OMG I can breathe!

I recently moved into my own place in Montrose and not by accident, even though the story would make you think otherwise.  But since then I have finally started to breathe.

First, I thought I always wanted to live in the Heights and tried to find a place, but nothing was working out.  Plus, I can not handle living in a big apartment complex with a row of mailboxes, taking your laundry somewhere else to get washed, or carpet.  So, when nothing was working and I was totally frustrated, I went shopping.  Nothing like retail therapy but I said to myself, OK God, if I am supposed to move out then I will return these cool shoes and awesome backpack, but if I don’t get a place, then I am going on a road trip because that is exactly what I intended to do with my purchase.  Within exactly 24 hours, I was writing a check for the deposit on my apartment because the rent for the month had already been paid.  Yes, it was that quick.

A friend had heard my frustration and after a YSC event that night, said, Oh yeah, you should talk to my friend because she just had to break her lease on a cute place in Montrose and you might like it.  The next morning, while I was at a Healthcare Conference, I started to receive images of this place on my phone and was thrilled to see that it was a renovated home off of Roseland with wooden floors, loads of character and privacy.  That afternoon I was so excited to see it that I just started driving towards the house, when my friends’ friend calls me to see if I can meet her there so she could show me around.  Perfect, I said, I am about ten minutes away.  She says, So am I.  We met up and she showed me the place that looked immaculate and like no one had ever lived there.  She said, I was going through a divorce and the place was packed with boxes and now I am moving downtown to live with a friend rent free.  I couldn’t even find a hole in the wall, the refrigerator was still wrapped in plastic and the extra closet was huge.  Little by little the place had been updated before I got there, and now the new deck will be finished any day so I can host my first party.  Serious?  Yes.  Thank Goodness.

Then, an hour later the real estate agent was to meet me at the place so for that hour I went to Eatsies for a waffle but when I got out of the car and looked down, there was a bright and shiny key on the ground.  It was a sign.  I picked up the key and still have it.  Then, I met the agent at the apartment and she was just about to put it on the market until I wrote a check for the deposit, since the rent was already paid.  And within 48 hours, I had my own set of keys in my hand.  That was a Friday night as my mother and I celebrated at dinner once I checked my phone to see that all was approved and ready to go.

I started moving box by box everything I had myself.  I was so excited about moving that after the last night of dog sitting George, then, I decided that I was going to move the girls and myself to the new place.  Little did I know that in my excitement, I forgot to pack sheets, silverware and my duvet.  So, I slept in my winter pajamas with the feet in them on a blow up bed on the floor with my girls.  It was heaven.

Once everything was moved in with the help of friends and family, I woke up feeling exhausted and as if there were a hundred people in my bedroom.  I could see them in my dreams all walking around in a crowd.  The next day I woke up and was in a bad mood and didn’t even want to have breakfast.  That is exactly when I knew something wasn’t right.  Then, everything started to go wrong.  The battery exploded in my old mac laptop.  My phone went crazy, fell and broke the glass, which I never do – so ghetto.  The check engine light in my car went on.  The disposal died.  The ice maker quit working.  I backed into a parked card leaving my parking spot.  The recycling bin that I put out for pick up, never returned.  I could go on, but you get my drift.  But it wasn’t until my wireless keyboard just quit working and I changed the batteries, to find that it still didn’t work, so I changed them again that it finally popped in my mind that the space needed to be cleared and blessed.

I immediately went to Lucia’s Garden and bought sage and came back to go through a Feng Shui ritual clearing and blessing of the place with the doors and windows open putting my intention into the house for abundance.  Then, I lit incense from Kyoto for inspiration and put it all around the place as I cleaned and turned the air conditioning back on.  The next morning I woke up having dreamt that an angel was kneeling down to whisper action plans into my ear.  The house was built in 1938 and there was so much karmic gunk that as sensitive as I am, I could feel the weight, but now it’s cleared out.

Days later, I met Georgie Holbrooke and learned how to properly bless the space and I came home and went through the tradition with sage, sound and salt.  However, it was when I rang a Tibetan bowl just out of no where when I heard a loud THUMP!  I looked into the extra closet to find the new rack had fallen even though the two brackets that were added to hold up to 400 pounds each had been pulled out of the wall.  The agent came in to move the brackets to the studs and before she got here, I cleaned it out and properly cleared and blessed it, but not without getting goose bumps all over my body.  So, I cleared and blessed it again.  Plus, most of the stuff that came out of the closet is now more useful or in my car to be donated.  These things always happen for a reason.  Plus, the entire place feels much more balanced and at ease.

Now the fun begins.  Now I can continue moving forward with my plans of action!

AACR to AVON: There is Balance in this World

photo(9)

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.

 

Survivor Scientist Program, American Association of Cancer Research

As a Survivor Scientist, this will be my first time to create a poster about a topic and it is only fitting that it is on The Trifecta Effect.  When a group of scientifically-trained consumer advocates were lobbying in Texas for a better selection process to place advocates on CPRIT committees, we were looked at as if we were unicorns, or something that didn’t really exist.  One aide said, “You want the Trifecta!  Where are we going to find Scientifically-trained, consumer, advocates?” Well, now my goal with this years poster is to share a comprehensive list of educational opportunities available for consumers to broaden their knowledge base and training specifically launched through the breast cancer industry.  My aim is to inspire cancer consumers to avoid going back to their way of life, and continue gaining education so that their voices as scientifically-trained consumer advocates can continue affecting future generations in a collaborative and productive manner.  For me, I went back to school at Rice for one year studying Nonprofit Leadership and then became a Business Development and Community Outreach Consultant specializing in Breast Health Services.  I am thankful for everyone’s support over the past five years and amazed at how many incredible experiences I am able to share with others.  Thank you.

In addition, if you would like to help me get back to DC to lobby for Breast Cancer Research, along with others representing Texas, please click here to make a tax-deductible donation before April 17th.  Thank you!:  NBCC Advocate Summit 2014