Huge Tidal wave crashing onto the beach with man

Sunday. Day five after chemo.

First go round was felt right out of the gate at the time of infusion, which did not happen before. “Before”…..”that last time I did chemo….”

Maintained that steroidal frequency, the leaden stomach, the sharp olfactory twang of inhaling gasoline and the slightly metallic burn at the back of the throat that has a flavor to it. It tastes anxious.

Suspended in this for four days. Extra specific attention to breathing. Herceptin can damage your heart, so I imagine if I can breathe smoothly and efficiently it will protect the sac around my heart.

Sure, I can control this….

12f0b59f84ec03ee8672095ce6ba81ec

Strapping into the roller coaster, the anticipation, you begin the slow climb face tilted towards the sky. At the top you level off, and meander in a gentle horizontal serpentine, making your way towards the edge before you are hurled over the cliff. They give you time to contemplate and acknowledge that you have absolutely no control over the ride. You know what’s coming. Not exactly, but a rough outline.

I spend three days in this lit up, heightened, anticipatory state, but instead of going over the edge, the cart is returned to the start of the ride and comes to a halt. Psyche! The safety bar raises, I can stretch my legs, but not leave the area.

We will be boarding again in three days.

Never has stretching ones legs felt so satisfying…and tinged with dread…

11654c85457e0cb3993d6ada16d36b54

2017-04-26 12.55.34

Arrive at MISTI at 9:15 a.m. My mom drops me off on the street corner. I wave good bye and send her on her way.

I stroll into the Chemo Lounge and it’s like Cheers “Jodeen! Hi, how are you?!” The atmosphere is generally happy and there’s a lot of laughter. My ladies and I laugh a lot during my treatment.

My favorite woman who seems to be the head of the program is great. Chit chat, catch up, port access which involves plunging a needle thru the port into your body to then hook the tubing up to the bags of drugs. So many bags of drugs. All clear, unassuming. Could all be saline, But, oh no, they are not…

2017-04-26 12.54.41

You can do the drip in a space age bark o lounger or in a bed. I always choose a bed in a window bay. Sunlight pouring in and on this day followed by an epic rainstorm. My favorite.

Special wrist bands strapped to you which need to be scanned every time they change bags. Asking you each time “What is your name? What is your date of birth?”

Making sure they are giving you the proper cocktail.

Took well over an hour to actually get hooked up and then we were on our way. First thing, I take Tylenol to prime the pump. Two capsules.

First bag: Perjeta a new chemo drug for HER2-Positive breast cancer. On the drip for an hour. Occasional sensations of liquid nitrogen flowing through my veins. Softly, but pushing open the veins and capillaries. Making room for the drugs to flow through.

14ad991b4f9f5dfc3bbf79f98c511a3d

Second bag: Herceptin. Another chemo. Another hour drip. A slow motion swirly stirring of the depths. Ink added to water and watching it spread out and become dense, saturated.

A saline flush. A palate cleanser. The sorbet.

Then premeds before the Taxol, the heavy hitter.

A small bag of the steroid Dexamethazone which is used to control inflammation from the chemo drugs.

I have a low threshold for steroids, so I am on a super low dose, which I will gradually be weaned off of. Last time I did this I didn’t sleep for 3 days and ended up in the hospital. Dr. duly noted this…

The next bag is Pepcid to aid in curbing nausea that can accompany the chemo drugs. Then Benadryl. This all takes 45 minutes. The swirlyness infiltrating deeper in to the interior. The inside of your body is liquid and then you are also floating in liquid, but there is a thin glass wall that separates the two. Like an aquarium full of water resting inside a bigger aquarium full of water and you are having the experience of being in both tanks simultaneously.

63948b0a6402480b8ebd0a1f1295da82

A quick saline flush and then the Taxol for an hour and 10 minutes.

As the Taxol moves in the swirls feel heavier like sand or sediment instead of ink. Skin prickling ever so slightly. Hair gently raising and swaying on head and body.

19923a5dba1f3437590e5cb2b6099f4b

There is a moment where all of the colors in the room dial a couple of notches brighter, everything inanimate and mechanical in this room is breathing in as natural a way as trees and grass and animals.

