I Know that I Know Nothing

April 25th, 2013

 

“We don’t know a millionth of one percent of anything”…..Thomas Edison

“I would never die for my beliefs because I might be wrong”….Bertrand Russell

 

There are some things I just don’t understand.  Like, how two brothers from Chechnya justify killing innocent people at a Marathon or, how people can believe the Holocaust never happened.  I don’t understand why airplanes don’t fall out of the sky or people can’t stop drinking when it is affecting their job, health and family.  I don’t get war, murder, rape, racism, conspiracy theories, cancer, football or why I have gained so much weight this past year.

I suppose there are some things, like flight for instance, that I may not understand but there is actually a clear- cut answer.  I know it has something to do with air pressure, gravity, thrust, and lift.  For a full explanation, I can look it up on the internet or get a book on the subject.  But that is only if I truly want to understand it.  I don’t.  And, I can live with the fact that I don’t get it. 

But there are some things that I don’t get that are much harder to live with.     

Terrorism, cancer, alcoholism, conspiracy theories, and well, my ridiculous weight gain.  Yes, my weight gain.  I have gained over 10 pounds this last year.  Some say that I needed to.  My Doctor believes it is from chemo-induced peri-menopause.  I believe both to be true but there is something else I cannot deny.  I am binge eating at night.  O.K.  I am not eating an entire gallon of ice cream.  I do stick to the pint size dairy free vegan version.  But, I’m still eating way too much when I am not even hungry.  I know many of you can relate.

I get that being worried about my weight gain seems pretty trivial in the whole scheme of things, even a bit silly, but I assure you it is not.  Why?

There is a common denominator between all of those things I listed above.  All of these “things” are either a result of or are in service to our need to get rid of the anxiety that comes from living in ambiguity. 

What is ambiguity exactly?  Ambiguity is uncertainty.  It is the not knowing anything.  Socrates got it over 2,000 years ago when he said, “I know that I know nothing.”  This he believed to be true wisdom; to admit that we know nothing and to be able to live happy productive lives with this knowledge, or lack thereof.

But most of us are not Socrates.  Living in this unclear, indefinite, equivocal state is not just unsettling; it scares the shit out of people.  And, humans don’t tolerate feeling uncomfortable for very long.

There was a great scene in Madmen, when Dr. So and So (sorry I don’t remember his name) told Don Draper,   “People will do anything to alleviate their anxiety.”  Then the doctor rides off in the middle of a snowstorm in New York City on New Year’s Eve at one o’clock in the morning on skis for a supposed “house call,” while Don heads upstairs to the Docs apartment to fuck the Doc’s wife.

 

So we drink, smoke pot, have sex with other peoples spouses, over eat, join fundamentalist causes, misuse political positions and for the truly disturbed and extreme, murder, rape and plant bombs at marathons, anything to alleviate our anxiety. 

The one surviving brother of the marathon bombing said that his older brother was “upset” by the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and that anger was the motivation.  He felt like he never belonged here and he didn’t have one American friend.

Not only was anger the motivation.  Fear was the spur and ambiguity the muse.

Our anxiety over ambiguity shows up everywhere.  In our politics, religions, schools and social lives as we try to manage, organize, command, control and even escape the unease from the uncertainty of life.  Dr. James Hollis, a Jungian psychologist says if we are truly honest with ourselves, “There is a fascist within each of us, a Nervous Nellie who wishes comfort at any cost.”  And Hannah Arendt wrote in Crisis of the Republic, “Throughout history the totalitarian mind is obsessed by a need for the world to be clear-cut and orderly.  Accordingly, subtleties, contradictions, and complexities are felt as intolerable, and have to be eliminated by whatever means.” 

Thank god the majority of us choose what seems like more simple vices, food, alcohol, sex, or religion.  But, simple as they may seem, you can go overboard and can cause a lot of harm to not only yourself but to others as well.

I admit I have tried a few other vices.  Sometimes they work (in the short run), most of the time they don’t.  In the long run, they always catch up with you.  And it seems when you get rid of one vice, another one takes over.  Take my emotional food binges at night.  Yes, that dairy free Coconut Bliss ice cream is to die for.  But is it really?  Is eating ice cream and gaining weight which results in too much estrogen in my body which could result in my cancer coming back worth it?  No, absolutely not, but I do it anyway especially when I am most tired and weak.  When ambiguity comes creeping through the dark halls of my soul late at night and I cannot resist the temptation of that sweet sugary something to alleviate my unease, I am putty.  

No, I need to get to the core of why I am eating if I am truly going to change.  I need to let go and accept ambiguity, embrace the unknown, learn to live in the midst of uncertainty, feel uncomfortable at times, and sit in my unease, then maybe I have a chance to not only fit into my jeans again, but maybe I can truly embrace a deeper more meaningful life.  James Hollis says, “Psychological, political, social and spiritual maturity is found precisely in the capacity of any person to tolerate ambiguity.”

I am getting there.  I really am.  I feel some progress but apparently, I still have more work to do.  I suspect we all do.

So, as I continue my journey, read the papers, watch the news, struggle with our world’s anxieties and that pint of ice cream at midnight, I will remember Socrates’ wise words, “I know that I know nothing.”  Or, do I?

Upgrading to a Tent

April 10th, 2013

One of the first conditions of happiness is that the link between Man and Nature shall not be broken…Leo Tolstoy

We are all so much together, but we are all dying of loneliness…Albert Scheitzer

After returning from our annual camping trip with my friends in Anza Borrego, I want to go back! 

Why?  Because, it’s simple there; a tent, food, water, friends, family and the endless blue sky!  It’s all I need.

Surrounded by majestic purple mountains, creosote bushes, ocotillos aflame with bright red flowers and millions of stars at night take me home and reconnect me with the natural world and myself.  It feels glorious.  It’s a far cry from the traffic, noise, buildings and city lights I have to deal with every day.   John Muir got it right when he said, “Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over civilized people are beginning to find out going to the mountains is going home; that wilderness is a necessity.”  In my case, going to the desert is going home.

Our kitchen at Anza Borrego campsite

Riley, Lauren, Casey and Maggie getting ready for a hike

Not only do I feel connected to the earth and the cosmos when camping, I feel connected to my friends and family.  Spending quality time with them, face to face, for five entire days, without television, the internet or phones is, as Master Card’s brilliant marketers say, “priceless.”  In fact, I noticed, as our phones went dead, we came to life. 

It felt good to be disconnected from both the internet and today’s crazy busy lifestyle.  It does not feel good to be disconnected from friends, family and the natural world, however. It is lonely.

