Tag Archives: Children’s Book

C4YW Final Thoughts

This blog appeared on the Living Beyond Breast Cancer site today.

 

As with most things, the anxiety around something new never quite plays out and the unexpected benefits delight.  Such was my experience at C4YW this year in Orlando.  Unequivocally, it was a great conference for me to attend.

Why?

These young women were brave.  Honest.  Open.   Grateful.  Healing.  I met women smack in the middle of treatment, who had climbed aboard a plane to come to Orlando, because this conference was that important to them.  They wanted to be surrounded by other young women who understood, and learn about issues that affect them specifically.

They let me into their lives, these women, sharing their stories, the names of their children (sometimes with halting voices and tears), and their worries.  As someone just starting out selling my book, this was as real as it gets.

I was able to press 45 books into the hands of women with children at home, nurses who treat those women, and representatives of cancer support groups and national (and international) organizations who make it their business and passion to help these women.

Being an exhibitor on your own is a vigorous experience. For a total of 19 hours over 3 days, I stood up and talked to those who came by and expressed interest in my book. Gravity takes hold, and my toes, after being embraced by stylish yet slightly unforgiving footwear, swelled like ballpark franks. The second morning, instead of manning my table at an unforgivable 7:30 am until 6 pm (that’s 4:30 am for us west coast bodies!), I opted instead to get some fresh air and a run outside and slide in at 9 am.

I had hoped to go see a few of the speakers. But I learned that an exhibitor is not necessarily a participant, unless you sign up to be a participant.  Now I know.   And second, the exhibit hall, open during almost all the hours of the conference, never really quieted down.  When most participants were in sessions, there were always a few others wandering in there, and that was also the best time to talk with other exhibitors.  As business is about making contacts, this was a priceless opportunity to either meet face-to-face some of the people I’ve been emailing or talking to on the phone, or introduce myself to new organizations.  When things got slow, I introduced myself, handed over a book, and encouraged them to read my work at their leisure.

I was struck by how many of us there on the exhibit side had a cancer diagnosis behind us.  To wit:  Josh at Lymphedivas, whose sister started the company because she couldn’t stand the ugly compression sleeves offered to her.  Danielle and Angelle started Chemo Beanies because these two sisters couldn’t find something stylish and comfortable to wear when they lost their hair. Susan from the BeauBeau started a company to offer fashionable turbans to women with medical hair loss.  Although she came from  a family of women diagnosed with breast cancer, a diagnosis of Alopecia Areata motivated her. Countless non-profit organizations have been started to offer support and advice, from KC at Families Who Support Breast Cancer Survivors to Sarah at Project3One to a metastatic disease group represented by a mom and her young daughter.  Next door to me  Susan mixed personal experience with love and tenderness as she fitted women with a very beautiful (and sexy) double-arm compression garment she found manufactured in Italy.  When I introduced myself to the three ladies at the Anita booth behind me, helping fit beautiful bras and swimsuits for women who have had a mastectomy surgery, I learned that Twila was a 19-year survivor, Merri was closing in on 10 years, and Colleen, diagnosed more recently, was 7 months out.

If any participant wanted to see “life after cancer” in full, glorious view, she had to look no further than the exhibit hall and at the other participants. It pains me that there are so many young women who need a breast cancer related conference, but  there is comfort in  knowing that by offering targeted programming in a supportive environment, people will gratefully gather to see that they are not alone.

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Free to Be, You and Me

Tonight was a game changer.  I sat in a room of strangers (except for Nancy) and told them my story.  Then I handed everyone a book, and we read it together.   I’m honestly too fried right now to write coherently or compellingly, but I just have to say that it was very moving for me, and it seems for everyone else as well.  On one side of me a 6-year survivor of stage 4 ovarian cancer, on the other a woman 3 months out of surgery and bald and beautiful.   A pre-school teacher was so effusive in her compliments that she almost made me cry.  I sold a handful of books, touched a number of people, and realized that tonight just might be the first night of a whole new career.  At dinner afterwards (Chinese, obviously), Hans overheard the music playing in the restaurant.  It was as perfect as my fortune.

“And you and me are free to be, you and me.”

To charting one’s own course.

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Just Ask

To ask.

Why is this so hard?

Kids know how to do it.  In fact, they can repeatedly pull the “Can I …” trigger until you would image they get some kind of elbow injury.

Having been on the receiving end of the “Can I?” game, I’ve watched  how a pro does it.  The initial approach is straightforward.

He asks.  Pure and simple.  In our house, often the pro gets a reply that he doesn’t like.

So, after a minute or so, he asks again.  To his horror, he gets the same unappealing answer.

Perhaps next it is a re-framed question.  Something a bit different.  “Can I do it later?  Can I do it tomorrow?”

If he still does not receive the right answer, he adds some flair:  The add-on.

“Can I do it IF I …”  This is a savvy move, for the qualifier makes the recipient believe they are negotiating.  This is smart.  It also serves to elongate the conversation.   Fatigue sets in.