Medical world no longer frightening. No longer “other”, just a different flavor of healing.

I invite the drugs in, asking them to do a deep cleaning. I will not fight them, but work with them. Allow and trust.

Finally six hours later I am sent home.

Note to self: Don’t ever eat hospital food. Call in a friend favor next time.

The rain has stopped and the light is spectacular. It would be under normal conditions, but in my current state it is almost too much to take in. So much beauty. The steroids have me rather hopped up, in a not unpleasant way. I do laundry, write, eat, go for a walk, pay bills, listening to music. The windows open and the rain pouring down, then the sun coming out. Again and again. This flow. It’s great actually. If only the whole experience could be like this…but I know the roller coaster is heading up the hill and eventually it will tip over the edge and then….I have no idea…

4922ec081019cc6cae35078d37f88b10

No projection. No anticipation This is s different cocktail. I am in a different place. It is a unique and new experience. Like it is for every single person and their how they walk through their life and the different challenges that are placed before them. Uniquely theirs, even as there is a level of understanding that we can glean from it.. The beauty of telling and sharing stories. To find insight and shared human experience.

Right now is all I know, and this is a really pleasant way to spend an evening.

One down. Eleven to go.

6dd4a0a5e7f7b41fa56d3b4ecf6a046e
“Aimeriez-vous achiever un verrou?” ” Would you like to buy a lock?”

My daughter and I look at each other puzzled and start laughing. We are walking from the Louvre to Shakespeare and Co. bookstore in Paris, on a gorgeous June day, and suddenly vendors everywhere are selling… padlocks.

Not Eiffel tower key chains or Victor Hugo action figures, but padlocks. With keys. Random…

Then we get to the Pont des Arts foot bridge and we see the reasoning. The entire expanse of the grating on this bridge is covered with padlocks sporting the names and initials of couples, embellished with hearts etc. Once the lock is put into place, the keys are thrown into the Seine, so that the lovers are forever bound. The “Love Bridge”.

My daughter swoons, “That’s so romantic.” It makes me shudder.

cd99b669fd473c24a5763a751f931a48

I am a deeply romantic person.  Madly in love with love. Love loves to love love. God knows I need that kind of fire in my life, but I am also realistic. I was married for 22 years. Then it ended. I have had other relationships in my life that ended too. Like they sometimes do. Not because they failed, but because they were done. Sometimes that choice was mine and sometimes not. No matter how emphatically you declare your love, you cannot promise that it will remain the same forever. That you can “lock” yourself to another human being. Chain them to you for all eternity. Control how that looks and behaves. That is a wild illusion.

2014-06-08 07.46.02

A couple of days later, we had dinner with some friends of ours and I asked what the story was behind the bridge. It was met with snorts of disgust from our hosts. It was not some romantic French fairy tale, but something that some tourist started a few years ago. Now it had become this crazy spectacle. But most intriguingly, the locks were changing the structure of the bridge…. the weight of the locks was destroying and weakening the bridge. Now there is a metaphor to end all metaphors.

I need another model. Marriage feels like a bizarre construct of play acting and conformity. The weight of the lock. A numbing sort of domestication and complacency. It feels inattentive. I know you are never supposed to say never, but I will say I have a hard time imagining ever, ever wanting to live with someone again, much less marry them. This does not mean that I do not love fiercely, with great devotion and cherish having someone in my life.

Polyamory feels like a weird new take on free love. It feels slippery and noncommittal. If you are just wishing to sleep with numerous people for sport and not get emotionally entangled, I can see how that could work. The idea of being one of many…”Monday, meatloaf with Marcia…Tuesday, that must mean it’s filet mingon night with Jodeen” does not fly with me. (Notice I did not say “two for taco Tuesdays”?)
If I am going to open my heart to someone, it is just for them, not to be an extra item on a menu. I need my relationship to be monogamous in all ways, and I will gladly do the same.

