Why I Blog

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Seeking to expand my “Little World,” I entered the “Blogosphere World” in mid-January 2013.   Retired in 2010, my husband and I relocated to a new state thousands of miles away from children, family and friends.

Some three years later, blogging “Launched ME” into Cyberspace.”   My ever expanding “Online World” has “Opened the Door” to new people, places and things all around the world.   Blogging allows “ME to be ME.”  Blogging is the “Voice” that had remained silent for many, many years due to my own self-inflicted anxiety and low self-esteem.

Though, I am a novice blogger, my confidence level is growing daily.   Why – the people, who have supported, aided and guided me since I embarked on this new journey.

  • First, thank you to those who “visited, liked and/or commented” on my posts.  I am grateful and appreciate your taking the time to enter my “Online World.”
  • Second, to those bloggers “I follow,” thankful and appreciative for your enlightening and informative posts.
  • Finally, a “special thank you” to Misifusa’s Blog, http://misifusa.wordpress.com.  I look forward to reading your posts.  I connect with you on a personal level — a “Sister Breast Cancer Survivoras well as your February 19, 2013 “What’s in a Name” post.

So to my new Blogosphere friends the following are a few  —-

Random Facts About Me

  • I am one of the 198,682 people in the U.S. with the first name Yvonne
  • My daily routine upon rising, is writing my “Morning Gratitude Note.”  Beginning with “Bless be the Day for ME and Mine,” and generally followed with a word or sentence expressing why I am grateful.   This note is placed into my “Gratitude Jar.” 

Gratitude Jar

  • Nightly, just before retiring, I write in my online Gratitude Journal” five things that happened during the day for which I am grateful.  I finish with, “Blessed be the Night for ME and Mine.”   If expressing gratitude to a specific person, place, or thing, I attach related digital photos.

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  • Unrealistic FEAR prevents “ME” from performing monthly self-breast exams.  For the past five years, I have lied to my oncologist when asked the dreaded question about self-breast exams.  Hope, sharing this fact in “Blogosphere” will rid “ME” of this phobia.

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  • I meditate for thirty minutes every day for relaxation and inner peace.
  • On my special “Sabbath Day,” which can be any day during the week, I choose to do only what honors, pleases and uplifts “ME.”

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  • I blog because it makes “ME” happy.
  • I took my first Yoga class this past week.
  • When someone or something enters my space and creates toxicity, my inner voice says either:  (1) “This is the day the Lord has made let us rejoice and be glad in it.”  Psalms 118.22 (NIV), or (2) “I will not allow anyone to steal my joy.”  Then, I will immediately seek a way to disengage.

Loving This Season of My Life!!!!

Dedicated to A Breast Cancer Warrior

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Mentor, best friend, and the sister God placed in my life shortly after I married her younger brother more than 52 years ago, died in December of 1988 after a long battle with Stage IV Breast Cancer.  During her four-year fight to survive, I never heard one complaint.  With confidence, I can say every one who watched her go through the repetitive rounds of chemotherapy; radiation treatments and hospitalizations will agree that she exemplified all the following “Pink Warrior Symbols.”

    • Power and Courage
    • Plants for Life, Growth and Survival
    • A Feather for Kinship
    • A Dove for Peace in the Battle
    • War Paint, Showing Readiness to Battle
    • A Tree for Love, Standing Tall
    • A Heart, for Standing Strong
    • Angel Wings, to Honor Those Who Have Died

Four years my senior, she was the big sister I dreamed of growing up as an only child.  What a Blessing!!!  I was gifted with the opportunity to spend quality time with this very, very special person during the last days of her life

You see, in August of 1988, my husband invited her to live with us in Madison, Wisconsin.  She had reached a point where she needed around-the-clock care.  The two of us cared for her evenings and weekends. Her daughter, brother, sister, cousin, nieces, nephews, and aunt provided care on weekdays.  Fortunately, all of them lived in Madison and were available during the day due to retirement, student status, evening work, or paid time off usage.  Our family knew she would prefer a home setting rather than a sterile hospital room.   Although the spare bedroom, in order to accommodate her needs, was set up much like a hospital room with a hospital bed, over-the-bed table, and oxygen tank.   Yet, it was a lived-in home environment.  Family members were providing the needed care.

The best reasons for her move to Madison.  It placed her in the same city as her youngest child, a daughter, who graduated from high school in June of 1988.  She was scheduled to start classes at the University of Wisconsin-Madison for the Fall 1988 semester. Though away from her own home, she was able to maintain a close connection with her husband and adult son.  Madison is only a three-hour drive from Chicago.

On November 25, 1988, she celebrated her 50th Birthday in our spare bedroom.  Less than three weeks later, she quietly passed away in this small spare bedroom surrounded by members of her nuclear, extended family and close friends.

