murphyormel

wacky reflections from a nutcracker wannabe

Category: Life

Anything happens all the time. 

May you meet Joy in 2016.

May you try new things, laugh a lot, sit in quiet a few minutes each day, kiss someone special, journey toward good health, look inward and remember why you love what you do and who you are beyond a title, make new and loving friends, take silly photos, be creative in your own way, truly hear the beauty of a wind chime telling you a story, read for pleasure, feel grass under your toes, ask for hugs early and often, do the thing you think you cannot do, love who you are today, and never let age trump adventure!

Follow your bliss, be bold, trust a higher power knows us, and be your best self.

…..Because “anything happens all the time.*”

Joy says so too.

Metta and Merry 2016,

Mel


Pixarwikia.com: Meet Disney’s Joy** (Inside Out)

* a favorite movie quote: “This is where I leave you”

An ode to simplicity, compliments of our pioneering Pilgrims…

A pilgrimage is a journey. Risk, devotion, loss, prayer, focus, faith, family, truth and fear.

And while a gluttonous adventure of food, football and fun is indeed to be had this week, we must embrace and appreciate sacrifice of those early pioneers whose pilgrimage affords today’s tiny delights.

An ode is intended to be sung. I would recommend the following tiny delights of gratitude are melodically embraced on thanksgiving eve to the classic, Jim Neighbors’, “Go tell it on the mountain”…
(ideally just after the reflection, and as Uncle Earl is sharpening the carving knives.)

Finding grace and gratitude in simple things:

  • The Butterball people
  • Dr. Seuss
  • People’s annual issue of the Sexiest Man Alive
  • White twinkle lights
  • Reality television that turns everyday folks into front page tabloid fodder and/or a millionaire
  • A Presidential front runner with a signature swoop and campaign slogan that should read, “Drump (on) Power.”
  • Peanut butter and protein shakes
  • Modigliani
  • Competitive sporting events bringing millions of people together, each simultaneously focused on peace, admiration and contagious energy.
  • Neighbors who not only embrace, but also glitter their lawn with a Home Depot warehouse full of holiday cheer and plastic artwork (stealing a selfie once they head to bed makes for a fun online post)
  • Ice skating while holding hands and giggling under a twinkling moon on a cold winter night
  • Free speech and equal pay (oops- $.79 to the $1.00 isn’t equal)
  • The ballet
  • My cozy Tempur-pedic, plush and inviting, with it’s crisp white Westin-like duvet and down pillows
  • Glitter and Swarovski crystals
  • Erasers and spell check
  • Maraschino cherries
  • Hand-written notes
  • A lavender or lemongrass-scented bubble bath
  • Gerberas or tulips that arrive at your front door for no reason
  • The beautiful (and oh yeah, talented) Canadian Tenors
  • A Coach Swagger handbag
  • My signature red lipstick, sassy boots and a little black dress
  • Technology that keeps friends and family close, across a country, across an ocean

And obviously a more serious thank you to our pioneering founders…..the evolution to high end toilet paper, dental hygiene and wet wipes. 

Come from a place of peace. Act with grace. Get your ode on, and thank a pilgrim this Thanksgiving.

Mel

  

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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The annual “stirrup and well” visit.

A friend recently asked me if in contemplating the first half of my life, could I name three regrets?  Candidly, it is a tough question, as I don’t think of myself as having regret, just silly choices with misadventure, joy, love, loss and consequence.

But one thing DID come to mind, additional children. Life didn’t work out that way, and I was gifted a fabulous teenager years before but hope for bonus children to love some day still lives in my heart…….however, his question perpetuated my recent thinking to republish an old and important post…..please share the following piece with women friends you know have experienced miscarriage and those who keep private from even you- all need healing.

For me, miscarriage initiated a trajectory of heartbreak far worse than a cancer diagnosis.  (yes, you read that correctly.  Cancer was a blur in comparison to these private and unbearable losses.)

(The following was originally published July 7, 2012)

“Scoot down, scoot down, more, ok almost there…..STOP, now relax those knees” (feels slightly like waiting for the car wash light to flash red so I know I haven’t gone too far)….then small talk, breathe, nervous laugh, more small talk……

Ladies, sound familiar? yep, THE annual “women’s well” visit.

Really needs a different name. Something that combines stirrups with vulnerability and cold all in one pleasant tag line.  I’m going with the annual “stirrup and well” visit.  Think?

When I was pregnant with my daughter, her dad came with me the first time, and lol, there is no way to prepare a man for another man- a qualified physician- evaluating his wife in stirrups, wearing gloves covered in lubricant. Her dad did well, but when the doc, in his thick Hispanic accent referred to my “booobaas” as normal because swollen”, I thought he might pass out.

It isn’t the easiest of visits, is it ladies? We are vulnerable, my fellow marketers haven’t yet discovered that the ceiling would be an ideal medium for advertising…and we are always cold under that thin white paper sheet they call a gown. Where is my long gone beautiful, plush Westin robe to make the “experience” of the “stirrup and well” visit a brand success?

I used to blackberry while naked and gowned to pass time, because as you know, the OB/GYN visit is notoriously behind. (Those having babies don’t wait. I get it.) Just don’t tell the friends on the other end of the email or phone where you are while in conversation or working on the BB.

What isn’t so easy for me today is sitting here in the same room with healthy moms awaiting a healthy birth. We don’t know what others in the room have faced, and now that I have lived the pain and statistics of two miscarriages in such a short time and clearly still struggle, I wonder if perhaps we could have a two-wall waiting area. (I’d pick the four wall padded one and preferably a pink glittery color.)

The very, very young mama yelling at her young kids next to me and very pregnant with another makes me sad. I’m sure it’s a moment of patience and lack of sleep (I’ve been there), but she can’t know how many others in this room want but can’t have what she has been gifted.

In other parts of my life, I would start conversation with the smiling lady with twins who just walked in, or the young new-to-be mama across from me, clearly anxious and rubbing her wonderfully growing tummy.

I feel jealousy and frustration and sadness. That little cry that needs their mama is a fantastic sound. I feel their joy and similarly, feel selfishly sad. I have a thriving, smart, beautiful daughter, but together we both believed there would be a sibling.

So, I sit and wait while the game channel- an OB/GYN favorite- inquires “what an artist uses” on the $25K Pyramid Game Show with Nipsy Russell giving input. Really, is this where I am on a much needed day of vacation from work?

Did you know that 10-25% of all clinically recognized pregnancies will end in miscarriage. And how few women come forward to tell even their families? Why is something so prevalent kept private, and the wound that comes with this loss a secret, as if others before haven’t walked the same path or been allowed to feel loss? It’s not shameful. We don’t choose. And spouses, interaction is critical. We need you to feel with us and be our rock.

And our grandparents’ generation? How in secrecy did they endure the loss (so many losses), with lack of Vicadin to numb, numerous complications and lack of technology to protect their own health? I guess lack of birth control was a big issue……That and no Internet.

Cheers to all mamas that are gifted a child, and cheers to those who are gifted being an auntie, cousin, sister and daughter. We all make a difference in our small way. If anything, at least some help when Nipsy gives the wrong answer on the GYN waiting room tv.

I pray for good health and healthy tests for all of us.  Cheers to the annual “stirrup and well visit”.

Mel

Laugh yourself to better mental health.

Sometimes comedic therapy is all we have…

  • …those infamous bacon and hot pocket skits compliments of Jim Gaffigan. (Ok, anything Gaffigan!)
  • …Old men in skinny pants
  • Freudian slips said to your own mother: “sure, we would like to come over for Sunday dinner if you aren’t doing someone.”
  • …I recently (mis)heard a student tell my class their passion: collecting vintage wine and handcuffs, when instead he said cuff links. (And yes, I apologized profusely as the class laughed and immediately called my supervisor to report myself.)
  • …really, really bad tattoos. Likely, a decision made while you were liquored up while friends both encouraged the poor choice and enjoyed selfies with you.
  • …leggings are not actual pants. How did this ridiculous fad reach all sizes of people, now complimented by lace up wedges and a crop top? (Yes, I am presently in another airport.)
  • Algorithms, robot arms, living with your mother, just the sound of meat called brisket and/or the “wallowitz coefficient” to supplement a new view on Superheros thanks to The Big Bang Theory. 
  • How is camoflage a fashion statement outside of the forest? We see you.
  • …”Literally” everything Rob Lowe says on the classic, Parks and Rec.
  • …that the ever changing rules in U.S. healthcare are proportionate to the ever changing rules social media brings parenting today’s teen
  • …my 70+ yr old dad has been pulled over by local law enforcement on an early morning for driving (puttering) too SLOW on his scooter
  • My sweet niece practicing yoga, singing Happy birthday in Italian, or making a sand castle for her Auntie M 
  • A good friend’s son jumping head over tail on the family dog or writing a story about aliens just because he knows it is ok to play, take risk and be his best self without judgement
  • How about those blue-tooth ear pieces colleagues wear 24/7? You speak only to have them reply to their call but smile at you
  • This is almost as good as finding yourself leaving a voicemail BEFORE the beep, because the recording is so real.
  • Hearing my daughter tell me her life is over, because I shut down Netflix for month one of high school as we test the grade waters.
  • Shag carpet and shellac still exist in the RV world and actually win for aesthetics in the “I have disposable income so let’s trade up of late age road trips.”
  • And because I am sitting directly next to a wannabe LA based actor with the the most nasally, startling voice EVER, cheers to karma for bringing us laughter when we least expect.

Breathe deeply, laugh hard and be well. 

Mel

  

The AARP membership is lurking….

… and so my bucket list requires a second page with the countdown to a peak birthday gaining on me this week.

Thus, page two… (because as you have read in previous posts, I have been honored already with much love, adventure, misadventure, travel, professional moments and health/family/heartbreak experiences that many don’t see in their FIRST 44+ years.)

  • Learn to surf.  Without hitting my head on a rock or being eaten by a shark. No interest in the perfect wave, just up once balanced on the board and in the breath. (And not like the windsurfing experience in high school where the coaches had to bring me back in a boat before floating out to sea off a Bermuda inlet.)
  • Master (ok, stay afloat) my own Kayak. Still aiming for Madonna-like arms at 45. @Goldsgym has a rowing machine, but with Evanesence and Jack Johnson on my ear phones, it simply isn’t the same as water, waves and Mother Nature taking care of me.
  • Be published. (Beyond front page news as “spokesman” or a simple niche trade journal article.)
  • Hike/Raft the Grand Canyon with new friends I meet also new to the backpack life. (love the movie @WILD though showering more often than four states would be my preference.)
  • Move out West.
  • Dharma (our calling) is different for all.  Title and money mean little.  Legacy is based on love and meaning. Model integrity and remind others that legacy lives far beyond what they see of themselves.
  • Be courageous enough to tell my family that healing is a calling, and Yogic philosophy/Reiki (energy work) is real. No, it isn’t a PhD, but a higher power is with us.
  • Use my professional gifts to help friends see their dreams and legacy become a reality.
  • Visit Greece.
  • Trial a batting cage.
  • Sit ON the infamous Hollywood sign in LA to see the view (ssshhhhh, think this might not exactly be supported by local law enforcement.)
  • Be cancer-free and finally get the honor to ring the damn bell! We are coming up on year five. I am so over this word and scene!
  • Take my daughter, mom, bonus mom and sisters-in-law (on me) for a weekend at Kripalu, the largest yoga and Ayurvedic school in the country. We will practice gratitude in our own wise women’s circle and engage something that they too add to their bucket list of adventure… #family first.
  • Skydive (but not until my sweet teen is grown and on her own)
  • Hike and put my feet in the ocean in the same day
  • Own a jeep and laugh when it rains on me, b/c I’m old and can afford to have it cleaned. And who really cares!
  • Be the best Auntie M I can be to my sweet niece.
  • Set and stay true to consequences for the teenage daughter who trials her verbal skills each and every day with me.  Find the balance between pride at her persistence but remain the trusted, sacred mom not just “friend.”
  • Release worry, anger and count my blessings each and every day. Gratitude is our choice to give and practice.
  • Recognize and accept unconditional love in the smart, loyal, sexy man I have yet to meet. (plus, many prayers for bonus children that come with loving us.)
  • Ensure my baby girl always feels loved and knows I have her back. For good. For always.

