Thursday, January 30, 2014

Interesting How These Things Happen

There is a blogging community that I am a part of, and have been for a while. Among the reasons I take part, is it helps my blog get visits and activity.

When you post in the daily Facebook status, the expectation is that you will receive two comments on your blog post, at a minimum. Many times I have not gotten my two, and for a long time I just let it go.

Then one day I asked one of the organizer/moderators how I should handle it. It made me feel a bit petty/uncomfortable/like a tattletale, but the fact was as much as I would appreciate the comments, there was a part of me that really did not care.

What got me asking the question was the idea of the integrity of the exercise. If people were not doing as they "should," was it lessening what the exercise was offering?

I was instructed to say something when the expected comments did not show up. It would allow for education if someone did not understand what was expected. 

The whole thing still felt awkward to me, and now I am wondering if I should have somehow listened.

Today someone did not comment, so I asked about it. I got a like, but no comment, so several hours later I asked again, and I asked if there had been a problem or any difficulty.

The person responded that they were not feeling well, but that they had, and would look into it tomorrow. When I heard that, I said not to worry about it. It really wasn't all that important.

Private messages followed, and I explained what I explained above, and said not to worry about it. The last message I received was that the person felt insulted.

That got to me. I felt badly. But then I didn't. But I still sorta did. All I had done was seek to discover why there was no comment. There was no insult intended. Things happen, it really was no big deal. 

And yet...had I made it one by being so persistent? 

I hate things like this. The only thing I think I did wrong was not to listen to that voice that felt uncomfortable with the dynamic. I think the reaction was more about the person, and where they were at, than about what I said or did. The situation apparently triggered something.

The thing is now that person probably thinks less than kind things about me, and there is nothing I can do about it. I thought we were communicating, but apparently it was something less than that for them to walk off feeling as they did.

I suppose I could be misinterpreting things, too, as so much lacks in text only form. A part of me wants to say I am sorry, but another part is asking the question, "for what?"

It is interesting to me how things like this happen. It creates misplaced fault and blame and guilt. In actuality, none of those things needed to be a part of the resulting equation.

Whenever the idea of a "wrong" comes into play, all kinds of emotions and feelings get jettisoned. And wrong isn't inherent in a thing, it comes along with the meaning we attach to it.

I definitely feel conflicted about the whole thing, and I am not sure how I will proceed. The part of me that wants to react is ready to either stop partaking, or partake and just ignore when comments don't show up. Given those are reactionary responses, it remains to be seen what does happen.

And, with that off my chest, I am off to bed. Sweet dreams to you when you get there.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Only Writing Prompt You Will Ever Need

Well. Maybe that title isn't quite accurate. But there is a chance that it is, and here is why I say that.

When I began this blog over 1,000 entries ago, I had no idea what I was going to write about. What could I possibly have to say?

In the beginning I did not write much, part of it came from a 17 day hospital stay in which I was pretty drugged up. I didn't even realize at the time how long I had been in the hospital. The days just blurred together.

But that's another story...

The point is that in the beginning I wasn't writing everything that I was thinking and feeling. I was holding back and holding in. Do you realize how much of your life you hold back and hold in? Do you realize how much of what you know and feel stays inside? Do you realize how much those things could really matter to someone else, if you only shared them?

There will be things that mean nothing. There will be a lot of nothing. But there will also be a lot of something when you start to share yourself, when you start to share the things that mean something to you. There will be a lot of something when you share your unpopular ideas and thoughts. There will be a lot of something when you dare to be who you are, without a mask.

*GASP* OK. Breathe. It's OK. I know I just terrified some of you. "Easy for HER to say."

Well. No. Not really.

I did not get to where I am easily or effortlessly. I did not get to where I am because it is where I wanted to be - as I had no idea what "here" looked like until I arrived. It hasn't been easy. It has been quite rough at times. I am rocking boats at many turns, and there are times I still want to just run and hide. There are times I feel like I can do nothing right in many people's eyes.

And there is no denying it, it sucks.

But what sucks more is not being myself. What sucks more is not liking myself because someone else thinks I have done something wrong. There is nothing worse than thinking less of yourself because of another's judgment or beliefs. There is nothing worse than putting yourself aside and trying to fit what another thinks you should be.

Well. What about when no one seems to like you? What about when you are feeling lonely or isolated? They're pretty sucky things, too, aren't they? You're saying they're not worse?

That is a tough one. But yes. That is exactly what I am saying. And I say it because as I repel people in my life, I am also finding others that seem to appreciate and understand me for who I am. So as we shed the "old" there will be a transitional state. In addition, I don't know about you, but when I tried to be someone I wasn't, I didn't exactly fit anywhere, either. It was quite uncomfortable.

Where I stand now is at times simultaneously liberating and frustrating. But the thing is that I get to be myself, and there is more power in that than there is in anything. And it all came from allowing myself to just write what I felt.


If you are ever feeling stuck about what to write, allow yourself to write what wants to be written. My guess is that there are times there are things that would love to come out, but you're like, "No. I can't say that." I would be willing to bet a lot of things cross your mind and are vetoed pretty quickly because you are concerned about what others will think of it, or worse - of you.


I would be willing to be it seems like a big, a MAMMOTH, step for some of you who read this, but it won't be if you just do it one word at a time, one sentence at a time, one paragraph at a time.

You can look at a list of things to write about, or you can write about what is in your heart. You can write about what is in your head. You can write about your emotions, your feelings.

I was given some really great advice by someone when I was in fifth grade. She was my Sunday School Teacher. I remember being at her house, at the foot of the stairs. For some reason I do not remember the context of the conversation, but I clearly remember her saying to write the way I speak. 

I never forgot that.

For some reason, many go to write and get stymied because it is supposed to sound a certain way, and somehow it doesn't sound "that" way. Part of the reason might just be because it is stilted. It doesn't come across as you. It comes across as someone trying to write.

Write like you speak. Write from the heart. And all will be right with the world. Well. Not really. It did sound pretty good, though, didn't it? You do that and you will likely make waves, and it will be bumpy. But the cool thing is that you will get to be who you are.

And you know what? That person who has been struggling to come out is likely pretty dang cool once you get to know her/him, and allow them to develop themselves without being pushed down, pushed away, or made to feel badly for who they are. When that person is given the freedom to just be, you might just surprise yourself. I know who I have found myself to be has surprised me on more than one occasion.

I love the people behind the stuff, and often they are not easy to find. Too many times the people are covered up by the mask or by the business they're trying to promote. Even when I try to get to the core of a person, it often gets diverted into something else. Marketers have taught people how to communicate things of themselves for the purpose of selling a product. I can't stand it.

Follow what I have said and you may just get a 2 for 1. You will get to write more freely, and you will get to more freely be yourself.

Wouldn't that be something?

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Stream of Consciousness

About a week ago I wrote what follows. I had no idea where I was headed, and there is no final destination, or neat wrap up. I was going through my blog today, and was reminded that this was in draft form. Even though I often say that my blog is like my personal journal, there are some times I am a bit more acutely aware that someone is looking over my shoulder, and times when I am feeling my least clear are some of them. That is why I tucked this away. I am publishing it as the stream of consciousness it was.

I am sitting here, watching the light, fluffy, beautiful snow fall sideways. It is likely I will not leave the house until the weekend, when the temp goes above freezing.

There is a garage that my car could be parked in, if it wasn't full of stuff yet to be unpacked and found a home. I am saying these things because I want to write, but don't know where to start, in part because I am not sure where I am headed. At least if I knew the destination, I would have a sense of which way to turn.

For that reason, I guess the "logical" place to start is exactly where I did - in the moment. I am feeling very unsettled. Things seem to be in a regular state of flux for me. Yeah. I know life is like that, even when you're not dealing with cancer. I have felt this way other times in my life, long before a diagnosis ever showed up.

 I am really struggling today. I feel like I can't do anything right. I failed at an on-line event because I wasn't really ready, but I dived in any way - at least to the degree that I could, given my energy levels and the fact that I had to finish moving.

I wanted to have a few conversations with some people, but can't for reasons that I can not control, and that bothers me because it in some part has to do with the fact that I am dealing with cancer.

I am feeling frustrated financially. I am feeling like I don't know how to be, how to act, what to do. My life now has cancer written all over it. Part of it is by design. I decided a long time ago that if I could help others to deal with their situations, I would do just that.

I sometimes wonder because I may not seem to have it all together and all fixed if that could be why despite my attempts to reach out, I haven't been able to find those that might benefit from what I have to offer. I also wonder if people might think, "oh, I shouldn't bother her." If only people that might think that would realize that I want to be "bothered" in a way in which I might be able to contribute to others.

There are times like this that even though I have much to offer, I feel quite useless. I realized today that when I can't seem to express myself in a productive way, then I express my experience instead.

I think it quite likely that people don't know what to do with the latter, or even want to hear it, so they stay silent, or stay away which makes things all that much more difficult and frustrating for me. On top of that, there are times I wonder if anyone cares about what I am going through. Odds are there are some who do, but because they feel helpless to do anything about it, they do nothing.

More than once I have told people how they can help me, but because I don't seem to do it the "right" way or package it correctly, they again do nothing. The biggest thing that people could do - if they did nothing else - would be to share about me and my story. But I get told by people all the time that they can't. They just can't bring it up in conversation. I am supposed to understand.

I do. But I don't. There are ways to do things - people just have to want to do them. Because the topic of a conversation about me is uncomfortable, or would provide discomfort, people don't want to bring it up. I bring it up more than I would like to myself, but do it in part because I want to deflate it as much as possible.

Remaining silent only makes it worse. Better to talk about it and bring it into the light of day. But in some ways *I* have to do it. Pretty much anyone else can go on with their life without even thinking about it.

 I would love to act like everything is fine. I would like to have a "regular" life again. I would love to talk about all kinds of things and have cancer not play such a big role. I found myself wondering if I could actually do that. I am not sure how it would work, quite frankly. cancer is a part of the equation, whether I want it to be, or not, and whether I like it, or not.

It has also become something I feel important to bring up. People have no clue what those dealing with cancer deal with. Some can afford to be blissfully unaware. In some ways I am jealous of that. I used to be there. I used to be in a place where I could choose whether or not I would interact with the idea of it because I didn't have to. I always knew I would likely suck if someone really close to me had to deal with it, because I just felt so awkward around it myself.

Well. cancer decided that I needed to learn how to get more comfortable around it, apparently. It gave me quite the wake-up call. It showed me a lot about how how I acted with a couple I knew who had dealt with it. Interestingly, with one of them, I had a foreshadowing of what was to become MY experience.

In speaking with her, I had the thought that she could help others in dealing with cancer. She seemed to want nothing to do with it. I suspect she, like many others, just wanted to put it behind her. Even if I had a lifestyle in which I could put it behind me, I don't think I would want to.

It feels "right" to share about the things I go through. But then I wonder every time that I share stuff that makes me upset (especially) I wonder how many people think, "oh, there she goes again." I wonder how many people think less than flattering things about me because I hang out all of my undergarments for people to see. And when you do that, people often think you must be doing that for a reason, like you want attention. They judge you, and often in a way that if you were to get their judgment, they'd be trying to tell you how to fix things.

Imagine someone trying to help you fix everything you think. Most of it you never share, and that is probably a good thing. I really wish I didn't feel the need to be so open. I never used to be like this. I never used to share the kinds of things you just know someone else will judge. I knew enough to keep silent.

I have come to realize, though, that it is that stuff that we're supposed to express. What good is it when it is kept in? It really isn't good. Plus in sharing we come to learn to stop judging ourselves because we see that what we do is not so unusual, and that others are just as likely to have similar stuff, but we'd never know it while we choose to be quiet.

The more I have spoken about my experience, the more I have had people tell me about theirs. For some it is very much a relief to be able to let it out. It was a burden to have to hold it in. I can sometimes literally see physical relief.


In some ways I know I matter. But there are more times I feel like I don't matter than times that I feel that I do matter. I had visited with a shaman at one point, and my aunt who died almost a year ago was there in spirit. I was kind of stunned, and it never occurred to me to talk to her for myself.

My aunt, though, very much wanted a message to get through to her kids, my cousins. She lived for her kids. There were times I was jealous of them, given my lack of relationship with my own mother. My cousins had an amazing mother, and for a time, she was kind of like my third mother (my grandmother who raised me til 10th grade, when she died, being my second mother).

I appreciated all that she did for me, but over time she didn't make much of an effort to talk to me, so I got to the point where I made less of an effort, too. We really didn't have much of a connection after a time, and the Christmas before I left for California was the last time I saw her. I somehow knew when I left her house that night that it would probably be the last time I would see her - even though she did not die for several more years.

For that reason, I guess, it should come as no surprise that she wouldn't necessarily have something to say to me, but the reason she came up in the session was because there were times that she was hanging around me. Perhaps obviously that meant that she cares/d about me. But I wanted to hear something from her besides how much she loved her own kids.

This has made me think about my relationship with my own mother, and it is sorely lacking. I never felt as close to my own mom as I did with my aunt. I could speak with my aunt about things I never would discuss with my mother.

As a result of many things, including this stuff, I am feeling rather lost and disconnected. I am feeling unimportant. I think one role that friends play in our lives is one in which we get to see how much we matter. They tell us we are valued and appreciated. When people won't interact with you, if you don't have a good inner core of worth and value, it is likely all too easy to feel devalued. And that is what this is telling me right now.

I must not have that inner core because there is a part of me that is feeling devastated by the crumbling of most any relationship that I have valued, which is some way is tantamount to the crumbling of any self-worth I thought I had. If a tree falls in a forest, does it make a sound? If you have limited, or no, ability to interact with others, do you have value?

A part of me thinks the answer is No. That part of me scares me, though. Because if the answer is no, then why am I still here? And it could also mean I won't be much longer. I don't want to give up. That is not what this is about. At the same time, how long can you keep swimming without getting tired? It is not like I haven't reached out. I have done the best I can, given my situation. I can only do so much, and there is so much that is impossibly difficult about handling things any differently. I get treated like a "normal" business person, and that isn't exactly the case.

Making Fun of the Southerners and the Snow?

In early 2011, you might remember that the weather in January was pretty tough, like now. I was driving from CA to the east coast, and all was fine until I was driving in TX and a storm hit. 

I kept telling people that it was bad, but no one on the east believed me, as there seemed to be a minimal amount of snowfall. They just figured I wasn't "used" to driving in the snow any more. 

But, here's the thing...in weather like that, in places like that, most people try to stay off the roads, which means no traffic is wearing the snow down. There is no salt, and no plows. So it snows, and the roads can easily become treacherous with a minimal snowfall. 

I had an incident, and had to get out of my car. I discovered that I had been driving on an ice rink. The road was solid ice. 

Laugh, if you will, but it is a serious problem/mess for those areas unlikely to have this kind of weather. I suspect a bit of compassion might be better, though. 

Just my couppla cents worth. 

As a native New Yorker who grew up in snow, I was pretty dumbfounded, and I got to think about it a bit, as I got stuck in Coleman, TX for 4 days because the roads were so bad. 

I have to say, though, that TX has an excellent line you can call to get road conditions. If it is gonna be bad, at least it is good to have a resource like that. 

