Shaking The Tree 11-2-17

I haven’t posted in awhile. I have had some medical challenges these past couple of months however, I thought I’d post today in the hopes of inspiring women today. 

I was in my car yesterday and as I was listening to Sirius radio, Peter Gabriel came on. He was belting out “In Your Eyes”. For a brief moment I found myself reflecting on my youth when I was young, free and everything was good. As a young adult, I recalled listening to music by Peter Gabriel. I loved his songs then as much as I do today.  It was a very nostalgic moment for me. 

One of my favorite songs is “Shaking The Tree”. The song exudes influences from Africa which I love. In fact, Peter wrote the song with Youusou N’Dour, an African musician Gabriel admired. The song was Peter Gabriel’s way of taking a stance against the many problems in the world. This song was his way of supporting the women’s movement in Africa where traditionally men allowed women very few rights. It’s an awesome song and very empowering to all women throughout the world. 

I read a post the other day about courage. I was very moved by the words and I was inspired to be courageous and press on and do the things I was scared to do.  I’m sharing  in the hopes it will be the inspiration anyone reading might need today. 

“Today is COURAGE DAY!!! What have you been scared to do, even though you know you want and need to do it?  Today is the day!! It’s time!!! You know you’re ready. Now JUST DO IT!!”

After I listened to Peter Gabriel on the radio I remembered my favorite tune. I not only listened to it on my YouTube playlist, I shared it on Facebook. Today I’m sharing on my blog and dedicating it to all women who are facing challenges today. My hope is you will be inspired to have the courage to take back your life and be the strong woman god intended you to be. 

Maybe some of you are in an abusive relationship, maybe you’ve recently gone through a break up. Maybe some of you are at a workplace where sexual harassment is king or maybe someone reading today is facing a medical challenge that has brought you to your knees. Whatever your challenge is, I’d like to encourage you to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start “Shaking that tree!”  Shake two trees if you have to!! Do not allow anything or anyone to take a way that power that lives inside of you. Maybe it’s hiding somewhere deep inside but believe me, if you shake that tree hard enough you’ll not only find that courage but you’ll also find that strong, independent woman that lives inside of you. Break away from the fear that holds you back and just do it! Have the courage to do whatever it is you’ve been afraid to do and have the courage to just be you!!! 

I stand with all women today!  Remember, we are women. Hear us roar!! This is your day!! Its your life!! It’s a woman’s day!!  Take back your life!!!

 https://youtu.be/3_Q79lls1f0

Stay In The Game 8-1-17

Stay in the game”And it came to pass. . . .” — The Bible

We can’t always be sure that things will always work out, but we will always have the strength to make it through. We can trust that eventually both the bad and the good will come to pass.

I’ve had the good ripped away from me and felt sorrow until I could drown. But it passed.

All I’m saying is that sometimes the bad guys win and the good guys lose. Sometimes it’s the other way around. Sometimes nothing that we do seems to swing the decision one way or the other, but we can always come back tomorrow. There’s always another chance to play the game, dance, sweat, and cry. And maybe it’s the experience, not the outcome that is the true prize.

If you’re feeling a loss of strength or confidence, let go of the desperate need for a positive outcome in your life. Realize that this, too, will pass. Gain your strength from knowing that whether an event is good or bad, we’re enriched by our experiences. Only we can choose to learn from them or allow resentment and foolish expectations to destroy their value.

Dust yourself off. Pick yourself up. Step up to the plate and get back in the game.

God, give me the hope, faith, and courage to live my life today. – Author Unknown

Feeling Stronger Everyday 7-27-17

I woke up this morning and as usual went through all of my emails. I follow many bloggers. This morning, one in particular caught my attention. This person was feeling down, depressed and feeling like a failure. She was even thinking death would be better. My heart went out to her. I’ve been there, done that on many occasions.
I posted the following comment. I’m sharing because she responded by telling me thank you. I thought about the many other women out there who might find themselves overwhelmed today. Feeling just like her or even myself many months ago. I’m sharing my comment in the hopes I can inspire someone else today. We all need hope sometimes. We all need a little inspiration. If my crazy life story can inspire a few women today then all the challenges in the world are worth it. Remember, I believe in you. Believe in yourself too!!

