U is for an Unstoppable, Unabashed Life

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YESTERDAY’S SIGN: Business cards arrived.

TODAY’S SIGN: A search in Google for “Unabashed Me” led me to this post–my own–written more than three years ago.

It has been four months since I resigned my position with the company I had been with for nine years. I have been dragging my feet to jump into “doing my own thing” as a life and career coach,  consultant trainer, and speaker.

I have not been feeling unstoppable or unabashed of late.

REALITY CHECK:  I have sheltered myself these last few months from the unstoppable and unabashed life that is at my core.  The hiatus is over.

I needed to stumble upon this post today.

BEYOND THE CHALLENGES OF LIFE

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Unstoppable.

I haven’t often found that I could gather the momentum to be such a thing.  And so I stopped.  Time and time again.

Dead in my tracks.

Granted, I defined success by the standards that had been defined FOR me by others’ beliefs. And I am being reminded on a daily basis that the only one stopping me is me.

I want to be unstoppable.

That does not mean that I have some unrealistic expectation of myself or my value in this world.  It simply means that I want to get to a point in life where I live unafraid…unyielding in a sense that I am resolute to my purpose.

An unabashed life.

No embarrassment.  No shame…in doing what I am meant to do. Saying what I need to say.

This past week I received several comments from participants in recent workshops:

“Coral provides her students and all those…

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Funk(ing) the Dumb Stuff on an Anniversary

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The longer we live, the more apt we are to have days that remind us of life’s events.

Anniversaries of things we would like to remember, or wish we could forget, will stick with us.  Some of us are better at remembering those dates than others.  Anniversary dates of birthdays, weddings, divorces, being hired or being fired, accidents, other days that simply have some sort of impact on us and our lives, both big and small, become a month, weekly, and (dare I say?) daily occurrences, especially as we approach our golden years.

Some of these days coincide with normal holiday seasons and, if the event has been particularly challenging or painful, we never look at the holiday or month or season quite the same. As we anticipate the anniversary of the event, the grey clouds of doom and gloom seem to hover over us, and we can dread the very act of waking up to face the days ahead.

We can get caught in a funk.

If this funk were the music of the band, Tower of Power (ToP), then it would be a lot more fun. But this is the kind of funk that sucks the very life out of you.

I have been approaching this funk for about six weeks now, as I foolishly continue to recall or ruminate on the dates, and remember situations and stories that take me back to April to July of 2012.

Today, I asked my sister, Sonja, if she knew what today was. She remembered, yet I proceeded to mention that this was the date four years ago that I was informed of stage 4 diagnosis with neuroendocrine tumors (NETs)/carcinoid cancer. He said the prognosis was “six months to a year, two if lucky.”

I cannot even begin to articulate what it is like to hear those words. It changes the world, as you know it. There are a few days where you are in a complete state of shock, trying to wrap your head around the knowledge, most of the time in disbelief. Then you have to move forward somehow. I did not know how I was going to make that happen, and nearly made a decision where there would be no moving forward.

But I did move forward and have now come to this four-year mark after diagnosis.

But have I truly moved forward?

My sister may not realize it, but she kicked me in the ass today.  We all need it from time-to-time.  She held a verbal mirror in front of me, and I had to take a hard look at myself.

“Yes sis”…she knew what day it was.

“I don’t focus on that though.” 

And then she knocked me over.

“You showed me to let go and never look back, to keep moving forward because that is where our future resides…You taught me to never fear the moment…”

At that moment, all I could think of is, “I did?” 

Inside, I felt like a fraud.

Presenting the image of having it all together…

…and asking others to see beyond their own challenges is certainly much easier than going through the pain of moving forward.  Even if others do not know it, because I can talk a good game, I know it. And the couple of people whom I let in to see the pain, and fear, also know it.

Thankfully, they will call me on it, when I need it. They do it with love, but just as directly and compassionately as I do it with my clients and students…and with them.

Yes, today is an anniversary. It has been four years since I hear some bad news that changed my life. The events leading up to it were painful, scary, and confusing. The months following were challenging on many levels, including my choice to stand up to a doctor that I did not believe had my best interest at heart.

