Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving Thoughts

The picture is of some of the things I have been working on. I feel a bit funny posting about them today, when it's a holiday, and there is way too much commercialism as a part of the day that I am not a fan of.  However, I have been struggling a good part of the day to figure out how to write some of the things I have been thinking about, and I may be on the verge of figuring out what it is I want to say.

I just read something that suggested that we should treat every day like a holiday. I don't know about that, exactly, but in the sense that we seem to be more mindful, caring, and compassionate of others on those days, THAT I could definitely vote for on a more regular basis.

Outside of the holidays those who are struggling continue to struggle, but with no holiday to call the attention of others to help out. Fortunate is the person during the course of the year who gets the help they need without a person feeling compelled to in some way because it is a holiday.
I think I am more mindful of those who are struggling these days because of my struggle. There are way too many who don't know where they're going to live, how they're going to eat, how they're going to do the most basic things in life that those with a steady income take for granted.

Many people are judged in all kinds of ways, when in fact, it takes a lot of energy to "just" make it. I am fairly certain that those who are struggling wish they could find a way to make a living, to make some money. Getting people to help financially is not as easy as one might think, and sadly, it seems some of the people who are the best at getting it are the ones who least need it, which makes people more skeptical of helping.

Having said that, I think that is how I can tie in my posting of my switch plates. My situation does not take a holiday. It does not take a break. At least not one that the calendar says. Every day I am the same person who is struggling in some ways to not only survive, but actually be productive in this world and to contribute to it in some beneficial way. And it just so happened that I created the image today, so I am sharing it today.

The way I was making a living before was as a hypnotist and coach and it is not working now for several reasons, although I could still function as those things, if I had clients. Recently I was inspired to paint, so that is what I have been doing a lot of. I am thankful for the inspiration, and the ability to do the work I have been doing, and regardless of what happens next, it has been awesome and exciting. 

But, I have also been spending money to make this happen. I have been expending a lot of effort that I don't always have. I am giving everything I got, in the hope that I have something that finally clicks in a way that I can begin to see an income of some sort. I have never wanted to ask others for money, or get any kind of government support, but have had no choice but to reach out. And there is nothing worse than reaching out, and being met with deafening silence of the majority of people who are aware of my situation.

For a long time I have been aware of "my" creativity. But as I grew up, it was not something that was easily in the picture. Creativity as a way to make a living is not only not encouraged, but often is discouraged. It is kind of ironic to me that the thing I am grasping onto right now is the very thing many would say does not work, and is not viable.

But I really do not have a choice.

I have spent a good part of my time the past few days seeing what I can do to create prints from my work. I have been trying to figure out pricing, and have been changing things as I go along. In my heart I really want to help others who are struggling, too. Someone told me I should focus on me. Part of my idea to help others helps me in a way, too, as it feeds my heart. I have to believe that in helping others I am somehow going to be helping myself in the process.

I haven't come to any conclusions yet. It really is a struggle. If I could, I would give everything away. I really have a hard time with the more commercial aspects of life. However, I am leaning toward giving a percentage of the sales to the Cancer Support Foundation and Cindy Carter, who does tremendous work with those dealing with cancer related issues who have no one else and no where else to turn to to survive.

By buying my work, you will not only be able to help me in a way that is tangible for me, you will be getting something I hope you will love in the process. In addition, you will be helping others as well, through the donations to Cindy's organization. This will not be a one time thing if I figure out how to implement it. It will be an every day thing. It will be a constant, consistent choice on my part to try to do what I can for others.

Some may wonder why I would do this. One of the reasons is because it scares me when I hear some of the worst stories. I could be one of them. I am very much on the edge in my life right now, and there isn't much that is keeping me from falling off the edge.

However, I am extraordinarily grateful for the fact that I have been able to stay on this side of things, and that I at least have a place to stay. If you don't know where you are going to live, you can't exactly do the kinds of things I have been doing. When all you are doing is trying to survive, there isn't much else you can do.

I am going to suggest that if you are reading this you consider looking at the holidays not so much as a special occasion, but more of a reminder of how you could be every day, the rest of the year. Imagine how amazing life could be if we just gave a gift spontaneously because we wanted to. How amazing a family dinner would be, just because you wanted to have one. Imagine what it would be like to help those along the way who needed it, when they needed it. As wonderful as anything you are doing now is, and as welcome as it is, there are likely times those who are helped now are in greater need, and no one is paying attention.

I struggled with writing this in part because everyone wants the holidays to always be so positive, so UP, so happy. As I write this, I realize how people treat the holidays is the same way they treat those things they find uncomfortable. They ignore all the stuff that gives them discomfort, and practically demand that the focus is only on the good and the things that one should be grateful for. They'll say "Be Positive." How the reality of the moment is perceived often is not the true reality.

So many times I will suggest that people just be themselves in the moment. I think it is really hard to do that when society, friends, family are telling you how you are supposed to be. I wonder what the "real" version of who we are as people is. Who are we divorced from the expectations and pressures?

I feel like there is a much bigger picture here, and a larger conversation to be had. I am still not sure I said what I needed to, as I am not quite sure what it was. I am struggling to find the words, knowing that as with many things I talk about, people aren't going to be very comfortable with what they're reading. I imagine some may have tuned out by now, or at the very least are thinking about how much they love about the holidays, and what they need to do, and...anything to stay away from the discomfort of something that isn't expected for a day like today.

I know what is "expected." Funny thing is, though, that in dealing with my diagnosis, and the fine line I walk between life and death, I realize that time is wasted when speaking what others want to hear and expect to hear. I have no time for that and, quite frankly, neither should you.

I am grateful to still be here to see another day, to be able to enjoy the blustery weather. To enjoy my favorite season. I am grateful for the opportunity to be creative and create, and to have lived long enough to have made creations I didn't even know were possible a few short weeks ago. I am also grateful to you and for you. The fact that you are here and reading my words means something. Maybe neither one of us knows what that is, but it does mean something.

I had wondered if anything meant anything prior to my trip. Someone told me that everything meant something. In my down and desperate state, I wasn't sure I agreed. I have seen too much in the last few weeks to think otherwise at this point. Everything means something. We just don't have a clue what it is most of the time.

