A dear friend of mine, someone who I connect with at a soul level, told me to keep writing….every thought, every emotion. Well, I’m not sure if can get everything down as these thoughts and emotions run deep, but I do find it therapeutic to journal the journey.
I’m not the one with cancer. It’s something that should feel like a relief, yet it’s quite the contrary. I feel guilty at times for the toll it’s taking on me. This is my husband – he needs the love and support, yet I feel like a walking lunatic many days. Plain and simple, it’s unconditional love. Like my children, he is a part of me. He owns a large portion of my heart and soul. I have that longing to do anything to help and comfort him through this process, yet I am helpless. Prayers, pleads, bargains – all the stuff you never imagine yourself doing as an adult with the ONE in charge, they are real. Always wanting and trying to control things has finally proven to be pointless. I have zero control and no choice in any of this. There it is, that darn lesson that has been hitting me over the head ever since I can remember.
Any time I have taken my husband for granted in the past 11 years is now a regret. Sometimes it takes something big to realize how much you really have. Those little external things that tend to rile me up just don’t have the same power anymore. Nothing holds the same importance as my family. Mama Bear here has two kids trying to make sense of all this too. Mama knows that this experience has changed us all forever. The power now is in gratitude, hope and faith.
And boy have people surprised me. The love and support have been surreal. True colors are blinding. I am in tears every time I get a message from someone just checking on us – offering unconditional support. And then there are the jerks- they are real too, but you know what? They have their own crap. Lord knows I can be a jerk too. We humans have the tendency to get stuck in our own mud and forget that our brothers and sisters are often in four wheel drive themselves.
As much as I would like for the world to pause so we can just take this all in, it doesn’t. Responsibilities are real as ever, but so is the strength we have been blessed with. At the age of 43, I finally feel like a real grown up, experiencing the real world, thankfully surrounded by real, unconditional love.
Two weeks ago we heard the dreaded words, “It’s prostate cancer.” Over the last 14 days we continued the waiting game that had already been going on for what felt like an eternity.
It started with elevated PSA levels in January. After my incessant nagging and finally a call from the matriarch, Judy (yes, I pulled out the big guns and “told on” Brien to his Mom), Brien scheduled the Free PSA test. There was a 2 week waiting period for those results. A level of 7, prompted the scheduling of a biopsy – which was yet another 2 week waiting period. Brien had the biopsy and you guessed it, we had to wait another 2 weeks for the results. On May 1, we learned of the prostate cancer.
So here we are, two weeks later again. Today’s appointment was to learn what the scans showed….did the cancer spread or was it contained to the prostate?
We are beyond blessed to learn it has not spread. Although there is a good amount of cancer in the prostate, it is localized to this gland and can be removed.
And so, another waiting period begins. This time we wait for the scheduling of surgery. Although today’s results left us in another whirlwind of emotions, I know one thing….my husband has a positive prognosis or as the doctor put it, “the results are favorable.” As usual, my mind goes to the big picture of things – but this time it goes to envisioning him walking our daughter down the aisle, giving our son parenting tips, and holding my hand for many, many years to come.
We are blessed. #Transcend Cancer
There is no room for hate….period. Hate is destructive, hate is a cancer in and of itself. Hate is a word we don’t even allow our kids to use in the home. Hate is contempt of the heart.
I know that I write this in the early stages of Brien’s diagnosis, but we have decided to welcome this journey as a way to transcend. This is not something we are looking to fight because when you fight you have a 50/50 chance to either win or loose. If we are open to growth, we never loose. A dear friend of mine and owner of New Direction Coaching, Linda McCarthy reminded me that everything that comes into our lives, comes to serve us. Everything we are faced with is an opportunity to expand our soul.
So do I have moments of anger about cancer? Absolutely! But I can be angry without hate. Brien and I have made a decision that we would rather Transcend Cancer, than fight cancer. We are not going to win or loose, we are going to grow. Will you join us in our journey to Transcend Cancer?
Huge thank you to Bill Windish at Gecko Grafix for the awesome logo.
I write this in blog format because I figure if you take the time to click on and read the blog, we are likely close enough for this to matter. Some have asked, “Why this way? I was shocked you shared via a blog.” Here’s my answer to that….there are so many out there who I know care and who I know will join us in prayer. I simply don’t have the energy to call or text every person I know who will join us on this journey. I believe in the power of positive, collective energy as well as prayer – so anyone taking this journey with us with those intentions is welcome and appreciated.