Don’t waste your funding solicitations, @AARP. I’m far too young for membership.

And btw- please rebrand yourself.  So few retire at 50 these days, it is a sad reality when I remind folks we are closer to your membership age status than the public launch of the internet.

Om Shanti (peace) and #bebold

Mel

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Confidence is the new sexy.

Because it simply needs to be said again…

murphyormel

Confidence is the new sexy.

At a recent seminar, I heard a panelist use these words. They stuck. Are we generationally conflicted about confidence, and how it impacts our professional and personal lives, meaning do each of us feel a different sense of confidence in our work craft vs. personal development, spiritual growth and/or family balance?

I do.

If confidence is the new sexy, how we do ensure that the sassy icon and size 14, Marilyn Monroe, is shared with our young people who know how to manipulate Photoshopbut STILL see publications with women of size 2?

Years ago, only those of us who live in the Mac cult world like me knew the inner workings of Photoshop and Illustrator to mess with imagery. Today, anyone with a laptop can upload distortion. Who are the publishers of these pubs knowing that their twisted imagery is an eating disorder waiting to…

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The abstract beauty of loving and being loved.

The word itself is abstract. Loving self, partner, friendship, parents and parenting. It is a simple smile in a crowded airport – just a second and a strong heartbeat. A friend in your life you’ve known for years who suddenly takes your breath away. A walk on a pier that makes you believe you can do anything. A look across a crowded fraternity party or middle school class room. The way you laugh together so hard you cry and can’t catch your breath. It is comfort in silence. A hand on your heart just because. It is staying when sickness rears itself. It is calling for a ride because driving would be unsafe. It is reading in bed, holding hands, riding the Ferris wheel, rallying each other, and sharing popcorn at the movies.

Why does loving someone happen across distance, setting us up for the unavailable by geography….and not due to wanting to love and be loved in return?  Do we make the choice out of protection for our own hearts, or is a higher power in fact connecting dots we don’t understand.

Why does it hurt to be left, even when we know they will return?

I hear folks say, “it shouldn’t be this hard”…”if this was real, you wouldn’t treat me this way”….but in some ways, it is the loving someone so deeply that changes our behavior. We want this abstract “love” so much, we become something that isn’t rational. It hurts, and we can’t understand nor wish it away.

Sure, codependency is a term of truth and mental health, but it must feed from somewhere.  The seed occurs because of unclear and unexplainable connection – unhealthy or not. And it doesn’t happen with the neighbor next door, or the guy at the gym or in the next office space, so why at all?

It’s heat and kindness, timing and awareness, open and closed, broken and wonderful, light and dark.

And always abstract. We are human.

We believe because it is both wonderful and painful. Both make us feel real and alive. But the same exact emotional up and downs break our hearts with a fierceness that can’t be explained, as it too is abstract. Irony? No.

Want, lust, loneliness, companionship, silliness, sharing, kindness, venting, fear, touch. All things that make us real.  All things that make us human.

They say we don’t often know what we had until it is gone. But perhaps it is even bigger in theory – more abstract and complex than simply looking backwards…….is it more real to fully face ourselves and admit we don’t even know we have loved until we don’t?

…OR WE DO, and we miss the present and abstract beauty by seeing through, around, sideways, and in front of us as we hold its gift in our hand.

The abstract and unexplainable beauty of loving and being loved.

White lights,

Mel

love-wallpaper

 

 

 

Most likely to be in the Journal of Mass Spectrometry.

Wait, that was my brilliant brother, not me. 

I’m more likely heading for a display ad in Working Mother that reads, “Advice appreciated. My teenager has entered the fifth dimension, and it isn’t a movie, it is being months from navigating the terrifying, wonderful, ‘friends over family’ landscape called being 15.”

I reference my sweet brother, as he is parenting a five-year old dollie who eats humus, broccoli, tofu and avocado for snacks. I’m the fast-moving, fast talking, single mama who begs my teenage girl to eat an apple with caramel, a carrot with Ranch – something in a food group that isn’t candy to compliment the microwaved corn dog.  And to make it more ridiculous, I can barely spell broccoli without spell check, yet speak proper context for esoteric, voracious and/or cathexis.

Where is the handbook? (A parenting handbook not one on mass spectrometry.)

How many times must I say “no, you can not drive my car?” And how long can they stay in their room without coming out for air? Will thumb dysfunction due to texting be covered by ACA? No wonder vision tests are required in high school these days, and the human attention span is shorter than a goldfish**

Psychology teaches us this is normalcy, functional, early beginnings of independence, and pushing us as parents (which btw- works to test the patience of both). And I do get it. I am certain I did the same thing, but that was a long, long time ago, and the phrase, “because I am the parent” sounded ludicrous in the 80s.  In 2015, I really like the phrase. This week, my smart girl even pulled the Socratic method on me. Seriously? Is this law school? Did I miss where Litigation 101 came after Physical Education in middle school?

It’s a little lonely to be on the inside back cover of Working Mother without answers.  And more bittersweet, without her presence in the way she was at five….half my height, pigtails, contagious belly laughter, a princess cape and holding my hand tucked into bed reading together or working a Mad Lib.

(Now, THERE is a marketing opportunity Mad Libs (appropriately named) that facilitate parent-teenager communication.)

This is teenage-hood. My role is to give her space, cheer on risk (within reason), allow her to choose and face her own consequences, lead by example, encourage newly developing talents and nurture the road less traveled.  My job is to love her and rally in her corner, no matter where and how she lands. (I find a closed-door and deep breathing techniques also help.)

Her job; however, is simply to be.

Someday they will all return to our dimension and with them, they will bring extra love, wisdom and learnings and the great power of finding adventure while seeking their truth.

We will no longer need Working Mother for advice or guilt over the occasional corn dog, rather we as parents of teens are also learning a new landscape – through adult reading glasses and wisely picked battles that truly matter.

Metta,

Mel

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** http://time.com/3858309/attention-spans-goldfish/

Just because:

http://www.workingmother.com/best-companies/2014-working-mother-100-best-companies

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mass_spectrometry / Mass spectrometry (MS) is an analytical chemistry technique that helps identify the amount and type of chemicals present in a sample by measuring the mass-to-charge ratio and abundance of gas-phase ions.

we topple over. we get back up.

We can only be authentically present with ourselves when we feel safe, loved and protected. And we can’t give that presence to others unless we find it within. The investigation of self is not only ever-changing and always within reach, but also assuredly a trail of wild and windy twists and topples and flops of fun.

As I was in a group setting seeking stillness and meditation this week, I found myself losing focus and wondering why. The setting? No. My energy level? No. Intention? No.

Instead, it was concern that I wasn’t in a safe place. Nor were my peers, also there to seek peace, held in a safe, sacred space. As I thoughtfully engaged my breathing and pushed out the “monkey mind,” I realized I would never reach a place of true stillness of self unless I could find a sacred place of safety and love. And ONLY by choosing completely to let the outside go.

You’ve likely heard the term “just be” or “to be present.” But how does one arrive at a place of presence while the world spins so chaotically around us?  Can we find stillness and safety in the chaos?

An Erich Schiffmann book, “Moving Into Stillness,” teaches the connection of life to a spinning top. “Stillness is like a perfectly centered top, spinning so fast it appears motionless. It appears this way not because it is moving, but because it is spinning at full speed. Stillness is dynamic. Unconflicted movement, life in harmony with itself, skill in action. Our lives however are more like a top that is NOT perfectly centered, instead wild, erratic and chaotic. We know we are alive. Stillness happens when we relax inside and are in harmony with ourselves.”*

But to find this stillness, I now see I must feel safe, loved, protected.  When your teenage children are first driving, “being present” is difficult as protective mama bear mode is on.  When a movie or book is disturbing to our senses, our balance of self is off kilter, and we may not sleep well.  If an ambulance or loud noise catches us off guard, our heart may race as we quickly worry for a loved one.  Essentially, fight or flight  responses send us toppling over.

So it is in the moments that precede and follow where we “practice” the opposite of chaos, and get back up.  We again search for the stillness of the perfectly centered top and find our personal harmony.  It is in those moments where we learn to be present and accept ourselves for whatever we are that day.  Meaning, it is enough to simply show up and “just be.”

You are enough.

white lights,

Mel

 

* http://www.movingintostillness.com/teachings.html

the creative brain. know us. love us anyway.

I don’t typically post articles that are not my own, but this captures so perfectly the “science” of a creative brain, especially as many of you know and love someone who might fight this internal challenge.  For those of us caught in this cycle, the succinctness of this article articulates that creativity isn’t manic, it is wiring. Cheers to the author, Justin Gammill.

“It has been proven that highly creative people’s brains work quite differently than other brains. That special brain wiring that can create such wonderful art, music, and writing can often lead to strain in a relationship, because of those differences. If you’ve ever loved a highly creative person, you know that it can seem like they live in their own little world at times, and that thought isn’t far from the truth. Here are some things to keep in mind when you are in love with a highly creative person:

10 Things to keep in Mind When Loving a Highly Creative Person

1. Their Minds Don’t Slow Down
The highly creative mind is one that is running at full speed all the time. Although it can be a source of crazy, spontaneous fun – it can also be a burden. Highly creative people rarely keep normal sleep cycles, and are often prone to bouncing from one task to another throughout the day. It can be exhausting to try to keep up.

2. They are Cyclical
The flow of creativity is a cycle, full of highs and lows. Some people may consider this “manic” behavior, but in reality, it is just how the creative process works. Keep this in mind as your partner goes through these natural ebbs and flows. The low periods aren’t permanent.

3. They Need Time Alone
Creative minds need air to breathe. Whether it is their own little work space or an escape to somewhere quiet, they need a time and place to be alone with their thoughts. Some people are inclined to think that if nothing is being said that there is something wrong, but with creative people, that is not the case. They are just working within their own head.

4. They are Intensely Focused
When a creative person is on task, they are fiercely intense. The change from being scatter-brained to hyper-focused can be difficult to deal with, so just understand that it is how their brains work. Don’t get frustrated.

5. Emotions Run Deeper
Creative people feel everything on a deeper level. What doesn’t seem like a big deal to you, can be crushing to them. It’s that same passion that goes into whatever they create that drives them to love you, so understand that with the good – comes the bad.

6. They Speak in Stories
Creative people often express themselves in experiences, instead of just saying what they want to say. It is a way of sharing themselves that personifies who they are. At times, it can be difficult to figure out what a creative person is saying, so don’t be afraid to read between the lines.

7. They Battle with Themselves
Being creative can be a serious internal struggle. Motivation, enthusiasm, direction, and drive can all be issues for creative people. Some days it is hard for them just to get out of bed, and other days you can’t get them to slow down. Be patient in the lulls, because there is usually a burst of activity right around the corner.

8. Intuition is Important
Creative people, because of their intense emotional tendencies, tend to rely on intuition over logic. They go with their gut. Some people consider this to be more on the “impulsive” end of the spectrum. The creative mind doesn’t rely on logic to make a decision, it relies on experience and passion.

9. They Struggle with Confidence
When people create, especially for a living, they are always struggling with acceptance. That is art. They have to wear their hearts on their sleeves, and so they always question whether or not what they are producing is good enough. Being supportive is the key to loving a creative person.

10. Growing Up is Hard to Do
Creative people are almost always children at heart. That care-free nature can seem immature and impetuous – but it is all part of the deal. Understand that the aspects of their creative brains that you love are the same ones that make them somewhat irresponsible when it comes to being an adult.”

Om Shanti,

Mel

http://theearthchild.co.za/10-things-to-keep-in-mind-when-loving-a-highly-creative-person/

Be gentle with yourself.

Invited to join a new friend’s ‘chair yoga’ class at a local cancer treatment center today, I found a new sweetness to a practice I so love. Over 15 elderly cancer patients and survivors enjoyed their weekly one hour of stillness, healing, camaraderie, compassion and strength….from a chair. The practice of meditation (centering), breath-work (pranayam), warm ups (pratapana), asana (postures) and relaxation all remaining true to the core elements of yogic philosophy. There is beauty in knowing the room held a majority of chair users over the age of 80+.

All of whom have or had some form of cancer.

These yogi and yogini practitioners demonstrate that survival indeed prevails. I watched the gentleness with which they watched their own alignment and trusted their own inner yoga teacher. No ego, no judgment, just love and what yoga teaches us as foundation, meaning breath and oneness with self.  Sweetness indeed.

