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! Disgusting!  Of course. Abuse of any kind is wrong. I wonder though: 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 a sister or 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 can’t walk away from your marriage, but you should not take the abuse or make apologies. If he takes a hand to you will he do the same one day to your daughter?

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 women will be victimized or worse, murdered. Women will continue speak out in protest, but men’s voices in support aren’t nearly loud enough.

I also think there are  some double standards among those who have the ability to take action and speak out. A black sports hero pummels his wife and I don’t see Al Sharpton and his convoy stepping up for some sound bites, but he’s front and center to rally support against violence when a white policeman attacks a black man. Where are the organized marches against the abuse of women? Are we too gender blind?

Sports analysts discuss how recent stories 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. I’d like to see the N.F. L. redistribute Ray Rice’s salary to create a public service campaign against domestic 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. The N.F.L. has the voice and the audience of so many men in this country. Think of the impact it could make.

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.

94881-Royalty-Free-RF-Clipart-Illustration-Of-A-Stick-People-Adam-And-Eve-With-Blurred-Private-Parts

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I

Words from My Dad

CIMG3491My Dad left this world November 2, 2009. I saved a few emails that he always wrote in CAPS. I told him “Dad, when you send emails in CAPS it means you are SHOUTING.” He responded, “I am deaf in one ear. That’s why I shout, even in emails.”

But I wish I could still hear his voice. When people leave you sometimes it’s their voice you  find you miss deeply. I miss Dad’s soothing voice when I was having a panic attack, his encouraging voice when I was pitching new business, and his commanding voice when it was time to “march out the door.” When I was young I was scared when he raised his voice at me; when I was older I just shouted back. We discussed; we argued; we teased; we shared.

I wish I had written down what he had to say or recorded his voice. I do my best to remember his wry sense of humor and how he would heave with a hearty hee-haw laugh at his own pranks and jokes. On June 8th on his birthday and again on Father’s Day I try to conjure up his voice, now a distant echo in my mind.

So I do my best to write down what I remember and encourage anyone with one or both parents still alive to listen to them, record their voice and keep in somewhere safe. One day that voice may become a whisper or a rasp, and then it will disappear.

The world according to Mel:

“Melanie, I am giving you the ‘5-P Award’ for “Pretty Piss Poor Prior Planning” – He’d say this when I royally screwed up.

“Melanie, you’ve got to ‘Play Hardball’ in business. He gave me a paperweight baseball with this slogan on it that I keep at my desk. My staff’s nickname for him was “HardBall Mel.”

“Melanie was ‘poorly engineered and badly accounted for.'”  This is what means to be the second baby born in the New Year, missing out on both prizes and a year-end tax deduction…not to mention causing my party-loving  parents to leave a New Year’s bash early.

“You’ve have it cattywampus” – Anything off kilter or askew – certainly not the engineering terms he learned at West Point!

“This weighs a shitload.”- A form of measurement.  Also, used as “You are going to be in a shitload of trouble if your Mother finds out.”

“It’s AligaTORpiss “- His description of a bad wine. For years my mother didn’t realize AligaTORpiss meant “Aligator Piss.”

“No chuppah; no shtuppah” – No sex before marriage.

“Why buy the cow when the milk is free?” (see above).

“There is always an angle”- The true C.P.A. in him.

“Let’s eat some Shooshi”- A plate of raw fish.

“I am deaf in my left ear. I call it my ‘Buy Me, Give Me, Get Me  Ear’. It’s the one that faces Sonia in bed.”

“We’ll split the cost. I want you to have this. Just don’t tell your Mother.”

“Daddy will fix it. Don’t worry. We will work it out.”

Until the end he tried to fix everything for me to make life run better and smoother. He was always a phone call away and made several calls to me during the day to ‘check in.” They say he died with his cell phone close by his bed to be able to reach me if I needed him. In the end he may have needed me more.

