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Recipe For A Happy Life

So often I’ll hear people complain about various things. And, coming from my perspective, it’s sometimes hard to be empathetic because so much of what “we” (the human race) complain about is small stuff. We spend our days worrying about things that just aren’t significant if you look at the big picture. Let me preface and say I am not a Yoda filled with wisdom, but when you know your days are numbered you really start to look at life from a completely different perspective: one who thinks only of the present moment and sees each day as a gift. That said, I’d thought I’d give my two cents about a recipe for a happy life.  Read more →

Advice for helping a friend with terminal cancer

For almost a year, I’ve been battling appendix cancer. “Battling” is an apt verb to use when referring to cancer. It is a physical and mental fight, and really, if you ask me, it’s more of a mental struggle than anything else. Some say it’s the lonliest battle; it doesn’t have to be, though. That’s up to each individual and how they choose to share their diagnosis. I respect each person’s decision to choose what is right for them. For me, going public and garnering support has helped me immensley this year. I can’t imagine trudging forward any other way.

While I was quite public with my rare cancer, wanting the world to know that appendix cancer exists so that there is more awareness, I kept the fact that I was stage 4 private. Why? Because I knew if that information went public, people would automatically look at me like I was a walking death sentence, and gosh, that’s so bad for one’s morale. I remember someone asking me (people get real funny with their impertinence) what stage I was. And, I skirted the issue, saying, “What does stage matter?” Because, at the time, I didn’t want this acquaintance to know my secret because I knew his reaction would be the look I was dreading: head tilted to the side, the cancer whisper voice and words of pity. Nope, not for me!

I’ll often have people saying that they don’t know what to say to me. There is not a manual out there for this, but I thought, well, gee, I’m a writer, certainly I can offer some sage advice on how to talk to people who are terminal. The irony is, we’re all terminal: we just don’t know what our time-frame is. But for me, I have an idea of how long I have left to grace this land, which is a blessing and, well, it’s not. Sometimes it’s really annoying and upsetting to know I won’t get to grow old with my husband.

We, all of us, are going to die one day. People get funny when the topic of death is broached. I often make jokes about my prognosis because that is who I am, and sometimes, people can’t handle it. That’s their issue. I’m living my truth, and part of keeping my sanity is my sense of humor. I had great examples growing up: my parents were the epitome of grace, love, and laughing when all else fails. What wonderful examples to give me as I move forward.

If you know someone who has been diagnosed with terminal cancer, there are things you can do to help. For one, please, please, for the love of all things holy, do not offer them advice on alternative treatments. IE) Drinking vitamin water or eating grass pooped on by sacred donkeys. Sarcasm. But you wouldn’t believe what kind of messages my husband and I received after I went public with my prognosis. Here’s why it’s so upsetting: if I had wanted the advice, I would have asked for it. And, I consider myself to be a fairly intelligent woman who researched the crap out of this cancer. Heck, I went to THE Specialists for my rare cancer. So, for unsolicited advice to come my way, well it made it seem like I was a quitter and wasn’t smart enough to do my own research. I’m sure there is no harm meant in people offering their opinions, but not every cancer is the same and not every alternative treatment works. Respect the person with cancer and know that if they want your advice, they will ask for it.

Continue to treat the person like you would if they weren’t terminal. I can’t tell you how much I love the fact that sometimes my husband and I quarrel – over stupid stuff, of course. But, it makes me feel like I’m normal. I’ll often have friends say “I’m so afraid I’ll say the wrong thing.” There are no right words; there are right actions. Just be there for them. Make plans with them to do something. Stop by and visit. Text. Call. That’s more medicinal for the soul than anything else.

Some people in my life can’t deal with my diagnosis. Quite frankly, it’s frustrating, because, hey, I’m the one dealing with this and I’m dealing with it quite well. I’m at peace. So, everyone else around me should be, too. If you have a friend in a similar situation, pull yourself up by your boot straps and slap yourself silly into a state of acceptance, because not being there because of your own issues isn’t going to help. Thankfully, I’ve been blessed in the friends and loved ones department. I might have the crappiest cells on the planet, but I’ve sure been blessed with beautiful people in my life, and for me, that has made things all the sweeter.

It’s okay to broach the subject with your friend. If they are open to talking about it, let them. It’s therapeutic for both of you. Know that just by listening, you are giving them a gift. I can’t tell you how much it means to me to have people in my life treating me with respect and offering me support just by being there.

This is just my opinion, and I can only tell you what’s been helpful for me. But, I wanted to write something because I felt compelled to help should you ever have a friend in a similar situation. My hope is that one day, cancer won’t exist. That it’ll be a disease of the past. It’s an ugly disease that affects beautiful souls. That we all know is true. And while most of us laymen (who aren’t medical specialists) can’t offer up a cure, we can offer what we have: a kind and caring heart to those who need it most.

