It’s time to emerge. Emerge and embrace where I am and what’s next. It’s certainly not what I planned but I think it’s something we all think about – How will I react sitting in a doctor’s office getting bad news? The dreaded news that your life is about to change. I realize now I’ve been wandering through life with the ignorance of a teenager who thinks or at least lives as if they’re immortal. Turns out that, well, WTF! I’m not!
I survived Meningitis as a baby and a brain tumor and surgery as an adult. Luck? Who really knows? It’s a silly question really. Luck is just a trick we play on ourselves when we don’t have practical answers.
This time, last year I went on a meditation retreat at the Omega Institute with Jeff Warren, he’s awesome by the way, check him out. It was amazing. I had never gone that deep for so long as we did. Over 100 people in a room, not to mention virtually, sharing space and energy. I absolutely thought more than once I’d fall asleep, but I didn’t. I stayed present, I was awake. Awake to myself, to commitment and belief that this was meaningful. Oh, and I had one of the best massages in my life, I get them fairly regularly – so that’s saying something. I will say there is something to be said about a masseuse who’s also an energy healer – but I digress, maybe another time.
After the retreat later that week, I started to feel off. I thought, wow, I went deep and brought up all the shit deeply embedded, and I was realizing it. Two weeks later I was still sick and now on day four of fevers, I went to urgent care, nothing. Went to my doctor; nothing. Test after test, then specialists: hematologist, infectious disease, rheumatologist, nephrologist – Check – check – check. Finally, the hematologist looks at me and says, well, something’s not right there’s a reason you don’t feel well. My blood numbers were off the charts. We clung to his words – I really don’t see this coming back as cancer. He was certain it was some autoimmune issue, and it didn’t take much to convince me to do a bone marrow biopsy when he said it was the most efficient way to find what was wrong.
After three months of tests, specialists, daily fevers, no sleep etcetera, he was right. I was sitting on the couch, two friends over, it was recommended I not be alone in case I fainted. I was severely anemic. We were sitting chatting and I got a call (I’d begun to answer numbers I didn’t know since all of this had happened).
It was my hematologist, very excited –
We got it, we know what it is, it’s Multiple Myeloma! I’ve called my colleague at the Myeloma Center, he runs it, and he knew what it was immediately. He’d absolutely seen it before. Here’s his number, he’s expecting your call. This is great news, this is treatable.
Great? Ah, thanks. I hung up, my friends only hearing mm-hmms and okays then taking notes. I look at them both and say – umm… It seems I have cancer. Multiple Myeloma, blood cancer. Now, I have feared blood cancer for years (ask my therapist), always afraid my good health had a hijacker. I had all these questions for years getting things checked because of a pain or a strange shift I felt in my body. Everything is normal, every time. I’d think – well, what can’t they see? I know my body, something is off.
It is a specialized illness and I clung to the doctor’s words, “it’s treatable”. I used them hard, and so did my husband, over and over.
I started treatment Immediately was out of work for six months and went on an educational trip through the internet trying desperately not to Google generally. Because yes, it is treatable, but for how long? Turns out this is a cancer that, though rare, is the second most common blood cancer in the world. Who knew? I’d never heard of it. In the past five years so many treatments have come to fruition -but – there is no cure, and it is guaranteed to come back. This is a lifelong, chronic illness, a ticking time bomb that I now must learn how to live with. That teenage immortality has been eaten away by vicious plasma cells invading my bones. I’ve learned a lot, I joined a support group, I’m taking a writing class, and I’m working on getting back to coaching after this lovely relaxing hiatus. Seriously!?!
This is honestly something that could kill me much sooner than my plan in life. It is also something that holds hope. I can live a good and long life. I’ve often felt when others have struggled or suffered, why me? Why am I OK? What did I do to deserve so much, and they not? Such fucking stupid questions! Sadly, it has nothing to do with what we do or who we are. This is simply the TRUTH – life is hard.
So – here is my new question and how I plan to see things as I move forward…
Why not me?
Why should I not be healthy – lucky – fortunate?
I can and should survive. I can and will be fortunate. I will live my life fully and for a long period because why the fuck not me? I’m young. I’m strong. I’m determined. I’m terrified, but come on, who isn’t? We’re all afraid. But it’s no reason to give up. It’s exactly the reason to get up and take that next step.
I am alive and I am grateful. Whatever your situation, I ask the same for you. We all deserve the best, so let’s work to make the best of the things out of our control while bringing joy to all the things in our lives that we can.