“I’ve been where you are on many occasions. I get it. Here’s what I know. You’re not a failure. Most people would’ve thrown in the towel a long time ago but you’re still hanging in there. You my friend are not a failure!!! You’re a warrior and a survivor!!! Remember that! Believe that!! I recall seeing my therapist some time many months ago. I too was feeling like I was better off dead. I was even thinking of ways to end it all however thank the lord I didn’t act on those crazy feelings. I’ll never forget what my therapist said to me. She said “Velma you are one strong lady. You have endured more than most. Despite the challenges you haven’t given up. Do you know what I think?” I replied “what?” She said “you haven’t given up, you haven’t ended it all because you’ll be damned if you give anyone the satisfaction of pushing you to defeat!” Wow! She was so right. I’d like to encourage you today. Don’t give up!! You are a survivor. Do not give anyone or any challenge you are facing the satisfaction of beating you!! You are going to make it!! Tomorrow is another day. I pray that today and all your tomorrows will find you feeling stronger every day!!! My song for you today is a favorite by the band Chicago. “Feeling Stronger Every Day!” That’s your mantra. I believe in you. You can do this.”

For more discussions on Depression visit:

https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/depression/10-depression-quotes-that-may-change-your-life/

https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/depression/how-to-deal-with-depression-tips-techniques-treatment/

https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/depression/

To Be A Goddess by Sarah Harvey 7-25-17


To become a goddess~~It is to become a warrior.

The best warriors are those brave enough to feel it all.

The best warriors are flawed and human and vulnerable as hell. The best warriors know pain, have tasted tears, and kissed darkness a thousand times. The best warriors have fallen to the pits of despair, but will never stay down.

The best warriors—are goddesses.

The ones who have been broken, but dance boldly in the flames of all the sh*t that didn’t work out.

The ones who burst up like a lotus flower—rising valiantly and more beautiful than ever—from the muddiest mud in spite of it all.

The ones who make art from the pain.

The ones who speak out even when we’re shaking.

For we are not just women, we are divinity in the female form.

We are fire. We are progress. We are the death of the old system. We are the breathless vibrance of Spring, the impossible way everything comes back to life.

We are important.

And our voices are meant to be heard.

We are the return to the earth, to magic, to all that is feminine and nurturing and wise.

Don’t think this means we aren’t fierce as hell…

It is exactly our softness that makes us so fierce, so feeling, so brave, so intuitive, so bold and soaked in truth.

We forgive when forgiveness seems impossible.

We choose love, when marinating in hate seems so much easier.

We choose freedom, when the obstacles are so big and crushing that freedom doesn’t even seem possible.

We rise.

We rise from from pain, from abuse, from trauma, from the depths of sorrow.

We rise from the shattered pieces of a life that never suited us.

We rise from pasts that are darker than midnight; we rise from nightmares and the flames of hell.

We shine so brightly, radiant now—because like a moonflower, we were forced to open to light in the darkness.

And we did.

We became the light.

We stand proud and tall and powerful now, unfurling one plush, fiery petal at a time.

We still shake sometimes, and that’s beautiful. But even the fear doesn’t stop us anymore.

We charge forward, words of potent truth leaving our trembling lips.

We soar higher, confident in all that we need to embody and create.
We feel deeper, knowing that we were never, ever meant to play small.

For we are here to serve.

To help. To heal. To be a beacon of dedicated light and set the world on fire.

But all of that beauty has to come from the thing we always circle back to—

To love ourselves.

Not just to say it. But to dive in, and do it. To love our darkness. The wide open, snarling mouth of our pain. To love our curvaceous thighs, our complexity, our sadness, and the ever-evolving poetry of who we are.

Above all else—

To be a goddess

Is to be gentle with ourselves.

To soften those tenacious thorns that lived for, so long, on the inside.

To breathe each breath knowing unquestionably, our worthiness.

Don’t give up when it’s dark, dear sister. And I know you never will.

You’re stronger than they ever knew you were.

Don’t ever stop feeling everything.

Don’t ever stop peeling away the bullsh*t of who the world told you to be, getting closer and closer to the pulsing, juicy core of who you really are.

Hold fast to your truth.

Your voice.

Your knowing.

The potent jewel of soul that swirls inside you.

Let all else fall away.

To become a goddess?

It’s to do the scariest thing in the world—

To be our selves.

And wake up each morning knowing that it is enough.

It was always enough.

It’s magic.

