Daily Inspiration, Life, Love

What Shows Up

Cell Phone Photos - ALL 169The “job search” continues.  About 40 resumes have been emailed since my lay off last month.  On most days, I cruise CareerBuilder and Monster, possibly Craigslist, looking for a couple of new opportunities.  I’ve submitted a bunch of applications directly online at company websites.  I updated my LinkedIn profile . I registered at CalJobs.  So I’m legit.

(Side note: I made an interesting discovery:  I’m now considered “disabled” in the job market, because of having a past diagnosis of cancer. Me?  Really?)

Anyway, I’m doing all the right things – mechanically….

But my heart isn’t in it.  Far from it.  The thought of returning to the 8 to 5 grind, sitting at a desk in an office all day, just doesn’t excite me in the least – no matter how “awesome” the work itself was. Even thinking about it, I start feeling stressed out.

Since this whole crazy trip began a year ago, I felt Something New calling to me at the end of my breast cancer journey.  Something so totally different, I wouldn’t recognize my life at first.  I believed this message with my whole heart….as in a “God Told Me So” way.  It helped me get through 4 months of chemotherapy.  It kept me going through 35 days of radiation.  It was my LIGHT at the end of long, black tunnel.  Daily I would affirm I could “do it” knowing “that” is waiting for me!

So applying for the same type of a job I’ve done for 4 decades feels grossly at cross purposes.  However, much like voting in the Presidential elections in November, it’s a necessary evil.  Especially when my heart is saying, “Oh hell NO!  Not this shit again!”

But I do it, to do the right thing with Unemployment.  I do it out of habit, a bit, too.  But more importantly,  I do it because I trust that the Universe is directing my steps. Each and every one of them.  I believe there are doors with my name on them, and they will open at just the right time, in just the right place, for my next career move.   That is….IF they open.

What if they don’t?  I haven’t received a single call from any of the places I’ve applied. A ton of calls from recruiters, staffing agencies and insurances agencies to be sure (is Insurance the new MLM scam?  What is up with them calling??)  But not a peep from the people I’ve sent my info to.  And that reminds me…

Closed Doors are answers, too, aren’t they?

That new life?  The one I was promised?  Maybe it doesn’t include a job like that at all!  Maybe that was the end of an era, as much as the end of a job.

Could it be I’ve actually (finally) arrived at those blessed years called “retirement”, quite by accident and certainly not in a way I was prepared for?  Could this be it?

Closed doors are answers, too.    What shows up IS the ‘answer’!

The other day I had an “aHa!” moment.  Take the whole B.C. issue away.  Just looking at my life, I realize I now have so many things I prayed for, for years and years.  All through the baby years.  All through the junior high and high school years.  All through marriages, divorces, births, deaths.  Now I have them, and all because I now have time.

TIME: Oh, blessed time.   It makes me giddy thinking about all the free time I have!  These days when I’m enjoying my quiet time or putzing in the morning, I don’t have to stop what I’m doing to get ready for work!  Sure, there’s the odd appointment now and then.  But by in large, I determine the times for those, for when they suit me.  I’m FREE! No one to answer to.  No one expecting me to be at their beck and call.  No resentment, frustration, stress.  I have all the time I need take walks, to cook, to read, to spend time with girlfriends, to take classes.  To NAP!

I have TIME to live and it’s fucking incredible!

No longer chained to a desk for 40 hours a week, my body is THRIVING on the movement it gets every day.  (who knew I naturally have a waistline and a little junk in my trunk!)

No longer having to report for duty at 8 a.m., whether or not I slept the night before, the dark circles under my eyes are gone and I look younger.

I don’t have to worry about missing work to take care of my grandson.  I can visit my elderly mom during the week.  I can cook up something for dinner earlier in the day, to have it all ready before I run out of steam.  I can have lunch with a friend at the spur of the moment, or attend a morning pottery class, or read a great novel.  My garden looks well tended.  My home is maintained.  I can rest when I’m tired, and eat when I’m hungry.

TIME – Rather than trying to squeeze my “real life” into stolen moments allowed around working My Job, my real life IS my life.  And I gotta tell ya. It’s taking some getting used to…this feeling of relaxation about my days, this easy flow, but I am.  I’m finally catching on  I’ve had a paradigm shift like having a kid is a paradigm shift.  Everything changes.

I am becoming that butterfly.  FINALLY! The free one.  The one with the beautiful wings.  The one that moves with ease and grace through her days. I’m just getting my coordinates, and I hardly recognize myself. But it’s time.

