Thursday, November 10, 2016

Love The Ordinary

     Sometimes it's good to sit back and enjoy an ordinary, normal day.  It is a treasure to be completely aware of who you are and where you are going.  I love to learn from other people, I'd love to learn from you!

“Anyone can love a rose, but it takes a lot to love a leaf.  It’s ordinary to love the beautiful, but it’s beautiful to love the ordinary.”  --Unknown Source

As I stumble through my life, I've come to realize how many things I have taken for granted.  Mostly  the 'typical' everyday stuff we all seem to skip over.  The ordinary is often overlooked for the beautiful.  There is so much to love and appreciate about the routine day to day affairs of our lives.  
a view from the road
Recently I was driving towards Mayo Clinic for an appointment-I take the beeline highway which I have usually viewed as not very scenic; but on this day I noticed everyday beauty.  I had seen these a thousand times on that drive, but on that day they were beautiful.  I wondered why I had never taken the time to notice the cactus, or the artistry of the desert.

My personal philosophy leads me to believe our Heavenly Father, who created all things loves ordinary people as much as he loves what the world deems as 'beautiful' people. My personal beliefs also affirm that there is goodness in all of God's creations, not just the things that are easy on the eyes. I'm convinced that the ordinary-both people and nature-deserve much more of our attention.

I am more spiritually in tune and mature than I was seven years ago--now when I recognize beauty I'm able to see with a different lens-viewing 'ordinary' things through the eyes of God is a beautiful sight indeed.  Wouldn't it be nice if we all could see the world through the looking glass in this manner? How lovely it would be.


Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Presidential Election 2016

I don't necessarily love our President!!

In what has been deemed as the most controversial Presidential Election in all of history, I have to admit I am not proud of how this election has been presented to not only the American people but the entire world; who seems to be laughing at us right now.

If ever there was a time in history we need love, acceptance and inclusion it is now.  Neither candidate seems to be on the same page with me on this issue.  I'm afraid our country is headed into the worst future it has ever seen.  Neither candidate is fit to be working as the President of the United States of America.  I remember when I was eighteen voting for the very first time.  I was proud of President Reagan and what he represented.  We all loved and admired him as a nation-whether you were democrat or republican, we worked together to a make America a Great Nation to live in.

The confusion and deception is inconceivable, the mainstream media has seized from fairly presenting facts.  They are now a political driven media, controlled by the candidates and who will offer them the best monetary compensation for reporting what the candidate tells them to report-simply put they are controlled by political parties and instead of reporting the truths. Never in my lifetime have I been weary of the future of America-nor have I ever felt like I was forced to vote for a candidate just because one is less evil than the other.

Today Frenchie and I went to the polls like we always do but instead of being proud to be an American with the right to vote it felt as if we were marching to the beat of a different drum. Tomorrow we will wake up and have to be faced with a new President of the United States-Donald Trump vs. Hillary Clinton-who will win?  I don't know the answer to that quite yet, but I do know no matter who wins-American's lose either way.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Love Your Mistakes

You Will Do Foolish Things, But Do Them With Enthusiasm --anonymous 

Right now I am here, where I am supposed to be !  Boy have perspectives in my life and the way I see other's changed.  Living with permanent facial paralysis has given me opportunities to live the life I was meant to live.  I don't look back EVER ! My eye's are looking forward with great enthusiasm.

One day last week I lowered my standards and chose to react to a situation.  I allowed another person's ignorant choice 'get to me' I haven't felt anger like that in a long time, it didn't feel good and it goes against everything I have worked so hard to change.  Although I realize anger is a natural emotion that most of us have experienced, I felt shame and embarrassment for my reaction.  Why? Because it is my choice to let anger engulf my thoughts and feelings, I could have handled this situation so differently-shameful? Within the moments after yes--Now? Not necessarily, a learning experience? Absolutely !