No wonder I miss it already.  No wonder I am frustrated now that I am back to the daily grind.  I no longer feel connected to something much bigger than my daily life, much bigger than me. 

Maggie, Chloe, Rachel, Bas, Matt and Bennie and 17 others hiking to the Oasis

Honestly, I love the simple life.  I could easily live in a tent or an RV or even on a boat.  I don’t need all this “stuff.”  Why so many clothes?  It just means more laundry.  Why do I need two sets of matching plates and bowls?  It just means more dishes to clean.  And a big house with floors that show every speck of dust and cat hair; Why?  Arghh….It’s a huge burden to carry, weighing on me every day.  Like trying to make sure my cancer never comes back isn’t enough.

Apparently, I am not the only one that feels this way.  The other day, a homeless man, Dennis Mahurin won $50,000 in the lottery.  After taxes he will get $35,000.  He has decided to use the money to fix his teeth, give $100 to his fellow homeless friends, put a little away for a rainy day, and continue to live in his tent.  $35,000 is enough to get him off the streets but not enough to keep him out of the rat race.  He would need to get a job to pay for a house and all the other stuff he has learned he can live without.  So, he is going to stay in his tent, although, he is considering buying an upgrade.  He says, he’s as “happy as can be in my nature.”  I love this guy.

Leo Tolstoy not only felt the same way, he did something similar.  At the end of his life, he gave up aristocracy, seeking a less decadent way of life, and went to live with the peasants.

Playing Games - phones are dead or dying

 

Playing more games into the night

So what is a girl to do when wonderlust strikes?  When the desire for both simplicity and adventure outside of the ordinary calls?  Do I ditch the house?  Trade it in for an RV and park it next to Mr. Mahurin?  Kevin could quit his job, we can take Casey out of school, give away the cats, the snake, and the bunny and travel from KOA site to KOA site around the country taking odd jobs along the way.  It wouldn’t be Jack Kerouak “On the Road” but I would have my “tent.”

I have a great argument as to how this could all work.  But in the end, I know I would be living in the RV alone.  As much as I would love to escape the routine and responsibilities of my life, there are a lot of good things happening;  The Mammary Chronicles, Daisy Chain, The “Yes” Mom, homeschooling, Mother Function, Lauren and so much more.  And, honestly, the kids love their lives here on Cerritos Drive and the only way they would ever give up those cats are over their dead bodies.     

So, it seems the simple life simply isn’t that simple right now.  I am a mother first, in the thick of parenting, trying to stay afloat and alive.  But I know in the whole scheme of things, it is a short time.  Riley is almost 20, Casey will be a Senior next year and Maggie is officially a teenager.  It won’t be long before they are all grown up, moved out of the house and I will finally live in that tent I have always longed for, missing those days in the big house with laundry, dirty dishes, and dusty floors.

The Texas Two Step

April 1st, 2013

Growth is an erratic forward movement:  two steps forward, one step back.  Remember that and be very gentle with yourself….Julie Cameron

A worm is the only animal that can’t fall down…A Texas Saying

I am sick.  After two years, I caught a nasty bug and it got the best of me.  I can no longer tout that I have not been sick since I was diagnosed with cancer.  My well streak is over.  So, it’s time to lift myself up by my sexy cowboy boot straps, again, and start a new well streak.

My first symptoms hit me on my flight home from Texas last Sunday night.  The plane had been delayed 4 hours.  My new departure time:   1:20 am.  Although I was happy as a clam, I was tired and hung-over from the night before.  It was my cousin Jeremy’s wedding.  And what a wedding it was.  A beautiful and sweet Texas bride, Randi and her adorable daughter Madee, an old farm house decorated with burlap and mason jars, pastures of Pike Oak, cowboy boots, beef brisket, and the Two Step. 

The Happy Couple - Jeremy and Randi

 

The McAleese Family

 

The Cuzins, Megan, Patricia and Deanne with the happy couple

 

I tried to stay on my special healing diet while visiting, but we were in East central Texas, Bryan to be exact, near College Station, the heart of Brazos Valley and the home of Texas A & M University.  There was not a juice bar in site.  Jamba Juice does not count.  I am referring to something a little more green.  Although Bryan is an old farming community, and “Aggie” is not a nickname for Agnus, the only green I saw were pickles and jalepenos.

Don’t get me wrong, Bryan is not a backward hick town.  In fact, according to Money Magazine, “due largely to the presence of Texas A&M University, in 2006 College Station was named the most educated city in Texas, and the 11th most educated city in the United States.”

They just happen to like their beef and crawfish over my rabbit food.  Do you blame them?  Apparently, a Whole Foods is planned for the area but too late to do me any good.

Crawfish Texas Style Rehearsal Dinner

 

Mom, Dad, Uncle Sam, Aunt Marilyn and Family eating crawfish

So, when in Rome…..

I learned how to peel and eat crawfish, drink Patron without lime, eat brisket, speak Texas drawl and play a perfect drum roll.  Ok, it’s not quite perfect yet, but it’s getting there.   And last but not least, Josh “learned me” to Two Step. 

The Two Step is not as easy as it looks.  Not for me anyway.  It consists of three steps:  two quick steps forward, one slow step back.  A bit like life, actually.  And, a bit like life, I fell on my ass right when I was finally getting the hang of it.  Now, I could blame it on:

  1. The beer soaked floor
  2. My new black leather cowboy boots
  3. Jagermeister and Patron
  4. Not being a very good follower
  5. All of the above

If you answered 5, all of the above, you know me well. 

But no matter, because even after my confidence was shaken, my butt bruised and my dress covered in beer, I got up, wiped myself off and kept dancing the Two Step. 

The Cuz's

 But all good things must come to an end.  After four days of fun, it was time to say my goodbyes and go home.  I was scheduled to fly out of Houston at 9:25 Sunday evening.  My parents were scheduled to fly out of Houston the next morning, but due to horribly planned freeways resulting in even worse traffic they decided to drive me to the airport the day before and get a hotel room close to Hobby Airport.  It was nice to have that time with them, alone, just the three of us.  That doesn’t happen very often, actually never.

In the meanwhile, I kept getting texts throughout the day from Southwest Airlines advising me that my flight has been delayed.  The first text said my flight was delayed one hour.  A second text came through a few hours later:  a two hour delay.  Third text:  three.  And so on.  Spring was cancelled in many parts of the Midwest due to a heavy late snow and it was causing havoc at the airports and on my plans. 

