Archive | January, 2012

Day 31: the fear of dying and a reason to live

31 Jan

I understood the fear of dying for the first time in 7th grade.
In the middle of quiet reading time.

For some reason, I picked the book A Summer To Die by Lois Lowry as my quiet time reading choice.  As I read and wept in the uncomfortably silent reading room, trying to hide the tears streaming down my face, I realized for the first time that anybody could die — not just old people.

The fear of dying is still inside me, even on the other side of cancer and many major life scares.  Although the more I learn about my soul, the more open I am to reality of what death means and what a life well lived means.

And, today, I read this beautiful tribute to an unquestionably well lived life — David Simon.  You can watch the video from The Chopra Center below.

What touched me most, was this beautiful poem that David loved:

The Sun Never Says

Even
after
all this time
the sun never says to the earth,
“You owe me.”
Look
what happens
with a love like that —
It lights the whole world.

Indeed…

Here’s to a life that lit the world.

Remembering David Simon from Chopra Center on Vimeo.

Day 30: lovemore mondays :: dog food

30 Jan

As you know, I entered this year determined to be fearless. But, I don’t want more fear or less in my life.  I want more love.  So I made up a new word, lovemore!   That’s why Lovemore Mondays are here.

Last week I shared a love story about Words.

Today’s Lovemore Monday is a love story about Dog Food.

As in, feeding the soul.

My first dog, Pepper, followed me everywhere I went.

After I stayed up too late watching Godzilla on television with my older cousins, my parents came up with a grand master plan to calm my freaked out young child nerves — they sent in the dog.

From that night on, Pepper slept on my bed until old age took all the leap from his legs.  When he could no longer make the jump to my bed, I crawled my teenage body down to the floor to snuggle with him instead.

When Pepper died, I was heartbroken.
I missed my shadow.

I begged for another dog.  My parents refused.  According to their thinking, I was too close to college age and once I flew, the nest would empty.

I wanted another dog, they didn’t.
As it turned out, I would be the one to get my way.

My begging was half-comical, the other half high-pitched-whiny serious.  It began with,  “I want a puppy!” proceeded to, “Why not?” and ended with my parents conversation stopper of all time “Because.”

Then, everything changed.
At seventeen, I was diagnosed with cancer.  One month later, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Through the terror and turbulence of treatments, hospital stays, needles, never ending hair loss and uncontrollable vomit, I could always lighten the mood in the room by saying those magic words.

“I have cancer and … I. Want. A. Puppy.”
Sometimes I would change it around to:
“Can I have a puppy?  You know I have cancer…”

It always made my Mom laugh.  It became an ongoing joke.  And, it seemed like such a small request against the health care hurdle we were climbing.

So, on my eighteenth birthday, a big fluffy dog named Balou came into my life.

Balou was a gift.
She was a birthday present from Justin, as a tiny little fur ball of a puppy just as I finished radiation treatment  — and a short eight months before I left for college.

My mother once told me that when Balou came into my life, my sparkle came back.  After all the treatments, all the terror, all the unknown, she told me, “that dog brought back your smile” and she swore Balou took on my personality.

In a roundabout unexpected way, I got my way.
And, my parents inherited a dog.

Once I left for college, that dog never left my mother’s side. When I couldn’t be there, Balou was.  When I couldn’t hug my mamma, my dog did.  She was with her everyday that I couldn’t be, even on the day my mother passed away.

In a way, I think dogs are like guardian angels — with paws instead of wings.

While I sit here typing this post with our beloved Pup next to my side, I know somewhere, up there, is a Pepper and Balou watching over me.  Maybe their spirits are just in my heart, and that’s okay…

Because dogs are food for the soul.

That is why, when it comes to dog food…
I. Love. It.

Day 29: may the force be with you

29 Jan

I am back from vacation, not quite back to reality and glued to the television.  Pup and I are watching Oprah’s Next Chapter with George Lucas.  (Well, Pup is snoring, I am watching.)

I love seeing the genius behind the vision, the visionary behind the creative genius.

More than anything, I am moved by this simple statement from Mr. Lucas on his own brand of success:

Don’t listen to your peers. 

Don’t listen to your parents. 

Don’t listen to your culture. 

Only listen to yourself.

So simple.
In all my readings, research and experience so far, it seems all gurus point in the same direction  — within.

