murphyormel

wacky reflections from a nutcracker wannabe

Category: career

we are all students.

through my lens as instructor…a personal teaching statement.

Fresh out of graduate school and only five years into the beginning of a rock-star career in marketing communications and management, I felt the itch to be in front of the students rather than one with the students. As such, I started substitute teaching part-time at the local college and found a great high from not only leading a class, but also encouraging discussion, debate, thoughtfulness, and insight from varying age, ethnicity, gender and work lifestyle.

In those first few semesters, I was likely prepping far more than the students themselves, as I was terrified they would ask questions I couldn’t answer; thereby, feeling the need to know everything to prove myself. Eventually; however, I learned that not every instructor does know everything, nor is there magic in that which we do know. Humility comes from a student explaining a new way to look at an idea, questioning a test answer, or politely finding discrepancy in the text.

Today, over 25 years into a marketing, sales and communications career, that itch has not faded, it has blossomed. No longer do I lead a class, I am also a student. I learn from each new group of students; sometimes those who fly through with an A, and absolutely from those who work hard to capture a C. They each teach one another, and I am a guide along their journey of knowledge. One amazing and inspiring discipline, one branch on the tree, one sign on their road.

And while prep is still critical, my own confidence in my craft, coupled with years of global and domestic marketing and management experience, has enabled me to demonstrate variations in textbook language and outside-the-classroom application. I can spot a challenging definition and translate. I can carefully define tactics to support strategy. And with years of experience, I can see strategy and tactics as two very different, but critical ways of thinking.

The application of marketing must engage the student, meaning products/services they understand and/or frequent, so, together, we find the marketing appeal, objective, strategy and tactics to facilitate discussion and student interest.

My career outside the classroom has been one of privilege. I have over 20 years experience- both Business-to-Business (B2B) and Business-to-Consumer (B2C) – marketing communications, community outreach, public speaking, crisis communication and sales strategy, both domestic and international.  I have additionally held a number of local community Board roles, including president for the local American Marketing Association (AMA) and Administrative Champion to a starter Toastmaster’s International club for a 1500 colleague-based hospital. No class misses a hint of my background. Each are touched by examples from my wide range of healthcare and consumer product experience in a way that aligns with AMA learnings and Toastmaster International guidelines.

Each semester, I ensure students understand they are a brand ambassador for their school, work, favorite sports team, etc., WHILE marketing their own personal brand at all times. My icebreaker may be intimidating on day one, but it never fails, as students ‘Toastmaster’ their way to the front of the classroom to ‘Be the Brand’ through an introduction of themselves to new classmates.

Laughter, story-telling, leadership, owning your personal brand image, public speaking and thoughtful weekly online chapter article searches, assure me students walk away with not simply memorization of chapter information, but also the ability to conceptualize and translate into something memorable. It is critical to me, and I assure transparency to the students, that they learn what they need in our time together, not a box full of memorized terminology.

Candidly, there are times when textbook language doesn’t fit how a meeting in front of the Board of Directors or a C-suite executive will flow outside the classroom. Those individuals may not be trained in marketing lingo, so the student must understand the root of their classroom work before they are truly available to deploy learnings in an experiential approach.

I am a high energy, fast-paced instructor. I expect students to do the work, engage often, connect with fellow students, and in return, I give them concrete examples of both my personal successes and plenty of opportunities along the way where I learned through error. We laugh, we push one another, and they do not leave the course without a thorough understanding that we are ALL marketers, even without the title or the paid experience on our LinkedIn profile.

Someday perhaps, I will find a way to teach that concept to managers, students and peers universally and outside my classroom.

Be the Brand.

Mel

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Why does doing what is right hurt so much?

Years ago, my dad gifted me a fabulous and original quote that he kept in his office that says, “In my law practice and in my life, I have followed two basic ethics: does it appear to be improper, and would my Mother be upset if she knew I was doing it.” 

Other than ending a sentence in a preposition, my siblings and I appreciate and do our best to honor and live this significant sentiment with great respect and authenticity. But for every cause, there is indeed effect and consequence.

  • It isn’t always easy to take the road less traveled. 
  • Most folks will not risk short-term future for the big picture win, so to lose anything along the way is a risk.
  • The high road and the “right” thing are subjective. Tolerance and definition vary.
  • Taking the road less traveled doesn’t always mean the outcome works in your favor. Unknowing stakes can be high. And painful.
  • Choosing what others won’t, can hurt.
  • The difference between doing nothing at all and doing something with great risk is personal.

But “the time is always right to do what is right.” (MLK, Jr.)

All of us at this age have experiences where we have been faced with a decision that made us hero or villain, mentor or mentee, parent or friend. And candidly, sometimes, the choice for what is right, hurts. 

We wonder was it right after all.

As a parent.

As a girlfriend, partner or spouse.

As a professional.

So we brace ourselves to face the music. And we trust intuition and a higher power to let us live our questions and way into the answer.

It isn’t easy, and missteps DO occur, but integrity is everything… so we begin again and again. Over and over again.

Cheers to being gentle with ourselves when the jump rope throws an unexpected double Dutch trick, continuing to trust unconditional love is out there, and knowing each day is a safe start to a new beginning.

I commit to jump forward with deep, full, three-part breaths often and always, if you will.

Namaste,

Mel

 

Hail to the pink hard hat posse of HSHS St. Elizabeth’s Hospital!

The road has been long, and the winds of change indeed mighty, but my strong, wise friends of St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, your pink hard hats prevail!

Hail to the posse today- this historic day for O’Fallon, IL- as a new replacement hospital for the next 150+ years WILL be built! My sweet hometown will never again be the same. And my own grand-children’s children will too be touched by your magic and mission.

Long before women in the United States could vote (1920) and work (still today only $.77/1.00 to a man’s equal pay), the Sisters of many faith-based sponsors were pioneering organizational change, leading community and caring for those in need with churches, schools and open hearts based on love and faith.  They didn’t win awards, get their own stamp, meet a President, toss the first pitch, or even author a best seller. Many never even saw a paycheck in their own given name, rather it went to the Order and that which it served.

The American Province of the Hospital Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis, headquartered in Springfield, IL, part of an international, multi-cultural congregation of Franciscan Sisters, was founded on July 2, 1844.  These humble women left their homes and families in Germany in their teens to venture across the world, not for glory but for faith.  They built their hospitals along rail-road tracks, because 140+ years ago, interstates weren’t an option. Supplies, physicians, patients, staff…they traveled via rail.  Not so today. And as things progress to meet our changing lifestyle, so too has medicine, innovation, strategy and structure to support our larger regional community.

Today, these noble women are still leading, making change, caring for the poor and vulnerable, loving each of us, and believing in a future with progressive medicine, enhanced services for those in need, and continued, consistent dedication to the mission: Respect, Care, Competence and Joy.  Still no stamp with their photos, no parades to honor their care or imprint on a region, no moment on a ball field for applause…..just love and families forever touched by illness, birth, death or joy.

The pink hard hat posse of HSHS* St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, and its Southern Division sister HSHS ministries, St. Joseph’s, Highland, St. Joseph’s, Breese and St. Anthony’s Memorial, Effingham, IL, are all feeling the light and love of a higher power today. And I suspect thousands of colleagues across the HSHS system (both past and present) in addition to families touched by their magic, feel the same…..tremendous respect, support, pride and privilege to see St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, take the next step toward a Replacement Regional Medical Center.

Pioneering Sisters. Those clinicians and physicians with the privilege to touch the patient*. And oh so many supporting colleagues who continued their dedication to the mission while concurrently facing both support and (some heated) opposition in grocery store lines, at church, at the backyard barbecue*, at the gym, while getting an oil change, over coffee and a front page headline, restaurants on a weekend, or shopping for a handbag at the mall……all for a project they support, and a hospital they adore. It wasn’t easy, and brand ambassadors inside and outside the hospital walls felt the impact of debate.

I can’t say for certain, but I suspect there were moments along this winding path that were not unlike what it may have been for German speaking Sisters building hospitals in a foreign land against the grain of the time. You all wear the pink hard hat today, my friends. A hard fight but indeed worthwhile and generational! A challenge that did not slow the team, but rather fueled the effort and engaged a larger audience of support. This was ‘a game of chess, not checkers.’*  Moments where there was no choice but to find comfort in the uncomfortable, and believe in one another and the mission…regardless of consequence.

In a 2012 post**, I quoted a senior nurse executive, now, project manager, for this monster project, Super Sue B, “Think from a place of peace, act from intention, do with grace, and you will be ok, no matter the situation.”

Hail to the pink hard hat posse! 1000+++ cups of coffee later, you asked for the order and were given the ‘green’ light. Cheers!

Thanks for making a home town girl and my devoted St. Elizabeth’s fifth generation family incredibly proud of innovation, pioneering spirit and truth to the mission.

prayers of love and light,

Melissa

The executive women of HSHS St. Elizabeth's, 2012  (St. Louis Business Journal)

The executive women of HSHS St. Elizabeth’s, 2012 (St. Louis Business Journal, Belleville News Democrat, p/c: Jim Krohn)

"You must do the thing you think you cannot do."  - Eleanor Roosevelt

“You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

Pre-press conference nerves...still unknowing we were about to reach 1M+ views in a mere 48 hours.

Pre-press conference nervous energy…still unknowing we were about to reach 1M+ television views in a mere 48 hours.

 

* HSHS (Hospital Sisters Health System), Springfield, IL (HSHS.org, steliz.org, supportsteliz.org)

* Selected quotes from MAR, TR, JB, SB  © 2012-2015

** 2012 post: ‘Never will I be a shrinking violet.’

A fork. And a road.

There isn’t just one fork. Or even one road.  There are many.  And how do we- ok, me- choose?  The metaphor with which we are most familiar is “a deciding moment in life or history when a major choice of options is required”.  I like it, but why can’t I choose more than one road? Life is indeed beauty full, and I have many selves in me. There are no limits to our adventure or misadventure. We own our own path. We look back, or we move forward. We make the bucket list and truly feel the heartfelt, deep-down, pure joy of these choices as achievement of each is granted.

I am only half way through my spiritual life in this body, and frankly, I find myself needing more roads, and I guess a few more forks about now.