So now, I send YOU love and healing for whatever you might be going through.
How have you helped yourself through difficult times?
What is a song you play that makes everything better even for just a few minutes?
What is it about that song?
What do you do for comfort when you’re afraid?
Please share if you’re called to or know someone this could support.
Love to all.
Namastè & Pura Vida my friends!
Working on my view;
sorting through the fear,
walking on the ledge.
THE WHO AM I PROJECT? Finding myself through the layers of my own baggage, bullshit and fear
Take 2 – The Foundation
A good foundation
Supports who we are inside
To build and sustain.
So as I dive in this month I realize I need to set the foundation for what is I am planning over this coming year. Truly it is about intention. What is my intention with writing this book and these blog posts? What is my intention for the year to help fully guide me through month to month?
I will say I have five intentions for the year that I will work to breakdown for myself in doable chunks each month. Every task I do and choice I make must serve these intentions.
Here they are:
• To discover, accept, live and speak my truth
• To know, embrace, nurture and love who I am as I am
• To be vulnerable and compassionate, live openly and fully, and take chances wholeheartedly
• To learn how to truly listen and be present in each moment
• To trust myself, to release control, to just do
I am truly curious how I’ll accomplish this, but I think that is part of the fun; the excavation and the discovery. The minute I make this post, I am allowing myself to work through my ideas and thoughts “openly”, I am “trusting” myself and being “vulnerable”. The interesting thing is that as much as that excites me, it makes me extremely uncomfortable. Pushing through this discomfort however I believe is what will help answer my ultimate question, Who Am I? Which will lead me to my finding my purpose.
Do you have any intentions that you live by? If so what are they and what are the things you do to ensure you stay on point? I’d love to hear.
To those of you who read this blog, thank you for the encouragement (you know who you are). I’ve been putting off posting this for almost a month. It was the kick in the ass I needed!
THE WHO AM I PROJECT? Finding myself through the layers of my own baggage, bullshit and fear
Something of a Prologue
Today I begin
a challenge beyond my brain;
one to reach my soul.
From the beginning I am asking that this be a dialogue. So please follow the blog from the site directly and not just Facebook or Twitter (comments on those sites don’t translate for a blog). I suggest setting the notifications to once a week. I want this to be a shared journey and not just me yacking at me (I already do that).
I did it – I made my “ASK” (thank you Amanda Palmer, The Art of Asking). That was my first big risk on this journey, the second is this post! Please post comments and ask questions, I would love this kind of communication and sharing. And lastly if you see a post that means something to you, share it (anywhere and everywhere).
So here it goes. I am making a declaration. I am going to commit one year to self-exploration and writing a book documenting my journey. I have been thinking about this for quite a while and after reading THE HAPPINESS PROJECT by Gretchen Rubin I see it is time to do something different. I know this certainly is not a new thing, but I am inspired by the idea of a yearlong dedication and research of and to one’s self. I started my journey in March without realizing it. I had challenged myself to commit to 3 things for 3 months. Honestly, I was not sure I could do it. The reality is that with a few glitches here and there, I was successful…until the discovery of a brain tumor that is. I admit my priorities and commitments moved elsewhere for a bit but here I am back on track.
I ask myself: How am I going to do this? What is my end goal? Do I take it on all at once or do a month by month thing? How do I assess myself as I go? Is it a “Happiness Project” or something else? I had all these questions. I am not a psychologist or a researcher. I am not a doctor or a professional writer. But, I am ready to share my voice, to commit. I love the idea of dedicating a year to self. So what the hell….I will give it a shot.
The expedition I am embarking on is one of truth and self-discovery. For years I have been fighting myself in so many aspects of my life with no idea why. I have taken classes, read books and seen a shrink. All of this work has helped. I now realize the wall I keep hitting is me. Over and over, as I start to move forward believing I am on the right path that voice in my head steps in and says; are you sure? Is that what you really want? Maybe you’re just on the bandwagon again.
So, in spite of the doubt and questions I commit one year to writing a book for me. I will examine my choices and decisions. I will do the things I say I want and explore why I have a self-sabotaging (or self-punishing) pattern.
Each month will have its own goal…yes Gretchen, that’s your inspiration. What would this entail? I will start with a list (by the way I love lists)! Here is a quick draft of my monthly commitments.
