Skiing at 50 miles per hour

On March 14th, 2014, posted in: Uncategorized by

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Eva_skiWe downloaded an app to see how fast we were skiing down Challenger at Solitude Mountain. It’s hard to believe I was skiing as fast as I drive on a highway. The wind whistled through my helmut. I wasn’t afraid to lean into it. Despite the speed, I was in control.  So often, we are told to take things slowly. Don’t rush. It’s enthralling to do just the opposite; to cover a long distance in just minutes.

What did I learn from this? It is just like life.  Life speeds by.  One day you are diapering babies and the next day your are going to a college graduations.  We cannot stop life from happening.  But the bottom line is that we don’t want it to pass us by without noticing the experience of it.

I noticed that I barely took a breath at that speed, but I edged into the slope, and took the experience by the horns and ran with it.  Fun!  It’s important to mix fun into your life.  What did you do for fun recently?

 

life’s joysRecently, Facebook made a brilliant move.  Instead of promoting themselves by creating a video about what they do, they created a video promoting their individual users! Facebook users watch the videos created about the people they care about and that inevitably promotes Facebook.  How did they do it? Photos and posts were randomly selected by their popularity in ‘likes’ and comments and put to music. They created a template and mass produced unique videos for each user.

I could have paid some big dough to promote my work in a video, but Facebook did it for me.  MY FACEBOOK VIDEO tells my story and captures how I use Facebook to raise awareness and save lives through education and information while capturing my personal side. Be sure to follow me on Facebook thru Six Step Screening and Eva Grayzel Motivational Speaker Storyteller

My friend’s husband retired just one year ago.They took a bucket-list trip to Israel. Mostly, they were planning for the next stage of their lives, hoping to be grandparents and moving to be near their children. Then, the unexpected happened. While pushing the snowblower up their steep driveway, her husband had a massive heart attack and died.

My friend had some crazed days ahead: planning the funeral, telling family and friends, coping with the shock to her children, and the sudden loneliness in and around her. I offered to cook a meal in between the two viewings for her out-of-town family. Then, as family and friends receded back into their lives, I felt I needed to say more, do more.

What can I say? How do you find words that let her know you acknowledge and feel her pain. I wrote this letter. In between the innumerable phone calls, emails, and business to take care of, she could read this emailed letter in her own time, and the right time for her.
Friends

I thought all night about the emotions you experienced: the moment of terror, followed by hopes unmet, dreams changed, and your life companion/partner/friend/lover, moving to another world, still within feel, but beyond vision. I once read a story about death. It’s like Albert is a boat on the horizon. One moment you see him and then next moment you don’t but he is still there.

Through our friendship, I have learned so much wisdom from you. Last night, I had a big dose of it. I admired the way you found humor through the pain, fond memories through the numbness, poise through the irrational. I’ll never forget how despite the challenges of marriage, you ultimately came to understand and share the value of sticking with it, making it work.

You adapted to the changes that retirement brought, and shared the pros/cons, opening my eyes to the possibilities in the unimaginable!

I’m convinced that I will learn more from you in how to cope with loss with dignity; how to adapt and alter family roles to keep the familial fabric as strong as it was before; how to know when you need to test being alone and when you need to lean on friends; how to continue to grow into the mother and woman are you meant to be.

I wish you many sweet and frequent memories to keep Albert’s spirit alive for you and your boys. As your friend, I vow to remember Albert for you and with you. Albert didn’t get to say goodbye, but he will be trying to reach out to you often to say thanks for the years of love you gave him and he will surely be looking over your safety and happiness. If you keep your heart awake and alive, you will notice his attempts.

With sorrow I write these words but they are laced with the hope that life has many joys in store for you yet to be realized.

Eva

What have you said to friends in a similar position that you can share?

DanceDancing in my kitchen while cooking to my iPod doesn’t come close to how live music rocks my soul and translates into fuller movements. When music is live, it becomes 3D, no… 8D, in that I not only hear a great tune that draws me to my feet as the rhythm vibrates in my soul, but I feel the singers soul in the music, along with the interpretation and energy of the base player, drummer…. The music fills the space, and fills the people in the space with an energy that is catchy!

I read this article about a cancer patient who forced herself to go to a party just to get out despite her worries about how people would treat her since she showed the obvious sings of undergoing cancer treatments. When the live music began, it made the evening worth it!

Discovering Dance

On January 21st, 2014, posted in: Making Life Meaningful by

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JaniceOn our cruise, I walked by a woman at the outdoor cafe eating breakfast. She was in her 60’s with a funky black hairstyle, a bright pink workout bra under a black workout top and black sleek leggings….I noticed her feet covered with professional jazz shoes. As I passed, she asked me, ‘Are you the dancer?’

I love that she noticed me ripping up the dance floor around the ships dancing venues. ‘That would be me,’ I answered.

‘I was too far away to see your face,’ she admitted, ‘but I saw your great moves and recognize your silver hair.’ There is no hiding the silver!