I have the best gift ever given in my daughter; I’ve been gifted love by more than one man; my family is proud of me, regardless of my silliness; I’ve had the world series of roles in my full-time professional marketing life with amazing experience, global travel and friendships; I get to teach college students about a craft I adore; I was privileged to study and practice my way through 100′ of record-breaking Massachusetts snow to get my RYT (registered  yoga teacher) and soon actually teach one of my greatest passions; I’ve zip lined; partied with celebrities; enjoyed my share of girls’ road trips and ridden motorcycles. I’ve hiked fantastic scenery, tubed in pouring down rain (while pulling a tube of adult beverages), and I’ve crossed my fingers (and sometimes eyes) along slippery rain forest ridges in foreign lands.  I’ve stayed in ritzy hotels, foreign castles and down-and-out filthy motels that rocked. I’ve eaten dishes I couldn’t define or pronounce but expensed with the best of my colleagues.  Crab legs in a dive bar and plain old veggies at galas. An Airbus, many a truck stop, deep-sea fishing, and para-sailing in perhaps unsafe conditions.  There have been moments with the law. Moments I reveal with my parents one misadventure a year (reduces the chance of shock). And oh so much fun along the way…..

So what next?

1.  Continued clean eating.  Cheers to the Ayurvedic healing science I am taking one day at a time.  Can’t say I own a neti pot yet, but who knows.

2.  I will keep chasing what feels right and follow my own heart.  It may not be the PhD, but if it makes me sing with happiness, I keep going. This is where needing more forks comes in…..writing, paying for college with a FT marketing gig, teaching college, teaching yoga, consulting, selling, speaking, volunteering……I need more hands. more time. more forks.

3.  I will ensure that not one day goes by that I miss a moment of being the best mama I can be.  Even when she does think me odd or tell me “you are turning into your mom”…defined in the 14-year-old girl handbook as “when I Breathe. Talk. Sing. Walk.”

4.  I will grow my bucket list and follow my own bliss.  It’s stunning to think back to what I wanted for myself in my 20s….and how much I’ve made happen in these short 20 years.  No one else.  Me.  And that feels damn good!  It’s time to pull out the list and add on.

5.  I will not wait for life to happen. I will be in my own skin every difficult, vulnerable, fatigue-filled, scary, wonderful, loving, and dark day.

6. I will continue to trust my gut, even when what I hear hurts.

7. I will laugh a lot more. Always asking for the big bear hug that makes me spontaneously giggle out loud.

8. I will no longer allow anyone to reduce or take away my achievements, memories or joy.

9. I will pay it forward, accept that naps don’t mean I am wasting time, and keep promises.

10. And most importantly, I will work harder to love myself just as I am today.  I too am Beauty Full.

In a recent Instagram post, I quoted an artist to title a photo of my beautiful daughter that fits tonight:

“The question isn’t who is going to let me; it is who is going to stop me?”

White lights,

Mel

a splendid bouquet of wildflowers.

I am blessed to have joined a splendid bouquet of wildflowers. And unexpectedly so. The journey for learning a craft I adore became an emotional journey of learning far beyond the mat. As such, wildflowers of all wonders, whimsy and open hearts embraced a me that is evolving and blossoming in its own right.

you, my sweet sukha sangha, are…..

  • wildflowers who are now my sisters.
  • wildflowers who accepted (and without judgment) my “stuff”, and in return shared your own pieces of broken
  • wildflowers who are now trusted ‘heart and souls’ – and demonstrated this purity visually while in silence through a human art landscape of supportive touch, love and steady sweetness.
  • wildflowers who were and are now shoulders for tears and hugs for moments of success
  • wildflowers who experienced very real altered states of being at my side; thus, strengthening our individual paths and containers of being… to be stronger friends, parents, children, lovers, students and teachers

You are my newfound pasture of splendid wildflowers.  And I thank you for gifting me your kindness and inspiration.

Four weeks living in like-minded community is a lot like kid camp. Sneaking downstairs in our PJs (without shoes, yes, breaking more rules) to get milk for cookies before bed. Sharing walks in the deep snow on breaks or the dark labyrinth of the evening cold. Selfies anywhere and everywhere, even as we quizzed flashcards of Sanskrit in a hip Hartford bar just before entering the bubble and world of no alcohol, clean eating and little-to-no caffeine. Studying and stressing (or not) in pairs, teams and 1:1 very late and very early to graduate without “the note”. Laughing, laughing and laughing- during practice, during breath-work, during meditation (snoring does occur), and of course, during silent meals.  Breaking more rules with the massage tables / secret Reiki sessions. And of course….talk about boys and boys and boys.  That’s camp at its best, except there wasn’t a cool kid group or the ‘mean girls’ to shut anyone out.  Every wildflower is accepted.

We opened our heart to new experiences (tongue scrapers and neti pots for nasal irrigation) and new foods (squasharoni, the kitchari cleanse, lima bean soup, chai, chai and more chai….and again with the kale).  We learned over four weeks of long days that stillness is a gift but not ideal when we are told NOT to talk. We did laundry as New England took the Superbowl. We cried, cleansed, Om’d and rocked some serious postures to depths that screamed, “I want more” or “I hate this”. (Next time, I choose a side plank series over a 20-minute bridge. That, I can rock!)

