The Wild Pomegranate

Seeds Of Change

seed-packets-peasWhat is it about woundedness that is so powerful in engaging others?  Whether it’s a physical ailment, a childhood trauma or a recent heartbreak, it seems that when we start speaking to the world through the voice of our wounds, the world responds back in spades.  Suddenly, the flood gates open up and everyone has a story to share. Strangers immediately become brothers and sisters, and don’t show the least hesitation in sharing deeply personal and painful experiences.

Years ago, at the recommendation of a therapist my husband and I were seeing, I began going to 12-Step support groups for Co-Dependants Anonymous and Sex Addicts Anonymous.  I also joined a couple of online communities for the same purposes.  Initially, it was a huge relief to be able to share my stories with people who had “been there, done that.”  Compassion, encouragement, and support surrounded me.  I soon discovered that I wasn’t alone, there were people more fucked up than me (no judgment there, just sayin’…), and  I didn’t have to have secrets anymore.

I was validated and heard – two things very important on any healing journey.

But something began to happen about 30 days into it.  I wasn’t finding the groups helpful any more.  The people began to annoy me, the meetings drained me, and I no longer felt like I belonged. I simply couldn’t bear the constant rehashing of everyone’s issues over and over again, with so little focus placed on the solution.  And my skin crawled at the idea of saying, “Hi, I’m Grace, and I’m an addict.”  The words just didn’t want to come out.

“Once an addict, always an addict” is one of the major philosophies of the traditional 12 Step Program. and I was having none of it.   I may have developed some maladaptive “survival” behaviors, but those were things I LEARNED to do as a child. And surely, anything learned could be UNLEARNED, and new behaviors put into place – right?

So I quit going to meetings and began seeing a solution based program.   It wasn’t long before I stumbled upon a wonderful Buddhist Bodhisatta, a psychologist, who was running an online recovery program, and immediately I felt at home.  I had found my tribe.  And under his care and instruction, true healing began.

To this day I thank the Recovery Gods that I listened to those little warning bells, and removed myself from the 12 step programs.  It didn’t take more than a year before I was free…completely….of addictive behavior.  My recovery came from being in a “wellness” focused environment – not a “sickness” focused one.  I spoke and prayed and meditated and affirmed and manifested health into existence, having surrendered it all to God’s grace.  My thoughts and words shifted. aligning with freedom. wholeness and well being.

And my whole life changed.

I was thinking about this yesterday when, for what seemed like the millionth time, I sat at the computer to write a post and came up empty.  Several times a few sentences managed to make their way to the page, but the flow was missing.  I’d type and end up staring at the screen for 5 minutes.  Then I’d try to “force” something, but I would quickly lose interest and delete the page – completely uninspired.

Then, the epiphany.   I don’t want to write about breast cancer, my daily challenges and experiences.  Not right now.  Even though it is the “big” issue in my life right now, even though ’m undergoing treatment, and yeah, it’s been difficult at time, and even though there are times when I absolutely need to talk about what I’m going through – it’s not what’s in my heart to write about.

I no more want to identify as a breast cancer “survivor” than I did a “recovering addict”.  It doesn’t feel right.  I am NOT a disease, and my life is made up of so much more than this single season!  As powerful as it’s been, as transformational and life altering, it does not – and will not – define me.

This mindset explains why pink ribbons don’t fill in my space.  In fact, now that I think about it, the only pink ribbons I do have were given to me by others! The beautiful handmade blanket covered…the t-shirt….the handcrafted key chain.

Don’t get me wrong!  I am SO very appreciative of these thoughtful gifts.  The outpouring of love, support, prayers, gifts and encouragement I’ve received has been an amazing blessing.  But it’s been my friends and family who have filled my life with merch and slogans like, “Fight Like A Girl” and “Kick Cancer’s Ass” and “Save The Tatas”.

The only thing I’ve personally done that would ID me as someone dealing with cancer is my bald head.  Otherwise, no one would know if they saw me. AND THAT’S THE WAY I WANT IT.