I have no control over another person's choices but I do have over my own.  Sincere love comes from an inner freedom. One which you are not controlled by the thoughts and negative feelings of other's. Love leads to allowing your mind to be free of the world's view on healthy relationships. I've learned through the journey of loving myself, love is kind-it's living free from the neurotic tangled up messes in our head of what the world defines love as.  I have had to let go of my vulnerability and not allow the negative influences of other people penetrate me to the point I lose control of that freedom.

I learned from this situation I can offer my compassion and good-will for this person without agreeing with their decision. If I had stopped, taken time to think perhaps this person is having a bad day, or that they simply see things different than I do I could have avoided that useless anger I felt. Perhaps this would have made a difference in their life and I know for sure it would have in my own life. 

My love would have still been sincere and their point of view still validated but without the bitterness I felt. One thing I have learned is that what others do with the love I have to offer is on them, not me. All I could have done differently was to make that simple offering. I can love even as I disengage from tacky entanglements, wishing people well even if I need to step back from them. 

Sunday, November 6, 2016



"For You, Whose Day It Is, Get Out Your Rainbow Colors and Make It Beautiful" --Nootka Song

Finding joy in possibility is magical.  Living in a world as a child where possibilities were stripped from me I now see endless possibility for my life as an adult.  Never in a million years would I have dreamed of actually writing a book about my life--but I did it!!  

So many times people see the gloom in life because that is what they have been taught.  I hope I have overcome seeing life through those lens's.  I want my grandchildren to see their life with endless possibility. They need to be taught they can achieve anything they put their mind to, they can dream the impossible and make it possible. I hope they embrace every opportunity and challenge in life with zest and live in the moment.

My oldest grandson Recker was diagnosed with autism when he was just a very young toddler, he is now almost seven year's old; and still is non-verbal.  I wish I could see life through his eyes. We, as a family know he understands so much of what is going on around him; but communicating is difficult.
Just last week my daughter Kayla, his mother received this from his teacher.  Four out of five.

He understands more than I realized

Cubs Make History

On November 2nd 2016 the Chicago Cubs made history.  106 year's have come and gone since the Cubbie's won a World Series.

Frenchie and I were on the edge of our seats watching the 7th game of the World Series. I told him I wonder how many people actually had a heart attack tonight--sounds crazy? Not really if you watched this history unfold before your eyes you know exactly what I am talking about.  Sports announcers, and social media made this fact very clear several times proclaiming if you have a heart condition you should use caution watching the game.

Going into overtime we watched as fans from both Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians were biting their nails, sitting on the edge of their seats, covering their eyes and some watching with blinders on as they tuned out all worries of the world to see the ending of the great Bambino Curse.  A win for either side was going to make history Cleveland Indians have not had a win for over 60 years. Frenchie and I would have been happy for either team, but watching grown men cry, and embrace each other was touching and gave hope for people to NEVER GIVE UP.

As with all games, there has to be a winner and a loser.  I knew with thousands of people watching half would leave very happy and half would leave very sad-but all would leave completely exhausted as they cheered on their team.  Knowing Dr. Kreymerman is from Cleveland I began texting him-needless to say he went to bed disappointed.  I was very impressed with the classy response from the Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona-who has never lost a World Series Game -- he gave a very compelling speech in congratulating the winning Cubs team.

Days after the game ended Chicago Cubs fans across the nation are celebrating I imagine they will be honoring this win for years to come.  Frenchie and I attend the spring training games every year here in Arizona-with that being said....Arizona for the most part are all Cubbies fans.  They maintained a 'never give up' demeanor throughout the entire season and it paid off--Congratulations are an understatement-they deserved to feel proud and grateful for this historical win.

The Winning Game Was Played In Cleveland-
But Wrigley Field In Chicago Was Full of Cubs Fans

Captivating Moments

Final Score


Saturday, November 5, 2016

What is your life for?

Abraham Lincoln inspirationally asked the question:

"What is your life for?"
and answered his own question with this answer:
"It is for you."

