ONWARD and UPWARD: The Will To Live A Balanced Life!
Childhood: My childhood years into early adulthood were somewhat difficult. Accepting a compliment graciously and moving on was as challenging as the Greatest Ninja Warrior competition (as seen on TV). Asking for either salt or pepper at a friend’s dinner table was a task to be reckoned with quietly, fists clenched, and filled with anxiety. Will they think I’m annoying? Will they think I have my hand out asking for too much? My Balance was off, my Self was lost, and Negative outside influences had a huge impact on my life—as I was consciously unaware.
I found Balance years ago after my non-Hodgkins lymphoblastic lymphoma (cancer) diagnosis in the early 90’s at 25 years old and immediately began living in the “Now” – the *present*. I call it “Living In The Zone” (coined by Marianne Muldoon), a fabulous place for the mind, body and spirit to be. Nevertheless, over the years, there have been circumstances whereby time would take precedence over all else and my Balance would get thrown off. The mindset of regrets from the past and concern for the future resumed leaving the present almost non-existent. This usually occurred when something unexpected happened causing a gut-wrenching, “You gotta be kidding me!” Finally, being more in-tuned and aware of when the time-shift was taking place, bringing myself Present has become much more simplistic. It’s all in the “Awareness.”
Mother’s Day 2012: It was fantastic celebrating with my Husband, Children, Mom and Dad, Sisters, Brother in-law, Nieces, Nephew, Aunt, Uncle, and Cousins 1st & 2nd generation at my cousin Janice’s home this Mother’s Day. So much to be thankful for! Yet, once again, I was living in the “time” frame-of-mind. I found myself exhausted as I was leaving her home because I spent the day continuously thinking about an early morning commitment I had the following day. Thoughts of oversleeping, getting lost, and/or doing anything that might interfere with the positive outcome of this incredible commitment was consuming.
This “commitment” turned out to be a new Awakening and one of the GREATEST EXPERIENCES OF MY LIFE! I met so many strong (in every sense of the word), amazing, caring, and generous people. It was a Hollywood style photo-shoot in a gorgeous mansion hosted by one of the most gracious couples I’ve ever met—surrounded by extremely positive, upbeat, and incredibly generous energy. When I tell you it took every childhood fantasy I had of being the princess in a castle and blew those fantasies out of the water… that’s how extraordinary the experience was! So why did I waste so much mind-racing time prior to the event causing unnecessary fatigue the night before? I needed the reminder to stay “STILL”… stay in the present knowing all else is meant to be and accepted.
The day after Mother’s Day my Balance was strengthened once more. It was a slap to the forehead moment. Prior to the Mother of all Days, Mother’s Day, I was stressing out about all of my upcoming events, functions, chores, deadlines and obligations—trying to make sure everything was prepared or completed. Crunch-time! Intellectually I knew how to keep my stress under control, deep breathing and all; however, the intellect doesn’t tap into the intimate/emotional/psychological part of oneself. The intellect only knows the consciousness… and claims VICTORY over all the aforementioned, if allowed. The continued epiphany for me was to be STILL in every way possible, releasing the negative self-talk from my mind, releasing time itself, and replacing it with affirmations, counting my blessings, and getting back to living in the moment. This is what restores balance. It’s a peaceful way to live… to be alive, responsibly and unapologetically accepting the here and now.
This includes perception of the valley—accepting the darkness and doing what’s needed to find the light to reach the perceived peak. My diagnosis of the rare pediatric form of cancer called non-Hodgkins lymphoblastic lymphoma is a good example of this. I experienced the darkness of the diagnosis, did what was needed in the form of treatment to find light which brought me to the peak—being cured. For most of us, we’re never “always” in the valley, just as we’re never “always” at the peak. Existing peacefully wherever we are, based on our insight, foresight, and acceptance—balance—is reality. Spending time regretting circumstances from the past and/or worrying about the future is living in an altered reality…and not a very fulfilling one. The worry, fear, anxiousness and anger never did anything constructive to help my negative situations; if anything they made them worse. Time wasted.
Each tragedy I’ve experienced has brought me to greater heights. Without them I believe I wouldn’t appreciate all that I have—mostly my husband, Ronnie; three children, Brendan Danny and Maggie; our health; faith in God and each other; family; friends; even a stranger in passing who takes a moment to glance over and smile; and our home – which is way more than just our house, it’s our home. I’m extremely grateful.
Some of my favorite authors such as Jon Kabot Zinn, PhD, and Eckhart Tolle have taught me that one’s true nature, experiencing the “here and now,” offers freedom and enlightenment. Negative self-talk such as: ‘never’ (sometimes ‘always’), ‘can’t’, ‘don’t’, ‘won’t’, ‘should/shouldn’t’… induces fear, stress and guilt, draining ones soul. Replacing such verbiage with affirmatives such as ‘Can’, ‘Do’, ‘Will’ ‘Love’ ‘Peace’ and ‘Joy’ feeds the Soul. Our Soul will then begin to grow brighter and stronger—allowing us to experience our fabulous “Self” to the fullest. Each time I experience the off-balance phenomenon and reclaim my Self, my feeling centered mentally, physically and spiritually seems to continue to grow deeper—Learning and Growing (aka Onward and Upward – this is how the brand came to be). Now that’s a balanced life!
