Lightning's Flower

Striking Down Breast Cancer Through Awareness


We Need Some Order Around Here

Being a mom has made it very clear to me that order isn’t such a bad thing. I have found that the only way I can get through a weekly trip to the grocery store is with a weekly meal plan and an organized grocery list. With three kids, getting in and out in 30 minutes is a must. I tend to find different things of interest to read or do or anything while I’m on the hunt for something else. I know I’m not the only one, so as I sit thinking how to organize all of this, I ask for advice. It has been told to me that “asking” is not one of my strengths. I would agree. I recall my mom being a super asker, well at least on opinions.

Which brings me back to lists. I’m looking for great ways to get it together. We have a huge wall calendar, which works wonders for me. I also have my to do lists. The to do today and the to do soon lists. They help too. I also have all these things bookmarked, my version of post it’s on my phone. But I need something to pull it together.

As I look I will share, but what are your ways of keeping things streamlined and in order. I honestly believe the new year it the best time to revamp. If you don’t like what you have switch it up!


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My Best Year Yet

My dad got me a book some years back called Your Best Year Yet. I used it for about two and a half years. The half because I did it a bit too quickly , not so reflective. Well he gave it to me last year. He knew the year had been difficult even prior to Mommy passing. Adding that was enough to push anyone over the edge. But the year also had a lot of positives in it that shouldn’t be forgotten, most importantly finding out we had a new angel on the way. Well I planned to review the ten step process of evaluating the year, but time got away. Well at least consciously, subconsciously I think I just didn’t want to reflect. Reflecting is hard and often painful work.

Well, this year I am up for the challenge. I got the book out so I could reflect and challenge myself. I know I had a lot of goals for the year. My husband always writes 3 goals for every family member and we look at them the end of the year. I was not satisfied with my progress on mine, but I do think I had a productive year. So I will sit and reflect.

How has your year been. Any method that works is great, but in order to get better we have to think about what we have done well, but just as important, if not more, we must think about what we did not do so well. Whether it was a failure or an area needing improvement, we need to reflect in order to grow. It also helps clear baggage. I’m sure I’ve mentioned this, but my mom felt her cancer was in part a manifestation of holding things in.

I challenge you to reflect on your year, plan the next year, and release some of your baggage in the process.


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Go Mommy, It’s your Birthday!


This is the second birthday celebration we haven’t been able to share together. I think last year I was still in a daze, so I think this year has hit me a bit harder. It seems like it has been a lot longer than it really has, and the reality is that this feeling will continue as it really will be more and more time passing.

We were discussing Mommy’s birthday plans in the earlier part of 2012 because she would have turned 60. We talked about a cruise, a party, some sort of gathering…but nothing concrete. I think because she could throw together a knockout bash, it didn’t seem like something that needed a whole lot of planning since I know she was leaning towards the party. Mommy was always down for a big party! Last year we celebrated with cupcakes, I put a cupcake aside for her like she often did for egun, or our ancestors. The girls kept trying to sneak the icing, so I had to move it. This year, my oldest is aware of birthdays and the whole celebration thing so how will this year go. She will ask about visiting Grandma, which she always does when she comes up. I usually just tell her we can’t visit Grandma, but she loves you and protects you. At some point she will probably expect more of an answer, will she want to call her and tell her Happy birthday? Well, we will cross that bridge when we get there. But we will celebrate!

I realize my Mom meant something to a lot of people. She was a friend, sister, second mother, but for everyone, she was an example of courage. She fought hard and was positive the whole time. I remember her stories about her sharing with other women at chemo. She knew all her nurses by name, and was always offering to have them over for a meal.

So to everyone who will be thinking about their dear loved one and friend this October 6th, instead of saying I miss you, which I know I do, say Happy Birthday and set aside a piece of cake or a glass of wine.

Love you Mommy and Happy Birthday!!

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Mute, pause, off – just some quiet please!

