The last couple of weeks have been tough. Busy, busy, busy - like a hamster on a wheel. Going nowhere - really fast. Working all the time, feeling like I'll never catch up, and it was really getting me down. Last month I got this tremendously great news about my health, but I've been catching myself in the throes of negativity more often than I'd like to admit. I was certainly off-track of my normally positive outlook. How do you practice what you preach, Girlbert? The answer wasn't coming as quickly as I would have liked, so I wrote this little reminder for myself. Maybe it'll be helpful for some of you, too.
Here some of the tricks I use to stay on track in the practice of a happy, healthy life:
I meditate. Every day - even if it's just for a few minutes. I try to stop and focus on my breathing: Inhale...Exhale. So simple, and does wonders for my stress level!
I journal. I never know when I'll need to jot something down, so I keep a small notebook with me. I tell people that good or bad, it's better to get it out of your head and on paper than let it take over your mind. Then you can look at it on page and determine if it's worth more of your energy.
I stop what I'm doing when I'm hungry and make food for myself. I make a point to consciously feed my body healthy food.
I get outside and enjoy nature. I appreciate all of the earth's creatures and taking the time to admire them renews my sense of wonder and humility.
Find the humor and laugh! There's something funny in every situation (I promise!), and if you can do that, you'll get through anything.
I cry if I need to, then pick myself up and move on. But most importantly, don't bottle it up - let it OUT! It's okay to be angry/sad/whatever, as long as you address it and move on.
I make time for the things I love to do. It's important to have a hobby or creative outlet. I started taking a watercolor class through the Cancer Center this fall, and I'm having a blast learning how to paint! Learning something new is so good for your mind, and being an art student reminds me that we're all students in the lesson that is life! I've also recently begun to take more time for my horse and my horse friends and that's been good for my spirit and to reconnect with the horse girl inside me. Reminds me that I'm still a horse girl, just waiting to get back in the saddle.
I exercise. Okay, not every day, but I try to do something to get my blood pumping at least every other day. Then I yoga or do some pilates at home on days in between. I admit I'm not a big fan of exercising for exercising's sake, but I've seen the results of with vs. without: My blood counts (taken every week) are more stable, my mood is better, and I definitely have more energy with exercise. (Don't they have some research to prove that, somewhere, too?) Not to mention I look better with a little muscle on, and who doesn't like to look good? A shaman once told me, "if you look good, you feel good."
And I have to give credit to so many healers, friends (animals, too!), shamans, energy workers, family members, doctors, holistic practitioners, and some people I've never even met; for inspiring me to be better, learn more, and HEAL. So put yourself out there - you never know who you'll meet, what you'll learn, or what you'll get back. Know that your energy, love, and support will be returned, times ten!
So there's more to the title of that last post - much more - but I opted to quit with just the facts last time. Just get everybody up to speed with the story, while taking a little more time to process and plan Part Two.
As I wrote the previous post, something struck me as I typed the words, "Believe It." They appeared on the screen before me, and I realized I had much more to share than "Just the facts, m'am". One of my mantras over my years of exploration into my own spirituality, my mission in this lifetime, on this planet; has been "If I believe it, well then it must be true," or "If you believe that, that it will be true for you." I'm always telling people: "There is so much power in what you think!" Also, "Write down what you want, and you'll have it."
I was really lucky to have this really great riding instructor, professor, and mentor in college whose mantra was, "There's no sense in practicing at all, if you're going to practice the wrong things. Practice correctly, or don't practice at all." She was, of course, talking about riding horses, but I've carried that mantra with me through all aspects of life. She's also one of the happiest, cheeriest people I know, so I'm pretty sure she applies this statement to her whole life, too.
I didn't realize how to apply it to more than riding then, but I see it so clearly now. I've been working for a long time toward the goal of being happy, and more recently, toward health. Obviously the two go hand in hand! So I practice happiness, instead of sadness. I practice making healthy choices, instead of unhealthy choices. This isn't to say I'm always happy or healthy, or that it's easy. But I make a conscious effort to practice correctly. If I get off course, I make a correction. And I learn from my mistakes. And I believe that I will achieve my goals. I write down what I want. I imagine myself succeeding. And I know anything is possible, as long as I believe it.
I struggle with doubt, sure. I have to fend off plenty of sadness. There will always be obstacles, but the point is to not let my mind be one of them. But I've made a practice of believing everything will work out in a positive way, provided that I stay focused on the positive outcome. I've had plenty of help from healers, shamans, and energy workers to help drive that point home throughout the years, and it's finally starting to stick. I'm still a student and life is one lesson after another, but practice makes perfect.
