Empowering Ourselves During Uncertain Times

For the past 15 years, The Foundation for Living Beauty has provided programs that are built to address the mind, body, and spirit. Although our programs are specifically for women with cancer, the tools and education that you gain can be applied to any situation. Our goal is to provide you with as many resources that can benefit you throughout your journey and we want to continue to create connection and community especially during this time of social distancing.

Last week we had our first online meditation with facilitator Kristin Dwan and in preparation for her meditation we collected responses to help shape and facilitate the group based on your needs. In the responses that we’ve received, some ladies have shared that during this time of uncertainty, they are feeling anxious, overwhelmed and uneased. These emotions may be familiar to you as it relates to your cancer diagnosis. Together we are working to find the light in a very difficult and dark situation, and instead of allowing it to distance us completely, we are working to connect even more and be even stronger.

Below we’ve listed some resources that can transform your feelings of unease and uncertainty to empowerment.

Something for the MIND

The CALM app, is offering free resources during this time, including meditations, mindfulness resources and more.

Another way to start your meditation practice would be to go outside…Listen to the birds, and see how many different ones you can hear. Take off your shoes and stand on the earth (another plus is that the gravitational pull from the earth neutralizes some of the radiation in your body). Smell the flowers and the grass.  Find shapes in the clouds.  Sit quietly and listen to the universe talking to you. These are great tools for meditating when your mind is racing with other things.

Something for the BODY

Many of you have experienced the soothing calm of essential oils at our retreats.  Now is a good time to pull out those oils, including lavender, chamomile and more.  Here is a link to a great article about anxiety-reducing and soothing oils, and features info from our wonderful facilitator Hope Gillerman!

Try to take 10 – 15 minutes each sunny day and sit outside in the sunshine. A vitamin D deficiency causes anxiety in many women. Most women are already vitamin D deficient.  Staying indoors now contributes to that deficiency.  Ten minutes will boost your vitamin D intake!

Something for the SPIRIT

Our talented facilitator Chris Causey is posting free guided meditations on Facebook.  We encourage you to follow him here and take time to experience his calming presence.

Something for COMMUNITY

Now that we are practicing social distancing, it is even more important that we maintain emotional connections with those we care about and be sure to not isolate ourselves completely.  Check out this great article about staying emotionally connected during this challenging time. 

And as always, you can connect with your Living Beauty sisters! Log into our weekly zoom open chat and connect with other Living Beauties.  Keep a lookout for our emails with the link to join.

Question of the week:  What are you doing during this time to lower your anxiety?  Please share your tips for calm!

We’re sending much love and virtual hugs to you, today, and every day!

Nancy, Indyra, Ariana, and Mariella

More Resources –

Yoga 4 Cancer – Tari is offering a FREE yoga class every Monday at 11 am PST (2pm EST). Click here you register.
Tari is also offering on-demand classes that are available 24/7 also free of charge. Click here to view her library of classes.

Healing Breath Yoga – Sharon Holly is also offering donation-based virtual yoga classes. Contact Sharon for her weekly schedule.

Healing Studio Online – Facilitator Pierre Etienne and his colleagues are offering weekly group sessions on topics such as, “Practicing Wellness in Times of Crisis”, “Reduce and Manage Stress” and “Empowering Our Best Selves”. To get information on how to register, please email Pierre at [email protected]

Insight LA – is offering free online meditations in Spanish every Wednesday at 9 am PST. Please contact the Living Beauty office for the conference dial-in number.

Canplan – is offering a free digital download of their cancer planner starter kit. This is an organizational tool to help with your cancer journey and track your health journey overall.

YSC – The Young Survivors Coalition is also hosting virtual support for cancer survivors, along with other educational materials and blogs. Check out the links to learn more!

Cancer and Careers – Cancer and Careers has a ton of online resources that can be accessed. From ongoing webinars to their video archive and their free publications and blogs. They are also offering virtual support from career coaches and resume reviews.

Mind Over Money – Rita is offering free online support services, including her Money 101 workshop. Check out her website for more information.

