murphyormel

wacky reflections from a nutcracker wannabe

Category: Personal

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

  

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 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

 

 

 

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

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.’

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.

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

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

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)

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

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 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

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)

Mister Rogers had it right.

I’ve lost touch with reality in light of the perfect life storm, and I know I am not alone as I receive countless emails, FB posts and Twitter direct messages confirming what I face is what you face.

At 41, am I simply wiser to life changing, or is it truly being jaded, over-thinking and being an over-the-top pensive thinker?

My music choices seem to favor darker artists these days such as the amazing Brandi Carlisle, Steve Gold or Evanesence, but my heart can be brought out of a funk when I see my daughter pin up photos of One Direction or some other boy band hottie out of Tiger Beat and just smile at me knowing I’ve been her.

Is this where each of us in our early 40s land when life is just that…..life?

We all have our own story.  And no one can live in our backward shoes, randomly tossed and sometimes flaky mind and up/down roller coaster of a heart except us.

How come no one says : “Go outside and play in the street”, like my funny grandpa? At least we knew he meant go play, be free, embrace life and innocence, give him some time for a nice cocktail, and keep yourself out of the police station.

Carefree and a summer of no shoes and catching fireflies.  Mr. Rogers really was right.  “the child is in me….and sometimes not so still.”.

Those days rocked. 🙂

maybe tomorrow I will wear yellow shoes, and prove to myself I still can be that young girl with the world in front of her.  I am grateful for a grandpa who knew catching a firefly was indeed a monumental moment to a kindergartener.  He believed in me and knew I would catch whatever I set my heart to catch.

Cheers on this Dad’s Day to my late grandpa’s and my own dad who cheer me on beyond the fireflies.

Mel

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

Humility at 30K’ feet.

I’m just one tiny being in this amazing entity. We all are, right?

Think about the next time you are on a plane, and as your altitude ascends, look down- your city, your neighborhood, your house, your friends, your fish….they all become something very tiny, then a flash, then just clouds…..

Is there a lesson in humility – meaning we are just a tiny piece of the bigger picture and our every day chaos is small when viewed from 30K’ feet?  Should we ask ourselves “what will this mean to me next year”?  What will this mean to my neighbor or the next generation?

Think of all we miss in terms of this moment to “just be” when ordering the cocktail, ignoring the flight attendant with the mask (I can, I know it by heart), calming the kids with whatever gooey candy is at the bottom of the bag, or starting the head bob sleeping motion because the plane’s white noise offers a peaceful moment where no one needs you. (I fully admit this traveler’s flaw.)

Instead, next time.  Look down and recognize your place.  Tiny, but with amazing capability.

Kindness matters.  Pay it forward when you get off that plane.  Pull down someone else’s luggage.  Let the rushed passenger before you go ahead of your seat.  Smile at the lady who instantly pulls out her cell phone when landing (and probably fits what would be a Seinfeld “loud talker”), but just be in that moment with those folks, and embrace your place in this big world and the problems, fears, joys and movement the people around you are also facing on their own personal life journey.

Many folks believe all things happen for a reason.  I am one of those people, but I respect that not all do.  For me, music, language and symbols appear, and these elements have always been something I can see and place together.  Do I always listen?  No.  Definitely not as I should.  Sometimes my ego gets the best of me.  But, I’ve noticed  since my recent “perfect storm”, the same word has been coming at me for several weeks – and through different teachers, music, books, church, even a movie…..  The word is “rebirth”- an awakening of some sort.  I don’t completely understand it yet, but I do think the diagnosis and the recent loss are connected.  And perhaps a tie to the Lenten season is timely.

Someone once told me that life is like a tapestry.  We don’t always understand why things happen as they do until we look back at the design  The story will then make sense.  (I’m not really seeing the story yet, and I soooo want to pull that orange thread, but I’ll let you know )

Humility takes all of this greatness, love, forgiveness, authenticity and raw “heart” and weaves together that tapestry (story).  And isn’t that what the greatest storytellers do anyway?  Teach.

