April 10th, 2006

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Good Morning!

I am dreaming of bridges, a wonderfully symbolic gesture of transition and absorption. I also dream this morning that I am wearing a floppy rose-pink hat that flies off my head, and stops all traffic on both sides of the freeway. Everyone runs to look for it, and a party develops, and my hat is found. I then easily cross to where I am going. This bridge rises, so I can pass, and float across an inner sea. It all feels wonderfully symbolic, and so, I am still a bit with my dreams this morning.

I am also appreciating the extra time this morning before radiation. My appointment is at 9:45 today.  I feel peace in that, and I see now the sun is just hitting a part of the trunks of the redwood trees. It would be lovely to have some sun and blue skies today and the green of Ireland is lovely also.  Ah, now the sun is gone, but, that small tidbit of sunlight reminds me of this poem by Alberto Rios.

A Chance Witnessing of the Morning Animal

The mid-January day's morning
Light comes slowly, stretching itself

Before standing, arms first, hands next,
Fingers beyond that, nails even farther.

In this light, this bare stretch of light out of dark,
The sun catches with its sharp reaches

The top of the heights of the trees first,
The highest single leaves caught in slivers and crisp,

Sudden and barely as if they were a mouse
Each one, illuminated in the talons of a rising hawk,

Some white suddenly, and some red and some brown,
With a slight flutter of movement in the high breeze,

Each of the tops of these apricot and peach and pecan,
The tops of the desert plum in this far cold end of autumn,

Everything helpless in those first wild
Leafless few seconds of morning,

The light shining just across
The highest tips of the leaves, then into them,

Through them, into their suddenly disembodied twigs,
The bones of the leaves pierced with radiance, severed,

Floating in the barbed animal grasp of this momentary light,
Lifted up, almost, lifted up and apart from this world

Until not a second later the great tide of light
Finds in everything the beginnings of its vast shore -

And the first wave makes its crash,
A crash so great that sound cannot serve it.

This poem takes my breath away, massages, and yes, "a crash so great that sound cannot serve it."   This poem is a bridge.  I lie down as this bridge and all walk across me, little animals and insects and bugs.  They look around, and connect the sides of me I was not able to see without this crashing wave of light.
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Checking in -

 I feel close to tears for some reason right now, and not.  Acknowledging the tears, they dry out.  It is like a touch of the sun, though, again, we are in soft rain.    So, I re-create my morning, because it demonstrates  synchronicity. 

I drive up to South Eliseo.  There is a new artwork display.  I see that the Azaleas have been removed from the meditation garden. I realize now they were for the party. I actually like the simplicity of the garden without them. They were too bright for the space. They blocked the beautiful lines of the stones and plants.

I feel how I am dragging. I look at the puzzle but feel no desire to play. Only the outline is in place. I feel fatigue.

I look around and see that the waiting area is provided as a gift from Autodesk. I wonder what motivated such an odd gift.

I open the book I brought with me, Catching the Thread, Sufism, Dreamwork & Jungian Psychology by Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee.  It jumped off the shelf at me this morning after I checked out the symbolism of bridges and hats.  Hats symbolize identity.  How interesting that my identity was returned to me in the dream, and the idea of the bridge is a quest accomplished.  It fits, or so it seems.

I read from the introduction to Vaughan-Lee's book.  "Dreams are like mirrors in which we can see ourselves.  They reflect back our hidden self, revealing the true face of our own nature."  It goes on, and, then, says, "And when we wake, our dreams can be a doorway through which we can walk back into this inner world, can step into the landscape of the soul."  "It is through this inner landscape that the spiritual traveler must find his or her way."

In the words of St. Augustine:

    People travel to wonder at the height of the mountains, at the huge waves of the sea, at the long compass of rivers, as the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motion of the stars, and they pass by themselves without wondering.

With that, I go in for my treatment.  A woman is back from vacation, so it is her voice that will guide me now, not Anna's.  Anna touches me though and calls me "Punkin."  We are happy to see each other.  I have pictures taken today, so it is a longer process.  Then, the treatment where I am first radiated bare, and then, with what feels like a wet jellyfish flopped across my chest, so I am flattened, and every part gets touched.  The big eye moves, and all is done again in a new spot.  I lie there feeling depressed.  The novelty has worn off, and I am tired of this.  This is my seventh one, a day of rest I think to myself, though I have had two days of rest, but I don't feel rested.  I feel tired and depressed.

They tell me I have not escaped the Social Services person.  She was running late on Friday, so she is waiting for me today.  Oh, joy.  I don't need social services.  I am angry.   The garden is wet.  Perfect!  I like it wet.  I sit there angry, wanting a life outside this place.  Two elderly wives wait for their husbands, and talk about what their husbands have been through.  They are so glad their husbands don't have to do chemo.  Two of us sit there with no hair.  What is there to say?   My mood does not improve. 

And, then, Sandy appears, and leads me to her room.  She is a therapist.  If I had seen her Friday, I would have said all was well, but, today, is perfect, as all doesn't feel well.  I am angry.  I want to feel good.  I want hair.  I don't want to be here.  She is really good.  She has led support groups for cancer patients for years.  She knows how I feel.  I want to do cancer well.  I am at a new stage.  I want to do it right.  I want my "normal" life.  I am trying to do all I did before, and have these appointments and I can't do it all, and I feel sad.  She helps me understand that I am still in it, and I will be for a long, long  time.  I won't feel truly well for a long time.  It doesn't just end.  She also emphasizes over and over again that I didn't cause this, and I can't prevent it.  This is the luck of the draw.  I need to learn to understand that.  I sit with that.  Okay, I didn't cause this and I can't prevent it.  This is the luck of the draw.  This is the luck of the draw.  Hmmph!!   Do I feel better because of that?  I am not sure, but I do see that it is about acceptance and letting go.  She says to use as my guide, "Moderation in all things, including moderation."  I understand.  

