Wednesday, October 28, 2009
While the title may, on first examination, seem selfish, loving yourself is a huge step to take in the order of your life. Loving yourself makes you a person who has more to offer the world in general and helps to make you complete. From childhood, we learn who other people see us as. Our parents may be critical in their attempt to care about who we turn out to be. Peers, teachers, society itself all seem to expect us to look, act and behave a certain way. We seek to be happy and content and able to life worthwhile lives, being taught that it's right to love others. but what about ourselves? There are several things that keep us from doing that.
*Criticism taken wrongly.
*Measure by other people's standards.
*Wanting to be someone else.
*Having expectations which are too high.
*Not being able to accept ourselves.
*Having no goals in life.
All of these prevent a human from loving themselves but they don't need to. If you take them one by one and use each of the events as a positive instead of a negative, this helps you to see that you are indeed a person who merits self love. It is the understanding process which enables you to realize your own worth.
Criticism taken wrongly.
When criticized for something, as an adult, learn to accept criticism for what it is. Criticism is the view of someone else. You have views as well. Does their argument hold fast over your own? Is there some reason you are being criticized? Looking into the roots of criticism helps you to become more whole as a human being and more open to the opinions of others.
The balance goes wrong when you think that others are always right. They aren't. Where you achieve balance is in looking at both viewpoints and either learning how not to be wrong, or that your approach is the right one for you. Stand your ground without being stubborn, and suddenly you learn that perhaps they have a point, and there is something you can do to make yourself a better person. It is this aspect of criticism that makes a human being more valuable and more able to love themselves.
Measure by other people's standards.
When measured against others, it is hard to love yourself. Every day we see great people who we admire and are in awe of. Not everyone can be that influential, though each of us has a part to play in life. Look at the value you have to those around you, and the picture becomes clearer. They love you and by being yourself, you have a right to their love. If they love you, then is this not a good indication that you are a person worthy of love? Loving yourself opens up doors you will never discover by being discontent with who you are. God makes each person individual. That is one the most important things to remember, and perhaps you are an individual who doesn't particularly shine when measured against others, though when you learn self-love, you shine inside just as much as anyone else.
Wanting to be someone else.
Have you ever heard people say how much they would like to be slim, have curly hair and be as beautiful as the models who grace the pages of magazines? The look is only surface. Each of us has quirks. There was rather a clever line in a movie when a lover said to his lady about how her wrinkles were proof of where she had been, rather than how old she was. Self love is getting comfortable with our own little quirks and individual traits. Celebrate that hair. Celebrate the softness of your skin. Celebrate that you can walk and talk, hear and see, because even those who cannot will find that one thing inside them to celebrate.
Having expectations which are too great.
One of my favorite sayings is "Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed." To a certain extent this is true, although we all do have expectations. When you get goal posts too high ever to be reached, you also set yourself up for disappointment when you cannot reach those goals. It is far easier to hard little steps within your life to celebrate. That first pound that you lose on a diet is a huge hurdle. Why not celebrate the ounces? Each time you set small goals you set yourself up for positive feelings inside which make you celebrate and love who you are and what you can achieve.
Not being able to accept ourselves.
Too many lives are wasted by refusal to accept who we are. In that seventy years on earth, each human has time to learn that who they are is indeed who they are. There is nothing we can do to change that. The best way to self acceptance is to take an honest look at who we are and learn that although we may not have all the features we would like, we do have something more important than that. It doesn't come in a neat package, and in fact cannot always be grasped. What we have a soul and a being. It is that being or soul which defines who we are.
To love yourself, you have to learn to see that person that hides behind the skin, and to have that feel good experience of understanding that even though the skin you are in may not be the most desirable, the you which lurks inside is as desirable and lovable as any other soul on earth. Nurture it. Teach it to measure itself by interaction with others, and final conclusions which show as a mirror who we actually are rather than what our outside appearance may lead others to believe. Once you master this, you begin to love yourself, and accept that you are an individual in your own right, with thoughts and ideals which make you unique.
Having no goals in life.
If you are walking and have no map, how can you find your way? People spend their lives walking in circles and constantly disappointed with the results of their lives, simply because their lives have no goals or no destinations. How can you get there, if you have no idea where you are heading? To get over this, set little tiny goals and celebrate reaching them. This is one of the best ways to learn self love and the discipline of self love.
