Archive for April, 2008

Yahoo!!!  With the awesome talents of an internist, a cancer surgeon, a cosmetic surgeon and an anesthesiologist, the blood pressure situation was managed so that my double mastectomy and reconstruction surgery were successfully completed last Thursday and recovery is well under way.  I feel so fortunate to have had such skilled medical people there to remove the cancer, to take aggressive action to remove the second breast and to start the reconstruction and to wake up feeling like I had just had a great night’s sleep. 


Of course, Kirk was right by my side before and after the surgery and his sister and mother both came to the hospital to support him and me.  He has not missed a beat with taking care of every little detail since to make sure that I have had nothing to do but rest and relax.  I just don’t know how someone gets through such times without the support of someone who is so loving and caring and willing to do whatever is necessary.  I just know that each day as I wake I truly appreciate another wonderful day that has been given to me.


And I sure didn’t realize how many wonderful other family members, friends and co-workers that are in my life who have been so supportive and forthcoming with prayers and good wishes and offers of assistance.  I must say that I feel so very special and it is all of that wonderful positive energy that helped to diminish the negative impact that such an experience can create for someone going through such a major traumatic experience.


This week’s writings will be a little short because I am starting to get stiff and sore but I just couldn’t let a Tuesday go by with a posting and to thank everyone who has contributed to giving me each and every new wonderful day.


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So last week I wrote all about stress and how to handle it.  And this week I got a chance to practice what I wrote and I am still laughing at my very inept approach and its subsequent outcome.  On Friday, I had to see my physician for a pre-op exam and my blood pressure had gone to places that I had never heard of.  I couldn’t believe my ears when the doctor told me that it was because of stress that I was internalizing.  What???????  I didn’t feel stressed.  I know what stress is and how to deal with it.  This just couldn’t be.  Well, it was.


Over the weekend, I had to follow up with blood pressure checks and the blood pressure dropped but then on Monday when I had to go back to the doctor’s office, it was right up there again so I was started on medication.  I will have to wait until tomorrow to find out if I am cleared for surgery on Thursday but I sure learned a big lesson.


Stress does not always manifest itself in ways that we recognize.  I have had no external signs that I was busy stuffing away all of the emotions that I was feeling.  When I did take the time to figure out what it was that was bothering me, I realized that I was trying to be “strong” and “brave” and I tried to rationalize everything by simply focusing on whatever positive aspects that I could find and ignoring all of the other feelings that were lying just below the surface.


But, all was not lost.  Because I did take the time to try to figure out what really was going on, I was in a better position to discuss the appropriate course of treatment with my doctor to produce the best positive results for me.  It also helped me to understand that sometimes there are just too many things going on at one time for a person to handle and there is nothing wrong with getting the professional help that is needed.  In my particular case, as soon as I started the medication, I was immediately aware of the fact that I felt differently and my doctor did indeed know exactly what was wrong and what would fix it.  For that, I will be eternally grateful.


So tomorrow when I go back to the doctors for another blood pressure check, I feel like there is a really good chance that the levels will have fallen to something that is acceptable to allow for the surgery.  I really don’t want to have to postpone it to a later date after having to wait so long for this date.  But, I also know that if I do have to wait, it is because that is the best thing for me at this time and that is what is most important.  And I also know that if I do have to wait, I will ultimately understand why.


I am still laughing at myself over this incident and I hope that I have learned this very valuable lesson so that I don’t have to repeat it again.  I feel so fortunate to have the opportunity to know what it is like to have that stress gone and to know that life can be even simpler than I had realized.  I realized that there is a level of life that allows for so much joy and happiness on a daily basis and now I know that as happy and content as I felt before, there is something even better.  Wow, what a ride!!!

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Last week I indicated in my blog that I would be addressing the subject of responsibility this week.  However, when I started to write about it, the right information just wouldn’t come.  I selected three other subjects and started to write about each of them but the words didn’t materialize.  Time was passing.  I wanted to post a new blog on Tuesday as I do each week.  On Sunday I sat and stared at the computer screen.  On Monday I worked and then went to dinner with a friend.  When I got home, I kept trying to write and kept getting interrupted until it was time for bed and I still had no inspiration.  But as I woke this morning, I suddenly realized that I was feeling stressed about meeting a deadline and that was no way to be creative.  At that moment I knew exactly what I needed to write about this week – stress.


