Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Creator and created!

The aspect of 'awe' has entered my life twice in the past week.  It is not very common when living in the city that one gets to really see the amazing creation that we have been blessed with.   Well, I can say that God has chosen to show me that recently and I must say both times I was just awestruck by realizing what a beautiful and perfect world that was created for us to live in.

The first time happened in my own back yard.   As I said, I live in the city.  Albeit a small one but still the busy, bright lights, lots of noise type city.   One would assume that seeing any kind of wild life would be virtually unheard of, but to see what I was blessed to see is beyond belief.   It was approximately 5am and my dog decided that she really needed to go out.....she is getting older so this seems to becoming more those of us who too are aging  understand.....anyways.

So, I let her out into the darkness of the backyard.  I am standing at the door with my cat in hand, as she always feels that she too should be allowed out, and I notice that she is very very focused on something.  So much so that she is actually rigid and staring.  I try to see what it is she is looking at but it takes a minute....and then OMG there in my extended back yard is the most beautiful Doe standing as if in a picture with her head up  listening.   I was 'awestruck'!!!!   Quickly and very quietly I called the dog before she noticed and started to bark.   Then I put my coat and boots on and went outside.    As I moved for a better view behind the garage, there was her fawn grazing too.   I couldn't believe it.....then she picked up my scent and she stood very tall which her head cocked to the side as if deciding whether I was danger or not.   All of a sudden she let out this low, rumble like growl and her fawn leap into the air and ran in the opposite direction, and then she followed.    I just stood there feeling like I had been blessed in the best possible matter what happened it was going to be a 'good' day.....then.   I didn't get my camera, I didn't get a picture, but the memory is ingrained in my mind as if it was.   It was too important to enjoy the moment than to try and immortalize it.

Three days ago, while staying at a friends in the country, I again got to watch a number of deer grazing on her front lawn.   I woke up early, it was still dark, and just happened to glance out the window and there where at least three deer just having an early morning breakfast right in front of the window.  I just stood and stared, thinking that this is what we need to be reminded of on a daily basis.   Despite what we think, there is a world out there that exists beyond our lives that is more beautiful and perfect than we could ever hope to create our selves.   Just watching them gave me a sense of peace and contentment.    Oh creation is 'awe' inspiring.........and then I starting realizing.....I too had created beauty and perfection ......

.....I did that 23 years ago today when I created the most beautiful human being in my eyes daughter.   I can't believe that she is all grown up, but I couldn't be prouder of the person she has grown to be.   She is beautiful in my eyes both inside and out and so I too have created something that the world is better for.  I realized that my ability to create beauty has made me an important piece of humanity, and that world will never be the same for my creation......

Thank you God for giving me the grace to appreciate your creations and to realize my own!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

I Don't Want to Die

Fear is the anti-thesis of freedom.   I have come to understand the concept of fear intimately.  I remember clearly the day I was diagnosed with cancer.   The doctor leaned over and told me that unfortunately the pain was not from an burst appendix but rather from multiple tumours in my abdomen.    The fear that struck me immediately was ‘oh no I don’t want to die’.  The next thought was ‘that doctor could use some sensitivity training’!   Cancer diagnoses leads one to go to that abyss….to face full on the fear we all have at some level….death. 
Over the past 10 and  half  years I have been in that exact situation twice more.   Each time the fear has gripped me but in a different way.   I have taken time recently to reflect on what that means in my life and why it is absolutely important to look deeply at what  fear means and how is it preventing me from fulfilling my own potential.   Having cancer does not negate the life that I have lived up to this point, nor whatever life I may still have to live.   What cancer has the ability to do is to stop me in my tracks and prevent me from freely living out whatever life I have.

The first time I heard I had cancer, as I mentioned I thought immediately about dying.   I have to admit I didn’t stay in that place very long.   On looking back, even at the time, I realized that the fear I felt at the diagnoses was not nearly as gripping and scary as the times I had thought I might have cancer.   I was a single mother and so sometimes things like really bad headaches, unknown pains of various sorts, panic attacks, would take me to a place that ‘maybe its cancer or am I having a heart attack’ and I would be terrified.   Then whatever  was  wrong would pass and all would be well.   I didn’t have that type of gripping fear the first time….it was the kind of  fear  that sent me into action.   What can we do, what can I do?  The fear  that sends you into a flight response.  I was running from it by trying to fix it. It was also a long term fear similar to a betrayal.   My body couldn’t be trusted, every pain or illness became suspect….it was exhausting and it took a long time to trust my own instincts again. 

