These Boots Are Made For Dancing

The following quotes are from an article published this week by Martha Beck: you can read it all here: The Willingness Factor by Martha Beck

Martha Beck is currently one of my favorite writers about life journeys. I’m still struggling with reading large chunks of text and content, like books and tomes and paragraphs and words and stuff so I’m wading very slowly through “Finding Your Way In A Wild New World.” Her blog posts are juuuuust right. That, Facebook, and smart thrillers by John Sandford.

“People who’ve been through hell are often forced to learn this, which is why activist, cancer patient, and poet Audre Lorde wrote, “When I dare to be powerful—to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.”

I’ve been through hell and cancer (this autocorrected as Dancer and I’m taking that as a message from the universe) was, believe it or not, NOT my first trip. I haven’t had much time to be afraid, only in the dead of night.

My first visit to hell was a summer of utter drug debauchery that nearly killed me and did kill, for 2 minutes, one of my suppliers. I didn’t understand at the time that I was actually IN hell until his overdose and suddenly the clock and time zoomed forward into a pinpoint of a nightmare worthy of Hunter S. Thompson. I fled. I was 19.

The second visit to hell began when I married, for better or worse, that same almost dead supplier. I was so young. I didn’t realize that he was still dying. His body didn’t die until 2000 but his spirit gave up the ghost long before. I forgive him for the hell because I understand now where he was and that, unlike me, he pitched his tent and sat down and lit a fire and started cooking rocks to eat. My motto is: NEVER pitch your tent in hell. Just keeeeep on walking, sometimes crawling on hands and knees grabbing dirt and rocks and dust to pull yourself forward. But forward is forward, no footprints on MY back. I gave up a son in hell because I wanted him to be here, on Earth, happy, healthy, and alive. And someone else had the ability to do that as I did not. But eventually I had to leave my husband with his tent and hoard of boxes full of self loathing and keeeep on walking.

Some might think that the end of my drinking (FINALLY) was because I’d been through hell. If I had been THROUGH, however, I’d still be drinking. Unfortunately, for a couple years I did pitch my tent (autocorrected repent! Wow) there. What surprises me the most is that the people who were in my life at the time were on the other side waiting for me when I finally put my boots back on and started walking out. Again.

This past year of cancer has been Hell. Hell because it was CANCER, hello. Double radical mastectomy chemo radiation Hell. I’m STILL trying to grasp the magnitude of it all, it’s so vast and blackholey. Not only is it big but my brain got a bit scrambled in the toxic chemical lunch process.

It was Hell because I couldn’t visit my Dad and cry on his shoulder like I used to do. His mind is going and the risk of infection from his adult home was too great for me with no immune system so I went through that whole year without my Daddy. I still can’t write or talk about that without sobbing.

It was Hell because I had to decide to put my aging kitty Miss Mitty to sleep. Between cancer, Mitty, and my Dad I was struggling greatly with the value of life and knowing when to end it. It took me a few months longer than usual to decide for her. And then my beloved, most loved, Uncle Will passed away. Oh Lord.

But wait, there’s more. Blow of all blows, Mr. Furnace decided to move without consulting me. It was during this time that I really grasped the significance and magnitude of the TBI (traumatic brain injury) he’d suffered 20 years ago. When I showed up with the truck that he couldn’t organize or pay for, I discovered he’d been hoarding, or rather allowing, a very, and I do mean VERY, psychotic homeless women hoard his home. She was his project. He was going to help her get on her feet and live a good life. I’ve never been so shocked in my life. It was unimaginable and it was the deepest depth of hell for me. I was still going through chemo every week. No one was there to move his crap out to a storage unit but him and I. And her, drunk at 8am in her socks in the alley, flashing her tits to the neighbors.

I’m sorry to those who think I should keep this to myself but our secrets keep us sick, he shall remain anonymous, and those who knew him will forget his name. You are getting very sleepy. We all deserve love and forgiveness and I forgive him with all my heart but that’s the end of THAT. You need to understand this to understand where I end up and I need to tell you. That day woke me up to the fact that the relationship was literally killing me and had, in some part, helped to create cancer inside me. Worrying about not eating wheat products to prevent inflammation and therefore cancer was the least of my worries. I had visible cancer right there in front of me. And it walked and talked and and and

He was at that moment homeless and good woman that I am, I said he could stay with me for a week. It turned into almost 3 months. While I finished chemo, started recovering from chemo, began radiation, and badly sprained my ankle we were there in my small basement haven turned flophouse trying to be amiable, knowing it was over but trying to do it with grace and dignity. He got me through surgery and chemo and while we had irreconcilable differences, I’ll be forever grateful that he was THERE for me when I needed it most.

The diagnosis and surgery and worst of chemo was almost over but from April through October, my life turned into five hundred and forty seven levels of Hell.

I wish God/dess didn’t trust my inner strength so much. I don’t know how I made it. More than once I wanted to end my life, the journey was no longer working for me. I wanted a Do Over. But I just couldn’t do it. Because I knew that this next quote is true. Always have, always will.

“Emotional discomfort, when accepted, rises, crests, and falls in a series of waves. Each wave washes parts of us away and deposits treasures we never imagined. No one would call it easy, but the rhythm of emotional pain that we learn to tolerate is natural, constructive, and expansive. It’s different from unwilling suffering the way the sting of disinfectant is different from the sting of decay; the pain leaves you healthier than it found you.”

And right now, while I’m still grieving many, MANY, losses, some of which go back to my own actual adoption memory of being in the womb shrieking “Mommy don’t leave me!”, I’m ready to live again. I’m healthier. Reborn. A new life. I get a do over without having to die and the gift of remembering the past so it can guide me as I move forward, lessons learned.

I know now that my Mom is here, she always has been. She just didn’t give birth to me. But God/dess knows, she was THERE. She’s my best and closet friend. I tell her everything. We talk almost every day. We care for each other. We try to lighten the load for each other. We support each other and no topic is taboo.

I am surrounded and I do mean SURROUNDED, by the most awesome group of friends a gal could want. They’ve donated their time in many ways, from packing to driving me places to playing their music for my fundraiser to sending cards and love and energy and even regular old money, buying my art or just GIVING from every corner of the earth. For the first time in my life I let myself RECEIVE. My friends they are legion and the love flows.

My co-workers, team mates, beloved Sesameeps, have supported me in many ways as well. They kept my job intact, they kept my CUBICLE intact (that was a massive feat as we all know that office vultures descend on cubicles), paid my medical benefits the entire time I was sick and rejoiced and celebrated my return. They played with me on Facebook, had a fundraiser, sent me care packages, and never, ever forgot me and welcomed me back with delight and love and I don’t even know how that happens.

I can only, simply, RECEIVE. Sometimes I can’t help but cry for the Grace of it all. I can only stand and receive and I never knew it would feel like this.

Was Cancer a Gift? FUCK NO. The right question is, was the journey a gift? Oh yes. No mistake, I’m not who I was and I’m better, happier, more grateful. And cancer free. Healthier.

I took the months of November and December off from visits and contact. I cried for almost two solid months in the restful silence of my new home and with my new kitty mitty, Mimi. She was sick too and we both just rested. And cried. A LOT.

I’m back at work but had a bit of relapse after the company party this weekend. Done got my ass kicked but it was worth it in every way. I see my limits now. Overstimulation zapped me pretty hard and I was just starting to get my energy back. I’m sure in a day or two I’ll get it back again and the journey towards Thriving, not Surviving, will continue.

So many relationships have been so full of Drahma and Trauhma. So many ended this year. And many have begun. I *have* had one visitor in my life of late. Please don’t be sad if it wasn’t you. I love you all. I just needed fresh air, a new experience, a new friend. Something, someone, new, a friend from long ago who I’m getting to know better. Someone who is mellow and easy and kind of quiet in a smart, interesting, and chatty way, letting me be me, and by the fact of his calmness, calms me when he’s around. And maybe just a little uncalming too, but in a good way. In an Infinite Possibilities way.

