Archives for posts with tag: health

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Okay, “tear out your hair” is a bit harsh. How about “let loose your hair”? Being a veteran of the chemo process, this being my second go round, I was familiar with the hair loss part of the show. I like this part. Really. I find it fascinating that your hair begins to come out of your head just by running your fingers through it. Bigger handfuls, bigger payoff. The last time I was obsessed with the process and left it out in my garden for birds and squirrels to make nests with. I loved this process of release, of re-purposing. Shedding your past.

It took till the third treatment round for the hair to begin to go. About three days in, you can actually gently pull small handfuls out. It is deeply satisfying, like peeling a perfect sheet of sunburned skin. I am allowing you to peer entirely too deep into my psyche….

After a few days of pulling and combing and shedding, I went to my hairfresser and had my head shaved. I kept a bag of hair and a dear friend of mine put it into an encaustic art piece that hangs in my living room. (See my blog, “ I am not like I was before” https://jodeenrevere.wordpress.com)

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So, as I geared up to fo through this second round, I was secretly thrilled to go through the hair release again. I wanted to have that experience first and then shave my head. I didn’t want to skip any of the parts, and, well, I like it. It appeals to my delight in the sensory. I scare my friends.

On the day of my third treatment it was the full moon and my hair had just begun to release its hold on my scalp the day before. Of course I played with it all day. Observing the color, the texture. The shine of the silver and grey strands, the auburn/brunettey blondness of the bulk of it. Later that night I was getting ready to go to bed, but realized I had not yet seen the full moon and thought I would wait to see it rise.

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It was a perfectly still and warm night, right before we got the 30 degree plummet two days later. I walked outside in my bare feet, padding down the block, watching her slow ascent between the roof lines of the houses and the leafy trees. Breathing deeply of the late spring to summer air. Breathing in the transition fullness. Making my way back to my yard I stood in the grass, feeling the pulse of the earth underneath me and stood still as the moon rose into view. You could almost hear it move through the night sky. As I stood there in the moonlight, all of my witchy DNA snapped to attention and I did the most obvious normal thing. I began to walk the perimeter of my house and mark every tree and shrub with strands of my hair. Combing my hands through, taking a small handful and the gentle tug and release as the hair came out. I draped it over the tree branches, tucked it into the bushes, sprinkled it on the ground and in the flower beds. “This is my home. This is my place of healing and rebirth. I willingly relinquish this way of being for something new, clear and expansive. I say “yes” to the unknown.” All the way around the house I walked, talking quietly to myself leaving a trail behind me. Gifts of me to the night.

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I felt shifted that night. Ready for the next phase. Two days later, before I could look like a Barbie doll who had her hair done by someones sadistic little brother, I went in and shaved my head. The sense of lightness. I felt the last 6 years of my life with all of the over extension, emotional exhaustion, relationship turmoil and not feeling quite right in my body, slide off of me in a pool at my feet. Yes, I have it in a bag in my room and it shall be released into the wild. Duh.

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In many mystical traditions hair is thought to be a source of a persons power and strength. The longer the hair the greater the power. It is an antennae towards the heavens, connection to the ancestors, and a testament to your past. There is a certain duality in that idea (always intriguing) both the cumulative wisdom and foundation that we develop during our lives that we carry with us, as well as the weight, trauma and habitual patterns we drag around with us, that are stored in our cellular body, that are stored in our tissue, our hair.

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As the hair fell to floor I felt the heaviness fall away. Saw my self emerge, my light brighter, even more hi-def (as if that is possible, apparently it is) Although I love my long hair and I do derive a sense of power, my femininity and my sexuality from that expression, shaving my head holds all of the same intensity but from a different perspective. The power of not being stuck in your past, not dragging everything forward, but shrugging off a heavy cloak and stepping out naked into the world on a fresh path. Your past has helped inform who you and will forever be an integral part of your makeup, and now, you can move forward making different inspired choices, not patterned responses. The antennae is turned inward to listen, not outward be told.

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What if my DNA are being rewired through the chemo and I am being enhanced, upgraded for an entirely new chapter of my life? “I am not like I was before”, and why would I want to be the same person I was six years ago, or 10, or 20 or 30 or…..? I am being challenged to shift, to adapt, to see what’s next. When I am complete with my treatment, I will not go back to how things were before. It will be even better, and my life was pretty great before. I don’t know what that is, but it will be fresh and expansive and I am ready to start anew with my sleek aerodynamic self.

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I know it sounds funny, but shavasana is an acquired taste. It develops over time and takes a great deal of practice to reap the rewards.

How can laying on your back with your eyes closed be hard work you say? Especially after a challenging yoga practice. But being still and quiet and not sleeping brings up a great many things for most people.

I have seen from time to time, people who will roll up their mats as the rest of us are getting ready to lay down at the end of class. True, sometimes people need to leave early and tip toe out. But still others seen no reason for staying, when the “workout” is over. “You are doing anything anymore, so just leave. It is a waste of time.”

I have seen those who fidget and fuss, eyes open, sighing loudly., and when it is time to begin to “bring awareness to your fingers and toes”, they have sprung up to a sitting position and are ready to bolt for the door.

For some people, if they are asked to just be still with themselves, that is the most terrifying thing they can imagine. That would mean you have to actually be present with yourself and see what sorts of things might float to the surface. Thoughts that are easily kept at bay with being “busy”. You cannot hit a moving target, so as long as we remain in constant motion we won’t have to look at ourselves and see what is there. Quiet is the enemy. Sitting with yourself for too long will be your undoing…

My own personal experience was not that, but something else. I would finish a class, covered in sweat and suddenly not have the actual practice to focus on anymore. So my mind would spiral back to the outside world and all of the people, situations and things that made me insane and stressed out of my mind. On occasion I would drop into shavasana, that utterly relaxing in between space, not awake, not asleep, and I would begin to feel so blissed out. But then, I would pull myself away from it and think “you are wasting your time here pretending that there is bliss to be experienced.  You are wasting precious time that you could be spending being pissed off and furious at how not o.k. Everything is! You almost fell for it. Just say “no” to shavasana.

So I began to lay there, sharply awake and use that time to mull over and retrace the laundry list of how I was being done wrong by the world and the stupid people in it. I began to look forward to this heightend time at the end of class to more finely hone my powers of discontent  and plot the demise of my enemies. Amazing…

Slowly, ever so slowly, I would have experiences of going deep, sometims falling asleep, but sometimes dropping into a true shavasana. I would be weightless floating in space and enjoying the silence and I would begin to hear a voice. I would think, “Who the hell is that? Is it God? Why are they talking? I really need them to be quiet because I am so blissed out right now….” then I would realize that it was the teacher, and that I was laying on a rubber mat in a room full of people and that I felt like I had been asleep for hours. Reality: 5 minures.

As this happened more often, I noticed that I felt less and less inclined to “hurry up and be upset again at the injustice of it all. Time is a wastin’!” Then I began to notice that I just didn’t get as worked up over stuff the way that I used to. I was spending more and more time in a yogic state. On and off of the mat. The peace found in yoga is our natural state of being, the world outside the mat is actually more of an illusion. A contrivance. The scales had tipped.

I refer to shavasana as a time to “marinate in the juice of the practice”. It is like pushing the “save” button on the computer. It seals it all in. And in that time the body, mind and spirit can rejuvenate, reboot, rewire. Yoga changes us and shavasana seals in the newly edited version. 

Shavasana is now my dear friend and a state that I can dip into whenever I need it. Whether I am laying on my  mat or not. That is a sweet and  useful life skill indeed.

 

over the years I have done many kinds of exercise. Aerobics and Jazzercize back in the stone age… ballet, modern dance, light weight training, gym workouts, mountain biking, running, walking, hiking, and the last 12 years, yoga has been at the forefront of my physical activity. In the last 6 years ecstatic dance (you, wildly dancing like no one is watching in a room full of people who are dancing like no one is watching them, and, no one is watching anyone else) in the last couple of years I have also been a regular at the Y and incorporated weight training, stairs and elliptical machines into my regime. In the last few months, BodyJam is the latest addition. BodyJam is a fantastically fun dance class where you learn dance moves and the choreography is built on section by section. The music is great and the moves very hip hop inspired. So I am now at the Y about 4 days a week, and am having a very different experience being in a gym atmosphere than I have ever had before in my life. I attribute my yoga practice to this shift.

In the past I had approached working out as something I needed to do to atone for the sins of my indulgences to radically alter my imperfect body into something thinner and hotter than it currently was.  It was a loaded masochistic exercise in feeling unsatisfied with myself and striving to attain something that was never realistic. At times it was obsessive. Weighing myself a couple of times a day. Not healthy at all and I think chances are good that a huge percent of people have this experience when they work out.

Fast forward to me after doing yoga for 12 years. I LOVE going to the gym. I do not see it as a task or grueling punishment that I must subject myself to. I focus on my breath, find a rhythm. Slow the movements down. Each move mindful and controlled. I delight in the strength of my body, the sweat and exertion, and I smile and laugh a lot in the process. I am curious as to what my body can do, how I can help it move with grace, build muscle and burn fat. Enjoying the workout itself rather than foucs on some nebulous end result.

It is very interesting to see how many people do not smile, nor even seem to enjoy any part of their workout experience. How uber serious people can be in dance class, or even yoga class for that matter. Sometimes I think yogis can be the most pious and humorless of all. I always try to remind people that we do yoga because we love the doing of it, not because someone held a gun to our head and made us go.

Find the joy, the playfulness, the curiosity.

Try something new: Dance, fencing, tai chi, zumba, kick boxing, yoga, ballroom dancing. Our bodies can fall into habitual ways of moving, so stir things up. That is good for your brain too.

Savor and luxuriate in the moving of your body and your breath.

Have fun, work hard, but keep yourself safe and don’t push too too much.

If you happen to take a class called Body Attack, please don’t take it literally…

Find an activity that you enjoy, not something you find torturous or you will never stick to it.

Don’t starve yourself, your body needs fuel. Make sure it gets the nutrients you need.

Be kind to yourself. No negative self talk, only encouraging words even if they are only in your head. Health comes from the inside out.

Finally, do it because you have your best interests at heart. If you don’t, who will?

on thursday november 14th , I went to the hospital and had my port removed. A port, is a device that is inserted under the skin, that the needle can be inserted directly into, rather than mess with your veins. Chemo can actually burn the veins (yikes!) and cause them to collapse… so the safer alternative is to install a port directly above your heart (?!?) where the toxic chemicals can be immediately and efficiently pumped through your whole body.   Mine was installed when I had my mastectomy, so when I woke up from surgery, there it was. My matrix borg port…being infused with the chemo kool aid…super sci-fi.   Apparently, they are not noticeable on most people, but I am leaner than most, so I looked like I was trying to smuggle a wire tap under my collarbone. Needles are never fun, but having one plunged into your chest every 3 weeks always mildly creeped me out to say the least. Then it becomes just a ritual that you are a part of, and now the day had come that I was to have the last invasive intruder removed from my body.  

I walked to the hospital as it was a beautiful day, and as we walked, I was overcome with the ride the last two years had been, and wept the whole way there. Thinking of all of the people who had surrounded me with love and then come and gone and moved on, and new troops to take their places. How all of the circumstances of my life had changed so dramatically, I hardly recognized it some days. Although I was not alone, it was my solo journey. My experience exclusively.

As I checked into the hospital, I realized this was my 3rd time there. I was even put in the same curtained cubicle to wait to be wheeled to surgery, with someone new beside me, but this time I was to be wide awake. It was a 15 minute procedure, so local anesthetic only and then I would go home….so wild. My crew came to get me and I was wheeled thru the labryinth of the hospital urging them to run faster so that we could get some speed in those long hallways. We entered the operating room, which has the climate of a walk in freezer, brightly lit, no mirrors on the ceilings and a super festive atmosphere. I was wrapped in the obiquitous warm blankets ( my favorite thing about all of my hospital time) and asked what kind of music I wanted to listen to on the pandora station. Someone had just sent me this amazing youtube clip of this woman dancing in the OR before she had a double mastectomy.http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/06/breast-cancer-flash-mob-deborah-cohan_n_4227915.html