I’ve been receiving messages from Spirit in the past couple of weeks.  Every time I turn around, I see something about the power of words.  I am being reminded of something I learned several decades ago, and that is this:  The power of life and death and in the tongue (Proverbs 18:21), that it is out of the abundance of the heart that we speak (Matthew 12:34), and that the tongue of the wise brings healing (Proverbs 12:18).

Words contain the power of life and death, blessing and cursing, health or illness.  They are containers of vibration.  The Hidden Messages in Water – the work of renown scientist Masaru Emoto – shows that even the written word carries vibrational energy that impacts life is near it. Words let the Universe and everyone around us know exactly what it is our hearts and our minds, and repeating the same thing over and over again is, in itself, a creative process. (Hence the power of chanting).

So I’ve been confronted by Spirit recently:  What is it that I am saying?  What thoughts am I repetitively thinking, what prayers?  What WORDS am I using?  What the HELL is coming out of my mouth?

This morning, I’m  making a decision…..setting an intention.  I want to speak – and write – only those words that bring the vibration of healing, restoration and renewal into my life.  Just like back in the “recovery” days,  I’m going to focus what I want, and not on what I have.

Words are like seeds we plant in the unseen ground of our tomorrows. And I know exactly what I want to grow.

“We have totally forgotten that this Universe is the outcome of vibration. This Universe is not communication. This Universe is not money. This Universe is not love, it is not sex, it is not beauty, it is not even God. That one line is true: “In the beginning there was the Word, Word was with God, and Word was God.” That’s all it is about. What is a word? Creative vibration.”  Yogi Bhajan  7/18/84

The Wild Pomegranate

AlienNation

wigIt’s 1 a.m. and I can’t sleep.

It’s the steroids.  Tomorrow is Round 2  (I always think of boxing every time I use that phrase.  It’s SO apropos, I should get a pair of boxing gloves to wear when I go in!).  I have to take steroids the day before, during and after the treatment.  They are actually one of my least favorite of the non-favorite parts of of this but they somehow prime the cells to take the chemo better.

Whatever….

So here I am, in  front of my keyboard, looking for some more release.  This has been another week of highs and lows.  The last couple of days I’ve been feeling pretty good physically – almost back to “normal”.  which has been awesome.  Especially since I shaved my head yesterday.   Not sure what I would see with the Big Reveal, I ended up quite relieved and barely shed a tear.  For months I’ve been worried I’d have some weird flat spot or lumps, or would look like a giant embryo.

Praise the BBC Gods (that’s Bald By Chemo, btw…),  it’s actually quite shapely! Yay! My husband even called me beautiful (OK, he’s just a good guy anyway, but still…).  Note to anyone out there facing this: being shaved is FAR less traumatic than running your fingers through your hair and pulling back something that looks like a Tribble. tribbles

When I was finished, off to the wig shop I went and ended up finding a super cute one.  It’s actually in the same style that I’ve been wanting, in a color I’ve worn before.  And thanks to a fabulous tip from one of my favorite Drag Queens, Pandora Boxx, I knew exactly what to do with it to help it look even more natural.  That’s right, Pandora messaged me on her InstaGram account.  We’re BFFs like that. Pandora Boxx

One of the challenges of the week was the letter that came from my employer telling me they were terminating my health insurance at the end of the month.  Sure, I’d be offer the same plan via COBRA, but if you’ve had to deal with COBRA, you know how expensive it can be.  Fortunately, I can get onto my husbands plan.  It’s not too much extra a month in premiums, but I suddenly have an annual deductible to meet.  Like I needed another Change to navigate….Oh, well.  It will get done and from what I hear, with the meds they’re pumping into me, it shouldn’t take too long to meet that deductible.  One drug alone is $10,000 a pop.  Thankfully, for now, we have the money to pay.

What a world we live in, where, right in the middle of a health crises, your employer can legally term your benefits and tell you they are going to have to fill your position.  Sure, when/if I go back, they will put me at the top of the list for any “future vacancies” (uh, I was the only one who did what I did),  but I’m not holding my breath.  That’s just so much legal speak which really means, Girl, you is OUT and when you come back, there won’t be anything for you.  Maybe they’ll hoping I will quit so they don’t have to lay me off.

