From Fizzle to Sizzle: How To the Spark Back in Your Life

There may come a time when you realize the life or career you had may no longer be available to you. It may not continue to be in your best interest, or you just want to move in a new direction. But life never stands still enough to let you sit a spell and figure it out. Forward is your only option. You ask yourself: What direction am I headed? What’s my next step?

What happens next is a combination of strategy and serendipity. You strive to make good things happen and then relax and let good things happen to you. Along the way you realize change is what you want and not what others want for you. And you discover how authentically amazing you truly are and dump anyone who does not share that view with you.

You need to recharge your emotional batteries, release anger, blame and doubt, reconnect with what you enjoy and what you do well, reframe bad things that happen to you to put them in a better light and set out in a new direction to reclaim your life.

Suddenly the only rules you want to live by are your own with respect, of course, to those who rely on you and support you. If you don’t want to live your life by the book – or by anyone else’s rules – then start writing the next chapter yourself. How do you want yours to read?

Five years ago I was suffering from overwork, was overweight and felt over stressed. I thought my career was flaming out and my spark was gone. A cancer diagnosis and a death in the family were both the tipping point and the jumping off point that drove me to take a leap of faith to pursue other things.

Here’s how my next chapter was written: Rather than spending the rest of her life as a mouthpiece for clients whose loyalty came and went with the economy, she decided to re-purpose her gift of gab, her writing skills and love for storytelling into a new career and new mission. Today she uses her voice in a number of ways to inspire, entertain and engage others to put the spark back in their lives.

I am now author of two books. Getting Things Off My Chest: A Survivor’s Guide to Staying Fearless & Fabulous in the Face of Breast Cancer just received the USA Best Book Award for cancer topics. It is the book’s second award; the other is the 2014 International Book Award for cancer topics.

My new book, Fearless Fabulous You! Lessons on Living Life on Your Terms, was just released. This tiny book is packed with a powerful message to help you take charge of your destiny. In it I share my five Rs to reignite your special spark and turn your life from fizzle to sizzle. 

I now host two national radio shows on iHeart Radio: Fearless Fabulous You! Mondays 9pm ET.  Link to shows:   and The Connected Table LIVE! with husband, David Ransom, Wednesdays, 2pm ET. Link to shows:  iHeart- The Connected Table Live

Most important, I am healthier thanks to making smarter lifestyle choices. Besides wanting to share what seems like an amazing amount of great news that all happened within a short amount of time, I am sharing all this now because we are heading into that time of year when people give thanks for what they have but also give thought to what lies ahead.

This also gives me a chance to thank all of you who have supported, contributed and share their time and energy with me through the journey to date. There are several more chapters being written. So stay tuned!

If you need help turning your life from fizzle to sizzle contact me. I took me almost six years to figure it out. I can help you sparkle in six months.

Program notes:

Tonight, Nov. 17, 9pmET on Fearless Fabulous You! on  W4WN. My guest is Philippa Kingsley, a VortexHealing® therapist and animal communications specialist, Philippa will discuss dealing with grief after losing a pet.

Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2pm ET with David Ransom on The Connected Table Live on W4CY – Cookbook author, Rick Rodgers, The Big Book of Sides, and Franck Duboeuf proprietor, Les Vins Georges Duboeuf,





Love, Loss & Pets on Fearless Fabulous You! Nov. 17

One of the most heart wrenching experiences in my life was saying good-bye to my beloved Maltese dog, Chance in 2012. Adopted from a shelter 14 years earlier, he was feeble, blind and suffering from a cancerous tumor pressing into his brain. I agonized over my decision to euthanize him and then drowned my sorrows with my husband David in wine. I share my story of learning to let go of Chance in my new book, Fearless Fabulous You! Lessons on Living Life on Your Terms!



Recently several Facebook friends have posted photos announcing the loss of their pets. Grieving for a beloved animal to me is no different than losing any other member of the family. I also worried for the welfare of the dogs whose owners were diagnosed with the Ebola virus. One in Spain was unfortunately- and wrongly –euthanized. The other was happily reunited with its owner after she recovered.

