Being sick is a bummer. Once the big sick cleared, I found healing in adventure. It is true that laughter is the medicine. Along with that, taking risks, meeting new people, enjoying the incredible outdoors, getting in the water, doing yoga, and sleeping under the stars ranks pretty high. The organizations below have impacted my healing from cancer in one way or another.
If you know a young adult with cancer, are a young adult with cancer, or want to donate to a young adult cancer organization, I am providing some videos from SOME of the organizations who opened their hearts and were willing to help. After you check out the heartfelt videos, you will understand that you will not have to worry about me as long as these organizations exist. Please feel free to visit their websites to learn more, add them on your amazon smile account, or help raise funds for them with me. If you happen to do the latter, or have ideas on how to do that, please let me know.
Camp Koru was the first camp I went to in Maui, Hawaii. I was treated to surfing, sleeping on the beach, eating the most amazing, healthy food, and most importantly, making lifelong friends who understood my experience.
Project Koru also had me as a guest on their This Is Life retreat where I was given an abundance of resources for life after cancer.
First Descents took me to Outter Banks, North Carolina for a week-long surf trip where I learned amazing things about nutrition, took part in silly traditions, and stayed in an incredible beach house with some of the most amazing people I have ever met.
I am so lucky because the headquarters for First Descents is in Denver, CO!! They put on quarterly events for locals, along with some really awesome fundraising parties. This summer, I went white water paddle boarding and pushed myself beyond what I thought was possible. This organization encourages a healthy, active lifestyle and has gently challenged me to push through the obstacles I thought were in my way.
Dear Jack Foundation also has its headquarters in Denver. Dear Jack is like my little Denver cancer family. They support a few programs. These include a yoga program I go to with the same group of friends about once a month. They also have a program for patients who have pretty extreme treatments call the Life List. This is similar to make a wish because Dear Jack tries to make exceptional things happen so patients have something awesome to look forward to. By default, participants and their families become part of a community of survivors.
Another organization that gave me a stellar experience is River Discovery. The website does not have any videos, but they have an awesome photo gallery.
I encourage you to help yourself and others find ways to heal this way and to…
Last week, my therapist told me he was taking a new job and could no longer have a private practice or see me. I had mixed feelings about this. I have been working with him for about a year and he is the first therapist I have worked with who has provided valuable information that has really helped me make changes I thought were impossible. I have a way better understanding of how my mind, body, and spirit all work together. I am so much better at combating anxiety, worry, and the fear of negative interactions with other people. I have become more assertive and do not let myself believe that my needs and feelings are less important than those of others. I have a lot more clarity, strength, and overall sense of calm.
While it is hard to end that relationship, it is clear that now I am equipped to do so. As a counselor, I know it is important to discontinue seeing, or “break up” with my therapist. If done right, the point is to be able to take what I have learned and put it to practice. There comes a time when it is up to me to continue without a regular appointment. Discontinuing therapy does not mean that now I am on my own and have to face the world with no support. The support just starts to look different. Sometimes, part of therapy is to build support and know how to support others. I have no problem building my community and being someone who cares for others, so I am sure I am not alone moving forward.
One of my goals was to start being more independent. I have never been afraid to ask for help, but sometimes, that left me being dependent on others and not pushing hard enough to do something on my own. It can be hard to know if I am able to do certain things because sometimes I lack clarity and don’t trust myself. At times, I am not sure if I am scared, frustrated, or if I actually cannot physically or mentally complete the task.
To practice my independence this summer, I tried to do things I had never done on my own. These things had to be concrete so I knew I was making progress. One of the things I did was go camping and figure out how to set up and take down my site all by myself. In the past, I always shared a tent with someone and was never very helpful. I depended on others to do it the “right” way while I mostly just sat back and watched. Doing this a few times has been just the thing to increase my confidence and I know I am able to do things by myself.
I am aware that most people are able to pitch a tent without second-guessing themselves. This is just symbolic of how I have been able to step back and recognize that I had some pretty big misconceptions about what I can and can’t do. I live in a beautiful state with endless opportunities to play outside any time of year. For some reason, I have always lacked the confidence to make room in my life to play outside more often. I relied on other people to take the lead. While I know it is not smart for me to explore the outdoors by myself with little knowledge, I have the courage to take a more active role. It is so good for me to breathe fresh air, challenge myself with new activities, and just get super dirty. Having done this simple thing this summer, I have noticed myself taking more opportunities for independence.
I am so grateful to have had the experience of working with my therapist. I love knowing that I am able to do more than I think I can. Over the last year, the work we did has changed me. No matter how hard it looks, I will now try new things on my own. SO, now that we all know that I can pitch my own tent, who wants to go play outside with me??
I went looking for a song about being an independent woman, really liked this one, and then saw it was at a Stand Up To Cancer event. How interesting… Enjoy!
