A letter to Julia Louis-Dreyfus: 3 keys to beating the breast cancer blues

Dear Julia,

I’m a huge fan of yours and I send my heartfelt wishes for good health and a complete recovery.  I myself just finished up surgery, chemo, radiation and reconstruction after the positive diagnosis of metastatic breast cancer. I’m sure the irony is not lost on you that our diagnosis could be associated with the word “positive.” Nevertheless, there is light at the end of the tunnel, in the tunnel and before the tunnel, if you can learn to adjust your thinking. I hope you are helped by the following “happiness tips” from someone who’s been there/done that, and who was brought onto  RWJBarnabus Health System’s “Women’s Health Initiative” as their optimist expert. 

The very first thing I struggled with when the docs told me I had breast cancer was figuring out where to put my mind. I was frightened, upset, disoriented, sad, overwhelmed, and I couldn’t seem to think straight.

I’m trained as an attorney; that was a weird mental space.

A brilliant man once told me that he doesn’t like to think too much, because when he does, he goes behind enemy lines. That’s just not me. I am by nature a happy person. I call myself a non-recovering laughaholic. I didn’t want that to change. I was terrified it would.  My dear father used to joke that “everything in life is mind over matter. I don’t mind and it don’t matter.” This time, however, things really did matter.

I knew that the key to mentally surviving this ordeal was to find a way to change my perspective about what was happening to me from something negative to something positive.  I might still mind, it might still matter, but I was going to have to “give a shift.”

KEY ONE: Give yourself permission to be happy!  I realized that even though I was given a life-threatening diagnosis, if I let cancer steal my joy… then I’ve died while I’m still alive! And I didn’t want to die while I was still alive. If I lost my happiness mojo, that’s exactly what would  have happened. I’m allowed to be happy! I’m allowed to laugh. I’m  still alive! And while I’m still alive, I’m going to be alive! I came back to this thought a lot.  It always helped me when fear gripped my innards and twisted me inside out. I won’t let cancer steal my joy. 

But you say, Princess Diane Von Brainisfried, how can I be happy when  no-one can give me a guarantee that I’m safe, that I’ll be cured? That’s what I was thinking, until it dawned on me that in asking the universe (and the doctors) for a guarantee that I would live, I was asking for something that didn’t exist…for anyone! No-one has a lockdown on tomorrow.  The proverbial car crashing, the errant branch falling, the glamorous elephant stampeding, there are a thousand ways to check out unexpectedly. Guarantees are for April Fools.  

It dawned on me that even with my diagnosis, I still have everything everyone else has. I have this moment. Nothing less, nothing more. Wait, I have more! I have a new reality that has seeped into my head and my heart. I understand on a profound level what it means that time is seriously precious, and that I truly must make my moments and my relationships count.

KEY TWO: Give yourself permission to be healthy.  I’ve always been a healthy person. I eat well, exercise, and keep a positive attitude.  So when this cancer thing came along, I didn’t know how to view myself. For me, the paradigm of a cancer patient was someone who is sick.   But by the grace of G-d I didn’t feel sick, I didn’t look sick, and I didn’t want to “be” sick.  My brain was having major cognitive dissonance.  I decided that I was still going to consider myself a healthy person. 

It took some mindful moxie to call myself healthy, especially after I started chemo.  My “monkey mind” was taunting me, asking me how could I possibly consider myself healthy, when I had more ports than a horny sailor, one to deliver the Red Devil and two for expanders.  How could I call myself healthy when my bald head made me a dead ringer for Elmer Fudd, and my once voluptuous chest had been reduced to a short stack.   I’ll tell you how I called myself healthy; I gave myself permission!  

The first step was to recognize that other than cancer, I was healthy.  I was “otherwise” healthy.  This line of thinking gave me a laugh. It reminded me of that old riff, “Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?”  Truth is, other than cancer, I am healthy.  When I get a cold, I don’t see myself as a sick person, I see myself as a healthy person with a cold. When I had IBS in college, every emergency trip to the loo didn’t make me think of myself as a sick person. I saw myself as a healthy person who had these inconvenient incidents.  I decided to view cancer the same way. Thus, I learned not to say that I have breast cancer. Instead, I say that I’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer.   Don’t claim it. Don’t own it.   

KEY THREE: Give yourself permission to see this as an adventure! The philosopher Goethe famously stated, “The journey of discovery is not going to new places, but seeing with new eyes.”   A yoga teacher of mine once said, “It’s not what’s happening to you that’s important, it’s what you tell yourself is happening.”  Positive psychologists talk about reframing.  I searched my mind to find a way to look at the situation with new eyes and to reframe what was happening to me in a positive way. I decided to look at it as an adventure!

An adventure carries with it the possibility of excitement! What was I going to find out about myself on this new journey?  What wonderful people would I meet? What new experiences would I encounter? Seeing my circumstances as an adventure and not a curse immediately shifted me from a victim to a victor mentality.  It changed my energy.  Hopeful! Expectant! It was a chance to up my learning curve and go up the next rung of my evolutionary path, which, by the way, I’m farther along than most people, having never received my wisdom teeth. But I do have an L-6, which is kind of akin to a tail. So that’s a wash.

By seeing my breast cancer diagnosis as an adventure, I was borrowing a page from Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning by finding meaning and purpose in the ordeal.  I was also ripping a page from Pollyanna’s playbook and doing her “Glad Game.” I was in good company with these two.

I now look upon breast cancer as a beautiful gift bequeathed to me from the universe. Through it, I’ve been graced with the opportunity to help others find a positive and optimistic way of adjusting and coping with breast cancer.  I’ve had the gift of modeling for my kids that life can hand you a curve ball and you don’t have to fall to pieces. I’ve felt the love and caring of family and friends.  I’ve learned, like the line in the beautiful poem Alicante  by Jacques Prevert, “the present of the present.”  I’ve learned to savor moments deeply. I’ve learned the sustaining nature of passionate dreams and goals. I’ve learned the depth and breadth of my resilience, and the understanding that no matter what comes at me in the future, I’m gonna deal. And so will you! Cause that’s just how the girls in our club roll!

To our health!  To life! To the gift!                                                 XOXOXO,

Princess Diane Von Brainisfried

If you don’t take it on the chin, you’ll get it up the arse.                                       – Princess Diane Von Brainisfried

 

 

YOU ARE RELATED TO ROYALTY & WHY IT MATTERS

Dear Royal Friends,                                                         Did you know you are related to royalty?  Yes it’s true! You may have seen me advocate this principle before, but it’s so important, I want to make sure my new royal friends receive this information and my long-standing fans don’t forget. 

According to my theory,”The Sixth Degree Princess,illustrated below beautifully by my son, Prince Max, and recently proven at the Royal Academy of Brainiacs and Quacks, one way or another we’re all descended from a royal bloodline.  Right side or left, you know who you are. 

 

Why is this theory so important? There’s a magical transformation that takes place when you realize you’re a real princess, as authentic as the kind who wears  a diamond encrusted tiara or sleeps on a mile-high mattress with a little pea. (That’s spelled correctly.) The kind who knows Compassion and Kindness are her middle names. Mine is also Frances. The kind who’s proactively pursuing her bold destiny and carrying out her royal duty to use her gifts and talents to make the world a better place. The kind who knows the power of a smile to brighten the world and gladden a stranger’s heart.

When a person understands that there really is a tiara in her closet, and that her royal roots are not something she acquired at her hair dresser’s, she holds her head higher and walks more assuredly as she moves toward manifesting her destiny.  She awakens to the power of her birthright that is bound up in her sacred duty to explore, unearth and utilize her special gifts and talents to help make her kingdom a more wonderful place in her own, uniquely fabulous way.

So like I’m always hocking you, “Put a tiara in your closet!” Go out there and be the bold and beautiful princess you are!

I’d love to hear what putting a tiara in your closet means to you!  Leave your comments below, princess!

 

XOXOXO,

PRINCESS DIANE  VON BRAINISFRIED

 “Live your royally happy life!™”

 

Hold your tongue-keep your friendships

Dear Royal Friends,     

Our friendships account for a big chunk our happiness currency.

We need to protect them from the damage we can do in a knee-jerk reaction to some perceived or real infraction.

Were you ever just about to indulge in some delightfully decadent dessert, when an inner voice whispered, “Ten minutes on the lips, ten years on the hips?”  Wouldn’t it be fabulous if we had a similar sound “bite” that would give us pause before we lashed out at a friend?  

Here’s one of my favorite sayings that packs more “pause” than a five-legged cat. It goes:  “Least said, soonest mended.”

I understand that sometimes we’re faced with a “straw that broke the camel’s back” moment and we’re mad at a whole bunch of stuff,  and we just want to blow.

Here’s the problem. The salvo might feel good for a moment, but…ten minutes on the lips, ten years on the hips.

“Least said soonest mended.” Try it next time you’re on the brink of ripping your friend a new one. Give yourself the grace of stepping back. Remember what’s at stake. It’s not  just the friendship; it’s also your happiness. 

You can always eat dessert later.

XOXOXO,

PRINCESS DIANE VON BRAINISFRIED

“LIVE YOUR ROYALLY HAPPY LIFE!™”

 

 

Breast Cancer-Tip For Finding A Positive Attitude

Dear Royal Friends,

Life isn’t always a bed of roses, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still have a sweet-smelling garden!  I’m so excited to reveal something to you today….

something very personal,  because if I can help just one of my royal friends face a difficult challenge like breast cancer with greater positivity, then I’ll be happier than a pig in a kosher kitchen. CLICK HERE FOR SHORT VIDEO where I bequeath to you a game-changer of a princess-worthy tip on how to face difficult challenges like breast cancer with a positive attitude.   Cause face it. In life’s garden, nobody escapes the weeds. It’s up to us to learn how to deal with them. 

If you don’t want to miss more on this and other info about living your royally happy life, subscribe above! 

Please SHARE and LIKE if you liked!

XOXOXO, 

Princess Diane Von Brainisfried

“LIVE YOUR ROYALLY HAPPY LIFE!™”

 

 

 

https://youtu.be/4AY0YEY1fBk

There’s a big chunk o’ greatness inside of you!

Dear Princess~                                                                                        Did you know that the magnificent, breathtaking and awe-inspiring statue of David already existed beneath the giant chunk of marble, even before it was created?

According to the artist it did!  Michelangelo said of his statue, ”The sculpture is already complete within the marble block, before I start my work. It is already there. I just have to chisel away the superfluous material.” 

If you’ve let life blow you hither, thither and yon (locations without GPS coordinates,) and you haven’t gotten a foothold into some big, bold, princess-worthy dreams, and you’re beginning to doubt that greatness is even there, rest assured that like the sculptor’s enormous  slab of marble, there is greatness within you!  And the most exciting news is, it’s your own unique, very special brand of greatness.                                                                                              

It’s time to start the excavation!  Go digging for that buried treasure inside of you! Starting NOW is  better than starting never.  We need every princess to contribute her own unique brand of talent!  Now is the best time to enrich yourself and by doing so, enrich the world.

Inspire us…. Let us know what you find on your excavation!

XOXOXOX,

PRINCESS DIANE VON BRAINISFRIED

“Live your royally happy life!™”

One princess’s pudding is another’s poison

Dear Royal Friends~

You’ve undoubtedly heard the expression,  “one man’s poison is another man’s pudding.”  

"You don't like puddin'? Then more for me!"

“You don’t like puddin’? Then more for me!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For example, staying on a “roll” with the food theme, I am not a big fan of pig roasts.  It pains me to see these sad-eyed  little critters crammed all whole and real on a serving platter, their last Wil(bur) and testament being a parsley-plattered  laurel, a sad irony considering it’s certainly not the pig’s victory.  And, good lord, what they do to that poor apple!

