Feathers Ruffled. Fur Flies.

Feathers were ruffled and fur flew when the fate of the dogs owned by two women who contracted the Ebola virus was brought to public attention.  In Spain, Excaliber, the dog who belonged to a health care worker who contracted the virus was euthanized despite protests by animal lovers who started a Twitter campaign #salvomosaexcaliber.  U.S. officials were a bit more humane; they quarantined Bentley, the King Charles Spaniel belonging to Dallas health care worker, Nina Pham. Animal rights activist and Animal Fair Founder and Publisher, Wendy Diamond drew both positive and negative comments for speaking out against euthanization stating that her adorable adopted dog, Hope, was like a child to her.

Diamond sums up in her article in Animal Fair, “Animals are living and breathing creatures that are entitled to treatment and life just as their human friends. We are the stewards of the planet, and animals should not be euthanized (massacred) because of viruses that are not contained by man, spread by man, or manmade.”

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) noted in a press release October 17 “that, while there has been no reports of dogs or cats getting sick from Ebola, or of pets passing the virus to people or to other animals precautions were still being taken.”

The situation has raised an important issue that all pet owners should consider: Have you taken the proper legal measures to protect your beloved pet in the event you are no longer able to provide for his/her care and for when you die.

Sazerac

Sazerac

Many pet owners (including this one) consider their dog, cat, horse, you name it, a member of the family. Many treat our pets like our children. I know I do, and I have asked several friends who feel the same way. We rescued Sazerac who spent much of his young life in a puppy mill. His love is unconditional; his needs are simple real: food, water, shelter, love. That’s about it. In 1999 I adopted my first rescue Maltese, a male named Chance. I was single at the time living in New York City, and when the Twin Towers at the World Trade Center collapsed from terrorist attacks, it was Chance who curled up by my side reminding me I was not alone. When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, it was Chance who comforted both me and my anxious husband, David, when our spirits were low. And when Chance was diagnosed with a cancerous tumor in his nasal area, we gave him the love and care any parent would devote to an ill child, and we grieved deeply when we lost him in the end. The only difference was that we were given the choice to euthanize Chance to end his suffering. A human’s child’s pain would need to continue.

Chance

Chance

But in the eyes of the law, pets are property, not family members. And property is not treated the same as family. Like your children, have you made proper provisions to make sure your pets will be well cared for and given the water, food, shelter and love that they need and deserve if and when you cannot be there for them?

“Pet owners often do not think through what will happen to their companion animals if their owner dies or become disabled. A handshake and a promise are not enough, and procrastination is too common,” says Rachel Hirschfeld, a pet trust legal specialist and founder and co-chair of the Animal Law Committee for the New York Bar Association. “Sadly, the consequences of a pet owner’s failure to provide for their pet’s continuing care can be stark. Too often, the pet will end up in a shelter where, at best, it will not receive the care the pet owner would want and, at worst- and in most cases- the pet will be euthanized.”

To help pet owners follow proper channels and paperwork to provide for their animal companions, Hirschfeld created the Pet Protection Agreement® pet trust.  Here are five things Hirschfeld says to consider when setting up a pet trust:

  1. Identifying the pet owner and appointing the pet guardian (both owner and guardian must sign and agree with the document terms);

2.  Ensuring the record is a stand-alone document which is valid in all 50 states and enforceable immediately upon the pet owner’s inability to continue caring for the pet;

3. Including all pets that the pet owner has when s/he becomes unable to provide for their care are incorporated. This includes any pets in gestation (e.g. if a dog is pregnant);

4. Including the limited power of attorney and health care proxy;

5. Never using the word “incapacitated.”

It’s important to realize that while you may consider your precious pooch or feline friend your child, your human children may not feel the same way and neither may your spouse or partner.

“Heirs and beneficiaries get restless while waiting for a pet to die,” notes Hirschfeld. “Legal protection for the pet’s continued care, guaranteeing a forever home for it and safeguarding the pet’s legal decisions are key things to consider when planning for your pet’s future.”

Resources:

Melanie on her wedding day with Best Dog Chance

Melanie on her wedding day with Best Dog Chance

www.PetTrustLawyer.com

www.PetProtectionAgreement.org

www.animalfair.com

http://www.avma.org

 

Living Life-and Death-On Your terms

I write and talk frequently about how to live life on your terms- how to make the most of the days you have and enjoy what you do with purpose and passion.

