celebration · daily life · gratitude · happiness · self

This One Life

Today I celebrate six years cancer free.

At times it has been easy,
easy to forget the fear and struggle that came with diagnosis and treatment.
Other times it has been difficult,
difficult to remember the pockets of hope that come with remission.

For within peace, there lies chaos.

Life loves to stir the pot, rock the boat, press every button.
It gives and takes. Pushes or pulls. Hurts then heals.

Surviving has not made me perfect,
it has made me purposeful.
I have been gifted clearer eyes with which to view my world
and myself.

Parts of me are better than before,
others not so much.
I do not always like what I see,
but I love who I am.

I have changed. There is no doubt I have changed.
It is impossible not to…

I have always been curious,
but cancer gave me insight.
I was always outspoken,
but cancer amplified the voice
within my mind and heart.

Yes, I have changed the way I live and love and spend my time.
Some believe I no longer care enough but the truth is this:
I care too much.
So much that I made the decision to release the hurt, let negativity go –
from people, things, emotions.

I do not have much time.
No one does.

The moments that matter? Limited.
They come in waves and I choose to get lost in them. Swim in their joy.

We all have choices. Whether right or wrong, they are ours to make.
Love them.
We all have this one life. Whether short or long, it is ours to take.
Live it.


Photo by Jude Beck on Unsplash

confidence · fears · happiness · letting go · self

Declare Your Independence

Happy Fourth of July!

Today, I hope you find the courage. Courage to break free from:

HOSTILITY · DEPRESSION · FEAR · ANGER

STRESS · DISTRUST · THINGS · SADNESS · GUILT

JUDGEMENT · COMPARISON · PRESSURE · CRITICISM

HURT · FRUSTRATION · IMPATIENCE · NEGATIVITY

PAIN · INTOLERANCE · DISRESPECT · HATE

Seek all that is good. Celebrate it – by yourself and with those you love.

Live. Liberate. Pursue your happiness.


Photo by Trent Yarnell on Unsplash

confidence · fears · goals · happiness · obstacles

All The Things You Did Not Do: Risk, Reward, And Regret

My son is officially on summer vacation. Over the next few months my heart, energy, and time will be even more focused on family. But this doesn’t mean my mind stops. It never stops. And lately, I have been thinking a lot about regret.

Regret is a funny thing.

For some, there is the fear of missing out on the REWARD. The prospect of learning, improving, or gaining something we have always wanted can be a great motivator. It can push us to open ourselves to new ideas and worlds and experiences as we fear we may never have another chance. If there is something beautiful at the end, we believe the struggle will be worth it.

For others, the RISK can prove too much. The sacrifice required along with a fear of failure can overwhelm to the point of inaction. The perceived cost – relationships, time, energy, money, pride – may prevent us from moving toward something we desire. And sadly, some view life as an ‘either/or’ situation, one where there is limited choice and opportunities are lost forever.

We are only one person, given just one life. Sometimes we have to jump in and have faith everything will come together. Other times, it may require more insight and extensive planning.

Weigh the risk versus the reward. Maybe the reward is worth the risk, maybe it is not. But isn’t it better to be sure before you say no altogether? Perhaps there is a balance to be found. Or there might be a period of chaotic imbalance to get through. Sacrifice is a part of goal seeking. Map it out – the pros and cons, available resources, potential timelines. You might realize it is better to be sorry and try rather than be safe and disappointed. We all have responsibilities – to ourselves and others – but we also deserve to fulfill needs, feel purpose, and find personal happiness.

Live without regret.

FOR ALL YOU DID NOT DO If you wish you would have done things differently, do something today to change the situation. It is never too late to alter the course. Make amends with someone. Rewrite your dream. Start completely over. Sure, you might not get to the exact place you wished for years ago but maybe, just maybe, you will end up somewhere far better.

FOR ALL YOU ARE DOING – If you feel guilt because others make you believe your path is wrong, release the pressure. Pursue the life you envision (as long as it does not hurt someone else) and do so without apology or explanation. We are all unique with different choices and goals. Seek those who put joy over judgment and support your efforts without condition.

