Wednesday, March 30, 2011

state of mind

this morning on the way to work
I found myself singing that old song
Oh what a beautiful morning
forgetting more than half the words and putting
the ones I did remember in the wrong order
it didn't matter at all
it really was a beautiful morning

at one point it dawned on me that one phrase I would
like to use in reference to the idea of home is:
state of mind
beyond geographical location
I can actually be at home anywhere at all
I can create a home anywhere at all
and that has always been a lovely challenge for me
can I start from a mess
perhaps a crazy space
a rental
an absolute void
throw in very little money
lots of willpower and imagination, some fabric, paint & plants, then
create something from almost nothing

those memories when I was able to pull it off make me very happy
they also hit me at times with a sense of
why can't I get it together now like I used to
and the answers come soon enough when I remember
where I have been

state of mind
as a home in itself
to stand completely alone in time and space
and say yes
I am alone and not lonely
can I even get comfortable with the idea of
letting living go at some point
will I be comfortable enough in the home of my soul
to incorporate that essential aspect of
a whole life
into a peaceful state of heart?

one goal that I set for myself in this new year
in my 2nd life
to have a student's mind towards every single person I meet
young, old, wherever we may meet at any given moment

there is much to be learned
there are so many incredible people to learn from
I believe that setting that goal has caused me to be
super aware
like I woke up
startled at the vast numbers of individuals
I am blessed to connect with

I know I miss many
but I try not to brush past them
to pay attention, push my hair back away from my eyes, seek to focus
in the Grand Central Station stream of faces in a blur

it harkens back to a chosen state of open mind
at home
and welcoming...

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

the idea of home

it has been a very intense time in the lives
of my two clients
one now lives in a nursing home as of yesterday
and the other at 96 years of age
had an operation yesterday
and greeted me with a big smile
sitting in his chair
in his home this morning

I am caring for and learning from these individuals
the value of home
watching the pain and anger of my little lady
reacting to being "put into" the nursing home
watching a daughter know that the time had come
and her pain channeled into trying her best
to creatively work with such small space
and within boundaries
put together
a little representation of her mother's

I was honored that she asked me to be part of the
design team: the daughter and me
we spent several hours on Saturday shopping
writing down ideas of what would be good to take
from home
and doing our best to make the space
comfortable and comforting
I loved the experience and happy that my vehicle
worked when she needed a larger space
for transporting

the efforts in the beginning have not been received
how difficult it must be to make the adjustments
away from a large beautiful home that holds so many stories
and especially it held that powerful energy called independence

to age
to be 93 or 96
how extraordinary to have that vantage point on personal
and external history
the upsides are fascinating
the downsides can be grueling
depending on your response or reaction to circumstances
way beyond your control
for example the loss of memory
or use of your body to do the simplest of tasks...
the list goes on as time goes on

yesterday in the nursing home everything was very touchy
like walking on shards of broken glass
and trying to smile your way through it

at one point, my little lady was expressing her anger
verbally in the hallway
her wheelchair needed to be moved in order for another resident
to pass by with her walker
I saw that if I moved another wheelchair it would solve the spatial issue
our walker-lady then made her own move
right up to our little shouting person and said to her:
"If you want to get better and stronger you need to listen to
what people around here are telling you to do.
They are trying to help you.
If they tell you something, just say 'Yes, Ma'am' and do it."
and she proceeded on her merry walker way!

we all became quite quietly speechless at the direct wisdom imparted
from the mouth of one who knew and literally walked-the-walk.

the nurse then said: shall we go to your room now?
and I almost laughed out very loud when we heard a sharply distinct:
"YES, MA'AM" coming from a wheelchair
which held a precious suffering woman
wanting only to go home
fighting inside herself
with her daughter
with her body
with her failing memory that refuses to contain the facts of falling
so many times in the past several weeks...

where is home?
my elderly gentleman and I touched on that topic several times
in the past few days as well

it has triggered thoughts for me
is it a place
a structure
an address
do you own it or does it own you

what have you gathered inside the walls, the rooms, the closets
what meaning do I place on things
what can I let go of
what do I keep and why
are the stories we live alive in the house?
am I happy wherever I am as long as the people I love are there with me?

being with elderly people all the time
the issues of finality come up
some are very candid and humorous about their mortality
about their estates and wills and the hereafter, whenever, wherever
this morning I was so happy to see my elderly friend
with amazing energy after a serious medical event
we joked
I told him that I was really happy that I found him at home this morning
and not chatting it up with St. Peter (he mentioned that as a possible
outcome of anesthesia gone awry or any number of kablooeys)
"We'll save that for another day...."

what do we hold on to
what defines home
we all know you can't take it with you
so you leave it all behind hopefully with joy and harmony guiding the process
being the result of a lifetime of investing your energy and heart

"things" are representational
the physical aspects of a home are extensions of ourselves, our personalities
our affection for others...

