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Wednesday Bubble: Becoming Bendy. A guest post by Patti Digh

Posted by on Feb 9, 2011 in Inspiration, women's health | 2 comments

Are you a resolutionist, you know, one of those people who make a pact to change [fill in the blank] every New Year’s only to find that you’re slacking about three weeks later and by week four, you’ve already forgotten  your promise to yourself ?

Been there, done that. Yes, we all have. However, sooner or later, we all end up facing our demons and excuses and backtracks and are forced to a long hard look and truly acknowledge that we don’t like everything we see. Sometimes, it’s that constant nagging that just won’t go away, and others, it’s a health scare or the loss of someone close that kicks our butt one last night and propels us into real action. My friend Patti Digh, who’s previously graced the Flashfree pages, recently agreed to let me share the hard look she’s taken at herself and her quest to ‘become bendy.’ Welcome back Patti!

I had a revelation this past year. Two of them, actually. Okay, three. Or twelve.

One: My husband, John, created a video for our oldest daughter’s graduation from high school, one documenting Emma’s life since birth to that moment of leaving home, going to college, walking into the world on her own. As I watched this beautiful progression of her life, it became so, so clear to me that I have spent the last 18 years trying to hide behind other people in photographs, buying and wearing clothing I didn’t love but that fit over my hips. Eighteen years. And probably, yes, longer even than that. Not walking in the world in jeans, a simple t-shirt and flip flops, but in every outfit covered by a big overshirt. Not wearing a bathing suit, never wearing shorts. Hiding. I watched it a few times, each time realizing that I knew exactly how I felt about my body at that point in time. “Oh, that’s baby weight,” I said until Emma was 10, for example. Every pound a witness to a heartbreak, a change, a fear, a celebration.

Two: I’ve spent the past year being tested for things. Ovarian cancer, endometrial cancer, and repeat. The morning they first tested for ovarian cancer, I sat in the parking lot sobbing, and then drove to the Chocolate Fetish and bought a nine-pack of chocolate covered caramels with sea salt and ate them all in the car. When I found out that test was negative two weeks later, I drove back to the Chocolate Fetish, bought another nine-pack of chocolate covered caramels with sea salt and ate them all in the car. I told Michael Scholtz, a brilliant wellness coach and personal trainer. “So,” I said jokingly, “do you think this means I’m an emotional eater?” He smiled a quiet smile. “Well, Patti,” he said, “if you had only eaten them when you thought you were dying, maybe not.” He paused. “But the fact that you ate them when you found out you would live… yeah, maybe.” We laughed. Yes.

Three: In November, I ended up in the emergency room with what I thought was a heart attack. It wasn’t. But my blood pressure was very high: 188/144. I typically have very low blood pressure. And I am now on medication to bring it down. I am not fond of taking medication and want to find other less intrusive ways to lower my blood pressure. “I want you to sweat six days a week,” my doctor said when giving me the prescription. I knew what he meant: lose weight.

There was an article in Wired Magazine a few years ago called “Change or Die.” It reported, among other things, that 90% of heart patients, when told they had to change their diet and exercise or they would die, did not change anything. Not even the threat of death got them to change their Krispy Kreme couch potato habits. Not even death.

I will change. Yes, I surely will.

As I start 2011, I no longer have in front of me the “lose 50 pounds” mantra. It is gone, irrelevant. While I do know that my natural, happy, comfortable weight is less than where I am right now, but I am no longer measuring happiness–or the lack of it–by a number. I am not concerned with a size, but a measure of wellness.

I am measuring wellness from now on by how bendy I am.

What is bendy?

Bendy is flexible, strong, able to run when it wants to. Bendy feels connected to body, stretched, confident, able. Bendy is a body not in competition with other bodies, and not even in competition with itself. It just is. Stretched and tall and aware of its Self. Bendy is a body to go along with a head; it is learning from the neck down. It is embodied learning. Embodied living. Embodied mindfulness.

I’m spending 2011 becoming bendy. Again.

I’m documenting that journey here for myself, and for others who might find it helpful.

About the author:

Patti Digh is the author of Life is a Verb, Creative is a Verb, What I Wish For You and Four Word Self Help. She has also written two business books on global leadership and diversity, one named a Fortune magazine “best business book for 2000.”  Patti’s comments have appeared on PBS, and in the Wall Street Journal, Fortune, the New York Times, USAToday, the Washington Post, and London Financial Times, among other national and international publications. She speaks around the world on diversity, global business, and living intentionally.