As the parent of another adopted male Maltese, Sazerac, I thought about what would happen to Sazerac if neither David or I were able to care for him. Have we properly planned for his well-being? Fortunately, his “grandmother” lives in Tennessee with three other Maltese and would take care of him.



Providing for your pet goes beyond food, water and shelter. November 17 my guests will include two women who address caring for your pet in distinct ways. The first is Philippa Kingsley,  a certified VortexHealing® Divine Energy Practitioner.

Philippa specializes in animals that have been rescued and have behavioral issues due to their previous life of abuse, irrespective of whether the abuse is physical or neglect.  Often, the animal has been adopted into a loving home and although it sees the new environment, still exhibits signs of stress and behavior. This manifests from fear, and is stored in the cellular system.

Philippa uses animal communication and VortexHealing to help the animal heal at the cellular level and on a spirit level.  VortexHealing transforms issues that are stored in the cellular system, including the energetic bodies, eg; mental, physical, emotional, spiritual, and karmic.  This helps the client understand the root cause of the issue and enable the animal and client to truly bond, overcome, and heal the past together.

Philippa Kingsley

Philippa Kingsley

A professionally trained chef from London, she moved to Atlanta with her husband and two English Cocker Spaniels, Voguie and Cosmo in 1996. The grief she experienced following the losses of both Voguie in 2004 and Cosmo in 2009 coupled with the death of her beloved father, moved Philippa even further down the path to help both humans and animals and resulted in her book Rising Above Grief: For People & Pets.  One chapter called Helpful Healing Tools shares how to help you heal at this time.

Philippa helps people find comfort and closure, after a beloved pet has passed by connecting with the animal in spirit. She says this is a purely personal choice and that  “Love, Caring and Sharing is the most important fact of life. The mutual love and bond for all the animals that enter our lives is timeless and forever.”



Animal lover and Attorney-at-Law Rachel Hirschfeld is a nationally renowned expert in estate planning and the preeminent authority on continuing protection of all animals. Her mission is to ensure that every pet that has found a loving home is guaranteed a secure future.

Rachel Hirschfeld

Rachel Hirschfeld

She was one of the first attorneys in the country to focus on what is now known as animal law. Ms. Hirschfeld co-founded and co-chairs the New York County Lawyers Association’s Animal Law Committee and works closely with many animal centers, shelters, sanctuaries and the animal committees of the American Bar Association, New York City and New York State Bar Associations

Through her practice, and the devastating illnesses of her beloved shelter dog, Soupbone – the missing link in her life that ultimately set her on the path of her most important life’s work – she created the Pet Protection Agreement® pet trust* and the Hirschfeld Pet Trust© both of which are legal protection for a pet’s continued care. Ms. Hirschfeld’s Pet Protection Agreement® is available through the online document service,, reaching millions of people.

Rachel is author of the book: PETRIARCH: The Complete Guide to Financial and Legal Planning for a Pet’s Continued Care published by the American Institute of Certified Accountants (AICPA). This book provides the information you need to protect the welfare and security of family pets and all animals. A companion CD includes questionnaires, forms, and templates.



Fearless Fabulous You! hosted by Melanie Young airs Mondays 9p.m. ET/6pm PT on W4WN- the Women 4 Women Network and is available on the IHeart app under Shows and Personalities

Melanie’s new book, Fearless Fabulous You! Lessons on Living Life on Your Terms is available on AmazonBarnes & Noble and other booksellers nationwide.

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The Seven Year Switch-Marriage on the Menu

Marriage is a lot like food. You have to nourish it with fresh, wholesome goodness, trim off the stale parts, toss out anything going rancid and unpleasant, add a loving dose of sugar and, of course, sass it up with spice.

Melanie & David both agree on drinking good wine!

Melanie & David both agree on drinking good wine!


Sazerac gets jealous

I’ve been married just over seven years to a wonderful husband, David Ransom. I never worry about the infamous “Seven Year Itch.” David is loyal and protective like a dog. In fact my real dog, Sazerac, is quite jealous of him.