I love homes in the natural world
the nests of birds are particularly fascinating and moving to me
just last night I was reading in a magazine how it is a nice idea
to leave a bucket outside filled with bits of string and yarn, for example,
as potential building materials for homes for certain birds
even the smallest of art supplies have meaning once again

I won't get carried away with my robin's nest story
(it helped me through some very dark days)
but I will say that in my discussions about "in the old days"
in the pioneer days
or today
people have made and continue to make homes
as vastly different as a tiny little cottage to a castle
and the thing that really matters is the
that is there
(or not there)
deep inside
the kind of love that goes beyond material
goes beyond definition, permeates the atmosphere,
because it is so vital and spiritual, rich and vast,
eternal and natural
exploding in its own joy
tranquil in its own peace
and the structure is warm, a human nest
a place to rest and revitalize
to create what really matters
that goes way past even our own dreams
a glimpse... a simple glorious glimpse...

I have spent the last four plus years mostly "in homes" really
my own, trying to create a touch of that "glimpse" for my children
a sense of nest
as they prepare and then do fly away...

even at the cancer center, we refer to our chairs in the chemo room as "nests"
and cozy them up as much as possible for ourselves and for each other
many many times I have mentioned that I might as well take a cot there
because it is one of my homes

I work for
"Home Instead"
so that for as long as possible people might be able to
stay in their homes instead
and then when they need to Move On Instead
I want to be there for the transition
as we attempt to create a new nest
from which, yes, they will someday,
fly away

Thursday, March 24, 2011

it just means so much to me

writing here has become such a comfort
thank you for your kindness
caring about me and my family
I deeply love and appreciate you

it just means so much to me
so very much

happy sweet dreams, nights and days

MRI results for Bryan

we got to the doctor's office right after school
Bryan has tendinitis (sp?)
it is important that we finally know what he is dealing with
he will not be able to play tennis
for the whole week ahead - which is Spring Break - a time
when the guys who stay in town generally play a lot,
especially challenge matches before the season begins

this is hard for Bryan
he was working hard during practices
loves it
loves the team experience
and wants to support his team

Coach has been very good to him
I appreciate that a lot

rest is what Bryan needs for his foot/leg to heal
it is a major tendon
the doctor said that he was lucky that it did not actually
that would have required surgery

at this stage
even though he may start at the JV level to start off the season
& see how the healing is progressing
then work from there.
knowing Bryan, he will be the best supporter for the other players
his friends
even though he may not have the "position" he worked and hoped for...

Brandon's hand has healed so well, what a relief
he is teaching tennis to more and more students
the other day I was at the tennis courts (Hickman High's) to pick Bryan up
met Coach's Mom there, we first met last year
she was holding Coach's sweet little baby Collin
and shared with me that she and her lady-friends have a very good tennis
teacher, helping them with their doubles play: my son Brandon!
that cracked me up to think of Brandon with a group of 9 women
(a really wide age range)!!!
and then with large groups of children and an ever-growing group of
private lessons... good for him, it's a lot of work and dedication
what a great job to have while going through college.

one time a couple of summers ago
Brandon was teaching a class and it was my first time seeing him do that
he was so great with the kids! they were all having lots of fun: 15 kids, amazing!
and Brandon's boss needed help with the MU Green Tennis Center's phones
and asked 15-year-old Bryan to answer phones for an hour
and get paid $10 for helping out - cool first "job"!
I felt so proud!
My two boys were running the multi-million dollar MU Tennis Center! WOW!
that was a great hour in my life storybook...
the tennis center was in good hands.
oh, and Brandon has announced on his Facebook front page
that he is "in a relationship"
he is dating a girl on the MU Women's Tennis Team, her name is Mahdi
I am looking forward to meeting her
I am happy for them
I am happy for Bryan...

the other night my two boys were together, Brandon came over for a visit
and they were watching some goofy show, one that they used to watch
when they were much younger
something about searching-out mythical creatures
Gary told me after I came back from a meeting that they were so funny
laughing hard, long and
there is no music more beautiful to me: my laughing children... together