Today is my late Grandma Tomlin's 100th birthday. Even as a silly, eye-rolling (all grandchildren do that, right?) kid, I appreciated my Grandma's incredible strength, humor, and that she was a horse girl, like me. As I got older, I recognized and admired how she held her incredible strength and sense of humor through all things. Grandma "T" was a divorced, single mom in the fifties, LONG before it was the thing to do, and she raised my dad to amazingness in spite of how hard it must have been. She never stopped laughing, and making all of us laugh, even as her body and mind began to fail her before she passed away.
To celebrate this big day for Grandma and I, I'd like to share a funny story about my most recent stay in the hospital.
I had been meditating in my hospital bed, Boyfriend sound asleep to my left, when the nurse came in to take my vitals at 5:50am. "Good morning, I'm Jenny. Sorry to wake you, but I need your vitals." "It's okay - you already get brownie points because your name is Jenny - one of my closest friends is a Jenny." "Well actually the latin version is Juanita, but I go by the American version because I like it better." "Really? I didn't know the American version of Juanita was Jenny. Juanita was my grandma's name. I guess it's no coincidence I like Jennys, huh?" Or that I had just been talking to Grandma T.
I have long sought out Grandma's strength and humor during my own hard times, knowing that I hold some piece of her within me. And it never fails - Grandma has always been there when I need her. So I'm celebrating her all the more today by taking her with me as I go for my first radiation treatment.
Hours prior to my release from the hospital on Thursday, my shaman called. I hadn't spoken to him all week, but a mutual friend made him aware of my condition and subsequent hospital stay.
"Lisa, a great shaman and teacher with whom I trained with in Nepal, is in LA for the weekend, and I've arranged for you to meet with her on Saturday at 10am. Can you be there?"
He had no idea that barring any hang-ups with my discharge from the hospital, I was planning on being in LA for the weekend while Boyfriend did some sailing work. Crazy. Timing.
Everything slid into place, and the trip was underway. The numbness continued in my left side on Friday, with one instance of increase tingling and vibration in the car, but I shut it down quickly with meditation and breath.
Saturday I took a cab to and from the hotel to meet A. Gratitude and humility overwhelmed me upon introduction to the shaman. and her translator, I sensed that this tremendous opportunity was an indication that the universe was hard at work. For me. I told my story before she began her work. The translator interpreteted her words as she resonated with my situation and performed a healing ritual and blessing.
"The planets are very unhappy with you - they have been since you were 24 years old." The year I moved to Colorado.
"The changes you have made recently are good - they are helping, and you must continue." I clarified that my increased spiritual practice was a step in the right direction. I had actually began increasing my spiritual practice a couple of weeks back, and have been meditating for several hours a day now since. The shift has been quite profound.
"Yes, that has been very helpful - the gods see that you are helping yourself, and they want to help you. But the next 6-7 months will be very hard - you must continue your practice, continue with the work and the changes, it will help immensely. After those months, things will get much easier for you." The translator relayed instructions from the spirits as to rituals and exercises I need to practice on my own as I move forward. Lots of homework.Homework is good.
"You need to pursue western medical treatment as necessary, but keep your body and spirit strong with these exercises. Practice them every week, and practice them every day you have your treatments, too. Pray to the spirits and planets to keep you strong and heal you as you move forward." The energy and presence of spirit I felt in that room. was more tangible, more palpable than anything I can do justice with words. Gratitude overwhelmed me throughout my meeting and stayed as I departed with feeling of healing, peace, support and calm.
Back at the hotel, I peacefully reflected I had never felt so grounded and whole in my entire life. The tingling in my left side was GONE. I'm doing this! I'm going to heal myself, and I'm already on my way. Clarity overwhelms.
After racing on Saturday, Boyfriend picked me up and we attended dinner with the owners and crew of the red boat. A marvelous group, with a couple of breast cancer survivors among them, all shared their hugs, well wishes, stories and strength with me throughout dinner. Thank you. And despite the increased activity on my mind and body, even after a week of bedrest, not a sign of a tingle, much less a seizure, all night!
Sunday while Boyfriend raced, I split my time in the hotel between meditating and utilizing the high-speed wireless and down time to gather information on the chemo-radiation treatment options I'm facing. So I have lots of notes for my appointments this week, beginning this morning with my appointment at the Cancer Center of Santa Barbara with my radiation oncologist, Dr. S. Can't wait to learn more as I proceed with tuber-removal planning.
Still no sign of a tingle. It's go time, little tuber.
I was crying again. We were on a hike, trying to get some down-time in before we needed to pack for our trips.
Poor Boyfriend. Even I wanted to scream at myself, "Again? With the crying?"
But he hugged me close instead. "It's okay honey, let it out, let it flow."
There's that word again. FLOW.
