Vulnerability and Keeping It Real

Coral:

Having written this now over two years ago, I am just as convinced that in keeping things “real,” we MUST be vulnerable. I submit to you this previous post as a reminder of what is important.

Peace,
Coral

Originally posted on BEYOND THE CHALLENGES OF LIFE:

This week I facilitated a workshop at one of the military bases.  It was a small class of 18, mostly military retirees.

Anyone who teaches, trains, speaks, or performs to an audience knows that adapting to an audience is key to making it an effective experience for all.  I have learned that by being authentic and sharing the information needed using my (sometimes) gritty, direct approach to life and what it dishes out has worked well in the environment in which I teach. Perhaps, it is due to knowing that I must drape that grit in compassion and connection.

This week’s class was one of my toughest classes ever.  Not from a perspective of “bad,” but because it was one of the most emotionally-connected.  For three days, I was drained AND fortified.  At times when I thought I could not give any more, they gave back in ways that I…

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Sixty years and a Day into my 61st

00BohemianMy 60th birthday was very low-key yesterday. I had not slept the night before, so I took a rain check on a lunch date with my youngest sister, and dinner with a friend of mine. I did not even get to the nail salon for a manicure and pedicure.

I just wanted to relax without feeling I had to do anything or be anywhere. Is that a sign of “getting old”? Or, perhaps, it is a sign of freedom!

I received several phone calls and messages from friends and family. I opened my mailbox to receive a card from my sister in Tulsa, and no bills or advertisements.  This morning, I read messages and articles written in honor of me by several of my online friends from a writers’ group to which I belong.

I did receive “gifts” from some local establishments, so I redeemed these:

  • Birthday drink from Starbucks–Not only a drink, I had a free item coming for the purchases I make.  I chose a grilled cheese sandwich and a trenta-sized (31 oz.) Mango Black Tea Lemonade.
  • $10 Birthday Money from CostPlus World Market–I also had another coupon for $10 off when you spend $30. I purchased $40 of merchandise, mostly on sale. The total value (not on sale) retail was close to $100. I paid less than $23.
  • $10 Rewards Certificate from Eddie Bauer–I found a coral-colored tank top at the Eddie Bauer retail outlet store on the discount rack for $9.50.

I also went to Trader Joe’s to visit my favorite employee, Sally, and chat with her for a few minutes. She was setting out samples of their New York-style cheesecake with a berry sauce made from an organic berry blend.  I had two small samples. It could not have been a better two bites if I had ordered a slice of cheesecake (my favorite) from The Cheesecake Factory.

I bought myself some bright, beautiful sunflowers (5/$3.99), and a half-gallon (not really that size any more, but the big round tub) of rocky road ice cream from another store, and came home.  I watched some television, heated up some leftovers, ate ice cream and took a couple more phone calls before heading to bed about midnight.

I am the type of person that I would have liked to have had a big, milestone surprise birthday party with a lot of people, laughter, food and drink, and presents. Though I have never been surprised by that kind of party, I have enjoyed those celebrations, where I bring my eclectic group of family and friends together, for those who can attend.

But I am the kind of person who can find the joy in other ways to celebrate life. The phone calls I had with the friends and family, the messages received, the interactions with the people I met along the way at the stores, the conversations with customer service people in doing business–all of them–were all instrumental in making my 60th birthday a celebration. I even received a hug or two yesterday from total strangers.

I am grateful for this life, and for the people I meet along the way. It is for this reason that I get up in the morning and look forward to a brand new day.

Thanks to all, who made my 60th a special day.  Here is upward and onward to the 61st!

 

 

The Last Day of My Fifties

Today marks the last day that I will be in my fifties. It seems so weird to me to think that tomorrow I will a 60-year-old woman.

Those who truly know me (I say “truly” because many who think they know me, do not have a clue who I really am) will tell you that there is not much “old” about me.  Age in years, perhaps, but far from old. And wisdom, sans judgement.

Recently, I facilitated a workshop of mostly Millennials.  One, in particular, said: “Thank you for the life’s lessons you taught me. You are one of the ‘coolest’ people I have known. You do not think or act like most people your age.”

Never have I received a nicer, or more genuine, compliment.  Especially from a 20-something. I will take them where I can get them!

