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

True Confessions of a Terrible Blogger

20150613_112004_resizedI’m a terrible blogger.

Long gone are the days when I would write a daily post, and then go around checking on all my blog “friends”, commenting here and there and interacting along the way.

When I first started blogging back in 2004 or so, it was a whole ‘nuther world.  Blogging itself was a relatively new phenom.  This was in the days before “Smart Phones” and tablets, social media and “monetizing”.

Before the “Like” button.

Sure, the platforms themselves were pretty rustic compared to all the bells and whistles available today.  We had a small handful of options for templates and such.  Corporate websites weren’t yet using a blog as a generic marketing tool.  “Click bait” would’ve been mistaken for some sort of fishing apparatus. But oh, those were great blog times.  I sometimes miss them in the middle of the night.

These days, I “think” about writing here far more often than I actually do.  One reason (the main reason) is, I’ve lost the plot. I don’t know what my motivation is….the whole “WHY” of it.

I’m not an “expert” on anything.  I haven’t any earth shattering wisdom to impart, a book to promote,  or a service or product to sell.

I have no interest in trying to be “someone”, or garner an adoring crowd (well, actually, that part sounds pretty good.  haha!)

So why write here?  What is it that keeps me coming back (albeit sporadically), year after year, even after weeks and months of being MIA?

It’s simple, really. I long to connect.  To reach out and touch someone and maybe, if I’m lucky, have them touch back.  To write something and have someone say, “Hey, me, too!” or “I totally get you!”

Being “get” cannot be rated highly enough.

One of the most unexpected developments of having been diagnosed with breast cancer almost 2 years ago was how it would impact my relationships.  I’ve written reams about it in my journal, and mentioned it briefly here (I think….)  And I suppose much of the changes stem from how the news – and the treatment journey itself – impacted me.

Unless you’ve walked a mile in the shoes of someone who’s been told they have the Big C, it’s hard to understand, even if you are close to someone who has or is going through it.  See, you can’t be in their head.  You aren’t there in those dark, solitary, sleepless hours in the middle of the night with your thoughts running amuck.  Hell, even my own family doesn’t know some of the stuff I had to deal with – emotionally and physically – because I didn’t want to burden them any more than they already had to deal with.  I still don’t.

Long story short, and not surprisingly, I’m not the same person I was 2 years ago.  For example, I’ve essentially ditched the New Thought/New Age/Alternative spirituality stuff I had been practicing for a decade or so.  I found that 97% of it was pretty useless when it came to dealing with the diagnosis.  My beliefs were tried by fire.  I am, most assuredly, a Jesus person again.  NOT a fundamentalist.  You can’t “unknow” or “unexperience” certain things.  I love and support my gay friends and the LGBT community at large.  I still swear up a storm and I don’t go to church (although, if I could find one where I “fit in”, I would go in a heartbeat).  I still believe in the Feminine Face of God, and the Mystery of the spiritual realm.

Physically, I’ve changed, too.  I don’t have long dyed hair and acrylic nails any more.  My face is different….a little more battle-scarred and war-weary.  And my wardrobe.  Ugh!  After being away from the corporate environ for this long, and after going from 2 incomes to 1, well, the word “limited” comes to mind.

Hell, some days I don’t even put makeup on except maybe my eyebrows.  They are a MUST HAVE, if I want to avoid looking rather alien.  I didn’t have much before and, after chemo, things didn’t improve.  At least I got my lashes back.  Mostly.

Another big change is how I spend my days.  I am, by and large, living the life of a retiree – even with my part-time bookkeeping job (which, as it turns out, is VERY part-time).  My days are spent doing mundane “housewife” things like cooking and laundry and cleaning.  I actually don’t mind that, interestingly enough.  And I have plenty of time (if not money) to do the crafts and classes that I enjoy.

I never did relate to the “cancer survivor” meme, even though – technically – I am one.  Never joined a support group and don’t have a single piece of pink-ribboned paraphernalia.  Going through breast cancer was more like going through an ugly divorce or a death or some other trauma. I am doing what I can to put “that phase” of my life in the past as much as possible considering it was – well – cancer.

