Bright Pink Octobers: Why I Care and You Should Too

By the end of this week we will be in the full swing of pink. As most people know, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

For 31 days, businesses and football players and marathon streets are decked out in bright pink.

More and more the month of October elicits a lot of emotion surrounding loss and victory. Breast cancer battles continue hitting closer and closer to home.

My maternal grandmother had issues with it. My aunt is currently battling breast cancer. Many of my friends have had loved ones affected by breast cancer in one way or another.

A little more than a year ago, my mom had a mastectomy on her left breast after being diagnosed at stage 0 for breast cancer. We were so grateful to have caught it early enough to not need radiation or chemotherapy. We had to make a decision within weeks of finding out the news regarding mom’s health. It was still a major decision to do a mastectomy instead of lumpectomy. It altered our lives. It changed the way we think about health and care for our bodies. It changed us.

There have been many hours in doctor offices and hospital rooms. We have done several surgeries and recoveries, hoping that it’s the last time we will ever need to discuss this with a physician or cancer center. But we never will stop talking about it. It is part of us now and will forever be a present topic in future check-ups.

When that word cancer comes alive, even if it’s a scare or not worst case scenario, it is paralyzing.

In that same summer of my mom’s diagnosis, my sister’s did the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. I went out to support them at different mile markers over the two day walk. It was powerful to see how many lives breast cancer touches. People are weakened by it, strengthened by it and every stop between. No one can tell you how to feel or what to feel. We all react differently and that’s okay.

A few years ago, I went to a breast cancer support group hosted by Bright Pink. Bright Pink is a national non-profit organization focused on prevention and early detection of breast and ovarian cancer in young women.

The support group was a chance to ask questions and share stories with young women who had either known someone with these cancers or had themselves gone through it. We bonded over doing an activity together. It was my first and last time ever doing a spin class after I threw up all over the floor following the workout. (That’s a story for another day.) It was an inspiring and eye opening experience to sit and share our stories, encouraging one another in awareness, prevention and treatment.

Now over a year later from our first set of doctor visits for my mom, we are taking breast cancer awareness Octobers rather seriously. We are also celebrating this life. To be aware, is to be alive…literally in some cases.

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Nama(state) of Mind: The Power of Yoga

I like to consider myself a yogi. I am willing to talk anyone into trying yoga at least once. I think it is perfect for balancing the body and mind. It is powerful exercise and demands focus on mindfulness. In a state of mindfulness, you can give yourself a break and keep your thoughts restful instead of overwhelmed at their regular pace.

Yoga is a great idea for men or women, no matter your flexibility level. I do yoga in outdoor park, group workouts. I do yoga at the gym. I do yoga at the beach. I do yoga in my living room, using YouTube yoga channels. It is that simple to find a space to do it anywhere.

The very first time I did yoga was at least 6 years ago now. I was invited to a small workout held on a town hall lawn, under a gazebo. I thought I would be distracted by the cars passing by or the bugs buzzing or just having to be quiet and still for small eternities.

The practice will stretch you. All it took for me was one class and I was hooked. I especially loved making it through an entire session to arrive at the final pose – savasana. This is how every class ends so you know it is almost over.

Savasana is probably my favorite yoga pose. It is also called “Corpse Pose”. You basically lie flat on your back and let your body rest limp on the ground. You focus on keeping your mind from racing and getting occupied. You just keep your head clear and in the moment. It is about deep relaxation.

Savasana always marks the end of a successful practice because not doing every pose perfect in yoga is fine. That’s why it’s called practice. So what that I can’t lift my entire body off the ground resting solely on my wrists. I do not need to. (Though, I am much further in that crow pose now than I used to be.) I can still keep practicing and learning and growing because yoga is about getting your mind right just as much as getting your body right.

Savasana is the most peaceful time. Lay in silence. Quiet the mind. You can cheer yourself on…”I made it through that.”

After I have said my final Namaste and pack up my mat to leave the session, I feel happy and accomplished and at peace. I feel that way even when the world around me erupts in chaos. 

Would you rather have the peace or the chaos?

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Your Reputation Will Follow Where You Lead

All in one day, I saw three people who have known me at different stages in my life: elementary school, high school and college.

It seemed crazy at the time and I had no clue it would happen. I decided to visit Soul City church in Chicago for the first time.

The first person, I had not seen in 10 years since my high school graduation. We met in 6th grade after I transferred schools. It has been SO long yet the second I walked in the room today, she told me that she knew it was me.

After the service, she came over to say hello and exchange hugs and “So what have you been up to’s.” We made our way to the lobby so she could show me around.

The second person’s face emerged out of a huge crowd of people filing out of the Soul City auditorium. Through the streams of people, we managed to make eye contact and immediately made our way to each other for hugs and “It’s great to see you’s!” We graduated from the same high school and again it has been several years since seeing one another.

The third person sought me out, having noticed me walking around to see the Soul City building. I had briefly seen her in the crowd earlier and thought, “Cute hair.” I had no clue I was talking about a girl who I went to college with until she found me later.

It was the most pleasant, unexpected experiences to have today which brings me to my focus.

You never know who you will run into and when. You never know when people will show back up again in your life. You never know how you might need them or be helped by them or have an opportunity to help them through something.

Our big world is so small sometimes.

Have you ever had this happen to you? You see a person you know in a random time frame of life. Of all the people, all the places in the world, we managed to be here in this same space at the same time. Had it been a few minutes earlier or later maybe it wouldn’t have happened but it did.

I personally don’t think things like that just happen. I think it happens for a reason. I don’t know the reason but it’s pretty cool when you find yourself in that kind of providence.

When it does happen, I want the kind of welcoming reactions I got today. I have always wondered, am I the type of person that people remember or forget? I want to be remembered and especially with gladness.

If you unexpectedly found yourself with people who had not seen you in a while, would they want to welcome you with open arms? Your reputation matters and it will always follow where you lead.

What kind of reputation do you have? What kind of life are you leading? What kind of legacy are you building?

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Let It Go

Last weekend I spent a lot of time getting rid of things that no longer serve me.

I went through every area of my home. 
Everything big or little. I put things in piles based on what I wanted to keep, throw away and give away. I went through every drawer and cabinet in my apartment.

I asked myself, “What can be thrown out or given away? What have I been holding onto that really no longer gives me life or never did? I have chosen to be left ONLY with the items that actually have purpose or bring joy.

Sometimes things are just taking up space in your physical space, mental space, spiritual space, etc. If I find I am talking myself into keeping something because I might use it later but I realize I have been saying that for more than a year…bye.  Life can be that simple sometimes so untangle it.

What [physical, mental, spiritual, relational] things are holding you back, that you need to let go of?

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