Category Archives: Healing

Mildly Medicated: HGH Therapy, Music and the Metamorphosis

Rocky Basile is the compact drumming dynamo behind the sound the Modern Rock Band Mildly Medicated. What do you get when you combine a lead singer with Hemophilia, a guitarist with ADD, a guitarist with diabetes, a bassist with Tourette’s, and a drummer on HGH therapy? You get the modern rock band Mildly Medicated. Against all possible odds, these uniquely talented young musicians from Monmouth County NJ found each other in 2012, all unaware that each of them had medical issues. It was only until they were discussing possible band names that they all realized that they shared a commonality.

Labels – Sometimes the packaging hides what’s really within

I’ve been called them all, midget, dwarf, shrimp, shorty, just to name a few. When a girl Screen Shot 2016-06-24 at 9.34.46 PMwrites in your middle school yearbook “Rocky, you’re my favorite midget in the whole world” it’s hard to find the compliment in that statement. By then I was already one of the best drummers my age in the state of NJ, but that didn’t seem to matter much to people my age. I think that’s one of the things that drew me to drums, other than the fact that I sucked at everything else, was that I sounded big. I mean you could barely see be behind the kit, but there was no question I was there when I stated to play. My beats were loud, angry, attacking, and complex; all the things I wasn’t in physical form.

You see, at age 12 I was diagnosed with a non-functioning pituitary gland, which just happens to be the gland that produces human growth hormone when you sleep. My growth velocity was measured as zero. I was destined to be a little person. Other than being able to park in the handicapped zone, I wasn’t really happy with the prospects of being 4’2″.

My parents gave me two options, one being to break my legs and transplant bone grafts into the gap and put rods through my legs to hold everything in place, or lobby our insurance company for legal human growth hormone, which costs around $5,000 a month. I opted for hormone therapy, and thus we embarked on a two year battle with our health insurance company to get them to pay for it. Their position was I was not sick. Our position was that we wanted them to look at the situation holistically and treat the entire patient, not just an affected area. I would be a happier and healthier person if I was able to grow to a normal height. During this two year battle with them, my internal clock was ticking, and my growth plates would eventually lock up, and no hormone would ever make a difference. I became depressed hearing my father constantly fighting with the insurance company, while trying to hide the pain of labels and the natural abuse you get in school by being the “favorite midget” .

The recluse

Even though we finally won the battle over the insurance company and I was taking daily injections into the flank of my stomach, I threw myself in my music because I could feel the Screen Shot 2016-06-24 at 9.34.59 PMdepression and the anger start to build. School was still problematic, and I had not yet found my voice. My body was changing, some of it for the better, but some not. It’s a funny thing about human growth hormone, it makes everything grow, even the bad stuff inside you. And for me, the bad stuff wanted to make itself known. I developed tumors in my wrists and ankles, which is not great if you’re a drummer, causing me to have multiple surgical procedures. I had just started playing with my band Mildly Medicated, I had just starting feeling like I was accepted and surrounded by people who understood me, and now my drumming career could potentially be over. Continue reading

Far Better To Dare Mighty Things

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One of my favorite quotes in the world is Theodore Roosevelt’s, “Far Better to Dare Mighty Things”.

“Far better to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor souls who neither enjoy nor suffer much, in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.”

No one on earth lives this wisdom more than one of our Project Athena “Survivors”, Alli Morgan. I created Project Athena to help women survivors of medical or other traumatic setbacks achieve their adventurous dreams.

When Alli was 15 years old, she tore her ACL in a soccer game. She went in for a routine surgery to fix her ACL and was progressing toward recovery until she faced intense pain and couldn’t advance further in her therapy. It was discovered in an x ray that a screw was lodged in the joint and the replaced ACL was too long. So she underwent a second surgery to correct the first. A few weeks after her second surgery, a staph infection set in, and her surgical wound refused to close. The ligaments and hardware in her knee became septic and were removed, but the infection continued to spread.