- Jump and Start (August)
- Health and Well-being (September)
- Home/ Foundation (October)
- Focus (November)
- Goal Setting/Education/Priorities (December)
- Time Management (January)
- Projects (February)
- Balance (March)
- Review/Remind/Reset (April)
- May (TBD)
- June (TBD)
- July (TBD)
It’s a start. As soon as I know May, June and July I’ll let you know. I will get more specific in my intentions as I go from here, but this will serve as a good platform to dive in. The working title is “THE WHO AM I PROJECT? Finding myself through the layers of my own baggage, bullshit and fear”. It is an extension of an art project I have been organizing over the last year. However, this is more personal since I am the subject. The art project asks the question of all who experience it (more on that later around month four).
The reality is that I have somehow lost track of who I am and what I want for my life. I do know “who” I am but not in the existential way I am seeking. I want to know why I’m here and my purpose in this life. I want to find passion and heart in all that I do. The only way to really accomplish that is to truly understand myself and to figure out what I want. For me this starts with why. Why do I continue to get in my own way? Is it that I really don’t know what I want or is it that I have told myself so many conflicting things over the years that I’ve confused my soul? Is it that I honestly don’t have the ambition or drive? Is it that I deep down know my purpose and it terrifies me? Or is it that my need to know WHY is my problem?
Even as I write this I’m thinking…this is silly? Who the hell is going to read or connect with this? At the same time, do I really care? What if no one reads it, but I have answered a key question in my life; if that’s the case then nothing else matters. I am a person filled with ideas and longings. Yet, despite what many think of me, I am also a person who I believe gives up easily. I don’t love challenges and I absolutely despise being bad at things. Failure is unacceptable so it’s better not to try (I don’t really believe that, but it is my perception of how I’ve lived). I’m not sure where it came from, but I have this deep seeded notion that I should somehow know how to do things (all things). I should be a natural and if I’m not, I’ve already failed. I know it’s not true and yet this is how I judge myself. I envy people who thrive in challenge; whose goals are to get better and better with ambition and enthusiasm, the ones who enjoy learning and failing until they get it right. I want to be that person. I wonder though if that’s who I am. I hope so. The goal in this yearlong exercise is to answer my question and teach myself how to embrace and accept who I am. I know I am smart, strong, and sometime courageous but truly believing it is what I crave most.
I will be using my blog to work through a lot of these theories and challenges. At least one weekly post is going to be dedicated to this work. We all need to be heard and I believe that there is something inside each of us that everyone needs to hear. I believe this about myself, but I have been unable to figure out what voice to use; which one is the loudest, which is the one I thrive in and enjoy the most. Is it my visual art, poetry, writing, theatre or something else entirely? Being heard as an artist seems daunting and almost impossible. My mind goes directly to how I make money as opposed to exploration and fun (which is why I became an artist to begin with). When did I start denying myself the fun in art? I am an artist. For me, this has many faces and forms. I am certainly not limited in the creative use of what I do unless I take no risks; I’ve never been willing to risk enough to fail. I never had the confidence. That is the intent of this book, to find that place inside of me willing to fail for freedom.
Thanks for taking the time to read this post. I hope you will join me on this exploration of self.
Good morning! or at least that’s how I felt as I stood on the doorway snapping these pictures. Oddly this day was the day we discovered we are now the local bird sanctuary. Earlier in the day a dove that was, shall we say, not having a good day sat on that very birdbath in the above shot in what seemed to be shock. Her feathers were askew and stiff as a statue. Her eyes were wide. I again like with Mr. Blue grabbed the telephoto for a better look.
Up close I could see a cut on her side, a swollen chest and a not so symmetrical wing that seemed more to be hanging then resting. I brought my husband Scott out yet again and we discussed next steps. I called the wildlife lady again, I believe we will be getting to know one another well over the next few years, and set up a time to bring the lopsided lady over (I have no idea if it’s a girl, but since I decided Mr. Blue, our last bird story, was a Mr…why not).
The little lady made her way to the ground and wandered the yard. In the meantime the birdbath became a play-date for everyone else. I swear in the 20 minutes I stood there at least 50 birds came and went, splashing and luxuriating in the aqueous coolness while the sun obligingly danced on their feathers. It was such fun to capture them in their revelry.
The photo above reminds me of when I was about 5 and my cousin and I used to share a bath. It was fun and gratifying. I loved the water as a child. If there was a pool I was in it. A bath was like the playground, especially since in our apartment there was only a stand-up shower in the corner of the bedroom. The bath was a place to create adventures, be saved mermaids and sing to our hearts content. It was the best darn pool Barbie had. I love seeing these two little guys full of joy and satisfaction; it moves me. It reminds me.