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

art therapy

last evening we had our final Holistic Healing group meeting
for this first session - and we will be marching on

our friend Nancy who is an artist in Columbia as well as one of our
chemo nurses
prepared an art feast for us
it was such a good time

when we walked into the conference room
the tables were all covered to protect surfaces
and there were countless interesting art treasure supplies
placed all over the tables and surrounding tables as well

some ladies brought their own supplies and had specific projects in mind
but my idea was to walk in without a plan without a clue
and to be in a position to just play and enjoy using toys
that my friend brought to use
it freed me up
let me not have control over the project like I am used to having,
working with my own supplies

it was fun watching what others were creating
and I did glimpse a few
my mind was really focused on the white board in front of me...
ended up tearing out a piece of music: "my favorite things"
The Sound of Music spoke to me
and when Nancy asked if I was going to use glitter
I said of course and just sprinkled a little on and it
looked pretty and different than my usual stuff
that's the idea of playing it seemed to me last night

I wished we had more time
we are going to keep going with the group
new topics
perhaps new people
and I want to be part of another group that will be meeting
on Wednesdays in the afternoon
much to learn
hopefully I am able to add something as well

my work situation is in changing mode
a reflection of my client's world as hers changes
tomorrow I meet a gentleman who may become a new client
for me
he sounds like a real character
and all characters are welcomed

I am troubled
trying to understand how communication breaks down
when it seemed like good channels would last forever and ever
what does it mean to lose people in our lives
this side of dying..........

Sunday, March 20, 2011

sun sun sun here it comes... yes!

little darling, it's been a long cold lonely winter
... the ice is slowly melting:
here comes the sun! yippee-skippee

it was so comfy breezy warm out on the deck
having lunch out there for the first time this year
grabbed a magazine, held it firmly to keep it from flying,
and learned a few things like:

how to make the cutest flower decoration thingie
by hot-gluing those marshmallow Easter chickie-peeps to an embroidery hoop
(making a circle, peeps facing inward)
gluing that to a dowel that you have painted a Springy-thingy green
and shoving that into a cutesy little pail or pot with floral foam inside
adding Easter grass around the edges...
I am sure we all needed that as part of a profound learning "experience" (pronounced with a French accent s'il vous plait, merci)

everyday for quite some time now I go online and go to the
Saori weaving sites that I know about
Worcester, Mass
Santa Cruz, CA
and a couple of others
and read over and over the ideas surrounding the weaving
the philosophy
and of course the STORY
of Misao Jo
who is 97 years old and continues to weave in the Saori way
every single day
learning something new
expressing something unique from her nature and loving the process

oftentimes I have referred to living life as a weaving of sorts
the old song of "my life" being a tapestry of rich and royal hues
not sure if those are the correct lyrics but close enough for the moment

in Saori weaving there are no mistakes
that is very attractive to someone who still is a little stuck in that department

there is something very healing in the reading of the process and seeing the galleries with pictures of amazingly individualized weavings together
so expressive of personalities
of moods and seasons of the soul

I love the fact that stories are shared about a 10-year old child
sharing weaving tips with a 60-year old woman
a college professor weaving next to a developmentally challenged person
admiring each others' work, sparking new ideas for both

when I was weaving in the fall at a class here in town
I loved the process yet there were things that I couldn't connect with
warping the darn big loom took forever! and my ideas were a bit
"interesting" "compared" to what others were doing
my stuff looked kind of wacky, not precise with all the numbers
written on papers taped to the looms so you would remember
what on earth you were doing to get those patterns so perfectly aligned

and then my materials were cut up t-shirts, hmmm, and things stuck out
edges were not even because it bored me mostly
and people did say nice things to me
before they went into the other room where they were doing
complex designs

it gave me a headache to look at the perfection and at the same time I
admired their patience
I just did not need one more thing to be complicated or exact or predictable
Misao Jo calls it the difference between what a machine does and adding
our humanity to the piece... that fits in my head and my hands

I am heading out to a friend's home in the country soon
and the sun should still be shining away

here is one grateful person called me

Saturday, March 19, 2011

scratching the surface, peeling away

attending the Holistic Healing meetings / seminars
has been more than "a good experience"
"a good experience" is such a catch-all phrase
and when I find myself hearing reading or saying it,
I either cringe, pause, or ask (myself) another question
as a follow-up
hoping to get something more
beyond the surface scratching
or more like surface skating that it is

a few years ago I was at the tennis courts and was asked
by one of the tennis-Moms:
"Gloria, how are you?"
and I answered somewhere in the vicinity of:
"Well, it has been kind of hard the past couple of weeks
with this chemo, but I am trying... (along those general generics)
and she shot back before I could "whine" much more:
"Great! You should say 'I am GREAT!' whenever anyone asks you how you feel
because that means you are positive and give positive energy out and that will help you heal..."
and I just said right back:
"OK, then. I am great."
inside I thought: yeah, right: a great big liar.
that "(not very good) experience" affected me for a long time, still does apparently
if I write it down now and still wonder...

