Maya Angelou said, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” The healing power of sharing my cancer story compelled me to found WhereWeGoNow for survivors creating inspired healing, wellness and live out loud joy. I'm also a blogger at The Huffington Post, an inspirational speaker, a support volunteer with Cancer Hope Network, a member of the Carol G. Simon Cancer Center Oncology Community Advisory Board, a patient educator with Pathways Women’s Cancer Teaching Project, an interior decorator, a wife and mother, and a former very stressed out lawyer. Learn more about WWGN and me here.
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This morning I want to share my first downloadable eBook with you:
The WhereWeGoNow Gratitude Gems Series; Your 30-Day Guide to Jump Starting a Lifetime Gratitude Practice.
Writing this book was a labor of love. I firmly believe gratitude is the single most important building block for reinventing life beyond cancer. Without gratitude, there is no hope. With gratitude, anything is possible.
The book includes 30 days of inspirational gratitude quotes and tips to get your gratitude practice on its way. Plus, I've included a Special Bonus - access to my Gratitude Gems video slideshow. It's three minutes of calming reflection and relaxation and is sure to get you into an attitude of gratitude.
The price of the book and bonus video is $15.00, but I'm offering it at a special introductory price of 25% off until May 31, 2013. Make sure to enter coupon code WWGN to get your discount.
Buy now and download today to get started. (If the PayPal button didn't show up in your email, follow the link to the post on WWGN.)
This morning's post is a love letter to you. Every time I publish a new blog post, it flies directly to your inbox the next morning. You are a very special member of WWGN and I want to let you know how much I appreciate your taking the time to read my blog posts every week. It's a privilege sharing with you. (If you're reading this post and you're not on the email subscription list, please sign up here.)
Because I have two email lists, I wanted to make sure you were aware of the other one. If you haven't done so already, please subscribe to the WhereWeGoNow newsletter and updates list. At present, my newsletter comes out every two weeks on Sunday mornings. When you subscribe, you'll also get a free copy of The WhereWeGoNow Manifesto - 20 Intentions for Your Inspired Survivorship and a special coupon code for breast cancer survivors who need help moving their bodies again after treatment. You'll find the sign up box right below this article.
If you're into social media, you can find me on Facebook and Twitter, too. That's where we're having conversations in real time!
Tomorrow, I'm going to publish another blog post letting you know about my new eBook! I'm so excited I finally finished it and sent it out into the world. I hope you like it and I will tell you more about it in my next post!
Thanks again for being an active member of the WhereWeGoNow community. I'm so happy you are here with me creating inspired healing, wellness and live out loud joy!
This is a reprint of a blog post I originally wrote for The Huffington Post:
How would you react if your husband presented you with an individual volume of New Jersey Superior Court Reports as a present? I bet you'd be as stunned as I was.
To be fair, my husband and I are attorneys (I'm retired), but I still had absolutely no idea why he thought I'd be excited to receive a book of reported New Jersey legal decisions as a gift. Had he lost his mind?
"Don't you remember your reported case?" he asked as I held volume 230 in my hand.
With no memory that I had a reported case, let alone the case's name, I fumbling through the Table of Cases looking for something familiar. Finally, my husband couldn't stand it anymore, "Hurley v. Hurley."
I flipped to the page and stared in amazement. There it was -- Deborah A. Woodbury -- my official lawyer's name. Seeing it reminded me what a big deal a reported case is to an attorney. It truly is impressive, especially when you're on the winning side of the decision (which I am proud to say I was). Yet, somehow, I had forgotten all about it.
As I pondered how I could have forgotten something that was once so momentous, it struck me that somewhere along the line, my "new normal" as a retired attorney had become simply normal. I was no longer living in that intersection between what had been and what was now. Forgetting was a side effect of moving on into the next phase of life.
Of course, retiring from the practice of law wasn't the only time I created a "new normal." I went from single to married, and childless to mother of two. When I look back at the young, single woman I was all those years ago, I don't recognize her. I also don't miss her because I quickly embraced the "new normal" of married and parental life.
It's a lot harder to settle in when the "new normal" is thrust upon you. Years ago, I had no choice but to end a completely dysfunctional relationship with my father. That "new normal" was a lot healthier for me, but a struggle to manage while he was alive. Even so, I was able to forego his funeral without a hint of guilt because the complete disconnect between us had become the norm.