But, we are going through the Seven Year Switch. 

You know how in some marriages spouses end up sleeping in separate bedrooms because someone snores and kicks the other one? Well, my husband recently suggested that it may be time for separate refrigerators. Some marriages are tested in the bedroom; ours is being tested in the kitchen.

You see, I’ve switched to a healthier diet, and David is a man-eater. I have taken the vow of eating cleaner food and even started cooking wholesome dishes (contrary to my earlier life). David is flirting with the concept of healthy eating and he certainly accommodates my desires to eat better. But he’s just not married to it. We are a modern day Mr. and Mrs. Spratt – one eats fat; the other eats lean.

I am Queen of Salads!

I am Queen of Salads!

He accepts the flavorful, vegetarian dishes we now eat in solidarity with my desire to stay healthy after cancer. He seems amused and titillated (sort of and sometimes) at my efforts to cook. When we started dating I stored shoes in my unused city oven and lived on dining out and takeout. He rearranged my kitchen when he moved in with me.

The other night  I watch him gamely eat his bowl of roasted chickpeas, spinach and tomatoes quietly. Sometimes he grills himself a chop for old times sake. He draws the line at bell peppers and beets.

But when the cat’s away, the mouse does play. My husband is a CH-EATer. He cheat eats. After attending my Institute for Integrative Nutrition School conference this weekend,  I returned home earlier than planned. I caught him in the act of making a decadently rich, carb-loaded meal of big, fat sausages, bread stuffing and dark chocolate brownies (a gold star for using dark chocolate!). On the counter were shreds of orange Cheddar cheese and crumbs. More evidence

A recent grocery store run to stock up for a week while I went on book tour yielded bags of chips, pretzels, pork chops, beer, peanut butter, boxed granola and more cheese. Down the strip mall at my organic foods store I purchased nuts, seeds, Greek yogurt and unsweetened almond milk.

We are moving to separate shelves and bins in the refrigerator. A leftovers hoarder, his area is filled with plastic containers of meals past and half filled jars of who knows what. My section is bags of vegetables and yogurt. We both love pickles and eggs and especially pickled eggs. But, I draw the line at his stinky kimchi, even though he reminds me that fermented cabbage is part of healthy, probiotic diet.

 Bouquet of Cauliflowers

Bouquet of Cauliflowers

But, before we try separate equipment and single serving meals, we are working on cooking together, to create a healthy, happy balance of foods I love and those he desires. Marriage is give and take. I will give him less grief about his diet, and he will take more of my advice about improving it. Food is sharing love around the table. And I will take second helpings of love any time he serves it up!

Brewing a Cup of Love. He makes me smile in the morning

Brewing a Cup of Love. He makes me smile in the morning

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Tune in this week: “Fearless Fabulous You!”
Mondays 9pm ET/6pm PT on W4WN – the Women 4 Women Network  #fearlessfabulousyou
My guests this week will be Linda Gassenheimer, Cookbook Author, NPR Radio Host and Miami Herald Columnist, and Maria Marlowe, Certified Health Coach and Weight Loss Advisor  Read about them here:

“The Connected Table Live” with co-host David Ransom Wednesdays 2pm ET/11am PT. on W4CY @connectedtable  #connectedtable
Our guests this week are: the Insatiable Restaurant Critic Gael Greene and Master Sommelier Andrea Robinson, read more here

Both shows will be available on demand at IHeart and everywhere the iHeartRadio  app is available under the Shows & Personalities section.

Diabetes Prevention Starts with Healthy Eating

November is Diabetes Awareness Month. Today over 156 million adults and children have diabetes or are prediabetic. Obesity increases the risk of diabetes (as well as heart disease, stroke and a number of cancers). My guests November 10 on Fearless Fabulous You! both address the topic of healthy eating to manage your weight.

Linda Gassenheimer

Linda Gassenheimer

Linda Gassenheimer is a best-selling cookbook author who has written three new books: diabetes:  No-Fuss Diabetes Desserts, Simply Smoothies: Fresh & Fast Diabetes-Friendly Snacks & Complete Meals, Fast and Flavorful: Great Diabetes Meals from Market to Table.

