I am incredibly fortunate to still have both of my parents within a days drive. With Mother’s Day just past I’ve watched many of my friends struggle with the grief of no longer having their Mom a phone call away. My folks aren’t as active as they once were. The three-hour drive means my Mom spends the next week “recovering”. Given my health ups and downs this last year, we haven’t seen as much of each other as we’d like.
When my Dad called and asked if Orion would be interested in participating in challenging a Guinness World Book record it seemed like a good opportunity to get in the car. My Dad and Orion have a history of doing interesting things together. Orion spent many summers attending Waldsee, a German language immersion village. Dad went along as his aide, his Opa. They still march together in the community parades when we visit in the summer. Being in the longest moving wheelchair line sounded like fun.
Orion and I went up on Friday. The “North woods” are pretty in the spring as the leaves come out on the birches. We had the afternoon to visit and dinner, but early to bed knowing Saturday was going to be a busy day. We sent Orion and Dad off to Grand Rapids, MN and Mom and I went to Brainerd. It’s a treat for me to spend the day alone with Mom, a treat for Orion to have a day with Opa, a treat for Mom to be able to run errands at her own pace, and Dad is always happy with an adventure.
We had a lovely, leisurely day. We did a little shopping. We went out for lunch. We picked up some ice cream to have with the rhubarb pie I made. We talked and reminisced and I got Mom looking for some old photos of her grandparents. She was still worn out by the end of the day, but in a good way.
Opa and Orion and some 349 other wheelchair users beat the record. Of course there’s a review process by the Guinness World Book people before it’s official, but Orion knows he’s a champion! I made Dad take photos of the event and I posted Orion’s number (101) on his wall.
A weekend isn’t a long enough visit, but it’s enough to touch base. I’m also grateful again that my parents are still here, and close enough to do just a weekend. We may meet for lunch again before Orion and I get back up to the “North woods”. That’s how we’ve managed these last 6 months when “I need to SEE how you are doing.” has been the theme.
Knowing how fragile these opportunities can be I am more motivated, more committed, to make sure they happen. If you still have your Mom or Dad, be sure to call them just to check-in and say “I love you.”
I need help.
That’s a really hard thing to say. It’s hard to admit it when I’m overwhelmed. It’s hard to need help and find there is none available. It’s hard to accept help without being able to give something back in return.
I’m doing “catch-up” on years of neglect in my house and in my yard. There is no way I can do it all. I’m puttering away at little jobs and hoping eventually I’ll get to the rest. But there’s always something new adding to that “to do” list.
This weekend I chose to ignore a “should”. I “should” have attended a public ritual. I’m on the board for the group that sponsored it. I “should” have gone to the planning meeting, offered to contribute, at least brought something for the pot-luck. I “should” have, and I pointedly did not.
Instead I stayed home and asked for help. This was when help was available so this needed to be when I was available to receive it. I don’t even feel bad for making this choice. It was necessary.
I didn’t take pictures. I didn’t document progress. I didn’t let anyone know until it was done.
My nephew and his family drove an hour and a half (each way) to spend a few hours doing hard labor in my yard. The gutters got cleaned out. The beds got raked. The liners got installed. The manure got spread around. The toddlers mostly stayed out of trouble. Everyone got fed. I said thank you so much, and they drove away.
So no, I don’t feel bad for neglecting the should. I feel incredibly grateful for the help and support. I feel fortunate to be able to “track” toddlers. I feel lighter knowing that some of those “too big” jobs have been taken care of. I feel loved.
It’s my sister who is the Mom here. It’s the mother of 2 toddlers (and a third who spent the day with his Dad) who manages to get the entire family packed up, in the car and still wield a rake; she is the Mom here. But I got a great mother’s day gift all the same.
My kids did not neglect me in any way. But Zac and Darcy went out of their way to help out because I said I needed it. I can’t say thank you enough.
This year when I think about fertility rituals I am also recognizing the impact of my recent hysterectomy. I’ve always been happy to include new beginnings and creative endeavors in my fertility rituals. This year required a little more depth of thought.