I ask "Do you love your life?"

A few months ago I bought front row seats for Hilary Weeks concert, two weeks ago was the concert. I had no idea her Song Love Your Life would be her theme.  I love Hilary! She is a woman after my own heart trying to make a difference in the world with a positive, happy attitude.

Hilary's set was absolutely inspiring
We only have one life to live and I personally want to love my way through mine.  There is so much negative influence in the media, you don't need to search for it.  I believe feeding your mind with constant adverse information is not only damaging to your soul it effects your life.

You don't need to be a monetarily rich person to make a significant contribution in live.  So many people worry they need to have an amazingly great idea, be famous or powerful to make a difference. This is simply not true.  I've seen small children make purposeful decisions that connect them with other's.  If we could all see the world through the eyes of a child we'd see some amazing things.

Sadly many people go through life believing if they were to die no-one would miss them.  They truly think it would have been best if they had not been born-this saddens me and makes my heart hurt. I wish so badly for everyone in this world to know their life matters, they are important and they alone can make a difference.  How?  By the small acts of kindness they offer other's daily.  A smile say's I care and does not cost anything. We each have a chance to write our own story, it does not matter what adversity or trial you have had, make a choice everyday to be happy wake up with the attitude of joy and good-will.

Intentionally make a difference in the lives of other people and yourself by making a difference with whatever you have, wherever you are.  This does not require being in a position of power, it just requires you to be you. Love your life and I promise it will rub off on the people surrounding you.  

My life is half over and that is if I intend on living until I am 106...maybe I will!! Truthfully I have spent the first half of my life selfishly worrying more about my own problems.  It literally took a life altering experience to change my story, I now understand the only person who can write and finish my story is me...I am the author of my life and I cheerfully realize there is no limit to the transformations I can and will make. 

Using my own life to positively impact and help change the lives of other's is exciting.  How powerful is it to have complete control over your own thoughts and feelings? Once you understand and internalize this type of thinking there is no limits to the change you can make in the world. If you have a heart and you see a need to make revision in the world you are on to something good; go with those feelings. Make a difference. Act on your instincts. The passion you have will give you leverage you need to make a significant change not only in someone else but in your own life.


Tuesday, October 11, 2016

The skinny on skinny

Me and Taryn, dinner before the show.

The truth is skinny does not equal happiness or health.  I am the thinest I've been since my twenties, I'm also the most unhealthy I have ever been.  I know friends who with age have gained weight--it happens but they are healthy--they run, cycle and eat well balanced meals--they are beautiful.

I was recently asked to be on a Q and A panel immediately following the documentary called Embrace.  Taryn Brumfitt did incredible research on the subject of body image. She interviewed some pretty amazing people.  One common thread that most of them had was they never learned how to love themselves, or their body.  I too struggled with body image as a teenager, I was too skinny and 'boobless.' (more about that in my book I CAN-cer vive)  Some people are pre-disposed because of their genes to be thin or heavy.  It's not the 'fatty's' against the 'skinny's' we are all a part of the human race and deserve love and laughter.

What if I were to say "I wish I wasn't so thin? or I wish I could gain weight?" If you are honest most people would say or think "I wish I had that problem." I know this to be true because I have heard people say it to me.  Be careful with your words, what may be an acceptable weight for yourself may not be a healthy weight for another.  When as a youth I heard friends say "You are so skinny!" It hurt, those words were as hard for me to hear as someone saying to another person "You are so fat!" I tried hard to gain weight and never quite accomplished my goal. When I graduated from high school I was 5' 9" and weighed only 96 pounds--that my friends is not healthy!!

