Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Christmas 2011 - Birth of a New American Christmas Tradition

This has been circulating emails, and I have no idea where it originated, but I think it's a great idea for boosting our economy this holiday season!

As the holidays approach, the giant Asian factories are kicking into high gear to provide Americans with monstrous piles of cheaply produced goods - merchandise that has been produced at the expense of American labor. This year will be different. This year Americans will give the gift of genuine concern for other Americans. There is no longer an excuse that, at gift giving time, nothing can be found that is produced by American hands. Yes there is!

It's time to think outside the box, people. Who says a gift needs to fit in a shirt box, wrapped in Chinese produced wrapping paper?

EVERYONE gets their hair cut. How about gift certificates from your local American hair salon or barber?

Gym membership? It's appropriate for all ages who are thinking about some health improvement.

Who wouldn't appreciate getting their car detailed? Small, American owned detail shops and car washes would love to sell you a gift certificate or a book of gift certificates.

Are you one of those extravagant givers who think nothing of plunking down the Benjamins on a Chinese made flat-screen? Perhaps that grateful gift receiver would like his driveway sealed, or lawn mowed for the summer, or driveway plowed all winter, or games at the local golf course.

There are a bazillion owner-run restaurants - all offering gift certificates. And, if your intended isn't the fancy eatery sort, what about a half dozen breakfasts at the local breakfast joint. Remember, folks this isn't about big National chains - this is about supporting your home town Americans with their financial lives on the line to keep their doors open.

How many people couldn't use an oil change for their car, truck or motorcycle, done at a shop run by the American working guy?

Thinking about a heartfelt gift for mom? Mom would LOVE the services of a local cleaning lady for a day.

My computer could use a tune-up, and I KNOW I can find some young guy who is struggling to get his repair business up and running.

OK, you were looking for something more personal. Local crafts people spin their own wool and knit them into scarves. They make jewelry, and pottery and beautiful wooden boxes.

Plan your holiday outings at local, owner operated restaurants and leave your server a nice tip. And, how about going out to see a play or ballet at your hometown theater.

Musicians need love too, so find a venue showcasing local bands.

Honestly, people, do you REALLY need to buy another ten thousand Chinese lights for the house? When you buy a five dollar string of light, about fifty cents stays in the community. If you have those kinds of bucks to burn, leave the mailman, trash guy or babysitter a nice BIG tip.

You see, Christmas is no longer about draining American pockets so that China can build another glittering city. Christmas is now about caring about US, encouraging American small businesses to keep plugging away to follow their dreams. And, when we care about other Americans, we care about our communities, and the benefits come back to us in ways we couldn't imagine.

THIS is the new American Christmas tradition.

Forward this to everyone on your mailing list - post it to discussion groups - throw up a post on Craigslist in the Rants and Raves section in your city - send it to the editor of your local paper and radio stations,
and TV news departments.

This is a revolution of caring about each other,

and isn't that what Christmas is about?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Cancer Survivor - for Today

As we sweep away the final remnants of pink that have come to symbolize October, I realize that I am 3 years past my chemo treatment that started October 16, 2008. I'm still here - that makes me a "survivor" - but what does that mean?

I don’t know why some of us survive and others do not, no matter how fiercely they may fight. There are those that face devastating battles, which leaves me feeling I am in no position to complain. My case was merely a case of sniffles in comparison.

To be a cancer survivor means I have been blessed with another day. It doesn’t mean I’m safer than anyone else. It doesn’t mean the risk is over. It doesn’t mean another cancer can’t attack at any moment.

I am angry that I “did everything right” and got cancer anyways, but that doesn’t minimize my appreciation of the endless miracles in my life.

Being a survivor does mean I have a greater respect for life. I was given a second chance, and I am grateful for that with every breath. And I educate – even nag – others to trust their body, recognize when something is not quite right, don’t delay testing and get screened regularly because we don’t really know who is at risk or why.

There is a lovely line from a short prayer that asks, “May the stream of my life flow into the river of eternal love.” I don't remember where I first found it, but it touched me so deeply that it forever surpassed the multitude of prayers I was forced to memorize in school.

It reminds me that moments of our life are like the infinite droplets in a stream, mostly unnoticed as they rush toward the river of experience that is our life. But every now and then we are splashed with a moment that becomes an indelible memory, part of the story that ultimately defines us.

