One Billion Rising–Stand, Dance

I thought it only fitting that I post this today as women, men, mothers, daughters, fathers, sons, husbands and wives are rising up to speak out about the violence against women. I was one of those women wrapped in the chains of violence and it took me 22 long years, and 2 failed marriages, to break those chains.

My story didn’t start with the marriages. It started much earlier when, as a young girl, I was molested by a half-brother and a grandfather. It was many years later after breaking those chains, that I knew in my heart that those earlier circumstances were what lead me to the men I married. For many years I would not speak about the things I had been through and there are still details, no one knows. Not because I can’t bring myself to speak about them, but because I have found that I am able to help others without all the details of my experiences. Healing is a reality not just something we hope for!

However, you could say that my chains started even earlier than the first day I was abused. My parents divorced when I was 5 and I watched as my father threw my mother out of the house. I was hiding where they couldn’t see me and crying softly. I just knew it had to have been something I did. I didn’t see my mother for years after that. Despite everyone telling you, it isn’t your fault, as a child, you never really believe that. I don’t remember consciously thinking about it much but I would discover later, when I had my own children, that it had always been buried in my subconscious. I now know that it wasn’t anything I did but it took me many years to understand that.

I was blessed with 3 beautiful children and it was because of those children and my experiences of divorced parents I endured the abuse. Ironically, it was those beautiful children that helped me find the way out. They don’t know that, it wasn’t something they did or said. As a mother, there is nothing we wouldn’t do for our children. I love my children with all my heart and I know they love me. I knew that then and it was as if a light went off..divorced parents or dead mom..divorced parents was a much healthier option for all concerned. This truly was a case of “Love conquers all.”

I have always been blessed with the ability to keep the smile in my heart despite the outside challenges I may be facing. However I have not always had the ability to truly know how to break the chains and stop the cycle of abuse. Learning to break that cycle is a true awakening to the power of who you are. It is a time of returning to spirit and knowing you are worthy of love and to be treated like the goddess that you are.

There are no excuses for violence against another human being. If you are reading this and in a violent situation, STOP reading, get help. Violence comes in many forms and is not always physical. If you feel anything less than extraordinary you may be suffering from abuse. We all need to rise up against violence! Children learn by example, they mimic what they see. We need to show them a world filled with love and peace.

If I only help one person in this world to break those chains I will have been a success.

I would love to hear what you are doing to stand up against violence..leave a comment below and share with the community of friends.

And the Emmy goes to..

This post is dedicated to the team at PBS and WITF Facing Cancer Together. Congratulations on the honor of being chosen for the Mid-Atlantic Emmy award for Outstanding Achievement in Community Service.  Facing Cancer Together embodies the spirit of survivorship and my current mission.  I am honored to have been a part of your tremendous community efforts.

There is an important lesson here for all of us.  Working together toward a common goal is much more effective than each of us struggling on our own to  reach the same goal.  We have a much greater impact on the world around us if we connect our energies and focus on the big picture.  We all play a part, we are all a piece of the bigger puzzle.  No matter how big or how small your contribution to community, the puzzle is not complete without all the pieces.  No matter what cause is close to your heart, you play a valuable role.

Think of yourself as an ongoing supply of energy, everything is energy, energy creates, the more you use, the more quickly you create.  Imagine the outlet on your wall, use it the way it is and you can plug in two appliances for charging.  Take that same outlet and put in an adapter to expand it’s use and you can double or even triple the amount of energy and electricity coming out of that same outlet. By focusing on yourself you limit the amount of energy that you output because there is only one of you.  By focusing on others you multiply the amount of energy you output by the number of others on who you focus.

There are so many wonderful organizations all working toward the same goal, quality of life for survivors and a cure for this disease that claims so many lives.  It is obvious that much thought and care went into making this campaign happen and getting it right.  If you are a cancer survivor, know someone who is, have been touched in any way by this disease, I’m sure that this campaign has something that will inspire you and I would encourage you to  check out all the wonderful online resources.

Begin each day by asking “What can I give to another?” and then “What can I give to myself?”  It is important to never reverse the order of these questions.  When you keep them in this order the 1st question always answers the second one.  What you give to someone else, you give to yourself.  Give a smile and serve with kindness each day!