But have you ever thought about the right to die on your terms? I’m not talking about accidental deaths or wrongful deaths. I am referring to rightful deaths- the right to die on your terms if you face a truly life-threatening, life ending disease. Most of us thankfully don’t need to think about it, but if you had the option, how would you choose and would you make your wishes known?

The media and internet are circulating a story about Brittany Maynard who at age 29 has been diagnosed with stage 4 glioblastoma, a malignant brain tumor that is incurable. In April of this year, she was given six months to live. Brittany has chosen to die on her own terms on November 1st just after her husband’s birthday rather than experience any prolonged suffering.

Brittany and Dan on their wedding day, September 2012 source: http://www.thebrittanyfund.org

Brittany and Dan on their wedding day, September 2012 source: http://www.thebrittanyfund.org

Story: http://www.wsoctv.com/news/news/terminally-ill-woman-chooses-die-two-days-after-hu/nhdL7/?ecmp=wsoctv_social_facebook_2014_sfp

To do this she had to move to Oregon, which in 1997 enacted the Death with Dignity Act, allowing terminally-ill Oregonians to end their lives through the voluntary self-administration of lethal medications, expressly prescribed by a physician for that purpose. Vermont and Washington are two other states that have similar acts.

The non-profit Death with Dignity National Center states that The greatest human freedom is to live, and die, according to one’s own desires and beliefs. From advance directives to physician-assisted dying, death with dignity is a movement to provide options for the dying to control their own end-of-life care. - See more at: http://www.deathwithdignity.org/advocates/national#sthash.p0GvX7U2.dpuf

It’s a shame you have to relocate to die on your terms. But for those who are terminally ill who want to focus on the quality of their rest of their lives rather than worry about the prolonged pain of dying, it is a choice they make to put themselves and their loved ones at ease.

Many believe death should be left to God’s hands. Others feel it may be best to lend a hand to help the process along to put someone out of their misery. We euthanize our beloved pets to end their pain but allow our loved ones to linger in it. And for those who lives are truly affected, a slow suffering end of life is an indignity.

Brittany Maynard has partnered with Denver-based Compassion & Choices,  which provides end of life services, to launch a campaign for the right to die with dignity.  https://www.compassionandchoices.org/

Brittany Maynard http://www.thebrittanyfund.org

Listen to Brittany Maynard’s story here
http://www.thebrittanyfund.org

As I write this I realize Brittany Maynard will end her life in just a few short weeks. In the last few months she has embraced life with all the enthusiasm we should when we are healthy, taking trips, living fully in the present and learning to make peace with the medical hand she’s been dealt. It reminds me that the things that set me off this week: the New York traffic, an annoying client meeting, our leaking roof, and the dog pooping all over the house, are all petty.

I hope none of us have to think about this choice in reality. But we should have our last wishes filed away somewhere in writing and with a health care proxy noted. The right to die on your terms also means making sure your wishes are clearly known so they are granted.

Brittany Maynard’s choice to die on her own terms and advance Death with Dignity in her final days is an inspiration no matter what your beliefs. Here is the link to an online card to sign if you wish to show your support for Brittany:

http://www.thebrittanyfund.org

 

I Touch Myself

I asked my husband, David, to touch his crotch this morning. He gave me a strange look and shook his head, “No.” But maybe if he reads this post he will reconsider, along with other men. (We know you probably touch your privates in private anyway!)

#FeelingNuts is an initiative to promote Testicular Cancer Awareness by encouraging men to examine their privates for any irregularities. Much like the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge which raised both awareness and millions of dollars to help support research for a cure for ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), #FeelingNuts is about bringing awareness to and opening the conversation about testicular cancer. Actor Hugh Jackman posted a photo holding his crotch and challenged Michael Strahan and Ricky Gervais to cop a feel. Other male celebrities are taking the lead, and I hope many more men will do the same.

