A wise and beautiful Evolutionary Astrologer, Kristin Fontana, once told me, “You must share your stories.” I didn’t think that was such a good idea, and to be honest, the idea of it scares the bejesus out of me even now. Mainly because I have always chosen to write about the good in the world, about the everyday heroes who fight the good fight, who help us find love over fear and who remind us that we are all in this thing called life together. So, what if my life’s stories aren’t that? Well, I guess we are about to find out.
In late January, 2016, I received a clean bill of health from my new Internist and six weeks later on March 4th, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Imagine my surprise! “Biologically you have the best kind of breast cancer you could have.” Basically I was looking at a lumpectomy, some radiation, and Tomoxifin for five years — one and done — easy — everyone made it seem like “cancer lite.” It definitely sucked, but the process was certainly doable and at 48 was told I’d live a long and properous life.
Over the next six weeks, things kept changing however, and by April, post mastectomy, my diagnosis was upgraded sadly to advanced Stage IV breast cancer. My tumor, who I lovingly referred to as Trudy, had jumped the fence and had taken up residence in my sternum. They told me my disease was treatable and manageable, but not curable.
Did you know that human cells are meant to survive 20-30 years, some even less? We are living longer than we ever have before and so our cells need to regenerate. But with each regeneration there is a chance for mutation. These mutated cells are cancer cells. Thus, we all have cancer cells in us, it’s just a matter of what triggers them. Some will be triggered by environmental issues, others genetics, some mental or emotional stresses. There’s also food, medication, you name it — so many potential triggers. So what was mine?
Growing up I was raised with the notion that disease is simply DIS-EASE in the body, physical manifestations of the fear in your mind and the places in your life that need to be healed. For example: if I had hip issues it was because I was fearful of moving forward, shoulder issues were being fearful of taking on too much responsibility, and cancer, well I was taught that cancer was the complete denial of self.
Holy shit! Could I be completely denying who I am? I didn’t understand. I had worked so hard to embrace myself in all my glory and in all my messy parts, to finally welcome the empath, the intuitive, the healer, and to embrace my spirituality. But was it all too late? This cancer had been growing in my body for eight to ten years before being detected. Statistically speaking, 34% of metastasized breast cancer patients live three years. “What happened to the other 66%,” I asked. And that’s when it hit me…this was some
serious shit. But three years? Oh hell no! Frankly, I’m on the 30-year plan and I’m having t-shirts made that read “I am not a statistic.”
So how am I doing with this, really? Well, first, I made my peace with it by embracing the belief that we are all terminal, none of us knows when our time will be up, and that really, I’m no different from anybody else. Second, I cry. I cry at the thought of not hugging my husband good morning or kissing my daughters good night, and I cry for the legion of beautiful souls I love and would leave behind on earth. I let the intense emotions move through me now rather than bottling them up inside. And lastly, I made a decision. I have decided that I am not dying of cancer…I am thriving with cancer! I am not choosing to “do battle,” I am choosing to transform this cancer. I’m transforming it with good modern medicine, healthy plant-based nutrition, and healing energy work. In fact, it has been noted that I seem more alive now than I ever have before.
In truth, Louise Hay, who wrote the book on healing the body with positive affirmation, says that breast cancer has to do with putting other’s needs before your own, being overly motherly and nurturing, or lacking in self care. This, this I can resonate with. Classic female! Giving to others before giving to yourself, and with breast cancer being detected in epidemic proportions, what does this potentially say about our society? It says that we have to find some balance. We need to be able to be mothers, wives, employees and girlfriends, but not give away the farm. We need to be able to give the special people in our lives the space to be themselves. We need to be able to work and play AND take care of our bodies — creating a beautiful relationship between mind, body and spirit.
And there you have it — a story from my life. Perhaps cancer was always meant to be and perhaps this was the story that I was always meant to share. A story to inspire those who are scared and those who cry to find the love over the fear, a story to remind us to celebrate all that is good in our lives even in the face of death, and a story to remind us that we are never alone in this thing called life.
March 4, 2017 at 1:00 am
We’ve all heard the term “fully-functioning person” but what does it actually mean?
