murphyormel

wacky reflections from a nutcracker wannabe

Tag: life

Anything happens all the time. 

May you meet Joy in 2016.

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

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

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

Joy says so too.

Metta and Merry 2016,

Mel


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

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

An ode to simplicity, compliments of our pioneering Pilgrims…

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

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

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

Finding grace and gratitude in simple things:

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

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

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

Mel

  

George was curious. So too am I.

Many of us grew up with Curious George.  Learning, discovery, adventure, and observation through wide eyes and creative wonder.

So why not me too?

  • The U.S. is one of the most obese countries in the world, and we proudly brand drive-thru “fast” food.  NOTE: We are sitting while we order AND drive with food in our laps. How about a running path around the nearest Taco Bell?
  • Why do they tell me to print my photos for safekeeping after years of floppy discs, zip drives, DVD’s/CD’s, external hard drives, jump drives and now ‘Clouds’ of all shapes and service?
  • Why when you sell a home must it look ‘lived in’ but not as if YOU live there?
  • Ever notice how easy it is to mimic a friend’s linguist tendencies? For example, an uptick at the end of sentence instantly trying to sell you a statement as a question? (NOTE: Same approach works with adding, “right?” at the end of the same phrase.)  And worse, we nod in agreement, as the approach works.
  • Is it just me, or is the premium retail outlet’s name, “White House, Black Market (WHBM)” slightly, well, awkward?  I have some gorgeous suits from WHBM, but sitting down to approve that brand name certainly should have raised some eyebrows, right?  Even an acronym with BM offers the marketer in me pause.
  • How did my clothes become cool ONLY during high school homecoming spirit week? I am not old enough for my sweet girl to go through MY closet for old school, ’90’s theme’ day.
  • Why do 14-year-old teenagers insist on only yelling or texting to have a conversation from a different room? Normal decibel or same room is rarely a first choice.
  • Our sweet adopted (and former puppy mill mama), Lou, has heart-breaking separation anxiety.  Amazingly, lying under my feet plus this pheromone collar stop the shakes. She can also sleep sitting up and instantly wake running for the food bowl not seen yet heard.  She ironically doesn’t require a text or megaphone to know dinner is ready.
  • Why do college textbook writers insist on creating definitions for lingo that will NEVER be used in the real world? What marketer is ever going to be the Board of Director’s rock star by reciting three paragraphs that essentially means, Be the Brand.
  • Why do socks disappear?  We all know they do and still no one knows the answer.
  • How can there be so many television shows themed with wives…sister wives, retro wives, wife swap, basketball wives, angry birds, oops- wrong medium, similar concept.
  • Isn’t an antique store a fancy way to say “the next home for my leftover and/or mismatched purchases?”
  • Is Snoop Doggy Dog a real name, and if so, why doesn’t American Express show me that on the card in its promo efforts?  Just to see the staffer take that application would make their past advertising campaign “Priceless” once again.

Enough curious observations for this George today.

Mel

Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 6.11.49 PM

The abstract beauty of loving and being loved.

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

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

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

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

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

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

And always abstract. We are human.

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

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

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

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

The abstract and unexplainable beauty of loving and being loved.

White lights,

Mel

love-wallpaper

 

 

 

Most likely to be in the Journal of Mass Spectrometry.

Wait, that was my brilliant brother, not me. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Her job; however, is simply to be.

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

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

Metta,

Mel

page40_picture0_1357687352

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

Just because:

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

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

we topple over. we get back up.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You are enough.

white lights,

Mel

 

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

the creative brain. know us. love us anyway.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Om Shanti,

Mel

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

Be gentle with yourself.

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

All of whom have or had some form of cancer.

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

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

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

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

Om shanti,

Mel

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

Why does doing what is right hurt so much?

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

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

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

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

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

We wonder was it right after all.

As a parent.

As a girlfriend, partner or spouse.

As a professional.

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

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

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

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

Namaste,

Mel

 

live your way into the answer.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Metta,

Mel

Type A in search of Dharma.

Type A in search of her Dharma.

 

live the questions now, by my Buddha Board.

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

more than just satisfying, we crave meaningful.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Play ball. Play big. Play with meaning.

