Grateful for My Breast Cancer Mentor

I will never forget February 8, 2008.   The date of my breast cancer diagnosis.  I immediately went back to 1988.  Remembering, the eight weeks I was a caregiver to my sister-in-law who had breast cancer and died quietly in our spare bedroom.   Caring for her was a gratifying experience, but it was painful and heartbreaking to watch a loved one slowly departing this life.  On February 8, 2008, I saw myself going down the same path.

But several days after the diagnosis this wonderful woman, who is a breast cancer survivor, entered my life.  She was the founder and president of a newly formed organization, Sisters Network, Inc., – Milwaukee Affiliate.   An organization dedicated to providing supportive, educational, and advocacy outreach services to increase breast cancer awareness for African-American women in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and surrounding areas.

At the time, she was employed as a full-time nursing instructor and simultaneously implementing this new and innovative non-profit organization.  Yet, she found the time to lend individual support to a newly diagnosed breast cancer patient. 

My Breast Cancer Mentor was there or within reach as I went through a lumpectomy, chemotherapy, and radiation.   Utilizing the information and tips she provided, I navigated through the treatments with little or no distress.

For the past five plus years, I have watched my Breast Cancer Mentor build a strong organization.  One that is well respected throughout the city and surrounding areas known for providing survivors, caregivers, and others with a broad range of programs, events, and activities designed to increase breast cancer awareness.

Because of the long-relationship with my Breast Cancer Mentor and the other survivors at Sisters Network, Inc., I have been able to make the transition from:

  • being a Victim – I lived in fear of the “unknown.” Always seeking an answer to the question, “breast cancer, Why Me?”  
  • to living as a Warrior – I will not let breast cancer define who I am.  I live in the present moment expressing and demonstrating gratitude, daily, for the wonderful Gift of Life.

As my Cancerversary date grows closer, I wanted to honor and express heartfelt love and appreciation to my Breast Cancer Mentor, she continues to:

  • inspire me to look beyond my condition;
  • uplift me spiritually (a praying woman)’
  • educate me on the positive benefits of mindfulness, wellness, and spirituality.

Thank you, Phyllis Holder, for all you have done, all you continue to do, and all I know you will continue to do in your untiring effort to promote breast cancer awareness for the under diagnosed and undertreated population in the Milwaukee community.

My Mentor – Cancer Retreat

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Cancer Help Program-The New School of Commonweal

My Mentor – Top Row and Center

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NAACP Young Professionals Adult – Fundraiser:  A Tribute to Services Provided by Sisters Network to the Community

Happy One-Year Blogging Anniversary to ME

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This past year, beginning with writing the first post for this blog, I started down the path of a life-changing journey.   In search of peace, love, and happinessI stepped out of my comfort zone to look for ME.

As I walked this path, I paused along the way to

  • Publish a Weekly Blog Post
  • Socialize on Facebook
  • Practice Yoga
  • Attend Aqua Zumba Classes
  • Transition from Windows PC to Apple Mac Software
  • Meditate Daily
  • Express Gratitude
  • Pray and Praise God
  • Make Positive Affirmations
  • Perform Random Acts of Kindness

In 2014, I want to continue to release the “unnecessary burdens” of 

  • Negativity
  • Fear
  • Self-Judgment
  • Anger
  • Low Self-Esteem
  • Gossip

These things block ME from being the person God created.

In this second year of blogging, I will write about MY continued journey to create a peaceful, loving, and happy life through:

  • Self-AwarenessAs you become more clear about who you really are you’ll be better able to decide what is best for you – the first time around.”  (Oprah Winfrey)
  • Self-Care – “Our bodies are our gardens to which our wills are gardeners.”  (William Shakespeare)
  • Self-Acceptance – “You don’t need to be accepted by others.  You need to accept yourself. The only person who can pull me down I, myself, and I’m not going to let myself pull me down anymore.”  (C.  JoyBell)

I am a work-in-progress.   I grow stronger and wiser each day.  I no longer regret what happened in the past or fear what may happen in the future; Moment-by-Moment, I choose to live in the Present.  For, this is the only timeframe within MY control.

Sometimes You Just Gotta Rant!!!

