#CycleofJoy 3

It’s #CycleofJoy day and today even I had to dig a little deeper – it happens.  Shit happens.


I am finding it though in small pieces.

Cycle of Joy - Dance it Out.

Cycle of Joy – Dance it Out.

#CycleOfJoy 2

Every Tuesday I create a photo treasure as I call them and I share them all over social media because this is a new project I am working on and it is near and dear to my heart as I share my #cycleofjoy with everyone and hopefully help people find their own.


Open the window and open your heart.

Open the window and open your heart.

Surviving My Genius

Surviving my genius is not easy.  I am NOT saying I am a genius – what I am saying is that I have a genius.  Of course, she is female and she is real.

There is another very real essence that comes to all of us, I just happen to see it (yes it is an “it”) as a shapeless bundle of atoms that comes together in high energy colors, shoots lightning bolts out of it’s eyes and fingertips and usually sits on the top of my monitor or the edge of my desk.  Meet Idea.  We all get them and when we don’t act on them or feel the sting of their lightning bolts they will eventually disappear and go bug someone else.

Today my Genius met Idea and the collision resulted in a Genius Idea, what else were you expecting?

Back in December I was playing on Facebook in one of those “where will you, what will you, what is” games and this one was my word for 2016.  I played it and my word is Joy.  What?  Wait!  How did the universe know this?  I love to spread Joy, but more than that I collect and gift people with bookmarks with the name Joy on them.  I go into souvenir shops and buy all of them and then I give them away.  I want my friends to have joy every day.  I posted the results and I added a hash tag, #cycleofjoy.  Today I registered that hash tag, I added it into my Twitter profile, I have it all over Facebook because my Genius collided with Idea and #cycleofjoy was born.



Every Tuesday morning I will post a photo with a joyful, inspiring thought on every piece of social media I rent (remember we never own our social media except for email newsletters and blogs).  Every Tuesday morning I will post it here too and it will be the first time in a long time that my posts will not start with the word “Surviving”.

As I thought about this and registered my hash tag I reached out to women I want to speak with about this movement because my Genius told me this is a movement, and a place I want to be in and participate in for as long as I possibly can.

We cannot act on every idea that perches on our monitors or sits on our desks but every now and then your Genius may appear and push you into action.  I would like to thank my Genius and thank Idea for what you brought to me and what will go out to others.

New category #CycleofJoy go peek.



Surviving 23 Years Later


Finish Line Boogie

Finish Line Boogie

Surviving – we all do it.  We survive so many different things in our lives.  Today is October 31.  It’s Halloween and we won’t be home for the kids tonight as we are on vacation this year.  What doesn’t take a vacation is breast cancer, or for that matter any type of cancer, and this is also the last day of #Pinktober and I am inspired to write.

I just started my 23rd year of thriving after walking through the flames of the pink fire too many of us have had to walk through.  Many of us made it and the extinguished the flames, others did not.

I had what is called survivor’s guilt for quite a while.  I couldn’t understand why I made it through and others, with a similar diagnosis and stage of breast cancer did not.  I vividly remember the day Linda McCartney died – it was April of 1998 and I was 5 years out of treatment.  My caring Oncologist called me on the phone that afternoon to ask me how I was doing.  She knew that many of her patients were feeling like I did, stunned and in disbelief.  Same diagnosis, same treatment, same treatment plan after diagnosis, she died, we lived.  Why?

When I was first diagnosed I was living alone in Richmond, VA., and my work took me all over the country to of all places, different hospitals.  I was a corporate consultant for a huge hospital chain and it was my job to find errors within individual hospitals.  When the call came that my mammogram was highly suspicious for breast cancer I returned home immediately.  After being diagnosed and getting all scheduled for surgery and post-op treatment I had time to try to find answers as to why I had breast cancer.

