Right now


Mickey and Sophie provide nettle hawthorn  broth. Jasper returns from out of town with reiki and a Little Flower rosary.

Friends and family sending love, prayers, trying to figure out how to stay in touch, possibly visit.

It feels like my body is in hibernation mixed with intuitive yoga poses to ease gastric distress. Lying on my left side with right leg thrown over pillow is comforting and can lead to better sleep (maybe too much)

important conversations and questions about whether this is a confluence of quirky things which are resolving, the “new normal” or herald to prepare for feeling this way more.

Each day I change my mind a dozen times about what this dear body is trying to do. My usual advice to myself is, is there something that would help you feel more physically comfortable or emotionally engaged (without draining you) the next little while?

tell a shakespeare story with toys


i feel disappointed in myself, the times i sleep most of the day away.  today just felt so grey outside, and my stomach was persistently uncomfortable. i did some errands in the morning, but tucked myself back into bed with heating pad at one and didn’t wake up until the five o’clock whistle blew downtown. now low energy. but i’m hoping with music on and some dance moves in between things like laundry, dishes, writing, might get done.

not sure about eating. today feels like a food aversion day. everything i can think of to eat only feels tiresome. there is a banana on the desk that is my most likely subject. the naturopath suggested taking digestive enzymes but the poor enzymes need something to work on.

my dreams are still lingering. in one, i was holding a baby who i would only meet once. i looked into her eyes. i asked my younger sister (expert on all things baby) “Is there a way you can look at them, smile at them, so even if they don’t remember you, they always remember that they are loved?”  (I wonder if my young dad wondered that when we were all babies and toddlers).

i also had an ineffectual teacher dream, (which i have a lot). i was trying to teach but my voice didn’t seem to carry very far (probably because i was wearing a c-pap for my nap). the class had been learning a shakespeare story and there was supposed to be a fancy play where they acted it out. but they were only primary school kids and only one or two was really up for it.

instead i gave them each a couple of toys/puppets and said they should form groups with kids from the other class, and act out the story with the toys.

some of the kids dutifully did so. but most just ran off to play with the toys. one boy kept trying to invent a machine that would shoot an arrow. and some groups were clearly acting out shakespeare fan fiction, using the characters’ names but having the toys talk on cell phones and have fashion and relationship drama.









we all fall down sometimes


I had arrived for the meditation group early. I noticed the leader pull up in her car next to me. The night was so blustery. Windy, cold and rain. I was looking at an email on my phone, in my car, when I heard a thud and then the leader crying out “Help me! Help me!”

I jumped out of my car and went to her. I wanted to make sure her limbs and all were okay. She wanted to stand up right away. I helped her inside the church. She was so shaky and upset. And angry with herself! “What the hell is wrong with me! I’m always in such a hurry!”

We went into the restroom and I helped to clean her bruised bleeding cheek. Her knees and elbow were bruised and bleeding. I asked her to sit down again and she was shaking and in tears. And kept talking with self recrimination of how she had ruined the evening with her stupidity. Others arrived for the class and I could see us all shifting our idea of what we thought the evening would be. Through our phones we found a nearby urgent care. One member who was a friend of the leader offered to drive her there.

Those of us remaining decided to go ahead with the group. Usually our leader does a guided meditation first, but we decided to just meditate in silence. Then read and discussed Pema Chodron’s book “When Things Fall Apart”. We are on the chapter of embracing the idea of hopelessness and death. To become hopeless that we can find permanence and security from all ills can be a freeing concept. (Because, really, permanence and security from ills and death are illusory in this lifetime).