FOR ALL YOU HOPE TO DO – Find a way.

Regret nothing.


Photo by Austin Neill on Unsplash

acceptance · change · daily life · obstacles

Life: It’s Just A Phase

Life is hard right now. There is little time to pause, relax, do nothing, or worry about nothing.

This is not the first time I have been overwhelmed, and it will not be the last. I have had many moments in life where everything seemed SO HARD – the sudden death of my father, two rounds of college, new jobs, that first year of motherhood, and a battle against breast cancer come to mind.

Whenever I think I can’t go on, I reflect on the old adage: THIS TOO SHALL PASS.

If a difficult stage in life proves more demanding than my abilities, I remind myself IT IS JUST A PHASE. Whatever is bothering me will not be a bother for long. More importantly, I know I can get through it because I have done so before.

There will always be hardships to overcome – personal loss, bad job, unsatisfying relationship, hectic schedule, major life change. But while these may push our limits and challenge us, we should never allow them to overtake our life or define who we are.

And though many phases begin and end naturally on their own, some grab hold. We may fail to move onto a new and perhaps improved stage of life for various reasons. Perhaps we:

  • form an emotional attachment
  • are in a comfort zone
  • link self-worth to a phase
  • feel guilt for moving on
  • fear the unknown
  • are overwhelmed
  • believe we have no control
  • lack a support system
  • think part of us deserves the struggle

We do not have to stay in one place. All things are temporary unless we refuse to let go and release them. The difficulties in life will eventually leave on their own and it they don’t, there are options. We have the power to A) remove ourselves from the situation B) change the situation or C) accept the situation.

If you are in the midst of a phase like I am, here are some tips to get through it:

  1. LEARN FROM IT – Adversity is a wonderful teacher. Expand on that knowledge to better yourself and future experiences.
  2. DECREASE THE STRUGGLES – Seek ways to prevent undue stress. Simplify, delegate, say no, declutter, etc.
  3. ENJOY THE NOW – Appreciate the value of the moment with this Grounding Technique.
  4. MAKE TIME TO BE – Carve out pockets of time to do something where little effort is required but much joy is gained.
  5. REALIZE THIS IS LIFE – Our days will never be perfect or go our way. Once one challenge is gone, another will soon replace it.
  6. EMBRACE THE CRAZY – Rather than focus on the stress, immerse yourself in the moments and make memories.
  7. EXPRESS YOURSELF – Cry or vent if that is what you need to do. Releasing negativity will improve your health and outlook.
  8. BE PATIENT – Know the discontent will not last and will eventually be replaced with a sense of accomplishment and pride.
  9. FIND GRATITUDE – See the good in the source of frustration. You are likely blessed with family, friends, a home, or career.
  10. PUT YOURSELF FIRST – Get plenty of rest, exercise, and downtime to offset the pressure. And do it without guilt.
  11. SEEK AND ACCEPT HELP – Delegate to share the load and if others offer to help, take it.
  12. GAIN ENERGY – Surround yourself with people who lift you up. Build your inner circle so tight that you never feel alone.
  13. TEND YOUR INNER SPIRIT – Whether through religion, meditation, art, etc., find something to feed your soul.
  14. TEMPORARILY ESCAPE – Step away for an hour, a day, a weekend. Recharge and come back with a new perspective and open heart.

Still overwhelmed? Start with these two questions:
1. What part of your current situation is the most frustrating? Seek to better it.
2. What, above all, is the foremost priority? Focus on it.

There will never be a time when life is easy but there will be moments – glorious, joyful, memorable moments – when life reveals its true beauty and purpose. Look for those. And when you feel caught up and lost in the crazy, remember: nothing is forever unless you allow it to be so.

This Too Shall Pass.


Photo by Aron Visuals on Unsplash

acceptance · fears · learning · obstacles · self

Choose To Deal Rather Than Dwell

Ten days before my official diagnosis, I already knew I had cancer. Family and close friends remained positive, reminding me the mammogram, ultrasound, and lumpectomy were simply procedure. But something inside – my instinct – told me I was about to face the biggest challenge of my life. So while everyone else pretended all would be fine, I mentally worked it through, toughening myself for what I already knew.