High Jackman #FeelingNuts

High Jackman #FeelingNuts

Approximately 1 in 250 men will be diagnosed with testicular cancer. Testicular cancer is the most common form of cancer in men ages 15-35 and it is one of the most treatable cancers, especially if caught early.* 

Being comfortable and familiar with your body and conducting self-examinations to look for signs of anything out of the ordinary is an important part of self-health. We listen to our stomachs when they growl and we feed ourselves. We take Ibuprofen when our head hurts or muscles ache. But are we taking a hard look at our bodies and taking the touch test?

October as we all know is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. And we know early detection is important. But it’s more than getting an annual mammogram or having your ObGYN examine your breasts. It’s about examining your breasts each month. I found one of my three breast tumors during a self-examination nine months after my mammogram exam detected no irregularities. Imagine if I had not been as vigilant about my health and waited four more months until my next mammogram!

One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer. Forty percent of diagnosed breast cancers are detected by women who feel a lump, so establishing a regular breast self-exam is very important. – John Hopkins University**

You should ask your doctor what you can do yourself to examine your body on a regular basis and not just during your annual check up. Self exams for testicular and breast cancer are two examples. Another is skin cancer. It is far more important to peer at the moles or irregular spots on your face and body than stare than at your cellulite and wrinkles.

One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in the course of a lifetime. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends that everyone practice monthly head-to-toe self examination of  their skin, so that they can find any new or changing lesions that might be cancerous or precancerous. Skin cancers found and removed early are almost always curable.***

It’s up to you to be proactive. No one is going to look for you. I remember asking doctors to check a dark mole on my father’s face when he was hospitalized in critical condition for kidney failure and metastasized prostate cancer. The oncology and renal care specialists were focused on the other end of his body. No one thought to biopsy what was growing on his cheek. It was a melanoma. When would someone else have noticed?

Self-health is the best self-help you can do for yourself. You should never be embarrassed about your body, caring for it or touching it. And you should always discuss abnormal changes or irregularities within and on your body with your physician. Aside from prevention, early detection is the best way to fight a life threatening illness like cancer. Unfortunately, I know people who were less vigilant about monitoring their bodies with self exams for whom it was too late.

So get in touch with yourself and give yourself a hand…or a feel.  And feel good knowing you are taking better steps toward managing your health. Please share this with anyone whom you feel needs to get in touch with his or her health. #Itouchmyself

For more information:

http://www.testicularcancersociety.org/

**http://www.nationalbreastcancer.org/breast-self-exam

***http://www.skincancer.org/skin-cancer-information/early-detection

#ITouchMyself

#ITouchMyself

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fearless Fabulous You Radio Show Debuts Sept 29

Fearless-Fabulous-You

Join me on the air starting September 29, for “Fearless Fabulous You!”- my new radio show. Settle in with a glass or mug of your favorite libation for your personal “Empower Hour” with insights and advice on how to live life on your terms. My guests will include women with inspirational stories of reinvention, achievement and purpose, and I will feature experts in health, nutrition, fitness, books, business, and more.

Fearless Fabulous You! airs live on Mondays, 9 -10 p.m. EST./ 6-7 p.m. PST. on W4WN Radio – The Women 4 Women Radio Network, presented by Talk 4 Media and Talk 4 Radio, the number one ranked internet radio station dedicated to women and empowerment with listeners in all 50 states and 197 countries. http://www.W4WN.com.  Show will be available on demand at   and everywhere the iHeartRadio app is available, under the Shows & Personalities section. http://w4wn.com/radio-shows/fearless-fabulous-you/

My September 29th show will get you moving!  My first guest is Patrice Tanaka who served as inspiration for my own pursuit of finding joy in my life. Patrice is Co-founder, Chief Counselor and Creative Strategist, PadillaCRT, and a self-described serial entrepreneur, co-founding her third PR & marketing agency, PadillaCRT, in September 2013.  In so doing, she and her former partners at CRT/tanaka created with Minneapolis-based Padilla Speer Beardsley the “largest, employee-owned PR agency” and the “15th largest, independent PR agency” in the U.S.  She has been honored by many PR, marketing, business and civic organizations.  Patrice devotes much of her free time to serving on the boards of non-profit organizations dedicated to helping women and children.

