All Zenned Out!

Kripalu 1

Flo and Lil at the Kripalu Yoga retreat

“Hey, Lil. What time is chanting this evening?” I asked my cousin and life-long friend, Lilly.   No sooner were the words out of my mouth than I was having flashbacks of me and Lil as teenagers, huddled under a bridge, smoking cigarettes and drinking beer, our conversation peppered with four letter words. Surely teenaged Flo and Lil would have scoffed at such things as yoga, meditation and chanting. But there we were, middle-aged Flo and Lil, at the Kripalu Yoga Retreat, nestled in the serene Berkshire Mountains of Massachusetts. How the heck did that happen?

When Lil first invited me to go to Kripalu with her, I was admittedly a little skeptical. My idea of a vacation, like many of you, involved letting the healthy living habits go to the wayside, eating forbidden foods, drinking copious amounts of wine and frantically rushing from one tourist attraction to the next. (Truth be told, I return from most of my vacations feeling like I NEED a vacation!) But this was different. Four days of yoga, meditation, hiking, kayaking, massage, healthy eating, and pure R and R. Yeah, I could handle that.

The first thing I noticed about Kripalu was the feel of the place. Whether I was inside the buildings or on the expansive grounds, it always felt as if I was walking on sacred ground. Everyone spoke in hushed tones, and nowhere did you see people tethered to their cell phones or other devices. In fact, cell phone use was frowned upon in much the same way that smoking is viewed in our society. (Although, Kripalu does have a “smoking tree” where guests can go to have a puff. Upon hearing that, Lil and I went in search of a wine tree, but alas there was no alcohol anywhere on the premises.)

Kripalu 6

In my room, feeling all “zenned out”!

The second thing that caught my attention was the guests. I was kind of expecting to see a whole lot of clones of myself and Lil: middle-aged, in-good-shaped women. But there were both men and women of all shapes, sizes and ages, ranging from one year olds to a ninety-one year old. I quickly discovered that with yoga, you really cannot judge a book by its cover, as I witnessed seniors and some who were more than just a few pounds over-weight, twist themselves into pretzel like contortions. Meanwhile I, while looking like the picture of physical fitness, struggled with my down-dog! While there was great physical diversity among the guests, one thing that they all seemed to share in common was that look of glowing health. Lil and I especially took notice to a number of women whom we guessed to be in their seventies, whose skin and hair just radiated a healthy glow. They stood tall and regal-like, with willowy limbs, and moved with such distinct gracefulness that was hard not to gawk at them. (In fact, truth be told, I think we developed a sort of old-lady crush on a couple of them.)

The food at Kripalu was the healthiest fare I have ever seen.   Meals were served buffet-style in a large dining hall. There were basically three levels of food, which I called healthy, healthier, and healthiest.  On the healthy menu you could find some organic chicken or fish, but mostly an array of vegetable and grain dishes which would make your mouth water. The healthier version was the vegetarian equivalent of the meal, while the healthiest version, referred to as the “Buddah bar”, consisted of an assortment of gluten free, vegan dishes. There was plenty to choose from and all meals were DELICIOUS!

Kripalu 3

Lil striking a pose.

The main thing I have taken away from my Kripalu experience is the importance of treating my body with loving kindness. This body of mine has been through a lot in its 47 years on the planet, as is evidenced by the many battle scars it bears. It brought three children into the world, the youngest via C-section. It engaged in a fierce battle with cancer, emerging victorious, yet scarred, burned and tired from the fight. This body deserves to be nourished with healthy and delicious foods, exercised in fun ways, hydrated with plenty of clean water, and loved for all that it has carried me through. Thanks to my days at Kripalu, I have a renewed commitment to give my body just what it deserves.

Kripalu 5Flo striking a tree pose.

It is my prayer that in thirty years old-lady Flo and Lil will return to Kripalu, with the glowing hair and skin, willowy limbs, and graceful movements that can only come from a lifetime of clean, healthy living. (Hey, who knows? Maybe some middle aged women will even develop old-lady crushes on us!)





