Lose Yourself in the Music, the Moment: Memories of a Lifetime

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A few weeks ago I had a slated visit with my Psychologist, a stunning, statuesque woman with the most attractive Russian accent. Every time I see her I am reminded of a Russian friend whom I’ve shared some of my best memories with. Innately I warm to the Doctor right away in a reminiscent fashion, regardless of my long absence in seeing her. She has the ability to put me at ease without granting the notion that I am losing my shit. She was on my level, just like my old friend, and I liked that.

After arriving in her office, ornamented with psychology book after psychology book, as well as notes strewn about her desk in an organized mess, I sat down on the plush couch, across from her high back chair. The diffuser rested on a shelf, and exhaled the most calming hint of lavender. Being that it had been awhile since I had last seen her, there was a lot that I needed to express, things that I was reluctant to share with anyone, including my husband. My heart was racing, and my mouth dry, as I began to divulge it all, skipping over any possibility of small talk.

I told her that my intellectual side was at war with my spiritual side. I told her that when I go out in public I am paralyzed by fear of the worst happening. I told her everything in my private life was pleasing, but I was still plagued with chest wrenching anxiety. And then I told her more importantly that I was starting to disremember anything that came before cancer, and that it scared me out of my wits.

Supposing she was going to prescribe pills on top of pills, it was a risk I was willing to take. My own thoughts were becoming unbearable, a constant, and frenzied sense of trepidation, and silent chaos.

“Write,” she contested. “There are a number of pills I could prescribe, but the best medicine for you is writing, and that’s something that only you can do. Flex that muscle. You are a writer, so write.”

I didn’t have much of a defense. Despite her brilliance, and numbered Doctorate degrees, it was advice that didn’t take a rocket scientist to propose, yet a remedy that I hadn’t been practicing lately.

“I can’t,” I confessed.

Aiding to the anxiety that I have been facing were flashbacks of all of the traumatic events that have taken place over the course of my cancer career. The nastiness that is coupled with being a member of the club with a cancer card, the gruesome surgeries, and the inches I’ve been to death; it was all starting to slither its way in, wrapping around my mind. The problematic issue is that all of the memories that once came before cancer were evaporating. The bones for my book had been laid out perfectly on the table for the past two years, and yet I’ve failed to give it flesh as my memories were being overshadowed. As a writer we depend on our memories to bring a perspective, and narrative from our account to paper; alive, if you will.

“Write out of order, escape yourself by listening to the music you have listened to throughout your life. Music evokes the deep-level parts of our emotions, where our earliest memories are stored. What you have done is compartmentalized the before life, and the after life of living with cancer, putting the before on a shelf to deal with the latter.”

Her words were magic.

“When we can tap into those memories, or a specific memory, the neurotransmitters in your brain will then lead to awakening another memory, and another, and another,” the Doctor articulated.

The words did not fall on deaf ears; I was in tune to everything she was concurring.

“My prescription to you is to write. It does not have to be for your blog, it doesn’t even have to be for your book, it can be just for you if you like. But, I promise you this, if you listen to music, and tap into your memories, not all of your problems will be solved, however it is the best thing you could do for yourself.”

It sounded so easy, and then again not, but I was willing to go there, re-sort the boxes in my brain, and get its contents down on paper.

When I got home I played country from the late 1980’s through my airpods; George Strait, The Judds, Alabama, even Billy Ray Cyrus. Come on, everyone loved Achey Breaky Heart, and Billy Ray is a national treasure. The waves of reminiscence to my early childhood were immense. From each memory I was able to draw another memory, and then another, and another after that, just as the Doctor preached. As the night prolonged, I realized there was an untold, layered story behind every song, from my first kiss, to my first love, leaving home for the first time, adventures in my 20’s, to the time I met my husband, and knew right then, and there he’d be the one I’d marry. The words flowed out of me as I entered a chaotic, yet focused zone in the writing universe. The bones to my story now had bits of flesh, and my memories were as fresh as if I was reliving it once again.

There are many days that I ponder my purpose or wonder if I even have one. My sole goal over the years of my diagnosis has been purely survival, sometimes leaving very little energy for anything else. Since I met with the Doctor, I have added a new goal to my life, which is to write everyday, no matter what. Thus far, it’s been filling in the pieces that are coming back to life in my mind, and although the past should be a place of reference, this has allowed me to reconnect with the person I was before my life changed in the least expected of ways. I realize that all of the memories connect, and if I didn’t have certain people, or have gone through certain experiences it wouldn’t be my life, or my narrative. It could very well take a lifetime to share my tale of this weird life, but God it won’t be boring.

