Posts filed under ‘Relationships’
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.
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!
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.
(Reprinted in part from The Guardian – Young Women, Give Up Your Vocal Fry and Reclaim Your Strong Female Voice. By Naomi Wolf.)
The most empowered generation of women ever – today’s twentysomethings in North America and Britain – is being hobbled in some important ways by something as basic as how they use their voices. This demographic of women tends to have a distinctive speech pattern. Many commentators have noticed it, often with dismay. Time magazine devoted a column to the mannerism called vocal fry, noting a study that found that this speech pattern makes young women who use it sound less competent, less trustworthy, less educated and less hireable: “Think Britney Spears and the Kardashians.”
“Vocal fry” is that guttural growl at the back of the throat, as a Valley girl might sound if she had been shouting herself hoarse at a rave all night. The less charitable refer to it privately as painfully nasal, and to young women in conversation sounding like ducks quacking. “Vocal fry” has joined more traditional young-women voice mannerisms such as run-ons, breathiness and the dreaded question marks in sentences (known by linguists as uptalk) to undermine these women’s authority in newly distinctive ways. Slate notes that older men (ie those in power over young women) find it intensely annoying. One study by a “deeply annoyed” professor, found that young women use “uptalk” to seek to hold the floor.
Amy Giddon, director of corporate leadership at Barnard College’s Athena centre for leadership studies in New York, found in original research that “there is a disconnect between women’s confidence in their skills and abilities – which is often high – and their confidence in their ability to navigate the system to achieve the recognition and advancement they feel they deserve. Self-advocacy is a big part of this, and identified by many women in the study as the biggest barrier to their advancement.” In other words, today’s women know they can do great things; what they doubt – reasonably enough – is that they can speak well about those great things.
When you ask young women themselves what these destructive speech patterns mean to them, you get gender-political insights. “I know I use run-on sentences,” a 21-year-old intern at a university told me. “I do it because I am afraid of being interrupted.” No one has ever taught her techniques to refuse that inevitable interruption. “I am aware that I fill my sentences with question marks,” said a twentysomething who works in a research firm. “We do it when we speak to older people or people we see as authorities. It is to placate them. We don’t do it so much when we are by ourselves.”
What is heartbreaking about the current trend for undermining female voice is that this is the most transformational generation of young women ever. They have absorbed a feminist analysis, and are skilled at seeing intersectionality – the workings of race, class and gender. Unlike previous generations, they aren’t starting from zero. They know that they did not ask to be raped, that they can Slutwalk and Take Back the Night, Kickstarter their business ventures and shoot their own indie films on their phones – and that they deserve equal pay and access.
Which points to the deeper dynamic at play. It is because these young women are so empowered that our culture assigned them a socially appropriate mannerism that is certain to tangle their steps and trivialise their important messages to the world. We should not ask young women to put on fake voices or to alter essential parts of themselves. But in my experience of teaching voice to women for two decades, when a young woman is encouraged to own her power and is given basic skills in claiming her own voice then huge, good changes follow. “When my voice became stronger, people took me more seriously,” says Ally Tubis. “When people feel from your voice that you are confident, they will believe that you are smarter, and that you are better at what you do – even when you are saying the exact same thing.”
Today is the day when we pause to give a heartfelt thank you and prayer to the very special women in our lives who gave us the gift of life. Archangel Michael says, “Mothers are truly God’s co-creators and are to be revered.” So thank you moms all over the world for giving of yourselves, for your sacrifice, your guidance, your admiration, and your unconditional love. Your children are forever grateful. May you feel honored by your accomplishments that walk the earth and enjoy being celebrated on this glorious Mother’s Day. Amen.
This year’s theme, Awakening Our Conscience, Restoring our Democracy, will feature a Saturday night keynote address by Senator Bernie Sanders, as well as talks and discussions with former Congressman Dennis Kucinich, Lisa Bloom, Thom Hartmann, Elizabeth Kucinich, Cenk Uygur and others.
Issues covered this year include Getting Money Out of Politics/ Overturning Citizens United; Corruption of Our Food Supply/ Regenerative Agriculture; Race, Mass Incarceration and the Drug War; Turning a World at War into a World at Peace; and Creating a New American Politics.