Humanist psychologist, Carl Rogers believed that we are all born with an “Actualizing Tendency.” This actualizing tendency is our innate tendency, our core desire, to fulfill all of our needs both physically and mentally, to express our true selves, and most importantly to become all that we are capable of becoming! He said that our personalities were simply an expression of this actualizing tendency.
He went on to say that we are all striving to fully release our actualizing tendency and in order for that to occur, we must experience three things.
The first — “unconditional positive regard.” Unconditional positive regard is a lot like unconditional love, for it is where we are loved by another with no strings or conditions attached, and no matter what we do we still feel respected, comforted and loved. Unconditional positive regard has the ability to change people’s lives and it’s never too late to feel its positive effects.
The second — empathy. Rogers said that people become
more fulfilled by interacting with people who are empathic towards them. People who are sensitive listeners and understanding of another’s true feelings are said to be empathic.
The third — genuineness. Being genuine means being open with your feelings and dropping all pretenses and facades. Rogers felt that we can help others simply by being present for them as the authentic individuals we are.
If our actualizing tendency is fully released, a person is said to be a “fully-functioning person.” A person who is fully functioning is a person who is living in accordance with his or her actualizing tendency — being true to one’s self versus being true to other people’s values or conditions of worth, having their needs met all the way around, and achieving their full potential.
I really resonate with Carl Roger’s work, even though it was ground-breaking over five decades ago. He believed that people are like sunflower seeds…once planted in rich soil and given enough sunshine and water, they will grow into strong and beautiful flowers — that given the right environment all human beings will flourish. (Did you see Trading Spaces with Eddie Murphy?)
Moreover, Rogers believed as I do, that we are all born with natural capacities for growth and fulfillment. I love that he said we were all endowed with an innate sense — basically our gut instinct, our intuition — that allows us to genuinely evaluate what is good or bad for us. I feel we need to remind ourselves that it’s wise to listen to our own internal guidance system. Who better to help navigate our life? Lastly, he validates the theory for me that we are connected when he says we really do need to be loved, liked or accepted by those around us.
So question. Do you help people become fully functioning? Are you an understanding listener? Are you free from pretense and facades with people? What if we gave each other the gifts of positive regard, empathy and genuineness? What if we honestly believed that people could do great things? What do you think would happen? I say let’s try it and find out. Let’s create a rich environment and watch human beings flourish!
December 10, 2015 at 8:07 am
Virtually every reform proposed by President Obama has been blocked by the Republican Congress. The House majority is so dysfunctional that Speaker John Boehner had to fall on his sword simply to get the House to keep the doors of government open and the U.S. from defaulting on its debts. Republicans are now unable to agree upon his successor. They are so practiced in obstruction that they obstruct themselves.
So how does the next Democratic president overcome this? Gerrymandered districts make it very hard for Democrats to take back the majority in the House. What makes change come?
Yes She Can
Clinton’s answer is encapsulated in her response to Anderson Cooper’s question about whether she is a progressive or a moderate:
I’m a progressive. But I’m a progressive who likes to get things done. And I know how to find common ground, and I know how to stand my ground, and I have proved that in every position that I’ve had, even dealing with Republicans who never had a good word to say about me, honestly. But we found ways to work together on everything from reforming foster care and adoption to the Children’s Health Insurance Program…
Clinton offers herself – her experience, her vision, her tenacity – as the difference. This was a consistent theme of her remarks. Her opening featured her commitment to “heal the divides:”
During the course of the evening tonight, I’ll have a chance to lay out all of my plans and the work that I’ve done behind them. But for me, this is about bringing our country together again. And I will do everything I can to heal the divides – the divides economically, because there’s too much inequality; the racial divides; the continuing discrimination against the LGBT community…
And she offered herself as the vehicle for change again in her closing:
What you have to ask yourself is: Who amongst us has the vision for actually making the changes that are going to improve the lives of the American people? Who has the tenacity and the ability and the proven track record of getting that done?
When pressed about why voters should choose an “insider like yourself,” she sounded the same note:
I’m running because I have a lifetime of experience in getting results and fighting for people, fighting for kids, for women, for families, fighting to even the odds. And I know what it takes to get things done. I know how to find common ground and I know how to stand my ground. And I think we’re going to need both of those in Washington to get anything that we’re talking about up here accomplished.