I understand where she was coming from and I do the positive thing
and go beyond
and think of others who are worse off than I am
and how lucky I am that at least I can get treatment
that I am not dead yet
that I didn't get run over by the proverbial car or truck or bus
that it was me instead of my children
yes, and the list can be much longer than this because of
what I have witnessed firsthand
hugging or smiling with, waving to, someone for the last time
in this life, things like that

I laugh MUCH more than I cry and crying for myself is rare
I see the JOY of LOVING and LIVING more than the dark side

every once in a while when I am asked:
"Gloria. how are you?"
I do answer completely honestly as gently as I can.
with true friends, you can say anything at all...

is it for pity? no
is it for attention? don't need that
is it because I am self-centered? don't think so
is it because I trust you and need to be understood and may need help / support
in that moment? good chance for that

would it be nice to be "great" all the time?
how safe am I to scratch below the surface even in the mirror
in front of myself alone?
is it painful to peel away layers of self-protection and become as
vulnerable as a baby just entering the world outside of Mother?

if I go below the surface scratching and clawing my way inside,
and peel layers down to the core...
what will I find there ultimately:
a seed of potential, still, even at this older stage in life?
am I afraid of changing and/or growing?
is it worth the time effort and risk or should I just
focus on surviving and keeping things as static/stable as possible?

cancer peels you away whether you like it or want it or not
your surface is so scratched and poked and cut, irradiated and pummeled
with little pills that pack mighty wallops
that you have to be in total denial or dead not to recognize that your life/you
have changed enormously
it is an opportunity
not one I wish on any human being,
but a vantage point that others might get a perspective from
should they decide to love us and listen

even if I meet a person who has the seemingly exact diagnosis as I do
has been through the same treatments, etcetera, I will never ever say:
"I know how you feel."
"I know what you are going through."
"I have been there before." another etcetera

on the surface, yes, on some level, but I am talking about
on the pure essential level

I spent a very long time in a kind of limbo
a floating in-between realities state.
all I could do was sleep knit scarves eat a little and go around
on the medical merry-go-round

I am now trying to walk with my two feet on the ground without breaking too many more bones in the process.
at the same time,
I am trying to extend my mind-scope to be as open as I can be to
ETCETERA to all those qualities of life that matter

a pearl starts with a grain of sand that is mega-irritating to that
layer after layer after story after story then finally a pearl

I find the grain of sand to be quite a beautiful little miracle in its own right
when you stop and think about it...

Friday, March 18, 2011

singing in the rain

at my little lady's home today /
her care team expressing lots of concerns
particularly about her overwhelming exhaustion...
when I suggested a nap
she said "after we do the Easter decorations, not now..."

at two of my thrift stores I scored some sweet
Easter decorations and we had fun opening the bag
might as well have been Christmas with all the fuss
and the fact that we now have two trees for her

it struck me that as tired as she was, it was more important
to play
right now
not after a nap
but right now
and she was totally involved with my antics
and details
where to place what is what we decide together

what started as a Charlie Brown Easter tree
turned into a cute little gem
the bigger tree more elegant with a string of "pearls"
(miniature garland)
and light as a feather paper eggs floating amongst her vintage pieces
at a cost of $2.20 (things I brought)
what fun we had with so little

it is the doing
it is the pushing the nap aside
it is being present in the now
making a present to each other out of nothing but laughter really
and realizing the absolute beauty of
sharing even the tiniest moments of being with another being

I was asked yesterday if I really liked my job
if working 20-24 hours a week was maybe too much for me


I love my job even though at times I get very tired
if I could work more hours - at times I do - I would
there is no way to describe how much I gain from being with my elderly folks
and my friends who are staff members and fellow CareGivers
we directly affect people's lives
it is immediate
it is at times simple
repetitive the same stories over and over and over and over...
and I train my mind and ears to hear it anew over and yet again
because in their own fog
it is as fresh as a Spring morning breeze
and I want my return-smile to reflect that

...I was searching for music for her
and found some good ol' movies in a drawer!
Singing in the Rain!
it was a VHS wrapped never opened
so after her long nap she decided it was a good day
for a movie
and I actually got the tech stuff together to make it happen
(my kids would be either shocked and/or impressed)

we laughed and sang the songs we knew
had time for half the movie
the plan is to finish it next time I go over and visit
that will be Monday, many moments from now

we shall see
we shall see

"I'm singing in the rain
I'm singing in the rain
what a glorious feeling I'm happy again..."

