Blogging on The Brightside

"I think I can. I think I can. I think I can." -The Little Engine That Could

The most radical act anyone can commit is to be happy.

–Robin Williams, Patch AdamsBuzLaVyCYAAgy1v


While the loss of Robin Williams is tragic, we must remember the innumerable lessons in happiness, cheer, comedy, and laughter that he taught to us, sometimes, as in Dead Poets Society, quite literally.  He played some of the most iconic characters to ever have touched our hearts, like Peter Pan who taught us to never grow up, and Patch Adams, for whom laughter was the best medicine.  Mrs. Doubtfire exemplified that our parents will always be there for us, but even Genie couldn’t bring people back from the dead.

“The most radical act anyone can commit is to be happy.”  And I hope that you delight in stirring glee in someone else’s heart by making them smile, and laugh, and roll their eyes because, in his words,  “you’re only given a little of madness.  You must not lose it.”




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“Today we fight. Tomorrow we fight. The day after, we fight. And if this disease plans on whipping us, it better bring a lunch, ’cause it’s gonna have a long day doing it.”

— Jim Beaver, Life’s That Way: A Memoir

I’m sure I could come across a dozen different quotes about cancer. I could find quotes based upon survival, perseverance, hardship, struggle, overcoming obstacles. They would all work out just fine. But sometimes, you just need to spell it out. No flowery words, no over-the-top metaphors. Plain and simple.

Individuals who have fought or continue to fight are the strongest people I have ever had the privilege of knowing. They make the impossible happen everyday. They get out of bed when their body physically holds them back. They go to work, they raise children, they support their families. They love as deeply as ever and savor every moment of life they have. They are miraculous and beautiful.

Everyone is affected by cancer in some way. Everyone has someone who has felt its wrath. It’s time that we rose up as one and said enough is enough and mean it.

To those in the fight… to those survivors…

To the supporters and the loved ones, the caregivers and those left behind…

Put on your ass-kicking boots, tie ’em up tight, and give it your all.

Cancer won’t give up without a fight, and neither should we.

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“We all owe everyone for everything that happens in our lives. But it’s not owing like a debt to one person–it’s really that we owe everyone for everything. Our whole lives can change in an instant–so each person that keeps that from happening, no matter how small a role they play, is also responsible for all of it. Just by giving friendship and love, you keep the people around you from giving up–and each expression of friendship or love may be the one that makes all the difference.”

— Mary Anne Schwalbe

This quote, stolen from The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe, seemed an excellent reminder of how much we depend upon other people.

Before any of you get bent out of shape as I know I might have a couple years ago, I remind you that needing people is part of the human experience. It is not a weakness to depend upon others, nor is it something you can escape. Just shy of being a hermit or a recluse, you interact with people everyday and what they do for the world will impact you. They may bring you your coffee. They may drive the bus you ride to work or gather your trash each week. You may do more for them than they could for you. Similar to the author’s relationship to our quoted speaker, this woman had given him life. (Not the easiest thank-you card to right…) They have brought you to this point in your life. They helped get you HERE. That’s a pretty astounding task when you stop to think about it.

In a season of gratitude and joy, I would remind all of us to share some of that gratitude with the people who deserve it most– the people around us daily. These are the people who light the fire in our souls. These are the people who may carpool with us to work or simply let us merge in traffic. Make gratitude something you practice constantly, no matter how big or small the act may be.

It is also in this spirit that I thank each of you. It is because of you that we do this and we hope that we can help bring you to a better place just for having read this post. We are connected by what we read, but we are also connected by so much more.

Love and light,


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Life Lessons One Year Later

I read this and thought I should share with everyone.  Have a great weekend, all!


A year ago, I was working on double backflips with my coach and I had a very bad accident. While getting ready for the double, I threw my warm-up trick too hard and made a split decision in the air to keep rotating into the double, even though I hadn’t thrown for it. When I landed back onto the trampoline, my knees were still tightly tucked and the force and angle of my body caused my knee to come crushing into my face, shattering my eye socket, breaking my nose, splitting open my eyebrow and giving myself the worst concussion that I’ve ever experienced.

I’ll spare you the complicated and gruesome details of the next week leading up to my surgery, but it was hell. For anyone that’s ever had surgery, you know that everyone heals at a different pace and in different ways depending on who they are and what happened to them. Based on my competitive and pinpoint nature, I expected the fast track to recovery after surgery and it turned out to be a very humbling experience.