Mel

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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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mel

Proposal only (57K+ today):

Full show: (27K+ today):

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

thank goodness we have silliness to offset our vulnerable days.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mel

reading glasses do not alter curious observation.

curiosity killed the cat.

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

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

Cheers to never-ending curiosity,

Mel


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

The corn.

IMG_6418

“never do for a teenager that which they can do for themselves” – mom

lol, my brave, psychotherapist, mom said that to me months ago, and I am watching my own 14-year-old…. well, NOT always do that which she can for herself….unless there is a consequence from me.

I suppose I too was the same at that age. I’ve blocked a lot, as of course, I only recall cleaning my room without being asked, playing classical (yeah, right) music softly while doing homework immediately upon return from school, cleaning the dishes without being asked and making gourmet dinners for the entire family after walking all the neighborhood dogs and babysitting for free.  lol!

The 60s.  The 80s.  And today.  Girls will be girls.  Trips to the mall with no money and small figures to try on clothes we couldn’t afford but giggling and following the cute boys who appeared more interested in the video arcade than our awkwardness.  Fashion trends that used to be magazine cutouts from Teen Beat are now iPhone apps or Instagram polls to determine the best dress or shoes or nail trends with immediate inputs from our girl ‘squad’. I remember roller skating parties with hard rock hair, lip gloss and the hope of a cute boy to ask me to slow skate to Rick Springfield or Loverboy, or the school or regional teen nights where again we waited our moment to slow dance with cute boys to the same Rick Springfield or Journey favorites.  Girls will be girls.  The motive is the same, the approach very different.

We rode our bicycles all over town and to the pool day in and day out, only coming home for meals and darkness. Wore t-shirts over our bikini’s because of feeling self-conscious. We called one another on our princess phones to chat up who liked whom, and whom should ask who to the Sadie Hawkins dance.  Today, they text directly without a face to face reality of body language, speak in group chats (and forget who is included), forward information behind one another’s back, create fake identities, “borrow” WIFI, and try leaving the house in outfits a dad wouldn’t approve, watch the “like” frequency grow on their Instagram and Twitter accounts, flirt in a much more overt approach than sneaking notes in class with alter ego’s (i.e. the Soda Pop gang of my own elementary days), and have to delete the photos mom watches online (because well, I pay for the phone, and that is the deal)……but when we as parents really evaluate our teens of today…...the outcome our own kids seek today remains exactly the same as we sought at their same age.

But…..my sweet girl is approaching teen-hood with different tools in the toolbox.  We both wanted the same things at 14:  To be liked. To be kissed. To fit in.  Somewhere. Anywhere. To feel safe. To feel confident. To have our parents trust and respect our choices and privacy.  To not get in trouble or be grounded or frankly, caught when we did cross a line.

It is the right of passage to push boundaries at this age.  It is a healthy part of development that they do seek the edge, and it is our place as parents to teach coloring inside the lines.  We are both doing our part, but it isn’t easy.  Sometimes, it is damn hard.  And still no one offers me the handbook?  So I do the best I can.  Sometimes I get it right.  Other times, not so much.

So as parents, how do we keep them safe, instill confidence, ensure the toolbox stays within the lines and doesn’t place them in a social bullying situation that appears easier today with a click of the button in a world WE created?  I’ve often joked that my use of Breck hairspray likely contributed to global warming; but the internet offering opportunity for endless wonderful resources also offers endless new areas of temptation;  processed foods make life faster and easier, but perhaps not healthier (and Celiac disease more prevalent).  Friends of my generation, we created this world, and so as parents and consumers, we must face the darker side.  Our tool box has changed too.

There are no easy answers, but I do have to give my sweet girl the trust I wanted from my parents, and the resources and knowledge to feel confident, remain safe, and know she is unconditionally loved.  I trust her to make good choices.  And when we do not agree, there are, in fact, consequences. In our house, there are rights, and there are privileges.  They are very different.  No, we don’t always agree on the difference.

That however is the fun and balance and journey of this parent-teen relationship….seeking what works for us in 2015 with the toolbox we have today.

Cheers to our own children repeating the same phrase, “never do for a teenager that which they can do for themselves.’  The world will be different at that time, and so too their toolbox.