Asked to set an individual intention as traditional yoga teaches, these yogis likely selected very different types of intention than many of us able-bodied…..I often set intention for good health for my family, love partnerships that sustain, or that selfishly, my professional anxieties will dissipate; while today’s chair yoginis may very well cherish patience through chemotherapy, praying a former chair patient and friend stays out of hospice a more few weeks, financial stability allowing for further treatment, and/or best yet, signing the survivor quilt so proudly displayed in the entryway.

The lesson in walking away for me today wasn’t about sequence or structure or even body type, rather it was about introspection of self, fragility of spirit, strength of friendship, appreciation of stillness and knowing that age isn’t a number when we believe in ourselves… and finally, that all of us, regardless of strength, balance or flexibility, benefit from being one with the moment.

be gentle. with yourself. with your body. with your spirit.

Om shanti,

Mel

Screen Shot 2015-07-07 at 2.40.54 PMp/c: dailydoseofhannah.wordpress.com

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

 

live your way into the answer.

The cool part of living your way to the answers is that you will be living the questions too.  And better yet, in the now.

Sounds a bit bass ackwards, but it isn’t. If we choose to take each day one moment at a time, truly living in the breath and present, our answers will simply arrive. When we over-think the questions, our own head actually gets in the way.

Sure, I enjoy my lists.  And yes, I did actually place large pink sticky notes on the wall to itemize searching my dharma* (our true purpose in life), but in creating these lists of what I love, what makes me happiest, how can I find balance and wellness, even how salary plays a role in my future, I was still thinking…over-thinking…looking for the solution rather than letting the solution find me.

Even this past week, I walked away from a meeting feeling like my peer had spun me in a circle 50 times and sent me off in yet another direction of intrigue.

I continue to remind myself that I am safe today (even when anxiety says the opposite), and in each day, I get to begin again, forgive, be gentle with myself, love, nurture, show gratitude for higher learnings and lessons, and “be” again.

They say the “present” is not an accident. It is in fact a daily gift.

Cheers to being given opportunity to live our way to the answer that is right and good and safe for only us. 🌺

Metta,

Mel

Type A in search of Dharma.

Type A in search of her Dharma.

 

live the questions now, by my Buddha Board.

 
 Psychotherapist and yoga teacher Stephen Cope’s new book The Great Work of Your Life challenges us to find our true purpose in life, which he believes all of us can achieve.

more than just satisfying, we crave meaningful.

After nearly 25 years of rock star professional projects and 14 years as a mama, I am at this crazy crossroads of study, research, truth, wellness, teaching, and much meditation and prayer towards a next step professional and personal path. An earlier post called it, ‘A Fork and A Road.”

Still, as I journal and study, I am finding this may simply be mid-life chasing simplicity and balance. And this type A, high-achieving, little delta I face every day called ego. Just too many forks, and too many roads to enjoy.

This is simply a gift-given moment of transition and change in this topsy-turvy, Seussville-themed road called life.

Clarity however hit home in the last few days as a physician friend was speaking to me regarding a successful diagnosis of a brain tumor many years ago. His telling me this experience wasn’t even specifically about meaning in his work as a healer. He was quite matter of fact re. his now friend’s passion for a craft I too enjoy and perhaps for inspiration, post diagnosis.  But his matter of fact manner struck me as a profound moment in what I choose next for me….specifically, meaningful work.

  • when my daughter took her first step, it was indeed meaningful.
  • when she cleaned the dishes yesterday without being asked, satisfying.
  • when I was gifted the opportunity to be part of a team to market and build a hospital that will last the next 150 years, meaningful.
  • when I helped produce a television commercial for pork-chops, satisfying.

Each of us are given moments to write our own story, so grab a pen and absorb, observe, cherish and witness.  Will you look at the next moment that touches you as simply satisfying or truly meaningful?

“The miracle is not to walk on water. The miracle is to walk on the green earth, dwelling deeply in the present moment and feeling truly alive.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

Play ball. Play big. Play with meaning.

Mel

Screen Shot 2015-05-04 at 9.20.41 PM

Be very clear, ALS, we have Pocket Larry’s back.

A short acronym. A difficult enunciation. A devastating disease.

And today there is no cure.

Thing is, ALS, Larry’s friends and family are not ok with this disease. We want you stopped. And so an energetic and intense support network is in place to see that Larry’s impact on the world of ALS is not just a fight. It is a growing campaign that in fact mirrors Larry’s own uniqueness.  Love, spirit, prayer, kindness, generosity, silliness, strength, a dad’s wisdom, and some bad-ass marketing, public relations and merchandising talent!

Get ready, ALS, as Larry’s squad of support….throws the chair at you (http://webstl.alsa.org/goto/walk4larry), outruns you 12 times over (half-marathons, no less)**, and ensures folks across all social media platforms know we have his back.

I was lucky enough to have Larry as a senior supervisor roughly five years ago. He smiled at me in that first week, and I knew I had wisdom awaiting me. He called us “Mishpocha”, meaning family in Yiddish, and I would venture I wasn’t the only one who knew his sincerity in that word. He could be overtly stern or even powerfully silent, but I do not recall a time when there wasn’t a follow-up about what lesson could be learned. He was always however quick to compliment and praise when he saw hard work and dedication, and he never missed a teaching moment.

Wisdom simply follows this wonderful man.  And as such, people choose to follow him.

When my cancer diagnosis came as a surprise one year after knowing Larry, I started this blog. Initially, it was just easier to tell the story one time to 100+ people, rather than 1:1, 100 times. In week one; however, Larry signed on to join my journey via the blog, and sent me private notes, prayers and love along the way….it’s been four years, and we no longer work in the same place, but I am pretty certain there are NO more than 10 people in this whole world that have read every single one of my 65+ posts.  I suspect Larry is one of those 10.

I am one person in a sea of people he has touched. I can’t imagine a finer mentor and adopted grandpa and/or dad than Larry is to many like me. Likely, many of us not even knowing he was mentoring so many of us at the same time. Likely, he not knowing how many of us saw him as such.

You are a gift, my friend. Taking a pocket-size version of you on a journey these last 10 days has been an honor. Cheers to raising awareness, funds and a cure.

So again, I repeat.  Be clear, ALS!  Pocket Larry is indeed an original, and we have his back.

love and light,

Mel

On June 27, 2015 the St. Louis Walk to Defeat ALS is being held in Forest Park. Please join the team to support our friend, Larry Tyler.

#PocketLarry #outrunningALS #ALSWalkSTL

https://www.facebook.com/groups/walk4larry/

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), often referred to as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease,” is a progressive neuro-degenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord.

A-myo-trophic comes from the Greek language. “A” means no or negative. “Myo” refers to muscle, and “Trophic” means nourishment-“No muscle nourishment.” When a muscle has no nourishment, it “atrophies” or wastes away. “Lateral” identifies the areas in a person’s spinal cord where portions of the nerve cells that signal and control the muscles are located. As this area degenerates it leads to scarring or hardening (“sclerosis”) in the region.*

* http://www.alsa.org/about-als/what-is-als.html

** https://www.facebook.com/outrunningALS?fref=ts, outrunningals.com

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.’

she said, “so, YOU are the one?” he said, “I am.”

Unlike the slushy toss on Glee, the last few days have felt like a very personal and poetic sprinkle of delicate sparkles showering my family.

When they met as competing percussionists in high level drum corps years ago, she walked up to him and said, “So, YOU are the one?” And he replied, “I am.”  And this was about who was the stronger musician. Not love. Not a lifetime together. Not even who looked cuter in drum corps fashion.

For those who don’t know drum corps, this is hard work, and the best of the best survive. Long days in city after city, sleeping on strange floors while supported by parents and past Corps alum.. in charter buses that drive through the night before the next heated competition to start all over again. The Madison Scouts, Phantom Regiment, Carolina Crown, etc……. it is a fraternity/sorority family of sorts who live, eat, share their lives, compete and travel all over the nation as a family away from home.  And once in, you are in the inner circle of a long-standing tradition of loyalty and prestige.

Candidly, this isn’t for the meek.  You must be tough, strong, confident and talented beyond compare.  (so no, my three weeks of violin in fifth grade wouldn’t have made the cut. 🙂

Now, let me remind you, I am not from a less than high achieving family so for my youngest brother to fall in love with a strong, smart, empowered, independent, talented musician who could take him on both intellectually and musically is not an easy feat. But damn, she has done far more…she won over his heart in addition to exceeding the big sister check-box.

Last Saturday, in front of 8000+ people at the last drum corps competition of their careers, my youngest brother didn’t miss the opportunity to take this strong woman and rock her heart to the core with a bold, romantic, stunning proposal.  Live, on camera, and with hidden microphone, his words, “This is Alyssa, and she is mine. And tonight, this is for real.”*

Within 24 hours, the social media was moving the marketing communications needle to VIRAL and quickly. The power of social media in fact swarmed them……and has been growing for days. This morning early, one of the many You Tube videos alone was over 56K+.  This doesn’t include Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, all of whom have also felt the impact of this incredibly powerful statement of love, risk and belief in a soul mate.

For me, this is an internal catch between proud big sister and rock star marketing case study! Even as a mom with a 14-year-old, I am terrified of the dark side of social media I know far better than most, but these moments when something so wonderful and loving happens, makes me rethink the WHY of smart brand building, the power of love, the power of people wanting to touch one another, even strangers.

Zachary doesn’t know 50K+ people. And while Alyssa is a wonderful sister-to-be, I suspect she too doesn’t know those over 55K+ people. So why?

Because love touches us. Even those of us still looking and wanting more, are captured by the essence of what can be. And those naysayers well, they too are entitled to their opinion. The best part of this as a case study is that it proves what the best social media marketers already know….never delete a negative. Respond, Fix and/or Refute. A brand ambassador or supporter, more than not, will swoop in to save the brand before the Company (or in this case), Zachary. And they did here too!  Fantastic.

When I was initially diagnosed, I was stunned at the power of a simple blog or Facebook post. I too felt the touch. Strangers, old friends, extended family……wanted to reach me personally/many privately, and tell me their own intimate stories so I wouldn’t feel alone.  And it worked.  Keeps validating we are indeed here to show reflections of the Divine within us!

I teach the dark side of consumerism, but wow- next class, they get a whole new real life experience happening at this very moment. And it isn’t dark in the least. 🙂

We are all blessed to be a part of love spreading its wings far beyond just Zachary and Alyssa. The light of love and kindness surrounds all of us willing to embrace with an open heart.

White lights to each of you touched with the below real life social media love story,

Mel

Proposal only (57K+ today):

Full show: (27K+ today):

“I was daydreaming in Mass and decided you shouldn’t talk in the car.” – daughter

thank goodness we have silliness to offset our vulnerable days.

And yes, we all have our own curious observations, but I feel drawn to pen/paper to share, 1. so my aging brain doesn’t forget, and 2. to validate we are all one in silliness….

– What is the new attraction to emoticons at the end of every text or Instagram post?  I recently found myself downloading very sassy ones (and actually paying $).  Seems like I’ve crossed into addiction.

–  One probably shouldn’t decide MID-tattoo that tipping up-front makes more sense than once the one hour, under the knife experience is complete.

– Why do I repeatedly have to tell my 14-year-old that “leggings are not pants”?  (And don’t judge me as a helicopter mom, my not so baby girl is 5’7″ blonde, blue-eyed, full-lipped, slender and looks about 21!  You too would make her change.)

– Ever notice we put food in a fridge that is magnetic, but we don’t use old style thermometers, because of mercury? (Again, it becomes clear why I’m not the sibling with the PhD in radio-chemistry.)

–  Why is it that those days when you feel a little cloudy or words don’t come as smoothly are always the wrong days?  Teaching last week, I was high on the flaky dial. Words weren’t coming, concepts didn’t land as I like, and I left my phone at home. As I finally had to admit to my class that I was not 100% “on”, one of the students noted my shirt read “Find your center”.

–  Why is it we all just feel smarter in a book store? Don’t even have to read, just drink a coffee and the magic happens.

–  Is it wrong for a mom- in advance of an early “hang out with the new boyfriend”, to give advice on how to french kiss?  No one told me in 8th grade, and Bobby Brown scared the hell out of me with that tongue.  I didn’t want her to be “Bobby Browned”, so I explained the technique, complete with use of the word “retreat” and “engage”.  Sounds a little creepy on paper now that I type this note.