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Since, the “texting in the movie theater shooting last week,” I have been ANGRY.  Wanting to COMPLAIN loudly. After a while, Hubby tuned me out.  Frustrated!!I Gotta Rant?   Sorry, loyal blog followers.  I need to dump a little negativity on you this week.

Hear Me Rant!!! We Need Better Gun Control Laws

Too many guns in the hands of criminals, YES.

But, also too many “concealed weapons” in the hands of supposedlylaw-abiding people.” 

Law abiding people acting as judge, jury and executioner.

Law abiding people who, apparently, believe the “license to carry a weapon” anoints them to the level of judge, jury and executioner.

This is a health and safety issue for all of us.

Did you know that 554 people have been killed since May 2007 by people licensed to carry concealed weapons in incidents that did not involve self-defense.” 

Allow Me Rant About Five!!

Rant #1:  71-year-old, retired police officer felt entitled to “draw his “concealed weapon” to shoot and kill” Chad Oulson, a 43-year-old father and husband in a movie theater who “refused to stop texting” and “responded to the request to stop texting by throwing popcorn.” (January 2014 – Florida)

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Rant #2:  Renisha McBride, 19-years-old, injured and dazed following an early morning car accident in a Detroit suburb.   Seeking help, she went to a nearby home, knocked on the door and was met with a gunshot wound to the head.  The homeowner alleged she was an intruder.  Yet, he failed to call 911 prior to shooting her through a locked screen door.  And, then left her to die on the front porch without calling 911. (December 2013, Michigan)

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Rant #3:  Jordan Russell Davis, 17-years-old sitting in a parked SUV at a gas station with friends was shot and killed.   The shooter, 45-years old, was angered by the loud music the young men were listening to.  When they failed to turn the music off, he randomly fired shots into the vehicle killing Jordan.    (November 2013, Florida)

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Rant #4:  Darius Simmons, 13-years old, shot and killed by a 76-year-old neighbor who suspected Darius had broken into his home and stolen weapons.   As Darius mother stood helplessly by on her front porch, the neighbor first pointed the gun at her; and, then pointed the gun at Darius and shot him in the chest.  (July 2013, Wisconsin)

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Rant #5:  Seventeen-year-old, Travon Benjamin Martin, was shot and killed while walking unarmed in a gated community by a neighborhood watch captain.   Calling 911, to report seeing a “suspicious person,” he ignored instructions not to get out of the car and proceeded to follow Travon and killed him.  (February 2012, Florida)

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Closing Rant

I join the many other Americans who believe stricter gun control laws and better mental health restrictions are needed to address this epidemic.  It is unthinkable, in this day and age; that people feel it is okay to bear arms and act as though still live back in the days of the Wild, Wild West.

Family: The Best Holiday Gift, Part 2 – Christmas 2013

Family:  The Best Holiday Gift, Part 1 – Thanksgiving 2013

In last week’s post, I learned a valuable lesson; “You can’t have a better tomorrow if you’re always thinking about yesterday.” (Unknown).

No doubt, I am stepping outside the boundaries of a “writer’s privilege;” but, the reverse order of this quote provides a better explanation of what happened in my case.

  • “Thinking about yesterday,” I broke a more than fifty-three year family tradition of spending Thanksgiving with our Children.  Guided by the FEAR of a replay from the previous year, I chose to stay in warm Florida rather than expose my compromised immune system and serious lung condition to cold Wisconsin.
  • You can’t have a better tomorrow.”  Why?  In choosing to make a decision about tomorrow, I relied on FEAR and ignored the commonly held theory that FEAR is:   False Evidence Appearing Real.  This view was validated when I was admitted to the hospital in warm Florida for seven days, including Thanksgiving Day, with both an immune system problem and lung condition.

As it turned out, even though I didn’t spend Thanksgiving with family, I found HAPPINESS in the PRESENT” through unexpected Gifts.

 Family:  The Best Holiday Gift, Part 2

What a beautiful Gift for ME and Hubby over the Christmas Holidays in the PRESENCE of the special people who bring happiness into MY Space on a daily basis.  I am strengthened throughout the year, as the receiver, of their Gifts of encouragement, unconditional love, and support.

