Sunday, December 05, 2010

A Box of Crazy

Like all chics, I love, love, love the holidays. And in the fall, you get the 4 best holidays of all time in order- each a little better than the last. (*insert warm fuzzy feeling here*)

Despite being super duper broke right now and being a single car family, I feel relatively awesome. The stress has been high, but I've been blowing off a lot of steam with friends and trying to pull myself out of my slump with new interests. My friends have been awesome- I had so much fun hanging out with them this week. Omg I had almost forgotten how fun college was until Friday night.

We just cut loose and acted like idiots. Total, total, total success in wiping out stress. Next event: Snuggie Pub Crawl.

For Christmas this year I want Santa to teach me to skate. Recently I've
become obsessed with roller derby, which you should check out. The chics are so ferociously killer. And so confident in their own skin. I love that about them. So killer.

So maybe that would be a good way to become more active again. Sometime last spring I just decided that I was tired of being in pain and that I just wasn't going to do anything that was going to make me hurt anymore. Besides yoga (which does make me hurt but is awesome anyway), I've
done minimal exercise. That has
worked out pretty well besides like 8 pounds I've gained since then. I know- it's tragic, but what do you do? I've already made the big mistake and the only thing left to do is get back on the wagon.

I found a chronic pain/fatigue "graded exercise schedule" that I'm going to try out to ease back into it. I'll let you know how it goes.

And if that wasn't awesome enough, I left you a video, too, of beautiful San Diego footage. Geesh you're having a great day!


P.S.- Have you watched the Gene Simmons tv show? I just love his kids. They are too sweet. Seriously.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Locally Sponsored Reading Rainbow Message

This is my buddy, Jordi. He wants to tell you about Geneen Roth. You know her as the author that I'm currently in love with.

But let me start by saying that the last 2 weeks have been chock full of nuts. I had like the best birfday ever! And turning 36 was fun, fun, fun! Both of our cars have broken down, leading to a big $5k in bills. I've actual traveled a bit for work, which has never happened before, and even though it was just down the road a bit, it was exciting and a bit heavy. I LOVE what was brought back from those trainings, but I sorta went into overload trying to make sure I implement it in my classroom. I fell behind on other stuff- cleaning, bills, extra stuff at work, working out, buying food at the farmer's market instead of the grocery store, yoga. And when yoga falls off the list of things to do, so does taking care of myself.

But wait- do you hear that? The sound of Thanksgiving vacation? Ahhhh, it is upon us. A breath of space and relaxation. Mmmmmm.

So I'm back with Geneen. We're going to send the day together today. I'm going to lay in bed and read until I take the time to love myself again. teehee

So yeah, life is crazy sometimes. I find myself saying that WAY too much, and I'm in the stage of fixing it where I am just realizing the size of the problem. So give me some time on this. On the other hand, it's kinda exciting to see where this will take me in life (and when). I feel like I'm in a transitional phase into something really good. So yay! For example, I realized, while walking my dog this morning (at 8:30 a.m! [On weekends we take long walks. She brings me the leash and sits by the bed, whining, until I get up. It's the cutest thing you've ever seen.]), that all through my childhood I was told, "Do it right or not at all" and that's exactly what I've done. That old thought has been rattling around in my brain for like 25 years! Holy moly, how did I not even realize how much I was listening to it? If I can't work out 3 times week, I don't do it at all. If I gain 5 pounds, I'm the biggest loser on Earth. Geesh. That's a crazy way to think.

So, that was a long post to just say you should read more books. Haha, just kidding. Love yourselves people!


Sunday, October 24, 2010

My advice to me today (and also you, if you want it)

Show yourself, every day, that you are worthy of love, by committing to the decision to make yourself a better person.

"It takes great effort to be effortless about anything." -Geneen Roth


Saturday, October 16, 2010

Happiness is a sunning turtle

Here's something you may not know about me: I love turtles. As a teacher, I have 2 in my classroom (and one "free range" turtle- don't ask), and they are just the best. The kids love them and learn a lot (about science and also general life skills) just by being about them, and also they are great company for me and keep me super chilled.