The second diagnoses  was different altogether again.   The fear that I faced was masked by a real sense of anger.   Anger at the liaise faire way the doctors seemed to see this new cancer.  Anger that my body had let me down again.   Anger at having to go through everything again but this time knowing what was to come….that fear is worse than the first.   Now I know what I am in store for and I am really afraid of what will come.   I even thought briefly of not doing treatments because the fear of what was going to happen gripped me and seemed more frightening in the short term than the cancer itself.     Eventually that too passed and I moved back into  acceptance, but this time with an acceptance that was much deeper and more profound….I now belong to the club.  Once might be an anomaly but twice I became a card carrier!  In some ways I realized that having cancer was not an event….it was to become a way of life!
This most recent diagnosis began differently again.  I thought I had passed the fear stage and could move right into acceptance.    Initially all seemed well and I was doing the things that I normally do.   I had decided to wait out treatment because the tumour was small and was not causing any trouble.   Then the pain began and still I thought my mental state was capable of dealing with it.   As time went on I began to feel less well, and more tired.   I started not wanting to do things, and even began to isolate.   I cried more often, and worried much more.   I seemed to have entered a valley and I couldn’t find my way out.    I was sure it was the cancer and that I had no control over how I was feeling.   Then something very interesting happened.!    The pain got really worse and it was decided that we would do surgery.   I was open to that especially because I couldn’t deal with the pain anymore.    So, the process began.   The first ct scan was not very good so I had a second.  The second didn’t seem to be right either, the tumour was no where to be found.    Then the pain went away and I had this energy I had been missing.   I began to think maybe the tumour was gone and I was cured!  I believe in miracles, I have been the receiver in the past of such and have seen others receive them.   So why not this time?   My energy was great, I was sleeping, I was excited about Christmas…life was so good.   Then the MRI and the news that ‘no the tumour is still there and it is growing but slowly’.  I was sitting in the doctor’s office and I remember feeling this deflation, like someone had just let the air out of me.   I was so disappointed.    My daughter was with me and as we drove away from the hospital, I told her how disappointed I was.  Her response was ‘you didn’t really think that the tumour was gone did you?”  My response was “of course I did”.   But, that question got me thinking.   What had really changed?    I have had cancer for almost eleven years.   I have been told three times, ‘you have cancer’.  What was different right now at this minute in my life that wasn’t there before the appointment?  Certainly nothing tangible.  

The only difference was whatever importance I had put on this situation from a mental point of view.   I had felt wonderful, energized, positive, enthusiastic about life when I ‘thought’ it might be gone.   So what had changed?   Nothing really!   Oh, my thoughts had changed, what I believed to be true had changed. I had lost the fear that I had been feeling before the ‘miracle’.   It was fear that was the disease  that was really determining my life.   Fear was the problem not cancer.  It became very clear that the mind and the thoughts we carry around have the ability to change not only our psyche but also our physical well being.    Now this didn’t all happen in a flash of a minute.   I spent many days thinking about this and reflecting on the past eleven years and how I have dealt with the fears.   I began to see the freedom that I received the first time. Although I was afraid of the cancer there were other fears that no longer mattered.   All of a sudden those silly   fears that I had had disappeared.  I used to hate flying and had to take drugs when I did.   After my diagnoses I didn’t really worry about flying…..I mean I had cancer!    Other similar fears seemed insignificant too.   I realized then that I had spent a good portion of my life in a state of fear, a state of ‘what if’ and the what if happened and I was still here….at least for that moment.    The second time, I became a little more paralysed for a longer period of time.   I didn’t want to belong to the group.  I didn’t want to have to carry the cancer card.   Eventually, that too passed although I must admit I began to see that one can use the cancer card at times to get things one wants.   Now I wasn’t greedy or misleading, but hey if I have to live this reality I am going to find a good use for it!   The third time, I actually found myself going into a depression.     I hadn’t gone there before.   It took me by surprise and I  really didn’t know what was going on initially.   Looking back, it was fear again, but in a different way.   It took me to a deeper level and allowed me to see that the old ‘me’ was not going to be able to get the new me through it this time.    She was tired, she had been strong and positive for 10 years and now she was too tired to continue.   I had to let the old me go and find the new me inside.   The fear, the depression took me to a place deep within myself and allowed me the ability to let the old me rest….let her go.    By doing that, the new me has begun to see the power that my mind has over my physical being.    My mind can make me sick, can make me feel like I  have no more energy, even when my body has not arrived at that place yet.    My mind is a very powerful thing, and it is important that I do not allow it to control me.
I still have cancer, and I did even before they told me I did.   Yet, today I choose to live in the moment and not let fear take me to a place that I have yet to get to.  I have my moments, and they do serve a purpose.  But I don’t sit in those times and wallow.  I reflect what is it I need to do.  When packing up Christmas decorations I wondered if this was my last Christmas.  That thought led me to think what do I need to do if it is?  I decided to pack up the decorations with little notes about where they came from and why they were important to me.   Once that was done, the fear seemed to subside.   I may be here next year, I may not, but the reality of this moment is “I am prepared”…which if you know me is my greatest fear…that I won’t be ready to die!!!!!!     Today I am free not fearful.    As I said at the beginning, fear is the anti-thesis of freedom.  In order to be free, whatever that means, it is important that I look fear in the eye and deal with it then move on…….what is your fear trying to get you to look at?

