Tag Archive | Hope

FINDING HUMOR WHEN FACING CANCER

“From there to here, and here to there, funny things are everywhere.”

                             ~ Dr. Seuss

Everything has the potential to be funny. Even cancer. You may remember Gilda Radner and her book, It’s Always Something. Gilda was great at finding the funny.

When facing cancer – or any illness or life challenge – it helps a lot to tap into our inner strength, to hold hope, and to find the funny. Reba McEntire said it well:

“To succeed in life, you need three things: a wishbone, a backbone and a funny bone.”

When I shared the news of my breast cancer diagnosis with you last May, I wrote seriously, with backbone strength and wishbone hope about the healing power of love.

I’d like to give my funny bone a try today. With joy, here’s my story continued:

So, with relative grace and ease I had a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery.

During the weeks leading up to surgery, I joked a bit about the silver lining. You know me, always looking for uplifts – uplifting thoughts, uplifting feelings. Without having to pay for elective surgery, I was going to end up with a body “uplift!”

Yes, focusing on the positive, I looked forward to having a younger-looking, more perky chest. And I got it. There were other benefits. I could wear tank tops and skinny-strap sundresses without a bra.

Well, one day about a month ago, I noticed that the left side was way perkier on the top than the right. A closer look showed that the “natural slope” of the implant on the left was upside down. Somehow, it had spun around.

When I learned that happens sometimes if the cavity is a bit large for the implant used, I figured, kind of like “what goes up must come down” that “what spun could spin again.” And maybe I could help it.

So that’s what I did. Or tried. And I did get it to turn. But it got stuck half way. So then I had a whole new look, with the “natural slope” going sideways!

The good news is that, somehow during sleep, the implant found its way into proper positioning.

The bad news is that, after swimming, it had spun again into the upside-down position.

But more good news! If I swam some more, it could spin some more.

So now, when I’m done swimming, I check to see…

Even perkiness? Yes? I grab my towel.
​​​​​​​No? Back in for another lap or two or whatever it takes.

Hey, I just might get in better shape!

You know the song, “I Hope You Dance”?
I hope you do. And laugh, too!
Today and every day.

With hope, love, and laughter,
Charlene

PS – I’ve posted a picture of the younger me, when everything was perkier!

A PERSPECTIVE ON HOPE

 

 

 


“This place where you are right now, God circled on a map for you.”
                                ~ Hafiz the Poet

 
I love this quote.  One reason is that I love maps. Maps of all kinds, including funny treasure maps.

But mostly it is because this quote reminds me to trust that there are blessings available in every circumstance, every challenge, every opportunity, every loss, every gain, every moment.

Whenever we think we are off course – perhaps lost  – and feeling fearful, the loving message of this quote can help us shift into a hope-filled perspective.

To illustrate how, I’d like to welcome a guest blogger today. Jesse Gros is a fellow classmate and alum from the University of Santa Monica where we both studied spiritual psychology.

Here is Jesse’s example:

WHY I (ALMOST) NEVER GET STRESSED OUT…

When I was a college senior, I came back from my study abroad trip with Hep A. I picked it up in Morocco eating street food. Or maybe it was from sharing lunch with the homeless guys under the bridge by my house in Sevilla. Who knows for sure.

My doctor back in the US told me it would take me a couple years to fully recover. He also said that if I allowed myself to get stressed, it could trigger a relapse that could severely damage my liver.

So, at 21 years old, I made not-getting-stressed my number one priority. I was scared that even one pre-midterm, mini freak out could send me back to the hospital. During the following year, I learned to change my thoughts, breathe, meditate, and drink lots of “calming” tea. I learned to treat stress, not as something to learn to tolerate or adapt to, but to avoid at all costs…

What a gift it was to be told, “Stress will kill you.” Which we know is true on a long enough timeline…

Thank you for sharing this experience, Jesse.

We can readily see how a serious threat to his life at a young age affected the rest of Jesse’s life in a positive way.

Jesse’s story reminds me to take stress more seriously in my own life. While stress may not be as extreme a danger for most of us as it was for Jesse, it is a threat to all of us. Stress does kill! It weakens our immune system, for one thing.

Jesse’s example deepens my commitment to stay in balance, to nurture well-being, to meditate daily, to be at peace, to forgive, to love, and to laugh…often.

Consider holding this quote as a touchstone, especially when faced with a situation that seems frightening.

Imagine a map of your life journey. Step by step you are circled, watched. Not with criticism. Not with judgment. But with unconditional love and guidance.

May we believe in every moment there are opportunities for healings, learnings, awakenings, and advances that will benefit us for the rest of our lives and will help others too.

 

Jesse Gros is a life coach, adventurer, philanthropist and owner of Insight Adventures. He is also the author of Your Wild and Precious Life: Adventures in Conscious Creation

 

 

 

APPLYING THE HEALING POWER OF LOVE TO BREAST CANCER

Love And Tenderness Of Cats

 

“Love one another and help others to rise to the higher levels, simply by pouring out love. Love is infectious and the greatest healing energy.”
~
Sai Baba

 

 

Love and healing are primary themes in my life now. They have been for many months, actually years. Whenever I see messages of fear and hate in the news – when I see reports of violence – what comes to the forefront for me are thoughts and quotes like “Love heals” from The Buddha.  

