Cancer. My Sister’s Journey…

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She’ll have my head if she knows I’m writing this but some stories must be told.

That was how I started this story four years ago but don’t think it was ever published. It was the spring of 2003, after experiencing discomfort and a series of medical tests, the news was relayed to my sister. Not only did they find a lump in her breast but it was also malignant. Visits to Specialists left her with two options; remove the breast, or embark on a series of chemo treatment. The option of removal was an uncommon feat at the time, so after engaging family, friends and mountains of prayers, she made the decision to save the breast and embrace the chemo treatment.

Past The Worst

Over 10 years later and different rounds of chemo treatment combined with the usual side effects of hair loss, nervous system changes such as numbness, weak feelings and more…yet she still kept on fighting. Fighting to survive for her children. Fighting to see them “pass the worse”.

Why I Now Share

I write this not to seek sympathy but to share the innate character of my sister – Carleen, a stalwart! A fighter! A survivor extraordinaire! A teacher by profession, she  spent her years in New York, Florida and the Caribbean educational systems molding the youthful minds of countless children. Many were overwhelmed by the genuine care and concern she had shown for her students-many of whom she brought from non-or-minimal performance to the realms of exceeding expectations.

October Is Breast Cancer Awareness

October is Breast Cancer awareness month and for that I choose to celebrate and remember my sister, Elaine AKA Carleen. Yes she passed. 12 years hard battle. She won some. She lost some. But in the end I walk away remembering the fighter that she was. I choose to celebrate the character and personal attributes of someone who has made a difference in the lives of many.

My sister, I love you! I salute you!

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For The First Time…

Mid-life she decided to move to Paris. A dream she always had. With kids grown and little or no responsibilities she decided to take the plunge! She bought a house exclaiming “it’s my first time”.

Adventure

I thought about that. I have had many first times. An explorer and lover of adventure, I have sky-dived for the first time. I have moved to different states and countries for the first time.  Not to mention my first time at writing and publishing my research on Success Strategies. A book that has many others for their first time.

I remember the first time I experienced childbirth…exhilarating yet humbling experience. 14 years later I did it again for the first time and the experience was no different. Wonders of the world! A little me was born again for the first time.

Travel

I now look forward to my own personal travel to a Cafe in the French Quarters…a dream to feast, ponder while I write, and ride the gondola in neighboring Venice. Now that’s a first time that I can hardly wait for as I did in my  Weekend In Paris…

Goals

Is there something you’d like to do but because it’s the first time you’re afraid? Why not take the risk? Try it. Step out in faith. Who knows you may experience Success for the first time ….all over again.

Try it!

Cheers!

 

Weekend In Paris…

Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened. ~Dr. Suess

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I have always wanted to visit Paris. This was the promised gift to myself when I hung up my student cap after years and years of continuous studies. Then the workaholic that I am, saw 4 years go by in a flash embarking on community initiatives, writing, and more.

A month ago my oldest surprised me with a Birthday Weekend trip to Paris. But how can I visit Paris for just a weekend? That’s when my youngest ‘scolded’ me. “Go”, she said. “You have always wanted to do it. Just go.” I agreed and made it into a long weekend. Wonder of wonders! I discovered I even had time to spare. Time to watch the rain, the people, and the waves of the Seine River go by at sunset.

Travel Across Continents

The flight was long but it was far from boring. I read. I wrote. I watched movies. I chatted with my oldest, slept, and I ate. Before we knew it, the descent was upon us.

Travel’s Cultural Differences

Cultural differences are everywhere. In Paris the hotel rooms are tiny spaces. Just enough to get by, yet absolutely comfortable.  TV channels are in le francais. Plugs for chargers, electrical items and such differ. Disappointed, frustrated for sure I was at first, but then it’s not about me. I travel for new experiences and that’s what I got.

A polite society…bonjour, merci, pardon,  were among the basics to know in that language and will serve as the basic entre to service. They are curt and offer no apologies. So do your research before you go and you’ll be just fine (smile).

Travel’s Cuisine

Food in Paris is divine. Delicious. Sumptuous. Absolutely satisfying. But don’t rush….it ain’t fast food. When you visit the unique restaurants among which my fav is the Cafe, you dine, taste the delectables, and chill. No rush for the check. You ask, you eventually receive.

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Transportation

Getting around you have the choice of the cabs, buses, the metro. But may God help you if you do not understand the linguistic pronunciation of the place where you are going. When you arrive at your stop, you may not even know. So ask, ask, ask information before you board. Then read as you progress at each stop.

Speaking from experience…do I need to say more? Hint…frustration (smile)

Notre Dame

Paris Sites To See

You haven’t been to Paris if you haven’t visited La Tour Eiffel, Notre-Dame, Le Louvre and smiled with Mona Lisa. Sites …beautiful. Historically meaningful. Mesmerizing. Long walks. Tired feet, but worth every minute.

The Eiffel Tower

So that’s a tiny glimpse into my Parisian journey for the first time. The trip was memorable. The photos provide the stillness of the moment.  A dream come through. Would I go back? Yessss definitely!

I encourage you to take the time to step out and achieve your own dreams. Big or small, they will come through despite the odds.

Cheers!

How Much Do You Value Your Life?

