Crissy Says

Get Busy Living Or Get Busy Dying

You basically have two choices in life. You can get busy living or you can get busy dying. It’s that simple.

I first found out who Kris Carr was while watching Oprah. It was a show about confronting death, and it also featured Randy Pausch, the author of The Last Lecture. I think the exact date it aired was October 22, 2007. I didn’t watch it that day, though, as I was busy flying home to Michigan from Alaska.  I had my sister DVR it, and we watched it late one night during my trip home.

To say that the show was an “eye opener” would be putting it mildly. Here were people, facing death, and they had amazing attitudes. Most of the healthy people I knew were always whining and complaining about something. This show featured people who really had something to complain about it… and they didn’t. Instead, they did awesome things and were thankful for the opportunity to do them.

Of course, we were moved by Randy Pausch’s story. We found the Last Lecture video online and we watched it. My sister bought his book and we both read it.  And when I had heard he died last year, I felt sadness for his passing.

The story that really stood out to me while watching that show was the story of Kris Carr. In 2003, at the age of 31, she was diagnosed with incurable cancer of her liver and lungs. She has 24 tumors. Instead of giving up hope, she went on a quest for remission. She made a documentary of her journey, Crazy Sexy Cancer, wrote several books, and has a great blog about healthy living.

When I watched that show, something inside of me said “remember this… it will be important.” I thought about it for a while… but I had other things on my mind. I had recently launched this website and was busy trying to get it up and off the ground. I was going through a lot emotionally… I was contemplating leaving my husband and staying in Michigan during that trip. (and yeah, we all know I ended up doing that very thing about six months later…).

Between October 2007 and July 2009, I visited Kris’ blog every so often. I thought about that show once in a while. I wondered if she was still doing well…. I wondered what I would do if I found myself in that situation.

And then, on July 16, 2009, I got a phone call from an unknown number that changed my whole life. I let the call go to voice mail. I knew when it rang that it was not going to be good. I nervously called my voice mail and listened to a message from my doctor that said to to call her as soon as I got that message. I called her and she instructed me to go to  the hospital immediately and get a blood transfusion. My hemoglobin was dangerously low and I was in danger of passing out at any moment, and if that happened, I may not have been able to be revived.

My first thought was cancer. I didn’t have enough blood. My blood had to be going somewhere. I immediately assumed it was feeding a tumor. I asked “do you think I have cancer?” She said “we’ll be testing you for that.” I reminded her my grandfather died from leukemia, which is cancer of the blood. She told me my white blood cells weren’t the problem, that it was my red blood cells she was worried about.

I  was scared but also very calm and focused. It was almost surreal feeling. There was a man in the waiting room, complaining to security guards about not being able to smoke. I was watching him make an ass out of himself… and here I was, sitting there calmly, thinking “I am really sick. Something is really wrong with me.”

This was not the time to panic. This was the time to find out what was happening and to find out how to make it better. I spent the next 9 days in the hospital. I received blood transfusions. I had my blood plasma sucked out into a machine, spun clean and pumped back into me. I had shots, IVs, blood draws, x-rays, a main line put into my artery, answered questions from multiple doctors, and had days of disappointment as my blood counts continued to drop.

I did not cry. I did not give up. I closed my eyes and I pictured my body making good blood. I thought about Kris Carr and how she was 31 when she found out she had cancer. I was 31. And I was now dealing with a scary medical drama of my own. She didn’t let it stop her. I wasn’t going to let it stop me, either.

I asked for a piece of paper and a red marker. I wrote “Make Good Blood” in big letters and hung it up on the wall, so I could stare at it from my bed in the ICU. I asked the hospital dietitian to give me as much raw food as possible – raw spinach, carrots, and grapes with every meal. I drank green tea and had my sister bring me green superfood smoothies and wheat grass powder so I could make my own wheat grass drinks in my hospital room.

I asked the doctors lots of questions. I took notes and I had people Google the various things the doctors told me might be wrong with me. My sister brought me in pages and pages of info, printed out and stapled together. I circled things, crossed things out, and asked the doctors more questions.

Eventually, they figured it out. It was Pernicious Anemia. B12 shots were going to make me feel better… but I will never be ‘cured.’ I don’t feel it happening, but my body is creating antibodies that are attacking my stomach. I don’t look sick. I don’t act sick. And I don’t feel the war going on inside my body. But it’s there.

Biopsies show that my stomach cells have metaplasia. That means my cells are changing. If they keep changing, they may turn into cancer. But they may stay right where they are. Most likely, I will not develop cancer. I just have to keep getting biopsies to keep an eye on it.

I know that I am very, very lucky. I know that there are millions of people with cancer and other diseases that wish all they had to do was take a B12 shot in order to feel better. I will never take that for granted.

