Judging the Pain Away

In light of the tragedies that are occurring in our country, one mom encourages others to look past the tendency to judge.

The scene on social media that has become all too familiar lately played itself out again in the past few days. On the heels of a heinous event that defies what we have come to know and appreciate as humans – as Americans – we seem to forget what’s really needed to recover from devastation.

Empathy. Compassion. Love. Communication.

Instead, we’re using judgement to escape the pain.

Like many parents, I’ve had to have very difficult conversations with my children recently  surrounding gun violence, racism, sexual assault, the GLBTQ community, animal rights, the challenges of parenthood, and politics. I remember having the same types of conversations with my parents 30 years ago without the extra voices that social media can lend to our conversations. The voices that are the exact opposite of what I’m trying to teach my kids, no matter how old they grow.  Continue reading

Looking For Your Unwritten Letter

write that unwritten letter

Last week I published a blog post that was actually a letter to my ex-husband. When I wrote the letter, I had no idea it would get the response that it did. By the end of the week, I had numerous PageViews and emails about it. Many of you said that you also have a letter that needs to be written  so you can move on to bigger and better things.

Even though I wrote that letter to my ex-husband,  I have plenty more letters  in me that have yet to be written. I need to write to a friend regarding a stressful time we went through a few years ago that changed our relationship forever. I need to write to a few former bosses that I parted with on less-than-favorable terms. I need to write to my doctors about all the health crap I’ve gone through, even though they said, “everything is fine.”

Since I’ve gotten those emails and text messages from readers and friends, I’m pretty sure that you have a letter in you that needs to be written. And once that letter is written, it needs to be published in my new book.

I want you to write that letter and send it to me. I am working on a compilation of letters (that will become a book) to share with the world. Here’s how it will work:

  1. You write the letter and email it to me. In the heading of your letter you write Dear plus a description of what role they played in your life. For example, “Dear First Love” or “Dear Real Estate Agent.”
  2. Write what you want to say. Tell your story to that person in that letter.
  3. Don’t sign it. You don’t need a closing.
  4. Email it to me at toni [at] twillimedia [dot] com. In the subject of the email  type: MY LETTER.
  5. I will follow up with you when I receive the letter and may ask you a couple of questions about formatting, etc.

It’s just that simple!

I also understand that as badly as you may want to write that letter, you don’t know where to begin. All you have to do is send me an email telling me that. I will email you back some questions and we can go from there. Yes, my friend, I can even help you write the letter if you have difficulty putting your feelings on paper.

Writing the unwritten letter can be a harrowing experience. It takes some vulnerability on your part, but in the end, it is a very freeing experience. Even if the recipient never sees it. See what some commenters said on the original blog post:


So friend, what do you think? Are you willing to write that unwritten letter?

Cancer Remembered: Eating Healthy

This post is part of a month-long series on my cancer experience of 2013. They originally appeared on my blog at http://www.caringbridge.org.
I originally wrote this post last weekend, but I waited to post it until after Valentine’s Day. See how thoughtful I am?

So here’s the deal. When I started this journey, one of the best pieces of advice that I received was to eat healthier. And I’m here to tell you, that is correct.

Healthy eating gives you energy. Healthy eating boosts your immune system. Healthy eating leaves you feeling fuller, longer. And if you aren’t careful, healthy eating eliminates your cravings for unhealthy food.
I have the added benefit of also eating a low-iodine diet. But I will honestly tell you that doing the following allows me to feel amazing despite the 13 cm mediastinal mass in my thoracic region. (Yes, I have say something medical at least once per blog post.)
1. Start your day with green juice.
I typically don’t eat vegetables for breakfast, but I need at least 7-10 servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Green juice gives me at least 2-3 servings. That way, I can drink my vegetables in the mornings, eat a salad with my lunch, and eat another salad and at least two sides of vegetables with my dinner. I will also usually have one or two more cups of green juice throughout the day.
Green juice does look weird, but it tastes amazing. You can make it yourself by making smoothies, or you can buy it already prepared. My favorite green juice is made with broccoli, kale, spinach, kiwi, and green apples. See, everything is green…hence the name, “green juice.”
2. Make a modified, healthier version of the one junk food you love. For me, it is french fries. I am a french fry connoisseur.I have always known that fries are bad for you, but I was addicted. I have been known to get dinner from one place and get the fries from another, because of the quality.
So that I don’t give up fries completely, I now enjoy baked sweet potato fries. And they are so very tasty. One serving is more than enough for me. And I’ve gotten my fry fix.
3. Drink a lot of water. 8-10 glasses a day is not necessarily going to do it. You need to drink one-half of your body weight in ounces of water each day. If you weigh 160 lbs. then you need to drink at least 80 ounces of water. That’s a lot more than 8- 8 oz. glasses of water.
4. Take some kind of vitamin supplement. For most of us, a multivitamin will work. If you have certain medical issues though, you will need to take supplements for those issues. I have to take additional iron, vitamin A and beta-carotene supplements each day. If you have high cholesterol, you need to take fish oil. If you have high blood pressure, take garlic pills. If you need help with your digestive system, take acidophilus.
5. Whole grains are your friends. I like bread and rice. I have found that when I eat whole-grain bread and brown rice, I don’t have that stuffed. bloated feeling that I get when I eat white bread and white rice. Nutritionally speaking, I don’t know what the difference is, I just know I feel much better when I choose whole grains.
6. Exercise. I can’t to this one too much right now, but you should. Even if the only thing you can do is go for a brisk walk. Like the Nike commercial says, “Just Do It.”
7. Stop cooking. Well not really. Increase the amounts of raw vegetables you consume. Raw foods are nature’s goodness. If the ingredients have something you can’t pronounce (including the pesticides), don’t eat it.
8. Change where you shop. I have been loyal to Walmart, Kroger, and Albertson’s over the years. However, I get a better produce selection at Whole Foods, Central Market, and Sprout’s. I know those stores are more expensive and the type of produce I’m buying (organic) is more expensive, so I compromise. I buy the organic produce I need, and then I do the rest of my shopping at Aldi. Then I’ll also pick up a good deal or two at Tom Thumb if I use their “Just For You” app to do my shopping, so I do that. It is a bit more time consuming, but that time is well worth it if I’m eating cleaner and healthier.
9. Learn from the experts. One of the best healthy eating blogs I read is called, “Crazy, Sexy Kitchen.” (Thanks Amy!) The woman who writes is a cancer survivor and she is a clean eater. I can relate to her story and she is inspiring. Find someone in Blogland, or on tv, etc. who can inspire you.
Well, that’s all I’ve discovered for now. Do you have any healthy eating tips you’d like to share?