When cancer flooded my life, it was not without significant splashing moments.

The moment in 2005 when I found “a lump.” The tiny, hard kind you read about in all the “how to do a breast self exam” flyers.

The kind you hope you’ll never find.

The moment when realized I was not separate from the women around me, uniformed in our blue exam gowns as we sat in the radiology waiting room, trying to pretend it was just a routine office visit. United by the fear that our bodies may have turned against us, we waited.

I wondered which of us would remember that day as “The Day I Found Out…”

The moment when my tests came back clear – when they said it was simply scar tissue.

I felt released, relieved and invincible.

And three years later, after a routine mammogram, when the nurse brought me to a consult room, where I waited in the eerie glow of light boxes and diagnostic equipment.

The doctor entered with a warm smile, sleek black hair, and looked much too young to be giving me advice. He said it still looked like scar tissue, but had changed a little and I might want to consider a biopsy.

I was afraid a needle biopsy would hurt and I wanted to stop worrying about the lump. Put me to sleep, take out the whole damn thing. Let’s be done with it.

I remember a groggy post-op grin to my smiling surgeon who said everything went great, see you in 2 weeks. At the follow up appointment I actually asked him to cut to the chase because I was late for work. Exam, smiles, it was healing beautifully. Yeah, yeah, let me out of here.

No one suspected cancer, none of the tests hinted at malignancy. I had no family history of breast cancer. My family’s life expectancy is 100. I had a healthy lifestyle and a positive attitude.

No cancer for me. Can I go now?

He looked down at my file. “Well, it’s cancer.”

The stream of my life roared over me like a tsunami. He patiently delivered his speech on the early diagnosis, favorable prognosis and treatment options.

All that tumbled around my mind was, “blah blah blah it’s cancer am I going to die? Will I lose my hair? Who will see my patients? How will I pay my overhead?"

I remember the look on my husband’s face that night when I told him, his silence through my chattering about the "early diagnosis and good prognosis."

I had to keep talking to break through that “blah blah blah it’s cancer are you going to die?" I wanted to protect him and everyone I loved from any pain or fear.

To hear the words, “It’s breast cancer” (or any other life-threatening diagnosis) transforms your life. Until that moment, there is no way to even guess how you would respond.

You only know will have no choice but to pack for your journey into the unknown, armed with love and support. And be confident that your guides will appear with the answers whenever you have a need.

Life through breast cancer was surreal. Every day presented a new challenge as my body shed one thing or another or erupted with an unexpected symptom.

Yet I’d look up and appreciate the sky, with gratitude for the day. I’d more deeply love the people around me. It was painfully clear that I darn well better, because none of us know how long we have to enjoy this life.

I discovered solace in my garden, and metaphorical wisdom in killing off the weeds and replanting new life. I found hope in watching the cycle of death and renewal.

The health field is my life work, and I thought my vision was expansive. Breast cancer was a humbling event; I realized how little I knew, even about my own body.

Cancer was a floodlight that illuminated a depth of knowledge, compassion and empathy that would never have been so amplified had I not been faced with this detour in my life.

I've often been told not to get too stuck in my head with all the intellectual stuff – and to deepen the connection between my heart and intuition.

There was probably a simpler way to work that out besides getting cancer, but here I am. I feel blessed that I was guided to remarkable teams of doctors and nurses. And the angels in human and other forms that inspired me to find solutions along the way.

Cancer taught me that I am vulnerable, mortal, and no one is invincible. If I had the choice of never having had cancer or having it, I would accept it, although I truly hope my lesson was learned and I don’t have to repeat it.

The benefit I could never have foreseen is that cancer connected me as lifetime member of what I call the Reluctant Sisterhood. Absorbed into a network of survivors that inspired me to believe this could bring me greater strength, we pool our hard earned wisdom to share with those who will unfortunately but inevitably follow.

We probably would not have chosen this path. Yet we are eagerly drawn into this collective conscious and unconscious network of healing. This is not limited to breast cancer, nor to women; anyone with a need to heal is embraced into the circle of those who have traveled it ahead of you.

This journey has been remarkable, and even the pain and nausea and frustration pulsated with the adventure of life itself that makes me more grateful for every day.