Thank you for being a part of my life's experiences. And if in any way I speak to you or your heart or mind in a way that encourages you to step back and reconsider life and the things you do, you could thank me by allowing yourself to follow the path that calls you.  You might just be amazed.

And if you do that...I would love to hear about what happened.

I was about to suggest that you come back here in a year and let me know, but then realized that there is no reason to wait. There is no time like the moment you come to a realization. There is no moment like the present to share. In addition, we are not promised another single moment here than the one we currently have. So use it up. Share it. Share your love. Live for now. Give life to the words in your heart. They will never be the same coming from someone else, and they could be lost forever while you wait for the right time or circumstance to say them.

The best part of the holidays doesn't just live one day on the calendar. It lives in the life we give each moment, and to each other any day of the year.

Much joy and love and peace to you.

Exciting News (Video)

A couple of new videos from today. The longer version of the news involves both. The second one may suffice for anyone who wants the quicker version. In short, I got prints of some of my new work today, and they are wonderful, or at least *I* think so. Of course my hope is that others will agree.

I appreciate it if you would share the (at least the second) video with others. In it I share the images. If interested in purchasing any of the prints, please let me know. I would love to sell them to you. :) It has been very difficult not making money, and I am hoping that because I am being so prolific, it means something financially as I really don't have much in the way of options right now.

I will be at the On Purpose Woman Event on December 10 at the Homewood Suites in Columbia with these images and more. If you are in Maryland, perhaps you can come. It is a free event, and all are welcome to attend.

If you believe in me, and what I am doing with this blog, can you please vote for me (and ask others to)? You can vote once every 24 hours (the more, the merrier! HO, HO, HO, LOL). It isn't so much about winning as it is about getting the word out into the world about the things that often go wordless. Thanks!

Best health blogs 2013

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Prayerful Support

While the Oncologist believes the Avastin he was giving me is responsible for the regression I recently experienced, I am certain that the prayerful support of those I met along my trip had a role in what happened. I can't say Avastin had no role, but I do wonder how much, given how much my trip affected me and my soul.

As I journeyed, people everywhere were offering prayer. More than once on the spot, I had people praying for me. Once on the beach in Savanaah, once in a rest stop out west - in New Mexico?, and once in a McDonalds on the west coast. For those who wanted to contribute to me in that way, I welcomed it. How could it be bad to have the good wishes of others supporting me?

I also went to an Apostolic Church along the way. It just so happened it worked with where I was, when I was there. I figured I had to go. I was glad I did, although it was a very unusual experience. I wasn't sure what to make of most of it, but was grateful for the support of the church, its leader, and the members.

(As a side note, I need to write about it, if I haven't already...)

Today I offered on my Relating to cancer Facebook page to relay requests for prayer and support. This is what I wrote:

For those who believe in prayer, it costs nothing to do. For those who are a recipient of its energies, there is nothing greater. For that reason, I would like to offer this page as a place that people can ask for prayerful support, as well as energy work. Those who are willing to step up and add their energies, great, and thank you. Those who need it feel free to post your request, and I will repost when I see it so that the main body of this page shows it. I am always saying that this experience is about LIFE and LIVING so much more than it is about cancer. There are so many pieces of life that we can all relate to, and when someone we love, or some pet we love, needs some love and support, I don't know that there can ever be too much. So...whether it is cancer related, or not, feel free to ask for the spiritual support of anyone here who would be willing to contribute. Lots of Love to you.

So if you are in need of support, or would be willing to support others, please keep the page in mind. Your request and/or contribution are welcome.

If you believe in me, and what I am doing with this blog, can you please vote for me (and ask others to)? You can vote once every 24 hours (the more, the merrier! HO, HO, HO, LOL). It isn't so much about winning as it is about getting the word out into the world about the things that often go wordless. Thanks!

Best health blogs 2013

Monday, November 25, 2013

My Book Cover

I have been playing with ideas for my book cover. The book I have yet to write. Someone had suggested that it was a good way to begin to write a book.

I didn't really know what I wanted to do, and I had asked Christina Aldan if she wanted to take a stab at it, because I just did not know what I wanted it to look like. I had a previous version that was a start, but I wasn't feeling it. Then today I was looking at other people's covers, and had a thought. I went to adapt mine based on what I saw, but then wound up with something quite different. (Par for the course when it comes to me and "my" creativity.)

I really think this could be it, or at least some variation of it. I, of course, reserve the right to change my mind, LOL.

Having said that, I am also trying to figure out how to get the book written. I don't have the time, as I am working on doing other things to try to survive in the more immediate term financially, like being my artist self and creating for the fair/event in a couple of weeks. That takes so much time and effort, and I have already spent a few dollars in the hope that I can make it back and more.

What I would love is is to get money together for a book. It could mean another GoFundMe or GoFundMe-like attempt. I just don't know. Nothing really speaks to me, other than to perhaps see if I can get some people to speak to why my book is a good idea, via text and video, and that might be a place to start.


If you know me and believe that it would be a good idea, do you have any ideas or suggestions? If I could get the funds together for this book, it could be THE thing I focus on above everything else, and I could get-her done. 

I am a bit spent these days, but feel such an urgency to get things done. 

A lot of things. 

The thing is,
there is only one me.

If you believe in me, and what I am doing with this blog, can you please vote for me (and ask others to)? You can vote once every 24 hours (the more, the merrier! HO, HO, HO, LOL). It isn't so much about winning as it is about getting the word out into the world about the things that often go wordless. Thanks!

Best health blogs 2013

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Running Running Running

My life is in a state of chaos. So much is a mess. There are is a paint mess. There is a paperwork mess. My taxes for the last two years are still undone. I have not heard a peep about Disability. I will soon be moving. I have been trying to spend as much time as possible being creative so that I will have things to sell at an expo in a couple of weeks. Tomorrow is my radio show. The list is endless. And I am flying by the seat of my pants. So often when this has happened, people try to tell me to plan. They try to tell me to put things in boxes. Well, the thing is that my trip kinda, sorta was the antithesis of that way of thinking and doing things, and it not only worked, it worked really well. Much of my life, when I think about it has been that way, actually. And I have managed.

I know some would say it couldn't have worked that well, given how things currently look. I don't know what I think, given I often think things are defined differently than I think we are accustomed to hearing they are. When it comes to "proof," I wonder if I could be wrong. At the same time, a part of me says I am not.

