I’ve been “in my head” a lot lately. Thinking about all of my responsibilities. Things that I am concerned about. I’ve learned how to remain calm and stay positive. I have learned how to “nurture the now.” When my thoughts drift to thinking about how I will pay my taxes and what will happen when my firstborn goes off to college, I calm myself by recalling that worrying and over-thinking does nothing but create stress.
Knowing that stress causes ailments to manifest and weaken me, I recall the goodness that surrounds me and I regain my strength. It is almost instant. My head lifts. I feel light. When I walk, I walk tall. When I speak, I speak with love.
“Learn to calm down the winds of your mind, and you will enjoy great inner peace.” ~Remez Sasson, Author of Peace of Mind in Daily Life @RemezSasson
When I think about the future, I do all I can to replace the worrisome thoughts that creep into my mind with thoughts of hope. I begin to dream about the wonderful possibilities. The beautiful memories of my youth and my life with my parents come to mind. I know I will build those memories with my own children. I imagine what it will be like to have grandchildren, to travel with my husband and to retire and have time to enjoy things like gardening and shopping. A huge smile is on my face!
When I dream hopeful thoughts, I think about the now. What am I feeling now. I am happy. I am feeling good. I love my family. I have friends. I have the capability of handling anything that comes my way. I have managed just fine so far. I am in my peaceful zone.
What are you worrying about ?
How can you create peace of mind for yourself right now?
In order to express myself, I must first accept myself.
One of my biggest fears about expressing myself and sharing my creativity and talents has always been the fear of being laughed at or dismissed. I have so many defense mechanisms in place to avoid being laughed at and ridiculed. I don’t want to place blame. That doesn’t change things now. Heck, I don’t even want to explore the reasons why I am the way I am. It won’t really matter. I already know. I am the way I am. I accept myself the way I am. I have fears and I handle them.
I am at a point in my life that I have accepted myself and now I am ready to express myself. I began doing that when I began blogging. Sharing my thoughts, my feelings, and my experiences with the “world” – with you – has been the key that unlocked my true self and set me free! That freedom has fueled the flame that keeps my desire for love, joy and happiness burning in my heart.
It’s my time to shine!
This week I had the opportunity to share one of my poems at a performance of spoken word alongside some very talented musicians, poets, and artists. When I was asked if I wanted to read a poem I said, “Yes!” without hesitation. When I was asked if I was nervous, I said, “Yes!” but it was the excitement kind of nerves, not the sick or stage fright kind. The fears that came to mind were brief fleeting moments of panic. What if I mess up? What if they laugh at me? What if no one likes my poem. What if I get sick to my stomach? What if I have an anxiety attack? What if I get a migraine or vertigo and can’t go on? These things have happened before.
The thoughts of my biggest fears did not remain in my consciousness for very long. I have always wanted to get to a point in my life where the things I enjoy doing are not a challenge. They are just a part of me. I want to show the world that I can do these things well. I have always wanted to be able to share my talents without concern for what others think, without fear of judgement. This was significant in my life’s journey because I have now become more confident in myself and my abilities than ever before. It was because of that confidence that I did not get nervous or sick. And you know what? I rocked it! It was great! Not just because I did not get ill. Not just because my friends said I was good. Not just because I didn’t mess it up. I enjoyed the experience. I shared my talent with my friends and family. And – no one laughed! I did great because I believed in myself.
The Urban Desert Cabaret
Thursday night’s performance of The Urban Desert Cabaret was a show that my cousin, Joe City Garcia arranged. The show takes place about once a month and if you like folk music, art, and poetry – you should definitely see it. Most of the performers have a few things in common, they either know Joe City and/or have some connection to Joshua Tree – a community of artists who live or work in the desert. These men and women all have a soulful camaraderie and connection to the earth, to light and to love. Even if you just appreciate great music and song – this show is for you! You can read more about UDC in my previous posts: Hollywood Nights and Urban Desert Cabaret.
