Almost exactly 3 years ago to the day, I was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer.
At the time, it seemed this news – and the 18 month healing journey I would have to undergo – was the end of the world. And, in many ways, it was. I was physically, emotionally, and spiritual stripped to the bone and then some. The pieces of my life fell dead to the ground, bit by bit, along with my hair. I lost so much… my career, friends, a sense of self…All swept away.
And during the blackest hours, I lost hope that I would survive. All I had to hold onto, literally, was the promise of better days – a better LIFE – as I kept my eyes on Jesus.
Fast forward to today. I am a happy, healthy Stay-At-Home Grandma, carpooling my grandson back and forth to school, drum lessons, karate, and Brain Balance. I take long morning walks in the park that make my soul sing, and spend as much time in the garden as my fingernails can handle. My husband and I, our marriage renewed as well, are members of a loving and supportive church family where we are making new friends and are in community with people who believe like we do.
This past December I was accepted into the Master Food Preservers Program, offered through UC Davis Extension, and classes started last week. I am back in school learning and practicing another of my interests – home canning and food preservation – while having the opportunity to make even more new friends. I also get to volunteer at local farms, farmers markets, the OC Fair, and more.
Next week, I’ll start my part time job working through Tax Season (February – April) in a local CPA’s office while HomeBoy is at school. Last year when I did this, I REALLY enjoyed not only the work but the people, so when they invited me to come back again, I didn’t hesitate to say, “When do I start!?!”
This morning I’ll be heading out to attend a workshop entitled “Craft Your Creative Vision For 2018”, and then get my hair done. (YES, it grew back and YES, I am blonde again! :) ). I’m looking forward to hearing what the instructor has to say, and how I can take things to the next level because frankly, they are pretty awesome right now. But, greedy wench that I am, I’ll take MORE of the good stuff any day!
The life I live today, this life of freedom, joy, creativity, renewed faith and new friendship, wasn’t something I could “see” 3 year ago. But it was THERE, waiting for me, just as God promised it would be. All I had to do was take one day at a time, keep the faith, keep moving and remember:
It Ain’t Over Yet
Life is full of magical moments and little synchronicities.
Several happened to me last week and many of them related to my cookbook project. This might have been the coolest.
It’s been a long standing habit of mine to check two pages of any devotional book before buying it. Well, I bought one this week based solely on serendipity.
This first photo is from a chapter I wrote back in the Spring entitled, “The Well Stocked Kitchen”.
Now this one: A page from a little devotional book I picked up last week at the Good Will entitled, “A Grand New Day”. It’s the page from my birthday, March 30th.
I’m still grinning ear to ear.
Happy Serendipity Sunday to you.
The creative process is such a mystery to me.
Many creatives have rituals or props or specific locations they use in order to practice their art. And I believe all of those things can be very beneficial. I may or may not use a few myself.
That being said, there is this spiritual component to creating that’s a little more elusive and a lot more necessary. Call it your Muse, divine inspiration or Being In The Flow, there’s an untouchable, uncontrollable “MYSTERY” that takes the ordinary and turns it into something special when it shows up. And when it’s not there? Well, anyone who’s ever experienced writer’s block knows exactly what I’m talking about.
Being in that mysterious space seems a lot like what being in Heaven would feel like, as I picture it. Time stops, the world disappears and everything vibrates with JOY. And, like Heaven, no one who gets there ever wants to leave!
I’ve been spending a LOT of time in that Heaven in the last couple of weeks. Even on those mornings when, at 2 a.m., I show up a little blurry eyed and unsure if anything worthwhile will make it’s way to the page, it does. On some days, the first few sentences of a new chapter are already running through my mind before the coffee is even finished brewing. Other days, I have to prime the pump a little bit before anything happens. I might journal awhile, read something inspirational, pray a bit, let the dog in and out a bazillion times, drink more coffee. And even then I might have just one word to go on when I sit down at the computer…a general “direction” to head.
But something magical begins happen when I sit down and, by faith, start typing just a few words. Before long, an hour (or two) is gone and another chapter is complete, including whatever extras I’m adding to each chapter.