I don’t know if its because I’m an Aquarius, INFP (for all you Meyers Briggs folks), or because I’m a mom and wife, but my mind is always going. I mean Always! It doesn’t rest. And I would love to say I am thinking of how I could improve relationships, end world hunger, or something superb. Instead, it’s all these little to do lists. I have tried to organize the chaos. I took a webinar, 2 actually, read up on it, many a thing, but my mind keeps creating tasks. The list is full of big ticket and little ticket items, order new dish washing tabs, get that masticating juicer I’ve decided I need, and get my foundation off the ground. The problem is I’m always putting out fires, working on the little items, and making lists that I don’t get to the big stuff. When I do, my mind is tired, I’m tired, or more lists start floating around.

My mom was big on meditating. She would call some mornings and say, I’m going to be praying and meditating today, so I’m not answering the phone. Just FYI. And that is just what she would do. She often told my husband and I we should be still, even for 10 minutes. Every time I try, my mind starts right back up. But meditation and calming the mind are helpful to the body and spirit.

Breast cancer is still so complicated that we have a lot of pieces of information, but they are more like improving your odds, not actually winning. At least not yet. But you can focus on doing things to improve your odds. I talked about eating, and want to add meditating. Letting your mind rest is also how you let your mind heal. I’m getting my mind around ways to do this. Monday, I will start the 21 Day Meditation Experience with Oprah and Deepak Chopra. I can’t say how it goes yet, but I will keep you posted.



You Can’t Lose Me

I never was big into country music until I met my husband. In fact, country music was the only music I said I didn’t like. I have since changed, though I will say country music has a way of bringing the emotion out of you. There is one particular song, You Can’t Lose Me, by Faith Hill, that made me have somewhat of an epiphany today. It’s part of a playlist that we put together while in India for our oldest. It’s been in rotation lately and I always sing it to them. It was floating through my head tonight after putting them to bed, then it dawned on me- my mom was singing it to me!

It’s surprising how you don’t always make certain connections. The lyrics say “I am here and I will always be, just a wish away. Wherever you go, no matter how far, my love is where you are…” Her presence is why I have kept my mind clear on some of the cloudiest days. The smile I see when I look at my girls, or my youngest who already has the cutest giggle at only 4 months. We are so connected to this plane of existence we don’t realize how truly parallel others are.

As a parent, you say to your child I will always be here for you. I was a bit angry about that not long ago because I felt it was a lie. I say it to my girls and truly mean it, so I don’t know why it bothered me as it relates to me. Well, this hit me like a kick from a sleeping toddler. Completely off guard, but not painful. She is right there. The love a parent has for their child, and a mother has for the children she births into the world, doesn’t end if either leave this earth.

So with a peaceful mind I now know, I can’t lose her. As a mother of my own girls, that is a really good and comforting thing to know.


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Your Temple – Eating

We often make ideas of things to do, but constantly put them off for a later date. We generally know what we need to do to live healthier, but its the getting there part. Healthy eating and exercise are key to a healthy body.

What we eat has become a huge topic and a big business. My mom was eating wheatgrass and juicing before it was popular. She is where I get that “granola” edge from. Shortly before coming to visit us in Mumbai, India my mom had a bout of chemotherapy that was so toxic to her body that she was in the hospital for a month. Her white blood cell count had been so devastated her oncologist told me she would never be able to have chemotherapy again as he didn’t believe her body would recover enough to meet the baseline. See, before receiving chemotherapy, blood work must be performed to make sure white blood counts are high enough for the treatment, which usually depletes WB cells. Well, in India my mom embraced a new way of eating.

A large percent of the Indian population are vegetarian. We had just started eating a vegetarian diet, and with the access to so many fresh produce, it was easy to do. My mom loved to cook, so she enjoyed experimenting with everything she found.

Going vegetarian can be an adjustment, but worth considering. At minimum eating more organic fruits and vegetables. The Environmental Working Group lists The Dirty Dozen, which is a list of the most pesticide contaminated produce. These should be your organic produce if nothing else.

