September 30, 2014

Dance On

Oh very young,
What will you leave us this time?
You’re only dancing on this earth for a short while — Cat Stevens.

She just turned 17, not even two weeks ago. I knew her because her name was Emma, like my daughter’s. She was on the Bradley Farm neighborhood swim team in Herdon, VA, with my daughters. She attended Fox Mill Elementary School with my daughters. She was “tan,” like my daughters. Some people thought she and my daughters were sisters because of their likeness in complexion.

It has been 24 hours since I learned that Emma’s young life was suddenly lost last week. And even though I am not familiar with her family, it has been all I can do to keep breathing. I share from afar her family’s unimaginable heartache that her beautiful smile will no longer grace our earth.

It was with firsthand and heartfelt knowledge of losing a son that my Dad shared a letter with me yesterday that he had written years ago. It was addressed to my sister who was a college student at the time and had just learned her good friend had died from spinal meningitis.

I cling to the repeating words: Dance On. 

I write you this not only for you but also for the mother and father and family of the young woman. For all of us, there is and will be no answer to the question why.

Sometimes I say to God “What are you thinking? Old people and bad people are supposed to die (not that we won’t).  But not infants; not those just ready to take life by the hand and the heart and dance.

Haven’t You thought of all the friends, loved ones, schoolmates, and family members crushed by Your too-soon gathering of these beauties, these darlings? Don’t You know what it does to those who are left when it is done too soon?

He answers me every time and says: 


“Dance on. Your job and your duty is to dance on. 

Even when it hurts and even when you have no legs, the answer is dance on.

You have no idea of what is next and to whom you must be a blessing.

You are left; you dance. 

These whom I have gathered are Mine now and you can’t begin to know the depth of my embrace for them or the tenderness with which I kiss them. 

Your job is to hold on and dance on so that you can bring the sparkle of My love to all you touch. 

And remember this above all: you alone are responsible for your dance and must dance as if you alone were responsible for all.”

I swear, every time I feel the unbearable loss, I hear this. And it feels stupid to say, but carry on. What is left after it all is your lovely part in the dance of life. And death isn’t a final curtain call; just a different rhythm to dance to.

Class of 2015 South Lakes High School

Class of 2015
South Lakes High School

Advertisements
May 2, 2014

Beautiful Minds

 

Many of us do daily battle with addictions, disorders or diseases invisible to the eye.

May is National Mental Health Awareness Month

In October of 1984, my pediatrician referred me to Strong Memorial Hospital. I was 17 and was to begin treatment for anorexia nervosa. My  first appointment was scheduled on Columbus Day. 

Years before I had an eating disorder, I knew something was wrong. My parents didn’t. It wasn’t until I literally began disappearing that I flagged their concern and protection. 

On the same day of my appointment, in the same hospital, my older brother died from a motorcycle accident. As loving and strong as my parents were, despite their overwhelming grief, they couldn’t save me from what was coming. Any more than my brother could be saved. As much as they tried. 

In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.” — Robert Frost

Fast forward through an 11-week inpatient program for eating disorders/major depression, college, career, marriage, children and divorce. Breast cancer. It wasn’t until I was I treated for breast cancer in 2012 that I understood that not only was my depression biological, it was the bigger threat. 

When I was diagnosed with cancer and scheduled for treatment, I found myself at the center of my family’s love, among friends, neighbors and medical professionals. Others worried; I didn’t

 

 I never worried that I wouldn’t survive breast cancer; with the support around me, I never felt more alive. 

 

After my final surgery last June, my circle of support dispersed. I crashed in a way I hadn’t since the initial months following my brother’s death. Somehow I knew that if something were to destroy me, it would be depression, not cancer.  It would be slow. It would be isolating. It would be humiliating. 

My parents who had been so relieved that I dodged the breast cancer bullet, were devastated when they recognized I was in trouble. I knew I needed help and I was transparent with them. In the weeks and months that followed we engaged in an ongoing discussion about my experience of depression.

Be You Bravely

Depression creeps, then blindsides.  

I binge, my emotional equivalent of hitting Life’s eject button. 

Shame strikes.

I retreat into isolation.

 It takes a leap of faith to emerge from self-loathing. Reentry begins with a phone call. I express myself. I find my breath. I brighten.

 

The hardest part of emotional pain is seeing it through when every instinct cries: DUCK!

 

My parents shared with me that at times they felt like they lost two children. Over the years, they lost me intermittently. They celebrated my ups, felt helpless during my downs. They grieved when I withdrew. They have been unflinchingly present, unwavering in their support, eventually accepting that they couldn’t fix it for me.