So, to buy some time, we decided to get some dinner.  We wanted to go to Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen, a well-known Cajun seafood restaurant that originated in Houston.  But, we did not want to get back on The Houston freeways.  We were in luck.  There was a Pappadeaux at the Hobby Airport.  I never get that lucky.

We caught a shuttle, checked my bags and headed to the restaurant looking forward to some spicy Cajun food.  There was one problem, Pappadeaux was on the other side of security.  Only passengers allowed. 

For a split second, I felt as hopeful as an old maid looking under a bed.  I really didn’t want to hang out at the airport for 6 hours all by myself.  We were tired and hungry, and we all wanted a cocktail dammit.

My mom was on a mission.  She asked a TSA agent standing at the front desk, “Is there any way my husband and I can go with my daughter to the gates, or at least to the restaurant?  The agent told her the only way they could get past security without a boarding pass is to put me in a wheel chair and go back to the check-in counter and ask for a Passenger Assisted Escort Pass. 

The next thing I saw was my mom pushing a wheel chair up to me, “Get in!” She said and “act sick, I’m hungry.” 

I sat down and did as I was told.  You can’t get lard unless you boil the hog.

The thing is, I already checked my bags and got my boarding pass.  I already walked up to the check-in desk with my own two feet, healthy and strong, pulling my big ass suitcase behind me and putting it on the scale to be weighed and checked.   Now we have to do it again, same counter, same woman directing the line, same everything except I am now being pushed in a wheelchair.

As we approached the line, the woman that directed me earlier to the check in counter said with a confused look on her face, “You are back?”  Keeping a straight face was impossible as I looked up at her to answer.  But someone was looking after me, because as I looked up at her, the setting sun was shining brightly through a window in the distance, completely blinding me.  I put my hand up to block the sun and the TSA agent.  At that point, my mom took over.  She pulled out the cancer card, albeit expired, and it worked.  She explained how I have cancer, and that I am weak from the chemo.  She went on and to explain what a trooper I have been but my flight is late and she doesn’t want me to be alone for such a long period of time.  She did such a good job pulling at the heartstrings of the TSA agent, she let us pass.  In fact, not only did we get through security seamlessly, they let us skip ahead to the front of the line. 

Honestly, with my mom’s neuropathy, and after she wore cowboy boots for hours to the wedding the night before, I should have been the one pushing her in the wheelchair, not the other way around.  But she was determined.  My mom wheeled me steadily and confidently past security, through the terminal corridors and right up to Pappadeaux.  I got up, walked into the restaurant, had a fabulous dinner, a glass of wine and ditched the wheelchair for someone else who really needed it.

The moral of the story, well there isn’t one. 

Although I am sure it was the crawfish, brisket, Jagermeister shots, late nights and plane flights that did me in and broke my health streak, it was truly worth it; especially knowing there will always be wheelchairs to help me along as I Two Step my way through life.  Hmmm…I guess there is a moral to my story.

Thank you, Mom for pushing my wheelchair all these years.

And, thank you everyone in Bryan for “learning” me to eat, drink, speak and dance like a Texan!  I had a fantastic time.  Love y’all! 

Checking out cuz's boobies as I shop for new ones!

Dr. Boob

March 13th, 2013

I’ve had so much plastic surgery, when I die they will donate my body to Tupperware!   Joan Rivers

If you read my last blog, you know that my doctor found a lump in my left breast.  So for peace of mind, I decided to have it biopsied.  Yesterday was my appointment.  The doctor looked and looked, felt and felt, but he could not find a lump to biopsy.  Yippee!  It was a very happy moment.  So, it seems safe to say I am still cancer free.  

I did not enjoy the scare one bit.  But, it is nice to know that my docs are keeping a close eye on me, even when I don’t like what they see.  For example, every time I go to my three month check up my doctor thoroughly inspects my breasts.  She presses here, touches there, examines the left side, scrutinizes the right, always hemming and hawing in between.  Then she stands back and with a sigh, says something like, “let’s wait, it takes time for the swelling to go down, things to shift and everything to fall into place.”  

Well, we waited and waited.  In fact, it’s been almost a year and a half of hemming and hawing, until now.  After another inspection, my doctor finally said out-loud what I had been thinking all along, “Deanne, your plastic surgeon did not do a good job.”  I guess she thought after finding a lump on my thyroid and breast she might as well go all out and put everything on the table; even if it meant another operating table.

I knew the day would come that I would hear her mutter those words but I suppose I was hoping for one of two scenarios:

  1. I would find out that my doctor actually did a good job.  That it is not a perfect science and I should thank my lucky stars that I don’t have a big crater on my chest.   

OR

  1. A miracle would happen.  One day I would wake up, crawl out of bed and “voila”, my breasts miraculously readjusted themselves in the middle of the night becoming not only symmetrical but perfectly round and ready for the front cover of Sports Illustrated. 

Neither scenario happened. 

The truth is my plastic surgeon messed up. 

Since the reconstruction surgeries, my left breast is two sizes larger and hangs two floors lower than my right breast.  And the dimpling, buckling and puckering on my mastectomy breast has not undimpled, unbuckled, or unpuckered like I had hoped.  I clearly have issues. 

So, now my doctor is recommending I get it fixed. 

The big question:  Do I undergo surgery again?   

Is it worth another stint or two in the hospital, more pain, more drugs, recuperation time and working hard to regain my muscle strength.  It was a difficult process, one I hoped I would not have to do again for a long time.  

To help with my decision I did a little research and this is what I learned.  Most implants only last 10 years.  According to the FDA, as many as 20 percent who receive breast implants for augmentation wind up having to have their implants removed within 8 to 10 years due to complications.  A few women have kept their original implants for 20 to 30 years, but that is unusual.  And, just the other day, the U.S. News and World Report reported that “the longer a woman has breast implants, the greater the chances that she will develop complications, some of which will require surgery.”  So the likely hood of having surgery again is high.  I was just hoping for later rather than sooner.  

Also, even though many women have to go back for surgery, according to the World News Report, the majority of women are happy they did it. 

I am one of those women.  I am happy I did it.  However, I admit that I am uncomfortable.  There is abnormal internal scarring and my breasts are simply too large.  I prefer a smaller model.  Something like I had before my mastectomy.  I am not sure why my plastic surgeon chose to give me such large implants.  But he did.  Maybe it’s the Orange County way, or maybe he prefers large breasts.  They are certainly bigger than my originals.  I can’t button half of my shirts any longer.  And my t-shirts, well they stay hanging in my closet collecting dust.  I don’t wear them anymore because I rather people look at my face than my boobs. 