PS- I hope you appreciate my Eminem reference in my chosen title of this confession. #musictherapy #inspiration #punny

Love,

Britt x

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Dior: Made Her Fall to the Floor

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Imagine a personality ten times larger than life.  We met at my best friend Crystal’s 20th Birthday and her friend from college came to the shindig we were throwing at Crystal’s parents house.  Our meeting is another hilarious story for yet a completely differet post.  Pardon me, once again I veered off track.  I met the one and only Innesa, a Russian born, Jewish and Brunette version of Marilyn Monroe.   A force to be reckoned with and sharp as a tack.  Needless to say we were attracted to one another as friends immediately.  It was though we had known one another for lifetimes, eons, centuries.  

Wild is an understatement to describe her, but not negatively or with an irresponsible connotation.  I mean ballsy, bold, badass.  Our stars aligned during a very pivotal time for the both of us — right around the time we turned 21.  My 21st was beyond mental and I don’t recall it clearly enough to regurgitate it (get it).  I make myself laugh. Opps, sorry. Focus. Yet, for Innesa’s Birthday I remember ever detail.

I should probably back up and tell you where all this is coming from.  We have a fancy built in closet and the rack on the wooden wardrobe fell down completely.  It looked like a tornado snuck into our closet. After being that way for over a week, I couldn’t look at it like that for a moment longer and I was united.  To my despair, as I was reunited with my precious Nan today, as she returned from her holiday to Aruba and once again organized my closet.

Whist handing her things as she’s standing on a mid-level ladder, I came across a Dior bag that was dusty and placed at the very back of my wardrobe and fell amongst the collapse of the rest of the wardrobe.  When I say bag, I don’t mean purse, I mean, shopping bag.  A Dior one.

 A  month or so ago I re-organized most of my everyday shoes and a friend of mine suggested that I blog about all of my different shoes I have as I posted as comment on how many memories each pair of shoe brings back and all of the places around the world they have been.  If only shoes can talk.  Then I figured they can’t, but I can write about it and she was right. There is a deep love affair with all of my shoes because they all tell a story.

 As I was handing off the Dior bag which contains a pair of white Dior sandal heels, still in the box and probably worn twice.  The box was dusty and I saw a hotel tag on the strap of the bag with a guy’s name on it.  I’ll respect his anonymity — so let’s call him BJ Einns and I was instantly transported back to Las Vegas circa 2007.

At the time I was working for American Express and was in sales and making more money than I knew what to do with.  My bills were being paid, I was a spender and didn’t have any remorse when swiping that debit card.  Zavy on the other hand was the complete opposite, she liked a good negotiation and that is putting it delicately.

It was our second to last day and we weren’t leaving until that night and decided to go for brunch at the delicious but disgustingly expensive buffet at The Wynn and then we were going to browse around the shops inside ritzy hotel and casino on the famous strip.  Following our gluttony and mimosa session at the buffet we wobbled to the shops like Chanel, Louie, McQueen — all my faves.  Then we stumbled into Dior and at the time I just j’adored Dior.  I’ll be classy and won’t drop the price, but let’s just say that Zavy nearly fainted and needed to sit down immediately…

TO BE CONTINUED…

Sing Like Dolly: Past Predicts Present & Future 🔮

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At two years of age, Dolly Parton was my idol.  In fact, I should have been the creator of an American Idol genre of entertainment, as my wide eyed vision of fame and the game was futuristic and quite unreal.

When I was younger, maybe eight, I asked my Mum to take me to a general “famous” audition to be a singer or an actress.  Aside from wanting to be just like my gorgeous Mum, I loved Dolly, Pasty, Marilyn, Edie and I can’t leave out, Mary Poppins .  For as far back as I can recall, I genuinely believed that being just like them, a celebrity, would be a hop, skip and a jump (all things I thoroughly enjoyed, on a side note).  But, I figured it would be a one stop, shop type of audition.  A decision, a yes or a no and I was certain that I had what it would take.  I loved and thrived on creativity and being famous seemed like the closest thing to being an artist — something I sought out to be when I grew up.

Being the glue to my confidence, my Mum agreed to take me when I was in fifth grade to audition to be “famous”.  Never once putting down or deflating my fleeting dream, she knew that I wanted to entertain, express myself, and connect somehow artistically.  Turns out, I cannot act or sing and I did not become a star, as we all know.

