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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

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


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 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 364: the wrap up part 4 :: soul

30 Dec

F*ing Friday is postponed until tomorrow …you’ll soon find out why.

Today we are continuing the wrap up of 2011.

So much has changed in my world, in this year, that I am dedicating a full day to each of my promises: head, heart, body and soul.

Because if I have learned anything this year, it is this: the magic is in reflection.

Part 4:  soul

This whole soul thing has taken me a while to figure out.  On Day 184, smack dab in the middle of the year, I contemplated my depth and understanding of the soul.

I was confused to say the least.
And then something happened.

As the days went on I began to understand my soul like never before.  As if I could feel it, as if this whole cosmic universe finally made sense.

It took a little more than a two 21-day meditation challenges.  And, it didn’t hurt that a few masseuses seem to have more spiritual insight into my life than I ever could imagine.

But, in the end, I found a place deep inside myself I always knew was there, something I felt even as a young child — a connection to spirit, to source, to light, to what-have-you.

As I’ve said before, I suppose it’s no surprise that I started off this year first taking care of my body with food and exercise and then my head with books and research and meditation.  With each day my heart opened and then finally, as if it took all three components to work together as a key, something turned inside me, as if my soul was unlocked.

It has brought me many gifts, including bringing me closer to the spirit of my mother, to the souls of my ancestors, to the light in my own life.

On many days, it has even brought me to tears.

Today, on the eve of Day 365, it brings me great happiness to know this year may be over but my promise will never end.

Because nothing ends.
We all go on.

See you tomorrow.

Day 355: when serendipity has other plans

21 Dec

(Submitted at Gate 23 Houston airport via iPad. Not a small feat. Will post photo tomorrow when I have real computer access.)

We just arrived in Houston on our way to Seattle. We arrived at Gate E3 and our next flight leaves out of Gate E2. Justin and I both looked at each other thinking of serendipity and said “That NEVER happens!”

Turns out it doesn’t.

After eating a sit down dinner (including alligator bites) we arrived at our gate only to find a plane headed to Mexico. Gate change. Off to Gate C23.
On our way to C23, in the middle of the airport hustle and bustle we heard a joyous cry and stopped in our tracks. It was Kim and Dave Justin’s cousins! There we all were heading to different gates amongst gate changes and holiday travel taking us to different parts of the country. As if we were supposed to meet in the middle. As if serendipity wanted to say happy holidays.

Day 354: are you making a commitment for 2012?

20 Dec

I woke up this morning to walk along the beach and see the sunrise over the Gulf of Mexico.

What woke me up at this early hour? I had a commitment to meet Debbie on the beach to film a portion of our year-end video.

It was so beautiful and serene I wondered, why don’t I do this more often?

The answer is pretty simple of course.  I don’t always have a reason to go, a person to meet, an appointment, a commitment to keep.

And, that is the secret sauce, isn’t it?  Commitment.

Whether it be working out, eating better, taking a break, or taking care of ourselves, sometimes all we need is a little commitment to push us over the “think about it” line and into the “just do it” arena.

Which kind of sums up my year.

With eleven days left (eleven days!!) I can hardly believe this year is almost over.  But, in my heart, I know the work has just begun.  Taking care of my head, heart, body and soul is really a life-long commitment.

It’s easy when the pressure is on, but how will it be when I take this public promise private?

It’s a good question.

That’s why I am officially re-upping The Promise 365 for 2012.  The rules will be different and my promise will change (which I will share with you soon!).

But, here’s what I love best — you can join me.

So, what do you want to do in 2012…
Eat better, do less, laugh more, watch the sunrise?

It’s a good question.

Day 353: steel and sunshine

19 Dec

Christmas came early today.
As I finished up work this afternoon with Debbie and Rob they handed me two beautifully wrapped gifts.


As I tore off the wrapping paper and broke into the cardboard box I grinned from ear to ear.  A new mug! I need a new mug!  I broke my prized mug just a few weeks ago and I need a new mug!

