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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.

 

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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

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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.

 

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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!

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Suspense Abated…

Yes, it took me a whole week to get back to blogging! Seven straight days of blogging left me happily exhausted. So, this blog will ease me back into a weekly ritual. And I’m going to make it short and sweet.

I cannot thank each and every one of you enough. Your kindness and support brought me to tears and I felt so overjoyed at the love that you’ve given. Thank you for taking the time to gift me with your words of encouragement!

We have winners!! Before announcing those, I would like to take a moment to give out a few honorable mentions.

*Stu Saffer: Not only was he the very first person to comment, he also happened to be the only gentleman to post a comment. Thank you Stu 🙂

*Michelle: She commented on two blogs, leaving me doubly blessed!

*Marianne: I have known her longer than anyone else who posted! Twenty one years, give or take!! And her mom was my sister’s pediatrician AND she has twins girls AND she still has time to send incredibly sweet and sincere words of encouragement! Whew! You deserve a medal!

*Jessie: This lovely lady posted a comment from the furthest distance! Where, you might ask? Over 7,000 miles away, in Kabul, Afgahnistan!

*Vanessa: A close second in distance, coming from Switzerland and almost 6,000 miles away. These overseas gals really know how to spread the love far and wide!

And now, drumroll please!!! I instructed Alabama to only draw one name. Alabama decided that drawing three names sounded like a better idea. I documented the process:

What did you put in my pumpkin? That's not candy!

Just one? Hmm...

Why are you taking me away from my tribute to Stan Bernstein?

Here’s where we had our hiccup. Alabama drew two names, and I told her to only take one name. So, she puts the two names down and drew a third. By the time I put the camera down to assist, the three names were mixed and who knows what was drawn when.

And that makes three!

The three lucky winners are as follows in no particular order:

*Lindsay

*Rebecca

*Staci

I will be emailing you in the next week to get your address and mail you the super awesome gift of gratitude! And who knows? Maybe I’ll eventually mail everyone something! Over the next few years of course :). Or once the girls are off to college. That sounds doable 🙂 Have a wonderful and joyful weekend!

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Happiness in a Click…

Have you ever made dinner and thought it was the best thing since sliced bread, only to reheat it for lunch the next day and it’s subpar at best?  Well, unfortunately, that seems to be the case with the “to be continued” blog from last night.  I was on a roll (in my head) and had so much to add to the next blog, but upon starting today, it doesn’t hold the same pizzaz.  So, here’s the gist of intuition.  If you need to make a big or small decision, try this.  Step away for a moment and peacefully sit.  When thinking about the situation, what is your first reaction?  When thinking about your options, what is your first reaction?  Most likely, that will be your guide.  If you doubt your choice, reevaluate.  You are always allowed to change your mind.  And you are always allowed to keep the course of your first instinct.

And now, moving on!  What have you done today to make yourself happy?  What have you done this last week that was just for you?  How about this last month?  Most people strain to remember a time when they weren’t working, commuting, cooking or cleaning.  I would read these blogs about women taking morning baths, spending a quiet hour clearing their chakras and treating themselves to a massage once a month.  I would assume these women weren’t married or mothers or animal owners because who has that kind of time to carelessly throw around?!?  Turns out, it’s not really an option.  Your health depends on it.

Making time and space for yourself has been medically proved to reduce stress, increase your immune system, and can slow the aging process.  There is a catch though.  The whole “time and space” thing is limited.  To get these results, you can’t have media stimulation (I’m talking boob tube and iPad) or distractions that keep you from centering yourself.  Of course, there are distractions even without those things.  It’s called a monkey mind, and it’s the part of you that starts to mentally write a grocery list, or prepare a speech to your husband about hanging up the bath towel after a showering or tries to remember if you recorded “Real Housewives of New Jersey”.  This is something that can be mastered over time, but gently letting these thoughts drift out and not paying heed to them is a good start.  Eventually, these thoughts are spaced out farther and farther apart and clean, quiet space is replaced.  Hours upon hours of meditating is not required to achieve the health benefits.  Take a moment in the shower to close your eyes and breath.  Try to go to bed a little earlier and spend a few quiet minutes meditating before falling asleep.  This may not sound like fun to you, but you will notice a calm and peace throughout your day if you incorporate small meditation moments.

Now onto my favorite part!  Happiness!  It took me quite a while to hone in on what makes me happy.  For the longest time, I thought TV made me happy.  I couldn’t wait until the girls were in bed and I could hunker down and watch a few mindless shows before bed.  Sometimes I would watch something of substance, like a documentary or have a movie night with my husband, which was always enjoyed.  But something interesting would normally happened.  I would drag myself away after two or three hours and feel lethargic and dull.  I wouldn’t sleep very well, which would result in a groggy morning.  The worst part was that I have a never-ending list of things I wanted and needed to do, and I wasn’t making a dent in it.  After weeks (aka months) of this strange rhythm, a little lightbulb went off and I felt my brain starting to rewire.  I started “my time” with cleaning the house up, so it was fresh and tidy in the morning.  Then I’d spend about an hour replying to emails, writing thank you letters and coming up with an appealing weekly menu and grocery list.  After that, I’d do what made my soul sing.  I started a list of what truly made me happy.  Things like taking a bath, reading a book that has nothing to do with nutrition or cancer or parenting, “pinning”, meditation and cooking.  I would pick something from that list and fill my night with it.  I was going to bed content, and sleeping like a baby (except when the baby wasn’t sleeping like a baby!) and I was waking up content and ready to start a new day in my already tidy house.