I replied, ‘I see you have jazz shoes on. Are you a dancer, too?’ The story she proceeded to tell me warranted a blog post:

“At 65, I discovered dancing. I joined a Zumba class with a close friend and I learned that I had rhythm! When my Mom passed on, just a couple of months after joining the class my friend told me My mom who was a tap dancer lived on in me. I never made that connection and now wanted to dance more than ever to hang onto the memory of my mother. I found a local dance group organized by a woman in her 80’s, and we dance for assisted living and nursing home facilities. Last year, our group, the Energizers of Louisville, got a request to open some acts in Branson Mossouri. Our dance troupe of women ranging in age from 60-90, hired a bus and made the trip…an experience that confirmed I would be dancing for the rest of my life.”

After talking for a while, we realized the two degrees of separation. I told her about my work as a speaker and storyteller. She told me she did some breast cancer programs in high schools for Hadassah. Then, of course, I knew she was M.O.B (Member Of the Tribe) and I told her I performed in her town at the synagogue and Susan Caller hosted me. Well, she belonged to the ‘other’ place in town, but she knew Susan.

Janice Newman was her name. She dresses in her dance shoes and work out clothes on the cruise ship because she jumps at the opportunity to dance. Gotta love it! I can’t imagine anything that would make me happier when I’m 80, than to organize a dance group like the one Janice joined.

Hairless Arms after treatmentI was looking for an agent in NYC. One told me they wouldn’t consider representing me unless I removed the hair from my arms which was distracting, especially under professional lighting. I tolerated the stench of creme hair removals. I tried shaving often so my boyfriends wouldn’t cut themselves on my arm hair. I screamed with every pull of the wax treatment enduring the red swollen skin for a couple of days until within a couple of weeks the growth returned. Then, I moved onto electrolysis but it took forever to do just a little patch, not to mention the zap of pain and smell of burning hair. Finally, I invested in laser hair removal. After 8 treatments, the hair never returned. I wish I did it so much sooner! It was worth every penny for the many years I’ve enjoyed hairless arms and legs while saving the time of shaving every day in the shower (not to mention the water waste).

I read an article today about laser hair removal gone awry. To prevent the same from happening to you, research the protocol for laser hair removal, find a reliable and well-trained provider, and check some referrals. Don’t let this article stop you from boosting the self-esteem of a woman whose hair affects the way people see her. Take it from me.

A Tiny Token of Appreciation

On December 3rd, 2013, posted in: Uncategorized by

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The airport employee holding the two red flashlights directed our plane to the runway. I smiled and waved from my lit window to say thanks. He waved back with his flashlight. I’ll bet he smiled, but it was too dark for me to see him. A little gesture went a long way for us both.

I am touched by the sensitivity of this doctor. Here as an article with pearls of wisdom.

WELL

Sep 13, 2012, 12:01 AM
The Widow’s Doctor Visit
By MIKKAEL A. SEKERES, M.D.

I walked into the examination room and saw her sitting there, her arm around her 10-year-old son, her teenage daughter across the room.

“Hey, guys!” I greeted them, probably too loudly. I sat down and asked the children about school and their friends, until we circled around to talking about their father.

“We wanted to come to get some closure,” their mother said. “I talked it over with the kids, and we all decided this would be a good thing to do.”

Like most of these calls, this one came a few months after my patient had died. So far they have all come from women, almost always a wife.

A former wife, now a widow.

I specialize in treating leukemia, and entered my profession fully aware of the grim statistics: Approximately 7 out of 10 people I meet will die from complications of their disease. I always send a card to the family after a patient dies, reflecting on how that person made so many lives better, including my own. I offer any help I could possibly provide, which sounds anemic, I know, because the help I gave in the past clearly wasn’t enough.

This patient’s widow had arranged the meeting for a Friday morning in early April, when her children could also be there. She was in her 40s, and she had always come to earlier appointments with her husband prepared, with questions and medications organized. I could tell they were close, the way they sat holding hands whenever I met with them. His leukemia, which was particularly aggressive, shrugged off the best of our chemotherapy, and he died two days before Christmas.

At these visits, the agenda varies. Often widows come asking, “What if?” What if the leukemia had been diagnosed earlier? What if the infection had been treated faster? These questions are not accusatory but stem from what, I assume, is a need to revisit earlier events, in the desperate hope of changing the outcome.

The question they really want to ask is, “What more could I have done to prevent this?”

I try to reassure and support them. One patient, a minister, commented that my job was “pastoral.” I tell these women that they did everything humanly possible, that their husbands were lucky to have such supportive wives.

And most importantly, I try to offer them forgiveness.

I addressed the children, asking them if they felt all right coming here, if maybe they had also kind of dreaded it. We talked about what a terrible disease their father had, and how, despite all the medicines we tried, it still proved even more awful than we thought. I told them how proud their father was of both of them.

The boy’s eyes began to water, and he grabbed a tissue box. “Allergies,” he said, blowing his nose. “They’re really bad this year.”

I looked down and noticed his shoes. “You know, you’re wearing the same Sperry Top-Siders as your dad. You must be a fancy dresser like him!”