Just thought I would share my experience for the benefit of those who might not have a clue, given how "spoiled" those in colder climates are when it comes to dealing with this stuff.

It is like so many other things in life. Unless we are there, or are exposed to it, we can judge all too easily - based on what we think we know, in our experience, within our environment. The sum total of which likely "fails" when we overlay it over what another is dealing with in terms of what they know, in their experience, and within their environment.

We don't like when others do it to us, and yet how often do we do it to them?

Friday, January 24, 2014

I Am Such A Screw-Up

I just realized something. It seems like a fairly obvious something, but I think it is something we do not often - if ever - realize. Do you know the definition of a screw-up is? It is the perceived failure to live up to an expectation. Often, but not always, it stems from the disappointment of another that you failed to do what he or she thought was expected or required. Even when it comes from what seems to be a self-appointed expectation, its roots may be firmly planted in what another believed, and therefore it was what you were also taught to believe. 

If you think about it, people have different ideas of what is "correct," and therefore expected, and yet we walk around thinking that our arbitrary beliefs are right so everyone must know what we know, and believe what we believe. So of course when a person does something outside of your limited parameters, the "correct" ones, at that, the other person can appear to have screwed up. 

There are times that people will be told how they screwed up in no uncertain terms. Other times they will be treated differently, without a word because they violated some convention they either did not know about, or chose to ignore.

I have spent much of my life living in uncertainty, often wondering how you know what the "right" thing to do or say was. I have often kept my mouth shut, knowing I will get myself in trouble for saying what I really feel, which greatly implies that the way I look at things is flawed. This, after having had had that exact experience many times with those who disagreed with me.

Occasionally I would feel stifled, and occasionally I would desperately want to know how to say something in a way not to get into an argument. It was either that, or praying to somehow be shown the light of day, to be shown why I was perceived to be such an awful person at times, to be able to see things differently, so that there would be no conflict.

The way I have seen things has either made me delusional or self-centered. Neither definition flattering. It never was that I was "right," and I have been constantly at odds with myself for all of the times I apparently screwed up. Why couldn't I do better? What did I not know? I read so many books. I spent so much money on seminars. I heard more things that made me question myself more. I shed beliefs.  I took on beliefs. I shed those beliefs. I came to see that things said did not seem to make sense, but that people could make sense of most anything. I came to see ideas of different people and belief systems being at potential odds with one another. Which one was right???

Before the diagnosis, I had silently been coming more and more to the place within myself that *I* was. However, once I was diagnosed, I felt differently. Being so close to dead I realized that if I could be dead tomorrow it really did not matter what I said or did today - I just thought it did. I felt empowered, but I also felt rather bitchy. I am sure some likely thought the label fit. I certainly felt like a girl with attitude. I hoped it would stick around, but in the back of my mind I suspected once I was back in the "real" world, I might not be quite the same. 

It would be OK, if I could somehow find a balance. If I could learn to speak my mind, in spite of backlash. If I could find a way not to cower when feeling scolded for doing things wrong. If I could accept others doing what they did without judging them, or holding it against them. If I could stand up for who I was - ALL of me, the good, the bad, the ugly. I was going to stop questioning myself every time someone thought I had done wrong. Their opinion was no longer going to make me doubt or question myself. 

The key turned out to be how I felt internally. If I felt OK inside, but others outside of me weren't OK, that would be different than if internally what I felt matched what another felt. Too many times in the past, there would be a part of me very unhappy with things because they would be a denial of self taking place.

In the process I have learned to say what I feel. Is it always logical? Does it always make sense? No and no. But I have learned to accept it because it is what it is. In cases where other people are involved, I will do my best to explain where I am at, and not try to counter where they are at. I have learned to as much as possible give people what I need, an acceptance of where they are.

How does it work when we are at odds? There are times it doesn't. The difference, for me, though, is that I am not left here in a shattered mess, questioning myself. I am much more OK with what does and does not happen, as long as I express the things I feel I need to express.

I have come to believe that a big part of our collective problems come from 2 things: not expressing how we feel, and not letting others know what we expect from them. If you are out with people, and you have an expectation that they act a certain way, then you need to let them know. It is not fair to expect that they will have the same ideas as you. Then, if they act differently than you would like, it would be good to say how you feel about it. Not, though, telling them they were jerks, but rather how YOU feel. Disappointed. Frustrated. Whatever the case may be. Get in touch with how you are feeling and affected. It gets it out of you, and allows for things to keep moving. Held internally, there can be resentment that builds up, anger, and it can affect you and others more than you realize. 

Believe it, or not, there is a lot of freedom in saying what you feel. It diffuses so much. I had someone who let it out when it came to me, and I was calmer than I have ever been. Not defensive. Just listened and acknowledged what she had to say. Oddly now I only vaguely remember what was said.

People talk so much about being in the moment, but you can't be there if you carry stuff from the past with you. 

For as much as things have gotten better for me, I still get frustrated because I can't interact with someone who isn't being communicative. If we have a shot of communicating with each other, it comes from a place of honesty, not a facade. It comes from saying what we feel, and allowing for how another feels. Sometimes it takes nothing more than that to move forward.

If you don't say what you really feel, it will likely become a stumbling block, or even a wall. If you say what you feel, then all kinds of things can happen - even good. So many times we think we know something, only to find out that what we thought isn't what it was at all, and then don't we feel stupid at times?

Have I perfected all of this? Hardly. But I suspect that the best I could ever hope for is something that takes me to the places where I better love and trust and get to know myself. It sounds selfish for us to say our lives are about us. But I think that the more we love and respect and appreciate ourselves, the more accessible we will be to those who will love and respect and appreciate us. Maybe life is a means to uncovering ourselves. Maybe the others in it play the necessary roles for us to get what we came for. Maybe the more we are true to who we are, the more we compel people to be who they are.

And...maybe, just maybe, the more true we are about ourselves and our lives, the richer and more loving and fulfilling our experience will be. Maybe the dance that we do that skirts who we are for whichever reason we choose is what has society looking the way it does. 

We would be doing each other a huge favor by hearing another person's truth. It doesn't mean we have to agree with it, or even do anything with it, but it would be a start to something amazing; I am sure. And the reason I am sure is because I have seen how amazing it is to not only be able to say what I feel, and be acknowledged, but also how incredible it is to allow that for another. It opens things up in a way nothing else seems to.

Just because someone doesn't like something about me, doesn't mean that it is accurate. They may just think it is, based on whatever they think they know of me. It may also be that it is perfectly on target, too. But so what? Really. So what? Not everyone will like me or what I say or what I do. The only one that really matters is me. And, better yet, I don't have to pretend to be someone I am not. It is hard to walk around with a mask, don't you think?

I know I rub people the wrong way at times - especially when I don't play the games that many do. I think my frankness stuns people and is off-putting. It just feels so much nicer to pretend that things are so much nicer than they really are. The forced smiles. The pleasantries. The pseudo-relationships that are more a ploy for business opportunities. People say they want to connect so they do things that resemble things you might do when you connect, but since it is often a superficial means to an end, those involved are often left wanting.

I know I am not the only person who feels this way. I know I am not the only peron who wishes to be mask-free. I know I am not the only one who wants to be able to be freely and completely who she is. However, I am one of the few who has been startled awake by a disease that is intended to put me to sleep forever. It woke me up enough to see through the smoke and mirrors we use to delude ourselves into believing that we know anything with any certainty about this life we live.

I may seem rough around the edges, or even rough all round, but at least with me you pretty much get what you see. You know how I feel, and where I stand. There are no guessing games, and there is no second-guessing. And despite the fact that you may think that you prefer not to know certain things, I would be willing to bet there have been any number of times in your life that you wish people would be more like me, even just a little bit.

