Posts Tagged ‘Spiritual Tools’

The morning was golden. There was a golden glaze on the river, golden glints on the George Washington Bridge, and the stalagmites called Manhattan were glistening. I had sun and a smile on my face. This was the morning of my last chemo infusion. I would be done with the hardest part of the cancer treatments after this day.

Along with my bag full of chemo props, I carried an arm full of red roses to the hospital to say thank you and goodbye to the folks of the 9th floor infusion ward. It was the 4th round, the fourth element of water, and it had occurred to me that water is a symbol for emotions, but I did not anticipate any teary goodbyes. I liked everyone on the 9th floor alright and was grateful for their participation in saving my life; however, I had no grief about parting ways. Nope. None. On that golden August day I only had my eye on the end point; and, so, I was totally unprepared for the white waters that lay ahead.

The Universe knew that I would need help though.

There was only one other couple in the oncology waiting area when I arrived for my pre-infusion check-up. While Reade, my husband, and I chatted and scanned the newspaper, I noticed that this couple was looking at me. She was a lovely Asian and her male companion was Asian too and, as they glanced in my direction, they exchanged words in their native tongue as if they were whispering behind cupped hands. They were talking about me; and, given her full head of glossy black Asian hair, I guessed that they were intrigued by my bald head. I sensed that she was curious and wanted to talk with me, so I looked at her and smiled. No sooner did the upturned corners of my mouth lift my cheeks, then Anna rushed over to introduce herself. Indeed, she was curious – today was Anna’s first infusion day.

Just as the angel in the auburn wig (last paragraphs of this former post)  was there for me when I was scared about stepping onto the chemo track, I could now be there for Anna. I could pay it forward. I could tell her about lemon & ginger water and assure her that the nausea is manageable and give her a general overall pep talk. I could tell her about the choices that worked for me like the preemptive shaving of my head and how baseball caps were less scratchy than wigs. I could say, “It wasn’t so bad. People cared for me on my down days, but mostly I walked slowly and really paid attention to flowers;” and then, I could hand her a long-stemmed red bud.

We hugged.

And as I moved from station to station that morning – from check-up room to blood lab to doctor’s office – I’d see Anna and her companion, clinging to each other, seeming anxious, and she’d be clutching her rose. Then, when I was finally assigned an infusion chair, and at long last on the west side with the Hudson river views which thrilled me since the element for the fourth round was water, as Fate would have it, Anna was assigned the chair right next to me.

So, when there was a two hour delay as the wonderful singing nurse named Jennifer, through no fault of her own, blew two of my veins and then couldn’t find a vein that wasn’t collapsed so there was an imminent threat that I was going to be sent home, I didn’t panic for Anna’s sake. And, when Jennifer finally hooked me up and the needle hurt, I didn’t grimace, and when another allergic reaction to the adriamycin  swelled me up, turned my eyes bright red, and made me think I was dying until the benedryl shot knocked me out, I didn’t fret out loud. I stayed strong for the entire fourth and final round for Anna.

Anna and I exchanged a few emails in the months to come in which she repeatedly thanked me for the pep talk and the rose, and I tried to convey to her that I did nothing but embrace a gift. And, now, when I reflect, I don’t dwell on how painful and terrifying the experience was, I think only of the infinite wisdom of the Universe that knew that I needed to be somebody’s angel for a day.

In awe,



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My favorite tool or my most oft used, Swiss Army knife sort of tool for making a spiritual connection (aka being in the moment) is writing. Writing is the practice I’ve maintained the longest, and so I trust it to help me find the zone – that delicious time warp state in which I (ego I) disappear and something other happens. My experience is that in the act of writing, I am at one with mySelf, and focused in the moment. Perhaps the act of moving a pen or typing on a keyboard helps me to bypass my frontal lobes. I don’t know. What I do know is that I approach each writing session with an idea or intention, and, generally, something else happens that seems magical. I’m able to emote, to transcend, to create, to plumb the subterraneo, and sometimes to prophesy.

Whatever, I love it. The writing process in which raw energy translates into words that suggest images and ideas that can shift or expand my psyche thrills me. I love to splash around in ink with abandon to dance my pen like Isadora Duncan to write outside the lines. I love the flow with its revelations as well as the tension that mounts and mounts and swells and mounts and then explodes onto the page. And then, I even love the editing stage. The Felix Unger in me adores tidying up the mess. I love to fuss and cut and primp and polish, and whip those dangling participles into shape.

A few years ago, I wrote a 460+ page novel in two years. The story had been churning in my grist mill for more than twenty years during which I made several attempts to begin it from various points in time, in different tenses, in various voices from different points of view. Then one day in 2005, the name of the narrator popped into my head and soon thereafter she began to speak. She was so clear and expressive that I simply took dictation. The first draft was written in long hand in three spiral bound, five subject, notebooks within a year. The next year was devoted to editing and typing the novel into a computer. Those two years of white heat creativity were bliss. When I was writing, that is. As soon as I capped the pen or turned off the computer to tend to my planetary obligations, the demons pounced. “Who do you think you are, Rockefeller? Get a real job,” they harped. It was in that bi-polar stress that I called Renate Moore (see Requiem for an Earth Angel) and she became my demon slayer, my life coach, and steadfast cheerleader.

Then, when I finished the second draft, Renate urged me to write the next book; but, like the first book, the flow wasn’t immediate. So, in the meantime, I decided to teach. For a spell, I got so fired up about sharing the ecstatic experience with others, that I lost sleep to a frenzied brainstorm of concepts and methods and plans. My writing workshop was to be called R.A.W. = Real Access Writing. The name was unique, I thought, because I googled it and it didn’t pop up, and I thought it was a true and clever name; but, I didn’t really have a methodology to go with it. R.A.W. would have been a compilation of stream of consciousness techniques & general writing advice ala Natalie Goldberg and Anne Lamont and Rita Mae Brown, and all the writers who wrote books that taught me. I didn’t have exercises that were authentically mine, so I didn’t feel I could teach. Yet.

The novel isn’t published yet, the sequel isn’t flowing yet, teaching didn’t happen yet, and, yet, I keep on writing.

Wow, I had no idea that I would write about my writing path today. Case in point: I don’t know what’s itching for expression until I scribble or tap around.

After rereading the above, I think I ought to delete it because it’s extraneous to the blog through line. However, I’m crazy about that image of Isadora Duncan, so I want to keep it. And, maybe there are a few lump lessons in that review. I just revisited a phase of supreme highs and lows in my recent past, so, as I wrote, I felt the heady euphoria, the heartfelt yearnings, followed by the stomach thumps once more. I will not delete. I’ll just go on.

My original intention for this blog post was to share the next entry from my practical brown suede cancer journal. I meant to write a brief introductory paragraph telling how journal writing served me during the lag time, and how the bulk of my 2009 journal entries were written in April, May, & part of June while waiting for the treatment plan to be revealed. Then, I planned to explain that the piece that follows is an example of stream of consciousness writing that lead to catharsis:

April 3rd (In the R.A.W. which means a gush with very little punctuation)

Shadow birds in the elm flutter from branch to branch their feathers the color of bark they look like bits of tree taking flight I m happy for the rain I m sad like the rain and so I m glad it s raining so that I may feel sad.

There’s a part of my spirit that has a spark for the future Though most of me feels heavy and stuck in the present and the past I think the shadow birds are the bits of me that are trying to get free of the same o same o muck & mire of money worries and the dull routine the restrictions on travel and adventure the sense of closed doors brick walls quick sand and the realization that I m worn and eroding.

For the months to come I will enjoy the garden and tennis and the pool maybe I will write stuff that transports me and I will feel enlivened by that maybe I will have creative bursts that produce some art maybe I will feel physically energized once more maybe I will make love maybe. I hear the birds twittering away far from sight. They re gone from the elm tree now.

Actually I don’t know whether it’s an elm or a beech. Reade (my husband) will know There’s still adventure left in us The great thing about not having traveled much is that there’s still a whole world left to see. I hope that this cancer is a one time ordeal and that the research projects I have to do in future are about exotic lands and extraordinary creatures and not about chemotherapy and radiation. I hope that this is a transformational experience and not a

well I don’t know if I actually believe what I was about to say which was that I hope cancer is a short walk and not a life path which is true that I would prefer not to worry for all the rest of my days about whether or not it will come back. What I would like to do though is to always remember, so that I have something to give back. We’ll see… just for today it’s raining two shadow birds flew from the beech tree I’m reminded that everything changes all things pass and it’s okay to be sad about that too.

(to be cont.)


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