I have been blogging about reclaiming my garden spaces. It really has been a long time since I’ve worked in some of them. I’m grateful for the things that continue to come up, in spite of the total neglect. That persistence is part of my understanding of fertility. The strong desire to live, and to thrive.
There’s also an appreciation for the new. The first flowers, the baby peas, and planting the annuals are all a part of spring awakening. When the trees start to blossom it’s like fireworks. The allergens may make my head a little “thick”, but my heart opens up. Even the dandelions make me smile.
As I’m digging in the ground it occurs to me that fertile earth is ready. It’s full of potential, ready to accept and nurture whatever I may choose to plant. It is willing to be willing. I think this year that’s my challenge.
I’ve been through a lot, and it’s time to move forward. It’s time to open up and accept whatever is offered. It’s about being ready, being willing to be willing. Hopefully all this new growth around me will inspire me to continue to take chances and accept the challenges and opportunities life throws my way.
Previous blogs about Beltane and the first of May:
Last weekend my daughter and I went to New York City. We both needed a vacation. You might recall I had surgery rather than going on my last one. I could do a travel-log blog. I could carry on about all the amazing food we ate. But the best part of this trip for me was celebration how different things are from the last time Karina and I went to NYC – 4 years ago.
I had my 9 month visit with the bariatric surgeon before we left for the airport. I am essentially at my post surgery goal weight! All the more reason for me to notice how much is different in my life. I had a goal (from February) to sit in a plane seat and buckle the seatbelt without an extender. Not only did I do that, but I was capable of sitting in an exit row!
The last time we were in NYC it was pretty early to bed. I wasn’t sleeping well and I tired easily. This time we got settled into the hotel by 10 and Karina was ready to go out on the town. She opted for salsa dancing and I was game to tag along. I even managed a dance or two.
One of the things that amazed me from this trip was not just how much I walked, but how willing I was to walk. Last time even walking to the subways was often too much, and we’d flag a cab. This time I wouldn’t bother to get on the subway if where I was heading was just the next station. I’d walk. Last time I couldn’t even go through the turnstiles. I was too big. This time I only struggled when I had to climb up 3 flights of stairs.
One of our “must do’s” on this trip was to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. We did it before, stopping to rest several times along the way and flagging a cab as soon as we stepped into Brooklyn to take us to Grimaldi’s Pizza (just under the bridge). This time we started at Grimaldi’s and then walked.
We crossed the bridge in less than ½ the time we’d taken before – in spite of the crowds. Not only did we walk across the bridge, but we continued to walk down to Battery Park and the 9/11 Memorial. Exhausted with sore feet by the time I got on the train, but exceptionally proud of the accomplishment.
We did plenty of other things as well. We went to some Broadway shows. We spent an evening at Comic Strip Live. We had a fabulous dinner at Felidia. Karina spent a day at Coney Island while I shopped and took in a matinée of It’s Only A Play.
We snuck in another show together, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder. We even went on a walking tour!
It was a grand trip and a great way to celebrate hitting that post surgery goal. I’ve got a way to go in terms of the new life-style. There was a lot of leftover food in the hotel room when we departed! My eyes are still bigger than my stomach, and exercise isn’t going to come as naturally at home. Even so, this trip may serve as a kick-start. If nothing else it will help me remember what I am capable of doing.
Manifesting has been a buzz word for quite a while now. The book “The Secret” made a big deal about it. There are all kinds of business protocols about dreaming big for your future. People make vision boards to keep their eyes on the prize. If you can make it work it’s the greatest. If you can’t, it’s easy to feel like a failure – especially as a measure of spiritual connection.
I find it hard to get out of my own way when I can’t see where I’m standing. I recognize when I’m 100% behind a desire, state it, work toward it, and it happens. I also understand when I’m resisting my desires, even if I’m not always sure how or why. Occasionally there are good reasons to put things off. I’m not always aware of those either.
The books and workshops make it sound easy, but it’s not. There’s a piece of manifesting that has to do with recognizing the flow of your life. It’s like giving a toddler a choice between an apple and a chocolate and them having a tantrum because what they want is a banana. The banana isn’t going to appear, but if they wanted an apple or a chocolate life is happy to give them one.
