Sunday, November 11, 2012

Bringing Relationships to Light



Relationships can be tricky.  Navigating the right words and emotions sometimes is a bit of a pain in the ass.  Get it wrong and someones going to be 'mad' at you.  Get it right and the rewards are love, devotion, respect and happiness.

I find myself saying 'I work hard' at relationships a lot.  I often think long and hard about what people say to me, as well as what I say to them, but oftentimes I have felt misunderstood.

Interesting that I never really feel misunderstood in business.  Business, especially really good business, has it's parameters and business people learn to navigate within them.  It's pretty simple really and I really love it.  I get a tremendous amount of respect from my customers because I give them a tremendous amount of respect.  I give them exactly what they call me for and the 'relationships' are happy ones.  Of course occasionally a customer will call with a complaint and I leap to the challenge to win them back over.  I have a very successful turnover rate thus far and as I type these words, I am looking forward to the opportunity to do it all over again tomorrow.

However, there is an emptiness associated with this 'misunderstood' feeling and I am learning to disassociate and disconnect from the expectations that come with feelings.  It's not that important that I feel misunderstood.  What's important is that I lead with love always and patch up and spackle any cracks or feelings that would steal that love.  Forgiveness for feeling offended and love for the broken heart.  I've had a broken heart most of my life because of one relationship or another.  The time has come to change the outcome, the expectation, and the feelings.


As I look back over my relationships, I realize that I had a deep need for love (as most of us do) but perhaps mine was a little more intense due to my earliest definitions of love and devotion.  My experience coming from a broken family left my expectations in turmoil.  I navigated relationships poorly constantly coming from a place of deep need.  I lived that way for most of life perhaps up until most recently.  These past few years have brought many bad habits to light for me and my inner most being rises to the surface as being the most important relationship that I have ever needed to learn to navigate.  Getting to know oneself is the most important relationship because once you truly know yourself, you can give to others in a way that is selfless, needless but filled with love, respect, devotion and happiness.  That's all I've ever wanted in my relationships ultimately but having that want can lead to disappointment.  I now realize that loving yourself, nurturing yourself, understanding why you do what you do, letting go of past hurts, forgiving others, all of these things lead to a better you and a better you in a relationship.

A clean slate, an open heart and boundaries are something I rarely started with in the past but it's how I wake up every morning now.  I embrace the newness of day and opportunity and although yesterday may have been a bear for one reason or another, the new day presents a chance to breathe differently, pray more effectively, release more expectations and dream cleaner visions for myself and others.  When you come from a place of hurt or brokenness, your expectations are cloudy, never fulfilled and disappointment is the order of the day.  When you release all of that and embrace openness you realize that even if the other person never even notices you, you do not have to buckle under unmet expectations, you notice yourself.  You love and nurture yourself and more importantly, you set boundaries.  You adjust the flow of qi in your life in a sense.  If you focus on energy that is negative or of a really low vibration - like anger, or sadness, that energy will be more prevalent.  The opposite of that is also true and so much more beneficial.

Every toxic word or deed that has ever been said or done to you that has hurt you deeply, you can release.  You can create a space where pain used to reside.  You can change that energy to something healing instead of something draining and capable of creating sickness.  Every toxic word that you have ever said or deed you have ever done, you can forgive yourself for and if you need to, apologize for.  Humility is salve to a multitude of wounds.  Forgiveness is the bandage and love is the result all within the boundaries that you set in your relationships. 

Why boundaries? 

Because everyone is on a different part of the journey.  Not everyone understands that expectations lead to disappointments.  Not everyone understands that love is the higher law.  Not everyone will embrace your thoughts and emotions as good, as accurate or in some dire relationships, necessary.  Those are the ones you need to really set boundaries with.  Love your neighbor, your family, your friends, but don't yoke up to them if they have a habit of invading your space in a way that is toxic.  Plain and simple.  Change the way you respond and you will get a different result.


Of course, most of this wouldn't even be an issue if people were more honest with themselves and if they were more interested in the pursuit of mind, body, spirit-evolution.  Some people are more on a journey than others.  Unfortunately, we all have people around us that are not even aware that transcendence is a reality and something to be searched for.  For some, they've carved out a hollow that allows only a very small amount of light to illuminate.  These relationships rarely evolve, perhaps too much auto-pilot role playing.  Honesty and humility however, can bring all of these bad habits to light and relationships can evolve because people can evolve.

I am living proof that you can change and you can overcome just about anything.  Love yourself first and the energy that flows from you will be illuminating.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Do Your Best and Keep Moving



Interesting how patience becomes something that you have an abundance of after you've personally gone through enough turmoil, trauma, recovery and reflection.  I am a patient woman, I always have been and through the refining process that is life I know that my patience has increased along with clarity.

It seems to me that we can become impatient when we limit our focus to the microcosm of what is going on around us and when our expectations overwhelm us limiting our tolerance of natural evolution, inevitable change, human unpredictability and even fate.

