March 17, 2019I have been on this planet living and learning for six and a half decades. All the ages and stages of life are stored in my heart. I have inside of me the child, the adolescent, the young woman falling in love. Stored away much like old photos, are the memories of my children. Watching them grow and cherishing the moments spent. I honor each experience that has molded my life, and created who I am today. If I had experienced different things, I would have different things to say.
By: Deborah Collier
February 28, 2019
Besides Kevin Costner being in this movie and making it one of my favorites I love the simple message embedded into the story. “If you build it, they will come.” Although this was a baseball field for real and imaginary players, it made me wonder if I continue to build a happy, peaceful, serene life…what might come of it?
It’s so easy to get bogged down in the not-so- pleasant, grouchy part of life. Life is messy, unpredictable and imperfect. Lucky us. When things don’t go our way, or the way we think they need to, we have the perfect opportunity to let ourselves shine. When we experience disappointment, frustration, sadness or anger, its okay to note what’s happening, deal with it and acknowledge- that’s part of human nature.
AND…. We can rise to the occasion. Decide what to do-let ourselves grow from the experience or get enmeshed in negativity. We all know both negativity and positive energy are contagious.
I choose positive energy. Time and again I choose my own field of dreams: optimism and joy.
Lately I’ve decided to heed my own words, make my own choices, and go my own way. Stand in my power. Recognize and celebrate being centered. This came at a great price-however; I would not be who I am today. And I’m even better than I ever was.
Its hard work and its careful thinking. And because I process my life via writing and storytelling, I have the chance to talk about what’s inside. What’s going on and how I work it out. It’s for me and apparently my writing seems to be inspiring others. What a gift this has been.
An interesting thing happened with all this honest story-telling this week. Since September I’ve had the honor of facilitating a writing group at the Cancer Support Community. As writers, we show up, write, process, and support and lend encouragement. Each week I am inspired by the thoughts and stories of courageously, brave people. It often brings me right back to choices about my life. Recently, I read a blog I had written and I realized as I was reading, I really am over myself. Yes, it feels good to put the truth out there and to look behind the curtain. As I read the blog, I realized: I’m kinda over myself. At least for a little while. Yes, I have the need to continue to tell stories, but I’m challenging myself for the next few weeks to focus on the positive, the happy, and the joy in my own field of dreams.
Realizing my life has changed tremendously, I know that as I’ve I built it…a happy, peaceful, playful, joyous, light-filled life emerges. Each and every time. IMAGINE this energy! It’s as if I can breathe again. I have a feeling my writing will change as I continue with this self-awareness. I can already feel it.
Surrounded by love and light by amazing Warrior Sisters, friends and new experiences my life is here in the now. I am okay. In this minute, I am okay. Life is moving forward…just as it should be. I just have to stop resisting it. Feeling happy and okay IS happy and okay. Lots of people live this way. I’m not saying there aren’t challenges, there are and will be. On the flip side, just like on a field of dreams, I can step up to the plate and hit the ball out of the park. I know it’s my choice. It’s an opportunity I am living.
Trusting me, trusting the Universe and mostly, trusting the love between those important people are part of my life now. Abundance thinking. Leading and living with love. Offering grace. There is so much love and happiness. We just have to OPEN our eyes…and see it. Recognize it. And so I’m challenging myself to do just that. Each and every day. And as a human, I’m going to give myself some slack as my Warrior Sister Laura reminded me.
Right now, today, I am in a better place, I’m a better person. I am free to live my live as I choose. And I choose to focus on the positive. As much as I possibly can. As my Warrior Sister Cathy texted, “You are allowed a cry, a pity party, a freak out, whatever you need but then get back on that white horse with positive thoughts and energy! Good things will come your way-they always do for great people! Keep looking up, that’s the secret of life!! As I told you before-you are a ray of sunshine and things GROW around sunshine! Love you girl!” this made me both smile and shed tears of pure love.
In her book, Women Rowing North Mary Pipher states, “Attitude trumps circumstance….we have the freedom to choose how we respond to events…we become who we believe we can be…” She also states there are many ways to keep things in perspective. For years I said, “Don’t borrow worry.” My friend Diane reminded me, “This can be fixed.” Pipher adds, “It’s not time to worry yet,” “Everyone makes mistakes,” and “Tomorrow is another day.” It’s all in how I look at it. How I use my energy. How I live. How I see myself and my life.
