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Posts Tagged ‘Spirituality’

There are only 5 words written in my journal about my 2nd round of chemo, and yet those words evoke a fugue of memories, parts in clear and vivid detail, that are melded together by undertones of the Divine.  “Rose truck on GW Bridge” returns me to that day as if the words were the first five notes of a theme song to a movie,  and there I am again riding in the passenger side of our blue Subaru, crossing the Hudson River toward New York, searching the Manhattan skyline for structures known and missing, when a rickety white delivery truck with an enormous red rose on it’s rear door pulled directly in front of us.

It was July 30, 2009, a sun gorgeous hot Summer morning, and I held a blanket that I packed to take to the hospital that day. The blanket was a rich rust color, ultra thick and soft, a gift from my mom. I learned from the first infusion that the chemo chamber was drab and cold as a meat locker, the hospital blankets were coarse, and that I did want my mom. However, I also did not want my mom to see me knocked out by chemicals and hooked up to IV tubes. I didn’t want to see fear in her eyes or to be distracted by worries about her comfort, so the blanket was a surrogate as was my beloved Light Brigade. The day before, I had contacted my trusted circle of sister/friends & healers to request that they “energetically hold my hands” and the 12 responses I received were affirmations like this:

“Dear Blessed One, Golden healing light flows all around you, through you, deep into your cells, deep through all the fibers of your energy body. You are SOOOOO LOVED!” 

Between my blanket and the Goddess power blasting my way, I was utterly swaddled and infused with Mother Love.

And, I was prepared with a bunch of props to support my plan to customize my chemo experience. I brought along a sheet of instructions for the Brazilian Toe Technique for my husband to administer, a quartz crystal to support my intention that Cytoxan is a crystal healing elixir, and a rose quartz crystal as well as the rose buds from the altar that Deirdre created and rose oil from my friend Ginny to inspire my new nurse that the red Adriamycin is a high vibrational rose elixir. Which is why I felt sure that the large red rose logo on the back of the florist’s delivery truck that pulled in front of our car on the bridge and guided us all the way to the hospital on 168th Street was a sign that the Universe backed my plans. It was gonna be a good day.

At the hospital, we went directly to see Lois, my oncologist’s nurse practitioner, for the requisite check-in and blood work. Lois reminded me that I was about to lose my hair. She said, “Don’t get your hopes up that you’ll be the one to beat it. Everyone thinks ‘maybe I’ll be the one’… but after the second round of chemo, the hair falls out.”

I assured her that a wig was on order, that I had no delusions, and told her about the scarf tying party which was a segue into my spiel about my plans. I went on to explain that I decided to raise the vibration of my chemo infusion with crystals and toe massage and loving intentions coursing through my IV, “Which means, Lois, I need a new nurse.”   Then I boldly trod where I normally don’t go and vehemently complained about Diane. I told Lois that Diane insulted my veins and that she was overall bad for morale. “However,” I back pedaled, “she was a great teacher. Diane taught me to advocate for myself.”

Lois apologized on behalf of the hospital and said she’d report the offense which made me quake at the notion that I might have made an enemy, that there was the potential for retaliation, as if a peeved Diane would sabotage my IV. Nevertheless, I thanked Lois and asked her to recommend a proper nurse. I then proceeded to the 9th floor infusion center where I stood with my shoulders squared at the reception desk to request, “Catherine please.”  Then Reade and I sat and waited with fingers crossed for my wish to be granted, while I also prayed that I wouldn’t bump into my nemesis, Diane.

Minutes later, the lovely, short and sturdy brunette nurse that called for me introduced herself as Catherine. She had a firm handshake, she looked me in the eye; and, as I followed her to the the east wing called the garden side where I was stationed two weeks before, I squared my shoulders again and clutched my blanket as I prepared to 1. meet up with Diane and 2. present my New Age, seemingly airy-fairy, ideas to this new nurse that I sized up in an instant as efficient, practical, and a no-nonsense type.

But, as the gods of the rose logo would have it, Diane was nowhere in sight. I was able to relax in my chosen chair, the same chair that disappointed me the first time. This time, I opted to sit in the center of the room where I could see and be seen, and heal the bad memories associated with that spot. I felt bold, choosing my nurse and my chair, and so I audaciously placed my crystals, rose buds, and rose oil on the bed stand in full view of the nurses’ station, and, as Catherine went about fetching support meds and ice chips, I steeled my nerve to ask my down-to-earth nurse to be an essential component in my spiritual ritual.

In the time it took for her to adeptly insert the IV and begin the central line drip, I was able to chat with Catherine and discovered that our common ground was motherhood. In fact, she had two small girls at home and, lo and behold, was eight months pregnant with her third.

“You’re kidding,” I exclaimed as I searched for her barely noticeable bump, and continued to exclaim over her compact maternity as I dealt with a confluence of emotions. I was in awe of her size and her stamina, jealous of her size and stamina, and I was horrified that my good new nurse was about to abandon me to have a baby. I nearly said so, but, instead, generously suggested that she ought to get off her feet and get adequate rest.

“No way. We need the money,” she said and assured me that she would probably see me two weeks from today for my third infusion.