Coincidently, the first time I ever lied was to my best friend, which happened to be  around the same time I asked my Mum to take me to Hollywood.  I had told my best gal, Crystal that I sounded just like Mariah Carey and gullibly she believed me.  It was only briefly, until one day we were in the parking lot of an Astro Van dealership, circa 1993 as her parents shopped for a new family vehicle.  Boldly she asked me to sing for her. I was stunned.  I hadn’t lied before and I didn’t know how to get out of it.  She saw right through me.

By the time fifth grade rolled around, my Mum kept her promise, enrolled me in acting lessons, reached out to agents, the whole kit and caboodle.  If I would have wanted her to be a stage mom, she would have gladly signed up for the job to support me in all forms of the spectrum. The thing was and still is, I’m only good at being myself.

I had been a ham since the day I was born and my life had been documented via camcorder, by the lovely and lively ladies in my life.  It was the 1980’s and quite the BIG deal to lug around a ridiculously large camera, but they did it regardless in an effort to capture my life.

Soon after my Mum’s persistence in trying to aid my flighty dream, I realized I am absolutely rubbish at being anything other than myself.  I couldn’t pretend.  I was unable to follow anyone else’s script outside of my very own.

All the while, creativity and imagination was never lost upon me.  I was just highly unaware at the time of how to channel it; how to open the pages of my fate in the creative realm.  If I were to take it back to those years, I’d say I always struggled being phoney.

As a young adult, sans/prior to the evil cancer taking residency in my insides, I came to terms with reality and realized I had to work in order to have an apartment and the things I lusted after.  My goals had shifted, my viewpoint was more mature and University and Corporate America seemed like my only option.

Strangely, in the seemingly thick of my career, unbeknownst to me that it would end in a few short  years, my Mum randomly said that she hoped that one day I would get compensated  for being one hundred percent, Britt; for being my true self, and sharing my creative mind with the world.  Of course I agreed and appreciated her love and wildly, amazing support, but I knew for a fact that a talent I was not.  I knew how to write, dress, decorate and apply makeup like a pro; but what did that all really mean in the real world? — nothing.  I still had to earn a paycheck if I wanted to dress well and I knew singing and/or acting was out of the question.  Feeling stuck was an understatement, but I didn’t see any other way of being an “artist” and was certainly not up for the “starving” bit.  I just wasn’t cut out for it and proceeded to work towards my career climbing the ladder, never looking back down until I hit a glass ceiling.

When I became sick and inevitably had to give up my career, I felt that I had lost a piece of who I was.  It was all I had known for the past ten years.  I was well groomed and manicured to continue moving on up.  The nine to five taught me savvy business lessons, yet oppositely managed to cripple my creativity, to no fault of the Company, but otherwise due to the type of industry, numbers were all that mattered.

Once I gave up that part of my life, I began to gain my creative power back and realized that even if you do have a regular 9 to 5, it doesn’t mean you should ever give up on YOURSELF, or what makes YOU happy and ultimately charges your soulful creativity.

Being sick, my mind often wanders off to far away places. Not necessarily Neverland, but rather memories from as early as I can recall.  I think back to the little girl who thought anything was possible, who fearlessly shared her creative self without any doubt or resistance towards caring what others opinions were.

Many may see cancer as a death sentence, but I see it as a destiny.  A journey.  A life that I may not have otherwise had the complete freedom to be who I am to my absolute core.

Nostalgia is a funny thing and history is just as important as the present, as  well as  whatever the future may hold.  Without gagging with cheesedom, the best thing you can do for yourself is to be your own muse, celebrate your own sense of self and celebrity (not literally), but I know you are picking up what I am laying down.  Stay true, be you, as everything unites and comes full circle in the end.

I’m not here to find fame, fortune or anything of the sort.  I’m here to be myself in hopes that I can inspire someone, perhaps expand my social ability to connect with people on deeper levels and tell my story along the way.

As I work on a project, a walk down memory lane has been an interesting one (not sure of the ETA — probably forever).  Finding out what makes me, me, brings great hope to share that with anyone that feels they want to experience the wonderful life I have lived and will continue to live on my journey as a cancer survivor and fighter, amongst other things I am blessed with.

It may not be blogging as often as I’d liked to, although that is my New Year’s resolution, but life. Am I right?  

Follow along on @bestillmyheartblog on Instagram and Be Still My Heart Blog on Facebook for everyday updates on my happenings.

PS-  BUT MY GOAL IS TO BLOG WAY MORE, BECAUSE DUH!