Linda and I will discuss the myths and realities of diabetes to help you stop the progression towards diabetes through healthier food shopping, snacking and meal preparation.No-Fuss Diabetes Desserts_FrontFNL

Linda writes the Miami Herald “Dinner in Minutes” column distributed on the McClatchy Wire Service to over 6 million readers each week.

She is the producer and host of the weekly segment part of Topical Currents, “Food News and Views,” on WLRN 91.3 FM National Public Radio and has made guest appearances on numerous radio and television programs throughout the United States and Canada. Linda has appeared on national and international television shows including “Good Morning America,” “Canada AM” and Food Network.



Maria Marlowe

Maria Marlowe

Maria Marlowe helps busy women lose weight and keep it off for good through developing healthier eating and lifestyle habits. As a Certified Health Coach, Maria leads weekly weight loss in New York City and online, and is constantly adding to her healthy, plant-based, recipe arsenal on her website She is also the author of Detox without the Deprivation, a 3-day meal plan to kickstart weight-loss.Detox Cover

Maria has appeared on the “Dr. Oz Show” and is the host for the Institute for Integrative Nutrition’s video web series, IINDepth, which explores current and often controversial topics in nutrition and the state of health in America. Her recipes have been featured by Ivanka Trump and  Shape. She has worked with celebrities, corporate executives, and politicians, and currently coaches a limited number one-on-one clients.



FEARLESS FABULOUS YOU COVERFearless Fabulous You! “the women’s empower hour”  airs Monday evenings, 9pmET/6pm PT on W4WN-the Women 4 Women Network and Host Melanie Young interviews dynamic, inspiring women and health and wellness experts.#fearlessfabulousyou


The Sins & Virtues of Self Esteem

I talk frequently on the topic of “turning stumbling blocks into building blocks.” I have become a master re-builder of taking the debris life throws in your way and creating something new and worthwhile.

People ask me for my insights, and I’ve managed to turn them into a second book coming out next week, Fearless Fabulous You! Lessons on Living Life on Your Terms.

One of my first lessons- learned when I was quite young  – was the importance of having strong self-esteem and valuing your self worth. Whatever happens in life, these need to be a firm foundation for believing in yourself and your potential.

You can be your own biggest enemy if you under value your own self worth. Many of us may have gone through periods of self-doubt. Usually this happens during times of change and especially facing stumbling blocks.

In order to keep a strong footing to move forward and navigate stumbling blocks with confidence, here are two steps to focus on…one step at a time if you need it.

1. Release these seven deadly self-busting, stress enhancing emotional “sins” from your state of mind.  They are:  Anger, Blame, Doubt, Fear, Guilt, Shame and Worry. These are toxic to your well-being; they weigh you down.

2. Replace them with these seven healthy “virtues” of strong self-esteem: Appreciation, Confidence, Diligence, Graciousness, Kindness, Patience and Respect. These can be the wind in your sails.

How you do the above is a process…and a journey toward better self-awareness and self-appreciation.

Start with yourself.  Give your self the proper attention it needs and deserves to stay physically and emotionally healthy, strong and confident. Don’t short change yourself in this area. If you require time and space, make it. If you need help, ask for it. Nurture your self.

Then, eliminate anything or anyone that makes you feel less than worthy. Move away from them. No one is worth having in your life if they truly do not value the fabulous person you are. Never sacrifice your sense of self simply to please someone else.

People have asked me if all this talk of self-esteem is too self-obsessed. What about having humility? My response is this: People with strong self-esteem also have humility because they tend to be more grounded. An individual with strong self esteem is a confident person who neither has to build herself up to look better or humble herself to make someone else look better.

Strong self-esteem can help you navigate the worst storms and teach you to appreciate the light at the end of the tunnel even more. Everything else you have in life is simply a prop.


          Nathanial Branden, Psychotherapist

Nathanial Brandon, Psychotherapist



Inspiring Women on Fearless Fabulous YOU!