Loving yourself presents you to others as a whole human being. You are not defective, and if you present yourself to others as being so, how can you merit their love? Shine for who you are. Love yourself for who you are, and instead of presenting half a person, what you present is a very whole person capable of loving, and capable of offering something complete to those around you. Self love is a huge step for any human being and opens the door to happiness during the course of a lifetime.
Monday, October 26, 2009
If you think of your pet primarily as a child, it's only natural that you'll want him or her to enjoy holidays such as Halloween. Having grown up with various cats and dogs, including my furry friends at holidays was always a must.
Although pet are not human children, the ASPCA stresses, there are 10 things you can do to make sure your canine or feline companions still have a good time:
1. Don't offer candy treats. If you want to commemorate Halloween with something yummy, go for treats manufactured specifically for dogs or cats. The bowl of candy you normally put on your dining room table as a treat for human hands should not be there if you have pets. Chocolate in all forms is dangerous for both cats and dogs. Dark or baking chocolate is particularly lethal. If your pet ingests any chocolate, the symptoms you're likely to see include vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, heightened thirst, increased urinating and a higher heart rate. Seizures can also occur.
The artificial sweetener Xylitol can poison dogs. Swallowing even relatively small amounts can trigger a quick drop in blood sugar, which in turn can cause depression, loss of coordination and seizures. If the blood sugar level drops far enough, liver failure can follow.
Don't overlook the danger of cellophane and foil candy or gum wrappers. In addition to causing your pet to choke, they can cause intestinal blockages after being swallowed.
2. Keep plants out of reach. Although they're so popular this time of year, pumpkins and decorative corn can be harmful even though not toxic. If your pet swallows some of either plant, a gastrointestinal upset is likely to follow. It can even result in an intestinal blockage.
3. Take care with decorations. Make sure that your pet cannot reach wires or cords from electric lights or other Halloween decorations. Dogs and cats love to chew. Chomping on wires or cords can result in glass or plastic pieces in the mouth or even an electric shock.
4. Avoid candles in pumpkins. If you're willing to risk having a pumpkin inside the house, once you've carved it, never place a candle inside it. Pets can easily knock over the pumpkin, start a fire and get burned themselves.
5. Rethink costumes and stress. Your cat Fluffy might look a whole lot like a lion when dressed up with a fake mane and a tail extension. However, the ASPCA cautions that unless your pet loves a particular outfit, you should avoiding dressing up the animal because a costume can cause unnecessary stress.
6. Take care if you do dress your pet. Even if Spot seems to love to put on his pirate getup, take care that the outfit isn't irritating when actually on your pet. Make sure the costume doesn't interfere with his hearing, barking, meowing or ability to move. You should try on the outfit a day or more before the parade or trick-or-treat night. Some animals initially seem to like a costume but quickly have allergic reactions to it.
7. Check out all parts of the costume. If you're still determined to go with a costume, check it carefully for any dangling parts of chewed-off pieces that could cause your pet to choke. Make sure it's the right size so that it won't catch on any objects when your cat or dog attempts to move or cause him to trip.
8. Make the front door off limits. Unless you know your pet is ultra-social, keep him or her confined to an area away from the front door during the hours when kids are most likely to knock. Strangers can be stressful or even frightening to pets.
9. Watch for escape artists. If you do have a pet who loves Halloween at the front door, keep a wary eye for a quick escape. Pets can quickly dart over a foot and out the door when they spy something attractive or become frightened.
10. Make sure your pet has an ID. Even if your dog or cat stays indoors 100 percent of the time, it's a good idea to make sure he or she is wearing identification any time doors to the home open frequently. On the off chance that your pet leaps out the door on Halloween, a collar and tags (or a microchip) can help you locate him.
Finally, if you suspect that your pet has swallowed anything potentially harmful, immediately call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435.
Friday, October 23, 2009
The ancient Celts celebrated the new year at the start of winter, around November 1st. This most sacred of all Celtic festivals was called Samhain (pronounced sow'an), which means end of the summer. In Ireland the festival was known as Samhein, or La Samon, for the Feast of the Sun. In Scotland, the celebration was known as Hallowe'en.
