Friday, August 30, 2013


Yesterday I was getting a stack of papers ready to file when I realized that I no longer find my worth attached to how efficient, organized, or on being on top of it all I am. I asked myself, "What am I here for then?" and then promptly wanted to burst into tears.

I had no idea that I had been building my esteem on such flimsiness. I don't even know if I can explain it. I still take pride in doing a good job but there is no frantic energy attached to the outcome. Does that make sense? My worth is not wrapped up in having done my work in record time so that an invisible they can pat me on the back.

Today I visited with a friend who has also had breast cancer. When I shared with her my new realization she reached across the counter, hugged me and affirmed just why I was in my job. They were all reasons that truly matter.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013


I returned to work this week after having the summer off. I made a commitment to myself that I would not belly ache to my co workers about our boss. We've gone through quite a tough change due to downsizing in the past few years and the atmosphere took a downward spiral as a result. It's never rebounded and honestly, rightly so in some ways. Our trust was completely shattered in the company by the way they brutally let a long term employee, close to retirement age, go. But I know that after all is said and done I get to choose my attitude and I just don't want to add to a negative atmosphere. There's nothing worse than going to work where no one wants to be there.

Every day this week I have caught myself ready to push back from my desk to go tell someone, anyone about the latest happening that makes my boss the bad guy. In those moments I've prayed this prayer. Embarrassingly, I've prayed it too many times to count. Often the surrender I feel while doing so makes my eyes sting with tears. It is worth it to give up my petty momentary bitchfest designed to make myself look better at someone else's expense.

I must confess though that I have sent Dearest One several text messages that warn him I will need to vent on the way home.  Thankfully he does not encourage me to think bad about people. You know how that can go? You belly ache about someone and then they join you in the cesspool and then it feels like you have guck stuck to your skin and can't get it off. I'm grateful he knows I am venting and then can let it go.

The week has been exhausting. I am in bed at the same time a toddler goes to bed. Well, considering how much whining I've been tempted to do this week, maybe that's not so surprising.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Words To Ponder

"Fairly late in the catastrophic phase of my illness, I began to understand three facts I'd known in theory since early childhood but had barely plumbed the reality of.  They're things familiar to most adults who've bothered to watch the visible world and have sorted their findings with normal intelligence,  but abstract knowledge tend to vanish in a crisis. And from where I've been, the three facts stand at the head of any advice I'd risk conveying to a friend confronted with grave illness or other physical and psychic trauma. 
1. You're in your present calamity alone, fars as this life goes. If you want a way out, then dig it yourself, if there turns out to be any trace of a way. Nobody - least of a doctor - can rescue you now, not from the deeps of your own mind, not once they've stitched your gaping wound. 
2. Generous people - true practical saints, some of them boring as root canals - are waiting to give you everything on Earth but your main want, which is simply the person you used to be. 
3. But you're not that person now. Who'll you be tomorrow? And who do you propose to be from here to the grave, which may be hours or decades down the road?" 
~ Reynolds Price in A Whole New Life

This was such a worthwhile read. This man lived a path that I wouldn't wish on my dearest enemy. Can't wait to read more of his stuff.


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Blessed Relief

The Sacred Wound               Meditation 22 of 53         

Pain teaches a most counterintuitive thing—that we must go down before we even know what up is. It is first an ordinary wound before it can become a sacred wound. Suffering of some sort seems to be the only thing strong enough to destabilize our arrogance and our ignorance. I would define suffering very simply as “whenever you are not in control.”
All healthy religion shows you what to do with your pain. If we do not transform our pain, we will most assuredly transmit it. If your religion is not showing you how to transform your pain, it is junk religion. It is no surprise that a crucified man became the central symbol of Christianity.
If we cannot find a way to make our wounds into sacred wounds, we invariably become negative or bitter—because we will be wounded. That is a given. All suffering is potentially redemptive, all wounds are potentially sacred wounds. It depends on what you do with them. Can you find God in them or not?
If there isn't some way to find some deeper meaning to our suffering, to find that God is somehow in it, and can even use it for good, we will normally close up and close down, and the second half of our lives will, quite frankly, be small and silly.

If you go to the link in the title of this meditation it will take you to a page where I receive these daily emails from.The one above, in light of all this past year has held, spoke to me this morning. I believe that my inability to find a way to make my wound into a sacred wound was what was leading me to bitterness. I don't know if I have found any deeper meaning to it all. 