Each week I interview inspiring women and experts in health and wellness on my Monday night radio show, Fearless Fabulous You! on W4WN- the Women 4 Women Network. Usually I file show information on this website under my “Radio Show” link but starting this week I want to bring my fabulous guests front and center as an addition to this blog to share their stories. Here are my guests for Monday November 3:

Regina Ragone, Food Director, Family Circle Magazine.-Teaching Families the Importance of Smart Nutrition and Healthy Cooking

Regina Ragone, R.D. Food Director, Family Circle Magazine

Regina Ragone, R.D.
Food Director, Family Circle Magazine

Regina Ragone MS, RDN, is Food Director of Family Circle magazine, where she is responsible for the magazine’s food content for its 17 million readers.  Each month Regina’s test kitchen produces 30-40 recipes per issue, and she tastes every single one! Regina has devoted her career to educating women, children and families on good nutrition and healthy cooking and is the author of Win the Fat War Cookbook, Decadent Diabetic Desserts and Meals that Heal.

Regina said she grew up snacking on junk food which caused her to become overweight. This is despite having a mother who was a registered dietitian. (Regina says much of her poor snacking habits came from the school lunchroom and visiting friends’ homes.) After being sent home from school with a note saying, “Your daughter is too fat; put her on a diet,” Regina’s mother patiently worked with her to teach her better eating habits. Regina’s struggle with her weight as a young girl inspired her to study nutrition, and she has had a successful career teaching women around the country, especially mothers, how to maintain better eating habits while enjoying your food.

Regina is also co-founder with Dr. Susan Mitchell of Power Surge Sisters, covering women’s issues from health and nutrition to menopause. With a Who’s Who list of clients and decades of experience, this dynamic duo of nationally-recognized nutrition experts and registered dietitian nutritionists deliver their nutrition message with a one-two punch to help you harness your energy, power and beauty. 

Regina was Vice President of food and nutrition at Hunter and Ogilvy Public Relations, as well as Food Editor for Prevention and Weight Watchers magazine. She also served as the test kitchen director for Ladies’ Home Journal magazine and was an assistant manager at the Global Consumer Food Center of the Campbell Soup Company. Additionally, she was an adjunct professor of Food Science at New York University. She has lectured extensively on food and nutrition and has made television appearances on NBC’s Today Show and Good Day New York on the Fox Network demonstrating how healthy foods can be fun and easy to cook. Regina is a member of The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and Les Dames d’Escoffier.


Heidi Kühn, Founder/CEO, Roots of Peace- Building Peace “From the Ground Up” To Eradicate Landmines Around the World

Heidi Kühn Founder & CEO Roots of Peace

Heidi Kühn Founder & CEO Roots of Peace

Inspired by the humanitarian work of the late Princess Diana, in 1997 media executive Heidi Kühn established Roots of Peace, a not-profit organization dedicated to the eradication of landmines world-wide and the transformation of former minefields into thriving farmland. The organization has worked in mine-affected countries, including Afghanistan, Angola, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Cambodia, Iraq, Israel and Palestine, and Vietnam, restoring economic viability through its demine-replant-rebuild model.

The Roots of Peace Mines To Vines programs have been recognized by global leaders around the world, including UN Secretary-Generals Kofi Annan and BAN Ki-moon, Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel, and President Mahmoud Abbas of Palestine, Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis, all of whom have applauded Heidi Kühn and her organization for its grounded mission to plant the roots of peace on earth.

Through Kühn’s leadership, Roots of Peace has forged innovative public/private partnerships with leaders of the Napa Valley, Silicon Valley, and the U.S. government, resulting in over one million dollars in matching funds to remove landmines in war-torn regions around the world.  Today, as the U.S. and Allied troups draw down in Afghanistan, Roots of Peace is the largest NGO under contract, working in all 34 provinces, to provide a comprehensive approach to restoring rural agricultural lands and rebuilding livelihoods.

