Global Goddess Cultural Meditation Retreat

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Global Goddess offers the opportunity to get out of your comfort zone right here in Houston and become more culturally aware of your surroundings during a two-hour healing retreat.  The goal is to introduce you to a new way of thinking and to explore new experiences and feelings within a cultural setting right here in your back yard.  Actually, I’ve been leading this first retreat for years with my family and cancer survivors I’ve met through CanCare and YSC.

We meet outside of the Rothko Chapel on a Saturday by 10am for group introductions and directions on how to proceed to our first cultural experience.  For me, the Rothko Chapel is part of my home since I was first introduced to the chapel during my Freshman year of Architecture school.  We were sent in for a chunk of time and then when we came out, the professor asked, “What did you see?”  Well, since then, I’ve been taking my favorite friends to visit the chapel and explaining how to sit and see what Rothko painted because it is a dynamic experience and changes each time you return.

Then, we will walk onto the University of St. Thomas campus, which is less than a block, towards St. Basil stopping at the labyrinth which is a replica of the one at Chartres in France, which I’ve also seen myself.  Here, with the water fountains tricking in the background, and the sun on our faces, we will experience a walking meditation towards the center of the labyrinth together.  Of course, I am leaving out all the little details that will make the Global Goddess retreat special for you when you join us, but now you know a bit more.

Then, we will end inside St. Basil that is a postmodern feat of design, and one that only Philip Johnson could create while during his retirement.  It is stunning with the concrete curtain wall, and granite wall slicing the gilded dome.  If you have never stepped foot inside this church, you will be amazed to see all of the sunlight warming the walls.

Within two hours we will have made a significant impact on each other as a group, and opened up new avenues of learning that you didn’t expect.  Like I always say, eating in the Taj Mahal your food will taste differently than when you are eating at home.  The same holds true for meditative experiences from an artist, nature and architecture.  Join me as we set off for a cultural journey right here in Montrose.

Register to attend via PayPal for $30 per person in advance since classes are limited and fill up fast.

AACR to AVON: There is Balance in this World

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After returning from a non-stop 48 hour volunteer continuum, I couldn’t help but notice the polar differences and similarities between the American Association of Cancer Research (AACR) Survivor Scientist Program in San Diego compared to the AVON Walk for Breast Cancer here in Houston:

1.  AACR was an international event hosting researchers from around the globe in the glorious beauty that was San Diego where the weather was perfect, the sun was shining and the air was light and fluffy.  While at AVON there were also walkers and volunteers from California walking around Houston where the weather was humid, windy and down right sticky.  From my view, I could see the AACR annual meeting as a larger macro-event connecting directly to the AVON event serving as a hub to the Houston micro-environment.  The educational dollars raised by our local Houstonians will continue to support and train health care workers that will ultimately care for patients with cancer using the latest diagnostic tools and treatments presented at AACR.

2.  While AACR is focused on Cancer Research and hosts a hot bed of amazingly talented individuals working together to focus on cures and harnessing breakthroughs, AVON was mainly filled with the local community of walkers using their strength to walk 39 miles over two days and their ability to fund raise at least eighteen hundred dollars, for what?  To fund patient navigators, educational programs and screening for our local community.  Which goes to show you that every single person can make a difference fighting cancer together.

3.  Attending my first AACR, I was thrilled to meet new friends and see familiar faces in a setting that promoted new ideas and thoughts in a collaborative, open forum.  While at AVON, I was also thrilled to meet new friends and see many familiar faces in a setting that promoted movement and action across my hometown.  We all have something to give when it comes to fighting cancer, and it could be time, talent or your treasure.  For instance, last year I only made it through ten miles until my right foot tightened up with plantar fasciitis, so this year I recruited more walkers and then became their personal crew volunteer to help them when they needed it the most.  Along the way, I volunteered for Rosie the Riveters luncheon crew as we fed more than one thousand hungry walkers on both days, which allowed me the chance to see, talk to and thank almost every single one that came by, and this included a researcher at Rice that hasn’t even graduated yet that I met last year who is now already planning to stay for a MPH and I couldn’t be more thrilled to know her.

4.  Lastly, the sheer volume of the entire AACR experience made me feel as if I was totally spoiled.  It could have been the gorgeous view from my room, or the attention to every detail of our program, maybe it was the gracious researchers that answered every question, maybe it was the lab tour with Dr. Kuhn, or even the incredible meals that were lined up for us, or it could have been the ride in the electric car to find tiaras for the Data Diva’s Presentation before our closing ceremonies? I still can’t put my finger on what made it so special, because it was the entire experience in itself.  Compared to the AVON experience where I was part of the army of crew volunteers making sure every detail was covered for all the walkers on their two day journey, and spending the weekend in a friends apartment that didn’t have drapes when I needed it to be completely dark to sleep, or handing out napkins for hundreds of lovely ladies that I thought to myself, Martha Stewart would be proud!  To me, as I see it, there is balance in this world.  And right here I have detailed exactly how it happened and continues to happen to us all.

