Tag Archives: fear

Saying goodbye

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Today I asked for prayers for strength and courage from friends, and drove to the nursing home where a friend is in liver failure.  Our friendship started just shy of 40 years ago.   As I walked to the door of the place, my legs felt wobbly, rubbery, and I had to stop a couple of times to breathe, to pray.    The place appeared like a madhouse to me, but that is coming from someone who feels other peoples feelings, energies, (Yes, I am crazy to most).  I felt like I was in a boxing rink until I arrived at her door.   Had to turn my head when I saw her, it had been 2 weeks since I had seen her, and she has declined greatly.    I sat on her bed, and grabbed her hand.   The first thing I did was cry, and tell her I loved her.   I am not beating myself up for this.    I have no doubt that she knows she is dying, and her love is and has been unconditional.   Her love has been a true gift for me in various times of my life when I felt like I didn’t want to, or could go further, and she pulled, sometimes dragged me through it.

As I sat there, I smiled at her many times, said some things, first of all, thanking her for everything she has done for me.  There were times when she was right there with me, so weak I had to lean in to hear what she was saying, and while I couldn’t interpret all, I did hear her say “love, love, love, love you!”    I told her she was “my Edie”, a woman her senior, that mentored her throughout her life, with love and incredible grace, the same way she had me.  She shook her head up and down.   I squeezed her hand.

The longer I was there I realized the less I needed to say.    All I needed to do was sit with her, hold her hand.   She was easily confused, organs shutting down and morphine play a part of that.  What do you say to someone who is at the end of their life?

Flashback to my kid sisters bedside four days before she passed, 16 years ago now. at the age of 38.   She had told our older sister who was there caregiving that I had to be serious, not my wise cracking self.    That wasn’t easy.  It meant sitting with enormous pain i was feeling in my heart, or not distracting from her skeletal cancer ridden body and knowing this would be the last face to face conversation I would have with my kid sister.   I selfishly said to her “I hope I have been a good sister to you”.    She turned her head, telling me NOPE, we aren’t going there.   And then it became clear to me.   None of this scenerio was about me.  It was about her.  And so started the next level of understanding within myself, the understanding that while I sat holding my sisters hand, my heart bleeding, right then, right there, this moment was about her.     I look back and shake my head, thinking, how could I have been so far off target?  You live, you learn, and with every goodbye, you learn.

I am reminded that everyone deals with death differently.    NO ONE escapes it.   When you are there with them at the end, you can’t live the life you’ve had with them over, you can’t make things better, or take away their physical or emotional pain, or even your own.   But bearing that pain, sitting with them, sometimes in silence as they rest, or stare off elsewhere, is really a wonderful gift that we can give them.    For the moments where they are lucid, that we will hold onto for probably our lifetime, and the moments in between where you want to be somewhere, anywhere else, but here, now.  It is not an easy thing to do, and it doesn’t get easier.

It is okay to cry, to show emotion, it is okay to tell them you are going to miss them, or that you don’t know how you will live without them, but THEN you tell them, you will find a way, and you give them permission to let go, you convince them, in your own fragile emotional state, that you will be okay.  Why?   Because this time isn’t about you, or me.    This time is all about the person whose life is ending.    The future without them, your own personal hell will begin soon enough.   The journey of grief is a hard trek.  But it is also unescapable.

This friend experienced a near death experience many moons ago when she was in Maine on her summer excursions.  Years of hers and her partners life was spent in a camping ground with others, right alongside York Beach.   This is what they loved, this is where they found peace, solace, this is where they visited with and acquired many good close friends.     She had emergency surgery, and when she came out of this, with a temporary colostomy bag, she just kept telling everyone close to her “I love you, I love you, if we don’t see each other for 20 years and something happens to me, please don’t ever worry about it, it is ALL about LOVE”.      And she was all about love.  She learned in that horrible time, when her family and friends were holding their breaths in fear of losing her, that life, and where we go from here is all about LOVE.

We have had many talks on this subject.   My favorite, was a three way conversation in which she and I both said “you go from believing, or wanting to believe, to knowing”.     We were the lucky ones, as we got the message.   Nothing else in life will ever compare or bring you greater joy, or greatest loss, than love.  Both her and I have had experiences that gifted us from “wanting to believe” to “knowing”.  I know that when you die, it isn’t over.   That’s why she knew to forgive, and she forgave me several times.  We are all but human.  Perfection should not be expected of humans, or it is is, then right then and there we haven’t yet accepted that we are perfectly imperfect, all humans are perfectly imperfect.   The sooner we accept this about ourselves, regardless of what anyone else has to say about our “errs or lessons” the sooner we will find peace…   And what is the difference between an error and a lesson?    Simple… you learn from the experience.  Sometimes you learn at a different pace than those around you, or they, you.