There are a few things I want right now. One of them is a garden. I’m digging beds out from under two years of overgrowth. I’m not working very fast, or even in very long stints. I’ll get as far as I get and I’ll be happy with that. In the meantime I’m enjoying the process as much as I hope to enjoy the outcome.
Another thing I want right now is a schedule that allows me time to work and time to play. I want time off being Orion’s Mom/Caretaker/Case Manager. I’m pushing the edges of that the way parents do with grade school aged kids. I ran off to the grocery store to pick up some milk before waking Orion up. I’ve taught him how to get into the house so I don’t have to race home to be here before the bus. I’ll let a sitter leave once he’s in bed, knowing he’ll just sleep and not notice when I get home. It’s coming, but I’m not quite ready to let go either. I get in my own way and I know it.
The third thing I want is an income, a career, a life. It’s part of the reason I want that time off. It’s also something I want to feel good about myself, my recovery, and just to be out in the world. Being a writer is part of that. Taking classes through the National Speakers Association is part of that. But that’s building a business, and isn’t really impacting my cash flow in a positive way.
I hit that line and told my daughter that I’m ready to look for a job. The same day I got a call from a friend. She knew someone who needed copy-editing done, right now. It’s a short-term gig, and work (of all sorts) may come in bits and pieces. But THAT’s manifesting!
Both Orion and I had doctor appointments last week. I was going to take photos and write all about our busy week. But doctors offices are boring. The appointments were too. How many times in one week can you hear “make another appointment and we’ll deal with it next time.” without feeling a little like you’re wasting your days?
The weather was all over the place last week. We desperately need the moisture. We didn’t have enough snow cover and the lakes and rivers are exceptionally low for this time of year. I swear one day we had rain at 40 degrees, snow at 32, and then sunshine in the 50’s! (And in that order!)
It’s too early to get to planting anything up here. Our “last frost” date is May 15th, so we’ve got a wait. It feels like we should be out digging though, and the ground is warm (warmish). The nursery’s pansies (which are very hearty) are out, but not much else.
I did get out and start cleaning up around my peonies. There’s plenty of yard work to do before planting can happen. I’m just not in shape for it. I try to get out a little bit every day (when it’s not raining, or snowing). It doesn’t take much to make me worn out, but I’ve hopes of building up my stamina. It’s nice to be able to get out at all.
It’s nice to be able to get down on the ground and get up again. It’s nice to not be afraid to be outside without my phone in easy reach. (Just in case I can’t get up!) It’s nice to be digging in the dirt and feeling the sunshine warming my joints. It’s nice to be able to come back in and soak in the tub. Last year I couldn’t do much outside and soaking in the tub isn’t allowed for 6 weeks post surgery.
I’m enjoying the rainy days. I catch myself singing. I’ll keep trying to take advantage of the sun when it shines. Seems like a good plan.
I’ve been thinking a lot this past week about Spirituality. In my book, Manifest Divinity, I talk about spirituality as our unique relationship to the Divine (however we might define that.) I stand by that, because I do think spirituality is highly influenced by that feeling of connection. But we all have moments when we question that connection, or wonder if it’s even there.
There is something that sustains us, even through that “dark night of the soul”. We cling to life and are wired for survival, but WHEN people give up varies dramatically. We press on, going through the motions, doing what needs to be done or we curl up and check out. We continue to lean on the connection, out of faith or habit, we look for something “more concrete”, or we despair.
What we often don’t recognize is that challenges to spirituality often strengthen the connection. When night falls we trust the sun will rise again, because that is our experience. When winter comes we trust that eventually it will be spring, because we’ve seen that happen time and time again. When we have lost touch with our spiritual connection, and hold on until it returns that too becomes our experience.
For many people, coming out the other side is what actually crystallizes their connection to spirit. Having the experience of that dark night is the contrast that makes spirituality real. Someone asked me a few weeks ago what was the experience that gave me such a strong connection to my own spirituality. I don’t know.
I talk about playing the Faerie as a very young child in my book, When Gods Come Knocking: An Exploration of Mysticism from a Deity Based Perspective. As far back as I can remember I’ve always felt connected to something. Those connections have been challenged in large and small ways.