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Love forever and talk soon,

Britt x 

Let Me Be Clear:

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When I was a child, maybe six or seven, I told my cousin that my favorite color was clear. He argued with me, exclaiming that clear was in fact not a color.   We pretty much grew up as brother and sister, loving and arguing as such. Rumor has it, I was an extremely bossy and demanding child, in which case not much has altered. Nevertheless, my beloved cousin and I made it through my dictator phase and recently reminisced over the phone about that brief, clear conversation during our adolescence. Cracking up at the transparent ridiculousness of it all, we ended the call. The urge to suddenly psycho analyze myself came over me.  

What was it about this quirky “favorite color” of mine and why would it make sense throughout the common theme of my life?

I was on it.

Clear.  Clear?  Clear!  Suddenly everything seemed clear as day.  Throughout my entire life I have craved clarity and even more so now that I am on a journey of finding my true self.  Understanding my story and the purpose of my set of circumstances, has become one of the driving forces that continues to keep up my resiliency.

Without going into too much detail, there were some befogging things about my youth.  An American with a British accent — Great Britt, my loved ones would call me.  My Mum was a teenager when she brought me into this world and just a short while later my biological father died at a very young age. Heartbreakingly, my Granddad soon followed, passing away from cancer that rapidly took him at forty-nine, leaving him to depart in a matter of months.

Cancer, son of a bitch.

Because I didn’t have a father in my younger years, before my Dad adopted me, my Granddad was my first love and his death was both devastating and confusing all at once. Many tragedies took place in the short amount of time I had been on earth and I didn’t realize at the time how much all of these events would shape me as a human.

Material items were abundantly gifted to me from the strong women that raised me; never leaving me without anything, especially love.  Even still, I always felt a pinch unclear about a lot.

Around the same time I had originally professed my favorite color to my cousin, I met my very best friend, Crystal.  Coincidence in her name? Perhaps. Or perhaps it was shimmering kismet.  My attraction to her from the very beginning was her ability to be completely transparent, even to this day.  She is the person that I can count on to tell me when I am making reckless decisions, or make me cry because she gives it to me straight instead of blowing smoke up my ass.  Tough love at its finest and as always, crystal clear.

Fast forward twenty plus years and my life’s mission is to expose myself; as open as the air.  Make the most out of myself, while welcoming people along for the ride.  I’m working everyday for a clear vision as to why I am here and a purpose as to how I have been blessed time and time again after coming so intensely close to death.

One thing is clear for certain; clarity comes from within, as well as the people you surround yourself with and exploring your core being. From there, life becomes as clear as the sunniest day you ever did see.
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Love,

Britt xx

PS:  Thanks for the memories, Aust.  Clear for life. xx

Almost Thirty: Memory Lane Part I

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Sometimes I get a little sentimental about the days before I was diagnosed with cancer. Often times it’s when I am relaxing my achy soul in a steaming bubble bath while Patsy Cline cradles my heart with her soothing songs in the background. Drifting into another lifetime, the thought of the long-standing side effects of chemotherapy are not lost upon me. “Chemo brain” is the common lingo used to describe the forgetfulness, where some cancer patients like myself are greatly impacted. That combined with the lethal pain management medication, it becomes easy to have left your mind in an unknown place.

If memory serves me right (pun intended), I used to be as sharp as a tack. A memory of an elephant and the ability to recount the tiniest of details was a knack I thought I’d never shake. Admittedly I see now that I took it for granted. Throughout my school days it was not unusual for me to retain everyone’s name in every single class, whether we spoke or not. It was a part of my charm, even perhaps making others feel special every so often. Maybe?

Then cancer entered my life. I started treatment and one of the initial impressions of chemotherapy, aside from the physical elements, was feeling detached from my mind and memory. Spacey would be an understatement of how I swiftly felt as my treatment proceeded, leaving me to barely recount short or long-term cognizance.

From there it trickled down and sanctioned me into thinking about where my life is presently and all of the hopes and dreams I still have for myself. The floodgates to the inevitable neatly seep in and take over, with mortality becoming the forefront of every  foggy thought. In the midst of the flood, something happens and like a life vest, my memories suddenly save me. It can be triggered by a text, a picture, a song or even a smell and all at once, just like that, I remember. I remember why I fight so damn hard everyday to beat this cancer, to reclaim my life. The memories provide the sunshine when the path is too dim to see what’s ahead. And soon, I will be able to say that I have 30 years full of magnificent memories and have been blessed with such a colorful life.

As my 30th Birthday approaches, I am going to take a trip down memory lane each day and share some of my life’s most precious moments on  Be Still My Heart Blog. Life should be celebrated and while I continue to kick cancer’s ass each day, I will always have my blog to look upon and reminisce, giving me the fuel to continue to fight for my future.

Enjoy this gem of Steve and I on a trip to California and check in as I look back through the years…x

Love, Britt x