These visits aren’t every day mind you. GAWD, I’d keel over for good, I’m lucky to get the coffee cups washed and the cat fed. He is someone who knows I didn’t only call to chat but perhaps to also dip my toe in the water and maybe, if the water’s fine, build something on shore if the winds blow favorably. Someone who already knows about the cancer and the pain and the chemo and the sick and the bloat and yet, he comes by and we laugh and talk about many things. Like walruses and strings.

Love Not Fear. It will get you through anything. Knowing the wheel will turn and sometimes you’ll be drowning under water and sometimes you’ll be basking in the sun. Spring is coming and I want this life, this new life I’m creating from the depths of Hell. I refused to pitch my tent even though at times the temptation was great, I was just so fucking tired and bruised and aching that I simply didn’t want to move any more, not one more inch.

I’ve got my boots on again but I’m not walking through Hell any more. I’m in the plain jane world of life and it feels great. I do still have great sobs burst from me and then a rain of tears but it passes like a summer storm and I’m cleansed some more. The grieving process will take awhile but who says I can’t put on my party clothes and dance at the same time?

These boots were made for DANCING. Was I afraid? Yes. Did I continue on in service to my vision? My vision that I will know a life where I feel loved by those around me but most importantly and finally, by my Self? Yes. Like a tsunami, my life last year got TOSSED and all the flotsam and jetsam rose to the surface, floating there, reminding me that I couldn’t store them carefully away in little organized and labeled boxes any more. The lids were off and they were there for all to see. But, also like a tsunami, each subsequent wave that hits me is lesser than the one before. Right now waves are gently lapping at my ankles, the trash has been cleared away, and pretty little fishes nibble at my ankles in the sparkling blue crystal clear water. Every once in awhile, the seventh wave hits, bigger than the others, and I cry, sometimes I even fall in, but it’s easier to get back up these days, so I stand, ankle deep, in heaven on earth and I have faith that I can weather ANYTHING this world throws at me. Love, faith, fear. They dance together and the dance wouldn’t be complete without each part of the circle. I’m doing everything I can to invite Joy to join us. Come dance with me… Kiss me… Allow me to show you my smiling shining light.

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Taking It

Well, here I am. Taking it. That’s good news really. My emotions still resemble a roller coaster ride but this is progress.  It could be all mucking around in the pits and no high peaks with great views. Just an update on the personal side to catch you all up, I know I’ve been a bit silent.

Mr. Furnace and I talk every day.  I understand his motives for what he’s doing regarding his ex. He is a good man with a good heart and good motives. Whether she is up to the challenge or deserves this from him is neither here nor there. He has to live with himself and his actions and this is something he must do for himself to feel that he’s tied up all loose ends. I get that, I applaud that, but I still zapped those sheets. I am what I am. And he laughed. He loves me just the way I am, warts and all. While this is very challenging right now and some of it really pushes some of my buttons, I’m feeling really good about the work he and I are doing together and individually. I feel very good about he and I.

While I have not been offered a job yet, so far nothing has come to happy fruition, I’ve had more interviews in the past couple months than I had in the previous two years. Many interviews and all in my field. I’m still applying for jobs at places like the local Fred Meyer and would be glad to have one there but the interest is all in my field and there is a good amount of it I think. I had a phone interview today that went quite well and had three applications accepted this week and pushed to the next level. Things are flowing and as long I stay as positive as I can something is going to change soon. Not IF I get a job but WHEN I get a job as a friend pointed out to me last week.

I’ve made a lot of new friends this year. People who really do seem to enjoy my company. I’m asked to chair meetings, join others for lunch, participate. I’m invited. I needed that so very much. To feel some sense of belonging in a time when I was feeling very left out.

I’m really moving in the direction of making big changes in my spiritual life and practice. I will always be a tree hugging dirt kissing nature lover and worshiper but that’s about all I can commit to at the moment. We shall see how this progresses. I’m not feeling the lurve in anything but the most simple living moment by moment.

My mom and I are doing well, ever since I shared my story about the adoption inventory, she’s been on my side and very supportive. Dad is becoming more confused as the days go by but he’s really keeping his good attitude and is a pleasant guy to be around. His situation really touches my heart. Bro and I are doing very VERY well, our relationship is quite solid and mutual and it feels good.

