I’m a people pleaser. There I said it. It’s out there in the universe. I cringe when I think someone doesn’t like me. I always have. Funny thing is, I don’t even know the reason. I could guess at a few. But at my age, does it matter?

It’s a habit I need to let go of. So what if everyone doesn’t like you? Is that the reason I’ll die on the day when death is at my door? I hardly think so. But it may very well bring on the stress that makes situations worse than they are.

I do believe that being a people pleaser brings me to my knees at times. My choices in life should never be based on whether someone likes me or not. But sometimes they are. And on this day, I’m choosing to do something about it.

First thing on the list, is realizing this IS a choice. Most people do care in some way whether they’re liked or not. Otherwise, why would we ask how we look or seek out the answers to the infamous questions? Do I look fat in this? How’s my hair? And so on.

To truly give up what others think of you, means to risk being criticized, talked about and to not give a fuck. Well today is the day of the beginning of my Zero Fuck stage in my life.

If you’re my friend, then you’re my friend. It’s not based on superficial reasons. It’s because we’ve done the work to learn about each other. To care about each other. You’re not going to stop being my friend because I make a choice that doesn’t affect you. If it does, I’ll talk to you about it. I’m talking about things like where do I go on vacation? What charity to support? Not about whether you should have children or not. There’s superficial and then there’s real.

I want to begin to live my life in my lane and my way. Without wondering if there’ll be backlash because I choose to do one thing over another. It’s my life. Why should others have a voice in it? As a cancer patient I have enough people telling me what to do and when to do it. If we’re to truly believe in the right to pursue happiness, why is my happiness always on the back burner?

I’m a damn people pleaser. That’s why.

Life is short. People pleasing is tiring. I may have less friends because of it, but they weren’t really friends in the first place if they want that type of control. Life is even shorter than you think. I’m gonna go do me now.

I’m still going to be of service. That doesn’t change. It’s just where and with whom being of service is. It’s my choice. Time is the only true commodity we as people own that we give to others. I’ve forgotten that in that equation is time for me.

People pleasers don’t usually take time for themselves. My clock has two hands. One for you and one for me. It’s time to start using mine. Before it’s too late.

Cancer free! The words you long to hear. What does it really mean? It really means until the next test, you can breathe and allow yourself to live your life to the fullest. To understand the phrase, you first have to understand that once you’ve had cancer, you’re never free again. There will always be tests, monitoring of your blood, PET scans, MRIs, CT scans and all sorts of tests that feel more like biology experiments, than life. The scariest of all tests. The PET scan! The one that looks for spread of the cancer cells.

“Cancer free”. The chains loosen their grip for a time and you can get back to a normal way of life. Depending on how normal your life was before. LOL.

I’ve probably had more needles in me than a junkie on skid row in the 70’s. Mine are clean and disease free, but needles nonetheless.

My core muscles have been cut more the sliced deli turkey. Your core is the centre of your body. Your balance is derived from the core and so, until that heals, if it ever fully does, I’ll have to be careful not to go too fast and fall.

I’m waiting in anticipation for our building pool to open and my scar to heal so I can walk in the pool to regain some strength. The more I can do that, the more normal I’ll feel.

What’s your normal? Mine right now is walking around the house, working a bit at my desk, pretending I can work an office job and rest. God, my body never seems to have enough rest.

I want so much to find purpose and to share my experience so that others understand what we go through. It’s not a one and done deal. It’s a long process to try and regain who you were physically.

Mentally, you’ll never be the same. I feel more grateful for my time here on Earth. Everyday is a gift and a way to give back. I search for ways to spread information. This blog included. I look for ways to quiet my fear. I’m hoping that the more time passes, the more I can handle the fear. I look for ways to raise funds for cancer research. So many people don’t want to talk about it.

How can you make people believe that cancer doesn’t rub off on other people and you can’t get it from touch. It’s this kind of ignorance I’d like to speak about. I’d love to go around to groups and talk about my experiences with this journey so far. If anyone has any ideas, feel free to chime in and get in touch. I’m really looking to connect with people who are willing to use the experience to empower people in daily life.