During my stay in the hospital, I wasn’t allowed to have my computer. That meant I was forced to take a vacation.  The night I got out of the hospital, I posted about what happened and why I hadn’t been working. I received a great amount of comments on my post, emails, @ replies via Twitter and messages on Facebook.

Many people told me how strong and brave I was and how surprised they were that I was working again. I didn’t know how I could  possibly do anything else.  What was I supposed to be doing?  Taking it easy? Was I supposed to sit around and cry? Hell, no! I had been sick for a while before I went into the hospital. I was really sick of being sick! Now that I was out of the hospital and feeling better, I was ready to enjoy what “feeling good” felt like!

We all face some kind of adversity in life. Chances are, your problem seems very small when compared to the incurable cancer that Kris Carr faced, and continues to face each day. But she’s living. She’s probably living a fuller, happier life than many of the people who will be reading this.

On the website for her documentary, Kris asks “Why, when we are challenged to survive, do we give ourselves permission to truly live?”

Don’t wait for a life threatening illness to show you how awesome you actually have it right now! As I said in the beginning of this post… You can get busy living or you can get busy dying. What choice are you going to make?

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Crissy Says

Oprah’s Helping You Figure Out Who You Are!

I don’t think it’s a secret that I think Oprah rocks. I have mentioned her and Rachael Ray in numerous posts. They both have such an awesome work ethic! And that is something I greatly admire.

Another thing that I have talked about in numerous posts, on calls, via podcast, and so forth is that your business depends on you to know who your target market is. Your target market consists of the people who are your “ideal customers.” Your whole marketing strategy will vary based on who these people are.

One thing that may be holding you back from making this decision is the fact that you may not know exactly who you are yet… I must say that has never been a problem for me. I have always wanted to be a teacher, work in marketing, become an editor of a magazine, and have my own talk show.  I didn’t know how I was going to do all of those things… but, look, I found a way!

If you are struggling with figuring out who you are who you are meant to be, check out the quiz found in the November issue of O Magazine. You don’t even have to buy the magazine… You can take it for free online!

I scored the highest (16 points)  in “Striving To Be Creative.” It says that I should “create an innovative blog.” Hmmm… I did create one! And you are reading it right now! It also says I’d do well in advertising and public relations. I think it kinda’ nailed me with that one, don’t you?

My second highest was a 15 in “Striving To Be In Control.”  It says I should look for leadership positions in education, and  I do try to teach all of you a thing or two with this site…  I must say, this quiz hit the nail on the head again!

My third highest score was a 14 in “Striving To Be Recognized.” It says I’d be a good entrepreneur….

This test was so accurate it is kind of creepy!

Click here to take the quiz! And don’t forget to come back and post a comment. I’d love to hear if it was as accurate for you!

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Crissy Says

Sydney Gavan Needs You To Write Oprah. Wanna Help?


Sydney Gavan is a cute and happy five year old little girl, who happens to be suffering from Biphenotypic Leukemia (both AML & ALL types) which accounts for only 5% of all Leukemia cases.

Sydney has undergone chemo but her blast percentage has gone up to 10% so she is no longer in remission. Sydney needs to have a transplant and as of April 27th out of all 6 million registered donors not one is a match for her.

Sydney’s parents (Scott and Casey Gavan) and I graduated from the same high school. I’m proud to say that we come from a close-knit community and a lot of people are really stepping up to help Sydney. There have been many fundraisers to help her parents pay for medical expenses, as well as events to help spread the word about the National Bone Marrow Registry.

This is where you and Oprah come into play. The latest community effort is an email campaign in hopes of getting Oprah to do a show about Leukemia. Let’s face it – if Oprah talks about this, people will pay attention. If she encourages people to put themselves on the National Bone Marrow Registry, many people will go get listed. The process of joining the registry is simple; a quick health questionnaire and a cheek swab is all it takes.

Leukemia, a cancer of the bone marrow and blood, can affect anyone, as the cause of the disease is unknown. About 231,000 people have it in the United States with 44,000 new cases being diagnosed each year. Around half of these people will die of the disease, many because they won’t find a match for bone marrow transplant.  Of course, if more people get listed, the chances for Leukemia patients to find a match will go up.

Please take a few moments and click here to fill out a show request form on

And if you have a website or blog (I know you do!), please help us by letting your readers know about this campaign and linking to this  post. You can also help us spread the word by sharing this link on your Facebook or Twitter.

If you post this on Twitter, please add #sydneygavan to your post, which will help Sydney’s parents search and see how much support is coming in. For example, your tweet (Twitter post) could look like this: @oprah, Please help Sydney Gavan by featuring a show on Leukemia #sydneygavan

Here are a few articles about Sydney that have been written in the local press:

Thanks in advance for all of your help!! A few moments of your time can really help this little girl!

