Angry PJ Dancing

I know that I am notorious for my good attitude. And 95% of the time I feel nothing but radiant, positive energy radiating from my center. There is the 5% of the time though - when I feel mad, sad, bad. All those ad words. And of course, those are all natural emotions and I usually embrace them, wallow, and then move on.

But recently I've been feeling something new. It's not so much a feeling as an angry, itchy energy. I feel it in my stomach like a burning lead ball, my vision goes red (I now finally understand what that means) and I am not sure if I want to scream, cry or dance. It usually happens when I have to explain my haircut to people (haircut - such an ironic term since I didn't CUT anything, it fell out, but if I said hairfell people would look at me sideways)

I say, "Oh, thank you. Yes, it does look nice. No, it wasn't my choice. I have breast cancer."

HAVE. Not had. Have, like still have. Will have. Stretching on and on and on endlessly into a future of uncertainty.

Now, like any type A girl of my generation I love control. I use dto think I could control EVERYTHING. If cancer has taught me anything it's that AA has it right, you accept the things you cannot control and then go all crazy OC on the things you can. That's what they say, right?

So this feeling - it's not exactly fear (maybe a heavy dose of anxiety), not anger (maybe a splash of annoyance) not sadness (possibly exasperation?) but definitely a looseness, like the control I thought I had over my life is spooling outward like the string on a kite up into the sky in front of me.

I think this feeling is not unique to of us with "uncurable" cancer, I know it plagues BRCA+ and just about anybody who has any kind of serious condition. What if it comes back? What if it gets worse? What if what if what if what if what if

What if's are the freakin worst.

And so when I get this feeling, which I have dubbed the unspooling, there is only one thing I can do. I dance. By myself. Usually in my pjs. Mostly in my living room. Sometimes I just elliptical aggressively, but that's newly on my allowed activity list.

When I look at the songs on my current playlist and what resonates with me about each song, it's all about the loss of control, the feeling of uncertainty, the sense of powerlessness, which I believe is universal to all of us, even those of us without a big scary loaded gun in our bodies. 

This is the current playlist for my angry pj dancing. I would say "enjoy" but instead I will say "release" and maybe "namaste bitches**" 

love you,
xoxoxox

Dena

ANGRY PJ DANCING:

Theophilus London, I Stand Alone



"Journey starts beneath the stars, I stand alone.
All my fears through all these years, swept away the known.
Ooh, I run tis town to be near you. Oh, do grey skies ever turn blue? I stand alone."

Walk Off the Earth, Red Hands

"That gun is loaded, but it's not in my hand. The fires burns I'm not the one with the match lit."  


NE-YO, Forever Now

"What am I supposed to do with forever now? What do I now? What do I now? What do I do? What do I do now? What do I do now?" 

Rihanna (feat Mikky Ekko), Stay

"I threw my hands in the air, said show me something. He said if you dare come a little closer. Round and around and around and around we go, oh now, tell me now, tell me now, you know. Not really sure how to feel about it... the reason I hold on, cause I need this hole gone. Funny you're the broken one, but I'm the only one who needed saving. Cause when you never see the light, it's hard to know which one of us is caving."

Mackelmore & Ryan Lewis ft Ray Dalton, Can't Hold Us

"They can't tell me nothing. Can we go back, this is the moment, tonight is the night, we'll fight till it's over. So we'll put our hands up like the ceiling can't hold us." 

I Heart Exercise

So, fun fact about me. I love to exercise. When I worked in a building with a gym I was notorious among my coworkers for my love of exercise. Exercise makes me happy. Class instructors love me because I end up with this big grin on my face whenever things "hurt so good." 


I do it all, strength training, classes, read fitness magazines and actually do the workouts (I actually clip ones I like and I have a big binder full of them), buddy workouts, go to the gym for a friend date instead of brunch, etc etc etc I even used to take first dates to the gym to see if they could keep up with my crazy workouts. 

So you can imagine how hard it has been for me during the last 8 months of not being allowed to exercise. I mean, most of the time I couldn't, but there were times when I wanted to and my doctors were like - nope. Not only did I miss the stress release, the endorphins, the feeling of forgetting everything and just focusing on my body, I also gained 20 pounds from eating nothing but toast, not to mention the biochemical changes to my metabolism and my hormones. It sucked.

So, to say that I am over the moon that I got the greenlight from my onc to start working out again would be like saying Fenway likes to nap. Basically, duh.