Years ago, a spiritual and wonderful friend told me, “nothing happens by accident, Melissa.”  He was right.*

  • One lovely wildflower said, “you don’t have to be good.  You just have to love what you love”.
  • The lovely Marina whose first language isn’t English and now “loves Americans” because of the sangha
  • James the Bold.  Enough said.
  • Audrey, a beautiful South American flower, who gushes love, language and hugs, and told us “grandma would shower us with roses” (and personally, the only wonderfully sentimental doll, who could use the word “climax” in a practice teach and make it sing!)
  • Dietlind, I thank you for sharing that you too now see you hadn’t been taking full, healthy breaths for far too long before this experience.  We both walk away knowing stillness can be ours again.
  • The youthful (not just in age), energetic group of women who ran at lunch, played in the snow, planned a polar bear plunge, played fire starter, sung Dixie Chics without a trial run, showed their bad ass dance selves and engaged in friendship and love regardless of age or background.  Cheers to being so brave and opening, as your paths begin and dharma unveils.
  • Justin and Rob, two of the most authentic and loving men I’ve known.  Neither afraid to be just who they are and accept and give love to all.  Wit, intelligence, love for the Earth and Karmic yoga and substance.  I am honored to learn from both of you.  We love you “like the sun loves the moon” too.
  • To Sohini, the smart, authentic ayurvedic expert who smiled and concurrently screamed Jai on the way home when her car was pulled over, and there we were.  You make me want to be healthier, learn the peruvian wind chimes and spray rose water 24/7 to have your youthful skin.
  • The woman of wisdom who from ages 35-70 fell into my category of “about our age”….shared chicken dinners and gluten free treats in a private suite after scoldings for talking, kicked some major ass in tough asana, loved on the young teachers as their own children, could read hearts in silence with just a look, and eloquently offered wisdom with love, laughter and tears of their own.
  • Heather, Lindsey and Kyle, your growth from beginning to end was powerful and rich to watch.  And the bravery it takes to share with the full sangha is enviable to all of us a little broken.  And all three of you are bad ass yoga teachers!
  • To the love doctor, Tam, who wears a purposeful Wednesday pink for breast health awareness and gave me permission to trash all L. Hay books blaming me for my own cancer, thank you for understanding the high achieving family, and please know I’m thrilled for your husband’s love of your newfound porn-star teacher voice (I do what I can).
  • To our sweet Shari, do not ever grow up. Your baby girl will be proud of her strong mama for owning her own path. She trumps all.
  • Bridget, the young,strong, feminist, who I instantly adored for her intellect, depth of activism and beautifully clear path of where she can make a difference in this world.  Today, she lands in Santiago to begin living Gandi’s words, “Be the change…” when the words she left with us were, “Everything you do may be insignificant, but do it anyway”.  I found myself with this motherly instinct and want to mentor this wonderfully, gifted woman with a big future.
  • To Doug and Colleen, who offered me strength, a shoulder, kindness, resources for my over-the-top reader addiction and reminders to love myself. And who didn’t showcase their impressive professional lives while in community. You are simply deep, down goodness and heart.
  • To the ‘outgoing, introvert’ and former Navy pilot, Sheldon, who stayed true to his room/mat placement, engaged with few but reminded me I can open my heart again, I am much more than what I do professionally, and to not only look back on my “puddle of was” with respect, but to also give myself a break for that which I can’t control.
  • To my new sister, Sudha, whom I met in December as a roommate but quickly became my best friend. We appeared polar opposites in every way, and I am so incredibly touched what I learned from you in our days of silliness and rule-breaking. You never stopped laughing and loving me.  And boy, could I use some more yoga with you at my side.

The transformation junkie, the energetic and compassionate zumba teacher, the ‘loves to hug’ skier who eaves dropped via sign language skills in the whirlpool, the lovely flower whose parents think she joined Hare Krishna, to more than just one teacher who learned not “to feed the bad wolf”, to all of us who can now LinkedIn we speak a second language of Sanskrit, and to my corporate peer, Adele, the rockin’ cool attorney who co-lectured with me, and somehow found a way to use “conclusively” and “dude” in the same sentence.

A field of wildflowers brings together difference and same in one lovely image. You, my sweet and steady sangha, are a breathtaking image of meditation in motion, bravery and sweetness.  Ong Namo. **

Om Shanti and Jai,

Mel

* Over 12 years ago, I fell in love with Sukha yoga center and my hero, Sarah, ignited a passion for stillness. June of 2012, I blog posted a Dana Faulds, poem, Sangha. And last week, the “Super Sukha Sangha” class graduated as Kripalu Yoga Teachers. Nothing happens by accident. Jai.

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Snatam Kaur/ ‘Ong Namo’  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c1XCS0g6J4A

The only place the head bob is acceptable.