MY IPAD Amateur Photo Gallery

Hoping to avoid having to answer over-and-over again, “What are we eating?” I prepared the week’s menu so everyone knew what to expect:

Christmas 2013 Menu

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I was able to capture the images below of my Gifts on an IPAD camera during their seven-day visit.   While, the photos may not be appealing to the eye, they will join the other memorable treasures of past family gatherings.   For, I truly believe, “memories are a way of holding on to the things you love, the things you are, the things you never want to lose.” (Unknown)

Hubby and Youngest Granddaughter –His Little Cupcake

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Younger and Elder Daughters

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Son and His Five-Year-Old Daughter (AKA, Cupcake)

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Nephew/Surrogate Son

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Son-In-Law Married to Elder Daughter

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Eldest Grandson (24-years-old) and Baby Sister

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Granddaughter (22-years-old) and Grandson (17-Years-Old)

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Youngest Grandson (13-years-old) 

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Cupcake said, “I got this Banana Pudding!!

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The Only One that Still Believes in Santa

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Last Day – Quality Time with Two Granddaughters – Pedi/Mani

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Visit Over – ME and MY Quality Time

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Closing this week’s post, with the memorable family quotes I choose to embrace:

  • “Having someone to love is a family.  Having a place to go is a home.  Having both is a blessing.” (Donna Hedges)
  • “If the family were a fruit, it would be an orange, a circle of sections, held together but separable – each segment distinct.”  (Letty Cottin Pogrebin)
  • What greater thing is there for human souls than to feel that they are joined for life – to be with each other in silent unspeakable memories.” (George Eliot)
  • “I sustain myself with the love of family.”  (Maya Angelou)
  • “Spending time with the ones who are dear to you is like being in a dream is it not?”  (Sakura Tsukuba, Land of the Blindfolded, Vol. 3)

A Grateful Breast Cancer Survivor – Part IV

Celebrated MY 71st birthday on Monday, November 11; and, I declared this as MY Sabbath  Day.

“Sabbath as that uncluttered time

and space in which we can

distance ourselves from our own activities

to see what God is doing.”  (Eugene Peterson)

This day of solitude was “to see what God is doing” in my life.   Did He hear my prayers for happiness, peace, love, and tranquility?

In celebration of MY 71st Birthday, I selected 71 Statements from MY 2013 Daily Journal to confirm why I believe MY prayers were heard.

And, I AM GRATEFUL to God for…..