I’m not the only one that has issues with my boob job.  I have a friend that had a double mastectomy.  I found out she had the same plastic surgeon I did.  I am going to call him Dr. Boob for the sake of this blog.  My friend does not like her reconstructed breasts.  Although she said he did a good job, she simply does not like them.  She has asked him to remove the implants.  Dr. Boob told her “No” and that she should go see a psychologist instead.  I think Dr. Boob should go see a psychologist.  

So as much as I wish I could just live with it, accept my lopsidedness and dimples, I admit, in my heart, I really want to be put back together the right way.  I am not Mrs. Potato Head, a game for someone to haphazardly put body parts here and there.  I am Deanne, and I am worth more than that. 

My husband thinks I am beautiful no matter what I decide; big, small or nothing at all.  I am so absolutely truly grateful for that.  And, I know he means it.  But, I also know that deep down inside that man soul of his, he is a boob man.    

I want to share a little story with all of you.  Just the other day, Kevin came with me to my ultrasound appointment.  He was in the room while my doctor was feeling around for that mysterious lump.  When she left the room, Kevin said, “That’s kinda hot!” 

“What’s  hot?” I asked.

“Watching a woman touch your breast!” he replied.  OMG!  As my doctor is looking for cancer, my husband sees girl on girl. 

Need I say more!

 

Find Your Car

February 28th, 2013

 “We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand. If I don’t
seem as depressed or morose as I should be, sorry to disappoint you.”

Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture

Two weeks ago my oncologists found a nodule on my thyroid and another one under my arm. Monday, I had an ultrasound.  The images of my thyroid were clear; no nodule.  Thank God!  But, the lump under my arm is still there.  Yesterday, I went back to my oncologist.  She feels there is a good chance the lump is glandular and probably a result of “out of wack” chemo induced perimenopause.  But, we don’t know for sure.  So, she is recommending a biopsy for peace of mind. 

Only a few days earlier I was celebrating two years cancer free.  Now I am back in the doctor’s offices facing more issues and decisions.  Life is strange.

When I first heard these words, “nodule” and “thyroid,” I admit, I thought, this is it!  I gave it a good fight, but my time has come.  I knew that the “median survival time” for women with breast cancer that has metastasized to other parts of their body is 18 to 24 months.  That should give me enough time to see Casey graduate from OCSA, get Maggie off to high school, Riley to University, finish my book, put things in order and make my amends.  But, for some crazy reason as I was planning my last months on this planet, I completely ignored the fact that some cancers can be controlled for up to 20 years and others are healed altogether. I know that is unlike me but that is where my mind went. 

The funny thing is, I did not wallow in self-pity.  There was no “why me?”  No, it was more like “why not me?”  God gives us only what we can handle, right.  Apparently, God thinks I’m a bad-ass.  I read that on Facebook. 

Anyway, as I left my oncologists office, my doctor warned me, “Deanne, please don’t go researching this thing to death on the internet.  There is so much false information out there and scare tactics.”  I knew she was right.  Last time I went against her orders, I spent a sleepless night worrying about what type of tape to use on my fingernails to keep them from falling off during chemo.  I never had to tape my nails on.  Yes, they became dark and brittle but they hung on just like me.  But, did I learn my lesson?  Apparently not, because the minute I got into my car I googled “nodule” and “thyroid.”   The results:  neck cancer, neck cancer, neck cancer. 

I did not cry.  Not one little tear. 

No, I looked death in the face and like Hip Hopp’n Lil Wayne, “I took its mask off” instead.

And what do you think I saw. 

Life!

Everything became crystal clear.  Like a puzzle, the final pieces fell into place.  Life and all of its absurdities became apparent.  I felt free as if years of personal baggage were left behind on the tarmac of ghosts past.  All my fears disintegrated.  I was not afraid to die.  And more importantly, I was not afraid to live.

And then I laughed.  I sat in my car and laughed and laughed and laughed!  I know it sounds a little dramatic but it’s true. 

It’s strange how one can feel so alive when faced with the possibility of one’s own death.  An urgency to fulfill a dream that can no longer wait overcomes you.  That nagging need to travel to Ireland and kiss that damn Blarney Stone beckons.  The sun shines brighter, the air clearer and everything makes crazy sense. 

I drove home in a lucid state.  I knew what I had to do.

But, the minute I walked back into my house, filled with kids and moms partaking in a home school writing class, I felt myself slipping back into my typical way of thinking.  Busy with this, worried about that, life grabs you like a zombie and tries to eat your brains.  How I desperately wanted to bottle that feeling I had in the car just a few minutes earlier and carry it with me everywhere I go, 24/7. 

I may not be able to bottle it, but I know exactly what it feels like.  So, when things start to spiral downward, I just go back to that moment in my car and incorporate it into my life, “here” and “now.”  When I am tired and overwhelmed, I think of that time in the car.  As I wait patiently for my biopsy date, I remember the car, and when zombies are on the loose; car!    

Car! Car! Car!

All is good.

A Milestone

February 7th, 2013
 
Raundi and Deanne singing “Check, Check, Check Your Breast”

“Art opens the closets, airs out the cellars and attics. It brings healing.”…Julia Cameron

This is a huge day for me.  It was exactly two years ago today that I had my mastectomy and the cancer was cut from my body.  I am now cancer free; an enormous milestone considering the first two years after a cancer diagnosis is always the most precarious. 

I feel like I can breathe a little easier these days, but by no means am I off Scott free.  And, it does not mean I am ready for my Lazy Boy recliner and remote control either.  Quite the contrary; as long as our mother’s, grandmother’s, daughter’s and wives continue to die every day from this killer disease I am doing my part to help raise money and spirits for those who have been affected by breast cancer.

And I am not doing it alone. 

Monday night, The “Real Poets” of Orange County and The Mammary Chronicles put on a show to remember to help raise funds for the Susan G. Komen 3-Day.  Yes, I am signed up to walk again.  Three amazing poets and performers, Eric Morago, Paul Suntup, and Thea Iberall rocked the fundraiser with their almighty poetry. 

Mr. Suntup ignited us by lifting the roof off its hinges and blasting holes in the black sky so we could see the stars.  Eric wooed the women and men with his contagious smile and love poems.  Thea pounded the rhythm of her voice to the drums, “I am Woman, I am Woman.”  James Palacio filled the room with Pennies from Heaven.  Helen, poet and soon to be centurion, demonstrated that age is simply a state of mind.  Cyndi and Angela confirmed their bravery as they followed Mr. Suntup with their original pieces.  Savanah kept things flowing with her elegant emcee skills.  And, the writers and poets from the Laguna Hills Spoken Word Club reminded us all to never stop writing, never stop creating, never stop.       

