Archive for October, 2014

Inside Out and Upside Down

Tuesday, October 14th, 2014

It will be four years this November since I was first diagnosed with breast cancer.  Four years, damn.  I can hardly believe it.  The journey has not been easy, lots of swimming without a raft.  But, I swam.  And, I swam, until my arms ached making decisions I did not want to make.  Lumpectomy or a mastectomy?  Radiation or no radiation?  Chemo or not to chemo?  Then there was the decision to take meds I did not want to take.  Taxtere! Carboplatinum!  Herceptin!  Tomaxifin!   And, then the meltdowns that could fill a lake.  Like my four AM crash after reading about a women that had to tape her fingernails on to keep them from falling off.  Or, my drive to my 18th Herceptin treatment, singing along to Adele’s Rolling in the Deep, black tears rolling down my cheeks, while just spilling green goddess juice on my clean white shirt.

It wasn’t all meltdowns.  Sometimes I simply just wanted to throw up.  Like the first time I saw my breast after my mastectomy.  Both miracle and mutilated masterpiece.  I was in complete awe.  Whole and not whole, flesh and not flesh, breast and not breast, molded with silicone gel, sculpted from soft pink areola, secured with cadaver skin and surgically stitched up like a Raggedy Ann Doll.

But, during the process, I learned to take a sucky situation and turn it inside out and upside down.  Like when big clumps of my hair began to fall out after my first round of chemo.  We were at band practice.  I wore a hat hoping to keep my hair in place.  It didn’t help.  Tufts of hair caught in my fingers, rings and guitar.  I just stood there in complete dismay until my girlfriend Debi suggested we take my air outside and let it blow in the wind for the birds to retrieve and make their nests.  Inside out and upside down.

And, then there was the time I watched my hair fall to the ground in a heap while having my head shaved.  I was at an upscale salon in Newport Beach, a glass of wine waiting for me.  The owner, not giving me a chance to change my mind, ran her clippers over my head as if she were mowing the lawn.  She then presented me with my three thousand dollar cranial prosthetic (wig) on a pillow like a ring bearer.  It was beautiful.  But, I hated it.  I felt like I was hiding.  So, the moment I left the building, I ripped the wig off, snapped a picture and sent it to all of you.  That wig ended up sitting on my shelf next to a hot platinum blonde the duration of my chemo.  Again, inside out and upside down.

So, when I see pink ribbons and empowering commercials in honor of women battling cancer or those that lost their battle, I get it.  It can be very powerful.  However, I am disgusted with companies using breast cancer to promote their products, like oil giant Baker Hughes and his pink drill bits for fracking and Five Hour Energy Pink Lemonade Shots highly popular amongst sleep deprived college students; practices and products that actually may play a hand in causing cancer.  This is completely insane!

I am also disappointed in organizations like Susan G. Komen for supporting these companies and for using their survivors to make money.  There was a time in the past that the pink movement was necessary, a time when newspapers would not let you print the word breast.  They referred to breast cancer as “female cancer.”  We have come a long way, thank god.  But I am afraid we have gone too far.  The pink movement has cheapened breast cancer, diminished its deadly power, and devalued it like gold, as if it is less than other cancers.  It is “just breast cancer,” I heard someone say.  This is like saying she is just a woman, as Simone de Beauvoir points out in her book the “The Second Sex.”  There is no such thing as just a woman and there is no such thing as just cancer!

So, please think twice when purchasing these products, supporting these companies and giving to these organizations.  I know that I have supported Komen in the past and I am thankful for all of you that also supported them through me.  I admit, Komen has done some good work, but they have lost their way.  So, no more!  Time to make some changes and move on.  Inside out and upside down, my friends!

Things That Matter Most #2

Friday, October 10th, 2014

These are the things I wished I learned instead of algebra.  Things I wished my parents told me but I wouldn’t have listened if they did.  Things I know I can’t teach my kids but I will try anyway.  These are the things that matter most #2.  This is MY second list.  I do not assume that what matters most to me matters most to you.  But I have a feeling that we are not all that different from each other.  I know this list is not complete.  This is “Part Two” of many.  Take what you want from it, leave the rest.  Love you!

You are worthy!  Do not attach your worth to your accomplishments.  Do not wait until you are thin, successful, or more confident before you feel worthy.  Worthiness is not what you do, it is who you are.

You belong! You are here for a reason.