Today I did a bit of cooking. It was the first that I have done in a while. It was an awesome, blustery fall day, and it it just felt perfect to do. At some point I will be posting more of my work, and possibly another video of Show and Tell. I really would love some help getting the word out about my artistic self and the things I have been creating. I really don't need all of the things I have been creating. I would love to get them out into the world. If you think you can help, please be in touch and we can figure out how that would work.

This is the second night in a row I am feeling anxious. I am also tired. I need to go to bed soon.

One other thing that has been on my mind is my desire to have a relationship. It is something that has been sidelined because of everything that has been going on. It is also affected by the fact that I can't say that I am clear of cancer. It is very difficult to interact with guys and not be open about it initially. I was reading a forum thread last night about people's opinions about when and how to talk about it on a dating site, and how one may react to the "c" word. Nothing about the array of responses surprised me.

I feel like it could be a great screening tool. On the other hand, the few times I have met someone I waited to meet them in person before explaining what was going on. A part of me feels like maybe if they get to know me a bit, they won't be so quick to run. When you don't know something, it is all too easy to run from things not truly understood. Under a diagnosis of cancer there is a person. Unfortunately all too often all a person will see is the diagnosis.

What many don't get is that next week they could be diagnosed themselves, or be in an accident. Our lives can change in a heartbeat. I know we like to play pretend that everything is just fine all the time if it is in this time, but life doesn't play by the rules we pretend it has.

I sometimes think about being very honest on my profile - to the point of putting a link to this blog. I am not sure I can do that, at least not yet. In the meantime, though, I keep feeling like I haven't "met" someone that is really on the wavelength I need them to be any way. I know guys are a lot about sex. I get it. I really do. But the thing is I really need someone to be about more than that - even without a diagnosis to contend with. I really hope that I will find someone, and the one thing that I keep thinking about is (I believe) Richard Marx, who asked to meet a woman with Stage IV cancer - knowing she was in Stage IV. I have to believe that if there is someone for me to meet, he will look past the cancer and see me.

In the meantime, for the first time in a while I am feeling lonely and wishing I had someone special.


If you believe in me, and what I am doing with this blog, can you please vote for me (and ask others to)? It isn't so much about winning as it is about getting the word out into the world about the things that often go wordless. Thanks!

Best health blogs 2013

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Vote for Me

One of the things that I set as a goal for myself for the year, early this year, was winning an online award. My thinking was that if I won, it would mean that I was getting the word out into the world. Of course, there could be other benefits, too. In the case of the Healthline blogging contest, first prize is $1,000. The contest goes until January 20, 2014.  It started on November 20, and as of this writing, I would need 35 votes to be in 10th place. So I am behind, but that doesn't mean I can't make a go at this. I would appreciate it if you would consider voting as much as possible between now and then, and ask others to participate as well.

The easiest way to vote is to click the big orange badge. If you have any questions, please ask, and I will do my best to answer them.

Thanks for your support.

Best health blogs 2013

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Live Like...

your life depended on it.

I was thinking today about how people say you should "live like you are dying." As I thought about it, I thought that really isn't the best way to live. Those who are dying often cannot fully even live.

I was trying to find a way to reframe that idea, just as I have with so many other things. I came up with "live like your life depended on it." Not sure that really works, either, because it would come from something of a fear-based place.

I am sure there is a way to look at it, but I am stymied. It is all too easy to think that because we are alive we are living. Thinking like that allows us to let things slide. It allows us to settle. It allows us to be less than who we are.

I am going to keep thinking about this. If you have any ideas or thoughts, I am all ears.

Think. About What Can Happen.

Thinking can be such a dirty word sometimes. It can often be what gets us into trouble. At the same time, it can be an ally, if properly "applied."

I have been thinking about this as I just watched a video with kids talking about gay marriage. I was thinking that I would believe that most of those kids were thinking for themselves when responding. And I was about to applaud that. But then, it occurred to me that they may have been talking in a way they were taught to, just like it is possible the one little boy was doing the same when he said things, but did not know why he was saying them when asked.

As children we are in a state that is very much like a hypnotic state, we have no way to really filter out things. We get "fed" suggestions daily through our parents, caregivers, teachers, society, and it is all too easy in some cases to come to the conclusion that we are who we are because it is the way we are. In some cases, that may very much be the case, but in others it may just be that we were told who we were, and it has become so much a part of us that we claim it as our own.

I had a dream the other night that the world was coming to an end. The sun rushed from the sky, and crashed somewhere in the distance. I did not know where, but I knew it would eventually affect where I was. I could not believe it crashed, and I was still there. Then I saw people lining up to go in a direction. So many were in line, and I thought to myself that we were in trouble, and it was not unlike what happened with the Jews in Germany in World War II. People were blindly following others.

I was going off in the other direction.

I have often questioned things, much to the chagrin of those around me. At the same time, I do have my blind spots. We all do. It is easy to get caught up in what another believes and thinks - especially when we are needing answers. Especially when we are feeling scared or lost. It is all too easy to take another's lead, if we aren't following our own. And if we are following our own, and it doesn't seem to be taking us ye Lands of Comfort and Success, often described by others in a certain way, we may question if we are doing things right.

It all makes some sort of sense that we do things the way we do, otherwise we wouldn't do it. At the same time, I have been seeing how important it is to listen to the inner voice that speaks. It never goes away. It may get silenced. It may be really soft. It may be drowned out by other people and other things. But it is always there.

My trip showed me how important it is to listen - in the form of action. I knew when I returned I would have to keep listening. I knew it might not be as easy as when I was on the road and dealing with things that in the grand scheme of things probably did not matter as much.

I have already seen how all of my listening on the trip has prepared me for now. It gave me the ability to say no to (what amounted to an unnecessary) (a) scan, despite what others thought I should do. It gave me the ability to calm down about the possible surgery or chemo.

I still have concerns, as the scan was not clear. It was "just" better than it was. However, it is better enough for me to relax a bit, and continue to move forward and listen. I am clear that listening is what saved my life. So many questioned me taking the trip I did, but I KNEW I had to go. I knew if I stayed, I was dead.

I wish I could say that I had everything worked out and that all my fears and concerns were wiped away, but not quite. But I had fears and concerns about the trip, but I went, and then I kept going. I feel like the trip made me stronger. I feel like this experience of life has that same potential. I just need to keep listening, and keep going.

My mind is in a whirlwind with so many thoughts and ideas. I will be sharing more about that soon, as I will need help to make things happen. I am hoping that there is something about this journey that speaks to others in a way that they see how it benefits them to be a part of it in some way. I have had a few of those who are close to me tell me how their interactions with my journey has in some way served and inspired them.

It touches me so deeply to know that. I have known this was not just about me for quite some time. I just never knew how much it was about others. I may never know, actually. But it thrills me to hear how others are affected, and spurred into action in some way in their own lives.

They're listening. I just happened to be the station they tuned in to. They could have just as easily tuned out, and moved on to someone or something else, but something I said or did resonate for them, and they listened.

It seems to me that a great part of being who we are best is the ability to listen to ourselves and the messages that resonate, and then - even more importantly - acting on them. So much of what I did when I listened is what gave me the juice. If I only went so far to try to appease the voice, but didn't go all the way, much of what happened would not have. Much of what I did made no real sense - in the way we've been taught sense looks like. But it made perfect sense in the bigger picture of what my life is, and has become.

If the me of May 2012 saw the me of now she would not recognize herself. I have come so far, and it wasn't by any plan or design. It was by me just being who I am.

When I used to have "real" job interviews, a question they loved to ask was, "Where do you see yourself in 5 years?" I hated that question, but you got to make up something that sounds good, right? How does anyone know how to answer that question? Really? Life can change in a heartbeat. And when it does anything and everything can change. Just like that.

At the same time, if there is something that is important to you, and you know it is what you desire, step into it - uncertainty and all. As long as you know your heart is invested and you know in your soul you want it, and that you will give it all you can, that is all you need to take the leap. If it isn't going to work out, you'll know when you get there, and then, and only then, will you know what to do next because you will be standing farther in the road and will be able to see things you could not see before, earlier in your trip.

That is one of the biggest things I have learned. Take each step, and see what shows up. Then make choices. Trying to make choices ahead of time almost invariably wound up being a waste of time and energy because things almost always were different when I got there.

So...in short...

Think. Listen. Leap. Think Again when you land. Listen Again. Leap Again And Repeat Again. Or something like that. It might be Listen and then Think and then Leap. It may be Leap and then Listen and then Think. I don't really know which comes first. I just know that they are 3 very important elements in being able to give life a full you.

Have a great day, and consider that those things that don't work out the way you want them to are gifts in disguise. Who knows what can come out of a chance meeting or an unexpected detour? Be looking for it. There may be signs, but if you're too caught up in being upset about what didn't happen, you might just miss what could have.

Monday, November 18, 2013

What a Day!

I woke up at 5:00 this morning so that I could catch the train I needed to for my appointment today. It turns out that I didn't need to be up that early. I made a video about what happened, and I will upload it shortly, and give a link. I am saying it here and now so I hopefully remember to come back and add it.

I remembered :) Here it is.

I met someone on the train who also missed the train, but was a lot closer to catching it than I was. We talked for a bit, and he said he felt better about missing his train after speaking with me. When I asked why, he said he got some perspective - given my situation.

Who knows if he was the reason I missed my original train, but it was kind of cool to keep an open mind when it happened, and to wonder what was going to happen as a result, and who I might meet. I wound up being late for my appointment, but it still worked out just fine without me stressing about it.

I also got a call on my way there about moving my appointment with the surgeon that I did not know I still had. I found out that if I met him, we would have a 2 HOUR meeting. I asked about the CT Scan, and the person I spoke with said she didn't know, and had to call me back. The day was starting with lots of curve balls. When she called back, she told me she scheduled a CT for me later in the day so I could meet with the surgeon. I told her I would let her know. I wanted to find out about the Pet Scan results first.

I was a bit anxious at that point. I wasn't sure why that was, but I was also going to a place that is attached to some very anxiety-inducing memories. So who the heck knows? It doesn't really matter, though. I was speaking with Julie Griffiths via IMs, and she was quite supportive in helping me to focus and be grounded. Although I was anxious, there was a part of me that was also kinda calm.

Many people told me how great I looked. A few even said I was glowing. I have been feeling the best I have felt in a long time. If I was going to be told that things were in any way worse, I would have been quite surprised. I hoped not to be surprised that way for a few reasons, not the least of which is the fact that I want to trust my intuition, and my intuition was feeling pretty good about what was coming.

So what came?

I don't know the exact specifics, however, the good news is that most of what is going on inside of me has grown smaller. One lymph node is slightly bigger, but from what I was told it is such a small difference, it isn't really a big deal.

So what's next?

The oncologist believes that the Avastin is responsible for the reduction. I find that a bit amusing. He says that it stays in my body for a while and believes that it is still working. I suppose it is possible, but there was so much more that was going on leading up to today. I have to believe my trip, and the support and prayers of the many contributed, as well as the spiritual work that I have done played a part.

He would like for me to continue being treated with Avastin every 3 weeks.

I told him I have toyed with the idea of removing the port. If I am not going to do chemo there really is no point in having one. However if I was to continue the Avastin, I would likely still need it. I have concerns about the port and going elsewhere for treatment, as it seems that it isn't the easiest to access for anyone locally. I am a bit concerned about being tortured elsewhere. Plus if I keep it I have to continue to have it flushed periodically if I am not getting treated so that it continues to work. Otherwise there is no point.

I am still uncertain about what happens next in regard to my health insurance, so that makes me wonder what to do in terms of treatment. I may have to go to Chicago if I want to continue to be treated by the same organization. I heard today that something was voted on that could help me keep my insurance, but that it likely will not make it all the way to the President, and if it does, he will not likely sign it.

So...I just don't know what will happen next. I am going to be waiting til the last possible moment to sign up for anything - just in case a miracle happens and I get to keep what I have.

Going forward I need to just keep doing what I am doing. I need to figure out how to do painting, write my book, and keep nourishing my soul. I need to find ways to stay calm and removed from freaking out. I need to continue to be in a state of purpose and intention and find opportunities to speak and to find a sponsor or sponsors to get me back on the road.

In short - I need to fully and completely live this life I have.

Thank you to everyone who has been so supportive, and for any prayers offered. Please continue. I need to keep things going in the right direction - the one they seem to be going in at the moment.