It is my belief that the two major components of unhappiness and ill health are the lack of enough sleep and stress.  Forget the stuff that they say about smoking and drinking and overeating, etc.   They are not nearly as hard on us as the other two.  The sleep situation is easy to fix – just go to bed earlier and allow for the 8 hours.  The stress can be a little harder to handle until you take the time to assess what really creates stress.  It is fear. 


Our fears cause us to worry and our worrying causes us to create stress.  If stress was only a mental matter, it would be a different story but that mental stress creates stress on our bodies and manifests itself ultimately in illness and disease.  In other words stress causes us distress.  It can also cause us to not get enough sleep at night.  So what do we do about it?


Each time you find yourself worrying/stressing over something, try to take the time to ask yourself what it is that you are stressing about.  Whether it is a matter of money, job concerns, doing a presentation, meeting a deadline or whatever else, what does your stressing do to change the situation or make the matter improve?  If you answer, nothing, you are absolutely correct.  You are using all of your good energy to perpetuate a bad behavior for yourself.  And if you are honest with yourself and review stressful situations from the past, you will find that in most situations, nothing turned out the way that you expected and you wasted your valuable time and energy on a non-existent situation.


So, take some deep breathes and start working to set aside your worry and stress by refocusing your energy and your thoughts toward finding solutions to what it is that is causing your stress.  If it is money, perhaps you might consider getting a second job or looking for another job in your field that pays more money.  If it is an emergency, perhaps a family member can assist you but providing a short-term loan.  If it is a problem with paying certain bills, you can call your creditors and try to work out something with them.  There are so many alternatives that you might consider as long as you are not focused on the lack of money, the fear of the consequences of that lack, etc.


Job performance is another major area that stresses people to a great extent.  There again, it is a matter of putting things in perspective.  No one knows everything about any subject no matter how long you have done a particular job or performed in a certain area of expertise.  It is the smart person who acknowledges this and realizes that there is no reason to stress over anything if you take your energy and divert it to finding the answers that you are seeking and go and get them.  It may also be that you may have to do a presentation in front of a large group and you are so afraid that you will screw it up.  If you have ever observed anyone giving a speech or presentation, you will soon realize that no one ever does a perfect job.  Look at the current political candidates that are running for president.  Every time that you turn around, they have made some remarks or comments that are major faux pas and yet they don’t collapse under the weight of stressing about the next time that they have to speak. If you take the time to know your material, run through it several times and talk to the people in the room as you would a group of your friends, you will do just fine every time.  If you are questioned during the presentation about something for which you don’t have an answer, you simply respond that you don’t have that information but you will get it and get back to the person who is posing the question.


So it goes with every single thing that presents itself in our lives.  We can choose to focus on those things which will cause us so much stress that we can’t even see the forest for the trees or when we find ourselves in stressful situations, we can stop ourselves, focus on some positive alternatives and work out a solution to those situations.  The rewards are so much more gratifying and each time that we have a success, it makes it easier to create a pattern of successes.  The choice is up to you.

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Today is April 8th and this is a very special day in my life.  It was my father’s birthday.  My father passed away on January 2, 1989.  On April 8, 1989, I met Kirk and another special friend.  I remember that as I returned home after meeting these two people that I realized that it was my father’s birthday and I thanked him for the gifts that he had sent to me on his special day.  Little did I realize at that time that my father had actually sent to me that day the man that would ultimately become my husband.


Kirk and I had moved to Nashville at the request of some music executives that were starting a new record company and who wanted to have Kirk record for their new label.  However, they never received the final funding for their new venture so we saved up our money and moved back to the Los Angeles area to start over.  I had taken a temp position with a company with whom I wanted to have a long-term association and I was hired as a permanent employee starting on, of course, April 8th.  And I am still working for that same company today – 12 years later.


I believe that this was my dad’s way of helping me after he had crossed over to the other side.  I don’t think that anything happens by accident nor do I believe in coincidences.  If I take the time to think about things in retrospect, I can see how the happenings in life have a purpose and how they provide me with the opportunity to learn new lessons at each step of the way.  And as long as I continue to think this way, I find that everything that happens allows me to grow in peace, prosperity and happiness in this life.