Hope changes.  The most we can ask for when someone is dying is that they be comfortable, at peace.   Words of love can be said through your touch, your presence.   There is sometimes nothing you can do or say, and when your heart is up in your throat and the tears are falling down your cheeks onto their hand, their arm, that is okay, too.     But then you get strong again, and you remind yourself that this is not yet about you (if ever).  This is all about them.

I remember reading the book “Final Gifts”.  I have since bought and given that book out probably a dozen times or more, to friends.  It’s written by hospice workers, who share what is “normal” in the dying process.   And I use that word loosely.     There are phenomenas that have happened, over and over again.    They’re seeing people who have previously passed.   Who are we to say that person isn’t there for them in their transition?   Some will say “drugs, delusions”, and yet it happens to many, many, many.

Tonight my heart hurts, and the past couple days I have cried many tears, and know there is a river or more coming, but I also feel full of love, I feel her love, as I sat with her.    The first time I pick up the phone to call her, or email her, or stop by her house, it’s going to hurt like a son–of-a-bitch, it’s unescapable.     I have a cousin who works in the field of mental health, she and I have had some heart to heart interesting conversations.  One day she said to me “I try to talk to the patients about just sitting with their feelings”.   That is quite deep and NOT easily mastered.   But if we can sit, watching whatever horrors unfold (every person has their own plethora of fear), and just be present, we are sitting in grace.

The ability to sit in your pain, to put on a brave face and give your loved one permission to leave when our heart doesn’t want nor knows how to say goodbye, when you can do this, I believe, you are experiencing and giving the highest level of love.    You don’t want them to leave, you see their pain or discomfort and by the end of their  passing you are grateful that they are out of pain, that they are at peace.    Your prayers go from that of and including ALL five phases of grief (Elisabeth Kubler Ross), to please, take them soon.  You want their pain over for them, even though that means for yourself, great loss and pain.   This is LOVE!  You are sending them off in love.

I have found in life, when I am able to sit with my greatest fears, sometimes watching them unfold before my eyes, the reality is not nearly as bad as living in fear.    This journey from birth to death to whatever you do or don’t believe, is doable with LOVE.  And if you read the final words of men of “great success”, in the end a hospital bed is just a hospital bed, whether it cost $10 or $10k.

Another friend visited.  It was hard for her to see her friend this way.   She said “I will pray for a miracle.”  I said “she wouldn’t want that, because she knows where she is going, and at the end of all this horrible (and it is hell) illness, she will return to LOVE.  And that is all they will take with them when they leave.

Obviously, this blog isn’t for everyone, and obviously not everyone “believes” or “knows” what I do, or visa versa.  It doesn’t matter what your religion or NOT.   It doesn’t matter your Faith or NOT.   It doesn’t matter if you are rich or poor.  It doesn’t matter your skin color.  Somehow, someway, it is LOVE that will get you through it, and you’ve done your very best to send your loved one off with LOVE.    “It’s all about love!” she said repeatedly, when she survived her near death experience.

One more note, I have learned that when someone you love passes, the love doesn’t stop.  It grows, miraculously.   It grows with new appreciations of what you “didn’t know then”, through missing, and more.     Their life end, here, is a painful event for us, it’s a hard chapter in our own book of life.   But it’s inevitable.     Kindness matters.  Love matters.   Helping another matters.     Mother Theresa  “I have found a paradox in love, if I love until it hurts, then there is no more hurt, only more love”. 

 

 

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Triggered fear, thoughts, and angst

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Today has been a challenging day.    I needed to have a medical test, which I have postponed once and really didn’t think it was a big deal until it was time for me to prepare for the test and go.

An unexpected spiral of anxiety and fear overcame me.    It was only then that I realized I was afraid.   I am very rarely fear filled.  Many moons ago I taught myself how to put, right in front of me, whatever it is I am afraid of, and then address it, as best I could.

I believe there are more than one kind of cancer “survivors”.   Not just the person battling the disease, but those who are left to find peace with their passing, should that unfortunately happen.     And it happens too many times.

Today for me was a combination of thinking about my moms passing a year ago last month, and my kid sisters passing many years ago in early April.    When you go thru cancer with not just one, but every one of your (siblings) and parents, it may seem like it would get easier.    But it doesn’t.   For me, I remember every “meeting with surgeons’ on loved ones.    I played the eye dodging game with them as they came to tell me or us the results.   These are times you will sadly never forget, particularly if the prevailing news is bad news.   In that few seconds of seeing her surgeon come out to look for me, I flashed through this with my mother multiple times, as she had started her “undesired” intimate rounds with cancer 17 years before she passed.