patrice tanaka2But Patrice’s full story is not all about being a PR industry powerhouse.  Some years ago she underwent a personal transformation. Like many women, Patrice has reached the pinnacle of her career but she also felt she needed some mental re-invigoration. At the suggestion of an executive coach, she decided to embark on the pursuit of finding more joy her life.  Following a childhood fondness for dancing, Patrice took up ballroom dancing. In many ways the discipline, diplomacy, rhythm and physical challenge of dancing was not unlike the orchestration of a carefully crafted PR campaign for one of Patrice’s clients. She became a competitive ballroom dancer, and one to reckon with!  The physical and spiritual transformation Patrice experienced from immersing herself in the world of ballroom dancing became the basis of her book,  Becoming Ginger Rogers…How Ballroom Dancing Made Me a Happier Woman, a Better Partner and a Smarter CEO, was published in September 2011 by BenBella Books: http://www.becominggingerrogers.com   @sambagal   http://www.padillacrt.com  @PadillaCRT

My second guest will be Dr. Martha Eddy,  CMA, RSMT, Founder, Moving for Life.  Dr. Eddy (Martha to me!)  designs internationally acclaimed exercise and dance programs for specialized health needs. She is a recognized leader and published author in movement science and dance education, fitness and somatic education- mind, body awareness.  She is a Certified Movement Analyst (CMA) and Registered Somatic Movement Therapist (RSMT) practicing Dynamic Embodiment, an approach to movement therapy she created in 1991 and is a affiliated with her work at SUNY-Empire State College in New York,

Martha Eddy 2Dr. Eddy developed Moving For Life (MFL) Dance Exercise for Cancer Survivors in 1999 after her mother passed away from cancer. MFL is a scientifically based self-caring fitness workout especially designed for cancer patients, combining a gentle warm-up. Easy yoga, light aerobics, and targeted strengthening. MFL has been operative in New York City’s major hospitals, has a stellar medical advisory council, and has published research in its effectiveness. Dr. Eddy’s specialized expertise in cancer recovery and MFL’s Dance to Recovery DVD have been featured on NPR. CNN, NBC Today, NY1.  Dr. Eddy and Moving for Life are also featured in my book, Getting Things Off My Chest: A Survivor’s Guide to Staying Fearless & Fabulous in the Face of Breast Cancer.       http://www.movingforlife.org   @MovingForLife_1

Tune in Monday, September 29, 9-10 p.m. EST/6-7 p.m.PST:

Link: http://w4wn.com/radio-shows/fearless-fabulous-you/.

 

Raise Voices, Not Fists

A grown man approaches his elderly mother and punches her in the face. He grabs his sister by the throat and chokes her. He kicks his daughter in the stomach. Then he goes out for a night with the guys.

Shocking! Yes. Disgusting! Yes,  Abuse of any kind is wrong, be against women, children or animals, and we are hearing our fair share of stories about abuse in the news. I wonder:  Why would men who probably wouldn’t think of punching or kicking their own mothers appear to have no problem leveling their wives or girlfriends? How can a man who holds his young daughter in his arms turn around and take a swipe at the mother of his child? It just doesn’t make sense.

We watch Ray Rice cold cock his wife into unconsciousness and drag her limp body from an elevator like a sack of potatoes with disbelief. Why would a man do this? How would Rice react if someone did that to his daughter one day?

Janay Rice, you may be a loyal Baltimore Ravens fan and named your young daughter Rayven, but don’t take one for the team. You may believe you are financially dependent on your husband and in love with a man who runs hot and cold and is the father of your child. You may feel you can’t walk away from your marriage. But you can if you choose and you should not take the abuse or make apologies for him or for you. If he takes a hand to you will he do the same one day to your daughter? Will your daughter take her cue from you?

We are mothers and daughters, sisters and wives. We are nurturers and givers, often too selfless and generous in our love. What we are not intended to be are human punching bags, target practice or objects of ridicule. Until men learn to use their voices against domestic abuse and not their fists against their wives or girlfriends, we will continue to hear these stories. Another woman will be victimized or worse, murdered.

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence “Domestic violence is the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault and/or other abusive behavior perpetrated by one intimate partner against another.” Approximately 42.4 million women in the U.S. have experienced domestic violence in their lifetime. 1 in 3 have experienced physical violence by an intimate partner. Intimate partner violence is most common among women between the ages of 18 and 24. Source and more facts: www.ncadv.org/.