When I speak to youth about body image it's interesting to open up for Q and A--most hesitate to ask questions knowing their peers are surrounding them and what they have to contribute may not be acceptable.  The few moments of silence tells me they all are squirming in their seats because the thought of talking about their body is embarrassing--

I usually break the ice by asking this question, "If you could change anything about your physical body what would it be?" I laugh and say "I'd change my smile I loved my smile before my paralysis" When the dialogue begins it is magical to hear--most of our youth are not happy with something, usually I hear them talk about their weight, or things they were born with--like a not so perfect nose or believe it or not their feet or toes.  I love that one.  I remember a very handsome kid in high school who determined the girls he would date by looking at their toes--he needed the perfect shape- no toes were allowed to be taller than another--Say whaaaat? Seriously, toes? You may be wondering why I find this conversation magical--let me explain.  When our youth collectively come together and are able to say out loud "I don't like___about myself"  It gives everyone in the room a safe environment to talk about these issues, the youth usually walk away realizing they are not alone, but more importantly they are not perfect, imperfections are what make them unique. For some of them it is the beginning of embracing who they are and the endless possibilities they have to make a difference in our world.

When I was diagnosed with permanent facial paralysis, it was devastating.  I went into a deep depression wondering how I would fit in, I still have moments of doubt but now I've learned how to harness that silly thinking by allowing myself a few minutes to mourn then looking myself in the mirror and telling myself I am uniquely beautiful from the inside out.  Another healing thing I did was write a letter to myself, I scribbled down a few things I needed to let go of and let be. Those unimportant things that were serving no good purpose to my life are now a part of my past not my future, then I burned the paper.

This sweet lady is featured in the documentary Embrace. I was privileged to meet and talk to her. She has facial paralysis, obviously not as pronounced as mine but just as real.  This was a moment I never thought I would have.  Permanent paralysis from a nerve dying only effects 2% of people. Jade had a benign brain tumor that caused hers. I have to admit I teared up talking to someone who knows exactly what I am feeling--the messy eating--and the frozen eyebrow were just a few things we talked about coming to the conclusion we are imperfectly perfect

So, I've asked myself plenty of times over the past couple of years "How can I make this a positive experience? How can I endure and be blissfully happy with a disfigured face? Who will I allow in MY circle of trust and friendship?"  I cannot change the world, but I can create a ripple effect by speaking out, embracing other's and being inclusive.

**Just a side note and after thought, our youth need to understand they are beautiful they way they are, but they also need to know this is not an excuse to feed their insecurities with food, we are a nation of obese people--this too needs to stop and is not healthy. Childhood obesity is on the rise, as parents we need to teach them a healthy balance of all natural foods--and guess what? It's ok to eat dessert first, once in awhile.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Disneyland 2016

I had a wonderful time sharing Disneyland with Kaitlyn-Brian-Phoenix--Blake-Chloe-Wesley--and Haleigh and Scott--

My legs were so heavy and in pain most of the time, but it was well worth the memories we made. I only wish Kayla-Jeremy-Recker-Ezra and Theo could have been there with us.

Haleigh and Phoenix mesmerized by the parade

During the parade

Phoenix loves Woody

I love my family

Kaitlyn Brian and of course Phoenix


Blake and Chloe are the perfect match--ask Wesley

I love this ride--it gives so much HOPE for our world

I couldn't believe I caught this picture with
no one walking through.

My girls-Kaitlyn-Chloe and Haleigh

Blake and Brian-the competition is on
to see who could spin the fastest.

I love Mickey

Phoenix and Wesley loved the parade

Wesley- the princess among our prince's

Brian and Phoenix--

I loved this, the maintenance man made this with
the leaves that had fallen from the trees.

Phoenix and Mommy watching the light show

Monday, September 19, 2016

Holding on Tight

The last skin graft is looking better
Everyday! I love Dr. Lettieri

With all I have going on in my life I continue to ask questions.  I know the Lord understands He loves me, even when I question and ask "why is this happening to me?" I wonder often "haven't I suffered enough?"  This should be the time in my life when I am looking forward to Eric retiring, loving and sharing time with my sweet grandchildren but instead I continue to feel as though my body is deteriorating at a rate faster than I ever expected.