There are just so many things attached to so many other things, that the minute we hear something we don't like, it is easy to have buttons pushed. It takes practice to get to the place I describe. I haven't always been here. Who I am now has only a faint resemblance of who I was 10 years ago. Even the me of a year ago wasn't anywhere near the me of now.

When you feel like you have nothing to lose, that is when the freedom truly comes to be who you are. At least that is how it happened for me. 

The "problem" I now face is how to be this person in a world of way too many who prefer I be the person who plays by all kinds of rules seen and unseen. For that reason, I don't blame one person for staying in the game. It certainly feels safer there. The only problem with that is a false sense of security that comes at the cost of pieces of yourself. They may seem small, but over time they have a way of adding up, and taking away huge chunks of soul that are gone before you even knew they were not only there, but suffering in silence.

At this point I would rather "screw up" than allow another piece of me to committ silent suicide, so I will continue to find my way along this path. If I do not live up to how you think I should be, or if you don't appreciate my emotions and feelings and reactions, or if you think less of me somehow because of how I am, I am not surprised. You certainly won't be the first, nor shall you be the last. Wherever you are in relation to me, odds are you are in good company. 

Conduits and Connections

Back in 2009-ish, I was spending a lot of time on Twitter. It is where I met some really great people I am still in touch with today, but now on Facebook, and a couple that even transcend the world of the internet. For those who I really connect with, I am so grateful. I value each and every connection, and the ones I value the most are the ones who really get what I am going through because they are going through some version of "it" themselves.

On Facebook in the last couple of days someone quoted the conversation of a couple on the NYC subway. Apparently, a woman on a crowded subway said she'd rather be on welfare than have to deal with the subway on a regular basis. Her companion agreed, and said next time they'd have to take a car service. 

Obviously they are so far removed from the experience, they cannot relate to it, or likely anyone who does use it. I recently read that (if it is true) Ed Norton did not want to get to the point when he could not ride the subway. Two different perspectives, each right for their perspective "owner," and on different ends of the spectrum. Short of some shift, they would likely never be able to relate to each other - at least when it comes to the NYC subway.

It seemed that those who spent time on Twitter had something that I had, and we were able to connect through the conduit that is the site. Once I stopped spending time there, another conduit needed to be found, or the connection lost, and there have been a lot of lost connections because they were dependent on that one device for continuity of connection.

It occurs to me that is pretty much how life can be. Our shared experiences are what connect us, and help us relate to each other. Even if we don't stay in contact with someone for a while, we can still connect with the piece that we once had, and be off and running again.

Since I have not been close to anyone personally who has dealt with cancer, many that I have known can't relate to me now - based on cancer. It seems in many cases, cancer is all they see. It is like what has been has been forgotten, or at least pushed into the background, covered by the glare of the disease.

How do we choose how we relate? It seems to me that in average day-to-day events it is much easier to relate and connect over the good stuff and the relatable stuff. But when something transcends those two categories, it seems that is when the wheels have the greatest chance of falling off.

Interestingly, I think the greatest opportunity for connection comes when we are uncomfortable, and still move forward, and still try to stay connected. It is where we can learn the most, and touch and be touched the most.

Someone I have met in the last year told me that when we first met she had her doubts. She had her own stuff going on, and wondered about getting involved with me in some way. She has told me more than once that she is glad she got past that stuff, and chose to get to know me. I have really valued our talks, and it would seem we have a mutually beneficial dynamic, part of which is based on a mutual understanding of certain things. She gets stuff others may never get about what I am dealing with, and she knows that the same applies when I hear her talk about herself. I can almost hear the relief in her voice when she knows someone understands.

I have felt fo a long time that I am meant to be in the places people do not expect me to be. I have felt that way because of the countless times and conversations that I have had that have been in those places. Had I been where I "belonged," it would never have happened. 

I think there have been times that I may have helped to bridge a gap in understanding for another, or given them an opportunity to make a bridge for themselves to take their next step because they felt better about some part of themselves. It is times like those that make me think I am doing the right thing, although it can be at times incredibly uncomfortable.

I haven't gone looking for these connections, but a few have shown up. Maybe they are a gift to me in very much the same way I have been a gift for another who wasn't expecting it. We act like we can control our lives, our loves, what we do, don't do, but I think it is those things that surprise us that have the greatest amount of impact. I have looked for connection, and never felt more lonely. Maybe we think we make connections, but life really does it for us.


I did not plan on this entry. I actually planned to share a link to some past work I did. http://bbltwt.com/dk86w The page is a number of "Bubbletweets" I made when I was active on Twitter. They do not seem to work on the Safari browser on the iPad, but they work on the iPhone. They are short videos that pop up in a bubble,

The one that shows me live is more interesting to me now, given all that I have been through, and the fact that I now have over 230 videos on my YouTube channel (GotStressGetRelief.com). It is a mixed bag of stuff. Perhaps you'll enjoy a bit of it.

So now I have shared not only what I intended, but also my tangent. :) I never truly know where I will wind up. We all have a sense of the things we want, but I wonder how often they become anything like we think they will be. I  wonder how many times they're convuluted and more complicated than we want them to be, but I also wonder how often they are better than we could have imagined or hoped for.

There are occasionally times I go back and read what I wrote. While those things made perfect sense to me at the time, I have no freaking clue what I meant! I suppose it doesn't really matter, as it must have served some purpose at the time. Odd how we change and shift when we're not looking.

I guess that is also what you get when you think out loud. I don't know about you, but it is this process that helps me clarify what I think and feel. And it is a process. Life is a process. We are always, ever becoming. 

People talk about transformation like it is something you do, and then you are done. Life is ever transforming, and us with it. It has always been, and it will never end. There is no beginning to it. 

We think there is a beginning because we are told we need to transform which inherently implies that we must begin. But it seems to me that it is just an endless ride that just goes in different directions at different times. Looking at it that way, there is nothing to do - but keep going.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Game

Last night I dreamt I was moving. I was headed somewhere, but apparently could not go where I wanted to because time was restricting me. Actually, another person's needs/requirements were restricting me because I had to be somewhere due to what they wanted, and that was why the time restriction. It was in the opposite direction I wanted to go.

So I decided to store a few things, and go back where I needed to go. In the process of storing, though, there seemed to be a leak. I called out for help, and when the person came, they callously moved my stuff, and it got damaged in the process.

In particular there was an old game. I opened the box and saw the damage. I debated about keeping it any way, or just getting a new one. But I really did not play the game any more. Was there any point in getting a new one, really?

When I think about this in relation to my life, it makes sense. I sometimes wind up doing the things someone else wants me to do. There are times it costs me my "game." 

I am finding myself a lot less likely to play games these days, and yet, there is a part of me that wishes I still had them. I am letting stuff go - in some cases - rather reluctantly because I feel they no longer fit the idea of something I want to have.

When most everyone plays games, and wears masks, it is very difficult to be the one who doesn't. Most people "fit" because they are willing to play along. 

Stopping playing can almost be akin to coming to a dead stop on the freeway, while vehicles zoom past you. It is dangerous to stop there - you may just get hurt. But the thing is, sometimes you don't have a choice. It just is what needs to happen.

There are times I wish I could again play the game. There is comfort there. There is a sense of belonging there, fitting in. 

There is also a sense of collusion. People are misled to believe that the game is what is necessary to function and to fit in. You only need to look at those who don't play for validation of this "truth."

But when it is time to give up the game, there is no going back. Even if you do try, it doesn't feel the same. It isn't as easy, or as seamless as it used to be. It can be downright uncomfortable, even worse than the discomfort of walking away from it, and that is saying something.

At this point I don't want to go back, but the thing is I do not know what moving forward looks like. It is uncharted territory and at times quite lonely. When you are outside of the game everyone else is busily playing it is difficult to get their attention, and if you do, you might get the evil eye for distracting them. You might also get people who have no idea what to do with you because you don't fit their parameters, or play by the rules. 