Lyft – the LyftUp program is here to help people who need access to reliable and affordable transportation.

Food Resources – in Pasadena and in Los Angeles.

Meditation Apps – Calm and Flow.is are both free meditation apps that are available.

Breath Exercises to Strengthening Lungs – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qViH3a4S-Uk&feature=youtu.be

Grocery Store Deliveries – although there may be a fee associated with the delivery, we wanted to share these grocery stores that are delivering in order to avoid going physically!

https://delivery.sprouts.com/ *first delivery is free!

Critical Delivery Service –
the Workforce Development, Aging, and Community Services Department is offering temporary delivery services of groceries, household items and vital necessities for those who cannot leave their homes. Deliveries can be made 24/7. Call (888) 863-7411 to request services.

How to Make Your Own Face Mask – http://blog.japanesecreations.com/no-sew-face-mask-with-handkerchief-and-hair-tie

If you know of any other resources that can be helpful during this time, please email [email protected]

Also, we are continuing to offer weekly virtual programs. Please be sure to look out for our weekly emails or check out our calendar of events page to stay up to date!

A Passion For Pigmentation

This Spring, we connected Living Beauty Kim with Misti Barnes, certified Collagen Restoration Therapist, Micropigmentation Artist, and Phibrow Microblading Technician. Together, they began a journey to enhance Kim’s post mastectomy scars with areola pigmentation.

What is an areola pigmentation service?

MB: Areola Pigmentation is the placement of organic pigments – via a tattooing device – in the breast where the nipple/areola complex.  The look as natural and real as possible, with proper shading that gives the appearance of a nipple/areola. It is relatively painless, and may require one touch-up four weeks after the initial procedure.

 

How do you feel this can influence a women’s inner confidence after cancer?

MB: Breast cancer can be a devastating illness that affects a woman in many ways. Often times, after treatment and surgery, clients may have scars, or a lack of color in the areola area, which leaves them feeling “incomplete.” After the treatments, my clients say they feel, “more feminine and whole looking.” It is so rewarding to be a part of a process that can give a woman the sense that she is the woman she was prior to the diagnosis.

 

Kim, how did Living Beauty help you connect with Misti?

KA: I discovered, to my dismay, that post mastectomy, and post reconstruction nipple tattooing, for breast cancer, was not covered through my insurance.  Indeed, my insurance wanted me to show why areola pigmentation “was necessary” and to submit records of double mastectomy and reconstruction! In San Diego I got prices of $600-$800. Considering my medical fees already, nipple tattoos became less important although I felt aesthetically, I needed them. It is a shame that one has to go through these hoops, after having undergone such radical treatment in the first place.

 

So I posted in the Facebook Living Beauty page asking if anyone had information on how to get around this. Within a couple weeks, Ariana from Living Beauty called me to say that Misti had been in touch with Living Beauty to offer her services, as this was one of the many things she does, and she was willing to help in any way possible.

 

Misti, why did you decide to share this service with a Living Beauty? What makes this organization special to you?

MB: I wanted to be of service to others, and this seemed like a way to use my talents in a meaningful way. When I saw what The Foundation for Living Beauty was doing, I knew I wanted to be a part of it. There’s nothing better than feeling you have helped someone – in whatever small manner – feel great about themselves.

 

Kim, what was the process like with Misti? Did she make you feel comfortable, excited, empowered?

 

KA: Misti genuinely cares. She sincerely wants to do the best job possible.  Given the permanent nature of tattooing, this is so important, because what if I wasn’t happy with, let’s say, the size of the areola, if they were, for example, too large, or too dark?

 

Misti has an incredible personality: She is easy to get on with and very open to discussing all my concerns.  Because of how sensitive, in every way, this was, the fact that she reassured me, and that I felt I was in excellent hands, allowed me to feel comfortable baring my scars, and excited to know she was helping me achieve something that was previously unaffordable.

 

What does this process mean for you and your journey?