This is it.

The Wild Pomegranate

A Change In Direction – A New Blogging Journey

GraceUpsideDown

2015 is proving to be THE Year of Radical Transformation for me, catapulted by a diagnosis of Breast Cancer that I received back in January.

Like most people given the news that they have a life threatening illness, my first thought was, “This can’t be happening!”  It’s true what they say, you know.  You never think it could happen to you. I’ve always been a strong, independent, capable woman.  After receiving the news just prior to my 58th birthday, I was feeling anything but.  Instead, I felt fragile and petrified. I wasn’t sure what to do, where to go, and who to talk to, to get my life back!

Mostly, I acutely felt my mortality for the first time ever.  This shit could kill me.

Breast cancer has impacted every aspect of my life, not just my health.  My relationships, my job, my spiritual and emotional lives, my finances and my sense of self have all been enormously impacted – I will never be the same.

And I’m beginning to think this may be one of the best things that has ever happened to me.

I’m learning so much while on this journey, and here’s one thing that I know for sure:  While there are definitely moments of gut wrenching fear, pain, and loss, there are many more moments of receiving unconditional love, peace, healing, and extravagant Grace.  Life has a new preciousness to it now.  I savor and find pleasure in the small, simple things, all while taking an honest look at what’s really important to me and how I want to live out the rest of this wild ride called LIFE.

There are still good things yet to be experienced.  GREAT things, even.  My best days really are ahead of me!

If I only stay in a place of SURRENDER, TRUST and BELIEF….

So, you may have noticed by now.  The Wild Pomegranate is gone, and Grace Upside Down is here with a new look, a new name, and new direction.  I have felt The Call to blog primarily about my own “dance” with breast cancer (love this term coined by Susan Weed, The Wise Woman!) and all the stuff that goes along with it.  However, not all posts will be BC related.  This is another thing I know: Breast cancer doesn’t define me.  It’s only one season in a long chain of seasons in my life.

But this dance is honing me and purifying me like a great big Fiery Furnace of Alchemy.  The lead is turning to gold.  I am going to come out of this thing bearing Gifts and I want to share them.  I will come out this deal in better shape than I was going in.  For all intents and purposes, I will be a completely changed woman, more ME than I’ve ever been, and yet different in innumerable ways.  Ways that I want to be in alignment with the highest version of myself and my purpose.

My hope is that what I provide here will be helpful to others engaged in their own dance with breast cancer, as well as caretakers and anyone else who might want to stick along for the ride.  That being said….

To My Subscribers:  Some of you have been with me since the beginning in 2007.  Please, please, please know that I will not take offense if you decide to unsubscribe in the face of this new direction I’m taking.  I totally get it if it’s not for you.  THANK YOU for the time that you did spend with me here, and I wish you much health and happiness!

For anyone else who decides to stay – and for the new people who make their way here –

Welcome to my Initiation.

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

Breasts, Conversations With God, Inspiration, Life, Love, Miracles, Prayer, Spirituality, The Wild Pomegranate, Women, Writing

In Honor

  

Later today, the doctor will be cutting out a piece of my breast.  3 cm, more or less.  The size of a kiwi or a Roma tomato.

 Maybe smaller if all the prayers have worked….

I just finished my “antibacterial” shower, the second in less than 12 hours (doctors orders) and applied the Lidocaine patch.  The patch needs to be in place 6 hours before the lymphatic mapping procedure at 11:00, where they will inject me with a blue contrast material and after which I might have a little after glow going on that might make me look gray around the gills.

The nurse told my husband not to worry…I might look like I’m not breathing, but it’s just the dye.  Awesome.  It will go great with the gray hoodie I’m wearing.

*sigh* It will be a long day at the medical center.  I have to be there at 8:30 for the needle localization…a procedure where they insert “needles” into my breast as markers for the surgeon.  This will give her the tumor coordinates, so to speak.  Surgery is scheduled for 1:30 and I’m thrilled that they keep telling me I will be ready to go home at about 4:00.

As I washed myself a few minutes ago, touching my breast with healing and compassion for what is to come, I couldn’t help but wonder.  Wonder at this companion I’ve carried with me for 58 years, from tiny bud to full ripe fruit….through the nursing of two babies and sensual delights of an unmentionable number iof lovers.  I’ve loved my breasts and hated them, only to come around full circle to love once again once I realized that they were in jeopardy.  That I  was in jeopardy.