Samhain marked the third and final harvest and the storage of provisions for the winter. It was a solar festival, consisting of sacred fires and fire rituals. It was dedicated to the Lord of the Dead, and the Celts believed that on the eve of Samhain, the dead rose out of their graves to wander freely about the earth and make trouble by harming crops and causing domestic disturbances.
The veil between the worlds of the living and the dead was believed to be at its thinnest point in the year at Samhain, making communication between the living and the dead much easier to accomplish.
During the darkest hours of the night, the Lord of the Dead would call up all of the lost souls for sentencing. Condemned souls were sentenced to spend 12 months in the afterlife in an animal form, while good souls received another 12 months of death, in human form. Living persons held a Samhain Vigil during these dark hours to pray for the lost souls.
Some of the customs practiced by the Celts for Samhain remain in the world today in various forms, and are similar to other traditions found in Day of the Dead festivals throughout the world. It was customary for them to make offerings of food and wine to the Lord of the Dead so that he would be more agreeable in his sentencing of the lost souls. Offerings were also set out for the returning dead themselves, so that they could refresh themselves and perhaps be less inclined to cause trouble for the living.
The Celts dressed themselves in disguises to fool the spirits into passing them by, and masked villagers often led parades in an effort to entice the spirits to leave their towns.
The most famous Celtic ritual of Samhain was the lighting of huge bonfires as a tribute to the waning Sun God, and in an effort to rekindle his diminishing energy in the face of winter.
The Romans celebrated several festivals that also influenced the evolution of Halloween. Lemuria, practiced in early Rome and influenced by Greek customs, was a three day affair that actually took place in May, rather than the fall. Its purpose was to appease the Lemures, evil ghosts or the ghosts of people who had died without leaving behind a surviving family.
At the same time of the year that the Celts celebrated Samhain, the Romans celebrated Pomona, the goddess of orchards and the harvest. Apples and nuts were among the special foods used, and these have still retained a special place in surviving Halloween festivities.
When the Christian Church set out to convert followers of pagan religions, church leaders saw that they would have an easier time of it if they incorporated existing holy days and rites into their own. Worship of pagan deities was translated into veneration of the Christian saints. In the 7th century, Pope Boniface IV introduced All Saints Day to replace the pagan festival of Samhain on May 13, 610, when he dedicated the Pantheon in Rom to St. Mary and martyred Christians. Later, Gregory III re-established the festival to honor the saints of St. Peter's Church and changed the date from May 13 to November 1 to coincide with pagan festivals. In 834, Pope Gregory IV made the festival official, to be observed by all churches.
Instead of sacrifices, the Church promoted honoring the dead with prayers. Food and wine offerings were replaced with soul cakes, little square buns decorated with currants. The cakes were given away to the poor, who in turn would pray for the dead. Soulers would walk about begging for the cakes. People who feared the dead, or feared for them, would be encouraged to give generously. In Ireland, peasants went door to door to collect money, bread cake, cheese, eggs, butter, nuts, and apples, in preparation for the festival of St. Columb Kill. The Christian Church also allowed masquerading but emphasized that it was to honor dead saints and not to frighten off spirits.
Over time, these practices have transformed into a popular practice called souling songs, where young men and boys went house to house singing in exchange for ale and food. This in turn evolved into trick-or-treating by children.
The Reformation had a drastic effect on the celebrations, however. In 1517, Martin Luther deliberately chose October 31 as the day to nail his reformation proclamation to the door of the castle church at Wittenburg, because he knew that the townspeople would be attending services that night. The Protestant movement dropped the observances of saints' days, and with that went the rites performed on the eve of All Saints' Day as well.
The practices still continued in pockets throughout the British Isles, surviving as folk rites, with feasts, fires, games, and pranks. As time went on, the ranks of the dead were joined by witches, faeries, goblins, and spirits of local lore, who were said to come out in force on this particular night. One such example of local lore was The Wild Hunt, a band of furious spirits of the restless dead, led by spectral hounds and pagan goddesses turned into witches, was said to run screaming through the sky on this night as well.
In colonial America, Halloween celebrations were scattered, and practices varied widely depending upon ethnic and religious backgrounds. Areas heavily settled by the English, such as Massachusetts, paid scant attention to Halloween, while areas predominated by Scots or Irish settlers gave Halloween more attention.