 

KA: Aesthetically, pre-tattooing, my scars were visibly the main focus.  All I could see were my scars. The art and beauty of my new tattoos took away the focus on the scars and made me feel so complete. It was like I’d had eyes without pupils! Misti completed something that was disturbingly incomplete. One always carries the emotional and physical scars of breast cancer, and after reconstruction, I was “kinda” happy with my boobs, but they still looked weird. What Misti has done for me now is to complete my journey, and give me the best outcome possible.  My scars will always be there, but behind perfect nipples, which make a world of difference!

 

Misty, what is your relationship like with your patients, woman to woman?

MB: I like to think of myself as a coach and a friend through this process, educating my clients, and cheering them on. They’ve been through a lot of trauma, and they need to feel cared for. Honestly, I’m more excited than my clients are, most of the time, because I know how great they’ll feel when they’re done, and that the rewards for doing this procedure are priceless.

Corporate Spotlight: stila’s Living Beauty, Sarah Lucero

Currently serving as Global Executive Director of Creative Artistry for stila Cosmetics, Sarah Lucero is without a doubt a #GoddessBoss. Given her rockstar status, charismatic spirit, and experience with The Foundation for Living Beauty, we asked if she’d be willing to chat with us to kick off our first corporate spotlight. We covered everything from yoga retreats to brow pens, and how The Foundation for Living Beauty serves as a source of community and strength for women journeying with cancer. Our conversation unfolds below.

How did you get involved with The Foundation for Living Beauty?

My friend Janice, who was the head of PR at stila at the time, had arranged this event. Women were getting their hair done and their makeup done by stila, and were getting totally pampered. At the time, I was still going through chemotherapy for breast cancer, so for me it was great that she had aligned stila with that group. I’m so grateful that she did that.

I know that Janice had wanted to align with an organization like Aime’s, which asked the question: for women going through this right now, how do we help them during or after their experience in a way that’s less stressful?

On that same day, I got to meet Aime, mingle around, and meet these amazing women who were getting their makeup done. It was an emotional experience for me, yet it was this interesting environment that was both healing and comforting at the same time.

With The Foundation for Living Beauty, Janice found this great opportunity, stila donated money, and then through me and my situation it was the perfect timing and organization to align with in every way. I’m incredibly grateful that it all came together.

How did The Foundation for Living Beauty help you during your journey with cancer, and how has it impacted you since then? 

Number one, it connected me with so many other women going through something similar, which was comforting and a relief to know, in a way. When you’re going through cancer—or even after—you don’t know how you’re feeling. Especially afterwards, everyone’s like, “Yay let’s celebrate, it’s over,” and you’re still facing it.

It’s very lonely, and having a community of women who understand that without having to say or explain it is a blessing. It’s a relief to know that it’s ok to feel that way, even if you can’t quite articulate it. The Foundation was a community of support and strength that I didn’t even think I needed.

Number two, the yoga retreats… Tari Prinster who leads them is such a gift. The retreats taught me how to navigate my body, learn to trust my body, and feel strong again without fearing surgery or scar tissue or feeling unsure about something.

Meeting people just through the retreat, having the classes, learning the basics of nutrition and which things to incorporate now—the knowledge is exceedingly important.

There are so many different ways The Foundation has helped me and is still helping me. It’s a completely new way of life, and when you’re exploring something new and unfamiliar, your confidence has been shot down. So everything is a little bit different. That’s hard in and of itself. Things change, but having The Foundation has helped me find my confidence again in so many ways, which is incredibly healing.

More than that, the retreats and programs they have—even if it’s just a one day makeover—remind me to take the time. Be in the moment. Look at what’s happened or is happening—don’t ignore it. It reminds me that healing is a process that takes time, however long it needs to take. I’m just realizing that now.

It’s all great, but the healing emotionally and mentally is a long time coming…which is ok! But knowing I have that support, it’s less scary. It may be unfamiliar, but it’s ok. I have a group of people I can ask or reach out to and not feel judged. If I want to know how to navigate something, see what they did in a particular situation, or share my own tips, it’s a safe space.