You are capable!  Actually, you are more than capable.  “If we did all the things we are capable of, we would literally astound ourselves.”  Thomas Edison

Astound yourself!

You are you!  Be real…authentic…yourself.  When you are being you, when the mask is off and the persona gone, you create space for others to be real too.

You are lovable!

To be lovable is to be vulnerable.  To be vulnerable is to be lovable.

Be vulnerable!

Vulnerability is not weakness.  It takes an exorbitant amount of courage, strength, nerve, guts and bravery.  In fact, “…it’s the bravest thing you will ever do.”  Brene Brown

Courage does not just happen.  It’s a choice!  And, we all have a choice.

Live your life with guts from your gut!

Live with intention.  Live with vision.  “Vision without guts is fantasy.”  Toba Beta

Dare Greatly.  Do not stand on the side lines of life.  Jump in with feet, hands, head and heart.  “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming.”  Theodore Roosevelt

Get sweaty, get bloody.

Get honest.  Yes, you will open yourself up to criticism, judgment and disapproval.  That’s what honesty does.  It puts you at risk, leaving you exposed and susceptible to emotional and even physical harm.  “Be honest and transparent anyway.”  Mother Theresa

It does not matter what others think.  It does not matter what you think of others.  It’s just a story.

Everyone has a story.  Do not hog it.  Share it!  It just may help someone else with theirs.

And, do not fall victim to your story.  If you don’t like it, change it.

We all smile in the same language.

Life is a game.  Play it.  If you lose, learn from it and play again.

Do not be afraid of change.  Rock that boat, buck convention and defy stereotypes!  It will open doors and windows and worlds you did not know exist.

Step outside of yourself.  Change your perspective.  Broaden your view and you will broaden your understanding.

Live on the edge.  This is where all new growth occurs.  “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”  Neale Donald Walsch

Get uncomfortable.

Yes, it’s scary.  But remember, fear and anxiety mean growth; depression, regression.

Do not be afraid to go to hell.  Emotional and physical breakdowns are akin to a spiritual awakening. Ugly times, painful moments and visits to the “swamp lands of your soul” will lead you to insight and understanding.  Do not run from the swamp lands my friends.  Do not resist.  What you resist; persists.  Go through; all the way to the bottom if you must, but go.  You cannot understand heaven, if you have not been to hell.

Life is amazing.  Embrace it.  All of it.  Every second of it.  Not a woeful acquiescence but a full joyful embrace.

True meaning is found in the ecstasy of experience; an experience of feeling alive.  So, do things that make you feel alive.  Eat more chocolate.  Walk on the beach barefoot.  Crawl into clean sheets at the end of a long day.  Make love on those same clean sheets.  Play with abandon.  “Dance like there’s nobody watching.”  William W. Purkey

Life is so delicious.  You are delicious.

And, you are loved.

Dare to dream.  Dream to dare.

Do not wait for success to come to you.  Go to it!

Take action now!  Get out of your own way.  Step out of your shadow.

Live consciously.  Wake up, and turn on your light.

You are pure light.  Bright, beautiful, luminous and numinous!  Live your own truth.  Be in touch with your own divine nature.

Love consciously, deliberately, willfully.  Love!  Love! Love!  Love as if today is your last day.

We need each other.

But, do not lose yourself to another.  Love thrives when each person commits to total union and total creative expression as an individual at the same time.  Complete fusion with another is the ultimate obliteration of yourself.

Do not obliterate yourself.  Do not give yourself up.  Do not sacrifice your wants and desires by putting others first!  “You can’t just sit there and put everyone’s life ahead of yours and call that love.”  The Perks of Being a Wallflower

It is not selfish to take care of yourself first.  It only becomes selfish when it is at other people’s expense. That does not mean that we should not be “in service” to others.  It means we have to take care of ourselves in order to be in service to others.

 

Express yourself fully!

Express yourself creatively!

Express yourself without apology.  Self expression is highly correlated to joy.  It is a means to freedom, connection to ourselves and to others, and the reason we are all on this planet as one; to bring a little bit of our quirky little selves to the cacophony of other quirky little selves, resulting in the most amazing of harmonies.

So go ahead all of you gorgeous human beings.  Show up.  Let yourself be seen.  Sing it!  Write it!  Paint it!  Perform it!  Build it!  Design it!  Wear it!  Sculpt it!  Show it!  Say it loud and proud!   Do not be afraid.  We are all in this together my loves, each and every one of us.

Your life matters!  You matter.  Now go and live!