I will admit the first month was the most difficult. It was a time of great sadness and hopelessness. The battle ahead seemed too overwhelming, and there were countless moments of deep despair. Unsure of what was to come, I questioned my ability to persevere. But even more, I feared an unknown end.

There was a turning point, however. A defining moment when the clouds passed and everything became clear. And as I look back, I realize it was when I acknowledged the possibilities. I could not only get through this, I could SURVIVE. There was opportunity for a LIFE AFTER. Yes, it would be forever changed, but it could still be beautiful. And yet I worried … how would I get there?

The answer was within me. I held the power. Cancer was strong, but I could be stronger. And that strength would come in many forms – education, goals, perseverance, diligence, relationships, motivation, and above all, attitude.

I decided to deal rather than dwell.

When we are hurting or fearful of the future, it is easy to become lost in the pain and frozen. Rather than face a hardship head-on, we allow ourselves to remain stuck in one emotion and place. And to be honest, sometimes we must do that before anything else. But it is important to accept reality at the appropriate time so we might regain or live a better life.

We cannot rush or force the process, however. Trust yourself. Pay attention. When the time is right, you will know to stop dwelling. Even the smallest step forward, the tiniest change, the slightest attempt to overcome is dealing.

What helped me through the darkest of times? THE FIVE Ps.

1) PLAN: Determine where you want to be and create a manageable path to get there. This does not need to be detailed or final. Establish baby steps. Be flexible. But have some idea of how to move yourself forward.

For me, this was two-fold. I educated myself about my stage of cancer to lessen the unknown. I also had my oncologist provide an estimated timeline of what treatments, surgeries, tests, etc. I would undergo so I could better visualize what was ahead.

2) PURSUE: Tackle the tasks in your plan. Even simple efforts should seem like a major victory. Celebrate the small things, but remember there are bigger hurdles to overcome if you hope to come out on the other side. Acknowledge them. Act on them. Take satisfaction in every achievement.

I took life day by day (sometimes minute by minute). But even on my hardest days, I focused on the opportunity to do something to advance my situation. I viewed everything – big and small – as necessary to moving me forward and welcomed them.

3) PERFORM: Even if you are not in a good place, act like you are. I do not mean pretend or ignore your feelings. But doing routine everyday tasks like it is a normal day can help you forget the difficulties ahead – even if just for a moment. [NOTE: Depression is very prevalent so please watch for the signs and seek immediate professional help if needed.]

In the first weeks after diagnosis, I fell into a depression which my doctor monitored closely. And once I came through that, I found solace in basic chores around the house, running errands, and maintaining a sense of normalcy for my young son.

4) PAUSE: Managing a major life crisis can be stressful, but it should never be allowed to erase all the joy. Whether it is something you love on your own or being with others, make time to do something that makes your heart happy – every single day.

Chemo and surgeries left me fatigued, sick, and unable to focus. My family and friends found creative ways to engage me socially online and via coffee dates and movie nights. The simple act of getting out of the house always lifted my mood.

5) PURPOSE: When something bad happens, it is common to question why. But there are lessons hidden in the toughest of times – about ourselves and life. Accept your journey will be difficult but also seek to appreciate that you have been granted a gift. To learn, to grow, to perhaps change or begin again. View it as a reminder of what is important or a chance to discover what truly matters.

Whenever I felt lost, I remembered what I was fighting for – this beautiful life and my amazing family. I learned to love everything.

[Bonus] PRAY: A spiritual connection can help to allay pain, worry, or fear. Whatever your belief, a faith-based approach can provide an incredible sense of peace for those who struggle.

It is inevitable – there will be difficult days. But when we are thrust unwillingly into the deepest of depths, we still hold the power. We have a choice. We can either dwell in the dark or we can make our way into the light.

Choose the light.


Photo by Lawrence Walters on Unsplash

family · home · parenting · relationships · technology

How Less Tech Gave My Family More

Parents: we have a problem. Technology is changing our kids.