Heidi has been recognized internationally for her vision and work creating a humanitarian organization with a mission “to build peace from the ground up.” She is the recipient of many prestigious local and international awards including the Cal Berkeley Alumni Award for Excellence and Achievement, the SKOLL Award for Social Entrepreneurship, the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis – National Jefferson Award for Public Service and most recently the San Francisco – Ho Chi Minh City Distinguished Humanitarian Award 2014.


Rethinking Pink

154x230pinkpetalsUnless you are living under a rock, albeit painted pink, you know that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Social media sites are awash in pink photos. Everyone from N.F.L. football players to everyday moms are donning pink sneakers and stepping out to raise awareness and funds for numerous causes. Pink parties with pink cupcakes and punch and balloons and branded pink gifts are being hosted coast to coast. And pink is showing up on Delta airplanes, Minnesota National Guard army tanks, scooters and drill bits. Men don pink tutus for videos and pink ties for more conservative appearances. Women wear bejeweled pink bras and bracelets, boas and hairpieces to march and everyone wears pink ribbons.

As a breast cancer survivor and health advocate I support a number of national and grassroots causes, especially those that give direct support for patients. Having been down that road I know research is important for long term gain, but when you are facing life and death decisions about your health and possible loss of a body part, worrying about how to pay non-reimbursed medical bills and make ends meet, and striving to manage a “new normal” for you and your family… down the road seems really far away.

I’m glad so many people, companies and the media give Breast Cancer Awareness Month so much attention. Many people have criticized companies for “pinkwashing,” using breast cancer awareness as a public relations activity to reach that important target market: women. As a marketing professional, I get that message and have always counseled clients to build solid and meaningful charitable partnerships and not one-night stands.

Cynics call October “Pinktober.” I am not a cynic. I like to see women’s health receive the attention because women do not always put their own health first, and they should.  But I feel a little sad when October ends only because many companies and journalists redirect their attention to other “seasonal causes” that sell their products and newspapers, viewers and ratings. Breast cancer is a 365 day occurrence with one in eight women diagnosed and 40,000 deaths annually. When the pink parties are over for everyone else, the party’s not over for the women (and men) still facing the disease and hoping to beat it, or living in fear of a recurrence.

I also feel badly for all the other cancer survivors in the world whose diagnosis is not as pretty in pink. Where are their parties? Who is walking for them? What teams are wearing their color?

I wonder: What would have happened if my own diagnosis had been pancreatic cancer, which runs in the paternal side of my family. Breast cancer did not; prostate did…and melanoma. They are all connected to the BRCA2 genetic mutation which I have. The personal outcome for pancreatic cancer is not always “in the pink.” I don’t hear of many parties and ribbons and cute T-shirts for pancreatic cancer. A pancreas isn’t very pretty on a T-shirt, but it’s awfully important to your functioning digestive system. In fact, do you know when Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month is?  It’s November.  I’m curious to see the level of media attention Pancreatic Cancer Awareness receives.

There is an entire calendar of cancer awareness months and a rainbow of colors. I have friends who wear multiple colors and are doing fine, thank goodness!

What really matters more than ribbons and T-shirts, parties, cupcakes and balloons is this: Cancer Prevention. We all can have a role in preventing cancer by starting to take better care of our personal health through a healthier diet, regular exercise, stress management, reducing alcohol intake, eliminating smoking, being aware of changes in and on your body and not ignoring them and making sure your medical exams and records are up-to-date.

That’s a better way to stay “in the pink.”144x192pinkazalea




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.



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.



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.” Rachel notes that the word “incapacitated” is a legal term that defines a condition that allows others to make financial and personal decisions for the pet. The term ‘unable to care for’ is more accurate and less explosive. The danger of using the word ‘incapacitated’ is that it may be used to describe the pet owner’s possible mental state and used as evidence in a guardianship proceeding.”

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.”


Melanie on her wedding day with Best Dog Chance

Melanie on her wedding day with Best Dog Chance


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:

Brittany and Dan on their wedding day, September 2012 source:


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:

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.

Brittany Maynard

Listen to Brittany Maynard’s story here

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:


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

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