  1. Waking me up this morning after a restful night.
  2. The beautiful day.  Sunshine and nice weather.
  3. The daily calls from each of my children.
  4. The love of my husband.
  5. Manicure and pedicure today.  So grateful to have this biweekly outing with my Hubby.  It’s a time for both of us to relax.
  6. Lunch with Hubby, tasty broccoli cheddar soup from Panera’s for only 300 calories.
  7. Peaceful and enjoyable day.
  8. This day of acknowledgement and recognition of the President, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Medgar Evers, Rosa Parks and other civil rights leaders.
  9. Living this season of my life in our Florida home.  Today it was 75 degrees in Florida; and, 4 degrees in Wisconsin.
  10. Identifying MY Purpose during this Season of MY life.
  11. Meditating, listening to music, so relaxing.
  12. Love my hour daily respite.  It rejuvenates and revitalizes ME for the remainder of the day.
  13. Completed weekly wash – devote remainder of weekend for self-development
  14. Audio books when I am lazy and need somebody to read to me.
  15. Beautiful and relaxing Sunday.
  16. Two-dozen red and white roses for Valentine Day from Hubby and bouquet of flowers from children.
  17. Five-year anniversary as a breast cancer survivor.
  18. God answered my prayer and returned ME to a good place.
  19. Giving a ride home from the hospital to our next-door neighbor who is battling Stage IV breast cancer.
  20. Avoiding conflict and not letting anyone steal my joy.
  21. Abundant love of my children.
  22. Enjoyable outing at the Holy Land Experience with friend and sister breast cancer survivor from Milwaukee who is visiting her son in Orlando.  Great Day.
  23. Beautiful sunny day spent at my desk putting the final touches on this week’s post while at the same time taking peeks through the window at the green trees in the conservation area.  Patio door open and a cool breeze flowing through.
  24. Venti, skinny decaf hazelnut latte from Starbucks.
  25. Showering and going to the YMCA.  Really felt terrible this morning – up good part of night with excruciating shoulder pain.  Followed Hubby’s expert advice to do something to distract and not to focus on pain.  Worked.
  26. Hot oatmeal, fruit and turkey bacon prepared by Hubby.
  27. Re-starting my monthly breast exams.
  28. Controlled pain levels most days.  This makes today’s excruciating pain easier to manage knowing pain-free days are ahead through the grace of God.
  29. Beautiful Friday.  Enjoyed outing to Home Depot to check out plants for the lanai and house.
  30. Staying calm in the face of negativity.
  31. Loving and forgiving God who guides and watches over me.
  32. Opening the door to my creative side.  A little scared but I will not be swayed by the FEAR of criticism.
  33. Starting second week of Oprah’s and Depak’s 21-day meditation challenge.
  34. Enjoyable telephone conversation with older daughter.
  35. Stretching before going to exercise this morning eased joint pain.
  36. Cleaning laundry room and hall closet.
  37. God’s unconditional love.
  38. Granddaughter, 21-years-old, place a hold on her life to love and be in the presence of her paternal grandmother throughout her stay in home/hospice care.
  39. Words flowing while writing this week’s post.  Hope the re-read makes sense tomorrow.
  40. Moving toward living peaceful and productive life.
  41. Dinner out with Hubby celebrating 53rd Wedding Anniversary.
  42. Restarting morning gratitude project and this journal.
  43. The beautiful flowers and plants that surround and comfort me daily.
  44. My home it is my haven and brings ME peace, joy and serenity.
  45. Beautiful “Be Still Day” following morning yoga class and grocery shopping.
  46. Sunshine after days of clouds and rain.
  47. Beginning MY de-cluttering project by unsubscribing to the outrageous number of emails I have to plough through daily.
  48. Living, learning and loving today.
  49. Taking the time to write in this journal.  This is a stress reliever.
  50. Living and enjoying this season of MY life in Florida.
  51. Spending time to focus on inner peace.
  52. Restarting healthier eating habits.
  53. Pacing my activities today.
  54. Getting up at 5:00 a.m., sitting on lanai, enjoying a cup of coffee and listening to audio book, Simple Abundance:
  55. Following the path to find joy, peace and serenity.
  56. Joining on-line early morning service at Trinity United Church of Christ, Chicago, Illinois.  Enjoyed sermon..
  57. Serenity and tranquility in my warm home environment.
  58. Sixty minute massage – so restful and relaxing.
  59. DVD from Arthritis on water aerobics.
  60. Aqua Zumba class.
  61. Embracing the present moment and eliminating the fear.
  62. Opportunity to express MY views and voice MY opinions through MY blog.
  63. Spending time with Hubby today.  Enjoyed the movie.
  64. Outing at Home Goods my favorite place to buy things for the home.
  65. Exercising one hour at the YMCA.
  66. Honoring God and expressing appreciation to Him for watching over and protecting ME.
  67. First yoga class.
  68. Stretching before starting my day.
  69. Cortisone shot and knee pain relief.
  70. Celebrating MY 71st Birthday in fairly good health striving to improve the quality of my life.

Listed under one Gratitude Statement, the 71st thing that I am Grateful for on this 71st birthday is that I am . . . 

  • Walking  – but, it is sometimes painful;
  • Breathing – sometimes allergies make it difficult;
  • Seeing – while eyeglasses needed for distance, they are removed for  reading;
  • Hearing  – though my left ear bothers me, the right ear is fine;
  • Feeling – loved by God, Husband, Children and Grandchildren, extended family, friends;
  • Learning – to live in accordance with God’s plan;
  • Journaling – expressing gratitude at the end of each day; and
  • Blogging – I am not a writer, but I have a lot to say and a desire to connect with like-minded people.