Did I get it because I chased the mosquito spray trucks down the road as a child?  Evidence showed that DDT binds to fat cells in our bodies, and our breasts are filled with fat cells.  Did I get it because I would run into the shoe department at Sears Roebuck and put my feet into the machine that actually x-rayed my feet in my shoes.  As I bent over to look at my feet my chest was also in the field of x-rays and my brother and I put our feet in that machine all the time.  Thank you Buster Brown and your dog Tag.  Did I get it because some of my family is from Eastern Europe and Jewish?  Genetic testing later told me I was negative for the BRCA genes but there are other genetic markers still undiscovered.

I made an appointment with an Episcopal priest to discuss with him a book I read at the time.  I searched and searched for the title of this book to no avail today.  It was co-authored by a surgeon and a priest and they discussed medical reasons and religious beliefs about cancer.  I wanted to discuss this more.  We talked over tea, and I left with no definitive answers but it gave me that moment we all go through.  He and I prayed together and of course I bargained with God promising to do better, be better and always be there for other people in breast cancer.

My own Oncologist told me my cancer was very slow growing and possibly had been in my breast for 10 years.  He asked me what happened in my life 10 years ago.  As I told him my story of of my marriage, my children, death and destruction and more, he just looked at me with one of those “well it’s possible” looks on his face.

It’s my 23rd year – and I like the number 23.  Michael Jordan wore it and I saw him play many times when I lived in Chicago.  LeBron James wears it, and he is my star athlete, plays for my hometown team, the Cleveland Cavaliers.  I think I may wear it myself this year because this is the year I sit down and write my story.  You know that God promise I made – well I was called on to deliver on it almost immediately, and I answered the call to deliver over and over wondering when it would be my turn to heal.  Now in looking back I realize that was my healing time, that was my mission, I promised to pay it forward, and I still do.

Today a friend from Facebook, whom I have yet to meet, re-posted a blog I wrote about her biopsy last year.  Her name is Patti Hughes and my plan is to meet her and sit down with her because she honors me every year when she shares one of my two articles about her and her dear friend, Patty who did not make it through the pink flames as a thriver.  This is the year I write my feelings, the year I talk to others, the year I travel back in time and open the door to many things some people will not like that I feel all played a part in this whole number 23 experience.

Thank you Patti Hughes and thank you readers for supporting me here, and on my Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/afterbreastcancerrevivingsurvivingthriving

Come visit the page, it’s a safe page, no selling, just inspirations and thoughts.

Now did you have your mammogram this year?  Did your wife, girlfriend, mother, sister, and any other female in your life?  Just for the record my husband had 4 mammograms for a lump that turned out to be just fine.  Early detection – our only protection.



Patti and Patty friends forever.

Patti and Patty friends forever.

I wear this to remind others.

I wear this to remind others.

Surviving Forgiving and Moving On

Surviving, forgiving and moving on is a topic that is near and dear to my heart because as I get older I realize how important it is to forgive people and move on past them.  I know that the reason to forgive anyone is for me, not for them.  The most amazing blessing that comes from forgiving – when it is done with peace and conviction that person no longer can tug at my heart strings which means your heart strings are safe too.

Years ago I wrote a letter to my breast cancer forgiving it for coming into my body.

There is forgiveness that has happened that I have been totally unaware of until one day when I thought about these people nothing hurt.  My heartstrings were not twinging.  The former best friend who preferred the bubbly in a bottle to true friendship, the narcissistic business partner who dissolved our partnership on a cruise ship in the middle of the ocean, the bully, the ex-lover who showered me with gifts of a particular perfume and broke my heart and then wrote a novel in which is main female character wears the same perfume (that one made me smile).

I don’t want these people in my life, would never want them back, they brought pain but when I realized the pain was gone I had gratefulness to them because I can pick these people out of a crowd now and avoid anyone even resembling their persona.

I had to learn emotional self-defense mechanisms and one of the first things is that I had to be more choosy with the people I trust with my head and heart.  I also went back to the theory of like attracting like and I really looked for people whose mind and spirit were like mine.  If/when someone makes my hairs stand on end I back off.  I have been fooled, and it will happen again.  However I am more in tune now and fooling me is a little more difficult.

