murphyormel

wacky reflections from a nutcracker wannabe

Category: reality

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

 

 

 

Why does doing what is right hurt so much?

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

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

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

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

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

We wonder was it right after all.

As a parent.

As a girlfriend, partner or spouse.

As a professional.

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

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

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

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

Namaste,

Mel

 

live your way into the answer.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Metta,

Mel

Type A in search of Dharma.

Type A in search of her Dharma.

 

live the questions now, by my Buddha Board.

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

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

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

And today there is no cure.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

love and light,

Mel

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

#PocketLarry #outrunningALS #ALSWalkSTL

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

prayers of love and light,

Melissa

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

thank goodness we have silliness to offset our vulnerable days.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mel

The only place the head bob is acceptable.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Safe travels. I have a flight to catch.
Mel

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))
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High Achiever May Lose it at Dishwasher

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

women really are like spaghetti

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mel

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

The dark.

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

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

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

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

The Junior Mint of Cancer.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

– Thank you to Temperpedic.

– Thank you to Siteman Cancer Center

– Thank you to my sweet girl.

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

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

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

Cheers,

Mel

IMG_1178 IMG_1176 IMG_1175 IMG_1172

I am Titanium

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

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

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

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

The messages do speak to us.

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

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

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

Because you rock.

Mel

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

wikipedia.org/wiki/Titanium_ore

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

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

Each other.  Today.  The Present.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

White lights,

Mel

Lasso the Moon.

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

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

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

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

Do you?

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

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

to the moon and back,

Mel

Confidence is the new sexy.

Confidence is the new sexy.

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

I do.

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

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

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

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

We don’t.

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

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

Yes, every year she says no.

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

Namaste’

Mel

  

Bright Red Mary Janes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mel

What if we were real.

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

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

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

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

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

Namaste’,

Mel

Tiny Delights.

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

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

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

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

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

The Pulitzer. The Nobel.

Oscars, Tonys, Emmys.

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

A pat on the back.

A kiss behind the ear.

A four pound bass.

A full moon.

An empty parking space.

A crackling fire.

A great meal.

A glorious sunset.

Hot Soup. Cold beer.

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

Enjoy it’s tiny delights.

There are plenty for all of us.*

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

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

 

What Tiny Delight did you enjoy today?

namaste’,

Mel

* – corporate ad (United Technologies)

Back to Seussville I go.

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

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

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

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

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

Life really is cyclical.

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

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

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

Mel

“Oh, the places you’ll go”- Dr. Seuss

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

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

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

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

Gossip hurts. And not unlike fifth grade dodgeball.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mel

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

“Oh, the Places Mel goes…..”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

xoxo,

Mel

Living two lives. Thank heavens it is a Monday.

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

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

A loneliness I hadn’t seen in many moons.

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

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

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

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

Cheers to a productive and happy Tuesday.

Om Shanti, Mel

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)

Quirky Murphy….and Mel

As you’ve seen in previous posts, Murphy’s Law* moments tend to bring me laughs along my windy, curvy, ridiculous, scary and ‘made for TV movie’ path. Feel free to laugh along. 🙂

– On a recent night out, I wore a lovely tangerine tank dress shear enough that I was covered, but not quite shear enough to notice my tattoo could be seen from the outside. While small and dignified, it’s not exactly that which I like to showcase for strangers. And of course, it wasn’t until we were at the event that I was alerted to such a fashion faux pas. Course that is still better than my young daughter announcing to strangers at the swim club that “momma has a tattoo” …..in her outside voice. 🙂

– Who else gets ‘Kiss Cam’ attention at the Cardinal Stadium ballpark sitting next to………… a work colleague? My colleague, Scott, and I kidded about it happening before it did, as I had just been on the stadium camera a few weeks before, and agreed to stick our tongues at one another something so far-fetched actually happened. Sure enough, there we were. Both of our cells immediately started ringing.

– ……and sadly, this isn’t my only unusual STL moment of big screen infamacy…..at a previous years St. Louis Rams game, I was with a friend who accidentally spilled his adult beverage on the folks in front of us. Because my parents tickets were third row on the ten yard line (not a mistake I suspect on my dad’s part to purchase seats directly in front of the Rams cheerleaders), we most certainly received a laugh from the camera man and some face time on the internal big screen. Now, the laughs were bigger than just the camera guy.

– My first time to visit Düsseldorf, Germany with a former and favorite rehab equipment employer, I was surrounded by my new distributor friends of which only a few spoke any English but hugged, toasted and smiled a lot. With very German grandparents, I proudly ordered without help off the German menu at a big celebration for our week together. After several large adult beverages, two complete entrees were delivered to just me. After that trip, it was necessary to ask for placement next to an English speaker on all future foreign travel opportunities.

– In trying to cook flash fried spinach like one of my favorite Italian restaurants on the STL Hill, without knowing, I purchased Okra rather than spinach. I could blame it on the grocery store header signs, but the reality is I am not a cook and wouldn’t know the difference unless Okra too came packaged in the pre-made salad bag. Regardless, I cooked the green stuff and forced my husband to enjoy. But as my sweet friend, Marla, says “You ain’t learning, you ain’t liven””.

– Never drop a Junior mint on your car seat on a 110 degree STL day.

– Years ago, I politely encouraged my husband to join me in dance lessons. He wasn’t thrilled with the idea, but he was open to give it a shot. Heads up my wise women friends, don’t select Monday night football as the evening for a six-week dance class.

– After a long travel day to Europe alone, I arrived in Amsterdam to not have luggage and less than an hour before our first distributor meeting. The local rep encouraged I shop at the airport, and my luggage (and work stuff) would show in the next 24 hours. (lol! Does he know me?) While I did pick some darling European fashion, I was without some of the “essentials”. Yes, those essentials. After a few days of washing in the sink and hanging to dry after the luggage followed us one city behind every move across the Western part of Europe, I begged my friend, Bert, to take me to a Belgium department store. He however wanted to work, and well, I’m a big girl, so I shopped on my own only to find that in the middle of Belgium, English speakers are not so prevalent. Instead of bras and panties, I now fancy a nice collection of Belgian sports bras….and in the wrong size. (Luggage arrived the evening before my flight home, but I purchased a beautiful leather briefcase in Pisa to house my new sports bras.)

Murphy and me. Like peanut butter and jelly.

Mel

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

The Sacred Lotus rises towards the light.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So too are you.

Om Shanti,

Mel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Melissa

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

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. 

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