– When my baby was little, I knew I had limited chances to coach a team that required real knowledge, so I signed up to be an asst. coach for 1st and 2nd grade girls soccer.  So, with a “how to” book in hand, work colleagues drawing me drills on cocktail napkins, and a positive attitude, I coached the 1-7 “Pee Wee Fireflies”.  No, we weren’t the winningest team, but I’m confident I received more hugs than EVERY other team with a dad coach.  Moms, go for it!

– What’s up with this bizarre magnetic connection to our phones?  Remember those strings grandma tied on your mittens through your coat sleeves?  Last night, my daughter came home to tell me she lost $20 in change from dinner at the mall, so when I asked if she had her phone, she said, “of course”.  Magnetic connection to a phone but not money?

–  Why is a pile of completed books on my nightstand an accomplishment, but I never once took a photo of the 30+ bags of leaves I raked every year for years when I owned my last home?

– Holy Thursday Mass: “I was daydreaming in Mass and decided you shouldn’t talk in the car when we pick up (boyfriend).”  Next Day:  “I’ve changed my mind and think you should talk. Here is what you can say….He plays hockey and…….his mom does yoga.”  Day after “date”, “Why did you say that?  If it isn’t on the approved list, please do not say it at all.”

And so my friends, I now know why chauffeurs have a plexiglass shield between themselves and their passengers.

Cheers to moments so curious they can’t help but make you smile….

Mel

reading glasses do not alter curious observation.

curiosity killed the cat.

  • What the hell does that even mean?*
  • Why is the first time your teenager tells you, “you are the worst mom, ever”, your therapist tells you, “congratulations, this is healthy development and a necessary separation for her growth”?
  • How is possible to be terrified and excited at the same time?
  • How is gray hair a sign of wisdom?
  • Why does “doing the right thing” sometimes hurt so much?
  • Why is learning to breathe a technique?  (And lol, there are many that I teach that DO actually work to either heat up the body or calm.  (Let’s just say Nadi Shodna in traffic looks like I’m picking my nose.))
  • Why does “fake it till you make it” actually work?
  • Why doesn’t the St. Louis Bread Co / Panera Bread market a ‘morning happy hour’ or ‘speed dating’ concept for the 70+ crowd?  I’ve been there with my mom.  She talks to strangers naturally, hugs and touches shoulders of those she doesn’t know well, enjoys the low key coffee and pastries.  It’s perfect.  They talk about their ailments, what cousin’s cousin’s children are married or single while they pass around grand-baby photos with their shared reading glasses. The coffee wraps could be used for collecting phone numbers.
  • Why is being with the people we love the most in the world, and who love us to infinity as well, so darn stressful at a holiday?
  • When did I become the subject of my own teaching on “the dark side of consumerism”?  Yes, binge-watching Netflix newly released, ‘House of Cards’ in one weekend should be a text-book case study.  The a-ha moment in class as I admitted my addiction stunned even me.
  • Why can’t Apple add a photo feature so my male, British speaking Siri is looking at me when he speaks?
  • Why doesn’t the school system allow the parents a choice in our children growing older?  I offer every year, but no.
  • Why is it easier for me to trash the greasy, thick, sloppy, ‘left in sink’ too long pan, than wash?
  • Or better, rerun the dish washer so you can postpone emptying?
  • Why does mouthwash taste so awful?  And for that matter, the prep beverage for a colonoscopy?  Seriously, markete(e)r friends, simple economics…. consumers pay a price to meet a need. Price increases as demand increases.
  • Why did anyone let me buy a condo with a balcony outside my soon-to-be high school blonde beauty’s bed room?  (Probably not appropriate to use Rapunzel and “conceal and carry” in the same sentence. It isn’t like I’m a stranger or ever a saint to the teenage sneak factor.)
  • How can I remember details of a professional contact from five years ago: know their political affiliation, connection to others in my network, what Board positions they hold, recall what school they graduated and know they are cousins with a hottie who has a knack for great jokes, but ………I can’t remember what I made for dinner last night?
  • I have convinced myself grapes with pizza is a meal.  Not really a question but probably should be.
  • Why is laundry, picking up the dog poo, or unloading groceries called a chore for the teenager but it is real life for the parent?  I call it, “You live here, you help, you eat.”
  • St. Murphy struck on St. Patrick’s Day.  Why did my teenager find the container of corn in the microwave 24 hours AFTER it was to be a compliment to our evening meal?

And finally, why DIDN’T my $4K lasik procedure guarantee that BAM, one month after my early 40s birthday, I wouldn’t need these silly readers to make my curious observations?  When I had to wear glasses, I disliked them. Now, I forget they are on my own head.

Cheers to never-ending curiosity,

Mel


* Wikipedia:  Curiosity killed the cat” is a proverb used to warn of the dangers of unnecessary investigation or experimentation. A less frequently seen rejoinder to “curiosity killed the cat” is “, but satisfaction brought it back“.

The corn.

IMG_6418

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

you are only as interesting as your shoes

a friend recently shared a concept re. what we have in our shoe closets saying something about our personality…..is he correct?  Think about your own collection.

  • My favorite bright red or pink and assorted collection of Mary Jane’s say signature Mel and slightly quirky (perfect with tights and a skirt).
  • Knee high suede black boots with a smart heel (or any hot boot with a heel – the click is critical, ladies) make me feel confident and completely in control at the head of the executive table or leading a crowded speaking engagement.
  • My comfy Danskos say long day ahead, she must be in healthcare, and please don’t wear me with a suit
  • Barefoot says the mat is a callin’
  • Both the hot Harley boots and pink cowboy boots say sass and perhaps a little too much shopping at Chuck’s House of Boots.
  • Conservative Sperry’s that say she surely can’t be the senior professional who has multiple tattoos  (yep, my personal paradox)
  • Pointe shoes equal my love for the ballet
  • Cute navy heels show a little ‘toe cleavage’ – (I don’t know what they say other than I know the word “toe cleavage”)

Regardless, what does your shoe collection say about you?  Fashion forward, comfort, sass, sexy, confidence, professional, relaxed, or just plain too worn out to care?  Since my favorite and quirky Mary Jane’s are my favorite, it feels fitting to bring you up to speed on some recent ‘Murphy or Mel’ moments that are only mine:

  • Upon returning from a long trip recently and still dazed and confused about being back in my routine, I opened the door to the car, sat down, and closed the door…only to realize it wasn’t my car, nor was it anywhere near the same color.  Black is not the new white.
  • I created a hashtag for my daughter and friends after some silly photos, only to have the darn iPhone auto spell-check change #goforitgirl to #go forfeit.  Not exactly the encouraging empowerment I envisioned.
  • Purchased a darling new dance shirt for my daughter after a recent competition.  It spelled “dancer” in bold silver glitter across her back, starting and ending shoulder to shoulder.  Unfortunately, this ridiculously expensive shirt didn’t get her compliments, it came with questions about why she was wearing the word “cancer” in glitter across her back.
  • While in Massachusetts for a yoga workshop, I awoke to the very clear sound of a Midwest tornado alarm.  Knowing the drill, I grabbed my pillow and shoes and started calling for my roommate to do the same.  She sat up and with this priceless look said, Melissa, you are in New England.  (Apparently the same tone in MA is a call for volunteer fire fighters.)
  • Recently visiting a local store that sells natural oils, incense, silver jewelry and meditation resources, I walked out very happy with my purchases but with a distinct smell of sage on me.  A sage that well, had its own distinct smell. And of course, this aroma was not going away but exacerbated by my small car with windows closed as I went to pick up my 8th grader.  (Parent moment: Do I tell her that I smell like hashish, or do I let it go and hope it isn’t as noticeable as I’m trying to convince myself?)  Yeah, right – the minute she entered the car, she looked at me with wide eyes as if to say, what the heck is that smell on you?  So, as I have always done, I gave her truth. It just is. We both smelled like weed.

While not a shopper, I do love a great pair of shoes, and the stories that pave the way.  It doesn’t really matter what shoes I’m wearing, my life as a living caricature, and the stories that accompany are just part of the Murphy or Mel charm. Cheers.

Om Shanti,

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

I thank you for loving me.

I am privileged to have had many, many wonderful people love me in this life.  Each of those who do today, or have loved me in the past, have been a teacher and gift-giver.  Through tears. Through laughter. Through joy and drama and dress up and sweat.  Through dares of silliness and darkness of hurt. Through meditation and prayer.  So many of you.  I thank you for loving me.

You have sent me silly notes, beautiful flowers, read to me, told me ghost stories and held my hand.  You have dropped off gluten-free goodies at my door or sent inspirational quotes or murphy moments of your own to make me laugh.  You have started dance floors, walked through snow, run through mud, been tattooed, ordered silly drinks, taught me to ride a bike, walked along city streets, traveled all over the globe, skipped along side me, suffered in silence on long drives, or sung loudly to songs only I would like.  You’ve been caught underage with me.  You skipped school with me.  You drove me to the hospital when the diagnosis came and came again….and still again. So many of you. I thank you for loving me.

I am blessed for what each of you have gifted me in growth.  It hasn’t always been easy, and more than a few times, loss has hurt like hell, but I’m stronger and with age, listening closely to each grand lesson.

This sudden strike of hurt parallels the likes of a hurricane.  You know it is coming, and yet, while preparing and seeking cover, the blow is still internally painful and alters the landscape while we ride the wave.  It is just that, interpersonal suffering. But it is only a wave. That blow ends.  And something new gently unfolds.

This is the gift.  The path of our truth and personal landscape comes from each of these wonderful souls along the wave – sometimes blowing in like the strong gusts of wind in a storm.  We ride the wave as the feeling isn’t forever.  It comes and goes.  It ebbs and flows.  It balances us and sometimes tosses us high in the air for that deep-down giggle or sharply drops us as we feel the sting of reality. A reality that forever changes the person we were the day just prior.

Sometimes the strangest and most profound friendships come into our lives when we least expect- for reasons unknown to us.  In fact, we may not even like or remember you at first.  Some friendships dissipate, but they always leave a mark.  These souls may encourage us to want more, to ask for the order, to start or finish something, to begin again, to find our truth, to follow our heart, to change, to let go, to leave when it is right, to help us find courage or beauty we can’t see inside ourselves, to live authentically, to truly know love, to love again, to say thank you, to forgive, to get help, to be a better person or parent or friend.  Perspective from outside of our own head is healthy and a gift, when thoughtfully presented with loving-kindness.

“As I look back on my own yesterdays”, I am honored by the immense amount of love given to me freely and without expectation.  I didn’t always appreciate nor have I always reciprocated that unconditional love in an overt way, but I am indeed grateful for the souls that have and continue to cross my path.

The holes of heartache; however, are never holes for long.  There will be new characters in the plot.  New friends and loves that enrich our experience in this universe and teach us self-awareness as we ride our wave.

Cheers to a new surf board and the ebbs and flows of what is a certain wave called this wonderful life.  I thank you for loving me*.

Mel

* https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LMG8EVEwdA8 (You Tube, Tenors, “I thank you”)

The mat is a magical place. Just breathe.

“Breathing gives man strength, vitality, inspiration, and magic powers.” – Chuang Tzu[1]

Teaching college coursework and years of public speaking in advance of yoga teacher training gave me confidence in front of a group. Prep work, delivery of material, study of my 20+ year professional world and critical lingo to the subject. Check!  But to be in the real seat for the first time in this new world as a Yogini Tour Guide – a world that brings me deeply profound and personal passion and emotion that I don’t teach in a college class room- has indeed been humbling. The mat is safe. It is sacred. It is mine.

I knew having fun was key. I knew prep, material, time and sharing an authentic me would make for a strong teacher and rich class experience where students want to follow and return. But when the bell rings and class starts, I am again reminded this journey of a beautiful practice of asana, pranayam and anatomy take time to strengthen (a practice of its own), and they are looking to me to guide them through a journey, an experience not for a grade or degree but for something deeper and heartfelt.

My magic wand of knowledge can indeed be magic only if treated with respect, integrity, candor, knowledge, selflessness and loving-kindness to the body.