 

It has taken me a lifetime to realize that I need not be ashamed. 

 

Learning to be in full acceptance of myself is the only way through. I’m resilient. I’m creative. Every day I am grateful to be alive. I have people to turn to, a faith that catches and redirects me. I have daughters to adore.

 

Yoga is so much more than the best antidepressant available. It is my practice for life. 

 

The brain is a vital and powerful organ. The more I learn about mind-body connection, the more I understand and accept that all illness, physical or mental,  is a call for medical intervention and ongoing wellness strategies. It is a call for self-care, not self-blame. It is a call for community.

 

 

images-6

Hope lives in communities with open minds and open arms. 

Connection is the ultimate healing. 

 

Please support the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation
May 11, 2015

Beautiful Minds

In support of the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation’s Stop the Stigma campaign.

Bliss Blog

Many of us do daily battle with addictions, disorders or diseases invisible to the eye.

May is National Mental Health Awareness Month

In October of 1984, my pediatrician referred me to Strong Memorial Hospital. I was 17 and was to begin treatment for anorexia nervosa. My  first appointment was scheduled on Columbus Day. 

Years before I had an eating disorder, I knew something was wrong. My parents didn’t. It wasn’t until I literally began disappearing that I flagged their concern and protection. 

On the same day of my appointment, in the same hospital, my older brother died from a motorcycle accident. As loving and strong as my parents were, despite their overwhelming grief, they couldn’t save me from what was coming. Any more than my brother could be saved. As much as they tried. 

In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.” — Robert Frost

Fast forward through an 11-week inpatient program for eating disorders/major depression…

View original post 399 more words

August 5, 2014

Treat Me Right

We set the standard of how we want to be treated. Our relationships are reflections of the relationships we have with our ourselves — Iyanla Vanzan

 

224725_1029028724761_4523_n

I always had a crush on “the boy next door.” When I was 4, his name was Tommy. We were born a day apart, our Moms were inseparable, which made us besties from the beginning. I was spoiled early on with his undivided attention …  until our first day of kindergarten.

The first classmate I had to share him with was Lori …  all blue eyes and blonde hair. So much for wedding plans.

I believed in fairy tales — that happiness lies in the affections of a boy, a boyfriend, a husband, a hero.

The sweetness. The magic.

Then I grew up. It took me more than four decades to discover that real magic resides in how kindly I treat myself.

This relationship with self notion is simple, but not easy. And if you struggle with this too, it turns out you and I are not alone. The biggest struggle in life is to know, embrace, and accept ourselves, with all of our faults and imperfections, according to Psychology Today’s article entitled  The 50 Best Quotes on Self-Love

I share my favorites here.

1907793_10152553549197743_593512154135819813_o-2

— It ain’t what they call you, it’s what you answer to. (W.C. Fields)

— Most of the shadows of this life are caused by standing in one’s own sunshine. (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

— Scarcity of self-value cannot be remedied by money, recognition, affection, attention or influence. (Gary Zukav)

— You can’t build joy on a feeling of self-loathing. (Ram Dass)

— Your problem is you’re too busy holding onto your unworthiness. (Ram Dass)

— People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in their true beauty is revealed only if there is light from within. (Elisabeth Kübler-Ross)

— Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes. (Carl Jung)

— To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself. (Thich Nhat Hanh)

<

p style=”padding-left:90px;”>— Remember always that you not only have the right to be an individual, you have an obligation to be one.
 (Eleanor Roosevelt)

— Your task is not to seek for Love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it. (Rumi, thirteenth century Sufi poet)

bewithsomeonewhomakesyouhappy

 — Loving yourself does not mean being self-absorbed or narcissistic, or disregarding others. Rather it means welcoming yourself as the most honored guest in your own heart, a guest worthy of respect, a lovable companion. (Margo Anand)

— Self-love, my liege, is not so vile a sin, as self-neglecting. (William Shakespeare, Henry V.)

— To love yourself right now, just as you are, is to give yourself heaven. Don’t wait until you die. If you wait, you die now. If you love, you live now. (Alan Cohen)

— I celebrate myself, and sing myself. (Walt Whitman)

<

p style=”padding-left:90px;”>— Plant your own garden and decorate your own soul, instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.
 (Veronica A. Shoffstall)

— When you recover or discover something that nourishes your soul and brings joy, care enough about yourself to make room for it in your life. (Jean Shinoda Bolen)

 It is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves. — Edmund Hillary, the first man to climb Mt. Everest

 

joy-with-white

For the full list of quotes, go to:

The 50 Best Quotes on Self-Love

Love and appreciate yourself – you’re all you have
%d bloggers like this: