Tag Archives: Cancer

#TRUTHday

8 Sep

victoriaerickson

I want to scream at someone, something, my computer, myself, the construction workers across the street who start banging at 7am… anyone really. But what will that solve? Nada. TOO MUCH BAD NEWS lately.

It’s as if there’s a spotlight over the coterie of people I know, and things. just. keephappening. What are my escape route options here? I can shut myself off of social media, but I long to be informed (especially while I am out on maternity leave watching the adult world go by). I can pretend it doesn’t matter, which will get me nowhere, as I suffer trying to make sense of things regardless of what I profess. I can and (likely will anyway) give myself a thousand justifications as to why these things are happening; complete with telling myself to ‘just live in the moment, be grateful, slow down, practice gratitude’ blah blah blah… but I’m over it. As the wise have said, “it is both a blessing and a curse to feeling everything so very deeply.”

So back to trying to process the static of death, infertility, heart defects, brain aneurysms, cancer diagnoses, money woes, professional stagnation etc. etc.  I can’t breathe. I feel like I’m drowning. I want to help everyone. I want to say the perfect thing, bring solace to those who need it, be the funny one who appropriately changes the subject, bring the laughs, wipe the tears, lighten the mood and provide emotional shelter. Did you get all of that? Help me. Help everyone. Whatever you believe in, whomever you call out to for salvation, ask for a reprieve. Things are too heavy lately, so shout it out, send the love, light, prayers and energy filled with hope and positivity to each other and let’s break this cycle.

The truth is bad news, pain, grief and sickness live next door. It’s never an if, it’s a when, and then it’s a how do you process it, and keep moving forward. That’s the fine line. Maybe our current social connectivity has created a false universe where we all believe we are ONLY what we share. We’ve been privy to ‘staged truth’ for too long, and it’s placed us on a fragile pedestal with a cracking foundation. As I’ve said 1000+ times, perception is not reality. Maybe it’s time to get back to the basics, and use our overly connected social space as a resource center, and not simply a show and tell. We can’t help each other if we only know one beautifully staged and photographed side.

Oh, you’re having a hard time in your marriage? Oh, you’re worried your kid is autistic, behind or socially awkward? Oh, you know the ins and outs of metal illness, cancer, eating disorders, fertility treatments and/or fill in the blank? If you speak it, people will come. We all want to feel a part of something bigger than ourselves. The ‘fitting in’ clause doesn’t phase out after high school. There’s comfort in knowing someone else out there has been where you’re now standing, and can offer some advice or lend a hand.

I had a miscarriage before Stella and Wren. When I blogged about it, I had an outpouring of support from my own friends and family whom I otherwise would never have known had a similar and shared experience. They said, ‘thanks for talking about it. You gave us a window to tell our story.’ That’s a social win. That’s #TRUTHday personified.

In a social space filled with challenges to dump ice, donate and rally around the less fortunate, I challenge the everyday individual to put the device down, and spend a little more time living rather than creative directing. Store the snapshots in your head. Don’t leave things unsaid IN PERSON to those who matter. Get home and unplug yourself. Sit at dinner and enjoy the conversation sans selfies and food snaps. Don’t be so quick to move on to the next thing. Sit in the moment. Take a deep breath. Realize this time, this snapshot of your life, will never happen again. Own it and absorb how lucky we are to be here.

Vintage anything is better in my opinion. So if we have to call detaching ourselves from the ‘information matrix’ a vintage approach to re-connecting on a cellular, person-to-person level, then so be it. We’re information rich, yet relationship poor. So let’s do something about it. Let’s make #TRUTHday a permanent movement. An anomaly in that it’s a step back to where we used to be, and a step forward to making it the norm again.

Luella Says… new hashtag movement starts now. #TRUTHday.

truthdayLet’s lift the veil and share our experiences for what they are. A check and balance if you will, of showing life the way it is; complete with blemishes, stains and frayed edges. Let’s really talk to each other. Be truthful, and know not every day is picture perfect. We might actually surprise ourselves with how big our villages become.

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Epilogue.

1 Aug

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It’s a Tuesday and I’m in a dress and my running shoes. More specifically, I’m un-showered after a 4-mile run, but undressed and redressed to address my need for quick breastfeeding access. (You got all that, there will be a test later.) I’m sitting at my computer trying to eek out an hour of creative flow time while Stella is at her ‘one day a week’ daycare and Wren cries and wiggles out of her swaddle for the 100th time. ‘Why aren’t you napping? You grow when you nap, if you want to start talking and running (because that’s definitely next) shut your eyes and buy your ticket to dreamland. Mama needs 5 minutes. (Actually more in the day to week range but who needs the truth).’ I hate this post even before I write it because it means one of my favorite ladies is no longer strolling the earth, championing Jazzercise and keeping Bartles & Jaymes in business. Shirl you were you, every day, simply put and we were all better people to know you. You also gave birth to one of my favorite people so there’s that too. I love you and hope you know, wherever you are, (I guess you’re everywhere now) that you made a lasting impression.  The sky has officially gained a star. #ShirleyStrong

I can’t say I’ve been privy to a lot of tragedy. I’ve had a steady flow of anti-luck, are you kidding me, yep that just happened, deep disappointments, important people vacating without reason and 2nd places, but in the end it doesn’t come close to the pain of losing someone you love and need desperately to stick around. Sometimes it’s hard to relate to those who are going through it. There is a natural division of those who understand and those who are waiting to. As a Mom, now somehow caught up in FB groups and mom circles that detail every horror known to man, the world seems and is I guess, so much more fragile. The transparency trap of wanting to know, wanting to be prepared has become less attractive than the ‘ignorance is bliss’ ilk that was the standard for so many generations before us who didn’t or couldn’t connect with every single person in the world. (I mean where was secondary drowning and hand foot & mouth disease when we were growing up???) They say after you have kids, you know what’s it’s like to have your heart walk around outside your body, and that is precisely how it feels. I think (and secretly hope) it goes both ways though. As a parent, I hope my girls will forever rely on me as a barometer for direction and advice. Remember me when they’ve done something they shouldn’t, but need help navigating out of. My Mom did that for me and both of Shirl’s girls still need her in their 30’s so that is a parenting victory to be celebrated. (Tangent/sidebar – I hope I gather a couple of those. These terrible twos are seriously terrible. If I have to tell myself to pull it together, she’s 2 one more time…)

As a bona fide fixer, it’s difficult to grasp the finality of death. What do you mean that’s it?! It’s annoyingly selfish. It makes the world feel like a shallow pool we’re all just breast stroking through for 2 minutes. She had so much left to do. She was the life of the party and always a perfect person to drink a glass of something with. Truthfully I’m filled with emotions I can’t articulate. I think of her, I think of my best friend, I think of how much of Shirl is tied into my own childhood, and then I get pissed that life has moved on, and the reality of time has taken hold. How did we already get to the last chapter, we were just in the middle of the storyline a year ago?!

The only thing I can think of to make it a little more palatable, is to live happy. Amidst bs, traffic, bad news, fights, lost friendships, toddlers, financial struggles,  __________ etc. etc. We must all live happy. Some days will be easier than others, but it’s up to all of us to dig in, find it, celebrate it and then rinse and repeat. Shirl did and so maybe the silver lining is the constant reminder that it’s the only way, no excuses. As the ever-wise Rumi said, “Look past your own thoughts, so you may drink the pure nectar of this moment.” Sure that was the 13th century, but it’s transcendent so get on board.

Luella Says, I pledge to live #100HappyDays,

 

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Who wants to join me? www.100happydays.com

 

 

Where There is Darkness, There is Light.

11 Jan

Have you ever wanted to stop time and literally spend an entire day in just one moment? Soaking it in, reveling and trying to imprint the details in your life memory bank forever? I have and its been happening a lot lately.

I equate it to getting older, being more aware of mortality, aging, being in love, experiencing loss and learning hard truths and realizing how quickly things can change.I have never been good with change but always seem to be in a constant state of it. Life just simply goes by too fast. There is no formula, surgery, potion or elixir that can change that.

As Chris Pureka says, Time is the Anchor, Change is a Constant.I had an entirely different post planned about fashion and my beloved Green Bay Packers but that will need to wait a day. I awoke this morning to the news that a close friend’s mother and a singer songwriter we love and follow are both facing one of life’s hardest realities; cancer.

I was struck with their honesty and perspective so much so that I felt compelled to share it with you. Here they are, two different people, two different versions their paths anonymously connected by unfortunate news and the courage to carry on.