I realize as I talk to her that I need to talk to my sons, and ask them how this has been for them.  I need to talk to Steve and my friends.  How has this been for you?  How are you now?   How am we now?  I have the energy to ask now.  I have some energy to listen, and absorb, and maybe even support.  I want an exchange again.  I've been receiving.  I want to give something back. 

Sandy suggests I give myself some "Pity Parties," so, today, I may sit and cry. I guess I am feeling it all now, letting go, and feeling it.  I am tired of hearing about cancer.  I am tired of wearing a sign on my head, like the cap on my head that says cancer.  I want to be normal, and so we talk about what normal means to me.

Sandy says people expect some great transformation with cancer.  They want to emerge tranformed.  Yep, that sounds good to me.  People  think they are going to be different, but the bills still need to be paid, and the house cleaned, and food brought in.  Maybe that is what I am having to face.  I have put some things off.  I am going to ask for an extension on the taxes.  I can't face doing them this week, but I have kept things up.  I have navigated the worlds of this one and the spacy one., and the scary one.   I guess I am doing okay.  This is normal or why would they have a therapist on staff, and how amazing that today, a day where I really do feel angry and upset, is my day to meet with her.  So, I will see her next Monday, too, and I will offer kindness to myself.  I'm doing okay.  I am okay, and, to return to the, I believe it was  the 70's, so are you!!  Take care, and let us all enjoy the rain, since, again, today, it is here.
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Mandu -

Mandu could not be doing better. He is eating well, and happy as can be. He is especially affectionate, since my experience with the horses. He wants me to know that he is better than any horse, and can satisfy all my needs. He says we don't need a horse around here.

Mandu got sick when I had my last chemo treatment. I sense that somehow he wore down along with me. He kept trying to make me feel better, and then, there was a place he couldn't, so if you know anyone undergoing chemo who has a close pet, I would suggest they notice if there is an effect or affect on their pet. They want to cheer us up, and I wonder if with treatment after treatment, Mandu wore down. The vet found nothing wrong, and now, as I feel better, so does he. It is to consider. He is doing great!!
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Opening of the Heart!

I received this announcement from John Fox and the Institute for Poetic Medicine today. I watched the trailer. It is chilling. Check it out.

You're invited to view a film that looks at the trauma of war with poetry, Voices in Wartime. This film will be broadcast on TV-both nationally and in Washington DC, nationally on Link TV - available from DIRECTV® satellite Channel 375 and Echostar DISH® Network satellite Channel 9410,

Monday, April 10 5:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.

Watch an online (2 minute trailer and 12 minute short ) at www.openingoftheheart.org

Listen to or download poems from the film (Ipod, mp3) at www.openingoftheheart.org

Film insights:

S.F. Bay Guardian: "may prove to be the most startlingly literate document of war ever created for film."

New York Times: "an elegant statement not only about the devastation of war but also about poetry's power to amaze."

TV Guide: "filled with some of the most powerful poetry and shattering images ever to come out of warfare" and "required viewing."

New York Post: "a fascinating idea" and "a moving documentary."
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William James -

"Man is made or unmade by himself. In the armory of thought he forges the weapons by which he destroys himself. He also fashions the tools with which he builds for himself heavenly mansions of joy and strength and peace."

-- William James
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Checking in -

I fell asleep with Mandu on my lap and we had a good, warm nap.

I think Sandy, with her probing and comments today, touched on many things I had not looked at or thought about, and that was good and also exhausting. She said I will worry the cancer will come back. I actually had not thought I was thinking of that, but, perhaps somewhere I was. It feels good to have her say it. She is very blunt about how crummy this is. I guess I don't let myself feel it that way very often. I usually look at what I have gained from it, but today, I hit some wall of exhaustion. I literally couldn't do anything this afternoon and so I rested in the chair with Mandu. There is a bird singing in my yard, one I have never heard before. I know my bird expert friends could tell me who is singing there, but, in some ways, it is delightful to know this new sound without knowing who is producing it. He sang most of the afternoon. I talked to Jeff, and found great comfort in that. Chris and I will have a good, long talk on Saturday when he comes for Easter. We fell into this, all of us, and now, perhaps, we can talk about how it felt, and how it feels now, and what is to come. I said to Karen today it seems I should create a celebration but I am too tired. She said it can come in a year, not now, and, that is so. I am letting myself be with how exhausted I am, and that is good, and there is tonight, and tomorrow, and all new ways to feel how I be. For now, I am okay with fatigue. Mandu is still asleep. He is quite the teacher of how to be.

Jeff says rain is predicted for eight more days. It sounds like a wet Easter is in the forecast, and so it is. : )
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Evening -

I am feeling well tonight. Sleep and talking help.

A friend is taking a class where the assignment this week is to write a poem from a dream, so I felt inspired to write a poem of my morning dream. I suggest it to you too.

Dream When Chemo Completes

I am waiting for the bridge to lift
so I can sail on through,
when my rose-pink floppy hat blows off,
and wings across,
at a dizzying pace,
eight freeway lanes.
I would let it go, but traffic stops,
and people run to find my hat.
They gather, then, to party,
open food and wine, and dance,
and when my hat returns,
they return to what they had
before the flurrying pace began.
I place the hat upon my head,
identity resumed.
The bridge is up,
Time to travel through.