There are so many variables to life, so much chaos - controlled or otherwise, yet we like things organized and in nice, neat piles.  We get upset when outcomes vary or worse, fail to meet what's expected.  This causes an awful lot of unnecessary stress and turmoil and when you spend enough time in the company of people that react this way to change, or when you consciously live and experience enough of it yourself, you realize that there has to be a simple way to increase patience and clarity which would lead to a better life.


Of course, learning our lessons the first time around is preferred, but most of us don't get it on the first try.  Probably because there is usually some disconnect between our behavior and the way we see our behavior, if we're even looking or paying attention.  There is a certain amount of living consciously that one needs to do first in order to even recognize a lack of patience and clarity.  If you get that far, the ability to recognize you can change, or increase your patience immediately if you wanted to by living more consciously and being more responsible for your intolerance, wouldn't be far behind but it takes some effort.  It takes just a little introspection.  It's not mysterious at all, no mumbo-jumbo, no hockus-pockus.

Conscious living, paying attention, or living in the present moment is not a concept but a way of re-conditioning your conditioned mind.  Most of the way we do things these days tends to be on autopilot.  People are not giving much thought to what they're doing, how they're doing it or how they're affecting the world around them.  They're just going about their lives they way they always have, complaining and hoping things will change.  The good news is that clarity teaches us change is always good, always available and inevitable, so why not make the change you know will make a positive difference in your life? 

Unfortunately, change can be scary and no one really likes discomfort, let alone fear.  It's sometimes easier to hang onto the old way of doing things because at least you know what the results will be, good and bad.  You have to admit though, it's a way of sleep-walking through your life.  If there is even a small part of you that recognizes that change needs to happen and you're resisting - that's a good sign.  You're at least observing.  The doing will come later with more observation, but if you're not yet aware, you've not yet begun. 

And there's the disconnect;  we'd sometimes rather hang onto that which we know doesn't work because at least we can tolerate that tried and true, proven outcome albeit sub par.  We don't have the patience or the clarity to make the necessary changes toward an outcome that yes, may be unpredictable, but may prove to be excellent in its' return far exceeding the lowest expectation which you settled for anyway. 

How did that rut become a way of life?

How can we not reflect on our own lives hourly and see that we are not responsible for outcome, our connection to outcome and our need to control the outcome?  Let me repeat, we are not.

We are responsible for doing our absolute best. 

Doing. 

Do your best and do not worry about outcome...keep moving.  If you are doing your best, the outcome will be glorious no matter what - even if on the surface it looks unsettled.  Time has a way of bringing good works to light long after the plow has been lifted.  Don't forget, this is about patience and clarity afterall.

Conscious living, reflective and introspective living and learning to release outcome into the ether, are ways in which you will increase your patience and clarity.  Becoming more aware of who you are, how you behave, how you treat others and what unrealistic expectations you may burden yoursel,f or others with, can only better your microcosm of life, as well as the macrocosm that is the world.  When you close your heart and you close your arms across your chest and say to the world, "it's my way or the highway", you will reap what you sow.


On the other hand, if you leave your heart open and limit your expression of disappointment when the outcome isn't exactly what you had hoped for, perhaps you're making room for other magical happenings that your mind couldn't even conceive of.  The world is a magical place and when we convince ourselves that we have it all figured out we limit the influx of light, information, holiness, and glory where patience and clarity come from. 

Once you realize that you have no idea who and what you are, hopefully humility will lead you to prayer and inner reflection. 

For me it has always been prayer and meditation, meditation and prayer.  I can't deny it nor would I want to.  Stillness, prayer, recognizing that I am a ball of energy, spirit and love, I can begin again each day hoping to be a better me and touch someones life, but never devastated if that doesn't happen.   I am not attached to outcome anymore.  I can honestly say that my life has taught me that each breath is a gift, a miraculous, holy gift.  I am not promised a single one, yet I keep breathing (smiling).


And so, it is with much gratitude I say, through many tests and trials, my patience has increased as has my clarity - not only to help my own seeing and navigating, but I pray to God that my lessons learned would impart some wisdom and knowledge to the blog readers of the world, and the seekers of the Giver of divine grace, virtues, and all things inbetween.  I seek no other source.


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Out of these Ashes Rise

 phoenix3theo_zpsf0b731b3.jpg photo

Today I had my follow up mammography since having biopsies and lumpectomies in early Spring, and completing radiation treatment this past Summer.  I'm happy to report Dr. Gross saw absolutely nothing new to be concerned with, he could see the changes from the surgeries of course, but everything else looks great.  He even said I looked great!  I feel great and that makes me smile.