Domestic abuse victims are usually too scared into submission, too intimidated to speak up or, with younger victims, too immature to process and deal what is happening. Women and women’s support organizations continue to speak out in protest, but that’s only half the conversation. Men’s voices aren’t nearly loud enough. They need to roar.

Every woman who is punched, raped or kicked by an intimate partner, is also someone’s daughter or sister crying for help. Domestic abuse is not just “a women’s problem.” Both the victim and the abuser need rehabilitation. It’s a battle both sexes need to face and win.

Sports analysts discuss how recent revelations of spouse and child abuse among players are giving the N.F.L. franchise a black eye. It’s the victims who are receiving the black eyes who matter. The N.F.L. franchise will still prosper; football is a national past time. No one is turning off the television to miss a game.

What we are missing is an opportunity to educate and empower. The N.F.L. has the airwaves and attention of millions to speak out against domestic abuse. The advertisers, instead of monitoring the situation carefully, can be proactive with their media dollars to support the message: “Domestic violence is not a contact sport. We do not tolerate abuse.”  I’d like to see all the money plowed into television advertising for an N.F.L. line of sportswear jerseys for women into an educational program to help women who are victims of domestic abuse.

That’s taking one for the team.

 

 

 

 

Oprah, Are Your Listening?

Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey

“You should be on ‘Oprah’!” people say to me when I tell my story.

“You should be a keynote speaker at women’s events all over the country- like Oprah’s Life You Want Tour or Arianna’s Third Metric,” said a friend. “You’d be a much better speaker than who we are listening to right now,” she whispers in my ear at a local fundraising luncheon.

“You should be another “Oprah” with your own show,” says a PR executive friend. I wish I could afford her services to help me; only her opinion was free.

I am grateful for the vote of confidence and I don’t disagree with their sentiments. But the word should sticks like a thorn in my side. I should be doing all these things and could…and may..and hopefully will.  However, I’m doing the best I can, so simply let me have that moment before making feel I should be doing more or better just as I landed on my feet at a new high. I am Team Me. I don’t want to compete with myself or with anyone. My life is not a race. It’s a balancing act.

Most of us are us doing the best we can in the time we have. Sure, some of us could be doing more or better and maybe we should give it more of an effort, But many of us are just fine with what we have and what we are doing right now. Sometimes to thrive is simply to enjoy being alive and not always to strive. I think we all need to pat ourselves on the back for what we have accomplished rather than kick ourselves for not achieving more.

For me, the pressure of “should” comes with anxiety and – worse- guilt, two of my least favorite sentiments. I am an alpha female born from brilliant, accomplished parents. Early on I was told I should be a better student, should be successful, should find a nice man, should be a generous person, etc. For years I focused more on what I should be doing rather than enjoying what I was doing.

With two published books, two radio shows in the works, a happy marriage, good health, a successful career, and caring friends and family why should it matter what others expect of me? Why should I be anything less than satisfied with what I have done with my life to this point? I may not be Oprah or Arianna but I’m doing okay.

And that’s the lesson for all of us: The only expectations that really matter and should be managed are the ones we set for ourselves. What others expect we should or should not be doing is their opinion, but we should not make it our concern or obsession. And if we set our own expectations so high  that believe we will fail ourselves, maybe it is time to take a reset.

When people say you should be doing this or that, how does it make you feel? Do you take it as a compliment or criticism, or neither? And how do you respond? One way is to say: ” Why, thank you! Great idea! Would you like to give me a hand?” Usually people are generous with advice on what you should be doing and thrifty with offering to help. If you find someone willing to do both, be gracious.

I bet Oprah would tell the young girls at her Leadership Academy in South Africa the same thing I tell young girls here in the United States, “You can do whatever you set your mind to. Believe in yourself. Accept advice; act on your best judgment. Own your reality and value your self-worth. The only size that matters is how you measure up to yourself.”

Hey, Oprah! Are you listening?

To see more posts please visit http://melanieyoung.com

FABULOUS NEWS! My two new national radio shows launch later this month. Please share and tune in.

Mondays, 9-10 p.m. EST “Fearless Fabulous You!”
Featuring inspirational women and wellness, nutrition, fitness and healthy lifestyle experts. Listen to W4WN Radio – The Women 4 Women Radio Network,  the #1 one ranked internet radio station dedicated to women and empowerment.
Link: http://w4wn.com/radio-shows/fearless-fabulous-you/
Starts Sept. 29.