I mentioned it to the doctors, and they said if they had known before I had been prepped, they would have let me dance first!….as a concellation I listened to Beyonce’s “get me bodied” as they did the minor surgery. Hard for me to keep still. So cool to be awake in the OR, but my face was draped during the procedure, so I still don’t really know what goes on in there, they said they would have to kill me if I saw anything..so it ended up being a positive, upbeat and party like atmosphere. I requested one other song (Aural Float)  and then I took my port in a ziplock… ( I asked to keep it) and was taken to lunch at Bittercreek and then home. Done. Only the tiniest scar. Barely noticeable.  Then I crashed hard. Slept. Was taken care of and let it sink in that this part was over. Actually, all of it was over. It was a new time. A new place. A new life. Not like it was before. At all. No more doctors appointments, treatments, ct scans, mri’s, exrays, ultrasounds, emotional collapses from the fall out of chemo ( a separate blog…) just living and moving forward. May I not have to do this again, but if I do, I will, and I will know the drill. Now to be in this new place because of where cancer took me and yet not identifying myself as “a cancer girl” either. Living with an awareness, but not a fear. Being healthy and conscious with my eating, but not paranoid. Today is New Years eve, and a new untouched canvas lays before me. The brushes are already swirling in the paint…  

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(above artwork and poetry by heather bauer)

“this look of sorrow as she walked among the fires – it was familiar to him – he had felt that way when he was younger. how to talk about it, how to talk about such things. when he was a boy he was happy when the men arrived (the men who drove the horses to the land and would work in the orchards) and in a way wanted them to stay forever – but he was also anxious that they had arrived and he was no longer alone. the sorrow came from those two feelings – the happiness of company and the anxiety of interrupted solitude.”

-from the novel “the orchardist” by Amanda coplin

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I love being by myself. eating meals at home or in restaurants. solo. taking myself out for a glass of wine, go to a movie, a play, a party. alone and with no wish to meet someone or run into any one. just taking in the event with no distractions. a bike ride, a hike. I love to travel by myself, take long drives and even road trips alone. or just sit silently on my couch gazing out the window listening to myself breathe. I can do all of those things blissfully alone and never, ever feel awkward. at all. I love that. a lot.

it is the one down side of having someone in your life, you are no longer alone as much and trying to maintain that delicate balance between happiness for the company and the anxiety of interrupted solitude, is rather tricky at times.

being in a room with the door closed with someone else in the house is not the same as being alone in your house. not even close. sometimes there is a precious sweetness to that proximity and sometimes not… i was married once and lived with 2 men at other times in my life. I cannot ever imagine myself living with someone again.

I realize that I want it all, and that is just how I roll. I love my solitude, my freedom, my space, my home, my schedule, me being in control of everything…yes, I said it. “me being in control of everything.” you can quote me on that.

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I am also an incredibly social, friendly, loving creature who has a lot of friends. real friends, not Facebook friends. friends who I give my time and attention to and look them in the eyes and hold their hands when we talk. i have coffee, and lunch, and make meals and share wine and trade body work and watch their children, and return phone calls in the middle of the night. my daughter is the center of my world, and when she is with me, I orchestrate my life to put her first. my mother lives 6 blocks away, we have a standing date night every Tuesday and talk everyday and see each other almost as often. my father and brother have been more in my communication loop than ever before.

I am also a yoga teacher and massage therapist. I take those interactions with students and clients very much to heart. more tending of others. I do an incredible amount of tending of others…

I also desire deep connection with someone significant. not because I am afraid to be alone, but because I love BIG and that is a waste to not share it with someone deserving of that. love loves to love love. we want to be desired and petted and loved and adored and seen and heard and witnessed in a way that actually means something, with someone who really means it.

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and then….i want to be alone. and miss them all. and think about them. and feel that tug of longing. and while I am feeling so delighted to have so much love in my life, from so many different sources, i am sweeping my floors, changing the sheets on my bed, burning sage, arranging flowers in vases, plumping pillows, reading books, listening to music, writing blogs, petting cats, cooking meals, and folding laundry, taking dance and yoga classes, laughing with my daughter, watching movies, tending to myself, nurturing my soul. and yes, probably on some level, feeling safer and more in control because it is just my space. and I like it that way very much thank you.

it is my beautiful selfish gift to myself, and i am all the more for it. everyone wins.

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“when he was gone the place took on a delicious strangeness, she often felt she was looking at things for the first time.

there was a  certain uncanniness angeline felt in opening her closet in the morning. her oatmeal dress hanging in the space on it’s hanger, her workboots leaning against each other on the porch. the narrow bed with it’s purple red and green quilt, the bedside table with it’s jar of rocks, piled books. the porcelain basin where she washed her face. the apricot orchard, the buzzing bees like a haze in the spring. the barn, the smell of hay and manure and grease and old leather. the sun streaming through the slats. the mules nose in her palm.

being alone, she was able to see each thing more clearly. although there was fear in solitude, somehow, this only made things sharper. it could not be sustained, this solitude, this level of sensitivity, but for the short time that he was away it was glorious.

it was a great gift to herself.”

-from “the orchardist”-

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two years ago last Sunday I was told that I had breast cancer. one year ago today, I had a mastectomy. and now on this same day, my dear sweet friend Carolyn, who spend a week with me after my surgery, feeding and taking care of me,  is having a service for her father who passed a week ago from cancer. and the wheel turns…

incredible how all of my stuff seems like life times ago. multiple life times ago, not just a calendar year.

have been reflecting on all of the change that has come for myself and those around me. it all feels fast forwarded and like it is picking up speed…keep wanting to say, “stop! can I just catch my breath for a minute? just WAIT please before anything else happens in my life…”

when I gave birth to my daughter it felt like that. the relentless, endless contractions. I was sure that if they would just stop and I could sleep for a couple of hours and then we could get back to it, and then I was sure that I would be able to give birth, no problem.  but to quote a friend of mine, “be ready. like life. once it starts it doesn’t stop….” 

a surgery. the ravages of chemo. healing. moving. reunited with a brother I had not seen in 15 years and feeling out that relationship as advanced adults. babies born to friends and new ones on the way. relationships I thought would always be there, shifting and drifting. some that had been periferal, being pulled to the forefront. climbing out of serious financial stress. losing clients I had depended on for a long time, other opportunities slowly manifesting. leaving a yoga studio I have been with since it’s doors opened and building my student base at 2 others. both of my parents with serious health issues I learned of within the same week. watching my parents get frail. watching my daughter move into her senior year in high school. college apps, financial aid paperwork, class schedules for the year. teaching thai massage trainings. exploring acro yoga with a dear friend who has been in town all summer. his third summer he has been here for. celebrating his birthday on the river. my daughter getting strep and having all 4 wisdom teeth out in less than 10 days. having most unexpected healing love appear in my life. 

the full spectrum of living, ever in play. there is nothing unique about my experience. this is being played out everywhere on the globe by everyone. birth and death, grief and love, change and possibility. relationships ending and beginning.  old ways of living and being, blown apart at the seams. hands forced to incite healthy change. second chances at a new life and sometimes just the inevitability that that life is ending and all you can do is make peace, give thanks and exit with as much grace as possible. nothing unique. it is a shared universal human experience. but by sharing, we all take a breath and say, “yes, I know that. I am not alone and we are all Alive.” 

I love you my friend Carolyn and you are not alone and I am so very sorry for your loss. I am so sorry that I cannot be there with you right now. He was such a beautiful dear man. It was a treat to spend time with him. You two were so blessed to have each other. You will always feel him with you.

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there is really nothing in the world quite like receiving a 2-3 hour thai massage. the only other activity that comes close requires that you be naked, and in thai massage no one is naked. well, when I do thai massage, no one is naked, and I can only speak from my experience…

 a longer in depth session is so utterly transformative, so why don’t I do this more often? this was what was running through my mind as I lay there with my eyes rolled into the back of my head, my cheek in a pool of my own drool, one leg lifted at an impossible angle behind me that somehow made me feel that I had been de-boned. in a really good way.

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I had received the phone call on Friday night. a fellow thai practitioner from the sun valley area was in town taking clients. he had some openings and did I finally want to make the trade happen that we had been trying to orchestrate for the last 5 years. yes. the answer would be “yes”. as luck would have it, I got to go first.

thai massage is an ancient healing art form that combines traditional massage, energy work, acupressure, focused breathing, deep twisting and stretching. the recipient wears loose comfortable clothing and the session is conducted on a mat on the floor, as opposed to a table. 

a standard thai session is 90 minutes in length, and generally just seen as a starting point.  2-2 ½, 3 hour or even longer sessions are encouraged and there is no such thing as a one hour thai massage. that would just be, well, stupid. profoundly teasing and utterly unsatisfying. 

I was assuming we had 90 minutess, but it ended up being 2 and 1/2.  as always happens with body work, time becomes rather slippery. first off, it is always a challenge to move out of practitioner mode and stay in receiver mode. the first 20 minutes, you want to keep popping up and opening your eyes and saying, “ok, wait a minute! that is so fantastic, how are you doing that? is that your knee or your elbow? can you walk me through how to do that? “ you just have to let that go to the side and purely open up to receiving the work and not try and figure it out.

