Thursday, April 21, 2011

nail the story

in the afternoon yesterday three of us met for Expressive Art Therapy
Emily is our therapist / friend
and she guides us into the new territory of the day
two of our friends were not able to attend and it is of course
and we miss them at the same time
it was hard for me to fathom that we have only
been together
for three sessions aka gatherings in my way

in the center of the table
a box of oil "pastel" sticks (?)
I had never used them
we received three pieces of paper for our art
one sheet of paper for writing

our focus:
- mind/intellect
- heart/emotions
- and the combination

letting go and playing around with the concepts representationally
is a release
getting my fingers messy while blending colors feels
to the ideas

as we are making out impressions on paper
thinking a little
feeling a little
we are speaking first to ourselves
and then with each other
I find that my voice is altered there in that room
especially once the door is closed
and we open up

I can share why I put on nail polish for the first time
in my life
it was the way I did my homework from the last gathering
when I knew I needed to focus on self-acceptance

for most of these past years my hands have been
directly affected by the meds I take
talking about it is difficult because I found that I hide
certain parts of having cancer that make me uncomfortable
or insecure
having my nails crumble away
scrunching in pain when the rough edges snagged on fabric
how that affected the way I did laundry with cotton gloves on
the fabrics that I liked to wear or the ones that hurt
if I want to hug someone I have become very aware
of being careful not to snag and damage their clothing
so I am extrememly careful

when I look for my treasures in thrift stores
careful once again

I have used countless bandaids to protect my fingers
swollen fingers
reddened visibly was another period of over a year
that overlapped with the stubby cracks of poor excuses
for finger and toe nails...

I am not whining
I am reminiscing...

I bought a nail strengthener when I started on this
chemo vacation that is about three months old now
it seemed like an opportunity to try something new
sure enough, good timing
ever so slowly, nails were trying to grow
the rough edges were driving me crazy and I filed them
oh it sounds crazy to me to be writing about nails
yet it is the little things that represent bigger issues, perhaps...

anyway, in the past week, I tried two different color ways of nail polish
it helps even though the nails are nubby and bumpy
they are smoother and do not catch - yippee!

I find that I am not activley hiding my hands this week
it is a little step in accepting
my self

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


maybe there is such a thing as too much
opening up
at the same time
some times...

on Monday evenings we have our Book Club meeting
and bless all of our loving hearts
we definitely share on personal levels
and that makes it the best way to explore
a book
in between and all the pages
turned upside down and inside out
and it makes our books pop open in 3-D
real life
this is good stuff, it is raw stuff at times
and it tears pages from the book of experience
throws them in the fire
and makes us THINK about what do I do now
then read the pages coming up

on Tuesdays we have Holistic Healing group meetings
and there we learn seemingly endless ways
to aid our healing process
and it all opens my mind to my age old desire
to experiment and try it all
last night it was acupuncture
then there was energy healing therapy
and all the new age natural age what was meant to be
part of a rhythm (I can't spell that word!) of living

Wednesday afternoons we have Expressive Art Therapy
and it is a small group
and our cancer types bring us together
one might call us "terminals" or "late stagers"
one might not want to be around us when we bring up
topics like shopping for good deals on cremation packages...
we do such significant work on ourselves
like last week focusing on identifying our strengths
as well as looking at what we need to strengthen
in my case it was "self acceptance" for starters and I am not even sure
what I meant by targeting that on the list

emoting is healthy
yet it has its dis-benefits such as a feeling
of being over-exposed
and sensitive
a bit afraid of being way too honest at an inappropriate
a kind of

it is tiring to be on guard
it is liberating to learn
finding the balance is one of those learning things

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

expressive arts therapy

on Wednesday afternoons we gather in a small conference room
off the chemo room
around the table:
4 of us with advanced cancer plus our therapist friend Emily
this is our second meeting
funny, it feels like we have been together for a very long time
maybe it is our 3rd meeting at least?

Emily brought a huge amout of wonderful scrapbooking papers
an array of Sharpies, scissors and gluesticks
and a guided plan that integrates our minds and hands
as we find our voices for issues we all face

this time we worked with our strengths and created
a pathway
with cut out "stepping stones"
it is a balance between living and being aware of our process
I look forward to these meetings and want to see everyone there
my friend S. came late, running around with and for her son
it was so great to see her walk through the door

my cell phone made its audible appearance and to my surprise
Bryan was in Jefferson City, on his way home from Springfield
an overnight tournament experience
I thought he would be coming home in the evening
so I scrambled trying to connect with Gary to pick him up
but it ended up that I had to leave the meeting
talk about being torn!

hit the road, got my boy, loved seeing him back,
loved him in words as much as I could in a short drive
and listening to his stories,
got him home, made sure the inside door was unlocked
and sprinted back to the group,
even if just to listen to it wrap up...
the connections are very deep
I did not want to miss a word
an interchange,
the simple basic direct artwork that is expressing parts of our journeys

we went past the designated time
and I appreciated all that was shared amongst us

I need these sisters of mine
chosen family
not because of pain
rather because of hope
and tenacity
and peace...