My mother tells the story of her 3-year-old daughter “disappearing” on Memorial Day weekend. This is a big weekend in Minnesota. It’s when everyone goes up to open the cabin at the lake. They found me, with my dog, walking on the center meridian of the main highway headed north out of Minneapolis. I was, apparently, unconcerned. I don’t remember the incident, it had no impact on me. I know I trusted the dog.
I got lost as a kindergartener trying to get home from a new friend’s house. I do remember this one. I found a spot to plant myself and cried. A stranger (probably the woman whose house I was sitting in front of) collected me up and took me home. I’ve always had the support I need when I really need it. I also knew my own address. I have to meet the Divine half way, and do my share of the work.
Fifty years later I am again awed by the way help and support has appeared in my life when I needed it. I trust it, I count on it, because I have no other choice. I don’t take it for granted. I know I’m expected to do my share of the work as well. Some of that means getting up, going through the motions, and doing what needs to be done.
Spring is coming. Light and warmth are returning. The green peeks through and my hands are back in the dirt (inside, but in the dirt.) It’s hard to have any perspective on spiritual journey while we’re walking that center median overwhelmed by traffic. It’s the shift of time and distance that allows us to see how big the small miracles in our lives truly are.
It seems the more I start to feel like myself again, the more I am bombarded with emotions. I shouldn’t be surprised. It is typical for me to dig in and deal with crisis. As long as there’s something that needs doing I’ll be okay. It’s when things settle down that all that backlog comes rushing forward demanding to be heard. I have time to “feel the feelings” and I don’t like it.
I have so much to be grateful for. I got an early diagnosis. I have good doctors. I got to have laparoscopic surgery. Hell, I’ve beaten cancer twice! I’ve been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support and the kindness of my friends.
I also feel like I’ve been put through the ringer, again. They say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, but I feel like I’m fraying at the edges. Some of that is simply age. I’m not as resilient as I was in my 20’s. I don’t bounce back as fast, or as far, and it’s frustrating. Some of it is that, although I’ve had all the help that I need, I haven’t had the support of a partner cheering me along. When my spirits sag, I have to bring them back up on my own.
What really challenges me, though, is the lack of security. I don’t have sick leave. I don’t have vacation time. I don’t have a nest egg. I am trying to build a new career. I’m looking into moving Orion out. I’m not sure, even healthy, that I can continue to live in my home. The cancer diagnosis just underlines that there are no guarantees in life.
Ostara, the spring equinox, is a time of balance and new beginnings. That seems like a good place to start. Finding the new normal, creating patterns and systems that are healthy, and hanging on to hope; that is the task at hand. As long as there’s something that needs doing, I’ll be okay.
For someone who’s trying to recover from a major surgery I’ve been awfully busy. It’s hard not to celebrate a birthday, even when you’re not feeling entirely up to it. This is my first birthday since the bariatric surgery, and my birthdays have historically been about food.
When we were kids one of the things we got for our birthday was the opportunity to choose the menu. We didn’t go out to eat a lot as a family, but my parents cooked. Favorites ran the gamut, but I discovered seafood early and stuck with it.
This year has been a challenge in many ways. The hysterectomy has me moving slower, not getting around easily and pretty achy. In addition, just having the surgery has decreased my food tolerance and portions. That’s kind of normal, except given that I was already working on tolerance and portions it seems a little extreme.
Of course where there is a will there is often a way! My dreams of baking myself a cake to take to a party, or making myself a special dinner were very unrealistic. I’m not that far along in my recovery. But I have friends and family who managed to keep me eating all weekend long.
Thursday my daughter took me out to Oceanaire for birthday dinner. We ordered one Restaurant Week meal, a couple extra appetizers and a cup of lobster bisque and shared it out. Beautiful food, well prepared, very tasty and oh so very much to eat! I may not have had much (and took home leftovers) but I was more than satisfied and had a delightful evening besides.