Today as I studied the scriptures I came across passages I have read and studied over and over, but today they brought me to tears.  When Christ was on earth and visited the people he directs the people to ponder His words and pray for understanding—He heals their sick—He prays for the people, using language that cannot be written—Angels minister to and fire encircles their little ones. 

He perceive that the people were weak, that they could not understand all his words which he was commanded by the Father to speak unto them at that time.

He said to the people "Therefore, go ye unto your homes, and ponder upon the things which I have said, and ask of the Father, in my name, that ye may understand, and prepare your minds for the morrow, and I come unto you again."

When Jesus had spoken, he cast his eyes round about again on the multitude, and beheld they were in tears, and did look steadfastly upon him as if they would ask him to tarry a little longer with them. I would have wanted more too.

He said to the people " Behold, my bowels are filled with compassion towards you.
Have ye any that are sick among you? Bring them hither. Have ye any that are lame, or blind, or halt, or maimed, or leprous, or that are withered, or that are deaf, or that are afflicted in any manner? Bring them hither and I will heal them, for I have compassion upon you; my bowels are filled with mercy."

"For I perceive that ye desire that I should show unto you I see that your faith is sufficient that I should heal you."

Once he had spoken, all the multitude, did go forth with their sick and their afflicted, and their lame, and with their blind, and with their dumb, and with all them that were afflicted in any manner; and he did heal them every one as they were brought forth unto him.
 And they all went forth, both they who had been healed and they who were whole, Then they bowed down at his feet, and did worship him; and as many as could come for the multitude did kiss his feet, insomuch that they did bathe his feet with their tears.
The word that continues to come to mine is 'desire'.  It makes me wonder if I have enough faith, is my faith sufficient enough to be fully healed?
I have continually followed Him, I know too that I have let Him down in so many ways.  When I'm in these weakened states I wonder if I hold back my heart and not allow His grace to pull me through. What on earth am I supposed to be learning?  I am in continual pain, and now being diagnosed with kidney failure is incomprehensible.  Just 2 weeks ago I told Frenchie how happy I was, that I was finally starting to physically feel better.  I even told Dr. Lettieri I had a good feeling about the last skin graft.  His answer was that we are still not out of the woods, but that he too felt good about the graft.
So here I am once again doubting myself, pushing myself forward trying to mask the fear I feel inside.  I have three doctors appointments this week, then I am taking my grandchildren to Disneyland!!! Nothing any doctor tells me is going to get in my way of that trip even if they have wheel me around.  Eric and I have a trip planned for Hawaii in a couple of weeks, I don't want to cancel that trip either--in fact I just want to fly first class, be as comfortable as I can and for once think of myself.  I know we will not be able to do the things we had planned, this was as Dr. Lettieri put it "Finally, a much needed vacation before the next round of surgeries start."  What I feel inside is an emptiness I can't describe, no one I know will or should have to understand it.  The only thing I know for certain is that I am doing all I can to stay calm and be patient; only because I know the Lord has a plan for me.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Another Surgery

Before Surgery this actually looks really good in comparison
to the previous months.

After Surgery..I don't know what that yellow thing
is but it stinks like the hospital
I now have this doozie

Friday I  had surgery with Dr. Lettieri. It was not a planned surgery, so I was a little shocked when he called me on Wednesday to tell me.  

He did a skin graft taking the skin from my upper right collar bone area, I now have a new 3- inch scar but the good news is I think this will be my last surgery for awhile. Today I am very sore and still in pain.

The last thing I remember saying before I was knocked out in the Operating Room was 

"Dr. Lettieri....?"

"Yes" Looking up from his paper work

"Dr. Lettieri, I love you" and out I went.

I woke up in recovery with a massive headache and pain in my chest.  I didn't know Dr. Lettieri was going to take such a large area of skin for the graft; but I trust him and know he will take good care of me.  I am home, recovering now, it takes me longer after each surgery to recover and get all the anesthesia out of my body.  Surgery is becoming a monthly event, I'm happy Dr. Lettieri thinks this is the last one for a few months.  I need time to enjoy the Fall weather that will soon be here.

