Inspiration

Uncovering The Gift

I’ve been staring at it for years.

I see it while sitting at the little table in our kitchen where I have my quiet time with God, writing and praying, crying and thinking…you know, doing Life.

Even though hidden by a tan cloth cover, I can see it anyway.  It was something I coveted and longed for, for years: A brand new black and chrome Artisan Kitchen Aid mixer. I bought it one birthday about 5 years ago.  Initially, I stored it on top of our maple hutch while waiting to move somewhere that had more than the postage stamp sized counter space the 800 sq. ft. Craftsman we were living in provided.

4 years ago this month, we moved into just that sort of space. The Kitchen Aid, however, has remained hidden under tan fabric on the top of the hutch where it’s served as a book end for my collection of vintage cookbooks.  A very expensive, guilt producing bookend.

That is, until yesterday.

Thinking back on it now, I am again filled with awe at how God works in my life.  Waking at 1:11 a.m., I made my way to the coffee maker and the table.  From years of experience I know when I’m not going to be able to get back to sleep, and I have no problem doing “whatever” comes to mind in those pre-dawn hours. My mother’s life has taught me many things.  One is, don’t push against the insomnia.  Don’t fight it and bitch about it.  Embrace it.  Make it work FOR you, not against you. There are reasons for getting up while other’s are sleeping, and many (if not most) of them are sacred.

They are Holy Hours.

You would think that after so many years of being the recipient of Just In Time answers to prayer, worry wouldn’t wake me in the middle of the night.  But it does, and it did, and so I knew a a Mind Dump was needed…. the writing out of my concerns into my journal that always brings relief (and often, answers).

I write a bit, sip coffee, stare at the tan lump on top of the hutch, at the vintage dishes stored inside it, at my cook books and cooking accoutrements.  I REALLY should bring The Lump down and uncover it.  I REALLY should use it or sell it. (a familiar refrain for months).

For whatever reason, yesterday was the day and at 2:30 a.m., after rearranging items on the counter top to create space, I climb onto a chair and surprise myself at being able to lift the damn thing from so high up because it’s weighty.  Brushing away cobwebs and snatching the cover off, my breath catches.

KAOh my God, it’s SO beautiful!  So shiny and perfect. How did I not do this before? Why did I wait so long?

Not only does it fit perfectly in it’s new home, the things on top of the hutch are arranged in a more pleasing way as well.  A domino effect of order and attractiveness ensued, and with it, a sense of relief mixed with import in the moment.

The word “Artisan” catches my eye….black lettering on stainless steel….tugging at my soul strings, trying to get my attention.

It’s symbolic, isn’t it,  this lovely, costly tool that’s been covered up, unused and forgotten?  It’s something about me.  My life.

My gift.

I sit back down to pray and write some more. 3 pages in, I find myself writing about writing.  Recalling a time when I was in an inspired and prolific flow, when words literally poured out of me, I relived the sense of satisfaction from being in my purpose felt as I heard from people who were touched after reading me.  They didn’t feel so alone, somehow.  They felt understood.  WE felt understood, my audience and I together.

And then I remembered when that wellspring of creativity stopped, why it stopped, and who stopped it.

Ugh.

In the decade since, I’ve never again been in that sort of inspired flow.   Did I decide I would be punished like before if I “went there”?  That I would be hurt? Scribbling furiously, I continued along this line of self questioning…

Did I subconsciously BLOCK the flow in order to protect myself from feeling pain and frustration?  Is there something in me that wants to be expressed?

IS THERE A BOOK INSIDE ME THAT WANTS TO BE WRITTEN? THAT PEOPLE WANT TO READ?  (all caps now)

…..Yes.

(ok, that wasn’t me….I keep writing….)

What’s it about?

.….Not giving up….

(huh.  yeah, well, I guess I do know something about that)

Is it fiction or non fiction?

….Nonfiction….

(whew.  I’m not so great at making things up.)

Who is my audience?

….Women Who Want More….

More what?

…. Hope, inspiration, understanding, fulfillment, guidance….

….. GRACE

And that’s when I am given the title.

I am stunned.  I think God just showed up.  For reals.

As I ponder all this, and the direction it was going – how this idea connects to that passion that connects with something else creative I started last year – I found myself grabbing a pencil and sketching in my journal.   It’s the Kitchen Aid mixer.  The sketching itself feels like a meditation as I sip coffee, adjust lines, and think about, well, what just happened.

It’s about 4:30 when I get it where I want it and write the title underneath it.

And just like that, I see it.  Literally.  Ideas start filling my head.   Excitement and inspiration course through me.  I run to the back office and pull out my project from last Winter.  I am amazed at how the disjointed pieces of half finished work and a dream left for dead start fitting together – like a puzzle. It was all right here, the whole time, just waiting to be uncovered. The Plan.  HIS plan.

