Monday, September 29, 2014

Getting to Yes Through the Power of No

"The big question is whether you are going to be able to say a hearty yes to your adventure." Joseph Campbell
Over at my other blog, WhereWeGoNow, I write a lot about how breast cancer's kick in the rear taught me to say "Yes" to my adventure. In fact, "Say Yes to Yourself" is one of the 10 simple secrets to creating inspired healing, wellness and your joyous life after cancer that I wrote about in How to Build an Amazing Life After Treatment.
I found it deeply spiritual and, ultimately, about the power of bringing "a blissful Yes into your life, one that opens the door to opportunities, abundance, and love."
Written by James and Claudia Azula Altucher, The Power of No is a riff on The Power of Now, written by Eckhart Tolle, which I also discovered after my cancer diagnosis. Just as Tolle introduced me to the concept of mindfulness, so the Altuchers introduce us to the power of No to clear away what isn't working to make room in your life for what does. 
The conversational style of the book (James and Claudia take turns sharing personal anecdotes) teaches by example. These are people who have been in the trenches with stories to tell. They've made big mistakes in business and love and have found themselves "on the floor." They've faced self-destructive behavior (physical and emotional,) stress, mindless chatter, angers of the past, self-sabotage, being stuck, phony storytelling, scarcity, "bad luck" and hanging on to people who weren't good for them .
After decades of failure, each of the authors claimed the right to say No and stepped into greater health, abundance and happiness. 
I recommend this book to anyone going through a life transition or healing journey. We all get stuck sometimes and it always helps to connect with others who have been where you are now. It also helps that each chapter offers concrete exercises to guide the reader to sit, reflect and do the work necessary to unleash the power of No and, ultimately, to find your Yes.
FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from Hay House Publishing for this review. The opinion in this review is unbiased and reflects my honest judgment of the product.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Act with Kindness, Because You Never Know

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. Philo

Giving back gives me joy. It also heals what ails you. That's why I spend time working as a patient educator with the Pathways Women's Cancer Teaching Project.

The other morning, I spent some time talking with four young women in the physician assistant program at Seton Hall University. I was there to give them the truth (mine) about what it is like to be a cancer patient.

As a patient educator I've met with hundreds of young residents, and medical, nursing and chaplain students. During our sessions, we are interviewed and participants are encouraged to ask us anything and everything about our experience. In this way, we expose them to the patient as a whole person with a family, job, fears and emotions. We've been told by many participants that meeting with us has entirely changed their practice for the better.

Three of the women I spoke with were engaged and asked numerous questions. The fourth was extremely quiet and sat twirling her hair. She appeared to be listening, but wouldn't participate, even when I asked her directly if she had any questions.

After our session with the PA students, the patient educators got together. When it was my turn to talk about my session, I mentioned the young woman twirling her hair. I said I initially thought she wasn't engaged, but a moment of eye contact led me to believe she might have been dealing with a cancer story of her own.   

We looked at her feedback form and, sure enough, she had written that a member of her family had breast cancer and she just couldn't talk about it in the group.

How did I know? Something in her eyes sparked a split second of recognition. How many times had I gone out into the world, trying to function normally, when deep down inside I was carrying the red hot ember of cancer worry? What about that time I struggled to hold it together as the tech said amazingly ignorant things to me during my first mammogram after my mastectomy?

And it's not just cancer pain we push down where we think no one can see. One of the most painful experiences of my life happened over 20 years ago when I was a practicing attorney. I was in another attorney's office for a scheduled deposition of his client, a child. My job was to ask questions about the child's accident, but the attorney came out and told me his client wanted to leave early. When I said I would try to be quick, but I had a job to do, he asked me if I had children. When I answered that I didn't he dismissed me with, "Oh, that's why you don't understand."

What he didn't understand was that I am the oldest of nine children, so I certainly get kids. He also didn't understand that I had lost two pregnancies and was battling infertility. As much as his carelessly cruel comment hurt me, I held in my pain and trudged through the deposition.

None of us has to come clean and share anything we don't want to share. We have a right to our privacy and our dignity (there's nothing worse than losing it with people you don't trust to handle it.)

Sometimes it's easy to know when a person needs your kindness. And sometimes it isn't. 

But it shouldn't matter.

Part of being human is to experience sorrow, fear, grief and pain.

To be an evolved human is to know it's not just you and to act accordingly, with kindness.

Because you never know. 


Image courtesy of Jennifer

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Friday, September 5, 2014

Bringing Life to the Joy of Books

When it comes to creating live out loud joy, sometimes it takes just a little bit of awareness. Like asking yourself why you can't remember the last time you read a book for enjoyment. I mean, come on! I was an English major in college - I was reading all the time before life got in the way.

So hooray for books - the ones you hold in your hands and read and love! I also love this amazing stop-motion animation by Sean Ohlenkamp. Let me know if you agree with the statement at the end of this short and immensely delightful video.



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