And so I'm here to tell you that in the 2 weeks since my migraine post, I have done a good job of taking care of
myself. I am spending a lot less time at work. It feels great to experience this, because not only a.) do I feel so much more relaxed and enjoy the space in my life, but b.) I really believed in myself and knew that I could do it if I put my mind to it.
So yay for free time!

Next order of business: fill the free
time with things I enjoy other than naps and hot baths. Things I love like yoga and painting and boxing. Everything in moderation, and slow and steady wins the race. So yay turtles!


Thursday, October 14, 2010

Run away with me, Geneen Roth

I'm reading the most amazing book right now- one of those books that I force myself to put down because I love to have a new page to read every so often. Just had to share a quote with you (and a video to boot)! These words ring so true to me.


"When you believe without knowing you believe that you are damaged at your core, you also believe that you need to hide that damage for anyone to love you. You walk around ashamed of being yourself. You try hard to make up for the way you look, walk, feel. Decisions are agonizing because if you, the person who makes the decision, is damaged, then how can you trust what you decide? You doubt your own impulses so you become masterful at looking outside yourself for comfort. You become an expert at finding experts and programs, at striving and trying hard and then harder to change yourself, but this process only reaffirms what you already believe about yourself- that your needs and choices cannot be trusted, and left to your own devices you are out of control...
You are not a mistake. You are not a problem to be solved. But you won't discover this until you are willing to stop banging your head against the wall of shaming and caging and fearing yourself. The Sufi poet Rumi, writing about birds learning to fly, wrote: "How do they learn it? They fall, and falling, they're given wings." -Geneen Roth, Women, Food and God

Sunday, October 03, 2010

In your face (well, more like in my face, actually)

"Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness." - Eckhart Tolle

I have this quote posted in my room, and I stared at it a lot this weekend. Over the last 3 days as I've laid in bed, it's been like a neon sign to me, forcing me to think about what I'm doing with myself right now.

This is day 9 of this particular migraine. When I write that, I have to think about that quote. It's been so long since I've had a migraine for more than a couple of days, I have to take
responsibility for this. I'm obviously doing something wrong.

I'm taking on too much stress. I'm not taking care of myself. I'm not letting myself rest when I'm sick or when I'm tired. My goal is to be connected to the Source every minute of every day, but it's been weeks since I've felt that way even for a second.

But I'm learning. I'm doing better today than I was yesterday.
And I'm alive. So there's still another chance, right?

Any advice?

Thursday, August 12, 2010


Hope is a belief in a positive outcome related to events and circumstances in one's life. In a religious context, it is not considered as a physical emotion but as a spiritual grace. Hope is distinct from positive

thinking, which refers to a therapeutic or systematic process used in psychology for reversing pessimism. The term false hope refers to a hope based entirely around a fantasy or an extremely unlikely outcome.

- Wikipedia

Things that give me hope:


Howard Zinn


and especially THIS article



4. The humanity of doggies.

5. This book:

6. admitting my faults

7. photos that capture something special and something ordinary at the same time

8. and good deeds! (like this)


Sunday, August 01, 2010

Oh. My. Gosh.

So, I'm perusing Yes! Magazine website (which I love) and I see the article "Toxins to be Pulled from Cosmetics." Back in my Gilda's Club days, I heard about this a lot. Our skin absorbs roughly 60% of what we place on it, and dumps it directly into our circulatory system. Depending on the size of the particles in the product, it can absorb within minutes or just seconds.

Now, I know what you're thinking: my makeup has toxins? Yes, indeed. In fact, when you look up some of the chemicals in your make-up, you are gonna die. Seriously, chemicals that cause cancer, asthma, reproductive issues and neurological disorders. And, get this: there's LEAD in your lipstick. Lead. Like-1950-don't-let-your-kids-eat-the-paint-chips-lead.
Also, most laws don't govern the cosmetic industry, which means labels like organic, natural, and pure really mean nothing.

I didn't believe it either, but after you watch the story of cosmetics (below), you 'll want to do some investigating on your own. If you're a cancer survivor like me, this is really important to know. Staying out of the sun is just one of the ways to prevent cancer. We have to be aware of what we're putting in our body, too.

