a year later

From Steve:
This past Saturday marked 1 year since I first rushed Elizabeth to the hospital at 4am and we all had the most intense 18 hours of our lives – I remember parts of that day, and how our family dropped what they were doing to come be with us as soon as you can. We are so lucky to have such family in our lives.

I’ve attached a picture from Saturday. I’m amazed (and really, not surprised) at how beautiful and vibrant Elizabeth is, after all she has gone through in the past year. Her dedication to her health and well being, along with the courageous way she took on this biggest of challenges life can throw at us, is at once amazing, inspiring, and really, indescribable by words.

We spent Saturday sleeping in, spending some time on our land, looking at the progress of our new home, taking a hike at a favorite spot with the dogs, and attending the joyous wedding of a close friend of mine. We are so thankful to be experiencing life in this way, and enjoying the abundance we are so blessed with.

Our love and gratitude to each of you for supporting us with your energy, meals, words of care, thoughts of hope and health and so much more.

love

Steve (+ Elizabeth)

We came across this poem again, which Elizabeth wrote last August and still holds so true:

You can’t go to the depths of the hole, where the waters are dark and cold. In that cave there are sharks lurking where you cannot see and your movement will startle them with fear. You can’t go there, where you’ll gasp for air and not reach it. Your snorkel is full with water; your scuba tank has run dry.

You can’t go to the deep depths of the woods, where the trail appears to go in every direction. For when you follow it, it is gone. You are lost, walking deeper into the thorny thicket.

Instead you must only go to where the Great Blue Heron steps stealthily at the ponds edge; where the fiery glimpse of the Oriole catches your eye and and the breeze enlivens the hairs on your skin.

You can only go to the place where the golden sun shimmers across the landscape; where the sunflowers bob in the breeze and the stars expose the vastness of your being.

For it is only here; where life exists. Where you breathe deep and free. And rest in the wake of the world.

 

trust that wild nature knows

trust that wild nature knows

Steve and I temporarily moved out of our yurt home and away from our land yesterday so that winter may bring healing warmth and technological comforts (thermostats, insulation, and grid power).

This transition was greeted by a harvest super moon lunar eclipse, shooting stars and a sunrise double rainbow.

May the gifts of nature’s wild continue to bless and lead us during this challenging 6 months.

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synergy

synergy

The gray fog is approaching again as the countdown to chemo number 4 beings – T-minus a day and a half.  I realize I dread chemo weeks. The smell of the “chemo suite” is already engrained in my nasal passages and thinking about it bring on momentary nausea.  Within all this grayness though, I am grateful for my days without pain. It’s been 8 days in a row since the ER and 8 days since I’ve felt such terrible pain. These days are bright and I realize are a gift.  I cherish these days as they enable me to go out into my world, to feel like an active participant in my life again. I cherish seeing familiar faces and connecting with friends, students, teachers, strangers.