Here is my challenge-get over myself. Focus on the positive. Live in the light. Re-read my words. Focus on stepping up to the plate, and building a life of dreams. Because AS I BUILD it…the most exciting, joyful, happy life will continue to brighten the field. I already feel better…I’m gonna make it after all.
By: Pam Wilson, MSW, LCSW
February 13, 2019Amazing how powerful these three words can be. When I think of “lead with love,” I think of the agape love which shows no preference to race, creed, or religion. It’s love for everyone; there’s no enemy or stranger when you “lead with love.”
By: Pat Ross
January 30, 2019Listen closely because I won’t repeat myself,
By: Pat Ross
January 09, 2019
Have you ever noticed that no matter what time of day or where the sun is in the sky, a sunflower will be facing the direction of the light? They could be likened to spectators at an incredibly slow tennis match! Moving ever so slowly as the sun moves across the sky.
Gardening has been something I have enjoyed over the years. Seeing plants grow and become a thing of beauty is very rewarding. There was a time in my life we will refer to as the dark days, when it was a struggle to get out of bed in the morning. This was more than a quarter of a century ago, and when I look back on that time I can hardly believe it was me. Depression engulfed me like a relentless cloud cover from a looming storm. Treatment for depression was quite experimental back then, oh wait it still is! There is no scan that can clearly identify the cause for the depression or the label that should be attached to it. The medical treatment was at best trial and error with medications. After trying one medication after another only to feel worse and experiencing many unpleasant side effects, I decided to try something completely radical. I decided to follow the example of the Sunflower! I became very aware of my thoughts and realized they had a direct impact on how I felt. So more and more I began directing my thoughts toward the light. The power of thought became my friend because I was learning how to give it direction. Mostly I was changing my thoughts about myself. When I heard a love song, it was as if the song was from me, to me. I understand most depressed people have a very low opinion of self. So I began a new relationship with me. I read a quote recently from Cheryl Strayed that said “ Your life will be a great and continuous unfolding. It’s good you’ve worked hard to resolve childhood issues while in your twenties, but understand that what you resolve will need to be resolved again and again. You will come to know things that can only be known with the wisdom of age and the grace of years. Most of those things will have to do with forgiveness.” I think she was speaking of the forgiveness you give yourself.
These words of Cheryl Strayed came to me many years after my healing from depression, but I was able to recognize the wisdom in her words. So when my healing began, it began with first of all forgiving myself. Forgiving myself for not always being the BEST, the best mom, or the best daughter or the best wife. I stated giving myself a break! I would not allow that darkness to be in m thoughts any longer! I would follow the light at all cost. I had given enough time to that insidious invasion of self-incrimination! The beauty of a Sunflower will always inspire in me a feeling of appreciation. An appreciation for all we can learn from nature. I give thanks for the design of that precious flower that taught me so very much about how I want to live my life! Alway, always facing the light!
By: Deborah Collier
January 09, 2019
I’m not really a New Year’s resolution-type-of-girl. I do buy into the idea, as Jennifer Cooper often reminds us, “You can re-start each day at any moment.” I believe that more than ever. If I don’t like how I handled a situation, I have the power to change that reaction going forward. I can process it, discuss AND then let it go. And then I can start my day over….(I have visions of Groundhog Day here…)
This journey that I’ve been on has made me who I am. I get to decide what to do with it, if I want to change, what I want to change as well as to say to myself, “You are enough.” And so as the end of the year approached, I had been thinking about pulling my thoughts together about life now. As luck would have it, an interesting idea presented itself.
In mid-December I had the honor of facilitating a writing group at the Cancer Support Community. The writing groups always blow me away with their truths, their honesty, and their authenticity. I’ve learned I’m always up for whatever messages present themselves, and mostly I keep quiet so that I can hear.
A lovely older gentleman who I had not met before participated in our writing group on this wintery day and when it was his turn, he wasn’t ready to share, still writing. We circled back to him, and as he read I could barely keep myself from crying. He spoke of his life and his energy, his enjoyment in hiking with his dog and somewhere in the middle of this writing he said, “I will not squander this day.”
I will not squander this day.