The irony is, I don’t ever want to work for this company again.  Seriously.  I just want to stay employed so that I can continue to collect State Disability until done with my treatments.  And then?

THEN I want to do what I talked about, and written about here, for ages.  I want a whole new career path.  Something where I can spend my time, talents and energy making a positive impact on the world – and not just on some cold, morally challenged corporate bottom line.  I want to be of SERVICE.   To bring a little light into someone’s darkness, or provide a product or service that helps someone in their every day lives.

I want to do what I love, with people I love doing it with, for the highest good of all of us.

And, most importantly, I want to have FUN and experience JOY while I’m doing it!!

So, this letter is actually a push in the right direction.  Sure, it would have been nice to have the company I’ve worked for for nearly a decade put a little more value on my life, my livelihood, and my contribution to the company.  But I’m not surprised in the least.   We don’t vibrate the same, if you know what I mean.  I’m truly alien there, just trying to keep my space – and my spirit – clear of all the toxicity and drama.  Being an honest and upright person in the midst of ass kissers, double talkers and promise breakers is stressful.

Breast cancer has not only been a wake up call, but a call to action.

Now, all I have to do is figure out what that new life might look like.  Since I still have several months of treatments to go through, and a bunch more healing to accomplish, I’m not ready to start putting out applications.  But I can live my life and see what happens.

And I can DREAM.

Speaking of dreaming, my husband told me that while I was napping the other evening, something quite extraordinary happened outside my bedroom window.  He said that at least a hundred dragonflies swooped in out of nowhere and were swarming around and around.  This is NOT something that happens here, although I did find a dragonfly vortex on my driveway many weeks back.  Oh, how I wish I had been awake to see this!!

The DRAGONFLY has shown up in my life during some other very transformational periods in my life.  I wrote about my conversation with one here in fact.  Reading her words again brings such comfort and assurance.  They ring as true tonight as they did over a decade ago when this happened.  Knowing that a 100 dragonflies were involved this time, well…that only makes me feel even better.

Yes, it’s time to dream.

The Wild Pomegranate

Release

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I’m so incredibly sad.

It’s not just losing my hair.  I cut it short a couple of days ago, but it’s coming out by the handfuls every time I comb it or even touch it.  The clippers are out and ready to go along with a cute colorful scarf I bought last year, long before I knew I was about to embark on this journey.  So a buzz is in my immediate future, and not the good kind. (The photo above is what I just pulled out from the back of my head in a minute or two while contemplating this post….there would be more if I kept at it….but I’m making a mess here….)

It’s not the sores on my chest or on the roof of my mouth.  It’s not the three days I spent in the hospital earlier this week, or the antibiotics that give me headaches.  I know dodged a bullet by getting help before catching something while all my counts were extremely low, and my time in reverse isolation wasn’t really “difficult”as much as surreal.  Haven’t spent time in a hospital since my youngest was born 28 years ago.

I’m definitely NOT looking forward to it, but it’s not the idea of Round 2 coming up this Friday, or that I haven’t had the “upswing” of a bunch of really good days between rounds that I had hoped to experience.  With 5 rounds to go, maybe I’ll experience that next time.

No, this sadness is all of the above and none of the above….something inclusive and yet nameless that leaves me wanting to just lay down and not move for hours at a time.  For someone like me, someone used to being busy and active and engaged, who went into this deal feeling healthy and vibrant, that’s a little scary.  It’s not like me.  None of this is “like me”.

I haven’t even felt like writing….and I’m barely praying.  “Please, God” happens a lot.

Its almost as if I’m disintegrating right before my very eyes…dissolving….and, I suppose, in a way I am.  I am no longer the woman I was and I’m not yet the woman I will be.  When I look in the mirror, I never know who I’m going to see because I don’t look like “ME”.  Having experienced a Dark Night of the Soul before, my hunch is that I am now entering into a Dark Night of the Body.  Which effects the Soul, wouldn’t it?  The spirit?

I’m doing my best to remain grateful in the midst of a physical shit storm the likes of which I’ve never experienced.  For example, I’m grateful I didn’t puke my guts up after Round 1.  I’m grateful for family and friends that are so very supportive, kind and loving.  And patient!  Especially my husband, who is staying steady even when I swing from snappy to weepy to sleeping and back again.

