murphyormel

wacky reflections from a nutcracker wannabe

Category: Love

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”

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

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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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

 

 

 

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 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”)

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.

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

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

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

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

Champagne High…”where will I be when I stop wondering why?”

“All things happen for a reason”

“God only gives you what you can handle”

“You will be stronger because of this experience.”

If all of these were true, why the need for psychotropic drug therapy?

I’m questioning so much these days.  And for all the years I preached “all things happen for a reason”, only one person ever called me out.  Was he right?

I wonder as another health scare comes my way -still in the middle of this stormy weather my daughter and I face-what have I done to create such a weather pattern of chaos and hurt?  I can’t bear for my parents to sit with yet another doctor and hear what could again be the worst a parent can hear, much less another sit down chat with my sweet daughter to explain the stomach pain and need to rest so often.  It simply isn’t fair to any of the people who love me.

I’ve wondered if in a past life I did something that causes today’s penalty, or if it is possible that we suffer as a group today to prevent pain in a future life. Or, am I simply over thinking what is either a pipe dream of justification, or not facing what is real life.  Sometimes we just don’t know when the mudslide will hit.  There is a part of me that feels guilty and selfish about complaining through any pain and this endless sock in the stomach of unknowns, when random acts of crime and hurt affect folks every day, every minute all around the world.  Perhaps I’m simply getting mine in one big lump sum.  I kid that someday God and I will have a long talk about the “why” of this all.

A friend recently said that the only control I have in all of this muck is my attitude.  And while I get it logically, the emotional side of what’s inside my circle of control is pretty thick these days.  And damn, I don’t even like Champagne to add to the mix.

Cheers to the unknown and always asking why.  That I can do.

Mel

“…..our story’s completed, but it’s a long way from done….Where will I be when I stop wondering why...”**

**  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3oLcDhIWxuY  (Champagne High, Sister Hazel)

The Sacred Lotus rises towards the light.

Sometimes called the Sacred Lotus, this flower often symbolizes beauty, perfection, purity and grace.  The lotus flower grows in muddy water, yet the dirt and mud fall off its leaves and petals, keeping it clean and pure. A lotus flower is born in water, grows in water and rises from water to stand above it unsoiled, raised in the world but having overcome the world, or living unsoiled by the world. In turn, the lotus is often viewed as a symbol of aspirations to rise towards the light. *

51,183 participants walked yesterday for the 14th Annual Susan Komen Walk for the Cure.  700+ teams of survivor family and friends and an epic energy for one cancer filled downtown STL.  A veteran motorcyclist was individually saluting each survivor as she passed.

As we passed him, I wondered how many other folks like myself are facing some type of treatment for their own internal pain and offering daily prayer for good health and energy along with these 3000+ breast cancer survivors.  I noticed parents, sisters, brothers, grandkids, spouses and those on the brink of being married, celebrate their loved one in pink clearly at their side through the fight and continued success.  The morning hit me in a way I didn’t expect- 1.  we all need a survivor team of dedicated love and support, and 2. cancer has a ripple effect.

Just as the melancholy began once again to set in, I looked to my right and saw I wasn’t alone.  And I was ok.

In the evening, I was lucky enough to visit the profound and peaceful Chinese Lantern Festival.  “Elaborate outdoor sets crafted of silk and steel celebrate Chinese culture through bold color, dazzling light and striking design.”**

The Lotus Flower exhibition felt timely after the morning of both powerful group energy and a silent internal reality.  But once again, I wasn’t alone.

The Confucian scholar, Zhou Dunyi (1017-1073) wrote: “I love the lotus because while growing from mud, it is unstained.”

Cheers to the pink that surrounds us all!  The ‘Warriors in Pink’ of Ford say, “Courage has many faces.  And every one is beautiful.”.

So too are you.

Om Shanti,

Mel

* http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/things-to-do/events/special-exhibitions/lantern-festival/chinese-lantern-fun-facts.aspx ** http://www.ksdk.com/news/article/325267/105/14th-annual-Race-for-the-Cure-raises-more-than-24-million-

“The well lived life of a beautiful young man.”

Privileged to work for the kind, loving colleagues, I do, I was again reminded today what is important in our lives.  Priority.  Love.  Family.  Faith.

As I embraced both heartache and celebration of a true hero’s life today -a near 16-year-old boy who has endured, battled, embraced, taught and loved through 8+ years of Leukemia, I was reminded that while my own challenges through mud continue, others too have their own muddy mountains that slip and slide.  We also have hands that reach for us in the dark, heal our heart over time and with amazing courage, love us through darkness and light.

We were not surprised that this young man indeed “practiced what he preached” as his dad shared that M’s words to his middle school graduates just a year ago included the following:….(messages from which we all should live and take on our individual journeys…)

1.  “Help others with disabilities.”  They are not defined by the disability.

2.  “Contribute to your community.” M was always in the corner of the disadvantaged.

3. “Always be kind to one another”.  Kindness matters.

We were graciously offered that M. knew “the power of his purpose was to inspire others to do good”.  And how can you not want that when seeing those bright eyes and big grin flash a spirit so real, piercing and full of faith and adventure, even through fatigue, challenge, change and the unknown?