It’s time we realized that cancer is an awakening. A chance to grow. Forced or not, it’s a real chance to get your shit straight in a meaningful way. To learn your boundaries. Your needs. Your desires.

Cancer is still just a word that describes a condition. It’s not who you are.

I’m so grateful that mine was caught in time. So I’m “cancer free”. At least until I’m not. I may never get it again. But it helps me keep my focus on each day. We’re all dying. We’re all terminal. By the very fact that we’re alive, we get a clock that starts ticking the day we’re born. How will you use your ticking time bomb?

If you’d like to donate to my journey to wellness and to help others in their journeys, please click here to donate to my walk fund. It’s a road to a purposeful life.

I sit here in the quiet of the morning. Birds singing their songs outside my window. I’m content. I’m excited. I’m in awe of the event to come this evening.

Tonight Cathy Richardson, the City Winery Chicago and myself, are putting on a benefit for the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness And Research Centre. Click here to purchase tickets.

It’s been fifteen years since I’ve produced a benefit show, but I still remember the gratitude I felt that day. It’s equal to what I’m feeling now. To have such a beautiful venue, a kick ass band, and everyone that’s supported us along the way, get us to this moment, is nothing short of devine intervention. I’m proud of everyone who has given so selflessly to make this evening come to fruition.

The ONJCWRC is a place where miracles are happening. Treatment for all types of cancer, and programs that involve wellness for the whole person. Mind, body and soul, are what we’re supporting tonight.

Olivia is the inspiration for tonight’s show. As well as the 40th Anniversary of Grease. So expect some of your favorite ONJ songs to be played as well as Cathy’s most well known songs.

If you can’t make it, please consider a donation to my ONJCWRC Wellness Walk Fund. Click here to donate. Every dollar counts.

Thank you to:

Cathy, her band, Olivia Newton-John, Michael Caprio, Libby, Dan, and the entire staff of the City Winery, John Landecker (our host), Kat, Prof. Jonathan Cebon, Debbie Schiell, and the staff of the ONJCWRC, and especially to everyone who has purchased tickets to support this amazing evening.

In my mind, it’s already a success, because it’s happening. Whatever comes of it is gravy. When the intent is good and comes from a place of kindness, how can it be anything but positive?

I can remember sitting on the phone at night with friends. Cackling about the days’ events. A simpler time. A simpler life. Do you long for it? I do. Do you remember what it was like before your ear was attached to a computer?

I feel the need for more human contact lately. We’re such a cold society. Dating apps via the phone, swipe this way, pray they swipe the other. Will I get the call? Will that job be mine? It’s all too fast these days. Too easy to say no to someone, or to say yes without really having meant it. There’s no thought process given to our answers anymore. So, that yes texted too quickly, means we may have to come up with an excuse as to why we can’t make it.

I don’t do that. I don’t play those games. If I call you, I want to chat. I want to hear about the news in your life. I hope you want to know mine.

When I’m talking to someone I’m not worrying about their plan minutes. Damn it, you should have all that figured out before you’ve picked up that call. We’ve become so attached to our little machines, that we can’t do anything without thinking about our mind numbing little security blankets.

They’ve invaded the way we tell time. Your kids are screaming while you check to see if you got a text before you see what they need. Parenting isn’t evolving. It’s just become more cold. Is there an app for that? Word for parents. Double score using the word love. Triple score of you can use it in a relevant sentence.

I long for the days when we’d run to see who was on the phone because to get a call was something special. Usually a grandparent checking on how we all were. Or to make plans for a free weekend. I wouldn’t call it innocence, I’d call it owning the times within which we live.

We do that now. It’s just that they’ve become timus interruptus machines. We all sit in a room not talking. Check email, FB, Twitter, Instagram, Instastories, FB Live, Snapchat (not so much), Tinder, Grindr, and all other timesuck apps that take us away from the one thing we need. Each other.

We text each other to come over so we can sit and not talk about what it was we forgot we wanted to chat about in the first place.

Do you need to talk? I’m here for you. If you need me, just buzz me.

