5 Things I’ve Learned from Surviving Cancer.

In my post on April 4th, I shared that I was diagnosed with cancer.  On July 26, 2016, I was given the all clear from doctor.  There was no cancer detected in my PET scan, and the chemo was officially over.  The previous 4-5 months seemed like a really bad dream, and I was finally waking up.  As I write this, I am only a few months away from the anniversary of my diagnosis.  I can’t believe almost a full year has passed since this life changing experience.  So what have I learned from this experience?

  1.  Take nothing for granted.  While in treatment, I could not eat very many foods that were raw.  This included sushi and salad.  I never knew I like salad so much.
  2. It is never too late to do what you want.  There is no benefit to putting off working for you want in life.  Whether it is as small as trying a new food or changing careers, the time is now.
  3. Nothing is like your inner circle.  Friends and Family.  These two words go together in our modern vernacular.  And they are usually cited on lists of things we are grateful for.  However, something like this makes you really aware of who is in that inner circle.  The people who stick by you and are willing to see the hard to see are those who matter.  These are the people who you already know will be there for the bad, so they will definitely be there for the good.
  4. Always listen to your body.  I think that in this day and age, people don’t want to go to the doctor for a variety of reasons; fear of seeming like a hypochondriac, not wanting to pay the copay, lack of time or it may not seem important enough to go.  But the truth is, is that you should never ignore either a chronic pain/sickness or persistent illness.  It could literally save your life.
  5. The small things are the best things.  In a world full of turmoil, one can take comfort in the small things that happen every day.  There is something about taking pleasure in the new drink at Starbucks or just having a casual dinner with family.  While I was laying in bed, sick from the chemo, I would not think about how to solve world hunger.  I would think about how nice it would be to go to Starbucks and order a latte or to go back to yoga.  These things are what cause “normalcy” in our lives.  They may seem unimportant compared to bigger, more global issues.  But I assure you, in that state, they become very, very important.  And to this day, they are still very important.  I acknowledge every time how lucky I am to be able to enjoy the small things.

I wish I didn’t have to get cancer to realize these things.  If I have found any silver lining in this really bad cloud, it is the realization that I wasn’t paying attention.  My life is beautiful and I didn’t realize how beautiful.  But I do now.

Beautiful California

For as long as I can remember, I’ve preferred the bright lights of the big city.  However, with my recent illness, I’ve learned to appreciate more.  In May, I had the pleasure of taking a brief trip up the coast of California.  We drove from Los Angeles to Monterey.  And of course, we stopped along the way to take in the sites.  Perhaps one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen is the Pacific Coastline.  Also, since getting sick, I was not able to get out and shoot like I used to.  This trip was a perfect opportunity to pull out my trusty Nikon and document.  Here are some of the sites from Ventura, Morro Bay, and Big Sur.

It is an absolutely breathtaking trip to take if you ever get the chance.

Ventura…

Morro Bay…

Big Sur…

Must Listen: Nomads by Love & a .38

nomads-coverart

While so many were flocking to Coachella this weekend, I was home.  And I finally got to dig into the newest album from one of my favorite L.A. bands; Love and a .38.  First, a little love.  I first discovered this band about 3 years ago by accident.  I was at a show for the now defunct Purple Melon.  Love and a .38 was the band before them.  They are rock and roll in all the best ways, and I was hooked.  Now, finally, we have a full length album full of all new songs.  

Every song is fantastic.  And it was worth the wait.  They are Independent by choice, which just adds to what they produce for themselves, and of course, the fans.  They are easy to love for many reasons.  But mostly because the love their fans so much, and they sound amazing.

Nomads could easily rival any rock album in your collection.  Some of my favorite songs are Oh My God (the first single), Abre Las Ojos and Holy War.  But how can you pick just one, when every single one will rock your face off?

Check out the video for Oh My God below.

Oh My God from Love and a .38

 

Gonna Get a Little Personal

Hello Everyone…

When originally set up, this blog was supposed to be a light and fun take on what I encounter on trips or music that I love.  But it’s gonna get personal.

Normally, we go through our lives without much to worry about. I know I did. My biggest concern was when I was going to Vegas next or the next time Tom Keifer would be in town (huge Cinderella fan). My life was like this: yoga and TRX regularly, clean eating, busy at work, and I had just started training for a half marathon in November. Then, in an instant, everything changed.

It all started with a stomach ache. I was feeling tired lately, but I attributed it to the 2 month Tarantino retrospective that was every Friday at midnight. Then, came the fever, so I thought it was just a stomach flu. Then, before I knew it, I was running a temperature and had the severe stomach ache for 10 days. So, to the ER I went. Because of the temperature, I was admitted and pumped full of antibiotics. After 3 days, I felt better so they discharged me. After an awesome trip to Vegas, the pain came back, along with some other fun stuff. After 5 days of pain and no food and very little fluids, back to the hospital I went. I was still seeing 2 specialists from my first visit so they started more testing. This time I was not going anywhere without a diagnosis. And I got one.