White lights,

Mel

A fork. And a road.

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

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

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

So what next?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

White lights,

Mel

you are only as interesting as your shoes

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

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

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

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

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

Om Shanti,

Mel

I thank you for loving me.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mel

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

The mat is a magical place. Just breathe.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The mat is a magical place. Just breathe.

Om Shanti,

Mel

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

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

I dance at red lights.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Om shanti,
Mel

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

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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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?

Mel”ness” in a Murphy way.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mel

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

The Junior Mint of Cancer.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

– Thank you to Temperpedic.

– Thank you to Siteman Cancer Center

– Thank you to my sweet girl.

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

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

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

Cheers,

Mel

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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

  

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

Simply put, I am too busy for cancer.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Simply put, I am too busy for cancer.

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

Namaste,

Mel

Don’t call him Hootie.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Not quite a Murphy, but definitely a Mel.

M

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mel

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

“All things happen for a reason”

“God only gives you what you can handle”

“You will be stronger because of this experience.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mel

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

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

The smack down of STL humidity is a lot like life. It just happens.

….and we embrace, endure, unleash our creative spirit, and take the journey back to ourselves.

I tend to run at 100mph most of the time.  It’s perhaps an escape mechanism, long legs and heels, or perhaps it’s just type A madness from which I cannot escape.  But regardless, I too must crash from time to time to refresh, renew spirit and ask for spiritual alignment.

My supervisor teases me that as an extrovert, I am in my element when “on”, and as such, the energy pushes me through even the toughest of anxious situations.  But these moments do test my ability to be “on” in the same way I have always known, when my personal life “storm” isn’t as obvious publicly.  So, sometimes the crash is even harder on my spirit.

Frankly, at work, with my sweet girl or with a close friend or family, I can either escape totally from the “storm” or be candid about the real me.  And here too, I get that same release in some strange way.  But when the escape moment is over, there is not a metaphor more suitable than like walking outside into the STL humidity that smacks you in the face to bring you back to the reality of our lives.  The wall of heat that hits you hard as you walk out of a cool, safe place.

We all carry “stuff” with us on our journey.  Just this week, I learned of a peer who has been facing an emotional wound he keeps close to the vest.  And while his family enjoyed incredibly loving and optimistic news to remedy this wound just this week, it reminded me again of how we break a leg and stay home but an emotional wound hits, and we still get up, drink coffee, make the bell for the early morning meeting and go home to that reality.  It’s all around us, and yet we don’t know who embraces what and what path they take to heal themselves.

It affirms I am where I am meant to be, meaning the people who cross my path at a given moment and reach out to ask if I am ok even when they don’t know the big picture.  I am incredibly honored by the folks that read this blog and tell me when I had no idea it reached as many, and in as many ways as it has.  My original intention was a cathartic way to reach anyone when I was overwhelmed by my own loneliness, and instead, I learned so many of us face these same anxieties, fears, loss on a day by day, and sometimes moment to moment basis.  You are not alone, my friend.

Yesterday was a vulnerable day.  Last weekend was full, lovely and healing.  Folks see me and forget I have cancer, OR know the other losses, and assume the cancer is gone because the early treatments are done.  And yet, I can’t forget either.  They are my personal humidity smack down, and no one can live in my shoes but me.  The road ahead is long and windy…..and frankly, still pretty damn scary.

But my daughter and I are just two entities in God’s plan.  And we are still keeping it together- day in and day out.  My daughter is my role model for resilience and acceptance.  And she doesn’t even know the strength and love she gives me each and every day to get through this madness and mess.

I remember the first time I could see myself in the mirror after Lasic surgery years ago and thinking “where did those wrinkles come from- they weren’t there before”….lol.  I guess life is a lot like that.  We take off the glasses and reality presents itself in full view.

And then we move forward with vulnerability in some moments, with grace in others.

Om Shanti,

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

In our house, going to the therapist was like an annual dental checkup.

And as I reread that title, you might read two different ways. LOL!  I meant it a positive.  No joke, in our house, we look at a visit to the therapist like a check up.  You break a leg, you visit the hospital.  You get a cold, you see the doc.  Why would your mind and soul not get the same important attention?

