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Seven Thoughts on Embracing Change

"Reinvention" is a euphemism for a much blunter word that scares many of us. That word is "Change." 

It's easy to hate change. We cringe, gulp, deny and fight it every step of the way. Rather than accept it as the only true constant in life, we perceive it as foreign and unsettling. "Change" has a bad reputation.

Let's try to break free of this mind-set. Let's embrace the word "change" and its positive cousin, "reinvention" by looking at change through different eyes:

1. "Without change, something sleeps inside us, and seldom awakens. The sleeper must awaken." Frank Herbert - Change wakes us up and makes us re-evaluate our priorities and choices.

2. "You must be the change you wish to see in the world." Mahatma Gandhi - Change isn't only something that happens to us, we can and must be proactive if we want to make change for the better in the world.

3. "If you don't like something change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude." Maya Angelou - If you are enduring difficulties, you always have a choice as to how you approach your situation.

4. "Change your life today. Don't gamble on the future, act now, without delay." Simone de Beauvoir - So many of us put off making change out of fear of the unknown. The bottom line is all we have is today. If you want to make a change, do it now.

5. "Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next." Gilda Radner - Gilda faced terminal cancer and came to embrace life as  a "delicious ambiguity." Her ability to face change and all the fear that it brings will always inspire me.

6. "If you realize that all things change, there is nothing you will try to hold on to. If you are not afraid of dying, there is nothing you cannot achieve." Lao Tzu - We fear change because of the pain it can cause. Think of what you could achieve if you relinquished that fear through acceptance.

7. "Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world." Harriet Tubman - Amen!

Survival > Existence,

Related Posts:

The Rhythm of Living and Embracing Change

Casual Friday - The Flow of Life

Six Truths I've Learned About Resilience

Six Things You Need to Find Your Divine, Female Creative Power of Reinvention 

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Casual Friday - The Most Astounding Fact About The Universe

In last Friday's Casual Friday post, I quoted George Harrison, who said, "Try to realize it's all within yourself, no one else can make you change, and to see you're only very small and life flows on within you and without you."

I thought it was a fitting way to end my Courageous Women with Cancer Week by taking a look at this from a different perspective. Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson was asked, "What is the most astounding fact you can share with us about the universe?"  He answered in part, "We are part of this universe; we are in this universe, but perhaps more important than both of those facts, is that the universe is in us, ... Many people feel small because they're small and the universe is big, but I feel big."

Are we "only very small" or are we "big?" You decide for yourself by watching the video and listening to the entire answer to the question. My answer: Dr. deGrasse Tyson's response brought tears to my eyes and made me understand that I am big and I am very courageoous. 

The Survivor's Nest - A Very Special Courageous Woman with Cancer

Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear. Mark Twain

I'm doing something I've never done before with today's Survivor's Nest post - I'm talking about a person. This is a courageous woman with cancer who doesn't even have a nest of her own - she is homeless right now and has been for the past several months.

Last fall, we agreed to meet at a little coffee shop in Hoboken, NJ. It was a bit of a ride for me and I am not a fan of city driving, but I really wanted to meet her. When I got there, she was already sitting, with her cup of tea, looking very relaxed. Just a short time before, she had given up her apartment in Vancouver, sold her belongings and traveled to various places within the US, to wind up here with me in Hoboken. After my jittery ride, I was very impressed with her easy adventurousness.

As we spoke, she revealed that her drive into Hoboken had been scary. There was tons of traffic, sudden lane changes and complicated directions which were less than accurate. She was stressed out about driving around in strange cities, in someone else's car, trying to get from A to B. I watched her walk away from me after we said good-bye, alone and unsure of where she had parked her car. All I could think was how much more impressed I was with her courage now that I knew it didn't come easily.

I'm talking about Terri Wingham and today is her birthday. She is 33 and presently in Giseny, Rwanda, where she is volunteering at an orphanage. Why is she there? Remember my post two days ago, Courageous Women with Cancer Part 2? In it, I talked about women I've met who have taken their cancer experience and created a new normal of power and meaning. Well, Terri is the epitome of that ideal. 

Prior to her double mastectomy, Terri was a young executive powerhouse. After cancer, she quit her job to find a more meaningful calling. She signed up for a volunteer program in Africa, which led to her present adventure: a trip around the world to volunteer on almost every continent. Her dream is to create a foundation so other cancer survivors can volunteer overseas and benefit as much as she has from her "Adventure of Hope."

