The C-Word – Part 16: Optimism

The C Word – Part 16: Optimism

I haven’t been writing as much lately. One reason was the holiday crunch – feeling as if I had to make cookies and mail cards and such. Another reason is that there’s not been much to report. I’m feeling well – almost “normal” if that’s an acceptable term. Chemo Round 9 was fairly uneventful, and I’ve just completed round 10. There are a few moments of nausea and occasionally a bit of diarrhea in the days immediately following treatments (and the ‘roids) but I believe strongly that the act of fasting: not eating between dinner the previous day through my chemo appointment has helped keep those side effects in check.

A big part of my healing journey has been emotional. I let the guided meditation I do each day choose me, rather than me choosing it, setting intentions for the meditation of course. A lot of interesting things have been coming up for me in my digging. I’ve done inner child work, cord cutting, energy light healing, chakra clearing and flow meditations. Now I’m delving into shadow work. All of it is important to me. All of this work is bringing me forward towards my next evolution.

 I have this beautiful, numbered and signed print I bought at an art fair during the summer after I graduated university, just before moving to Boston. It’s by an artist named Louise Bussiere and it’s called, “The Pinnacle”. It depicts a woman standing on a precipice, with the force of all her wisdom and knowledge rising like a powerful wave to push her forwards into the unknown mysteries of the challenges and adventures which await her beyond, armed with all that swirling wealth of wisdom and experience. I’ve been thinking about that piece a lot lately. Unfortunately, it needs a new frame and as such is not currently displayed in our home but I dug it out today just to sit with her for a bit. I felt like her when I was setting off on my first adventure, moving to the bustling energy of the East Coast from the quiet simplicity of life in small-town Minnesota and Wisconsin. And today, I feel like her again. A pioneer spirit. A warrior. A student of life’s mysteries. This year has taken me from the deepest depths of fear and anxiety to a place of love, gratitude, groundedness and optimism.

“The Pinnacle” by Louise Bussiere

As I’ve mentioned, one of the biggest lessons for me this year was to learn to receive and accept love and support from more people in my life. I’ve always been a person who loves to GIVE, but I’ve been uncomfortable with RECEIVING. A lot of that comes from childhood – from Mom’s unwillingness to accept gifts of help, with the idea that to accept charity would somehow be a reflection of defeat or weakness. She was even offered a partial scholarship to college but wouldn’t accept it, thinking it was charity. You see, she’d had polio. (yup, another destructive virus which we don’t have to worry about anymore due to the advent of VACCINES… but I digress.) While she had polio, she missed a full year of school. Because she couldn’t walk. Her sister brought her homework home so she wouldn’t be held back, but her emotional development was definitely stifled by the experience. She missed a year of social life with friends and classmates.  She received cards and notes and gifts of money from relatives, which I think made her feel embarrassed. She was never a limelight seeker. A Scorpio like myself and my husband, she more fully evokes the “behind the scenes” aspect of the Scorpio nature. She used her “polio money” to buy herself a beautiful fringed deerskin jacket, which I still treasure. I think the jacket may have been in an attempt to return to school appearing tough, and not weak after her invalid year.

Mom loved western movies. In her youth she’d had a bit of a reputation as a neighborhood ruffian, especially when they were playing western-style. She insisted that everyone call her by her middle (Lee) and last name (Roy) instead of the nickname she’d been given at her birth, “Cookie”. Her given name was Carolyn. She was born the very same week in which the comic strip character Blondie and her sandwich-loving husband Dagwood gave cartoon birth to their own little daughter, Cookie. But Lee Roy was a tougher name. It sounded more like a cowboy name, she thought.  There’s a childhood story everyone loved recalling whenever we visited her hometown. Apparently, my aunt Carmen was being picked on by a neighborhood boy while they were playing, and mom was having none of it. She picked up a board and cracked it in half over the poor boy’s head, sending him screaming home to his mother. He wasn’t seriously hurt, so everyone had a good laugh about it which still continues, decades in the future.

I’ve always been aware of the similarities and differences between me and my mom. As I’m sure we all are aware of those traits in our parents which we hope to either cultivate or avoid in ourselves. Doctors and healers use our genealogy to predict potential health problems. Psychiatrists and therapists help us connect with our past experiences in order to identify the effects of trauma and create healthier neural connections. Historians look back on the evolution of our society based on the effects of the actions of people who came long before us. And we still feel the reverberations of those past experiences today. The shadows of the actions of those who tried to evoke change, no matter how small. It’s as if all my past work and the creative energy of all those who have come before is buzzing, resonating, vibrating around me in a new way.

This whole year I’ve felt a bit like a science experiment: poked, pricked, prodded, cut, stitched, infused, emptied and re-filled. I’ve adapted to a lifestyle of doctor appointments and bloodwork and nutritional supplements. It’s not a lifestyle I ever thought I’d have. I hope that is a temporary routine, but I’ve learned I can handle it if I have to. I’ve also adapted to a lifestyle filled with love, meditation, yoga and greater acceptance. That is the lifestyle I wish to carry forward with me as I plunge myself into new projects and adventures.

I have such a clear vision for my future now that I can hardly wait to begin fully manifesting it. I’m anxious for my next surgery, but only because it brings me one step closer to me being able to make my career dreams come true.

Keepin’ up the good work! Hope you are, too!

One more round of chemo! And then, I’m hoping to take a healing retreat before surgery, to get myself as strong as possible so my recovery is smooth! Fingers crossed that travel remains accessible, but whatever adversity comes my way, I shall do my best to handle it, as always, with grace and ease. Namaste, y’all!

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