Thank you for your continued support, love, smiles, and strength.

~~~~

You can’t hug alone.  If you’ve ever hugged somebody who wasn’t receptive to it, you know how awkward and icky it feels. For a hug to work, there must be synergy of giving and receiving the embrace.

If you’ve ever experienced something overwhelmingly joyful – like getting married,  or overwhelmingly sad such as illness, injury, loss – grief, I pray that you were offered hugs, love, support, smiles and strength from those around you.

Yet offerings only do so much.

On the surface perhaps these offerings sound wonderful – helpful and healing.  And they are. But just because they are offered does not mean they will be of service to you. You must accept them. You have dig deep inside yourself to that spot behind and just below the heart center, that spot on the edge of nausea and vulnerability, that spot that enables you to receive and accept.  You have to come to look, feel and see within yourself – to embrace the truth that you are need of these gifts.

Being in need does not mean you are weak. It does not mean you are selfish. It does not mean you are not good enough or capable enough. It does not mean you have failed. Allowing yourself to be in need and to open your arms to not only be embraced, but to actually be held and healed by the hug- this takes an immense and immeasurable strength. It is this vulnerability that requires a certain humility that enabled you to see and to be seen in the world.

From the outside in.

It is in this moment, when the hug melts your entire being. It is in this moment where nothing in yourself is tense, where you let go and realize that by wrapping your arms around the other, their arms wrap around you. It is in this moment that the hug serves you both. The heat from your bodies is shared. Your breath becomes one. You become one.

Neither of you are alone.

This is a beautiful moment.

waiting

Saturday morning pain levels brought Steve​ and me to the ER, which proved to be unhelpful and inconclusive and they always prick me in the arm! Worried caregivers (including a father who is a doctor) insist we should be able to get some clarity as my symptoms are not “typical of chemo” the doctors say. So amidst fatigue and dizziness, Vida and I were driven to my folks house in CT by my loving cousin Dan, and now am awaiting appointments with doctors in the area to hopefully find some light in this fog.

So sad to miss teaching and practicing at birthday week at the studio. Yet as we wait for the holiday weekend to end, gratefully Sunday brought energy and no pain. We kayaked, walked and ate by the water. I pray that pain free movement and aliveness are gifted to me again; as hot summer days, sand in the toes and water lapping on shins are sensuous to the soul.

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the eve of 3

I sit with Vida. The night is quiet, only the crickets make themselves known. Occasionally one of our ducks chirps softly. I imagine her wiggling her little butt into her straw nest, deep enough to feel alone in the midst of her 37 house-mates. The landscape is dark other than the light of Disco Gnome who resides humbly in the garden on slug and rabbit patrol.

I sit cross legged, encompassed by our round home. A candle flame dances.

The hospital bed was picked up today and the house is back to being our home. Spaces organized and comfortable.  Sadie is on the deck. Vida next to me. Steve enjoying music with friends.

I am present here. I feel whole. The week has been good. Teaching yoga again feels fresh, authentic and inspiring.  And my body managed to maneuver through these last two days without pain. For this I am grateful.

Yet, when I lift my head and open my owl eyes, I am reminded: The inside of my elbows are both sealed with bandages from the two IV punctures needed prior to todays CT Scan. To my left, a small bowl of 8 pills – supplements and laxatives to keep me strong and attempt regularity – stare intensely at me. My journal to my right. I just completed my daily entry: foods eaten, energy level – 10, poop – none, pain level – 2, drugs taken – the norm, other – CT Scan.  For a moment I recall what my journal was about in middle school and I blush a little. And for that moment I yearn for the problems of a 12 year-old.

I finish my pills and pack my chemo bags. Tomorrow is round 3. 3 of 12. Somehow I have come to know how to pack for a journey with a destination that’s completely unknown. Round 2 kicked our asses. I was sick. I was dizzy. I vomited at a restaurant. I slept for days. I got a rash. I couldn’t taste. It sucked to eat because food tasted like slime. My back hurt, a lot. But I didn’t lose my hair. And I was never alone.

Will this time be any better? Could it be worse? There is no way to know. The unknown is the journey.

I go to bed in the midst of this quiet, dark night. I know that in the morning I will step through our beautifully, handmade screen doors, into the light of a day filled with an unknown darkness. There will be no crickets there, no Vida, no light from the gnome. But I know I will not be alone. My feet will take me and my heart will follow.      I entrust this is how the dance goes.

My heart is burning with loveFullSizeRender (1)
All can see this flame
My heart is pulsing with passion
like waves on an ocean
my friends have become strangers
and I’m surrounded by enemies
But I’m free as the wind
no longer hurt by those who reproach me

I’m at home wherever I am
And in the room of lovers
I can see with closed eyes
the beauty that dances
Behind the veils
intoxicated with love
I too dance the rhythm
of this moving world

~ Rumi

just eat!

So if there’s something fun about colon cancer, besides the almost endless poop jokes and references (eg. Let’s kick this cancer in the ass!) it’s being told to eat–a lot. “Ideally eat healthy things, very high in protein and iron” “eat ginger and turmeric” they all say, “but most importantly, JUST EAT”.

My appetite these days is next to nothing. And mostly I’m eating low oils, fresh or juiced local foods.

But last night when I wanted a juicy local burger and was offered “bacon or avocado?” my usual instant “no thanks” answer was a big “yes please!” 😈  Start it off with a good all-natural hand sanitizer, add a local salad to that with ginger dressing and I covered ALL the cancer bases!

Plus made all my closest caregivers proud!

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Predictability

The only thing predictable about the last 5 days is that the nurses come every 90-minutes and that endless amounts love flow towards us from people near and far and in more forms that we knew possible; forms of flowers, hugs, words, notes, smiles, tears, licks (these from the dogs), juice, money, loud laughter, more juice, reclining chairs, pillow cases, pudding, blankets, traveling, dog walking, making phone calls, coffee, firewood chopping, weeding, animal care, hand holding, foot rubs, yogurt, joke telling, list making, all forms of “clear liquids”, translating doctor speak, painting toe nails, balloons.

And that is more than enough.
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