I also love when people do something that is missing or needed. A big corporation can’t find that little missing link, but these are the things that are important. They are right now, and your money is going toward something that is helping someone—whether they’re going through it, or after. It’s lifelong wellness.

And caregivers are an important thing too. These people have been around helping, and sometimes you forget about what they went through. There should be more for them, but there’s not.

What’s one stila product you can’t live without?

Number one, the brow color Stay All Day pen. It’s an eyebrow pen. I was actually able to lab-test that product, and product development gave me them when I was going through chemo. I got to test it, and it works! Now I use it every day, so I love showing women how to boost their brows naturally.

My other one is called convertible color. It’s a cream blush you can also use as lipstick. It comes in a compact, and gives your face a glow and your lips a flush. It’s definitely a makeup bag must-have.

Thank you, Sarah, for your support and willingness to share your story with us!

 

Facilitator Spotlight: Kitty Blincoe

Kitty Blincoe has a particularly unique perspective as a yoga facilitator for The Foundation for Living Beauty, because she herself is a cancer survivor. Fourteen years ago, Kitty was diagnosed with kidney cancer in the midst of a successful, fast-paced career as a fashion executive. After her oncologist recommended reiki, Kitty began to recognize the power of blending Eastern + Western modalities. She says that after discovering yoga and reiki, she left fashion with a drive to dive into wellness. “Learning to breathe + practice yoga taught me boundaries and self care,” she explains. “I refer to myself as a ‘recovering type A.’ But [if you have cancer], you can find a new normal, day by day.”

Kitty has attended yoga retreats with The Foundation for Living Beauty as both a participant and a facilitator – she now assists Tari Prinster, who was one of the first instructors to help Kitty “slow down.” Instructor Max Strom, whose mantra is “breathe to heal,”  also influenced Kitty’s journey and commitment to yoga. “It was the breathing that hooked me – it’s a tool in my toolbox.” Also in Kitty’s yoga toolbox? Remixed Beatles music, restorative yoga and sound baths.

After reflecting on her journey from the busy corporate world of New York’s fashion scene to a peaceful community in San Diego, Kitty professes: “I like to say that doctors saved my life, but yoga gave me a life worth living.” It’s this life in San Diego that she’s generously sharing with The Foundation for Living Beauty, working to help facilitate future yoga events in San Diego. “I’m happy to introduce the Foundation to my community in San Diego, because the people are so authentic. The foundation honors our craft, and honors us as people. They honor each and every woman and the facilitators alike! My experience has always been that the events attract a special group of women who come together for a place to unwind, heal, learn tools to cope and manage daily life after being touched by cancer. No drama, no politics, just pure love and sisterhood. A tribe connected by cancer, strengthened by each other. A way to have the important “support group” without it being a traditional support group. An studies have shown being a part of a support group increases chance of survival significantly. It is my honor to share Light with anyone who needs a little to brighten their day.”

You can learn more about Kitty at www.kittyblincoe.com, or visit her in person at Sanctuary Z, her Sleep, Stretch and Stress Management space in Carlsbad, CA. 

Olivia

Surviving cancer has given me the ability to soar.  Though my body is still in pain, I’ve learned if I focus on spirit, I experience true freedom, joy, and awareness. My spirit gives me the courage to speak out about my journey, and I now hope to be a voice for all who cannot speak for themselves.  The inner bliss I feel gives me an infinite knowing of our universal oneness and of the greatness we all possess.  I now see inspiration all around me.  I see inspiration in you.

Debbie

When I received my medical diagnosis in 2010 a spiral of negative thoughts began to overwhelm me.   “What’s going to happen next? How will I pay my bills if I can’t work? How will I tell my friends, my loved ones?”  I felt caught in a web of inertia — a tire stuck in the mud.

I began practicing a wide variety of calming techniques ranging from recognizing negative thoughts and replacing them with more productive and empowering ones, to incorporating a mindfulness practice into my daily routine.  The expression of gratitude, repeating meditative affirmations as well as allowing humor were key ingredients in healing and dissolving fear.  Once I set foot on this particular path of awareness my road of treatment was paved with clarity, strength and acceptance.