I made almost all the Yule presents I’m giving this year with a couple exceptions like the books I got Dad and the Polar Bear on a runaway sled that poops jelly beans for the nephew. I am a great auntie, one of my favorite roles ever.

So it isn’t all sadness and processing of old damage, not by any means. My needs are met and met well. I have a warm safe place to live, plenty of food (too much this time of year! so I’ve been able to share that with those who have much less), I have the love a good man, the love of many friends, Miss Mitty is doing well although I’m keeping an eye on her, and there are job prospects. Life is good and I am grateful. If this is taking it I guess I can be grateful. Twist my arm why don’t you…

And with that I leave you with TED’s  _The Three A’s of Awesome!!!

The Week in Cancer

In the 1925 silent film The Gold Rush, Charlie Chaplin plays a prospector during the Alaska Gold Rush. After a series of adventures, he finds himself stuck in a remote cabin on Thanksgiving Day with a ruffian named Big Jim. They’re out of food, so Charlie gets resourceful, boiling his right shoe in a big pot and serving it up steaming hot. What the audience doesn’t know is that the movie prop is made of sweet licorice, not leather. So while it may seem that dinner is a hardship, the actors actually had no trouble polishing off their meal. I see a similar scenario in your near future, Cancerian: something like eating a “shoe” that’s made of candy.

Well I LOVE licorice, especially sweet black licorice. I could always use extra sweetness in my life.  Still waiting for news on the job front.  Don’t know if I’m going to be called for the third interview or not, these folks run a little slow.

New tires, new wiper blades, Miss Mitty UTI emergency (bloody trails all over the house one day when I woke up) which meant a huge financial hit but she’s doing better…  Glad I was able to take care of these things thanks to a generous friend.  Life is life…

Mr. Furnace and I celebrated his birthday last night with a quiet delicious dinner, a chocolate torte, and a hand made present.  It is a personal inside joke so I can’t share. It was lovely and sweet and we are holding hands and it’s just precious. The love thing is going very well, I’m just quite pleased. We are starting to know each other on deeper levels, to understand how the other ticks, to really grok each other and it’s awesomeness. He calls me dearest and wowest and my heart just melts. I tell you, I didn’t do this ever in my life, get to know someone this well before physical intimacy but it ROCKS and I’m so glad to be experiencing this with him because he didn’t either. It’s enough to make you sick it’s so precious.

I’m finally caught back up after the family visit from France. Halloween was a blast, we had walks and meals and hang outs and laughed a lot. It was good. My nephew and I really got to bond this visit, he speaks very good english now and my french is a little better every time. We made stuff and watched movies and talked about Robin Hood.  He loved coming down to my little abode and hanging out and I loved it back. I love being an auntie.  These are the friends he gets to trick or treat with when in Seattle. He’s the cowboy.

Family life is quiet, Dad gets a little more befuddled as the weeks go by but his attitude is basically good and that makes for a nice quiet home life over all.  I’m trying to participate more in must the check ins with them, it seems to make Mom comfortable and that means I’m comfortable.

It’s rainy and dark and chilly, they’re talking snow this weekend which is amazing for this part of the world, this early. I’m hunkering down and very busy with the making of Yule gifties.  Knitting, pyrography, designing, drawing, sewing, and trying to get some entertainment reading in now and then as well as enough sleep and not too many goodies because that season has begun.  The season of food and more hippage than my pants allow.

That’s all the news from Lake Wobegon. Have a lovely day and one day closer to the return of the sun.

Three’s the Charm? Uncle? FIRE!!!

The fire trucks are gone.  The windows are open.  The cat is safe. The humans are safe.  The burned mattress no longer smokes in the front yard.

I awoke at 6:00am trying to find that alarm clock that keeps going off on random days that my parents can’t hear because they’re deaf and are sleeping.  I start downstairs and hear it’s actually the smoke alarm and my mother yelling FIRE!  Call 911!!


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Dyspepsia

It’s just a little word.   It has “pep” in it and for some reason it struck me as something that I didn’t have to take too seriously.  That it  might not be that big a deal.  Certainly nothing like Celiac Disease.  Gawd. Nothing Peppy about it.

