Friday, October 16, 2015

" Overwhelmed ... "

Overwhelmed.  

How I would describe the last few months. I guess really just overwhelmed with ... life.  Getting complacent. But thinking I was really listening and having the ability to control.  And so I experience the discomfort and suffering that is now present.

This time has been the toughest in 5 years.  Life was going well and I felt I would live despite the cancer. I’ve been trusting in situations that required discernment.  I realize I don’t have that ability.  I needed to apply my own inner wisdom at times rather than following others advice. But I didn’t.  I feel like I was on a magic carpet ride but now there is no carpet.  So presently, with only moments to rest, recuperate and recover, it is all coming up to the surface.  They are difficult to confront and let go.  At times bringing on so much emotional pain to the point of nausea. Yet the only way I can start over is to forgive myself.  My natural instinct is to blame myself, beat myself up, begin to forgive and then let go.  But that is exhausting and I don’t have the time to carry such a burden for so long.




Dark thoughts linger often and easily shift my thinking.  At times feeling like I am facing mortality directly in front of me, I try to maneuver, manage and cope.  Using all the tools and techniques, mantras, gems and affirmations, just praying for a moment of peace.  They do come and once they leave, I try to recreate the feeling.  But it doesn’t work that way.  I realize my magical thinking started at a very young age.  Trusting, giving, sharing and trying to live with an open heart, with no discernment. 






I was fortunate to be given what I wanted when I was a child.  And if I didn’t get it, I manipulated the situation in my favor.  Perhaps we all can relate.  But this habit didn’t leave.  As I started to grow, I gravitated towards friends who would support that, even if it did more harm than good to myself and those I love.  And if the support wasn’t there, abandoning the situation, because it wasn’t me, it was them. I thought I worked through this.  Instead I put myself out of balance by not trusting myself.  And maybe I still gravitated towards what I want to hear rather what could is possible.  

I also realized that I was trying to detach enough, so I would minimize the suffering that may come upon my demise.  Another way to control the situation, but wanting lose relationships because they are a part of me.  Who I am today.  





So perhaps all the recent occurrences would be the only way I would gain realizations and insights ... and even begin to understand discernment.  For some it may look like words on a page in an unknown blog, with no substance to back it up.  


I am focusing on forgiving myself which is just the beginning ... 



Wednesday, September 23, 2015

" Support ... "

It feels like a while since I wrote a post.  That’s not to say I haven’t been writing as I am working on my personal story.  I started this a long time ago, but had to many triggers that were allowing me just put it away for another day.  But now, through my writing, a great deal of insights are appearing.  I am grateful for the realization that life truly is love.

Love.  How we express in many different ways.  One way is Support.  Supporting others when in need.  I have been so fortunate to have my family and friends that have been on this journey with me.  Their constant love, guidance and compassion is present and consistent.  And regardless of whatever is going on, they are familia.



Present and consistent.  We find ourselves helping others, altruistically.  No strings attached, yet deep down inside hoping that if we find ourselves facing a challenge, they may extend the same.  Yet, life goes on and things happen and people forget.  They forget the promise, when they are over the moon grateful how you have helped them.  So whose issue is it?  But wait … I ask myself, maybe MY actions weren’t altruistic after all.  
Because if they were, it really wouldn’t matter if it was reciprocated.

An interesting space to be in as I have been struggling with my own health.  Trying to sort whether it is a the flu, an infection or something that requires more attention.  But whatever it may be, that present and consistent support from those who haven’t given up on me, I am forever grateful.

When we fall ill, it is so easy to start running an unhealthy internal dialogue … I have found myself very tired.  Tired of dealing with all that is involved with this dis-ease.  I have found myself wanting to give up, but how can I when others haven’t given up on me?  I have found myself angry. Angry at reality.  I have found myself thinking life is passing me by.



So here today, with more insights and realizations … it is up to me.  To honour what I speak, what I advocate. Believing that anything is possible and miracles do happen.  Trusting in the unknown.  And walking the talk of all the previous blog posts I have written.  I thought I was, at least my ego kept telling me.  But somewhere in the subject matter of cancer, I wasn’t listening to my inner guidance.  

Support is available always, if we just look.  And by forgiving and lovingly releasing the past, others can step in and help. There is no baggage, drama, or unresolved feelings.  It is just a loving presence when it is so needed.  