I am currently sitting between flights in Atlanta- as I have done dozens of times before- and I must smile to myself at this silly, unpredictable, loud, over-stimulating, professional, traveling life I purposely chose to leave behind. 🙂

The bald man to my left is doing a full-out head bob asleep in a sunny corner as he awaits his flight. They just called for Nashville. Do I wake him up with sunscreen or the possibility he just missed TN? (And no, I can’t judge the head-bob, as anyone who has flown with me knows I too have placed my sleepy head on many a shoulder, stranger or not. Something about walking on a plane says, Melissa, no one needs you, the phone won’t ring, emails can wait and that darn 4:30am wake up call to get your arse to the airport at all, deserves a catnap.)

The young girl across from me is on the phone and clearly panicked about weather on the East Coast. What about travel misadventure requires her voice to soar an octave higher, quicken and may require a decibel meter reading? Apparently, they are expecting 6-12″. Lol, I still smile. My days of panic are long gone.

Folks are clinging to limited USB ports with wires draped over each other and talking as if old friends while sharing the ports (ironically) to text (not talk) to the people they actually know and love at home.

And is it just me, but is it an addiction when we need the communication medium charged at 100%? Anything less feels like we might lose our connection to the real world.

Even me….using my iPhone to craft this while listening to an old school iTouch with an iPad in my carry bag.

And the people watching in any airport (!!!!), fantabulous! You know what I mean, right? To be fair, I’m here in my fav skinny jeans, a pink shirt, black shortie combat (but cuuuute) boots with hot pink socks, a darling banana republic briefcase and my yoga bag, so while not a fashionista, I have makeup, comfort and weather-appropriate fashion and function for East Coast fun. It is great however to watch the breadth of fashion fun in airports.

Looking around right now…a less than attractive dog attached to a man with gold bracelets, the dog has attracted two young kids (unrelated to the dog or man) and they are petting him backwards (against the grain), the mom (unrelated to both the dog and gold chain man) is well, representative of all moms who bravely travel with small ones….hair frazzled, face slightly contorted, past exhausted and just tired enough to wear silly socks with flip flops and convince herself she can manage two kids, three carry-on bags and a car seat. Man, that is parenting. (And another validation why drugs during childbirth are key- traveling isn’t listed in the “what to expect when you are expecting” book.)

Cheers to parents traveling alone with small ones. I’ve been there, and it is always, always, always harder on the parents than either the kids or the people seated around the kids. Shame on you, professional snooty traveler who scoffs when a baby is near you. Get that parent a cocktail, and I promise the trip will be better for everyone. When my daughter was young, I used to offer to trade with business travelers to be near kids just because the mom needed to know it was ok to fall apart in peace. Thank goodness for computers on planes these days! Crayons, fruit snacks and a teddy bear aren’t the answer. And a shot of Jack, well, that is illegal.

Additionally observations on today’s ATL Concourse T:
– women over 40 should not wear turquoise nail polish or mimic the middle school fourth finger shade change
– how many coffee and bagels can people consume?
– before phones, did we let people know we were safely at the mid stop? (Oh wait, direct flights existed.)
– remember pay phones with sit down booths? And funnier still, the Ethernet line to get internet off the pay phone?
– we went from large ear phones in the 80s to buds to now, these huge Beats? Seriously, is Bieber going to market a boom box over-the-shoulder option soon?
– no one follows the “your carry-on must fit in this display”. Why bother?
– the “herding of cattle” movement toward the door as boarding begins. Enough said.
– is there a speed limit or again, noise limit, on those internal airport motor vehicles? In 25+ years of travel, I have never seen an actual emergency.
– Why is the large electronic sign of departure listings just outside the exit doors causing a jam of frantic, silly travelers trying to find their next gate?
– And finally, no matter how many times I’ve traveled or checked my gate or departure time, I still check it multiple times as if the number has changed in my hand. (Not unlike your number in a fast food restaurant, right? You are 22. Always going to be 22.)

High waters, high heels, cowboy boots, ball caps, backpacks, golf bags, paperbacks and jewelry galore…they do say “life is a journey, not just a destination.”

Safe travels. I have a flight to catch.
Mel

“the only corner of the world you can change is your own.”

The only corner of the world you can change is your own“, my yoga teacher, Sarah, said these words to me- and bizarrely, I dated the quote 3/13.  Oddly, that date hasn’t arrived yet, and I held on to it when I can’t explain why today.  Regardless, she has been my healer for over 10 years- not knowing her wise words would do the trick and/or how often I call up words she said to me years ago during a Sunday morning practice.

Even if I haven’t had the energy to be back in her studio in some time, I go back to the mat in my living room even just to sit, when my body can’t do more than simple asanas and sometimes just breathe, because even that is some form of healing and brings calm in a most needed moment.

I am one week from returning to work and strangely my anxiety is incredibly high.  I am terribly bored at home and sleep nearly 18 of 24 hours on a good day, so you’d think returning would be ideal.  I really enjoy what I do, so that isn’t the issue either- in fact, I’ve missed some great successes with a talented team.  Seems like I should be thrilled to return, and yet, I’m wondering if the reality of returning to an every day cycle of life without the mess of my life swirling so close to me and “out there” is what has me anxious today.  Is it that folks will expect normalcy when I don’t know what normal is anymore?  Is it that I have to face the next phase head on with a more positive lingering of sickness?