I was watching the TV show “The Good Wife” and Peter said “You are being used.”  Alicia said “Who isn’t.”

There will always be users in my life, in your life too.  Set boundaries.  I do.  You know when someone wants something and it’s OK as long as all eyes remain wide open and we all get something in return.

I ask for something in return most of the time.  A friend recommended me to be a mentor in a startup incubator program, I asked them to refer me some paying clients too.  A friend asked me to do all the social media for a big charity event, I asked for acknowledgement in the program.  Even my wonderful husband asks for things and we bargain nicely.  Nothing should ever be one-sided.

I also realized that the happier I was the easier it was to move on, obviously holding onto hateful thoughts and wanting revenge will always be roadblocks on the highway to forgiveness.

Also in forgiving people you find you don’t allow them to rent space in your head any more.

I also had some help along the way.  My wonderful husband would listen and occasionally render an opinion, but it was the listening that really mattered.  The truly good friends I have now are the kind of friends I always wanted.  They are reliable.  I have an amazing career I love.  I don’t have a “real job” I have a real career.  Forgiveness opened my heart and my eyes.  I no longer take just any client, there has to be a good fit and they have to understand boundaries.  This is only part of the reward system I get from giving forgiveness.  When I let go of the ugly really good things started to happen.  It does work.

I do know and understand that there may be somethings in life so tragic forgiveness is way out there and unattainable or so I thought.  Then I remembered that I am forgiving for my inner peace, not their inner peace.  I am forgiving for myself and moving on – and that’s how I do it.

That and one last thing – advice from my cancer surgeon who always tells people to put things/people/happenings in a balloon and float them out of your life.


Let it go, be happy, forgive, move on.

Let it go, be happy, forgive, move on.


Surviving Letting Go of Our Dog Taffy



It has been a year tomorrow that we had to let our boy cross over.  He had been struggling with a cough that we could never seem to get diagnosed properly.  We tried everything.  We tried different vets and he was misdiagnosed.  He was also put on meds that he did not need.  We were overcharged for these meds by a mobile vet we tried.  Sadly we know it was her lack of good care, her misdiagnosis, that shortened Taffy’s life and caused him to die in a horrible way.  At the very end he was drowning in his own fluids.

I don’t know why I never finished this blog.  In fact I did not realize I had not finished it until now.  Sweet Taffy, our little boy, is in a box on top of our entertainment unit where he looks down on us all the time.  We feel his spirit.  We hear the sound his tiny feet made running on our tile floors.  We see him out in the back yard.

Today I thought about how dogs are genetically bred to go absolutely nuts everytime we leave and come home.  In my opinion there is no better way to be greeted coming into a house than by a dog who goes nuts over and over again.

This has been a terribly sad week for Larry and I knowing that tomorrow we will re-live letting him go.

We had gone to Orlando to visit family.  All three of our little ones were in their hotel/spa back home.  We came to pick them up and they told us Taffy had been having a rough time.  We knew he had been getting worse.  We came into the house, and it was apparent Taffy was in respiratory distress.  Larry took him into the shower and let the steam build up as he had done before.  His cough was not much better after this treatment.

I had a business appointment and when I came home an hour later I knew immediately that we were losing him.  I walked in and this sweet boy was walking around with his neck hyperextended trying to get relief.  It looked like he was trying to swallow air.  I looked at Larry and I said “Vet-now”.  They tried everything.  They had him on 100% O2 and I am not sure what else they tried.  Dr Dave was talking to us when the tech came in to call him out, and I knew the time had come.

Dr Dave came back in and told us it was time, we knew that, it helped to have an expert validate it though and they brought our boy in, laid him in Larry’s lap and we got to spend some time loving him and telling him what he meant to us.  After that it was time for the IV and the medication to let him cross over.  It was without a doubt the most difficult thing Larry and I have had to do in our marriage.  Everyone left the room – we had privacy to hold him and love him even more.  Then he was wrapped in a soft blanket and taken from our arms.