Forced to slow down and just be has been a blessing in some way.  I don’t wish the pain and discomfort but when you slow down, things don’t seem as they might have at one time.  And so I am grateful for the realization that life is love … anything else is meaningless. 




Wednesday, September 9, 2015

" Slow Down ... "

“ ... Slow down, baby, now you're movin' way too fast
Baby what you're tryin' to do?
You better slow down!
Baby, now you're movin' way too fast ... 

Slow down, baby, now you're movin' way too fast ... “

~ The Beatles ~ Slow Down ~
***





There is something to be said for being viewed as “so strong”.  For the past five years, specifically since this cancer diagnosis, others tell me how strong I am, how brave I am, how courageous I am ... so what happens when the strong, courageous & brave get sick?  ... ah wait for it ... crickets.


... I’ve never met a strong person with an easy past ...


This year I completed my yoga teacher training.  It took most of the first quarter of 2015 and was really something that I did for me.  The training was phenomenal and intense.  I found myself along side twenty-somethings, trying to keep up.  Sometimes taking on two hot yoga classes a day, I knew I was pushing myself, but I felt strong and I felt capable.  I recognized that all my insecurities were on display and I had choices at times to cower and give up.  I didn't share with many that cancer lives with me.  I didn't want it to be a crutch, burden or reason to be any different.  And I had lost my close friend Mary earlier in the year. I knew her death was a push for me to do whatever I wanted to do, now. She inspires me to this day to live beyond a cancer diagnosis, to live life fully as long as I am alive.



“...dear God, if today I lose my hope today 
please remind me that your plans are better than my dream ... “



Then came the summer ... teaching classes at schools, visiting public places and ... I started coming down with a nasty cough.  Yet life seemed full of opportunities and I didn’t want to slow down.  But as we know, there is a time to rest and pay attention to your body.  Being sick is one of those times.  

So I kept pushing and working through whatever this body was going through and sometimes ignore the signs ... slow down.  Ignoring because deep down I had another voice wondering if I was simply running out of time?  The five year prognosis mark was creeping up, the time frame given for my mortality.

There doesn’t seem to be a clear-cut answer of what to “do” when sick.  Moderate exercise seems to kick start the immune system into fighting off yucki-ness.  But intense and vigorous exercise may increase your susceptibility to being sick. Everyone has a home remedy and the staunch medical professionals will tell you that you are too late to do anything ...



And of course I ask myself ... how and why?  A guess-timation of what the cause may be.  Perhaps wondering with all the natural goodness in my lifestyle, where sickness can find a home?  Simply a waste of time.  Because I finally realized that the big factor of stress has to be considered ... again.  Stress produces the hormone cortisol which turns off the production of cytokines, the molecules that encourage an aggressive immune response.  Stress of job changes, relationships losses and lifestyle changes, all nicely packaged with a big bow ... yeah a perfect environment to allow yourself to break the self down.



So ... personally speaking ... 6 to 8 weeks of trying to naturally fight off this “heaviness” has resulted in learning that when I am sick, the best approach is to lean into it, specifically lean into the pain when it appears.  This in itself has been a very difficult but awakening process.  Pain has truly been my teacher.  Days and long nights of intensity, realizing that there is no control only acceptance to what is occurring in that moment.  Resistance is futile! I have had to yet again, take inventory of my body and the stress levels in my life.  I have had hard conversations around this with loved ones, which initially can cause aversion but can help uncover where there may be opportunities to make changes.  I am grateful for those words of direct wisdom. Sometimes it is the unconscious, unsaid, unstated tension that starts to simply wear us down.  



With this in mind ... I ask those of you who are reading ... please take the time to take notice.  We are capable of many great things but there comes a time to take a load off.  Take notice and take care of YOU, now.  You don’t want to spend the first half of your life carelessly so that the rest of your life you have to make up for it.  Getting sick is a time to rest, recover and reflect.  Bring the body back to balance and trusting, this too shall pass.  But if we take note now, we can learn and attempt to prevent ourselves from dealing with a more sufferings like this in the future.




Sunday, September 6, 2015

" Alone ... "

“ … And the night goes by so very slow
Oh I hope that it won't end though
Alone

But the secret is still my own

Till now I always got by on my own
I never really cared until I met you
And now it chills me to the bone

Alone, alone … “

~ Heart ~ Alone ~ 

***



The origin of the word ALONE comes from the Middle East in around the 1300s, from al all + one one. The word itself can be viewed as all one rather than the sad reference it has today.