You Know There’s Gonna Be A Revolution
In contrast, Sanders argues that given the corruption of American politics, the only way needed change can come is with a “political revolution.” This theme was central to his argument:
But here’s where I do disagree. I believe that the power of corporate America, the power of Wall Street, the power of the drug companies, the power of the corporate media is so great that the only way we really transform America and do the things that the middle class and working class desperately need is through a political revolution when millions of people begin to come together and stand up and say: Our government is going to work for all of us, not just a handful of billionaires.
Anderson Cooper remarked skeptically, “You don’t hear a lot of Democratic presidential candidates talking about revolution. What do you mean?”
What I mean is that we need to have one of the larger voter turnouts in the world, not one of the lowest. We need to raise public consciousness. We need the American people to know what’s going on in Washington in a way that today they do not know. And when people come together in a way that does not exist now and are prepared to take on the big money interest, then we could bring the kind of change we need.
When asked if Hillary had the “right stuff,” Sanders again argued that it wasn’t about an individual leader:
I think — I think that there is profound frustration all over this country with establishment politics. I am the only candidate running for president who is not a billionaire, who has raised substantial sums of money, and I do not have a super PAC. I am not raising money from millionaires and billionaires, and in fact, tonight, in terms of what a political revolution is about, there are 4,000 house parties — 100,000 people in this country — watching this debate tonight who want real change in this country.
When asked how he could overcome Republican obstruction, Sanders was clear:
The Republican party, since I’ve been in the Senate, and since President Obama has been in office, has played a terrible, terrible role of being total obstructionists. Every effort that he has made, that some of us have made, they have said no, no, no.
Now, in my view, the only way we can take on the right-wing Republicans who are, by the way, I hope will not continue to control the Senate and the House when one of us elected President.
But the only way we can get things done is by having millions of people coming together. If we want free tuition at public colleges and universities, millions of young people are going to have to demand it, and give the Republicans an offer they can’t refuse.
If we want to raise the minimum wage to $15 bucks an hour, workers are going to have to come together and look the Republicans in the eye, and say, “We know what’s going on. You vote against us, you are out of your job.”
And the Senator returned to this theme in his closing:
Now, at the end of our day, here is the truth that very few candidates will say, is that nobody up here, certainly no Republican, can address the major crises facing our country unless millions of people begin to stand up to the billionaire class that has so much power over our economy and our political life.
The Real Deal
Obviously, Sanders call for “political revolution” is alien to beltway politics as usual. Jim Webb expressed the establishment disdain: “I got a great deal of admiration and affection for Senator Sanders, but I – Bernie, I don’t think the revolution’s going to come. And I don’t think the Congress is going to pay for a lot of this stuff.”
Waiting for a political revolution seems a bit like waiting for Godot. But ask yourself, which of these views is more realistic? Clinton’s claim is a less bumptious version of Donald Trump: “Trust me. I know how to do this. I can get this done.” How plausible is it to believe that Clinton’s experience and expertise can enable her to work with Republicans to effect the change we need? We know there are bad deals that can be cut. But real reform?
“Revolution soon come” seems like a fantasy. But Sanders’ view that nothing will change unless people rise up, demand change, go to the polls in large numbers and hold their representatives accountable is compelling. And by not raising money from millionaires and billionaires, by not setting up a super PAC, by raising stunning sums in small donations (nearly $2 million in the hours after the Democratic debate), he isn’t just calling for a popular movement, he is helping to build it.
October 16, 2015 at 3:50 pm
Using film as a catalyst for cultural transformation, The Representation Project inspires individuals and communities to challenge and overcome limiting stereotypes so that everyone, regardless of gender, race, class, age, sexual orientation, or circumstance, can fulfill their human potential.
From the dynamic team that brought you Miss Representation, the film about the media selling the idea that girls’ and women’s value lies in their youth, beauty, and sexuality and not in their capacity as leaders, are bringing you a new film — The Mask You Live In, which follows boys and young men as they struggle to stay true to themselves while negotiating America’s narrow definition of masculinity.