I will also add, because I think it interesting to note, that while I was on the road I wasn't eating as well as one might. I wasn't going to drive myself crazy, and eating healthy on the road is not the easiest thing. I also allowed myself to eat things I normally would not. If I was on my way out, I saw no reason to spend precious energy worrying about it all. I also mostly stopped the supplements I was on.

I still got better.

I was so happy with the results, it was as if they told me I had a clear scan. I have to admit I am thrilled, but a part of me is still cautiously optimistic. Things are still waving at me. That's OK, because for now I am waving back, and thanking them for keeping me on my toes.

Have a good night.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Thoughts on Mental Frustrations

I am often reminded of how my mind doesn't make connections as well as it might have at one time. The most recent occurrence? I did not connect the abrupt change of plan with what happened Thursday with a need to inform my sister, who planned to join me tomorrow.

I know some people will think that it is likely a "simple" thing, it isn't so simple. It has become difficult to make connections. I still very much am more likely to live and function in the moment than I am to be able to make connections for the future. It is like missing a connecting flight I didn't know I had.

Or something like that.

I found myself wondering if those who think that I don't handle things very well are ones that have ever personally dealt with cancer and treatment from this side of things. My guess is that it is not.

I feel badly about what happened today, but I don't know how best to handle things. It would be a lot easier for me to just reach out when I want the help, and have the person materialize than to have to plan for their presence and be aware of their needs. And while, for some it may seem selfish and self-centered of me to say that, and while it might be, it is also a function of how my brain is/is not working these days.

It is a challenge to add more things to the things I have to cope with. Even the simple things aren't so simple. I also find it difficult to convey how I feel in general. Most people probably look at me and think I must be fine. I don't look sick. I do things. I get around. I took a trip cross-country, for heaven's sake.

But what they don't realize is that all they see are the superficial aspects of my life. They don't see the hiccups. They don't see the misfirings. They don't see the times I stumble, or can't get myself to where I want to be. They may at times even think me lazy because I will ask for them to do something because I am concerned I might just forget. Yes. I could make lists or use a calendar, but then I have to remember to look at them. I have to remember I have them in the first place.

If I don't do something right when I think about it, I can forget what I wanted to do. Even if I go to do it in the moment, I might still have a pretty good brain fart. The thought just disappears. Sometimes I am lucky enough, and it comes back - unlike when I was still on chemo. On chemo it was often gone, for good.

I wish I knew how to explain to people that the only reason I can seem to function as well as I do is because I do not function that well, and that much. I have moments in which I do nothing at all. For some it may seem just as it is for anyone. The thing is, it is, and it isn't. It magnifies and amplifies the issues that we all deal with from time to time.

Even when I think about what it would be like to have a "real" job, I realize I can't. Someone could tell me something in one minute, and I'd walk away and it could potentially be gone. I wouldn't be very effective or efficient. I am not much of either right now, and it can be exhausting. When one has limited energy, it hurts to use energy to either retain what may be too easily gone or to have to re-do something because the mind isn't allowing for clear and precise functioning. Every day I waste a lot of time and energy because I can't hold thoughts together.

One day maybe I will figure out how to convey this in a way that is helpful to those who haven't a clue. Maybe this is the day. Maybe this is just a warm-up. Maybe I already have - and it's a replay. You have no idea how many things I do and say that I have forgotten I have done or said.

But for now, I am going to do a few things and wrap up for the night. I have to be up early tomorrow. I also find out the results of my last scan. All good thoughts welcome and appreciated.

Have a good night.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Would you do this?

Total strangers are only people who haven't connected yet.

I saw this person's work previously, but since my trip I see it differently.

(I just wrote a blog entry that was almost finished when my iPad battery died. Nothing was saved. So here I go again. I wasn't happy. Grrr. But then I thought that maybe it meant I could do better. Maybe it just meant I screwed up. Who knows?  

We never know which way things "are.")

On my trip I connected with so many people in moments. I connected with them in a way that doesn't seem as possible through the internet. I had a deeper, more profound connection with some in 5 minutes in person than I have with those I have had many interactions with through the internet.

The internet is great for connecting people. There are some I have met that way that are very special to me. But the internet is also great for having people stay at a disconnected distance, or connect in a pseudo kind of way.

I have no idea how many people were really open to our conversation, but I suspect many were, as they continued to engage in the conversation with me. I said what I had to say, and then they told me their stories and perspectives. In some cases, they just shared of themselves and offered a hug (or two) and a prayer.

I was sure before I went on this trip that it was about something larger than me. I figured it had something to do with talking about the things no one talks about. However I have also often said that my message is about more than cancer. It is about LIVING LIFE.

I got to see how in person there is a gift we can give each other by the connection we can get one on one. There is something very special that happens when we take the time to truly interact. It is something that happens when the guard comes down. When we get to truly be ourselves without a judgment. When the biggest thing in the moment is the connection that is being shared.

I got to see how what I was doing, how I was doing it, and what I shared offered people something that was a gift to them. I did not always know how our conversations affected them, and I likely may never know. But there was someone who told me that she could not stop thinking about our conversation. I asked her if she was willing to share why - if she knew.

She is someone who has known of a few people dealing with cancer. One of the cases even involved a request to never talk about it. It seems that our conversation potentially had her thinking about things in a way that she hadn't been able to previously.

So often I awkwardly start a conversation with someone about ovarian cancer. It is not a usual topic of discussion - especially with a stranger. Many times it led to something more. But the thing is that so many times I did not want to do it. The awkwardness started to go away, but it was still there. People are guarded. I would guess many thought I was going to try to sell them something.

Within moments, though, I often could see people's wheels turning, their demeanor softening. I felt so loved by many that I connected with during our short conversations and connections.

We give each other an incredible gift when we allow another to just be themselves without any pretense. When we truly connect I suspect the idea of strangers and enemies can be dissolved. I think we need to put things in place that aren't naturally there to keep us separated from each other. I say this because it can dissolve instantly - when we allow it. If it wasn't so natural, would it be that easy?