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Curing Cancer or the person????

I just read an article and one of the paragraphs which struck me was the following.   I do agree with the sentiment but I don't think the final line is actually attainable and it concerns me that many people do.   The first line tells the tale....when you understand that line better you will understand cancer better.

Canceris a strange cell.                                
You can go along for years in remission
and then one day it pops its head up again.
If you ever have it you will never be free of it.
Pray for the day there will be a permanent cure.

I don't know if I truly believe that there will ever be a 'cure' as cancer really is a hundred different diseases....but I still pray for that miracle in a different way.

Most lay people think when you speak of cancer that you are talking about one type of illness and that all it will take is a researcher to find the magic bullet and all will be well.  The real reason that this has been so illusive is that it would be impossible to cure cancer in one swell swoop.   Cancer is really the medical term used to describe a cell that has lost its natural nature to die at some point.   It is a cell that continues to grow and multiply to the detriment of everything else around it.   It is a deviation from the norm.   Then there is the type of cancer that exists.  This is a specific disease related to specific cells of an organ.    So Ovarian Cancer is the cells that have refused to die in the Ovary and they continue to grow and multiply and move off the ovary to other organs (metastasis).   So even once the organ is removed the cancer cells still can exist in the body and live and attach themselves to other organs (stages 1-4).   So one can have Ovarian Cancer cells (tumors) growing on the colon, the aorta, the liver etc.   When you understand this, you come to realize that each type of cancer must be dealt with differently.    What one type of drug may do to a prostate cell may not work on an ovarian cell.    So that is why the newest research is trying to develop therapies that do not just kill cells, but that only kill cells that are continuing to grow and develop capillaries.   Each cancer cell grow new capillaries in order to feed it self through blood flow.   No other time do we grow new capillaries after we are born.  So, if we can find or develop a drug that destroys the new capillaries then we can destroy the cancer cell.....these drugs are called antigenisis (sp?) drugs.   This may be the way of the future.  The bonus of these drugs is that the side effects will be virtual eliminated b/c they will only attack cancer cells ...not 'fast' growing cells which most drugs do today.

So, hopefully we will find new drugs to counter what has gone wrong with the cells and that will lead to being able to cure the person.    Whether or not a 'cure' for cancer will ever occur is questionable.    The reason I write all this is that when we understand what cancer is and how it develops, we begin to see  that the best way for us to move ahead is to work on these new type of drugs and maybe not focus so much on a cure.    We would probably be able to allocate funds more appropriately with this type of research..

This is all of course......MHO

Friday, January 13, 2012

Dogsitting......exhausting but fun!

It has been sometime since I last wrote but I do have a very good excuse.   I have spent most of the past few weeks over the holidays and into the New Year pet sitting.   I am still doing that at the moment and it has taken a great deal of my time.   At the moment I am sitting a four month old puppy, and I must say it is similar to having a that can move rather quickly at a young age.   She needs to be let out still at night and early morn.   I now know daily what time the sun rises usually b/c I am up before that.   She constantly wants my attention and when I try to do something she invariably gets into trouble!

So, I have been living a very normal, busy life and helping out friends at the same time.   These friends have travelled from South Africa to Kuwait, while I remain in the southern most part of Canada, shovelling out their driveways and freezing.  This does somehow seem unfair but oh well, at least I am needed!

My New Years resolutions though are certainly being achieved as I have never had so much time for knitting.  The bonus of house sitting or pet sitting is that you are at someone else's house, and therefore feel no great need to do much housework.   Laundry is minimal, only what I have brought with me, and groceries have been bought and put in the fridge for my consumption.   So, it is absolutely necessary that I knit enough articles in order to at least show that although pampered to a degree in one way I have been productive in another.