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One day a young boy asked his father, “what is the value of my life?”. Instead of answering, the father told his son, “take this rock and go sell it at the market. If anybody asks the price, raise two fingers and don’t say anything”, instructed the father. The boy then went to the market and a woman asked, “How much is this rock? I want to put it in my garden”. The boy didn’t say anything but raised up his two fingers, and the woman said “2 dollars? I will take it”. The boy went home and told his father, “a woman wants to buy this rock for 2 dollars”. The father then said, “Son, I want you to take this rock to a museum, if anybody wants to buy it, don’t say a word, just put up your two fingers”. The boy then went to the museum and a man showed up wanting to buy the rock, the boy didn’t say a word but put up 2 fingers and the man said “$200? I will take it”. The boy was shocked, went running home and told his father, “A man wants to buy this rock for $200”. His father then said, “Son, the last place I want you to take this rock is to a precious stone store, show it to the owner and don’t say a word, and if he asks the price, just raise up your two fingers”. The son then ran to a precious stone store, he shored the rock to the owner, “Where did you find this stone? it is one of the rarest stones in the world, I must have it! How much would you sell it for?”. The boy put up his two fingers and the man said “I will take it for $200,000”. The boy not knowing what to say, ran home to his father and told him that there’s a man that wants to buy the stone for $200,000, his father then asked, “Son, do you know the value of your life now?”

“It matters where you decide to place yourself”

You see it doesn’t matter where you come from, where you were born, the colour of your skin, or how much money you were born into. It matters where you decide to place yourself, the people you surround yourself with, and how you choose to carry yourself. You may have lived your whole life thinking that you were a $2 stone. You may have lived your whole life surrounded by people that saw your worth for only $2, but everybody has a diamond inside them, and we can choose to surround ourselves with people that see our value and see the diamond inside of us. We can choose to put ourselves in a market or put ourselves in a precious stone store. You can also choose to see the value in other people. You can help other people see the diamond inside of them.

Choose the people you surround yourself with wisely. That can make all the difference in your life.

Something To Think About…
Beautiful Extract from Sean Buranahiran

On A Budget? 9 Gifts That Cost Nothing But Is Invaluable….

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For it is in Giving that we receive

My personal joy is to give! I treasure any opportunity to give! The act of giving has always brought me even more satisfaction than the recipients of my gifts.  These days being on a strict budget has brought with it the stance to be even more creative than I was in the past when giving high-priced gifts. I ran a search for gift ideas to still meet my giving needs to others. I pounced upon LiZ Evans Huffington Post’s article 20 Gifts That Cost Nothing To Make But Might Be Priceless. From the list my top 9 Favs are:

Birthdays, Christmas, Graduation…Gifts That Cost Nothing

1.When Skies are Gray.  Give this to anyone in your life who may be going through a tough time. Give them a stack of cards or books with inspirational quotes that will help them ride the wave during difficulty times. They can read when the going gets tough.

2. A Tell-Me Notebook. Give a blank spiral notebook to a parent, grandparent or other and ask them to write in the notebook any stories they would like to share. LiZ suggests that they do not need to worry about good writing. It’s just to write their stories when they feel like it. I’d add it’s also a way to leave their legacy. Can’t tell how many times I wish I had captured stories from my mother and grandmother.

3. 50 Things I learned by… Capture 10, 30, 50, or any number you would like of the things you learnt from someone celebrating a birthday milestone or other such occasion. I am certain this will be a wow moment as they reflect on the difference they had made in shaping your life.

4. Magic Car Wash.  Spouse birthday? Steal away the car and take it for a detail while they are at work. Then return it after without their knowledge. Tons of smiles will shine for sure.

5. Freedom From Responsibility. Take the kids and give them the night off. Nicely decorate this gift in a card, box and deliver with a specific agreed date included. Did this for my daughter and her husband. They were elated!

6. Read This When... This gift is for a college kid who is away. Write a series of short letters and label them, read when you’re home-sick, fail an exam, think you’re in love etc. Of course there are paid services to help you to do this but why go that route when with a little effort, you can do it.

7. Park Tour Permit. Select 3-5 parks and throughout the year, plan park tours. Give this gift to your young kids and at the end of the month, summer, or year, together decide which park was the best and rate what they liked most. For sure this journey with the kids will be exciting!

8. I Love you Now and Later Letters. LiZ encourages you to write 2 letters to your intended recipients sharing why you love them. Then ask them to read one now and then later at an agreed time to open the other. It could be a year or two, depending on your intention. For me it could be a letter to my daughter when she starts college and then again when she’s graduating.

9. Remember This Book.  Capture anecdotes, inside jokes, and stories of your loved one’s journey and read together at intervals. Certainly will keep the love alive.

So there you have it. A little creativity and effort makes such a difference when giving gifts. Personally, one occasion comes to mind. A coworker during a pixie gift exchange asked for a handsome, rich, loving man for her pixie gift. Luckily I had her name (yikes)! I set to work. Got on the computer and searched for all those criteria. Found the ideal guy for her (per the search engine..smile), printed it and wrapped it in a huge gift box with a Big Bow! You can just imagine the laughter it brought to the entire team! Memories shared year after year!

So go ahead! Give the gift of creativity, smiles and function. They are the absolute best!

Are there any experiences you remember? Do share. We would love to hear!

Cheers!

 

Drink Deeply…

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Water…a necessity for life. For living. We can’t do without it.
I love the different forms water comes in. It may be the river, the sea, the tap, waterfall, canal, stream; it may even appear through bursts of lightening and thunder!

Water though essential to living can also be extremely dangerous. It gives life and it can take it. Should we be afraid? No, not at all. As with many things in life, it’s our approach that counts. Either we care for it, plan for it, or neglect it as in hurricane Warnings and suffer the consequences.

Today, may we bask in the comfort and delights of magical streams. Let’s dream. Let’s reflect and achieve.

Drink deeply.

Cheers!