Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A Confident Necklace

A few months back, I bought a big, chunky bright yellow necklace (shown above) as a part of a costume. Some may say it's ugly, but I like my "Target Special" plastic adornment. Come to think of it, it looks like a Betty Rubble necklace...sorry, I digress.

So, I have often held this necklace in my hand and pondered wearing it out of the house. Until today, I have always put it down. It just felt too big, too bright, too scary. Would people think I was a fashion disaster if I wore it? Would people secretly snicker behind my back after I passed by? Would I look like a fool in my Betty Rubble necklace?

Today, I wore the necklace out of the house. To a meeting, to the store, to the post office, to work and to another meeting. A few people made comments like "that's a necklace!" Compliment or snide comment? Who knows. But here's the fun part...I didn't care.

Why is it that today was the day when I was feeling confident enough to wear the bright boulders around my neck? Why did I have enough self-confidence today to do what I wanted with little to no worry about other people's opinions? Why today?

As I asked myself that question, it occurred to me that I have spent years of my life talking about balance. Finding peace with the roller coaster of life. Understanding that sometimes things are going your way and other days you can barely find your way out of your own front door.

Why, then, have I left my own self-confidence out of this equation? Why must I strive for balance, acceptance and understanding about all of life's cycles but not my own level of confidence? Why have I always assumed that confidence is something that should be static, steady, unchanging? What in life is static, steady and unchanging anyway? Where did I get this idea--some guru? Myself? Oprah?

I don't know where I got the idea that self-confidence should never waiver but I am now rethinking this idea. My necklace has proven to me that my level of self-confidence varies--should I A. be upset about this fact or B. just accept it? I'm going to have to pick B.

Thank you big, yellow, chunky Target Betty Rubble necklace. You made me rethink a thought I never even realized I had. I promise, I won't judge myself on the days where you just look intimidating. At the same time, I will enjoy the days when I am confident enough to wear you without fear!

Lessons come from amazing places, don't they?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


I forgot I had a blog. Seriously. Sadly. For real.

I have been so busy the nagging thought in the corner of my mind that tells me to blog just up and went on vacation.

Working on 2 big grants for next year in between speaking engagements and other projects. Oh, yea, and trying to have a life and spend time with hubs. Haven't even seen my family in weeks! (Unless you count the ones who show up at my workshops:)

Not complaining, just explaining.

I am working really hard to not be stressed by all that is going on. I am trying that "stay in the now" thing and so far, I'm doing pretty well. I am trying not to say to myself "I am so busy" but instead just focus on one task at a time. That's all I capable of anyway so why bother projecting myself into the future and worrying about it now. How Zen of me, huh?

Anyhoo. Sorry I forgot about my blog for a minute. I'll be back in full force after this week. (I hope)

In the meantime, I provided you with an awww photo above. Two of our friends came to visit and brought their Greyhound, Twilight. She is so sweet and, after some snarls and growls, Emily decided she was sweet too. I think Emily actually recognized the family resemblance! Emma being a Whippet, she was a miniature version of Twilight and would often walk back and forth underneath Twilight's belly. It cracked us up. Hence, the photo above.

With love and Gratitude!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Love Hurts!

So, I tried out the old stand up comedy thing last week. Ouchy. Me not so goody.

It's way harder than it looks...and it looks really hard to me! I think some people are just born with that kind of "set up, stick a joke" brain. I am not, apparently.

Don't worry, I'm not mad at myself. I know there's a possibility I will get better with practice. There's also a possibility that I will learn a productive lesson about my weaknesses! That would be ok too. Right now, I'm just a wide-eyed child in a world of comedy wonder where the people are 10 feet tall and I have no idea if I will ever grow up that big. It's a real fish out of water thing and I like it. It's shaking up my insides.

So, I go again tonight. Last week, I didn't really do much with the health jokes. Mostly I just went for the obvious and made fun of my town, the people in it etc. Tonight, I'm going in with some health jokes. I may have someone tape it. Not because I'm gonna rock but because I think it would be entertaining to watch a non-comedian try to do comedy. Or would it just be painful??

Either way, I haven't decided if I'm gonna let someone tape it yet. If I do, I may just upload it to the blog tomorrow. See, that's how much I love you guys...

Until then, face your fears and do something that makes you want to puke. (Misery loves company, and I'd like some right about now!)

And speaking of videos, I now have a Mac and am attempting to edit my 2 talks "Life in the Death Bed" and "The Permanent Me". I'll let you know when I get those up and on my website.