Sure, I will do this silly junior mint cancer thing again in a year, but my intuition says I will get the A and finally a negative read and thankfully, the nightmare of this mess will be over.  Is it that a wonderful man from my past wants a real relationship, and I’m terrified of letting anyone down or being hurt myself ?  That jealousy takes over, and I can’t find a way to manage this hurt that he didn’t create.

And my sweet girl….I’m humiliated at what I have put her through in the last few years.  Am I teaching her anything with these sweet mistakes – meaning, vulnerability, humility, giving of my heart and believing in people, or am I hurting her when I can’t get it right and so many others do?  (ok, that alone is its own blog post with a divorce rate so high and more people concerned about my junior mint experience than the loss of a marriage)

I have been reading this great book, “A Wild New World” by Martha Beck. She talks about being a wayfinder, a healer.  What she doesn’t say is in direct correlation with my wise yogi teacher and wayfinder, Sarah, “the only corner of the world you can change is your own”.  She speaks of feeling from within, going into wordlessness and using the power of energy to feed and feel others interconnectedness, others “oneness” (ironically, a previous blog post- are we all interconnected after all?).  Folks who are highly creative, emotional and often gregarious on the outside but have a deep need for quiet on the inside are often part of this “Team” as she refers to this membership of sorts.  What I love is where it takes me- somewhere outside of my own life, somewhere possible to make change.

So Sarah through me to Ms. Beck herself are now interconnected, as “the only corner of the world we can change is our own.”  We simply each find our own way to change our corner.  I, however, am still searching.

Cheers to deep breathing, closing our eyes and feeling our insides sing and love that exists, even when we don’t feel so lovable.

I am blessed.  Just have trouble seeing it sometimes.  I suspect I am not alone.

Mel

Mel”ness” in a Murphy way.

Ever watched “You, Me and Dupree“?  Ok, yeah, I’m on movie overload, but hey, what more can you do besides read*, sleep (a lot!) and watch movies while in isolation and no thyroid hormone?  Certainly  not going to read the Affordable Care Act (sorry, MA).

Regardless, I’m out of seclusion and looking for any excuse to escape my sick house.  Well, in the end of the movie, Dupree talks about finding the “ness” within, meaning, the Melissa”Ness”, the Jo”Ness”, the Apple”Ness” (guess it doesn’t really work for movie star kids).  Anyway, some recent Mel”Ness” to enjoy….

– Today, I slept 17 of 24 hours.  Seriously.  I will soon need a ROHO mattress to protect me from pressure ulcers and deep vein thrombosis.

– Gave my credit card to a restaurant last weekend and ordered a Kettle One and Cranberry Juice.  He looked down and laughed.  No need to ask for additional ID when the card is branded Toys R’Us.

– What’s up with the teenage girls wearing their phones in their back-pockets instead of a purse these days?  I tried it recently, and I dropped the darn iPhone in the toilet.  (All iPhones should come with a bag of rice to soak out the phone. Accessorize, ladies.)

– Just ran to the Circle K to get my sweet girl and me treats for the Golden Globes.  Wearing my favorite Aerosmith ball cap, I was looking down at my goodies when the dude in front of me pointed out I was singing along to Aerosmith on the quickie mart overhead.  Suddenly, I found myself covering the back side of the hat that references the Aerosmith roller coaster at MGM/Disney.

– Why is there no zip lock on the top of my new discovery, the Crocker pot liner?  (Ruth, please get on that, and name me in the patent.)

– Sugar free Reeces Pieces.  What’s the point?

– A magic eight ball really does have all the answers.  Should come with the engagement ring.

– Jack Black owns his Jack”Ness”.  (oh dear, that isn’t what I meant at all but funny after so much sleep).

– My sweet girl just rolled her eyes at me again.  Man, it can brutal and wonderful at the same time to be a lovable, beautiful, charming, smart, self-aware mama.  And I gave up George Clooney, my walk on the red carpet tonight, a fabulous on-stage singing and modeling career and big money for a marketing career in STL?  LOL. Of course I did.

white lights to a future year of Murphy”Ness” and more…

Mel

* p.s.- ‘Start Where You Are‘ (Pema Chodron), Hunger Games series, ‘Man Down, Proof Beyond a Reasonable Doubt Women are Better Cops, Gamblers, Spies, World Leaders, Beer Tasters, Hedge Fund Managers and Just about everything else‘ (Dan Abrams) are great reads.

The Junior Mint of Cancer.

Somehow, this feels weirdly connected to those appendectomy -shaped cookies my daughter and I made as a care package for my brother years ago.  She was roughly three or four, and I failed to look up the shape of the appendix prior to the promise.  She liked the pink icing.  I was mortified of my ridiculous shaping of the cookie cutter.

Thyroid Cancer is indeed the Junior Mint of cancers, but a year ago, all I could hear was that awful word.  It’s scary and unknown.  It’s new and I’m too young and busy.  I was newly alone, frightened and unsure of the next pop in the nose coming my way.  But, it’s a year later, and my lens on life is incredibly different.

So this is a Mel or Murphy way to share my news.

(and yes, the appendix is quite phallic shaped, but I had already made the “let’s make pink cookies with mama” promise to my small girl.  At least my brother must have had a good laugh over my good intention yet incredibly inappropriate family gesture.  Personally, I was horrified and didn’t realize the sex ed lesson I was giving early.  Wait, that makes me progressive.  Now, I just tell her It’s ok to kick him in the walnuts.  (OMG, another cookie reference.)

