Sunday, October 08, 2006

Quality of Live Number One

Getting serious about journaling (this month’s assignment from the book reading group of Steve Levine’s Year to Live book) means I am firing up the old blog with my cancer history. This seems the best place for all my thoughts on cancer, living and dying.

On Friday when I went for chemo, I discussed with my doc going back on steroids. I feel strongly that having the extra “push” of energy and help with nausea improves my quality of life more than the possible fact that I might be addicting myself to steroids even in low doses.

If I have just eleven months to live (until the “due date” set by our book reading group) than quality of life becomes my top priority in that time. I live with pain and nausea daily anything I can do to reduce those symptoms so I can write and create is my mission.

On Friday evening I took advantage of the “happy drugs” I get with my chemo to go to Quaker Quarterly Meeting on Mt Hood. This is part of living life as fully as I can daily. It was so good to see friends I have not seen in so old and listen to a very intriguing panel discussion of what it means to live a mystical life.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Gifts of the Spirit

Blessings and gifts have been the warp in the fabric of my life these last two weeks. Every day has seen divine love shining through all the bits of actions that are contained in a day making sure that I have just the right people and places for every moment. These blessings have been wildly different from being in a beautiful garden with my beloved friend Gayle while relearning the lesson that high sugar content will make my body violently reject food to my brother coming over the mountain just in time to lay his hands of live long unconditional love on me during my first prayer healing session with my spiritual director, Peg.

The weave of the fabric has been the deepening awareness of the serious nature of my medical/physical situation. The news is mixed on the brain scan. The good news is there are no tumors in the brain. The bad news is there are small tumors in the skull bones and one larger one in my neck vertebrae. Dr. Seligman, my oncologist, spoke with the radiation folks and they think they can reduce that rib tumor without causing more trouble to my lungs. I have an appointment today to chat with them. My lower back has been hurting very badly not a new thing for me but I did an x-ray Tuesday to see if it is my old friend or my new friend. I am thinking radiation may get the pain under control. I have so enjoyed the past two days of the strong solar radiation we have been experiencing here in the Northwest!

The image of open cradling hands has been with me through out the cancer journey. This powerful image has returned to me again as a symbol for both giving and receiving. During these last weeks I have been honing the skill of asking my healers (all of you) the fill my hands with the gift you are so good at that you do not even recognize as your most blessed gift. It is different for each of you and you give it without even thinking. My gift now is to be the one to receive that love in open hands and to be the gentle catalyst for change.

Thank you for going on the pilgrimage with me.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005


Friday, July 29, 2005

Dreaming or Awake?

Am I dreaming now?
Lucid in this reality,
It could be, why not?

Today I was given one of those delicious gifts of the Spirit, a conversation with another seeker that leaves you full with a doggy bag of goodies to savor for days. Two hours discussing all my favorite topics, dreams, circle work, spiritual direction, writing and more. The unique morsel my friend, Tina, gave me was sharing her joy in finding a teacher, Byron Katie, and “The Work”. I love Tina’s image of “the Work” as “a tool which fits her hand”. That certainly sounds like an answer to a prayer.

Tina is working on a book about dreaming. She is mining many years of her own dream journals and weaving those threads together with her “awake” life. Her sharing about this project set me thinking about my own dream experiences.

Early in my life (high school or college) I taught myself to “lucid dream” a practice of “waking up to the fact that you are dreaming” while still dreaming. This skill was a coping mechanism against my terrifying recurring nightmares. When I became “lucid” in the nightmares I realized that I could not be hurt because I was dreaming. The nightmares lost their terrifying nature. I could play with different endings “create” different realities in my dreams.

One technique to learn how to lucid dream is to ask yourself many times during the day when you are awake if you are dreaming. You get the “habit” of asking the question so you will ask it when you are indeed sleeping and dreaming. This technique poses some interesting challenges for a Buddhist practitioner where one is taught that “reality” is illusion or a dream.

OK – what if that were true, I am dreaming in the state generally accepted as “awake”? What would “lucid” be? Would I be as fearless knowing I can not be hurt in a dream? Could I as easily change my reality knowing that I am after all creating it? Why not.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Trust? You're kidding right?

Good Bad or neither?
Does trusting need an answer?
Thy will be done – yes..

All my life I have only truly desired one thing – to be free from suffering. This is the core longing of sentient beings. All the religions claim they can fulfill this yearning. They offer many different practices to achieve this goal but in my studies the vehicle under laying all the practices is radical trust, surrendering to or taking refuge in a power greater than your self.

Trust is difficult under the best of circumstances requiring great effort and faith. As a childhood abuse survivor my trust was betrayed early and often setting in motion an avalanche of coping mechanisms and experiences that buried the tender spark of trust within me. After thirty years of therapy and spiritual practices I can again imagine trusting.

Last year what looked and felt like an enormous betrayal by my own body arrived in the form of breast cancer. Why now when I am ready to trust? The answers became clear as I walked into the world of cancer treatment. The more I took refuge in my spiritual practices the smoother the roller coaster ride became for me.

Am I ready to trust that there is a power greater than myself who is benevolent? Maybe.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

What is normal?

Where is adventure?

Outside inside where you are?

Arising within.

The last few weeks have seen another round of testing and meeting with doctors in an effort to assess what is normal for me now. Normal for all of us is a moving target. What is normal before nine months of cancer treatment is not normal after that adventure.

We all cling to what we know and fear change at the heart of our being but yet there are times when we actively seek and expend great amounts of time and energy embracing change in the guise of “adventure”. Sometimes we plan and save for years to go to an exotic place far from home to be in a totally different culture. We usually build into these trips a sense of safety. For instance we say to ourselves, “I will come home in two weeks so I can do this” or “I am going with a tour guide who will keep me safe”, but those who have traveled know that impermence happens everywhere and control is not possible.

Sharon Salisburg reminded me at a lecture last night that one can have inner adventures as while as physical journeys. These inner realms have always been my playground of choice. Much like the outer world there are lands where travel is dangerous or expensive requiring much courage which is the currency of these landscapes.

Finding my normal again will come from exploring and living within.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Being a Good Girl

Being a good girl
denying true self again
Feminine soul lost!
Shortly after my cancer diagnosis last year, I went to see a palmist on a recommendation of a good friend. Pointing to the straight line bisecting the middle of my hand she said "here's the "good girl" line showing you have constrained your life for many a long year". Well I thought she obliviously does know me at all!
Still her words haunted me. Could someone who spent years as a lesbian separatist working at an abortion clinic be a "good girl"? Could someone whose last name means "witch" be a "good girl"? Perhaps, but in order to truly answer these questions I would need to tease out the motivating factor buried within the rebel of my youth and the women I have become in the last fifteen years: wife, mother, up standing member of a Religious Society of Friends and a small business owner.
What does it mean to be a "good girl"? Here's a great blog entry on being a "good girl". My favorite line is the last, "I am such a good girl the slightest stain on my person would be visible from space." (thanks Leslie Harpold!) Being "seen" and meeting expectations is an essential requirement of good girlism. It is as easy to be a "good rebel" as a "good girl" both are playing to the audience, hiding the authenic self within. It does not matter who the audience is, your dad, husband, God or the mirror if your playing to the audience your a "good girl".
What is the advantage of being a "good girl"? "Good girls" get all the love and none of the pain or so goes the advertising. Camouflaged clothes would not work as well! Give me your soul said the devil and I'll give you peace.
I am tired of being a good girl.