It isn't one-sided, either. Once you step out of the game, you aren't quite sure how to play with those in it any more. There is a perspective that comes from being outside of it that does not fit within the game's boundaries. 

The feeling of being lost can live there especially because you can no longer go back and fit. But you do not know where you do fit. 

If you try to go back, and somehow succeed, it could be at a great personal cost. You may have surrendered a part of your soul to be in a place you should no longer be. You may act like you are OK and happy, but it is all just part of a well played game.

You ever try to walk away from a game? You are called a "sore loser" a "quitter," all kinds of unflattering things. We have been taught from an early age that it is never a good idea to quit a game.

Quitting, in general, has a bad reputation. And yet, we not only know how to do it, we are capable. 

Why should we know these things and not respect one's ability to act on them? Because it ruins the game. 

Sometimes a game is just between two people, and if one walks away, there is no longer a game. You may have quit, but the other person had no desire to. 

The result? If they are going to continue to play, they need to find a new person who will play the game with them, who knows the rules as you knew them, preferably. It has the ability to make all kinds of havoc when you stop playing the game - in other people's lives, as well as your own.

Society tries to tell us we need to play life by the rules of the game. It tries to tell us it is for our own good and well-being. But people break rules all the time. Apparently a rule of any kind can be broken, and yet we think that the institution of rules is the "answer" to the problems we face in life. And because we believe this, those who dare to step outside of them are not viewed kindly. 

I suspect we are all meant to stop playing the game. I suspect there may be some cases in which people who feel they can't stop are jealous of those who do, and the only way to deal with it is to do whatever they can to make that person come back - or regret that they ever left. 

Those who do something in the face of discomfort aren't acting out of fear. There is something within that speaks louder than the fears of what will happen as a result of their actions. For that reason, I think it possible that those who act to keep a level of comfort, quite possibly could be acting from a fearful place. 

When you feel you have nothing to lose, fear can no longer play a role, and fear plays a huge role in The Game. When you stop playing The Game, you have taken away fear's ability to affect your actions, but it still has the ability to greatly affect those still in The Game. And fear will whisper in their ear when they notice that the framework it is built upon might be crumbling. 

Fear is only as powerful as those it holds captive. But fear is wise. It will never make it look like what it is, so when people act from a place of fear, it could very well look like a place of love and conviction, and other "good" things.

I have no idea if I am "right" about any of this stuff. It is just coming to me, and I am sharing.

I suspect a great part of life's learning comes from The Game. After all, you only have perspective when you can see from a different vantage point. The Game offers that opportunity, provided we are willing to step outside of it.

I also know that we change - even when we don't want to, or aren't looking. As a result, one day we may come to a totally different perspective about something we have known our whole life. 

Why that moment? My best guess is that things were building to that moment, and that moment needed everything that came before it for it to happen. It could be that everything that came before shifted the frequency of the message that was there all along, but we could just not hear it.

It is in a moment that we find a precious piece of ourselves that we find a precious peace within ourselves. Perhaps it is then that we know that fear has no role in what we are doing.

If we have to work really hard to maintain something, maybe, just maybe, it is not meant to be maintained. And, maybe, just maybe, if something resonates for us and we act on it despite its seeming illogical nature, we are having a moment in which we have stepped outside The Game.

And, maybe, just maybe, that is a GOOD thing.

Addendum: I was getting ready to share this, and saw the following quote from St Augustine, "Miracles are not contrary to nature but only contrary to what we know about nature." 

What about life is miraculous, but we just don't know or realize it? What if all the pain and fear and confusion and...are all apart of a greater picture, and are a part of a picture outside of our current "knowing"? What if what we think we know of these things being "bad" is just a lack of human knowledge and awareness of a greater whole?

It kinda sucks, I think. Lol. But maybe that is just a part of The Game, too. Maybe it has us think we what think so we can't know what we know. Hmm. I wonder...



There is a wide assortment of things that are going through my head the last few days. I have tried to write a blog entry, but it sits as a draft at the moment. Perhaps one day it will be published, and perhaps it will just sit as an unfinished ode of some sort.

I have been feeling very anxious. It seems there is a lot being stirred up inside of me, and it is coming in different ways. I feel overwhelmed, and out of control. The irony, of course, is that I am never in control to begin with.

I am thinking that my inability to get "it" out could be getting to me. I am suddenly acutely aware of what people may think. I am suddenly wondering how I will sound when I express my dismay, anger, fears. 

I am getting to the end of my rope in some ways, and feel like so many previous pleas have been unaddressed by others, what is the point of once again expressing myself? 

It is no different in appearance to anyone "watching" my life unfold. cancer. Feeling alone. Frustrated. Running out of money. Can't work. Tired. Doing all I can, but it is not enough. Don't know what to do. Need help. Finding mostly silence.

But there is a difference - in my world. There are times helplessness creeps in. And futility. Questions about what is the point of my being here. A much lower bank account, and a much greater need.

It is a struggle. At times a huge one. It is difficult to feel like options are dwindling. It is difficult to do anything when most days I do not get out of bed til 11, and wind up back in bed by 2:00, and sleep several more hours, only to get up a bit, eat, try to do something - and usually failing - and then head back to sleep. There have been days I have easily slept 15 hours.

I think about how the easiest thing for me to do right now would be to write my book. But because other things need to be attended to, including attempting to find ways I can have a more immediate income, doesn't exactly support that idea.

I think about creating another fundraising attempt to give me the funds to do it, but it feels like too much work. I don't know that I could create and manage a campaign and delivering on the perks.

I feel when I talk this way that there will be those who think I am making excuses. I am not adverse to working; I just don't have much to work with at the moment. The times that I do have something to work with, I wind up pushing really hard because I feel like I have to do what I can - while I can. Sadly, those moments are rarer than I would like them to be, and the other moments cost me more than I can afford. 

But I have no choice. Not if I want to continue treatment. Which I really do not want to, but am not sure what other choice I have. I hope to be here a while, but the medical profession has significant concerns about what is happening inside this body. If it was up to them, I would be on chemo. Chemo that would not likely stop the cancer, but chemo, none-the-less.

I feel like such a broken record at times, and wonder if there is any point to repeating myself over and over and over. But the thing is...if I stop talking it likely means I have given up.

I don't know at times how to live when I am trying so hard just to survive. I think when people experience me, they mostly see cancer. Yes. It is my fault. I talk about it. A lot.

The thing is, dealing with cancer gives me limited ability to deal with other things. So much of my life and interactions are affected by this thing. I can't get away from it, not the way others can. Others can just choose to tune me out so they don't get brought down, or to a negative space, or whatever reason seems to fit.

I suspect I could talk about it a lot less if I was able to live more easily. That would involve finding a way to have an income. That would involve more people willing to interact more with me than any fears they have.

Yes. I am talking about other people, and not myself. It is not like I am blaming anyone. I am doing all that I can to help myself, and in the process I am hitting some significant obstacles. 

I could say it is all me, but I am not going to. Looking only at me lets others off the hook. Saying it is only me stops any potential conversation that might just help others, too. 

Could it all be me? I have wondered that more than once, but I can't seem to come up with any pertinent answers that are helpful. 

The best I can do is tell myself that I am doing the best I can do, and be open to whatever may unfold for me. I know there are things I have yet to uncover about myself. We all have them. Life is good for hiding those dang nuggets.

But anything else becomes punishing and agonizing, as I wonder what I have done wrong, or how I could better do things "right" - which equates to a "fixed" life. If my life was fixed, then I'd be doing things right, right? Anything less, then I have to be doing something wrong. I must have some blind spot. There HAS to be something, of course.