But, I must let go of the internal hold these dates have on me, because I am holding on to the fear, anger, and pain of those days, weeks and months from four years ago. It has been insidious; so much so that I did not realize it.

I am alive. I live with neuroendocrine tumors. I have had surgeries, and more CT scans, MRIs, monthly injections, and blood work than I can count.

BUT…I am ALIVE…and my future lies in moving forward.

In the words of my sister:  

“…it’s easier to preach what we know to be true…, but difficult to apply to our own lives…Logic and emotion collide and we…are paralyzed to apply it…We feel empowered (however) to help others…”

I do not know when I ever taught her any of the lessons she taught me today. But she does understand me, and we are very much alike.

Today, I move forward into my fifth year after diagnosis. The future. And I am eternally grateful for those who have stood by me, understood me, and loved me every step along the way.

As far as the “funk”…I think I will take a lesson from (ToP), and “funk the dumb stuff” from now on…

© Coral Levang 2016

 

 

Always thank your Nurse – sometimes they’re the only one between you and a hearse!

It is not easy for many of us to ask for “Help!” Nurses help even when we are not able to ask for it.

This post is a great read by blogger, Ronny Allan, who also lives with Neuroendocrine Tumours (NETs) — I spelled it the British way on his behalf. :-)

In this post, he shares his admiration and thankfulness to the nurses who have assisted him on his journey. To all the nurses who have helped me, AND put up with me, I echo Ronny’s words. THANK YOU, ALL!!

Ronny Allan - Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer

international nursesI had minimal exposure to nurses throughout the first 55 years of my life.  I did spend a night in hospital when I was 16 having been knocked unconscious in the boxing ring. Bar the odd mandatory injection, I avoided both boxing and nurses for many years after that.

You may remember I discussed how my cancer was diagnosed following a fairly innocuous conversation at my GP’s Surgery in May 2010, see blog post Diagnosis – I’m no longer in control’.  That nurse was professional, thorough and she clearly went the extra mile for her patients.  Liz is now on my Christmas card list with pressie as a reminder to her of my grateful thanks for sending me down a different path in the game of chance that is life.  I often wonder where I would be now had she not ordered the ‘just to be sure’ blood test that ended…

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Mothers Day Lessons: Learning to say, “I love you”

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Author’s Note:  Today I wanted to share with you three things I wrote –one for today, one last year, and one from three years ago. Thank you for taking the time to read all that I share from my heart.  

I overheard a  conversation  yesterday in which someone commented on “the obligatory phone call.”  I felt a sense of sorrow having heard it. I understood the need to act like a dutiful child, when I  was angry at my parents and the rest of the world for dealing me some crummy “life cards.”  I wondered if the person engaged in the conversation would understand what I wrote this morning in…

 “Mom gave the gift of life”

Last year, I remembered the last Mothers Day that I had with my own mother five years ago.  There had been many Mothers Days over the years that I had missed having spent with her after leaving home at the age of 18. Having been there with her on the last Mothers Day of her life was a special moment for me…

“Mothers Day Without My Mom”

Each year spent without being able to call my Mom is a reminder that she has been gone for nearly five years.  I cannot say that it “gets easier with time.” But what I can tell you is that there is not a day in my life  where I do not celebrate those moments that I used to take for granted. It really hit home for me on the  first Mothers Day without her, when I wrote…

“The Best Gift”

I hope that someday there will be a sense of reconciliation for those who continue to hold onto the anger, sense of obligation, and the hurt they continue to clutch to their hearts. Learning to love someone in spite of the hardships is certainly not easy.  We are not even sure what that is supposed to look or feel like.

But when we look to find those soft-spots in our hearts, and reach out in love, however awkward it may be or feel, there is a peace that can surpass all understanding. It will open up the world to receive more love that we knew possible. It all starts by saying…

 

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© 2016  Coral Levang

Photo credits: Pixabay; No attribution required, Public Domain

 

 

I am still alive and kicking!

It has been two months since I last posted.  I suppose that kind of behavior does not a blogger make. Yet, there are always times when we have to step back and reassess, and figure out where we are going and what we are doing.