And with that thought in mind, I decided to share with you some of the workouts I have been doing that I LOVE LOVE LOVE (PS, yes, I used to work at exercise.com) 

Here is two to start, more to come! Happy sweating.

xoxox
Dena

WORKOUT 1:BETTER THAN COFFEE
If you are too busy to work out for an hour, or on vacation, or as a nice little cherry when you are going to workout, I like to do this quick power up first thing in the morning. It wakes you up real good, it hits pretty much every muscle and it takes 5 minutes. #noexcuses

plank 1 minute (basic, side, plyo, dynamic)
lunges 20 each leg (reverse, elevated, twist)
push ups 10 - 20 


**There are about a million variations on each one of these exercises, so I will switch it up if I am doing it multiple days in a row. Also, I usually don't have equipment, so I don't use it, body weight is usually enough! 

WORKOUT 2:CARDIO LADDER
I used to love spin class. I read all these articles about how good interval training is (burns more calories in the same amount of time as sustaining the same, moderate pace, blah blah blah) but I also like to read while I am cardioing and it can be hard to force yourself to do intervals. It just requires a lot of focus and attention. Pffft. 

Enter my own invention, the cardio ladder. I do it on the elliptical but I imagine it would work just as well on a treadmill, stairmill, rowing machine, whatevs. 

Here's how it works. 

Start at resistance level 1. Do that for one minute. 
Then go up to 2, do that for one minute. 
Then 3, and on and on as high as you can go.
I try to keep the same pace as I raise the resistance, which I totally stole from spin class. 

I'll do 3 of these, starting over the counter every time, for a total of 60 minutes. 

So if I space out I know that whatever minute I am on, that's what level of resistance I should be at. 

It looks like this (actual picture of me doing it):



I find this to be much, much easier to follow then those crazy cardio charts in the fitness magazines I read, and I get bored with the pre-programmed ones on the machines. 







Writing through Illness


A very special guest post from author & goddess 
Jess Goldman Foung, aka Sodium Girl


Flight.
In a single moment, with a single jump, you suspend in the air. Putting life on pause for one, joyful, split second, only to moments later land safely back on your two feet, either lifting off again or climbing down to solid ground.
But when something unexpected double-bounces you off life’s trampoline, suddenly, the suspension of reality feels less free and more threatening. The landing pad looks less even and more unsteady. The fall becomes fearful and threatening. And the next few moments, days, months, and years…uncertain.
We’ve all had those moments — a shocking diagnosis, the discovery of a lump, the loss of a loved one, a life with a chronic illness. We’ve all felt the jolt of the double bounce and the struggle for a steady state. We’ve all felt alone and scared, weak and wilted, changed and converted. And we all have the chance to use those experiences to take flight once again.
Almost a decade ago, I lost my proverbial footing when Lupus suddenly attacked my kidneys and my brain days after my twenty-first birthday, hours before I was to return to Stanford University for my winter quarter. I quickly went from struggling for the good dorm room to fighting for my life. And the plans I had for my studies and my social life got replaced by dialysis, chemotherapy, blood work, and just making it to the next Saturday. 
Thanks to amazing medical care and love from family and friends, I eventually survived. My kidneys, however, did not. And while I was grateful to be alive, I knew life would never be the same. A realization that could leave me hanging in limbo or help me find my footing again. Because in that moment, I had two choices: be paralyzed by the changes and uncertainty, or own them. 
I chose door number two. It took time and I tried for a while to keep step with my peers, hold a nine-to-five, and put the needs of my disease on the bottom of the priority list. But I quickly realized that this only left me feeling emptier and more behind. When I embraced my needs, however, things fell into place. Life had changed, so it was damn time to change my life. And instead of pushing medical needs to the side, I made them the muse of my career, my work, and my life's purpose. I began telling and sharing my story and it led to a dream job with more impact than I could have ever imagined -- more than a nine-to-five could have ever afforded. And not only did I feel like I got my footing back, but I felt like I was finally moving forward.
An opportunity to bring meaning to those unexpected double-bounces and turn life-altering moments into life-changing messages. It is a course I am offering through Stanford Continuing Studies this April (yes, two weeks away) in which we turn lemons into lemonade and then turn that lemonade into powerful pieces of writing that will in inspire and encourage and catch others as they free fall.
This is the time to tell your story so that, when someone else flies off their expected path, they can just keep soaring.
So I’ll keep it short and simple for now: Please pass this information forward. To your support group, doctor, favorite health organization, and Zumba class. Spread the word on Facebook, Twitter, and your work’s water cooler. To young people, wise people, medical professionals, grant writers, caretakers, health warriors, and novices. Because you never know what obstacles people have faced or are currently facing. You never know who this class will empower and touch. You never know what stories need to take flight.
And I hope to see you in April. Get ready to fly.



