April 20th, 2006

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I am struggling with exhaustion today. I am fatigue.

Today was my day for Sandy, the therapist, and it was appropriate  she be there today, as I have been reasonably perky all week, but I drug myself up there today. My breast hurts, and I am tired. "Natural," she says. I am still not recovered from chemo. This will take a year. Be kind to myself. All the usual, and I drive home feeling lighter. It is hard to get up and go up there first thing.  It is not a motivation to get out of bed, and leave my dreams.  I am not waking up naturally, but am deeply involved in complex other worlds, and now that there is pain, it is even harder to muster enthusiasm to drive up there.

When I comment on the pain, they say I am half-way through this part.  There are 27 of what I am currently having, which is intense and is long radiation from two sides, both exposed and, then,  flattened with the jellyfish.  The last six will be intense focus in one spot.  I guess I am supposed to be excited I am half-way through this part, but what I am feeling is pain and fatigue, and concern about the last six. 

Plus, today, I arrive up there and notice a sign outside,  "Marin Cancer Institute." It is huge. I wonder if I been in denial this whole time, not seeing this sign, and not recognizing that each day I was coming to the Marin Cancer Institute. It turns out the sign is new as of yesterday.  I'm not in denial. They also have installed a new speed bump as you leave. Perfect! It feels just right to have your teeth jarred out of your head as you leave the Marin Cancer Institute. Bah, Humbug, I say.

Sandy and I keep saying in the course of our conversation, well of course, I'm not up to snuff, and then, we wonder what the heck that means, "up to snuff."

So, in case you are wondering about the origin, here it is, straight from the web and World Wide Words. 

“What is the origin of the phrase up to snuff?”

    The snuff here is tobacco: nothing to do with the verb meaning to extinguish. Several colloquial phrases are recorded that used the word snuff, most of which date from the early part of the nineteenth century in Britain, when snuff-taking was still common, but less fashionable than it had been fifty years before.

    The first meaning of up to snuff was somebody who was sharp, not easily fooled. This may have come from the idea of snuff being itself a sharp preparation, but perhaps because it was mainly taken by men of adult years and some affluence (it was expensive) who would be able to appreciate the quality of snuff and distinguish between examples of different value. The evidence isn’t there to be sure about its exact origin, though an early form of the phrase was up to snuff and a pinch above it, which at least confirms it did indeed relate to tobacco.

    Whatever its origin, the meaning of the phrase shifted slightly after a while to imply somebody who was efficient and capable; later still it often meant that something was up to standard, or of the required quality. It was in this sense very similar to another expression of the time, up to scratch. This comes from prize-fighting, in which the scratch was the line across the floor that a contestant had to touch with his toe to indicate he was ready to fight.

So, now, you have it.  I am not "up to snuff."

While waiting, I read Time magazine for this week.  The last essay is on birthday parties for 16 year old girls, which are shown on TV, and some of which cost $200,000.  One has to wonder.   Rome truly is on fire.

So, saying how tired I am, I feel better.   One of the women who aligns me and draws on me has two 8 year olds and she says how hard it is to get them out of bed in the morning.  She is feeling it will get easier, and I tell her it gets harder.  I say I think many of our young people, especially in high school, are sleep deprived.  I know how that feels now.  I feel sleep deprived, and I see that I am alternating days of energy now. I feel well, and push, and, then, the next day need to rest.  Tomorrow is a full day for me - radiation, horses, and my book group at night, so rest is appropriate today.  Can I be kind to myself today, and allow it?  Well, we shall see, won't we?  Part of me wants to start jumping up and down, and another part knows I need to rest.  I am worn out.  I hope you are feeling energetic today, and all work is play. 
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Appropriate for today -

For the unconscious always tries to produce an impossible situation in order to force the individual to bring out his very best. Otherwise one stops short of one’s best, one is not complete, one does not realize oneself. What is needed is an impossible situation where one has to renounce one’s own will and one’s own wit and do nothing but wait and trust to the impersonal power of growth and development.
When you are up against a wall, be still and put down roots like a tree, until clarity comes from deeper sources to see over that wall.

Carl Jung

I found myself today feeling how I didn't used to push myself to my limits, and how now, I am up against them again and again. I have no reserve, so when I hit the wall, there is nothing there. This morning, I just wanted to sit and cry. Now, I know I can "be still and put down roots like a tree, until clarity comes from deeper sources to see over that wall."

This morning I felt so tired, I felt dizzy. Again, I see. "Be still and put down roots like a tree, until clarity comes from deeper sources to see over that wall." I read those words over and over, my mantra for today. May your roots be deep, and your sight long in seeing over the walls, like the wind held in the arms of the breeze.
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A joke for today!!

A man enters a bar and orders a drink. The bar has a robot bartender.

The robot serves him a perfectly prepared cocktail, and then asks him, "What's your IQ?" The man replies "150" and the robot proceeds to make conversation about global warming factors, quantum physics and spirituality, bio mimicry, environmental interconnectedness, string theory, nano-technology, and sexual proclivities.

