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How to get unstuck in life by simply making a next move — any next move.

Where you're going doesn't matter as much as you think it does. Maybe you should just go.

How to get unstuck in life by simply making a next move — any next move.

Lately, I’ve been hearing from lots of friends who are struggling to make the right decisions.

“I want to write a book but I don’t know where to start.” “I’d love to quit my job, but what would I do?” “I’ve always wanted to travel but can’t find the time.”

In a way, they’re all saying the same thing: They’re scared and stuck.


All photos via iStock.

But here’s what I know: 30 years from now, you won’t remember what cereal you chose at the grocery store. On your deathbed, you won’t care which vacation cruise package you picked. You won’t recall whether you chose to see the romantic comedy or the action adventure movie (unless, of course, it’s another "Die Hard" movie —  those are great).

None of these things will have mattered. What will matter is that you acted, that you made a contribution, and that you decided to do something. Or that you didn’t.

The fact is, most decisions aren’t life-changers.

The universe doesn’t care what you have for breakfast, but chances are you will eat something. Certainly, some people would say you’d be better off eating eggs than Pop-Tarts (unless, of course, we’re talking brown sugar Pop-Tarts — those things are divine). So it’s not that all decisions are equal — they aren’t — it’s that most of the time, you just need to decide to do something.

Often the decisions are just about whether to act or not. And this is the very thing most of us are afraid of doing. We waste time writing up plans and setting goals that never get done. We worry about doing the wrong thing and obsess over inconsequential details. And, sadly, we sometimes end up squandering the most important moments of our lives because we’re afraid to just do something.

For me and plenty of people I talk to, a lot of the planning is basically just stalling.

Hiding. Another way to stay stuck. So what’s the solution? What’s the answer to this paralysis we sometimes feel?

I’m not anti-planning, but sometimes you just need to start. Life is a journey, not a business plan. What would happen if you quit trying to control things? I know, it sounds sort of grand, doesn’t it? But do you want to plan your life away or live it? Let go and live the story.

Where you’re going doesn’t matter as much as you think it does, either. Just go. More often than not, you just need to move in a direction, not the direction. Stop worrying too much about which way to go and just get going.

A friend of mine calls this “the bicycle principle.”

He means that it’s easier to make changes in life once you’re moving. Just as with riding a bike, you can steer more easily the faster you’re going. And conversely, if you’re not moving and you try to steer, you’ll probably fall down.

Isn’t it interesting that failure usually happens not when we move too quickly, but too slowly? So just start pedaling and see where you end up. Where you are is nowhere near as final as it seems.

If this whole bicycle thing challenges the very fibers of your being, try any (or all) of the following:

1. Go for a jog or a bike ride to nowhere in particular.

Just start moving in hopes of leaving the familiar. Turn down every random street or path you can find until you get lost. Don’t worry about how you’ll get back. Then, see where you end up. You’ll make it back alive — I promise — and you just might be surprised where it takes you.

Remember what it feels like to wonder where you’re going. Do you recall the resistance to just get moving in the first place? Make an effort to get lost more often. It’ll make you better at overcoming that initial stall you experience every time you have to make a decision, big or small.

2. Sit outside without any technology for a full hour.

Let yourself get bored and see where the boredom takes you. Can you hear the birds chirping? The wind blowing? Yourself breathing? Pay attention to the cars or kids or sounds of insects in the background. Count the noises you recognize and imagine where they’re coming from. Bonus points for journaling about this and sharing it with someone.

Try to do this once a week, then every other day, then every day. One of the reasons we struggle to make better decisions is because we keep getting distracted with new things. Distraction is antithetical to decisiveness. Giving yourself a break from the noise will help you tune into the choices you need to make.

3. Do something that scares you.

Apply for a job. Tell someone you love them. Ask your neighbor on a date. Laugh out loud in a public place. Deliver a speech to a stranger. Climb a tree. Call someone you have a grudge against and apologize.

When you do this, pay attention to the release of fear you feel. Remember that feeling the next time you feel intimidated by a big goal or a risky situation. Remember that you didn’t die. And try to trust the process in the future.

Some of these things may seem silly, but the more you do them, the more in control you’ll feel.

The truth is that we can’t plan life, but we can participate in it. The things that seem uncontrollable are more in your grasp than you realize. Just remember:

It’s not about the destination. It’s about the direction.

If you don’t know what to do with your life — what book to write, what song to sing, what job to choose, which person to ask out — just  try picking something. It’s not a fail-proof solution, but it ain’t a bad place to start. Because the truth is once you start moving, you can always change directions.

via Sasssy Gran / TikTok

A 95-year-old-grandmother has become a sensation on TikTok, a platform that's most popular among the Gen Z set. Doris, also known as Sassy Gran, has become popular for her incredibly bold and refreshingly honest personality.

