About Me

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2 time ovarian cancer Survivor, Advocate for ovarian cancer awareness & research, Teacher of Zen Method Tai Chi, Blogger, sharing the wonderment and power of essential oils, proud fan of Cathe Friedrich's workouts, Reiki practitoner, A Course in Miracles student, paper crafter

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The First Zen Method Training begins....

Greetings from sunny Arizona! I'm basking in the glorious energy of these beautiful mountains. And also in the Light from my new friend and now teacher, Angella Hamiliton.  We met, briefly, in Washington D.C. last July at the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance's conference. She was there to teach the conference attendees a form of Tai Chi that she developed called Zen Method. You can read all about Zen Method by clicking on the tab on the top right hand side of this blog's homepage.

I loved Zen Method and was drawn into, and felt instantly friended by Angella. I knew she was a Soul sister right awa. Some time passed and life got busy. Then she emailed me in September and asked if I would be interested in going through her certification process to teach Zen Method myself.

It's a long time dream come true, I just didn't really know that my dream of teaching fitness and wellness would take this turn. I've been waiting and working on getting my body to what I thought was an acceptable place first. Divine synchronicity sees it differently.

Zen Method Tai Chi is part of a deep healing that I've longed for since my first diagnosis, but didn't know it in a human level. My Spirit knew, though. So I'm going to become a certified teacher of Zen Method Tai Chi and gift the teaching of these mind body healing connection flowing movements to cancer Survivors. And to their caregivers and friends and beyond, but first on my heart and mind are Survivors. I'll be doing that while I'm healing and gaining health and releasing my extra weight.

One of the things I love most about Zen Method is that anyone can do this- truly. Any size, any ability level, sitting down in a hair, or sitting partly up in bed. And I will be demonstrating that as I'll be a teacher of a larger variety at first. I've let got of feelings of unworthiness because of my size, and have choosen to not let that negativity keep me from offering this to Survivors.

So, the timing was right for Angella and I to get started this weekend. Divine synchronicity brought everything together. So I am here in beautiful energizing Phoenix to start my training.

And start we have! After lunch at the delicious Herb Box in Old Town Scottsdale and a relatively quick stop at Lucy's (for a teal shirt for me to wear when the professional photographer meets up with us on Saturday), we got started. First was an introduction to the book part- fascinating and resonating information that is bringing this all together in my mind. (It's catching up to my Spirit.) Then we did Zen Method Tai Chi poolside under a lemon tree. Gentle flowing movements that brought deep healing- already. Amazing.

I'm beyond grateful that Angella chose me, and can't wait to be ready to gather my first 'in training' class soon. 

I will be creating a Facebook fan page soon so you (and hopefully many others!) can follow my journey to becoming a Teacher of Zen Method. I'm still working on a title... and still welcoming any suggestions.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Happy Two Year Anniversary to me!

Today, November 11 marks 2 official years of Remission from ovarian cancer. In case you're wondering, I've been in Remission from my first diagnosis of endometrial cancer for 4 years and 8 months. I just counted that out for the first time today. My first cancer was treated with "just" a partial hysterectomy so the whole experience doesn't get a lot of attention. Which is perfectly fine, and I'm grateful that it was a relatively simple treatment for my body.

I'll talk more about that when I celebrate my 5 Year Remission Anniversary, though.

Survivors keep track of dates pretty well despite chemo brain. We have our own defintions of words like Remission. Some Survivors honor and remember the date they were diagnosed. Some celebrate or mourn surgeries, CT scan results and new treatment  courses. There are as many anniversaries as there are Survivors, and we all have different reasons and rhymes. Often times a special party or gift isn't required-though always nice. For me, it's more of a quiet private remembrance and opportunity for deeper gratitude. 

I did receive a special and treasured gift, though. My Angel of a Mom got me a 10" Andriod Tablet with a case that has an external keyboard. (No flowers or cashmere this year, onto new things!) This is the perfect gift and I absolutely adore it! In fact I'm using it to write this post. I've never used the Blogger app before... hope it works right! Thank you, Mom, for everything. I appreciate your unconditional Love, support and encouragement deeper than any words I could say or write.

I count this as my Remission Anniversary because it was on this day 2 years ago when my gyn oncologist first said that beautiful word to me. I had completed chemo 2 months prior, but wasn't given this treasured title until my body healed and I had a 'good looking' CT scan.

I remember sitting on the exam table, barely covered in a paper blanket with my mom sitting a few feet away in the chair that's too close to the door. My doc was reading the computer screen that was a couple feet from me, between mom and me. Doc was in the middle as if standing between my future health. Doc said it casually but Mom and I jumped on the word. Doc high fived me, and I hugged Mom even before getting dressed.  We were so relieved and grateful. And continue to be everyday. Remission is a daily gift, much like breath. There are no guarentees, only the joy of now.

I celebrated today with my family in a beautifully (now) typical Sunday. Church, lunch with most of the family and sweet moments of laughter with my Peeps at Mom's house. No one talked about Remission, we didn't have to. We're all grateful to be living in it. I spent the rest of the day doing life stuff- studying for Continuing Education exam, gratefully completing another Couch 2 5K workout (I ran for 3 whole minutes- twice!!), healthy dinner for 1, and phone conversations with a couple of dear friends.

I also indulged in a big frosted cookie and a luxurious bath in lavender.

A simple, peaceful day of gratitude for Remission, and all the men and women in our Military who have served, are serving and who will serve  in the future. I appreciate the daily sacrifices, and the ultimate sacrifices, the men and women of the Marines, Air Force, Navy and Army choose to make for the sake of Freedom. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Test Result, Guilt and Inner Peace

Yes, I still remember that I'm a Blogger. No, I haven't forgotten about you, dear readers. Writing here often gets pushed down to the end of my list because there are so many other issues and people that deserve and require my attention. This blog is about me and I deserve attention too, of course. It's my therapy, and I hope that it serves as a kind of therapy for you. 