I don’t want to forget anyone, so here is the line up from the January 31st show: Guest artists: Billy Gill (songs), Paul McCarty (songs) Monique Caruso (songs), Cari Banke (art/spoken word), Lalo Kikiriki (song/spoken word), Laura Anne Lacy (songs), Miz Meliz (Melissa Reyes) (spoken word) and more TBA! Plus songs and jams with the UDC combo: Jeremy Gilien, Tonya Lee Jaynes, Robert Matsuda & host Joe City Garcia. First, Joe City and the Urban Desert Cabaret combo band started off the show with a few songs. Their music is transfixing. It brings me to a place of soulful reflection. Have you ever driven through the desert and listened to the album by U2, Joshua Tree? It opens up your horizons. That is how Joe’s music is to me! He is a rock star that I have admired my whole life.
Joe thanked everyone for coming and explained a bit about UDC. Then, he said something like “who wants to go first?” and at that moment, I had just stood up. He looked at me and said, “Miz Meliz – are you ready?” I had told myself ahead of time that whenever he asked me I would say, “I am ready!” and I did. And I was! I didn’t expect to go first, but I was happy to because then I could relax and enjoy the rest of the show. It was a bit of a bummer because some of my friends missed it, but it was good for me.
Next up was a great performer who played accordion and sang, her name is Lalo. . . her songs were light and fun and she told her stories in a way that made me smile. She was a bit of a crack up and brought some humor to the scene. After Lalo, Billy Gill came up and performed a few songs. His guitar playing is remarkable and his singing is impressive! I enjoyed the guitarist Monique Caruso and was impressed that one of the pieces she performed had just been written the night before! (I wrote the poem that I read over a decade before!! Some people cant help but share their talent, it precedes them.) Then we had the pleasure of a performance by the Wicked Saints with Paul McCarty and Retro Rob Thomas. They were awesome!
Cari Banke spoke about her art that donned the walls all evening and shared some introspective poetry that she wrote to accompany her pieces. When she took the stage, she said, “Are you all in a good mood? Having a good time? Well, I am about to bring you down.” Her art and poetry was about genocide and survival. She was very insightful and did manage to leave everyone on an upbeat note! There was more singing and guitar playing, more poems were shared and the UDC combo wrapped up the evening with more tunes. It’s surprising that all of this is put together and performed without rehearsals or much else in the way of planning. It always comes off flawlessly, because of the spirit and expertise of Joe City – all the performers make a commitment to be there and they bring their best to share for that moment. It was an honor to be a part of it!
Saturday I had the chance to spend some time with some very creative friends that shared their unique talents with others too! I have recently shared some of my humor with Fazel Huts and I always say that laughter is the best medicine but a true comedienne is a hot commodity! It is not easy to be a woman and be funny. That’s why I love the Two Funny Brains!
I had the unique opportunity to visit Jessica Bern and attend a “girly clothes party” at her home. Debbie Anderson was there, too. I couldn’t believe how lucky I am! I asked Jessica, “You know who I am, right?” when she invited me to this intimate setting. She was surprised by my question. I know we are friendly on Facebook and have “talked” late into the night via instant message on many occasions. But to me, she is a total rock star and I am a total groupie! (I met Jessica for the first time when I had the rare opportunity to be an extra on an episode of Blog This.)
To me being “a total rock star” is being able to show off your talents in a big way. I admire everyone who does that and makes it look so easy. I know it is not easy.
The Poetry Salon
After hanging out with the ladies at Jessica’s house, I headed over to The Fat Dog Fairfax, a fun eatery in Hollywood. I had the pleasure of being invited to attend a special event hosted by Jennifer Styperk, poet and CEO of Poetry Salon. It was their annual Valentine’s Day event to kick off this season of love. What better way to celebrate your love for someone than by getting them a bespoke poem for the occasion. (A bespoke poem is a custom crafted work of art based on stories you provide, inspired by an individual muse whom you want to honor.) I was thrilled to meet this amazing entrepreneur rock star poet! I was impressed that Jennifer took her talent as a poet and made it into a business that is thriving and employs and engages other poets to use their craft to help others. (See this great blog post with an interview of Jennifer Styperk for more about Poetry Salon and Bespoke Poems: http://mngirlinla.com/2013/02/04/looking-for-a-personalized-gift-try-out-poetry-salon/#comment-22702)
Creativity and rocking a special talent comes naturally to some people and it is a difficult journey for most. No matter what, keep at it! Don’t ever give up hope! Face your fears. Find ways of making it work. It’s your time to shine!