"I am Woman" Thea Iberall and Deanne on Drums

Thank you to each and every one of you amazing poets, writers, friends and family that made last night not only possible but successful. 

Deanne, Maggie and Riley

I cannot begin to express the gratitude I feel right now.  One year ago, I was unsure of the next chapter in my life.  The pages were blank.  Today, they are being filled one by one with the most glorious of stories which I owe in part to the brainchild of The Mammary Chronicles;  poet, publisher and BFF, Raundi Moore-Kondo.  She not only wanted to help me, but she wanted to help create a world free of breast cancer and full of rad poetry. 

I will never forget the day she called.  “Deanne,” she said.  “I have an idea!”  The rest is history.

So to this end, Raundi and I published The Hills are Alive: a bodacious little chapbook of poetry, prose and art, all about breasts.  Hoping to see a cure for this disease one day soon, but not wanting to wait around, we came up with our own unique cocktail for a cure.  With our books in hand and our personal collection of bras in tow, we began touring around the OC and LA area, reading excerpts from The Hills are Alive and sharing our breast adventures.  “Believing that the healing powers of art, music and love must never be underestimated and should be a part of everyone’s long-term treatment plan, we have been featuring at open mics providing those who need a place to express themselves with the depth and breadth that only a piece of poetry or art can convey.”  Raundi’s words.

Laguna Hills Show

And, it is working.  In fact, according to the authors of Creating Healing, Michael Samuels, MD and Mary Rockwood Lane, RN, MSN, PhD, “Physicians and nurses are discovering that art, music, dance and poetry can all have profound healing effects on their patients. Art brings to the human spirit a sense of freedom and joy. The spirit freed helps the body heal.”

Well, not only are physicians and nurses discovering the secret artists have always known.  I am now privy to it.  And, I am living it.  When I write, sing on stage or perform with The Mammary Chronicles, I am free!  This freedom through expression and art is my true medicine.  I feel a sense of awe and purpose as we tour around selling books, singing our hearts out, meeting incredible writers, poets, artists and yes, breast cancer survivors. 

At our show the other night I met a beautiful woman in her eighties who was diagnosed with breast cancer 41 years ago.  She had a double mastectomy and radiation.  Years later, she had to have both of her shoulders replaced because they were disintegrating from the radiation.  She is an incredible example that it is indeed possible to live a long healthy and prosperous life after breast cancer.  Without the Mammary Chronicles I would have never had the pleasure to meet her and hear her incredible story.  It is moments like these and women like her that keep me hanging on when I feel like letting go. 

So, to celebrate today’s milestone, I have planned a day full of art, training and rad poetry.  I have this blog to write, a poem to finish, a canyon to hike and some drums to learn.  Our beautiful and talented drummer moved on to new endeavors, so I am learning the drums for now. I have some big heels to fill.  But, I am ready for the challenge. 

“The portal of healing and creativity always takes us into the realm of the spirit.”  …Angeles Arrien

Paul Suntup

 

Eric Morago

The Mammary Chronicles Part II

January 15th, 2013

The Mammary Chronicles are at it again.  If you happen to be in the deep wilds of Orange County on Monday, February 4th, please join us  for an evening of poetry and prose with some truly talented poets including Thea Iberall, Raundi Moore-Kondo, Eric Morago and Paul Suntup.  Proceeds to benefit the Susan G. Komen foundation as I am preparing, yet again, to walk another 60 miles in the 3-Day Walk in November.

Not only will we be celebrating the spoken word, amazing poets, and the Susan G. Komen Foundation, I will be celebrating two years cancer free.  I have to say it again.  Two years cancer free.  Woohoo!!!  And, who better to celebrate it with than all of you who have given me such tremendous support.  Truly, I could not have done it, or continue to do it, without you.

RSVP to my E-mail:  Deanne.Brown@roadrunner.com

Hope to see you all there! 

   

 

A Full Tank of Love

January 1st, 2013

Me and my boys!

I am so hung-over, but not from alcohol.  No, I am thirsty, tired, dizzy, and have bloodshot eyes because I danced, laughed and ate too much last night bringing in the New Year with my friends.  I know it sounds ridiculous; a hang-over from a friend induced stupor, but it’s true.  According to the Mayo clinic, “hangover symptoms typically begin when your blood alcohol drops significantly and is at or near zero.”  Well, my “blood friends” has dropped significantly, they have all gone home, back to their busy lives, and I am near zero right now. 

However, even though I am hung-over, my love tank is full.  And there is no better way to start the New Year with a full tank of love.

It all began at Orit’s gorgeous home.  I was in charge of the invites and planning, Orit took care of all the shopping and cooking.  She asked me to come over early to help her set-up.  I arrived at 6:15 on-time, ready to have a glass of wine while putting out the food.  OMG!  I was not prepared for what I saw.  Orit had just returned from Costco.  Boxes, packages, bags, unopened plates, napkins, and food were strewn all over the entire kitchen.  Guests were to arrive at 7 pm.  We had exactly 45 minutes to unpack, prepare the food, set-up and put the little plastic bottoms on the flutes of over 100 wine and champagne glasses.  But Orit was prepared.  She had an entire entourage helping out.  We unpacked, unwrapped, sorted, stocked, cleaned, prepped and set-up and entire party in 1 hour.  And, I had time for the glass of wine.  It was “Kitchen Impossible,” at its finest and it was remarkable, reminding me of what people can achieve when we work together. 

Food and friends. A perfect combo!

As friends arrived in their lovely New Years Eve attire, and brought their delicious dishes to share, I was struck by how lucky I am to be a part of this extraordinary group of people.  We have known each other for over ten years now.  I met each and everyone through homeschooling, which is truly the best decision of my life.  In fact, I really never called California my home until these amazing homeschooling families came into my life.  We moved to Laguna Niguel from Phoenix in 1999. I put my kids in a private school, made some friends, volunteered at their schools, put the boys in sports and hung out at the beach but I still longed for home until the day I showed up at the South Orange County Homeschool Park Day in Dana Point.  The rest is history.