That is where I have been. Where I am. The good thing is that I am still alive and kicking and have not gone anywhere.

In these next few months, I will be looking at my blog, and changing the focus.  I will also be launching other sites, as I learn more about what it will take for me to be more “with it” in today’s online world.

I also promise to check-in here more often during the changeover.  The plans are not yet definitive.  But then, many of you know I am a learn-as-I-go kinda gal.

I appreciate all who continue to stick by me as I learn and grow, and continue to try to take the world on by storm.

Lessons of Winter Solstice

According to WebProNews, “It happens every year between December 20th and the 23rd, the first day of winter – the Winter Solstice…” when the “sun reaches its most southerly declination of -23.5 degrees…when the North Pole is tilted 23.5 degrees away from the sun.”

This year it happens on Tuesday, December 22nd, at 04:48 UTC, which is 8:48 PM MondayPacific Time (PT) here in the Northwest United States.

So today marks the shortest day and longest night of the year. With all the hustle and bustle of the upcoming holidays, I am not sure that most even pay attention to this fact.

For some of us, Winter Solstice is a day of hope.

Both literally and figuratively, I am one that likes light. Though I am not much of a sun worshiper, I do like it to stay light longer into the evening. I also like to see what I am facing, so that I can prepare for what is to come.

Light feels like a smile upon my soul. Knowledge feels the same to me.

Tomorrow will shine just a bit more light than it did today. I am hopeful that I will also be open to learn a bit more than I knew yesterday.

I am grateful for Winter Solstice and the lesson it teaches me each year.

“We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.” ~Plato

Copyright © 2015 Coral Levang

Christmas Memories

This week, it will be my 61st Christmas Eve and Day on this earth. Certainly some holidays have stood out more than the others. Not all were filled with tidings of comfort and joy. But there have been several that hold some of my fondest memories.

I went to Redeemer Lutheran School and church in my first and second grade years. I was five when I started first grade, never going to Kindergarten.

We put on a Nativity pageant, and that first year in 1960, four months after turning five, I was the angel. With my celestial attire of a white cotton sheet, and wire hanger wings and halo wrapped in tinsel garland, I delivered my first lines on stage: “Unto you a child is born.”

There were a couple of childhood years that were magical, and were my favorites–Childhood Christmas Memories from the Early 1960s. Being a “big sister,” to my first sister, Sonja, was part of the magic for me. She arrived in 1962.

Christmas 1965 was one of the years that I was on the Lawrence Welk Christmas show. Thanks to YouTube, I can watch this clip and see my father, brother, sister and I. There are glimpses of a family still intact. Even though I knew the “truth” about Santa, I still see wonder and joy in my 10-year-old face.

My daughter was born in September 1975. I had very little money. I bought her these two little cloth dolls–boy and girl–that were the closest thing I could afford to a Raggedy Ann and Andy. By 1978 they were so raggedy, and had been washed so many times, they were lifeless. But oh, how she loved them, nearly as much as I loved her.

Sometime in the 1980s, I went back to California to visit around the holidays. Ours had been a tense relationship over the years.  That one year, she asked me if I had been to “Candy Cane Lane.”  I was not quite sure what she meant, but we got into the car–just the two of us–and she drove around for us to look at the Christmas light displays in and around our area. It was one of the most magical moments I remember having with my mother in our adult years.

Christmas 1999/New Years 2000 was the season I went to England and Scotland with a backpack and stayed in youth hostels. It was probably one of my favorite Christmases ever! I was in Glasgow for Christmas Eve, and Perth, for New Years Eve. I spent nearly three weeks with strangers, and it was the most fun I think I ever had during the holidays.

Christmas 2001 was special because of a reconciliation. It was the first Christmas spent with my grandchildren, who were nearly five and two years of age at that time. I will never forget the feeling of my grandson crawling up on my lap that first Christmas. We have all missed out on so much, and I pray that more reconciliation will allow the special bonds of family to be renewed one day. But I will never forget having that magical moment

Christmas and New Years 2006/7 was the holiday I spent with my friend, Julitta, and her husband, Per-Erik, visiting them in Sweden. I arrived early in the month so I could be there to celebrate Julitta’s fiftieth birthday. I lived in Sweden with them for about five weeks, and we made so many memories. It was probably one of the best five weeks of my life. They truly are my Swedish “family.” (Julitta is from Poland; Per-Erik is a Swede.)

