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 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, gratitude, hapiness, Thanksgiving

My Jubilee Year…….reflecting on my 50th year :)

As I stand on the precipice of my 51st year, I am taking time to reflect on this past year of my life.  I have a dear friend named Tommy who spoke prophetically to me as I was turning 50.  Tommy declared that this year was my Jubilee YEAR, he said that this would be a year of restoration.  He spoke that everything that cancer had removed would be restored by God……..only BETTER!!

The Jews were commanded by God to observe a Jubilee Year, every 50 years.  It was when any Israelite that was a slave was set free.  Debts were forgiven and slaves returned to their homes and clans.  The harvest was collected and the ground rested.  It is where the concept of the Sabbatical year comes from.

So I began my 50th year with a wonderful party.  I was surrounded by 75 people whom I know and love.  Family came from Maryland, we rented a room and kicked off my next 50 years!!  I had music, great food and I even sang with some of my chorus ladies.  We had a photobooth there and everyone had a lot of FUN!!!

So I rejoiced at the privilege of greeting my 50th year…………. 🙂  Not everyone gets to do that, you know?  So here is my Jubilee year in review, it’s been great!!

  • I started to facilitate a BC Support at SCCC to help other BC survivors.  We are up to 20 attendees and in Feb we will start on in Viera as well
  • By April 2011, I became a full time employee of SCB Marketing (no longer an independent contractor).
  • By June I had Merrill living with me (answering a 6 year prayer)
  • By July, I had health insurance (that is huge for me)
  • In August I was asked to be the survivor coordinator for the “B PINK Project”.  A great  project that will honor BC survivors and raise awareness and funds in our community.
  • I joined the ACS “Cattle Baron’s Committee” which raises funding for Cancer patients and sends kids with cancer to rock camp.
  • September, I got a NEW CAR!!!!
  • In September I was honored as SCCC “Survivor of the Year”.
  • In October I had 12 speaking engagements and “Put on my Pink bra” to Make Strides against breast cancer.  I had a team of 25 walkers for the event and we raised nearly $4000.  With USA giving me a huge donation.
  • In November I asked my love and one of the Strongest men I have ever known to be my husband.  We are getting married this summer 🙂
  • I have had my relationship with a precious child restored.  She was previously my step daughter and I had loved and missed her for nearly 2 years.  Thank you God!!
  • Dr. Guy has done a series of peels and laser on Dec 22nd which has corrected the damage to my skin from my cancer ordeal.
  • I was elected to the Cocoa Beach Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and was installed last night.
  • I have also had my prayer answered to be on Space Coast Cancer Foundation’s board.  I was asked this week to join the process to join the board.
  • This week, I got the word from my doctor, Dr. Levine that ALL my blood work is completely normal.  No residual weirdness from cancer.
  • I just got my statement from my retirement account and it is nice to be building something there again as well.
  • I am finally getting my old hair back.  Everyday more and more like my old hair 🙂

No matter where I look in my life I see God’s providence and blessing.  So, it is with great joy and anticipation that I enter my 51st year~~  I will NEVER complain about a birthday or growing older.  My Nana turned 94 yesterday and she did it so gracefully and beautifully.  I want to be just like her when I grow up….serving others, still inquisitive, and making new friends and memories!!

Tommy was 1000% CORRECT