My Guru



For much of my adult life, I have searched for the secret to well-being. I have read hundreds of books, attended numerous workshops, and studied all of the great gurus of the day: Deepak Chopra, Wayne Dyer, Eckhart Tolle. But still, the secret seemed to allude me……until 3 years ago, when the secret to well-being was revealed to me, not by a great guru, but by a six year old boy with a powerful life lesson!

So begins the seven minute talk that I will be giving on Tuesday, June 17th as I compete with 11 others for the honor of being opening speaker for Deepak Chopra! Those of you who have been following my blog for a while may have figured out who this 6 year old guru that I speak of actually is. However, you will never guess how he opened my eyes to the real secret of well-being. And you may find it ironic when you hear how I learned more about well-being the year I battled cancer than I did from all my years of reading books and doing courses.

I have lost count of how many speeches and talks I have given over the past 3 years, but this one is by far the most emotional one of my speaking career. I just hope that I can maintain my composure to get through it! And if I do cry, well “shag it”, as we say in Newfoundland. I probably won’t be the only one there who tears up.

If you would like to actually hear me deliver this speech live (and I hope, vote for me!), you can purchase tickets to view the event ONLINE at the link below. I am the 11th of 12 speakers, so I will be on about 9:30 NL time (that’s 8:00 EST), and voting starts about 10:00. I would really appreciate your support!

Link to purchase tickets (note proceeds from ticket sales go to the “I am Genie” charity):

Until next week, Survive and Thrive!


Flo Makes A Confession

An old pic of me and Susan, which has absolutely nothing to do with this post.

An old pic of me and Susan, which has absolutely nothing to do with this post.


In a recent blog post, my esteemed co-author, Susan made a shocking confession.   (See full confession HERE ). Right there on camera, she shamelessly confessed to not having exercised in two full weeks! Shame on you Susan. What kind of an example are you setting for the rest of us? “I had a lot of family stuff…….a lot of family coming in from out of town.” Really? That’s the best you can do? Excuses, and you know it! Tutt-tutt-tutt.

Weeeeelllllllll, as long as we are being totally honest, I suppose I should make a confession as well. (We may need a priest for this one!)

-It’s been three full weeks since I have unrolled my yoga matt, and three-score and ten since I went for a run. (I actually don’t have a clue what “three score and ten” means, but it sounds like a long time.) Hey, what can I say? I have been battling a nasty head cold.

-While I am still adhering to my “no meats, no sweets, no dairy” rules, there are a lot of junky foods that slip through the cracks. (By which I mean the crack of my lips.) Let’s just say, there are tins of Pringles in me that haven’t even been opened yet.   But hey, I’ve been too busy to get to the grocery store, so I didn’t have any healthy snacks on hand.

-While there are “three score and ten” bottles of vitamins and supplements staring accusingly at me from a shelf in my kitchen, I will confess that I have not been faithfully taking them lately. In my own defense, it is hard to remember everything that I have to do to stay healthy! (Geeze, give me a break!)

-Of course I would be remiss not to mention my arch-nemesis/best friend, wine. While I try to limit my libations to weekends only, and “just the one”, I have vague recollections of  over indulging in  the stuff on the May 24th long weekend. Not that it is entirely my fault. I mean, I was camping, and “gravel pit” camping, no less. I would have been kicked out of the pit had I not sat around the camp fire and had “just the one” with my fellow campers.

There is no better day than Monday to get back on track with the ole health habits, so yesterday I kicked my excuses to the wayside and got to work. I got up early and did yoga. I ate only nutritious, healthy foods. I took my supplements. Best of all, I went for a run after work! I honestly thought I could hear the theme song from Rocky playing as I sprinted around the trail! By “sprinted” of course I mean a slow jog. So slow in fact that a duck pulled out and passed me at one point. But hey, I was running! No more excuses.




My eyes sprung open in a state of utter panic!  Where was I?  I scanned the room.  Nothing looked familiar.  Who is that person sleeping in the bed right next to me?  Why does my head hurt?  And why, in God’s name, am I wearing a pink feather boa?  Then it dawned on me.  I am at the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation Annual Retreat.  I rolled over and slipped back into a deep and peaceful sleep.