We know Brien has cancer. We know the doctor feels 99% confident that it has not spread. Brien is having the scans and tests to confirm that. If the doctor is right (and I believe he is), this cancer can be cured.
We are holding on to that and we are loving and supporting Brien every step of the way.
Thank you for all the kind comments on my previous blog. Thank you for the array of love and support on the FB post. Thank you for the private messages, texts and phone calls. Thank you for all of the advice. Thank you to my amazing neighbor for marching over here with a homemade banana bread, giving me a hug and letting me cry. Thank you for walking with us and not judging us for our method of communicating or handling this.
We feel your love and support. Brien is ridiculously strong right now. I know he will #TrasnscendCancer.
In this journey of life everything can change in an instant.
One minute you can be fretting about the most insignificant stuff like if the kids cleaned their rooms and the next minute be hit with life-changing news.
Today we found out that my husband has prostate cancer. Right now, the only thing that matters is him and our family.
My husband is the bravest, strongest person I know and would never ask for anything from anybody. And so in this moment where I don’t know if I’m going or coming, I find myself doing something I’m not comfortable doing either and that is asking you for something. I ask you, whoever is reading this, for support, love and prayers. From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you.
Teaching Yoga brings me joy. It is a light in my world that is filled by helping others and connecting with people from a very vulnerable place. Teaching has helped me grow in ways that my personal Yoga practice could not. Here are the top 10 lessons I’ve learned along the way:
- Our mood and energy penetrate the class. Regardless of how hard we try to put on our “teaching hats” – students can feel where we are at spiritually and emotionally.
- Yoga Groupies are real. These individuals latch on to teachers and create cliques. These folks put teachers on pedestals but will just as easily kick them down and replace them with the new “flavor of the month.”
- We teachers need to beware of the Groupies and avoid involvement at all costs. Even when we are on the pedestals.
- We gain just as much from teaching a class as students do from attending.
- Teaching a class is therapeutic and can turn the day around in an instant.
- Not all students are “friends”. It is ok to have a teacher/student relationship and set proper boundaries accordingly.
- Real, genuine connections can be made in the Yoga room – but it must come from an authentic place.
- Many teachers compete with each other. Even if we want nothing to do with it and know this is the farthest thing from what yoga should be about – it is real, and very unhealthy.
- Expectations are high of teachers. Because we offer guidance during the hour of class, we are often expected to be saints in every area at all times.
- We are not saints and we are not perfect. We are human beings experiencing the same ups and downs of life as everyone else.
I love teaching. I love the lessons it has taught me. I love each person who reads this and understands it is coming from a wide open space. Truth is important. I find it to be a necessity to always live and speak the truth.
Have you ever been wronged? Of course you have, it’s part of the human experience. Since we’ve all been there, we all know what it feels like – the pain, the anger, the helplessness. It’s what we decide to do with it that defines our character. It’s what we decide to do with it that determines whether it will hurt us or ultimately help us grow.
Integrity can be a bitch. That north pointing moral compass is a tricky thing to manage. We must always discern just how far we are willing to go for what is right. My spirit animal is a bear. I have that relentless fighter in me – the one that has a very hard time turning a blind eye to injustice. This can be a curse or a blessing, depending on how it is used. I’ve always know that things might be easier if I just didn’t give a damn. But that’s just not who I am. I do give a damn. That probably will never change.
And so here I am – on the other side of a string of situations that rattled me to my core. I was faced with matters that tarnished my soul and I was slowly transforming into someone I didn’t want to be. Feeling like an alien in my own skin, I slowly started unraveling – I didn’t know how to come back. So I prayed….. for direction, for wisdom for a sign – any sign!
The sign came, the wisdom came. Like a fast moving roller coaster, I started putting one foot in front of the other. My bear came out, and I fought for what I knew to be right. On the surface, it may look like I lost. The career that defined so much of my life is over. The people and places that I loved, suddenly swept away. Income, gone. I’m in the middle of what feels like a bipolar emotional episode, yet there is one thing that is very clear; I did the right thing, so I won.
Through all these crazy emotions, I choose peace. I choose love. I choose light. Do I still feel anger and sadness? Absolutely. But it’s the vengeance and retaliation that I’m steering clear of because it is THESE things that take me from winning to loosing.
So I’m ready to scream from the top of a mountain; I WIN! My integrity is something no one can take away. And you know what? I am one blessed girl. I have friends filling me up with more support and love than I thought humanly possible. I have a family holding my hand as I journey on and find my new way. I have a soul that is clearing out the tarnish and reconnecting with my truth.