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i think that it is crucial for body workers to receive body work on a regular basis, but it feels especially important for thai body workers. the work is such a dance with the recipient, when you receive it makes you more aware of the power of the movement on your partner. sometimes we forget how intense a particular move is if we have not had it done to us in a long time.

also, there are so many different lineages and teachers of thai work, every time I get  worked on, I learn something I did not know, experience a move I had never known about, and get to experience the free flowing jazz aspect of how that practitioner works their craft.

I know people who say, “ I could never be still for that long. wouldn’t that be boring?” short answer, “NO!!!” it takes a person awhile to drop into an open space to receive. so often a massage consists of serious damage control. the client has not had body work in a long time. so the entire session is spent trying to put things back together. that base line has to be in place before you can begin to go deeper, down another layer or two or three and start some deep shifting and healing. a longer session allows that space to open up and that’s when it gets interesting.

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my session with gregory was really amazing. ranks up there as one of the best sessions I have ever received. at one point after he had finished working the whole right side of my body and it felt as it it were made of feathers, while the left felt like lead. soon I was completely light as a feather and utterly grounded. that is a beautiful combination.

the next day I worked on him, and again I marveled at how much I love this work. that it is as satisfying to give as it is to receive. (o.k. maybe it is a bit more fun to receive it, but pretty close)  to watch someone let go and feel the tension leave their being. watch their face completely shift. see the light come back into their eyes. 

receiving body work of any kind, at the very least puts us back in touch with our bodies. ideally, it does that and connects our hearts, minds and spirits as well. and if we are willing to open up to it, heal old traumas and allow us to start fresh. imagine the world if everyone experienced massage as a constant regular diet in their lives? food, water, shelter, massage, love. check. so do your part to make this a wonderful world and have some body work done. I know someone you can call…

“move without effort, without pain

feel your cocoon crack open wide as

the spaces between your bones

become windows instead of dead bolts

your soul opens to a sense of awe and gratitude

breathe with your own lungs

feel with your own heart

shake out the sheets of memories and darkness

take one step closer to healing

one step closer to feeling at peace

and at home in your own body.

 come home.

-a description of receiving a thai massage session with me from heather bauer-

all photos of jodeen and eric wallace courtesy of anne cirillo

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“just like a white winged dove sings a song it sounds like she’s singing…whoo, whoo, whoo….”  I do my very best stevie nicks impersonation and baby dove seems very impressed. maybe not, but then she’s not speaking since she’s just a baby, so who knows what she really thinks….she is at my mercy.

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I just love an audience, and babies are a captive one, so it works well for everyone. as you may remember I have mondays with dove, and this last time my daughter lily was with me as well. lily and I love to sing together, and we do every chance we get, so we were excited to share our sweet singing skills with dove. we sang many different songs, but our rendition of “bohemian rhapsody” complete with me doing guitar solo sound effects, might be my favorite number. good times.

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I had missed a couple of weeks of dove time, due to travel, packing, etc, and so I was amazed to see how much she had grown and changed. babies are like stop motion photography in how quickly they shift. I remember putting lily down for a nap and going in an hour later and her not looking at all like the baby I laid down before. as if a changeling had been left in her place. total morphing. she slept in a laundry basket next to our bed for the first couple of weeks ( I did not have a basket made of reeds and rushes, so the next best thing…) one night she was screaming bloody murder and when I reached down to pick her up, I discovered that she was wedged in head to toe and couldn’t move in the basket. she had outgrown it that fast. yesterday it was fine. today not.

I have been observing as of late that our human lives  are bookended in these polar opposite accelerations. babies growing up by leaps and bounds, in a visible way, on a daily basis. then we hit a place where it seems like we just stay the same and are impervious to any outside change and the future seems far away and aging seems like an impossibility. and then all of the sudden, the stop motion picks up again. every time I look in the mirror, I see another line, a new potential jowl, a spider vein, an age spot. my supple skin has a grainy texture that no amount of water consumed can plump up.

I feel strong and supple and fit and sexy, (actually more so than ever before) but when I catch a glimpse in the mirror it doesn’t line up. there is a middle aged woman looking back at me. well past middle aged. I am 51 and seriously doubt I will live to be 100.