I was diagnosed with lymphoma. In an instant it felt like nothing would be the same. And of course, I was in pure denial. This can’t be. I was healthy. I exercised. I ate right. Healthy people don’t just get sick. Unfortunately, cancer doesn’t care about all that. So there it is…I have cancer.

I have already had my first chemo treatment. And I am currently grappling with my hair falling out. But alas, there is a silver lining. I am very lucky. The kind I have is very treatable and there is an excellent prognosis. I’m not going anywhere yet. I will finish treatment in late summer and I am definitely counting down. I’m grateful for my great doctors and the immense support of my family and friends. I realize not everyone has that. Gratitude keeps the anger and sadness of my illness at bay. And when this is all over, I’ll begin training again for the half marathon.  This is just a detour.

I’m sorry to put it all out there, but I had to get it out there. Thanks for reading all the way to the end. This blog has transformed into something about life in general. I will still post about the usual food, music, etc…just with some real life in between possibly.  Something like this tends to offer a different perspective on the world.

 

Los Angeles Hike:  Trail to Jim Morrison’s cave

Los Angeles is famous for lots of things. And one of those things is the Laurel Canyon music scene of the 60s and 70s.  One of the most legendary products of this was Jim Morrison. He was known for his talent and his eccentricities. One of his escapes was a cave high above Malibu. For a long time, it was kind of a secret. But a secret no longer, with the prominence of social media.  If you want to know where it is, you need to figure it out. That’s half the fun 😉

As a music fan, it was an incredible experience. Although this cave is far from Laurel Canyon, you can still feel that Laurel Canyon spirit. I highly recommend doing this.  It’s an easy hike to a cool end point.  

    
   

It’s Been Too Long

As I logged in to this site this morning, I noticed it had been almost 2 months since my last post. So a brief check in…

Since my last post, I’ve started a regular yoga practice.  I have also continued on my journey of a healthier lifestyle. Being more mindful of the world around me and of myself has proved to be the best thing I’ve ever done. 

I’ve learned the value of taking care of myself. When you take care of yourself, you naturally start to take care of your bubble in the world. 

Things that I have been doing, mindfully, to take better care run the spectrum of little to big. Put together, it’s a lot. In the past 2 months, I’ve made an even lie serious effort in using less plastic. Sometimes, convenience gets the best of me.  But being more mindful of the plastic I use contributes to using less.  Also, starting a regular yoga practice has caused me to become more mindful of what goes into my body. This leads to a healthier, happier and more serene me.  

Whatever one decides to do in the positive direction is a step in the right direction. Everyone deserves happiness.  

Farmer’s Markets:  Support Local Farms

Recently, the Farm-to-Table movement has gained some traction.  Restaurants like Pedalers Fork and food trucks like Guerilla Tacos have been making the farm-to-table concept more accessible across Los Angeles.  However, you don’t need to live in a big city to experience farm-to-table eating. All you need is a farmer’s market. 

I’m extremely grateful that I have one of the best farmer’s markets within 20 miles. Every Sunday, I make my way to The Hollywood Farmer’s Market. With my market basket and 20 bucks in hand, I go from tent to tent, looking for the best produce Southern California has to offer.  

Today, I came upon some great looking strawberries. Since we are almost out of strawberry season, I gladly scooped them up. Usually, I buy 3 baskets, and freeze 2 baskets and eat the other basket fresh.  I asked the farmer if we were approaching the end of season.  Luckily, they have one more harvest.  I mentioned that it’s the saddest time of year; when strawberries are out of season. He mentioned that it is for them too because that’s where the money is; selling berries. 

Now I was doubly sad. And it reminded me of a point in The a Third Plate by Dan Barber. To truly embrace the farm-to-table concept, we cannot dictate as the consumer what the farmers have to offer at the Farmer’s Market.  At some point, consumers became the boss.  Each farm should be able to produce what is best for their farm and the land they work.  This is why I like to support local farms, to give this movement a chance.  This is also why I like to have no set idea of what I will buy. Because if I lock myself into a pre designated list, I might miss out on the offerings that may not be as popular. And if everyone bought what the farmer wants to sell, we can start to turn this thing around. 

Must Listen: Panic! At The Disco – Too Weird To Live, Too Rare To Die!  

One of my favorite albums of late has been 2013’s Too Weird To Live, Too Rare To Die! from Panic! At The Disco.  P!ATD first came onto my radar with 2005’s A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out.  And I’ve loved them since then.  But, alas, much has changed since their 2005 debut.  The major change is that the leader of the band, the strikingly handsome Brendon Urie, is the only original member of the band left.  And while this could be a sign the band just isn’t as good, this just isn’t the case.  Too Weird To Live, Too Rare To Die! is just sooo good.  Spencer Smith, the original drummer, is still featured on this album (he has since left the band).  However, this is really a Brendon album.  

So what is so great about it, you ask?  Despite the fact that it includes singles Miss Jackson and This Is Gospel, it also includes the pop perfection of the song Vegas Lights.  It’s probably my favorite on the album.  The bottom line is that start to finish, this is a first rate pop album.  It really proves that music doesn’t need to be depressing to get the point across.  Although this album is 2 years old, it hasn’t lost its freshness.  At least to me it hasn’t!  So don’t take life too seriously, have fun and buy this now! 

Cruelty Free: LUSH Cosmetics

In this crazy world of convenience, we often time get caught up on what is in front of us.  We are less likely to seek out what is better and more likely to seek out what is the most convenient.  I, myself, have been a victim of the cult of convenience.  Ok, I’ll stop using that word!  This is especially true for our cosmetics and toiletries.  I know that I got in a rut of buying a popular drugstore brand because I could get it anywhere.  If I forgot it at home while traveling, no worries, because I can get it anywhere.  However, what I managed to push out of my mind is that those products were tested on animals.  And before I knew it; my cabinets and makeup bag were filled with products that were tested on living, breathing beings.  Not my cup of tea, and it shouldn’t be yours either.

As I was having this epiphany, in walks the savior, LUSH Cosmetics.  Their products are 100% Cruelty Free and Vegetarian.  They are also keen on naked and recycled packaging.  They are also ethical buyers and their products are handmade.  Why is this company so important?  They are important because they believe in what every company should believe in.  For most of your cosmetic needs, they have you covered.  They have everything for hair care, skin care, bath bombs, bubble bars, deodorant, the list goes on.  I have to say that I am a proud Lushie, and it just makes me feel good.

Here is a list of some of my favorite items you could add to your first LUSH Haul.

1.  Jumping Juniper Shampoo Bar – $10.95 – This lasts forever.  Especially if you don’t have super long hair.

2.  Veganese Conditioner – $19.95 for the 8.4oz container – One of their lighter conditioners.

3.  Charity Pot – $6.95 for the small size.  This is my favorite lotion of theirs.  Plus part of the proceeds goes to charity.

4.  Fresh face mask – $6.95 – The best for my sensitive and acne prone skin is Cosmetic Warrior.  Don’t let the garlic scare you.

5.  Bath Bombs – $5-$12

*Avobath – Has a bit of a citrusy smell

*Big Blue – Just think ocean

*Dragon’s Egg – Citrus smelling goodness with some sparkle

*Tisty Tosty – Floral.  One of my favorites.

*Honey Bee – Toffee smelling goodness.  Combine with Sunnyside.

6.  Bubble Bars (most are good for 2 or more uses) – $6-$12

*Sunnyside – Citrusy. Sparkly. Combine with Big Blue and it creates a “Mermaid Bath”

*Amandopando – Floral and gorgeous.  Combine with Avobath (fresh) or Tisty Tosty (luxurious).

*Brightside – Another citrusy one.  I usually combine this one with Dragon’s Egg for a morning bath.

This is definitely a company one can get behind.  Even if you don’t incorporate LUSH products into your every day, at least think of them when you have to give someone a special gift that you can feel good about.  I’ve included their website below.

www.lushusa.com

HAVE FUN!!!!!

LUSH HAUL - BATH BOMBS

LUSH HAUL – BATH BOMBS

LUSH HAUL - BUBBLE BARS

LUSH HAUL – BUBBLE BARS

Waste Free, Cruelty Free, Everything Free

I posted a couple months ago about my quest to become waste free.  Since then, I’ve had to buy a bigger recycling bin.  I’ve been diligent about recycling what I can and have even attempted to up cycle things like yogurt containers (I still haven’t found a use for those, but still thinking).  I’ve also been diligent about buying in bulk and bringing my own coffee in the morning.  

Becoming more conscious about the world around me has caused a realization of sorts.  Does it end at simply reducing waste?  Or is that only a singular way to help the environment?  How else could I improve my environment? 

That brings me to the issue of Cruelty Free.  I used to be one of those idealistic kids passing out “Meat is Murder” flyers in Berkeley.  I ate at vegetarian restaurants and protested the circus.  That was me.  However, I didn’t understand a damn thing back then.  Now, roughly 10 years later, that grown up version of myself exists.  And I’ve learned to take a different approach.  

Cruelty Free isn’t just about going vegetarian.  It is about compassion.  The compassion to care about where your stuff comes from.  This is why I pay double the price for ground beef.  I prefer to buy meats that have been humanely grown and slaughtered.  It’s not just meat, it’s an animal who gave its life so I could have dinner.  Now that’s just meat.  There is a much harder thing to control than buying ethically sourced meat.  

Animal Testing.  Something that people rarely think about.  And over the years, I’ve slowly become less diligent about buying cruelty free.  But I just can’t continue.  I must make a change in how I spend my dollars.  Buying cruelty free products is definitely more expensive, but it makes me feel better.  In today’s age of consumerism, we are able to send a message with our dollars.  And I want my dollars to go to companies who are ethical.  From time to time, I will start to highlight products/brands that are ethical companies.  

Until then….