Thursday, September 11, 2008

An Old Love Made Anew

I mentioned in my post about "The Permanent Me" (which is now on sale on DVD at CFRI.org) that I was beginning to explore the value of using my past actor training to make my talks a little more dramatic and hopefully more powerful. Well, I have held true to that promise and man, has it been a blast!

Last week I teamed up with an awesome Duke Palliative Care Doc, Tony Galanos, and we did a real live improv for about 100 nurses. We were the entertainment for the night so it had to be fun but we couldn't miss the opportunity to convey some messages. Dr. G and I were super nervous (OK, I was, you'd have to ask him how nervous he was feeling) because we had never rehearsed and we had no idea if we were about to b.o.m.b. The crowd was great and we had them rolling with our silly improvs about life in the medical system. BUT, at the same time, we took pauses in between each improv to check in with the audience and see if they learned anything from watching the improv. I was thrilled to see that we weren't just having fun--they gleamed some really amazing lessons from the exercises. Win, Win!!!

I have really been riding that wave of joy for a week. It felt so great on so many levels--we had fun, we had a message and...maybe best of all, I was collegues with a doctor. That huge patient/physician barrier had to be torn down so we could work together as human beings. The audience was struck by it, this rare sighting of a doctor and patient with no sense of "superior" and "inferior." I had to pinch myself to make sure it was real. I'd say, at the risk of exagerating, it was magical. Thank you Sandi for booking us! Thank you Dr. G for going on that wild ride with me and making it so much fun!!!

This has taken me in two directions. 1. I am hungry for more opportunites like this--to improv, to act and to bring my messages to the right people through fun and humor. 2. It has made me more passionate about openeing the curtains and humanizing mdicine, as I talked about in a previous post. A friend told me recently that Quakers (I hope that's right) do not have titles such as "Sir" or "Maam" and they do that because they do not see one person as being any better or lesser than the next. These titles alone put us in positions that take us out of our own humanity. Add to that all that we are taught about the titles and you have...well, me. I'm a good example of a perfectly competent human being who has believed for her whole adult life that she is inferior without any alphabet soup after my name. I deny what I know and replace it with the opinions of others because I see them as better than me. I do not recognize my worth because I let others tell me what I am worth based on our society's labels.

There have been many gifts of this work I am now doing. One of them is in reassessing the ideas I have about my value in relation to those around me. The improv with Dr. G was a huge, huge step on this journey to walk beside people, not behind or in front of them. I am so grateful.

In addition, I have challenged myself creatively. Tonight, I start my first stand up comedy class. I feel queasy every time I mention it! I do not see myself as a funny person. Certainly not the kind of funny where you stand alone on a stage telling joke after joke. Ah, I feel sicker.

So why I am I doing it? I have had a dream for years to write my own one woman show. I want it to be about the illness journey but I want it to be universal enough and funny enough that it's not just for patients or professionals. I want to reach everybody. Gulp. So, tonight I have to present 2-3 minutes worth of material. I am terrified and excited. If it goes ok, if it's not just the worst thing anyone has ever seen, I am going to video it in its developement and upload those videos here. We'll see!!!

I hope you all have a wonderful week and do something that makes you queasy too.
With Gratitude!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

A Three-Legged Table

Pictured above: B, left and Emily, right at our commitment ceremony.

Last week, my step-dog passed away. He was an old boy...171/2. He was a big dog and by the time I met him 3 years ago, he was already well into his geriatric years.

This dog, B, did not play with toys. He did not give wet kisses. This dog did not sleep in the bed or cuddle close on the couch.

He was not my dog until 3 years ago and I feared his loss would not be painful enough for me--how would my husband feel if I did not properly mourn the loss of his faithful companion?

Last week we lost B and now I find myself feeling lost too. I did not know until he was gone that he filled the entire house with his life-force. I did not know that a dog with no toys, who rarely kissed or snuggled, could take up so much space.

I did not know how much I loved my step-dog until I felt what I feel now as I miss him. The world looks different without my step-dog, B. It is quiet and lacks structure. Our family was once a four legged table. Me, my hubbs and our two dogs. Now, we are a three legged table and I feel unstable. There is no replacement leg for our family table and we are learning how to live life leaning to the side.

There was never a dog like B, I can assure you. There will never be a boy like B again. I am only happy to have had 3 years with such an extraordinary dog. He is missed.