Closing this post with MY favorite quotes for the week:

  • Gratitude  – “Let gratitude be the pillow upon which you kneel to say your nightly prayer and let faith be the one bridge you build to overcome evil and welcome good.”  (Maya Angelou)
  • Happiness – “… is not something ready-made it comes from your own actions.” (Dalai Lama)
  • Peace – “If we have no peace it is because we have forgotten that we belong to others.”  (Mother Theresa)
  • Love – “I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, but only love.” (Mother Theresa)
  • Tranquility – “Only the development of compassion and understanding for others can bring us the tranquility and happiness we all seek.” (Dalai Lama)

It’s A Pool Party: Aqua Zumba

Four weeks ago, I went to a fun pool party; and, I have “partied” every Saturday morning since.  Our community’s YMCA added an Aqua Zumba class to the Spring/Summer 2013 Group Exercise Schedule.   Taking an Aqua Zumba class was on my long Bucket List of “things to do before I die.” 

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About five years ago, my Baby Girl and some of the women who worked in our family-owned business started to take Land Zumba classes one evening a week.  They encouraged me to come along.   I wanted to join them, but I knew Mr. Arthur’s joints (Rheumatoid Arthritis) and Ms. PN’s feet (Peripheral Neuropathy) could not withstand the floor pounding steps of the cha-cha, merenque, salsa, reggaeton and mambo dance movements.

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Last year, I did venture into a Land Zumba Class at the YMCA.  Though, it was a beginning class, I was intimidated by the younger, fitter, and hipper women in the class.  Here I was, a fast approaching 70-year-old whose grace and rhythm, as a dancer, disappeared more than 40 years ago. This class was a painful experience for two reasons.  One, the physical pain to my deconditioned lower extremities pounding down on the hard floor; and, two the emotional pain of feeling inadequate and being judged by others in the class.   I finished the 60-minute class, but did not go back.  

For weeks, leading up to the first Aqua Zumba Class, I questioned whether —

  • I was prepared to appear in a swimming suit at a busy community pool on a Saturday morning?
  • I was able, given my mobility limitations, to even enter or exit the pool?

I arrived early for the first day of class.   Hoping no one would notice, I entered the pool area in the largest beach towel I could find.  It surrounded my body from chest to knees.  There were a lot of people sitting around the pool deck.  Most of them were relaxing, conversing or observing the preschoolers in their early morning swim class.  Quite frankly, a 70-year-old woman in a large beach towel did not seem to tweak anyone’s interest.

Then, I began to worry about how to make a smooth entrance into the pool.  Using the pool ladder I felt was my best option rather than lowering into the pool from the deck as the other women did.  I gradually and carefully focused on each step as I descended into the pool.  Grateful, I made it without a problem.   Since, I never learned to swim, I chose a spot toward the pool’s shallow end.  Thereafter, everything went smoothly.

The class started with a warm up dance to Latin music.  Wendy, the instructor, demonstrated the different dance moves from the deck.   The tempo changed and we were stretching, twisting, and splashing to the music – shouting along with Wendy.  Every time a new song started, Wendy instructed us on a new and different dance move.   Squatting, jumping and moving my hips in a circle pattern while moving around; then adding hand movements to spray, push, and pull the water was the ultimate full-body workout.

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Aided by the buoyancy of the water, the beat of the music, and the energy of the instructor; I was able to hold my own in a class of younger women

Aqua Zumba rebirthed my rhythm and grace, met my special needs, and opened the door to a challenging water based workout to improve my:

  • Aerobic/Cardiovascular Endurance
  • Muscle Resistance
  • Flexibility
  • Balance
  • Joint Mobility

Aqua Zumba provides a safe haven to lose inhibitions and focus on the exercise.   It’s definitely a freeing and empowering feeling exercising in the water.

The party atmosphere of Aqua Zumba combined with a safe and effective fitness workout is a win-win for me. 

Be Still Day

“Learning how to Be Still, to really Be Still and let life happen — that stillness becomes a radiance.”  (Morgan Freeman)

Last Sunday, overwhelmed and anxious, I decided it was time for a Be Still Day!   On this day only calmness, peacefulness, and stillness could enter my “Personal Space.”  

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Is it difficult to Be Still?  Or is it, just me?  As a young child, Mama often had to remind me to stop fidgeting.   She would quietly, but firmly say, “Yvonne, Be Still.”   An impatient child, I fidgeted most when I was . . .

  • getting my hair combed;
  • doing homework;
  • sitting in church,
  • riding in a car, or
  • eating dinner.