Friday, August 19, 2016

What's Up?

Ok so I haven't been the best at blogging my true feelings about the unfortunate facial paralysis I have.  Here is a quick synapse of what has happened just in the last 2 years.

  • Mastoid (layman's tumor) in the inner ear canal, burned black skin, very long difficult surgeries.
  • Woke up one day with the right side of my face partially paralyzed--spent 3 weeks in the ICU and had 3 surgeries to find out exactly what happened.
  • The nerve in my face that controls the right side went completely dead--no reason except an infection we had a hard time getting rid of.
  • I was told to go home and learn how to deal with the new face, Eric was told "Get used to your new wife, she will never smile again." (I love this Doctor, I am just stating how we heard it, not necessarily how he delivered it.)
  • Went to Cleveland Clinic for 7 weeks waiting to have another at least 12-15 hour surgery. Had what I thought was a near death experience.
  • Came home to Arizona, searched for a surgeon who specialized in facial trauma...found him, love him and he's at Mayo Clinic or Maricopa (options are nice)
  • Had a nerve crossover surgery (layman's...they took the nerve from my calf and threaded it through the left side of my head, down to my cheek.
  • Waited one year, and the nerve grew one inch a month--Dr. Lettieri very too.
  • Had the next part of of the nerve surgery, everything was great until it wasn't...infection again this time compromising the parotid gland (Layman's--your saliva gland)
Yesterday Dr. Lettieri called me to advise I will be having surgery tomorrow.  I realized tonight as I mentally prepared to enter surgery tomorrow....I am a professional at surgery.  The hospital admittance receptionist called and said 

"Monya, we are planning on seeing you at 5:30 am"

"Ok I will be there."

So simple, so comfortable and so REAL.  It's not normal for hospital staff to actually know a patient well enough to talk to them with such ease. No questions about health history or medications I take, not even the routine of no aspirin, no eating after midnight....nothing just "See you tomorrow"

I'm so tired of telling my family and friends about surgeries, asking for prayers, it's almost embarrassing for me I done it so many times.  I know those who pray for me don't feel like it's a burden but this story is getting old and needs an ending of Happy, and thriving in life.

When I start to feel sorry for myself I think about all the people who have shown me so much faith and hope during the last seven years.  I also think about my strength and the spiritual growth I have gained by going through these hard times. I'm not the same person I was pre cancer.  I know Heaven is watching over me and everything that has happened is for a reason....I have no idea what that reason is but I know the Lord knows and has a plan for me.  So as I retire to bed tonight I will kneel to pray once again to ask for guidance and inspiration for Dr. Lettieri to have steady hands and a clear mind as he enters the OR once again with me.

Thursday, August 11, 2016


In my opinion one of the most powerful words in the English language is Imagine; this single word gives hope to a world that is in so much turmoil. 

Of all the songs John Lennon wrote and performed, many of which have had tremendous impact on our culture, “Imagine” has the one I most resonate with. While its influence reaches across the globe, there are physical representations of it in the two places that most represented home to Lennon. The Liverpool Airport, renamed the Liverpool John Lennon Airport, has the line “above us only sky” painted on the roof. Yoko's monument to her husband, in the Strawberry Fields section of Central Park, is a mosaic of the word Imagine, where fans gather to mourn him as well as to celebrate his legacy. 
Imagine there's no heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today... Aha-ah...

Imagine there's no countries

It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion, too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace... You...

You may say I'm a dreamer

But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions

I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world... You...

