Friday, November 30, 2012

Thoughts on Self -

Self-love, self-hatred, self-esteem, self-doubt.
Self-confident, self-centered. Self-denial.
Self-taught, self educated, self-employed.
Self-absorbed, self-actualized, self-made.
Self-evaluation, self-involved. Self-regard.
Self-determined, self-driven. Self-discipline.
Self-respect, Self-conceit, Self-made. Self-righteous.
Self-implode. Self-contained. Self-reliant. 
Self-help. Self-medicate. Self-denial.

Self-mastery.



Self-less.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Another Lesson -

Kurt Vonnegut is quoted as saying,
"Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. 
Do not let pain make you hate. 
Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness. 
Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, 
you still believe it to be a beautiful place."  

Cancer has really caught me off guard, emotionally. I have experienced anxiety and depression, lack of self-confidence, and insecurity like no other time in my life. I am an introvert - so I don't need or even desire attention, but I have avoided some situations, all in the name of "not good enough," or "but I have cancer." Something as minor as walking into the grocery store has put me into a panic, "They're looking at me," "Crap I hope my hat is on straight," "Can they tell I have cancer because I've drawn my eyebrows in," "I hope they can't see my port," silly stuff like that. Really - silly.

Even in the chemotherapy room, with others who are in very similar situations, or worse than mine, I think, "I wonder if I look as sick/healthy/scared/obnoxious/hopeful/hopeless as . . ." And then I remember, "You can't judge another man's pain."

Depression has been knocking on my door these past 3 months, and I answered it, again, this week, and wow - I have so much respect for those who battle depression on a daily basis, and who win that battle, on an hourly basis. I am forever grateful for three words, "I am sorry," and so relieved that I have loved ones around me who will say, "You were indeed a bitch today, worse that you've ever been, and I know tomorrow will be better, I love you, I'm here for you, go take a nap/walk."

When I am at my weakest, I am my most vulnerable. When I am most vulnerable I often put on my bitch attitude - pointing out others' weaknesses - fearing my own fear. Bitterness definitely steals my sweetness.

Yet I need to be vulnerable, open the door, so others can come in and be by my side. That takes courage - energy.

Vulnerability = Intimacy - when will I ever learn that anger only leads to despair and self-hatred? It's that 3 fingers, 1 finger thing - again, again.

Krista Tippett interviewed Brene Brown this week on her podcast, On Being. Brene talks about vulnerability - she says that courage is born out of vulnerability, not out of strength. If you have time, listen to this podcast.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Hope -

“We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us." 

or -

“We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 5: 3 - 5) 


Are faith and hope synonymous?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Another Lesson From Pooh

An Empty sort of mind is valuable for finding pearls and tails and things because it can see what's in front of it. An Overstuffed mind is unable to. While the Clear mind listens to a bird singing, the Stuffed-Full-of-Knowledge-and-Cleverness mind wonders what kind of bird is singing. The more Stuffed Up it is, the less it can hear through its own ears and see through its own eyes. Knowledge and Cleverness tend to concern themselves with the wrong sorts of things, and a mind confused by Knowledge, Cleverness, and Abstract Ideas tends to go chasing off after things that don't matter, or that don't even exist, instead of seeing, appreciating, and making use of what is right in front of them.

Let's consider Emptiness in general for a moment. What is it about a Taoist landscape painting that seems so refreshing to so many different kinds of people? The Emptiness, the space that's not filled in. What is it about fresh snow, clean air, pure water? Or good music? As Claude Debussy expressed it, "Music is the space between the notes." 

. . . Like silence after noise, or cool clear water on a hot stuffy day, Emptiness cleans out the messy mind and charges up the batteries of spiritual energy. 

Many people are afraid of Emptiness, however, because it reminds them of Loneliness. Everything has to be filled in, it seems - appointment books, hillsides, vacant lots - but when all the spaces are filled, the Loneliness really begins. Then the Groups are joined, the Classes are signed up for, and the Gift-to-Yourself items are bought. When the Loneliness starts creeping in the door, the Television Set is turned on to make it go away. But it doesn't go away. So some of us do instead, and after discarding the emptiness of the Big Congested Mess, we discover the fullness of Nothing. 

. . . In the middle of a particularly busy day, the emperor was driven to a meeting hall for an appointment of some kind. But when he arrived, there was no one there. The emperor walked into the middle of the great hall, stood silently for a moment, then bowed to the empty space. He turned to his assistants, a large smile on his face. "We must schedule more appointments like this," he told them. "I haven't enjoyed myself so much in a long time."
(The Tao of Pooh 147-149)

Learning to appreciate the silence - must learn the fine art of relaxing.

Monday, November 26, 2012

No Holiday for Me


I missed Thanksgiving, I missed after-Thanksgiving shopping, I missed visits with children and grandchildren and nieces and nephews - I missed opportunities for conversation, cuddles, connecting.

Village Inn for Thanksgiving dinner does not a Thanksgiving dinner make. Aunt Karen's leftovers were generous and delicious, but still lacking the communion that goes with holiday food. I missed making pies - a tradition of mine for at least 20 years. I ate junk, feeling sorry for myself, and that didn't help my digestive system.

I was able to watch a couple of movies, but the one I was drawn to, in my bleak and dreary pain-filled world was The Family Stone, Diane Keaton, the mother, dies of breast cancer. Good thing I couldn't get the DVD player to work! Hugo was cute - but he didn't have a home, he didn't have anyone to belong to. Oh goodness.

I spent 6 hours at the hospital on Friday getting IV fluids and my Neulasta injection. The 7th floor, oncology, was one floor I avoided as a chaplain, and 5 hours of laying in a hospital bed, trying to stay warm, trying to relax, trying to not "miss," yearning for quiet, and inconveniencing several people caused enough anxiety to last the rest of the weekend.

Uncle Pete, who has seen me happy and semi-healthy got a huge dose of my reality, as he watched me go from making Sunday breakfast to laying in bed in pain while breakfast baked. Darn - that's how fast the pain travels. And then, the day I thought maybe I'd attend church, to sing hymns of gratitude, found me flat in bed, all stinkin' day. I'd bought lots of vegetables to cook for healthy dinners over the weekend and this week, and my mother did a great job of turning those into a yummy stir-fry dish, and I managed about 6 bites before going back to bed.

No reading, no writing, no studying, no listening to music, no movies, no crafting with my daughters and sisters (thanks Nick and Karen for braving my storm to visit), bah-humbug.

This morning I figured I'd be "better," could make it to the gym to at least walk, to be able to eat, just a little, to be able to concentrate. Nope - stomach hurts, thighs and knees are throbbing, and I think I'll go back to bed.

Last year I had back surgery on  Dec. 13 and spent 2 weeks flat on my back, post-surgery. I missed decorating the house for Christmas, singing carols, baking Christmas sweets; please tell me that next Christmas, Christmas 2013 is going to be spectacular!

IV fluids today, Wednesday, and Friday - thank heavens!




Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Rambling with Pooh

I spent the evening with a student talking about why I am a folklorist. Many times during our conversation I tried to explain to him why I believe studying culture, studying people, is so important. Yet I could not come up with any stronger explanation than the one given by anthropologist Wade Davis, "The world in which you were born is just one model of reality. Other cultures are not failed attempts at being you; they are unique manifestations of the human spirit."

When I am at my most vulnerable I point my fingers at my culture and yell - "You are weak, you are voiceless, you have failed me." And then I look at the fingers pointing back at myself and wonder what I am missing, in me. 

Jenna has shared The Tao of Pooh which I have been reading, studying, and enjoying. One concept that touches me is called the Wu Wei, meaning we look at circumstances and follow our intuition in acting on that circumstance. Some people call this a sixth sense; the Wu Wei, says this should be natural, to be "sensitive to circumstance." In doing so, no big decisions need to be made about how to "react" to that circumstance, because as we have adopted this trait, the decision as how to act has been made, and we follow.

Living Wu Wei, or sensitive to circumstance, is a learned behavior. It is developed by modeling those in our community, our culture, who manifest this characteristic. A culture needs dual models - what to do and what not to do - in order to make the choice as to how to behave, how to act.

I pray, every single day, that I can practice the Wu Wei, that I can look at the culture around me and acknowledge the good, the bad, the differences, the similarities, but more particularly, that I can be sensitive to circumstance, because my path is not the only path, my way is not the only way.


Thank God and angels I am surrounded by folks who do practice the Wu Wei, who are blind to boundaries, who are brave enough to reach out, and who sensitive to circumstance.



Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Tabula Rasa

I love Henna art - when I knew I would be losing my hair because of chemotherapy, I began thinking about what I could do with my blank slate. I visited with my friend, Malissa, from Body and Soul Tattoo in Payson, and we decided henna art would be the perfect thing for this baldy.
So yesterday, Malissa performed her magic. We had a beautiful time visiting, and she fed my soul, from the top down. As I looked in the mirror after phase 1, phase 2, and then phase 3, it was all I could do to choke back the tears, this is exactly what I needed.
We've decided to go with a Head of the Month series; it takes about 3 weeks for the henna to wear off enough to begin again. I figure I'll be bald through at least April -



Monday, November 19, 2012

If -

I've been thinking about this two letter word this weekend: If.


. . . often proceeded by a four letter word, only.
If only I had . . .
If only we could . . .
If only she was . . .
And then we clutter it by adding a different pronoun - he, she, they . . .

And then the phrase turns in to a discourse on regret. Regrets anyone?

Are there "if's" that turn out to be joyous?!
If I . . .
If we  . . .
If she . . .

Friday, November 16, 2012

My Angel Has Arrived

My uncle, Peter Leland Jensen, came from Homedale, Idaho, to spend a few days. I love this man so very much. He is about 12 years older than I, and I have idolized him since I was a child. As a child I loved to spend time with my grandparents, and particularly, I loved to "visit" his bedroom and my aunt Vonda's room. They were magical places - Pete's room was downstairs, and he had a fox skin on his wall and Elsha cologne on his nightstand.

Pete's lived an "outside of the establishment" life, which has continued to endear him to me. He has stories of his adventures - llama treks, campground management, sheep-camp living, gourmet Dutch oven cooking, 4-wheeling activity, cabin building, and I can listen to him forever. He also carries the Jensen humor gene, and most of us have inherited that dry wit - which includes, well, never mind, let's just say, my kids know plenty of cowboy jokes, tricks with lighters, plays on words, and I am proud of that!

Last week, on one of my down days, I think that was Friday, he called. I cried. He came. Life is good - bring on the chemo and IV therapy, because with my angel here, I can do anything.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Hats & Angels

One of my angels trying on hats with me! 
And - I am still interested - do you believe in angels? Why? 






Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Belief

This question is for everyone - cynics, doubters, believers, knowers -

Do you believe in angels?
What is "believe"?
What are "angels"?
How do you know?
What does this mean?
Have you believed at one time, now no longer?
Have you doubted, now you believe?
What does it take to believe?
What does it take to doubt?


I'm serious here - e-mail me [wearehome@fiber.net], respond in the comments section of the blog, note on Facebook.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Perfect Storm


On Sunday Scott brought home Dreyer's Frozen Fruit bars - less sugar, sweetened with Splenda. I hesitated, then thought:

Probiotics, Percocet, Phenergen, Ativan, Thyroid, Claritin. Potassium, Senna, L-Lysine, Omega 3, D, Multi, B-12, Iron, Calcium. IV Fluids, IV Zofran.

What's a little Splenda going to hurt!

I think I'm learning how to match the drugs to the storm -


Monday, November 12, 2012

Cancer Hurts

It's been one hell of a weekend. I had chemo on Wednesday, my Neulasta injection on Thursday, IV fluids on Friday. I crawled into bed on Friday at 3pm, and I am just getting out of bed. The past 3 days have been like the worst flu in the world, times 10 billion. I go back to the oncologist today for IV fluids - it takes a village to keep this one person alive.

After all the pink, all the glamor shots of women with bald heads, all the fun cute sayings, cancer is ugly, time-consuming, all-consuming. Cancer is lonely, cancer is expensive, cancer is a burden, cancer is bone-scraping pain, cancer is cold, cancer is a fog, cancer is exhaustion, cancer is dry heaving, constipation, hunger, unpredictable. Cancer is fickle, cancer is frustrating, cancer is no focus, no drive, no desire. And though I know I will survive this journey, last night I wondered if death would be better - only because the pain was nearly unbearable.

Cancer is finding that one moment of goodness - a sister's call, a sister's gift, a meal with friends, a daughter's short visit, a friend's a card, a grand-daughter's hug, a son's prayer, a husband's warmth, and clinging to that hope -

 

God grant me the serenity . . .

Friday, November 9, 2012

Round 3

The past 2 days have been rough, chemotherapy kicked my butt, punched me in the stomach, messed with my head and my body is feeling the effects. I imagine the weekend will be filled with down-time. Cancer is definitely in charge, in the driver's seat, and I am just holding on. I have nothing more to say! Have a great weekend.

Except this - I have a sister/friend who has been bringing me roses every day I have a chemo treatment. The red roses signify treatments still needed, the white, treatments finished. Thank you Betty!


Thursday, November 8, 2012

Women = Service

I have had some beautiful experiences this past couple of weeks (and food here is the metaphor for all the generosity I have received from men and women). I don't have the words to share those experiences with you today, but, as I was looking for another document, I ran across this paper I wrote in 2009 for a conference (way edited for length). Enjoy -


Cinnamon Rolls, Banana Bread, and Peanut Butter Bars:
The Tradition of Giving

I vividly remember walking the five blocks home from Rigby High School and being so hungry and tired that I could not wait to get home and have a snack and take a nap. I walked through the back door, and more often than not, I was greeted by the smell of fresh bread, cookies, cinnamon rolls, or soup. This was a regular occurrence, one which consistently meant two things: Mom was baking and someone in our small community needed Mom’s service.

More than twenty-five years later, nothing much has changed except that two more generations in my family have also picked up the traditions of cooking and serving. I bake cookies, banana bread, or make fresh salsa and deliver these to neighbors, the college students I teach, colleagues, and members of my church congregation. Likewise, my daughters make desserts, soups, and salads. My mother is still baking goodies, particularly cinnamon rolls, for anyone in need – whether the need be physical, spiritual, or emotional.

Most women, whether they work inside or outside their homes, know that actions speak louder than words. I am a folklorist by profession and so over and over again I ask women around me questions, trying to discover what drives them to serve and to create. One everyday aspect of a woman’s life is the connection between serving food and serving others. Many women explained that preparing food, and also sharing this, is a sacred act – one of giving of themselves.

One way women give is in the sharing of food items – cookies, zucchini bread, sourdough rolls, jam, garden vegetables. These take on new meanings as they go from one hand to another, as the motivation of the giver and the response of the receiver are of one heart. My sister-in-law, Kristin, said that sharing food with one in need can be one way of saying, “Let me worry about the mundane; you worry about what is going on.”  

For generations women have been encouraged to make each others' lives a bit more smooth by sharing of their time and energy, and being considerate of the needs of others. Friend, Shirlene, wrote, “I loved it when my mom took food into another home, because she always made enough for our family too! I think that’s important to do. As a child I felt my mother was serving her own family also. And it made me feel special along with the family she was serving.” Neighbor, JoAnne, told me that her “desire to serve is the motivation” for caring for others. Young friend, Natalie, two generations younger than JoAnne, makes a similar statement when she writes that sharing comes, “mostly because you feel gratitude for what you have, so you feel like you should help others.”

I bake muffins. My mother bakes bread; my daughter bakes brownies. We all give a portion away, because my mother’s mother, Geneve Jensen, said that if you wanted food to go further and taste better, you must give some away – that fishes and loaves adage. My mother, me, my daughters, my friends, my sisters – we give of ourselves. The women of my family all carry the distinctiveness of being “someone who shares.”  As well, food is a reflection of the definition we assign ourselves. Mother can be defined by her great bread and making a little go a long ways, Sheri – her creative cooking, Maria – her down-to-earth wholesome and hardy food, and I’m known for taking a recipe and making it my own. However, all “Walker Women” have a reputation for their baking and cooking abilities. I’ve even heard, “Oh, Walker food, you’re lucky!”

As a child, I learned to cook “helping” Mom by stirring the batter for pancakes, tearing lettuce for a salad, or measuring water for a pan of spaghetti noodles. I saw my mother serve her family – daily she committed acts of service as she “served” her own family, whether on paper plates with deli sandwiches or on Sunday china complete with roast beef, mashed potatoes, and homemade rolls. I also began to learn about service when, as the first batch of Cowboy Chocolate Chip Cookies came out of the oven, I watched my mother put them on a plate, still warm, and ask me, “Run these over to the Dinsdale’s, I know the boys love these cookies.” And in turn, eating Mrs. Dinsdale’s cookies, sent in the same manner. As a young mother, I repeated those same acts – what I had learned at home, and I began to teach and reproduce this process with my own children, “Please take this plate of Peanut Butter Bars over to Mike and Barb, tell them thank you for being our neighbors,” and “Let’s go pick some tomatoes from the garden and take a bag to Jordan’s; they don’t have a garden this year.” Neighbor, Kaye, wrote that she believed the food she makes for her family and friends is a source of comfort for them. She shared, “They know I make it with love.”

The food made feeds our bodies; it serves a practical purpose, but the stories and people behind the recipes and the food feed our souls. The recipes are physical, tangible reminders which trigger memories, thoughts, and ideas. This becomes apparent in a poem written by Virginia Newman in 1962, and published in the “Relief Society Magazine,”

                                    “No Half Loaf, This”
Friendly were the words you said,
Tendering the loaf of bread,
Oven warm and savory;
How much that gesture meant to me,
Almost a stranger, lonely too,
And gladdened by the sight of you.
I would repay you if I could.
Oh yes, the bread was extra good.
(I’d like the recipe some day.)

But let me ask you if I may,
How you acquired the finer art
Of nourishing the hungry heart?
I never had the knack, somehow.
(I’d like that recipe right now.)

Many of the women I have spoken with shared that giving food is their way of saying, “I love you,” “I care about you,” “I’m thinking of you,” “I want to celebrate you.” Young mother, Megan, writes that one evening her friends offered to bring her family dinner. “They brought sandwiches from Subway. It wasn’t hard, but it showed they cared, and it helped ease our burden after a long day.”

Friend, Holly, shared that giving of herself, her food, was relatively easy, “I don’t think [twice] about making an extra casserole or a cake or whatever while I’m already in the mess.” College student, Noelle, shares this about the time she was the recipient of food, “When I broke my elbow some of my neighbors showed up at my apartment with cookies. It touched me, even though the gift was not a meal. It was nice of them, and I felt like they truly cared.” Sharing of food often means the sharing of both the fruits of one’s hands, and often, the offering of one’s heart – and it is a safe way to cross boundaries without the fear of being rejected. My sister, Maria, mentioned, “I think when you do cook for someone else it gives you a sense of sharing yourself with them that isn’t too encroaching, but maybe it will open the doors if there is more of a need there than what meets the eye.”

Today the pattern of serving others, with food, plays forth because of repetition, imitation, and adaption. Traditions do change, but this adaption keeps the tradition of giving of oneself through service, via food or otherwise – alive. However, gifts of food have changed over time. We may not be sharing casseroles and home-made bread, but instead a plate of bakery cookies made from frozen cookie dough, or even store-bought rolls and deli salads. Yet giving or receiving, whether it is homemade bread or a bag of fresh garden vegetables, is still appreciated, and this has not gone out of style. My friend, Anne, explains, when writing that she believes service among women is genetic, “Maybe even the DNA; we all seem to know how and to know what it means!” Yes – I tend to agree – this notion of giving is deep in me.

I have the blessing of living next to my parents. I watch my mother as she bakes and delivers rolls, bread, muffins, desserts, garden vegetables to her neighbors (I’m so glad I’m her neighbor!), and my daily meals are now my in-laws meals as well; I don’t think twice about this – the sharing and the receiving, this all is a part of who I am. And the beauty of this “deep in my bones” type of service is that my children are doing likewise – Jenna makes wonderful salsas and main dishes, and her photos of food make my mouth water. Meili makes desserts that are creative, tasty, and beautiful, and she is teaching her three-year old daughter (my beautiful grand-daughter, [almost 7]) to see time spent in the kitchen as time for togetherness, enjoyment, and an opportunity to bless someone’s life. We do this all without a second thought, and often we cook, serve, and share, together. 
Nonetheless, because of my grandmother and mother, I have learned that sharing food is the ultimate act of serving – and that receiving is the ultimate gift. Mom, thank you – for teaching me how to cook and how to serve. And rest assured that this process will continue – for generations to come. 

Tyli summer of 2008, cutting grapes for a relish tray.            

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Cravings

Last night, my sweet husband went to KFC for me - the only thing sounding good was their potatoes and gravy (I have not eaten their P&G in 30 years). Made me think of my odd list of cravings this past month.

One day, out of the blue, I was craving a brown rice vege bowl from Rumbi's  - I've never had one, but it sounded good. Jenna ran to Rumbi's, purchased one, I ate half of it. Another day, I craved a whole wheat vege sandwich from Good Earth's restaurant - I haven't eaten there in years, it was delicious.

And, Tom Ka soup from Bangkok Grill - yum. A vege burger from Burger Supreme, good for all but the last 2 bites. Wendy's salad and spicy chicken bites - tasty - even for this vegetarian! Their chocolate Frosty was also good, however the healthy dark chocolate covered almonds I ate the following day didn't settle well.

As I look at this list, I'm reminded of when I was pregnant with Tyler and Jenna - didn't know what I wanted to eat, what I could eat, until the moment my craving hit - then I ate. However I did crave a few things - with Tyler it was ham and cream cheese bagel sandwiches, with Jenna - tuna fish sandwiches and home canned grape juice. I could not gag down milk or white flour when pregnant with Jenna. After she was born I craved, and ate, milk and Pecan Sandies! I've decided pregnancy cravings and cancer cravings are very similar.

Thank heavens a couple of friends have had a handle on my cravings: chicken rice and vege soup, homemade whole wheat bread, watermelon. Delicious.

I wasn't craving, but Mom's fried sweet potatoes and steamed salmon with peeled cucumbers and tomatoes hit the spot. Her chicken noodle soup always settle well. Fresh raspberries are safe - any time. 

Another night it was Little Ceasar's veggie pizza - good, until the heartburn set in. Pizza for lunch also sounded good - but wasn't. Neither was the real sugar throwback Pepsi - bummer. On occasion I'm in the mood for an avocado and tortilla chips for lunch. Bought avocados today, just in case!

Mornings, my typical bowl of multi-grain goji berry cereal with protein powder and blueberries or raspberries and coconut milk or almond yogurt. Satisfying, and so far, no side-effects.

In the afternoons I crave fruit: raspberries, mango, apple, but they hurt my mouth and my stomach. 

So far I've conquered the pukes - but heartburn and nausea are ruling my days. Always an adventure - 

Round 3 of chemo today - whoopee!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Different is good -

We don't talk politics at our home, and we seldom discuss religion. There are some things Scott and I have agreed to disagree on. I honestly think we believe similarly, but our way of expressing our beliefs makes it look like we live on 2 different planets (and not Mars or Venus). I love culture, he loves politics; religion is black and white, right and wrong, to him, and I see shades of gray and plaid. I love natural, he's fine with additives; I would rather listen to music than watch a movie, he'd much prefer a movie, any movie, over time listening to music. I don't eat meat, he misses meat. He's a change the nation from the top-down man, I propose that we can best change the nation from the community-up. Interestingly, when we found out I had cancer, we both knew chemotherapy was the right decision.

We love each other - deep enough to not let our differences become insurmountable.  I am grateful for this.

Thomas Jefferson said, " I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend."

Today my prayer is simply this, "Dear God, let us put aside our differences. Thy will be done."

Monday, November 5, 2012

Nature & Hair

In 4th grade the National Woodsmen of America sponsored a speech contest with the topic of "Conserving Our Natural Resources." I entered the contest. My speech began, "Distinguished guests, Mr. Lythgoe (principal), teachers, parents, and fellow students. . ." I don't remember the rest! I think I may have the 3x5 recipe cards for that 4 minute speech tucked away somewhere. My aunt Vonda, a few years older than me, helped me write that speech - the topic was something she was passionate about - she would have been about 18, a high school senior in the early 1970s. And because she was passionate, I also became interested in the topic, and I developed a love for my environment.
I try to recycle, I try to not litter, I believe driving less, walking more helps the air, which in turn helps my air. I believe simple is best, and less is best. I don't wear fur, although I do wear leather; I don't like chemical composites - so do I wear shoes made from petroleum byproducts or leather - a paradox I have not contained, like so many other "green" ideas and suggestions. I eat as near to nature as possible - really disliking any food item with a list of ingredients I can't pronounce (except an occasional Cheeto), and I praise my higher power for the beauty of the earth around me. I cannot imagine living in a place where there isn't green space, in fact my little piece of heaven here in Orem, Utah is often too confining and too unnatural for me.
Loving my environment also has affected my root beliefs - particularly that of ashes to ashes, dust to dust and a belief in a Mother Nature. I believe my physical body is a container for a spiritual being - and it is made of "our natural resources." Any bit of life and land that is natural calls my name these days, I am finding turning to those natural resources is keeping me grounded through this unnatural chemotherapy  process.
So when I shaved my head a couple of weeks ago, I saw my hair as a natural resource, one that I needed to give back to the earth, rather than toss in the trash. With all of the chemicals raging in my body, my hair was one of the last natural elements of me. It has sat in a bag on the cabinet for 2 weeks. Figuring out what to do with that bag of hair has been in the back of my mind, waiting for a prompting. I jokingly gave it to grandson Keegan for Halloween, he quickly gave it back!
A few days ago, with the weather still so gorgeous, I decided what to do. On Saturday, Scott and I (he is so patient with some of my doings) drove up one of the canyons, parked the car, and wandered off into the woods. While he pondered the rocks in the creek, I gave my offering back to the earth. With a silent prayer, I asked the elements of the earth to receive my hair, the animals who were gathering for nests or winter resting places to see my hair and use it. It was my way of finishing off my 4th grade speech - and a way of giving, something I don't do enough of these days.



Friday, November 2, 2012

This is my life

So this week has been filled with downs and ups. I'm discovering that evenings are the hardest - which I'm sure has to do with being tired and not having Scott around (Scott's work schedule is usually afternoon through closing). I'm determined though to not be bummed in the evening - read, attempt to eat something, walk, just do anything, and then go to bed and sleep. I'm amazed at how much sleep I really need, and I'm taking Sue's advice, and the doctor's, to get a nap in during the day - makes a huge difference.

I'm slowing down, my stamina and endurance are not what they were even 2 weeks ago. Climbing the stairs twice to change the wash winded me. My doctor yesterday said my type of chemo is hard on the heart, so I need to not be winded, not be focusing on aerobic, just movement. Thank heavens for The Lab, Cody, Betty, and yoga. They are keeping me moving, without guilting me into moving more.

My body is changing - hair loss is definitely a part of my life. I am grateful for hats - tight little hats that keep my head warm but don't take up too much space! My bowels are wacked out, my vision a little blurred (gotta get some stronger reading glasses), and my skin is very dry, including my scalp. My port is still healing and bruises easily. I get cold - it's amazing how much warmth hair brings to a body, and with my resistance down, warmth is so important. My counts are lower this time than last, and I'm anemic, and I have thrush (affects of chemo).

I'm learning about surrendering to win - after a tough Wednesday night, Thursday morning I was rehydrated (IVF) - with another scheduled for Monday, that's 4 times this chemo round. It is keeping my headaches at bay, keeping my color better, giving me the needed fluids that I just cannot gag down right now - water doesn't even taste good, thinking of food makes me nauseous, but just the fact that I recognized I was dehydrated and then didn't fight it, was a very good sign. My doctor said that's how my body is going to deal with this chemo journey - and I'm becoming OK with that.

I'm continually learning how much people honestly care. I am surprised at the hands and feet that come to my front porch, leave something, and depart. The constant generosity overwhelms me. As well, the FB posts, e-mails, and cards with kind words - I am carried. I am surrounded by amazing family, friends, strangers. I am grateful for Halloween grandchildren - it was fun to see them in their costumes - Rapunzel, vampire, kitty, genie, and others. Thank you for taking the time to stop by - you made me smile.

I am in isolation again this weekend (thank heavens for good weather, at least I can go for walks), through Monday - but I'm going to be OK, I have a couple of small projects, some books, and I'm learning how to "be."  I have no plans, no expectations, that's good, for me.

Closing this post with some pictures that were on FB this week, but I have loved ones reading the blog who aren't on FB.

See ya'll on Monday - blessings -



 


Thursday, November 1, 2012

Birth



Ode to Son
            Our relationship began in February, 1979, but in all actuality, I had been dreaming about this man for many years. He would be tall – say six feet six inches; no, he would be of average height, five feet, eleven inches. His hair was straight and dark. No, he had flowing blonde locks. My vision of him changed through the years, but one thing I did know – when we met, he would be everything I had ever wanted, and more.
            We began communicating nine months before we spoke face to face. Our initial introduction was exciting, exhilarating, and I knew our relationship would be one that could last a lifetime, if I was patient. So I learned the fine art of patience. This is not to say there weren’t anxious moments. Some days I heard nothing from him, not even a peep. Other days he would not leave me alone, making sure I was always aware he was in my life. We shared our dreams, our hopes, our fears, our plans for the future, and we began planning a life together.
            I commenced gathering items I knew he would love: plants – he was a lover of all things green; books – he was a voracious reader, and his appetite was for history and people; food – I knew he hated broccoli and cauliflower, but he loved salads, pastas, and garlic. I began making a list of all I wanted to tell him. I pictured long days in front of a warm fire holding each other and talking about our childhoods. I would teach him the first game I remembered learning – “button, button, who’s got the button,” and pray he would never ask me the first swear word I used and the discipline I received when my mother overheard me calling my neighbor that awful word. We would laugh as we discussed where fire came from and how many stories the logs were telling as they kept us warm.
            This communicating and gathering occupied most of my waking, and toward the end, sleeping moments. But, with all the dreaming came worrying. Would I be all he wanted me to be? Had I misrepresented myself to him, and would he be disappointed in my face, my cooking, my decorating, my style? I knew he could love me unconditionally, but would he really do that? I never once wondered if I could give him all of my love, but I did wonder if it would be enough to sustain a long-term relationship.
            On October 15, 1980, I knew his arrival was imminent. I cleaned the house, stocked the refrigerator, made sure all outside contacts and errands had been taken care of. I didn’t want anything to interfere with our first few days together. The outside world could wait. He said he would be at my disposal beginning November 2nd. By Halloween evening all was in place. If he were to knock on the door, dressed as a pirate, I would recognize him and be prepared to share my life with him. I spent Halloween evening watching “Arsenic and Old Lace,” but this movie was only a bandage – the anticipation far outweighed any distraction the movie provided. I knew, I knew he was on his way.
November 1st, I could feel it in my bones, today was the day. By noon I could wait no longer; where was he? I was fearful – would he stand me up? After nine months, was he even real? Was this all an apparition?
No, No, Yes, Yes, he was real – I can see the back of his head – dark hair, his shoulders, his body, his legs. Turn, please, let me see your face, are you who I think you are? And with this request, he turned to face me. All my hopes, dreams, fears, joys, and sorrows became reality. There, in my arms, was the man I had conjured for nine months. Our eyes met; I dove quickly and deeply into those pools of blue; regardless of what our future held, he was mine.
Happy Birthday Tyler - you are the man I always knew you would be. I love you -