Sunday, March 30, 2014

Fundraiser for Oviedo Y

If you are looking for a way to support the Oviedo Y's Annual Community Support Campaign plan to  dine this Thursday, April 3 at Gator's Dockside from open to close - in eat or take out. A portion of the proceeds from this event will support the Oviedo Y's scholarship program. Please remember to tell your server that you are at Gator's to support the Oviedo Y. See attached flyer for more details. Thanks for caring and supporting this important cause.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Amoena Selects My Essay as Its Winner

Yes! It does feel great to see my byline gracing the pages of a magazine after a long hiatus. Amoena has published my essay "Embrace Every Curve" in its spring 2014 edition. It is available online this month. (See below for the link.)

My story shares the "curves" I have endured over the past 13 plus years as a breast cancer survivor. While it is the "short version" of my book (a very abbreviated version at that) I am still excited that thousands of people will be reading my work. Back in the day when I worked as the editor of several different newspapers I was always writing stories. My topics range from travel and articles about interesting individuals to medical breakthroughs. My byline has appeared more times than I can count. The name - Marilyn Wattman-Feldman - looked good on the pages of the magazines and newspapers where it appeared. But more importantly, I always put myself into every piece. That's not to say I necessarily gave my personal opinions (unless it was called for) but rather, I did my research and I worked to make every story the best I could. If my name was to appear on a published piece, then it was my intregity at state. It had to be better than good.

I had great influences along the way. There were men and women who helped shape my writing -- they helped make me a better writer simply by doing what I needed to do. I also feel a great deal of pride when I realize I attended a top notch university where I earned my degree in journalism. Temple was only a name to me when I was there. But now that I live in Florida and Temple University is unique, I understand its value. I had the best education possible. And now, I put it to work everyday when I write.

It does feel wonderful to see that byline ... it's been missing for way too long.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Celebrate St. Patty's Day & Raise Funds for ACS RFL

Come on out to Casey's Grill and celebrate St. Patrick's Day on Monday, March 17. While dining on some great corned beef and cabbage (and plenty of other delicious entrees) you will be helping to raise funds for the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life. 

As a cancer survivor, I have come to know (first-hand) the incredible work that the ACS does. Money raised helps support the society's mission to provide patient services, education, advocacy and research. I have personally benefited from all of these -- and as a volunteer, I have shared "my voice" with legislative leaders in order to raise money for vital research. A single voice does make a difference.

Looking for a way to enjoy St. Patty's Day -- look no further than Casey's Grill. And,  while enjoying a "yummy" meal and a fun-filled atmosphere, you will be making a big difference. A portion of the proceeds from this event will benefit the ACS RFL.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

I did it ... Now I Need to Accept the Kind Words Being Shared

"You look great!" "You look amazing!" "Wow, Marilyn! I can't believe how terrific you look!"

Over the past few weeks, I have heard these words or similar ones repeated over and over again. To say I've been "surprised" or even "shocked" to hear these comments -- let's just say I am happy yet still trying to comprehend the meaning behind those words.

Why? Well, I know I certainly look much different than I did several years ago. In fact, I look much different from how I was between 2002 and 2009. In early 2002, my cancer had spread to the lungs and I underwent major surgery. That certainly affected how I felt and how I looked. There was the overall fatigue and inability to do much physically, so yes... I began to gain weight. I also began chemo in the summer of 2002. While I never completely lost my hair, it thinned out to the point where everyday I gathered up hair from my sleepwear, my pillow and from around the shower drain. Then, as the years progress, I was still sedentary and the weight piled on. When I broke my right femur in 2005, I weight so much that my rehab took longer than anticipated. (At least, that's how I remember it.) The femur break in 2008 was still horrible, but because I had already started loosing weight, my rehab process went much faster. (That is the truth.) Fast forward to today .. I weight what I did after having Adrienne. And yes, I feel great and apparently ... I am looking much better these days.