Being alone doesn’t mean you are anti-social or unwanted ... some sorry state that is colorless unless reinforced by others … implying the sadness, isolation and longing for companionship. Rather, being alone begins with embracing solitude.  




We recognize the benefits and joys within fulfilling relationships with other people, yet on your own, you begin to grow as a person.  You get a chance to recharge and you get a chance to reflect more.  As we spend time by ourselves, we don’t have to bother with processing the thoughts and feelings of others.  It is a time when we focus inwards.  


… solitude provides the perfect environment for reflection … 


And as we focus inwards, we have a chance to get in touch with our own emotions to gain a greater perspective. Plus create a deeper understanding of what makes us happy and what we really want.  

With this awareness of what you want, you may start doing thing you actually enjoy as well as become more productive with less distractions.  You may even have a sense of independence, confidence in your ability to actually be alone.  The anxiety or burning desire for others begins to fade … and you get some distance from constantly trying to keep other people happy … simply, that constant interaction is not required.  




When we consider the most important relationship is with one self, we must be happy to give happiness to others.  Otherwise we are depleted, drained and have nothing really valuable to offer.  This internal new found happiness has always been within us.  Alone time or solitude allows us gain access to it and to not be concerned with validation or approval. So as we begin a journey of self discovery, we learn to be okay as we are, on our own or if we prefer with others.  That interaction becomes a choice not an obligation or burden, where we can reveal who we really are.





Sunday, August 30, 2015

" Truth ... "

“ ... Can't Believe how you set me free
The way you purify this soul don't you know

Ohh, Tell me what you want
Lose it all take the fall
Let it ride
As long as I have you at my side

Tired of singin to myself
I need a lesson
I need a blessing

Ohh, tell me what you want ... “

~ Bamboo ~ Truth ~
***



It can feel at times that our environment is one extreme or another.  It can feel busy, overwhelming and chaotic.  So what if we adopt the idea that the truth can be found in the middle, right in the heart of this chaos?  What if we can find stability and a sense of peace in the center of problems we encounter?




Emotionally charged conversations and opinionated views fill our lives.  With this, it is hard to distinct and understand what IS and many triggers can result in blaming others.  If powerful enough, it can damage and destroy years of connection ... or it can dissipate altogether from a lack of emotional energy or changing the environment surrounding it.



The middle way begins with courage and patience and can result in love, compassion and clear thinking.  This begins with probably the one of the most difficult things I am trying to practice ... not taking things personally.  When we are comfortable with who we are and our life, we become less affected than someone who is at odds with themselves and feels insecure.  Because when we are unsure, we feel the need to prove a point.  The more comfortable and secure we are within ourselves, our hearts and minds, the less we will let external events or the opinions of others affect who we are.

Patience and love for oneself and others can help us learn to step back and find that truth, that middle way.  The middle way  provides a means to the center of calm, that it is accessible, regardless of your challenge.  





... Spending time looking within has helped me to see the baggage I’ve been carrying around so long.  They are old and heavy and stuffed full of old habits and self doubt.  They cloud my vision and cause me to react before I’ve had a chance to look at a problem from another perspective ... 



And so the middle way is between the extremes of indulgence and self-denial, free from sorrow and suffering.  It is about learning to embrace the change rather than seeking resolution.  We let ourselves open and relax in the middle and we discover, life is manageable. We realize that it is not our task to create the ideal, it is our task to see how it is and to learn from the world as it is. And we understand that for the awakening of the heart, conditions are always good enough. 





Wednesday, August 26, 2015

" Rock Bottom ... "

“ ... I feel like I'm walking a tight rope, without a circus net
I pray that god answers, maybe I'll ask nicer

That's Rock Bottom

When you feel like you've had it up to here
'Cause you're mad enough to scream but you're sad enough to tear ... “

~ Eminem ~ Rock Bottom ~
***



You are walking into the ocean and big wave comes and knocks you over.  You find yourself lying on the bottom, with sand in your face. Gasping, drowning, searching for a way.  And you have a choice ... you keep lying on the bottom or stand up and start to keep walking out to sea.



