Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Telling Your Story....The Bigger Picture

The other day, a friend called me and asked me to talk to the mother of a newly diagnosed young woman.  Noelle was finishing up her homework and I was about to shut down for the night.  I told her that I would make the call, then we'd have our mommy and me time. I got up to walk away, but she said, "you can talk here Mommy." So, I sat back down and made the call. 

When I got off the phone, she came closer to me and said, "Mommy, don't you get tired telling that story? People ask you to tell it all the time and it's the same story every time..." I looked at her and thought about it for a moment, then I told her. "Well, it's not really my story anymore. This is the same story that many other women tell and for me, every time I tell mine, it's like sharing a piece of me, so that the person knows better, feels better and does better. Whenever I tell my story, if it gives someone hope, the feeling of comfort, love and makes people think and do something, then I have to keep telling it. Sometimes, Noelle, our story doesn't really just belong to us. It's for a bigger purpose. God just makes us the vehicle through which the story is told."  She looked at me and sat in silence as she digested it all for a few minutes.  I thought to myself, "she must think I'm freaking crazy." Then she said, "what do you mean vehicle?" I explained. After a long pause, she says, "okay, I get it." I have the feeling that's not the end of that conversation, but the beginning of many, many, more.
What I wanted her to understand was that sharing one's story isn't always just what it appears to be at first glance.  It's more about offering up a part of yourself so that you create a commonality that enables the other person to listen, open up, be inspired or be transformed.  It can be about connecting with someone else on a deeper level, letting them know and feel that you are with them, on their journey because you have walked in their shoes and that they are not alone. When you open your heart to someone, especially someone going through a challenging time, something beautiful happens between the receiver and the giver.  That thing can be inspiration or hope.  Too often, we keep our stories, "our golden nuggets" to ourselves. We think that someone might judge us, feel sorry for us, think differently about us, not understand or we think that our story doesn't matter.  Often times, sharing is like extending a hand or giving someone a hug through your words, and allows others to feel that you two are similar in more ways than you knew.
Nothing is more scary than feeling vulnerable or that you may have exposed too much of your heart, of yourself,, but if your purpose in doing so is to genuinely connect with the heart and soul of another, nothing is lost...

Friday, March 1, 2013


Today is day the that changed the rest of my life..and every year, it means something new to me...

Seven years ago today, on February 28, 2006 at 4:45 p.m., I was told, "you have breast cancer".... And everything fell apart. Although 32 years old, I still saw myself as the 15-year old from Liberia, landing at JFK airport in New York, alone and scared...I would be joined with my parents soon, but in those moments, I made up my mind to make something of myself, so I'd never feel as vulnerable and scared as I did that day...and I did.

18 years later, I had everything I thought defined success-nice house, car, office, paycheck and health, my beautiful baby, Noelle, confidence to spare and I was on top of the world. Oh and I was engaged to get married. Within a month of my diagnosis, all of the material things and my idea of being perfectly healthy, were memories. Within two months, bald and sick, I could barely recognize the person in the mirror. What does a cancer patient look like, I asked myself then. The answer was, like me. Like so many other young adults diagnosed with cancer, it was like sinking into a swirling abyss. One day, I decided to ask God for help. We talked. I made a promise to give my life to him in service if he would restore my spirit and make me a vessel for his work.

The next day...this all began. Today is my seventh year - my d-day (diagnosis) day...but from today on the letter 'd' will signify the word 'divine' because we never know where our circumstances will lead us to if we give up the idea of what WE want, open our ears and hearts, listen and act. If I hadn't been diagnosed, I would never had started Tigerlily, met so many wonderful people, served so many, learned so much and know all of you. My daughter and I may not have that survivors bond that ties us together...she went through it too...and life would not be as exciting, crazy, nuts, at times terrifying, but fulfilling as all get out. How serendipitous that today is the day that I start my ' Fearless' book tour! Personal challenges don't have to stop you, but could be a breakthrough. We owe it to future generations to use everything in our power, including the 'bad' stuff, to advocate for change.

The Bible and numerology experts say that the number 7 is a holy and magical one, symbolizing completion. In Hebrew, seven is shevah, which means to be full or satisfied. It symbolizes a higher awareness. Today, in this moment, I feel complete, full and satisfied. I have all that I need, great friends, family, community, including someone special, who is always there... It was different, yet reassuring to have him sit with me in the doctor's office recently ... Seven years ago, my almost life partner (yikes - lol!) was too busy to show up. I'm thankful for everything that happened that year though... even the things I didn't desire. They were all for my higher good. What a difference time and personal growth makes. I don't know what life will bring, but that doesn't matter. For today, for now, all is as it should be. Shevah is my word for the day. 
Love always, M