Saturday I was taken out for sashimi by my ex and my son. That was also a treat. Again we managed to shuffle the meals around so that everyone got something they liked and there wasn’t too much extra. I had time enough for a nap before going out again that evening with friends.
That wasn’t specifically for my birthday and much of the “pot-luck” was vegan, but it was good to see some old friends and catch up. I brought a bag of clementines – not something I would buy for just me. I can eat a couple of segments at a time. It was a treat and definitely qualified as a vegan dish.
Sunday was our annual women’s ritual. Again the food was lovely and in huge quantities. I did manage to “cook” Tzatziki to go with my frozen appetizer spanakopita from Trader Joe’s. There were ribs, meatballs, and spiced nuts, liver pate, stuffed clams and scallops, and hummus, olives, and a variety of cheeses. I definitely needed a nap! The liver pate came especially for me to help with that anemia problem. Yummy!
I have so much to be grateful for this year. The hysterectomy took care of the cancer – no chemo or radiation necessary. I have had incredible support from my friends and family to get through these past few weeks. I may be grumpy I’m not improving fast enough, but I do continue to be able to do a little more each day. I’m also reassured that I really am doing well, I’m just impatient. And I have some great leftovers to help me through the coming week!
As Burns said (after his language was updated) “The best laid plans of mice and men often go astray.” According to Murphy, “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.” One way or the other, as the idiom goes, “someone has thrown a wrench in the works.”
I really wanted to spend last weekend in California at Pantheacon. I was scheduled as a presenter and I was really excited about the workshop I planned. It was about energy management, specifically in ritual settings, called “Sitting down or sitting out”. Maybe the universe thought I needed a refresher course first!
It has been a busy month with lots of medical appointments. My regular readers have heard me talk about dealing with a DVT (blood clot) and blood thinners and anemia. Every single appointment I’ve had since the beginning of the year has started with the statement, “You need to know I’m getting on a plane February 13th.”
I didn’t get on the plane. Instead I got scheduled for surgery. In fact, if you’re reading this on President’s Day Monday, I’m certainly at the hospital and may be “under the knife” even now. Scheduled publishing is one of those handy WordPress features.
The truth of the matter is that I’ve known for several weeks that surgery was the plan. I just insisted that I get the California trip out of the way first. In looking for ways to address the anemia I was referred to a Gynecologist who, as part of a standard exam, did a biopsy. It turns out that I have endometrial cancer.
It’s been 24 years (to the MONTH!) since the last time someone told me I had cancer. Back then it was colon cancer and I was relieved to get the news that being sick wasn’t just in my head. There was a little bit of relief this time as well. My first thought was that my PAP smear was off, and it was cervical cancer – which is really nasty. Endometrial cancer tends to stay localized. Most of the time it’s an easy fix. Have a hysterectomy and you’re good to go.
Even the idea of a hysterectomy is kind of a relief. I’ve been experiencing peri-menapausal symptoms for a very long time. I have ZERO interest in more children. I’m a lousy candidate, medically, for any kind of pregnancy. Happy to be done with all of that.
The concern is that it’s a second occurrence of cancer. The concern is that this cancer doesn’t explain the blood clot. The concern is that maybe I’m one of those people who is prone to getting clots and cancers. Unless you’re me, in which case the concern is missing the trip to Pantheacon.
I’m not a great candidate for surgery either. This will be my (count them) sixth abdominal surgery. The last one was the bariatric surgery less than a year ago. The nutritional complications from both the bariatric surgery and the cancer can impact recovery time. The scar tissue could prevent the procedure from being done laparoscopically – significantly impacting recovery. The blood thinners and anemia add additional complications.
So please send warm thoughts and prayers for an easy surgery and rapid recovery. I’ll add an update a little later in the week so you’ll know how I’m doing. I may take a bit of a blogging break while I process all of this and try and get a handle on another version of “my new life.”
And if you’re interested in what I’m missing, here are links to the blogs I’ve written about Pantheacon and flying to California in years past.
Home from the hospital. Everything went really well. They managed to do the surgery both laproscopically and robotically! Got everything and no surprises. Now it’s recovery. I hurt and I’m really tired, but I’m glad to have that part behind me. Thanks for the well wishes!