Birthdays have always been a really big deal in my family. My mother was famous for throwing colorful parties filled with laughter and song. My earliest birthdays were "frocked with frills." In my pre-teens they evolved into glorious slumber parties complete with séances and dancing in the dark in front of posters of David Cassidy and Donny Osmond.
My teens brought high school friends to our house to play charades, be stuffed into a small closet, and singing around the piano until the wee hours of the morning. My mother orchestrated all of this every year.
I naturally picked up her love of laughter and gathering together in song. When I moved to Florida at 20, what I missed most was being there for my mother's birthday. So from Sarasota, I organized, sent invitations and created a surprise party for my mom's 45th birthday! My sister was involved and lead mom into her apartment which was filled with people who loved her. I was on the phone and could hear the expression on her face. Although I was the only one not in attendance, I was pleased that I pulled it off and that she had a wonderful time without me.
In 2011 it was my stepmom, Mary Ann, who threw my 50th birthday party. My mother, of course, was there as were many of my old high school friends as well as current friends from my church community and singing groups. It was the last party before the cAnswer Dance which began six months later.
The celebrations now have taken on a whole new meaning. Last year, I threw myself a party/concert at Unity Bloomington, Indiana. My 55th birthday was the first one in my life without my mother. She made her transition in April 2015. In April 2016, Daddy crossed over. I realized early on that the older I grew the more people I would lose, but nothing prepared me for being on this planet without both of them at the same time!
But I am still on this planet and that alone is worth celebrating. So I do! Sometimes with friends and sometimes by myself but always with music. Having survived the cAnswer Dance three times now, I celebrate every day. When I reach a milestone like another birthday, the thrill of still being alive is inexplicable. Not only do I get to celebrate my life and my survival, but I get to celebrate the two people who brought me into the world and who treated me with the love and encouragement to be able to dance with cAnswer in the first place! So many blessings!
Celebrate with me the birthing of a new day everyday.
And Happy Birthday to YOU!
I have never liked the statement "It is what it is". To me it sounds pat, like the oh too familiar, "Whatever." "It is what it is" sounds like there's only one way "it" is. That is never the case. Every situation has multiple facets in many colors and an infinite number of ways to look at it. Perception changes everything does it not?
I learned about perception when I recognized that my sister had a happy childhood and I did not! We came from the same famn damily! That's when I started to notice the different stories she and I told. When I started telling better stories, I had a happier childhood! Imagine that! Not that things in the past have changed, but seeing it all from a different perspective, shifts not only my memories of it but the way it feels.
This was an incredible awakening in my life -- to know that even my past can feel better when I consciously focus on what's good about it. Focusing on the good in whatever happened within and around me became a daily practice when I "took it on the road" in 99. I toured the country for 12 1/2 years. It felt like a lifetime of conscious practice in positive perception. So when I was diagnosed with stage 3C ovarian cancer in 2012, I got to REALLY practice this.
I talk at length about how I had fun with cancer and how having fun helped me heal from three cAnswer (my way of spelling cancer) occurrences and 36 chemotherapy treatments in my new book, Holy Shift! Everything's a Gift! Suffice it to say that I have come to know that how I see something changes it dramatically.
A shift of perspective is indeed a Holy shift as it is up to me to choose to see it differently in the first place. I use a sentence from A Course in Miracles, "Show me a different way to see this." Then I breathe, open, listen and allow. It's amazing how, by reframing and renaming what most people think of as terrible, traumatic, poison and deadly, even cAnswer and Chemo/Dreamo can be filled with love, laughter, sweetness and fun and that it matters!
This sentence "It is what it is" had just become a popular cultural declaration when my sister and I had an opportunity to drive together to a singing engagement. I brought it up in conversation. "You know I really don't like the sentence "It is what it is" and told her what I described above.
She asked "What would you rather we say?"
"It is what I make it." The window was open and she didn't hear me correctly.
"What did you say?" she asked.
I repeated myself. She still didn't hear me. I told her to roll up her window. When I repeated it a third time, she started laughing. "What did you think I said?" I asked incredulously.
She replied, "I thought you said, 'It is when I'm naked,' both times! I was trying to figure out that if it IS when I'm naked, then it's NOT when I am clothed?"
By then I was in hysterics too. Laughter is such a wonderful thing! It helps me shift my perspective as does singing, dancing and meditating.
It IS what I MAKE it! What a great thing to know!
Nothing can compare with the mind blowing, life altering, holy shifting words “You have cancer.” Or in my case, “it’s back again.” And while the numbers are low enough that I can continue to pretend I am in the clear and healthy, the ever present gift is knowing that I may not be here for long.
So how then shall I live? Do I live for today and create/embrace joy wherever I can? Acting as if life is short, makes me want to dance and sing, meditate, eat good food, love and laugh with friends and sing and dance. Did I mention sing and dance? Acting as if life is short makes me want to gather all of the loose threads of unfinished songs and record them with lush and magnificent harmony! Acting as if life is short makes me want to write about all I have learned this lifetime and impart the information with as much passion as I can muster! Acting as if life is short makes me want to clean my closets, give away a bunch of once loved stuff, and make simple what I leave behind.