Wednesdays, 2-3 p.m. EST “The Connected Table Live”- Co-Hosting with David Ransom. Meet the dynamic people behind the world of food, beverage and hospitality.
Link: http://w4cy.com/radio-shows/the-connected-table/  


Both shows will be available on demand at http://www.iHeartRadio.com and everywhere the iHeartRadio  app is available under the Shows & Personalities section.

 

 

 

 

The Tears of the Clown

It’s hard to think that the person laughing the loudest may be masking the sound of his teardrops. But that’s what I thought when the news broke about the tragic death-by-suicide of the talented comedian and actor Robin Williams.

Reports say he was battling depression and had dealt with substance abuse for years. The man with a hundred funny faces and boundless kinetic energy on the stage of life could no longer face his audience of demons.

Why it is that so many genuinely funny and talented entertainers who made us laugh out loud for all the right reasons leave us silently crying in sadness with unanswered questions when they suddenly leave us for all the wrong reasons? For an interesting take on this, please read this article: by David Wong, a comedy writer: http://www.cracked.com/quick-fixes/robin-williams-why-funny-people-kill-themselves/

It makes me think of a theatrical comedy-tragedy mask. Except this time it’s not theater. It is reality. Depression is real and lives among many we may know and love. It settles like a dark cloud, breaks the spirit and wears down the soul. Many try to mask it but you can’t cure depression with a bandage.masks

Depression is emotional suppression, isolation, desperation and a darkness that envelopes you. There are many causes and varying degrees of depression just as there are the many people who experience it.

It is hard to fathom, really. Or is it really not? Look around you. Many people you know may be silently battling some form of depression. What a person may show on the outside could be a façade for a hidden dark place inside. The loud laugh is the mask for a silent scream.

What’s important is that we all learn to use our senses to be more sensitive to those people in our lives who may need help but don’t have the capacity to ask for it. Look for signs such as changes in behavior. Listen to what he or she is saying. Show compassion and interest. Touch and hug. Talk and share. We should never be so insensitive to others as we hurry about our lives that we disregard cries for attention and don’t stop to offer help. But sometimes even our best efforts cannot save those we love who deal with depression, and we should never blame ourselves for trying or failing to help.

A comedic genius made his final curtain call by taking his own life. He didn’t have the last laugh. He died in the depths of despair. Some say suicide is selfish. I say it is not because selfish people love themselves too much to take their own lives. It’s the person who has lost all sense of self, and self-worth, who takes his life.

I don’t believe any life should be taken, or taken for granted, Life should be given and shared. But we all know life is complicated. Suicide hurts the people left behind far more than the person who took his own life. Now we have to explain to our children and to ourselves why someone so funny and lovable was sad and tortured inside. And we have no answers, only questions. The joke’s on us this time.

Songwriter George M. Cohan wrote, “Always Leave Them Laughing When You Say Good Bye.”

“I wish that was the case,” said the clown.

sad clown

The State of Happiness

A report by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Research recently named the “happiest cities” in our nation. The state of Louisiana won the jackpot on joy with four happiest places out of 10:  Lafayette (#3), Baton Rouge (#5), Shreveport (#7) and Houma (#8).  Other states high on happiness, depending on which of the lists you read, include: Virginia (Charlottesville and Richmond) and Texas (Houston and Corpus Christi).

My own back yard, New York City, was lowest on the totem pole of the happy poll. It seems the “city that never sleeps” and the “crossroads of the world” has a lot of grumpy and cross residents. Read: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/21/us-unhappiest-cities_n_5606503.html

I think where we reside contributes to, or detracts from, our happiness depending on our living conditions.  Places filled with happier people tend to make other people happy. Places where people are competitive and crowded up against each other tend to make other people discontent. But there are plenty of happy people in New York City and unhappy people in Louisiana, and everywhere else.

I recently returned from trips to New Orleans (not on the list) and Nashville (on the list) where everyone seemed very happy. Maybe it’s the warmer weather, laissez- faire attitude and legendary music in both cities that puts a joyful song in the residents’ hearts. People seem genuinely happy to live in these two cities and even happier to welcome visitors.