The only thing he could not fix was a cancer diagnosis, his or mine, or the reality that life is only ours for a brief time on Earth. Father Time took my Dad to another place. Now, when a cardinal flies by, I like to think it’s Dad checking in.9860764-male-northern-cardinal-cardinalis-cardinalis-on-a-branch-covered-with-snow

So for those of you with Fathers, listen to their goofy stories and bad jokes, let them reminisce, accept the baggy jeans or shorts and the plaid Dad shirt, the bad comb-over and the umpteen little things that make him uniquely your “Dad.” And don’t reserve just Father’s Day to let unsaid words be spoken.

 

 

Is it Time for a “Friendervention”?

Recently at a restaurant, the dinner conversation drifted to the topic of friendship. One of the women at the table said that she noticed a few of her friends had “unfriended” her on Facebook. These were not virtual friends; they were people she had known and socialized with over the years with real “face time” rather than just Facebook.

We discussed how some friends stay constant and others drift in and out of your life. Some are seasonal friends; you connect for ski trips or at the beach. Some are friends by location; you hang out with them at them at certain bars, clubs or playgrounds. Others are long-distance, and you stay in touch and make occasional visits. Still others maybe never were true friends after all, only acquaintances whose lives passed through yours for a brief time. Then there are fair-weather friends who blow soft and cold depending on their buddy barometers.

Friendship is much like a garden. Seeds of friendship are planted during a get-acquainted period that can be a very short or longer growing season depending on the people and the situation. Friendship, like seedlings, needs to be cultivated and nurtured. If you ignore it, the relationship may wither. Some friends are perennials; you know they will always be there for you even you don’t see them all the time. Others are annuals; they pass through your life once or twice and then move on, or you see them during the holidays or at a yearly gathering.

Some friendships flourish when there are more people engaged. Much like the berry bush that needs a sibling plant to bloom, some friendships survive better among a cluster of friends. On the other hand, you may need to weed out your friendship garden from time to time when friendships grow toxic.

Toxic friends are not friends, neither are friends who don’t have your back or talk behind it incessantly. A good friend will have your back and will tell what they feel about things to your face, whether you like it or not.

We’re all too polite when it comes to telling people how we feel, or sharing our opinions. We don’t want to hurt people’s feelings or make them mad. But it’s far more maddening when someone won’t tell you to your face what people are saying behind your back.

I believe in the code of friendervention. This means:

1. If your friend is royally screwing up her life, you will gather the courage to get it off your chest and tell it to her straight that she needs to fess up, face up and fix up her mess or seek help to do it.

2. If a friend is dragging you down with negativity and bad karma, you will address it with her or make the decision to weed her out of you life, if not for the long term, then the immediate short term.

3. If you spend more time connecting online with people you barely know and less time with people living under your roof or in your local community, then you need a social media friendervention to re-balance.

4. If you or a friend spends more time complaining or criticizing rather than conversing about things that are genuinely interesting, someone needs afriendervention to reset the tone and topic.

5. A true friend will accept you at worst and cheer you on at your best. She will be with you during your feast and famine times. A true friend is nourishment for the spirit. But the relationship needs to be a balanced diet of give and take.

6. If you haven’t heard from a friend in a long time, don’t sit around and wait and wonder what happened. Pick up the phone or drop her an email or send a real old-fashioned letter and say, “Haven’t heard from you for awhile. I just wanted to say I’m thinking about you.” It’s amazing how many people drift apart simply because they don’t bother to connect. Communication is the glue that keeps friendships together.

friendervention is much like maintaining a garden. You have to clear out debris and weeds, mulch and water to encourage healthy growth; trim and replant to ensure long term and appreciate the blooms when they are around. You also have to accept that that nature — both mother and human — are not perfect.

WOMAN WATERING FLOWERS

 

There are only two people who can tell you the truth about yourself – an enemy who has lost his temper and a friend who loves you dearly.  –  Antisthenes (445BC – 365BC)- Quoted in The Book of Ancient Wisdom, ed. Bill Bradfield, 2005

Winning Isn’t Everything But It Sure Feels Good!

Getting Things Off My Chest wins 2014 International Award for Cancer-Health Books

Getting Things Off My Chest wins 2014 International Award for Cancer-Health Books

I am thrilled to report that  “Getting Things Off My Chest: A Survivor’s Guide to Staying Fearless & Fabulous in the Face of Breast Cancer” is recipient of the 2014 International Book Award for Cancer-Health topics. The award was announced May 21 by American Book Fest.

