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I am one who believes in the pause. I inhale, pause, exhale, pause, and sometimes that pause can last a season.

Today, my eldest son is 38. I celebrate his birth, his coming into the world, and what that means to me. I go to Muir Woods and walk in past all people, to be alone with a creek and trees. I sit, feel the words holy, whole, and hole pierce through me. I stand and the sun lights me through trees. I wonder about sunlight through trees. Is there an extra noticing and appreciation, more awareness of how air is shared?

I am old enough now to qualify for a pass for elders. I pay $10.00 and can now enter any national park for the rest of my life. I show my driver’s license, which has a photo of me taken when I had long, blonde hair. “Beautiful tresses,” the man who takes my money and gives me my card, says. I say how different I am now, knowing I wouldn’t trade tresses for what I’ve learned and experienced in these last almost seven years for anything. Almost seven years, and still there is that tremble as the body remembers Fall, and celebrates Spring. Perhaps now the pause and seasons are in everything.

This whole week we live with extra awareness, with more noticing of blessings and giving thanks.

My husband had surgery two and a half weeks ago and is awakened from dreams/nightmares of being invaded.

Naturally! Surgeon’s hands were inside. His psyche knows, and yet the medical world considers him healed. We know there is more.

We need time to heal, time to nourish the soil within. The leaves are falling.

Let each of us feel the feathered fall of leaves, cushioning the inner to better receive, and breathe through change, trauma, and gifts.

I saw the movie Buck tonight, a documentary on the inspiring Buck Brannaman, a “horse whisperer”. He was badly beaten as a child, so he knows that force does not invite cooperation, only fear. He learned from his childhood how to create trust.

I am reminded of my own equine therapy, participated in after I finished chemotherapy and was finishing radiation. We worked with energy and intention to direct first another person, and then, after practice and understanding, a horse. We also had an opportunity to be the horse, to feel the direction from our “human” come to us through their body language and intention. Then, we worked with a real horse, and felt the love that pours from a huge, trusting horse heart.

The horse was a direct mirror for our mood. In the movie, it said to never approach a horse after eating a cheeseburger. I had never thought about it, but, of course that makes sense. A horse is a prey animal, a herd animal. If we approach smelling of meat, and hop onto their back, we are like a lion to them. Their response is fear. How do we approach an animal, person, situation calmly enough and with enough awareness to not cause fear?

That is the practice, the reason we pause to feel our own breath, our own heart, to honor what we want and need. We can whisper care and compassion with attention to how we send and receive.

The reading in Gualala went powerfully well. I see there is a hunger to unite in understanding the power of being fully with each moment, whether one is dealing with illness or wellness. In some ways, it is harder to be present when the energy is there for anger and impatience.

I had the flu this week and was back to lying on the couch content to notice my breath.

I recommend a wonderful book, another great one by Diane Ackerman. It is called One Hundred Names for Love and is about her husband’s stroke. It is a testament to the power of healing. Her husband’s brain scan looks like he would be in a vegetative state, but instead, through work, attention, intention, love, and care, he is able to walk, swim, laugh, joke, and write books.

Yes, there is regret and loss, but there is also a new richness in their lives, and she writes of the importance, as a caregiver, of caring for yourself.

I am in Gualala, at the Breakers Inn, looking out from the Maine Room, watching the waves break. The gulls are ecstatic as am I.

I think of chemotherapy, a poison injected into the vein, so a person may live. I have been given an extension. I soften on the gift, reach out like a caterpillar at the end of a leaf. What now do I taste?

How is the air changed?

I breathe sandwiched, feeling layers of in and out.

I now light a fire, honoring all the elements, earth, air, fire, water, and space, space to pause and consciously notice each breath, each as unique as each wave.

There is a structure on the beach, built of driftwood. Hands carefully took wood found on the beach and created a place to enter, to go inside. Being here, I do the same.

Clare Cooper Marcus takes notes when she listens to Deena Metzger, the poet, speak at a conference for people dealing with cancer – Cancer as a Turning Point: From Surviving to Thriving.

These are Clare’s notes as shared in her book, Iona Dreaming.

Deena Metzger:

The onset of cancer rivets us and awakes us deeply to the sacredness of the body. It provides an extraordinary opportunity to make a shift. Illness in individuals, and in society, is a sign of imbalance. We’re in a culture of imbalance. Healing at this time is a political act. We all have a responsibility to fight for our own lives. “To cure” may be easy;” “to heal” takes much greater strength and commitment. In a struggle for a life that feels right, you are working for everyone. The task is to lead an authentic life. Heal your life and then your life heals you.

Deena continues:

The life force breaks through in our spirit as the cancer breaks through our cell walls. It is the life force that is not being heard. Cancer is the silence breaking out. Ask yourself: Who inside, or out, wants me to be silent? We must speak out, because society is killing us. What matters is finding what is true, what is passionate for you.

It is the first day of the New Year and the light feels delicate, fragile, as though it needs beckoning.

I feel light also, wash and dress carefully, aware there is something precious about beginning.

The air is dewy here today. Rain comes and goes and I feel lifted like the lotus from the pond, aware the lotus, according to Wikipedia, has the “ability to regulate the temperature of its flowers to within a narrow range just as humans and other warm-blooded animals do”. A flower regulating its temperature? I didn’t know. What else will reveal this year?

It is said that children enter school as question marks and come out as periods. May each of us begin and end this year with curiosity intact as unfolding blooms in an open-petaled probe.

The time between Christmas and New Year’s is, for me, a time between, a time of rest and renewal, of honoring and preparing for the year to come. I notice more deeply the light and the dark, and I sit with a book in my lap and a cat, and I look out and within. I notice what is happening inside; I feel what stirs. What is mine to bring forth?

This is a time to receive, to receive my own needs.

The October 2010 Ode Magazine has an excellent article on “Reading, Writing, and Revelation.”

“The Tumor Biology Center in Freiberg, Germany carried out a three-year study in which cancer sufferers recovering from chemotherapy or surgery took part in poetry therapy. Their assignment: Write about the emotions triggered by their disease. The researchers concluded that patients’ well-being improved after they wrote about their feelings.”

I find myself remembering back to five years ago when I was recovering from surgery and contemplating the beginning of chemotherapy.  I felt like life was a game of musical chairs and there was no chair for me, but then, I realized we make our own circle.  We make our own circle, moment by moment, day by day.

It is about being, being in the moment, immersed in the beauty and connection we are.

Winston Churchill wrote:  “The further backward you look, the further forward you can see.”

Look forward and back.  This moment is harvest and seed.

About this blog:

Cathy and Jane started writing together during Cathy's illness, and that writing became a blog, which then became a book!

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