BUT, we must be open to listen and not just hear. Me included. And in the last x many months at least, I haven’t listened as my own storm was brewing.  Only through quiet time for me, do I feel that gratefulness and now, humility.  These last few weeks have given me that opportunity.  Who in their right mind would say a cancer diagnosis was a gift?

Me. 

– I have been gifted knowing how many people love me- people I took for granted and/or didn’t tell directly what they mean to my life.  A network so much larger than just email or professional connections of LinkedIn or Twitter or Facebook- real people with real lives and real stories that make us all human.

– I have been gifted the ability to ask for help and take action to work on being stronger, both emotionally and spiritually.  “….finding my spiritual alignment…” as one colleague suggested might be necessary.

– While I no longer have the house I sold just a few months ago, I am grateful for my “intimate” condo that provides shelter for my sweet girl and me (without the yard work and ’21 tree threat’ of falling on my house again).

– I am grateful for a professional world that took care of me in my darkest hour  – a hospital that saw a scared patient and took me under their wing of care – and even today, wants only strength and a healthy me prior to my return.

– I am humbled by the beautiful blue skies and warm winds that four weeks ago seemed impossible with snow on the ground.

– I am humbled for the health insurance I do have after seeing the medical care in both Chile and Brazilian acute care and long-term care facilities.

– I am humbled for that which I can feed my family, and the culture I can share with my daughter after traveling to areas of the world without such gifts.

– I am humbled that I have been saving for college for 10+ years, and while it likely still won’t be enough, I have the choice on how to save our funds.  (course, she might be paying for my long-term care at some point.  Cycle of life, right? 🙂

– I am humbled that my daughter continues to thrive amidst the waves of change of which she had no control.  And intuitively just knows all will be well.  (now, if getting the dog out without her rolling her eyes  were only that easy).

I am grateful for my healing.  I am humbled by my blessings.

“Humility like the darkness, reveals the heavenly lights.”- Henry David Thoreau

Namaste’,

Melissa

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)

“Don’t ‘should’ on yourself”

I am fragile today. It happens.

A friend suggested it isn’t healthy to “should” on myself. She also suggested a trick she heard someone else use when they scold themselves for something they “should” have said or done….or “should not” have done or wish they would have done differently. The past is the past, and we can not control others’ behavior. Only our own. And today.

Here is the trick: Wear a hair or rubber band on your wrist and give a little snap when you “should” on yourself.

I will continue to heal, work, practice, embrace, release and grieve. All in time.

And a few healthy snaps on the wrist from time to time so not to “should” on myself.

Melissa

When a lonely girl misses human touch, is the $20 tip for the massage*, legal?

Let’s face it, we all adore “our stuff”- meaning, things we enjoy to help keep us happy and feel safe in our home space.  For my dad, it’s a Hawaiian shirt even in 30 degree weather and gloves, for mom, it’s an artsy shawl or groovy bangles, for my stepmom, it’s a glass of vino with a friend, for Zac, it’s his snowboard, for HJ, it’s DNA, a new molecule or something I can’t pronounce, and for my daughter and bonus son, it’s a smart phone, etc. We just each choose our game differently.

What brings me that “I’m safe and makes me feel like “home” feeling?”  

– My yoga mat (Nothing exists but the breath.  There is no ego.  There is only emotion and me.)

– An every night routine of reading and holding hands with my daughter before bed.  (well, the days of being called “mama” are over.  I take what I can get.)

– My Macs- all of them- and since the late, late 80s…. (it might be near cult member obsession.  I do own a bumper sticker “my mac is smarter than your honor student”.  That’s mac love.  That’s mac chic.)

– Human Contact/Touch, and lots more touch!  (OMG, I gave the masseuse a $20 tip last week. When you are lonely and miss human touch, is that legal?)