As we all know, Cancer doesn’t care. It sees no color, gender, age, race or sexual orientation. It is undiscriminating, taxing and incredibly selfish. It is a real life monster under the bed HOWEVER, in the grandest sense possible, there is always hope. Hope breeds positivity and lightness and I think reaches far deeper than any treatment or remedy.The power of positive thinking, love and tenacity goes a long way. As my friend Heather eloquently said 4 years ago when she received her diagnosis, “I am going to kick cancer’s ass, it has messed with the wrong girl.” As we speak, she is pregnant and healthy.I consider this news a reminder of what is important. A re-balancing of my life’s priorities and focus. A necessary nudge to reach out, educate myself and be a lending ear and shoulder for those in my life who might need some extra support.

Read the brave words and perspectives of the affected who have now become warriors in their fight back to healthy.

Luella says…C Stands for Change and Courage.

Our close friend Sandra said,

“My family is about to embark on a challenging journey. It will be up to each person to transform the situation into an opportunity for faith, hope, and happiness. My mom’s cancer is back. It’s in her liver and lungs. Wanted to share this early before it became too overwhelming to share.”

Doris Muramatsu of GIRLY MAN writes,

“One image that keeps circling my mind is of Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh, Scotland. It’s an 823 ft hill in the middle of the city, climbable from almost any direction. The views up top are breathtaking, you feel otherworldly and closer to God. It was climbing this hill back in October 2010 when I knew something in me had shifted. I was no longer a healthy person. Perhaps it was the moment when my chromosomes decided to mutate; I’d like to think they’d pick a transcendent experience such as this hike to do so rather than during one of my more earthly chores such as brushing my teeth.  Of course, I don’t even think I was conscious of this shift. All I knew was that my legs felt like cement blocks and my breath huffed double time with every step I took. I had to stop every 2 minutes or so to regain my breath and couldn’t understand why or how so many people could just amble up the hill with such ease. But the sun, making a rare appearance, shone down on JJ and me, and the highland grass shimmered. Something was beckoning me to keep moving forward because to stop would admit defeat. Sure, my legs and ankles swelled daily for seemingly no reason, and sure I was dangerously short of breath. But I couldn’t admit defeat yet.

I finally made it to the top and rejoiced. I felt proud of myself and thoughts of being sick were set aside for one more day. I wouldn’t have been able to do this if I were really sick. In retrospect, I can hardly believe that I returned from the UK and immediately played shows in Atlanta and Birmingham, then the next weekend in North Carolina and South Carolina. Then I somehow managed to do a grueling 2 and half week tour in the Northeast, playing a show almost every night and teaching a harmony workshop. And every day I was zonked out in the van, barely able to lift my head, barely able to eat. I’d garner my strength for the show and give my all during those 90 minutes, (though I coughed through a good portion of it) but I felt scarily disconnected from my body. My midriff looked foreign to me, like I was in one of those books where you can flip the top, middle, and bottom portions and create the policeman wearing a pink tutu with ostrich feet. I was the Asian girl with E.T.’s belly wearing tights and cool Fluevogs. I stopped looking at myself in the mirror.

It made me think about what I would want to hear if I were about to make my transition: (for my own sanity, I like to think of death as a gateway into more life, just in a different form) the good memories, fun times, the love and laughter. Because doesn’t it all boil down to the love we share, what we give to each other and what we take in, and being able to see each other through the eyes of Source? (or God if you want to call it that?) That’s the one big thing that I realized the day I was going to receive my diagnosis in that hospital in Jersey. I was freaking out, shaking violently underneath that swath of hospital gown. And underlying that fear was the profound certainty that I wasn’t done with my life–I still wanted more. I realized that music was my absolute calling and how lucky I was to have found Ty, Nate, and JJ. How lucky we were to be able to create together. As I focused on each of them, and then on my parents and my other dearest friends, tears of joy streamed down my face. In that moment, I basically experienced the opposite of fear: love. It instantly lifted me to the grandest, most comforting space I have ever been simply because I was allowing myself to bask in its eternal truth. I was one with the Universe. (I hope I don’t sound crazy!) My mood completely transformed, and I think I even glowed because I was vibrating on such a high level.

Five people in white coats came in just then to give me my diagnosis. (It was the oncologist, the resident, and 3 medical students–I was quite the teaching example.) I shone in a state of grace and acceptance. I was ready.”

Just click here to follow her story on her blog.