But, here I am on the eve of my 60th birthday. And, by some standards, it is old. Let me say this:  I feel very fortunate to still be alive today to be old.

Three years ago today, I felt lucky to be celebrating my 57th birthday. I thought it would be my last, and the following day I had a birthday party, where close to 50 people showed up to have dinner with me.

Tomorrow, I have no plans. It looks as if it will be just another day. I am not throwing a party, nor do I have any knowledge of one that is planned for me.

But, just another day?  For some, perhaps.

For me, it is another day to celebrate the gift of life. And each day that I wake up is another “birth” day. Tomorrow will just mark 60 years of them.

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Time Runs Away with Me

00clocktimeFliesI am never quite sure to where time runs off. It has been nearly six weeks from my last post, which was not my own post, but a share of another’s blog.  I really need to become better at consistency wherever I write, and in whatever I do.

I also realized that I failed to share the outcome surrounding the issue I shared two months ago in When Things Become Too Familiar.  

I did, indeed, go to University of WA Medical Center for an MRI, and blood work. It was three months earlier than what the year out was to be.  All the results came back and there were no surprises.  Everything was relatively stable (again) after the nine months.

The liver lesions show virtually no growth and there a no new detectable lesions or new tumors in my system. My blood work came back as normal, though the levels in the Serum Serotonin and the Chromogranin A are elevated, as usual in someone living with carcinoid cancer/neuro-endocrine tumors.

So, the question becomes, “Why?” The attack that I had could be attributed to lesions in my intestine, healed from when they did the resection. Or it could be due to the one thing that I noticed on the report that I have never seen or paid attention to before:  Gallstones.

I have had no other issues since my June issue, which concerned me, other than the “normal” pains and symptoms that I deal with living with this condition.

Sometimes, I get a bit frustrated, angry, depressed, and whiny about them, but I try to get through those moments as quickly as I can. I do not want to ever beseen as someone who cannot deal with whatever life throws my way.

Thankfully, I have a couple of trusted friends with whom I can be honest, and let them see the overly-human person.  Although it is not pleasant for them, I am grateful that they accept me, love me, and (even) reach out to me in those moments.

With August right around the corner, my goal is to write daily.  To all who read me, thank you for your continued support.

 

8-year-old Boy Goes Beyond to Help Young Cancer Patients

AUTHOR’S NOTE:  I ask my readers for your help:  Please reblog this post or share my URL  to get the word out.  People need to hear this story of this remarkable little boy.Thank you.

* * * * * * * *

Christian McPhilamy is my hero.

How many of you know a boy who would go through ridicule of being called a girl for two years, just so he could help other children out?

That is exactly what Christian McPhilamy did when he grew his hair out for over two years. He saw a a commercial for St. Jude Children’s Hospital, and saw other young kids like him without hair while going through cancer treatment.

Now, at 8-years-old, Christian has donated his hair to an organization, which supplies wigs to those in treatment.

In a world where so many begrudge a call for donations to help others in need, there are people who willing to step up and show what true kindness and love really is.

Christian McPhilamy is one of those people. And this was a random act of kindness that I will never forget happened.

To read his story and see Christian’s pictures, click here for the story on MSN.  

M is for Music: A story from my life

Coral:

This week I had one of the participants in my class ask me, “Why aren’t you still singing?” He had done a search for me and read much of this blog and other things I have written elsewhere. I did not have a good answer for him. I thought it appropriate to revisit this post this morning.

Originally posted on BEYOND THE CHALLENGES OF LIFE:

a-to-z-letters-mAnyone who knows me well might have guessed that the letter M would have been the prompt for a post on music. For those who do not know me, music has always been an integral part of my life.  It’s part of my story, a family legacy which goes way back in time.

I am the eldest of five children.  Both of my parents were musical, so I never can remember music not being a part of my life.

Mom sang and had worked as a young  woman in a group called the “Blue Bonnet Girls,” here in the Pacific Northwest.  I learned how to harmonize by singing along with my Mom when she sang songs to us as kids.  “Mairzy Doats (Mares Eat Oats),” “You Are My Sunshine,” and “Three Little Fishies (Itty Bitty Pool)” were among many of the songs that she taught all of us, and are…

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Fathers’ Day 2015

Today is the first Fathers’ Day that I cannot make the phone call to wish my own father a good day, or to have sent him a card. He passed away this past January at the age of 83.

