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

Shifting Gears

Rams Head on UrnIt’s a New Moon in Aries today.  A Super New Moon at that.  The Elephant Journal has a great article out today on this new moon, “Trust in the Magic of New Beginnings.” 

In it, the author says, “Sometimes the best thing we can do is close our eyes, hope for the best and jump.

What a statement!

My natal moon is in Aries, as well as 4 other planets.  So I tend to take anything in Aries pretty seriously, especially when it seems that my life is reflecting something – mirroring – the archetypal energies in the sky. And I always take the moon seriously.  Which is why, for the last few days, I’ve been working on my Vision Board.  It’s been about 4 years since I made the last one, and it was time.

The inspiration was carried to me on some new energy flowing through my home over the last few days. It’s got a clean, life affirming vibe. Putting my Vision Board together just sort of ‘happened’, and it was fun and relaxing – not a task on my To Do list.  And even though there are some challenges going on, I find myself walking around with a huge grin my face at the oddest moments, like while vacuuming, or cooking.

I experienced huge shift earlier this week while out for a walk,  Feeling kind of heavy-hearted,  I asked Whoever Was Listening, “How to I shift out of this?” The answer came fast and super simple:  Gratitude.  Ah, of course!  I know all about the Magic of Gratitude so I started expressing thanks for the good things I could see – the beautiful day, the ability to walk, the Turkey Vultures.

And – just like that – SHIFT.

It’s all about perspective, isn’t it?  Back in August, after my 2nd or 3rd round of chemo, I began sewing again.  It was something enjoyable I could do throughout the day as my energy allowed.  And since I tend to pick simple things to work on (I sew a mean straight line), I decided to work on some market bags

My intention was to “try one” to see if I liked making it.   Before I knew it, I had made, sold and given away a bunch, and My Hope Totes was born.  If you’d like to see a portfolio (all the bags shown are sold), you can find them HERE.

I thought the name was catchy…a play on one of my favorite movies.  And HOPE, well, it’s been my Anchor Word for the past year –  right up there with TRUST.

When I am feeling HOPE and TRUST, my heart opens, like a lotus towards the sun.  I can feel when it’s happening, that unfurling.  It’s such a beautiful sensation, I’ve taken to cultivating it with much more intention these days.

Whether it’s the Spring, or my recent birthday, or the way Moon is aligned, my Heart Lotus is opening.  I sense it in odd moments while I’m putzing around my house.  My smile usually gives it away.  Embodying the message of HOPE is really what I feel I’m here for.  Like, HOPE is my purpose.  I know what it’s like to feel hopeless, and I know what it is like to have someone there – be it human, animal or event – at just the right time with just the right word to lift your spirits.

I experience that daily, and I want to be that for others.  I’m surrendered into the Service of Hope.  And, the more I give away, the more I feel it myself. Like Magic.

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.

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

I Chose Me

il_570xN.557874558_aln1When I walked into The Boss’ office yesterday morning to pick up my pay, I could see he was down. I had called him Tuesday morning, after much angst, deliberation and a quick phone call to the Husband, and told him I wouldn’t be back.

So much for The New Job.

Turns out, after everything I’ve been through – after all of those months of seeking Divine Guidance and Strength –  I really just couldn’t wrap my head around the idea that this New Job was where I was supposed to be.  The Old Woman had convinced me – by her very presence, if not by her words – that there was something more….something better….waiting for me.

Had I forgotten everything I went through last year?  Everything I learned? One of the main issues in my life – the one that manifested itself as a breast cancer last year – was my life long tendency to sacrifice myself to make others more comfortable, to make others feel good.  To make things easier for them.

I’ll never forget one morning shortly after the diagnosis.  I was sitting in bed reading “Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom” by Dr. Christiane Northrup when I read that as far back as the 1800s, the medical literature has noted associations between breast cancer and women with an “overdeveloped nurturance gland”.  (check!)  They have a tendency toward self sacrifice (check!), and are more apt to have a coping strategy characterized by engaging with the problem, confronting it, focusing on it, working on a plan, and lobbying for emotional support in the process. (check! check! CHECK!)

In other words…ME!

It was a huge ass Aha! Moment, and I broke down wept.  Like the woman in the book, I realized that I didn’t have to “get sick or to die in order to rest”.  Right then and there, I promised myself that I wouldn’t do that again.  I would live in balance.  I would take care of me…REALLY care for me.  And I would stop trying to Save The World.

And yet, here I was!  Faced with a job that was FAR from something  soul satisfying and fulfilling, it did meet my financial needs but that was it.  Sure, I could go in and  Save The Day.  I could see that I could have a huge impact for the better, and alleviate a lot of The Boss’ problems (if the Old Woman “let” me.)  But at what cost to me?

So HAD I really gotten it? Or this was a test to see if I had actually made the internal shift needed to so I could go to the next level of my destiny?

Isn’t that what I had been promised over and over again this past year?

I just couldn’t do it.  My head, my heart and my gut wouldn’t let me. So I picked up the phone and called my husband, telling him what was on my heart.  If it were just about money – I would go.  But not for long and not because I wanted to.  That seemed unfair to The Boss, as well, paying me to be a short timer.

He totally got it.  So I hung up, made one more call and chose ME.