Well. No. I would have thought that at one time. But not any more. Sometimes life just sucks. Sometimes things we don't want to happen, do. Many times we can't do a damn thing to "fix" it, and if we are lucky enough we may come to understand the role the character of the situation played in our life. There will be times, though, we may not have a freaking clue, but it makes us no less of a person for it, and it doesn't mean we have done a damn thing wrong.

Which, by the way, means that anyone reading this is doing exactly what they need to in regard to themselves in relation to me. It may suck for me to be living in this void while others preciously guard themselves, but I get it.

I understand a lot logically, but it doesn't help me in my situation or help me feel any better about what I have to contend with. I have used a drowning metaphor before, and it works here. I may be drowning, and know that it could be dangerous for you to try to help me if you can't swim. But while I am drowning, all I will see and experience - if anything - in my fight to survive is that there is someone on the shore, if only they could/would help. I will experience those things - maybe - as I ultimately drown.

Yes. I understood why you stood by helplessly watching me go down. And I still drowned.

That would be quite the note to end on. Very dramatic. I debated about leaving it there, but for your sake, I did not. I would have been fine ending it there. It felt like the end. But the thing is it might have sent the "wrong" message. It might sound like I am blaming "you," and I am not.

Having said that, I see others like me who struggle, and I see how they are treated and/or ignored. There is a bigger picture here, and if we are are so "quick" to hold a person responsible for their situation, why does our life involve any form of interaction? If we say something is a person's own fault, then it lets us off the hook of "having" to be responsible for making a difference for another human being's experience. 

What are the chances that some of the ways the world seems to be unravelling have to do with our inability to interact with each other? What if in helping another - even when we think we have nothing to give - even when we may think it isn't our burden to deal with - we get something for ourselves in the process? What if being empathic and making a difference for another makes a difference in the bigger picture, as well as for ourselves?

Are we potentially missing an opportunity when we give someone good wishes instead of giving them a piece of ourselves? I don't know the answer, but I think it an interesting question to ask.

And on that note, I am finished. I am also feeling a bit better. It really does help to write. Good night.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Feeling sad and at a loss: Stuff on My Mind

Someone I know, a person I once called "friend," is having a highlight of her life happening right now, and I only know because of things I have seen on Facebook. We have not had contact in quite a while, and some messages sent in the last year went unanswered.

The last time we spoke, I was an emotional wreck - scared - terrified - given all that I was going through. At the time I was undergoing chemo, and was not in the best place.

Was that why we haven't spoken since? Nothing. Not one word. At one point I was told through someone else that she was going to send some financial support. As far as I know, it never came.

I really care so much more about the loss of communications than I do about something that never happened. I have  learned that I can't count on something until it shows up. For that reason, I am never upset when someone says they'll do something, but then doesn't.

What is bothering me, exactly?

I am sad. I am sad that someone I care about is off having some wonderful things happen in her life, and I am not a part of it. It is something she had been working for, and things seem to be moving  forward in the direction she has wanted for so long, and I can't even give her a congratulatory embrace - even if it is "just" on the phone.

I debated about sending her a message - one she may not see, or even acknowledge. Does she not want me in her life? Is what is going on with me too much of a "downer" for all of the joy she seems to be experiencing?

Maybe it has nothing to do with me, that phone call, my tears, fears, or cancer. Maybe we have just diverged paths, and I will just have to wish her well in spirit, and at a distance.

It just sucks. I feel so separate from people I once knew and felt close to. I think what hurts isn't so much what SHE is doing, as much as it is the isolation I feel.

The pain goes much deeper than one person's actions, or lack of action. I think  what is happening is just stirring the brew.

People talk about the physical repercussions of cancer often, but little is ever said about the toll it can take in other ways - including relationships.

While what is happening likely has nothing to do with me personally in regard to my situation, I am fairly sure given my other experiences, I cannot discount it totally.

And I really am not quite sure what to do about it.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Where is the Humanity?

I just saw this image and explanation on <a href="https://m.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=574320019247104&id=218524331493343&set=a.219802384698871.70289.218524331493343&source=48&__user=100000516541345"> Facebook about Marina Abramović</a>She is a performance artist who, for 6 hours, let people do whatever they wanted with her while she did not move. Apparently, things became rather violent, rather quickly.

In thinking about it, our increasingly electronically based world detaches us from the humanity of others. We become separated from the effects of our words and actions upon another when we do not experience their response. 

I have talked about empathy before, but now I see how it is important in a way that our lives may truly depend on it. If we cannot truly feel what another feels, we will have no reason to care about what another feels, or what they experience.  

In order to survive, what if our lives depended on being able to see ourselves in others - even in the vulnerability and ugliness?

I bet on some level we think we are protecting ourselves by staying away. But in some way, I suspect we are denying a piece of ourselves every time we do that. And it is not like that piece doesn't exist. It probably is a lot worse left in the dark than when it is allowed to see the light of day.

Facing stuff may not always be desired, and may often seem scary, but there is an incredible freedom on the "other side," and the ability to really connect to another that can be incredibly rewarding.

It all starts with taking a risk. Risking looking weak, vulnerable, bad. The greatest irony is that most anyone can likely identify with where you are, if they only allow themselves to acknowledge it. 

We somehow think we are connecting by being someone we are not, but instead it is only serving to separate ourselves from  our self, and each other. 

I wonder if we all said what really wanted to, and allowed our true feelings to be expressed, what would happen. I bet those who are afraid would think it a terrible idea, but maybe, just maybe it would be a place to begin to heal a multitude of wounds.

Look around. Really look. There is so much pain. There are so many wounded. So many ignored. You are closer to being any one of them than you may think. 

Maybe you do realize and that is why you keep your distance (if you do). But keeping your distance doesn't keep it from ever affecting you. 

By divorcing yourself from another's reality, you are divorcing yourself from your humanity. 

I am not saying you have to go out and save the world, but, rather, that by being in touch with your feelings and emotions in relation to another, it might just be the way it gets saved.

You know all that stuff you hide? We all got some, and a lot of it probably matches. We probably can connect on so many levels, if we just got all of the "stuff" out of the way and were willing to get to the core of who we are and let it say who we are in the world, instead of letting the outside world dictate it for us.

Maybe if we got to be who we truly are we would not be the many things we appear to be. Maybe greed and selfishness is an attempt to control the uncontrollable, and if we were ok with things as they are, we would not feel such a drive to control the many aspects of our lives.

Maybe every perceived "negative" is found in that layer of life that covers who we truly are, a part of us that is afraid. That negative in some way tries to deal with that feeling inside that leaves us feeling "less than" in some way.

It has power because it gets to hide. The coping mechanisms have power because they are fed by the pieces that get held in the dark.

Some would think in silence is their strength. But true inner strength has outer expression - if not in word, in deed.

I am not entirely sure where these thoughts are coming from. I never really thought about this stuff before - at least not in this way. I think it makes "sense" to me, though. And if it makes sense to you, too, awesomesauce. :)

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Challenged to Communicate

"A diagnosis of cancer has an instant and extremely powerful effect on the...thinking process. the consistency that characterized your thoughts from day to day suddenly changes. As the well-worn course of your mental stream abruptly veers off in a new direction, the effect can be profoundly destabilizing. The habitual thought patterns with which you were so comfortable-perhaps even too comfortable-are overridden as the mind tries to orient itself in new and uncharted territory. Moreover, the content of your thoughts often changes from a sequence of vaguely related or completely random entities to a single preoccupation." - The Journey Through Cancer, Jeremy Geffen, M.D.

Just today I was thinking about how I can't think about things the way I used to. I can't handle idle conversations much any more. With the abrupt switch that happened, everything changed in a moment. 