The customer is very impressed and thinks, "This is really cool." He decides to test the robot. He walks out of the bar, turns around, and comes back in for another drink. Again, the robot serves him the perfectly prepared drink and asks him, "What's your IQ?" The man responds, "about a 100." Immediately the robot starts talking, but this time, about football, NASCAR, baseball, cars, beer, guns, and breasts.

Really impressed, the man leaves the bar and decides to give the robot one more test. He heads out and returns, the robot serves him and asks, "What's your IQ?" The man replies, "Er, 50, I think."

And the robot says... real slowly... "So..........ya .....gonna......vote......for......Bush......again???"
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Art and Healing!

Tom Curtis painted Blue Period for Elaine before she went into surgery.

Check it out at this web-site. http://www.absolutearts.com/portfolios/p/postmodern/

It is the third one down on the left.

I can't believe how amazingly he captures the feeling, and the hope. The image is engraved in my mind, and helping me today with my own healing. All that, surrounds me all the time.

Sandy, the therapist, spoke today, of how my life right now is my body and how it is doing. When we don't feel well, it is hard to move out beyond that, and yet, I feel myself here, and also with Cindy Sheehan at Camp Casey. I admire what she is doing, and the changes she strives to make. I truly believe that we can come to see Peace on Earth in our lifetimes. I feel we are coming to understand that it begins within, each day spent more and more in peace, and that translates outward. May we each experience novelty and ease.
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Heron Dance!

This comes from Heron Dance today. I receive it by email and snail mail. It is worth checking out. This seems, again, particularly appropriate for me today.
You can subscribe at heron@herondance.org.   

FIRST person I met who made philosophy understandable, and the study of it natural. It was she who led me through the works of Camus and showed me, for the first time, how life and suffering are always teachers, or, as with Camus, life and suffering and joy. Like Rilke, I came to understand that even loneliness has a use and that sadness is positively a wellspring of creativity. Since studying with her, all of life, the sadness as well as the joy, has its magnificence, its meaning, and its use.

Alice Walker, from a speech to the 1972 graduating class of Sarah Lawrence college, talking of a teacher who had made a difference in her life.


I must love the questions
as Rilke said
like locked rooms
full of treasure
to which my blind
and groping key
does not yet fit.

and await the answers
as unsealed
mailed with dubious intent
and written in a very foreign

and in the hourly making of myself
no thought of Time
to force, to squeeze
the space
I grow into.

by Alice Walker from her book, Anything We Love Can Be Saved

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more -

The mind I love must still have wild places, a tangled orchard where the dark damsons drop in the heavy grass, an overgrown little woods, the chance of a snake or two (real snakes), a pool that nobody’s fathomed the depth of—and paths threaded with those little flowers planted by the mind.
                                        Katherine Mansfield

Yesterday, one of the young women at the stables told us where there was a small snake. It had already wiggled away, but I am happy to know it is there. Happy wiggling in and out of space today.
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Stimulation -

I sit outside and eat my breakfast on the front deck. Breakfast has a bit fallen by the way-side in my rush to get up there each day, so is a bit late today. As I sit outside, I feel how over-stimulated my nervous system feels. Driving over today, a truck pulled right in front of me because an SUV pulled out in front of him. I slammed on my brakes, as he honked away at the woman in the SUV. She was completely oblivious. I don't think she even realized what she did, even with his beeping horn, and slamming about. He was angry, and I guess I was too. The world seems a crazy place.

Sitting outside, the craziness of all this came back to me. I continue to read reports and studies on every side of what I am doing. I don't know that Arimidex is the right thing, and yet, there is no discussion of it at Marin Cancer Care. To them, it is a no-brainer. They are clear. I feel caught in something I don't understand. As I sit outside, I see weeds have popped up in these few days of sunlight. I reach and pull, stand, bend, and pull, moving around like a grazing cow. Mostly the weeds come right up from the damp soil. A few take an extra tug. I remember looking at the weeds when I was in chemo. I had no energy to pull them. Now, I do.

I also note that hair comes in from the top of the body down. Today is the first day I see the beginnings of a soft fuzz of pubic hair. I still don't have to shave my legs, though the hair on my head is filling in nicely. I am pleased.
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William Rivers Pitt -

Today William Rivers Pitt writes of his morning prayer or song being for Cindy Sheehan, a hope that she gets all that she wants, a place where her son's death is recognized for how unnecessary it was, and a world where no more sons or daughters needlessly die. It works for me. I honor her loss, and will remember each morning how important it is that each day I do honor her loss and her work for change. May all she is doing fulfill in peace and regime change here.

Sean Wilentz, a historian, wrote an article for Rolling Stone, pointing out that most historians see Bush as the worst president in history. I suppose we can see this crisis as one of opportunity, a chance to step in and gently thrust this historical travesty away. And then, we need the Democrats to awake or we need a third party to take the reins and lead us in a 21st century way of which we can feel proud, not ashamed. I would like to be able to travel to other countries without apology, and to one day, see us all unite under one world flag.

I find the current complaints about the Chinese using too much energy amazing. It's one round ball of a planet. Awake!
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Shower Juice!!

"Everyone who has ever taken a shower has had an idea. It's the person who gets out of the shower, dries off, and does something about it that makes a difference."

-- Nolan Bushnell