I see many people who live in New York City spend a lot of time working long hours to cover the cost of their expensive apartments and city life only to dash out of them on Fridays to go to second homes at the beach or country to get away and relax.

Usually a happy city it is where there are a lower cost of living, access to quality education and cultural activities, jobs to keep people employed, natural beauty and a caring community. But, even in the happiest places there will be unhappy people.

Happiness is not the state you live in, or any location. It is the state of mind that lives within you.  If you are truly a happy person the euphoric feeling will be with you anywhere you go. People and places can make you feel happier. But someone who is truly not happy with herself will feel miserable just about anywhere.

I think the people who are happiest simply may have more manageable expectations on what they expect from themselves or from other people. They live in a state of mental satisfaction versus emotional suspension. They spend more time being active and involved with their community, colleagues or friends rather than isolated or dwelling on what could or should be. They have expectations in life but maybe they just don’t expect too much or dwell on the downside if things don’t happen as planned.

People with lower expectations do not necessarily have lower standards about what they believe in or expect of themselves or others. They appreciate quality and, especially, quality of life. Their standards of measuring what quality means may be different and perfectly fine to them.  People with high expectations don’t always have the best standards of quality. Some are never happy because nothing is ever good enough.HAPPINESSS IS A WAY OF TRAVEL

Maybe some people are less happy because they are always competing with their own elevated expectations of personal social, and financial fulfillment that define what they consider “quality of life.”

You really don’t need to achieve a thing to be truly happy, and life does not owe you anything. Life simple leases you some time on Earth to do what you want with it. You hold the keys that can free your mind, open your heart and unlock your happiness….or not.

What state would you rather live in?

KEY TO HAPPINESS

 

 

Mind your Busyness

It seems everyone I speak to these days talks about how busy they are. The number of people multitasking is multiplying. The demands of keeping up, logging in, staying connected and attending to personal and professional details can be overwhelming.

Managing time and finding time for yourself is probably the number one concern brought up when I interview women about handling their stress and maintaining balance in their lives.

I don’t mind being busy. I mind when being busy becomes non productive or even wasted time. More important, keeping busy should not keep you from enjoying your life and taking care of yourself. A busy mind keeps you young; being too busy to take care of you could do the opposite.

Some people stay busy to distract them from things they don’t really want to address. How many times have you said, “I don’t have time to (fill-in-the-blank)”? is it that you did not have the time or that you just did not want to bother making the time? For example, “I am too busy to exercise.” “I am too busy to get together with friends.” “I am too busy to take a break.”

I tend to keep myself busy when I feel anxious. I start cleaning out drawers and closets, organize files and paperwork. I grew up in a house filled with clutter, so creating order calms me. But that may not work for everyone. Keeping busy can be productive, but staying perpetually busy can be counter productive.

I think it is important to learn to mind your busyness. It’s a matter of time management, setting priorities and accepting that you may not be able to have it all and do all. And that is perfectly fine.

Once you learn to mind your busyness, you will find you have more time to do other things, Here are my tips:

1. Think of managing time like managing your diet. It’s about balance, portion control and not overloading your plate. Don’t bite off more than you can chew and space out your tasks into different parts of the day to give yourself some breathing space.

2. Detach yourself from the computer and especially emails and social media. Life will go on if you miss a few hours of log in time. I set aside certain times of the day to answer emails and connect with social media. Unless your job is managing and monitoring social media full time, you have no need or business staring at a screen all day connecting with people virtually when you could be actively doing something else or and having some face time with people around you.

3. Always have a prepared agenda or list when you attend a meeting or go out to run errands. It is easier to check off a list than realize later you forgot to address or pick up something.

4. Plan dinners or cocktails to gather up all those friends and acquaintances who tell you, “Let’s meet for a drink.” Make it a small gathering and everyone can meet up at once.

5. Delegate or share tasks. Assign chores to specific days of the week. There’s no joy in taking on too much and feeling overloaded. Learn to ask for help.

6. Let voice mail take your messages so you can concentrate on what you are doing or focus on the people you are with. There is nothing better than a great conversation with a friend at the right time, but if the time is not right let them know. It’s more considerate to give someone your full attention than half an ear. There is also nothing ruder than someone who takes a call during a meeting or a meal.