It wasn't until the potato famines of the 1820s and 1840s that drove thousands of poverty stricken Irish to the United States that Halloween became more established in American folklore. Hearth fires replaced Celtic bonfires, parlor divinations games replaced oracle rites, harvest feasts replaced the feasts for the dead, and young people played tricks on the neighbors. The customs of wearing costumes and begging for food also continued. Parties, also part of the annual harvest rites, included games, dancing and the telling of ghost stories.
The Irish had a Halloween custom of carrying lanterns made out of hollowed out turnips or beets, called Jack-O'-Lanterns or jacky lanterns, which were used to scare away spirits in the night. Immigrants to America substituted pumpkins.
The original purpose of All Hallows Eve as a festival of the dead has nearly been forgotten except for those followers of contemporary Wiccan and Pagan religions. These religious groups observe Samhain as one of their most important holy days, or sabbats: a time for feasting and merriment but also a time for solemn religious observances. Wiccans and Pagans have attempted to recreate the early pagan rites with the exception of animal sacrifices, which are forbidden. The dead are honored, and Samhain is considered to be a good time for communing with the spirits, and a good time for beginnings and fresh starts.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Walk slowly, little one, and let me walk beside you,
as you see the wonders you will see.
And I will try to see them through your eyes...
eyes still fresh and beauty seeking;
eyes that do not hide behind the dimming veil of ugliness.
Tell me what you see when birds fly by...
when buds of green appear on April's trees.
Tell me about the ripples on the pond,
and the colors of the flowers.
There is so much I need to know;
so much I have forgotten
I remember only how to look.
I do not remember how to see.
So let me walk along with you
and share the world you know.
I will be the learner.
You will be the teacher
Monday, October 19, 2009
No matter how many people make lists of rules to live by, each list will be different. Every list is a guideline that is individually experienced. Some of the rules will be the same for people while other lists vary drastically from the norm. Do you know what? That's alright! We're in this world to share what we know with other people who may not have experience in the things others have seen thus far. Some of the things we want to share won't stop others from making the same successes or mistakes but it certainly can prepare others for what's to come. With that said, I present my own individual list of rules to live by, hoping that, in some way, my experiences will help other people.
To be honest in everything I do and everything I say is my principle rule. To be asked to compromise on my integrity by another is extremely difficult to bear; I do not lie for anyone, least of all myself. In my working life I have had to find creative ways of holding true to my focus of honesty while at the same time presenting a professional and corporate line. It is the one thing I will not forsake, though I am sensitive to the feelings of others when they ask if they look OK in whatever they are wearing.
It is important to me, to my mental and physical health, to be as active as possible at all times. However, I also feel that activity should have a result, and so I spend most of my waking hours in some kind of creative pursuit. I am accomplished in many different crafts and I almost always have several projects on the go at any one time. Learning is also a valid use of my time, and I prefer to spend vacations absorbing the culture and history of the location rather than the sun's rays.
I am the only person responsible for me. The decisions I make, while influenced by many things, are still my decisions. I am also responsible for the daughter I brought into this world, in as much as for as long as she needs it she will have a home, food, clothes and comfort. I am as responsible for my mistakes as I am my accomplishments and I own up to each one fully and immediately.
My home is open to those who have shown me hospitality, and all those I consider to be friend. Hospitality is strongly linked to the idea of self-reliance and responsibility in that it is unwise to give away your last of anything to another, but to share what you can afford to makes for a more comfortable society. Working together can achieve more than working alone in many instance.
Courage comes in many forms and is also linked to perseverance and responsibility. For me, courage is the act of standing up and speaking out where abuse and wrong-doing is witnessed. Courage is holding true to your convictions while under pressure to change. Courage is doing what is right, even though it may cause you pain and suffering, and everyone else may be doing something different.
Discipline is the concept I struggle most with, in the sense that I am not particularly good at changing my routine to accommodate new things that are imposed on me. Having to take medication at a particular time is something I find extremely difficult to remember and adhere to. The discipline behind the mantra "little and often" is not something I am able to maintain for long either, but I am working on it. In other areas, discipline is simple to follow; I was brought up to not touch anything that was not mine without the owners permission, something that is ingrained in me today, yet is so obviously lacking in many people.