Did you know research shows compared to girls, boys in the U.S. are more likely to be diagnosed with a behavior disorder, prescribed stimulant medications, fail out of school, binge drink, commit a violent crime, and/or take their own lives? They consistently hear de-sensitizing messages like “Be a man!” “Man-up!” and “Boys don’t cry.” Sadly many are buying into a culture that doesn’t value caring, relationships or empathy…qualities our society has “feminized.” But these are not feminine qualities, they’re human ones.
Whether you’re a teacher bringing the films to your classroom, a young person challenging sexist media, or a small business owner changing your company culture, check out the new and engaging resources available at TheRepresentationProject.org.
October 14, 2015 at 9:31 pm
It’s Investiture and Rededication Ceremony season for Girl Scouts, and I offer you three options so you don’t have to invent the wheel!
Being a Girl Scout leader provides me with an exciting way to inspire young girls and foster leadership qualities early in life. No matter what the age of the girls, I like to infuse my meetings with moments of introspection and meaning. Here are three different Rededication/Investiture ceremonies that you can use to spark your own imaginations, use verbatim, or any variation in between.
DEEP & MEANINGFUL REDEDICATION CANDLE CEREMONY – GIRL’S SPEAK & LIGHT CANDLES
(All sit in a circle, with a table in the middle prepped with one white taper candle, 3 gold taper candles, and ten colored tea-light or votive candles. It would be lovely if the colors were the colors of the daisy petals, which ultimately are the colors of the Girl Scout Law values. You may find it helpful to use 3×5 index cards for girls’ parts.)
Leader: Today we come together to rededicate ourselves to Scouting. I light this first candle to represent the flame of sisterhood that burns in the heart of every Girl Scout. (Light the white taper candle.) Although this is a tiny flame and it lights only a small area, all of us can see it. Though tiny, it is a beacon to every one of us. This tiny light can grow, multiply, and spread, lighting the world. Someone just needs to join it. First we light three candles signifying the three parts of the Girl Scout Promise.
Co-Leader: LIGHTING GOLD CANDLE FROM THE SISTERHOOD CANDLE – Repeat after me “On my honor, I will try to serve God and my country.”
This candle that we light shall shine as a symbol that Girl Scouts are true to God and their country.
Leader: It is our goal is to help you be good citizens of high character.
Co-Leader:: LIGHTING GOLD CANDLE – Repeat after me “To help people at all times.” May the light of the second candle shine as a symbol that a Girl Scout’s greatest desire is to serve.
Leader: It is our goal to help you be confident girls. Enough confidence to have your voices be heard and to make a difference in the lives of others.
Co-Leader:: LIGHTING GOLD CANDLE – Repeat after me “And to live by the Girl Scout Law.” May the light of the third candle shine as a symbol that Girl Scouts are true to their ideals and values, and that these ideals and values make up the Girl Scout Law.
Leader: It is our goal to help you become girls of courage, courage to remember your ideals, and to be true to who you are.
Co-Leader: Now it is time for you to recommit yourselves to the Girl Scout Law. Girls please stand and circle around the table. You may begin. (Girls use the sisterhood candle to light the following candles.)
Girl #1: LIGHTING 1st COLORED CANDLE – “I will do my best to be honest.”
Girl #2: “What is honest? It is to be truthful in everything I say and do.”
Girl #3: “I will do my best to be fair.”
Girl #4: “What is fair? It is treating other people the way I want to be treated.”
Girl #5: LIGHTING 2nd COLORED CANDLE – “I will do my best to help where I am needed.”
Girl #6: “What is helping where you are needed? It is finding out what others need, and doing what I can to show them that I care.”
Girl #7: “I will do my best to be friendly.”
Girl #8: “What is being friendly? It is being generous with my kindness.”
Girl #9: LIGHTING 3rd COLORED CANDLE – “I will do my best to be caring and considerate.”
Girl #10: “What is being caring and considerate?”
Girl #11: “It is to be thoughtful of others. It is being the kind of friend you would like to have.”
Girl #12: LIGHTING 4th COLORED CANDLE – “I will do my best to be courageous and strong.”
Girl #13: “What is being courageous and strong?”
Girl #14: “It is being brave enough to be true to my heart and to listen to my inner voice.”
Girl #1: LIGHTING 5th COLORED CANDLE – “I will do my best to be responsible for what I do and say.”