Isis, Matt, Cyndi and Steve!April, Isis, Valerie and Raundi

Debi, Raundi, Amy, Stephanie, Carolyn, April, Diana, Isis, Orit, Cyndi, Liz, Clare and many many more shiny beautiful women changed the direction of my life that day.  We worked together making sure our kids got the best education possible.  Geography club, book groups, history classes, art classes, Destination Imagination, park days, beach days, camping trips, birthday parties, and last but not least, music!  We moved the couch and coffee table to make room for drums, amps and a PA system.  Thus, the birth of Daisy Chain!     

The Women

But not only did we educate our kids together, we were extended family!  These women became my life source.

April came to my home and gave me personal yoga lessons during times of incredible stress.  Isis delivered her warm homemade veggie soup to my door after my mastectomy. Diana kept me well fed during chemo, bringing me special Macrobiotic dishes she made especially for me.    Stephanie packed up my entire closet, carefully wrapping all my clothes in bags, getting me ready for our move.  Raundi and Michael stayed late after all my parties and helped clean every last dish before they left.  And, Carolyn while pet sitting, wrapped our Bearded Dragon in a cloth and put him in her freezer after he died to keep till we got home so the kids could give him a proper burial.  If that is not friendship I don’t know what is.  I cannot even begin to list all the things my friends have done for me.  I would need a book.

The grown up kids!

Riley and Lauren

 And our kids!  I have watched them all grow and evolve into the amazing people they are today.  Savanah graduated from Orange County High school of the Arts and is now at UCI getting ready to run the entire Hyatt Empire some day.  Ray and Riley are working their butts off in college, getting straight A’s.  Will is a baseball star on the San Clemente Varsity team.  Harrison plays a mean guitar and I am certain will be put Steve Vai to shame one day.  Casey’s is not only going to write the next Tom Clancy novel he is the next Dave Grohl in the making.  Megan and Maggie are our future JK Rowling’s.  Haley is an aspiring fashion designer who, I have no doubt, will have her stunning creations on the cover of the 2020 Vogue issue.  Aaron is pursuing a career in Electrical Engineering.  Rachel and Reid are learning to hang glide.  Nick plays football.  Marie dances like no one is watching.  Indigo, Zack, Lear and Conner are going to design the next “Call of Duty” and Max will continue to melt everyone’s heart.  There are so many more incredibly talented and sweet kids, but again, I would need an entire book. 

The reason we all homeschooled

Please bear with me while I get a bit sappy.  It feels magnificent to be a part of such a big wonderful family!  You all mean the world to me.  I am who I am because of all of you.  My children are who they are because of all of you.  My life is what it is because of all of you.  I love you from the bottom of my heart.  Thank you!

It also feels magnificent to have a full love tank right now.  However, I know it will get low again.  It is easy to get caught up in our crazy busy lives; each of us going off in our own directions, pursuing careers, following our art, our passions, as it should be.   

So, my New Year’s Resolution is to make sure we all get our love tank filled once in a while and keep this family going!  As promised last night in my friend induced stupor, the next party is at my house at the end of the month, date to be announced.  I will make the Costco run.  Orit, can I borrow your entourage?

 

Beer for Dinner (and Other Coping Mechanisms)

December 19th, 2012

My dinner

 “You are so inspiring.  I wish I could have your control.”  These are words from a friend of mine that read my most recent blog, “French Fries are not a Vegetable.”

Thank you, Lori.  Yes, I do have a lot of control but not always.  In fact, I had beer for dinner last night, a Stone Pale Ale or two to be exact.  I was having a hard day and the thought of another salad made me want to puke.  So there, I do lose control at times. 

It is impossible to be on top of my game at all times.  Honestly, it is exhausting! 

Life is hard.  Sometimes, it is really hard.  I get down and my cravings kick in, chocolate covered almonds, ice cream, chips and salsa, been burritos with melted gooey cheese and beer.  At times like these, the site of another green juice makes me gag and I want to chuck that rice and kale bowl out the window for a big fat juicy “In and Out” burger. 

You might be thinking this is quite the turn from your last blog, Deanne.  What happened to sugar is poison, alcohol can cause breast cancer, transformation, best thing I have ever done for myself?  I guess it’s out the window with my rice and kale bowl for the time being. 

But that’s OK, because I want you to all know I am not perfect.  I mess up at times.  I am human.  We are all human.

So, yes, I am strong but not one hundred percent strong.  This month has been difficult, and this week even more trying, especially in the wake of Friday’s shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. 

Friday’s shooting hit me hard.  I was getting my nails done at “Happy Nails” for a fancy Christmas party.  I was looking forward to a nice manicure and pedicure, a little time to myself while Maggie was at poetry class.  As I looked up at the TV, “Breaking News, police cars, and 27 dead, flashed across the screen.  Any “Happy” I was hoping to get at “Happy Nails” was gone.  “Happy Nails” was just “Nails.”

In fact, not only was my “happy” gone, my holiday spirit, my optimism, even my gratitude, all kaput.  I began wallowing in the swamplands, again.  And when this happens, I break out the chocolate.

But then I read a post on Facebook from my nephew Shawn.  He helped me put the chocolate away with his poignant reminder:   

My nephew Shawn

The other day I was asked why I dislike slow, depressing music. I just shrugged and said I don’t like being depressed. Now that I think about it, it is much deeper and yet as simple as that.

I had an amazing child hood filled with amazing people! I had great loving parents Steve and Barb Johnson. I have 1 biological brother Chris, an “adopted” sister and brother Terra and Will, two step brothers E…don and Steven, and a load of family that I just fell into, Cathy, Jonathan, Monkey, and of course my lovely Rawr Muffin Amanda. In my life I have seen true tragedy first hand. I’ve seen family forcibly ripped from each others arms and ripped apart. I’ve seen friends lose the people closest to them. I’ve seen TRUE violent psychosis. I’ve seen police overstep their authority and abuse the very people they swore to protect. I’ve seen betrayal from the ones i love the most. I’ve seen peoples trust betrayed. I’ve seen what true depression is. I’ve seen a friend wreck and barely be alive. I’ve lost my own grandmother whom I was very close with. I’ve seen mental, physical, and emotional abuse on children and women who I know and love dearly. I’ve seen a child’s voice and needs go ignored and denied. I’ve seen a lot of dark things for my age more than I care to put on this status……

BUT and this is very key….