I don't know about you, but I'm going make-up shopping today. :)


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

It's Complicated

So I haven't been to yoga in a while. Like probably for 2 weeks, maybe 3. Why? Well, that's the complicated part. If you asked me last week, I would've told you because of my back pain. Or because of the headaches. But if you ask me today, I will tell you that it was because I wasn't listening to my body and therefore I over did it.

That quote I posted just a few days ago about being happy right now instead of having "destination addiction," is what I'm talking about here, believe it or not. In a lot of ways, I've
overcome that addiction. For example, I no longer feel like I have to get my masters degree or PhD to consider myself successful. (That one took a while to get over). I don't feel like I have to have 100 extracurricular activities to
be happy. I am so happy where I am living and thankful for what I am doing for work and how much money I make. I take time as it comes now, too: sometimes when people ask me what I have going on that day, I literally have no idea how to answer, because I don't know until I'm doing it. So in one regard, I've really come far. I even felt proud of myself posting
that quote, knowing that I have overcome a great deal of these issues.

In my arrogance, I failed to see my shortcomings.

I remember, several years ago, when I first got into
running. I HATED going to the gym because I didn't want anyone looking at me. It was embarrassing to walk in there with all those fit, athletic people when I was frumped out in my shoddy gym clothes and giant tshirts, trying to conceal my body from the rest of the world. But
eventually my running became about me. I
began to focus on what was going on in my body and in my mind instead of all the extra stuff. Running became an activity of refuge for me. In other words, it stopped having to do with
anybody else besides me.

Imagine that.

So today when I went in to yoga, I told myself
that today's mantra is underachieve. Even if I felt like I could do more, I promised myself that I would take it easy. And what happened? Best. yoga. class. ever. I actually HEARD my body say "enough" when it was enough. I focused on my breathing, I took my time in getting into each stance. I looked at my feet for an extra second and made sure they were secure before moving on. I suppressed the competitor inside me that said to stretch further,
stretch as far as I could go. In the space left behind, where competition once was, I made sure I didn't hold my breath and I checked to make sure that I was practicing Uddhyana Bandha (fancy word for pelvic tuck). It was really wonderful. I could feel the space opening up in my life and in my mind. And when it was time to cool down, to lay back on my mat and feel grateful for my class, I heard
a tiny, tiny whispering voice say, "thank you." Tears started to roll down my face.

This amazing body I've been given, that has survived cancer, that I injected with what felt like poison, that ate nothing but waffles for days on end when everything else tasted like battery acid; this body that swam in stock tanks as a child and rolled in hay fields, ran through rows of sunflowers and rode horses in the summer sun for weeks; this body that sustained me through countless all-nighters in college, as well as nights of endless dancing and singing, and drinking binges that would put pirates to shame; this body that I continually hate, and I mean HATE
because it is not thinner; this poor, poor body that has done me so right for all these years: I finally felt a deep and appreciative love for it. I felt, for an instant, unconditional love for it. I saw in my mind's eye how beautiful it is, how unflinchingly reliable and perfect it is. Perfect.

I waited a long time with that feeling. Perfect. I breathed it in, drank it, tasted it in my mouth and throat. Perfect. I felt it in my chest like radiating warmth. In all my flaws, I am still so perfect.

I love those feelings. When class was over and I couldn't wait to come home to tell you all about it. To tell you that you are perfect.

This is why I heart yoga. And why eventually I'm going to have to admit that my job is not letting me listen to my body.

Perhaps tomorrow's yoga practice will help me figure out what to do about that. Or maybe not! Ha!

Until then,

Tips for yoginners (is this a word?) that I've learned this last month:
1. Yoginis: you don't really need a sports bra for yoga. I was wearing one just by habit because,
obviously, I always wear one when I work out. But I found it was really just putting a lot of extra pressure on my shoulders when I don't need that kind of support for this type of workout.
2. If you're getting headaches during yoga, try different areas of the room. I have found if I place my mat near a door, or away from the majority of the group, I don't get as hot, and don't get headaches.
3. You might also try using Gatorade or Emergen-C in your water if you're getting headaches. It may be that you're just needing a boost of electrolytes to get you through the first few classes.
4. If you're competitive like me, placing your mat away from the group may also help you focus on your body and not if you're right in step with everyone else in the room. I even intentionally close my eyes or focus straight ahead sometimes so I don't try to compete.
5. As someone once told me, keep an open mind and keep going back until you really know whether it's for you or not. If it's for you, you'll be so glad you did!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

What are you looking for in a blog?