I’ve joked in previous posts about prepaying psychotherapy for my sweet daughter after all she has watched of my silliness and life changes, but it’s not a joke anymore.  She is fully aware of why therapy is important and how it can nurture, enhance and lead us to find our authentic self…..even as the journey is ever-changing.

High achievers don’t like to fail.  And for some, therapy feels like failure.  But why?  1.  It’s private and no one needs to know. 2.  It’s healthy.  Just imagine the peace in the world if we gave ourselves permission for daily reflection, quiet time or meditation and weekly therapy, like we do to watch Big Bang Theory (for goodness sakes, we enjoy reality tv, but we don’t look ourselves in the mirror?)?  3.  If you get an unbiased source to just listen to your “stuff”, where is there downside?, and 4.  You receive confirmation, kindness, call outs on your own behavior and likely learn to be a better friend, partner, and/or parent in the process.

But I was raised to know it’s healthy.  And as such have been very transparent and open to the need in my life to ask for help and take action to receive.  So cheers to a new account or spin-off angle on the 401K or CD option for psychotherapy use after 2025!

Don’t be afraid of looking in the mirror.  It’s ok to see the real you, embrace, understand and seek support.

Namaste’,

M

p.s.  And you must find the right fit for you, and all therapists know that and want the same, so, if #1 or #2 isn’t right, keep looking.  It’s a lot like a serious relationship, but it isn’t easy if you have to “break up”.  Pick someone you will share all and not sell them on being someone you are not just to hear, you are fine.  The good ones know better.

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

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

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

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

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

I’M NOT.

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

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

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

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

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

– “Don’t assume I understand.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Melissa

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’ll try harder if you will.

Melissa

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

So sweet is the soul mate.

Remember those “top 25 things” you want FB friends to know about you? Well, in Feb of ’09, I was new and offered up the following on my page…”#7. I am blessed to have had more than one soul mate in my life. For me, a soul mate is a person so pivotal you are never again the same.”

Since that post, I’ve experienced significant loss and don’t feel any different about what a soul mate does for you- even when you don’t ask. (Wasn’t there a Garth Brooks song about “Unanswered Prayers?”) A soul mate IS a person you embrace, love and cherish but also SO pivotal in your life, you are changed forever. Never again the same person. AND regardless of outcome.

Go home, call, email, send a note, and/or tell your own soul mate/friend that they are that person for you. They deserve to know. And you likely have done the same for them and need to hear in return. If not, at least you get a great big bear hug, and research shows human touch keeps us healthy.

I feel gratitude for those soul mates who have entered my life and made a difference in who I am today. Heartbreak has come along the way, but hey, “The Road Less Traveled” was a best seller for a reason, right? A HIgher Power has indeed blessed me with more than one person who has been a soul mate/friend on my life-learning path. I continue to learn from their action(s), while I uncover truths about my future. I am looking for light through depth and darkness, and while some moments are really tough, I am calmed in knowing that “this too shall pass”. It isn’t easy, and grief is no straight line-weakness sets in and is human nature- but there is a bridge to the other side.

(Can you tell my type A arse is scheduling grief time each day to work through the feelings? LOL- such a therapist’s kid. Actually, this was my favorite minister’s idea.)

Love shines on all of us. It’s ok to be vulnerable and ask for help. Goodness knows, I’m right in the middle of the pain as I type this. But the beautiful part is that the sun still shines, the wind still blows, my heart keeps beating, my daughter still hugs me without being asked, I still have an amazing network of family and friends (new and old) who check on me constantly, my professional life will be there when I am further along on my healing journey, and I know that whatever my future holds, I will be ok. I WILL be ok.

The soul mate for some means the partner with whom they share a lifetime and spend their last days sharing a porch swing. And many of us know those couples. Cheers to you and how wonderful to appreciate and love each other with real commitment and truth. “Let your heart be known” (S. Gold).

Sometimes we lose our way to the swing, but we still loved. Breathing and just thinking or time alone to meditate teaches us to look inside and remember the embrace, the kindness, the freedom of loving, the strength, the soul releasing and gratefulness for the power of loving-kindness that surrounds us.