 

 

 

The Power of Positivity

Everyone has advice. We’re all full of it. When people find out I have cancer, they’re apt to offer me their sage recommendation. “My Aunt Sallie ate peanut butter every day and beat cancer.” Or, “If you drink National Park water blessed by sacred buffalo, you’re gonna beat this.” Sarcasm here. The point is, I’ve heard it all – not to the extent I used as examples – but plenty of people have offered me their advice on how I can beat cancer. I’m here to tell you, if there was a cure, the secret would be out, and cancer would be obliterated! Kapow!

I remember when I was first diagnosed, I researched everything under the sun to see what could help me, and you know what, there’s a bunch of malarkey out there. Say what? The internet has unfounded information. No, it can’t be!

Anyway, that type of researching stopped, because it was fruitless. We, each of us, is unique, and what may help one person won’t help another, and some of the suggestions out there are ridiculous notions offered by some troll sitting in his basement trying to make a buck.

So, I changed my focus to how can I help myself while battling this pesky creature. The answer for me is to stay optimistic and positive. I do this by exercising (only when I feel like it, because gosh some days are hard), posting gratitude messages daily on social media (Let’s be honest, isn’t it a relief to see an uplifting message because social media is a cesspool of negativity?), and I surround myself (not in the physical sense – thank you very much, Covid-19) with positive people who are uplifting. At times, that means pulling a Godfather and blocking telephone numbers and negative people on social media because they are spreading bad energy my way. (Yeah, like telling me to enjoy my life while I can, or telling me how bad I look – you know, those kind of sweet nothings.).

I’ll admit, it’s hard to stay positive sometimes. Hey, I’m human; I have my moments when I mope. I allow myself some time to wallow, then I pull myself up by my bootstraps and greet the day with gratitude. I know if I spend too much time focusing on the bad, I won’t ever get out of that slump. I know at one point when I was feeling less than grateful, I was resentful that unhealthy people who abuse their bodies seemed to live long lives, then I slapped myself silly for thinking that way because that is a negative way to think. That’s like asking, “Why me?” And, cancer doesn’t pick and choose people like kids at recess. It just happens – sometimes randomly, sometimes because of genetics. And how we deal with the c-word illustrates our character.

Every single time I visit the Cancer Center (my new second home), I smile (under my mask) at everyone and greet people with pep in my voice and extend them loving kindness because I feel an instant bond with my fellow cancer peeps. Some of them return the smile,  while others are too immersed in their resentment of their diagnosis to recognize that they have an opportunity to greet a stranger (me) with a smile and make their own day brighter as well as mine. And I feel sorry for the curmudgeons because they are missing a moment to feel happiness. They’re like the guy at infusion who talked about how awful radiation is. Geez, I could write an essay on how crappy chemo is, but what purpose would that serve? And, how does that mentally help me face the next round? It doesn’t. Complaining never did anyone any good. So, each time I have infusion, I tell myself, I’m getting medicine to help me, and I’m going to be waited on hand and foot by caring nurses and have an opportunity to read and watch TV without interruption. I actually call it my Spa Day. (It’s a good mental game play on words).

But, alas, this should be a rule for all of us – not just us cancer peeps. We, all of us, should look at a situation and seek the good within the bad. Everyone faces challenges. I like to think of heroes of mine who overcame obstacles: Ruth Bader Ginsburg, John McCain, my own father… All of them had the heart of a warrior.

If you have cancer, know that it’s okay to give yourself time to grieve, but then move on from that and focus on what blessings you have in your life. And, if that’s a challenge, start small. Find one good thing in your life. There’s always something. For example, you have electricity – that’s something to be grateful for! You’ll find that each day you seek the goodness, it reveals itself to you and causes you to focus more on the silver linings instead of what is broken.

So, today, I write imploring you to think of one thing you are grateful for. I am willing to bet you will find plenty. Life, itself, is a blessing. And, you, whether you know it or not, are a blessing to someone.

 

 

 

 

 

Having Cancer

Having cancer is a lonely experience. The diagnosis is a battle, both mental and physical. I equate it to a boxing match. You’ve got Mickey, Apollo Creed and Rocky cheering you on, telling you to chase the chickens and punch the punching bag, but once you’re in the ring, you’ve got to win this fight on your own.
Read more →

It’s All In Your Mindset

Ever met a positive person who seems to find the silver lining in all situations, despite the adversity facing them? If you have, I bet you cling to them. I know I do. Why wouldn’t we, right?

