What is reality?

Thank you for your prayers and good wishes. I had chemo last week, Tuesday through Thursday, with no vomiting during my at-home time. Woo hoo. To top it off, usually Friday is a recovery day, but this time around, I was able to walk and pick up my son from school. I attribute that to your prayers and positive energy around no side effects.

Last week also carried a Joni Mitchell theme, specifically her song Both Sides Now. Friends on Facebook would post pictures of clouds – storm clouds overhead, clouds during a sunset, clouds below their airplane. Each time, the lyrics, “I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now….”  popped into my head. Then a friend posted those specific lyrics. Another posted a picture of himself with Joni Mitchell.

In the meantime, chemo was done and I was feeling better. I reflected upon some point years ago, right after my diagnosis, when I was struggling to process all that was happening. At that time I thought, “What is the difference between the day before I got my diagnosis and the day I got it?” My body felt the same. The primary change was that someone else told me something they thought about my body.

Their words influenced my reality. They shifted how I thought and felt about myself and my life. So, I worked to form my own version of reality, and when I am feeling good, I like to think and act as though I don’t have cancer, and that makes me happy.

But then, sometimes, a different side comes roaring in: A friend sharing her experience on hospice, another experiencing a scary phase, a third who passed away. I felt deeply honored that they let me into their very personal experiences, yet my heart broke each time. I didn’t know how to handle all this, how to be a friend without layering my own concerns for them on top of it all.

You do that all time for me, and my gratitude expanded.

It is winter here, grey and cold. Driving to church on Sunday, the boys started to talk with each other about death and heaven. They discussed whether there is a point before you are really dead where you get to decide whether or not to die, who you might see there, what it would feel like. They seemed to have a pretty comfortable handle on the afterlife, and I was glad they were having this discussion. But it also reminded me that our family needs to have discussions like that, and I felt more and more of the darkness.

Once in church, the topic was about Jesus being a light in the darkness. When in the dark, look for the light. If opening my heart to my friends can have me feel heartbreak, it can also let in the light.

The day felt better now. Looking at it from a different side helped. Which is reality? I don’t know, but I like to think that it all is, regardless of the side we see.

Both Sides Now
Joni Mitchell

Bows and flows of angel hair
And ice cream castles in the air
And feather canyons everywhere
I’ve looked at clouds that way

But now they only block the sun
They rain and snow on everyone
So many things I would have done
But clouds got in my way 

I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now
From up and down, and still somehow
It’s cloud illusions I recall
I really don’t know clouds at all 

Moons and Junes and Ferris wheels
The dizzy dancing way you feel
As every fairy tale comes real
I’ve looked at love that way 

But now it’s just another show
You leave ’em laughing when you go
And if you care, don’t let them know
Don’t give yourself away

I’ve looked at love from both sides now
From give and take, and still somehow
It’s love’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know love at all 

Tears and fears and feeling proud
To say “I love you” right out loud
Dreams and schemes and circus crowds
I’ve looked at life that way 

Oh but now old friends are acting strange
They shake their heads, they say I’ve changed
Well something’s lost but something’s gained
In living every day

I’ve looked at life from both sides now
From win and lose and still somehow
It’s life’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know life at all 

I’ve looked at life from both sides now
From up and down and still somehow
It’s life’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know life at all

Day 1 and we are all pretty tired

My overnight flight to Brasilia held eight people from my group. (There are 22 total in the group.) I was the first through customs so I sat waiting for the rest of the gang. It reminded me of last year, when I waited, looking around and not knowing what was ahead of me. At that time, Shelby soon sat beside me and a whole world unfolded.

This time, I sat and waited but was peering, not into my future, but into my cellphone. After realizing that particular behavior would hinder meeting anyone new, I looked up and saw a family of three waiting as well.

We started talking and got to share the two-hour cab ride to the hotel. They were new so I could pretend I was like Shelby, last year’s more experienced traveler.

Then over lunch, the four of us plus two woman from British Columbia (but originally from Romania) had a long and animated conversation around manifesting what is in your life, seeing auras, the fifth-dimension (which I am just learning about), God, spirits and entities and a gazillion other topics along those lines.

We joined the group to do a quick tour of the town and the Casa, where I kept getting the message to soften. And now I am back in my room.

I’m happy. And exhausted. The sun is already setting here at 6 pm (it is warm but wintertime) so I will get dinner and head to bed. Hopefully I’ll be awake in time to watch the sunrise.

Wherever you are, I hope you are manifesting fun conversations that help you move  to anywhere you want to be in your life. And that the sun is still shining and warm, in the sky and in the faces of those you love.

Lots of love and blessings,
Marie

Ask and you shall receive

Thank you for your belief that I can walk this path to healing. Your belief helps always, and especially when I am not quite sure even what I am doing.

On beautiful days, I feel so lucky to be able to get out and about. This weekend, Julian wanted to bike around Fresh Pond so Kenobi (our dog) and I joined him. I walked while Kenobi scampered here and there and Julian biked ahead of me.