When I went to see The Boss yesterday to pick up my pay, The Old Woman wasn’t there and we had a chance to talk.  It sounds like my decision was a disappointment to her as well, and maybe – just maybe – she’s feeling guilty about things.  The Boss admitted he didn’t tell his mom all the reasons why I wasn’t coming back, so I encouraged him to do so – in a nice way, at the right time.  She needs to know that her actions and her words were not only why I didn’t want to come back, but  were jeopardizing her son’s business as well.

Speaking our truth, in a loving manner, may hurt someone’s feelings but we can’t let that stop us.  Not when we know deep in our heart that a change for the good must be made.  I feel for him.  She’s his Mom.  But she is also an employee – one that really isn’t doing her job the way it needs to be done, and it’s taking him down. She’s 80.  It should be okay for him to ‘retire’ her.

We agreed that we would keep the communication lines open,  and who knows? There might be something there for me down the road AFTER The Old Woman has her moment of enlightenment. And maybe – just maybe – The Boss will chose himself and the welfare of his business over protecting his mother’s feelings.

I’ve felt good – GREAT – ever since.  I feel energized again.  Full of hope and anticipation.  I let go of What Was – and an entire old way of being in the world –  so that Something New has space in my life.  And it’s possible that by deciding not to sacrifice myself and my dreams, by putting my well-being at the front of the line, I actually did fulfill my purpose there.

I chose me.

Now, maybe the nice Boss Man will to do the same.

Daily Inspiration, Peace, Purpose, Relationships, Revelations, Self Esteem, Spirituality, Spring, Work

Losing Control

hangmanI noticed several things immediately yesterday, on my First Day On The Job:

One – The Old Woman was compelled  to tell me all about of her accomplishments, all about of her credentials, right out of the box. (and they were impressive!)

I wondered if she forgot the only reason I spoke of my accomplishments and credentials when last we met was because I was on a “job interview.”

It seemed that she was telling me all this stuff about her wonderfulness because she wanted to raise my opinion of her.  She needed to tell me that she was Somebody.  She had Import.  She was Special.   This was all tied into how important the job was to her – to keep her active and “with it”.

At this point, I literally told her:  “I didn’t come here to take your job.”

Two, The Old Woman also went out of her way to emphasize various reasons as to why I wouldn’t like the job.  “It won’t be exciting enough for you.” “There’s nothing creative about this job.” “I told The Boss (her son) that you would be bored here.” (That one was said multiple times.)

*ahem*  OK.  Thanks for that.

And Three, as she was showing me the ropes, it was obvious that she is a Control Freak.  A nice one, to be sure, but a CF just the same.  I lost count of how many times she said, “I do it this way…..” – even down to how to separate the pages of triplicate style form:  “The Whites HERE, the Pinks HERE, and the Yellows THERE.”

Are you fucking KIDDING ME right now?

After a while, I just stopped doing things the way that I would naturally, and followed her instruction EXACTLY.  NOT because I thought it was the best way….but because I was so tired of hearing about HER way.

Maybe she realized what she was saying because a number of times, she back pedalled: “But when you do this, you can do it your way.”  Really?  You’re giving me permission to separate a form “MY” way?

Wow.  Thanks for that.

I also  noticed the office spaces – and there are a bunch of them – need to be cleaned up…organized…updated.  The Old Woman has been using the same plastic baggy to hold stamps in for 15 years.  It’s torn and old.  The desk drawers are full of crap. There are funky Christmas decorations lined against the wall among some other unidentifiable paraphernalia, and it looks like someone dropped them “temporarily” only to have them stay there for years.  Decades old papers and catalogs sit on the shelves, and so much wasted space! All of this spoke to me of something hugely important:

CHANGE doesn’t happen here.

It wasn’t a horrible day.  5 hours went relatively quickly even though – by and large – it wasn’t very productive.  The Old Woman moves and speaks slowly, and goes off on little tangents.  Me?  I am a DOER, and like to GSD (get shit done).

So why would I go back after all of that?

This the question I ask myself this morning…..

Should I just do it for a few weeks for the extra cash?  It was an easy $150, that’s for sure.

Do I want to stay for the practice of getting back into the working world?

Do I stay long enough for my hair to grow back a bit more, so I feel more “Presentation Worthy” in this world where employers will make up their mind about you in the first 30 seconds of a job interview?

Do I stick around to “See What Happens?”  I know that The Boss needs me, and I can already tell he would like me to do things The Old Woman and The Collage Girl (his daughter) either cannot or will not do.  I could really assist him.

And I would love (as in L-O-V-E) to get in there and organize things.  Disorder and junk make me uptight.  I am a  Put Things Right kinda girl.  An “everything in it’s place” sister. I mean, how about we recycle the big old copy machine that doesn’t work and is being used as a table for potted plants?

No question, I could give the whole office space the total Feng Shui-ing it desperately needs.

But would The Old Woman “allow” it?

Would The Boss override her objections so that I could?

…….

I’m going in for another 5 hours today.  It will give me a better sense of What’s What.  This is definitely a case of Progressive Revelation, on all counts. The True for me today is, I have the time to be there right now. I am making some money. And there’s really nothing else I really need to do today, no other job offers coming through (yet), and I am kind curious because I don’t believe in accidents or coincidences.

Who knows? Maybe….just maybe…..

I Am The Change they’ve been needing to see in their world….