And….I love being alone. Really, dearly love being alone. I crave it much of the time. I love sleeping in my bed by myself, making snow angels in the sheets searching for the cool spot. Spending time with my friends, my family, my writing, my art projects, my books. In my home with my stuff. And…I think about the one I love all of the time when I am not with him. I miss him. I look forward to when we are reunited. That sweet ache. My time apart is not to keep myself “open to someone else”, but to keep myself available to ME. The “other” I seek is myself, and she seems to dissolve when I am in a relationship. This separation seems to keep her in tact and to also fan the flames of intention within the relationship.

This is very hot indeed.

“Love does not just sit there like a stone; it has to be made, like bread, remade all the time, made new.” -Ursula K. Le Guin-

So I want love in my life. Strong meaningful committed love. And I want my own life. Parallel lives, not a single track. I do not see that this is mutually exclusive. Some people can do that and be with someone all of the time. I cannot seem to do it.  I turn into a horrible version of me under those circumstances…and, yes, it is something that I am looking into, but.. perhaps, I am onto something healthier and more sustainable. At least for me.

So do I need to forfeit all together because it doesn’t look the way other people are doing it?

I don’t think so.

Love is a verb. An action. It is dynamic and changes all of the time. There is some magical sweet spot of committing and not being enslaved. Being willing to stick to something and knowing when it just isn’t healthy for anyone anymore. Longevity but not imprisonment. Total monogamy, not just “technical” monogamy. To have the courage to let someone go when it is the best possible thing for their soul, even if it breaks your heart. To love someone dearly, honestly, specifically and to know simultaneously that it can always change, on either end and to have the balls to do it anyway.

Let’s skip the locks and just jump into the river together and swim. Maybe that’s the key.

*Since I first posted this story, the locks have all been removed from the bridge. Smile.

b111b2d2fcaadab199cd331d0b2c63d6

ImageTulips are without a doubt my favorite flower, and I love all flowers. My birthday is in April so I feel an extra affinity for this jewel that blooms during this month. Just wanted to share some luscious pictures..ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

I have had a hard week. A very hard week.
It is Tuesday…..wow…..A very long and hard week.

This made my day.

She so preciously ties into my blog I wrote last week about the little girl dancing on the street corner.

I hope she gives you the same lift to your heart that she gave mine.

Spiritbath

View original post

Image

i had a really beautiful moment last saturday as i was walking down the street to go teach a yoga class. i was on 8th street, a corridor of shops and restaurants, and as i approached the corner, i saw a husband and wife and their very young daughter. she was maybe 2. dressed in her fuzzy petal pink leggings, a cropped soft wool coat, and the most impossibly tiny and stylish shoes. but the beauty of this image was that this tiny girl was stopped on the sidewalk, dancing. music was being piped out onto the street from the restaurant and she was peering into the air wondering where this music was coming from, and moving, bouncing, stomping, rocking and waving her arms. she was entranced and utterly engaged and unselfconscious.

Image

Image

so as wonderful as this scene was, the thing i loved the most was that her parents were letting her dance. they were not pulling on her arms and trying to hurry her to the destination, which is all too often the case. “no, we don’t have time for you to look at cars, or smell flowers, or pet dogs, or touch the rough wood, or the smooth wrought iron, or the warm stones or the cold water, or dance. we need to get to point B. NOW!” the only time in our lives when we are constantly delighted with the world around us and we are forever being pulled away from it’s magic. her parents did not do this. but smiled and laughed and danced with her. no hurry to move on. i stopped as i approached them and told them how they had made my day, and i told her to never stop dancing and being delighted by the world around her.

Image

i am a pretty magically engaged person in the world around me, but lately have felt that i have been forgetting that. missing that. this was such a sweet reminder of the magic that is always there. to listen for the music and dance like no one was watching you.

Image

as i went to teach class, i shared this story and asked that we find our playfulness and curiosity in our yoga. we do yoga because it feels good. because we want to delight in our bodies and in our senses, not because it is a punishment that has been foisted upon us. we need to remember that. each and every day. find the joy in your life and reacquaint yourself with your inner tiny dancer.