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Had I learned to Be Still as a child, perhaps my adult life would have been less stressful.   Though, I stopped fidgeting after a while, to Be Still is yet a work in progress.

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More recently, my inability to Be Still correlates with an addiction to my I-Pad and MacBook Pro.  For this reason, venturing into cyberspace — banned on Be Still Day.  No surfing the Internet, reading e-mails, or entering blogosphere for me on Be Still Day.  

The Be Still Day was a success.  I needed this day of stillness, aloneness, meditation, inner focus, and spiritual enlightenment to cure a serious case of undernourishment.

For weeks leading up to the self-imposed Be Still Day, I didn’t nourish my mind, body and spirit.  Far too many “first time tasks” on a long “to do list.”   All related to:

  • A 53rd Anniversary Gift this month from Hubby and The Eldest Daughter; as well as
  • Preparing for The Daughters and 13-Year-Old Grandson’s Annual Week-Long Spring Visit

The anniversary gift was a “generous, though budgeted amount,” for a mini makeover of my kitchen and bathrooms.    Hubby and The Eldest Daughter offered to help.   My immediate response was, “I Got This.”   After all, I have been an avid follower of . . .

  • Home and Garden TV
  • Do It Yourself Network
  • Martha Stewart Living
  • Better Homes and Gardens
  • Real Simple
  • House and Home

Certainly, twenty years of devouring decorating magazines and countless hours of watching home makeover programs on television prepared me to handle a “mini makeover.” 

Feeling confident, I went to my trusted friend, The Internet, for ideas on tile, granite, sinks, faucets, and lighting.    Looking for contractors, plumbers, fabricators, installers, electricians, and painters; I  checked the telephone book, Angie’s List, Craig’s List as well as asking my neighbors.  Overwhelmed with all the options.  Unable to make a decision, I spent days analyzing, procrastinating and stressing outaccomplishing nothing.  

My inner voice shouted, “You need help.”   Putting pride aside, I called on the Hubby and The Eldest Daughter for help.   Working together, as a team, we completed all the tasks on the “to do list” in less than a week.   The last stage of the project, installing the backsplash tiles, is scheduled for completion by day’s end.

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I am a Survivor.  Living with a medical history of:

  • Breast Cancer,
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis,
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease;
  • Sleep Apnea;
  • Fibromyalgia, and
  • Peripheral Neuropathy

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The challenges I face, as a survivor, on any given day can be . . .

  • Fatigue
  • Sleeplessness
  • Weakened Immune System
  • Stressfulness
  • Chronic Pain
  • Cancer Re-Occurrence

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Oftentimes, I forget my survivor status and take on too much.  When this happens, the mind, body and spirit crash.   I can always count on Hubby and the Three Adult Kids to lift me up.   Ultimately, however, I am the survivor and it is my responsibility to make the right choices.

Since Be Still Day, upon arising every morning, I repeat my personal affirmation.

I am a survivor of Breast Cancer and Chronic Pain.   I claim, accept and embrace this life.  Today, I am grateful for the opportunity to follow my path toward a healthy mind, body, and spirit.  My Survivorship is Dependent Upon My Emotional, Mental and Physical Health. (SeasonedSistah 2)

Exciting New Adventure – Yoga Class!!!

When I first signed up for an exercise program at the YMCA more than sixteen years ago, Yoga was my first exercise of choice.  But, I walked away.  Why?  I was . . .

  • Embarrassed about the inability to lift or lower my body to do the floor poses; and
  • Fearful to let others know about this physical limitation.

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Recently, this changed.  First, let me share my story.  Several months ago while perusing the Internet, I came across an article on Chair Yoga DVDs for the elderly and people with disabilities.   Immediately, I went to my favorite online source for DVDs, www.amazon.com, and ordered three — “Easy Yoga for Arthritis,” “Chair Yoga:  A Seated Practice,” and “Yoga for Us.”

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Looking to share my happiness, I e-mailed a friend who has practiced Yoga for a number of years.  She cautioned against trying to do this on my own.  Her advice, which I respect and value, was to find a Yoga instructor who could show me the proper way to do the poses and lessen the chance of getting an injury.