5.  What comes around goes around and when I finally got home last night and I was going through my mail I came to an envelope with a blank piece of paper wrapped around a check from one of my clients, then another envelope with a blank piece of paper wrapped around a blank check for me to make as a donation.  Then, I opened a thank you note from the Cancer180 conference at MDA and another one from YSC that both reminded me that what I am doing makes a difference every single day.  All of my time runs together so that from volunteering to consulting there is a balance that allows me to bridge the spectrum from cancer research advocacy to education and ultimately prevention.  There is balance within me as well.

6.  Lastly, what I am thinking about today is all the feedback I received from the poster session that makes me smile and woke me up early this morning.  While wearing a Survivors in Science embroidered lab coat and standing in front of my 8 by 4 poster; Yes, I am a Girl Scout, so if you say it needs to be 8×4, then that’s exactly what you get – that I had a tremendous response and was inspired by everyone that came by to ask questions, give their feedback and ultimately take my idea to the next level.  I am inspired to continue and keep going with new found ideas and support including an Advocate Toolkit as I will offer my time to share my story and present the poster and the toolkit to new audiences of advocates with special insight on exactly what I learned after spending 2013 making a difference with my time, talent and treasure.

You are welcome to view the poster and hand out in the Resource Documents section and inquire about upcoming opportunities to share the presentation, toolkit and order a Survivors in Science lab coat.

 

Cancel Cancer-versary

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This year I let my pink-aversary, otherwise known as the day I was diagnosed just pass me by just like any other day.  There weren’t any plans to party or outrageous events scheduled at all.  Just me and my consulting business working the day away for my clients.  But you know, that was the plan.  crickets, baby, crickets…

The week prior, I accidentally hosted a Cancel Cancer-versary Happy Hour at Benjy’s Lounge in the Village with friends and colleagues to celebrate the fact that I would not be celebrating the day that I heard the words, “You have Cancer.”  Just five short years ago, hearing these words instantly changed my life and from then on I became the unwilling participant on a roller coaster of emotions accompanied by news from my doctors, employer, boyfriend, family and friends.  MD Anderson has a young program called Cancer 180 because that’s what happens when you are diagnosed, you make a 180 degree turn in your life.  Today, I hear commercials that say, “You have Cancer” and with genetic testing and so many awareness campaigns, I certainly hope that women don’t get a ticket to my sort of ride since breast cancer seems to have become common, which is really sad news.  These days cancer is becoming a chronic illness that some people are becoming accustomed to hearing.  And as an advocate, my work focuses on prevention and continued awareness as more and more drugs, and someday vaccines hit the market for breast cancer.  My biggest advice for all women is to be your own advocate and if something is wrong and your doctor doesn’t believe you, then find another doctor because no one knows your body better than you.

For me, this year meant that I would not continue to be defined by cancer and all it’s trappings.  I mean, who else celebrates the day they got divorced (besides me), or the day they were in a car wreck, because that’s exactly how a cancer diagnosis feels.  Survivorship is forever, but we are all survivors if you ask me.  Every single day we are all fighting cancer.  I’ve also learned that there are worse things than a breast cancer diagnosis and now that I’m five years away from my diagnosis, my mortality rate returned back to those of normal healthy women.  That’s right.  I’m an abnormal healthy woman.  Always have been.  Always will.

The coolest part about the night at Benjy’s was that I told our waiter that I had my first “Sandy Kicked Chemo’s Ass Party” at the Benjy’s on Washington, and he asked me what year it happened.  I said, 2009.  He says, I was working there at that time, and you know, I remember your party!  No way.  Yes, way.  Well, I continued, then I had “Sandy Kicked Radiation’s Ass Party at the same Benjy’s, when he looks at me as says, That party was much more subdued as I remember.  Well, Yes I said!  So, now we have moved up in the world and are now having the party to end all partys here at the Benjy’s Lounge in the Village with all the local doctors from the Medical Center, and he congratulated me.  Then, to top it off, as we sat in the middle section we had a great view to catch glimpses of the magical ceremony for the opening of the Olympics.

One of my friends commented, “See even all the countries are joining in your celebration.”

I couldn’t agree more.