Research continues to establish links between cancer and pesticides, other chemicals found in products we eat, put on our skin (which is our largest organ), and use in our household. Known carcinogens included Toluene, which has regularly been used in nail polish, and only recently has its use been discontinued by some- not all- companies. This is just an example. There are many more linked to cancer such as parabens and Bisphenol A (BPA). Now the last two are not considered cancer causing at this point, but they are linked because of how they present themselves in the body and studies continue to examine these effects in further detail.

You are what your eat. Think about how you are taking care of your temple. Are you helping it or hurting it. What can you do to make changes. Bon Appetit!


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Follow your passion

Following your passion is something Mommy was all about. She believed very strongly that we all were brought here for a reason. By doing something you enjoy and are passionate about, you maintain a peaceful mind. Furthermore, health is very important in the fight in preventing and battling cancer. We should keep our health as our top priority. My first guest post is from Omari Faulkner (yes my wonderful other half). Omari did such a great intro that without further ado, My first guest post!

Friends of Lightings Flower-

Just last year in 2012, my mother-in-law, Mable Rey, and I discussed in detail the importance of diplomacy missions and giving back to youth, both domestically and internationally. She was so excited about my first trip to Montenegro to take part in Georgetown’s 2012 Basketball Diplomacy Program. I love that she always spoke to me about how she saw basketball (and all sports) as a form of art and anyone blessed with her presence understood her love and appreciation for art.
Her connection to the earth was amazing. As we researched Montenegro together, she was amazed at the historical Old Olive Tree at Mirovica, which is claimed to be one of the oldest trees in the world, dating back more than 2000 years. She looked at me, and in her Mable voice says, “Oh my God! You have to bring me back some olives and olive oil!”

Days before the trip, Mama Rey was called home, her passing paused the world around us and I immediately knew, I could not make the trip to Eastern Europe. Then I thought about our conversations, I thought about what she would have wanted, I thought about how excited she was about this program and my love for Sports Diplomacy, and most importantly, I had to get her those olives and olive oil- they rest next to her ashes until this day and always will.

Mama Rey loved international travel, other cultures, and proclaimed they healed her in so many ways; therefore, whenever I travel internationally, I travel with a piece of her with me. Last year’s trip to Montenegro, I wore one of her beaded Asian inspired necklaces and this year, last week, I wore a leather bracelet she bought for me while in Mumbai, India.

Thank you Mama Rey for the inspiration, thank you for your beautiful daughter, and the lovely angels we have created together. You know just how much we miss your presence, but you remain alive in us all. Team Faulkner forever….

Omari Faulkner

Georgetown 2013 Basketball Diplomacy Program

On Friday, August 9, 2013, myself and six other dedicated volunteers returned from Bar, Montenegro for yet another successful Georgetown University Basketball Diplomacy Program. With program support from the United States Embassy in Podgorica, Montenegro, and continued support from Georgetown University and men’s head basketball Coach Thompson, the diplomacy program continues to advance every year.

At this year’s camp, the students from the Balkan region were very impressive; their approach to developing relationships with other campers from neighboring countries and willingness to work hard were noticeable from day one. My former Georgetown teammate Sead Dizdarevic, a native of Montenegro, has led this camp for 6 years and continues to give back to his country’s youth and stress the importance of hard work, dedication, and volunteerism.

There were many highlights to this year’s camp, one being the volunteer project. The camp participants’ energy and enthusiasm was on full display as they cleaned the recreational area and neighboring park to a local handicap day home for small children and adults. The student athletes eagerly filled bags with trash and never once complained. A shining moment came when children playing nearby, joyfully joined in and began to grab rakes and bags, also becoming members of the cleanup crew. After 45 minutes of teamwork, the campers’ work was evident. They set a positive example.

