A Dying Woman’s Wish for Everyone

Sometimes we get caught up in or allow what’s going on around us to dominate our lives, then I read this message shared on Facebook reminding me of how sacred life is. Kerri, whom I do not know, crossed over in 2021 from brain cancer, her words touched my soul. I believe that the most soulful and authentic words come from the humbleness that comes with leaving our earthly life. Kerri spoke her truth and in turn inspires us to live whole heartedly and bravely. This is a very worthy read.

“If you’re reading this, this fu$king brain cancer probably got me.

But let me be crystal clear while I’m able: I did not ”lose a battle” against cancer. This is a ridiculous, steamy pile of horse shit that society has dumped on cancer patients. Western medicine, and Western culture, especially, is so uncomfortable talking about death that instead it created this “battle” analogy that basically shames people who die from cancer.

News flash: None of us gets out alive from this rodeo called life.

There is no shame in dying from cancer – or any serious illness. And it doesn’t need to be a battle. It’s a transition that each of us will go through. I was asked by a shaman, whom I spoke to after my second brain surgery, “Are you running towards life or running away from death?”

Whoa! That got my attention.

There’s a BIG difference. I got it wrong more often than not.

Don’t let fear fuel your choices. Live fearlessly. Run TOWARDS life. Don’t worry about what people will think. Trust me, it doesn’t matter.

Focus on you. Be true to yourself. Be your own best friend. People who tell you you’re selfish are not your people. If the voice in your head says these unkind things, get a new voice. Honor your mental health and seek out a good therapist with the same vigor you’d search for a romantic partner.

Speaking of, be intentional about cultivating friendships that lift you up. As those friendships grow and change, don’t overlook them while you search for that “great love of your life.” (No, I’m not suggesting you sleep with your bestie. But you do you!)

Another unhelpful message that we get from society is that we need a “love of our life,” as a romantic partner.

Single and childless when I was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, I looked around my life and came up sputtering and sobbing from the wave of grief washed over me. I thought I’d be doing this alone… no husband, no kids, no “great love.”

How wrong I was. At the first appointment with my neuro oncologists, one of the nurses diligently hauled in chair after chair for the great loves of my life who came with me that horrible day and many days after that.

I sat and listened while the doctor explained the 12-month treatment plan, focusing on my breathing, then looked around the room…. filled with great loves of my life: incredible women friends whom I had met at various stages of my life.

Surround yourself with people who contradict that unkind voice, people who see your light, and remind you who you are: an amazing soul.

Learn how to receive these reflections from your people. Because they are speaking the Truth.

Love yourself, no matter how weird and silly it might feel. Every morning, give yourself a hug before your feet hit the floor. Look deeply into your eyes in a mirror. Say to yourself, out loud, “I trust you.” That voice in your head might say you’re a dork. Ignore it.

As I prepare to leave this body and embark on this mysterious journey of my soul, I hope these observations from my deathbed are somehow useful.

What I know, deep in my bones, is that learning to love myself has led me to be able to say this: I’m so proud of how I lived.

May you, dear reader, feel the same when you head out on your soul journey, too. Until then, enjoy the ride. And always eat dessert first, especially if there’s pie!” Kerri Grote

Powerful Deep Breathing, Au Revoir 2021

A great way to improve your health is to create an intention or lifestyle adjustment. An intention gives voice to a way of life enhancement that aligns with your current style of living.

Breathing is a perfect function to change. It is much more than inhaling and exhaling, there are a lot of things that happen within our body that react to the way we breathe. Just like the difference between living unconsciously or consciously, how we take a breath impacts our health. The first breath we take when we are born is diaphragmatic and that is how we should breathe our entire life, but as we become adults our breathing becomes shallow. Shallow breathing increases our heart rate, blood pressure and a variety of unhealthy lifestyle conditions. One dimensional breathing allows about two cups of air into your lungs, diaphragmatic breathing allows about two or three more liters or twice as much air into your system, reducing headaches, hypertension, insomnia and muscle tension.

Typical breathing patterns are reactive, quick and shallow. Modern day lifestyles that prompt shallow breathing puts the human body in a cyclical state of stress. If you make this small lifestyle change, you’ll feel more at peace and energetic and your overall health will improve. The best and most effective way to counteract short, fast breathing is to train yourself to draw deep breaths through your nose, from your belly. Deep breathing doesn’t eliminate challenges in your life, but it does naturally calm you so you can handle whatever you’re faced with.

How breathing works:

“The trachea, or windpipe, is like the trunk of the tree,” Hoyt said. “From there, the airways divide and divide, like branches of a tree. At the end of a tree’s branches are leaves; similarly, the ends of the bronchioles have alveoli also known as air sacs, where gas exchange takes place.”

In the air sacs, freshly inhaled oxygen is passed to the blood, which is then pumped through the body; the air sacs also absorb carbon dioxide, which is then removed from the body through exhalation.