Understandably, not every day turns out this way.  But what I realized is that it needs to be something I add to the mandatory list.  Even if it’s only sitting in the sun for five minutes, it will make me happy for those three hundred seconds and that will hopefully carry over into some of the day.  When I’m happy, my babies seem happier, which makes papa bear happy.  And then, we feel like we are doing something right in this world!  All from remembering that you are just as important as everyone else in your life, and to take the time to show your appreciation for all that you do.  It’s like giving yourself a bonus for a job well done!  And who doesn’t want a little quality time as a reward??

Helpful hint of the day:  Meditation is like taking a minivacation, a quick “reset” for your brain, body and nervous system. In our culture, most people do best with structured meditation, rather than trying to “empty” the mind.  This is one of my favorite ways to start my day.

LOVING KINDNESS MEDITATION

Say each phrase on an exhale, repeating four times:

For yourself; a loved one; for someone you don’t know well who needs it.

“May I (you) be filled with loving kindness.” “May I be well.” “May I be peaceful and at ease.” “May I be happy.”

You’ll find that saying these out loud will put your intentions for the day out in the open.

To end, here are a few more things that make me giddy with delight!  Go out and find your happiness!

*Please note:  All of this pictures were stealthily taken from Pinterest.  I take no credit and if one of these are rightfully yours, I thank you for inspiring happiness in myself and the people that read this blog.  If you have an issue with me using your picture, email me and I will have my daughter send you a hand drawn thank you card.  Cheers!

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Pillow Drool…

I am slumped in bed, still wearing my yoga pants and a t-shirt that a certain someone spit up on.  I’ve arranged all the pillows around me as a sort of throne and as the minutes pass, I find my head slowly but surely drifting down to the billowy depths of comfort and sleep.  “Slacking for the second day??” you ask.  Not really.  I had written a gem of a post about intuition.  In depth, thoughtful and with a hint of humor.  Unfortunately, when I decided to head over to Pandora and my computer asked me if I was sure that I wanted to leave this page, I obviously answered incorrectly.  Apparently, my computer’s intuition knew that I had not saved my post.  So, my tired brain has decided to re-write approximately half of the post and encourage you to read the conclusion tomorrow!  Without further ado, here it goes!

“If You’re Quiet, You’ll Hear It…”

Have you ever spent time with someone and felt completely and utterly exhausted afterwards, like they drained you of your sunshine?  They may have not done anything that you could pinpoint as the culprit, but you felt depleted nonetheless.  Or have you ever had a situation that you just didn’t feel right about?  It might have been someone asking for a favor or a business arrangement and it just didn’t sit right with you.  We’ve all been there, when your first reaction is “no”, but you say yes and end up paying for it somehow.

That little voice is your intuition.  Everyone is built with one, but it’s not too often that we trust it.  We start to believe what others say and what the media pushes and what is considered “right” by society.  We start to become such a follower that the whisper of the real you is buried in the noise.  Doubt nibbles at those fleeting feelings and we second guess and then guess a few more times until it’s all a muddle and you’re blindly pointing at any which way.

I can’t recall a time when I regretted following my intuition.  I have an incredibly vivid memory of following it when I was in first grade.  I have a few from high school and a few more in my adult years.  I also have a mental trash bag full of decisions that I wish I had followed my gut feeling on.  Intuition is invaluable, so start dusting off your sixth sense and get acquainted with it again!

Turns out, scientists are starting to agree that it isn’t so mystical and wacky.  It’s associated with the right side of your brain, which is the side that holds our artistic and creative qualities.  There are a few ways to figure it out, and that’s where my studying benefits you :). So, here’s a few key points to get you started.

*Your body language:  Clammy palms, shallow breathing, or a sick feeling in the pit of your stomach, are all obvious ways that your intuition is trying to get your attention.  Likewise, feelings of peace, joy or elation, are also obvious signs that you’re headed in the right direction.  Need some help with the more subtle hints?  Your intuition always wants what is best for you, so it will only back what is harmless to you and others.  When you make the best decision for yourself, you will feel a relaxed and gentle energy.  Unfortunately, it may not last long if you invite others to critique your path.  You will undoubtedly teeter-totter back and forth from what’s best to what’s right to what’s nice to what’s expected.  Plug your ears tightly and go back to the quiet place inside.  Do you still feel peace in your decision?  Ok, then go back out there and give them hell!  Trust that you know yourself better than anyone else in this entire world.  Don’t let a degree or a white coat or a black American Express card phase you.  Schooling or money or experience can’t touch what you think is best.

*Your Dreams:  When a decision is weighing on you, it tends to come out at the midnight hour (you better be asleep by then!).  Your mind will try to solve problems when you are most relaxed and perceptive.  Keep a journal by your bed and  as soon as you wake up, jot down anything that seemed noteworthy.  Intuition tends to follow a pattern, so you might notice a theme for a few nights in a row.

 

Yes, that is all I have tonight.  What a cliffhanger!!  The second part will answer every single question you have ever had.  That is quite a stretch, but I’ll complete my insights in hopes that something hits home for you.

Healthy hint of the day:  When my mom was young, baby oil was considered safe while sun tanning.  When I was growing up, SPF 50 was considered essential to protect me.  It turns out that neither is quite right.  While a “Magda like” suntan isn’t anything to aspire to, the absence of direct sun exposure is also harmful.  More and more studies are showing that there is a huge Vitamin D deficiency.  Studies are showing that Vitamin D can build bones, strengthen the immune system and lower the risks of illnesses like diabetes heart and kidney disease,high blood pressure and cancer.  Try to spend 15-20 minutes a day in the sun, between 10am and 2 pm.  Make sure to cover up once you’ve had an adequate dose, because a sunburn is still damaging and looks dumb.  Now, go soak up those rays and I will see you back here tomorrow for the conclusion!  And I will see you Thursday for the fabulous and mysterious surprise (spoiler alert:  I am NOT pregnant, so stop sending me texts asking that 🙂

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