I don’t even know what my words are right now. My stepson just had surgery yesterday and someone I love is going through a very hard time. I cannot be two places at once.
The past few years of my life have been a bit chaotic; it feels like several chapters of my life were being written at overlapping times. One of the things I have missed in all of the crazy is writing. I will be hitting the road tomorrow for a soul soothing visit with family… change of perspective… adventure to places I’ve never seen before… massive smack of the reset button. I want to take this time to get back in the habit of the things I have been missing. This is my first endeavor with the phone app for WordPress so I have no idea what to expect.
Time to finish packing. Namaste & POLO!!!
Last night I dreamed I was talking to Jerry Orbach at a workshop and telling him about the first time I ever sat through the credits of something to find out his real name. A young man kept trying to interrupt and would not stop when I motioned for him to wait just another moment for me to finish. I finally turned to focus my attention on him and he started berating me, telling me I communicated poorly and needed to expand my vocabulary. I lost it. I mean, really lost it. How dare this kid in gangsta gear, who couldn’t figure out that a waist band goes above the ass (not below), tell me in words so broken they were almost unrecognizable as English that I communicate poorly?!?! He towered over me but I grabbed him by the shirt and pulled his face down to mine then just started screaming like a banshee about having breast cancer, going through treatment, chemo brain, losing my home, just everything. I was so shocked by my own behavior I bolted upright in bed, startled awake.
Anyone who knows me understands how much this dream would bother me. I do not lose my temper much. I tend to stay very level and controlled. I rarely raise my voice in anger, much less, scream in rage. Logically, I understand exactly what the dream was about, and what inspired it to some degree. I’m not sure I can explain it completely without making this an unbearably long post. From 2007 to present my life has gone through so many major changes. I went from being as happy as I thought I would be allowed, quitting my stressful job and taking a part time job from home, an amazing trip to Burning Man with my husband, to returning home only to discover in the 5 weeks between my 40th birthday and 5th wedding anniversary that my partner needed to “leave or die”. Those things were closely followed by being laid off, then the breast cancer diagnosis a month later in April of 2010, surgery, chemo, the disappearance of people I thought were friends and, loss of my home in November of the same year. It was a lot to process and was complicated by the fact the poisons used to treat me turned my brain to mush. I could not think clearly or communicate. I used to write daily but my vocabulary was gone. I was feeling so many things but could not even put them into words. Luckily for me, with a lot of help from my friends, when I hit rock bottom I bounced.
What they don’t tell you about chemo brain is that it can take months, or years, to really recover. When I finally broke through that heavy veil in the spring of this year my head was so flooded with words it took months to sort out the constant inner chatter of processing my experience. By then I was pretty sure no one gave a damn about something that happened so long ago and I was overly self conscious about writing again or sharing my thoughts and feelings. Somehow, I had gone from being a strong and confident woman to being a terrified wallflower. Healthy but not yet healed. I’ve never fully talked to anyone about the “elephant in the vardo”.
Yesterday I was truly inspired by a woman I have always admired but have been out of touch with for quite some time. Her name is Sarla Nichols and I met her as the instructor of Sunday morning yoga classes before my entire world fell apart. Her class was always the highlight of my week and during all of these challenges I have craved that peace and calm but could no longer afford to go. My image of her was one of complete togetherness, balance, accomplishment, and serenity. Anyway, I was up early as usual yesterday and happened to be on Facebook when she shared a blog post. It was a beautiful reminder that we never know what goes on, or the struggles, in the secret lives of others or how sharing might help reignite someone else’s faltering flame. For me, it was another click of the tumblers unlocking a new level what I refer to as the Perpetual Lesson of Letting Go. I have to thank her once again for being an inspiration and adding to my courage bank. I have to thank her for reminding me why I end all of my posts with “Namaste & POLO!!!”. I am not alone and by sharing my voice I let others know they are not alone.
Thank you, Sarla! Thank you, Universe! Peace and light to all…
Namaste & POLO!!!
I cook bacon on a baking sheet in the oven. I always use that pan for some other purpose (such as baking chicken) so none of the flavorful yummy-ness is wasted. This time I decided to use that pan for roasting pumpkin seeds from the jack-o-lanterns carved by the Rents. I tossed the seeds in the bacon grease and they picked up the crunchy pan fronds while roasting.
Here is the delicious result…
And here is the creativity that freed them…
Happy snacking & POLO!!!
I have not written much about the experience of breast cancer. Chemo brain is a very serious and unsettling side effect for someone who likes to play with words. I lost about 75% of my vocabulary and communication was nearly impossible. I cried, a lot, and fought back by reading the dictionary and my thesaurus. Thankfully, I have gotten most of my words back. I cannot begin to describe the joy of being able to play with words again.
Anyway, here are some before, during and after photos.
This was taken about 7 months before I was diagnosed. We were at MFM and this was the last year before the con moved to the new hotel. I was completely bald the next year at MFM and had just gotten home from a 14 day stay on the Oncology Ward at Baptist Hospital.
This is me with my soul sister, Giddy Kitty, on the night Exene, Mike Dees and Jason Pulley played a benefit at Murphy’s to try to keep me afloat. I’d just lost my childhood home but I ended up in a fantastic home with an awesome family. This photo was taken in November of 2010.
I almost always wore short hair before so some friends who have not seen me in a while will be surprised how long it is now and how curly it came back.
