May 11th, 2006

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Good Morning!!

I am in some discomfort this morning, and I feel how the pain keeps me present. I am right here, in this moment. Perhaps, that is a good thing. It is a like a little hammer saying Now, Now, Now.

I keep swearing I will put no more politics on the blog, and then, I come to my computer and read this. "The government has abruptly ended an inquiry into the warrantless eavesdropping program because the National Security Agency refused to grant Justice Department lawyers the necessary security clearance to probe the matter."

Ack!! I don't even click to read more about it. It is enough, and the birds are singing, and the fog is flowing in and out, and Chopin is on the stereo. What a miracle that is! Chopin in playing in my house. Life is amazing!

I read the article in the New Yorker yesterday on Whole Foods, and what a billion dollar business it is. They are considering Michael Pollan's comments on what is sustainable. Organic food from another country, or even across the country, is using an incredible amount of fossil fuel to get here, and the point is to consider everything we ingest as sacred. I seem to do that well when it is a piece of good chocolate, and I am trying to transfer the thought and experience to all my food, and to most of my breaths.

I notice each night the moon is getting bigger. Wow! I am so impressed with the moon. I love following it in the sky. I am trying, and not trying, to live more aware, and the pain comes in and says here. The pain says that is why I am here. To remind you that you are here, and the moon and the sun entwine in lifting my eyes to the sky and the stars.
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Radiation -

I want to again emphasize that this is my experience. Some women have no problem with radiation, but my area is so big, because of the lymph node involvment, and my skin is so fair, and they are trying to get as much as they can, and it has affected each area differently, so there are a lot of ways I am feeling pain. As I said, it is like a symphony with different instruments offering their notes. I feel like a wounded bird, with my left arm tucked in to protect, and I will be fine. It has just been a rough few days. I am soon off to my fifth from the end treatment. May we all savor the enchantment of this day.
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Spring -

There is a lovely editorial in the NY Times today on how lovely this May is. This is the last line of the article.

"Our wish is simply that this spring be seasonable, perfectly extraordinary in its ordinariness."

I like that, "perfectly extraordinary in its ordinariness." Isn't that what we each look for? May it be even more so today.

Live extraordinary in your ordinariness, of which, of course, there is none, since we are all so spectacular, and yet we are this catchy combination of human and divine.
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It's National "Eat What You Want" Day!!

NPR offers all sorts of useful information. Not only is it National Eat What You Want Day, but it is also Salsa Month.

It is many other things, also, but that is what I remember from the list as I was sitting stopped at yet another traffic light. I am starting to feel like people live in their cars. Why do we have houses? Oh, so there is a place for the housecleaners and the gardeners to go. I'm sure that must be an only in southern Marin kind of statement, but I leave with those going to work and dropping their kids off, and return with the gardeners, contractors and housecleaners. I am getting a bit warped in my view of the world.

So, at radiation, I point out that I am in pain, and I say I am trying to understand why this was supposed to easier. I say that as the machine is rammed in tightly against me, and my arm is pulled up even more to make room for it. Ah, not easier, it seems. I misunderstood. Different. There is no controlled breathing this way, and once the machine is set up, there is just the one minute, startling, blast. Of course, there is still the writing on me which is very painful at this point and manipulation, and yes, it will continue to get more sore. Ah, I see, different is not always better, and, again, we are in cumulative, and the discomfort continues after we are done. It is like the eyelashes falling out after my last chemo. Oh, this is fun. I will get more and more radiant. I am happy to know I light up the dark.

It is faster though. I get to hit the rush hour traffic both ways this way, north and south. I get in the car when I am finished, a brownie in my hand. It is another woman's last day. It seems many of us are finishing near the same time, but there will be a new crop to replace us. Anyway, on the radio is a man giving his comment on his chemo experience. He has a lot of D words to describe it. I can't remember them all now - dismal, depressing, debilitating. He speaks of feeling left out, and wondering if he is doing the right thing. He says if he weren't doing chemo, he would feel good. He could be in Hawaii drinking Mai Tai's. Why am I doing it, he asks, and then, he says he has always been a gambler, but he never expected to be playing Russian Roulette. My feelings exactly. I drive out of the Marin Cancer Institute, over the speed bump, and make my right turn as I listen to his comments on the misery of chemo, and how it is Russian Roulette. No wonder I feel so sad, brutalized, and traumatized. I was too sick to feel it before, but I am feeling it now, and I feel sad.