This year, amidst life’s challenges that seem to face so many of us, let us all find some joy and memory-making moments in this season.

I look forward to telling you of those special moments soon!!

 

 

 

 

Mirror, Mirror…

pretty-woman-635258_640I remember a wise person in my lifetime who said, “When you have an extreme reaction to or dislike for a person, where you find it necessary to let others know how much you despise him or her, it usually means that you see something in that person that reminds you of yourself.”

When I first heard those words in my early adult years, I vehemently denied that to be true. Truth be told, I had a few choice words about the one I now consider to be a sage, decades later.

I saw this person as “full of self,” and showed my righteous indignation with my relentless “How DARE (fill-in-the-blank)?” I continued to tell my story of how I was wronged to anyone who would listen. Of course, it was always from my perspective, as I pointed out each and every flaw of my nemesis.

It was my own ego that kept me telling this story–and others like it as I saw myself as a victim–over-and-over again.

As I continue to learn and have shared this similar lesson with others, I admit that I can now better appreciate the wisdom shared with me decades ago, and wish that I had been willing to get to know this person. I would have spared myself many other uncomfortable life’s lessons, if only I had been willing to seek to truly understand more.

There will always be times when we will hear words that seem harsh to us, especially when challenged to take an honest look at a situation. Of course, we all come to these moments from a perception that has been framed by our own individual experiences in life…just as others do.

But just as we look at others with the judgment we can so quickly dole out, we must be willing to look in the mirror and concern ourselves with what it is in the reflection that is so similar to what we say we dislike in another.

Once we can look in that mirror without the anger, and begin to own what we see and learn to be kinder to ourselves, we may find that there are more opportunities to learn and grow from others who are much like us.

A Sunday morning in Hawaii

HI SunriseIt was a Sunday morning, December 7th, 1941, much like today, and around 8 a.m. when Japanese planes attacked the American Naval Base at Pearl Harbor in the Hawaii Territory. President Franklin Roosevelt went on to say that it was “a date which will live in infamy.”

That surprise attack killed more than 2,300 Americans, and it destroyed the battleship, U.S.S. Arizona, and capsized the U.S.S. Oklahoma. Other ships were sunk or damaged, and more than 300 U.S. aircraft were destroyed or damaged. The property and personal loss was immeasurable. And no one was prepared for it.

The following day Congress declared war on Japan and its allies, and in a few short days, war was declared on Germany and Italy. America entered into four years of what would become the “deadliest military conflict in history,” claiming more than 60 million lives around the world, including 420 thousand Americans, according to Wikipedia.com.

I have often thought about that day, which was 14 years before I was born. I heard the stories of war from my uncle who had served. I knew of the heartache of the battle-worn civilians who worried, and waited, and worked to support the war efforts. These stories and people are the reasons I chose to serve by joining the military at a time during the Vietnam conflict when it was no longer popular to do so.

HI Arizona MemorialI lived in the Pearl Harbor area for two years, 38 years after the air attack. I havestood on the Arizona Memorial, remembering those who gave their lives on that day in history, as 1,102 of them continue to “lie in state” in their sunken battleship coffin, the ocean floor their grave.

As a military musician, I have played many times on military bases for the Colors ceremony at 8:00 a.m. I can only imagine what the day would have been like for all, including those military musicians who also felt the fear and terror, as they played the National Anthem on their military station in the Hawaiian Islands before running for cover for their lives.

I think about those we send off to war, even today. Some might say that they serve (or have served), because we were attacked. Knowing what is right or wrong for us to do as a nation or as an individual is something that cannot predict until we are placed in a situation that requires us to make that decision.

We must always remember that there is a price to pay for war, just as there a price to walk away from those who attack us.

Today, on the eve of the 74th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, let us never forget those men and women, military and civilian, who lost their lives that day and in the years to follow. They are the ones who paid the ultimate price.

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