And so to close this chapter, I send love & light to my former employer. I send out to the Universe an open heart for what is yet to come. I send the most sincere and humble thank you to my friends and family.
It is time for the bear to hibernate now and transcend the bullshit. It is time for this girl to be free.
There is nothing like a mother’s love. One can’t begin to comprehend this statement until they have experienced it themselves. It’s one thing to know that your mother loves you, it’s a given in most circumstances. She is the first one to care for you – your first security blanket. She is the one that does her best to shield you from all harm. As children, and even as adults in some situations, we can take this love for granted. When we receive something so freely without having to work for it at all, it can be easy to just assume it and all of its’ unconditional glory. But once you become a mother, once you take on this selfless role, you truly understand. You finally appreciate all of the sacrifices (that don’t really feel like sacrifices) – and the joy, and the tears, and the pride and the pain and the…….well, true love that comes from only a mother.
My mother started the journey of motherhood at a very young age. I’ve always been in awe of how much she knew about life and love considering she dove into this caretaking role right out of high school. She and my dad met at the ripe ol’ ages of 18 & 19, respectively. Within just a few months, they were married and within the year, my oldest brother was born. It’s hard for me to imagine what that must have been like. That first year after high school for me was all about partying in Cancun, traveling the country, meeting new people and living free as a bird. At the same point in her life, my mama was settling into motherhood and working as a nurse – two of the most selfless acts on the planet. Although I wasn’t that first child she nurtured, I am 100% confident she did it with the same grace and ease she still demonstrates with her own grandchildren.
Mom & Dad went on to have a second boy just 15 months after the first. Two toddlers, working hard to get by, newly married and navigating life as an adult all before the age of 21. If this doesn’t deserve the top of the respect scale, I don’t know what does. There are plenty of moms out there who get married and have children young, and my hat goes off to all who are brave enough to do it. In the case of my Mama, it was a perfect success; not a teenage tragedy. You see, my Mom didn’t drink or do drugs, or later try to take the road to self discovery by abandoning her family. No, my mom stayed the course. My mother has remained true to her purpose every step of the way. 48 years later, she still doesn’t drink or do drugs, she is still married to my father and she is still that nurturing mother to all 3 children, 9 grandchildren and 6 great-grandchildren. She is beyond my mother, she is my hero.
I remember wanting her undivided attention all the time as a kid. I would talk endlessly hour upon hour, never once doubting if she was listening. I was a shy child; one that had a hard time looking at the waitress to order my own food in a restaurant. I didn’t (and still don’t) like to work my way into conversation. It is more common for me to listen and observe than to fight for the floor to speak. It was a different story with my Mama though. I never had to “fight for the floor”. She always gave me her ear. It was safe for me to speak freely to her. I told my Mom a lot, especially during the teenage years. I’m a sensitive soul so I feel things deeply. My Mom was always that safe person I could go to with anything bothering me. If someone hurt me, that bear in her would come out, sure – but she consistently taught me to be the bigger person. Her usual words of advice were; “you just be nice and pray for them.” Those words ring in my ears to this day every time I am hurt by someone.
My Mama has greater insight than anyone I know. She is really good at seeing situations deeper than face value. She is superb at understanding the “why” behind circumstances. I like to believe that I carry some of the same skills now as an adult. After a lifetime of one-on-one coaching from her, I’m pretty sure I picked up some golden tactics in this department.
Growing up, I was no stranger to bullying. I was small, shy and somewhat socially awkward. I lived in Santa Fe, NM and was surrounded by the rough crowd. I did not participate in teasing others or ganging up on the outcast, so in some circumstances, I became that recipient of such things. There were many days I would come home in tears – but they never lasted long because Mom would hug me in her lap, run her fingers through my hair and say things like; “They must be really unhappy to treat someone like that. Who knows what is going on in their home. I bet they could use some kindness. Just pray for them.” And just like that, my world was safe and I learned to transform anger and pain into empathy and compassion.
Mom makes the best homemade soup in the world. (Here is my shameless plug to get her to make me a pot when I’m home for Christmas this year). She will argue to no end that her soup is not as good as her mother’s soup, but I beg to differ (sorry, Grandma in Heaven, but you taught your daughter too well). My mom has such ease in the kitchen. She cooks, she sings, she doesn’t have an ounce of expectation for anyone to help her. The entire family can be sitting around watching football (myself excluded since I boycott the sport) – and she will be off in the kitchen happily preparing food for her family and guests. When all is said and done, she just as happily cleans up while everyone gets back to their merriment. I’ve never once seen or heard her complain about this arrangement.