I guess that's what I can't quite process. In my head, I am still heavier -- I am still having trouble moving about. My body is far from perfect and I'm in pain more than I care to admit. I take so much medication on a daily basis and although most of the drugs I take are necessary ... they keep me moving about -- with pain levels that allow me to participate in classes like spinning, water fitness and Zumba. So, the drugs give me a life worth living because if I were in the horrific pain I could be in, I would not be able to function. Getting out of bed everyday would be impossible. I could not even be typing this blog -- my fingers would cease to work from the osteoarthritis that has mishapped my knuckles. Without my pain specialist and the medications prescribed, I may very likely be in bed most of the time... or perhaps back in a wheelchair unable to move around on my own. As I even think about that option, I must admit it is terrifying. I hated being so vulnerable back in 2005 and 2008 following my femur breaks. Unable to do anything for myself -- being totally dependant upon the aides and techs for everything -- all the personal stuff we humans do on a daily basis. It was a horrible, gut wrenching experience back then and it's one I do not want to repeat.

I remember a moment several years ago when I got out of the car and started to stretch. I bent over to touch my toes. I heard a loud "shriek" like sound coming from both Brian and Adrienne. "What was I doing?" They could not believe what they were seeing. I immediately did it again -- reaching down to my feet -- feeling the stretch down my back. When I got back up, I looked at both of them. "Seriously," I said. "When I tell you that I'm doing water fitness classes. Or I'm at Tai Chi or Zumba. I'm not playing tiddly winks." I wanted them to understand that I knew how important it was to keep exercising. To keep moving. I was talking about my life. If I were to truly follow my mantra -- "Everyday in every way I am getting better and stronger" -- then I had to keep exercising. I know they got the message. They no longer question my quest for better health. (They do ask me to be safe and not overdo things. I honor those logical requests since I know they are said out of love.)

Meanwhile, I am still grappling with the words I keep hearing from those around me. I hear it most often when I enter the Oviedo Y.  Apparently, people notice when you are really exercising and getting results. Perhaps that's what is happening and I'm just not totally prepared to accept that I've achieved my goals. That's not to say I can stop and no longer do classes. In fact, it means I not only have to continue but I must really make the effort to remain diligent. I've had a couple of days this past week where my energy level dropped and I simply didn't want to do much. I arrived at the Y unprepared to do anything in particular. However, I finally ventured into a Zumba class and remained there for 30 minutes. (I was ready to call it a day after that session although the class was 60 minutes.) Another day, I arrived and decided to attend a lecture given by Kim Lett, RD, the Y's dietitian.  She was speaking about heart health and healthy eating -- the lecture was titled:" Don't go breaking your heart". That was in lieu of another exercise class that ran during the same time frame. I simply was "not in the mood" to exercise. For me, that's unusual but I do have those times where I am"tired" or "hurting too much" or simply "not in the zone" (my head isn't there)... so I've learned to adjust. I listen to my body. I used to do back to back cardio classes and now, I realize that is not always in my best interest. I was actually doing too much and was losing too much weight. (I attended sessions with a dietitian at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center Orlando where I learned how to balance my diet with exercise.) It has been a learning curve all along.

Now, I must begin accepting the wonderful compliments that come from working so hard and achieving so much. It's not easy for me. I love complimenting others and giving praise. It is much more difficult for me to accept and appreciate the well meaning words from others. Slowly, I am doing so and I must say -- it feels great! I'm not sure how "awful" or "what I must have looked like even a year ago" but I enjoy hearing all the wonderful things people share with me. The kind, expressive words they say -- the compliments and the smiles I get as well. Both men and women sharing their praises... their compliments and inspiring words. A friend saying: "Marilyn, you look great!" Another one saying: "Marilyn, you inspire me!" Wow! And then, hearing so many others asking: "So when is the book coming out?" To that last question I can say... I am working diligently on that. I intend to publish my book this year. "High Maintenance" will be a success and in no small part, due to the incredible individuals I have met over the past 13 years. (As well as all the friends I have known most of my life and of course, my amazing family.)

As I prepare to leave the house and venture back to the Y for yet another exercise session of some sort (not necessarily a class but a cardio activity plus muscle toning, etc.) I must be ready to "hear" perhaps another kind word or two. When I think about how good it feels when I hear their words, it's like Valentine's Day all-year long. There may not have been chocolates or hearts yesterday -- I did hear the words "Happy Valentine's Day" expressed along with a warm hug -- but more importantly, I am starting to realize that kindness, friendship, happiness and yes ... love -- is year round and not a single day in the calendar. In addition, being able to receive the compliments given by others is essential. (And yesterday, I received several more amazing compliments.)  Once we can truly internalize that we are worthy of "compliments" and not feel "guilty" when we hear kind words spoken about us -- it's another way for us to grow. To learn more about ourselves. Even at my age, (And I'm young!) I am still learning more about me everyday. Those around me are helping -- because the journey is not meant to be solitary. Life is meant to be shared with others. Thus, it makes sense that we make friends along the way -- we share good times -- we share kindnesses -- we share a compliment or two. And now I know that I can enjoy those very special words that are meant for me. It's okay to smile, give a hug and say "thank you." (Because you did what you had to do and now, it's being acknowledged... congratulations!)

