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Matthew Fox’s above memoir entails his journey from boyhood to priesthood in the Roman Catholic Church, to his expulsion from the Church, and to his
second ordination with the Episcopal Church.  And, that’s as far as I’ve read. Read the rest of this entry »

Yay, my friend, Dr. Adele McDowell, has done it again. Huffington Post Canada posted another of her articles. This time, very different from her earlier ones on suicide. In fact, this is the other side of depression and suicide. It is inspirational as she takes the fictional character of James Bond – 007 who can face any one and anything and comes out alive and whole.

Don’t we wish we could do that. It is no wonder that we idolize heroes (and heroines) who can face any danger, look a gun in the face, fight any fight! It is really because we wish that we could do that but don’t think we can. Then, Adele tells her own personal story of danger and courage. Sometimes, one never knows of what one is capable until faced with a dire circumstances. And, of course, there are many kinds of danger from which one can test courage.

For those who have undergone any kind of trauma – abuse, accidents, life threatening illness, etc. – it takes a lot of courage to overcome the incident or incidents. When one has been abused and put down at every turn, the message is that “you are nothing, you will never amount to anything, you. will never be able to protect yourself, you are a coward…..”. And, if the trauma is severe enough, then there is post traumatic stress disorder (ptsd) with which one has to go through. PTSD, for those who may not know, is not just a mental memory. When PTSD comes on – and sometimes the survivor doesn’t even know what triggers it or even what is happening – it is like the trauma is happening all over again. So the survivor is no longer his/her chronological age and doesn’t realize that he/she is actually safe, the memories that come flooding back impact the mind, the body reactions, the fears or shocks of that particular time.

I know because being a survivor or child sexual and physical abuse, as well as undergoing many life threatening illnesses, I am understanding more and more my work, as well as the healing work I’ve done with clients, in overcoming PTSD. I still get bouts of it, but having worked on these issues, I am now able to name the triggers as well as the times PTSD comes over me. I can’t say that I can get out of it immediately – although sometimes I can – but I can at least know what’s happening to me. What that does is that I know it’s not happening again, that I am safe, and that I can sum up the courage to speak up, to protect myself, or to help others. I remember that I am no longer 4 when I was abused, or 10 or 12 when I almost died from an illness. And even now, in dealing with cancer these last 4 1/2 years, I know I now can take the small steps to take care of myself.

Will I ever be a “James Bond”. Perhaps not, but in my eyes I let myself acknowledge each time I take any step to take care of myself, knowing each step only leads to more courage every time. This is what came to me as I was reading Adele’s article. For me, it came at a time when I’m not only dealing with cancer, but shingles these past few weeks. Shingles, unfortunately,  is only one physical ailment in a long line of many that shows me how depleted my immune system is and how much I need to be easy on myself as I navigate these waters.

Perhaps Adele’s article will mean something entirely different to you, but I urge you to read it and see. And, Adele, I’m so proud of you for sharing your very personal story and the courage you had in protecting yourself.


MAKINGPEACEWITHSUICIDE_FrontCvr_Final_web72dpiIt’s been a long while since I’ve blogged, mainly because I’ve been dealing with the aftermath of healing my 2nd bout of cancer, only to learn in the last month that it has returned. This is my 3rd bout of cancer!

Spiritually, my mind recognized that my already 3-year process of  transformation  is not yet complete, even though I thought it was.  Perhaps, I  hoped it was. I questioned, “What is it that I have still to learn”?  Yet, knowing this intellectually didn’t keep me from experiencing the full range of feelings – fear, anxiety, grief, worry, anger, etc. Read the rest of this entry »

article-2290831-188A3759000005DC-969_310x456I had forgotten that I started this draft in July and never finished, but I wanted to publish it anyway. Please note that I will have a more up-to-date blog very soon!

Some things haven’t changed with my trip to Alaska. While I still fight fatigue, I realize that there are times that I have more energy, that I feel almost “normal”.

And, I am still dealing with acid reflux. It is constant now, on a daily basis.  Even though I had this condition on and off after the last bout with cancer, I’m not sure exactly when this became an everyday thing.  I think it was several months after the surgery. So, I am even more careful with what I eat, when I eat and the amount. It feels like any little deviation can set it off.

There are times that I despair I will ever fully heal, that the acid reflux in the intestinal area might cause the tumor to return. Mind you, I have no scientific proof that this condition has anything to do with the cancer.  That doesn’t stop me from worrying.

And then I read Until I Say Good-Bye, by Susan Spencer-Wendel. She contacted amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a.k.a. Lou Gehrig’s Disease, at age 44. This disease is irreversible and systemically destroys the nerves that control the muscles in the body. With a prognosis of one year of remaining health, she chose to live it with joy.