And I couldn’t help but wonder how the surgery will effect the way my breast will look and feel….what angle the scar will take and whether or not the change will be obvious to others.  It will definitely be smaller but my doc has assured me that she will make the shape as “nice” as possible.  Having a female surgeon, and an excellent one, gives me great confidence.  She gets it, in a way no man ever could.

Naturally, prayers have been going forth that the cancer be obliterated…the tumor shrunken like a dark brown raisin under a white hot sun….leaving a fresh healthy margin in its place.  I’ve been praying that my nodes are clear, and that the surgery itself will be quick and brilliantly successful.

But now…in the early dawn hours as I lie here, cleansed and waiting, I want to thank my breast.  To honor her journey thus far, and to pay homage.  It….I….will not be the same after today.  But I vow to love myself, scars and all, into health and wholeness, with a holy gratitude for the gifts my breast – my entire body – has given to me.

The precious and fragile and resilient and mysterious earthen vessel that houses my soul and makes this journey through physical life possible, I Thank you.  I Bless you.  I Love you.

Amen.

The Wild Pomegranate

The Space In Between

Water

“How are you feeling?”

It’s a question I’m asked a lot these days. The ironic thing is, I don’t seem to be able to answer this question fully at any one given time.  When I try to reply, the Truth seems to lodge in my throat, a gooey lump of hope and fear. Even now as I type this I feel it swelling…. an energetic chicken bone, jagged and piercing.  It makes my eyes tear up.

But I do my best to answer honestly.  I am OK.  I’m taking things one day at a time. I’m praying that the biopsy results – both from the procedure I had this past Tuesday and the one coming up on Monday – will show that these areas in my breast are benign.  For sure, I down play my feelings to make my kids feel better.  To make my husband feel better.

They all need me to be OK.

It’s been a bit of a surprise that I can be so filled with STUFF and yet I’ve been almost paralyzed when it comes to writing about this journey.  I see how superstitious I might be…as if even acknowledging the word “cancer” -whether in written form or verbally – will somehow bring it upon me.

If it isn’t already there.

It’s weird that when faced with my biggest health challenge, The words won’t come.  WTF is up with that?  Writing is my medicine!  It’s my guru and my therapist and my BFF.  Writing is a cathartic purging, that safe place where I can spew out all my demons and them sort them out.  Whether in my journal or here on the blog, writing has been extraordinarily healing to me over the years.

But not with this situation.  In fact, an odd stillness has me in its grip.  Sometimes  I wonder if it’s all the prayers being sent my way, keeping me calm. Uncharacteristically passive. Sure, I’m doing all the necessary things.  Going to work.  Doing laundry.  Fixing meals and caring for my family.  But mostly, I seem to be floating in the shallow end.  I spend any sleepless hours at night playing, not praying – playing some silly game or watching a movie or reading a bit.  I sit still A LOT.  I don’t talk much.  Hell, I haven’t even been cleaning – which is always my superpower during times of stress or uncertainty.

Someone hit my Pause button.

These past few days even my prayers have been simple.  “Thank you” and  “Please”  are almost always the first (and sometimes the only) words I think of when it occurs to me that maybe I should be praying about this. Unlike during my daughter’s recent cancer scare, when I would wake up in the middle of the night and immediately go into Battle Mode,  I wake up and grab my iPad to zone out. (although there is a meditative quality to arranging this and selecting that in the games I play.  And in all cases, I have CONTROL over what is happening….)

Maybe, as strong as I am….as powerful and Let’s Do This! as I have been, I might actually be a bit of a coward when it comes to things pertaining to my insides.  NOT spiritual things..physical things.  Things that may mean I have to yield my control over to other people.

Like doctors.  And surgeons.  And anesthesiologists.

Everyone has their own way of dealing with things, I suppose.  All I feel like doing is hiding out in my Cave until the storm passes, allowing things to unfold without much effort on my part. Taking it one step at a time seems to help. Letting go and letting God is mandatory.  Breathing, well…. sometimes I have to remind myself to do that properly.

Mostly, I’m waiting. For what, I’m not quite sure yet….

Later this morning I will get to work out for the first time since Tuesday.  I’ll go get a massage.  Maybe do a little grocery shopping and finish my laundry.  I’ll fix something healthy to eat, and hopefully won’t fall off of the Diet wagon again tonight when Comfort calls in the form of cookies or chips.

And in the spaces in between I’ll just be here now.