Saturday, January 18, 2014

It's The Feldman Dynamic:10th Anniversary

We're back! At least, for one night only.

Brian Feldman Projects presents The Feldman Dynamic:10th Anniversary on Jan. 21 at the JCC theater in Maitland. To learn more about this unique performance art project and its history -- and to purchase tickets in advance visit the following link --

You can read about how this project was first conceived and then developed plus you'll find out how four members of one family can exist harmoniously on-stage for 45 minutes in a totally unscripted, unrehearsed presentation. Needless to say, it is extraordinarily different.

See you there.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

A Whole New Year - 2014

Without much fanfare, 2014 entered and now it is up to me to determine what I'll accomplish this year. I am not making an official resolution, although when I have done so I have had good success. I guess I am one of those individuals who really follows through.

However, this year I simply intend to follow through on what I've been up to for the past year. My biggest project: Publishing my biographic / memoir "High Maintenance." It is no longer an item on my must do list. It is becoming a reality in 2014. No other option. No way out of it. I am going to make this happen. Why? It's simple. It is not being read while it exists on my computer system. No one is reading "High Maintenance" and getting the messages I've written. I did not write this book for me or for that matter, my immediate family. (Although I hope they want to read it, too.) I wrote this book for the masses ... for people around the world. When I set out to write my manuscript it was meant to be shared with as many people as possible. I never intended it to be anything less than "a major item" or just "a book for a small group of readers." Unlike other individuals I know who have written "memoirs" in order to share certain things with family and close friends -- "High Maintenance" was written with a larger audience in mind. Thus, this project has been a major ordeal for me and I fully intend to see it become what it is intended to be ... a large publishing project that includes an ebook version as well as a "standard book" version. How that is going to happen still remains a bit of a mystery at this time, although I have been extremely busy building up my contacts. I spend hours upon hours "linking into" potential contacts who may be able to either help me publish my book or lead me to a potential contract.

Yes! 2014 will be an exciting year for me. My childhood dreams of being a "book author" will come true. While I have written for many publications over the years and have had numerous items published in various formats (including books, magazines, newspapers, etc.) this particular project is huge. I spent three long years writing "High Maintenance" -- after years of severe writer's block due to depression. The United Arts of Central Florida grant I received in 2008 for literature opened the door for this book. My play "Chemonologues" was the catalyst for the manuscript that became the book. Even from its earliest beginnings, "High Maintenance" was to become my first major book. (I have other manuscripts that need to be worked on. So, future books are already in the works.)

I know I have asked you before, but it never hurts to ask again. Do you have any publishing connections? Do you know a publishing rep? Or a publishing company looking for a non-fiction author? If so, email me right away. I am busy compiling the names and potential resources within the publishing industry. This year it will happen because there is simply no other option. I set out to accomplish this and now, my closest friends and family are "calling me out on it." I can't let them down nor can I let myself down. This will happen in 2014.

And, once I have a contract signed, sealed and a book is being printed, rest assured I will let you know the date it hits the market. You, my blog readers, will be notified in a BIG way!

This will be an amazing year, one also filled with good health. However, I have put in for a year that includes "prosperity" and "a bit of good fortune." There is a lot happening this year and I want to be a part of everything going on. To make that happen, the "financial" aspects of my life need to change for the better. As I see it, this book can and will make that happen. Am I being overly optimistic? Not at all. I am confident, of course, and that's a good thing for anyone. I do believe in my project -- I am very proud of my work. I cannot wait to have it published and finally in the hands of everyone around the world. (or on their computer screens)

Oh, and by the way, wishing you and your family a happy, healthy and prosperous new year.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Forgetting ... Celebrating ... And FInding my Voice

Despite my best intentions and although I keep hoping my brain will function at 100 percent capacity, I still forget stuff. I call it "latent chemo brain" syndrome. (Simply another side effect of all the drugs I've had over the years plus my chemotherapy regimen back in 2002.) There are times I'm glad just to remember my own name. (Trust me, I probably don't know yours.)