Over the next four years, which were spent on crutches, Alli endured over 40 surgeries and spent a collective 15 months in the hospital, missing college. To literally add insult to injury, her leg had become irrevocably locked straight, and no surgeon could provide her with an answer about whether she would ever be able to bend that leg or walk again. So at the very young age of 20, Allie decided to make a very brave decision to avoid the “gray twilight” her life had become, and she dared to do a very mighty thing.

She decided to become an elective above the knee amputee to gain her life back. She applied for a grant to become one of our Project Athena “Athenas” for the Keys to Recovery Adventure, which is a kayak and bike ride from Key Largo to Key West. She completed all 120 miles of that journey in 2012 surrounded by a supportive group of fundraising gods and goddesses in and crossed the finish line with her new bionic leg and her new life. She’s now a member of the US Paralympic Skeleton Team.

For me, Alli truly embodies Theodore Roosevelt’s Far Better To Dare Mighty Things quote, because she knew that there would be fear, failure, and pain along the way….but a far bigger fear for her was to take rank with those poor souls who neither enjoy much nor suffer much in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat. She knew her life would be harder in many ways, but as she said in an interview, “I didn’t know if I was going to get my life back or what would ultimately happen, I just knew I had to try”. Brave words, from a brave young lady who would much rather have victory or defeat than what ifs.

So what is your gray twilight? How are you in limbo in your life? It’s time to channel your inner Alli Morgan and dare mighty things!


Robyn Benincasa is a World Champion Adventure Racer, 3x Guinness World Record Kayaker, San Diego City Firefighter, 10x Ironman Triathlete, sought-after leadership speaker, New York Times Bestselling author of ‘How Winning Works’, proud owner of 2 bionic metal hips, and the Founder and CEO of The 501c3 Project Athena Foundation, which helps survivors live an adventurous dream as part of their recovery. In her spare time, Robyn’s favorite hobby is inspiring people to do insane, life affirming things like run their first triathlon, start their own business, hike the Grand Canyon Rim to Rim, or kayak and ride 100 miles from Key Largo to Key West. For more information visit www.robynbenincasa.com and www.projectathena.org.

In Memoriam…

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by Arsenio Rodriguez

These incredible arms that we are endowed with can move at will, to gesture praise or curse, to caress and strangle, to protect and destroy. These thoughts, feelings and speech that I carry, can arrange to communicate humbly and generate laughter, consolation, forgiveness, or in self-aggrandizement and ignorance, stimulate fear, violence, prejudice.

Thoughts and feelings, that in a secret whisper can poison the other through calumny and generalization, and fueled by my darkest fears, can align with the fears of others to give rise to a wave of hatred and animosity, however those same thoughts and feelings, when attuned to that inner voice that once said “let he who has no sins cast the first stone” they can shower instead, compassion, and the gift of forgiveness. This fascinating mind of ours! It has blessed us with technology, to heal and prolong life, to alleviate suffering, to look beyond our senses and magnify our awe, at the cosmic miracle of universe and life. But it also has given us the tools of mass destruction, the capacity to magnify the power of our strangling and sword carrying hands, to shower death in an instant, not just to a fighting face-to-face adversary, but to dozens, hundreds, thousands, millions of our fellow living beings.

From the mass graves of Eastern Europe, the ovens of Germany, the fields of Rwanda, the prairies of western United States, the coliseums of Rome, the squares of Tienanmen, the slave trade of Africa, the religious wars of India, the crusades, the Armenian purge, the conquest of America, the “collateral damages”, the rape of Nanjing, the burnt flesh of Hiroshima, to the dance halls of Orlando, massacres have occurred all the time, as we know from recorded and not recorded history, perpetrated by governments, tribes, religions, ethnic groups, individuals, all who have become possessed by the fear inside, disguised as hatred for the demonized others. We have shed the blood of others so many times. Continue reading

7 Simple Reminders When Dealing With the Stress of Death

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You know it’s probably not a good thing when the phone rings at 1am.