My attention is much more closely guarded now, and I don't think much about things that are just random thoughts any more, and life isn't about getting to Points B and C and D on my way to E. There is an immediacy to life that takes away my ability to live life the way those unaffected by illness are living their lives.

It is like I awoke from a dream, and I can't go back to sleep. It is not like I want to, though. Quite frankly, there are times I wish I could just shake people and tell them to wake up while they are so caught up in such idle, unnecessary crap. 

In some ways I am appreciative of being awake, but there is definitely a part of me that misses the ignorance of the sleep. It also takes me that much more outside of the realm of most people's day-to-day experience of life. 

It sometimes is very difficult to communicate and relate to others who just have no clue about my experience - and don't want one. And not only that, want to negate my experience in the interest of "helping" me. 

In some odd way, it is like they want me to go back to sleep. It would just be so much more comfortable for is all. While I am awake, I threaten the sleep of others, among other things - and there is little doubt that must be uncomfortable.

Many who deal with cancer will do their best to avoid the subject all together. In some ways, for some, it would seem like play sleepwalking. I may not feel as I used to, but I will pretend I do. Then there will be no awkward silences. No stares. No discomfort. No weird treatment. No avoidance. 

It might seem to be healthier and more positive than someone like me whose essence has become interlocked with a word and experience that shakes up and terrifies so many people. 

It might seem that way.

But I would disagree. At least in my case, as it seems integral to my life experience to share what goes on, to talk about the things people don't talk about. 

From the beginning my sharing has seemed to be much more than just about me. Occasionally this idea gets validated by what others say. At times I really appreciate it because I can't seem to stop, and there are times my openness creates problems for me.

There are times I also wish I could better express the challenges I face. There are sometimes no words that can express how I feel, but I still try. I try because I am desperate for people to understand not only what I am going through, but likely what millions of others experience in some form or fashion.

It is a silent crisis made so much more worse by those who choose the discomfort of silence over the discomfort that comes from the reactions of others. I am in no way judging those who remain silent. I do not blame them one bit. But when very few talk about the types of things I do, or they are only spoken of in closed quarters with those already initiated into the cancer society, there is little chance that a bridge of relatedness, understanding, compassion, tolerance - helpful action will be crossed.

There are so many taboos that we have, many of which show up in regard to cancer. It is like a big, ticking bomb that no one wants to get around. And yet, bombs can be disabled, as long as someone is willing to take them apart, making the individual pieces a lot less scary than the whole.

I really do believe - and hope - that if people could find more comfort around their discomfort it would have an incredible impact on our society as a whole.

Of course I could be wrong, but I am staking what is left of my life on whatever it takes to help forward things in a direction that could prove me right. I don't care how long it takes, either. It could happen long after I have left, but boy it would be amazing to see a glimmer while I am still here.

And if you have no clue as to why I say this, I hope that you discover my reasoning without ever having to stand where I stand, or have to be a witness to the pain, anguish and frustration of someone you love in having to deal with not only a life-threatening illness, but also societal biases, which in some ways, can at times be more painful than the illness itself.

Memory Lane (Summer in UK & Europe)

When I was packing to move, I found a photo album I knew was packed away somewhere. It was one I made after a 3-month long trip in Europe, my last semester in college.

Toward the end of my time, I was out with other students, and it was a very multi-cultural group. I was in Belgium with someone I think was from The Netherlands, plus the 3 people above who were from Turkey, (what was then) Yugoslavia, and I think Germany.

Details are sketchy now, and I don't quite remember them very clearly, if at all. I just remember appreciating the opportunity to be socializing with such a diverse group. 

The ability to stay connected was limited to letter writing, and we lost touch. I always hoped Sylvia (I think that was her name) from Yugoslavia was safe, given all that came to happen in that part of the world.

It was an incredible summer. Parts of my memories are faded, and probably even gone, but there are parts I will never forget. 

Among them, was an Egyptian guy that I had met. In some ways it was a very positive memory, but in others, not so much. But one thing I do remember was a knee-buckling kiss on the street, right on Piccadilly Circus. It is one of those kisses you would never likely forget. I had another one of them atop the CN Tower in Toronto.

Sweet memories. And look at that Leo mane!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Yes. I Have Heard it Before.

I was speaking with someone today who asked me about what foods I am eating because they had heard that cancer likes certain foods.

Almost immediately I said I did not know what I thought of that idea. And the person continued to say things I have already heard from others a time, or two, or 10 before.

I really do not know what I think. People who are vegetarians still get - and die from - cancer. I went on the road and ate anything that made my soul feel good. It was not as healthy as I would otherwise eat. I came back after a month to better test results than when I left.

Anita Moorjani in her book, "Dying to Be me" talks about how she went from worrying about most everything she ate, to eating whatever she wanted. Many probably thought after the experience she had, she would have been "more careful."

I have tried a number of things, and I am not sure which - if any - make a difference. They all take money, energy and time. I came to decide that if I might not have much time left I was not going to spend it worried about the food I ate.

Think about it. You think food matters, so you take every bit of energy you have paying attention to it - and then you die. 

You will die. 

And you will never know how much of a difference all of that effort made.  Did you do it because someone thought you should, or because you felt like it was the right thing for YOU to do? Was it worth what you did?

You might think and believe the answer is yes, without really knowing what difference it will make - if any at all. And if you do, then you know what you need to do for you.

As for me, I would rather spend my energy and times in other pursuits, and stop viewing food as a poisonous enemy.  I do a lot to eat the best possible way, and rarely ever eat packaged and manufactured foods. I enjoy what I make so much more than what I can buy, and I like it that way.

Which end of the spectrum is "right" when it comes to beliefs around food? Both? Neither? People on both ends of the spectrum live and die, so how can anyone say anything for certain for all people in all cases?

And, yet, people will. And people will seek to be helpful. It is not that I do not appreciate the care and the concern, but it is hard to hear the same thing over and over and over - especially when I wind up feeling like I need to explain my choices/defend myself. Funny how after all of this time dealing with this many think there are things they could say that I haven't heard and potentially considered.

What is worse, in a way, is that there will be some who will judge me and my choices, and if it comes time for me to die, it will be all my fault because I made poor choices.

How do you explain those who smoke, drink and eat poorly well into their senior years? If the choices were universally poor you would have to think something would have happened to them long before they got to senior-hood.

I, of course, could be wrong. But I could just as easily be wrong the other way, too. In her book, Anita talks about how if we do things "just in case" we are doing them out of fear. I could eat differently "just in case," but that would be the wrong reason to do it.

I had someone who thinks he knows what he is talking about tell me to stop eating avocados and bananas. He may be giving me exactly what I need. The thing is, it does not feel right to me. So I am not doing it.

Others would tell me other things - things that might be at odds with other suggestions of other people. How do I know who is right?

I have decided that I will do only what feels right to me. If it feels good to me to eat something, then that is what I will do. And I will nourish myself in other ways as best as I can.

In the meantime, I try to have patience with those who mean well. Although, quite frankly, I sometimes just want to say, "Stop, please stop." It really does get annoying.

I am so sorry to anyone I may have done this to over the years. It is so hard when you think you have something beneficial not to be "helpful." But I am really trying to take a step back and be different in regard to anything I think I "know." If I offer something to another, it is offered in a very different way now - if at all.

Interestingly, perhaps, I see my former self in the comments of others, and I cringe. The people who write the things they do obviously have no idea that what they are saying is anything but helpful. But how would someone know that? It is what we have been trained to do.

If people don't know any better, why be affected? Because I AM affected. It takes something from me every time I have to go down that road.

I saw something recently about a breast cancer blogger who was being very open, and yet upset when people showed up in a certain way in her life. The implication was that because she was as open as she was, how could she not expect that?