I know what to do.

“I am the Lord Your God who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.”  –  Isaiah 48:17

Inspiration, Life, Love, Relationships, Spirituality, Women, Writing

Every New Beginning Ends

100_0389When my oncologist looked at me yesterday during our regular 6 week visit and said, “So you’re done!” it took me a minute to understand what he was saying.

Fresh from the treatment room where I had received the IV medication I’ve taken every 3 weeks for the last year, I was still groggy from the Benedryl. “What?”

“That’s it!  You’re all done with your treatments!”  His smile grew bigger.

“But I thought I still had 1 more!”  Much more alert, I also suddenly felt scared, interestingly enough.

“Nope. You haven’t missed any and 17 is what I generally give and today you got 17.  You’re all done.”

Nearly 24 hours later, and I can still hardly believe it.  In February of 2015, when I was told it would take 18 months to complete the course of treatment recommended, I honestly didn’t think I could do it.  18 months was a lifetime!  It wasn’t just the surgery I had to face.  It was 6 rounds of chemotherapy.  It was the 35 rounds of radiation.  It was a year’s worth of Herceptin, and all the poking and prodding and testing in between.  It sounded like a hideous 18 month clusterf*** of pain and danger and potential side effects to deal with.

This wasn’t a sprint.  It was a marathon and I hate running!

I didn’t think I could do it.  I literally did not know if I’d be strong enough or brave enough to do it!   All I felt was fear – Me, who didn’t think she was afraid of anything, was suddenly a coward begging God to PLEASE make it all go away!.  Seriously, I promised to do literally ANYTHING if it all just miraculously disappeared.

But in spite of the prayers, God didn’t make the cancer go away.  At least, not supernaturally (which I know happens.)  Instead, S/he took me by the shoulders, pointed me towards the fiery furnace, and said, “Go.  Just take one step at a time.  And I will be with you all the way.”

That’s exactly what happened.  With every step I took, God was there  walking with me, never leaving my side and – during some particularly dark moments – carrying me through the flames.  One step.  Then another and another.

Suddenly, 18 months was over.  I made it!

I believe in the power of prayer.  I believe that all prayer is answered, just not necessarily in the form that we think or hope it will be.   Experiencing an immediate deliverance or an unfolding grace for the journey – both are answered prayer and both are miraculous.

Day and night.  Light and Dark.  The Lord created them both and while we may not always understand it, the Dark IS holy.  There are certain things we can learn only by experiencing a Dark Night, as fearsome and lonely and painful and confusing as it might be.  That’s why authentic Shamans are those who have experienced a real and traumatic “death and rebirth” of some type.  Not at all like the New Age folks self-identifying as shamans after taking a few courses, beating a drum, and finding a few hawk feathers.

Learning to accept the dark days of our lives as part of the natural order of things helps relieve some of our suffering.  We come to understand that we aren’t being punished when bad things happen to us – when we suddenly find ourselves face to face with the fire.  We are being called to transform.

In 18 months, I learned to prioritize and simplify my life.  To say “No” where before I said “Yes”.  I learned who my real friends were, and how to care for myself when no one showed up.  I learned to trust “in spite of”….in spite of my fears, in spite of what others had experienced, even in spite of doubt.  My personal spiritual beliefs were honed and sharpened. I know now what I believe in, and WHO I believe in, with a deeper understanding and depth than ever before.  The dross floated to the top and has been skimmed away.

The fire purifies, if we let it.

Every tear I wept was gathered in gentle Hands and kept for safe keeping.  Every time I bowed my head….in weakness or humbleness or fear or worship…those same Hands tenderly smoothed over my hairless head and brought me physical comfort, and an soulful awareness that I wasn’t alone.

And every groan of despair that rose from deep within my belly and broke through lips cracked and blistered was turned into a song of deliverance.

The dark is not to be feared, but revered.  For without the darkness of the night sky, we’d never see the stars.

So.  That’s it! And I have such mixed emotions.  As I turn the page to close one chapter of my life, the blank page of the next is staring me full in the face.  So much has changed, but I’ve never been more ME. I’ve lost much….friends, my job, my old identity…but I’ve gained so much more.

I feel like a new being.  I know that the Next Right Thing will reveal itself to me in due season.  The right people.  The right events.  The right stuff.  Trust in the Divine Plan for my life has never been stronger, forged in the furnace of affliction.

I have walked through the fire and, as promised, made it to the other side unscathed.

To God be the glory.

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you, and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” – Isaiah 43:2

Daily Inspiration

In Memory Of Dr. Wayne Dyer

For those who were students and appreciators of Dr. Wayne Dyer and his work, his sudden and unexpected death on August 29, 2015 came as a huge shock.20150805_065656

I count myself as one of those people, and not just because he shared a strong resemblance to my father.