The opposing forces of knowing what I have learned thus far; however, are causing me internal angst. I know just enough to be a yogini snob, meaning test my own waters of ego, as I briefly return to the role of student. I’m struggling with alternatively trained or not trained teachers leading postures that I now know are risky to my body and full of ‘Simon Says’ moments and ego. I find myself having to breathe deeply and let go of my want to correct their approach, cry out or protect my neighbor who doesn’t know any better. Certainly, this is some awareness to Santosha[2] (ethical concept of Indian Philosophy, one of the Niyamas meaning contentment, satisfaction) I didn’t see coming my way. But I continue to come back: 1. To remain faithful to my mat. 2. To observe this experience as it continues or dissipates. This “practice” of letting it go- like letting a passing car go without thinking about the passengers or destination – is the test.  And my self-reported inability or insecurity around the concept of “letting go” is an entirely separate blog post. 🙂

The most significant observation I’m practicing today is the role itself, meaning Teacher v Student. Sure, I can prep the class sequence with planes of movement in pratapana (warm-ups), teach basic pranayama, explain benefits/contraindications for varying asana, share a poem or reflection for meditation prior to Savasana, etc., but guiding someone’s personal journey doesn’t require a course syllabus.

As I continue this transition from student to teacher and back to student, I continue to observe my ability to be in the moment (or not). A student yogini for many years, I know my own body, I shift when good pain turns to bad, I adjust/realign based on my own anatomy, and I know to breathe thoughtfully in order to maintain my balance. I don’t even think when I do these things, the mat is the magic carpet with a guide leading the way.

So now, I face a world knowing far more about anatomy, philosophy and pranayam (breath work) than ever before. Acting as the tour guide not the traveler is a shift of self-awareness, breath, and trust. I must be AHEAD of the moment for the students’ experience and protection rather than IN the moment with my own body. And most importantly, I must learn to let go of my own ego as “teacher”. I am honored to know what I have been taught thus far, but realize this is simply the beginning of the practice as teacher.

Joyfully and with thoughtful intention, I commit to inhale the experience and accept my opportunities for change as new learnings of discipline, philosophy, acceptance, non-judgment and friendship emerge.

The mat is a magical place. Just breathe.

Om Shanti,

Mel

[1] Anatomy and Asana, Suzi Hately, Section 3:Principles, pg. 27

[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santosha

I dance at red lights.

I recently overhead two men reconnecting after some time apart.  While I was actually trying to study my anatomy lesson, I found myself caught up in their delightful and joyful discussion of friendship, relationships, “stuff”, travel, etc.  “I dance at red lights” being my favorite takeaway statement from my, yes, eavesdropping.

I too realize I am a sort of living caricature.  “Dancing at red lights” is fun and real and freeing.  Like the Six Flags caricature that made you appear bigger than life – with thoughtful color and much intensity. Don’t we all have moments of joy so intense we too, want to (or do), dance at a stop light?

My friends and family – many of crazy aunt delilah’s own followers- have enjoyed many of my dating, parenting, professional and travel misadventures, and my own daughter calls me odd but secretly likes me holding court at the popular table for the career day events.

But that is the beauty of caricature. We laugh. We look silly in the moment. We smile on through a voice of humility and authentic, heartfelt joy. It doesn’t come every day, or even every week, but the moments when that feeling of profound intense joy are truly inhaled, they are priceless.

My daughter was honored with an individual award for showmanship at a recent dance competition. Of hundreds of girls, only seven were selected. That moment when her name was called, she grinned her “million dollar smile” and looked up to me in the stands. A priceless mama moment not because she won, but because I could see inside her heart at that very moment. She earned this honor based on grace and hard work to a craft she adores. She was “dancing at her own red light” and confidently so. We both inhaled the experience in her honor.

Dancing at red lights states a profound reality of both age and confidence. We are who we are. And regardless of what others’ judge, we make our own choices. The poet, Jenny Joseph, inspired a red hat phenomenon based on her prose, “When I am an old woman, I shall wear purple”.

So, crank up the tunes at the next red light, dance a little jig, and the push off the gas pedal when green.

Om shanti,
Mel

Mamas and their prima dancing baby girls.

And so tonight my baby girl embraces ballet in new pink tights and ballet shoes. The next phase in her dance life.

At her side, nine other girls with much more dance experience and the same excitement to win the teacher’s eye stand in line- dressed out of a ballet scene and with energy only a teenager can have after a full day of work or school. They see only what they can be in the moment. They do not fret about tomorrow or yesterday. Just the moment.

Like a breath, they focus on the music and movement. One graceful moment a time.

My sweet girl stands shyly near the bar as girls in pointe shoes surround her. She is a natural. Her grace and form so eye catching…. and for me, heartwarming. Sure, all mothers see only a beautiful, natural dancer. Mine really is….

Parental love is so difficult to put into words. We love unconditionally. We see with eyes only a mother can see. What I see, she doesn’t see in herself. What my own mother sees in me, I too can’t see.

We are intensely attached even when frustrated. Yet, we are sometimes frustrated for exactly this profound and adoring love we all embrace as a gift. We hear one way. They hear another. What I say, and she hears do not always mirror one another, and unless we each verbalize the disconnect, the challenge continues its cyclical path.

Love is like that- two people, two different ways to listen, two different ways to learn.

Cheers to all of us putting on a new pair of ballet shoes and dancing in the moment. True love is unconditional and doesn’t need to stretch first.

Mel

Note: yes, I am sitting here a sort of dance mom, but as you would guess, I am in a suit. My girl wouldn’t have it any other way. She knows.

Junior year of the Junior Mint.

It’s been not quite a year since I last sat down under this pen name to write about this damn illness.  It really is a pain in the arse.  But only one more night before I again find out if the active cancer cells are gone.  As you know, I wasn’t clean last year, and frankly, I wasn’t ok.  But back to work after the Rx was at full dose and another year flew by with exciting prospects and successes for my daughter and me.  

The year went quickly, life brought many ups and downs, and for the last 10+ days, I’ve followed Siteman’s instructions with an Rx (NOTE: without either a thyroid or the supplement, you can imagine the wait isn’t exactly smooth), waited for the pre-test iodine treatment and tomorrow’s full body scan and tests.  My anxiety, nerves, emotions and heart race with fear this time.  So completely opposite of 2013.  (And LOL, 2012 is a complete blur!  No idea what even happened except it became clear to my professional family, I shouldn’t be at work. They should call it thyroid brain.)

There hasn’t been one day that goes by that I don’t think about what is in my body that I lack control to manage.  Eating healthy is my choice (or not).  Time at the gym or on the mat is my choice (or not).  Taking my vitamins is my choice.  But the ugly word that represents things I can’t see, meaning damaged cells, is just plain scary.  At least cleaning the car, turning in my teaching roster, donating my furniture….is something real, something with structure and a check list.  Being radioactive is invisible.  There is no progress or action to see or touch (except if I try and slip through the gates at the airport and set off the alarm) and damn, only air hugs are allowed.

A good friend said last week what I don’t like is the lack of control. She is right, and while I know that the ugly word isn’t something anyone chooses, I try and remember, this is nothing in comparison to others’ challenges with a cancer.  They have a disease.  I have a “flu”.  

A flu that messes with your mind.  Makes me wonder that if fibromyalgia could take over your brain, would it feel like this (?), meaning, helpless fatigue, aches that don’t make sense, and racing thoughts that don’t fit together.  Like a 1000 piece puzzle you can see on the box, but the pieces are constantly turning themselves over just when you see the fit to solve the photo.  Again, thyroid brain.

As an avid reader, I have read countless article on people with disabilities and/or disease whose family say they never complain.  Is that possible?  Your body breaks a little in ways you don’t have control or understand, we feel like a burden asking for help, and yet, these gentle souls don’t complain?  I am clearly not one of those people, and so when I can’t get it together, it feels doubly worse.  For goodness sakes, it’s only a “flu”, Melissa!

The therapist tells me dis-ease is our body’s way of reminding us to slow down, review our choices, reduce stress, reevaluate.  Logically, that makes sense. Emotionally, it is overwhelming in this state.  The puzzle pieces already don’t fit, so how can I fit them together now of all times?

One more night.  

Tomorrow at this time, I will know.  Three options: 1.  It has spread.  Highly unlikely I’m told, yet, they still subject you to the two day radioactive prep treatment, some pleasantries to clean out your system, and a one-two hour dose of full body scans (just to be sure :).  Really?  If they were sure, couldn’t we just take a blood test and have a nice lunch at Cheesecake Factory on the Radiation Oncologist’s nickel?  2.  Active cells remain, same region.  With this comes, my third round of the full dose radioactive experience tomorrow afternoon (yep, the geiger counter (kinda the highlight)) and three-day isolation from those with whom you need the most support, plus another year of active worry, or 3.  I’m clean, but win four more years of full body scans without the radioactive prep and treatment.  

I don’t mean to be a downer, but basically, the junior mint of cancers is essentially spreading the sugary sweetness over a minimum of seven years+.

Complete blur in year one.  A mack truck of optimism in year two.  Slightly bitter and ready for this to be over- year three.  

Thanks for always listening.  A little bit of the ick comes out each time I write.

Mel

(For those of you who know my earlier posts, Crazy Aunt Delilah’s fancy getup retired herself last week.  Felt a bit like I was asking for Karma a third time.)

too tired for ballet this week.

I haven’t had much time to write with getting my head around all I missed at work while off with nuisance cancer treatment #2, but I do appreciate all the sweet inquiries.  As I sleep at home a third day in a row while Siteman reviews new labs to investigate why I’m again sleeping the 15-18 hours a day WITH Rx in my system, I’ve had an epiphany of sorts.

When our body isn’t what we want, we get down on ourselves. And as high-achievers, it feel immensely powerful to our self-esteem.  Much like an individual struggling with an eating disorder or depression, we feel unlike the self we remember or envision ourselves to be.  It feels like failure. And while I know logically, I lack patience, and this Rx adjustment is part of the process for this “junior mint of cancers”, I feel my body and self-betrayal and haunted feelings of failure arise from within.  It brings back ugliness from past ick in my life, and makes my already too busy mind race with why and what and when did this all begin.

But really, does it matter?  No.

And yes, I know that too.

I didn’t choose this darn illness, nor do I control the Rx adjustment, alternative solutions or long-term prognosis.  What is clear is that I must do a better job of making positive and healthy choices to eat better and stay present, so the mind-racing, self-doubt, questioning, negative self talk and “shoulding” on myself will stop.

I’ve never quit.  Not after the motorcycle fall, not after he told me he was done, not after the first ER visit.  Instead, I did learn to crochet (to be fair, I haven’t mastered the turn), and I started ballet in my 40s.  But damn,  I’m too tired this week to do either.

I am too busy for this silliness to take away precious days with my family, friends and daughter, not to mention a great professional home.  I’m simply too Type A to be down, out and alone so much!  Sickness just gets in my way.

My best friend encourages more time on the mat and meditation to find peace, but without the darn organ that normalizes metabolism, even a good dose of my yogi self and a little ballet wipes me out.

So, back to the title question, why do we allow feelings of failure and negative self-talk when we didn’t originally choose the nuisance in the first place?

Om shanti,

M

“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

A screwed up life that is beautifully random.