It burns, hot and wild, forever.

excerpt from: https://www.elephantjournal.com/2017/07/become-a-goddess/

I Gotta Try 7-22-17

It’s been three years since being diagnosed with cancer. What a journey it’s been!!  Sometimes I still have to wonder how I’m still standing however, clearly it’s been through the grace of god. Between cancer and all the side effects that came from the treatment to fight this crazy disease, add Cowden Syndrome, Hashimotis, Thyroiditis, lymphodema, neuropathy, a drug induced lupus, fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis, not to mention a crazy ex boyfriend and you’ve got yourself a recipe for disaster. 

My last treatment was May 7, 2015. After my treatment my doctors prescribed a hormone blocker to keep the cancer at bay. Since then, I have gone through three different meds.  All have caused debilitating side effects. 

Recently I began to experience blurry vision. I thought I might have something in my eye so I went to see an optometrist. I was told I had a thick lining behind my cornea as well as many deposits. The doctor suspected Fuchs Dystrophy however Fuchs usually attacks both eyes. I only have one eye that’s being affected. He referred me to a specialist in Seattle. Imagine my dismay after he told me it was possible I would need a cornea transplant. I’ll admit I was overtaken by fear as well as tears that began to roll down my face. I asked “is it cancer?”  The doctor replied “I don’t know”

After my appointment I spoke to a friend on the phone. He said his friend was an optometrist in the Bay Area and would reach out and ask the doctor to call me. I spoke to the doctor that night. I told him all the meds I was on. One of them is tamoxifen. Tamoxifen is a hormone blocker to prevent my type of cancer. My cancer is HER2 positive/ Estrogen positive. Lucky me. The doctor shared one of the side effects from the drug is eye damage. I contacted my oncologist the following day and sure enough. That is one of the side effects. I told the nurse I was going to stop the meds immidiately. This is my third reaction to the wonder drugs I’ve been forced to take to fight this crappy disease. I’ve been on Anastrozole, Letrizole and now Tamoxifen. All have had such negative effects on my body, mind and spirit. I couldn’t believe it when the nurse said “there’s one more drug you can try”. I thought “Are you kidding me?!”  I couldn’t believe she would suggest such a thing. I wanted to jump through the phone and slap her!!

Six months ago I couldn’t walk. I couldn’t open my hands. I was in excruciating pain. I was diagnosed with a drug induced lupus, fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis. I was told that the Letrizole I was on was not only attacking cancer, it was attacking my immune system and body. At that time I wanted to stop all meds but was told doing so could be fatal. It’s my understanding I have an incurable cancer however it’s treatable which is why I’ve endured such an aggressive and continued treatment. I agreed to try tamoxifen. The result, the pain got better but now my vision is impaired. Omg!  This isn’t worth it!

A year ago I joined the John Maxwell Team. I joined because after all the challenges I’ve faced I really wanted to make a difference in the lives of others. I don’t wish what I’ve endured on anyone. The John Maxwell Teams mission is to add value to the lives of others. I knew in my heart that it was a perfect fit for me. My goal in life has always been to be a voice of hope and inspiration for others. I’ve been so sick that other than my blog and Facebook posts, I haven’t been able to accomplish my mission. As I pondered the thought of trying another drug to defeat cancer I had to ask myself “is this worth it?”  My answer “No!!”

I have decided to pursue holistic treatment. I have an appointment on August 9th at the Bastyr Institute in Seattle. One of the best in the nation. I have stopped my meds. The truth is, how can I or anyone accomplish any mission if we’re sick. I want to do great things. I want to live life to the fullest. I want to travel, I want to spend time on the beach but most of all I want to add value to the lives of others. I want to make a difference in this crazy world!

Our current White House has turned into a Cracker Jack Palace inhibited by enough peanuts for a baseball game. There’s a battle about health care. There are people in America fighting cancer and other diseases. There are women being abused, people trying to overcome addictions, depression, anxiety and even PTSD. I am no stranger to all of the above and then some. I want my story to be someone’s  hope. I want my story to help bring change!! After all, I’m still standing. What good is keeping cancer at bay when doing so has caused physical damage and now eye damage. I can’t make a difference.  