The Blog I Could Not Finish


Surviving letting go of  our dog Taffy, our special boy dog (with the girl’s name) seems impossible.  I walk through my daily routine and things seem normal then in less than a second I feel as if the wind has been knocked out of my chest.  Overwhelming sadness blankets me and I find it difficult to breathe.

Larry, big strong Larry, whom I nicknamed “Bear” is a puddle of tears.

We are consumed with sadness.  Sometimes we can’t move.  It is like we are frozen.  We see him everywhere, we hear him, we feel him, we want him back.

Larry and I had only been married a short while when I told him I wanted a dog.  The look that came over his face was one of “Oh shit”.  However, Larry is very good to me, and when I explained why the search for the perfect dog began.

We went to pet stores, we visited in rooms with dogs, but nothing clicked.  I would scan the ads in the Chicago Tribune and not find what we were looking for, until one Sunday an ad was there that caught our attention.  I called the number and I was assured that all the dogs that were there had been bred by the owner.  The name of this kennel was Canine Club near Joliet, IL.

We made an appointment and off we went in Larry’s brand new Dodge Durango.

The place was huge, lots of green grass, and a big barn with puppies.  One after another were brought out, but none that we saw tugged at our heartstrings.  The owner said she had “one more dog” and she carried out this little tan fur bundle and it was love at first sight.  What an adorable little curly haired mess he was and we signed the papers and wrote out the check.  We named him Taffy our sweet little Lhasa Poo, and the love of our lives.

Little did we know we had saved his life that day.

We stopped on the way home at a Farm and Fleet to pick up some compost fencing, a cage, food, supplies and remember that brand spanking new Dodge Durango?  Taffy puked all over the seat and carpeting and I thought this would really upset Larry.  It didn’t upset him at all.  What a guy!

We brought him home and put him outside to start the housebreaking habit, Larry sat in a chair and I picked Taffy up and put him on his chest.  Taffy became Larry’s dog from that moment on, they bonded.

Several weeks went by and our local NBC news channel carried an investigative story about Canine Club.  It seemed that they had been adopting out sick dogs.  Dogs with parvo.  Dogs were dying.  They also had lied to us, they were not breeding dogs, they brought them in from puppy mills all over the midwest.  The reporter went on to say that they were putting puppies down at 4 months old because they were too old for many people to adopt.  Taffy was turning 4 months old when we adopted him.  We saved his life.

Taffy was a very good dog.  He never bit anyone, he never snarled or snapped.  He thought everyone who came to our house, came to see him.  He loved everyone.  He especially loved children.  He could walk on his hind legs.  He smiled like Elvis, one lip up, and he charmed everyone in his world.

18 months later we went to the pet store for supplies and sitting in a cage was a little blonde Lhasa-Poo named Corky, and once Larry got my attention away from a black Pomeranian Taffy and I were looking at, papers were signed and Taffy had a buddy.

They were the best friends.  Where one was, the other was.  They would lie back to back and sleep.  This time Larry did not “steal” my puppy and Corky came to me more, but his personality was different and he did not need to be with people all the time.  To this day he is still a loner at times, but as sweet and loving as they come.

Larry was getting rid of his Durango so we took it to the dealer and while we


Surviving That Decision re: Hiring a Coach

Yes, today’s blog is about surviving that decision re: hiring a coach.  Things are out of sync, your business is stagnant, your love life is non-existant, something is wrong and you just cannot put your finger on it.  This happens to all of us and we all need help from time to time to get in sync, to be refreshed, to have love in our life and to be at peace.

Once Upon A Time

Once upon a time we called it “therapy”.  No one knew what coaching was outside sports.  Many times we just needed to sit down and talk to someone other than our best friend (who is always going to agree with us).  Back in the day our insurance companies even paid for our talk sessions.

