In the six months that we have been meeting, the eight of us who gather in that room have gotten to know each other in ways other people don’t know us. We talk about things that are largely left unsaid. The people we are closest to in our lives-- our families, lovers and friends--are happy we are alive, ... [Continue Reading]
It’s been two weeks since Karyn left for India, two weeks of being on my own with the kids. I’m six weeks into my training for the Breast Cancer Walk and much of my time each week is spent walking the streets, hills and beaches of Santa Cruz. I’ve been coasting along, enjoying the summer, when suddenly this week, I made a list of all the undone things that were piling up—two manuscripts I took on to edit that I had barely dipped into, the logistical preparations for my retreat at Commonweal, the things I have to do to get Lizzy ready to go away for a month away this summer, all the things I was nagging Eli about, the arrangements I have to make for the animals, the question of where Eli would stay while Lizzy and I were out of town. Suddenly it all piled up and I began to feel ... [Continue Reading]
I wrote this in response to a writing prompt I gave my students, "A pretty little blue pill." I don't have a pretty little blue pill, but I do have a tiny little white pill, a shiny bullet-shaped red and white striped pill, a jelly-filled golden pill, a smelly, clear capsule filled with yellow powder, a rough brown oblong pill, a white elliptical pill, a tiny blue thyroid pill and so many others, I can't remember them all. Before I had cancer, I had the tiny blue pill and an occasional Advil. Now I have mastered the art of swallowing a whole handful of pills with just a couple of sips of water--2 or 3 ounces tops. Now I take pills four times a day. Now I have four plastic pillboxes, each with seven plastic compartments, one for each day of the week. One of these plastic pill boxes is ... [Continue Reading]
When I began training, I bought a great little book at Bookshop Santa Cruz called, Santa Cruz: A Guide for Runners, Joggers and Serious Walkers. It shows all the trails, both urban and rural in the county, with maps, mileage, directions, and annotations.
I’ve decided to gradually work my way through the whole book and to do all the state park trails this summer while I’m training. I’ll head out for these hilly, redwood lined or beach trails on the weekends when I do the long distance mileage and focus on street training during my shorter weekday walks. Since the San Francisco 3-day will be mostly on pavement, I need to put a lot of street miles in.
Last night, I dropped ... [Continue Reading]
I had the great pleasure to be a writing student this past Sunday. I went to a wonderful one-day retreat with Carolyn Brigit Flynn. One of the prompts she gave was a quote from Pamela Eakens masterwork, Tarot of the Spirit. This is how Eakens begins her description of the Tarot card, The Sun:
I’m sitting in my memoir intensive and while my students are pouring their hearts out on the page, writing about the triumphs and challenges they’ve faced in their lives, I’m taking the time to let you know how my training is going so far. Wow! That is to say I really had no idea about the intensity and scope of the time and energy commitment I was making when I plunked down my 90 bucks and registered for the 3-Day-Breast-Cancer walk. As I’ve written before, I haven’t seriously exercised in almost 40 years. In my "good" periods, I’ve taken daily walks to the beach, a round trip of perhaps a mile. In “bad” months, my main exercise has been between the computer and the refrigerator and the bed. I walked over 20 miles this week, swam, biked and did yoga. I walked ... [Continue Reading]
I have come to the conclusion that no matter how much I meditate, how many silent retreats I go to, how much spiritual evolution I achieve (hmmm…the words “achieve” and “spiritual evolution” are oxymoronic, are they not?), I will always have a degree of obsession. I have always been an obsessive person, as long as I remember. When I get into something, I get totally into it—be it a new eating regimen, a work project, or the planning of an event—I fixate on the goal (or the process) and go for it. When I set a goal for myself, I can be incredibly disciplined.
The benefits of this obsessive streak have been manifold—the seven books I have written, the business I have established, the ... [Continue Reading]
Life after cancer feels like this: A giant wave has come into the beach, a tidal wave, it has crashed onto the shore, altering everything in its path. Some things have been destroyed forever, others swept out to sea, still others remain, changed for ever. The water has pulled back out to the ocean and the sea is back to its normal rhythm, breathing in and breathing out, the tides shifting, pulling, releasing. Looking out on the sea, you might think that it is the same and has always been this way, but I know better. For I am the shore that has been scooped out and changed and I do not recognize myself. And although I sit quietly at the shore, I know another tidal wave could come.
Life after cancer feels like this: there is a long tunnel ... [Continue Reading]
Alive, energetic, happy, hopeful. And then the world caved in and I hunkered down in my corner as best I could, laced up my boxing gloves and prepared to take on the world. But I was still a child and no amount of armor or helmets or big gloves could protect me. I sat alone on the bench girding myself for the next fight. Alone, alone, out in the rain, cold and alone. I walked through life doing my best to pretend I was human like everyone else, but always chilled to the bone with loneliness. I was a lone operator even though I pretended with the best of them.
I was not afraid. I jumped off every new cliff, taking risks, spreading my wings and moving again and again into the unknown. And then many years in a cage. Cage of shoulds. Cage ... [Continue Reading]
Looking through my notebook, I found this piece I wrote last November, after Ellen Bass and I spoke at an event celebrating the publication of the 20th anniversary edition of our book, The Courage to Heal. I was struck by the sense of harmony I had at the moment I wrote it. I don't have that sense of equilibrium anymore...
Sometimes, like right now, I feel happy. This happiness has nothing to do with any event in my life. If is as if I am sitting in a place of equilibrium inside myself. I imagine a hammock stretched from the tip of my head to my toes and myself lounging on it easily. There is no tension in my body that wants ... [Continue Reading]