I’m focused on the healing power of love in a very personal way now too. And I wish to share the reason.

A few weeks ago I was diagnosed with cancer in both breasts. Fortunately the tumors are small and treatable.

Along with embracing traditional medicine, I am using many complementary approaches to balance, heal, renew, and strengthen my whole body. In part, that means loving and caring for every little cell, every organ, and every body system as well as looking deeper for what else is calling for healing in me now.

Along with good nutrition (the photo here is of me about to drink a double shot of wheat grass), positive visualization, prayer, meditation, etc., wheatgrass shot
I am bringing the powers of courage, faith, hope, joy
– all of life’s gifts, God’s gifts – to this new adventure.

For it is that too. An adventure. A challenge, yes. But also an adventure. An opportunity to explore and to heal deeply on all levels – physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. To learn and grow too.

While I won’t be focusing on this personal healing adventure in many blogs, I will share a bit from time to time here and in Today’s Touchstone reflections.  I’ll offer insights and discoveries that I think you may wish to consider…things that may apply to anyone and everyone’s life journey.

I hope you will enjoy such sharings and benefit from them in some way. I would appreciate hearing if you do or do not. I always welcome your feedback.

In the meantime, I appreciate your caring and pouring out love to yourselves, to me, to one another, to all your beloveds  and to your-not-so-beloveds too.  May we all aim to heal all our wounds.

Thank you.

Kindly,
Charlene

HOPE FOR ALL AGES AND STAGES OF LIFE

 A week ago, Suffield High School Principal Donna Hayward in Suffield, Connecticut delivered a commencement address that was inspired by The Twelve Gifts of Birth.  I’m sharing it here because I believe Ms. Hayward’s message of hope and courage is for all of us. Thank you, Donna, for permission to post your speech along with your photo. I hope to meet you someday, new friend!  And thank you, dear reader. As always, I would love to hear your comments.  

Donna HaywardClass of 2014, you are just minutes from receiving your high school diploma. Your parents are wondering how you got here so fast, as it seems such a short time ago that you were born. Just a few years ago, you took your first steps, spoke your first words, got on the school bus kindergarten bound, learned to ride a bike. This is a natural time for your parents to reflect on the last 18 or so years and for us, your teachers, to reflect on whatever role we have played in your upbringing. As it turns out, teaching and parenting are closely related.

When my daughter was born, we received the usual tidal wave of gifts – blankets, cute little outfits, and baby gear of all kinds. One gift, in particular, though stood out as it arrived without a note or tag from the sender to indicate who had given it. One day, it simply arrived in my mailbox – its message clear – but to this day I don’t know who sent it. It was a book entitled, The Twelve Gifts of Birth, by Charlene Costanzo and it details the gifts or qualities bestowed upon each of you upon your birth as a human. “Royal dignity was yours from the day you were born,” the book begins – and on that day and on a day such as this all parents and teachers hope their children know these gifts. My role today is to remind you that you do all have them and to implore you to use them consciously and with purpose from this day forward.

The first gift is Hope and each of you were born with it. Continue reading

A TREE GROWS IN SEDONA: A TOUCHSTONE FOR STRENGTH AND HOPE

Joanne's TreeMy friend Joanne greatly appreciated the tree that stood in front of her townhouse.

 

One day Joanne noticed small dark spots on nearly all the leaves. Close inspection revealed that millions of tiny bugs had invaded her arboreal friend. She immediately called the homeowners’ association to report the problem and asked that the tree be treated.

 

Joanne was horrified when, a few days later, she came home to find the tree being chopped down. In fact, by the time she arrived, it was nearly gone, felled to the ground.

 

She regretted reporting the problem. “I should have sprayed it, tried some things myself, taken some other approach,” she repeated to herself and to all who would listen.

 

Day after day, Joanne mourned her missing tree. Where there had been beauty and vibrant life, there was now a barrenness in front of her home – no singing birds, no swaying branches, no soothing shade, no musical rustling of leaves – just a circle of stones, like a grave marker, around where the tree had stood.

 

Many months later, a shoot appeared from within that circle of empty red earth Continue reading

HOLD HOPE

Single leaf in a bird bath.

 

 


“At least one person has achieved a cure from every type of cancer.”

I heard that during my first visit to the Wellness Center in Phoenix, shortly after I had been diagnosed with stage 4 lymphoma and told, “There is no cure.”

No matter what dis-ease we face,
in our physical health
or any area of live, healing is always possible.

Have hope.

Through each passage and season may we trust in the goodness of life.

WHEN SOMEONE DIES: THE BEAUTY IN DEATH

Adult holding baby's hand

Beauty? Yes. Along with deep pain and confusion, it seems to me there is awesome beauty present every time someone passes from life as we know it.