I know I'm angry. I know I'm repressing my anger. A shaman told me that anger is fire, and fire could be balanced with more water in my life. I need to learn how to flow like water. Take a swim. Watch the river flow. Do my yoga with the intention of flowing like water. Go with the flow.
"So if I'm angry, I can let the tears flow?" "Yes, just feel what you feel. Let it out." "Darn it." "What's wrong?" "My contact just exploded from the crying. Ugh, I can't see..." "Just close your eyes. You don't need them to see - just listen instead."
Suddenly I heard it. The sound of the river flowing beneath us we sat on a rock above the bank. And everything was clearer.
Sometimes a flood of tears is the only way to wash away the flames.
People have been asking me for a health update. I've been meaning to write it but so much has been happening creatively and energetically, I've been procrastinating. I mean, who wants to talk about her brain tumor when there are so many other exciting things to do? Seriously.
But it's time. Mostly because I think I've spoken to enough doctors and reiterated the information to enough family members and close friends that I'm actually capable of writing an intelligent update at this point. A week ago, not so much. Who knew that I would someday speak fluent medical-ese?
To get you caught up.
I suffered a seizure almost a month ago when I was home alone. I had stayed up way too late, been working way too hard, and I've been really stressed for over six months now. The seizure, head trauma and resulting swelling caused two mild seizures (for which I was concious) a few days later, the day Boyfriend took me to the ER. A CT scan in the ER revealed that I have a fairly good-sized brain tumor in the right temporal lobe of my brain. I was informed by the ER doc that what I had experienced, both unconsiously and consciously were in fact seizures. I was immediately admitted to the hospital for a week of tests and observation.
What the doctors are saying.
7 out of 8 of my western doctors* agree on the the basics of my situation: The combination of the tumor's presence and my stress level caused the first seizure. The sample taken from my biopsy, the size of the tumor, and my PET scan all indicate the tumor is slow-growing, low-grade, not aggressive, not metabolizing sugar, and only 10% of the cells are reproducing. Surgery and radiation aren't worth the risk at this time. Unless the tumor appears to grow or become more aggressive, it can be monitored very well with MRIs every two months. Oral chemo may shrink the tumor, but there's certainly enough time to feel out more options; there's no rush. All eight doctors do agree that I need to talk to specialists for more information and continue taking Keppra to prevent another seizure. I'm an otherwise healthy 32-year-old woman with a brain tumor.
*The eighth doctor believes that it was solely the brain tumor's presence that caused my seizure. But I KNOW how over-tired and stressed out I've been, so if I get a vote, I'm with the other seven.
What I'm doing for now.
I intend to follow up with the referrals to specialists by my doctors, and whatever tests and MRIs would allow me and my doctors to monitor the tumor. I am staying on the anti-seizure meds for now - my mind has become much clearer over the last week, although I still have to be careful not to try to do too much in any given day.
I have heard many good things about the oral chemo regimen, but will need to do my own research prior to signing on for the ingestion of 2 years worth of chemicals. I've been told that some people have all of the adverse reactions and none of the benefits; some are helped remarkably and have no nausea or side effects.
I've long been a student of metaphysics and alternative therapies, so pursuing alternative and mind-body medicine to treat my condition is an obvious route. I've spoken with many of my metaphysical friends and holistic health care providers for their ideas, support, and energy work. I've been doing some energy work with a magnificent shaman to whom I've just been introduced but have heard about for many months. He has given me homework to do - homework that I've intended to do for a long time anyway, but am now hyper-compelled to do, since being notified that I have a brain tumor. There are no accidents.
I will also be managing my health nutritionally, taking supplements and eating food with anti-cancer and tumor-fighting properties. Most of you know that I lead a fairly healthy lifestyle and eat really healthy anyway. I'll be consulting a nutritionist friend and this book to amp up my nutrition even further. Since my diagnosis I've been craving even more raw, fresh fruits and veggies than normal, so I'm thinking my body already has a good sense of what to do.
I've been doing my energy work, meditation and yoga practice daily. Sometimes I'm joined by Kitty and Boyfriend and it's good to have (even more) support! I've been working less, relaxing more, and writing, writing, writing. I've been allowing myself to breathe and do what I love, and it's resulting in an increased level of synchronicity in my life! Amazing new contacts, dear old friends and fabulous opportunities abound!
Next week I'm headed to Denver to stay with friends for the 2+ weeks Boyfriend will be sailing in New Zealand. I'll be relaxing with friends, both human and equine, and meeting with some healers there.
The picture at right shows the tuber's progression over the last 20 days. My hard work is paying off - you can see that that it's shriveled to a mere raisin of its former, tubular self.
I'd been lying awake for hours, head pounding, mind spinning, neck screaming, when I decided I should just get up and start writing.