The diaphragm, a thin muscle that separates the chest and abdominal cavities, tightens and pulls down as you breathe in, opening the chest cavity and allowing the lungs to expand. To breathe out, your diaphragm relaxes and moves upward, pushing air out. Dr. James Hoyt, Pulmonologist

A Deep Breathing Journey That Changed My Life

As the stress increased in my career, I developed a heart racing problem. As I became more anxious, it would trigger my heart and it would race throughout the day, at times it pounded so hard that it scared me. Then about 10 years ago I learned the difference between shallow and deep breathing. A group of entrepreneurs I was in learned how to breathe through our lungs and diaphragm, deep breaths in through our nose and how to force breathe the carbon dioxide out. This practice changed the way I breathe and has eliminated the heart racing, headaches, greatly reduced stress, brought mental clarity and its become a lifestyle routine that is a part of my better health regimen.

EBKids: Respiration inhale/ exhale jrespir021j4 390 by 300 pixels by Katherine D. Burgess 23rdof March 2006

The Teachers

Dr. Andrew Weil is a doctor who practices integrative medicine. I’ve learned him for years, he offers not only benefits but the simplicity of the deep breathing method for de-stressing and avoiding many health issues that come with shallow breathing. The deep breathing exercise that takes moments to learn is described at the end of the second video, the Tedx Talk by Max Strom.

Take a few moments to begin deeper breathing for your better health:

  • Choose a place to do your breathing exercise. It could be in your bed, on your living room floor, or in a comfortable chair
  • Don’t force it. This can make you feel more stressed
  • Try to do it at the same time once or twice a day
  • Wear comfortable clothes
  • Deep breathing will eventually become your way of breathing without thinking about it

The following benefits of diaphragmatic breathing have been medically reviewed by Debra Rose Wilson, Ph.D., MSN, R.N., IBCLC, AHN-BC, CHT — 

  • It helps you relax, lowering the harmful effects of the stress hormone cortisol on your body.
  • It lowers your heart rate Trusted Source.
  • It helps lower your blood pressure Trusted Source.
  • It helps you cope with the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
  • It improves your core muscle stability.
  • It improves your body’s ability to tolerate intense exercise.
  • It lowers your chances of injuring or wearing out your muscles.
  • It slows your rate of breathing so that it expends less energy.

One of the biggest benefits of diaphragmatic breathing is reducing stress.

Deep breathing is a natural, no cost practice that takes minutes to learn for a lifetime of better health.

HEALTH DISCLAIMER

This blog provides general information that discusses health and related subjects. The information and other content provided in this blog, or in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment.

Happy New Year

Unbecoming Who You Are Not, and a Nod to Women’s History Month

“Maybe the journey isn’t so much about becoming anything. Maybe it’s unbecoming everything that isn’t you so you can be who you were meant to be in the first place.” — Paulo Coelo

Becoming begins when we’re born when our brains aren’t fully developed and we are completely dependent upon the people around us. We tend to take on the characteristics of those caregivers to meet our basic needs and subsist. When we’re young and vulnerable we want to be accepted. Without understanding how they treat others, those closest to us most unfavorable traits such as hostility, lack of self esteem, anger and indifference can be absorbed into our “DNA”. Those traits reinforce adverse behaviors in ourselves such as low self esteem, self-criticism, fear and uncertainty.

The trick to unbecoming takes time, reflection and a huge dose of honesty. In my experience, the last part, honesty, is major. Being completely honest with ourselves takes us out of our comfort zone, but isn’t that where we need to go in order to peel away years of accepting, without question, who we are?

My story is unique but the path I took felt right for me. Unbecoming who I was has been a challenge and a joy. It began seriously for me when my mother passed away. I was fairly close with her so she was the caregiver I emulated most. A large part of my agreement to stifle myself was my belief that I needed her acceptance and approval. Then in 2013 when she died, I felt lost and adrift; I had no idea why, that’s when things broke open for me. I didn’t know who I really was, what I wanted, what I feared or what my reality was. As my “roller coaster” journey to self-realization began, I was eventually able to see that everything I did and how I saw myself was made by a former self I could no longer identify with. As time passed and the layers of the past fell away I began to feel at peace, happier and completely comfortable with the life choices I was making.

I would say that’s the key, when you feel complete peace, happy and comfortable, you’re on your way to unbecoming who you aren’t. When you step out of your comfort zone, letting go of what doesn’t feel right or good is a rite of passage for your soul. Connecting with your truth opens the door to a life that’s authentic and unique. It’s certainly not easy or something you can plan, it’s a matter of unlearning everything about yourself that you’ve just accepted. Just Imagine how much more meaningful your life will be when you’re living as the person your were born to be.