“One in 25 ordinary Americans has no conscience and can do anything at all without feeling guilty*.”  Regret, for example, is simply not an emotion in their range, or that for which they are capable.  In this unbelievable read, “The sociopath next door” (Stout, ph.d), the author details and reveals that four percent of ordinary people have an undetected  mental disorder whereby a complete absence of conscience allows for doing anything at all and feeling absolutely no guilt, shame or remorse.
For those of you that follow this blog, we know that is certainly not me.  My chaos, as it turns out, isn’t punishment at all, but rather, a possible form of enlightenment.   Who would have guessed?  “According to probability theory, random events can run in streaks.  It’s like patterned disorder, and in nature it creates beautiful things.”**
I was intrigued by the concept and googled disruptive patterning.  I love the idea that nature protects its young with this innate feature- example, the giraffe.  Outside of the jungle, it is obvious and must take terrific effort to hide, but in its natural habitat and protecting its young, only movement or shadow make it visible to the predator.
If life choices are beautifully random, and we do in fact live in patterned disorder from time to time, how do I stand still enough to protect myself when it happens?  And if I can’t, how do I steer away from the predator amidst us if it isn’t obvious- example, “the sociopath next door”?
We can’t.  We can only trust our intuition when it calls us and follow our heart toward our “right life”.  Steer away from feelings that are toxic or big red flags that we know don’t feel right.
So as difficult as my annus horribilis may have felt, it was instead a pop in the nose to make change. I know I am capable of pain, sorrow, anger, frustration, great love and of course, great loss.  My body knew too…..and maybe, just maybe, steered me in this direction for a better, bigger, healthier reason still to come.
Namaste,
Mel
* http://www.randomhouse.com/book/174276/the-sociopath-next-door-by-martha-stout-phd/
** “May we help you? Martha Beck (Finding your way in a Wild New World (Free Press))
Image

High Achiever May Lose it at Dishwasher

I’m going crazy at home. I run an errand, need a nap. Fold the laundry, need a nap.  Bring in the groceries, need a nap.
Being a type A, high achiever is an awfully depressing place to be when a trip to buy shampoo is the highlight of the day. Feels helpless and so non-productive.  I really am the high achiever who may lose it at the dishwasher.
Everyone says, “enjoy the rest”, “your body needs the time to heal”, “take the time for you”, “meditate”…seriously, do you people know me?  It’s truly as if my brain says one thing, and my body can’t keep up.  Or worse, my brain wants it to come together, and my body can’t keep up.  It’s frustrating.  I feel generally fine most of the time and my usual flaky self, just exhausted.  Surely, some smart marketing can come from fatigue, right?  (and yes, a marketer trick is to add “right” to the end of the sentence.  How can they disagree?)
I am the oldest of three and will still end up with the least education at a master’s level.  Yeah, we were all pretty much screwed to be high achieving adults.  And yes, we should own stock in sticky notes and list making.
My grandparents met in a one room school-house and both had college degrees.  My parents have second degrees and both of my brothers will each have third (PhD and Law).  I worry for my daughter and niece, even as much as I say “you can do whatever you want”, there was still that moment in kindergarten when my than five-year old said, “I want to do nails and hair but don’t tell mama”.  Oh dear, what have we done?  Healthcare cost the US more than they spent on the Department of Defense last year, and education is outrageous!  MBA’s are a dime a dozen, and employment is still scarce.  The brick and mortar, mom and pop, five and dime opportunity has been altered forever, and my generation has enabled this high achieving, fast-moving, preservative-filled, intrusive, technological world. (Not to mention what I alone did to contribute to global warming with excessive amounts of aerosol hairspray to manage my 80’s hard rock bangs.)  It’s a train far out of the gate.
Are we all type A, high achieving personalities, or have I lost touch with those who are not?  Someone asked me today if a farmer in Wyoming feels the stress or requires the Rx this generation does.  Is it cyclical, have we enabled our own fate, success, loss, excess?  And who can possibly judge and change, but each of our own reactions to these life transitions?  I am told it isn’t “life- work balance” anymore but “life-work integration”. We did this to ourselves.
My girlfriend just emailed me that I can certainly lose it at the dishwasher, but the dishwasher cannot explain the meaning of life.  That is for each of us to find on our own path through acceptance, moments of silence, prayer, nuggets of wisdom and movement forward.
While I figure that out, I believe I will take a short nap.
Mel

women really are like spaghetti

The bear cave is so booooooring.  They won’t let me back to work until the thyroid hormone is up to par, but sleeping most of the day and taking a shower as big cross off’s on my daily list are simply not giving me enough productivity to boost my self esteem.  There is simply no satisfaction in emptying the dishwasher.

I even purchased yarn and plan to check You Tube to learn to knit.  My daughter asked me if we would get a cat if I learned to knit.  Oh dear, what does that say about the direction my life has taken?  We don’t even like cats.

It did strike me as I was waking from a nap today that they let me operate a moving vehicle, but Tuesday as I drove my sweet girl to her last basketball game, we waited for a stop light at a stop sign.  (There is a word that should go here.)  And yes, in my absence of a normal stream of consciousness, it seems the vernacular should be clear.  But no.

To make my ‘come/go brain availability’ worse, once I did arrive at the game, I tripped up (yes, up) the bleachers in front of the entire junior high crowd.  Thankfully, I had on rockin’ boots and makeup.  (Of all days, this is where a blue velour dance mom jumpsuit would have been ideal.)

Reality is, the lack of an important hormone and a lot of sleep make for whacked out thinking in my awake time.  A few examples:

–  What do ice truckers think about while driving down the big hill?

– More than one of my MU XO sorority sisters used the term “kick cancer’s f’n balls” in notes to me.  The fact that I noticed the trend probably says something.  Yes, we all graduated.

– They rate blogs.  The previous bullet may have made R.  What could qualify as a G?  Princess stories, recipes and learning to knit, I suppose?

– A women’s brain really is like spaghetti.  Is a man’s really as compartmentalized as a waffle? (another great read, btw)

– If you have a glass of wine just prior to the radiation, is it a nuclear cocktail?

– Why do kids love gummy worms?  They are worms.

– I really like my new t-shirt, “If dance were any easier, they would call it football.”  Won’t however choose for the next MU home game.

– I should have sent my blog to the Junior Mint people.

Cheers to my friends who sent me goodies and notes and the future of a clear head where words don’t disappear just before I type.  No wonder they won’t let me back to work quite yet.

Mel

http://www.amazon.com/Men-Are-Like-Waffles–Women-Spaghetti/dp/0736904867/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1358464986&sr=1-2&keywords=women+are+like+spaghetti+men+are+like+waffles

The dark.

I like this part of the morning when I am actually awake and not due somewhere.  It’s quiet.  There is no rush.  I am not late.  The sun waits to shine.  Moments feel slower than in light.

But reality feels more real.  And the depth and self-awareness we protect is glaring, scary and sometimes painful to study, change, forgive or address.

The dark is safety under the covers and concurrent, powerful transparency when not.

Why does the dark force us to ponder the moment differently than in light?

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

Perspective shines on me. And the countdown to glow starts….

Perspective.  Our lives take on varying degrees at different times.  Tonight, as hundreds of mourners stood together in silence, powerful fear and tremendous sadness, the stunning reality of a life taken so young, we each personally awake to what we do have.

Each other.  Today.  The Present.

For me, this silly cancer could go on for two years, six+ years, who knows, but I will work in between, love my daughter, get my life back on track, fall in love again, and pray the end comes at some point.

It will likely not take me from my family except for the annual bear-cave routine, and if it did, I would know life sent me magical moments and gifts beyond anything a blog could express.  I am blessed with beautiful souls who have stood by my side, the courage to wake up and reevaluate an authentic me, unconditional love and friendship when I wasn’t so lovable, what makes me tick on the inside not just the “on”side, what toxic means, and what real perspective is…..

Today, the second parent my age in six months will say goodbye to a child, and there is nothing anyone can say that helps – except to cry with them and let them know we are here – nor can we ever truly know that heartache unless it is us.

Pain is like that.  It can’t be compared.  It shouldn’t be.  

My speed bumps of a silly marriage and divorce, miscarriages that surprised then passed, and now a few trips over the river and through the woods for next week’s again “she’s not a pharma rep but  a patient” radio iodine treatment, seem like nothing when perspective takes a greater meaning like my friend’s family endures today.

God has gifted me a loving, clever, smart, charming, type A, sometimes smarty-pants (as she should be at this age), beautiful, amazing daughter, and for that I am grateful for recognizing what I have.

That it takes loss, meditation, prayer and silence to remind us is the sad part.

Cheers to a beautiful angel who teaches me a lesson I needed desperately to hear when anyone and everyone has said the same thing for the last 12 months, and I couldn’t hear those closest to me.  Or I chose not to listen, because I wasn’t ready.

Sometimes, lessons come from where and when we least expect.

The countdown to the now annual “glow” begins.  A week from today, I will be given the “dose”, measured with the Geiger counter, body scanned again and given instruction on the next steps toward healing, but you know, it will be a-ok regardless of what they find, as the mack truck in me will shine again.

Now, that is perspective I didn’t own until this week.

White lights,

Mel

Lasso the Moon.

George was an intriguing chap.  Full of ambition, energy, optimism, hope, certainty, cheer….

In “It’s a Wonderful Life”, he has the kindness and compassion we all seek in both ourselves and others.  But as you see, George finds himself in the topsy-turvy results of navigating those choices.  And feeling stuck along this road he himself has navigated, falls into a depth of sadness he can’t escape.  He loves.  He endures loss.  He laughs. He endures humility.  He wins and seeks adventure.  He retreats and gives to others so they may find their own fruitful wins.  He is conflicted, fearful, humble but also internally limited by his own choices.  His own choices. Sure, he had the opportunity to choose differently, but did he?  Some would say yes.  Some no.  Each of us have our own path, but the challenges that befriend us are not always our choice.  Our reaction however is the choice.

Sure, in 1946, promising to ‘Lasso the Moon’ for Mary, the partner of his dreams, was a wonderful, romantic commitment of forever.  As we all look at our current losses and loves however, can we promise the same?  To have someone want to lasso the moon is an amazing gift when it means real commitment and unconditional love through better or worse.  Our parents offer that unconditionally.  We offer that to our children.  ……And without question, without conflict, without resentment.

In the end, George is shown the light.  He sees the beauty of what he had all along. Good health and family who love him, regardless of an ever-changing path that wasn’t always what he wanted inside but knew he had to do.  He trusted his instinct, his inner voice.

Do you?

Regardless of your answer today, it will change.  Such is life.  Change and more change.

Cheers to a holiday movie tradition and a year ahead for all of us that not only promises change but also guarantees.  And thankfully so.

to the moon and back,

Mel

Confidence is the new sexy.

Confidence is the new sexy.

At a recent seminar, I heard a panelist use these words.  They stuck. Are we generationally conflicted about confidence, and how it impacts our professional and personal lives, meaning do each of us feel a different sense of confidence in our work craft vs. personal development, spiritual growth and/or family balance?

I do.

If confidence is the new sexy, how we do ensure that the sassy icon and size 14, Marilyn Monroe, is shared with our young people who know how to manipulate Photoshop but STILL see publications with women of size 2?

Years ago, only those of us who live in the Mac cult world like me knew the inner workings of Photoshop and Illustrator to mess with imagery.  Today, anyone with a laptop can upload distortion.  Who are the publishers of these pubs knowing that their twisted imagery is an eating disorder waiting to happen?  They certainly can’t all be size 2′s themselves, and if not, don’t they have daughters of their own? How do they answer that question at the dinner table?  Surely, they don’t serve peas and humus from birth on…..

My own tween is a fit, slender young woman beginning to blossom, and she was disappointed when the physician told her she may not hit 5’8″, when she always imagined a 5’10″. She is slender because of genetics, as she would still prefer sugar be a part of the food pyramid.  (her own words)

Now, as a mom, I am thrilled I didn’t pass on the “oaf” complex I have felt for years as the “tall” girl (and at only 5’7″), but to hear her weeks ago try on my heels and say, “my calf’s look hot”, made me cringe.  And at a birthday party tonight, one of her friends said, “I can’t have cake, I’m too fat already.”  From where did that come?  Is it puberty?  These are smart, amazing, strong, beautiful young women in the making, and while I consistently reinforce what I believe to be the right words, how do we, as parents, ever truly know what they hear v listen to from us v. outside influences?

We don’t.

Letting go as they find independence and their own confidence isn’t easy.  I hear other parents tell me this is what we raised them to do and be- meaning “pull away and find their own place of independence”.  Is that real, or our generation’s way of making ourselves feel better? I fear we tell ourselves this angle to soothe our own parenting fears.

I don’t like her growing up one bit.  And every year I offer to keep her back a grade if she wants to remain my little baby girl.  🙂

Yes, every year she says no.

Cheers to confidence being the new sexy.  Join me in ensuring this means confidence of self-awareness, kindness, generosity and strength. That is sexy indeed!

Namaste’

Mel

  

Bright Red Mary Janes.

Ever really think about the depth of some of the movies we enjoy?  In the Wizard of Oz, for example, clicking a pair of bedazzled mary jane shoes can take Dorothy home.  But along her path and before she goes safely home, she endures fear, the unknown of the next curve, darkness, laughter, a lovable puppy, tears, a new friend who needs courage and a new friend who seeks love.  She isn’t even aware that the shoes she is already wearing can take her home.  Click three times, Dorothy, Click three times!