I was kinda wrong.  At least once a week my system is completely off kilter.  I feel like hurling in all directions etc, envision Train Station in Dijon (last half of post).  I called in sick Monday and here I am, at work, on Friday, worse than ever.

….. Breaking News: This just in, co-worker sick with tummy something or other.  Hmmm, maybe this is sick not dyspepsia.

It’s been quite a week.  Miss Mitty went to the dentist on Wednesday and was quite messed up by the time she got home. Which was 8:45pm because they saw her late.   She kept trying to get her land legs all night long. She wouldn’t rest until she could walk without hitting a wall, turn a circle without her back legs collapsing, jump on and off the bed with the grace of a youngster.  Which meant until at least 2am, when I was finally able to sleep through it all, she was up and down, bump, oof, up and down, oof, circle, bump, off, bump, on, circle oof, omg.

She was much better yesterday but every once in awhile she misjudged a step or two.

Me? I feel like I’ve walked into a wall or two but the one required meeting I’m supposed to be at today doesn’t start until 3:30.  Yes, a boss who is so perverse that she schedules the one weekly required core staff meeting on Fridays from 3:30 – 5:30.  What kind of nasty is that any way.  I’m seriously considering begging to go home, all day Fridays are always required, and then come back for the meeting to take minutes.  gah.

Looking for bleah cat photos and found this one.  At least it made me laugh.

Good News

Finally all the tests are in.  Not Celiac Disease, not iron deficient. We’re going with Dyspepsia (dyspepsia is a medical condition characterized by chronic or recurrent pain in the upper abdomen, upper abdominal fullness and feeling full earlier than expected when eating. It can be accompanied by bloating, belching, nausea or heartburn).  The Sooper Strength antacids seem to be helping things and I’m going back to eating as few grain based foods as Ican for now, especially ones that contain yeast as that factor really takes things over the top.   My insurance changed so it cost me far more than I expected but it’s still a long shot less than I would have had to pay and I’ve made my deductible already.  *sigh*

Now I have to find a way to pay for Miss Mitty’s teeth cleaning next week. She has terrible plaque, hoping that they don’t have to pull any or many teeth.  They said I should do it this year, last year, but I think I should have done it back then.  She’s lost a pound this year and she was never a large cat (she weighs 6.8 pounds right now, they would like to see 9 or 10) and HER blood lab tests came back with normal for kidney and thyroid so the vet is hoping it is her teeth and that this will help her eat more and put on weight.  But it’s high normal on the kidneys so I have to pay for special hydration during the cleaning.  Yay! *sigh*

He won’t listen that I know she’s lost a pound because she and I used to live together alone in a little “cottage” in the woods where we both were really happy. It was her safe haven after being rescued from whatever hell it was and mine too.  For over a year now, we’ve been in other people’s homes and neither of us is comfortable. She spends a lot of time under my bed and only comes out in the afternoon when I return (and on weekends too, even though I’m home in the morning).  She eats when I’m right there  guarding her and not much other times.  And then she will go back under the bed, let out an awful yowl and then nothing until I go to bed and she hops up by my pillow.  A good night is when she stays out and hangs with me as I sew or read.

I’ve got a slew of resumes out for some very good jobs at the UW, none of which have anything to do with reading a professors emails all day and managing their calendars.  It’s herding cats, what job isn’t, but it’s a different kind of cat.  I’m also certain that working in a psych clinic that deals with very extreme cases is accumlating energy so working on somethings that will help keep at least my office clear.  Mercury and Lakshmi have their places here so that helps.  Mitty and I both need me to get more hours and more pay so that I can save for moving into a place of our own and retirement because that’s all gone.

Working the juju for protection and good fortune in work.  I’m doing better at work, I’ve decided that anything the boss gives me that I can work on I will and I won’t listen to her unkind comments about me as a person.  That’s working and I can stand this because somehow I’ve found detachment.

Lady of Leisure

Miss Mitty, my comrade, my companion, my beloved.  So twee.

LadyOfLeisure2

The camera is facing towards the window so the light sucks but getting a photo like this of Miss M. is quite difficult.  She is elusive and thinks that the camera will take her soul if she looks straight on.  In this photo she is purring to beat the band.

LadyOfLeisure