Nothing else to say really. Be aware of life’s highs and lows, either way keep learning from your experiences.

Be a work in progress.

Run Luella Run.

29 Sep

Today my post has nothing to do with Fashion. I had something completely different planned but was so blown away last night by ESPN’s 30 For 30 on Terry Fox, that I decided to change it up.

Too often, (I will speak for myself here) I get wrapped up in what doesn’t matter. I think we all do. Everything truly happens as it is supposed to and we can’t change what we can’t control. Take Seth McFarlane, creator of Family Guywho missed his flight to LA on September 11th, 2001 by 5 minutes as an example. A series of events occurred that morning that ultimately saved his life. When asked if he lives differently because of it, he says no. He believes it was just a coincidence and will not let that define the rest of his life. Similar to Terry who didn’t allow his cancer diagnosis or his disability to stop him. He was profoundly succesful in his quest of raising awareness for Cancer in the early 1980’s when nobody was talking about it. Imagine if he had allowed self-doubt, exhaustion or politics to change his course. He was the ultimate Iron Man.

After watching the inspirational documentary last night, I realize Terry served his purpose in life. It has been 30 years since his fateful run across Canada on one leg and in that time, according to the documentary, the Terry Fox Foundation has raised over $500 MILLION dollars for cancer research. How can we ever calculate what that has meant for others who have been stricken with the disease since his passing? The impact of his determination is astounding. I kept telling myself, this is not a movie, Terry is NOT a character and this story was not written by David Benioff, Quentin Tarantino or Jason Reitman. It was life at its most inspiring and most unfair. 

 

 

 

The next time I find myself getting wrapped up in the unimportant details, I will think of him and all that he went through and change my tune. For Terry, the run was much more than raising money. I don’t think he realized when he started but he was living the next 60-70 years of his life in those 143 days and 5,373 kilometres (3,339 mi). It is the most noble ending ever written.

For a lighter take on it, I am totally inspired. My husband and I are running the Manhattan Beach 10K on Saturday and I am not in my best running shape. Besides Terry Fox, music is what will inspire me to finish strong. I asked some of my closest friends for a list of their “ultimate, inspiring, makes you run faster, want to fist pump and air pull songs”  so I can share them with you. If you can’t run, put music on and dance around in your living room. It is very difficult to be stressed, upset, sad, blue or all of the above if you are jumping around to your favorite jam. Try it and let me know how it goes.  

Here is the Luella Top 40

(in no particular order, click on song for video)

 1. Freakshow – Britney Spears

2. Fighter – Christina Aguilera

3. Long Way to Happy – P!NK

4. Better Off Dead – Bad Religion

5. Midnight Show – The Killers

6. Right Now – Van Halen

7. Love the Way You Lie – Eminem Featuring Rihanna

8. No One Knows – Queens of the Stone Age

9. Make Me – Janet Jackson

10. Changes – Tupac

11. Teeth – Lady Gaga

12. Mercy Me – Alkaline Trio

13. Lovestoned – Justin Timberlake

14. Young Forever – Jay Z Featuring Mr. Hudson

15. Dirty Diana – Michael Jackson

16. Rock Show – Blink 182

17. DJ Got Me Falling in Love – Usher

18. An Open Letter to NYC – Beastie Boys

19. Breathe Me – Sia

20. Robot Rock – Daft Punk

21. Don’t Stop the Music – Rihanna

22. Eye of the Tiger – Survivor

23. Jar of Hearts – Christina Perri

24. Optimistic Thought – Blues Traveler

25. Loca – Shakira + Dizee Rascall

26. Chances – Five for Fighting

27. Again Today – Brandi Carlile

28. Rap Game – D12

29. Telephone – Lady Gaga Featuring Beyonce

30. At the End – iiO

31. Scream – Michael Jackson

32. Rearview Mirror – Pearl Jam

33. Heartbreaker – P!NK

34. Play Your Part (Part 1) – Girl Talk

35. On Fire – Eminem

36. Misery Business – Paramore

37. You Lost Me – Christina Aguilera

38. Holding Out for a Hero – Bonnie Tyler

39. Use Somebody – Kings of Leon

40. Repo Man – Ray LaMontagne

 

Feel Free to comment with some of your own. I can use as much inspiration on Saturday for my run, and through life in general; we all can. Be good to yourself and to those you love.   

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