I have an extraordinary husband and family. I learned over and over how incredible my friends are, and every day was like falling in love all over again.

They will be there with unfaltering support through any perilous journey, surrounding me with the love, prayers, sparkly vibes, decorated heads, cards, emails, and most of all the laughter and heartfelt warmth that makes it so easy for me to keep a positive attitude.

I feel gratitude every moment for how they enriched my life beyond my imagination.

I used to believe, "Everything happens for a reason." Then I got cancer, and entered a family of thousands of cancer patients of all ages. And I can find no reason for all this suffering.

Now I believe stuff happens for no reason. But what I do believe is that what we do with that "stuff" defines who we are. I believe we are incredibly loving beings, with instincts not only to preserve our own survival, but to ease the suffering of others.

Whether you knit a cap, send a card, call, tweet or discover a cure, your role in another’s healing is equally important. Our strengths arise from our ability to sense the needs of others and our resiliency in the face of adversity to find solutions that will ease their pain.

I’d like to share the rest of that short prayer, or maybe it’s a poem or a wish.

God made the rivers to flow.

They feel no weariness, they cease not from flowing;
they move as swiftly as the birds in the air.

May the stream of my life flow into the river of eternal love.

Loosen the bonds of sin that bind me.

Let not my work be ended before its fulfillment.

and let not the thread of my song be cut while I sing.

Rig Veda

Friday, June 24, 2011

Head Wraps and Turbans to Flatter Your Face Shape

A fashion solution for a bad hair day or hair loss are colorful head wraps, turbans and layered scarves, which can be worn indoors or out, from casual to formal looks.

If you think you don’t look good in the latest head wraps or turbans, maybe you haven’t found the right style for your face shape. Just like choosing a hairstyle, your goal is to accentuate the positive and balance the shape of your face.

Remember this is an accessory - part of an outfit. A little planning can turn a plain outfit into a fashion statement!

What is Your Face Shape?

A quick trick is to stand in front of a mirror, smooth your hair away from your face and draw an outline of your reflection on the mirror with a soft eyeliner pencil or old lipstick.

1. Notice the overall length and width of your face.
2. Compare the width of your face in three places:
  • Across your forehead just above your eyebrows
  • Across the top of your cheekbones
  • Across your jaw line and chin

An oval face is about 1-1/2 times longer than it is wide and the most balanced shape. Whether or not you have hair loss, you can wear just about any style of head covering.

If the length and width of your face are fairly equal, you have a round face and will want to embellish the flat outline of the basic turban or head wrap. Add height by layering with a twisted band or scarf. You can further soften lines with a bow, half bow or silk flower on one side just above your ear.
A square face is about the same width across the forehead and the jaw line. Add height with a twisted band as described above. To soften your jaw line, tie the band just behind your ear, with full ends flowing in front of your collarbone. Or tie a large bow above or behind your ear.

A heart-shaped  face is widest across the forehead and/or cheekbones, with a small, narrow jaw line or chin. The edge of the wrap can be a little lower on your forehead, with the knot behind your ear and the tie ends hanging long in front or back.

For you, scarf ends that are square or rounded will look better than pointed ones, which can exaggerate a pronounced chin. A full bow towards the top of your head will accentuate your eyes.

For all face shapes, first bring the edges of the piece around your natural hair line to cover the tops of your ears, and play with twisting, wrapping and tying the end in knots, bows or half bows (only one loop).

If the turban completely covers or replaces your hair, you can balance the look even more with earrings that are larger than you may normally wear.

With the increasing number of women every year that undergo chemotherapy, almost everyone has someone close that has to deal with the side effect of complete hair loss, known as alopecia. As our population ages, many women experience thinning hair from thyroid problems and other medical conditions. In normal circumstances, simply having a bad hair day is aggravating, but hair loss compounds the devastating effects of greater health challenges.

It is not shallow vanity to want to improve our appearance. As visual creatures, we instinctively want to decorate ourselves to relate to others and display our need for connection. Even through illness, you will be more encouraged be around people if you know your unique beauty still reflects from the inside out. Being around those who love and support you is one of the best natural medicines you can find.

Experiment with tying the knot on one side and then the other, with tail ends hanging down. Spread the fabric of the bow for maximum fullness, and position it in different areas around your head. What is your best look?