It put my fears and worries into perspective. More than that, it humbled me. Read the rest of this entry »

A trauma survivor’s  first reaction is self-preservation – to defend, to hide, to spend whatever remaining energy to control. Self-preservation is primary, even if it means  she/he closes off thoughts, emotions, and eventually isolates family and  friends.

A survivor, unfortunately albeit understandably, becomes someone who lives in fear.

A survivor never wants to be vulnerable again, never wants to be powerless again.

And, who can blame him/her!

Yet, Brene Brown, author of Daring Greatly, claims that it is only when we allow ourselves to become vulnerable that we can heal. Read the rest of this entry »

etc_stack12__01inline__202, The Power of HabitCharles Dugigg, author of The Power of Habit gives an example of how William James, noted American philosopher and psychologist, dealt with his depression and suicidal ideation:

Today I about touched bottom, and perceive plainly that I must face the choice with open eyes. Shall I frankly throw the moral business overboard, as one unsuited to my innate aptitudes?

James was faced with committing suicide or choosing another path. Read the rest of this entry »

A dear friend, Roxanne, sent me the below poem by the late John O’Donohue, one of my favorite poets.

I think it is so apropos following my last post, The Gift of Cancer.  This beautifully worded poem describes my journey in a way I never could.

This is for all those who are going through or have gone through a life altering disease, also for all their families and friends who share their journey with them:

blessing for a friend, on the arrival of illness
John O’Donohue

Now is the time of dark invitation
Beyond a frontier that you did not expect;
Abruptly, your old life seems distant.

You barely noticed how each day opened
A path through fields never questioned,
Yet expected deep down to hold treasure.
Now your time on earth becomes full of threat;
Before your eyes your future shrinks.

You lived absorbed in the day to day,
So continuous with everything around you,
That you could forget you were separate;

Now this dark companion has come between you,
Distances have opened in your eyes,
You feel that against your will
A stranger has married your heart.

Nothing before has made you
Feel so isolated and lost.

When the reverberations of shock subside in you,
May grace come to restore you to balance.
May it shape a new space in your heart
To embrace this illness as a teacher
Who has come to open your life to new worlds.

May you find in yourself
A courageous hospitality
Towards what is difficult,
Painful and unknown.

May you use this illness
As a lantern to illuminate
The new qualities that will emerge in you.

May the fragile harvesting of this slow light
Help you to release whatever has become false in you.
May you trust this light to clear a path
Through all the fog of old unease and anxiety
Until you feel arising within you a tranquility
Profound enough to call the storm to stillness.

May you find the wisdom to listen to your illness:
Ask it why it came? Why it chose your friendship?
Where it wants to take you? What it wants you to know?
What quality of space it wants to create in you?
What you need to learn to become more fully yourself
That your presence may shine in the world.

May you keep faith with your body,
Learning to see it as a holy sanctuary
Which can bring this night-wound gradually
Towards the healing and freedom of dawn.

May you be granted the courage and vision
To work through passivity and self-pity,
To see the beauty you can harvest
From the riches of this dark invitation.

May you learn to receive it graciously,
And promise to learn swiftly
That it may leave you newborn,
Willing to dedicate your time to birth.

I read an article on love.  So, this precedes my Part 2 of Cancer- Crisis and Opportunity, a blog that is evolving as I continue my journey.

Yet, I am coming to realize that many life threatening diseases are exactly about the LOVE THAT IS MISSING IN OUR LIVES. Read the rest of this entry »

“You do know that your tumor is malignant, don’t you?”

This is how the oncologist informs me of my condition on December 23, 2011.  After the initial shock, my qigong breathing kicks in, and I recall that the Chinese character for crisis is the same as the one for opportunity.*

Slowly breathing in and out, I make a real effort to remember this as my children, Jennifer and Matthew, and I absorb the news that I have cancer.

This is my second bout with cancer. 1994 ended with a dx of  a malignant polyp in the colon.

This time, the dx is a malignant gastrointestinal stromal tumor, one that appeared at the end of Nov., 3 days before I am due to fly home from my year’s sojourn in Bali and Singapore, back to the U.S.

I now know that this tumor is a slow-growing one that just decided to suddenly pop up. It reminds me of the Taoist Qigong Masters’ stipulation that the disease is inside the body for a long time before the symptom appears.  And, so, this may have been inside me the whole time I was away in Bali and Singapore all of 2011, and I didn’t know it.

Even as I remember crisis and opportunity, at the same time, I wonder how I am to deal with yet another trauma in my life!

Read the rest of this entry »

Read the rest of this entry »

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