I’m Coming Out 12-5-17

Today is a “coming out” kind of day for me. My birthday is Saturday so to celebrate, I’m flying to San Francisco to spend it with my cousin, who also happens to be my best friend. I haven’t been back for a year and a half.

I left San Francisco in May of 2015 after a long battle with Cancer. I also left a tumultuous relationship that brought so much strife in to my life. I’ve spent the last two years hiding out in my room at my mothers house. It’s no secret I’ve not only battled anxiety as well as PTSD but I’ve also struggled to heal from the side effects left behind from treatment. I’ll admit returning to San Francisco is really scary. After all, my departure was not on good terms.

I was blessed to cash in some airline miles and bought myself a round trip ticket for $11.20. What a steal!! As the time draws closer to driving to the airport I find myself nervous and very fearful. I suppose because my return to my beloved city by the bay opens the door to having to face the reality of what I left behind and why. It also means going out of my comfort zone (my bedroom) and learning to live life again.

Life happens sometimes. Occasionally we run away from reality and sweep the wreckage of our past under the carpet. We become complacent in our “safe” place. That’s what’s happened to me. I’ve become very complacent in the comfort of my room at my mothers which has become my safe place. I’m excited to go to San Francisco. I’m excited to spend time with my cousin but at the same time I’m scared. I’m not sure what the days ahead have in store for me however, what I do know is I’m ready to take on the challenge.

Diana Ross sang a song called “I’m Coming Out”. This song holds a special meaning for me today. In so many ways I’m Coming Out. As I board my flight to San Francisco I recognize I’m no longer the same woman I was when I left San Francisco two years ago. However, I really like this new me. Saturday is my birthday. The beginning of a new year and a new me. What better city to launch my “Coming Out” as the new me than my favorite city…..my beloved city by the bay. Look out San Francisco!!! I’m coming back!!

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Black Friday 11-25-17 revised from 2014

I wrote this blog in 2014. It was a challenging year. However, after reading my reflection on the holiday season three years ago, I still stand by what I wrote.

The Christmas season has become so commercialized as has Thanksgiving. This year I had the most wonderful thanksgiving ever. I spent the entire day with my friends, family and even my grandkids. Black Friday was spent having lunch with the people I love and today I’ll spend another day with family.

Maybe I missed out on all the great deals but I certainly didn’t miss out on the best deal out there. Quality time with the people I love. I can’t put a price tag on that. In the midst of it all, my heart is always with those in need. I do my best to give of myself as often as I can. For me that really is having a holiday spirit.

BLACK FRIDAY 2014

For the past week or more all I see are advertisements or news stories about Black Friday. The biggest shopping day of the year. I find it amusing how the holiday season has become so commercialized. Four years ago I was driving to work and while I listened to the radio, a commercial came on about the Christmas season. What I found interesting, was not only had Thanksgiving not rolled around, neither had Halloween! These past few months have not only been the most challenging months of my life, it’s given me a whole new perspective on how I view things. I realize that life isn’t about the material things we acquire or the amount of money we have, the gifts we give others during the holidays, it’s really all about family and the people we love. It’s how we choose to live life.

Four years later, I began seeing Christmas decorations the first week of October. The holiday season has taken on a whole new meaning. No longer is it about being thankful on thanksgiving or being surrounded by family on Christmas morning, it’s all about the material things. Being diagnosed with cancer comes with so many negative challenges but it also has a positive impact on a persons life. Cancer can really change a persons perspective on life. It is a realization of what’s really important. My friend in North Carolina send me a quote yesterday that she saw at a cancer unit. It said “you’re going to want to give up……DONT!!!” Fighting cancer is tough business but the silver lining is you become more aware of what’s important. More often than not, living and spending quality time with family is what becomes more important than waiting in line to buy the perfect gift on Black Friday. Family is what gives a person the inspiration to not give up!

I have a very humorous personality. I love to laugh. I especially love those who make me laugh and I love any comedian who is funny. I love Ellen Degeneres. She’s hysterical. Will Ferrell. Jim Gaffigan, Eddie Murphy, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler….the list goes on. If you’re funny you have a place in my book. I was watching Jimmy Kimmel last night. He’s a riot. His monologue was hilarious. He poked fun at everything including Thanksgiving and Black Friday. He said he felt it was inappropriate to make people work on Thanksgiving. It’s a holiday that you should spend with your family. He went on to say that even more disturbing were the people who set up camps on a sidewalk on Thanksgiving to be the first in line for Black Friday. He had a stellar idea. Jimmy’s idea was that those who felt the need to camp out on a sidewalk over night in preparation for Black Friday, should open their homes to all the homeless people so they had a warm and cozy place to sleep. Now I have to admit, I found myself laughing but the truth is I laughed because it was true.