My hair is coming in, and people are very complimentary, and I don't look like me, the me I remember. I talk to the woman who finishes today. She is still wearing her hat, but shows me her hair coming in. It is coming in gray, and she doesn't think she will dye it as she did before. We both agree how easy it is to have no hair. She says she kept arriving everywhere 20 minutes early, and then, she realized it was because she had nothing to do with her hair. Can we give that up?

I look at myself, and yes, it is an interesting look, but I realize I never had time to grieve the loss of my hair, to say good-bye to that happy, care-free woman. She is no longer here. It isn't that I am not happy, and, of course, I can say, that I am joyous and that joy contains the sorrow, but there is a new gravity. I woke today thinking of my writing. It floated. I re-read my otter story yesterday, and found myself grounding it. The lightness has more depth, more shadow. It means there are trees. Imagine the light without trees to hold it, display it, and interrrupt it to shadow and play in the leaves. I know that is a good thing and I am grieving the woman I was. I liked my hair, and I feel like I didn't have time to say good-bye. I know we did some rituals, and we all gathered round when it was cut, but I was in some kind of false gaity, that nervous laughter place. I guess now I am grounding my sorrow. I am sad. I remember there was a long time where I had no tears. It was like chemo dried them up. Oddly, radiation is letting them flow.

I was reading about Bush and how he is such a take-charge kind of guy, and how we might admire that. Of course, as we all know, "Ignorance is bliss." Bush thinks dictatorship is a good way to go, when he is the dictator. I think we would all like that, a world constructed to our desires, but, how, then, would we learn? We learn from those who view the world differently than we do. We observe, react, respond. That is life, the definition of life, response to stimulus, to touch, to light, texture. Feeling rounds there. I would not like the world to be made up of six billion and counting me's. One of me is enough, and I am grateful for the one's of you. Take care, and appreciate fully the complexities of this day, while also reveling in the simplicity where all is one.

Four more treatments to go, and I am told, a couple more weeks of pain, and in a month, I "should" feel pretty good. I am sure that will be so.
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Where might your vote be?

What Is the Best Work of American Fiction of the Last 25 Years?

"Beloved," by Toni Morrison was chosen as the best American fiction of the last 25 years. Runners up were: Philip Roth, Cormac McCarthy, John Updike and Don DeLillo.

By THE NEW YORK TIMES

Early this year, the Book Review's editor, Sam Tanenhaus, sent out a short letter to a couple of hundred prominent writers, critics, editors and other literary sages, asking them to please identify "the single best work of American fiction published in the last 25 years."

THE WINNER:
Beloved

Toni Morrison
(1987)
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Checking in -

I saw Dr. Myers today, an acupuncturist and Naturopathic doctor. My purpose was to deal with the numbness and tingling in my feet, but I see that it is time now to step more fully into the other kind of doctoring. She confirmed how traumatic radiation is, and I got a chance to really feel what my body has been through. I can now begin to rebuild.

Lying on the table, the first thing I noticed was that I could lie there and turn my head to the right, as a baby would do when it breast feeds. When I am in the radiation machine, my head lies in a little metal basket. I am not supposed to move. I also learned how out of touch with my own breath I have become with so many orders on how to breathe in order to move my heart out of the way and accomodate the machine. That is a nerve-wracking experience, especially for someone who wants to do everything right, like I do. Also, the left side of my body is in so much shock that as I lay on the table with my teeth chattering as I let go, I felt the tears fall first from the right eye, and then, the left. I realized the tears have been falling only on the right side. The left side of my body has been frozen. I have felt traumatized, and I truly have been. I am starting to feel what I have been through, and I have been a good soldier throughout, and that was necessary and now, I can let go.

Dr. Myers also emphasized how my cells are being destroyed, and how I need more rest to heal, so I have a prescription for naps as well as other things. I'll begin more thoroughly next week when the radiation is done, but for now I have a chance to balance left and right, up and down, and back and forth. I have been holding myself together. I am ready to start letting go.