Listen to yourself.
All I can think in my own head, to myself, right now, is:

May the force be with you.

Day 28: hard to say goodbye

28 Jan

I’m sitting in the renovated Nassau airport, surrounded by beautiful sculptures, conch shell jewelry, and tourists waiting for their plane to go home.

And a crying baby.
I want to cry too.

Because it’s so hard to leave the land of vacation.  Maybe this little baby next to me is upset that his vacation is ending.  I suppose my fellow passengers wouldn’t be as understanding if I went into airport hysterics.

After swimming in the turquoise blue water, soaking in the sun, and overcoming my fear of deep ocean water by swimming with the inhabitants of coral reefs (and with sharks, no less!), I feel like a new woman returning home.

It also feels like I’m leaving a little bit of my soul behind in the beautiful blue water.

And, it’s hard to say goodbye.

You’d think it would be easy, shedding this part of me that lives in fear.  You’d think I would welcome with open arms the chance to change.  But, I’m realizing, it’s not easy to give up the fear I have worn in the past because it feels so comfortable against my skin.

But, I’m ready.
I’m ready to say goodbye to that part of me.
And, it feels a little scary.

Actually, it feels a bit like this bird I caught on camera taking a leap off the end of the dock. Who know’s what’s out there?

But I know in my heart, this journey with more love and less fear is preparing for takeoff.  And, it’s time to fly.

Day 27: f*ing friday :: fish (as in sharks)

27 Jan

TGIF.
F*ing Fridays are back!
And, they will continue to occur on Friday. I mentioned some of my favorite F words back on Day 5 in Year 1, including: Fearless, Fabulous, Fine, Fun, Faith, Freedom, Forgiveness, to name a Few.

Last week I dove into the word Figure.

Today’s F*ing Friday is dedicated to the word:
Fish.

As in, sharks.

Today was the first official fear breakthrough of the year.
I swam with sharks.

Well, I swam above sharks, with a well behaved crew of tourists.  Who knows, maybe the sharks are trained circus sharks, pretending to be real ones performing a show for us in the Bahamas.  But, I don’t think so, they were big.  They were real.

Doesn’t matter.
I got in the water, and that was a big act of fearlessness (lovemoreness!) on my part.

It was incredible.
And I almost missed it.

Just as the captain began explaining the rules of swimming with sharks (hold on to the rope, don’t move your arms in a big motion, only stay in the water for a short amount of time) I almost gave up before I got in.

Just as I started taking my flippers off, Justin coaxed me into the water.  I begged the captain to let me be the last one in the water so I could be the first one out of the water — and it worked.

That’s all I needed to relax, find a place of control and move past the fear.  Just because I knew that nothing stood between me and getting out, it enabled me to take a leap and jump in.

So, today, I swam with the beautiful fish of these crystal clear waters.  I swam around a coral reef, I fed turquoise, purple and bright yellow tropical fish out of my hands.

And, today, I also swam with f*ing sharks.

I have to admit, I feel more free and more alive…
But, I’m glad I’m out of the water!

Day 26: birthday in the bahamas

26 Jan

Today was beautiful, and a wonderful birthday!
Thank you to everyone who sent well wishes.

And, since I have a very short window of time to share tonight with a cranky internet connection, here are my favorite photos from the day.  There was so much to love!

Tomorrow, we swim (snorkel) with sharks.
Seriously.

Well, I’m not sure if I will get in the water, yet, but I’ll be on the boat.
Either way it’s a big leap in the right direction to get over my fears.  We’ll see…

xo ~Jamie

Day 25: bahama breeze

25 Jan

We are officially on island time and everything is a breeze here in Nassau (except for this slow internet connection, so this one is gonna be short and sweet!).

It’s not every Wednesday that I spend my afternoon sipping out of a “HAVE FUN” coconut shell with my beach towel.

And, it’s a good reminder as I soak in this celebration-vacation, that not every day is like this one.  Because celebrations are worth waiting for — and it was certainly worth 365 days of keeping my promise to get here!

What do you want to celebrate a year from now?

Love from the Bahamas,
xo~Jamie

Day 24: pop goes the birthday!

24 Jan

I love birthdays.  Problem is, I forget birthdays.  
I’m sure I would forget my own if I didn’t have such wonderful people in my life to help me celebrate.

And, it is, in fact, birthday week around here (the official day is Thursday).  That means …our bags are packed for the Bahamas!  We leave in the morning!

