Oh my goodness, I'm still laughing, and I'm trying to figure out how to write about this experience without laughing at my patients. Here's my attempt -
Patient with no energy is living a "cat's life" right now.
Asking for clarification - eat, play, sleep, wake-up, eat, play, sleep, repeat.
"Is your morning Ritalin helping with your energy?"
"Well . . ."
"Isn't that what catnip is for cats, Ritalin?"
"Actually I've never understood what catnip does."
"Oh, well, we know. Catnip for a cat is like a fantastic orgasm for humans."
"So when cats are in ecstasy from catnip, they're really having an orgasm?"
"Yes, that's what cat lovers say."
Biting lip to try and quit laughing. "Oh."
"So, how are you feeling?"
Conversation continues on a somewhat normal tone.
"But does Ritalin give you an orgasm?"
"I'm buying catnip on my home from work tonight."
"I didn't know you had a cat."
"I don't. I'm going to give it a try!"
Burst out laughing, then attempt to get serious.
"Two last things. I love . . . and Fatboys."
Thinking large men here, following the orgasm strain. "Oh?"
"I take one bite and my mouth is just filled with goodness, ecstasy, fireworks, tingling. I feel warm and fuzzy and delighted and good all over. All I need is one bite."
Conversation is now out of control and two people are cracking up laughing while two others are serious.
"So kind of like catnip?"
"Well do whatever makes you happy."
End of conversation - for the most part.
Do you have a quote at the bottom of the emails you send out? I'm a fan of inspirational, motivation, funny, seasonal, etc. quotes. My father was a quote man - he loved sayings, metaphors, tongue ticklers, and he had files and files of them, paper and electronic. I think I owe my affinity for them directly to him - they're all over my house, my office, my computer. I have paper and electronic files. I love these words - they are art to my voice and to my eyes and to my imagination.
One year for Christmas my father gave each of his seven children three discs - one with inspirational quotes, one with secular quotes, and one with talks that inspired him. I have them, I did download them, but I'm saving those discs, even though their obsolete, because they're a physical reminder of my father's love for good words.
So when I send out a message I end it with a quote. The font styles change to fit my interpretation of the message, and I change them based on my mood, the season, or my temperature gauge of the climate. This year they've been:
be afraid to be amazing.”
Offutt Irwin (1957-); storyteller Cave: The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you
Christmas:“Blessed is the season which engages the
whole world in a conspiracy of love.”
-Hamilton Wright Mabie, American essayist, critic
Complexity: Complexity is
your enemy. Any fool can make something complicated. It is hard to make
something simple. Richard Branson
Doors: “The doors we open
and close each day decide the lives we live.” Flora Whittemore -
Friendship: The happiest business
in all the world is that of making friends,
And no investment on
the street pays larger dividends,
For life is more than stocks
and bonds, and love than rate percent,
And he who gives in
friendship's name shall reap what he has.
Happy: “Now and then it's good to pause in
our pursuit of happiness and just be happy.” Guillaume Apollinaire
(1880-1918); poet, playwright, art critic
well within yourself that treasure, kindness.
how to give without hesitation,
to lose without regret,
to acquire without meanness.
Kuan Yin: I tell
you, recognition and awareness will come in time. Kuan Yin
Lifetime: The privilege of a
lifetime is being who you are. -
Manning: "We give glory to God by
simply being ourselves." Brennan Manning
is always beautiful. (Walt
Time Wasted: “The time you enjoy wasting is
not wasted time.” Bertrand
Russell (1872-1970); Philosopher, Mathematician
To: “Vision is not
enough, it must be combined with venture. It is not enough to stare up the
steps, we must step up the stairs.” —Václav
Havel (1936-); playwright, essayist
Share Happiness: “I don't want to live in the kind of world where we don't look out for
each other. Not just the people that are close to us, but anybody who needs a
helping hand. I can't change the way anybody else thinks, or what they choose
to do, but I can do my bit.” -Charles de Lint
(born 1951); Writer
sweep in front of his own door, and the whole world will be clean.” Johann Wolfgang von
There are two ways: There are two ways to get enough: one is to accumulate more and more. The
other is to desire less. G. K. Chesterton
Tunnel: “The light at the
end of the tunnel is not an illusion. The tunnel is.” ~Unknown
Going on 6 years at the hospital where I serve, is our Christmas Eve Candlelight Service. Last year, and tonight, I'm in charge, with the assistance of 2 lovely families and mine - who see tonight as an opportunity to serve those who can't leave the hospital to be with family - employees and patients and their guests. There are 2 services this evening, to accommodate schedules.
Typically I write a Christmas Eve sermon and prayer. Today I was blessed with a visit from a friend, whose Christmas gift to me was a loan of her book, Ceremonials of Common Days, by Abbie Graham, published in 1923.
Thankfully - tonight's sermon will come from this book and by poetry by Robert Louis Stevenson and Mabel Jones Gabbott.
For your enjoyment:
Christmas Prayer by
Robert Louis Stevenson
Father, Help us remember the birth of Jesus, that we may share in the song of
angels, the gladness of the shepherds, and the worship of the wise men. Close the
door of hate and open the door of love all over the world. Let kindness
come with every gift and good desires with every greeting.
Deliver us from evil by the blessing which Christ brings, and teach us to be
merry with clean hearts. May the Christmas
morning make us happy to be Thy children, and the Christmas evening bring us to
our beds with grateful thoughts, forgiving and forgiven, for Jesus' sake,
Love Came Down
1. The night was
still, and then a song awakened shepherds ’round their fire,
And hastened them to
Bethlehem! Hosannas from a heav’n-ly choir!
This was the night
when Love came down, as promised in God’s holy word.
The angels heralded in
song the blessed birth of Christ, our Lord.
2. This was the night
the King was born, as stars foretold in distant space;
And three who watched
the skies were led to Bethlehem, that holy place.
This was the night
when Love came down, as promised in God’s holy word.
The angels heralded in
song the blessed birth of Christ, our Lord.
3. This was the night,
that holy night, when Love came down to bless the earth,
And men and angels
worshipped Him this night, the night of Jesus’ birth.
This was the night
when Love came down, as promised in God’s holy word.