And today, surrounds me. (Even if the folks at Kleenex might do well to send me a pallet-load.)

I have moments of fragility and weakness just like you do. And it can hurt – even in the deepest breath, and on the mat for me- that is something. I feel everything on my yoga mat. And sometimes, I can’t practice at all, I can only enjoy the sacred space, the love around me, and focus on my own internal breath. But that’s ok too. Yoga has no ego. It just loves me back. I guess in some ways it too has been pivotal enough to be a sort of soul friend. 🙂

Om Namah Shivaya,

Melissa

(March 8 is a full moon. I’ve read that a Full Moon is symbolic of the height of power, the peak of clarity, fullness and obtainment of desire. The nature-wise, and cosmically conscious Native American Indians recognized power of full moons to the extent they framed each month’s fullness with a contextual attribute. Meaning, they recognized the full moon in each month as having a specific (restorative, outstanding) quality.)

“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

Why “Murphy”*?

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fierce Loyalty. It is our choice to give.

When I started this blog, my goal was fun and upbeat, but this past weekend of seclusion, due to the now complete radioiodine treatment, forced me to think more pensively.  This is life and what makes us real. I’m done hiding behind a pretend “everything is fine”. Sometimes, things just hurt.  And well, these last few months have indeed hurt.  A lot.

On my FB and Twitter pages last week, I wrote “Fierce loyalty is a rare, rare gift.” Several people “liked” but one friend privately disagreed.  He said no, fierce loyalty is simply, “Faith”.  He may be right, Faith is likely one of the fiercest of loyalties, but not everyone experiences in such a deep, thoughtful way, nor do they look at a higher power from his perspective.

When my former mother-in-law passed away after 25+ years living with Multiple Sclerosis, I felt something-perhaps Faith- sitting in Blessed Sacrament’s beautiful chapel. I was sitting alone and just felt something.  In retrospect, it was likely “faith” or some awareness, yet unknown to me of fierce loyalty.  Mollyanna’s grandma had been in nursing home for 10+ years, never known her granddaughter except with a teardrop or eye movement -but not in the sense to hold her or cuddle as a grandma should. But the loyalty wasn’t about her, it was about family.  Molly’s great grandma, Nell, her  grandpa Jim, her uncle ,Tim and her dad were at a Lebanon nursing home 25 minutes from their home EVERY day for those 10+ years so she would NEVER eat a lunch or dinner alone.  And she couldn’t speak back, likely didn’t have much in the way of cable and never shared a meal.  That’s real love, that’s fierce loyalty.

Loving your child with your whole heart and knowing that you would do anything in the world to protect them.  That’s love, that’s fierce loyalty. I would give my life for my girl, never move away from her for a job, and I would work any job possible to keep her healthy and thriving. I am the parent and will do what I think is best.  Will she likely need a psychotherapist some day to work through all this madness I have swirled about us? Yes, but you know what, I will pay for that too- as it was me – not her- that caused the swirl.  She is the best gift I was ever given, and I tell her every day.

I firmly believe if my Grandma Sterling had passed before my grandfather, he wouldn’t have lived for very long without her.  He couldn’t tell you what he had for breakfast, but he could tell you about the one room school-house where they met.  That’s real love, that’s fierce loyalty.

A friend and minister recently shared some private stories about experiences that happened while in seminary that made her question God and why difficult things happen to us when we ask only for love and try our darndest to do our best for a higher power.  After much discernment, she stayed true to the ministry and is today one of my favorite ministers of all I’ve seen preach.  That’s real love, that’s fierce loyalty.

My best girlfriend from the second grade will take me tomorrow to hear the results on the total body scan knowing full well it may be wonderful or devastating.  She is a single, professional mama working two jobs and going to school and still put me ahead of everything because she knew I needed her.  That’s real love, that’s fierce loyalty.

We all make our own beds in the morning (or not), and we all wake having the day to make our own.  What we do with it is ours.

Loyalty is our choice to give…or not.

I am not in a good place right now.  I am sad and very, very scared. And I fully admit to needing help.  But I continue to breathe, pray, love my little girl and wish for fierce loyalty from the people who cross our paths.

Namaste’

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