“He got his sense of style from his father, for sure!” his mother said. Her son gave us a half smile.

I asked them what they had told their friends about their father. The daughter answered, describing in highly technical terms her father’s diagnosis and therapies, and eventually his demise.

“Wow! You sound like you’re ready to be a doctor,” I said. “When can you start work?”

“Actually, she is thinking of becoming a doctor,” her mother said. The girl beamed.

“I’m just going to say this, in case you both were wondering,” I started. “It’s O.K. to be relieved that your dad has died, meaning that you don’t have to worry about him being sick, and hear about his leukemia at the dinner table every night. It doesn’t mean you don’t love him to be a little bit glad that his medical problems aren’t the focus of your lives anymore.”

The daughter nodded vigorously. Her brother quietly sobbed. His mother rubbed his back and pulled him closer.

“Their father wanted us to go on a trip to the Florida Keys, but we couldn’t get away when he was sick, so the kids and I went over spring break,” she said. “To honor him.”

Her daughter piped up: “The day we got there, I lay in a hammock by the water, and I looked down and saw this empty glass bottle with a cork in it.”

“A bottle with a cork,” her mother echoed. “Can you believe it?”

“We wrote a letter to my dad,” the girl went on. “And put it into the bottle and threw it in the water.”

“And then what happened?” the woman asked, looking at her son.

“It came back,” he answered, smiling. “We threw it in, and the water brought it back.”

“Your dad wasn’t letting you off that easy, was he?” I asked.

“That’s exactly right!” their mother almost shouted. The children laughed this time.

“We had to throw it back in. And this time it stayed,” the boy said. “It stayed.”

The room grew quiet as we thought about the way the water had embraced the bottle, as if accepting the words they had written to their father.

As we stood up to hug one another goodbye, I tried to figure out what had just happened. I felt as if a weight had been lifted from my own shoulders. When one of my patients dies, I ask myself a thousand times over what I could have done better. I hope that makes me a better doctor for my next patient. I suddenly realized that I had been deeply worried about this patient’s family, that maybe they felt I hadn’t done enough for him.

I guess I needed to be forgiven just as much as they did.

Dr. Mikkael Sekeres is director of the leukemia program at the Cleveland Clinic.

We All Have a Story

On November 25th, 2013, posted in: Storytelling by

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Everyone has a story. I sat next to Carol on the airplane. I told her my story and she told me hers. Her sister died at age 56 from FTD, Frontal Temple Dementia. She lived alone, was religious, and did well for herself. The sisters used to travel together, both being single. But, then Carol became her sister’s caregiver. She had to make decisions for her which weren’t easy, like letting her receive a pacemaker even though her brain would continue to shut down her nervous system. She got a pacemaker. Eventually, she had to move into assisted living. Carol put her in a very nice place, and got her round the clock care so she was never alone. After all, her money should be used to care for her in the best way possible. She would hallucinate, but every once in a while the real sister would say something like, why is this happening to me? Her sister was a writer and wrote all the time until she could no longer. Her manuscripts are in Carol’s possession. She has started to read them voraciously to keep her sister’s memory alive. A single tear fell as she told me how it took her a long time to even talk about her sister because it was too difficult. I’m guessing I was one of the first strangers she told. Always easier to tell a stranger something personal. She did well at holding back the stream of tears with some deep breaths. I told her that her sister knows she is being remembered and that she is sending the love right back down.

“Are you an oral cancer survivor?” I asked the man sitting next to me in a first class seat from Detroit to Seattle. He clearly had an indentation in his neck in addition to scarring. He answered, “Close, but no, I had Lymphoma”.

airplaneHe teaches Dance Dynamics around the world. What’s that? Understanding where movement begins in the body. Where is that? I guessed the heart. Then, the brain.He shook his head. Then I asked if he thought I could guess it. He said, “Probably not. It’s the sacrum.” He explained it’s the only body part which is absolutely necessary to dance.

I shared my cancer story and asked him his. For years, he regularly got a swollen lymph node in his neck and his doctor would prescribe antibiotics. It would go away. One day while working with a student, he got kicked on the side of his face. After that, the lymph node did not go away and the diagnosis was close behind. He had a maximum dose of radiation, no chemo and given a 20% chance of surviving two years. That was 30 years ago. I admitted I was given a 15% chance of surviving 5 years. We high-fived.

During radiation, his earlobe began to itch. He scratched and his earlobe fell off in his fingers. I checked the size of his other lobe and it was significantly larger. In the beginning, he had 60% numbness on the side of his face and neck. Now he is at 30%. He will never forget the smell of burning flesh in the radiation suite.

Barry dances and teaches dance all over the world. The next time I am in Detroit, he promised to give me a dance. I told him if he dips me, he has to hold my head since I can’t hold it up myself with only one neck muscle. He informed me that it’s dancing etiquette to hold a woman’s head and he would have it no other way. At the end of every Dance Dynamic lecture, he inspires dancers with his perspective on life. Despite neuropathy and pain, he is coined the ‘Dancing Yodo’