She's had a tough life which has given her a special edge that you don't find with most nonagenarians. There's also her elegant couture to show the young kids what real class looks like.

Doris was made famous by her grandson Gio who clearly loves going out to dinner with his grandmother and hearing her stories and advice.

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via Sasssy Gran / TikTok

A 95-year-old-grandmother has become a sensation on TikTok, a platform that's most popular among the Gen Z set. Doris, also known as Sassy Gran, has become popular for her incredibly bold and refreshingly honest personality.

She's had a tough life which has given her a special edge that you don't find with most nonagenarians. There's also her elegant couture to show the young kids what real class looks like.

Doris was made famous by her grandson Gio who clearly loves going out to dinner with his grandmother and hearing her stories and advice.

Keep Reading Show less
True

Each year, an estimated 1.8 million people in the United States are affected by cancer — most commonly cancers of the breast, lung, prostate, and blood cancers such as leukemia. While not everyone overcomes the disease, thanks to science, more people are surviving — and for longer — than ever before in history.

We asked three people whose lives have been impacted by cancer to share their stories – how their lives were changed by the disease, and how they're using that experience to change the future of cancer treatments with the hope that ultimately, in the fight against cancer, science will win. Here's what they had to say.

Celine Ryan, 55, engineer database programmer and mother of five from Detroit, MI

Photo courtesy of Celine Ryan

In September 2013, Celine Ryan woke up from a colonoscopy to some traumatic news. Her gastroenterologist showed her a picture of the cancerous mass they found during the procedure.

Ryan and her husband, Patrick, had scheduled a colonoscopy after discovering some unusual bleeding, so the suspicion she could have cancer was already there. Neither of them, however, were quite prepared for the results to be positive -- or for the treatment to begin so soon. Just two days after learning the news, Ryan had surgery to remove the tumor, part of her bladder, and 17 cancerous lymph nodes. Chemotherapy and radiation soon followed.

Ryan's treatment was rigorous – but in December 2014, she got the devastating news that the cancer, once confined to her colon, had spread to her lungs. Her prognosis, they said, was likely terminal.

But rather than give up hope, Ryan sought support from online research, fellow cancer patients and survivors, and her medical team. When she brought up immunotherapy to her oncologist, he quickly agreed it was the best course of action. Ryan's cancer, like a majority of colon and pancreatic cancers, had been caused by a defect on the gene KRAS, which can result in a very aggressive cancer that is virtually "undruggable." According to the medical literature, the relatively smooth protein structure of the KRAS gene meant that designing inhibitors to bind to surface grooves and treat the cancer has been historically difficult. Through her support systems, Ryan discovered an experimental immunotherapy trial at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, MD., and called them immediately to see if she was eligible. After months of trying to determine whether she was a suitable candidate for the experimental treatment, Ryan was finally accepted.

The treatment, known as tumor-infiltrating lymphocyte therapy, or TIL, is a testament to how far modern science has evolved. With this therapy, doctors remove a tumor and harvest special immune cells that are found naturally in the tumor. Doctors then grow the cells in a lab over the next several weeks with a protein that promotes rapid TIL growth – and once the cells number into the billions, they are infused back into the patient's body to fight the cancer. On April 1, 2015, Ryan had her tumor removed at the NIH. Two months later, she went inpatient for four weeks to have the team "wash out" her immune system with chemotherapy and infuse the cells – all 148 billion of them – back into her body.

Six weeks after the infusion, Ryan and Patrick went back for a follow-up appointment – and the news they got was stunning: Not only had no new tumors developed, but the six existing tumors in her lungs had shrunk significantly. Less than a year after her cell infusion, in April 2016, the doctors told Ryan news that would have been impossible just a decade earlier: Thanks to the cell infusion, Ryan was now considered NED – no evaluable disease. Her body was cancer-free.

Ryan is still NED today and continuing annual follow-up appointments at the NIH, experiencing things she never dreamed she'd be able to live to see, such as her children's high school and college graduations. She's also donating her blood and cells to the NIH to help them research other potential cancer treatments. "It was an honor to do so," Ryan said of her experience. "I'm just thrilled, and I hope my experience can help a lot more people."

Patrice Lee, PhD, VP of Pharmacology, Toxicology and Exploratory Development at Pfizer

Photo courtesy of Patrice Lee

Patrice Lee got into scientific research in an unconventional way – through the late ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau.