So, I want to wish a Happy Fathers’ Day to all those Dads who set incredible standards by stepping up and being positive, encouraging and loving role models. They show their children how to be the kind of man that sons should be, and the kind of men their daughters deserve to have.

Remember that you teach your children how to treat other people, as they watch how you treat others.  They observe what is important to you and emulate that behavior.

I especially want to honor those men who have stepped up to the plate to be the “Dads” in other children’s (not their own biologically) lives.  You have taken on that responsibility, when many others have walked away.

And, to those single mothers who are both Mom and Dad, there are no words. You throw the ball, provide for, and love like no others.

Happy Fathers Day, 2015!

Graduation Night 43 Years Ago

Where does TIME go?

Though it does not seem like yesterday, it certainly does not seem quite possible that I could have graduated from high school 43 years ago tonight at the tender age of 16.

By now, I was at Disneyland in Anaheim, California for Grad Night 1972 with thousands of other graduates from all over the area on a date with a boy in my class.  It was awkward, at best.

I have lived a long time by some people’s standards. At nearly 60 years of age, I am an old woman to those graduating this year. I suppose I felt the same way about my aunts and uncles and others in their 50s and 60s.

I do not think that I would ever go back to relive that time of my life, if given the chance. It would be nice to have been better equipped to handle the challenges that life doled out. But…

I would not be the woman I am today had I lived differently.  There are just some things that must be learned along the way in the exact timing it is given.

When Things Become Too Familiar

carcinoidAbout four years ago, I began to have some episodes that I allowed to pass without consulting a physician.  I was able to explain them away.

In April 2012, however, I found myself in the emergency room (ER) with an intestinal blockage, and thus began my journey with a new knowledge of what was going on with me.  I had been diagnosed with Stage 4 Carcinoid Cancer/Neuroendocrine Tumors (NETs).

The reality of the matter is that I had been living with this for years, probably several decades. The difference was that now I knew about it.

Knowledge can be a wonderful thing.  It can also be something that we want to ignore, because what we know is not always pleasant.  Then we make a choice to turn away, or face it head on.  It is not an ideal that I always care to visit.

This weekend, I had a situation that was way too familiar to me. In fact, it is the second of episodes I have had in the past few months, with similar symptoms to what I experienced several years ago.

As much as I would like to “ignore it and hope it goes away,” I chose to write to my specialist and explain the situation.  I suggested that we not wait until September for my next CT scan and follow-up appointment, which would have been a year since my last. I am awaiting a response.

I do not relish the idea of the possibility of having to go through more surgery, but I recognize that it may be necessary. I also realize that I have to face my life head-on, though sticking my head in the sand would be easier in some ways.  Unfortunately, by ignoring it, I cannot guarantee that it will go away.

I have to keep reminding myself that I am LIVING with this disease.  That will require me to be ever-vigilant in paying attention to what my body tells me, and not letting my mind lie to me.  That is one familiar behavior I do not need to repeat.

A Day of Anniversaries

Coral:

Two years ago, I wrote this piece about anniversaries. Tonight, on the eve of the same day, I am ever amazed how connected we are in life, and how death makes us realize the connectedness.

On this eve of my mother’s passing, four years ago. I realize just how much she impacted my life. Without her, I would never have learned to be as strong as I am facing each challenge life throws my way.

Originally posted on BEYOND THE CHALLENGES OF LIFE:

Today is one of those days that I am so busy that I can hardly take time to think, let alone write.  So, may I just say that today marks a very important day on many levels.

Today, June 14, 2013 is:

  • Flag Day, which commemorates the day that our country adopted the flag of the United States in 1777.  Oh, how I loved being the one in school and in Girl Scouts who was able to carry or raise the flag.  (“Why Flag Day Is Important to Me”)
  • My late Uncle Morey’s birthday.  I always thought it was “cool” that he would be born on Flag Day.  He was the biggest influence on me in my decision to join the military.  He was a true patriot and was the reason I wanted to join the Navy, as he had served in the Navy in Hawaii.
  • The two-year…

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