“Okay. If you think so,”  I said and went ahead and told her my plans. I told her about the Brazilian toe technique that Reade would perform, and described the symbolism of the crystals and rosebuds, and then I asked her to participate by pumping the Adriamycin into my IV with love.

Catherine looked blank.

So I took a deep breath and explained, “I know that you don’t know me, and you’d probably get really burnt out if you let yourself care too much about your patients, so I’m not asking you to love me; but could you please try to feel love while you pump? Maybe you could just think about your baby?”

Her eyelids lowered as if in obeisance and Catherine pumped the red rose elixir into the tube in my vein with the glow of mother love all about her.

In gratitude & awe,

L.

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A little over a week ago, there were warnings that hurricane Earl would hit the northeast coast so people from North Carolina to Maine were advised to either batten down the hatches or evacuate. My family and I had plans for a last-hurrah-before-school beach day at the Jersey shore and changed our minds due to the reported riptides. Instead, my daughter and her friends went to the movies and I went to the office where each time I glanced out my window on the clear, steamy, sun glorious day, I wondered why I listened to all the hurricane hype. I thought: I could’ve been staring out to sea instead of at a computer screen. My kid could’ve been frolicking in the briny waves instead of sitting bug-eyed in a dark theater. And as my thoughts churned in bitterness, my emotional undercurrents began to drag me down – my shoulders slouched, my fingers thumped on the keyboard – I was being pulled away from shore as if in a riptide of my own making. So, I sat up and tried to stimulate a fresh thought pattern.

Since it’s impossible to swim against a riptide, I was only able to latch on to a slight variation of my negativity which was in effect like swimming parallel to shore: Or, we all could’ve been sun burnt, or battered in the surf, or stuck in a bumper-to-bumper exodus on the Garden State. Anything could have happened. Then I reached calmer waters, I recognized that I was dwelling in a fairy tale land of what-ifs, and I was able to regain a foothold in reality. My thoughts changed to gratitude for what is: My family and I are safe and sound. All is well. Then I glanced out my office window again. This time my mind was in sync with my eyes, and I could appreciate the sun glinting on the river and honor the beauty of the here and now.

Being in the NOW. It’s ancient wisdom. It’s Zen. It’s an idea exclaimed again by Eckhart Tolle in his book The Power of Now and by Joel Olsteen in his Christian ministries and in Psychology Today and by pretty much every self-help or spiritual guru worth their salt. It’s an idea that bears repeating in multiple tongues over and over again because it’s not easy. At least, not for me. I need daily sometimes hourly reminders and a variety of tactics for how-to return to the now because my monkey mind is so clever it invariably picks the lock on a cage.

The first time the idea of “the now” was presented to me was when I was 29 years old and just about to turn 30. I was strolling in the West Village on a lovely Sunday morning in Spring with Topaz, my friend and spiritual teacher, and lamenting about being 30 without any of the adult accouterments. Topaz listened to me moan and complain about my lack of focus, lack of direction, lack of passion etc etc etc until she stopped me in my tracks. She literally stepped right in front of me, stood nose to nose, and commanded, “Linda, be where your feet are.”

Topaz was a striking woman at a distance with her burgundy hair, leopard spandex leggings, and signature purple jacket, boots & bag, and, up close, all of her colors were utterly arresting. I stopped. I did as she said and looked down at my black Reeboks planted on a pock-marked, gum-stained, slab of concrete sidewalk. Then raised my eyes to meet her fiery green eyes and said, “Ya, so? My feet are on 12th Street between 5th and University. How is that gonna find me a career?”

More than twenty years later, with plenty of experience and enough 20-20 hindsight to understand the merits of Topaz’s suggestion, it’s still an effort on an average day to be in the now with my feet. And, in the Spring of 2009, in the lag time when I was waiting for the plan to save my life, forget about it, staying in the moment was a Herculean labor. Fortunately, I, like Hercules, had a number of tools and Divine assistance.
Actually, I think my primary tool is trusting that there is Divine assistance. Plus, I believe that the messages from on High regarding my highest good in the future are in the details of the present moment, so I pay attention. I try to pay attention to my urges, my environment, the people in my path, and the stories they have to tell me either directly, meaning verbally, or, indirectly by the way they reflect me. Of course, I can have considerable ADD in these matters, but not when I’m feeling lost or scared. When I’m scared, I’m hyper alert.

For instance, I was scared the day after the doc told me that cancer was found in a lymph node, so as per suggestion of Thomas Windlow, the psychic healer I contacted soon after my breast cancer diagnosis, I turned on music. Thomas’s suggestion to me was that I ought to “blast music to heal.” Perhaps he meant to promote vibrational healing through sound which, as it happened, I would learn more about in the days to come; but, on that day, I only knew to turn on my iTunes so I could sing and dance myself into the now – the now in which I was (I am) alive and healthy and connected to all my senses.

Now, my iTunes is always on shuffle, so the playlist is random, and yet the first song that played that day seemed to be selected for me. “Something’s gonna turn out right,” sang Alice in Chains and I sang along with them, loudly. Then, the next tune  told me, “Don’t worry ’bout a thing. Cause every little thing’s gonna be alright.”

“Yeah!” I exclaimed and in that moment I was right with me feet dancing a happy little reggae dance because the Divine spoke to me through Bob Marley.

(to be cont.)

L.

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