Resisting Transformation: My Favorite Type of Clients

Not so long ago, I was asked to speak about my journey and what ensued was a funny and serious presentation entitled, Spirituality through Wellness: How to Turn a Hot Mess into Happyness.  Since then, and throughout my life I’ve continued to teach, train, and inspire others. I am drawn to educational scholarships, incredible groups of women on a mission and paying attention to the world around me – that is also a teacher.

My personal back story includes breast cancer, an international divorce that took four years to complete, learning how to say No and Yes from my heart instead of my head and finding balance along the way.  I must remain neutral.  I am the bridge that sees both sides and makes a nice connection in which thoughts and ideas can flow easily.  I resonate with those resisting change.  I am drawn to those that can’t ask for help.  I pray daily to just be of service and in the flow I am found.

One of my favorite clients found me in a yoga class that I never taught again.  She was a retired pathologist and in the middle of a cancer diagnosis resisting treatment.  She had met Yogi Bhajan, PhD in her youth and couldn’t believe that I had also found Kundalini yoga at the Stanford University Community Center.  She became my favorite client.  We met once or twice a week during the time she was in radiation.  We met all over the city from the Japanese Garden to the Path of Tea for 90-minute sessions rebuilding her faith in her journey and herself.  She was a rare bird because she knew that she needed me.  She knew what she was missing and together we forged a path towards healing that she never knew could exist in her life.  From discussions about her past, to identifying the clues along her life that eventually led to her dis-ease with life, she was forever changed.  She joined the doctors in healing herself, forever.  She let me in and all I did was shine a light.  Just like a therapist, her story will forever be kept private and safe in my heart.

Another favorite friend invited me out to visit her during chemotherapy.  She was frustrated at what and how to eat since she had never really paid attention over the years, as she gave me all her reading material about nutrition.  She was also frantic to schedule a caregiver to spend the night with her at the apartment just a few miles from the hospital to help her through the treatment.  In a sundress nursing a sunburn, she asked me to spend the night with her and I said I would do what I could.  We stopped by Walgreens so she could purchase a case for my contacts before I remembered that I already had one in the car.  She was half way through her treatment and the doctors assured her that it was working.  While she slept, I organized her kitchen cabinets so that breakfast items were together and easy to get to, organized her refrigerator so that she could see what she had and how abundant she was, and continued to edit her grocery list before she sent it to her friend to purchase items she needed.  Although I wanted to cook something for her, her freezer was full of items to reheat and there wasn’t anything left to cook.  Knowing that I wasn’t prepared to stay, we went for a walk and before I was about to leave, having spent four hours or so with her, I pointed out that she couldn’t pay someone to care about her healing as much as she needed to care about her own healing.

She couldn’t understand why she couldn’t find someone to pay to follow a spreadsheet of medication and feeding until I told her about my experience tracking myself throughout my own chemo journey, because I knew that I wasn’t going to be surprised by my fourth, fifth or sixth round.  I kept track of the major things during my day including, sleep, breakfast, bowel movements, water intake, exercise, prayer, nature, sun, fun, friends, lunch, medication, dinner, snacks, and anything else that had to be done on a daily basis so that I could stay on schedule and avoid trips to the emergency room.  Granted, she has friends upon friends to help with her journey, and she was delegating like the best of them, but the biggest role for her she could not pay someone else to fill because it was her job and hers only.

It took three rounds of chemo and another advocate to point my attention to her, and as I shared, the final three are now a countdown to freedom.  A count down to her own life of independence.  A new life she probably didn’t think was possible just months ago.  And by the time I got home and fell asleep, I dreamed that I was there with her during the chaos of diagnosis with so many people seemingly intruding her life in darkness and then the dream ended with her holding up three fingers and smiling in the sun as if I was there the whole time knowing that she only had three more treatments to go.  I couldn’t wait to tell her about my dream and that she was never alone the entire time.

You are cordially invited to attend an Open House on Wednesday, June 10th from 6:30 – 8:00pm at The Mystic Path in the heights located at 4001 N. Shepherd Suite 208 as I share the upcoming series of workshops focused on you and your health.  Maybe you care for others, or maybe you are totally great!  This series will uncover the Seven Pathways to Wellness starting June 22nd for seven weeks.  Workshops include educational materials, instruction and experiential journies including yoga, meditation, journaling and two classes will be outside of this space at Central Market and The Path of Tea.  You don’t know what you don’t know until you know it.  This class is exciting to think about the boundless adventures that await.  Register online or contact Sandy Castillo at 713-232-9796.  Thank you.



The Law of Success & Abraham Hicks

About a month ago, I was introduced to the Law of Success by Napolean Hill and it has truly shaken me to the core.  I love reading each chapter and letting it settle into my conscious as I live with each the information week by week.  It discusses the art of energy as plain language and helps guide you towards a definite chief aim.  I don’t know about you, but I am interested in joining a group and sharing my ideas and intentions in addition to my chief aims.

My friend who introduced it to me brought it to my attention just when I needed it the most and I am thankful.  She also introduced me to Abraham Hicks and I love listening to her!  Together, both Hill and Hicks are helping me overcome the many challenges I’ve had to face along my journey.  But it’s all good!  I’m thankful for all the people in my life that have given me the opportunity to make real shifts along my path.  If it weren’t for all the moments in my life, then I wouldn’t be exactly where I am today and that is proud of my work and my life.

