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

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

The Write Stuff

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Writers are a strange weird breed unto themselves.

I spent an hour reading and un-privatizing some posts from 2007 on Saturday. Just a few for now.  And don’t ask me why.  It just felt like something I wanted to do, and I plan on doing more as the mood strikes.

2007.  Where has the time gone? This blog used to be called The Wild Pomegranate.   I changed it last summer when I thought to redirect the subject of my posts.  Funny thing is, that didn’t last long.  I keep defaulting to my Self.  Go figure.

But Thank the BlogGods my days of deleting entire blogs on a whim (usually triggered by some emotional or spiritual melt down) are over. I remember two of them – one, “Phoenix Rising” and another, “The 13 Graces”. I had some really good stuff on those pages, too, dammit.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve kicked my own ass for “purging” like that.

Now if I’m not feeling it for some reason, I just go private and stop blogging for a while, or start-up a new blog. (Don’t tell WordPress but I have at least 2 dozen in the queue.)

C’est la vie.  Guess you can teach an old blog-dog new tricks after all.

There’s something vastly appealing about a starting new blog, or a new page in a journal, or a new journal all together, for that matter! A blank page – be it a piece of paper or a computer screen – just beckons for something FRESH. Something NEW. Something NOT EXPERIENCED BEFORE. I get giddy of all that possibility.  (Confession: I purge my journals, too. Those books are my “safe space”, where I literally bleed on the pages. Not a word is written with an “audience” in mind, not even a spouse or a child. Besides. Who would want to saddle someone with decades worth of THAT crazy stuff?)

Most blogging “experts” advise picking a single topic for your blog so as to show yourself as an “expert” – you know, for building a brand and a following and all that stuff. The only thing I’m an expert at is myself, and even then it’s a crap shoot.  And while it’s nice to think others like my writing enough to follow along, I got over the numbers game years ago.  I write for the joy.  For the release.  For the healing.  I write because I have to.

And my topics  Well, they’re as eclectic as I am:  Spirituality, family, cooking, sex, relationships, crafts, politics, the whole Breast Cancer thing. I’ve even played around with some fiction, as well.

You name it, I’ve probably penned at least one rant post about it.

In this new season of my life, however, with all this TIME I now have, writing has taken on a new significance.  A week ago, I went to my first writer’s workshop and have more on the calendar. Imagine, all these decades of writing both personally and professionally and I’ve never had any proper training. I’m a pantser, 95% of the time, and 80% of the time, it turns out pretty good.  I keep remembering the people who came out of the woodwork last year to tell me I should write a book.  I’m not sure if I’m there yet, but SOMETHING is happening.

I’m starting a whole new LifeStory, so to speak. I’ve been walking through Unchartered Territory,  being transformed by a paradigm shift of immense proportions. It’s been more than a year year since I left my desk job.  A YEAR! The longest I’ve gone without a place to go to Monday through Friday since I started Kindergarten at age 5! Talk about a WTF realization!

With the diagnosis received in January of 2015, nothing has been Business As Usual.  The way I spend my time is fluid and largely unscheduled, except for my ongoing treatments. My social circle has been morphing.  How I relate to “activities” and people and events is changing.

Mother's Day 2016 With My Grandson
Mother’s Day 2016 With My Grandson
Even the way I look is completely different, with my little gray post-chemo pixie. Almost everything in my life has changed.

Everything except for the writing.

Tomorrow, my life is about to change again. For the first time since the late 90s when I did a lot of volunteering in church (head of Women’s Ministry, co-head of the Food Pantry, Bible Study leader, Prayer Team leader, Den Mother to a couple dozen 7 and 8 year olds boys in the Royal Rangers program), I’ll be spending scheduled time every week volunteering.  Specifically for Habitat For Humanity.

Yep, I got the gig I interviewed for after all! Starting tomorrow, 4 to 5 hours a day on Monday/Wednesday/Fridays, I’ll be the acting Social Media and On Line Marketing administrator for one of the H4H ReStores.  For 4 months, I have the opportunity to do what I love doing for a great cause – everything from keeping their half-dozen Social Media outlets updated, to taking photographs and listing items for sale, to writing blogs to inform and inspire others.

THIS is something unlike anything I’ve never done before. A new beginning. A fresh page.  And I can’t hardly wait!  Who knew that this was the new life promise I’ve been holding onto through surgeries, chemo, radiation, betrayal, job loss, ad naseum?

And who knows what will happen from here?  It feels like I’ve stumbled upon my destiny, and can finally (thankyoujesus) put what I know to good use for something bigger than myself – spending my time in meaningful ways, with like-minded people, for something I believe in.  It is literally a dream come true, the dream I blogged about years ago.  I feel like this is the right thing, at the right time, for all the right reasons – even if I’m not getting paid for it.  Yet. (smiling)

And THAT is something to write about.