“That inner voice has both gentleness and clarity. So to get to authenticity, you really keep going down to the bone, to the honesty, and the inevitability of something.” – Meredith Monk

No one can tell you how to unbecome the person you aren’t or tell you how to let go of the ways that aren’t true to who you really are, but when you have the idea or notion of what’s possible, things will begin to slowly change and you will then allow who you really are to be liberated. Once the voyage to self authenticity begins, it will be your way of living for the rest of your life. Michael Bryant has quite a story to share of his brokenness and his unbecoming, it is well worth your time to listen.

Women’s History Month

Hedy Lamar was a glamourous, beautiful movie star, but she was also highly intelligent, ideas for inventions came naturally to her. The patent she filed with co-inventor George Antheil aimed to protect their war-time invention for radio communications to ‘hop’ from one frequency to another, so that Allied torpedoes couldn’t be detected by the Nazis. She was the ingenious inventor who planted a seed that would blossom into some of today’s most ubiquitous technology, including Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, cordless phones and cell phones.

To honor all the women I know and I’m connected with, whether you’re famous or not, your life matters, you are strong, empathetic and you make a difference. We are all “she-roes” in our own way.

Becoming Vulnerable – to Have Healthier Friendships/Relationships

Relationships are complex, challenging and a source for growth. Going into any relationship in a state of unawareness, guarded and carrying baggage comes from making the same choices over and over again which only leads to heartbreak and turmoil. Stripping away habitual behaviors to become open and vulnerable is the only way to experience healthier, happier relationships.

Without vulnerability, relationships struggle. Vulnerability is, ‘Here I am – my frayed edges, my secrets, my fears, my affection. Be careful – they’re precious.’ In return, it invites, ‘Oh, I see you there. It’s okay, you’re safe. And here – here’s me.’ It builds trust, closeness and a sense of belonging. Relationships won’t thrive without it. Karen Young

Being vulnerable isn’t easy, exposing our most vulnerable self is a lot of work and doesn’t happen overnight, it is a process that happens as we build confidence and certainty that it’s okay to be ourselves and genuine around others.

If you view relationships as a way to become a better person instead of a way to fill a void or to make you happy, they will function better and differently and all of the relationship stumbling blocks most people experience will eventually fall away. This is effective for all relationships, not just those of a romantic nature, love and vulnerability aren’t limited to romance, in fact, they are the true nature of humanity.

Healthy relationships are always growing and changing allowing for introspection, personal growth and the ability to shift our way of being. The key to healthy relationships is that they be backed with consciously chosen meaningful intentions where everyone is always seen and heard and feels secure knowing that no matter what is said or discussed, there are no judgments, conditions or opinions that will diminish the heart of the connection between you.

First, we should be in a strong and wholesome relationship with ourselves, that will open the door for healthier relations. As we become vulnerable we will learn that our happiness and accountability in a relationship is our responsibility. then we will lift the burden of expecting anyone else to care for our happiness and feelings. Unfortunately, a majority of relationships are unconscious, revolving around feeling safe and relying on the other person to make us happy, that is what we’ve come to expect and what strains most relationships. Healthy relationships of any kind are grounded in consciousness, unquestioning trust, giving space to each person to be authentic and feeling completely accepted.

Vulnerable relationships are different asking that we be conscious, aware of our emotions, actions and words and that we are able to be ourselves. I recently read a quote that helped me put into words the way I approach relationships now, it was something like we must understand that relationships are not to make us happy but a part of our lives for us to learn and grow from.

Redefining a relationship isn’t easy, no matter how mindful we are. For me, the best way I’ve found not to conditionalize a relationship based on past experiences is to work on myself towards well-being and self-confidence and always remind myself this is a different person and situation. Because I live in awareness, I make sure to treat people as I want to be treated. Being aware and conscious is a great part of vulnerability and a constant effort meaning we can never slip into unconscious oblivion again. I can suggest trying what I’ve discovered, ask yourself questions like what will happen if say this or how would I feel if someone treated me this way before I say or do anything.

A major factor that changed the dynamics and the type of relationship I have with myself was when I chose to create boundaries such as not letting what others thought of me or my choices interfere with what I decided or how I thought of myself. I also took another big step toward being true to myself by reducing the number of people I was surrounded by. For me, that was a fairly significant move that led to a smaller circle of trusted friends. Becoming conscious and vulnerable is going to bring an obstacle course with everyone in your life, this is where you will experience the most change and weed out those people who aren’t on the same page with you.

Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.”― Brene Brown

Being vulnerable is tricky, we can’t configure or manipulate our authenticity in any way to be accepted by another. We have to be happy with ourselves and then do the work at remaining genuine to attract the healthy relationships we deserve. Another major step is to not allow the years of self-protection from pain and toxic behavior that caused us to shut down and close people out prevent our progress to being a happier person.

Finally, I’d like to close with a video I watched and another part of the process of developing healthy friendships/relationships, Frientimacy: The 3 Requirements of All Healthy Friendships by Shasta Nelson

Thank you for reading my post, always live your life with your mind and heart connection in the forefront.