Jeff, Steve and I had lunch at D'Angelos and that was fun and now it is time for my nap. It seems Mandu's medicine has been right on track, and here he is to be sure I take a nap with him sweetly snuggled on my lap.
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Checking in -

After a deep and wondrous two hour nap, I feel much better. I think in some ways I have been sleep-deprived. I have always been a morning person and awakened perky, but with this, I am off my normal sleep patterns, and I rise from bed not feeling fully rested, and yet, I have to rush around and get up the freeway. This morning, I felt like I was in training to be a monk, in that place of never feeling fully rested. I feel more rested now.

I really am doing fine, and I think I needed to let go a bit, and feel what I have been through. I had to hold myself together to do this, and now, it is ending, and I am letting go, and so I can feel the trauma and invasiveness of these procedures. We don't even know that there was any cancer there after the chemo and yet that poor area is being blasted with radiation and is now burned. What a thing to do to someone, and I understand why we do it, and I willingly agreed to it, and I need to recognize, that, once again, mind over matter doesn't always do it. Sometimes, just sleep is the best healer. I am setting intention for more rest.

I have also been surprised to see how much harder it is to think healing thoughts when the radiation blaster is right against my skin, and for one continuous time. Before, it was around 36 seconds, then, about ten, then, it moved, and again, 36, and 10. It may sound odd but a minute, under such circumstances, is a long, long time. I feel myself tensing to get away from it, again, not such a healthy thing. So, I will go tomorrow with some image I can create to view this machine differently. I will work on that tonight. I keep thinking about self-care. It seems to be something we have to learn, and keep learning. I am working with that, also, tonight. I hope you, too, are aware of your own self-care. May we all be happy, healthy, and well.
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more checking in -

More checking in, and I am checking in, not out.

I have some thoughts tonight, under  the gaze of this lovely moon with Jupiter shining, like a light, by it's side.

That I can say all of this, feel all of this, that I am letting go, is a very good thing.  I understand that.  I want you to understand it too.  

I am no longer barricaded against feeling the tears. Tears come, and today, when I was able to lie on the acupuncture table with the appropriate needles in place, and I could turn my head - well, I felt I was nursing on the breast of the universe. It felt so important to be able to turn my head after 29 treatments of radiation where I had to keep my head  in a hoop and look straight up, and straight up are the water lilies and the water bugs, and these people are sweet, sweet, sweet, and still, I had to look straight up. I cannot turn my head. I understand why, and today, was so important to me, to lie, face up and be able to turn my head and to drain out all that I have had to hold  to be able to do this. This is against our nature in so many ways, and yet, the desire to live  is so huge, so huge.

Vicki sent this to me yesterday. I haven't asked her permission to post it, and I am editing it, but I feel that the last line expresses what I am trying to say. The desire to live is so huge, in each one of us. We want to live.  Vicki's words:

I just finished listening to a recorded book by Simone de Beauvoir, called ":A Very Easy Death." It's about the death of her mother. . A line that has stuck with me, when Simone later was reflecting on the whole experience she talked about her mother's very deep Christian faith. Her faith was real and vital to her and yet in the end she didn't ask for a priest, didn't ask for last rites. Simone says some would have criticized her choice, would have said to her dying mother, "Look, you have cancer and you're going to die. You need to have last rites to save your soul."  Simone realized her mother needed to believe that she would improve, she needed to have hope. And this is what struck me:
"When one is passionately in love with life, the thought of eternal life is no compensation for death."

The woman who worked with me today seemed upset that her cousin chose chemo over a trip to Italy with his family when he was told he had a few more months to live.  I tried to explain to her how strong the desire to live is.  I have been stunned by it.  I would crawl for life;  I am crawling.  We want to live.  I'm not sure we always realize that, until it is threatened.  I keep meaning to re-read the book "Tuck Everlasting" since that is it's theme as I remember it, the value of the mortal life, the mortal, not the immortal.  Mortality.  Is that the grail?

Anyway, I am feeling well tonight.  The Rescue Remedy has kicked in and all is well with me.  I am going to be around to plague you for a long, long time.  I hope you are looking forward to that.   : )     

 Please, value the rhythm of your life that beats with such love and care, and which matters so much to all of us who are also beating with love and care.   We share one heart, and it is huge, and it loves to reflect the rhythm of the universe as it pulses in and out.    Swing on the pulse.    Laugh, sing, and shout.