Luna Peak Company

I was introduced to Melody Lomboy and Gracelyn Bateman of Luna Peak Company in early 2018 when I had the pleasure of being a part of their Project Inspire Hope. Here is their story.

Tell us your story. What is your program all about and how did you find yourself involved?

Luna Peak Company was created by my niece, Gracelyn and I. Because of my experience with triumphing over childhood leukemia at age 6, we wanted to learn from my family’s experiences and help others when facing difficult times. We decided to create inspiring books and media content. We photograph cancer and grief survivors and our mission is to celebrate life. Our cancer survivor project is called “Project Inspire Hope” and our grief survivor project is called “Snapshots of Life After Loss.” We are known for elevating survivor stories to give hope to those faced with extreme adversity. We know that sometimes you need to “see it to believe it” so we have photographed survivors and crowdsourced stories from those who have been through the experience and are now thriving. Seeing the eyes and faces of those who have walked a similar path can be a powerful reminder that we are not alone. Our photography humanizes the taboo subjects of cancer and grief that people are oftentimes too afraid to talk about. We open up a platform for people to share about their experiences and help others in the process and hope that it also sheds light on how to better support individuals through these tough times. We have created a platform where survivors and fighters feel safe sharing their very personal stories. We are proud that our participants have also found a sense of healing from sharing their stories with us as well.

What populations and areas do you serve?

So far we are working with cancer survivors of all types of cancers to serve newly diagnosed patients looking for inspiration. We also work with grief survivors to help those newly dealing with grief. We have other populations to serve as well and are working on more ideas. We basically want to work with those in need of seeing through challenging times.

What are the main obstacles that stand between you and your mission and what ways do you find to overcome them?

Our mission is to provide products to help others through the universal ups and downs of life. We are passionate about elevating the stories of survivors and strive to inspire others to embrace life with the same vigor. One obstacle we have faced is getting to all of the survivors that want to participate. We have survivors all over the world reaching out to be a part of “Project Inspire Hope” and it is hard for us to travel all over to get to them. Another obstacle was getting our work published to be available to those that need it. We implement instagram, twitter and facebook but would like to have a tangible book available to patients in the hospitals as well as waiting rooms across the country. We are currently working with a wonderful literary agent to make this possible.

Luna Peak Company aside for a moment, tell us about yourself. What makes you, YOU!

I battled acute lymphoblastic leukemia from ages 6-9. Surviving when many did not, I quickly found out just how strong and resilient a person can be. Throughout treatment, I swam competitively to keep my mind clear and body strong. This passion for the water led to a swimming scholarship at UC Irvine. I married my high school sweetheart, Tom Lowe, who was inspired by my oncologist at City of Hope. Tom is now an oncologist at Cancer Care Associates in Torrance. When I was undergoing treatment, I was told that I may not be able to have children, I now have 3 miracle babies- Daniel , Koa and Aiden. Family is everything to me and working with my niece makes Luna Peak Company even more special.

How has C directly impacted your own life? 

My cancer experience has shaped my entire life perspective from such a young age; when other kids were worrying about their homework- I was getting chemotherapy and fighting for my life. I feel the need to give back to the cancer community. I do this through volunteering, fundraising, and sharing my story of beating the odds to give hope to others who are newly diagnosed. My life motto is to CELEBRATE LIFE.

What are your go-to acts of self care?

I love to live life to the fullest by challenging myself with new adventures. I own a talent agency, practice yoga, swim in open water swims, play tennis and compete in mud runs. Besides my family, I am most proud of creating Luna Peak Company with the help of my niece. Without her I would not be able to juggle my mom life and this business. She is the driving force that has made this all possible. Daily check ins with Gracelyn keep me on track and sane.

What have you learned about yourself and the C community since starting with your program?

I have learned that there is is a special bond when you meet another person that has battled and overcome cancer. I am not sure if cancer chooses the strongest people to challenge, or if fighting cancer makes you a super person. But either way, survivors really are resilient, strong and amazing people.

What are some of your happiest and most joyful moments in this field?

When we have survivors come into the studio to have their photos taken. First off, I love to see them getting pampered by our amazing volunteers. They have their make up and hair done and get to feel great about themselves. It’s nice to see that cancer cannot take away all joy. When they come in to get photographed, they feel a bit nervous. So my favorite moment is telling them that I am a survivor as well. The minute I tell them, I am greeted with a huge smile and a big hug. The survivor connection is made and they relax and take the most beautiful photos. I love seeing their joy and strength.

