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.
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.
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.
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 – 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.
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.
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
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 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.
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.
Surviving the mean girls is a lifelong experience. Those bratty little girls you knew in elementary school became more bratty in junior and senior high school. They morphed into “sweet” sorority girls in college and possibly put their meanness on hold in marriage and motherhood. That’s only temporary. They just had distractions from their main purpose in life for a while, that being mean.
There is no doubt in my mind that they are not born mean, they learn it. Just like you have to teach children to be hateful, you have to teach them to be mean. Maybe they were not taught in the form of having actual lessons, it is possible they learned as a defense mechanism to someone being mean to them, and it snowballed into a lifestyle.
When they are young their meanness shows – it is front and center and obvious. As they get older they hang in packs of meanness. Eventually they realize meanness should not be front and center and they hide it behind smiles, laughter, flattery and other false methods and many times you don’t see it until it is too late. When it comes out you feel like you were hit by a taser gun. You never really see it coming at you – as in directly at you. You may have seen it directed at others, you may have accepted it in them because the meanie uses smiles, laughter, flattery etc to move your thoughts into a new dimension.
“I was only kidding/teasing/I didn’t mean it/it was a joke.” They were not kidding, teasing, they meant it, and it wasn’t a joke.
I read a wonderful article this week that a friend passed on to me on Facebook. It is about how bullying doesn’t end as we age. It doesn’t. Worse yet is now that we have the internet and social media it is so easy to bully people from behind a keyboard. We have all seen it.
The article I am referring to is:
It is really a very good article and not deep or disturbing.
Surviving the mean girls means identifying them first. We all get fooled. Many times we don’t see them for who they are, and by the time we do it is often too late and we feel the emotional pain of what being pommeled on the playground must feel like physically.
The beauty of being “older” is we know we would be arrested if we bitch slap them so instead we ask around. We vet them after the fact and we always find people who have also been pommeled.
What I have noticed though is those of us who have been pommeled are speaking up and speaking out. We are not just taking it any longer. Remember this, when someone is being mean to you, they are also being mean to others. Just this week I learned that a mean girl I know is “on the local news” so to speak. Her meanness is out and this alone will take some victims out of her path. It works that way for all of us because once we ID the mean girl we take some of their power away.
The largest lesson I have learned in all of this is going back to what I said. It is never just you, other people are being pommeled too. I just sat back and listened and in conversations little nuances would come out. You can do this too. No names should ever be mentioned, that would be mean. Allow others to share their circumstances and you may start to see similarities and pretty soon a pattern will emerge. Age does have it’s privilege or maybe it comes from watching cop shows on TV, but at least once you know that you are not alone you are empowered.
Let’s stamp out mean girls!
Surviving those who just don’t do the right thing takes patience because your first urge is to smack someone, or to yell at them, or tell the world about them but you can survive the urge to do all these things because once you cool down, you will do the right thing.
Don’t be a victim. This is key to getting past the all those urges and actually have peace so let’s talk about getting to that place of peace.
First of all we cannot expect people to act the way we would act. I recently had a client that no matter how hard I tried to please, it did not work. I offered a refund of 50% of the monthly fees and we both agreed that it was a fair amount to refund. Last week I got two referrals from this client. I did the right thing. Lesson here: when you do right by a client more business will come to you.
There are always going to be situations in our lives where we feel we should be compensated fairly and in reality both sides of any disagreement should be discussed and an agreement should be reached. When this doesn’t happen you may have been left with a very bad taste in your mouth. Resolving issues in an agreeable manner is always the best way to go.
Giving good customer service is vital these days. You see complaints all the time. Social media makes it very easy to launch a complaint war and if this happens to you guess what happens? You won’t win. PR companies know this, that is why they call it crisis management.
If you don’t do the right thing an elephant has now entered the room. It will sit on your chest and make it very difficult for you to breathe. You will always be looking for that next shoe to drop, that next complaint to happen, that next person who gives you that look. You know that look – it says they have heard that you did not do the right thing.
This world is very small. Ugly doesn’t take long to make the rounds. Most big corporations understand this and they make ugly go away. Smaller business owners need to pay attention. Give bad service, word gets out. Treat someone poorly, word gets out. Don’t do the right thing, word gets out.
Remember that game, telephone? You would say something and it would get repeated to many other’s ears and what came out at the end was not what you first said, right? Well same thing happens when the word gets out. The story does get distorted and it can get ugly.
Do the right thing up front. Otherwise karma will visit you in the form of an elephant, sit on your chest and you won’t be breathing well at all. It is simply the right thing to do – got it? Do the right thing. Oh and if you are guilty of not doing the right thing, fix it as soon as you can before the elephant leaves you a big smelly pile of ugly.