“Happier Families”, 2 hour workshop, June 5th, 7pm Stanford University


I’ve previously blogged about Dr Laura Delizonna and her 3 part positive psychology classes through Stanford Adult Continuing Education.  During this special 2 hour workshop on June 5th,  Dr Delizonna will be taking her research in positive psychology and applying it to the family system during a special 2 hour workshop titled “Happy Families: Applying the Science of Positive Psychology to Help Families Thrive”.

Full disclosure, Dr Laura and I are long time good friends, but as someone who knows her well, I can assure you this amazing woman is the real deal.  This workshop is targeted to families and individuals interested in taking their relationships and  familial dynamics to the next level.

Laura is an internationally recognized speaker and expert on positive psychology and happiness,  teaching individuals, as well as at universities and companies around the globe, the skills necessary to obtain higher levels of happiness and satisfaction they experience in their daily lives and personal relationships.    As an engaging speaker and teacher, Laura never fails to entertain, provide  laughter, and create an enjoyable learning environment.  She  not only speaks from the heart , she truly does “walk her talk” in how she lives her own personal and professional life, utilizing the  skills  and zest for life she teaches.

Laura’s next upcoming 2 hour workshop, is this Tuesday evening, June 5th  from 7pm to 9pm at the Stanford Recreational Activities Center (SCRA).  During the two hour workshop, Dr Laura will explore and discuss the skills “Happy Families” need to navigate through life and flourish, utilizing the new science of evidence based positive psychology. Each family team member will begin to learn how to “self-coach” as well as become a supportive member of the family team.  A happiness handbook developed exclusively for the workshop and worksheets for self coaching between workshops guide participants through actual behavior.

  • Building your family’s strengths
  • Increased positivity
  • Coping skills to deal with stress
  • Improving overall family relationships

The 3  topics covered are:

  1. The STRENGTH zone: Building on your best
  2. The POSITIVE shift: Enhancing  joy, gratitude, and zest
  3. The FAMILY bond: Creating flourishing relationships


Cost is $20 for non members, and $10 for members.  You can register prior to the event at the bottom of page here.  For more informational about Laura you can read my previous blog post from this past August 2011, or visit her website at www.choosinghappiness.com .  For more info through Stanford University you may contact steve.robe@stanford.edu 650-736-7272 option #3

                                                                                        Dr  Laura Delizonna Phd









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Herniated Discs Suck! An Honest Reflection, Part 1: Pain and Pills

Herniated discs SUCK! I know that is pretty much a “victim”  sounding,  “whiny”  type comment I profess to hate, but its the truth.  Herniated discs do suck! I was diagnosed with a herniated disc at L4/L5 and S1 last May 2011.  Initially I thought this would be only be a temporary problem, lasting 2 or 3 weeks at best.  I heard my doctor when he told me I was looking at 3 months minimum of not working out and having a “back issue”, but I didn’t take him seriously.  Being a sometimes overly self confident patient  for many years (an overconfidence not always in complete touch with reality), I  chose not to believe  my doctor and his  predictions. Even though I had to be driven to this doctors appointment by my boyfriend, due to my pain being so bad, with such major spasms, I could barely manage a hobble… I was still in denial. Further more, I convinced myself I would be back to working out in the gym in no less than 3 weeks. Boy was I wrong.

4 months later…. September 2011:

Having been on pain pills for the past 4 month I have been beginning to feel like  my brain had been temporarily hijacked. These pain pills are yucky   Since my 2nd round of cortisone injections 2 weeks ago, I was fine for about 10 days and then suddenly, I was once again in tremendous pain.  Pain so bad, that it was still there even with the pain pills.  I hate to sound flippant, but I was starting to feel like I  was having to pop pain pills like one would pop “Tick Tacs”, which is never a good thing. The pills were making me nauseated, vomiting, constipated, tired , and spaced out.  I couldn’t drive, and have  felt like I was in a trance.  I have NO idea how anyone develops an addiction to these pills which in my case every time I take them,  I feel  like I have dropped  40 IQ points and have turned into a vomiting  little zombie .  But I’ve seen Dr Drew’s “Celebrity Rehab” … and apparently this addiction is not uncommon.