You may say I'm a dreamer

But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will live as one
These words were sung by a somewhat complicated man, in 1971 I didn't realize how inspiring these words could be. Now, as we fight and are at war with the world over religious beliefs and pride I can see that Lennon had great insight and wisdom to write and sing these words.  Even today I am teary eyed when I hear this song.  I love the hope it gives us.
7 years ago this month I was diagnosed with breast cancer, it has been a wild ride since that day I heard the words "you have breast cancer."  I am blessed to still be alive and so many other health issues have come since then.  I've learned to hear a diagnosis of breast cancer is not a death sentence to all and for me the words that crashed my world were "your face will never be the same again." I took my smile for granted, I will never smile the same again, I still have no feeling in the right side of my face I have chronic dry eye and am in constant pain even with the weight Dr. Lettieri placed in my eyelid I still have trouble seeing. Expressions that come so natural for other people I took for granted; like raising your eyebrows being able to eat without my eye blinking is impossible; I rarely eat in public places. I am recognized by my new look. Interesting enough I have always been self conscious about my looks and certainly never felt beautiful. Trying to embrace who I am and who I represent in life has been and is an ongoing struggle for me.  I know beauty comes from within, but trying to look in the mirror and be ok with the woman staring back at me has also been frustrating and brought many tears.

Tonight I watched my grandson Phoenix who is only a year and a half old laugh and giggle at silly things he saw and heard.  I love and adore my children and grandchildren, with that love comes a responsibility one I don't take lightly.  I want them to be happy, not only through their innocent laughter but as they grow I wish for them to find joy in the small things,  to never take anything or anyone for granted.  I hope I can relay through my eyes and my heart their Bon Bon has had struggles in life but that I learned to embrace them, grow from them and then share how to be happy through those trials.
I, like John Lennon hope everyone, especially my grandchildren will live in the moment, I imagine them all living in peace, judging no-one along their path but instead handing them a dollar or two, and asking the Lord to bless them in their trials.  I imagine them having no greed and living true to their believes with integrity.  I wish for them to see ALL men and women as a brotherhood and sisterhood giving, sharing and helping each other. Yes, and just like he was judged as a dreamer I am judged as an optimist--dreaming and optimism are wonderful attributes to have.  As gloomy as the world seems right now we all have so much to be grateful for and as the song says Imagine all the people living as one and sharing one world. I see this happening and often times it is when I am asleep dreaming; so there you have it I'm a dreamer and an optimist.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

The Art Of Being Happy

I'm so glad I attended the 1st Festival of Positive Education this past week.  I had to evaluate whether this would be a good idea or not, given I just had surgery and still have a drain hanging from my head.  Dr. Lettieri thought it was ok when I told him I was going. Boy am I glad I went, nothing quite compares to being in a room with others who share my same interest in making the world a better place, by teaching our children to love one another and themselves.



I was shocked at how many people came from other countries to be involved with this positive movement towards happiness.  Dubai, Africa, Australia, Belgium, Bhutan, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Columbia, Finland, Germany, Greece, Iceland, India, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Mexico, Napal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Philippeans, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Turkey, U.K., USA, Singapore and Switzerland. That is a lot of countries included in the Global representation.  Well at least I was impressed!

Our country, the world as a whole is in turmoil right now.  This is a Presidential election year in the United States and while I can't speak for everyone, a majority of people are perplexed and undecisive about who they should vote for.  I usually agree and vote republican, but over the the last few years I've tried to listen with a silent voice trying to discern right from wrong, now I realize we are choosing good from evil.   Maybe our politicians should be attending the IPENfest.

One thing I learned is to practice like an expert, be deliberate in all you do.  Focusing 100% in the moment of what you are doing at the time is essential to accomplishing pure joy and happiness.  Talent matters, but those are not necessarily the people who show up, it doesn't matter what your talents are if you can't show up and be present in the moment.  When we allow our lights to shine on other people we are creating a ripple towards positive mindsets.

