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My Gift to You…

This last year has been a very introspective year.  I’ve had to focus most of my energy inside the walls of my house.  My babies, my husband, my diet, my cancer, my bills, my little bubble.  But I started to tire of all this “Brita” talk.  I wanted to branch out and stretch my mind.  And it was hard to do under the title of “a girl with cancer.”  I don’t have cancer anymore, and I think it’s time to shake things up.  Of course, I still have a fascination with my health and am continually unfolding different alternative health road maps that I enjoy sharing.  So, fear not!  This blog will now represent this next year of healthy living and informative tidbits.  But my spreading branches have started a new blog :)  This blog embodies my new course.  It’s titled “Fiercely Happy.”  Sometimes we have to work at finding our happiness in the muck and mire, but it might only take someone delivering it to our email.  And I am your pony express!  This year is about giving back.  It’s hard to find the time to browse for happiness in blogs, search pinterest for inspiration, and read piles of recipes for the yummy factor.  I’ll do the research, you receive the gift!  It’s about you finding the sparkling joy, the unrestrained laughter, the quiet calm.  I am a wealth of information from this last year of “life” research, and I can’t think of anything I’d like more than to have a few friends on this leg of the journey.  So, come along!  I promise a beautiful ride!

Fiercely Happy.

 

Look at that statement for a moment. What does it mean to you? I used to think of it as a flighty, hippy mentality that couldn’t handle real life. Turns out, it’s the only way to handle real life. I could go into the science behind stress, but I’ll sum it up in a few sentences. Chronic stress can be found at the root of nearly all diseases. Stress shuts down the creative problem solving part of your brain, rendering you lost when you need to make smart decisions. A bit of stress can help and push us to the next level, but when we let the “worry” part come into play, we’re floating down the creek (you know what creek) without a paddle. To be happy when life is gay and grand is no difficult task. When we’re in the depths of despair, happiness seems to be a distant memory. So, this statement is actually quite a challenge.

This last year has been a battle of wits. As I creep up on the year anniversary of being diagnosed, I have found my mind shuffling through past memories of deep sorrow, untethered joy and moments of terror and then moments of brave empowerment. I kept edging toward writing a blog about each and every moment, but there’s been a hesitation. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to share this journey with you. I started to feel a heaviness in relaying every sorrow. And I felt a shame in only relaying the joys. So, unfortunately, I succumbed to the sad, gray, boring, middle of the fence and just stopped blogging. But one of the things that has kept me going is following others blogs! Isn’t that scandalous?!? Taking what I need and not opening up to give back. Well, let’s hope this realization gave me a swift enough kick to the head and it sticks :)

I imagine that I will be jumping back and forth a bit as I continue blogging and eventually, it will all piece back together! Tonight, however, I will be taking this quiet moment to share my current heart space.

I have had on my heart to give back lately. My hair is only about 2 inches long, so there’s not much donation room for that yet. Our largest money fund is our loose change jar, and I’m thinking that the $20 in nickels and dimes might not be considered “helping” to the person that has to count and roll it all. Then, universe takes the reigns and brings my opportunity to me.

My gratitude has so many friends, I hardly know where to start. However, one of the frontrunners is the incredible gifting of monitory donations as our family dealt with crippling health bills. To cross that stress off our list was phenomenal and gave us the space to breath and deal with healing. Sadly, this story isn’t very common. Families are slapped in the face with a health crisis and then boxed in the ears with the insurance price tag of their wellbeing. And what does that add? Yes, my friends. A big whopping scoop of stress.

Then, the clouds part and a quiet breeze blows away a few of those worries. There are a few organizations that help cancer patients with their bills. I have become familiar with a few local ones, but now we have one in our hometown. Aptly named, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy”. Through the good graces of universal aligning, I was contacted by them. After speaking with the owners of this non-profit, I knew I had hit my stride. They asked me to speak at their Wellness Wednesday about my story. I don’t have much to offer, but I do have a story that can hopefully empower and encourage others. I grabbed the opportunity with both hands!

Here’s the amazing part. The date to speak was loose. After discussing availability, we decided to set it up for this upcoming Wednesday, July, 25th. Once I got home and went to put it in my calendar, I froze. The 25th. July 25th. One year to the day that I was diagnosed. What the hell are the chances that THIS would coincidentally happen?? In my mind, there’s no chance. Meant to be. Incredibly cheesy, but awe-inspiring. And then I starting hearing these internal “clink clink clink’s” as my journey starting linking together. In a single moment, I felt clarity. It is so hard to explain the sense of purpose that can be derived from cancer. But there it was, calmly staring back at me. And we shook hands and decided to reach out and speak words of truth and wrap a verbal hug around those who care to listen. In a most humble manner, I request a listening ear as I share the pieces of inspiration that got me through the darkest despair. We are all connected by so many thin strings. We share a grocery store, a neighborhood or the recognition of wanting true happiness in life. When we can join together for greatness, greatness must come.