I listened to her doctor, and she asked if I had questions.   So doing what i do best, laying it out there honestly, boldly, pulling that fear right in front of me I asked questions that made her literally flinch.  “You’ve been through this before?”  Yes, you could say that.  “These are not typical questions asked to me after surgery but that doesn’t mean they are bad ones either!’    TELL ME, NOW.   What does my loved ones (and mine) future look like?  Is it the arduous, time consuming and soul shaking walk of more surgeries?  chemo?  radiation?  What is the treatment, and please God let there be treatment!     AND THIS WAS ALL IN MY HEAD from years PAST!

BACK TO THE FUTURE:  I knew I was unraveling, i was feeling light headed, sweaty, and filled with fear, forgetting to breathe, this does not happen often.  it has happened probably 6 times in my whole life to this degree.  All I could think of was that I needed prayers, and the fastest way for me to get them is on social media.  I have many, many. lovely, “friends and family” who are very generous with their prayers,  I KNOW prayers make a difference.    So I spilled my guts on my fb page, sharing that which I had kept quiet for three months.    The highway becomes convoluted with memories of past tests, results,.  and not to mention the 10th anniversary of my own breast cancer diagnosis is coming up quickly.    I was blindsided today.

What’s different? Why am I feeling so afraid?  Why is this simple test sending me closet to wearing tin foil hats?   After posting I pulled it together, and drove to the hospital for the test.  My legs were shaky and like rubber, I felt a bit like Gumby.   What the hell is this fear?  Once in radiology I sat and found my foot tapping quickly, picking up speed when they called my name.    Let’s get this done!

The test was really no big deal.  It took about 40 minutes, and the technician who did it was a very passionate woman who loved her job.   So during the test I was preoccupied with conversation with her.   The worst was behind me.   “I’m breathing, I’m breathing”.  Following a friend drove to NH with me to pick up something and our conversations are always interesting, honest.   When I finally got home I laid on the couch and prayed, meditated.     I pay a price for worry, and my body was “not my friend”, but is quickly becoming whole again after doing what I need to do for myself.

Now the waiting game?  The results?  One good thing about exhausting myself today is that I have NO ENERGY whatsoever tonight to even think about results.   They’ll be what they are, and I know I’ll hear from my Drs office within 48 hours.  I have got this covered.

I’m not usually dramatic.   If anything I downplay my feelings, I have my coping mechanisms.   But what I was able to really grasp tonight was, that I no longer have my mother to help me through whatever it is I am going through.  I’ve never been sick without my mother.   I have been feeling the stress of managing a home, yard, on my own. The list of to dos is long and distinguished. My mom did A LOT for me, she was always puttering in my yard, she loved doing so. This year all these tasks are solely mine. So Yes, at 57 today, I reverted to fear, unable to decipher what it was I was afraid about.  Tonight I accomplished such.

Not my best day, but no way near my worst!  A  bit embarrassed about online drama, but those who love me will forgive…

Have a great nights sleep!

Stepping towards a dream

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I just recently took a big step in moving towards a dream of mine.  It’s been a LONG TIME coming.   I remind myself that I am investing in myself, not the list of others I’ve invested, some foolishly.

Having to learn new things is great, but I  no longer learn at the pace I did when I was younger, and the need to repeat the paragraph a couple of times before I fully comprehend it.

Aging man.   Should be easier!    Ya make it through the times where you do not have any idea what you are doing, in youth, looking for others approval, and even in maturity at times.   Ya get your life together, thinking you’re doing well, and then your faced with facts of aging.  Not pleasant.   And I know I am in my late 50s, considered to be the new 40s,,, I NEVER WANT TO RELIVE MY 40s EVER AGAIN.   It was by far, the hardest, worst times in my life.  Illness, death of sibling, breast cancer, another close death, reconstruction, with complications all the way.    Yup, I’ll take my 50s, and though I’m not as sharp as I once was, I’ll figure it out.   I’m mostly referring to my parents, my dad now.   The new challenges that aging creates, if you are so fortunate to grow old!   It just ain’t right!

So as I take this step there is excitement, ambivalence, hope, fear.  “What if I fail?”  But darling, “What if you fly?”

 

 

Angst

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For the last week my mind and spirit have been hijacked by the powerful entity of fear, uncertainty, and anxiety.  It invaded my brain, and then quickly took over what seemed to be my soul, leaving me reaching out to anything that I could hold onto.

I’m not shy to talk about my mental illlness, I do so in hopes of helping another, because when all is said and done, I know I’m not alone here.   But I am always leery about sharing too much, because people do treat you differently.   It’s a hard fact.   The talons of mental illness are sometimes ignored, and certainly mistreated, some due to ignorance, and others?  Fear!