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

daffodils out from the snow

this afternoon I went outside and saw that my daffodils
are getting ready to bloom
those flowers came as a gift from my friend Janet
soon after I was diagnosed with cancer

it was a nice thought, I thought, and at the same time
I wondered why she sent me something that made me have to work
I was still hardly getting around very much
the flower bulbs came all the way from Holland
direct to me and I knew she gave these to me for a purpose:

I would have something to look forward to
in a future season
there would be sunny blooms and she was right
I did look forward to them and they bloomed beautifully
(even though I planted them at the very last possible moment)

when my former landlady became completely insane as well as irresponsible
we had to leave even though it was winter and I had to have surgery
right at the same time
one of the moving nights it was so cold and dark
I took a flashlight and plastic buckets and rescued
my daffodil bulbs - as many as I could find!
went back to the new place where we are now and
planted them in the cold dark back yard
what the neighbors must have thought???

last year they bloomed
and today when I went out into the sunshine
buds were forming even after having been buried under tons of snow...
there are still patches of snow around, and then here come the daffodils
determined, strong, mighty, and delicate at the same time

I had made a pile of some broken clay pieces in the garden area
and after moving some mulchy-leaves, discovered that some other
bulbs were pushing their way to the sun, despite my mistake
of putting the clay in the wrong place

carefully, I moved things around so the tender light green leaves
could have the support needed and my apology, too

nature finds a way
that fact helped me find a way today to deal with an issue
a friend was there and helped me move some "clay pieces" out of my way
"rainy day eyes" cleared...

it was fun to brush my fingers through some ornamental grasses
I planted last year - they are still pretty short but longer than my hair
it reminded me of days long ago when I could run my fingers through
long hair on my head!

quotes I want to remember:

I wrote these quotes on the back of an envelope
when a friend spoke them and I grabbed for any paper

"When we know better
we do better." ~Oprah

When a person cannot grasp the matter
be still
and the matter will grasp him. ~Buddhist saying

trading off

what I hoped for yesterday:
attending the Holistic class on Tai Chi
I just couldn't get it together to go
too tired to drive safely
it was a long intense day at work

my little lady is slipping away
how do you describe getting closer to dying...
caring for her is getting more and more demanding
and at the same time more meaningful
when we do fun things like creating an
Easter Egg Tree
from "found objects" in her basement

all of her physical challenges - she takes them
one at a time and with good humor
and a very healthy dose of total memory loss
at very convenient times for her

it might serve me well at times to remember to forget

being off chemo has its definite advantages
and I want to stay off as long as I can
it is hard for me to understand how this little
tiny white pill that I take once a day
can "substitute" for chemo treatment or "hold off" cancer
in the meantime
how can that itsy bitsy pill also make me so
"fatigued" that I want to hide in bed every chance I have

I read the side effects of what I take sometimes
and it reminds me of those med-commercials
with the lovely butterflies, sunny scenes,
dance-able music and dire warnings all wrapped up
in a marketing package
that makes you sleepwalk into your doctor's office
with glazed over eyes
begging for meds that could kill you
right after you have the time or sleep of your life

after reading my potential side effects
I tend to erase the negative aspects and replace them with
my good ol' standby:
"The best side effect is BEING ALIVE, thank you very much."

so there is always a series of trade-offs
exhaustion rather than fog
being the the choice de jour
I am grateful either way

I have the energy to do so many things
even though I did miss the class I wanted to attend last evening
after work, I organized my time to coordinate with
Bryan's pick-up time (sketchy now with crutches in the picture)

at one of my thrift stores
I found this book titled: The Power of Mother Love
flipping around taking a few words in here and there
I settled in on the Dedication page:

To little Austin,
my first grandbaby,
whose birth has brought me great joy
and strengthened my resolve to defeat cancer.
Truly, the timing of your birth was part of God's design.

that made me smile
and head to the counter to gladly pay $.50 for
this hardcover gem...

Monday, March 14, 2011

where is Spring?

snow-covered once again
I feel so cold and tired today
wondering when relief will come...
and then my thoughts go across the ocean to Japan
and my complaint becomes silent

just before the earthquake and tsunami
I received an email from a lovely woman
in Japan
she was answering a question I had asked
regarding the Saori loom that I recently came across
on the internet, completely by chance
there are things that I have been learning
just by reading about the history of
this kind of weaving and the philosophy of it as well
it resonates with such a deep part of me

I am going to respond to Ms. Jo this evening
she lived in Columbia for one year as a student
here at this campus of the University of Missouri
I hope she and her family and friends are safe...
I am sad her nation-community is suffering so much

when I went to Japan many years ago,
it made such a deep impression on me
I would very much like to return especially to study
Saori weaving from the woman who started it
and she is very old and very strong
weaving every day
there is an aspect of healing meditation in her process
I want to know that in my life

going to Japan
buying a loom that costs way more than I can afford
why do I even think of these things?
because I will always be a dreamer

at our journaling Holistic Healing seminar the other day
one of the exercises was to write a 10-point Wish List
I enjoyed that exercise
any day that I decided to write that list
it would have some similar and same elements
and then again
re-thought and new ones I am sure

what today is an inspired exciting wish
tomorrow I may not even remember
or the day after tomorrow I may
absolutely see as natural and needed as fresh air...

