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Each day offers 1,440 minutes of choices; every minute of this day requires a decision to choose peace over chaos, joy over despair and love over all other negative emotions. You don't have to decide alone! Join the B Here Today community--learn with us and share your experience, strength and hope about being present to ALL your moments. Enter your email address below to receive weekly articles, free resources and TONS of inspiration!

Sheros: Olivia Newton-John, My Friend Helshi

The June 19 edition of People was on top of the stack of magazines in the waiting room where I “relaxed” before my recent mammogram.

I had time to read the entire article that caught my eye and was probably the disconcerting reason that the magazine was on top of the pile: “Olivia Newton-John’s cancer returns–how she’s staying strong.” The copy read, “25 years after first facing breast cancer, the star, 68, learns it has spread.”

Definitely not the grabbing (no pun intended) coverline a gal should see before heading in for the annual smash job but I’m glad I read the article. In fact, I brought the magazine home (with permission!).

Her cancer returned

Two months ago, Newton-John announced that she is facing breast cancer again. This time, the disease has metastasized into her sacrum, a bone in the lower back. According to her doctors, taking 25 years to reappear is good news. The bad news is that metastatic breast cancer is incurable and in this case, because of the location, causes an extreme amount of pain.

My takeaway from the entire article is not the details about the cancer, however. It’s this quote from her husband: “We both have the same unshakable belief that she’s going to have a wonderful success story,” said John Easterling. “We’re not trying to be positive. We have an absolute knowing that we can turn this around.”

Here are the things that Newton-John has working for her, I believe. 1) Her husband is a natural health entrepreneur, according to People, 2) Her sister Rona called her Pollyanna because she always sees the good in everything and focuses on the positive and, 3) She gets treatment on two continents–the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness & Research Centre is in Melbourne, Australia.

I love that her husband (they’ve been married nine years) says, “We share a complete world. We can appreciate the joy in nature and the little things. We wake up and start each day with gratitude and we are able to maintain a sense of humor.” Their closeness is apparent in the photo that accompanies this post (First printed in People, the pic carries both the sweetness and the fierceness of their love.).

Speaking of a sense of humor . . .

Helshi in the middle flanked by Becky and me

My friend Helshi Lockwood was also recently diagnosed with breast cancer. To say we were all relieved to hear that it is stage 1A with clean margins and lymph nodes is a tremendous understatement. But then, we also know that Helshi–I call her one of the original Amazon women–is as tough as they come and probably flat-out told God that she would only do cancer if it was manageable.

That’s the way my 6-foot-plus friend rolls. She, like Newton-John, has a faith that is completely convicted and totally grounded. She knows what she knows and that’s all there is to it.

Helshi has the sharpest wit and will not hesitate to state what needs to be said. And, she will tell you that she doesn’t give a shit who needs to hear the truth.

I have to assume that Newton-John has an incredible life force. I know for a fact that Helshi’s force is strong like Luke Skywalker; I don’t know many other 76-year-olds who can get a cancer diagnosis, take a pill for it (so very grateful for no chemo or radiation!) and then take her Golden Retriever on a two-mile walk.

While I have huge admiration for Olivia Newton-John and wish her the very best, I love me some Helshi Lockwood and want her around forever!

Oh, and in case you were wondering, my mammo results are all good!

Photo courtesy of Robert Lynden

Why Detachment is a Good Thing

detachment

Remember last July, when the driver of a truck deliberately plowed into a crowd of people in France, killing more than 70?

News and social media rightly reported the incident as terrorism. I wrote in my journal about feeling immense sadness mixed with detachment. I also wrote that I felt a little guilty about the detachment part.

Since last year, these events have become all too common; in fact, one day recently, drivers mowed down innocent people in both London AND France.

Don’t feel guilty for protecting your feelings

Detachment is not a bad thing. In fact, it’s healthy. Sometimes your heart needs a break; it needs to be soft without getting pulled into trauma.

There are times when you just need to breathe and detachment allows you to center, to breathe and to focus on love.