That’s how silly we’ve all become. A homeless person would give anything not to sleep in a tent on a sidewalk, while we would be willing to do it for a “good deal”.

There are so many homeless people in San Francisco. My heart sinks and my stomach hurts every time I’m in the car and I see people passed out or I take my walks and I pass these people on the sidewalk. Some are homeless not by choice. They’ve experienced a job loss or a tragedy. Jimmy Kimmel’s joke last night was funny but if you think about it for a few minutes, it can really put things in to perspective.

Thursday will be another Thanksgiving I won’t be spending with my family. It sucks. I wish I was. These days Black Friday isn’t even on my list. Being surrounded by family is the only thing that I think about. I met with my radiation oncologist last Friday. I was surprised to hear that I will need 36 radiation treatments opposed to 30. He wanted me to start right away. I have opted to start the 7 week ordeal after Christmas. I’d like to go home for the holidays and spend the time with my family. Somehow, that’s more important to me than anything else including Black Friday. Today I have my planning appointment along with a cat scan to prepare for the 7 week ordeal. I have a long year ahead of me, not to mention 5 years of keeping my fingers crossed. I hate having cancer but in some ways I’m grateful for the experience and the new perspective it’s given me on how I view life. Everything I thought was important is no longer in the forefront. Living is along with the love of friends and family and the quality time we share as we go through this thing called life.

This Thanksgiving, focus on the things you have to be grateful for. Focus on the time you are lucky enough to share with your family. Everything else is just stuff. That includes that great deal you’re waiting in line for on that very popular day that has become the biggest day of the year…..Black Friday. And if you can’t resist the biggest shopping day of the year, then take Jimmy Kimmel’s advice. Open your home to the homeless 😄.

The Tin Man 11-14-17

I posted this on Facebook about a year ago. It showed up on my Facebook memories. I thought I’d share on my blog today.

My song today is the Tin Man by America. My son Skyler used to make fun of me for loving this group. He thought I was a nerd. This song is a favorite simply because the lyrics resonate with me. The tin man was a character in the wizard of oz. As you no, the Wizard of Oz is the story of Dorothy who finds herself hiding in her room during a tornado. The tornado lifts her house and she’s caught in the eye of the tornado. Ultimately her home lands in the Land of Oz on top of the Wicked Witch of the East killing her. Her mean sister wants to kill Dorothy but The good witch appears and puts the witches ruby red slippers on Dorothy telling her to follow the yellow brick road where she will find Oz and he will send her home.

On the way she meets the lion (he wants courage) the tin man (he wants a heart) and the scarecrow (he wants a brain). Together they travel this journey following the yellow brick road despite the many challenges along the way. They arrive at the end of their journey. Facing Oz is scary but as it turns out Oz is just a little old man who is harmless. Oz gives Dorothy and her crew what they already had. In other words, Oz didn’t have the power. The power was within themselves. Dorothy always had the ability to go home. The lion already had courage, the tin man had heart and the scarecrow had a brain.

Such is life. Sometimes we find ourselves in the tornado of life. We lack courage, brains and a heart to stay on the yellow brick road moving forward until we finally reach the end of the journey and the challenge is over. It’s not easy but we make it. We look back and realize we had courage, brains and a heart all along. The question is how did we use those God given gifts? Were we determined and never gave up? Did we use our brain to make wise choices and was our heart filled with love for ourselves? More importantly for others or was it filled with fear, resentment, grief, worry?

The moral is there’s always an end to the story. As we travel the journey it’s important we use the gifts given to us in a positive way. Have courage in everything you do. Use your brain to make wise choices and always have a heart filled with love not only for yourself but for others.

In life we pray for courage to get through each day. We pray for wisdom to make the right choices and often times we pray for love. The truth is we are praying for what we already have. We just have to find these gifts within ourselves. My prayer for those reading this today is that if you’re facing a challenge you will recognize the courage you already have to get through it. You will use your “brain” to make wise choices and you will have a heart filled with love not only for yourself but for others.

Kindness Works.

Kindness works! believe that

Ever since I realized it was World Kindness Day, I started looking for opportunities to be kind to people. More than usual. Ironically they both ended up being acts of business kindness.

(1) A guy at The Gathering Spot was desperately looking for anyone who might have any kind of communications / English background. What he was really looking for was someone in marketing to help him look over a last minute brochure he had a graphic artist to create. Spent 5 minutes of my time with him and he left with some very critical basic changes that needed to be made (spelling, messaging, white space, a call to action) that he otherwise wouldn’t have known about. That could’ve cost him some business!