I am attaching the link to “Don’t Worry, Be Happy”. If you have a moment, take a look. Inside you will find some of the greatest warriors in our area. Don’t turn away to the heaviness of their situations. They’ve decided to fight for the life that they so rightly deserve to live. Let them inspire you to appreciate what you have a this very moment. Let them warm your heart with their incredible stories and the continued joy that radiates from each face. And if you are fashion forward, you might want to invest in one of their swanky shirts:

Don’t Worry Be Happy Shirts| Fundraising To Pay Struggling Cancer Warriors Bills.

So, if you feel like coming to the Wellness Wednesday, plug this into your calendar:

July 25th, 2012 7:00 pm 1042 North Coast Hwy Laguna Beach

And as a special reward for reading this blog down to the very last sentence, you get a few baby pictures to tide you over :) My gratitude and love to each of you and your loving support to me and mine!

Obviously, I don’t meet very many horses

Obviously underfed

Perfection

xx, Brita

Happy Birthday!!!

I know.  I have so very much to catch you up on.  But today is my birthday.  And I can’t help but share the best thing these two eyes have ever read.  My sensational husband wrote the world’s best poem.  And I couldn’t help but share the beauty with you.  Love, light and the promise to write again soon.

 

Stylish Lady #1

My mom.  She has the most adorable hair style, her fashion sense is at an all-time high and she distributes love like it’s her job.  Every single person has a mother who gave birth to them, but I am lucky that my mother became one of the most amazing influences in my life.

We don’t get to see each other that often, as she is holding down the fort in my hometown of Bend, Oregon.  It was the perfect place to grow up.  There was never a dull moment as we camped and kayaked in the summer and cross-country skied and built snowmen in the winter.  We explored every mountain and river, always leaving with memories of a perfect day.  Once in a while, we would be rewarded with a snow day.  If the gray skies were unleashing an excess of white flakes, I would turn on the radio and jump into my parents bed at 6 am.  I waited with bated breath as they announced the schools that were closed for the day.  The funny thing wasn’t that we were so excited to have a day off, it was that my mom was almost more excited than us to have a whole play day with her daughters!  She would plan cold weather excursions and we’d make snow cones.  She’d give us gobs of yarn to weave treacherous spider webs on the staircase and then we’d slide down in sleeping bags, narrowly escaping sudden death by string.  And it didn’t stop with snow days.  My mom always created the best themed birthday parties and never was without an imaginative game to play at a moments notice.  I can’t remember ever feeling bored growing up.  In fact, I can’t remember many unhappy times at all.  Well, I wasn’t too happy that I got grounded and couldn’t go to homecoming, but I had that punishment coming from a mile away.

My mom was my playmate growing up.  As I got older, she shifted her role into a good listener and therapist.  I’d come home from school with gossip or a broken heart and she’d always sit on the bar stool in the kitchen and give me her undivided attention.  The years went by, and she constantly shifted into different roles.  When I was twenty and decided to move across the country and nanny for a family no one had ever met, she became my brave-faced cheerleader.  As a mom now, I can see how hard it would be to let your strong-head child make decisions like that.  Because of her support, I was able to flourish and grow up. I fell in love for the first time, met a lifelong best friend and found that I had the ability to raise for children under the age of 8.

One of her biggest role shifts came when I decided to move to California.  We didn’t’ see eye to eye on some big-ticket life decisions, but she stayed consistently calm and supportive and let me figure out life on my own terms.  She remained my rock through each stage of life.

What is the most defining quality she’s given me?  Strength.  She taught me that life isn’t handed to you on a golden platter; you’ve got to work for it.  I always knew that life would have obstacles, and learned the difference between those I could change and those that were out of my control.  My mother was a daily reminder that a strong woman is admirable.  Strength is what has gotten me through the soap opera drama that I call life!

When looking up Mother’s Day online, I came across something interesting.  Anna Jarvis, the creator of Mother’s Day, wishes she had never come up with the holiday because of how commercialized it’s become.  So, when you’re celebrating mom today, take out the commercial and give her heart.  Tell her your favorite childhood memory, spend time in the sun (or rain) together or pull out old photo albums and laugh at the crazy fashions of the olden days.  If you don’t have a mom that you like, send love to the person that molded you into who you are today!

Mom, you are loved beyond measure.  You overflow with grace and sincerity and shower sunshine on those around you.  You have given me a childhood full of incredibly happy memories.  I couldn’t be more honored to call you my mom and my girl’s “Gabbie”.  You have blessed my life with each lesson and adoring smile you have bestowed on me.  My confidence in motherhood stems from my strong upbringing and the hero that I look up to.  All my love to you on this celebratory day, Brita

To end, here’s my little recap of a truly delightful childhood with an amazing mama:

2 days old

What’s better than pool time in a canoe?

I was a bit of a ham growing up

Beach side therapist

San Juan Islands; my favorite family vacation

Apparently pool time never got old!

My mother taught me the proper way to eat an olive

Mom visiting my east coast dwelling

My wedding day

 

And here’s the next generation attempting the “perfect” Mother’s day picture.  Apparently, perfection wasn’t in the cards, which made it even cuter.  Happy Mother’s Day!!

First attempt

Second attempt

Switched positions and third attempt

Good enough for me :)

 

Love to you all!

Free of the “c”

In case the title didn’t give it away, I have fantastic news!  I am officially 100% cancer free!!!!!!!  I had planned on drawing it out a bit, but I couldn’t help but give away the punchline first!  I had been on my new regiment for a month before he asked me to do a few blood work tests.  A few meaning 34.  I had just enough blood to comply, and left the office feeling more than a little woozy.  After impatiently waiting for two weeks, he emailed me the numbers and percentages.  I stared at the page for hours, trying to decide if 2.5 was good for one and 3,000 might be a little high for another.  Finally, I emailed him and asked point-blank when he thought I might be cancer free.  I was promptly emailed back this:

1) the tumor markers for breast cancer are all clear
2) the last imaging report was negative
3) in each of the ways we are looking, there is no presence of cancer
 
Be strong, hopeful, and encouraged, and that it is absolutely appropriate to confidently share with friends and family that you are cancer free!  My plan is to continue supporting you by: 
1) working with you on a good plan for screening/preventive care
2) keeping you on a streamlined effective protocol
I was completely caught off guard!  Cancer free?!?  I didn’t expect this news for at least another year!  Well, it was perfect timing because the next day, I had my port taken out.  For those of you who don’t remember my friendly iv site, here’s the day I had it put in:
And here’s the last remnant of my war wounds:
I am beyond grateful for every single person that sent well wishes, prayers, love, laughter and support our way.  If you’re reading this, I’m sending you an enormous virtual hug and sloppy kiss (husband approved this excessive display of affection).  We did it!  With this newfound admiration for my body and the second lease on life, I want to strive for impossible greatness.  I want to give back tenfold and remember that life is rather simple.  Love is really all you need.  Love yourself and stretch from there.  In the beautiful words of many yoga instructors everywhere, “the light within me bows to the light within you”.  Namaste

The Ox…

I’m not sure I can change the name of my blog, but it seems that I have grown wings bigger than “a girl with cancer”.  The state of my health is no longer defined by that word.  I am now defined by my babies and grizzly husband, by the herb garden I’m starting and the friends that I laugh with.  You can call me mama, sweet love wife, green thumb or bestie.  I no longer answer to victim or cancer patient.  Since taking responsibility for my health, I found that elusive summer buried in the snow.  I can’t claim a solo victory on this feat, and must give credit where credit is due.

Since I hadn’t received my medical degree in the mail yet, I did a ton of research on naturopathic and holistic doctors to assist in my journey.  I met a few, but was hesitant to sign over my newly found health rights to them.  I was looking for that golden ring; the perfect marriage of knowledge, experience, and open-mindedness.  A doctor who actually believed in the body’s ability to heal and reverse cancer.  My search led me to a place I love dearly and a state I call home.  In the heart of this Shakespearian town, I found my golden ring.

The Mederi Foundation is located in Ashland, Oregon.  The founder, Dr. Donald Yance, has created an individualized multi-faceted treatment program for cancer patients.  They deal with the physical, spiritual and mental aspects of your disease and use each for the healing process.  I picked my doctor, who specialized in oncology, and impatiently awaited my phone call appointment.  The initial consultation that was supposed to last about an hour and a half, but it stretched itself to three hours and was filled to the brim with facts on cancer, on herbs and botanicals and I felt an immense gratitude to speak with a doctor that cared about me as a person and not just as a diagnosis.  Our call ended with the promise of a protocol for my new treatment plan.