Behind the scenes busy at work at all the above events are the bloggers that I know that help to promote and in doing so are encouraging and supporting one another constantly. Please check out their blogs, Like them on Facebook, and Follow them on Twitter and Instagram. Carolyn,Jamie,AJ, and Deanna. I had a blast sharing these experiences with them and I am glad to have their friendship!
Before I can really get going in planning for 2013, I want to take a look back at 2012. Here is a review of my greatest successes in 2012 in five key areas:
Financially speaking, it was a solid year. I managed to do some fun things with my cash flow. I am still living paycheck to paycheck, but I am not in any more debt than I was at this time last year. Based on everything that I have happening in my family dynamic right now, in this economy, staying afloat is a good place to be.
I made a few “investments” this year. I was able to pay for and complete a course on Life Coaching which will enable me to help others and help me increase my income in the future. My hubby bought a mountain bike and if he rides it, it will pay for itself in place of a gym membership, that is an investment – especially for his health! I leased a new car for my son, this was an important financial decision based on safety and peace of mind and replaced the old car that couldn’t pass the smog test. My hubby and I managed to go away for a weekend here and there. I believe that having a respite is a great investment for our relationship! We joined a bowling league with two of our sons. With having to pay fees for four people every week, it gets costly. I look at it as another great investment because it was a nice way to spend quality family time and get out for some physical activity. We indulged a bit here and there, but I consider that as investing in our quality of life.
Perhaps my priorities are a bit skewed since I really should have used the money that I spent on a new flat screen TV for the bedroom to pay down debt, but heck I am an American living the dream, so I am glad I did it.
As I am working on this, I feel like such a financial failure! Since I practice positivity, I am trying to glean some upbeat financial successes, but they will not compare at all to a anyone who actually had a financial gain. But in looking back at this key area of my life I have made a discovery. I recognize a pattern. I do the same things each and every year. It is not a surprise that my financial situation never improves. I am not doing a thing to improve it. I need to consider this strongly in making my goals for 2013.
In reflecting on my relationships this past year, I feel good about them. My marriage is in it’s happy place. We celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary this April. I have everything right now that I hoped for when I got married. My husband has given me a family, a home, and a bright future to look forward to. What more could a girl want? That is what I wanted when I was a girl. Now, as I emerge as a woman and my children are growing and my home needs a lot of work I wonder what will happen in the next twenty years. I have some ideas! Luckily, he is game! The number one success in my relationship has always been great communication. We talk things through and when we don’t agree with each other, we accept and move forward. My relationship with my hubby is my number one priority.
I have made a lot of new friends this year. I have also reignited and strengthened relationships with old friends and family. I have let a few relationships fall to the back burner. I may let it stew a bit longer before I open up that pot! But I won’t ever let the relationship boil away or burn what is left. I can always spice it up and give it some attention and put some life back into it, right? Relationships worth having can always be mended.
Physically speaking, suffice it to say that I am still alive. I am not better or worse off than last year. I have written a lot about my health and my ailments lately. I am working on it. I did next to nothing to improve my fitness level this year. I started a few things. I failed miserably at this.
I don’t feel healthy and I have very low energy. I hope to get that back in 2013. My son asked me recently if I ever wanted to go skiing again. I told him I would love to, but my back starts hurting after an hour of shopping at the mall! How would I be able to ski for a day without feeling miserable? I can start “training” now to get in shape and be able to ski with my kids next year. That goal restores the motivation I need to get moving and make healthy choices.
Intellectually speaking, I am on top of my game! This year, I completed a course online for life coaching, attended a conference for blogging, wrote on the blog an average of three times a week, and participated in daily discussions on topics ranging from birth experiences to the afterlife!
One test that I give myself from time to time is checking the dictionary for definitions of words that I use in my writing. I score myself an A+ every time I use an uncommon word and apply it correctly. I have never missed a meaning completely. Once this year, I was glad I checked because I was using the wrong spelling of a word which would not have made sense in that context. As a writer, to be understood is valued highly. I have been doing what I can to make sure that I convey what I am thinking clearly. That is the ultimate success for me.