On the other hand, acting as if I have another 10 or 20 years ahead of me, I would develop a business plan. I would start looking for gigs, concert opportunities, book signings and speaking engagements. Acting as if I have another 10 or 20 years ahead of me, I would be learning all I can about marketing myself and my work in new ways. I would be working hard at making a living.
What occurs to me of course is that none of us knows when we will make our transition. I get that. But dancing with cancer for five years has been such an incredible Holy Shift and the questions I have remain deliciously unanswered. However, living for today -- whatever that means and all that that means -- is very different than making a living and marketing oneself.
Maybe singing and dancing, meditating and eating well, loving and laughing with friends will be all the “business planning” and “marketing” I will need to sustain a healthy happy life for as long as I do live!? And maybe by acting as if life is short, I will add years to my life! Hmmmm!!?
For a limited time, you can receive my book PLUS a free copy of the Chants to Heal CD. This CD contains all the music I used during Chemo/Dreamo that I discussed in the book. The book is also signed by me.
To learn more, click on the book below.
Article appeared in Bloom Magazine. Written by RODNEY MARGISON
On three occasions, Lauren Lane Powell was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and three times she defeated the disease. Now, along with IU Health Bloomington Hospital, she hopes her most recent experiences can be used to help others.
During her first two bouts with cancer (in 2012 and 2014), Powell’s parents gave her moral support, but they both died before her third diagnosis last year. Her response this time was to create an alternative support system that includes music, essential oils, meditation, and other unconventional approaches, as well as a group of friends that she calls her “chemo-sabe” (a take on the term of endearment used by the fictional character Tonto when referring to the Lone Ranger).
“I’m a voice teacher,” she says. “I knew I had to reach out to my community, especially my fellow singers, and then create the music that went along with this. All of the people I sing with are either in my choir or come from my church or have had lessons with me.”
While her approach is unconventional, it has allowed her to find a peace that was otherwise missing. “Somebody asked me what happens if chemo doesn’t work this time; what happens if I die?” Powell says. “Well, I’m having fun every week, that’s the key. Embracing death has been a part of this, but how do we do that with fun? How do you have fun with cancer?”
Her fun begins with music. “Two hours of singing changes everything,” she says. “During the pre-meds, we do up-tempo music, fun songs, happy-little-fishies-eating-all-the-bad-cells-away.” Then, she says, they bless the bag containing the chemotherapy drugs. “We do reiki over it, then we go into meditation and keep singing.” The treatment room is decorated inside and out, and friends, as well as the nursing staff, leave inspirational messages throughout each session.
Accepting her disease was also key in helping Powell get through it. “Acceptance is in the now,” she says. “Whatever I’m going through right now, whether it’s fatigue, whether it’s a little bit of nausea, it’s ‘how can I embrace where I am, what I’m doing.’”
And now that she’s again in remission, she and her chemo-sabe hope to use their experiences to provide the same environment for other chemotherapy patients. “I have gotten to use everything I have ever learned—through vocalizing, through my spiritual practice, through meditation, through what I teach—for all three of these cancer dances,” she says. “Now I’m excited to use what I’ve learned to help other people and to see how my own life can expand through what has obviously been such a gift. I see this as a pioneer project for all over the country for changing the way chemo is done.”
It’s an idea that caught the attention of Linda Lewis, chief nursing officer with IU Health Bloomington Hospital. “I’ve been a student of holistic nursing since 1999, before it was popular,” she says. “I was a critical care nurse and I would never understand why some patients with a tremendous amount of trauma survived and did really well, and others who had very little trauma did not make it.” She concludes, “It’s not just the injuries, it’s the psyche.”
In May, the hospital began an integrative healing arts program. Funding is through the Bloomington Hospital Foundation, which agreed to put the first 25 clinicians through the year-long program. When they finish, participants will be nationally certified in holistic practice.
“Now I know why I got cancer the third time,” Powell exclaims. “There are bigger reasons than it just coming back. I’m in the right and perfect place.”
Lewis agrees. “You are,” she says. “I’ve always had this belief that people with like-mindedness cross paths and create this energy. That’s what’s happening here in Bloomington. Many people are looking at how we can create a better healing environment by opening up our own minds and hearts to what healing means.”
New Thought Advocate and well-known musician and workshop facilitator, Lauren Lane Powell, discovered she had Stage 3C Ovarian Cancer in the prime of her life. She offers wisdom gained from a lifetime of learning to live in love.
"We met on www.blogtalkradio.com/ ggmradio, on my show Namaste Nutrition. Lauren,you are such a wonderful inspiration, and to this day remain one of my favorite radio guests. Your magic, ethereal beauty, and journey was such an inspiration to me and to my audience."
-- Host of radio show “Namaste Nutrition”
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