Would you like to share one of your shittiest moments or memories of working in this field?

The hardest part of working with survivors and fighters is learning that someone passed away. When you have a large community of cancer survivors and fighters, this comes with the territory. It’s hard to deal with. Another very difficult and scary thing is finding out that a survivor that we worked with gets diagnosed with a secondary cancer. It challenges all survivors mentally, as we all fear a reoccurrence. We continue our work in memory of those that we have lost.

What are the latest happenings with your program right now?

We are finished with our photo shoots for cancer survivors and are almost finished filming grief survivors. Gracelyn and I are brainstorming new ideas to inspire others.

If you could share any piece of advice for someone who has been diagnosed, what would it be?

The diagnosis of cancer does not completely define you. But use it to mold a new you. Learn from this experience and take what you learn with you throughout your life. All of those challenges will help you in every facet of your life. And never ever forget to CELEBRATE LIFE.

How can we help Luna Peak Company?

We would love to have our social media sites grow. Please follow and share!

How can we contact you?

www.lunapeakcompany.com
@lunapeakcompany (twitter and instagram)
@snapshotsoflifeafterloss (twitter)
@melodythrives (twitter)
Luna Peak Company (facebook)
gracelyn@lunapeakcompany.com
melody@lunapeakcompany.com

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A New Project

My work space… if I had a clean table, fingerprint-less laptop, and some fancy filter on my phone. AKA- it’s a stock photo.

Happy Wed-Nes-Day! (Any other adults out there who still have to sound this word out before typing besides me?) 😬

I hope that everyone has been mindful about practicing acts of self care since my last post. Or have at least put it on your radar, now that we’re aware of how important self care really is. Remember, we are all worth it!

So, I recently got a wild hair up my ass and decided that I wanted to start my “October Project” early. Like last year, I was planning to interview people in the C community. But this time around, I wanted to interview the peeps who help to support the C community via programs, organizations, etc. and not necessarily just those diagnosed- though I’ve found that these two things often intersect. I had planned to post one interview per day like last year. But as I thought about it more, I realized that I didn’t want to wait until October. Instead, I will be posting interviews from different foundations, programs, non-profits, businesses, organizations, etc. over the next several months. Hell, if I get enough interest, this could become an on-going deal.

Throughout the interviews, you’ll have a chance to meet the people behind the scenes and see just how dedicated and whole hearted they and the programs they represent sincerely are. My hope is that by showcasing each organization, more people will be able to personally find support or will have the information and can help to spread the word of these amazing people and programs.

The individuals I have been working with and gathering information from are truly special. If you find that you feel the same way and want more information or want to see how you can help, contact information will be provided. And if you know of any person or group that you would like to see included in this project and have a contact for me, let me know! I would love to be able to highlight them! Keep an eye out, I plan to post the first interview next week.

And a little note: You may have noticed that the domain name for this blog has changed from jessicafilloon.com to mamasgotthis.blog … This is in anticipation of another project I’ve been hard at work on. Stay tuned!

Self Care

How do you practice acts of self care?

You hear the term often, I’m sure. In Insta-Land alone there are over 16 million posts hash-tagged #selfcare. So it seems like we are aware of the idea but do we really know what it means to practice self care? And more importantly, are we taking the time to practice?

If you aren’t familiar with the idea, self care is the practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness. Or as psychologist Agnes Wainman explained, self-care is “something that refuels us, rather than takes from us.” And the practice can vary drastically from person to person. With our crazy busy lives, overly packed schedules, and nearly constant comparisons to strangers on the internet (if you don’t participate in the last one, damn you’re good because that shit can be hard) self care often gets over looked.

While writing this, I was inspired to revisit my Simplify post of things that make me happy and ways to practice acts of self care. You can check it out here.

But before getting too far ahead, I think it’s also important to know what self care is not. First off- it is not selfish. Remember how when you get on a plane and the flight attendant reminds you to put your oxygen mask on first before helping others? They get it… because, really, what good are you going to be if you’re passed out and slumped under the tray table in front of you with your face smashed into your carry on backpack? You’re not. No good. Not unless you take care of your self first.