We were part of the usual flow of folks running, biking and walking in both directions of the 2¼ mile loop. Some people were with their friends, their dogs, or both. Many were chatting together.

As I noticed the beauty of the calm water and the dense summer green trees against the blue sky, I thought of God and Jesus and said / prayed, “Things feel like they are headed in a good direction but sure would like to know that you are with me.”

Less than a minute later, with the question still fresh in my mind, I passed a woman walking alone. As I caught up to her, I heard her say, “He is with you. It can feel like you are suffering a long time. But God will be there longer than the suffering. He is with you always.”

I almost stopped in my tracks. It was like my question was answered immediately and literally. It even sounded like she was talking to me.

So, I turned to respond. She seemed to be about my age, with a relatively fit build and wavy grey shoulder-length hair. Her ear buds were in and connected to her cellphone, and she continued her conversation, oblivious to my presence. Obviously, those words were not intentionally directed at me.

Still, this felt like more than simple coincidence.

In my experience living in the Boston area, especially in Cambridge, I cannot remember overhearing someone talking so literally about God and life outside a church context. It just isn’t done in my world, much less in answer to a request that I just made in my heart (not even out loud!). So I filed that under happy amazement and took her words as a message for me, too.

In the meantime, Julian turned around and biked back to me. This is our usual pattern. We stop and chat for a few moments, then he bikes ahead again. The three of us (including Kenobi) repeat this pattern over and over for the duration of our walk.

Because of these stops, the woman passed me, then I passed her, then she passed me, etc. I continued to eavesdrop on her conversation when I could. Though it was interesting, no more comments felt specifically directed to me.

At one point, I wanted the chance to tell her that she was not only probably helping her friend, but helping me as well. However, I didn’t want to interrupt her conversation. Joking around in my head, I asked for an opportunity.

And then, sure enough, I received an opportunity. The very next time I passed her, she hung up from her call. I saw her pushing buttons on her iPhone so I interrupted her before she could dial again.

I told her how her words impacted me. She told me that she always feels like it is rude to talk on a cellphone at Fresh Pond and she gets annoyed when others do it, but her brother was having a hard time and this was the only time she had to talk with him. So perfect!

We talked a bit more, then I thanked her for being a messenger. As I walked ahead, a butterfly appeared next to me, danced beside me for quite a few steps, flew in front of me, and then gracefully went on its way.

I am continuously amazed by the power that surrounds us and that is within us, and how strong and expansive that power can be, and how we are all so connected, heart and soul, in ways that we cannot see. I am thrilled to be reminded of this, and grateful that these kinds of events occur in life. Not only are they fun, but they make it easy for me to believe in God.

Thank you for sharing your self and your love so generously. Thank you for being open and connected and letting God and higher powers work through you to help those you touch, both directly and indirectly.

I hope happy coincidences cross your path and that you see the butterflies dance.

Love,
Marie

The end of the world as you know it

Our two boys, ages 9 and 6, were playing some computer game in my bed this morning. I couldn’t see the game, but this is what I heard:

Boy 9: Go over here. It takes you to the end of the world. It’s awesome.

Boy 6: No way. Then I would die.

Boy 9: Yeah, but then you reappear. And it is awesome.

Accepting the good

CT results good – everything stable. Of course, I had to ask whether there was any exception, but no. The doctor also reminded me that these are tiny.

Big exhale and a thank you for hanging in there with me! PLUS….assuming everything stays stable OR better yet, improves in the next 8 weeks, it will be time for a chemo vaca. Woo hoo! So keep those good vibes coming!

John of God will be in Toronto March 15, 16 and 17. I am told that the experience is different than in Brazil but still quite powerful in its own way.

http://johnofgodlive.gailthackray.com/live/canada/program-info/

A friend of mine has an extra ticket. If you might like to go, let me know and I will share her contact information with you.

Right now, I am sitting in a chair in the infusion room, waiting for chemo.

Before coming to Dana Farber this morning, I was out with my son. We were introduced to a facilities manager and as that man walked away, someone said, “He knows more about this building than anyone else.”

Meaning to be friendly and conversational, my son responded, “Well, not everyone. The architect knows more.”

I cringed, knowing full well that whatever bothers me in someone else is usually something that bothers me in myself. Actually, my first tendency is to blame my husband, but I had to admit my part it in. It just feels a little better to share the blame. Plus, I’m sure we model this conversational style for our children, looking for the exception to any fun fact they discover, and then helpfully pointing out the flaw in their thinking. I also do it with my friends.

Well-meaning, happy person: “Look, the sky is so blue today.”
Me: “Yes, except for that one puffy cloud over there.”

Or

Cheerful dinner companion: “Dinner was really good.”
Me: “Overall, yes, but the vegetables were a little overcooked.”

My comments are rarely informative. Regardless of the words I am saying, the other person probably just hears, “You are wrong. You are wrong. Not only that, I am smarter.”

So I sit here waiting for chemo, grateful for any good you send my way and pausing to practice accepting the good without exception.

Love, Marie