Being a crafty chick, I’ve made a lot of things over the years, and I’ve written a lot of things for both professional and personal use. I know what it feels like to be inspired, and to love the finished product. But I have NEVER experienced anything like this before. It’s as if I’ve been living my entire life preparing for this very moment, and now the appointed time has come for it all to come together.
The world disappears.
Joy fills my soul.
And I am so very very grateful.
“Take care of yourself, have a good time, and make the most of whatever job you have for as long as God gives you life. And that’s about it! That’s the human lot. Yes, we should make the most of what God gives, both the bounty and the capacity to enjoy it, accepting what’s given and delighting in the work. It’s God’s gift! God deals out joy in the present, the now.” – Ecc. 5:18-20, The Message Translation
Last week I was asked to write a guest post on journal writing by a wonderful woman who is an internationally known author, singer, and creative mentor who uses and teaches journal writing as a healing modality. My post will be published on December 13th, but because it will be under my real name – and I write Anonymously here – I won’t be linking up. However, I can publish it here and now. Because it had to be 600 words or less, I edited quite a bit out. Maybe in the future I’ll expand on my own journal practice in future posts.
Diaries! That place where your secrets were kept, secrets needing to be protected from the watchful eyes of parents and snoopy little brothers. I can still see myself laying on the bed, my bedroom door closed, filling pages with big loopy lettering made in No. 2 pencil. I wrote about other girls, first periods and first bras. I poured out my heart when I wasn’t invited to a party. I chronicled my parents fights, and that night I accidentally discovered them naked in the pool.
I wrote about boys. A LOT!
There was something exciting about each new diary started. They whispered of POSSIBILITIES. NEW BEGINNINGS. FRESH STARTS.
I’m not sure when diaries became ‘journals’. Little hard-bound books were eventually replaced by steno pads and spiral notebooks. It didn’t matter what they were called, though. That FRESH START feeling didn’t change.
In the 70’s, I wrote out all the angst and longing of a teenager that didn’t feel like she fit in and so desperately wanted to. In the 80’s, my journal absorbed the crazy-hot desire of a single 20something trying to make her way in the world, where I often waxed poetic. Words poured out of me, filling empty hours and a deep-rooted need for self-expression. I wrote about other girls, who was dating who and the heartbreak of not being invited to a party. I chronicled the liberation of not living under my parents’ roof.
And I wrote about boys. A LOT!
It was after my first child was born in 1986 that my “Morning Time” was also born. Working full-time, I found it easier to stay awake after his 5 am feeding than to go back to bed for an hour. It didn’t take long before I discovered the treasures to be found in the quiet solitude of Predawn. I would sit at the dining table with my coffee and journal, gazing out the window while body and mind awoke. I watched the changing seasons of my life reflected in the big Maple tree in our backyard, and I wrote and prayed. Intentions were set for the new day, my head and my heart purged, and blessings counted. During the brief periods when I didn’t practice it, I felt the difference – and not in a good way.
30 years later, I can still be found in the wee hours with my journal and coffee although, thanks to menopause, it’s more like 3 a.m. (I wrote through THAT, too!). While the hour and view has changed, my journaling journey hasn’t. It’s still the best friend ready to listen without judgment, the husband who never zones out, the psychiatrist who doesn’t requirement payment or an appointment. And perhaps, most profoundly, it’s the Ear of God that’s always Present.
After nearly 50 years, I’ve journaled my way through marriages, divorces, births, deaths, and more sorrows and joys than I can count. Most recently I wrote my way through a breast cancer diagnosis and 18 months of treatment. Frankly, I don’t know how I would’ve survived without it. Writing is healing. It’s cathartic. It’s revelatory. It’s doesn’t care if I’m happy or scared, strong or weak, or blonde, bald or gray (smiling).
A journal is unconditional in its acceptance of all the Flawesomeness of my life. All I have to do is show up – authentically and faithfully – to reap it’s magic:
The Alchemy of my Soul.