My mother describes herself as a simple person and I love that about her. She finds delight in beautiful sunsets, pretty flowers and good books. Some of my fondest memories with her include picking pinon in the beautiful hills surrounding her hometown of Las Vegas, NM, sitting on her beloved swing in the backyard reading side by side, and…are you ready for it, brace yourself for this flashback – Jazzercise. That’s right. I loved going to Jazzercise with my Mama. I thought it was the coolest thing in the world being next to my life role model while she got her groove on to Casey Kasem’s Top 40 in her leotard and sweatbands. My mom has a musical knack – both in singing and dancing and she is still a fitness fanatic to this day. I can assuredly attribute my passions for fitness and music to my Dancing Queen mama.
If there ever was anyone who believed in me, who stood by my side through every important moment both good and bad – it is my Mother. Every try-out as a kid, she was there. Every break-up with a boyfriend, she caressed my heart. Every game I cheered at (even the Aloha Bowl in Hawaii), she was there cheering me on. Every time I moved, she helped unpack. Every time I cried, she made it better. Every time I laughed, she laughed with me. Every tantrum I threw, she loved me through. Every mistake I made, she understood and guided me to correct. There is not one time in my life, that my Mama has not been readily available to hold my hand and my heart. And now as an adult, well – I’m passed the try-outs and games, and as a happily married mother of two, I see no moves or break-ups remaining for me. But I know this for sure; she is still there for the laughs, still standing by for the adult-onset tantrums, and would drop everything to be here if I simply asked. She would do the same for my two brothers, any of our children and her siblings. Hands down, Rebecca Louise Castellano gets the gold medal for the most family-oriented person on earth. Here’s to you Mom!
Today is this beautiful woman’s birthday and she deserves to be honored. If I could, I would give her Mother a single rose to thank her for bringing this angel to us. I finally realize how deep the well of a mother’s love is. God showed me His unconditional love from the moment I was born, in the form of my mother. I am everything I am, because she loves me.
Happy Birthday Mama. You truly are the wind beneath my wings.
Check out my short interview for Sedona Yoga Festival. Planning on going? Use my name (Denise) as your promo code and receive 10% off!
Click here to view: YogiRunner Video Interview
For 20-years, running has been my primary source of fitness and I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know quite a few runners along the way. My connections have ranged from deep rooted friendships that developed through time on the pavement, to the camaraderie of local running clubs, to most recently coaching a middle school Cross Country team. My time in the laced up shoes has afforded me a unique opportunity to witness some very common characteristics we runners seem to share. I don’t claim to offer any hard science behind my observations, but something tells me that most of my fellow runners (or lovers of runners) will agree that we runners share some common threads that are undeniable.
- We are deep thinkers. We analyze things to pieces. Spend time with a runner and you will doubtfully be talking about sports or the weather. We like to get down to the root of topics and ideas.
- We are perfectionists. Whatever we do, we try to do right. We don’t tend to take the path of least resistance but rather take all steps necessary to reach 100% every time.
- We are introverts. We like solitude and are perfectly ok with being alone with our thoughts for long periods of time.
- We are goal oriented. We like to have something to aim for. Whether it be our next PR, completing new mileage heights or just achieving the accomplishment of our next race – we gain satisfaction from some type of “Everest.”
- We are intrinsically competitive. We like to succeed and due to our introverted, perfectionist natures – we prefer a sport where we rely only on ourselves to reach our 100%.
- We are sensitive souls. We think a lot, therefore we feel a lot. We pick up on the energy of others very easily and tend to internalize situations that may have nothing to do with us.
- We are acutely aware of our surroundings. We know a car is coming before it can be seen or even heard. We inherently know if we need to clear the path for an oncoming visitor. We can even sense the mood of fellow runners we bypass on the roads.
- We are hard on ourselves. How can we not be when we are constantly thinking, analyzing, setting goals and competing with our last peak?
- We are full of passion. We love deeply. We work hard. We play hard.
- We are committed. We are not fair weathered athletes, employees or friends. When we are in, we are fully in. This is a group you can count on.
In a nutshell, we runners are a unique breed. Some understand us, some don’t. Some think we are crazy, some admire our tenacity. I for one couldn’t imagine life any other way. Running is part of my fiber. It has helped mold me into the person I am today.
I now have the joy of witnessing my son take on the running persona, and I have to tell you – I’m one proud mama. It brings me great joy to know that he is on a journey that will help him understand who he is and where he is going.
It’s taken some time for me to recognize the common threads, but I’ve definitely had a glimpse at the runner uncovered.