I hear the splashing of slushy snow outside my window
it is good to be warm with quiet thoughts

Sunday, March 13, 2011

on crutches

Bryan is on crutches
finding out that he did not have broken bones
was of course good news
made for a crazy day to find that out on Friday

slamming your feet on tennis courts
has consequences
it is so hard for me to see my kids
get hurt,
wishing I could just take it away
take it myself

the first thought I had when I heard
I had cancer:
thank god it is me and not my kids...
and I have mentally over the years had these thoughts
that border on deal-making-with-the-Highest-Powers-That-Be:

"OK, I have cancer, and I will deal with it as best I can.
If I promise to be good about it,
no whining,
as little cursing as possible,
doing my absolute best and all that good-girl-stuff,
will You please make sure my kids
do not have to deal with this, please, PLEASE?..."

I may speak lightly about this in the moment,
but there have been truly very dark times
when this type of thinking was desperate pleas,
and tears in the night into a pillow
soaked with pain and dread

there are seasons outside and in.
there is panic and there is peace.
there is bracing for results from
Brandon's recent MRI
and Bryan's x-rays
my scans
and there has been relief
shared by all of us for all of us.

last night Bryan and I went to see Bye, Bye Birdie
at his High School
he had friends in the production and friends to sit with

I loved it when his friends gathered around him
to sit and see how he was doing,
teasing him for not having his crutches
(he did not want to draw attention to himself
when all attention should go to the actors)
they were all sitting behind us

Bryan did not want me to sit alone
I wanted him to be free to be with his buddies
so I found another seat
and had a lovely time watching them at a distance
enjoying being together
seeing their friends on stage
and giving them the standing ovation the whole
cast and crew deserved

What a great time we all had!

speaking of crutches and leaning on them...

I realized something on Saturday when I attended
the Holistic Healing Group on the topic of: Journaling
it has happened each time I attend one of the meetings,
no matter the topic of the evening or day:

I get very very serious and things hit me emotionally
in ways that surprise me at times:
I am not in my usual find-the-sunny-side-of-life mode
I let down my guard perhaps
I am not in performance-for-the-sake-of-others mindset
perhaps it is my safe place to let the more intense aspects
be revealed
I get teary-eyed listening to others speak
and share their stories
when I decide to speak, my voice sounds low to me,
not meant for dramatic effect at all,
just the sound that comes out when I open my mouth
in a room filled with warrior-women I admire and respect
what I want to say sometimes gets stuck in my chemo-head
at other times is so clear I see crystal wrapping a phrase

at other times, a veil of waterfalling eyes
with words struggling to know the next one to put in place
to give to the discussion
to add to the community of learning
to just let something out of my soul so that I can feel a relief
just for having said whatever it is, out loud

journaling... so many forms
connecting... so many expressions
loving... infinite possibilities
living... in this moment, as totally as I can

on crutches, Bryan will be able to use elevators in school for a few days
healing by lifting off the pressure...

when I need to lean on my friends,
they are so there for me, literally lifting me up.
I pray that I may equally be there for them.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

note on timing:

the last post was written late Wednesday evening
but my laptop battery was used up
so I thought I lost it

good news:
when I woke up unable to sleep,
found it had been saved
so the date / timing is off,
story here for the sharing

this laptop-life is new to me

strange day for a picnic

seemed like a regular day
went to work to take care of my client

pulling the details in:
my little lady fell
and I went down with her,
able to cushion her fall
but I got hurt in the process

my right eye smashed into the handle
of her walker
as we went down and the pain was very bad.
I was very sure she was alright
on the floor next to me
I grabbed my eye once I settled her
and prayed I could see

it was amazing that I could
I was overwhelmed with gratitude
[sight, our lovely eyes are a gift beyond measure]
traumatized and with with adrenalin pumping me
to the extreme, the rush of thoughts lined up, enabling me
to take action in seconds that seemed like a long long time

gently able to help her to a sitting position
fluffed up with pillows
made a quick emergency call for help
that arrived in minutes

ice pack for me
and since it had turned into breakfast time
I looked around the room for a
very low table
ah ha! a picnic basket that I use for
craft supplies
looked perfect

my little lady on the floor
felt so bad that I was hurt
so I shifted the focus
to a Spring Picnic on the Living Room Floor:

no matter what - turn the story into
a better memory than it started out to be...