This post is dedicated to my sister-in-law, Shirley Mae Thomas Conda, a Breast Cancer Warrior, who bravely fought the fight, but lost the battle.

Through the many seasons of my life, I have faced my share of trials and tribulations.   However, nothing challenged me more than the diagnosis of Breast Cancer in February 2008.

Thank you Shirley.  You were still my “role model, some 20 years later” as I went through a lumpectomy, chemotherapy and radiation treatment.   Being in your presence as you fought Breast Cancer, continues to give me the courage to fight this condition for which there is still no known cure.

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On this 5th Anniversary as A Breast Cancer Survivor,  I am:

  • Thankful for my husband, children, grandchildren, extended family members, PMTC family, and friends who went beyond anyone’s expectations in sharing their love and support as I went through the early, and sometimes scary times, of my cancer treatments.

Finally, I give praise and honor to God.  Thanking Him for bringing me this far.

Living Life as One of God’s CREATIONs

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The exact day of the week is unknown, but in February of 2010, I made a decision that would change the course of my life.    I chose to begin the journey of  “Living Life as One of God’s CREATIONs.”     On long-term medical leave, bedridden, recovering from a serious illness, bored, and television channel surfing, I landed on a religious cable network.   Immediately, I was drawn into the commentary and lively discussion on the topic of the day.   I have to admit, the religious cable network is not one of my “go to” networks.  My cable channel programming preferences lean more toward Home and Garden TV, The Food Network, OWN, and MSNBC.   But on this particular day, I chose to channel surf.  Why, I may never know, but the information shared in this program led me down a new path that has improved the overall quality of my life.

The discussion topic was the book by Monica Reed, M.D. entitled, “The CREATION Health Breakthrough.”  Dr. Reed, is a former Medical Officer of Florida Hospital and most recent the CEO of Florida Hospital’s medical facility – Celebration Health.  Having a lifetime commitment to whole health, Dr. Reed suggests there are “eight fundamentally, powerful and scientifically proven essentials to reverse the effects of lifestyle, prevent disease in at-risk people, and ultimately achieve total health and wellness.”

I questioned whether it was possible to “achieve total health and wellness.”   If so, I needed to get on board.  At that time, I was a chronic pain survivor having been diagnosed both with Fibromyalgia and Rheumatoid Arthritis more than seventeen years earlier.    After so many years of being by themselves, I guess these two conditions were getting lonely so in a two-year period, I brought them four new major conditions:  Breast Cancer (2008); Peripheral Neuropathy-Nerve Pain (2008); Epiglottitis-Severe Respiratory Distress (2010); and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (2010).

These last four conditions were due to the side effects from medications prescribed to treat one condition causing the onset of a new condition.  Most over-the-counter and prescribed medications will list the side effects – even some carry the statement, “rare but serious side effects.”   It is my understanding less than 1% of people prescribed a medication will have “rare but serious side effects.”    Four incidents in two years, was I qualified to be the poster child for the “rare but serious side effects” ?    I survived four, but what about the future.  I was even more concerned after reading an article on MedicationSense.com reporting that medication side effects are the #4 leading cause of deaths in America.”   So on this cold day in February 2010, recovering from a life-threatening illness, I was more than ready to look at alternative therapies to manage my existing health conditions.

As soon as the program ended, I ordered Dr. Reed’s book, willingly paid extra for the overnight delivery, and read the entire book in one-day.    What resonated most was the section on Lifestyle Diseases, which Dr. Reed defined as,  “a group of harmful behaviors practiced over time, which result in decreased quality of life and ultimately to the onset of chronic illnesses leading to premature death.”   I had to “fess up” to having more than less of the harmful behaviors.

  • Little or no physical exercise
  • Lack of sufficient or fulfilling sleep
  • Sustained exposure to stress
  • Participate in high risk behaviors such as smoking or drug use
  • Minimal or no personal playtime or time for solitude
  • Limited family or meaningful relationship time
  • Lack of a spiritual connection

Yes, regrettably I had a long-time relationship with five of the eight behaviors as indicated by those highlighted.     Actually, there could well be six, if I were to include “smoking,” a 20-year habit until I quit in 1980.  I was ready to get on board with Dr. Reed and the CREATION Health Lifestyle.”

Some three years later, I am grateful and humbled by the improvement in my life since starting the journey to “CREATION – God’s 8 Principles for Living Life to Its Fullest .

  • I no longer control my long-term chronic conditions with medications that carry the label “rare but serious risks.”
  • On March 8, 2013, I will celebrate my Fifth Anniversary as a Breast Cancer survivor.
  • My pulmonary issues are adequately managed with minimal use of an inhaler and nebulizer.

My personal CREATION plan for living life to its fullest is ever-changing, I am happy  to share the latest with you:

C = Choice – The choices I make, in large part, determines my destiny.  Strive daily to make good choices in all areas of my life.  Choose to be happy rather than sad. Choose to focus on the positive rather than the negative.  Choose to show gratitude and appreciation daily for all of my blessings rather than coveting what other have.  Empowered and in control to make healthy choices relating to my health.