It seems to be a protective mechanism. If you let someone in, then you risk being hurt. You risk being vulnerable. I suppose it could have its place as a survival tool. The thing is, though, I think we are making a survival tool into something that is more than that. It is something that we are doing so much of, it is becoming a way of life. But the thing is that the more we live that way, the more disconnected we become and the more likely we are to hurt another because we aren't connected to the part of them that is within us. We don't see them as an extension of who we are, but rather as a threat to who we are. Labels and boxes and judgments are good for putting others in their places, for keeping others separate. For keeping us apart. If we focus more on how we are different, we can stay safe because we will keep those types of things and people away from us. It will help to keep us safe. Right? And while we do it, other people do it, too. As a result, we keep fragmenting ourselves and our society. Is it no wonder things seem to be deteriorating?

The issues aren't the real issue. The real issue is that we stopped connecting. We got so caught up in the labels, the boxes, the judgments that we keep moving them around and forgot about the people behind them. We forgot what really matters. What really matters is VERY LITTLE and we seem to be too focused on other things that we have been told/taught matter, to focus on what would really be a help. I bet if we didn't have all the barriers we have in a myriad of forms we have them in, we would be better able to co-exist and not only that, but  "help" would either be less necessary, or not looked at as negatively and judgmentally as it can be now. The irony is that we all need help at some time or another, but we don't want to ask for it for fear of what another might think of us if we are shown to be anything but something superficially put together and perfect.

Yesterday I was watching a morning show that had a segment on a shop in Philadelphia. It was a men's shop, and it was talking about style and what's in/what's out. The owner was talking about how important it is for a man to pick his style, and stick with it, despite the changing fashions. I was thinking about how that fits us in another way. We could figure out who it is that we are, and stick with it, despite what others think we should be, due to the "fashions" of the times.

Other than that, I sat there in awe. So much of the show was about the superficial aspects of our life. I would love to see a show focus on the things that we REALLY connect with. We may think we connect to those types of things, but it isn't the kind of thing that makes our soul sing. It isn't the kind of thing that gives us that deep down sense of peace and satisfaction. It keeps us swimming on the surface of our lives.

I know many probably won't talk about cancer and cancer-related issues because it is a "downer." They probably figure people either can't relate, or won't want to. How about we figure out a way that really makes a difference for others so that we can talk about it? How about if we incorporate it into life? After all, it is already there. We are ignoring the big elephant in the room because we view it in a way that is sad, depressing, and in lots of other negative adjective terms. 

Many who live with the cancer label don't classify their lives in terms of cancer. That is often why they will go to great lengths not to talk about it - because others will define their lives by it. Others will make everything about cancer, when it is not. There is much more to a person's life than a cancer diagnosis, but it is all many will see.

Human beings live with their mortality. They don't die from it. In the same way, those diagnosed with cancer live with their diagnosis. They don't die from it. The whole point is that we LIVE while we are alive. The more we focus on cancer (a human being's mortality), the more we focus on dying, and the less we are able to focus on life and actually living.

Life can show us some very wonderful things. The question is are we listening? Are we paying attention? Are we willing to go where we are "supposed" to? The "known" of our lives has become a distancing from one another, and as a result truly connecting can be intimidating and scary and uncomfortable. But if we are willing to listen, it can bring a deeply rewarding feeling for a lot longer than we'll be uncomfortable. And it will feed our soul instead of subtracting from it.

One thing I learned very clearly on my trip was a need to LISTEN to my inner voice. We have been trained to do what often amounts to the opposite. Perhaps try an experiment. Talk to strangers. Offer a hug. Offer a friendly smile. Connect with people offline. Do something differently than you have been doing it. I practically guarantee you it will probably "hurt" the first few - hundred - times. But my guess is that you will also find amazing people who have a lot of wonderful things to say and talk about, if you are truly yourself and truly engaged and give them the space to be real with you.

I bet you will walk away with a smile on your face more often than not. 

I also suggest that in the process you don't necessarily go up to just anyone. You ask yourself the question, "who should I talk to?" and then you listen, no matter what your head says. Alternatively, you could just see if there is an inner nudging that you might ordinarily ignore. Pay attention to it, and see what happens.

If you do this, I would love to hear about it. If you feel you want to do it, but not sure how to go about it, talk to me. I will see what I can do to help you work it out. I may seem to do it easily, but it hasn't always been as easy as it SEEMS.

I have another thought, too. I used my ovarian cancer symptom card as a conversation starter. Perhaps consider making your own information card on something near and dear to you and use that to introduce yourself to another and start a conversation. Depending on where you go, you can get up to 1000 cards for around $30. 

I love that idea actually. We are so used to people trying to sell us things. What if we stopped doing that, and started just sharing with one another genuinely, and not sharing under the guise of trying to sell something. My idea is more about something deeper than a marketing piece for a product.

Hmm. If you come up with an idea, I'd love to hear about it!

Wow. It is almost noon. This day is flying by. This entry also is a lot different than the last one that disappeared. I guess I was meant to create anew. I say that as I knowingly smile. So many times this has happened lately, and I have seen the wonderful things that have come as a result of not being attached to one thing. Going with the flow of life makes life so much less painful. It can also make it a lot more fun when you look at it as an adventure. What fun is coming up next? Who will I next meet and connect with? What opportunity is around an unexpected turn I have to make?

Funny how exciting it can be to consider when you can shift your mindset from one of disappointment for what didn't happen to one of anticipation for what could.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

At Home.

Well. I am back home. I am also pretty tired. I have a lot going through my brain. I want to do things with the pictures I took. I want to post more pics. I need to still go back and annotate others I posted. I need to figure out all kinds of things in regard to what's next.

In the back of my mind, I can't help but wonder what will be the news Monday. I now know I won't be meeting with the surgeon. At least not yet. We shall see how it goes. I don't want to be jumping into things because I am afraid, or because of concerns about my insurance. The kinds of decisions I could possibly have to make are not ones to be taken lightly.

I found it interesting to re-read my blog entry from the plane yesterday after what happened today. I talked about "trust," and what happens? I have a huge lesson in trust today. This video explains: 

Basically, I had feelings about not wanting a CT scan and I stuck to them. There is more to it, though, and I think the video would/could explain it the best.

I am happy to be back on a desktop computer. It is so much easier to type and do what I want to do. I may go back and start adding video links again. We shall see how it goes. I might also think about having one page with all of the video links from the trip. Whether or not that happens will depend a lot on how things go.