Mark your calendars: MAY 18



"The Pink & Silver, Breast Cancer Sucks" party on May 18(not the 11th as previously stated) 2013.  Need I say more? Ok, I will. 



Right before my 29th birthday I was diagnosed with breast cancer. The plan was to throw a big party to celebrate the end of my treatment (and my cancer) in April, but unfortunately, I discovered a few months ago that the cancer had metastasized to my bones. Currently, bone disease is "incurable." Pffffft, I say to that. 

But I am not willing to give up my party. So instead I decided that I would throw a huge event to continue to raise awareness about breast cancer in young women, while also raising funds for an awesome local organization that really helped me when I was first diagnosed, the Breast Cancer Emergency Fund. The BCEF provides emergency grants to cover medical/personal expenses for qualified applicants who have breast cancer. 

My cancer journey has sort of "gone viral" since I started writing about it on my blog (Dameazon) and, has since been featured in everything from Refinery 29 to dozens of fashion and lifestyle blogs. This is FREAKING AMAZING. It makes me feel like all this crap I have gone through might actually be worth something. 

I truly, deeply, from the bottom of my heart, believe that if just one young women catches her cancer early because of hearing my story, then everything I've gone through will be worth it. 

And, I hope to continue this mission, to raise awareness, pinkness, sparkliness and self boobie love, by throwing a big, fancy party, which gets lots of press coverage and reminds girls to check their breasts. 

The plan is get tons of pink & silver decorations, pink antioxidant rich cocktails and a strictly enforced pink/silver/black/white dress code (I MEAN IT, I WILL LITERALLY BOUNCE THE DOOR MYSELF)


More details to come, I just found an AMAZING location! 

People keep making other plans for this weekend and I want you to stop and come to my party, so I am saving the date now, without a location or other details. Just block out the whole day. Thanks. 

See you there,
xoxoxox
Dena

Oprah & Deepak Chopra's 21 Day Meditation Challenge

Yup, I'm doing it. And it's actually really cool. Every day you get a guided meditation like this one:



 
There's a nice introduction from Oprah (who's doing it with you!) and  then Deepak talks for awhile before he takes you into the mantra. This is a man who has an amazing voice, listening to him makes you feel like there is a bowl of warm honey in my belly.

I'm not gonna lie to you (why start now) meditating is hard, like harder than such a small thing should be- but I fell in love with this whole thing when, on the first day, Deepak said "You can accept the diagnosis but you don't have to accept the prognosis." Amen.

I don't want to spoil it by giving away too much here and tell you every little detail, so you think you can have a get out of jail free card and not sign up yourself. Yes, I just likened meditation to jail, so sue me. I think it's hard work, but I also think it works. I'm not ashamed of going all hippy dippy on all of y'all.

There's also daily journaling questions which seem really cool even though, full disclosure, I haven't started doing them yet. But I will, I'm just on vacation :)

Here is an example of the goodness coming your way in your inbox if you sign up and do this with me. I personally think it feels a lot like waking up to nice backrub and a shot of wheatgrass, but digitally, via email.

Excerpt from today's email:

The Nature of Perfect HealthToday, we discuss how it is our evolutionary impulse to progress in our lives, to seek and attain balance, and to be healthy and strong.
While our bodies naturally move toward balance, there are things we can to do aid in this process. For instance, we can send our bodies messages of love and support by eating nourishing foods, getting proper rest, and engaging in activities that make us feel truly alive. So, as we begin to understand how our bodies take care of us, we also learn how we can better take care of our bodies.
Our centering thought for today is:
Balance is my true nature.
We look forward to our time together in reflection and stillness.
Blessings,                                             

Now, I swear I am not going all Naomi from 90210 meets the Shining Tree cult on you (when not meditating I am also watching about two seasons worth of this show on Netflix - namaste bitches) but I really really like it, and I think some of you might too.

Today I was lucky enough to be in LA with the girl who roped me into this (and by that I mean, thank you for taking care of my spirit cancer twin) and so we sought out an amazing place to do today's meditation. And we found one. And it was awesome.






 
But the good news is you don't need a non-denominational lake temple shrine thing to do this, all you need is the desire for some space and stillness in your life (where good things can rush in?? right Eat Pray Love?) and about 15 minutes a day.
 
Let me know if you are doing it! It's more fun with friends!
 
 
xoxoxo, love you lots (namaste bitches)
Dena

Hey SF Party People,
I am writing this special post because tonight is a very special event! I am so proud of my friends who were involved in planning it, and I want to encourage any of you who don't have something important to do tonight to throw on a cocktail dress and come and meet me here.