This thought has stayed with me day and night since I heard it. Each morning when I wake up I’m grateful for the day and hope for the best (sure, why not!) and I’ve added this thought, “I will not squander this day.” When the days are rough or the nights even tougher, I repeat to myself, “I will not squander this day.”
My friend Cathy came to lunch during this time. We’ve known each other long enough that if we aren’t laughing, we’re dug in way deep to life. Cathy LIVES in each moment, each smile, each hug. She is a gift for everyone who knows her. While we were enjoying lunch of salmon Greek salad and bourbon punch (it was Sunday and December) Cathy commented, “I’m so proud of you for creating this life. You are the friend I knew all those years ago, this is who you are supposed to be. Do you feel that too?”
My response was the same as it’s been for a few months, “Every day is a little better. There are good days and not good days.”
Intuitive as ever she asked, “Are the good days out-weighing the bad?”
I replied, “The days are mostly good. There is however, a ‘bad’ part in each day, a heart-breaking part of each and every day.” It goes so deep into a grief sometimes I can’t breathe. And yet, I have to “Remember my truths,” as my friend Anne texted. “There is no going back now, pushing through the pain is the only way forward, not an easy place to be…better times ahead. I promise.”
Going back is NOT an option. My daily intention is to keep moving forward, celebrating what I can in each day, BEING in each day. NOT squandering any day; instead, remembering the joy, the beauty, the love and the happy. Remembering and acknowledging that the end of an era is hard, regardless if it’s better for all parties involved. THIS is what I want to do, need to do. NOT squander any day, any opportunity, any sunshine, any chance for love and happiness. It’s time I move on from the past and really let myself see and FEEL the present and the future.
About this time on a FB page I read, “I believe we will make it to the other side stronger and happier.” The present is the way to the other side.
Here’s the other part I am working on in each 24 hours….the other shoe to drop. This bothers me, in fact, I really hate it. It seems to me that waiting…waiting and waiting only produces anxiety. And I’m not an anxious person. While I continue to remind myself, “do not squander this day”, I also continue to tell myself advice from another Warrior, “In this minute you are okay. You will deal with anything that comes up. You can. And you will.”
More than ever I know that moving forward, NOT squandering ANY time, ANY opportunities, ANY DAYS, and remembering my truths is how I want to start this day. Every day. Every year. When I say to myself, “I will not squander this day,” I feel lighter, as if the love and strength are shining through. That’s my daily intention…I will not squander this day. This gift. I AM living the life I want to and am supposed to. I…am happy in my new life. That’s my gift.
Anything is possible. Everything is possible.
I’m gonna make it after all.
By: Pam Wilson, MSW, LCSW
January 02, 2019
Intentions are set by us everyday. Some are atomic like eating breakfast. Some intentions are thought out and perused. 2018 had many changes for me. Loss, recovery, and finding my place in the world once again. On this beautiful path of recovery, I find great relief and freedom from the what outside circumstances can bring. I am seeking to look inward for my Peace. All the many years of walking various paths, I have discovered I no longer need to search for the right path, the right path will find me. My years of living have given me a heightened awareness that I have learned to trust.
So I am intending 2019 to be a year of growth. Growth in knowledge of who I am and what I desire for the remaining years of this life experience . I want to see the many faces of joy and embrace them all. I also know that sorrow is the sister to joy so I expect to meet her too. Feeling both joy and sorrow allow for the sweetness of knowing I am alive!
I also love the awareness that each day is a new beginning with new possibilities,new promises, and always renewed hope. So my intentions for 2019 I’m sure will evolve with time. They will become clearer as each day passes and each new experience presents itself. So welcome 2019, I will embrace each and every day of you!
By: Deborah Collier
January 02, 2019
A better me, that’s what I want!
Extra pounds, I must confront.
A body healthy, strong, and lean,
The new me, a water drinking machine.
Self control, to eliminate vices,
Excessive sugar, choosing spices.
Self improvement, expanding the brain,
Leaning from others is my gain.
Giving of self brings a thankful heart.
Sharing with others, wisdom to impart.
I choose accountability with my time and money,
And leaving spaces for things that are funny.
It’s 2019, a fresh new slate,
I better get started before it’s too late.