Image

I wanted to share this blog, from a site that I like very much. This post is really timely.
It is really fascinating to me the hold that new technology has on us, and by us, I mean me. I grew up with no answering machine, let alone a cell phone. I took long road trips, as a woman, alone, with no cell phone in my hand. If I went out and about in my life, I never wondered who might be calling me and just hearing the endless ring of my home telephone. My tethered land line with a curly cord… If you weren’t home, it meant you weren’t home, which meant you were doing something else.

I have only had a cell phone for 7 years. Only been using a computer for 9…More than half of my adult life was spent without these things, and now I never leave the room without my phone in my hand….What is up with that?
Having a cell is an incredible convenience. Where is my daughter? I am late at the studio. I am at the store, do we need anything? My car is broken down, please send help. My client can’t find my house or needs to cancel at the last minute.
It serves a definite purpose, but there needs to be some balance. I am so surprised and appalled at how it has taken over my life in so many ways. Need to recalibrate.

Oh, and I too have a Samsung Galaxy S5…..so sexy…..so hard to resist…

I wish you all the best with your divorce and hope you end up being better friends.

I have been quite taken as of late with images of flower x-rays. Last year my friend Heather, made an incredible encaustic piece for me commemorating my metamorphosis thru the cancer dance. She chose some x-ray images of flowers as a nod to the array of tests I underwent. I loved seeing the delicate “bones” of the flowers. The inner architecture, the scaffolding that supports from the inside. Remembering how fragile and beautiful and delicate this life is. Enjoy.

ImageImageImageImageImageImage

 

Image

I first came across the word “kintsukuroi” a few months ago in a blog that Tommy Rosen wrote. The pictures of these pieces of pottery were so beautiful, so much more interesting in every way. Not long after I read this article I had the first of several experiences that made me relate to this concept in my own way.

Image

Within a week, after reading this article, I was gifted a beautiful hand thrown mug by a client of mine who is a ceramicist. It is a vibrant burnt orange color, with glistening golden veins of lacquer running through it. It became my favorite coffee cup.

A few weeks later I was having an energy session with a friend and healer and we were discussing aging as women. She told me how beautiful and glowing I looked. (her words, not mine) She said, ” Although you look much younger than you are, I can see your strength and the wisdom of your years. I see your wrinkles, but your face glows as if the lines were filled with gold…”

Image

At Christmas, I received a most precious porcelain tea candle holder. A delicate lotus flower. Upon releasing it from it’s tissue wrapping, I discovered that a couple of petals had broken off. The woman who gave it to me was horrified, but I found it in keeping with a theme…

Image

Finally, a month ago, I knocked my new favorite cup over on my marble counter tops and the handle broke into three pieces. I could repair it, but not sure that I trust the handle would hold… best to just hold it firmly in my own two hands perhaps?

Image

If you break and repair a plate, or cup or bowl that has been broken, the surface area actually is larger wouldn’t you say? The glue adding more substance to fill the cracks.  A heart broken and reconstructed could conceivably hold more, albeit differently. 

Image

All of us are scarred and broken in some way. Mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually. Broken to different degrees, in varying numbers of pieces. I believe the defining factor in whether we will be stronger or be able to hold more in our beings is what we reach for to glue us back together.  My glues of choice are yoga and love. Not that too much wine or chocolate, or macaroni and cheese or sofa sessions of “Dexter” or “Breaking Bad” might not make it into the mix from time to time… But by and large my choices are healthy ones. That will make me resilient, not disconnected and closed. Wiser, but not suspicious and wary. May I always strive to repair myself with the honey of love, the liquid gold of my yoga practice.

 

Find your own golden lacquer and do your repair work mindfully, with attention to detail. And may we all find ourselves more beautiful for having been broken, with more to give. 

Image

“and we are so fragile

and our cracking bones make noise

and we are just

breakable, breakable, breakable girls and boys.”

-Ingrid Michaelson-

 

I worked long and hard on a Valentine’s Day posting and….it vanished as I was trying to publish it….hmmmm….

So I leave you with some sweet images and advise you to be loving to yourself first on this day. With every word, thought and action, ask yourself, “Would I treat someone I love like this?” Tend to yourself with your full love and attention, and then spill that out into the world.

Today, and every day. We will all be the better for it.     Love, Jodeen

 

ImageImageImageImageImage