Girl #2: “What is being responsible for what I do and say?”
Girl #3: “It is knowing that I have choices about what I say and do, and that choices always have consequences. So I always choose wisely.”
Girl #4: LIGHTING 6th COLORED CANDLE – “I will do my best to show respect for myself and others through my words and actions.”
Girl #5: “What does it mean to show respect for myself and others?”
Girl #6: “It means to do your very best in the way that you treat others.”
Girl #7: LIGHTING 7th COLORED CANDLE – “I will do my best to respect authority.”
Girl #8: “What does it mean to respect authority? It means to listen to people who are responsible for us and follow their directions.”
Girl #9: LIGHTING 8th COLORED CANDLE – “I will do my best to use resources wisely.”
Girl #10: “How can we use resources wisely? We can learn not to waste what we have.”
Girl #11: LIGHTING 9th COLORED CANDLE – “I will do my best to protect and improve the world around me.”
Girl #12: “What does it mean to protect and improve the world around me? It means to help preserve the world around us and to help make it a better place.”
Girl #13: LIGHTING 10th COLORED CANDLE – “I will do my best to be a sister to every Girl Scout.”
Girl #14: “What does it mean to be a sister? It means to think of all Girl Scouts everywhere, not as strangers, but as friends you haven’t met.
Leader: Thank you ladies for making the world a better place with your light. Congratulations on rededicating yourself to girl scouts and the pursuit of courage, confidence and character.
SHORT YET MEANINGFUL CANDLE CEREMONY – GIRL’S LIGHT CANDLES
(All stand in a circle, with a table in the middle prepped with one white taper candle, 3 gold taper candles, and ten colored tea-light or votive candles. It would be lovely if the colors were the colors of the daisy petals, which ultimately are the colors of the Girl Scout Law values. An * indicates where to light a candle.)
Leader: Today we come together to rededicate ourselves to Scouting. I light this first candle to represent the flame of sisterhood that burns in the heart of every Girl Scout.
Co-leader: Although it is a tiny flame and it lights only a small area around it, all of us can see it. Though tiny, it is a beacon to everyone of us.
Leader: This tiny flame can grow and spread, lighting the world, it just needs other flames to join it and multiply.
Co-leader:: Next we light three candles with the flame of sisterhood, signifying the three parts of the Girl Scout Promise. (*) Please repeat after me: “On my honor, I will try…”
Leader: On my honor, I will TRY. We cannot succeed if we do not attempt. So, we will do our best, put forth our best effort, and although we may not always succeed, we will grow with each new experience as we put into practice the values of the Girl Scout Promise and the Girl Scout Law.
Co-leader:: Please repeat after me: “…to serve God and my country”
Leader: Our goal is to help you become good citizens today and active citizens tomorrow, for a Girl Scout loves her country and knows the importance of having a loving relationship with her God.
Co-leader:: (*) Please repeat after me: “…to help people at all times”
Leader: We are all connected as human beings. Never forget that. It may be easier from time to time to help people who are like you, but where there are differences we gain exciting opportunities for understanding and growth.
Co-leader:: Others need you and we hope you take pride in knowing that you are learning skills and seeking knowledge which could help someone be happier and allow you to experience what being of service feels like.
Leader: (*) Please repeat after me: “…and to live by the Girl Scout Law.”
Co-leader:: Being generous with your kindness and showing people that you care about them is living by the Girl Scout Law. Being truthful about your feelings, treating others how you wish to be treated, and being the kind of friend you would like to have is living the Girl Scout Law.
Leader: Knowing you have choices and making them wisely, and being brave enough to be true to your heart and listening to your inner voice is living by the Girl Scout Law.
Co-leader:: Listening to people who are responsible for you and following their directions.
Leader: Making friends with your fellow Girl Scouts.
Co-leader:: Not wasting what you have.
Leader: Protecting and improving the world around you, and making it a better place…
Co-leader:: That’s living the Girl Scout Law.
Leader: Please come forward one at a time to rededicate yourselves to Girl Scouts. Using the flame of Sisterhood, light a colored candle representing one of the values of the Law. (* When all candles are lit, move on to the next paragraph.)