I’ve seen unconditional love. I’ve seen both my parents accept people and friends in need and it made the world for them. I’ve seen my cousins grow into the most AMAZING people. I’ve seen friends grow and prove their parents proud! I’ve seen my parents give a home to friends and make them family. I’ve seen family break the chains of oppression and live free from abuse. I’ve given a young man a voice. I’ve had my trust in people rewarded 10 fold. I’ve been invited in and made part of a business that is more of a loving family than a job. I’ve received so much love and help from a man that goes above and beyond the title of “Captain”. I’ve seen true deep seeded depression beat! I’ve seen bullies change their ways. I’ve fallen in love and am dating my best friend. I watched my friend get married. Saw addiction get beat. Saw my aunt kick breast cancer’s ASS! Watched my friend recover from his near death motorcycle accident despite what the doctors said and made it home for Christmas. I’ve seen families re united after weeks apart during rough times. I’ve seen beauty blossom. I’ve influenced a younger individual to turn their life around for the better. I’ve gained an amazing younger brother who i care for very much for. I won a game of alcoholic checkers against my “mother in law”. I hold my girlfriends hand through all the rough times.

I’ve seen a lot of beauty and amazing things in my life as well. When i listen to depressing music all the good fades from view. And I realized….. It is easy to forget the beauty and love in life and focus on the bad dark and evil. My father once told me “Your life is what YOU make it. The only bad days you have are ones you let happen. You can either sit there mope, cry, and get angry… Or you can stand back up and be determined to have a damn good day.” I have found this advice very handy and true.

So to my loved friends and family the moral of my long ass rant is this.

No matter how much tragedy you encounter there are amazing and beautiful things in your life as well, never fixate yourself on only the bad. So listen to some good happy nonsensical music and put yourself in a great mood. Realize life doesn’t suck. And have a truly amazing day.

I love you all.

Thank you Shawn for reminding me that in spite of all the bad, there is good, there is hope, there is love!    

We all have moments of grief and loss, when doubt hits us like a train and the pain is so overwhelming we cannot see the good.  I was having a moment like this.  But, as I have learned, this too shall pass. 

And it did, I drank a huge 32 oz. green juice today with a bowl of rice and kale and it was delicious!

French Fries are not a Vegetable

December 12th, 2012

 Let food be thy medicine, thy medicine shall be thy food…. Hippocrates

The doctor of the future will give no medication, but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, diet and in the cause and prevention of disease…. Thomas A Edison

 
Maggie has been home since the weekend with a sore throat, runny nose, and fever.  Last week, Casey was down for the count and missed three days of school.  Kevin has been battling it for weeks and Riley, well he seems to be fighting it because he is the only one in the family that takes my advice about eating healthy.  But not me, I am fine.  In fact, I am not just fine, I haven’t been sick for two years, not a cold nor flu, nothing.  It seems a miracle for someone who battled bronchitis twice a year my entire life. 

It’s not a miracle, however.  No, it is simply a result of my new diet and lifestyle.  As many of you know, I changed things up a bit after being diagnosed with breast cancer and it has been one of the best things I have ever done for myself. 

And a special perk to boot, I can fit into my pair of black skinny jeans and better yet, no PMS!  Seriously, those days before my period when I couldn’t get enough chocolate, snapped at everyone, cramped, cried and wanted to kill my husband are gone.  Well, not the kill my husband part but that is for another blog. 

Ok, This is not me, but a girl can dream!

Many people, after hearing about my transformation, want to know what I am doing.  So, I have finally decided to write it all down in a blog and share my “modus operandi” with all of you.   

Although we still don’t know everything about cancer and why it grows in the first place, there is mounting evidence that cancer cells multiply when the immune system, our body’s natural defense is on the fritz.  So, to keep cancer at bay, I have made it one of my life’s missions to boost up my immune system!  How?  Living a healthier lifestyle, changing my ph balance from acidic to alkaline, and reducing inflammation. 

Low grade chronic and systemic inflammation is a leading cause in many diseases.  According to Young S. Kim, program director in the Nutritional Science Research Group at the National Cancer Institute, “Cancer is caused by many different processes and inflammation is one of them, and if you could inhibit that process it would be tremendously helpful.”

In fact, doctors are now recommending a baby aspirin a day to help prevent cancer.    Why?  Because, an aspirin (81 mg) a day has shown to decrease inflammation.  It’s not just to thwart heart disease anymore.  But aspirin alone is not enough.  If it were, we would all be cancer free.  No, the real cure is a nutritional diet coupled with a healthy lifestyle.  Sounds easy, doesn’t it.  I wish I could say it is as simple as it sounds, but it is not.  However, it can be done.  I am living proof.    

So, after lots of research, trial and error and more error, I have come up with the following plan and so far have been able to avoid that nasty winter flu, cancer coming back, PMS and committing murder.  Enjoy!