By: Sheryl DeLoach
December 27, 2018
My life hasn’t been perfect but its been perfect for me. Just like every other human engaging in the human experience, I have had ups, downs, unexpected twists, falls fallen so hard I didn’t think I had the ability or the drive to get up. Yet here I am, standing tall at 5’3. Yes I am an inch shorter than I was. A fabulous truth I have discovered for myself is I am in control of my life and how I experience it. Can I control what others do, no but the reaction I have to what others do is absolutely mine to determine. Ralph Waldo Emerson said “Most of the shadows of this life are caused by standing in one’s own sunshine”. I know I have the ability to control where I stand.
What I really want to say is how much appreciation I have for all the experiences of my life. The ones that taught me how to jump for joy higher than I knew I could. Also for the the ones that brought me to my knees. I thank all you rascals of my life that caused momentary pain. You were my best teachers. You taught me about forgiveness. Forgiveness is what heals humanity. Forgiveness is what allows us to move forward. Forgiving is not forgetting, but its letting go of the hurt. And that my dear fellow humans is what allows us to move forward, and enjoy what time we have been given on earth.
There is much life behind me but much ahead of me as well. Another beautiful quote I love is “Life can only be understood backwards, but must be lived forward.
By: Deborah Collier
December 12, 2018
Today, as the old year fades to a close, I find myself in a new place, shuttling between my old life and my new life. I find I’m enthused by the possibilities that lie ahead, but still dragged down by the sadness behind me.
My wife and I had been married one week shy of 53 years when she passed away in May of this year.
Looking ahead to next year: My most positive thought about next year is that this year will be over. It has been a year of losses on several levels, and I hold my breath until 12/31/2018.
Next year feels more promising as I adjust to The New Normal, an expression I became familiar with recently. The New Normal.
I have a quote posted on my office door at home that I say aloud each morning:
“I shall look upon this day as a gift,
not to be squandered.”
My plan for the new year is to squander no more days, no more hours, to be dragged back to the past as seldom as possible. I wish for the usual: good health, an on-going connection with family and friends, continued interest in the events and places that are out there within my grasp.
My plans are probably over-reaching, but workable, at least partially.
- Finish and publish a book of essays, blogs, columns.
- More discipline in my writing, in exercising, in involvement with others.
- A less cluttered life and house, with lots of “stuff” gotten rid of.
- Travel on a highly selective basis, beginning with New Orleans in April with my son and daughter for a French Quarter Blues Festival, and some time back in New York City.
- And finally, to learn to be more patient, and constantly remind myself to tell my friends how much they mean to me.
My hope for the new year is an absence of the dreaded “c” words: cancer, chemo, clinical trial, cardiac, coping and condolences.
I want to be able to look back on 12/31/2019 and realize I have changed in positive and uplifting ways, that I have taken significant strides towards my new life. That “The New Normal” has gradually become “Normal.”
By: Gerry Mandel
November 07, 2018
I’ve Been Through Some Stuff
(When is Enough – Enough?)
Life is definitely a roller coaster ride
Hitting the waves, wrestling the tides.
You’re up and down with emotional bliss
While coming quickly around the curve,
Is a sweet, juicy kiss;
Knocking you backwards against the wall
With lots of “I’m sorry’s” doesn’t say it all.
At some time you must take a stand
Which way to go – Who’s in command?
But what I truly love is:
He’s Yours and You’re His!
I’ve been through some good and bad times
With family, friends, and acquaintances of mine.
There’s a sister who’s chosen to dismiss me as a relative
She refuses to acknowledge the love I desire desperately to give.
“She’s ill”, I’m often told. “Don’t be upset.
Someday she’ll remember your love
And cuddle you like a pet.”
It makes me sad knowing she’s not the same sister I love so much.
Dementia hurts so badly sometimes, but I just can’t give up.
By: Pat Ross
November 07, 2018Keep me dear Lord. Keep me. Keep me yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Keep me from all harm, pain and sorrow. When I’m lost and can’t find my way, Keep me dear Lord. When I know not what to do or say – Keep me.