To keep trying, even if you fall at the first, third, tenth or hundredth hurdle is a virtue. It is also sometimes seen as stupidity, but this would only be true if you keep repeating the same mistakes and expecting the outcome to be different. I was brought up to believe that there is always more than one way to do something, you just have to find that way.
This may appear to some as an out-dated concept, but pledging yourself to a cause, a group or an individual can be an empowering experience. For me, my marriage vows are as sacred as any historic text; my fidelity to my husband is non-negotiable. Fidelity cannot be bought or traded, it is freely given and exists for as long as the relationship remains on that circumstance in which the fidelity was offered. Fidelity is about supporting the things you believe in.
If you cannot look after your self, how can you look after anyone else? Self-reliance is often viewed from the outside as selfishness, or self-preservation above all others, but that is not how I understand it to be. Self-reliance is an important part of community formation and maintenance, and is something that may be the only thing to sustain the human race in times of environmental disaster. If you can look after yourself successfully, you can help others to do so too. Teaching, trading and helping are important skills in their own right. Man is not designed to live alone, we are social beings, but knowing that you could survive on your own if you have to is a comfort in these uncertain times.
Individuality is something I prize highly, both for myself and others. I embrace difference in all things and seek out those who display some kind of individual talent or attribute. Individuality of thought, deed and creation are what makes humans so interesting.
Having rules to live by, no matter where they originate from, helps society to function well. Thinking about why you do what you do can help you to make subtle changes in your behavior that will not only benefit you, but your family and your community as well.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
One of my favorite scenes from Riverdance is the one set on the streets of New York where "sean nos" - a traditional Irish dance - challenges the African shuffle. The energy and creative union could only fuse itself into something new and exciting. Thus, some dance historians believe, tap dancing was born around the 1830's when ethnic groups in the bulging immigrant neighborhoods of The Big Apple polished their native steps by showing them off to each other.
In looking at a performance of tap, one can almost see its resemblence to both of its parents. Sean nos' dance, the precursor of Irish stepdancing, through the centuries evolved into the more modern toe tapping, battering, throughly infectious explosion that spawned Riverdancing. However, back in the early to mid-1800's, there was little to no arm movement permitted by the traditional Irish dancer. The dance form was confined solely to the rhythmic movement of the feet.
Sean nos, the less regimented of the two Irish dances, allows for a bit freer style and is very much unique to the dancer. It is still performed today. Traditional Irishstep, however, is rigidly subject to following the detailed steps and sequences set forth by the masters who taught it. Each Irish Stepdancing school has unique dances created by the teacher, but all follow set rules. An instructor of Irish dance must go through a lengthy and ardous certification process in order to open a school. There is a strong historical and very powerful cultural element to Irish dance which has kept it in a relatively pure state, especially when being taught to children. The Irish consider it a national treasure.
The hardshoes worn in Irish stepdancing have a cleated tap on both the front and back of the shoe. It takes a bit of skill to create the batter effect, but even the youngest dancer learns quickly to master it. It is the hardshoe dances - the jigs and the hornpipes - which are tapdancing's Irish mother. In its earliest forms, the cleats were wooden and attached with nails. The dancers created the unique battering rhythm by a rapid tapping of the foot and heel onto a wooden floor - or even a cottage door. Tap shoes are very much like hardshoes in their function.
Tap's father - the African shuffle - has a surprisingly similar connection with Irish stepdancing. When African natives were brought to this country as slaves, a rich heritage of ceremonial music, song and dance followed them. The plantation owners were not happy with their cultural expression and thus like the Irish, blacks were forced to adapt their creative expression behind closed doors. They developed a style of dance called the shuffle since any lifting of the feet would be considered dancing. Thus, the African immigrants danced using foot shuffles with hip and torso movement.
It is not surprising that when both repressed forms of dance met each other, the catalytic effect would birth a dance that breathes unadulturated freedom. America has had a love affair with tap almost from its conception. Both ethnic dances took something away from exposure to each other but it was the creation of tap that caught on like a wildfire that burned red, white and blue. Belonging to no one cultural group, all cultures could embrace it.