We talked about how society can find it rude to have suffering without following it up with some remark that we have it “under control” or “can beat this thing” or soon everything will be back to normal”

We all remarked on our leader’s reaction of turning anger on herself for falling down. Yet how it fit into the theme of the evening. How we put judgement on ourselves for suffering and accidents, just when ourselves could use the most gentleness. And a reminder that as humans, we are all prone to falling down at one time or another.

whatever a potato needs to do


this morning i woke up thinking of Mr. G, who was my teacher in third and fifth grade. after returning from a week long school break, in fifth grade, Mr. G. told me that he’d had to dispose of one half of my science experiment. the piece of potato growing on the shelf in the classroom, suspended by toothpicks in water, was doing fine. sprouting a happy little potato plant at the top. the one i had left in the dark cupboard, however, had taken on a sinister life of its own. rotting potato with slimy roots, and a horrible smell that filled him with dread when he came back from vacation to open the classroom. he said i could put that in my report without the actual evidence. he would vouch for me.

even potatoes who don’t get what they need still try to express themselves. to make themselves known. maybe even to broadcast their distress. (you can tell i was already beginning to be more of a sociologist than physical scientist).

drinking tea. sitting by the special light that eases the dark closet season of the northwest. this little piece of human potato can’t decide whether she’s flourishing or decaying and so she is always doing a little of both. i guess that’s true of many of us little potato pieces.

in another dream last night the people who were supposed to be helping me PACK so i could LEAVE kept finding interesting things in the moving van and bringing them out, back into the house. i finally went for a bike ride and told a kid skate boarding next to me “it seems like no one can decide if i’m coming or going”. the kid told me “Either way, this next part is really fun” We had gone up a hill and the next long while was a long gentle but fast ride down. we laughed and whooped from the joy of it.

the fogginess of sleep in my head is lifting. outside the sky is clouded over and there is 80% chance of rain, but i have a fun adventure planned with older daughter.

if my self will pause, when it feels that way


we asked the question of how to judge when i can’t “tolerate” a chemo drug. is it only my blood lab numbers that decide? or does morale count? (the “scratch n sob” easy tears, and the 10 pounds lost each month the last few months which is easy to spare but reflects the joy gone out of food and eating. the weariness of “stomach ache all the time”). my oncologist assured us that there are other things besides lab numbers to consider. so i’m on a reprieve from the harder drug, not because i’ve earned it in less cancer, but just because i want to. my body wants a little breather.

older daughter visited with me while i infused the sidekick chemo drug that doesn’t cause as much trouble. we talk with the nurses about jewelry and childbirth and christmas gifts and kiva loans.

after chemo we went to a celebratory lunch for older daughter’s birthday. the daughters and i talk about work and holidays, graduate schools and herbal magic. when we got home we ate the dairy free cheesecake desserts younger daughter had made for her sister. and looked at oregon grape roots and leaves she has harvested with her apprenticeship.

older daughter showed us a video on her phone from two years ago. i don’t know  if i was filming. her dad and sister and i had come to her apartment to celebrate her birthday. the video is her smiling face, all of us joking in the background as we encourage her to light a candle which is also a sparkler. and comes with instructions for “adult supervision” and danger warnings and us singing when the exciting thing was lit. her dad singing “happy dangerous sparkling birthday to you!”.

we still miss him, at every turn.

in the evening i went over to visit jasper’s plants and give them drinks of water. my stomach was full of grumbles and i needed more light, so i took a fast walking tour around the mall. which isn’t as picturesque as my usual nature jaunts but will do for these darker times of the year. then i went to the meditation group. we are reflecting on pema chodron’s “when things fall apart”. there was a story about a young woman warrior facing fear and saying “I don’t know how to defeat you”. fear told her that it is always very loud, and talks very close to your face, but doesn’t really have any power except to suggest reactionary things. if you wait to decide whether the things will really help. if you pause.

and now it’s the next evening and i am soft and pausing and gathering my thoughts gently after a nap. younger daughter has started a new job today, with other possibilities in the hopper. but means i will have the evenings to myself and maybe more writing.

food still isn’t settling quite right. it may take awhile for this beleaguered body to feel better.

i made my dental office happy. we’ve both been trying to figure out who the heck i’ve been paying premiums to all year. my faithful premium i set up an auto-pay for in january, but never received id cards from. i tracked the outfit down and got my id number so someone can pay for my teeth getting their cleanings.

and i felt useful today hosting the small meeting. two others came and we talked about the topic of “self will”. a resonance with the feeling of passivity, or not enough will in some situations. and also the feeling of wanting to control everything, including the messy game of trying to manage other people’s opinions. trying to will the self into perfection. when really, the comfort is just to relax into the divine, and be as good as/bad as everyone else trying to figure it out. (i still need my group for spiritual reasons even though overeating is the furthest down the list of activities i want to do these days).