Spiritually, I have looked deep into my heart and and I realize that I am whole and centered in my beliefs. I have faith in God and I love praying to the Virgin Mary to intercede for me. I appreciate my Catholic upbringing and I am proud to share that with my husband and glad that we are passing it on to our kids. I did not attend Mass regularly in 2012. There are many reasons for that and I am not ready to share them yet. I will look at that more closely in 2013.
I plan to attend Mass more often especially because one of my sons will be making his Confirmation this year. I love going to Mass, singing, praying, receiving communion and spending time with my community. What I love most about belonging to a loving community is the care that I can give and receive from other people who share my beliefs. I have learned that I have a similar experience with people of all faiths on Facebook and through my blog.
All people can feel that sense of belonging, love, and care. I thoroughly enjoy that and it brings me peace. However, physically being in the arms of my loved ones is something that I miss and hope to participate in regularly going forward.
In the spirit of “Sparking My Awesome in 2013” I plan to write more posts on my blog that are from my heart. I created a new category, “Tell Me Something Good.” This is where I will post my thoughts on the subjects that I have been contemplating during the month of December. Here are some of them:
I am filled with love today and my eyes are still stinging from the tears I shed last night. I went to see Les Misérables with my husband and sons on Christmas Eve. It was wonderful! I cried throughout the movie because I found the music and acting to be so powerful with emotion, it moved me. The story of Jean Valjean is one of hope and unconditional love and forgiveness. I was looking forward to this reminder which was perfectly timed to arrive on Christmas Eve. No matter how bad things get (and they got very very bad for Jean Valjean!) we can always get through it if we don’t give up faith. That can be faith in God, in love, in friendship, or simply in the belief that things can get better tomorrow. Just live one more day. The best message of Christmas time (the season of love and hope that you honor) that I can think of is to believe. Believe in yourself. Believe in your heart and your capacity for love. As Victor Hugo wrote, “To love another is to see the face of God.” To truly love someone is the most graceful thing we can do. If we give love to another our heart is filled with joy and compassion.
I love you!
I love the magic of Christmas and the joy it brings to all people. Young and old, people of all faiths wish each other good tidings at this time. The spirit of a giving heart is personified in Santa Claus. I love that spirit of giving. I am filled with love today, not because of what I have or what I want, but because of what I am able to give. Jean Valjean didn’t have a wife, or children of his own. He didn’t have anything for much of his life, and what he did have was borrowed, stolen, or given to him when he denied his own self. When he had the chance to love another person is when he was given the true gift of hope.
Melissa, can you help me spread the word about a walk I’m doing?
It’s on November 4..
I’m walking for Shari, my Aunt Ellen and Myself….its my birthday 🙂
I got that message today from a long time friend. So, I asked her to fill me in. I was out of touch with what is going on in her life. It turned out to be pretty intense stuff. In fact, I have been teary eyed all evening. I don’t want to make you cry, so I will tell you there is hope at the end of this story. There is a cute picture of the Cookie Monster to make you smile. And you might even be inspired to act. I hope so. Hmm hope. There is that word again.
I asked Valyrie to tell me everything. Here is word for word what she shared with me. . .
“Okay, so every year a close family friend of ours, Jenn Anton, joins the Walk for Hope at the City of Hope for Women’s Cancer….Chris and I joined her back in 2010…..
Last year when I had my cancer scare…radical lumpectomy to remove pre-cancerous tumor and cells….I decided the walk was even more important.
I have lost my Aunt Ellen (Elle’s namesake), my brother and close family & friends over the years to cancer.
So this last February, Shari, Chris’ mom, went to her doctor because she was feeling tired and needed her blood work done to refill her meds. She was horribly anemic…her hemoglobin was 5 when normal is 12…..so they gave her a blood transfusion…3 pints over 2 days and did a colonoscopy to see if she had a bleed.
Then, about 3 weeks ago, it’s time to refill her meds again…she is again anemic…but now she gets referred to a hematologist who orders a bone marrow test. That was when we discovered Shari has AML. Acute Myeloid Leukemia.
Now the walk means even MORE…because Shari is now at City of Hope receiving chemotherapy to hopefully extend her life.