My doctor did not disappoint.  The next week, I received a 10 page protocol.  It was written specifically for my type of cancer, my tumor markers, and my eating habits.  It was easy to understand, easy to follow and he even had the reasons for each recommendation so I knew how my body was utilizing the supplements.  Oh, the supplements!  This regiment is no small task.  I am taking sixty different supplements and botanical solutions in addition to a smoothie every morning that piles on an additional five or six in powder form.  This is in addition to yoga, walking and trampoline jumping.  And this is in addition to daily meditation and stress management.  All in all, it’s a full-time job!  The wonderful part is that I feel healthy as an ox (there’s the title plug!).  I’ve got the energy to happily go from 6 am to 7 pm with two energetic babies in tow, find the time to smooch on my husband and even blog a bit!

I appreciate each person that has continued to follow and I very much look forward to starting this new chapter with you!  To end, a few pictures of what has been filling my days.  Love and light to each of you! xo

Happiness comes by having big friends!

Who needs a chair when you have a shoebox?

Messy homemade paint day

Because I’ve received a few personal messages about my treatment and what I recommend, I must put this next part in to cover myself legally.  I am not a doctor, and am not suggesting anyone follow my lead.  Everyone must make their own decisions, do their own research and listen to their bodies for the best suited therapy.  You should find a doctor that you are comfortable with and that you trust and work with them to create a plan for your situation.  I am sharing my experience so others know that they have options and I will happily share all my resources with anyone who is interested.

I had intended to write a fluffy little blip about my day and share a few pictures of us doing little bits of nothing.  I had a few helpful hint to share and was going to head to bed at a decent time.  However, the universe had a different plan.

How often do you see people post videos to watch on Facebook and you pay no attention?  How often are you invited to events that you never even take time to look at?  I am guilty of both.  I tend to browse with one eye on my computer and the other on my daughter stacking books on her sister.  I’m not sure what made me notice tonight.  More than a few friends had reposted this video, so I guess it was the repetition that made me take a second glance.

Before I go on, I need you to promise me something.  Pretend that I am standing in front of you, begging you for your promise. You’ll feel so incredibly guilty if you don’t follow through, right??  Please read this whole post.  Do not stop, even if it gets difficult.  If you aren’t able to read the whole post and watch the attached 30 minute video, please find time as soon as you can.  This is important.

I’m the first to admit that I don’t enjoy feeling bad.  I always pick the romantic comedy to watch or books that have a happy ending.  I’m not even a fan of watching the news.  It’s always gloom and doom and it depresses me.  I like to surround myself with goodness and peace and light and love.  There’s nothing wrong with that, but there’s a world bigger than my happiness bubble.

Let’s imagine something for a moment.  Pick someone you love dearly.  Someone that means the world to you.  I immediately hone in on my babies.  Imagine that they are in trouble.  Imagine that they need your help.  How far would you go for them?  Most of you would probably go to the ends of the earth.  Literally.  Now imagine seeing a unknown child hurting in front of you.  Most of us have a heart big enough to reach out and help this unknown little person who can’t yet protect themselves.  Love makes the world go round!

I don’t want to dwell on the horrors of the past for more than a moment, but let’s take a quick look back.  There have been situations in our history that has made my blood boil.  The Holocaust and the segregation of women and races are two that always start me on a rampage.  I feel angry that more wasn’t noticed or acted upon at that time.  Where was the love and the united front of humans fighting for each other instead of against each other?  Why does it matter what color or sex you are?  As the human race (which includes every single human under the sun), we can strengthen each other by caring and loving and reaching out to each other.  YOU can be the warmth and touch that someone desperately needs.  YOU can make a difference in someone’s life.  How good will it feel when you do something outside your day to day tasks and actually join a movement that will only better the lives of thousands of people??

I will ask you for two things.  First of all,  watch this video.  It is 30 minutes, so try to set that time aside.  It’s worth watching in one sitting.  Secondly, do what you can to support this movement.  Something as simple and free as signing the petition can make the difference.  Don’t tell yourself that you’ll do something later.  Do it now.  Allow yourself to be moved by the emotion and depth of caring shown and use that to catapult yourself into doing and moving.  Make this the day that you decided to educate yourself on what is happening in Uganda.  Make this the day that you decide to help.  I appreciate you taking the time.  I am sending each and every person light and love and an enormous hug for joining hands with all those who have committed themselves to seeing a change in the lives of those too young to defend their rights.

Click here to watch the video:

KONY 2012 on Vimeo on Vimeo

via KONY 2012 on Vimeo.

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