We both had a nice laugh during our consultation, as we hugged my earring got stuck to his eyeglasses - two times we tried to separate and couldn't.  To my tickled relief, it gave way on our third attempt.  It was great.  We both had a very light hearted moment to delight in especially since he was imparting much better news to me this time around.  I appreciate Dr. Gross and all he's done for me.  I thanked him for saving my life.  Exchanging a hope filled hug seemed more than appropriate and I look forward to future celebratory hugs with him yearly or in 6 months, depending on when my surgeon decides I will go back.  I see Dr. Brinkman next week to discuss tamoxifen and all that I've been through - the diagnosis, the treatment, most importantly my healing results and prognosis going forward.

I am so very humbly blessed as I rise from these ashes knowing full well how much worse it could have been.  Thank you God for your divine mercy and plan for my life, no matter how much I get in your way, I will rise.

Monday, October 8, 2012

It's All Right


These Days

One of these days the ground

will drop out from beneath

your feet


One of these days your heart

will stop and play its final

beat


One of these days the clocks

will stop and time won't

mean a thing


One of these days their bombs

will drop and silence

everything


But it's all right

Yet it's all right

I said it's all right


Easy for you to say

Your heart has never been broken

Your pride has never been stolen



Not yet not yet



One of these days

I bet your heart'll be broken

I bet your pride'll be stolen I'll bet I'll bet I'll bet I'll bet


One of these days

One of these days


One of these days your eyes

will close and pain will

disappear


One of these days you will

forget to hope and learn to

fear



But it's all right

Yet it's all right

I said it's all right



Easy for you to say

Your heart has never been

broken

Your pride has never been

stolen



Not yet not yet



One of these days

I bet your heart'll be broken

I bet your pride'll be stolen



I'll bet I'll bet I'll bet I'll bet



One of these days One of these days



But it's all right

Yet it's all right

I said it's all right

Yes it's all right

Don't say it's all right

Don't say it's all right

Don't say it's all right



One of these days your heart

will stop and play its final

beat



But it's all right



Easy for you to say

Your heart has never been

broken

Your pride has never been

stolen



Not yet not yet



One of these days

I bet your heart will be

broken

I bet your pride will be stolen

I'll bet I'll bet I'll bet I'll bet



One of these days

One of these days

One of these days







Saturday, September 1, 2012

Praying for a Cure


Thank God radiation therapy is over.  My last treatment was more than a week ago and I will not miss any of it except the people.  The treatment is not that bad in and of itself in the short duration of the individual treatments, it's the build up of fatigue and the breaking down of the surface of the breast tissue that wears you out over the 6 week course.  That and pain of course, but this too shall pass.

The last 5 treatments are referred to as Boosters in that they don't radiate the entire breast for the last 5, they Boost your incision with radiation which allows the rest of the breast tissue to start it's immediate healing and recovery.  That was eleven days ago and I'm happy to report a steady healing has ensued.  I am noticing what looks like the old me under severely darkened skin tissue.  The pain is subsiding but still at times during the day - it's pretty painful.  (Adding this comment a few days later - feeling very little pain actually and my skin is gorgeous again :).


As I've said in the past, I am amazed at the resilience of the human body and the constant ability to heal itself.  My body has always had the ability to recover from everything that it's endured.  It also loves to be pushed past it's comfort level with physical activity - not with surgery and sickness, but with muscle building and fitness - hey, that rhymed lol, and I cannot wait to really start to work out again and feel 'normal'.  All things in due time though, I do need a little more time.


For now I'm sitting here prayerfully contemplating all that I've been through physically, emotionally, mentally, and of course spiritually and you know what?  I'm so much stronger for all of it.  All the tears and hand wringing, all of the mistakes and wrong turn taking, all the offerings made knees bended in prayer, all that I've ever known about God, His faithfulness, quickness to forgive a repentant heart, and His guidance has all made me what I am....and what am I?  Hmmmm.

I am a much stronger, redeemed child of the Most High God, woman, daughter, sister, aunt, cousin, mother (if only to all animals), lover, friend, worker, helper, servant, artist, writer, healer, teacher, mentor, horticulturist, dancer, warrior, an athlete, human being, Spirit, I am consciousness and I am love.  I am all of these things and none of these things.  I am a vapor, here today and gone tomorrow.  I am a breeze blowing over the range of the earth embracing every delicious experience, taking it in for a moment and letting it flow right through me. 

Life is truly wonderful and beautiful. 

I need only sit in silence for the shortest while to be brought back to center, focus and strength.  I need only to sit in the company of loving friends sharing laughter, ideas and creativity to know that I have many gifts and talents yet to share with the world.  I need only to hear the voice of a beloved family member to know where I come from and to whom I belong and that belonging to a family is a gift.  I need only to remember my past, my ancestors, and all of life's lessons to know that I am courageous, adaptable, more than capable and an over comer.

I am adding a new title to the 'what am I and who am I' listing.  I am now officially a cancer survivor. 

My Certificate for completing treatment.

I was given an elite membership into a club whose members are some of the most amazing people I've ever met.  It's not a membership that any of us prefers of course, but once you become a member the light that shines in and around the lives of these Saints is palpable. God's presence is found in these precious fighting hearts.

I saw Spirit everywhere, everyday.