R = Rest –Take time out during the day for “solitude time.”   Reading, meditating, and “total silence” is what I choose to do during this time.  Take a full Sabbath Day on any day I feel my body is in need of rest and revitalization.

E = Environment – Home is a safe haven it brings me peace, serenity and tranquility.   I enjoy sitting on the rear patio looking at the vibrant colorful flowers overflowing in beautiful pots brings happiness into my life.  I love the feeling of “isolation.”  Large trees in the conservation area backing up to the rear of our home and flanked by tall shrubbery on both sides creates my own private oasis.

A = ActivityExercise at the YMCA four days per week for one hour.  Recognize exercise reduces my pain and stress levels.

T = Trust – Trust in God.  Develop healthy relationships based on mutual respect and trust.  Trust my other half.  Trust my children.

I = Interpersonal Relationships – Pursue supportive and positive interpersonal relationships beyond my immediate family.  Stay connected with my Wisconsin friends.  Open the door to attract new friends in Florida.

O = Outlook – Far better to find the good as opposed to the bad in any given situation.   Choose to be optimistic rather than pessimistic.  Keep a positive outlook and visualize the unlimited possibilities available during this season of my life.

N = Nutrition – Continue to develop a realistic nutrition plan.  Limit intake of animal fats and cholesterol.  Limit sweets and refined foods.  Increase intake of high fiber foods.

The quality of my life is getting better every day by – Making good Choices; Taking time for Rest; Enjoying the Environment; Exercising four days per week as an Activity;  Learning the true meaning of Trust; Expanding Interpersonal relationships; Maintaining a positive Outlook; and knowing the importance of Nutrition. 

I Am Gonna Make the Rest of My Life the Best of My Life

In His Own Words

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My husband of fifty-two years never ceases to amaze me. Most recently, after a three-year project — on-again and off-again — he completed writing his memoirs and family history.

Married at the young ages of 17 and 18, I have watched him go through the many phases of life. The challenges sometimes seemed insurmountable, but he always kept pushing forward — failure was not an option.  At each stage, his goal was to move our family forward.  He had a strong commitment to ensuring our children were given opportunities that had not been available to us.   Together, we accomplished this.   There were some bumps in the road.  But, I can honestly say we have been fortunate.  In our fifty-two years together, we have shared more lemonade than lemons.  I ask my five Blog Followers, you  know who you are, to join me in congratulating first time author, James Cameron Thomas, on the January 12, 2013 release of his first book, “Son of a Sharecropper Achieves the American Dream.”

In His Own Words

I am a 70-year-old black male who was born in Mississippi in 1941 to an 18-year-old unwed mother with one child.  My parents were sharecroppers.   I did not know my biological father until I was 15 years old.  I grew up in dire poverty in the pre-Civil Rights south, chopping and picking cotton for ten hours a day, eight months of the year.  I was a high school dropout and had my first child, out-of-wedlock, at the tender age of 17.  One year later I married my beautiful 17-year-old childhood sweetheart and by the age of 26 I was the father of four children.  By age 33, I had obtained Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  I overcame many difficult beginnings to become the succesful person I am today.

This year my wife Yvonne and I celebrated our 52nd anniversary.  Thanks to a lot of hard work and God’s blessings, I now live in a suburb of Wisconsin and have a winter home in Orlando, Florida.  I live in a beautiful house , have a large collection of African-American art, photographs and mementos and I am not without resources and material comforts.   I am surrounded by treasured books by William Faulkner, James Baldwin, Richard Wright, Ralph Ellison, W.E.B. DuBois, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., President Barack Obama, and numerous other authors who have written about the African-American experience in America.  I am truly blessed with a rich network of friends going back to elementary school including my best friend, my loving wife Yvonne.  I have four children, eight grandchildren and three great-grandchildren, all blessed with good health and sound minds, and pursuing careers.

My story and my family’s story is about being black in this country — an honest story about how much progress has been made, but also about how much progress still needs to be achieved.  I faced many hardships and struggles as a poor black boy growing up in 1950’s Mississippi.  But my struggles and hardships didn’t end when I moved to the north and began my professional career in business and government service.  While I was no longer chopping and picking cotton ten hours a day, I was still in many ways treated like a second class citizen.  This book, then, is a cautionary tale for black people about attitudes that have not changed fast enough and the progress that still has to be made.

At the same time, this is not a memoir by an angry black man.  Rather it is a story of hope and perseverance — about how I overcame tremendous odds to achieve success and the American Dream.  Despite the problems I describe, I’ve had many more victories, and I am thankful to my family, friends, colleagues, and country for the opportunities and achievements that have blessed my life.

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