  1.  Take your mom’s advice and eat your veggies. It is pretty clear, we are what we eat.  But, just as important, we are what we don’t eat.   According to Joe Cross in his film, “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead,” Americans are not eating their vegetables.  In fact, for many, veggies only make up 5% of their overall diet.  This is not good.  Our bodies cannot live on carbs alone which makes up the majority of the American diet.  Do you know that potatoes are the most popular vegetable?  I call it the “white food group” which Maggie loves.  Potatoes don’t count!  You need some green stuff.  Veggies are packed with phytonutrients.  According to the voice of sustainable wellness, Frank Lipman, “phytonutrients help our cells communicate better with each other, help prevent mutations at a cellular level, some are anti-inflammatory, others are potent antioxidants and many have functions we are only beginning to understand. What we do know is they help prevent cancer, heart disease and most chronic diseases in general, are anti-aging, boost the immune system and generally promote health.”  An important tip:  cooking can kill enzymes in many vegetables and certain vitamins found in veggies, so make sure that you include raw veggies in your diet very day.  A salad a day keeps the doctor away.
  2. Drink your juice. A 16 oz glass of fresh green organic juice straight from the juicer is like drinking pure sunshine.  Power packed with vitamins, minerals, enzymes and chlorophyll, all that liquid love goes directly into your bloodstream instantly oxygenating your body, releasing stored toxins, improving your blood circulation, and cleansing your liver giving you tremendous energy. You truly can’t go wrong with this elixir of life.
  3. Chew, Chew, Chew.  Our digestive system actually begins in our mouths.  The combination of chewing and our saliva gets things started so our bowels don’t have to work so hard.  When our digestive system is on overload, all our healing energy goes to that area of the body taking away from other areas that may need the energy.  When our digestive system is working properly, all is right with the world. 
  4. Ditch the sugar.  Not only is sugar poison to our bodies, sugar is to cancer as oxygen is to fire.  Americans eat on a per capita basis 156 pounds of sugar per year.  This is equivalent to 31 five-pound bags. That’s a whole lot of sugar.  Beware of hidden sugars.  It’s in your salad dressings, ketchup, Spaghetti sauce and cereals.  Honestly, you are sweet enough without it.
  5. Limit your alcohol.  According to the Harvard Nurses’ Health study, drinking more than one alcoholic cocktail per day can increase breast cancer risk by 20 to 25 percent.  Imbibing in an alcoholic drink can certainly relax you after a long day or help you to break loose a bit at a social gathering but like sugar, cancer loves it as much as you do.  There are other ways to relax and have fun.  You may need to get a bit creative but the results are worth it. 
  6. Reduce your caffeine intake.   The jury is still out on this but some studies indicate that caffeine plays a role in breast cancer.  One thing known for sure is that caffeine increases levels of cortisol and stress hormones in your body.  Maybe you can consider herbal teas instead.  Slurp!
  7. Shake your booty.  Get active, go for a walk, ride a bike, go dancing, join a gym or swim in the deep blue sea.  Whatever your choice of activity, get off that couch, log out of Facebook and dance your heart out for thirty minutes or more a day.  The trick for getting the most bang from your walk, break a sweat!    
  8. Take your vitamins. Many of our foods today are depleted of their natural nutrients due to poor soil conditions, toxicity, pesticides, early picking, and many other modern agricultural practices.  To make up for this, it is a good idea to take supplements.  For example, most Americans do not get enough Vitamin D in their diet and low amounts of vitamin D are linked to some of the most aggressive breast cancers.  A glass of milk, fortified orange juice or a day in the sun will not give you the needed amounts.  This is one of the few times when popping a pill is good for you.    
  9. If you can’t pronounce it, don’t eat it.  Stay away from processed foods, chemicals, food dyes, and foods treated with pesticides.  We know MSG causes cancer yet all the big food companies put it in their products including the 4 most popular packaged foods, Hamburger Helper, Lipton’s Onion Soup Mix, Progresso soups and Campbell’s soups.  Also, most frozen pizzas, chips, processed vegetables, canned meats, frozen pot pies, seasonings and sauces contain MSG.  And do you know that all those salad dressings we dump on our healthy bowl of lettuce and veggies are full of chemicals, yes MSG included.  So, make your own salad dressing.  It’s easy and tastes a lot better than those bottled brands.  One last word of advice, never take a trip to fast food nation again!  When I think of all those Happy Meals I bought my kids when they were young I cringe.  Ban Micky D’s, try Pho Bowls instead. 
  10. Limit your exposure to non-organic foods and residual hormones found in dairy and meat.  In fact, limit your exposure to meat and dairy all together.  Albert Einstein said, “Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chance of survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.”  Although I am not yet convinced that meat is horrible for you, I do know Americans eat way too much of it.  Instead, get the majority of your proteins from nuts, seeds, whole grains, and legumes.  If you eat meat and dairy, choose free-range organic chicken and eggs or wild caught fish.  And, if you are craving a big ass piece of steak especially around your period, make sure it is grass fed.
  11. Maintain a healthy body weight.  Estrogen is stored in fat tissue.  This stored estrogen is known to increase your risk of estrogen-sensitive breast cancers and PMS.  Maintaining a healthy weight also helps you to feel good, look good, and squeeze into your favorite jeans.  Hey, maybe those skinny jeans won’t just be for your daughter anymore. 
  12. Do a daily dry rub!  I know what you are thinking.  No, I am referring to rubbing your skin.  In Chris Karr’s words, “We dump tons of toxins out of our skin so it’s important to keep the pathway clear. Dry brushing loosens dead cells, stimulates acupressure points, tickles your chi, massages your meridians, moves the lymph, helps reduce CELLULITE, stimulates your immune system, wakes up circulation and makes your skin soooo soft and velvety!”
  13. Ok, here it is!  Have lots of orgasms!  Orgasms release endorphins (natures own happy pill), relieve tension, help you sleep better, calm your cravings for junk food, ease your pain, burn calories and simply feel good.  Need I say more?
  14. Get your zzzzzzzzzz’s.  Your body does most of its healing while you are sleeping.  Treat yourself like a princess.  Slip into some comfy pj’s, fluff your pillow, splurge on some silky sheets and drift off into wonderland for at least 8 hours every night.  I was listening to a radio talk show the other day.  The guest speaker, a health consultant, said if there is only one thing you can do on this long list towards getting healthy, get your sleep.  It is first and foremost! 
  15. Don’t worry, be happy.  There is an incredible mind body connection that we are just beginning to understand.  Our thoughts and feelings can positively or negatively influence our bodies.  As Lawrence LeShan, Ph.D. and father of mind-body therapy states, “Feelings affect body chemistry, just as body chemistry affects feelings.”  And Albert Einstein said, “I admit thoughts influence the body.”  You know what it feels like to be stressed out about work, devastated over a break up, anxious about those teenage kids or those unending bills.  Your muscles tighten up, your stomach churns, your head pounds, or a pain in your chest makes you wonder if this is the big one.  This is stress and it can wear down your immune system, making you vulnerable to all kinds of diseases.  So, sit with those negative thoughts, decide whether to throw them away or deal with them.  But, do not let them run your life.  And, practice your affirmations.  I am an amazing, beautiful, happy, healthy woman.  I am an amazing, beautiful, happy, healthy woman.  I am an amazing, beautiful, happy, healthy woman.  For the men, I am a strong, handsome, powerful and productive man!  Got it?  Good! 

We are interesting creatures. Many of us know that we should be taking better care of ourselves but it usually takes something like cancer or a new love affair to take real action.  We smoke when we know it causes cancer.  We sit on the couch and promise to exercise tomorrow as our muscles shrink and our bones thin.  We eat an exorbitant amount of empty carbs, sugars and bad fats as our waist grows and our energy is depleted.  We drink way too much alcohol even when it makes us feel like shit the next day and studies connect alcohol consumption to breast cancer.  We think French fries are a vegetable and Red Bull “gives us wings.” 

But it is never too late to change. 

If I can do it, you can do it!  I promise.  And, I can tell you first hand, not only is it worth it, you are worth it!

So, as this New Year approaches, instead of taking time to get a flu shot, go buy yourself a new juicer, eat your veggies, ditch the sugar, take your vitamins, get your zzzzz’s, shake your booty, have lots of sex and say your affirmations!  I am worth it!  I am worth it!  I am worth it!

Now if I can just get my family to do the same.