I’m learning to slow down and lessen the judgment on myself. But I have to tell you that focusing on love doesn’t seem like enough when whack-jobs are terrorizing people.

Pema Chodron says patience is the antidote for aggression.

Does anybody else cringe at those words because they’re just a smidge too namby-pamby?

Here’s my challenge, maybe yours too.

I want to strive for higher consciousness every day. I want to help right the wrongs of the world. Can I do that when I’m detached?

Yes, I think we have to strike a balance between detachment, which is a form of self-protection, and stretching for answers that only come as a result of a connection with your higher power.

Detachment forms a barrier to the shock of each situation. The unfortunate truth is terrorist attacks will continue to happen.

How do we live peacefully when so much hatred and violence swirl around us?

I don’t pretend to know the answer to such high-level questions but I do know what keeps me from whirling off into morbid thinking.

I go inward. I dig deep. I make sure there is time in my time to sit quietly with my God. I pray for those affected and for their families. I pray that people in powerful positions find solutions that don’t include more violence and fear.

Sometimes it feels like I’m praying to the wind–and I suppose I am–but we each have to take care of our own emotions and reactions to the world’s transgressions.

We do the best we can. I let the mind of God, as The Daily Word calls it, enlighten me.

“When I become aware of the anxious or vulnerable feelings that accompany uncertainty, I pause. Even a brief pause helps reset my mind and opens it to greater possibilities.

“When the mental whirlwind has settled, my whole being is quiet and my mind is open to receive. In the mental space that I have cleared, Spirit’s guidance comes through.”

The mental space that I have cleared. Only I am responsible for how I approach each day. Detachment helps me see that events and circumstances don’t happen to me; I always have choices, even if those choices are simply how to respond.

Which brings me to the Bible verse included with the The Daily Word reading–it’s one of my favorites:

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God.” ~Romans 12:2~

Juneteenth: Freedom From Bondage

Juneteenth: Freedom From Bondage

Today is Juneteenth, the day that commemorates and celebrates Union soldiers who landed in Galveston, Texas in 1865 and emancipated Texas slaves, two and a half years after Abraham Lincoln abolished slavery.

Can you imagine an African American slave learning that she was free from oppression, that his chains were forever broken, that they could leave the plantation?

For some of us, imagining comes fairly easily if we’re still shackled to a hurtful relationship or a harmful behavior. Far too many of us hide behind personas because we believe others want us that way. We make choices that are not really ours because we don’t know what it’s like to choose without fear of being shamed or denigrated in some way.

The Rev. Dr. Irie Session, a Christian Church, Disciples of Christ clergywoman and resident pastor for New Friends New Life, a Dallas non-profit that restores and empowers trafficked teen girls and sexually exploited women and their children, spoke at my church yesterday. More accurately, she preached a rousing sermon at Cathedral of Hope, United Church of Christ, about freedom and how the very air of freedom is often silent.

Rev. Irie focused on the Bible text of Acts 16 that describes a slave girl “who had a spirit that enabled her to tell the future (Verses 16-26).”

As the story goes, the unnamed slave girl made a lot of money for her masters. But her spirit would not and could not remain silent (You can read the passages for yourself.) As a result of her expressing her true self, spiritual circumstances were arranged to later unchain and release all the prisoners locked up with Paul and Silas, the two men with whom she traveled.

We read all about their freedom but not the slave girl’s. We don’t even know her name. In fact, we never read another word about her.

What keeps you silent?

I believe the slave girl represents anyone who struggles to name the things that keep them chained. While today is Juneteenth, this idea of finding freedom from bondage goes way beyond African Americans to include all people of color, sexual orientation, sexual identity, gender or religious affiliation.

Rev. Irie asked, “Where in your mind are you experiencing oppression?”

How am I holding myself back with sabotaging thoughts of doubt or inferiority?

Am I afraid to speak up for fear of rocking the boat?

Could I be withholding or shaving off bits of my truth so that someone else looks good or remains unsettled?

In this post, the first one in six months (but I’m baaaack now!), I’d like to issue a challenge for you:

Go figure out who you are.

Do whatever it takes.

Then be that person.

No matter what.