The other issue I've had with blogging is figuring out how to blog about all the things I want to write about and mix it together well. Oh, and I tend to over think things which can lead to procrastination. Can you relate? I'd really like to have the time and brain space to come up with a creative and pretty way to make it work.

In the meantime, I'm working on a clever title for a Facebook Fan Page (do I have fans???) for my Zen Method certification process and beyond (cue Buzz Lightyear voice). That will overlap into things I would blog about... and may actually spill into this blog when I have a lot to say. If you have any title suggestions, I'd love to hear them!! 

My last post had a cliff hanger, my CA-125 (ovarian cancer tumor marker blood test) results pending. A friend actually asked me about it last week. Yay someone is reading!! I have assumed, hopefully incorrectly, that all of my readers are my real-life friends or Facebook friends who have already heard this fabulous news. My apologizes. 

I'm very happy to share that my CA-125 result remains at *3*. Anything under 35 is considered 'normal'. I'm deeply grateful. And relieved because there's so much more I want to do and experience in this beautiful life.

A new friend, and Teal Sister, gently asked me recently if I ever feel guilty for being in Remission. I empathetically replied- YES! There are moments when guilt and unworthiness flood every part of me. I'd trade places with a any mother, or young girl, with ovarian (or any!) cancer in a heartbeat if I could. Children need their mothers, I certainly need mine and I'm in my 30s! And young girls deserve a chance to experience and create their lives without the burdens and scars of disease.

I could spend my mental and emotional energy on guilt, and it would just make me miserable and not help anyone. So I choose not to feel guilty or think guilty thoughts. It's a concentrated effort, truly a choice I make everyday. Sometimes I have to remind myself several times a day. Sometimes I cry for release. I ask God for help countless times each day. 

This year I've learned  how much power my thoughts hold. It boils down to these quotes:

I choose to be grateful, happy and at peace with myself and my Remission status every morning. I'm becoming  increasingly better at choosing which thoughts and emotions can stay and stopping those that don't serve me. It's work, it's mindfulness, it's sometimes really tough. It's worth it. I'm worth it. You are worth it. 

I've spent most of my life waiting for someone to fix me, to heal me, to tell me what to do next. I've realized this year- thanks to several Divine interventions- that I don't need to be fixed- I'm already whole and healed as part of The Divine. What I've really been waiting on is myself to realize that I am a deeply Love part of God, and that I have the ability to create the life I want with my thoughts. The first step is to get my thoughts under control, and then keenly focus on what I do want in my life. This requires, absolutely requires meditation of at least 1 form. It's taken me a very long time- over 30 years and 2 cancer journeys - to GET IT. But now I do and that's what matters. 

So instead of feeling guilty, I'm choosing to use my good health to advocate for my Teal Sisters of the past, current and future so that we all may blissfully live out our lives we choose for ourselves. I choose to laugh and play with my nieces and nephews, and wonder at their Light and young wisdom. I choose to think Loving and kind thoughts about people, even those that I disagree with or aren't particularly fond of for some silly human reason. I choose to seek and experience Peace. 

Enter in Inner Peace for Inner Tough's Zen Method certification journey.... Coincidence? Certainly not! 

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Gratefulness and Respect

I'm gratefully approaching my official 2 year post ovarian cancer Remission anniversary. Each year of remission is big deal to all cancer Survivors, but particularly ovarian cancer Survivors because there is often a higher risk of recurrence. I only have a 10% risk of recurrence, which is really low but still a risk. Click here for a chart from the Journal of National Cancer Institute to see the recurrence rates in ovarian cancer at different stages. 

It's humbling and shocking data, yet reminds me to stay in the flow of thankfulness for my current good health. It also gives me a sense of urgency to advocate for more research dollars that will lead to a Cure and educate women on ways to listen to and care for their bodies. Women shouldn't suffer or die from ovarian cancer any longer. Women deserve an early detection screening to find ovarian cancer at the earliest possible stage and preserve their lives. 

Oh, didn't you know that there is NOT an early detection screening for ovarian cancer? Shocking, isn't it? 

So how would you know you have it? By listening to your body, knowing your family cancer history, and paying attention to these symptoms:

  • Bloating
  • Pelvic or abdominal pain
  • Difficulty eating or feeling full quickly
  • Urinary symptoms (urgency or frequency)
The Ovarian Cancer National Alliance created a free App- and printable symptom diary- to help women track these symptoms. App link Symptom Diary Link Studies about ovarian cancer symptom link.

Ladies, dear ones, please pay attention to your body. If you're experiencing one or more of these symptoms- even just one, yes- for couple weeks or more please go see your gynecologist. The Ovarian Cancer National Alliance has fantastic information about detection. Read it carefully and then tune into your body. Take care of yourself, don't just wait & see. 

This past Thursday I went to my gyn oncologist for my 2 year pelvic exam and blood work to determine my CA 125 level. A normal CA 125 is 35 U/ml or less. Mine was 3 U/ml 6 months ago, which is amazingly wonderful. I'll get results from Thursday early next week, and I'm expecting good news. 

I wasn't feeling much anxiety until I got to the parking lot on Thursday. My affirmations and flowing thoughts of gratefulness keep me in a healthy and positive place mentally and emotionally. I've been focusing on ovarian cancer advocacy, not so much my personal journey through ovarian cancer. Yet pulling into the parking lot brought up a bit of fear and anxiety, and I could smell the chemo before walking in the building. 

I called my friend Angella, who is the creator of The Zen Method that I'm training to become certified in, and she listened for a few minutes and then talked me through 3 cleansing and grounding breaths. Connecting with your breath is a powerful calming tool. 