The changing face of popular music has always been a factor in tap’s evolution. From the penny whistle that accompanied the jig, through ragtime to Dixieland and the big band sound, all have had their part to play. This rhythmic, uncluttered music gave way to the syncopation of modem jazz, which gave birth to the style now known as rhythm tap. It developed from the interaction with the jazz musicians, the constant need to improvise and the tradition of constant trading and challenging between the dancers.
1840s: William Henry Lane (a.k.a. "Master Juba" or "Master of the Percussive Dance") danced the energetic "Juba Dance," which was a mixture of Jig, Clog, Reel, and African rhythms. This may have been the first American minstrel tap dance, ushering in the change from rhythmic communication to theatrical entertainment.
1850s: Irish clogging consists of a motionless upper body, while the feet tap out intricate rhythms as fast as the dancers can manage. The most accelerated Clogs were the Jig or Hornpipe, which were often performed in wooden-soled shoes. One of the most famous Irish Clog dancers was John "Jack" Diamond. George H. Primrose allegedly was the first to dance the difficult Lancashire Clog without wooden soles, thus inventing the "Soft Shoe" routine, also known as the "Sand Dance."
For the 1880s to the 1940s, Bill "Bojangles" Robinson was a major player in both the black and white theater circuits, and in motion pictures. He is credited with changing the earlier flat-footed tap steps to a lighter, more agile tap style, using the balls of his feet. Later, John William "Bubbles" Sublett would use the different sound of both heel and ball to allow more improvisation.
Metal taps were not used until approximately 1910, but then were later replaced by the lighter aluminum. Today's taps are attached to the shoe heel and toe to allow different sounds from the tapper. The middle of the shoe is untouched to help maintain high speed and good balance.
1900 - 1920: Vaudeville enjoyed major development around the turn of the century, integrating African rhythms, Irish Clog dances, and various English dances like the Hornpipe. Other Tap Dance styles that came about include Buck and Wing, Ring-Shout, Cakewalk, Shim-Sham, and Black Bottom. These dances were uniquely American, but only as hybrids of Irish, British, and African movements.
From the middle of the 1930s, the long road that tap dancing had followed became littered with personalities. Mostly associated with Hollywood films, they owed their success to the fact that they were all exceptional “hoofers” and possessed the individual style and flair which gave them star status. Bill “Mr Bojangles” Robinson was one of the first to make the transition from a “live performer” to the picture house. A legend before he came to Hollywood at a late stage in his career, his relaxed style and mature image contributed to making him one of the first greats.
Many great entertainers have used tap as part of their performances, sometimes in its purest form, sometimes mixed with more modern dances like ballet or swing dance. A few of these famous tappers and hoofers were: Fred Astaire, Ray Bolger, James Buster Brown, James Cagney, Eddie Cantor, Sammy Davis, Jr., Buddy Ebsen, Gregory Hines, Gene Kelly, Ann Miller, Donald O'Connor, Martha Raye, Ginger Rogers, Shirley Temple, Tommy Tune, and the Radio City Rockettes.
Thriving tap classes for children and adults have long been part of the scene. However, these brilliant revivals not only sent the professionals to dust off their shoes, but inspired a whole new breed of dancer – the amateur. Tap provided a new type of recreation and physical exercise. Most of all it was fun and continues to be popular today.
From a percussive form of communication to a highly technical form of entertainment, Tap Dance has seen many passionate and talented performers. It is a wonderfully rhythmic, exciting type of expression.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
One of the things that my grandmother always used to say was to reason with your mind, but follow your heart. I've learned that when I do follow my instincts, what my heart tells me is right, I never go wrong.
While it may not be specifically true, the heart has been considered the seat of our emotions. We use the symbol of the heart for Valentine's day - the one time love rules all else in our lives.
Within the heart is located a still, small, voice that is more like our conscience or consciousness than the actual emotions. From the consciousness we listen to the voice that is our inner balance.
When you are struggling with issues of life, trying to make reasoned decisions, it is the heart you must follow. The heart knows your journey and where it must lead for all the good you seek in happiness.
There are many that believe that we bring with us a blueprint for our lives, that is defined by our emotions. When we are moving right, we are comfortable in our own being. When out of sorts with our pattern, we are out of sorts with our physical body and its emotions.