It is easier to keep lying on the bottom because you know that there is another big wave approaching, possibly to knock you down further. And so you ask yourself, do you want to live?  There is something within you, that answers YES ... and in that moment when you decide to cultivate courage and bravery ... humour arises.  Because you realize that the waves never stop coming but they may seem to get smaller.  You realize that you may just need float on your back rather than swim against the current. 

There is a softness and vulnerability that emerges during this time, with your best qualities come out of suffering.  When these things happen in our life, and we choose to get up, and keep walking out to the sea, we are not shielding ourselves.  We are not guarding ourselves.  We are real.




And so ... walking out to sea, that same wave keeps knocking me down.  Falling face forward, with sand in my mouth, I get up, again ... I realize how tired I am but also that the waves may not be smaller, but my ability to swim or ride gets better.



Tuesday, August 25, 2015

" Dear God ... "

“ … Dear God the only thing I ask of you
When I'm much too far away
We all need that person who can be true to you 

And now I wish I'd stayed
'Cause I'm lonely and I'm tired
I'm missing you again oh no
Once again

Some search, never finding a way
Before long, they waste away
I found you, something told me to stay
I gave in, to selfish ways
Once again… “

~ Avenged Sevenfold ~ Dear God ~
***




“ I guess you’ve found God now “ was recently said.

Initially perplexed, I answered … “ I am learning to let go of fear with the intention to live the rest of this life with purpose and clarity “

You should have seen the expression on their face. ... 


Naturally during times of illness, great pain and suffering, we may gravitate toward a spiritual practice, as it provides a way sometimes to heal the grief, sadness and bitterness all held up in our hearts.  Spirituality can be a means to cope.




Yet personally speaking, it isn’t about have a better connection with God. It is about having a better connection with Life.  Not believing that a Divine being out in the Universe will grant me immortality, rather I’ve been exploring the dysfunctional relationship I have had with life  …   


Each moment, each day, dealing with what comes up … and realizing that when I face a type of suffering, my faith is tested.  True faith begins with detachment becoming open to whatever arises, the unknown.  An opportunity in the face of this unknown to experience a special kind of peace, that there are infinite possibilities.  Faith is about letting go of certain outcome, a certain solution. Faith is about trusting the process.  Faith is believing All Is Well, regardless of what is.

This comes at a time when acceptance is necessary.  That a certain solution may not exist.  That you don’t have to figure it all out in this moment.  And that maybe there really is nothing TO figure out.  Shifting to a place of being, and tired of doing.  I often think of cancer or any severe illness as a type of dance.  Hoping to take the lead and be in control but not knowing it could switch in a moment.



And so spirituality allows me to shift to a place of acceptance … to manage, cope, deal and thrive, despite of this challenge.  Great words to live by and a guiding mantra recited within every day.  As I said recently to family, no one said this was going to be easy.  Yet having the ability to let go during times of darkness is where my faith truly prevails.  

“ … rather than being better. today. be there for yourself. when you wander or feel stagnant. know your path and you are one. and just like your breath. up and down. your path is about learning. to love. you. unconditionally. so today sweet soul. trust what is within you. enjoy who you are. more than enough … “




Monday, August 24, 2015

" Used ... "

“ ... You come walkin' round here
Actin' like we're somethin', ohh
Then you up and disappear
And make it real clear that we're nothin'

I've been used
Damaged by you

Yeah cuz I've been used
Guess I knew
Cuz that's what you do ... “

~ Hayden Panettiere ~ Used ~
***



The catch phrase used these days is “mindfulness”.  With many defining it as “heart-mind”, being present and being fully aware in the moment.  Mindfulness can be viewed as a holistic approach or tool that can have profound affects on your mind, behaviours, habits, health and well-being.  

Yet mindfulness can and has been overused too.  Some consider it a social movement, others a lifestyle trend.  When mindfulness becomes something we do than the essence of what it is, fades.  Rather, mindfulness is a part of emotional intelligence, empathy, compassion and kindness ... which are our natural states of being.  Mindfulness is a constant not something you do once in awhile at meditation class.



And so mindfulness carries a big intention.  It has been said to be “the awareness that arises through paying attention on purpose in the present moment, and non-judgementally

My teacher explains  that when practicing mindfulness, an intimately attentive frame of mind arises, where we experience relaxation and alertness, and overall equanimity.  Mindfulness is not a badge of enlightenment or a successful achievement.  There are no expectations or requirements.  Allowing us to BE fully and give permission for others to BE them.