Anyway, I was recently "reminded" that I forgot some vital things that were a part of our holiday celebration. For instance, I mentioned we had latkes. But, I forgot to note that these were not just any average latkes. They were vegan latkes -- created by Edward, so that all of us (including Brian) could enjoy the holiday favorite. He never asked his Dad to make them and would have never complained had he not. However, we were all able to enjoy these delicious and probably his best ever potato latkes. Ed is still "talking" about them and even said he should have brought some to the housewarming party held on Dec. 17 at Adrienne's and Jason's new home.

Speaking of housewarming parties and gifts -- Edward also gave the happy new homeowners (it's in Adrienne's room) a brand new iMac computer. Her former system was very, very old and hardly functioned -- thus, Adrienne really needed a new computer in order to stay in touch with the world. Needless to say, she is thrilled.  Jason is also enjoying a new device that allows him to wave his hands (almost like magic) and have things move across the screen. I'm not a techie person and Ed has told me about a dozen times the name of this device, but I keep forgetting. (Another moment.) Whatever it is called,  I know that Jason will enjoy being able to use it and hopefully, Adrienne will also master the "new device" as well.  Another surprise for the couple was when Jason's family gave them a new high definition, big screen television. It has a prominent spot in the great room.

The housewarming / holiday party was a huge success. The couple prepared their "deliciously famous" cheese fondue. (Yummy!) Plates of fresh French bread, carrots, apples and broccoli were set out to accompany the fondue. They also put out mini kosher "pigs in the blanket" along with chips and salsa. There were some cupcakes, cookies and a friend of hers brought along a chocolate cake made by another co-worker. The cake was "awesome." I wanted more but I knew my blood glucose levels were already off the charts. (Cheating during the holidays is okay, but I could tell that I would be paying the price for my indulgence.)

I know that they enjoyed showing off their adorable new home -- located in Davenport, Polk County. The housing development is surrounded by orange groves, so it's a fairly rural area. The good news is that "shopping" and plenty of it is located conveniently nearby. Within a short driving distance, they can find a Publix, Walmart, Target, Winn Dixie, ALDI, and a multitude of other stores including Lowes (where they have been known to spend a great deal of time) and several dollar stores. Although they have not really met any neighbors, I'm sure that they will soon be making new friends.   As a brand new development where construction is still underway, it is exciting to realize the potential.

The month of December always tends to be a bit crazy and this year is no exception.  I have already eaten way too much. Today, after doing my basic spin class (30 minutes) I attended a luncheon at Chili's for the Y's program committee members.  Tomorrow, I will be attending a volunteer recognition luncheon at the Y and on Friday, following Zumba, we are holding a class party. Seriously! I keep eating and eating, which can only mean I must keep exercising too.

On top of all this, I've lost my voice. (I'm trying to find it,) About a day and a half ago, I noticed my voice started sounding differently. It is now quite raspy and although I have attempted to keep from talking, it has been nearly impossible. Try attending a luncheon without speaking.  At least while writing this blog, I have remained silent. (Except for when Ed called me -- even though I had text him a message indicating my voice was nearly gone.) I have no idea why my voice has suddenly gone away, although my theory is "that it's weather related." We have had real ups and down with our temperatures here -- going from lows in the upper 40s to highs in the upper 60s or low 70s. The sudden chill in the air is not good for my body and this may be another "sign" that cold weather and I do not get along well. A couple of weeks ago, (during another cold front) I was in a lot of physical pain. I was reaching for extra pain medication because my body was  having a difficult time handling the cold. Now, it's my voice. Fortunately, I feel fine (no fever and no sore throat) -- but I have started taking a nasal decongestant just in case.

I told a friend during lunch "All I want for Christmas is my voice." I fully intend to "fully" recover.  I have had a healthy 2013 and the game plan is for 2014 to be an extremely healthy year. I will not accept anything less.

While my brain may not always be in tip-top form, I am keeping this "body" in the best shape possible. I have heard that "we" can ward off serious mental health challenges (including dementia) by staying in good physical shape. So, here it is -- my only resolution for the coming year... to stay healthy. If that is accomplished, I can certainly do everything else I have on my agenda .. and more.