The angels heralded in
song the blessed birth of Christ, our Lord.
Christmas Eve love is clothed with visible vestments, with gifts and written
words, with wreaths and flowers and candles. The love that through the years is
silenced by busy-ness is expressed in terms of tangible beauty. Christmas Eve
is for the gifts that are given to explain something the heart cannot say.
we watch the Christmas candles burn, we see in them a symbol of the Great Love
which dipped a lustrous spirit into human form that the world in its darkness
might be illumined and made beautiful.
if tonight, Father of Light, there are people standing out there in darkness,
may we be to them the shining symbol of your light, a winged flame that shall
rekindle in their hearts the light of joy and hope and love.
pray for those who are walking through the intricate patterns of life. Wilt
thou watch over our safety throughout the night.
would not forget that there may be tired, hungry, hurting, lonely, hard-working
ones amongst us tonight. Some face great sorrow; others face joy. Use our
hearts to illuminate the birth of thy Son, and to reveal the reality of His
presence. May we understand each other’s suffering, and each other’s joy.
Thou, in thy love remember the loneliness of our own hearts. How didst Thou
trust us to give us the loveliness of human presences? Our hearts are gladdened
by thy trust.
before we usher in the calm of the darkness, we thank Thee for the stars, for
the light that calms our fears, accompanies us when we are alone, guides us to
us into light – where we can be joyously aware of life, of beauty, and of the
spiritual presence of those whom we love.
Everyone needs a safe place (friend, therapist, confidante) where they can go to just let things out. Whether that's news of glad tidings, pain, anger, frustration, fear.
I don't know what I would have done for the past 30+ years without good friends and exercise - both ways to let frustrations out and walk away a little more calm.
Friends such as Renae - a little older than me, kids older, a little more life experience, but someone who helped me develop my talents by teaching me about my weaknesses and strengths. When I was a young mother we both bought long phone cords, so we could clean our houses and visit, at the same time! We can go months without talking and pick right back up.
Friends such as Debby - someone who didn't look at our differences as faults, but as blessings, who taught me as I taught her. And she never judged - she listened, showed by example, and then allowed me to create myself, incorporating some of her teachings. She provided me a resting place at a turning point in my life - emotionally and physically. We haven't seen each other in many years, but I count her as one of my best.
Eve - taught me that playing with my children, on their level, was the best thing I could give my kids.
Beulah - much older, much wiser, blunt, honest, and by voicing her regrets she taught me how to live without regrets. And how to be true to myself.
Shirlene - heard more than her share of my anger, frustration, marital woes, as we walked and walked and walked and talked. She did not turn her back on me, even when I screwed up big time, but wrapped her arms around me and trusted me.
Karin - taught me language. She says she just opened the door and gave me permission. But I believe she gave me words for my feelings, then validated these feelings. And we've been through so much in our years together, and I love her, admire her, and owe so much of me to her generosity, and frankness.
Cody - kicks my butt every morning, listens to my yapping, and teaches me; even though she's younger than me, she's much wiser in so many ways; I cherish our friendship. We dive right in to push ups and intense conversation. She saw me through cancer - and she saw me!
Holly - respects my bluntness, and we share similar life choices. Without judging. She is generous.
Irma - we don't need any introduction, ever.
Sisters - everyone should have a sister, or two or three or six, like I do, who will listen, call me out, laugh, cry, and they know what "Can we have a sister craft day" really means. They understand family dynamics and can quickly understand where I'm headed.
These are some of my tights - although my friendships are typically that - I go deep, not shallow, I keep friends who are comfortable with this.
Just a few - and I'm finding every day that not only do I have safe places to share, but that I am also a safe place - there is reciprocity in all of these relationships. These women - it's not all me whining or them whining that's the key to the safe place. It's that we are safe with our thoughts, which may or may not result in actions, but the point is - no judging, no edging toward solution, but creating a space where tinkering with identity, dignity, beliefs, choices, definition are just fine - and the conversation will go no further. We don't talk about people (well, spouses and kids sometimes), but rather life - and all the crisis and conflict that come with living life on life's terms, and on our terms.
In a seminal article written in the early 1990s (abstract here) research showed that women "tend and befriend," while men "fight or flight." One is not better than the other. But we do have differences.
I've spent some of my time tending to my friend's needs - caring for their words and thoughts, just as I would a friend who was sick, a child who was hurt, even a grandchild whose parents were on a date. Women tend for each other in a similar fashion - we take each other, figuratively or literally, in our arms and hold on tight, providing that safe space, when safety is all that is needed. We won't let go of these confidences, we don't compare our dirty laundry to each other's clean, won't let them run into the street, or eat too much candy, or stay up late playing video games. We nurture, love, cater to, mull over, and then let them go back to their owners when the time is right. We have each other's backs, and there is never a fear of betrayal. We are true and honest and brave.
I am grateful for my girl friends - those who share with me and who allow me to share with them. We all need that safe place - male or female.
I spent 2 1/2 hours today with 2 members of my Palliative Care team and 2 family members who were fighting over the care of their mother. In front of her. As she lays dying, she is watching her children fight over who loves her most, who she loves the most, and pushingly persuading her to do "their will," in the name of love.
We made the family leave the patient's room, and we moved to another room to attempt to reach some sort of resolution. And their yelling was so loud a nurse at the nurses' station came in and asked that they keep their voices down!
As I was watching this happen, I kept thinking - I'm so grateful I don't have to resolve this, and - so this is how hatred and animosity and violence begins. I'm right - she's wrong, end of story. And with what is happening around this world - ohhhhhh, I ache.
Oh my gosh, I'm fried, and I still have 66 papers to grade and grades to put in my grade book and grades to submit to UVU and to the English Department. And goodness it's been one hell of a semester. I've had great students, lousy students, mediocre students, and some really wonderful human beings in my classes. And I'm beyond grateful that I'm able to teach, beyond grateful that for the most part my students enjoy me, and I enjoy them, and beyond grateful that I have three weeks off.
I hope I've been able to teach them not only how to write, but how to think, how to live, how to seize the moment, and how to appreciate their strengths and acknowledge their weaknesses. I hope I've been able to learn this as well.