When I was facing my cancer treatment, I told everyone that I would only take calls to talk about how I was doing on Fridays. I called it “Cancer Fridays.” By allocating my time to catch up with friends on Fridays, I could deal with the jumble of other issues without distraction the remainder of the week.

7. Respect the fact that everyone is busy and some may not be the super multitasking maven that you are. It is always polite to ask, “Is this a good time to talk ?” before launching into a conversation. Be patient with emails and texts. I think it is odd that people expect me to respond immediately to a text or email. as if I am permanently attached to my mobile phone,

8. Set priorities. Decide what needs to take precedent first and stick to it. Don’t allow petty distractions to get in the way.

9. Be flexible. If  a schedule changes or an emergency pops up, be ready to roll when everything starts to rock.

10. Keep your busyness to yourself, or at least curate what you share. Talking about how busy you are can make others feel uncomfortable. Some people may feel they are not busy enough. Others may think you are too busy for them.

Finally, never be too busy to enjoy your day, make time for yourself, be considerate of others and seize opportunities that come your way. The worse thing is to look back at a moment in life with regret and admit, “I was too busy.”

MINDING YOUR BUSYNESS2There’s no such thing as being too busy. If you really want something, you’ll make time for it – Nishan Panwar, poet  

The Naked Truth

Summer is when everyone likes to let their hair down and bare their bodies. Off come the business suits and on go the bathing suits, shorts and sandals.  Some people simply forgo bathing suits for birthday suits and drop their inhibitions along with their clothes.

Nudity is receiving plenty of exposure these days.

There are nudist-focused television reality shows, including TLC’s “Buying Naked,” VH1’s “Dating Naked,” and Discovery Channel’s “Naked and Afraid.”  http://nypost.com/2014/06/26/welcome-to-the-brave-nude-world-of-reality-tv/

Dov Charney, CEO of American Apparel, was relieved of his corporate duties for his corporeal naked dance video that went viral http://nypost.com/2014/06/20/american-apparel-ceo-stars-in-bizarre-naked-dancing-video/

Tennis stars Venus Williams and Tomas Berdych are photographed naked in ESPN’s July 11th Body Issue.

http://espn.go.com/tennis/story/_/id/11122532/venus-williams-tomas-berdych-bare-all-body-issue-shoot

Now I am no prude about being nude. I’ve gone topless in St. Tropez. I enjoy a private skinny dip in my swimming pool at home. And in a defining moment to accept my reconstructed body after breast cancer, I posed naked for The Grace Project, a sensitive series of photographic portraits of women who have undergone mastectomies. http://the-grace-project.org/

However, there is a Naked Truth. I call it the Undress Code. Not everyone may be as comfortable with your bare body or the concept of nudity as you may be. So unless you are planning a vacation to a nude beach, campsite or community where going au naturel is the norm, test the social waters before disrobing and jumping in if you are among non nudists. Just as it is a matter of courtesy to ask, “Do you mind if I smoke?” you should ask if anyone minds if you take off your shirt, shorts, shoes, etc. TMB “Too Much Body” is akin to TMI “Too Much Information.” Some people are just not comfortable when others bare and share too much with them.

It’s not just about the issue of total nudity, It’s about baring body parts that some people just may not care to see. I’ve never been a fan of  seeing men eating shirtless at a table or wearing only teeny tiny shorts in my hot yoga classes. I remind my husband to take his bare feet off the coffee table at home. I  think a woman in a well-fitted one piece bathing suit looks better than spilling out of a too small bikini. Sometimes it’s better to tuck in the wiggles and jiggles rather than letting them hang out.

I do believe accepting one’s body as beautiful at any size and age is important. No amount of nips, tucks, toning and other tuneups will amount to anything if you don’t have and project confidence in your body. I wish we could teach that message earlier in schools before some young girls develop negative body images and eating disorders. I wish we could teach people not to bully or discriminate  against anyone whose body looks different. I also wish more people understood the importance of caring for their bodies. A healthy attitude help builds a healthy body along with sound nutrition and exercise.

I also believe there is a time and place for everything, including where and when to bare your body in social situations. Do it because your are comfortable with your body. Don’t do it if makes those around you uncomfortable or someone is pressuring you.   Be comfortable in your skin and confident in your situation, but be sensitive to your surroundings and consider manners when it comes to matters of the flesh.

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