The grip this trip was treacherous.  And I didn’t help myself by reaching out to another until last night when others reached out to me.  Oh how potent a secret battle that carries its venom best when we are in isolation from the world.     

My anxiety and fears are very real.  And I haven’t experienced this intensity of anxiety in years.  I will admit tonight, I should have been in a hospital, getting help, but after how many years in therapy, what else is there to say?   I recall a House, MD episode where he walks out of his therapy session and says “You don’t have any answers”.

What amazes me this evening, as I sit here writing this blog, is where my mind was just mere hours ago.  Nothing has changed in my setting, nothing has changed in my reality, except that I did, with the help of many cherished prayers and encouragement from friends, face my fears today.  Tonight I am exhausted, worn like an old penny, and while my anxiety is there, I’m practicing letting it be, letting the anxiety reveal itself, and trying everything I know not to feed it or let it overpower me again.   Feeding it got me into a full fledge panic attack earlier, where I was grasping for breath, sweat pouring off me, and had to sit with my head in my hands for several minutes because I was borderline passing out.  Yes, that awful place I’ve known a few times before.  If you’ve never encountered such, I am both happy and envious of you.

My ditzy little old cat has stayed by my side for days.  Mommy wasn’t healthy, and her steadiness and loyalty clings to my heart.

I really don’t care to share anymore tonight.   As I said earlier, I’m spent, and I’m hoping that with meds I will be gifted with a good nights sleep.  Rest assured I will be on my knees tonight praying that I do not wake up like I have the past couple mornings.   But in case I do, I need a plan.  So I’m working on a little “cheat sheet” note to myself for morning.  And this blog serves as a reminder to my saner, calmer self and conscience.

Earlier I sat down, with John Denver ( my roots) playing in the background, and started painting a small daisy.  Something cheery, something positive before I retire.  Revisiting “Let it Be” was what I needed.  I closed my eyes and let the music take me where I needed to go.  To the many dark places I’ve survived in my life, and that this?  This I’m determined will not have extended stay.  I cannot afford it, physically, mentally, spiritually.

I welcome your prayers, positive energy over the next few weeks as I find my way through this “episode” for lack of a better word.

My greatest wish for myself, and for all, for that matter,  in not wealth, but peace.  I welcome it’s return, and will strive to achieve it and then hold onto it.    Peace.

Peace to you, too.

 

 

 

Gut instinct

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Something short tonight.    I was reminded of how accurate our intuition is.   Make your intuition stronger than your doubt of it.  We all have been gifted with free will, intuition, denial…  The five stages of grieving identified by a female german doctor who was called “Dr. Death” by the many male doctors that she worked with, Dr. Kubler-Ross.

But I digress.

What I want to say is, don’t stay “stuck” on one thing.  Don’t deny what you are seeing and hearing with your own eyes and ears.   Learn to trust your judgement, learn to trust your gut instinct.  Many of us have been groomed differently, and many of us just brush off things because it may sound absurd, or ridiculous.   Your intuition will guide you, it will protect you and others.  We all have it, innately.   For whatever reason you are repressing it, ask yourself WHY.  What is it I’m afraid it’s going to tell me?

It’s healthy to question others words, motives.   I’m not talking about extremes.  I ‘m not suggesting you walk around like, cynical of all.  But what I am telling you is…  I believe the wisest man listens to his instincts.

Put that in your hat and smoke it!

 

Resistence

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I remember a couple of years ago I saw a famous self improvement guru talking on resistance.   His basic message was, the more you resist something, the more important it is that you fight the resistance and DO whatever it is that has created this unsettling, displaced feeling.  Well, I’ve been doing a lot of soul searching, making some choices, which I am recognizing, for me, it’s harder to have choices than to just trudge along the beaten road you “think” you’re destined to.

I also struggle with commitment, certainly when it comes to relationships, hence why I’ve been single for over a decade.   If I stay away from intimate relationships, I’m safe!  But we all know the truth in that, don’t we?  Love is one of the most beautiful things we are blessed with.  Committing to someone you love, and they you, is pretty special BUT NOT EASY stuff!

So I have been slowly, actively studying my likes, my dislikes, my desires, needs, and am sitting on an opportunity to make major changes in my life.   I believe this.   So as exciting as it can be, it is also frightening to me.   And believe me, when you struggle with anxiety and all that wonderful stuff, it’s VERY REAL to the person going through it.  It can become VERY REAL to those who are close to them, because, well, I call them “demons”.   The demons are real to me.