Last year's event was really spectacular and this year's event should be just as awesome.

Here's a little more about it, from one of the amazing organizers:


The event is the International Museum of Women (IMOW) Art Live Lounge Gala 2013, organized by the Vanguard Circle. 

IMOW is an innovative online museum that inspires creativity, empowerment and awareness on vital global issues for women. The Vanguard Circle is a group of young professional women in the bay area who support IMOW's fundraising and outreach efforts.  After attending several events over the past two years, I joined the committee this year -- it has truly been a wonderful and inspiring experience.  

The cornerstone to our fundraising plan is the annual Art Live Lounge gala.  Last year’s event, at the City Club of San Francisco, was a huge success.  The team honored Marissa Mayer with the Award for Innovator in Technology and raised significant proceeds to benefit IMOW's award winning exhibitions that strive to advance the lives of women around the world through art and global action.


And here is the facebook event.

Last, but not least, here are some pictures from last year (yes, I have hair)




Love you,
Hope to see you there!
xoxoxo
Dena

In defense of Internet Friends

I like to tell people I ordered my boyfriend on the internet. Really, technically, it's called "online dating" but since he's so amazing, sometimes I feel like I custom ordered him. Given that this is possible, why is it so weird to imagine that I could also become close friends with people whom I have never "met." Or in this case, have met but only via the wonder of technology.

I am a REALLY big fan of my internet friends (one of whom I got to meet in person last week, and it was AH-mazing) one of whom I will get to meet at her wedding, which I am so excited about.

I remember being a kid and having "pen pals" - friends in another city, state, country - who we got to write to, and get to know. I loved having pen pals, and now that I am a grown up, I think I love it even more.

There are so many amazing, positive, incredible people in the world, why should we be limited to those in our own physical space? Travel has never been easier, staying connected has never been easier, and building real, special, inspiring relationships with people has never been easier.

Sure, I hear the argument all the time that technology is interfering with people's ability to connect in a real way in the real world, blah blah blah. Maybe that's true for some people, but it's not true for me. I don't know how I would have survived the last 6 months of hell without the internet --without the ability to keep up with the people I love, to get messages of love, support and humor, and of course, without my special, we-met-on-the-internet friends.

So, while I may not be hitting up chat roulette anytime soon, I am so grateful for the internet and for the people I can connect with because of it.

xoxoxox
lots of love,
Dena

P.S. I had an amazing time with my "twin" this last week. We ran around the city blonde + pink haired (and full bellied, I think we ate our way through the city) and it was freaking awesome. And I would never have met her without the power of the internet!

Getting our hair did. Yup, WE HAVE HAIR!!


My mom, the hairstylist behind our blonde hotness...
https://www.styleseat.com/kathy_stern
Wigging out at the Flipside Wine Tasting at the Old Mint


A little sneak peak of the pink awesomeness...(more to come)







Sick of Water? Me too...

I learned really early on that the difference between feeling horrificly bad and just a little bad is proper hydration. Even before hurricane cancer, my solution to everything from skin breakouts to bloody noses to headaches was "drink some water". And it works. But it's been over 6 months of treatment, and I am sick, sick, sick of water. I never thought it would happen, but it has.  I can't bear the taste of it anymore. It still reminds me of that terrible, metallic, robot crawled in my mouth and died flavor

But unfortunately for me, I still need to drink lots of liquids. Boatloads of it. Sometimes I wonder how it's possible I don't just float away. So, the amazing HBF got me a Sodastream, and that thing has changed my life (the bubbles really help with metal mouth, and it's just awesome to be able to make your own sparkling water whenever) and I started experimenting with juicing, and, drumroll please, making my own iced tea.


My creation..


Now iced tea is delicious. It is easy to make. And it can be good for you. This "recipe" (if you can call it that) has licorice and cranberry to help with the inevitable steroid/medicine bloating and a ton of yummy antioxidants (mostly from red roiboos) which are supposed to be amazing for your skin (something I can always use help with!) It's also delicious, flavorful, sweet & a little tart without any added sugar.

I save glass bottles (never plastic!) from store bought teas and reuse them, because I love the grab and go-ness of them, and it seems easier to store them in the fridge than a big pitcher.

xoxo
Dena

Get Gorgeous + Weightless Tea



I use one teabag of each for about 16 oz of water. 

Let it steep for at least 10 minutes before pouring it in the glass bottles. Stick it in the fridge overnight. Yum!