I own a first edition of Women Who Run With the Wolves, published in 1996. I consider it one of the tops in my Feminism library. It was a literary bible for me, giving me words to thoughts, and permission to speak them.
I've been feeling anxious this past month, and I haven't known what to do with my anxiety except ride it out and be kind. My life motto is: be fair, be true, do no harm. And that's how I've faced November, particularly, and as January fast approaches, this is how I'm choosing to face the unknown. Be kind to those in my own little world, and pray that any energy I have of value to those outside of my world will reach them.
I have had this quote from LDS President Gordon B. Hinckley on my refrigerator for the past four years - it brings me comfort:
It isn’t as bad as you sometimes think it is.
It all works out. Don’t worry.
I say that to myself every morning.
It will all work out.
Put your trust in God,
and move forward with faith
and confidence in the future.
The Lord will not forsake us.
He will not forsake us.
If we will put our trust in Him,
if we will pray to Him,
if we will live worthy of His blessings,
He will hear our prayers.
I'm not a Pollyanna, my head isn't in the sand, but when I go to the dark side, my anxiety gets heavier, my pain greater, my despair stronger. And I won't go there. There is beauty and strength and goodness in this world, and I choose to look for it.
This article from Estes is brilliant. I thank her for this affirmation.
Clarissa Pinkola Estes My friends, do not lose heart. We were made for these times. I have heard from so many recently who are deeply and properly bewildered. They are concerned about the state of affairs in our world now. Ours is a time of almost daily astonishment and often righteous rage over the latest degradations of what matters most to civilized, visionary people.
You are right in your assessments. The lustre and hubris some have aspired to while endorsing acts so heinous against children, elders, everyday people, the poor, the unguarded, the helpless, is breathtaking. Yet, I urge you, ask you, gentle you, to please not spend your spirit dry by bewailing these difficult times. Especially do not lose hope. Most particularly because, the fact is that we were made for these times. Yes. For years, we have been learning, practicing, been in training for and just waiting to meet on this exact plain of engagement.
I grew up on the Great Lakes and recognize a seaworthy vessel when I see one. Regarding awakened souls, there have never been more able vessels in the waters than there are right now across the world. And they are fully provisioned and able to signal one another as never before in the history of humankind.
Look out over the prow; there are millions of boats of righteous souls on the waters with you. Even though your veneers may shiver from every wave in this stormy roil, I assure you that the long timbers composing your prow and rudder come from a greater forest. That long-grained lumber is known to withstand storms, to hold together, to hold its own, and to advance, regardless.
In any dark time, there is a tendency to veer toward fainting over how much is wrong or unmended in the world. Do not focus on that. There is a tendency, too, to fall into being weakened by dwelling on what is outside your reach, by what cannot yet be. Do not focus there. That is spending the wind without raising the sails.
We are needed, that is all we can know. And though we meet resistance, we more so will meet great souls who will hail us, love us and guide us, and we will know them when they appear. Didn't you say you were a believer? Didn't you say you pledged to listen to a voice greater? Didn't you ask for grace? Don't you remember that to be in grace means to submit to the voice greater?
Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach. Any small, calm thing that one soul can do to help another soul, to assist some portion of this poor suffering world, will help immensely. It is not given to us to know which acts or by whom, will cause the critical mass to tip toward an enduring good.
What is needed for dramatic change is an accumulation of acts, adding, adding to, adding more, continuing. We know that it does not take everyone on Earth to bring justice and peace, but only a small, determined group who will not give up during the first, second, or hundredth gale.
One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul. Soul on deck shines like gold in dark times. The light of the soul throws sparks, can send up flares, builds signal fires, causes proper matters to catch fire. To display the lantern of soul in shadowy times like these - to be fierce and to show mercy toward others; both are acts of immense bravery and greatest necessity.
Struggling souls catch light from other souls who are fully lit and willing to show it. If you would help to calm the tumult, this is one of the strongest things you can do.
There will always be times when you feel discouraged. I too have felt despair many times in my life, but I do not keep a chair for it. I will not entertain it. It is not allowed to eat from my plate.
The reason is this: In my uttermost bones I know something, as do you. It is that there can be no despair when you remember why you came to Earth, who you serve, and who sent you here. The good words we say and the good deeds we do are not ours. They are the words and deeds of the One who brought us here. In that spirit, I hope you will write this on your wall: When a great ship is in harbor and moored, it is safe, there can be no doubt. But that is not what great ships are built for.
By Clarissa Pinkola Estes
American poet, post-trauma specialist and Jungian psychoanalyst, author of Women Who Run With the Wolves.
For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in,
This scripture and the Bible story of the Prodigal Son is a favorite of mine. I have written in depth about it before. This story has been on my mind today. One too many deaths, one too many with death sentences, and a few students who are without right now.
I married the Prodigal Son, and his daily service to the homeless and alcoholic, to earn back his inheritance, constantly touch my heart and show me his heart. He is my reminder that whomever I serve should be out of love, not glory, and that I am serving the "least" regardless of their class, education, finances, skin-color. For are we not all beggars - I know I have been a beggar, and "there but for the grace of God go I." And some days I wonder why them, and why not me.
Tonight, as Scott drove me home from campus, I shared with him two quick stories of service today - two times I was prompted to go-beyond, and two times - the reward for today's service has been far greater than what I gave (the devil is in the details, but I cannot share more than this for HIPAA's sake).
A friend shared this video this evening - touching Scott and I as we gratefully and graciously count our blessings.
One of my life mottoes is: Be the Change You Wish to See in the World. I work at this every single day. It's at the forefront of my thoughts, and hopefully, my actions.
This is innately me, and I believe would be so whether I'm Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, Mormon, Catholic, Baptist, Quaker. I find goodness and truth where I can, and I am a searcher of this - probably why I'm drawn to spirituality and culture.
So today, from Mormon.org, comes this video:
And this initiative - 25 days of service in 25 ways, with a downloadable Advent Calendar. Regardless of who you are and what your beliefs regarding Christ are, my bottom line is this - couldn't we all use a little kindness? Couldn't we give a little?
I was asked to write a short blurb about the chemo and radiation side effects of Nausea and Fatigue. Oh goodness, thinking back on those times is tough, really tough. But in the name of getting the word out, this is what I shared:
chews, morning-sickness lollypops, ginger-ale, soda crackers, dry heaves then
eat, deep breathes of cool air, "I think I can, I think I can," cool
wash cloth, sit up - don't lie down, Zofran, Benadryl, Phenergen, Marinol, marijuana,
puke, puke, puke, Ommmmmm. These were my remedies for chemo-induced nausea. The
ones that finally worked were ginger chews and dry heaving before I ate, puking
bile instead of breakfast. Yuck.
let me sleep for 5 more minutes. Why am I so tired, I've already slept 10
hours. Oh morning naps feel so good, just like a cat soaking in the sun.
Pushing a grocery cart down the aisle - stop, rest, lean against the cereal
boxes, just a little more, one foot in front of the next. 30 minutes of walking
a day? I'll need to hold on to someone, unsteady, but determined. One
foot in front of the next. How long does this last? No one mentioned fatig . .
. . . . .
I won't wear a safety pin, I won't put a pink ribbon magnet on my car, and my rainbows are actions, not bumper stickers. Yet - I have a love for the "other." In fact, my passion goes beyond text books and degrees and certifications and councils and publications. I like to think I walk this love, every, single, day. And my daily prayers ask my Higher Power to let me be the love, let me look for those whom I can give love, accept, welcome, embrace.
And if this is not enough, well then, so it is. But I will not be swayed by popular media and political arguments and diatribes. I won't get on anyone's band-wagon for the sake of bowing to public pressure. If I can't look at the "other," how on God's green earth can I expect them to look at me? I am the other, just like many of you are others. I haven't always belonged, I haven't always walked the straight and narrow path, I don't always match what's going on around me; I have been the "other" more than once. As much as I've wanted to blend in, I haven't, I can't, and these days - I won't.
All you need is love? Nah - all you need is an open mind and open arms, and just one encounter with someone different than you. That's it. I won't be closing my mind any time soon.
Tonight - this popped across my screen. Seemed to pretty to be true. So I did some research. Although it's posted on multiple "faith" channels, it's the real deal.
Are we not all refugees, fleeing from something, looking for safety, looking for home? And wherever you may find home tonight - May Love Fill You. And to whomever you thank, give thanks. And I - I will give thanks for being different, enough.
At this time of the year I become a sentimental fool - which really is rare for me, I'm not one to dwell on sentiments; I'd rather explore them! But I'm always pulled to Ecclesiastes 3, thinking about a time and a season and how as the year draws to a close I am grateful for the abundance I have, and the peace I have going into the most giving time of the year.
As well, I'm touched by the song, Come, ye Thankful People, Come. Harvest, gathering in, bringing home, safely gathered, winter storms brewing -
Both of these pieces remind me that for everything there is a season - a fine lesson to learn.
In fact, I made this stitchery a few years ago, just to take in the goodness of Ecclesiastes and harvest and peace and home. Not terrible viewable here, but here it is, nonetheless.
Watching this video clip, on the news, made me think about determination, and my desire to reach my goals. Yeah, a couple of times I've even put my life on the line, risking losing it. Thank heavens, I haven't. Yet I don't think I'm all the way across the street - and this still makes me tired of the swimming against the current, but I haven't lost my desire or my will to reach these dreams. In fact, there are often times when it's not just my will forcing me up the river, it's an inner/outer drive, pushing me, pulling me, motivating me.
When was the last time you were so determined to do something,
I read an article on Huffington Post about, "14 Characteristics of a Sexually Confident Woman," and I was disappointed - mostly because it had to do with sex, not confidence in our sexuality. In my humble opinion if a woman's sexually confident, she are so because of the points below:
1. A sexually confident woman walks tall, head held high.
2. A sexually confident woman does not apologize for, or shame, her physical characteristics.
3. A sexually confident woman uses her voice calmly, clearly, rationally, thinking with her intellect and her emotions.
4. A sexually confident woman does not jump on the bandwagon with every "hot topic" or topic of the day. She thinks for herself, and shares her thoughts confidently.
5. A sexually confident woman knows how to be appropriate in all companies. She opens the door when she wants, yet will allow a man the same opportunity - a woman is not surrendering to stereotypes but is not ashamed to share.
6. A sexually confident woman does not talk poorly about other women. She has no time for "catty" talk.
7. A sexually confident woman owns her story and lets others own theirs.
8. A sexually confident woman does not depend on anyone, or any article, to affirm her sexuality.
9. A sexually confident woman is kind to animals, children, elderly, and herself.
10. A sexually confident woman is comfortable in the kitchen, the garden, the tool shop, and the bedroom. And if she isn't, she asks for guidance, and listens.
11. A sexually confident woman is comfortable with a man in the kitchen, the garden, the tool shop, and the bedroom. And if he isn't, she guides and listens.
12. A sexually confident is poised, carries herself well, and doesn't rely on a loud laugh or bold makeup to get attention.
13. A sexually confident woman talks about ideas as well as shoes.
14. A sexually confident woman does not rely on the stereotypes of the moment to define her sexuality.
15. A sexually confident woman takes care of her health by eating right, exercising, meditating, and wearing clothes that fit.
Four years ago today, Nov. 9, Scott's father was buried. Four years ago today I was too sick to attend his funeral. Four years ago I wondered if I would live - honestly wanting to die because I was sick and afraid.
Today - I'm alive; I'm healthy; I'm confident; and I have learned so much from all of what I have gone through and what my family has gone through because of my journey. In fact, if I have learned one thing during my cancer journey and beyond, it is this:
Both of my parents have chests (cedar and military) where they have kept memorabilia from their pre-7 kids lives. As a child I loved opening my mother's cedar chest, smelling the cedar, and looking at never-used wedding gifts, my baby book, towels crocheted around the edges. And my father's was filled with dance costumes, his Navy uniform, and souvenirs he bought while living in Japan during the Korean war.
I was most fascinated by the scenes created from the beautifully intricate Japanese figurines he brought back to Rigby after the war - tea time, clipping nails, Geisha girls, wise men smoking pipes, all made from ceramic and fabrics. I liked the details and the stories they told, or rather, the stories I made up for them.
Dad also had some kimonos - male and female, and he used to help us dress up in them, complete with the little "pillow" in the back of the woman's kimono.
And yesterday, I was outside picking a few carrots, still growing just fine in the garden, and I didn't want to get my feet wet, but they were cold, so I had socks on, so I stuck my feet into my flipflops, and goodness -
(Not my feet, or socks, or flipflops)
I remembered the wooden sandals he brought back from Japan, that were in his trunk, and the crisp cotton socks made especially for these sandals.
And I remember putting these on after being dressed in the kimono and attempting to walk, like a Japanese lady, in these sandals.
I'm grateful for a garden producing carrots which warranted my harvesting, warranting my socks and flip-flops, taking me on a quick trip down memory lane.
There are days when I adore my life and days when my life sucks. On the sucky days I find myself doing some self-destruction, stinkin' thinkin', or just knocking myself down.
And then I remember that I've been through hell, more than once, and back, and I don't want to go there ever again, so why would I start back down that road?
So I think: Am I Hungry, Am I Angry, Am I Lonely, and I Tired, and if so, I take care of those needs. Whether that means food, a nap, a text or call to a friend, or mapping out what my triggers were, why I was triggered, and how I can resolve those triggers - I can pretty soon be moving up instead of down.
This week has been lllloooonnnnggggggg. I've worked at the hospital more than I planned, I've been at UVU way more than I planned, and I've let folks and issues out of my control get under my skin. Then I get anxious, tired, hungry . . . . Got the drift?
But in the long-run, I have to step away from the future of unknowns, stay in the day of knowns, and let the world turn while I'm working on my own world. Life is so much better then.
So it's the weekend, and I'm tired, but I've eaten better, I talked to a couple of friends, I've exercised, and I'm looking forward to some scheduled free-time (oxymoron that this is).
Oh goodness, I'm so happy to see November here. October is always a hard month for me, but this year October and Pink and TaTas have been a huge irritant. I guess this means I'm ready to move forward - or at least that I'm glad the month isn't any longer than it's been.
I received a beautiful silver ribbon (similar to the pink cancer ribbons) with a rose quartz necklace, that I promised I'd wear all of October, and this past week I've felt like I've had an anvil around my neck, and I all but broke my promise to myself, ditching it early.
But I didn't, and I'm grateful for fundraisers and pink trees with survivors names on hearts on the trees, and I'm grateful for yummy chocolates given to women who have mammograms in October, and I'm grateful for billboard reminders.
And I'm grateful that I can move on - with scars fading and health returning and brain capacity pretty much at its max - it's time for November to carry me toward a heart filled with gratitude.
Another one of those weeks - Every weekend I have high hopes to rest on the weekend, do some relaxing creating and reading and cooking, and be prepared for Monday and a calm rest of the week. And then life catches up to me, and I am off and running, not wanting to miss out, not wanting to say no, yet dreaming and begging for the strength to manage my commitments for the upcoming week.
We drove to Cedar City today, and back, and spent several hours in Cedar at a lovely, but long, funeral and surrounding services (6am - 8pm). While it was quite the family reunion, it was noisy and hectic and beautiful and tired. And an introvert needs her "un" time - so I walked outside, got into the car, tipped the seat back, and meditated for about 20 minutes in the warm autumn sun. A good way to partially recharge my batteries.
Life is good, life is honestly - busy, and while I really do wish for some simple times, I'm grateful for my health and stamina and for a husband who insists on driving.
Sadly, Scott and he did not get along. When I asked Scott for memories of Wynn, he had none. He remembers clearly that they were polar opposite - Wynn was a great student, with 2 masters degrees; he was a good public speaker; he was an LCSW, as of late working as a social worker for the Paiute Indian Nation, where he was loved; he was a family man, married for more than 40 years.
Scott said Wynn bucked the system - leaving Utah for Hawaii to avoid the draft in the early 70s. Probably did some 1970s-style experimenting as well.
But - Scott has said that "drinking messed up any relationship I could have had with Wynn. I couldn't write, I was a poor student, and I let booze control me from a young age. And when my kids were growing up, I wasn't the exemplary father Wynn was; he even helped raise my kids when I couldn't. And those resentments and bad feelings continued as we grew up, and we really never had or made the opportunity to get to know each other as adults, as grandfathers. We were busy with our own families, and I was busy mending relationships with my children."
A few weeks ago Wynn ran into my sister at a Mental Health conference in Provo. After they made the connection, Wynn told Maria, "Yeah, I don't see or talk to Scott much. We're estranged." And when Scott heard this, it broke his heart. But - that was it. Hurt - just as history had proven. Neither had any interest in working things through, in getting to know each other, no desire to mend fences, or at least, "not now."
And now - never a "not now" to work through differences and find similarities - they both loved US history; they both are amazing grandfathers; they both doted on their daughters; they both were stubborn strong men of integrity; honest to a fault, quirky senses of humor, and they both loved SUU and BYU. Too bad they didn't see past the past. I think they would have enjoyed spending time together.
And I'm not dissing Scott or Wynn here. What I am doing is pleading with my family and friends - it's always too late to say "I'm sorry." ALWAYS too late. Say those words now, mend those fences, tear down the walls of pride, shovel the shit into a barrel and toss it away, let bygones be bygones, and get working on relationships. Because - all we have are memories. Don't let them be "estranged" ones.
EdWynn, Kurt (passed away 4 years ago), Scott, Kimball, Max
This time of the year I vacillate between soaking in the last drops of the summer sun and autumn leaves and making sure I've prepared myself and my home for winter. Do I work or do I play? The grasshopper or the ant? This year I've chosen to relish every moment of the outdoors that I possibly can.
Goodness life is beautiful. And I am amazed at the stunning'ness surrounding me - I am in awe at all that I have been blessed with. And I do not take it for-granted.
When was the last time you felt a sense of wonder, awe in your life? Have you taken the time to absorb not only the beauty but the emotions associated with this? I can think of several moments of amazement through my life, so powerful I remember them clearly:
Visiting the rolling hills of Virginia and praying that I would some day be able to live in the south.
Seeing the "Village" house, in Alabama, for the first time and knowing this was home.
Driving the Blue Ridge Parkway in autumn.
Entering Provo Canyon and promising myself I would see Utah County through the eyes of a tourist.
Driving from Georgia into North Carolina, cresting the hill, and seeing "as far as the eyes could see."
Watching Tempest's birth.
Holding each of my new grand-babies.
Driving in to Ketchum Idaho.
Hiking to the Lily Pond at Redfish Lake.
Looking east up Henry's Fork, from Macks Inn.
Witnessing my father's death.
Walking through Chihuly Gardens in Seattle.
And I could elaborate, in great detail, about each of these events and the significance they played in my life at that moment and since. And these are just a few.
These moments caught me off-guard, which makes them even more stunning. Pretty interesting that the sound I make when struck by beauty is an inhaling and an exhaling of aaah. When I thought there was no beauty, no generosity, no kindness, no place for me in this world, I remembered these moments, and counted them, and re-experienced them. They have kept me alive in those darkest loneliest moments, yet this sense of awe continues to stun me -
Awe, amazement, wonder, beauty, blessed - God's tender hand - call it what you may - I see an artist's hand in creating these moments, so at just the right time, I am able to be a witness to the glory.
As most of you know by now, I was diagnosed with breast cancer the week beginning July 4th, the day I temporarily lost my Independence! I know! You couldn’t write the script!
It’s been an unimaginable 15 weeks, full of tears, exasperation, fear, love, laughter and most importantly fun. I was even able to negotiate an absence of leave and disappeared to New York for a month to get my head together. Running 4 miles a day along the New York skyline certainly helped me gather some perspective and galvanise myself for the eventful journey ahead.
By the time I returned to Wales, I was more than ready for surgery on August 25th. Keen to get cracking! Cancer is a lonely business. I mean that in the wisest of ways and despite being surrounded by an eclectic bunch of loving and supportive friends and family... In order to cope mentally and physically, one has to be prepared to manage the journey alone, to a degree, in order to survive. Never is this more apparent than when you walk the walk to have surgery, with nothing more than a pillow for company ;0) The doors swing shut and there you are, all by your self with a room full of strangers, all doing their best for you, to try and literally, cut the cancer away.
This is why I felt compelled to send Mike away on tour to the USA a week after my surgery. I am used to being alone. Despite my diagnosis, we had important business to take care of for Love Hope Strength in Washington DC, It would have been a negative for me, to have to cope with the process of cancellation and disappointment of the Alarm family, at a time when all I needed was a bag of positives. So Mike headed to the USA for a month and I moved my girlfriends in (grin). You see, there is always a silver lining. Alone but not really alone.
Poor Mike couldn’t have been further away. Mike, who is always so calm and positive wanted to jump on a plane and run to me, especially when I needed a second surgery but I didn’t want him parachuting back into my life. The show had to go on. It made me strong, dealing with it all by myself, with my nearest and dearest, running alongside me, ready to leap in if I needed a ‘love’…
I have mainly been dealing with this situation by seeing the funny side, belly-laughing with my mates through the ups and downs of this little curve ball. It honestly hasn’t been the worst time of my life. It’s been quite celebratory. I feel extremely lucky to be alive. I feel extremely grateful to my friend for nagging me to get checked. Make sure you all check yourself for lumps and bumps. Checking has literally saved my life. I just feel lucky!
Most of you who know me, know that I am very appreciative and grateful for the life I lead. I love living in Wales. I love our rock and roll gallivanting I’m addicted to the sunrise, the sunset, the beach, the mountains. My amazing folks raised me to see the positives outside my window. I certainly didn’t need a wake up call to shake up my life. However, now that cancer has happened to me, I feel forever changed. I feel more resilient. Formidable perhaps? No fear. I don’t mean that to sound arrogant. It’s just that when you have walked into countless medical appointments, massaging the fear in your throat, managing the demons licking at your heels, staying calm and positive when all colour is draining from your life and the pit of your stomach is falling away, you become less afraid, less fearful, more knowing, more understanding. This has all been about small steps. There can be no reassurance at the beginning of a breast cancer diagnosis. My situation has been so subtle. It has been such a battle for my amazing medical team to figure out where my cancer began and where it ended. Cancer is still weaving its deadly dance and it has taken great skill for my team to decide on the best form of treatment to get my personal situation under control. Small steps and gallons of patience are required. Slowly, the colours are returning and they are more psychedelic than before. Life takes on new meaning...
Now this week, the goalposts have shifted and I am delighted to announce that I am actually excited to begin my chemotherapy journey. I never thought I’d be saying that. Back in July, despite wanting to grab cancer by the balls, I was terrified at the prospect of chemo. Chemotherapy doesn’t scare me. I’ve sat next to Mike enough times and poured him tea and tossed him the occasional biscuit (biscuits are a no no in our house but MP is allowed special treats on chemo days) to see that it is much more manageable in 2016 but I am scared and dare I say cross about potentially losing my hair ;0) For most women, losing your hair, losing your breast is a dreadful option but you still feel a teeny weeny bit guilty for worrying about vanity when cancer is out to get you.
Vanity gets you through though and I think it’s important to be honest about these kind of fears and explore them. I explored my fears by shooting straight off to Manchester, finding myself an amazing and empathetic hairdresser who is slowly but surely creating me a wig to die for. Well not to die for but you get my drift ;0) Think Marianne Faithful. Think heavy fringe. I may never take this wig off! It will also be handy in the future when I’m done with this cancer journey to just wear for fun. It will be useful at the Gathering for example when I arrive early at Venue Cymru and never have time to wash my hair for show time. It will be useful for Fri nights out at the pub with the girls. No more need to wash and go.You see, there is always a positive to grasp for. Silver linings pop up when you least expect them.
This segueys smoothly into the Gathering. The Show Must Go On! The Gathering will go on! Feb 3/4/5, Venue Cymru, Llandudno, 2017… You Gatherers can do what you always do and pack your bags and go on tour whilst Mike and I (and the band) can do what we have always done and stay at home. I will hopefully be a few weeks short of my final chemo by then. I am also busy negotiating for a larger venue to house all you lovely extra Gatherer people who wish to attend, now that the Gathering has sold out months in advance. Please bear with me, as trust me, there is no one more than me who wants this Gathering to be the best EVER!
This then leads me on to the Alarm shows later this year. Whilst the show must go on, I’m hoping that my beautiful Alarm family will cut me some slack in this department ( I know you can get frustrated at times) to allow me to reschedule these shows for a later date. I just need Mikey by my side for the chemo, not necessarily to hold my hand as no doubt I will be tapping away furiously at my laptop under my Cold Cap (yes, I’m going to fight hard through the brain freeze to keep hold of my hair despite the ownership of my new Marianne wig) but I just need MP home to manage the home life. My close friends and family have been managing this in his absence but they all have their own jobs and families to take care of too, so time for MP to be By My Side...)
Think ‘putting the bins out’ (It’s a Thursday, Mike!!!!) think taxiing the boys to tennis, golf, footie, drums, Tic, guitar, swimming (Good luck with that, Michael!) and don’t keep asking me "what’s the plan today, Jules… check your itinerary!!!!” ;0) Mike has never forgiven me for making him shift a few boxes outside the chapel after his first ever chemo or making him shift his backside in the morning after most of his chemo appointments… (You get enough lie ins on your tours, Mikey Boy!!!)… I’m hoping for ‘The Good Wife’ Boxset, bit of ‘Cold Feet’, tea in bed, the day after my chemo but I think it’s all a negotiation...
I’m actually quite excited about Mike being home for a few months. Lately, we have been gallivanting. A LOT. My North Walian mates get frustrated by our gallivanting sometimes. Makes it hard to plan ahead. Where are the Peters’ Family? Month in Los Angeles. Month in New York. How they get frustrated with us sometimes for our rock and roll lifestyle (grin) Now they get us all to themselves. Dim gallivanting o gwbl. It’s going to be fun. Comforting. Like slipping on an old holey jumper (no offence Delyth & Leanne) and when I say holey jumper check out the new new 2016 version in All Saints…
Mike and I will get to watch TV together. We never usually do normal stuff like that. We might even start going to bed early! It’s going to be like entering a whole new world. Box set recommendations please! Something that can please him and her… 24 did it for us in the past. Homeland. Stella ;0) (On Tour) Should we re-attempt Breaking Bad? Lost our way there…
We are also going to get cracking on making music. Oh yeah… With our special team, kicking off this week with Marky, George and Smiles… Nothing like a few melodies bouncing around to lift the spirits. MPO will be open for business as usual and we will be keeping as busy as ever. Bus-yness is good for the soul.
My soul needs nourishment and for the last few years, running has become my mantra but as I can’t run just yet, I decided to walk. The idea of not being able to exercise each day would have finished me off! Go to keep on moving...So the day after my surgery, I took MP out of the door and headed out into the local lanes. It just happened to be our wedding anniversary too. 28 years. We took small steps and it felt great so we just kept walking and I haven’t stopped since. Each morning, I wave the boys off to school, stick ‘Staying Alive’ on the turntable (Let the vinyl wars begin in Chez Peters’) and step out the door. I clock up 5 miles a day at least. I love to feel the wind on my face. Check out the beautiful view. I listen to Radio 4 and so am now super hot on current affairs ;0) and by the time, I am sat back at my desk in the Chapel, I’m full of positivity.
Of course there have been black moments but in all honesty they have been few and far between. I prefer to see the funny side, laugh myself senseless. You certainly couldn’t write this script. Feeling black isn’t particularly helpful to me so I’d rather get the friends round, crack open a bottle of something, share the fear and and put the world to rights… There is always a way...
Plus, I am being documented!!! It’s like having round the clock counselling! The Avanti Team, who started making “Being Mike Peters” long before my diagnosis, have been thrown into a whirlpool of activity… Wales, New York, Los Angeles, Washington DC, The Hamptons, Bangor Hospital! Diolch to the Avanti Team. You are the best and have always kept me smiling even through the darkest of times!
So, now as my Manny arrives… (Smiley can drum, play footie with the boys, make me laugh and serve up tea and toast), I’m feeling calm and positive to face up to the next chapter of my journey. Who knows what it will bring…? Everything happens for a reason. I have no regrets and would’t change a thing so don’t feel sad for me. Laugh with me, love with me.. Feel hope and strength. Join me for Snowdon Rocks next year and our 100 mile trek from Wrexham Hospital, via Glan Clwyd to Bangor Hospital and then straight up Snowdon!!!
I hope to be fixed and right as rain for June 24th 2017… Hope you can join me… (Yep, I’m milking this ;0)
I know nothing about the woman who made this statement, and I'm choosing, for the time being, to not. Instead I'm chewing on these words - figuring out their meaning to me - because if they struck me, and I'm still thinking about them, then there is something here for me.
When I was
diagnosed with cancer I was told that I would be doing cancer full-time, and to
drop commitments and focus on cancer treatment – and living.
been times in my life when I’ve been so busy being busy, that I haven’t been
able to “fit one more thing” into my life. But I tell you, when this crisis
came, I was amazed at how easily and quickly I was able to simplify my life. In
fact, I really felt like I did as a new mother – wanting to really really
really savor (Yikes) every moment; I know this sounds weird, but as I told a
friend, “I want to live cancer to the
ultimate – I want to make sure that I learn everything there is to learn, while
I’m in this state.” And my friend told me, “Ronda, you’ll be learning from this
experiences for years to come.” Yes – journey – not destination. Just like
So I began living day by day, minute by minute, second by second, with chemo and radiation and doctor
appointments becoming my social life, and the time-tracker as I moved through
Slowing down allowed me to really stop and smell the roses, living in
the moment, with no plans for the future, except to nap!
Cancer moved me from where I was to where I am now. All of us, of
course, go through similar alterations and changes. The difference between the
changes in my life and the changes in yours is only in the details.
sick as I was, I learned that life is worth living, not just getting through. I
promised myself that as sick as I was, as much as I hurt, I would not get
angry, and I would not let my cancer define me. My mottos during my twelve
month treatment journey were:
“Most men lead
lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.”
is not a state to arrive at, but a manner of traveling.” Margaret Lee Runbeck
goal driven, 12-Step focused, promotion preparing, dollar strengthening,
daylight extended, with the end in mind society, it’s tough to focus on the
here and now, the right this very minute, the one step at a time, perspective.