The last few days have been hard.  Heck, the last two years have been awful.  I’m tired, terrified of what watching all this madness will do to my sweet daughter long-term, and my concentration isn’t always 100%.  Thankfully, I have a career I love, a daughter who continues to thrive amidst the ‘red mary jane/Seussville swirl’ and a family that loves me.

Siteman Cancer Center is moving up my second go round of radio iodine to early January. I wasn’t as scared the first time.  Something about everything else I had just endured and then cancer on top of all that pain seemed like just another nasty entity to cross off my list and move on.

Unfortunately, cancer doesn’t work that way. There is no fairy godmother or good witch to shake out the bad.  And just because I don’t have time for it, doesn’t mean it goes away.

But like Dorothy, I have met new friends on the path, enjoyed laughter, endured my share of tears and darkness, loved a new little puppy, and kept hoping that around every curve, I would and will find peace.

Just like Dorothy, I own bright red Mary Jane’s.  Perhaps the script had it wrong, and the writer intended “kick” not “click” three times.

I pray for peace, acceptance and strength.   I ask the same from you.

Mel

What if we were real.

After my speech last week where I revealed to fellow colleagues more about my personal Suessville, I received a high five, several questions about the silliness you would expect a Murphy’s Law girl to get, but I also received quite a few comments about the courage it takes to admit vulnerability and being ok with the changes thrown my way- choices outside of my hula hoop.

Today, as I listen to Mandisa’s, ” What if we were real”, I can’t help but wonder how many of us face the bold changes of our lives and put on the “brave face” on a regular basis.  I’ve admitted I do when in my professional world- meaning, I turn the “on” switch and do my thing.  It’s not that I’m pretending to be someone I’m not, rather I turn on a second part of the authentic me.  The other part of my life stays dormant until the weekend or real down time.  I suspect many of us do the same…when the kids are around, when the boss is watching us present an idea, when our family needs us, when a friend is in need, etc.  It’s really about what “authentic” means in the moment, right?

I am authentic in sadness.  I am authentic when focused and working a room at a fundraising gala. I am authentic when laughing with a good friend or crying over loss.  It just is.  We are authentic based on the moment. Today, yesterday, tomorrow.  Never the same.

We are real. When undone.  When on top of the world.  The story changes.  We change along with the path. And our authenticity is based on that moment.

We are not defined by a single moment but rather all the cumulative moments that make us….today.  Authentic always.  Real in the moment.

Namaste’,

Mel

Tiny Delights.

In an earlier post, I used the phrase, “Grief is not a straight line”.  Well, after a fabulous gala fundraiser event for the hospital where I was lucky enough to have my dad as my date, and we had a ball together, I felt the approach of ‘the backwards slide’.  Now, while the old Mel would have made “the backwards slide” some type of dance, I instead felt myself feeling the old sadness and realization of being alone after seeing so many happy married couples.

I have felt the backslide of Seussville indeed.  We don’t plan the old feelings to pop up. Feeling unlovable or knowing I am “sick” simply catches me off guard. I suspect I’m not alone. And for all of us, these feelings come in different ways and at different times.

In three months, I will head to Siteman for treatment number two, and while I am again confident inside and out THIS will be the end of the treatments, fear is still real, and my body is still not 100%.  (Even when I reread the sentence, I can’t believe it is me about whom I write.)

Regardless, I found this tiny piece of peace as I changed purses today. I choose to believe, I saved all these years to bring back in a new medium without knowing where and when it might need me to reread.  I delivered the following words probably 10+ years ago in a holiday card to friends.  It speaks to me again today.  I hope the same for you.

Most of us miss out on life’s big prizes.

The Pulitzer. The Nobel.

Oscars, Tonys, Emmys.

But we’re all eligible for life’s small pleasures.

A pat on the back.

A kiss behind the ear.

A four pound bass.

A full moon.

An empty parking space.

A crackling fire.

A great meal.

A glorious sunset.

Hot Soup. Cold beer.

Don’t fret about copping life’s grand awards.

Enjoy it’s tiny delights.

There are plenty for all of us.*

Today, I made a nice meal for my sweet girl and took a nice Sunday nap.

Small pleasures.  Tiny Delights.  And seeing these small pleasures take me forward once again.

 

What Tiny Delight did you enjoy today?

namaste’,

Mel

* – corporate ad (United Technologies)

Back to Seussville I go.

As I prepared my thoughts today for a Toastmaster Club speech this week, I can’t help but look at all of the amazing, ridiculous, loving, silly, proud, bold, ‘look back and laugh’ moments I have been gifted.  Makes me wonder if we all tried this blogging thing, would we have the same list of silliness, or does God simply want me to fully enjoy my experiences and see what I have, rather than what I don’t?

I have been gifted experiences most folks won’t ever see for themselves (yes, many ups and many downs, sideways, backwards and forwards, as a Dr. Seuss character would naturally embrace), so perhaps, getting to tell my stories is a way for others to hear all of us have a combination of ridiculousness and awesomeness to share with the next generation  For example, jumping in Carlyle Lake at 19 degrees on New Years Day to take home a Polar Bear Plunge title; dating a wild, white-collar-by-day corporate boy but title-carrying national rodeo star by weekend who took me snowmobiling on a lake no less; hearing my toddler yell “mama has a tattoo” in a public pool; living with cancer but being mistaken for a pharma rep while in for testing; not thinking and publicly pawing Kevin Costner in his restaurant during my first Sturgis Motorcycle Rally; knowing a bath house in Tokyo is really just a spa where they let you eat loads of sushi and wear a kick arse Kimono, and learning to drive a motorcycle solo just because I could (really, how hot would I be on a hot pink Harley?  ok, yes, parked and not moving), etc.

All however, have been damn fun, laughable and worth taking on great adventure and things that feel scary. Life is short, and we have so many choices!!!  Why do we wish away time?  Who picked the five day work/ two day vacation concept- why not the reverse? There is so much to experience and enjoy.  Dr. Seuss would pick fun- “Oh the places you go”.  

Do you have a “bucket list”?  And if so, how much is complete, and when will you start?  My bucket list last year included a zip line and a flash mob.  This year, I did both. So now the bucket list deserves more items and that translates to more fun and more stories.  What will I add that both scares and challenges?  Only the future of my ever-changing Seussville journey knows.

Will I get myself into trouble?  Probably.  Will it be worth the chance and story for my daughter to hear (much, much later)?  Abso-freaken-lutely!

Life really is cyclical.

I walked away from this blog a month of so ago, and an old friend specifically said, “If your blog helps YOU…then don’t let idle chatter stop you.”  Dana’s words stuck.  And ironically, this is a woman I didn’t know very well years ago, but since the diagnosis, has privately cheered me along without knowing the strength she carries today and likely gives to others with these same cheering comments.  I know her inner strength more today than years ago.  Who would have guessed?  This is the power of blogging and reaching out when we are touched by words.  Thank you, old friend.

As I prepared my speech today, I realize; 1.  I believed I could, so I did, 2. I have a lot of stories for someone at this age.  (Did my grandparents really have this much silliness (or were they simply private and embarrassed of that which I see a scream and would share with you), or did they give me courage to accept, ask for the order, and just go for it, so that my own silliness, bold change, and trying new things isn’t scary and instead just part of who I am?  I suspect both sides of my German and Irish/Italian Catholic grandparents are watching me in a loud theatre somewhere upstairs with popcorn, Irish beer, those old fancy smokes with the long filters that made the women look alluring and sexy,  while all are belly-laughing, cheering and loving me to the next journey).  I learned from family that “owning your own path” and “doing the thing you think you cannot do”* means taking chances- regardless of outcome.  We can’t regret, we simply learn as we go, and with much hope, forgive in time.  And finally, I realize: 3. I am who I am and will not stand still, regardless of the mix of friends and family that accompany on my journey.

Back to Seussville I go….I’ve missed you.

Mel

“Oh, the places you’ll go”- Dr. Seuss

*  Eleanor Roosevelt, ” You must do the thing you think you cannot do”.

Stop the Gossip. It’s not fifth grade anymore.

A dear friend reminded me tonight that he’s heard me say the words, “mystery breeds assumption” at least a dozen times, and yet, pulling down my Facebook page and the blog did exactly that which I say isn’t fair to do.  Mystery does breed assumption.  When we don’t know, we fear the worst.  He’s right.  I ran rather than facing head on and without explanation. I pulled down communication to my friends – you- who have been with me through this journey- without explaining.

Here’s the straight truth:  Gossip feels awful. Remember games of fifth grade dodgeball?  It hurt.  Well, it turns out in my early 40s- my life- that which I made so public with good intention- worked against me, and folks have found my flaws a game of who knows what and can spread what little they really know about my current situation for their own benefit. Even stories that are beyond possible.

Gossip hurts. And not unlike fifth grade dodgeball.

I am smart enough to understand that folks choose to do it, because in the moment it makes them feel good about themselves, and/or their own insecurities are easier to deal with by hurting others rather than facing their own.  Sadly however, the person about whom they speak doesn’t feel their “win” or shining moment.  We feel awful.

I’ve had countless talks with my sweet daughter about the caddy opportunity of social media, yet I opened myself up and allowed it to walk through my own front door.

No, I didn’t just let it go.  I have responded appropriately (or not).  Unfortunately, it only fueled the fire and continues to make me think about how dangerous gossip truly is, especially with my life already so fragile.  A good lesson for my family and my daughter.  A painful lesson for me.

Mystery breeds assumption.  And pulling down the sites without explaining wasn’t appropriate to the thousands of reads this site has captured in such a short time.  I can’t change other people’s poor judgment, but I can detach from the opportunity to be someone’s joke, and that I must do for my own future health.

Thank you to those who have checked on me privately.  I will beat the cancer in time, and I will find my heart and trust again too.  I will also be back when I can tell gossip exactly where to go on my own healthy terms.

Much love and peace to those of you who truly understand the danger of gossip.  And for those who don’t understand, or haven’t been in this place, please reread and rethink the words you casually use that can hurt others.  Cause=Effect, and you never really know how we are all connected.  We all have a direct or indirect link to another’s action and/or words…. whether intentional or not.

We are not in fifth grade anymore.  And dodgeball still hurts the outcast.

Om shanti (a prayer of peace, even for those who don’t know when to say no),

Mel

Still trying…..http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n2tPeFnIb_E

“Oh, the Places Mel goes…..”

A week with some very tough moments, but a weekend with some very needed laughter.  I am blessed with good souls that surround and make me smile. Thank you.

so, how about a few Murphy or Mel moments for a needed giggle…

–  Driving home from Effingham last month with colleagues, and we were caught in a tornado.  No, not just a warning, a real tornado ….and ironically just after a successful presentation to a room of nuns.  We pulled off the road and moved away from the line of trees, but my friend, Natalie, knows my travel history and looked back from the driver’s seat to say she is indeed consider never traveling with me again.

–  I was putting on lipstick this week when at the exact moment, a friend (not paying attention to what I was doing), said in relation to whatever we were discussing prior to my lipstick application, “a pig in lipstick is still a pig.”

– While presenting to a large group of 70+ year old hospital volunteers this week, I casually mentioned (at least two times), “we are very excited about our upcoming big breast cancer awareness” initiative.  Not only did I fail to highlight “breast health” rather than “cancer”, I used “big breasts” more than once.

– This weekend, at a bar that used to be older (or perhaps I was younger when I used to frequent), I heard the bartender ask a college kid what kind of Vodka she wanted…we laughed, as he told me he has to ask, because they can’t afford and don’t know there are even differences. Sign of age?  Kettle one isn’t popcorn, sister.

– My sweet daughter attended her first junior high dance last weekend.  A little bit of makeup, trading clothes with friends, giggly and texting and…of course a tornado warning. She is her mother’s daughter.

– Today my sweet girl told me I was “on denim overload”.  loll!  Wearing cute, hip, ripped Abercrombie jeans, apparently a denim jacket on top is too much.  Really?  My junior high girl is telling me what is and isn’t hip?  (and btw- “hip” isn’t cool anymore either)

–  I was gifted a present by an overhead seagull on a visit to Alcatraz this Spring.  My daughter couldn’t contain her laughter, as we were only five minutes off the ferry, and I have a day of wearing goo ahead of us.