My mom called me from the hospital and woke me with terrible news. My stepfather died from a massive heart attack. How can this happen to a “healthy” and vibrant person?  He was only 64 years old. She was in shock.

Most people aim to have a smooth, steady and orderly life. Stress is an invasion into that “peaceful” environment. The death of a loved one is #1 of the top 5 causes of stress.

The grief from a death is intense. It effects your emotions, body and overall life in many ways. A sudden death, like my stepfather’s, just feels unnatural and can challenge anyone’s confidence. An incident like this can turn your world upside down.

There are different stages of grief and it’s important to deal with the process. Don’t rely on alcohol and drugs; they only numb the pain temporarily and can prolong the recovery process of mourning. Mourning is the psychological process of healing and is different for everyone.

Here are 7 simple reminders to help deal with the stress of death and the grieving process: Continue reading

Mildly Medicated: How Type 1 Diabetes and Music Made a Family

By Steve Freed of Mildly Medicated

Steve Freed is the 2nd lead Guitarist of the Modern Rock Band Mildly Medicated. What do you get when you combine a lead singer with Hemophilia, a guitarist with ADD, a guitarist with diabetes, a bassist with Tourette’s, and a drummer on HGH therapy? You get the modern rock band Mildly Medicated. Against all possible odds, these uniquely talented young musicians from Monmouth County NJ found each other in 2012, all unaware that each of them had medical issues.  It was only until they were discussing possible band names that they all realized that they shared a commonality.

It’s not easy not knowing what is wrong

It all started so normally. I grew up happily in the bucolic and sleepy town of Colts Neck NJ, content to play video games and watch movies on TV. My parents were wonderful and I got Screen Shot 2016-05-25 at 11.58.00 AMalong ok with my older sister. I was generally a quiet kid and blended in well, sometimes into the back ground, of school. Then things started to change. I became bloated and a little over weight. I started to not feel right. One day at school I passed out and it prompted my parents to get me tested of an assortment of things. When the results came back, it was determined that I had Type 1 Diabetes. I was dumbfounded. Continue reading

The Real Story Of The Prince Tragedy

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For many people hearing about drug abuse, addiction is seen an issue faced by those with limited resources and limited ability to make changes in their life. However, celebrity drug addiction, including the recent death of Prince, shines a light on just how pain medication addiction can be found at any level of society.

According to friends of the late singer, Prince had an addiction to opioids that has been with him for at least a decade. He was first seen taking opioids after a hip strain, and he continued to up his dosage to continue to perform as early as a decade ago. Continue reading

I.L.L.U.M.I.N.A.T.E  A Ten- Step Plan For Creating Abundance In Your Life

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By Kristin Meekhof, LMSW

A little over two years ago, I began sharing a bit about my writing journey. I embarked on an entirely different career while maintain my day job as a clinical social worker. I wasn’t sure how to write anything for a national platform. I didn’t have a literary agent, a publishing contract, any type of media connections or a marketing background. I simply wanted to share my story and that of other widows in the hopes that they would feel less alone. I did one blind entry about gratitude to the Huffington Post and to my surprise, they published it. They were not the only major company to open their arms to me.

What followed in the past two-and-a-half years is nothing short of phenomenal. I became friends with Dr. Deepak Chopra, who did the cover blurb for my book, “A Widow’s Guide to Healing”, and I began to contribute to Maria Shriver’s platform, and she also did a cover blurb. In addition, I was interviewed by Katie Couric, American Greetings, my story was on the USA Today website, and I found myself at ABC’s headquarters doing a live hour long tweet chat. Most recently, I was at the United Nations.  By the way, Deepak did not introduce me to any of these individuals, nor, did a publicity team garner this support.

The question I am most asked is this- How did I manage this on my own? 

