All the world’s a stage

On Sunday, we attended Cirque du Soleil’s show, Amaluna. I loved the fabulous performance, and now that I am more aware of gymnastics, I noticed how they incorporated countless extreme gymnastics moves that take much skill and practice.

For example, in one part of the show, a performer (a man) stood on his hands. Okay, while I can’t do that myself, my seven-year-old can, so I wasn’t wowed. But THEN another performer (a woman) STOOD ON THE BOTTOMS OF HIS FEET. Can you picture that? His arms were holding up and balancing not just his body but also hers.

As if that weren’t enough, they then separated their legs to make an opening through which another cast member could and did flip. The whole crew made it look easy.

Later in the show, a group of men performed on a teeterboard. Picture something like a seesaw, with Grown Man 1 standing on one side. Grown Man 2 jumps onto the other side, sending Grown Man 1 flying and flipping into the air. Grown Man 1 lands back on the teeterboard, sending Grown Man 2 airborn to do the same thing. Soon, Grown Man 3 joins in the fun and their alternately flying bodies resemble a human juggling act.

Cirque du Soleil

photo from the program

Eventually, eight (or so) men were jumping on the teeterboard or into the air. I noticed that when they weren’t flying through the air, they were subtly spotting their fellow cast members who were. One time, one man landed with one foot on the teeterboard and one off, and the man near him put his hands on the first man’s hips as if part of the act, but this action steadied him enough to move his other foot onto the teeterboard without wobbling.

When the men finished their act, they bounded to the edge of the rounded stage to take a bow and take in all the applause. While they stood there beaming, I looked at the performer on the stage in front of us, who happened to be the spotter who helped out. While we applauded, he quickly made the sign of the cross, kissed his fingertips, then raised his fingers and his gaze up to God in a motion of gratitude.

That stuck with me. He was doing what he clearly loved, recognized the risk, and showed his gratitude for a beautiful outcome.

Life can feel a bit like Cirque du Soleil – beautiful, sometimes crazy, sometimes risky. We move individually and together, with so much going on all around.

Maybe we don’t have acrobats flying through our legs, but we certainly hold our own weight and carry others when we can. We spot and support each other to keep our balance and get back on our mark, and together we create an amazing, breathtaking performance. I am grateful to be part of it all, and I give thanks to God for that.

I give thanks also to you for spotting me, supporting me, helping to keep me balanced and get back on my mark, and helping us all to look so good together.

Enjoy your performance today, and that of those around you!

Love,
Marie

Give thanks in all circumstances

Thank you for your prayers and good thoughts, for making me laugh and expanding my world.

Spring arrived in New England! The blooming flowers and trees fill me with hope for all kinds of wonderful new life and beginnings and made me optimistic about my CT scan.

Today I met with my oncologist to get the results of my CT scan. I have been doing chemo since last August. Plus over the past week, I’ve had problems with my hands and feet that I believe are side effects. My body could use a break.

Normally, I would try to brace myself for bad news. But lately, I have been aiming to embrace ALL of life: the stuff that feels good and is fun, and the stuff that might not feel so wonderful. I want to embrace it, move through it, give thanks for it all.

cropped-img_3475.jpg

As with many of my bright ideas, I try them out first on my kids.

Before bed, I generally annoy the kids by asking them to tell me one good thing about their day. I rephrase it as “something that makes you feel good inside when you remember it” and “something that makes you smile” to try to encourage their participation in this activity. They don’t like to share much information with me, and they definitely don’t reflect out loud, but they eventually give in and begrudgingly answer.

Then I move onto asking them about one thing that wasn’t quite so good, or something that could have gone better. Most people don’t like to remember the bad, especially before bed, so this part often feels a little funny, but I also think it is important to face these times and then move on.

You can see why they prefer that their father puts them to bed.

The other night, I lay next to one of the boys and asked him to tell me something good about his day.

“Gymnastics,” was his eventual answer.

“How about something that wasn’t so fun?”

He paused, long enough that I decided to offer a suggestion rather than tease it out of him. “Maybe your coach yelling at you?” He looked at me and I was afraid that tears would follow.

In my new inspiration of embracing it all and giving thanks continually, I decided that I had to help him give thanks for the “not so fun.” So I asked, “Can you find something good in his yelling?”

He thought for a moment, then smiled and said, “His coaching makes me a better gymnast.”

I was really impressed with his ability to see good in something that he didn’t want, that hurt his feelings and made him angry. I can’t get over my own self that fast.

But today at Dana Farber, it was my turn to try, and I vowed that, regardless of the CT results, I would give thanks to God, even as I prayed for smaller (or totally absent) tumors.

I’m so happy to report that all in my abdomen and pelvis is essentially stable. They did see something that looks like a tiny dot in a few places in my lungs but we (including my incredibly smart and very conservative husband) are all comfortable with “watch and wait” on that.

Weirdly, I wasn’t worried. I remained totally in the framework of “giving thanks for all things” and didn’t feel like I had to brace myself. Woo hoo!

Of course, it is still easier to give thanks for that which feels good. And I give thanks always for you. Thank you for helping me to feel better through this whole process. And thank God for this amazing life.

I’m officially on chemo holiday and my next scan is at the end of June!

Sending you love and peace and light and joy,
Marie

 

Great Expectations

Usually I feel energized after acupuncture, so I look forward to the appointment, and then revel in the feeling afterwards. But this morning after my appointment, I was disappointed to drive away feeling tired instead of energized.

Of course, there was reason to be tired. Our busy weekend included lots of driving and attending the MA state gymnastics meet to watch our seven-year-old son compete.