Lee never met Cousteau but her dreams of working with him one day led her to pursue a career in science. Initially, Lee completed an undergraduate degree in marine biology; eventually, her interests changed and she decided to get a dual doctoral degree in physiology and toxicology at Duke University. She now works at Pfizer's R&D site in Boulder, CO (formerly Array BioPharma), leading a group of scientists who determine the safety and efficacy of new oncology drugs.

"Scientists focused on drug discovery and development in the pharmaceutical industry are deeply committed to inventing new therapies to meet unmet needs," Lee says, describing her field of work. "We're driven to achieve new medicines and vaccines as quickly as possible without sacrificing safety."

Among the drugs Lee has helped develop during her career, including cancer therapies, she says around a dozen are currently in development, while nine have received FDA approval — an incredible accomplishment as many scientists spend their careers without seeing their drug make it to market. Lee's team is particularly interested in therapies for brain metastases — something that Lee says is a largely unmet need in cancer research, and something her team is working on from a variety of angles. "Now that we've had rapid success with mRNA vaccine technology, we hope to explore what the future holds when applying this technology to cancers," Lee says.

But while evaluating potential cancer therapies is a professional passion of Lee's, it's also a mission that's deeply personal. "I'm also a breast cancer survivor," she says. "So I've been on the other side of things and have participated in a clinical trial."

However, seeing how melanoma therapies that she helped develop have affected other real-life cancer patients, she says, has been a highlight of her career. "We had one therapy that was approved for patients with BRAF-mutant metastatic melanoma," Lee recalls. "Our team in Boulder was graced by a visit from a patient that had benefited from these drugs that we developed. It was a very special moment for the entire team."

None of these therapies would be available, Lee says without rigorous science behind it: "Facts come from good science. Facts will drive the development of new drugs, and that's what will help patients."

Chiuying "Cynthia" Kuk (they/them) MS, 34, third-year medical student at Michigan State University College of Human Medicine

Photo courtesy of Cynthia Kuk

Cynthia Kuk was just 10 years old when they had a conversation that would change their life forever.

"My mother, who worked as a translator for the government at the time, had been diagnosed with breast cancer, and after her chemotherapy treatments she would get really sick," Kuk, who uses they/them pronouns, recalls. "When I asked my dad why mom was puking so much, he said it was because of the medicine she was taking that would help her get better."

Kuk's response was immediate: "That's so stupid! Why would a medicine make you feel worse instead of better? When I'm older, I want to create medicine that won't make people sick like that."

Nine years later, Kuk traveled from their native Hong Kong to the United States to do exactly that. Kuk enrolled in a small, liberal arts college for their Bachelor's degree, and then four years later started a PhD program in cancer research. Although Kuk's mother was in remission from her cancer at the time, Kuk's goal was the same as it had been as a 10-year-old watching her suffer through chemotherapy: to design a better cancer treatment, and change the landscape of cancer research forever.

Since then, Kuk's mission has changed slightly.

"My mom's cancer relapsed in 2008, and she ended up passing away about five years after that," Kuk says. "After my mom died, I started having this sense of urgency. Cancer research is such that you work for twenty years, and at the end of it you might have a fancy medication that could help people, but I wanted to help people now." With their mother still at the forefront of their mind, Kuk decided to quit their PhD program and enter medical school.

Now, Kuk plans to pursue a career in emergency medicine – not only because they are drawn to the excitement of the emergency room, but because the ER is a place where the most marginalized people tend to seek care.

"I have a special interest in the LGBTQ+ population, as I identify as queer and nonbinary," says Kuk. "A lot of people in this community and other marginalized communities access care through the ER and also tend to avoid medical care since there is a history of mistreatment and judgement from healthcare workers. How you carry yourself as a doctor, your compassion, that can make a huge difference in someone's care."

In addition to making a difference in the lives of LGBTQ+ patients, Kuk wants to make a difference in the lives of patients with cancer as well, like their mother had.

"We've diagnosed patients in the Emergency Department with cancer before," Kuk says. "I can't make cancer good news but how you deliver bad news and the compassion you show could make a world of difference to that patient and their family."

During their training, Kuk advocates for patients by delivering compassionate and inclusive care, whether they happen to have cancer or not. In addition to emphasizing their patient's pronouns and chosen names, they ask for inclusive social and sexual histories as well as using gender neutral language. In doing this, they hope to make medicine as a whole more accessible for people who have been historically pushed aside.

"I'm just one person, and I can't force everyone to respect you, if you're marginalized," Kuk says. "But I do want to push for a culture where people appreciate others who are different from them."