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I am UmberDove.

And by that, I mean an artist.  One who hears stories in the wind, who paints because it is what her soul tells her to do, who smiths because the muse moves through her fingertips, who loves nothing more than the promise of an unexplored trail, the sound of the ocean in her ears, and scent of a serious cup of coffee.


Postcards from the Other Side

Kelly Clark

The sky is soft with thinning clouds and the cool morning light.  I watch the edges of the plum branches find illumination, watch the songbirds and the corvidae bustling about.  I am learning how to breath.  Again. Right now at 36.  Finding the shallow places in my lungs where my ribs have fixed themselves in a stationary armor.

Dear bones. I know you are doing your very best to protect me.  You've held a steady shield, you've worked so hard to keep my tender organs safe in a world unpredictable.

I am learning how to yawn so wide my jaw crinkles and pops.  How to stretch open my lips without holding up a demure and apologetic hand.  To make a little noise, give a little volume, be a little inappropriate.

She told me those huge breaths, those monstrous yawns, are pivotal for loosening the fascia knit tight along the back of our throats and woven between our ribs.  Pivotal for moving the stuck energy that chokes our lungs with unanswered emotion and blocks true words from ever making it up to our tongues. 

I've been writing voraciously, filling notebooks I don't intent to be seen.  Writing my way through murky questions and sticky fears.  Writing concentric rings around old patterns, old beliefs, trying to align ever closer with the heart of self.  These last six months I've toed the line between the waking and dream worlds.  Stepping fluidly across barriers into the dark of the void, the space of visions and liminality, and back again into the tangible world of light and form.  No one enters this process and comes out unchanged.  I can't tell you quite what's shifted, but I know light has been shed on the deepest cracks in my foundation, unearthing shadows, illuminating bogs.  I don't know what this means yet, but I do know it's an opportunity to rewrite the ancient patterns that influence our actions from the shadows.

Four weeks ago I had my last chemotherapy infusion and truthfully, I'm still deep in the space of recovery: physically, mentally, emotionally.  Six months ago I agreed (with much pushback and trepidation) to chemo as a tandem treatment to a new clinical trial drug, one in the realm of gene therapy and encouraging new technologies.  One I wanted to try.  At the end of these six otherworldly months, the results came back... "Stable," as it was printed across the summary paperwork.  Not terrible, not great, and certainly not what I had been wishing for, but stable.  In truth, I didn't know where to land in those results.  I didn't know how to tell beloved friends and supporters that things were not "all better."  The perfectionist in me has long worried that anything short of "cured" must be a failure.  But I'm trying on the notion, like a sleek new coat, that perhaps the very fact that I'm alive after seven years of living with cancer is a great success in and of itself.  That perhaps, just perhaps, illness is not a failure of our own making.  And even though I would preach this as truth for every other soul out there, I had not granted myself the same grace.  What mountains might shake if I gifted myself the space to simply BE, to BE without striving, to move through the world without holding my breath waiting for "stable" to be replaced with some other less desirable word?

We had a talk recently about releasing versus drawing close.  The way not everything we wish to extract from our lives can be pushed out to the river, while we watch the water simply take it from us, bobbing and turning in the current until it's far from sight.  That sometimes we must consume a thing into the fire of our bellies, watch it burn clean until it stands revealed before us.  That sometimes the thing hiding under all that duff and detritus is a much younger version of ourselves, trying her damnedest to survive - even if it's all slippery sideways efforts.  And the last thing we want is to send her out alone into the vast dark of the sea. 

These are the thoughts filling pages in my journals.  These are the truths that sit side by side with a multitude of beautiful moments strung together every day.  

Here is what I know to be true this morning: sunshine and meditation may not cure all that ails you, but they certainly offer a gateway to deeply restorative moments of bliss.  Homemade sourdough raisin bread, fried in butter in a cast iron pan, tastes like heaven.  Spending time with a horse will bring you more solidly into full body presence than anything else I know.  The body wants to be asked for its opinions, its desires, and if we learn to listen deep in the belly, it always answers.   Your own dog always smells better than anyone else's dog - even when it's been too many weeks since their last bath.  When you are caught up in your head, move your feet.  And - please hear me loud and clear on this last one - self care is always the right choice.

Be well my birds.

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