Patti is also co-founder of The Circle Project, a consulting and training firm that partners with organizations and the people in them to help them work more effectively and authentically together across difference.

She lives in Ashville, NC with her husband, two daughters and various animals. She also likes Black & White cookies although they are now off the list during her ‘Becoming Bendy’ stage.

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Wednesday Bubble: More inspiration from Patti Digh – Patti’s Gems

Posted by on Dec 10, 2008 in Inspiration, menopause | 4 comments

In my first two posts in my series about an interview I had with Author Patti Digh , I reflected on two key life lessons: 1) the importance of taking care of ourselves before we are truly able to take care of others, and 2) the need to go deeper than the symptom to discover who we are and what we truly want out of our lives. These sentiments are linked to two essays and several exercises in Patti’s 37 Days, which, once again, I encourage all of you to read.

The third and final post I am calling “Patti’s Gems.” (If you are reading this Patti, I’m not talking about your girls, although I am quite certain that they are the first thing to come to mind when you see the word “gems!”)

So, what do I mean by the phrase “Patti’s gems?”

When I first read ’37 Days,’ I felt that  in some respects, the evolution of the lessons throughout the book echoed the transitions  we make as we move through midlife. And more importantly, that certain chapters truly spoke to transitional “soul changes” to  propel  midlife divas forward in a positive and affirmative way.

I asked Patti  if certain essays were more applicable to this time in our lives than others.  “Yes…there are some that speak to part of the fear [about] what I’ve done with my life,” replied Patti.  I had a very good resume when I started writing [37 Days]. From all external measures, I was very successful. And yet, I did not feel that internally and it [wasn’t] the work that I needed to be doing in the world.”

It wasn’t the work I needed to be doing in the world.

Are you doing the work that is feeding your soul, the work that you need to be doing versus what you are being told you need to be doing? If the answer is “no, maybe or I don’t know,” take heed; you’re in good company!

Fortunately, there are a number of gems in the book that Patti revealed with a wee bit of prodding, gems that might help to jumpstart those creative juices…

Gem number 1: Don’t stop to wave, you’ll drown.

Channeling the wonderful Eve Ensler, Patti writes that Eve once asked “why are women immobile? Because…they are waiting for permission….” She goes on to pose the following questions to the reader:

Are you waiting for permission to have and express your point of view? Are you waiting for an audience before doing the work you “must do?” Are you asking the questions and truly listening to the answers as if they really matter? Do you care too much about if people are going to like you if you speak your truth?

And at the moment you’re waving, wanting to be acknowledged for waving, be seen, praised…are you really drowning?

Patti tells us to “keep moving, keep seeing, keep knowing and keep saying what you know to be your truth.” Give yourself permission.

Gem number 2: Bust your toast rules

I’d prefer to let you read this essay yourselves because it’s priceless – just think Jack Nicholson in ‘Five Easy Pieces.

Here’s a challenge – take a close look at the rules you set for yourself, and ask yourself if you set them to serve “some social norm that is itself made up,”  or to serve another person or a group?

Aren’t rules simply made up? Are some rules  so ingrained in us that we can’t see them for what they are?

Have you made rules, set boundaries for yourself, followed patterns that you can’t see the forest for the trees? Do those rules make sense? Better yet, do the rules still make sense?

As Patti writes “concentrate on surfacing [your] patterns in order to change them.”

Gem number 3: Burn those jeans

Okay – be honest. How many sizes are hanging in your closet?! And why are you still holding on to the  hope that one day, you will fit into those [fill in the blank]?

Patti writes to “replace the word ‘jeans’ with the albatross hanging around your neck, following you around through life, diverting your attention from the real goal, setting you up for failure.” Then ask yourself if the golden egg that you are pursuing is something that you’re setting yourself up for to feel badly (about not reaching it), instead of “good and right and strong.”

So, why are you putting your life on hold to reach the unattainable, unreasonable, un…goal? Do it now rather than “when….”

Gem number 4: Unpack your boxes

This metaphor, for a marriage that begins to unravel and the decisions that arise with regards to whether or not to leave or stay, or better yet, when to leave or stay, has a deeper meaning for many of us.