I met a lot of survivors both men and women. One woman in particular was one of my nurses Lana!    These Nurses are very busy tending to multiple patients simultaneously and occasionally I would be treated by Lana. As we got to know one another and my breast tissue started to change (more redness and irritation) I would express my concern and speak to the her about what I needed to do to get some relief either from the irritation or the pain.  By the way, Aquaphor is an over the counter cream that I needed to apply many times a day after daily treatment.  It became something I always had on.  It is just like vaseline and while it's extremely thick, it affords a shield of moisture that the radiation is stripping you of - so go ahead and use as much as you want.  So happy to see it on my dresser unused for a week now.  But I digress...Lana, God bless her heart, shared with me that she herself was getting treatment also.  She is battling stage zero breast cancer as am I and had been getting radiation treatment at Holy Name for a few weeks before I started.

Can you imagine treating cancer patients for a living and then finding out you're going to be one? 
If I could reach out and hug Lana right now as I type these words I would for the sheer positivity that she always excuded especially considering for the most part I had no idea she was a sister warrior.  I had no idea until she told me and she only told me because she was further along in the process and knew that what  I was worried about was temporary.  She wanted to encourage me!


From the moment Lana shared with me, we shared more than a few connected glances, many hugs, a few tears and we encouraged each other on a soul level that is simply deep.  We both looked forward to seeing each other through to the other side. She along with several other women and I would forge through the radiation treatment together while some of us were undergoing chemotherapy as well.
I will never forget Lana or any of these souls for our paths have crossed on the battlefield.

Interesting to note from my experience it seems cancer patients typically do not see each other in the treatment center (unless of course you need both radiation and chemotherapy which most people need).  The treatment center spaces your appointments out so as not to really overlap. The chemotherapy patients go upstairs while the radiation patients go downstairs. I became increasingly aware of this fact and I appreciated it as well although the lump in my throat is still there for obvious reasons.


Unfortunately, I have met too many women (and men) with cancer these days - it's the guy at the gas station and the woman at the card store, it's your neighbor and best friend's Dad, it's a friend of the family and your bosses wife, the banker, the hairdresser, I mean - who hasn't been touched by this disease?

My constant and deeply heartfelt prayers go out to Holy Name Regional Cancer Center, the kind people that grace it's doors whether in health care or treatment. I pray that healing Angels continually go before all battling souls and make straight the path to wellness and ultimately help humanity find a cure.

Brave can never even come close to describing the Spirit with which this battle is fought.

God, great creator of all that is, hear my prayer.  We are all effected and afflicted if just one of us is, please in your mercy help your suffering children, wipe dry our tears, comfort our broken hearts, renew our weary minds and reveal to us the cure for cancer.  Amen.


Saturday, July 28, 2012

Grateful Warrior



It's hard to imagine being happy about going for radiation therapy treatment for Stage O Breast cancer but really what is the alternative?  Thankfully, I've not had to even think about chemotherapy.  My Surgeon decided the best course of action after the lumpectomy surgery would be radiation therapy and taking Tamoxifen but I've not started the latter yet.

Truth be told, once I received the recommended course of action, I just about fell off the planet in a moment of fear, panic, depression, and again let me say fear.  Radiation and I are still not the warm and fuzziest of friends.  I haven't yet said "Woo hoo can't wait to go."  It's one the scariest thing I've ever had to consider besides divorcing my husband (which I still have not done).  We are separated and eventually we will sever our legal ties but for now we're still sharing our home and our lives somewhat.  News of this disease has changed things as you can imagine.  Just kind of slowed that steam train down.  It's all good though.  You find out quickly who your real friends are when you become someone who needs.

What do I need?  Well nothing really.  What I needed and received was wise and sound support to help me make one of the hardest decisions ever...to subject my body to radiation therapy to preserve my life and prevent Stage 0 cancer from developing further.  Once I calmed down and felt the prayers and love and support of family and friends it became clearer what I needed to do.

I still didn't commit right away.  I slept on it a bit.  Interesting to note, I didn't lose a single night's sleep thinking and praying about this decision.  I felt a peace about it deep down inside although my head was screaming with concern and my heart was broken, my Spirit was firm.  I reached out to the medical community.  My Surgeon suggested that I forget about the Tamoxifen for awhile.  She knew I was feeling too overwhelmed by all of it.  I told her I may need more support and she gladly provided a few phone numbers for counseling if and when I needed them. 

I reached out to my spiritual friends, to family and mostly God, and after all that, I still had to make the decision for myself.  No one could tell me what to do, after all, I'm the one who has to show up for 30 treatments so I best be able to make a decision I can live with and feel good about.

I called and made the appointment to start therapy asap, and began I did.

I have approximately 17 treatments left, out of a total of 30.  I am having some discomfort but nothing so far that I can't deal with.  The side effects, they say, are temporary (i.e., redness, soreness, burning, itching, discoloration or darkening of the treated area, sensitivity and I pretty much have all of that but not that bad).


It's a strange thing, radiation therapy.  It's not like an x-ray at all.  It's a lot more intimidating than that.  I have to lie down bare breasted and this massive machine with an extended arm and huge circular disk at the end is manipulated around you, once the nurses put you in position that is.  I have had more sharpee marker lines drawn on my skin to make sure that the radiation is targeting a very specific area.  That's after I was marked with permanent ink via the tip of a needle.  A total of 7 small dots were placed all around my breast marking where the laser lights would need to be focusing on so as to radiate only the cancerous tissue.  This is all very technical but once you've gone through the procedure a few times it becomes pretty routine.  You get undressed from the waist up, you put your arms into the 'mold' that they make for you.  This is to keep you again in the exact same spot so as to only treat the specified area.  Once you're in the mold and the lasers are matched up to the your marker dots and tattoo's on your skin, the nurses leave the room and then you have a second to brace yourself.




For me, I use that second to evoke all the Archangels to come and assist me.  I pray the Our Father and the Hail Mary as many times as I possibly can during the treatment and just prior.  The circular disk that's focused it's attention on your breast makes some hissing noises, opens it's radiation portal and then the radiation begins with a sound that I can barely describe but won't soon forget.  It's kind of like a low vibrating, toxic, somethings really happening here sound.  Every time the sound starts I get a sensation of my entire body lowering it's vibration and then it settles as it progresses and then it's over.  At least the first part of the treatment.  The nurses come back into the room, keep in mind they've locked me behind a vault like door with tremendous locks so as to prevent any radiation from escaping the room or some unsuspecting person from entering by mistake.  They realign the huge radiation arm disk monster, check the alignment again and they leave once again to start the second part of the treatment.  Basically, they focus the radiation one way and then the other.  They get both sides of the breast and some of your underarm as well as that's the beginning of breast tissue.


So now, in addition to two inch scars on each breast, I now have one breast that looks like I kept it on the roof during a solar flare storm.  It's definitely being radiated.  Hopefully, I will be able to deal with what it looks like after the treatment is over and it's had some time to heal.  The next few weeks are going to be interesting and probably more of an uphill climb.  Not making any assumptions or projecting negativity into the future, just preparing myself.  My prayer is that the side effects going forward would be minimal and the treatments would continue without a hitch.  The nurses at Holy Name Hospital are and always have been angelic.  They are selfless and always at the ready to assist me with whatever concerns I have, as are my Doctors.  I am in good hands, spiritually and medically and I know that all of this is necessary and will be exactly what I was supposed to do to prevent something much more horrific.

Cancer seems to be rampant these days.  I hear of more and more people becoming sick and some have even died.  My best friends Dad, Joseph Gaspari passed away recently succumbing to his terminal brain cancer after valiantly fighting for more than two years. 

Joe, you are such an inspiration to me.  I am so proud of the fight that you fought and you remind me every day that what doesn't kill me, makes me stronger.  Your legacy will live on in your children and their children, one day.  Your Spirit lives on, this I know, and I pray for you and your family constantly.  You are greatly missed my friend and I know we will meet again to discuss our war against this disease and our love for one another and all that we share mutually.  I will never forget you and I'm so lucky to have known you.  God speed Joseph.



Sunday, May 6, 2012

Looking for Mercy Street

Sometimes the road we're on changes in the distance. 
It's not until we're right on top of it and then we realize,
we may be in for a bumpy ride.
Such is life I suppose.  The road is bumpy most days.  You have to carefully navigate your way through everything.  Going to the bakery for a loaf of crusty Italian bread is sometimes not an easy task living here in Northern New Jersey.  You will probably see a bird or two when driving since most of us around this area are in a constant hurry and if you stop where you shouldn't and slow someone else down, the birds, cuss words and beeping start almost immediately. 

The funny part about this is once you're in the bakery, those same people are nodding, slightly smiling and acknowledging the fact the weather is really nice today.  Once they're back in the cars or SUV's it's a whole 'nother' story.


We navigate the world and get used to doing it a certain way.
We sometimes go through life on auto-pilot not really appreciating
how we got from one place to another, so pre-occupied. 
 After having my mammography, I was sent for needle and stereotactic biopsies of both breasts only to find out I have the best possible scenario when it comes to the beginning stages of breast cancer.  One breast is more suspicious than the other (those suspicious breasts lol).  It seems that everything we navigate, we navigate in stages and this is no different.

As I navigate through this new world of medical problems, procedures, cures and treatments, my head is spinning.  I was on auto-pilot and very happy to be so, I guess, but the road has changed for me and tomorrow I find out just how much my near future with be affected by this new terrain.

Tomorrow I meet with a Surgeon to determine the best course of action once they remove the suspicious breast tissue.  I've been doing a little research and have heard that the treatment for Ductal carcinoma in situ and Lobular carcinoma in situ is medicine and radiation.  No one has said the word chemotheraphy to me and I'm quite happy with that although I haven't had the meeting with the surgeon yet so that remains to be seen.

Regardless, I am on this road now and the only option is getting well and preserving my life as best I can in the here and now.  I am not even 50 years old and I'm not done living.  Sure this is the best case scenario and it's early and all, but my mortality is staring and glaring me in the face taunting me, daring me not to look at it and using my faith as the main reason not to.  But I am a human being also and that in and of itself has it's human qualities.  I have memory.  I feel pain.  I bleed.  I cry.  I fear.  So I know that this is definetly not going to be easy.  Nothing ever is, is it?

Then one day the road we're on looks different.
It's not as smooth as we remember it being.
It's a whole lot more than we anticipated, but we're on it nonetheless.
And how am I?  Hmmm?  Well, I've had my moments.

When I first heard that there may be a problem, I knew deep down inside that it wasn't going to be over any time soon.  I was hoping that my intuition was wrong, but it rarely is.  I have a voice inside (call it my spirit, my angels, my God, Jesus, frankly I don't care, I just know it's there and I trust it) that guides me ever so gently.  It was quiet, yet cautious.  It wasn't until I got the results from the biopsies that everything was A-Okay that I kinda heard my spirit say 'not so fast'.  I wanted to rejoice so desperately.  I wanted to take a really deep breath and put this scare behind me, but something inside just didn't embrace the news.  Good thing too since shortly thereafter I got the phone call that A) this has never happened before (giving only partial news) B) the news went from great to not so great and C) everyone was apologizing to me.

I knew it.

I didn't want to believe that God would allow me to navigate this terraine, but why not?  Some of the most amazing people that I've ever known have been afflicted with this disease.  Why not me?

I had seen this road before a couple of times, more specifically once when I was a young girl living in Jersey City.  My Aunt Helen, who was married to my Uncle Larry, lived downstairs from my Grandmother Mary.  Aunt Helen had breast cancer and had a double masectomy as I recall.  It was horrific hearing my Grandmother Mary talk about her dear friend and Sister-In-Law Helen and how much pain she was in.  I remember my Grandmother wringing her hands and pacing back and forth talking on the telephone to our relatives giving them the updates.  Keeping in mind this was the early 70's and so much has changed since then, this is still my first contact with such a horrible disease.  It eventually took her life.

I will always remember my Aunt Helen.  She had the sweetest smile and she was always so very kind to me.  I realize now also how very brave she was.  She would be proud today of her family and I hope she knows how much I miss her.  I know she does and I know she's ever present ready to minister to me, as is my Grandmother Mary and my Aunt Jean, my Grandmother's Sister.  These women were the staples in our family surely keeping us together.  I miss them and wish I could seek counsel from them as well as comfort.

Interesting to note here that since Facebook has increased in popularity, my cousins have taken an interest in communicating with one another.  We are all together in cyberspace encouraging one another to get through life's bumpy terrains and it's terrific.  We were so close as children rarely not together that now, even though we're all grown and on our own paths, we're still so very close and want to be.  That's what family is all about...wanting to be with each other - not having to be.  There's a difference.

I have also lost a couple of other great friends to cancer;  Dina and Bobbi.  They will forever be missed.  Such amazing women.  And, as I type these words my dearest friend Rachael's Dad Joe is dying from brain cancer.  Never did a man want his family more than this man and he's being robbed and stripped from it.  It breaks my heart and it should not happen to this family or this man.  It shouldn't happen to anyone.  It shouldn't even happen to me. 

But, I'm not Job (read the story of Job in the Old Testament- if you haven't you're missing an amazing conversation between man and Maker in regard to the why's of life).  I will not question God.  I will accept my circumstances, but accept with a fierce determination to overcome.

Tomorrow will be a day won't it?  I will hear things I never, ever wanted to hear.  I will have to make decisions I never, ever wanted to make;  life preserving, life changing, life altering decisions.  Hopefully, and this is the operative word for my life, hopefully, it will go smoothly, nary a bump and I will come home with a plan of action and the light will present itself illuminating my path, making it straight, and allowing me the grace to navigate it.

So, here's to me Ree!  God speed my love, go, be well and conquer the world as He has conquered the world.

I will, and I shall. 

We all look off into the distance to find hope in the light. however,
I'm learning that hope lives in the heart today, at this moment,
while we're taking this turn.

We are bound only by our perceptions and beliefs, I know this,
however, some blows are harder to get over than others.
Returning to hope is the only answer.


Saturday, April 21, 2012

Just Get Back Up When It Knocks You Down


If you had asked me several years ago if I thought I'd be where I am today, I'd would've laughed, so much has changed.









Thursday, March 29, 2012

Got Fear?



I remember things that people tell me long after I hear them.  It sometimes takes time to digest everything that's said and in some cases, so much is said that it's almost impossible to remember everything.  But a couple of nights ago, I had a conversation with a young lady and frankly, I couldn't tell you exactly the topic at this moment, but the thing that stuck in my mind and is glaring at this moment is this statement she made: 

"Fear is a weakness".

I kind of stumbled on the sentence and maybe tilted my head to the side not certain how I felt about that.  It was such a final statement and I just couldn't jump to that conclusion.  I have wrestled with fear from time to time but fear is personal, therefore personally defined.  What you fear, I may not and vice versa.  Of course, there are the more everyday fears that we probably share, but life is a process of overcoming, so perhaps we overcome and really are quite different and unique. 

Well, of course we are.

And, of course we all have fears.  Most of them do not paralyze the more stable human.  Some humans are not so stable though, needing medication and, or medical staff to stabilize them.  That's certainly the extreme and that's probably more about a psychological problem then something to war against.

All of that being said, when I heard that statement a few days ago, it had a lesser impact on me then when I played it over in my head today.

Today is a pretty important day as it pertains to personal fear.  Today I went to Holy Name Hospital for routine Mammography and a follow up Sonogram for a cyst that was carefully documented last year as probably nothing.  I don't know about you, but if you've ever had your breasts examined, it's a pretty amazing and awful experience all at the same time.

Of course the pressure on the breasts and the awkwardness of having to be bare breasted to begin with is well, cold and painful.  The embarrassment or shame quickly diminishes when the pain and pressure kick in from two cold, plastic hmmmm how can I put it...take out your plastic vegetable drawers from the refrigerator and press your breast in between them - nooo, much harder and you must stand like a crooked fence, bending over, hand up, head up, butt out, chest down - no up, in a little, pressing harder, harder, hahhaa no harder - you don't realize how flat a breast can be until you apply just a little more pressure... and now - DON'T MOVE!  DON'T BREATHE!

TICK!  TICK!  TICK!  TICK!  TICK!

....psssshhhhhh and then release the plastic vegetable drawers from your breasts and you will know how that feels.  We're going to do that a few more times on the same breast, in a few more awkward positions and then we'll do the left.

After that, if the pictures are not clear, we will repeat the above until the images are clear enough.  In my case, it was THREE sets of pictures for each breast.  You do the math and by the way, no, I do not want vegetables for dinner.

Oh, and don't forget the sonogram.  Dark room, bare breasted, at least I got to recline and then squirrrrrrrrrt - hot k y jelly or a substance similar to that - they actually warm it to make you more comfortable 0_o and then the imaging with what looks like a four inch wide, one inch thick tool that's rolled over and over and over with occasional clicking noises, which clearly indicate - something is there.

Hopefully for you, nothing is ever there.  For me, the scare I had last year was put out of my mind like trash from a second ago.  Once the Dr. told me it was probably nothing and just come back in a short while and we'll look at it again, I really didn't even think of it.

I'm happy to say that the cyst is exactly the same as last mammogram and the Dr. has no concerns about it,  however. . .

What?

However. 

And then "Fear is weakness" popped into my head, but it was too late.

I became fearful and tried to stay in the moment and retain every single word the Dr. was saying to me, but it was like the conversation I had with my friend the other night, the words were coming out faster than I could absorb them.  Even as I type this to you now, the Dr. spoke to me only less than two hours ago.  I was compelled to write since I have to process this and this is really the only way I now how.  BTW, I do apologize for being so distant.

I have so much to share with you.

But, today, it's about fear.  My fear as it relates to illness, I guess.

Not to bore you with my medical history, but I have one.  I guess we all do.

I was born breach (keep your silly comments to yourself, I've heard them all) with one leg shorter than the other.  My Mother (whom I adore xoxo <3) was determined that I would not be handicapped and she exercised my little legs continuously stimulating them until viola! I was perfectly fine.  Those braces I had to wear helped although she tells me I was inconsolable for the first year of my life.  I cried until I took my first steps.  I don't remember any of that.

Then I had ear problems "going deaf" as my Mom put it, Dr.'s put tubes and tonsils taken out.  I had asthma with no real relief as a child, still do, but I take Symbicort every day and that has helped me tremendously, and then things were quiet.

It was quiet up until recently, and when I say recently, I mean in the past ten years or so.  Really, since I became a Reiki Master.  So much has come to the surface, this is just the physical we're speaking of now, the Spiritual and the mental have also had many changes and purifications, but the fear I'm speaking of pertains to the physical body and it's vulnerabilities.

I had finger surgery to remove a tumor of all things (which I'm trying to heal and prevent from coming back).  You can read my past blog (pictures too if your not too squeamish) about it.  The tip of my middle finger had to have reconstructive surgery and man, THAT was painful. 

I had a partial hysterectomy from fibroids that were bleeding like gravity was trying to bleed me dry.  That was horrific...the pain, the bleeding, the surgery, the recovery.  All things considered though, I would've done anything to stop the profuseness of the bleeding so cut me if you must, and they did.  There was much relief afterward.  I'm so very thankful to God for the medical industry.