Teaching yoga and meditation is the one true gift I can share so that we can all empty our hearts and minds just long enough for abundance to take it’s place.  This is why I am thrilled to invite you to one of the three upcoming Cultural Meditation Tour and Tea or Chocolate Tastings in May!  The first one on May 9th is hosted by and is complimentary for those diagnosed with cancer or caregivers.  Then, on May 16th, the tour will end at the Chocolate Bar, while the tour on May 23rd will end at The Path of Tea.  I’ve also got exciting plans and new tours scheduled for this summer, so stay tuned!


Seize the Moment

Just as Advocacy is about telling your story and sharing your voice to affect others, there are times in your life where the stars just seem to align.  That is when you must seize the moment with the intention to move the needle in the direction that supports and offers resources to more and more people like yourself.  This is the main reason why Cancer Survivors make, sometimes, the best advocates for issues pertaining to cancer itself.  However, as a survivor who recently lobbied at the Capitol with Komen and the BHCT for one day and then for the American Cancer Society the next, I can tell you from experience that non-survivors sometimes don’t know how to react to a survivors story.  This is where the divide continues to make itself as plain as day that those personally affected by cancer can and will make the best advocates for issues pertaining to cancer.

On the first day of lobbying, out of our group there were only six breast cancer survivors among us.  I made a suggestion that we all split up so that we can use our story during our office visits at the Capitol.  Personally, I start a sentence with, “as a survivor, I …” comes with weight because not only have I actually gone through the news that I had cancer, but also the treatments including chemotherapy, radiation, fear of the unknown, depression and anxiety.  Co-survivors are those that are there during our experience, but they are innocent bystanders to what is really happening to the cancer patient.  As such, the weight of our opinion in matters of healthcare legislation as it affects our community is lofty.

But what happens when a cancer survivor says something that the others hadn’t planned on?  For example, as a strong advocate for breast cancer research and prevention, I was invited to promote media interviews for the Komen Tissue Bank as the goal was to fill 200 appointments to gain healthy breast tissue for the Tissue Bank.  The Principal Investigators or PIs wanted to compare cancerous tissue to healthy breast tissue and they had nothing to complete the work!  The opportunity to donate healthy breast tissue especially from those in minority groups proved to be a perfect storm for Houston since we are a melting pot.  Baylor College of Medicine was the site for the incredible day that included more than 200 volunteers taking donors from happy station to happy station to ultimately leave with a cotton-balls worth of healthy breast tissue in which to conduct valuable breast cancer research.  As a Komen funded research grant, this is the first opportunity of it’s kind to start changing the conversation from “You have Breast Cancer” to “Let’s see if you will have breast cancer someday.”  That in itself is something to celebrate.  Forget applauding, I was jumping up and down inside as I had to look the other way while Dr. Sedgwick quickly and almost painlessly extracted my donation that sounded worse that it felt.  It was explained to me that the sound was the little vacuum as she turned the probe six times to take a small biopsy for research. I didn’t even need the ice pack afterwards, but it did bruise a bit.  I didn’t care because I was providing my own cells for the PIs to hopefully continue their research because I believe that in my generation, cures will be found affecting future generations of women and men.

Back to the short office visits at the Capitol scheduled by the different advocacy groups; and when I brought up the Komen Tissue Bank, only one person in the room besides the legislative aide snickered and spouted, “She’s just a survivor.” As if that were a small task in which to complete.  You know, survivorship.  Interestingly enough, it was the aide that turned to me and says, Tell me exactly how the Tissue Bank works and what it was like being a donor.  I did.  The other person in the room finally sat back and listened.  Maybe they were in horror, but it was all true and my testimony to how I needed to seize the moment for the sake of all 160 tissue donors that took their time to donate their precious cells for research.

Being ready for those moments continues to be a blessing because I am a survivor with a strong voice.  For others that visit the Capitol because it’s just part of their job aren’t doing everything they need to do to get the message across.  They must include survivors and their stories.  Visiting the Capitol is about building relationships.  It’s not about checking off the advocacy box.  Survivors should be recruited, trained and given priority when advocated for cancer research in every legislative visit.  Like I told the survivors during my last visit, let’s all break up and share our stories when possible to help drive the point across that breast cancer is not pretty.  It’s a silent killer affecting one in eight women throughout their lifetime.  That’s why I continue to lobby with many different cancer organizations and plan to launch a nonprofit specifically dedicated to recruiting and training those affected by cancer.  Where do you think The Trifecta Effect came from?  The Capitol itself when I was lobbying with the Alamo Breast Cancer Foundation in 2013 and an aide thought we were looking to add unicorns to the panel because he didn’t believe that scientifically trained cancer advocates even existed, when we were all standing right in front of him.  Interestingly enough, I recently received the legislative priorities from ABCF and Priority #3 is as follows:  ABCF is urging support of inclusion in HB 1952 a trained patient advocate, who represents a cancer organization with a patient constituency, on the Integration Panel, Oversight Committee and all other committees of the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT).