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.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Poo Poo On Dr. Lettieri

I had an appointment with my favorite smile doctor, hoping Dr. Lettieri would take this drain out of my neck imagine my surprise when he said

"That drain is not coming out today."

"There's no blood, I want this thing out."

Dr. Lettieri has beautiful blue eyes, they were staring through me with a smile as he said

"I'm worried about the fluid that is in your drain, I just want to send it off for testing."

"Um.....testing for what?"

"Not to worry, but before I take out your drain I want it tested to see if your perodid gland is leaking."

"I understand Dr. Lettieri but I need this drain out, it's driving me crazy and I'm going out of town."

"No you don't understand."...he smiled, but with a  concerned look continued "We have a huge problem if it's the parodied gland, then we are back to square one. I'm not taking it out yet."

All I could think of was he's trying to help me, I need to listen to him. I looked at him as he walked out of the room, totally confused.

When the nurse came in he said "Are we ready to take out that drain?"

I immediately said "Yes, let's take it out...." the door was open and Dr. Lettieri came running in and said

"Don't let her talk you into taking that drain out" Raising his eyebrows at me still smiling I wanted to smack him.

Then he proceeded to tell the nurse to go get what he needed to inject BOTOX into the parodid gland.

I said "BOTOX? What the heck for?"

"Before you get all bent out of shape, the BOTOX is injected into the perodid gland to help stop the draining, don't worry it will help."

The first shot of BOTOX was so painful I yelled out in pain saying "I'm going to kill you."

As he continued "No your not, I know it hurts like hell but it's what is going to stop that draining"

I'm not sure how many shots he actually shot into my gland I think it was about eight shots. With every shot the pain intensified.  I could hear and feel it crunching through the scar tissue.  When he thought he had hurt me enough, he asked

"So I'm assuming you don't want the remaining shot into your forehead?"

"Uhh....that would be an astounding NO."

The next day he called me with the results....."Yes it is the parodid gland draining, that drain is not coming out yet."

..."Seriously? Of course it is, you do know I am supposed to go out of town and won't be back until August 3rd?"

"Yes I realize that but it is not coming out, this is a potential serious problem."

Later I text him "Thank you for taking good care of me, I'm sorry if I was mean to you."

"Belive me, I've heard worse, let's just get you better so we can start on the nerve situation. I know the shots hurt but they will help close down the gland."

So for now I still have the drain hanging out of my head, and now my BAJA is leaking something.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

I never imagined being a grandmother would be so rewarding.  

Monday, July 11, 2016

Surgery #35

On June 30th I entered Maricopa County Hospital with Dr. Lettieri (my smile doctor)

Myself and Dr. Lettieri-just before surgery
I wasn't nervous or afraid, after all he was just repairing some of the skin that was ripped off after my skin graft.  This should be an easy surgery....right?

Afte surgery they doctor usually takes Eric in a private room and discusses the finding of the surgery.  Not expecting much change imagine Eric's surprise when Dr. Lettieri told him he found a lump with the consistency of cancer he needed to extract and take to the lab.  During that extraction he had to cut through muscle and down to the bone. This has been very difficult to recover from; he also left me with no appetite and a drain hanging from my head.

I was texting Dr. Kreymerman the other night, he was asking how I was doing....I sent him a picture of my drain and told him these always remind me of him.

PK's answer back "Gee Thanks"

My reply "It's not a bad thing, It just brought back memories of me wanting to kick you when you asked me to wear it for another week.  Now I realize the reasons why.?"

Dr. Lettieri has been so kind and compassionate with me on Tuesday I was back in his office. Hoping for the drain to come out but realistically knowing that was not going to happen and it didn't.

On Wednesday I was in so much pain I could not turn my head, lying my head on my pillow was excruciating  pain also exploding me into tears.  I called Dr. Lettieri and asked if he could meet me take out the staples, which I thought was help relieve.  He took out all of the staples, the relief from that pain did not improve for a few days.  With lots of ice packs and patience the pain finally subsided well at least a lot less than what it was.  I do not like pain medicine, so I resorted to ibuprofen on the proper requested amount from the Dr. Lettieri.

The best news of all was Dr. Lettieri telling us the lump was 'CANCER FREE' this was encouraging. 
The lump was full of scar tissue and muscle from previous surgeries.
My family seemed very pleased.  I had many people praying for me from every religious beliefs. Thank you to everyone person who helped the those prayers meet the Heavens because it worked.

I thought I had been so spoiled going to Mayo Clinic, I still love and adore all my doctors who I still see. However, Dr. Lettieri who is hired by Mayo Clinic also works through Maricopa County Hospital is brilliant in all he does.  Meeting him at MCIH is so much easier for me and for him. 

The staff at MHIS is by far the nicest people I have ever met.  They remember me when I return and call me by my name with a huge hug and smile.  I am never left alone, one of them is always with me and I appreciate their attention and kindness.

Just to give you an idea of the seriousness of this
infection.  It is getting so much better.
Thank You Dr. Lettieri

This last procedure will hopefully do the trick and clear this up so Dr. Lettieri can move on to the nerve problem.  I know many people have asked me if this was a Doctor error.....I want to say with and inequitable answer ABSOLUTELY NOT.  My mother and brother both died of infections, it's a part of the make up of my DNA.  I cannot take them lightly when they occur.

Today I still have the drain, that will hopefully change tomorrow.  Eric and I have not gotten away for quite some time and we have a trip planned.  I'm leaving on July17th for a Happiness convention in Dallas.  I will also be filming a video for them. Then meeting Eric in Cancun after ward  I have to get Dr. Lettieri's approval, but I know as well as he does I need a break. 

Sunday, July 10, 2016


Two years ago I was diagnosed with partial facial paralysis, the doctor informed me my face would never be the same again.  To describe my emotions during that time is impossible.  I spent several weeks in the hospital, when released I was told to try and live a 'normal' life.  Whatever 'normal' is to the world is not my normal...only 2% of people in the world have facial paralysis due to a nerve dying.  The first year after my diagnosis I was miserable, trying to talk was unbearable knowing what       I must look like to other people.  My self esteem and self worth were in the toilet.

This past year I have been concentrating on loving myself.  Focusing on who I am, where I came from and finding out where I want to be has been liberating.  It has been the perfect prescription; it costs no money but required time and patience.  I've studied the science behind happiness and in my studies have been completely blown away with what I didn't know.  Evidence has proven that the connection between mind and body-between well being and physical health--it's real, I mean really real. There is no big secret here, sometimes I know at least in my life I've been in such a race to find what will ultimately bring me pure joy; when actually trying to FIND happiness is what has slowed me down.  I do think there is some strategy involved and for me I deal with it daily to keep myself in check.

So many people have asked me "How do you stay so positive with all you have going on in your life?"  The truth is I have times when I am feeling down or needing my well to be filled by someone else's truth, faith or hope.  I've had a tendency to focus on being the 'perfect' wife, mother, sister or friend.  I'm not saying those things are not important however there is a balance, at least for me that needs to be met.  I've been forced to learn this amazing concept.  I see so many people, just like I used to be who give up their personal happiness to make sure everyone else is happy.  Slowing down and focusing on the thing that is right in front of me, right now has helped me to be present.

I recently read an article about living in the moment and being present, according to a study done on 5,000 people by psychologists Matthew Killingworth and Daniel Gilbert of Harvard University, adults spend only 50% of their time in the present moment.  Basically what that says to me is we are mentally checking out half of the time.  In addition to checking when people's minds were wandering, they collected information on their happiness levels.  What they found was when we are living in the present moment we are also at our happiest, no matter what we are doing.  So when we are doing a project we really don't find pleasant you can still be happier if you are 100% consumed in the activity than when you are thinking about something else while doing it.

This concept is so hard for some people to master, including me.  Trying to bring your mind into the present moment can be a daunting task, however I have come up with some ways to help myself.
I am constantly thinking about my next surgery before I've had a chance to recover from the last.  When I notice myself doing this, I try my hardest to nudge myself back into the present consciously learning to observe my mind wandering behavior away from the future and into the moment.  To retrain your mind you need to be consciously aware of the pattern your brain takes you in while it's wandering.  Having my grandchildren around has helped me to stay in the present, I don't want to one day say "Wow, here I am with all my family around and I can't focus on them, I'm too worried about this or that."  If you are with your family, put your phone away, turn off the television or radio.  Take a break from modern technology and seriously enjoy life for a day without the stress of the phone.  Who ever developed the 'smart phone' was truly smart, but did they take into consideration how much time would be taken away from family? On Sunday's all of our children and grandchildren come for dinner.  Last night I was trying to discuss with them a new idea I had for our family to better strengthen our bonds.  I looked up and every single one of them were on their 'smart phone' they didn't hear or listen to one thing I had to say!  Them not listening to me was not the shocking part, it was watching all of them engage in whatever was so important on their phones.  I decided we will drop the phones at the front door on Sunday's to enjoy the moments with each other.  I'll have to get back to you on that one, I'm not sure how it will go over with everyone but I'm willing to try.

So how do I bounce back?  Through my studies I've found that with practice, everyone can develop resilience.  It's not easy, at least it hasn't been for me.  I've learned my capacity to adapt to challenges has been unwavering.  I'm not sure why, I haven't attended any resilience training I just know I am in tune with my own body and spirit.  Just when I think I can't handle anything else along comes a new trial but I seem to thrive in the aftermath of adversity.  Every person is different and needs to find what works for them.  I find doing acts of kindness helps me with my resilience and helps me cope with the past, present and future.  This is what I think it takes to be a strong resilient person:

1.  Have core beliefs that no one or nothing can shake.
2.  Try to find meaning in the stresses of everyday life.
3.  Try to always be a positive person.
4.  Face the things that scare you; don't run from them.
5.  Reach out for help from others---I'm working on this one.
6.  Keep your brain active by learning new things.
7.  Get out and move, exercise everyday find something that is reasonable for you and stick to it.
8.  Do not dwell in the past, or beat yourself up over things you cannot change.
9.  Own your strengths and weaknesses, recognize why you are unique and write it down.