I have been focusing on that guru’s message, because one thing that I am considering changing is something that in past I HAVE LOVED.   Trying to come out of a severe clinical depression (I wish that were the case for all.  I wish we could just come out of it, and leave it behind, shed it like a snake does skin, but it doesn’t work that way, does it?)  In the hardest times of this I lost a couple friends, and while it hurt, I realize, they haven’t a clue what I live with day in, day out.   The sometimes constant need to correct the thoughts that automatically spew from my brain, it can be exhausting.  But I’m doing it.  And I’m doing as well as I think I can.  Not without some unhealthy coping skills.

Anyway, I want to go back to this resistance I’m feeling about this one thing I’ve had in my life, 1/3 of my life, and have enjoyed, loved.  It would be very easy for me to say “I don’t want to do this anymore”, and chalk the negative feelings I’m having onto that, but I know myself, and I know deep down, it’s not that simple.  I am resisting it because it’s important, albeit, very important to me.

So I’ve been doing the usual things that I know to do, mostly prayer, meditation, seeking help with an answer.  Tonight an unexpected message actually helped me see how much I am truly pushing this away.   If I am being true to myself, and 4-5 years ago I committed to being true to myself, first, then I need to either dissect my reasoning, or even harder, jump in, get my feet wet, and defeat these restricting feelings, fears.

So I decided to write about it, to put it “out there” for myself to look at.  I do this with my artwork too.  I will take a picture and study it on my computer or telephone screen.  This way I am detached from it, and can see where my painting needs honing, correcting.   Whatever works, right?

So, how about you?  Is there something you are resisting?  Something that is important to you but your inner demons have got a grip on your decision making?

 

Hell’s Bells

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Tuesday evening I went and visited a close friend who was going in for surgery Thursday, hoping to offer her support, comfort.  Instead she offered it to me, as I dealt with what is probably IBS, or a spastic colon.   Washcloths on my face, laying on her bathroom floor until the pain subsided.   I pulled it enough together to come home and deal with the last two hours of it.  While doing this, I was also calling my mother to find out what time her appointment was Wednesday, she is being treated for advanced kidney cancer (her 3rd cancer).  MGH (Mass General Hospital) in Boston MA basically saved her kidney, thus her life.  She lost her other kidney to cancer a few years ago, and before that, advanced colon rectal cancer.  She was scheduled for surgery in November, but we had to cancel because I wasn’t fit to drive her.  One of my struggles is insomnia.   They go in and check out the ureter, kidney, laser off any tumors, and place stents.  She gets anxious, and misunderstood that she could now accept phone messages, and they had called her back 8 times.  She deleted them.  So after calling oncall service, I learned that we needed to be there at 11:15. Great.  I can hopefully get enough sleep.

Arrive at my brothers in NH to pick her up at 8:00, he tells us to take his car, because mine has no heat.  That was kind of him.  But my brother smokes in his car, and I get very sick when I’m around it.  But you do what you have to.  We arrive early, 10:45, check in.  We aren’t there too long before they call us in.  I look back at the large waiting room full of people, guesstimated, probably 60 between patients and their caregivers.  Everything was going well, until 12:15 came, and my mother who hadn’t eaten since 7pm the night before was getting irritated (who wouldn’t?).  At 4:30 they came and said “We’re going to take you to the o.r. now.   I wished her well, and hiked down towards the cafe.  The hospital is like a maze and fairly confusing, but I’d managed to learn my way around a few years ago upon my own stay there.  Upon reaching the entrance to the cafe the beeper starts beeping.  I need to go back.  Up I go.  They made a mistake.  It was now postponed until 6:30, then 7:00, then 7:30.  Ended up we waited for a total of seven hours before they took her in for surgery.  I’ll skip the whole ordeal because frankly, I don’t want to revisit it.  An hour and a half later I get a call from her doctor, NO CANCER.  Words most people would be delighted, overjoyed, very grateful to hear.   I was.  For a split second, and then I got angry.  Strange reaction, eh?  One I didn’t expect.

I texted my sister.  “Do you remember when they told Dar (kid sister) she was in renal failure and would fall to sleep and pass in her sleep?”  (If only that happened.)  She was afraid to sleep particularly that first night after being told, the next morning she awoke, and was so angry she was slamming cupboards.    “That anger is what I’m feeling right now”.

Every hospital, every surgery, test, procedure, every waiting room brings back very painful memories.  One would think it would get easier.  I had brought plenty things to keep me busy, but my mother nothing appealed to me, and I kept busy by talking to my mother and trying to keep her from walking out. (She has done that before).    Selfishly also because I knew it would be on me again, if this happened.    I was now in that large waiting room by myself.  They were closing the unit.  Someone came with her bag of things and brought me to another building, another waiting room.  One of the “conference rooms” where they pull you in to tell you dreadful news.   But there was no dreadful news.  I had already heard from her doctor.   Why was I feeling so emotional? So angry?   Where was my gratitude?