I’m currently reading The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor, which focuses on (in case you haven’t already guessed) happiness. In The Happiness Advantage, Achor discusses a great many things about how we can be happier individuals, but one tidbit that stood out for me was our mindset and facing adversity. We all have had trials and tribulations – some more tragic than others. How we deal with them is how we differ as human beings. If we look at the challenge we’re facing as an opportunity, we’re more likely to be happy. Simple, yes. But how many of us fall into that trap of the  “whoa is me” mindset when something isn’t going our way?

As I drove in my car the other day thinking about adversity and overcoming it, the first person who came to my mind was my father. His attitude toward life was always positive. He saw a rainbow when there was rain. The man appreciated life. Anyone who knew him can attest to his friendliness and zest for life.

Many, many years ago, Dad was a state trooper, protecting and serving the fine citizens of the Sunshine state. One fateful day, Dad had a near-tragic accident while in the line of duty. The accident left him in a coma for three months and with a brain injury. Doctors speculated he’d never walk or talk again. The outlook wasn’t optimistic. But they didn’t know my dad. They didn’t know that he was determined and saw it as a challenge he wanted to overcome.

He spent more than a year in rehabilitation, learning to walk again, to talk again, to do all of the daily things he needed to survive. These are things we don’t often think about because we have them within our grasp and take them for granted. But, unfortunately, when something of meaning to us is taken from us, our focus changes,  and we fully appreciate what it was to us and yearn for whatever was lost to come back.

My dad proved his doctors wrong. He walked and talked and did all of the things they said he wouldn’t ever do again. He was never completely whole again, but he never saw himself that way. None of us did. He saw it as a second chance. Think of all the people you know who have had near-death experiences, some of them might have a new, improved outlook on life. True story: our time here is limited and it’s up to us to live it to the fullest. We can either focus on what we don’t have or appreciate what we’ve been given. 

(This picture was taken about 15 years after my dad’s accident.)

I once asked my dad if he regretted the accident, and his response to me was, “I would have never met your mother and had you kids if I hadn’t had the accident.” (That’s another beautiful story to share at another time). His response to adversity: see it as an opportunity for something great to come. And with that attitude, he lived a full life the remaining years he was blessed to be on this planet.

Grief – an unfortunate part of life…

Grief. There’s nothing good about it, Charlie Brown. Death is a sad (heartbreaking) but true aspect of life. With life comes loss. With happiness comes sadness. Blah, blah, blah. Those Zen philosophical mantras aren’t comforting during the grieving process. It’s easier to say these things than to go through the experience. Words are just words, aren’t they? We all know that death is a part of life, yet when that moment happens, when the person we love passes, we find it’s pretty darn hard to cope. (Ask me how many times I’ve broken down into tears). We all cope differently. There’s those five stages everyone talks about, but things just don’t happen in life that way. Nope. I know I didn’t follow the rulebook on those stages. Matter of fact, I think I went from denial straight to anger then to bargaining, and then the ultimate sadness kicked in. It hit me: she was gone and wasn’t ever coming back. Read more →

Don’t Talk, I Love You is now available for purchase!

It’s release day! Here’s the link to buy Don’t Talk, I Love You: goo.gl/uaTFiL  If you’re a Kindle Unlimited subscriber, you can grab it for free!

Kindle Press didn’t select me. No worries, though. I’m happy I tried it (What’s life without risks, right?), that it was viewed by new potential readers, and that it stayed on the “hot list” for 1/3 of a time:) — that’s all because of you!!! To everyone who nominated it, thank you so much!  Side note: Writing this book was one of the most enjoyable experiences of my writing career. I’ve never laughed so hard while writing:)

Synopsis: Recent college graduate Hadley Echols finally has a job. Her first priority – find an affordable place to live. She thinks it’s hopeless until she sees an ad that at first seems like a joke: “THREE MONKS SEEK ROOMMATE.” She doesn’t know anything about monks, only that her new roomies are on a vow of silence and only communicate via text. Then there’s the slight problem of her finding one of them irresistible. To make matters worse, her new boss might be Satan incognito and her ex-flame is back.

 

Top 5 Non-Fiction Reads

I’ve read so much women’s fiction and YA lately, and I needed a break. Not that there is anything wrong with those genres, because I love them, but I missed non-fiction. I used to read it all the time when I was in college. Read more →

Roller Skating – a Metaphor for Life

I used to roller skate. What child of the 70s and 80s doesn’t know how? Actually, I was surprised to find there are quite a few people my age who’ve never been roller skating. How did they miss out on this while growing up? Didn’t their school have a “Skate Night?” Didn’t they skate while listening to tunes on their walkman? I know I did. Read more →

Insta-love

I read so many reviews where readers feel very strongly (and that is putting it mildly) about insta-love. So, what do you think? Do you hate it? Love it? Or, are you indifferent? Read more →