I never competed state-wide for anything, so I was already amazed to be there, even as an observer. I hoped to see his display good behavior, a solid performance and a fun time with his friends.

We watched him closely in each event, and his performance and scores were solid. There were a lot of good competitors, but he could be proud of his performance. He was also a good teammate and having fun. How he placed felt secondary to us, and we all enjoyed the meet itself.

In the end, he placed 6th in rings, 6th all around, and first in the high bar. First in high bar in the state. Wow.

He was rightfully proud, and we were thrilled for him. We took lots of photos and made a fuss over his medals. Having no expectations to win made it feel like icing on the cake, and we all thoroughly enjoyed it.

Maybe I needed to get rid of my expectations around acupuncture (and lots of other things outside my control) and then I could enjoy whatever I won from it. And then simply move onto the next thing.

After the meet, during the long drive home, he called from the backseat.

“Mom, look at this!”

I assumed it would be something related to his medals. I looked back at him still wearing his uniform and the medals around his neck. He pointed to his mouth as he blew a big bubble with his gum and smiled. The gymnastics meet? So 15 minutes ago. He was having fun meeting the next challenge in front of him. I am thrilled that he is still only seven, after all.

 

Indirect learning, and sharing

At last Sunday’s gymnastics meet, J-man did not do as well as he hoped. This happens. He enjoyed the actual meet, but after they presented the awards, our conversation went something like this:

J-man: “Fourteenth. FOURTEENTH?”

Me: “There were lots of good kids.”

“But my scores were really good. Fourteenth?”

“Would you have been happier with second?”

“YES!”

“But the kid who got second wasn’t happy with second.”

“That’s the way it goes. But I would have been happy with second.”

“Were you happy with your scores?”

“Yes. But FOURTEENTH?”

He mulled that over, then we returned to the lobby, where he spent a lot of time walking on his hands while I was busy making sure we had all the various pieces we came with. Each time I glanced at him, he seemed to be walking on his hands. It felt like more than usual, but I was distracted, checking out the vendors in case there was anything I absolutely had to have.

He asked if he could walk on his hands to the car.

“No.”

“If I put shoes on them?”

“No.”

Once in the car, he examined his trophy with disdain.

“I might as well not have a trophy. Fourteenth!”

He complained off and on for the 1.5 hour drive home. When we arrived home, he was playing with the trophy on the kitchen counter when it fell and broke. Tears ensued, the conflict between his heartbreak of it not being exactly what he wanted, while still being the treasured result of his hard work.

Later that night, we remembered that tomorrow was his turn for “News Flash” at school. (News Flash is kind of like Show and Tell, without the Show part.)

“What do you think you want to do for News Flash?”

“I don’t know. I can’t say that I came in fourteenth. No one will understand how hard it was to even get that.”

We batted around some ideas while he walked on his hands, then we let it rest.

A little while later, he piped up, “I was watching some of those other kids today. They were really good. And I saw that I needed a little more bend in my back to walk on my hands for longer. And I tried it, and it worked.” He was beaming from inside.

Ah – that was why he was incessantly walking on his hands. It was a newfound skill. AND, it was something hugely positive he got out of being part of the competition that had nothing to do with the actual events.

I was proud of him, AND I can relate. I feel like this cancer thing is hard and even if I do my personal best, I sometimes fall short in comparison to where I feel I should be. The progress I work hard to achieve often doesn’t look like much in the regular world. But, as I am immersed in the world of cancer, if I pay attention, I gain hugely positive insights and experiences that I may not have noticed if I were not immersed in this world, and they help me along the way.

As for J-man’s News Flash, he didn’t go with the hand-walking story. Instead, he told his class, “I was in a gymnastics meet. I got a trophy.” It was much easier to explain.

Going for the ring

We recently took the boys to a gymnastics open house, filled with excited kids trying out all the equipment. In one area, the kids waited in line to stand on a platform. Next to the platform, two rings hung from the ceiling, side by side, and below all that was a pit full of foam blocks.

If a child stretched out their arm, they could usually reach the ring closest to the platform. But to reach the second ring, hanging on the far side of the first ring, they had to hold onto the first ring and almost leap from the platform.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, maybe this video will condense my post:

As I watched child after child take their turn, it was clear that this was do-able. However, some stood on the platform, looked at at the ring nearest them, then the pit below them, and the ring again. Many decided not to reach for the rings but to jump directly into the foam pit.

Most would stand on the platform and reach their hand to that first ring. There, with their feet on the platform and one hand on the ring, they would consider the second ring. Often, they would pause for a long time in this position. Some would try to reach the second ring, still keeping their feet firmly on the platform, and others would decide not to go for it.

As I watched, I wanted to scream excitedly, “Leap off the platform! Then you can reach the ring!” But of course, I remained silent as eventually, many put both hands on that one ring, lifted their feet off the platform to hang from that ring, and then dropped into the foam pit below.

Most exciting was watching others reach for the first ring and hold onto it while they LEAPT off the platform, flying toward the second ring. After leaving their solid ground, suddenly, the other ring was within their grasp, and, ironically, with both rings in hand, they could even choose to return to the platform.

Watching the whole process felt much easier, I’m sure, than it felt to the kids standing on the platform. I wish I could say that I lived life in that leaping group. I am more the “grab onto the rings without leaving solid ground” person, and then have to leave the solid ground anyway! At least, I could totally relate to that group.

But, just like I silently cheered them on, thinking, “You can do it!” I feel like you are doing that for me, encouraging me not just to reach for that elusive ring, but to leap toward it, and then, after solidly grabbing it, do whatever fun thing comes afterwards. It is huge. Thank you.

Love,
Marie