I'm just wondering, because if I am going to dedicate more time to this blog, I need to know what the people who come here want. So please copy and paste this into a comment, deleting the things you don't want to see and leaving the things you do. I'd really appreciate it, and you can even do it anonymously if you want. Thanks again!

(here's the part you copy :)

These are things I'd like to see more of on the Miss Melanoma Blog:
*funny pics
*pics of MissM
*personal updates on my health
*health news about melanoma
*research news about melanoma
*personal anecdotes/experiences
*spiritual insights
*book reviews
*cancer insights/experiences
*questions from readers that I answer
*teaching stories/updates
*yoga stories/insights
*lymphedema updates
*guest interviews
*beauty product give aways
*sun safety tips/new merch
*melanoma research/psa/advocacy opportunities
*news about other survivors/bloggers
*personal development topics

Other tips/comments/suggestions/info:

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

More Happiness Quotes

Dr. Holden says the key to being happy is overcoming "destination addiction," which he defines as "living in the not-now."

"It's always about tomorrow, so you're chasing 'more,' 'next' and 'there,'" he says. "You promise yourself that when you get there, you'll be happy. And I promise you, you won't, because you'll always set another destination to go for."

Instead, Dr. Holden says if you are unhappy with your life or looking to improve your score on the satisfaction test, there are two things you can do. "We have to learn to let go of our past, we have to give up all hopes for a perfect past. Let the past go, it's gone." After that, he says, "Take a vow of kindness. Be kinder to yourself and to others.

"It's never too late to be happy," he says.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

May I recommend the purple bracelet?

"And he said, 'You have to understand that the pursuit of happiness is a mistake. It's like, you don't chase happiness out there. You learn that you're happy inside you and then you go running. Then you go into the world.'"

-Dr. Robert Holden, founder of the Happiness Project, author of Happiness Now!, who has dedicated his life to studying the pursuit of happiness.

So, you know that whole "happiness is not something that you have to find, it's something that it's inside of you" thing? Well, I'm a big believer in it. Call me corny, or crazy, or call me Pollyanna-ish, whatever. I honest-to-God believe that happiness begins with loving yourself and then that loving kindness spreads outward from there, and you see the world as a better place.

But enough about me, let's talk about you. Maybe you, like me, see yourself as this type of person, too.

If so, I recommend this book that I read (and am re-reading) called a Complaint Free World. Or, if you're not like me, and prefer instead to worry about the demise of the western world's media coverage, the incline in feline cat leukemia numbers, the cost of milk these days, gluten allergies, or the level of mercury in fish, then this book might be for you, too! You might be surprised how much you get out of it.

The book says that the average person complains 15-30 times per day. Geez!

Here's how this works: you get a purple bracelet from the complaint free world people. They say it's free, but I couldn't find a way to get around the $10 donation for 10 bracelets. Pretty reasonable if you ask me. You put on the bracelet, and then if you complain, gossip or criticize, you switch the bracelet to your other wrist. Your goal is to go 21 days, in a row, without complaining. The book says the average time is 4-8 months to accomplish it. I haven't made my 21 days yet! In fact, I'm on day 1 all over again today. teehee

Here's what I like about this book: it's about finding your Buddha nature, or being Christ-like, without those words ever being written down. I didn't even know it was written by a minister (Reverend Will Bowen) until I was well into it. So it's not churchy, or preachy, or any of those things that you don't want to read. It's about the inception of the project, tips on being positive, letters written by other people who have completed the challenge, and other good stuff, too.

I, personally, have noticed that I complain most often when someone else starts to complain around me. Totally my bad. I can't wait until I get my bracelet so I can just point to it and smile when the ranting begins.