My goal writing this book was to help women stay focused and confident at a time when it feels like cancer is taking over their lives. Winning this award is bittersweet: It took having breast cancer myself and losing a dear friend to the disease to give me the experience and inspiration to write Getting Things Off My Chest,” I am continually touched by the thank you letters from the women who have read my book. Knowing my book is helping women and boosting their self esteem is the ultimate reward.

I turned to writing during my treatment as therapy to stay focus and combat “chemo brain.” I have always been a bit of a “list diva” and I kept detailed checklists of insights and tips learned during treatment from my own experience and from fellow survivors. This became the basis for Getting Things Off My Chest.

There were people in publishing who told me “No one is interested in another breast cancer book or story.” But, I knew that something was missing: a solid, sensible “full circle” approach to  managing cancer treatment while maintaining quality of life and sense of self-worth. Life doesn’t stop for cancer and having cancer should not stop anyone from living life to the fullest possible.

The International Book Awards (IBA) are presented by the American Book Fest.  Over 300 winners and finalists were announced in over 80 categories. Awards were presented for titles published in 2012, 2013 and 2014. Jeffrey Keen, President and CEO of American Book Fest, said this year’s contest yielded over 1200 entries from authors and publishers around the world, which were then narrowed down to the final results.  Full results listing for all categories can be found at http://www.InternationalBookAwards.com.  AMERICAN BOOK FEST covers books from all sections of the publishing industry—mainstream, independent, & self-published. http://www.AmericanBookFest.com

To purchase Getting Things Off My Chest or to post a review on Amazon.com please visit:http://www.amazon.com/Getting-Things-Off-Chest-Survivors-ebook/dp/B00F5KPT42/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1400875604&sr=1-1&keywords=getting+things+off+my+chest

Getting Things Off My Chest 2x3

 

Six Degrees of Education

This month around the nation, dignitaries and celebrities are sharing words of wisdom to eager graduates at high school, college, and university commencements. I am still waiting for my invitation to speak.

But, if I were asked, here is an abbreviated version of what I would say. I call it “Six Degrees of Education.”

1.  Your Education never ends. It evolves. What you have learned until today is just that and no more.  Realize you may need to go back to school, take more courses and be open to new ideas to remain relevant and on top of change.  Degrees are not necessarily the temperature for assessing future success. You may earn a degree or two in life, and the certificates will grace your wall. But how you apply and assert yourself, make connections, seize opportunities and are open to ideas, change and a little serendipity are what will impact your success barometer.

2. Experience is the best education you will receive. Books and classes will provide you knowledge and skills. Experience teaches you how to utilize them. However, I have learned that if you ever want to teach at a university, plan on earning a masters degree.  Certifications, higher degrees and letters still seem to matter over vast experience in the world of academia.

3. Knowledge is what you accumulate from education and experience. Using that knowledge effectively is your choice, but try not to waste either knowledge or time. There are many people who dream of being in your shoes to have both knowledge and time on their side.

4. Wisdom is the understanding you gain from knowledge and your ability to clarify and apply it to your life and to share it with others.  Wisdom is time honored and should be respected. I’d rather hear gifted words from a wise person than from someone lecturing me from a text book any day,

5. Intuition is learning to listen to your gut instinct and knowing how to respond. It is the inner voice giving you a lecture. You can learn a lot about yourself and how to handle situations better through intuition. I have made many smart decisions following my intuition rather than adhering to conventional wisdom.

6. Achievement is a measure of who we are and how we make an impact. Success is a measure of what we accomplish. Always aim to achieve and then be happy when what you do achieve becomes a success. And never let anyone define your success for you or force you to change to become their version of “success.”

To get by in life, you need knowledge from education and experience. But it’s your intuition and wisdom that will enable you to make the best decisions that will ultimately help you achieve all you dream of to become your definition of success.

What will matter is not your success, but your significance. - Michael Josephson, from the poem “What Will Matter”

Your attitude not your aptitude will determine your altitude. – Zig Ziglar