Coming late to the New Thought party, I didn’t hear of Dr. Dyer until sometime around 2002.  But once I had, I was hooked.  Many of his books are on my shelves.  I’ve watched untold number of PBS specials with him as the speaker, and I attribute his work for being some of the most meaningful in my life in the last decade.

As I am not quite up to writing a full post this morning, I thought I would share a fantastic article that arrived in my email this morning.  Written by Luminita Savius over at Purpose Fairy.

It’s called, “15 Life Changing Lessons To Learn From Wayne Dyer”, and you can find it HERE.

I love all 15 of Luminita’s points, but especially No. 11.  It’s one I’m practicing a lot these days….

11. No need to stress over everything.

Believe it or not, there is an invisible force who created the whole world, the whole Universe and this force becomes available to us the moment we stop trying to do it all by ourselves, the moment we decide to allow events to take their natural course and just go with the FLOW.

“Good morning, this is God. I will be handling all of your problems today. I will not need your help. So have a miraculous day.” ~ Wayne Dyer

Wishing YOU a miraculous day as well.

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

Broken Open

3 weeks.

It’s hard to believe that’s how long it’s been since my last post.

Here, at the end of Week 3, I am beginning to feel really good.  Any discomfort is manageable (although I miss being able to lay on my tummy).  The bruising is subsiding.  And the incision is closing nicely.

I’m spending my days taking care of myself.  Been getting out for my daily walks again this week, and I spend a lot of time cooking as I experiment with healthy, cancerass-kicking recipes.  My garden is thriving under my now-more-consistent-care, my home is getting mini organizational makeovers, and – if you take the whole “C” word out of the equations – I feel very peaceful and in love with this new softer paced life.

Here I am in that Grace Period between What Was and What Will Be – which, at least initially, involves another surgery one week from today.

This isn’t a bad thing.  I was amazingly relieved to learn that the sentinel nodes that were removed did not contain any cancer cells.  And while the tissue my doc removed was larger than expected, (one tumor was 2mm, the other area 6mm) she was able to get a “clear margin” of 1mm around it all and keep my breast looking very “normal”.  Perky, even.

It’s just that 1.5mm to 2mm is the gold standard where margins are concerned, so Friday she’ll reexcise through the original incision and remove a little more tissue.  Widen the DMZ, so to speak.

And hey – I’m good with that.  For one thing, she’s not looking for something new, praisethebabyJesus.

But more importantly is that this second surgery delayed the chemo timeline and gives me more time to figure out what the HELL I want to do.

This is where my heart is broken open before God.  See, I can face anything if I know that it’s The Divine Plan.  But I gotta KNOW.  I mean, that kind of knowing that gives you peace, even if it means facing the fires of hell.

And in this case, that’s a pretty accurate description.

Once I learned that women were dying in large numbers from what I have without the current treatments available, I’ve not been so quick to throw those treatments out with the Side Effect Ladened bathwater.  Breast Cancer isn’t a one-size-all deal.  It’s not just about “Stages”.  There are a half dozen types of actual cancer pathologies with another handful of characteristics that make up the full diagnosis.  These cover everything from indicators on what the tumors are sensitive to, to genetic risks to aggression numbers.

But.  Right now?  The tumors I had are GONE.  They were successfully removed and when the nodes are clear, there is a very low possibility the cancer has metastasized somewhere else.   So, anything I do from this point is to try to keep it from coming back, and to kill any little floaters that escaped that may….MAY….be somewhere in my body.

Basically, it’s all a fucking crap shoot.

So what is “easier”?  Where are my intentions and prayers and visionings best placed?  To believe for my complete healing and remission by just accepting the surgery and taking my chances?  (Well, along with dietary/lifestyle changes and supplements and whatever else I can think of…)

OR, would my faith be better placed in the recommended treatment plan – a plan that has proven to be very successful –  and just pray to God that I can jump over all the potential issues caused by the 4 treatments themselves?  Each of them – chemotherapy, Herceptin, radiation, and some sort of aromatose inhibitor – is reported to have some pretty icky side effects,  although not everyone experiences them and some are temporary (hair loss, for example).

I’ve learned that many of the potential side effects have to do with the HEART….which is kind of interesting.   I come to feel that with this being in my left breast and all, the cancer metaphysically morphed as a result of heart related issues.  The SOUL kinda heart, not the organ.  Things like betrayals, self sacrificing, over nurturing of others, stress and a deep soul tiredness.

Do I have what it takes to believe that I will be one of  lucky/blessed/graced/fortunate/protected ones 4 times over? Or, will the surgery and my own efforts – with God’s blessing – be enough to keep the wolves at bay?

That is the question that I must answer, and that I carry around me with me every moment of every day.  My hope is that when the time comes when I MUST decide, I will know.

breast