One thing I learned on the trip was that it is difficult - if not impossible - to live life and simultaneously report it. Spending time on devices and the computer can take us away from what is right in front of us. I am glad that I did things the way I did, and if anyone wants to see info about the trip, the places to look are GotStressGetRelief.com (Videos), this blog, and Facebook.com/Relatingtocancer (images and other things from the Living Life Tour).

Among other things, I still want to write a book. More than ever I want to. How I do it in the midst of everything else will be interesting. There were so many times during the trip I said I would have to live longer to do more things. There was so much I would love to have done, and places I would have loved to have spent more time.

I am really going to have to keep "listening" for direction and listen when direction is given. I don't know how else I will manage. There is so much that requires attention. 

I really would love to get back on the road, too. But I can't without help. I really need to find sponsors and people who believe in what I am doing, so that I can do more of it. While I got to see and do some things, the trip really was not about being a tourist. It was about so much more. And I want to do so much more. And I feel I need to do so much more. If you see that, and believe that, and you know of anyone - or companies, or organizations - that would be willing to sponsor me, I have lots of ways to work with them: Facebook, my blog, my radio show, my videos, and they can see what I have created as a foundation for going forward. I would welcome contacts and the help to make it happen again.

Wow. I feel so energized right now. I think my body clock might be on Pacific Time, but not fully. I think it might be confused. 

I have yet to unpack, or do much of anything except get on here and start doing things. Something is telling me to get to bed, so I think I will listen. 

I can't wait to see what tomorrow brings!

A part of me is really excited - about not having to lug luggage around for a bit, LOL. And other things, too. :P

Good night.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Meditations in Flight

Two and a half hours til we land. Looks like we could be early. I am on US Air flight 1959 from Seattle to Philadelphia. I just woke up a bit ago, after trying to sleep. I was kind of anxious last night before I went to sleep, and woke up around 4:00. I left where I was later than I wanted to, but managed to be at the car rental place, just at 6:00.

It is something to consider that moment that was so far into the future, a point I wasn't even certain I'd make, a point I was working toward for my whole trip, now lives in the past. It came and it went. Just like *that,* and with it went 27 days of traveling. Each day left on its own accord, in its own time, but as a community - they have all now passed into a different awareness and place.

What does it mean?

Some would say it means nothing. Days passing inherently mean nothing. But what they take with them, or what they give, does have the potential to have great meaning.

Before May 14, 2012 I lived life without an awareness that cancer had nested in my body. I did things while the tumor grew - like move to California - that I may never have done had I known about it, had I been treated sooner. Some people say our body will have a tendency, and even after surgery and chemo if there is no path change, there will be more to deal with.

I have been spending time and energy educating people about ovarian cancer. Some will still find out about it later than others. Is early discovery a good thing? I wonder, especially given there are those in Stage Four that go into remission, if it is "just" a thing.

I knew nothing of the tumor and I lived life, but not as I would have wanted to, but rather as I felt I needed to. I settled for things. I tolerated things. Then one day it suddenly all changed. The brakes went on, and everything came to a screeching halt. I made impossible choices, and I did what the doctors wanted me to do ultimately. I have tried the second guessing game more than once since then, but have to believe that the way things happened is the way things were supposed to happen - for me.

cancer wasn't done with me after what I went through last year. There was more to come. There was more to deal with, more story to tell, more life to live. The lessons I have been learning are in vivid color: trust tops the list. Trust my intuition. Trust what comes next when I follow my intuition. Trust myself, when it comes to myself, despite what others think or believe or want.

I also learned many other things, or perhaps re-learned them, or have been reminded that...there are some places you can not go back to. That there are other places, even if you can, won't be the same as you thought. Even if the shell of a place is the same, it doesn't mean the heart will remain constant. I learned that even in the dark you can find your way, if you have some help, and you just keep going. I learned that talking to strangers can be incredibly touching, and that it only takes a fraction of a moment to be truly and deeply touched by another. I have learned how intertwined our lives can be, and how we are likely to impact others, fortunate if we know how, but more times than not, in our silence never knowing the magic that has occurred. I learned that just because something looks a way we recognize, it doesn't mean it is what we think it is. I learned that sometimes not knowing what is coming is better than knowing - especially if there is a chance we would forfeit an opportunity due to fear of what we think we know. I learned that sometimes to truly appreciate something you have to sometimes go from going very fast to standing very still. I learned that there is much that you can appreciate, even as you are going fast. I learned that each and every moment counts because you never truly know if the next one is coming. And with that, each and every person counts.

You just never know who might touch you, or could be touched by you. You can second guess and wonder about every moment and everything you do, but the way you best know if you are doing the right thing for yourself is by how you feel in that moment. If you feel antsy or concerned or anxious, it is quite possible that you are making a different choice than perhaps you should, or are at odds with the part of you that knows what should be done with the part of you that thinks it knows. Making the best possible choices for ourselves will not always be easy. They will not always be the choice others think you should make. They will often defy logic. In making the choices that speak to us we may never know if a different choice was a better one, but we probably won't care because in the midst of everything that we are feeling there will be an inner knowing, a peace, and we will know that we have done exactly what we needed to do.

In my young 20s, I met someone I felt I had to be with. Despite reservations, despite logic, I picked up and moved to be with him. I told myself that no matter what happened, I would be without regret. I never wanted to get to the point that I would ask myself, "What would have happened if...?" I had had a similar possibility before him, but I didn't go there with the other guy.  The road I chose was rough, and I learned a lot about myself and about abusive relationships along the way. I dropped judgments. I was able to offer perspective to others I could not have otherwise.

Some might say I made a poor choice. I think I made the choice I needed to make. I have never once regretted it.

Regardless of what happens next in my life, I am at another point that I know with absolute certainty that I made the right choice for myself. I was terrified to take this trip. But I knew I had to do it. I had no idea what was on the other side, and I still don't. But what I do know is that I did what I had to do, even when I had no clue exactly what that was at any given moment.

I relish the opportunities I had to meet those that I did. I relish the delicious scenery I saw. I relish my ability to go forward in spite of my concerns. I love myself for that, actually. What an incredible gift this trip was.

(The captain just said we will be landing soon. I had stopped writing for a bit to talk to my seat-mate.)

I am grateful for a trip that has had me flying above the clouds, driving through the mountains, seeing deserts and beaches. For a trip that had me feeling the warmth of the sun, and the crispness of the coolness of fall.  For a trip that furnished beautiful sunsets and sunrises. For being able to walk and able to enjoy riding in a train, a plane, an automobile.