 

This is inspired by, and dedicated to, a young man named Shawn. He died in a car accident a few days ago. Tragic? Yes. Especially since he left two young sons. He will be missed by many, especially two little boys.

 

 

Shawn is not a family member of mine; he was not a close friend. I knew him more than twenty-five years ago when he himself was a little boy and lived down the street from us in Jamestown, New York. He was a school mate of my two daughters.

 

 

And yet I am deeply and directly touched today, all these years later, by Shawn and by his passing. I am seeing today how the news of Shawn’s death has shaken hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people.  Many ask, Why?! We don’t know the answer.

 

 

I like to think, to believe, that Shawn is now in a “place” where everything makes sense, where he sees how all the puzzling pieces fit together and he has compassion for all of us still struggling to understand. I do hope he is experiencing peace and joy and I am praying for his family. Words fail to address what I imagine is howling hurt for them.

 

 

The beauty I see is how, for a moment, or a few minutes, or several hours, or maybe days, life becomes precious for so many of us. We remember that our time here is limited. During the time of raw shock and hurt, masks are removed, armor is lifted, and we allow ourselves to be more vulnerable. More real.

 

 

Yes, it hurts. And yet somehow we see better. We see that life is precious.

 

 

Yes, hearts are broken and yet opened too. And there is so much love and light and reverence and compassion pouring out.

 

 

I get the sense that Shawn is smiling as he sees so much caring and kindness among so many people now. I imagine him saying, “Yes! Yes, everyone. That is what it’s all about! Love yourself! Love one another. Love life!”

 

 

I hear you, Shawn. Thank you. Bless you. Bless your family, your dear children. May they be gently carried and cradled now by Love Itself.

 

Life is precious.

 

 

Why can’t we live with this awareness all the time? At least in more of our time here?

 

 

What if, every morning, we say to ourselves, “This could be my last day here. This could be the last day of life for one of my loved ones?”  Without becoming morbid or fearful, how might we remind ourselves, every day, that life is precious? How do we choose to live well each day, with gratitude, compassion, and reverence for all life?

A PRAYER FROM AMERICA


A PRAYER FROM AMERICA

Peace to All People on Earth: A Prayer from America
by Charlene Costanzo


God bless me,
my family
and all families.

And peace to all people on Earth.

Bless my friends
And everyone’s friends.

And peace to all people on Earth.

Bless the creatures
who swim and fly,
creep, crawl, and climb,
hop, run, and roam.

Bless all our homes.

And peace to all people on Earth.

Bless all fruits and flowers,
grains and greens,
oceans and rivers,
lakes and streams,
every rock and stone,
every grain of sand,
every speck of soil on every land.

Bless America.

Bless all countries.

Bless the sun, the moon,
all the planets and stars.

And peace to all people on Earth
(c)Charlene Costanzo 2009 ALL RIGHTS


Martin Luther King Jr. Quote

 

A MESSAGE SENT TODAY VIA THE “INNERNET”

A MESSAGE SENT TODAY VIA THE “INNERNET”

During the past week, I came across several references to the “Innernet.”
This clever and evocative name is already being used by individuals and businesses in a host of ways. A quick Google search offers over 650,000 results.

But imagine an Innernet… the Innernet… as real and relevant as the Internet, perhaps even more so, because absolutely everyone on the planet is on it. Imagine a wondrous energy web in which we are all connected, sending and receiving messages 24/7.

I wondered: How we might use this Innernet to spread hope on the planet? That question triggered a memory that I’d like to share with you now.

It was a typical summer day in Sedona, Arizona. The cloudless blue sky provided a perfect back drop for the area’s amazing rock formations. While waiting for the stop light to change from red to green at the intersection of 179 and 89A–where there is now a roundabout –I watched a young woman clothed in a long-white robe cross the street in front of my car. Only when she reached the other side and stepped on to the sidewalk did I notice her feet. They were bare! The air temperature outside my car was nearly 100. Imagine the heat of the black asphalt!

When the signal changed, I u-turned and pulled into a strip mall driveway so that I could encounter the young woman. I rolled down my window and offered her money for shoes. “I cannot accept money,” she said.

I offered her my sandals.

“Thank you. But, I cannot accept shoes either. Being shoeless is voluntary for me. It’s a kind of prayer,” she said. The young woman went on to explain that being shoeless was part of loving service she was doing for humankind. Beaming with joy, she offered to chant a blessing for me, which I accepted.

On that day, in that way, she sent a Therevada Buddhist Blessing out on the Innernet.
Today, in this way, I am sending a similar one from The Twelve Gifts for Healing:

May you allow fear to soften and melt away.

May you release all regrets and resentments.

May you see the world with wonder.

And may you imagine only good things.

May hope rise within you.

May peace wash over you.

May you hear the voice of wisdom.

Listening, may you act with trust.

May your heart open.

May joy emerge.

May love flow through you.

May you heal and help others.

What if, just once each day, we each simply whisper “Hope”
and we send that out on the Innernet?