My blood draw was easy and thankfully the first stick stuck. My veins were slow to share but we got 3 vials out. This is the only time I ever miss my Port-a-cath, but I get tougher with every stick. 

I was prepared to be there for awhile since I had an afternoon appointment which usually means the oncologist is behind schedule, but I was called back quickly. I got to be in the 'upgrade' room with the more comfortable chair with stirrups and joked about it with the nurse. She went through the usual round of questions.

My oncologist came in quickly and we got down to business. That 'upgrade' chair made the exam much more comfortable. Yay! Then I got hear the words I needed to hear from her- everything feels fine. Relief floods in. 

She then checked the computer for my blood work- except CA 125 which takes longer- and more good news. Everything looks good. More relief and gratitude joins the flood. 

She wants me to have a mammogram just because it's been nearly 2 years and it's a smart thing to do for a gyn cancer Survivor. Though, I'm not thrilled about it I am thankful that breast cancer HAS an early detection screening process. As I think that, there in the stirrups, I feel a pang of sadness for ovarian cancer patients as I wish we had an early detection screening too. So I agree to get a mammogram. 

That's my official 2 year post ovarian cancer oncologist follow up appointment results. Everything looks good, I'm doing great. I can wait 6 months for my next follow up. I'm relieved, and full of gratitude.... 

I get on the elevator and check my email as a mental break from being at The West Clinic.  There's a brand new email about a friend, a Teal Sister, who is in treatment. The email tells me that She also saw her gyn oncologist that day, but didn't get good news. I got in my car and bawled for both of us for a few minutes, because it ovarian cancer sucks.

I called my Mom to share my good news, sent out a text to my closest friends and sisters, and posted on Facebook, Then I stepped out of my own personal ovarian cancer journey and back into my new role of Advocacy and supporting my Teal Sisters. 

Please send your Love, Comfort and Light to this dear Teal Sister- to all my Teal Sisters... and to all Survivors. 





Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Official Start Time

Today I officially started the training process for the St. Jude half marathon next December. I've talked about it a lot, meditated on it, said a lot of positive affirmations to myself, asked for guidance from dear friends who are seasoned runners and then realized there was only 1 thing left to do. Take action by actually starting to run.

For the first part of my training, I'm using the popular Couch to 5K. I've got the app for my phone which makes it very convenient. The weather is finally good for running in Memphis, and I'm so thankful. This is a 9 week program where I'll be doing run/walk intervals for a total of 30 minutes. This means that I'll finish this program right before Christmas. I didn't plan that, but I think it's pretty cool how the timing works out. I'll be able to run a 5K by Christmas, which will be an amazing gift to myself.

The first day run/walk felt good. I haven't run since the Ovarian Cancer Awareness Foundation's 5K at the end of September due to a sciatic event that occurred shortly afterwards. I'm healed now, and have learned from that injury. No more full out running down hill, my core needs strengthening, and stretch really well.

Today I started off feeling really strong, and felt almost easy. By the 6th of the 8 intervals my body felt the challenge. I talked myself through it with gratitude. It's truly amazing to me that I can run. It's even more amazing that I want to run. I'm deeply grateful that I can run. I imagined me and my friends at the St. Jude half marathon... all of us running together and drawing strength from each other. I'm so grateful to have friends are willing to travel to run with me.

I'll be running Tuesdays, Thursdays and either Saturdays or Sundays. On Tuesday and Thursday I'll add on upper body- including core- work, too. Mondays and Wednesdays I'll do low impact Tabata (intense intervals for 20 second followed by 10 seconds of rest, repeat) or HiiT (high intensity interval training which is short bursts of energy followed by short rest repeatedly about 10 times. I'll also add in, cautiously, Turbo Barre or floor work for my lower body. Fridays and Sunday or Saturday will be rest days.

I'll also continue daily with the Crane Dance created by Inner Peace for Inner Tough's Angella Hamiliton. (You can get a free download of this 6 minute calming yet powerful unique combo of Tai Chi and Qi Gong here.) This short 6 minutes is truly bringing more peace to my life.

Putting together a workout plan for the next 9 weeks feels really good. Having a physical goal that I'm able to work towards is a miracle.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Bravery & a 5 Day Road trip

Brave. Adventurous. Creative. Miracles. Friends. Magnificent. Delicious. Fun. Healing. Comfy. Decadent. Welcoming. Love. 


These words are the essence of my recent 5 day road trip to the North. On my way to my first destination, I meet Sandra Ahten, creator of The Reasonable Diet. I was running late, partly due to road construction and partly because I forgot how long the state of Illinois is, but we just rolled with it. She's every bit as authentic and awesome as she is appears online. We talked like old friends, and I got some insight and education about how to apply the Law of Attraction to my desire to reach a healthy weight. She hit a spiritual nerve so right on in that topic that I cried spontaneously. 

Onto Chicago- as in the city part of the city, not the burbs. I've never stayed in a big city apartment before, but my friend Rae made me feel very welcomed and right at home. Her apartment/loft is above stores and has a very funky cool sleek industrial yet homey feel. And she has the same couch I had when I lived in Florida. She's a graphic artist and web designer- as well as a musician. We worked on her huge screen computer in our jammies on shirt designs for the Ovarian Cancer Awareness Foundations' new Zazzle store

One of my favorite from the new line!

We worked so well together, and had lots of fun. I'm so thankful for you, Rae, and your mad graphic skills! You totally rock, and I'm honored and grateful to get to spend time and creative space with you.

I met with 2 Facebook friends later that night in the 'burbs. Traffic was crazy. And the tollway was expensive. Though it was a bit irritating, I didn't mind much because I was so excited to meet my friends! Laura and I connected immediately and share many of the same Spiritual experiences and way of thinking... we talked for hours and are old friends now! I have a feeling that we're going to be connected for a long time, and in a really cool way one day. Then Nancy joined us, after a long day of work. We've been friends for a long time thanks to Facebook and it was wonderful to make a real life connection. I got some good advice from this awesome seasoned runner and fellow Cathlete... and made some plans for running a half marathon next December.