I also struggled with infertility and miscarriages before the birth of our first child. That was the first time I faced the "new normal" of betrayal by a formerly healthy body. Later, when I was diagnosed with cancer, that same betrayal, anger, loneliness, stress, and fear became the "new normal."
Here's what I'm working on: making the "new normal" of life beyond cancer just plain normal. Whatever your struggle, I know it's possible to move beyond constant comparisons between what was and what now is with the right tools. Here's what it's going to take:
Time: It takes time to get used to the shock of a "new normal." This is true even when we've chosen it (as anyone with a new baby can testify). When we have no control, it's even harder. The trick is to be in the moment and avoid projecting out beyond right now. You've got enough to deal with without convincing yourself that it's always going to be this hard. Time moves us along and teaches us to accept.
Support: No one should face sudden, catastrophic change without a strong support system in place. Knowing that you're not alone and other people understand what you are going through heals and strengthens you
Expression: Facing a "new normal" creates stories that need to be told. Join a support group or an online community, or share with a friend who "gets it." The more you tell your stories, the more you take your power back and find your footing.
For me, it takes one more thing to move beyond the "new normal" to normal. It takes a partner who stood beside me through all of the above and never wavered. I'm still stunned he remembered my lawyer's moment of fame and searched out that book for me. It's the single most romantic present he's ever given me and a reminder that I can make the "new normal" just plain normal.
Last week was officially Look Good...Feel Better Week. In honor of this program which helped me so much, I'm rerunning a post I wrote exactly a year ago on my experience. My one piece of advice: If you have the opportunity to be a part of this program, sign up now. You will be very glad you did.
As a graduate of Look Good ... Feel Better, I want to share this with you because I've experienced the power of LGFB. Initially, I didn't think it would help me feel better because I didn't have chemotherapy or radiation. I felt ugly when I looked at my naked body, which no amount of make-up would fix. I was about to be proven wrong.
Sitting in a room with other women, many wearing scarves and wigs, I felt out of place. My survivor's guilt really kicked in when it was assumed I had chemotherapy because of the length of my hair, which has been short since high school. As a Stage 0, DCIS cancer patient, I didn't want anyone to think I suffered more than I had. Despite my mastectomy and TRAM flap reconstruction, without the chemotherapy and hair loss experience, I felt like an outsider.
The instructor walked us through make-up application and the conversation flowed freely. As we talked and shared, we became girls enjoying girly things. I fit right in. Then the group encouraged the woman sitting next to me to take off her wig for the first time in public. Because I genuinely liked short hair, I was very sincere when I assured her how chic she looked.
Sharing such an intense moment drew us all into a sacred, caring circle - to which I definitely belonged. It was one of the first experiences that taught me I was not alone. It also was the first time I used my cancer experience in order to help someone else. For more on that part of the story, read my earlier post about that day here.
If you or someone you know is going through treatment, let them know about the Look Good .. Feel Better program. Do you have a Look Good ... Feel Better story to share?
In an earlier post, I asked, "How can you talk about survivorship without talking about sex? More importantly, how can you talk about celebrating an inspired survivorship without talking about sex?" My answer to both questions is: You can't.
With stunning frankness, Musser takes us through her personal breast cancer story. She begins the book by sharing practical tips for getting through the diagnostic and treatment phases, including how to assemble a support team, why it's good to cry, and how to manage fear, meditate and breathe.
Of course, there is little time for thoughts of sex and sexuality during the early phases of cancer. It's after, when we come out of the fox hole and feel like "damaged goods" that sexuality becomes a painful subject.
Many women are ill-prepared to deal with the libido, body image and desirability issues compounding their "new normal." Musser's three-part prescription takes you through the inner work necessary to find your inner sexy. Next she teaches you how to communicate your needs to your partner and, lastly, provides sexuality practices and exercises that expand intimacy and pleasure.
Whether she is talking about libido, intimacy, dating after cancer, fertility and family planning, self-love, forgiveness or how to feel sexy, Musser's message is the same. Don't be afraid to focus on your heart, mind, spirit and sexuality. When you do, you awaken to healing, joy and self-celebration and rediscover the magnificent, sexy woman within.
WhereWeGoNow does not provide medical, diagnostic or treatment advice.
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