What? Seriously? Just because someone shares something does not inherently mean that they want or desire another person's input or feedback. People share for different reasons - many of which may have nothing to do with us. 

Hard to believe, isn't it? :p

I realize this entry may sound like it has 'tude, and it probably does. A button did get pushed, and often does, by those who mean well. After all this time, one might think it would get better, and in some ways, maybe it has. At the same time, maybe it rubs me in a certain way so I write entries like this so maybe it is helpful to others in some way - at least those willing and able to hear my perspective.

As always, thanks for listening.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Taco Seasoning Recipe

There is a seasoning that I had enjoyed using that I think has a form of MSG. Since finding that out, I stopped using it, but had not found a replacement. When I had company on Sunday, I was making a Spanish rice, and it was suggested by someone to use a Taco Seasoning for flavoring. 

I found a recipe that I slightly adapted that worked well. I put some in the refried beans and chicken tortillas and rice I made. Today I experimented, and added it to eggs. All yummy. I just sprinkled some in each of those things mentioned, and I still have some left, so depending on how you use it it, it can go a bit of a distance.

Taco Seasoning Recipe
2t. chili powder
1 1/2t. paprika
1 1/2t. onion powder
1/2t. sea salt
1/2t. garlic powder
1/2t. ground cumin
1/2t. oregano
1/4t. white pepper

Day 16: #303030 Mario

30 Days. 30 Causes. 30 Dollars. Today I have chosen someone who has come to my attention through Ken Newman. Mario is looking to get funding for an album. (click for fundraising page)

I chose this cause because Mario and Ken did a fundraiser for me last year, and it is an opportunity for me to give something back. Mario had no idea who I was, and still stepped up to help - without asking anything of me.

I appreciate what he did, and am happy to see what I can do to help him accomplish his goal. I also know the value of asking, and how difficult it can sometimes be to get support for our heart's desires and work.

If you are seeing this, consider there may be a reason, and please consider helping. Thanks!


(The rest of this entry is a repeat from a previous one.)

If you don't know me, you may not know that I am really in no position to be spending my money on others. I am running out myself after having dealt with cancer since last May. I began this #303030 as a way of living into the idea that each and every $1 matters. I have often said it, but up until this past year, I was not likely to be one to help another, even with a $1. It wasn't that I didn't want to, but often I would be concerned how I would look (cheap?), or think that somehow the recipient might think that it didn't mean anything, or I would intend to do it later, which never came.

I decided to change that. I had to change it. So often I will see those in great need echo my words. They, too, know the value of the little things adding up. It is those who have never had that great need who would likely question the value of what would seem a minor contribution.

It really does mean something to someone who really is struggling. I guarantee it. Not sure if they are legit, or not? It is a valid question. At the same time, if it is "only" $1 to you, then does it really matter if they're not?

I keep telling people to feel free to reference me if they are looking to raise funds. I really don't mind. Part of my reason for doing this is to show people that if I can do it, they can, too. Even if it was one person, $1, over 12 months, it is making a difference in 12 people's lives in ways you could only possibly imagine.

I really do wonder in the super-sized world we live in if we think small enough often enough.


Want to take my idea a step further? Share this concept with others. Imagine what an incredible difference it would make in the world if one day each and every person took a dollar and gave it to someone in need. The thought, quite frankly, blows my mind. In the best possible way of course. I wonder if there would be some way to start that movement. Anyone got any ideas?

Even if not, the $1 you contribute still does matter.

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Monday, January 13, 2014

Let the Sun Shine In

I am feeling tired today. 

It is amazing how much work can go into a meal. The hours of prep. And then, within moments, everyone is done. A fraction of the time passes, and all that remains is a big mess to clean up.

I enjoyed yesterday - but no where near how much I used to. It made me feel "normal" for a little while. I miss the more social parts of life. I miss interacting with people.

A few days ago I spoke with someone who I had not spoken to in a while. He had had a heart attack. When I told him how people could not speak to me because of the diagnosis, and questioned how he might be/react, he said something to the effect of, "You're not going to stop talking to me because I had a heart attack, are you?"

I am glad for those who can still interact with me. It makes me sad when people won't talk to me. It some cases it makes me a bit mad, too. But I have to really be angry to feel it any more, as a part of me just shrugs it off. Perhaps it is tiredness, as I just don't have it in me to care sometimes.

If it wasn't for the fact that I have a need, I probably would just deal with this quietly. There are times I almost regret telling anyone anything. I don't know that I could have gotten this far without detection, but I did not even try.

Plus, it would have been exhausting to attempt. I do not know how those who do it manage.

I have been thinking about the "right" way to do things. Some people certainly think they know what it is.

In practically any context, you will find variations and opinions on what is "right," but in some contexts, variations are more expected, and in some cases, striven for.

One of those arenas is in regard to cooking. A novice cook will question every word in a recipe. They will make sure they have every ingredient in the exact amount called for. 

On the other end of the spectrum is the chef who knows what can replace another ingredient, or what can be left out totally. They can mix ingredients no one else ever thought of. They can do things never before considered.

In some regards, I think the difference between the two is a willingness to fail. I imagine a chef has experimented and failed many times along the way to success.

Another difference comes from experience. The tenth time making a recipe is very different than the first or second. Each time it is made, something different might happen, and each time that it does, there may have been something to learn. Perhaps adding a bit too much spice or choosing the wrong one by mistake will net something unexpected. 

What is the "right" way to live life? What are the "right" things to say, or do? No one really knows, we just drive each other crazy with our interpretations of what we believe - including ourselves.

I had been thinking earlier about something I grew up believing, and given the context, it made sense. But the thing is I didn't note it physically somewhere, so *poof* it went. But the point I would have made is that many of the things we believe come from the context in which they are created and fostered. 

If one can see that, then one must consider that the version of correct can certainly vary by circumstance and person.

So why did I go down this particular path? I haven't a clue. I am sure there was a reason I had in mind when I started this blog entry hours ago, but I have no clue at the moment.

I am now on my way home from treatment. Tumor marker is down a bit. Blood work doesn't show any surprises. For the moment, I continue to chug along.

I already want to go to sleep, but won't be able to for a while. I may stop at the apartment on my way home as there is still stuff there. I do not want to, but picking up a few things can't hurt, and it is pretty much on the way.

Tomorrow I may just try to sleep. I hope if that is the way I feel, I can give myself that. After tomorrow, I need to try to figure out where my Disability paperwork is. 

I don't have much in the way of expectations for myself, but I have to get things going financially. I just really don't know how that is going to happen, though. It really is hard enough to survive right now, It is difficult to do much of anything to surpass it.

I am just going to have to hope that somehow, some way, things will workout.

At some point I may have to post a couple new recipes from dinner last night. I was mostly pleased with the way things turned out - especially for a first go at 'em. 

I was so tickled when one of my guests asked me what brand of refried beams I was using. I was very nervous making them. Next time they will be made differently, but for a first time, I thought they were not bad at all :)

Oh! I just remembered what I had forgotten. Somewhere along the line I learned that in order for me to get the "benefits" of being sick I had to look sick, and sound sick.

There came a point that I realized that that was not exactly true, and it was an empowering realization. But the thing is that I am starting to realize that many people need that "look" to believe a person is ill or needs help or in order to "excuse" them when they somehow are perceived as faltering in how they "should" be...which I think was partly how I got to the conversation about the varying shades of "right."

It is nearly 7, but it feels sooo much later. I would love to sleep, but I am afraid I will miss my stop. I just hope I will sleep well tonight. I suspect I will need it. I an glad I got as much done as I did before treatment, but I sure wish it had been more.

Oh well.

Oh, and one other thing...looks like listening to my gut about the week's delay was quite OK. That makes me smile. :)

Have a good night.