Then it was time for me to visit the city where I did most of my growing up.... that holds hundreds of thousands of happy memories of family and friends... and some very dark scary memories of abuse. That abuse held me prisoner on many levels for over 2 decades, and kept me away from that city. I've been through years of therapy, hypnosis, and journaling to heal and cope but have avoided going to that old home city for 21 years. Then I rekindled friendships with some very special friends that still live there... and even made a couple new ones there thanks to Facebook. I wanted to spend time with them, meet them all over again and crush the fear that I attributed to that place.

The city didn't cause the abuse. It's just a place, a city like many others. I've grown spiritually so much these past few months that it felt so good and right to go there again. I was determined not to let old fears reign over my joy in the now. I needed to go back to complete the circle of healing for myself.

I paused on the outskirts of the city to collect my thoughts, breathe, meditate and remind myself that it's just a place and no one can hurt me there anymore. I reminded myself that I'm a grown up now and have control over my body and mind. I also told those dark memories that they were not welcome, and asked God to open my mind to any good memories. I also gave myself permission to leave if it didn't feel good or right in any way.

Cities go through big changes in 21 years. Though I came in on what I thought would be an old familiar highway, I recognized very little which was good because it made things easier. A couple of those good memories popped in... the place where I took the only dance class of my life that I completely forgotten about... my old nursery school which looks exactly the same... learning to drive my Mom's old Renault stick shift in my old high school parking lot...

And one of my family's favorite restaurants. I met my friend Rocky there even though I was staying at his house that night, to take the whole 'going home again' thing slowly. Again, I paused in my car gathering my thoughts and courage. He saw me first, busted! ha! We hugged like dear old friends and I felt welcomed, loved and safe. The restaurant, also, has changed a lot... the food wasn't nearly as good as I remembered but I ate one of my Grandpa's favorite meals- lake perch.

Rocky patiently drove me around the city, avoiding spots with bad memories, and we reminisced and laughed so hard. There's now a big beautiful lake beach there now!! It was crazy... if you didn't know it was a lake you'd swear it was an ocean. Seriously.


Rocky, Me and Margol
Me, Brenda and BF 
That night Rocky threw a party for me and my Racine friends complete with a nacho bar and great wines! I was deeply moved by how many people came to visit with me... felt like a rockstar!! It's truly a miracle to have such lovely Light-filled friends... My brain still can't comprehend it all, and I am humbled by the Love that surrounds my life in so many ways. And my soul is grateful. My friend Margol said something very wise- 'you never have friends like the ones you had in high school'. So true, and after hearing her say that and experiencing the joy of reconnecting I'm so glad I choose to be brave.

Me and Lisa
I have conquered and kicked out all the negative energy and bad memories from that city I grew up in, and replaced it with new friends, rekindled friendships, laughter and Love. I'll definitely be going back someday.

The next morning...which came too early after all our celebrating the night before... I headed even further North to my Great Aunt & Uncle's home. After all, it was their 65th Wedding Anniversary- and my Great Uncle's 90th birthday- that sparked this whole amazing trip. Their house is so cozy... I relaxed and enjoying being with my extended family. Catching up...sharing memories... looking at pictures... connecting in a fresh way now that I'm 'grown up'. (I don't feel grown up.) 

I also watched how the 4 sisters- my Great Aunt and Uncle's daughters- interacted and learned a lot. Their age range is wide, their lives are very different but the love and care they have for each other is strong and beautiful. They know each other well despite not all living geographically close or getting to spend a lot of time together. It was quite obvious to me that the sister relationships they have came from effort, desire and work but mostly Love and acceptance. I asked 2 of the sisters, my second cousins who feel more like Aunts to me, if they had a secret to sisterhood. They both said-  listen to each other and don't try to fix things for the others. That seems simple enough, doesn't it? Very powerful and profound, too.

I truly hope that my 2 sisters and I can create relationships that strong to last for our lifetimes. We feel distant lately... busy with our own passions and lives... which is understandable at this early and mid 30's part of our lives ... but I truly hope that this simple but deep lesson I learned from my cousins stays with me and passes onto my sisters. 

There was a big party that evening and I got to meet some second and third cousins for the first time, played some beer pong (which was bizarre and wonderful fun), shared my special memories of my Great Aunt & Uncle, and created new memories and fresh connections to the only extended family I have left now... 

My Great Auntie Jo, me and Great Uncle Harvey
This 5 day road trip is quite possibly the most fun, adventuresome, powerful, free-ing and profound trip of my life- so far, at least. I can't wait to see what the next trip brings!! 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

11 Miracles

My Great Aunt and Uncle have been married for, nearly, 65 years. 6 5 YEARS. That's hard to imagine, but I think it's pretty neat. As I child I went to some of the parties their side of the family had, and they came to my family's big events. But I wasn't really close with their side of the family... always wished I had been though. So when I got an invitation in the mail a few weeks ago to their 65th Wedding Anniversary and Uncle's 90th birthday party I instantly wanted to go. 

I worked out the details and am leaving in the morning for a long car ride North. 

During the planning of this trip several miracles occurred. No Moses appearances or anything super big, but no miracle is bigger than any other. I've learned that recently. Oh, and miracles aren't all religious and churchy. They are sacred, though. Look around your life, I bet you can find a miracle or two also. 

Allow me to digress for a few lines here and say that up until recently I've been an introvert and am usually quite uncomfortable meeting new people. It's been my first line of defense against potential pain of various types, as it is with many other people. However, I'm pretty out-going online, if that can be considered out-going. These past months I've been like a caterpillar emerging from my cocoon as a butterfly in many different ways, pardon the over used metaphor. I've been expanding and changing... and somehow I'm becoming a kind of extrovert. And I like it. 