there have been meetings already to make changes
and adjustments for her
and learning on my part
tears came naturally, and I was told many times
by very excellent and professional persons,
people I am honored to work for and with,
that I did the best anyone could have done for her.
I appreciated those words, knowing that they would
most likely not have added my personal injury
to the story, more able with experience to "see"
the bigger environmental picture.

it was an accident
my eye is okay, pain subsiding, and strangely enough
looks like purple eye shadow: a stylish black eye?
the "incident" has been documented
paperwork done
if I need to go to a doctor I will

I was very shaken
lots of good people took care of us
and I insisted on staying for the remainder
of my shift - every scenario under the sun
was offered to me, and I wanted to stay

I was very tired and did go home a bit earlier
from the office part of my work day
and last night we had our Holistic Group
the topic was tough for me
but I had committed to attending all sessions
so I went
even though I might have used an "excuse"

I am glad that I went because of the women
in the group more than the speaker and topic
afterwords, made sure I got back in time to take Bryan
he met with his Tae Kwon Do teacher
and that was another special time for me, too

we have made a family there with the teachers
parents and students over the years
Bryan is close to his black belt
had to take a break for reasons
more complicated than I want to write about now
so it was excellent to make the connection
last night

quite a long day it was

today was treatment day
blood tests looked very good for
being off chemo for one month now

month by month
day by day
and then moments
sometimes laughing
on the floor
wounded, wound up,
sharing mutual apologies
of course

and a lot of learning all the way around

Sunday, March 6, 2011

4 forks in the cheesecake

this evening we all met at Olive Garden
to celebrate my chemo break and also
Bryan's excellent score on his 1st ACT

we shared a booth
and that was cozy and a nice way
to say way-to-go

I suggested a margarita (sp?) and let that go
it was just fun to joke about it
I chose the meal with perhaps the lowest
caloric destructiveness
so of course I went for the most outrageous
I have had a craving for cheesecake for
a way long long time
so I caved
and asked for 4 forks

the guys all helped me out
graci (I do want to learn Italian someday)
but I did make the major dent
and it was fabuloso
and I feel zero guilt
just lucious satisfaction

we talked about many different things
including weird and strange dreams we've had
there was teasing - of course -
what kind of gathering would it be without
and laughing

earlier today chipped away more
in my studio-in-the-becoming
and it is coming along
it is less of a stress in my thinking
I want it to be a flowing process
rather than a gritty one
if that makes any sense

donated one of my sewing machines
the one I have used for beaucoup years
and unwrapped a wonderful one that was given
to me by my friend Portia in Santa Fe
many years ago - it is super
and I set it up and used it to sew
a card
for her

the thread in the bobbin was hers
the top thread I put in
and the combo looks terrific

I opened up a kraft paper envelope
and sewed on that
resealed with glue
sewed on a piece of paper to kraft cardstock
that I had made a rubbing on
from an old wooden fabric "stamp" from India
(my sweet client has it on her wall - I took it
down so we could make this rubbing together)
it feels good to put things in play
my art tools & toys & my imagination

a good weekend with lots of good rest
some projects set in motion
some good reads in books and mags
and a fork that could not wait to dive into
that cheesecake
and head straight back to my face!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

when we talk to ourselves

the Tuesday evening Holistic Healing meetings
that I attend are just the best
I am loving the attendees
the speakers
the content
and using what we are learning
and continuing on

so far: meditation, aromatherapy, nutrition,
and more to come
the session on "journaling"
which the Blizzard of 2011 temporarily
wiped off the map
has been rescheduled for next Saturday morning
a three hour session
rather than the one hour in the evening
and that is excellent

blogging will be included as a journaling tool
and I know I will learn new things
as I do every session
every day for that matter

one thing I wanted to expand upon
after the post about
identity and losing one's hair, etc.

some of the women in our Holistic group
are bald
some sporting sharp looking wigs
others shining naturally

we share about lots of things
being together
and I like the fact that we have the first
30 minutes for open time
just to be together

my goal for this new year:
to learn from every person I meet
every day
every time
we cross paths for a moment in time
it may be extended, perhaps not,
yet in the brief time we have
even a laugh or a look may be a gift
a few words
a way of seeing things, a twist on an idea
that I never saw before...
I am the eternal student

and if something I have learned may be of
ah that makes me so happy

a woman in our group was preparing to face
for the first time
it was during our meditation session
and I shared a few words that were sent in her direction
if she received it, that was good
it was also good for me to remember
my experience of 35 times going into the
radiation "room"
secured with walls 8-feet thick
I walked in alone each time

and the door was shut
with me inside

my thoughts were what I had with me
I decided from the get-go
that I would use the time as a kind of
healing meditation
saying over and over like my own simple mantra:

