Friday, February 6, 2009

Lost and Found

When my little sister was in elementary school she told me there were two different kinds of trees--deciduous and coniferous. I was fascinated that here she was, twelve years younger than me, and she was telling me something I didn't know. In case you are unfamiliar with these terms, a conifer is an evergreen; it's a type of tree that grows year round and keeps it's needles. A deciduous tree, on the other hand,is a tree that blooms in the Spring, flowers in the summer, loses it's leaves in the fall and goes dormant in the winter. One of the camps I ran had a stand of conifers. The branches were high upon the trunk and pine needles lay all about the ground. It was cool inside this part of the forest. It was a great place to bring kids.

This memory was jogged one night a while back, in the support group I attend at CEW. One of our members presented a writing workshop. The first exercise was easy--write about a memory or experience of a tree. “Lost and Found” was the topic for the second exercise.

We were supposed to write about what we’ve lost and what we’ve found because of our illnesses. This was much more difficult. If the truth were known, I didn’t like having cancer. No doubt, this is something I share with others, but that is of little comfort to me. Usually, when I've gone through a crisis or a life altering experience I come out of it a better person or at least I have a renewed insight and caring about others. I can't say this is true of me with this experience.

It feels like I lost a year of my life. I was so busy being strong; and I was so busy resting so my body would stay strong. Having cancer did give me a purpose for a year--healing, staying strong; but, it was hard. I slept so much and I watched much t.v. and dvd's--too much! And, I worked. Remember that--I worked almost everyday. But, I had help. And support.

What I did find over and over again was the kindness of others; that was overwhelming to me, especially given my trust no one and take no prisoners point of view. At one point I thought my life was coming to an end because there were so many people supporting me in so many ways. Was this my karma at the end of my life?

Allot has happened over the course of this year and a half. After expending so much effort at healing and recovery and being so focused on cancer, and then afterwards, trying to pack everything into everyday that I possibly could, I've crashed.... as I was saying to my good friend the other day, I've been kind of lonely this winter. From August of 2007 until about September of 2008, I was almost always in the company of someone. And now I am walking in the garden of my soul alone. And, I am still a little tired from my illness; I haven't totally recovered yet. Now,I also have sisters and brothers in a secret club. But, you know, it's all good. It really is.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Discretion--the Better Part of Valor?

Because this is a forum for and about breast cancer and recovery, I try to stick with that topic. It is rare that I take any kind of personal or political stand and even rarer that I talk about my personal convictions beyond the superficial. Well, I actually only have a few personal convictions, anyway. One of my main convictions is peaceful co-existence. But, I digress.......

Not long ago, one of my nieces and I were talking and the subject of homosexuality and gayness came up. There is a girl on her sports team that seems to be very "gay" centric. This young woman seems to live, eat and breathe gay culture--to the point, I think, that it becomes uncomfortable for the listener. We all know someone who talks ad nauseam about something they are part of or believe in whether it be religion, politics, cars, race, sexual preference, their holistic lifestyle, etc, etc. We see them coming and we run the other way. But, again, I digress.......

Life is a journey, no matter who you are or what you believe. And, it seems to me, that even if you spend your life avoiding conflict and hiding from strife and struggle, as I do, it will find you. And, yet again, I digress....a bit. What is the point? The point is I am almost always cautious about revealing parts of myself for fear of being harmed by others. Even now I hesitate to come out with who I really am and what I really want to say.

Sometimes it is necessary to be cautious, however. At least that is what I've always thought. But, here I am beating around the bush again, because I learned years ago not to write things down if you didn't want others to hold it against you. And, people throughout history have harmed one another. Life's tough. I just don't want to be hurt.

I admire people who just come right out with who they are. Every movement needs it's heroes and martyrs for the cause. I also admire people who are polite and have good manners. I like living in the United States. Even though there is prejudice and racism and anger, fear and hate, there is also freedom and hope and endless possibility. For the most part I am free to come and go as I am, even if I choose to be cautiously optimistic and discreet. And, of course, there are many good, open and kind people here, as I clearly learned during my cancer treatment.

And, I am cautiously optimistic about Mr. Obama too. As Henry Ford said, if you think you can, you will...................