i may go out for some errands. i’m getting used to doing things in the evenings which feel so dark in the pnw, this time of year.

i write everywhere


my new counselor is kind of stoic. even though i used up half her kleenex box i’m actually feeling better than i have in awhile. i haven’t talked with my doctor yet but i’m planning to take a small break from chemo. this month and next. i didn’t even know how worn out i felt these past months until i felt the relief in my soul from the decision. a reprieve. a chance to just get my bearings a little.

this: organic pineapple juice, coconut water with aloe vera and a little whipped cream, whirled in the nutriblender.

today i’m thinking about all the places i write. i write in paper notebooks with a pen. i write on a word document on the computer. these are places for me to just blab out a bunch of words to the page and then sift through them to see what the heck is going on.

i write status updates on facebook, but tend to only want to share the upbeat things there.  i have this blog, which anyone who is my facebook friend might know about and read. i always wonder if i’m writing too personally for how freely shared it is. and lately feel like i’m not very entertaining of a writer just talking about what tricks my stomach is up to. and then there is the other. remnant of opendiary. where i go to read the words of my wise older brother. and i felt my heart skip a beat yesterday when my special muse did some writing there (the one who loves me, exactly for the eggplant i am). every once in awhile i might want to write something there that feels too tender, and too personal, even for this blog.

i feel so lucky for the writers in my life, who have given expression to complicated feelings and day to day joys. and who have given me such a precious listening.

i am making split pea soup with the smoke flavored bone broth john’s sister gave me, with carrots and leafy greens.

in this moment i feel comfortable. i feel contentment.

cue x file music


It’s a rainy evening. In the background is the theme music from the X Files (daughter revisiting them on Netflix as background for knitting projects).

I was feeling discouraged yesterday after a few days of pain that didn’t feel ameliorated by ibuprofin and medical marijuana. Or the gritting teeth waiting time to be comfortable, can’t concentrate on reading or writing, talking or creating. I know I am fortunate in many ways, but when I can feel the dis-ease of my body I find the sadness and anger for myself and my loved ones. I can feel the exhaustion of this long journey of mine, for me and the people who support me.

Also, diving into the northwest (definitely autumn) after my summer like spree in California these last few weeks, I could feel the neurotransmitters in my brain get blue. And always readjusting emotionally after being in the big huddle of family in California. Even if we can’t ease things for one another there is comfort in being carried along by this large group. Depression was getting a few jabs in the last few days. And necessary tears.

Last night I re-read the info I have about morphine. I have it prescribed but rarely take it, because, frankly, the idea of it scares me. I think because most of my references to it have been in stories about the end of life. But in talks with doctor it is appropriate to use now as needed, to INCREASE my participation in life. It does gentle the pain away quickly, and yet I still feel alert. I took the time release one last night and this morning and the pain responded easily and quickly. I made a daily sheet of tracking some measures (pain, and well being). The doctor had some additional ideas to ease my stomach’s cranky tide, and continued to encourage me to use the morphine in the prescribed manner without fear.

My depression is also lifted by people who care for me nearby and far away. They also lift an emotional burden for me about the daughters, who are wonderful to me, but have wider activities in their lives to let all care-giving fall to them. Michelle came over to help with some house tidying jobs yesterday. Vanessa taking part of her birthday day off today to hang with me at chemo. Coming home to the surprise of Lory stopping by with thoughtful food. Other friends planning to check in, to drop food by. The daughters’ encouraging wishes, and the thoughts and prayers of friends and family far away

I notice I feel shame in filling out my support calendar of needs, and broadcasting them. But really, it is easier for people if they know specific things that would be helpful. And I get meaning/enjoyment from the chance to visit and listen to other people’s stories for awhile. I also know that this is a next level of things to think about. What do I need to arrange, for when my care needs become more than what can be supported informally? I don’t know when that will be, or how it will come about, but I can do the comforting work now of trying to plan well, while there is no emergency in sight.

The light in the sky looks interesting right now. Clouds breaking up at sunset, dramatic.