Yet it’s not the beginnings and endings as much as it is what’s in the middle,
the middle part is the most important – living in the moment.
What are you doing today that brings you joy?
live in the moment, being grateful for the here and now?
life most often happens during the in-between times when we are not celebrating
a special occasion. While moving from one moment in time
to the next is seldom considered a significant occurrence, I think we all know
how important and difficult it is to live in the middle, in that in-between
time where we’re not able to make plans, planning for the future, let alone
tomorrow, is not always possible. So we learn to live in today.
And here I am today, 3 ½ years post-treatment, and I am so excited to be alive,
to be healthy, to be continually learning from my cancer experiences. I often
celebrate the simple fact that I am alive and that every day is a chance to
spend time with the people I care about and do the work I love. And as I look
at the good that exists in my life, I see many reasons for celebrating the
in-between times: a cup of my favorite tea, a beautiful sunrise, snow on the
mountain, a grandchild’s laugh, a joke, a good book, and the smell of fresh
Celebrating these times can be as easy as paying special attention to them when
they do happen, rather than taking them for granted. We can also pay homage to
these times by slowing down and allowing ourselves time to look around and
allow our hearts and mind to take in all of life’s wonders. Far too often, we
can let those simple moments of awe pass us by. And when we do, we lose the
happiness that can so easily be ours.
Throughout our lives, we must deal with change. Some changes are welcome
– like a new child; some are not – like cancer. There are changes in our lives
which are sudden, such as the unexpected passing of a loved one, an unforeseen
illness, the loss of a possession we treasure.
Yet the longer we live, the greater is our realization that life is
short. Opportunities come, and then they are gone. I plead with you not to let
those most important things pass you by. Instead, find joy in your journey—now.
Find happiness in the middle as well as the beginnings and endings.
“Be in love with your life. Every minute of it.” Jack
“Stay patient and trust your journey.”
Of course, there is no
going back, but only forward. Rather than dwelling on the past, let’s make the
most of today, of the here and now.
Pre-cancer it was easy to
be busy and take myself, my husband, others for granted, but when I knew my
days may be numbered, I did not want to be left with feelings of “what if” and
“if only.” Author Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote, “The bitterest tears shed over
graves are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone.” I knew I had to relish
life as I lived it, finding joy in the journey, and sharing my love with those
I initially neglected.
Some of you
may be familiar with Thornton Wilder’s classic dramaOur Town.If you are, you will remember the town
of Grover’s Corners, where the story takes place. In the play Emily Webb dies
in childbirth, and her husband, George, and their four-year-old son grieve the
loss of Emily. Emily does not wish to rest in peace; she wants to experience
again the joys of her life. She is granted the privilege of returning to earth
and reliving her 12th birthday. At first it is exciting to be young again, but
the excitement wears off quickly. The day holds no joy now that Emily knows
what is in store for the future. It is unbearably painful to realize how
unaware she had been of the meaning and wonder of life while she was alive.
Before returning to her resting place, Emily laments, “Do … human beings ever
realize life while they live it—every, every minute?”
well-known author (Sarah Ban Breathnach), “Both abundance and lack [of abundance] exist
simultaneously in our lives, as parallel realities. It is always our conscious
choice which secret garden we will tend … when we choose not to focus on what
is missing from our lives but are grateful for the abundance that’s
present—love, health, family, friends, work, the joys of nature, and personal
pursuits that bring us [happiness]—the wasteland of illusion falls away and we
experience heaven on earth.”
The ancient Roman
philosopher Horace admonished, “Whatever hour God has blessed you with, take it
with grateful hand, nor postpone your joys from year to year, so that in
whatever place you have been, you may say that you have lived happily.”
Despite the changes which
come into our lives and but with gratitude in our hearts, may we fill our
days—as much as we can—with those things that matter most. “Whenever you find
yourself doubting how far you can go, just remember how far you have come.
Remember everything you have faced, all the battles you have won, all the fears
you have overcome.” Unknown
I’m not saying life is
hunky-dory and that you should put on rose-colored glasses, and see life as a
Pollyanna movie. I’m saying wallow in your sorrow, your pain, your anger, your
fear, your anxiety, and then put it down and move forward; let it go.
Now that’s easier said than
done – last month was freak-out month! September is when I found my tumor, and
all my surgery, etc., happened that month. On top of this, I began teaching
another semester at UVU, and another chaplain was questioning my ability to
think clinically. And as often as I took deep breaths, went for walks,
exercised, wrote, and prayed, I could not calm myself down. Even Ativan worked
only temporarily (I only use in Sept. and April). My angst became a bigger
issue than my issues! Finally (why didn’t I think of this earlier) I pulled out
this worksheet, and with a friend, we walked through the steps. It was then I
felt like I could put my burdens down. That and school is going fine, my
mammograms are clear, and the chaplain was asked by someone above us both to
struggle is part of your story.” How do you define your struggle? How is it a
part of your journey?
Surprised by Joy is a book written by C.S. Lewis.
This is a recollection of his coming to faith. He talks about how joy was
something he searched for and experienced in brief “stabs.” He tried often to
induce joy by reliving the things that had at one point or another given him
My favorite quote from the book is, “All
joy reminds. It is never a possession, always a desire for something longer ago
or further away or still 'about to be.” In the end he realizes those “stabs of
joy” were the everyday happenings, just like sign posts that were leading him
in the right direction. Upon this realization, Lewis was more at peace, not so
preoccupied with trying to find and experience joy.
It will be interesting to look back
on this chapter of our lives in 5 years – I wonder if we will have clarity to
see the reason behind all of it, to understand the pieces that needed to come
together to get us to where we are supposed to be.
our life's journey to look for the joy instead of dwelling on the negatives,
joy that is possible because we are loved by God.” Max Lucado
As much as
I really hate cancer, and some days I’m really pissed that I am a “cancer
survivor,” I’m blessed for the lessons I’ve learned and continue to learn.
Happiness is where I want to be, regardless of how long I have to live. I am
Won’t you join me in happiness, not toward,
but wallowing in the beauty of living in the present, and being grateful for
My sincere hope is that we
may adapt to the changes in our lives, that we may realize what is most
important, that we may express our gratitude always and in doing so find joy in
the journey. Live my friends, dream and live.