– My new pup, Kenny Rogers (even though he is shaggy today, needs a haircut as his current “doo” might be damaging his peripheral vision)

– My beautifully made and all fluffy and crisp, white “fake it to you make it Westin Heavenly Bed”- with high count sheets, comfy duvet and enough pillows you can’t find the headboard.

– A hot, bubble bath with a lavender or new yummy scent in my new bathtub

– Being on my road bike, completely in my own head with the rush and sound and smell of nature flying by me (course, that near death deer experience two years ago has put a damper on going alone these days)  Who else buys the $1K+ bike BEFORE signing up and completing the MS150?  

– My Uggs

– Scented candles – ocean, lavender, lilac, fresh linen, lovely! (though not a Yankee Candle Company fan after an “incident” with my Saab.  They didn’t come out looking so good, but I did personally send a love note to the CEO, COO, corporate attorney, CMO, and I suspect I might be on a banned list somewhere.  The local Saab dealership did however love the drama and did the repairs for free- I think they were proud of the local O’Fallon chutzpah!)

– French toast with blueberries and strawberries and lots ‘o syrup piled high (G-F of course)

– Reflexology (and for years, I hated feet, after seeing a dude on an airplane cutting this thick toenails then hanging them on the magazine rack NEXT to me….ick.)

– New perfume. (but nothing that smells like I might have smelled it over my shoulder in church, the bowling alley or on anyone over 80+ years of age.)

– A personal card that comes in the mailbox.

– Tulips, Gerberas or darn it….. any bouquet of fresh flowers that has a card and special note attached to my name.

– My family (my mom has made me the exact same G-F casserole for four years. I can’t stop her.)

– Valentine’s Day.  (Hey, I’m a markete(e)r, plus the reality is that “I love you” can never be said enough)

– Grandma used to make Shrove Tuesday donuts.  I miss those. (but I cook like my mom and they are full of “glue”)

– A beautiful piece of stained glass with the bright sun shining through.

– My Loreal #860 Lipstick. (and Bare Essentials makeup to remind me beauty isn’t a number. 🙂

– I’ve discovered how good my life is after something called “Jerseylicious” and “Big Rich Texas”.  Thanks, Kirsten.  And I’m not a TV watcher but a big reader.  This however is unbelievable stuff.  It’s fantastic and should be part of my therapy copay.

– Fine wine, great artwork and quotations that say something different to each of us.

We all need “our stuff” to feel safe in our space.  And after years and years of travel, my “stuff” and a safe space to call my own, is a necessity to a healthy me.  Love your own “stuff”!

Now, make your own list, and what you don’t have, set a goal to get.  Only you are stopping yourself.  

*  Massage Envy is a reputable business, and I am thankful for talented hands that take away pain and let me relax.  There is nothing inappropriate and clearly can’t be worse or anything near what I suspect a man does with his Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition. 

Why “Murphy”*?

“The chance of the bread falling with the buttered side down is directly proportional to the cost of the carpet.” – unknown

 

Funny things just happen to all of us. For me, it has become a normalcy. While the previous blog posts re. the cancer diagnosis are most certainly not “Murphy moments”, the “gooooiter” growth might well be.

And while it’s very hard to top being given honors from my friend, Mark, as a combo Jackie O and Dick Butkis, my ‘Melissa Murphy Moment’s’ are just part of what make me who I am. 🙂 Thus, this blog- “Murphy or Mel” – was born.

So, you ask, what is/has been a “Melissa Murphy Moment”……(and many of you will recall and giggle and/or want to share …it’s ok, my parent’s are fully aware of what they created.)

– Just out of grad school and teaching my first college class at 28, I wore a student provided adaptive hearing device into the ladies room accidentally still turned to “on”.

– Being new in my career and first real job (probably first or second year) and wearing red panties under white linen pants.

– Using the phrase “that’s a great money shot” when reviewing final production for our new television commercial with the (national food company) CEO sitting directly next to me (without knowing what the phrase meant until later AND being the only woman in the room). (btw- there really was a photo of a dollar bill in the actual TV spot.)