Of course we know this. Extensive research is conducted. Long-range studies are published. But recently, I witnessed the impact on my own family firsthand. Please realize this is not some comprehensive or organized experiment. It is simply real life – my life – and to be honest, the outcome would vary based on individual situations. But I will say this:

My son has changed. For the better. And it is all because we took his phone away.

Our kid is a good kid. He is smart, kind, hardworking, shy, witty, and an incredible blessing. But at the beginning of February, something occurred in our family that led to a revamp of rules for our son. Access to technology is a privilege not a right in our household which means he has to earn the ability to have and use. And while the trigger for this decision is not important, the results are.

WHAT WE DID:

  1. NO PHONE. Not at school. Not at home. Not anywhere. No calls, texts, internet, music, gaming. Nothing. He does not have access.
  2. NO COMPUTER. He must use a chromebook for school, but he is limited to homework and assigned internet searches.
  3. NO EMAIL. Personal email has been blocked, and school email must be related to assignments.

WHAT WE NOTICED:

  • more conversation
  • more interaction
  • more connection
  • more focus
  • more patience
  • more consideration
  • more creativity
  • more inspiration
  • more laughter
  • more joy
  • more peace
  • more love

Our son has always been amazing, but now he is like a different kid. There is less arguing and mood swings. He plays outside more. Free time is spent reading and writing. If he wants to talk to someone, he must do it in person. If he wants to learn about something, he needs to ask. We have never allowed social media apps but perhaps just the pressure of texting, emailing, and being in the know was too much.

Like many teens, he was addicted. But I also think he was fearful. Of not being cool. Of not keeping up. Of missing out.

These rules might seem harsh but they were necessary for our end goal: a reset. And though there was reluctance by our son, they were agreed upon as a family. It has now been one month, and we are planning to reinstate phone privileges slowly and with time limits. [Note: It would be unfair to abruptly change the rules for a child without thought, discussion, or a valid reason. But if the opportunity arises to make a meaningful change as a way to guide or teach a lesson, take it.]

We are not perfect parents. We are ever-learning. But this experience has taught us to disconnect so we can reconnect.

With the horrors of recent current events, it might feel harder than ever to parent, especially teenagers. But when the outside world begins to overwhelm our children that is a sign for us to take charge of what is happening on their inside. We must not be afraid to follow instincts, make tough decisions, and say no when everyone else seems to be saying yes.

Our kids can do without and survive, but we must take the initiative. More importantly, we need to lead by example – that means logging off more and going screen free as well. There is much to be found online but in the end, the best of life is lived offline.

We have the power to power off.


Photo by Tyler Lastovich on Unsplash

family · happiness · love · relationships · self

Many Reasons To Love

What does love mean to you? Sure, there is a standard definition, but love is not as easily explained when it comes to each one of us.

There is no specific way to love. It is unique to the individual and ours alone to share. What’s more, there are many types of love and infinite ways to express it. It might be private or at times very public. It can seem magical but then leave us heartbroken. And while we may seek a one-true-perfect kind of love, the reality is this: love is quite messy.

It is not meant to be easy – nothing worth having ever is. But too often we become caught up in the “idea” of love – as if we should be doing it differently or better. We complicate matters rather than simplify. Love can be easier if we stop over-analyzing and comparing. Allow it to be what it is meant to be: a feeling of elation and affection. Real and pure.

LOVE IS AT ITS BEST WHEN IT COMES NATURALLY.

Listen to your heart. It is telling you there are many reasons to LOVE …

WHO you are – rather than hide your differences, embrace them
WHO you are with – spend your moments with those who matter
WHAT you do – follow your heart and your dreams
WHEN you can – see the good, be kind, show patience, find the joy
WHERE you are – enjoy the places life takes you and moments it gives you
WHY you love – cherish those around you without conditions
HOW you love – give to others without judgment
HOW you are loved – appreciate those who believe in you and see your value

Love really does make the world go around. It humbles. It connects. It hurts. It heals. It carries purpose, compassion, and a desire for others to find their happiness. And the best part of love is that we cannot help but share it with others.

Look to love. Choose love. Love everything.


Photo by Mara Ket on Unsplash