It is early Sunday afternoon. The sun is shining, the wind is blowing, and the temp is perfect with a hoodie. Everything is quiet except for the wind in the trees, the wind chime behind me, and the birds above. It is so peaceful and serene. I’m sitting on the brick border of the bed along the shed and watching the flower heads dance on their stems in the wind while the chimes play us a song and the birds sing along. These images are what make me want to write children’s books and blog about gardening. I haven’t written much in such a long time. The chemo stole about 75% of my vocabulary and I was in a dark place for a long time. Finding my words and feeling the desire to write again fills me with a kind of bliss. Life isn’t perfect but it is a work in progress. The most important thing is that I am living life now instead of some unknown time in the future.
This is my favorite part of spring. The weather is still a little unpredictable and some days are still on the cool side. In between the winter storms that start pushing summer weather our direction and those tornado storms (right before the hell that is summer in the South), there are a few perfect spring days. Days like today. Every spring I have always let the back yard grow a bit taller than I should. I love all those different shades of green as everything bursts into chaotic life. And, I can never cut the grass too early because it would be a crime to behead thousands of regal wild violets.
Today is a Zen day. A spring breeze in my hair, the sun on my face, the song of nature in my ears. I used to be afraid of happiness. Learning to let go has been the hardest lesson to learn and the most valuable.
10 February 2008
“I’d rather be broke and fly to the moon.”
So, we were talking about having partners who are very creative and talented but seem to get stuck somewhere along the path to the dream. I got to thinking about it and realized that I too have found myself stuck on the path at times and started remembering the research and soul searching I did to see if I could find any answers. There are some things that we all seem to have in common.
First is that we have come from backgrounds of having people give us negative reinforcement about what we were capable of accomplishing. We were told that we could not do it. We were told to stop daydreaming and get with the program. We were told we were not good enough to compete with the myriad of true talent fighting for the same dream. We were told we needed to grow up, settle down and find a trade that would pay the bills. “Be responsible”, they said.
Second is that we followed that advice and ended up in “shadow jobs”. The shadow job is a job that pays the bills but is somehow related to or in the shadow of the dream. For me it was the bookstore. For others it has been a record store, a recording studio, composing scores for video games, an art supply store, an art gallery, a theatre stagehand, and even television production. These jobs in some ways keep us close to the dream and help us build a network of like mined people but they also in some ways keep us from getting where we want to go.
The shadow job can create a subconscious depression that builds very slowly and is sometimes not seen until it seems too overwhelming to get a handle on. There are little steps along the way that are indicators of something being wrong but they are easy to miss. We take them as acts of getting ourselves together. It could be that we decide we have been watching TV too much and not writing enough so we swear off television cold turkey and decide we are going to write every single day even if it produces nothing but crap. I’ve seen it happen with video gaming, gardening and even reading. Basically all this does is create the same starvation of life that a strict diet does for the body. We set up a counter productive environment by starving ourselves of something we enjoy to force ourselves to be productive. We seem to do this almost as a self-punishment for not having achieved our goals yet. It is a vicious cycle and seems to cause the more obvious bouts of depression we suffer.
Then one day we wake up and decide we hate our lives and that ALL of our decisions were wrong and we must completely drop our whole life and start all over again. We decide we are a disappointment to our friends and lovers and that our life is damaged. We decide that the support we have been receiving is actually more of a hindrance than help. We decide we are giving too much or they are taking too much but that either way we have lost ourselves due to our commitments to others. So we decide to change jobs; we change homes, we end relationships both romantic and platonic. We create havoc and chaos in our lives in order to be reborn a better, newer, stronger self.
All this really accomplishes is the creation of said havoc and chaos, the broken hearts and hurt feelings of those who care about us and it resets the alarm clock of life. We find new friends, we find new lovers and we start the whole process all over again. We set up new friendships and relationships that we will one day destroy because even though they were created in an effort to free ourselves they too will one day be condemned as the chains that tie and bind us. This is the creation of the larger vicious cycle in which all the smaller vicious cycles reside. This major cycle is the one that keeps us from traveling down the path of our chosen dream.
We have all been lucky enough to have people in our lives that accept and love us just the way we are. These people were drawn to us because of our creativity and quirks, not in spite of them. They are willing to give us support and love and want to be involved in our dream because they see the validity of it and believe in us, and the ideas that inspire us. It is our own mind that condemns us, not theirs. It is the way we see and think of ourselves that creates the unhealthy environment, not the way that they see us and think of us. It is our own depression and frustration with self for not getting motivated that keeps us mired in the bog but somehow we let them shoulder some of the responsibility and blame for keeping us from getting where we wanted to go.
If we want to get to the pot of gold we have to actually hike to the end of the rainbow. We can’t sit and plot maps all day and then be upset because we haven’t gotten the gold. Theorizing and planning are good but it takes action to cause reaction. We have to stop the destructive cyclonic activity of extremes and be more forgiving of ourselves. We all know we would feel better if we worked out more or practiced yoga more and worked at the creation of our craft more, but just as making the harsh decision to force ourselves into the gym two hours a day five days a week sets us up for failure, so does forcing ourselves into a tight schedule of creativity. Creativity does not work that way but it does require practice. Be active.
If you want to reinvent yourself, then buy a new wardrobe and cut your hair or change your name. If you want a change of scenery then take a vacation or paint your room and rearrange the furniture. If you feel oppressed and weighed down then get organized and de-clutter your creative space. If you feel stalled and uninspired then go participate in an activity outside of your normal routine. If you don’t like where you live then move your life instead of moving out of your life. I’d rather be broke and fly to the moon than watch anyone I love spend all their time drawing blueprints for a rocket that would never be built.