My doctor had prescribed for me codeine and a nerve pain called Gabapentin  which I believe was a correct decision.  I was in tremendous pain presenting day 1 in May 2011.   The codeine and the Gabapentin have really helped pacify all the  horrendous nerve and back pan I was having through out this experience.  I had been on both of these pain pills during and following my whole cancer and subsequent stem cell transplant incident without any problems.  Now,  here in September 2011, 4 months later following my 2nd round of of spinal injections, my pain was back with a vengeance, and my emotions are wearing thin.  I do/did not want to be on pain medications any longer but I have in pain and becoming really depressed about feeling dependent on pills for relief.   Additionally my doctor had prescribed physical therapy twice a week, but due to my denial, I only just started that last week.

Yesterday I was so bummed.   I was at my favorite breakfast spot, eating my  “Super Veggie Egg White Scramble”, while looking over my “to do”  list.  There I had  20 backed up recipes with photos, ready to be uploaded.  All I had to do was  a little bit of writing  with each one of them,.  Yet I felt at a complete loss for words.  Sadly these pain pills rob you of your creativity, rendering you into a pretty sad state of having a totally boring “flat affect” with little to no creative writing  skills or personality whatsoever.  As I sat there, blankly staring at my lap top, wondering when my writing skills were ever going to come back,  I thought of my of  my nurse friend Jody who developed  a double level herniated disc at the same time as me.  She never sounded spaced out on the phone.  At least not “spaced out” on pain pills like I felt I had been sounding lately.   Jody told me she had only using only a little bit of pain medicine and lots of “ice”.

Initially when Jody told me about using ice for the pain, a couple months ago,  I thought  to myself ( sorry Jody) “Sure, right, that won’t do jack shit for me”.  My pain was major, deep down inside, and I thought no “ice” was ever going touch it.  But now here I was thinking about her advice and willing to try anything other than what I had been doing.  I called Jody for some advice, and she suggested I cut my pain pills in half and to try putting some really cold ice packs directly on the herniated disc area  for 15 minutes or more.  I went to the pharmacy and picked up a specialized ice pack for backs (see photo) and some bags of frozen peas.

I came home last night, popped my ice pack “belt” into the freezer, turned on the TV, laid down and placed the bag of frozen peas directly on my back.  It was about time for me to take another pain pill but I thought I would put it off a little bit so I  could check out how the ice was working.  About 10 minutes into the iced bag peas on my back,  I thought “Hey this ice thing works pretty good”.  Jody had told me I only needed to leave it on 15 minutes or so, but I left it on more like 25 minutes it was working so well.  I cut my pain pills dosage in half and was feeling GREAT.  An hour later I put another bag of frozen peas directly to my back for another 20 minutes,  then again 30 minutes later and then again one hour later.  I was humbled.  This ice thing was working really well.   I realized I should have tried using ice for my disc pain months ago when it was suggested.

I woke up this morning, 24 hours after halving my pain pill dosage, feeling GREAT.  My pain was “there” but manageable.  But even better, my brain felt clear.  I felt like someone had lifted the fog and I could see more clearly than I had in quite some time.  Finally I could put together words and thoughts!  I felt so happy I came to my computer and decided I would journal this to my blog while I knew my brain was clear.  Finally some hope.  I’ve been reading, surfing the net and writing, sitting at my desk  for the past 8 straight hours,  wearing my new “Cryo Max Cold Pack” (see photo above) with only 1 codeine and 2 Advil in my system.   I feel pain free right now.   It was not possible before for me to sit even a couple of straight hours comfortably with just the pain pills.

I go to my 2nd physical therapy appointment this afternoon for therapy and treatment.   I will ask my therapist for more information about what is a good “icing schedule” for my particular situation.  I’ll continue to write more about my herniated disc problem as that I know now its quite common.

Fingers crossed for my physical therapy session.  Fingers crossed I can keep this pain pill need down to a minimum so my brain feels clear.  We shall see, but I am finally hopeful.