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Healing Wardrobe - 5 Tips for Using Color to Lift Your Spirit

For better or worse, color has a significant impact on our emotions. It may not surprise you to know the way each of us perceives color is unique. Bright colors that lift one person´s mood can be overwhelming or garish to someone else. Pastels that aim to soothe the spirit may be too dreary for a bubbly personality.

The colors you wear not only affect your mood, but also communicate something about your personality. The effect of color in our lives can be mystical, psychological and even functional.

During meditation, feelings of well being are enhanced with visualization of color that has specific meaning to the person. Deep breathing exercises that use a sense of color being directed at different areas of the body can help patients cope and better manage the stress and fear related to their illness.

The influence of color had never been so obvious to me until I was faced with hair loss during chemo. With a bald head, I looked - and felt - absolutely drained unless I wore flattering colors.

With the other side effects of chemo, the stress of a chronic illness or alopecia, we need all the cheering up we can get. Our hair is such a significant part of our self image that sudden, complete hair loss often has a deep impact on our identity and confidence.

Each year, thousands of women have chemo hair loss or alopecia from other medical treatments. And at some point in their lives, another 4.5 million people in the US will be affected with baldness from other causes.

But we can face this change by using our favorite colors to our advantage.

Before you choose a cancer hat, tie a head wrap scarf or turban, here are 5 tips for selecting your best colors:

1. Grab a pad & pen. Go through your closet and write the top 3 colors that look best on you. If you´re not sure, hold it near your face in front of the mirror.

2. Add to the list one or two colors that get you compliments when you wear them.

3. List 1 color you purposely avoid wearing (you may or may own that color).

4. Write down one emotion you connect with each color, whether positive or negative. For example: red (exciting, irritating or?); blue (healing or boring?); black (sophisticated or gloomy?).

5. If you don´t own at least 3 colors that make you feel good, fill in your list with the colors you need to add to your wardrobe - and the positive feeling each one gives you.

By consciously making this list, not only will you be drawn to your healing colors, but you will "anchor" that good feeling. Every time you wear these colors, it will reinforce the memory of the positive emotion.

You don´t have to buy a new wardrobe.
An accessory worn near your face, such as earrings, or a colorful necklace, can change the whole mood of your appearance.

Is that gray sweater depressing? It can be a beautiful background for a head wrap of fuchsia, purple,turquoise, elegant black, crisp white or an animal print.

For those that unfortunate folks that are stuck with having to deal with their hair every day, dyeing it to match each outfit is not a sensible option. But without hair, you can look elegant with a scarf, turban, head wrap or hat that is a proud statement of your colorful spirit.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Saturday Is the Big Day!

Sorry I missed my Friday check-in, but I was just too busy ... exercising!  Yes, I'm still at it and have not missed a day of exercise since 4/7.  There were a couple of nights when it was a little tricky, but I felt your eyes in the sky, so to speak, scowling away any excuses.

The Sacramento Komen Race is this Saturday morning, May 7 at Cal Expo.  If you have pledged $1/day toward my exercise promise, I assure you with confidence that I won't flake out in these final few days. If $30 is too much, remember that every little bit is appreciated, even $1. I have over 1000 contacts, so if everyone donates $1 it will set me far over my goal.

To make a donation online please click here: Laurie's Komen Page.

If you prefer to donate directly to a local breast cancer support center, please do.

Our Team is from Save-ourselves.org, which has been providing information, support groups and a hotline to the Sacramento area for almost 20 years. You can make a direct donation by clicking on that link.

Not only will you be supporting a fabulous cause, but you have motivate me to exercise, a habit I know reduces my risk for breast cancer.

Once was enough.  And if you don't exercise, I encourage you to give it a try.  Really, it's not so bad once you make a commitment.  Another motivator for me:

“Failure to exercise a minimum of 3 times per week for at least 30 minutes each time
is the equivalent of smoking one pack of cigarettes each day.
...exercise is no longer just good for you, it is bad for you if you don’t exercise.”
Surgeon General, July 11, 1996.

The rebounder has become a permanent fixture in our living room.  Dave has become deaf to the eeeeeee-eeee eeeeeee-eeee of the springs as I jog & jump. Yesterday was so busy that I didn't know where I would find the time, but from 9:30 - 10 pm I exchanged my couch time for bouncing along to a Conan rerun.