This is the time for the extreme level of difficulty.   Time to unveil the ever-so-slightly desperate switcheroo.  The “Why can’t I …” refrain.  Only the best can keep a level head and dry eye at this level.   Whining doesn’t score extra points, and actually allows the recipient to know they might have the upper hand.

Today I tried the “Can I” game for myself.  I’m not a big player.  Not too comfortable with it.  But now, I wonder why I don’t play this game more often.

Because, you know, I’m finding that most people are pretty accommodating.

So today when I asked, “Can I get you to move my book from the childrens book section of your store to right there across from the cash register where far more people will see my book?” the lady on the other end of the phone said, “Sure.”

Clearly she didn’t know the game.

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Slipping

He doesn’t put his arms around me anymore.

And I get it.

But talk about a very obvious change in the boy I used to have ride on the scooter with me, who would grip me tight around the middle and yell into my ears.  He’s now a youngish man/boy, who holds on to the back rack behind him instead of to his mama.

And I can feel it, right there.  A flutter in my heart.  A pinch.

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My Little Sunshine Tomato

For a town where, it seems, the sun has not shined with the kind of uumph I think a lot of us would like this summer, I give thee the happy baby tomato.

Even without copious sun, his friends are all popping up too.

Can you say cherry tomatos for anyone in my neighborhood that want to stop by?

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Seeing Things Differently

I was cut off this weekend.  Removed all the straight lines in my life.

The square box of the tv.  The computer screen.  I didn’t look through windows.  Or open a rectangular fridge.  Gone was the sexy  iPhone and the large  bathroom mirror.  I didn’t have a right-angled bed.  I never walked down an orderly hallway.  Or even opened a door.

I was in nature, in Yosemite.  Where straight lines hardly, if ever, occur.  And being so surrounded by the sensual curving of mother nature, I felt cradled (albeit a bit cold at night).

My girlfriend Paula, the one who always has the ideas for pushing outside of the comfort zone to do something ANYTHING different, invited me on a Balanced Rock backpacking trip.  Their motto?

Look inward.  Explore outward.

So 6 women (and two amazing guides), all connected through Paula and some connected with each other, strapped everything we needed for 3 days onto our backs and walked 6 miles in (and up) to a beautiful pristine alpine lake.   Yoga ensued.  So did amazingly delish food.  We slept under the shooting stars and learned the 7 D’s of proper poo-ing in the woods.   We adhered to a “leave no trace” mentality, down to the little itty bitty bits of food in the bottom of our always empty bowls.

And while doing all that, or perhaps because of it, we also paid attention to the things inside that were speaking to us.  Perhaps with a tiny little whisper.  Or, for some, with a howl that had been building and building over time.   We circled the wagons and open ourselves up to each other, and learned from collective wisdom.

What else did we have to do?  We had all the time in the world.  (We were reminded that we always have all the time in the world.)

So I’ve let go of the concern about “bothering” people to learn of my work, because all I’m doing is asking them to listen.  And offering something that is really quite beneficial.  And they are no different from me.   (Can I hear a “holla at cha girl?”)

And others put shape and form around ideas that I believe will make life more rich and interesting and full.

Let’s hear it for nature’s classroom.  May she only be a few steps away when we need to get things straight in our own heads.   Or just take some time out to chill.

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A Precision Haircut

Some might think it unkind to speak of the brilliant nature of a good haircut at the same time I am flogging a book about being bald and creating something called the Bald is Beautiful Initiative.

But life is full of juxtapositions, and this is one of them.

So yes, I just got my hair cut.  And I believe I can make the case for the transformative nature of a good haircut.  (Sort of like a can make the case for the transformative nature of being bald.  But that is for another blog posting …)

Come on.  You know. It seems like you’re suddenly thinner.   Your jaw line is just a wee bit sharper.  And life is demonstratively more in your control.  Shoulders back.  Head up.  Lock and loaded.

I personally have always been a short hair person, with a small stint into long locks around the time of my wedding.  Because that’s precisely the time to be experimenting with who you are … the exact moment when you are trying to convince someone to spend the rest of their life with you.  Regardless, I pulled it up for the wedding, and seemed to pull it up or back most every day between August 1st when we wed and early November when I had it shorn off because it just seemed so pointless.  I mean, I always had it pulled off my face, so why have it at all?

Yet for many years as a young woman, I struggled with waiters asking “… and what would you like, Sir?”  Or strangers telling my father that his son was a great skier.  I didn’t have boobs that announced otherwise, and short hair (at least in the late ’70s and early ’80s) on girls just wasn’t all that common.   But I liked it short, and to this day, when I wear a long wig, I wonder how in the world women can stand to look out from behind a wall of hair.

The man who cuts my hair is named James.  I started going to him close to a decade ago when he was something like 23, because he “got” short hair on women and would make me look sexy and not butch.  When he opened his own salon in 2002, he framed my $10 and hung it on the wall, as I was his first customer.  James is moving to Arizona, which would make me cry except that he is going to fly back to the Bay Area once a month for a few days to cut hair here.

Bless him.

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