Thursday 16 May 2013

Ground Control to Major Tom

Sometimes we need to find a little inspiration in our lives to lift us out of the humdrum everyday routine and make us stop and realize that it's the here and now that matters and most importantly that it's those people in our here and now who matter the most.  It could just be a morning snuggle with your 6 year old, still warm and half-asleep, the simple fact that the sun is shining or mastering a yoga pose just for a fraction of a second - anything, no matter how small, can make a difference to your day and to your life.

Photo: Pinterest

And sometimes, it's the unlikeliest people who provide the inspiration, so step forward Commander Chris Hadfield and Angelina Jolie. A seemingly unlikely double act I'll admit, but both of them have shared a part of themselves with the world this week, and in totally different ways have inspired us to stop and think about about love, life and the universe.

Photo: AP/Nasa

Commander Chris Hadfield has been in charge of the International Space Station for the past 5 months and has been tweeting his experiences back to Earth whilst sharing amazing photographs from space. If ever you needed a reason for the existence of Twitter - Commander Chris is it.

South Island New Zealand Photo: Chris Hadfield/NASA

Mount Etna Photo: Chris Hadfield/NASA

But his parting shot as he finished his stint "far above the world" this week is a stroke of genius: with David Bowie's blessing he has recorded the classic track "Space Oddity" from inside the Space Station and it's moving, wonderful, lump in the throat stuff.

The lyrics "Here am I floating in my tin can" have never been more apt and as we watch the beautiful images of Earth passing Hadfield's window he reminds us just how awe-inspiring our planet and the Universe really are. My boys have always been keen on playing astronauts and never more so than having watched this video - they would both apply to NASA tomorrow if they could. (The video's gone viral not surprisingly, with all the papers and news channels commenting on it.) Inspiring stuff for Earthlings, and a slam-dunk for Bowie fans everywhere.

"The Moon rising over a bed of cloud. A constant reminder to us all of what can be achieved." 

And so to what's being called a "giant leap for womankind" (see what I did there?) Angelina Jolie announced this week in the New York Times that she has undergone a preventive double mastectomy after she discovered via genetic testing that she carried a faulty BRCA1 gene which gave her an estimated 87% risk of contracting breast cancer and a 50% risk of ovarian cancer. Her breast cancer risk now, post surgery has been reduced to under 5%.

Photo: Brad Pitt

Jolie's beloved mother died of the disease at the age of 56 and her premature death devastated the actress. Now, as a mother of 6 children, whilst Jolie found the decision to have the surgery (and subsequent breast reconstruction) a tough one, she is very happy she made it. And most importantly of all she says: "I can tell my children that they don’t need to fear they will lose me to breast cancer."

Photo: Brad Pitt

Photo: Brad Pitt

She then states: "On a personal note, I do not feel any less of a woman. I feel empowered that I made a strong choice that in no way diminishes my femininity." Way to go Angie. By speaking out about her choices, awareness for genetic testing and preventive treatment for breast cancer has already increased, and in addition to all the print article coverage, I have listened to several debates on both television and radio this week and all are in broad support of Jolie's actions, her courage and her impact on this hugely important health issue. Finally, if we needed further proof of the "Angelina effect", la Jolie is on the cover of this week's Time Magazine with Time's Jeffrey Kluger calling her revelation a "cultural and medical earthquake." Yup, this is going to be huge....

Photo: Melodie McDaniel/Trunk Archive
We can't cheat destiny, but Jolie is giving it her best shot.  She is brave, she is beautiful, she is a great role model and through her personal choices and actions she is doing the best to be there for her children for as long as she can be. I cannot think of a more inspiring life lesson than that. Can you hear me Major Tom?

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