I just celebrated my 52nd birthday and I couldn’t be feeling more grateful. 52 is not your typical milestone birthday, but for me it holds enormous meaning.
Last year on my 51st birthday, I promised myself to truly, fully enjoy the upcoming year. You see, in 2009, I lost my sister to brain cancer on her 51st birthday. She didn’t get to see 52.
Patty embodied life. She lit up a room by her nature. She was generous and there for you before you even realized you needed the help. She inspired me as a mom, and when I had children a decade after she did, she guided me with loving, meaningful advice and direction. My kids adored her – they couldn’t help it – she was fun, playful and spontaneous.
Grappling with the unfathomable mystery of her brain cancer diagnosis, battle and untimely death at 51 is largely what motivated me to create Greener Cleaner LIVING. How does a fit and healthy 51 year old woman develop life-threatening glioblastoma and die within a month of being diagnosed? The cause of this rare cancer is not known; but like many other forms of cancer, autoimmune disease and chronic illness, it is associated with certain genetic changes and environmental factors. So if she did not inherit it, then what exactly in her environment played a role? Did this happen a long time ago, over time or just recently? Could it be the air she breathed, water she drank, food she ate, home furnishings, the products she used to clean, or cosmetics and beauty items? Or an overload of multiple toxic exposures?
A career designing healthy hospital environments has given me a technical background and expertise to dive deep into just how our individual environment can malign or benefit our health. But it’s Patty’s inspiration that has given me the motivation and passion to help people understand the dangers of toxic exposure overload, and change some things in their lives to protect themselves from hazards they may not have even known exist. By teaching people how to protect their own health and create safer, cleaner home environments – easily and cost-effectively – I help them become empowered to improve their lives and those of their whole family.
When I too reached my 51st birthday, it’s no surprise, I thought about my sister. I committed to celebrating my fifty-first year with all the passion, adventurousness, and drive with which Patty surely would have lived hers. And I would do so in her honor.
I’ve been thinking on this a lot this past week, a year later. I’ve been going over in my mind all that I have gotten to experience, create and build this past year. Appreciating all the things I said “Yes” to, both professionally and personally, and all those I’ve been fortunate to work with. At the same time, I am reflecting on some tough times of the past year, including more heartbreaking loss and grief…
What’s amazing, is that especially during the challenging times this year, I kept in mind my promise. And even during turmoil, good things showed up like bright, loud, colorful fireworks. Blasts of creativity, hope, and meaning brought on through stripped down, simple moments of true connection experienced with my family, friends, and colleagues – old and new.
So now, I am ready for another new year. And each new birthday, I will be making the same promise to myself I did last year: to live life out to the fullest, and help others do the same, each and every day.