I just attended my third annual retreat, and what a blast! Where to begin?  It just keeps getting better and better!  In 2012, I was invited to be guest speaker at this event.  I had no idea what it was all about, but I agreed to give it a shot, sharing my “perks” with 200 courageous survivors and warriors.  (By the way, I use the term “warrior” to refer to those who are in active battle with the disease.  As far as I am concerned, the battle never ends.  Even though I am cancer free at the moment, and I am referred to as a “survivor”, the threat of recurrence is always there.  Therefore I continue to battle cancer on a daily basis through my lifestyle choices.  But I digress…..)  So there I was, at my first retreat in 2012, not knowing a soul, and not sure that I really belonged there, when these two skallywags came up to me.

judy and suzeMe, Judy and Suze

Judy and Suze took me under their wings and we struck up a friendship that I am sure will last a lifetime.  Isn’t it funny how you can feel that instant connection with some people?  Even though we had just met, it felt as if we were old friends; like our souls were reuniting after a long absence. I truly believe that soul mates come in all forms, and these ladies are certainly two of mine.  I only get together with them once a year, and that is one of the reasons why I really look forward to the retreat.

Here is another reason I look forward to it:

2014 retreat etc 067Me and Dana

Dana is considered the Rock Star of the Retreat.  She is a fabulous musician and overall phenomenal woman.  Although she received chemo on Friday, she entertained us all weekend with her angelic voice.  I am sure there must have been 50 of us crammed into her room Saturday night, singing, laughing, and sometimes crying.  ‘Cause that’s what you do at these retreats (that and drink booze!)   If you would like to listen to Dana’s song, I have included the link.  Warning: better grab a box of tissues first!  (

Just in case anybody from the CBCF is reading this, I must add, we don’t just go for the partying ya know.  The retreat is also about education and empowerment.   I didn’t get to take in all of the sessions, because I was pimping my book, but those that I did attend were fabulous!  I am sensing a new movement emerging, as survivors are taking more control of their own health.  This was reflected in the sessions.  These two gave a fabulous session on Surviving and Thriving with Stage 4 cancer:

sherry and sharonSharon and Sherry

I could talk all day about this dynamic duo.  In a nutshell, both were diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer and given their death sentence of 2 years left to live.  Both educated themselves on lifestyle choices for cancer prevention, and started making the changes.  Against the odds,  they put their cancer into remission.  It is far beyond two years (I cannot say for sure, but I am thinking at least 6 years) and both of these women have NO EVIDENCE OF CANCER in their bodies.  Conventional medicine is wonderful and I am very grateful for my treatments.  BUT, if you are really serious about kicking cancer’s butt, you gotta do the work.  Just sayin’ (I must add, cancer is a bitch, and adopting a healthy lifestyle does not guarantee that you will beat it.  But just look at these two miracle survivors!  What do you have to lose?)

In addition to the sessions, one of the things I really enjoyed this year was the healthy food.  For the first time EVA, I ordered the vegan option and did not get stir fried veggies in a sticky, sugary sauce!   In fact, my vegan meal was so delicious, that Suze was picking off my plate and practically ignoring her roast beef and Yorkshire pudding!  I know that everyone is not in to this way of eating, but it is great that we have that choice.  We even had a session where this fabulous chef showed us how to cook healthy and delicious food.


Survivor Chef, Stephanie

I could have listened to Stephanie all day, she is so funny. (I hope she gets her own cooking show!)  She showed us that kale and quinoa are not so scary, and that they can actually taste GOOD!

So that is my report from this year’s retreat.  I am currently detoxing my body with lots of lemon water and yoga and getting pumped for my TEDx talk which takes place tomorrow night.  I will keep you posted.  Have a great day, mes amis!


Me? A Motivational Speaker?

FLorence TEDx

“Miss Strang, can we have a News Team meeting tomorrow?” asked one of my favorite, 10 year old, Jamieson Academy news reporters.

“Sorry, I won’t be in school tomorrow, I have to give an important speech to a big group of School Administrators”, I replied.

“What’s your talk about?” asked my inquisitive reporter.

“Well, it is about my book, and my experiences with cancer, and how that led me to a healthier and happier lifestyle.”

“Oh! So then you are a motivational speaker!” he said.

