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Archive for the ‘Spirituality’ Category

Those of you that have seen the Mary Poppins Returns movie might recognize this as one of the songs that Mary sings to the Banks’ children. Their mother has died and they are mourning her touch and love for them.

The song helps them to understand that their mother is not lost to them – she is in the stars, in the moon and most of all inside of them. And I am sure the parallel to my situation is not lost on anybody reading this.

I sobbed in the movie theater, I sobbed in the car on the way home, I sobbed when I told Steve about it, I sobbed when I told Victoria (she got teary too), I sobbed in bed last night and I am getting teary writing about this here.

This song feels like it pulls out my heart strings and leaves them dangling in the wind, raw and vulnerable, like laundry blowing on the washing line on a chilly, windy day.

But there is not much better than a good sob although it can feel exhausting and so painful in the moment. Today I feel better emotionally then I have in weeks. As I have written before, grief and the acknowledgement of it are so important to me in my journey. Giving it the space to come forth when it needs to and to honor and witness it are critical. Otherwise it sits inside me like a ‘cancer’, invading my other emotions, leading to depression, anxiety and a sort of passiveness/numbness about my whole ‘thing’.

The flood gates opened when they needed to and now I can again acknowledge the beauty in my situation (I get to be a star!!!) along with the pain.

Love to all,

Amanda xxx

P.S. Coincidentally, a friend posted on FB today an article by Thich Nhat Hanh that follows the same vein about our loved ones living inside us. Here is the link to the article if you want to check it out. https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/1195156-the-day-my-mother-died-i-wrote-in-my-journal

P.P.S. Even though I sobbed, I loved, loved, loved the movie!! Go see it 🙂

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Yesterday was my first IV Chemo treatment on the Cisplatin. Before the treatment, I met with the oncologist nurse practitioner, who I love. She gave me more details on my PET scan and like boobs, butts, stomach and those baggy things that hang down from the tops of arms as you get older (where do those suddenly appear from??), it seems that my cancer has done the same!!! The PET scan indicated no cancer this time in my neck, shoulders and the piece of my skull they scan. But it’s all collecting in my pelvis, hips, ilium and femurs. Oh joy!! This is causing pressure on my nerves thus the leg aches and pain. In order to combat this, she has given me Oxycodon.

Not only has she given it to me, I have taken it. I can hear a collective gasp from many of you out there!!! I decided that the pain was impacting my quality of life, stopping me from doing things I wanted to do and bringing me down, man. And it works, quite definitively. That’s not all – I now rattle as I walk, so you can hear me coming. The number of drugs to combat the extreme nausea that comes with cisplatin makes me feel like a walking pharmacy. And naturally, all these things cause constipation so then another load of things for that. Sigh 😦

But whether it’s my new BFF the Oxy, the steroids which I only take for three days but give me this strange to me sensation of having energy (!), or something else, I am feeling damn good. I recall about 20 years ago deciding that I wanted to feel free and liberated on the inside no matter what was happening in my external world. Not the way I had expected to get there but indeed today I feel it. I am learning to get out of my brain as much as I can and into my heart and soul. The wisdom that resides in these places is so deep and meaningful and the head can be a dangerous place as I am sure many of you appreciate.

Talking of heading South, am off to FL from 1/25 to 2/5. It’s just a Steve and me trip. We are going to Universal for a day as the bucket list includes Harry Potter World, then off to Clearwater to spend time with Steve’s parents and Mike and Ellen (Steve’s wonderful brother and wife) in the warm sun. Really looking forward to it and then off to Santa Fe at the beginning of March for my spiritual retreat. How did I ever have time to work?!?!

And finally, thank you for all the wonderful comments you post. I love feeling the love – makes me all warm and gooey on the inside like the best tasting warm chocolate chip cookies.

Amanda xx

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Mixed is the word to describe them. In some places the bone tumors have shrunk but in other places, primarily my hips and pelvis area, the tumors have grown. So all change again, this time to an IV chemotherapy drug that I have to ‘take’ every three weeks. For those medical minded peeps, it’s a platinum based drug that is specifically used for those with BRCA mutations. The best news is that apparently I won’t lose my hair, or only bits of it (hopefully little bits from all over, not just bits in one place!!).

I am doing surprisingly ok with the news. I think in my heart I knew this would be the result given the pain I’ve been getting in my ‘middle regions’. I spent all day yesterday lounging around, trying the news on for size and deciding how it fit me and me it. Still undecided but am definitely not living in my head, focusing on the worst today. I’ve come to terms with the journey to some extent even though it’s very jarring that no drugs seem to work for longer than three months, so far.

So that, my friends, is the lastest skinny – more to come.

Love to all,

Amanda xxxx

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Hope, I’ve discovered, is a funny old thing. Everyone believes I should be hopeful and to not be, would certainly leave me sitting in a dark, lonely space. But hope for what exactly??

I have learned that having hope for a specific outcome can cause anxiety and big emotional swings. I hope for good PET scan results but if those don’t come, then is my hope lost?? Hope that the next drug will work? Hope that I won’t lose my hair, or that the cancer hasn’t moved to my liver yet?? Hope in specific results, for me, is a roller coaster. Down I fly, wheeee, great scan results, hands waving in the air, feeling light and free. Up I trudge when the results are not good, trying to rediscover hope somewhere on the slog up the hill, just to wait for the next scan in three or four months, just to repeat the cycle.