SISTER GIANT fosters a political conversation based on conscience and compassion. As a citizen, activist, candidate or prospective candidate, please join us for a unique experience in opening your heart and expanding your mind.
Marianne says, “SISTER GIANT is a gathering not to be missed. We’re going to rock it this year as we have rocked it before.” Please help spread the word.
From my mentor, Marianne Williamson. This is my heart…
Gravity exists on many levels, both physical and emotional. There is a force in the universe that literally weighs things down.
In order to counter gravity in the physical body, we physically exercise to develop strong muscles. Emotionally and spiritually, things work the same way. We nullify the effects of emotional gravity through accumulated repetitions of positive thoughts. Where the world says things like, “This can never happen,” we repeat to ourselves that with God, all things are possible.
Strong physical muscles give us the power to navigate the external world more effectively, while strong spiritual muscles give us the power to navigate the internal world. With physical musculature, we gain the power to move; with internal musculature, we gain the power to sit still, to be nonreactive, to be centered and calm and wise.
There are many meditative practices, from Transcendental Meditation to completing the workbook A Course in Miracles to others that are rooted in traditions like the Christian, Jewish, Buddhist faiths and so forth. What is important to note is that meditation is more than mere deep relaxation. We don’t just feel relaxed after meditation. Brain scans have proven an actual shift in brain-wave patterns. The religious call to a “new mind” is not just a metaphor; it is a call to become our more peaceful, creative and productive self.
With the modern world having become so frantic, it is easy to become as frenetic as the world around us. The problem with that, though, is that without calm, there is no wisdom, no impulse control and no real peace of mind. We’re more likely to become emotionally reactive and unclear in our thinking. Without deep peace of mind, we cannot be the people we are capable of being, and we cannot live the lives we are capable of living.
The power of meditation is of little use if only understood intellectually. When this spiritual exercise is built into our everyday, practical lifestyle, it becomes utterly transformative. It’s not enough just to know how important healthy food and exercise are; we must actually eat well and exercise regularly to enjoy the benefits of those habits. So, it’s not enough to just know the power of prayer and/or meditation; we must practice these rituals, through daily devotion.
We routinely wake up in the morning and take a bath or shower, because we don’t want to take yesterday’s dirt on our body into the new day. Yet unless we pray, meditate, do inspirational readings or some other practice of spiritual alignment in the morning, we take yesterday’s burdens on our mind into the new day. Are body and soul not equally important?
We find excuses for why we’re not doing our spiritual exercise, just like we find excuses for not doing our physical exercise. But, in both cases, once we start doing our exercises, we start to crave their continuance. Often, people say they don’t have the time to meditate; but, in fact, meditation slows time. Time, in the words of Albert Einstein, is “an illusion of consciousness.” Shallow thinking literally speeds up our experience of time, while deep and peaceful thinking slows it down. We inhabit time more effectively when our mind and heart are clear.
Such a world view is like a mental filter, leading us to experience the world through a lens of love instead of fear. Fear is the thinking that dominates the world, but love is who we really are. Grounding ourselves each day in a deep remembrance of who we really are, we actualize the spiritual power that lies latent within all of us. We were created to love, and in loving we are fulfilling the purpose of our lives. With every thought we think, we either extend love or project fear into the world. Taking a few simple principles and applying them to our daily lives lifts us above the turmoil of the world:
Ask every morning of your God: “Where would you have me go? What would you have me do? What would you have me say, and to whom?”
Before you go into work, into a meeting, into a party or into any situation at all, consciously blast everyone who is going to be there with love. Just as light casts out darkness, so does love cast out fear. You can’t send love to someone and, at the same time, worry about what they will think about you, fear what’s going to happen or succumb to controlling, judgmental or manipulative thoughts. The presence of love literally casts out neurotic, fear-based thoughts.
As you go through the day, anywhere you might be, look at someone’s face and silently say to them, “The love in me salutes the love in you.” I defy you to do this for two minutes each day and not become happier.
No one needs to be reminded today that we are in need of a counterforce to the world’s despair. All the hatred and unnecessary suffering that have gripped our planet are a challenge to our species to evolve and grow—to become who we are capable of being, so we can rise up with greater power and behave with greater wisdom. When any of us does this individually, our lives transform. And when we do it collectively, our planet will transform. Love will not just heal your life or mine. Love will heal the world.