Me? A motivational speaker? I hadn’t thought about it that way before. When did that happen????!!!!!

When I started blogging “The Perks of Having Cancer”, back in October, 2011, it started off as a little project to keep my spirits up during my treatments for cancer. I had no idea at that time where this “little project” would take me, and how my life would change as a result of it. I soon discovered that not only was it cheering me on my cancer journey, but others were finding hope and inspiration from my words as well….many others in fact. By May, 2012, after having blogged about 75 of the perks, and unsure as to whether I would actually reach my goal, I was offered my first public speaking gig. It was at the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation’s annual retreat. Paula Tessier, the Provincial Co-ordinator, asked Me… (can you believe it? ME!)…to speak to a group of about 200 women about my blog.

My first response was, “Are you nuts, Paula? I can’t do that! I’m not a public speaker.” However with a little coaxing, Paula convinced me to make my public speaking debut. I was nervous as hell, but I kept remembering the words that my father taught me as a child, “Do what you fear and your fear will disappear!” So, if Dad was right, by confronting my fear of public speaking, I could overcome that very fear. That made sense, and besides, I had faced cancer head on, so I reasoned that nothing could be scarier than that. I took the plunge.

I could barely eat a bite as I sat at the evening banquet, waiting to be called to the podium to speak. What if I get up there and go blank? What if I faint? What if I puke on stage? All of these thoughts were going through my mind as I made my way to the podium. When I got there, I took a deep breath and dove right in, telling stories from my heart, laughing at times, crying at others.   As I looked into the sea of faces in the audience, I was surprised to see that they were laughing along with me, and crying along with me. I was hooked! In that moment, a motivational speaker was born.

I have since spoken to thousands of people about my experiences, through keynote addresses, presentations and workshops, along with t.v., radio and magazine interviews. In a relatively short time, this has become second nature to me. It never ceases to amaze me how life can take us in directions we never dreamed possible!

Back when my blog first started to take off, I recall my friend, Michelle, saying, “I’ll bet we’ll see you doing a Ted Talk someday.” I laughed heartily. I mean really, a Ted Talk is the holy grail of public speaking. When I think of Ted Talkers, I think of icons like Bill Gates, Tony Robbins, and Steve Jos, not little old Florence Strang from Lawn, Newfoundland! But then, lo and behold, I heard of a Tedx Talk happening in St. John’s in May (TEDx events are planned and coordinated independently, under a license granted by TED.) I put in my application, got an audition, and got picked! So on Wednesday, May 7th, I will be taking the stage at Tedx St. John’s. Am I scared? You bet! Will my fear stop me from doing it? Not a chance!

Lessons on cancer survival from a medical miracle

Cancer Warrior:

Too good NOT to share… is my smart and funny co-author, Susan, The Savvy Sister, in ACTION!

Originally posted on The Savvy Sister:

I was so honored to get to sit down and talk with this amazing man and get his story on how he is able to deadlift 600 pounds when the doctors told him several years earlier to get his affairs in order because there was nothing they could do for him.

For those of you who don’t know D Anthony Evans, he is a cancer warrior, insane body builder, fitness expert, inspirational speaker, medical miracle, and a whole lotta fun to interview.

D has neurofibromatosis (NF); a condition that attacks the nerve tissue.  NF causes tumors to form anywhere in the body at any time.  The tumors are particularly dangerous when they grow around the spine and often cause paralysis and death.

When D felt something in his back as he was working out, he practically had to beg his doctor for an MRI to see what was causing the pain…

View original 737 more words

If They Grow It……They Will Eat It! (How To Grow Baby Greens With Your Kid)

Ben seeds

I am a bit of a fanatic when it comes to gardening. I actually get a buzz when there is a sale on potted perennials, and I believe that there is no such thing as “too many “ seeds. I also love counseling, especially when it comes to working with kids. Imagine my delight when I discovered that there is a way to combine my two passions through an intervention called Horticultural Therapy. Several years ago I enrolled in an online program and now that I am a Certified Horticultural Therapist, I can legitimately engage in my favorite pastime while at work. How cool is that?