The mug was inscribed with the word “Sunshine” on a bright red background. “What a great wake-up-to-the-day mug,” I thought. “Especially since I’m drinking hot water these days and no more coffee.”

Then I opened the next box.  It was another mug and upon it was a word that brought tears to my eyes.

To understand why I have to take you back in time.  To a woman who just a few years ago was a shattered soul.  (If you’ve already heard this story, well, tough, I’m going to tell you again.)

My life crumbled in a big smelly heap of goo in just a matter of months.  I lost my husband, job, worldly possessions and home in a matter of six months. Just. Like. That.

It was crushing.
I woke up one day and found myself crushed.  Me.  The over achiever, the do everything, strive to no end, make it happen captain, was slapped with a crushing reality — I was literally lost and didn’t know how it happened.

I had lost so many things before, my mortality to teenage cancer, and my mother’s life to breast cancer, but this time was different — this one left me broken.

Through it all my friends raised my spirits and chipped in to help mend my chipped soul. They saved me in so many ways. And, then, one day my dear friend Jenn sent me a note that changed everything.

She said, I know you will get through this because you are made of “steel and sunshine.”

And it was on that day that I realized words are medicine.

Jenn gave me something to hang on to, a vision I could hold in my heart.  I knew deep down inside I needed to be strong but I longed for the light at the end of the tunnel.

There’s something so terrifying about not knowing how long the tunnel will be, wondering how much further you must go before reaching that light.

But, in the most simple and powerful way, her words allowed me to believe in myself again. It was a reminder that I had what I needed to shine my own light.  To find my own strength again.

And what a journey it has been.
What I didn’t know then, but do know now, is just how bright that light could shine once I reached the other side.

And, that I was never alone.  We never really are alone.

Even in the depths of sorrow, the darkness of pain, I had friends and angels, and loving spirits who were with me all along — holding my hand and my heart, feeding my body and my soul.

On the other side, I am much wiser, stronger, forgiving and loving than ever before.

And, now my cup runneth over, with two cups to drink from.
One of steel and one of sunshine.  

That’s a dose of sweet medicine if you ask me.

Day 349: how to hypnotize your children with elves and love

15 Dec

I watched a little bit of The Soup tonight. During which they showed a clip of the Today Show where that sneaky Elf on the Shelf made a surprise appearance.

‘Tis the season.
For elves and sleigh rides and children’s laughter. That’s the magical part really — children’s laughter — and why I love Christmas.

It’s just not Christmas without children.  Last year at this time we holed up in our Florida apartment and pretended to celebrate the holidays.  But, the magic of Christmas never really settled in without family around.

Not this year!  We leave for Seattle next week and plan for a little elfing foolery ourselves. Just where can we hide that Elf on the Shelf from Justin’s little nieces?  We have some ideas and plans up our sleeves.

He’s quite mesmerizing isn’t he, that elf?
Turns out adults are too.

Last week during my conference excursion I learned a few surprising details about children from Bruce Lipton.

Dr. Lipton showed how the brain waves of children are in the “theta” state or programmable mode during the first six years of life.  They are literally recording their parents every action and environment around them, learning the nuances and rules of their community.

Then Norm Shealy shared the top causes of adult death in our country:

  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Medical complications
  • Depression
  • Inactivity
  • Alcohol and drug abuse
  • Carelessness

All but one of these (medical complications) stems from poor self esteem, which begins in the first six years of life.

And, then he showed the list of top diseases proposing they are all related to poor self esteem (depression addiction, schizophrenia, autism, ADHD, OCD, and obesity).

As I sat in the audience one theme seemed to become clear: LOVE.

If adult diseases actually begin in the first six years of life, and, the first six years of life are just a programming period, a hypnotic state, then isn’t loving and nurturing children everywhere an absolute adult necessity — for all of our heads, hearts, bodies and souls?

