Shift of Temperature

The heat has been oppressive and sometimes it feels like it’s all you can do just to make it through the day. And if you or your loved one is in treatment for cancer, the stress and fatigue can magnify.

Recently, I listened to a podcast about the comparison trap and how we often measure our success, happiness, or status by seeing how we compare to others. 

Is she still working through treatment and I’m not? Should I be on a vegan diet like certain influencers? Am I living my best life and enjoying every moment like the people I follow on social media who also have cancer?

Comparison isn’t always bad. It can be a tool for growth where you get new ideas, learn new skills, or access resources.


But  it can also create misery, depending on whether you can hold onto your own worthiness no matter what it looks like others are doing and enjoying.

One takeaway for me was how as humans we have always needed one another to survive, but also how painful it can be when you don’t feel like you belong somewhere.  

The amygdala, the primitive brain of fight/flight/freeze in response to perceived threat, gets so activated that you can end up in a state of constant anxiety and stress, even during the phases or moments in life where there is a break from difficulty.

A cancer diagnosis creates a fight/flight/freeze response in everyone it affects, from the patient to loved ones, doctors, or acquaintances.

The fight/flight/freeze response is automatic but you don’t want to get stuck there.

Last weekend, my JoyBoots Inner Circle Group, that has been meeting for years, got together for our first in person retreat.  Talk about having so many activities that helped us relax out of fight/flight, stress, and anxiety!

We enjoyed the first bit of beautiful weather for practicing yoga and meditation outside, swimming, and looking at the stars.  Our view was bucolic country farms and we breathed in the peaceful natural beauty and sounds. Our delicious, healthy meals were beautifully prepared and served.

We shared our feelings and goals, tears and memories. We acknowledged our weariness. We left with greater tenderness for one another and for ourselves.

We felt safe and nurtured and, I believe, a sense of belonging and understanding.

These are the rare antidotes to chronic stress, especially among cancer patients, survivors, and caregivers.

What are the ways you are showing tenderness this week, especially towards yourself? Can you reach out for more support if needed?

Deep Quiet

Yesterday I was at a day long meditation, enjoying spaciousness and the stillness.  During one of the breaks, I sat next to a friend, both of us quiet and content.  Finally I turned to her and said, “I have nothing to say and nothing to do.  I NEVER have nothing to say and nothing to do these days!”  It felt so good to sit in that space of deep quiet and peace.

The effect of the meditation is more important than the experience of the meditation itself.  You may feel bored, distracted, blissful, or any other emotion during the meditation.  Regardless of the details of the meditation, your brain and nervous system still benefit. It’s important to remember that the main purpose of meditation is to have access to a calm, stable and neutral mind when you are not in actual meditation.






Thank You for this Breath

Thanksgiving 2007. We had a month old baby girl and were over the moon in love with her. But I wasn’t sleeping at all which made me a little psychotic and I had mastistis, a breast infection, which made breastfeeding excruciating. Looking back, I probably also had post partum depression. Or was it intuition about what was coming?

Still, our baby was healthy and happy and we were trying to adjust to new life rhythms.

Following Thanksgiving, I underwent a series of scans that led to a biopsy, that led to being diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer on December 13. My daughter was 2 months old.


This moment. This breath.


I went for chemo at MD Anderson throughout 2008, and often asked my friend GG to accompany me. I looked forward to being with her because she was relaxed and neutral and present. She didn’t try to cheer me up. She was just available and gave her time generously. Each time I called her up to see if she could come, the answer was always yes, without checking her schedule.

I found it natural to be grateful for many blessings-health insurance, the support of family and friends, the ability to take time off work, my daughter’s health and the love she received from community. But it was hard to be grateful for the rest-the impact on my body of grueling procedures, life interruptions, the pain, the fear of leaving my daughter, the insomnia, the emotional ups and downs that felt terrible when everyone was trying to be kind.

When GG was there, she helped me stay in the present moment, expressing gratitude for things exactly as they were. Often, that was the opposite of what I was feeling, which was scared and exhausted.

After the nurses set up infusion bags, while waiting to begin the chemo, we set a healing intention.  We prayed the chemo would reach the cancer cells and spare the rest.

And each time, GG made this simple statement: “Thank You for this moment. Thank You for this breath.”

So simple. I couldn’t have come up with those words, but her prayer shifted me into being present with everything just as it was: the boredom of the moment, how slow it all went, the physical discomfort, my connection to a loving friend, and the profound lack of certainty.

Ten years later, I’m still learning to be thankful for each moment and each breath.

Releasing Tension

This is the 8th exercise from Kriya for Immune Fitness, an excellent kundalini yoga set for the lymphatic and nervous systems. In this exercise, breathe in and out though circled lips. Inhale as you squeeze the elbows close to the ribcage, exhale punching out to the sides. The thumb is placed inside fists. Add the mental mantra, thinking to yourself Sat (truth) on the inhale, Nam (identity) on the exhale.

Stress Relief through Long Deep Breathing

Long deep breathing stimulates the relaxation response. It’s simple, but not always easy to remember!

Practice long deep breathing with Kelly this week, using a special mudra (yogic hand position) to increase relief from stress. Women place right middle finger and thumb together, left pinky and thumb together. For men, it’s reversed.

Bring your attention completely to your breath to give your mind a rest from worry.