By: Pat Ross
October 17, 2018I read a quote from Lilly Thomlyn that read, “Forgiveness means giving up all hope for a better past.” What those words mean to me are the essence of the world I live in today. Six and a half decades are behind me and that has created a lot of past! So as I live in my world of now, I reflect at times on the past, sometimes with pleasure and sometimes with regrets. I have some control over my now, but absolutely no control over the past. Or could it be that I have more control than I think? If my perception of the past changes can I actually create a better past? Forgiveness for me means letting go of resentments. Resentment brings pain to the heart, forgiveness can be instrumental in releasing that pain. I think of forgiveness as a scissors. I use it to cut the strings of resentment that bind me to a past hurt and keeps me from being the best me I can be in me present world. The forgiveness I want to offer is not only to others that make up my past, but to my past self for not being perfect and displaying humanness. For making choices in my past world that would not be made in my world of today. The life that has been lived has served me well. The moon beams and sunshine have had an equal share with the thistles and thorns of life. Both molding me into the woman of today. A woman who is very aware that she can create the world she chooses to live in. Memories are the envelope to the past. I read once we have memories so we can have roses in December. How the past is perceived by us, has a direct bearing on how we are living and how much we are enjoying the world of today. Another beautiful quote is “Life can only be understood backwards, but must be lived forwards.” I would like to rearrange the words of Lily Thomlyn to read Forgiveness means having great hope for a better past. I enjoy roses in December even if its only in my mindful memory. They are as real to me there as they are in my garden in June! My world today has the meaning and depth that it does because I have been willing to look backwards and apply forgiveness.
By: Deborah Collier
September 26, 2018
I awakened early with the slight tossing of covers around me as I felt the presence of his body exiting the bed. He walked quietly to the bathroom, each step carefully leading to the next in the dim morning darkness, trying passionately not to disturb my soothing sleep.
I secretly smile as I realize how much we have synchronized our daily needs and actions as we grow older together. We seem to awaken at the same time, speak the same thoughts, and even decide to wear the same color clothing when we dress to begin our daily routines.
I have you Heavenly Father to thank for this “togetherness”. I am so fortunate not only to have you at my right hand from dawn to sunset to shake down any mountains of doubt or confusion that chooses to attack me, but I have him who has walked every step of my “new normal” with me during the unforeseen changes in my life. Together we have grown in peace, understanding, thoughtfulness, and of course LOVE.
As each new day unfolds challenges to celebrate life, I rejoice in the path of trust that the Heavenly Father and I will explore together. Where I am weak, He is strong. When my mind wanders to the land of forgetfulness, He gently strolls me back to reality. He’s never caught off guard because he’s busy guarding me from unseen dangers around every bend. When my heartbeat rushes frantically at each doctor’s visit wondering if everything inside me is going as well as it looks on the outside, He soothes me to inhale and exhale at his command and restores my confidence that “He’s got this” and together we shall overcome.
Togetherness with Christ in my life and my spouse at my side, there’s nothing I need to fear. I am grateful each day knowing these two “constants” are working together for my ultimate good. Tragedies will be trampled. Sorrows will be silenced. Joys will be rejoiced. Because life changes every day, its confident to know that “togetherness” will conquer all.
By: Pat Ross
September 26, 2018
Super Powers and Their Values
Our Super Powers come from our innate feelings of security. It’s what makes us happy, comfortable, enthusiastic, and somewhat competitive. It’s where we fit in and nestle among others with the same aura. It’s who molded us to choose our favorite activity, career, or talent that just seems to pull into gear whenever we’re faced with urgency to respond, assist, or comfort others. It’s when we come to that fork in the road when a decision must be made rapidly without hesitation and we arrive with unique solutions or antidotes to solve any problem or circumstance that even surprises us sometimes. It’s how we know we’ve done our best at the spur of the moment to satisfy ourselves and those around us.
The values of Super Powers are they make your world more peaceful and those around you enjoy being in your presence. Super Powers make you appreciate your talents and the joy they bring to others. Super Powers give you the freedom to be who you are, when you want to be, how you want to be, what you want to be, and where you want to be without fear or doubt because you are in control.
Being punctual is a value I honor dearly. It stems from my Super Power of Patience requiring me to allow time for others without neglecting my own needs. This allows me to appreciate getting to my destination without rushing in traffic, assignments, or appointments. Super Powers are valuable tools to carry around everyday. You never know when you may need to use them.