To date, she has volunteered with cancer patients in Viet Nam and India. After her tour in Rwanda, she will move on to Peru, Madrid and Costa Rica. Although Terri doesn't have a nest to call her own right now, she still needs to fund her travel. I'll be donating again today as a birthday present to a woman I greatly admire. If you can, please consider supporting this courageous woman with cancer.

I could never change my life the way that Terri has. But, the specifics of her life aren't the issue. What matters is that we are all living a new life post-cancer and each day, whatever it throws at us, we face it courageously. We each have a story to tell and each story is inspiring. To hear more of Terri's story, I'll leave her to tell it in her own words.

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Courageous Women with Cancer, Part 2

It takes a lot of courage to release the familiar and seemingly secure, to embrace the new. But there is no real security in what is no longer meaningful. There is more security in the adventurous and exciting, for in movement there is life, and in change there is power. Alan Cohen

Yesterday, right after I posted my Mindful Monday post about Courageous Women with Cancer, I decided to pronounce this Courageous Women with Cancer Week. Why not, right?

As we all know, the courage needed to face cancer doesn't end once treatment is over. In fact, once treatment is finished, we're left with a challenge of even greater proportion - how to live a life forever changed by cancer.

Being diagnosed with cancer and facing sickness, mortality, body image issues, anxiety, loneliness, stress, and anger changes a person. It also changes a life. The truth is that re-entering our old, "normal" lives just isn't possible. Whether we like it or not, our lives have morphed into the "new normal."   

Over the past three years, I've met women who've faced the changes of cancer and constructed a "new normal" of power and meaning. Lockey Maisonneuve, a personal trainer, is now the moving force behind MovingOn rehabilitative exercise program for breast cancer survivors. Barbara Bair was a high school English teacher who loved her job and did not want to retire. Now, she cherishes her work with the Pathways Women's Cancer Teaching Project and Operation Bling. In fact, each and every woman I've met through the Pathways Women's Cancer Teaching Project amazes me in her dedication to educating medical professionals to see patients as whole women with complicated lives above and beyond their cancer.

If you're asking yourself "Where do I go now after cancer?" or any other life changing event, for that matter, you are not alone. Change is scary. Transitions are often painful. But I have never experienced a transition (and I've gone through quite a few) which didn't ultimately enrich my life. In fact, it was the moment I created my Gifts & Losses List that I knew I was moving out of the darkness of cancer and into the light of my "new normal." The power of making that list has never left me.

It can be extremely frightening to end up on a road you never thought you'd be traveling. But you can embrace the "new normal" and create a life of adventure and excitement. I know you can, because I did. We are all  courageous women with cancer and in the many changes we have and will experience, there is great power.

Happy first day of Spring! It's a perfect day to throw open a window and courageously make some changes! Let me how your life has changed post-cancer. Do you find yourself reacting more courageously to change because of your cancer experience? 

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Mindful Monday - Courageous Women with Cancer

A friend sent me this poster last week, with a short message, "There is a great blog topic in here. I know u will find it! :)" I immediately laughed when I read it and then, of course, it got me thinking.

Over the past three years, I've met many women with cancer, in person and virtually. They all have one thing in common - an uncommon depth of courage.

It takes courage to hear a cancer diagnosis and not actually fall on the floor in a heap. It takes courage to tell your family and friends and be more worried about how they are handling it than you are about yourself. It takes courage to show up for tests, treatments and surgeries, all the while battling your "flight or fight" reflex. It takes courage to heal the emotional and physical scars of treatment and somehow accept the "new normal" of life beyond cancer.

When faced with all we have been through as women with cancer, it's very probable that our first instinct was to "run like hell." It certainly was for me. But, we stood our ground and did what we had to do. That's bravery, that's courage and that's how we live our lives as women with cancer.  

Because of the courage I've discovered in myself and the other women with cancer I've met, I'm inspired to keep living courageously every day. Thank you to my friend who sent me this poster (one of the bravest women with cancer I know) and all of you. Now, get out your cymbals and do one brave thing today!! 

We must build dikes of courage to hold back the flood of fear. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts. Winston Churchil

Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear. Mark Twain

Faced with what is right, to leave it undone shows a lack of courage. Confucius

Who could refrain that had a heart to love and in that heart courage to make love known? William Shakespeare

One man with courage is a majority. Thomas Jefferson

All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them. Walt Disney

One isn't necessarily born with courage, but one is born with potential. Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can't be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest. Maya Angelou

Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. Steve Jobs