So much for not being a bird lover…just another reminder of personal growth and learned appreciation for the world around me.
Oh, and for the little lady, she was dropped off yesterday to the rescue lady in a box. She seemed good with being caught, I think she knew we wanted to help. I did say I hope Mr. Blue would let others know they would be safe with us…maybe he heard me.
Good luck Miss Lolli!
All I can say is that this man is brilliant. The future will reveal this brilliance. Not only does he have the necessary skills and knowledge needed of a president, he is also a person of integrity, to be admired as a man, a husband and a father. Whatever ones feels about his politics, they have to admit that no matter how hard they’ve tried, no one has been able to disprove that truth; it is the rare thing to say this of a president. Many presidents loved and admired by the masses proved themselves to be less than faithful outside (and at times inside) the oval office, President Obama has not.
President Barack Obama is a man to be respected, the kind of person we want the world to see that we are smart enough to choose as the leader of the free world. If you missed his speech last night, here is is.
His laugh opens doors.
An inviting soul is his;
A gift to us who know.
This is one of those weeks that has had so much happening its hard to keep track. I actually missed my post yesterday not realizing it was a new day and today I’m posting at midnight.
My head is in a whirlwind. I’ve had events, appointments and dinner dates. I’ve meditated and contemplated. Written and discussed. I have worked to be open and confronted demons. The cool part; ideas are flowing. My brain has been gathering and organizing colors, words, designs and structures. I am inspired.
I am working hard to just let it come as it comes with no judgement on what I am doing or how. I’m just writing it down. Its hard. I have believed for so long that I have to choose. Choose one love over another. One idea over another. One project over another. I never considered the exploration of how the connective threads between them flow.
If I really am honest, I’d go into each situation starting with its limitations as opposed to its possibilities. I’d find ways to separate and define instead of gather and dissect. Patience and process time have never been my guide; until now.
In my meditations this week a project I have been contemplating for a year came together so clearly in my mind’s eye. It showed itself in its simplistic and most impactful form. It became universal. I now know what to do.
I’ve also uncovered my fractured relationship with time. I’ve discovered how interwoven fear has become with it, as it relates to my life. I remember in college during our deep intoxicated conversations the death question would come up (as happens at those ages where we suddenly contemplate our own mortality). “Are you afraid of death”? I’ve always been the philosophical type and my answer was always, “I’m not afraid of dying, I’m afraid if not living”.
Ah, dah! Yes. Yes I am afraid of death and everything it means. It means not being with those I love. It means possibly not getting to say goodbye. It means I did not get finish what I believe I was meant to do. It means most terrifyingly…I may be forgotten.
I am spiritual, but I have never been a religious person. I don’t know what comes next. The only sudo proof I see of an afterlife is numerous experiences of a white light, that’s not much to go on. I believe there is something more beyond this, I have to. I hope its loved ones and guardian angels, but I’m not counting on it. Perhaps its energy. Either way it’s not here which where I want and intend to be for a very long time.
So this busy week and these many observations are reminding me how precious this life is. That I have been so afraid of time I have been hiding from so much of my of my own life. For what?
I am paying attention to new things. I am open to ideas and change. I am looking for new perspectives on old views and embracing my own hand on what I hope to be a very long journey. I want to share who I am, what I know and feel. I want to be a part of the universe around me. I want to devour time with the joy of living, not hide from it in fear.
I am here now, that is what matters. Now is when to stop worrying about doing more and start paying clear and close attention to what it is I am doing.
Time simply is what it is. Life is what we make it to be. I plan on making mine extraordinary.
“Try to be a sheet of paper with nothing on it. Be a spot of ground where nothing is growing, where something might be planted, a seed, possibly, from the Absolute.” – Rumi
This week my soul became a bit more aware of itself. The sun is a bit brighter, the touch of the breeze on my skin more delicate and the desire to share my heart with those I care for a bit deeper.
This cognizance is a keen foundation to dive into, unafraid and with acute decisiveness. I am asking myself openly, what is holding me back? Why is vulnerability so hard when it is the gateway to everything I want. I have been vulnerable this week; at times by choice and at times not. What I have found is that in either case I have stood sober and unobstructed by fear. I have heard and absorbed what is good and released whatever is unnecessary to hold. It has been comforting to trust in myself.
I am quieted, contemplative and curious. What more do I need?