D's beautiful gorgeous sparkly big blingy ring
I knew it had a story to it and asked her if she would be willing to
share the story
it belongs to her older sister
in her family, they sometimes exchange jewelry
to be connected
when D looks at her ring, her sister is close
I like that a lot
it shines, with intense blue sky "clarity"
D's significant word for the day

Sunday, April 10, 2011

in their light

one of the big tournment days of the season
two schools come from St. Louis and Bryan's team
they meet on the courts
here in Columbia
and duel-it-out

there are so many dimensions of what takes place
so many personal memories flood back
so much I would not choose to miss by blinking even for a second
the sun shone its light and reddened the white ones amongst us
the spotlight caught so much heart being played out
armed with courage
a racket
and this ferocious commitment to play their best
with and for each other
the dignity of it all

I found myself overwhelmed watching them
fight through
win some lose some
win more than they even realize
at times when a loss feels so oppressive

their smiles laughter pain when injured
their caring for their friends - how they did, but more importantly:
how they are
right there in the sweat and heat of it all
with ice on one Daniel's ankle
with amazement at the endurance of the other Daniel's epic match
that ended with a very close loss
but the gain of respect that won him so much

I witnessed compassion and togetherness
rising to the occasion and selfless thinking
that was as mature as a perfect blossom
as sweet as the perfect fruit
and as strong as a force of nature
the kind of naturalness as the coming of Spring after seemingly
endless winter

the parents were so THERE for all of our (no longer boys) (young) men
we will clean the courts for them
clean out the shed, sweep away mouse "deposits"
make sure they have the food water ice rest pillow sunblock applied
and be there as completely in the moment as we can be

and then (hopefully) step back enough
to let them

we all carry countless stories silently inside as we gather and share
listen applaud and most importantly watch our men play their points
back and forth
a little fuzzy ball being played
back and forth
in the air
smashed to the ground
skimming the net
over the fence
that certain elegance of a beautiful point
the agony of losing it
that weird sensation when you shank it out into the universe
one moment in suspended embarrassment to turn that around
in lightning speed the next
the joy of grabbing it out of the air
and wailing at it
the intense relief of avoiding it when it is wailed at you
using your racket with skill
ratcheting up that level every time you put yourself out there
using every part of your mind and body
putting it all into serious effort that goes beyond "play"
and enters the arena of growth...

my favorite scene is the beauty of being "in this together"
it happens in doubles play
it happens when you look across to the next court and care
so deeply for your teammate and say words of enouragement
meant for that one person
and rippling to all who are privileged to hear
to be part of an intimate moment
played out on the open court of life

when you get word that shoots around the courts like a grass fire
that one of your team mates is injured
that one has won
that the team has just secured the big win
or your score will tip the balance
if the news in that wildfire is that the team has suffered defeat
do you find it in your disappointed tired self to keep giving it
everything you have left
and when you are able to accomplish that
does the self-respect and cheers of your fellow players
hearten you?...

the thrill of sweat rolling off your tired body
finding within yourself the will to keep going
the strength to toss that ball up over your head one more time
to feel as if your arms and legs are going to become detached from you
all rubbery or tense or red or cramped or in pain exhausted
and then you rise to the occasion in loyalty to your
gaining strength from their collective internal desire
that goes lightyears beyond simply endurance
or personal glory

to learn from observation is not to touch their level of excellence
yet it is to be honored
to call them
our children
on this glorious road becoming

great human beings
being human
in all its magnificence
in all its gentleness
in all its lovely loving loveliness
smiling through grimacing

making the sunshine dim
when one gazes upon
the light

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

on the courts again

yesterday Bryan was on the tennis courts
yippee I say!
his foot had the time to heal over spring break
a necessary down time
and so it was such a joy to see him playing
he really has this exuberance that he brings to the game
and to his team - they were so happy to have him back
and were more than happy to let me know too
I love the tennis team
"Thank you, Mrs. Page, for bringing the snacks for us."
"Mrs. Page, thanks a lot for cleaning up the courts for us."

