Category Archives: Inspiration

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.

How Music Can Change Your Life… Even if it Wasn’t Your Intent

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How often have you heard someone say: “Wow… that song really moves me!”… or “That piece is so stirring…!” Well, there’s a reason for that: there’s an emotional connection… a bridge… which inexorably links our physical selves in this earthly world to our souls in the spiritual world. It’s one of the very few absolutes we can count on. And unless you’re sociopathic or a psychopath.. it’s inescapable. In other words, being touched in some way by any/all music that you hear makes an impact to some extent that’s unavoidable. One’s auditory connection to the physical world instantly translates any music you hear into emotional “triggers” that migrate immediately to the cerebellum and hippocampus (part of the brain’s limbic system) regions in the central and medial temporal lobe of the brain where neurons process the synapses into sensation… what we call “emotional feelings”.

The impact of these emotional feelings varies for myriad reasons of course, a few being one’s personality, likes/dislikes, environmental situations and so on. But there is no discussion that can argue against this impact and how this transferance moves our spiritual intent to new highs… or lows depending on the music. I said spiritual intent because the reality is that your emotions drive your spirit whether you want that or not.

And you CAN function with intent both physically and emotionally… and you should. Otherwise, as you no doubt have commented to yourself at times about some people you have seen, your life becomes aimless, your actions shiftless and without direction. Seems lately like there’s so many more people like that these days, young and old: without direction, without intent. I’m certain that if used correctly, music could help them.

The fascinating study of how truly impactful and enriching music is to humanity has in recent years become an entire and separate discipline of collegiate study: music therapy. Just visit Children’s Hospital Los Angeles or any hospital with major emphasis in children’s medicine and you will see music therapy being applied just as readily as pharmacological remedies. The point here is that the biological effect AND the spiritual effect BOTH need to be applied in many cases to aid in full and comprehensive treatment if a young patient is to be returned to full health. And I mean FULL health, which includes spiritual nourishment in equal amounts as medication. Music can and does provide emotional uplifting which raises the spirit in injured or diseased patients and obviously now, it is done with the intent that the process will manifest very positive results. It’s been proven. It works. 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

Living with Intent: What Are You Creating?

Over a year ago we saw the release of Living with Intent and the Intent.com app.
Both came after years of growing an Intent community who shared their truest hopes and passions with one another, supported one another and saw one another make dreams a reality.

So what’s going on over at Intent.com?
Today we wanted to share these beautiful intents created by our members while on the go using the Intent app: Continue reading

Are You a Worrier? Three Tips to Worry Less.

8422339152_4403e7cd77_zI worry to some extent, of course, but I don’t think I worry as much as a lot of people.

Many people worry about how much they worry!

Today, the New York Times had an interesting article by Roni Caryn Rabin, “Worried? You’re Not Alone.

In it, Rabin points out several intriguing findings in a Liberty Mutual Insurance research paper, the “Worry Less Report.”

Apparently Millennials worry about money. Single people worry about housing (and money). People worry less as they grow older.

Some people — for instance, like my sister Elizabeth — feel that if they do worry about something, they’ll somehow prevent a bad thing from happening. Rabin points out, very sensibly, “Researchers say this notion is reinforced by the fact that we tend to worry about rare event, like plane crashes, and are reassured when they don’t happen, but we worry less about common events, like car accidents.”

Rabin also distinguishes between “productive worry,” which helps us solve a problem, and worry where you’re just, well, stewing in worry.

According to the report, here are some ways to tackle worrying: Continue reading

An Open Letter To All Graduates: Create Something That Makes The World More Luminous, Curious & Golden

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Dear Graduate,

Congratulations you have crossed the finish line. As you know, your route here was filled with tears of joy and sorrow, dreams shattered and fulfilled, moments that dispatched you to the arms of a beloved, remarkable beginnings and ends sealed with generous promises.

Closing this chapter in your life offers a time of reflection on you. In fact, the day you were born the world became more luminous. Chances are along the way you forgot this truth. At times it was overshadowed by fear or dismissed as insecurity, but I am here to remind you that it is still present. It is something that is uniquely yours, and can’t be outsourced. In fact, there is no end to your luminosity.  It is there amidst the lump in your throat and misty eyes. It is there in your sweaty palms and confused mind. It is there deep in your belly and lined in your heart. It is there.

And so I am thinking of the very word ILLUMINATE and asking you to use it as you move forward. Let it become a part of your being, your manifesto if you will. I am thinking of the very letters that make up this bold ten letter word.

I am looking at ILLUMINATE as what it literally spells out. It is here. 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

Mildly Medicated: ADD, Normalcy and Finding Acceptance in Music

Pay Attention!

If there were two words that I could have stricken from the English language growing up, it would have been those two. You would think that hearing them countless thousands of times you’d become desensitized, but you don’t, or at least I didn’t. People with ADD, which is very different from ADHD will know what I’m talking about. It has nothing to do with being smart or mental capacity, it’s just that your brain has its own set of commands and protocols that it intends to follow, and getting it to do something completely different and focusing just goes against the grain. In fact, it really wants to do something completely different most of the time, regardless of how much I want it to do what everyone else is doing. It’s not a question of desire; it’s a question of a biological constraint. The sooner you learn to work within that constraint, the easier things become.

There are a lot of very good people who I know I frustrated early on, my mother is one, and this woman has the patience of a saint. She was raising 3 boys on her own, and I’m sure I didn’t make the task any easier for her. My family, my teachers, all people who had the best intentions of trying to help me, sometimes made matters worse. I learn at my own pace. Sometimes that can be slower than normal, and sometimes faster. It depends on the protocol. Thankfully I was able to find a connection with music. Listening to it, understanding it on an intimate level, and being able to play it was somehow within my ADD brain wiring protocol. I must admit that in the beginning I was not very good, but I found out early that my condition seemed to exclude music while my brain usually bounced around from subject to subject, or topic to topic. I realized I was actually able to practice for very long periods of time and get things accomplished. Through music, I was able to be recognized as more normal, or should I say “more acceptable”. I dove into it with everything I had. I knew that in some way, it would be my salvation. Continue reading

Ten Things Change-Makers Do

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Last month, I had the honor of attending the United Nations’ Conference titled- Commission On The Status of Women at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City. I was present for several of the briefings. The conference drew in ambassadors, representatives, leaders, Deputy Secretary Generals, directors, policy makers, founders of non-government organizations, delegates, chiefs, ministers for human rights, and others from around the world. The event brought together incredibly bright minds from various backgrounds to examine ways to empower women through the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. I was also invited to partake in many side- events that were organized by many of the people present for the conference. Typically, these events were smaller and conversations took place over a meal or coffee. At one side event, there were eight of us sharing a meal at a local restaurant.

What struck me about those in attendance not only for the larger conference and also for these side-events is that these individuals were not only successful leaders, but they were clearly what one would consider change- makers/ over- achievers. As a clinical social worker and author, I’m interested in observing behavior patterns. During these events, I began to notice that these change- makers had some traits and behaviors in common that I thought would be valuable to share. This list is in no particular order of importance.

Ten Things Change- Makers Do: Continue reading

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