– Being awarded the very prestigious “40 under 40” award by the St. Louis Business Journal in 2010 after 400+ submissions, only to have a big apology and the award rescinded, because I turned 40 just three months prior. The graduate school Dean who submitted my entry entered my birthday incorrectly. (I keep it in my LinkedIn profile and resume because I earned that damn award.) My former CEO, Bill Shaner, called me to congratulate and shared great advice…”when did we go from being the rock star to the mentor?”. His wisdom and ability to laugh at the issue dulled the hurt. Until now.

– Trading in my dying but wonderfully fun Audi for a new Saab automatic, only to drive it thru the garage door in the first 24 hours. I wasn’t used to the difference after 20+ years with a manual transmission. Mol said “Mommy, why are we driving thru the garage door?” $1000 later, I owned a new garage door too. 🙂

– Having a great idea in the shower only to not have a notepad handy. So, I found a pantyliner, wrote my thought, carried to work and planted on my desk, got distracted by another project just as the (male) Division President came in and sat down to talk. Yes, panty liner in full view.

-Locking my keys in the car two times in the same day. Once at the gas tank. Once while the car was still running at 9:30 at night at the bank drop box.

– writing 100+ thank you notes before my daughter was born signed from “Melissa and Hannah” to instead name her “Mollyanna”

– crying when I got a tattoo the size of a quarter but being told to wake up when giving birth to my sweet girl. (ok, drugs and an episode of Oprah were involved there 🙂

– Scared of horses but dating a boy who I didn’t know was a national rodeo champion until three weeks later. He said Purina-Nestle.

– Asking to borrow the brand new shuttle bus for a two mile parade to have it not start in what would have been its first day in use- Just after the parade.

– Finishing a motorcycle riding class after dropping the bike, only to send and receive a letter from the IL Dept of Transportation thanking me for NOT getting my motorcycle license.

– Marrying a man with a Golden Retriever who has been beautifully house trained and won’t even get sick on the carpet. My yoga mat however? Not part of the training and more than once a select spot for Barkley’s sickness.

– Hiring a local lawn company to ‘pretty up’ my lawn to sell my house, only to have them do one spray and completely kill the yard in 24 hours, setting me back three months of sales opps and $$$ of watering…in the worst year ever to sell a house (2011).

– Asking for a fake name at the hospital for a recent procedure and getting a name with a misspelling and then best yet, a bill to her not me.

-And travel misadventure (a future blog for sure)…likely having an FBI record for an airport bomb threat scare (misunderstanding, really) in Cleveland; Watching news crews in Chicago surround our plane after some dude dropped a bag of large white powder as he entered first class (probably beignets mix- lol); Working a motorcycle rally in Laughlin, Nevada both before and after a gang motorcycle shooting hit national news; Being on a plane to Portland where the toilet blew up; Working truck stop focus groups in New Jersey with folks who lack teeth; accidentally carrying produce across the Chilean border; Booking a flight to Vancouver and realizing they meant WA not BC; Being stuck in countless airports all over the world- both with and without luggage; and one of my personal fav’s….being placed in an unmarked car in Buenos Aires and pretend texting (that wasn’t working) while hoping I was actually headed to a hotel in the right Argentine city and not being abducted.

We all have stuff, but how can you not giggle that things just happen? This is life.

No, this is my life. And I wouldn’t trade it for anything. 🙂

*http://www.murphys-laws.com/murphy/murphy-true.html

Never will I be a shrinking violet. Results..the day after the scan.

‘She believed. She could. So, she did.’ – unknown (but purchased at Hallmark 🙂

I had a dream last night. In it, I am walking alone though a set of unknown streets that don’t exactly feel safe, but I don’t see anything that is wrong either. I am alone and don’t feel directly afraid of any one thing in a way that makes me want to run, just a quicker walk to where I need to be. I keep moving, and as I get close to a door, a few people I call my “outsiders” in this dream walk me through to a safe auditorium. I don’t know them, but they feel familiar and most of all, safe.

I woke up.