I welcome the healing light...
variations of those simple words over and over

focusing my attention on exactly where
the radiation was targeted
and doing my best to embrace
what I chose to do...

at one point in this process,
as beat up as I looked and felt,
I saw my body
in a whole new light
and out loud I said:

thank you, my body, for working so so hard.

at that moment, I felt so moved and there was such
a love and gratitude, a self-respect
that I had never known before
I want to live, my mind is so clear on that point
in the middle of the foggy mist whirling in my brain.

when I share about past events concerning my cancer-life,
I do hope it is not depressing or with a sense of
looking back and living there.
if you know someone else with cancer
this may be helpful to know another person's reflections /
each person steps to their own tune
my tune is softer now

I danced at my client's home yesterday!
Tony Bennett tunes they were, on her Bose
it was solo
until my friend showed up and we danced together!
it made my little 93-year old lady laugh
and isn't that a nice little gift
we gave each other?

Friday, March 4, 2011

hair to cut

when it drives me crazy
zippy zip it gets the scissors


when I used to have a bunch of it
that was a very long time ago
long long hair
it was maybe the only physical aspect
of myself that I thought was
rather cool

it became peppery and then snowy
and came to the point of
existing no more

when I asked Bryan who was then 14
to help me cut it all off
since it was coming out in hand-fulls
the red plastic dishpan
was on the bedroom floor

without permission
I grabbed Gary's electric shaver
(my quadruple blade razor was highly ineffective
let alone lethal)
bent down over the dishpan
and Bryan asked me if I was ready...

this was about two years ago.
was I ready?
go ahead, just do it
and I watched a snowfall before
my eyes

and then it was all gone
off my head

I lifted my eyes to see
my sweet little son
gentle and smiling

it was such a totally vulnerable moment
to share...

that was how I entered my bald-phase

eventually curly frizzy-cool stuff
came in, over time straightened out
and started to look normal again
whatever normal means

yesterday I went for a haircut
a bit sensitive in the feeling department
since in my estimation
my hair has been thinning since the new
treatment - a side effect is thinning hair
and usually I enter the realm of lower percentages

only my hairdresser knows for sure
remember that?
anyway, Melissa said that my hair only
felt thinner because it was longer
and parting from weight
(as weighty as wisps might be)
and that put me in a very good mood

soooooo, after she finished with her scissors
I let her put this weird stuff by Bed Head
called "manipulator"
and it was the craziest stuff:
silly putty meets alien goo
and I told her to make my hair spiky
and just do whatever she thought was kooky

I had some hair to cut
there was some on my head
and there was some on the floor
enough to warrant a broom sweeping

over these years
my whole identity as a physical human woman being
has been ripped apart
to the point of near extinction

it is disconcerting when running into
someone I know
who does not know me
that has happened many times

the strangest is when I run into
in a mirror (or a photo)
and don't know who it is
one time it was an extreme experience
it was at the mall
those reflective surfaces as you walk along
I caught a glimpse of someone
it was me
and I did a double-take
stepped back
stood there
and figured out that it had to be me
a little slow on the uptake
but finally focused in

yes, I can laugh about these episodes
and that is my usual tactic
staying away from cameras
and using only night-lights around mirrors
are other tactics
not easy to see a self-photo
that you do not recognize
or want to recognize

what happened to her?
her face fell off the planet
no eyelashes (that's happened again this time)
no eyebrows (nearly gone now)
kind of fat (I asked Bryan if I am fat:
"You are not fat, Mom. Maybe a little "plumpy"
that's all...")
I love the word "plumpy"!
but not the reality, so I am shedding some
plumpy poundage during this chemo break

what I am rambling away about:
there are times when I don't know
who on earth I am.
when I see that as an
open door
to experimenting
that is when I am healthiest
in my thinking & total beinghood

I am going to go out and buy a jar
of Bed Head Manipulator

if people do not recognize me
no wonder there!
I just might go ahead and
re-introduce myself
after all it is my 2nd life

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

my Mom's card

in the mail, a card came from my Mom
the artwork on the face of the card
is gentle and sweet
the artist: Kelly Rae Roberts / Portland, Oregon
Trader Joe's cards...gee, I wish we had
a Trader Joe's here, boohoo

the words on the card:

tell your story
believe in healing
honor your intuition
take the journey back to your self
wear more skirts (this one made Bryan smile!)
begin today
embrace vulnerability
do the thing you didn't think you could
quiet the inner critic

Ma, I am glad to know that you are
enjoying reading this blog