So I mostly hope for other things now that are macro, not so micro. I hope that no matter what comes my way, I will be able to feel into the full depths of my emotions. I hope that I can continue to maintain some form of body strength and health this coming year so I can travel where I want. I hope that I will continue to wake up each morning and actively feel my breath in my lungs. And most of all, I hope that I can stay fully present to every precious moment of my life, wonderful or not, as that really is what it’s all about (along with the hokey pokey!!).

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I am SO excited. I feel like a kid on Christmas morning. My eldest daughter, Victoria, has agreed to a college visit palooza during April school vacation week. It’s not that she wants to go that has my heart a-singing, but the fact that she and I will be spending a whole week together doing so. She has her heart set on art school, so we are visiting Mass Art and SMFA in Boston, RISD in Rhode Island and NYU, Pratt and Parsons in New York. All that time in the car together – just yum, yum, yummy. And maybe she’ll even ask me my opinion on the colleges – even yummier because I always have a point of view and just love to share!

It’s such an interesting journey being a parent. When my girls were young, I sometimes hid in the bathroom to get some peace and quiet from the constant ‘Mom, look at me, look at me’ (Lisa, thinking of you!) and the ‘why’ to everything. And then the middle school and early high school years descend when they really don’t want to spend time with me, their friends being so much more important. Advice can be greeted with eye rolls and comments about me not understanding, as if my 54 years on this earth count for little to nothing. God only knows what they are learning from each other, thinking at 14 they have all the answers.

And then the most beautiful thing happens, they start to come back. At least that has been my experience with my eldest, Victoria. And now I can’t get enough of being with her. Beyond school, she works at Michael’s, takes art lessons, has a boyfriend, drives herself everywhere and is the independent person I wanted her to be. But spending uninterrupted time together is just so precious. I am watching this girl grow into a woman and I am just so proud of her and I feel so blessed that she is in my life. So given all that, we’ll probably fight and bicker the whole time, but you know what, I am determined to enjoy that, too!

And what of my return to work? I have very happily enjoyed my first three weeks. It’s been great to reconnect with everyone and the work I am doing is fun (am I allowed to say that about work?) and gets my mental juices going. I have felt very supported by my company and my new boss is just the most wonderful person I have ever, ever worked for (are you noting this, John for my mid-year review?!?!?!). Going to four days a week after Easter, adding Monday from home.

I am starting to feel quite excited that Spring is inevitable and yesterday I put on my new black with white polka dot wellies and headed out in to the garden to see what might be happening. Not much, to be truthful but sooner or later something has to grow!

Love to all,
Amanda

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About ten years ago, whilst prepping for a two day off-site I was facilitating on Connection, I discovered a great book called The Power of Full Engagement by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz. The concept that grabbed me is that we ought to be managing our energy, not our time. If we are to be fully engaged at work and ready to perform to the highest level of our potential, we need to pay attention to and nourish our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual energies.

For me, managing and balancing my energy is not limited to work but is fundamental to the way I approach my whole life. Whilst going through breast cancer this past year, the initial stages provided a focus on my physical well-being but once the plan was understood, my emotional and spiritual energies came in to focus and became the cornerstones of my ability to handle the journey with grace and faith, bringing me back to health.

Now that I am back in my second week at work, I have noticed my energy patterns shifting. My first week back, I was in full mental energy. My brain was engaged in a way it hadn’t been for a while and I felt like a normal out in the world person again as opposed to one on their way to being normal (whatever that is!!!). My physical energy was very low and each night when I got home, I collapsed in to bed to the delight of Lulu the cat who came and snuggled with me. This week, my physical energy is feeling stronger (thank you magic Chinese mushroom powder I got from my acupuncturist) and my mental energy is having a lot of fun!

But what of my emotional and spiritual energy? I have therapy each week and that more than takes care of keeping me in balance emotionally as my therapist is the best I ever had and I have seen quite a few over the years believe me!!! And spiritually? Today I went to the Healing Garden for a workshop that I have attended without fail during these past six months. As I was sitting in the beautiful space, humming, toning, ‘om’-ing, listening to healing music, my eyes filled with tears, my heart felt full, my soul expanded.

So I am making a public declaration. My life is here for me, it is mine to mold, to shape as best supports me and all aspects of my health and growth. I intend to ensure that all of my energy needs are met, that I get to be out in this world in the optimal place and space for ME. And that, along with belly-laughing at cat and goat gifs, is my recipe for a life well lived.

Love to all,
Amanda xxx

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Me drinking my morning smoothie before leaving:

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Me drinking my evening smoothie upon returning home:

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Actually it was a very good day. It was great to see everyone, had some lovely flowers waiting on my desk (thank you, Karen), got my computer working, sent a few e-mails, attended a meeting and then it was time to come home again! If only all days were so easy! And to add to it all, the trains were a little screwed up going in but coming home was fine.

Before leaving this morning, I shuffled my animal medicine cards, asking for a message for the day and out fell (or flew?) Eagle. I read the message from the book which is about taking heart and gathering courage, for the universe is presenting me with an opportunity to soar above the mundane levels of my life. Strange to get this when I am going back to work rather than on a grand adventure. But for me, the message resonated. I have learned a great deal about myself on this journey, about using my voice more clearly to express how I feel and what I want. About using my energy not take on other’s stuff and try to fix it for them, but to stay centered and grounded in my body. About using these techniques to give up my desire for external control of others and paradoxically finding more control within me. Being back at work provides me with a great big Petrie dish to practice my new found skills. So back again tomorrow to experiment all over again!

Thanks for all the support and well wishes for today,
Amanda xx

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