On Wednesday night, all the Georgetown and local camp coaches played a full 40-minute basketball game against the Veteran Bar, Montenegrin basketball team (my first full game in almost 5 years). As the final buzzer sounded, we scored more points in the game, but the real winners were the Montenegro Veteran team; the team consisted of players ranging from ages of 45 up to 70+. They displayed the true essence of teamwork and the importance of physical fitness and maintaining a healthy lifestyle throughout life. Their mental and physical health fully supported U.S. Dr. Wilbert Cusano’s presentation on healthy living, which he presented the first day of camp. I walked away from the game truly inspired to remain healthy and active my whole life.

On the last day of camp, we were honored to have the United States Ambassador to Montenegro Sue Brown to attend the closing ceremony and speak to the importance of cultural diplomacy and building relationships.

I personally would like to thank all the youth camp participants and coaches, the United States Embassy in Montenegro, Georgetown University, and all the financial contributors to this wonderful diplomacy mission. It was a pleasure to spend the week with a great group of devoted volunteers – former Georgetown women’s basketball players-Kenya Kirkland and Monica McNutt, former Georgetown men’s basketball players- Sead Dizdarevic and Amadou Kilkenny-Diaw; current Georgetown University strength and conditioning coach Cameron Williams and health practitioner, Dr. Wilbert Cusano.

God Speed,

“Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. Sport can awaken hope where there was previously only despair. Sport speaks to people in a language they can understand.”- Nelson Mandela.


Random Memories

I had a random memory of a time Mommy and I were up late one night making tape ties. She had a great idea for an event, so up we sat putting rows of neon tape to make these ties. All I remember about them was the strips of tape and us giving my oldest daughter a few pieces to keep her busy.

Random memories are good for the spirit. They are the type of memory that makes you smile when you think of it because it just sits there in your mind, it doesn’t have a real connector to anything other than a happy time. They are special because often times they don’t fall into our routine. Routines are fine, but to be creative we have step out of that routine. It challenges our mind. They can’t really be created, they just kind of happen.

Let your mind be peaceful. Enjoy a random memory or make a new one. They are the things that keep a smile in our heart and keep loved ones alive when they are no longer here to make new ones.




I didn’t know what to expect yesterday to be. I figured I would roll with it and try not to stress. Shortly after publishing my first post, I got an email from my Mom’s friend saying as soon as she went to the site it started thundering and lightning. We both agreed, Mom was excited I had taken this leap. Some might think starting a blog is not really a “leap”, but for me- someone who is not always open with her emotions it actually is. A lesson I learned from my mom, someone who was definitely emotional- but also very guarded. She was eager to share her opinion on cancer being a manifestation of complicated and sometimes hurtful emotions with no place to go. Science has demonstrated this link to stress and cancer does exist , but research continues to look for answers as to how much. So here I am, trying to not “hold things in” as she said. She was proud of my leap.

The rest of the day was pretty normal, though we all went out to eat especially for her. A celebration in typical Mable fashion. Everyone who knew her knew she could enjoy a meal for hours! Well- she sent a special message to my husband while we were there. Her insistence on keeping a discussion going with him would not be missed on this day, so we just laughed together. On our way out of the car when we got home, our youngest sat in my carrier staring at the sky as we walked to the door. This was not the first time she had been out at night, but it was the first time she looked so intently at the sky. Mom used to do that with my oldest two, and even had her oldest Granddaughter, my oldest child, greeting the morning sky and trees and saying goodnight at the end of the day. (My husband and I share that ancestral affinity for the cosmos- so I am sure she had a number of people smiling down on her). To me there was no coincidence that she chose today to look up smiling to say hello.

Life is about symbols. Some symbols we chose. Too often we tend to overlook a lot of symbols as mere coincidence or something our mind is creating. Well- I think our mind is creating it, but it is because our mind is privy to more than our conscious self is aware or understands. Others symbols or signs are being sent to us. Slow down enough to see the symbols being shown to you. It may give you a smile, answer a question, lighten something weighing on your heart, or teach you a lesson.

Enjoy the day and look for your symbols!