So check out their site if you're interested. And if you're looking for more on the same topic, the Pope-rah (Oprah) did a special on "the pursuit of happiness." Also, if you're interested, there is a satisfaction with life survey on, too.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Long time no blog

Hello blogger friends, I know I'm sucking wind lately as far as consistent blogging goes, but this is part of the pattern at the end of the school year. Bare with me and we'll see if we can't get back on track. pic

So the yoga experiment is going well. I signed up for a beginner series at Yogasport here in D town. I've never really liked yoga, but have tried it a hand-full of times over the last 5 or so years. But a few months ago I did a random DVD yoga workout instructed by Baron Baptiste and he really turned me around. His workout was paced at a level that was challenging enough to keep it interesting but not so much that I wanted to give up. And his philosophy about it was right up my alley. So I googled him, and I'll be darned if there wasn't a Baptiste studio here in Dallas! I signed up for the beginner workshop and wow, I'm totally hooked.

For one thing, these people at Yogasport are the friendliest and happiest people I've ever met. It's like I'm back in D'ego hanging around the beach bums again. And that glow that you see in people when they love their life? Every one of them are walking around with it. pic

And it's not just the people. Yoga really is awesome. It's not just the hype you always hear. It really has made me a more patient and calm person even just in the month that I've been going. And I can tell a difference in my body, too. I feel stronger and more in touch with it, and even a little more loving towards it.

How is it affecting the lymphedema, you ask? Well, interestingly enough, it's made it better. Now let me say that the first few times I went the class, like all physical activity I do, the yoga made my leg swell up quite a bit. And I am still not to the level that I can go more than once or twice a week without being in significantly more pain. But as I stuck with it, the swelling began to get better and - no shit- I can feel parts of my leg that I haven't felt in 4 years or so. I gained some of the sensation back. Is that crazy, or what? pic

With the end of the school year and the promotion ceremonies and moving out of my classroom and the Talent Show and the Fun Run and such, I didn't get to go to yoga for a week or 2, and that has really a difference. But now I'm back, and planning on signing up for the beginner series all over again in July so that I can work up to 2 or 3 days a week. I'm hooked, I tell you, and looking forward to signing up for a Baptiste Bootcamp and the 40 day personal revolution program offered by Yogasport within the next year. I'm telling you- for the first time ever, I see why people become obsessed with this practice. I feel better about myself every time I go.
So try yoga! I dare you! Much like Charlie Murphy dares you to challenge Prince to a game of ball.

btw: How awesome is that 1st picture up there? You have to read the article on this lady, she's crazy awesome. You can click on the pik or click here for the Yoga Journal article. And you thought it was a joke! Bam. You just got mad served.

P.s.- Why did blogger make it so damn hard to hyperlink photos now?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Beautiful Today

Just wanted to drop a quick note to thank all internet surfers out there that have recently found my blog and commented or emailed me. It's great to meet you all! Cancer sucks but if we stick together there's so much we can accomplish and change. Don't believe the statistics or the doctors- but rather, find the truth inside yourself. Give yourself time to make decisions based on what you want, not what your doctors want. Do research and decide on your own what treatments you want. And if you need someone on your side, just tell them Miss M has your back! I'll support your decisions, even if no one else does. So there! Take that, haters! We don't need no stinkin' approval anyway!
Suck on it, Trebek!


Sunday, April 11, 2010

What is my worst fear?

I was recently asked this question by one of my fifth graders. A question like that takes you places.

For a long time, the answer was always "disappointing the people that I love." But, after a lifetime of disappointing people that I love, I have realized there is, at some points, no way to avoid it if you're going to be true to yourself. And then later in life I realized that sometimes the people I disappointed were people that I loved but that didn't really love me back. So there went that one.

The truth is, to be completely honest with you, my biggest fear is the, "I never thought you would do this" moment that occurs so many times in our lives. It can be found in the following forms:
  • I never thought you'd treat me this way
  • I never thought you would intentionally hurt me
  • I never thought you'd cheat on me
  • I never thought a friend would do such a thing
  • I never thought we'd drift apart \I never thought you'd stop talking to me just because blah blah blah
  • insert other here
It's a tough fear to overcome. I fight between being naturally friendly and being very protective of myself. I don't trust easily, but genuinely love working with people. So it's sort of a paradox, if I want to be dramatic about it. Recently I was reminded of my intuition and how I generally know pretty quickly whether I should let someone in. I ignored my instincts and got burned again.