I will begin again next week writing more wise and intellectual blogs but for the time being I must be off to play a video game, oops I mean knit a scarf........oh no the puppy has become way too quiet......

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Wholeness......equals deep love!

Normally I offer my own thoughts and reflections but today I offer this amazing meditation as what I would truly like to achieve in my life. ......wholeness.   For many years I worked at trying to let the inside and outside of myself be the same.    I think in many ways I achieved that, and can honestly say that I do know how I feel and often am able to articulate it.   I have also come to understand that life is to be lived to its fullest, as Christ says "abundantly"!     I have come to a point in my life that I realize the importance of living the messiness and learning the lessons that life offers up....Richard Rohr (Franciscan Monk) offers this understanding of life in his meditation for New Years..   I feel that Richard's words are worth repeating here in order to take them to a deeper level in my being.   I honestly do want to become whole.....not necessarily in a physical way.....and I want to begin the second half of life.....accepting this understanding of the purpose for life and living allows me to know that with or without my disease I can attain the fullness of life. is not dependent on how long I live or how perfect my is attitude I take to life and what I see as the meaning and purpose of love deeply and to see everything as whole!!!!.



Unless you let the truth of life teach you on its own terms, unless you develop some concrete practices for recognizing and overcoming your dualistic mind, you will remain in the first half of life forever—as most humanity has up to now. In the first half of life, you cannot work with the imperfect, nor can you accept the magic sense of life, which finally means that you cannot love anything or anyone at any depth. Nothing is going to change in history as long as most people are merely dualistic, either-or thinkers. Such splitting and denying leaves us at the level of mere information.
Whole people see and create wholeness wherever they go; split people see and create splits in everything and everybody. We are meant to see in wholes and no longer just in parts. Yet we get to the whole by falling down into the messy parts—so many times, in fact, that we long and thirst for the wholeness and fullness of all things, including ourselves. I promise you this unified field is the only and lasting meaning of up.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Year.......New Day!

New Years.....hmmmm what does that really mean.   In some ways my new year begins every June 27th, which is the day that I was diagnosed with cancer.    It is more real to me in so many ways b/c it actually means that I have made it ONE MORE YEAR.    But, I must admit 2012 is feeling pretty good too!

Who would have thought that I would be here.   Not the doctors, or the statistics, but that just goes to show that really none of us know how long we have on this earth.   Each day is a new day, an opportunity for a new beginning.   We don't have to wait till January 1, to decide to do things differently, or better, or just accept the world as it is.   We have the wonderful blessing of being able to do that each morning that we wake up breathing.

So today, as you can see I woke up breathing.   As the rest of the world I must admit I did take stock of my life and wonder what I would do differently this year.  Of course, my first thought was what could I do to challenge myself?    Well that led me to think what could I try and KNIT more challenging.  Not life changing by any means but important in my little piece of the world.   Then I took stock of all the things that I try to do and decided perhaps it was time to maybe let go of a few things.    That in itself will be more life changing.  I am way too busy, and go and go till I crash.   A remnant of my past when I had more energy than I knew what to do with.   That has been the hardest thing for me to get used to.   I mean, I even had a few moments of insanity lately where I thought perhaps I could actually go back to full time employment in Chaplaincy.   Thank goodness I have sane people around me who just looked at me and 'laughed'.  Although my daughter, who is now grown and on her own, was a little bit more articulate.....she said "no you aren't....all the other times I just smiled and thought let her find out for herself that she can't...but this time I am putting my foot down....NO!"    I wasn't upset by the response, but I did realize that OMG she has grown up to be just like her mother!!!!!!!

Ten years ago this month, my daughter was just about to turn 13 and I decided that we must begin to share memories b/c I wasn't sure I would be around to celebrate many more Christmases and birthdays.   We had the best time by going to Toronto and staying at a hotel and seeing the play Lion King.  It was memorable! was also the beginning of a new way of being in the world.

I will continue to be that new who appreciates relationships, activities with family and friends, and just waking up each day and being grateful for the life I have however long it may be.   I have many memories from the past 10 years and so today I will sit and reflect on the blessings that I have already received.......and I will do that in front of the fireplace my daughter and her partner gave me for Christmas.....I mean come on....I can still appreciate a good gift too!!!!!!!!  

Happy New Year.....and may each and everyone one have an Attitude of Gratitude this year!!!!!!