That was then, this is now and coaching is the new talk session.  Believe me I have nothing against hiring a coach.  I know there are incredible coaches in this world.  Some people call them advisors – many people have them right up to every President of the United States if we think of it that way.  How many of us have financial advisors?  Many of us have a religious advisor, our priests, our ministers, our rabbis, and many more.

We have all had coaches in our life before the term became a buzz work for talk sessions and problem solving.

The ONLY thing that doesn’t sit well with me is the fact that anyone can call themselves a coach, hang a shingle, print some business cards and voila they are a coach.

I am sure that there are some people who are natural born coaches, but I do not think they are born every day.  If you have made the decision to coach with someone then there are some things to consider.

I took this list right off Vickie Champion’s website:


Vickie gives you both the pros and cons of situations and clearly explains what a good coach will do for you.  She has years of experience that make her a coach that is in high demand.  Her website truly spells out for you ALL the things you should be looking for in a coach as well as all the questions you should be asking.

If checking Vickie out doesn’t appeal to you then here are some steps you can take on your own to find a great coach.

  • Totally check them out.  Google their name.  Ask them to tell you what makes them a great coach.  Hey why not?  It’s your money you know.  You are hiring them- ask for that resume’.  Ask for references.  Again, why not?  They are going to work for you.  Check out the BBB and Ripoff Report, see if anyone has complained.  Google their name with the words “complaints about _________________”.  Ask where they “learned” to be a coach.  There are coaching programs, so ask.
  • If you feel that you are being pressured to hire someone take a breath and back off.  Never hire someone/anyone who pressures you.
  • Watch out for those lump sum up front fees.  In my work in social media I am on a lot of webinars and they always end with a “coaching package” priced at a ridiculously low amount.  Some are worth it, some are not.  Be careful.  If there is a contract involved be triple careful. Signing a confidentiality agreement is an absolute, signing an agreement to coach on a repetitive basis for a certain amount of time is not.  What if the coaching sessions are not working out?  Pay as you go is a much better way to do things.
  • Ask for testimonials and if they don’t look right to you they might not be so maybe you should look elsewhere.
  • Watch out for the upsells.  If you attend a meeting for example, and you are offered a “free 20 minute consult on coaching” you are going to be sold to, that’s how we all do business.  There is nothing wrong with this, just be aware that with the free comes the upsell.
  • Coaching is not therapy.  If you need therapy, you need to hire someone with a license to practice it.  They have the educational background to help you, in many cases, maybe most cases, a coach doesn’t have this background.
  • Trust your gut when you interview people, and yes I said “interview people”.  If you are looking for a coach you should be interviewing more than one.
  • You should also compare apples and apples so to speak into how much the coaching sessions cost.  The most expensive won’t always be the best, and likewise.
  • Here is one final HUGE piece of advice – do NOT hire someone you know personally as in friendship, to coach you or anyone you love.  It would be difficult to be honest on your part and when you are honest you may have feelings of regret.  You want a totally unbiased stranger in your corner.

There you go – I am pro-coaching.  I am about picking the right person to help you, someone you can trust.  Do your homework.  It’s your money, your life, you are the boss.  Remember that – you are the boss.

This paragraph was written by a coach I know well – she has been trained as a coach and her words really resonated with me today:

“Credentials and experience are vital. National standards for health and wellness coaching have been developed and are now being rolled out, with quite a high level of training required. Many coaching schools will be revising curriculums to meet these standards (nccwh.org) that have been developed over the last 5 years. The standards were published in May in the Global Advances in Health and Medicine Journal, a peer-reviewed journal. To the question you first posed, in coaching it is important that people understand the roles of the coach and the client in these relationships because coaching is relatively new in the public domain (though I’ve been teaching and coaching for Wellcoaches for nearly 12 years). Numerous organizations like the ICF, and the Institute of Coaching at Harvard are ensuring we have evidence based answers to be a professional in this relatively new profession.” ~ Pam S.