Thursday, February 28, 2013

On completing chemo, and thoughts on healing journeys

We leap from the lion’s head on trembling legs. We breathe deep of belief, and crest into the clouds with wings we are only barely beginning to grow. We step off the cliff with no idea what’s below, if anything at all. We dive in at the deep end with absolutely no guarantees that this thing we’ve chosen will work. We embrace what will be hard, maybe even impossible, and grow it in our hearts, knowing that this is the thing that stands between us and death. 

In the process, we can become faithful, faith-filled creatures. We can begin to carry a bag of this essence with us everywhere we go, and hold it gentle as a baby bird, not wishing to crush it or see it flutter away. We can hold it and hold it and hold it, never grasping. We can see that we get the opportunity to hold it for the rest of our lives, so that it is always available to draw upon or to give a bit away to others who may need something similar themselves.

We can still have moments when we get depressed, furious, crazed, confused, frightened, stressed out, worried, doubtful. We all have our moments. This is how it should be. The good news is, we have easier access now to the antidote than we did before. Reach back into the bag of your essence. Breathe. All is well. Honor the dark. Embrace it all. It exists so that we can remember the glory of the light.

This is what healing can be like. This is why it can change you -- if you honor it, if you love it, if you are vulnerable to it -- forever. And, I don’t just mean physical healing. I mean any kind of healing journey that you may find yourself on. There is always the opportunity to love yourself a little more, to care just a bit more for some piece of your beautiful, unique soul, to take the next step in creating something magical that is just waiting to emerge from your heart.

No matter how much faith you had before, no matter how much belief played a role in your life, in an instant, it can shift to become even greater. You can shift. You may find you are no longer solely faithful in an unseen force who you hope can do FOR you, but rather, you may discover you are now awake to that force and your ability to co-create alongside it in a new way, immersed in it, at one with it. You may find you create your reality day by day, in love and in faith, knowing that truly, all is well, no matter how it may look or feel. You may find it looks exactly the opposite for you. Or, that it has an entirely different flavor all together. 

For me, 5 months after “the diagnosis”, my life looks like an ever-expanding rainbow of co-creation, and it feels like a deep ocean of gratitude to still be here putting my bare feet on the floor every morning, and to know, I’ll get the chance to do that at least a little bit longer.

Yesterday, I finished the final 8th of 8 chemo treatments. In a short while, there will most likely be a little more surgery, and then, around 7 weeks of radiation therapy will begin. 

This journey of healing beyond triple negative breast cancer is not a short one, and at the same time, in the grand scheme of the universe, it happens in the blink of an eye. As one of my doctor’s teased, “We cut you, then we poison you, and finally we irradiate you!” 

In addition to the conventional Western healing methods, there will be more Reiki, more yoga, more cardio, more shamanic healing, more meditation, more green juice and raw food, more soul work. Beyond that will be years of living in faith and hope: knowing that all is well, believing that I am can’t-sir free, honoring my body wisdom when others around me have way less certainty and a bucketful of doubt. There will be moments of the exact opposite of all this, and there will be moments of reaching into that faith-filled bag to return to center. And through it all, all is well.

Ahead of me, I see another cliff, and there is no bridge and no viable means of crossing, but when I reach to touch my shoulder blades, I can feel those nubbins of wings, and I know it’s all good. 

I have accepted that there will not be a point any time soon when someone supporting my physical healing declares, “That’s it! You’re there. You’re can’t-sir free!” They just don’t tell you stuff like that in the early days. And it’s all early days until it isn’t.

I’m learning to be really, really good with this. First of all, it reminds me that the time of allowing anyone else to declare anything about me that could affect my awareness of my self, of my identity, of my healing, of my own body, is something that lives in the past. We learn to live our lives waiting for a stamp of approval from someone else on just about everything we do, even the smallest things like proper eyebrow shaping, but really, is any of that what gives us the sense of calm peace that we so crave? Or is it just one way we’ve learned first to disempower ourselves, and then, to shortcut doing our work? Second, I understand that I have the power to describe my health and my wholeness, and anything else about myself, using any words I choose, and unfold a life fueled by that awareness. So I choose to do that. I choose to do the work, or as the actor and Zen student Jeff Bridges suggests, I choose to blend play and work and do the “plork”. I see I’m lucky I get to be here at all to make a choice at all. What a magical, unimaginable gift is the power of choice.

There is truly no destination in this game, only a journey that spirals on. Yesterday was a milestone on one piece of my journey, and I chose to celebrate it. Today, I choose to keep celebrating, for just as yesterday contained its milestone, so today will have its own, and so tomorrow will have its own again. It’s important to take that time to savor, to enjoy, to relish the fabric and texture of our lives. For I know that so very soon, I will indeed stand on the edge of the next cliff, take a deep, full breath, and leap once again into the unknown, winging away into that great space that holds so much possibility and potential.

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