This is miracle #1. 

Because this first miracle happened... which is contingent on thousands of former miracles in my life.. the next miracles happened. This new extroverted me sent messages to a few online friends asking if they might like to meet. The positive response was overwhelming and humbling. Honestly, it took me back a bit... and I had to snuff out some negative thoughts about myself. Now I graciously accept that so many people from many walks of life- men and women- are excited to meet me. I am very excited and honored to be meeting them, too! Gratitude overwhelms me, truly.

These are miracles #2- 8. 

So a long weekend road trip has morphed into a 5 day road trip with 3 stops- and lots of details that needed to be ironed out- to meet 8 incredible people of Light and Love. I am filled with wonder and gratitude for all the friends that have appeared in my life over the past year. Welcome, dear ones, thank you for sharing this journey through Life with me and shining Light on the path. 

The fact that I'm excited about it and my mind is not filled with negative thoughts about myself at this very minute is miracle #9. Gosh darn it, people like me!! Props to Stuart Smalley. 

One of the stops I'm making is in the city I grew up in. There are hundreds of thousands of happy memories there, but there are also some very dark and scary memories too. I haven't been back there in 21 years as I didn't feel ready or willing to step back into that part of my past. I went through years of hypnosis and therapy to forget and cope with what happened to me in that city and to heal, and I didn't want that healing to start unraveling.

I have a couple of dear friends from high school that live there, though. Through the miracle of Facebook we've found each other again and became friends again (bonus miracle!). And I want to see them. So I'm going.

Healing doesn't unravel. I'm free from my past. I'm safe. I'm strong. I have control over my thoughts. My friends in that city have my back. These are truths that I know with every fiber of my being now. 

That's miracles #10 and 11.

I'm making a very conscious decision to go to that place and treat it as a new place to me. No driving by my old houses, no literal walks down memory lane... I'm creating a fresh experience in that place with the Love and Light of some very special friends. The past is the in the past, no one can hurt me there anymore. It's just a place. A place where friends of mine live. The city and my past holds no power over me. I am free from that negative energy. And I forgive.... thanks to Louise Hay's sage words:

"Forgiving someone doesn't mean that we condone their behavior. The act of forgiveness takes place in our own mind. It really has nothing to do with the other person. The reality of true forgiveness lies in setting ourselves free from holding on to the pain. It’s simply an act of releasing ourselves from the negative energy."

Saturday, October 6, 2012

I Surprise Myself- Twice

After my first Teal 5K I felt really good, and so gung ho about continuing to train for another 5K. "I am a runner, I really did it!"- I said that to myself many times. I'm amazed and grateful for this body that can do so much after enduring so much abuse and cancer treatment.

 In my delirious post-first-race joy I even committed to running the St. Jude HALF MARATHON in December of 2013 with an awesome and precious online friend. She runs  quite a few races, but offered to do this HM with me at my own pace. I was so touched and just couldn't resist meeting her and running with her so I quickly agreed. It just may turn into a fabulous meeting of a group of online friends, right before my 40th birthday. Whoa, 40th... Wait...what. That can't be right. Someone check those numbers.

Moving on... 

And so I started imaging myself running a half marathon... taking it from blurry disbelief to crystal clear images....

The Monday following the Teal 5K I stood up from a kitchen chair, as I have thousands of times in my life, and my back and outer thighs lit up in fiery pain. Sciatica, my mind immediately told me. I experienced a similar sciatic event last September, remember? (I don't really expect you to remember.)

I was crushed and broken spirited. I was angry at the radiation treatments that caused that area of my body to be weakened and vulnerable. I wasn't sure I could or should run again. I was slapped in the face with the reminder that treatment may be done, but it's not 100% over. 

Then I remembered not to focus on what I didn't want- pain, suffering, misery, depression- and shifted into gratitude and filling my mind and mouth with words of healing, love and encouragement. 

My life has such amazing synchronicity. I had made a reflexology appointment for next day with Footsteps in Eden, originally to de-stress and pamper my body after the 5K. How fortuitous. It was excruciating to walk, and I couldn't drive. I'm so grateful to have a sister who could chauffeur me to this appointment. Synchronicity strikes again. 

Reflexology and Young Living's essential oils are what helped me recover and heal from last year's sciatic event, and I knew without a shadow of a doubt that combo would come through for me again. And it has! This article explains how reflexology relaxes the sciatic nerve and why it's so important. <Do you use reflexology?> 

Lynn, of Footsteps in Eden, uses Young Living Essential Oils and instinctively knew that Juniper essential oil would be helpful to my healing. She was absolutely right! Juniper was a new oil to me, and I always enjoy finding new miracles of Divine nature. A few minutes after she first rubbed a couple drops of Juniper oil into my sciatic reflex I felt my lower back release and relax. Ahhhhhh. I ordered my own bottle when I got home. 

Here's more information Juniper Essential Oil... which can also be helpful for skin conditions, improving the health of  your kidneys, relieving bladder infections, easing liver problems, varicose veins and ulcers to just name a few. 

By the end of the first session I felt majorly relieved and found myself moving a bit easier. Reflexology often has a cumulative effect, which was true in this situation for me. I faithfully applied the Juniper essential oil and rubbed my own sciatic reflex over the next few days and noticed marked improvement every morning. A miracle, truly. Last year's sciatic event caused me to 'down and out' for a couple of months. 

This past Tuesday I had another tranquil reflexology treatment and feel only a slight vague tightness in my lower back afterwards.  Today it was almost Noon before I even noticed or remembered this sciatic event. Astounding. Miracles and synchronicity at their best. 