Justin surprised me with this little trip as a way to help celebrate my birthday, and to celebrate everything that happened with The Promise 365 last year.

I love celebrations, marking time, reflecting and honoring where we have been.

And, tonight, my first birthday gift, the first marker of this 38th birth year, came in with a POP!   Debbie and Rob gave me a fun send-off with a surprise gift just after our Women on Fire Live Chat ended.

First, there was this beautifully wrapped box.
(With a bow that Debbie’s big, white, fluffy cat Wilbur loved more than anything!)

Then, I opened up a huge, rolled up scroll of paper that was protected with bubble wrap.

And, finally, I realized that THIS wasn’t your average bubble wrap …it is the BUBBLE WRAP CALENDAR! — the one I found online and pined for earlier in the month.  I was so surprised, you can see the photo is blurry from my utter excitement.

So for the rest of 2012, as each day goes by, I will POP it off my calendar.  What fun.  How special.  I. Love. It.  (you can watch a video of how it works here)

And, I love the people in my life who remember my birthday.  What a beautiful act of love, to just say, “hey, happy birthday, glad you’re on the planet.”

So it is, with this popping calendar, I finally had a POP! go off in my mind.
I love birthdays.  I love the people in my life.
Why don’t I remember their birthdays?

So, that is exactly the birthday promise I vow to make, as I blow out the candles on this 38th birthday week celebration.  There is no reason to forget a special birthday, especially with Facebook reminders and technology all around  …and now, this fun, popping calendar!

So, if I don’t already have it, send me your birthday.
We’ll celebrate and make it go Pop!

You can watch the popping video below or at this link.

Day 23: introducing lovemore mondays!

23 Jan

Today welcomes the very first installment of a new series:
Lovemore Mondays!

As you know, I entered this year determined to be fearless.  Easier said than done.

And, that is precisely the problem.
Every time I say the word fearless, the more I don’t want anything to do with it.  I don’t want to focus on FEAR or come from a place of LESS in my life, and I certainly don’t want either to dictate how I approach this year.

So, after searching for a new, better, more descriptive word, to no avail,  I’m making up a new one (and, really, who cares if the dictionary doesn’t agree?).

The new word is:  Lovemore

Lovemore. Lovemore!  Lovemore!!!

I’m getting used to the sound of it.
And, I kind of like the way it rolls off my tongue.

Because I want to find LOVE in everything I do and to add MORE of the things I cherish to my life.

So, while this year will hopefully help me get over some pesky fears (like spiders and failure and conflict) it’s not where I want to hang my hat.

I will hang my hat on lovemore instead.
Every Monday will now be a Lovemore Monday where I share a story about LOVE.  And, I can’t think of a better way to start off the week than with a little more of that powerful ingredient.

Today’s love story is about words.
Because words are medicine.  Words are powerful.  Words are how we begin to build our dreams.

That’s why I love the new word lovemore.

Just making up a simple new word felt thrilling, and a little like that endorphin rush of falling in love all over again.  In fact, it felt almost like I was in control of my life, my decisions, my time and my path.

Oh, wait …I am.  We are.

And, that’s why…
I. Love. It.

Day 22: it’s your lucky year

22 Jan

Tomorrow begins the Year of The Dragon and the Chinese New Year.  There will be much celebration.  Tomorrow also marks Blue Monday, supposedly the most depressing day of the year.

One stands for luck.
The other represents a moody, depressed, hide-in-bed-with-covers-over-your-head kind of existence.

How can these two diabolically opposed ideas be the same day?
I suppose it depends on if you see the glass (or rather — the day) as half-full or half-empty.

Maybe it depends on what side of the field you sit.

Today, everyone in my household was focused on luck, huddled around the television watching men in tights run an odd-shaped ball up and down a 100-yard field.   Luck was top of mind (actually PRAYING was top of mind) as the New England Patriots barely pulled out a win and landed a place in Super Bowl XLVI.

But, it was close. They almost lost, many, many times.

And that got me thinking…
What would happen if we always focused on the lucky side of the equation?  When we win.  And, when we lose.

Isn’t that, indeed, love?

Wherever you sit on the field tonight, I wish you a Blue Monday full of roses.
And, I wish you a Year of The Dragon full of luck.

As they say in Mandarin: 
Gong Xi Fa Ca!
  — “wishing you prosperity”

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