A few minutes later someone came to get me, to sit with my mom who had gotten VERY sick upon awakening.  The usual naseau meds that we ask for in the o.r. were no longer enough.  So they administered another drug, but only half dose because they wanted her to be able to get in the car so I could drive her home.  And by this time, this unit was shutting down.  Thankfully it worked. and rather quickly she bounced back, she wanted to be out of there as much as they did.  So I went to go find my brothers car (we use valet, it’s cheaper for patients than the garages), they had closed.  So I went to the parking garage that they advised me to, got the car and off to the Main Entrance to pick up my mother who was VERY uncomfortable.  Starting enroute, I was trying to navigate and help make her comfortable, she was all over the seat, wanting to put it back.  It’s not my car, I don’t know how to do it.  I text my brother, and my phone dies.  It dies.   It had been fully charged an hour before.  Where had all the battery life gone?  And the four year old iphone doesn’t always charge when I want it to.  Every attempt takes about 20 different times before it starts to charge.  Now, in Boston, with a patient, I missed a turn, lost my way, and I’m lost, with no gps (phone).     Anxiety is through the roof.  I’m trying to calm down, I pray, I ask my angels to help me, and my mother needs to now lie in the back seat.  So I find what I believe to be a safe place (?) and she maneuvers the doors and crawls into the back, my whole knapsack and pocketbook spill out on the back seat.   Also want to mention that the drivers side headlight is much less bright than the passenger side, I was having a very hard time seeing.  “There is no need in getting angry, it isn’t going to help, Donna”.  I said “I’m not angry, it’s fear.  I’m petrified.  I am lost, in Boston, without a phone, in the middle of the night with a sick mother”.  This lasted about 30-45 minutes until I found 2A.  During this time my mother wants me to stop so I can get her back in the front seat because she determined how to put the seat down.

I’m on Rte 2, I try to calm down, adrenaline rush that has my head throbbing, and feeling like I was going to get sick.  She is now calmer, lying still, hungry.   30 minutes later I arrive at our normal stopping point, and get out of the car to find the money that once was positioned nicely in my purse, in my knapsack.  We order, I just get a drink.  She is eating, and I’m driving looking for a route to NH that I’ve only driven a couple times. She lives in NH, I in VT.  And she wants nothing of coming to my house, nor would I, I would want to be home in my own bed.   We find it, we think, now mind you, it’s pitch black, no street lights, I know I’m not where I’m supposed to be, nothing is familiar. (As familiar as it could be at dark).  I’m praying, looking for civilization.  This lasted for another 20 miles, finally found the route and brought her home.  I arrived home at 1:45am.

I sit on the couch to unwind, each time I close my eyes I see cars coming at me.  So I try to meditate and release the angst.  Decide on a glass of chocolate milk.   I drink the milk, and so begins the cramping and repeat of the night before.  This time, thankfully, I’m home, on my own bathroom floor.  Two hours later it subsides.  I crawl into bed, turn on the tv, and my legs start cramping.  Up I am again.  At 6am I’m finally ready to fall asleep, which I did. Set the alarm, call my mother at 10 “Go back to sleep, I’m okay until afternoon”.  Three hours later  I wake to the alarm at  and look at my phone which had miraculously charged to 60%.  There is a text telling me my girlfriend made it through surgery, it went well.  I smile, I thank, I praise.  I’m up, jump in the car, picking up her meds, some meals for her, and a freshly baked raspberry pie.

She is happy and grateful to see me, and was thrilled about the pie.  We have a piece together.  Calm, peace, gratitude set in.  And something else, familiar, but couldn’t yet define it.   I get into my car to drive home and it hit me… STRENGTH.   My strength returned only 2 times more powerful.   Okay, all is well, now you can rest, now you can wholeheartedly offer praise, and thanks.   All is well.  My family is blessed with a nice holiday season.  Two more cancers survived this year.  We are fortunate.

I arrive home, look at my cell (which charged up to 30% this morning) “Unknown Caller”.   “Hey Donna!  Calling to set an appointment for your mothers next surgery in six months!

I breathe, mumble about pouring salt in a wound, and then laugh.  I can do this.  I’ve got this.   Thank you Lord!

 

For the times, they are a changin…..-Dylan

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Last week my 12 (she keeps reminding me… soon to be 13) spent the week with me.   She starts school next week.  It is the longest time we’ve ever spent together, and THE BEST TIME I’ve ever had with her.   I feel so grateful for the week.     She is a very special girl.  Very smart, very talented (she loves to paint) and the music videos she creates has me in awe.  Creativity doesn’t lack in this soul!

I dropped her off at her dad’s Friday, and as I drove home Friday night, windows down, older music on the stereo, my thoughts were so filled with love, with desire to spend more time with her.