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Crissy Says

What would your teenage self think of you today?

I was recently asked a very interesting question during an interview… I was asked, as a little girl, what did I want to be when I grew up? (by the way, it was the Podcast “Cereals,” and you can listen by clicking here).

It just so happens that I had been thinking about that in the days before the interview. I had just completed my site redesign. For inspiration, I had been watching old episodes of  My So-Called Life. Whenever I need a creativity boost, or  if I have a problem that I’m trying to figure out, I always go back to that show.

I was a senior in high school when that show originally aired, and when I watch that show I am immediately transported back to the early to mid-ninties. There’s something special about those years – back when I thought I knew everything, when I was so sure of the world and my place in it.

Watching that show helps me remember who I really am at my core. And of course, who I wanted to grow up to be.

Let me tell you – if you ever have a doubt about anything in your life, think about yourself as a fifteen year old and what they would have thought of your choices today. Would your younger self be pleased with you? Or would they roll their eyes in disgust and think you grew up to be totally out of it?

So I guess that brings us back to the question of what I wanted to be when I grew up…

Well, I remember watching reruns of Bewitched back before I was in school, and thinking that Darren had a really cool gig. I mean, he just thought up advertising and commercials. I could do that! And then when I got to school, I thought it would be really neat to be a teacher. I loved reading. I loved learning. If I were a teacher, I could be in school forever!

But then, when I was 8 something else happened… Oprah went national, and I thought “WOW!”  She got paid to talk to people! How cool was that?

And then, when I was a teenager, I came up with my idea for a television network. Yep, that’s right. My own television network. I dreamed big. And why not? You should be dreaming big when you are sixteen years old!

So flash forward to the present. I don’t have a tv network, but my website is pretty similar. And the internet has pretty much taken over what tv used to be, so I’m right on track with that. I may not be employed by an ad firm like Darren was, but I’m still all about the marketing and advertising. And I’m definitely a teacher of sorts. Don’t forget that I made my talk show dreams come true in the form of my podcast…

When I look back, I think it’s pretty crazy that I have managed to take all the things I wanted to do and melt them into one career….

If my 15 year old self saw what my life would look like as a 31 year old, I think she would think I was pretty freakin’ cool. And that makes me feel like I’m doing something right!

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Crissy Says

I Love The New Media

Have you ever heard the term “new media?” It refers to things such as blogs, websites, podcasts, internet radio shows, web shows, webisodes, etc, etc. More and more people are turning to these new forms of news and entertainment each day. It’s no secret that many once-popular newspapers, magazines, television networks,  etc, are losing readers, viewers, ratings, and money!

I love the new media… It opens everything up. Growing up in the Midwest, I thought that if I ever wanted to be a writer or host my own show I would have to live in New York City or Hollywood.  (yes – even as an 8 year old, I  wanted to be a writer or the next Oprah or something like that)

Well, thanks to technology, I can do those things from anywhere in the world…

And I can do it myself. I don’t have to wait for some contract to fall in my lap…

What’s your favorite form of “new media?” Do you have a podcast or a web show that you can’t live without? Is there a blog out there that you have to read every day?

And most importantly – do you have any dreams of starting your own “new media?” I want to hear about it!

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Managing Your Biz

Insights & Oprah, Part II

So what else can we learn about marketing from Oprah? Lots! Here are a few more tips:

  • Good Deeds Attract Attention – Yes, I’m sure Oprah does a lot of the things she does just out of the kindness of her heart, but by publicizing those good deeds, she gets attention for it. While you may not be able to promote your good work on a national television show, you can still blog about, send in a press release, etc
  •  Team Up With Others – Oprah knows a good thing when she sees it, and so she signed on to produce Dr. Phil & The Rachael Ray Show. If you see something that looks like a good idea, but are unable to do that thing yourself, team up with someone who can and split the profits
  • Lean On Others – You can’t be a huge success and handle all your day-to-day tasks. Some stuff is going to need to be outsourced. I can tell you that Oprah does not handle the ticket requests for her show or even scout all her guests. She’s got people for that. She hired her best friend to be the Editor of one of her magazines and she found talented, qualified people to run her radio network and I’m sure she’s doing the same thing right now for the television network that is in the works.  If your business is going to grow larger than what it is now, you’re going to have to find help in completing all the new work.
  • Keep A Positive Attitude – Most people know that Oprah life was far from charmed. She has faced a lot of adversity and could easily have given up. Once she achieved success, she started getting criticized for being overweight and every other little thing the press could find to talk about. Did she give up? No! She kept fighting! So go out there, and grow your business, no matter what anyone says!!
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