Pig roasts, as you might have guessed, are my poison. But some princesses love pig roasts. To them,  it’s their pudding.

And so I was reminded of this pudding/poison axiom as I was strolling through New York City’s Central Park just the other day, when  grey, threatening skies loomed sooner than predicted.  The clouds were not supposed to open up into wetness until evening. But you know what they say, “Man plans, G-d laughs”  and the skies had another idea.  Almost without warning, we in the park got dumped on by a torrent that soon soaked our clothes and packages, and made our sneakers and jellies squeak.  

Many scurried and many scowled, and most did both, harassed by this lapse in weatherman judgement.   I ran under the nearest broad-limbed tree, but the droplets were like heat seeking missiles that found their way through the feathery leaves.   I spied  a table umbrella at a vacant table by a little park cafe and made a bee-line for better cover.

As I stood waiting out the downpour,  feeling slightly grumbly,  I saw a sight that shifted my perception of the unexpected storm.  

You see, running down the hill outside the little park cafe was a young man pushing a baby carriage  in the pouring rain.  He was shouting  “wheeeeeee” “wheeeeee” at the top of his lungs,  and his rain-streaked face sported a smile so brilliant, it was a near match for the absent sun.   Inside the carriage was a golden-haired angel, maybe two or three years old, soaked curls matted against her head,  head tilted up to the sky to receive this gift, giggling and laughing in wild abandon.  Both of her chubby little  arms were outstretched high into the air in order to grasp the raindrops as they whizzed by her in the carriage.

  I will never forget the expression on that little girl’s face. If joy had a face, she was IT.

In that moment I realized that this downpour, this “poison” that was responsible for so many scowls on so many faces, was quintessential pudding to this little girl!  Forget pudding; this was an Eiffel tower-sized  ice cream sundae with rainbow shhhprinkels!  This was  a giant stuffed teddy bear won at a Six Flags roulette wheel.  This was an “I bought you a puppy” even though mommy said “no.”

Suddenly, at the sight of this little cherub’s amazingly happy face, I broke into a Cheshire Cat grin. Her exuberant squeals of delight tickled me princess pink, and what was a moment ago my poison, became instantly my pudding. (Not to be confused with instant pudding.) Right then and there I made a vow  to remember the expression on that little girl’s face forever. To remember the sound of her unfettered and spontaneous glee.  To remember her father’s indulgently playful “wheeeeeee” “wheeeee” all the way home. I shall use these as my shield against the onslaughts of daily little poisons.

And when they assault me, and they will, I will  remember this little girl and her father, and then this little princess will go “wheeee” “wheeee” all the way home to the palace. 

TTFN, P! (Ta Ta For Now, Princess)  

hearts-673345_640 pixabay

 

 

PRINCESS DIANE VON BRAINISFRIED

“Live Your Royally Happy Life!™”

 

 

 

 

 

 

SPRING RENEWAL – FINDING THE POSITIVE WHEN LIFE BRINGS POOP

Dear Royal Friends,

A little bunny told me that spring is hare, I mean here!  Time for recalibratin’, re-evalutatin’, and re-invigoratin’ your outlook on life. Time to push upwards with a new view. Maybe life ain’t that bad. Maybe there’s something wonderful and promising in your life that doesn’t look so great right now.  Listen, if the tulips and daffodils can do it, so can you! They slept as bulbs all winter long, cozy and warm underground.  Then spring came along, they peeped up from the ground, and what did they find? They’re surrounded by fertilizing poop that smells so bad, it’s a wonder they don’t dive back into the earth and grow upside down! 