Cancer is a curse and a blessing, and this young, amazing and ingenious man knew and lived this through his Faith and sharing that which he felt with others.  “It is a curse because of the suffering. It is a blessing because of what flourishes from its presence.”

And finally, what struck me most personally, was a line that flashed on a beautifully prepared memorial video on M.’s life. “Family means never being left behind or forgotten.”  

My friends, love those in your life today.  Ensure they understand you will not leave them alone when frightened and unsure of the journey ahead.  Pray. Hope. Believe. Love. And fierce, fierce loyalty always, as this brave family has done for their sweet M.

We are honored to have known you, M, or know those who love you.  We are stronger for the gifts you have given and the messaged coins you have showered upon our hearts.  We are gifted your presence and belief in a higher power that “asked” you to suffer for a reason I believe you know today in a more peaceful setting.

Today touched me, and I am thankful from a place that even I don’t understand.

“After all, to the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure.” – Albus Dumbledore.

Om shanti, my young man.  Some day we will meet, and you will tell me how and why the mountains make us whole again.

Melissa

A gift

A loving friend gave me a beautiful print today…perfectly timed as it was another hard day with a major milestone through my perfect storm……. AND which I will overcome in time.

The quote is simply too beautiful to keep to myself:

– be passionate about life…
– embrace your challenges and you will be wiser….
– keep the faith
– love those on your path….
– laugh, dance, love
– laughter brings us together in spirit
– hope, believe, pray
– peace to you, my friend.

—–AB Scolarice

Many thanks to my loving stepmom for this gift, as the milestones and mud paths with support take me forward towards light.

This is life, and I WILL be ok. There is light ahead. A higher power knows and looks out for me.

I can’t explain, but every affirmation, prayer and person who reaches out for me on this every changing journey touches something deeper than they know. Sometimes hard to hear and sometimes loving, but all with good intention and love. I simply need the hand that reaches towards me….
And when I least expect, you appear.

I am blessed, humbled and loved by my family and friends..even in sadness. It doesn’t make me a victim, it makes me human and vulnerable and real.

Each of you reading this are with me on this journey. Thank you from deep, deep down.

Om shanti,
M

Grief is not a straight line.

I progress. I regress. I progress again.

The Mud Run yesterday was a perfect metaphor for moving forward uphill, sliding down hill, uphill again, steady straight running towards an end goal, and a kind hand reaching to pull me out of the mud pit. Dirty and laughing, breathing through difficult obstacles, feeling the need to be with the pack, staying true to my own emotional needs, physiologically pushing myself…and frankly, just keeping from passing out before a finish line.

But my team of new friends looked out for me and cheered me on, even with a body in transition.

“I must conquer loneliness.
I must be happy with myself or I have nothing to offer.
Two halves have little choice but to join; and yes, they do make a whole
But two wholes when they coincide …
That is beauty.
That is love.”
– unknown

Grief is not a straight line.

Melissa

My mom. My superhero.

She always believes in me. The real me. The authentic me.

My mom, my superhero. She just knows.

She loves who I am. At two. At 10. During puberty. At 17 and taking me to Mizzou J-school for the first time. In my early 20s when I married my daughter’s dad not knowing what marriage and parenting truly entailed. As my career evolved, and I called home from all over the world.

She embraced every adventure as if she was next to me on the plane, and closed her eyes and sent me white lights when I made choices that a mom can endure but can’t stop……(parasailing in a foreign country, being the passenger on the back of a motorcycle in cities far away from home, working a trade show with a shooting, being ill in Tokyo, Vegas, Mexico and other distanced cities all alone, living away in Summers in college with strangers on Long Island and loving NYC on weekends with other adventurous and underage 19 year olds, enjoying my share of New Orleans and many a trip with the college girls- even when missing the state lines. Lol.)

She gave me the courage to be who I am, and the guts to rock some adventures most folks wouldn’t consider.

She has empowered me to speak my mind in light of conflict and challenge, and be the person I am meant to be. She taught me to be strong, speak up and laugh along the way.

It is because of her I am able to take on anything and know – with my whole heart- I will not just survive ….. but own.

It is because of her I am not afraid.

It is because of her that I want to be stronger, better as a friend and mom and a new me. A healthy me- both in body and mind, heart and soul.

When my daughter was born, mom held her for the first time and looked at her as if that single loving moment could never be enough or more powerful. When divorce followed, she held my hand and cried with and for me. When the wild side of being single and newly divorced hit, she laughed along with girlfriends at my misadventures. When dating the wrong boys went on and on, she kept laughing, only now, she was sharing with her own circle of women friends. They laughed too. When the cancer came, she held it together, but I know privately she grieved for me.

She always believes in me.

Most folks don’t know she has a bachelor’s in political science and a minor in Russian from the University of Illinois. She taught school in inner city Chicago during the riots while dad was in law school. And when her own world faced challenge, she followed her own life’s path change and worked full time concurrent to achieving a master’s in social work to start her own FT private practice in psychotherapy. She rode her bike across Ireland in her 40s, started a band (the aging hippie band) and climbed the Grand Canyon in her 50s.