So I didn’t come out of that phase with a tribe of “sisters”, even though I was told I would.  In fact, some friends have drifted off into the sunset.  Why?  I dunno…Changing interests or lifestyles, maybe?  Some of that is to be expected, I suppose.  In July 2015, when my BFF broke up with me  after my 2nd round of chemo (and right after I shaved my head), I had a big wake up call.  Another one, I should say.  It was the understanding that some people can’t handle the tough times…the really tough times.  Times involving a drastic change in availability, or appearance or energy.

Times of facing one’s own mortality.

My friendships have undergone a serious pruning.  In spite of that, the relationships I have with myself, the God of my understanding, my husband and my children are all stronger than ever.  I’ve made a few new acquaintances and friends along the way, although no one (yet) to fill those BFF shoes. But I appreciate these women when we spend time together.  We laugh and have fun as we get to know each other better.

But in my heart I believe there is one special woman out there.  One who is also looking for me, wanting the same sort of “sisterfriend” relationship I want.  Someone like-minded and enjoys the same things.  A woman who  makes the best of things and lives life  – every day – to the fullest.  She’ll be down to earth with a good head on her shoulders and a smartass remark on her lips. And we’ll laugh our asses off, A LOT, even when we’re crying.  It’s just a matter of time before we are connected.

CONNECTED.

Connection.  That feeling you get when you know someone is there for you, and you for them, during good times or bad, happy times or sad.  When the people involved experience the strength and comfort that comes from doing life together vs. going it alone.

I want more of that in my life. In real-time.  Because as wonderful as online friendships are, they aren’t the same as those where you actually DO stuff together, physically, in the same space.  Words written on a page (or in a text) are not the same as those spoken face to face, eye to eye.

Maybe even heart to heart, when someone needs a hug……

CONNECTION.

I may be a terrible blogger, but I give great hugs.

It’s just a matter of time.

Inspiration, Life, Love, Spirituality, Women, Writing

A Pocket Full Of Feathers

They’ve been popping up everywhere.  Slightly curled and snow-white, some small and downy, others larger and a bit more robust.  I find them laying in our yards, and scattered all along the walking trail, like angelic bread crumbs.

White Heron feathers.

It’s my habit to put things in my pocket when I walk, and the feathers are no different.  A small handful in a dish sits in my living room where I can see it regularly.  These feathers are a reminder.  An affirmation.

Having walked this neighborhood for three years, finding an abundance of these particular feathers everywhere is unusual although seeing the birds themselves isn’t.  There are several waterways nearby and herons fly over head regularly.  I caught this big guy – a Blue Heron – hanging out with a couple of buddies a few months back.

Herons are rich in symbolism and no one does Animal Speak better than Avia over at What’s Your Sign.  If you have a moment, hitch a ride over to her place on this LINK and check out the full spectrum of Heron Symbolism.  You’ll understand why finding so many of these feathers is nothing less than supercalifragilistic during this season in my life.

Today I wrap up my first week at Habitat For Humanity, and – in a word –  it’s been AWESOME.  The work itself is rewarding and fun.  But more than that, it’s the people I’m working with that is so exciting.  I’m still getting to know everyone but I can already tell these are some great folks.  Most of them are volunteers, under 30, and really love what they are doing.  After a decade working in a toxic waste dump, this is like heaven!

I also attended the first of The Write Page writer’s group meetings.  Held 20160511_200607_resizedat the Katie Wheeler Library, an old Victorian built by an Irish immigrant who turned out to be the grand daddy of our county, it’s a combination of so many things I just love! About 30 of us ranging from 18 to 80….newbie college kids to old-time journalists and representing at least a half-dozen nationalities…all share the common bond of loving the written word.  I’m already learning so much and can’t wait for the next meeting!

My tribe – my NEW tribe – is coming together.  My new life is coming together, too.  The feeling is indescrible after such a long, solitary and difficult season.  Sure, there are still bits to add to the picture – a great paying part-time job, for one – but I know it’s coming.  I know.  Grace is surrounding me.

My peeps and a pocket full of feathers.  What a great day to be alive.  Think I’ll go for a walk before work.

Who knows what I might find.

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

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