Now, with a mom who is a psychotherapist and asks me if I’m stressed when I answer the phone with “hello”, I tend to overanalyze, and as such, it made me wonder. Who were these “Outsiders” in this dream, and why was I instantly safe in their company when alone I wasn’t so confident? I didn’t even need my dream book.

They are you. All of you.

See, the dream came last night just after I learned the best news I could possibly hear in this cancer nightmare…I learned my thyroid cancer is contained to the thyroid region only. It had not spread anywhere else in the body. I sobbed – as did my girlfriends who held my hands next to me- both before and after.

Do I get to ring the bell that says cancer-free yet? No, I have blood tests and more blood tests, another body scan and perhaps more treatment, but for today, I am contained and the radioactive iodine will work on the “bad” cells for months. (no worries, I will no longer be a threat to glow when sitting next to you 🙂 But that bell will ring, my friends. And I will eSend each of you a violet on that day and hand them out to the room of staff and friends and family as a thanks for your love, grace, prayers and peace. In fact, you are all invited to the event.

There has been so much said to me in the last few weeks, I can’t even begin to share the amazing sentiments and stories presented my way. We all have “stuff”. We just do. Some ask for help and are rewarded, others suffer privately and work from within. That’s ok. But don’t hide or cocoon for too long.

Even my Bath and Body Works “stress free” body wash says, “Breathe deeply for best results.” That is yoga in a nutshell. No wonder I crave the mat. And that packaging designer likely didn’t know the translation would end up here. What’s great is that my favorite packaging designer, Jodi (who works for a food company that freaks out over a picture of pork chops), said “I have every confidence you will bitch-slap this.”. Love that too! Both are real and raw and say something that kicks us into reality. Life just happens, and we sit in a corner, or we “Fight on” like my friend, Dan said. Or Laurie from SEB who quoted Oprah for me, “Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you really want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down.”

A lovely old friend from grade school reminded me “we are girl scouts and the one thing we learned is how to survive. Never forget to stay fierce” That rocks, Ms. Leigh Ann Broyles-Roberts.

That’s what my “Outsiders” did. 100’s of you. My circle of loving friends who are always there for me, and in this instance yesterday, Lisa Lindley Durzo, Teresa Helms Ellison, Kim Kastel Hackney and Kirsten Waal Newquist, Michelle Foley (via phone, text, and FB ‘on the spot’ addict). They loved me and held me up in what- thus far- has been my darkest hour. They will stand at my side in one year when we ring the bell together with my daughter and family next to me. They got up at 6am and drove my arse over to STL not knowing what would happen, or what we might face- but the “girl power” as Lisa says would get us all through. And she was right on.

Was this a nightmare or a gift? Is cancer a wakeup call to make change? Was it meant to show me that “outsiders” are not out side at all? Certainly, I am facing some additional challenges separate from this health issue, but I will not shrink in that area either. I will move forward regardless of what happens outside of my hoola hoop. Never have I nor will I be a shrinking violet.

A new and wonderfully loving nurse friend, Sue Beeler, shared an original comment that should be a prayer in its own right (and I will find a way to market its use in some way at HSHS), but her words inspire, “Think from a place of peace, act from intention, do with grace, and you will be ok no matter the situation.” (copyright, Beeler, 2012.)

As with any scary health illness, cancer is a personal story -so personal and experiential, a person is never again the same…..And I suspect for anyone who crosses its path as friend, partner or family.

At least for me, the gift of the outsiders- YOU- have changed my path forever. 🙂

Namaste’ (the divine in me blesses the divine in you.)

Mel

P.s. Matt Damon, Emelio Estevez, Scott Baio, Patrick Swaze, Tom Cruise…they have nothing on any of you. The swirl of a gift that came with the friends at my side so I would not be alone, prayers, love, wishes, notes, incredible shares, electronic posts, emails, cards, flowers, gifts (yeah, folks give gifts when you get cancer….I had no idea. Next time, I will hint sooner for a car.) Love to you all.

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