The heart in the physical body pumps blood to and from all the organs, muscles, nerves and other systems of our bodies. It is the central source that must work for all to be in order. It is a marvel of design and engineering that works to keep the body functioning in the physical vibration.
When we are making decisions for our lives, choosing so many things as we go, we find there is a little more to the physical being and a part of us hears things that lead us onward. Is it intuition? Is it imagination? Or is it the voice within ourselves that just knows our own best good?
If you follow your heart you are choosing your own path. No one else has a say in your direction. And when the consequences of all life's happenings begin, you will know it was your choice and your joy that was sought in the event. No one else will ever take that personal responsibility for your choices and direction.
From the heart we dream our dreams and project our goals. From the heart, we design and focus our energies to fulfill our own destiny and potential. My grandmother was very wise; the mind may reason but the heart guides.
Saturday, October 10, 2009
You are sitting in your doctor's office and you hear those words which nobody wants to hear. You just found out you have breast cancer, so what now? You are probably going to feel 100 emotions at once. And there is not just one way to cope. Having watched a mother and grandmother go through a breast cancer diagnosis, here are a few things that helped them get through it.
First and foremost, keep a sense of humor. It is not something that you would wish on your worst enemy, so finding out that you have breast cancer is very emotional. You will probably go through days when you are sad and feel alone. One thing that my grandmother did to keep her spirits up was using her witty sense of humor. Whenever the doctors gave an update on her progress, she always found a way to find the humor in it. Laugh long and laugh often. Watch funny movies if you need that pick me up. There is no need to let depression take over your life when you are fighting the cancer. Tell jokes or keep your humorous relatives around you for that laughter.
Although i started with laughter, another point that you need to do is let yourself cry. When you are first diagnosed, you have to give yourself time to take it in. For my mother, this method was to ask herself a lot of "why" and "what" questions. Why was this happening to her? You need to get it out and whether it's spending time asking all the why and what questions or physically crying, then give yourself that time. Don't bottle it up inside and let it consume you. If need be, find your closest friend or someone you trust and let it out.
Third, rally the troops. You will need a good support system behind you to help you on those particularly rough days, even if it's just a hug. There are also support groups that you can turn to. If you are unsure of the places locally to look, you can always ask your oncologist.
Immediately after finding out about the breast cancer diagnosis, you should find someone you trust implicitly with your heart and soul and let your emotions, anger, fears, and feelings out. And ask questions. Both my mother and grandmother had an oncologist who was very willing to discuss anything. Through him, my mother received nausea medicine through her chemo drip, causing no nausea and no vomiting.
Don't be afraid to ask for help. You are looking at chemotherapy, surgery, and possibly radiation. During your chemotherapy, you make experience feelings of exhaustion. My mother still worked through her chemo, because she felt it kept a little normalcy in her life. However, she needed more help around the house to keep things going. It's alright to ask friends and family to help you in certain areas. Do you need someone else to cook dinner for a change, or wash and fold the laundry? Don't feel bad that you aren't up for the challenge. Let someone else do it for a change.
Take the time for a nap in the day. After a long day of working (if you keep doing it through you diagnosis) and chemo, you may feel tired. Take a little nap in the early evening and allow your body time to regroup. Naps can be very therapeutic.
Make sure to do something nice for yourself. Take the time to read a book or watch that movie you have been meaning to. Take a relaxing hot bath and just let the time pass as you relax. You don't have to spend a lot of money to do something nice for yourself. Just don't forget to treat yourself because it will help keep your spirits up.
It is a good idea to remain positive. On those days that might be a little more difficult to do so, think about times that have been bad that you have managed to get through successfully. If you managed to get through those bad times, then you can certainly pull through the cancer. Sometimes we all need those reminders to keep pushing us through to our end goal.
Stay away from negative people and surround yourself with positive people. Although this may sound like a silly thing, it really does make a difference. Although you may not have thought about it before, the attitudes of others can have an effect on your attitude.
Above all, you need to take care of yourself. Just because you were diagnosed, it's not the end of the world. In fact, today, there are a lot of options for combating it. And, if you have a family history of cancer, it's even more important to take preventive measures - eat healthy foods, exercise, keep a positive attitude. Although my grandmother died last year with bone cancer, she was a breast cancer survivor for over 20 years. And my mother remains cancer free after 7 years.