She embraces friendship and love as most people never fully appreciate. And as her own wise circle of women friends would concur, she is lovable, artsy, quirky, incredibly bright, cultured, polished and an amazing feminist woman to adore and idolize.

She is my superhero.

I am grateful, blessed, honored and only hope, I too can give my own sweet girl the same gift some day.

Om shanti…..
M

Microscope or Kaleidoscope…know your teen talk & let the colors bloom.

A good friend told me this week that his son, Levi, articulated the difference in how people use their lens on life; meaning, a microscope, a telescope, or in his case, a kaleidoscope.  I love what this says about how we each perceive the world differently. Cheers to a young man with this type of thinking.  Let the colors bloom!

My own world has entered tweendom (i.e. the edge of puberty), so our “lens on life” changes moment to moment.  It happened in a flash.  Just two years ago we were dressing American Girl dolls and holding hands in public.  Public!  Today, not so much.  Brand name clothes, texting, anxiety over the boys and fashionista challenges.

She always knows in hindsight when one has hit, but in the moment it is occurring, the rolling the eyes or stomping down the hall doesn’t make sense to either of us.  Just moments before, she has asked for ice cream or a Webkinz.

Moms and dads everywhere, how and when did that happen? No one asked me if I was ready for the transition 🙂

I’M NOT.

So, together my daughter and I have created a list of tweendom thoughts for adults.…no differently than Mr. Rogers told us in grade school (when putting on those blue sneakers with that big smile and great soundtrack), the same thoughts and approach to communication apply to all of us….young, tween, teen and old(er).  

Consider the following and apply to your own partner, sibling, parent, child or friend.  And be present.  It’s not easy, and I see myself do the same things, but hearing my own girl call me out makes it much more real.

– “I need space that is my own and alone time.”

– “I can’t do more than one thing at a time.  And if I am to do multiple things, tell me what to do first (i.e. prioritize).”

– “Don’t talk to me when I am doing something else.  What do you really want me to do?”

– “Don’t assume I understand.”

– “Don’t interrupt.  It hurts my feelings.”

– “I don’t actually know (even when you want me to) WHY I feel the way I do. Sometimes I’m just sad.” (Hormones and/or physiological balance are part of being human.)

– “Don’t leave me in the dark without information.  I jump to conclusions ” that may/may not be more harmful than you trying to protect me. (If you are upset, fragile, angry or scared, tell me why. Don’t make me guess. I don’t read minds.)

– “I don’t want to talk right now, and it’s not because of you.”

– “IDK means I Don’t Know.”  Tweens may use language differently than an adult perceives.  Ensure you are speaking the same language- both live and in text.

Good luck to all of us.  Attention span, technology, teendom, generational differences……they are ever-changing and without a handbook.  But the greatest gift of all. 🙂

Let the colors of our “lens on life” bloom!

Melissa

p.s.  In a college course I taught last Fall, they told all of the instructors that how we taught years ago doesn’t work today.  Kids’ attention span is 10-15 minutes.

The wise Dr. Seuss said, “Be who you are…”

Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind. by Theodor Seuss Geisel.

My friend, (Fast) Eddie Pfeiffer, used to say “Ride On”, and when he passed away two years ago doing what he loved more than anything – being on his motorcycle – those words became prophetic for all who knew and loved him.

I wrote on his Facebook page that week in May of 2010:  “We are blessed with unexpected friendship, gifts of learning and moments that change how we look at our own lives. In his sad passing this week, an old friend has reminded me to live in the moment, never compromise my spirit and embrace unconditionally. Eddie, I thank you.  There is great respect in living your life on your own terms. You will be missed.”

How many of us live our life on our own terms?  Really, truly, as WE choose?  Is it fear of not conforming?  Fear of being alone?  Fear of judgment?  Because our parents “said so” when little, or because the clothes, car, career must not be just right to others’ standards?  And how as a parent do I help my sweet girl find her fit too, unconditionally and without judgment?

As I think about Eddie today, I can think of some other wonderful people in my life that live in this same admirable way, meaning on their own terms:  Teresa E., Pam H., Sandy K., Bob N., Mike H., Kim B,, Ruth H., Brad A., Lisa D., and more…..  I admire that some folks just get it.  They say no, make change and move on when things don’t work for them.  They move forward without excuse or apology.

We are here for a short time, and in that time, we have only our own path to ride.  We can’t control or provide excuses for others’ behavior, we can only be our own healthiest “me”.

An old friend gave me a ring just months before this recent madness in my life hit its perfect storm.  The inscription reads “Be Brave”.  Whether prophetic or planned, it is a gift and a timely reminder of that which I need to work  on – living life on my own terms.

Be Brave. Love Life. And of course….“Ride On”– E. Pfeiffer

I’ll try harder if you will.

Melissa

(You can’t go around being what everyone wants you to be, living your life through other people’s rules, and expect to be happy and have inner peace. – Dr. Wayne Dyer)

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