We have an incredible world and opportunity here, as the species that we are. We have so much to appreciate right in front of us, that we can all too often miss because we get caught up in anything but the beauty available to us in any given moment. This is not to say we should always be focusing on beauty, but rather that it simply exists as a possible point of focus. It is in seeing the less than beautiful that I am able to really appreciate what is possible. It is in knowing what it feels like to be limited that I am able to enjoy the freedom of going places that at one time would not be possible.

In some ways I feel very much like I did before my diagnosis. I am living life without knowing what will end it, or when. A part of me almost doesn't want to find out what the test says. Another part would love to hear the amazement of a miracle manifest.

At the moment I am calm. I hope to be able to maintain much of what I feel now and have learned the last several weeks.

I am also hungry. I ate a banana earlier, and that is it. I have a few snacks, but they're buried. I need to eat something, though, as I can't eat tomorrow until my test is over. That is too long to go without food. I have to figure out what I can eat, as carbohydrates before a pet scan can distort the results.

As I look out the window, I am seeing yet another sunset. Setting down at sunset, as my trip is having its own sunset. It seems rather apropos. It was also interesting for me to note that I happened to look at the car clock this morning at 5:55. Once again, the numbers were appearing a certain way, as they has throughout the trip: 444, 555, 1234, 345, and similar type sequences - many, many times.

We just landed. Now to figure out how to get off the plane, and on with my life.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Want to Truly, Fully Live?

It is 6:46am Pacific, local time, although the clock in the room at my motel says 6:48. At least it is not 3:00 like it was a week, or so ago, although in some way it could have been a good thing if it had been that early as I will need to be at the Seattle Airport tomorrow at 6:00.

I have been online for about a half an hour. A part of me says do pics, another says no. Just be. Just be with this moment. Just be with what you are feeling - all of it - including the anxiety.

Pictures would be a distraction.

Yesterday my present was filled with my past. I was listening to the radio, and all kinds of songs from many different times in my life played. I got stuck in traffic and reminded of what it used to be like to commute to work.
I went in the wrong direction more than once and was reminded of how getting lost would be stressful to me. Now it is more of a hiccup, an oops. (But more than once? That I don't really understand.)

Did I somehow think I would prolong my trip by the extra driving?

I got gas probably for the last time yesterday at an Oregon gas station. Apparently, it is unlawful to fill your own tank. It was rather nostalgic for me, as the attendants even washed my bug -stained car windows.

I am not sure how many miles I have travelled, but I am pretty sure it is close to 5000. Most of them I have been by myself physically, but I am sure that those who love me have been with me in spirit. I have often not felt alone.

There is something about being in a car, driving that energizes and nurtures me. There were some times I was sleepy - even in bright daylight and with cars around. But there were other times I was remarkably awake.

There are times I drove for hours and it didn't seem that way, and then the last 2 days where there was less territory covered, but it seemed to be taking forever.

Right now I am beside myself in some ways. A part of me wonders if I learned enough. Did enough. Talked to enough people. Did I do this trip "right"? Did I do my intention justice?

Another part knows it was exactly the way it was supposed to be - every last part of it. Every rest stop stop. Every picture taken. Every conversation had.

I did exactly what I set out to do - LIVE LIFE. I did not set out a plan to go by. I set out to take a trip and that is exactly what I did. I had zero expectations of what would occur between Point A and Point B. I had no number of people I had to talk to, or cards to give out every day, no pre-designated stop.

The fact is I have no idea how many cards were given out in total. Some only got the ovarian cancer card, others got both. I had optimistically printed 1000 trip cards. I am not sure if I even gave away 250. 

But it doesn't matter. This trip is my life, and it is not over. I will still be traveling through life when I get back east. The difference is that I will have to be dealing with different stuff.

I am already wondering how I will do it. I REALLY want to get back on the road and do more of this. I was already wondering how to do something like this before I was diagnosed. 

I am meant to do this. I am not even sure what "this" is in totality, but it feels so incredibly right.

I know people were worried about my taking this trip. Those "people" included me. I have felt pretty good, all things considered, and can only hope that it is a sign of some amazing news to come.

Even if the docs give me news I would rather not hear, I am still here. I am still living now, and I want to live as fully as I can, as long as I can.

That should be in some part the goal of all of us. We all know a Finish Line is coming. We can't be surprised when we get there, but many are since we like to act like there is always going to be another opportunity to love someone, to say good bye, to visit a place, to do that thing.

As long as we think that way, we act like a person who does not value their money. We squander opportunities to truly live and to completely, deeply love. 

We fill our lives with crap that is in some way supposed to fulfill us, but often is only a distraction. The food of the soul is the most nourishing, and it is the one we are most deficient in.

Truly connecting with another takes logic and ego out of the equation. Truly loving someone is timeless and without a plan to implement.

To truly live the life we live, it is a matter of how the moments are filled and felt more than it is about anything else we may think it is or could be.

I am grateful to have been able to not only figure it out, but live it. Although it was through living it that I got to figure it out.

It was through listening to that inner voice that got me to that point. What a gift that voice is, except so many of us silence it because of how it will make us look to another if we listen to it. But how does a denial of it have us see ourselves?

Maybe to truly live life is to fully embrace ourselves for that is when we find the most joy and peace, and are able to have the quiet to love another, because the "space" in and around us is not filled with stuff.

For years I have been talking about people being true to themselves. Little did I know how much of that equation I was missing. It is not about a lone situation or choice. It is not about a circumstance. It is about a way of life, a way of living.

It is about embracing each and every part of life - including the less desirable ones. It is about walking up to those things in front of us we would so much rather avoid and throwing our arms around it and giving it a big hug. It is about welcoming the opportunity that each and everyone and everything gives us to experience ourselves more fully.

Feel free to remind me of this if I seem to forget. We all have moments we awaken, only to hit the snooze. I hope that I won't be doing that, but life has a way about itself that takes us places we never anticipated going, so ya just never know.

We never know anything, really. We just think we do.

I will never fully know the impact of this trip. The beauty of it, though, is that the impact I am aware of is pretty dang awesome. 

I am grateful to that inner voice, and even more grateful that I not only knew I had to listen, but that I did. 

What does your inner voice tell you?