Being mindful, being present as we are, authentically.  Giving our fully attention and awareness to the one in front of us in that moment.  Selecting our words with compassion and kindness. And appreciating what life has to offer, regardless of the challenge or joy.  



... its about moments. moments of being true. and being you. moments of listening to your heart. and following where it leads. moments to nurture your soul.and nourish your mind. so find your power. and stop hiding. admit your pain and fears. admit your love. and dare to live. shine your light sweet soul. all the way home ... 





Saturday, August 22, 2015

" Important ... "

“ ... Maybe if I liked being alone 
I could give you your life back and let you go ... 

I guess I'm important, 
but what about them standing there they can't get in ... 
They're smiling at me, I guess they're used to this. 

Maybe I'll stop wondering when I'm gonna die.
Maybe then I'll stop holding so hard to my life.
Maybe next time I see my reflection my mind won't be with me ... “

~ Lisa Marie Presley ~ Important ~ 
***



Recently I was asked this question ... Who is the most important person?  As we pondered, the answer came back as the person in front of you right now.  Perhaps not the answer you would expect.  As we are taught that WE are the most important person in the world.  Yet consider this ... the most important person you will ever meet is the one in front of you ... the most powerful thing you will ever say is what you are about to say right now ... and the most important moment in your life is the one you are in at this time. 




We have been in situations where we drift into autopilot and zone out.  We are not fully present ... unless the situation changes.  A situation like when we meet someone with an impairment, with a disability or something that slows us down.  We may begin to articulate our words better, listen fully and simply soften up a bit.  We take better care to check for understanding.  We become more thoughtful in being present fully, so we don’t miss anything.  We allow the person in front of us to be the most important and what we say may be more thoughtful.  As for the moment, we only have this one ... and now the next ... and so on ...

Personally, I remember a time when the company I worked at had a Vice President with a speech impairment.  He was young and had suffered a stroke early in life.  He was working his way back AND he was our keynote speaker.  It took everything in the audience to listen fully, be present fully and completely aware of what was being said.  It made us truly listen, really listen.



So what if we took that approach in every interaction?  Not judging those in front of us, but giving ourselves fully and completely in the moment.  Are we able to slow the chatter in our minds?  And how much extra time would it really take?  Yet in a society that is about convenience, it can be a challenge for some to slow down.

Life is beautiful as it reflects back what is inward.  If we feel a void where we are not truly heard, it may be a time to explore if we are hearing ourselves.  Our higher self recognizes that those in front of us are another expression of the Divine.  So as we treat those in front of us as the most important person in that moment, we are truly giving this gift back to ourselves.






Tuesday, August 18, 2015

" Open ... "

“ ... Times have changed in just a few months
Why can't things be the same

And maybe I'm just a little bit cautious

When it's really open.

And maybe this time
When it's really open.
Spitting fire back and forth now
Times have changed in just a few months ... “


~ Demi Levato ~ Open ~ 
***



How do you live when you know you are dying?  A heavy question to begin with but one that every being has faced head on when with dis-ease.  

Yes, we all live with the fact of impermanence, whether or not we have a life-threatening dis-ease.  It is when we are ill, we begin to have more clarity on how unpredictable life truly is ... and the inevitability that each of us will die in some way, at some time.



Experience with cancer has actually given me the gift of a mindfulness practice.  Within this practice, I see impermanence more clearly and am developing a wiser relationship with it in daily life.  And working on having the ability to face whatever the conditions may be, with intelligence and kindness towards self.  

This mindfulness practice has begun to reveal awareness around the fragility of the body and yet the accessibility towards freedom of mind.  This mindfulness practice has begun to reveal the lack of desire to control the uncontrollable.  This mindfulness practice has begun with acceptance of what is.



I use to struggle with the concept of accepting impermanence along with wanting to live as long as I could.  Now I see cancer as an encounter with impermanence every day because I see the difference between expectations and openness.

Openness is our natural state of mind, allowing positive qualities to be experienced and expressed.  When facing cancer, openness can be obscured by fears and hopes, and expectations must be met.  Openness creates another option, to whatever arises, regardless of the outcome.  



Death is not personal.  We all get a chance at it ... some day in some way.  Hence, an approach of openness can be a source of limitless potential when challenged.  Here we recognize our fears and begin to lessen its grip in the present moment.  Allowing for good medicine for the living and dying ...