I have been having a really hard time with my depression this weekend. Yesterday, I wrote a whole post about it. It was terrible, depressing, and just not something to share. So, I thought I would tell you about my friend, Drew. I have known Drew since I had just turned 17. We have had many adventures together; we toured around the world, vacationed in California, Hawaii, Illinois, Colorado, Montana, Arizona and maybe some places I forget. We have walked miles and miles in Detroit dragging suitcases just so we didn’t have to pay for transportation to a wedding. He pushed me around Disney World in a wheelchair. We even stood in line for almost a whole day in the blazing heat so we could see Barack Obama speak at the DNC in Denver.
There have been months where we didn’t talk and years when we didn’t see each other. That really has never had any impact on how much we start to laugh the moment we see each other. In fact, Drew makes me feel like I might be the funniest person he has ever met! We have shared some heartbreaking moments as well. Most recently, Drew’s mother was being treated for cancer at the same time I was. Talk about a difficult time for him (Thank God both of us got through it and are both healthy now.)
One thing Drew has always understood is my depression. Every once in a while, he REALLY gets it. The last time he was here, I showed him my magical sleep set-up:
The first thing he said was, “OMG! I bet this makes you so happy!” He understood that my environment was really important. He even went home and made a few improvements himself!
Back to the real reason I started talking about Drew. One time, he knew I was really depressed, so he sent me a magical cartoon that explained someone else’s experience with depression. He was spot on, and I knew he really got how I was feeling. This cartoon came to mind yesterday when I was feeling like nothing was going to help. I tried to look it up and found something better! These videos are from the blog: Hyperbole and a Half
I am attaching 2 videos about depression from this author because they help describe what I go through. If you are looking for something that will make you laugh until you cry, or cry until you laugh, check them out!
I hope this helps someone!
Ok, I have figured out how to add the audio piece again. The point is to be able to hear it. The video is just the same picture throughout so you can focus on the words.
For those of you who are familiar with my SPEAK model for self-advocacy, you will know that it is the core of my work. For those of you who are not familiar, you can read about it here. After months of working toward my dream of having a successful small business, I have had several moments of doubt, feeling overwhelmed, and small flashes of wanting to just give up. I can’t give up. I won’t give up. I know this is the work I am meant to do and all of my future clients will not receive my services or be impacted by my experience, education, and drive if I stop pursuing my dreams. On top of that, I will not have been true to my model.
It is a step-by-step way to be a successful self-advocate. On my journey, I have been reminded by a few people that in my pursuit of forming a business to serve others with this model, I too have followed the steps. Having no background in business, marketing, website design, blogging, social media for business, and video production, I have jumped in and educated myself in all of these areas. I am not a professional in any of them, but I have researched, tried and failed, and had hours of discussion to gather information from experts. I have sorted through advice, asked questions, and changed my focus a number of times. I have been uncomfortable, unsure, excited, and proud. Right now, I am writing my 21st blog post!!
Every time I have gotten to a point of frustration, I have pushed forward and reached out for help. I have been Self-aware, identified my Problems, Evaluated by researching and constructing solutions, Acted on my plans through networking, asking for help from others, and finally pushing myself so hard to KEEP GOING.
Because I followed my model, I have learned a lot about starting, building, and maintaining a business. I have formed an LLC, opened a business bank account, decided on promotional products, made awesome business cards, and met with business mentors. To continue to grow and learn more, I attended events and retreats and made connections with people with specialized knowledge. I have created a website and blog, opened social media accounts, cold called businesses, published articles in a popular online publication, and have spoken about my services with confidence. I am proud of what I have accomplished.
The thing that has continued to keep me going is the support of others. People are showing up when I ask for help. Not only are they showing up, they bring gifts! From the kindness of their hearts, people have shared their successes as a way to guide me, created my beautiful logo, volunteered to help me create a marketing strategy, and helped me design a beautiful website to invite much needed business. This is no accident! It truly does work to advocate for yourself! I open my heart through vulnerability, kindness, humor, and honesty. Those things have brought abundance into my life! They have taught me to practice gratitude, help others, and keep on my path of self-advocacy. As I write this, I am filled with joy about sharing my experience.
Not only have I experienced this generosity in my business, I have experienced it from caregivers and friends on a regular basis. It certainly feels like magic, but it is not. I have created this life. I have pushed through hard times. I have faced terrible illness. I have never given up completely. This is because of you. Everyone reading or listening to this had been a part of my success. I have created this model to share what I have learned and what guides me on a daily basis. I refuse to navigate my life alone. I will advocate for myself for the rest of my life. Please take a moment to consider all of the things I am writing about and see the relationship between what I have created, and the amazing outcomes it has produced. I invite you to think about how self-advocacy plays a role in your life. Please share something in the comments to inspire and engage with others about your own self-advocacy. Don’t forget that the most important part of the SPEAK model is to KEEP GOING.