Patti writes that “piles of boxes are metaphorical architecture — they tell a story.” Unpack your boxes, stay awhile, she suggests. Commit to the swim, or go.

Are you staying in a marriage, a relationship, a job, a career, stagnating because you are afraid to unpack your boxes?  Patti quotes Elisabeth Kubler-Ross..”As with migrant birds, so surely with us, there is a voice within if only we would listen to it, that tells us certainly when to go forth into the unknown.

Gem number 5: Trust only movement.

During our conversation, I asked Patti what she meant when she wrote “trust only movement.”

“I’m coming more and more to recognize…that the abstractions we use aren’t very helpful to us in times of need. Could I have a more intense connection with my life by saying yes? Open up for other people to be as full a human as I am? Integrity to speak up? Can I stand tall for what I believe but also open up the possibility that someone else’s belief is as valid to them as mine? To love more, to love myself more in order to love people more, to trust myself and pay attention to my gut in a significant way. And finally to slow down. Moving from abstraction to something that is embodied is really important.”

At the end of the day, it’s all about focusing, doing, fully engaging,  feeling, and  feeding, nurturing and acknowledging your soul.   “Risk your significance” says Patti.

Risk your significance.

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Masking tape..more from my interview with Patti Digh

Posted by on Nov 9, 2008 in emotions | 7 comments

In the post ‘Go deeper than the symptom‘ I talked about wonderful self-growth that can occur when we allow ourselves to break down the barriers and go below the symptom, shed our egos and reveal our souls. These wonderful thoughts came from Author Patti Digh, whose book, 37 days, continues to inspire.

One of the things we discussed during our interview are the natural transitions that accompany the psychological and emotional aspects of midlife.  Patti noted that there are few essays that are relevant to this process and those transitions that we are going through.

Among the many lessons we learn as we grow older, there’s none more important than realizing how critical it is to better take care of ourselves so that we are better prepared to take care of others. Something Patti aptly refers to as ‘Put on your own mask first.’

“If you don’t put on your own mask first, you’ll be of no use to others who might need your help,” writes Patti. The mask she is referring to is an oxygen mask during emergencies on a plane but the analogy applies to so many aspects of our lives.

Who do you neglect the most when you are taking care of your [fill in the blank]? As life swirls around you and days rush by, whose needs have you forgotten?

“I wrote these chapters because I need to learn the lessons myself,” Patti explains. “I’m a person whose outwardly focused in terms of caretaking for other people and that is both positive and negative sometimes. And there’s a capacity to have a savior complex around that as well. So, I’m not really good at taking care of myself nor am I, until very recently, good at asking for help.”

Sound familiar?

Patti suggests that our generation has the disadvantage of measuring our success, least partially, by how well we take care of people. “I think that the impulse behind the whole of the book [is to] leave some part of your self behind, to pay attention to your own stories.”

But does paying attention to your ‘own stories’ mean that you are doing so at the expense of someone else?

Patti believes that we don’t put ourselves first for fear of being called selfish. And wonders if taking care of or saving others is simply a diversion…from saving ourselves. Pretty intuitive, if you ask me.

I believe that there is room for both – to care for others and to care for ourselves simultaneously. This takes a lot of work and a tremendous amount of energy. And even scarier, what’s left of the savior is we allow her to expose a few less than admirable traits, the dark side? Or allow the soul to relish in its solitude so that it is able to grow and expand and flourish?

Ask yourself. Are you holding it all together with little bits of masking tape while you devote all that energy to doing for others? And is the tape starting to crack with age?

Slow down long enough to put on your own mask, Patti writes. And “while you’re tightening the straps, ponder the wacky possibility that the people you are trying to save don’t need saving. If you lose consciousness, you won’t be any help to them anyway.”

To move this idea forward, take 30 minutes every day to be alone. And try this for 37 days, taking note of how you feel, if you need and cherish it, and if it is making any difference in how you approach yourself and others that you constantly take care of. This exercise, along with a focused free write, can be accessed in Patti’s book.

Today, I challenge your to give yourself the gift of solitude, selflessness and self-love. Put on your own mask and remove the bits of tape that are just barely holding it together while you give give give and run run run and never stop to breathe.