Sir Anthony Seldon

Martin Seligman--

Shawn Achor
When my children were very young I took them to a park most Sunday's after church, I learned an incredible lesson one day as I walked hand in hand with my son; he was only five or six years old at the time.  We went home after church and changed our clothes, my children were ready to feed the ducks. I was ready for a nap; needless to say they won me over and we went to the park.  My mind was not at the park, I was thinking about everything I needed to do when we got home.  We brought a blanket and a loaf of bread to sit and feed the ducks.  Blake wanted to take a walk, and so we did. Hand in hand we all walked.  Like most young children Blake was curious about the outside world. Imagine my perspective when he started saying things like this

Oh look at that rock

Wow that duck is hungry

Why are the trees so green?

Mommy, did you hear that bird?

The wind feels soft on my cheeks

That is a cool garbage can (it was pink)

The lesson I learned on that very simple light hearted walk was amazing and something I have taken with me throughout the rest of my life.  Children don't care about how many calories we are burning while we are walking, or that his hair was messed up and clothes unmatched.  He didn't care because he chose them, it's what he wanted to wear and he did.  I wrote in my journal that night, today I was not prepared to be Amazed by a child; yet I was.

What makes us change our perspectives? Look for the positive? I've tried and failed so many times at being 'in the moment' then I'm reminded of this walk and remember 'I can change at that moment; I have choices.' There was so much clarity on that day as we strolled along the lake at Freestone Park.

As times moves forward each new chapter or journey in our life is a chance to be renewed, take on a positive perspective and make adjustments where needed. We sometimes need to take a brain break; train ourselves with mindful awareness through our senses; touch, sound, sight and yes taste.  Treat yourself once in awhile to a simple piece of chocolate, just don't indulge in the entire bar. Savor those moments in time we seem to want to move so quickly through.

One of the powerful lessons I learned at the IPENfest came from Martin Seligman. He said "Pessimism is a risk factor for depression, as smoking is to lung cancer."  Wouldn't it be nice if we could diminish depression while our children are in elementary school by teaching positive education? Children need to learn the art of being happy before they hit puberty.  In fact I would say they need to learn it before they turn the age of five, those first five years of life are detrimental for learning and soaking up like a sponge what happiness is.  This starts in our homes, then should filter into our schools. Boy had I learned this as a child I would be far better off.

I loved each and every class that was available for me to learn from but I think the person I took the most from was Sir Anthony Seldon.  He talked about depression, the demons he battled in the 1970's trying to get himself out of the space of depression and anxiety.  I could relate to everything he talked about, I too have suffered from depression and learned a new way of dealing with anxieties. He talked about his wife who has incurable cancer living with this type of disease is extremely stressful on the entire family....yes, I know.  I wanted to talk to him one on one, so during his book signing I waited until the line was gone and he was sitting by himself.  I asked him how or if  mindful happiness has helped his wife deal with her diagnosis. He spoke very softly, which was very much different than his presentation -where he seemed to have a 'bigger than life' personality, but now we were talking perspectives on the same level.  He had a sacredness about him while talking to me. He didn't actually answer my question directly, but said they pray a lot.  He could see the drain I was trying to disguise in my shirt...(it actually looks like a 'third boob' as Dr. Lettieri described it) and asked

"And what is your diagnosis dear?" I loved his english accent.

"I started with breast cancer in 2009....." and with a brief few sentences I gave him the gist of what was happening in my world.

We shared the same emotions in that moment of tears; an understanding that both cancer patient and care givers are brave and live in a world no one else can comprehend unless they've 'been there.' Yes, happiness is a choice and I believe we can control our thoughts and feelings by being in the moment however he and I both agreed on another theory.  Trying to be happy every second of every day is difficult, it takes training and complete awareness.  Life and tragedy happens if not to you yet, it will be knocking on your door eventually; how will you deal with it?  Our theory is that even when life 'happens' it's ok to be sad, mad, anxious and scared those are natural God given tendencies, it's how we deal with the problem that really matters more than the actual diagnosis.

My awareness was heightened to a new level as I learned from the best positive psychologist and scientist in the world.  I am so glad I took the time, got out of my own world and went to this festival of happiness.