Co-leader: As the candle light grows brighter it does indeed fill this room, but it is actually the light inside each one of you that is making this room glow.
Leader: Thank you for making the world a better place with your light, and for sharing it with all of us. And congratulations on rededicating yourself to Girl Scouts and the pursuit of courage, confidence and character.
Both: Welcome Back Troop 7755!
MEANINGFUL & FUN GORP CEREMONY
Trail mix made of nuts, fruit, and candies.
(Have a big bowl handy, some large mixing spoons, and some serving bowls/bags/baggies to eat from. Give every girl a mini box of raisin for each year she has been a girl scout before you begin. This ceremony can be done with multiple leaders, or even modified to have each girl add an ingredient. Having done it both ways, I am partial to having the girls only add their raisin boxes.)
Leader : Have you ever wondered what goes into making a Girl Scout? Well, we have a recipe to show you what Girl Scouts are all about. Girl Scouts come in all colors, different cities and towns, Every Girl Scout’s a sister no matter what she looks like or how she sounds. I am starting our mix with these colorful M&Ms.
Leader: Some of us are tall, and some of us are small. But when we get together, size doesn’t matter at all. I am adding pretzel thins and marshmallows.
Leader: With our words and our actions, we show that we care. We try to do our best to be fair and SQUARE. I will add Chex Cereal to our mix.
Leader: Sometimes we act a little NUTS, we love to joke and play. We’d love to put a Girl Scout smile into everybody’s day. So I am adding a bunch of nuts.
Leader: When we get together, we make circles so round. It’s our never ending friendships to which we are bound. I will add Cheerios to our mix.
Leader: When we’re planning and working we just don’t stop, we use our creativity so that our imaginations POP. Next we add some popcorn.
Leader: We respect all God’s creatures, if they’re big or if they’re small. The earth is our home, and there is room here for all. So for all the little creatures, I add some Goldfish crackers.
Leader: It was 1912 when Juliette Low started us off, and like the girls back then, we’re just “CHIPS off the old block.” So for all of us, I add some butterscotch candy chips.
Leader: We get a KICK out of doing new things cause the learning never ends, a kick out of helping others, and spending time with friends. I am adding Kix Cereal to our mix.
Leader: When you were Brownies, you were fresh, new and rare, but now that you’re Juniors, you have experience to share. I’d like for each of you to come up one at a time and add your mini-box(es) of raisins representing each year you’ve spent in Scouting. Today you are adding _____ boxes representing ____ years of combined service.
Leader: Now we stir to the left and we stir to the right, we mix it together with all of our might. We welcome our troop to another great year, and hope the memories we make, we will always hold dear.
Leader: Now that our recipe is complete, let us look upon what we have just created. Each of the ingredients went into our recipe separately, just like each of you girls came into this troop separately.
Leader: As the ingredients mix together to form a dish, you girls mix together to form a troop.
Leader: And even as we look upon the mixture, we can still see each ingredient as separate and unique. You girls each bring your own unique talents and gifts to our troop to make this “mixture of girls” as special as it is.
Leader: Now at this time, I’d like (name girls who are brand new to scouting to join in on the “Investiture” part of the ceremony. If there are no new girls, simply move to the next paragraph) to step forward. Ladies, please make the Girl Scout Sign by raising three fingers to represent the Girl Scout Promise which you are about to recite, and repeat after me — “On my honor I will try, to serve God and my country, to help people at all times, and to live by the Girl Scout Law.” Congratulations, you have just “invested” yourself in Girl Scouts. (Put her vest/sash on her.) You may rejoin the others.
Now it’s time for the rest of you to each rededicate yourselves to Girl Scouting. Please make the Girl Scout Sign and together we say the Girl Scout Promise. (When done, put their vests/sashes on them.)
To complete our ceremony, let us all say the Girl Scout Law together as a troop, Girl Scout Signs up — “I will do my best to be honest and fair, friendly and helpful, considerate and caring, courageous and strong, and responsible for what I say and do, AND TO respect myself and others, respect authority, use resources wisely, make the world a better place and be a sister to every girl scout.” — Welcome to Troop #_______, ladies, and thank you for continuing the journey of becoming young women of courage, confidence and character. Now let us eat GORP!
September 25, 2015 at 5:10 am