(2) A very young brother stopped me on my way out wanting advice and ultimately mentorship on a little screen printing / T-shirt business he has. Another…

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I’ve Been Thinking by Maria Shriver 11-12-17

I’VE BEEN THINKING
The other day, I was sitting at lunch with my kids as they started to discuss the Texas shooting. They wondered why the news had moved on from this story so quickly.

My son said, “Wow, that Texas story was wild. Why aren’t more people talking about that? Isn’t it weird that it just came and went?”

I thought about that. Stories used to stop us all cold in our tracks. Now, they just seem to come and go. Moments that used to bring a collective sense of grief—a collective sense of oneness—now seem to come and go without landing.

I told my children what it used to be like when a big story like Columbine would dominate the news and our national conversation for weeks. We would come together to converse, to wonder, to express outrage or pain. Now, it seems that when a tragedy like the one in Las Vegas happens, we move on. When a tragedy like the one in Texas happens, we scroll by. And so it goes.

The stories of those who lost their lives in Texas still sit in my mind. The young mother who gave her life to protect her kids. The young daughter of the pastor whose bright future was gone in a moment. The shock, the trauma, and the grief: it still exists for those who were in that church, or who were at that Vegas concert, or who lived in the path of the hurricanes and fires. For them, this news doesn’t just come and go. It stays.

As we roll towards the holidays, my hope is that we can somehow slow down our scrolling and swiping and focus our attention on these monumental moments that are happening all around us. I hope we can also take a moment to embrace the magnificent chance at life that each and every one of us gets. Remember, life isn’t a guarantee for any of us. If you are blessed to celebrate a new year of life, it behooves you to think about owning it and making it matter. Why? Because you are one of the lucky ones.

May we all slow down and reflect on how life is unfolding around us. May we take a moment to think and wonder about stories of tragedies and sadness. May we consider what they mean, who was affected, and how we can work to move forward and hopefully one day prevent these things from happening. 
At the same time, may we also stop and celebrate the moments of inspiring change and acceptance that are happening all around us. May we stop and celebrate individuals who are seizing their moment and doing what they can to make a difference and move humanity forward. Individuals like Danica Roem, whose election to the Virginia House of Delegates on Tuesday made her the first openly transgender woman to take state office. Or, Vito Perillo, a 93-year-old World War 2 veteran who had never run for office before, but on Tuesday, became the mayor of Tinton Falls, NJ. “I like for people to see that as old as I am, you can still do and accomplish things,” Perillo told his local NBC affiliate. I mean, wow. How amazing is that?

Life really is just a series of moments. A day is made up of 1440 minutes, each a moment to make our own. How many moments are in a life? None of us know.

Today, take a moment. Take one of those 1440 minutes to remember the lives behind the numbers, as well as the life that is still yours to embrace. Doing so is not only good for your own soul. It’s also good for the foundation of our collective community. 

Tick tock. What are you going to do with your day?

Control Drama 11-11-17

Protect Yourself from Control Dramas – BY JODI JANATI

The following is an excerpt from the DailyOM 

What is a Control Drama? 

A control drama, as coined by James Redfield in his book, “The Celestine Prophecy,” is played by anyone who is feeling low on power or energy, to manipulate and steal the energy of another. Control dramas are unconscious strategies all people use to gain power or energy from another person and to essentially, “get their way with others.” We get our way with others by making them pay attention to us and then elicit a certain reaction from them to make ourselves feel fulfilled. The positive feelings we gain are won at the expense of the other person and this often causes imbalance and drama in our interpersonal relationships. 
Most of us have a dominant control drama in which we engage in automatically, without even realizing what we are doing and to what extent and expense. Your need to defend and engage in defensive responses with someone means you are caught in a control drama and you will thus, “react.” When you start to become aware of your dominant control drama and can recognize it in action, you can start to hone it and make better choices in your responses to others. Likewise, once you understand how others use control dramas to make you react, you can refrain from engaging in them and move on to more healthy resolution “responses.”
As you learn more about control dramas, you will realize you are already quite familiar with them and this is because you have been exposed to a variety of people throughout your life and have had to test each of them to successfully navigate intense interactions. Most people will resort to the same control drama when feeling tested and are completely unaware of it and how others experience them during these episodes. And with awareness, comes change. 
Awareness and recognition of a control drama allows you to break the cycle and choose to disconnect from it altogether. When a control drama isn’t controlling an interaction, you can “respond” more effectively and authentically to others. You will learn about four common control dramas people use to attract and defeat others. You will also discover there are many effective ways to approach others during difficult interactions. Knowing you have choices during difficult interactions with others, allows you to live a drama free life and helps you find your “conversation peace.”