Category Archives: Recovery

The Waiting Marathon

I find myself hovering on the edge of a knife, trying desperately not to topple over into the Land of Schizophrenia. How am I supposed to sit quietly and continue recovering when paradise is waiting for me just a hop and a skip across the Pacific Ocean?

my papaya

This is the first papaya I harvested from one of the trees in my new garden. I had to wash some sort of white goo off its skin (Gekko guano? I don’t wanna know.) and artfully place some chunks of lemon to hide its blemishes, but it smelled like fairy breath and tasted like the first blossoms of dawn. The garden is young; in time there will also be avocados and lemons.

We did all the fancy tap dancing required to get the cats past quarantine. Their microchip numbers are listed on the Holy List of the Acceptable and now we have to wait 120 days. I don’t understand why. They have all been vaccinated and their blood examined by the People Who Decide These Things. They do not have rabies. They cannot get rabies. But we are told to wait and so we do, while visions of tropical fruit dance in our heads. Each night, we toast each other saying, “I don’t want to be here.”

Perhaps it is as it should be. The next three months will give us time to sort slowly and lingeringly through the detritus of 32 years of living on this tiny, delightful island. It’s harder than I realized it would be. The new house is light and airy and I want to keep it that way, so I will bring an absolute minimum of junk with me. I’ve gotten down to two small photo albums, three favorite reference books and a couple of novels. I’m picking out special items to send to people who matter, saying sayonara to things that don’t matter, making peace with separation, making peace with myself.

Everything points to this being the right move to make. A lot of things have come together in a final-feeling sort of way, almost as if Japan is giving us a gentle nudge toward the airport, tearfully waving a handkerchief at us from the departure gate. It’s been a good run, but to quote Douglas Adams, “So long and thanks for all the fish.”

I’m trading in a tiny island for an even tinier one, earthquakes for volcanoes, power tools for coqui frogs, nomiyas for luaus, salarymen for aging hippies, bicycles for surfboards, konnichiwa for aloha, Amaterasu for Pele. I’ve been making a mental list of things I will and won’t miss. The won’t list is longer.

I can’t wait to see how all of this is going to unfold.

Me on triceratops

 

Advertisements

Horsepower

For a long time, each new year has felt like a temporal follow-on from the previous one. What difference does a new year make? Turning the page on a calendar doesn’t mean anything. Time doesn’t care how we count it. Time just is. Time moves forward; nothing changes.

But this year is different. With a silent whoop I tossed last year’s calendar in the trash. For once, there is something to celebrate. Last year was harsh. After the initial shock and fear, there was a slow dawning of the enormity of what lay ahead. After a time, I was moving on autopilot, incapable of even thinking about the future.

Most of what I did last year was passive. I had surgery, slept in the narrow bed, I ate the horrid food (sometimes). I opened the door to the doctor’s office, week after sweaty summer week, and received my chemo treatments. I walked to the hospital day after crisp autumn day and lay still for radiation. It would have been so much easier to run away.

kids statue

I spent an entire year having things done to me. I was the horse hitched to the wagon, the bit between my teeth, the reins being pulled by drivers I couldn’t see. I plodded along the trail, hoping I would reach my destination even though it seemed that each step forward pushed it farther away.

I feel as if an earthquake has shaken all the merchandise off the shelves in my internal warehouse. I see a mountain of mess, hair clips and a Barbie doll and a rubber snake and Christmas wreaths and chocolate cookies and tarnished earrings and broken dishes and knotted shoelaces and a one-eyed Teddy bear, a scratched record, some snarled yarn, a battered shoe box, a single sock.

Some of these things can be dusted off and returned to the shelves. Some can be salvaged, a bit of glue, some polish, a button. Some are lost causes. The coming months will see me sorting through the flotsam of me and trying to make sense of it, putting the pieces back together where I can, figuring out what no longer serves.