I have been gardening with my autistic son, Ben, since he was big enough to hold a seed. If you want to learn more about the many therapeutic benefits of gardening for kids with autism, click HERE to read an article I just had published in Rustik magazine. (BTW, that is Ben in my garden pictured in the magazine article!)  I could go on for hours, maybe even days about how gardening is great for promoting healthy bodies and healthy minds, but I will try to restrain myself. (You don’t want to get me started on that.) However, I will share just ONE of the benefits. From years of gardening with kids, I have learned this: If they grow it, they will eat it. So today, I would like to share with you a simple gardening activity that you can do with your child, niece, nephew or grandchild (or just some random kid you find on the street.)

Baby Greens


Here is all you will need:

-A growing tray (I buy mine at Canadian Tire, less than $2 each).

-Seed starter mix (also at Canadian Tire, less than $4 a bag)

-Lettuce seeds (Get them at a Dollar Store….I buy mine at Dollorama, 3 packs for 99 cents)

-A spray bottle (re-use an old window cleaner bottle, make sure it is WELL washed out!)

Fill the tray with seed starter mix, about 7/8’s full. Sprinkle 1 package of seeds evenly over the soil, use your fingers to even them out. Cover lightly with more seed starter mix (not too much!).   Spray with water until soil is moist. Set on a sunny windowsill and wait. Keep the soil moist, but not wet, and turn the tray daily, as the plants will grow towards the light. In a few weeks, the lettuce will be 4 to 6 inches high, and you can cut it and eat it! Let your little gardener try it in a smoothie, a wrap or a salad. Then start another pack of seeds!

In addition to promoting healthy, organic eating habits, you have given the child a sense of accomplishment, improved self-esteem, a form of stress relief…….I told you not to get me started!



Get Fit And Healthy On A Budget

It has been a while since “Perks” has done a guest post, so I am very happy to introduce to you my guest blogger, Jessica Socheski!


Jessica is a writer and editor who loves researching holistic lifestyles. Right now she is learning about Direct Primary Care.  You can find her on Twitter.  Take it away, Jessica (isn’t she cute?):

Becoming the Healthiest You Can be Without the Price Tag

Jessica post


Spring is here! As the weather warms, people are pulling tennis shoes out from under the bed and finding new motivation to get fit for summer. In fact, the wellness and fitness industries are some of the fastest growing businesses right now. This not only means increased visits to the doctor but also more money spent on gym memberships and personal training.

We all want to be in shape and healthy, but what if you don’t want to break the bank to get there? Luckily you are not alone, and there are more options this spring than ever before to help people get back in shape without selling a kidney to pay for it.

Here are some ideas to help you put your health back on track and meet your fitness goals without breaking the bank.

1. Look for options outside traditional health insurance

The health care industry is going through major changes to make health care more affordable for Americans. This is the time to take a good look at your current plan and do research on new forms of health care and health insurance that are available to you. Many new options like direct primary care can be more affordable and efficient for the average American.

Weigh all the options before you make a decision. Chances are there is a new program out there that will offer the same coverage as your current health insurance provider for a much lower price.

2. Cancel your gym membership

This may sound counterproductive for those looking to get back in shape, but there are other, less expensive options out there. Utilizing the great outdoors is the least expensive way to get fit. Go for a run, walk, hike, bike, or swim at any city park or local public facility. The fresh air and sunshine will help you burn stress while you burn calories.

If you are not up to quitting your gym membership just yet, maybe you can still bring down the monthly cost. Do you really need to pay extra to have sauna and spa privileges, even though you haven’t used the sauna or spa facilities in months? Eliminating the unnecessary items in your plan will help you shed extra expenses and still shed pounds.

3. Enlist the help of a friend

When it comes to your health and fitness, you don’t have to go it alone. Using a friend instead of a paid personal trainer or wellness coach will keep you accountable so you can stay on track for free. Plan times when you and your friend can exercise together every week. Having someone there to push you or even compete against will help you meet your fitness goals.

You can also use social media, another free resource, to help keep you accountable and make you more aware of your choices. Apps like My Fitness Pal allow you to log your daily food and exercise and share privately with friends on Facebook. This way you are more likely to want to work on your health so you can show it off to your friends instead of hiding your slip-ups.