I am in awe of God's loving healing and energy in my life, even at my darkest moments I know Light is in me and surrounding me. 

I've decided to continue to run, but I will start training from square one to rebuild my strength in my lower back and core so I can avoid another sciatic event in my future. I'm starting with walking for a few weeks, and I'm planning on reading Chi Running. I'm drawn to the 'chi' concept... but more on that in my next post. I'll escalate my half marathon training from there, and be ready for St. Jude's Half Marathon next December. (Who said that??) 

What are YOU doing next December? Want to join us?   

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Teal 5K

The beautiful and busy TEAL month of September has somehow ended already. It was an incredible month of activity and advocacy to raise awareness of ovarian cancer which left me little time to write about it. Ironically when I was blogging regularly I didn't have much of a life, and now that my life is so rich and full I haven't much time for blogging. I'm grateful for this life I've created, and am committed to blogging much more often.

This tiny blog is about to play a big role in a project called The Zen Method that I am honored and excited about... but I'm getting ahead of myself.

My last post was right before Teal for a Cure, my first running/walking 5K. Last year this event, without the 5K, had 225 participants. This year with the 5K added in we had an astonishing 909 participants! It was a sea of glorious TEAL. It felt surreal being there with all those people... I felt like I missed so much of it even though I was there... overwhelming grateful to everyone who worked so hard to create and support event and for all the people who donated their money and sweat to raise awareness of ovarian cancer.

Before the Race started the cameras clicked...

My running guru for the hour, Susan. She knew when to push me and when to slow down. She rocks.

My 2 oldest Peeps, TEAL Princesses. They were so excited to be at the "Teal Walk'.

I wasn't well prepared for this Race in many ways. I started training way too late and pushed myself too hard. I didn't get much sleep for the whole month of September, especially the 2 nights before this Race. I didn't drink nearly enough water the morning of the Race, and only ate a banana. Mentally I pushed those things aside, but my body was not to be tricked. I was about out of steam and my body tried to tell me by setting my throat on fire when I woke up at 5am. 

So, I Raced unprepared, exhausted, un-hydrated (un??)... but I was determined to Race.

I ran in memory & honor of my friend, fellow Cathlete & Teal Sister who earned her teal Wings a couple days before this Race.
My new friend, and Teal Sister, Marie (pictured below) graciously and thankfully ran and walked along side me and Susan. She came from out of town to be a part of the event, and didn't know anyone. I know her mom, a graceful strong and kind woman, and so I befriended her. Marie has those same beautiful characteristics of her mom. I am honored that she stuck with me through the Race as I know she could have finished much faster if she choose to. That's what Survivors- despite the color of our ribbons- do for each other. We hang on, hang in, encourage, share... 

L- Leisa Middle- Marie R me
There were A. LOT. OF. HILLS. I heard seasoned runners call this course 'tough'. The first mile was all shady climb then it flattened out and the sun beat down on us. My running guru for the hour, Susan, was so encouraging and kind. She even made up a cheer for me to the Mickey Mouse tune' C O N N I E it's her first 5K! Yay!'. God love her. 

I didn't have time before the long walk up hill to the start line to grab my interval timer so decided to just wing it. Not so smart. So I ran as much as I could, but walked much more than I had intended. My body was exhausted and just wasn't going to be forced into a stellar performance. 

Then again, I WAS out there giving it my all ... and I'm quite proud of that. 

We hit the second water hole and I couldn't believe we were two thirds done! I had a burst of energy and thankfully we got back into shade. I pushed along... and then there was the 3 mile flag. JOY!! Susan encouraged me to run that last 0.1 of a mile- downhill- to the finish line... and we did. I ran as fast as I could and was pleasantly shocked to see 56 minutes on the timer. By some wonderful miracle I was going to finish in less than 60 minutes despite all the circumstances. 

My official time was 57:37. 

I'd love to say that I looked victorious crossing the finish line. You know, fist pumping in the air as I slide gracefully through the finish line with a bright smile on my face. That would have been a lovely story. 

Instead I crossed the finish line and threw up a little. And very ungracefully threw myself on the nearest piece of grass and collected myself. Susan got me an apple, my sister Sally (who also ran her first 5K and finished in 55 minutes!!) got me water, and a lady I didn't know fanned me. My brother in law's Uncle Steve stood by and made sure I was recovering... and I did. The apple and water helped a lot. I stretched some and rejoined the group for the event's finale. We released doves in memory of our Teal Angels, including the lovely Virginia.

If you'd like to see more pictures of the event, please LIKE the Ovarian Cancer Awareness Foundation's Facebook page

By 1pm I was sound asleep on my couch.. after a long nap and quiet evening I was proud to put on this handmade, specially made for me, bling shirt from my Florida friend Lesile. If you like her work, please LIKE her Facebook page. She will be happy to bling you up! I will wear this shirt often. Thank you, Lesile!!  

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Cocoon Layers

In 2 days I will be running/walking a 5K, Teal for a Cure at the beautiful Shelby Farms. It's the first 5K that I'm running, though I've walked a 5K in the past. In my  'far away and with much heavier body before cancer' past.

It's astoundingly wonderful to me that my body as it is now is able to run. I'm in love with the notion that I can define running however I want and no 'running definition' policemen will hunt me down. I run slow, but both of my feet leave the ground at the same time and that- to me- is running. And I love the support and camaraderie of runners. It's great to have people encouraging me, the good for the soul kind of great.

However, I'm not new to working out, in fact I've been a proud Cathlete (avid fan of Cathe Friedrich's workouts) for over 12 years now. Though I share strong bond with my fellow Cathletes, the relationships- sadly- are mostly trapped in the Web. Oh how I wish it were different, though!! My workouts- as awesome and challenging as they truly are- are done in the privacy of my home. I'm generally not comfortable working out in front of people... But this running thing has changed me.