To do that, I will eat well, sleep a lot, watch butterflies flit and smell the flowers. I will also do yoga.

adriene

This is Adriene. She just started TRUE: 30 Day Yoga Journey. It’s online. It’s free. It’s the foundation I need to start getting back on track, start reminding my muscles and my spirit of what they can do, what they need, where they are going. Adriene has a an easy nature and a wonderful smile and manages to bring me back to the mat, day after day. There are hundreds of yoga classes online and I have tried many of them, but I keep coming back to Adriene. She is part of my journey.

I have been doing yoga long enough to appreciate the Zen it represents, the thousands of years of practice and millions of practitioners who have put their lives, their bodies, their faith into its calm, gracious power to heal. I know the joy of a pose feeling right regardless of how it looks, the freedom of air moving through my lungs, the pulsing electricity of blood flying through my veins, the serenity of balance, the golden, fleeting, priceless gift of each moment that no longer exists once it passes and yet is eternal in my memory.

A friend said I am a fierce woman ready to take 2018 and squeeze every last drop of magic out of it. Amen, sistah. Someone left the barn door open and I’m ready to bolt.

In 2018, I will heal.

mystic me

Day Five

150204_1027~01Coming down the back stretch of this filming marathon, she’s intent, engaged, fully absorbed in the job. She’s taking this seriously, her professionalism a gleaming example for all who will come after.

She’s not thinking about Candy Crush or constantly checking Facebook. She’s not visiting the snack basket and stuffing herself with almonds swathed in creamy, smooth chocolate. She’s not getting the puppet people to take silly pictures of her and then writing in her blog.

Actually, every “not” in the second paragraph should be moved to the first one. What she’s really doing is all of that plus fake yoga in a fake chair.

150204_1027~01Things are not always what they seem.

But one thing in the first paragraph is true; I am more engaged. I’ve arrived at just about 300 days smoke free and all sorts of things are changing. Instead of dashing outside for a smoke at the first hint of a break, I sit calmly. I talk to people, commiserate, build relationships. I am more a part of the moment. The process of rebuilding my life, rebuilding me, means not only me looking at the world in a different way, but also me finding a different way to fit into it.

The more I learn about smoking, the more I’m coming to understand that the physical craving for nicotine is only a small part of the overall addiction. I am unlearning a whole slew of knee jerk reactions and defense mechanisms that I’ve come to realize I never really needed in the first place.

Doing this kind of work is a lot like quitting smoking. It takes patience, dedication, patience, endurance, patience, patience, patience and patience. I just need coping strategies. For this job, I have to leave my house and ride trains seemingly forever to get to the studio, then turn around and do the reverse, six times each, for a total of 12. Coming here this morning was trip #9; going home tonight, if we ever finish, will be #10. Tomorrow I get to complete the dozen. They say that only 7% of quitters make it through the first year, but 80% of those fabulous people make it through the second. This moment is significant because I am at the same point in the dozen as I am in that first year.

One more day; two more months. See you at the finish line. I know I’m going to make it.

Just a thought….

I read somewhere that when you are born, perhaps just for the briefest of moments, you are the youngest person on the planet and therefore unique. At first that struck me as such a charming thought. But then I realized that birth is not something you choose. Instead, it is chosen for you, and you certainly can’t take any credit for it.

What really matters, what can make a difference, is whether or not you manage to find that uniqueness again, as your own choice, whether you choose to make that choice and follow through with it, whether you have the bravery to look within yourself and find your one unique thing and then find a way to share it, and let others share their uniqueness with you.

This is not something I’m good at. For too many years, my cancerous little friend was my best friend and constant companion. I do not miss him but I’m still learning how to live without him. I had no idea how strong his hold over me was.

Farewell and good riddance, my false-faced friend. In fact, not even farewell. I hope bad things happen to you. I hope it rains every day until the tomatoes in your garden are nothing but bug-infested mush. I hope all of your toenails become ingrown. I hope all four tires on your car go flat and you slam into a concrete wall and your airbags don’t inflate. I hope they create some new bad things to happen to you that have never happened to anyone before.

That could be your shot at uniqueness. Enjoy.