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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.

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.”

It is spring and water flows in falls down Mount Tam.  The hills and valleys are various shades of green.

I think of how I was a patient and I was patient.  Now, there is expectation and frustration.   I demand more of myself;  I judge.  How do I stay in the world of non-duality where inside and outside are one, where the poison of chemotherapy is elixir of health?

The beaches of Marin are constantly changing this time of year.  Each time I go, they are different.  Muir Beach may be delivered a new load of rocks, while at Stinson, the sand is packed with waves sometimes covering the entire beach.  I come to see, to absorb the different shapes and colors of the rocks, to see where they are placed.  Some days I notice heart-shaped rocks and other days, conglomerates.

At Stinson Beach yesterday, I picked up rocks that were smooth, and slim as dimes.  I brought two home to rest on my eyelids. I lay down on the floor and my cat Bella immediately climbed aboard and lay down on my abdomen.  We breathed together, in and out.

Charlotte Selver, the founder of Sensory Awareness,  said:  Can you feel the air which goes through you? Can you feel how it comes into you and how it goes out of you? Could you become sensitive to your muscles and skin and all tissues for the air which goes through you and leaves you? Are your tissues awake enough to let the air through and receive what is needed and let out what needs to go out? Can more and more of you be open for this wonderful process?  We call it breathing.

It is easy to notice breathing at the beach.  I release huge sighs.  Sitting at the computer, I am often more constrained.  Lying on the floor, eyes closed, eyes under eyelids may flit about.  The stones remind me to rest, to nest, to notice the seven lovely bones that create my eye socket.  How big can the opening that holds my eye feel to me?  Can I open my eyes like the sun does the moon with light?

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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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