Following my friend’s suggestion, I discussed my dilemma with a personal trainer at the YMCA.  She urged me to attend one of the upcoming Yoga Issues classes.  Mind you, she said the Yoga Issues class was “low key” and designed to meet the special needs of people with “issues” that prevented them from taking a traditional Yoga class.

Imagine my surprise when I entered the class.   There were No Chairs.   Well, One Chair was in the middle of the room.   But, surrounding the One Chair were people sitting on a variety of vibrant and colorful Yoga floor mats.  All appeared quite comfortable in their Cross-Legged seated poses.  The ONE CHAIR, I assumed was for me.  So, I claimed it.   This “issues” group performed poses comparable to the ones I had observed while peeking through the window of the Yoga class at the YMCA in my former hometown years ago.

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In looking around the room, like me, there were,

  • elders in the class;
  • several people were overweight; and
  •  others may have had “invisible” disabling conditions.

But their “issues” did not seem to limit their abilities.

I sit in the CHAIR, fearful and embarrassed.  I watched the flexible and pliant bodies of people with supposed “issues” effortlessly bending, reaching, rising, lifting and twisting their bodies as they did the various Yoga poses.   Following the lead of others, I attempted, when possible, to do the poses in a sitting position.  I was embarrassed by my performance.

Disappointed, but not defeated, I returned to the class the following week.  Alone, in a far corner of the room, and leaning against the wall was the CHAIR.  I claimed the CHAIR.  Clearly, no one else in the class would ever need a CHAIR.   Naturally, I did not seek a spot in the center of the room.  The CHAIR and I went to the farthest corner in the rear of the studio.   I placed my Yoga mat in front of the CHAIR for the comfort of my feet.  Unlike the first class, I chose to do the standing poses without the assistance of the CHAIR.

Then, it was time to do the floor poses.  I sat down in my CHAIR.  After several poses, the CHAIR slowly started to lower toward the floor.  I prayed no one would notice.  But, the CHAIR kept moving down, down, down until my “buttocks” ever so lightly touched the floor.  Several people came to offer help.  Pride made me say NO.  I did not want people standing around trying to figure out how to get me up.  .

Instead, I remained on the floor.  To my surprise, with a bit of effort and a little pain, I got through the poses.  Independent, of any help, I brought my body to an upright standing position.

Now, I don’t want to oversell.  While I lifted, reached and twisted, this body did not always end up where it was supposed to go.  Touching my toes and sitting in a Cross-Legged pose are at the very top of my “Yoga Goal List.”

I am a little nervous about going to the next class.   But, FEAR and EMBARRASSMENT, are no longer problems.  After years of dreaming, I am grateful to finally have Yoga in my life.

Thank you CHAIR for breaking and gently guiding me to the right place.

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I Choose to Rise 

Better Late than Never

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Late Start

At 54 years of age, roughly 16 years ago, I chose to start exercising.   Chronic pain had literally controlled my life for more than three years.  I relied on prescribed medications for pain relief.  While the medications temporarily and sporadically reduced pain levels, I aspired to have a richer and fuller life.  Frequent, pain flare-ups prevented me from carrying out many day-to-day functional activities.  My body was under the control of either Ms. Fibro (Fibromyalgia-muscle pain) or Mr. Arthur (Rheumatoid Arthritis-joint pain).  While I FEARED the prospect of enduring the extra pain likely to come with exercising, the excruciating pain I was experiencing at the time left me with no other realistic choice.

In the Beginning

I exercised three days per week.  I could only endure six minutes on the treadmill and five minutes on the bicycle.  The body was so deconditioned and the muscles so atrophied, 11 minutes of low-impact exercise was all I could tolerate. Those first months were a struggle.  But, as the days, weeks and months passed – the FEAR disappeared — the pain lessened –the body strengthened.

Results

Over time, I have been able to add:

  • 49 minutes to exercise time (11 minutes to 60 minutes);
  • 2 days per week to exercise program (3 days to 5 days);
  • 3 new cardio machines to the treadmill and bicycle (Step, Elliptical, and PreCor); and
  • 10 circuit weight machines

Making the decision to start exercising was not easy.  But, I chose to TRY.

TODAY

Mr. Arthur and Ms. Fibro are no longer in control of my life:

“It is Better to Do Something Late than Not at All”