Onward and Upward’s Note to Share for May; and thank you to Judy for sending it to me!:
Hi Erin, This is something I want to share with you because like you, I want to make a difference in this world… to help make it a better place for all of us, especially our children. I would practice yoga inconsistently, joining again and again, going here and there. Then a hot yoga studio opened in our neighborhood, Smithtown, NY. I received an email from them looking for yoga students for their work study program. I figured I would try it. The work study is when you work at the studio in exchange for an unlimited membership. I began practicing every day, and that’s when my life changed!
I had a bag I made a few years ago and used it as my yoga bag. Not thinking about making and selling them, one of the students stopped me to find out where I got the bag because she was looking for something like it to carry her yoga mat. That’s when I created a tote bag for her mat and she loved it. I was inspired to make more and sell them. I combined my passion for knitting, crocheting and yoga to create one of a kind totes and bags. I put a little of myself into each bag. Then my passion expanded and I created a special kind of candle – a wishing candle. People make a wish, light the candle and connect with the light. I make everything with 100% love and want to share my joy and happiness with people thru my craft. My bags are made with yarn and cotton. When I can I use recycled and re-purposed material. I make the candles with US grown soy wax and I use recycled glass when I can. My products are available on etsy. The address is www.sassyyoga.etsy.com.
Namaste, Judy Croce
Onward Productions – Announcements:
Many thanks to Joanne Hutchins, Laura Hartman and Danielle Hamill for organizing the most incredible Hollywood style photo-shoot on May 14th for us 12 Moms being featured in the “2013 Moms Who Kick Calendar.” Maria and Vinny Polsinelli were exceptionally gracious hosts and the team from Bocu Salon & Spa located in Commack, NY did a spectacular job with our hair, makeup, and so much more, in the Polsinelli home. The wardrobe was extraordinary…as was the photography team and every moment of the day! Please visit www.ErinLey.com (on the right side of the site) to see more about this fantastic non-profit cancer organization; and, if you’d like, please print out the form for donation/sponsorship prior to June 15th to be included in the calendar. The mailing address is located on the form.
Many thanks to my guest, Walter Townes, for joining us on this month’s Onward And Upward radio program, “The Power Within”. Walter is the author of the phenomenal book, Comin’ Home and joined us Thursday, May 10, 2012, from 1:00pm-2:00pm ET at www.BlogTalkRadio.com/ErinLey. Please visit the site and take a moment to listen to the archive; and, check out Walter’s website, www.CominHomethenovel.com, to see the amazing work he does illustrating how each of us can aspire to greatness, giving back, paying it forward—and with a healthy sense of sportsmanship.
Many thanks to the students, faculty and families, along with my wonderful colleagues from the Long Island Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s group, for the Author/Illustrator Nights at: 1) Smithtown Elementary School in Smithtown, NY on May 3rd; and 2) Eugene Auer in Lake Grove, NY on May 4th. Thank you Candace Tettamanti and Donna Mazovec for organizing the events, the invitations and your gracious hospitality.
As we move ONWARD throughout the rest of this school year and plan for 2012-2013: For any Long Island (NY) based elementary school, public and/or private; library; Boy and/or Girl Scout Troop; events of any kind can contact me any time at www.ErinLey.com or www.MaggieTheMagnificent.com when looking to provide a character-building presentation. I’ve incorporated food allergy awareness into my presentations not only because two of my three young children have life threatening peanut, tree nut and pitted fruit allergies; the number of food allergies in both adults and children have grown exponentially. Funding for these visits are provided by a number of sources including, but not limited to, the PTA/PTO; and, both Nassau & Suffolk BOCES—I am registered with both.
For schools, hospitals, non-profits, businesses—large or small looking for a motivational/keynote speaker who survived cancer, and so much more, and recognizes *where there’s a WILL there’s a way* to help improve the quality of your environment, or to instruct you on how to help others improve the quality of their environment—school, work, hospital, or home, feel free to contact me anytime. I provide individual cancer coaching sessions over the phone for cancer patients across the country as well. www.ErinLey.com
Live ONWARD with great character and a smile!
Tags: "Cancer survivor", "Erin Ley", Balance, Cancer, Character-Building, Eckhart Tolle, inspirational, Jon Kabot Zinn, Judy Croce, lymphoblastic lymphoma, lymphoma, Moms Who Kick, Mother’s Day, Motivational, non-Hodgkins lymphoma, Onward Productions, Present, sense of Self, the Soul, Time, Walter Townes