Self care also isn’t something you force upon yourself- but instead, is a compilation of things that naturally bring a smile to your face, things that make you feel full of goodness. And once you are ‘good’, you can then let your cup of goodness overflow to others… because you can’t pour from an empty cup. You feel me? I should also note, to be super clear- It is not something that we force ourselves to do just because it seems right. If you hate bubble baths- don’t take a bubble bath! Your self care, your decision. It is not necessarily what others have defined as self care.

This practice can be woven into your daily life. For example- giving yourself permission to let go of those persistent energy vampires in your life can be incredibly empowering and healthy. If you walk away from someone feeling completely drained each and every time, it might be a sign to let go, simply because that energy suck can lead you to being incapable of caring for yourself.

The practice can also be something that you schedule in to make sure you don’t overlook YOU. An example of this might look like scheduling an hour a day to do something that truly brings you joy. Or scheduling a massage once a month if that’s what tickles your fancy. Remember, self care is necessary in order to keep us in tip top shape- so release the guilt that might try and creep in and trust that taking care of yourself is also the best way to take care of and serve others.

Some of my favorite acts of self care include:

Epsom Salt Baths

Yeah, I’m that bitch. No shame in my game, I love a hot, half an hour bath in silence. Or maybe with a little John Mayer playing guitar only for me.

Journaling

Just getting ideas out of my head and on ‘paper’ releases so much stress for me. When I write things out, it has the ability to take away the power a negative thought may have had over me. Journaling can be extremely therapeutic… once you get past the feeling of being a young teeny-bopper pouring her little heart out.

Giving Myself Permission to Say No

“If it’s not a hell yes, it’s a no”– Jen Hatmaker. Preach sister. If I can only half ass it, or not give it my full attention, or do it just to bitch about it the entire time- it might be best that I bow out in the beginning to avoid resentment and stress later on. I’m learning to really dig boundaries.

Alone Time

My alone time is sacred. It is when I calm down, process, and recharge. I love quiet and I require time where I can focus my energy on only me. Working, being a parent, a partner, etc. are all wonderful things but they can also take a lot out of you. Setting aside alone time to just BE is be-utiful. For me- sometimes this looks like waiting until everyone is asleep and organizing and consolidating my many sticky notes from the week, preparing my schedule for the upcoming month, organizing my to-do lists and upcoming projects, or just taking a moment to step back and re-evaluate priorities. And sometimes it looks like me… sitting there… in a locked bathroom… savoring the silence.

Being Outside

Connecting with nature may sound hippy-dippy and very woo-woo but I dig it. If possible, I take my shoes off and connect with the earth, face up to the sky so to take in the sun or the moon. Being outside is an instant refresher for me. And if I can hear birds chirping and singing, it’s an added bonus. No shits- I will literally hug a tree if it feels right.

Also a Rock Hugger

Affirmations and Belly Breathing

Affirmations are my jam. I have been using them for years to help manifest positives in my life but also as a form of self care. When things seem out of my control or overwhelming, I say to myself “Breathe, everything is happening exactly as it should be” or I might remind myself that “I am enough”. Affirmations paired with deep belly breaths can help calm the nervous system, alleviate stress, and improve confidence. Plus, breathing is pretty important to living, so there’s that. * Special thanks to my pal Jacqueline who introduced me and the tiny humans to this number one hit.

Sweatpants

Not just anything without a button and zipper, I mean like early 90’s PE clothes sweatpants. Not leggings, not swishy pants, not PJ pants. I’m talking Straight. Up. Sweatpants. They just make me happy. Pair them up with an undisturbed binge sess’ of a Dr. Pimple Popper marathon… that, right there, that is my ultimate self care.

What self care is not for me: Spending money I don’t have in the name of self care just to stress later and require more intense self care. I mean, I’m all for Treat Yo’ Self as long as Yo’ Self can afford it. There are lots of free and inexpensive ways to take care of your mind, body, soul. And it won’t look the same for everyone.

Oh, and to be clear- It’s definitely not being a total bitchwad and labeling it as self care. Because, rude.

If you are struggling with what self care looks like for you, start by jotting some ideas down. Get your mind used to the idea that self care is not selfish and instead, so very necessary. Eventually your mind will begin to recognize what fills your cup and ideas will start to flow.

If you already practice, what are your preferred acts of self care? Comment below… because you never know when sharing your story might be the ceremonial fire lighting under someone else’s ass.