But they knew how to put a good spin on the stink. They knew their  situation may be hard to take right now, but it’s gonna turn them into one glorious bouquet!

https://pixabay.com/en/woman-flowers-female-sitting-768702/

https://pixabay.com/en/woman-flowers-female-sitting-768702/

 

 

 The ability to find what’s good lurking in what seems bad is one of the biggest keys to a happy life.  You know that joke about the little boy who found poop in the living room under the Christmas tree, and instead of crying, he happily exclaimed, “I know there’s a pony here somewhere!” The trick in life is to try to find that darn pony lurking in every smelly pile.

Very often, it’s these challenges and limitations in our lives that hold something wonderful, if we just remember to look for it.  A perfect example of this is Dr. Seuss. He wrote one of his most famous books, “Green Eggs and Ham,” on a bet he couldn’t write a book with fifty or fewer words. We all know how that turned out.  He got to say, “Here’s egg on your face.”

I remember when I was in college and I had a  painful infection in my tooth and had to rush to the University clinic for an emergency root canal. The tooth then needed a crown. (Perfect for a princess, aye?) Well the little bugger didn’t fit perfectly, and little bits of dinner liked to hang out there.  I thought at the time, “Well this sucks. Food is getting caught in my tooth and I have to floss it out every night.  What a pain!”  But I figured as long as I was flossing the one tooth, I might as well floss them all. And the habit of flossing was born.  Voila. Something good from something bad.

And indeed, like the habit of flossing, learning to find the good in the bad is also a habit, and you would benefit greatly from cultivating it, even in the lighter challenges of your life.  Say you bemoan the fact that you can only afford one really good Little Black Dress. That might feel like a lack.  But with only one LBD, you might find the benefit of working your creativity like nobody’s biz.  One little black dress might be a catalyst to exploring  different ways to express yourself.  A big starburst pin on the shoulder one evening,  a vivid scarf flowing a la Isadora Duncan another,  bangles and baubles on another occasion, red heels on another, a bold statement necklace on another. Necessity is the mother of invention…in the end you learn something wonderful about yourself. You never knew you were such a mother!

Try looking at life from a benefits point of view, even in the hard times. The moment you take a problem and turn it on its head to find the blessing, life gets a whole lot easier, and you get a whole lot happier.

 HAPPY SPRING!  FIND THE BLESSINGS!

hearts-673345_640 pixabay

 

PRINCESS DIANE VON BRAINSIFRIED

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10 SECRETS OF THE HAPPIEST PEOPLE – A LAUNDRY LIST FOR YOUR NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION!

Dear Royal Friends,  

With all my heart I wish you abundant happiness for a fab-YOU-licious New Year.   And I’m not just blowing smoke up your assignment!   I’ve got some royally fantastic, researched-backed information to help make my wish for you come true.  YES, THAT’S RIGHT, did you know there’s a laundry list out there that’s not for wash day, but for a happier life?  I know that may sound like a stretch…using the words “laundry” and “happier life” in the same sentence, that is. 

Photo Credit: Tiago Zaniratti via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Tiago Zaniratti via Compfight cc

As for the idea that royally happy people might share some common attributes, they absolutely do.  

Sonia Lyubomirsky, in  The How of Happiness, has researched  and put together a list of ten things the happiest people do.  I bet you’re already doing some of them!  If you are, or even if you’re not, everyone can do a little something to up their happiness factor.  Why not take a clue from the experts at happiness and make it  part of your New Year’s resolution to UP YOURS! 

How to take action to boost your happiness quotient?  Do more of what’s tried and true on this laundry list.  If you do, be prepared to wash away some  frowns and clean up some smiles.

LAUNDRY LIST OF WHAT THE HAPPIEST PEOPLE DO. 

– Devote time to relationships

– Express gratitude and offer help to those who need it

– Practice optimism

– Cope effectively with difficult experiences and emotions

– Get regular exercise

– Savor life’s pleasures AND commit deeply to the pursuit of life-long          goals

Happy New Year’s Resolution-ing!  

SEE YOU NEXT YEAR!

hearts-673345_640 pixabay

 

 

PRINCES DIANE VON BRAINISFRIED

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