Then I broke my right arm (of course I'm a righty).  Talk about pain and struggle. 

Thankfully this has all happened over the course of my 48 years.  To suffer it all at once, well that would be cruel.  But, I realize that I am well acquainted with suffering of the physical kind.

So now, back to Holy Name Hospital where the Dr. is telling me I've got some issues.  I won't really know until the end of April what issues I have and if they're issues at all.  I need to go for some biopsies on both breasts.

Dr. Joshua D. Gross, MD had the pleasure of reading my films.  He asked me to join him so that I could get a clear picture of what my breasts look like from the inside.  I had seen them on the sonogram while I was being examined, but this was the Captain's Chair! It looked like something out of a Star Trek episode.  There were breast images on three sides of Dr. Gross being displayed on a total of six flat screens, and they were huge. 

He's a warm looking, blue-eyed older gentlemen dutifully wearing his white Dr.'s jacket and ya mica and salt and pepper beard and mustache.  I remembered him from last time.  He smiled a lot for someone in his profession.  I was trying to read between the lines and his eyes while he was addressing me to see what my news was all about.

I've had mammography since I'm 40, so I know that where there is nothing on the film to discuss, they politely send you home.  This was an official meeting and the full impact of where I was sitting kind of struck me.

The compassion I felt for all the lovely women who have sat where I was sitting, receiving life changing news came over me in a flash.  One minute it was about them and the next about me.  He's looking at me.  He's talking to me.  He's looking and talking to me about what a large majority of human beings succumb to in this lifetime.  I know some beautiful people struggling and fighting as I type and as you read.  Please pray for anyone who is struggling with cancer. 

It was surreal.

I guess you can say the news is indeterminable in that more tests are needed to detect if any illness in my breasts.  He showed me what was concerning him.  He showed me white calcification's which looked literally like tiny white dots, very unassuming, and a darker mass (small) that the sound waves were not penetrating, or casting a shadow or both.  Hard to remember.  I just know I need further testing that won't happen for a few weeks and then two days of waiting for the results.

The tears started to flow without my permission.


Dr. Gross politely got me tissue saying that he would normally have them ready when giving someone bad news.  I guess that was very positive, since they were not in the readied position when he knew emphatically that he had a very sick woman to tend to. 

This was not that day for me, thank God, however.

However, I am fearful of the unknown and with so many people around me struggling, it's hard not to imagine the worst case scenario.  We've seen the movies, we've heard the stories, and in some cases, we've watched our love ones survive and then, not so much, so it is a real fear and a real concern.

A weakness?  Perhaps for someone other than me.  Fear for me in this case, is something that propels me forward.  Most fear paralyses but I'm more interested in what I can do, not what I can not.  If I cannot move I cannot help myself.  I need to be moving in the right direction and while fear may visit, it cannot live here.

I am acquainted with fear and sickness and I have respect for both since they teach us so very much about the human condition and resilience.  They also teach us about the brilliance of some humans (healers in particular) and the amazing, unconditional love, caring and tenderness of care takers.  Have you ever watched a nurse care for a sick person, or perhaps you had a nurse that you'll never forget?  These experiences come from very painful, scary circumstances, but have a purpose and deserve respect for such is life.

I have a plan for the next few weeks.  I'm going to take very good care of myself and get myself all built up in the Spirit and in the Physical and psyche myself out in the mental.  I've already declared my body a cancer free zone, I really do not feel like I have cancer in my body.  If I even get a splinter, all cells fire warning shots, so while I initially may be freaked out with fear, I know my body. 

Calmer minds prevail here.

Calmer Spirits.

Calmer Bodies.

I know that I God is closer to me in these situations than any other... and I will praise Him because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; His works are wonderful, I know that full well. Psalm 139:13-15

So, today's message is about fear, a place I visit but leave shortly thereafter. 

I share this with you in case you are afraid. 

If I could, I would hold you and tell you that it's okay to be afraid, we would acknowledge the fear, look at it, and offer it up to God in faith based prayers that's intention is to set your soul free.

You can develop so many wonderful virtues from things like fear and illness.  I am hopeful that this will be the case for me.  I am hopeful that my fear and my illnesses in the past and their experiences can help someone, encourage someone, bring us closer together in our suffering, in our praise and worship of the glory of this lifetime.  It is glorious and wondrous and wonderful.  Even in our suffering.

Nevertheless, L'Chaim! which means literally, to life!

Let's live every blessed day of it one lovely second at a time.  It's all good.

Namaste and with much love,

Maria

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

We Have The Power To Create Happiness


An acquaintance on Facebook posted this clip of Charlie Chaplin giving a speech in "The Great Dictator".  I had never seen it before today, but had to post it here for myself as well as for anyone else who might be interested in such an articulate and truthful speech.

It is amazing to me how old this dialogue is, but yet how timely - or timeless.

We have the power to create happiness.

We can create anything we want.

Choose life, choose love and please check out this speech.

It made my day, hope it makes yours.