There was a time in my life when I didn’t have much time to myself.   That isn’t the way it is now, much to my own making.   I have spent, and do spend A LOT of time on my own.  I keep busy, I own a house which I’m renovating on my own (now that the major work has been done by contractors), and I have a business that I need to dive back into.

As the wind blew my hair around, and kissed my skin, I thought about the news of the week.  The flooding in Louisiana, the fires in California, and all the political bullshit that makes its way to my computer screen.   My mind drifted to the Zika virus, as I waited while a pregnant woman walked across the road to a restaurant.  ENOUGH, I said.  ENOUGH!    I can’t take anymore news right now, I don’t want to see anymore election crap, I don’t want to worry about tomorrow, I just want to feel this beautiful place I’ve been over the past week.  A purpose beyond survival.

I feel change coming within me.  I have felt it for a while now.   I no longer want to spend all my time to myself.  I want to look into someone’s eyes and celebrate them, us.  I want to share my life with someone who appreciates and respects mine.

Thoughts drifted to relationships of past.   Each one had their own beauty, a couple when they ended!  🙂   I’ve been single for over a decade.  I’ve dated, but the guys I’ve dated were not even close to who I would spend my life with.  I think today, overweight, covered in painting clothes, I’m the best person I’ve ever been.  A very dear friend of mine, whom I trust with my soul said to me from Australia “Do you know how long I’ve been hearing you say, you aren’t ready?”   She wasn’t criticizing, she was sharing her feelings and it reminded me of the time another friend said to me twelve years ago “There will always be excuses to stay in a bad relationship”.    Both statements have moved me.

I’m not going to race out and join ANY online dating site.  I’m not ready.  But I’m BECOMING ready.     One thing I’ve always loved about twelve step programs is, you’re never asked to do anything without becoming willing, first.

I painted this weekend, and I finally finished a painting that I feared, I could not.   My hands are riddled with pain, but this weekend I had a break from that.  The brush didn’t exactly flow as I wanted it to, but what was different was the way I treated myself when this happened.   Easy does it.  Pick it up, try again.   I don’t know if any other artists struggle with fear of losing the ability to create.   This weekend my inhibitions took a hike, and my weekend was filled with love, memories of a great week spent with my niece, and a painting that assures me, I can still paint.  It feels nice to breathe, to not recirculate within myself negativity.

I’m taking a break from the news, while I don’t want to be ignorant of what is going on in the world, I need to breathe, to feel this happiness, this peace.   I will continue prayers for the world, and for so many friends and family members who need them.  But right now?  I’m going to stay where I am.    It’s a really nice place to be.

My busy time will soon be upon me.   This year I’m starting extra early for me.   I want to enjoy my life, not race through it going mach 80 with my hair on fire!  I am going to start an art blog, and probably, hopefully, start working on the book I have known I was supposed to write for three decades now.   Not sure what that means for this blog.   But that’s okay.  I don’t need to know!

Peace to you, and to world.

“Get out of the damn boat, Donna!”

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Have you ever had a “feeling” stop you dead in your tracks?   Sensed that you were in peril?  That someone you love is?  Or reacted out of character, following a gut hunch?

Six years ago while on a cruise with my best friend and her family, a private tour in the Grand Cayman’s to swim with sting rays was set up months in advance.  I knew I would not step foot off the boat.   A long life of fear around these creatures was “sealed” when “The Crocodile Hunter” died of injuries sustained from one.   It was a rough day to be out, complicated further by a tour director whose boat was nothing like pictured in the ads, nor did he care how old or how many passengers he had, or if the wake was affecting his guests.   Anyway, I digress.

My girlfriend and her daughter piled quickly out of the boat.  I sat, watching.   Her daughter, who is brave beyond brave, reacted unexpectedly to the feel of the sting rays on her legs, or perhaps it was their laser sharp tails that brushed against you when they swam past you.  She started to scream, which did catch the attention of our tour guide.  “You can scream all you want, just please, stop jumping up and down”.    Oh sure, I thought.  Steve Irwin all over again!    As she climbed back into the boat I was surprised at what I was thinking.

Something had my attention.  It was silent to all but me.  “Get out of the boat”.    Like hell I will!   And after a few more minutes I sensed that this adventure was something that I had to do.    Whatever it was, call it sixth sense, sign, I “knew” I needed to get out of the boat and face this fear.   And I did.

I defied the rough seas, mouthfuls of such and made my way out to the area where my friends were.   A couple of times I thought I was going to pass out, particularly when I felt the sharpness of one of its’ tails on my legs.   I stood still, took a deep breath and prayed…  “Whatever I am supposed to do here, get from being here, let this happen and quick!”.    This inner force was telling me that I needed courage.    I remember thinking “Okay, but why THIS?”