I’ve been a warrior all my life. I believe we all have a warrior spirit that lives inside of us. I also believe it’s important for all of us to do our best to do great things, help others and strive to make positive changes in this crazy world. That’s really what life is all about. It’s not about how much money we have, the car we drive or even the home we live in or the clothes we wear. It’s all about making a difference.  You’ve heard the question “What would Jesus do?”  I can tell you Jesus wouldn’t sit back and not lend a helping hand to those in need or to those who are suffering. He wouldn’t sit back and do nothing. 

I’m on my last leg. I know this. I have no idea if holistic treatment will work. I have no idea if my cancer will return but what I do know is I’m not going to just roll over and do nothing. I’m going to do my best to make a difference. I didn’t become a certified member of the John Maxwell Team so I could lay in bed and do nothing because I’m sick!! If I have one year, five years or even ten years left I want to live each and every day feeling strong enough to inspire others to do the same. Maybe if I don’t give up, they won’t either. Will I succeed? I have no idea but in the words of Michael McDonald…..I’ve Gotta Try! 

I Am The Warrior 5-26-17

Dictionary.com defines the word Warrior as follows:

“A person engaged or experienced in warfare; soldier. A person who shows or has shown great vigor, courage, or aggressiveness, as in politics or athletics.”

In my opinion, Velma Perez Dunkin should be listed in the definition.  I am a warrior!  Up until now, I’ve overcome so many challenges in my life. I have taken on those battles and persevered. I haven’t always won however, I’ve always made it to the finish line!  A warrior is a person who shows vigor, courage, determination while persevering through adversities in life. That’s me!! 

I’ve always loved the song “the Warrior” by Scandal. I can certainly resonate to the lyrics when Patty Smyth belts out “shooting at the walls of heartache, bang bang! I am the Warrior”. I’ve experienced heartache more than once in my life. I have the scars to prove it. I am certain I don’t stand alone. There are many of us who face adversity everyday however, as Warriors, we persevere. 

I think the real warriors are those who have been brought to their knees but have managed to pick themselves up. Dictionary.com doesn’t mention the warriors who have battled cancer, overcome addictions, persevered through divorce or custody battles. How about all the single moms out there who sacrifice and fight every day to provide for their children? Being a single mom is hard work. It requires tapping in to that warrior spirit that lives inside all of us. To me, that’s a real warrior. 

I’ve had the privilege of serving those who are homeless. Words can’t describe what they have to endure. It takes a warrior to survive life on the streets!  I remember my friend James in San Francisco. He had been transferred to the Bay Area by his job. Suddenly the economy crashed. He lost everything including a place to call home. He found himself in a shelter. While in that shelter, he was stabbed and spent much time in the hospital recovering from the wounds. When he got out, he found himself living in a tent at a parking lot. His only friend was his chocolate lab.

He finally qualified for housing. However,  he was diagnosed with bone cancer. For those of us who have battled cancer as well as the treatment that goes along with fighting the disease, we can attest that it takes a warrior to persevere. James was a warrior. He fought cancer while living in a tent at a parking lot waiting for housing. That my friends is a warrior!!

There are men, women and children who are being abused every day.  Enduring physical, emotional and/or verbal abuse is tough business. It takes a Warrior to endure!! There are children being bullied at school. People overcoming PTSD, depression and/or anxiety. The list goes on. In my opinion these are real life warriors. It takes courage to persevere and overcome. 

Memorial Day is Monday. We honor all those warriors who have served our country and lost their lives in battle. For me, I not only honor those warriors, but I also honor and respect the warriors who are enduring their own personal battles every day. Life is hard. 

I happened to see a Facebook post one day posted by one of my best friends. She posted “Life Is Like A Box Of Chocolates, You Never Know What You’ll Get”. I pondered that post for several days. After much thought and reflection, I had to disagree. While it’s true, life is similar to a box of chocolates you never know what you’ll get, but we’re talking about a box of chocolate!!! Who cares?! Chocolate is delicious! Who doesn’t love chocolate?! Life….Well it’s not always delicious!! In my opinion life is more like a box of jawbreakers with an occasional box of pop rocks. It’s tough and requires a lot of patience to get to the end while enduring the occasional surprises as well as unexpected explosions along the way. 

I’d like to encourage anyone facing adversity today to put your warrior gear on and keep fighting. Grab your guns and start “shooting at those walls of heartache – bang, bang!”  You’re a Warrior!  I’m a Warrior!!  If Patty Smyth is right the only way those pesky challenges of ours will win is “if they survive….the Warrior!”  That’s you and me! Today remind yourself “I AM the Warrior!! Victory is Mine!”  If you need a little motivation I’m sharing this video with you today as a reminder. I have used this song, among others, throughout the years as inspiration to remind myself “I AM The Warrior”. Face any challenge in front of you  today head on and kick some ass!!! 