Congrats to those of you who have been inspired to get on your own exercise program. 
What are YOU doing? What motivates you?

So, are you in??  If so, comment here or email me.

To make a donation or join our Team click here: Laurie's Komen Page.

You have my continued gratitude for your emails, checks, online donations, and most of all the collective spirit of your support.
Thank you!
Love, Laurie

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Getting Stronger Every Day

I would never have believed I could be so faithful about exercise.  I haven't missed a day since April 7, no matter how late I get home.

The difference/s this time:
  • You're watching me
  • The first 2 weeks I felt guilty if I didn't
  • The past week I feel like something is missing if I don't
The more surprising thing is how quickly my body is responding - triceps no longer flap enough to send me into flight when I brush my teeth.  I actually feel muscles in my legs function when I walk.  I feel reconnected with my body instead of just lugging it around.
Happy Easter, my friends (or whatever aspect of springtime you may celebrate).

Thank you so much for helping me make this change in my life while your contribution reaches women around the world.
If and when you can donate: Laurie's Komen Page
Love, Laurie

Friday, April 15, 2011

Motivation Works. Is It Guilt?

This is amazing; I haven't exercised this faithfully since I was an aspiring disco queen 30+ years ago.  The Rebounder has become a permanent fixture in our living room and eliminated all my usual lame excuses for not exercising - time, weather and/or not in the mood to gear up to go out.  

This episode began on 4/7/11 when I requested that my friends pledge $1 for each day I exercise between then and the May 7 Komen Race for the Cure.  I received so many responses and donations in good faith that I feel like a twerp if I don't exercise every day.  Even the night I didn't get home till 9, I felt too guilty to accept my own excuses!! I know you're watching me.

The first 7 days I bounced along with Seinfeld reruns while doing continuous arm exercises with 1 pound weights.  Doesn't sound like much, but for a couch Pringle they felt like 10 pounds by the end of the 30 minutes.
Yesterday I received the 1/2011 issue of Self magazine from my friend Lorie who had been my personal trainer ... yikes, 25 years ago.  A big heart post-it marked the Jillian Michaels 30 day JumpStart Plan, most notably the 6 buffing yoga poses.  Hold each one 30 seconds, repeat the series 5 times (per session, not per month), 2-3 times a week.  Piece of cake, how hard can that be?   

AAAAUUUUGGHH! At the end of the second round, I crawled to the Rebounder for a reprieve.  Today I am acutely aware of muscles that have been hibernating for far too many years.

If you'd like to pledge $1/day you can email me and I'll keep you updated.  Or if you'd like to donate right away, any amount and every little bit helps, you can donate online. Click here: Laurie's Komen Page 

Some folks have preferred to donate directly to a local resource center, and they need all the help they can get, too.  My Team is organized by Save Ourselves of Sacramento; if you would like to find out more and/or donate to them instead, click here:   Save-Ourselves.org

Thank you everyone for your support!!
Love, Laurie

But when women are moved and lend help, when women, who are by nature calm and controlled, give encouragement and applause, when virtuous and knowledgeable women grace the endeavor with their sweet love, then it is invincible.
Jose Marti, 1853-1895

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Help Me Move My Lazy Butt!!!

Yeah, I still procrastinate with exercise. There's always something SO much more important to do. I NEED HELP.  Will you be my Support Group????

After doing the hot line training last weekend with Save Ourselves Breast Cancer Resource Group, I joined their Team for the Komen Race for the Cure on May 7.  My goal is to raise $225 over the next month.

BUT WAIT!! Here's the plan.  I'm asking my Support Group members to pledge something for each day I get my lazy self up & walking (or rebounding) for at least 30 minutes.  The Race is May 7, so if you pledge $1 for each day I exercise, the most you would possibly donate is $30.  Based on my record of dedication to exercise, it would more likely end up being $2, but I want to stay positive about this.

These are tough economic times, and every little bit helps.  Pledge 50 cents a day, it's OK.

I'll report in every Friday, and hopefully embarrass myself into a month of exercise.

You can donate weekly or wait till the end for a final amount.  This is my home page to make a donation or join our Team. Laurie's Komen Page.

You can join the Team, even if you are not able to be there the day of the race.
So, are you in??  If so, comment below or email me.  Thanks!

Love you!