All bullshit phrases these days. In translation, just text me and maybe I’ll get back to you because your time is obviously more important than mine to actually pick up the phone.

Well, fuck that. I am here. I DO listen. And I actually pick up the phone. I give what I want in return.

I don’t understand the cold connections of the heart these days. Was I born too soon? Too late? In the wrong century? I long for letters written in cursive writing and the ones that still smell of real ink.

I can remember my first Montblanc pen. Which means there was more than one. I treasured them like I did a gift that for a special occasion. I signed important papers with them. Cards and important checks.

Come to think of it though, I never wrote a love letter with one. Times evolved too quickly.

Damn. I never wrote a love letter with my Montblanc pen. $500 later I rarely take out my baby. It sleeps in its case. And I’m writing this blog on my phone. Not in longhand. Suddenly a rush of shame comes over me. I’m who I write about.

I gotta go return a call. Text me later?

I’m home now having lived through another surgery. Grateful to be here. I’ve survived being cut in half again. I’m beginning to feel like a Vegas magician’s assistant, without the tickets or the revenue.

Seems like my reward is to live to see another day and a few Vicodin pills to rid my body of the pain.

Not that I’m complaining. Another day is what I ask for before I close my eyes at night.

It’s Sunday night. It’s quiet in the house. Sleep is all around me. The quiet murmur of purring and snoring. In between the sound of good sleep, the thoughts of fear keep slipping into my brain.

In three days, I will undergo another operation to repair some of the damage my original cancer operation caused.

There’s no way to go into something like this without a hint of fear. It would be inhuman to think that someone is so brave that fear does. not touch them. Fear can motivate. In fact, in my case it’s causing me to remember to live in the moment. To say I love you. To show appreciation for kindness shown with no expectation.

Everyone is going through something. I’ve heard some awfully sad things this week from my friends and those are the times when you feel helpless. You can’t change someone else’s pain. You can only offer your wishes of a better time and give them love.

My first instinct is to always ask what I can do. Truth is, in some cases there’s just nothing you can do. But I know that at least the offer is on the table, with the hope that they know I’m here to listen if need be. I call. Leave a loving message and hope they feel my love.

We never know what someone else is going through on any given day. And we’ve become a society that doesn’t ask. We text, we FB message, we email, and we disconnect from the reality of relationships.

I love nothing more than a great chat on the phone. It reminds me of late nights as a teen talking away about life with my friends. Making a real connection. Hearing the tone of another person’s voice is so important. Today we don’t hear tone anymore. Because we don’t use our phones to talk. We use them to avoid the deeper connection we should be having.

So, if you’re a good friend of mine and want to know how my operation goes, pick up the phone.

And listen to my voice.

When I think of you, I think of a woman who for decades, I wanted to be. And wanted nothing more than to fill your shoes. To be THAT talented, beautiful AND smart, was all I dreamed of. Your beautiful soul just added to the package. Would I ever measure up?

Then we come to the full bodied, silky toned voice. Yeah, I put that voice in as many spots as I could. Sometimes I put you last at an audition, so I could catch up on your most recent activities. You’re busy. Kids, working, love, I get it. But I’d at least have those few minutes to drink in your thing.

It’s important to tell people how you feel. I’ve been up all night and this morning you happen to be my target. You’re as incredible as they come. You have the magical phenomenon of not seeing your own gift.

But knowing enough to have fought for it to be your livelihood and your joy. Your award winning and validated gift.

You’ve directed theatre works as well. Faced the fear of telling your fellow actors what to do and how to do it. It’s got to be like looking in a mirror and criticizing yourself to get the best out of you.

I’m trying to think of three words to end this post with. You are : unbreakable, sensitive, and more than anything else self-aware. Oh, you tend to keep that to herself. But you, Lia know yourself. And I’m so lucky to say I not only know you, but that I love who you are, too.

You’re the gold that flows in every fleck of your twinkling eyes.

You are a special person. Filled with beauty and flaws. Flaws are perfection in their imperfection. So let imperfection help you understand the moments you live.

Because you’re meant to live baby. Yes. Live.

Photos by Joe Mazza/Brave Lux