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Dr Laura Delizonna: Stanford University “Happiness” Instructor

June 2012 Update: Laura has a 2 hour workshop at Stanford, this upcoming Tuesday June 5th at 7pm  For more details and registration info click here

I’ve known Dr. Laura Delizonna  since high school, through my younger sister.  I hadn’t seen or heard of what Laura had been up to in years until I signed up for her “Choosing Happiness” class through Stanford University’s Adult Continuing Education class  6 years ago.  I was right out of treatment from my stem cell transplant nightmare and had what seemed to me like the world’s worst case of “chemo brain” ever.  In my efforts to counteract all my “chemo brain” issues, I began taking a lot of classes, trying to re engage my brain at the different university’s around here.  I didn’t even realize I “knew” the teacher when I signed up for the 6 week class, so imagine my surprise when I walked in day 1 and recognized her from high school.  I am so glad I enrolled, her classes and seminars are  awesome, and you learn a lot of applicable tools to use in your everyday life.

Dr Delizonna is a really inspirational teacher with a lot of enthusiasm for the subject matter she teaches and it shows.  She has quite the following now, with her classes through Stanford University’s Continuing Education program, being some of the most popular,  quickly filling  to capacity, having  wait lists.  The last class I attended had grown to the size of a small auditorium.

Laura Delizonna’s  Stanford program has now expanded to a  3 part quarterly series in “applied positive psychology”, covering “Emotional Intelligence”, “Social Intelligence” and “Happiness”.   In addition to her teaching and  busy clinical psychology practice, Laura travels the lecture circuit nationally and internationally,  speaking on a number of “Positive Psychology” subject matters.  In the San Francisco Bay area she has recently held seminars and programs at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco as well as the Stillheart Institute and Retreat Center in Woodside, California.

In the next upcoming months I would recommend you check out “Choosing Happiness”, Dr Delizonna’s class at Stanford University this Fall 2011.    Each week the students are given practical assignments, applying principles learned in class, to their personal and professional lives.  Many students, including me, have taken this class more than once, getting more out of each time. The new added bonus to this quarter’s class,  is that Dr Delizonna is co teaching  with Ted Anstedt , whom I have met.   Ted is just an amazing teacher with an incredible wealth of information and life experience to share.  Ted has spent the past twenty years creating and delivering workshops for major companies across the US, Canada and Europe related to positive psychology and emotional intelligence.  Laura’s background is equally impressive, having received her Ph’d from Boston University, and having been a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University’s School of Medicine.

To learn more about the Fall 2011 quarter class,  course text and what you can expect to get out of the class, check out the link here.

For more information about Dr Laura Delizonna, you can also check out her website at www.choosinghappiness.org or read a recent online interview with her here at Sevenpods blog.




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Learning to not to blame myself. aka: Not all disease is “lifestyle created”

True, a lot are. I learned this first hand working as a phlebotomist and then in registered nursing school. Lots of times, it was pretty easy to see the correlation between eating habits, vices in one’s life, or lack of exercise being a key contributor to the diseased body I was helping care for. A few years after my college graduation, I went to work for a plastic surgeon and most of the time, the complaints by patients about things in their physical appearance they wanted to change, could easily be minimized by lifestyle change. I could spot a smoker, drinker or poor eating habits a mile away. As a trained professional, I could see the years of poor self care in your physical appearance, mainly skin and athletic health. So imagine my surprise when after decades of daily exercising, eating almost obsessively healthy, routine check ups, and the illusion of “being in control of my physical and health destiny” I discovered a cancerous tumor the size of two tennis balls in my chest by accident.  This tumor was found during an xray for broken ribs, following a high speed ski accident.

Initially this advanced cancer diagnosis seemed impossible, I had a thorough check up only 6 months before and everything came back fine. I guessed they missed something, because I was told by my new oncologist that I had probably had this cancer for at least 2 to 3 years by the time we found it.

Initially I blamed myself for getting cancer… “I must have done something wrong”. Then came the worst… Friends and family asking me “do they know how you got it?”, ” What did you do around the time you got sick?”, “Do you think it stress?”, “Did you live by power lines growing up?”,  “Cancer must run in your family, right?”.  Newly starting treatment, I was  meeting lots of “new” health care providers like phelebotomy, infusion, xray, scan techs, ect, who would meet me initially, eye my still athletic body,  and say “You smoke, right?”