Sleeping Angel 1-19-15

I’m not sure where to begin as I write tonight. Today my friend Lola reached out to me from New Jersey. She called and offered me so many words of encouragement and more importantly she encouraged me to use my gift of writing in a positive way. Lola is a woman of God. She is filled with so much love and is a powerful prayer warrior. I’m so grateful to call her my friend. Lola prayed for me and encouraged me to put all my faith in the Lord, trust him and pray, pray, pray. After we hung up I found myself feeling hopeful. I have to admit, the challenges of cancer and my life in general has really brought me to my knees. More often than not, I feel defeated and hopeless.

This afternoon Ron and I had an argument. It was ugly and I felt sick about it. I didn’t have anyone to talk to so I got in my car and drove to St Dominic’s Church. Somehow going to church felt like the right thing to do. St Dominic’s is so beautiful it takes my breath away every time I walk through the door. I always feel a sense of awe when I’m there. At times, I’m in such awe, my eyes begin to fill with tears. It’s such an emotional experience. I lit a candle when I arrived. I got on my knees and prayed. As I talked to God, I found a sense of peace come over me and for the first time I felt as if the Lord had actually heard me. After I prayed, I sat on the pew and just stared at the altar. Finally, I stood up and left.

As I drove home, I found myself feeling peaceful. I wasn’t worried about going home and being greeted by the wrath of Rons volatile behavior. I trusted everything would calm itself and things would work out eventually. I prayed asking God for a small sign that he had heard me, even though I knew in my heart he had. When I got home, Ron was still angry. I opted to stay in peace and trust the Lord would take care of everything. Ron was still behaving irrationally, so rather than allow him to make me feel bad about myself like I usually do, I got my sweats on and went to the gym.

I love to listen to music when I’m at the gym. I have a very extensive playlist on YouTube. Tonight I pulled up my playlist titled “Cancer Bravery”. This list consists of songs that have somehow offered a sense of courage as I’ve fought cancer these past few months. As I went through my list of songs, I noticed a song by Stevie Nicks. I didn’t recognize it and truthfully, I don’t recall ever hearing the song, much less recall how it even made it on my list. I clicked on it and as I listened to the lyrics, the words began to resonate with my own personal struggle to trust in a power higher than myself to work things out for me.

I believe in God, as I refer to him. I believe he exists. Trusting him is another story. I think I’m not alone. I believe many of us are believers, however trusting in something we can’t feel, hear or touch can prove to be a difficult task. As I listened to the lyrics of this song, I knew in my heart God had heard me tonight. The lyrics describe my thoughts and feelings that have prevented me from letting go and trusting things would work out according to Gods plan, on his time and not my own. I’m continually on this roller coaster of “trying to believe you. I’m learning all the time”. Like the song, I know I need God in my life because without him I wouldn’t be able to breathe. However, I have this “love affair” with the him that’s as dysfunctional as my current and past relationships with all the men in my life. At times my relationship is up, while other times are down. I want to believe that God loves me. I want to believe he has a plan for good, but it’s hard.

Earlier this morning, my friend suggested I write a letter to God expressing how I feel. I couldn’t express my feelings better than the lyrics from this song so here it is….my letter to God.

Dear God (as I call him)

Take me if you need me, but never hold me down. You’re asking me to trust you, well there’s little of that around. I’m trying to believe you. And I’m learning all the time. Two-part personality, the flower and the vine.

Take me, sleeping angel. Catch me, when you can. Real love affairs are heavy spells, for a woman and a man.

I need you because you let me breathe, well you’ve taken me away. But never take me lightly, or I can never stay.

Someday, when we’re older and my hair is silver grey. Unbraid with all of the love that you have, like a soft silver chain.

Take me sleeping angel, catch me when you can. And unbraid with all of the love that you have, like a soft silver chain.

I’m a work in progress, Lord God, but I pray that you won’t give up on me yet. I’m a work in progress but I’m ready and willing to give you my best shot. Thank you God for believing in me and thank you for never giving up on me even on the days, I’ve given up on you.

Love always,

Velma