My ultimate challenge is finding a way to help others to understand this basic premise.  Life is simple.  If we choose, we can make it difficult but it doesn’t have to be that way.  I recently had a long conversation with a friend who was totally in the “Woe is me!” mode, who believes that the tough times that she has experienced are some of the worst ever and who faces each day worrying that more of the same trials will come her way.  It was most difficult for me to not say to her that as long as she stays in that mode of thinking, more than likely, those same trials will, in fact, come her way.


There are three things in play here for her.  First, we manifest what we think and believe.  As long as she puts out into the universe that she expects more trials and tribulations that is exactly what she will draw to herself.  Second, in each tough moment, we have the opportunity to learn a lesson.  If we choose not to learn our lessons, we will have the opportunity to have more and more of the same experiences until we do learn or until we crumble under the weight of the negativity that we have created for ourselves.  And third, we need to take responsibility for the choices that we make.  I will reserve further comment on that until next week.


I thank my father for the gifts that he has sent my way since his passing, not only on his birthday but throughout the years.  I thank him for showing me the purpose of awareness so that I have been able to expand it into all facets of my life.  And I thank him now for the help that he will provide in the future in helping me to find the way to share the things that he has taught me in my quest to help others.  And I will know exactly the moment when that happens as I will have been able to help someone else to understand the things that I know and live.  I just can’t wait for that to happen so that I can share his gifts with others. 

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Last week’s blog was posted several days early as Kirk and I headed out to Florida on Easter Sunday to attend my brother’s funeral on Monday. I cannot begin to explain the experience that I had. I knew that my brother was very special in his kindness and caring and willingness to help others and I was so very happy that he was able to combine all of these wonderful attributes into a very successful career. But what I learned at that funeral left such a lasting impression on me that I really felt so full of joy.Standing outside of the church before the funeral began, there were 5 gentlemen who sought me out and introduced themselves to me. They all were men who had been hired by my brother to run operations at several of the plants around the country that were owned by the company for which my brother worked. They explained how they felt about the person that they had known and one even told me that my brother had been his mentor. Each was so genuine in his love and respect for my brother as they paid their respects to him that I knew how much he had meant to each of them.There was also another man who was there by himself for the funeral who indicated that he had to leave immediately afterward to return to his job but who took the time to tell his story to Kirk and me. This gentleman had been working at the plant in Atlanta and had repeatedly asked to be transferred to the plant in Florida but to no avail. One day my brother happened to be walking through the Atlanta plant when this individual decided that he would approach him and ask him directly about the possibility of a transfer. He told us that within one week he had received the transfer for which he had waited so very long and he made it very evident how much that had meant to him. There was no way that he would miss this opportunity to pay his final respects to a man who had changed his life forever.

And then there was the man who obviously was my brother’s best friend. He gave a beautiful eulogy and really captured the essence of my brother. Later at the gathering after the funeral, he and his wife went out of their way to join Kirk and me and to not only tell us so many things that I didn’t know about my brother but also to tell us how my brother felt about my sister and me and what we meant to my brother. It didn’t take long to realize that if my brother had shared such intimate details with his friend that this guy must really be someone so very special and before the end of the day, we sure understood that he truly was a special person and a special friend to my brother.

This friend shared a very special story with us. It seems that when my brother lost first a kidney and then a lung to renal cell cancer, he became involved in not only volunteering with his wife at the Ronald McDonald House but also started making calls to other survivors of this type of cancer. He made a special connection with a gentleman in the state of New York who wanted to give up on life on a good number of occasions but my brother would continually talk to him and explain to him about all the reasons that he had to continue. Over the next 14 years of my brother’s life, they continued to talk and he continued to motivate his new friend to keep on going. My brother passed away on Tuesday, March 18th but his friend’s family did not tell him about the passing until Easter Sunday. Within 48 hours, my brother’s New York friend passed away also and went to join the man who had kept him going in this life for so very long.

What a man my brother had become. What a legacy he had created for himself and how fortunate I felt to have had the opportunity to learn all that I had about him. How could I possibly mourn my brother’s death knowing all that he had suffered through and all that he had accomplished? No, I was so grateful that he had made such a difference in so many peoples’ lives, that his pain and his fight with cancer were finally over and I celebrate a life so very well lived.


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