Getting burned is just part of life. But it's always a battle, being compassionate and loving towards others, while still being compassionate and loving towards myself. This is the big one I'm working on right now.

Thank you, higher power, for everything you send my way.


Sunday, April 04, 2010

How to Get Exactly What You Want

This is fresh off the brain waves.

How to get exactly what you want: decide that what you have is exactly what you want.*


*includes chronic pain

Monday, March 15, 2010

Lymphedema Post

What amazes me is the lack of lymphedema talk. Or maybe it's just me.
But even here, in Blogger, lymphedema has that little red sqwiggly line underneath it like it's misspelled. Think about that. If you typed in "cancer" and the little red sqwiggly line popped up like you'd made the word up entirely, wouldn't you feel a little weird? Like maybe this thing that is affecting your life so much is somehow unknown to other people? Regular people don't even know what it is, and yet, if you've had cancer, you're probably dealing with it every single day. I get emails all the time asking me if I have any advice on how to deal with it, or if I know anyone who does. It is, without a doubt, the one thing that I took from having cancer that I still have to deal with day in and day out. The pain or discomfort from it is consistent and almost daily. Lymphedema of the groin is right up there with bamboo shoots under the finger nails if you ask me, although I can't really confirm that one from personal experience. Just trust me, ok? It hurts. Like a lot. I'm sure no one wants to talk about this, but just give it a thought for a moment: major swelling of your groin. Ew. Lymphedema is the one thing that I have to be most careful with in my regular life.

After I was found NED, like most people who come into remission or NED status, the doctor sort of told me, "Good job. Now go back to your life and enjoy it and when the cancer comes back, we'll deal with it." If you've ever been in that position, it's freaky to say the least. Like you are Ferris Bueller and you've gotten away with a whole day off. Or even weirder. What's basically happened is your whole life has somehow changed and yet you don't even really know the extent of how it has changed yet. But your body for sure has changed, and so you begin your new life by dealing with that. But where is the lymphedema help? I mean, it's got to be out there, right? I've been digging and hunting and reading for almost 5 years, and I feel like I've got a pretty good understanding of how lymphedema effects my body, but I still can't tell you, after all my research, much about the condition overall. It's a strange

vague thing, (kinda like Howard the Duck), except even after following all the prescribed methods of fixing it, I've found that most people in the professional field have no idea what to do
with it (again, kinda like Howard the Duck). I've been Rx'ed Lasix for it, for example (bad idea), and have been given MLD (manual lymph drainage) massages by people who had no idea how to keep a bandage on my leg. I mean, without exaggeration, it would literally fall off by the time I walked to the car. A doctor once recommended I start cycling after my surgery because it would be very low impact on my body and really help with my lymphedema. A week later he takes a iliac node from my abdomen. Did he have no idea how much abdominal swelling would take place? Lymphedema does occur there, after all, and is agitated by bending over for any period of time. Or did he just not know what position you sit in on a bike? I mean really. It's infuriating to think that an entire medical field is clueless about this.

On the other hand, I HATE when people complain about something and go on and on without ever offering a solution or lifting a finger to try to fix it. And so, I have tried, and documented fairly consistently, what works for me. What I'm wondering is: would it work for you? I'm looking for others who would be willing to share about their experiences and how they've dealt with the condition, and possibly give feedback on techniques I've used (like whirlpools). Are you game?

Another thing I'm trying now is different types of workouts. Exercise definitely helps, but again, it is a slow, tedious process of figuring out what, how much, and when to do it. Too much and you're in a world of pain, too little and you'll swell up suddenly over night. So my new thing I'm going to try is yoga. I won't be consistently updating you, but I'll see if it helps.

I guess this was a venting post, but I could certainly use your help in helping all those people out there that are trying to deal with this. AW. We're making the world a better place. :)




I'm Too Young For This!