After a few post-op visits and debates with different care providers, the prognosis was that I had come a long way since my accident and the quality of my vision was good. It was possible and likely that my vision would continue to get better, but at the same time it was insinuated that if it didn’t, I was in a pretty good place. Thinking back on where my vision actually was at that point now is disturbing because I remember having an extremely short range of motion in almost every direction. Meaning that if I just looked up slightly, I would have double vision. And this was good? They did know that I was a professional snowboarder and that because of this I would need more range than the “average” person…right? In my opinion, though, the “average” person probably wants to look up at the stars at night just as much as I want to look up at that lip that is 22 feet above me and see one lip not two! So, as you can see, not having tangible solutions just didn’t work for me. And after a period of being extremely pissed, frustrated, angry and scared, I decided it was time to take matters into my own hands and work with my “A” team (the people who have helped me accomplish my goals in snowboarding and life) to collaborate on a plan to find some solutions and recover.

If I had learned nothing else from this entire experience, then just understanding that doctors are human and most of them are very specialized in very specific areas would have been enough. That’s something a lot of us fail to remember; for some reason we all grow up thinking that doctors know the answers to EVERYTHING in all subjects because they are doctors. Let me tell you my doctor was a super hero in what he did for me. He saved my eye, my appearance and my vision. People tell me all the time that I must have had a really good doctor because they would never have known what had happened to me based on aesthetics. But when the super hero has rescued you, and you’re ready to continue on with your life, you don’t turn around and ask the super hero what you should do with your life now!

And that’s why it’s important for YOU (or someone you trust) to take control over the entire big picture plan of your recovery, no matter how big or small your injury may be. Because at the end of the day this is your life and you get to live it to the best of your abilities. That means if you hear a comment directed towards you like: “this is the best it’s gonna get, so start getting used to it,” then you respond in one way or another with: “I understand that is what you believe based on your experiences and knowledge, and I respect you and your belief, but I’m going to choose to disagree and find someone who believes that they can help me.” It’s taking the initiative and finding a solution. It’s the hard road; it’s the road less traveled. And you may spend a lot of time looking and never find what you’re looking for, but I know that I would sure as hell rather try!

My one-year anniversary of this day has just recently passed and now that I’ve almost recovered, and am back on my snowboard and almost back to my full potential, it seems like this experience is almost behind me and I’m in a place where I can reflect and share the valuable things that I’ve learned. So here goes:

-Don’t let anyone tell you “this is the best it’s going to get” and put limitations on you, whether it’s an injury or life in general.

-S*!t happens. I had just come off a breakthrough season where I truly felt I was on the verge of grasping my full potential, and then I was knocked down to zero. I’ve asked the question, “why?” and tried to look for hidden or not so hidden meanings, but sometimes in life it’s as easy as “stuff just happens.”

-You can’t always muscle through challenges, obstacles and life. Once I got back on snow, I figured that because my vision was back that the level of riding I had been at before the accident would come right back. That just wasn’t the case, and the harder I tried on snow to get back to where I was, the worse it got. Only when I let go of the past and rode just purely for the enjoyment of what it was, without expectations or ulterior motives, did I begin to soften and naturally fall back into stride … which leads me to the next lesson:

-Let go of expectations because they will only hold you back. Being gently and easy on yourself may seem like taking the scenic route when you’re in a hurry, but it’s the only way to truly process and move forward in a true and healthy way.

-Do live in this moment. Comparing yourself to where you were is living in the past. You are a different version of yourself now than you were and living for then will surely rob you of who and what you are now.

-Be grateful for where you are right now. For me, having my vision back was the biggest victory that I could have escaped this experience with, but it took a long time for me to truly understand that concept. In the beginning I could only see what I wasn’t doing and where I was lacking. I just wanted to be back at my highest level of snowboarding. Then I found that beating myself up was actually draining my passion and love for what I was actually doing, which directly affected the way I would perform. Gratitude brings you back to being that witnessing awareness that is whole and unwavering.

-Don’t focus on time or a cookie cutter schedule.  Focus on what your body is telling you.  Your body knows best and intuitively knows how to heal, if you listen and are presently aware.

-Do the rehab every day; even a year after surgery you have the potential to break through any scar tissue or limitations. Just as in life, once you have found what is working for you, you want to apply that routine every day to break through old habits and patterns that are holding you back.

A lot of these lessons are similar concepts but just said or experienced in different ways. But what I’ve found is that we learn the same lessons in different ways throughout life based on where we are in our process. And where I am in my process is heading into summertime riding with a lot of goals that I’m eager to accomplish. And if I’ve learned anything at all from my own experiences, I’m going to go up to Mount Hood and, while I will be aware of those goals, I’m going to detach from their end results and enjoy sliding around on the snow in warm weather and that beautiful environment. I’m going to be grateful for my healthy body that lets me push myself physically and mentally to ride with style and meaning every day because that’s why I love to snowboard, but at the same time being presently aware and listening to my body as I do, and I’m going to laugh and I’m going to soak in being with some of my best friends and husband and dog all the while!

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“Punch today in the face.”


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“Rejection emails suck.”

One of my best friends sent me a text that read “Rejection emails suck.”  She had just gotten the news that, despite a wonderful interview, she was not going to get the summer internship she hoped for.  She’s right, rejection letters really suck.