I’m extremely grateful that I don’t have to work through this ordeal.  Financially we’re okay with my disability checks.

And right now – at this very moment – I am ecstatic for the torrential downpour happening right outside my window.  We’ve had a storm front move into SoCal these last couple of days, and the much needed rain is a BLESSING to my home state.  And for me personally, the dark clouds and the blustering winds and the sheets of water match the firestorm raging on inside of me….cooling me.  Bringing relief and calm and release.

Release.  How many times a day to I pray for release?  Release from the pain.  Release from the funky shit going on with my body.  Release from all the months of treatment still in front of me.  Release from the lethargy.

My friends keep telling me how strong and brave I am…how much courage I’m displaying, and what great attitude I’ve held.  Today, I don’t feel any of those things.  Perhaps it’s just been a really long week filled with some really stressful and traumatic experiences.  Maybe after I shave my head later tonight I will feel some of the “empowerment” I keep hearing about.  Maybe I will have a few better days until Friday.

Maybe.

Inspiration, Life, Love, Spirituality, The Wild Pomegranate, Women, Writing

“One Day My Soul Opened Up”

“One day my soul just opened up
and things started happenin’
things I can’t quite explain
I mean
I cried and cried like never before
I cried tears of ten thousand mothers
I couldn’t even feel anything because
I cried ‘til I was numb.

One day my soul just opened up
I felt this overwhelming pride
What I was proud of
only God knows!
Like the pride of a hundred thousand fathers
basking in the glory of their newborn sons
I was ginnin’ from ear to ear!

One day my soul just opened up
I started laughing
and I laughed for what seemed like forever
wasn’t nothin’ particularly funny goin’ on
but I laughed anyhow
I laughed the joy of a million children playin’
in the mud
I laughed ‘til my sides ached
Oh God!  It felt so good!

One day, my soul just opened up
There were revelations, annihilations, and resolutions
feelings of doubt and betrayal, vengeance and
forgiveness
memories of things I’d seen and done before
of places I’d been, although I didn’t know when
there were lives I’d lived
people I’d loved
battles I’d fought
victories I’d won
and wars I’d lost.

One day, my soul just opened up
and out poured all of the things
I’d been hiding
and denying
and living through
that had just happened moments before.

One day, my soul just opened up
and I decided
I was good and ready!
I was good and ready
to surrender
my life
to God.

So, with my soul wide open,
I sat down
and wrote Her a note
and told her so.”

Gemmia L. Vanzant

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Inspiration, Life, Love, Spirituality, The Wild Pomegranate, Women, Writing

Entering The Rest

My days meander now.
Sure, there’s the occasional appointment to attend to,
or some “chore” that needs to be done.
But in this new found freedom of
unstructured hours that are quickly
turning into weeks
which will, eventually, I suppose,
turn into months,
I find a softness I didn’t know I had
or forgot I had.

It shows up in my mid day nap
or when I suddenly look at the clock
and realize
it’s 1:00 p.m. and I’m still in my jammies.

Juxtapositioned against this softness
is the fact that I’m physically busier now
than I ever was while sitting at a desk
I move, on and off all day long

My movements ebb and flow like the tides.
And my body has found
relaxation in this movement
In the bending and lifting and plucking and walking about
of an ordinary day at home
filled with things that heal
Cooking
Gardening
Walks outside
Home making
Showering and oiling my body with herbal medicines

How gentle my weekdays have become
when I’m home alone
away from the stress and
dysfunction of my workplace

How beautiful the quiet…
How gorgeous the day spent without another sound
except the chirping of birds
or the tea kettle’s whistle
or some distant neighbors lawn mower

I have so much to be grateful for!

It is said that God gives Joy in the Present Moment.
I believe that.
When I don’t think about “what was”
And I stay away from “what might be”
I find a river of Joy
Flowing through  my soul.
And where there is Joy
there is peace
And where there is peace
there is rest.

I’ve come to realize that I don’t have to
be sick or to die
in order to rest.
The heavy labor is over
The burden has been lifted
My job is to make sure
I don’t pick it up again

It is well with my soul.