I was introduced to the Foundation for Living Beauty.  It is difficult to find the words to express the gratitude and undying love I have for this organization and all involved. All I can say is attending the “Goddess Wellness Retreat” sponsored by The Foundation for Living Beauty in November of 2014 was like landing in the arms of a million angels.

It doesn’t take a bout with cancer to be a strong and powerful warrior. Coming to know the profound connection between our mind and body and embrace our scars (whether they be physical or emotional) gives us strength of character.   Obstacles and limitations mean nothing. For it is not what happens to us that matters, it is what we become through experience that is significant.

Gena

I was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer on October 1, 2009.  I don’t think anyone wants to hear those words but I knew I would beat it.  The gloves were on and I was ready to kick butt.

 

After nine months of chemotherapy, surgery, radiation, I thought I knocked it out.  To my surprise winning that fight was only the beginning.  I spent another year fighting autoimmune issues.  So the testing begins, MRI’s, PET scans, CT scans, blood work.  I was told I would need a liver transplant within a year.  I was in a wheelchair for about 6 months caused by my lupus diagnosis and fatigue that would keep me in bed for days.

 

To say that this was a lot to deal with, it was.  I know that I’m a strong person but at a point you need someone or something to hold you up.  I had my loved ones and friends but I needed someone to really understand what it was like to walk in my shoes.  I joined support groups and cancer organizations that were all very helpful, but I believe the biggest transformation was my first yoga retreat that the Foundation for Living Beauty hosted.  I will never forget the first day.  I felt like I belonged and I was understood.  More importantly, I was embraced so tight I felt completely supported.  I could be strong and vulnerable at the same time.  I met women whose fight was harder than mine and the courage they possessed only made me stronger.  It was the strength in that room that first day that I carry with me.

 

Now when I’m told how amazing I look or how great I’m doing or what an inspiration I am, I know that I carry the strength and courage of these beautiful women.  That is the gift the Foundation for Living Beauty gave me and others fighting cancer.  I did know that first day I was diagnosed that I would survive cancer but I could have never imagined the sisterhood that empowers me every day.  I’M GENA AND I’M A LIVING BEAUTY.

Dyan

My first diagnosis taught me that I needed to be vulnerable.  With my second diagnosis, I am learning HOW to be vulnerable; to embrace all its power, its strengths, its beauty and its full potential…that being vulnerable actually makes you stronger.

Traci

On June 20, 2016, I was diagnosed with breast cancer.  Driving home from the doctor’s office upon diagnosis, I knew in my gut that I’d be able to fight this, that I’d do it with community and family, and that this was somehow a culmination of certain ways of being that I needed to transform and this was the moment to embark on that transformation.  Without even trying, I could feel the shift within me.   I suppose that was the first breath of what “gifts” cancer can bring.

Gift #1 – To finally (begin to) transform my own self in prioritizing my time, my health, my creative process, and my relationships outside of the work.

Gift #2 – The ways in which the community has shown up in every way imaginable and beyond.  Folks got super organized; they set up a Youcaring site, did a full reach out to many circles and pulled together a meal-drop and ride schedule from surgery through chemo, held a benefit after I got through chemo, got artists together to create a chapbook of art and poetry to raise funds.  They’ve all astounded me and have reminded me of my ultimate gratitude for community.

Gift #3 – The connections through cancer and talking about cancer what offers us.  I felt a certain amount of privilege in having ways to speak publicly about my cancer journey.  The connections we make through this path are a true gift.  It’s with all of this that I’m able to fight and survive and thrive alongside cancer…the journey continues.

Dunya

It’s as if something inside me got re-calibrated.  My perception of my role in my family and my priorities and duties shifted entirely.  I began putting myself first with ease.  I tapped into that reserve strength we rarely get to use and I activated my healing, transforming from an off-kilter person to being intensely aware of my spiritual/emotional/physical balance.  Now I keep my center by inhaling and exhaling and forging forward…every day.