Positivity is eluding me right now. To say that I'm terrified would be a severe understatement. While I know I'm supposed to be kicking ass on this tumor, I'm allowing it to consume me while I bury my head in a giant pile of debt.
I need a sign that everything is going to be okay. I need the universe to show me, unquestionably, that it's going to be okay. NOW.
Yesterday morning, I had no intention of posting this. I was in a dark place, unsure of myself and my abilities. I only wrote this down because I needed to get these thoughts out of my head and put my needs out to the universe. I often advise my brother to do the same, to write down his thoughts, his needs whenever he struggles with something. So as lay awake staring at the ceiling this morning, I could hear his voice, saying, "Write it down! Mock it up!"
[Thanks, Little Brother.]
I most definitely received my UNQUESTIONABLE sign in my email inbox last evening:
Hi Lisa, I was referred to your site by a friend of a friend of yours, and am in awe of the beauty of your writing, especially with what is going on with you right now. I was wondering if you would be interested in being interviewed for a documentary film project I am working on, you can check it out at www.thelivedexperience.com. Your story (actually more so the way you choose to live your life) touched me very deeply, sending you much love! Kate
Meeting Kate like this, reading her encouraging words, and discovering her fascinating project renewed me with certainty.
Everything's going to be okay.
You deserved to know. Because you deserve to try it, and reap the benefits. What does the universe need to know right now? Write it down. Mock it up! (In the comments, please!)
Warning: This is a stream of conciousness with periods and the occasional line-break. Good luck...
I just hate it when I lie awake for so long, ideas fluttering around in my head, that I forget what to write down. I know, I know, - keep a notebook by your bed, Girlbert. I do, but there are only so many times you can turn on the light and scribble something down before a) your partner wants to kill you, or b) you should just get your ass out of bed and do it justice. And I'm too lazy to deal with the repurcussions of either of those options.
So I have a problem - too many ideas, not enough time to write it all down. I should be grateful - at least I'm not all tapped out. Part of it is the surrounding landscape, so rich and filled with inspiration. I'm having serious attention deficit issues as the weather warms and nature reawakens from her winter slumber. Hundreds of little orange butterflies swooped and flitted around our neighborhood yesterday, seeming to put on a show just for me. And the woodpeckers are the court jesters of the forest, they were in full entertainment mode - practicing their acrobatics and heckling one another all day long. The local turkeys are in full-on mating season the toms march by the house in full display several times a day, the hens nonchalantly following along. The surrounding forest has become a genuine Garden of Eden - luring me from my money-making pursuits and responsibilities behind my computer. I am highly distractable.
I'm also reading again. I haven't read much but manuals on HTML and CSS, online tutorials on content management systems lately. I was terribly excited when I acquired Transcending CSS: The Fine Art of Web Design. Really? What happened to the animal-loving, mystic who sought out nothing but feel-good, self-help books, metaphysical manuscripts, and celebrity autobiographies? When did I learn to absorb information in textbooks? I certainly could have used that skill in high school. But I'm back on Memoirs-of-the-Rich-and-Famous-Train, and it's bringing me full circle on why I left Colorado in the pursuit of my happiness in California.
First came Goldie Hawn's book, A Lotus Grows in the Mud. A fascinating journey, her life is, and who could have anything against someone named Goldie? Of course I was open to it, as I am with most everything, particularly in the realm of alternative medicine and spiritual journeys. I used to have a friend who would roll his eyes at my fascination with celebrities endorsing metaphysics and holistic lifestyles. "If Shirley says it, it must be true," he would sneer, mockingly. It's always been so funny to me what threatens people. I mean, what's so threatening about just believing there is an easy, beautiful, happy way to live? It's true, I know I believe a lot of what those in the spotlight have to say about such matters because I look at them as choices that the people with the most money in the world can afford. And then I think, or do they have all that money because of the metaphysical choices they've made? Or is it both? The chicken or the egg?
But no matter, the point is that when the rich and famous have health issues or get cancer, most of them turn to alternative therapies. They can afford the best western medicine and traditional doctors in the world, but they choose energy therapy, acupuncture, Chinese medicine, instead. And they travel around the world to learn about such therapies, other cultures and other religions. So as much as hanging on the every word of a celebrity touting another alternative therapy makes me look like a whore to celebrity culture, it's what makes sense to me. And as I'm now reading in Shirley's latest book (which I intend to write more about upon finishing), information that resonates with you in some way is your reality, and you should take it very seriously.
So here I am again, absorbing Shirley's wise words regarding syncronicity, spirituality, holistic medicine, and reincarnation, and thinking, this is what I'm supposed to be doing. This is why I'm here. On this planet. In this lifetime.