Or rather, this surviving cancer thing has changed me. Now I run in a public park in workout clothes instead of baggy cottons. Now I go to running shoe stores and run in front of strangers to find the great fitting shoes without anxiety. And I'm making running friends. Which feels strange but also very comfortable all at once. I've run with my youngest sister, Sally. And a new friend, who I met online and is a fellow blogger at I Run For My Life, Susan has graciously agreed to run Teal for a Cure with me. She's a seasoned marathon runner and a very sweet, fun and easy to talk to lady. I know she'll help me through the tough spots and keep me focused on the positives. You have my sincere gratitude, Susan.

I'm emerging from my cancer cocoon and realizing that the cocoon is made up of many layers. The latest layer has uncovered these gems of wisdom and change~

I'm not comparing my running to anyone else's, I'm enjoying that I CAN run while challenging myself with each run. I'm amazingly grateful.

The real me knows that it doesn't matter how much time it takes me to complete this 5K on Saturday morning. Sure, I'd like to finish in 55 minutes or less. Yet, I know the true joy and miracle is that I can run/walk 3.1 miles.

Although I wish I had the physique of a runner right now, but I won't let my frivolous ego hold me back. My body is changing... becoming leaner, stronger, faster, more flexible and healthier every week. How my body looks is such a tiny part of who I really am. It's reflecting in my self talk, which is a miracle in a true sense (not a sarcastic one).

Being a runner is in my soul, not my skin. Just like being a Cathlete. I just didn't realize it until I started running. My workouts and runs will show up on up outside soon enough, it was more important for the love of working out- and love of myself- get embedded in my soul.

Tomorrow I'm going to be interviewed on TV. I knew about the possibility a few days ago, but didn't really think it would happen. It's really happening now! Gulp. Wow!! Whoa. I'm honored to represent ovarian cancer Survivors,  the Ovarian Cancer Awareness Foundation, and the opportunity to use my Voice and story to raise awareness of this disease that's avoidable and treatable if caught early. Knowledge is TEAL power.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Awkward Anniversary

Yesterday marked the 2 year anniversary of my final chemo treatment. Which is wonderful. And kind of awkward. Yes, I had cancer twice. Yes, I consider myself a Survivor. I was a whole person with dreams, problems and a life before I had either cancers. Then for about 3 years I was a cancer patient. And now I'm an upgraded model of myself post cancer. Different dreams, different problems and a whole different beautiful life.

Cancer doesn't define me. It's a chapter in my life's story that has led me to now. Now is very good and I'm quite grateful for all the people, experiences and places that envelope my life.

I'm emerging from the cocoon of individual Survivor into a butterfly of advocacy for ovarian cancer awareness and research. Yes, I'm still a Survivor and always will be. Yet I want to let go of my ultra-personal relationship to cancer. Let go of daily thoughts and memories of it. Release the addiction I sometimes feel to my cancer story. I want to let go the story of who I was and what happened to me so I can open myself to the possibilities in the NOW.  It happened therefore I'm a Survivor and now I'm also an advocate...

I'm also a sister, a daughter, an Aunt, a friend, an educator, a car dancer, a runner, a Course in Miracles student, a blogger, an essential oils lover, a scrapbooker, a dreamer, and a believer in Love and God. Cancer does not define me. Cancer isn't what makes me interesting or special. It happened to me, I got treatment, I'm better now. I'm deeply grateful for the experience of cancer, and will apply what I learned from those experiences with me as I move forward with my life.

All of that is true, but then how shall I deal with these cancer anniversaries that tick in my head? This day I chose to celebrate by going to a Couch 2 5K graduation for my Teal Sister Deb and advocating to raise awareness of ovarian cancer and the upcoming Teal for a Cure 5K to the hundreds of women at the event. Then I went to my Yoga class which felt really wonderful. I spent the afternoon doing more advocacy work from bed in my comfy clothes. Then I ate a healthy dinner with a treasured friend, saw a second run movie and had an amazing discussion about Marianne Williamson's book A Return to Love after reading 2 chapters out loud to each other.

I celebrated by living my life, by making a point to enjoy it a bit more today.

Ringing the Bell at West Clinic 9/16/2010 to celebrate completing chemo

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Days of Teal

I left you with the promise to share what Ovarian Cancer Awareness Foundation in Memphis is doing to raise awareness of OvCa this TEAL month of September, and I always keep my promises. 

Our next event is our monthly support networking group on Thursday Sept 20th 6:30pm at the Junior League building 3475 Central Ave just off Highland (near Univ of Memphis). We are having a guest speaker, Lynn Watson of Footsteps in Eden. She's going to tell us about reflexology, how it can play a role in treatment and post-treatment recovery, teach us some moves we can do on our own and give a demonstration of what a treatment is like for 1 lucky attendee. We'll have snacks and story sharing, too, of course. 

Next is the BIG ONE! Teal for a Cure 5K Walk/Run (or 1 Mi Fun Walk) at Shelby Farms on Saturday the 22nd starting at 8am (race starts promptly at 9am and will go around a paved Chickasaw Trail). There will be a silent auction, Dove release for Teal Angels, live music from the Wolf River Rednecks, Door Prizes, Teal Touch mini-massages, the unveiling of our new logo (it's AWEsome), and the Teal Corner shop. If you haven't registered yet, you can do so here

If you don't live around Memphis, and can't join us for the Walk, I'd deeply appreciate the support of your donation. You can be a spirit runner or walker for only $15 and you'll get a T-shirt, or you can simply donate to OCAF. But you know you want that Tshirt!!