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New Year…farewell

Posted by on Jan 1, 2015 in Uncategorized | 11 comments

Phew! What a ride the past six plus years have been. And like everything that’s worthwhile, it’s important to know when to step away. And so, I must bid adieu to Flashfree to make room for new writing, new reporting and a new journey.

As an early adopter in the menopausal blogging space, I’ve watched a burgeoning interest among women who are entering or in the middle of the menopause transition. Mostly, I’ve received validation time and again that open dialogue and self-care are essential as we age. And while Flashfree has mostly stayed away from the personal, I have experienced my own growth in terms of gaining a better understanding of my body and the changes that it’s going through, my mental health and tolerance (or intolerance for stress) and the factors that are needed to live life to the fullest. I hope that you have likewise, gained knowledge and a sense of self along this ride that we’ve been on.

Several people who I know and love suggested that I leave you with a list of my favorite posts. I’d rather leave the Archives to you to discover and find them on your own. The Flashfree Archives will remain accessible although some of the information contained within may eventually become dated.

Finally, I want to take this opportunity to thank you and others who’ve supported me along with way. And in particular, I would love to thank and acknowledge the multiple guest bloggers that have contributed to Flashfree: Bob LeDrew (who is heading on to broader pastures with Guyside) Danny Brown, Richard Becker, my brother, Andrew Scherer, Wendy Goldman Scherer, Patti Digh, Amy Zimmerman, Walker Thornton, Danielle Omar, Cyma Shapiro, Nina Perez, D.A. Wolf, Susie Hadas, Kelley Connors, Dr. Brian Hughes, Dr. Elaine Schattner, Alexandra Williams, Dr. Jen Gunter, Sarah Bowen Shea, Laura Bowman, Cherry Woodburn, Kathy Korman Frey, Sheryl Kraft, Dr. Barb DuPree, Joanna Paterson, Erika Napoletano, Jesse Mendes, Dr. Val Jones, Jonathan Black, Julia Beck, Jackie Silver, Carla Birnberg, Andrea Learned, Peter Koshland, Kris Rowlands and Elizabeth Alraune. If I’ve overlooked anyone who’s contributed, please know that I am appreciative of your vision and your knowledge.

You can still find me writing on Medium or at In the interim, from the bottom of my heart….thank you.

Good health and good journey!




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Wednesday Bubble: Team Brilliant

Posted by on Sep 12, 2012 in Inspiration | 22 comments

Team Brilliant.

Just like Flashfree, it’s all about community.

If you are curious why I am posting a photo of myself, stripped down, unadulterated wearing a tee that reads ‘Heal Spot, Heal,” I would like to share a story.

Years ago, I met the amazing author Patti Digh on Twitter. And then I met her in real life a few times. And spoke with her on the phone and asked her to guest post on Flashfree. You can find those posts here.

Patti has a lovely family, two beautiful daughters, a dog and a husband she calls “Mr. Brilliant.” Mr. Brilliant’s alter ego is John Ptak. And John and I became virtual friends through our love of science and vintage ads. You can find John’s blog here.

Patti and John have built a community that is global and far-reaching. And so, when John was diagnosed this summer with kidney cancer, that community went into action and formed Team Brilliant, the goal of which was to give back all that John and Patti have given. You see, John had recently gave up his health insurance policy.

John’s surgery went well. And Team Brilliant has raised over $98,000 (just a wee bit short of their $100,000 goal) to pay for his medical care. I am proud to be a member of Team Brilliant. And so, I wear the tee shirt (which, by the way, was designed by Patti and John’s daughter Emma) to demonstrate my support.

The tee shirt.

It’s a symbol of community, the gift that we can give by supporting each other through the good times and the bad. But it’s more than that. Because it demonstrates the power that each of us has within to make a difference. And how that power grows exponentially every time someone else joins in.

I purchased two shirts — the one I am wearing in the picture — and the one that I am going to send to one of you (Size L) All I ask is that you write a comment below about community and donate whatever you can to Team Brilliant; even $1 can make a diference.

We’ve got two days to make it to goal and the Team is short less than $2K. Want to help them get over the hump? All it takes is a few prayers, a dollar or two and a comment (including your contact info). Who knows? Maybe that comment will make all the difference to someone else who needs a little bit of help, and send a message that love, light and healing are mighty powerful forces.

Pretty brilliant? Community sure can be!

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