With these fantastic strategies and tools, you can work on reducing your budget and your weight at the same time. And you’ll be ready for swimsuit season in no time.



Cancer: What Your Doctors DON’T Tell You!



I never tire of hearing stories about people who survive cancer against the odds. You don’t read about these stories in medical journals. You’re more likely to find them in a Chicken Soup for the Soul book, or on a blog. In rare cases, you will find collections of these “miraculous” stories gathered together in a book ( such as, “From Incurable to Incredible”, by Tami Boehmer). But it’s not the stuff that science or modern medicine is made of. After all, if a doctor TELLS you that you have six months left to live, he is not going to shout it from the roof tops when you are alive 38 years later! Such is the case of Carl Helvie.

I first read about Dr. Helvie on Elyn Jacobs blog (read the whole story here). His credentials are pretty impressive: “Dr. Helvie holds an M.P.H. and Dr. P.H. from John Hopkins University and has 58 years’ experience as a nurse practitioner, educator and researcher. The author of seven books, he is host of the Holistic Health Show on BBS Radio. Thirty-eight years ago, he developed lung cancer and was given six months to live by a conventional physician. He is now among the longest living survivors of lung cancer.”

I don’t know a lot about lung cancer, being a breast cancer gal myself, but I do know that it is considered one of the deadliest types. When Dr. Helvie was diagnosed, his prognosis was grim. With just six months left to live, he decided to try to make himself as comfortable as possible. However, using a combination of alternative therapies, prayer, meditation, affirmations and visualizations (which by the way, are ALL talked about in our book, 100 Perks of Having Cancer Plus 100 Health Tips for Surviving It)….he cured himself of cancer and has been cancer free for an amazing 38 years!

I devoured every word of Dr. Helvie’s interview, but this is the line which really caught my attention: “Cancer treatment is a multimillion dollar industry in which drug companies make lots of money, hospitals have wings donated, the American Cancer Society stays in existence, there is lots of research money available, doctors make money and on and on. So there is not much incentive to disturb the status quo and find a cure. Alternative doctors have offered successful treatments for over 80 years but when one practitioner gets too successful the anti quack law is pulled out and there are attempts to put them out of business. Many such cases are documented.”

So is there stuff our doctors are NOT telling us about how to survive cancer? Damn right there is! Here are some of the things that my doctors did not tell me about how to survive, and prevent a deadly recurrence:

-By following a regular exercise program, I can reduce my risk of having a cancer recurrence by as much as 40%.

-By eating a mainly whole food, plant based diet, I can reduce my risk of recurrence by a whopping 30%.

-Studies have shown a link between vitamin D deficiency and breast cancer. Vitamin D is the sunshine vitamin. I live in Newfoundland (enough said….) People who live in northern climates are at high risk of being deficient in this vitamin, which in turn puts them at risk of developing breast cancer. To reduce the risk, take a supplement (new studies show that you should take K2 along with D3……don’t ask me why.)

-Numerous studies have demonstrated the power of natural substances such as curcumin, mushroom extract, and dandelion root, just to name a few, which in lab studies have been shown to shrink tumors and kill cancer cells.

I could go on and on sharing my “quackery” with you but the bottom line is this: people believe what they want to believe, and for the most part, they don’t want to hear the bad news about their bad habits.   It takes guts to make lifestyle changes, and change is not for the faint of heart. Are you ready for a change?

Sign up here for our FREE newsletter, giving you cancer fighting tips; delicious recipes using foods with a powerful cancer-fighting punch; inspirational stories, and MUCH MORE!



A Vaccine For Breast Cancer?



In 2009, my daughter was among the first group of grade 9 girls in Newfoundland to receive the HPV vaccination, protecting her  from  the human papilloma virus (HPV), which is the cause most cervical cancers.  Imagine that!  A vaccine to prevent cervical cancer.   While the type of breast cancer I was diagnosed with is not hereditary (which is true of 90% of all cancers), I worry about my daughter.  What if there was a vaccine to prevent breast cancer?   Well folks, you heard it here first!   Clinical trials will soon begin on a new breast cancer vaccine….cutting edge reporter, Susan Gonzalez, tells you more in this you tube video.


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