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I know we are supposed to believe that we are all the same and that any idea that you are different or special signals the early warning signs of being a sociopath, but we are not all the same. every one is different and special and uniquely themselves, but even within that context some people gravitate to be part of a collective herd. I just never have. it has never been the case and keeps becoming more defined as I get older. getting older by the minute. the aarp crowd, no offense, but you are not my people…

sometimes I wonder how much has been fast forwarded by the cancer dance of the last two years. chemo ravages you, literally from the inside out and then just the experience of making your way through a cancer diagnosis forever changes you. but I feel an interesting mixture of deep strength and peace as well as a poignant poise in my life. it is happening now, and now, and now, and right now….and can I bring all of me to each moment.

I always knew I only would have one child. only wanted one child. very clear on that. after lily was born in was even more pronounced. the very idea of having another child felt like I was being unfaithful to her. how could I possibly take away any time from her for another? so because of that, there was this incredible heightened poignancy to everything in her life. “ this is the first and last time I will ever experience this moment as a mother.” over and over again. the thrill and the sad ache of knowing it would never be again.

our lives are like that too, we just don’t really understand that, until something catastrophic comes into play. then you really get that this is not a dress rehearsal. so instead of striving for perfection and planning your ideal future, go for sheer whole heartedness. not wreckless abandon, but fully engaged involvement with what feels impeccably true and right. right now and right now and right now. and know that those things will change, because they always do. the only thing you can ever count on is change and that is a hard one to swallow at times. you want so desperately to be able to depend on something, on someone.  the basket fit yesterday, today it does not… we want so much more guarantee than that, and there is none.

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the clock is ticking…live. live beautifully. drink in the day.

”tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” – mary oliver-

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If the young, hot, ethereal lana del ray asks this question, imagine how much more so I might. o.k., so beautiful might be a bit much in my case: interesting, distinguished, cute, sometimes adorable, attractive maybe. beautiful is debatable, young is pretty straight forward and impossible to get around. you either are or you aren’t.

 

this all started with a horrible betrayal from my mother. well, actually, my grandmother started it, well, maybe my great grandmother, probably farther back than that…..she got old, you see. and in her doing so, it just goes to show that I will too. and that sucks. I am sort of half kidding about this, and kind of not

I am observing myself and finding a lot of surprising fear and judgment around the topic of aging. also discovering this utterly childish fantasy that I have always carried with me. on some level I have always imagined that one day, my mother and father and my grandparents and I would all be 35 together. all of us as peers. the same age and able to all be in the same place at the same time and discuss the choices we made, and our dreams and hopes and fears and we would all be equal. a level playing field. and then no one would get old or die and we would all just be in this place together. ridiculous, I know…

so instead, when I see these people aging, or dying, it seems like they are not playing by the rules. I feel betrayed, they are giving up. they are not trying hard enough to be, well….young. vital. and that somehow by default it means that I cannot control the aging/dying process either. this disturbs me greatly some days. makes me feel that my powers as a time lord are weak and ineffectual. and then, I imagine my daughter looking at me with the same disappointment, and perhaps , anger, realizing that she too will get old one day, because I could not stop the hands of time for her… or make her a vampire… same thing.

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we live in a society where all that is desired, coveted and appreciated is young, surgically enhanced and airbrushed. or, old, surgically enhanced and airbrushed.

so, actually as I breathe into this space with the question, “will you still love me when I am no longer young and beautiful?” perhaps this question is not directed at some outside person at all, but at myself. will I still love me when I am no longer young and beautiful? which is NOW. can I forgive myself for aging? can I embrace my wisdom, grace, fire, fierce passion, loving heart and my lined face? and can I simultaneously stand strong in knowing that aging does not mean deteriorating, failing, frailty, loss of vitality, being stuck in the past, no longer curious, sharp, physical or sexual. in fact, it is an amazing opportunity to write your own future. to be your own time lord. because time is made up of “wibbly wobbly timey wimey stuff.” (thank you dr.) stuff for us to create something new with. 

I have two slips of paper with sentences written on them on my altar in my bedroom and they say:

“love is not as difficult as you think” and “you will be different”.

i have taken them both seriously to heart as of late. i realize that i will not live forever, i will age and eventually die, but in the meantime i will fill my life with love and i will be different. and that difference, (and yoga) will keep me young and beautiful on the inside for the rest of my life. and that brings me happiness. and, for right now, i look really great in a pair of booty shorts…