Find, as Rev. Irie said, a way out of “no way.”

If you don’t, if you choose to remain chained to whatever holds you back, you are living beneath your privilege, she says, because “human beings were meant for freedom.”

Let freedom reign.

And Still I Rise

“And still I rise,” Maya Angelou nearly cries out the refrain in her achingly beautiful poem that feels wholly comforting to souls that wake weary these mornings.

I wrote Angelou’s words in my journal on January 16th, the day we celebrated the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. On that day, so many gave pause to honor the man whose eloquent voice rang out, “I have a dream,” in what seems a lifetime ago when considering today’s tumultuous times.

On August 28, 1963, when King called for an end to racism and for civil and economic rights, I’m sure many dared to hope as they hadn’t for a very long time.

And now, here we are, perched hesitantly on thin branches as the new president threatens hopelessness again. Oh God, I pray it isn’t so.

Maybe this 10-day-old period of rushed presidential edicts will turn into an eventual time of quieter order and understanding–miracles do still occur. In the meantime, we cannot ignore the real civil uprising that is occurring in cities and towns across our still-great nation.

The people need to speak. They need to be seen. They need to raise their voices against what seems at the moment like abuse of power.

Now is a time for care and caution. As a person in long-term recovery, I am not immune from rapidly accelerating thoughts that can lead to wrong action. I urge all my brothers and sisters in recovery to stay vigilant on their respective recovery paths and to stay “prayed up.”

Remember too that no one can take your joy or change you without your permission. Hear the rest of Angelou’s words:

“You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.”

In the Daily Word  on January 16, the passage about the word Dream, read, “I must act, pursue, and above all else, live in faith-filled awareness.”

I must remember that my life is about action now, not passivity laced with complaint. The latter was a part of my old life.

Today, I have a dream. I have a purpose. I will rise.

From James 1:25: “But those who look into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and persevere, being not hearers who forget but doers who act–they will be blessed in their doing.”

Here’s Your Dose of Much-Needed Perspective

On the same day last week, President Obama gave a classy farewell speech, the 85th Texas state legislature was sworn in and a 14-year-old girl went missing from my neighborhood. Instant perspective, right?

While two of the three events were history-making, one was terrifying. I don’t know the young girl–who was found unharmed and is safe–or her family, but I certainly sighed heavily when word went up on Nextdoor that she was okay. In those few hours of wondering, state and national politics faded into the background.

Perspective

While many in my state and in our nation are swirling in insanity and injustices–for good reason–a family frantically searched for their daughter and sister. I cannot imagine the stranglehold of fear that buckled them.

I don’t know the circumstances behind why the young girl went missing, but for about six hours during a late-afternoon and evening, a mother imagined every scenario and pictured every gruesome scene.

I know many, many families that can imagine, though, because every day they live with the circumstances of their kids’ drug and alcohol use. They live in abject fear of the one phone call that tells them their child is missing or dead.

Perspective

Our days find us scuttling from place to place, multi-tasking without totally focusing, constantly driving (literally and figuratively) while the cell phone with its many distractions is seldom more than a few inches from our fingertips.

Where are the children and teens? They’re tethered, but not to you. They’re distracted too, because their still-developing brains cannot absorb, sift, sort and process the thousands of stimuli floating to them electronically.

Again, I don’t know the story about why my neighbor was lost and her story is not really my point. My point is about the composite of young boys and girls who are lost, but not necessarily in a physical way. They crave our adult attention.

It’s tragic when their parents don’t see the hurt, the cries for attention. All too often, we lose young people to addiction and by then the adults in their lives are lost and hiding too, like two parallel lines that seldom cross.

These things give me cause for pause.

Perspective

I know that this is a hard week for many who are fearful of the impact a new presidency will have on the United States. We may indeed have some tough times ahead OR we could be pleasantly surprised. Time will tell.

For today, consider:

How are you showing up in this 24 hours?

Are you present or distracted with your kids and with your life?

While acknowledging that the details of the nation are important, where is your heart?

I find that the heart offers the very best perspective!

Photo courtesy of Victor Bezrukov