 

I’m Back

Hello to all my loyal readers and fellow survivors. I apologize for the lack of blog posts. Prepare yourselves to get some great weekly updates. For most of June I was on a very special trip across America as part of the crew for a wonderful racer in RAAM, Janet Christiansen. If you don’t know what RAAM is, please visit http://www.raceacrossamerica.org. The Race Across America is the world’s toughest bicycle race that most of you have never heard of. I would have to say that this race is as tough on the crew as it is the rider(s). There is no comparison to the Tour de France, unlike the tour, when the clock starts it never stops. Imagine riding 3,000 miles on the seat of a bicycle in 12 days or less. No monetary prize, and if you don’t finish in the allotted time frame you are considered a “did not finish” even if you ride the entire route. Stay tuned, I will be publishing a short story about this experience.

July has also come and gone spending time with family. Now August has arrived and it is time to work on getting those bicycle wheels turning again. It is time to resume the path of random acts of kindness.

Write to me, let me know what you would like to see here. I would love for you to leave a comment, tell me where your favorite cancer center is and what makes it unique. Why I should put it on my list of centers to visit.

Stay tuned, I am going to work on a video post for you about what I learned from my trip across country.

A Day of Healing Cranes…

Warm, sunny weather and warm, sunny greetings is how my day at Moffitt Cancer Center started. With each visit to a new place there is always an excitement and anticipation of the unknown. I do my research before deciding where to visit but there are still things you cannot anticipate. I have discovered that no matter how comprehensive the website you cannot fully understand all that you may experience when you finally arrive at a cancer center.

Whether you are there as a patient, a caregiver, or simply a guest, there are so many unseen experiences to be found.

Moffitt Cancer Center is located in Tampa, Florida on the campus of the University of Florida. The first thing I noticed was that just the building alone had a welcoming presence. It didn’t have a cold, clinical feel.

My day began with the Manager of Patient Relations. We dropped my bike and bags in the office and there is where the day began. I had a small audience to share my story of survivorship with and since that is what this trip is about I was happy to oblige. Sharing my story would end up being a theme throughout the visit.

I was taken to many parts of this wonderful facility and I will highlight a few of what I like to call the lesser known aspects of the day.

An early stop was in the Arts In Medicine department where I was introduced to several people and shared my story again. It was there that I learned the story of the healing cranes, inspired by the family of a patient. In Japan the crane is a symbol of peace and healing and the tradition is to fold a thousand “cranes,” for healing. There were cranes on display throughout the area and I would soon discover they were on the desks in other parts of the center. The Arts In Medicine department decided to put their own unique spin on this tradition so instead of having each patient fold a thousand cranes, their patients are instructed to write a healing message on the inside of the wing and hang the crane where it can be seen a thousand times and used as a reminder of peaceful, positive moments. They graciously offered me the instructions on how to make my own healing crane. I can’t wait to try it. Arts in healing is so very important, it can bring a sense of calm in the midst of the storm. Arts is a way to focus the mind on something positive, energy flows where attention goes and therefore focusing on the positive brings positive results.

I heard them make an announcement for a soon to begin meditation session for stress reduction. That was the next sign that this center was treating the person and not just the disease. The sentiment with patients and families seemed in agreement, as I heard them express they were glad that they were receiving their care at Moffitt.

As we made our way through the different parts of the building I got an explanation for the things I saw along the way and the next place I would share my story was in the patient library. That is where I left my gift of Livestrong wristbands. That would also be where I would be introduced to the hospital president. A very welcoming man, he was sincerely interested in my story and the fact that I had chosen to visit Moffitt along the way. We chatted for a bit and then it was time to move on. I now had a new tour guide.

I was thrilled when I was shown HER Place, a special place for women where they can research and get information on the illness they have. Her Place is complete with computers, written materials and so much more and it is quietly tucked in a corner away from the hustle and bustle of patient activity.

Another wonderful, relaxing feature was a fairly large rock display with a fountain. It was very serene and in the warm, sunny weather of Florida would be a plus for anyone needing to escape.

Next I would be shuttled off the main campus to meet with a woman who is doing some wonderful work in risk assessment, detection and intervention. She has an amazing story and the work she is doing focused on HPV is certainly near to my heart. I think we could have talked for hours. Needless to say, I will spread the word wherever I go, on the importance of her work.

I lost count of how many times I shared my story that day. To be honest, the time just seemed to slip away. Everyone at this facility went out of there way to make sure I had a successful visit. When the day was done, I was given a ride to my host’s home and all ended beautifully.

For more information on Moffitt Cancer Center click here.