“I really wish I was less of a thinking man and more of a fool not afraid of rejection” –Billy Joel

Recently, I viewed the movie Admission, starring Tina Fey who plays a Princeton Admission Officer.  This movie struck a chord with me, because when I was applying for undergraduate studies, Princeton was the only school (of 8) to send me a thin envelope.  I knew the rejection letter was coming, because like the movie, the guy who interviewed me was a jerk.  The rejection letter wasn’t a surprise, but it did ruin my day.

“I take rejection as someone blowing a bugle in my ear to wake me up and get going rather than retreat.” –Sylvester Stallone

When I applied to graduate school, I got a second rejection letter form Princeton (and several other schools).  Every time I got one of those letters it ruined my whole day.  I knew that most of the programs were a long shot, but it’s hard not to feel slighted when you know you’re a good candidate.

“You get used to rejection, and you don’t take it personally.” –Daniel Craig

I got another rejection letter today.  By now I’ve gotten a lot of them, and it still sucks.  Somehow it doesn’t ruin my whole day anymore.  I’ve learned that things tend to work out in the end.  I might not end up where I hoped to or expected to, but it’s usually for a good reason.  Plus, when I get a thick envelope, or a detailed email with an offer instead of a “click here for your admission decision” email, all of the joy and anticipation erases the rest.

“A rejection is nothing more than a necessary step in the pursuit of success.” — Bo Bennett

Our parents had the right intentions when they told us to chase our dreams.  Their biggest fault might be not pushing us to fail more often.  Learning to embrace rejection and failure as a necessary step in the pursuit of success is a hard lesson to learn and one that takes practice, but by many accounts these are the most valuable life experiences.


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“I’m a success today because I had a friend who believed in me and I didn’t have the heart to let him down.”

— Abraham Lincoln

Your little successes. Your enormous accomplishments. Think of the person or people who were cheering you on. Be grateful.

And if you’re on your way towards something good, remind yourself– “They are here for me. They deserve my best.”



Make a Difference

charlie brown

Here’s a quiz for you:

1. Name the five wealthiest people in the world.

2. Name the last five Heisman trophy winners.

3. Name the last five winners of the Miss America.

4. Name ten people who have won the Nobel or Pulitzer Prize.

5. Name the last half dozen Academy Award winners for best actor and actress.

6. Name the last decade’s worth of World Series winners.

How did you do?

The point is, none of us remember the headliners of yesterday. These are no second-rate achievers. They are the best in their fields. But the applause dies. Awards tarnish. Achievements are forgotten. Accolades and certificates are buried with their owners .

Here’s another quiz. See how you do on this one:

1. List a few teachers who aided your journey through school.

2. Name three friends who have helped you through a difficult time.

3 Name five people who have taught you something worthwhile.

4. Think of a few people who have made you feel appreciated and special.

5. Think of five people you enjoy spending time with.


The lesson:
The people who make a difference in your life are not the ones with the most credentials, the most money, or the most awards. They are the ones that care.

Charles Schultz provides us with a wonderful example of what really matters in life. It doesn’t matter what titles you earn, what medals, you have hanging around your neck, or what “average’ is. All of the pieces of paper saying you are the best will fade in time. What matters is that you make a difference in the life of another person. Answering that second set of questions is proof that you have made a difference and that others have made a difference in your life.

Take a hint from these people. Learn how to be a difference-maker, a game changer. Find a way to show someone else the way. Be the light they may so desperately need. Be memorable. Make a difference.


“In the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures. For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.”

— Khalil Gibran

Friends Playing on the Beach

Celebrating many different occasions with friends this week. It feels amazing to see the good in the world surround those I care about.

Remind yourself that it need not be only you who does the cheerleading. Let others be there and remind you of the amazing support system you have around you.

Share in the good and lift each other up in the bad. Laugh and let your tears wash away all that threatens your contentment.

Renew your faith in people each day by surround yourself with those who matter.

Life is good. Remind yourself of the little things that good people do that impact your life in big ways, today and everyday.

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“If the future seems overwhelming, remember that it comes one moment at a time.”

— Beth Mende Conny

Going for a walk today with some amazing people. We have been there for each other through thick and thin. They have supported me as I have tried to return the favor. I would be less of a person without them in my life.

Today, as we begin a new week, I simply want you to take a moment and thank all of the wonderful people in your life. Realize how much they inspire you to be a better person, a stronger person. You never know when they will need you most. Be there for them all that you can. I am thankful every minute of every day for these people. I hope you have those people and you thank them for their presence today and every day.

When things get rough and life seems unbeareable, when the word “overwhelming” doesn’t begin to cover it, remember that you can handle it. After all, it’s not always about making it by yourself. It’s the people who take your hand and take these moments in stride as you make your way through your journey.

Love and Light,


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