Your donation will have greatly deep meaning to me this year for 2 reasons. First, I'll soon be celebrating 2 full years since completing and surviving chemo. This is gigantic

Second, for the first time ever in my entire life I will be running and walking this 5K. Yes, you read that right. I've let go of my old saying that I only run if I'm being chased. Now I run because I can. I run because my body is able to run. I run because I can make my own definition of running (I recently learned that you can make running mean and look like whatever you want to yourself). I run because I'm grateful to this body and soul that has been through the darkest of tunnels and come out to find abundant bright Light and Love.

I was inspired to start running just a couple of weeks ago by a Teal Sister, and blogger, Deb. She's been training using Couch to 5K and will be graduating from that program this Saturday morning. I'm going to cheer for her and celebrate that she CAN run with her. She's a little older than me and has a bit less time in remission than me, and so I could think of absolutely no reason I shouldn't at least try to run. 

And now I love to run. Well, I love that I can run then I start running and feel great for a little bit then it feels challenging  but then I stretch under the big trees in the park and get that glorious runner's high for the rest of the day and love it all over again.

So, would please support me in my first ever running 5K? 

My next post I'll share my complex feelings of being out of treatment for 2 full years, and even more Days of TEAL in Memphis with OCAF. 

Light and Love going out tonight, and always, to all the lives that were lost and forever altered by the events of 9/11/01. I saw this quote today and thought it fit in beautifully with my upcoming cancer anniversary and memorial of 9/11/01~ 

“There is a saying in Tibetan, 'Tragedy should be utilized as a source of strength.' No matter what sort of difficulties, how painful experience is, if we lose our hope, that's our real disaster." Dalai Lama XIV


Monday, August 27, 2012

Living Again (And a fun little challenge for you, too)

My blog, that is, is living again. No, really. I'm bringing it back with a fresh Voice, my Voice from a different perspective and joined with other OvCa Survivors. Cancer will always be personal to me, but my eyes and heart have seen cancer, particularly gynecological cancers, from a different perspective since I went to the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance Conference in July. I was honored to be awarded a the Judy Childress Scholarship from the Ovarian Cancer Awareness Foundation here in Memphis to attend this amazing conference in our Nation's Capital of Washington D.C. I went as a Survivor, and came back a Survivor/Advocate poised to make progress.

The conference was not at all what I thought it would be, like many things in life. I pictured bald women holding hands and crying a lot. (Why do I still think of that first when I think of women cancer Fighters and Survivors?? That's a stereotype, an UNTRUE stereotype.) Though tears were shed- some of sadness, some of accomplishment and pride, this conference was about education, empowerment and getting Poised for Progress in advocating for ovarian cancer on national and state levels.

This conference was full of Teal (the color representing ovarian cancer) Power, Sisterhood, detailed education and and a grass roots type movement to raise awareness of this often deadly disease to individuals and government as well as raising money for research. It was empowering to the Teal power! I came home changed, healed, grateful for new friends and mentors, and ready to step out of such a personal relationship with cancer and into the role of an Advocate. My world has gotten bigger and richer- all because I had cancer. Now that's catalyst-ism at it's best.

If you'd like to see the videos, summaries or power point presentations taken from the conference, please click here. There is tons of great information, there was no fluff at this conference! Great job, OCNA! And thank you.

The conference wasn't all education and business, though. We had a party to celebrate OCNA's 15th Birthday! There's a video of me dancing, but no one will ever see it. That's a promise, and you're welcome. I was having so much fun I didn't get very many pictures but here are a couple. The first (left to right) yours truly, Carol Rodman, and Judy Childress. They are Board members of Ovarian Cancer Awareness Foundation in Memphis and are warm, kind, and lovely women who are working diligently to raise awareness of OvCa not only in Memphis, but nationally too. I love them pieces and am deeply grateful for both of them. That's the honest truth, it was such an honor to be at this conference with them. If you'd like to see the photo galleries from the conference, please click here.

Fun little Challenge for YOU: I found myself in 6 pictures (use the link above), if you can find all 6 and identify the photo number I'll send the first 3 people a little fun prize. Please send me an email with your answers. Do not post your findings/answer as a comment because that would give it away!

I couldn't go to DC without doing a bit of sightseeing. Here are the highlights- 

Thomas Jefferson Memorial
Me in front of the Capital

A truly AWEsome sight

World War II Memorial

Another part of the WW2 Memorial

I am filled with gratitude for the experience of this Conference... I have so much more to share with you, my dear patient readers,- all with roots in this Conference. There's time, thankfully, I have time to share it. I'm deeply grateful to be in my 21st month of Remission. If feels a little silly counting the months, but each month- each day- is truly precious. 

Next blog post will be about what OCAF- Memphis is doing for OvCa advocacy in the Teal month of September. (There's LOTS, and you can be a part of it. Yep, you.) 

Friday, July 20, 2012

Eight months ago....

was the last time I wrote on this blog. How did that happen? I can't believe it's been that long... Lots of things have happened in my life since my last post and I just lost track of my blog. Truth is that I needed to step away from such a personal relationship with cancer for awhile. I needed to figure out how to be a positive Voice without reliving the hardships of cancer. I've got 20 months of lovely Remission built up and I'm ready to move forward in a fresh way.

I'm very happy to have found 2 new ways to use my Voice, in addition to this blog, to advocate for ovarian cancer Survivors. I was awarded a scholarship to attend the Ovarian Cancer Alliance Conference in Washington, D.C. last weekend. This year's theme was Poised for Progress, and indeed I am! Going to this conference opened a new world to me- a world of passionate and smart advocacy and beautifully strong Teal Sisterhood.

I'll be sharing pictures, stories and the highlights of what I learned at this amazing Conference in upcoming posts. Meanwhile, feel free to explore on your own- http://www.ovariancancer.org/2012/07/19/ovarian-cancer-national-alliance-hosts-15th-annual-conference-poised-for-progress/

This blog lives again!
And will be getting a face lift very soon... do you have any suggestions? Please leave a comment or send me an email.
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