It's funny what you remember from your childhood. Our earliest memories of events, interactions, and people can stay with us and resonate for the rest of our lives.
It's also funny how each one of us comes out of the womb. At the moment of conception thousands of generations that preceded us come together at a magical moment and give us all the qualities and challenges we will have as individuals. Our strengths, our weaknesses and perhaps even more importantly, our temperament.
There are those, even as infants, who go willingly to any one that wants to hold them, who have no fear of the unknown or strangers, and who willingly use every day as an excuse to explore the world.
I was not cut from that fabric.
I was what you would politely call timid as a baby. I was told repeatedly that I would only let two people hold me, my mother and my bubby. Without attaching any normative value to either of these temperaments, I raise these issues, strictly, as an illustrative description of how we can be so different from one another and how those differences can be so pronounced in our lives. My first life lesson, perhaps the most important life lesson you can learn, was instilled in me by my mother when I was a little girl in pre-school.
My introduction to kindergarten involved me sitting all day in my cubby, with my arms crossed and a pout on my face. There was no real reason for this besides that was just how I was. The words my mother spoke to me as a little girl still resonate today. "We are going to play a game, I want you to go to school today and find one thing that you like, come home and tell me about it."
Interestingly, what I didn't hear from my parents was: "what can we do to make your day better?" or "would you prefer another class, teacher or school?" The powerful message was that people were not going to solve my issues for me. The responsibility for my happiness was entirely controlled by myself. In fact, I was told that I was the author of the story of my life and how it turned out would be a direct result, not only, of the words I chose to write but how I chose to react to different situations and challenges.
I will never forget my mother and father talking to my teacher and responding to the teacher's question: "what can I do to make your daughter happy?" In unison without missing a breath they both responded: "it's not your job to make our daughter happy, IT'S HER'S."
Seventeen years later, as an adult with the road I have travelled, I am now only starting to really appreciate the depth of that message and see by its development how strongly empowered we can feel as individuals when we incorporate this lesson into our own lives. While I didn't know it at the time, the concept of playing the hand you were dealt, in the most positive way possible, would be put to the test when I was 15.
I remember when my mother and father sat me down to share with my siblings and I that she had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer. There was fear, tears, shock but, most importantly, a road map going forward embracing every step and giving each stage both good and bad the integrity it demanded. My mother pre-emptively shaved her head, looked beautiful with no hair, and sent the loudest message to each of us. We control our destiny regardless of our situation.
Watching my mother deal with her situation through the next three and a half years, refusing to be a victim and going forward with as positive of an attitude as possible, has stayed with me and continues to inspire me close to four years after her death. See, regardless of a lousy blood count, a five-hour debulking operation, or the loss of one's hair, nothing can take away the power you have over your attitude. It is the one thing that can trump any obstacle life throws your way. This is why the memories of my mother are not of a cancer victim, they are not of a shaved head, or intravenous tubes, or a frail body. They are her wonderful spirit, her brave beautiful smile, and a loving acceptance of life that was contagious with everyone she touched.
My mother didn't just talk the talk, she walked the walk. I am blessed to have had that message delivered to me and it is my hope, desire, and greatest challenge to share it with as many people as possible through our parties, charity movement and most importantly, at that very special time when I will become a mother myself.
It's no surprise that with this outlook on life and the wonderful values she instilled in me, that part of my family's healing process would incorporate helping others.
Our first F Cancer party took place on Nov 2010. This was a short 10 months after my mother's death. Some 350 young kids showed up and the outpouring of emotion, connection and love was unbelievable. Ten parties later, including LA and Toronto, that feeling is still growing and resonates today. By reaching out to the younger generation, by empowering them so that they feel a sense of ownership for all the money raised, we have been able to spearhead a movement that is gaining such speed and momentum it is mind boggling.
Our second LA event is May 9, 2013 at Boosty Bellows Nightclub. We expect to be sold out at this incredible venue with an amazing red carpet containing both press and talent who have opened their arms to our movement. The event will be hosted by Shira lazar Host and Co-Founder (What's Trending) and barring any scheduling conflicts, Stephen Amell (Arrow The CW) has agreed to co-host as well. DJ @WilliamLifestyl and DJ @MRBEST are two of hopefully many that have already offered to donate a set for the event and support this wonderful cause. We are excited about working with American Apparel who are now producing our shirts and will be helping us in promoting the LA party and raising money for cancer research.
It was extremely humbling and fortunate that I was recently nominated and chosen to attend the Oprah Winfrey Show in Montreal on April 11. In fact, this surprising turn of events inspired me to share my life lessons in this post. Oprah is someone who understands life lessons more than most, and has used them in such a positive way. She has affected, literally, millions of people and inspired them with her lessons. I sincerely cannot wait to listen to every single one of her words. I feel I will be there out of design and I hope to take from that experience her personal story and continue with what we are doing by touching thousands of kids and raising money for cancer research.
One of the wonderful things about these life lessons is that they become incorporated in your being, they sustain you and drive you. Mine have pushed me to focus on the positive. I don't think my mother would be surprised at what we are doing. I think she would be overwhelmed with how successful this movement has become. Most importantly, I would want her to know that not a day goes by that she is not in my thoughts but her daughter is happy, the tears seem to roll off my face easier when I'm smiling.
I HAD A REALLY GOOD TEACHER.