No worries, as my FB posts state, I did not hit the mark yesterday after-all, and another full dose treatment was issued yesterday afternoon.  Like prostate or optical, thyroid is treated with radio iodine, and therefore is a lot less chaotic and messy than other cancer treatments.  There is no 30+ week radiation, instead, it’s a lead filled canister with cold, aluminum tasting water and let’s just say it- RADIATION- which you drink with a straw THEY hold for you and folks wait outside a locked door.  The Geiger Counter is real, and folks DO back away when you exit the room.

It’s the junior mint of cancers.  But, illness just like a broken arm or heart, must be addressed. We must ‘refute, respond or fix’ (ok, yes, the legal side just came out too- this is what isolation does!)

I really had prayed for the D, meaning the 60-70% of people who do not need the repeat dose, but the damn high achiever in me couldn’t help herself and had to work the curve, so, off to lunch, a glass of wine to calm my already high-strung nerves and more waiting while the Hazmat lady and the expensive and yes, radioactive material, is brought into Siteman Cancer Center.  (Still floors me that you sign advance paperwork that says, “yes, I will be back to drink radiation.”) But of course, we agree eagerly and look for the nearest sandwich place to pass time.  Let’s face it, it is being held at an offsite facility, because it is too dangerous to keep near people!  But for you, Melissa, we would like to offer a pink straw and a dental coverup”.  The price is just right.

– I am ok, though isolation is incredibly boring, and I miss my daughter desperately.  We were allowed an air hug on Tuesday . Today, I must take two showers a day, flush the toilet twice each time, drink juice and more juice, enjoy a swollen jaw line and wonder if nausea will hit.  On the upside, no makeup, and I haven’t blown my hair dry in days.  Small pleasures.

– The only pain I have endured is that of the laxative they made me take Wednesday night in prep for the abdominal scan to ensure there was no spread, even microscopic.  There was not.  Whew!  But damn, the Dulcolax is like trying to pass a colonoscopy by a unknowing participant.

– I learned how to play, “Words with Friends” on my Nook last night.  I was terrible but learned “Zeus” is not a word and “Pee” is.  (Sorry, my MU Journalism peers, I too couldn’t believe I received points and even today have trouble admit accepting those points.  It won’t happen again.)

– I was driving over to the center yesterday at 6:30am, and saw our new outdoor board blank.  We are so close.  It’s ok there is no hazard pay after our drive-by of the prospective board choice caught us in the middle of what must have been “just after gunfire” . My friend, Jim said,  “those four dudes are eating gravel.”  I say, let’s sign a contract!  Prospective board location was validated that day.  Traffic, construction, gunplay…people will slow to see our signage and not forget the beauty of the blue heart and “Off the Chart” art.

– I was driving home at 3:30pm yesterday and saw the new board up.  Faaantafabulous!  It was beautiful and made me cry.  ok, that and the lack of both the organ and thyroid hormone after two weeks are a sentimental combo.  Timing however, couldn’t have been more perfect.

– Prince Harry and that brunette are having a baby, and that pisses me off. (still have anger issues over the miscarriages)

– I can eat whatever is left in the fridge, as I can’t be around anyone for three days, so today, I had cream cheese for breakfast. Tomorrow, it may be candy corn.  I really should have planned ahead.

– There were folks in that waiting room far more ill than me, and for my Junior Mint of cancer, I am grateful it is me, not a child or my own sweet tween.  I have my hair, fine shoes, still not wearing blue velour and a pea coat that makes you think sales rep not patient.  I’m down with that look far more.

– Thank you to so many of you who have texted, called, emailed and loved on me to get me through a blurrish, hellish year.  Much I can’t recall, as I started on this sick couch a year ago not sure how the wind would blow, much less a direction.  I could hear you, I simply couldn’t listen.  It has been a perfect storm of pain.

– It isn’t over, and I have much work ahead, but the gym and bike call me from afar, and my energy WILL return.

– Thank you to the nice lady in the HazMat suit who let me take these photos.  She remembered me from last year, or that’s what they say to all the sophomores of the Junior Mint Society.

– I received more presents last year.  Hey, what’s up?

– My Charter on Demand bill is going to be higher than several dinners out, and I’ve watched all there is on Hulu.  I find Teen Mom quite engaging.  (God, I need out of here!)  btw- Magic Mike is magic.

– Man, I really wish I had a Junior Mint.  Love that cool, wintry taste.

– My twitter feed is full of fun material, but my followers have barely grown.  Apparently, my quirky Murphy self isn’t up to the Ashton Kutcher, Taylor Swift “tape your boobs to their dress”, persona.  Probably should    rename MurphyorMel.  That must be the issue.

– I had my condo cleaned by a professional a day before I went into isolation. ($75 so I could sleep through clean. But no, still no guilt.)

– My therapist encouraged me to buy a rocking chair to soothe myself this year, and here it sits….holding buckets of goodwill clothes.  ok, had it been a Mizzou style chair and actually fit anyone’s decor, rather than the enemy U of I (my dad’s alma mater and laughing his ass off right now), I might use it.  (But I can’t rid myself of it either.  It cost nearly three times the cleaning of the entire condo.)