I will not say that I ever got totally comfortable with this.  These sting rays were used to being fed, they were stars in what was an obvious tourist attraction.    The smaller ones were male, the largest ones, which we were told could get up to 400 lbs, were females.  But of course!   We were feeding them raw fish.   Sushi, anyone?

Suddenly a very large sting ray was directing my way.  Oh God, this is it, I thought!   The guide came over and showed me how to hold out my arms and actually HOLD this huge sting ray.   They really felt like wet mushrooms against my body, but again, I knew I “had to do this”.   And I did.    I remember looking into its little beady eyes.    I held it for a few minutes, let it go, and then decided I had been brave enough for the day, found my way back to the boat.

This isn’t the first time I’ve been guided by inner voice, but it was surely the first and probably the last time I would swim with Sting Rays.     For the next couple of days, reflecting on that strong urge, I knew it was about courage, but that was as far as I got.   As always, it feels good to do something that you don’t particularly think you can do, or are afraid of.  Self confidence spikes.

Flying home I thought about what a wonderful vacation it was, and I held that experience close in thought.   Who would have thought that I would do something so brave?   Childhood fears can run PRETTY deep!    Upon arriving home I had a routine mammogram scheduled the following day.   The technician took extra slides, and I knew something wasn’t right.  It was eight months prior to that when I had tested positive for the BRCA2 gene mutation.   I honestly thought I wouldn’t test positive because my sisters were far younger than me when they were diagnosed with cancer.   I think I slid past this!

Within 48 hours I walked out to the mailbox to find a letter from the hospital.   My hands were shaking as I was trying to open the letter, and answer the phone at the same time.   “Donna?   We have an appointment scheduled for you tomorrow with your Dr, and prior to that you are scheduled to come back in for more slides”.    I hung up the phone and immediately called my sister, explained to her what is going on.   We decided not to tell my parents until we had to.   But we both knew, this wasn’t just random.

I went in the next day for more slides and met with my doctor who insisted that he felt it was nothing.    I remember watching his lips mouth words “I say we sit on this, and see what the mammogram shows in a few months”.   I swallowed, a hard swallow.   “No, I want a biopsy”.     By this time both the radiologists and doctor are telling me that they would agree to do a biopsy, but neither felt it would reveal cancer.    Three days later I, and four other women were scheduled for needle core biopsy in a small hospital in Vermont.     Four benign, one malignancy.   Guess who that malignancy belonged to?

“I would like a second opinion at Dana Farber, please”.   All confidence in them had been squelched.   And so begins my journey through breast cancer.  I value my “gut” instincts.  And while I may not like what I hear, I trust there is purpose behind the sign.

Melissa ETHERIDGE “I run for life!”

Poor santa

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I just got up and walked away from a painting I’m working on.  If truth be known I wish I had done this 10 minutes ago because I despise what I did to it.   Poor Santa!   I  believe it takes two to paint, and one person to stay “STOP!”     I have been using brighter colors than usual, and I’m excited about that, I think it is tell tale that I am seeing things differently than I did a few months ago, a couple few years ago.

I love Spotify.   When I’m in my car and hear a song I like, I ask Siri to take a note which lists the songs.  When I get home, turn on the computer I download these new songs.    I have playlists for cleaning, workout, painting, for each of my siblings, and people who have departed.   Music is so powerful.  It carries me through the darkness and then gives me a jolt, boost of energy when a song comes on that reflects positive memories.   My best friend went through an ugly divorce and could not listen to music for a couple of years.  I remember thinking to myself, if I did not have music, NEW music at that, I would probably not move.   But I know there was a time in my life when I couldn’t listen to music.   That’s all I want to say about that dark time.

Tom Petty is currently “running down a dream” as I type this.   I hope he dreams that this Santa I’m working on will look better in the morning light!  Music, Music, Music!     When you listen to music, do you sing like a rock star?  Find yourself holding a tube of paint as a mic?    I am not saying I do, just wondering about you! 🙂

This week is not going to be without stress, I’m afraid.   Dr.’s appointments, test results that could change a life drastically.  I have worked hard to stay busy and try to keep my emotions in check.   But it doesn’t take much for fear to jump in, and I find myself in the middle of a panic attack.   Why does life have to be so hard?   Recalling an earlier conversation I had with myself (Hey, I’m pretty good conversationalist), in which I reminded myself it was just a few days ago that I questioned “my shining hours” were actually some of the hardest of my life.   Now isn’t that something?    I was hot and didn’t even know it?  Haha!

If you think of it Tuesday morning, Wednesday afternoon, drop a prayer or send good thoughts my way.  I’d appreciate it!  And I hope you have a lovely Monday!   Is there such a thing???