"happy to help out..."

happy that I can help out
it does make a difference to be off of chemo
at times like that, it reminds me...

of the time I messed up my ribs because I leaned over a fence
to get some trash
and ended up in a lot of pain over such a small event

I used to be the court cleaner before all home matches
and that was suspended

Bryan had some funny events such as his description aka great story
of how his shoe came off during a point
and he just kept on playing it out and won the point!
I didn't see it happen, I had gotten too cold and had to retreat to the car
but his storytelling made it so real!
he truly lives every single point

ok, time to fill his water bottle before heading out to school
for another day on the courts later
a bird is chirping ourside... meant to write outside!

Monday, April 4, 2011

the border of rage

tomorrow one of my dear friends (from many years ago) will be
going into surgery for breast cancer
she found out several weeks ago
I found out from her about 10 days ago
my boss graciously gave me the day off
so I can be there if needed
her daughter can call if she would like me
to sit with her or help in any way

on last Friday I went for a meeting at Missouri cancer center
and saw another friend (we met during the Holistic Gatherings)
and she was there for treatment
we smiled at each other as she was getting her vitals taken
and I went to the chemo room to spend a little time
with her
if she would like company

she was tucked into a corner nesting and there was
a woman sitting next to her who radiated this powerful
loving energy
my friend's Mom
well, we met and it was like I had known both of them
Mom teased me about being "famous" and that always makes
me squirm
but this time it was just fun and I threw it back at her
when I realized she was a "bigshot" artist in town
and beyond
so we had this laughing thing going
as I noticed how tired
her daughter, my new friend, looked

it is a recognizable look
we can try to hide it behind laughter and hope and
fighting spirit
then it shows
in a passing glance
the way her eyes blink slowly
or gaze up at the bag with fluids going into her body

I wrapped her in another warm blanket
she showed me a powerful healing necklace she was wearing
and told the story of how she came to have it
her son - when she said "my son" I saw that familiar
light shine
in her eyes

I asked her to do a "rubbing" of the Chinese characters
on the surface of the necklace
she will give me the rubbings tomorrow evening
and I will send them to my friend Stephanie in California
and asked her for a translation if possible

the three women dynamos in the chemo room
said a few words here and there that exposed a vulnerability
we let pass through our lips, moments and times of pain,
for example when (her) Mom lost her desire for creating art
and blocked it out for a long time after her daughter's
original diagnosis of cancer 8 years ago
our mutual art friend chemo nurse Nancy helped her
surface her art again
and we realized how intertwined all of our stories truly are...

then I had to leave the chemo room
for my next meeting
after hugs

I walked solidly
almost pounding, yes pounding, the ground under my feet
somewhat like the way I am smashing the keys on this computer
as I write & notice the similarity

as I made my way toward the car in the parking lot
there was this overwhelming feeling forming from the core of me
a rage, a desire to scream at the top of my lungs:
"WHY all these lovely people?"
countless faces rushed through my mind
my "cancer family" the connections that sometimes are stronger
than physical family bonds

I knew the rage if nurtured would be useless and damaging to me and that
the energy
must be redirected even before opening the car door
I let the scream happen inside
and then let it go

turn on the ignition
engage the gear in reverse

Saturday, April 2, 2011

trois dias

three days???
Franish or Sprench
I was sitting outside this morning wrapped in a serape style blanket
from Mexico playing with words in my head
for day-of-the-serape
maybe dia del serape getting all wrapped up physically
and figuratively
playing with words as I have done forever and ever
reflecting on the last three days...

did I just remember the french word for day?
it is jour, right? I sat in the sun and the synapses of memory were not clicking
then snap into places far and near

tres jours tres dias trois jours
latin and greek? then I need dictionaries

I am now 57 counting in 1st life years
and there have been 5 of these physical birthdays since my 2nd life began

it was a great birthday, best ever
Gary and Brandon and Bryan
thank you for surrounding me with so many expressions of heart
the ocean and bird candles
flowers cards with loving words lovely flowers
and all that food!!!

heart-gifts and cards from friends and family
party at work scrumptious lunch with my "boss"
laughing time with my little lady client
so many thoughts and moments woven together

yesterday we - Brandon Bryan and I - visited my friend Carolyn
and picked up the box she made for Bryan
and Brandon designed his box with her
we will return to ride horses
it felt so good to be in the country
to watch her nail on the pewter medallion that has a sketch of
the Boone County Barn built in 1896 from which she selected the wood
for Bryan's box...
Brandon's box will be made of lighter wood from a different part of the same barn
another unique custom made treasure box

I feel this deep sense of gratitude
thinking about the last three days
going back more culminating today
in this moment moving forward