– Thank you to you for reading about my silliness.  It will not stop.

– Thank you to Temperpedic.

– Thank you to Siteman Cancer Center

– Thank you to my sweet girl.

– Thank you to the makers of Junior Mints and Radio Iodine (and more importantly the delivery person for radio iodine).  A sentence likely never crafted together, and somehow, appropriate today.

I am still not a shrinking violet (which is turns out has very strong roots), but next year, I will come back and finally get the negative result I need.

There is no understanding of how/why this cancer starts, but it is one of the fastest growing and folks don’t typically know until it presents in a large way.  If you or someone you love experiences thyroid issues, please, please, please ask.  I only knew my own fate because of a strange bird with a twisted sense of humor, Crazy Aunt Delilah.

Cheers,

Mel

IMG_1178 IMG_1176 IMG_1175 IMG_1172

I am Titanium

Over and over recently, I’ve
been told to listen for strength, power, language, music, signage, and energy to give me what I need….when needed.

Well, as Karma would have it, the Sia song, “I am Titanium” keeps swirling around me….in my car, at work, movies, at home (while ignoring housework), and now today in a auditorium full of teenagers and dance moms …..

Does a higher power work through varying means to capture our heart and attention?

As I sit alone at my daughter’s dance competition (yes and laughingly, in dance mom wearables – and no, not a Velour jumpsuit), ‘I won’t give up….even if the sky’s get rough’ fills the auditorium as I type this. (Have you read previous posts? Lol. Was this song choice for me?)

The messages do speak to us.

I AM titanium. Do all the young girls in this auditorium hear the same message, meaning we are in charge! We make personal choices every day. We love. We lose. We laugh. We are.

My girl makes me immensely proud and swells my heart with genuine, from the depths of my soul, joy (ironically, that is different than cheerleader joy). All the fatigue and temperature issues that come with this damn sickness escape my attention when she shines that smile. If only I could work half days and enjoy her over-lip glossed smile every full work day, this next month would go quickly and painlessly.

Cheers to all moms, sisters, daughters, friends, nieces, grandmas and cousins who don’t yet see they too are titanium.

Because you rock.

Mel

P.s. I have redeemed my ‘dance mom’ concerns with a black T-shirt that says, ‘if dance was any easier they would call it football’. (My journalism self is choosing to ignore the lack of punctuation.)

wikipedia.org/wiki/Titanium_ore

dating is a lot like picking a new company to call home.

Seriously, what happens with DNA? How is it I am the marketer/advertising geek, and both of my brothers are math/science wizz-like? Maybe I should take credit for leaving part of my own DNA so theirs could double. Wait, that wouldn’t double…see, exactly my point.

well, when one brother has recently finished his PhD in chemistry and asks his older but worldly sister for advice on how to pick the right company when multiple offers present themselves, how can I resist but compare my professional and personal dating drama…..

Imagine moving in with someone you JUST met after one or two dates, maybe a meal, no sleepover, and if lucky, more than a few hours spent together talking about real issues, not just surface stuff. A new company is not much different. It’s a second home.

Ask yourself what it will be like to get irritated and find resolution with new people you’ve not spent years together getting to know (and a quick Meyers Briggs doesn’t change us overnight)?

Will you have room to assert your opinion even BEFORE asked?

Meeting the kids and parents (meaning, those you manage or those who manage your own supervisor) – My experience is the more you meet the staff in advance, the smarter and stronger your second home will be. You are “on” with the big wigs, but you are in the trenches with peers and the on the ground supervisors. If you haven’t met them, ask. What does it say if the company doesn’t allow? The goal being to learn how open the company treats employees- do the colleagues really “get” the company vision, are they empowered to make change, do they know their own succession plan, are they threatened, etc? The best matches- at least for me- are open and ready to offer growth in the public eye.

Imagine brushing your teeth next to the folks you met (b/c traveling, late nights and long days means getting to know someone very very well).

Imagine a peer steals an idea and markets as their own. How will you address or will you chose long relationship over the short term moment? In essence, you are signing up for a second home, and without the dating or really getting to know culture. Consider which company you know you can call a peer out and still end as comfortable colleagues who work as a team.

Ask yourself what it felt like to walk in and out? Is the vibe a match for you? Not b/c you want the role and they want you- remember this is like a date, and you are both courting today. In a few short weeks, that part is gone, and you are part of a team. The vibe must be win-win.

What did they wear, how did they speak to you, was it conversational, all biz, comfortable and open, etc? And what works for you- 8+ hours a day?
This is your second home, and it won’t feel like a home for a while. You will feel displaced, so finding a confidante early and letting them do the talking (while you observe without offering big change immediately) is critical. Regardless of what you choose, don’t jump in and start making changes in the first 90 days. Observe, make note, think at 30k’. Time will allow for the opportunities you see for change in time.

Money is just money. Don’t make a call because of a higher salary. It will come if the fit is right. And if not, own your own path and move forward.

The fit MUST be right, and only you can trust your inner guide to make that decision for you. Just listen.

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