No matter where you come down on the research, it’s something to ponder as we dive into this holiday home stretch.

Children’s laughter is indeed what makes my Christmas merry and bright, but I suppose it’s our best interest to make the magic of the season last all year long. Kind of nice to know it doesn’t come in a pill or a bottle or a prescription. It’s as simple as hypnotizing our families with nurturing care and love.

To you and yours, and good health too.

Day 348: self care at home — think out of the box

14 Dec

A box arrived in the mail today.
And, I had to ask myself just why is opening a box so much fun?

I think boxes are connected to some primordial reflex, as if some reptilian brain chemical reaction happens when out of the corners of our eyes we spy a cardboard BOX.

So much so, as a child on Christmas morning, boxes would end up being a let down.  Pretty wrapping paper would get my daydream chemicals all a whirl.  Is it a Barbie Dream House…  A 150 Piece Art Set…  A Puppy?

And then I would open the box to find something else — socks.

Actually, these days, I would get pretty excited to open a box of socks, 348 days into this promise!

So it was today that I received a box, not of socks, but inside, there were so many goodies to grab!

It’s from Influenster and it’s called a VoxBox.
It arrived in perfect time.

Computer difficulties left me stranded on technology island this afternoon.  Before I had a complete meltdown, I remembered something else… yoga.

So while my computer backed-up I decided to rewire my brain with a little yoga routine.

Even after my rendezvous with a DVD of yoga my computer was still cranking at Pre-Neolithic speed.  (Remind me again… just what is there to do in life without a computer?)

But, then, my VOXBOX arrived.

And, while there were some items I will never use (yes, pink, leopard print paste on nails, I’m talking to you) there was one thing that fit exactly what I was looking for …a mask.

A cucumber masque, rather.

I even convinced Justin to relinquish some of the cucumbers he was cutting up for dinner in order to accomodate my spa routine.


Here’s a few tips you might find useful while engaging in self-care at home.

1. Don’t wait for your computer to crash. 

2. Dogs like to eat things.
So, maybe don’t let the dog sleep next to you as you relax and unwind ~ especially if you have cucumbers on your eyes.

Day 347: what will you give up?

13 Dec

It’s hard to believe that time has us all looking into the final days of 2011 and soon the beginning of the New Year.  It’s also hard to believe 347 days have gone by here at The Promise 365.

It seems everything is wrapping up these days.

In fact, tonight, I even watched the season finale of The Biggest Loser.

And, while I love the emotional roller coaster of that fairytale weight loss show where dreams come true on TV, I can’t help but think about that word: loser.

What does it mean to win at losing?  
Or lose to win?

Last week I learned something surprising from Nan Lu, a doctor of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM).  He believes that every successful diet book must have a villain — sometimes it’s carbs, or calories, or sugar or meat or a combination of foods, choosing the right ones and avoiding the bad ones.  But there is always a story of diet drama in deciding what to lose.

In his practice he avoids the term “losing weight” because it implies exactly that — you have lost something.  And, he points out that when we lose something we try to get it back.

Instead of “losing” Nan Lu encourages patients to “give up” their extra weight.

It makes me think of everything I have given up this year.
Shopping. New Clothes. New Shoes. Excess sugar. Caffeine.

And, in the process of giving up some habits that didn’t serve me well, I have made space for other activities, like: beginning to cook, writing, meditating, yoga, reading, breathing deeper and loving more.

Through all of this, I have also found a powerful magic inside myself which gives me the strength to give up something I never really knew I had — fear.

It’s amazing what can happen when you give up — there is no losing.
But, I guess, that shouldn’t surprise me, because I believe we can do anything for a year.

So, what will you give up in 2012? 

While you think that over, please know I will still be here in many ways.  In fact, I am developing my own promise for next year, and so happy to share that I will lead a virtual coaching group to help others who want to see their own promises followed through.

More on that soon… until then, sweet dreams for a New Year.


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