We are heartbroken…I’m not sure Chris is going to survive emotionally….he is devastated. The prognosis is 6-18 months on average. She is 63…she is struggling with comorbidity issues…blood pressure, diabetes and being in what they consider an older age group.
Shari is Chris’ best friend….on her side of the family tree it’s really just her and Chris left…..no grandparents, no dad, no siblings, no aunts or uncles…it has been a very tight bond between them for a long time.
When I lost my brother and then my mom I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to handle it so now I am trying to be the best wife and friend for Chris.
AML has no stages…to compare it to other leukemias…it starts at Stage 4, but to her credit, she’s not a complainer. She has her good and bad days but her spirits are high. Because of her comorbidity problems all research leans toward bad news, but we have hope…..it’s what keeps us going every day.
I’m hoping she is going to surprise us and in 15 years we will joke about this. Shari is loved by so many, Chris is her one biological son…but she has so many sons and daughters who love her and would do anything for her.
So, the Walk of Hope has become my mission…not just for Shari but for all those at City of Hope and those patients everywhere that the research they do helps. So, that is why on November 4, 2012 on my 47th birthday, I am doing the Walk for Hope with Chris and Elle. It raises money for the City of Hope…where Shari is right now….for groundbreaking research and care for people with cancer.
Our team was named by Elle…..we are called “Cookies or Cancer?” Both Elle and Shari love the Cookie Monster. The motto our team has adopted is, “C is for Cookies, not Cancer!” Our team goal is $5,000 …for every penny we make Bank of America, Chris’ employer, will match. So, we hope to raise $10,000.
This part is from the Walk of Hope website, I am borrowing their impactful words because I am still at a loss with emotion for my friend. . .
Join the 16th anniversary Walk for Hope Los Angeles on Sunday, Nov. 4. Step by step, your support speeds our science saving lives.
Every year, too many women must battle breast and gynecologic cancers. These are the women we love: our mothers, our wives, our sisters and our friends. Our selves.
We envision a future where women’s cancers no longer take them from us. We strive to prevent women’s cancers before they even start. And we want to provide better treatments that help survivors return to the whole and healthy lives they once knew.
This is why we walk.
Walk for Hope is a national movement that unites survivors and supporters — women, men and children — in the fight against women’s cancers. This movement looks to the eight national walks as an opportunity to raise necessary funds to continue groundbreaking research, treatment and education at City of Hope and to raise awareness for women’s cancers.
In labs and clinics, City of Hope scientists explore the links between breast and gynecologic cancers, seeking to prevent and cure them. Without funds, research is impossible. And without research, the cure to cancer is a far away dream.
Our scientists have shown that regular exercise can cut breast cancer risk — and studies indicate that regular exercise actually helps breast cancer survivors live longer. We walk for these reasons, and for the promise of many more discoveries like this to come.
Hope is on the horizon, and your commitment makes a difference. Together, we can build a world without women’s cancers.
Foremost on my mind today is a very sad issue. As part of my journey it is important to convey how very sad the loss of a parent is to me. It seems that many of my peers are suffering a loss right now. I guess I am at that age. My own parents live in Heaven. It takes a long time to cope with that kind of major loss at any age.
Nothing prepares you and no matter how close you are to your mom or dad, it is devastating. At least three people in my life who I am very close to have recently lost their mom or dad in the past few weeks. I can count about ten who are dealing with sick parents or their parent has died over the past few months. It is heartbreaking. It reminds me of how I felt when it just happened to me. It was probably the most difficult time in my life. Thinking about it causes me to revert to some of the deep sadness, depression, and pain that I experienced during those difficult years. I have posted the Seven Stages of Grief. I find it helpful to read that when grief revisits me.
I know that the final stages of acceptance and hope is where I want to be.
I feel truly happy when I get there. My mom and dad would want me to be happy.
When I see photos of my parents at their best and happiest, it helps me to recall the good times. I remind myself that I am blessed with such happy memories. For those whose memories aren’t as happy, in time you will be able to separate the good from the bad. It takes time, but you will someday be able to look back and be ever so grateful for your life and the ones who brought you into this world. It is up to you to keep the memory of the good things your parents gave you alive. Learn from their mistakes, trials and tribulations. Break the chain, if necessary. Move forward to a peaceful and joyful time.