–  Years ago at ‘Live on the Levee’ (the old days when this STL music tradition was held on the steep stairs along the Mississippi riverfront).  It was Fourth of July, and we were seeing Train.  Crazy crowds and a craving for ribs, I climbed over a chain fence and slipped while holding adult beverages and a plate of barbecue ribs…..yep, down the steep hill falling on more than one family resting on blankets and enjoying the evening.  The ribs were saved. No one however, asked for my business card.

–  The house we recently sold was on a grade just steep enough that you couldn’t see there was a descent but steep enough that when it snowed, a manual transmission struggled with the ascent.  One snowfall I was simply stuck in the middle of the road laughing to myself.  What else could I do?  It was just me -ready for work- and stuck.  On the upside, my Beverly hillbilly style neighbor thought it appropriate to shovel around me and get himself to work.  I went inside and worked from home.

xoxo,

Mel

Living two lives. Thank heavens it is a Monday.

So, I’m just home after an 11+ hour day on a Monday.  My sweet daughter is working on homework.  I am however entering the second part of my double life.  The part where reality hits a home-run.

In front of a group of physicians, colleagues, city officials, students, large clubs, toastmasters, BOD involvement, the c-suite, etc., I am “on”.  I was raised to be “on”.  What I wasn’t cleared for was the slap of pain that is called my second life.  It happens on weekends, evenings without my  daughter, any time frankly, when fear and a hit or reminder of what loneliness means to my new path, strikes.

A loneliness I hadn’t seen in many moons.

I’ve said to several people lately, I live two lives, but few- very few!- see both.  One life is polished, confident, capable, knows how to market just about anything and meet/greets like she is running for office.  The other finds safety in her bedroom cave, can sleep away full days without leaving or eating, enjoys a teary eyed afternoon for release, and keeps trying like hell to accept this new phase of life.  Partially, I’m just exhausted because raising a 6th grader, living with a cancer that won’t leave my body, and working long hours is just plain tiring (to be fair, I thrive on the craziness and stir), but tonight, when I should be able to just enjoy a little reading or a no brainer TV show, I am again engulfed by the reality of not accepting a divorce that is inevitable, nor something I chose, wonderful friendships I have damaged along this windy road, family I barely see because I am humiliated about what has happened, and a daughter who rightly so, is mad at the world because of what has happened in our lives in two years.  (She is also a new teenager, and with that, comes new pangs that even a healthy mama with a brain that works 100% can’t navigate. :))

The reality is I live two lives.  Monday-Friday, 6am-6pm is life one.  And when my sweet girl is with me, I go into “on” mode, but otherwise, the second life path is a struggle and few know my boundaries, expectations for myself, perspective on what is important today, my new questions and fears of commitment, what fierce loyalty means to someone ill, questioning if a porch swing partner can maintain a promise, questioning faith, the messiness of changing my last name and identity for marriage in the year 2012, and the biggest of all – questioning my own choice for a lifetime commitment of unconditional love and friendship.

Thank heavens today is a Monday.  The second life is dark until week end.

I may be the only person who genuinely celebrates the work week, because it is safer on my heart.  (And ironically, I am in charge of crisis communications in an industry that is fourth most dangerous for work place violence (just next to liquor stores and taxi cabs).  Sounds fitting for a Mel-like story,  right?)

Cheers to a productive and happy Tuesday.

Om Shanti, Mel

Simply put, I am too busy for cancer.

Really, it’s true.  My professional life demands a strong, healthy, 150% on the go, Mel.  And when I’m on, I am on.   Thankfully, I’ve learned to put aside this darn ailment and move forward when my work world or daughter needs me.  Today, in fact, I was asked for directions while visiting Siteman Cancer Center for my six month check up.  Dressed up in a suit and heels, I appeared more a pharmaceutical rep than a girl with cancer.  I teared up to myself after having to admit I too was there as a patient.

Age, sweats, a doo rag to cover lost hair or a suit and pearls, cancer most certainly does not discriminate.

My daughter asked me this week what I wanted for my birthday.  I said a new body. She offered a Barbie.  At 41, I accept.  It has a new body, comes with a thong, has larger breasts and lipstick that never fades. How can I lose?  And have you ever seen that bumper sticker that the cool biker chics wear that says, “I wanna be like Barbie, that “bit_h” has everything.”  Again, I point out, how can I lose?

All those years of being a serious cyclist, yogi and a regular workout girl are on hold, but darn it, they will be back.  Law of attraction, my friends!  Law of attraction. It just has taken longer than expected. And damn, I’m ready.  I feel guilty for sleeping so much and have to stay home more than my friends and family would prefer.  But it is what it is.  I go 150 mph all week and have to crash sometime.

Today however, that was validated.  It wasn’t an ideal visit, as it turns out I am not as far along on the path as hoped at six months and some meds will require adjustment with repeat radio-iodine treatments in Feb (and sadly, no bell), meaning, yes, I get to glow again and go through the treatment a repeat time with a smaller dose and another body scan.  BUT it could be worse -much worse -and for that I am grateful, so no worries, I will chin up, see myself fixed in time, take my AARP-sized pill-box of meds and be back to a new me at some time in the future.  For now, I choose moment to moment and a new promise of hope.

My sweet girl told me another great story this week.  She asked my mom what her friends talk about, and mom’s reply to my 6th grader was “we talk about the boyfriends we don’t have, flowers and surgery.”  lol!  Perhaps for my birthday this week, someone should purchase a gardening handbook.  A Barbie and some flowers seems appropriate in light of the silliness I enjoy each day.  🙂

On the upside, I couldn’t do a week such as this without a Murphy moment.  In addition to today’s madness, I have scheduled some additional radiology tests for tomorrow morning not realizing the time needed to take each, and yes, just before a good size Toastmaster’s meeting I organized at work.  Nothing like some intense GI work prior to public speaking to make a girl’s day, think?

Simply put, I am too busy for cancer.

Thank you for believing in me, and knowing I will kick cancer’s arse!   I will because of your love and support.

Namaste,

Mel

Don’t call him Hootie.

ok, so I’ve talked about my old life travels, but I’ve left off some of the great stories about the people I was lucky enough to meet along the way…..

– Daytona Beach, High School Grad Celebratory trip. H.S. friend, Missy, lost her fake ID to a cranky liquor store owner and his ‘behind the register bulletin board’, but I did meet a boy who called himself, “Troy Whitrock III”. A little movie star fake, sure, but to date, my dad still loves that some boy would create such a name, and I would believe. Perhaps he is a broadway star today. 🙂

– College trip, Gulf Shores and New Orleans for St. Pat’s Day. The XO girls drank with Woody Harrelson and Linda Lovelace (yep, the retired porn star next to the dueling pianos), while Harry Connick and that beautiful model girlfriend strutted by the ‘oxygen for sale’ store as we found our way to the Cat’s Meow or whatever happened to be next in those early NOLA days. We missed the state line on our way back to Gulf Shores and wound up in FL, but hey, it’s not every day you spend Patty’s Day with Lovelace or Harrelson, right?

– High School Family Trip, Bermuda. Younger brother (jr high age) ran directly (yes, literally) into Coretta Scott King. Larger-than-life body guards brought him to my parents very quickly to ensure that didn’t happen again. (Course, moments later a toilet reverse flushed on another patron so the pressure was off our family and hotel security was quickly distracted.)

– College, I was a nanny in Southampton, NY. While getting ice cream downtown with my 9 + 10-year-old girls, we walked by Christie Brinkley. Yes, a regular woman and just as beautiful without Photoshop. The girls were focused on ice cream choice, I was in awe of how you look that good without makeup. Seriously, does she have a fan that moves in front her at all times to get that “natural, just blown beautiful look?”

– Same Summer, polo from the poor man’s side of the fence, to see Ralph Lauren from afar (picture the Great Gatsby). On the upside, my nanny friends and I did meet Jimmy Cliff after sneaking into a club in Montauk. That was cool.

– Won tix via a local radio station to a Rams players event in downtown STL for my husband’s birthday. Hootie and the Blowfish opened. I learned quickly his first name is not Hootie, and you most certainly do not ask for an autograph as such.

– I am not sure to be proud or slightly embarrassed that I not only show up on the Fixx website in more than one state and venue still today, but may have stalked their tour bus on more than one occasion.

– Working Women’s Survival Show. Loretta Switt has had a survival show of her own with a facelift. (but hey no differently than breast augmentation, “You buy it or you grow it, it’s still your own.”)

– “It’s not unusual…..” Or is it?……..Tom Jones really does have the died hair thing going, wearing all black and carrying arm candy. (after hours bar in Nashville, TN). For real.

– Kevin Bacon is shorter than me. (outside the MOMA, NYC)

– Hagar’s Cabo Wabo is a real place with real stars. The NFL players thought we were all that until the Victoria’s Secret models walked in. But it was sure cool when the boys we met showed up in the All Star Game the next season on our home TVs. (Cabo, Mexico)

– I was honored to fit many a Hell’s Angel for a motorcycle seat over years of motorcycle rallies…just regular guys who know cool goes away and comfort does mean something with age. 🙂

– Everlife was the teen, hip Evanesence, and my sweet girl was all up in their front row, stalking like her mama. (so proud).

– Christy Turlington, many a news/sportscaster and athlete on planes, cab stops, hotel bars, and airports around the globe…..

– And finally, yes, I stroked Kevin Costner’s chest, like a crazed fan who didn’t think straight but could only lift an arm, smile, say hello and stroke the front of his denim shirt in the man’s own restaurant (and in front of the bathrooms no less). Unable to talk beyond the silly girl giggle (and yes in my mid-30s), I ran back to the table of his restaurant in Deadwood, SD to share with my coworkers who would eventually strike up a conversation with him in the men’s room. And yes, there isn’t a need to Photoshop my friend, Kevin, either.

Not quite a Murphy, but definitely a Mel.

M

Don’t watch the movie “Ray” just before Lasik surgery.

No worries, I was just fine years ago and still enjoy 20/20 vision today.  But a good friend and I laughed about my terrible movie choices, as I shared my choice for “A little bit of heaven” Friday night just before this week’s upcoming colonoscopy.  A woman dies of colon cancer.  Really, Melissa?  Read the back before paying, would ya? It’s like Murphy’s law really does follow me around.

I’ve elected to call Tuesday morning’s test, the “Scope and Discover” test.

Being Celiac means having the “scope and discover” test every three years for life, but I’ve postponed for obvious reasons as noted in previous blogs (seriously, how much can one person handle?), and now that postponement may mean something serious.  Really not sure the nurse practitioner should have said “what other kinds of cancer runs in your family?”.  That, coupled, with “rush” …….yeah, not exactly what I needed to hear.

I’m really trying, my friends.  Today, I actually brushed my teeth, showered, grocery shopped and purchased a hot new suit for work, but the reality is I know something isn’t right, and I’m scared.

The difference this go round- unlike the last 18 months of the storm- is that I am more scared for my family, daughter and friends than me.  They carry so much worry for me, and it’s not easy to watch and know I am the burden.  Of course they would disagree because they love me, but the reality is that no one chooses this much chaos, and yet life continues to hand it over.  And without the spouse to whom I am still married interested in my well being or his bonus daughter’s feelings, it is like another sucker punch in the stomach.

I pretend a lot.  I turn my “on” switch to green, and I can be present with the experience of what surrounds me, but I also know a lot about hibernating these days.  A size 6 on the outside, I instead feel like a thick, chunky walking inner tube of “boggy” pain around my middle every day and all the time. I wear the pearls and a suit, but you wouldn’t know what’s really happening inside my heart and body.  How many others out there do the same as me?

Before they diagnosed me Celiac, I blamed the pain on my ridiculous dating tales (of which, I could entertain you for 1000 blog posts) and stress from all the travel and being away from my sweet girl.  Turns out it was likely the beer and wheat products I ate to get over the silly boys that was actually part of the cause.  This time, I assumed the pain was anxiety and well, my perfect storm, of which many of you have lived with me.

Turns out I may have instead earned myself an ulcer or the unthinkable….

On the upside, Kate Hudson is colorful and darling in the movie I should never have rented, but she finds real love in the end.  Yeah, a weird and absolutely poor choice for the weekend prior to my “scope and discover” test but a necessary distraction nonetheless.

This time, Murphy plays a trick on me.  And for goodness sakes, I paid for the rental AND turned in late.

Mel

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