- Wherein shit gets real -
In the mornings I go to the river. I find my footing in the spongy banks and the song of the varied thrush, in the bite of cold on fingertips and the groans of giant conifers. I am an internal processor; this I've come to recognize in the ebb and flow of sharing and silence. The river stones hold my truths while the water washes me clean, again and again, from the clamor of daily living. It is with such bravery we alight on this earth in these physical forms, folding up our stardust for one wild ride; at the river I feel my parts come together in peace and I can breath once more.
Here is a truth:
This month I allowed myself to feel deeply disappointed. Frustrated over not yet receiving the gold star marks of health on my medical paperwork. Fearful of the continuous rise in tumor markers and the confused looks in doctors' eyes as they peer into my face trying to find illness while I perch there looking like the peak of health. I've been sitting in that, experiencing the various levels from despondency to fury to hopelessness to grief. I don't often get that opportunity - correction - I have never taken the opportunity to move through those emotions, to allow myself to feel them, hear them, acknowledge their realness. It's warm and fuzzy and lovely to be happy, but the truth is, our capacity to experience joy is tempered sharply when under the surface lies a host of silenced emotions and unrecognized feelings. She tells me all the time: "We have to move through them in order to release them." This is work. So I flex my hands and close my eyes and invite the muted slivers of self to speak.
Here is a truth:
I live a blissfully gorgeous life. Each week I spend hours, days even, hiking with my dogs in some of the most exquisite country on earth, singing with the Muse and creating art in my light-filled studio, dancing around the kitchen with my loving husband, eating beautiful foods and visiting with dear friends. I also spend many hours each week in medical clinics being poked, prodded and scanned, discussing with doctors what's not working and what experimental treatment I should try next. Still other hours I spend wordlessly sitting on my bathroom floor, talking myself down from the threat of panic and hot tears, or wondering if it's foolish to make business plans when I don't know what the future months may hold.
You see, all of these things are true; none are diminished by any other. Part of my heart and soul work in this season - perhaps in this lifetime entirely - is the granting of permission to feel what I feel, wholly and deeply, no excuses, apologies or disclaimers. This means when I feel bliss, I'm all in. Heart petals unfurling, laughter bubbling up for no reason at all, soaking up joy like the California hillsides in spring. It also mean when fear or anger arises, I try to give them space, to ask what is the root issue is, if they just want to be seen, for me to ask in turn if they are helpful or even real. And if we're being honest, my optimistic personality finds this line of questioning terrifying, but I want to hear the whispers of my body and spirit, to sink ever deeper into my own truths. And so I name them.
I feel full, blessed, grateful, excited by what is to come, by what I am about on this earth, by the ripples of love and goodness and inspiration I seek to send out.
I recognize that there are cancerous cells in my body.
I allow that I am deeply sad for myself, for this wonderful physical home to my soul, for the sheer number of issues and hours and tears that are shed devoted to surviving, thriving and fighting cancer.
I acknowledge the hot lump in the back of my throat, the Perfectionist and the Curator who have worked so hard to keep me safe, who worry deeply about transparency and inadequacy and what will happen if.
I see my childself, still worried that I am unloveable all on my own, without a rallying cause or a continuous supply of beauty.
I accept that I am loved. Loved well, loved deeply.
I am committed and open to the fact that my soul is a supergiant, that my light is important, my message vital.
I believe I hold the power of radical transformation. That my body is capable of great healing and I am capable of writing my own manuscript.
Here is a truth:
I have been thinking about Grace. Not a genteel, sweet grace nor a delicate, demure grace. But a grace that sways like tongues of flame. A grace that ripples in sunlight but holds the power to flood the land and displace mountains we thought would always be. A grace unencumbered.
When my oncologist looks at me with those sad brown eyes and says "it's not working the way we hoped it would," I want to rise up and roar with the power of every ancestor who has fought for their life. Do you not see how strong I am? Let me tell you this: I am fucking stronger than you could ever guess. I am scrappy, surefooted. I am playing for keeps. Understand this strength, and then come back to me with your thoughts. For I am a warrior; this is my birthright and name. I have embraced the sword-wielding goddess and the legion of shield-sisters. Each month I am better equipped to face the obstacles that arise. I have been speaking with Death and we are clear: this is not yet my time.
But then I remember grace. And I see that all this blessed armor, built to keep me safe, is too heavy to leap. I realize this: strength has nothing to do with armor I've built and everything to do with how I choose to live. You see, I know it will be alright. I know I am on path. I know my life is a holy prayer of redemption and a series of glorious mistakes and child-like joy for no reason, all wrapped up into one. I know I must shed the next layer of that which no longer serves, and lean into the raw fleshiness of my own authenticity.
And so I ask my anger, I ask my fear, I ask my childself, I ask my ancient wisdom, I ask my hands and feet and heart and bones: What do you need? What can we lay down, burn down, release completely, release in droplets one at a time? I am willing to do the work. I am learning to do the rest. I am showing up, loosing the binds on my voice, ready to drip truth from my lips. And I am ready to leap, grace unencumbered.
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