all, right?

ACTUALLY This  GAME is  REALITY!

Each of us is in possession of such a magical  bank. We just can’t seem to see it.

The MAGICAL BANK is  TIME!

Each morning we awaken to receive 86,400 seconds as a gift of life, and when we go to sleep at night, any remaining time is  NOT credited to us.

What we haven’t lived up that day is forever  lost.

Yesterday is forever gone.

Each morning the account is refilled, but the bank  can dissolve your account at any time….WITHOUT  WARNING.

SO, what will YOU do with your 86,400  seconds?

Those seconds are worth so much more than the same amount in dollars.

Think about that, and always think of this:

Enjoy every second of your life, because time races by so much quicker than you  think.

So take care of yourself, be Happy, Love Deeply and enjoy life!

Here’s wishing you a wonderful and beautiful day.

Start spending your time wisely!!