One of the insights I gained last weekend during my silent retreat was that I was holding a grudge against the surgeon for my reaction to the way things went with the mixed up pathology report and everything that happened after that. I am grateful for that insight. 

Tonight at Mass I had a strong feeling of consolation. Blessed relief.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

What I've Been Up To

I recently spent three days in silence and solitude. Well, I didn't quite last the full three days. I caved in about three hours before my 72 hours were up. For a first try I was happy with that. Much of the time I was content to be silent and alone. There were times when I just wanted to talk to someone and I felt antsy.

The worst was when I sent Dearest One a text late at night to come make sure the noise I was hearing outside was not a bear. He concluded - after hearing the same noises outside the house later - and because the hair on the back of his neck stood up when he stepped outside - that it was more likely a cougar than a bear. Gives me the shivers to think about it.

My dog stayed with me in the holiday trailer for company - well truthfully I had my dog along so he wouldn't drive Dearest One batty in the house looking for me for three days straight - but I knew if I started talking to the dog I wouldn't shut up, so I didn't.

I found it soothing to sit and look out over our pasture and watch the birds flit between the fence posts and barbed wire. The weather was lovely and warm. A touch of mugginess with plenty of heat. Sitting in my lawn chair reading a book or just sitting and doing nothing. I soaked it up. It felt like a beautifully simple few days.

Three weeks ago today I wrote in my journal, 'the despair has lifted." I am so relieved that it's still true and that I am generally happy these days. Hopeful. Thanks be to God.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Showing Up

"And may you always remember that obstacles in the path are not obstacles, they ARE the path." ~ Jane Catherine Lotter

Yesterday I had coffee with a good friend, the one who suggested I write a lament to God at that gathering we were both at. She said she'd been quite concerned about me after that get together because I seemed so different than I used to be. She gently asked me if anyone had suggested to me the idea of consolations and desolations to me.

Unexpectedly, tears rose within me as I nodded and managed to choke out, "I hope it doesn't last forever." When she commented that I'd been very honest with my feelings throughout this cancer journey I gulped and tried to swallow my tears. I took a few minutes to try and compose myself but was unsuccessful. Through tears I said to her, "It's the most courageous thing I've done."

Crying in a coffee shop is not my idea of a good time. Being with a friend who has no desire to fix me but simply bears witness to my journey is. Those tears were the most painful ones I've experienced in a while.

At my final appointment with a specialist yesterday we talked about amalgamating my experience of this past year into who I am now. He wryly observed that life changing circumstances are just that, life changing. It would be so much easier to accept if my life changing experience seemed to be bearing good fruit. Maybe I need to let go of what good fruit looks like, too.

I returned to the practice of Centering Prayer just over a month ago. It is an internal consent to God's presence and action in my life. This week I started a month long course in Welcoming Prayer. Showing up. That's what I feel like I am doing.

Yesterday showed me that this is where I am at. I trust it is part of a bigger picture. And that desolations do not last forever. This popped into my head as I typed that:

I have always loved this song.

Monday, August 05, 2013

Waning Days Of Summer

I woke in the night and saw stars in the sky. It's been months since it's been dark enough in the night to see stars. It's lovely and bittersweet because it means winter's coming. But not today.

Doing laundry is on my to do list. Earlier I thought of my grandma and how she noted in her diary every Monday how grateful she was for her washing machine. Her wringer washing machine. Mondays and laundry were synonymous in her world. I like the predictability of that.

My priest commented yesterday that he could tell I was feeling better because it showed in my face. It's always nice to have outside confirmation of what is going on inside. I feel better for the most part. No longer feeling depressed. Spiritually I still feel stuck sometimes and I am at a loss as to what to do about that. I am headed to Adoration this week. It is a refuge for me and a laying bare of the soul.

At a meeting the other day I listened to someone just out of treatment, be completely surrendered to their God in incredibly difficult circumstances. I had to ask myself if I was completely surrendered to mine. I feel like being completely surrendered will mean spouting off pat answers that are not based on reality and I have a gagging feeling in my throat at the thought. I will be so glad when I no longer have invisible walls go up in nanoseconds. I just don't know how to get there. I think I am past having walls go up and then someone says something - thanks Jesus for some random happening - and I shut down instantly. It's not how I want to feel.

Open. I want to be open.