It seemed like everyone around me, needed for their own mental health, some evidence, that I had somehow caused my illness.  I suspect this was simply a normal reaction because no one wants to believe a  healthy 34 yr young nurse could have just randomly gotten some advanced cancer that was immediately life threatening. If it could happen to me, it could happen to them. In one particularly foolish instance, I was actually accused by a close friend’s sister of making “up my cancer story”, for whatever reason, I’ll never know.  I didn’t look sick enough?  I’ve detailed more of my illness and recovery with photos on my “About Peggy” page.

Here I am now, over 5 years out from being cancer free, still battling with immune system issues despite my best efforts.  Weekend seminars on advanced integrative medical nutrition, day classes on holistic culinary pharmacology, classes on  integrative medicine and university classes on immunology.  For exercise doing  yoga classes, boot camp workouts,  hiking , swimming and weight training. For nutrition, being very mindful and cooking healthy organic food, juicing, and  taking numerous healthy cooking classes.  For mind and spirit,  seeing a well known energy healer in the Stanford area, spirituality classes, meditation, ect.    Basically treating my body better than the majority of the population.  Yet I still have these unexplained, unusual problems with my immune system rather frequently, where I get quite ill.  To me, its seems like some days my immune system is working like a new sports car, and then without warning, it just starts acting like a beat up old Pinto.

This past Monday my blood pressure dropped extremly low, which  I realized when I was too dizzy to get up for boot camp.  I wound up in the urgent care with some IV fluids, only to additionally find out  my white blood cells and red blood cells were very abnormally low for the 3rd time this year.  No warning at all.   No explanation. It just is what it is. If my bloods don’t improve  in the next few weeks I am looking at another potential barbaric bone marrow biopsy to find out what the heck is going on, and having to suddenly once again, question my immediate future health.  Its really scary.  I feel very alone.

Again I am asking myself “What did I do?”,  “Did I do something wrong?”. “What should I have done”, “Am I not doing something right?”  I am once again blaming myself, which is common I’ve heard.  But is this right?

The answer to all my self doubting questions is likely “no”. The only different thing I’ve done in the past few months was I got out the old juicer and began making my own vegetable juices.  I’ve been weight training just a little bit more than usual.  I’ve been going to the gym  more frequently than usual.  I’ve been  doing more gym classes and had started going to boot camps a few times a week  to increase my cardiovascular endurance (I only have one fully working lung).  I had knocked my body fat down 3 pts  and had put on 3.5 lbs of muscle.    At home I was doing isometric exercises, up to several hundred crunches a day and doubled the number of “boy” push ups I could complete.   I did a fit test at my gym, and was rated as being in “outstanding” to “excellent” shape in almost all classifications for someone 10 to 15 years younger than myself.  My stress over the past few months had actually decreased exponentially, and the unexpected stresses I did encounter, I was able to deal with quickly and with a much greater resilience and recovery. So “no”, I don’t rationally think any of this weirdness going on in my blood and with immune system right now is my fault. I’ve had to conclude I just was born with a challenge, which I have proven time and time again, I am capable of taking on. But even if this is the start of some new problem I can’t ultimately win, I don’t think I caused it, rather I think I postponed it through my healthy behaviors.

As much as we would love to think we can control our health destiny, or   as I’ve witnessed, many individuals developing an “invincibility complex” in regards to their health.  This invincibility based on the false belief  that our own actions are  somehow absolute predictors of our future  health.   That our health can be controlled entirely by if we eat perfectly, avoid all “bad” foods, take all our supplements and vitamins, “manifest good energy or happiness “, meditate, exercise daily, and avoid vices.   That somehow we can completely control the environment around us, and in the process we can completely control our health or our bodies.  While we can do quite a bit to keep ourselves healthy, we are not as  complete control as we would like to think we are.  Some illness or challenges that occur with our bodies and our health can ultimately be chance, not within our control, and happen without explanation.

In my case if  being young, athletic and healthy, with a clean bill of health during my physicals, and promised me a future healthy life, that’s exactly what I would be living right now.  Certainly I would devoid of a story, platform or motivation to have ever started “The Truffled Pig”  in the first place.

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