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 WWGN. I'm an inspirational speaker, contributor at CURE and Positively Positive, Huffington Post blogger, support volunteer with Cancer Hope Network, member of the Carol G. Simon Cancer Center Oncology Community Advisory Board, patient educator with Pathways Women’s Cancer Teaching Project, wife and mother, and a former very stressed out lawyer.
"Think of your head as an unsafe neighborhood; don't go there alone." – Augusten Burroughs
The room was barely big enough for two chairs, a desk and a box of tissues.
Every Tuesday at 10 a.m., I found myself there. Usually, I showed up with a specific issue I needed to talk about. Sometimes, I was just there to be there. Every time, except one, I left feeling better than when I walked in the door.
I’ve been very open about spending an entire year in therapy after my mastectomy. Without a doubt, it was the single best thing I’ve ever done for myself. I don’t know how I could have navigated cancer without it and cannot overstate this . . .
Click here to continue reading and learn how therapy saved me.
Have you been in therapy or are you considering it? Let's talk about it.
After three years and eight months of blogging at WhereWeGoNow about my "new normal," I've come to the realization that cancer is just the latest of the life struggles I've had to face, move through and learn from.
To take me into this new phase of life, where cancer is no longer the center of my universe, I felt I needed a new vehicle. That's why I created DebbieWoodbury.com, where life isn't all about cancer. Instead, it's about living the life you have to the fullest.
We're all survivors of something (probably more than a few things.) For me, survival is greater than mere existence. It's about creating healing, wellness and live out loud joy (via yoga, mindfulness, gratitude, walking, writing, juicy relationships, interior decorating and all the other "little things" that make life worth living.)
WhereWeGoNow isn't going away and will continue on as a vibrant, caring community. I'm not done with cancer (will I ever be?) and it's certainly not done with me. But now, at DebbieWoodbury.com, I feel free to actively explore and expand beyond cancer.
This is your invitation to come over to DebbieWoodbury.com and check it out. If you like what you see, make sure to subscribe to my mailing list. And, if you have ideas or suggestions about interesting topics, make sure to let me know. (You can always reach me at email@example.com.)
There's so much to talk about, and I'm honored to continue to share inspired healing, wellness and live out loud joy with you wherever you find me!
If you're in the USA, I hope you enjoy the three-day 4th of July weekend. There is a special place in my heart for small town 4th of July parades and fireworks. They bring me back to my youth and are just the sweetest things.
Which, in addition to the fact that I just celebrated another birthday and watched my niece get married last weekend, could have me feeling pretty old right now.
And yet, I'm feeling empowered and very much HERE, as in present and alive. Maybe it's the love and family high I'm still riding from the wedding. It was such a joy to celebrate with my HUGE family. (My mom, her nine kids, our eight spouses and 17 grandchildren!)
Sure, time is relentlessly marching on. That young mom in the picture is me with my first baby and niece. Twenty years later, those two beautiful babies are brilliant, accomplished, gorgeous women who continue to fill us with love and pride.
Some part of me wants to rail against aging, but I just can't. Instead, all the love and positive vibes of my niece's wedding have me focused on gratitude.
I'm grateful to be here to see another niece married, and grateful for my large, close family - any one of whom I could call if I needed anything and know they would come running.
Which brings me to my brother, the father of the bride. I'm beyond grateful for the moment I shared with him at the reception. After he spoke beautifully of his love and devotion to his daughter, I had to tell him, with tears in my eyes, how I wished I had had a father like him. He hugged me tight and reassured me that I always had a big brother in him. Which made us both laugh, because I'm his "big" sister.
And that's the point, isn't it? I had a lousy father, miscarriages, infertility and breast cancer. I'd be lying if I told you I've never felt deprived, unloved and just plain screwed. But, when I look around and see all the wonders of my life: husband, children, brothers, sisters, mother, nieces, nephews, friends, dancing at weddings, birthday kisses, fireworks, small town parades and the many other joys I'm so grateful for, I tear up a bit and laugh.
Enjoy and be grateful for the "little things." They are the things that create live out loud joy and get us through the big things (like a lousy father, miscarriages, infertility and breast cancer.)
And, ultimately, they are all that matters.
In deep gratitude and wishing you much joy,
PS: Someone at the wedding had the brilliant idea of taking a picture of all nine of us - which I don't think has been done since I was 14. My mom and niece joined my five brothers, three sisters and me. It strikes me that we hit quite a few of my simple secrets from You Can Thrive After Treatment and How to Build an Amazing Life After Treatment. We practiced gratitude, created a sense of wonder, took every opportunity to laugh, practiced mindfulness, and moved our bodies (there was a lot of dancing!)
Photo by Cris Woodbury (dear friend, sister and mother of the bride!)
For me, the opposite of scarcity is not abundance. It's enough. I'm enough. Brene Brown
I admit it. I have a scarcity mentality. You'd think I worry a lot about money (sometimes I do), but the resource that strikes fear in my heart most often is time.
As in "there is never enough time."
"I didn't get enough done today."
"How am I ever going to get it all done?"
As I've gotten older and experienced real problems (cancer, anyone?) I've started asking myself different questions:
Why is it difficult for me to relax and enjoy what each moment brings?
Why do I resist trusting myself and knowing that I always manage to get done what needs to get done?
Why do I view new opportunities with anxiety, rather than looking forward to them as blessed adventures?
The answer to each of these questions is: FEAR.
Big, bad, ugly FEAR. FEAR that I'm not enough. FEAR that I will eventually fail miserably. FEAR that, FEAR that, FEAR that......
Hey, what if FEAR is just a bad habit? What if FEAR is merely a conditioned response drummed into me long ago when I was highly impressionable?
What if FEAR is just a feeling and not reality?
What if FEAR that I am not enough is a load of you know what?
FEAR stops me from saying "Yes" to myself. And, when I find the courage to step up, FEAR stomps on the joy of putting myself out there to experience something new.
FEAR makes mindfulness impossible by dredging up needless worry.
FEAR is great in fight or flight situations, but entirely useless when your life is not actually threatened. Imagine getting into a roller coaster if you really believed you were going to die. Would you even show up, let alone get in and strap yourself into the seat? I think not.
No, it's nervous energy that lets you push your boundaries and gets you into that seat. It's nervous energy that expresses itself screaming and laughing all the way up and down, up and down, UP, UP, UP and DOWN, DOWN, DOWN. That screaming and laughing is mindfulness in its purest form.
When I was six, I remember the fun and nervous energy of appearing in my first (and last) play. I was Mopsy in Peter Rabbit. That cutie-pie standing next to me is Danny Allegro (who played Peter Rabbit to rave reviews.) I remember his mother taking our picture and I remember the joy of being a kid and doing something new and fun.
This leads me to what I'm up to this week. On Saturday, April 5th, I'm giving the keynote address at the 5th Annual Blood Cancer Conference of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, at the Great Wolf Lodge in Mason, OH. I've been practicing my talk for weeks, I've got my plane tickets and I even bought a new dress. I'm fending off a little FEAR, but mostly I'm very excited. I'm relying on nervous energy to make me a better, more creative, transformational speaker, and put me squarely in the joy of the moment - just like it did when I was six.
Are you in the Cincinnati area? If so, come say hello. I'd love to meet you, so have no FEAR and walk right up and introduce yourself! For now, why not leave me a comment below. Let me know how you deal with your FEAR, and tell me about one or two things you're doing to live a FEARless life.
WhereWeGoNow does not provide medical, diagnostic or treatment advice.
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