Many of the practices I developed evolved as my own writing / publishing process evolved. However, I can share with you that I know that because I practiced what I call I.L.L.U.M.I.N.A.T.E. this ten- step program which I developed over time, my world is richer and brighter. These practices aren’t exclusive to the publishing world. Anyone who is interested in creating more abundance can integrate these steps. Continue reading

Daily Opportunities to Live My Gratitude

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By Ryan Skinner

I had the wonderful opportunity this week to travel to Aruba for a vacation with my fiancée and future stepchildren. One evening, while sitting alone on the balcony of our room, gazing out in awe at the beautiful landscape and feeling warmed the balmy breezes, I was overwhelmed with a feeling of gratitude. I’m blessed with so many things – family and friends who love me, opportunities to meet and work with amazing people and the daily opportunity to express how grateful I am to God for giving this recovering addict a second chance at life. I’ve been in very dark places and know that my story could have ended differently. But this night in Aruba, like all of the days since I made the commitment to be clean and sober, offered another moment to reflect on the reality that if you do the right things, hang in there and choose to live God’s way, all of those blessings are possible.

Since I renewed my commitment to God and a life of meaning and purpose dedicated to helping others both professionally and personally, I’ve developed daily prayer, meditation and journaling rituals that help me get into the right spiritual mindset. I’ve been doing this ever since I got sober. I wake up by 6 a.m. at the latest and spend 30 minutes on a combination of praying (sometimes on my knees on a clean floor, but sometimes even at my kitchen counter having my morning coffee) and doing affirmation readings from books of positive quotes and writings that inspire me to live that day and be present. I spend a lot of time on gratitude. Whether it’s dark or light, I always light a candle. It’s just my way of bringing spirituality into the moment and connecting with God. My morning journaling is simple, just writing thank you to God for another day He has granted me. Continue reading

Mildly Medicated: Musicians Find Hope and Possibility After Diagnosis

By Jenna Basile of Mildly Medicated

Jenna Basile is the Bassist of the Modern Rock Band Mildly Medicated. What do you get when you combine a lead singer with Hemophilia, a guitarist with ADD, a guitarist with diabetes, a bassist with Tourette’s, and a drummer on HGH therapy? You get the modern rock band Mildly Medicated. Against all possible odds, these uniquely talented young musicians from Monmouth County NJ found each other in 2012, all unaware that each of them had medical issues.  It was only until they were discussing possible band names that they all realized that they shared a commonality.

I’m going to start this story backwards.  I can assure you it ends well, and I have found peace, love, and acceptance. I have forged a family out of people who were once strangers, I have found my passion, my defining life force, my balance. The road to all this enlightenment and nirvana was not exactly an easy one to walk as there were many obstacles in my way and many forks where decisions had to be made. Let’s back uScreen Shot 2016-04-07 at 8.22.08 AMp a little a put ourselves about 4 years ago. I was a young female going through my really awkward stage. I wasn’t hideous, but I wasn’t the belle of the ball either. I did not hang with the “popular kids” and my father spent long hours as an investment banker in NYC, and sometimes left to live in foreign lands for weeks or months. I took solace in playing music. My older brother was already an accomplished drummer, and it looked like he was having fun, so I decide to follow him and began studying piano. After almost two years, I was pretty decent, although if I was honest with you I don’t think I was truly passionate about the instrument, but I did enjoy the accolades. One night while practicing, I noticed that I was unable to strike the keys with precision. As I continued, I realized that I was losing control of my body as a whole; the movements that were happening were not of my own design. I freaked out and had to be taken to the emergency room. I remember when the doctor walked in after I had taken a battery of tests. Just the look on his face told me that my world was about to change. Continue reading

My Past Doesn’t Define Me – It Strengthens Me

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By Ryan Skinner

Gandhi once said, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” As a recovering addict given a second chance at life, I have been given the opportunity to pay forward my reversal of fortune to help others struggling with the disease of addiction. Every day I ask God how I can be of service to others using the talents He’s given me, and I have learned that the true measure of success is found in how many people you bless. It may sound ironic to be grateful to have gone through something so horrific, but I thank God now that I can help people experiencing the same nightmare. Continue reading

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