By: Pat Ross
September 23, 2018Adversity makes us stronger,
By: Sheryl DeLoach
September 19, 2018I am aware of Patience unfolding more frequently when I feel bombarded with a multitude of commitments occurring simultaneously. I somehow managed to overload my “Calendar of Events” on the same date. Usually before indulging in these commitments, I patiently ask the party involved to hesitate until I check my schedule. If nothing is conflicting I give a green flag. But somehow, all of a sudden, a multitude of commitments show up on the same date and I want to participate in ALL of them. The red flag has flown! I have to juggle something to make this work. PATIENCE WHERE ARE YOU?
By: Pat Ross
September 19, 2018We are all super hero’s with super powers whether we know it or not. Life is a timeless and essential drama for the purpose of growth. This business of being human is no easy task! As life moves forward it keeps dishing out plate fulls of beautifully prepared food and sometimes crap that no one wants to touch. How can we digest both?
By: Deborah Collier
September 13, 2018Courage is just dreams with shoes on! Dreams give life. Dreams belong to every vibrant, living being. Dreams define our past self and more importantly our future self. Dreams keep the spirit alive and strong. What is the secret to giving the mind the ability to dream? I have learned that whatever the age, 2 or 102, the ability to dream comes from the heart and should be nourished to stay alive. However, it takes courage to dream. It takes even more courage to run after that dream.
By: Deborah Collier
September 12, 2018Today my superpower is awareness.
By: Chris Filcoff
September 01, 2018
Life can take so many twists and turns. Like ideas, it seems. One idea morphs into another and gradually we find ourselves living our ideas as we live our life.
A few years ago I had this idea; it literally dropped into my head one morning on the beach, “Combine writing and social work-let people inspire others with their writing thereby inspiring themselves.” The program was called Write ON! and I was all in trying to figure out how to get this idea into the world.
I have no idea what made me think of the Cancer Support Community, but I did and sent my ideas to Renata. We met and she liked the idea and the concept enough to let me try implementing it as a volunteer. I was excited and nervous, and I knew that it was a good idea. My mission has always been to hear other’s voices. Now there was a place for this to happen.
This original group met three times and then I took it to other community groups, a middle school in the city and a home school all girls Writer’s Circle. If participants wanted to post their writing anonymously, I set up a Facebook page for this. As a writer, I love putting my ideas into the world and I wanted to offer this to anyone who wanted to try, who maybe didn’t know how or who wanted to remain anonymous.
Last May, WHEN I LEAST EXPECTED IT, I received an e-mail from Dannie inquiring if I was interested in talking about coming to CSC as a writing instructor.
It was a no brainer. I believe my e-mail read, “YES. YES. YES. YES!!!” Only I had more exclamation points.
Updating my resume with a high-school friend I realized that since the original program at CSC Write ON! had had a really good run. Different groups had been writing for almost two years and each and every writer inspired themselves and me in some way. I knew that a writing group at CSC could be inspiring and I wanted to be part of it. I also generated 34 ideas to bring to my meeting with Dannie which my very smart friend told me to bring 5-6!
Talking with Dannie was a good lesson and exercise in recognizing what I had been doing and learning and how I wanted to grow personally and professionally. I knew without a shadow of a doubt and every cell in my body that I wanted to be part of CSC. I also knew, in that way we know this would be full of twists and turns AND that I would be inspired in ways I had not imagined.
It was and is important to me to be ALL IN and to encourage and inspire others. Therefore, I was incredibly nervous how the classes would go. I have my own style and fortunately Dannie encouraged me from minute one to BE ME, use this style and to try anything and everything. She is a welcome unexpected twist in this adventure as well. Dannie and the staff support the instructors in such a kind, gentle way it enables me to support the energy of the writing group each week.
And energy there is!
This is My Super-Power is the first class I’m teaching as the Writing Instructor and I am humbled and grateful for these twists and turns. Our energy is supportive, easy, kind and fun. The group is relaxed and we encourage one another to think, write, share and write even more. The value of writing and sharing in a group gives our voices a space to live.
I hope that the writing classes continue to inspire and challenge us. To help us reach out to others and look inward with our writing. With each written and shared word we are empowering ourselves to find out voices. Recognize our voices. It’s living in the present and knowing our words are preserved for the future…full of things that we might not expect.
By: Pam Wilson, MSW, LCSW